Monthly Archives: March 2014

Ukraine via The Chicago School

by Deena Stryker, OtherJones.com

Some American commentators close to the Obama administration are touting the coup in Kiev as a successful tit for tat for Russia’s obstruction of U.S. war plans against Syria and its broader plans for world order. However, the Europeans, who get a lot of their gas from Russia, are split over joining ‘a coalition of the willing’. At the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Feb. 26, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen insisted that a solution could be found through cooperation with Moscow. She was echoed by the German business community.

In contrast, as reported Feb. 26 by the European Policy Centre in Brussels, British neoconservative policy advisor Amanda Paul demanded the EU adopt a tougher line against Putin. The conservative daily Die Zeit agreed, noting that “although reason, caution and compromise are good virtues, Europe have to learn power politics. We believe that the world is rational, with lots of compromise and consideration. In reality, Man is not a moral animal, but an animal of power.”

It is no coincidence that this quote should come from the German business community, for it expresses an ideology that is deeply rooted in that country, and which has gained significant influence, albeit under the radar, in the U.S., although it constituted the philosophical basis of the Nazi state.

Continue reading Ukraine via The Chicago School

Four Frightening Ways We’re Reverting to the Dark Days of Our Past

by Paul Buchheit

We may have once believed that the darkest days were behind us, and that slow and steady progress for middle-class workers would continue to be made. But greed and good sense are forever in competition. Gains made in our country’s progressive years are, a century later, once again in serious jeopardy.

darkdays_1_01. The Commons: A Toll Gate in the Grand Canyon

In the early 1900s the Grand Canyon had been taken over by speculators, especially Ralph Henry Cameron, an entrepreneur and soon-to-be Arizona Senator who laid claim to much of the canyon land. He built a hotel on the main trail, set up a toll gate, and even charged exorbitant prices for water at the steamy canyon bottom.

We’re heading back in that direction, and we don’t have Teddy Roosevelt to knock some sense into Congress. Attempts to privatize federal land were made by the Reagan administration in the 1980s and the Republican-controlled Congress in the 1990s. In 2006, President Bush proposed auctioning off 300,000 acres of national forest in 41 states. Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity has proposed to sell millions of acres of “unneeded federal land,” and the libertarian Cato Institute demands that our property be “allocated to the highest-value use.” Representative Cliff Stearns recommended that we “sell off some of our national parks.” Mitt Romney admitted that he didn’t know “what the purpose is” of public lands.

2. Safety Deregulated: Workers Fell “Like a Living Torch to the Street”

Continue reading Four Frightening Ways We’re Reverting to the Dark Days of Our Past

FDR’s grandson has advice for Obama

written by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, The Journal News, lohud.com, Jun. 3, 2010

Frank Roosevelt

Frank Roosevelt, the grandson of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is an economics professor at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers. Roosevelt, who was 6 when his grandfather died in office, has advice for President-elect Barack Obama: “He needs to take action.” / Tania Savayan/The Journal News

NEW YORK – Frank Roosevelt thinks his famous grandfather could be an example to Barack Obama – starting with FDR’s mistakes.

Roosevelt, an economics professor at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers and the 32nd president’s grandson, said Obama should throw more money at the fractured economy than FDR ever did during the New Deal.

He said Obama should do something his grandfather wouldn’t do 76 years ago – embrace the deficit-spending theories of economist John Maynard Keynes.

Continue reading FDR’s grandson has advice for Obama

Where there’s war, there’s Kissinger

by Molly Ivins,  October 5, 2006

AUSTIN, Texas — The Old War Criminal is back. I try not to hold grudges, but I must admit I have never lost one ounce of rancor toward Henry Kissinger, that cynical, slithery, self-absorbed pathological liar. He has all the loyalty and principle of Charles Talleyrand, whom Napoleon described as “a piece of dung in a silk stocking.”

Come to think of it, Talleyrand looks pretty good compared to Kissinger, who always aspired to be Metternich (a 19th century Austrian diplomat). Just count the number of Americans and Vietnamese who died between 1969 and 1973, and see if you can find any indication he ever gave a damn.

As for Kissinger’s getting the Nobel Peace Prize, it is a thing so wrong it has come to define wrongness — as in, “As weird as the time Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Continue reading Where there’s war, there’s Kissinger

Fixing Gross Inequality Is Not Socialism

by Curtis Roosevelt, Huffington Post

What if the president proposed something big — something that really focused on a broader question, such as the fundamental inequality in America? Well, surely, if he did so, he would be labelled a socialist! Not socialist as defined in the academic sense, or as the rest of the world uses it in its political life, but in the crude way that Republicans have always used it — as a brickbat to throw at their political opposition.

This has all happened before. In the 1936 election, when FDR proposed the “radical” safety net of Social Security, his Republican opponent Gov. Alf Landon painted a portrait, familiar to FDR’s detractors, of the president as a communist and socialist:

Imagine the field opened for federal snooping. Are these 26 million going to be fingerprinted? Are their photographs going to be kept on file in a Washington office? Or are they going to have identification tags put around their necks?

Fortunately, Americans ignored him and gave FDR an overwhelming victory.

Continue reading Fixing Gross Inequality Is Not Socialism

What the ‘Left Behind’ Series Really Means

By Joe Bageant, December 19, 2005

“Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough to swallow all of them. They tumbled in, howling and screeching, but their wailing was soon quashed and all was silent when the earth closed itself again.”
— From Glorious Appearing by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

“The best thing about the Left Behind books is the way the non-Christians get their guts pulled out by God.”
— 15-year old fundamentalist fan of the Left Behind series

That is the sophisticated language and appeal of America’s all-time best selling adult novels celebrating the ethnic cleansing of non-Christians at the hands of Christ. If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of the last book in the Left Behind series, Glorious Appearing, and publish it across the Middle East, Americans would go beserk. Yet tens of millions of Christians eagerly await and celebrate an End Time when everyone who disagrees with them will be murdered in ways that make Islamic beheading look like a bridal shower. Jesus — who apparently has a much nastier streak than we have been led to believe — merely speaks and “the bodies of the enemy are ripped wide open down the middle.” In the book Christians have to drive carefully to avoid “hitting splayed and filleted corpses of men and women and horses” Even as the riders’ tongues are melting in their mouths and they are being wide open gutted by God’s own hand, the poor damned horses are getting the same treatment. Sort of a divinely inspired version of “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.” Continue reading What the ‘Left Behind’ Series Really Means

Seven Numbers that Add Up to a Death Tax for Retirement

by Paul Buchheit

The dream of a comfortable retirement is dying for many Americans. It’s being extracted as a form of tribute to the very rich, a redistribution of our nation’s wealth, a “tax” imposed on the middle and lower classes and paid for with their retirement savings.

nursing-home-elderly-medicaid-planning1. A $6.8 Trillion Retirement Deficit in America. But $8 Trillion in New U.S. Wealth Was Created in 2013. 

The problem is that most of the new financial wealth went to the richest 10% (almost 90 percent of all stocks excluding fast-disappearing pensions). Basically you already had to be rich to share in the new wealth, and the people taking the wealth can defer taxes as long as they want, and then pay a smaller rate than income earners. Meanwhile, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security, Americans are at least $6.8 trillion short of what they need for a comfortable retirement.

2. $6,500 is the Median Retirement Fund for Upper-Middle-Class 50- to 64-Year-Olds

Continue reading Seven Numbers that Add Up to a Death Tax for Retirement

Getting Big Money Out of Politics: A Solution

By Joe Firestone, New Economic Perspectives, February 26, 2014

A lot of Americans have the feeling that those who have and supply big money to candidates, office holders, lobby groups, think tanks, and media have bought politics. That it is they who are determining the agendas that office holders act upon and even the specific decisions they make in passing laws and rendering executive and even judicial decisions. This short post won’t debate the extent to which big money has perverted democratic processes in the United States. Instead it will offer a simple, perhaps an oversimple, solution to the problem that will really work. Here it is.

If you really want to do something about this, then just follow a very simple rule. If the election you’re voting in is virtually a two candidate contest, then vote for the candidate, who, in combination with her/his supporters spends the least amount of money. In a virtual multi-candidate contest, do the same thing.

That’s the proposal, in its simplest form. Its objective is to reverse the current race to the bottom in buying elections by ensuring that there would be a powerful incentive to start a race to the top to raise and spend as little money as possible in campaigns. That incentive is that if you spend too much you lose, pure and simple.  Continue reading Getting Big Money Out of Politics: A Solution

Obama: Create Jobs by Executive Order

By Jeanne Mirer and Marjorie Cohn, November 7, 2010, Huffington Post

WPA 1On May 6, 1935, with the country in the midst of the Great Depression, and with indirect efforts to create jobs having not moved the needle of unemployment rates, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7034 and appropriated $4.8 billion for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA put millions of Americans to work constructing buildings, painting murals to decorate them, and performing plays for audiences that had never before seen a dramatic production. In the process, many were saved from poverty and starvation and the economy began to revive..

Although Congress, as part of the New Deal, had appropriated money specifically for relief, FDR decided to use the money for a direct jobs program by issuing a Presidential executive order. This Executive Order described the agencies to be involved in the program, its structure and procedure for application and allocation of jobs.

The WPA was quickly implemented. By March 1936, 3.4 million people were employed and an average of 2.3 million people worked monthly until the program ended in June 1943. During its existence the WPA employed more than 8,500,000 different persons on 1,410,000 individual projects, and spent about $11 billion. The average yearly salary was $1,100, a living wage at the time. During its 8-year history, the WPA built 651,087 miles of highways, roads, and streets. It constructed, repaired, or improved 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853 airport landing fields.

Continue reading Obama: Create Jobs by Executive Order