End Of The Middle Class?

A number of commentators have pointed out the decline of the middle class in recent decades. Statistics seem to bear this out:

  • 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
  • 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
  • 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
  • 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
  • A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
  • 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
  • Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
  • Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
  • For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
  • In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
  • As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
  • The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
  • Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
  • In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.
  • The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
  • In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
  • More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
  • For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
  • This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
  • Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.
  • Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
  • The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

Source: Business Insider.

A Webvex post from 2010

2012 Doomsday….? Riggghhhht.

I can remember the silly paranoia that swept the world about 11 years ago when the buzz was that the Y2K bug was going to bring our society crashing down around us. I saw people stockpiling food and water, buying generators, and generally preparing for the worst, based on the dire predictions of unqualified non-experts. Of course nothing much happened, as saner people had predicted, even allowing for the uncertainties of predicting the behavior of software in scenarios it had never been tested in. Nevertheless, the whole affair represented, I thought a new standard in combined ignorance and misinformation.

So, fast forward a few years, and now we have a whole new set of doomsday nonsense rearing it’s head…the 2012 phenomenon. Based in misinterpreted and misreported analysis of the Mayan Long Count calender, certain persons came to the conclusion that the calender ended  December 21, 2012, and therefore that must be the end of the world as we know it. Notwithstanding that the actual date is disputed, and may actually have passed several years ago, an increasing number of people are both buying into this fallacy, or jumping on the bandwagon and figuring out how to make a buck off the silly fools who are buying into it.

Now, the Mayans may have had a relatively sophisticated culture in some ways, with a surprising amount of astronomical knowledge, but I don’t think they had a crystal ball telling them when the world would end, nor do I even think they had that idea. The end of one cycle implies the beginning of another, and that’s probably how they view it. We may never know, since relatively little of their written materials survive, and what does is not completely understood. What has happened is that a number of crackpots who were already pushing doomsday scenarios of one kind or another found a ready mechanism here to get their ideas to a wider audience, and supercharged their message by adding the elements of a conspiracy to it as well. According to these pundits of idiocy, something bad is going to happen to the Earth, probably triggered by a previously unknown planet, asteroid, or other outer space object that is heading this way even now. Of course, the government, scientists, NASA, etc., all know about it, they’re just keeping it secret from the rest of us poor fools, either because we will all panic and behave badly, or they just want us all eliminated with minimum fuss. It goes without saying, of course, that there isn’t one speck of evidence that anything out of the ordinary is happening to the Earth in 2012, or any time in the near future, that no reputable scientist has said anything of the kind will happen any time soon, and that all the theories concerning this are either completely implausible, or physically impossible. Youtube and many other web sites are full of dire predictions and purported images of huge mysterious planets called Nibiru, Nemesis, etc., hurtling towards the Earth with deadly results. Fringe authors and internet prophets alike are raking in the bucks with books and videos detailing their predictions about the terrible events that must surely happen. Shame on you all. Shame on you lying charlatans who would rather sell a hack book than get a productive occupation. Shame on you deluded fools who actually believe any of this. Shame on the woefully misinformed and undereducated public, willing to believe science fiction rather than mere science. Shame on you all. My only satisfaction, I guess, is that on December 22, 2012, you’re all going to look pretty damn stupid.

NebiruIs this the mysterious planet Nibiru, heading towards a doomed Earth? No, it’s V838 Mon, a star with an expanding gas shell passed off as “photographic evidence” of Nibiru.

A Webvex post from September 2010

Drill Baby, Drill!

leaking_oilDrill here. Drill now. Right in your pointy head.
Really, why not? Other than lobotomizing the arguably lunatic fringe, you’d probably have just about as much chance of solving this country’s energy deficit as drilling anywhere else. The U.S. has about 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves. We use about 25% percent of the world’s production. Even the most mathematically challenged should be able to see the chasm between those two numbers. If we drilled into every recoverable blob of oil, we would have enough for a few years use at most…not to mention it would cost a trillion dollars to do so. But wait you say…there’s got to be more than that! Under that mountain, or maybe that lake…it’s got to be there somewhere. Maybe it is. Maybe there’s some in the tar sand, oil shale, what have you. Maybe it’s on the dark side of the moon, or in the land of Narnia. But it ain’t gonna be cheap. And history has shown that oil companies would rather buy cheap and sell high, than the other way around. Aside from the lunacy of allowing people to own what’s under the ground in the first place (who owns all that iron at the earth’s core?) It’s time to face reality, America. We’re probably going to see the end of the petroleum era in our lifetimes, and it can come painfully and expensively, or very painfully and very expensively, depending how soon we get to work on it. Spending billions searching for phantom oil will not postpone the inevitable, merely enrich those who have a vested interest in continuing to blow smoke in our faces…literally.

A Webvex post from 2010

Always Kick Them When They Are Down

rearendThe picture at left is symbolic of the plight of the worker in America. Somebody bigger than you is always ready to give it to you in the ass. The solution to this has been for everybody to try to get bigger, so they can be the one throwing their weight around. Companies don’t invest, they acquire. People won’t drive a modest car, they want a big SUV. Sure, they can’t afford it, but they can intimidate everybody with it. (or so  they imagine) Corporations don’t offer pay raises, they offer pay cuts. (unless you’re the CEO, then the sky’s the limit) If you don’t like it, leave, before we outsource you to India anyway. American workers work longer hours for less and less money in real terms every year. Well, maybe not this year, due to the recession, alot of people can’t work even though they might want to. There was a time, believe it or not, not so long ago, when a guy could have a typical job, buy a house, support his wife and kids, and still have enough at the end of his career to retire on. That used to be the rule rather than the exception. Where are we now? Most families have two full time workers and are struggling to make ends meet. Vacations? Forget it. Be a real American and work more! Get two jobs, or three!  Being a worker used to be a matter of pride, now it’s become a term of contempt, directed at those who actually do mundane work, rather than collect capital gains.
Orignally a Webvex post from 2010

Make War, Not Love

We love to make war in this country. And we’re very uptight about sex. Images of sex are considered dirty and rated X, kept out of sight in plain brown wrappers, while images of war can readily be seen in prime time, proudly advertised. We like wars in this country. If there isn’t a real enemy to fight, a genuine bad guy, we’ll make one up. The problem is, when we do that, it doesn’t always go so well. We had a War on Poverty that ended up with more poor than when we started. Maybe because we spent so much on the one in Vietnam. We have a War on Drugs that’s put a million people behind bars, while the streets still flow with drugs, and it seems everybody who’s convinced they’re hip still uses them. We have a War on Terror that’s put only a few people behind bars, some who are still wondering why. Those terrorists and their crazy ideas! But it’s hard to fight an idea, except with a better idea. Bombs and bullets don’t work that well. No one has ever stopped an idea with force. Christianity was an idea they tried to stamp out, and that didn’t work. Democracy was another one. And racial equality. Pesky ideas that just won’t go away. And then there are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that we just can’t seem to bring closure to. Of course, the problem with invading countries is that unless you kill everybody that wants to fight, you can never leave, or they get to say “Ha, we won!”, and that would be bad for our already wounded national pride. But should that finally happen, you can always just turn off the TV and retire with that special someone for a little lovemaking…just make sure the shades are drawn, you wouldn’t want to end up behind bars with the drug dealers and terrorists.
Originally published on Webvex
July 21, 2010


Tummyache? That’ll be a million dollars please. We’ve been hearing alot about health care lately. Alot of nonsense that is. Pundits and pinheads alike (and they are alike in some ways) are lamenting the imminent takeover of our wonderful health care system by the big horrible government. The are strenuously defending the rights of big insurance companies to continue to make billions of dollars off our misery and suffering. The are vociferously demanding the right to continue to pay hundreds of dollars a month for the right to go to a hospital and pay 20% of thousands of dollars to get their defective bodies repaired. Or die in the process. What are they afraid of? A system where everyone gets cared for equally? Where someone who is sick or hurt can go get the care they need without being turned away, or having to sign a second mortgage, or just plain going bankrupt? God forbid some bum or filthy undocumented alien should sneak in there and get the same treatment as a true blue ‘Merican! The fact that we are the only country in the developed world that won’t take care of the health of it’s citizens is astounding enough, considering we are the biggest and wealthiest nation in the developed world, but the fact that we refuse to do it because some incredibly wealthy corporations and doctors might not continue to be so wealthy shows the rest of the world clearly where our priorities lie. Maybe we really deserve what we get for choosing this course.
Originally posted on Webvex,

July 21, 2010

Mission Statement

So what is this? Another conspiracy theory site? Hardly. I detest conspiracy theories, and I detest the buffoons who promote them for their own aggrandizing or profit, and there’s so many who do this. Conspiracy theories have become the refuge of the stupid, the ignorant, the delusional, and those I call intellectually destructive, who seek to overturn logic and science through lies and distortion of both knowledge and history, particularly knowledge and history they don’t like. Of course, nobody can destroy science and logic, but they can, through the sheer volume of rhetoric and misinformation the Internet makes possible, cause considerable confusion and apprehension in those who are not well-informed or particularly clear-thinking.

Be forewarned…I have long since had my fill of this nonsense. I’ve watched it grow and spread for years. While some may find it amusing and silly, the level of intentional misinformation, fabrication, and malfeasance present on the “information superhighway” is reaching alarming proportions, and rational people need to speak out. I will be speaking out, and I will not be polite. The time for polite and thoughtful debates is over, because the curmudgeons of conspiracy have no interest in polite and reasoned discussion. They are out to convert the masses and subvert as many channels of information as they can…this much is clear. So, expect bluntness, expect adult language, and expect a fair amount of ridicule and mockery, if you happen to be on the wrong side of the equation here.