The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

One of the big deals that ExxonMobil has announced in the past year involves access to the Russian Arctic, where it is partnered with a Russian firm to access many billions of dollars worth of reserves involving big investments ExxonMobil would make north of the Arctic Circle. Why is that oil accessible? It’s because sea ice is melting in the Arctic. Global warming may, in fact, unlock enormous opportunities for oil companies.

As ExxonMobil attacked global warming publicly, geologists working within ExxonMobil were examining how a warmer Earth — resulting from global warming — could create new business opportunities for ExxonMobil.

This is some vomit inducing bullshit.

(via humanformat)

(via other-stuff)

[The] defining trait of the financial and corporate elite, who lord over the present system has proven to be an all-consuming lust for riches that an individual could not spend in a thousand lifetimes. Their concept of what constitutes acts of trade and commerce is analogous to what pornography is to erotica. Accordingly, one would regard the greedheads of the one percent with the same compassion that one grants to a porn addict, if not for the fact that acts of autoeroticism are not responsible for climate chaos nor did the activity bring down the global economy. In contrast, this ongoing, noxious, degrading circle jerk of the elite did. Phil Rockstroh

Corporations Renew Push For Tax Holiday A Day After CBO Says It Would Have Negligible Effect On Job Creation | ThinkProgress

The coalition of corporations pushing for a temporary repatriation tax holiday on money that companies have stashed offshore renewed its efforts in a letter to Congress and the White House today, a day after the Congressional Budget Office released a study showing that such a holiday would have a minimal impact on job creation. Executives at Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco Systems, and Pfizer are among the 15 executives that signed the letter, which asserts that Congress can’t wait any longer to push the holiday through…

[…]

Just yesterday, the CBO found that the repatriation holiday would have the weakest effect on job creation of all the major policy proposals made by both parties.

(Source: sarahlee310)

The Globalization of Protest | Joseph Stiglitz

Research in recent years has shown how important and ingrained notions of fairness are. Spain’s protesters, and those in other countries, are right to be indignant: here is a system in which the bankers got bailed out, while those whom they preyed upon have been left to fend for themselves. Worse, the bankers are now back at their desks, earning bonuses that amount to more than most workers hope to earn in a lifetime, while young people who studied hard and played by the rules see no prospects for fulfilling employment.

The rise in inequality is the product of a vicious spiral: the rich rent-seekers use their wealth to shape legislation in order to protect and increase their wealth – and their influence. The US Supreme Court, in its notorious Citizens United decision, has given corporations free rein to use their money to influence the direction of politics. But, while the wealthy can use their money to amplify their views, back on the street, police wouldn’t allow me to address the OWS protesters through a megaphone.

The contrast between overregulated democracy and unregulated bankers did not go unnoticed. But the protesters are ingenious: they echoed what I said through the crowd, so that all could hear. And, to avoid interrupting the “dialogue” by clapping, they used forceful hand signals to express their agreement.

They are right that something is wrong about our “system.” Around the world, we have underutilized resources – people who want to work, machines that lie idle, buildings that are empty – and huge unmet needs: fighting poverty, promoting development, and retrofitting the economy for global warming, to name just a few. In America, after more than seven million home foreclosures in recent years, we have empty homes and homeless people.

[…] On one level, today’s protesters are asking for little: a chance to use their skills, the right to decent work at decent pay, a fairer economy and society. Their hope is evolutionary, not revolutionary. But, on another level, they are asking for a great deal: a democracy where people, not dollars, matter, and a market economy that delivers on what it is supposed to do.

The two are related: as we have seen, unfettered markets lead to economic and political crises. Markets work the way they should only when they operate within a framework of appropriate government regulations; and that framework can be erected only in a democracy that reflects the general interest – not the interests of the 1%. The best government that money can buy is no longer good enough.

Stop For-Profit Prisons | David Shapiro

Yesterday, the ACLU released Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration, an in-depth examination of the private prison industry.The report finds that mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group – the private prison industry – even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole.

While the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry is expanding at an exponential rate, holding ever more people in its prisons and jails, and generating massive profits. Private prisons for adults were virtually non-existent until the early 1980s, but the number of prisoners in private prisons increased by approximately 1,600 percent between 1990 and 2009.In 2010, the two largest private prison companies alone received nearly $3 billion in revenue.

As detailed in the report, this year advocates of for-profit prisons trotted out privatization schemes as a supposed answer to budgetary woes in numerous states, including Arizona, Florida, Ohio, and Louisiana. But the evidence that private prisons provide savings compared to publicly operated facilities is highly questionable, and certain studies point to worse conditions in for-profit facilities.

Now is the time for serious criminal justice reform, not privatization schemes. The private prison industry feeds off the mass incarceration problem and cannot be part of the solution. The only real way to cut prison spending is to cut the number of people we keep in prison.

How Pricey For-Profit Colleges Target Vets' GI Bill Money | Mother Jones

More evidence that profit should be kept out of education:

Last winter, the Department of Veterans Affairs tasked its newly hired blogger, a cantankerous Iraq vet named Alex Horton, with investigating the website GIBill.com, one of many official-looking links that come up when you Google terms like “GI Bill schools.” With names like ArmedForcesEDU.com and UseYourGIBill.us, these sites purport to inform military veterans how to best use their education benefits. In reality, Horton found, they’re run by marketing firms hired by for-profit colleges to extol the virtues of high-priced online or evening courses. He concluded that GIBill.com “serves little purpose other than to funnel student veterans and convince them their options for education are limited to their advertisers.”

The 65-year-old GI Bill is widely credited with transforming post-World War II America by subsidizing vets’ college education and fueling the expansion of the middle class. Yet recently, the program has also become a cash cow for for-profit schools like Capella, DeVry, ITT Tech, Kaplan, and the University of Phoenix, eager to capitalize on vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a beefier post-9/11 GI Bill has kicked in, a surge of service members has left the ranks armed with benefits that will cover the full cost of attending public college. In 2009, the for-profits took in almost as much military money as public colleges, even though they enrolled about one-third the number of vets. Spending on military education benefits has shot up to $10 billion; for-profit schools’ share of that money has gone up 600 percent, as revealed in a recent PBS Frontline exposé. For example, at Kaplan—owned by the Washington Post Co.—military revenues grew to an estimated $48.9 million last year, up from $2.6 million in 2006.

The result has been a bonanza for schools’ executives and shareholders. “We didn’t foresee that the for-profit sector, eager to please Wall Street investors, would go after this new funding aggressively, often in ways that are not in the best interests of veterans and service members,” stated Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) after leading an investigation into 30 major for-profits earlier this year. Or as one University of Phoenix alum put it on RipoffReport.com, the school “treats military students like cash piñatas.”

People repeat the feel-good slogan of “support our troops” ad nauseum. Isn’t it time we added, “and don’t shit on them when they get home”?

There is a war going on in this country, and I am not referring to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am referring to the war waged by the wealthiest people in America on the shrinking middle class of our country. The nation’s billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more. Their greed has no end, and they are apparently unconcerned for the future of this country if it gets in the way of their accumulation of power and wealth. An impassioned call to action from the U.S. Senate’s lone independent, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. Read more … (via utnereader)

Ending Big Oil’s tax holiday | Grist

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing last week, the five Big Oil CEO’s continued to whine about the threat of losing their tax breaks despite their enormous wealth and success. Echoing red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy, ConocoPhilips actually said that efforts to remove the tax breaks were “un-American.” At the hearing, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) prodded Conoco’s CEO Jim Mulva to retract this offensive comment, but he refused to do so.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Schumer urged the companies to contribute to our nation’s economic well-being by giving up these relatively modest loopholes to reduce cuts in student loans and other critical programs. They shamefully refused to play their role in America’s economic recovery.