Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Gipper continued
"The public debt increased by 178 percent between fiscal 1981 and fiscal 1989 rising from $789.4 billion to $2190.7 billion. Stated differently, when Reagan left office his eight year administration was accountable for 64 percent of all the debt incurred by this government since the beginning of the republic. The interest payments required to finance the debt created under his administration has exceeded more than $100 billion a year every year since he left office. If one calculates the compounding effect of the debt and the interest payments on the debt the cost to the Treasury thus far has been more than $3 trillion."

"During the late 1980s one of the largest financial disasters of the 20th century erupted when it became apparent that hundreds of savings and loan institutions across the country had insufficient funds to allow depositors to withdraw money from their accounts. Before it was over, U.S. taxpayers were forced to pay more than $150 billion to close and consolidate the failed institutions. While the crisis was not the result of a single factor, it is clear that a number of Reagan administration policies contributed greatly to the disaster. These included: the 1982 legislation deregulating the S & L industry and encouraging the industry to diversify, the appointment of regulators to the Home Loan Bank Board who actively encouraged the industry to engage in high risk investing; promulgation of new regulations that allowed accounting practices that concealed the extent of S & L insolvency; 1981 tax legislation creating powerful tax incentives for purchasing commercial real estate and causing dramatic inflation in real estate values; 1986 tax legislation reversing the tax advantages for real estate ownership adopted five years earlier; delay in recognizing the true scope of the problem and shutting down failed institutions before they could borrow more money and increase taxpayer liability. All of these actions were either taken as a result of legislation signed into law by the president or by regulations or regulatory actions taken by people whom he appointed."

The amount of information here leaves me dumbfounded as to where to begin:
"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk." --Ronald Reagan (Republican candidate for president), quoted in the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, February 15, 1980

"Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal." --Ronald Reagan, quoted in Time, May 17, 1976

"The Reagan admininstration was one of the most corrupt in American history, including by one estimate 31 Reagan era convictions, including 14 because of Iran-Contra and 16 in the Department of Housing & Urban Development scandal. By comparison 40 government officials were indicted or convicted in the wake of Watergate. 47 individuals and businesses associated with the Clinton machine were convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes with 33 of these occurring during the Clinton administration itself. There were in addition 61 indictments or misdemeanor charges. 14 persons were imprisoned.

Using a looser standard that included resignations, David R. Simon and D. Stanley Eitzen in Elite Deviance, say that 138 appointees of the Reagan administration either resigned under an ethical cloud or were criminally indicted. Curiously Haynes Johnson uses the same figure but with a different standard in "Sleep-Walking Through History: America in the Reagan Years: "By the end of his term, 138 administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations."

Four members of the Reagan cabinet came under criminal investiation, as compared with five in the Clinton cabinet. Three top officials of the Harding administration were in indicted in the Teapot Dome scandal."

"The claim that Reagan won the Cold War is pure rightwing propaganda. The Soviet Union had long been far weaker than many American leaders knew, or wished to acknowledge, thanks to CIA gross overestimates of its economy. The Soviet Union was brought down by a number of factors including the inherent weaknesses of dictatorship and ethnic divides that eventually forced its breakup."

William Blum: "[George Kennan], the former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and father of the theory of 'containment' of the same country, asserts that 'the suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish.' He contends that the extreme militarization of American policy strengthened hard-liners in the Soviet Union. 'Thus the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union.'"

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Gipper was no friend of mine
"One political commentator recently commented that “whereas Richard Nixon was blamed for everything, Ronald Reagan was blamed for nothing”. Even after he was caught lying over the Iran Contra affair. He was actually allowed to get away with the following comment: “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.” (He should have been removed from office for that line.--Bouncie)

"Re-elected with 52 per cent of the vote in 1970, Reagan introduced a series of welfare reforms during his second term in office. This included tightening eligibility requirements for welfare aid and requiring the able to seek work rather than receiving benefits. However, the tax cuts never came, in fact, he presided over the largest tax increase any state had ever demanded in American history."

"Reagan was elected to power with a promise to reduce public spending and to bring an end to “big government”. He did neither. He increased public spending so much that by the time he left office the United states had a national debt of $3 trillion.",3604,1236211,00.html
"It is not surprising that the current international manoeuvring over Iraq is treated with suspicion grounded in that history. Iraqis regard their newly appointed government with scepticism. They see the difficulty France had at the United Nations in trying to persuade the Americans to allow Iraqis a veto over US offensives in places like Falluja. They note that Prime Minister Ayad Allawi did not even ask for a major Iraqi role until the French made it an issue. Iraqis remember that Allawi and his exile organisation, the Iraqi National Accord, were paid by the CIA.

Not just in Iraq but around the world, the hallmark of Reagan's presidency was anti-communist cynicism, masked by phoney rhetoric about freedom. In his first press conference as president he used quasi-biblical language to claim that Soviet leaders "reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat". It was one of the most extraordinary cases of the pot calling the kettle black. What could Saddam, let alone other Iraqis, have thought when it became known two years after Rumsfeld's first visit to Baghdad that Washington had secretly sold arms to the mullahs Iraq was fighting. Who had been lying and cheating?

In the name of anti-communism everything was possible. Reagan invaded Grenada on the false premise that US students who had been there safely for months were suddenly in danger. Reagan armed thugs to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, even after it won internationally certified free elections in 1984. He made the US an outlaw by rejecting the world court judgments against its blockade of Nicaragua's coast.

Reagan armed and trained Osama bin Laden and his followers in their Afghan jihad, and authorised the CIA to help to pay for the construction of the very tunnels in Tora Bora in which his one-time ally later successfully hid from US planes. On the grounds that Nelson Mandela's African National Congress was pro-communist, Reagan vetoed US congress bills putting sanctions on the apartheid regime the ANC was fighting."
Ronald Reagan actively supported the regimes of the worst people ever to walk the earth. Names like Marcos, Duarte, Rios Mont and Duvalier reek of blood and corruption, yet were embraced by the Reagan administration with passionate intensity. The ground of many nations is salted with the bones of those murdered by brutal rulers who called Reagan a friend. Who can forget his support of those in South Africa who believed apartheid was the proper way to run a civilized society?

One dictator in particular looms large across our landscape. Saddam Hussein was a creation of Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration supported the Hussein regime despite his incredible record of atrocity. The Reagan administration gave Hussein intelligence information which helped the Iraqi military use their chemical weapons on the battlefield against Iran to great effect. The deadly bacterial agents sent to Iraq during the Reagan administration are a laundry list of horrors.

The Reagan administration sent an emissary named Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand and assure him that, despite public American condemnation of the use of those chemical weapons, the Reagan administration still considered him a welcome friend and ally. This happened while the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran, a nation notorious for its support of international terrorism, in secret and in violation of scores of laws.

Another name on Ronald Reagan's roll call is that of Osama bin Laden. The Reagan administration believed it a bully idea to organize an army of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. bin Laden became the spiritual leader of this action. Throughout the entirety of Reagan's term, bin Laden and his people were armed, funded and trained by the United States. Reagan helped teach Osama bin Laden the lesson he lives by today, that it is possible to bring a superpower to its knees. bin Laden believes this because he has done it once before, thanks to the dedicated help of Ronald Reagan.

In 1998, two American embassies in Africa were blasted into rubble by Osama bin Laden, who used the Semtex sent to Afghanistan by the Reagan administration to do the job. In 2001, Osama bin Laden thrust a dagger into the heart of the United States, using men who became skilled at the art of terrorism with the help of Ronald Reagan. Today, there are 827 American soldiers and over 10,000 civilians who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that came to be because Reagan helped manufacture both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

How much of this can be truthfully laid at the feet of Ronald Reagan? It depends on who you ask. Those who worship Reagan see him as the man in charge, the man who defeated Soviet communism, the man whose vision and charisma made Americans feel good about themselves after Vietnam and the malaise of the 1970s. Those who despise Reagan see him as nothing more than a pitch-man for corporate raiders, the man who allowed greed to become a virtue, the man who smiled vapidly while allowing his officials to run the government for him.

Turns out the farmer is screwing the farmer
The huge financial gap between farmers and nonfarmers becomes even more stark when net worth is considered. The Census Bureau concluded in 1986 that the average net worth of American households was $78,734 and that the median net worth of American households was $32,677 (meaning that equal numbers of households were worth less than and more than $32,677).[21]

In contrast, the average full-time farmer is a millionaire, with a net worth of $1,016,000 as of December 31, 1988.[22] (The net worth figure is after debts have been subtracted.) The average full-time farmer has a net worth almost 13 times greater than that of the average American family and more than 30 times greater than that of half the households of America.

Some liberals advocate continuing government aid to small farmers only, but even part-time farmers are far wealthier than the average American family. Farmers in the $40,000 to $99,999 sales class have a net worth of $426,487--more than five times that of the average American family.[23]

Although farm programs are defended as preserving the small family farmer, farm aid is distributed not according to farmers' needs but according to their net worth: to him who hath, shall be given. In 1988 the most wealthy farmers received over 100 times more in direct federal handouts than did the smallest farmers.[24] By handing big farmers $50,000, $100,000, or more each year, the federal government has provided a war chest that allows big operators to "cannibalize" little operators.

Farm programs are entitlement programs based on the idea that farmers are entitled to higher prices than their customers will pay voluntarily. If the same means test that is applied to other federal handout recipients were applied to farmers, virtually no farmer would qualify for federal aid. In the 1988 drought bill, Congress imposed a "means test," declaring that farmers with gross sales of over $2 million a year were not eligible for drought relief. A farmer with gross revenue of $2 million a year probably has a net worth far above $2 million. That is an interesting cutoff point for neediness--equivalent to a welfare department announcing that any unwed mother who owns more than 37 Cadillacs can no longer qualify for a monthly check.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Decline of the farmer
In face of such a huge crisis, animal health specialists cannot agree on a common strategy and look on helplessly while the army carries out the culling. After six weeks, the Ministry of Agriculture put the number of confirmed cases at 875, and livestock marked for slaughter in the preventive cull stands at 940,000. The lowly farmer can but look on as his perfectly healthy herd is sent away and destroyed.

Strangely enough, England's outspoken animal rights activists who scream when a single fox is hunted down are not so vocal when a million head of livestock are slaughter wholesale.

Equally strange is the fact that regions that do not export meat tend to take the disease in stride. In Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan where foot-and-mouth is deeply rooted, no animals have been slaughtered. No restrictions have been placed on the sale of meat or ban on importing meat or dairy products from other countries with the disease, though a mere 574 pigs have died of foot-and-mouth since April 2000.

Canada's decline:

St. Charles Heritage Center:
During the middle 19th century, over 90% of the country’s men were farmers.

British agriculture:

Farm Incomes

Total income from farming (TIFF) has fallen to its lowest level since entering the Common Agricultural Policy.

In the short-term, financial pressure on farms is the result of a combination of events which have led to the very steep decline in farm incomes since 1996. Farm incomes in the UK are now as low (in real terms) as at any time in the last thirty years . Incomes have fallen by 60% since 1995 (after doubling between 1990 and 1995).

The steep fall in incomes reflects a combination of adverse factors:

An exchange rate which is high by historical standards
Weak world markets in a range of commodities
The effects of the BSE crisis, foot & mouth disease and other food scares

Great Depression decline:
In the 1930s on the Great Plains and in Nebraska, tremendous forces came together to begin a decline in the number of farms that continues today. In 1934, Nebraska recorded 135,000 farms in the state, the highest number since European farmers began moving onto the plains. By 2001, the state had fewer than 58,000 farmers.

Census shows continuing decline in farm numbers:

Mar 4, 2004 12:00 PM
By Hembree Brandon Farm Press Editorial Staff

Preliminary data from the 2002 Census of Agriculture indicate a drop of 86,650 total farms, or 3.9 percent, from 1997 to 2002. All but eight states had fewer farms in 2002.

California had a decline of more than 8,000 farms during the period, says Rich Allen, deputy administrator of programs and products for USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, while Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa each had losses of more than 6,000.

A slight increase in Texas, with 10.7 percent of the total farms in the nation, helped to minimize the percent loss in total U.S. farms, he says. Other states that held steady or increased farm numbers were Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming.

Going back to 1978, the census figures show a drop of nearly 350,000 farms, Allen says, with the biggest declines in the periods 1982-1987 and 1987-1992.

The number of farms with $10,000 and above in sales, which represented nearly 50 percent of the census-adjusted numbers in 1978, has shown “a steady decline” in each subsequent census. Between 1978 and 2002, the number of farms in this sales class declined by 337,132, or 28 percent, with more than a third of that occurring between 1997 and 2002.

Farms in the $10,000 to $99,999 category declined by nearly 425,000, or 43.3 percent, during the 1978-2002 period, while farms with $100,000 or more in sales increased by 86,254, o0r 38.5 percent.

Over the past five years, the number of farms in the top sales class, $500,000 or more, increased by 404, while the $100,000 to $499,999 category declined by 41,276, or 14.8 percent.

The census showed that 20.6 percent of the reporting farms, 427,289, had two or more families sharing net farm income from an operation.

Data tables in the final census for 2002, expected to be released June 3, will include detailed summary information on farm size, types of crops grown, economic sales classes, and many other comparisons, Allen says.

“These data will present the most complete picture of American agriculture at the local level that has been possible in many years.”

A number of changes were made in the 2002 census, compared to previous years, chief among them electronic processing of all the returned forms.

The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years to collect uniform information on all U.S. farming operations and those involved in production agriculture. It helps, Allen says, to measure changes in production areas and farming practices, as well as trends in the number and size of operations and characteristics of those involved in farming.

“It is not designed to present detailed analyses of production practices or any other aspect of agriculture,” he says. “It will never answer all inquiries about agriculture and the people in agriculture.”
The number of farms like the one begun by Johnson is shrinking, from 5.75 million in 1900 to 1.91 million today (column written in 1999). It is no longer a certainty that farm children will succeed their parents in the fields.

At the turn of the last century, most farms in this country encompassed less than 175 acres; today a typical farm is 487 acres. Meanwhile, farm employment dropped from 9.9 million in 1950 to 2.9 million in 1997. Farm population slipped below 5 million in 1990, census figures show.

His wife, LaDeen, now works off the farm as a school teacher _ a move the family was forced to make after the farm crisis of the 1980s, when some 200,000 to 300,000 farmers went bankrupt, were foreclosed or had their operations financially restructured. High-interest debt on upgraded machinery and expanded acreage overwhelmed farmers hit by falling land values and low commodity prices.
Problem and Components
Policy issue area: Economics
Policy issue: Agriculture
Description: Careless policies of the Federal government are depressing many parts of rural America, causing the loss of large numbers of family farms and associated jobs.
Symptoms: Since 1981 750,000 farms went out of business; 1 million jobs in the rural economy are lost; many more small farmers are threatened with the loss of their farms; extensive psychological damage is caused to many by stress and worry; agribusiness conglomerates damage the soil and groundwater by excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Causes: Government subsidies are being cut, while costs of production are rising; administration policies favor agribusiness and food processor conglomerates; Department of Agriculture policies are no longer supportive of small farmers.
Cost of problem: -

Solution and Components
Resources: Agricultural research institutes; Federal and state governments; family farmers.
1. Save existing family farms, as a valuable component of American society and source of traditional values
2. Encourage young people to reenter farming as a means of production and a way of life.

Program area: Rural development
1. Adopt a Family Farm Act, to help the small farmer
2. Institute a policy of fair prices and supply management of agricultural products
3. Negotiate international trade agreements that will help the marketing of agricultural products at fair prices
4. Create new programs designed to keep land in the possession of families (including debt moratoriums) and encourage the entrance of new families to farming
5. Develop diversification of crops and new markets for farm products.

1. Revise tax system and subsidies so that policies do not favor agribusinesses, tax sheltering, speculation, and other actions that harm the family farm
2. Link farm policy to the monetary and agricultural production environment, both national and global
3. Increase worldwide demand by raising standard of living of the developing nations.
Cost of program: -
Beneficiaries: Family farmers; small rural businesses serving farmers.

Historical highlights:

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Never being wrong in political debate

My frustration with political debate, namely "conservatives," goes back to a message board I use to be a member of. One of the last replies I received was that "opinion pieces" are not factual and therefore not valid. This is completely correct. However, I have come to the conclusion that incriminating evidence on to an Administration rarely ever sticks. Nixon was one of the very few to step out of office. Evidence now from a conservative author suggests that those impeached charges were trumped up by the Democrats to put one of their own back in office.

So if I cannot conspire to my own conclusions after looking at what information is available, what can I do? I hope those that make these statements from one side of the fence will also allow the same freedoms with the politics from the other side.

What I'm trying to say is I have to presume to a certain extent that any administration in office is going to set up "meetings" behind closed doors that shut out the general publics knowledge of. The best I can do is see who is providing the more detailed arguments which includes not looking at the two-party system so black & white, us vs. them. The further I step outside the sphere the more I cannot reside in any given party because it becomes trading off of attacks. The same attacks that are nearly parallel in even though one party claims the other is only doing the misdeeding when in fact they are doing nearly the same thing.

I started out on this blog thinking that it seems conservatives have more corruption on liberals, and therefore I am center-right of the political equation. This is becoming less the case. What I'm tired of is the peachy picture either party portrays when common sense says it doesn't matter what party is in office. They both favor special interests before people interests.

In later posts I hope to focus on Reagan's "legacy" without linking to "opinion" pieces. In the meantime here are a couple on how our current Administration isn't the "religiousity" our President portrays.

Bush lies I
Bush lies II