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Comments Nov. 26

November 26, 2006

I share the sentiments of Virginia’s new Senator James Webb. And for all of you who feared he was too conservative for the Democratic Party, check out what he says below in The Wall Street Journal:

Class Struggle
American workers have a chance to be heard.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
The most important–and unfortunately the least debated–issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America’s top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.
Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic’s range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year, while the minimum wage for workers amounts to about $10,000 a year, and has not been raised in nearly a decade. When I graduated from college in the 1960s, the average CEO made 20 times what the average worker made. Today, that CEO makes 400 times as much.
In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future. Trickle-down economics didn’t happen. Despite the vaunted all-time highs of the stock market, wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. At the same time, medical costs have risen 73% in the last six years alone. Half of that increase comes from wage-earners’ pockets rather than from insurance, and 47 million Americans have no medical insurance at all.
Manufacturing jobs are disappearing. Many earned pension programs have collapsed in the wake of corporate “reorganization.” And workers’ ability to negotiate their futures has been eviscerated by the twin threats of modern corporate America: If they complain too loudly, their jobs might either be outsourced overseas or given to illegal immigrants.
This ever-widening divide is too often ignored or downplayed by its beneficiaries. A sense of entitlement has set in among elites, bordering on hubris. When I raised this issue with corporate leaders during the recent political campaign, I was met repeatedly with denials, and, from some, an overt lack of concern for those who are falling behind. A troubling arrogance is in the air among the nation’s most fortunate. Some shrug off large-scale economic and social dislocations as the inevitable byproducts of the “rough road of capitalism.” Others claim that it’s the fault of the worker or the public education system, that the average American is simply not up to the international challenge, that our education system fails us, or that our workers have become spoiled by old notions of corporate paternalism.
Still others have gone so far as to argue that these divisions are the natural results of a competitive society. Furthermore, an unspoken insinuation seems to be inundating our national debate: Certain immigrant groups have the “right genetics” and thus are natural entrants to the “overclass,” while others, as well as those who come from stock that has been here for 200 years and have not made it to the top, simply don’t possess the necessary attributes.
Most Americans reject such notions. But the true challenge is for everyone to understand that the current economic divisions in society are harmful to our future. It should be the first order of business for the new Congress to begin addressing these divisions, and to work to bring true fairness back to economic life. Workers already understand this, as they see stagnant wages and disappearing jobs.
America’s elites need to understand this reality in terms of their own self-interest. A recent survey in the Economist warned that globalization was affecting the U.S. differently than other “First World” nations, and that white-collar jobs were in as much danger as the blue-collar positions which have thus far been ravaged by outsourcing and illegal immigration. That survey then warned that “unless a solution is found to sluggish real wages and rising inequality, there is a serious risk of a protectionist backlash” in America that would take us away from what they view to be the “biggest economic stimulus in world history.”
More troubling is this: If it remains unchecked, this bifurcation of opportunities and advantages along class lines has the potential to bring a period of political unrest. Up to now, most American workers have simply been worried about their job prospects. Once they understand that there are (and were) clear alternatives to the policies that have dislocated careers and altered futures, they will demand more accountability from the leaders who have failed to protect their interests. The “Wal-Marting” of cheap consumer products brought in from places like China, and the easy money from low-interest home mortgage refinancing, have softened the blows in recent years. But the balance point is tipping in both cases, away from the consumer and away from our national interest.
The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of “God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag” while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet. But this election cycle showed an electorate that intends to hold government leaders accountable for allowing every American a fair opportunity to succeed.
With this new Congress, and heading into an important presidential election in 2008, American workers have a chance to be heard in ways that have eluded them for more than a decade. Nothing is more important for the health of our society than to grant them the validity of their concerns. And our government leaders have no greater duty than to confront the growing unfairness in this age of globalization.
Mr. Webb is the Democratic senator-elect from Virginia.

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  • Sean December 8, 2006 4:44 pm

    I meant to only ask if you think 911 was a crime, not to suggest who did the crime. Do you think 911 was a crime? I mean how would you characterize your position given a choice between these two:
    Pro-investigation: 911 was a crime and should be investigated as such by a team of investigators.
    Anti-investigation: 911 was an act of aggression and as such it is a political issue that is best dealt with by a team of politicians.
    PS I’m putting together a voters guide with a group of volunteers here in California and we are planning to research and publish politicians stance on this issue.

  • Sean December 8, 2006 4:21 pm

    WTC buildings being blown up is a fact. All, yes all, of the physical evidence points to only one hypothesis. I say fact, because that is the word we use in science once something is unchallenged. Like the round earth theory versus the flat earth theory. We can now say it is a ‘fact’ that the earth is round. There is still a flat earth society, and I respect those peoples rights to have their beliefs. I will still refer to the earth being round as being a ‘fact’ though.
    What is ‘wild speculation’ is to think that the physical laws of the universe somehow ceased to be valid on 911. It sounds fairly crazy to me to suggest that steel and gravity were somehow thrown into a bubble of governing laws that mankind has never observed. To suggest that on 911, only at the WTC site, that gravity somehow increased its force on those buildings and that steel somehow melted itself with no energy – that sounds like wild speculation.
    I put both explanations side by side and you tell me which one is ‘wild speculation’ (1 is official account, 2 is the 911 truth movements account):
    1 – Jets consisting of aluminum alloy and kerosene(jet fuel) slammed into 2 skyscrapers causing physical damage and fire. The fire then burned at a temperature consistent with open air fires of organic material. The melted aluminum alloy then caused an orange-red flow of molten metal. This fire caused a uniform failure of the steel frame supporting the building across all floors affected. The failure also was not progressive, instead all steel failed at the exact same moment causing the top of the building to fall. The top of the building became like a hammer smashing down on the lower part of the building. The accelerated mass of the top section of the building contained enough energy to pulverized the entire remaining building all the way down to its base. The energy of this falling top section was sufficient to cause a wave of buckling and loss of structural support below the destruction line accounting for the fall time. Then over 7 hours later- building 7 which was a block away also exhibited ‘some type’ of collapse. Fire and physical damage from the fall of the towers caused that skyscraper(7) to disintegrate in under 7 seconds. I would give a more detailed account for WTC7 but we have been given no account for the physics model of it. No account for the detected explosives found in the metal at the site has been given. No account for the pools of molten metal at the site have been given. No account for the observed and EPA measured small particulate size in the ‘dust cloud’ has been given.
    2 – Jets hit the towers causing damage and fire. Cutting explosives then cut up the supporting steel frame, and then a progressive series of explosions caused a top down demolition. The molten metal observed is iron(orange), not aluminum which is very silvery when melted at any temperature. The pulverized concrete and building material was the result of being blown up. The fall time of the building was due to the cutting of the steel supporting frame allowing the building to free fall. The pools of molten metal at the site was the result of the chemical reaction of the cutting charges. The very small particle sized measured by the EPA of the ‘dust cloud’ was the result of powerful explosions injecting that matter into the surrounding air. The symmetry of collapse was achieved by careful control of the cutting charges and the series of explosions my munitions. Building 7 then was similarly demolished. Every single observed piece of evidence is supported by this account.
    I’m sure I’m not doing justice to all the information out there on this, but suffice it to say that even these few observations would require the following adjustments to the laws of the universe that we refer to as ‘science’, if #1 above were to be believed:
    – Newtonian physics would have to be thrown out – entropy and the conservation of energy laws would not be valid
    – Known physical properties of steel would have to be violated – it would have to be brittle, weak, self melting, and somehow prone to spontaneous uniform failure due to being heated up to only 650.
    – Known physical properties of concrete would have to be violated – it would have to transform itself into a brittle weak substance similar to chalk – yet it would have to also contain a huge amount of mass
    – Gravity – the force of gravity acting on the top 20 floors of the towers would have to be increased by magnitudes (say 50 or 60 times) to transform the top section into the science fiction ‘hammer’ that could account for the destruction of the rest of the building.
    So people can call me names and make accusations about other aspects of that day. But, to say that the demolition of those building is not a ‘fact’ is simply a full court press against science.

  • Vicky December 8, 2006 4:03 pm

    Ed, Robt, Sean etc – You men think whatever you want to about what I was thinking (or what you think I think!) – I really dont’ care. But I did understand what Sean was saying, Robt – I didn’t need you to translate. You spew so many same-ole same-ole lines out about President Bush and a “photo op”- as if he’s the only person who does that. You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.
    Armchair criticism, self-righteous finger pointing and partisan Bush bashing takes no courage or wisdom….so bascially I find much of what you have to say as just a bunch of hot air.
    That was just too funny – you writing an exit speech for Bush – such a clever man. HA!
    And Sean, your question to me is assuming I believe that 9-11 was an “inside job” and that there is crime involved. I don’t.