Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in April, 2013

It still amazes me there are groups fighting efforts to revive domestic manufacturing, even as unemployment threatens the economy and future prospects of Americans.  Gilbertslapyourself Kaplan’s The Anti-Manufacturing Forces In Washington reveals who these folks are…

First, we have the people who are making big money by moving manufacturing off-shore. This includes some retailers that make no bones about buying everything from the lowest price source possible, even if that means closing down U.S. plants and buying from producers that ignore even rudimentary environmental and labor laws. It also includes major U.S. multinationals that find it in their interests to move U.S. jobs abroad because of lower wages and because many foreign countries will give them big subsidies to abandon their U.S. roots and obligations. These companies fight against any law or policy change that will keep manufacturing here, or that seeks to incentivize bringing it back.

Second, are the people who believe without reservation in free trade — no matter what. To them, any changes in trade law or policy to toughen our stance violates some basic philosophical belief and will never be countenanced. Certainly open trade has helped world growth and the development of many countries, such as Korea and Brazil. But it is almost impossible to talk to these people about our manufacturing decline. What they do not understand is that the U.S. is fighting, so to speak, a two-front war when it comes to trade. On the one hand, we are seeking reasonable market opening and regulatory changes to expand the benefits of free trade — such as the effort to create a U.S./EU Free Trade Agreement. But on the other hand, we are dealing with blatantly mercantilist export machines that are seeking to harm the U.S. economy, or at least certainly couldn’t care less if they do. We see this kind of conduct in China. We cannot treat both kinds of foreign trading partners (or should we say competitors) the same. It would be like saying we must — in our foreign policy — have totally consistent rules of the road with every other country no matter who they are — for example the same policy toward North Korea that we have toward Italy. No one would even propose something so absurd. But classic free trade proselytizers want us to treat every country with the same set of rules, no matter how different their systems or motivations.

Did you know that the vast majority of Americans are counting on their IRA’s and 401k’s to finance their retirement?  Did you know that many IRA’s and 401k’s require you to assume 100% of the risk, 100% of the funding, and receive onlyponzi-scheme 30% of the gains?

PBS Frontline presents The Retirement Gamble Faces Us All, a look at the state of retirement in America.  Wait until you learn about the fees you may be paying on your retirement funds.  Scary.  Even scarier if Social Security is reduced or eliminated. 

The Department of Labor has issued new rules requiring funds to disclose their fees.  This short video explains in easily understood graphs the impact of these fees on your retirement.

Kiplinger Personal Finance – The High Cost of 401k Fees states that fees of 1% or less are reasonable.

Watch, plan accordingly, and join a movement to save Social Security and the legacy of American retirement.

After a week in which the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library prompted lots of people to say nice things about the man it is refreshing to hear someone not ignore the disaster that was the Bush era.  As usual, “real” journalists were on the sidelines or serving up softball questions while Jon Stewart does the hard work of dealing in facts.  Enjoy this segment of the Daily Show as Jon calls the Bush Library The Hard Rock Café of Catastrophic Policy Decisions.

The latest issue of Social Policy contains a very well written account of a union organizing campaign to help nurses in Las Vegas improve their wages, hours, and working conditions.  Author/Organizer Jane McAlevey provides a rich insight into the hopes and challenges of this campaign in Raising Expectations.

So first and foremost, this book is about organizing. Why? Because if there is any one message I hope to convey, it is that present-day American service workers can militantly confront corporations and government and win. …. The organizing I have been involved in for the last ten years has won. As a result, there are thousands of workers who now expect to have a greater say in what goes on at their workplace, expect their jobs to be more productive and effective, and anticipate a better quality of life when they are old and that they will have more money for their children’s education. Their relationship with their coworkers has become richer, they feel less intimidated by their superiors, and when they face a collective problem they have a realistic chance of finding a collective solution.

While most on the labor left will agree with the sentiment above the details of this campaign are somewhat controversial.  The great thing about this special feature are the counter viewpoints expressed in articles that follow Jane’s piece.  Enjoy this somewhat rare look inside a union organizing drive and even more rare competing analysis.

 

If you missed the One Percent Solution by Paul Krugman you may still be wondering why the talk shows you watched this morning all sound like the spokesman for the top 1%. Richman Could this be the reason Republicans always outnumber Democrats?  The reason a voice for working Americans is rarely heard?

But it’s not just a matter of emotion versus logic. You can’t understand the influence of austerity doctrine without talking about class and inequality.

What, after all, do people want from economic policy? The answer, it turns out, is that it depends on which people you ask – a point documented in a recent research paper by the political scientists Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels and Jason Seawright. The paper compares the policy preferences of ordinary Americans with those of the very wealthy, and the results are eye-opening.

Thus, the average American is somewhat worried about budget deficits, which is no surprise given the constant barrage of deficit scare stories in the news media, but the wealthy, by a large majority, regard deficits as the most important problem we face. And how should the budget deficit be brought down? The wealthy favor cutting federal spending on health care and Social Security – that is, “entitlements” – while the public at large actually wants to see spending on those programs rise.

You get the idea: The austerity agenda looks a lot like a simple expression of upper-class preferences, wrapped in a facade of academic rigor. What the top 1 percent wants becomes what economic science says we must do.

Does a continuing depression actually serve the interests of the wealthy? That’s doubtful, since a booming economy is generally good for almost everyone. What is true, however, is that the years since we turned to austerity have been dismal for workers but not at all bad for the wealthy, who have benefited from surging profits and stock prices even as long-term unemployment festers. The 1 percent may not actually want a weak economy, but they’re doing well enough to indulge their prejudices.

And this makes one wonder how much difference the intellectual collapse of the austerian position will actually make. To the extent that we have policy of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, won’t we just see new justifications for the same old policies?

I hope not; I’d like to believe that ideas and evidence matter, at least a bit. Otherwise, what am I doing with my life? But I guess we’ll see just how much cynicism is justified.

Today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch Fair or Foul opinion piece takes on Speaker Tim Jones and his recent removal of four Republicans from committees in retaliation for their opposingRexSinquefeld him on education deform.  Of course, Tim Jones, representing Pacific and Eureka, is a co-chair of Missouri’s ALEC caucus and known as a politician that talks a lot about government of, by, and for the people while undermining people approved legislation such as the Minimum Wage.  I wonder if he was speaking for King Rex on that issue as well?

FAIR: Speaker of the House Tim Jones, a Republican from Eureka, is taking quite a bit of heat from Democrats, and some members of his own party, for using his power to remove Republicans from key committees because they voted against the education reform legislation that is one of Mr. Jones’ priorities. We think the critics have it wrong.

They should be thanking Mr. Jones.Tim Jones

There’s an old train of thought that lawmakers should start wearing advertising patches on their suits, like NASCAR drivers do, identifying which donors have bought and paid for their services. When Mr. Jones has to go to such lengths to do the bidding of one of his top donors, education reform advocate Rex Sinquefield, it sort of serves the same purpose.

Let there be no doubt to whom Mr. Jones answers. It’s not the local school boards who oppose his legislation. It’s not local superintendents in rural communities who prefer local control, or who are already participating in a thoughtful state pilot project to improve teacher evaluations.

 

In case you missed the Daily Show with Jon Stewart this week you have to see this segment in which he uses clips of Fox News “personalities” advocating the elimination of many parts of the constitution.  A light-hearted look at the heavy subject of politicians and pundits giving you constitutional b__s____ from one side of their mouth while taking your rights with the other.  Enjoy and share.

tiredmother    Jim Breuer shares his experiences with his family in “Why Mother’s Need Their Sleep.”

House Speaker Tim Jones commenced a series of retaliatory purges on April 25 (read about it here), removing a total of four State Representatives from key committee duties based on voting their conscience in opposition to the Students First / Rex Sinquefield education agenda.  The Association asks that you take a moment to thank those legislators who stood with local educators and now face the consequences for doing so.

First, the Speaker removed Reps. Denny Hoskins  and Jeff Messenger from the House Fiscal Review Committee after they opposed SB 125  on April 25.  The bill had bi-partisan opposition and failed to advance on a 4-4 tie vote.  The Speaker immediately removed Messenger and Hoskins (members of his own party) from the committee, apparently in retaliation for their vote against the bill.

Later that same day, the Speaker expanded his purge by removing Reps. Elaine Gannon and Mike Thomson from the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.  Both Gannon and Thomson had consistently joined with minority caucus members on the committee in opposing the harmful changes in HB 631 and later in SB 125.

The Association appreciates the brave stance taken by all those who voted against HB 631 and SB 125, despite the Speaker’s intense pressure tactics and retaliation.

Being singled out for these retaliatory tactics is a difficult thing to endure.  Please take a moment to reach out and call, write or send an email thanking these legislators who stood with local educators and now face bullying tactics and retaliation from the Speaker:

Rep. Elaine Gannon – (573) 751-7735, Elaine.Gannon@house.mo.gov


Rep. Denny Hoskins - (573) 751-4302, 
Denny.Hoskins@house.mo.gov


Rep. Jeff Messenger – (573) 751-2381, 
Jeff.Messenger@house.mo.gov


Rep. Mike Thomson – (573) 751-9465, 
Mike.Thomson@house.mo.gov

Republicans in the Missouri Legislature have finally pushed their ALEC (American thCA88Q1RILegislative Exchange Council) written “Paycheck Deception” bill to the House floor for debate.  This bill is also supported by the US Chamber of (foreign) Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other corporate lobby groups.

Ironically, they use the name “Paycheck Protection” to describe their plan to force workers to authorize deductions from their paycheck every year.  These authorizations are voluntarily given in the first place and can be withdrawn at anytime under current law.  The same can’t be said for corporate shareholders who currently have no say in how their dividends are spent.  Missouri Republicans evidently have no concerns with this contradiction.

The Economic Policy Institute details the real reasons with it’s report The Paycheck Protection Racket, Tilting the political playing field toward corporate power and away from working Americans.

In the spring of 2013, Missouri lawmakers are debating two bills that seek to limit the ability of state employees and Missouri workers in general to pay union dues that help fund political advocacy. These bills—dubbed “paycheck protection” by their supporters—are part of a national effort to restrict the role of unions in politics. Proponents of Missouri’s Senate Bill 29 and House Bill 64 claim that these bills will save taxpayers money, will remove the government from the role of collecting money used for political purposes, and will increase workers’ control over how their wages are spent.

The Missouri bills are part of a 15-year effort to promote “paycheck protection” legislation, advanced in states across the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the National Federation of Independent Business, and other corporate lobbies. This history sheds critical light on the logic of the bills currently under debate in Missouri.

On close examination, it is clear that these bills will not create new rights for Missouri employees, and will significantly tilt the political playing field by enabling unlimited corporate political spending while restricting political spending of organized workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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