Hello! Here is a roundup of some of the most interesting items from a very few of my favorite sites. I hope you find them interesting!
“If there is going to be change, real change,” Zinn told Herbert, “it will have to work its way from the bottom up, from the people themselves. That’s how change happens.”
The UK government’s message was clear: Sorry, there’s not enough money for the little people. Yet, it soon became clear there should have been enough funds to cover the educations of Britain’s youth, and to provide housing for every poor man, woman and child in the country. However, there were some entities – corporations – that were committing the equivalent of economic treason, and that is why the UK is currently experiencing a shortfall in tax revenue.
Now, the UK Uncut movement has come to America. US Uncut just recently launched, but there are already chapters springing up across the country. The whole thing is moving faster than Carl Gibson, the director of US Uncut’s founding chapter in Mississippi, could have ever hoped for.
“This is snowballing so quick,” said Gibson. “I made the Twitter page and Facebook group and invited a few friends and said, ‘Guys, we’ve got to do something about this,’ and this is right after I read the article about UK Uncut in The Nation that had the ten steps to launching a US Uncut movement, and I got busy.”
Now, Gibson is helping to coordinate movements in twenty states. UK Uncut helped him organize a unified day of protest against the banks. He’s spoken with BBC World and The Guardian. Additionally, Gibson says certain US Uncut participants have reached out to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in order to bridge the divide between liberalism’s two great abandoned resource pools: the poor and labor.
“I think this just indicates that people are so, so ready for a movement like this to come out,” he said, “especially when you consider how the right-wing has stolen the mantle of populism in order to preach corporate propaganda and get people to protest against their own economic self-interest in the Tea Party movement.”
“To me, understanding history is a matter of life and death,” he said. “If you don’t understand history, you’re a victim.” By that, he meant that if citizens didn’t understand their own history of exploitation at the hands of robber barons and tycoons, who fought for deregulation at the expense of their employees in order to accumulate larger profits, they would be doomed to repeat those tragedies. Now here we are in 2011, and an entire movement branded as a populist uprising is screaming about illegal immigrants and Obama’s birth certificate while corporations rob the country blind.
Luckily, it seems as though enough sane Americans are learning the correct history lessons from their brothers and sisters in struggle. Here’s hoping US Uncut never forgets its history.
US Uncut’s official website is http://www.usuncut.org/. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
The goal should be to do away with employer-based benefits in favor of universal social insurance programs
Outcome #1: The state Senate Democrats return to Wisconsin, and Walker’s union-busting bill passes.
Outcome #2: Governor Walker and the Republicans ditch the collective-bargaining ban.
Outcome #3: Walker and Senate Republicans could use a constitutional end-run to pass the budget repair bill.
Outcome #4: Walker could put off the final fight over collective bargaining until spring.
For a more comprehensive view of the Republicans’ war on unions, we need to focus on what Republicans in Washington did last week. In the House, Republicans passed, as part of their continuing resolution to fund the federal government through September, a provision that slashed the funding of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by one-third.
But the truly breathtaking measure was an amendment by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to defund the NLRB – closing it down altogether – until the fiscal year ends in September. The measure failed Thursday because 60 Republicans joined every Democrat present in voting no, but three-quarters of House Republicans – 176 of them, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) – voted yes. In other words, the House leadership supported abolishing the right of American workers – in the private sector no less than the public sector – to bargain collectively.
The Tea Party affiliated group’s $342,200 ad buy is part of its “Stand With Walker” initiative to support Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The ad will run on network and cable channels across the state beginning on Wednesday and continuing through March 1, AFP said in a news release. AFP says it has already collected 60,000 signatures in support of Walker.
“Incredibly, President Obama backs the union bosses and floods Wisconsin with out-of-state political protesters,” the ad’s narrator says.
Thanks to the rules of the Indiana Legislature, Democrats say they can kill a slew of other bills they don’t like just by staying away. And it sounds like they intend to do just that.
Indiana’s legislative rules give a fixed timeline for bills to be read on the floor and voted on. The current session comes to an end on April 29, when the legislators will go home unless Daniels calls a special session of the state legislature.
Sixty-seven of the Indiana House’s 100 members must be in the legislature for votes to proceed. The Republicans have a huge 60-40 majority, but that’s not enough to force a quorum without the Democrats. So, AWOL House Democrats could effectively kill legislation just by hanging out in Urbana, IL, where they’re currently holed up. (Here’s a good explainer on the nuts and bolts of the Democratic walkout from the Indianapolis Star).
Affordable Care Act
Although the issue will almost certainly be determined by the Supreme Court, each lower court ruling contributes to the balance of legal opinion that the justices will consider. More than 20 challenges to some aspect of the sprawling act have been filed around the country. Oral arguments in the first appellate reviews are scheduled for May and June.
It’s a perfect partisan streak: Three judges appointed by Democrats have ruled for it, and two judges appointed by Republicans have ruled against it. But the rulings for the bill haven’t received anywhere near the attention given to the rulings against the bill. Judge Kessler’s ruling, for instance, doesn’t appear to be on the homepage of any of the major papers right now.
I’m not alleging bias here: A judge upholding the status quo is not as newsworthy as a judge radically altering it. But the reality is that the public is seeing a lot of coverage of the rulings against the Affordable Care Act and almost no coverage of the rulings — which are substantially more numerous, particularly if you include the many cases that have been thrown out of court — in the law’s favor. That’s quite a gift to the opponents of the legislation. A typical consumer of news probably does not realize that the balance of the courts, at this point, have ruled the law constitutional.
It is pure semantics to argue that an individual who makes a choice to forgo health insurance is not “acting,” especially given the serious economic and health-related consequences to every individual of that choice. Making a choice is an affirmative action, whether one decides to do something or not do something. They are two sides of the same coin. To pretend otherwise is to ignore reality. […]
The crux of Plaintiffs’ arguments is that § 1501 is an unprecedented attempt by Congress to regulate individual behavior, and therefore threatens individuals’ freedom of choice. Appealing as this emotionally charged argument may sound, the ACA is not as unprecedented as Plaintiffs claim: as already discussed, Congress’s broad power to regulate individual behavior under the Commerce Clause is well established.
Brian Beutler quotes Senator Sherrod Brown:
“The President’s done more on manufacturing than his predecessors, but not nearly enough,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told me in an interview Friday. “That needs a real strategy on making things. We ought to make things in this country. And it’s a strategy on a different trade policy, a different tax policy, an emphasis on working with small manufacturers.”
I continue to disagree. Obviously, it’s not viable for the United States to be a country in which no things are made. But the reality is that lots of products are manufactured in America:
And a very cool chart!
Dave Roberts’ latest efforts on disputes within the community of people who accept that climate change is real and undesirable has a wise conclusion:
This exercise is clarifying, I think, but it shouldn’t obscure the fact that virtually every serious economist recommends action. Nordhaus puts it well: “While there is debate about whether the ‘right’ number for a carbon price is $10, $20 or $100, the global average today is close to $1 and moving nowhere. So we have a long, long way to go before we even enter the range of debate.”
There’s no excuse for inaction.
What’s behind the recent worldwide surge in food prices? The usual commentators are making their usual media appearances and trumpeting the usual claims: It’s all about the Federal Reserve! It’s all about the speculators!
However, I’ve been looking at the federal government’s estimates of world supply and demand, and clearly what we’re experiencing is the fallout from a global harvest failure due to terrible weather. Yes, climate change might be the culprit.
The smart thing for us to do right now is to impose a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax, to be phased in at 5 cents a month beginning in 2012, with all the money going to pay down the deficit. Legislating a higher energy price today that takes effect in the future, notes the Princeton economist Alan Blinder, would trigger a shift in buying and investment well before the tax kicks in. With one little gasoline tax, we can make ourselves more economically and strategically secure, help sell more Chevy Volts and free ourselves to openly push for democratic values in the Middle East without worrying anymore that it will harm our oil interests. Yes, it will mean higher gas prices, but prices are going up anyway, folks. Let’s capture some it for ourselves.
House Republicans voted to increase the number of abortions, raise federal health-care costs and swell the welfare rolls.
SEC Searches for Conflicts of Interest in Market for Pieces of Firms Like Facebook
Jamie Galbraith: ‘The government is not, by any means, a pure representative of the working population.’
No question the world became much more complicated when the internal system that developed in the United States became exposed to competition and interpenetration with Europe and Japan and more recently, China. But what happened to the unions was first and foremost an enormous attack on them from the American right, which culminated in the 1980s with the Reagan administration. Then, as manufacturing jobs inevitably declined, labor was blocked from effectively organizing in the rest of the private sector, particularly the service sector. But that’s not been true in every country. And those countries which have high union coverage manage to stay in the forefront of competitiveness in world industry. If you ask why is it that the Scandinavian countries did so well, it’s not because Sweden discovered oil — that was Norway. Rather, having to pay decently high wages means businesses have to stay on the front of the technological curve.
Lots of easy information about the Administration’s proposed budget.
Explore every nook and cranny of President Obama’s budget proposal.
Awesome interactive chart:
The chart, which can be probed for more detail, examines spending sectors as fractions of gross domestic product. Better yet, this visualization of the budget was done with a tool that’s usable by anybody with data and a passion for communication — IBM’s Many Eyes tool kit.
Just as it was hard to find the environment, let alone climate, in a visual display of one year’s worth of news coverage not long ago, it is pretty darned hard to find innovation reflected in a visual display of the United States budget generated by the White House:
(Another awesome chart.)
- Cutting Taxes for the Middle Class: Late last year, the President and Congress reached a bipartisan deal to cut taxes on middle-class families, which is reflected in the President’s budget. The deal included income tax cuts and a temporary payroll tax holiday that, taken together, will mean that typical families will see thousands of dollars more in their paychecks this year.
- Helping Keep Child Care Affordable: The Budget proposes to expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which helps families cover the rising cost of child care. Our proposal will nearly double this tax credit for families making less than $75,000 a year, and nearly all eligible families making less than $103,000 a year will see their credit increase.
- Helping Students and Their Families Pay for College: The Budget proposes to build on the gains we’ve made over the last two years in boosting college affordability, including permanently extending the President’s new American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides students and their families with a tax credit of up to $2,500 a year to help pay for college. The Budget also makes the tough choices necessary to maintain the $5,550 maximum Pell Grant award.
- Strengthening Retirement Security for American Workers: The Budget proposes to give more workers access to better retirement savings options by requiring employers who don’t already offer a retirement plan at the workplace to automatically enroll their workers in a direct-deposit IRA. Workers will be able to opt out of these automatic IRAs if they choose, and the smallest employers will be exempt, but this proposal will help provide an easier and better way to save for the 78 million Americans who don’t currently have a retirement plan at work.
- Providing Support for Family Caregivers: The Budget proposes to devote $96 million to the Administration’s Caregiver Initiative, an effort to expand assistance for families and seniors so that caregivers can better manage their multiple responsibilities and seniors can live in the community for as long as possible.
- Investing in Infrastructure and Clean Energy to Create Jobs Here in America: The Budget proposes several major investments in infrastructure and clean energy that will increase American competitiveness and create jobs. These proposals include making major investments in roads, rail, and high-speed internet, extending a highly effective clean energy manufacturing tax credit, and improving incentives for purchasing electric cars.
Some will argue that the goals of fiscal discipline and investing in the middle class are mutually exclusive. President Obama does not believe so, which is why this budget embodies the reality that we must do all we can to meet both of those goals.
By March 4, lawmakers must pass a short-term resolution to continue funding the government, or President Obama and congressional leaders can strike a deal on how to fund government operations for the final seven months of fiscal 2011. Failing to do so would prompt at least a partial shutdown affecting various agencies and functions.
Ahead of potential cutbacks, the Social Security Administration plans to discuss the impact of a shutdown with union leaders next week.
Under federal law, employees working through a shutdown must be engaged in military or law enforcement duties, provide medical care or protect lives and property. Some agencies may keep employees on the job if their compensation is paid for through a different appropriations process.