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My apologies for not posting…

After putting up the Joseph Stiglitz piece yesterday, the trackpad on my MacBook started playing games on me… going where it wanted to go, not where I did, and opening windows and folders I didn’t want to.

I spent most of the day cleaning the pad, trying all the downloads recommended on the help boards, loading and unloading applications, changing administrative sign-ons, etc., but it was only late in the evening that it started working more-or-less correctly again.  So far this morning there is no problem.

The non-working computer also kept me from finishing the article on the arts in Shepherdstown, WV, that I am writing for the new Fluent magazine… so that will take up a lot of my day today (assuming this baby keeps on course.)

So come on back later this afternoon and I hope something will be here for you.

-Bill

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Cheers for Joseph Stiglitz…

In a section of his book, “The Price of Inequality,” printed in Salon, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz gives a thorough analysis of why the top 1% is able to manipulate the rest of us by “brainwashing” us about inequality:

Joseph Stiglitz

The fact that the 1 percent has so successfully shaped public perception testifies to the malleability of beliefs. When others engage in it, we call it “brainwashing” and “propaganda.” We look askance at these attempts to shape public views, because they are often seen as unbalanced and manipulative, without realizing that there is something akin going on in democracies, too. What is different today is that we have far greater understanding of how to shape perceptions and beliefs — thanks to the advances in research in the social sciences.

It is clear that many, if not most, Americans possess a limited understanding of the nature of the inequality in our society: They believe that there is less inequality than there is, they underestimate its adverse economic effects, they underestimate the ability of government to do anything about it, and they overestimate the costs of taking action. They even fail to understand what the government is doing — many who value highly government programs like Medicare don’t realize that they are in the public sector.

Stiglitz compares the perceptions of Americans to citizens in other countries and discovers polar opposites in experience of  inequality and fairness. It is worth reading the whole article (HERE) to get his opinions on how beliefs effect reality,

Tomorrow is May Day… Workers of the World Get it Together

This was posted by Occupy Wall Strteet:

This May Day, hundreds of thousands of workers, immigrants, students, retirees, and unemployed people across the U.S. and around world will take to the streets, many for the first time. (If you are in NYC, check here for a schedule for the full day!) For folks new to protest (and of course, everyone else) we’ve thrown together a last-minute May Day Checklist:

What To Bring

(1) An affinity group: An affinity group is a group of people you know and trust. Before going to the demo, bring together a group of 2 or more friends and discuss your plans for the day, the tactics you plan on using, how comfortable you are risking arrest, etc. Everyone should have an affinity group, even if its just casual or informal. Once at the march, stick together and try to leave together. If someone has to leave early, make sure they do it safely. Make sure you have each other’s phone numbers. It might be a good idea to pair together more experienced protesters with newers folks. Most importantly, look out for each other.

(2) Footwear: Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to run in and won’t give you blisters. If possible, wear water-proof shoes. (There is a chance of showers tomorrow in NYC.) Don’t wear open-toe shoes.

(3) Band-aids: Your comfortable shoes may not be so comfortable after a day of marching, so bring band-aids in case of blisters.

(4) Water: Seriously. Lots and lots of water.

(5) Snacks: Especially nonperishable food like dried fruit, energy bars, nuts, and things that are easy to eat on-the-move.

(6) Backpack: Carry your stuff in a backpack. It´s easier to carry than a purse, especially if you need to run to catch up with a march. Also, pack light. Don´t bring unnecessary or heavy things, especially if you plan on being out all day.

(7) Multiple layers of clothes: Anticipate changes in weather. According to Weather Underground, the high in NYC for tomorrow is 72F and the low is 52F with a chance of showers.

(8) Cell phones and cameras: Cell phones are useful for communicating with others on the ground to get information and stay safe. You can also use video and cameras to document police brutality. You have a legal right to document police behavior and it is usually safe. However, be aware that police (especially the NYPD) have a documented history of targeting grassroots journalists with violence or arrest. (See here for more on your rights as a photographer.) If you do try to document police abuse, make sure you write down or photograph the officer’s badge number. Also be aware that there may be disruptions of service in heavily-clogged, high-traffic areas like lower Manhattan. (On #N17, the largest OWS action in NYC to date, many cell phones mysteriously stopped working.) Also, bring extra batteries and memory!

(9) Maps: Try to be familiar with the area before you go. Bring a map (on your phone or in print) with you and be aware of your surroundings.

(10) Rain gear: It might be a good idea to bring a poncho. Garbage bags also work. Keep in mind some police may perceive umbrellas as a threat. Bring extras of everything, kept dry in your backpack.

(11) Your own sign or banner: If you have a catchy slogan, bust out a sharper and some cardboard and tell the world! Write what makes you indignant; or, write something about the world you’d rather live in. Write why you´re on strike, or why you support #OWS, labor, students, immigrants, etc. Here are some common slogans: ¨Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out,¨ ¨We Are The 99%,¨ ¨Occupy Everywhere,¨ ¨We Are Unstoppable – Another World Is Possible.¨

(12) Know how to identify legal observers: Observers from the National Lawyers Guild will be on the ground throughout the day. You can identify them by their bright green hats. If you have important information for them (for example, one of your friends just got arrested) let them know. Don´t distract them otherwise. To report arrests on May Day in NYC, call the NLG at 212-679-6018. To help, text OWS-JS to 774-254-4697.

(13) Know how to Mic Check: One easy way to convey information to large groups of people is by using the People’s Mic. One person (or a few people) first yell ¨Mic Check!¨ Everyone who hears them responds by echoing ¨Mic Check!¨ After that, one person says a few words and pauses to let the crowd repeat those words. If you hear someone mic check, let them know by repeating too; that way, the people around you can also listen. However, if you disagree with what someone is saying, you don’t have to repeat it. This is a useful way to make spontaneous, democratic decisions. However, you should also be aware that false or misleading information can sometimes spread quickly this way, so don’t assume something is true just because it was said over the People’s Mic. (Hint: If you hear people chanting ¨Shame!¨ or ¨The whole world is watching!¨ it often means that police brutality and/or arrests are happening nearby. If you’re trying to avoid arrest, go the other way. Or, if you want to help or document, head over!)

(14) Smart phones: If you have one, install free aps like Twitter and Livestream so you can keep up on what´s going on elsewhere. There might be something important happening just a block away, but impossible to see. The best way to get up-to-the-minute information is by following Twitter accounts. Here are a few: #M1NYC | #M1GS | #GeneralStrike | #MayDay | @OWSMayDay | @OccupyGenStrk | @StrikeEverywher | @OccupyGenStrike. However, as with Mic Checks, be aware that information on Twitter might not be 100% accurate.

(15) Know your rights: The ACLU has some good basic info on your legal right to protest here. If you are a transgender or gender non-conforming, check out this helpful document for trans people participating in direct actions. If you are an active duty Service Member, note that your rights are different. (See below for some more helpful information if you are worried about being arrested.)

(16) Drums, whistles, noisemakers, giant puppets: They’re fun!

(17) WHAT NOT TO BRING: Illegal drugs, weapons, your address book, anything that could be potentially incriminating (including pictures on your cell phone).

Have Fun! Get the word out! Let me k now how it goes.

Quote of the Day – as we look at the Florida Primary, where does Obama stand?

“If his predecessor cursed Obama by handing him a depression and two wars, the Good Lord has blessed him with the weakest field of opponents in memory. I stand by my early assessment: when I look at the economy, I think Obama can’t win, but when I look at the Republicans, I think he can’t lose. The economy is starting to get better; the Republicans aren’t. The president has moved to the populist center, smoothly co-opting the legitimate grievances of the Occupy Wall Street movement and ensuring that he wouldn’t face a primary challenge from the left. ‘Barack’ means blessing in Swahili. Perhaps ‘Obama’ means luckier than a dog with two tongues.”

Paul Begala

… and it looks like Romney will carry Florida, mainly by overspending Newt and his other opponents by a total of 12 million bucks. Money can buy anything.

Quote of the Day – Looks like the Occupy Movement will benefit Obama

“While people were pretty evenly split on whether the administration favors the middle class, the rich or the poor, they were all but unanimous about which class the Republicans favor; 69 percent said Republicans in Congress favor the rich, while just 9 percent said the middle class and 2 percent said the poor. That’s a significant perception problem for the GOP, and the Occupy Wall Street protesters — for whatever bad press they have created and will create due to the actions of some participants — are rallying support against the very class that the GOP is thought to favor.”

Chris Cillizza, The Fix, Washington Post

I’m not sure the GOP cares… nothing else that has been said, polled, complained about or done has gotten them to listen to the Middle Class that they started to disable with Reagan. The day one of those turkeys comes out to Tax The Rich and gets the Republican Party behind him (or her) is the day the world will end.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Occupation and Economics

Lalo Alcaraz from Universal U-Click:

The 99% get bigger on the Occupy Wall Street march…

– and –

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

Of course, the Right Wing represents the 1%…

– and –

Ben Sargent in the Austin American-Statesman:

We have not stopped the banks from robbing the middle class

 

What if…..?

When I look at the political cesspool we are currently splashing around in… a Republican House that follows a number one rule to let nothing Obama proposes pass… a Senate where the 60 vote rule can hold up absolutely everything, whether there is a simple majority or not… a president who has tried to get along with both faces of the political Janus, ending with nothing… a supreme court that has wed itself to the concept of corporate personhood… when I look at all of this I think “What if the Republicans win in 2012?”

In a sense, the Occupy Wall Street (and other places) demonstrators are asking the same question… with the added codicil “What do we do about it?”

I’m not sure that, beyond joining them in the street, there is anything that can be done that would make an instant change. If the government becomes entirely Republican in 2012, the corporate takeover of all America will be fulfilled. The hopes of democracy will fade away and will have a very hard time reappearing.

 

Quote of the Day – Time for us all to get involved…

“The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are shining a light on one of the most serious problems facing the United States — the greed and power of Wall Street.  Now is the time for the American people to demand that the president and Congress follow that light — and act.  The future of our economy is at stake.”

Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders hits it right on the head. For my local fans, Occupy Martinsburg is starting this weekend… let’s get out there and see what Shelley Moore Capito (millionaire, btw) is going to do about it.

 

Economic Quote for the Day

Why do we need banks at all? If it sounds crazy – a world without banks – it is not.

We have become so used to storing money in banks and talking to our banks that we have forgotten what they do. Simply put, banks borrow money from you, and lend it out to borrowers at a higher rate than they pay you in interest. That is it: Banks are lenders. They provide credit. Everything else is window dressing.

***

You think banks provide safety? Wrong. That is the government and FDIC…. So why do you go to a bank? Because your brain has been trained to believe that you can trust them.  Their brand means safety to you. You assume that their risk management is better than yours, and therefore will protect your money and enhance its value.

What if that assumption is wrong?

– Economist Michael Eisenberg quoted in Washington’s Blog

There are so many potential enemies destroying our free society through economic and political means that it it hard to see where to grab on that would be effective. I watch the spread of Occupy Wall Street and I am impressed with the energy, but I don’t see where it will end… positively or negatively.

Meanwhile, we are slowly moving into Depression-level Unemployment and politicians are very busy clawing at each other as a means to attract corporations.

It’s hard to see a way to win given the present Congress and Administration. If we could only Raise FDR from the grave (Yeah, I’m influenced by Greek Tragedy.)