Franklin County Democrats

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

Browsing Posts published in July, 2013

This week’s audio netcast features an interview with Andrew Levinson, author of The White Working Class, Who They Are, How They Think, and How Progressives Can Gain Their Support.

Andrew discusses the declining race divide and the emerging realization that class is the driving force in modern politics as GOP policies are decimating the middle class and creating a growing class of working poor.

Reality confirms his prediction if this AP story, 4 0f 5 Americans live in danger of falling into poverty, joblessness is any indication.

Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliancephotojournalists against poverty on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

Photo is from a collection at americanpoverty.org

Here’s a video of workers at a St. Louis McDonald’s on strike today.  Thousands of low-wage workers around the country are on strike.  What will it take to solve the massive income inequality in America?  Actions just like these!

A tip of the hat for your bravery and determination strikers.  Please accept this tribute in the form of the classic labor song Which Side Are You On performed by Pete Seeger.

MSN Money is carrying this story on the 5 Worst Companies To Work For.  You will recognize all of these firms and may have worked for some of them, especially since one is St. Louis based.  This company is known among those of us that have helped others find work as a sure bet for $10 p/hour and miserable working conditions.

Have you worked for one of these companies? Was it the worst? How could it have been better?

Did your employer use one or all of the 5 Most Useless Motivational Tactics Used By Employers?    How about the Wal-Mart cheer?

Columnist Joe Nocera goes for the heart of the libertarian/right-wing Republican fetish of deregulation in his piece The Baby Formula Barometer.

So problem No. 1: At a time when China is trying to build a domestic economy to match its export economy, there is a complete lack of faith in Chinese companies. “It is not about branding,” an American businessman living in Shanghai told me (he feared consequences to his business if he let me use his name). Rather, he said, there is a sense among consumers that no matter what the industry, too many Chinese businesspeople are willing to scam their own customers to make a buck.

With corner-cutting deeply ingrained as a Chinese business practice, it’s really up to the government to change that ethos through regulation and enforcement. But while the central government is more than happy to pass nice-sounding laws, there is virtually no enforcement, and no real culture of regulation either. That’s problem No. 2. Provincial governments that are supposed to oversee, say, the food supply, are often either in on the scam, or look the other way because they fear that a crackdown might impede economic growth. And officials are evaluated almost exclusively on the basis of growth. Problem No. 3: bad incentives.

And if your car does break down in six months because a supplier sold faulty parts — or your child dies from tainted infant formula? There’s not a thing you can do. Yes, when a big scandal breaks, some crooks go to prison, but even the biggest scandals don’t lead to systematic change. Nor is there any way to seek recompense in the courts; in the West, that has long served to help keep companies on the straight and narrow. The lack of a real rule of law is problem No. 4.

In addition to the problems of doing business with a country that’s products are so suspect their own people don’t want to buy them but this country welcomes these same products tariff-free with minimal inspection n the name of Free Trade this lack of government involvement in a libertarian’s dream.

In the United States, of course, it has become religion among conservatives to denounce regulation, saying it stifles business and hinders economic growth. But consider: At the turn of the last century, America was as riddled with scam artists as China is today. Snake oil salesmen — literally — abounded. Food safety was a huge issue. In 1906, however, Upton Sinclair published “The Jungle,” his exposé-novel about the meatpacking industry. That book, pointed out Stanley Lubman, a longtime expert in Chinese law, in a recent blog post in The Wall Street Journal, is what propelled Theodore Roosevelt to propose the Food and Drug Administration. Which, in turn, reformed meat-processing — among many other things — and gave consumers confidence in the food they ate and the products they bought.

Here’s hoping policymakers wake up before our kids don’t.  As far as deregulation being a religion among conservatives, I hope they join REM in Losing My Religion. 

This week’s edition of Time magazine features  a lengthy story on Pope Francis that asks “Will Francis” personal humility and focus on poverty help revive the church’s fortunes on his home continent?”

The article discusses the decline of Catholicism in Latin America from a high of 90% to it’sPope francis i born jorge mario bergoglio first angelus prayer vatican th march Stock Photography current 72%.  A sign of hope is the return of the church to it’s historical purpose.

Francis’ unabashed championing of the poor and his criticism of the  heartlessness of financial markets have had the effect of returning the church  to its ancient strength: the pursuit of social justice.

Could this help turn around the decline of the church in North America and the growing numbers of non-believers?

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).

For the church’s sake let’s hope Pope Francis is right…

The dramatic change is that Francis seems to have quite consciously decided that  the efforts of the church–for its own long-term interests–are best expended on  economic issues. If the past four months are any indication, that shift  resonates with the faithful and those who have drifted away. Near the church of  Santa Maria Consolatrice in Rome, an area hard hit by Europe’s economic crisis,  many storefronts are empty. But, says Father Giovanni Biallo, who runs the  parish, the working-class parishioners have been deeply touched by what Francis  has had to say. “Every Sunday,” says Biallo, “there is someone coming into the  church and confessing after many years.” He says young people are especially  moved by the message of simplicity. “Gay marriage is not the world’s first  priority right now. The economy is. The crisis can be a good moment to come back  to the real needs of the people.”

This week the Obama administration floated a trail balloon of appointing Larry Summers to replace Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  Count me as a NO on this appointment.  His record of sexist comments, encouragement of deregulation, in particular the repeal of Glass-Steagall and regulation of derivatives, and support of Free Trade clearly make his judgement questionable.

The New Republic takes a more understanding if not supportive view in The New Larry Summers Looks Like The Old Larry Summers.

I should say that cataloguing this stuff is slightly awkward for me because, whatever his faults, I kind of like Larry Summers. I enjoyed speaking with him while I was reporting my book. I thought he was on balance a force for good in the Obama administration, and I have enormous respect for his intellect. But Fed chairman simply isn’t the right job for someone with his shortcomings. (See my previous post for why that is.) In the end, I don’t think Obama is doing Summers any favors by pushing him for it. The longer the White House holds him up as the top candidate, the more damaging it will be to Summers himself, because the list of drawbacks really is quite lengthy.

 

You can get an autographed copy of this cartoon…

If you missed it you will love Stephen Colbert’s bit on the McDonald’s website that provides budget advice to employee’s.  Enjoy and have a great day!

This blog is devoted to politics, not sceince but this story from DailyKos is too good not to share.  Researchers have developed a way to stop Down’s Syndrome in cultured stem cells from a patient.  The article is a great read and does contain some political news that sounds once again like proven facts to progressives and screeching to discredited conservatives.

As in almost all “breakthroughs,” this is the result of years of hard slogging in the lab, of creative minds working together to make conceptual leaps and solve a myriad of technical problems. Brilliant. The work was funded in part by your tax dollars via NIH grant money. There was also  public/private collaboration with Merck, which had some of the molecular tools needed to carry out the gene targeting work.

So congratulations taxpayers and sceintists, together another great thing has been accomplished.  How long would we have waited for the “private sector” to do this on their own?

Dean Baker refutes opponents to Buy American provisions included in the stimulus and trade agreements.  These programs have also helped reduce the budget deficit.

For this reason we should be thankful that we did not have trade agreements in place in 2009 that would have prohibited the “Buy American” provision that was needed for passage of the stimulus.

This is a fact that should be kept in mind in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership and U.S.-E.U. trade agreements. We must recognize that most governments seem to have a bias against running large budget deficits, even when large deficits are needed to boost their economies back to full employment. In this context, the political value of including home country preferences in stimulus packages is likely to dwarf whatever losses might be incurred by paying higher prices for goods and services.

In fact, virtually all countries are likely to come out ahead in this story. Whatever business U.S. trading partners may have lost because of the “Buy American” provisions in the stimulus were dwarfed by increased exports to the U.S. as a result of the growth created by the stimulus.

It would be nice to think that we won’t be in a situation again where we need another large stimulus package, but does anyone really believe this? If we want these trade deals to be a boost rather than an impediment to growth, they will have to leave some room for home country preferences for government expenditures.

 

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