Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ann Pettifor on breaking the despotic power of finance

What does Income Inequality mean for Americans?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Trans-Pacific Partnership, Fast Track Authority, and YOU

Two of my personal favorites--Dean Baker and Yves Smith--spoke to Bill Moyers recently about the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP for short,

Basically this is NAFTA on steroids, a trade deal by and for the 1% which would devastate working people across this country.

Today my union had a national day of action so here I am calling my Congressman David Scott, to let him know I oppose granting Fast Track authority to Obama. (I also emailed his primary opposition to let him know my position as well).  [Here sign this]

Fast Track authority allows Obama to negotiate in secret, then cram through Congress with just an up or down vote, approval of the TPP.

The Founding Fathers provided Congress with the authority to approve trade deals and not allowing amendments which protect environmental and labor standards would destroy any hope of rebuilding the middle class or protecting our environment from calamity.

Its time Congress stand up to the 1%.  The fact that Obama is pushing a trade deal written by and for the 1% tells you all you need to know about the sorry state of leadership within the Democratic Party.  Both parties are dominated by Wall Street interests--only grassroots action from the people themselves can stop this trainwreck of an oligarchy.

So take action.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We outsourced our manufacturing and pollution; but it still comes back around to us

A post I just came across on China's pollution that is reaching US shores struck me with this line:
“We’ve outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution, but some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us,” Davis said. “Given the complaints about how Chinese pollution is corrupting other countries’ air, this paper shows that there may be plenty of blame to go around.”
 Go read the whole thing and remember that the horrid pollution in China?--yeah we helped build that. China's Off-The-Charts Air Pollution Is Making Its Way To The U.S. 

It reminds me that an increasing focus towards Internationalism has to occur over the next few years here in America--its one of the reasons why I'm a DSA'er.  The challenges we face, be they economic or environmental are going to require increased cooperation across the globe because equitable distribution of resources and a healthy sustainable environment are the only options for us over the long term.

[As a random aside, one of the reasons I enjoy Dani Rodrik's book  The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy is because it deals with the question and challenges of balancing democracy and trade quite helpfully, in my opinion.]

Friday, January 17, 2014

The GOP efforts to create more poverty continue; what we need are real solutions.

Ezra Klein has the details: A simple test for conservative poverty proposals: 
There’s a simple way to tell whether the Republican Party’s newfound commitment to fighting poverty is more than rhetoric: Follow the money.   Follow the trail in the party’s recent budgets and what you find, hidden between appendix tables, are deep cuts to programs for the poor. That’s the inevitable consequence of Republican commitments to favored constituencies. The party promised its anti-tax wing no tax increases and lower tax rates. It promised older voters that Medicare and Social Security would not change for those over age 55. It promised defense hawks that sequestration cuts to military spending would be reversed. And it promised its tea party allies that it would cut trillions from government spending and balance the federal budget.
 The GOP can't openly embrace their own agenda:
In recent years, Republicans have backed themselves into a corner; virtually everything they’ve proposed entails deep cuts to programs for the poor. They’ve tried to escape this trap -- and allegations by opponents that they are indifferent to suffering -- by arguing that various reforms, such as turning federal programs over to the states, will unleash such miraculous efficiencies that meager budgets will stretch to cover existing needs.
They won’t.
The model they cite is welfare reform, which was enacted in 1996 during the highest-growth economy since the 1960s. Welfare cuts didn’t make the fight against poverty magically more efficient; they simply made it stingier. In 1996, 68 of 100 families living in poverty with children received welfare benefits. In 2010, two years after the worst economic shock since the Great Depression, only 27 of 100 such families were receiving benefits. The assistance once provided by welfare is now supplied by tax credits such as the earned income tax credit, which the government has vastly expanded.
Taking poverty and joblessness seriously doesn’t mean the government needs to spend more forever. But it does mean the government needs to spend more now -- when poor people are squeezed by high unemployment and low growth. That spending could be reallocated from other programs, or it could be offset by future tax increases or spending cuts. But there is no getting around it: Any policy that sharply reduces government spending to alleviate poverty is a policy that will lead to more poverty.
The labor force participation rate is at a 35 year low.

We have a jobs crisis and we need real solutions like a jobs program.  

A Job Guarantee would improve the labor market, not only for the unemployed, and underemployed who want to work, but create upward pressures on wages and incentives to improve the quality of the work enviornment.  A Federal Job Guarantee would take power out of the hands of the employers--who like keeping workers desperate and willing to take whatever scraps they are thrown--and shift it to some of the most at-risk vulnerable populations within our economy who want to work.

Sen. Jason Carter Delivers Democratic State of the State Response

Sen. Jason Carter Delivers Democratic State of the State Response from Georgia Democrat on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A certain shallow and dishonest system of compromise

Consistency is the highest obligation of a philosopher, and yet the most rarely found. The ancient Greek schools give us more examples of it than we find in our syncretistic age, in which a certain shallow and dishonest system of compromise of contradictory principles is devised, because it commends itself better to a public which is content to know something of everything and nothing thoroughly, so as to please every party.     

---Kant; The Critique of Practical Reason 
 Go read David Kaib--I am outraged at David Brooks’ continuing execution of the War on Drugs | Notes on a Theory... ; our elite class, for 3 decades now, has gone unleashed and unrestrained. No one has held them accountable--Nixon was the last President to fear the power of working people (aka "the left")--and they are not used to answering to anyone or standing for anything.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Michael Sandel: The Moral Limits of Markets

Caught this great lecture via Naked Capitalism.  Do take some time to watch it.  Thinking about markets and inequality at this moment in history is very important right now.  Sadly most of politics has taken the ethics and moral philosophy out of the discussion; to fixate on the far more trite drama of talking heads and soap opera spin.