You are browsing the archive for 2014 November 05.

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When Bullies Win: How Do Weary Americans Face the Post-Election Trauma?

November 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

Lessons from the past can help us confront a daunting future.


Most of us did not escape that moment on the playground when the bully came over and demanded our candy. What could we do? The bruising boy and the mean girl used fear and intimidation to get their way. If that didn’t work, there were other methods. Sometimes the bully had powerful friends and came on gangster-style. Other times the mean girl shoved and hit us and left us flailing in the dirt. However it happened, it left wounds.

As a native North Carolinian, I felt some memory of those early wounds creeping into my body as I watched the election returns come in. After an ugly, protracted fight sucking up more money than any senate race in the country, Republican Thom Tillis, the speaker of the rabid North Carolina House of Representatives, beat incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan by a slim margin. He will now take his bare-knuckles brand of politics to Washington.

A consummate bully, Tillis is the kind of man who allegedly shot paintballs at his neighbor’s barn. He bullies teachers, accusing them of choosing their profession in order to get rich, despite the fact that NC ranks close to the bottom of the country in teacher pay.  He bullies people struggling to get by, backing a mean-spirited proposal to force those on public assistance to submit to drug testing. “What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance,” he once told a crowd at a NC college. He bullies women who try to terminate their pregnancies safely and has promoted measures to force them to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds. He bullies African Americans, suggesting that public assistance is “de facto reparations” for slavery. He bullies people away from the polls, trying to ensure that they have no redress for their grievances. Schoolchildren, immigrants, gay people, sick people, and the elderly have all been victims of his relentless aggression. Tillis is a bully, and he knows how to get his way.

He was just one of a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Enjoy It While It Lasts! The GOP's Base Is Still White and Aging

November 5, 2014 in Blogs

By William H. Frey, Salon

Yes, Democrats got hammered yesterday. But the demographics are undeniable, and the GOP's base still has no future.


Democrats got hammered Tuesday’s election. The conventional wisdom is that this was a referendum on President Obama and a repudiation of his policies.

Yet, to many, especially older white Americans, this election had a deeper meaning. It signaled a return to normal in a broader sense, and a repudiation of a younger more progressive America and, yes, one more racially diverse. To them, the Obama years are seen as a temporary blip as the nation begins to revert back to more familiar political and cultural terrain.

Still, to most Democratic operatives, the Obama years are hardly an aberration, even after Tuesday. They have long seen the Obama presidency as a sea change in American politics, where growing minority populations will lead to a future of Democratic dominance.

Neither view is entirely correct for the near term, which will witness see-saw elections between older whites and mostly younger minorities.  On Tuesday, as in earlier midterm elections, whites and those over age 45 numerically overwhelmed voters nationwide.   This contrasts with past two presidential elections, especially 2012, when the raw power of our growing racial minorities in their enthusiastic Democratic support elected the first nonwhite president.

Longer term, the nation’s minority-driven demographic transformation will make as big a mark in the first half of this century, as did the post-war baby boom in the second half of the last.   New racial minorities—Hispanics, Asians and multiracial Americans—will more than double their populations in the next 40 years. Already these new minorities, as well as other non-white groups, account for over 90 percent of U.S. population growth.

The second part of this transformation, largely unappreciated, is the tepid growth of the nation’s aging white population which in just 10 years will begin to decline in size.  White decline has already begun among younger Americans, as the rest of the white population ages.

As this is happening, young racial minorities are filling in the ranks of children, young adults and, in the not too distant future, middle-aged citizens—and voters. Already minority children …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Will Democrats Try To Kill The Party's Progressive Wing To Regain Power?

November 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

The GOP went after its more principled wing. Will Democrats follow?


Here’s the question nobody on the left wants to ask: are progressive Democrats poised to go the way of Republican Tea Partiers? That is, exiled to the margins and ignored as the party's centrists seek to regain power?

The front pages of America’s most influential newspapers are touting that the Republican Party’s biggest lesson this year was they realized they had to “crush the enemy,” as The Times put it, “not Democrats but the rebels within their own party.” And so they did.

Is that what is coming in Democratic Party circles? A resurgence of the so-called Third Way and Fix The Debt types whose values are more aligned with Wall Street than Main Street? You might hope not, but with the Clintons at the helm as the party soul-searches and looks toward 2016, it’s not so far-fetched, even though Clinton-style centrists lost on Tuesday. Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor is one example.   

Though leading progressives are privately writing, “Good riddance to GOP-lite pols” on listserves, take a hard look at what progressives accomplished in 2014. If you want to be honest, when it came to candidates—not ballot initiatives—they got clobbered. There’s no reason that the corporate centrists who dream of reviving Clintonian good times will be looking left, despite the popularity of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Almost all congressional candidates running as working-class Democrats lost this year—most not even winning their primaries. They touted economic messages that progressives know are true—that the nation has growing class divides, worsening inequality, job stagnation and increasingly inadequate safety nets—including Social Security, whose average monthly retirement benefit is akin to a minimum wage job after a lifetime of work.   

Everybody knows the political system serves the wealthy, is dominated by a flood of anonymous large donors and needs to be rebalanced. Yet on the anti-corruption front, Larry Lessig’s vaunted multi-million dollar reform effort, the MayDay super PAC, also failed to elect most of its candidates who pledged to push reforms in Congress. Just before the Election …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Can Democracy and Fossil Fuel Extraction Coexist?

November 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Carl Pope, EcoWatch

Fossil fuels aren't just dirty energy. They're the justification for dirty politics.


When the Western Energy Alliance in June invited K-Street mugger Richard Berman to advise them on how to deal with public opposition to oil and gas extraction, Berman’s back-alley style can hardly have surprised those who invited him. His tactics and viciousness have been broadly reported in the media, and blasted even by his own son. CBS’s 60 Minutes called him Dr. Evil.

Berman summed up his philosophy by telling the industry you can either “win ugly or lose pretty.” Winning ugly includes tactics like digging up personal dirt about your opponents, discussing “how he had done detailed research on the personal histories of members of the boards of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to try to find information that could be used to embarrass them.” (As far as I can tell, Berman is either inept at this tactic or environmental board members are stunningly virtuous people, because there is no public record of any serious embarrassment resulting.)

What may have surprised Berman, however, was that someone in the audience not only recorded his remarks but was sufficiently appalled to leak them, so you can read it all in its ugliness. Anadarko Petroleum, to its credit, has distanced itself from Berman, saying “Anadarko did not support Mr. Berman’s approach and did not to participate in his work because it does not align with our values.” Unfortunately, it appears that Berman may still have raised $3 million from other oil and gas companies for his latest endeavor, “Big Green Radicals.”

But Richard Berman was not the only poster child last week for the tardy realization that fossil fuel extraction and democracy are a poor fit. And oil is not the only villain. In Kentucky, a coal mine operator who is also a member of the legislature, Rep. Keith Hall, was indicted in U.S. District Court for bribing a mine inspector to ignore safety violations at Hall’s surface mining operations. Hall is charged with paying the inspector $46,343 over eighteen months to ignore repeated environmental and safety violations, but at some point …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Gordon Tullock, RIP

November 5, 2014 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Best known as the coauthor of The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (with Nobel Laureate James Buchanan) and the founding and long time editor of the journal Public Choice, Gordon Tullock died November 3rd at the age of 92.

Tullock was a revolutionary thinker who pushed economic analysis into the study of such things as bureaucracy, voting, non-human societies, and anarchy. Trained as a lawyer, with no formal economic training, Tullock entered the Foreign Service when he happened to read Ludwig von Mises’s recently published Human Action: A Treatise on Economics. Tullock credited Mises for the methodological foundations he used to pursue his wide-ranging research agenda.

In 1956 Tullock was hired by the Hoover Institution and in 1958 was hired by James Buchanan to work with him at the University of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Center. Buchanan and Tullock moved first to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and then to George Mason University. Tullock was widely considered as a candidate for a Nobel Prize in economics for his contributions of establishing public choice theory and the study of rent seeking behavior.

One reason often given for his failure to win the Prize was his irascible demeanor—Tullock did not suffer fools gladly. Even if the fool was a tenured full professor or the Dean of the College!

The first paper I presented at a professional conference was “Ballot Access Requirements as a Barrier to Entry.” I gave my presentation at the Southern Economic Association conference in a small session on Public Choice. As I began to speak, Tullock walked in and took a seat in the first row directly in front of my podium. When I began to list some of the innovations of third parties in American history (i.e. alcohol prohibition, the minimum wage, social security, women’s suffrage…) Tullock waved his hand in the air. No so much to ask permission, but in disgust. He blurted out “I’m against all that!” You could have heard a pin drop. As all eyes turned to me, I responded “I am too, but that is not the point.” After that we were and remained friends.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Socialism and Other Crimes in Venezuela

November 5, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

venezuela

Mises Daily Wednesday by Ben Wiegold:

Venezuela is one of the most economically unfree countries in the world, and it has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Unfortunately, President Maduro thinks he can fix the problem by making the country even less free than it is now.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Deficit Spending Is the Government’s Perfect Weapon

November 5, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

dollar2

Mises Daily Wednesday by Garet Garrett:

“A perpetual and unlimited debt represents deficit spending as a social principle. It means a progressive redistribution of wealth by will of government until there is no more fat to divide; after that comes a level rationing of the national income.”

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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5 Victories From the Midterm Elections That Progressives Should Cheer

November 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

It's not all bad news!


As Republicans have now effectively won control of the U.S. Senate, many progressives are in despair about the far-right agenda the party is likely to push. But the news isn't all bad. Here are five victories progressives scored yesterday that we should all cheer:

1.Marijuana Legalization: Marijuana legalization won big yesterday in both traditional red states and blue states, signaling a shift by voters against the drug war. Oregon, Alaska and D.C. voters outright legalized marijuana possession, with Oregon and Alaska also legalizing its production.

2. Increasing the Minimum Wage: Again, in both blue states and red states, ballot referendums raising the minimum wage passed overwhelmingly. Arkansas, South Dakota, Alaska, and Nebraska all raised their minimum wages. San Francisco, Oakland and other cities raised their local minimum wages, with San Francisco raising it all the way to $15 an hour.

3. Scott Brown Stays Out Of Office: After losing to Elizabeth Warren, former Republican Senator Scott Brown thought he could return to office by moving one state over and running from New Hampshire. He narrowly lost.

4. Voters Expanded Paid Sick Days: From Massachussetts, which approved paid sick days statewide to Oakland, California and Trenton, New Jersey, voters passed a whole host of measures designed to make sure workers who are sick are not forced to choose between their health and a paycheck.

5. Progressive Lawmakers Retain Their Seats: Although some of the Democrats' most conservative members, such as Rep. John Barrow (GA), lost their seats, a number of progressive lawmakers such as Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) beat back opponents and retained their seats. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN), one of only five members of Congress to attend a hearing with Pakistani drone victims, survived a $14 million race to edge out a victory.

There's a lot to be depressed about with respect to Election 2014—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is scarier than just about any of last week's Halloween costumes—but we should keep in mind that smart and tireless progressive organizing made the above victories possible, and will continue to do so in the future.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why I Can’t Wait To Be a Fat Bride

November 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Lindy West, The Guardian

I grew up believing marriage was only for thin women. But what I needed to hear was that you can be fat and happy and in love.


A few weeks back I was sitting at a bar, holding hands with my fiance, when a woman recognized me from the Internet. She was a fan of my writing, so she came up to introduce herself, and we shambled through a few minutes of pleasant chit-chat. Sensing the conversation was running out of steam, she asked me one of the questions people always ask me in those awkward, floundering moments: “So, what’s it like to work from home? Aren’t you lonely?”

“Not really,” I said. I gestured to my fiance, a musician. “He works from home, too. It’s hard to feel alone when there’s a guy constantly playing the trumpet in your face.”

She laughed and turned to him. “So, you two are roommates?”

Sigh.

Yes, lady. We are platonic adult roommates who hold hands at bars. This is, clearly, the only logical explanation. Actually, since you asked, I recently sustained a pulsing gash to the palm and he’s just holding the wound closed until paramedics arrive. Also, every night before bed, a rattlesnake bites me on the mouth and he has to suck out the poison. It’s the weirdest thing. We should probably move.

I wasn’t surprised that this woman took so many wilfull leaps past “couple” and landed on “roommates” in her split-second sussing-out of our relationship – it happens all the time. But it was a disheartening reminder of an assumption that has circumscribed my life: couples ought to “match.” My partner and I do not. He is thin and I am fat. He is conventionally desirable and I am a “before” picture in an ad for weight-loss tapeworm eggs. It is considered highly unlikely – borderline inconceivable – that he would choose to be with me in a culture where men are urged to perpetually upgrade to the hottest woman within reach, not only for their own supposed gratification but also to impress and compete with other men. It is women’s job to be decorative (within …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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On Money: Measure for Measure

November 5, 2014 in Economics

By David Gordon

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Dr. Marc Miles, a noted monetary economist, has now joined Mr. John Tamny in criticism of my review of Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames’s book Money. These authors write from a shared viewpoint, and I shall endeavor here to respond to both.

In trying to understand my critics, I was puzzled. Forbes and Ames asserted, and I denied, that money measures value. It did not surprise me that Tamny and Miles agree with Forbes and Ames. What puzzled me was that Tamny and Miles not only think I am wrong, but think that I am obviously wrong. I deny, they believe, something that is evident on its face.

Asking what this obvious truth is supposed to be enables one to grasp better what Forbes and his defenders have in mind, and for helping to make this clear I owe a debt to my critics. Their principal contention may be put in this way: Money has no value in itself.  The purpose of money is to facilitate exchange. It is a way station through which we pass when we wish to exchange what we produce for what we want to consume. The “real” action in the economy is the exchange of goods and services for other goods and services. A nation becomes wealthy by producing more goods and services, not by issuing more monetary tickets.

Given these facts, how do we decide what is the appropriate number of monetary tickets for an economy? Here Tamny and Miles appeal to the supposed fact that money is a measure of value.  What do they mean by this? I suggest that what they have in mind is no more than the commonplace that you can compare one price with another. If a loaf of bread costs $3.00 and a candy bar $1.50, then a loaf of bread costs twice as much as candy bar. When they talk about “value”, I think they wish to refer to goods that are wanted rather than the subjective preferences people have for these goods. It is for this reason that Austrian appeals to subjective utility leave them unmoved. They have no interest in the subjective theory of value.  All they mean when they say money measures value is that you can use prices in economic calculation.  “Measurement” is a singularly inapt term for what they want to say, but this is what they mean by it. [1]

The trouble with …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE