Arranology

Author Archive

Industrial Farming: Expensive, Inefficient and Dangerous

leave a comment »

But let’s do it anyway, shall we? Let’s eliminate family farms despite the fact that on only 25% of the planet’s arable land, family farms provide about 70% of the world’s food while the industrial farms of Big Agro own 75% of the land and produce only 30% of the food supply.

Yessir, that’s the right system for us.

The world is increasingly hungry because small farmers are losing access to farmland. Small farmers produce most of the world’s food but are now squeezed onto less than 25 percent of the world’s farmland, a new report reveals. Corporate and commercial farms, big biofuel operations and land speculators are pushing millions off their land.

“Small farmers are losing land at a tremendous rate. It’s a land reform movement in reverse,” said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, an international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers, which released the report Thursday.

Nothing about this way of handling a basic human need makes sense. The rationale for allowing industrial farming has always been its supposed efficiency and ability to increase the food supply. Yet a new study by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization shows quite clearly that industrial agriculture is inefficient, wasteful, dangerous, and a breeding ground for speculators. So why are we doing it? All over the world?

If all farms in Central America matched the output of small farms the region would produce three times as much food, the report said.

“Every day we are exposed to the systematic expulsion from our land,” said Marina Dos Santos of the National Coordination of the Brazilian Landless Movement.

We’re doing it because we’ve given up fighting the money. They own the world’s governments, they make the rules, they do whatever makes the most profit the quickest, and we get out of their way and let them do it even though it means destroying more than building and we get starved in the process.

Might be we ought to reconsider that strategy before we’re all cat food.

 

Written by Mick

May 31, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Corpo Tax Breaks Finally = Discretionary Spending

leave a comment »

What that means is that all the money the govt has to spend exclusive of fixed costs is now equal to the amount of money in tax breaks given to corporations. Dig:

In 2013, the cost of tax breaks was equal to the entire U.S. discretionary budget [1]. However, the discretionary budget is subject to an annual appropriations process, where Congress debates the proposed spending. Tax breaks, on the other hand, remain on the books until lawmakers modify them. As a result, over a trillion dollars a year in lost revenue – more than 1.6 times the 2013 budget deficit – goes largely unnoticed.

tax-breaks

 

The cost of corporate tax breaks has trended upward in recent decades, totaling nearly $176 billion in fiscal 2013. In other words, the overall U.S. corporate tax bill was $176 billion lower than it would have been without the special deductions, credits, and exclusions written into our tax code. To put that in perspective, that’s about $1,328 per U.S. household. [2]

 

Which is bad news, right? Wrong! Look at that other box. That’s the deficit and it’s only 2/3 what the tax breaks are worth. So, when you get all frantic anxious about how the deficit is ruining the economy like FauxNews keeps telling you, just know that we can fix it in a single year by canceling some – not all, just some – of the tax breaks corporations that don’t actually need them have blackmailed the Congress into. See, easy!

Oh, who am I kidding? This will never happen. Case in point, a Republican named David Camp, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Paul Ryan at the House Budget Committee have both submitted Tax Reform bills intended to “reform” the tax code to varying degrees. What? Republicans reforming the tax code to eliminate corporate tax breaks? Has the world turned upside down?

All of them claim to “reform” a discredited cesspool of a tax code, of course, but they have also been submitted in an election year. The GOP, if it knows nothing else (and it doesn’t), knows how to get credit for proposing popular legislation they don’t actually want at a time when there is no chance whatever for it to pass.

It doesn’t matter how easy the fix is if the fix is anathema to the Congress’ owners.

Written by Mick

May 10, 2014 at 6:29 pm

BP Dumps on Gulf Clean-up

leave a comment »

BP has decided that it’s done with that “responsibility thang.”

In an op-ed article this month in Gulf Coast newspapers, John Mingé, the chairman of BP America, highlighted the coast’s record tourism numbers, emphasized the $27 billion BP had spent and dismissed environmentalists skeptical of the gulf’s recovery as advocates using the spill “to raise money for their causes.”

They took a lot of credit in their PR for their continuing resolve to stick with the clean-up after they damn near destroyed the whole Gulf Of Mexico. They were, they said, “committed to returning the Gulf to its previous greatness” Or words to that effect repeated again…and again and again…over the past years. Until now. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

April 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Obama Lets Corporate Predators Buy His “Trade Policy”

leave a comment »

Barack Obama’s support for corporate trade goals, no matter how unethical and/or borderline illegal, is nothing new. His early and lasting backing of the Panama trade deal – a stellar performance wherein he convinced Democrats to vote for a bill which made it legal for US corporations to violate US law – was a brilliant part of his strategy to move the Democrat party onto Wall Street.

So it was no surprise to anyone familiar with his history that he has been appointing hired Wall Street guns – or goons – to write his TransPacific Trade Policy. Nor is it surprising that he has had nothing to say against their “former” companies paying them for writing and negotiating the deal.

Stefan Selig

Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show.

Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year.

Michael Froman, the current U.S. Trade Representative, received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left CitiGroup to join the Obama administration. Froman told Senate Finance Committee members last summer that he donated approximately 75 percent of the $2.25 million bonus he received for his work in 2008 to charity. CitiGroup also gave Froman a $2 million payment in connection to his holdings in two investment funds, which was awarded “in recognition of [Froman's] service to Citi in various capacities since 1999.”

Do I have to explain what this means? How their companies are basically paying these guys in advance to continue promoting their interests even as they pretend to work for the govt? Or that Obama just about had to be working hand-in-glove with these corporations to come up with these guys’ names in the first place? Or that these payments are a measure of how deeply corrupt our system is now?

That’s what I thought.

Written by Mick

April 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

The Liberal Game Goes On

leave a comment »

For a long time I have been listening to liberals and progs talk as if something has gone wrong with the system and if we could just adjust this or tweak that, everything would be hunky-dory. They understand that the Republicans are out of control, the corporations are in control, and the financial sector calls the shots. What they consistently refuse to do is admit that those three sectors are and have been working together for 30 years or that the fourth of the united sectors consists of Third Way Democrats. Here’s a recent Krugman.

[W]e had our own version of the sorta-kinda left utterly failing to take on austerian macroeconomics in the United States – President Obama’s “pivot” from jobs to deficits, which actually began in 2009, back when Democrats still controlled both houses of Congress.

Sounds like a policy switch on Obama’s part, doesn’t it? Only it isn’t. In his famous keynote speech at the ’04 Dem convention, Obama was careful to eschew any too left-leaning rhetoric that might dismay corporate backers; just before the ’08 election, Obama met secretly with some of the most powerful financiers on Wall Street; and one of his early acts as president was to name an anti-deficit commission to which he appointed a number of powerful and long-term opponents of Social Security including Pete Peterson.

Seen from that angle, not so much a pivot as a straight line. Krugman seems to think the Dems are just listening to the wrong people because they lack “moral courage”.

[T]he nature of our current economic situation is that smart policy requires that you ignore what supposedly responsible people, who sound as if they know what they’re talking about – and hey, they’re rich, so they must know something – have to say.

And no government of the moderate left has had the intellectual and moral courage to do that.

Fraid not. An objective analysis of Democratic actions over the past two decades leaves little room for doubt: in virtually every instance when the Dems had to choose a path, they chose the one that was corporate-contributor friendly. Maybe we should stop pretending that the Dems are liberal, hm? They’re just slightly less obsequious than Pubs when it comes to kissing 1% ass. Get used to it.

Written by Mick

April 15, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Fun With Deportation

leave a comment »

The NYT decided to actually investigate something this week because they thought the result would embarrass Obama (their main criteria for greenlighting political exposes). It does. It also embarrasses the whole Democrat party.

With the Obama administration deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace, the president has said the government is going after “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families.”

But a New York Times analysis of internal government records shows that since President Obama took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all. Twenty percent — or about 394,000 — of the cases involved people convicted of serious crimes, including drug-related offenses, the records show.

Aside from the usual circumstance of Obama’s mouth writing checks his administration can’t – or won’t – cash, this is a classic example of standard Democrat duplicity: doing what they see as expedient and then blaming progressive activists for making his job dealing with batshit crazy Pubs more difficult. According to Obama and his people, when progressives call him on his bullshit, they are hurting him; when they try to help him achieve his stated goals, they are hurting him; when they won’t follow him as he surrenders to conservative insanity, they are hurting him. In fact, it seems that the very existence of progressives is a threat to him. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

April 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Citizens United 2.0

leave a comment »

The Corporate States of America just got itself a new jolt of freedom thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts and his Happy Conservative Warrior Quartet.

[T]he Supreme Court continued chipping away at federal campaign finance reforms with a 5-4 ruling striking down the federal cap on the total amount of money an individual donor can spend supporting candidates and political parties during a two-year election cycle.

The ruling, which split the high court along ideological lines, eliminates the aggregate the cap on the total amount of money an individual can donate to candidates and party fundraising committees during an election season, which was set at $123,200 for 2013 and 2014. That cap was so high that only…several hundred mega-rich donors reached it during the last election cycle.

Meaning that this ruling effects, at most, a mere few hundred people. Fortunately, those few hundred are the richest few hundred people in the country and who deserves a self-serving law that crews democracy more than them?

The ruling also could inflate the power of joint fundraising committees, which take large donations from donors and funnel the cash to candidates and party committees with full knowledge of who signed the original check.

“Eliminating these limits will now allow a single politician to solicit, and a single donor to give, up to $3.6 million through the use of joint fundraising committees,” said Michael Walden, president of the Brennan Center for Justice. “Following the Citizens United decision, this will further inundate a political system already flush with cash, marginalize average voters, and elevate those who can afford to buy political access.”

I don’t think Mr Walden gets it. See, money is free speech and in the CSA you only get as much FS as you can afford to buy and those few hundred have made sure you don’t get paid enough to buy hardly any so they get more than you or me and that’s the way it should be.

Get used to it. If you can’t afford to pay for an election, you don’t deserve to have one.

Written by Mick

April 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

BP Bail Fail – UPDATED

leave a comment »

The corporation that virtually destroyed half the Gulf of Mexico by spilling millions of tons of oil into it tried this week to get out of its responsibility – and previous agreement – to pay for at least some of the damage it caused.

Last week, [the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals] rejected [British Petroleum]‘s attempt to stop businesses in the Gulf from collecting on losses resulting from the 2010 oil disaster. BP claimed that the companies were trying to recover “fictitious losses,” but the New Orleans court didn’t buy it. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the judges upheld an earlier ruling against BP, and said that an injunction on BP payments to Gulf businesses should be lifted. These payments are part of a settlement that BP agreed to back in 2012 – a settlement that the oil company said was “good for the people, businesses and communities of the Gulf, and in the best interests of BP’s stakeholders.”

This is just s-o-o-o corporate America. First they lowball damage estimates, then they make promises they have no intention of keeping, then they attack the victims by claiming they’re perpetrating fraud, and finally they send their high-priced lawyers to convince the courts to let them off the hook when the damages turn out to cost more than their original, absurdly low, estimate. Corporate America takes NO responsibility for its actions unless forced to by the courts (an increasingly rare outcome, btw) and even then never stop trying to get out from under. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

March 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm

David Brooks Finally Speaks Truth But Doesn’t Notice

leave a comment »

The NYT’s block of editorial blockheads have had quite a week for themselves. First Tom Friedman embarrasses himself by writing about economics as if he knew what the word meant, and now David Brooks notices the country isn’t in very good shape after years of the austerity and corporate theft he’s been championing as solutions without actually realizing that’s what he’s doing. Pretty good trick for a normal person but a necessary skill for right-wingers. Without it their heads would explode collectively. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

February 27, 2014 at 12:34 am

Wait for It…

leave a comment »

minwageah_590_419

Written by Mick

February 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Economy, Humor/Satire

O What a Funny World

leave a comment »

A few little tidbits:

1) Thomas Friedman isn’t just an idiot, he’s ignorant too. But then he’s an ideologue and ideologues are professional morons.

2) The 1% can justify every single policy in their (financial) favor…but only if they lie their asses off.

3) Jeff Bezos has just made Amazon a CIA asset and himself The Bagman. In retrospect, it was predictable if not inevitable.

4)Exxon CEO and Frackmeister extraordinaire Rex Tillerson is a strong advocate, even a champion of fracking technology but only until it’s his backyard getting fracked. Then, not so much.

Rex Tillerson has joined a lawsuit to stop construction of a water tower near his $1.3 million estate on Dove Creek Road. That water would be used in fracking, a process to drill oil and gas.

Tillerson even appeared at a Bartonville Town Council meeting to speak against it.

The lawsuit claims the project would create a noise nuisance and traffic hazards.

Yah. Well. You know.

5) Budget hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles – two of Pete Petersen’s most reliable anti-SocSec thugs, set up an anti-deficit group. In the Irony of Ironies category, this group is now, um, broke. (scroll down)

Written by Mick

February 24, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Privatizing the PO

leave a comment »

Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA) is trying to turn the Post Office over to Staples.

While slamming Democrats, [American Postal Workers Union president Mark] Dimondstein reserved special condemnation for Issa, the Republicans’ leading voice on postal reform. Noting that Issa had proposed eliminating Saturday postal service as part of a bill undoing veterans’ pension cuts, the union president called the congressman “a pure enemy of the Postal Service…”

This is, of course, a half-truth. In fact, Issa has shown himself to be an enemy of all public services, including free parks and libraries. He has consistently advocated the privatization of all govt functions, proposing that even police and military be replaced by private security firms and fire depts be paid for by subscription. So it really isn’t fair for the postal workers’ union to single him out. Still, it’s typical of the Issa wing of the party (the wing which is, after all, in control of the party) to attach an attack on a public union to a bill cutting veterans’ benefits. Sort of a Pub’s Dream Two-fer.

An Issa “spokesperson” (you can never get these guys to reply personally to any communication from the hoi-polloi) replied to the union’s criticism this way:

This false claim about privatization is being pushed by entrenched special interests who oppose common sense and bipartisan reforms in both House and Senate postal modernization bills.

“Special interests” may be accurately considered as a reference to unions since Issa defines “public interest” as anything a corporation wants, but the interesting word here is “false”. Whenever Issa and his people have claimed that some unpleasant fact reported about this peppy little stooge of the powerful was “false”, all the evidence proved it was true, which in turns mean this flat denial likely proves it’s exactly what this is all about.

The most obvious question here is: did Staples contribute to Issa’s campaign and if so how much? But Salon’s reporter, Josh Eidelson never asks – let alone answers – that question. Instead he delves deeply into Dianne Feinstein’s husband’s connections to Staples (to no very great effect) because he’s suspicious of La F’s refusal to support the union’s preferred bill (offered by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders), a bill he doesn’t bother to explain.

It seems that even “progressives” can’t bring themselves to directly attack extreme corporate puppets like Issa, who has never had a thought a corporation didn’t put in his head.

PS I don’t have to explain why privatizing the Post Office is a really bad idea, do I?

Friedman Moronic on Mandela

leave a comment »

So what else is new? Is there, that anyone can remember, any topic that Friedman can’t blather about with the bewilderingly incoherent and blazingly ignorant certainty of the true moron? No, I can’t think of one either.

As if to prove it, today Tosspot Tommy threw in his cent-and-a-half about Nelson Mandela. Seems Mandela’s best virtue was his “moral authority”, which, according to Tommy, he got only when he went against his base.

Much of the answer can be deduced from one scene in one movie about Mandela that I’ve written about before: “Invictus.” Just to remind, it tells the story of Mandela’s one and only term as president of South Africa, when he enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land. Before the games, though, the sports committee in the post-apartheid, newly black-led South Africa tells Mandela that it wants to change the name and colors of the almost all-white Springboks to something more reflective of black African identity. But Mandela refuses. He tells his black sports officials that an essential part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. “That is selfish thinking,” Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. “It does not serve the nation.” Then speaking of South Africa’s whites, Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.”

There are so many big leadership lessons in this short scene. The first is that one way leaders generate moral authority is by being willing to challenge their own base at times — and not just the other side. It is easy to lead by telling your own base what it wants to hear. It is easy to lead when you’re giving things away. It is easy to lead when things are going well.

(emphasis added)

Are you listening, Obama? There are the lessons of Mandela: Don’t listen to your base and bend over backwards to accommodate your opponents. That’s the path to “moral authority”.

Uh-huh. Awright, enuff about Lil Tommy Friedman and his latest right-wing anti-Obama talking point. Let’s spend some time on something really important:

When is Sleepy Hollow going to let Crane buy a new suit?

Written by Mick

December 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Entertainment

Tagged with

The Myths of Christmas

leave a comment »

Reprinted from 12.24.06 – And it will continue to be printed until the O’Reilly-originated “War on Christmas” BS ends. There’s no antidote to lies except truth.

This would be the time, if ever there was one, to reflect on the meaning of Christmas, but before we can do that to any purpose we need to clear away some of the dead wood by exploding a couple of the myths that have built up around it since the holiday became popular in the late 19th century. Chief among these is the legend that Christmas is Christian, or even religious. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

December 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Coke’s Anti-Water Conspiracy

with one comment

Just when you thought corporate greed couldn’t sink any lower, Coca-Cola, based in not-too-far-away Atlanta, takes it to a whole new level.

Coke [is] urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: “Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain.” Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, “by teaching [your] crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

December 3, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Posted in The Corporatocracy

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.