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01.17 New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

01.17 Studies Show Ice Melting and Ocean Warming Both Happening Much Faster Than Previously Thought

01.16 Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.16 Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic [charts]

01.15 Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies [Wonderful!]

01.15 Australia could hit 100% renewables sooner than most people think

01.15 Ion age: why the future will be battery powered

01.15 Barclays on wrong side of history with climate policy, says Greenpeace

01.15 'One fish at a time': Indonesia lands remarkable victory

01.15 Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’

01.14 V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care [The most public and efficient healthcare in America has been demonized and will be destroyed rather than improved, raising total  per-capita costs]

01.14 Saudi Arabia Increases Solar Targets To 20 Gigawatts By 2023 & 40 Gigawatts By 2030

01.14 Solar + Storage Half The Cost Of Gas Peaker Plants — 8MinuteEnergy

01.14 Why thousands of Los Angeles teachers are going on strike [Well at least we got a big tax-cut for the super-rich, that was the most important thing.]

01.14 Air pollution 'as bad as smoking in increasing risk of miscarriage'

01.09 Dutch eco initiative halves energy bills in first UK homes

01.09 'It's a nightmare': Americans' health at risk as shutdown slashes EPA

01.08 Monarch butterfly numbers plummet 86 percent in California [0:58 video; Do You Care?]

01.08 Carbon emissions up as Trump agenda rolls back climate change work [Making America Less  Great Again]

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01.19 The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?

01.19 Donald Trump Has Never Cared About Workers, and Never Will

01.19 Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth [Sociopaths have little or no conscience, empathy or morality...]

01.19 Arizona: Four women convicted after leaving food and water in desert for migrants [morality is against the law]

01.19 Mueller breaks silence to dispute parts of bombshell report on Michael Cohen

01.18 “Are We Really Where We Are?”: Trump, Putin, and Washington’s Unbelievable New Normal

01.18 With Mattis Gone, Trump Is Already Sowing More Global Chaos [Trump plays General—what could go wrong...]

01.18 The Right’s Case Against Soaking the Rich Is Dirt Poor

01.18 Trump Worsens the Border Crisis

01.18 Impeach Donald Trump

01.18 President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project [An impeachable offense]

01.18 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020 [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 These 2020 hopefuls are courting Wall Street. Don't be fooled by their progressive veneer

01.17 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lambasts US government shutdown in first House speech [3:27 video; Intelligent government is desperately needed]

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01.15 The US apparently kept no detailed notes of Trump-Putin meetings for the past 2 years

01.15 California’s largest utility just declared bankruptcy. Hello, climate change.

12.28 Mueller closes in: what will the Trump-Russia inquiry deliver in 2019?

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01.17 Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people [chock-full of pesky facts that government and media ignore and distort]

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01.19 The Ebola outbreak in Eastern Congo is moving toward a major city. That’s not good.

01.19 Ahead of Third Annual Women's March, Group Releases Far-Reaching 'Intersectional Feminist Policy Platform'

01.17 +++ Brexit crisis: Germany and Europe react — live updates +++

01.17 White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It's not [More equality requires us to fix ignored and distorted problems]

01.16 Global tensions holding back climate change fight, says WEF [Consistently stupid and harmful policies... Seeing a pattern?]

01.16 How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

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  The US Government has Lost its Reason for Being

COMMENTARY:

The US Government has Lost its Reason for Being

by Dave Lindorff
Originally published in This Can't Be Happening on 5 February 2010

In today’s America, those in power have completely disavowed one of the key goals--if not the key goal--of democratic government, which was to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.”

There were two points in President Obama’s State of the Union address that provoked resounding and universal applause in the chamber from the assembled senators and representatives of both parties. One point was when the president said he wanted to start his job-creation program “in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss.” The other point was when he said, “While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.”

The lusty cheering and applause were not based upon some belief on the part of the assembled legislators that this was about alleviating the pain and suffering of the one-in-five Americans who is out of work, or who is struggling to support a family on the income from some pathetic part-time job paying minimum wage. It was apparent that this was a cheer for the idea of giving more money to the capitalist class. Period.

In today’s America, those in power have completely disavowed one of the key goals--if not the key goal--of democratic government, as envisioned by the nation's Enlightenment Era Founders, which was, as the Constitution they authored put it so admirably in its opening sentence, to “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.”

There is nothing in that Preamble about promoting the welfare of the business classes. The only justifiable reason for doing so then would have to be in order to promote the general welfare. And yet decades of policies aimed at promoting the welfare of the corporate elite and to a lesser extent promoting the welfare of the business classes in general (what used to be called the “trickle-down theory”), have demonstrably not only not promoted the general welfare; they have worsened the general welfare.

Broken White House graphic
photo courtesy Center for Public Integrity

By every measure, the tax policies, welfare policies, trade policies, labor law policies, and Wall Street deregulation policies of the government, whether in Democratic or Republican hands, have led to a declining standard of living, a transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich, and a gradual increase in the underlying level of unemployment (the “acceptable” base level of unemployment which establishment economists consider to be “full” employment), not to mention to the extraordinary current level of unemployment.

“Trickle-down,” it turns out, really means “piss on.”

President Obama’s talk about jobs is bogus. Jobs are leaching away from the US at a prodigious rate, like water pouring through the holes of a sieve, thanks to trade policies that encourage companies to shut down US operations, move production abroad, and then sell the once locally-made goods back to increasingly impoverished Americans. Any new jobs created are lower wage, and prone to interruption, given that they are in services, and aren’t linked to any major capital investment.

Proposed programs like a $5000 tax credit for hiring a worker or revoking tax breaks for companies that shift production overseas are a joke, simply a rhetorical sop to the listening audience not meant to be taken seriously. (No employer will make a new hire just to snag a $5000 cut in taxes, and in any event, a credit is only useful to a company that is making profits and paying taxes, and such firms have no need of assistance to get them hiring. It’s the companies that are in trouble that would need encouragement to hire, and they aren’t paying any taxes.)

What is clear from the wild applause to these two lines in the State of the Union address is that government at this point is not about improving the general welfare at all (if it ever was). It is self-evidently about enriching the rich.

And at that point such a government has lost its reason for being.

This explains why the health “reform” bill has been such a farce. It was never about improving the health care of average Americans (something that could have been easily, quickly and efficiently accomplished by simply expanding Medicare to cover everyone). It was always about ensuring the enrichment of the various players in the health care industry, who already own `17.5 percent of the entire US economy.

It explains why we aren’t getting any kind of re-regulation of the predatory financial industry. The goal of de-regulation was never to make life better for average Americans. It was to enrich the financiers, and it did that very well. And no de-regulation is going to happen, because the goal of Washington politicians is to continue to enrich those financiers.

It explains why we’re at war in Afghanistan. There is no conceivable threat posed by this poorest of nations located, landlocked, in a part of the globe that is maximally remote from the US. Yet we are being committed to an endless war there, costing a nominal $100 billion a year (times two or three when you add in the financing of the debt, and the costs of care for the injured troops over their lifetimes), because that war enriches the munitions industry, and also provides justification for an annual $800 billion military budget--a staggering sum that sucks the very life out of any program aimed at “improving the general welfare.”

The whole government enterprise at this point is an ugly affront to the Preamble of the Constitution.

We will all be better served if and when the whole thing is brought down.

The way I see it, we’ve pretty much lost our government, and just voting in new politicians isn’t going to fix anything (we just demonstrated that!). Our best hope then is a popular groundswell for a new Constitutional Convention. Let’s roll the dice and try over, now that we’ve seen how our government can be stolen.

I agree it’s a scary idea. Who knows what we Americans are really like? Maybe we are a nation of selfish imperialists and racists and such a convention would lead to a restoration of slavery or apartheid, a mass deportation of minorities, incarceration of gays and lesbians, and open endorsement of empire and a police state. But I like to think that we Americans are actually as good as our mythology tells us we are, and that a constitutional convention could lead to a new government that would really be of the people, by the people and for the people.


Dave Lindorff in Washington

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.



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This story was published on February 8, 2010.
 

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