The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee is hosting its latest FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS VIDEO SERIES. The theme is Poverty and its Manifestations. The third film in the series is SLAPSHOT [
The showing of this film is a tribute to Paul Newman, actor/philanthropist. It is not for everyone, as there is hockey violence, crude language and gratuitous sex. But Newman is Reg Dunlop, the player-coach of a minor league hockey team. Director George Roy Hill makes a connection between a broken-down city and a losing team. However, the team pursues the American dream by adopting a win-at-all-costs attitude.
Doors open at 7 PM, and the DVD starts at 7:30 PM. There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. A discussion will follow.
IN THESE TIMES
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The Ugly Truth about Jobs
By Robert Parry
November 19, 2009
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke has given Americans a glimpse of the ugly truth about their future job prospects.
Simply put, companies have found that they can shed workers and rely on technological advances and overseas factories to operate with a lot fewer
Bernanke told the Economic Club of
In other words, Americans--from blue-collar manufacturing workers to white-collar office employees--won't be needed as much in the future by companies that are squeezing more productivity out of the workers that remain and are shifting more jobs overseas.
"Given this weakness in the labor market, a natural question is whether we might be in for a so-called jobless recovery, in which output is growing but employment fails to increase," the Fed chairman said, suggesting strongly that the answer would be yes.
"With the job market so weak, businesses have been able to find or retain all the workers they need with minimal wage increases, or even with wage cuts," Bernanke said. "The best thing we can say about the labor market right now is that it may be getting worse more slowly."
Yet, while American jobs were falling off a cliff, productivity--defined as output per hour of work – was soaring, rising at a 5.5 percent annual rate this year, Bernanke said.
Put all this together and average Americans might want to rethink how they feel about their "free-market" economic system, now that many of them have been made surplus to it. High unemployment also may cause a double-dip recession--and even more layoffs--because jobless Americans won't be able to pay their mortgages or buy new cars or other consumer goods.
What to do?
So what can be done? The obvious answer is for the government to intervene in creating infrastructure jobs directly and encouraging the private sector to spread the available work around (and not ship so much work abroad).
However, with the federal government deeply in debt (thanks to George W. Bush's massive tax cuts tilted to the rich and because of his two open-ended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), there isn't much money to devote to any additional economic stimulus.
Thus, the Obama administration is faced with the dilemma of either borrowing more money or raising taxes on the rich to help pay for programs to increase jobs. Neither prospect is politically attractive, since Democratic "deficit hawks" keep banding with Republicans to block any more borrowing and many politicians are terrified of raising taxes, even if only on millionaires.
Ironically, the current crisis could have one silver lining, if Americans finally opted for an economic strategy that raised taxes on the rich, who have benefited most from the technological advances and the expansion of international commerce, and shared those productivity gains with more people.
That might allow Americans to begin enjoying the future that seemed to be beckoning years back, when people thought that machines would make life easier for humans, not harder.
But many Americans have been sold on the right-wing and neoconservative message that any government effort to address the nation's domestic needs is dreaded "socialism" and that the government's primary--if not only--role must be to lavish money on the military to "keep us safe."
That widespread belief system is the result of three decades of having drummed into their heads Ronald Reagan's catchy phrase that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," a theme repeated endlessly on right-wing talk radio, at Fox News and in a host of other conservative media outlets that dominate the American landscape.
Simultaneously, the American Left has done little to counter the Right's propaganda. This media asymmetry has had devastating consequences for the American political process. In the 1980s, Reagan had a relatively free hand to go after "big labor"; in the 1990s, working with the triangulating Clinton administration, Republicans pushed through "free-trade agreements" and bank deregulation; and in this decade, Bush slashed taxes for the richest Americans.
The results are now apparent in home foreclosures, bankruptcies, crumbling infrastructure and neglected cities, as Michael Moore graphically demonstrated in his new documentary, "Capitalism: A Love Story."
Over several decades of covering
Only now--as the unemployment lines stretch, as medical insurance is denied, and as the sheriffs show up with foreclosure notices--are some Americans sensing the end of this strange journey, with the whiff of an unpleasant fate behind the doors of the slaughterhouse.
This article was originally published, in longer form, at ConsortiumNews.com
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the ‘80s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His books, including Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush and Secrecy and Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered here. He is the editor of Consortium News.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs