You are browsing the archive for 2014 October 11.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Bill de Blasio Is a Progressive Leader on Education and Poverty

October 11, 2014 in Blogs

By Richard (R.J.) Eskow, The Smirking Chimp

So far Bill de Blasio has done exceptionally well at leading by example.


Progressives who are elected to executive office have a unique opportunity to highlight neglected issues and stimulate much-needed debate, by taking actions which challenge the “conventional wisdom.” They can change the political landscape by employing a principle that might be called “leadership by example.”

The mayor of New York City is uniquely positioned to play this role, thanks to that city's prominence, and so far Bill de Blasio has done exceptionally well at it. Two of his actions — on education and assistance to the poor — deserve particular commendation, because they challenge the “bipartisan” consensus that has too often strangled open debate and left the public's interests unrepresented.

Action for the Impoverished

1. “Welfare Reform's” Record of Failure. “Centrist” Democrats like Bill Clinton, together with Republicans like Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, have long sung the praises of “welfare reform” — a set of policies that promised to turn welfare recipients into “productive citizens” through a combination of educational programs, work requirements, and “tough love” that denied benefits to some of them.

Clinton signed the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” on August 22, 1996, saying it would “end welfare as we know it and transform our broken welfare system by promoting the fundamental values of work, responsibility, and families.” That bill quickly became a symbol of “bipartisan consensus” and a much-touted piece of model legislation for the neoliberal economic agenda.

Unfortunately, we now know that it didn't work. In fact, it backfired. A report from the University of Michigan's National Poverty Center showed that extreme povertyincreased in the United States by 130 percent between 1996 and 2013 — and pinpointed “welfare reform” as the cause.

Despite its documented failure, the myth persists that “welfare reform” succeeded. This belief has so far proved resistant to the mounting evidence against it, perhaps because it serves the personal interests of wealthy individuals and corporations who don't care to be taxed for antipoverty programs.

This “reform” myth also serves to assuage their consciences. Politicians like Cuomo and Clinton are all too happy to help …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

5 Right-Wing Outrages This Week: 'Biblically Correct' Sex Edition

October 11, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Plus Fox freaks out about the 'attack on Columbus Day.'


1. Phil Robertson: You can't get STDs from having “biblically-correct” sex.

Boy are some Christians having “biblically-correct” sex going to be pissed if they come down with an STD. “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, told them this would not happen. He said it in a sermon, in a church, in the house of God, so it must be true. He said, “Biblically correct sex is safe,” during a sermon in West Monroe, Louisiana recently. “It’s safe. You’re not going to get chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDS.” He meant monogamous sex with an uninfected partner, which is true enough. But that sounds kind of scientific-ey. Also, it does not rule out the dreaded homosexuality, which he has a well-known track record of hating. So, yeah, he prefers the term “biblically-correct sex,” which is, of course, heterosexual, monogamous, and maybe just a tad boring.

But he’ll tell you what does spread diseases, “Orthodox liberal opinion,” that's what. Liberals are spreading “debilitating diseases” all over the U.S. Not sure how, but they are, trust him. Also, science. Robertson does not have much use for that. Nor does he have any use for knowledge, or anything else that does not come from the Bible.

Robertson, is dumber than a post. He has revealed that repeatedly, for instance when he claimed black people were happier when they were slaves and during Jim Crow. There were other people with IQs lower than that of wood sitting in the church listening to him.

2. Phyllis Schlafly: Obama wants America to be just like Africa, Ebola and all.

Phyllis Schlafly is working hard to be the most hateful woman on the planet well into her dotage. In the last few weeks, the 90-year-old Eagle Forum founder has said some real doozies, from advising young women to get married to avoid being raped, to attributing the Secret Service mess-ups to the fact that an overweight woman was leading the agency.  Now she is turning that lightning intellect to the scourge of ebola, which she says Obama is trying to spread around America.

To be …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Snowden Vindicated—'Citizenfour' Documentary Untangles the NSA Leak Saga

October 11, 2014 in Blogs

By Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Laura Poitras unpacks a historic intel controversy.


Citizenfour must have been a maddening documentary to film. Its subject is pervasive global surveillance, an enveloping digital act that spreads without visibility, so its scenes unfold in courtrooms, hearing chambers and hotels. Yet the virtuosity of Laura Poitras, its director and architect, makes its 114 minutes crackle with the nervous energy of revelation.

Poitras, the first journalist contacted by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, mirrors her topic. She rarely appears on news programs or chat shows. She is a mysterious character in her own movie, heard more than she is seen.

But surreptitiously, Poitras has been a commander of a stream of disclosures for 16 months that have forced the NSA into a new and infamous era. Citizenfour demonstrates to the public the prowess that those of us who have worked with her on the NSA stories encountered. Her movie, the culmination of a post-9/11 trilogy that spans a dark horizon from Iraq to Guantánamo, is a triumph of journalism and a triumph for journalism.

At its heart, Citizenfour is the story of how Snowden’s disclosures unfolded through Poitras’ eyes, from the first communications Snowden sends Poitras, hinting at what is to come, until Snowden sees himself vindicated through emulation. (The film is named for a pseudonym Snowden used with Poitras.) The time before Poitras meets Snowden is symbolized by a car traveling through a pitch-black tunnel, barely illuminated by the glowing red lights on the ceiling, until sunlight bursts in when she and her colleagues Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill arrive in Hong Kong for their fateful encounter.

The outlines of that story are now familiar. Snowden, an NSA contractor, provides the journalists with voluminous evidence of industrial-scale surveillance covering much of the planet’s communications, and forecloses on a normal life in the process. Poitras trains her camera on contextualizing both aspects of Snowden’s decision.

Accessibly explaining how surveillance works, and why it matters, only gets more challenging the deeper you dig into the NSA trove. At the Guardian, it consumed exhausting months’ worth of background reporting, verification …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

This Is Your Brain on Money: Why America’s Rich Think Differently Than the Rest of Us

October 11, 2014 in Blogs

By Sean McElwee, Salon

Nobody's perfect. But only the rich get away with thinking that their luck and their flaws are actually strengths.


The Internet is replete with apologias for the rich. They are thinly sourced and even less well thought. The goal is simple: to justify the unjustifiable chasm between the rich and poor, globally and within our nation. But the irony is that, rather than being better than the rest of us, in many ways the rich are worse.

Paul Piff and his co-authors, who have done extended research on the behaviors of the wealthy, find that lower class individuals are more generous, charitable, trusting and helpful than upper class individuals. In another study, they find individuals with expensive cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and pedestrians. Further, in laboratory experiments, wealthy participants were more likely to take valued goods, cheat, lie and endorse such behavior. These studies have support from other sources. For instance, the wealthy actually donate less to charity as a share of their income than the middle class. Their giving is more dependent on the economic climate than the middle class. It is unsurprising that Christ warned, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

The rich tend to behave badly, but their bad behaviors are often socially accepted; a behavior that would be seen as inappropriate by a poor person is seen as a minor offense by the rich. (See: casual drug use.) The reason is simple: in a society that worships wealth, those with wealth are worshipped as well. A young economist wrote in 1844,

“The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers… I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

A Sensible Central Banker?

October 11, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

With all the lunacy coming from the world’s central bankers since, well, ever, it’s refreshing to hear something (anything!) sensible coming from one of them finally. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz’s recent announcement that the BoC would stop using forward guidance included all sorts of encouraging tidbits.

Canada’s central bank needs to communicate with “full transparency” the risks that it is weighing because, according to Poloz, this “causes the market to assess new information more or less the way as the central bank does.” In effect, he wants the BoC to stop trying to trick investors to get them to do things they otherwise wouldn’t.

Poloz is also concerned not just with the risks lurking around the dark corners of the economy, but the uncertainties no will see coming.

As economists and policy makers, we know that uncertainty is everywhere and that it has worsened in the aftermath of the global financial crisis…. I believe that the sort of uncertainty we are dealing with today is more profound than that which is typically subjected to rigorous analysis – that it simply does not lend itself as easily to either mathematical or empirical analysis, or any real sort of formalization.

Of course, the BoC leaves unchanged its commitment to low interest rates, but it’s heartening to see some recognition of the risks involved with this policy.

(Cross posted at Mises Canada.)

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Obama Climate Policies That Will Hurt the Poor

October 11, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

ShellMartinez-refi

Shawn Ritenour writes in The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:

In anticipation of this week’s United Nations Climate Summit, tens of thousands of activists stormed Manhattan in what organizers dubbed “The Peoples Climate March.”

Organized by environmentalist, labor, and self-styled social justice groups, marchers demanded “climate justice now,” even observing a minute of silence to recognize those most affected by climate change.

They should have taken a moment to pray for the world’s poor, too. Because the policies they demand would devastate hundreds of millions of lives worldwide.

That’s the conclusion of a new report published by the Cornwall Alliance, A Call to Truth, and co-signed by 150 evangelical leaders, pastors, economists, scientists, and others, including myself.

We analyzed how environmental legislation and regulations—like the ones called for by President Obama at the U.N.—reduce the standard of living for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest citizens.

Mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are among the most common demands of climate activists.

By cutting these emissions across the board, the argument goes, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower global temperatures. This supposedly will save the earth by healing her atmosphere and calming her seas.

What this argument does not include, however, is the effect such draconian cuts will have on electricity prices.

By effectively prohibiting the cheapest and most abundant sources of energy—i.e., fossil fuels—government-imposed cuts to carbon dioxide emissions necessarily cause electricity bills to skyrocket. Forcing millions of people who can’t even afford food for dinner to pay more for electricity is far from social “justice.”

Read the whole article. 

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

Avatar of admin

by admin

Mises Weekends: Claudio Grass Explains The Upcoming Swiss Gold Referendum

October 11, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Jeff Deist and Claudio Grass discuss the uniquely Swiss mindset behind the upcoming Swiss gold referendum, and how decentralization of political power is part of Swiss DNA; the tremendous geopolitical aftershocks that would occur if the referendum passes — including the physical repatriation of gold to Switzerland; and how the Swiss people may be waking up to the sellout of their country by the Swiss National Bank and the IMF.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE