Elaine Meinel Supkis
Post Memorial day news: the military have a much higher rate of foreclosures than the average. They have worse pay than the average. And Bush is going to veto the bill passed by the Senate that will give full educational benefits to soldiers who survive the meat grinder in Iraq and aren't insane. Of course, going to school while homeless is a problem. Ask Vietnam vets. Also, the Economist praises the cruel system for lending money in Japan. It never ceases to astonish me how stupid some editors are. And in Washington, DC, protestors from last year who tried to shame the Supreme Court into upholding the Constitution go on trial. They want Gitmo closed and the Supreme Court believes that this is the Soviet Union.
In the midst of the worst surge in mortgage defaults in seven decades, foreclosures in U.S. towns where soldiers live are increasing at a pace almost four times the national average, according to data compiled by research firm RealtyTrac Inc. in Irvine, California. As military families like the VerSteeghs signed up for the initial lower rates and easier terms of subprime mortgages, the number of people taking out Veterans Administration loans fell to the lowest in at least 12 years.
``We've never faced a situation like this, not in the Vietnam War, World War II, or the Korean War, where so many military are in danger of losing their homes,'' said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, a Washington-based advocacy group started in 2002 by Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans. ``No one asked them for their credit score when we asked them to fight for us.''
An Army or Marine Corps sergeant with four years of experience makes $27,000 a year, plus combat pay of $225 a month, according to the 2008 Military Authorization Act, which increased basic pay rates 3.5 percent from a year ago.
Soldiers authorized to live off-base also receive a housing allowance that this year starts at about $500 a month, 7.3 percent higher than in 2007, paid even when they are deployed. Counting the stipends, they still fall short of the 2007 median U.S. household income of $59,224 as measured by the National Association of Realtors in Chicago.
Some people like to say they are wage slaves. But few are actual slaves like in our military. The Stop-loss program is outright slavery. The victims who, due to either patriotism or economic necessity, fall into this cruel system can't escape. The only way out is to get injured, go insane or commit suicide. All of which happen, alas. Somehow, it doesn't amaze me to learn that these poor people are also deep in debt. This doubles the sense of enslavement. On top of all this, in order to save money, the Pentagon and the GOP have cut the education funds to the bone. The only thing they have raised were two: the bonus paid for escapees to stay in the meat grinder and the death payments. If you die in combat and this is a daily occurrence, then the bereaved families get a fairly big pay out.
But that is like winning a very demonic lottery! If the family member goes insane after the fourth cycle through the meat grinder, the families get nothing. Suicides=$0. On top of everything, the military families were caught in the crocodile's jaws during the housing bubble. Since they earn below the average incomes, since they have a high rate of bad things happening such as going insane when they come home, the average military family qualified for the most toxic loans. Now, less than three years later, they are losing their grip on the home base.
This is very obnoxious. The military wastes half a trillion a year on weapons systems and all sorts of military/industrial stuff but when it comes to the actual humans who have to do the hard labor, suddenly it is Walmart time. The US is going bankrupt. But it is not the fault of the humans who are doing the dying for the imperial powers. They are victims. And like all tools, are cast aside in favor of building more jets, more missiles, more aircraft carriers. And huge, huge profits for the vultures who own the privatized military procurement systems.
I would kindly suggest the US government tax the incomes and bonuses of all the Halliburton creeps, all the Boeing leeches, all the Martin Marietta marionette manipulators, all of the Big Money Bags. Better still, force them to patrol Bagdad. This money is not trivial. This action can raise a good $5-20 billion dollars, easy. Without clipping the incomes of these traitors too severely. I would really like to see every penny they got via military contracts be seized and handed over the the soldiers and their families.
Japan's moneylenders offer banks a lesson in risk management
THEY would call a borrower's workplace a dozen times in an hour demanding repayment. Or send debt collectors to his home in the middle of the night. If the fellow said he could not pay, the representative might recommend he sell a kidney or an eye to raise the cash (and perhaps offer to remove it for him). Some of Japan's moneylenders were an ugly lot.
Yet that never stopped them from being a cornerstone of Japanese consumer finance. Around 14m people, or 10% of the population, have borrowed from a moneylender, or sarakin. There are about 10,000 firms (down from 30,000 a decade ago). The value of outstanding loans totals $100 billion. The biggest ones are publicly traded and often allied with big banks; the top seven make up 70% of the market. But in pockets of the industry, organised-crime groups, or Yakuza, are never far away, notes Jake Adelstein, an expert on Japan's tattooed mobsters.
The business fills an important niche in Japanese society. Where borrowing from the bank is considered shameful and often requires a guarantor, sarakin loans can be as little as $100, borrowers need identification but not collateral, and transactions at kiosks akin to ATM machines take just a few minutes. Loan rates used to be as high as 29.2%—in a country with near-zero official rates. After an outcry at the high levels of debt and the repayment tactics, a law in 2006 capped interest rates at 20% by 2010, and regulated collection methods. Loans were not allowed to exceed one-third of an annual salary. Sarakin were even forbidden from buying suicide insurance on borrowers, since it could lead to, ahem, “moral hazard.”
This stupid article illustrates the insanity of top economic magazines like the Economist. The fearsome lenders in Japan are NOT bankers and they do not lend so people can buy houses or live better. They lend to desperate people who are terrified or backs against the economic wall. Note this story clashes with the legend about Japanese workers saving their money so mightily, it has to come to the US to fund our housing bubbles. And that there is a 'savings surplus' rather than the obvious savings dearth we are actually seeing.
And the stupid line about the feeling of 'shame' which cause these poor people to go to the vicious, criminal Yakuza for petty cash? OH MY GOD. This is akin to saying that dockworkers in the 1950's went to the Mafia for money because they didn't want to try entering a real bank due to their sweaty work clothes! This sort of infantile commentary should have been clipped by the editor. This is just plain common sense!
Japanese animators make fun of all this in a grim way. In last season's children's show, 'Combat Butler' the hero is a high school kid who becomes a butler to pay off his parent's Yakuza loans. The alternative is to have his kidney removed and sold!
Let's leave the brutal Japanese economic system and go back to our own brutal system. The slave soldiers are being courted by the Democrats who came up with a bill that will pay these poor people to go to school a la GI bill of yore. The present system is very parsimonious and doesn't even pay for Junior College in some Podunk Pothole in the Hinterlands.
Sen. John McCain on Monday defended his opposition to a Democratic bill that would expand education benefits for veterans, saying it would hurt the military that he hopes to lead.
The new GI Bill being debated in Congress would expand education benefits for veterans who served at least three years in the military after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The bill's main sponsor, Sen. Jim Webb, is a Virginia Democrat and, like McCain, a Vietnam War veteran. The Senate passed Webb's bill 75-22 last week. McCain was not in Washington for the vote.
"In my life, I have learned more from noncommissioned officers I have known and served with than anyone else outside my family," McCain said at a Memorial Day event in Albuquerque.
"They are very hard to replace. Encouraging people to choose to not become noncommissioned officers would hurt the military and our country very badly."
Several things here: the promise in all the ads soliciting soldiers who are unaware of the stop/loss trap, if they join, they get a free education. I would suggest, this is an education in the school of Very Hard If Not Fatal Knocks. It you survive intact and not insane, consider yourself lucky. This is 'The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress' only the lunar landscape is Iraqi.
The Pentagon money bags are all worried they will RUN OUT OF SOLDIERS if they can exit and get an education. That is, the ones without brain damage or emotional collapse. Or dead. The Pentagon NEEDS these people and so they want to CLOSE ALL DOORS TO ESCAPING THIS TRAP! Isn't that dear?
I say, pack these generals into a Humvee and send them on patrol! In Sadr City! Send McCain, too. McCain has been sparring with Obama over this bill. Bush is going to veto it, of course. Note that any bill handing out endless loot to the military/industrial complex gets passed with little hoo-ha but these sorts of bills, since the money goes to normal people and not pirates, vultures and crocodiles, these bills get vetoed. Again, why do 'I love the military soldiers' people support the GOP? They should hate the bastards.
Here is a student newspaper editorial from a Midwestern state:
President Bush has threatened to veto the measure, citing the high domestic price tag and the potential the benefits could entice soldiers to leave the service after only three years putting additional strain on an already stretched military force.
Though student newspaper editorial boards hail additional support for veterans, some question if this bill is the best way to express the nations gratitude.
Indiana Daily Student----On paper, it looks like an exceptional deal. A feat of bipartisan cooperation conceived out of deep concern for Americas returning veterans, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007, sponsored by Jim Webb, D-Va., was recently passed by the House and is headed to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain.
But the military, initially expected by most to support the measure, is quickly forming an opposition. The main failure of the bill, critics argue, is that it will place an enormous strain on an already thinly stretched force, as those who have served their 36 months might take off to pursue their degree. While recruiting would be improved because of the benefits, retention would likely plummet, and the cost of training new recruits would be significant.
Some even suspect that this bill is an underhanded attempt to end the war in Iraq by overextending the militarys budget to the point where it cannot continue to fight overseas.
While almost everyone agrees that we as Americans are forever indebted to our veterans and that they are certainly deserving of generous benefits, a bill that does this at the cost of bringing our military to its knees is simply not worthwhile. Regardless of opinion on our countrys current military engagements, bleeding the armed forces to death in the name of veteran benefits is not the way to solve the debate. Read more.
Mercy me. If the students working for this demented paper think it is BAD for soldiers to go to their crummy school, why don't they be patriotic and ENLIST IN THEIR STEAD? This is called 'trading places'. The yellow elephants never look in mirrors. They stomp onwards through life like Bush and Cheney and preen themselves for being patriots while being complete cowards. These student editors should set a good example and get themselves retained for at least 5 stints in the Iraq hell.
Also in the news is the trial of protestors who demand our ghoulish gulag in Gitmo be closed.
From January, 2007, the Supreme Court protest:
The trial for this protest is now happening today. Amazingly, the Washington Post has it featured on the front page. My jaw dropped. Is this paper finally seeing the light? Reforming itself before it is too late? The Überkriegzeitung, the New York Times, is not covering this story. No shock here. After all, the victims of this unconstitutional hellhole are all Muslims. No important prisoners. No hedge fund associates. No real estate moguls like Trump. Actually, they should go there for a stint. Cheney and Bush should be there. Anyone who talks about obliterating humans in a war should go there, too.
Thirty-five people accused of staging an illegal demonstration at the Supreme Court went on trial yesterday and used the proceedings to renew their complaints about conditions at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Many of the 22 men and 13 women wore orange jumpsuits to show solidarity with detainees. They were arrested Jan. 11, accused of illegally protesting on the grounds of the Supreme Court, a misdemeanor that carries up to 60 days in jail.
The demonstration occurred on the sixth anniversary of the opening of the detention facility, which was set up to house terrorism suspects. Yesterday, the defendants continued to make political statements about the treatment of detainees as their trial began in D.C. Superior Court.
As a clerk for Judge Wendell P. Gardner Jr. took attendance, each defendant stood up, gave his or her name and spoke the name of someone they described as a Guantanamo detainee. Some of the prisoners mentioned died at the prison. The gesture was meant to give the detainees a voice in court.
Bravo. This is true bravery. This is brave hearts. This is what we are supposed to admire. Anyone resisting tyranny. Anyone resisting illegal wars, illegal detentions, human rights violations, crimes against humanity.