Friday, July 30, 2010

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

"You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way."
Will Rodgers (1879 - 1935), New York Times, Dec. 23, 1929

The Powder Ridge People's Festival 1970

I was there for four days and nights from Thursday through Sunday. It was the beginning of my radicalization along with the first Earth Day and Vietnam War Moratorium that same year. The Powder Ridge People's Festival was truly a tribal experience with more than 30,000 young people learning to care for one another without the benefit of electricity, water or food. My friend Marc and I were recruited to run the Free Store which was next to the Free Kitchen. We started off with a limited stock of canned food and rice that grew exponentially from donations as the weekend progressed. By Sunday we had enough supplies to feed an army and we did just that. The drug culture of 1970 was never more apparent than it was at Powder Ridge. There were illicit "drug stores" set up on both sides of the main drag with make-shift counter tops advertising the "very best", "Acapulco Gold", "Panama Red", Mescaline, Mushrooms and Acid. People were making love everywhere you looked, under blankets, in the bushes, in old school buses. Yes, there were flying pigs in helicopters and the flying rumors abounded. A young man was apparently screaming in delirium that the band "Ten Years After" was about to preform on the main stage. By Saturday the pond was posted with the skull and crossbones. We trusted in each other, we learned and we survived with a smile.

Powder Ridge Rock Festival: The Greatest Concert That Never Happened

Forty Years Ago, There Would Have Been Much Music In Middlefield

It was called the greatest rock concert that never happened. The Powder Ridge Rock Festival, 40 years ago this weekend, promised that the biggest names in the business — Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, Sly and the Family Stone —would play on the grassy slopes of the winter ski resort. But a last-minute court order prevented the bands from ever taking the stage.

Some 30,000 people showed up anyway, many camping for nearly a week on the sylvan hillside. On the roads, determined state troopers encircled the 300-acre area. The town cut off electricity, hoping to drive away this youth invasion. The kids stayed on, strumming guitars, pounding drums and swallowing drugs that turned the sky into melting rainbows.
"Welcome to the Powder Ridge People's Festival," a bearded youth from San Francisco proclaimed to visitors at the gate. "One birth. No deaths, and the most beautiful [mind-blowing experience] you've ever been to."
The Powder Ridge Rock Festival — which was to be held July 31, Aug. 1 and Aug 2, 1970, at the ski area — has entered into local folklore. "Imagine," said Susan VanDerzee, editor of the local newspaper, The Town Times. "Janis Joplin was going to perform in Middlefield! This story just resonates with people. The festival was less than a year after Woodstock, and for people who didn't make it there, this was a chance to experience what that was like."
Powder Ridge owner Lou Zemel envisioned a modest music festival. "It looked like a good opportunity," said Zemel's son, David, who goes by the original family name of Zemelsky. "Summer is a tough time for ski resorts. This was a chance to make some extra money."
A decade earlier, Lou and Herman Zemel were the appliance kings of Connecticut, their brash newspaper ads promising unbeatable deals on ranges and color TVs. But Lou had tired of the hard sell. He dreamed of owning a ski resort, and in the late 1950s, persuaded Herman to join him on a venture to develop 250 acres of wooded slopes on Beseck Mountain, on the Middlefield-Meriden border.
"He loved to ski, and I think he thought of [Powder Ridge] as his retirement job," Zemelsky said. The Powder Hill Ski Area, as it was originally called, opened in the winter of 1960 and attracted crowds because of its up-to-date amenities. The resort boasted a Swiss-style lodge with an open fireplace and saunas where skiers eased aching muscles after a day on the slopes. Lights were installed for night skiing, and snowmaking machines worked their magic when Mother Nature wouldn't cooperate. It was a success. Still, what do you do in the summer?

A Folk Music Tanglewood

Lou Zemel was deeply involved in left-wing politics. He could count among his friends Pete Seeger and the Weavers, Joan Baez and other folk singers of the civil rights and anti-war movements. Zemel envisioned at Powder Ridge a folk music Tanglewood, where people could gather in the idyllic mountain setting, listen to music and talk about a better world. Music festivals would also solve the summer cash-flow problem when the ski lifts sat idle.
In the summer of 1963, the Weavers became the first group to play Powder Ridge. Seeger and Baez came the following summer. The Baez concert was a big hit, drawing more than 3,000. But when residents complained about all the traffic clogging their country lanes, Lou Zemel decided to take a break from the concert business. For the next six years, there were no big events.
Then, in 1969, Woodstock happened. Seven months later, Zemel was approached by a group of New York businessmen calling themselves Middleton Arts International. They had a tantalizing offer: For a generous sum, Middleton would lease the ski area for a three-day rock festival of Woodstock bands. Names included Joplin, James Taylor, Sly and the Family Stone, the Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Grand Funk Railroad, Richie Havens and more.
The New York promoters also offered a nuisance fee of $10,000 to placate Middlefield town officials.
Fifty thousand tickets went on sale and in just a few weeks, nearly half were sold.
Townspeople were nervous, voicing concerns at local meetings. Zemel tried to reassure his neighbors. "These are wonderful kids," he told the newspapers. "I believe the entire country can learn something from the way in which this festival is handled here, both by a healthy welcoming attitude from the residents and competent planning by the producers." Residents were skeptical.
A legal battle began with suits and countersuits. On July 27, 1970, days before the rock festival was to open, Superior Court Judge Aaron Palmer issued an injunction barring the event. The court order threatened performers with arrest if they showed up.
In the previous weeks, the mysterious New York promoters had vanished, making off with perhaps $500,000 in ticket sales. Some suspected it was a scam from the start.

13 Kids In A VW

In spite of state police ringing the area, thousands of young people were finding a way in. "The kids just parked their cars and walked," said former Middlefield resident Bob Rand, who was 18 at the time. "The cops let the locals pass. I had a VW bug and was picking up kids along Route 66. I remember trying to squeeze 13 kids in the car."
Local boys led parties of young people with backpacks full of camping gear over the back side of Beseck Mountain like Indian guides. By Saturday, the crowd at Powder Ridge had grown to about 30,000.
Lou Zemel was frantic. "I've got anarchy on my property," he screamed into the phone. Zemel had contacted Mark Masselli, then 19 and working at a Wesleyan University summer program. " 'Anarchy' is not a word you would expect from Lou Zemel if you knew his politics," Masselli said. "He was desperate."
Already a seasoned community organizer, Masselli was enlisted to help out, making sure everyone had food and water and comforting those freaking out on drugs. "They gave me a 650 Norton [motorcycle], which I rode from Powder Ridge to the police roadblocks to see what was happening," said Masselli, who is now president of the Community Health Center, with headquarters in Middletown. "The problem was I had never ridden a motorcycle before."
Most people have happy, if hazy, memories of what was dubbed the "unfestival." "It was a great time," Rand said. "It didn't seem to matter that none of the bands were coming. People just made their own music and camped on the hill. There were even families there."
Looking at the sea of multicolored tents pitched along the ski slopes, with people cooking meals over open fires, it could almost be a Boy Scout jamboree — but with a lot more hair and fewer clothes.
The peaceful gathering of campers on the mountain was in stark contrast to the heavy drug scene at the foot of the hill. In this area dubbed "The City," dealers pushed through the crowd, crying "Acid, mescaline, acid, mescaline!" William Abruzzi, M.D., medical director at the Woodstock festival, would later tell Life magazine that the drug scene at Powder Ridge was far worse than that at Woodstock, with hundreds of "bad trips."
Sanitation was another problem. Festivalgoers cooled off, mostly without clothes, at the pond at the foot of the slopes. "The Powder Puddle" had to be closed to swimming because of high bacteria counts.
The high point was the performance by Melanie, the only headliner to show up. Because electricity had been shut off, the popular folk singer played her hits "Lay Down (Candles In the Rain)" and "What Have They Done To My Song Ma" with her equipment plugged into the generator of a Mr. Softee truck. "It was a beautiful moment," Masselli said.
Touching, also, was the reaction of residents as the crowds began their trek home. Locals, waiting out on their lawns, met the bedraggled kids with sandwiches and water from their garden hoses.
Townspeople never forgave Lou Zemel. His son David, now 59, remembers the shame of those years and how his father strove to make it up to people, offering discounts on ski passes to locals, sometimes letting them ski free.
David now runs an organic farm in Durham. People say nobody beats Zemelsky's tomatoes.

(Reprinted from The Hartford Courant 07/30/10)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Who's The Boss?

"He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money."

Benjamin Franklin

After looking at the pattern since Eisenhower warned us about the "Military, Industrial Complex"; we can see who is really in charge of this country and it is not the "elected" officials. Heck, the very idea of free elections is a fallacy. Just look how the election was compromised in 2000. The first draft of Eisenhower's farewell address also included the word "Congressional" (which he was forced to remove) and today we can easily add the words "Media" and "Corporate Lobby". While it is true that Eisenhower warned us about this toxic threat to democracy in his farewell address, he did nothing while in office to check it's progress and merely passed the warning down to the next guy, JFK.

Now there is something even more fearsome than the tyrannical military industrial complex. After the military, the largest component of America's National Security State since 9/11, is a great and out of control intelligence apparatus. No one knows how many people are involved, who they are or what they do. We do know that more than half of the intelligence personnel are private contractors and have little or no accountability to the tax payers. Furthermore, the mass of information that is collected by these shadow governments is so great that it cannot even be analyzed.

In the end, this country's power base lies with the Oligarchy and relegates the authority of those we think have been elected to basically two roles;
1) Cheerleaders for the super wealthy power base and,
2) As a buffer between the classes to make the motives of the rich at least somewhat digestible to the majority.
If anyone in particular steps too far beyond their particular given role, they will at best be marginalized with threats to their family and livelihood and at worst eliminated. How often would CBS's Katie Couric consider exposing Big Pharma consumer crimes while enjoying an annual salary of $15 million sponsored by the drug industry? Would PBS's Gwen Ifill report on the war crimes of the corporate empire while gaining free access to Washington power brokers and commanding a comfortable salary from her corporate sponsor Boeing?

And at the top of the food chain, we need only to look at what happened to John Kennedy (see "JFK and The Unspeakable") along with Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy and all the rest. They all were killed as soon as they got too close to the truth and were perceived as too threatening to the Oligarchs.
Furthermore, in our time, the concept of "Plausible Denial" has become so outdated that atrocities can now be committed in the bright light of day. (See Cheney and torture). It is simply more efficient to defer accountability when excuses might get you into trouble. It is this same adage that tells us that dictators make the most efficient leaders.

So Who is the Boss? Just look what happened to JFK and you will have your answer.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

JFK, 9/11 and Blood for Oil

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

Frederick Douglass (1817 - 1895), Speech, April 1886

The 9/11 Truth movement says that it was not the airplanes that brought down the twin towers but controlled demolition, plotted by those who seek endless war with the goal of keeping their power base intact by deception of the the majority. One thing is absolutely certain. There was a massive cover up only equalled by the Warren Commission Report on the JFK assassination.
Two recent things piqued my interest.
The repeat of a PBS "Nova" special ... See More
called "The Spy Factory". In the report, NSA information preceding the 9/11 attacks was deliberately withheld from the FBI and other agencies. It was reported that this was due to interagency jealously and competition as well as incompetence. The 9/11 Commission never investigated this stuff and white-washed a huge amount of information.
These were very same reasons and methods used during the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination.
After reading "JFK, The Unspeakable" I have concluded that nothing is beyond belief. If these powers were able to kill a president in 1963, then one can imagine the capabilities now that those powers have grown exponentially. Just look at the Downing St. Memos, Operation Able-Danger and the Pakistani ISI.
Once again, I say follow the money trail and let's ask ourselves who had the most to gain.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Heads I Win, Tales You Lose

"A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining but wants it back the minute it begins to rain."

Mark Twain

Rich or Poor? Either Way Someone is Going to be Taxed.
by William Cibes

Anatole France observed that "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread."

If only the law, in its majestic equality, also asked the rich, as well as the poor, to share alike in helping pay for a civilized society in which no one would have to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and visit soup kitchens and food pantries to get a square meal. Government provides the stability, under a rule of law, that businesses need in order to flourish, and the safety and security from predators that distinguishes our society from one of anarchy and chaos. So shouldn't the rich, as well as the poor, pay at least an equal percentage share of their income in taxes?

Unfortunately, in Connecticut, the rich pay less of a share of their income than do the poor. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy says that the 20 percent of non-elderly taxpayers with the lowest family incomes (less than $26,000 annually) pay on average 12 percent of their income for state and local taxes. The richest 1 percent pay only 6.5 percent of their family income for these taxes — and because they can deduct these taxes on their federal tax returns, the net cost to these families, with family income greater than $1.355 million annually, is about 4.9 percent of their incomes.

Some might say that the richest 1 percent of Connecticut taxpayers should be given a break on their tax bills because they contribute more to the economy than the poor. But in view of recent events, it could be argued that the very wealthy have in fact not been good economic stewards: having a greater share of discretionary income than the poor, many of them deployed it in imprudent ways, engaging in schemes that no one fully understood, exposing us all to a high risk of loss.

The supposed guardians of the free market were asleep at the switch. It's hard to argue that the facilitators of the Great Recession should pay less than their fair share of taxes because they've done such a great job.

While the system appears to be recovering, the impact of the recession on state tax collections continues. And so arises the reasonable — and constitutionally required — call to eliminate the state deficit. There are two ways to do so. One is to reduce spending. The other, not so much mentioned, is to increase revenues.

It's not surprising that the popular option to cure the deficit is to avoid increasing taxes by reducing spending. But this option is also a tax. It taxes the poor by asking them to pay more for the services they receive, or to forego necessities such as food and legal and medical services they can't afford.

It is now proposed that people receiving Medicaid must make a $3 co-pay for certain medical services they receive, up to a limit of 5 percent of family income. But for a family with two breadwinners making Connecticut's minimum wage, that still means a potential, if unlikely, increase in cost of about $1,700 per year — more than this year's increase in income tax for a family earning $1.1 million annually.

Similarly, some providers are saying that the state is threatening to mandate that seniors receiving care under the Home Care Program for Elders pay 15 percent of the monthly cost, or an average of $152 per month, or $1,824 per year — a new tax that is more than the income tax increase for a family earning $1.12 million.

Another form of tax for the poor is to reduce funding for legal assistance in civil cases, curtailing access to courts for those who cannot afford to pay an attorney. As Ross Garber and Peter Kelly observed in The Hartford Courant, "when there are not enough legal aid lawyers, justice is not only denied to the poor, but impaired for everyone because courtrooms are flooded with unrepresented people."

So why is it OK to add what amounts to increased taxes for the poor and vulnerable, but not OK to ask the top 1 percent, or the top 4 percent, of taxpayers to pay at least as much in state and local taxes, in terms of a percentage of their income, as the least wealthy 95 percent of families pay?

How can we expect to have a competitive economy and a high quality of life in the future, if we don't ask all of our families to provide their fair share today for those investments — in public safety and security and access to justice, in education and human capital, in housing and transportation and other infrastructure, and in innovation— that make the future possible?

•William Cibes is chancellor emeritus of the Connecticut State University System and former secretary of the office of policy and management under Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Capitalism as Cannibalism

Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

We need to remember that capitalism, when left to it’s own devices, becomes cannibalism. Behind the scenes in Congress there is a constant battle to the death for competitive advantage. This is what greases our government. Indeed Congress spends the majority of it’s time sorting out the pugilism between the waring lobbyists who are all looking for a hair up on the next guy for a piece of the pie. This is why the people’s work never gets done. When gas prices reached $5 a gallon last summer, the people driving the big trucks and SUVs realized they had just gone into hock for a piece of junk. It was embarrassing to them and even rednecks prefer not to be publicly embarrased. The PAC money poured once again into the oil lobby but by then the music had stopped and it was too late to bring the Titanic around. The legislative pockets were no longer greased and jobs, manufacturing and the economy are always low on the list of priorities in this Darwinian Plutocracy.
In contrast, the financial sector had long ago learned that extorting the government is a much more effective way to conduct business. An incestuous relationship with the treasury and a shell game with Congress guarantees results. Manufacturing has nothing on Voodoo Economics, Zombie Banks and Toxic Assets. This is what really scares the pants off Congress and fear is something you don’t understand.

The center of power in The United States resides with the few, the wealthy, the unelected. But even guiltless lords of power can be embarrassed leaving the rest of us with a valuable tool to use in reclaiming our Democracy.

So what ever happened to the anti-trust laws, the laws enacted after the first great depression that led to the break up of the railroads, big oil, AT&T and all the other companies that are too big to fail?
Big money in Congress.
Unfortunately, when change finally comes, it is always the bottom that suffers the most.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Traveling Light

He who would travel happily must travel light.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
(1900 - 1944)

Travel Light, Enjoy it More!
By Gregory L. Banks

Is vacation traveling a drag even when your bag has wheels? Maybe you are bringing too much stuff! Most folks tend to over pack without any creative thinking. Consider the freedom and flexibility of traveling with just one carry-on bag! Flight attendants do it all of the time. If you know how to mix and match and how to get the most from what you pack, you can travel for weeks with just one bag. The following basic steps can be applied to both of the sexes.


Think Layers
It’s the most important question to ask yourself when you are packing for a trip. What will the weather be like at my destination? Will it be hot during the day and cold at night? In any case, bring light, quick drying clothing that can be worn in layers as the need arises.

Mix and Match
You can dress in reasonable style for a week or more with only three complete changes of clothing. By three changes, I mean 3 tops and 3 bottoms. You can be wearing one, one can be dirty and one is clean in reserve. More significant, if you multiply the 3 by 3 you suddenly have nine different clothing combinations! All of your clothing should be color coordinated. Before you leave home, spread every article on your mattress and determine if every single piece is visually acceptable with every other piece. Underwear and stockings are light, important for comfort and take little room, so you can afford to bring a few extras. Consider swimsuits that can double as shorts for men or for women, comfortable bathing suits make reasonable undergarments. An extra long t-shirt will make a good cover up or night shirt and a sarong can be used in dozens of ways. Since footwear and outerwear are usually the heaviest clothing articles, keep it to a minimum. In tropical climates, it works best to take along one pair of sandals and one pair of comfortable shoes or sneakers that can pass for more formal occasions. I always bring one light weight jacket or blazer for the wind, the chill or to help keep the mosquitoes at bay. You can include one heavier overcoat if your climate is a cold one, but since they take up lots of room, try to use layers instead. Bring a crush proof hat. Consider bringing a change of older clothes that you can plan on discarding as you replace them with some new ones. Always include one nice, dress up combination for those special occasions.

Washing your clothes
When I travel in the tropics, I make a habit of washing my clothes as I shower every night. Some of the best natural clothing for travel is made from silk for its lightness, strength and beauty. Many of the new nylon fabrics from your sports outfitter also have the ability to dry super fast even at room temperature. Undergarments and stockings are easily washed out in the bathroom sink. One of those round rubber jar openers makes a great universal sink stopper. You can use a dab of shampoo for a detergent. If washing your clothes in your hotel room isn’t your cup of tea, there is usually a laundromat or laundry service nearby.


A good strong belt with an internal compartment is a great idea for stashing money or other valuables. I also suggest a larger money pouch that can be worn around your neck or waist for safety and easy access. A bandana or scarf will take up little room and can be used as protection for your head, a fashion accessory or even a bandage. I always bring a thin plastic poncho for rain. Instead of a travel clock you can buy a wristwatch with an alarm that can be seen in the dark or a small radio that has a built in clock and alarm. A small LED flashlight with extra batteries is a must. Most people like to bring a small digital camera. It is important that all of your electronic accessories share the same type of batteries and the AA or AAA sizes usually work the best.
With the new carry-on restrictions, I have found it necessary to purchase a cheap, all purpose Swiss Army knife upon arrival. Bring a small sewing kit with a large enough needle to accommodate dental floss for heavy duty repairs. It is a good idea to have a small plastic bag containing a few safety pins, some small gauge cord, strong rubber bands and matches. A small roll of duct tape is important for repairs, to help seal things or as a lint remover. Take along some clear zip-lock bags of different sizes and a heavy duty garbage bag. Always bring an extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts. I bring things like sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, a writing pad, pens, maps, a travel guide and a good book. Remember that you can purchase many things after you arrive.


Once again it is important to think small. Of course you will need the essentials. Current FAA rules allow you to carry on fluids in up to 3 once bottles if they are placed in a quart size, clear, zip lock bag. Bring shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, shaving cream, a razor, a comb/hairbrush and whatever else you might need. Dental floss makes a great strong thread for repairs and can be used to tie things together. There is usually bar soap and a towel available everywhere except at campgrounds. A small first aid kit is recommended and can contain your medications, vitamins, aspirin, band aids, gauze and adhesive tape. A small bottle of iodine can sterilize a wound and a couple of drops will purify water. I always bring a box of antibacterial wipes and a small roll of toilet paper.

What to Put Everything In?

Thankfully the days of the rigid suitcase are over. There are many types of soft sided luggage now on the market. My personal favorite is called a Conversion Pack. It is basically a soft sided, carry on bag with an over the shoulder strap and hidden back straps. This allows you the option to have both hands free. Part of the fun of traveling is picking up some souvenirs along the way. I like to bring a large nylon empty duffle bag. When compressed it will take up no room on the way there but can hold lots of treasures on your way home. I also bring a smaller day bag for those day trips after I arrive. This smaller bag can also be used to carry some of your souvenirs on the way home. A reasonable alternative to the conversion pack is a regular backpack that is no larger than regulation, carry-on size. The important thing is to have your hands free. Carry-on regulations differ from airline to airline and plane to plane, but generally the length + width + height should equal 48 inches. Finally a small luggage lock that can attach to your bag’s zippers will help to keep prying hands out.

Money Counts

Don’t forget to bring your money, traveler’s checks, charge card, your passport and tickets. The US dollar is, for now, still the money standard in the Western Hemisphere. I bring two thirds of my money in smaller domination US cash with 20,s 10,s and five dollar bills; and about one third in small travelers checks as back up. Out of the way places will have trouble making change for larger bills. It is not a good idea to exchange a large amount of money at the airport or at those money changer booths when you first arrive. If anything, try to exchange a minimal amount, enough to last until you get to a bank where the best exchange rates will be. A VISA/ATM/check card combination will serve you well. ATM machines are now found in many more places and will allow you to get local cash at the current exchange rates. Check with your bank about their usual ATM service charges. These are per use charges and can be 5 dollars or more each time so it is better to withdraw a larger amount at once rather than a small amount many times. It is usually a good idea to use your charge card for larger purchases like hotels and tours but again, always ask first about extra service charges! The merchant may charge you an extra 15 percent just for the use of your card. In an emergency or as a last resort, you can take a cash advance, but remember; the rates are high and start immediately! Never exchange more cash than you will use during your trip. Many foreign currencies are worthless outside the home country. The duty free shop is a good way to use it up before you leave. Finally, be sure to save enough US cash for any surprise departure fees at the airport when leaving for home.

Make a Packing List
So get started by making a packing list. After you make your list, try to reduce it by half! Place your like items together in those clear zip lock bags and you will be able to locate everything easier.

Enjoy Your Trip!
If you can follow these basic ideas, you will discover new sense of freedom as you move from plane to train to automobile. More opportunities will be open to you when you travel light.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

End of the Long Night

“Lord, we ain’t what we want to be; we ain’t what we ought to be; we ain’t what we gonna be, but, thank God, we ain’t what we was.”

Martin Luther King Jr.
Hawaii, 1959

It is impossible not to feel good about this right now regardless of what happens in the future.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Learning to Walk

"People would rather defend the possibility of becoming rich rather than to admit to their own poverty."
John Hancock

Everybody should have seen this coming but when the money is rolling in, nobody wants to rock the boat. As always the poor suffer the most and the middle class are being hit very hard as the Wall Street traders are sitting pretty with their average $600,000 bonuses. There hasn't been such a disparity in wealth since 1929 with the very, very top, the top one percent and especially the top .1 percent living like Roman emperors on the dime of the rest. Well we all know what happened to Rome.
The causes have been detailed and analyzed. It doesn't take a genius to see why this happened. Also, what we have learned is that the dollar is still (for now) the currency of the world. Even I predicted that the Euro would be the new dollar and China and Japan would eventually cut off our IOU for a more stable standard. This seems not to be the case. China will not call in its markers short of a nuclear war.

The ailing stock market, the bank defaults, the housing bubble and all the rest are only symptoms of the disease. The Reaganomic, trickle down theory where free markets regulate themselves is horse manure. Yesterday Greenspan finally admitted this, if in an ever so subtle way. Congressional hearings are just for show with both parties staging the theater and no one goes to jail. Unenforced regulations mean nothing. Only legislation has teeth. People need to go to jail for fraud or this will certainly happen again. FDR used the psychology of a strong, likeable, father figure to help the public feel better, but it was the economic policy he pursued from John Maynard Keynes that slowly removed us from The Great Depression.

The economy can be saved if we take that bailout money and invest from the bottom up.

1) Infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, water supplies, sewage plants would put people to work immediately and leave us with something to show for our money. Despite what some say, there are projects ready to go right now at the state and local level where the plans are already drawn and are just waiting for funding.
2) National health care would take the load off of business both big and small and advance hiring.
3) A shot in the arm for education would pay huge dividends within a decade.
4) Of immediate concern is that money needs to be spent on the homeowners so they can stay in their homes... renegotiated rates to address the discrepancy between what they paid and what they have now.
Of course $800 Billion US (or whatever it is now) wouldn't do all of these things. Rolling back the tax cuts on those at the top to a more equitable level will help but as Keynes said, an economic downturn of this magnitude is the real time to go into hock (not a stupid useless war) Now is the time to borrow even if our national debt is over $10 Trillion. China, Japan, Saudi Arabia are still willing to lend and if we put the money in the right place right now this will reverse itself in 3-5 years. But it looks like the government and the Fed want to play both ends..from the top and the bottom. This will just prolong the agony.So I am predicting that this is no time for happy faces or for drinking the Kool Aid.

This is the big one. It will not be another Great Depression because there are still some safeguards in place leftover from the 1930's but hard times will certainly linger on for most of a decade.