Progressive Calendar 03.21.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 21 Mar 2009 04:02:14 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   03.21.09

1. Rights: tell DFL    3.21 8am
2. Animal law conf     3.21 8:30am
3. Rev Smith on Gaza   3.21 9:30am
4. Workplace justice   3.21 10am
5. Rally v Iraq war    3.21 12noon
6. Stop reroute/film   3.21 2pm
7. Iron jawed angels   3.21 6:30pm
8. RNC cases/CTV       3.21 9pm

9. Stillwater vigil    3.22 1pm
10. Health/Marty/AM950 3.22 3pm

11. Mary Hamel    - Kolstad(MetroIBA) speaks for small business at Leg
12. PC Roberts    - Was the bailout a financial concentration scam?
13. Mike Whitney  - Why business is hysterical about labor card check
14. Sam Smith     - From the New Deal to the New Democrats
15. Helen Redmond - Left out from Obama's health care summit
16. David Korten  - Too big to fail is too big
17. ed            - Nude Enemacrats  (poem)

--------1 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Rights: tell DFL 3.21 8am

Demonstration: Stand up for Your Rights in St. Paul
Saturday, March 21, 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. Arlington High School, Outside, 1495
Rice Street, St Paul.

Attend a nonpartisan demonstration to show that you don't approve of the
repeated violations of First Amendment rights that occurred in St. Paul
during last September's Republican National Convention (RNC). As St. Paul
Democrats gather, let them know that our community will not ignore the
abusive and intimidating tactics used by law enforcement against citizen
protesters. Sponsored by: St. Paul Citizens for Civil Rights. Endorsed by:
WAMM. FFI: Email annebenson [at] msn.com .


--------2 of 17--------

From: Ellen Weinstock <ellenweinstock [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Animal law conf 3.21 8:30am

Animal Law Section presents...
4th Annual Animal Law Conference
6.0 hours of Standard CLE credits applied for

Saturday, March 21, 2009
8:30 am - Registration
9:00 am -CLE Program

William Mitchell College of Law
875 Summit Ave., St. Paul

Cost:

$25 Animal Rescue, Shelter, and Animal Control Organizations (limit one
per organization at this reduced fee)
$55 Animal Law Section members
$75 Non-Animal Law Section members (MSBA members)
$75 MMVA Members
$100 Non-MSBA or MMVA members
$10 Current Law Students or Veterinarian Students
Free WM College Law Students
Please note special dietary requests when registering.



- 8:30 am - Registration and Continental Breakfast

- 9:00 am - Opening Remarks:
WMCL Dean Eric S. Janus (Welcome)
Barbara J. Gislason (ABA Update)

- 9:15 am - Keynote Speaker Steve Wise
An American Trilogy - Death, Slavery, and Dominion along the Banks of Cape
Fear River; Factory Farming

- 10:45 am - Dr. Julie Wilson and Kristen Cleary
Economic and Legal Effects of the Present Economy on Animals

- 11:45 am -Lunch Break: Networking opportunity and Book signing by Steve
Wise; Vegan & Vegetarian Lunch Provided on Request

- 12:15 pm - Jamie Becker-Finn and Katie Donald
Animal Law Judicial and Legislative Update
-Howard Goldman
New Proposed Bills Regarding the Classification of Horses, Animal
Fighting, Bear Baiting, and Puppy Mills

- 1:15 pm - Mike Fry
Logistics and Economic Challenges Regarding Shelters and Sanctuaries

-1:45 pm - Karma Kumlin-Diers and Barbara J. Gislason
Emergency Management Table Top Exercise: Nuclear Meltdown

-2:45 pm - Break and Snack

-3:00 pm - Keynote Speaker Steve Wise
Nonhuman Rights Project: A Decade-long Project Intended to Lead to the
Grant of the First Common Law Fundamental Right for Nonhuman Animals

- 4:30 pm - Closing remarks: Katherine Bloomquist

Kim Basting Section Services Liaison Minnesota State Bar Association 600
Nicollet Mall, #380 Minneapolis, MN 55402 612.278.6323 - Direct
612.333.4927 - Fax www.mnbar.org


--------3 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Rev Smith on Gaza 3.21 9:30am

"Gaza: What is going on? How did we get here? Where can we go from
here?" Talk by Rev. David Smith
Saturday, March 21, 9:30 a.m. (Refreshments), 10:00 a.m. (Presentation
and Discussion) Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, 5440 Penn
Avenue South Minneapolis.

Rev. David Smith, S.T.D., S.S.L., will give a PowerPoint presentation
which includes images from his 2005 and 2007 trips to Gaza along with
historical, political, and religious background helpful to understand the
situation. He will also share his vision for the future and contrast it
with the visions of (a) the RAND Corporation and (b) various Israeli
groups. Rev. Smith is the founding and former director of the Justice and
Peace Studies program at the University of St. Thomas and is a priest of
the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Sponsored by: Middle East
Peace Now (MEPN). WAMM is a member of MEPN. FFI: Call Florence Steichen,
651-696-1642.


--------4 of 17--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Workplace justice 3.21 10am

March 21:  Workplace Justice Support/Networking Meeting. 10 AM - Noon at
the Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice Street, St. Paul. More
information: 952-996-9291.


--------5 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Rally v Iraq war 3.21 12noon

6th Anniversary of the War on Iraq: Rally and March: Troops Out Now!
Saturday, March 21, Noon (Rally), 12:30 p.m. (March) Martin Luther King
Park, 270 Kent Street (one block northeast of Dale and Marshall Avenues),
St. Paul.

Get out and give Obama the message: Troops Out Now! End the Occupations of
Iraq and Afghanistan! Money for Human Needs! Fund jobs, education,
housing, veteran's benefits, and health care, not wars. Organized locally
by: Iraq Peace Action Coalition (IPAC). WAMM is a member of IPAC. FFI:
Call 612-827-5364 or 612-522-1861.


--------6 of 17--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Stop the reroute/film 3.21 2pm

"STOP the Re-Route: Taking a Stand on Sacred Land:" Women with Vision
International Film Festival
Saturday, March 21, 2:00 p.m. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Avenue,
Minneapolis.

"Stop the Re-Route" tells the dramatic story of a community's opposition
to the State of Minnesota's plan to drive a road through its birthplace,
land considered historic to some and sacred to others. Neighborhood,
indigenous and environmental activists tell an inspiring story of
resistance and a commitment to live lightly on Grandmother Earth, preserve
precious natural resources, and resist car culture at the end of the
Petroleum Age. Cost: $8.00 (Walker Members: $6.00). Endorsed by: WAMM.
FFI: Visit www.walkerart.org.


--------7 of 17--------

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Iron jawed angels 3.21 6:30pm

The movie of the month, Iron Jawed Angels, has to be changed to this
Saturday, March 21 instead of March 28.  It is a great movie and hope
you can attend.
3.21 6:30pm
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN


--------8 of 17--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: RNC cases/CTV 3.21 9pm

Mighty Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!  Households with basic cable may
watch.

Sat, 3/21, 9pm and Tues, 3/24, 8am
Solidarity: First the Streets, Then the Courts

Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure (C*R*A*S*S) activists Joe
Robinhood and Melissa speak about the aftermath of arrests made during the
2008 Republican National Convention.  Although the RNC is history, there
are several outstanding cases that are still proceeding through the system
including the high profile case of the RNC 8.  Hosted by Eric Angell.


--------9 of 17--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 3.22 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------10 of 17--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org>
Subject: Health/Marty/AM950 3.22 3pm

James Mayer Of the People with Host James Mayer
Join Us Every Sunday Afternoon 3-4 p.m.  on AM950 KTNF

MN Universal Health Care: Making it a Reality and Model for the U.S.
Part VI - Sen. John Marty & Update on MN Health Plan!
March 22, 2009
Sen. John Marty

Of the People this Sunday, March 22 at 3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF (formerly Air
America Minnesota) with Host James Mayer.  Or stream us:
http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen

Join us for the 6th program of our series of broadcasts about REAL
Universal Health care with Sen. John Marty (DFL) District 54 as he and
host James Mayer discuss the status of the MN Health Plan and what people
can do to help move this important bill forward.

The people are ahead of their leadership!  The latest CBS News/New York
Times poll released on February 1, 2009 shows that Americans are more
likely today to embrace the idea of the government providing health
insurance than they were 30 years ago. 59% say the government should
provide national health insurance, including 49% who say such insurance
should cover all medical problems.


--------11 of 17---------

From: Mary Hamel <hamsnapp [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Kolstad(MetroIBA) speaks for small business at Leg

President of Mill City Music, and founding MetroIBA board member, John
Kolstad, "AKA Papa John," testified on behalf of small business Property
tax relief at the Capitol this week.

John has consistently exemplified our mission through countless acts of
educating the public about the importance of independent businesses and
giving a voice to small, independent businesses at the Capitol. Citing
that small businesses provide over 50% of employment in the USA, and
create over 90% of the new jobs in Minnesota. There are 550,000 small
businesses in Minnesota!

John deftly pointed out, "Clearly, small business is the economic engine
of Minnesota...I am here today because small business is severely
stressed, through no fault of their own. Revenues are down sharply while
costs are rising. You've heard about business too big to fail. I think
that small business is the only business too big to fail. Government needs
to help small business. Because Small Business is Big Business."

Thanks to Representative Davnie for bringing forth the bill to lighten the
burden of property tax for small businesses.

Thanks John for all you hard work for MetroIBA!

Mary Hamel Executive Director Metro Independent Business Alliance
www.metroiba.org 651-387-0738
[MetroIBA wants YOU as a member - contact Mary Hamel. -ed(member)]


-------12 of 17-------

A Program of Financial Concentration
Was the Bailout Itself a Scam?
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
March 19, 2009
CounterPunch

Professor Michael Hudson (CounterPunch, March 18) is correct that the
orchestrated  outrage over the $165 million AIG bonuses is a diversion
from the thousand times greater theft from taxpayers of the approximately
$200 billion "bailout" of AIG.  Nevertheless, it is a diversion that
serves an important purpose.  It has taught an inattentive American public
that the elites run the government in their own private interests.

Americans are angry that AIG executives are paying themselves millions of
dollars in bonuses after having cost the taxpayers an exorbitant sum.
Senator Charles Grassley put a proper face on the anger when he suggested
that the AIG executives "follow the Japanese example and resign or go
commit suicide".

Yet, Obama's White House economist, Larry Summers, on whose watch as
Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration financial deregulation
got out of control, invoked the "sanctity of contracts" in defense of the
AIG bonuses.

But the Obama administration does not regard other contracts as sacred.
Specifically: labor unions had to agree to give-backs in order for the
auto companies to obtain federal help;  CNN reports that "Veterans Affairs
Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday [March 10] that the Obama
administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay
for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance";  the
Washington Post reports that the Obama team has set its sights on
downsizing Social Security and Medicare.

According to the Post, Obama said that "it is impossible to separate the
country's financial ills from the long-term need to rein in health-care
costs, stabilize Social Security and prevent the Medicare program from
bankrupting the government".

After Washington's trillion dollar bank bailouts and trillion dollar
gratuitous wars for the sake of the military industry's profits and
Israeli territorial expansion, there is no money for Social Security and
Medicare.

The US government breaks its contracts with US citizens on a daily basis,
but AIG's bonus contracts are sacrosanct.  The Social Security contract
was broken when the government decided to tax 85% of the benefits.  It was
broken again when the Clinton administration rigged the inflation measure
in order to beat retirees out of their cost-of-living adjustments.  To
have any real Medicare coverage, a person has to give up part of his
Social Security check to pay Medicare Part B premium and then take out a
private supplemental policy.  The true cost of Medicare to beneficiaries
is about $6,000 annually in premiums, plus deductibles and the Medicare
tax if the person is still earning.

Treasury Secretary Geithner, the fox in charge of the hen house, has
resolved the problem for us.  He is going to withhold $165 million (the
amount of the AIG bonuses) from the next taxpayer payment to AIG of
$30,000 million. If someone handed you $30,000 dollars, would you mind if
they held back $165?

PR flaks have rechristened the bonus payments "retention payments"
necessary if AIG is to retain crucial employees.  This lie was shot down
by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who informed the House
Committee on Financial Services that the payments went to members of AIG's
Financial Products subsidiary, "the unit of AIG that was principally
responsible for the firm's meltdown".  As for retention, Cuomo pointed out
that "numerous individuals who received large 'retention' bonuses are no
longer at the firm" .

Eliot Spitzer, the former New York Governor who was set-up in a sex
scandal to prevent him investigating Wall Street's financial gangsterism,
pointed out on March 17 that the real scandal is the billions of taxpayer
dollars paid to the counter-parties of AIG's financial deals.  These
payments, Spitzer writes, are "a way to hide an enormous second round of
cash to the same group that had received TARP money already".

Goldman Sachs, for example, had already received a taxpayer cash infusion
of $25 billion and was sitting on more than $100 billion in cash when the
Wall Street firm received another $13 billion via the AIG bailout.

Moreover, in my opinion, most of the billions of dollars in AIG
counter-party payments were unnecessary.  They represent gravy paid to
firms that had made risk-free bets, the non-payment of which constituted
no threat to financial solvency.

Spitzer identifies a conflict of interest that could possibly be criminal
self-dealing.  According to reports, the AIG bailout decision involved
Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, formerly of Goldman Sachs, Goldman
Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and Timothy
Geithner, former New York Federal Reserve president and currently
Secretary of the Treasury.  No doubt the incestuous relationships are the
reason the original bailout deal had no oversight or transparency.

The Bush/Obama bailouts require serious investigation.  Were these
bailouts necessary, or were they a scam, like "weapons of mass
destruction," used to advance a private agenda behind a wall of fear?
Recently I heard Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, a member of a
congressional bailout oversight panel, say on NPR that the US has far too
many banks.  Out of the financial crisis, she said, should come
consolidation with the financial sector consisting of a few mega-banks.
Was the whole point of the bailout to supply taxpayer money for a program
of financial concentration?

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be
reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com


--------13 of 17--------

And Why America Needs It
Why Business is Hysterical About Card Check
By MIKE WHITNEY
March 19, 2009
CounterPunch

Big business has launched a no-holds-barred propaganda blitz against the
Employee Free Choice Act. Their goal is to scare people into believing
that if the bill passes it will trigger higher unemployment and a deeper
recession. According to opponents, there's even the threat of creeping
socialism. The truth, of course, is far less dramatic. The Employee Free
Choice Act or so called "card check" simply makes it easier for unions to
organize. Here's a short summary of the bill posted on the Change To Win
web site:

Majority Rules, Not the Boss:

Currently, a majority of workers can sign up for a union, but the company
can veto that decision and demand an election. This allows the company to
fire or harass workers, and threaten that it will close the workplace, in
order to coerce workers into voting against a union. Under EFCA, if a
majority of employees sign cards indicating they want a union, the company
has to recognize the union, as long as it is certified by the National
Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

That's it. All that's needed for union certification is for a majority of
workers to sign cards. No one is coerced into doing anything they don't
want to do; it's completely voluntary. There's nothing in the process that
will have any material effect on the economy and, despite all the
fearmongering, union goons will not force people to sing L'Internationale
at baseball games or make them wear funny-looking blue jumpsuits to work.
It's just a better way to organize, which is why the Chamber of Commerce
and other business organizations are in a lather.

There are provisions that deal with contract negotiations and bargaining
in good faith, but those are added to discourage management from dragging
its feet on contracts (which is a typical strategy). The bill also gives
the government the power to settle disputes on wages and benefits through
binding arbitration.  And, yes, there are penalties for firing workers for
engaging union activity, but most people think these are both fair and
reasonable.

Naturally, the boardroom bullyboys are worried that more of the profits
will trickle down to workers instead of being transferred to off-shore
bank accounts in the Caribbean. Too bad; the corporate mucky-mucks will
just have to scrape by with a little less.

The lies and disinformation about the EFCA have been extreme. This is the
major issue for business and it shows. The Wall Street Journal has run
five anti-EFCA articles this week alone, each one more vicious than the
last. It will take a huge effort to get this bill passed. It all depends
on how much pressure the unions can bring to bear on Congress.

In the last few weeks, the rhetoric has gotten more and more incendiary.
Here's a typical anti-EFCA posting in the Kansas City Star by Larry Marsh:

"The United States Congress is considering, in effect, denying workers the
right to a secret ballot in union certification voting under the so-called
Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)...This is no doubt good news to Mr. Mugabe
in Zimbabwe and General Than Shwe in Myanmar.

Vladimir Putin in Russia will be glad to know that the United States
Congress does not consider the secret ballot to be essential to democracy.

The Chinese government will now have a way to get foreigners to stop
meddling in its affairs. With "open" "free-choice" voting, it can become a
western-style "democracy."

It is a shameful day in America when the United States Congress even
considers legislation to take away a worker's right to the secret ballot.

If we let the secret ballot go by the wayside, what will be next -- the
Free Speech Choice Act (FSCA)?"

Does Marsh really think he can change hearts and minds with this type of
claptrap?  Public relations are a means of shaping opinion through
perception management, not hitting people over the head with a
sledgehammer. Apparently, the desperation is so overpowering that
discretion has been abandoned altogether. And it's easy to see why.
According to a new survey, more than half of Americans have already made
up their minds on the issue. They like the idea of making it easier to
join unions. Here's the story from Gallup:

A new Gallup Poll finds just over half of Americans, 53 per cent,
favoring a new law that would make it easier for labor unions to organize
workers; 39 per cent oppose it. This is a key issue at stake with the
Employee Free Choice Act now being considered in Congress.

The poll reveals sharply differing reactions to the issue within the
general public according to political orientation. Most Democrats (70 per
cent) say they would favor a law that facilitates union organizing, while
a majority of Republicans (60 per cent) say they would oppose it.
Independents lean in favor of such a law, 52 per cent vs. 41 per cent.

Previous Gallup polling has shown that Americans are fundamentally
sympathetic to labor unions, and these underlying attitudes are no doubt
reflected in their general support for legislation characterized as making
it easier for workers to unionize. For example, Gallup's annual polling on
workplace issues, conducted each August, has found consistently high
approval of labor unions in recent years, including a 59 per cent approval
rating last summer. The current level of support for a new law
facilitating more union membership - 53 per cent in favor - is only
slightly less favorable to unions. (Majority Receptive to Law Making Union
Organizing Easier, Lydia Saad, Gallup)

There it is in black and white. The public hasn't been hoodwinked by big
business's saturation campaign. The majority still supports unions and
think it should be easier to join. In fact, there would probably be even
greater support if they knew how much money was being spent to torpedo the
EFCA. According to Cleveland Indy Media Center:

"Powerful Corporate Front Groups... are carrying out one of the biggest
Anti-Union Busting campaigns in history, hoping to wrench public opinion
in their direction and spread misinformation about the Employee Free
Choice Act...Several anti-union Corporate Front Groups plan to
collectively spend almost $100 million in the next year against the bill
and those who support it. The breakdown is as follows (from the National
Journal):

Chamber of Commerce: $20-30 million

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace: $30 million

Employee Freedom Action Committee: $30 million

Freedom's Watch: $30 million (from one anti-union contributor)

Center for Union Facts: unknown, but in the millions.

And this, from the Wall Street Journal:

"Pro-business organizations have spent millions on ads in key states in
the past year. The Center for Union Facts ran $20 million in ads in 2008
against the bill." (Unionizing Fight Focuses on Three States", Kris Maher,
Wall Street Journal)

The most zealous opponent of the EFCA has been Murdoch's Wall Street
Journal. The WSJ's biggest fear is that Obama might heed the call of his
progressive constituents and lead the country in the direction of what the
Journal derisively calls "The European Model", which features higher
wages, protection against pay discrimination, and better health benefits.

Again, the Wall Street Journal:

"In Euro-terms, a "social market economy" offers state-provided health
care, generous unemployment benefits, long holidays, various job
protections and a prominent role for unions. Sounds good, you might say.
But consider that the Europeans have spent the past two decades struggling
to wean themselves off entitlements that are a huge drain on the overall
economy. These welfare states leech off the productive parts of the
economy through onerous taxes, debt and regulations.

Everyone ends up paying. Consider just one measure: the tax wedge, the
share of labor costs that never reaches an employee's wallet but goes
straight to state coffers. In Belgium, Germany and France, the tax wedge
is around 50 per cent; in America, it was 30per cent in 2007. (See the
nearby table.) Not coincidentally, salaries and job opportunities are
better here, especially for the least-skilled. The Obama budget, universal
health care and now the union-revival effort known as the Employee Free
Choice Act would steer America toward the Continent. That's good for the
unions, but not for the public good.....The 2009 debate over Big Labor's
agenda is about whether we want to continue to be a dynamic,
entrepreneurial nation, or slip into unionized decline." (Labor's European
model, Wall Street Journal)

What nonsense.  Anyone who's spent time in Europe knows that workers are
better off than their American counterparts. Who wouldn't want six weeks
paid vacation per year and a secure retirement? Or should we assume that
the free market loonies who oppose EFCA would rather stay true to the
principles of "scorched earth" capitalism and accept less pay, crappier
benefits and zero health care, just so the top 1 per cent can afford gold
plated bath taps.

The anti-EFCA coalition has tried a number of strategies,  but has yet to
settle on any one course of action.  Sen. John Thune blurted out one of
the talking points earlier in the week in an interview with the Washington
Post. Thune said,  "In a time when we have an economy that's already
struggling, we can't put more burdensome regulations on employers. This is
a job killer for our economy when we really don't need it."

This sounds reasonable, but in fact, Thune's got it all wrong. As Sen. Tom
Harkin points out in the same article:

"In 1935, we passed the Wagner Act that promoted unionization and allowed
unions to flourish, and at the time we were at around 20 percent
unemployment. So tell me again why we can't do this in a recession?...This
is the time to do it. This is exactly the time we should be insisting on a
fairer playing field for people to organize themselves."

Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union adds
this:

"The truth is that Franklin Roosevelt passed those laws (The Wagner Act)
under similar circumstances, and from 1945 to 1974, we had an era where
workers' wages and productivity was joined together...It was probably the
most tested economic stimulus of any public policy that has worked for
us."  (Alec MacGillis, Washington Post, Labor Union Bill Raises Broader
Capitalism Issues)

Stern makes a good point. The reason the economy is contracting so
violently, is that for the last decade, growth in the US has depended
almost exclusively on debt-fueled consumer spending and Wall Street
alchemy. When the credit bubble finally burst in late 2006, the
over-leveraged financial institutions were forced to reduce their debts
quickly which drove down prices on all asset classes and sent unemployment
into the stratosphere. This never would have happened if workers. wages
had kept pace with production. Any downturn would have meant a short
period of retrenchment, rather than a precipitous decline from the
unwinding of massive leverage. The surest path to sustainable growth is a
well paid workforce. That, and that alone, is the secret for maintaining
strong consumer demand and, thus, financial stability. Unions are an
essential part of that mix because they create internal demand for goods
and services through the efficient distribution of capital. If workers
cannot afford the things they make, then the economy becomes increasingly
dependent on exports, which means that it is more vulnerable to
fluctuations in foreign markets.

Here's a passage from Henry C.K. Liu's "The Global Economy in Transition"
that sheds a little light on this topic:

"The theory of rising wages asserts that employers should understand that
rising wages are the only venue of assuring strong demand for their
products, supported by the theory of technology-driven productivity
increases, and the broad-based ownership of securities to spread wealth.
The historical data show that the largest average increases in purchasing
power have taken place at recession times when employers and bankers tried
their best to keep wages down, but the stickiness of wages made wage
deflation slower that price deflation, as in the 1920-22 depression. The
result was that when full employment returned in 1923, US workers had
higher purchasing power than they had in 1920. But average manufacturing
worker's yearly income decreased by $55 between 1923 and 1928, a miner's
income by $187. Falling wages amid prosperity was a major structural
cause, albeit little noticed, of the 1929 crash. If wages had been higher,
equity prices would not have risen as much, thus dampening the speculative
fever. Wealth effects from the speculative boom made low wages tolerable
and caused a corresponding rise in debt without altering prudential debt
to equity ratios. But when the speculative bubble burst, debt-equity
ratios skyrocketed and there were insufficient wage levels to sustain
consumption. Similar conditions appear to be facing the US economy now.

After the 1929 crash, the economic downward spiral was caused mainly by
falling wages. Despite all promises of maintaining production, goods could
not be sold as fast as they were produced because of a collapse of income
due to layoffs and wage reductions. Globalization in the past two decades
temporarily kept US purchasing power increasing despite a slow growth of
domestic wages. This resulted from still lower wages in the emerging
markets. Now the world is awash with overcapacity in relations to low
demand caused by insufficient wage levels.  ("The Global Economy in
Transition", Henry C.K. Liu)

Unions have steadily lost ground since the 1950s when they represented 32
per cent of the total workforce in the US. Today, union membership has
dwindled to less than 8 percent, which is too small to have any real
impact on policy. Even if we ignore the appalling lack of political power
or the growing wealth gap, which is greater than any time since the Gilded
Age, the same fundamental problem still arises: How does one sustain
aggregate demand if wages stay stagnant? The answer is; it can't be done,
which is why labor must have a bigger place at the table to level the
playing field. The only way to build a strong, stable economy, and avoid
the boom and bust cycles brought on by speculative bubbles, is by
empowering workers and making sure they are fairly compensated for their
labor. The Employee Free Choice Act is an important first step in that
direction.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at
fergiewhitney [at] msn.com.


--------14 of 17--------

From the New Deal to the New Democrats    [Nude Enemacrats? -ed]
The Economy in Two Eras of Democrats
By SAM SMITH
March 19, 2009
CounterPunch

Egregious as the bonuses being given the AIG crowd are, they are a
miniscule part of the bailout and while they need to be dealt with, we
shouldn't obsess over them.

Politicians and the media love to get us in a furor over minor segments of
a much larger problem, in part because they can understand bits and pieces
while the real crisis leaves them and others befuddled.

Far more serious problems with the bailout include the inordinate amount
dedicated to ineffective tax cuts, questions concerning the larger bank
bailout, the elitist bias of some of the measures (epitomized by four
times as much for high speed business class rail riders than for ordinary
coach riders and little at all for bus riders), the low level of aid to
high job producing small business, and - perhaps worst of all - the small
number of new jobs anticipated - even by the Obama administration.

In fact, Obama's job projections are about the same as has occurred under
the average Democratic administration since the 1940s. While this is
approximately twice as many as Republican presidents have been able to
produce, it falls far short of what is needed during the worst economic
disaster since the great depression.

Why so few jobs?

It doesn't seem so much a political matter as a cultural one, a massive
shift in our ability to solve problems as American life has become more
institutionalized, technocratic and layered with bureaucracy.

Franklin Roosevelt managed to fight the depression with a White House
staff smaller than that Mrs. Clinton's when she was First Lady. He fought
World War II with less staff than Al Gore when he was vice president.

During the Clinton years, on the other hand, Lars-Erick Nelson wrote in
the New York Daily News, "On Friday, I telephoned the Pentagon press
office and told the colonel who answered the phone that I needed
information on duplication in the armed forces. He replied: "You want the
other press office."

A decade and a half later, it's just gotten worse. A National Park Service
official explained to me how his agency was reacting to the stimulus. One
problem: if you start a new project you have to go through a lengthy
environment review, so you put many of these aside for the time being and
concentrate on things like repairing park watch towers - things that are
already there that no one has to approve.

In late summer of 1933, when it appeared that the National Recovery
Administration would not be able to provide adequate employment, FDR aide
Harry Hopkins began laying the groundwork for a jobs program. Hopkins -
who had pledged to himself to put four million people to work within four
weeks - fell somewhat short. In the first four weeks only 2.8 million
workers were put on the government payroll. Hopkins didn't reach the four
million goal until January.

In other words, Harry Hopkins got the same number of people employed in
four weeks as Obama has promised within two years.

It was a different time in other ways. For example, Democrats didn't
apologize for the federal government as June Hopkins explained in
Presidential Studies Quarterly:

"One hot summer day in 1935, federal relief administrator Harry Hopkins
presented his plan for alleviating the effects of the Great Depression to
a group of shirt-sleeved Iowa farmers, not noted for their liberal ideals.
As Hopkins began to describe how government-sponsored jobs on public
projects would provide both wages for the unemployed and a stimulus for
foundering businesses, a voice shouted out the question that was on
everyone's mind: 'Who's going to pay for all that?' . . .

"'You are,' Hopkins shouted, 'and who better? Who can better afford to pay
for it. Look at this great university. Look at these fields, these forests
and rivers. This is America, the richest country in the world. We can
afford to pay for anything we want. And we want a decent life for all the
people in this country. And we are going to pay for it."

With the capitulation to the vocabulary and values of the right under
Clinton, the Democrats have lost their capacity for progressive policy and
action. Today, Obama is far more interested in what the GOP thinks than in
what imaginative progressives in Congress and elsewhere might be
advocating. A post-partisan depression has settled in. Worse, the
solutions that come out of this approach tend to ones that no one really
wants.

To use the archaic language of the party's earlier days, we need jobs and
business - not stunningly non-specific stimuli and fiscal packages, but
things people can see and feel, leading them to invest in America again as
well.

Because the New Deal understood this, not only did it create employment it
built or repaired 200 swimming pools and 103 golf courses, 3,700
playgrounds, 40,000 schools, 12 million feet of sewer pipe, 1,000
airports, 2,500 hospitals, 2,500 sports stadiums, 3,900 schools, 8,192
parks, 15,000 playgrounds, 124,031 bridges and 125,110 public buildings,
and thousands of miles of highways and roads. Add to that the programs for
youth and for artists and writers and the result was something it is hard
for us to even imagine today.

And it wasn't just the New Deal. Among its opponents was Governor Huey
Long of Louisiana who thought Roosevelt too conservative. Long, in one
four year term, reports Wikipedia, increased the mileage of paved highways
in Louisiana: "By 1936, Long had [doubled] the state's road system. He
built 111 bridges, and started construction on the first bridge over the
lower Mississippi. He built the new Louisiana State Capitol, at the time
the tallest building in the South. All of these construction projects
provided thousands of much-needed jobs during the Great Depression. . .

"Long's free textbooks, school-building program, and free busing improved
and expanded the public education system, and his night schools taught
100,000 adults to read. He greatly expanded funding for LSU, lowered
tuition, established scholarships for poor students, and founded the LSU
School of Medicine in New Orleans. He also doubled funding for the public
Charity Hospital System, built a new Charity Hospital building for New
Orleans, and reformed and increased funding for the state's mental
institutions. His administration funded the piping of natural gas to New
Orleans and other cities and built the seven-mile Lake Pontchartrain
seawall and New Orleans airport. Long slashed personal property taxes and
reduced utility rates. His repeal of the poll tax in 1935 increased voter
registration by 76 percent in one year."

FDR got his pressure from the left; Obama gets his from the right thanks
to the unwillingness of progressives to push him. FDR could take action
without a gang of media manipulators telling him to be careful. There
wasn't an inordinate pyramid of bureaucracy chipping away at every
decision before it went into action. Liberals had more passion than status
and really cared about those at the bottom of the American heap.

Are we trapped forever in this contemporary paradigm? Or can we face what
has happened to us and start to change it? Can liberals once again
represent the ordinary American or can such Americans only expect a few
nods in their direction? Can we condemn a whole class of citizens because
of what we fear some rightwing Republicans will say if we do something
real to help them?

This is a time when status, style and semantics won't save us. Reality has
entered the house of America without knocking. It can't be spun away. And
time is running out.

Sam Smith is the editor of the Progressive Review, where this column
originally appeared.


--------15 of 17--------

Left Out From Obama's Health Care Summit
by Helen Redmond
March 19th, 2009
Dissident Voice

Barack Obama promised to put fixing America's broken health care system at
the top of his agenda as president. But supporters of the one solution
that could actually work were at the bottom of his White House invitation
list.

As Obama's White House health care summit approached on March 5, advocates
of a so-called "single-payer" system, under which the government would
cover everyone, eliminating the role of private insurers, were stunned to
learn they weren't invited. It was an insult to organizations that have
been warning for years about the health care crisis-in-the-making and
putting forward the single-payer alterative - Physicians for a National
Health Program (PNHP), the California Nurses Association (CNA) and
Healthcare-NOW!

Rep. John Conyers, the sponsor of a bill, known by its official
designation HR 676, that would establish single-payer, personally asked
Obama for an invitation when the two met at a Congressional Black Caucus
meeting. The answer was no.

Only because people flooded the White House with angry phone calls, faxes
and e-mails, and PNHP threatened to protest, the administration relented
and reluctantly invited Conyers and Oliver Fein, the president of PNHP.

At the summit, Obama stated: "In this effort, every voice must be heard.
Every idea must be considered. Every option must be on the table. There
will be no sacred cows in this discussion".

This simply isn't true. Obama and his advisers have stated openly and
unequivocally that as far as they are concerned, single-payer isn't on the
table - and the White House guest list for the summit proves the point.
[Obama is off the table]

Summit invitations went out to more than 120 "stakeholders," [1] every one
of them opposed to single-payer, save for Conyers and Fein. It was a
rogue's gallery of profit-seeking, price-gouging, highly compensated
corporate criminals from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
[Longer yachts! Longer yachts!]

Among them were Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health
Insurance Plans (AHIP), annual compensation $1,236,422; Scott Serota, CEO
of Blue Cross Blue Shield, annual compensation $1,498,018; Jeff Kindler,
CEO of Pfizer, annual compensation $12.6 million; and Ken Powell, member
of the Business Roundtable and CEO of General Mills, annual compensation
$6,515,047.

Another invitation went to Billy Tauzin, a former Republican member of
Congress notorious for his sleazy deals, and now, as president and CEO of
the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the top
lobbyist for the drug company giants.

There were representatives from patient organizations and unions at the
table, too: the American Cancer Society, AARP, Families USA, the Service
Employees International Union, the United Auto Workers, and the AFL-CIO.
Unfortunately, the leaders of these organizations still accept that there
is a role for the private insurance industry, even while many of their
members do not.

Watching the breakout sessions streaming live over the Internet was both
infuriating and surreal. The "stakeholders" sat side by side at the same
table, laughing and smiling - among them, CEOs responsible for a health
care crisis that has left 50 million Americans uninsured and that causes
the needless deaths of 18,000 and 100,000 people every year, depending on
who is doing the estimating.

Meanwhile, not one union leader or patient advocate or political leader
was willing to point out the responsibility of the insurance and
pharmaceutical industry for the crisis. Not one dared to speak truth to
power, not even Conyers.

Obama set the tone for the meeting by asserting, "Each of us must accept
that none of us will get everything we want, and no proposal for reform
will be perfect. While everyone has a right to take part in this
discussion, no one has the right to take it over". Yet in each of the five
breakout sessions, the insurance industry did dominate the discussion.
Moreover, the moderators of each session were all foes of single-payer,
including Zeke Emanuel, a physician and brother of White House Chief of
Staff Rahm Emanuel.

At the end of the forum, Obama handed the microphone to Ignagni, the voice
of the insurance industry, who declared, "We hear the American people
about what's not working. We've taken that seriously. You have our
commitment to play, to contribute, and to help pass health care reform
this year".

Really? Is this the same Ignagni whose AHIP bankrolled the infamous Harry
and Louise television commercials 15 years ago in a successful attempt to
smear the Clinton administration's health care reform effort (though the
Clintons certainly helped by putting forward a compromised proposal).

Does anyone seriously believe the AHIP would be willing to play fair if it
didn't think the Obama administration was preparing to deliver "reform" on
terms that preserve its interests and profits?

Single-payer advocates never even got in the door in Sen. Ted Kennedy's
secret meetings on health care. According to the New York Times, Kennedy
has been holding behind-closed-doors gatherings since last fall with
lobbyists from AHIP, PhRMA, the Business Roundtable and others.

These clandestine, invitation-only sessions were designed to whittle down
options for health care reform under the Obama presidency, with the health
care industry setting the parameters of what would be acceptable.
Reportedly, the insurance industry got a guarantee from Kennedy that
single-payer wouldn't be on the table. [Ted Kennedy is off the table]

According to the Times, the consensus in the Kennedy meetings embraced
so-called "mandates" - a legal requirement that every American have health
insurance. As a memo written by a Kennedy staffer and leaked to the Times
put it:

[T]he sense of the room is that an individual obligation to purchase
insurance should be part of reform if that obligation is coupled with
effective mechanisms to make coverage meaningful and affordable. There
seems to be a sense of the room that some form of tax penalty is an
effective means to enforce such an obligation, though only on those for
whom affordable coverage is available.

According to the Times, the industry lobbyists at Ted's table said they
would accept stricter regulation, including a requirement to offer
coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions, but only if the
federal government requires everyone to buy coverage.

This is essentially the same scheme for insurance mandates that was passed
in Massachusetts in 2006, under then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a right-wing
Republican. [Massachussetts insurance is off the table]

Under the Massachusetts law, for those who don't have employer-provided
coverage, the state subsidizes sub-standard insurance coverage for the
poor, and requires those in other income brackets to buy policies or pay a
tax penalty - this year, it will be over $1,000.

In other words, the insurance companies make money coming and going, and
ordinary people pay the price. A recent study by doctors at Harvard
Medical School, titled "Massachusetts Plan: A Failed Model for Health
Care Reform," shows the Massachusetts mandate model isn't financially
sustainable or truly affordable for those required to buy private
insurance.

The plan hasn't even attained its stated goal of "universal" coverage:
over 200,000 people in Massachusetts are still uninsured, and that number
will increase as a result of rising unemployment. That is the other major
flaw in the model - it continues to link health insurance to employment.

The cost of an individual plan in Massachusetts averages around $3,500 for
an individual and $10,000 for a family. The Commonwealth Choice program
classifies commercial plans into four levels: Gold, Silver, Bronze and
Young Adult. The lower-priced Bronze plans have a $2,000 per person
deductible, co-pays and restrictions on where care is provided. The
message: We won't all be Michael Phelps.

As for the federal "reform" effort, insurance executives have made it
clear they will oppose the creation of a new public Medicare-like option,
with the government providing health care benefits. The insurers complain
this would be unfair competition - Ignagni has called such proposals "a
'stalking horse' to drive the nation toward a single-payer government
system". [Health insurance companies are off the table]

The insurance companies want "reform" that delivers the entire nation to
their doorstep and forces us to buy private insurance from them at prices
they set. They definitely don't want any option that lets people opt out
of their system and choose a public plan, as no doubt millions would, if
given a choice.

In a distortion of the single-payer slogan "Everybody in, nobody out," the
insurers want everybody in and nobody out . . . of their private,
for-profit system. [Longer yachts! Longer yachts!]

The health care summit was a reality check for anyone who may have had
illusions that Obama would advocate for a single-payer system once he got
into office. Despite saying that he would favor such a system if he was
"starting from scratch," Obama is clearly opposed to single-payer under
the current circumstances. On the contrary, he has invited the parasitical
insurance industry to continue to play a central role in health care.

The administration is holding health care forums in five states, and
activists are planning to hold protests and pickets to make sure the
message of the single-payer movement is heard. The hope for winning health
care justice for all doesn't lie with political leaders, but with
organizing and protest at the grassroots.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Activists for single-payer plan to make their voices heard at
demonstrations outside the White House forums on health care reform taking
place around the country. See the home page of the California Nurses
Association Web site for more details as they become available. The group
Healthcare-NOW! also has information about the protests.

Physicians for a National Health Program has a Web site that makes the
case for a government-administered single-payer program and has
information on single-payer legislation sponsored by Rep. John Conyers.

Nancy Welch's article, "National Health Care: A Dream Deferred," in the
International Socialist Review, examines what it will take to win health
care for all. Also in the ISR, Helen Redmond uncovers the crooked
practices of the pharmaceutical industry in "Bitter Medicine".

Helen Redmond writes for Socialist Worker, where this article first
appeared. Thanks to Alan Maass. Read other articles by Helen, or visit
Helen's website.


--------16 of 17--------

Too Big to Fail is Too Big
by David Korten
Published on Thursday, March 19, 2009 by YES! Magazine
Common Dreams

In a September 22, 2008 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!,
Senator Bernie Sanders famously said that if a bank "is too big to fail,
it probably is too big to exist." That should be a watchword slogan of any
effort to fix the financial system. Major responsibility for the financial
collapse rests with the deregulation process that allowed for the
consolidation of banking power in the hands of Wall Street. Reversing that
process should be an immediate priority.

Before Wall Street there was Main Street

I recall the time when banks were community institutions that were limited
by law to being single outlet community service organizations. It was
called unitary banking. Each bank was rooted in and expected to serve the
needs of its community. Deregulation unleashed a wave of consolidation
through mergers and acquisitions that shifted the focus from serving Main
Street to making as much money as possible for Wall Street. To have a
financial system that works, we must reverse the deregulation process and
restore the concept of community banking. Nothing less is going to solve
the problem.

Wall Street holds government hostage

In a March 8, 2009 CBS Sixty Minutes interview with Sheila Blair, head of
the FDIC, it was noted that when one of the smaller banks fails, it is
taken over by the FDIC. The depositors are protected by the FDIC. The
owners, however, lose everything.

In the interview with Blair, which comes toward the end of the segment
documenting the FDIC take over of a small failed bank, she notes that the
FDIC doesn't have the jurisdiction to take over the large Wall Street
financial conglomerates that bear the major responsibility for the
financial collapse. As the moderator points out, the owners and managers
of the small banks are left with nothing. The big banks get government
bailouts.

Of the latter Blair says, "Going forward, I think we need to really review
the size of these institutions and whether we should do something about
that, frankly... I think that may be something that Congress needs to
think about... I think taxpayers rightfully should ask that if an
institution has become so large that there is no alternative except for
the taxpayers to provide support, should we allow so many institutions to
exceed that kind of threshold?"

It is encouraging that this question is being raised by a top government
official in the financial sector as it is exactly what Congress needs to
address. Unfortunately, the FDIC is not acting on the advice of its own
head. Rather than breaking up the bank it took over in Chicago and selling
each of its five branches individually to local investors to operate as
local community banks, the FDIC quickly sold the whole operation to a
larger regional bank, moving in exactly the opposite direction from that
Blair is herself suggesting. Of course moving toward greater consolidation
under a bigger established bank is a lot easier for the FDIC than selling
individual banks to individual investor groups that may have very little
banking experience. Moving to deconcentration and decentralization takes
serious effort.

Bailout now, solutions later
The need to break up big banks also came up in a March 15, 2009 episode of
Sixty Minutes in what is billed as the first ever media interview with a
Federal Reserve chairman. In this interview Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
discusses the Fed's functions and its response to the financial crisis.

In Part I. Bernanke makes explicit reference to a trillion dollars the
Federal Reserve has loaned to troubled banks at a near zero interest rate
in the hope they will use it to get credit flowing again. He explains that
the Fed essentially printed the money simply by entering numbers into the
Federal Reserve accounts of the assisted banks. This is essentially giving
the private banks that created the crisis free use of a trillion dollars.
There is no mention in the interview about who received the money, how it
is being used, what rules apply, or whether there is any oversight.

Bernanke argues that given the emergency, the Fed must give priority to
getting money flowing through the banking system by pouring in money. He
mentions a need to implement new regulatory measures and force the break
up of the big banks, but calls for doing so after the system is
stabilized.

In Part II, the 60 minutes moderator asks Bernanke: "How do we prevent
this from occurring another time?" Bernanke responds: "Well, tougher
regulation of large firms. It includes having a set of laws that allows us
to wind down a large, internationally active firm, without the adverse
impacts on the markets that a disorderly bankruptcy would have. It
includes possibly having a systemic regulator. A regulator that has some
responsibility to look at the system as a whole."

Restructure first

At first glance, Bernanke's plan for stability first and restructuring
later sounds sensible and responsible. It is, however, technically and
politically naive. You can't fill a bucket with no bottom. Wall Street
institutions have already demonstrated that they can divert bailout money
to private ends with no evident public benefit as fast as government can
pour it in.

Assume for the sake of argument that the Federal Reserve is successful and
the big banks do open the flow of credit to productive ends. Will Wall
Street reform follow?

Not likely. The pressure will be off and Wall Street interests will be in
full voice shouting: "The system is working. Interference by government is
an unwarranted socialist intrusion on the market and private interests. It
will have terrible consequences for the economy." Politicians who depend
on Wall Street political donations will fold their reform tent, and Wall
Street will get on with creating the next financial bubble in a build up
to the next crash.

Wall Street will continue to play out its extortion racket so long as the
public is willing to put up with the bail out first, reform latter
capitulation of the Federal Reserve and the FDIC. There must be a strong
and immediate public demand to restructure first.

The government needs to take over the big banks now, as many leading
economists are advocating. Sorting out the tainted assets after the banks
are nationalized will be a great deal easier and cheaper.

Once cleaned up, government should sell the banks to private investors,
but not to Wall Street predators to run into the ground again. Break them
up and sell the pieces to local investors to operate as community banks,
mutual savings and loan associations, and credit unions within a strict
regulatory framework that restores the concept of individual local banks
devoted to meeting the financial service needs of their communities. Never
again should any private bank be accountable only to Wall Street or be too
big to fail.

David Korten wrote this article in response to CBS's Sixty Minutes
interview with Ben Bernanke, March 15, 2009. David's latest book is Agenda
for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth (published by
Berrett-Koehler, Feb 2009). Read an extract. David is also the author of
the international bestseller When Corporations Rule the World and The
Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. He is co-founder and board
chair of YES! Magazine, and a board member of the Business Alliance for
Local Living Economies. www.davidkorten.org

[Capitalism is off the table]


--------17 of 17--------

 Nude Enemacrats
 have the runs some Novembers.
 That explains the smell.


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