Daily Archives: October 25, 2013

Why We Should Not Always Just Compromise

If you were in this car wanting to get somewhere and had two opposing opinions on where to drive, would you think it reasonable to just compromise by splitting the difference between the two opinions?

Compromise Example

So why do the press and so many in the public think that two sides should always compromise, no matter what the two opposing sides want to do?

Or do you think the Democrats should suggest driving in the ditch on the left so that compromise will get us to a reasonable position?

Growing Up Black in American Apartheid

The Real News Network has the three part series, the above title comes from the first part.

Growing Up Black in American Apartheid – Ford Pt1

On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay: Glen Ford, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, tells his story as a red-diaper baby, growing up facing racism in the North living with his white activist mother, and living in the Deep South with his black deejay father

Giving Grassroots Leaders a Voice – Ford Pt2

On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay: Glen Ford, Exec. Editor of Black Agenda Report, talks about helping create black radio news. He says that news media creates leaders by deciding what events are important and who is authorized to speak on the importance of those events

Black Nationalism and the Peoples’ Movement – Ford Pt3

On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay: Glen Ford addresses the question whether black Americans constitute a nation, and if so, what is their role in the movement of the whole people

It is interesting to watch Paul Jay struggle with what he elicited from the interviewee here. I think I got it sooner than Paul did.

Ford began with a discussion of two major tendencies in black politics.

“One is the self-determinationist tendency, that is, the political tendency that says black folks have every right to organize among each other for their own goals, regardless of what the larger society, i.e. white folks, think, and that that is legitimate,” said Ford.”

“There is also what I call the representationist strain, which says that black folks should have representation at all strata of the general society and that this can be achieved, and by–progress should be measured by the extent to which there are blacks in business, or blacks in politics, blacks in all of the various strata, and that this does not require any transformation of society.”

“These two tendencies coexist in conflict in every black brain,” said Ford. “And they are at war sometimes with each other. And I think that all black politics actually flows from this twoness, one the imperative to build a world that is worthy of black people, and the other to achieve black representation in the larger society.”

I don’t find it hard to make parallels that I can understand with what Glen Ford is trying to convey here.

Think about the Wall Street powers and their control over the “white” dominated government. They may be “white” like me, but they do not represent my thinking at all. If I had people like Elizabeth Warren in control of the government, then I might feel that there was some representation of the needs of people like me.

Black people may be proud that Barack Obama is President, but they don’t necessarily feel that he fully represents their interests.

To put the parallel on a more focused level, I might have some sense of some cultural pride to see the Jewish Joe Lieberman as President. I certainly would not feel that he represents my interests. If it were Alan Grayson, that might be a different story.

German Exporters Benefit from European Austerity

The Real News Network has the video German Exporters Benefit from European Austerity.  When I first read that headline, I thought I’d really like to see them justify this counter-intuitive conclusion.  Justify it they did. The Euro common currency certainly has what I suspect are unintended consequences. Either Germany is unknowingly taking advantage, or very cleverly learning how to take advantage.

But number two–and this is a very interesting point that came out of the conference–is this, that generally when an economy is successful at exporting, what usually happens is that the value of its currency goes up. So if we think about the United States, if we exported more, that would mean more people want to hold dollars. And when more people want to hold dollars, the value of the dollar goes up relative to other currencies, which in turn would make the U.S. less competitive in export. But Germany has the situation in which it benefits, ironically, from the fact that even though they are very successful at exports, they share the common currency, the euro, with the rest of Europe, and the rest of Europe remains in the tank, the rest of Europe is not succeeding in exporting, so that Germany is, ironically, benefiting by the fact that the euro does not appreciate, does not go up in value. And that enables Germany to continue to succeed as an exporter far more than they would be under other circumstances. So the situation is in–where Germany is able to dominate economic policymaking in Europe because they’re the most successful and largest economy–and they’ve also been able to rig the policymaking with respect to the euro, because it benefits them most. It benefits them most to be able to be an exporter that still can contain the euro, the value of the currency lower.

So the austerity agenda is helping the wealthy in Germany while it is hurting everybody else in Europe

There are a few other interesting points in the interview.  Watch the video below.

A Solution To The Social Security Crisis From An MIT Team

Here is an email that I sent to Elizabeth Warren.

It is time to take up this proposal from Franco Modigliani, Maria Luisa Ceprini and Arun Muralidhar that I have been touting since about 1999. This plan will have as profound an effect on our society as FDR’s original plan had in his day and since. I would love to discuss this with you.

It has been so long that some of my references to the plan have almost disappeared, but this 1999 working paper is still available.


Senator Kennedy was going to arrange for Professor Modigliani to present this to the Senate. That presentation never happened as far as I know. Now both of them are gone. However, I know that Arun Muralidhar is still available and a well respected advisor on pension plans.

If this email gives me room, I will quote just a couple of paragraphs from the MIT working paper.

“The centerpiece of our plan is the creation of a new public fund (NF), which like Social Security (SS) is financed by mandated contributions, and will offer defined benefits, but which will be fully funded, and establish individual accounts. The defined benefit will be ensured by a guaranteed return on contributions.

“Each participant’s contributions will be credited to an individual account, together with the accrued returns. However, for investment purposes, all the funds will be pooled and invested in a single, highly diversified “indexed” portfolio consisting of an appropriate share of the market portfolio of publicly traded financial assets. Despite its diversification, the return of this portfolio would be somewhat risky and variable. But a defined benefit system requires a rate fixed in advanced. To achieve this result, we stipulate that the Government should stand ready to “swap” the return of the NF portfolio against a guaranteed real rate of return.”

There is also a book: Rethinking Pension Reform, Franco Modigliani, Arun Muralidhar.

This is the idea that President Obama should be pushing when he talks to the Republicans.  Yes, it will blow their minds, but it is a serious proposal that I think could be the foundation of some profound changes to the way our society works.