Archive for National
At Hullabaloo, David Atkins pens more strategy advice for the American left:
If we ever want a country that operates on different ideological footing, we won’t just need to defeat the conservative opposition. We need to change our own tactics–and our own ideas.
Atkins and others are responding to Adolph Reed’s essay in Harper’s Magazine and interview with Bill Moyers. Reed believes that the Left has put too much faith in electing political personalities at the expense of building movement and infrastructure to hold them accountable.
Neoliberals, Atkins contends, buy into progressive ideas on social issues while promoting conservative ones on economic policies and chasing the same big-donor money as the right. This has turned national Democrats into a party “whose organizing principle is that society will be perfected when even a transgendered racial and religious minority can also become a plutocrat or head of state, so long as not too many people are dying on the street …”
The Daily Show takes on states that rejected Medicaid expansion.
Yesterday the American Federation of Teachers and In the Public Interest launched Cashing in on Kids, a website devoted to researching and exposing corporate influence in and privatization of public education. We have written plenty about that here.
Cashing in on Kids is described as
a one-stop shop for the facts about for-profit education in America. The site profiles five for-profit charter operators: K12 Inc., Imagine Schools, White Hat, Academica and Charter Schools USA. It identifies several issues that need to be addressed in charter school policy, including public control, equity, transparency and accountability.
Rent-seeking investors see a huge potential for private profit in public education. The only obstacle is the public part. By state constitution and/or by the statehood acts that admitted them, states states provide education on a not-for-profit basis (the HORROR!). Investors need to elbow states, communities and public school teachers out of the way if they want to get at … well, let Rupert Murdoch explain it:
In 2010 Rupert Murdoch, who now has a growing education division called Amplify, said recently that “[w]hen it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S.”
The site features details on the failures in major cyber and for-profit charter schools. All seem to suffer from a lack of transparency, public control and accountability. The site hopes to serve as a resource for tracking the underperformance of the national chains.
“This is a simple exercise of following the money,” says Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, one of the nation’s two largest teachers unions. “How many times do people simply get up on a pedestal and say we care about kids, and then you realize that they care about profits, they care about tax deductions, they care about privatizing the public system?”
Weingarten says she is not ideologically opposed to charters.
“I am not anti-charter, and there are many people that run great charter schools that are very well-intentioned and well-meaning,” she says. “But there are also people within the so-called charter school movement … who are really all about profiteering.”
Follow the money.
Several stories about hunger in America popped up this weekend, a couple online and another just down my street. Among people you wouldn’t identify as poor and struggling just by looking at them. PBS Newshour reported on women in Denver who fell into poverty, women who don’t fit popular stereotypes of people on SNAP.
CAROLINE POOLER: Any one of your fellow peers, colleagues or fellow parishioners may be hungry, but you don’t know that about them, because people don’t want to advertise that about themselves. There’s lots of people out there who do not have enough to eat until next payday. There’s a lot of working people who give their last five bucks to their kid for lunch and they go without. And so that’s kind of a different face of hunger than people are thinking of hunger.
Over at Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak reposted Jenn’s story from Poor As Folk blog, “Living in poverty is like being punched in the face over and over and over on a daily basis”
That brings me to the hunger. The hunger is extraordinary. There is a constant gnawing in your stomach, an empty feeling that has taken up permanent residence. Even as you’re eating a meal, you feel the hunger. It never goes away because you don’t know when you’re going to eat again…
As food stamp benefits continue to be cut and food pantries struggle to feed communities, that uncertainty will just continue. I hate to think of my children feeling the same way. They get first dibs on all food that comes through this house. There are many days when my kids get their three meals and I get half of one and my husband … well, I never see him because he is working all the time, but he barely eats, too.
A chance meeting my wife had this week brought the problem home. This is the story pretty much in her own words: Read More→
What need does it fill for these sophomoric billionaires to dress in drag? At New York Magazine, Kevin Roose shares his adventures in 1% Land at the annual gathering of the Kappa Beta Phi, “a secret fraternity, founded at the beginning of the Great Depression, that functioned as a sort of one-percenter’s Friars Club.”
“Good evening, Exalted High Council, former Grand Swipes, Grand Swipes-in-waiting, fellow Wall Street Kappas, Kappas from the Spring Street and Montgomery Street chapters, and worthless neophytes!”
Chris Hayes had the author as a guest last night:
Roose had several observations about this august bunch:
The second thing I realized was that Kappa Beta Phi was, in large part, a fear-based organization. Here were executives who had strong ideas about politics, society, and the work of their colleagues, but who would never have the courage to voice those opinions in a public setting. Their cowardice had reduced them to sniping at their perceived enemies in the form of satirical songs and sketches, among only those people who had been handpicked to share their view of the world. And the idea of a reporter making those views public had caused them to throw a mass temper tantrum.
G: What I think is really interesting as well is that we’ve seen a separation in capitalism. There is the traditional capitalism of the worker and the factory owner, but now what we’ve seen is the rise of a financial class, which is even harmful to the traditional capitalists themselves.
Prof. H: That’s right. Instead of industrial capitalism, if you look at writers from the 19th century, everybody from Marx to business school professors expected the destiny of industrial capitalism to be to bring finance out of the medieval period into the modern period. The idea was to make banks serve the industrial system. That’s what the Saint Simonians advocated in France. They were the idealists of the 19th century. They developed the idea of investment banking that the Reichsbank and the large German banks did most effectively. It’s what Japan did after WW2, simply because they didn’t have any other source of money except by their ability to create their own credit through industrial banking.
Nobody expected that finance capitalism would dominate and ultimately stifle industrial capitalism. But that’s what’s happening.
All the futurists, even socialists, were optimists about capitalism. They thought it was going to evolve naturally into socialism, with an increasing government role in the economy to provide infrastructure, including banking. Instead, you have governments being carved up. That’s what neoliberalism is. It’s really neofeudalism. It’s a dismantling of democracy in favor of a financial oligarchy, to rule by appointing proconsuls and technocrats such as you have in Italy under Monti or in Greece under Papademos. You have a rolling back of history, and of the Enlightenment. If your college curriculum, your religion and the popular press doesn’t even talk about the enlightenment and about the history of economic thought, you’re not going to realize that what’s happening is a rolling back of the last 500 years.
And based on what’s happening in North Carolina, you thought we were only rolling things back 50 years.
We can’t have any of that here. Josh Holland connects the dots, explaining why Tennessee Republicans are very, very unhappy that VW workers in Chattanooga might unionize:
For years, economist Dean Baker has waged a lonely campaign urging progressives to stop accusing business-friendly politicians of being “free-market fundamentalists.” In his 2011 book, The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive, he wrote, “The vast majority of the right does not give a damn about free markets; it just wants to redistribute income upward.” Today, you don’t need to look any further than Tennessee for proof that the “free market” rhetoric of business-friendly politicians is in fact thin cover for favoring the investor class over workers and the environment.
VW workers in Chattanooga finish voting today. They’ve been threatened with economic reprisals — from Grover Norquist’s merry men, to state senators, a U.S. senator, and Tennessee’s governor himself. Heaven forbid workers should have any power in the workplace.
Because in the end that’s what this is about. Not about markets, capitalism, communism, economics or comparative advantage. It’s about power. Who doesn’t have any and who’s terrified of sharing it. Right now, the powers that be in Tennessee are terrified of losing their monopoly on it.
Roger Hickey of Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) sums up what makes this moral movement work:
Long years of organizing and networking had built trust among groups representing various parts of the North Carolina community. And attacks on “my group” coming at the same time as attacks on “your group” forged stronger bonds. An inclusivePeople’s Agenda was forged, supported by an impressive list of coalition partners – from faith groups to labor unions to LGBT rights organizations to women’s groups and environmentalists. Look at these two links, which can both be found athttp://www.hkonj.com/about. They are models for almost every state coalition in the nation.
Isaiah Poole, editor of OurFuture.org, CAF’s blog), quotes Chapel Hill-based education activist, Jeff Bryant:
“With the current dysfunction of government at the national level, these state movements will begin to get more attention as they become more of a visible new dynamic contrasting to the stalemate we see in Washington, D.C.,” Bryant said. “And the messaging around morality rather than values of economic efficiency and financialization that have been the heart of neoliberalism over the past two to three decades will strike many Americans as a better direction forward.”
Isaiah graciously allowed me the last word:
“I expect the movement to build,” Sullivan said. “Fifty years ago, it was ‘segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!’ until it wasn’t, until the weight of the world’s collective moral judgement broke it. Same with apartheid. Same with this tea-party nonsense.”
The News & Observer opines that the broad coalition of protesters that assembled in Raleigh on Saturday represents mainstream North Carolina, not that the Republican-led legislature acknowledges it, or cares:
To see the long ranks of protesters was to wonder how much longer North Carolina’s Republican leaders can dismiss them as a rabble, as outsiders, as “takers,” as agitators, and not see them for who they are: The People. Their issues include labor conditions, pay for public employees, environmental protections, voting rights, fair taxation, help for the unemployed, gay rights, abortion rights and civil rights.
But another of their issues is one they hold in common: They feel they are not being heard. And the deafness of the state’s political powers is deliberate. Legislative leaders and the governor can’t hear above the sound of the corporate money that steers their agenda. And even if they could, they wouldn’t listen. The people in the streets holding signs and chanting are not people they consider “the mainstream” or “real Americans.”
Led by NC NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the Forward Together movement may be indigenous to North Carolina, but Saturday’s mass rally showed that its influence is expanding. Moral Monday protests are starting in Georgia and South Carolina. Over two dozen states sent marchers to Raleigh on Saturday — from neighboring southern states to New York, Florida and Missouri.
Not just a coalition of single-issue groups, this fusion movement recognizes that their varied interests are connected in their struggle against the “extremism” of North Carolina’s General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory. Forward Together set five demands for 2014:
• Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability;
• Provide well-funded, quality public education for all;
• Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice;
• Address inequalities in the criminal justice system;
• Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly and students to safeguard fair democratic representation.
(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)