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The vision for Evergreene Digest is to be the preferred one-stop on-line source for information and perspectives that major news entities exclude from the present day American conversation. The Internet makes it possible to loosen the grip on big media by taking the news into our own hands. We readers-turned-reporters can restore integrity to the nation's single most vital conduit for democratic participation, our media.

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America: The Grim Truth

  • I am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a minority in a country that has no place for you.
  • America Goes Dark
  • We Are A Nation Of Sheep Being Led By Wild Dogs


Lance Freeman, Axis of Logic

Americans, I have some bad news for you: You have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin.

If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.

I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.

I have lived all around the world, in wealthy countries and poor ones, and there is only one country I would never consider living in again: The United States of America. The mere thought of it fills me with dread.

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These Empty Spaces, William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t

We are an idea, and all of us are bound to it through the ink that explains us on old pieces of parchment. We are an idea, and in that idea, we can locate our nobility, our strength, and the better angels of our nature. Too many of us, including our president and congressional representatives, have forgotten this. Perhaps, if we remind them in strong enough terms, if we make We The People a true force for right instead of a catch-phrase, things would get better. Until then, the idea that is America will continue to wither, and the empty spaces within will endure.

America Goes Dark, Paul Krugman, New York Times | NY

  • So the end result of the long campaign against government is that we’ve taken a disastrously wrong turn. America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.
  • America: The Grim Truth

Mike Malloy - We Are A Nation Of Sheep Being Led By Wild Dogs, hschulein, Democratic Underground
And George Carlin's Final Words To The World

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The AIG Bailout Scandal

As Elizabeth Warren’s devastating Congressional report reveals, the Federal Reserve used taxpayer money to bail out the insurance giant, instead of forcing the major banks to clean up the mess they helped create. In so doing, the Fed may have set the system up for an even bigger fall in the future.

William Greider, The Nation

The government’s $182 billion bailout of insurance giant AIG should be seen as the Rosetta Stone for understanding the financial crisis and its costly aftermath. The story of American International Group explains the larger catastrophe not because this was the biggest corporate bailout in history but because AIG’s collapse and subsequent rescue involved nearly all the critical elements, including delusion and deception. These financial dealings are monstrously complicated, but this account focuses on something mere mortals can understand—moral confusion in high places, and the failure of governing institutions to fulfill their obligations to the public.

Three governmental investigative bodies have now pored through the AIG wreckage and turned up disturbing facts—the House Committee on Oversight and Reform; the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which will make its report at year’s end; and the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP), which issued its report on AIG in June.

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The battle over Elizabeth Warren, John Case, People's World

  • Real consumer protection against fraud and misinformation in financial services is something the "financial sector" has fought for years. The catastrophe that required a $4 trillion public fiscal and credit injection into the economy makes no impression on the people whose reckless, unregulated behavior caused it, and whose bread is now buttered with its spoils.
  • The Case For Elizabeth Warren


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Brockton, MA: Pink slips for 430 teachers

  • If there's any question about the reasons for these massive cuts in education, read John Marion's report against the backdrop of Barack Obama's military budget for 2010 of nearly $1 Trillion. The monetary cost of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq this year will add $200-$250 million to the $1 trillion already spent on the wars in these two countries. If that isn't enough to explain why the education of children is being sacrificed by the United States government, one only has to refer to the taxpayer bailouts of the banks and corporations. - Les Blough, Editor, Axis of Logic
  • Budget Woes Hit Nation's Schools Hard and Harder

John Marion, Axis of Logic

Heather Bastio, 16, carries a sign in support of striking teachers in Aliso Viejo, Calif. The majority of the district's teachers struck after the school board slashed their pay 10.1 percent last month (June, 2009). (Orange County Register)

Brockton Public Schools last Thursday (July 29) sent out pink slips to 430 teachers, more than a third of the school system’s 1,200 teaching staff. The drastic move is the result of a budget gap of $9.7 million for next year and is closely tied to projected cuts in local aid provided by the state of Massachusetts.

In a letter posted on the district’s website, School Superintendent Matthew Malone described the move as “one of the darkest days our school system has ever seen.” The school district has approximately15,000 K-12 students in 20 schools.

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Budget Woes Hit Nation's Schools Hard and Harder, Rita Giordano and Edward Colimore, Philadelphia Enquirer, in Axis of Logic
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned Congress of a "catastrophe unfolding across this country" in the form of stripped-down state budgets that imperil 100,000 to 300,000 education jobs.

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Top 5 Social Security Myths

We've put together a list of the top five myths about Social Security, along with the real story.

Nita Chaudhary, MoveOn.org Political Action

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Connie Choiuinard

Social Security is under attack and we need to fight back against the lies.

Have you heard that Social Security is going bankrupt? Driving up the deficit? In crisis? Well none of that is true. These are all myths that opponents of Social Security have been spreading to scare people into accepting benefit cuts this fall. But the myths are taking hold—so we have to fight back with the facts. So we've put together a list of the top five myths about Social Security, along with the real story.

Can you check out the list and then share it with your friends, family, and coworkers? Share the list by clicking here. If you're on Facebook, share it by clicking here. If you're on Twitter, tweet it here.

Top 5 Social Security Myths

Myth #1: Social Security is going broke. Reality: There is no Social Security crisis.  By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.6 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a 'T').  It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.1 After 2037, it'll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits—and again, that's without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers' retirement decades ago.2  Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

Myth #2: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer. Reality: This is a red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than they did 70 years ago.3 What's more, what gains there have been are distributed very unevenly—since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but by less than 2 years for those in the bottom half.4 But those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut. 

Myth #3: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.  Reality: Social Security doesn't need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here's a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share.  If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come.5 Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income.6  But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

Myth #4: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn't full of IOUs, it's full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.7 The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market—which would have been disastrous—but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.

Myth #5: Social Security adds to the deficit Reality: It's not just wrong—it's impossible!  By law, Social Security's funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit.8 Defeating these myths is the first step to stopping Social Security cuts.  Can you share this list now? Thanks for all you do. –Nita, Duncan, Daniel, Kat, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1."To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security," New Deal 2.0, June 14, 2010 

2. "The Straight Facts on Social Security," Economic Opportunity Institute, September 2009

3. "Social Security and the Age of Retirement," Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 2010

4. "More on raising the retirement age," Washington Post, July 8, 2010

5. "Social Security is sustainable," Economic and Policy Institute, May 27, 2010

6. "Maximum wage contribution and the amount for a credit in 2010," Social Security Administration, April 23, 2010

7. "Trust Fund FAQs," Social Security Administration, February 18, 2010

8."To Deficit Hawks: We the People Know Best on Social Security," New Deal 2.0, June 14, 2010

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Tax the rich more. (They can take it.)

Dayton's campaign cry is really quite reasonable when you look at how state taxes have changed over the years.

Richard R. Miller, StarTribune | MN

Raise taxes on the rich. Is it a slogan from the past, a job-killing blunder, a plan destined for failure? The more former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton has persisted with this theme in his campaign for governor, the more I've wanted to learn why.

Last week (July 25-31)  I read Dayton's tax plan, which led me to the Minnesota Department of Revenue's website and a document called the "Minnesota Tax Incidence Study." That study analyzes how much Minnesotans in various income groups pay in state and local taxes as a percentage of their total incomes. The study includes income, property, sales, gas, excise, liquor, cigarette, insurance and other taxes, and shows which groups are paying the bill for the state and local government services we get.

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America Detached from War

Bush’s Pilotless Dream, Smoking Drones, and Other Strange Tales from the Crypt

Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

Admittedly, before George W. Bush had his fever dream, the U.S. had already put its first unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drone surveillance planes in the skies over Kosovo in the late 1990s.  By November 2001, it had armed them with missiles and was flying them over Afghanistan.
In November 2002, a Predator drone would loose a Hellfire missile on a car in Yemen, a country with which we weren’t at war.  Six suspected al-Qaeda members, including a suspect in the bombing of the destroyer the USS Cole would be turned into twisted metal and ash -- the first “targeted killings” of the American robotic era.

Just two months earlier, in September 2002, as the Bush administration was “introducing” its campaign to sell an invasion of Iraq to Congress and the American people, CIA Director George Tenet and Vice President Dick Cheney “trooped up to Capitol Hill” to brief four top Senate and House leaders on a hair-raising threat to the country.  A “smoking gun” had been uncovered.

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Trickle Down Economics doesn't work says Alan Blinder. Here’s what does.

  • Redirecting money from the expiring Bush tax cuts to unemployment benefits would be a net job creator and give the economy a much-needed boost.
  • Long-term Economic Pain

Posted by rmontero, AlterNet

Top Economist Alan Blinder wrote this article last week supporting letting the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire.

The Basic idea behind it is that an unemployed person or a lower income person will spend any extra money he gets right away (he doesn’t have a choice) and thus stimulate the economy, whereas a rich person will save it and thus not stimulate the economy.

One thing that’s left out in almost all discussions is class. Most of the rich people that received the Bush tax cuts will make most of their money through investments and controlling businesses for a profit, most of the poor make their money on their labor. Any sound businessman knows the way you make a profit is to spend the least amount of money while profiting the most, any of the money you give to businessmen will be used to make them more money. That money won’t trickle down, hiring won’t increase simply because those doing the hiring have more money, hiring will only increase if those doing the hiring must hire more in order to make more profit, which will only happen when demand increases.

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Long-Term Economic Pain, Bob Herbert, New York Times | NY

  • Simply stated, more and more families are facing utter economic devastation: completely out of money, with their jobs, savings and retirement funds gone, and nowhere to turn for the next dollar.
  • Reich and Krugman Agree: The Government Needs to Forget About the Deficit and Fix Unemployment
  • Krugman: US "Depressed Economy" Could Last 5 Years

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Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline

We have made monsters out of others in order to kill them without fear. Gaga makes herself a monster to try to show us ourselves.

Sarah Jaffe,  AlterNet

"If there are zeitgeist moments for products, movie stars, and even politicians, then such moments can exist for weaponry as well. The robotic drone is the Lady Gaga of this Pentagon moment."

So wrote Tom Engelhardt, in an essay titled "America Detached from War," and he couldn't have picked a more perfect metaphor. Gaga is sexy, ubiquitous, and oh so of-the-moment. She exists on a line between monstrous and beautiful, making us ask questions about progress, about agency, about control, about men and women, about Americans and the world. She is both a perfect embodiment of American cultural dominance and subverting what that means at every turn.

Gaga-analysis could fill a library at this point. It is impossible to ignore her. She demands in a voice somewhere between a howl and a snarl at the Grammys "I wanna be a star!" and she makes philosophers (like Nancy Bauer, in a New York Times piece) as well as pop critics talk about her.

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