Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Capitalist sooth-Sayers finally admit: "This is no 'garden variety' downturn"

The capitalist sooth-Sayers have finally acknowledged what most working people knew long ago, "This is no 'garden variety' recession."

For once we get an once of truth with the tons of lies from the Wall Street government passing itself off as the "world's greatest democracy."

The associated press reported:

The raft of grim economic news prompted Sandra Pianalto, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, to say in a speech Friday that the data to date "tells me that the economy is now in a recession."

"At the moment, the signs point to a recession beyond just a 'garden variety' downturn," she said. "The length and severity of the recession will depend on how quickly credit markets return to normal."

How can credit markets be returned to "normal" by loaning more money to banks and businesses that can't even pay back what they owe because between the Wall Street coupon clippers and the crooked and corrupt CEO's who looted their own businesses and banks, they failed in the first place?

What is really mind-boggling is that the Wall Street bankers remain in charge of trying to solve this problem.

A problem they are still trying to tell us stems from problems relating to credit... on top of telling us the problem stems from a credit crisis (which is an outright lie) these bankers are telling us they intend to solve this problem by making it easier for those who cannot now repay loans to get even bigger loans!

Does anyone really believe a credit crisis which is claimed to be responsible for plunging the world economy into what is "not your typical 'garden variety' downturn" is going to be cured by providing further credit at tax-payer expense to failing banks and industries?

If anyone really believes this, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn I would like to sell you.

Even though the capitalist sooth-Sayers have gotten around to admitting this isn't your "garden variety downturn," these capitalist sooth-Sayers cannot get the word "depression" off their tongues and through their lips because the word "depression" is an admission that the capitalist system has failed and the economy is in a complete shambles with none of these blowhards knowing what to do to solve the problem.

This is no problem of failure of "economic philosophies" as Barack Obama claims. This is a failure of the system... economic depressions are part and parcel of the capitalist economic system--- one of the primary reasons the system needs to be replaced with socialism.

We are now supposed to trust Barack Obama and a bunch of dumb donkeys to be able to get us out of this "not your typical 'garden variety' downturn" when they haven't even been able to stop wars that they never should have allowed to start... and, they turn to the very Republicans who got us into the wars and lied about the state of the economy the same way they lied about the wars... with Colin Powell deciding to lie about the economy to make amends for telling lies that led our country into wars for oil and dope. And this is what we are supposed to accept in the name of bi-partisan unity...

These greedy parasites really expect working people to grab a six pack, settle into the easy chair and watch the Super Bowl.

There are solutions to be found for the depression we are in... an economic depression from which there is no way out if the capitalist road is taken because capitalism is on the skids to oblivion and as long as we remain on this road we are on the road to perdition.

As working people we have some serious choices to make.

Do we allow the Wall Street coupon clippers of the military-financial-industrial complex to continue to do our thinking for us and drag us along down the road to perdition? Or, do we say, "Enough!"

The country is going to hell in a hand-basket and the only solution these people can think of is to give the same banks and industries that have already robbed us blind more credit at our expense... isn't it nice they continue to be so generous with our tax-dollars and the wealth we have created?

It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that funneling the wealth of our country to the greedy few will only intensify already serious problems that only the redistribution of wealth to the working class can begin to address.

After all, we are talking about the wealth we have created which has been stolen from us by the Wall Street crowd in the first place.

There is only one course of action that will get us out of this mess.

We need to consider an anti-capitalist, socialist course of action.

George Bush begged the G-20 governments not to give up on capitalism simply because there are a few problems for a "couple of months."

Bush's lies are going to continue without let-up right to the end and even his capitalist partners from around the world are not buying into his "couple months of economic problems" scenario.

Every course of action we allow these dumb donkeys and dumb clucks to take in the name of "bi-partisan unity" will plunge our nation and the world deeper and deeper into crisis which we all know means more human misery; as if we haven't had enough the last two-hundred years.

Below are some suggestions; read it over and talk with your family, friends, neighbors and fellow workers:

There is broad consensus among labor unions and progressive organizations, economists and politicians that we need a bottom-up solution to the economic crisis. That is, the priority should be fixing Main Street, not Wall Street. The main immediate proposals include:

1) A moratorium on home foreclosures, and giving bankruptcy courts the power to renegotiate mortgages.

2) Extend unemployment benefits and increase funding for food stamps, heating assistance, and other survival programs for the duration of this economic depression.

3) Aid to state and local governments so they can avoid layoffs and reductions in vital services.

4) Rebuilding the infrastructure of America: clean energy, roads, bridges, water systems, schools, and housing, providing good-paying jobs.

5) Increase the minimum wage to a real living wage based upon the calculations of the United States Department of Labor and its Bureau of Labor Statistics with the minimum wage legislatively mandated to be continually adjusted based upon all--- and real--- cost of living factors.

6) Forgive student loan debts.

7) Forgive all health care related debt and implement socialized health care.

8) Save jobs through public ownership of closing plants and nationalization of failed industries. What tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own.

9) Drastically slash the military budget and reorder priorities to meet human needs. The military-financial-industrial complex has robbed society of the resources needed to create a decent quality of life for all people.

Bailing out Wall Street without fixing Main Street is like fixing the cracks in the wall while your foundation is crumbling. The measures listed above, as well as more basic changes, are necessary. But with more than 100,000 families losing their homes each month, I would like to focus on one critical part of the foundation -- stopping foreclosures and keeping families in their homes.

The root of the crisis is that working families have been squeezed from all sides, especially since the recession of 2001. Household income has been falling behind the increasing cost of necessities. The squeeze has been aggravated by the decline of medical coverage and retirement plans, shifting these costs, along with soaring costs for education, food and energy, onto over-strained family budgets.

Many have dealt with this strain by going into debt. They were pushed deeper by the mortgage brokers, real estate agents, appraisers, and credit card vendors, who piled on fees, charges, and hidden interest rates, often based on wildly inflated housing prices. Even when this debt was not the result of outright fraud and conspiracy by the financial and real estate industries, it was in violation of any reasonable banking standards. Financial institutions, staffed by MBAs, PhDs and other highly-trained experts, made loans that no first-year economics student should have approved.

The immediate cause of the financial crisis on Wall Street is this mountain of debt smothering people on Main Street. In simplified form, here is what happens.

● Hard-pressed families fall behind on their mortgage and credit card payments.

● When homeowners can't make payments, the banks foreclose, but the home frequently stands empty and the bank is unable to recover much of the outstanding loan.

● The bank, with less money coming in, has trouble paying other banks and investors that it borrowed money from.

● Those other banks and investors have trouble paying banks and investors they borrowed from.

● Banks, investors, and ordinary businesses are afraid to lend money to other banks, investors and ordinary businesses.

Families owe more on their mortgages and their credit cards than they can ever pay back. Add to this the incredible massive student loan debt and unpaid medical bills. The efforts of working class families to save their homes and meet creditors' demands is undermining their families, their neighborhoods and the local economy, as family members work multiple jobs and cut back on health care, local purchases, local taxes, utilities, and home maintenance while the robbery at the pumps continues and every trip to the grocery store finds rising prices.

The bailout package just approved by Congress doesn't address this problem at all. Homeowners and consumers still have the same debt, still face the same monthly payments. The only change is that the U.S. government has become a collection agent for the banks and investors.

The solution is to reduce the amount that working people owe. Reduce homeowners' and consumers' debt to the level it would be at if reasonable lending standards had been applied in the first place. Conservative practice is that families should pay no more than 25 percent of their income for housing. So a people's bailout plan would mandate that mortgages be reduced so that monthly payments will be 25 percent of household income. But in no case should the debt be for more than the real value of the house, as determined by historical price levels adjusted for inflation. Credit card debt, second mortgages, and home improvement loans, college loans, and medical debt could also be adjusted by similar calculations, to a maximum of 10 percent of household income.

This would not cost the government a penny -- it would force banks and investors to recognize the losses resulting from their own bad judgment and fraudulent practices. Millions of people would still be in their homes, and neighborhoods and local tax bases would be stabilized. And the financial system would be more stable because the banks could now be confident of receiving a steady stream of payments, even though these payments would be less than what they originally expected.

The proposals to revive the economy, listed at the beginning of this article, should still be adopted. The economic stimulus package that was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster a few weeks ago included some of those provisions. And major reform and regulation of the financial industry is necessary; there are some excellent proposals to take over failing banks, regulate the financial industry, and tax financial transactions and exorbitant compensation to control speculation and help pay for the program. But until we clear up the massive, unfair, and often illegal debt that has been fastened on working families, it will act as an anchor dragging down the economy, and Main Street will be haunted by insecurity and misery.

Democratic leaders in Congress had a number of proposals that would have reduced the amount families owe on their mortgages. They were blocked by the Republicans, who don't support any meaningful relief for homeowners.

During the vice presidential debate, Senator Biden expressed support for bankruptcy reform to reduce the amount owed by homeowners, and said that he thought that McCain opposed it. Governor Palin said that Biden was wrong, implying that McCain also supports the measure, and said that McCain is on the side of the people against “the greed and corruption on Wall Street.”

There is a simple test to see if Palin's claim has any substance. Will McCain show leadership and bipartisanship by proposing that Senators Obama and Biden join him in pushing to pass this bankruptcy legislation immediately? The proposal was killed in the Senate last April after encountering “stiff opposition from many Republicans as well as the banking and mortgage loan industries,” according to the New York Times. (April 4, 2008) But with McCain's backing, there should be no problem getting this legislation through Congress now.

Wall Street bankers, financiers and industrialist profited; the working class has been left with the misery and the problems.

Write Barack Obama; tell him you support these measures:


Other suggestions:

* Print and Post this on bulletin boards in union halls, community centers, schools, churches on refrigerators.

* Give a copy to your friends and neighbors.

* Talk to local, state and federal public officials--- after talking to enough dumb clucks and dumb donkeys you might get lucky and come across someone reasonably intelligent. Finding a politician caring and compassionate to stand up and take action is another matter.

* Organize demonstrations and picket lines to call attention to the problem and the solution.

* Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, newsletters, and post a link to this on your blog or web site.

* We need to begin building grassroots and rank-and-file committees and organizations in every neighborhood, school and place of employment to begin putting together a massive all-people's united front type coalition so we have the strength and the power to stand up to these Wall Street parasites and vultures.

Just as this is no "garden variety recession," the web of control and corruption that has been spun by the military-financial-industrial complex is not your "garden variety" spider web erected to catch "garden variety" prey... YOU are the target, WE all are the prey.

State-monopoly capitalism has spun a powerful web of corruption and control, and it is going to require one heck of a fight and struggle to set us free.

People Before Profits!

Please distribute this widely.