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Wednesday, January 30

Today's Readings

(and add your own in the comments)

How about this from Greg Palast's One Bush Left Behind?
Here’s your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.”

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?
The Palast investigative team went to urban America to see what they could score for $20. Indeed they found something. A "rock" of cocaine which would fill a kid's dream for about 15 minutes.

Paul Craig Roberts in "Your Papers, Please!" The End of American Liberty
Bush can do whatever he wants, because Congress has taken its only remaining power--impeachment--off the table.

The Democratic Party leadership thinks that the only problem is Bush, who will be gone in one year. Besides, the Israel Lobby doesn't want Israel's champion impeached, and neither do the corporate owners of the US media.

The Democrats are not adverse to inheriting the powers in Bush's precedents. The Democrats, of course, will use the elevated powers for good rather than for evil.

Instead of having a bad dictator, we'll have a good one.
Not so sure that any dictator is good.

This piece at the Onion, We Must All Do Our Part To Preserve This Climate Of Fear
reminds us
Fear has always made America strong. Were we ever more determined than during the Yellow Scare? When every Christian gentleman lived in mortal terror of his daughter being doped up on opium and raped by pagan, mustachioed Chinamen? What about the Red Scare, when citizens from all walks of life showed their pride by turning in their friends and associates to rabid anticommunists? Has America ever been more resolute?

Not so very long ago, we winced every time we saw someone with facial hair or a backpack. Average people were terrified of opening their mail for fear of getting a face full of anthrax. Those were perhaps our country's greatest days. Yet that once-phobic spirit that defined our times is drastically changing.
Naomi Klein explains Why the Right Loves a Disaster
More than a decade ago, economist Dani Rodrik, then at Columbia University, studied the circumstances in which governments adopted free-trade policies. His findings were striking: “No significant case of trade reform in a developing country in the 1980s took place outside the context of a serious economic crisis.” The 1990s proved him right in dramatic fashion. In Russia, an economic meltdown set the stage for fire-sale privatizations. Next, the Asian crisis in 1997-98 cracked open the “Asian tigers” to a frenzy of foreign takeovers, a process the New York Times dubbed “the world’s biggest going-out-of-business sale.”

To be sure, desperate countries will generally do what it takes to get a bailout. An atmosphere of panic also frees the hands of politicians to quickly push through radical changes that would otherwise be too unpopular, such as privatization of essential services, weakening of worker protections and free-trade deals. In a crisis, debate and democratic process can be handily dismissed as unaffordable luxuries.
Oh and it doesn't matter to the ideologues whether or not disaster capitalism actually fixes the crisis.

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