40 percent

I think it would be nice if both candidates for president acknowledged and addressed this serious economic situation with concrete plans instead of talking about the much-loved middle class, but they won’t. Unfortunately, the reluctance to do so may result in Obama losing:

According to a recent survey by the financial website CreditDonkey, more than 40 percent of Americans say that have less than $500 in savings. 54 percent of respondents said they have no savings plan in place. Other recent surveys have found similar numbers: the Consumer Federation of America and the Consumer Planner Board of Standards found that nearly 40 percent of American households live paycheck to paycheck.


My niece was showing this to everyone yesterday, and my brother (who is truly one of the most tasteless joke-tellers out there) thought it was tasteless. All I know is, it made me laugh out loud:


Ordinarily, I don’t pay much attention to stories like this, but it seems like it will continue to be a problem because I still haven’t heard a coherent AND complete narrative from the administration. Maybe we’ll hear one tonight.

The silly dilemma of Sunday night TV

Let me start off by saying yes, first world problem. Agreed.

But I love TV. I keep it on in the background while I work, and it’s a pleasant diversion from the stress of my daily routine. But now it’s just adding to the stress, because so many of the shows I watch are now on the same night: Once Upon A Time, The Good Wife, The Walking Dead, Homeland, Dexter, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, and Call The Midwife. Are these network programming heads sadists?

And no, I do not have a DVR. And yes, I know this is not a serious problem. It’s just annoying.

Gaza aid ship seized

In the latest horrors:

New York, October 21, 3pm EDT – More than 24 hours after their illegal detention in international waters at 10 AM local time Saturday, Israeli authorities are still holding 21 passengers who were on board the Estelle which was sailing to Gaza when intercepted by Israeli forces, of whom three are Israeli and eighteen are internationals. There were originally 30 on board the boat from eight countries: Israel, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greece, and Spain. Six have been deported and at this writing three are in the process of being deported.

Passengers on the Estelle, including  Israeli combat veteran Yonatan Shapira, have reported that the passengers were tasered when Israeli forces commandeered the ship.

Israeli officials have claimed that there were no humanitarian goods onboard. In fact, the items in the cargo room of Estelle were: 2 olive trees; 41 tons of cement; wheelchairs; walkers; crutches; midwifery stethoscope; children’s books; toys; 300 footballs; musical instruments; theatrical equipment;  VHF radio (for a ship); 1 anchor (the last two items were for the Gaza’s Ark project.) The ship was inspected at many ports. A video of the cement being loaded onto the ship is here.

“We call on the U.S. to use its influence with the Israeli government to ensure the Estelle passengers and crew are treated with dignity, that their rights as non-violent protesters are respected and that they all be released immediately,” said Jane Hirschmann, organizer of the U.S. Boat to Gaza.

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, said today: “It’s striking that while the Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry has the moral clarity to say that it agrees with the Ship to Gaza that the border crossings must be opened and that the ship should have been allowed through, the U.S. State Department is silent about this gross violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

Pain injections

So my doctor wants me to get injections in my cervical spine for the pain in my upper arms, and I’m a little wary. “This would be a really good time to get them,” enthuses my nurse in-law. “They’re going to be watching those companies really closely now.”

I thought of trying to explain that it’s the states who have jurisdiction over compound pharmacies, and that they’ve all slashed their budgets, so it’s highly unlikely that they have enough inspectors. But it just seemed like it would be so much work, and I was having fun seeing all my family, so I just smiled and said nothing.

Which is unusual.

But I still have to decide about the injections.

Who stole the American dream?

This is a really excellent book and I highly recommend it. Ask your library if they have it!

In his sweeping, authoritative examination of the last four decades of the American economic experience, Smith describes the long, relentless decline of the middle class — a decline that was not by accident, but by design.

He dates it back to a private memo — in effect, a political call to arms — issued to the nation’s business leaders in 1971 by Lewis F. Powell, Jr., a corporate attorney soon to become a Supreme Court justice. From that point forward, Smith writes, corporate America threw off any sense of restraint or social obligation and instead unstintingly leveraged its money and political power to pursue its own interests.

The result was nothing less than a shift in gravity. Starting in the early 1970s, every major economic trend — increased productivity, globalization, tax law overhauls, and the phasing out of pensions in favor of 401(k)s — produced the same result: The benefits fell upward.

Smith, a 1970 Nieman Fellow, is at his very best as he examines, one by one, the key economic shifts of the last 40 years and shows that in each case the money flowed to the very richest Americans, particularly those on Wall Street, while impoverishing the middle class.

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