Monthly Archives: April 2014

World Austerity Report: From the Desk of the Editors

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“Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural, 1933

Those words are just as relevant today as they were in March of 1933.
Unfortunately, today there is no FDR, no Harry Hopkins, no Henry Wallace,
and worst of all, there is no New Deal. If you are reading this in the United
States, then you are, indeed, standing amongst what little remains of the New
Deal state. This is the state in which the middle class became the majority of
the population. The state which checkmated Fascism and Communism. It put
millions of Americans to work in a matter of hours and brought electricity to
the poorest parts of the US. The New Deal also created the infrastructure which
made possible an educated population capable of putting a human on the Moon
and unlocking the secrets of the atom.

Continue reading World Austerity Report: From the Desk of the Editors

Revolution 101: Tools for militant activism

BY STEFFANIE PINCH | APRIL 25, 2014, from rabble.ca, News For The Rest Of Us

revolution_101_2In his interview with rabble.ca’s Meg Borthwick, Steve D’Arcy spoke about the meaning and importance of militant activism. The idea behind militant activism is not violence or non-violence specifically — it’s about creating a dynamic in a campaign where there is a clear enemy that the campaign is fighting against.

As Steve D’Arcy said:
“Militancy is adversarial in the sense that, instead of seeking to find common ground with its targets, it identifies them as adversaries to be defeated or to be forced into retreat.”

These campaigns aren’t about slow, institutional change created by internal lobbying or compromise. Militant activist campaigns embrace confrontation as a catalyst for change. The goal is not to convince folks in power, but to defeat them by leaving them with no other options. These campaigns, which are often clear-cut and grievance-based, tend to appeal to a vast range of people, many who may not have participated in activist projects before. These campaigns work when the powers that be won’t listen to activists.
With enough planning, you can identify a target and put them in a situation where they have limited decisions, all of which are in your favour. Continue reading Revolution 101: Tools for militant activism

Generation here and now

by Stephen Seufert, The Seufert Papers, December 21, 2012

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“We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.” Thomas Jefferson

 

The Democratic Party’s obsession with protecting entitlements is nearly as fanatical as the Republican Party’s obsession with tearing it down. The safety nets put in place during the New Deal and Great Society era is what we base the entire foundation of modern government around.  Over the last few decades, the Republican Party has chipped away at these entitlement programs, while the Democrats try desperately to hold the pieces together. The only way Republicans could combat Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid was to make them fiscally unsustainable by repeatedly lowering taxes. Thus, the Federal Government, whether it be controlled by Democrats or Republicans, kept on spending while at the same time taxes were gradually cut. Problem is Republicans gave no viable alternative to these popular safety net programs. The end result was tremendous debt and popular domestic programs critically underfunded.

Continue reading Generation here and now

Independent Labor Party Sweeps Ohio Local Election

Written by David May for Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor Tuesday, 14 January 2014 11:00

ilpohioRevealing another crack in the fragile foundation of the two-party system, voters in Lorain County, Ohio elected 24 Independent Labor Party candidates in local elections in December, out of 26 who ran. The election result was completely ignored by the major media outlets. Why? Because it shows that when offered an alternative fighting for the working class majority, with the numbers and resources of the unions behind to make it a viable option, working people will respond.

The union electoral campaign was sparked off after the Democratic-controlled council carried out a series of attacks on organized labor in this industrial county, home to a large steel mill and a Ford assembly plant. The city council first overturned a local Project Labor Agreement won by the unions that had ensured public construction projects would be unionized and employ local workers and minorities. The “pro-labor” Democratic council then actively worked to break a strike by Teamster sanitation workers, with some of the Democratic leaders literally scabbing by driving garbage trucks themselves—the trucks having been loaned by the Democratic city council of neighboring Elyria, OH!

Continue reading Independent Labor Party Sweeps Ohio Local Election

The Meritocracy Myth: How the Super-Rich Really Make Their Money

by Paul Buchheit, mirrored from CommonDreams.org

inequality-a_0Warren Buffett once claimed that the “genius of the American economy, our emphasis on a meritocracy and a market system and a rule of law has enabled generation after generation to live better than their parents did.” The Economist suggested that “people succeed through brains and hard work.” Economist Tyler Cowen believes in a “hyper-meritocracy” in which wealth is created by the most intelligent and motivated people.

That all sounds very inspirational. But the super-rich tend to make their money in less meritorious ways.

1. Betting on Food Prices to Rise

Chris Hedges noted that Goldman Sachs’ commodities index “is the most heavily traded in the world. The company hoards rice, wheat, corn, sugar and livestock and jacks up commodity prices around the globe so that poor families can no longer afford basic staples and literally starve.” Numerous sources agree that speculation drives up commodity prices. Wheat, for example, rose in price from $105 to $481 in just eight years.

2. Betting on Mortgages to Fail

In 2007 hedge fund manager John Paulson conspired with Goldman Sachs to create packages of risky subprime mortgages, so that in anticipation of a housing crash he could use other people’s money to bet against his personally designed sure-to-fail financial instruments. His successful bet against American households paid him $3.7 billion.

Adding to the insult is that much of a hedge fund manager’s income is considered carried interest, which is taxed at the lower capital gains rate. How do they merit this? They don’t. As Dean Baker explains, “Carried interest…has no economic rationale. With most other tax breaks there is at least an argument as to how it serves some socially useful purpose.” Continue reading The Meritocracy Myth: How the Super-Rich Really Make Their Money

Common Core: Walmart’s Answer to Education in the Age of Austerity

ufaa-logo_0From the UFAA website, Submitted by Polly Hughes on Wed, July 17, 2013

 

 

common-core“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
― Nelson Mandela

Education is, indeed, the key to changing the world. As our forefathers declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. . . that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence

But, what’s happening in the name of education reform today is not going to change the world in the way that Mandela or the authors of The Declaration of Independence meant. In America, under the guise of education reform, an initiative called Common Core is an insurance policy issued by some of the most powerful think tanks and foundations of both the left and right to mega-corporations, such as Walmart. Ultimately, Common Core, through its behaviorist methods, will provide legions of workers educated-in-name-only, ready to accept low-wages inside union-less quasi-sweatshop service jobs. The 1% gets wealthier while the 99% are mired deeper into austerity and have no recourse but to accept these conditions set by employers.

Continue reading Common Core: Walmart’s Answer to Education in the Age of Austerity

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world

By Stephen Seufert, The Seufert Papers, June 1, 2013

“We cannot continue to deny and postpone the demands of our own people while spending billions in the name of freedom elsewhere around the globe. No nation can exert greater influence or power in the world then it can exercise over the streets of its own capitol” –Robert F. Kennedy

In Washington, the focus has been about cutting spending and balancing the budget. We’re told by politicians on both sides of the aisle that the United States has to start “living within its means.” I believe that narrative is throwing gas on a raging fire and must be extinguished for the nation to see shared prosperity again.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost at least $2.4 trillion by 2017. Couple this with the Bush Tax cut, which total over $2.8 trillion in lost revenue, plus an additional $3.4 trillion lost in revenue over the last ten years due to slow economic growth and it’s clear why there’s fiscal instability.

Continue reading ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world

Four Eras of Slavery, for the Benefit of Corporations

by Paul Buchheit and mirrored from Common Dreams

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David Horowitz, founder of an organization called the “Freedom Center,” argued that blacks should not be paid reparations for the enslavement of their ancestors. Among his reasons are that:

  • There Is No Single Group Clearly Responsible For The Crime Of Slavery
  • Most Americans Have No Connection (Direct Or Indirect) To Slavery
  • Reparations To African Americans Have Already Been Paid

But slavery, in its various forms of physical and mental torment, has been a part of U.S. history from the beginnings of our country to the present day. There are numerous modern-day corporations who profited immensely – themselves or their predecessors – from slave labor. Only token amounts have been paid back, along with a few scattered apologies.

Four eras of abuse can clearly be identified.

Continue reading Four Eras of Slavery, for the Benefit of Corporations

The American Labor Party—Debs on the Need For a Labor Party

Written by Eugene V. Debs
Published at Socialist Appeal on Thursday, 27 March 2014 

debs54rWe republish here an article written by Eugene V. Debs in which he takes up the need for the US labor movement to form its own independent political party—a labor party. His perspectives for the formation of such a party—requiring the mobilization of the labor movement’s rank and file, the necessity for such a party to be based on labor, the need to avoid more “third party fiascoes,” and his clear differentiation between a reformist program and what he calls “the working class program for deliverance from industrial servitude”—were quite advanced in 1925 and are still highly relevant today.

The progressive tendencies in American politics are the outgrowth of the final stages of American capitalism and reflect the political awakening of the American working class.

These tendencies, despite all attempts through the blind stupidity of the workers and the covert machinations of their enemies to thwart or misdirect them, will inevitably lead to and result in the formation of an American Labor Party.

When?

I do not know. I hope soon. But soon or late, it will come. That I know if I have learned anything at all about the operation of the resistless forces that are centralizing capital, socializing industry, organizing and arraying the workers against their exploiting masters, and compelling them more and more to take the initiative in the intensifying struggle growing out of their antagonistic economic interests, which can end only with their complete industrial emancipation.

Continue reading The American Labor Party—Debs on the Need For a Labor Party

Invest in public works, invest in American workers

By Stephen Seufert, The Seufert Papers,  June 22, 2012

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Infrastructure, or public works, is the backbone of any nation. That being said, our nation’s back is broken. Roads, bridges, canals, levies, water lines, sewer pipes, communication networks, power grids, railways, seaports and airports are falling apart faster then can be repaired. Unfortunately, lawmakers in Washington refuse to seriously address this growing crisis. Instead of focusing on a problem, finding solutions and implementing a planned course of action; members of Congress stick to non-informative talking points. It’s clear that something must be done, yet there seems to be no political courage to act boldly and decisively.

We as a nation have surrendered to the fiscally conservative dogma that we need to cut taxes and reduce spending to return to economic prosperity. However, the Constitution explicitly grants the legislator the power to “provide for the general welfare” of the nation by collecting taxes to either pay down the debt or in this specific case create a proper public works system that serves the interests of all Americans. Fiscal conservatives are wrong and moreover they are cowards because when strong, responsible governing is the needed prescription, they shy away from taking action.

Continue reading Invest in public works, invest in American workers