|Progressive Calendar 05.04.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 4 May 2010 13:15:11 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 05.04.10 1. Vandana Shive/CTV 5.04 5pm 2. Talk for free 5.04 6:30pm 3. Amnesty Intl 5.04 7pm StCloud MN 4. Labor/Hormel 5.04 7pm 5. RNC8 hearings 5.04-06 6. Alliant vigil 5.05 7am 7. Press access 5.05 11am 8. Housing fund 5.05 3pm 9. Josh Silver - Obama FCC expected to abandon net neutrality 10. Nikolas Kozloff - From Bush to Obama: the political might of BP 11. Anthony DiMaggio - Sacrificing education; Hooverian economics returns 12. ed - Bumpersticker --------1 of 12-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Vandana Shive/CTV 5.04 5pm Stylin' 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! Households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 5/4 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 5/5, 10am Dr. Vandana Shiva: Women and Water World renown Indian physicist, ecologist, feminist, author and activist Vandana Shiva speaks at the University of Minnesota about the intersection of women and water rights. (part 1, filmed 3/25/10). --------2 of 12-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Talk for free 5.04 6:30pm Conversational Salon (Open Conversation) This Tuesday we will have open conversation so everyone can get into the act. I may bring this article on the internet by Kathy Kelly and Don Pearson, "Atrocities in Afghanistan: A Troubling Timetable" and also all the comments made by people at the end of the article. We can read the short article and people can each read one of the comments and lets see what happens. Next week, THE Dave Bicking, from Minneapolis and x-member of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority will be our guest. Topic, Police Brutality in Mpls. esp. and other things. 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. --------3 of 12-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 5.04 7pm StCloud MN Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, May 4th, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain, Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or jerry.dirks [at] gmail.com. --------4 of 12-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Labor/Hormel 5.04 7pm LABOR'S UNTOLD STORIES Tuesday, May 4, 7 pm UFCW 789 Hall, 266 Hardman Ave., South St. Paul* In August 1985, workers went on strike at the Hormel plant in Austin, Minnesota. A quarter-century later, get a perspective from two participants in the strike, Dale Chichester and Pete Winkels, as well as historian Peter Rachleff, author of /Hard-Pressed in the Heartland./ /Co-sponsored by UFCW 789/ --------5 of 12-------- From: info [at] rnc8.org Subject: RNC8 hearings 5.04 May 3-6, 13, 14: May Evidentiary Hearings in St. Paul May 3rd-6th, 13th & 14th, 9am-?? each day Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul Lunch provided every day! Sunshine and rain locations TBA. Vegan and gluten-free options will be available. The first week of May marks new growth outdoors and new developments in the RNC 8's case inside the courthouse. During these days, the lawyers for the 8 will argue motions such as ones to suppress evidence seized during the preemptive raids prior to the RNC, and the probable cause motion as a part of evidentiary hearings that will include testimony from witnesses-including cops. These could be long days in court, so we're providing lunch for all supporters each day to help us all get through the day. Vegan and gluten-free options will be available. If you think you'll be in court, email rnc8foodcourt [at] gmail.com to let us know so we can prepare enough food for everyone. Wanna help prepare food or serve? Email us and let us know! Carpools will be leaving at 8am sharp each day from Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S. in Minneapolis. --------6 of 12-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> Subject: Alliant vigil 5.05 7am Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems, 7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie. We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies? directions and lots of info: alliantACTION.org --------7 of 12-------- From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com> Subject: Press access 5.05 11am TTT May 5: PRESS and PUBLIC ACCESS: Whats a Legit News Organization? Should Public Panels Ever Be Closed? Last year, it was the House of Representatives trying to block our own Marty Owings and other online journalists, including The Uptake (a citizen journalist video aggregator). This year, after leasing space in the Capitol Press room area, The Uptake faced a competing news organization's attempt to getting the Administration Department to cancel the lease. It almost worked - and may yet. This is all part of a nasty movement to excise news gatherers who fail to fall in line with what must be called stodgy and cozy media relationships with official sources. We and The Uptake and others defy that definition. Moreover, new governmental attempts are under way to amend or circumvent the Open Meeting Law, to close off public meetings to the public, this time for meetings of ubiquitous task forces and advisory committees often appointed to make recommendations to policymakers and administrators in state and local governments. A few legislators are trying to turn it around again - to be more, not less - open to you. It's the cities and counties, especially, who seem to think it's wise to keep public meetings private. Why does this phenomenon keep cropping up - the idea that meetings among elected and appointed decision-makers and their advisers should be closed? We want to know. We think you should know, too. Transparency in government - and every facet of it - is key to a well- run democracy. Anything less becomes oligarchy. TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN ask several of those who wish to open up public processes - and some who want to close them - what it is that drives this recurring need to keep scrutiny out of the boards and commissions and advisory committees of Minnesota. Can't Get Us Over the Air? Stream TTT LIVE HERE or LATER HERE On-air guests: REP. MICHAEL PAYMAR (DFL-St. Paul) - Chair, House Public Safety Finance Division; Author of Paymar Amendment to House File 2518 redefining public body to include all advisory committees and task forces at all levels to adhere to the Open Meeting Law. SEN. ANN REST (DFL-New Hope) - Chair, Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee; Sen. Rest authored the Senate companion measure that passed the Senate with little fuss. MIKE MCINTEE - Editor/Reporter/President, The UPTAKE MARTY OWINGS - TTT/KFAI Capitol Correspondent; Editor, MN Capitol News INVITED: MARK ANFINSON - Attorney, Minnesota Newspaper Assn. ;plus City and County association reps rushing to quash the Paymar Amendment when it reaches the Senate. AND YOU! Call us at 612-341-0980. --------8 of 12-------- From: Minnesota Housing Partnership <jjohnson [at] mhponline.org> Subject: Housing fund 5.05 3pm Give Lawmakers a Housing & Jobs Solution During A Housing & Budget Crisis Please Note the Changes in the Committee Hearings Below It's been a tough session. $10 million in bonds for public housing was line item vetoed. More than $4 million in funding for Minnesota Housing's budget is cut. Now there is a proposal to penalize some residents of affordable housing with a $100 penalty. We are going backwards when the state is seeing unprecedented numbers of foreclosures and homelessness. Faced with dire budget circumstances, legislators are forced to make decisions they don't like. A Housing Solution for Tough Times We are offering legislators a creative solution to ensure that Minnesotans have access to housing they can afford. The bill (HF 3725 - Marquart / SF 3304 - Cohen) increases funding for housing by $19-39 million annually through an existing revenue source. If passed, this bill will anchor new growth in revenues generated from mortgage registry and deed taxes starting in 2012, when the market is projected to recover. Let's Keep Winning HF 3725 passed with bipartisan, unanimous support out of the House Housing Policy and Finance and Public Health Finance two weeks ago. The bill, originally scheduled to be heard in the House Capital Investment Committee, has been canceled and is now scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Economic Development and Housing Budget Committee on Wednesday. Action Needed: ATTEND Wednesday's 3:00 p.m. hearing to show legislators you support funding for housing - funding which creates jobs, housing, and pays the state back - during a time when we are seeing record numbers of homelessness and foreclosures; EMAIL legislators to support HF 3725 / SF 3304, a bill to increase funding for housing programs through anchoring new growth in mortgage registry and deed tax revenues starting in 2012. Act Now --------9 of 12-------- Obama FCC Expected to Abandon Net Neutrality, Universal Internet by Josh Silver Tuesday, May 4, 2010 Huffington Post Common Dreams On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that the Federal Communications Commission is expected to abandon its pledges to protect Net Neutrality and to ensure universal, affordable broadband. The story cites anonymous insiders confirming that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is "leaning toward" siding with the most powerful phone and cable lobbyists on a crucial decision: whether the FCC will have any authority to protect an open Internet and make it available to all. It is a testament to the phone and cable industry's overwhelming influence that they seem to have convinced the nation's communications agency to swear off authority to protect Americans' right to open communications. But it is stunning that Genachowski would even contemplate allowing it to stand, given President Obama's repeated pledge to ensure fast, affordable, universal Internet broadband for every American. So what's going on here? In early April, a a federal appeals court ruled that, based on decisions by the Bush-era FCC, the agency lacks the authority to regulate broadband providers. In so doing, the court effectively handed control of the Internet to companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon - allowing them to slow down or block any website, any blog post, any tweet, any outreach by a congressional campaign. The FCC no longer has the power to stop them. Fortunately, the FCC does have the power to easily fix the problem by "reclassifying" broadband under the law. All it would take is a vote by its five commissioners - and Genachowski already has the votes. But so far, he has done nothing, while proponents of Net Neutrality (the principle that prevents providers from indiscriminately blocking or slowing Internet content) have been watching and waiting with bated breath. If Genachowski gives up on restoring FCC authority, you can be sure he will claim that Internet deployment remains the signature issue of his FCC and that he can still accomplish the goals outlined in the FCC's recently released National Broadband Plan. But unless the FCC puts broadband under what's called "Title II" of the Telecommunications Act, nearly every broadband-related decision the agency makes from here forward will be aggressively challenged in court, and the FCC will likely lose. The phone and cable companies know this, which is why they're going all out to keep the FCC from fixing the problem. The goals of the much-feted National Broadband Plan are to ensure all Americans can get high-speed access to the open Internet - not a closed version of the Internet that looks more like cable TV, where phone and cable companies decide what moves fast or not at all. Chairman Genachowski could stand up for the American people, and against one of the biggest lobbying juggernauts in Washington, but it will take courage. If he fails to stand with the public, it could mean the end of the Internet as we know it. [And more yachts for the worthless bastards who run America. -ed] Before it's too late, we need to make sure the FCC knows the American people are watching, and we will not sit quietly as the largest companies destroy the open, democratic Internet. 2010 Huffington Post Josh Silver is the Executive Director of Free Press a national, nonpartisan organization that he co-founded with Robert McChesney and John Nichols in 2002 to engage citizens in media policy debates and create a more democratic and diverse media system. [One more part of the commons stolen by the "aristocracy". Why are they rich? Because they STEAL. But with three-piece suits and Harvard accents. In a parallel time, France in 1789, the people got tired ot it... -ed] --------10 of 12-------- >From Bush to Obama The Political Might of BP By NIKOLAS KOZLOFF CounterPunch May 4, 2010 Judging from the oily history of the last ten years, reining in BP could prove politically daunting. A company with incredible economic might, BP has enjoyed privileged access to the inner rungs of Washington power. Only by ridding the political system of insider money can we hope to avert future oil disasters like the devastating spill which hit the Gulf of Mexico last week. The perversion of U.S. democracy to serve oil interests like BP went into high gear under former Vice President Dick Cheney. Dallas-based Halliburton, where Cheney worked prior to the 2000 election, made equipment and chemicals used in oil drilling, and sold to producers including BP even though Halliburton had no experience in the petroleum industry. Later during the 2000 election, BP exerted significant influence over politics through its campaign contributions. That is not too surprising when you consider that in the late 1990s BP had acquired Amoco and Atlantic Richfield, two companies which had been players on the U.S. electoral scene and which had made political contributions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, BP ranked fourth amongst oil and gas company contributors in the 2000 elections, with donations totaling $1.1 million. Two thirds of that amount went to the GOP. Cheney was grateful and never forgot the favor: in early 2001 the Vice President set up an Energy Task Force seeking to design a national energy policy. In a slap in the face to democracy, the Task Force was never open to official public comment and kept all its deliberations secret from the public. At the time, the White House claimed that turning over its records from the Task Force would impede its ability to get candid advice. For years, Bush and Cheney successfully stonewalled attempts to shed light on the inner workings of the Energy Task Force. Indeed, the administration won a Supreme Court ruling stipulating that the White House would not have to reveal the records of industry executives who had met with administration officials. Finally, however, after four long years the Washington Post obtained a list showing that oil company officials, including BP, had met with Cheney aides at the White House. The revelations caused a public furor on Capitol Hill and made BP look derelict at best and deceitful at work. During testimony at a November, 2005 hearing of the Senate's Energy and Commerce Committee, BP CEO Ross Pillari told members that he didn't know if company representatives had met with Task Force officials. With BP now in the hot seat as a result of the Washington Post's bombshell, New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg asked the Justice Department to investigate whether CEOs had misled Congress. Meanwhile, the Senate's Energy Committee Chairman, Republican Pete Domenici of New Mexico, and Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, asked executives to clarify their responses. Now feeling the heat, Pillari backtracked somewhat, remarking that he had "looked into the matter and can advise you that BP representatives did meet with staff members of the National Energy Policy Development Group (Task Force) and provided them with comments on a range of energy policy matters" including natural gas, liquefied natural gas, transportation fuels and renewable energy. Then, in a rhetorical flourish worthy of a truly slick oil man, Pillari added that his response at the November hearing "was and is a truthful answer as I was not personally involved in energy policy issues at the time". BP's discussions with the White House had real life consequences. When the Bush/Cheney White House finally came out with its National Energy Policy, environmentalists were appalled. Specifics of the plan included expanded oil exploration in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, an expansion of oil refinery sites and oil pipelines, and additional subsidies for the fossil fuel industry funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Needless to say, there was no representation on the Task Force of renewable energy or energy efficiency experts. Brazenly, Bush defended the Energy Task Force as simply business as usual. "We listened to energy companies, which seems to make sense," he said. "If you're developing an energy plan, one place to start is to listen to people who know something about the business". The culture of permissiveness in the White House fostered an incestuous relationship between Cheney officials and BP. Take, for example, the case of native Alaskan Andrew Lundquist, a man who worked for both his state's senators on Capitol Hill. The Executive Director no less of Cheney's Energy Task Force, Lundquist later oversaw efforts to spearhead energy policy at the White House. Then however Lundquist left government and opened a consulting business. Nine months later, he became a lobbyist for companies that served to benefit from the very same energy policy that he had helped to craft. Lundquist's clients, which paid him more than $300,000 in 2003, included BP. Hoping to capitalize on public dissatisfaction with Cheney's energy policy, Obama ran TV ads during campaign '08 claiming that Republican rival John McCain was "in the pocket" of Big Oil. At the time, Obama commanded some moral authority on the issue of oil development. As a Senator, he had urged the EPA to mount a "comprehensive" review of proposed air and construction permits for a BP refinery in Indiana. In a letter, Obama expressed concern that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management had "set an aggressive timeline to issue a final permit" for the refinery located about 20 miles southeast of Chicago. As campaign '08 heated up, Obama made much political hay over the fact that the McCain camp benefited from a flood of contributions from oil executives after the Arizona Senator reversed his position on offshore drilling. Yet, peer beneath the rhetoric and Obama does not emerge as any less oily. Indeed, just prior to the election the Center for Responsive Politics reported that BP had donated more money to Obama than McCain. Then, when gas prices rose above $4 a gallon and calls for "drill, baby, drill," increased, Obama vacillated. Conservation and renewable energy would be emphasized in an Obama White House, the candidate declared, but he would also support some expansion of offshore oil drilling. To be sure, once ensconced in office Obama crafted an energy policy which sought to move away from the Bush era's emphasis on fossil fuels. To his credit, early on in his presidency Obama overturned a draft plan to allow drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. At one point, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar even remarked that the Bush administration "had torpedoed" offshore renewable energy in favor of oil and natural gas. There were ominous signs along the way, however. Obama tapped Steven Koonin, a former Chief Scientist for BP, to be Undersecretary of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. Then, on April 1st, a mere few weeks prior to the Gulf oil spill, Obama said he would open millions of acres off the Southeastern and Alaskan coastlines to offshore oil exploration. The announcement ended a decades-long moratorium on drilling off the East Coast. Included were 167 million acres from the northern tip of Delaware to central Florida, millions more in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and about 130 million acres north of Alaska. "Thousands of environmental activists who supported Barack Obama for president are waking up this morning to what must seem like a very big and not very funny April Fools' joke," remarked the St. Louis Post Dispatch. During the Bush years, BP enjoyed an enormous degree of economic and political power in Washington. Though it appeared at first as if Obama might change this fundamental equation, the young president failed to act sufficiently. Now, in the wake of the Gulf disaster, we shall see whether Obama has the political courage to finally take on BP and the oil companies while significantly ramping up alternative energy. Nikolas Kozloff is the author of the upcoming No Rain In the Amazon: How South America.s Climate Change Affects The Entire Planet (Palgrave Macmillan, April 2010). Visit his web site, http://www.nikolaskozloff.com/ --------11 of 12-------- Sacrificing Education The Return of Hooverian Economics By ANTHONY DiMAGGIO May 3, 2010 CP Those celebrating the end of the recession may be in for a rude awakening, as a deeper crisis may be right around the corner. While the economy grew nationally by 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010, looming and quite massive budget cuts being discussed at the state level threaten to derail what limited recovery has taken place. The national unemployment rate is at its highest point since the 1982-1983 recession; it represents the second highest unemployment spell since the end of the Great Depression more than 70 years ago. As of March 2010, unemployment stood at 9.7 percent, just .3 percent lower than the 10 percent high in October 2009, and more than three percent higher than the unemployment level in October 2008, which stood at 6.6 percent. To make matters worse, national home prices have dropped by nearly 4 percent during early 2010, while interest and foreclosure rates are on the rise again. Although long cast into the dustbin of history, Hooverian economics appears to be making a major comeback in state and national politics. The return of this long maligned model is disturbing, but not unexpected in a country which has a collective memory of no longer than a few years. For those who are unfamiliar, Hooverian economics refers to the do-nothing approach to dealing with economic crises. It assumes that government is always "part of the problem" when it comes to promoting the public good. This most recent strain of Hooverian economics is accompanied by a hypocritical promotion of massive corporate subsidies and bailouts, in which a majority of Republicans (along with the former Bush administration) endorse. As the theory goes, the best way to ensure economic recovery is to get the government "out of the way" of the private sector when it comes to "excessive" and "unneeded" regulations and interference. But how is this approach related to the modern day electoral politics of the Republican Party? One need do little more than look at the rhetoric of national and state Republicans to find out. As of last month, Illinois Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady attacked current Democratic Governor Pat Quinn for his plan to increase the income tax from three to four percent, lamenting: "the citizens of Illinois are sick and tired of politicians who continue to dip into their pockets". Brady railed against "out of control borrowing and spending" and instead supported a plan to "make meaningful cuts to government overspending" in light of the state's $13 billion deficit. Brady's opposition to a tax increase has been nudged along by the reactionary Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), which is calling for as much as $3.5 billion in cuts to the 2011 budget ($1.5 billion more than Quinn has called for if he is unsuccessful in pushing a tax hike). IPI Chairman John Tillman dismissed concerns about the soon to be unemployed, working poor, and middle class who will inevitably be hurt by this plan, explaining that "You've gotta' make tough choices". Such callous and elitist rhetoric is eerily similar to and conceptually indistinguishable from Hoover's own words, expressed more than 80 years ago, that "economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement" and that "prosperity cannot be restored by raids upon the public treasury". Hooverian dogmas are also evident at the national level, where Congressional Republicans attack the Obama administration's 2009 stimulus as an unwarranted government intrusion into the wondrous efficiency of the "free market". John McCain lamented the Obama stimulus, instead supporting a plan to further starve the states by "make[ing the Bush] tax cuts permanent" and "reduce[ing] spending to get our budget in balance". House Minority Leader John Boehner lambasted Obama for dooming future generations with today's deficit spending: "at the end of the day, how much debt are we going to pile on future generations?" I hoped that we were beyond Hoover's brain dead economic philosophy, which assumes that only "the market" can solve our problems at a time when the nation's banks and major investment firms are still on the brink of extinction, home foreclosures are again on the rise, and states are facing crippling budget deficits due to rabid opposition to tax increases from Republican and Democratic officials alike. The Hooverian experiment was undertaken long ago and it was an abysmal failure. Sadly, few in the corporate press have the courage to call out Hooverians for their arrogance and incompetence today. Keynesian spending has long been understood by most economists as the primary means of pulling economies away from the precipice of total collapse. For those unfamiliar with John Maynard Keynes' work, I'll briefly summarize his major argument: during times of economic crisis, national and state governments are forced to manufacture demand for products and services since the private sector is either unable or unwilling to do so (as we have so painfully seen over the last year and a half). Stimulating public demand for products and services is financed through short term borrowing and deficit increases - in order to keep the economy running at a time when banks refuse to loan out cash and private corporations are shedding workers in the millions so as to reduce operating expenses and cut their losses. In such dire situations, individual consumers are unwilling to increase their spending, as they seek to conserve their cash in the case of a greater emergency. The government, then, becomes the only actor able to provide a stimulus of last resort. While the virtues of Keynesian economics have been understood for decades, right-wing government officials (along with centrist Democrats) have undertaken a radical campaign to sell the public on cutting social services as a solution to "balancing the budget". The Obama stimulus is lambasted by high profile Republicans like John Boehner, who complains that "taxpayers aren't getting their money's worth out of the trillion-dollar 'stimulus' and struggling families and small businesses are rightly asking 'where are the jobs?'" A simple answer to this question is available for those who bother to read newspapers (Boehner and other stimulus critics apparently don't). Jobs haven't been created despite federal stimulus spending in the hundreds of billions of dollars, in large part because states are using stimulus money to make up for their budget shortfalls, rather than raising taxes to compensate for those shortfalls. In short, stimulus money is being used to replace declining budget revenues; by elementary logic, then, there can be no stimulus if federal funds are simply filling in the holes that were already present in state deficits. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the $787 billion federal stimulus had the effect of subsidizing states that were in the process of cutting their budgets and social services. As CEPR estimates "state and local budget deficits to the tune of $100 billion a year will offset the stimulative effect of the president's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Stimulus dollars used to cover deficits will have no stimulative effect". In at least 16 states, the General Accounting Office (GAO) found that federal stimulus money (that went to states for education spending) was being used to retain teachers who would otherwise have been laid off: "overall, states reported using Recovery Act funds to stabilize state budgets and to cope with fiscal stresses - the funds helped them maintain staffing for existing programs and minimize or avoid tax increases as well as reductions in services". Without stimulus money, the economic decline in 2009 to 2010 would surely have been far worse. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPR) explains: "Because states also face legal requirements to balance their budgets, they must enact program cuts [or] tax increases to close their budget gaps". Budget cuts, CBPR concludes, "reduce demand for goods and services, making a weak economy even weaker. Without federal funds, states would have to take even more dramatic measures that, by reducing demand, would cost jobs and make the recession even more severe". This last sentence should be kept in mind when we discuss the future effects of further state budget cuts. States are likely to worsen the recession if they pass draconian budget reductions. While Democratic and Republican officials promise that cutting spending will help balance the budget, the effects will likely be the opposite, with budget revenues declining even further due to large numbers of state and local employees being fired from their jobs and contributions to state tax revenues declining further because of the mass firings. This has already happened, with massive cuts in the private sector leading to huge reductions in state budgets. Such job losses will put additional strains on the public sector, and justify additional pressures for another round of budget cuts and job losses. Such practices create a cyclical process whereby budget cuts and further economic deterioration become mutually reinforcing and contribute to a greater downward spiral in reducing tax pools and increasing budget deficits. Noted economist Joseph Stiglitz is right to criticize officials in states like Illinois, New York, and California (among the largest state economies in the country) as "very foolish" for refusing to raise taxes, preferring instead to downsize government services in a time of crisis. Stiglitz estimates that state budget cuts will have "a negative stimulus of half the magnitude of the positive stimulus that is coming out of Washington" if they are left in place. Stiglitz should know - he spent years as the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund - which specializes in promoting neoliberal economic reforms that terminate government spending in countries suffering during economic crisis. Such reforms have had disastrous consequences, contributing to the crumbling of entire national economies over night at a time when Keynesian spending would have greatly helped those in need and stimulated economic stabilization and recovery. One wouldn't know any of this, however, by listening to the rhetoric of Republicans and Democrats today who celebrate the virtues of non-government interference, while millions suffer under the economic crisis. Current suffering parallels that suffered by the unemployed, poor, and homeless during the Great Depression. By 1932, and in light of years of do-nothing Hooverian economics, U.S. unemployment had officially reached nearly 25 percent, up from only a few percent prior to the stock market crash. Thousands of Americans - homeless as a result of the depression and the refusal of Hoover to intervene in favor of the working class and poor - increasingly congregated in "Hoovervilles" - the label given to the shanty towns that began to spring up around the country. While Hoover did eventually implement a very limited public works program and increases tax to try and help pay for it, the damage had already been done to a country that suffered for three years under a government that consistently refused to intervene to promote economic stability, recovery, and assistance to the poor. Many conservatives today criticize Obama's massive public works programs (itself a classic manifestation of Keynesian spending) for failing to bring the country out of crisis. Such attacks are highly deceptive and propagandistic, and display a stupefying ignorance of historical facts. Those who've studied the New Deal period (and its public works program) are well aware of the fact that FDR's deficit spending contributed to a major decline in unemployment from a high of nearly 25 percent in 1932 to less than 15 percent by 1937. Of course, unemployment again rose to nearly 20 percent by 1938, primarily due FDR's own unfounded fears about the dangers of deficit spending - which caused him to scale back on public works spending and throw workers out of their jobs in mass. Upon seeing the disastrous effects of efforts to "balance the budget" during a depression, FDR promptly reversed course, reinstituting massive public works spending, which eventually contributed to a decline in unemployment to approximately 10 percent by 1941. In short, Keynesian deficit spending helped reduce U.S. unemployment from a high of nearly 25 percent to about 10 percent over less than a decade. All this took place prior to the mass economic mobilization resulting from wartime spending, which succeeded in further reducing unemployment to negligible numbers by the end of the Second World War. Think tank policy wonks and affluent politicians naturally find it easy to make the "tough choice" to support budget cuts when the costs are paid by the less fortunate. And there are certainly tough times ahead of the American public. As of March 2010, Illinois is already the 9th highest state for unemployment in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Governor Quinn's own proposed cuts in the Illinois budget (should his tax increase fail) will lead to an estimated 17,000 layoffs for public school teachers and as many as 400 layoffs for state troopers. Medicaid recipients' benefits will also be cut, as will be the beneficiaries of the widely popular Kidcare program that provides health care for needy children. Higher education is already being lacerated across the country. In Colorado, public colleges are bracing for a 10 percent cut in their budgets - the equivalent of losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year. In Illinois, universities and community colleges are owed more than $750 million by the state. Budget shortfalls are leading to talk of as much as an 18 percent tuition hike in one year for students of some state institutions, followed by increases in campus housing costs. At the University of Illinois, Chicago, where I completed my Ph.D. course work, there has been serious talk of firing virtually all the administrative staff in the social science departments, while at Illinois State University, where I've taught for years, departments are planning on eliminating virtually all of their non-tenure track faculty, decreasing course offerings, increasing tuition costs, and increasing class sizes. Sacrificing a decent education, the IPI and state officials tell us, is the price that must be paid for achieving "progress" under the "free market" system. A majority of economists supported some sort of government stimulus package in 2009, and many felt the Obama stimulus should have been much larger. According to USA Today, most economists feel that the federal government should do more than it's already done to stimulate job growth. The majority of Americans also supported the stimulus, with 53 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed according to a January 2009 Gallup poll. Contrary to the dogmas now spread by both the Democratic and Republican parties, most Americans feel the amount of taxes they currently pay are "fair". When asked about their policy priorities, 57 percent of Americans favor the government "stimulating economic recovery" rather than "reducing the deficit (CNN poll, December 2009)" - in blatant opposition to the reactionary policies pursued by state Republicans and Democrats. Similarly, large majorities of the public (more than 80 percent) favor using federal funds to provide "unemployment insurance and health insurance to people who have lost their jobs," "increased spending on construction on federal roads and bridges," and "increased spending on trains, buses and other forms of mass transit" despite official fear mongering over deficit spending during a recession. Unfortunately, state officials remain recalcitrant in their refusal to consider tax hikes. They prefer to rely on propagandistic claims that the public will not support tax increases - despite the obvious fact that the public strongly supports Keynesian spending to stabilize a weak economy. The public is not fueling the campaign to downsize government and social welfare; rather, the current round of budget cuts are the product of a bi-partisan neoliberal ideology that is contemptuous of social welfare spending and opposed to increased taxation of the affluent in the name of helping the poor. Democrats - although the legislative majority in the state of Illinois - refused to consider a tax increase last year, and are likely to do so again this year. Their contempt for Keynesian welfare spending exceeds even that of Hoover himself, who eventually conceded that some sort of tax increase would be necessary to promote economic recovery. Conservatives complain that deficit spending is the equivalent of "mortgaging away our children's futures". But what good is it to speak of the future of our children when we're already flushing away their present? What good is it to talk of "balanced budgets" in the future when families today can't pay for their mortgages, utilities, car payments, or basic necessities such as food, health care, or clothing? Republican and Democratic concerns with "our children'.s futures" begin to look extremely disingenuous in light of the desperation and suffering that are already occurring - a misery in which they have literally no interest in addressing. The notorious conservative Grover Norquist screams at the government to "leave us alone" - presumably referring to the tiny segment of the American public that still believes in libertarian "free market" capitalism and opposes taxation by the national government. We can send a message to Norquist and other neoliberal reactionaries in office by pressuring our state leaders to abandon their support for mass budget cuts. It's time for us to send out our own message: leave public education alone, leave our health care programs in place, and stop throwing public employees out of their jobs when they're at their most vulnerable. In short, it's time for the neoliberal corporatists to "leave us alone!" Anthony DiMaggio teaches American and Global Politics at Illinois State University. He is the author of Mass Media, Mass Propaganda (2008) and the forthcoming When Media Goes to War (2010). He can be reached at adimagg [at] ilstu.edu --------12 of 12-------- ------------ Boycott BP ------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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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