Hullabaloo Needs Comments

Digby's new Hullabalo weblog needs to get set up so people can leave comments.

Lawlessness on the Right

InstaPundit is complaining because Maryland police are planning to use tips obtained during the sniper hunt to crack down on gun law violators. (Warning, the article referenced is in the Moonie "Believe It Or Not" Times so it's going to have a far-right propaganda slant!) From the article:
"Our goal is to reduce illegal firearm possessions and violent crimes," said Capt. Nancy Demme, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Police Department.
"Gun advocates portray the crackdown as evidence of continuing hostility toward gun owners by county officials."
From InstaPundit:
"This is sure to produce less cooperation in the future. And it explains why so many gun owners don't trust the authorities: They've seen things used as excuses for anti-gun sweeps in the past."
I thought the right-wing line is there are enough existing gun laws, and the government should do more to enforce the laws already on the books, instead of passing new ones. But here we see that when the government DOES that, it's met with complaints. I guess we were supposed to see the wink and nod and understand that "enforce the laws already on the books" was just a "talking point" to use to block effective gun control, and they didn't really MEAN it.

They're BACK!

Media Whores Online is BACK!!!

Stimulate This

This CalPundit piece about Bush's so-called "Stimulus Plan" is good. Go check it out.

Bush is saying, "I understand the politics of economic stimulus -- that some would like to turn this into class warfare. That's not how I think." It made me remember this from August, with one of my favorite quotes,
A friend of mine says, "Republicans know how to fight a class war. And then they say you're the class warrior, and usually you even don't know what's happening to you."
Remember their tactic - when they accuse you of something, it means they're actually doing what they're accusing you of.


More Who Makes Things Better

Some great charts here. (See previous post here.)

Third Annual Bloggies

The Third Anual Bloggies Weblog Awards are taking nominations.

Arguing with right-wingers.

I got in a spat with some right-wingers over in the comments section of this message at TalkLeft. I violated my first law - arguing with right-wingers will only make you crazy; they argue the forest - right-wing smokescreens - instead of the trees - details, history, facts. They're online but seem surprisingly uninformed about things like Bush's service record! Also, TalkLeft opposes reinstating the draft for honorable reasons. I've commented on it here (we need a draft) and here (if the Iraqis REALLY have weapons of mass destruction we need a draft). What do you think?


Figure it Out - It's About Your Job

Thanks to Thomas Leavitt for pointing me to this column in Fortune, "Finally a Productivity Payoff from IT?" It explains that your job will be lost to "business process outsourcing."
"While it’s not something we immediately associate with computing and networks, it’s only after companies are automated and connected by a commonly accessible network (the Internet) that they can easily create links between themselves and their suppliers. Work can be passed seamlessly from worker to worker regardless of location."
Does he mean we will all get to telecommute? Not exactly.
"But the cost-savings grow really huge when companies exploit the big discrepancies in labor rates between the U.S. and still-developing countries like India, and outsource entire business processes to operators far away. International business process outsourcing, or BPO, started a few years ago with call centers, and it’s spreading to a wider variety of jobs. It may enable a quantum leap downward in labor costs."
AH! Now we're beginning to get to the point.
"For instance, an Indian national software association estimates that what it calls "IT-enabled services" provided in India for customers elsewhere will rise from $1.46 billion annually to about $17 billion in five years. By then over a million Indians could be engaged in these businesses. High growth rates are also expected in Eastern Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. Countries with the biggest near-term opportunity are those with large English-speaking populations, such as Jamaica, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore."
So what does this mean for YOUR job?
"The potential extent of this kind of work migration is vast. I’ve heard of new operations in India set up to read mammograms from U.S. hospitals. Architects in Sydney, Australia subcontract some of their work to lower-priced architects in Singapore."
Your job eventually WILL be sent to people who will work for much less, where the environmental standards are lower, where there are no worker health and safety laws. And then their jobs will be sent where people will work for even lower pay, with even lower environmental standards, etc.

Without regulations in place to control this, your company must do this or go out of business, because its competitors surely won't hesitate. The honest, sincere, management-from-the-heart people currently running your company won't have any choice, because the laws of economics applied without consideration for the human consequences necessitate this conclusion. Repeat: Without regulations to level the playing field they will not have a choice in the matter. This is what "free trade" means without controls in place to protect working people. It's the law of supply and demand. In a world with free movement of jobs and a surplus of labor, wages must fall to the lowest level necessary for subsistence - and the rest will starve.

So the question to ask is, "Who is our economy for?" How soon will you be joining the servant class - assuming you're lucky enough to find even a servant job?

There are QUITE a few former "Internet libertarians" in Silicon Valley spending their newfound idle time in coffee shops (or writing weblogs), collecting unemployment checks and reconsidering their politics.

Einstein explains it here.
"Insofar as the labor contract is "free," what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists' requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product."
Follow the link for more.

We Need a Heritage Foundation of the Left

Today's NY Times has this story, Outflanked Democrats Wonder How to Catch Up in Media Wars. The article discusses attempts to build moderate/progressive voices similar to the web of right-wing organizations and media outlets anchored by the right-wing Heritage Foundation. From the article,
"The [Heritage] foundation is part of a circuit of influential conservative groups that are credited with helping to hone a singular message, bolstered each Wednesday at back-to-back meetings held by Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, and the conservative activist Paul Weyrich. Those meetings are monitored and at times attended by some conservative commentators, columnists and Internet writers.

Democrats have long claimed that the circuit has corralled conservative thinkers, and more important, conservative media, into a disciplined message of the week that gets repeated attention from Web sites like the Drudge Report, Mr. Limbaugh's radio show, Fox News's prime-time talk shows and the editorial pages of The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal."
If you agree with the article, go give some money to the Commonweal Institute. It's important for our voices to be heard as well!


My Economic Plan

Here's my plan to fix the economy for 2003, from a comment I posted over at Lean Left.

I would put a wealth tax of 10% on people with assets of more than $1 million (OK, $10 million then), and redistribute that through a big jobs program to retrofit homes and buildings to be energy efficient. (Get the money FROM where the money WENT.) That would fix the jobs/demand problem, and it would make the economy so much more efficient because of the resulting lower energy costs. I'd use the savings from that to pay off the Social Security retirement obligation for the boomers, by paying down debt now.

While we're fixing things, go read this and the three entries following, in case you didn't just do that.

Update - I just did that. The Social Security one is one of my favorites. Plus the next one down, from the previous day, about populists. And then a little further down, the stuff about the Iraq war already started because we're bombing, which we're still doing, every day. That was all two days in August. Wow. It started with my very favorite piece, The Retirement Plan of the Unemployed Man. (Be sure to click where it says, "The Man".) (Did Terminus get a job or is he still in law school?)

Attack Us Now, Please

Read this, and tell me if Bush isn't saying here, "Attack us now, please! If you attack us NOW you can knock out our whole economy. Don't wait!"

"This economy cannot afford to stand an attack." I don't understand how right-wingers can put up with this fool. YES, I'm pissed off!


Einstein wrote,
"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights."
This is BY NO MEANS a summary of Einstein's essay. Please go read it. If you pressed for time I recommend skipping to the paragraph that begins, "I have now reached the point".

In case this is hard to read, there are quite a few links here.

Great Quote

I found this great quote over at Byrd's Brain.
"Spending is more subdued because for three years, economists have been telling people that the situation would get better. And instead, it got worse."
-BURT FLICKINGER III, of Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting firm.
Prosperity is just around the corner.

Who Makes Things Better?

I saw this in the NY Times this morning, "More People on Welfare After Years of Declines". It got me thinking about P.L.A.'s "Just For The Record" series - Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI (and it says there's a Part VII but there isn't a link.) This series compares the record of Democratic and Republican administrations for things like deficits, job growth, economic growth, inflation, government spending, and number of government employees. This series should win P.L.A.'s Koufax Awards but it can't because P.L.A. disqualified itself.

I'd like to see figures for stock market, crime, poverty/people on welfare, average income gains, number of people with health insurance, education, and any other quality of life issue you can think of. (In fact I was working on a book on this in the 80's but eventually had to go do my job instead...) I hope I'll get the time to contribute to this. In the meantime go read at P.L.A. and thank them!

Update - Also see CalPundit.


Politics not Policy - Party over Country

As I wrote in the previous entry, the Bush administration is entirely about moving he right-wing agenda. Then the always-excellent weblog The Sideshow pointed me to this article in The New Republic.
"Indeed, the simple rule for understanding Bush's economic policy is that in virtually every instance, whether tacking right or left, the president sides with whatever interest group has the strongest stake in the issue at hand. The result is an administration whose domestic actions persistently, almost uniformly, fail to uphold the broader public good."
Go read it. There's a lot more there.

I've always said listen to Republican accusations to understand what the Republicans are doing. i.e., They accuse others of what they are actually doing. They accused Clinton of selling the White House.

Clear-Cutting 100-Year-Old Sequoias

LA Times commentary by Chad Hanson, executive director of the John Muir Project and a national director of the Sierra Club.
"This month, the Bush administration announced its draft management plan for the 329,000-acre monument, which proposes a commercial logging program that includes patch clear cuts within the sequoia groves and large-scale removal of big, green trees. Even century-old giant sequoias would be logged.

That the Bush administration would target such a revered refuge for logging raises a serious question: If the Giant Sequoia National Monument isn't safe under this administration, what is?"
Never mind that scientists say cutting old-growth makes fire danger WORSE! This administration is entirely about furthering the right-wing agenda, and not about policy or the good of the country.

The damage just keeps on coming.

Says It All

DailyKOS has something that just says it all, so I'll quote it all (with permission):
"Southern anti-Americanism
At a time when any criticism of Bush's war effort is met with charges of anti-Americanism, how do Southerners get away with celebrating the Confederacy?

What can be more un-American than wearing the symbol of the rebel group that sought to destroy the United States, and build a new nation based on the subjugation of an entire race?

Put a little differently -- what is the difference between wearing a Confederate flag, and wearing a t-shirt with Osama Bin Laden's mug on it? Or, to be ultra contemporary, an Iraqi flag? All three represent enemies of the United States.

So once again, how do Dixie lovers get away with it? "
Go there to comment and follow links in the piece.


Tort Reform

The Washington Post has a good story on Republican efforts to sneak "tort reform" - legislation to block people from suing corporations, limiting the amount they can sue for, or limiting what lawyers can make from such suits - into Federal laws without us noticing, GOP Plans New Caps on Court Awards.
"While Democrats and Republicans disagree about the merits of curtailing lawsuits, this much is indisputable: Corporations stand to benefit financially, while individuals may lose the opportunity to win significant jury awards if they are harmed by certain products."
Tort reform is another of the corporate right's long-term "think tank" projects, where you start hearing about "studies" that point out a a "problem," over and over, until it becomes accepted "conventional wisdom." How long have you been hearing about how court awards are out of control? Why do you think the misleading story of the McDonald's spilled coffee lawsuit is repeated so often, through all the usual outlets - Paul Harvey, Rush Limbaugh, all the "pundits", etc...?

You hear about someone filing a ridiculous suit, but you never hear when it gets thrown out of court. Or you learn later that actually the merits of the case were good - you only heard one distorted side of it, twisted to make it sound like a bogus suit to bolster the claims that lawsuits are out of control. Or you hear phony stories about the cost to insurance companies, etc. It's "conventional wisdom" at this point, but it's also bullshit.

But instead of my going on about it here, P.L.A. wrote a good piece on tort reform, and you can read it here.

Bring Back the Draft

The price of not having a draft. (Thanks Michael for pointing out the link over at Antiwar.com.) But, of course, if we did have a draft that would change the whole military-adventure-for-political-popularity equation. The public (and the Congress) might not be so ready for war if their kids - or the kids of anyone they knew - were the ones facing danger.

Let me be clear on this. I was against the draft during VietNam. I've come to realize that the public's participation in the draft was the reason why VietNam finally ended rather than expand into Cambodia and Loas and beyond. I am in favor of a draft now because it would democratize the decisions of our leaders and would likely end their current taste for military adventure with imperialistic overtones. The public might even be inclined to conserve fuel and subsidize energy alternatives if it is THEIR kids who have to go fight in the Middle East.

Save Your Pensions

In today's San Jose Mercury News I came across this column by Kathy Kristof warning (still employed) people to pay attention to what their companies are doing with their pensions.

I wrote about how the shift from company pensions to 401Ks screws workers and transfers pension money from workers to the already wealthy here, with a very important follow-up from a reader here.