Monday, February 18, 2013

oDd aNd eNd tId-bItS > Odd and End Tid-Bits

I was watching a documentary on PBS the other day and I learned that in the early 1900's, poor people in the South (generally African-Americans) were constantly being arrested for vagrancy. 

They were usually fined and sent to prison for 3 months; but because they were poor, they couldn't pay their fines --- so they were sentenced to an additional 3 months in prison and forced to work (to pay off their fines).

And where did they work for those 6 months? In coal mines, which were owned by the largest corporation in the world --- U.S. Steel.

We still use prison labor today, and we still have chain gangs doing  public works (the argument being, we save the taxpayers money). But all it really does is just further undermine our wages.

The Shawshank Redemption was a great movie, because in the end, the warden got his just deserts ;)

* Oddly, one of California's largest labor unions had join forces with a gun lobbyist to build more prisons. To keep prison guards fully employed?

Tid-Bit Two

STUDY: Back in 1970, 65 percent of America’s families lived in “middle-income” situations. By 2008, only 43 percent of U.S. families lived in middle-income neighborhoods. Meanwhile, over that same period of time, the share of families living in either poor or rich neighborhoods essentially doubled.

And the more isolated the rich become, the more they withdraw into their own private worlds and the less interest they have in supporting public services that can benefit the wider community. 

During Abraham Lincoln's time in 1860 Illinois, bricklayers, lawyers, stable owners, and managers all lived in the same areas, and were not much separated by wealth. Back then, “making it” meant earning an income able to support a family and have enough in reserve to sustain it through hard times at an accustomed level of prosperity.

Back then, the idea of "having enough" frequently trumped the ambition for "endless accumulation.”

Tid-Bit Three

Art Pope is a billionaire who owes his fortune to a discount store network his daddy built. He has spent over $40 million in recent years gerrymandering North Carolina, and for the first time in over a century, the state has a GOP governor, a conservative state Supreme Court majority, and a GOP-dominated state legislature --- all at the same time.

But Pope isn’t resting. He also had himself appointed state budget director. Last week his budget priorities made national headlines. In North Carolina, a state with America’s fifth-highest jobless rate, lawmakers have now slashed maximum weekly unemployment benefits, cut the number of benefit weeks allowed, and denied 39 percent of the state’s 438,000 jobless special federal aid.

Other Short Tid-Bits

  • The gun industry funnels tens of millions of dollars to a lobbyist, the NRA --- as a kickback for every gun sold. (Did I mention that the NRA likes prisons too?)
  • Walmart Execs Panicking over Lousy Sales - According to the Social Security Administration, 50% of all workers in the U.S. workforce nets $26,966 a year or less. Americans can't afford to shop, not even at Walmart. Virgil Bierschwale, at Keep America at Work, says he can fix Walmart's problem...for $1 million.
  • On February 7, 2013 the State of Mississippi finally became the 50th state in the union to ratify the 13th Amendment, which abolishes slavery. But in all fairness, they rejected the People Amendment.
  • Re: Sequester: The “smarter cuts” that Paul Ryan is currently touting are so extensive that they would eliminate food stamps for 1.8 million adults and children --- and would also eliminate Meals on Wheels, federal funding for child protective services, and healthcare for disabled adults and children.
  • Now even the Democrats are saying that by using chained CPI, we will save money, because it accounts for the way our elderly switches to pet food from people food when the prices go up.

Much more here at Too Much Online--- Subscribe to their newsletter.

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