Progressive Calendar 09.14.09
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).


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