Why Obama and Romney really do see the world differently For some viewers, it was no surprise Mitt Romney toned down his bellicosity last night and chose to minimize his differences with Barack Obama’s on a number of foreign policy issues. But Romney’s largely tactical decision obscured the real “choice” on foreign policy that his election presents. That choice doesn’t concern a specific issue but rather a broad philosophical view about America’s role in the world. For all their seeming consensus, the two candidates represent two distinct political and intellectual traditions that were carved out during our post-World War II past.
Greetings From the New Economy “Are you ready for a new economy? Are you ready for a new politics?” The challenge at the podium came from Gus Speth, the courtly co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, now a professor at Vermont Law School, who is on the board of the newly created New Economics Institute (NEI). The occasion was the founding conference of NEI, held at Bard College in early June, and Speth was making a call for “an economy whose very purpose is not to grow profit…but sustain people and the planet.” NEI is the remade E.F. Schumacher Society, the group based in Massachusetts’ Berkshire mountains that promoted the wisdom of the author of Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered for over 30 years.
Guide for the Perplexed You look at the Obama-Biden ticket. You like them personally. But you’re not sure what they want to achieve over the next four years. The country needs big changes, and they don’t seem to be offering many. Where’s the leadership? In this disaffected frame of mind, you ask yourself: What really matters in this election?
On Monday, the US Senate will vote on Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s “Buffett Rule” bill. According to Whitehouse, wealthy Americans should not pay a lower tax rate than those who earn less than they do. I happen to agree. 'Buffett Rule' unfair and ineffective | Barry Hinckley for U.S. Senate
Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger. Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association. “You could safely say that Iceland holds the world record in household debt relief,” said Lars Christensen, chief emerging markets economist at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “Iceland followed the textbook example of what is required in a crisis. Any economist would agree with that.”
No, Romney Didn’t Leave Bain in 1999 A central element of the 2012 campaign cycle has become just when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital. The Romney campaign says he left in early 1999 -- in time to get him off the hook for some controversial investments. Factcheck.org backs up Mitt while David Corn and the Obama campaign have brought forward numerous pieces of documentary evidence indicating he didn't leave until a couple years later. Now here's even more evidence that he didn't leave in 1999 as he now claims. The gist of the disagreement comes down to this: There's no question that numerous public filings and some contemporaneous press references say Romney was still running things at Bain after 1999. But his campaign insists that whatever securities filings may have said, in practice, he was so busy running the 2002 Winter Olympics that he actually had no role at Bain after early 1999.
America's Billionaires: Are They Crazy Enough? America's Billionaires: Are They Crazy Enough? Jon Ronson just wrote a long article for GQ for which he interviewed people at five different levels of income, starting at $10,000 and going up to B. Wayne Hughes, a self-storage magnate worth $1.9 billion. Hughes apparently has strong political views, and has given $3.25 million to Karl Rove's American Crossroads. As is traditional with America's billionaires, he's also filled with bizarre fury toward all non-billionaire Americans: Wayne talked to me about "derelicts on welfare" who check themselves into the hospital because they're "bored" and "want feeding," and "we're paying for all that activity."
Klamath Free School
A Simple Fix for Farming IT’S becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I’m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use — if it wants to. This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.
Acxiom, the Quiet Giant of Consumer Database Marketing
"Private property" is inseparable from plutocracy Here's something to think about: pretty much every human ever in the history of humans has had personal belongings, things that belonged to that person and/or their immediate family – cooking utensils, gardening tools, weapons, clothing, jewelry – the stuff of everyday life. And here's what the plutocrats can't comprehend – people generally don't need a concept of "private property" to have some basic respect for other people's personal effects. Just being a member of a community of people who know each other is good enough almost all the time! But when you hear plutocrats and their toadies talk sanctimoniously about "private property," they are not really talking about things like your phone, or your car, or the stuff in your house, or even your house.
The New Political Correctness Remember the furor over liberal political correctness? Yes, some of it was over the top — but it was mainly silly, not something that actually warped our national discussion. Today, however, the big threat to our discourse is right-wing political correctness, which — unlike the liberal version — has lots of power and money behind it. And the goal is very much the kind of thing Orwell tried to convey with his notion of Newspeak: to make it impossible to talk, and possibly even think, about ideas that challenge the established order.
Progressive small farmer organizations in Mexico scored a victory over transnational corporations that seek to monopolize seed and food patents. When the corporations pushed their bill to modify the Federal Law on Plant Varieties through the Committee on Agriculture and Livestock of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies on March 14, organizations of farmers from across the country sounded the alarm. By organizing quickly, they joined together to pressure legislators and achieved an agreement with the legislative committee to remove the bill from the floor. What’s at stake is free and open access to plant biodiversity in agriculture. The proposed modifications promote a privatizing model that uses patents and “Plant Breeders’ Rights” (PBR) to deprive farmers of the labor of centuries in developing seed. The small farmers who worked to create this foundation of modern agriculture never charged royalties for its use. Mexican Farmers Block Monsanto Law to Privatize Plants and Seeds
It's time to #OccupyMedia!! Meet the 6 companies that control 90% of the media in the U.S.
Art: To the #Haymarket! Interna...
What happened to the Occupy movement? Occupy Wall Street was at the pinnacle of its power in October 2011, when thousands of people converged at Zuccotti Park and successfully foiled the plans of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sweep away the occupation on grounds of public health. From that vantage point, the Occupy movement appears to have tumbled off a cliff, having failed to organise anything like a general strike on May Day - despite months of rumblings of mass walkouts, blockades and shutdowns. The mainstream media are eager to administer last rites. CNN declared "May Day fizzled", the New York Post sneered "Goodbye, Occupy" and the New York Times consigned the day's events to fewer than 400 words, mainly about arrests in New York City.
The Road Out of Serfdom The United States has always been a plutocracy – a society governed by and for the wealthiest few. The Constitution was written by the plutocrats of the time, and the plutocrat class has remained in control of the central government and the system of profit-based finance since then. But until the late 19th century, the overall power of the plutocratic class was somewhat limited by the existence of the western frontier – once the central government cleared away the people already there, the frontier was an escape valve where people could endeavor to exist somewhat beyond the control of the MONEY life controlled by the Seaboard City plutocrats. On the frontier, if you could afford to get a place started, you had the possibility of taking care of most of your needs yourself and thereby limit your necessary ties to unequal relations with money-power people whose only interest in engaging with you is to make a profit, in order to increase their own wealth and power.
Introduction to THE POPULIST MOMENT, A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America, by Lawrence Goodwyn, 1978
Gordon Gekko, the infamously cutthroat capitalist and lead character in Oliver Stone's Wall Street, captured the heady years of the 1980s with a single, indelible line: Greed is good. Today, it is Edward Conard, a friend and former colleague of Mitt Romney's at the private equity firm Bain Capital, who has offered a new mantra for the 1%, a cri de coeur for the Gekkos of the twenty-first century: Inequality is good. In his new book Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong, Conard argues that gaping income inequality is an indication of a healthy economy, not a sick one. The more unequal we are, Conard told the New York Times Magazine, the better off we all will be. Why? Because economies grow and thrive when smart people devise solutions to our thorniest problems by inventing or perfecting goods and services. Barbara Ehrenreich, Looting the Lives of the Poor
Obama the Pioneer Earlier this week, The New Yorker‘s Steve Coll wrote an excellent column on President Obama’s kill list and assassination powers. Regarding the lawsuit brought by the ACLU and CCR on behalf of three American victims of Obama’s assassinations — a legal challenge which CBS News‘ Andrew Cohen called ”the most important lawsuit filed so far this year” and “the most important lawsuit filed in the war on terror since President Barack Obama took office” – Coll argued that it “is to the due-process clause what the proposed march of neo-Nazis through a community that included many Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Illinois, was to the First Amendment”: “an instance where the most onerous facts imaginable should lead to the durable affirmation of constitutional principle, as Skokie did.”