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Spinning a Popular American Image: John Wayne, the New Economy and the American Male Worker

By John Grant


The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.
-- D.H. Lawrence

 

TPP: The Terrible Plutocratic Plan

By David Swanson

Remarks July 21, 2013 at an Occupy Harrisonburg (Va.) Event. 
Make your voice heard here.

Thanks to Michael Feikema and Doug Hendren for inviting me.  Like most of you I do not spend my life studying trade agreements, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is disturbing enough to make me devote a little time to it, and I hope you will do the same and get your neighbors to do the same and get them to get their friends to do the same -- as soon as possible.

I spend most of my time reading and writing about war and peace.  I'm in the middle of writing a book about the possibility and need to abolish war and militarism.  I hate to take a break from that.  But if we think trade and militarism are separate topics we're fooling ourselves.

Talk Nation Radio: Gar Alperovitz Points to Worker Ownership as Fix for Broken Democracy

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-gar

Gar Alperovitz discusses his new book, What Then Must We Do: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution.  Alperovitz points to long-term trends in wealth and income inequality, environmental destruction, civil liberties loss, incarceration rates, and others, to argue that ordinary political change is not enough, that systemic changes in the distribution of power are badly needed.  See http://www.garalperovitz.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

The Fourth of July

On this, the anniversary of the  U.S.’s independence from Great Britain, some observations:

Subjugation Theology

  “...the church ought to be a community of liberated people, committed to the liberation of all..

                                                     -   Fr. Bernard Haring

 

Biden/Obama full-court press on Snowden is a bad joke: The Real Traitors to America are in Washington and New York

By Dave Lindorff


It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry as the US goes all out to get its hands on National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Banking on Education

Click to Enlarge Image

Democracy for America Infographic

Banking on Education infographic via Democracy for America



It's the Ownership

If you're like me you've read several books that list inspiring examples of worker owned businesses and co-ops, suggesting that expanding on such models might begin to right the wrongs of an incredibly unequal society that is growing even more unequal by the day.

The best such collection I've found is in a new book by Gar Alperovitz called What Then Must We Do?  This book also offers a powerful argument that radical change is needed, albeit an argument with some possible flaws.  First the inspiring examples:

Workers own and run factories in Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington DC, Amarillo, and many other cities.  Labor unions that once opposed worker ownership, including the Steelworkers and several others, now create worker-owned companies.  Forty percent of Americans are members of cooperatives, including credit unions.  People moved hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, from large banks to credit unions and small banks in 2011 and 2012.  (That should continue!)  Then there are community development corporations and land trusts, alive and thriving.  There are even corporations redesigned, and labeled B Corps, chartered under new laws in 12 states to allow them to legally pursue the social good as well as profits. 

Employee stock ownership plans make U.S. workers owners of their businesses in great numbers -- three million more than are members of unions in the private sector.  Federal tax incentives (don't tell Congress!) encourage business owners to sell to their employees.  Worker-owned firms are becoming more common.  They are also more profitable than other similar companies. 

It occurs to me that we need a Union-Label type operation to label and catalog the products of worker-owned companies so that we can put our support there. 

Local governments are investing in local businesses and land development.  A quarter of U.S. electricity comes from publicly owned co-ops.  These power companies are more efficient and tend to be greener.  The model is being followed by public broadband service.  Proposals that meet the textbook definition of socialism are alive and growing in red and blue states alike, and at the local and state levels.

This matters because the national government in the United States is so thoroughly corrupted.  I'm not sure Alperovitz ever directly answers the question of how a national plutocracy will be prevented from halting local and state progress on the ownership question, as it has halted local and state progress on other matters.  If the trend toward democratizing ownership is happening under the radar, how can it possibly be kept there while succeeding on the necessary scale?  If this approach to economic justice is somehow more inherently "American" than other more foreign ideas, how exactly does that protect it?  Weren't family farms and free elections and the Fourth Amendment deemed very American at one point too?  Alperovitz recommends a state-by-state approach to single-payer healthcare, but the refusal of California legislators to enact it has come at the bidding of those in Washington.  None of which is to suggest that Alperovitz is wrong to promote this strategy -- just that it may be very difficult, and some other strategies may help too.

Alperovitz frames his discussion within an understanding of serious systemic failure.  Persistent long-term trends toward income and wealth inequality, monopolized corporate power, mass incarceration, and environmental devastation churn ahead in the face of elections, activism, lobbying, and reform legislation, not to mention flip-flopping between Republican and Democratic so-called "leadership."  Alperovitz paints these as even longer term trends than we often suppose by dismissing the gains of the middle of the 20th century as an aberration produced by the Great Depression and World War II, and as gains that could not have come without a large labor movement -- something he now deems virtually impossible. 

Most activist groups, Alperovitz points out, react to cuts in public services by demanding no cuts.  This is purely defensive.  Alperovitz acknowledges that some also advocate for progressive taxation, but deems this "obviously inadequate" although the obviousness of its inadequacy is not apparent to me, except in the sense that (just like the worker-ownership model) it hasn't succeeded yet on a major scale. Yes, the plutocrats buy the elections.  The system is rigged against tax reform.  But the goal of advancing the taxation (and elimination) of billionaires as power is gradually obtained seems critical.

Alperovitz seems at times to buy into the notion that there just isn't enough money around, even if the billionaires were to be taxed at 90 percent.  But this is wrong, of course.  The nation is rolling in money, and the money is piled up in the hands of several hundred people. 

It's somewhere else as well, somewhere Alperovitz doesn't propose to look for it.  President Obama's proposed budget for 2014 devotes 57% of discretionary spending to an illegal, immoral, counterproductive, and economically destructive operation known as war and preparation for war.  While Alperovitz suggests that World War III could save the U.S. economy (were a new world war possible, which he says it isn't), economists say military spending as it exists does less for the economy than other public spending and even less than tax cuts for working people; that is to say, it is worse than nothing. 

Alperovitz seems unaware that roughly half of military spending is outside the Pentagon, in Homeland Security, in the CIA, in the State Department, in the Energy Department, etc.  So he uses the Pentagon budget alone to argue that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP.  This does not of course make it low in terms of actual dollars or as a percentage of global military spending or as a percentage of public spending in the United States.  Alperovitz believes there's little money for spending on human needs, but seems not to notice where 57% of discretionary spending is going. 

While Alperovitz raises the topic of healthcare because it takes up, he says, 20 percent of GDP, the war machine that swallows 8 or 9 percent of GDP from U.S. government purchases alone (U.S. companies also dominating international weapons sales) gets no consideration.  Leo Tolstoy, from whom the book's title is borrowed, would have noticed the existence of the military industrial complex.  He would have considered the possibility of economic conversion.  Connecticut created a commission this month to pursue conversion from war to peace manufacturing.  I suspect Alperovitz would like that model if he took a look at it. 

So, here's where I come down.  We should be pursuing everything Alperovitz recommends, and then some.  We should create worker ownership, tax the rich, cut the military, invest in our society, and act strategically at the local, state, and national levels.  We should take very seriously long-term structural failures and stop imagining that another election will fix anything by itself.  And we should, as Alperovitz wisely recommends, be preparing the ground for the best possible activism when a moment of greater possibilities arrives, or when we have succeeded in creating it.

Corporate Welfare or Education?

Should a public university be transformed into a corporate welfare project?  That’s the key question surrounding “Tax-Free NY,” a new plan zealously promoted by New York State’s Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo.

Under the provisions of his Tax-Free NY scheme, most of the 64 campuses of the State University of New York (SUNY), some private colleges, and zones adjacent to SUNY campuses would be thrown open to private businesses that would be exempted from state taxes on sales, property, the income of their owners, and the income of their employees for a period of ten years.  According to the governor, this creation of tax-free havens for private, profit-making companies is designed to create economic development and jobs, especially in upstate New York.

Joined by businessmen, politicians, and top SUNY administrators, Cuomo has embarked on a full court press for his plan.  Tax-Free NY, he announced, was “a game-changing initiative that will transform SUNY campuses and university communities across the state.”  Conceding that these tax-free zones wouldn’t work without a dramatic “culture shift” in the SUNY system, Cuomo argued that faculty would have to “get interested and participate in entrepreneurial activities.”  As he declared in mid-May, the situation was “delicate, because academics are academics. . . .  But you can be a great academic and you can be entrepreneurial, and I would argue you’d be a better academic if you were actually entrepreneurial.”

How broke do we have to be to cut military budget?

Source: www.robcouteau.com 

by Lisa Savage and Janet Weil

The omnibus military spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  rolled out of the House Armed Services Committee pulling a trailer load of amendments and barreling down an increasingly potholed road. In the same week as news broke of massive school closings in Chicago and Philadelphia for lack of funding, only two members of the committee, California representatives Jackie Speier and John Garamendi, had the presence of mind to vote “no” on $637.5 billion more for drones, nukes, and missile “defense” in FY2014.

We Are Family

  This one contains a tongue-in-cheek look at the wealthy "decision makers"  who are deciding to "fix the debt" by cutting services to ordinary people rather than take simple steps like closing tax loopholes designed by and for the benefit of the rich, raising the current cut-off level on the Social Security tax, eliminating offshore tax shelters, going after income tax fraud, and raising corporate income taxes, which have plunged over the past few decades.   My apologies to any political figures I may have inadvertently shamed by low-balling their income.  I will gladly make any needed corrections. 

 

Hundreds of Them Living in a Single File Cabinet

 This one takes a look at the offshore tax shelters which corporations use to avoid hundreds of billions of dollars of tax liability, thereby leaving... you and me... to carry the load, while our country sinks deeper into debt.

Sanders Statement on Social Security Trust Fund Report

BURLIGTON, Vt., May 31 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Senate Budget Committee member and founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, issued the following statement after Social Security trustees today released their annual report on the retirement system’s finances:

“The report from the Social Security trustees confirms what many of us have known, that Social Security is not ‘going broke,’ that it can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 20 years and that after 2033 there is enough in reserve to pay three-quarters of future benefits.

“Our job now is to make sure Social Security is strong not just for 20 years but for generations to come. The best way to do that is not to cut Social Security cost-of-living adjustments as Republicans and President Obama have proposed, but to do what Obama called for as a candidate in 2008. We must lift the cap on Social Security payroll taxes and make the wealthy contribute the same percentage of their income as other workers. Today, someone making $10 million a year contributes the same amount of money as someone making $113,700. That is absurd.”

To read a fact sheet on the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act (S.500) to apply the payroll tax that most Americans already pay on all of their income to income above $250,000 a year, click here.

To read the bill cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) click here.

 

Forget droning on about changed policies: President Obama will have to Prove He’s a Changed Man

By Dave Lindorff


Some on the left are writing hopefully these days that perhaps President Obama has finally realized he needs to back off on his warlike posture on drones and the War on Terror. They are seeing his talk about scaling back the use of drone killing machines and of reconsidering or “investigating” recent Justice Department attacks on the press and its use of leaks by government whistle-blowers, as a sign that he is perhaps regaining his constitutional senses and perhaps even “moving” to the left to rebuild support he has been losing in droves.

Congress Today: Who Does it Really Represent?

With U.S. approval of Congress holding steady at a whopping 15%, one wonders just who it is the elected representatives are representing. Perhaps we can answer that question, by looking at some of their recent activities, and considering some of the things currently left undone.

New Study Shows How Microlending has Gotten Off Track: Stumbling on Its Own Success

 

By Dave Lindorff


An article by TCBH! journalist Dave Lindorff in the May issue of  American Banker magazine details how the mission of microlending has gotten off track, and why helping impoverished women is getting harder to do.
 

On the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign

‘We will march to ignite the revolution King called for’

By the Rev. C. D. Witherspoon

Talk Nation Radio: Here Comes Corporate Nationhood

And you thought corporate personhood was bad enough!  Lacey Kohlmoos, Senior Field Organizer, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, tells us that the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) will create corporate nationhood by empowering corporations to sue and overrule real nations, as well as incentivizing the offshoring of jobs, hurting food safety, damaging environmental protections, enriching drug companies at the expense of human health, banning some generic drugs, further deregulating banks, forbidding the breaking up of too-big-to-fail financial firms, and creating SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) despite its failure in Congress as a result of strong public opposition.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Another Dismal Jobs Report

 

Another Dismal Jobs Report

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Putting lipstick on this pig doesn't wash. One analyst said March data was miserable from every angle. Economist David Rosenberg called it "one soft US jobs report." It "quash(ed) the consensus view of economic re-acceleration."

 

NO CUTS! NO TAX INCREASES ON ORDINARY PEOPLE! Chase Down Mega-Rich Tax Cheats and Recover the Offshore Trillion$

 

By Dave Lindorff


Hold everything!


I mean it. Stop talking about cutting school budgets, Social Security benefits, Medicare, Veteran’s pensions. Stop cutting subsidies to transit systems, to foreign aid. Stop cutting unemployment benefits. Stop it all.

Talk Nation Radio: Richard Wolff on Putting Workers in Charge at Work

Richard Wolff is a professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of Democracy at Work.  See http://democracyatwork.info

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Embed on your own site with this code:

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Not Too Big to Resist: Too Big to Jail

 

By Dan DeWalt


Corporate America just received the confirmation that they've been waiting for.

 

True, He’s the First Black President But Obama’s the Worst President Ever

 

By Ron Ridenour


Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!


We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.


Pulling up the Ladder at Yahoo: Marissa Mayer's Faustian Bargain

 

By Alfredo Lopez


The recent order by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, forbidding Yahoo employees from doing their Yahoo work at home, might seem justified. After all, companies tell their employees what to do and Mayer might have good reasons for this edict. But the memo and its fallout raise serious and significant questions about technology, culture and women's role in both.


Sequestration's indiscriminate cuts are no solution to the bloated military budget

An Op-Ed for MLTF by David GespassDavid Gespass

Reprinted by permission from nglmltf.org.

Editor's note: Some on the Left, most prominently former Democratic Party chair Howard Dean, have said that the automatic cuts of the sequester are the only way the military budget will ever be reduced, and that he therefore supports them. In this editorial written for the MLTF website, former  NLG president David Gespass agrees with the sentiment, but argues that the cuts of the sequester will not big enough, or directed enough, to make the kind of difference we hope for.

The “sequester,” as has been well documented, was the Obama administration’s ingenious mechanism, which both parties and houses of Congress bought into, for insuring a rational budget deal. The idea was to require, in the absence of such a deal, uniform spending cuts for all but a specified few federal programs. Thus, the military budget, for example, will require the same percentage cuts in spending on the building of more tanks, for which we have no use, and the provision of food for the troops. The consequence, as we shall see, is that little is done to rein in out-of-control military appropriations while visiting significant hardship on GIs, veterans and civilian personnel.

The US military budget is clearly out of control. In 2012, the country spent $711 billion on the military. The next fourteen biggest military spenders, including a number of presumed U.S. allies and two countries, Germany and Japan, that are not supposed to have armies  – China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Australia, Canada and Turkey – spent a total of $713 billion. Only Saudi Arabia, at 8.7%, spent as high a percentage of its gross domestic product as the U.S. at 4.7%.

Watch Your Wallet! Much Ado about Nothing in Budget Debate

 

By Dave Lindorff


By Dave Lindorff


All the sturm and drang in Washington over the March 1 deadline for a budget deal is an act. Two acts really.

A new video by Class War Films: 'Financial Crime'

 

Class War Films, the brainchild of three filmmakers, Lanny Cotler, and Paul and Jason Edwards, have offered to provide ThisCantBeHappening! with occasional short videos on topics like this, military spending, political fraud, financial crime, etc. They are working on creating a website, which will be called ClassWarriors.org, which should be functioning "soon" we are informed.

We're happy here at TCBH! to be able to help get their films out to a wider public.

 

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