|Progressive Calendar 09.14.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2009 14:03:29 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 09.14.09 1. Grannies on trial 9.14 9am 2. Other NRC 8 trial 9.14 9am 3. Housing policy 9.14 6:30pm 4. NWN4P vigil 9.15 4:45pm 5. RNC court watch 9.15 6pm 6. Kip/single payer 9.15 6:30pm 7. Pakistan/law/film 9.15 7pm 8. DFL RCV event 9.15 7pm 9. David Shove - Progressive radio schedule 10. Chris Hedges - Stop begging Obama to be Obama and get mad 11. PC Roberts - The health care deceit 12. Harvey Wasserman - The Supreme Court and corporate money 13. Stephen Mihm - Why capitalism fails --------1 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Grannies on trial 9.14 9am Grannies on Trial for Attempting to Enlist Monday, September 14, 9:00 a.m. Hennepin County Courthouse, 300 South 6th Street, Minneapolis. As an organization, WAMM doesn't engage in civil disobedience, but this trial should be of interest to the public as the defendants, all Grandmothers for Peace, cite their reasons for trying to enlist with military recruiters on Zero Recruitment Day. Lucia Wilkes Smith, Sue Ann Martinson and Sarah Martin will go on trial Monday morning at the Hennepin County Courthouse. The "Grannies" were charged by St. Louis Park with trespassing at the recruiting office in Knollwood Mall on April 23rd when they tried to enlist. The Grannies will represent themselves and have a jury trial, unless St. Louis Park dismisses the charges. Hear what the Grannies have to say in their defense. --------2 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Other NRC 8 trial 9.14 9am Trial of "the Other RNC 8" Peace Activists Monday, September 14, 9:00 a.m. and Tuesday, September 15, (If you plan to attend Tuesday, call 612-724-3255 Monday night, or e-mail: steveclemens [at] msn.com for more information.) Ramsey County District Court,15 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul. As an organization, WAMM doesn't engage in civil disobedience, but this trial should be of interest to the public as the defendants cite international law - the Nuremberg Tribunals and international treaties in their defense. Eight peace activists who engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Republican National Convention to protest both the war in Iraq and U.S. prisoner torture policies, face trial beginning Monday morning in Ramsey County District Court. The eight include full-time peace and social justice activists, homemakers, veterans, a nun, a retired general surgeon, and a college professor. They are Joshua Brollier, Steve Clemens, David Harris, Jeanne Hynes, Betty McKenzie, Dan Pearson, Mary Vaughan, and Joel Weisberg. The activists call themselves "the oOther RNC 8" to distinguish themselves from another group of eight facing more serious charges in connection with protests at the convention. The eight plan to cite International Treaties and the Nuremberg Tribunals in their defense. Although it took place near the site of the Republican Convention, the action was aimed at protesting the policies of both major political parties. Trial open to the public, who can watch the proceedings in the courtroom. --------3 of 13-------- From: Lynne mayo <LLEN [at] usfamily.net> Subject: Housing policy 9.14 6:30pm Training I Housing Policy Training 6:30 - 9 pm Mondays, beginning September 14 The Public Policy Project invites you to participate in a free 16-week training on how and where housing policy decisions are made, and how to effectively engage the policy making process. The Housing Policy Training program prepares participants to make their voice and views on housing issues heard through direct participation in nonprofit or advocacy organizations and city, county, regional and state governments. The program consists of eight evening training sessions and a six-week field work experience. --------4 of 13-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P vigil 9.15 4:45pm NWN4P vigil every Tuesday. Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM. All welcome; bring your own or use our signs. --------5 of 13-------- From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC court watch 9.15 6pm RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing court information, documentation and etc. RNC Court Watchers Meetings are every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our meetings. Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this intimidation, harassment and abuse! Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent people. Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405 Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M participate and help organize RNC court solidarity. For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! --------6 of 13-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Kip/single payer 9.15 6:30pm HI, This Tuesday, Kip Sullivan will be our guest. I, for one, am looking forward to "Understanding the Healthcare Reform: The Train Wreck from Washington" which is his topic. Kip has dedicated many years being an advocate of Single Payer Healthcare. He has spoken and written numerous articles about it. If you are confused about this whole mess, please come and listen and ask questions. An article by him was sent out last week. Let me know if you didn't get it and i will resend it. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------7 of 13-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Pakistan/law/film 9.15 7pm "Dishonored" Women's Human Rights Film Series Tuesday, September 15, 7 p.m. Hamline Midway Branch Library, 1558 West Minnehaha Ave., Saint Paul This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 651-222-3242 or friends [at] thefriends.org The Women's Human Rights Film Series, a program presented by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and The Advocates for Human Rights, returns for its 5th season of films and discussions with a screening of "Dishonored" on Tuesday, September 15, 7 p.m., at the Hamline Midway Branch Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave., Saint Paul. "Dishonored," a film by Sigrun Norderval & Gard A. Andreassen, documents the remarkable story of Mukhtar Mai. In June 2002, a dispute between clans in rural Pakistan was judged by a local tribal council, and when Mukhtar Mai pleaded on her family's behalf, the local imam consented to her punishment as honor-revenge. She was brutally gang-raped by four men from the other clan, and instead of committing suicide, reported the violence to the police. Her demand for justice received media coverage worldwide, and over the next few years led to a dramatic series of legal proceedings through Pakistan's court system, eventually leading to changes in the legal system. The discussion following the film is hosted by Mary C. Ellison, staff attorney in the Women's Program at The Advocates, and Maliha Husain, Board Chair of the MG Foundation (www.mgf-usa.org <http://www.mgf-usa.org>). This program is free and open to the public. Look for more films monthly through April 2010. For more information, please call The Friends at 651-222-3242 or go online at www.thefriends.org <http://www.thefriends.org/>. Founded in 1983, The Advocates for Human Rights is a non-governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of internationally recognized human rights. For information on The Advocates for Human Rights and their programs, please visit www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org <http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/>. --------8 of 13-------- From: Melissa <smilyus [at] msn.com> Subject: DFL RCV event 9.15 7pm Someone forwarded this to me - so if you know anyone going, tell them whatever they do to NOT rank Susan Gaertner as a choice - or for that matter Chris Coleman or Rybak.. Though apparently this is free and open to all...even non-DFL and non-Minneapolis residents. -- You Are Invited Majority Rules Practice in September for Ranked Choice Voting in November September 15, 2009 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Three locations throughout Minneapolis! * North Commons Park, 1701 Golden Valley Rd. * Tiger Sushi, 2841 Lyndale Ave. S. (Outdoors, on the patio. $5 and $10 Bento boxes will be available.) * Communication Workers of America, 3521 E. Lake St. This is a Ranked Choice Voting education event on the day that would have been the Primary Election had Ranked Choice Voting (aka Instant Runoff Voting) not been adopted by voters in 2006. Learn how to vote using RCV and then practice by ranking your choices for declared and presumptive DFL governor candidates. Results will be announced at each location that night, with ballots later tallied for a city-wide result. Free and open to all! Proof of DFL membership or Minneapolis residency is not required. [ie you don't have to drag your knuckles] Learn how to vote using RCV and then practice by ranking your choices for declared and presumptive DFL governor candidates. Prepared and paid for by Minneapolis DFL Party, www.mplsdfl.org. --------9 of 13-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: PROGRESSIVE RADIO Schedule - updated 09.14.09 PROGRESSIVE RADIO Schedule - updated 09.14.09 MONDAY 5am-6am Democracy Now KFAI 12noon-1pm Democracy Now KFAI 5-6pm Mike McIntee AM950 Quick on the uptake. local 6-7pm Mark Heaney AM950 Minnesota matters. local 7-8pm Ron Reagan AM950 8-11pm Mike Malloy AM950 TUESDAY 5am-6am Democracy Now KFAI 12noon-1pm Democracy Now KFAI 5-6pm Mike McIntee AM950 Quick on the uptake. local 6-7pm Mark Heaney AM950 Minnesota matters. local 7-8pm Ron Reagan AM950 8-11pm Mike Malloy AM950 WEDNESDAY 5am-6am Democracy Now KFAI 11am-12noon Andy Driscoll KFAI local 12noon-1pm Democracy Now KFAI 5-6pm Mike McIntee AM950 Quick on the uptake. local 6-7pm Mark Heaney AM950 Minnesota matters. local 7-8pm Ron Reagan AM950 8-11pm Mike Malloy AM950 THURSDAY 5am-6am Democracy Now KFAI 12noon-1pm Democracy Now KFAI 5-6pm Mike McIntee AM950 Quick on the uptake. local 6-7pm Mark Heaney AM950 Minnesota matters. local 7-8pm Ron Reagan AM950 8-11pm Mike Malloy AM950 FRIDAY 5am-6am Democracy Now KFAI 11-11:30am Lydia Howell KFAI Catalyst. local 11:30-12noon Don Olson KFAI Northern sun. local 12noon-1pm Democracy Now KFAI 5-6pm Mike McIntee AM950 Quick on the uptake. local 6-7pm Mark Heaney AM950 Minnesota matters. local 6-6:30pm Counterspin KFAI 7-8pm Ron Reagan AM950 8-11pm Mike Malloy AM950 SATURDAY 12noon-1pm Evthing Green AM950 Maloney, North. Sustainability. local 4-7pm Ring of Fire AM950 Kennedy, Papantonio, Bender SUNDAY 9-10am Atheists Talk AM950 local 3-4pm James Mayer AM950 local. especially health care 7-10pm Ring of Fire AM950 Kennedy, Papantonio, Bender KFAI FM 90.3 and 106.7 AM950 - You can listen online ANYWHERE IN MINNESOTA to AM950. Call up am950ktnf.com click on "listen" key in your MN zipcode that's it. The guys now on the 5-7pm shows favor single payer, are actively in sympathy with Rosemary Williams, small business, etc. A nice change from a few months back when it was the DFL line no matter what. AM950 has more hours than any other station in the area. Good. The main problem with AM950 is the ads - 5 minutes per break, and at least 4 of those per hour. Fortunately they are scheduled at standard times during the hour, so if you don't like being yelled at to "CALL 1-800-123-4567, that's 1-800-123-4567, again, 1-800-123-4567..." you can do as I do, and just switch it off for the standard 5 minutes and come back for non-ad content. For this you will need a radio or radio remote close to hand, and a clock (big is good). A good time to meditate in blessed silence. "Hey you - yeah YOU - CALL 1-800-123-4567 RIGHT NOW!" Oops, I switched back too soon... If you have additions to suggest email me at shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu --------10 of 13-------- Stop Begging Obama to Be Obama and Get Mad by Chris Hedges Monday, September 14, 2009 TruthDig.com The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country's future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state. The right wing is not wrong. It is not the problem. We are the problem. If we do not tap into the justifiable anger sweeping across the nation, if we do not militantly push back against corporate fraud and imperial wars that we cannot win or afford, the political vacuum we have created will be filled with right-wing lunatics and proto-fascists. The goons will inherit power not because they are astute, but because we are weak and inept. [Amen. -ed] Violence is a dark undercurrent of American history. It is exacerbated by war and economic decline. Violence is spreading outward from the killing fields in Iraq and Afghanistan to slowly tear apart individuals, families and communities. There is no immunity. The longer the wars continue, the longer the members of our working class are transformed by corporate overlords into serfs, the more violence will dominate the landscape. The slide into chaos and a police state will become inevitable. The soldiers and Marines who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are often traumatized and then shipped back a few months later to be traumatized again. This was less frequent in Vietnam. Veterans, when they get out, search for the usual escape routes of alienation, addictions and medication. But there is also the escape route of violence. We risk creating a homegrown Freikorps, the demobilized German soldiers from World War I who violently tore down the edifice of the Weimar Republic and helped open the way to Nazism. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have unloaded hundreds of thousands of combat troops, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, back into society. According to a joint Veterans Affairs Department-University of San Francisco study published in July, 418,000 of the roughly 1.9 million service members who have fought in or supported the wars suffer from PTSD. As of August 2008, the latest data available, about a quarter-million military veterans were imprisoned on any given day - about 9.4 percent of the total daily imprisoned population, according to the National GAINS Center Forum on Combat Veterans, Trauma and the Justice System. There are 223,000 veterans in jail or prison cells on an average day, and an unknown number among the 4 million Americans on probation. They don't have much to look forward to upon release. And if any of these incarcerated vets do not have PTSD when they are arrested, our corrections system will probably rectify the deficiency. Throw in the cocktail of unemployment, powerlessness, depression, alienation, anger, alcohol and drugs and you create thousands, if not tens of thousands, who will seek out violence the way an addict seeks out a bag of heroin. War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I know what prolonged exposure to industrial slaughter does to you. I know what it is to confront memories, buried deep within the subconscious, which jerk you awake at night, your heart racing and your body covered in sweat. I know what it is like to lie, unable to sleep, your heart pounding, trying to remember what it was that caused such terror. I know how it feels to be overcome by the vivid images of violence that make you wonder if the dream or the darkness around you is real. I know what it feels like to stumble through the day carrying a shock and horror, an awful cement-like despair, which you cannot shed. And I know how after a few nights like this you are left numb and exhausted, unable to connect with anyone around you, even those you love the most. I know how you drink or medicate yourself into a coma so you do not have to remember your dreams. And I know that great divide that opens between you and the rest of the world, especially the civilian world, which cannot imagine your pain and your hatred. I know how easily this hatred is directed toward those in that world. There are minefields of stimulants for those who return from war. Smells, sounds, bridges, the whoosh of a helicopter, thrust you back to Iraq or another zone of slaughter, back to a time of terror and blood, back to the darkest regions of your heart, regions you wish did not exist. Life, on some days, is a simple battle to stay upright, to cope with memories and trauma that are unexplainable, probably unimaginable, to those seated across from you at the breakfast table. Families will watch these veterans fall silent, see the thousand-yard stare, and know they have again lost these men and women. They hope somehow they will come back. Some won't. Those who cannot cope, even by using Zoloft or Paxil, blow their brains out with drugs, alcohol or a gun. More Vietnam veterans died from suicide in the years after the war than during the conflict itself. But it would be a mistake to blame this on Vietnam. War does this to you. It destroys part of you. You live maimed. If you are not able to live maimed, you check out. But what happens in a society where everything conspires to check you out even when you make the herculean effort to integrate into the world of malls, celebrity gossip and too many brands of cereal on a supermarket shelf? What happens when the corporate state says that you can die in its wars but at home you are human refuse, that there is no job, no way to pay your medical bills or your mortgage, no hope? Then you retreat into your private hell of rage, terror and alienation. You do not return from the world of war. You yearn for its sleek and powerful weapons, its speed and noise, its ability to abolish the lines between sanity and madness. You long for the alluring, hallucinogenic landscapes of combat. You miss the psychedelic visions of carnage and suffering, the smells, sounds, shrieks, explosions and destruction that jolt you back to the present, which make you aware in ways you never were before. The thrill of violence, the God-like power that comes when you can take a human life with impunity, is matched against the pathetic existence of waiting for an unemployment check. You look to rejoin the fraternity of killers. Here. There. It no longer matters. There is a yawning indifference at home about what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hollow language of heroism and glory, used by the war makers and often aped by those in the media, allows the nation to feel good about war, about "service." But it is also a way of muzzling the voices that attempt to tell us the truth about war. And when these men and women do find the moral courage to speak, they often find that many fellow Americans turn away in disgust or attack them for shattering the myth. The myth of war is too enjoyable, and too profitable, to be punctured by reality. And so these veterans nurse their fantasies of power. They begin to hate those who sent them as much as they hate those they fought. Some cannot distinguish one from the other. As I stared into the faces of the men from A Gathering of Eagles on Saturday at a protest calling for the closure of the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, I recognized these emotions. These men had arrived on black motorcycles. They were wearing leather jackets. They had lined up, most holding large American flags, to greet the protesters, some of whom were also veterans. They chanted "Traitors!" at the seven people who were arrested for refusing the police order to leave the premises. They sought vindication from a system that had, although they could not admit it, betrayed them. They yearned to be powerful, if only for a moment, if only by breaking through the police line and knocking some God-hating communist faggot to the ground. They wanted the war to come home. It is we who are guilty, guilty for sending these young men and women to wars that did not have to be fought. It is we who are guilty for turning away from the truth of war to wallow in a self-aggrandizing myth, guilty because we create and decorate killers and when they come home maimed and broken we discard them. It is we who are guilty for failing to defy a Democratic Party that since 1994 has betrayed the working class by destroying our manufacturing base, slashing funds to assist the poor and cravenly doing the bidding of corporations. It is we who are guilty for refusing to mass on Washington and demand single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. It is we who are guilty for supporting Democrats while they funnel billions in taxpayer dollars to sustain speculative Wall Street interests. The rage of the confused and angry right-wing marchers, the ones fired up by trash-talking talk show hosts, the ones liberals belittle and maybe even laugh at, should be our rage. And if it is not our rage soon, if we continue to humiliate and debase ourselves by begging Obama to be Obama, we will see our open society dismantled not because of the shrewdness of the far right, but because of our moral cowardice. [Amen. -ed] 2009 TruthDig.com Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. --------11 of 13-------- It is the War in Afghanistan Obama Declared a "Necessity," Not Health Care The Health Care Deceit By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS CounterPunch September 14, 2009 The current health care "debate" shows how far gone representative government is in the United States. Members of Congress represent the powerful interest groups that fill their campaign coffers, not the people who vote for them. The health care bill is not about health care. It is about protecting and increasing the profits of the insurance companies. The main feature of the health care bill is the "individual mandate," which requires everyone in America to buy health insurance. Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont), a recipient of millions in contributions over his career from the insurance industry, proposes to impose up to a $3,800 fine on Americans who fail to purchase health insurance. [Time for general strikes. Bring the country to a halt rather than pay extortion to the insurnce mafia. -ed] The determination of "our" elected representatives to serve the insurance industry is so compelling that Congress is incapable of recognizing the absurdity of these proposals. The reason there is a health care crisis in the US is that the cumulative loss of jobs and benefits has swollen the uninsured to approximately 50 million Americans. They cannot afford health insurance any more than employers can afford to provide it. It is absurd to mandate that people purchase what they cannot afford and to fine them for failing to do so. A person who cannot pay a health insurance premium cannot pay the fine. These proposals are like solving the homeless problem by requiring the homeless to purchase a house. In his speech Obama said "we'll provide tax credits" for "those individuals and small businesses who still can't afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange" and he said low-cost coverage will be offered to those with preexisting medical conditions. A tax credit is useless to those without income unless the credit is refundable, and subsidized coverage doesn't do much for those millions of Americans with no jobs. [Who any longer has any hope for/in Obama? -ed] Baucus masquerades as a defender of the health impaired with his proposal to require insurers to provide coverage to all comers as if the problem of health care can be reduced to preexisting conditions and cancelled policies. It was left to Rep. Dennis Kucinich to point out that the health care bill ponies up 30 million more customers for the private insurance companies. The private sector is no longer the answer, because the income levels of the vast majority of Americans are insufficient to bear the cost of health insurance today. To provide some perspective, the monthly premium for a 60-year old female for a group policy (employer-provided) with Blue Cross Blue Shield in Florida is about $1,200. That comes to $14,400 per year. Only employees in high productivity jobs that can provide both a livable salary and health care can expect to have employer-provided coverage. If a 60-year old female has to buy a non-group policy as an individual, the premium would be even higher. How, for example, is a Wal-Mart shelf stocker or check out clerk going to be able to pay a private insurance premium? Even the present public option--Medicare--is very expensive to those covered. Basic Medicare is insufficient coverage. Part B has been added, for which about $100 per month is deducted from the covered person's Social Security check. If the person is still earning or has other retirement income, an "income-related monthly adjustment" is also deducted as part of the Part B premium. And if the person is still working, his earnings are subject to the 2.9 percent Medicare tax. Even with Part B, Medicare coverage is still insufficient except for the healthy. For many people, additional coverage from private supplementary policies, such as the ones sold by AARP, is necessary. These premiums can be as much as $277 per month. Deductibles remain and prescriptions are only 50% covered. If the drug prescription policy is chosen, the premium is higher. This leaves a retired person on Medicare who has no other retirement income of significance paying as much as $4,500 per year in premiums in order to create coverage under Medicare that still leaves half of his prescription medicines out-of-pocket. Considering the cost of some prescription medicines, a Medicare-covered person with Part B and a supplementary policy can still face bankruptcy. Therefore, everyone should take note that a "public option" can leave people with large out-of-pocket costs. I know a professional who has chosen to continue working beyond retirement age. His Medicare coverage with supplemental coverage, Medicare tax, and income-related monthly adjustment comes to $16,400 per year. Those people who want to deny Medicare to the rich will cost the system a lot of money. What the US needs is a single-payer not-for-profit health system that pays doctors and nurses sufficiently that they will undertake the arduous training and accept the stress and risks of dealing with illness and diseases. A private health care system worked in the days before expensive medical technology, malpractice suits, high costs of bureaucracy associated with third-party payers and heavy investment in combating fraud, and pressure on insurance companies from Wall Street to improve "shareholder returns". Despite the rise in premiums, payments to health care providers, such as doctors, appear to be falling along with coverage to policy holders. The system is no longer functional and no longer makes sense. Health care has become an incidental rather than primary purpose of the health care system. Health care plays second fiddle to insurance company profits and salaries to bureaucrats engaged in fraud prevention and discovery. There is no point in denying coverage to one-sixth of the population in the name of saving a nonexistent private free market health care system. The only way to reduce the cost of health care is to take the profit and paperwork out of health care. Nothing humans design will be perfect. However, Congress is making it clear to the public that the wrong issues are front and center, such as the belief of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and others that illegal aliens and abortions will be covered if government pays the bill. Debate focuses on subsidiary issues, because Congress no longer writes the bills it passes. As Theodore Lowi made clear in his book, The End of Liberalism, the New Deal transferred law-making from the legislative to the executive branch. Executive branch agencies and departments write bills that they want and hand them off to sponsors in the House and Senate. Powerful interest groups took up the same practice. The interest groups that finance political campaigns expect their bills to be sponsored and passed. Thus: a health care reform bill based on forcing people to purchase private health insurance and fining them if they do not. When bills become mired in ideological conflict, as has happened to the health care bill, something usually passes nevertheless. The president, his PR team, and members of Congress want a health care bill on their resume and to be able to claim that they passed a health care bill, regardless of whether it provides any health care. The cost of adding public expenditures for health care to a budget drowning in red ink from wars, bank bailouts, and stimulus packages means that the most likely outcome of a health care bill will benefit insurance companies and use mandated private coverage to save public money by curtailing Medicare and Medicaid. The public's interest is not considered to be the important determinant. The politicians have to please the insurance companies and reduce health care expenditures in order to save money for another decade or two of war in the Middle East. The telltale part of Obama's speech was the applause in response to his pledge that "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits". Yet, Obama and his fellow politicians have no hesitation to add trillions of dollars to the deficit in order to fund wars. The profits of military/security companies are partly recycled into campaign contributions. To cut war spending in order to finance a public health care system would cost politicians campaign contributions from both the insurance industry and the military/security industry. Politicians are not going to allow that to happen. It was the war in Afghanistan, not health care, that President Obama declared to be a "necessity". [Start learning about general strikes. -ed] Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. His new book, War of the Worlds: How the Economy Was Lost, will be published next month by AK Press/CounterPunch. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com --------12 of 13-------- The Four Courtsmen of the Apocalypse The Supreme Court and Corporate Money By HARVEY WASSERMAN CounterPunch September 14, 2009 The Four Courtsmen of the Apocalypse are poised to finally bury American democracy in corporate money. The most powerful institution in human history - the global corporation - may soon take definitive possession of our electoral process. It could happen very soon. While America agonizes over health care, energy and war, Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas could make it all moot. They may now have the fifth Supreme Court vote they need to open the final floodgates on corporate spending in political campaigns. In short, the Court may be poised to shred a century of judicial and legislative attempts to preserve even a semblance of restraint on how Big Money buys laws and legal decisions. The ensuing tsumani of corporate cash could turn every election hence into a series of virtual slave auctions, with victory guaranteed only to those candidates who most effectively grovel at the feet of the best-heeled lobbyists. Not that this is so different from what we have now. The barriers against cash dominating our elections have already proven amazingly ineffective. But a century ago, corporations were barred from directly contributing to political campaigns. The courts have upheld many of the key requirements. Meanwhile the barons of Big Money have metastasized into all-powerful electoral juggernauts. The sum total of all these laws, right up to the recently riddled McCain-Feingold mandates, has been to force the corporations to hire a few extra lawyers, accountants and talk show bloviators to run interference for them. Even that may be too much for the Court's corporate core. John Roberts' Supremes may now be fast-tracking a decision on CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, centered on a corporate-financed campaign film attacking Hillary Clinton. According to the Washington Post's account of oral arguments, "a majority of the court seemed impatient with an increasingly complicated federal scheme intended to curb the role of corporations, unions and special interest groups in elections." Former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson, who in 2000 "persuaded" the Court to stop a recount of votes in Florida and put George W. Bush in the White House, said such laws "smothered" the First Amendment and "criminalized" free speech. The conservative Gang of Four has already been joined by Anthony Kennedy, the Court's swing voter, in signaling the likely overturn of two previous decisions upholding laws that ban direct corporate spending in elections. When he was confirmed as the Court's Chief, Roberts promised Congress he would be loathe to overturn major legal precedents. But the signals of betrayal now seem so clear that Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold have issued personal statements warning Roberts that a radical assault on campaign finance laws would be considered a breach of faith with the Congress that confirmed him. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did assert during oral arguments that "a corporation, after all, is not endowed by its creator with inalienable rights." But since the 1880s the courts have generally granted corporations human rights with no human responsibilities. Thom Hartmann (UNEQUAL PROTECTION) and Ted Nace (GANGS OF AMERICA) have shown with infuriating detail how corporate lawyers twisted the 14th Amendment, designed to protect the rights of freed slaves, into a legal weapon used to bludgeon the democratic process into submission. Civil libertarians like Floyd Abrams and the American Civil Liberties Union have somehow argued that depriving these mega-conglomerations of cash and greed their "right" to buy elections might somehow impinge on the First Amendment. But the contradiction between human rights and corporate power is at the core of the cancer now killing our democracy. As early as 1815 Thomas Jefferson joined Tom Paine in warning against the power of "the moneyed aristocracy." In 1863 sometime railroad lawyer Abraham Lincoln compared the evils of corporate power with those of slavery. By the late 1870s Rutherford B. Hayes, himself the beneficiary of a stolen election, mourned a government "of, by and for the corporations." The original US corporations - there were six at the time of the Revolution - were chartered by the states, and restricted as to what kinds of business they might do and where. After the Civil War, those restrictions were erased. As Richard Grossman and the Project on Corporate Law & Democracy have shown, the elastic nature of the corporate charter has birthed a mutant institution whose unrestrained money and power has transformed the planet. Simply put, globalized corporations, operating solely for profit, have become the most dominant institutions in human history, transcending ancient emperors, feudal lords, monarchs, dictators and even the church in their wealth, reach and ability to dominate all avenues of economic and cultural life. The Roberts Court now seems intent on disposing of the feeble, flimsy McCain-Feingold campaign finance law as well as the 1990 AUSTIN decision that upheld a state law barring corporations from spending to defeat a specific candidate. Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas all voted to overturn McCain-Feingold in 2003, and nobody doubts Roberts and Alito will join them now. The only question seems centered on how broad the erasure will be. This, after all, is a "conservative" wing whose intellectual leader, Antonin Scalia, recently argued that wrongly convicted citizens can be put to death even if new evidence confirms their innocence. Should our worst fears be realized, the torrent of cash into the electoral process could sweep all else before it. With five corporations controlling the major media and all members of the courts, Congress and the Executive at the mercy of corporate largess, who will heed the people? "We don't put our First Amendment rights in the hands of Federal Election Commission bureaucrats," said Roberts said in the oral arguments. Instead he may put ALL our rights in the hands of a board room barony whose global reach and financial dominance are without precedent. At this point, only an irreversible ban on ALL private campaign money - corporate or otherwise - might save the ability of our common citizenry to be heard. Those small pockets where public financing and enforceable restrictions have been tried DO work. A rewrite of all corporate charters must ban political activity and demand strict accountability for what they do to their workers, the natural environment and the common good. It was the property of the world's first global corporation - the East India Tea Company - that our revolutionary ancestors pitched into Boston Harbor. Without a revolution to now obliterate corporate personhood and the "right" to buy elections, we might just as well throw in the illusion of a free government. This imminent, much-feared Court decision on campaign finance is likely to make the issue of corporate money versus real democracy as clear as it's ever been. Likewise the consequences. Harvey Wasserman has been writing about atomic energy and the green alternatives since 1973. His 1982 assertion to Bryant Gumbel on NBC's TODAY Show that people were killed at TMI sparked a national mailing from the reactor industry demanding a retraction. NBC was later bought by Westinghouse, still a major force pushing atomic power. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw [at] aol.com --------13 of 13-------- Why Capitalism Fails The man who saw the meltdown coming had another troubling insight: it will happen again by Stephen Mihm Published on Monday, September 14, 2009 by The Boston Globe Common Dreams Since the global financial system started unraveling in dramatic fashion two years ago, distinguished economists have suffered a crisis of their own. Ivy League professors who had trumpeted the dawn of a new era of stability have scrambled to explain how, exactly, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression had ambushed their entire profession. Amid the hand-wringing and the self-flagellation, a few more cerebral commentators started to speak about the arrival of a "Minsky moment," and a growing number of insiders began to warn of a coming "Minsky meltdown." "Minsky" was shorthand for Hyman Minsky, a hitherto obscure macroeconomist who died over a decade ago. Many economists had never heard of him when the crisis struck, and he remains a shadowy figure in the profession. But lately he has begun emerging as perhaps the most prescient big-picture thinker about what, exactly, we are going through. A contrarian amid the conformity of postwar America, an expert in the then-unfashionable subfields of finance and crisis, Minsky was one economist who saw what was coming. He predicted, decades ago, almost exactly the kind of meltdown that recently hammered the global economy. In recent months Minsky's star has only risen. Nobel Prize-winning economists talk about incorporating his insights, and copies of his books are back in print and selling well. He's gone from being a nearly forgotten figure to a key player in the debate over how to fix the financial system. But if Minsky was as right as he seems to have been, the news is not exactly encouraging. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness. Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse. In other words, the one person who foresaw the crisis also believed that our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. "Instability," he wrote, "is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism." Minsky's vision might have been dark, but he was not a fatalist; he believed it was possible to craft policies that could blunt the collateral damage caused by financial crises. But with a growing number of economists eager to declare the recession over, and the crisis itself apparently behind us, these policies may prove as discomforting as the theories that prompted them in the first place. Indeed, as economists re-embrace Minsky's prophetic insights, it is far from clear that they're ready to reckon with the full implications of what he saw. In an ideal world, a profession dedicated to the study of capitalism would be as freewheeling and innovative as its ostensible subject. But economics has often been subject to powerful orthodoxies, and never more so than when Minsky arrived on the scene. That orthodoxy, born in the years after World War II, was known as the neoclassical synthesis. The older belief in a self-regulating, self-stabilizing free market had selectively absorbed a few insights from John Maynard Keynes, the great economist of the 1930s who wrote extensively of the ways that capitalism might fail to maintain full employment. Most economists still believed that free-market capitalism was a fundamentally stable basis for an economy, though thanks to Keynes, some now acknowledged that government might under certain circumstances play a role in keeping the economy - and employment - on an even keel. Economists like Paul Samuelson became the public face of the new establishment; he and others at a handful of top universities became deeply influential in Washington. In theory, Minsky could have been an academic star in this new establishment: Like Samuelson, he earned his doctorate in economics at Harvard University, where he studied with legendary Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, as well as future Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief. But Minsky was cut from different cloth than many of the other big names. The descendent of immigrants from Minsk, in modern-day Belarus, Minsky was a red-diaper baby, the son of Menshevik socialists. While most economists spent the 1950s and 1960s toiling over mathematical models, Minsky pursued research on poverty, hardly the hottest subfield of economics. With long, wild, white hair, Minsky was closer to the counterculture than to mainstream economics. He was, recalls the economist L. Randall Wray, a former student, a "character." So while his colleagues from graduate school went on to win Nobel prizes and rise to the top of academia, Minsky languished. He drifted from Brown to Berkeley and eventually to Washington University. Indeed, many economists weren't even aware of his work. One assessment of Minsky published in 1997 simply noted that his "work has not had a major influence in the macroeconomic discussions of the last thirty years." Yet he was busy. In addition to poverty, Minsky began to delve into the field of finance, which despite its seeming importance had no place in the theories formulated by Samuelson and others. He also began to ask a simple, if disturbing question: "Can 'it' happen again?" - where "it" was, like Harry Potter's nemesis Voldemort, the thing that could not be named: the Great Depression. In his writings, Minsky looked to his intellectual hero, Keynes, arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century. But where most economists drew a single, simplistic lesson from Keynes - that government could step in and micromanage the economy, smooth out the business cycle, and keep things on an even keel - Minsky had no interest in what he and a handful of other dissident economists came to call "bastard Keynesianism." Instead, Minsky drew his own, far darker, lessons from Keynes's landmark writings, which dealt not only with the problem of unemployment, but with money and banking. Although Keynes had never stated this explicitly, Minsky argued that Keynes's collective work amounted to a powerful argument that capitalism was by its very nature unstable and prone to collapse. Far from trending toward some magical state of equilibrium, capitalism would inevitably do the opposite. It would lurch over a cliff. This insight bore the stamp of his advisor Joseph Schumpeter, the noted Austrian economist now famous for documenting capitalism's ceaseless process of "creative destruction." But Minsky spent more time thinking about destruction than creation. In doing so, he formulated an intriguing theory: not only was capitalism prone to collapse, he argued, it was precisely its periods of economic stability that would set the stage for monumental crises. Minsky called his idea the "Financial Instability Hypothesis." In the wake of a depression, he noted, financial institutions are extraordinarily conservative, as are businesses. With the borrowers and the lenders who fuel the economy all steering clear of high-risk deals, things go smoothly: loans are almost always paid on time, businesses generally succeed, and everyone does well. That success, however, inevitably encourages borrowers and lenders to take on more risk in the reasonable hope of making more money. As Minsky observed, "Success breeds a disregard of the possibility of failure." As people forget that failure is a possibility, a "euphoric economy" eventually develops, fueled by the rise of far riskier borrowers - what he called speculative borrowers, those whose income would cover interest payments but not the principal; and those he called "Ponzi borrowers," those whose income could cover neither, and could only pay their bills by borrowing still further. As these latter categories grew, the overall economy would shift from a conservative but profitable environment to a much more freewheeling system dominated by players whose survival depended not on sound business plans, but on borrowed money and freely available credit. Once that kind of economy had developed, any panic could wreck the market. The failure of a single firm, for example, or the revelation of a staggering fraud could trigger fear and a sudden, economy-wide attempt to shed debt. This watershed moment - what was later dubbed the "Minsky moment" - would create an environment deeply inhospitable to all borrowers. The speculators and Ponzi borrowers would collapse first, as they lost access to the credit they needed to survive. Even the more stable players might find themselves unable to pay their debt without selling off assets; their forced sales would send asset prices spiraling downward, and inevitably, the entire rickety financial edifice would start to collapse. Businesses would falter, and the crisis would spill over to the "real" economy that depended on the now-collapsing financial system. >From the 1960s onward, Minsky elaborated on this hypothesis. At the time he believed that this shift was already underway: postwar stability, financial innovation, and the receding memory of the Great Depression were gradually setting the stage for a crisis of epic proportions. Most of what he had to say fell on deaf ears. The 1960s were an era of solid growth, and although the economic stagnation of the 1970s was a blow to mainstream neo-Keynesian economics, it did not send policymakers scurrying to Minsky. Instead, a new free market fundamentalism took root: government was the problem, not the solution. Moreover, the new dogma coincided with a remarkable era of stability. The period from the late 1980s onward has been dubbed the "Great Moderation," a time of shallow recessions and great resilience among most major industrial economies. Things had never been more stable. The likelihood that "it" could happen again now seemed laughable. Yet throughout this period, the financial system - not the economy, but finance as an industry - was growing by leaps and bounds. Minsky spent the last years of his life, in the early 1990s, warning of the dangers of securitization and other forms of financial innovation, but few economists listened. Nor did they pay attention to consumers' and companies' growing dependence on debt, and the growing use of leverage within the financial system. By the end of the 20th century, the financial system that Minsky had warned about had materialized, complete with speculative borrowers, Ponzi borrowers, and precious few of the conservative borrowers who were the bedrock of a truly stable economy. Over decades, we really had forgotten the meaning of risk. When storied financial firms started to fall, sending shockwaves through the "real" economy, his predictions started to look a lot like a road map. "This wasn't a Minsky moment," explains Randall Wray. "It was a Minsky half-century." Minsky is now all the rage. A year ago, an influential Financial Times columnist confided to readers that rereading Minsky's 1986 "masterpiece" - "Stabilizing an Unstable Economy" - "helped clear my mind on this crisis." Others joined the chorus. Earlier this year, two economic heavyweights - Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong - both tipped their hats to him in public forums. Indeed, the Nobel Prize-winning Krugman titled one of the Robbins lectures at the London School of Economics "The Night They Re-read Minsky." Today most economists, it's safe to say, are probably reading Minsky for the first time, trying to fit his unconventional insights into the theoretical scaffolding of their profession. If Minsky were alive today, he would no doubt applaud this belated acknowledgment, even if it has come at a terrible cost. As he once wryly observed, "There is nothing wrong with macroeconomics that another depression [won't] cure." But does Minsky's work offer us any practical help? If capitalism is inherently self-destructive and unstable - never mind that it produces inequality and unemployment, as Keynes had observed - now what? After spending his life warning of the perils of the complacency that comes with stability - and having it fall on deaf ears - Minsky was understandably pessimistic about the ability to short-circuit the tragic cycle of boom and bust. But he did believe that much could be done to ameliorate the damage. To prevent the Minsky moment from becoming a national calamity, part of his solution (which was shared with other economists) was to have the Federal Reserve - what he liked to call the "Big Bank" - step into the breach and act as a lender of last resort to firms under siege. By throwing lines of liquidity to foundering firms, the Federal Reserve could break the cycle and stabilize the financial system. It failed to do so during the Great Depression, when it stood by and let a banking crisis spiral out of control. This time, under the leadership of Ben Bernanke - like Minsky, a scholar of the Depression - it took a very different approach, becoming a lender of last resort to everything from hedge funds to investment banks to money market funds. Minsky's other solution, however, was considerably more radical and less palatable politically. The preferred mainstream tactic for pulling the economy out of a crisis was - and is - based on the Keynesian notion of "priming the pump" by sending money that will employ lots of high-skilled, unionized labor - by building a new high-speed train line, for example. Minsky, however, argued for a "bubble-up" approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government - or what he liked to call "Big Government" - should become the "employer of last resort," he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else's wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder. While economists may be acknowledging some of Minsky's points on financial instability, it's safe to say that even liberal policymakers are still a long way from thinking about such an expanded role for the American government. If nothing else, an expensive full-employment program would veer far too close to socialism for the comfort of politicians. For his part, Wray thinks that the critics are apt to misunderstand Minsky. "He saw these ideas as perfectly consistent with capitalism," says Wray. "They would make capitalism better." But not perfect. Indeed, if there's anything to be drawn from Minsky's collected work, it's that perfection, like stability and equilibrium, are mirages. Minsky did not share his profession's quaint belief that everything could be reduced to a tidy model, or a pat theory. His was a kind of existential economics: capitalism, like life itself, is difficult, even tragic. "There is no simple answer to the problems of our capitalism," wrote Minsky. "There is no solution that can be transformed into a catchy phrase and carried on banners." It's a sentiment that may limit the extent to which Minsky becomes part of any new orthodoxy. But that's probably how he would have preferred it, believes liberal economist James Galbraith. "I think he would resist being domesticated," says Galbraith. "He spent his career in professional isolation." 2009 The Boston Globe Stephen Mihm is a history professor at the University of Georgia and author of "A Nation of Counterfeiters" (Harvard, 2007). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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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