Monthly Archives: March 2015

Harper is destroying the ‘welfare state’ Harry helped build

By Karl Nerenberg | March 31, 2015 |

Photo: flickr/Matt Boman

Ninety-two year old Harry Leslie Smith is not your usual idea of a political superstar.

Late last Saturday afternoon, however, at the closing session of the Broadbent Institute’s third annual Progress Summit, Smith was the star.

Smith has lived in Canada since the 1950s; but last Saturday he spoke to the Ottawa Summit via video link from Britain, his home country.

He told the story of his life, which is intertwined with the history of the last century.

Smith was brought up in circumstances of Dickensian poverty, and like many Dickens characters went to work as a child.

He delivered ale, pulling a cart on foot from pub-to-pub.

The Great Depression hit him and his family hard, although they did not have much to lose. Smith tells of being on the verge of starvation and rooting through garbage for food.
Smith was 18 in September of 1939 when Hitler marched into Poland, launching the Second World War. He signed up right away

Britain’s highly stratified class society had not been kind to Harry and his ilk. But Smith believed, nonetheless, that the German dictator was a deadly enemy and had to be defeated.

He served with distinction in the Royal Air Force. At the end of the War, he says, “together with so many others of my generation, I resolved to create a more equal society to end the class system forever.”

Britain’s NHS: A crowning achievement

In Britain, that resolve resulted in the defeat of wartime leader Churchill and the ascent to power of Clement Attlee as head of Britain’s first-ever majority Labour government.

Continue reading Harper is destroying the ‘welfare state’ Harry helped build

Lead Makes a Comeback

You may not have noticed lately, but lead has been making its way back into daily use items like tableware and glassware.  In many cases it’s not labeled, so you would not even know about it.

How did this happen?  A backdoor loophole.

Seems that since most imported items like dinnerware (plates, glasses, etc) come from countries with little or no regulations on health risk items (from countries like China or Slovenia), U.S. companies are selling these items with no warning, unless the company is based in a state like California, which requires it to be labeled for people to see.

The legal limit for surface coatings is 0.009 (90 parts per million).  Some items on store shelves have been determined to have 30.2% lead.

Continue reading Lead Makes a Comeback

You Owe Us, Corporations: Four Reasons Why, and One Way to Pay

by Paul Buchheit, published March 30, 2015, mirrored from Common Dreams

‘There are several factual and well-established reasons why corporations owe a great debt to the nation that has made them rich.’ (Photo: file/stock)

The distorted belief that wealthy individuals and corporations are job creators has led to sizeable business subsidies and tax breaks. The biggest giveaway is often overlooked: corporations use our nation’s plentiful resources, largely at no cost, to build their profits.

There are several factual and well-established reasons why corporations owe a great debt to the nation that has made them rich.

Our Tax Money Pays for Much of the Research

The majority (57 percent) of basic research, the essential startup work for products that don’t yet yield profits, is paid for by our tax dollars. When ALL forms of research are included — basic, applied, and developmental — approximately 30 percent comes from public money. In 2009 universities were still receiving ten times more science & engineering funding from government than from industry.

All of our technology, securities trading, medicine, infrastructure, and national security have their roots in public research and development. For a pageful of details look here.

Continue reading You Owe Us, Corporations: Four Reasons Why, and One Way to Pay

Traitor Senators used Israeli Spies against their own Country

from Informed Comment, published March 25, 2015

By Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola | (The Young Turks) | –

Cenk Uygur ( and John Iadarola ( host of The Young Turks discuss a recent report on Israeli spying activities used to aide traitor senators against Iran/U.S. nuclear talks.

Israel intelligence was funneled to Republican Congresspeople in order to ruin support for Iran/U.S. nuclear negotiations, a recent report has found. The cables being used to send and receive order lasix without rx information to and from the U.S. had been breached by the Israeli spies easily allowing them to steal then send back to members of Congress and is being seen as a direct sabotage attempt.

When asked about the breach in security Israeli officials denied everything, claiming they found the intelligence from other places.”

The Young Turks: “Traitor Senators Used Israeli Spies Against Their Own Country


The Little People and the Estate Tax

by Bud Meyers, published March 29, 2015 (via The Economic Populist)

the-little-peopleThe GOP-dominated House Ways and Means Committee just voted to repeal the federal estate tax, which the Republicans, Libertarians and Tea Partiers have been labeling as a “death tax” that unfairly steals the family jewels from ordinary hard-working Americans.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the committee’s chairman, claimed: “This tax doesn’t just hit the big guy, it hits the little guy — like the small business and the family farm.” But as Congressman Jim McDermott, a Democratic member of the Ways and Means Committee, had pointed out, “You cannot call twenty-three-thousand acres a family farm.”

It should also be noted that when Republicans refer to “small businesses”, they aren’t talking about the local “five-and-dime” store or a “mom-and-pop” business — they mean hedge funds and private equity firms. These financial gurus are the people the GOP wants to lower business taxes for, not for the neighborhood deli. And the same applies to the estate tax.

The New Yorker: “The facts? The estate tax now applies only to inheritances valued at more than $5.4 million [$10.8 million for two parents]. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, about 0.2 percent of estates owed the estate tax.”

Continue reading The Little People and the Estate Tax

Obama: ObamaCare was the Republicans’ Plan Before I Adopted It

Obama finally comes clean about ObamaCare (about 0:50 in the video):

Obama should stop wondering why voters stay home for elections and remember this:

Harry Truman: Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time”

Candidate Obama in 2008:


Wall Street Journal (August 19, 2008):
Obama Touts Single-Payer System for Health Care Continue reading Obama: ObamaCare was the Republicans’ Plan Before I Adopted It

Malcolm X: A revolutionary life

Published February 20, 2015 in the Socialist Worker

In the first part of a feature on the revolutionary politics and enduring relevance of Malcolm X, Lee Sustar introduces the life of one of the 20th century’s most important revolutionaries–starting with the world of racism and injustice that shaped him.

Malcolm X speaks in Harlem-a
Malcolm X speaking to a crowd in Harlem

IF YOU want to know why mainstream Black History Month celebrations still pass uneasily over the legacy of Malcolm X a half-century after his assassination, take a moment to reflect on the Ferguson, Mo. uprising and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Then read these words from Malcolm,spoken at a 1964 debate at the Oxford Union in Britain:

No matter how many [civil rights] bills pass, Black people in that country, where I’m from, still our lives are not worth two cents…

So my contention is, we are faced with a racialistic society, a society in which they are deceitful, deceptive, and the only way we can bring about a change is speak the language that they understand. The racialists never understand a peaceful language, the racialists never understand the nonviolent language, the racialist has spoken his type of language to us for over 400 years. We have been the victim of his brutality; we are the ones who face his dogs, who tear the flesh from our limbs, only because we want to enforce the Supreme Court decision [of 1954 ending segregation in schools]. We are the ones who have our skulls crushed, not by the Ku Klux Klan, but by policemen, all because we want to enforce what they call the Supreme Court decision…

Well, any time you live in a society…and it doesn’t enforce it’s own laws, because the color of a man’s skin happens to be wrong, then I say those people are justified to resort to any means necessary to bring about justice where the government can’t give them justice.

Continue reading Malcolm X: A revolutionary life

Obama’s message for Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph columnist Eamonn McCann asks why the Obama White House is pushing cuts in Northern Ireland–and why political leaders there are letting it happen.

Published March 23, 2015 at the Socialist Worker

Obama administration envoy Gary Hart (Italian Embassy)

IT SEEMS that the White House canceled invitations to Northern Ireland political leaders to attend the recent St. Patrick’s Day party as a sign of its disapproval of their failure to reach agreement on welfare reform.

The most remarkable aspect of this has been that — far from telling Obama to attend to the millions of Americans living on food stamps before pontificating on how an administration on the other side of the ocean should comport itself in such matters–the main parties have sucked it up and swallowed hard.

Obama’s envoy to the north, Gary Hart, left no one in any doubt last week about the consequence of a failure to find a formula to allow the deal done at Stormont House to go ahead: the U.S. “urge[s] all parties to reach an understanding on the scope of the agreement as it applies to welfare payments…so that a successful series of meetings planned for St. Patrick’s Day can go forward as planned in Washington.”

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson tweeted: “White House agree priority is to maintain momentum in finding a resolution to welfare issue. Best to be in Northern Ireland dealing with it.”

Continue reading Obama’s message for Northern Ireland

What we learned from de Blasio’s first year

Danny Katch measures the accomplishments and failures of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio against the expectations that his election would usher in real change.

Published March 24, 2015 at Socialist Worker

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Kevin Case)

THE CHICAGO mayoral election is getting national attention because incumbent Rahm Emanuel–a national political powerbroker endorsed by Barack Obama and super-rich to boot–has been forced into a runoff by Jesús “Chuy” García.

García is the opposite of Rahm in many ways: he’s a Mexican immigrant, a longtime Chicago resident and community leader–and not an arrogant, foul-mouthed, mean spirited, grudge-holding, banker asshole.

I understand the excitement that many people in Chicago feel about the possibility of defeating Rahm. In New York City, we had a similar moment in the fall of 2013 when Bill de Blasio won a landslide victory to become mayor, after a campaign in which he talked about how New York under billionaire Michael Bloomberg had become a “tale of two cities.” Bloomberg’s public image transformed within a matter of a few months from the wise rich guy who made the city a winner to the clueless rich guy who only cared about the city’s winners.

Once widely admired and feared, Bloomberg even became a bit of a punch line when he tried to challenge de Blasio’s claims about inequality, and instead came across like a doddering eccentric, complaining that poor people should be grateful for having air conditioning on the subways and urging “all the Russian billionaires to move here.” It was a good autumn in New York City, and I’m sure that springtime in Chicago would only be made lovelier by the sight of a defeated incumbent mayor sputtering in impotent Rahm-rage.

Continue reading What we learned from de Blasio’s first year

Running Illinois like a banker

Dennis Kosuth, a member of National Nurses United in Chicago, reports from the state capital of Springfield, where he traveled to protest Gov. Bruce Rauner’s austerity budget.

Published March 24, 2015 at Socialist Worker

Illinois budget protest-a
Protesters pack the Illinois Capitol building to protest Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget cuts

BUSES FROM across the state filled with over 1,500 protesters descended upon the Illinois capital of Springfield on March 11. Their target was Bruce Rauner, the newly elected Republican governor, and his various initiatives intended to solve the budget shortfall by slashing services for those who need them most.

Rauner’s proposed budget cuts about $4 billion from the next fiscal year, which begins in July. This is in response to a current deficit of $1.6 billion and a $6 billion deficit projected for the next fiscal year. In addition, there is a $111 billion pension shortfall.

Rauner’s cuts include $1.5 billion less for Medicaid, an already stretched system providing health care to the poor, and $780 million in cuts to health care for current and retired government workers. He also wants to end services to young adults by the Department of Children and Family Services, worth $167 million. Slashing programs that assist children who require early intervention, people with substance abuse issues and those in need of mental health care will subtract another $200 million from the budget.

Continue reading Running Illinois like a banker