Friday, April 27, 2012

Robert Scheer: Halfway Through the Lost Decade, A Nonviolence Workshop with Rev. James Lawson, This Saturday, April 28, 9:00 AM to Noon

Halfway Through the Lost Decade
By Robert Scheer
Truthdig: April 26, 2012

Does anyone care that the economy is floundering and that we are not getting out of this crisis anytime soon? Housing values are in the cellar, the Fed foresees unemployment remaining unacceptably high for the next three years, and national economic growth is predicted to be, at best, anemic.

Even the substantial rise of stock averages during recent years has been based in large part on the ability of companies such as Apple to outsource jobs and sales to booming markets led by China—while America’s graduating students face mountainous debt and what is shaping up as a decade without opportunity.

These are the inescapable conclusions to be drawn from a gloomy report released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. In that document, the Fed revises downward its growth projection for the next two years and predicts, in the words of a New York Times article about the report, that “unemployment will remain a massive and persistent problem for years to come.” The housing failure that is the root cause of this economic emergency continues unabated because there is no political will in either party to aid beleaguered homeowners.

Beneath all the pundit blather about the election lies the fact that most deeply affects the voters’ well-being: Home prices are at a decade low, and in cities like Atlanta and Las Vegas they are as dismal as they have been since the Case-Shiller indices started tracking housing prices in the early 1990s.

Without a resurgence in housing value, consumer confidence will remain moribund and a woefully weak labor market will persist. Every time housing seems to be rebounding, the banks and the feds unload more of their toxic mortgages and prices edge lower.

The only thing preventing a complete collapse, one that would plunge us into deep recession or worse, is the Fed’s extremely low interest rate, which Wednesday’s report reiterated will remain at near zero until late 2014. If the Fed rate were to rise, driving up all of the adjustable rate mortgages out there, we would be in a full-blown depression.

All of this terrible news should spell disaster for Barack Obama’s re-election chances, since it is a direct consequence of his continuing the George W. Bush strategy of bailing out the bankers while ignoring the plight of the homeowners they swindled. But Obama will probably survive because his Republican presidential rival, Mitt Romney, is far worse on this subject.

At least Obama has made a stab at pushing the banks to provide mortgage relief, albeit a halfhearted one. When assessed in light of Romney’s splendid indifference to the suffering that he himself and other financial hustlers caused, Obama deserves support; at least the president seems alert to the pain the bankers have inflicted, while Romney blames their victims.

Romney’s is the sink-or-swim, tough-love approach that has come to mark the Republican Party. As he put it last fall in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “... [D]on’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit bottom. Allow investors to buy up homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up.”

That of course does not address the painful losses of, for example, Nevada homeowners, who have witnessed a 62 percent drop in values since 2006. At fault is a free-market-rules philosophy that denies the essential reality of American housing: The market was not free, it was brutally rigged.

The securitization of mortgages into collateralized debt obligations turned homes—the castles of so many average Americans—into gambling chips, and the fallout mainly hurt those who were not even in on the game. As The Wall Street Journal reported in February when Romney was campaigning in Nevada, the primary victims of foreclosure are those who had paid down their home loans, or worse yet owned homes outright, only to find that repossessions on their block destroyed the value of their investment.

The appalling thing is that this enormous mess did not have to happen. It is a man-made disaster, the result of capricious Wall Street bankers who have no regard for the national interest. Perhaps that is to be expected, but what is shocking is the inability of leading politicians of either party to mount a challenge to the unfettered greed that has come to dominate our political process.

In the end, the perpetrators of this calamity have been rewarded, and their patsies, the ordinary folks who are supposed to matter in a democracy, have been cast overboard.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s new book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”

Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

* * *
From: Anthony Saidy []
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 11:42 PM
A venerable role model indeed. -AFS

Achieving Nonviolent Change in Our Communities
A Nonviolence Workshop with Rev. James Lawson
Date and Time: This Saturday, April 28, 9:00 AM to Noon
Location: Holman United Methodist Church, 3320 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018

This is a free event. Refreshments will be provided.
RSVP not required. We have room for you!
Contact: Walter Johnson 310-570-3776

What is a Nonviolence Workshop?
Rev. Lawson’s nonviolence workshops are something like a college course teaching the basics of Nonviolence as it was practiced by Gandhi.
The goal is to train the participants in the principles and practice of Gandhian nonviolence to the level at which the participants are qualified to lead a grassroots nonviolent community movement to overcome an injustice, or to achieve an improvement in the lives of the community’s members. The community can be a neighborhood, a group of employees, an ethnic community…..etc.
It differs from a college course in that participation is informal and there are no grades. Nearly every workshop has new participants, so it is impossible to adhere to a curriculum. While many participants have covered much of the material, its necessary to go back to the basics for newcomers .
The workshops include lecture. Most also include audio-visual material. And most of the workshops include breakout discussion sessions. Every workshop includes a refreshment break which actually turns out to be about a 20-minute social time where participants get up to date with each other’s lives and work.
Why is it important?
Because nonviolent tools have been proven to be among the most powerful tools for overcoming injustices and achieving permanent change around the world. The tools include public protest, nonviolent resistance to governmental efforts to stymie change, nonviolent non-cooperation with governmental schemes to maintain the status quo, boycotts, strikes, and many more.
What types of problems can it solve?
Could be something as simple as an employer ‘s unjust treatment of employees, or as complex as the U S civil rights movement. Poland’s Solidarity movement nonviolently replaced Poland’s totalitarian government with democracy. The “Occupy” movement is working of overcome extreme income disparity in the U. S. These movements typically take years to play out. Nonviolent change produces change with little or no loss of life. Compare Egypt’s nonviolent revolution with Libya’s violent revolution.
James Lawson
Jim Lawson studied Gandhi’s methods in India, and was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s advisors during the U S Civil Rights movement. He organized and led the successful non-violent sit-ins in Nashville, which resulted in the integration of Nashville’s entire downtown community. He personally participated in the “Freedom Rides” from Birmingham to Jackson, Mississippi.
In recent years he has taught nonviolence college courses at Vanderbilt University, Cal State Northridge, and other schools, and he participates in numerous nonviolence conferences across the United States.

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