Community Articles from 2012
A Better Way To Finance Public Projects
by Rudy Avizius
Posted July 17, 2012
Consider this…., when a municipality or school district wishes to do a repair, a capital improvement or infrastructure project, the amount of money paid in interest costs to the financiers exceeds the amount of money paid to those who supply the materials and do the labor on the project. Most people should feel angered by this. Why should those who simply move money around, make more money than those who produce the materials and do the actual labor on the project? Most readers can probably relate to this personally because the interest burden of financing the purchase of their homes causes the final total cost of the purchase to far exceed the original cost of home itself. There needs to be a better system of financing public projects.
Perhaps engaging in creative thinking would result in cheaper financing of public projects. Proposed solutions still center on using conventional or Wall Street financing instead of looking to alternative sources. Well, there is a better way and it can provide any sized government or community entity with financing at zero or near zero interest. More…
Why Is the Government Collecting Your Biometric Data?
by Tana Ganeva
Posted June 28, 2012
The next time you get pulled over, watch for a blocky, black gadget attached to the officer’s iPhone. That’s the MORIS device, one of many mobile fingerprint and biometric scanners proliferating in police departments around the country. MORIS is designed to ascertain identity and dig up an unsavory past, but that’s not all: the device can also gather iris scans, fingerprints, and photos searchable with face recognition technology.
Mobile scanners like MORIS are just one of the many ways biometric data (unique, identifying physical features including fingerprints, DNA or iris scans) is collected and potentially fed into government and private biometric databases that have swelled in both size and sophistication in the decade after 9/11. More…
Wall Street’s Mutant Gene Marches On
by Jim Hightower
Posted June 14, 2012
Perhaps there’s some sort of greed gene that prompts compulsive outbreaks of financial graspiness by giant bankers. How else to explain the chronic gouges, excesses and scandals that we’re getting from this one, small subgroup of human beings?
Their latest reach is into the pockets of low- and modest-income college students who need federal student aid to help cope with today’s ever-escalating education costs. For decades, this financial assistance has come in the form of simple checks written to the students by the aid program or administered directly by the schools. But, of course, such straightforward simplicity begged the obvious question: How can we expect Wall Street bankers to grab a chunk of this student education money if it’s not routed directly through them?
Thus, from deep inside a particularly inventive banker somewhere, the greed gene shouted: “debit cards!” Rather than disbursing the aid by checks, banks get universities to issue debit cards for students to use to withdraw their aid funds electronically. More…
Five Facts That Put America to Shame
by Paul Buchheit
Posted June 2, 2012
We give prison sentences for smoking marijuana, but not for billion-dollar fraud. About half of our world-leading prison population is in jail for non-violent drug offenses. Americans have also been arrested for handing out free food in a park. Mothers in Ohio and Connecticut were jailed for enrolling their kids in out-of-district schools. As of 2003 in California there were 344 individuals serving sentences of 25 years or more for shoplifting as a third offense, in many cases after two non-violent offenses. How does the market deal with this steady tide of petty crime? It strives for more. The new trend of private prisons is dependent on maintaining a sizable prison population to guarantee profits, with no incentive for rehabilitation.
We’ve betrayed the young people who were advised to stay in school. Over 40% of recent college graduates are living with their parents, dealing with government loans that average $27,200. The unemployment rate for young people is about 50%. More than 350,000 Americans with advanced degrees applied for food stamps in 2010.
As Washington lobbyists endeavor to kill a proposed bill to reduce the interest rates on student debt, federal loans remain readily available, and so colleges go right on increasing their tuition. Meanwhile, corporations hold $2 trillion in cash while looking for investments and employees in foreign countries, and American students are forced to accept menial positions. More…
First Super Weeds, Now Super Insects – Thanks to Monsanto
by Dr. J Mercola
Posted June 1, 2012
A new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests. The failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.
Monsanto and the EPA swore that the genetically engineered corn would only harm insects. The Bt-toxin produced inside the plant would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all on consumers, they claimed. Alas, they’ve been proven wrong on that account as well, because not only is Bt corn producing resistant “super-pests,” researchers have also found that the Bt-toxin can indeed wreak havoc on human health.
Bt-Toxin is now found in many people’s blood! More...
How Corporations and Local Governments Rob the Poor Blind
By Barbara Ehrenreich
Posted May 18, 2012
The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators.
Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.
It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell. More..
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