Washington Uprising

Courtesy IWW

Wensday Media is going to print today with a flyer in support of the week of action that starts tomorrow in Blaine, WA and moves on to Seattle and Olympia and beyond over the next few days.  It’s a full schedule of activity for the next 8 days.

See you in the Streets!

You can download the flyers from Small Blue Planet. The only difference in the two flyers is the signage is different, otherwise identical content.

You are welcome to print, disseminate, repost.

Washington Uprising – A Community Response to Budget Cuts

I think for the next ten days, my thoughts, time, money are on the Washington Uprising.

A bunch of groups are coordinating activities around the State and carrying the message to the Governor and the Legislators in Olympia. Washington State is jumping on the austerity bandwagon. We have a Democratic Governor, Christine Gregoire, who is a reasonable person. Governor Gregoire is no Scott Walker, but she is not fighting for us. She is not fighting for her own values. The War on the Poor has to stop. The Class War is in full gear. The top 2% of wealth and income scale have to be forced to start paying their fair share. Once that happens, we have no need for the cuts. You cannot balance the budget on the backs of the poor and disabled, you have to balance the budget by fixing the revenue streams that fund critical public endeavors like education, health care, parks, transportation, housing, services to the disabled, and so much more.

If trickle down economics worked for the benefit of all of us, if deregulation of private industry created responsible wealth and employment, if the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few created stable communities, we would all be eating rainbow pie by now.

Government serves functions that private, for-profit industries will never address. If there is no money, no profit in it, the globalization capitalists have declared war on it. Prisons are fine because they can be operated at a profit by corporations. We can keep schools are if we can get rid of qualified teachers and privatize education and put control in the hands of private entrepreneurs to create cash flow and train a work force to flip burgers and fry potatoes. Health care is great if we can manage cost and ration care to create stock dividends and CEO bonuses and not get too concerned about the actual health of the population sitting in the waiting room or standing in line at a free clinic.

Have to stop and work on a media project in support of the activities being planned for next week. Hope you can take a day off next week. I am taking the week off to be involved in the activities. If you want to know more about the Washington Uprising, try

We are Washington. It’s one website that organizers are using to get the word out.   Olympia Coalition for a Fair Budget is another website that is getting the word out and organizing activities.

The Libyan Question

I was really concerned that the international community would simply stand by and watch as Libyans were slaughtered by their own military forces. Think Rwanda and Burundi and those awful type of events and outcomes all over again. The US and the international community stood by as human beings were exterminated. If you need background on that I recommend the PBS video – Ghosts of Rwanda – as definitive coverage.

This is always a problem when an armed force decides to slaughter or exterminate a civilian population. Should “we” get involved or should we step back and let the local conflict be decided by local forces? The German attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe was accompanied by territorial encroachment and domination of neighboring European countries and was confronted, but the truth is that the international community was very slow to come to the aid of the groups that were identified for extermination. It wasn’t just Jewish folks, the Romas, gays, communists, and more were targeted for their ethnicity, their politics, their orientation to the mainstream culture.

Jump forward to the Cambodian holocaust. The international community sits on its hands. Jump forward to Rwanda, Burundi, the Congo. No effective action. Look at the Sudan.

Yet we (the UN, the US et al) intervene in Bosnia and I am not sure why. I read and listen to Andrei Grubacic and I am not sure the intervention really worked to further goals that I have about the elevation of persuasion over coercion.

So, here we go. I felt we should intervene when the rebels in Libya were in danger of being crushed and exterminated. But once Western forces start bombing the country I am very uneasy. Can this work out well? Is there an end in sight? Are we there because Libya has sweet oil?

Want to hear Grubacic? You got it. Anarchism and Marxism, Part I.

Economics, Politics and Folly

Let’s be blunt, shall we? The Republicans are committed to winning elections and regaining the majority no matter how much harm they do to the country making that happen. When in power, the republicans govern like drunken sailors. We get unfunded wars, tax cuts, corporate social programs like Medicare Part D and deregulation that allows for the possibility of one economic bubble after another. Bubble economies (think the dot.com frenzy, followed by the home refi and ownership society craziness) allow for the appearance of wealth generation and create annual bonuses for bankers that are only slightly taxed.

Not that the Democrats are much better. They get an opportunity once in a blue moon when the country manages to overcome the propaganda of Fox, Comcast, Clear Channel et al and the vagaries of vote-counting systems that have no mandated papertrail to assure integrity. The Clinton era of 1992-1994 and the Obama era 2008-2010 are the two times that has happened and look how those two year stints turned out.

When they are out of power (which is most of the time) the Democrats do better than Republicans do when they are out of power. They do not seize every opportunity to make things go wrong for country for political gains in the next election, they appear to function somewhat responsibly, working with the party in power to negotiate legislation and policy toward the mainstream, but the upshot is the political situation we have today, where US citizens and soldiers who have been convicted of no crime are tortured in the brig by deprivation of contact, by systematic humiliation, and more in the hope of breaking the mind and spirit of an individual. This will break most of us. Human beings are social animals. Where State governments work to strip unions of collective bargaining power.

All of this negotiating and compromising creates a meek Democratic party that cannot remember its own principles when the stars align to give them a majority. The party is so unfamiliar with governing from a majority position that it can’t figure out that the solution to an economic downturn of the scale of the great depression or the great recession is keynesian economics directed at job creation and infrastructure, not the stabilization of the economic status quo. Nothing is too big to fail as the Democrats have proven in 2008-2010 as they governed themselves and the country further into the ditch as they protected financial institutions that are the fount of electoral politics. They were completely inept in their understanding and response to the ultimate SCOTUS corporate decision – Citizens United. There were legislative fixes that should have been in place even before the Supreme Corp announced its unsurprising decision.

And health care? Yes, health care needs fixing. The system we have is a private enterprise mess. The health care fix is in moving to single payor. This isn’t rocket science. In the absence of the fortitude and votes to go to single payor, you have to keep it on the table in the form of a public option or you might as well not waste the time and effort on the reform battle. Sure, it’s a good thing to have new rules that allow “children” up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance policies and to reduce corporate profit-taking by rescission and pre-existing condition sleight of hand, but 2008-2010 screamed for a job program, for the bankruptcy court cramdown solution to the housing mortgage crisis, for an all-out push to reduce our energy dependence on foreign oil and look what we got instead.

It’s not too late for the Democratic party to learn how to lead, even from a minority position, but they have to be ready next time to speak the truth. We need to raise taxes and regulate the economy and industry. We have to be true to our founding principles regarding human rights instead of bending to the pull of commerce and profit.

Set Bradley Manning free. Put Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in jail (and ct scan to determine once and for all if they are human or reptile). Stop the wars. Bring the troops home, close down at least half of our foreign bases. Reinstate the tax structure that existed under President Nixon, if not the one that existed under President Eisenhower.

Economics 101 v. Contemporary Arrogance

“The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance.”
— Paul Johnson

Keynesian economics are the solution to recessions and depressions. In the battle of great ideas, Keynesian economics can lose traction to free market economics and for folks who have six hours can learn lots about the push and pull of economic theory by watching the PBS series Commanding Heights.

Keynesian economics and the commanding heights of manufacturing lose steam when they fail to accommodate and incorporate the power of human desire, the engine of capitalism. Fashion, this year we want fins on our cars, the next year we want round headlights, the next year we want two tone paint jobs and chrome, the next year we… you get the idea… one thing I took away from watching Commanding Heights is that these human desires and the dynamics of popular capitalism are like a force of nature, they are like wind and tides. Simply dismissing fashion and desire is a big mistake. The wind will blow.

One thing that happens when keynesian economics are employed (see the deficit spending of the Obama administration and started by the Bush administration in response to the economic meltdown) is that governments run deficits. This is a normal cycle of keynesian economics. The deficits are made up in good times if you leave tax rates alone. If the free market capitalists manage to drive tax rates down in the good times and cause the accumulation of wealth, the paydown of debt by government does not occur and we are ill-prepared to deal with the next downturn. This is where we were in 2008-2010. It doesn’t help that the financial planners around Bush and Obama were intent on saving bankers instead of homeowners, but the flattened tax schedule of the Reagan revolution had prevented economic good times from paying down deficits. There is also the issue of the wisdom of spending on war economies instead of peace and manufacturing economies, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Our current situation has created deficit issues and the deficit hawks/vultures are seizing the moment to attack social democracy institutions such as education, health care and social security.

Alternet has a good piece by Larry Beinhart from March 1st.

The Astonishing Stupidity of Not Raising Taxes on the Rich When Budgets Are Tight

The current economy is routinely and universally referred to as the worst recession since the Great Depression.

It makes sense, therefore, to look back at government tax and spending policies during the Depression and what the results were.

1932 — Hoover raises the top tax rate from to 25 to 63 percent.

1933 — Roosevelt comes into office. He begins spending at the same time that new tax hike comes into effect. The Depression bottoms out.

1934 — Recovery begins. The GNP rises 7.7 percent, unemployment falls to 21.7 percent.

1935 — New government spending on public works and rural electrification. A push to strengthen labor and raise wages. New taxes through the creation of Social Security.

The GNP grows another 8.1 percent, and unemployment continues to fall.

1936 — The top tax rate is raised again. This time to 79 percent.

GNP grows a record 14.1 percent; unemployment falls even further.

1937 — Roosevelt is afraid of deficits! He cuts spending for 1937.

There’s a new recession. It continues for a year.

Might be a good time to review our history, kids.

 

 

Is a General Strike Coming?

The Wobblies appear to be thinking that a general strike is needed. The IWW commissioned Eric Drooker to create graphics and posters. I spotted the graphic on Ten Bears’ website first, then came across it again at Boing Boing.

There is so much going on in the world. The revolt in the Middle East to dump their corrupt governors is inspiring and dangerous. People are dying for their hope to throw off oppressive regimes. Gaddafi is clearly willing to use every weapon he possesses to kill Libyans who want him gone.

The guy/idiot (deputy attorney general Jeff Cox from Indiana) Wisconsin who fantasized about using live ammunition against citizens “assembling to petition the government for redress” (sound familiar? check out amendment numero uno) has been sent packing for his impolitic speech. But state violence against protesting citizens is not a hollow threat in the US.

I was struck yesterday by the language that is being used to describe the unrest in the Middle East. I heard on NPR that a Day of Rage was called in Saudi Arabia. I wonder if that is an accurate translation of the call or more linguistic framing, like using the term terrorist instead of insurgents.

We live in interesting times. See you in the streets?

There is Strength in a Union

Unions can go bad, (think Tony Boyle of the UMW) but the unions gave us the weekend, the eight hour day and ended child labor in this country. Unions have clearly lost power in the past 60 years and I hope they have bottomed out and are about to make a resurgence. I am a business owner and will be joining the IWW in the near future. I have long term wobblie sensibilities, I just haven’t seen the point in paying dues and making my wobblie sensibilities official, but I am rethinking that. SEIU is also a great union.

Do you need some entertainment to help you get oriented on unions? Screen Crave listed 5 movies to watch last September when Labor Day rolled around.

I have watched Harlan County several times and I am thinking it is time to watch it again.

 

Click to jump to Screen Crave

I also recommend The Wobblies. A good documentary that was passed over by Screen Crave. You can get it at Netflix.

Click to jump to Netflix This is just a wonderful piece of filmmaking. Does not have great car chase scenes or huge budget explosions. Just content. You want to check out some great flicks that did not make theater runs? Check out Docurama Films.

 

Jeremiah was a prophet.

Just like a tree that’s planted by the water,
I shall not be moved.
Though the winds are blowing all around me,
I shall not be moved.

These winds will never last,
this storm is sure to pass,
this trial is just a test so
I shall not, I shall not,
oh, I shall not be moved.

News and Weather from Climate Progress

Click on photo to read the storyClimate Progress does a fine job of keeping up on the science and making presentations on global warming and climate change in a way that most of us can understand. If you click on the chart above you will jump to the climate progress story on Arctic sea ice.

The graph tells the story pretty effectively. Sea ice is steadily declining.

Why should we care? The ice-makers on refrigerators are still working, right?

Yes, polar bears will notice, but why should we? Well, check out the next graph from Climate Progress:

Click to jump to the story

 

The same changes that are driving the loss of Arctic sea ice are also reducing food crop production and creating rising food commodity prices. Paying more at the checkout stand for a couple of bags of groceries, that’s not good. But it’s harder than that if you are living on $2 per day or less. And amazing as that may seem, many folks on the planet are in the $2 per day or less class.

If you are interested in the nuts and bolts and hard science of global warming and climate change, bookmark Real Climate as well as Climate Progress.