30 Years of Unleashed Greed

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Robert Scheer

It is class warfare. But it was begun not by the tear-gassed, rain-soaked protesters asserting their constitutionally guaranteed right of peaceful assembly but rather the financial overlords who control all of the major levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is they who subverted the American ideal of a nation of stakeholders in control of their economic and political destiny.

Between 1979 and 2007, as the Congressional Budget Office reported this week, the average real income of the top 1 percent grew by an astounding 275 percent. And that is after payment of the taxes that the superrich and their Republican apologists find so onerous.

Those three decades of rampant upper-crust greed unleashed by the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s will be well marked by future historians recording the death of the American dream. In that decisive historical period the middle class began to evaporate and the nation’s income gap increased to alarming proportions. “As a result of that uneven growth,” the CBO explained, “the distribution of after-tax household income in the United States was substantially more unequal in 2007 than in 1979:

The share of income accruing to higher-income households increased, whereas the share accruing to other households declined. … The share of after-tax household income for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income more than doubled. …”

That was before the 2008 meltdown that ushered in the massive increase in unemployment and housing foreclosures that further eroded the standard of living of the vast majority of Americans while the superrich rewarded themselves with immense bonuses. To stress the role of the financial industry in this march to greater income inequality as the Occupy Wall Street movement has done is not a matter of ideology or rhetoric, but, as the CBO report details, a matter of discernible fact.

The CBO noted that in comparing top earners, “The [income] share of financial professionals almost doubled from 1979 to 2005” and that “employees in the financial and legal professions made up a larger share of the highest earners than people in those other groups.”

No wonder, since it was the bankers and the lawyers serving them who managed to end the sensible government regulations that contained their greed. The undermining of those regulations began during the Reagan presidency, and so it is not surprising that, as the CBO reports, “the compensation differential between the financial sector and the rest of the economy appears inexplicably large from 1990 onward.” Citing a major study on the subject, the CBO added, “The authors believe that deregulation and corporate finance activities linked to initial public offerings and credit risks are the primary causes of the higher compensation differential.”

So much for the claim that excessive government regulation has discouraged business activity. The CBO report also denies the charge that taxes on the wealthy have placed an undue burden on the economy, documenting that federal revenue sources have become more regressive and that the tax burden on the wealthy has declined since 1979.

In the face of the evidence that class inequality had been rising sharply in the United States even before the banking-induced recession, it would seem that the Occupy Wall Street protests are a quite measured and even timid response to the crisis.

Actually, the rallying cry of that movement was originally enunciated not by the protesters in the streets, but by one of the nation’s most respected economists. Last April, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz wrote an article in Vanity Fair titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” that should be required reading for those well-paid pundits who question the logic and motives of the Wall Street protesters.

“Americans have been watching protests [abroad] against repressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few,” Stiglitz wrote. “Yet, in our democracy, 1% of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.”

Maybe justice will prevail despite the suffering that the 1 percent has inflicted on the foreclosed and the jobless. But to date those who have seized 40 percent of the nation’s wealth still control the big guns in this war of classes.

This article was published at NationofChange at:

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Should it Take a Village?

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

photo

You’ve probably heard the old African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. However, it is doubtful that the person who first coined the phrase meant for anyone to take it literally.  It is true that raising a child, especially one who is considerate of others and mindful of being a contributing member of society, is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Yet still, in most parts of the world, a child’s parents are the primary caregivers and the ones responsible for raising the life that both brought into the world.

Conversely, there are several parts of the world where parents enlist a veritable army to assist in the raising of their children. In many parts of the Middle East for example, having a team of caregivers right in the comfort of your own home is a staple of the Arab culture. Chefs, chauffeurs, housemaids and nannies are the primary job titles that many families seek to fill even before junior is born. The annual surplus oil revenues that Middle Eastern countries like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman enjoy has paved the way for a life of ease for nationals. Why change dirty diapers or fool around with play time when you can hire someone to do it for you?

As a result, many children in the region are raised almost exclusively by their caregivers with ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ taking a backseat to the care of their child. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the gilded streets of the wealthy Gulf nations. Parents can be seen strolling hand in hand along sun-kissed beaches while a trio of nannies keep junior out of trouble or merely cart him around. Playgrounds are often full of rambunctious kids busily playing their hearts out. However, something is clearly wrong with the picture as nannies keep an eye on their wards instead of the parents. For many children in the region, there is not a parent around to watch their amazing feat on the jungle gym or one to snap a photo as he glides down a slide.

Perhaps the most distressing aspect of a reliance on caregivers is that most are unqualified for the job. Most of the household staff enlisted to help raise the children of a family come from Southeast Asia. They are typically poor, uneducated and semi-skilled laborers that do not possess the skills, and often temperament, to raise children. There have been countless cases of housemaids and nannies turning on their charges, sometimes fatally, in recent years. Some cases revealed an abundance of housemaids and nannies physically abusing the children that they were supposed to protect. Worse yet, some have even gone as far as to poison or otherwise murder the children they were hired to raise.

A professor at Qatar University recently shed light on the issue in a recent discussion that attributed a host of societal ills that are linked to children being raised by household staff. Professor Rabia Sabah Al Kuwari said, “This phenomenon is prevalent in the Arab societies. In other countries such as Holland, for instance, there are no household helpers.” Al Kuwari also went on to say that some of the problems associated with relying on paid staff to raise a child include a lack of affection between a parent and child as well as learning deficiencies that will most likely affect the child for his lifetime.

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Chlorine explained, for kids

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufail

•    Chlorine is an element used in industry and found in some household products.

•    Chlorine is sometimes in the form of a poisonous gas. Chlorine gas can be pressurized and cooled to change it into a liquid so that it can be shipped and stored. When liquid chlorine is released, it quickly turns into a gas that stays close to the ground and spreads rapidly.

•    Chlorine gas can be recognized by its pungent, irritating odor, which is like the odor of bleach. The strong smell may provide an adequate warning to people that they have been exposed.

•    Chlorine gas appears to be yellow-green in color.

•    Chlorine itself is not flammable, but it can react explosively or form explosive compounds with other chemicals such as turpentine and ammonia.

•    Chlorine was used during World War I as a choking (pulmonary) agent.

•    Chlorine is one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the United States. Its most important use is as a bleach in the manufacture of paper and cloth, but it is also used to make pesticides (insect killers), rubber, and solvents.

•    Chlorine is used in drinking water and swimming pool water to kill harmful bacteria. It is also as used as part of the sanitation process for industrial waste and sewage.

•    Household chlorine bleach can release chlorine gas if it is mixed with other cleaning agents.

•    People’s risk for exposure depends on how close they are to the place where the chlorine was released.

•    If chlorine gas is released into the air, people may be exposed through skin contact or eye contact. They may also be exposed by breathing air that contains chlorine.

•    If chlorine liquid is released into water, people may be exposed by touching or drinking water that contains chlorine.

•    If chlorine liquid comes into contact with food, people may be exposed by eating the contaminated food.

•    Chlorine gas is heavier than air, so it would settle in low-lying areas.

•    The extent of poisoning caused by chlorine depends on the amount of chlorine a person is exposed to, how the person was exposed, and the length of time of the exposure.

•    When chlorine gas comes into contact with moist tissues such as the eyes, throat, and lungs, an acid is produced that can damage these tissues.

Long-term complications from chlorine exposure are not found in people who survive a sudden exposure unless they suffer complications such as pneumonia during therapy. Chronic bronchitis may develop in people who develop pneumonia during therapy.

No antidote exists for chlorine exposure. Treatment consists of removing the chlorine from the body as soon as possible and providing supportive medical care in a hospital setting.

Laboratory testing for chlorine exposure will not be useful in making treatment decisions. A person exposed to harmful amounts of chlorine will notice it immediately because of the unpleasant odor and the resulting skin, eye, nose and/or throat irritation. Therefore, the diagnosis and treatment of chlorine poisoning will primarily be based upon patient history and their health effects.

The Element Chlorine is defined as…

A highly irritating, greenish-yellow gaseous halogen, capable of combining with nearly all other elements, produced principally by electrolysis of sodium chloride and used widely to purify water, as a disinfectant and bleaching agent, and in the manufacture of many important compounds including chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. The most common uses of Chlorine are in Bleaches, Mustard gas, Water purification, Production of chlorates, Paper production, Antiseptic, Insecticides, Paint, Plastics and Medicines.
 
Chlorine is classified as an element in the ‘Halogens’ section which can be located in group 7 of the Periodic Table. The term “halogen” means “salt-former” and compounds containing halogens are called “salts”. The halogens exist, at room temperature, in all three states of matter – Gases such as Fluorine & Chlorine, Solids such as Iodine and Astatine and Liquid as in Bromine.

As stated that chlorine is a powerful oxidant and a strong bleaching agent, it is used for industrial uses and mainly for paper and cloth industries. They are also used to disinfect and purify water- both drinking water and water of the swimming pools since Chlorine destroys harmful bacteria. Chlorine because f its potential to disinfect also is used for the sanitation of waste and sewage that comes out of the industries. You can validate this by checking the disinfectant at your house and you will see that it also contains a small percentage of Chlorine if not more. Chlorine is also used in the manufacturing of pesticides, solvents and rubber. Chlorine gas is also used in refrigerants and being an important chemical, it is also used as an example to show the characteristics of halogens.
Chlorine is corrosive gas, which reacts with the hydrogen of water in the tissues of living tings and releases nascent oxygen. This nascent oxygen and the hydrogen compound that is formed, precisely Hydrogen Chloride have the potential to harm the tissues. Not only that the resultant compound of Chlorine also has the potential to enter the cells and destroy the constituents of the cell. So whenever a plant, an animal or a human being is exposed to chlorine, there are fair chances that it might have to go through all this if the exposure occurs for a considerable period of time.

Both spoil and water can have chlorine, which can be passed on to a plant, an animal or a human being. Chlorine has the potential to be fatal if the intake is in sufficient quantities. So if Chlorine is in air it can be inhaled by life forms, similarly if it is in a dissolved form even then plants and animals alike can consume it. Chlorine can also be there is the food that human consumed since it could have been cooked in Chlorine rich water. Being heavier and denser than air it always remains at the lower levels of atmosphere, which is the air that life forms inhale.

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