Fantastic article explaining what's REALLY happening:

User Forum Topic
Submitted by CA renter on February 27, 2012 - 6:15am

"Welcome to a new era of polarization as financial oligarchy replaces democratic government and reduces populations to debt peonage"

"Europe’s Deadly Transition From Social Democracy to Oligarchy"

by MICHAEL HUDSON

"The easiest way to understand Europe’s financial crisis is to look at the solutions being proposed to resolve it. They are a banker’s dream, a grab bag of giveaways that few voters would be likely to approve in a democratic referendum. Bank strategists learned not to risk submitting their plans to democratic vote after Icelanders twice refused in 2010-11 to approve their government’s capitulation to pay Britain and the Netherlands for losses run up by badly regulated Icelandic banks operating abroad. Lacking such a referendum, mass demonstrations were the only way for Greek voters to register their opposition to the €50 billion in privatization sell-offs demanded by the European Central Bank (ECB) in autumn 2011.

The problem is that Greece lacks the ready money to redeem its debts and pay the interest charges. The ECB is demanding that it sell off public assets – land, water and sewer systems, ports and other assets in the public domain, and also cut back pensions and other payments to its population. The bottom 99% understandably are angry to be informed that the wealthiest layer of the population is largely responsible for the budget shortfall by stashing away a reported €45 billion of funds stashed away in Swiss banks alone. The idea of normal wage-earners being obliged to forfeit their pensions to pay for tax evaders – and for the general un-taxing of wealth since the regime of the colonels – makes most people understandably angry. For the ECB, EU and IMF “troika” to say that whatever the wealthy take, steal or evade paying must be made up by the population at large is not a politically neutral position. It comes down hard on the side of wealth that has been unfairly taken.

A democratic tax policy would reinstate progressive taxation on income and property, and would enforce its collection – with penalties for evasion. Ever since the 19th century, democratic reformers have sought to free economies from waste, corruption and “unearned income.” But the ECB troika is imposing a regressive tax – one that can be imposed only by turning government policy-making over to a set of unelected technocrats."

"This is the treadmill on which Eurozone social democracies are now being placed. Under the political umbrella of financial emergency, wages and living standards are to be scaled back and political power shifted from elected government to technocrats governing on behalf of large banks and financial institutions. Public-sector labor is to be privatized – and de-unionized, while Social Security, pension plans and health insurance are scaled back."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/12/09/e...
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Fantastic article explaining what's going on over there...and over here. THIS is what's behind the "anti-public worker" propaganda. Know WHO is behind the message, and WHY.

Submitted by CA renter on February 29, 2012 - 4:27pm.

sdrealtor wrote:
Not to mention that there is a difference between unions and the AMA, NAR and NADA. Those groups lobby to impact policy they do not negotiate for salaries and benefits for their groups. Further the AMA lobbies for policy that impacts medical care delivery to people. NAR looks to impact housing policy and the availability of financing for homes. I'm not saying they don't so please enlighten us as to how each of those unions does anything in the name of the general public?

Holy shit, sdr!!!! You've got to be kidding!!!

Those groups lobby for regulations and laws that force people to use the services of their members, and restrict new entrants in their respective markets. They lobby for "govt-backed" financing, foreclosure moratoriums, taxpayer-funded bailouts, and other interventions that force home buyers to overpay for housing (and the related commissions). In other words, they lobby so that they can receive more money and power for themselves and their members!

There is ONE and only ONE reason for every single one of these political contributors/donors in D.C.: MONEY!

Submitted by yoyoyah1 on February 29, 2012 - 4:43pm.

This is a simplification of the Greek problem.

They are spending at a rate faster than the tax revenue. Also, % of population working for the government is quite high.

This is not a rich vs poor problem.. its structurally unsound economy over reliant on government jobs.

Submitted by paramount on February 29, 2012 - 9:37pm.

yoyoyah1 wrote:
This is a simplification of the Greek problem.

They are spending at a rate faster than the tax revenue. Also, % of population working for the government is quite high.

This is not a rich vs poor problem.. its structurally unsound economy over reliant on government jobs.

And exactly how is this different from California?

Submitted by sdrealtor on February 29, 2012 - 10:32pm.

I believe it was you who said no one is forced to buy anything. They have choices. You basically agreed with what isaid about them lobbying to impact public policy while adding a dose of vitriol. I'm still waiting for my NAR paycheck, benefits and pension plan. I'm also waiting to hear what public unions do for anyone other than their members.

Submitted by sdrealtor on February 29, 2012 - 10:33pm.

paramount wrote:
yoyoyah1 wrote:
This is a simplification of the Greek problem.

They are spending at a rate faster than the tax revenue. Also, % of population working for the government is quite high.

This is not a rich vs poor problem.. its structurally unsound economy over reliant on government jobs.

And exactly how is this different from California?


Wish I could like that post

Submitted by CA renter on February 29, 2012 - 11:38pm.

paramount wrote:
yoyoyah1 wrote:
This is a simplification of the Greek problem.

They are spending at a rate faster than the tax revenue. Also, % of population working for the government is quite high.

This is not a rich vs poor problem.. its structurally unsound economy over reliant on government jobs.

And exactly how is this different from California?

And tax evasion in Greece is a national pastime. Just sayin'.

Submitted by CA renter on March 1, 2012 - 3:13am.

sdrealtor wrote:
I believe it was you who said no one is forced to buy anything. They have choices. You basically agreed with what isaid about them lobbying to impact public policy while adding a dose of vitriol. I'm still waiting for my NAR paycheck, benefits and pension plan. I'm also waiting to hear what public unions do for anyone other than their members.

No, I never said that no one is forced to buy anything. To the contrary, I've said that we often don't have a choice, without extreme hardship or inconvenience, whether one buys from the private market or the public market.

Unions lobby on behalf of union members (though they represent the interests of union members/employees, unions are not public employees), and never claimed to do anything else. The NAR and all other associations, etc. represent their members' interests in just the same way. Many public employees get decent benefits (which used to be found in the private sector, too...before the private sector sheeple bought into the lies that "unions are bad" and "globalization is good"), and realtors make $10K for work that is worth $800, tops. The form of compensation doesn't matter at all; the bottom line is that all of these organizations are looking out for the interests of their (usually paying) members. In every case, it's about getting more money/compensation for their members via regulations, subsidies, government financing/guarantees, tax breaks, etc. You can't single out any one type of organization because these donors/contributors are ALL "guilty" of the same things, and consumers/taxpayers are paying the price for ALL of them.

If you're arguing that we need to get money out of politics, I'm with you 100%, but only if ***ALL*** money/bribery is banned. We need a level playing field in order to prevent a total takeover of our entire society and economy; it's all about checks and balances. If capital has a seat at the table, then labor has to have a seat at the table as well.

Submitted by sdrealtor on March 2, 2012 - 5:54pm.

Yes my work is worth $800 tops. Today after going back and forth on counters offers 3 times (up to counter offer #6) my clients were ready to accept the sellers counter. I asked them to let me try one additaional last thing my way. The result is they are opening escrow another $7500 below the "sellers bottomline" that we spent 2 weeks negotiating back and forth to get to not to mention 6 months of searching and writing numerous offers. I'd like to think the fact that I saved them $7500 today is worth more than $800 but what do I know.

Submitted by CA renter on March 3, 2012 - 4:28am.

And they couldn't have negotiated this on their own (and saved thousands of dollars on commission costs if they were to take the "selling agent's" portion of the commission) if they were able to represent themselves? ...which they're not, thanks to the NAR.

Submitted by sdrealtor on March 3, 2012 - 9:19am.

They could have gone directly to the sellers agent and asked for a reduction in the price by the buyers commission side however that wouldnt have helped much. If the listing agent would have done that she would have insisted on a price starting at least $40K higher than we settled at and would have reduced it by the buyers side commission that was alot less than $40K. This was a very challenging negotiation. I got the sellers to accept $40K less than an inferior comp closed a couple doors away last month. I earned every penny that I made on this one based upon what I got them the house for not even factoring in months of work and many failed attempts on other houses.

FWIW, I beleive I could have done alot better for you also. Alot better.

Submitted by harvey on March 3, 2012 - 10:01am.

Quote:
[...] if they were able to represent themselves? ...which they're not, thanks to the NAR.

So now we are arguing against government regulation of complex financial transactions?

Yeah, that's just what our economy needs: fewer consumer protections.

Free markets are evil, but every person for themselves!

The arguments go in circles, but a common theme pervades: bitterness.

Submitted by CA renter on March 4, 2012 - 4:00am.

Just FYI...

"The Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement is currently being negotiated between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, with bilateral discussions also under way for entry by Canada, Japan and Mexico. Unlike many other international negotiations, including even those at the World Trade Organization (WTO), these have been conducted with virtually zero transparency. While the American public is barred from knowing what their representatives are negotiating for and negotiating away, approximately 600 corporate advisors are given regular access to the negotiating texts and negotiators.

Many see a double-standard at work. When public health advocates attempted to hold a luncheon in the hotel to share their expertise with interested negotiators, they even had their room reservation revoked. Activists are angry that these negotiations have been so secretive, and warned that without greater public participation, the Trans-Pacific trade talks could deliver a corporate-backed "NAFTA of the Pacific."

According to AFL-CIO Trade Policy Specialist Celeste Drake:

Far too many Californians have already had their jobs shipped overseas, and now corporations are crowing that they need to find low-cost labor alternatives to sweatshops in China. We’ve heard talk about ‘labor and environmental’ standards ever since NAFTA, and so far nothing offered has been adequate to protect jobs at home and human rights abroad. President Obama has promised better, but American workers would be more confident if the process were more open. In his State of the Union Address, he promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, and we hope he does that.

It's hard to see the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement as a reasonable way to boost our manufacturing sector, given how similar trade deals have decimated it. NAFTA alone cost the U.S. nearly 700,000 jobs, and since China joined the WTO in 2001, we've lost over 6 million manufacturing jobs, or 1 in 3. Americans have caught on, too, with 69% considering FTAs job-killers, according to a recent poll. And they're starting to voice their concerns."

http://www.calaborfed.org/index.php/site...

Submitted by no_such_reality on March 4, 2012 - 4:50pm.

CA renter wrote:
"The easiest way to understand Europe’s financial crisis is to look at the solutions being proposed to resolve it. They are a banker’s dream,...

Ah, the bankers dream deal, a 53.5% write down of the amount owed.

Maybe we can get the State unions to take that dream deal on their pensions.

BBC wrote:

"Greece has won a 53.5% reduction in its debt burden to private creditors, while any profits made by eurozone central banks on their holdings of Greek debt will be channelled back to Greece." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13798000

Submitted by briansd1 on March 5, 2012 - 11:14pm.

CA renter, I think you will enjoy this latest by Paul Krugman.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/opinio...
By all means, let’s talk about visionary ideas; but we can take a big step toward full employment just by using the federal government’s low borrowing costs to help state and local governments rehire the schoolteachers and police officers they laid off, while restarting the road repair and improvement projects they canceled or put on hold.

Krugman is right that state and local governments have been cutting back a lot.

But, IMO, that doesn't mean that pensions don't need to be adjusted. I'd rather see pensions cut back than cuts in education and social services. The role of state and local governments is to provide services, not support former employees' cushy retirements.

Unfortunately, pensions are contracts that come first. And why would local politicians and administrators cut their own pensions?

Submitted by CA renter on March 6, 2012 - 2:07am.

briansd1 wrote:
CA renter, I think you will enjoy this latest by Paul Krugman.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/opinio...
By all means, let’s talk about visionary ideas; but we can take a big step toward full employment just by using the federal government’s low borrowing costs to help state and local governments rehire the schoolteachers and police officers they laid off, while restarting the road repair and improvement projects they canceled or put on hold.

Krugman is right that state and local governments have been cutting back a lot.

But, IMO, that doesn't mean that pensions don't need to be adjusted. I'd rather see pensions cut back than cuts in education and social services. The role of state and local governments is to provide services, not support former employees' cushy retirements.

Unfortunately, pensions are contracts that come first. And why would local politicians and administrators cut their own pensions?

Brian,

You, and a lot of other people out there, still don't seem to get it. Public sector workers HAVE taken cuts, even cuts related to their pensions.

Let me state this one more time, since so few people seem to get it: TAXPAYERS DO NOT PAY THE BENEFITS FOR PUBLIC RETIREES. They pay for the employers' portion of the *contribution* amount. This taxpayer-funded portion amounts to anywhere from 15-25% of the benefit amounts (depends on the fund and the employer).

What's been happening during recent contract negotiations, is that public employers have been shifting more and more of the contribution requirements onto the employees. In other words, PUBLIC EMPLOYEES are taking the hits on their pensions, reducing the amounts that taxpayers are paying toward their pensions.

This has been going on now for the past few years.

Submitted by Arraya on March 6, 2012 - 3:14am.

Uneconomic Growth Deepens Depression

By Herman Daly

05 March, 2012
The Daly News

The US and Western Europe are in a recession threatening to become a depression as bad as that of the 1930s. Therefore we look to Keynesian policies as the cure, namely stimulate consumption and investment—that is, stimulate growth of the economy. It seemed to work in the past, so why not now? Should not ecological economics and steady-state ideas give way to Keynesian growth economics in view of the present crisis?

Certainly not! Why? Because we no longer live in the empty world of the 1930s — we live in a full world. Furthermore, in the 1930s the goal was full employment and growth was the means to it. Nowadays growth itself has become the goal and the means to it are off-shoring of jobs, automation, mergers, union busting, importing cheap labor, and other employment-cutting policies. The former goal of full employment has been sacrificed to the modern ideology of “growth in share holder value.”

Growth has filled the world with us and our products. I was born in 1938, and in my lifetime world population has tripled. That is unprecedented. But even more unprecedented is the growth in populations of artifacts — “our stuff” — cars, houses, livestock, refrigerators, TVs, cell phones, ships, airplanes, etc. These populations of things have vastly more than tripled. The matter-energy embodied in these living and nonliving populations was extracted from the ecosystem. The matter-energy required to maintain and replace these stocks also comes from the ecosystem. The populations or stocks of all these things have in common that they are what physicists call “dissipative structures” — i.e., their natural tendency, thanks to the entropy law, is to fall apart, to die, to dissipate. The dissipated matter-energy returns to the ecosystem as waste, to be reabsorbed by natural cycles or accumulated as pollution. All these dissipative structures exist in the midst of an entropic throughput of matter-energy that both depletes and pollutes the finite ecosphere of which the economy is a wholly contained subsystem. When the subsystem outgrows the regenerative capacity of the parent system then further growth becomes biophysically impossible.

But long before growth becomes impossible it becomes uneconomic — it begins to cost more than it is worth at the margin. We refer to growth in the economy as “economic growth,” — even after such growth has become uneconomic in the more basic sense of increasing illth faster than wealth. That is where we are now, but we are unable to recognize it.

Why this inability? Partly because our national accounting system, GDP, only measures “economic activity,” not true income, much less welfare. Rather than separate costs from benefits and compare them at the margin we just add up all final goods and services, including anti-bads (without subtracting the bads that made the anti-bad necessary). Also depletion of natural capital and natural services are counted as income, as are financial transactions that are nothing but bets on debts, and then further bets on those bets.

Also since no one wants to buy illth, it has no market price and is often ignored. But illth is a joint product with wealth and is everywhere: nuclear wastes, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, gyres of plastic trash in the oceans, the ozone hole, biodiversity loss, climate change from excess carbon in the atmosphere, depleted mines, eroded topsoil, dry wells, exhausting and dangerous labor, exploding debt, etc. Standard economists claim that the solution to poverty is more growth — without ever asking if growth still makes us richer, as it did back when the world was empty and the goal was full employment, rather than growth itself. Or has growth begun to make us poorer in a world that is now too full of us, and all our products, counted or not in GDP?

Does growth now increase illth faster than wealth? This is a threatening question, because if growth has become uneconomic then the solution to poverty becomes sharing now, not growth in the future. Sharing is frequently referred to as “class warfare.” But it is really the alternative to the class warfare that will result from the current uneconomic growth in which the dwindling benefits are privatized to the elite, while the exploding costs are socialized to the poor, the future, and to other species.http://www.countercurrents.org/daly050312.htm

Submitted by blake on March 6, 2012 - 7:09am.

California lawmaker writes 'Public Employees Bill of Rights'

Quote:

Requires employers exercise "preventive and corrective" actions before administering harsher employee discipline.

*sigh*

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