“No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.”

The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx


If today was not a crooked highway,
If tonight was not a crooked trail,
If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time,
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all.
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin’,
And if I could only hear her heart a-softly poundin’,
Yes and only if she was lyin’ by me,
Then I’d lie in my bed once again.

I can’t see my reflection in the water(s),
I can’t speak the sounds that show no pain,
I can’t hear the echo of my footsteps,
Or can’t remember the sound of my own name.
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin’,
And if I could only hear her heart a-softly poundin’,
Yes and only if she was lyin’ by me,
Then I’d lie in my bed once again.

There’s beauty in the silver, singin’ river,
There’s beauty in the rainbow in the sky,
But no one and nothing else can touch the beauty
That I remember in my true love’s eyes.
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin’,
And if I could only hear her heart a-softly poundin’,
Yes and only if she was lyin’ by me,
Then I’d lie in my bed once again.


Cuban leader applauds US health-care reform bill



Rage on the Right

The Year in Hate and Extremism

SPLC – By Mark Potok

The radical right caught fire last year, as broad-based populist anger at political, demographic and economic changes in America ignited an explosion of new extremist groups and activism across the nation.

Hate groups stayed at record levels — almost 1,000 — despite the total collapse of the second largest neo-Nazi group in America. Furious anti-immigrant vigilante groups soared by nearly 80%, adding some 136 new groups during 2009. And, most remarkably of all, so-called “Patriot” groups — militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose “one-world government” on liberty-loving Americans — came roaring back after years out of the limelight.

The anger seething across the American political landscape — over racial changes in the population, soaring public debt and the terrible economy, the bailouts of bankers and other elites, and an array of initiatives by the relatively liberal Obama Administration that are seen as “socialist” or even “fascist” — goes beyond the radical right. The “tea parties” and similar groups that have sprung up in recent months cannot fairly be considered extremist groups, but they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism.

“We are in the midst of one of the most significant right-wing populist rebellions in United States history,” Chip Berlet, a veteran analyst of the American radical right, wrote earlier this year. “We see around us a series of overlapping social and political movements populated by people [who are] angry, resentful, and full of anxiety. They are raging against the machinery of the federal bureaucracy and liberal government programs and policies including health care, reform of immigration and labor laws, abortion, and gay marriage.”

Sixty-one percent of Americans believe the country is in decline, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Just a quarter think the government can be trusted. And the anti-tax tea party movement is viewed in much more positive terms than either the Democratic or Republican parties, the poll found.

The signs of growing radicalization are everywhere. Armed men have come to Obama speeches bearing signs suggesting that the “tree of liberty” needs to be “watered” with “the blood of tyrants.” The Conservative Political Action Conference held this February was co-sponsored by groups like the John Birch Society, which believes President Eisenhower was a Communist agent, and Oath Keepers, a Patriot outfit formed last year that suggests, in thinly veiled language, that the government has secret plans to declare martial law and intern patriotic Americans in concentration camps. Politicians pandering to the antigovernment right in 37 states have introduced “Tenth Amendment Resolutions,” based on the constitutional provision keeping all powers not explicitly given to the federal government with the states. And, at the “A Well Regulated Militia” website, a recent discussion of how to build “clandestine safe houses” to stay clear of the federal government included a conversation about how mass murderers like Timothy McVeigh and Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph were supposedly betrayed at such houses…

But the most dramatic story by far has been with the antigovernment Patriots.

The militias and the larger Patriot movement first came to Americans’ attention in the mid-1990s, when they appeared as an angry reaction to what was seen as a tyrannical government bent on crushing all dissent. Sparked most dramatically by the death of 76 Branch Davidians during a 1993 law enforcement siege in Waco, Texas, those who joined the militias also railed against the Democratic Clinton Administration and initiatives like gun control and environmental regulation. Although the Patriot movement included people formerly associated with racially based hate groups, it was above all animated by a view of the federal government as the primary enemy, along with a fondness for antigovernment conspiracy theories. By early this decade, the groups had largely disappeared from public view.

But last year, as noted in the SPLC’s August report, “The Second Wave: Return of the Militias,” a dramatic resurgence in the Patriot movement and its paramilitary wing, the militias, began. Now, the latest SPLC count finds that an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) — a 244% jump.

That is cause for grave concern. Individuals associated with the Patriot movement during its 1990s heyday produced an enormous amount of violence, most dramatically the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 people dead…



Should taxpayers subsidize underwater homeowners?

Keith Hennessey

This is shocking:

The Obama administration will announce a major new stock market initiative on Friday that will directly tackle the problem of the millions of Americans who lost money betting on stocks.  The government will buy loans from stock brokerage houses at the current value of the stocks in an investor’s portfolio, in an effort to stabilize the stock market, people briefed on the plan said. The government will also increase incentive payments to stock brokers who loaned on margin to their investing clients and now assume some of the losses of those clients. And it will require those stock brokers to cover some of the losses of unemployed investors for a minimum of three months.

OK, I made that up.  But how is it different from this, which is real?

The Obama administration will announce a major new housing initiative on Friday that will directly tackle the problem of the millions of Americans who owe more on their houses than they are worth. The government will buy loans from investors at the current value of the house in an effort to stabilize the market, people briefed on the plan said. The government will also increase incentive payments to lenders that cut the principal of borrowers in modification programs. And it will require lenders to cut the monthly payments of unemployed borrowers for a minimum of three months.

The Administration is using tax dollars to subsidize some homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages.  Today they are beefing up two housing programs with more money.

These programs are targeted at homeowners who could almost but not quite afford their mortgage.  The idea is that, with some taxpayer subsidy, their lender will agree to reduce or delay some mortgage payments.

Who is eligible?  Under one program, called HAMP, the Home Affordable Modification Program, you are eligible if you:

… live in an owner occupied principal residence, have a mortgage balance less than $729,750, owe monthly mortgage payments that are not affordable (greater than 31 percent of their income) and demonstrate a financial hardship. The new flexibilities for the modification initiative announced today continue to target this group of homeowners.

Excuse me?  We’re going to subsidize someone with a mortgage balance of $700,000?!

Let’s do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation.  Suppose you have a mortgage balance of $700K, with 28 years left on your 30-year mortgage at a fixed 5.25%.  Your monthly mortgage payments would be almost $4,000.  If that’s greater than 31% of your income, you make less than $155,000 per year.

Does it really make sense for the Administration to use taxpayer funds to subsidize someone making less than $155,000 per year to stay in a home with a $700,000 mortgage balance?!…]




Why Socialism?

by Albert Einstein

This essay was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949).

… I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society.

But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate.

All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules.

In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist.

The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society.

This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense.

In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence.

Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion.

A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society…


Socialist Party of America

The Socialist Party of America (SPA or SP) was a democratic socialist political party in the United States, formed in 1901 by a merger between the three-year-old Social Democratic Party of America and disaffected elements of the Socialist Labor Party which had split from the main organization in 1899.

In the first decades of the 20th Century, it drew significant support from many different groups, including trade unionists, progressive social reformers, populist farmers, and immigrant communities. Its presidential candidate, Eugene V. Debs, won over 900,000 votes in 1912 and 1920, while the party also elected members of the United States House of Representatives (Victor L. Berger and Meyer London) and numerous state legislators and mayors. The party’s staunch opposition to American involvement in World War I, although welcomed by many, also led to prominent defections, official repression and vigilante persecution. The organization was further shattered by a factional war over how it should respond to Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the establishment of the Communist International in 1919.

After endorsing Robert LaFollette‘s presidential campaign in 1924, the Socialist Party returned to independent action and experienced modest growth in the early 1930s behind presidential candidate Norman Thomas. After the 1920s, however, the Party’s appeal was weakened by the popularity of Franklin Roosevelt‘s New Deal, the superior organization and tactical flexibility of the Communist Party under Earl Browder, and the resurgent labor movement’s need for friendly government policies. A divisive and ultimately-unsuccessful attempt to broaden the party by admitting followers of Leon Trotsky and Jay Lovestone caused the traditional “Old Guard” to leave and form the Social Democratic Federation. While the party was always strongly anti-Fascist, as well as anti-Stalinist, the SP’s ambivalent attitude towards World War II cost it both internal and external support.

The SP stopped running Presidential candidates after 1956, when its nominee Darlington Hoopes won fewer than 3,000 votes. In the party’s last decades, its members, many of them prominent in the labor, peace, civil rights and civil liberties movements, fundamentally disagreed about the socialist movement’s relationship to the Democratic Party domestically and how best to advance democracy abroad. In 1972–73, these strategic differences had become so acute that the Socialist Party shattered into three successor groups…

Source:  Wiki

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