What Happened to Worcester?

The New York Times Magazine has the article What Happened to Worcester?  This is a very interesting story woven around the history of one family in Worcester to demonstrate the social and economic history of this country. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article that exemplify the range that this story covers.

But long gone are the days when Worcester’s plants offered a decent job to just about anybody willing to put in a hard day’s work. New employees looking to join the middle class must have not just a high-school diploma but an associate degree, if not a bachelor’s degree.

For all its decline in the second half of the 20th century, Worcester did enjoy one bit of good fortune: In the 1960s, the University of Massachusetts placed its medical school in the city. The school, which continued to grow, brought several generations’ worth of high-paying medical jobs and a fair number of lower-paying support positions. Similarly, Worcester’s position close to the center of New England has been good for the transportation business. Many of my relatives who stayed in town have worked either in the medical center as nurses or in the transportation field as truck drivers, dispatchers, rail-yard inspectors. These are solid, stable jobs, but they don’t enable the kind of jump-up in socioeconomic status that my family experienced many decades ago.

Now that we live much closer to Worcester than we’d ever had before and I’ve established some ties with people there, I can appreciate this story more.


Why Have We Forgotten How To Get The Economy Going Again?

New Economic Perspectives has the article False Choice or Real Possibilities.  The article gives the historical record that leads up to the ultimate question.

Given the overall results of the U.S. experience with dramatic, targeted efforts of sovereign spending in World War II, given the proof that the federal government and central bank have the means to effectively manage and maintain the value of the U.S. currency in spite of massive expenditures of government fiat money, given the fact we know, from experience, all this can be done without “nationalizing” the economy—and that, in fact, the doing of it, if properly managed, will produce an unprecedented expansion of private innovation, investment, business creation, and employment opportunities for American citizens—given that we historically know all of this, why should we not feel comfortable to undertake, once again, substantial sovereign spending programs to achieve critical collective objectives? And if, indeed, we should do that, why don’t we?

There is only one candidate now running for President who has the breadth of vision to imagine asking this question.  He has hired the right economic advisers to give him the logical answer.  Are we all smart enough to vote for that candidate, or are we willing to live with the false choices the other candidates all present?

Who knows when a candidate will come around again to offer us the choice that Bernie Sanders is offering?  It may occur in my lifetime, or it may not.  Part of my success in life is not so much that I was just lucky.  At least part of it was that when opportunity came knocking, I was in a position to open that door to the call.  Is our country ready to open the door to a better future?


Who Has The Real Worldview?   Recently updated !

What’s wrong with this video that I received in the following email?

Subject:  FW: Who has the real worldview?
Date:  Mon, 2 May 2016 00:52:40 -0400
From: 
To: 

Subject:Who has the real worldview?

This is the Israel that many the fanatic Muslims want to destroy.

Watch this 3 1/2 minute video and I promise you’ll be glad you did. Then send it as far and wide as you can. Help spread the story of who Israel is. Remember when Hurricane Sandy hit NY? Israel was the only country to send aid!

https://player.vimeo.com/video/154464174


My response to this email was the following:

How many good deeds does it take to make up for taking people’s homes, cutting off their water, strangling their economy, and applying massive group punishment for any resistance? I was raised to abhor the group punishment meted out by the Germans in WWII against the people in the occupied countries because of the acts of their resistance fighters.

Do all the US’s good deeds make up for the coups we have fomented? Does it make up for the genocide we committed against the native Americans at the birth of our country and on-going? Does it make up for the Iraqis and Libyans and Syrians that have been killed because we wanted to spread democracy in the middle east?

On the other hand, do you have good feelings for all the humanitarian aid that Cuba has given out around the world?

Do you have any capability to see things as your adversaries might see them, and stop to think that maybe you can’t make up for acts of inhumanity by a few acts of humanity?

How many murderers get off because they can point to all the billions of people that they did not murder? In the eyes of our laws one act of murder wipes out all the good acts you have done.

/Steve


Florida Open Debate Live

YouTube has the TYT – Florida Open Debate.

The first ever bi-partisan Open Debate for U.S. Senate in Florida between Alan Grayson and Rep. David Jolly.

 

This is another way to hold a debate. This is not a Presidential debate, but it could be a model for one. I am not sure what I think about it. What do you think?

The fact that Alan Grayson is running for the Senate in the Democratic primary and David Jolly is running for the Senate in the Republican primary adds an unusual twist to the debate that is more than just a format change. They aren’t actually challengers of each other in the next contest facing either one of them. They will only be direct opponents if they both win their primaries against other people who are not in the debate.


A Simple “Trade” Solution to Boost Workers Across the Planet

Naked Capitalism has the article A Simple “Trade” Solution to Boost Workers Across the Planet.

But the reason Third World workers get such a large share of jobs is because their wages are low. Third World countries export so much of what they produce because their workers cannot afford to buy these goods themselves. Handicapping them will only drive their wages lower, making them even more attractive to foreign corporations.

Is which group of workers to hurt, the only choice? Is there no trade policy that can help all workers at the same time? There is.

Remember that this is just one part of the solution. Don’t get hung up on thinking this is THE silver bullet that will fix everything instantly. However, when you hear representatives of the oligarchs tell you that we must protect “our” “intellectual property” from the foreigners learn to cringe at what they are trying to foist upon us.

There are a raft of ideas on how to rethink trade agreements so that they are good for everybody, not just the wealthy and the multi-national corporations.  Free trade done right is a good thing for all of us.  The ideas in this article are just examples of some of the things that could be done.


Obama’s Great Lie: What’s Good for Wall Street Felons is Good for America

New Economic Perspectives has the article Obama’s Great Lie: What’s Good for Wall Street Felons is Good for America.

 A president who has a good case to make on the merits of his economic policies can make that case to the public with all the advantages of his office.  Obama would have gained immense “political capital” if he had led a vigorous claim to hold the Wall Street frauds personally accountable for their crimes and he would have discredited the source of much of his future opposition.  A president who allows elite CEOs to grow wealthy through fraud and even wealthier through a public bailout will – and should – squander his political capital.

Obama admitted to Sorkin, that he chose the strategy of allying himself with Wall Street and disparaging its critics.

There is no nice way to put this, Obama is either a con artist or a fool.  If he found the country had been taken in and put into dire straights by the felons on Wall Street, what kind of answer did he expect when he went to those crooks and asked them how to fix the mess they had made.  You don’t go to the con artists to ask them what to do when you discover they are con artists who have treated you very badly.

In Hillary Clinton’s case, she is the con artist, so there is no wonder she likes the “solution” that Obama chose.  This country just cannot afford to put another Obama type into office as President.  I am surprised that when Clinton touts her economic plan over Bernie Sanders’ plan that he  doesn’t point out to us all that her economic advisers are all crooks themselves.  What kind of advice do we expect the crooks to give us?


What’s in a Name Change? Politics, Some at George Mason University Fear

The New York Times has the story What’s in a Name Change? Politics, Some at George Mason University Fear.

Those foundations have given more than $50 million over the past decade, most of it funneled to pet initiatives affiliated with the university, like the Mercatus Center, an economic think tank that churns out libertarian policy research, and the Institute for Humane Studies, which promotes libertarian philosophy. Mr. Koch sits on the boards of both.
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The Charles Koch Foundation usually insists on some say in how its money is used, going as far as asking for the right to have a committee it appointed sign off on hires to a new economics program it funded in 2011 at Florida State University.

This is what I fear is going on at The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. When MIT announced this project, my alma mater and I parted company.  I no longer give any money to MIT, which <sarcasm>I am sure they sorely miss</sarcasm>.  I didn’t dare go to my 50th reunion for fear that the speakers extolling the contribution for David Koch might make me sick to my stomach.


Watch Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, and Phil Gramm Have a Love Fest Over Repeal of Glass Steagall

Naked Capitalism has the article Watch Bill Clinton, Larry Summers, and Phil Gramm Have a Love Fest Over Repeal of Glass Steagall.

This clip is a reminder of the ideology that got us into our current mess: rising inequality and debt levels, a global meltdown that led to the greatest looting of the public purse in history, followed by stagnation and deflation that is too widely blamed on the march of technology and not on poor policies and overt corruption. And this thinking is very much alive.

 

I read the article, but I couldn’t stomach watching the video. I’ll save it here on my blog in case I ever need a good emetic.


Black Voters and the NY Primary

The Real News Network has the video discussion Black Voters and the NY Primary.

Historian Gerald Horne tells Paul Jay that the fear of the racist right drives black voters to support Hillary Clinton.

There were many other factors that were discussed other than the one emphasized here.  The in-depth discussion of this idea was saved to the last.  As the discussion of the other ideas went on, I kept wondering how this idea got to be the one that was emphasized.  As it turns out, there was much more to this emphasized idea than I had imagined.  It was quite enlightening.

This wasn’t  so much an interview, or an argument, as it was a discussion by two people of an important subject that got further developed as the two participants could feed off of each others ideas.

When The Real News Network does something really well, this is one of the usual ways they do it.


Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

The Guardian has a mostly terrific article Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

The history this article provides may be eye opening to those who didn’t live through neoliberalism’s ascendancy or didn’t understand its flaws.

The article does go seriously off the rails when it talks about the failures of John Maynard Keynes’ “general theory of employment interest and money.”

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream.
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Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

The trouble of the 1970s was not a failure of Keynesian policies, it was a failure to realize what Keynes’ theories demanded in the situation.  At the time, people were saying that you cannot have a policy of “guns and butter” or it would cause inflation according to Keynes.  This proved to be exactly right, as the “guns and butter” policy of fighting the Vietnam War and trying to fight a war on poverty at the same time proved to be impossible.  With the rise of the oil cartel, OPEC, it became impossible to get inflation back under control.  In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan applied Keynesian theory to stop inflation.  He brought on a huge recession, people cut way back on purchases of petroleum based products, and the power of OPEC was broken.

I don’t know what flaws in Keynesianism were exposed in the 1970s.  It seemed to me to work perfectly well.  Even Richard Nixon helped free up the application of Keynesian theory by taking us off the gold standard around 1972.  Some theorists are only now trying to explain the policy options that Nixon (perhaps unknowingly) opened up to us.  Neoliberalism does not want us to use those options if it means fairly distributing wealth.

Keynesian Theory explains how the economic cycle works, and explains the causes and cures for the ups and downs of the cycle.  With problems of global warming we now know that we have to be careful about the consequences of economic growth.  As we learn how to fairly distribute the fruits of economic growth to all the people of the world, Keynesian Theory will still tell  us how to control that growth.  Other theories will need to be developed to figure out how to channel that growth onto environmentally non-destructive paths, but Keynesian theory will still tell us how to control economic cycles.