Dallas hearing on Texas redistricting tomorrow, June 6, 2013

June 5, 2013

I get e-mail from Sen. Wendy Davis:

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. Dallas Observer image

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. Dallas Observer image

I wrote to you last week about the Special Session that Governor Perry has called to address redistricting. As you know, state leaders have dropped their challenges to the Senate district map, meaning that the current makeup of Senate District 10 should remain unchanged for the remainder of the decade. This is wonderful news for our community. We’ve faced this redistricting battle for the past two years and have finally earned an important victory that continues to hold us together.

Unfortunately, Governor Perry is also insisting that the Legislature adopt the interim congressional and State House maps, which include features that a federal court ruled are in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. The people of our district certainly know how important it is to have fairly drawn maps that allow voters to elect the leaders of their choice. All Texans deserve that.

You have a chance to speak out against the unfair congressional and State House maps.

I hope you will join us tomorrow for a public hearing with the House Select Committee on Redistricting. It’s vital that we make our voices heard. Let’s tell our state leaders to keep Senate District 10 intact and then to draw fair congressional and State House districts.

PUBLIC HEARING – House Select Committee on Redistricting
Thursday, June 6 – 2:00 PM – 1401 Pacific Avenue, Dallas
 

The Committee will hear testimony from any member of the public until 7:00 PM.
Once again, I understand that this is extremely short notice. I wish that there were more opportunities for the people of North Texas to have their say on this critical issue, but this may be the only chance that we get. If you are able, please come stand with us in the fight for fair maps.

Your friend, and proudly, your state senator,

Wendy
Wendy Davis

Will you be there?

English: Seal of State Senate of Texas. Españo...

Seal of State Senate of Texas. Wikipedia image. (Are those dots the Illuminati dots Gov. Perry insisted on?)

It’s a lousy place for inexpensive parking, so you may want to take the train — it runs within a couple of blocks of the hearing site.  But it’s a vital topic.

One wearies of the Texas GOP ramming their views down the gullet of citizens as if voters were just geese to be fattened for foie gras.

More:


Quote of the Moment: Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech (encore)

March 5, 2013

March 5, 2013, is the 67th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s speech in Fulton, Missouri. He called the speech “Sinews of Peace,” but it is better known as the speech in which Churchill first used the phrase Iron Curtain to describe events in Eastern Europe after World War II.

Churchill delivering Fulton speech - Czech radio

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

Sir Winston S. Churchill, in a speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946, titled “The Sinews of Peace.”

Some historians mark the beginning of the Cold War from this speech, in which a respected world leader first spelled out the enormous stakes at issue, and also pointed out that Russian, communist totalitarian governments were replacing more democratic governments in nations only recently freed from the spectre of Nazi rule, in World War II.

Last June son James and I stopped off in Fulton, on the way back from James’s graduation from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.  We were treated royally by the people at the Churchill Centre, and got a chance to spend time in what is really a first rate museum.  More people should make Fulton a destination, or pause in their summer travels, for the sake of the kids.

This is an encore post; with a bit of time free, I may post more photographs of our trip.

Oh, why not: Below the fold is the speech in its entirety, from the transcript at the Churchill Centre. Read the rest of this entry »


Quote of the moment repeat: Robert C. Lieberman, “Why the Rich Are Getting Richer: American Politics and the Second Gilded Age”

February 20, 2013

What? You missed this, on February 20, 2011? Well, here it is again. Please pay attention this time.

The U.S. economy appears to be coming apart at the seams.  Unemployment remains at nearly ten percent, the highest level in almost 30 years; foreclosures have forced millions of Americans out of their homes; and real incomes have fallen faster and further than at any time since the Great Depression.  Many of those laid off fear that the jobs they have lost — the secure, often unionized, industrial jobs that provided wealth, security and opportunity — will never return.  They are probably right.

Cover of Winner-Take-All Politics, by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

Cover of Winner-Take-All Politics, by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

And yet a curious thing has happened in the midst of all this misery.  The wealthiest Americans, among them presumably the very titans of global finance whose misadventures brought about the financial meltdown, got richer.  And not just a little bit richer; a lot richer.  In 2009, the average income of the top five percent of earners went up, while on average everyone else’s income went down.  This was not an anomaly but rather a continuation of a 40-year trend of ballooning incomes at the very top and stagnant incomes in the middle and at the bottom.  The share of total income going to the top one percent has increased from roughly eight percent in the 1960s to more than 20 percent today.

This what the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson call the “winner-take-all economy.”  It is not a picture of a healthy society.  Such a level of economic inequality, not seen in the United States since the eve of the Great Depression, bespeaks a political economy in which the financial rewards are increasingly concentrated among a tiny elite and whose risks are borne by an increasingly exposed and unprotected middle class.  Income inequality in the United States is higher than in any other advanced democracy and by conventional measures comparable to that in countries such as Ghana, Nicaragua, and Turkmenistan.

Robert C. Lieberman, reviewing the book Winner-Take-All Politics:  How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Simon and Schuster, 2010, 368 pages.  $27.00.; review appears in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2011, pp. 154-158.

More:

Two years later, even more:


Election Day 2012: Fly the flag, vote

November 6, 2012

Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri George Caleb Bingham (American, 1811–1879). The County Election, 1852. Oil on canvas. 38 x 52 in. (96.5 x 132.1 cm). Gift of Bank of America.

The County Election, 1852. Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri George Caleb Bingham (American, 1811–1879).  Oil on canvas. 38 x 52 in. (96.5 x 132.1 cm). Gift of Bank of America.

Every polling place should be flying the U.S. flag today.  You may fly yours, too.  In any case, if you have not voted already, go vote today as if our future depends upon it, as if our nation expects every voter to do her or his duty.

Today the nation and world listen to the most humble of citizens.  Speak up, at the ballot box.

Did you notice?  In Bingham’s picture, there are no U.S. flags.  You may fly yours anyway.

The whole world is watching.

More:


Texas: No voter identification required for May 29 primary

May 13, 2012

Early voting for the twice-delayed* Texas primary elections opens this week.  The election is set for May 29.

Happy to see the Texas Democratic Party sending out notices that voters won’t be turned away from the polls.  It’s a clear effort to deflate the voting discouragement campaign of State Attorney General Greg Abbott, Gov. Rick Perry, and the Republicans of the Texas Lege.

Letter from the Texas Democrats:

TDP Banner

Dear Ed,

On Monday, the polls will open for early voting for the May 29th Democratic Primary Election. We’ll be selecting the Democratic nominees who will lead the charge towards taking back our state in 2012.

Here’s how you can make your voice heard:

Confirm that you’re registered to vote.  You can verify your registration on the Secretary of State’s website.

Find your early voting location by contacting your county elections office.  Early voting for the Primary Election runs from Monday, May 14th through Friday, May 25th.

Request to have a ballot mailed to you.  Your application for a mail ballot must be received no later than Tuesday, May 22nd.

Use the same documents that you’ve used in the past to vote. No photo ID is required! The photo voter id legislation is not in effect for this election. All you need is:

  • Your voter registration card;
  • A driver’s license or personal identification card issued to you by Texas or another state (even if the license or card has expired);
  • A form of identification that contains your photograph and establishes your identity;
  • A birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes your identity;
  • Your United States citizenship papers;
  • Your United States passport;
  • Official mail addressed to you by a governmental entity; or
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.

Want to know who’s on the ballot? A list of the Democratic candidates is available on our website.

Want to know more about voting in Texas? Visit VoteTexas.gov.

Want to help elect Democrats in your county? Have questions about local races? Contact your Democratic County Chair.

Sincerely,

Boyd L. Richie

Boyd L. Richie
Chairman
Texas Democratic Party

I’d be interested to see that the Republican Party in Texas is doing something similar. They keep booting me off their lists. Anybody got a similar letter from them, especially one showing how the Texas Voter Identification law does not apply to this primary election?

_____________

*  The elections were delayed by federal court orders.  Texas is a place that historically discriminated against minority voters, and so under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, reapportionments by the legislature must be approved by the Justice Department or a federal court as complying with the nondiscrimination laws.  AG Abbott tried to do an end run around Justice, suing for approval as a first step.  As part of its War on Democracy, the Texas Lege wrote a spectacularly Gerrymandered reapportionment plan, depriving Texas Hispanics from new representation despite the dramatic increase in their populations.  Consequently the federal courts balked at quick approval.  Instead, they asked for more information.  In the delay, the Washington courts ordered the federal court in San Antonio to draw up a more fair plan, giving at least three new seats to districts where Hispanics hold broad sway.

Litigation against the Texas Jim Crow Voter Identification law is separate.


Bill Moyers: Democracy and plutocracy don’t mix

December 4, 2011

The really good news is that Bill Moyers will be back in January, with “Bill Moyers and Company.”

Details at Bill Moyers.com, where you can see this vintage critique of current politics (even though it’s a year and a half old).

Bill Moyers Essay: Plutocracy and Democracy Don’t Mix from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Moyers broadcast this in his farewell performance on Bill Moyer’s Journal, April 30, 2010

Text of his remarks below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


How about we get a government big enough, strong enough, and smart enough to protect your right to vote?

November 7, 2011

Oy.  Here’s a doozy from the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate newsletter:

Washingtonians who recently registered to vote using the Department of Licensing’s website may not have actually been added to the rolls, the Secretary of State’s office disclosed today in a late afternoon media advisory.

The Department of Licensing, which issues driver’s licenses, vehicle licenses, and boat licenses, allows voters to request that their voter registration be updated when they update their driver’s license. DOL also allows Washingtonians to register to vote when obtaining a license through its website.

But apparently, DOL hasn’t been forwarding these new and updated voter registrations to the Secretary of State’s office. Until last Friday, that is.

The Secretary of State’s office says a total of 21,000 voters may potentially be affected in some way by the blunder.

Here’s a more detailed explanation from co-elections director Katie Blinn:

When people update their address for their driver’s license with the state Department of Licensing, they can also request to update their address for voter registration purposes. This program is commonly known as Motor-Voter. DOL recently added a question about voter registration to its address update page on its website. However, the Secretary of State’s office has not been receiving these voter registration updates from DOL, and therefore has not been able to pass these updates on to the county elections offices. The Secretary of State’s Office just received the information Friday evening, just two business days before Election Day.

Obviously, ballots have already been mailed to voters, so this is a problem. The question is… how big of a problem?

Approximately 14,800 address updates were submitted to DOL that were not received by the Secretary of State’s Office. However, we think that county elections offices had already received some of these address changes due to voters contacting the elections office directly, or receiving address update information from the Post Office.

We think? Wouldn’t it be better to know for sure?

An additional 5,900 people requested to update their voter registration information on the DOL website, but were not previously registered. The information previously provided by the DOL address update system is not sufficient to complete a new voter registration so these people will be receiving a notice from their county elections office asking them to complete the registration. They can respond to the notice or fill out a new voter registration form. If anyone wants to vote in this General Election, they can go to their county elections office to vote a provisional ballot and complete the registration.

Great. So that means nearly six thousand people who thought they’d done what they needed to do to be added to the rolls didn’t actually get added, and now they’re going to have jump through more hoops in order to vote.

KING-TV Channel 5 points out a dispute between two arms of the state government, each giving different versions of the story behind why the 21,000 Washingtonians didn’t get their ballots as required by law.

WA Secretary of State: As many as 21,000 ballot…, posted with vodpod

Is this the result of years of budget cuts?  Have we finally cut even great state governments like Washington to the point that they cannot even get the ballots out anymore?

Time to stop cutting government budgets, eh?


While you’re celebrating Labor Day . . .

September 5, 2011

Remember that the weekend was a Crazy Liberal Idea™, and that union men and women died for the right to have them.

See this and more at PoliticalLoudmouth.com

Text of the poster:  “The weekend was a crazy liberal idea.  In 1886, 7 union members in Wisconsin died fighting for the 5-day work week, and 8-hour work day.”

Source:  PoliticalLoudmouth.com

 


Apathy wins again

August 11, 2011

Apathy is a cruel political philosophy.  It supports despots, fools, crooks and partisan hacks — more often than it supports good government, in my humble opinion.

In Wisconsin, had all those who signed the petitions to recall Tea Party Republicans, voted, the results would have been more favorable to Democrats.  Tea Partiers won big in 2010 on the basis of poor voter turnout nationally (could it really have been as low as 18% of all voters?).

In Wisconsin on Tuesday, apathy turned the tide for them again.  Post-Crescent editorial writers in Appleton wrote:

Look at it this way — 26,000 people in the 2nd Senate District signed the petition to recall Sen. Rob Cowles of Allouez in the spring. But only 18,000 people ended up voting for Cowles’ opponent, Nancy Nusbaum on Tuesday.If the 26,000 petition-signers would have voted for Nusbaum, she only would have needed 1,500 more votes to beat Cowles, who had 27,500 votes.

From Appleton, in one contested district, only 35 voters showed up to vote.

It is clear why Republicans work so hard, nationally, to restrict voter turnout by making it difficult, onerous, or just bothersome to vote.  And no doubt, they think that they will make better decisions than those who didn’t vote and thereby handed them the reins of power.  Despots, fools, crooks and partisan hacks rarely confess they are not the purveyors of good, democratic government.

 


Kennedy said, in the struggle for freedom, we are all citizens of Berlin (Quote of the moment)

June 26, 2011

49 years ago, on June 26, 1962, in Berlin:

President Kennedy addresses Berlin citizens, 6-26-1962 (photographer unidentified)

President John F. Kennedy addressing a crowd in Berlin, Germany, June 26, 1962 - image from NARA and/or Kennedy Library

From the Smithsonian Magazine site:

June 26, 1963: “Ich bin ein Berliner”

In West Berlin, President John F. Kennedy delivers the famous speech in which he declares, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Meaning literally “I am a citizen of Berlin,” the statement shows U.S. solidarity with democratic West Berlin, surrounded by communist territory.

View a video of President Kennedy’s speech at American Rhetoric, Top 100 Speeches.

Audio of the famous line, from the National Archives:

Photos and complete audio, at The Sounds of History.com:

Text and transcript, and other materials, from the Kennedy Library and Museum:

Kennedy’s entire speech was good. It was well drafted and well delivered, taking advantage of the dramatic setting and the dramatic moment. John Kennedy well understood how to give a speech, too.

Below is most of the speech, nearly five minutes’ worth, from a YouTube file — another indication that schools need to open up their filters to allow at least some of the best YouTube material through:

Transcript, from the JFK Library:

I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was “civis Romanus sum.” Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!

There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin. While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it, for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

What is true of this city is true of Germany–real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people. You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

You may also want to note these posts:


Wisconsin Republicans ignore Wisconsin voters’ views, and teachers

June 16, 2011

It is now quite clear that the people of Wisconsin disapprove of the union-busting, school-busting, library-killing antics of Wisconsins’ Republican Gov. Ahab Walker, and the Republicans in the legislature.

So, why don’t the Republicans do what the people of Wisconsin want, instead?  Why are Wisconsin Republicans acting as a special elite, ignoring voters’ wishes?

Forbes columnist Rick Ungar wrote:

A Rasmussen poll out today reveals that almost 60% of likely Wisconsin voters now disapprove of their aggressive governor’s performance, with 48% strongly disapproving.

While these numbers are clearly indicators of a strategy gone horribly wrong, there are some additional findings in the poll that I suspect deserve even greater attention.

It turns out that the state’s public school teachers are very popular with their fellow Badgers. With 77% of those polled holding a high opinion of their educators, it is not particularly surprising that only 32% among households with children in the public school system approve of the governor’s performance. Sixty-seven percent (67%) disapprove, including 54% who strongly disapprove.

Can anyone imagine a politician succeeding with numbers like this among people who have kids?

These numbers should be of great concern not only to Governor Walker but to governors everywhere who were planning to follow down the path of war with state employee unions. You can’t take on the state worker unions without taking on the teachers – and the teachers are more popular than Gov. Walker and his cohorts appear to realize.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Wisconsinite Jean Detjen.


Quote of the moment: Goodbye unions, goodbye democracy

March 20, 2011

Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California - Santa Barbara

Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California - Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Independent photo

Most jobs in America are not in manufacturing or subject to international competition. So the service sector, retail, construction — there are a huge number of jobs where international competition has nothing to do with it. The obstacles there are domestic. Labor law is totally dysfunctional. Workers really don’t have the right to form unions of their choosing. So you’re right to be pessimistic, just for different reasons.

I also have a mega-historical answer to that question, though. If you look at the last 150 years of history across all nations with a working class of some sort, the maintenance of democracy and the maintenance of a union movement are joined at the hip. We’ve seen this dramatically reconfirmed in Spain and South Korea and Poland over the years. If democracy has a future, then so too must trade unionism. Sadly, that doesn’t offer much hope for my lifetime. But there is such a thing as conflict between capital and labor.

Nelson Lichtenstein is arguably the most influential living historian of American labor; interviewed by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post blogs, March 10, 2011


Quote of the moment: Edward Albee on democracies, and hope for the future

March 14, 2011

Playwright Edward Albee - Albee Foundation photo

Playwright Edward Albee - Albee Foundation photo

[On the slashing of arts education funding:] It’s especially discouraging when you live in a democracy where anything good is possible, if only we have the courage to deal with it.

— Edward Albee, playwright, Diane Rehm Show (WAMU-FM/NPR), March 14, 2011 (49:50 in)


Little Hoovers should ask: Are we in a Second Great Depression?

February 23, 2011

Stalking America and haunting the shadows of every capitol building in America today are people who would profess, if asked, that they fashion themselves in the mold of Herbert Hoover.  Little Hoovers, we might call them.  Unlike Hoover, and unlike the friendly “Little Hoover” phrase we might apply to them, the welfare of America is not their concern.  We might worry about that.

President Harry Truman in 1947 appointed former President Herbert Hoover to head a commission on how to reform the federal government.  I do not know of a high school history text that even mentions this effort today.

Herbert Hoover on the cover of Time Magazine, 1925

Herbert Hoover on the cover of Time Magazine, 1925

Hoover’s commission made 273 recommendations that were taken to heart, then taken to Congress.  Many were enacted into law.

Several states followed the example, as in Utah and famously in California. These groups were often called “Little Hoover” commissions.  In no case that I have found did any of these commissions ever recommend stripping union collective bargaining agreements out of any situation.

But again, this history is mostly lost.  Hoover is remembered today for his failure to stop the Great Depression, for his seeming unwillingness to do what was necessary in great enough effort to relieve the nation’s serious hurts.  That’s too bad, really.

Herbert Hoover was not opposed to government action to fix the depression on most counts.  In his correspondence with Franklin Roosevelt, especially after Roosevelt replaced him in the presidency, Hoover often complained that Roosevelt’s actions were in the right vein, but too much.

We should remember this.

Are we in a Great Depression?  Economically, technically, our nation is in “recovery.”

Realistically, our nation is teetering on the brink of great financial disaster.  Sadly, most people ignore the lessons of history, and consequently, actions of many governmental units today seem driven to push the nation over the brink.  Home prices have not recovered.  Millions are out of work — millions of highly-trained workers cannot find jobs with pay adequate to support a family.

We appear not to have learned these lessons that should not have been forgotten:

  • Stimulus from the government creates demand, which fuels manufacturing recovery, and more jobs.  Tax cuts, such as Hoover’s 1932 tax cut for the wealthy, drive us deeper into recession.
  • Labor unions form vital components of a healthy manufacturing segment; they stand up for worker health and safety, for fair pay and work conditions that spur productivity.  When we ignore or fight unions, we damage economic productivity.  When we work with unions, we make progress.
  • Cracking the whip may get a temporary reaction from workers that looks good.  In the long run, if not immediately, such actions damage productivity and creativity.
  • Unions do not make the big financial decisions that cripple industry.  Unions don’t decide the products to be produced.  Unions cannot gamble a company’s future on ill-advised acquisitions or switches in corporate focus, usually.  Union demands for restrooms improve the sanitation and health of our food supplies.  Union demands for limited work hours lead to productive workers, better safety, and better products.
  • In almost every case where foreign corporations compete successfully with U.S. companies on high-tech and high-skill jobs, and take away U.S. jobs, the government of that foreign nation provides health care for all citizens, so that health care costs are not a cost of business.  In the case of most industrial nations, foreign pension laws are much stiffer than U.S. laws, stiffer in protecting generous benefits for pensioners.
  • All workers benefit when unions gain, traditionally.  It wasn’t Andrew Carnegie who invented the two-week vacation.
  • Workers can do more for consumers when they are treated well and listened to by company management.

I’m depressed at the nasty actions in so many places, in so many ways, designed to thwart progress to good ends, and instead drive our nation into mediocrity.  I find it difficult to post when there is so much disaster looming in so many places.

When political movements from the right go after one group with hammer and tongs, we might do well to remember the old, wise words.  With a full-on awareness of Godwin’s Law, we might do well to remember the words attributed to Martin Niemöller,  and the moral of that story:

“Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.”

What has Scott Walker done for anyone who makes less than $500,000 a year, anyway?  So you should ask:  What has Scott Walker ever done for you, or your family?  If the bargaining rights of any union are removed, anywhere in the U.S., who will speak up for your vacation, pension, health care benefits, and job safety?  OSHA?  Are you sure?

Update: It’s not paranoia when they are coming after you with more ill-will than you can imagine — see this Mother Jones update. It appears some people didn’t learn anything from the Tucson shootings.


More:

Cover of Gordon Lloyd's Two Faces of Liberalism:  How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debates Shape the 21st Century

A book you should buy: Gordon Lloyd's Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debates Shape the 21st Century


Quote of the moment: Robert C. Lieberman, “Why the Rich Are Getting Richer: American Politics and the Second Gilded Age”

February 20, 2011

The U.S. economy appears to be coming apart at the seams.  Unemployment remains at nearly ten percent, the highest level in almost 30 years; foreclosures have forced millions of Americans out of their homes; and real incomes have fallen faster and further than at any time since the Great Depression.  Many of those laid off fear that the jobs they have lost — the secure, often unionized, industrial jobs that provided wealth, security and opportunity — will never return.  They are probably right.

Cover of Winner-Take-All Politics, by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

Cover of Winner-Take-All Politics, by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

And yet a curious thing has happened in the midst of all this misery.  The wealthiest Americans, among them presumably the very titans of global finance whose misadventures brought about the financial meltdown, got richer.  And not just a little bit richer; a lot richer.  In 2009, the average income of the top five percent of earners went up, while on average everyone else’s income went down.  This was not an anomaly but rather a continuation of a 40-year trend of ballooning incomes at the very top and stagnant incomes in the middle and at the bottom.  The share of total income going to the top one percent has increased from roughly eight percent in the 1960s to more than 20 percent today.

This what the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson call the “winner-take-all economy.”  It is not a picture of a healthy society.  Such a level of economic inequality, not seen in the United States since the eve of the Great Depression, bespeaks a political economy in which the financial rewards are increasingly concentrated among a tiny elite and whose risks are borne by an increasingly exposed and unprotected middle class.  Income inequality in the United States is higher than in any other advanced democracy and by conventional measures comparable to that in countries such as Ghana, Nicaragua, and Turkmenistan.

Robert C. Lieberman, reviewing the book Winner-Take-All Politics:  How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Simon and Schuster, 2010, 368 pages.  $27.00.; review appears in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2011, pp. 154-158.

More:


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,969 other followers

%d bloggers like this: