Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Venice waits for you..."

These attitudes have dogged society from the beginning.

...The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But as the story of Venice shows, virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish.

That was the future predicted by Karl Marx, who wrote that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. And it is the danger America faces today, as the 1 percent pulls away from everyone else and pursues an economic, political and social agenda that will increase that gap even further — ultimately destroying the open system that made America rich and allowed its 1 percent to thrive in the first place.

You can see America’s creeping Serrata in the growing social and, especially, educational chasm between those at the top and everyone else. At the bottom and in the middle, American society is fraying, and the children of these struggling families are lagging the rest of the world at school...

Even as the winner-take-all economy has enriched those at the very top, their tax burden has lightened. Tolerance for high executive compensation has increased, even as the legal powers of unions have been weakened and an intellectual case against them has been relentlessly advanced by plutocrat-financed think tanks. In the 1950s, the marginal income tax rate for those at the top of the distribution soared above 90 percent, a figure that today makes even Democrats flinch. Meanwhile, of the 400 richest taxpayers in 2009, 6 paid no federal income tax at all, and 27 paid 10 percent or less. None paid more than 35 percent.

Historically, the United States has enjoyed higher social mobility than Europe, and both left and right have identified this economic openness as an essential source of the nation’s economic vigor. But several recent studies have shown that in America today it is harder to escape the social class of your birth than it is in Europe. The Canadian economist Miles Corak has found that as income inequality increases, social mobility falls — a phenomenon Alan B. Krueger, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has called the Great Gatsby Curve.

Educational attainment, which created the American middle class, is no longer rising. The super-elite lavishes unlimited resources on its children, while public schools are starved of funding. This is the new Serrata. An elite education is increasingly available only to those already at the top...

It's why ancient China and Greece made technological advances and tabled them for 3000 years. Those that rule want to keep ruling, and as long as they've got better than anyone else, they don't care about anything else.

Monday, October 08, 2012

feeding the dogs of war

No surprise, with Bolton frothing on the sidelines, it looks like Romney will follow Cheneyburton foreign policy guidelines.

Lovely Lizzy would be so much more effective in one of Milla Jovovich's outfits, but she's really more Umbrella Corp standard issue.

You can be sure the crazies Mary Cheney and David Addington are lurking somewhere in the background, too, but they're so much less photogenic than Lizzy, the ghoul Norman Rockwell might have painted.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

the palooka presidency

If Obama rolls over at the next debate like he did last week, after making a great campaign contribution haul in September, the word "palooka" will begin to come to my mind. How much did Wall Street give him in his first election? How much did Goldman-Sachs give him this time? A boatload. How much did they give Mittens? A lot bigger boatload apparently. Who are they backing? Quite possibly the winner, again.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

the flat earth society

Krugman points out the same thing every talking head from Chris Matthews to Jon Stewart has pointed out this week. Romney lied extensively and barefacedly during the debate. But this highlights a greater problem: what are people to do when about half the population believes things that are demonstrably false? On many issues, it's over half the population. What can be done when the consensual reality is a delusion? Here's another example of an unopposed liar in Congress. And he's only on the Congressional science committee, too, making policy designed to lead us back into the Dark Ages. Because it's (his) god's will, ya know?