Thursday, September 27, 2007

More on Consumerism, Economic Inequality...

I'm pretty busy with a number of things right now, including getting ready to take off for Stumptown Comics Fest this weekend in Portland. I'll be doing a panel with Ted Rall, Matt Bors, Shannon Wheeler, Barry Deutsch, and Stephanie McMillan.

So, here's a very quick list of articles for this week's toon (which is a shame because some of them are damn good, and I'd love to blather on for a while... do yourself a favor and check them out):
  • See especially a really great piece by Bill McKibbon in Mother Jones called "Reversal of Fortune," about Americans' relentless accumulation of wealth and the correlation (or lack thereof) with just how happy we are.

    At the other end of the spectrum? "Freegans."

  • Paul Krugman argues that the administration's real goal this whole time has been simply to further economic inequality in America, and to find new ways to disenfranchise poor people. I agree.

  • Naomi Klein argues that the system that some fundamentalist capitalists (e.g. followers of Milton Friedman) seek in the United States not really capitalism at all, but rather corporatism. I agree with her, too.

  • Check out some great info on the modern-day scam of college loans:
    Median household incomes fell 2 percent between 2000 and 2006.

    Ccollege tuition rose 37 percent over the same period...

    The cost of private college is 57 percent of a median household income. That means that if a family with two children wants to send both kids to private college, it costs 114 percent of the household income...

    The behemoth Sallie Mae Corporation, manager of $123 billion in student loans, contributed $2.8 million to political campaigns between 1994 and 2006, two-thirds to Republicans.

    Sallie Mae’s profits nearly tripled from 2000 to 2006, from $500 million to $1.4 billion.

    ...Sallie Mae has one of the highest returns on revenue in the Fortune 500.
    But the government still subsidizes the interest rate and guarantees against default. No wonder Sallie is so happy.

    I found this especially interesting since I owe Sallie Mae a significant chunk of change myself. Congress is trying to pass a relief package to reduce the absurd cost of college tuition these days, but Bush has promised to veto. If he had his way, me and everyone else who's not in the upper .1% would be passing that shit off onto our grandchildren. Thankfully, it looks like he doesn't have the votes to avoid an override.

OK, that wasn't so quick... but you had to see that coming.

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