Is the US financially swimming, or sinking?

My insightful friend and great truth-teller, Han Broekman, shares this on the United States financial situation:

Disappointed that even Krugman doesn’t talk here about the difference between debt and deficit. Debt is the grand total of all debts the US Federal administration has incurred. The deficit is the difference each year between the outlays and incomes of the US. Sometimes (mostly under Democratic administrations), there is no deficit, but a surplus. Whether or not deficits are really bad, and whether debt is really bad, is a question economists can’t agree on. So small wonder that debt and deficit are huge politically charged subjects … read more

David Suzuki says why conventional economics is a form of brain damage

David Suzuki

David SuzukiDavid Suzuki explains why,

Conventional economics is a form of brain damage.

Money doesn’t stand for anything. And money now grows faster than the real world. Economics is fundamentally, so disconnected from the real world it is destructive.

Economists call life and biodiversity, “externalities,” yet we rely on the services that plants, insects and animals render to the world.

We are told over and over that the economy is the bottom line. I don’t think so.

Visit to learn more about David Suzuki and his foundation explores the world of sustainability read more

“School reform” aka diverting school funds to the rich

profiting by closing schools

profiting by closing schoolsDavid Sirota helps us see that the true mission of the corporate backed charter school initiative is to bust unions and divert public funds earmarked for student education. The goal is to remove barriers to corporate control of society and for rich guys to get all the money in the world (or at least the US). These people didn’t get the memo that you can’t take it with you.

The bottom line is clear: In attempting to change the mission of public education from one focused on educating kids to one focused on generating private profit, corporate leaders in the “reform” movement are pursuing a shrewd investment strategy. Millions of dollars go into campaign contributions and propaganda outfits that push “reform,” and, if successful, those “reforms” guarantee Wall Street and their investment vehicles much bigger returns for the long haul. read more

Operation Hope

Non-profit organization HOPE Coalition America (HCA) through its disaster preparedness and recovery division, established Operation Hope to provide financial recovery services to Sandy victims. Individuals and small business owners can receive free information, guidance and assistance for loss associated with storm recovery by calling 888-388-HOPE (4673).

Services provided include:
? Disaster Recovery Budget
? Mortgage on a Destroyed Home
? Home Inspections and Repair Contracts
? Assistance with Working with Your Creditors
? Referrals to Government and Private Agencies
? Assistance with Obtaining Copies of Destroyed Documents
? Insurance Claims Assistance
? Completing Applications for Grants and Loans read more

The news is skewed – dig deeper for the truth

A West Indian friend writes to ask,

This country is becoming more like a 3rd world country. Why aren’t people demanding jobs instead of talking about racism. Sick and tired of hearing about racism. Everything is racism. Find some other excuse rather than racism. If anything is done wrong it’s blame it on racism. People need to stop blaming and stop looking for hand me out. It seems as though some people like to keep stoking the word racism and using the blame game too much. What about Solyndra all the billions that cost tax payers money. That money could have been used to help students pay for their school loans. The unnecessary spending while unemployment is still above 8%. read more

Rich 333% richer & poor 5% poorer than in 1980

Reagan-era tax breaks for the wealthy, which were instituted in 1980 and have become the norm for Republican presidents to continue since then, have resulted in the following financial effect on American households, as detailed in an article on An Economic Sense blog

IN YEAR 2010
• Income for the bottom 90% of households is -5% lower than 1980 levels
• Income for the bottom 9% of households is 35% higher than 1980 levels (those with incomes between the 90th and 99th percentiles)
• Income for the top 1% of households is 333% higher than 1980 levels
• The rate of growth for the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has remained steady at 1.9% since 1880 read more

GOP & Big Money block journalists from public spaces

Here are three examples of camera journalists in London, Canada and the United States encountering attempts to block them from exercising their legal right to stand in public spaces and use cameras to shoot street views or film public proceedings they have the right to share with their followers, and under the circumstances may have a moral obligation to do so as well.

Secrecy surrounds the reporting of certain public events and anything having to do with the financial district. Freedom of speech and reporters’ public access rights are being curtailed, which bodes ill for all citizens of organized societies. Film equipment is being seized and arrests are being made, although no security threats are perceived. These seem to be simply moves to prevent disclosure of every day proceedings in public spaces associated with Big Money interests and at certain government meetings. read more

Black and Latino borrowers victims of mortgage red-lining

The announcement on July 12 that Wells Fargo had agreed to a $175 million dollar settlement to avoid prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department for race bias in its lending policies follows a settlement with Bank of America Corp. last December to pay $335 million to avoid similar charges. Unfortunately, this amount is just a wee drop in the bucket when compared with the destruction these financial institutions’ policies have wreaked in the lives of Latino and Black families. Thanks to the exploitative lending policies they’ve been much harder hit by our harsh economic climate specifically because housing has cost them hundreds more each month than White families paid, even when the Black and Latino borrowers had equally good jobs and purchased properties valued at the same price. read more

NJ shares in historic $25 billion fed-state mortgage fraud settlement

President Obama has responded to the injustices and fraud enacted by banks upon mortgage borrowers with the negotiation of a massive, wide-spread assistance program for one of America’s greatest ills – the home foreclosure crisis. Visit the website National Mortgage Settlement which is maintained by Attorney Generals from every state in the country (except Oklahoma) to learn more about the $25 billion dollar settlement that America’s five largest banks will pay over the next three years. read more

Fire Demarco for underwater mortgage relief and $1 billion in savings

The good people at Rebuild the Dream tell us,

DeMarco is the Bush appointee who has been dragging his heels and blocking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from engaging in targeted principal reductions (resetting home loans to fair market value) for struggling, underwater homeowners on the grounds that it would cost the taxpayers too much.

Today, two things happened. First, FHFA produced a study that said principal reductions would actually save taxpayers more than a billion dollars. And then DeMarco announced that he still wouldn’t allow any principal reductions! read more