Friday, January 5, 2018


Whom Does Congress Work For?

By John Miano

CIS Immigration Blog, December 12, 2017

When Disney replaced 350 Americans with foreign workers, 

forcing them to train their replacements, did we see any Florida 

members of Congress threaten to shut down the government unless 

it was stopped?

When Southern California Edison and the University of California 

replaced Americans with foreign workers, did any California 

members of Congress threaten to shut down the government unless 

it was stopped?

When Toys "R" Us replaced Americans with foreign workers, did 

any New Jersey members of Congress threaten to shut down the 

government unless it was stopped?

When Cargill and Best Buy replaced Americans with foreign 

workers, did any Minnesota members of Congress threaten to shut 

down the government unless it was stopped?


Yet when illegal aliens working under the DACA program are 

threatened with losing their jobs, members of Congress spring 

into action:

America’s poor and homeless freeze in winter storm

By Kate Randall 
5 January 2018
Heavy snow, strong winds and bitter cold battered the US East Coast on Thursday, as a powerful system that had dropped ice, sleet and snow on the South roared up the Eastern Seaboard and pummeled the Northeast. Snow was on the ground in every state from Florida to Maine by Thursday morning.
The storm was the latest cruel volley in a cold snap that has gripped nearly every state in the Continental US in recent days. States of emergency were declared, schools and businesses shuttered, air flights and trains canceled as the authorities and the public at large dealt with blizzard conditions, coastal flooding, power outages and dangerously snowy and icy roads. State and local governments are for the most part ill prepared to deal with these conditions.
Although the federal government does not track weather-related deaths nationally, NBC News reports that the sustained period of brutally cold weather has claimed the lives of at least 20 people in the US since December 26.
The cold wave has taken at least 11 lives in the past 24 hours, according to CNN, including five in Wisconsin, four in Texas, and one each in North Dakota and Missouri. Safety officials said that three people have died as a result of the storm in North Carolina, where widespread icy road conditions and accidents have been reported across the state.
In all such weather-related disasters—hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, heat waves—society’s most vulnerable are the worst affected, and the current cold snap it is no different. The poor and homeless bear the brunt of the crisis, while authorities attempt to explain away the ensuing chaos, ineptitude and suffering as the result of a “natural disaster” that no one could have predicted.
Meteorologists described Thursday’s storm as a “bombogenesis” or “bomb cyclone,” which happens when a weather system undergoes a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure and quickly intensifies with blizzard-like conditions and hurricane-force winds. Although the media has generally portrayed this as a “once-in-a-lifetime” occurrence, such storms are not an unknown or infrequent phenomenon.
The storm is expected to be followed by a deep freeze. The worst of the cold will be in the Northeast Friday morning, when wind chills are forecast to hit the minus 40s Fahrenheit in New England. Dozens of major cities across New England, eastern New York and the Mid-Atlantic states will have record low temperatures by Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. About 139 million Americans are under wind chill warnings, advisories or watches.
States of emergency had been declared in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia on Wednesday, and governors and local leaders declared emergencies and blizzard warnings in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine by Thursday.
Since Wednesday night, power outages have affected more that 12,400 Georgia Power customers, 10,200 Florida Power & Light customers and 2,700 South Carolina Electric & Gas customers.
Major streets along Boston’s waterfront were completely underwater Thursday, with the worst flooding occurring at high tide at 12:40 p.m., hitting 15.1 feet and tying the all-time record from the Blizzard of 1978. Record coastal flooding hit towns and cities on Massachusetts’ North and South shores and Cape Cod, with the storm surge crashing over seawalls. More than 24,000 customers experienced power outages.

School closures

The storm shut down schools in Boston; Providence, Rhode Island; New York; Philadelphia; Virginia; and Washington, DC, among other cities. Some school districts in the South, including in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, were closed in anticipation of the bitter cold to come.
In Baltimore, Maryland, children huddled in frigid classrooms Wednesday, prompting outrage from parents and teachers who asked why classes had not been canceled.
Aaron Maybin, a Baltimore native, former NFL player and elementary school teacher, said a thermometer showed it was 40 degrees in his classroom on Wednesday. Baltimore Public Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises said that one-third of the school system, or about 60 schools, reported heating issues during the day.
A system-wide shutdown of the city’s public schools was called only after photos spread on social media showing children bundled in coats, hats and gloves in an effort to keep warm when heating was not keeping up with the plunging temperatures.
Maybin told CNN, “When I spoke to the principal, I was told it was due to nobody being there during the holidays to make sure the heat stayed on and pipes didn’t freeze.” As with other districts nationwide, public schools are being starved for funds, resulting in crumbling infrastructure that places students’ health and safety at risk.
“It’s really ridiculous the kind of environment we place our children into and expect them to get an education,” Maybin said in a tweet. “I got two classes in one room, kids are freezing. Lights are off. No computers. We’re doing our best but our kids don’t deserve this.”
In Lowell, Massachusetts, an impoverished former mill town, the high school was closed on Wednesday as temperatures in 20 percent of its classrooms were below the state minimum. Students shared photos of hands turned blue in the cold. The cold temperatures were attributed to failing heating systems and broken pipes brought on by the cold wave, aggravated by years of neglect. All schools were closed on Thursday.

Rising heating costs

Residents nationwide are bracing for rises in heating costs in the coming months. The US Department of Energy is predicting that this winter’s energy costs will rise by 8 percent for electricity, 12 percent for natural gas, and 17 percent for home heating oil. The main reason for a hike in energy bills is the record cold temperatures.
A rise in energy costs will undoubtedly lead to an increase in house fires, as more households are unable to afford the energy bills and resort to less safe alternative heating methods such as space heaters. As of the end of 2017, 2,152 people had perished in house fires across the US. The victims were overwhelmingly poor and working class.
In the midst of the current cold wave, 8,000 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents were without heat by midday Wednesday. Heating systems in five public housing developments were shut down completely, according to city records, with some residents having lived in these bone-chilling conditions for days.
At Redfern House in Far Rockaway, the heat has been off and on since December 28, and early Wednesday the entire system was shut down by frozen pipes. Resident Jazmin Figueroa told the New York Times she has turned on stove burners and wrapped her children in multiple layers to keep them warm. “They go to bed freezing. I gotta put them in long johns,” she said. “It’s not right, especially if you have kids.”
At the Reid Houses in East New York, 235 seniors have been without heat since Tuesday. At Harborview Terrace in Hell’s Kitchen the story was the same. More than 1,300 units were without heat Thursday at the Woodside Houses in Queens. NYCHA spokeswoman Jasmine Blake said the problem was due to frozen pipes and claimed the heating issue would be addressed at all of the housing developments “as soon as possible.”

The homeless and affordable housing

The homeless are the most susceptible to the winter cold. With a lack of affordable housing affecting all working families, homeless individuals are hard-pressed to find accommodation as funding for shelters is cut back and decent living spaces are few and far between. The rules and conditions at many shelters, with restrictions on drugs and pets, make them undesirable for some.
Many of those seeking housing are also caught up in the opioid crisis and are in need of treatment. But they find that treatment when they need it most is not available, due to a scarcity of affordable, effective treatment beds.
On Monday, the body of a 54-year-old homeless man was found inside a bin near an apartment complex in St. Louis, Missouri. The city’s most recent count of homeless residents, in January 2017, showed 1,336 people. Shelters in St. Louis typically house 150 to 200 people a night during extreme cold.
One shelter in the city, New Life Evangelistic Center, was forced to close last April by the city, citing chronic over-occupancy and building code violations, according to US News & World Report. Many former residents were forced onto the streets, including 56-year-old Grover Perry.
Perry was found dead inside a portable toilet near a construction site on December 20, when temperatures fell to 19 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 Celsius). Rev. Larry Rice, former operator of the New Life shelter, said Perry was mentally handicapped and had no place to go once the shelter shut down, so he started staying in the portable toilet. “I’m surprised there haven’t been more people die,” Rice said.
As the homelessness crisis worsens, state and federal government authorities have scant solutions. Donald Trump, who has touted his support for veterans, has presided over the first rise in the number of homeless veterans in seven years. The number of homeless vets increased by 1.5 percent from January 2016 to January 2017. According to a new report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the homeless census on a night in January 2017 counted 40,056 veterans unsheltered.
On December 1, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced he was gutting a $460 million program dedicated to veteran homelessness, telling the Military Times that he did not believe it was practical to aim for zero veteran homelessness. Shulkin reversed his position a few days later after an outcry from veterans’ advocates.

OBAMA’S CRONY BANKSTERISM destroyed a TRILLION DOLLARS in home equity… and they’re still plundering us!

Barack Obama created more debt for the middle class than any president in US

history, and also had the only huge QE programs: $4.2 Trillion.

OXFAM reported that during Obama’s terms, 95% of the wealth created went to the top 1% of the world’s wealthy. 

"The massive growth of stock values has occurred during the worst economic “recovery” in the post-war period, characterized by historically low levels of investment, falling productivity growth and stagnant wages."

The Dow at 25,000: The bonanza for the oligarchy continues

5 January 2017
The surge of the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index past 25,000 points yesterday marks a further escalation in the speculative binge that has gripped Wall Street and global stock markets over the past year, signifying a massive transfer of wealth to the heights of society.
It took just 23 days for the Dow to jump from 24,000 to its latest milestone, the shortest period between 1,000-point increments in the index’s history.
During 2017, the S&P Global Broad Market Index soared by 22 percent, the biggest increase since the global financial crisis of 2008–2009. This represents a rise of around $9.6 trillion in market value. The FTSE All-World index rose 1.6 percent in December, notching up 14 straight months of gains, the longest such run on record.
The market escalation has prompted predictions that it will continue into 2018, with some forecasters even pointing to a market “melt up” in the coming period.
Notwithstanding a slight increase in global growth over the past year, the market surge is not an expression of a recovery in the world economy, a decade after the eruption of the global financial crisis. Rather, it is a mechanism for an accelerating transfer of income to the upper echelons of society. For example, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos increased his wealth by $33 billion in the past year.
All arms of government and the financial institutions are 
directed toward fuelling the equity bubble. In the first place 
stand the US Federal Reserve and the other major central 
banks around the world. They have pumped an estimated 
$15 trillion into global financial markets and sent interest 
rates to historic lows, providing the conditions for the share 
buybacks and financial mergers that have played such a 
significant role in boosting the stock markets.
The extent of this financial largesse is indicated by the fact that central banks have bought up virtually all the bonds issued by the governments of the world’s 10 biggest economies over the past two years—a key factor in keeping interest rates close to zero in real terms.
These policies represent a continuation and deepening of the process that began 30 years ago in response to the US stock market crash of October 1987, when US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan guaranteed that the financial spigots would be opened to sustain asset prices.
The response to every financial storm 

throughout the 1990s and early 2000s has 

been the same: the provision of still more 

money to finance the next round of 

speculation, culminating in the bailout of the 

banks after 2008 and the policy of 

quantitative easing over the past decade.

These measures have been pursued in tandem with 
slashing spending on social services, along with 
health and education. In the US, as in all the other 
major capitalist economies, government policies—
whatever the political colouration of the regime in 
power—are based on austerity measures aimed at 
transferring the wealth created by the labour of the 
working class up the income scale.

Having just handed out a bonanza to the corporations and the ultra-wealthy in the form of the biggest tax cuts in history, all sections of the US political establishment are united in developing an agenda that makes ever-deeper inroads into the provision of social services.
The character of the stock market boom can be gauged by contrasting the situation with that in previous periods.
Over the past nine years of economic “recovery,” the Dow Jones Industrial Average has shot up by 177 percent, while the real US gross domestic product has grown by only 19 percent.
Over a similar period 50 years ago, between 1959 and 1968, the Dow grew by only 22 percent, while the real economy grew by 48 percent, or more than twice the current rate.

The massive growth of stock values has 
occurred during the worst economic 
“recovery” in the post-war period, 
characterised by historically low levels of 
investment, falling productivity growth and 
stagnant wages.

The parasitic nature of the boom is evidenced by the fact that about one-quarter of the total increase in share prices has come from just five of the largest US companies by market value: Apple, Alphabet (the owner of Google), Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft.
The characteristic feature of these firms is that their profit accumulation derives not from investment in plant and equipment and the employment of large numbers of workers, as with the industrial giants of the past, but via the appropriation of wealth through intellectual property rights, a modern form of rent. This form of parasitism ultimately depends on the super-exploitation of workers in China and other cheap labour regions.
Amazon, in contrast to the other technology giants, has a big workforce. Its massive share price increase reflects its role in driving smaller distribution networks out of business, through a combination of monopolistic market power and the slave-like exploitation of its impoverished workforce.
There is another, no less decisive, aspect to the stock market boom: the suppression of the class struggle and the virtual disappearance in recent decades of major strike actions.
This is not the result of some organic incapacity of the working class to rise to the challenges that confront it. Rather, it is the outcome of the role of the trade unions and the political parties, supported by the various pseudo-left tendencies, which have dominated it for decades.
The crucial role of these organisations in facilitating the stock market bonanza is not the result of “mistakes” or incorrect assessments, but derives from their material interests and privileges, which are rooted in the maintenance of the private profit system.
With the beginning of the New Year, however, there are indications that the working class is once again preparing to enter into convulsive struggle, as evinced by mass demonstrations in Iran, the latest wildcat strike by auto workers in Romania, and growing labour militancy throughout Europe and the Middle East.
The capitalist profit system constitutes nothing less than a coordinated instrument for the transfer of the wealth of society to its upper echelons and their hangers-on. It cannot be changed through a perspective of reform, but only through its overthrow and the reconstruction of society from top to bottom on the basis of a socialist program.
That is, as Marx put it, there is no way forward other than the “expropriation of the expropriators,” ending the private ownership of the means of production and establishing a socio-economic order to meet human need. The necessity to undertake the political rearming of the working class in the fight for this perspective is the conclusion that must be drawn from the stock market frenzy, and the growth of poverty and social misery that accompanies it.
Nick Beams

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