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Young people in America, and their parents and grandparents, are all contributors to the greatest revolution in technology in the history of the world. Yet as we heap praise and money on tech leader Apple, and generate billions in advertising revenue for Google and Facebook, we're not getting back as much as we're giving.

Yes, these companies provide quality products and much-desired entertainment. They deserve a sizable profit. But while they're making unprecedented profits, they're creating little more than low-wage positions, investing minimally in the country that funded their growth, and making a mockery of the tax laws that are supposed to pay for the next generation's education.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 11:18

The Permanence of Permanent War

8551478445 1f13f7c8b5 n(Photo: thierry ehrmann)STEVEN JONAS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

President Barack Obama's recent speech on ending, or winding down, or cutting back on, or doing something to/with the "War on Terror" that the U.S. has supposedly been engaged in since the events of 9/11 has received a great deal of attention. Indeed the United States has been engaged in what can be described as "Permanent War" since the Bush/Cheney invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent invasion of Iraq. To begin to answer the above question one can begin with an analysis of Iraq in particular.

Published in Guest Commentary

5751317156 1a9225f81a n(Photo: Talk Radio News Service)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It is not hyperbolic to state that the prison system in the U.S. is one unholy dysfunctional mess. Over the past few months I've written about overcrowded and crumbling prisons, the revival of debtors prisons in a number of states across the country, the disenfranchisement of former felons, and the problems of false confessions and the wrongfully convicted. In years past I've written about the rising rates of sexual assault against incarcerated women and men, and how people with mental illness are disproportionately represented in America's correctional institutions.

Published in Guest Commentary

8780625774 5ef8d513ef(Photo: Jeffery Scism)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A recent headline at the reliably conservative web site WND.com may say it all: "IRS Targeting Brings Tea Party Back From Dead." After a few years in the political wilderness, thanks to the IRS scandal, the Tea Party is once again in the national political spotlight, and it is clearly prospering from the exposure.

Published in Guest Commentary

2697297072 2189c83eda(Photo: marissaorton)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The damage caused by the relentless corporate drive for profits has become more clear in recent years. In the most important areas of American life, devastating changes have occurred:

Health Care: Almost half of the working-age adults in America passed up doctor visits or other medical services because they couldn't afford to pay. The system hasn't supported kids, either. A UNICEF study places the U.S. 26th out of 29 OECD countries in the overall well-being of its children.

Education: Student loan balances increased by 75% between 2007 and 2012.

Published in Guest Commentary

Dollars(Photo: 401(K) 2013 / flickr)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged" fantasizes a world in which anti-government citizens reject taxes and regulations, and "stop the motor" by withdrawing themselves from the system of production. In a perverse twist on the writer's theme the prediction is coming true. But instead of productive people rejecting taxes, rejected taxes are shutting down productive people.

Perhaps Ayn Rand never anticipated the impact of unregulated greed on a productive middle class. Perhaps she never understood the fairness of tax money for public research and infrastructure and security, all of which have contributed to the success of big business. She must have known about the inequality of the pre-Depression years. But she couldn't have foreseen the concurrent rise in technology and globalization that allowed inequality to surge again, more quickly, in a manner that threatens to put the greediest offenders out of our reach.

Ayn Rand's philosophy suggests that average working people are 'takers.' In reality, those in the best position to make money take all they can get, with no scruples about their working class victims, because taking, in the minds of the rich, serves as a model for success. The strategy involves tax avoidance, in numerous forms.

Published in Guest Commentary


What do these numbers and countries mean?

In 2002 Karachi, Pakistan; 2004, Uzbekistan; 2004, Saudi Arabia; 2006, Syria; 2007, Athens; 2008, Serbia; 2008, Yemen.

No, it's not a puzzle, but given the current nature of our political discourse, the story behind it will no doubt puzzle you.

Listed above are the years and countries where United States' Embassies were attacked under our previous commander-in-chief, George W. Bush. I found this to be quite revealing given the all out "hair on fire" witch hunt that is currently taking place amongst conservative pundits and Republicans in Congress over the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya last year. Now, I will be the first to say that even one person killed in an attack on our embassies is too many, but the fact that seven (count 'em SEVEN!) embassies were attacked and many people killed under the previous Republican administration and we heard nary a word of dismay is more than puzzling, it's downright unbelievable!

Now where does the Republican hero of heroes stand on the attack meter?  There were three embassy attacks during Ronald Reagan's presidency, two in 1983 - Beirut (more than 60 killed including 17 Americans) and Kuwait - and one in 1987 in Italy.

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 06 May 2013 07:17

The Cancer of Unregulated Capitalism


Unregulated capitalism is out of control. Like a cancer, it has become "something evil or malignant that spreads destructively," with tumors growing in several once-healthy parts of the American body.

Attacking the Hungry

The uncontrolled growth of investment wealth is diverting resources away from vital programs, effectively smothering them. The average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)recipient received about $1,500 for food for the entire year. At least ten Americans each made that much in under ten seconds from their investment gains in 2012, about the time it took each one to fluff his pillow and roll over in bed.

Published in Guest Commentary

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Report reveals embarrassing DHS ineffectiveness in its drone border surveillance, and details drone mission creep, congressional drone boosterism and alarming lack of oversight, accountability and transparency in unmanned surveillance program. 

Immigration reform proponents in Congress advocate pumping billions of dollars of new DHS spending into a border security strategy that is already overly reliant on dysfunctional high-tech surveillance. Drones Over the Homeland (PDF | HTML) raises questions about the wisdom of linking immigration- reform bills to high-tech surveillance programs – as both the White House and Senate have proposed.

Published in Guest Commentary


Protecting the second amendment at all costs is nothing to make a lawmaker's chest swell with pride. As the president said after the Senate refused to pass an expanded background checks amendment for gun purchasers it was in fact "a pretty shameful day for Washington." Staring vacantly into the eyes of parents who lost a child at Sandy Hook or watching Gabby Giffords struggle to walk and speak is not a victory for freedom-loving patriots, it is a stain on our national character.

People tend to be outraged at what they see as acts of terrorism but withhold judgment when some crazed gunman shoots an abortion provider or states angrily that he's ready to defend his gun rights to his last breath - - or that his gun will have to be plucked from "his cold dead hands." Those who ask for the enactment of sensible gun laws are accused of just not understanding the "gun culture" that exists in parts of the country. But applying the word culture to the word gun is a dysfunction in the making and that's what we've been about in the lexicon of misnomers we have developed.

Published in Guest Commentary
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