Imagine America – culture, economic justice, education, communications, history

America

being happy is nearly impossible if someone is unemployed…now, 10.9 million Americans don’t have a job…There’s no way we can be a happy nation again without getting those jobs back, and making sure that all Americans have an equal shot at a good job. It’s time to close the book on Reaganomics, toss austerity aside… Only then will Americans really have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” When Happiness Died in America…  By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program, December16,  2013

The nation’s population will look dramatically different by mid-century, becoming more racially and ethnically diverse and a good deal older as it increases from about 302 million to 439 million by 2050, according to projections released today by the U.S. Census Bureau…Minorities, about one-third of the U.S. population, are expected to become a majority by 2042 and be 54 percent of U.S. residents by 2050. U.S. to Grow Grayer, More Diverse, Minorities Will Be Majority by 2042, Census Bureau

America’s Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom  

American Dream or Nightmare

… to what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and edu­ca­tion of his or her parents? Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth…The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom…most importantly, America’s inequality is undermining its values and identity…America can no longer regard itself as the land of opportunity that it once was. But it does not have to be this way: it is not too late for the American dream to be restored. The Price of Inequality and the Myth of Opportunity by Joseph Stiglitz

America Is Far from #1 by Eric Zuesse

 

Culture war

Today, conservatives have a social argument for every subject of debate – everything has become part of the culture wars…the intermingling of social and concrete issues has accelerated in the age of Obama…It’s helping to fuel the growing reality-gap between conservatives and liberals …people tend to be more defensive about social issues, and less likely to be open to counter-arguments or new information… How the Right Has Turned Everything Into a Culture War — And Why That’s Terrible for Our Democracy By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, February 28, 2012

Race

…it took America — this place where the old divisions would need to be put aside so as to subjugate indigenous persons and maintain chattel enslavement of Africans in the name of “the white race” — to really bring racism, as we know it to fruition…If the elite could make the poor Europeans believe they were members of the same “white” team as the rich Europeans, then the prospects for class-based rebellion would be dampened…My goal…is to confront us with the reality that, ultimately, racial equity is in the interest of all of us… Tim Wise on White Resentment in a Multiracial Society  - interview by Mark Karlin

America’s Ku Klux Klan Mentality By Lawrence Davidson, Consortium News, September 8, 2012 

The Persistence of Racial Resentment

Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America By Sara Robinson

Fear of a Black President 

How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane

 Sex

…The real problem we face is racism, bigotry and willful ignorance in the face of our changing demographics, spiritual beliefs and the challenge that postmodern thought poses to people stuck in Bronze Age thinking…America’s White Male Problem By Frank Schaeffer  

Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now

 

Divide and conquer

Wedge issues are a powerful distraction — and allow the right wing to accomplish their goals while the public is preoccupied with some trumped up emotional issue… wedge issues are emotional in appeal. They bypass the cognitive function of the brain and go right to a subconscious emotional response… Why are “Wedge Issues” Essential to Republican Rule?

….Throughout history, political elites have manipulated social groups to achieve and maintain power.… in the last two generations Republicans have masterfully used wedge politics– pitting us against them — to gain and keep power and to implement policies that a clear majority of the populace dislikes…There are powerful political and economic interests that want to keep us fragmented and at one another’s throats rather than working together to establish a more inclusive democracy. They will do all they can to stir continued discord between groups and to use wedge politics to defeat our aspirations for meaningful change. Can progressives of all persuasions, no matter what our primary interest groups may be, at least agree that we will stop doing their job for them?  Us vs Them: A Simple Recipe to Prevent Strong Society from Forming By James Rohrer, AlterNet.org, July 27, 2012

 

Economic Justice

What Money Can’t Buy and why eco­nom­ics needs to be seen not as a sci­ence but a moral philosophy

The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

The Republicans’ War on the Poor

The GOP Is in Total Denial About America’s Soaring Poverty Problems By Michelle Goldberg, The Nation, posted on Alternet.org, December 16, 2013

America’s vast inequality is no accident, but in fact has been politically engineered….What government has done and not done, and the politics that produced it, is really at the heart of the rise of an economy that has showered huge riches on the very, very, very well off.”  politicians rewrote the rules to create a winner-take-all economy that favors the 1% over everyone else, putting our once and future middle class in peril. Engineered Inequality — Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson on Moyers & Company,  March 1, 2012

Class wars

CEO-To-Worker Pay Ratio Ballooned 1,000 Percent Since 1950

How the Billionaires Class Is Destroying Democracy

The Empathy Ceiling: The Rich Are Different — And Not In a Good Way

Transfer of wealth

In recent decades, as Repub­li­cans have devoted them­selves with laser-like inten­sity to redis­trib­ut­ing America’s wealth and income upwardMany Democ­rats have been com­plicit in this calamity by their indif­fer­ence to the con­se­quences of dereg­u­la­tion and trade.… Redistributing wealth upward by Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, September 25, 2012

The Biggest “Takers” and Societal Parasites Are the Rich, Not the Working Class and Poor by Paul Buchheit, Buzzflash at Truthout, May 13, 2013

The Shocking Redistribution of Wealth in the Past Five Years by Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams, December 30, 2013

Economic justice — race

…The racial economic gap — also present in other measures of economic well-being, such as wage and unemployment gaps — has persisted over time in the United States… What Do We Really Know About Racial Inequality? Labor Markets, Politics, and the Historical Basis of Black Economic Fortunes By Cynthia Thaler

Capitalism

… Capitalism — the logic of subordinating every aspect of life to the accumulation of profit (i.e. the “rules of the market”) — has become today’s “common sense.” …What sustains the tragic myth that There Is No Alternative? Those committed to building a more just future must begin re-thinking and revealing the taken-for-granted assumptions that make capitalism “common sense,” and bring these into the realm of mainstream public debate in order to widen horizons of possibility… Reclaiming Our Imaginations from ‘There Is No Alternative’ by Andrea Brower

Corporate Espionage and the Secret War Against Citizen Activism

Conservative Fantasies About the Miracles of the Market 

Corporate Power

…It’s not the powerless who corrupt democracies… it’s the powerful who corrupt democracies. …America’s fiscal problems are a direct result of the Billionaire Class working behind the scenes of our democracy and syphoning off massive amounts of wealth for themselves while paying lower taxes than they’ve paid in a half-century… How the Billionaires Class Is Destroying Democracy By Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks 

The corporate-policy network is highly centralized, at both the level of individuals and that of organizations. Its inner circle is a tightly interwoven ensemble of politically active business leaders…” Meet the Elite Business and Think-Tank Community That’s Doing Its Best to Control the World, By Andrew Gavin Marshall posted on Alternet.org June 19, 2013  

Corporate social responsibility

….As consumers, employees and entrepreneurs, Millennials are shifting the norms of corporate America’s conduct, ethical imperatives and purpose …A new generation of employees, consumers and entrepreneurs is stepping forward with a better way of doing business — putting its bets on the goodness of people rather than loading the dice in its own favor. Millennials to business: Social responsibility isn’t optional By Michelle Nunn

Economic justice — labor

… Money and budget deficits are the pretext for a larger battle to attack government and break public-sector unions for political reasons… What is really going on here is an effort by corporations and the GOP to dismantle one of the few remaining institutions in America that defy their power… Unions represented what John Kenneth Galbraith called a “countervailing power” on corporations…. Attacking unions: It’s not about the money, it’s about power By David Schultz, MinnPost.com

… the share of America’s work­force that’s union­ized hit a 97-year low…It’s a vicious cycle: as unions decline, fewer people see their fates as bound up with unions, which just accelerates the decline …when unions are stronger the economy as a whole does better… unions lift wages for non-union members too by creat­ing a higher prevailing wage…The weakness of labor is everyone’s problem — and its revival everyone’s opportunity. The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too By Eric Liu

Middle class

The Middle Class Faces Extinction—So Does the American Dream by Stewart Lansley, Los Angeles Review of Books, Alternet.org,  June 3, 2013

Big Lie: America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World…We’re Ranked 27th! by Les Leopold

Biblical Capitalism

… “Biblical Capitalism” or the belief that unregulated capitalism is biblically mandated. The Religious Right is well known for its regressive social activism, but less publicized is the role it has played in the war against progressive economic policy, labor unions, the regulatory structure and social safety net. The sacralizing of laissez-faire capitalism predates the Tea Party movement and has been a major theme of fundamentalist textbooks for more than three decades…Biblical Capitalism — The Religious Right’s War on Progressive Economic Policy by Rachel Tabachnick, Talk2action.org, Feb 01, 2011

 Prosperity Christianity, or what some call “health and wealth” religion…is the adoption of the logic of free enterprise and branding as a way of understanding, experiencing, and proselytizing Christian religious values.…. As a set of religious teachings and training, the theology is centered on the notion that God provides material wealth—prosperity—for those individuals he favors… the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the ‘sowing of seeds’ through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings… How Christianity Became a Lucrative Brand By Sarah Banet-Weiser, New York Press, posted on Alternet.org, December 17, 2012

Education

Our [emerging] economies…will require new literacies not only for work but for living a fulfilled life, coping with the new complexities of our societies, and engaging as a citizen…focus ever more on critical thinking, the ability to question, analyse, challenge; seeing arguments from different perspectives; articulating ideasWhat Does It Mean To Be Literate In The 21st Century? By Sheila Moorcroft, Shaping Tomorrow, posted on Alternet.org, June 19, 2012

…America will not remain true to its highest ideals…if we don’t do a far better job than we’ve been doing of educating our sons and daughters…For we know that economic progress and educational achievement have always gone hand in hand in America…The source of America’s prosperity has never been merely how ably we accumulate wealth, but how well we educate our people. This has never been more true than it is today…what’s at stake is nothing less than the American Dream…I’m calling on our nation’s governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity…President Obama’s Remarks to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, March 10, 2009

Report Argues U.S. Is Neglecting, Undervaluing Education in the Humanities

The Billionaires’ War Against Public Education 

Communications

The openness principle, often referred to as Net Neutrality, is why the Internet has become a network for the truest expression of the free market. Regardless of the court’s decision, the FCC has the responsibility to ensure that ISPs don’t use their power over Internet access to seize control of content and destroy this marketplace. Stopping Internet payola now is vital to saving the Internet over the long term. The End of Free Internet as We Know It? By Timothy Karr, Save the Internet, posted on Alternet.org, December 12, 2013 

… coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth… Democrats were hardly inno­cent but…the Republican campaign was just far more over the top.”… fabulists and liars can exploit the elite media’s fear of being seen as taking sides… if the story that you’re telling repeatedly is that they’re all…equally to blame — then you’re really doing a disservice to voters, and not doing what journalism is supposed to do…How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign by Dan Froomkin

Your False-Equivalence Guide to the Days Ahead James Fallows Sep 27 2013

Fox’s Unbalanced Ethics Threatens Democracy by Wendell Potter

Republicans Lied To by ‘Conservative Entertainment Complex’

 

Social media

While the traditional media loves fights, the new and emerging social media loves connections. We can leverage the wisdom and creativity of crowds to find win-win solutions to our common problems. We can scale our efforts to tens of thousands of conversations, giving individuals the power to begin to reweave the social fabric of our communities… Reweaving the Fabric of our Society by Joan Blades, co-founder, MoveOn.org /

How You Will Change the World with Social Networking by Deanna Zandt

 

Change/History

…the debacle of the last ten years didn’t just happen. And, yes, plenty of people did see it coming. Their warnings were ignored. What followed, then, didn’t “just happen,” but was the consequence of conscious choice…it is important to discuss and determine the causes of the various messes we find ourselves in The Uh-Ohs: A Decade of Conservative Failure by Terrance Heath

In or around 1978, America’s character changed…the institutions of American democracy, stronger than the excesses of individuals, were usually able to contain and channel them to more useful ends … In Washington, corporations organized themselves into a powerful lobby that spent millions of dollars to defeat the kind of labor and consumer bills they had once accepted as part of the social contract… what destroys morale below is the systematic corner-cutting, the rule-bending, the self-dealingOnce the social contract is shredded, once the deal is off, only suckers still play by the rules.   How American Society Unravelled After Greedy Elites Robbed the Country Blind By George Packer

The Long, Sordid History of the American Right and Racism

5 Christian Right Delusions and Lies About History By Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, November 21, 2013 

 

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