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Homeless in Paradise

America, Land of 371 Billionaires and 3.5 Million Homeless

By Stephen Fleishman

12/06/07 "
Counterpunch" -- -- In the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, as many as three and a half million people experience homelessness in a given year (1% of the entire US population or 10% of its poor) and of that, 1.37 million (or 39%) are children under the age of 18.

The total number of billionaires in the world is 793 with 371 of them being in the United States of America, that's about 322 more than there were 20 years ago.

If it can be said that people with money and power run the world, then 1% of America's wealthiest and most powerful run America behind a fašade of democracy. The fašade is coming apart and the true nature of this government is plain to see.

After four years of a useless war, costing Americans their lives and treasury, and enriching the multitude of corporate entities slurping up billions at the Iraqi trough, we have allowed the new robber barons, Bush and his crony capitalist friends to continue conning us out of house and home, our country. Our constitution is in shreds and our economy is about to crash. Don't let any of the Wall Street freaks try to fool you. They're as scared as we are.

What happens when an economic system reaches the end of its days; when purchasing power dries up and workers can no longer buy the products they produce?

When Capitalism still had some vigor, Henry Ford said he would price his cars so that his workers could afford to buy them.

Do you find that kind of insight in Corporate America today? Not on your life! First, they break the unions and then they outsource their high-paying manufacturing jobs. It's a race to the bottom. Go to wherever the lowest wages can be found. All we get to hear is that giant sucking sound that Ross Perot talked about when he was running for president American good paying jobs and manufacturing plants leaving the country. Let's call it "globalization". Some economists, like Milton Friedman, seem to think it's a good thing.

I hate to sound like an old-time Trotskyite, but I'm beginning to believe now that our political and economic system will have to get worse, before it can get better. We're going to have to take some "shock and awe" in this country to knock some of the lethargy out of our citizens, brainwashed by the corporate media. And it's not just the media. The almost deliberate act of dumbing down the populous has been built into the fabric of society"from public education to academia to computer games to radio and television talk shows. To keep the sheep compliant, I presume.

When was the last time you heard the labor theories of value or the theory of surplus value discussed anywhere in the public media? They'd rather give us Brittany Spears and O.J. Simpson.

You wouldn't know, from what you learned in school or read in the papers, that Franklin D Roosevelt, when he became president in the depth of the depression in 1933, saved capitalism by providing a "safety net" for the millions of destitute Americans. He did it with the NRA, WPA. TWA, CCC, AAA, Social Security and other "socialist-like" programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

So where have all the alphabets gone"along with the flowers of the "new left" of the 1960s? We thought they'd re-descend in the 1990s, but they haven't shown up yet.

So I think it's a matter of taking matters into our own hands. We have a line-up of presidential candidates, Republicans and Democrats, most of them in the pockets of corporate interests, who will take us back to the same old stand, except, perhaps for Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich. But they have already been ruled out of the running because they have something helpful to say to the American people. Not allowed.

Now, Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, has just announced that he will move to impeach President Bush if he bombs Iran. Isn't that courageous! Doesn't Joe have enough evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors right now and hasn't he had them for the last three or four years; enough to move those proceedings from the Senate which he can't because impeachment must originate in the House of Representatives? Joe must know that. But he needs something to grandstand on while running for president. This is typical of the kind of tactics candidates like to use in futzing with the minds of the voters.

It appears that our system is heading into the perfect storm. With the sub-prime mortgage disaster, a dismal forecast in consumer spending, the maxing out of credit cards and the Fed fighting the credit crunch, can a recession be far behind? We might be lucky if it's only a recession. We could get the kind of economic collapse that would make the last depression look like a tea party. With friends like China, who needs enemies? We've fought this Iraqi war (which we're still fighting) on the cuff"about two trillion dollars worth. China, a prime creditor, could call in some of this debt if they wanted to be mean.

Bush would like to get our minds off Iraq by attacking Iran. That way, he could get one more war under his belt. Go get him, Joe Biden!

Meanwhile, we wander around aimlessly, homeless in paradise, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Stephen Fleischman, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly "CBS Reports" series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-DuPont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See: http://www.ARedintheHouse.com/, E-mail: stevefl@ca.rr.com

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