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Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
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Journal Archives

D.C. Happy Hour (cartoon)


David Harvey "The End of Capitalism"

Published on Nov 8, 2013

David Harvey, Professor of Geography and Anthropology
Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Three years after the near collapse of global financial markets, America is still struggling with unemployment, debt, and foreclosure, European governments are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy—and the world's billionaires are getting richer faster than ever before. The current situation is not sustainable. But what changes need to be made to overcome this mounting crisis of our world economic system? How radical an adaptation will be required? David Harvey, the brilliant theorist and scathing critic of postmodern society, looks at what the future holds for global capitalism.

Gar Alperovitz: Capitalism in Long Term Stagnation and Decay

Published on Jan 25, 2014

Mr. Alperovitz tells Paul Jay that if you concentrate wealth at the top, there's not enough purchasing power to make the rest of the system work

Thousands celebrate 43rd Hash Bash on U-M campus in Ann Arbor

(Detroit Free Press) For 42 years, “Free the weed!” has been the rallying cry of the marijuana faithful who gather in Ann Arbor for a smoky rite of spring called Hash Bash.

At this year’s outdoor celebration of illicit pleasure at the University of Michigan, which drew an estimated 8,000 people today under sunny skies, that cry and the speeches it punctuated had added impact amid the growing national sentiment for treating marijuana more like alcohol and less like lethal streets drugs such as heroin.

“How many of you out there have weed?” shouted Adam Brook, 46, of Royal Oak, the event’s longtime emcee. Thousands of hands went up.

“OK, just remember, you can get arrested,” said Brook, as two campus police walked off the speaker’s platform. U-M campus police Sgt. Pat Alesi said he warned Brook not to encourage marijuana use. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20140405/NEWS05/304050072/hash-bash-ann-arbor-umich

Los Angeles: Westside subway extension survives legal challenge by Beverly Hills

(LA Times) Knocking down one of the last hurdles for Los Angeles' long-awaited Westside subway extension, a judge ruled late Wednesday that transit officials followed environmental laws when they chose a route that would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's five-year, $13.8-million environmental review process was thorough and fair, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John A. Torribio wrote in a 15-page decision.

The Beverly Hills School District and the city of Beverly Hills, which sued Metro two years ago alleging in part that risks of tunneling under the school were not adequately considered, can appeal the decision. Representatives from the city, which has two federal lawsuits involving the subway still pending, could not be reached for comment.

Transportation officials said the ruling effectively ends a generation of controversy and studies over the subway extension, which will connect downtown to West Los Angeles and serve one of the nation's most chronically congested commuter corridors. As planned, the nine-mile, $5.6-billion line, slated to open in 2035, will include seven new stations between Koreatown and Westwood. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-subway-lawsuit-ruling-20140403,0,2491628.story#axzz2xpIgWeNV

NY: G Train Faces Summer Shutdown

G train service will be disrupted again this summer.

Starting on July 26, the G won't run between Brooklyn and Queens for five weeks so the MTA can make heavy-duty structural repairs to the Greenpoint tube, which carries the train under the Newtown Creek. The transit agency says the work should be completed by September 1.

During that period, the G will continue to operate in Brooklyn; its northernmost stop will be Nassau Avenue. To bring G train riders to Queens, the MTA will operate shuttle buses along two separate routes (Manhattan Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard).

Like almost every other New York City subway tunnel, the Greenpoint tube flooded during Sandy and sustained serious damage. It had previously undergone storm-related repairs last year, but more work is needed. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/g-train-take-summer-vacation/

David Sirota: Sure, Bigwigs Want Labor Rights—But Only for Themselves

from In These Times:

Sure, Bigwigs Want Labor Rights—But Only for Themselves
What do Apple, the NCAA and Tennessee Republicans all have in common?


Technology, sports and politics are distinct worlds. They have their own junkies, their own vernaculars and their own peculiar customs. Yet, in recent weeks you may have noticed a common economic argument coming from those worlds’ respective leaders—an argument about who should have a right to engage in collective action and who should not.

In Silicon Valley, this argument was expressed in a flood of old emails from top executives at major companies such as Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe. As reported by my PandoDaily colleague Mark Ames, the correspondence released in court proceedings shows those executives agreeing to avoid hiring away employees from one another.

Remember, many of the companies these executives represent are hostile to the ideas of worker solidarity, collective bargaining and unionization. Yet, their emails assert that CEOs’ collective decision to ignore anti-trust statutes and distort the labor market should be considered perfectly acceptable. Why? Because, of course, their cartel's anti-competitive structure probably saved those executives money by driving down workers’ wages.


Then there is the political arena, where Tennessee's Republican elected officials threatened collective action against the right of their constituents to form a union. Indeed, back in February, GOP legislators suggested that proposed tax incentives for Volkswagen might be revoked if the company allowed its employees to join the United Auto Workers. This week, a local Nashville television station subsequently uncovered confidential documents showing anti-union Republican Gov. Bill Haslam appearing to make the incentive package contingent on the company halting the labor organizing drive in its midst. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16515/labor_head_honcho_both_ways_david_sirota

Businessman: Raising Minimum Wage is “an existential threat to the business model” he uses

from the Working Life blog:

Businessman: Raising Minimum Wage is “an existential threat to the business model” he uses
Posted on 04 April 2014.

Workers are just human fodder, who just gum up the works and get in the way of the dreams of some tin-pot “small business” owner, just a glorified term for a guy running a restaurant. That’s the view of a low life who is whining about the proposal to raise the minimum wage for waiters, a minimum wage that was set much lower than the minimum wage for everyone else because of the power of the restaurant lobby. And it’s indicative of the philosophy underlying the opposition to hiking the minimum wage (a very meek and mild proposal, as an aside).

In the bill being advanced by Democrats in Congress to raise the overall minimum wage, there is also a proposal to raise the wage for tipped workers to at least $7.10 an hour from the paltry $2.13 now being paid. The scam over these many years was that waiters earned a great bounty from tips so restaurant owners were “blessed” by having to pay a far lower minimum wage…hovering around Third World sweatshop levels.

And, oh, boy, the world would come to an end if a waiter earned more:

Mr. Garner, co-owner of the Glory Days Grill restaurant chain here in Maryland and northern Virginia, sides with many Republicans and much of the restaurant industry in opposing the move, which would primarily affect workers in the restaurant trade.“It creates an existential threat to the business model I’ve been involved in for the last 35 years,” Mr. Garner said.

Poverty is even a greater danger to waiters:

A report prepared by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the Labor Department and others said tipped workers are twice as likely as other workers to experience poverty, and almost three times as likely if they are waiters. Nearly three-quarters of tipped workers are women, and about half of all tipped workers would earn more under the proposal, the report estimated.

By the way, in Australia, the minimum wage for a restaurant worker is $15.96 an hour, and, though tipping is not expected, tips comes on top of that, not to mention free national health care AND a legally mandated 9 percent employer contribution into a pension plan (superannuation fund, which works essentially like an IRA). And, based on personal observation, restaurants are doing just fine in Australia. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.workinglife.org/2014/04/04/businessman-raising-minimum-wage-is-an-existential-threat-to-the-business-model-he-uses/#sthash.Kes8S5b6.dpuf

Bill Moyers: ‘McCutcheon’ Means “All the Free Speech You Can Buy”

‘McCutcheon’ Means “All the Free Speech You Can Buy”
April 4, 2014

Two events this week have made the fight to save democracy from big money, already an uphill battle, even harder.

In Washington, DC the Supreme Court struck down overall contribution limits on how much individual donors can give to candidates, parties and PACs. In New York State’s annual budget, Governor Cuomo and legislators killed a commission investigating political corruption, failed to pass campaign finance reform and gave tax breaks to the rich.

In this clip, Bill offers his initial reactions to this week’s events: “The prevailing myth in America has been that the rich have a right to buy more homes, more cars, more gizmos, vacations and leisure. But they don’t have the right to buy more democracy. The Supreme Court has just laid that myth to rest, and the new gilded age roars in triumph.”

“We the people should not cower or give in to despair; those restaurant workers aren’t quitting,” Bill adds, referring to his earlier interview with Saru Jayaraman, who spoke about food workers fighting back to earn a living wage.


Noam Chomsky: Ecology, Ethics, Anarchism

from truthout:


JAVIER SETHNESS FOR TRUTHOUT: Professor Chomsky, thank you so kindly for taking the time today to converse with me about ecology and anarchism. It is a true honor to have this opportunity to speak with you. Before we pass to these subjects, though, I would like to ask you initially about ethics and solidarity. Would you say that Immanuel Kant's notion of treating humanity as an end in itself has influenced anarchist and anti-authoritarian thought in any way? The concept of natural law arguably has a "natural" affinity with anarchism.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Indirectly, but I think it's actually more general. My own view is that anarchism flows quite naturally out of major concerns and commitments of the Enlightenment, which found an expression in classical liberalism, and classical liberalism essentially was destroyed by the rise of capitalism - it's inconsistent with it. But anarchism, I think, is the inheritor of the ideals that were developed in one or another form during the Enlightenment - Kant's expression is one example - exemplified in a particular way in classical liberal doctrine, wrecked on the shoals of capitalism, and picked up by the libertarian left movements, which are the natural inheritors of them. So in that sense, yes, but it's broader.

JT:You have described humanity as being imperiled by the destructive trends on hand in capitalist society - or what you have termed "really existing capitalist democracies" (RECD). Particularly of late, you have emphasized the brutally anti-ecological trends being implemented by the dominant powers of settler-colonial societies, as reflected in the tar sands of Canada, Australia's massive exploitation and export of coal resources, and, of course, the immense energy profligacy of this country. You certainly have a point, and I share your concerns, as I detail in Imperiled Life: Revolution against Climate Catastrophe, a book that frames the climate crisis as the outgrowth of capitalism and the domination of nature generally understood. Please explain how you see RECD as profoundly at odds with ecological balance.

CHOMSKY: RECD - not accidentally, pronounced "wrecked" - is really existing capitalist democracy, really a kind of state capitalism, with a powerful state component in the economy, but with some reliance on market forces. The market forces that exist are shaped and distorted in the interests of the powerful - by state power, which is heavily under the control of concentrations of private power - so there's close interaction. Well, if you take a look at markets, they are a recipe for suicide. Period. In market systems, you don't take account of what economists call externalities. So say you sell me a car. In a market system, we're supposed to look after our own interests, so I make the best deal I can for me; you make the best deal you can for you. We do not take into account the effect on him. That's not part of a market transaction. Well, there is an effect on him: there's another car on the road; there's a greater possibility of accidents; there's more pollution; there's more traffic jams. For him individually, it might be a slight increase, but this is extended over the whole population. Now, when you get to other kinds of transactions, the externalities get much larger. So take the financial crisis. One of the reasons for it is that - there are several, but one is - say if Goldman Sachs makes a risky transaction, they - if they're paying attention - cover their own potential losses. They do not take into account what's called systemic risk, that is, the possibility that the whole system will crash if one of their risky transactions goes bad. That just about happened with AIG, the huge insurance company. They were involved in risky transactions which they couldn't cover. The whole system was really going to collapse, but of course state power intervened to rescue them. The task of the state is to rescue the rich and the powerful and to protect them, and if that violates market principles, okay, we don't care about market principles. The market principles are essentially for the poor. But systemic risk is an externality that's not considered, which would take down the system repeatedly, if you didn't have state power intervening. Well there's another one, that's even bigger - that's destruction of the environment. Destruction of the environment is an externality: in market interactions, you don't pay attention to it. So take tar sands. If you're a major energy corporation and you can make profit out of exploiting tar sands, you simply do not take into account the fact that your grandchildren may not have a possibility of survival - that's an externality. And in the moral calculus of capitalism, greater profits in the next quarter outweigh the fate of your grandchildren - and of course it's not your grandchildren, but everyone's.

Now the settler-colonial societies are particularly interesting in this regard because you have a conflict within them. Settler-colonial societies are different than most forms of imperialism; in traditional imperialism, say the British in India, the British kind of ran the place: They sent the bureaucrats, the administrators, the officer corps, and so on, but the place was run by Indians. Settler-colonial societies are different; they eliminate the indigenous population. Read, say, George Washington, a leading figure in the settler-colonial society we live in. His view was - his words - was that we have to "extirpate" the Iroquois; they're in our way. They were an advanced civilization; in fact, they provided some of the basis for the American constitutional system, but they were in the way, so we have to extirpate them. Thomas Jefferson, another great figure, he said, well, we have no choice but to exterminate the indigenous population, the Native Americans; the reason is they're attacking us. Why are they attacking us? Because we're taking everything away from them. But since we're taking their land and resources away and they defend themselves, we have to exterminate them. And that's pretty much what happened - in the United States almost totally - huge extermination. Some residues remain, but under horrible conditions. Australia, same thing. Tasmania, almost total extermination. Canada, they didn't quite make it. There's residues of what are called First Nations around the periphery. Now, those are settler-colonial societies: there are elements of the indigenous populations remaining, and a very striking feature of contemporary society is that, throughout the world - in Canada, Latin America, Australia, India, all over the world, the indigenous societies - what we call tribal or aboriginal or whatever name we use - they're the ones who are trying to prevent the race to destruction. Everywhere, they're the ones leading the opposition to destruction of the environment. In countries with substantial indigenous populations, like say in Ecuador and Bolivia, they've passed legislation, even constitutional provisions, calling for rights of nature, which is kind of laughed at in the rich, powerful countries, but is the hope for survival. ................................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/22819-noam-chomsky-ecology-ethics-anarchism

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