For a generation, most Americans have been told by left, right and center that they would be failures if they ended their educations with high school, worked hard, saved cash for emergencies and bought modest homes they could afford. They have been told that to succeed in life they need to ape the lifestyles of the upper middle class that provides most of America’s politicians, pundits and scholars.
The result has been an experiment in social engineering that has gone horribly wrong: the creation of a faux mass upper middle class. Millions of Americans who by objective standards belong to the working class or lower middle class have persuaded themselves that they are part of the professional-investor elite, because they have worthless degrees from diploma mills, negligible amounts invested in stocks, and suburban trophy houses they cannot afford. For the college graduates at Starbucks working to pay off student loans for degrees that they will never use, as for the millions of Americans who are now “underwater,” owing more on their mortgages than their houses are worth, the American dream has turned into a nightmare.
But many have profited from the peddling of the dream of the mass upper middle class. The claim that everyone should go to college served the interests of the educational-industrial complex, from K-12 to the universities, that now serves as an important constituency of the Democratic Party. (Along with Wall Street investment banks, universities provided Barack Obama with his largest campaign donations.) And the claim that everyone needs to pour money into the stock market, to be managed by banks and brokers who fleece their clients, served the interests of the financial-industrial complex that has replaced real-economy businesses as the dominant force in the Republican Party. Both the educators and the brokers have successfully lobbied Congress to subsidize their bloated industries, swelling them even further, by means of tax breaks for student loans and personal retirement savings. The big losers have been the millions of working Americans whom many Democrats and Republicans alike have persuaded, against their interests, to indulge champagne tastes on beer budgets.
The alternative to the mass upper-middle-class fantasy peddled by Republicans and New Democrats is a return to the older New Deal liberal approach, based on high wages and adequate social insurance. Working Americans should not need to go into debt to obtain college diplomas, in order to share more of the gains of national economic growth in the form of higher wages. And there would be less pressure on working Americans to gamble with their money in the stock market, if Social Security, like public pensions in the rest of the world, replaced a higher percentage of pre-retirement income than the 30-40 percent it replaces today.
An America with a college-educated professional class majority was always a fantasy. So was an America with a majority of affluent day traders. The America we need is one in which all Americans are paid a living wage and guaranteed a comfortable retirement — even if they didn’t go to a university and don’t own stocks and bonds.
Christina Romer, chairwoman of Pres. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, has decided to resign, according to a source familiar with her plans.
Romer, an economics professor at the University of California (Berkeley) before taking the key admin post, did not respond to repeated calls to her office.
“She has been frustrated,” a source with insight into the WH economics team said. “She doesn’t feel that she has a direct line to the president. She would be giving different advice than Larry Summers [director of the National Economic Council], who does have a direct line to the president.”
“She is ostensibly the chief economic adviser, but she doesn’t seem to be playing that role,” the source said. The WH has been pounded for its faulty forecast that unemployment would not top 8% after its economic stimulus proposal passed.
Instead, the jobless rate is 9.5%, after exceeding 10% last year. It was “a horribly inaccurate forecast,” said Bert Ely, a banking consultant. “You have to wonder why Summers isn’t the one that should be taking the fall. But Larry is a pretty good bureaucratic infighter.”
Remember when everyone was explaining to me that Obama had “executive ability” because of how well his campaign operated, and I tried to explain that it wasn’t true? This is what I meant.
The government took the threat of UFOs so seriously in the 1950s that UK intelligence chiefs met to discuss the issue, newly-released files show.
Ministers even went on to commission weekly reports on UFO sightings from a committee of intelligence experts.
The papers also include a wartime account claiming prime minister Winston Churchill ordered a UFO sighting be kept secret to prevent “mass panic”.
The files show reports of UFOs peaked in 1996 – when The X Files was popular.
The Joint Intelligence Committee is better known for providing briefings to the government on matters relating to security, defence and foreign affairs.
But the latest batch of UFO files released from the Ministry of Defence to the National Archives shows that, in 1957, the committee received reports detailing an average of one UFO sighting a week.
The files also include an account of a wartime meeting attended by Winston Churchill in which, it is claimed, the prime minister was so concerned about a reported encounter between a UFO and RAF bombers, that he ordered it be kept secret for at least 50 years to prevent “mass panic”.
Nick Pope, who used to investigate UFO sightings for the MoD, said: “The interesting thing is that most of the UFO files from that period have been destroyed.
“But what happened is that a scientist whose grandfather was one of his [Churchill's] bodyguards, said look, Churchill and Eisenhower got together to cover up this phenomenal UFO sighting, that was witnessed by an RAF crew on their way back from a bombing raid.
“The reason apparently was because Churchill believed it would cause mass panic and it would shatter people’s religious views.”
Every wacky wingnut in the world is on the teevee today to bemoan the “discrimination” against God-fearing Christians if the courts allow gay marriage. Now Wingnut Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America is on Hardball talking about what this does to “the children” of America and how Christians will be “persecuted” for living their “beliefs.”
You remember that for a very long time, these were the same arguments advanced by the godly right wing against the legalizing of interracial marriage. They seem almost quaint now, don’t they?