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A Worker-Owned Cooperative Is Revitalizing Jackson, Mississippi

January 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Paul Sliker, Dante Dallavalle, and Mike Palmier, Democracy at Work

A dynamic yet under-documented experiment in radical social transformation taking place in the United States.


Left Out, a podcast produced by Paul Sliker, Michael Palmieri, and Dante Dallavalle, creates in-depth conversations with the most interesting political thinkers, heterodox economists, and organizers on the Left.

In this episode, we sat down with Kali Akuno — the co-founder and co-directer of Cooperation Jackson. We discuss the emerging network of worker-owned cooperatives and the people behind it building an alternative, solidarity-based economy inside the majority-black and impoverished city of Jackson, Mississippi.

In Jackson Rising, Akuno helps chronicle the history, present and future of one of the most dynamic yet under-documented experiments in radical social transformation taking place in the United States. The book follows the surprising story of the city’s newly elected Mayor, Choke Antara Lumumba, whose vision is to “encourage the development of cooperative businesses” and make Jackson the “most radical city on the planet.”

In the first part of the interview, we ask Akuno about the ongoing organizing and institution building of the black, working-class political forces concentrated in Jackson dedicated to advancing the “Jackson-Kush Plan.”

We then diver deeper into the different types of worker-owned cooperatives that makeup Cooperation Jackson; the importance of developing cooperatives with clear political aims; and the need for a nationwide network of cooperatives and solidarity economic institutions as a viable alternative to the exploitative nature of our current economic, social, and environmental relations.

Cooperation Jackson is one of the most important stories for those of us struggling for social justice, for human emancipation and self-determination, and for a solidarity economics as a base for working class political struggle and the fight against the systematic economic strangulation.

Pick up a copy of Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi

***  Please donate to Left Out on Patreon to receive exclusive content and access to engaging with our future guests. We depend on your support to keep this show alive: https://www.patreon.com/leftout  ***

 

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Trump Is Determined to Provoke War to Draw Focus from Racist and Erratic Behavior

January 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now!

Every wannabe dictator needs an emergency to cement his power.


The New York Times reports that the Pentagon is proposing widening the permissible use of nuclear weapons to include responding to cyberattacks and other non-nuclear attacks to U.S. infrastructure. The Pentagon has already outlined this expanded nuclear strategy in a draft document sent to President Trump for approval. It comes amid a series of moves by the Pentagon and President Trump that have escalated the threat of nuclear war. The Wall Street Journal reports the Pentagon is planning to develop two new sea-based nuclear weapons. The New York Times also reports the Pentagon is conducting a series of war games to prepare for a potential war with North Korea. We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, who has been covering Donald Trump for nearly 30 years. His latest book is just out, titled “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Uninformed. That was the word White House Chief of Staff John Kelly used to describe his boss, President Trump, on Thursday. According to The Washington Post, Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that some of Trump’s hardline immigration policies, including his call to build a wall along the entire southern border, were “uninformed.” Kelly said, quote, “Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed.” During the same meeting, Kelly reportedly said, quote, “The president is committed to a permanent solution to DACA,” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

But the president has struck a different tone. On Twitter this morning [January 18], Trump wrote, quote, “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.” In an interview with Reuters, Trump also criticized a proposed bipartisan deal on immigration and border security as, quote, “horrible” and, quote, “very, very weak.” This comes as the government could shut down on Friday if a funding deal cannot be reached.

AMY GOODMAN: The possible government shutdown comes as President Trump is …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Is Determined to Provoke War to Draw Focus from Racist & Erratic Behavior

January 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now!

Every wannabe dictator needs an emergency to cement their power, and Trump is determined to create his own.


The New York Times reports that the Pentagon is proposing widening the permissible use of nuclear weapons to include responding to cyberattacks and other non-nuclear attacks to U.S. infrastructure. The Pentagon has already outlined this expanded nuclear strategy in a draft document sent to President Trump for approval. It comes amid a series of moves by the Pentagon and President Trump that have escalated the threat of nuclear war. The Wall Street Journal reports the Pentagon is planning to develop two new sea-based nuclear weapons. The New York Times also reports the Pentagon is conducting a series of war games to prepare for a potential war with North Korea. We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, who has been covering Donald Trump for nearly 30 years. His latest book is just out, titled “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Uninformed. That was the word White House Chief of Staff John Kelly used to describe his boss, President Trump, on Thursday. According to The Washington Post, Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that some of Trump’s hardline immigration policies, including his call to build a wall along the entire southern border, were “uninformed.” Kelly said, quote, “Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed.” During the same meeting, Kelly reportedly said, quote, “The president is committed to a permanent solution to DACA,” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

But the president has struck a different tone. On Twitter this morning [January 18], Trump wrote, quote, “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.” In an interview with Reuters, Trump also criticized a proposed bipartisan deal on immigration and border security as, quote, “horrible” and, quote, “very, very weak.” This comes as the government could shut down on Friday if a funding deal cannot be …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What Can Be Done About the Attention Economy's Dark Side? Powerhouse Commission Ponders Reeling In Facebook and Google Before It's Too Late

January 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Big Tech's algorithms have turned billions of device users into addicts whose every whim is tracked and baited.


Everywhere you look, high tech is in somebody’s bullseye. Take Apple. On the inside, top investors are worried about its products’ effects on children. On the outside, liberal activists are grousing about its offshore billions it can now bring home under GOP tax reform. Even usually anti-regulation conservatives at the National Review are asking why Big Tech isn’t regulated like Big Oil or Big Tobacco.

These examples, all recently in the news, confirm the trend but skim the surface. New national polling has found public opinion is shifting from a warm embrace to growing skepticism. It’s not just the way so-called fake news on social media had a role in recent elections in the U.S. and led to congressional inquiries. And it's not just calls for federal anti-trust actions aimed at the most popular information curators, Facebook and Google.

Beyond these dots that attest to a backlash is understanding what’s really going on below the screens and in the minds of Facebook’s 2 billion users and Google-owned YouTube’s 1.5 billion users. There is a new phrase describing this sphere of human activity, the technology behind it and its effects. What’s being called the attention economy is coming under new scrutiny because it's seen as undermining the journalism profession as well as trust in public institutions and democracy.

“We come here in friendship,” said Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library, co-chair of the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy, at Stanford University this week. The panel was created last fall to try to fix the attention economy’s biggest problems, which also include the way Google search and Facebook have demoted the visibility of independent media, under the guise of fighting fake news.

Marx’s comments elicited nervous laughter, because he had just presided over a panel that laid out in vivid and disturbing detail how Silicon Valley’s best minds have created brain-tracking, brain-mimicking and brain-triggering computational formulas. These algorithms have turned billions of digital device users into …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A Dating App’s List of ‘Most Eligible Singles’ in America Looks Like a List of White People

January 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

This doesn't resemble the America we know.


For the past few years, Business Insider has partnered with popular dating app Hinge to publish a list of the “Most Eligible Singles“ in major American cities. Sounds fun, right? But take a good look at this year’s list. You’ll notice a stunning lack of racial and ethnic diversity that seems to ignore the reality of the populations in the cities where these eligible singles live.

Take the New York list as an example. Hinge’s 10 most eligible singles in the city look like this:

Credit: Business Insider/Hinge

Seriously, Hinge? In a city where only 33 percent of residents are white, at least 26 percent are Hispanic, 26 percent are black and 13 percent are Asian, you’d think the list would include a bit more diversity. The list plainly doesn’t reflect the diversity of New York in terms of skin color and background.

There’s limited diversity in sexuality in this list as well. On the New York list, only one person says they’re interested in dating people of the same sex. Not a single person on the roster for San Francisco, a cultural mecca for the LGBTQ community, says they’re interested in a same-sex match.

A full scan of the “Most Eligible” lists for other American cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago, show similar diversity rates: there appear to be no more than one to three non-white people in each list of 10. The list for Atlanta, known to be a beacon of black cultural and political power where only one of the four metro area counties remains majority-white, includes not a single African American.

Credit: Business Insider/Hinge

It’s unclear whether Hinge assembled this list though curation or user-generated data. According to Business Insider spokesperson Mario Ruiz, “the source of the list is Hinge, which compiles its list based on the data they have about their users. Business Insider made no editorial decision about who should make the list. That …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Is America's Alliance with Turkey Worth It?

January 20, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The most basic feature that the United States should expect from
an ally is consistent, reliable behavior that benefits U.S. policy
objectives. Ideally, since America regards itself as a champion of
democracy and freedom, an ally should embody those values as well,
but Washington has never been a stickler for that standard. Indeed,
the United States has a
sordid history
of collaboration with undemocratic, even odious,
regimes when U.S. leaders believed that the relationship was
important to America’s security or economic interests. President
Donald Trump’s fawning over Saudi Arabia is clear evidence
that such a cynical attitude remains intact.

Given Washington’s record, it is not especially surprising that
both the Obama and Trump administrations have maintained close ties
with Turkey, even as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has systematically dismantled his country’s
secular, democratic institutions. It might be embarrassing for
American officials to accept that a fellow member of NATO, an
alliance of professed democratic nations, now is a de facto
dictatorship that routinely imprisons political opponents and
independent journalists. Erdogan’s domestic
outrages, however, do not seem sufficient to alienate American
policymakers. As long as Turkey’s foreign policy did not undermine
Washington’s goals, U.S. leaders were content to look the other way
about such misdeeds. But Ankara’s international conduct now threatens to
eliminate the most fundamental basis for considering Turkey a U.S.
ally.

One prominent area in which American and Turkish objectives
clash sharply is policy toward Kurdish fighters in Syria.
Differences between Washington and Ankara already have produced
unpleasant complications. U.S. leaders regard
the Kurds as useful allies in the fight against ISIS and other
Islamic extremists. Even though ISIS has suffered massive setbacks
in Syria over the past year, Washington still believes that the
group poses a major problem in that country and throughout the
Middle East—so much so that Secretary of Defense James Mattis
insists that U.S. forces will remain in Syria and Iraq regardless of the
wishes of either government. Allowing Turkey to undermine the Kurds
could cause the Islamist threat to rebound.

Rogue external conduct,
combined with the Erdogan regime’s mounting domestic repression,
makes it nearly impossible to justify maintaining the U.S. security
relationship with Ankara, either bilaterally or within
NATO.

Ankara, however, considers thinly disguised Kurdish ambitions
for an independent state in those countries a mortal threat to
Turkey’s own territorial integrity. Turkish forces already have
conducted repeated attacks against Kurdish-held areas in both Iraq
and Syria for several years. More recently, Ankara also intensified
its pressure on Washington to stop arming the Syrian Kurds. With
some reluctance, the Trump administration <a target=_blank …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Second Women's March Draws Huge Anti-Trump Crowds as the Government Shuts Down

January 20, 2018 in Blogs

By April M. Short, AlterNet

Women take to the streets again, empowered by #MeToo and fed up over immigration.


It’s exactly a year since the historic 2017 Women’s March, which brought millions out in protest of Trump’s inauguration, flooding the world’s streets with pink knitted hats. Thousands have taken to the streets again this weekend, empowered by the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and fed up with Trump’s increasingly authoritarian and anti-immigrant policies, war-mongering and tantrum-centric presidency for the Women’s March 2018.

This year’s march arrives just one day after Trump’s attempt to block Planned Parenthood funding, and amid a dramatic government shutdown centering on immigration. The shutdown comes as Democrats and several Republicans refused to accept the border and deportation policies proposed by the Trump administration and GOP in the federal funding bill. It marks the first successful government shutdown under a single party controlled congress, and has become a big theme of the second Women’s March.


From Twitter:

 

 

Hundreds of Women’s March anniversary events are already underway or kicking off this weekend in every U.S. state. You can look up an event in your state and watch a live feed of today’s events on the Women’s March website.

The central organized 2018 Women's March event is a “Power to the Polls,” demonstration in Las Vegas on Sunday, which is focused on mobilizing national voter registration for the upcoming midterm election, which could reshape U.S. politics.

In Chicago, the turnout for the second Women’s March march had already exceeded last year’s numbers by …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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When Government Shuts Down

January 20, 2018 in Economics

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

shutdown.PNG

By: Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.

[Editor's note: As we face another so-called government shutdown, some may recall that we've been down this road before. In this 1996 article, Lew Rockwell explains that government "shutdowns" are neither as unpopular, or as troublesome, as the media and Washington politicians assume.]

According to official history, the 104th Congress doomed itself when it shut down the government to force its budget priorities on the president. People got up in arms and demanded that government be reopened. This taught the people and their representatives a valuable lesson. As much as we may complain, we truly need big government. Today, we all agree with the White House vow to never allow the government to shut down again.

Of course, everything about this story is nonsense. Shutting down the government was this Congress's most noble act. Though the freshmen, who forced the closing against the leadership's wishes, didn't properly prepare for the inevitable response from the media and the bureaucracy, they were on the right track. It may have been the only principled act in two years of political compromise.

Moreover, nobody has produced a shred of evidence that the government shutdown was as unpopular as the media claimed it was. It was asserted daily, but never proven. Oh sure, we heard about how people couldn't get passports, couldn't get into Yellowstone, couldn't see the Vermeer art exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. But what's most startling is that the central government—which consumes 40 percent of the national wealth—wasn't missed much at all.

There was a fiscal illusion at work. At issue was a budget authorization that entitled government to spend money before it was there to spend. But government could have reopened, and run based on present receipts. That way the budget would be immediately balanced. Everyone claims to want pay-as-you-go government, but nobody suggested this as an option. They acted as if debt finance is part of the natural law.

There is still more to learn about government during shutdowns. Consider what is known as the “Washington Monument Ploy.” When budget cuts are threatened, visiting hours at popular monuments are cut back. A budget cut is voted by Congress, or an insufficient increase, and moments later an official-looking official asks the assembled tourists to please disperse. Thanks to those greedy Congressmen, we've been denied essential funds.

The media are there to record every word, and conduct interviews to …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Mises Explains the Difference Between Circulation Credit and Commodity Credit

January 20, 2018 in Economics

By Frank Shostak

lightbulb.PNG

By: Frank Shostak

In the slump of a cycle, businesses that were thriving come to experience difficulties or go under. These errors aren't specific to any one firm. They occur in tandem with whole sectors of the economy. People who were wealthy yesterday have become poor today. Factories that were busy yesterday are shut down today, and workers are out of jobs.

Businessmen themselves are confused as to why. They cannot make sense of why certain business practices that were profitable yesterday are losing money today. Bad business conditions emerge when least expected — just when all businesses are holding the view that a new age of steady and rapid progress has emerged.

In his writings, Ludwig von Mises argued against the prevailing explanation of the business cycle of overproduction and under-consumption theories, and he critically addressed various theories that depended on vague notions of mass psychology and irregular shocks.

In the psychological explanation, an increase in people's confidence regarding future business conditions gives rise to an economic boom. Conversely, a sudden fall in confidence sets in motion business stagnation.

Now, there can be no doubt that during a recession people are less confident about the future than during good times. But to observe this is not to explain it.

Likewise, theories that view various shocks and disruptions as the central cause behind boom-bust cycles do not advance our knowledge regarding the boom-bust cycle phenomenon.

Neither explains how the boom and bust come about, or why they are of a recurrent nature.

To arrive at a correct explanation, Mises held, we need to trace the change in business conditions back to previously established and identified phenomena, and that is precisely what these theories do not do.

Hence Mises concluded that all these theories do not provide an explanation but rather describe the phenomenon in a different way.

Mises also held that various statistical and mathematical methods are another way of describing but not explaining events. Statistical methods make it possible to generate charts of data fluctuations but they do not improve on our knowledge of what causes the fluctuations.

The Circulation-Credit Theory of Business Cycles

Mises made a distinction between credit that is backed by savings, and credit that does not have any backing. The first type of credit he labeled commodity credit. The second he labeled circulation credit. It is circulation credit that plays the key role in setting the boom-bust cycle process.<a target=_blank class="see-footnote" id="footnoteref1_1o6s0y5" title="Ludwig von Mises Human …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Economics Is Like Birdwatching — You Have to Know What to Look For

January 20, 2018 in Economics

By Gary Galles

watcher.PNG

By: Gary Galles

Have you ever been birdwatching? If not, how well do you think you would recognize the birds around you the first time you tried? Even if you were specifically looking for a species present in your area, you might fail to recognize it. The reason is simple. Without additional training, there are many ways to identify birds you are unaware of — you often would not know what to look at or listen for, or where or when to look. An experienced birder might well see what you missed.

Applying economics to public policy is akin to birdwat­ching in this way, except for the fact that few untrained birdwatch­ers presume they have the expertise to “educate” others to their views, while almost everyone seems to assume they have sufficient expertise in economics to pontificate on public poli­cies. This leads to ignor­ance of the predictable, even if unintended, adverse side effects that can turn seemingly helpful economic policies into harmful ones, because people don’t know where or how to look to recognize them, and massive overconfidence in government’s ability to effectively solve societal problems.

At its core, economic analysis reduces to the proposition that “incentives matter.” Changes in the relevant costs or benefits facing decision-makers will alter people’s choices in predictable directions. Higher expected benefits induce people to do more of some­thing, and higher expected costs induce them to do less. And, important­ly, there are almost always more areas in which peoples’ incentives, and thus choices, are changed than those not “expert” in a field realize, resulting in responses to market incentives that are surprisingly (to central planners, if not to economists) large.

The altered choices of one group will also alter the costs and benefits of choices facing others, causing changes in their behavior that illustrate the impossibility of changing just one incentive story via changing policy. Those changes will, in turn, alter others’ incentives and behaviors, in a widening series of effects.

Economists are trained to “look” for all the important incentive changes that will face the affected individuals, and the predictable effects that will result, when analyzing policy changes — effects which untrained policy watchers often miss. If they are well-trained, they should also have learned enough humility about the complexity of social processes to admit that there can be margins of choice they might have overlooked as well, leading to drastic limitations on anyone’s ability …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE