Sunday, July 28, 2013

ANS -- Recognizing the End of the Chinese Economic Miracle

This is a paper sent to me by one of our readers.  It's the "inside view" of China's economy from the viewpoint of a traditional money-focused viewpoint.  It makes my skin crawl-- seeing the world as dollar signs instead of people.  for instance, they say, " Without recessions, inefficiencies develop. Growing the economy is possible, but not growing profitability. Eventually, the economy will be dragged down by its inefficiency."   They are considering periodic recessions as good?!?!  We would like to see an economy whose aim is, not efficiency and maximum profit, but jobs and fair distribution of income and "enough" profit.  Is it possible to get away from "greed is good"? Greed used to be one of "the seven deadly sins" -- now we are seeing how deadly, as it kills the planet we depend on for life....
Find it here:  Sorry, I wasn't sent a source, and it was a Word doc when I got it.  But, you can see who it comes from....

Recognizing the End of the Chinese Economic Miracle

Tuesday, July 23, 2013        By George Friedman

Major shifts underway in the Chinese economy that Stratfor has forecast and discussed for years have now drawn the attention of the mainstream media. Many have asked when China would find itself in an economic crisis, to which we have answered that China has been there for awhile -- something not widely recognized outside China, and particularly not in the United States. A crisis can exist before it is recognized. The admission that a crisis exists is a critical moment, because this is when most others start to change their behavior in reaction to the crisis. The question we had been asking was when the Chinese economic crisis would finally become an accepted fact, thus changing the global dynamic.

Last week, the crisis was announced with a flourish. First, The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-recipient Paul Krugman penned a piece titled "Hitting China's Wall." He wrote, "The signs are now unmistakable: China is in big trouble. We're not talking about some minor setback along the way, but something more fundamental. The country's whole way of doing business, the economic system that has driven three decades of incredible growth, has reached its limits. You could say that the Chinese model is about to hit its Great Wall, and the only question now is just how bad the crash will be."

Later in the week, Ben Levisohn authored a column in Barron's called "Smoke Signals from China." He wrote, "In the classic disaster flick 'The Towering Inferno' partygoers ignored a fire in a storage room because they assumed it has been contained. Are investors making the same mistake with China?" He goes on to answer his question, saying, "Unlike three months ago, when investors were placing big bets that China's policymakers would pump cash into the economy to spur growth, the markets seem to have accepted the fact that sluggish growth for the world's second largest economy is its new normal."

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs -- where in November 2001 Jim O'Neil coined the term BRICs and forecast that China might surpass the United States economically by 2028 -- cut its forecast of Chinese growth to 7.4 percent.

The New York Times, Barron's and Goldman Sachs are all both a seismograph of the conventional wisdom and the creators of the conventional wisdom. Therefore, when all three announce within a few weeks that China's economic condition ranges from disappointing to verging on a crash, it transforms the way people think of China. Now the conversation is moving from forecasts of how quickly China will overtake the United States to considerations of what the consequences of a Chinese crash would be.

Doubting China

Suddenly finding Stratfor amid the conventional wisdom regarding China does feel odd, I must admit. Having first noted the underlying contradictions in China's economic growth years ago, when most viewed China as the miracle Japan wasn't, and having been scorned for not understanding the shift in global power underway, it is gratifying to now have a lot of company. Over the past couple of years, the ranks of the China doubters had grown. But the past few months have seen a sea change. We have gone from China the omnipotent, the belief that there was nothing the Chinese couldn't work out, to the realization that China no longer works.

It has not been working for some time. One of things masking China's weakening has been Chinese statistics, which Krugman referred to as "even more fictional than most." China is a vast country in territory and population. Gathering information on how it is doing would be a daunting task, even were China inclined to do so. Instead, China understands that in the West, there is an assumption that government statistics bear at least a limited relationship to truth. Beijing accordingly uses its numbers to shape perceptions inside and outside China of how it is doing. The Chinese release their annual gross domestic product numbers in the third week of January (and only revise them the following year). They can't possibly know how they did that fast, and they don't. But they do know what they want the world to believe about their growth, and the world has believed them -- hence, the fantastic tales of economic growth.

China in fact has had an extraordinary period of growth. The last 30 years have been remarkable, marred only by the fact that the Chinese started at such a low point due to the policies of the Maoist period. Growth at first was relatively easy; it was hard for China to do worse. But make no mistake: China surged. Still, basing economic performance on consumption, Krugman notes that China is barely larger economically than Japan. Given the compounding effects of China's guesses at GDP, we would guess it remains behind Japan, but how can you tell? We can say without a doubt that China's economy has grown dramatically in the past 30 years but that it is no longer growing nearly as quickly as it once did.

China's growth surge was built on a very unglamorous fact: Chinese wages were far below Western wages, and therefore the Chinese were able to produce a certain class of products at lower cost than possible in the West. The Chinese built businesses around this, and Western companies built factories in China to take advantage of the differential. Since Chinese workers were unable to purchase many of the products they produced given their wages, China built its growth on exports.

For this to continue, China had to maintain its wage differential indefinitely. But China had another essential policy: Beijing was terrified of unemployment and the social consequences that flow from it. This was a rational fear, but one that contradicted China's main strength, its wage advantage. Because the Chinese feared unemployment, Chinese policy, manifested in bank lending policies, stressed preventing unemployment by keeping businesses going even when they were inefficient. China also used bank lending to build massive infrastructure and commercial and residential property. Over time, this policy created huge inefficiencies in the Chinese economy. Without recessions, inefficiencies develop. Growing the economy is possible, but not growing profitability. Eventually, the economy will be dragged down by its inefficiency.

Inflation vs. Unemployment

As businesses become inefficient, production costs rise. And that leads to inflation. As money is lent to keep inefficient businesses going, inflation increases even more markedly. The increase in inefficiency is compounded by the growth of the money supply prompted by aggressive lending to keep the economy going. As this persisted over many years, the inefficiencies built into the Chinese economy have become staggering.

The second thing to bear in mind is the overwhelming poverty of China, where 900 million people have an annual per capita income around the same level as Guatemala, Georgia, Indonesia or Mongolia ($3,000-$3,500 a year), while around 500 million of those have an annual per capita income around the same level as India, Nicaragua, Ghana, Uzbekistan or Nigeria ($1,500-$1,700). China's overall per capita GDP is around the same level as the Dominican Republic, Serbia, Thailand or Jamaica. Stimulating an economy where more than a billion people live in deep poverty is impossible. Economic stimulus makes sense when products can be sold to the public. But the vast majority of Chinese cannot afford the products produced in China, and therefore, stimulus will not increase consumption of those products. As important, stimulating demand so that inefficient factories can sell products is not only inflationary, it is suicidal. The task is to increase consumption, not to subsidize inefficiency.

The Chinese are thus in a trap. If they continue aggressive lending to failing businesses, they get inflation. That increases costs and makes the Chinese less competitive in exports, which are also falling due to the recession in Europe and weakness in the United States. Allowing businesses to fail brings unemployment, a massive social and political problem. The Chinese have zigzagged from cracking down on lending by regulating informal lending and raising interbank rates to loosening restrictions on lending by removing the floor on the benchmark lending rate and by increasing lending to small- and medium-sized businesses. Both policies are problematic.

The Chinese have maintained a strategy of depending on exports without taking into account the operation of the business cycle in the West, which means that periodic and substantial contractions of demand will occur. China's industrial plant is geared to Western demand. When Western demand contracted, the result was the mess you see now.

The Chinese economy could perhaps be growing at 7.4 percent, but I doubt the number is anywhere near that. Some estimates place growth at closer to 5 percent. Regardless of growth, the ability to maintain profit margins is rarely considered. Producing and selling at or even below cost will boost GDP numbers but undermines the financial system. This happened to Japan in the early 1990s. And it is happening in China now.

The Chinese can prevent the kind of crash that struck East Asia in 1997. Their currency isn't convertible, so there can't be a run on it. They continue to have a command economy; they are still communist, after all. But they cannot avoid the consequences of their economic reality, and the longer they put off the day of reckoning, the harder it will become to recover from it. They have already postponed the reckoning far longer than they should have. They would postpone it further if they could by continuing to support failing businesses with loans. They can do that for a very long time -- provided they are prepared to emulate the Soviet model's demise. The Chinese don't want that, but what they do want is a miraculous resolution to their problem. There are no solutions that don't involve agony, so they put off the day of reckoning and slowly decline.

China's Transformation

The Chinese are not going to completely collapse economically any more than the Japanese or South Koreans did. What will happen is that China will behave differently than before. With no choices that don't frighten them, the Chinese will focus on containing the social and political fallout, both by trying to target benefits to politically sensitive groups and by using their excellent security apparatus to suppress and deter unrest. The Chinese economic performance will degrade, but crisis will be avoided and political interests protected. Since much of China never benefited from the boom, there is a massive force that has felt marginalized and victimized by coastal elites. That is not a bad foundation for the Communist Party to rely on.

The key is understanding that if China cannot solve its problems without unacceptable political consequences, it will try to stretch out the decline. Japan had a lost decade only in the minds of Western investors, who implicitly value aggregate GDP growth over other measures of success such as per capita GDP growth or full employment. China could very well face an extended period of intense inwardness and low economic performance. The past 30 years is a tough act to follow.

The obvious economic impact on the rest of the world will fall on the producers of industrial commodities such as iron ore. The extravagant expectations for Chinese growth will not be met, and therefore expectations for commodity prices won't be met. Since the Chinese economic failure has been underway for quite awhile, the degradation in prices has already happened. Australia in particular has been badly hit by the Chinese situation, just as it was by the Japanese situation a generation ago.

The Chinese are, of course, keeping a great deal of money in U.S. government instruments and other markets. Contrary to fears, that money will not be withdrawn. The Chinese problem isn't a lack of capital, and repatriating that money would simply increase inflation. Had the Chinese been able to put that money to good use, it would have never been invested in the United States in the first place. The outflow of money from China was a symptom of the disease: Lacking the structure to invest in China, the government and private funds went overseas. In so doing, Beijing sought to limit destabilization in China, while private Chinese funds looked for a haven against the storm that was already blowing.

Rather than the feared repatriation of funds, the United States will continue to be the target of major Chinese cash inflows. In a world where Europe is still reeling, only the United States is both secure and large enough to contain Chinese appetites for safety. Just as Japanese investment in the 1990s represented capital flight rather than a healthy investment appetite, so the behavior we have seen from Chinese investors in recent years is capital flight: money searching for secure havens regardless of return. This money has underpinned American markets; it is not going away, and in fact more is on the way.

The major shift in the international order will be the decline of China's role in the region. China's ability to project military power in Asia has been substantially overestimated. Its geography limits its ability to project power in Eurasia, an endeavor that would require logistics far beyond China's capacity. Its naval capacity is still limited compared with the United States. The idea that it will compensate for internal economic problems by genuine (as opposed to rhetorical) military action is therefore unlikely. China has a genuine internal security problem that will suck the military, which remains a domestic security force, into actions of little value. In our view, the most important shift will be the re-emergence of Japan as the dominant economic and political power in East Asia in a slow process neither will really want.

China will continue to be a major power, and it will continue to matter a great deal economically. Being troubled is not the same as ceasing to exist. China will always exist. It will, however, no longer be the low-wage, high-growth center of the world. Like Japan before it, it will play a different role.

In the global system, there are always low-wage, high-growth countries because the advanced industrial powers' consumers want to absorb goods at low wages. Becoming a supplier of those goods is a major opportunity for, and disruptor to, those countries. No one country can replace China, but China will be replaced. The next step in this process is identifying China's successors.

Read more: Recognizing the End of the Chinese Economic Miracle | Stratfor
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

ANS -- How Successful Cooperative Economic Models Can Work Wonderfully… Somewhere Else

Here is another, shorter, article on the economy.  There is an alternative to cutthroat capitalism.  Capitalism has reached the level of a religion in America -- and, as such, people worship it even when it no longer produces positive results.
Find it here:     

AlterNet / By Frank Joyce
comments_image   26 COMMENTS

How Successful Cooperative Economic Models Can Work Wonderfully… Somewhere Else

Capitalism rests on a foundation of myths, the first of which is that there is no alternative.
July 23, 2013 |  

Years ago food critic Ruth Reichl declared, "There is no bad food in Italy." She was right. Within Italy, the Emilia Romagna region is thought by many to offer the best food of all.

But that is by no means its only distinction. What I did not appreciate until a recent trip to Bologna, is that major components of the entire economy are organized as co-ops. That includes global market manufacturing businesses, facilities management, social services, transportation, food and wine production,  banking and other financial services and food sales from small markets to nationwide supermarkets and hypermarkets (similar to Meijer).

Capitalism rests on a foundation of myths. One of them is that capitalism somehow "invented" entrepreneurship. Another is that capitalism provides the only "market" economy. Then there is the self-proclaimed virtue of capitalism that only capitalism is compatible with "self-reliance" and individual responsibility. (The reality of course is that most people are utterly dependent on capitalists for jobs,  financing, education,  transportation, health care, shelter and just about everything else.) Capitalism also presents itself as the model of "efficiency," when in truth it generates enormous waste of all kinds.

Finally, the biggest whopper of all is that There Is No Alternative. All of this is nonsense. The economy of  the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and its largest city, Bologna, is living proof.

Even though Emilia Romagna has a "leftist" history, co-ops did not arise as an "anti-capitalist" phenomenon. Many of the largest and most successful co-ops trace their origins back to the 19th century.  Understanding that markets­a place where buyers and sellers meet­were in existence for thousands of years before capitalism privatized ownership of the means of production, co-ops offer a different way of organizing economic activity.

Production co-ops empower workers to create products and services. The manufacturers of Emilia Romagna make industrial machines, ceramic tile and many other products. They are multi-billion-dollar businesses that compete successfully in the global market. Likewise Manutencoop, from its art-filled and architecturally spectacular headquarters in Bologna, coordinates facilities management (janitorial,  security, building maintenance etc.) for schools, hospitals and shopping malls throughout Italy.

Many co-ops contract with the government to provide various services. While this is similar to "outsourcing" as we would describe it in the US, the result is very different because the intent is not to drive down the wages, benefits and working conditions of those doing the work.

Co-ops can also offer innovative solutions to social and government problems. A co-op in Rome composed entirely of ex-offenders offers waste management services to private sector and government clients. (I learned in Italy that returning citizens in Springfield, Massachusetts who have upholstery skills are in the process of setting up a co-op to organize and market their services.)

While comparable in scope and economic impact to for-profit businesses, co-ops are fundamentally different from them. Their values and economic relationships between managers, workers and communities are not driven by the obligation to deliver enormous wealth to top managers and distant shareholders. While many of the larger co-ops have employees in the traditional sense, as well as members who are the owners of the business, they all share common facilities such as cafeterias. Managers are strictly limited in how much more they can make than workers.

Of course co-ops face their own challenges in competing within a dominant capitalist global economy. Challenges of governance,  especially of large co-ops, innovation and theoretical development are actively under discussion. Without exception, however,  every co-op member, manager or employee we met emphasized the importance of the common good. In Italy, co-ops are seen as kind of second or third economy. They are strongly supported in Italian law in part because they provide a check on and a balance to the built-in excesses of cutthroat for-profit businesses.

As Detroit citizens struggle to invent a new economy to replace dysfunctional capitalism, co-ops are worth considering for two reasons. First and foremost as new technology makescommunity production of goods, services and food easier, co-ops are a good way to organize those economic activities. Second, co-ops demonstrate that There Is An Alternative

ANS -- After We Stop the Machine, How Do We Create a New World?

Here is an article with some ideas of what's really happening, on the positive side, with the world, finance, and Occupy.  I am excited about the Occupy Money Card -- banking in a card.  I wish we could go to the Economic Democracy Conference.....
I've been feeling a new positive something in the air.  I think we may be near the tipping point....
Find it here:    

AlteNet / By Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers
comments_image   15 COMMENTS

After We Stop the Machine, How Do We Create a New World?

Countless numbers of us are building the world we want every day.
July 26, 2013 |  

A simplified explanation of the strategy to transform our society from a greedy plutocracy to a cooperative democracy, from our destructive path to a sustainable future, is that there are two simultaneous tracks: protest what we do not like and build what we want.  We call this "Stop the Machine, Create a New World."

This weekly report usually focuses on the protest part of the resistance movement, but this week we will focus more on the people who are working to create the world we want to see. It is not that there are no protest actions to report on. There continues to be a lot going on. Some examples from the last week among many that you will find at, include:

- Updates on Edward Snowden including his attempt to leave the Moscow airport, which may have been blocked by Secretary of State John Kerry. Also, how Snowden is driving the US security state insane and was recognized as an "American who tells the truth." Related, we highlighted a propagandistic attack on Glenn Greenwald on a progressive website.

- NSA spying updates including how Obama and Democrats teamed with Republicans to block efforts to stop NSA dragnet searches of Americans, as well as citywide surveillance in Oakland which may become a national model. Also a victory in New Jersey where the Supreme Court now requires warrants to track people using their cell phones.

- A successful challenge to TSA searches at airports by a young man who stripped down to his underwear and wrote the Fourth Amendment on his chest.

- Updates on Bradley Manning, who won a peace prize this week, as closing arguments began on Thursday after an unusual re-opening of the prosecutor's case.  International protests are planned for the 27th and a protest in DC on the 26th. On Thursday, a full-page ad ran in the New York Times saying " We are all Bradley Manning."

- Trayvon Martin updates which include nationwide rallies and a " walk for dignity", a long-term occupation of Gov. Rick Scott's office where protesters met with the governor about the Stand Your Ground law and Cornel West's response to Barack Obama as well as related protests against police and urban violence.

- The escalation of environmental protests include Earth First!'s call to block supply lines for radical energy sources from tar sands, hydrofracking and mountaintop removal, and reports on plans to party along the entire KXL pipeline route, FBI surveillance of enviro-activists in Seattle, and a hydrofracking victory in Pennsylvania.

- Ongoing efforts to close Guantanamo include protests at the first hearing in four years in which the Obama administration refused to participate; solidarity hunger strikers calling for people to come to DC on July 30th; and a potential victory with parole-like hearings finally beginning at Guantanamo.

- Actions by low-wage workers including domestic workers, Google security guards, Walmart workers, baseball concession workers and truckers.

- Immigration protests including immigrants facing deportation who went back to Mexico then returned to the US as a protest, and " education, not deportation" rallies.

It was a busy week. The under-reported revolts against the corrupt economy and dysfunctional government continue and grow.

Building the World We Want

An important component of resistance is building systems based upon our desired values and principles to replace the current dysfunctional systems. This is a powerful and positive way for communities to work together to solve local problems and meet their basic needs. People around the world are engaged in this constructive resistance. We will share some of the most recent efforts to build the world we want.

We are inspired by the human potential to create, even in dire economic circumstances, illustrated by this story of children from a slum dwelling in Paraguay.  Out of the trash in the landfill their community is built upon, they created the "Landfill Harmonic Orchestra." This amazing video tells their story. There is no question that part of building the world we want to see includes music, arts and culture.

Of course, at the root of many problems in the United States is the economy. We are experiencing in the US what our government has forced onto poorer nations for decades, the accelerated selling off of our resources and privatization of government services. This, combined with de-funding of public institutions, is creating greater wealth for a few while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet.

The looting class believes that there is no threat of democracy breaking out when people are poor and focused on meeting their basic needs. But economic democracy is quietly expanding throughout the United States. We are two of the organizers of the Economic Democracy Conference which is part of the Democracy Convention being held in Madison, WI beginning this August 7.

Two years ago when we organized a similar conference, economic democracy was beginning to take root in the U.S. Since then, the movement has grown rapidly, under the radar of the corporate media. One-third of the US public is now a member of some type of cooperative, including credit unions.

This year the Economic Democracy Conference will include 15 sessions. Some will focus on big picture topics such as what the new economy looks like and discussions of money and debt, while others will focus on the building blocks of the new economy, cooperatives, complementary currencies, public banks, affordable housing, local investment networks and other ways to finance local businesses and transitioning to municipal renewable energy. (You can register here.)

This week, there were a number of economic democracy projects in the news. In Seattle a group, Community Sourced Capital, formed to help people invest in their local community. We know the value of shopping locally, now people are figuring out ways to invest locally to build their communities and avoid Wall Street.

Also, some members of the Occupy movement are launching the Occupy Money Cooperative. Their first product will be the Occupy Money Card, a pre-paid debit card without the costs of a regular bank account which they describe as a "bank on a card." Forbes took notice of the Money Cooperative, finding it ironic that Occupy would set up a bank. We see it as just the opposite. More alternatives to Wall Street banks are needed and this is one of many models being developed.

Another alternative was announced in England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is telling the leading payday loan service, which charges 1% a day for loans, that the Church of England is going to put them out of business by starting its own credit union and working with non-profit loan agencies to provide less expensive loan services.

In Minneapolis, people have solved one of the big problems caused by the Wall Street banks: the housing crisis. They created an " eviction free zone," as the world they want to see does not include throwing families onto the street. Their tactics include pressuring banks, blocking evictions (as with this example), occupying foreclosed homes and refurbishing homes. This kind of mutual support and local solidarity also builds community. The city of Richmond, CA became the first to use its power of eminent domain to seize underwater homes facing foreclosure and return them to the homeowners with reduced mortgage payments.

And, an innovative approach to transit that began in Rochester, NY has now moved to Detroit. The approach seeks to expand public transit without increasing fares or taxes by improving the "transit experience," rewarding drivers for performance and partnering with schools, hospitals and housing developments to supplement funding.

Strike Debt Bay Area is working to reverse the privatization of public services – in this case, the US Postal Service. Their approach is education, including a teach-in on privatization tactics used by the 1%, the dangers of privatization to individuals and public institutions, and the threats to civil liberties posed by the privatization of the United States Postal Service. Others are focused on ways the Postal Service can expand and provide new services.

A lot of excellent work is being done to preserve water and healthy food. People are taking effective steps to stop corporations like Monsanto. This November there will be a vote in Washington State requiring labeling of GMO foods. If it succeeds, and it is leading right now, it could spur a national change that will allow people to finally know whether a product contains GMOs or not. On a related front, people are fighting for their right to buy directly from farmers, despite regulators' efforts to curtail the practice. And many individuals and municipalities are using a variety of techniques to preserve water and use it more efficiently.

Progress is being made in the transition to a green energy economy. There are now 46 countries that are getting 60 percent of their electricity from renewable, clean energy sources. Research shows the US could achieve a renewable energy economy by 2050 at the latest. Last year, despite the hype around hydrofracking for methane gas, the fastest growing source of new energy was wind, making up 42% of new electricity. A study this week pointed to the benefits of targeting renewable energy in areas dependent on coal or where it could produce the most environmental and health benefits.

As more Americans are joining efforts to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its Atlantic trade cousin through groups like Flush The TPP, a new creative approach to trade came up this week that others may want to emulate. The Fair Deal Coalition concerned with our digital future, has launched an open source "negotiation" of trade designed to give people what they want. They seek to openly involve people and businesses in developing the future, rather than the secret approach of the Obama administration.

The media is a major battleground for our future. The corporate media which dominates the traditional mass media, is losing viewers, readers and money while an independent and citizen's media is growing. One reason we launched Popular Reisistance was to report on something the corporate media avoids – the movement for transformation of the country through resistance. We worked with AlterNet to bring this weekly news summary to a wider audience. And, each Wednesday, we go in-depth on issues in Truthout that we first discuss on our radio/video show Clearing the FOG. Now, we are teaming up with video maker Dennis Trainor, Jr. to assist his production of a weekly half hour television program showing the actions of the movement. (You can help by assisting in crowd-funding this project.)

This is just a brief review of what is occurring to build the new world we want. Much more is happening. In How to Design the World for Happiness, many more examples are described. Jay Walljasper writes in the introduction:

"We recognized it was up to us to make the neighborhood safer, cleaner, more inclusive, interesting, and enjoyable.… Experiencing firsthand the collaborative capacity of everyday people to shape their own community has influenced me deeply as a writer, speaker, and consultant…. The articles gathered here explore the wide horizons of what's possible in communities everywhere."

While there is a lot we can do as individuals, there is even more we can do when we build community and when we build on the experiences of others. The world we want to see is literally being built every day by uncounted numbers of us. There is no need to wait, the future is ours if we make it.

This article is produced by in conjunction with AlterNet. It is based on's weekly newsletter reviewing the activities of the resistance movement.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are cohosts of Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC. They also codirect Its Our Economy and are organizers of the

Thursday, July 25, 2013

ANS -- An Ominous Alliance: Militiamen Showing Up in Wisconsin as Mining Co. 'Security'

This is scary.  I guess we never got over the Old West and gunfights.... there's a video on the site, so follow the link....
find it here:   

An Ominous Alliance: Militiamen Showing Up in Wisconsin as Mining Co. 'Security'

Imagine taking a hike in your local woods and coming upon characters toting semi-automatic weapons, dressed in camo and wearing masks. Then imagine finding out they are militia-movement followers hired by a mining operation to protect against "eco-terrorists."

That's what's been happening to people living in northern Wisconsin lately. And these are the kinds of guys people are encountering in the woods:


The first of these goons to show up on behalf of the Florida-based mining company -- Gogebic Taconite, or GTAC -- that wants to rip these woods apart were employed by an outfit from Arizona called Bulletproof Securities. Then they quickly vamoosed when it emerged that they were not licensed to operate in the state of Wisconsin.

In short order, a new set of goons appeared as security for GTAC's President, Bill Williams, in his recent appearances in Wisconsin. And these men were wearing the logos of a Patriot/militia organization called the Watchmen of America -- though true to the "leaderless resistance" model of action these "Patriots" espouse, the Watchmen's organizational leaders are denying any involvement, while in effect conceding that members may be operating in Wisconsin without their approval.

Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones has been on the scene and monitoring these developments:

Local activist Rob Ganson, 56, first came upon three heavily armed guards while leading a small group on a hike to view the mining site. (The drilling site is on private land, but the owner has been given a tax break in exchange for keeping it open to public use.) The guards, said Ganson, carried semi-automatic guns, were dressed in camouflage, and wore masks covering their faces. "As you can imagine, it was quite a shock for five middle-aged people out for a walk," he said. Ganson tried to engage the guards, but was "met with stony-faced silence." He was alarmed but managed to grab a few photos of the men. "I was thinking if the worst scenario happened, at least there would be photos on my camera."

After they determined that the guards worked for Arizona-based Bulletproof Security, Ganson and the other activists posted their photos of the guards online, drawing local and national news coverage of the mine, a proposed four-mile-long, 1,000-feet-deep open pit operation in Ashland and Iron counties. In June, the company began exploratory drilling in the region for taconite, a type of iron ore used in steel.

... Last Wednesday, the mining company, Gogebic Taconite­G-Tac for short­a subsidiary of the West Virginia-based Cline Group, pulled the armed guards after finding that the security firm lacked permits to work in the state. A spokesman for the company has said that the Bulletproof guards will be back once they're properly licensed.
"Basically almost every environmental protection and public health protection you could think of is eliminated under this bill."

One of the activists in the area, however, told Mother Jones on Monday that a new group of armed guards­including one whose shirt bore the insignia for Watchmen of America, a militia group active in at least 21 states­was on patrol last Thursday, the day after Gogebic Taconite pulled the Bulletproof guards.

This was followed shortly by heated denials from the Watchmen:

On Tuesday, Mike Freebyrd, CEO of Watchmen of America, told Mother Jones that the new guards are not working for his organization. "The Watchmen of America is not a security company that provides commercial security services and we are not involved in any way in the security operations with respect to GTAC mining operation in Wisconsin, nor do we sanction or approve of any of our members doing so while wearing our patches or logos," said Freebyrd via email. "We sell many promotional materials including T-shirts, stickers, patches, pens, etc. to our public supporters, therefore we have no control if a person wears our logos while conducting activities which are not conducive to our true representation."

These denials are not particularly meaningful. After all, the Patriot/militia movement has been characterized by a "leaderless resistance" strategy that encourages individual "lone wolf" and small-cell action in which organizational leaders can plausibly deny responsibility and thus avoid any consequences for the actions of followers and colleagues.

As Mary Catherine O'Connor at Outside reports, this is all taking place in a context where the mining officials are labeling local protesters "eco terrorists" and using the flimsiest of pretexts to bring in militia-style thugs to intimidate the locals.

Let's hope Americans remember that in Italy and Germany, fascists first gained political traction and moved out of the fringe of politics in the 1920s when they were hired by large landowners and businessmen as thugs to beat up and harass union organizers and land reformers, all under the rubric of calling them "communists". This is an ominous development indeed.

Here's more from local TV station WDIO (source of the above video).

The Arizona Republic has a brief rundown of Bulletproof, the Scottsdale outfit that showed up with the masked guard unit and then fled.

Also, Blogging Blue and Blue Cheddar have more. And a bit hat tip to Indian Country News.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

Posted by David Neiwert at 8:43 PM 0 Comments and 0 Reactions
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ANS -- 12 States Lead the Way On Solar

Here's that state of what's happening in solar in the States.  If the chart doesn't come through (my ancient computer...), go have a look at it on the webpage.
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12 States Lead the Way On Solar News

Home to just 28% of the population, 12 states account for 85% of all solar capacity in the US, reports Environment America.

In terms of solar capacity per capita, the top states are: Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, Delaware, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Maryland.

"The progress of these states should give us the confidence that we can do much more. Being a leader in pollution-free solar energy means setting big goals and backing them up with good policies," says said Rob Sargent, energy program director with Environment America.

It not availability of sunlight that sets these states apart, it's  the degree to which state and local governments have created effective public policy that's resulted in strong take-up of solar.

Solar Top States 2013  

Here's a summary of what these states are doing right:
  • 11 have strong net metering laws that allow customers to lower electric bills by sending solar to the gird, receiving reliable and fair compensation for their excess electricity;
  • 11 have Renewable Portfolio Standards that require utilities to source a percentage of power from renewable sources;
  • 9 include specific targets for solar as part of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, known as a " solar carve-out."  
  • 10 have strong statewide interconnection policies that make it easy for solar to get hooked up to the grid; 
  • Most encourage various financing options to make solar installations affordable, such as Solar leases and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, which allow the cost to be paid back slowly as part of real estate taxes.

These states benefit from having to install fewer transmission lines and from more of the power generated being delivered to the grid, rather than being wasted. Since solar excels most at producing energy during peak demand times, they also benefit from fewer blackouts during the summer.  

Based on what's working for the "Dazzling Dozen," Environment America urges the federal government to continue key tax credits for solar - such as the Investment Tax Credit - to encourage responsible development of prime solar resources on public lands, and to support research, development and deployment efforts that reduce installation costs and make grid interconnection easier.

�Right now, only a small fraction of our energy comes from solar,� says Sargent. �By setting a bold goal of getting 10% of our energy from the sun by 2030 and adopting strong policies to support that goal, the US can follow in the footsteps of the 12 top solar states and put us on track to becoming a global leader in solar power.�

The US just passed the threshold to 10 GW of solar, powering about 2.4 million homes (equal to the output of about 6 nuclear plants). 

Unfortunately, some of these key policies are under widespread attack with utilities going after net-metering and ALEC and other conservative groups going after Renewable Portfolio Standards.

Read our article, 10 Significant State Policies for Distributed Solar Energy.

Read Environment America's report, "Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America's Top 12 Solar States":


Tuesday, July 23, 2013


This is what the right wing is saying about what's making the middle class disappear.  As near as I can tell, none of it is true or accurate.  What do you think?  I think -- what does a lawyer know about the economy?   It's pretty short.
This was sent to me by a right wing, fundamentalist friend. 
Find it here:  




By Attorney Jack Swift, JD
July 19, 2013

It is a matter of regular note in the Main Stream Media (MSM) that the so-called "middle class" is shrinking and disappearing. The rich are getting very much richer and the ranks of the poverty-ridden are swelling which should tell one where the middle class is headed. Also, in the MSM, the reason is always a mystery. This is because sensitivities for political correctness will not allow the MSM to critically appraise certain sacred cows. The culprit killing the middle class is inflation. And inflation is the direct result of two very sacrosanct governmental cows.

In economics, wealth is defined as the capacity to acquire things and services. Money, in turn, is the vehicle by which we transfer wealth. Accordingly, the value of money is a matter of critical concern to the general public which is why the founders conferred upon the Congress the duty to regulate the production of money. Unfortunately, Congress has made a mess of that which is why we have a disappearing middle class.

Money, is a commodity much like everything else. It is the fuel of barter and exchange. Like all commodities it is subject to the law of supply and demand: the more there is of it, the less the value of the individual unit or piece.

To regulate the supply of money, Congress has engaged the Federal Reserve System which is sacred cow number one in our inquiry. The Federal Reserve, in turn, is committed to creating a 2% inflation in the money supply each and every year. If the demand for money remains equal, a 2% increase in the supply must translate to a 2% decrease in its value. Just based on its fundamental policy, the Fed must necessarily destroy the purchasing power of money. The Fed is committed to devaluing our money. Why would Congress tolerate such a policy in view of its Constitutional mandate? Because Congress borrows money on a long term basis. Doing so in combination with intentional devaluation allows Congress to borrow good money today and pay it back with devalued money over ten, twenty and thirty years. So what's wrong with that?

When the Fed or the government chooses to issue a bunch of new money into the market, it is indistinguishable from the money that is already in circulation. Those who receive it first - typically the member banks of the Federal Reserve and their owners - enjoy full value. It is only when the money begins to move through the economy that supply and demand reacts with devaluation. Those who receive it last get devalued currency. What is worse, the money they happen to already have is also devalued proportionately. Think this might tend to make the rich richer and the poor poorer? Unfortunately, that is but one end of the attack.

The second sacred cow is the war on poverty and its primary weapon of choice: food stamps. It has been said that "Helicopter Ben" at the Fed could fly around the country in a helicopter throwing new money out the window and thereby make everybody rich. Of course, that would likely induce hyperinflation once everyone knew what he was doing. On the other hand, Congress could do the same thing and get away with it for a time if they would simply change the name.

Congress gives away billions of food stamps every month to the poverty stricken. What are food stamps but an alternative currency? The recipient utilizes them to acquire goods and services. In result, they are nothing more than another inflationary injection into the currency of the market. Wonder why the cost of food keeps going up while Bernanke tells us there is no inflation?

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Again, noting the rule that the first recipients of inflationary money enjoy full value, it follows that the poor do not find themselves shorted, and of course, they, by definition, have no other money to be devalued.

Who is left to suffer the loss of their devalued money and what wealth they might enjoy?

Not the rich. Not the poor. The disappearing middle class is purely and simply the result of Congressional monetary policy and short of a balanced budget amendment, I don't see what anyone can do about it.

© 2013 Jack Swift - All Rights Reserved

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Jack Swift is an retired attorney. Actively involved in the Republican Party and local politics, Jack would love to see honest Constitution following representatives in local Josephine County government. Jack believes if we are to save America from the grip of evil, people must get involved on the local level and expose wrongdoers at every opportunity. He is putting that belief in practice.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

ANS -- An Odd Thought: Thorium Reactors Would Make Tantalum And Rare Earths Cheaper

Here's a short article about a side effect of using thorium for nuclear reactors instead of uranium or plutonium. (thorium is a "cleaner nuclear").
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An Odd Thought: Thorium Reactors Would Make Tantalum And Rare Earths Cheaper

[] [] [] [] []
14 comments, 5 called-out

A new reactor design has been announced, a molten salt one. In the discussions about it here the subject of thorium reactors comes up. And thorium reactors are indeed a very good idea and they do work. But it occurs to me that one of the effects of the adoption of thorium technology would be to make a series of other metals, like tantalum and the rare earths, rather cheaper.
Apologies, this is a little complex and comes from putting two plus two together as a result of something I'm doing in the day job at present.

When you go prospecting for minerals there are, of course, a number of elements that increase the value of whatever it is that you've found. Bits of gold add value to almost anything, high indium values increase the worth of zinc ore and so on. But there are also elements which reduce the value of what you find. And one of the biggest bugbears for the mining industry is thorium.

The problem being that it's not really used for anything. The total US annual consumption is about $400,000 worth a year for example. Maybe 4 tonnes or so. Worse, a lot of that value isn't actually in the metal at all: it's in the cost of the paperwork to move radioactive materials around. The one and only time I've ever shipped thorium to someone the metal itself was given to me for free: the $27,000 paid on getting the paperwork done was the real cost of the transaction.

So, if you find that you've got a reasonable looking tantalum containing mineral (like the euxenite I've currently got in the lab, or the fergusonite containing niobium) the first thing that you do is check the thorium levels in it. It will have some: but what you want to know is how much? For if the Th level is too high then the actual value of that mineral is negative. Yes, certainly, the tantalum (or niobium, or rare earths from monazite say) can all be extracted and that's fairly simple. But you've then got left over this thorium. A little bit, a tiny bit, that's not a problem. But if the Th levels in your wastes start to climb over about 0.5%, then you've got a problem. You've now got to dispose of this radioactive waste into a special facility. This is an expensive thing to do. And it can be more expensive than the value of any tantalum or rare earths that you're able to extract.

However, if thorium power stations ever started to be used then there would be an end market for that thorium. Even if you gave it to the nuclear guys that would still be vastly cheaper than trying to dispose of it or store it. Which leads to this slightly odd conclusion.

If we did start to use the thorium nuclear cycle in reactors one group of beneficiaries would be those who use tantalum, niobium, rare earths and so on. For it would open up the possibility of processing thorium heavy ores of those metals. Quite bizarrely thorium reactors would make electronics like smartphones a little bit cheaper.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

ANS -- Zimmerman trial: Man carrying loaded handgun shoots and kills unarmed teen

Here's a good summary of why I am disappointed with the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case.  It's short.  It describes why GZ was responsible for TM's death.  He should have been held responsible for the death. 
Find it here:    


Zimmerman trial: Man carrying loaded handgun shoots and kills unarmed teen



I am troubled with what I perceive to be the failure to focus on the obvious in the death of the teenage boy in the trial of George Zimmerman.

Perhaps I have a vantage point because I have teenage boys. I think of how our sons would react if they were being chased and pursued by a stranger at night. I have no doubt that if our sons felt that the man was trying to hurt them and they could not flee, that they would confront the man, and, if they felt threatened, fight in self-defense. I think the teenager in the Zimmerman case was doing the same.

I am not a proponent that the evidence demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman maliciously pursued and attacked the teen, Trayvon Martin, because he was black. That should be irrelevant to the legal case.

But, I am saddened to say that if the teen had been white I doubt anyone would seriously consider that a man carrying a loaded handgun could be innocent of killing with that gun a white teen armed only with Skittles candy. But, because the teenage boy was black, the defense has sought to create a plausible scenario of self-defense sufficient to argue reasonable doubt, without mentioning anyone�s race. In other words, the self-defense defense might work because the teen was black.

Let�s examine the undisputed evidence:

1. The man thought the teen looked suspicious.

2. The man called the police to report his suspicions about the teen.

3. The man was told by the police not to chase and pursue the teen.

4. The man decided to chase and pursue the teen anyway.

5 . The man was carrying a loaded gun.

6. The teen was not carrying a gun.

7. The teen was not carrying any weapon.

8. The teen was carrying candy.

9. The teen was not committing any crime.

10. The teen was not trespassing, as he was walking toward his father�s condo.

11. The man and the teen met in a physical confrontation.

12. The man and the teen fought, wrestled to the ground, and punches were exchanged.

13. The man shot the teen with his gun.

14. The man shot the teen while both were on the ground.

15. The shot from the man�s gun killed the teen.

16. There is no evidence that the teen was committing a crime or about to commit any crime.

17. But for the man chasing and pursuing the teen, there would have been no physical confrontation.

18. But for the physical confrontation, there would have been no fight.

19. But for the fight, the man would not have shot the teen.

20. But for the shot, the teen would be alive.

The man�s actions created a course of conduct that led to a dangerous situation: the physical confrontation and the fight. The dangerous situation subjected the man and the teen to the risk of death or injury, as the man was carrying a loaded gun.

Manslaughter is defined as: �The killing of a human being by the . . . culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification . . . �

Does the evidence support a finding of guilty of manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt?

I believe it does. But for the man�s negligence in carrying a loaded gun and chasing and pursuing the teen, after being told not to by the police, there would have been no physical confrontation and the teen would be alive.

No reasonably careful person would do what the man did, and that should be obvious to everyone.

And, that is without considering anyone�s race.

Roberto �Bob� Martinez is an attorney in Miami and former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Read more here:

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

ANS -- How I Discovered Gender Discrimination

Read this.  It's about gender discrimination.   Wow! is all I can say. 
Find it here:  

What Would King Leonidas Do?

July 09, 2013
42 notes

How I Discovered Gender Discrimination

It was the late �90s and I was at an interesting phase of my career. For the first time in my life I possessed relevant qualifications, experience and could also show a successful track record in my chosen career path. I had the job seeker�s trifecta. It was also summer and my current employer was pissing me off with their penny-pinching ways, so after three years of ball busting effort I decided a break and a job change was in order. Displaying characteristic overconfidence in myself I quit my job (without burning any bridges) and set about applying for others.

I was experienced in managing technical & trade supply businesses. I also had engineering experience and sales experience and had demonstrably excelled every sales and profit target I had ever been given. I started applying for roles that would stretch me and lift my career up a notch. There were plenty of opportunities around and I usually had a few applications on the go at any one time. I was an experienced guy in an experienced guy�s world, this wouldn�t be hard.

Then the rejection letters trickled in. I could take rejection, it goes hand in hand with business, but after the first few months I was frankly confused. I hadn�t had a single interview. Instead of aiming high I lowered my sights and started applying for jobs where there was no career advancement. Now I had everything these employers could possibly want, it would be a shoe in. But still not one interview came my way, not even a phone inquiry.

Somewhere after the four month mark my confidence was starting to take a hit. The people rejecting me were business people too, how could my reasoning that I was perfect for these jobs be so different to theirs? Putting on my most serious business head I went back and scoured my CV. It was the only contact any of my potential employers or their recruitment companies had had with me. My CV was THE common denominator and if something was wrong it MUST be there.

I had fortunately seen a number of CVs in my time. I was happy with the choice of style and layout, and the balance of detail versus brevity. I was particularly pleased with the decision I made to brand it with my name with just enough bold positioning to make it instantly recognisable, and as I sat scouring every detail of that CV a horrible truth slowly dawned on me. My name.

My first name is Kim. Technically its gender neutral but my experience showed that most people�s default setting in the absence of any other clues is to assume Kim is a women�s name. And nothing else on my CV identified me as male. At first I thought I was being a little paranoid but engineering, trades, sales and management were all definitely male dominated industries. So I pictured all the managers I had over the years and, forming an amalgam of them in my mind, I read through the document as I imagined they would have. It was like being hit on the head with a big sheet of unbreakable glass ceiling.

My choice to brand the CV with a bold positioning of my name actually seemed to scream that I was a woman. I could easily imagine many of the people I had worked for discarding the document without even reading further. If they did read further the next thing they saw (as politeness declared at the time) was a little personal information, and that declared I was married with kids. I had put this in because I knew many employers would see it as showing stability, but when I viewed it through the skewed view of middle aged men who thought I was a woman, I could see it was just further damning my cause. I doubt if many of the managers I had known would have made it to the second page.

I made one change that day. I put Mr in front of my name on my CV. It looked a little too formal for my liking but I got an interview for the very next job I applied for. And the one after that. It all happened in a fortnight and the second job was a substantial increase in responsibility over anything I had done before. In the end I beat out a very competitive short-list and enjoyed that job for the next few years, further enhancing my career.

Where I had worked previously there was a woman manager. She was the only one of about a dozen at my level, and there were none on the next level. She had worked her way up through the company over many years and was very good at her job. She was the example everyone used to show that it could be done, but that most women just didn�t want to. It�s embarrassing to think I once believed that. It�s even more incredible to think many people still do.

Tags: sexism discrimination business employment

ANS -- Is Rust The Key To Cleaner, Solar-Generated Hydrogen?

Here's a new spin on hydrogen.  A way to get it from combining rust and sunlight.  We'll see if this goes anywhere....
short article.
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Is Rust The Key To Cleaner, Solar-Generated Hydrogen?

Is Rust The Key To Cleaner, Solar-Generated Hydrogen?

By Antony Ingram Antony Ingram
447 views Jul 9, 2013
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Rusty car (Image: Flickr user Another Seb)

Rusty car (Image: Flickr user Another Seb)

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Rust is usually something to be avoided in the automotive world, unless you're a hot-rodder looking for that sun-scorched appearance or a VW scene kid wanting the "rat look".

But while most associate rust with decay, scientists are finding another use for it--and one which could improve hydrogen production, benefitting fuel cell vehicles.

The hydrogen producing process results from mixing nanoparticles of haematite (crystalline iron oxide, or rust) with water and the energy from sunlight.

According to the BBC, researchers in the U.S, Switzerland and Israel [] have isolated a particular size of haematite particle that works particularly well, helping to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of solar energy.

They call these "champion nanoparticles". When putting these champions in water, bubbles of hydrogen gas form under sunlight, as part of a photoelectrochemical cell.

The major benefit of such a process is that iron oxide is cheap. While we suspect the process is a little more complicated than throwing your old jalopy in a swimming pool and collecting the gas that results, iron oxide is also abundant.

As a result, it's both a cheap and environmentally-friendly way of generating hydrogen--which can then be used to power hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, as well as hydrogen's myriad other uses.

It's one of several techniques being explored for cleaner hydrogen production. Currently, hydrogen is either hugely energy-intensive, hugely expensive or quite difficult to produce--usually all three. The easiest method is extracting it during the fossil fuel production process, which isn't particularly green [] either.

With several automakers exploring hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as a green alternative to internal combustion, improving the production of an increasingly important gas will become ever more important.

Maybe rust isn't such a bad thing after all...


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Monday, July 08, 2013

ANS -- “Believe It or Not!”13 Mindblowing Facts About America’s Tax-Dodging Corporations

You probably know all this already, but the idea of nice neat lists like this is it gives you a list to refer to when you are arguing with someone and can't remember the specifics.  so keep it handy.  Or send it to your friends and the people you argue with.  This one is about big companies not paying their fair share of dues. 
Find it here:    

"Believe It or Not!"13 Mindblowing Facts About America's Tax-Dodging Corporations


By Richard Eskow | June 28, 2013

A judicious writer avoids adjectives like "mindblowing," especially when covering political or economic issues. But no other word seems to describe the stunning reality of corporate taxation in modern America, which cries out for the italics-heavy, exclamation-point-driven format made famous by "Ripley's Believe It or Not."

Stylistic overkill? Read these thirteen facts and you may change your mind.

1. We're told we can't "afford" full Social Security benefits, even though closing corporate tax-haven loopholes would pay for Obama's "chained CPI" benefit cut more than ten times over!

Abusive offshore tax havens cost the US $150 billion in lost tax revenue every year (via the FACT Coalition). That's $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

The "chained CPI" cut, proposed by President Obama and supported by Republicans, is projected to "save" a total of $122 billion to $130 billion over the same time period by denying benefits to seniors and disabled people.

It's true. "Serious" politicians and pundits are demanding that ordinary people sacrifice earned benefits, while at the same time allowing corporations to avoid more than 10 times as much in taxes.

2. Corporate tax rates are near their 60-year low, even though profits are at a 60-year high!

Need we say more?

(Source: Americans for Tax Fairness.)

3. Wells Fargo got $8 billion in tax breaks, even as executives at its subsidiary Wachovia avoided indictment for laundering money for the Mexican drug cartels!

That's right. Wells Fargo paid a negative tax rate of -1.4 percent between 2008 and 2010 while Wachovia, a Wells Fargo subsidiary, admitted to laundering more than $378 billion for Mexican drug gangs.

We're talking about crazed killers like "El Loco" and gangs like "Los Zetas" – gangs who cut people's heads off and toss them out onto disco dance floors or display them in the town square.

Wachovia bankers ignored repeated warnings from law enforcement officials, and continued to launder money for cartels that have murdered tens of thousands.

And yet no criminal indictments were handed down because, as a Senate investigator told Bloomberg News, "There's no capacity to regulate or punish them because they're too big to be threatened with failure."

4. Some other huge corporations paid less than nothing, too.

Pepco Holdings (-57.6% tax rate)
General Electric (-45.3%)
DuPont (-3.4%)
Verizon (-2.9%)
Boeing (-1.8%)
Honeywell (-0.7%)

(Source: Citizens for Tax Justice)

5. The amount of money U.S. corporations are holding offshore is an estimated one trillion dollars!

Rather than tax these profits the way other countries do, corporate politicians are promoting a tax "repatriation" break that would let corporations "bring this money home" while paying even less than their currently low rates.

They tried that in 2004 and it didn't create any jobs. In fact, corporations took the tax break and then fired thousands of people. What "repatriation" did do is line a lot of wealthy investors' pockets.

So, naturally, they want to do it again.

6. One building in the Cayman Islands is the official location of 18,857 corporations!

According to the Government Accountability Office, a five-story building called "Ugland House" is home to nearly twenty thousand corporations. That's impressive, especially for such a small edifice. (Perhaps it has supernatural half-floors and space-time defying "mind tunnels" like the office in Being John Malkovich.)

While impressive, Ugland House's distinction pales next to that of 1209 North Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware. According to one investigation, that address is home to 217,000 corporations.

That's because Delaware has very generous tax rules – and, as a result, is home to more than half of all the corporate subsidiaries in the United States.That's startling, since only 1/342th of the nation's population lives in that state (917,092 residents, out of a national total of 313,914,040, according to the latest census results).

7. Conservatives complain about the "official" corporate tax rate in this country, but corporations actually pay roughly one-third of the official rate in actual taxes.

The official, or "statutory," corporate tax rate is 35 percent. But the actual rate paid by American corporations is only 12 percent, less than that paid by many middle-class Americans.

(Source: The FACT Coalition.)

In fact, U.S. corporations pay less tax as a percentage of the GDP than corporations in Canada. Or Japan …

… or South Korea. Or Norway. Or Luxembourg, New Zealand, Israel, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, and Italy.

(Source: OECD StatsExtract interactive database.)

8. Corporations used to pay 30 percent of Federal taxes, and now they pay less than 7 percent!

That's because the corporate tax rate has plunged since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and is now the lowest it's been in modern history.

(Source: FACT Coalition.)

9. Big corporations paid $216 million to Congress and got $223 billion in tax breaks!

As Citizens for Tax Justice and USPIRG reported, 280 large and profitable corporations contributed $216 million to Congressional campaigns over four election cycles and got nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars in tax breaks.

That's a terrific investment for them – a return of more than a thousand to one – but it's a bad deal for the American people.

10. We don't even know who owns some corporations, even though that makes it easier to evade taxes, dodge creditors, avoid paying alimony or child support, and even fund terrorism!

The FACT Coalition lists some examples of investments that might represent a terror threat. Corporate interests are blocking disclosure rules that would help protect our national security.

11. Bank of America committed foreclosure fraud, was bailed out by the government, and then paid no taxes on $4.4 billion in profit!

That's right. In 2010, while BofA was negotiating a sweet settlement deal for its foreclosure fraud, it paid nothing in taxes. (Source: FACT Coalition.) Zero, on $17.2 billion in offshore earnings. (Source: Americans for Tax Fairness.)

Its $4.1 billion tax break came on the heels of the bank's taxpayer-funded bailout, immunity from prosecution for its criminal employees, and a cushy government settlement for its foreclosure fraud.

Now David Dayen reports that the bank has apparently continued to defraud customers in violation of its government settlement. Whistleblowers have stated in affidavits that they were "told to lie" to customers, continued to deceive homeowners before foreclosing on them, and flipped customers to new servicing companies to invalidate previous homeowner agreements.

12. What they call "tax reform" would actually prevent our elected representatives from giving businesses financial incentives to improve our lives!

The word "reform" is an honorable one that's been put to some dishonorable uses lately. "Entitlement reform," for example, is merely a euphemism for gutting Social Security and Medicare.

Similarly, corporate-backed politicians are pushing a formula for permanent corporate tax breaks and calling it "tax reform." They insist their "reform" be "revenue neutral" and say it will "broaden the base while lowering the rate."

Here's an English translation: The current, unsustainably low rates for corporations would be made permanent, while eliminating many tax deductions in the name of "simplification."

Here's what that really means: The domestic tax credit for creating jobs? Gone. Tax breaks for protecting the environment with clean energy, rather than harming other people's health and leaving a mess for the rest of us to clean up? Gone.

All in all we'd lose dozens of important policies that make our lives better, while permanently fixing corporate taxes at today's cushy giveaway rates.

"Reform"? Ripoff is more like it.

13. Despite their greed, mismanagement, and freeloading, tax-dodging corporations are using shell organizations like "Fix the Debt" and "the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget" to tell ordinary Americans they have to sacrifice even more to preserve corporate wealth!

These organizations are using the heads of failed banks – people like Chase's Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs – to dispense "advice on the economy." That's like getting navigation tips from the captain of the Exxon Valdez.

(Tax breaks for Exxon Mobil: $4.1 billion between 2008 and 2010. The company paid no taxes at all in 2009.)

These executives and their paid spokespeople tell the rest of us we need to "sacrifice" and "tighten our belts" so that their party can go on forever. And too often they're treated as credible sources, rather than as corrupting influences on our public life.

It's all true – and there are many more astonishing facts to be found in the world of corporate taxation. To fix the economy more people will need to learn about them – and demand that they be changed.

The writer and analyst in me wants to apologize for all the italicizing and all those exclamation points. But the American citizen in me wants to shout the truth out for all the world to hear – believe it or not!