Franklin County Democrats

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

Browsing Posts published in May, 2016

Over the years I have posted many links to free movies, books, magazine subscriptions, etc.  One of the most powerful is the Truthout free copy of Thom Hartmann’s book Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became “People” and How You Can Fight Back.

This book will change your understanding of both the political and legal systems in America.  When folks talk about a “rigged” system often their examples are vague and sound somewhat like conspiracy theories.  This book will detail specific ways in which the average American is at a distinct disadvantage to the legal entities of “corporate personhood.”

Truthout is proud to bring you an exclusive series from America’s No. 1 progressive radio host, Thom Hartmann. We’ll be publishing weekly installments of Hartmann’s much-lauded book, “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ‘People’ and How You Can Fight Back.” Join us as, chapter by chapter, we delve into issues of corporate power, popular resistance and the nature of democracy itself.Unequal Protection How Corporations Became People and How You Can Fight Back

Introduction: The Battle to Save Democracy

Part I: Corporations Take Over

Chapter One: The Deciding Moment?

Chapter Two: The Corporate Conquest of America

Part II: From the Birth of American Democracy through the Birth of Corporate Personhood 

Chapter Three: Banding Together for the Common Good

Chapter Four: The Boston Tea Party Revealed

Chapter Five: Jefferson Versus the Corporate Aristocracy

Chapter Six: The Early Role of Corporations in America

Chapter Seven: The People’s Masters

Chapter Eight: Corporations Go Global

Chapter Nine: The Court Takes the Presidency

Chapter Ten: Protecting Corporate Liars

Chapter Eleven: Corporate Control of Politics

Part III: Unequal Consequences

Chapter Twelve: Unequal Uses for the Bill of Rights

Chapter Thirteen: Unequal Regulation

Chapter Fourteen: Unequal Protection from Risk

Chapter Fifteen: Unequal Taxes

Chapter Sixteen: Unequal Responsibility for Crime

Chapter Seventeen: Unequal Privacy

Chapter Eighteen: Unequal Citizenship and Access to the Commons

Chapter Nineteen: Unequal Wealth

Chapter Twenty: Unequal Trade

Chapter Twenty-One: Unequal Media

Chapter Twenty-Two: Unequal Influence

Chapter Twenty-Three: Capitalists and Americans Speak Out for Community

Chapter Twenty-Four: End Corporate Personhood

Chapter Twenty-Five: A New Entrepreneurial Boom

Chapter Twenty-Six: A Democratic Marketplace

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Restoring Government, of, by, and for the People

Memorial Day

The current edition of Wired features 10 Years After An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore May Actually Be Winning...

Outside Gore’s New York City office, spring has certainly sprung—early too. This March was the hottest one ever, beating the prior record set in March 2015. The same goes for February and January of this year, and, oh, the eight consecutive months before. Gore knows these statistics by heart. The fact that you might know them too is likely because of him. These kinds of numbers—and the scary story they tell about the future of Earth—have been Gore’s chief motivation since he failed to win the presidency in 2000. Gore emerged from that weird, disputed election armed with what is now possibly the most famous slide­show in human history. He has traveled the world delivering that deck to hundreds of people at a time, showing in irrefutable detail just how mind-bogglingly badly we have treated our planet and what we might be able to do about it.Inconvenient Truth

Ten years ago, the slide­show became An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary that spread those ideas to millions. Gore says he still tinkers with the slide­show every day, because, well, the numbers keep changing. Not always for the better. Yet this year Gore and his fellow activists have a rare reason to celebrate. In April, 175 world leaders gathered at the United Nations to sign the Paris Agreement, a global pact that aims to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Now, a decade after his movie sounded the alarm about climate change and 16 years after he ran for president, it looks like Al Gore might finally be … winning?

But there’s a reason President Obama had to initiate his Clean Power Plan without Congress. How do you think we got to this place politically?

Well, to begin with, our democracy has been hacked. It is shockingly unresponsive to considerations of the public interest. But I think technology can come to the rescue here. When the printing press was the dominant medium, as it was when the United States was founded and the Constitution was written, individuals were able to enter the virtual public square and use ideas and the best available evidence as a source of political power. When television displaced print as the principal source of information, the architecture of that new information ecosystem changed radically. Instead of having low entry barriers, people encountered gatekeepers. Money came to dominate policymaking. The third information ecosystem of the modern era, which is Internet-based and includes social media, once again features extremely low entry barriers for individuals and favors a meritocracy of ideas. When members of Congress, who used to be beholden to special interests, are confronted by individuals and small groups who can crowdsource fund-­raising for candidates, that begins to restore the kind of representative democracy that our founders dreamed of.

What do you think President Obama’s climate legacy will be? He’s done a lot to spur investment in renewables, for example.

I think he’s building an unparalleled climate legacy. He supported legislation in the spring of 2009 that passed the House of Representatives. The legislation stalled in the Senate, and the balance of his first term turned out to be somewhat disappointing where climate is concerned. But starting with his inaugural address at the beginning of his second term, he launched a series of new initiatives on climate. Faced with the opposition he’s encountered in Congress, he came up with the Clean Power Plan. He successfully negotiated a bilateral agreement with China that completely reshaped the prospects for negotiation in Paris. He improved the mileage standards for automobiles in his first term and has continued to do more there. He’s now turned to the issue of methane emissions, and the list goes on.

The Atlantic magazine us carrying a fascinating piece this month that shares A Psychologist Analyzes Donald Trump’s Personality.  This is a heck of a read and as a bonus a few previous presidents are examined in an attempt to figure out what kind of leader their personality led them to be.Ass on fire

In creating this portrait, I will draw from well-validated concepts in the fields of personality, developmental, and social psychology. Ever since Sigmund Freud analyzed the life and art of Leonardo da Vinci, in 1910, scholars have applied psychological lenses to the lives of famous people. Many early efforts relied upon untested, nonscientific ideas. In recent years, however, psychologists have increasingly used the tools and concepts of psychological science to shed light on notable lives, as I did in a 2011 book on George W. Bush. A large and rapidly growing body of research shows that people’s temperament, their characteristic motivations and goals, and their internal conceptions of themselves are powerful predictors of what they will feel, think, and do in the future, and powerful aids in explaining why. In the realm of politics, psychologists have recently demonstrated how fundamental features of human personality—such as extroversion and narcissism—shaped the distinctive leadership styles of past U. S. presidents, and the decisions they made. While a range of factors, such as world events and political realities, determine what political leaders can and will do in office, foundational tendencies in human personality, which differ dramatically from one leader to the next, are among them.

Another assessment of The Donald was provided recently by Senator Elizabeth Warren in this speech at the Center for Popular Democracy.   The first two minutes of the video reveal her opinion of the man.

Unfortunately, if you’ve been watching the presidential race, you know that we need to stand up now more than ever. Just yesterday, it came out that Donald Trump had said back in 2007 that he was “excited” for the real estate market to crash because, quote, “I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.” That’s right. The rest of us were horrified by the 2008 financial crisis, by what happened to the millions of families like Mr. Estrada’s that were forced out of their homes. But Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown – because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap.

What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions? Root for two little girls in Clark County, Nevada, to end up living in a van? What kind of a man does that? I’ll tell you exactly what kind—a man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure moneygrubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it. What kind of man does that? A man who will NEVER be President of the United States.

Time will tell if Senator Warren is telling the truth which is one thing Donald Trump has a hard time doing according to PolitFact which awarded Mr. Trump their distinguished Lie of The Year for 2015.

PolitiFact has named Donald Trump the winner of its annual “Lie of the Year” competition — and it’s not even close.

The fact-checking website has rated 76 percent of Trump’s statements “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire,” out of 77 statements checked. “No other politician has as many statements rated so far down on the dial,” PolitiFact observes.

 

Rana Farohaar, shares a chapter of her book Makers and Takers n this segment from Time magazine, American Capitalism’s Greatest Crisis…

How Wall Street is choking our economy and how to fix itforooharbook

A couple of weeks ago, a poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics found something startling: only 19% of Americans ages 18 to 29 identified themselves as “capitalists.” In the richest and most market-oriented country in the world, only 42% of that group said they “supported capitalism.” The numbers were higher among older people; still, only 26% considered themselves capitalists. A little over half supported the system as a whole.

This represents more than just millennials not minding the label “socialist” or disaffected middle-aged Americans tiring of an anemic recovery. This is a majority of citizens being uncomfortable with the country’s economic foundation—a system that over hundreds of years turned a fledgling society of farmers and prospectors into the most prosperous nation in human history. To be sure, polls measure feelings, not hard market data. But public sentiment reflects day-to-day economic reality. And the data (more on that later) shows Americans have plenty of concrete reasons to question their system.

Reasons To Question The System

To understand how we got here, you have to understand the relationship between capital markets—meaning the financial system—and businesses. From the creation of a unified national bond and banking system in the U.S. in the late 1790s to the early 1970s, finance took individual and corporate savings and funneled them into productive enterprises, creating new jobs, new wealth and, ultimately, economic growth. Of course, there were plenty of blips along the way (most memorably the speculation leading up to the Great Depression, which was later curbed by regulation). But for the most part, finance—which today includes everything from banks and hedge funds to mutual funds, insurance firms, trading houses and such—essentially served business. It was a vital organ but not, for the most part, the central one.

Over the past few decades, finance has turned away from this traditional role. Academic research shows that only a fraction of all the money washing around the financial markets these days actually makes it to Main Street businesses. “The intermediation of household savings for productive investment in the business sector—the textbook description of the financial sector—constitutes only a minor share of the business of banking today,” according to academics Oscar Jorda, Alan Taylor and Moritz Schularick, who’ve studied the issue in detail. By their estimates and others, around 15% of capital coming from financial institutions today is used to fund business investments, whereas it would have been the majority of what banks did earlier in the 20th century.

Rana goes on to detail the many negative consequences on both citizens and the greater economy by this outsized role of finance in today’s world.  Reaganomics was the primary policy implement that hastened this process from bankers serving the productive economy to perverting the economy that serves us all..

America’s economic illness has a name: financialization. It’s an academic term for the trend by which Wall Street and its methods have come to reign supreme in America, permeating not just the financial industry but also much of American business. It includes everything from the growth in size and scope of finance and financial activity in the economy; to the rise of debt-fueled speculation over productive lending; to the ascendancy of shareholder value as the sole model for corporate governance; to the proliferation of risky, selfish thinking in both the private and public sectors; to the increasing political power of financiers and the CEOs they enrich; to the way in which a “markets know best” ideology remains the status quo. Financialization is a big, unfriendly word with broad, disconcerting implications.

University of Michigan professor Gerald Davis, one of the pre-eminent scholars of the trend, likens financialization to a “Copernican revolution” in which business has reoriented its orbit around the financial sector. This revolution is often blamed on bankers. But it was facilitated by shifts in public policy, from both sides of the aisle, and crafted by the government leaders, policymakers and regulators entrusted with keeping markets operating smoothly. Greta Krippner, another University of Michigan scholar, who has written one of the most comprehensive books on financialization, believes this was the case when financialization began its fastest growth, in the decades from the late 1970s onward. According to Krippner, that shift encompasses Reagan-era deregulation, the unleashing of Wall Street and the rise of the so-called ownership society that promoted owning property and further tied individual health care and retirement to the stock market.

The Consequences

This sickness, not so much the product of venal interests as of a complex and long-term web of changes in government and private industry, now manifests itself in myriad ways: a housing market that is bifurcated and dependent on government life support, a retirement system that has left millions insecure in their old age, a tax code that favors debt over equity. Debt is the lifeblood of finance; with the rise of the securities-and-trading portion of the industry came a rise in debt of all kinds, public and private. That’s bad news, since a wide range of academic research shows that rising debt and credit levels stoke financial instability. And yet, as finance has captured a greater and greater piece of the national pie, it has, perversely, all but ensured that debt is indispensable to maintaining any growth at all in an advanced economy like the U.S., where 70% of output is consumer spending. Debt-fueled finance has become a saccharine substitute for the real thing, an addiction that just gets worse. (The amount of credit offered to American consumers has doubled in real dollars since the 1980s, as have the fees they pay to their banks.)

Can we fix it?

Finding solutions won’t be easy. There are no silver bullets, and nobody really knows the perfect model for a high-functioning, advanced market system in the 21st century. But capitalism’s legacy is too long, and the well-being of too many people is at stake, to do nothing in the face of our broken status quo. Neatly packaged technocratic tweaks cannot fix it. What is required now is lifesaving intervention.

Crises of faith like the one American capitalism is currently suffering can be a good thing if they lead to re-examination and reaffirmation of first principles. The right question here is in fact the simplest one: Are financial institutions doing things that provide a clear, measurable benefit to the real economy? Sadly, the answer at the moment is mostly no. But we can change things. Our system of market capitalism wasn’t handed down, in perfect form, on stone tablets. We wrote the rules. We broke them. And we can fix them.

Working America, the branch of the AFL-CIO devoted to helping non-union working Americans has this graphic showing the impact of the new Overtime rules issued by President Obama.   A significant number of Missourians are benefiting from these rules.

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