Archive for category Corporate Socialism
This editorial by Richard D. Wolff caught my attention:
Janet Yellen, the United States’ Federal Reserve’s new chair, and I were graduate economics students around the same time at Yale University. The professor who shaped the macroeconomics we learned was James Tobin. He taught us to be Keynesian economists: that is, to accept capitalism as the sole object and focus of our studies, to celebrate it as the best possible system and to preserve it against its own serious faults. Keynesian economics teaches that to secure capitalism’s blessings requires systematic government intervention in the workings of the economy.
So far, conventionally Keynesian and even neo-liberal.
No courses at Yale troubled Yellen or myself with any analyses of how exploitation lies at the core of capitalist production. We were never taught that the majority of industrial workers produce more value for employers than what employers pay them. We were prevented from encountering arguments examining how this idea of “more” (or, in economic terms, of a surplus) contributed fundamentally to the systemic inequalities that define capitalist societies.
Now we’re getting interesting:
Capitalism’s dysfunctions have led me to appreciate and independently learn what Marxian economics has to teach me, outside of Yale’s mainstream economics. Yellen and her cohorts avoided and bypassed all that.
Convinced that we can do better than capitalism, many have analyzed the incipient alternatives emerging from capitalism’s deficiencies, such as cooperatives, workers’ self-directed enterprises and others. For us, Occupy Wall Street represents a powerful surge against capitalism, yet another sign of the waning tolerance for a system that Yellen will try to preserve.
The whole article is worth a read.
In the farm bill, Congress boosted the already-massive subsidies to agribusiness while screwing the poor. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday.
Via DSWright on FDL:
The price tag for the Farm Bill comes in at nearly $1 trillion. Most of that money is designed to enrich the already rich. Remember that next time someone tells you the 1% hate “Big Government.” Because austerity and fiscal discipline speeches haven’t stopped wasteful programs– they have just given cover to cutting meager benefits for the poor.
Many so-called Democrats voted for an almost $9 billion cut to the SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) program, which takes away $90 a month from 850,000 of the nation’s poorest who seek help to buy groceries. This is in addition to the cuts already enacted late last year.
UPDATE: Food Stamp Cuts Signed Into Law
Republican legislators refused invitations to attend the signing ceremony because they wanted bigger safety net cuts.
The video’s release comes a week after economists at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Illinois released a study finding that fast food workers in the US draw nearly $7 billion annually in taxpayer-funded federal aid, in the form of food stamps ($1 billion), Medicaid ($3.9 billion), and earned income tax credits ($1.9 billion). More than half of the 1.8 million “core” fast food workers who work at least 11 hours per week and 28 percent of those who work full time rely on some form of public assistance, according to the study.
More info: Recently released study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: “Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast Food Industry” (PDF).
Is it right to eliminate food assistance for 3.8 million Americans while expanding federal subsidies for millionaire farmers, including some members of Congress?
Yesterday, in act of extreme viciousness and cruelty, the House of Representatives voted to give those already down a swift kick to the teeth. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and backed solely by Republicans in a 217-210 vote, cuts $40 billion in nutrition aid over 10 years and starts denying people food as early as next year.
Yesterday’s vote was not only an undeniable act of heartlessness, it was also perhaps the ultimate example of how today’s increasingly radical and unhinged GOP leadership picks on the poor, coddles the rich, makes thinly veiled appeals to racism, and plays time-wasting political games instead of governing.
…Everyone is concerned when there are a lot of people getting food stamps, but the problem is that they are hungry, not that they are being fed.
Best video I saw today. H/t Huffington Post.
I would add another lie to the list, the Faux News-worthy idea that raising the federal minimum wage to keep up with inflation will cause unemployment. Wrong. Wall Street financiers crashing our economy causes unemployment.
Sometimes I think Republicans have their own special GOP edition of The Bible. Via Think Progress:
The House Agriculture Committee convened earlier this week to discuss whether or not to cut as much as $4.1 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
As House members discussed slashing the budget for the Farm Bill, which funds SNAP, Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) took issue with some Democrats who cited Jesus Christ’s call to care for “the least of these” when describing the government’s need to assist the hungry. Instead, Fincher explained that his support for the proposed cuts by quoting a very different Bible verse – 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”
But while the use of 2 Thessalonians is a convenient tool for those who want to justify ignoring the poor, Fincher’s lukewarm Biblical argument doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. As many religious bloggers have already pointed out, the author of 2 Thessalonians was actually referring to ancient Christians who had stopped working in anticipation of Jesus’ Second Coming. The verse is concerned with correcting a theological misunderstanding (i.e., don’t just wait around for Jesus, live an active faith), not passing judgement on the poor.
Worse still, Fincher’s use of the Bible to defend the slashing of food stamps isn’t just bad theology, it’s also bad policy.
Undergirding Fincher’s sloppy exegesis is an old conservative fiction that people who rely on food stamps are lazy parasites who mooch off the government and refuse to work. In reality, most of the country’s 47 million food stamp recipients are children or the elderly, and many are employed. A 2012 report from the USDA found that 45 percent of SNAP recipients were under 18 years of age, nearly 9 percent were age 60 or older, and more than 40 percent lived in households with earnings.
Fincher’s misguided Bible-thumping ignores the plight of America’s 8.9 million “working poor.” This massive group includes the thousands of participants from the recent fast food and retail workers strikes, people who, despite working full-time 40 hours a week for booming industries, often only make around $7.25 an hour, or $15,000 a year. That’s far below the federal poverty threshold of $23,550 for a family of four and leaves many working families with no choice but to apply for food stamps just to feed their loved ones. The strikers, who are consistently backed by droves of religious leaders, are clearly willing to work, yet lawmakers like Fincher (who made his millions with the help of government farm subsidies) stand poised to deny them access to the food they need by decimating funding for SNAP.
Think Progress reported yesterday that the painfully unaware State Rep. Dennis Hedke has introduced a bill that would prohibit public funds from promoting sustainable development. An interesting story, and a great example of rightwing hypocrisy and nincompoopery. But I also think it overlooks the real story.
The article points out that Hedke is so blissfully ignorant of his own actions that he can’t see why anyone would question a connection between his day job and his latest bill. This is interesting, since his day job is contract geophysicist for some 30 local oil and gas companies. Conflict of interest? Certainly not!
“I can’t see why,” Hedke said. “I didn’t think about that. It really never crossed my mind. I’d probably just say no.”
The Romney campaign makes its closing argument, which can be paraphrased as: “OMG! Another four years of socialism will be the end of America!” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL):
“The president’s just not a supporter of the free enterprise system. This isn’t the first time I’ve said it, and I believe it with all my heart.”
If President Obama is a socialist, Steve Benen recently pointed out, he’s “the worst socialist of all time.”
“A soaring stock market, record high corporate profits, private sector job growth … it’s almost as if the president didn’t listen to Karl Marx at all.”
- Since Obama came into office, the Dow Jones industrial average has gained 67.9 percent.
- The S&P 500, measuring the 500 largest publicly traded companies, is up 80 percent.
- Corporations made a record $824 billion last year.
In fact, as the financial website Motley Fool noted, President Obama is far and away the best president for corporate profits since 1900.
Via Talking Points Memo:
In a leaked copy of their party platform, snagged by Politico on Friday afternoon after the Republican National Committee accidentally posted it to its website before taking it down, the GOP details their plan to privatize Medicare and Medicaid, dropping the current single-payer model in favor of a voucher program similar to the insurance exchange model envisioned by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The platform also proposes 65 as the eligibility age for the new voucher program (Americans are currently eligible for medicare at age 62). Although the replacement programs will still be called “Medicare” and “Medicaid,” after privatization the original programs will no longer exist.
“The first step is to move the two programs [Medicare and Medicaid] away from their current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model,” the draft platform reads. “While retaining the option of traditional Medicare in competition with private plans, we call for a transition to a premium-support model for Medicare, with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice. This model will include private health insurance plans that provide catastrophic protection, to ensure the continuation of doctor-patient relationships.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found that the Republican plan will raise seniors’ out-of-pocket medical expenses by thousands of dollars.
Unlike the first Ryan budget proposal unveiled in 2011, the Romney-Ryan plan includes the option for seniors to buy into a government-run plan with their vouchers. In other words, the GOP plan to replace Medicare would also allow for a public option, something that the Obama administration failed to include in the ACA.
The Associated Press reports that census figures for 2011 reveal that American poverty is spreading at record levels. The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent.
Meanwhile, in Washington, both major political parties have agreed to cut programs designed to keep more people from falling into poverty. Millions could fall through the cracks as government aid from unemployment insurance, Medicaid, welfare and food stamps diminishes. Right-wing media decries the increase in poverty while opposing anti-poverty measures such as the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
We’re about to fall victim to the Big Lie, as both parties push austerity plans for the middle class (not the rich) such as Simpson-Bowles and the Ryan budget proposal.
Cutting or eliminating government programs that benefit the less advantaged has long been an ideological goal of conservatives. Doing so also generates a tidy windfall for the corporate class, as government services are privatized and savings from austerity pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens.
U.S. financial interests that stand to gain from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security cutbacks “have been the core of the big con,” the “propaganda,” that those programs are in crisis and must be slashed, said James Galbraith, an economist at the University of Texas.
Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Posted by Cliff Lyon in Bush Administration, Bush Failures, Civil liberties Infringement, Climate Change, Corporate Socialism, Crimes, DeChristopher, Economic Exploitation, Energy, George W. Bush, Global Warming, Political Corruption, Public Lands, Republicans, Salt Lake City, Terrorism, Tim DeChristopher, utah, Utah Politics, Wilderness on March 28, 2012
Update March 29, 2012: Our outrage and phone calls worked; Tim was released this morning in advance the press conference. (see video)
We are lost as a nation when Big Oil can inflict still greater punishment than a Federal Court itself through an anonymous congressional proxy. This is too outrageous for words. It’s Kafkaesq.
DeChristopher’s legal team has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. press conference on TOMORROW (Thurs, March 29, 20112) in front on the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse, at 350 Main Street in Salt Lake City, to announce Tim’s appeal and discuss issues related to DeChristopher’s confinement. Source
Please join us there! But first, please make some phone calls.
DEMAND Tim DeChristopher inmate #16156-081 be immediately removed from the Special Housing Unit (SHU) and placed back in the Minimum Security Camp at FCI Herlong.
530-827-8000, Richard B. Ives, WARDEN, Eloisa DeBruler, Public Information Officer
202-307-3198, Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director
PRIORITY CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS TO CALL:
Jim Sensenbrenner, WI, Chairman of Subcommittee, (202) 225-5101
Louie Gohmert, TX, Vice Chairman of Subcommittee, (202) 225-3035
Jason Chaffetz, UT, DC: (202) 225-7751 UT: (801) 851-2500
The latest lie from Willard (“Mitt”) Romney, who has taken to wearing jeans and posing as a member of the middle class:
“The National Labor Relations Board, now stacked with union stooges selected by the President, says to a free enterprise like Boeing, ‘You can’t build a factory in South Carolina because South Carolina is a Right to Work state.’ That is simply un-American. It is political payback of the worst kind.”
Boeing makes most of its profits from government contracts, not “free enterprise.” Their South Carolina factory is already built. And the NLRB resolved the Boeing issue last month when Boeing and the Machinists union reached a contract extension and the NLRB dropped its legal action. Yesterday President Obama appointed Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Griffin to the NLRB so that the board would have enough members to function despite Republican obstructionism. Flynn is a Republican.
A key role of the board is to supervise union elections and referee disputes between the nation’s private-sector employers and employees, in part by deciding cases brought to the agency. Without a quorum, the board can’t rule on cases or create major new regulations.
…Mr. Griffin is the general counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers and serves on the board of the lawyers coordinating committee for the AFL-CIO labor federation. In the early 1980s, he served as a counsel to NLRB board members.
Ms. Block is the Labor Department’s deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs. She was previously the senior labor and employment counsel for the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions, where she worked for the late Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
Mr. Flynn, who was nominated by Mr. Obama in January 2011, is chief counsel to the NLRB’s lone Republican member, Brian Hayes.
UPDATE: Waiting for brewski to come along and tell us the correct term for NLRB members is “union thugs.”
UPDATE: Obama Fails On Minimum Wage Pledge. After the 2008 election, the President promised to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by the end of 2011 and index it to inflation, “to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage.” The minimum wage remains where it was when Bush left office, $7.25 an hour. If it had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would now stand at around $10.
UPDATE: Boeing has announced the closure of its Wichita, Kansas factory complex after promising Kansas Republican members of Congress that it would build Air Force tankers there if awarded the contract. They got the contract, but reneged on their promise.
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