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The Federal Hearing to Potentially Rethink Marijuana's Illegal Status Concludes

Judge Kimberly Mueller announced an end to five days of federal evidentiary hearings on the constitutionality of cannabis’ Schedule I status, requesting extensive briefings from the parties which realistically could delay her ruling by two months or more.

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5 Ways Positive Thinking Makes You Miserable at Work

Some people take the pursuit of happiness too far:

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Economics Has a Surprising Mental Disorder

The typical mainstream economist is about as good at making predictions as a monkey reading tea leaves. Exhibit A: The financial crisis, which only a few economists outside the mainstream saw coming, despite oceans of papers, prognostications and plumb academic assignments.

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7 Rip-offs You Need to Know About

Rip-offs, known by economists as “market inefficiencies,” are cases in which the price of something has little to do with its actual value. They are particularly common in industries where oligopolistic conditions dominate, which has been increasingly common since deregulation fever hit Washington. In today's marketplace, the consumer is often a sheep to be shorn. Here are seven common products where the buyer must beware.

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What the Federal Reserve Could Do to Help Hard-working Americans

Rather than expanding the money supply, quantitative easing (QE) has actually caused it to shrink by sucking up the collateral needed by the shadow banking system to create credit. The “failure” of QE has prompted the Bank for International Settlements to urge the Fed to shirk its mandate to pursue full employment, but the sort of QE that could fulfill that mandate has not yet been tried.

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80-Year-Old North Carolina Educator: Why I Got Arrested Protesting Right-Wing Agenda for Schools

Update: Barbara Parramore was taken into police custody Monday evening. She was part of a crowd of hundreds of peaceable citizens (the highest count yet) gathered at the North Carolina Legislature buidling to protest right-wing policies pushed by GOP lawmakers. The Moral Monday protests, launched by the NC chapter of the NAACP, is now in its fourth week. The number of protesters arrested for May 20th is estimated at 60, bringing the total count of citizens taken in by police over the last several weeks to nearly 160.

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When Your Boss Steals Your Wages: The Invisible Epidemic That’s Sweeping America

Editor's note: This is part of Lynn Parramore's ongoing AlterNet series on job insecurity and part of the New Economic Dialogue Project.

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Austerity Is Dead: Can Someone Please Tell Paul Ryan and His Deluded GOP Cohorts?

Most of the recent economic data out of Europe has been exceedingly grim. A record high number of workers across the Eurozone are unemployed. Economies are shrinking. Debts are rising.

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Let’s Call Their Bluff on the Hyped-Up Fiscal Cliff!

The “fiscal cliff” has all the earmarks of a false flag operation, full of sound and fury, intended to extort concessions from opponents.  Neil Irwin of the Washington Post calls it “a self-induced austerity crisis.”  David Weidner in the Wall Street Journal calls it simply theater, designed to pressure politicians into a budget deal:

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Monument to a Rotten System

There is nothing "unnatural" about the disaster of New Orleans. When politicians smirk at global warming, when developers look at our wetlands and dream of mini-malls, when billions are flushed in the name of war and tax cuts, when issues of poverty and racism don't even register in presidential debates, all it takes is wind, albeit 145 mph wind, to expose a sturdy superpower as a house of cards.

Nowhere is this personified more painfully than in a monument to corporate greed that has rapidly become the earth's most damnable homeless shelter: the Louisiana Superdome.

The Superdome is perhaps the most unintentionally appropriate name since Mr. and Mrs. Cheney looked at their newborn son and said, "Dick." It was birthed in 1975 with pomp and bombast, as the largest domed facility in the world. It was also funded entirely on the public dime.

In a case of brutal foreshadowing that would shame a B horror flick, the dome was constructed on an old cemetery for the poor. The burial grounds were dug up and discarded with a promise that the Superdome would the centerpiece of a New Orleans Central Business District that would benefit all. The results are certainly now in plain, ugly view. This past week, 25,000 people walked through its doors, many for the first time. They entered a stadium where tickets go for $90 a pop, season passes cost $1,300 and luxury boxes can run for as much as $109,000.

The arena boasts of having a capacity that can comfortably seat 72,000 people, with 9,000 tons of air conditioning equipment and 88 massive restrooms. But for the 25,000 who couldn't afford the oxygen, there has been no air conditioning, and the bathrooms were without electricity, running water or working toilets. Feces and garbage now pack the upper decks. The traumatized people finally emerging tell of dead bodies on the 50-yard line. One man even committed suicide, throwing himself off the upper deck.

Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco called the Superdome shelter strategy an "experiment" when asked if it could hold the storm or the flood. Chuck D's line about housing projects comes to mind when he said, "What is a project but another word for experiment?"

Saints' receiver Joe Horn has looked at the place where he has set receiving records and said that football couldn't be farther from his mind. "It's devastating to us. I've cried three or four times. Seeing kids without any food, elderly people dying and the government saying that help is on the way -- that's the most shocking part."

He's right. That is the most shocking part. Leading this carnival of disgrace is Mr. Shock and Awe himself, George W. Bush. Everyday, President Bush doles out comments that signal his removal from any basic notion of humanity. Perhaps the most galling, "The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

But happy visions of mint juleps with Trent, while Mamie and Prissy tighten Scarlett's corset, just will not sell. The discussion instead, from right-wing editorial pages in New Hampshire and Mississippi to an vocal, angry, civil rights community, is about the racism, profiteering and vile hypocrisy at the heart of this system.

As Norman Solomon wrote, "The policies are matters of priorities. And the priorities of the Bush White House are clear. For killing in Iraq, they spare no expense. For protecting and sustaining life, the cupboards go bare. The problem is not incompetence. It's inhumanity, cruelty and greed."

Frederick Douglass said it even better a century ago in his speech, "What to the Slave is the 4th of July."

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