Franklin County Democrats

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

Browsing Posts published in May, 2014

Please take a moment and check out this trailer from the upcoming film Can’t Take It No More.  If you are moved to help complete this film byMichael kiley.small joining others through Kickstarter it would  be greatly appreciated by these WalMart workers.

You get more of what you support and less of what you don’t!

Andy Borowitz shares his thoughts on President Obama’s comments at the graduation ceremony for Army officers this week.

WEST POINT (The Borowitz Report)—President Obama raised eyebrows with his West Point commencement address Wednesday by offering a defense of his controversial foreign-policy doctrine of not invading countries for no reason.

Conservative critics were taken aback by Obama’s speech, which was riddled with incendiary remarks about only using military force for a clearly identified and rational purpose.

Obama did not shy away from employing polarizing rhetoric, often using words such as “responsible” and “sensible” to underscore his message.

Harland Dorrinson, a fellow at the conservative think tank the Center for Global Intervention, said that he was “stunned” to see Obama “defend his failure to engage the United States in impulsive and random military adventures.”

Educated States

This blog has made reference to the bestseller by Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. in a few different posts.  Those with neither the time or interestPiketty book in reading a book on economics, even an influential one such as this, please enjoy this 3 minute video from the BBC.  This video covers the basic premise of the book and you can go on with your day all the wiser.

If you are overcome with the need for more Piketty, TooMuchOnline.org has devoted an entire section to Mr. Piketty and how his ideas relate to modern America.

This week’s audio netcast:  As the nation celebrates Memorial Day, Princeton Professor Danielle Allen examines the power of words in the Declaration of Independence to bring us liberty AND equality. Hillary Clinton. Will she or won’t she? Regular commentator Fred Rotondaro says the Democratic nomination is NOT hers for the asking, but it would be a big surprise if she doesn’t get it. And Bill Press talks with The Nation’s Zoe Carpenter about immigration reform and Republican politics.

Salon has the latest from David Atkins, How the rich stole our money – and made us think they were doing us a favor.

If you’ve paid attention to the economy over the last few years, you’ve doubtless seen the charts and figures showing the decline of the American middle class in concert with the explosion of wealth for the super-rich. Wages have stagnated over the last 40 years even as productivity has increased, which is another way of saying that Americans are working harder but getting paid less. Unemployment remains stubbornly high even though corporate profits and the stock market are at or near record highs. Passive assets in the form of stocks and real estate, in other words, are doing very well. Wages for working people are not. Unfortunately for the middle class, however, the top 1 percent of incomes own almost 50 percent of asset wealth, and the top 10 percent own over 85 percent of it. When assets do well but wages don’t, the middle class suffers.

That last sentence was exactly the point of Capital in the Twenty-First century, the best seller by Thomas Piketty.

So why isn’t the 99 percent in open revolt? The answer lies in part because the top 1 percent have done an excellent job disguising the upward transfer of wealth by making the rest of us feel better off than we actually are while enriching themselves in the process.

Great plan, how did they do it?  Details of these reasons are in the article…

  1. Push people away from defined-benefit pensions and into stocks and 401(k)s.
  2. Push more people into buying real estate, and increase home prices by all means possible.
  3.  Democratize consumer debt, especially through credit cards.
  4. Reduce the cost of goods through free trade policies.

 

All of these moves toward increasing the value of assets do directly benefit the wealthy. But more important, they have served to create a more purely capitalist society, hide the decline of the middle class and mitigate public discontent over stagnant wages. There are many problems with this, of course. The first is that the vast preponderance of wealth will accrue to the very top incomes in an economy where assets inflate while wages deflate. The second is that a purely asset-based economy is bubble-prone, deeply unstable and given to sharp and painful boom-bust cycles. The story of the last half-decade is in part the removal of the blindfold that has been hiding wage losses over the last half-century. Housing prices have skyrocketed beyond the ability of most people under 40 to afford, even as household debt nears record highs. Nearly half of Americans have no retirement savings at all, while much of the rest of the developed world faces a pension obligation crisis.

The tools policymakers have used to distract the public from the raw deal of low wages are no longer working. And that may more than anything else help usher in a new era of populist progressivism in the U.S. — if, that is, the Democratic Party can shift itself away from reinforcing the asset-based economy toward rebuilding a sustainable model that encourages wage growth and a strong labor market.

Recently, headlines regarding the U.S. Justice Department indicting five Chinese military officers for cybercrime appeared nationwide.  There is skepticism that these Chinese officers will ever see the inside of  an American courtroom.  In fact, this indictment has already resulted in a backlash from the Chinese government and counter-charges that are likely the first symptoms of a metastasizing crisis.

Of course, there are procedures for dealing with nations that engage in illegal activity.  It’s just that they are very slow and require actual losses of American knowledge, revenue, and jobs before they can even be pursued.  On rare occasion these procedures actually work, if you call it that, as demonstrated by the recent win by the United States over China regarding auto parts in a formal WTO (World Trade Organization) decision.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the duties were part of a pattern of “illegal and improper activities” conducted by the Chinese.

“China has had 14 years to start playing by the rules, but instead we see illegal and improper activities over and over again,” Stabenow said. “As long as China keeps up this illegal behavior, we can and must respond with these kinds of strong enforcement actions.

Hooray! A trade case win that took years to accomplish.  Great news unless you are one of the American business owners, investors, workers, or communities that has already gone under thanks to this abuse of trade policy.  Is there a system that would allow for more timely results, even possibly stopping the damage before Americans have their life’s work destroyed?

Yes there is.  In a post on this blog almost a year ago on this topic it was noted…

I remember Congressman Kenny Hulshof assuring folks from Franklin County that PNTR with China, which removed the annual review of our relationship with China and the ability to revoke preferred trade status by increasing tariffs if they were doing something, like hacking, we found objectionable would be great for the United States.

Opponents of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China argued the annual review was an effective way to monitor and maintain relations with the aggressive communist nation sporting a record of economic, trade, and human rights problems.

Once again, labor and opponents were outspent and outgunned by the multinational corporations that have since outsourced thousands of factories, millions of jobs, and created billions in U.S. trade deficits with their PNTR “victory.”  That’s not even mentioning removing our ability to tackle issues like hacking without a lengthy World Trade Organization process that is our current remedy. 

So if Kenny Hulshof and his free trade friends had listened to the AFL-CIO, Trade Analysts, and the busload of folks from Franklin County that accompanied me to a protest of PNTR with China and maintained our annual review of Chinese trade practices this toothless indictment saga could have been avoided.  Americans losing their businesses and jobs could have been avoided.  By maintaining our sovereignty and reviewing the activities of Chinese hackers followed by the implementation of tariffs designed to negate any Chinese advantage obtained through illegal activity this could have been avoided.

The Chinese would have lost the incentive to undermine American industry due to the tariffs and domestic industry and workers could have continued to compete on a level playing field thanks to a government that took timely, effective action to protect it’s own.

Of course, a bi-lateral trade relationship that ensures other nations don’t undercut American business and labor through unfair trade practices also would have accomplished the same goal.  Just as it did for almost 200 years before the Free Trade scam suckered our legislators at the expense of their constituents.

 

While area legislators have been tooting their own horn about their “accomplishments” in this year’s recently concluded session it seemed like a good time to hear from another part of the state.  The Kansas City Star ran this opinion, Freewheeling legislature puts Missouri in a hole

The General Assembly’s Republican majority has shown a callous disregard for schoolchildren, working families and middle-income Missourians. This year, it couldn’t even be bothered with the well-being of the state’s future finances.

Nixon should veto the irresponsible late-session bills. And citizens should insist on a more responsible legislature.

Elections this August and November would be a good time to send the message.

 

As a constituent of U.S. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer I signed up to receive e-mail updates on the off chance that Mr. Lemmingmeyer might veer off the same course as his corporate funders/tea party backers.  It hasn’t happened yet.

The latest example of his lockstep compliance is Blaine’s Bulletin – VA Scandal a National Disgrace.  This fine piece of literature is devoted to using the tragic situation at the Phoenix VA  Hospital to engage in an attack on federal workers.  Surprised?

The surprise is how Representative Lemmingmeyer chose to ignore his party’s history on the issue of Veterans Health Care to make this statement…

We have a duty to those who served and put their lives, limbs and minds on the line for our freedom. It has always been the American way and must continue to be so. Those who deserve to be punished should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Our veterans deserve to know that their nation still cares, and will fight to deliver the care and benefits they deserve as recognition for their service.

So true, now if the GOP would be consistent on the issue.   DailyKos is reporting that Republicans outraged over treatment of veterans filibustered better health care for veterans in February.

U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget.

Even though the legislation cleared a procedural vote on Tuesday by a 99-0 vote, the measure quickly got bogged down in partisan fighting. [...]

Referring to recent budget deals that aim to bring down federal deficits, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said: “This bill would spend more than we agreed to spend. The ink is hardly dry and here we have another bill to raise that spending again.”

What was all that talk about “We have a duty to those who served and put their lives, limbs and minds on the line for our freedom.”

Being Saturday, please enjoy Jon Stewart and his walk down the inconvenient memory lane that the GOP would just as soon keep hidden.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart exposes the contradictory, less than principled position of the National Rifle Association regarding gun safety and smart guns.

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