ABC News has the learned that on Thursday the U.S. Department of Agriculture will announce that starting this fall, schools will be able to choose whether or not they buy hamburger that contains lean finely textured beef known as ” pink slime …”
“It kind of looks like play dough,” said Kit Foshee, who, until 2001, was a corporate quality assurance manager at Beef Products Inc., the company that makes “pink slime.” “It’s pink and frozen, it’s not what the typical person would consider meat.”
Foshee said that he was fired by BPI after complaining about the process used to make the filler, and the company’s claims about it. Since then, he has spoken out against the product.
J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, defended the practice as a way to safely use what otherwise would be wasted.
“BLBT (Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings) is a sustainable product because it recovers lean meat that would otherwise be wasted,” he said in a statement.
However, the substance, critics said, is more like gelatin than meat, and before BPI found a way to use it by disinfecting the trimmings with ammonia, it was sold only to dog food or cooking oil suppliers.
But Boyle said, “The beef trimmings that are used to make BLBT are absolutely edible” and Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs for AMI, said there was no reason to label beef that contains “pink slime.”
“What are you asking me to put on the label, its beef, it’s on the label, it’s a beef product, it’s says beef so we are declaring … it’s beef,” she said.
May things are edible but still best not eaten. Some people eat dog food when they can afford nothing else. Hair, hide and hooves are part of a cow. Are they beef if they are ground finely enough and resuspended as an ammoniac gel?
Therein lies the rub. The parts of the cow used for “pink slime” come from the parts of the cow that used to be tossed away because they were too heavily contaminated with bacteria, coming as they do from on or near the cow’s surface. This is the “why” of ammonia-treated slime, the compound being used to disinfect the material. (It would seem to be even a couple steps further down than the infamous and much-joked about “potted meat product.”)
In the intervening period the product was marketed as a kind of meat extender and disinfectant — falsely so — and has no found its way into 70 percent of packaged ground meat sold in supermarkets.
Obviously, a very large market. And it is unlikely all Americans will immediately learn enough about it to start shunning pre-packaged ground beef, another product of corporate America’s race to the bottom, repackaged as some kind of value-laden gift.
There is only one way to know for certain that “pink slime” is not in your beef: If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.
Otherwise, you can’t know from the packaging because “pink slime” does not have to appear on the label. And the USDA is giving no indication it will force meat packers to lift the veil of secrecy any time soon.
“Pink slime’s” makers insisted it was ammonia-disinfected and that was all that was necessary to absolve it from corporate responsibility in any cases of contaminated ground beef.
The blog has regularly post items on how corporate America becomes a security threat to average Americans. Mass food poisonings and recalls regularly enuse, because of the overweening pursuit of profits at the expense of safety, good sense, and regard for the final customer
The party of the plutocrats is marked by its loathing for many things, among them food stamps. If you search the public record over the past two years it’s clear the Republican Party, as it exists now, thinks people on food assistance are vermin.
From Newt Gingrich to Ted Nugent, it is abundantly clear.
DD came up with some eye-popping statistics to frame the astonishing number of people on food stamps in our nation.
By itself, the number is huge. Still, it becomes even more depressing when the magnitude of it is put in context.
Food stamp usage in the US is a symbol of national economic failure so systemic it takes your breath away. It is rock solid proof the US economy does not provide jobs which earn a fair living for a polyglot cohort that dwarfs entire western nations.
Between 44 and 45 million Americans use food stamps.
Let’s look at the populations of selected western countries:
Population of Norway 4.8 million
Sweden 9.3 million
UK 61.8 million
Three quarters of England fit in the US basket of food stamp recipients. Or Sweden, Norway, and Greece combined with a good surplus left over. Or 99 percent of Spain.
If you add up the populations of the 50 states, starting with the least,
the number of people on food stamps in the US is a number that roughly includes the summed populations of:
Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arkansas,
Kansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Connecticut, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Kentucky.
That’s 26 states.
Food stamp use cuts across a wide swath of American society.
This shows that even when one excludes the unemployed, a mass of jobs large enough to fill foreign nations provide work which is not compensated well enough to make a decent living.
Such jobs are essentially slave labor in which ruinous corporate wages are offset by government subsidy.
One can look at it as a process in which corporate America depressed wages for a fair day’s work, maximizing profit by shoving part of the cost of a barely subsistence wage onto the government, and by extension, the taxpayer.
This can only be seen as entrenched predatory behavior.
Take, for example, the national security machine. Since the onset of the war on terror, US defense contractors enjoyed an immense boom. They are among the biggest and wealthiest companies in the world.
Lately a lot of complaints have been made about the food stamp program. Let’s take a look a one group that gets food stamps — 14,000 military families were on food stamps in 2000.
The Pentagon does not keep track of any military families that are on food stamps. President Bush in 2001 decided to authorize a $500 subsistence pay increase that was taxable in order to help military families get off food stamps. It did not work. Military families increased on food stamps because food stamps are non-taxable.
From 2008 to 2009 military families were using food stamps at twice the rate as civilians, 25 percent to 13 percent. About $31 million of food stamps were used in nationwide commissaries.
From July 2009 to March 2011 in Oklahoma, where there are four military bases — Fort Sill, Tinker AFB, Vance AFB, Altus AFB — $1.8 million in food stamps was spent.
President Obama, in the 2010 Defense Authorization Bill, increased the food subsistence program for military families to $1,100 and made it non-taxable to help get families off food stamps. But will it?
The military pay scale does not match cost of living anywhere in America. So if the U.S can only pay men and women who volunteer to serve and protect our freedom a wage that reflects poverty, how can anyone complain about someone else getting food stamps?
15.9 percent of the population of Texas is on food stamps. If you believe the opinions of the GOP, they are all leeches.
The GOP’s view of food stamp use can be summed in various repellent quotes from Ted Nugent.
Nugent: The America [Obama] doesn’t … people are using food stamps for something other than good nutrition. You gotta be kidding me. We got a bunch of idiots out there that are absolutely raping and pillaging an otherwise positive humanitarian system.
Morgan: My issue about you and the welfare thing is it showed — to me it showed no sense of compassion for people who have genuine problems. Who genuinely need it.
NUGENT: Well, you see –
MORGAN: Your judgment, if you don’t mind me saying, is all encompassing. All sweeping. You think they’re all on the fiddle.
The authors of the study, which examined the regulatory filings of the 100 companies with the best-paid chief executives, said that their findings suggested that current United States policy was rewarding tax avoidance rather than innovation.
“We have no evidence that C.E.O.’s are fashioning, with their executive leadership, more effective and efficient enterprises,” the study concluded. “On the other hand, ample evidence suggests that C.E.O.’s and their corporations are expending considerably more energy on avoiding taxes than perhaps ever before — at a time when the federal government desperately needs more revenue to maintain basic services for the American people.”
The study comes at a time when business leaders have been lobbying for a cut in corporate taxes …
“We pay our taxes and we have added 5,000 more U.S. manufacturing jobs that were incentivized by tax benefits,” he said.
Americans who illegally download music, movies and games may soon find their internet access grinding to a halt. The nation’s top internet providers – including Verizon, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Cablevision and Comcast – have agreed to a new system in which users suspected of digital copyright infringement will be given a series of six warnings by email or other means. Repeat offenders would be threatened with progressively severe punishments, culminating in reduced connection speed or having service cut off entirely. Customers will be allowed to contest each warning.
The internet carriers hope to deter piracy through annoyance …
Of course, no one will be punished for downloading pirated material from a Google property … like YouTube, one assumes. Lest the entire business model collapse.
The only working rule in effect here is if the group or individual is a current big seller, their legal fixers and YouTube will work to keep their albums from being uploaded. So that the videos can be monetized through Vevo.
What would happen if ISP’s blocked YouTube, for the annoyance of users into stopping their downloading/streaming of pirated content?
Our leaders, notably Congress and the administration, are increasingly desperate to rationalize reasons for little recovery in the middle class and high unemployment. So they look to Wall Street, which is doing fine, and economists to tell them it’s all the little people’s fault.
Structural unemployment is what it’s called. It’s an argument that makes the case that rotten is the new good, that nothing can be done because the country has moved on and the unemployed are so because they lack what the country needs for the future. So corporate America has decided to discard them.
They lack the necessary skills.
Except the American middle is not lacking in skills. Working for the census last year made this abundantly clear. The census’ labor, taking a great deal from those knocked into unemployment by the Great Recession, had all kinds of skills and varied training. And they were largely educated. You could not characterize them narrowly — as flawed in their education and training — which is what structural unemployment arguments always try to do.
Today’s news — from this article — delivers all the rancid goods needed to justify walking away from the national mess in the three minutes time it takes to read it.
For example: “Swonk believes that one of the lasting outcomes of the recession will be a skills shortage driven by educational inequality.”
Which, from experience, is rubbish.
The very next graf has one source disputing it, a position also taken by Paul Krugman:
Bart Hobijn, an economist at the San Francisco Federal Reserve, argues against the skills mismatch theory for driving up natural unemployment. Hobijn recently studied the unemployment rate among recent college graduates — who are theoretically resistant to the effects of a skills shortage — and found that they were faring just as poorly in the labor market as others, implying that skills mismatch isn’t having much of an effect on the natural unemployment rate.
Then the man finds a different reason to explain recalcitrant hiring. It’s the extended unemployment benefits, he reasons. The implication that it made people to lazy too find minimum wage work compounded by the fact that employers don’t like hiring low wage workers because, wait for it … they are lazy crap. Although the words “lazy” and “crap” don’t enter the discussion.
The US is great at making weapons and parasite economy stuff — financial services and monetized networked circle jerks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) — and virtually nothing else. And these industries don’t broadly spread their riches to the overall populace. The good fortune comes only to those directly connected to them — a feature of countries which are either saddled with or adopt rising levels of inequality.
One can marvel at the stubborn optimism of the 24-year old, of the ability to get a book contract, and the revelation of information that it’s important to hold onto your laptop. Or you’ll really be in a world of hurt.
Read it. It’s one example of a nation that’s given up on its people.
On the other hand, if you’re in arms manufacturing, things are jolly good.
Weeks ago I predicted Raytheon and others would get great numbers from our Bombing Moe adventure, even once we abandoned the job. Others, like Little Tommy Atkins, for instance, would shoot off all their nice American-made smart bombs and missiles. But Mo would still stubbornly refuse to die or run away, presenting them with the need to order even more from America’s armorers.
And such has been the case. Business at Raytheon has been wunderbar.
From a press release:
Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN – News) announced today that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.43 cents per outstanding share of common stock. The cash dividend is payable on August 11, 2011 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on July 6, 2011.
Raytheon Company, with 2010 sales of $25 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other
government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 89 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art [missiles] and [war] support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 72,000 people worldwide.
In another sign of national decline, or the inability to do anything other now more advanced western nations do, AT&T begins limiting its DSL customers on Monday. Unlimited Internet access is over here.
DD is an AT&T. The service is already frequently abysmal.
Natch, the reason for this is because none of the big corporate Internet providers want to see their profit margins expand as more people watch high def television and movies on the Internet. They view throughput and capacity as premium commodities. As a consequence, they’ve had little incentive to improve their infrastructure, always preferring the short term highest profit margins.
In the meantime, US broadband access compared to peer nations is putrid. The story has been repeated so many times in the mainstream news media it requires minimal citation. If you live here, you know it.
If one were actually serious about winning the future, our fearless leader might make the case for Internet access as a utility, rather than just another premium service the profitable big providers can use to soak people for the sake of even more profit.
In related matters, ducks to the golden fool, ol’ sci-fi and libertarian author David Brin. I’ve accidentally caught two of his last columns for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, where he’s a fellow.
With Roscoe Bartlett, Islamo-phobe birthers Trent Franks and Frank Gaffney, JJ Carafano and William Forstchen in the stable, there’s really no need for a David Brin. How could he compare?
Anyway, Brin’s newest column is on “Internet Access as a Human Right,” which sounds good, I think we can all agree. Don’t tell AT&T.
However, once the piece builds up a head of steam Brin starts yapping about government and economic transparency. In and of itself, coming it as it does out of someone who has apparently been living in the US in the last ten years, is a a laff riot.
Particularly when he gets to addressing Libya:
According to this Washington Post article, when the U.S. Treasury Department froze Libyan assets, they expected to find $100 million, but found over $30 billion—mostly all in one bank. To put this in perspective, in 2009, Libya had a gross domestic product of $62 billion.
Say what? Thirty billion dollars? If this cash pile is matched by similar revelations re Egypt and Tunisia and other toppled despotisms, can you doubt that economic transparency will become a truly radical cause during the twenty-teens?
Only in this case, we’re talking about a “radicalism of reasonableness.” A militancy of moderation. A fervent and dynamic worldwide call for governments and corporations and oligarchs and rulers and economies and everybody simply to play fair. Compete fair. To rule fairly, the way Adam Smith and F. Hayek and nearly all cogent economists of left and right agree we must, if society is to be healthy at all.
A radicalism that Louis Brandeis spoke of when he prescribed the one thing that keeps a society healthy: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Let’s start with those despot nations, (he doesn’t mention our rather un-transparent and systemically unreasonable society), reads Brin’s piece.
We could shower the despot nations with free satellite phones, free Internet access from the Commando Solo air plane — the former possibly to be called volksradios, a name coined by Brin.
One of the characteristics of the clueless futurist is how he or she write pieces which are unintentional parodies.
Holed up in plush digs where no one emits the bark of a sarcastic horselaugh under penalty of expulsion, it does no good to reflect on our own fail. Not when dreaming of the export of wonderful things we no longer do or own — like in this case, transparency, to others.
Brin’s piece is well-meaning crap and it’s here. It does make obvious he’s been out of circulation for awhile.
Continuing on yesterday’s riff on the ease with which corporate American mobilizes group lickspittling to astro-turf images at variance with reality, the blog points to an article by Don Barlett and Jim Steele writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“The United States has two tax systems: A flexible, preferential one for multinational corporations and the rich; a rigid, nonnegotiable one for working people. In other words, if you’re not lucky enough to be a global business or a wealthy individual, you must pay pretty much what Congress dictates. If, however, you are among the privileged, well, your company makes billions for you and essentially operates tax-free.”
Nonetheless, corporate America collectively has long whined about paying excessive taxes.
What kind of corporation escapes responsibility for any of these bills? Carnival Cruise Lines for one …
Like others in Congress and the media, Cantor, Bachmann, and Pawlenty insist that American businesses are paying too much in corporate income tax. They claim the onerous tax burden is killing jobs and forcing companies to move abroad. To reverse the nation’s fortunes, they say, all Washington need do is slash the corporate tax rate, thereby reducing the amount of taxes these businesses are forced to pay. What’s scary is a growing number of citizens believe them.
That means a forecast made years ago by William J. Casey, a wily Republican from another era who liked to dabble in the intelligence world’s black arts inside and outside the country, and who helped craft the election of Ronald Reagan, is coming true. After taking office, President Reagan installed Casey as head of the CIA in 1981. After his first staff meeting at the agency, Casey was quoted as saying:
“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
One of the more egregious falsehoods being peddled by the corporate tax cutters is that companies doing business in the United States are taxed at an exorbitant rate. Not so.
Perhaps a more telling yardstick, corporate tax revenue in 2009 came to just 1 percent of gross domestic product – the lowest collection level since 1936, or three-quarters of a century ago. In 2010, it edged up to a puny 1.3 percent – the second-lowest since 1940. Even worse, the shriveled tax collections came at a time when corporations were registering an all-time high in profits. At the end of 2010, corporations posted an annualized profit of $1.65 trillion in the fourth quarter. In other words, the more they made, the less they paid.
In its most recent filing, Exxon Mobil Corp., the global energy giant, reported income of $34.8 billion before taxes on total revenue of $310.6 billion for 2009. Its U.S. income tax bill: Zero.
This is not her obituary. But it might be one for describing the nature of the wreckage that is the US.
My mother was born in Philadelphia to two Hungarian immigrants. They came from Budapest and neither had high school educations. However, her father was able to grab a middle class job in Pennsylvania, one in which his wife did not have to work and which would enable him to send my mother on to a college education.
They were solidly middle class almost their entire lives and owned their home. They enjoyed lifetime good medical care as well as a long and easy retirement. And their daughter rose into the upper middle class in Pennsylvania.
My mother and father did not have their lives blighted by a constant scramble for paying jobs, long stretches of unemployment and ever diminished hopes.
So in somewhat less than the span of my mother’s lifetime the country went from what my grandparents saw as inspiration and opportunity to a stupid and mean-spirited nightmare whose gifts to the world are smart weapons, war, predatory financial services and history-making bad and/or cowardly leadership. And it has not been a random accident.
Those like my grandparents who enter the country under similar circumstances now look forward to living ten to a rented room. When not attacked outright by one entire political party, they pass on a life of zero opportunity to their children while living as serfs. And they find the locale of the working and unemployed poor getting more crowded every day, sharing the territory with an always increasing number arriving from the downwardly mobile middle class.
Now it’s better to ignore the fraudulent advertising and stay in Budapest. And it took less than one full lifetime.
The President Needs A Challenger (a continuing series)
More broadly, Mr. Obama is conspicuously failing to mount any kind of challenge to the philosophy now dominating Washington discussion — a philosophy that says the poor must accept big cuts in Medicaid and food stamps; the middle class must accept big cuts in Medicare (actually a dismantling of the whole program); and corporations and the rich must accept big cuts in the taxes they have to pay. Shared sacrifice!
But if you ask me, I’d say that the nation wants — and more important, the nation needs — a president who believes in something, and is willing to take a stand. And that’s not what we’re seeing.
“Let’s say you set up business as a consultant or a contractor, something a lot of people have been doing these days. And, to make this a challenge on the tax front, let’s say you do well and take in about $150,000 in your first year.”
How to pay no income tax if you earn six figures, one of the most popular stories on the web, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal here
“Who says GE has all the fun?” concludes the piece’s columnist, Brett Arends.
So I sent him a copy of the official DD Taxavoidination vid, “GE and Jeff” along with a polite note.
Wrong venue, obviously.
“People get to think what they think,” said GE’s Jeff Immelt in the news on Monday or Tuesday. Why did he not go with the more elegant, “Let them eat cake”?
By empirical evidence, it’s impossible to shame sociopaths.
You throw up your hands.
One nagging idea is to find someone to run a challenge against Barack Obama for the Dem nomination in 2012. We all thought he had something and were subsequently taken as fools.
Matt Taibbi recently said something to this effect at Roling Stone. While only rumint, Taibbi indicated he’d heard Elizabeth Warren was one possibility, and that item is here.
Hit this up on YouTube. It won’t kill ya. A few of the criminals should get to see it, anyway, don’t you think?