Bob Higgins

Global Unemployment

Posted in Financial Crime, Politics by Bob Higgins on February 10, 2012
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Global Unemployment

Global Unemployment

Cross Posted at FilmAnnex
It will offer small consolation to the long term unemployed in the US to know that much of the rest of the world is suffering from the same problem. The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported late last month that more than 1.1 billion people were either unemployed or underemployed and living in the clutches of poverty.

While there may be some truth to the old saw that “misery loves company” and the discovery that there are a billion people in the boat may be somehow weirdly comforting, you have to wonder how long the dinghy will dally on the surface before behaving more like an anchor.

It’s also unsettling to realize just how long the unemployment lines are and how many people have applied for the job you so desperately need. With 1.1 billion people waiting the line will stretch around the globe 25 times so you’re not likely to get home for lunch.
Read more at FilmAnnex

Population? Stack’em Up, The More The Merrier

Posted in Environment, Labor Health and Safety, Politics by Bob Higgins on July 20, 2011
Slum in Jakarta swamp

Slums built on swamp land near a garbage dump in East Cipinang, Jakarta Indonesia. Picture taken by Jonathan McIntosh, 2004

I arrived on the scene in 1944 when there were just over 2 billion people on this planet. According to infoplease.com we reached the 2 billion milestone in 1927 and passed 3 billion in 1950 so I’m approximating, after all, we’re not splitting a dinner check.

From what I read, we’re on the cusp of passing the 7 billion milestone in October of this year. (The lucky 7 billionth child gets free sandwiches from Subway for a full thirty days – less shipping and handling.)

What this means, aside from the brutally depressing fact that I am likely older than 5 billion people, or 65% of the population, I don’t know, but I’m fairly certain that continued growth at this rate will not usher in a golden age of plenty, abundant crops at lower prices, free rides for the kiddies, a wild explosion in the number of carpool lanes and cleaner air and water.

Not so, according to a column, “Population Boom” at the Boston Globe this morning. The writer set me off with his subhead, “More people leads to more prosperity.” That sounds like a slogan from the turn of the century Robber Barons celebrating the new industrial age, the rapid influx of cheap immigrant labor, and higher rents for fire trap tenement buildings.

The ability of technology and industrial society to conjure ways to feed, clothe, shelter and keep an ever growing, more densely concentrated population on a planet with diminishing resources from slitting each other’s throats is  not discussed in the article. I think I’d avoid it as well.

If we’ve learned nothing from the mayhem of the last century with its constant conflict over resources, its terrible wars, droughts, famines, epidemics and economic depressions we should have learned that more people at the party will not reduce the noise level and no amount of religious or ideological wishful thinking will make it so.

We are on the brink of destroying the world’s oceans and waterways with the byproducts of the lifestyles we’ve developed since the dawn of the industrial age. We face the very real threat of  massive water shortages, a more immediate threat of running out of the fuel that has driven this growth and the likelihood that our air will be so filled with pollutants from our own activities that it will require chewing rather than breathing.

The more the merrier may be a joyous concept to a mine owner looking for dirt cheap labor to strip away a mountaintop, and more people may mean prosperity and happy days for the few who benefit from the outstretched hands, parched throats and empty bellies of the impoverished but there comes a point when the party loses its glamor down in the hood.

While I can’t offer a solution to the problem of rapid population growth other than education and birth control, for the billion or so people who are already fighting for arable land and potable water, for adequate housing, light, heat, breathable air, a view of a horizon that includes gainful employment and human dignity, time is running out and the worship of expanding markets and easily exploitable labor is no help at all.

Bob Higgins

Originally posted at Clean Technica: Population? Stack’em Up, The More The Merrier

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“The Poor Are Poor Because They Have Nothing To Steal”

Posted in History, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on February 27, 2011
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The poor are poor because they have nothing to steal

The poor are poor because they have nothing to steal

Responding to an essay by Michael Moore a commenter at Huffington Post yesterday penned the single most asinine comment in my recent memory. Here in all its glory is a gem that I’m going to frame and hang over my hearth:

Michael Moore has spent too much time studying the social sciences and Karl Marx. He knows nothing about economics and very lille [sic] about anything else. Corporatio­ns exist for the benefit of their stockholde­rs. They do provide jobs, pay taxes and produce products and services, however, they are not a social service organizati­on. He thinks the rich get richer by stealing from the poor. The poor are poor because they have nothing to steal. The rich get richer because of basic physics. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, while bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. It’s due to momentum. The big MO! Here is the math: MO1 (money)+MO­2 (momentum)­=MO3 (MO Money).

Wow an equation and everything, 1+2=3, I expect to see this economic breakthrough featured on a Glen Beck blackboard in the near future.

My favorite part and the sweet, creamy icing on the rich, moist cake of wisdom of this gem is this:

The poor are poor because they have nothing to steal

What a keeper. That line needs to be shouted from the steps of every state capitol, placed on a JumboTron on the National Mall and delivered to all the capitols of the world.

The poor are poor because they have nothing to steal

This crucial bit of information may finally be the salvation of poverty stricken people everywhere. This could lead to the poor being left alone, no more predators stalking them to steal their labor, burden them with debt, push them off their native lands or steal the food and resources from the soil and oceans on which they depend.

Who knew that the poor had nothing to steal? Robin Hood, that’s who. That’s why Robin Hood stole from the rich, just like Willie Sutton Robin knew where the money was.

But the rich have preyed on the poor since time immemorial, economically, physically, emotionally if there was something that the rich thought could be gained from the poor, they took it, and because the rich held all the power, the poor had to …well, take it.  Droit du seigneur indeed.

So tragic as it is that the poor are … poor, it’s a relief to know that now that they have nothing to steal and they’re finally out of danger?

Bob Higgins

Review the Minimum Wage? Hey Linda McMahon, Wrestle This!

Posted in Financial Crime, Humor, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on October 1, 2010
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McMahon Preparing for the Senate

 

Linda McMahon, the billionaire running for a US  Senate seat in Connecticut on the uninformed idiot program initiated this election cycle by the Teabagger wing of the GOP says that the minimum wage should be reviewed.

This woman, who hauls in about 50 million bucks a year from her business of parading large, steroid ridden guys in bikini underwear around a “wrestling” ring, while talking adolescent trash in theatrically loud gravelly voices thinks that $7.75 an hour may be overly generous.

She wasn’t sure what the minimum wage actually is nor could she say whether or not she had any employees who were paid the minimum.

Her level of knowledge of America’s workforce, including her own employees dovetails quite nicely with that of other Teabagger candidates in the race,  some of whom are at this moment staring intently at monkeys, watching for evolutionary change. (more…)

This Dark Age Must End

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on August 6, 2007


Illustration: Kollwitz, The Propeller

Having shown over the last seven months, since taking control of the legislative branch that they are at least equal to the Republicans when it comes to avarice, the Democrats set out this past weekend to demonstrate that, when it comes to cowardice, to blatant, unmitigated, ass covering politics they are every bit a match for Republicans.

Who impeaches the Congress? What in our Constitution protects the citizens of this country from a completely rogue government? When all three branches have abrogated their constitutional obligations, who will stand up for, who will represent the people of the United States?

Where must we search, to whom do we go for protection from the power of the wealthy corporate classes who are stealing our wealth, our livelihoods, and our future, who are spitting on our laws and our history as they sacrifice our Children and Grandchildren on the profane altar of their greed, in their eternal wars for profit and power?

Where is the opposition? Where do we go for redress of grievances when every institution of government is in the hands of the enemies of the people?

After suffering through five long years of watching a rogue executive blow it’s nose on the American Constitution and wipe it’s feet on our laws and bill of rights, it was with some relief and a glimmer of hope that I watched the election results last November as the Democratic party was returned to control of the legislative branch of the federal government. The pendulum is returning to the center I told myself, surely it will soon move to the left and show benefits to the working people of this country again.

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People of the River, “If Fields Could Be Carried”

Posted in Environment, History, Politics by Bob Higgins on June 8, 2007

Hamatika School
Gwembe valley
October 4, 2002

Dear Aunty Grace

Thank you very much for the food that arrived yesterday. Mother was thrilled to see it.  She cried because she had not seen so much mealie meal for months.

Straightaway she cooked a really big meal of nshima. We ate really well last night and I still feel full today.

Some days when I’m unable to write at home, too lazy to make breakfast, or just need a better cup of coffee than I make around here, I head for a local Internet Cafe called Java Street, a pleasant spot run by a gracious friend named Stacy and frequented by an interesting and diverse group of people.

Yesterday as I settled in, plugged in the laptop and ordered breakfast, I spoke to a couple of the regulars who play chess most mornings, trading quick coffee house greetings. As I opened the morning paper I noticed at the next table a very pretty young woman, as a professional, a trained observer, it’s part of my job. She was wearing a headset, engrossed in her work and seemed oblivious to the coffee aromas, with the lingering memory of burnt toast and the low murmur of breakfast banter wafting in her vicinity.

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Dropping Knowledge? Knowledge Droppings?

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on July 1, 2006

If you could gather one hundred or so of the best minds on the planet and serve them a list of questions compiled from “ordinary people” all over the world what might you expect from such a gathering?

We may find out soon because according to the emails I’ve been receiving from a group called “dropping knowledge” just such a meeting is in the works:

On September 9, 2006, 112 scientists, social entrepreneurs, philosophers, writers, artists and activists from around the world will come together in Berlin, Germany, as guests of dropping knowledge. Seated around a vast round-table in the heart of the city, these remarkable individuals, renowned for the creative, social and humanistic impact of their work, will engage with 100 questions from the global public. These questions, selected by dropping knowledge’s founders and ambassadors from the many thousands generated by our “What’s Your Question?” campaign, will reflect the topics of greatest concern to the global public, emphasize under-reported issues and engage key themes endorsed by dropping knowledge in 2006.

(more…)

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