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 Volume 1-2012                                                           


The RCJ provides RSS feeds from well-respected news organizations, giving our readers a convenient portal through which to stay abreast of world events and issues. Use the links provided.

The New York Times

The Huffington Post

The Economist

The Daily Beast


Politics Daily

Wall Street Journal

Ezra Klein's WonkBlog - Washington Post

Nuclear Threat Initiative




Rolling Stone




Fix America Now

Iceberg Economy: How the Supply Siders are Sinking the Ship of State

Bloomberg Illustrates Dodd-Frank Regulations for Investors

DAVOS WEF Points Out Single Points of Failure in the New Global Economy

Soulless Possession of Santo Nińo


What Keeps NBC's Chuck Todd Up at Night?

"King of Bain" - Documentary on Mitt Romney's Private Equity Firm Bain Capital

Robert Smigel's Lost Ode to the Evil of General Electric

Riddle This: Do Our Governmental Systems Hinder Mitigation of Harmful Influences to Our System of Government?

The Achievement Metric - Time for a New Way of Determining Public Policy and Positioning Revenue Spending

Hide Your Brains! Matthews from the Left! Gingrich from the Right! Blowhard Attack! Or, more to the point...book reviews of "JFK Elusive Hero" and "Valley Forge"

Art Sampler - An RCJ Review of Art in the Modern Period

Benicia, California Case Study in Traffic Engineering and Growth Management

Everyday Heroism - The Penn State Debacle

How to Keep Things Lousy in the USA

How Being a Socialist Became a Negative



Are You A Slave? A Brief History of the Subject Suggests "Probably"

Moses, Wall Street, Human Nature and Grover Norquist

Concepts of Resistance - The RCJ Provides a Road Map for the OWS Movement

Lance Henriksen - World's Greatest Actor in Reflective Mode

Conspiracy - A Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the New World Order

Elections 2012

What Does it Take to be President?

Rating the U.S. News Readers

The Antidote to Michelle Bachman

Ship of Fools - Why Won't We Save Ourselves?

White House Solar Bomb

What Is Happening to Us?

The Cloud - What It Is

Background on Afghanistan

Economics 101

Global Economic Risks

Islamic Definition

Middle East

Second Amendment Remedies

Sam Broussard - Republicans


Why All the Zombies?

Gun Rights

Leadership Chronicles



Whatever Happened to Win-Win?

Rick Alan Rice - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and the Revolution Culture Journal.

As I have watched the negotiations taking place on Capitol Hill over the last many years, and most notably since Barack Obama took office in 2009, I have wondered whatever happened to the negotiation concept of “win-win”? Have we, as a society, given up on that now? Read Post - Comment

Is Belief In God a Sign of Weakness?

No, but it may be a signal for help, and not necessarily in a bad way.

God is a construction of peoples’ need to have an organizing influence in their lives, standards to live by, and some reason to carry on. In all of those ways, God and everything that comes with it – the afterlife, sense of well being and spiritual comfort, and purpose in all things – is truly helpful to people, as various studies have seemed to indicate. Belief is powerful, almost regardless of its details.

That God, and the belief therein, is a signal for help is endemic to the genesis of the subject, if you will pardon the pun.
Read Post - Comment


Letter to Conservatives: The Party of Wealth – Theirs

Sam Broussard - Writer, Songwriter, Musician, member of Steve Reilly and the Mamou Playboys


Three of the front runners for the Republican nomination are now just memories, pundit fodder: Huckabee and Trump, and Palin recedes into political tinnitus. But the retiring of all three has one thing in common, and it’s money. Huckabee just bought a huge house in Florida and is enjoying his status and salary at Fox News. Trump is more at home on his reality show. And Palin is enjoying both Fox money and reality TV and will probably be the next Oprah Winfrey, although she’ll never get more than twenty percent of the viewers because only that percentage of Americans can identify with her spunky pride in her ignorance. And yes, she’s pretty.

Read Post - Comment


We Need A New Party!

Kenny Lee Lewis - Member of The Steve Miller Band, Guitarist/singer/songwriter, Novelist/screenwriter' www.kennyleelewis.com, www.stevemillerband.com

I am a rock star. Ok, ok, I am in a band with a rock star.  I am also a husband, father of three daughters, and a small business owner who pays his taxes like anyone else. I never got into politics until the last election and wrote and produced a non-partisan PSA video for Comcast called “Get Out and Vote” to help assuage voter apathy throughout this ailing nation. I didn’t vote for either one of the major candidates in 2008. I am all about trying to rally everyone to start voting again so we can possibly support a third political party that makes sense. If we can educate and get people out to the polls again, I believe that there could be a groundswell of voters who could turn the tides in future elections.
We need a party “by the people and for the people”. As corny as that sounds, it is a precept that our nation was founded upon and if we are to lift up and resuscitate this
suffocating political system, we are going to need a leader who actually leads rather than folds like a cheap stroller just to please his parties’ special interests.

(Use the link below to read Kenny's entire post (© Kenny Lee Lewis, 2011 - All Rights Reserved).

Read Post - Comment


The RCJ Posts Issues Questionnaire on Obama - Obama 2012 – Where Do You Stand?

Rick Alan Rice - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and the Revolution Culture Journal. He is also proprietor of A&E/IT Consulting firm Rick A Rice Consulting.

The Revolution Culture Journal (RCJ) invites you to participate in a little experiment to help us understand public perception of President Barack Obama, particularly as it relates to enthusiasm for his re-election in 2012.

We have identified 34 issues in U.S. foreign and domestic policy and devised a scale to determine how well respondents feel President Obama is doing with each. Use this link to go to the questionnaire.

Read Post - Comment


Bechtel’s Long-Term Commitment to Nuclear Disaster

Rick Alan Rice - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and the Revolution Culture Journal. He is also proprietor of A&E/IT Consulting firm Rick A Rice Consulting.

Somehow the idea of using nuclear fission, and eventually nuclear fusion, to boil water, produce steam, drive turbines and produce direct current electricity has found its way back into the list of acceptable alternatives as an environmentally friendly solution. This bit of Houdini depends entirely on comparison to power generation through the burning of coal, which produces carbon emissions and is a primary contributor to rising levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) in our choking environment.

Read Post - Comment


Applying Grover Norquist to Corporation Intellectual Starvation

Rick Alan Rice - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and the Revolution Culture Journal. He is also proprietor of A&E/IT Consulting firm Rick A Rice Consulting.

In my career as a consultant, I have all kinds of opportunities to interact with different personality types at different levels of organizations. Some of these are of the kind that might make others feel that life is not worth living, but the advantage of consultancy is that my involvements are focused, short, and generally sweet, and then I leave the office dramas behind for a quick dip into the next kiln of opportunity. I am like a merry mercenary in that way, unexposed to the daily grind of the organizations with which I work.

Staff people, on the other hand, are subject to hierarchical structures and personality profiles, and their critical path issue is: a) whether or not to stay in the roles they are in, given the odds of rising up to a more satisfying position within the organization; or b) to cast their fates to wind, which is the job market.

So much of life happens at the initial sell-in.

Read Post - Comment


Appointment with Disaster - Republican Domestic Policy

Rick Alan Rice - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and the Revolution Culture Journal.

While the rich are enjoying tax breaks they have no need for and U.S. corporations are holding on to record profits, padding their accounts to ensure that this is not their rainy day, but doing little to further the employment and domestic security needs of United States citizens, word comes that we are running out of money to provide help for a growing population of homeless (see the Huffington Post on this date).
Read Post - Comment



Welcoming the Arab Street to U.S. Foreign Policy

Rick Alan Rice - Publisher of RARWRITER.com and the Revolution Culture Journal.

I was all set to thank the progressive Arab world, or at least the 25 percent of it that is situated in Egypt, for taking charge of U.S. foreign policy and forcing it to make sense. Then those pro-Mubarak thugs showed up and shocked the global community back to reality.
Read Post - Comment



Why Your College Student Can't Read, Write or Even Think

Rick Alan Rice - Publisher, Writer, A&E / IT Consultant

Back a hundred years ago, when I was in college, all the guys who were doing the best in the classes I took all seemed to be Viet Nam veterans going to school on government grants. They tended to stand out because they were older and far more experienced than their classmates. It seems unlikely that they were brighter, but they were fundamentally different in terms of focus and perspective in ways that seemed obviously helpful to them.
Read Post - Comment









Deepening Global Economic Crisis



There is a war being waged among economists over whether or not it is wise to stimulate - some would say, "prop up" - the U.S. economy using borrowed money.

Rather than let the marketplace find its own level, as current front-runner for the GOP nomination Mitt Romney is suggesting should have been done, the Bush and Obama administrations have green-lighted the Federal Treasury to create money in the form of Treasury Bonds, which the U.S. government has sold broadly, and some of which it has purchased from itself using funds borrowed from China and Japan. Funds have been doled out to financial institutions at zero percent interest, and most famously to auto makers (General Motors), to create stability within key companies. This is what Republicans refer to as "picking winners", while Democrats argue that it has saved the U.S. from another 1930s-style Depression, and therefore is one of President Obama's crowning 1st-term achievements.

The administration's policy has been to keep money available at low interest rates as a hedge against a double-dip recession taking place as the result of economic deflation. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Obama Economic Advisor Tim Geithner have championed this approach, which economists such as Paul Krugman has suggested has been too small. Krugman suggests that the Fed pump $8-10 trillion dollars more into the economy just to achieve "quantitative easing". Otherwise put, to keep the whole economy from collapsing more quickly.

Others aren't so sure that is wise. In fact, they doubt the stimulus and the bailouts were ever a good idea in the first place.

We should all know pretty soon about whether or not they were right. 

BUBBLE ECONOMY: The U.S. economy could rightly be perceived to be a "bubble economy" even - in fact, especially - in the best of times. A full 70 percent of the total value of the U.S. economy is dependent upon consumer spending. That is really at the heart of the economic catastrophe that is upon us: through successful promotions, we have sold much of the world on a philosophy of capitalism that is reliant on creating bubble economies that we can somehow then keep aloft.

What goes up, must come down, as the axiom goes, which is a fact of physics that, applied to economics, appropriately ties gravity to each individual's capacity to overcome economic burden.

It is obviously futile to try to make something behave in ways that it is not naturally equipped, or sufficiently resourced to do, but in our capitalistic model we have had answers for such challenges. The stress there should be on have had.

In the past, the U.S. has devoted significant resources to education, which is the only way to equip anyone with the skills and intellectual capital required to compete in the sort of competitive societies created by free market capitalism.

Education fueled the boom years of the post-WWII U.S. economy, when manufacturing jobs were plentiful and there was a burgeoning management class, a layering of professional levels with all the associated income achievement.

That clicked along really well in the U.S. until around 1970, which happens to coincide with the Nixon Administration's (1971) decision to end the direct convertibility of the dollar to gold, essentially taking the U.S. off the Gold Standard. Since the Bretton Woods Agreements after WWII, the U.S. had fixed the price of gold at approximately $35 per ounce and many countries had fixed their exchange rates to the U.S. dollar. In that sense, those countries' currencies, pegged to the dollar, were recognized as having fixed gold-based value. That ended with the "Nixon Shock" of '71.

CLASS WARFARE: Moving off the Gold Standard had the effect of converting all monetary values from tangible assets to bookkeeping entries. This created the opportunity for some extraordinary things to happen, all of which revolved around usury, or the concept of making money on the interest payments of money one loans to others.

The entire modern-day concept of credit, in the form of credit cards, was still a recent development in 1971: the first credit cards in general circulation had only started to appear a scant 10 years earlier. Americans, and particularly those who experienced the Depression Era of the 1930s, were extremely reluctant to buy anything on credit. It carried a stigma associated with struggling folk who couldn't make their way in the world, virtually relying on the kindness of others.

That old world thinking quickly began to wear off as after 1970 it became more and more difficult for Americans to avoid using credit, because the actual purchasing power of working class incomes essentially froze in that period and have stayed frozen ever since.

Here we return to the iceberg economy, for since 1970 incomes have been further burdened by payments on credit debt, lurking below the surface of individual home finances and dragging savings and cash purchases down.

Benefiting from this change in the U.S. economy were the credit card companies, who distributed the cards and administrated the associated accounts, and the banks who issued the credit. What you essentially had was a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class, who were the principal users of credit cards, and to the finance industry, whose profits boomed on the income from revolving credit, which for them was like getting paid over and over again on the same sale.

There was another consequence of these big changes in America's way of doing business: finance industry professionals figured out that there was an investment class out there who had no way of knowing how to invest their newly found riches, but had plenty of cash flow to play around with.

At that point, ethics became a principal dynamic, and there we got a canary in the coal mine in the form of Richard Nixon and his Watergate activities, which brought down his presidency and rocked America's sense of itself. Who had we become?

In truth, we had very quickly become a people who would churn investments for the benefit of service fees rather than investor well being, loan money at exorbitant rates to a nation increasingly reliant on credit to pay for basic needs (food, utilities, gas, housing), and finance lifestyles that working class people could only afford by borrowing money they would hope to eventually pay back.

A final Nixon irony was that it was he who opened up U.S. relations with China, a diplomatic breakthrough that would ultimately drain the U.S. of its manufacturing base and crush the nation under foreign debt. That meant that many of those downwardly mobile working class folks carrying the big credit debt were in big trouble.

Here we have the bubble within the big bubble.

Underlying debt is contracting market activity and undermining the foundation of the overall U.S. economy. This is a pattern being reproduced in free market economies around the world, many of which have been hoping to keep the whole thing afloat by pumping borrowed money into the system.

But exactly why, and to what effect, is something that is less than a scientifically-determined plan and strategy. In fact, the science is all on the side of the real forces in the economy and not on the wild promises of pie-eyed free market capitalists, Republican and Democrat alike.

By promoting this notion that somehow if we just believe in ourselves that our mostly submerged economy will bob right back up to achieve economic stability, those dream spinners are ignoring the very real forces at play.

FEDERAL SPENDING VS TAX REVENUES: At a time when more-and-more Americans are requiring public assistance than at any time in years, the debate in Washington D.C. is all about how much to shrink the size of government. The argument focuses around the $3.7 trillion dollars the federal government spends each year versus the $2.1 trillion dollars it takes in tax revenue, a difference that is made up through loans, primarily from foreign investors.

America's shrinking tax revenues are, of course, tied to contracting U.S. incomes and employment opportunities, the latter of which has been exacerbated by the out-sourcing of U.S. jobs to cheap labor markets, primarily in Asia.

The Republican response is to shrink government back to the size of its tax revenues, and lower those to make it even smaller. They envision pushing federal assistance programs back down to the state level, where they would be killed altogether because state governments are equally strapped for cash, if not in worse shape, and in no position to provide additional services.

The Democratic response is to expand tax revenues to pay for current levels of service. Their target is high income earners and corporations, and here is where the "Class Warfare" argument comes into play.

The richest Americans derive most of their annual income from capital gains on investments, which has yielded the "Buffet dichotomy" wherein people living on investment income are paying only 15 percent income tax while working people are paying around twice that percentage in taxes on far lower income from wages.

The other big window of tax revenue losses for the federal government is that left wide open for tax loopholes and offshore accounting practices. On average, U.S. corporations are paying only 12 percent of their revenues in federal taxes, though the corporate tax rate in the U.S. is set at 35 percent.

Here again, with corporate revenues shielded from taxes, we have another channel for moving money away from government support and into the coffers of corporate owners and investors, including the plethora of S-type corporations that allows the directors of major privately held companies (e.g., Bechtel) to claim corporate income as personal, with the range of tax advantages such filings afford.

STOCK MARKET DISCONNECT: Many Americans and news correspondents point to the recovery of Wall Street, as characterized by the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges, as proof that the economy is rebounding.

In fact, the DOW dipped to around 7,500 in 2008 and has now rebounded to over 13,000, which sounds like boom times, right?

This is a completely illusory figure, and one that no longer sheds much light on the well being of the U.S. economy beyond the incomes of the people who work in the big investment firms, who are doing quite well. The market itself is yet another balloon inflated with borrowed money, it's size almost exactly paralleling the amount of borrowed stimulus money that has inflated these numbers, per the chart below.

As this chart seems to imply, the Standard & Poor 500 index has roughly the same relationship with Treasury bond issuances as your worthless cousin Ernie has with the trust fund left to him by his wealthy grandmother. This financial profile doesn't actually mean Ernie is worth a damn personally, though he probably can realize some nice profits by loaning his unearned income at lucrative rates.

Part of the problem with watching the stock market is that it creates false impressions about the actual well-being of the economy.

BANK AND CORPORATE RESERVES: The fly in the ointment for those who would use a "class warfare" argument to defend against tax increases on high income earners is that bankers and corporate leaders are taking from the government, in stimulus funds and tax breaks, and building up huge cash reserves that they are using only to consolidate power and economic security.

The financial institutions were incented by the Bush and Obama administrations to ease restrictions on credit, particularly on the sort of daily overnight transactions that allow businesses to remain in operation from one business day to the next without being constricted by cash flow issues. Amazingly, the banks have held on to the money, realizing huge interest benefits and stabilizing overnight credit markets while doing little to develop loans for small businesses for the purpose of job generation, which was the intended purpose of the incentives.

That is partly understandable, because jobs are created only when additional workers are needed to meet market demands, and since 2008 there has been little to no market demand of any kind. The economy has contracted.

Along the same lines, corporations are realizing historic profits but banking cash reserves, rather than make new investments in personnel and equipment.

Here again, we have a massive transfer of wealth from the public into the accounts of a very few super wealthy corporations, and their ultra-wealthy owners, directors and principal shareholders. "Class warfare", in this instance, is the disinclination to create paying jobs that would re-circulate or share the accumulated wealth: wealth that continues to grow as these loaded corporations exploit a cash-strapped world that is growing more and more dependent upon credit, and consolidate power through the purchase of competing interests.

DEPRESSION IN 2013: That all of these things have and are happening, and that the U.S. government and an engaged electorate cannot recognize or stop any of it, is the principal conundrum of our times. And it is one that is going to be solved for us rather soon.

As depicted in the charts above, the value of the $US has been on a precipitous decline while the amount of U.S. debt (now amounting to over $57K per each U.S. citizen) has skyrocketed. This has been particularly true since the 2008 realization that the economy was on the verge of total collapse. The supply siders of the Bush and Obama administrations chose to feed the top income earners, through bailouts and subsidies, and through the sale of Treasury Bonds, all for the purpose of stabilization.

Obama didn't fix anything, he just borrowed money to hold the status quo in place for awhile longer, until solutions could be discovered.

Obama, Bernanke and Geithner have been fighting off a double-dip recession, and doing so by keeping Fed money cheap, interest rates on Fed money unsustainably low, and thereby making certain that all this stimulus money doesn't create an inflationary spiral.

That genie cannot be held in that bottle forever, and we are seeing interest rates creep up little by little.

But here is the rub: they are about to go up a lot higher, with the likely result being not inflation, but the much-dreaded deflation, i.e., a further contraction of the economy.

Why will this happen? Because all of those Treasury Bills that are issued by the government represent short-term debt, meaning they come due after 12 months or so after which point they are turned in for face value. The government, of course, has not become significantly wealthier in the course of these short-term loans, so additional money must be borrowed to cover the payout on these matured T-Bills. It is a similar story with longer turn Treasury Bonds, which yield semi-annual interest payments, and create further pressure on the government to borrow more money to meet these obligations. This is the sort of pyramid scheme that has lowered the U.S. credit rating from AAA status.

A tremendous amount of this debt has been issued and the maturity of these Treasury loans is going to happen as a landslide of economic burden that is going to push U.S. interest owed to foreign investors to rates as high as 25 percent, or so predict some gloomsayers. Finally, the U.S. government will become like a family household that can't make principal payments to lower overall debt, but can only make payments on interest.

That will result in crushing pullbacks of funding for federally supported programs, and likely result in a spike in unemployment and a low-level form of "hyper-inflation". Some predict that inflation will be about 100 percent per year for three years, beginning in 2013.

Barring some radical change in policy at the Federal Government level - which is not going to happen in a presidential election year - we will see a dramatic economic collapse in 2013, likely lasting through 2016. This is the prediction of some economists who look at the overall fundamentals of the U.S. economy and don't see any way that it can avoid this sorry scenario.




Taking Stock of a New World Reality


(Edited 20812)



©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), April, 2012