Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Its already May Day somewhere on the globe... so Happy May Day!

The Bush years and what we've learned from them.

Paul Krugman:
Bush brought an unprecedented level of systematic dishonesty to American political life, and we may never recover.
Think about his two main “achievements”, if you want to call them that: the tax cuts and the Iraq war, both of which continue to cast long shadows over our nation’s destiny. The key thing to remember is that both were sold with lies. ... Basically, every time the Bushies came out with a report, you knew that it was going to involve some kind of fraud, and the only question was which kind and where.
And no, this wasn’t standard practice before. ... There was a time when Americans expected their leaders to be more or less truthful. Nobody expected them to be saints, but we thought we could trust them not to lie about fundamental matters. That time is now behind us — and it was Bush who did it.
Mark Thoma chimes in:
The media also echoed the Bush talking points on tax cuts and the war without giving them the scrutiny and skeptical eye they deserved (I got so tired of hearing the false claim that the Bush tax cuts would pay for themselves). There has been an admission that, well, maybe a few mistakes were made, but has the media learned its lesson? The ability of Republicans to use the same tactics in recent political debates suggests the answer is no.
The reality, as Peter Hart, noted over at FAIR is that George W. Bush Is a Swell Guy, Just Ask His Friends 

It was refreshing to see that Justice O'Connor now regrets her role in the quiet coup of 2000.  But for the millions of lives destroyed and the billions of dollars wasted destroying things these Mea culpa's amount to too little too late.

As the Political Philosopher Sheldon Wolin noted in the midst of Bush's reign, A Kind of Fascism Is Replacing Our Democracy.

In terms of the media and political process it appears, as Krugman and Thoma note, that we haven't learned anything from that decade of destruction built on lies and we shall be destined to repeat it unless we get our act together.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Things are happening in the world. You should read about them....

But first.  Today is the last day for public comments on Keystone Pipeline.  Go send an email.

Also if you'd like to help me pay off my student loans consider buying one of the books from Amazon (I recommend---> or clicking on one of the ads on this blog or donating via paypal button in top corner).

Its totally painless and helps me pay off my +$30,000 in debt for that Philosophy degree I'm about to hang on my bathroom wall has cost me.

Now go read...

Paid Vacation Mandated Almost Everywhere But U.S. (INFOGRAPHIC) 

Hunger Strikes and Indefinite Detention: A Rundown on What’s Going on at Gitmo - ProPublica 

Robert Reich The Dis-Uniting of America

How a student took on eminent economists on debt issue - and won | Reuters 

AFL-CIO's Non-Union Worker Group Headed Into Workplaces in Fifty States | The Nation 

Was lax oversight to blame for the Texas fertilizer explosion? 

Napolitano elected for second term as Italy president | Reuters

US doubles its non-lethal aid for Syria - FT.com 

Effort to Unionize Adjuncts by Region Starts a Campaign in Boston - The Chronicle of Higher Education 

Brad DeLong : Adam Posen:: A Dose of Reality: Deficit-Cutting Right Now Is Extraordinarily imprudent: Creating a Crisis Now to Forestall a Future Crisis That Is Unlikely to Come 

Perils of placing faith in a thin theory - FT.com 

Chart of the Day: Why Global Recovery Has Been So Slow | Mother Jones

Sunday, April 21, 2013

No OSHA Inspections at Texas Plant in 5 Years

Chomsky on Hugo Chavez's Death and Legacy

Baby-steps towards a better world....

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."     
---Martin Luther King, Jr.  

The uber-awesome Juan Cole (whom all of you should be reading and following) asked right after the Boston bombing--Can the Boston Bombings increase our Symp'athy for Iraq and Syria, for all such Victims? :
What happened in Boston is undeniably important and newsworthy. But so is what happened in Iraq and Syria. It is not the American people’s fault that they have a capitalist news model, where news is often carried on television to sell advertising. The corporations have decided that for the most part, Iraq and Syria aren’t what will attract Nielsen viewers and therefore advertising dollars. Given the global dominance by US news corporations, this decision has an impact on coverage in much of the world.... 
....Having experienced the shock and grief of the Boston bombings, cannot we in the US empathize more with Iraqi victims and Syrian victims? Compassion for all is the only way to turn such tragedies toward positive energy. 
Perhaps some Americans, in this moment of distress, will be willing to be also distressed over the dreadful conditions in which Syrian refugees are living, and will be willing to go to the aid of Oxfam’s Syria appeal. Some of those Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey were also hit by shrapnel or lost limbs. Perhaps some of us will donate to them in the name of our own Boston Marathon victims of senseless violence.  
Terrorism has no nation or religion. But likewise its victims are human beings, precious human beings, who must be the objects of compassion for us all.

Not too long after that this picture from the Syria started going around Facebook... but I just noticed some people in Boston responded to them.  Here are the pictures next to each other...

Way cool.

Social Media is helping us make baby-steps towards a better world.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Obama is going to take our cars too!!?!?

1984 is truly upon us...

They called us Mensheviks in Russia...

Been hitting the way back machine of late and can't help but think what a difference a decade makes.

Something reminded me of this attack ad on Howard Dean, which now a days is actually a badge of honor for most progressives/liberals  I know....

I, for one, am proud to be one of those:
 tax-hiking [on the 1%], government-expanding [programs/policies/regulations to protect and empower the 99%], latte-drinking [mocha, actually], sushi-eating, volvo-driving[its a Ford Station wagon], New York Times-reading, body-piercing [tattoos not piercings], Hollywood-loving [not really] left-wing [really] freak show[if that's what you want to call human existence okay...I guess].
The attacks on Dean from the DLC wing of the Democratic Party doesn't have as much of a punch post-Occupy.  Occupy in many ways was a bubbling up to the surface of the failed economic agenda that many Democrats not only supported but helped orchestrate, which created a boom for the 1% but has left the rest of us struggling to hang on at best, or falling farther behind for the rest...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

50 years ago today:
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
go read the whole thing.

The 99% are rising up in Georgia--Sanitation workers go on strike.

Yesterday morning after work I headed down to the city of McDonough, to spend the day picketing with Republic Services workers who are in my union, Teamsters Local 728.

These sanitation workers went on strike at 5am yesterday after struggling over a year to gain a contract.

Teamsters at Republic Services Strike in McDonough, Georgia
The 40 drivers, helpers and mechanics who are members of Teamsters Local Union 728 in Atlanta are exercising their legal right to strike in protest of Republic’s violations of federal labor laws that protect workers’ rights. Republic broke federal law when it fired a worker because of his support for the union. The company also broke federal law when it stopped paying drivers for time they work while returning their trucks to the yard.
"I'm on strike because this giant waste corporation thinks it can get away with breaking the law to intimidate us and bully us, and cheat us out of pay for time that we worked. We organized and chose to be represented by the Teamsters in 2011, but the company refuses to bargain in good faith with us for a fair contract," said Renard Henley, a residential driver in McDonough. "I’ve been talking with other workers on the Facebook page, and we have been following the Youngstown strike closely. We have all had enough of the company’s greed."
“Republic Services is one of the most abusive corporations I’ve encountered,” said Randy Brown, President of Teamsters Local Union 728. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born here in Atlanta, but Republic will not give its workers in McDonough Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday. This group of workers is 90 percent African-American and have seen no wage increases for four years despite Republic making more than a half a billion dollars in profit each year.”
In Ohio, 23 workers at Republic’s Carbon Limestone Landfill outside Youngstown have been on strike since March 27. They are members of Teamsters Local Union 377. This morning they extended picket lines to Republic facilities in five Ohio cities, and close to 600 Teamster members are refusing to cross the picket lines.
Over the past year, Republic/Allied Waste has forced multiple lockouts and strikes, disrupting trash collection for hundreds of thousands of people across the United States and putting communities at risk. Republic earned profits of more than $572 million in 2012. The company’s primary shareholder is Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, the second  richest person in the world.
“Bill Gates is worth $66 billion. Republic earns more than $8 billion each year. So why are they cheating workers out of money they need to feed their families? Why does this corporation lock workers out of their jobs when they want to keep their retirement benefits? I don’t know how the people at this company sleep at night,” said Robert Morales, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division.
“In January many of us had to take the day off unpaid to march in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. day march in Atlanta,” Henley said. “We marched alongside our colleagues who work for Republic in Memphis, and it became clear very quickly that we all needed to come together as one to be able to stand up to this corporation. Republic’s bullying will end because we, the workers, will stand up as long as it takes to stop it.”
Republic/Allied Waste’s total revenues were more than $8.1 billion in 2012. Bill Gates is the primary shareholder of Republic stock. Gates owns approximately $2.4 billion worth of stock, or 25 percent of the total worth of the company. Michael Larsen, Gates’ investment manager, sits on Republic’s board of directors.

Henry Daily Herald | Sanitation workers picket in labor dispute
Workers employed by Republic Services of McDonough have been on strike since 5 a.m. Monday for what they are calling unfair labor practices.
And they are getting comfortable on the picket line, so don’t expect them to give up any time soon.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the workers said the company still remains silent. The strikers’ response?
Grilling out hot-dogs and brots, and ordering Chick-fil-a from the picket line.
“It’s disappointing to me because I would have thought we could work something out,” said worker Tjamar Branch.
Branch added that he hopes the strike can end “as soon as possible, but they’re going to have to come up with something.”
About 30 workers are carrying signs that read “I am still a man” and “Sanitation Workers United” while the Republic Service garbage trucks sit abandoned across the parking lot.
Even workers who were supposed to be on vacation took time to visit the picket line.
“We just wanted to be treated fairly,” said worker Mondrez Flemister.
Republic Services Inc. provides sanitation and recycling services to the McDonough area, but Flemister alleged the company violated federal labor law by putting drivers in unsafe situations.
“The unfair labor practices that they’re doing, they won’t stop doing,” said worker Renard Henry. “They continue to do things that are illegal. They have unsafe trucks and if you try to shut them down, you could possibly be written up.”
Henry said workers should only work 12 to 14 hours by DOT standards once a week, but he said Republic Services forces workers to work 14 to 16 hours 2 or 3 days a week.
“Everything else has to be under 12, but you say ‘Hey, I’m over my hours’ and they’ll still force you to stay out and finish, putting yourself in jeopardy as well as the customers because you’re out real late and your exhausted," Henry said. "They’re not concerned about that. They’re concerned about picking the trash up. ”
Henry also said the company forces workers to drive trucks with oil leaks and bad breaks.
“I have a truck that’s not even two years old and without the power on, the arm moves out on it’s own, so it’ll hit something and you won’t even know it,” Henry said. “It has alarms on it, but the alarm works when it wants to. Last week, we had a guy go down Hwy 16 and the arm just went out and hit a car. I’ve been writing that up since December and it still hasn’t gotten fixed.”
The strike has even picked up wind across the country, where thousands of workers say they are “standing up for their rights.”
Employees of Republic Services are now on strike in five Ohio cities and Memphis, Tenn.
Flemister said they have been trying to negotiate a contract with officials since December 2011, but the company hasn’t been taking workers seriously.
“If I don’t stand up for what I believe in for my kids, who will do it?” Flemister asked.
Throughout the day people in the community stopped by, many of them joining the picket line for a few minutes, to show their support and let the workers know they supported their efforts.  Car honks and handshakes that kept the workers motivated and energetic.

About 3pm yesterday afternoon the Charlie Flemming, the President of the Georgia AFL-CIO stopped by to speak to the workers and voice the support of the over 120,000 members from over 220 unions throughout the state.

The mostly overcast day left me forgetting to throw in my suncreen so by 5pm as I left the workers still standing strong and fired up I was pretty well burnt and physically drained. But it was a good reminder to me that standing up to the 1% isn't easy. That's why its important for members of the community to come out in support for these workers, and workers all over the nation, when they go on strike.

Dr. King was right, "A man can't ride your back unless it's bent."  But dignity and self-respect will only take a human body so far--the sun will beam down on your body, the stresses of every day life will wear and tear on workers who have families to support--it takes a community coming together and supporting those who have had enough from the 1%.

This fight is not just about these workers, or striking Republic Waster workers all across the nation.  Unsafe trucks in our neighborhoods just to feed corporate greed is not what the 99% need.

Pay and benefits that give scraps to the workers and increase stock portfolios of the 1% don't help build strong vibrant local economies--something every American has learned over the past few years.

The fight against the 1% is a fight for a strong middle class.  When workers receive good pay and benefits they spend those dollars in the local economy--a flourishing, dare I say militant, labor movement is needed if we want to have a vibrant economy.  Want a flourishing small business sector, well make sure workers within the corporations owned by the mega-wealthy are sharing in the prosperity their labor is creating.
Want to make sure you have good tax revenue receipts for city, county, and state governments throughout the nation?--well make sure you support the 99% when they rise up and tell the owners profit making corporations that the workers have a right share in the prosperity (via better working conditions and better pay and benfitis).

The 1% isn't spending those profits in McDonough Georgia,or Youngstown Ohio, they are spending them in Paris, and London, and Dubai; they are investing them in risky financial ventures that pay out big bucks until they crash the economy and get bailed out.  The 1% isn't investing their excess profits in the kind of investments which will create good jobs but a strong middle class spending their hard earned dollars will create the kind of demand that will give incentive's for private sector job creation in a way that Politicians blowing hot air about "welfare bums needing to go find jobs" never ever will.

One of the highlights of Day Two on the picket line is when a Republic customer came and dropped off some of her trash and told the company she was in 100% support of the workers and expected the company to negotiate with the workers.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Help Wanted: 11 Dimensional Chess Masters for the 99%

Oh good, the White House is cutting a deal with the 1% on Wall Street at the same time that they are asking Grandma to take a cut in her Social Security?

Democrats hide when asked about ending high-income loophole to assure Social Security’s future?  What kind of Democrats you may ask?  The kind who should be seeing primaries come 2014.

Every expert 11 Dimensional Chess Master knows that good members of Congress are mobilizing the public (zero so far here in Georgia) so that the White House has no choice but to tell the Republicans---"sorry, see the mob on the front lawn?  I can't cut a deal with you.  I know you want to cut Social Security---but America is saying no."

Van Jones knows Obama understands this which is why Van is saying to B.O.--No Way; I just wish a few more Obama supporters would realize the President won't be offended (for you true believers think deep into the heart of the President you support, and you know he's hoping we do force his hand).

We need 11 Dimensional Chess players in Congress not just the White House.  That's how we got America back to work the last time the 1% crashed the economy.

We need members of Congress smart enough to know that you don't compromise with the GOP on issue like Social Security---you can't compromise core values and anyone who can most definitely should not be in Congress.

I signed the Grayson-Takano letter opposing Obama's Social Security cuts---please join me.

David Kaib in his excellent post on Chained CPI notes this pattern, Beltway insiders being tone-deaf to what everyday working people want from them, is the norm:
 this instance may be particularly egregious, but it is in no way usual. The concerns of the donor class, generally speaking, determine the boundaries of what is politically possible. (Lawrence Lessig lays out the case in his wonderful, infuriating book, Republic, Lost.  Thomas Ferguson’s Golden Rule is also essential reading here.) In policy area after policy area, policy and the agenda are a reflection of elite concerns not the population.  If you can’t get funding to challenge a candidate for opposing the public, and you can’t find a way to run that doesn’t rely on big money, then no one will face the music. And aside from that, the reason the concerns of regular Americans are largely ignored is because the concerns of elites, and protecting the profits of large corporations (not to mention raising money from them) take up so much of their time.
The reality is that our donor class, and the media and political elites that operate on their behalf (whether they do so because they believe it or not is irrelevant) has it exactly backwards.  The basic system of retirement security in the US had three parts–pensions, personal savings (mostly the value of a home) and Social Security. But pensions have been largely replaced with 401Ks, which even at their best provide less for most retirees than pensions do also have the problem of relying on the stock market, so they are not secure.  Remember the tech bubble crash and then the financial crisis?  And speaking of the financial crisis, that was ultimately caused by the popping of the housing bubble.
For most Americans, Social Security is all that’s left, not because they are lazy or unwilling to do what they were told to do but because what they were told to do was inadequate and insecure. (But on the bright side, the rich got much richer). Only one leg of the retirement security school is left standing, and the elites have decided even that small level of security is too little desperation.
Lucky for us, in the midst of a terrible job market there are lots of highly qualified young people with newly minted degrees from quality schools and the kind of energy and spark needed to give the GOP a full court press in Congressional districts all over the nation.

So Barista's and McDonalds Drive-Through workers unite!--hit the campaign trail and spend the next two years unseating any Democratic member of Congress not willing to speak up and speak out now against the 1%.

We need to put out "Help Wanted" Ad's all across the progressive left---11 Dimensional Chess Masters needed!  Good pay and benefits to stand up to the 1% and fight for the 99%; as it appears to be amateur Chess night at the Pelosi/Reid Disco-tech in DC.

Its time for the maladjusted of this nation to speak up and speak out---and get the American people mobilized...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Primary season 2014: Neoliberals vs the 99%

So, as many of us have noted for a long time--Obama wants to cut your Social Security.

First, here is a run down on why Chained CPI is a bad idea.

But I'm struck by something that I can't go without posting on, with the release of his budget we have reached an important moment in history.

The Neoliberals--aka the Goldman Sachs wing of the Democratic Party, who have controlled the Democratic Party agenda for decades--have now shown their cards.  They've done it in a way that NAFTA and "Free Trade"/Globalization talking points during the 90's never did or could.

Yves Smith notes [Obama Moves Forward with Cutting Social Security and Medicare as We Lecture Europe Otherwise]:
Given the stakes, it’s not surprising that Obama’s remaining fans are pulling out their tired “trust our fearless Leader” card. But Obama didn’t do the right thing when he had freedom of action. As Matt Stoller wrote in “The Progressive Case Against Obama“:
Many will claim that Obama was stymied by a Republican Congress. But the primary policy framework Obama put in place – the bailouts, took place during the transition and the immediate months after the election, when Obama had enormous leverage over the Bush administration and then a dominant Democratic Party in Congress. In fact, during the transition itself, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson offered a deal to Barney Frank, to force banks to write down mortgages and stem foreclosures if Barney would speed up the release of TARP money. Paulson demanded, as a condition of the deal, that Obama sign off on it. Barney said fine, but to his surprise, the incoming president vetoed the deal. Yup, you heard that right — the Bush administration was willing to write down mortgages in response to Democratic pressure, but it was Obama who said no, we want a foreclosure crisis. And with Neil Barofsky’s book ”Bailout,” we see why. Tim Geithner said, in private meetings, that the foreclosure mitigation programs were not meant to mitigate foreclosures, but to spread out pain for the banks, the famous “foam the runway” comment. This central lie is key to the entire Obama economic strategy. It is not that Obama was stymied by Congress, or was up against a system, or faced a massive crisis, which led to the shape of the economy we see today. Rather, Obama had a handshake deal to help the middle class offered to him by Paulson, and Obama said no. He was not constrained by anything but his own policy instincts. And the reflation ofcorporate profits and financial assets and death of the middle class were the predictable results.
This is what the defenders refuse to acknowledge: the Obama critics, again and again, have been proven right, yet we have seen remarkably few mea cuplas, let alone apologies (and that includes you, Charles Pierce and Scott Lemieux). Obama is proving to be a litmus test of where commentators’ loyalties really stand: is it to “liberal” beliefs, which get redefined evermore to the right, or is it to the Democratic party neoliberal technocrats, which Obama embodies? The budget battle is pure and simple about squeezing the middle class dry, and those who pretend otherwise are simply insulting the intelligence of their audience.

We are at an important moment of history.

I think this is what the Political Philosopher Sheldon Wolin, author of the excellent book
Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism would call a "demotic moment" within the Democratic Party.

Chained CPI brings the Neoliberal agenda front and center into the political debate in a very real way.  It hits bread and butter issues that citizens understand--we aren't talking securitized  mortgages, rent seeking, or regulatory capture--we are talking about Grandma's ability to keep the heat on and feed herself.

The 1% has skillfully kept its priorities off the radar, and its dollars flowing into the coffers of the the party for decades, so as to control the agenda (but allow the hoi polli rank and file activists to feel like the party truly is the party of FDR, the party fighting for working people).

I know rank and file Democrats. The activists who keep the party machine rolling, who GOTV and send in their $15 contributions; who put up the yard signs and register the voters. I was a county Chairman of a metro Atlanta county committee during the 2008 election cycle. I've worked closely with Democratic State Representatives as a Legislative Aide in the Georgia General Assembly.

I've run GOTV plans for State House and Senate candidates.  In 2010,  I myself ran for State Senate; winning my primary against the Democratic Senate Caucus' candidate with over 60% of the vote.  I know the values and priorities of the base of the Democratic Party and what I've learned from my time working side by side with these truly kind, thoughtful, and committed people is that they do not support the priorities or agenda of the Goldman Sachs wing of the Democratic Party.

This is an important moment within the Democratic Party and its up to activists to seize the moment.

Any Democratic member of Congress who does not speak out now, this week, in a loud and clear manner regarding their opposition to Obama's Social Security cuts should have a primary opponent within the next 5 weeks.

Let me give you a little pro-tip I've learned in my short time in politics--the "Vote to cut Social Security" and I will primary you metric is the wrong metric to use.  By the time voting comes around to cut Social Security valuable fundraising time, key canvassing efforts-- the kinds of things it takes to win a primary (especially against the 1% donor funded kind of Politican)--has long since past.

Also it allows some of the Goldman Sachs Democrats to stay silent and let Chained CPI get pulled out at the last minute only to come back with a Republican in office where they are "forced" to support it.

Its time for a roll call within the Democratic Party about which side our Democratic members of Congress are on.

Any politician not speaking out via Twitter and Facebook; any politican not mobilizing working people within the community to unite and fight these cuts has alliances and allegiances with the Neoliberal wing of the Party and they need to be taken on directly at the polls.  We don't win over Republicans through compromise--we win over people through educating and empowering them (via Facebook and Twitter).  We win over the policy debates by mobilizing people and forcing the issues that matter--the jobs crisis, the student debt crisis, the infrastructure cliff, Paid Sick Days, Too Big to Fail Banks, inequality and the decline of the middle class.

April 8th was the 78th birthday of the Works Progress Administration which had a huge impact addressing the last economic crisis the 1% created for us. Did the WPA just happen because politicians from on high thought it would be for the best?  No, unions mobilized working people who took to the streets and demanded politicians act!  It was a demotic moment!

Its the kind of demotic moment that is needed right now to address the woes within our economy, our democracy, our spirit as a people--a people united by geography and cultural history.  A demotic wave of activists within the Democratic party to take on the Goldman Sachs Democrats is the kind of politics that must take place if the 99% are ever to start to get the kinds of proactive Government policies needed to get our economy working for working people again.

As happenstance will have it, Obama just opened up the door for just such a movement.

Activists across the nation must heed the call: demand public statements from your Democratic member of Congress (or in a neighboring district) and if they fail to speak out right now, then it is up to you to run against them and engage voters in your community on the issues that matter.

Unions have to step up to recruit and support union members to run for office.

Citizens have to begin the long process of not waiting for poll-tested leaders to tell them what to do and how to do it; but doing it themselves.  Learning to run for office, learning to organize and mobilize; these are the types of things that will be won even in districts that won't be "won" when the votes are counted on Primary Election day 2014.

But the time is now and the moment is ours for the taking.

There are worse things in life than losing a political campaign to the 1%--life goes on just fine afterwards I promise!

And it will go on for me December of 2014 if I fail to unseat my member of Congress if they fail to speak out and mobilize citizens right now in my Congressional District against these cuts to Social Security.

Its time to send a memo to Obama and the Goldman Sachs wing of the Democratic Party----> #itsOn

Thursday, April 4, 2013

And with that Georg Lukács makes more sense....

J.P. Stern reviews ‘Georg Lukács’ by Arpad Kadarkay · LRB 26 September 1991 
Ill-favoured in his looks, he seems to have been frightened of attractive women and given to hiding his shyness behind huge metaphysical statements. 
So that explains it.  No wonder I'm always confused when I read him--he is making up for himself with "big thoughts".

Human productivity, the demand for skill, and working less....

I'm a huge proponent of "working less".  My experience working part time loading trucks at UPS has sold me on the idea that people work too much.

In fact I'm always telling my wife she and her coworkers should unionize and impose 35 hour work weeks--as I selfishly want her less stressed and better paid.

But I caught this factiod in this post 15 Tips for Taming Distractions When Trying to Create | World of Psychology
People tend to be productive for 4.5 hours a day, 
I want to know more.  I assume she didn't just make up that factoid out of thin air.  If anyone knows any research on human productivity shoot it my way as i'm intrigued by the potential to increase productivity by working people fewer hours.

The other day Mark Thoma was worried about the possibility that the demand for skill is falling. I realize his concern was for other reasons but I want to ponder a "so what" to such a state of affairs. In highly industrialized economies there is no reason why we can't be a nation of philosophy and economics majors who work at McDonalds and UPS part time (spending the rest of the time raising families, politically engaged, traveling, writing, sleeping).  There is no inherent reason (aside from low pay which has more to do with how organized these sectors are) this would be a bad thing.

As Dean Baker always notes, there is no such thing as a "bad job".  Scrubbing toilets can be a great job--it depends on the pay and benefits not the job task it self.

So if human productivity tends to decline after 5 hours and the demand for skill is declinging--we should be pushing for 35....no, better, 30 hour work weeks.

We have mass unemployment--so its not like we don't have workers to tap in to to fill those vacated hours demanded.  Increase productivity and decrease unemployment--oh and improve the quality of life of people as they have more time to do pleasurable activities.

The age of tax havens can only decline...

So I just caught this story in the New York Times, Vast Hidden Wealth Revealed in Leaked Records, and it reminds me of something I've been pondering lately.  Is it just more or are secret tax havens going to begin to dwindle and decline in the modern era?  Our ability to track and expose those who hide money can only improve with time and the more 3rd world nations begin to industrialize the higher their own tax rates will grow to meet the demands of improving their economy/state.

There will always be "havens" in the sense that some state will be at the bottom waving a flag trying to entice rich people to stash their money at a low rate.  Eh, but then there is the question of black market income which is probably pretty large for some 1%'ers...ah, nevermind.... I'm posting this despite having changed my mind midway through writing.

File under: writing as a thinking tool.

So maybe stupidity isn't our problem after all.

In the car today I heard both Herman Cain and Rush Limbaugh complain about how stupid Americans have become and that this stupidity was the reason for the sorry state of this country at the moment.

I couldn't help but speculate that driving around Atlanta a large number of (mostly white male) listeners were nodding their head in agreement when these subjects were broached by our speakers.  "What ails us is stupidity."

Ah, but there is the rub my friends.  How do we define stupidity?

I highly doubt that I could easily find mutually recognized agreement between myself and Herman Cain on what makes for a stupid person.  When you agree with Rush and Herman--its time to reevaluate your position.  Ergo...our problems cannot be reduced to stupidity.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Student Debt---something is wrong with Americans....

This is classic (h/t   ).
Source: themetapicture.com via Manny on Pinterest

While we are on the topic of student debt buy one of "MY Picks" via Amazon advertisement on the right sidebar-->; or click through one or two of blog ads on this page. Help me pay down my student debt!

The backlog at the VA is creating unsafe working conditions for staff.

I'm not kidding.

Charter schools, ALEC, and (tax) money for the taking.

On Saturday I noted the Atlanta business communities connection to the Atlanta public school cheating scandal (An order of men, whose interest is to deceive and oppress the public).

I pointed out that business leaders are pushing privatization of our schools because they want their hands on those profits, and by that I mean our tax dollars.

Diane Ravitch's blog has a good post this morning connecting the dots via ALEC on how the Charter movement has become a movement of based on nothing but profit making. "No accountability, no oversight, no transparency, no laws, no regulations. Just money for the taking," is the goal.

How ALEC Is Changing the Face of Charters.
When the charter school movement began in the early 1990s, the promise of advocates was that charters would be held accountable for results. There were two promises, really: one was that there would be accountability; the other was that there would be results. If the results didn’t happen, the schools would close.  
Now there is a new approach to charters, sponsored by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). To learn more about ALEC and to see its model legislation for education and other issues, look here.   
It is a tenet of ALEC that charter schools should be completely unregulated, unsupervised, and unaccountable. The goal is choice, not accountability or results. 
ALEC pretends to be conservative but pushes model legislation to give the governor and sometimes his allies the power to appoint a commission to override local school boards.   
You see, ALEC doesn’t like local school boards. It likes bigtime corporate power. It likes the free market. Those pesky local school boards are so close to the people in their district that sometimes they actually want to protect the local public schools and refuse to authorize more charters to take away students and funding.
The charter movement has become an effort to undermine public education by businesses seeking profit.

Education "reform" has become a hot topic but sadly most people I know have not done very much thinking on the subject--aside from very shallow positions such as "yeah, lets make schools better."  This plays right into the rent seeking hands of business leaders who want to sell you on their product.  They want their hands on your tax dollars.

If you haven't had a chance to check it out you really must read Diane's book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.  Also check out her excellent blog here.