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Friday, April 29, 2011

Tyranny Trumps Democracy: Michigan Governor Seizes Unilateral Control of Selected Towns & School Districts, Appoints Corporate Style Emergency Managers

 Overseer  Brags About "Sheer Scope of his Unilateral Authority"


Insurers Getting Rich By Not Paying for Care

by Wendell Potter
Center for Media and Democracy
April 25, 2011 - 10:18am

If I had stayed in the insurance industry, my net worth would have spiked between 4 p.m. Wednesday and 4 p.m. Thursday last week -- and I wouldn't even have had to show up for work.

I'm betting that just about every executive of a for-profit health insurance company, whose total compensation ultimately depends on the value of their stock options, woke up on Good Friday considerably wealthier than they were 24 hours earlier. Why? Because of the spectacular profits that one of those companies reported Thursday morning.

Among those suddenly wealthier executives, by the way, are the corporate medical directors who decide whether or not patients will get coverage for treatments their doctors believe might save their lives.

UnitedHealth Group, the biggest health insurer in terms of revenue and market value, earned so much more during the first three months of this year than Wall Street expected that investors rushed to buy shares of every one of the seven health insurers that comprise the managed care sector. In my view, it would be more accurate to call it the managed care cartel.

UnitedHealth is always the first of the big seven to announce earnings every quarter, so investors consider it a bellwether. If UnitedHealth exceeds Wall Street's expectations, as it has been doing consistently, investors assume that the other six will do likewise. Sure enough, all seven -- Aetna, CIGNA, Coventry, Health Net, Humana, UnitedHealth and WellPoint -- saw their stock prices close Thursday afternoon at or near 52-week highs.

UnitedHealth's shares shot up more than 8 percent during the day. Increases of that magnitude are so rare that I could almost hear the champagne corks popping in the Minnetonka, Minnesota office of UnitedHealth's CEO, Stephen J. Hemsley.

Wall Street analysts had worried that health insurers would have such a hard time complying with the provisions of the year-old health care reform law that their profit margins would decline. Those concerns were put to rest when UnitedHealth reported that its operating margins were "stable" at 8.7 percent in the quarter. The company's stellar performance should also put to rest -- forever -- the myth that "ObamaCare" is "bleeding insurers dry," as industry apologist Sally Pipes contended in a Feb. 24 commentary in Forbes.

Noting that UnitedHealth's 13 percent increase in profits prompted the company to raise its full-year earnings forecast, the Minneapolis Star Tribune opined, "Life under new health care reform laws may not be so rough after all."

Indeed. Consider these numbers: UnitedHealth's profit during the first three months of this year increased to $1.35 billion from $1.19 billion a year ago. When you do the math to determine the company's earnings per share, the result is nothing short of jaw-dropping. On that basis, UnitedHealth's profit jumped from $1.03 to $1.22 per share. Wall Street analysts had been expecting the company to earn just 89 cents a share. When you beat Wall Street's expectations by 33 cents a share, you have accomplished something that most CEOs can only dream about. 
Continue reading here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Massachusetts Dems Pass Bill to 'Eliminate Collective Bargaining as We Know It'

By Mike Elk, a third-generation union organizer and labor journalist based in Washington, D.C.
MichaelMoore.com
April 28th, 2011 6:24 AM 

Last night, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill (111-42) to strip public-sector workers of their ability to bargain collectively for healthcare. The rhetoric surrounding the bill, proposed by Democratic State House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, is in many ways similar to what Wisconsinites recently heard as Gov. Walker pushed his infamous unionbusting bill.

But how could a state in which Democrats control both the State House and the Governor’s mansion be pushing a bill that attacks workers’ rights to collectively bargain?

The State of Massachusetts currently faces a budget deficit of $1.9 billion. House Democrats say that by limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees over healthcare they can save the state $100 million a year. Democrats in Massachusetts, much like Democrats in New York, have focused on cutting basic government services and workers’ wages instead of raising taxes on the richest. Thus, House Speaker DeLeo proposed the plan that would limit the rights of employees to collective bargain over healthcare. And many Democrats, who have been supported by labor unions in the state, passed it.

“We are going to fight this thing to the bitter end,’’ Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, told the Boston Globe last night.  “Massachusetts is not the place that takes collective bargaining away from public employees.’’

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Connect the Dots: "Civics and Policy Basics for the Busy Majority"

Connect the Dots  


Budgets and Deficits and Debt, Oh My!


Click here for slides, and to print booklet
Andrea Witte's new website urges you to

HELP SPREAD THE WORD:

"Share these presentations (or even just a single slide) with your friends, family members and co-workers. Let’s keep asking for more dots and keep connecting the dots to good policies so we can get our country back on track. And let’s ensure our democracy lives up to our children’s expectations."

Congressional People's Caucus 'People's Budget' Earns High Marks For Fiscal Responsibility

 Congressional Progressive Caucus

The CPC proposal:

• Eliminates the deficits and creates a surplus by 2021
• Puts America back to work with a “Make it in America” jobs program
• Protects the social safety net
• Ends the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
• Is FAIR (Fixing America’s Inequality Responsibly)

What the proposal accomplishes:
• Primary budget balance by 2014.
• Budget surplus by 2021.
• Reduces public debt as a share of GDP to 64.1% by 2021, down 16.5 percentage points from
a baseline fully adjusted for both the doc fix and the AMT patch.
• Reduces deficits by $5.6 trillion over 2012-21, relative to this adjusted baseline.
• Outlays equal to 22.2% of GDP and revenue equal 22.3% of GDP by 2021.



Support for the People's Budget
Paul Krugman

“genuinely courageous”

“achieves this without dismantling the legacy of the New Deal”

Dean Baker"
if you want a serious effort to balance the budget, here it is."

Jeffrey Sachs

“A bolt of hope…humane, responsible, and most of all sensible”

The Economist

“Courageous”

“Mr Ryan's plan adds (by its own claims) $6 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, but promises to balance the budget by sometime in the 2030s by cutting programmes for the poor and the elderly. The Progressive Caucus's plan would (by its own claims) balance the budget by 2021 by cutting defence spending and raising taxes, mainly on rich people.”

The New Republic

“In passing, Miller also draws attention something that's gotten far too little attention in this debate. The most fiscally responsible plan seems to be neither the Republicans' nor the president's. It's the Congressional Progressive Caucus plan…”

The Washington Post

"It’s much more courageous to propose taxes on the rich and powerful than spending cuts on the poor and disabled."

Rachel Maddow

“Balances the budget 20 years earlier than Paul Ryan even tries to”

The Guardian

“the most fiscally responsible in town… would balance the books by 2021“

The Nation

"the strongest rebuke...to the unconscionable 'Ryan Budget' for FY 2012."

Center for American Progress

"once again put[s] requiring more sacrifice from the luckiest among us back on the table"

Economic Policy Institute

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ryan's Medicare Plan Would Be a Windfall for Insurance Companies

By Wendell Potter
opednews.com
4/22/11


Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare would accelerate a trend started several years ago by corporate CEOs and their political allies to shift ever-increasing amounts of risk from Big Business and the government to workers and retirees.

If enacted, the Ryan plan would represent a windfall of unprecedented proportions for insurance corporations and other businesses.

For millions of average Americans, many of whom already are finding it impossible to save for retirement, it would represent financial calamity. The nation's middle class would pay dearly for Ryan's proposed shredding of the social safety net that Medicare currently provides.

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, wants to dismantle the Medicare program and replace it with a system of vouchers. Starting in 2022, the government would give the average 65-year-old Medicare beneficiary $8,000 a year to buy coverage from a private insurer. That's the amount health care analysts estimate will be what the Medicare program will spend on every 65-year-old in 2022 if the government doesn't turn it over to private insurance companies.

While that might sound fair on the surface, it would actually be a very bad deal for people who turn 65 that year, compared to those who turn 65 in 2021. That's because commercial insurance plans are much more expensive, and operate far less efficiently, than the current Medicare program.

The amount of money commercial plans actually spend to pay medical claims has been declining rapidly over the past several years while the amount they spend on administrative activities such as marketing and underwriting -- and to pay executives and reward shareholders -- has been increasing. That's why Congress included a provision in last year's health care reform law to require insurance firms to spend no more than 20 percent of their policyholders' premiums on overhead. By contrast, the current Medicare program spends just 3 percent of its budget on administration.

Continue reading here.

For 20 years, Wendell Potter worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors.

Wendell Potter is the Senior Fellow on Health Care for the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin.  Read his blog 
http://wendellpotter.com/blog

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Real News: Draconian Michigan Bill Promoted by Major Corporations

American Legislative Exchange Council organizes national campaign to pass "model" legislation in states     

Watch Video:

More at The Real News

My Medicare Deficit Solution

By James Kwak
Baseline Scenario

David Brooks, perhaps realizing that it was a bad idea to swallow a politician’s PR bullet points whole, is now backpedaling. The Ryan Plan, which he originally hailed as “the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes,” now has the principal virtue of existing: “Because he had the courage to take the initiative, Paul Ryan’s budget plan will be the starting point for future discussions.”

As I’ve discussed before, the Ryan Plan is just one bad idea dressed up with the false precision of lots of numbers: changing Medicare from a health insurance program to a cash redistribution program that gives up on managing health care costs. Here’s the key chart from the CBO repor




Here’s how to read that chart. In 2030, under current law, a 65-year-old Medicare beneficiary’s health care will cost $60. (Obviously, this is using an index, not real dollars.) Medicare will pay $35 and the beneficiary will pay $25 in Part B premiums and cost sharing. Under the CBO’s more likely “alternative fiscal scenario,” her health care will cost $71, of which Medicare will pay $41. Under the Ryan plan, the same health care purchased in the private market will cost $100; “Medicare” will give her a $32 voucher, and she’ll pay the last $68 on her own.

The bottom line is that the Ryan Plan increases beneficiary costs more than it reduces government costs. In a weird sense, it’s a bizarrely pro-government plan: it helps the government’s bottom line at the expense of ordinary people.

So what should we do? Most importantly, we have to recognize that there are two separate problems, and they are not equal. The primary problem is health care inflation. The secondary problem is the long-term Medicare deficit. That’s a secondary problem because it’s largely a result of the primary problem. 

Continue reading here.

And here is the rest of it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Ayn Rand Became an American Icon

By Johann Hari
Slate
Posted Monday, Nov. 2, 2009, at 7:01 AM ET  

The perverse allure of a damaged woman.

Ayn Rand is one of America's great mysteries. She was an amphetamine-addicted author of sub-Dan Brown potboilers, who in her spare time wrote lavish torrents of praise for serial killers and the Bernie Madoff-style embezzlers of her day. She opposed democracy on the grounds that "the masses"—her readers—were "lice" and "parasites" who scarcely deserved to live. Yet she remains one of the most popular writers in the United States, still selling 800,000 books a year from beyond the grave. She regularly tops any list of books that Americans say have most influenced them. Since the great crash of 2008, her writing has had another Benzedrine rush, as Rush Limbaugh hails her as a prophetess. With her assertions that government is "evil" and selfishness is "the only virtue," she is the patron saint of the tea-partiers and the death panel doomsters. So how did this little Russian bomb of pure immorality in a black wig become an American icon?

Two new biographies of Rand—Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns and Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne Heller—try to puzzle out this question, showing how her arguments found an echo in the darkest corners of American political life.* But the books work best, for me, on a level I didn't expect. They are thrilling psychological portraits of a horribly damaged woman who deserves the one thing she spent her life raging against: compassion.


Continue reading here.

For an edgier take on Ayn Rand and her admiration for a serial killer click here.

VIDEO: The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand

By Jeff Sprouss
ThinkProgress
April 18, 2011

 A film adaptation of the 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, opened this past Friday. The release of the film has coincided with a resurgence of popularity for Rand on the American Right. The trailer for Atlas Shrugged had its world premier at this year’s CPAC conference, the Tea Party group FreedomWorks has rolled out a massive campaign to promote the film, and the story’s opening line — “Who is John Galt?” — has appeared on numerous signs at Tea Party rallies.

At the same time, some of the right’s leading political and media lights have heaped praise upon Rand. The author of the Republicans’ new budget plan to gut Medicare and Medicaid, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), has said Rand is the reason he entered politics, and requires his staff to read her work. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) have both declared themselves devotees of her writing. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has his law clerks watch the film adaptation of Rand’s book The Fountainhead. She’s also received accolades from right-wing pundits Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, John Stossel, and Andrew Napolitano

During her lifetime, Rand advocated “the virtue of selfishness,” declared altruism to be “evil,” opposed Medicare and all forms of government support for the middle-class and the poor, and condemned Christianity for advocating love and compassion for the less fortunate:



Continue reading here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Democracy Now Interview with author of 'Treasure Islands' Says Tax Havens Tied to Wall Street Power

 April 15 2011
Democracy Now

Democracy Now features an eyepopping interview with British journalist Nicholas Shaxson, author of a new book Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens.  who exposes how corporations and the wealthy avoid taxes and governmental regulations by sending money to offshore banks and tax havens. Shaxon says that there is anywhere from $10 to $20 trillion sitting offshore. He says it is "bigger and badder" than we ever imagined.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Democracy Now: Rep. Grijalva Unveils Progressive Caucus' "People's Budget" That Puts "Realistic Alternative" On the Table



Democracy Now April 14, 2011

TAX DAY 2011: Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?

Click On Picture to Enlarge
Check out the National Priorities Project

Thom Hartmann: Secrets the Rich Don't Want You to Know

Thursday, April 14, 2011

NPR: Planned Parenthood: A Thorn In Abortion Foes' Sides

video
by JULIE ROVNER
A lot of people were surprised when House Republicans' desire to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood very nearly caused the shutdown of the federal government last week.

But those who have watched the abortion debate over a long period of time were not surprised.

Despite the successes members of the anti-abortion movement have had over the years in restricting the procedure, "Planned Parenthood remains the thorn in their side," says Deana Rohlinger, associate professor of sociology at Florida State University.

Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest single provider of abortions, yet it gets millions of dollars in federal funding with which to provide other services. Efforts to change that have been unsuccessful not only with this last go-round, but also stretching back nearly three decades.

That makes abortion opponents see red.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Conservative Info Wars Training Seminars

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System

By Chris Hedges
Truthdig
Posted on Apr 10, 2011

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.

Continue reading here.

War on the Weak

By Jonathan Chait, Editor of the New Republic
Newsweek
April 10, 2011

26Dems Editorial Note: This author traces the philosophical origins of the Tea Party that sprang from the cult of Ayn Rand, whose thinking turned Marxism upside down through advocacy for rewarding  wealthy  producers and punishing "parasite" workers.   This stark philosophy demands that the weak suffer, a concept that would upend American society, and abandon the role of government in preserving equality of opportunity and supplying necessities for survival of "the least of these." Rep. Paul Ryan is devoted to replacing American democracy with Ayn Randism. Read this important article that explains the frightening reality behind the uncompromising GOP budget demands that put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block this week.


How the GOP came to view the poor as parasites—and the rich as our rightful rulers.
Last week the Republican Party sounded two distinct voices. First we heard the angry demands of the Tea Party, speaking through its hardline conservative allies in the House, pushing the government to the brink of a shutdown. But then emerged the soothing tones of Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, who fashions himself the intellectual leader of the party, unveiling a budget manifesto he calls the “Path to Prosperity.”

Ryan portrays his goals in reassuringly pecuniary terms—he’s just the friendly neighborhood accountant here to help balance your checkbook. “I have a knack for numbers,” he chirps. ABC News compared him to a character in Dave, the corny 1993 movie about an average Joe who mistakenly assumes the presidency and calls in his CPA buddy—that would be Ryan—to scour the federal budget and bring it into balance. If he has any flaw, he just cares too much about rescuing the country from debt, gosh darn it! 


Continue reading here.

Are We a Society?

By Gary Hart, Scholar in Residence at the University of Colorado
Huffington Post
April 4, 2011
When asked about the impact of her draconian policies on British society, then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is reported to have said, "There is no such thing as society."

The current U.S. budget confrontation raises the same issue: Is there such a thing as an American society? The Oxford dictionary defines society as: "the sum of human conditions and activity regarded as a whole functioning interdependently" and as "the customs and organization of an ordered community."

The current confrontation between parties and ideologies is over the role of government. But even more deeply it is a foundational disagreement over whether we are a society, a community, or whether we are a collection of individuals inhabiting the same geographical space.

If we are all "in this together," then we share more than just an interest in collective security. And if we have collective interests, the instrument by which we pursue and promote those interests is the national government, not Wall Street or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As we learned in 1929 and 2008, markets can fail, usually through greed and lack of regulation. Although a rising tide lifts all boats, a falling tide lowers all boats, except for the gilded yachts.

The Goldwater-Reagan-Gingrich-Tea Party revolutions all called into question whether we are a society and therefore whether we act through our national government to pursue our common interests. Though virtually all mature democracies have basically resolved this question decades ago, the people of the United States seem unable to do so. Many Americans continue to believe we can have the public services a very large majority wants without paying very much for them. Thus the "waste, fraud, and abuse" of the Reagan years. Or a recurring vocal minority continues to argue that we should do away with those services altogether and devil-take-the-hindmost.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Religious Right's Anti-Union Crusade

By Josh Harkinson
Mother Jones
Mon Apr. 4, 2011 3:17 AM PDT



Wisconsin's ongoing labor battle has officially become a holy war. The Family Research Council, the evangelical advocacy organization founded by James Dobson, has been dipping into its war chest to defend Republican Governor Scott Walker's efforts to curtail collective bargaining for public-sector unions. FRC president Tony Perkins interviewed backers of Walker's anti-union bill on his weekly radio program and has tweeted his support for the bill, directly linking social conservatism with an anti-union, pro-business agenda: "Pro-family voters should celebrate WI victory b/c public & private sector union bosses have marched lock-step w/liberal social agenda."

Continue reading here

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ryan’s Plan Neither Serious nor Courageous; Assumes 2.8% Unemployment Over Next Decade

By Joe Conason
Posted on Apr 8, 2011
Truthdig
© 2011 CREATORS.COM

What the meteoric career of Paul Ryan demonstrates is how easily impressed we are whenever a politician purports to restore solvency by punishing the poor and the elderly (while coddling the rich). The Wisconsin Republican congressman’s fiscal plan has won rave reviews from both the usual right-wing suspects and some self-styled centrists, who have praised him and his proposals as “serious,” “courageous” and even “uplifting.”

By now, however, those who have actually examined the Ryan plan with care and competence know that those acclamations are highly exaggerated, which is probably a far too polite description. 

Continue reading here. 

CBO: Seniors Would Pay Much More For Medicare Under Ryan Plan

By Julie Appleby, Mary Agnes Carey and Laurie McGinley
KHN Staff Writers
Kaiser Health News
APR 05, 2011

Seniors and the disabled would pay sharply more for their Medicare coverage under a new plan by House Republicans aimed at curbing the nation’s growing deficit, a Congressional Budget Office analysis shows.

For example, by 2030, under the plan, typical 65 year olds would be required to pay 68 percent of the total cost of their coverage, which includes premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs, according to CBO.  That compares with the 25 percent they would pay under current law, CBO said.

The GOP budget proposal also would raise the eligibility age for the politically popular program – and repeal big chunks of the health care overhaul law approved by Congress last year.And here is the rest of it.

Continue reading here

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Democracy Now: Joseph Stiglitz Addresses Class Divide "Of the 1%, by the 1% and For the 1%"

Democracy Now
April 7, 2011

Click here

This week Republicans unveiled a budget proposal for 2012 that cuts more than $5.8 trillion in government spending over the next decade. The plan calls for sweeping changes to Medicaid and Medicare, while reducing the top corporate and individual tax rates to 25 percent. We speak to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who addresses the growing class divide taking place in the United States and inequality in a new Vanity Fair article titled "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%." Stiglitz is a professor at Columbia University and author of numerous books, most recently Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy.

"It’s not just that the people at the top are getting richer," Stiglitz says. "Actually, they’re gaining, and everybody else is decreasing... And right now, we are worse than old Europe."

Pay Much Attention to the Insurers Behind Paul Ryan's Curtain

By Wendell Potter, Former insurance company executive; author
Huffington Post
April 7, 2011


Democrats who think Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues have foolishly wrapped their arms around the third rail of American politics by proposing to hand the Medicare program to private insurers will themselves look foolish if they take for granted that the public will always be on their side.

Rep. Ryan's budget proposal would radically reshape both the Medicare and Medicaid programs. It would turn Medicaid into a block grant, which would give states more discretion over benefits and eligibility. And it would radically redesign Medicare, changing it from what is essentially a government-run, single-payer health plan to one in which people would choose coverage from competing private insurance firms, many of them for-profit.

Click here
Poll numbers would seem to give the Democrats the edge in what will undoubtedly be a ferocious debate over the coming months and during the 2012 campaigns. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted February 27-28 showed that 76 percent of Americans considered cuts to Medicare unacceptable. The public is almost as resistant to cutting Medicaid, at least for now: 67 percent of Americans said they found cutting that program unacceptable as well.

According to a story in Politico this week, Democrats "with close ties to the White House" think Ryan has handed them a gift that will keep on giving. They believe the Ryan blueprint will enable them to portray Republicans as both irresponsible and heartless, hellbent on unraveling the social safety net that has protected millions of Americans for decades. That message will be the centerpiece of the Democrats' advertising and fundraising efforts, unnamed party strategists told Politico.

Perhaps. But know this: Ryan et al would never propose such a fundamental reshaping of those programs unless they were confident that corporate America stands ready to help them sell their ideas to the public. Like big business CEOs, Congressional Republicans wouldn't think of rolling out Ryan's budget plan without a carefully crafted political and communications strategy and the assurance that adequate funding would be available to carry it out.

Follow Wendell Potter on Twitter

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sharp Drop in American Enthusiasm for Free Market, Poll Shows

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 by World Public Opinion.org
American public support for the free market economy has dropped sharply in the past year, and is now lower than in China, according to a GlobeScan poll released today.

The findings, drawn from 12,884 interviews across 25 countries, show that there has been a sharp fall in the number of Americans who think that the free market economy is the best economic system for the future.

When GlobeScan began tracking views in 2002, four in five Americans (80%) saw the free market as the best economic system for the future--the highest level of support among tracking countries. Support started to fall away in the following years and recovered slightly after the financial crisis in 2007/8, but has plummeted since 2009, falling 15 points in a year so that fewer than three in five (59%) now see free market capitalism as the best system for the future. 

Continue reading here.

Thom Hartmann: Must see! The TRUE story of the Tea Party

Submitted by Thom Hartmann A... on 1. April 2011 - 6:48

Monday, April 4, 2011

Renewables Are More Than Ready

By Karl Grossman  
opednews.com
April 4, 2011


  "Wind and solar are great but strictly supplemental," declared Al Velshi on CNN on Sunday, March 27 in a report on the nuclear power disaster in Japan.

  "You're wrong," environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a guest, shot back.

Indeed, Velshi was wrong--as have so many in media been -in declaring that the choice in energy in the wake of the nuclear disaster in Japan is between nuclear on one side and coal, oil and gas on the other.

In fact, there's no need for nuclear power because there are safe, clean, renewable energy technologies, not coal, oil and gas, here to substitute for nuclear power.

Scientific American, a most conservative scientific publication, in a cover story on October 26, 2009--unveiled its "A Plan for a Sustainable Future" It declared in its "Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables" that, "wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world's energy, eliminating all fossil fuels."

            The British magazine, New Scientist, in a special October 11-17, 2009 issue on safe, clean, renewable energy technologies--titled "Our Brighter Future"--presented a United Nations report declaring that "renewable energy that can already be harnessed economically would supply the world's electricity needs"

            From solar to wind (now the fastest-growing and cheapest new energy technology) to wave-power to tidal-power to bio-fuels to small hydropower to co-generation (combining the generation of heat and electricity) and on and on, a renewable energy windfall is at hand.


Continue reading here.

60 Minutes: The Next Housing Shock

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Wave of Wackiness Sweeps America

By Don Monkerud
Consortium News
April 1, 2011

Consortium News Editor’s Note: The Tea Party’s electoral earthquake last November has set off a tsunami of political wackiness that is crashing across the United States, with Republican officeholders racing to stay ahead of the surge, as Don Monkerud notes in this guest essay:

Guns in churches, schools and bars. Immigrants expelled to solve financial problems. Morality praised as the key national issue.

American politics are getting more bizarre and in some cases, border on the nutty. Current politics include Republican legislatures in Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Minnesota fighting for their "rights" to reject energy efficiency light bulbs, while South Carolina will manufacture their own state's rights incandescent bulbs.

Alaska wants to eliminate federal protection of salmon, polar bears, seals and wolves in favor of "state sovereignty." Dozens of states pledge to roll back "Obamacare," and protect their citizens' right to high-priced monopoly healthcare.

A GOP legislator in New Hampshire recommends sending the disabled and homeless to Siberia where it's cheaper to live. 

Continue reading here.