|Progressive Calendar 03.21.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|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,"  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. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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