|Progressive Calendar 03.15.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2010 01:56:03 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 03.15.10 1. Community Ag COA 3.15 6:30pm 2. Lani Guinier 3.16 5pm 3. Toxic environs 3.16 5pm 4. Free spaghetti din 3.16 6pm 5. Video activism 101 3.16 6pm 6. L Clifton poet 3.16 6:30pm 7. NewBroom/CUAPB - CRA Forum/3.23 7pm/PRESS RELEASE 8. Glenn Greenwald - The Democrats' scam becomes more transparent 9. Frank/StClair - Resurrecting a failed industry/ Obama & nuclear power 10. Hossein-Zadeh - Back to market fundamentalism --------1 of 10-------- From: Leslie Reindl <alteravista [at] usfamily.net> Subject: Community Ag COA 3.15 6:30pm Workshop Community Owned Agriculture (COA) - A Step Beyond the CSA Monday, March 15, 6:30 to 8 pm Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Ave., St. Paul How can city folks farm in the country? What would it take to become a food producer on actual farmland, without living in the country? And why would city folks want to do this, when they can grow food at a community garden close to home, or contract with a CSA farmer, or shop at a farmer's market? Some reasons: * To produce essential crops that need more acreage than the city usually provides, such as grains * To actually own production on a long-term lease or purchase of the land * To invest assets into real, productive property * To become part of a group that works together based on interest and investment, without necessarily doing farm work * To participate in a new type of land and farming reform * To opt further out of the industrial agriculture system * To slowly learn the essentials of farming, if desired, for future purposes This workshop presents a new concept in farming--how to become a co-producer, with others, of food on agricultural land leased or purchased by the group. It describes the first COA effort and how to participate in it. Presenters: Wilhelm and Leslie Reindl Wilhelm grew up on and ran a small dairy farm in southern Germany in the 1960s; Leslie was a board member of the Minnesota Food Assocation in the 1990s and has been active in agricultural issues ever since. They live in St. Paul but also own and garden on an ex-dairy farm in Wisconsin. Sponsored by Wilderness Connections, St. Paul FFI alteravista [at] usfamily.net, 651-633-4410 --------2 of 10-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Lani Guinier 3.16 5pm March 16: Minnesota Women Lawyers 2010 Winter Celebration with keynote speaker Lani Guinier, Civil Rights Attorney and First Tenured Black Woman Professor at Harvard. 5 PM at the Hyatt Regency, downtown Minneapolis. --------3 of 10-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Toxic environs 3.16 5pm Sweet St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 3/16 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 3/17, 10am "I'm Here to Help You: I'm with the Government" When does the government actually help people? Minnesota Pollution Control Agency scientist Jim Pennino provides practical tips and insights for safely navigating our increasingly toxic environment. Karen and Eric co-host. --------4 of 10-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: Free spaghetti dinner 3.16 6pm Free Spaghetti Dinner with the RNC 8 and Friends! Tuesday, March 16 6-7:30 p.m. Walker Church 3104 16th Ave S., Minneapolis (basement) It's spaghetti time! Come enjoy a delicious meal prepared by the RNC 8 and friends. Vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options will be available at our community meal. http://rnc8.org/2010/03/spaghettitime/ [Excellent food - ed] --------5 of 10-------- From: brian hokanson <bjhokanson [at] gmail.com> Subject: Video activism 101 3.16 6pm Video Activism 101 with Twin Cities Indymedia How do you videotape a protest rally? What are the best ways to document police actions? How do you digitize and share video online? Join Twin Cities Indymedia in a skill sharing workshop. With info from iWitness Video and Glassbead Collective, we build on experiences at the 2008 Republican National Convention, the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, and more. Covers: Basic equipment info, editing skills, reporting from demos/events, interviewing, conceiving video story ideas from start to finish. Tuesday, March 16 6:00-8:30pm U of M West Bank, Blegen Hall 115 map: http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/maps/BlegH/*<http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/maps/BlegH/> For more information and to register at the Experimental College site (or just show up!): http://excotc.org/content/video-activism-101-workshop-with-twin-cities-indymedia Twin Cities Indymedia: movement media for Minneapolis St. Paul | tc.indymedia.org --------6 of 10-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: L Clifton poet 3.16 6:30pm Tuesday, March 16, the salon will celebrate the recently deceased poet, Lucille Clifton. In a 1995 interview Clifton says this, "In this culture females have not even had permission to be poets until fairly recently. As an African American person, I'm fortunate in being outside those boundaries of definition, so I could be whatever. I mean, no one thought I was going to be a poet anyway. As a rule in this culture those boundaries about what one is supposed to be as a visible human being didn't include people of African descent, so I ignored them." You can find her poetry on the web, and on Bill Moyers' Journal on pbs.org. 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 10-------- CRA Forum/3.23 7pm/PRESS RELEASE Sponsored by the New Broom Coalition and CUAPB (Communities United Against Police Brutality) COMMUNITY FORUM ABOUT THE CIVILIAN POLICE REVIEW AUTHORITY (CRA) What is the future of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) in view of its recent and long-standing problems? Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 7:00pm Walker Community Methodist Church 3104 16th Ave. S., Mpls What is the future of the CRA? Will it be an effective agency to reduce police abuses? Or will it be window dressing to deflect community anger? Will it become so obviously powerless that it is either discarded or redesigned once again? The CRA board is currently in turmoil. Some important progress has been made by the board, particularly in its evaluation of Police Chief Dolan's performance relative to the CRA. Recently, internal divisions have led to the Board Chair's unilateral cancellation of the last board meeting, with no reason given. The board chair has also called for the resignation of one of the most active members, Dave Bicking. How can the CRA board move forward? How can the CRA be more effective? How can we help Dave Bicking, who is up for reappointment by City Council and the Mayor? These questions will be addressed by past and present members of the CRA and other long term activists against police brutality. All are welcome to come and share ideas, areas of disagreement, or any relevant information or experience. Speakers: Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) Dave Bicking, member of the CRA* Pam Franklin, member of the CRA* Michael Friedman, Executive Director of Legal Rights Center, and past Board Chair of the CRA Papa John Kolstad, sometime candidate, musician, small businessman, and political activist *for identification only, not speaking on behalf of the CRA board This forum comes just before the appointment of new members to the CRA and the possible reappointment of Dave Bicking. We hope to engage the community at this important time for the CRA and to provide information for action. New Broom Coalition: www.newbroomcoalition.net, or call Dave or Jan at 612-276-1213 CUAPB: www.cuapb.org, or call their hotline at 612-874-STOP --------8 of 10-------- The Democrats' scam becomes more transparent BY GLENN GREENWALD AP (updated below) A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about what seemed to be a glaring (and quite typical) scam perpetrated by Congressional Democrats: all year long, they insisted that the White House and a majority of Democratic Senators vigorously supported a public option, but the only thing oh-so-unfortunately preventing its enactment was the filibuster: sadly, we have 50 but not 60 votes for it, they insisted. Democratic pundits used that claim to push for "filibuster reform," arguing that if only majority rule were required in the Senate, then the noble Democrats would be able to deliver all sorts of wonderful progressive reforms that they were truly eager to enact but which the evil filibuster now prevents. In response, advocates of the public option kept arguing that the public option could be accomplished by reconciliation - where only 50 votes, not 60, would be required - but Obama loyalists scorned that reconciliation proposal, insisting (at least before the Senate passed a bill with 60 votes) that using reconciliation was Unserious, naive, procedurally impossible, and politically disastrous. But all those claims were put to the test - all those bluffs were called - once the White House decided that it had to use reconciliation to pass a final health care reform bill. That meant that any changes to the Senate bill (which had passed with 60 votes) - including the addition of the public option - would only require 50 votes, which Democrats assured progressives all year long that they had. Great news for the public option, right? Wrong. As soon as it actually became possible to pass it, the 50 votes magically vanished. Senate Democrats (and the White House) were willing to pretend they supported a public option only as long as it was impossible to pass it. Once reconciliation gave them the opportunity they claimed all year long they needed - a "majority rule" system - they began concocting ways to ensure that it lacked 50 votes. All of that was bad enough, but now the scam is getting even more extreme, more transparent. Faced with the dilemma of how they could possibly justify their year-long claimed support for the public option only now to fail to enact it, more and more Democratic Senators were pressured into signing a letter supporting the enactment of the public option through reconciliation; that number is now above 40, and is rapidly approaching 50. In other words, there is a serious possibility that the Senate might enact a public option if there is a vote on it, because it's very difficult for these Senators to vote "No" after pretending all year long - on the record - that they supported it. In fact, The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim yesterday wrote: "the votes appear to exist to include a public option. It's only a matter of will." The one last hope for Senate Democratic leaders was to avoid a vote altogether on the public option, thereby relieving Senators of having to take a position and being exposed. But that trick would require the cooperation of all Senators - any one Senator can introduce a public option amendment during the reconciliation and force a vote - and it now seems that Bernie Sanders, to his great credit, is refusing to go along with the Democrats' sham and will do exactly that: ignore the wishes of the Senate leadership and force a roll call vote on the public option. So now what is to be done? They only need 50 votes, so they can't use the filibuster excuse. They don't seem able to prevent a vote, as they tried to do, because Sanders will force one. And it seems there aren't enough Senate Democrats willing to vote against the public option after publicly saying all year long they supported it, which means it might get 50 votes if a roll call vote is held. So what is the Senate Democratic leadership now doing? They're whipping against the public option, which they pretended all year along to so vigorously support: Senate Democratic leaders are concerned about the amount of mischief their own Members could create if or when a health care reconciliation bill comes up for debate. And sources said some supporters of creating a public insurance option are privately worried that they will be asked to vote against the idea during debate on the bill, which could occur before March 26. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) acknowledged Wednesday that liberals may be asked to oppose any amendment, including one creating a public option, to ensure a smooth ride for the bill. "We have to tell people, 'You just have to swallow hard' and say that putting an amendment on this is either going to stop it or slow it down, and we just can't let it happen," Durbin, who supports a public option, told reporters. If - as they claimed all year long - a majority of Congressional Democrats and the White House all support a public option, why would they possibly whip against it, and ensure its rejection, at exactly the moment when it finally became possible to pass it? If majorities of the House and Senate support it, as does the White House, how could the inclusion of a public option possibly jeopardize passage of the bill? I've argued since August that the evidence was clear that the White House had privately negotiated away the public option and didn't want it, even as the President claimed publicly (and repeatedly) that he did. And while I support the concept of "filibuster reform" in theory, it's long seemed clear that it would actually accomplish little, because the 60-vote rule does not actually impede anything. Rather, it is the excuse Democrats fraudulently invoke, using what I called the Rotating Villain tactic (it's now Durbin's turn), to refuse to pass what they claim they support but are politically afraid to pass, or which they actually oppose (sorry, we'd so love to do this, but gosh darn it, we just can't get 60 votes). If only 50 votes were required, they'd just find ways to ensure they lacked 50. Both of those are merely theories insusceptible to conclusive proof, but if I had the power to create the most compelling evidence for those theories that I could dream up, it would be hard to surpass what Democrats are doing now with regard to the public option. They're actually whipping against the public option. Could this sham be any more transparent? UPDATE: One related point: when I was on Morning Joe several weeks ago, I argued this point - why aren't Democrats including the public option in the reconciliation package given that they have the 50 votes in favor of the public option - and, in response, Chuck Todd recited White House spin and DC conventional wisdom (needless to say) by insisting that they do not have the votes to pass the public option. If that's true - if they lack the votes to pass the public option through reconciliation? - why is Dick Durbin now whipping against it, telling Senators - in his own words - "You just have to swallow hard' and say that putting an amendment on this is either going to stop it or slow it down, and we just can't let it happen"? No discussion of the public option is complete without noting how much the private health insurance industry despises it; the last thing they want, of course, is the beginning of real competition and choice. --------9 of 10-------- Resurrecting a Failed Industry/ Obama and Nuclear Power By JOSHUA FRANK and JEFFREY ST. CLAIR CounterPunch March 12-14, 2010 He may soon be called the nuclear industry's Golden Child. No president in the last three decades has put more taxpayer dollars behind atom power than Barack Obama. And there may be good reason why the president is salivating over the prospect of building new nuclear power plants around the country. It was one of the most important issues of the 2008 presidential campaign. The perceived threat of global warming began to make even the most skeptical of politicians a bit nervous. Both the Democrats and Republicans proposed searching for more domestic oil supplies, promising to drill up and down the spine of the Rocky Mountains and even off the fragile coastlines of Florida and California. The future of planet Earth, they claimed, is more perilous than ever. Al Gore made his impact. Too bad the Gore effect is like a bad hangover: all headache and no buzz. The purported solution the Obama administration has heaved at the imminent warming crisis, nuclear technology, is just as hazardous as our current methods of energy procurement. Yet, Obama isn't the first Democrat in recent years to tout nuclear virtues. Al Gore, who wrote of the potential green merits of nuclear power in his book "Earth in the Balance," earned his stripes as a Congressman protecting the interests of two of the nuclear industry's most problematic enterprises, the TVA and the Oak Ridge Labs. And, of course, Bill Clinton backed the Entergy Corporation's outrageous plan to soak Arkansas ratepayers with the cost overruns on the company's Grand Gulf reactor, which provided power to electricity consumers in Louisiana. The Clinton years indeed saw an all-out expansion of nuclear power around the globe. First came the deal to begin selling nuclear reactors to China, announced during Jiang Zemin's 1997 visit to Washington, even though Zemin brazenly vowed at the time not to abide by the so-called "full scope safeguards" spelled out in the International Atomic Energy Act. The move was apparently made over the objections of Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, who cited repeated exports by China of "dual use" technologies to Iran, Pakistan and Iraq. The CIA also weighed in against the deal, pointing out in a report to the president, "China was the single most important supplier of equipment and technology for weapons of mass destruction" worldwide. In a press conference on the deal, Mike McCurry said these nuclear reactors will be "a lot better for the planet than a bunch of dirty coal-fired plants" and will be "a great opportunity for American vendors" - that is, Westinghouse. A day later, Clinton signed an agreement to begin selling nuclear technology to Brazil and Argentina for the first time since 1978, when Jimmy Carter canceled a previous deal after repeated violations of safety guidelines and nonproliferation agreements. In a letter to Congress, Clinton vouched for the South American countries, saying they had made "a definitive break with earlier ambivalent nuclear policies." Deputy National Security Adviser Jim Steinberg justified the nuclear pact with Brazil and Argentina as "a partnership in developing clean and reliable energy supplies for the future." Steinberg noted that both countries had opposed binding limits on greenhouse emissions and that new nuclear plants would be one way "to take advantage of the fact that today we have technologies available for energy use which were not available at the time that the United States and other developed countries were going through their periods of development." The atom lobby during the 1990s had a stranglehold on the Clinton administration and now they seem to have the same suffocating grip around the neck of Barack Obama. In 2006 Obama took up the cause of Illinois residents who were angry with Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power plant operator, for not having disclosed a leak at one of their nuclear plants in the state. Obama responded by quickly introducing a bill that would require nuclear facilities to immediately notify state and federal agencies of all leaks, large or small. At first it seemed Obama was intent on making a decent change in the reporting protocol, even demonizing Exelon's inaction in the press. But Obama could only go so far, as Exelon executives, including Chairman John W. Rowe, who serves as a key lobbyist for the nuclear energy lobby, have long been campaign backers, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars dating back to Obama's days in the Illinois State Legislature. Despite his initial push to advance the legislation, Obama's office eventually rewrote the bill, producing a version that was palatable to Exelon and the rest of the nuclear industry. "Senator Obama's staff was sending us copies of the bill to review, we could see it weakening with each successive draft," said Joe Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Illinois, where the nuclear leaks had polluted local ground water. "The teeth were just taken out of it." Inevitably, the bill died a slow death in the Senate. And like an experienced political operative, Obama came out of the battle as a martyr for both sides of the cause. His constituents back in Illinois thought he fought a good fight, while industry insiders knew the Obama machine was worth investing in. Obama's campaign wallet during the 2008 election, while rich with millions from small online donations, was also bulging in contributions given by employees of Exelon, his first largest bloc of campaign contributors. Two of Obama's largest campaign fundraisers include Frank M. Clark and John W. Rogers Jr., both top Exelon officials. Clark even served as a "bundler" for Obama for America, helping raise millions of dollars for the campaign. Even Obama's chief strategist in 2008, David Axelrod, has done consulting work for the company. During a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing in 2005, Obama, who served on the committee, asserted that since Congress was debating the negative impact of CO2 emissions "on the global ecosystem, it is reasonable - and realistic - for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration." Shortly thereafter, "Nuclear Notes," the industry's leading trade publication, praised the senator. "Back during his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2004, [Obama] said that he rejected both liberal and conservative labels in favor of 'common sense solutions'. And when it comes to nuclear energy, it seems like the Senator is keeping an open mind." Last month, Obama's Department of Energy committed a total of $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at a plant in Georgia. It was the administration's first move to throw taxpayers' dollars at new nuclear power operations. "When the new nuclear reactors come on line, they will provide reliable, base-load electricity capable of serving about 550,000 residences or 1.4 million people," the Energy Department said in a press release. Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy said, "[reactors are] just the first of what we hope will be many new nuclear projects." Sadly for the credibility of the atom lobby, some of their more eye-grabbing numbers don't check out. For example, as noted in a report by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry claims that the world's 447 nuclear plants reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent. But existing nuclear plants save only about 5 percent of total CO2 emissions, hardly a bargain given the costs and risks associated with nuclear power. As you go up the nuclear fuel chain, you have carbon dioxide emissions at every single step - from uranium mining, milling, enrichment, fuel fabrication, reactor construction to the transportation of the radioactive waste. Moreover, the nuclear lobby likes to compare its record to polluting coal-fired plants, rather than renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal. Even when compared to coal, atomic power fails the test if investments are made to increase the efficient use of the existing energy supply instead. One recent study by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that "even under the most optimistic cost projections for future nuclear electricity, efficiency is found to be 2.5 to 10 times more cost effective for CO2-abatement. Thus, to the extent that investments in nuclear power divert funds away from efficiency, the pursuit of a nuclear response to global warming would effectively exacerbate the problem." Clearly, Obama recognizes the inherent dangers of nuclear technology and knows of the disastrous failures that plagued Chernobyl, Mayak and Three Mile Island. Yet, despite his attempts to alert the public of future toxic nuclear leaks, Obama still considers nuclear power a viable alternative to coal-fired plants. The atom lobby must be glowing with pride. Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press. Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon. His newest book, Born Under a Bad Sky, is published by AK Press / CounterPunch books. He can be reached at: sitka [at] comcast.net. A version of this article first appeared in Truthout.org --------10 of 10-------- How Champions of Neoliberalism are Reversing New Deal Economics Back to Market Fundamentalism By ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH CounterPunch March 12-14, 2010 The "golden" years of the U.S. economy in the immediate post-WW II period, along with the recovery and expansion of the economies of other industrialized countries, afforded the working class of these countries a decent, even middle-class, standard of living. Combined with extensive social safety-net programs such as the New Deal reforms in the U.S. and Social-Democratic reforms in Europe, the economic recovery and high employment rates of that period paved the way for a relatively cooperative relationship between the working and capitalist classes in these countries. This led many pundits of historical developments to argue that perhaps Karl Marx had underestimated capitalism's ability to carry out reform and share the fruits of economic progress with the poor and working class, thereby obviating revolution. They pointed to guaranteed employment and labor-management cooperation in a number of industrialized countries such as Germany and Japan as indications of "erroneous" Marxian judgment of the antagonistic capital-labor relationship. These pundits failed, however, to point out the fact that the New Deal and Social-Democratic reforms that evolved out of the Great Depression and World War II were not courtesy of "benevolent" capitalism, voluntarily bestowed upon the poor and working people. They did not bother to explain that those reforms were, rather, the product of years of struggle by the working class and their allies against the brutalities of the capitalist system - struggle that often entailed great sacrifices, including occasional loss of life. The anti-Depression and anti-war struggles of the 1930s and 1940s compelled the capitalist class to "carry out reform in order to prevent revolution," to paraphrase President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The laissez-faire doctrine, which firmly believed in the self-correcting ability of unbridled market mechanism, was the dominant economic principle before to the Great Depression. The financial crash of 1929 and the consequent long Depression shattered this long-held, religious-like belief. The Depression, precipitated largely by predatory loan-pushing and the resulting unsustainable bubble of asset (stock) prices, made living conditions for the overwhelming majority of people extremely difficult. The ensuing economic distress, in turn, precipitated popular unrest. Large numbers of the discontented frequently took to the streets in the early 1930s. Their desire for change swelled the ranks of socialist, communist, and other opposition parties and groups. Left activists gained certain influence among labor ranks and workers' movement for unionization, illegal in many industries until 1935, spread rapidly. Labor and other grassroots support for third party candidates in the 1932 presidential election resulted in unprecedented number of votes for those candidates. Third-party votes were even more impressive in congressional and local elections. "The union literature was like the labor literature of a century ago, looking toward a successor to capitalism," wrote the late Studs Terkel in his Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (Pantheon Books, p. 309). Business and government leaders clearly understood the gravity of the situation and the need for action. The pressure from "below' created consensus and coalitions at the "top" as the need for reform to fend off revolution became evident. .. . . F.D.R. was very significant in understanding how best to lead this sort of situation. . . . The industrialists who had some understanding recognized this right away. He could not have done what he did without the support of important elements of the wealthy class. They did not sabotage the programs. Just the opposite. (Ibid., pp. 268-69). Two principles lay at the core of the ensuing big business-government consensus reforms, which came to be known as the New Deal reforms. The first was that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" was not capable of resuscitating the badly depressed economy; it needed government's visible hand. The second principle was that government intervention must be limited to stimulative and distributive measures, and that the management of industries and businesses should be left to the private sector. Facilitating and maintaining a certain level of purchasing power in the market was considered crucial to the New Deal package. While this would provide relief to the economically hard pressed, and thus reduce social tension, it would also stimulate the economy and promise stable growth and rising profitability. Regardless of the degree of the effectiveness of the New Deal reform package, the fact remains that it rescued U.S. capitalism - just as Social-Democratic reforms rescued the economies of West European countries. Combined with what the late Ernest Mandel called "extra-economic" factors (such as pliant labor leadership and peaceful trade unionism, establishment of the Bretton Woods international monetary system, Cold War ideology and the suppression or pacification of any possible dissent, and relative decline in the price of oil and other raw materials in the immediate post-WW II period), the New Deal and other government-sponsored reforms ushered in a period of rapid economic expansion that came to be known as the "golden years of US capitalism," which lasted until around 1970. While the pressure from below played a key role in compelling the ruling establishment to carry out the New Deal and other welfare state programs, a number of other factors also contributed to the realization of those programs. One such factor was the emergence of an alternative economic model to capitalism from the ruins of the two world wars and Great Depression: the centrally-planned economies of the Soviet Union and its allies. The emergence of the rival economic system, despite its bureaucratic and dictatorial character, further exposed the unjust character of market mechanism because while in the 1930s the capitalist West was suffering from economic depression, unemployment, and poverty, the Soviet and other centrally-planned economies were enjoying impressive rates of growth - with no unemployment, homelessness, or hunger. The popularity of the Soviet-type economic system at the time also meant that many of the colonial and other less-developed areas of the world combined their anti-colonial and anti-imperial national liberation struggles with demands for government-sponsored models of socialist-oriented or "non-capitalist" development. In the core capitalist countries of the West, too, demands for reform and voices of revolution were frequently heard during the widespread protest demonstrations of the 1930s. Anti-capitalist sentiments and demands to harness or to do away with the skittish, unreliable and, at times, brutal forces of market mechanism in favor of regulating and/or managing national economies were heard not only among the Left and working classes but also in the ranks of the middle and lower-middle classes. Although the fear of total economic collapse in the face of the Depression, and the "threat of revolution," compelled government and business leaders to embark on reform in order to fend off revolution, proponents of unbridled market mechanism never really accepted or reconciled with those reforms as permanent features of capitalism. Not surprisingly, soon after the Depression turned to expansion in the immediate postwar period, and Western capitalism regained its lost confidence, the financial oligarchy and government leaders began to introduce "restructuring" measures that would undermine the New Deal reforms and revive the pre-Depression model of market fundamentalism. Just as the rival economic system of the Soviet Union and its allies, which guaranteed basic needs and job security for their citizens, indirectly contributed to the implementation of the New Deal and Social-Democratic reforms in the industrialized West, the collapse of that rival system is now contributing to the retrogressive process of reviving pre-Depression market orthodoxy. Not only has the collapse of the Soviet-type economies opened up vast markets and huge reservoirs of cheap labor in places such as the former Soviet Union, China, and India, it has also served as grounds for capitalist triumphalism - and its self-assured or self-righteous promotion of trickledown economics. Many people believe that efforts to reverse the New Deal reforms began with the arrival of Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1980. Evidence shows, however, that such efforts, pursued by both Republican and Democratic administrations, began long before the election of Ronald Reagan to presidency. As Alan Nasser, professor emeritus of Political Economy and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College in Olympia (Washington), points out, "The foundations of neoliberalism were established in economic theory by liberal Democrats at the Brookings Institution, and in political practice by the Carter administration". Reagan picked the Democrat's timid agenda of gradual return to economic liberalism and ran with it, replacing the rhetoric of capitalism-with-a-human-face with the imperious, self-righteous rhetoric of rugged individualism that greed and self-interest are virtues to be nurtured. Neither President Clinton changed the course of neoliberal corporate welfare policies of Reaganomics, nor is President Obama hesitating to carry out those policies. This is clearly reflected in his administration's supply-side restructuring policies whose core principle consists of redistributing national resources in favor of the rich and powerful - cutting the critically-need social spending on basic needs to pay Wall Street gamblers and Pentagon contractors. Perhaps a most sinister neoliberal strategy to roll back the New Deal and other poverty-reducing reforms has been deliberate creation of budget deficits in order to force cuts in social spending. This has often been accomplished by a combination of drastic tax cuts for the wealthy along with drastic hikes in military spending. As this combination creates big budget deficits, it then forces cuts in non-military public spending as a way to fill the budget gaps that are thus created. The Obama administration has, indeed, escalated this creepy strategy by bailing out the Wall Street gamblers, financing multiple wars of choice and more than 800 military bases around the world, and then cutting social spending in an effort to reduce the national debt and budget deficits thus generated. Another strategy of reviving the pre-New Deal laissez faire economics has been the increasing use of various schemes of outsourcing and privatization. The outsourcing of public services to private hands pervades all areas of state responsibility. Perhaps a most notorious example of this policy is the case of the Pentagon/security contracting. The services outsourced by the Pentagon are no longer limited to the relatively simple or routine tasks and responsibilities such as food and sanitation services. More importantly, they include contracts for services that are highly sophisticated and strategic in nature, such as the contracting of security services to corporate private armies, or modern-day mercenaries. Reporting on the steadily rising trend of outsourcing, Scott Shane and Ron Nixon of the New York Times reported, "Without a public debate or formal policy decision, contractors have become a virtual fourth branch of government. On the rise for decades, spending on federal contracts has soared during the Bush administration, to about $400 billion last year from $207 billion in 2000, fueled by the war in Iraq, domestic security and Hurricane Katrina, but also by a philosophy that encourages outsourcing almost everything government does". The policy of privatization and outsourcing has led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), tasked with expanding the American dream of home ownership and affordable housing free from discrimination to people of modest means, to surreptitiously "move a chunk of that role to Wall Street since 2002," reports Pam Martens, a freelance investigative reporter. Martens further writes: "From 2002 to 2005, HUD transferred in excess of $2.4 billion of defaulted mortgages insured by its sibling, the FHA, into the hands of Citigroup, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns while providing the firms with wide latitude to foreclose, restructure or sell off in bundles to investors. HUD retained a minority interest of 30 to 40 percent in each joint venture. Citigroup was awarded the 2002 and 2004 joint ventures; Lehman Brothers the 2003; Bear Stearns the 2005. "What the program effectively did was allow the biggest retail banks in the country to get accelerated payment on their defaulted, FHA-insured, single family mortgage loans while allowing another set of the biggest investment banks to make huge profits in fees for bundling and selling off the loans as securitizations. Once the loans were securitized (sold off to investors) they were no longer the problem of HUD or the Wall Street bankers. The loans conveniently disappeared from the radar screen and the balance sheet. The family's fate had been sold off by HUD to Wall Street in exchange for a small piece of the action. Wall Street then sold off the family's fate to thousands of investors around the world for a large piece of the action". Outsourcing policies are bound to be further accelerated by the rising budget deficits of many states and municipalities, and their need to sell off public property or outsource their traditional services in order to raise funds to finance their budgetary needs. These include outsourcing the maintenance of parks, the management of toll roads, the collection of waste, the operation of municipal neighborhood centers, and more. For example, according to a recent MSNBC report, in the two years since Mitch Daniels was elected governor in Indiana, "the state has leased the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road to an outside company for the next 75 years for $3.8 billion, hired vendors for $1.16 billion over 10 years to process welfare applications, and brought in a company to serve food at a mental hospital". While cash-strapped states and other local governments can generate quick cash by privatizing public property or outsourcing public services, they forgo long-term opportunities of income generation from such properties and services. Another Wall Street plot to rob the people of their social safety net programs is the recently renewed attack on the once-sacred entitled programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Having piled up huge sums of national debt and deficit (through bank bailouts, military spending, and tax cuts for the affluent), Wall Street champions, firmly ensconced at the Congress and the White House, are now singing the "fiscal responsibility" song as a prelude to chip away at Social Security and other entitlements. This ominous scheme is clearly reflected in President Obama's recently appointed "National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform," a bi-partisan group that is tasked with reviewing the Social Security and other entitlements in an effort to further "trim" social spending in order to pay for the sins of major banks and military contractors. The bipartisan nature of the attack on Social Security indicates that the plan to undercut economic safety net programs cannot be blamed solely on the blatently neoliberal Republicans. It shows that, with few exceptions, Democrats are as much indebted and committed to the powerful financial interests as are Republicans. The neoliberal economic policies of the Obama administration, crafted by his economic team of ex-bankers/Wall Street advisors, should dispel any illusions that he is committed to "change" in favor of the people. The New Deal and other basic needs programs were put in place not so much because of F.D.R's or Keynes's genius, or the goodness of their heart, as they were because of the compelling pressure from the people. Freed (or feeling free) from that pressure, the government, as the executive body of the financial/economic oligarchy, is now trying to undermine those social safety net programs, and revive the pre-New Deal/pre-Keynesian economic orthodoxy, that is, the economic model of the survival of the fittest. This sinister, profit-driven effort at undermining the poor and working people's hard-won basic needs programs can be stopped only through a renewed and compelling pressure from the grassroots - pressure that must be exerted not through the Democratic Party machine but independent of the so-called two-party system. Ismael Hossein-zadeh, author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism, teaches Economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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