Monday, June 27, 2011

The Embrace of Selfishness

On June 7th I commented on the quesy unease some Christians were feeling about the Republican party's embrace of Ayn Rand's cult of selfishness. Dave Johnson has more on this at Concern Over Republican Embrace of The Ayn Rand Poison.

As Johnson writes:
Disciples of Ayn Rand's philosophy of selfishness now dominate the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. There is no way around it. Republican budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan says Rand is his guide. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) says Rand's Atlas Shrugged is his "foundation book." Senator Rand Paul is named after her (or not). Clarence Thomas requires his law clerks to watch The Fountainhead. Fox News promotes Rand. Conservative blogs promote Rand. Glenn Beck has been promoting Rand for years. So has Rush. This isn't recent, Alan Greenspan lived with the Rand cult and promoted and implemented her ideas.
Johnson goes on to quote Rand, suggesting, with good reason, that she sounds like a psychopath. If you are wondering, check this out. And here too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Texas Miracle, My Ass

So what is it with Republican voters and swaggering Texan Governors? The last one should have been a warning. Rick Perry is said to be considering a run for President. His supporters seem to think his record as TX Governor is something to run on.

Here's Rachel Maddow taking down Perry (starts at about the 8:30 mark). Among the highlights:
   --Wages have been nearly flat since 12/07, lagging behind NY, CA, and the national average.
  --TX has a higher percentage of workers earning minimum wages than any other state.
  --The median hourly wage in TX is $11.20. Yikes! Even if one assumes a year-long, full-time workweek, that is barely $23,000. And that is the median: many are earning significantly less.
  --TX has the highest percentage of citizens without healthcare in the country, currently over 25%.

Near the end of the clip, Maddow reviews Perry's amazing hypocrisy when he railed against Washington's irresponsible stimulus, but quietly took $billions that shored up 97% of the TX budget shortfall.

She might have added an item that Perry's cheerleaders, and most of us, ignore. Texas has a huge advantage over most states, it has nothing to do with Perry, and it can be stated in three words: oil and gas. That advantage is a fortuitous accident of nature.

Joshua Holland also provides a withering analysis of the so-called "Texas Miracle." Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The US Could Really Use a Third Party

Here is Cenk Uygur laying into a Representative Earl Blumenauer, who, as a member of the Progressive Caucus, is supposed to fight for the middle class against the Republican efforts to turn over even more of the economy to Wall Street.

But even Blumenauer acts like he gets his talking points from Paul Ryan. What the hell is wrong with Democrats when they say that raising the retirement age for social security is negotiable?

This is not specifically about the retirement age; that issue alone is not a cure-all, and it isn't the end of the world either. The huge problem in all of this is that Republicans have set the parameters and they have got at least some feckless Dems, including Blumenauer, to negotiate within those parameters. The result is that every piece of budget-related legislation that has come from the House has involved funding cuts for America's poor, its children, its elderly, the dispossesed, and the working class, or it involves tax cuts, and deregulation for the investor class.

What Blumenauer needs to say is that it is ridiculous to even be discussing a raise in the retirement age for social security in the first place. Instead of shit about people living longer, he should be hammering home the fact that even in this slow economy, SS is once again running a surplus, a fact that completely undermines scare talk about "fixing" it.

Social security was able to run up a $2.6 trillion surplus thanks to tweaks made in the early 1980s (under Reagan!). The problem is not with social security, which has worked extremely well; the problem is that politcians "borrowed" that surplus and blew it on other programs, wars, and tax cuts for the wealthy. And now they do not want to pay it back. Republicans want you to think that SS is a huge drain on the federal budget. They are lying through their goddamn teeth.

So why can't guys like Blumenauer make these points? Dems are not fighting back on issues like social security, which should be easy to defend. It's a freakin slam dunk as far as the facts are concerned. 

Cenk hammered him for it, and Cenk was absolutely right.

hat tip to

Friday, June 17, 2011

Robert Reich: The Truth About the Economy

Robert Reich, telling it like it is.

He forgot one last point; none of this shit started with Obama.

Monday, June 13, 2011

US Corporate Model is Dysfunctional

Below is a video interview of political columnist Harold Meyerson. He addresses a topic that should be front page news everywhere, but isn't. He talks of America's dysfunctional corporate model and its negative impact on the economy.

In my view, and it is a subject I want to discuss more later, Meyerson correctly describes the US economic model as an obsession about the microeconomic needs and interests of corporations and shareholders, and not to the needs of communities, workers, or the broader interests of the nation.

Note Meyerson's references to Germany, which has a huge trade surplus, based on manufactures, and substantially higher wages and benefits than in America. Though he did not say it, Germany's per capita exports are about four times higher than America's. This in an a country where union membership is much higher and manufacturers are not given free rein to offshore production to cheap labor havens. This is a recipe for disaster, according to the Neo-Cons, Neo-Liberals, Wall Street, the right wing, virtually all Republicans, ideologues, and the endless stream of bloviating media shills.

I give them credit; they know how to protect their interests and get voters to care more about somebody's home makeover, scary brown people, or Wiener's wiener.  

It's a shame, really. Our politicians fight fiercely to protect US corporate interests, the corporate model, and the overclass that feeds off it. They talk to us of liberty, freedom to choose, and the horrors of industrial policy and government interference, even as they bail out Wall Street and subsidize Big Oil.

In return, their pockets are filled with cash to buy the next election.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Christians Getting Quesy Over Rand?

Christians may be starting to finally figure out what secular progressives have known all along: the Republican party is all about moneyed interests, on Wall Street and elsewhere. Many liberal Christians have known this, of course, but I am talking about the 'warriors for God', the 'onward Christian soldiers', and the 'Christian nation' crowd. If they were to give their brains a chance, they would see the party they vote for engages in blatant class warfare. Forget about feeding the poor. It's all about justifying greed and the worship of mammon, exactly what Jesus preached against. Their prophet is Ayn Rand and the bible the Money Party and their Wall Street benefactors promote is Atlas Shrugged.

This devotion to Ayn Rand is understandable if your name is Gordon Gecko, but should be tough to reconcile for all but the neo-fascist wing of the Christian church. I suspect, however, that most of the religious right are not very familiar with Ayn Rand. Perhaps they have heard some superficial characterizations about personal responsibility, the evils of high taxes and the welfare state. I suppose that is enough if you are hopelessly invested in the Republican party, have libertarian tendencies, and consider Sean Hannity's drivel to be deep analysis.

Most are surely not familiar with Rand's perverse sense of morality, her unbridled selfishness, and most importantly for the religious right, her disdain for religion and the teachings most closely associated with Jesus. And now we are seeing Republicans politicians come out and sing praises for that repulsive woman.

So how can voters who take their religion seriously tolerate not only her anti-religious views, but more importantly, the politicians who have publicly embraced her destructive doctrine?

Some are now beginning to speak out. Time's Amy Sullivan has a piece detailing how some traditional supporters of the Republican party are finally asking for some explanations from the politicians who got their vote. Much of their ire is directed at Congressman Paul Ryan, who led the right-wing effort to dismantle Medicare.

As Sullivan says:
These days, when people question a politician’s “morality,” they usually mean his or her personal behavior and choices. But an interesting thing is happening right now around the GOP budget proposal. A broad coalition of religious voices is criticizing the morality of the choices reflected in budget cuts and tax policy. And they’ve specifically targeted Ryan and his praise for Rand, the philosopher who once said she “promote[d] the ethic of selfishness.”
A religious group calling itself the American Values Network has put up a video detailing their dismay at the Randian obsession of Paul Ryan and others.

Amy Sullivan calls this religious pushback against Randian ruthlessness "wholly unanticipated."

I call it long overdue.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Less Wall Street, More Main Street

I want to share a post by airmechild who captures much of what is wrong with the American economic model. I quote at length:
There is a show on one of the major networks, ABC I think, called the Shark Tank. Basically the show is about entrepreneurs looking for investment capital to start or expand their business. They pitch their ideas to a group of likely investors hopping to get at least one of them to invest money in their business.

In one show a business woman asked for an investment to expand her line of shoes into the next lower class of stores. Her shoes sold well in very upscale boutiques and she wanted to sell in stores like Nordstrom’s and Macys. All of which would require expanding her manufacturing and distribution base.

One of the “sharks” asked where she had her shoes manufactured. She replied Florida and Mass. His response was that she should moved it (manufacturing) to China. The show includes several minutes of bantering between investors and the client until a deal is reached. After all “you have to respect the money.” One of the investors will say during the deal making processes.

Simply, it’s all about the money. Wall Street, the unofficial indicator of “profitability” of Americas companies, has dictated it to be so. Over and over since Reagan came along we have heard the mantra “Wall Street says…” or “the Street…” as the gospel of business or the economy.

Remember this, if you learn nothing more about economics, Wall Street does not represent the American worker, businessman or America. It only represents the greed of the investors. In recent years many a business decision, work force cuts or outsourcing was made simply at the behest of Wall Street. Not one of these decisions bettered America, the economy or a worker (blue or white color.)

It has had just the opposite effect. Wall Street made pitting a company and its tax structure against communities and states for “competitive” tax rates. Another moniker for improved wealth to the investors. The next step was to pit American workers against Foreign workers. After all according to the “Street” our wages are to high.
So the contestant should move production to China? That's our investor class talking; if it can juice up profit margins, they are all for it. Lost jobs? Not my problem.

This infatuation with giving what the investor class wants is seriously undermining this country. They have convinced themselves, and apparently many others, that individual greed is all we need and the less one cares about others, the better off we will be. It is all about me and my profits. Labor is just an abstract, a necessity. The lower management can lower labor costs, the better investors like it.  

No wonder other countries are doing better than the US. Germans, for example, are in utter disbelief and think we are insane

Hat tip to airmechild. There is more at the original.