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Archive for the ‘American dream’ Category

 

 Pursuit of Happiness is a slippery slope for some.

 I am an incorrigible reader of news and where these are reporting human frailties my antenna goes up instantly; and with experience I know a good story even before I settle down to read it.

Take the following news for instance:

In the month of June 2012 one Patricia Smith, the former controller of an auto dealership in Pennsylvania, was headed to jail after embezzling $10 million from her former boss in a stunning case of a trusted employee looting the business then squandering the cash on luxuries.

Smith, who worked at Baierl Acura located in Wexford, Pa., an upper-middle class suburb of Pittsburgh, was convicted of systematically stealing for seven years–some $4,000 a day on average–for private jet travel, special trips to the theatre, fancy clothes and other goods, according to the court.

According to Shannon Pierre, of ABC Pittsburgh affiliate WTAE, who reported on the story from court, Smith’s reason for her crime spree was she felt like a “horrible daughter, wife, mother and friend” and the gifts were a way to “earn their love” because she wanted to see “what happiness looks like.”

Oh that was a good one! Pursuit of happiness was a phrase that made sense to Patricia. Here was happiness in its lurid colors and it didn’t work for her. In fact ‘pursuit of happiness’ was not simply a catchphrase but a whole sentence. Nearing retirement age she must serve 78 months in prison, three years of probation, and pay restitution of $10,349,569.14 for the fortune she obtained by making more than 800 money transfers from the Baierl Acura’s coffers to her personal accounts. (Good Morning America, June19, 2012).

When you are among lemmings watch out. Pursuit of happiness could land you in trouble.

Benny

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2008 was the year that changed the face of America forever, so it would seem. The American dream built on mass consumerism died a violent death. Global downturn it was called. Then there was another news that did not make much impact at the time except it gave the NRA a lethal awesomeness that made politics played around gun laws ever since a losing and dangerous game. In the District of Columbia v. Heller case the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia declared in the majority opinion, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.” Liberty in this Court ruling has since drawn blood and in my mind’s eye the torch that the Statue holds no longer throws light to the alien shores beckoning the poor huddled masses, to come in. With so many crime and economic malaise clinging at the many turnpikes there are no avenues open for them to seek relief under the skies of the home of the brave. The iconic Liberty instead looks sullen and sad: I see blood of the innocents spurting out unrelieved by politics of the law givers or the antics of the freedmen to the soil. It is slaughter of the innocents of another time. Instead of Herod I see NRA open for business all legal and sharp in its mien.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) only embarked on its modern crusade against virtually all gun legislation around 1970. Fully entering the political arena with its endorsement of Ronald Reagan for president in 1980, the NRA emerged as a key player in the conservative coalition that came to dominate the Republican Party. 

It’s hard to remember that for a while in the 1980s and 1990s, a limited form of gun control seemed politically possible. And following the 2008 Heller decision, it seemed the height of folly for legislators to take on gun control since the Supreme Court had so narrowed the framework for permissible regulation. As a result, even though the Aurora shootings took place in a swing state (Colorado) in an election year, Obama and the Democrats at the time never even raised the possibility of new federal legislation.
It is not white hats against black hats but the issue boils down is this: what liberty are you talking about when one in eight Americans is in need of some kind of psychiatric help? I aso see the specter of NRA like a mountebank at some fair grounds hustling the sick or with some identity problem to try ‘the toys’ piled up there. I remember an article posted on CNNMoney.com/ Parija Kavilanz/ July 26-7-12 that shows how the youth are out of touch with reality. Since it is relevant to understand the present predicament I shall give it at length:

For example manufacturing is a deep-rooted profession through generations of families in Southwest Michigan, USA. But many prefer to look elsewhere since manufacturing as shown in the TV/films always carries negative connotations.
“The public school system tells students that we have to go to college to be successful,” said one 18 year old who comes from the area, “Ever since you’re young, you hear that’s what you have to do to achieve the American dream.”
In these cash strapped times where unemployment is high, factory owners say they cannot find enough skilled workers.
“When I was an apprentice in the late ’70s, kids were dying to get into manufacturing. There were plenty of factory jobs,” said Joe Sedlak, a machinist who owns the Chesapeake Machine Company in Baltimore. “There are jobs for the taking today. But kids don’t want them.”
Stereotypes about factory jobs still persist. And the media isn’t helping, factory owners complain.
“On TV, kids don’t see many positive images of manufacturing,” said Bill Mach, president of Mach Mold, a manufacturer of plastics molds in Benton Harbor, Mich. A show will have a scene with “an old dark building with a bird flying out of it, and something bad happens.”
The industry needs an image boost, and young people need to get educated about high-skilled factory jobs, experts said.

Still, with almost 13 million unemployed Americans, including many high school graduates, he is struggling to fill positions.

A recent Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte report underscores that. Manufacturers currently have 600,000 vacancies nationwide, it said.

“Maybe we need someone cool like Clint Eastwood to say, ‘Go work in factories’ as a follow up to his Super Bowl Chrysler ad
Here we have a virtual reality of the real world filtered through the lens of pop culture. It would seem the visual generation cannot connect with the real world. In short they are in a bend and live in virtual world. It is not only an American crisis but also around the world. Crass commercialism has dulled the eyes of the youth. The shooter of Newtown, Connecticut had an identity problem, apparently. It is to him the merchant of death goads,’Hey kiddo! if you enjoyed wii II you will enjoy this still better’.
Land of the living or home of the brave shall remain a mirage until the lawgivers of the land learn to distinguish between politics for the responsible and politics of the senseless rhetorics.(ack: walter shapiro/Y News columnist-the longest war)
benny

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Runaway success of rich to be super-rich means poor shall be made super-poor.
The top 1% owns 40% of Nation’s wealth and the American dream gives 99% harsh reality of maintaining it.
This shows somewhere American passion for equality and fair pay has suffered serious damage. It would seriously curtail America’s role as champion of liberty and capitalism in the coming decades.
1. A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
2. Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be “low income” or impoverished.
3. If the number of Americans that “wanted jobs” was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11 percent.
4. The average amount of time that a worker stays unemployed in the United States is now over 40 weeks.
5. One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers.
6. There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.
7. Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8 percent once you account for inflation.
8. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.
9. A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that approximately one out of every five Americans that do have a job consider themselves to be underemployed.
10. According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
11. Back in 1980, less than 30 percent of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40 percent of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
12. Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job. In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.
13. One recent survey found that one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.
14. The Federal Reserve recently announced that the total net worth of U.S. households declined by 4.1 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone.
15. According to a recent study conducted by the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent.
16. As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married. Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.
17. The U.S. Postal Service has lost more than 5 billion dollars over the past year.
18. In Stockton, California home prices have declined 64 percent from where they were at when the housing market peaked.
19. Nevada has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for 59 months in a row.
20. If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.
21. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant. That figure is 63 percent larger than it was just ten years ago.
22. New home construction in the United States is on pace to set a brand new all-time record low in 2011.
23. 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 are now living with their parents.
24. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
25. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5 percent of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3 percent.
26. One study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
27. If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
28. The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.
29. It is being projected that the U.S. trade deficit for 2011 will be 558.2 billion dollars.
30. The retirement crisis in the United States just continues to get worse. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.
31. Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.
32. According to a study that was just released, CEO pay at America’s biggest companies rose by 36.5 percent in just one recent 12 month period.
33. Today, the “too big to fail” banks are larger than ever. The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.
34. The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.
35. According to an analysis of Census Bureau data done by the Pew Research Center, the median net worth for households led by someone 65 years of age or older is 47 times greater than the median net worth for households led by someone under the age of 35.
36. If you can believe it, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.
37. A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7 percent) than has ever been measured before.
38. Child homelessness in the United States is now 33 percent higher than it was back in 2007.
39. Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.
40. Sadly, child poverty is absolutely exploding all over America. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1 percent of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6 percent of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6 percent of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.
41. Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
42. In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.
43. A staggering 48.5 percent of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of government benefits. Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.
44. Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP. Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.
45. For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. federal government had a budget deficit of nearly 1.3 trillion dollars. That was the third year in a row that our budget deficit has topped one trillion dollars.
46. If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.
47. Amazingly, the U.S. government has now accumulated a total debt of 15 trillion dollars. When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.
48. If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.
49. The U.S. national debt has been increasing by an average of more than 4 billion dollars per day since the beginning of the Obama administration.
50. During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.
Of course, after going through all these numbers, the obvious question is, “how has it come to this?” The Economic Collapse has a simple answer:
. . . the heart of our economic problems is the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is a perpetual debt machine, it has almost completely destroyed the value of the U.S. dollar and it has an absolutely nightmarish track record of incompetence. If the Federal Reserve system had never been created, the U.S. economy would be in far better shape. The federal government needs to shut down the Federal Reserve and start issuing currency that is not debt-based.
But who among America’s leaders has the will and determination to do this? Judging by how the Obama administration has conducted itself thus far, it probably won’t consider (let alone implement) any of the suggestions mentioned in the above. Therefore, that leaves only the GOP candidates.
Who among them has the best chance to restore economic stability? Who is the most likely to return the U.S. to prosperity?
“Hopefully next year more Americans than ever will wake up, because 2012 is going to represent a huge turning point for this country,” TEC writes.
Indeed, 2012 may be one of the biggest turning points this country has ever seen.(ack:http://news.yahoo.com/50-facts-u-economy-shock)
benny

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We have heard the Buddhist monks in Tibet protesting against Chinese occupation. The world is too busy with other things. When their protests fall on deaf ears it may trigger self-immolation as we read of cases recently. Their acts were ultimate protest. They could not do anything more.
Self-immolation has an euphonious sound but the effect of it is terrible. Similarly life has a pretty ring but when it becomes intolerable a suicide may be the answer to some. We cannot judge them since we have not been tried to our utmost and left hanging without a way forward.
What shall a woman in desperation do? A mother who cannot for the life of her, feed her family?
Here is something that can go under the title Grimmer Tales from Never-never Land.
A nearly seven-hour hostage ordeal at the Texas Department of Health and Human Services office in Laredo proved fatal for a mother and her two children.

Rachelle Grimmer, 38, pulled a gun on the welfare office supervisor, Roberto Reyes, and her two children out of her frustration at being denied food stamps. The office’s other employees were able to safely evacuate the building, according to the San Antonio Express.
A SWAT team surrounded the building, and officers communicated with Grimmer throughout the ordeal.
But at midnight — shortly after Grimmer hung up on police — three shots were fired, causing the police to storm the building.
(abc Good Morning America-7 Dec.2011)
American Dream sounds more like Never-never land where illusions never change while the crooks who created 2008 Global Meltdown are touted as success stories.
benny

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The statutory U.S. corporate income tax rate is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, but over the 2008-2010 period thirty large companies while their profits were good avoided to pay their dues.
The average effective tax rate for the companies over the period was 18.5 percent, said Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, both think tanks.
Their report also listed General Electric Co, Paccar Inc, PG&E Corp, Computer Sciences Corp and NiSource Inc as among the 30 that paid no taxes. All 280 corporations examined were profitable over the period. Pepco Holdings, a Washington, D.C.-area power company, had the lowest effective tax rate, at negative 57.6 percent, among the 280 Fortune 500 companies studied. Corporations will say rightly that the loopholes that let them slash their taxes were perfectly legal, the report said.
“But that does not mean that low-tax corporations bear no responsibility … The laws were not enacted in a vacuum; they were adopted in response to relentless corporate lobbying, threats and campaign support,” the report said.
As Congress and the Obama administration struggle with a sluggish economy and high deficits, corporations are pressing Capitol Hill for more tax breaks, including one that would let them bring home overseas profits at a reduced tax rate.
The congressional “super committee” tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in additional budget savings by November 23 is so far deadlocked across a familiar divide — Republicans refusing any tax hikes, Democrats defending social programs.
On Tuesday, a panel of budget experts warned super committee members that they would fail the country if they do not meet their goal. Financial markets have been waiting for many months for signs that Washington can get its financial house in order, but few have been forthcoming.
Patriots all of them, but talk of paying their tax see how they behave? These are the very epitome of American Capitalism while the old, young and the veterans are thrown to the gutter to fend for themselves. Bill of Rights was penned by an archangel but tax loopholes are the work of Mammon. The same horned Beast also keeps 1% of the nation to enjoy the best fruits of other’s labor and luxuries they don’t really need but money can buy. Did I hear at some quarters the following cry, ‘Occupy the Wall Street is Un-American?’
I am afraid this life in the bubble of corporate greed is a phenomenon, which shall soon be a thing of the past. How long can man’s indifference to fellow man endure?
benny

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I used to fish whenever I had a chance. I have fished in the deep sea and in the canal behind my house whenever I had leisure and boy o boy! trouts love an angler like me. When they see my angle they know I am fishing for compliments.
No fear dearies! Had I been been less queasy about scaling or gutting myself I would have. Never mind, ethical living is what the modern world has come to.
Like Marx I thought hunting elephants in my pajamas was a good idea. Had I das Kapital I could have invested in a Winchester. In these cash strapped times one has to go with the flow and not get fancy ideas of hunting. Already I have been standing in the line for five hours and the employment is hard to come by. I hunted the other day for an employer who had his heart on the right side. I found one and he was eager to hire me without even checking my resume.
I did not have the heart to take the offer. ‘The hours are killing,’ said he,’no coffee breaks or no golden handshake.’
‘O I never pause for coffee. Except when I want to breathe.’ He took out his mobile, computed the number of pauses and giving me a dirty look, he said I was too expensive for him.
‘But I am taking next to nothing for 70 hour a week’, I spluttered. He shook his head and left me on the kerb. For the first time in my life my grin fell all askew and milk of human kindness somewhat curdled. I decided,’No more bright ideas to find a job except through the proper channel’.
Here you see I am all for ethical living. No jumping the queue or catching the media moghul Rupert Murdoch with a pie.
I intend to be a slave to ethical living. But economic slavery is alive and kicking, I know from the number of fellas who have been ass-kicked from 82 St to 43 St.There they live and have not dared to get up and go.It would fit well, like in somewhat variant version of the Sleeping Beauty, waiting for an employer in a shining armor to say the magic words,’You are hired!’
Ethical living is still alive. Ethics, forget it!
benny

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‘The signs of our times must be so bad that we must fashion God in our image. Recently I spent some time with a couple who had come from the US. He said he was all for the GOP and he minced no words to show he abhorred the liberalism that made the American society weak kneed. When I said God must love Americans because one in eight under the Republican Bush were medically uninsured his wife was sure that it was propaganda. She knew the youngsters did not care to insure themselves out of some cock-eyed optimism. ‘In America insurance is alive and kicking.’ Yes from their vehement rebuttals I knew the poor always were to be kicked around. Later we got to talk around the nature of God and His workings. I said,’God must be a liberal to make the sun shine on the good and the bad.’ My American friend pooh-poohed to say,”don’t be fooled Benny,”
Seeing my raised eyebrows he said,’ God is giving the ungodly a taste of hellfire to visit upon them.’ His words had a ring of the Bible and verses he quoted were from the Bible. Only that I didn’t see God whom I had in my innermost being before I knew what was good or bad or worshiped with conscious mind.’ Naturally I had to dismiss his God of his own making and of little worth.
benny

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