Monday, January 14, 2013

Your PM Update: Too Bad Aaron Swartz Wasn't "Too Big To Fail"

Hi.  I just got this one.  In the second section below is Bill Moyer's interview with Paul Krugman,
on the subject of Krugman's op-ed in today's NY Times.  Moyer's gifted discource adds to this
morning's mailing.  I think we're almost hitting the wall on the current, ever more restrictive and
destructive process, while Krugman and Moyers are not alone is these predictions and solutions;
coming from respected, powerful voices, that is.  So, it behooves us to pay attention.

From: Campaign for America's Future []
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2013 1:13 PM
Subject: Your PM Update: Too Bad Aaron Swartz Wasn't "Too Big To Fail"

Campaign for America's Future
JANUARY 14, 2013
Aaron Swartz Was Gifted and Brave. Too Bad He Wasn’t “Too Big to Fail”
By all accounts Aaron Swartz was brilliant, gifted, idealistic … and fragile. What a tragedy that he wasn't "too big to fail." I didn't know Aaron, but I know a lot of people who did. I learned about his suicide at the age of 26 the same way millions of other people did: on the Internet whose freedom he served with such dedication and brilliance. His death, just before his coming prosecution by the United States Department of Justice, brought to mind a line from the London Times' famous 1967 editorial protesting prosecutorial overreach in the drug trial of Mick Jagger: "Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?"
Paul Krugman Explains The Keys To Our Recovery
Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argues that saving money is not the path to economic recovery. Instead, he says, we should put aside our excessive focus on the deficit, try to overcome political recalcitrance, and spend money to put America back to work. Krugman offers specific solutions to not only end what he calls a “vast, unnecessary catastrophe,” but to do it more quickly than some imagine possible. His latest book, End This Depression Now!, is both a warning of the fiscal perils ahead and a prescription to safely avoid them.
The Debt Sequester Mash Up
I'm sure the White It's possible the White HOuse will stare down the GOP this time on the debt ceiling and the GOP will back down. But after all that's come before the GOP has every reason to believe it will be the White House that blinks. We all do. It's almost impossible for me to believe that they will allow Armageddon (for real, this time, honest) to happen on their watch.
Let's Pay Our Bills
Sometimes when I get a bill I don't feel like paying it. But I do, because I'm a responsible adult. If I don't pay my bills, I get in trouble. It's true for a family and for a government. Republicans in Congress are creating another manufactured default crisis. Raising the debt limit doesn't authorize new spending. It just allows the United States to pay our bills for money that Congress already spent. Refusing to honor their commitments would mean undermining our nation's credit rating and stiffing Americans on money they are owed.
Adjust Social Security For Inflation That Hurts The Elderly
Washington's elites are all Very Seriously concerned that even though Social Security currently has a huge trust fund, the program might "go broke" many, many years in the future. To address this Very Serious problem of Social Security possibly running a bit short of funds way off in the future, the geniuses in DC are proposing to change the way the program's payments are adjusted for inflation, bringing in something called "Chained-CPI." If they do this it means big cuts in what people receive in the future. However, there is an actual problem with the way the program is adjusted for inflation and that is that the things the elderly have to spend money on have a higher inflation rate than the rate used for the program's adjustments.
Weekend's Most Important Obama Administration Statement Was Not That The Trillion Dollar Coin Idea Was A Nonstarter
The U.S. Treasury yesterday dashed the hopes and dreams of many in the blogosphere when it announced that neither it nor the Federal Reserve saw the idea of a $1 trillion platinum coin as a realistic alternative to raising the debt ceiling. But the White House's statements about the 14th amendment and the platinum coin keep the focus laser beam-like on Congress. The only question now is whether the House GOP will play legislative chicken with the increase in the debt ceiling that will be needed some time in late February or will cave when the time comes.
Swell Times for America's Swollen Fortunes
All those millions that CEOs and hedge fund managers have grabbed over recent decades? Our current tax code won't let us grab them back.
America Is Not In Decline Or Retreat — We are about to have a major foreign policy debate in the guise of a confirmation battle over Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense and the related argument over how long American troops should stay in Afghanistan. President Obama should use this opportunity to stand up for his broader vision of how American power can be sustained and used, even if that doesn't come naturally to a pragmatist who likes making decisions one at a time. Underlying this clash will be another over whether the United States is in long-term decline. We are not, and the decline discussion should not scare us. We seem to have it every few decades.
Japan Steps Out — For three years economic policy throughout the advanced world has been paralyzed, despite high unemployment, by a dismal orthodoxy. Every suggestion of action to create jobs has been shot down with warnings of dire consequences. If we spend more, the Very Serious People say, the bond markets will punish us. If we print more money, inflation will soar. Nothing should be done because nothing can be done, except ever harsher austerity, which will someday, somehow, be rewarded. But now it seems that one major nation is breaking ranks — and that nation is, of all places, Japan.
What the Economy Needs Is Growth (But Washington Isn't Talking About It) — If there’s anything frustrating about American politics at this moment, it’s the disappearance of mass unemployment as an area of elite concern. Now that joblessness is on the decline, Washington has moved away from efforts to further address the problem, despite the fact that unemployment isn’t expected to reach pre-recession levels for another four years. You can say the same for Washington’s attitude towards growth. Gross domestic product increased by 3.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012, up from 1.3 percent in the second quarter, and 1.9 percent in the first. Average GDP for the year will probably fall near 2 percent. Compared to the rest of the world, this is a solid recovery. But compared to what we need to close our output gap and begin to return to normalcy, it’s far from adequate. Despite this, neither Congress nor the White House seem interested in finding ways to generate more growth. Instead, both are preoccupied with austerity.
Bold New Conservative Ideas Still Mostly Involve Screwing The Poor — The Republicans, we’re told, are going to have to start making some big changes if they want to start winning elections again. (Besides all the congressional elections they handily win.) Americans are tired of their stale rhetoric and old, white standard-bearers. The party needs fresh blood and bold ideas. It needs people like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a GOP rising star and highly regarded “ideas” guy. After the election, Jindal told Politico that the Republicans had to totally rebrand themselves to escape being known as “the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything.” And so Bobby Jindal’s big new idea for Louisiana is …eliminating all income taxes. And shifting the tax burden onto poor and working people.
Fighting Education Shock Therapy — The watchword of austerity, “there is no alternative,” connotes painful cuts and layoffs adopted by fiscally shot local governments. In practice, though, this is a contradiction in terms: the politics of austerity are also a politics of imaginative restructuring, in which fiscal crisis is a cover for what Clintonites called “reinventing government” or, as partisans of Naomi Klein might prefer, “shock therapy.” The lie is starkest in the realm of education policy, where the Obama administration prescribes a slate of options for impoverished communities receiving federal School Improvement Grants. These range from “turnarounds,” which replace the principal and at least half of school staff, to charterization or outright closure. The catch with turnarounds and closings? Urban schools affected by them house more students of color than those left alone. As such, a growing national movement argues, the implementation of these policies systematically violates Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits race-based discrimination in federally funded programs.
How Our Universities Have Been Turned into Corporate Marketing Centers — The "ivory tower" of academia has become overshadowed by a new edifice on campus that is reaching ridiculous heights: the tower of mammon. As public universities have been driven by budget-whacking lawmakers to seek ever-more private funding, schools that once prided themselves as being centers of free thinking are increasingly dominated by corporate-think, turning their institutions into sales centers. "A lot of schools are taking a much more corporate approach," exulted a PRexecutive who works with top university administrators, marveling that "a CMO didn't even exist on most campuses 10 years ago." A what? A chief marketing officer, whose job is to peddle the place like it's a new model of car or line of cosmetics. Forget intellectual pursuits, we're talking about pursuing buyers, in the brave new academic marketplace. This results in colleges resorting to the same kind of ridiculous come-ons that hawkers of consumer products often barf-up.
Why the NRA is Becoming the "Great Oz" — For years the NRA has struck terror into the hearts of many Members of Congress. The organization's officers and lobbyists purported to represent the interests and wishes of millions of American gun owners. Members of Congress believed that negative NRA ratings -- and a flood of NRA money -- could sink their political careers faster than you could say "AR-15." But the American people, and Members of Congress, are gradually awaking to the fact that -- just as with the Wizard of Oz -- there isn't much behind the NRA's magic curtain but the big booming voice of a special interest bully whose power derives more from perception than reality. It is of course true that in politics the perception of power translates into the reality of power. The problem is that once it becomes clear that you're all hat and no cattle, the myth of power rapidly collapses into a pile of dust. That is exactly what is happening to the NRA. Here's why.
Republicans In Congress Lack Diversity — For all the talk of the increased diversity in the new Congress, you won’t find it on the Republican side. For the first time in history, the majority of Democratic members in the House will not be white males. This is a good thing. Of the 200 Democrats in the House, 61 are women (including three nonvoting members), 43 African-American (including two nonvoting members), 23 Latino and 10 Asian. The Democratic Caucus truly looks like America, circa 2013. But not the Republican Caucus. With the departure of Reps. Allen West (defeated) and Tim Scott (promoted), there will be no black GOP House members. And because there are very few other GOP women or men of color, as a consequence, the Republican Caucus is 89 percent white male.

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