Monday, October 10, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Krugman: Obama gives away the store

Um, what he said.

Not that the Dems have given us much reason to care if they win lately ... like in the last, oh, 30 years. At least. (Even then, in the South, well ... ) [OK, maybe never. Sorry, Krugman.]

But in a way in the last few years the Donkeys've seized almost every last parcel of previously Elephant territory now. (... the GOP having mostly vacated their old political home, not to mention their original one around the American Civil War period, for their new home in Outer Space.) And, yeah, it looks like this Democrats-to-the-right rebound just keeps happening.

Oops, I forgot: we elected these clowns. Well, sort of. Funny how many people I run into, and how many people that people I know run into, in kitchens and on docks and at the gas station and the grocery store and bus stop, everywhere really, who come up with the same idea: throw 'em all out and start over.

Of course, we'd have to be ready and organized or we'd just get the same Shinola, different day. Hm. Maybe could start getting that way now.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Satan sandwiches over a barrel

So, let me get this straight -- Obama gives away half the store, and still loses the AAA rating?

IMF protesters used to get at least honorable mention in the small presses on the problem with "Third World debt". No matter what we learned in high school about democracy of the marketplace, and so on, Haitian slaves and others who overthrew their European overlords found themselves unable to buy goods they needed, not for lack of money, but because most traders simply wouldn't sell to them, or demanded punitive prices ... and because former colonial governments insisted that the newly freed peoples should pay the debts of (you guessed it) the former colonial governments, international loan sharks made up phony debts or jacked up interest rates specially for the liberees. You might call it a conspiracy, or just co-piracy, but either way these folks suddenly didn't care so much about supply and demand, and sellers and buyers in an open marketplace: they just wanted to stick it to the little guy.

Sound familiar? It should. The US economy is being held hostage, and the coolest thing about negotiating with hostage-takers is, paying them often fuels the fire. We talk about investors, bankers, capital gains recipients -- it amounts to one thing: the rich. For 40 years the rich have been demanding, and getting, deeper and deeper tax cuts. That has not been enough. Union busting has run rampant. Private sector unions have dropped to less than 10 percent of the workforce, which means they have little effect any more on anyone's wages outside their own membership. Bad. For everybody, union or no. Cuts to social services (what the government does for the poor and working people) soon followed. The rich and their own politicians thinly justify the cuts based on reduced revenues and increased debt (which of course is a result a result of the tax cuts, etc.), and then these reductions impact working people's ability to spend an pay taxes, and so on, and so on, and so on.

They have us over a barrel. I would argue it's not necessary or permanent, but there it is. They crash, we bail them out. We crash, they say sorry but we'll have to raise our interest rates because you cats aren't buying enough of our (friends') garbage. So we have a phony debt crisis. And we bargain. Obama seems to have no desire to fight, at least not for us. And we lose big, with no tax increases, etc., from the other side. Whew, crisis averted, right? Wrong. They are just getting started with this little shakedown. And if we have any sense at all, we will have just begun to fight it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

SEIU stands up at UI

I may have mentioned before how proud I am to have worked for ACORN. I am also proud to work for SEIU once again, this time for ass-kicking Local 73 in Illinois and Indiana.

Recently I had the honor of working with approximately 750 building service and food service workers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who were fighting back against an Administration that has been crying broke and at the same time handing out fat, juicy raises to top administrators and coaches, raising tuition every year, raising student fees, and dropping millions on pet projects. (Did they think we wouldn't notice?)

But we did, we stuck together, we fought back, and we won!

Friday, March 18, 2011

BP lessons for Japanese horror

A lot of disasters these days. Shouldn't be an excuse to forget that the consequences of earlier disasters are ongoing -- like BP. Just the opposite. There are lessons for our ongoing disasters from the past, though I know that is a potentially disturbing thought in our nation of goldfish.

Rachel Maddow is right about what Obama should have done (on a long list of things he should have done!), but there is still something we should do, too.

BP should cease to exist. Shut down. The consequences of its activity and inactivity should not be underestimated, and their responsibility should be made clear to everyone who is in that business. People died. The Mississippi Gulf Coast, not even close to recovered from Hurricane Katrina, is devastated economically, biologically, psychologically, and so on. The goal should be fear. Abject fear for anybody in the business of offshore drilling -- or really any other business as potentially deadly as BP -- in case they might even consider cutting corners on safety, lobbying for deregulation, or playing fast and loose with people's lives for profit in any way.

There is only one way to ensure that goal: shut down BP. Don't buy anything BP or BP-affiliated. Don't let their lobbyists in the door. Fine them. Fine them again. And then fine them some more. Then make the liable for all damages and cleanup. Sink them. Completely. Wipe them from the face of the earth.

Then take a hard look at nuclear power plants. And mines. And let's take a look at that list of deadly industries ... make them think a lot more than twice...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wisconsin, Indiana union-busting

Somebody said to me recently, "the Democrats are at their best when they are not there." Actually, I think that's a little harsh, but there is an important point there. Workers in this country have only rarely been able to count on politicians of any political stripe to back us up, much less pitch in with improvements.

Most often we have to fight like hell just to not get robbed, for example in the state sector when workers' contributions to their own pensions are used -- we should say "stolen" -- to pay the employer's other bills. (Somehow this little tidbit gets lost when the public debate begins over public employee pensions, along with the "pension holidays" we get in Illinois for example when the employer doesn't have to pay its obligations: maybe because so many in office are guilty of this legal racketeering?)

Democrats are often as guilty as Republicans on that score, sometimes moreso.

But these legislators who have fled their states to deny quorum to these reprehensible anti-worker bills are very close to heroes at the moment, , like a kind of more creative Mr.-Smith-goes-to-Washington-type-filibuster. See them as a suit-and-tie 300 in the pass at Thermopylae, if you like. (I actually think of the workers in Wisconsin more that way.) But these legislators are not avoiding their responsibilities, which are after all not to the governor and his nutcase agenda, or to some misbegotten sense of decorum, but to the people.

Don't let anyone tell you they are avoiding anything. They are doing the only responsible thing.