Bob Herbert, an honest journalist, quotes:

'The Pew Hispanic Center: in the year following the official end of the Great Recession in June 2009, foreign-born workers in the U.S. gained 656,000 jobs while native-born workers lost 1.2 million. But even as the hiring of immigrants picked up during that period, those same workers “experienced a sharp decline in earnings.”'

Karen Garcia
New Paltz, NY

When a poll shows that 80 percent of Americans are just fine with being groped and x-rayed by $10-an-hour TSA workers in the name of "safety," I'd say that people are not just in denial. They're in such despair that they've become numb. Unless the results of the survey are bogus (and that is entirely possible), we have not only given up on the American dream. We have given up on feeling human.

Of course, the denial starts at the very top. President Obama seems to think people care about bipartisanship and "the tone" - whatever that is. I shudder to think he is concerned about ordinary people losing sleep over the lack of civility in Washington. Does he really think we elected him to embrace Republicans? Does he really not get what his job description is?

Those blessed polls also showed that only three percent of Americans considered the Afghanistan War to be their priority in the midterm elections. Naturally, it's the economy and jobs that have people worried - not a faraway war that never touches them directly. So, we are kicking the can down the road for another three years before even thinking of ending th.at debacle. Have you noticed that 2014 seems to be a magic number? It's the same year the real meat of the Health Reform Act takes effect, too. Right after the elections - again. Surprise, surprise.

Forget the Republicans - they are traitors to all but their rich friends. Their only interest is keeping themselves in power and making sure the owners of most of the wealth in this country can keep what they have. Mayor Bloomberg boasts that New York City is a "luxury town." His corporate nominee for schools chancellor has bragged she takes cabs everywhere. Yet a photo in The Times showed her getting into a chauffeured limousine. These people have so much power and money, they have no need for shame.

I really don't understand Americans. In France, the people went on strike when the retirement age was raised to 62. In Britain, they rioted when university tuition was raised. A millionaire member of the House of Lords was forced to resign when he made a Barbara Bush-like statement that the common people as well-off as ever. In Hong Kong, citizens took to the streets when business tycoons offered to shell out $16 million apiece to contribute to the country's social security system. The people would rather the bigshots be taxed directly to avoid a conflict of interest. Can you imagine the Forbes List billionaires or the Koch Brothers offering to help cash-strapped Americans? Me neither.

Maybe it's because we are such an immense, culturally diverse nation that we can't find common cause. Maybe change has to start at the local level because Washington has become so irrelevant to our daily lives. Maybe we should shut off the TV and get involved in our communities to regain our humanity. Or, we could all head out to airports next Wednesday whether we have tickets or not, and protest the government violations of our Fourth Amendment rights. It has to start with us, or it won't happen at all.

Matt Connolly

We spend more on education than any other nation yet the performance of the students is still falling. More teachers, less teachers, more hours, less hours, longer years, shorter years, new techniques, old techniques it all comes down to the same result: overall educational standards are dropping.

Your solution more money will add to the deficit which you bemoan as an additional burden on the kids being born today while guaranteeing nothing will change. Even had we had a smart pill we could give to the kids today that would make them all bright, it would still be 16 years to wait for the results. So preaching education won't cut it.

The truth is America has become a fat tired Sumo wrestler. It's put on too much weight to be a contender anymore. The sad fact is there is no solution as long as we think war is the answer, use mercenary troops, and ignore our continual battles (America has fought in more wars since WWII than the rest of the nations of the world added together) then we have no hope.

Right now we use our most creative minds thinking up ways to kill people or to come up with money betting scams in our financial industry. It is not the way it was supposed to be.

Aachen, Germany

Forget the dream to get the lost jobs back.

One key aspect of Globalization is, that it creates value from the regional separation of producers and consumers. Production costs of standard goods are reduced by a transfer of production to countries with low wages, while the revenues remain high by selling the goods in the shops of rich countries. That is exactly was has happened between the USA and China.

On the short term, this system produces huge profits for the international companies that are managing it. On the long term, it is only useful for the new production regions. The sure loser are the workers and engineers of the old, former production region. Initially, they can buy cheaper goods and feel wealthier. This is a sweet poison, that the US middle class is now recognizing too late. It is only logical, that after some time they lose their jobs and purchasing power. This process ist almost impossible to revers once it has taken place.

If a country like the USA, would now perform a radical turn and handicap the import of "globalized" goods with tariffs, the first thing happening would be a crash of the stock markets. Secondly, international trade would break down, because other countries would react with counter measures. Everybody would increase tariffs to protect their home markets. Most goods would get a sharp increase of prices and almost all complex production processes would be interrupted and stand still. In other words, the world would fall in the worst imaginable economic crisis.

There are ways to improve the current situation, but they are all painful and take time. Most important is a strong political will and a social consensus to do a u-turn and to bear its consequences. This is what has happened in Germany 8 years ago and now starts to show some fruits. There were tax increases, reductions of wages, investments in education, and painful adjustments of the social services. For the USA I am not optimistic within the next 5 years, because the necessary political and social consensus is nowhere to see. Instead, there is a risk of sharp social conflicts with a radicalization of internal politics.


I live in a town where due to budget overruns, our new middle school was left with an empty library/media center. That's right, it's almost December and there are still no books, no shelving, and no furniture for 5th and 6th graders. Our re-elected Republican state senator bragged on his campaign mailer that he saved the district $425,000 on the cost of building the school. Where? The toilets constantly overflow, the drinking water in fountains is warm, the sinks dribble water to wash your hands, the intercom system doesn't work, the main office and library still have cement floors, mismatched used furniture is in the classrooms and falling apart, doors don't work, lockers are already broken, electrical outlets in the classroom malfunction, lights constantly burn out, there is no playground equipment so students stand around on recess, the internet doesn't work on classroom computers, and the white boards in most of the classrooms still can't be used (most likely due to the obvious electrical problem). You'd think parents would be protesting in front of town hall or the school. You'd be wrong. Did I mention that due to our mayor refusing to increase our education budget we laid off teachers and aides, now have pay to play sports teams, reduced school library hours (if you have a school with a functioning library), and our classroom size went from an average of 19 to 26. I live in a Republican strong-hold where our Republican mayor has kept property taxes lower than surrounding towns. During education budget discussions a small group of parents protested in favor of an increase in front of town hall. The majority of parents said they didn't want their taxes increased $100 a year to pay for the needed increase. One even remarked that our teachers were overpaid. How much should we pay them? Thirty thousand a year was her reply. Ignorance is no longer bliss but inexcusably stupid and destructive. We've had 3 bomb scares in the last 2 weeks at our high school and intermediate school. One third of the students are overweight, with a majority of those downright obese. There are few sidewalks for children to walk or ride their bikes on, our roads have potholes, and five teenage drivers/passengers were killed last year due to alcohol use or speeding. But hey, we have low taxes.
I've just sold my home. We'll be moving to a town with much higher taxes, but one where a quality public education is a priority for the residents. Where learning is not just valued, but supported and encouraged and children are given the necessary tools to compete and succeed in the 21st century.

New York, NY

Human societies decline as a consequence of the cultures they choose to adopt. Cultures are based on ideas. Americans chose to enthusiastically embrace an incomplete eighteenth century idea called the 'Invisible Hand Theory.'This theory is incomplete because it failed to think through what competition really is and what the consequences are. Competition is survival and once in the market place there is no choice for a business but to seek to dominate that market by selling the goods or services that offer the best value for money. This is known as commanding the price point. This pressure to command the price point results in a downside. Production costs need to be constantly monitored and driven down wherever possible to maintain or achieve price point pole position. This will result in a constant search to find the best opportunity costs. The larger the business the more ability it has to do this. Today large corporations are responsible for 50% of the world's output of good and services. Today these corporations scour the planet looking for the lowest wages they can pay, the least environmental pollution restrictions and the governments that are best at rigging national and international markets to further the sales of businesses operating on their territory. The executives of businesses are, therefore, so absorbed in chasing price point they fail to see the consequences of their actions. Why should they if it appears to personally benefit them with the enormous rewards they can engineer for themselves? They fail to see that not only are they causing a collapse in demand in developed economies subjected to job outsourcing. They fail to see that polluting the planet will ultimately kill off human societies ability to survive. This in brief is why the Invisible Hand Theory is an incomplete theory and why Americans need to smarten up and recognize it as such.

Bowie Arizona

1. I challenge anyone to tell us where we can create the number of new jobs that we need to go back to full employment. Technology is eliminating jobs everywhere and the technology is getting better. Let him consider 3D printing and robotics which will reduce the number of manufacturing jobs even when we stop much of the importing. These technologies are making it cheaper to manufacture here than import from cheap labor countries. 2. The American educational system was destroyed by the middle class not by the bean counters. When I was a boy way back when we had a quality educational system and public institutions like City College and U.C. Berkley were better than the best ivy league schools, public education was controlled by elites not the electorate. As control of education changed the middle class elected to "protect" their own children. The first indication of change was symbolic, high school football coaches were paid more than the teachers and even the principals. Then the voters used their power to lower standards, they could not have their children with low grades, which would keep them out of better colleges, or heaven forbid fail, it would damage their pysches. So we got grade inflation. Then the middle class undermined the value of education by telling their children that they themselves, auto workers and truck drivers, made more money than their teachers. Finally the middle class made a Faustian deal with the government, it would allow the Viet Nam war if we had "guns and butter" and draft exemptions for college students. Colleges seeing a way to expand obliged by lowering standards so that people could keep their draft exemptions.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves," We the people of the U.S. are responsible for our mess. There will always be predators around like the Wall Street crowd to take advantage but they exploit not initiate opportunities. The recent bubbles were caused by the public desire to make money the easy way.

Changing how government acts is easy, it takes one or two elections. Changing the values that we live by is much harder.


I am first generation immigrant but this is what i feel about avg Americans: They are extremely misinformed about rest of the world specially the other industrialized nations. They still don't believe that those nations have better health indicators than USA at 1/3rd costs. They don't know that many of these so called socialist countries are more competitive than USA on all rankings. So called western Europe has more companies in top 500 than USA. And those companies do extremely well even without outsourcing and providing much better vacation, benefits and first world salaries to their employees.

Rules like filibuster are setup so that no major change can be accomplished in favor of avg Americans which puts a dent in wealth of super-rich (Lieberman blocking public option or buying in of Medicaid is a great example of that). Top 1% knows that in a democracy, then can not rule against the will of other 99%. So they are trying their best to divert the attention to whatever sticks: skin color, false war in name of security and above all socialism. Unless and until other people unite or the Manchurian army of these right wing could see thru this plan of super-rich, there is no hope.


It doesn't take very much to look around and see significant cultural shifts perpetuated by business. Democracy is a catch word empty of real content.

Information is largely generated by marketing. Journalism as noted by the recent Ted Koppel article has been replaced by opinion. Television has always been driven by $ but the support for populist shows has simply moved a political dialog into the realm of tabloid. Perhaps those politicians who seem entrenched in this kind of public interface are those who embody those characteristics. What we see mirrored back to us in a Sara Palin and Glen Beck is the face of a talk show.

We now market everything through the media and see the business model increasingly in the public sector.
We are told this is done to reduce costs. But we have also lost the notion of a public sector and the value of what it is to be a citizen. Any issue is about $. The public sector was put in place to counter the business machine. What has happened to our that? What is good for America is not a priority, consumer protection a dirty word. Business is entrenched in politics. So if business is the driving force, how has that impacted on our current state, Republicans?

Consider the losses driven by business interests: War! Trade agreements and outsourcing that work against
the American worker, our dilemma with immigrant labor.

Corporations have created the malling of America (I remember my mother complaining about how many new malls were being built in her neighborhood. She said in a few
years, they will be all be empty. What a waste!) and a decrease of small business (how many Rite Aides does any community need?)

Large corporations control the product marketing, material, production and retail. Along the way, this process has impacted on every part of our lives. We are increasingly a captive market, sheep. We sign contracts for the smallest of services and pay fees for canceling all of which have nothing to do with the ordinary consumer except to fine those least able to pay. Read the small print.

We are consuming a life style that is largely untenable....one bent on fast food, entertainment, vast amounts of stuff often plastic that is made to be outdated and marketing that prices for status. The marketing is directed at the masses who are clearly over their head.

All in all the government, and a public that is struggling to protect whatever is seems to have left is
being shifted away from what is necessary for its integrity and well being...education, public service...
protection of the environment and all of those things I may have missed that have to do with values.
In finding solutions, we need to pay attention to the bigger picture.

John Kerr
San Francisco

The United States had a free lunch for 30 years after the Second World War, with little competition. Returning service men were hard working and ambitious. They studied things like engineering and propelled the country for decades as "can do" Americans. We had an abundance of cheap energy and cheap food. They created Silicon Valley and were succeeded their by a generation of creative people, often immigrants.

Now we are faced with competing with a new world of highly educated and motivated technicians, much like our fathers, and we have to earn our way in the world. We won't achieve it by griping in the New York Times. Among other things we have to deal with:

-whether we want to grow to 400 and 500 million people so we have to create 150,000 jobs each month just to stand still.
-how do we motivate our citizenry to educate themselves at all levels in technical subjects so we can compete? We have too many lazy students with no goals in life who can't put sentences together.
-How do we get our brightest to invent, design and make things instead of joining the hoard of over-paid quick buck artists on Wall Street?

Why is Germany doing better than us? First they have fewer mouths to feed with no population growth. Second, they have a better educated and trained population selling sophisticated equipment to developing countries. Third, they have negotiated trade agreements that allow them to sell where American goods are shut out. Fourth, they highly tax gasoline to reduce the need to import endless oil. Fifth, they lack a financial center like Wall Street or the City that drain the brain pool. Sixth, the country lives within its means and people don't spend money they don't have. Seventh, they never stop training their workers, who often work for mid-sized, specialized industrial companies.

Their is no free lunch. Going back to the days when unskilled, unionized workers live like the upper middle class is not going to happen.

Our country needs to stop whining and improve the way we do things. There no longer is a free lunch.


Anonymous said...

TSA chief: Resisting scanners just means delays
By RAY HENRY, Associated Press Ray Henry, Associated Press
Tue Nov 23, 8:58 am ET

.ATLANTA – Despite tough talk on the Internet, there was little if any indication of a passenger revolt at many major U.S. airports, with very few people declining the X-ray scan that can peer through their clothes. Those who refuse the machines are subject to a pat-down search that includes the crotch and chest.

Many travelers said that the scans and the pat-down were not much of an inconvenience, and that the stepped-up measures made them feel safer and were, in any case, unavoidable.

"Whatever keeps the country safe, I just don't have a problem with," Leah Martin, 50, of Houston, said as she waited Monday to go through security at the Atlanta airport.

At New York's LaGuardia Airport early Tuesday, Jeannine St. Amand got a pat-down in front of her husband and two children. The 45-year-old from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, figured she got one because the underwire of her bra tripped the metal detector.

"It's hard to remember all the restrictions. Next time, I'll wear a different bra," she said.

She opted to have the pat-down in public rather than private and said it was professional and done by a female agent.

"She tells you ahead of time what she is going to do, which is a good thing because that could be awkward," St. Amand said.

Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole pleaded with Thanksgiving travelers for understanding and urged them not to boycott full-body scans on Wednesday. It would only snarl what is already one of the busiest, most stressful flying days of the and would only "tie up people who want to go home and see their loved ones," he said.

"We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren't necessary," he said, "but that just isn't the case."

He noted the alleged attempt by a Nigerian with explosives in his underwear to bring down a plane over Detroit last Christmas.

About two-thirds of Americans support using the full-body scanners to increase security, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Tuesday. But half of the 514 adults surveyed by phone said the more rigorous pat-downs go too far.

At Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Gehno Sanchez, a 38-year-old from San Francisco who works in marketing, said he doesn't mind the full-body scans. "I mean, they may make you feel like a criminal for a minute, but I'd rather do that than someone touching me," he said.

A loosely organized Internet campaign is urging people to refuse the scans on Wednesday in what is being called National Opt-Out Day. The extra time needed to pat down people could cause a cascade of delays at dozens of major airports, including those in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.

"Just one or two recalcitrant passengers at an airport is all it takes to cause huge delays," said Paul Ruden, a spokesman for the American Society of Travel Agents, which has warned its more than 8,000 members about delays. "It doesn't take much to mess things up anyway."

Most who don't like the screenings just grumble but don't really cause a big fuss, at least not that Cris Soulia, a TSA officer in San Diego and president of a local union, has heard or seen.

"We're not here groping people. We're not here molesting people. We're checking them for items and explosives. And yes, explosives can be hidden in the groin area," she said.

Anonymous said...

More than 400 imaging units are being used at about 70 airports. Since the new procedures began Nov. 1, 34 million travelers have gone through checkpoints and less than 3 percent are patted down, according to the TSA.

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs said the government is "desperately" trying to balance security and privacy and will take the public's concerns and complaints into account as it evaluates the new, more stringent boarding checks.

The American Civil Liberties Union has received more than 600 complaints over three weeks from passengers who say they were subjected to humiliating pat-downs at U.S. airports, and the pace is accelerating, according to ACLU legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese.

"It really drives home how invasive it is and unhappy they are," he said.

Ricky D. McCoy, a TSA screener and president of a union local in Illinois and Wisconsin, said the atmosphere has changed in the past two weeks for officers in his region. Since word of the pat-downs hit the headlines, officers have been punched, pushed or shoved six times after they explained what would be happening, McCoy said.

"We have major problems because basically TSA never educated the public on what was going on," he said. "Our agency pretty much just threw the new search techniques out there."

Stories of alleged heavy-handed treatment by TSA agents captured people's imagination.

A bladder cancer survivor from Michigan who wears a bag that collects his urine said its contents spilled on his clothing after a security agent at a Detroit airport patted him down roughly.

Tom Sawyer, a 61-year-old retired special education teacher, said the Nov. 7 experience left him in tears. "I was absolutely humiliated. I couldn't even speak," he told MSNBC.com.

During an appearance on CBS, the TSA's Pistole expressed "great concern over anybody who feels like they have not been treated properly or had something embarrassing" happen.

A video showing a shirtless young boy resisting a pat-down at Salt Lake City's airport has become a YouTube sensation and led to demands for an investigation from Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, an outspoken critic of TSA screening methods. The video of the unidentified boy was shot Friday by a bystander with a cell phone.

The TSA said in a blog posting that nobody has to disrobe at an airport checkpoint apart from removing shoes and jackets. According to the TSA, the boy was being searched because he triggered an alarm inside a metal detector, and his father removed the youngster's shirt to speed up the screening.

The boycott campaign was launched Nov. 8 by Brian Sodergren, who lives in Ashburn, Va., and works in the health care industry.

"I just don't think the government has the right to look under people's clothes with no reasonable cause, no suspicion other than purchasing a plane ticket," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

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