4 Calamities destroying America’s economy that are being ignored by elites

Source: AlterNet

Author:Frithjof Bergmann

 Emphasis Mine
The world’s current economic and political structures are proving incapable of fixing the global crisis of poverty, unemployment, and dislocation from a viable way of life for the majority of the world’s population. Why? Let us begin with one present-day example: Larry Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury and also former chair of the Board of Economic Advisors, recently was the principal guest of the national radio broadcast “On Point.” The topic of the hour-long dialogue was growing “inequality.”
Summers posited that we are in an oddly slow recovery. He gave some reasons for the slowness but maintained that the measures instigated by the government (the Federal Reserve pumping funds into the economy, and the like) were fundamentally correct, and that with patience and persistence the recovery would solve the problems we have.
This basically is the position of Obama and importantly, by no means only his. Every government in every country subscribes essentially to this same apostolic faith.  That faith is pathetic and even grotesquely mistaken. It ignores the four “Tsunami” causes for the globally increasing inequality:
1. Automation: The number of jobs that have been automated out of existence in the last 30 years is astronomical. Any effort to enumerate them would be silly. Useful, on the contrary, are perhaps a few hints of the kinds of automation that are still in the future, but nonetheless just around the corner. Observe what is happening in retail –  Amazon.com, and more generally in the service sector, in banks and offices; but beyond that consider the near future of robotics, and close to that the potential of self-driving cars, and of course the galloping field of fabricators. Automation so far has only been the first breeze of an approaching hurricane.

2. A second colossal cause is globalization. Despite the nonstop discussion of that topic its basic significance is still largely misunderstood. That factory work is outsourced to lower wage countries is a belittling phrase; more accurate is the contrast between the former monopoly of a very few colonial powers and the now prevailing condition where all countries everywhere — even the Central African Republic and Borneo and Mongolia — are in development.  In other words, in all countries people are looking for jobs. Thus the supply of labor has burst through all bounds! This in turn means that the value of unskilled work has plummeted beyond human sustainability much less economic growth.
3.  Environmental degradation is growing. The depletion of natural resources is directly caused by fruitless efforts to stem unemployment.  Unemployment threatens to grow continuously and the only response we have so far marshaled is economic growth, which self-evidently is coupled to the depletion of our resources.
4. The fourth mega-force that escalates inequality everywhere is the industrialization of farming. Throughout the millennia of the Agricultural epoch approximately 75% of the population lived and worked on farms. That percentage only started to gallop away from this ratio when farming became mechanized. However, in the brief period of less than 200 years a breathtaking transformation has taken place. Worldwide 70% of farmers have been driven from their work and their land.  In country after country the percentage of people still working and living on farms has thundered downwards so that it is now in some countries only about 4%. On some continents that human migration is still in its headlong tilt: but as villages die, the former farmers do not find work;theyare absorbed in slums and sink down in the morass of extreme poverty, violence, crime, prostitution and drugs.

The really foul and grotesque dimension of this lies in its cognitive segregation, for the worldwide migration away from the farms is hardly mentioned when the deficit of jobs and the rise of inequality are discussed. In sheer numbers, this is obviously the most gargantuan cause.
It is stunning that there are whole shelves of books about the job-problem, but the reality of the loss of working on farms has rarely been included in the workforce calculations. In essence it means that 75% of the total working population have been cut off from their work and that the need to find re-employment for that huge number is part of the monster-problem that we are failing to even identify let alone solve.
If one adds these four Tsunamis together —automation, globalization, destruction of natural resources and the industrialization of farming — then it becomes obvious that the remedies now applied — stimulation of the economy, raising the minimum wage, more education and the rest — are laughably inadequate. It also becomes evident that we are emphatically not in a recovery, somnambulant or otherwise.
None of these causes are “circular,” or as it is sometimes expressed cyclical, which recoveries by definition are. All four are linear: automation, globalization, destruction of the environment and the migration away from the land will grow, far beyond where they are now, and will multiply. The inequality will become even more monstrous and more dangerous than it is now. The contrast between slums and the palaces of the superrich is already surreal and fantastic, but it will grow further and beyond our worst imaginings. The faith that we are in a circular turning wheel situation, and that automatically, obedient to the laws of economics, we move towards equilibrium, is totally unfounded.  It is just a misguided medieval superstition.

We are not turning in a circle; on the contrary we are undergoing a gigantic linear transformation that is as all changing as the shift from agriculture to industrialization.
*   *  *
Why is this a gigantic linear transformation? Because there is no circling back to a former “better” time.  The mega-factors listed have produced an enormous rift or a bifurcation. It is a split between the 20%, Oasis people (the rich) and the 80%, Desert people (the poor.)  Other groups have of course a greater liking for describing the division as between 1% and 99% but that seems too exaggerated.
New Work New Culture is a new way of looking at and actualizing how people can live in peace and prosperity, working together to provide what is needed not just for survival but for joyous fulfillment.  People of good will must stop looking back, yearning for the good old days.
New Work New Culture gives us a roadmap to take on the task to articulate a ladder that defines a practical, performable sequence of steps in detail that is realistic and manageable. By doing so we will not just alleviate the four Tsunami Calamities but give life to a rise, an ascent that has become possible with the technology that we now have.
 (Frithjof Bergmann is a retired Professor of Philosophy from the University of Michigan.  He has been writing, teaching and organizing for the ideas of New Work for more than 3 decades.  He has authored many works, including On Being Free (1977).  He is a principal organizer of the New Work New Culture conference in Detroit, Michigan from October 18-20. #NWNC2014)

Will Ferguson be a moment or a movement?

Source: Washington Post

Author: Fredrick Harris

(Fredrick Harris is a professor of political science and the director of the Center on African American Politics and Society at Columbia University. He is the author of “The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics.”)

Emphasis Mine

 

When does a moment become a movement?

Events such as the killing of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., can provide the moral shock that political movements need to build their ranks and bring attention to a community’s afflictions. They can be like the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 or the beating death of Matthew Shepard in 1998 — transformative episodes that remake perceptions and force a society to abandon abhorrent practices.

Or they can be like the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers: a horrific moment that failed to create a sustained push for broader, nationwide reforms of policing practices.

For black Americans, the outrage against the police that we’re seeing in Ferguson has appeared in roughly 10-year intervals — from the 1979 beating death of Arthur McDuffie by police, which sparked protest and violence in Miami; to the attack on King, which led to more than 50 deaths and several days of unrest in Los Angeles; to the 2001 shooting death of 19-year-old Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati, which also erupted in protest and rioting and produced a costly economic boycott against the city.

I’m optimistic that Ferguson can lead to real change. The church rallies, street demonstrations, marches, looting and targeted violence against police are familiar responses. But there are four key differences in what is unfolding in Ferguson: first, the cumulative effect of recent cases of police misconduct against black people across the nation; second, a backlash against rhetoric that blames poor black youth for the way they are treated by police; third, the use of innovative protest tactics; and finally, the support of allies beyond the black communities that are demanding justice for Brown and reforms in policing.

It’s happening again and again

Ferguson reflects the changing mood in black America, and the realization that police misconduct is not isolated to particular communities but is a nationwide crisis. Since the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by self-described neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, a series of killings of unarmed black youths by police and vigilantes has brought black frustration to the boiling point.

So perhaps America was due for another bout of unrest. But will Ferguson recede in the coming days and weeks, becoming the scene of just another tragic slaying that didn’t lead to meaningful change in police conduct toward black or brown communities? Will history remember Michael Brown less like Emmett Till and more like Rodney King?

Last September, 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell was gunned down by a white police officer in Charlotte while looking for help after a car crash. The following month, 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot to death in Dearborn Heights, Mich., by a white man who assumed that the teen was attempting to break into his home and fired at her from behind a locked screen door. She was also seeking help after a car crash.

The outcome of the February 2014 trial of Michael Dunn, a white man who killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis during an argument over loud music in Jacksonville, Fla., angered many black Americans who thought that Dunn should have been convicted for Davis’s death rather than for the attempted murder of the three survivors of the shooting.

And about three weeks before Brown’s killing in Ferguson, 43-year-old Eric Garner died from a police chokehold in Staten Island, N.Y., after telling the arresting officers that he could not breathe.

Police misconduct has often been treated as a local matter. But the cumulative effect of these and other events points to a national challenge, and it is only deepening black mistrust of law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Putting blame where it belongs

There is a widespread belief among white Americans, as well as many black ones, that the hairstyles, clothing, music and speech of poor and working-class black youths are the causes of aggressive police reactions — basically, that the kids are asking for it. This belief reflects a long-standing tradition of respectability politics, in which black progress against poverty and discrimination must flow from black people behaving differently, better.

In a nationwide 2008 poll by ABC News and Columbia University’s Center on African American Politics and Society, 44 percent of black Americans said they believed that the reason African Americans faced difficulty moving ahead was because they lacked individual initiative. Thirty-seven percent said that the lack of black progress was caused by racism in society.

This divide mirrors the lack of consensus among African Americans about how to deal with racist police practices. Either keep your head down at all times in public to avoid run-ins with police officers — or with white people more generally — or demand that you be treated as equals under the law, just like anyone else, without needing to strive for some flawless ideal

In the wake of Ferguson, many black and white Americans alike have awakened to the idea that a lack of respectability is not the problem; the problem is policing practices in black and brown communities. In Brown’s case, the allegation of his role in a “strong arm” robbery before his encounter with officer Darren Wilson has not defused protest. Indeed, the accusations heightened residents’ anger, because many fail to see a connection between the alleged robbery and Brown’s shooting, especially since Wilson had no knowledge of Brown’s potential involvement at the time of the shooting. Blame is falling where it belongs — on the officer for his aggressive policing, not on Brown for being less than superhuman.

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, appointed by the governor to oversee security in Ferguson, has eloquently challenged the notion that black youths’ appearance says something about their propensity toward crime. “When this is over,” he told a church audience, “I am going to go in my son’s room. My black son. Who wears his pants sagging. Wears his hat cocked to the side. Got his tattoos on his arm. But that’s my baby.”

Such arguments reflect reality: Embracing respectability does not provide a shield against police misconduct. The stellar credentials of Ferrell, a former Florida A&M University student with a 3.7 GPA who was working his way back to college, did not protect him from being shot down by police. Nor did the professional status of Arizona State University professor Ersula Ore prevent her from being manhandled by a police officer, who wrestled her to the ground after she politely asked why she was being stopped for jaywalking and treated disrespectfully.

While the streets of Ferguson have been the scene of protest and confrontation, social media — in particular “Black Twitter” — has emerged as a powerful forum for activism and debate regarding Ferguson, helping sway public opinion by challenging racially biased interpretations of Brown’s killing. For example, black people on Twitter and Facebook have posted images of themselves in formal clothes alongside pictures of themselves in informal attire, asking whether they deserved to be under suspicion because of the way they were dressed. They have posted individual and group photos with their hands raised in a gesture of surrender — as witnesses reported Brown did when he was shot — with hashtags such as #HandsUpDontShoot and #blacklivesmatter. And they have used social media to coordinate vigils for Brown and other victims of police brutality, to organize rallies across the country, and to post links to live-streaming sites that show the Ferguson protests in real time.

With Ferguson more than ever before, social media has become the game-changer of black activism, filling the void left by the weakening of traditional civil rights leaders and organizations that used to play a vital role in interpreting events for the black community, but now have less credibility in that community than they did a generation ago.

Channeling anger into reform

Increased anger and distrust, shifting perceptions of blame, and new protest techniques will go only so far. If Brown’s death is to lead to a true movement, it must transcend the street unrest and hashtag angst that too often stand in for political organizing.

To succeed, movements require strong organization and coordination. The kinetic energy from protests in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, the District and elsewhere needs to be harnessed to build local organizations aimed at combating police brutality. Local activism, in turn, should be linked to regional and national efforts and protest campaigns such as the Dream Defenders in Florida and the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina and Georgia . This is how numbers and influence grow.

A movement will also need allies beyond black communities, such as immigration reformers and LGBT groups, whose constituencies are also affected by police brutality. And in the best tradition of the civil rights movement, allies should be sought abroad. Highlighting human rights abuses in the United States on the world stage — as Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. did during the Cold War — will put more pressure on America to live up to its professed ideals of freedom and equality.

Lastly, movements require patience and persistence. Once the marching stops and the cameras leave Ferguson, the grinding work of organizing will have to take hold. The 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycott lasted a year until victory was declared, and congressional legislation banning racial discrimination in public accommodations and voting did not pass until a decade later. It took 17 years for LGBT activists to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Change does not come overnight.

Taking the fight online

What may keep Ferguson from becoming a national transformative event is if “justice” is narrowly confined to seeking relief for Brown and his family. If the focus is solely on the need for formal charges against Wilson, a fair trial, a conviction, a wrongful-death lawsuit — rather than seeing those things as part of a broader movement that tackles stand-your-ground laws, the militarization of local police, a requirement that cameras be worn by police on duty and the need for a comprehensive federal racial-profiling law. If justice remains solely personal, rather than universal.

Some believed that the beating of Rodney King and the riots that followed would lead to improved policing in black communities. But energy went toward rebuilding, not reforming. Ferguson presents an opportunity to pursue a different course. Let’s turn this tragedy into a tipping point.

see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/will-ferguson-be-a-moment-or-a-movement/2014/08/22/071d4a94-28a8-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html?wpisrc=nl-popns&wpmm=1

Is Southern Conservatism Just Plain Old Racism?

Source: Salon via AlterNet

Author: Paul Rosenberg

Emphasis Mine

 As events in Ferguson continue to dominate public political attention, it’s worthwhile to take a step back and take a long hard look at how we got here.  Why did the Democratic “Solid South” of old become such a stronghold of Republican strength?  Lyndon Johnson, one of the smartest Southern politicians ever, had no doubt in his mind — “There goes the South for a generation,” he reportedly said, after signing the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

But the South was already halfway out the door at the time. Missouri, with a fair amount of Southern culture in its veins, is nonetheless a border state, home to Harry Truman, whose enunciation of a civil rights agenda, followed by integration of the armed forces and strong civil rights platform in 1948, led to the walkout of the Dixiecrats, which cost him a dramatic 20 percent drop in the share of the Southern vote from where it had been in 1944. That launched a transitional era that is strangely lost to most who ponder such things today.

This lack of longer historical memory is part of what helps to support a popular brand of revisionism that claims the South turned Republican because the people there embraced “principled” “small-government” conservatism.  There are numerous problems with this explanation. First, if that’s why the South changed, then why didn’t the shift happen earlier? Second, if the change is explained by gradual economic development (as some such as Real Clear Politics senior analysis Sean Trende have argued), then why did Herbert Hoover do almost as well in 1928 as Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952? And why did the Democratic share of the Southern vote drop precipitously by 20 percent in 1948, as noted above, the year the Democrats put a civil rights plank in their platform, and the Dixiecrats walked out?

Third, what exactly is meant by “small-government conservatism”? And how does that square with the fact that Southern states almost universally get far more money from the federal government than they send in by way of taxes? And finally, how to explain the findings in a2005 paper by Nicholas Valentino and David Sears, which found that “whites residing in the old Confederacy continue to display more racial antagonism and ideological conservatism than non-Southern whites,” and that “Racial conservatism has become linked more closely to presidential voting and party identification over time in the white South”?

But there’s also another problem with the “it’s-not-race-it’s-principled-small-government-conservatism” explanation — namely that race and small government conservatism are inextricably linked. This is not to say that all small government conservatives are racists. But it is to say that racial attitudes and attitudes toward robust government activism are strongly linked, statistically; the more positive (or negative) your attitudes toward activist government are, the more positive (or negative) your attitudes toward blacks are likely to be, and vice versa as well. Negative racial attitudes manifest both in terms of opposition to black political power, and in blaming blacks for their subordinate status. If this sounds like a damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t sort of situation, you’re right. That’s exactly what it is.

As I explained in a recent article, the earliest statistical evidence of this relationship came from one of the classic studies of American public opinion:

The year after the March on Washington, pioneer pollsters Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril conducted surveys that were the basis for their 1967 book,The Political Beliefs of Americans; a Study of Public Opinion.They found that those opposed to five forms of federal spending were three times as likely as those who supported the spending to think that blacks should have “less influence” in politics. Since blacks only had five representatives of Congress at the time—just over 1%, compared to 11% of the population—the notion that they had too much influence was ludicrous on its face—and clearly racist. Yet, that’s precisely what 60% of those ‘small government conservatives’—people like Rand Paul and the Tea Partiers—believed.

Free and Cantril used three different measure of political orientation, one based on self-identification, one based on ideology (laissez-faire, individualist=“conservative”), and one operational, based on the degree of support for social spending. This involved five questions, dealing with federal aid to education, Medicare, the Federal housing program, the urban renewal program, and the government’s responsibility to do away with poverty.  The “Ideological Spectrum” was based on agreement or disagreement with the following statements:

  • The federal government is interfering too much in state and local matters.
  • The government has gone too far in regulating business and interfering with the free enterprise system.
  • Social problems here in this country could be solved more effectively if the government would only keep its hands off and let people in local communities handle their own problems in their own ways.
  • Generally speaking, any able-bodied person who really wants to work in this country can find a job and earn a living.
  • We should rely more on individual initiative and ability and not so much on governmental welfare programs.

Free and Cantril found that while half of all respondents qualified as ideological conservatives, two-thirds qualified as operational liberals, a condition they referred to as “mildly schizoid, with people believing in one set of principles abstractly while acting according to another set of principles in their political behavior.”  It’s not that everyone held contradictory views, of course, but the contrast in dominant modes was certainly a mass phenomenon, not just an individual quirk.  More precisely, almost a quarter of the respondents, 23 percent, were both ideological conservatives and operational liberals.  What’s more, this percentage doubled in the handful of Deep South states that Goldwater carried that year.  This is a point well worth digesting: The vanguard states in terms of realigning from Democrat to Republican were the ones with a sharply higher number of people who were ideological “small government” conservatives in principle, but who supported social spending in practice.  It’s only natural that these are the sorts of people whose views were likely to change dramatically based on the situation, but who then turn around and explain themselves in terms of unchanging “principles.”  After all, this is what they were already doing in 1964.

But that’s not the main point I want to make here. Because so many ideological conservatives were operational liberals in practice, it’s not a helpful way to look at who the true believers really are. The true believers are the ones who actually opposed government spending in practice.  They are the ones who didn’t just say they supported conservative principles in the abstract; they applied those principles to their spending priorities as well.  Hence, if you want to know who the principled conservatives really are, you don’t look at the expression of principles in the ideological spectrum, but at the support for social spending in the operational spectrum.  And this is where you see the sharp differences I described in the passage quoted above: 60 percent of those who were completely operationally conservative thought that blacks had too much political power in 1964, compared to 20 percent of those who were completely operationally liberal.  It couldn’t be clearer: Small government conservatives are much more opposed to black political power than those who support big government.

But that’s just one piece of evidence from 50 years ago.  What if it’s just a relic of a bygone era?  That’s certainly a distinct possibility. Which is why I’ve also looked at decades of polling data from the General Social Survey, which began collecting data every year or two in 1973, and is cited by social scientists more often than any other source, except for the U.S. Census. The data I’m about to present is cumulative data, spanning decades, but the broad shape of the data has not changed dramatically over the years, although there have been nuanced changes.  Instead of the five spending questions Free and Cantril asked, I used a battery of seven items: Social Security, welfare, “solving problems of big cities,” “improving nation’s educational system,”

“improving and protecting nation’s health,” “improving the conditions of blacks,” and “improving and protecting environment.”  Two of these items can be expected to  be  directly influenced by attitudes toward blacks — welfare and “improving the conditions of blacks” — but since America’s welfare state does disproportionately benefit blacks in some ways, it would be unrealistic to exclude such questions. However, we’ll take a somewhat different look later, below.

There is no single GSS question that’s comparable to the question that Free and Cantril asked, but there are questions related to blacks’ ability to live their lives as they wish, which is arguably the most basic form of political power there is. Can blacks live and go wherever they want to? Or do they need the permission of whites?  There are at least three GSS questions that bear directly on this, and all tell a remarkably similar story: those who are less willing to let blacks live as they want to are also much more likely to be “small government conservatives,” while those who support black autonomy are much more supportive of big government.

The first question on this point (RacOpen) gave respondents the choice between two laws, one saying that homeowners can’t discriminate on who they sell to, the other saying that owners can decide, even if they do discriminate.  A second question (RacSeg) asked if white people have a right to keep blacks out of their neighborhoods if they want to, and blacks should respect that right. A third question (RacPush) asked if folks agreed or disagreed with the statement that blacks “shouldn’t push themselves where they’re not wanted.” All three questions revealed a similar pattern: Those who valued white feelings over black autonomy were roughly twice as likely to favor cutting social spending overall: 15.9  percent to 8.9 percent for RacOpen; 18.4 percent to 8.3 percent for RacSeg; and 17.6 percent to 7.3 percent for RacPush.  On the other hand, those who value black autonomy and would outlaw discrimination are about twice as likely to support increasing spending on six or seven items: 16.5 percent to 8.1 percent for RacOpen;

15.9 percent to 9.0 percent for RacSeg; and 16.4 percent to 9.1 percent for RacPush.

There was also one GSS question related to formal political power — but it was of limited usefulness. Even fairly early on, people were extremely reluctant to say they wouldn’t vote for a black president. Only around 10 percent would say that over the decades. So the samples are very unevenly split. But the basic pattern remains the same: 21.5 percent of those who wouldn’t vote for a black president are small government conservatives who would cut social spending program, compared to 11.2 percent of those who say they would vote for a black president.  Only 4.7 percent of those who wouldn’t vote for a black president would increase social spending on six or seven items, compared to 13.3 percent of those who say they would vote for a black president.

Attitudes toward black political power are clearly an important component of racial ideology in America. But perhaps even more basic is the view of basic worthiness. Do blacks continue to be poorer than white Americans because of external barriers holding them back, or because of their own inner deficiencies?  A two-factor attitude measure found that those giving all internal answers — saying that blacks didn’t face discrimination, but simply lacked the will to succeed — were much more likely to be small government conservatives: 17.3 percent of them supported decreasing government spending programs, compared to just 4.5 percent of those who gave all external explanations. In contrast, those giving all internal explanations were far less likely (5.4 percent) to support increased spending on six or seven items than those giving all external explanations (22.4 percent).

Now, as I already noted, the questions I used included two that were likely to directly reflect attitudes toward blacks. But what would happen if those were replaced with quite neutral spending questions — questions about spending on mass transit, and “highways and bridges”?  I won’t go through the whole battery of questions this time; it’s enough to just look at the question of whether internal or external factors are  to blame for blacks’ lower economic status. With this new battery of seven spending questions, 8.2 percent of those blaming blacks would reduce spending, compared to just 2.9 percent blaming external conditions, a smaller proportion for both, but a relatively comparable ratio between them. There was more significant convergence on the other end of the scale, but the differences were still quite noticeable: 12.1 percent of those blaming blacks would increase spending on six or seven items, compared to 18.3 percent of those blaming external conditions.

Taken all together, this seems to clearly show that some of the opposition to government spending is directly tied to spending that targets blacks, but that some of it does not; it is simply correlated with negative assessments of black worthiness.  But how general is this finding?

I’m not prepared to give a comprehensive answer, but I can give you a bit of a surprise: When it comes to spending that would help combat the impacts of global warming, attitudes toward black worthiness turn out to be quite important.  I created a three-item spending scale related to global warming — one question we’ve already seen, “improving and protecting environment,” one concerning spending on science, and one specifically on developing alternative energy.  For this three-item scale, the differences are just as dramatic as for the first  seven-item scale. 17.5 percent of those who blame blacks would cut spending overall, compared to just 5.8 percent of those who blame external conditions.  And 30.7 percent of those who  blame external conditions would increase spending on all three items, compared to  just 16.3 percent of those who blame blacks. Thus, even when it comes to fighting global warming, one’s attitudes toward blacks are a strong indicator of how much of a “principled conservative” one is likely to be.  Some “principles,” eh?

All the evidence I’ve given so far comes from comparing attitudes within the U.S. as a whole.  But it turns out that this sort of correlation is virtually universal in a way; people in general are more willing to spend government money on people they perceive to be more like them.  Some striking data in this regard was presented in a 2001 paper from the Brookings Institution, “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?” by Alesina, Alberto, Edward L. Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote (Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2, 2001: 187-277).  The online introduction explains:

European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the U.S. level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre–tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the U.S. and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the U.S. and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

The paper itself is a sophisticated consideration of multiple factors and possible explanations, but I want to just focus on two charts the authors presented. Both involve comparisons between social spending and the presence of racial minorities. The first is a country-level comparison comparing social spending as a percentage of GDP with “racial fractionalization,” which the authors describe as “the probability of randomly drawing out of the country’s population two individuals that do not belong to the same racial group.” It showed a visible correlation between a larger presence of racial minorities and a lower level of social spending. The second chart is a state-level comparison between the size of welfare benefits and the percent black. It shows a similar correlation.

In the years since this paper was published, a broader literature has appeared. A 2011 survey of that literature “Ethnic Diversity, Public Spending, and Individual Support for the Welfare State” concluded that the evidence was “mixed,” though “many studies do show evidence of a negative association.” It also speculated that future research would probably reveal that “the relationship is most likely non-linear: ethnic diversity will matter most near a ‘tipping point’ at which ethnic minorities are perceived as posing a political or economic threat to the native majority.”  It also needs to be stressed that racial antipathy is just one factor to be considered. Just because one empathizes more readily with those one sees as coming from a similar racial or ethnic group does not necessarily mean one is hostile to other groups. Generally speaking, the more genuinely self-confident and happy people are with their place in the world, the more open they are to welcoming others. So in-group identification and out-group hostility are two related, but distinguishable phenomena.  But the GSS questions explored above should leave little doubt that racial antipathy is part of the mix supporting the politics of “small government” “principled” conservatism.

Let’s not forget a bit of history recounted by Taylor Branch last year, just before the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which I referred to in my earlier article mentioned above. As Branch recalls, George Wallace led the way in disavowing racism, shifting hard to a brand of  “principled conservatism” that he pretty much invented as he went along. He did this within months of the march, which so thoroughly discredited his former segregationist stand:

By the end of 1963, with segregation losing its stable respectability, he [Wallace] dropped the word altogether from a fresh stump speech denouncing “big government” by “pointy-headed bureaucrats,” tyrannical judges, and “tax, tax, spend, spend” legislators. He spurned racial discourse, calling it favoritism, and insisted with aplomb that he had never denigrated any person or group in his fight for local control.

So, there’s nothing new in the claim that “principled conservatism” has nothing to do with race.  If you want to be a true believer, it’s the very first lie that you have to believe.

Paul H. Rosenberg is senior editor at Random Lengths News, a biweekly serving the Los Angeles harbor area. He runs the site Merge Left, a community of progressive thinkers free to submit their own content.

See; http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/southern-conservatism-just-plain-old-racism?akid=12153.123424.6B9vC_&rd=1&src=newsletter1016414&t=12

Poll:70% of Voters Say Government Should Not Restrict Abortion Access

Source: National Partnership

Emphasis Mine

August 18, 2014 — Almost 70% of registered voters say the government should not limit access to abortion, according to a new poll from NARAL Pro-Choice America, Politico Pro reports.

The poll marks the first time NARAL asked respondents to distinguish between the morality and legality of abortion, an approach that allows respondents to voice personal objections to abortion but still support access to it. The poll did not include questions about restricting abortion based on the stage of pregnancy or other factors.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner pollster Drew Lieberman said polls that do not make the distinction between morality and legality force people “into artificial categories.” He added, “Almost half the population is in the gray area” of having moral objections to abortion while supporting legal access, which is a “pro-choice position.”

Key Findings

For the poll, GQR researchers surveyed 800 registered voters.

The poll found that 23% of respondents believe abortion is “morally acceptable and should be legal,” while 45% said they are personally against it but believe the government should not restrict access to it. About 25% of respondents said abortion should be illegal.

In addition, the poll found that the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents do not support government restrictions on abortion. Specifically, 84% of Democrats said the government should not limit access, while 53% of Republicans and 66% of independents said the same.

NARAL: Poll Shows Disconnect Among Lawmakers

NARAL Political Director Erika West said the poll’s findings show that elected officials are not representing voters’ views. Only four in 10 representatives in the House fit NARAL’s definition of abortion-rights supporters, she noted.

“People ask why are we losing ground on reproductive freedom, and it’s because our elected representatives don’t represent our values,” she said (Haberkorn, Politico Pro, 8/18).

See: http://go.nationalpartnership.org/site/News2?abbr=daily2_&page=NewsArticle&id=45376

8 things to know about the Iraq crisis

Source: moveon.org

Author: Anna Galland

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: The current crisis in Iraq is a not too gentle reminder of the importance of separating church and state – The aim of ISIS is to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and in Syria – http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/12/world/meast/who-is-the-isis/)

U.S. bombing strikes are now well under way in Iraq in a military mission that President Obama said could go on for months.1 U.S. military planes have also been delivering vital humanitarian assistance to civilians fleeing the violence, including Yazidis who were forced onto Iraq’s Mount Sinjar by ISIS militants laying siege on the mountain.2

MoveOn members across the country have weighed in with thoughts on what’s happening in Iraq. There are varying opinions on different aspects of this crisis, but there are some common threads. Our hearts break for the people of Iraq who are living through this conflict. We know there are no simple solutions. And we’re united in our opposition to America sliding down the slippery slope to another war in Iraq.

As we all try to make sense of the events that are unfolding, here are eight things that you should know about the Iraq crisis.

Please read on and then share the list on Facebook, Twitter, or by emailing your friends. It’s vital that we engage the country in a conversation about the U.S. role in Iraq.

8 Things to Know about the Iraq Crisis

1. Right-wing war hawks are pushing for another full-blown war in Iraq.

Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, other Republicans in Congress, and right-wing figures—who blindly led America into invading and occupying Iraq—are now demanding more military action that could drag us back into full-scale war in the region.3,4,5

2. The slippery slope is real.

Mission creep can too easily occur—along with unintended consequences and new problems created by the use of U.S. military force.6,7 History shows us that many big wars start out looking small, including the Korean War and the Vietnam War.8 And we are now dealing with a prime example of unintended consequences: Bush’s war of choice and military occupation of Iraq set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today, including the rise of ISIS.9,10,11,12

3. Voters elected President Obama to end the Iraq war that George W. Bush recklessly started.

President Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war before it began and his pledge to end it—as part of the contrast between him and those who pushed for war—were key to his success in both the Democratic primary election and the general election in 2008.13 He continues to pledge that he “will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.”14,15

4. Ultimately, Iraq’s problems can be solved only by an Iraqi-led political solution.

President Obama has said that there is no military solution to the crisis in Iraq and that there can only be “an Iraqi solution.”16 As this explainer lays out:

“ISIS isn’t just a terrorist group rampaging through Iraq (though they definitely are that). It’s in many ways an expression of the Sunni Muslim minority’s anger at the Shia-dominated government. . . Some Sunni grievances get to more fundamental issues within the Iraqi state itself, beyond what even a better government could easily fix.”17

These are not problems that more U.S. bombings can solve. That’s why experts are saying that “any lasting solution has to be regional in nature and must address the political interests of all the major factions in an equitable and inclusive manner.”18

5. Members of Congress, including Democratic lawmakers, are insisting that the president come to Congress for authorization.

MoveOn members have long opposed endless war in Iraq. Earlier this summer, before the current bombing strikes began, MoveOn members made more than 15,000 calls to lawmakers, urging them to oppose U.S. military intervention in Iraq. In July, the House of Representatives listened to them and the rest of the American people to require, by a bipartisan vote of 370-40, the president to seek congressional authorization before deploying or maintaining a sustained combat role in Iraq.19 Congress should continue to assert its authority under the Constitution to authorize and oversee U.S. commitments to open-ended war overseas.

6. The Middle East is a complicated place where U.S. military intervention has a troubling track record.

The Middle East has many armed actors whose motivations often compete with each other and conflict with American values, and U.S. military intervention there has a track record of often making things worse.20,21 One tragic absurdity of this moment is that the U.S. military is now using U.S. equipment to bomb U.S. weapons wielded by enemies the U.S. didn’t intend to arm against the U.S. and U.S. allies.22 That’s a good reason to be concerned about the U.S. arming rebels in nearby Syria, which experts say wouldn’t have stopped the rise of ISIS anyway.23 Experts further warn that U.S. military force in the region only tends to create more problems, including the risk of terrorist retaliation.24

7. Military action could lead to even more innocent civilians getting caught in the crossfire and suffering.

The Iraq war that Bush started didn’t just cost America the lives of nearly 4,500 service members, plus $2 trillion according to modest estimates.25,26,27 Approximately 500,000 Iraqi civilians also died in the armed conflict—possibly more.28 In the current conflict, ISIS militants are persecuting various minority populations of Iraq, such as the Yazidis who had fled to Mount Sinjar.29 Escalating military action, including drone strikes, risks catching more civilians in the crossfire.30

8. Opposing endless war isn’t the same as being an isolationist. The Iraq crisis, including the humanitarian disaster, demands an international, diplomatic response.

We have options to support the people of Iraq, as well as tackle this crisis in a way that reflects America’s best interests and 21st century realities. For one, the U.S. can work through the United Nations and other multilateral organizations to support a major global diplomatic initiative.31 In the face of the current crisis, the Friends Committee on National Legislation also recommends a number of steps instead of U.S. bombings, such as working with other nations through the United Nations to organize humanitarian evacuations of stranded and trapped civilians, pressing for and upholding an arms embargo in Iraq and Syria, engaging with the UN to reinvigorate efforts for a lasting political solution for Iraq and Syria, and increasing humanitarian aid.32,33

It’s critically important that we engage the nation in conversation and debate to avoid endless war in Iraq. Can you share this “8 Things to Know about the Iraq Crisis” list with your family and friends? Use the links at the top and bottom of this page. Sources:1. “Iraq Airstrikes May Continue for Months, Obama Says,” The New York Times, August 9, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/world/middleeast/iraq.html

2. “Despite U.S. Claims, Yazidis Say Crisis Is Not Over,” The New York Times, August 14, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/15/world/middleeast/iraq-yazidis-obama-sinjar-crisis.html

3. “Republicans Want More US Military Action in Iraq,” Military.com, August 8, 2014

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/08/08/republicans-want-more-us-military-action-in-iraq.html

4. “Neocons to Obama: No half-measures,” Politico, August 8, 2014

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/conservatives-obama-iraq-airstrikes-109861.html

5. “Where Are The Media’s Iraq War Boosters 10 Years Later?,” Media Matters, March 19, 2013

http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/03/19/where-are-the-medias-iraq-war-boosters-10-years/193117

6. “Intentions and Opposite Results in Iraq,” The New York Times, December 4, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/books/05book.html

7. “The Slippery Slope of U.S. Intervention,” Foreign Policy, August 11, 2014

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/11/the_slippery_slope_of_us_intervention_iraq_islamic_state_humanitarian_intervention

8. “Can Obama avoid mission creep in Iraq?,” CNN, June 19, 2014

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/19/opinion/zelizer-mission-creep/

9. “U.S. Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel,” The New York Times, August 10, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/11/world/middleeast/us-actions-in-iraq-fueled-rise-of-a-rebel.html

10. “Fareed Zakaria: Who lost Iraq? The Iraqis did, with an assist from George W. Bush,” Washington Post, June 12, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-who-lost-iraq-the-iraqis-did-with-an-assist-from-george-w-bush/2014/06/12/35c5a418-f25c-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html

11. “Iraq’s crisis: Don’t forget the 2003 U.S. invasion,” Washington Post, June 16, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/16/iraqs-crisis-dont-forget-the-2003-u-s-invasion/

12. “ISIS Atrocities in Iraq Represent the Catastrophic Failure of Bush Doctrine and Neoconservative Foreign Policy,” Huffington Post, August 8, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/isis-atrocities-in-iraq-r_b_5661346.html

13. “Five Reasons Why Obama Won the ’08 Election,” About News, accessed August 13, 2014

http://usliberals.about.com/od/obamavsmccainin08/a/ObamaWin_4.htm

14. “Obama: US won’t get dragged into war,” The Hill, June 13, 2014

http://thehill.com/policy/international/209305-obama-insists-us-wont-get-dragged-back-into-iraq

15. “Obama, With Reluctance, Returns to Action in Iraq,” The New York Times, August 7, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/world/middleeast/a-return-to-action.html

16. “Obama: ‘There Is No American Military Solution To The Larger Crisis In Iraq’,” Huffington Post, August 11, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/obama-iraq_n_5669474.html

17. “The chaos in Baghdad explains why Obama isn’t trying to destroy ISIS,” Vox, August 10, 2014

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/9/5983249/iraq-obama-isis-strategy

18. “Diplomacy Not More Arms Needed in Iraq and Syria,” Win Without War, June 19, 2014

http://winwithoutwar.org/cortright-iraq/

19. “House Votes For Checks On Obama’s Iraq War Powers,” Huffington Post, July 25, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/25/house-iraq-resolution_n_5621060.html

20. “The Middle East Friendship Chart,” Slate, July 17, 2014

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/07/17/the_middle_east_friendship_chart.html

21. “Failed Interventions and What They Teach,” Speech by Former Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr., USFS (Ret.), October 21, 2010

http://chasfreeman.net/failed-interventions-and-what-they-teach/

22. “The US bombing its own guns perfectly sums up America’s total failure in Iraq,” Vox, August 8, 2014

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/8/5982501/the-us-is-now-bombing-its-own-military-equipment-in-iraq

23. “Why arming Syria’s rebels wouldn’t have stopped ISIS,” Vox, August 13, 2014

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/13/5995793/arming-rebels-isis-political-science

24. “Experts Warn of Terrorism Blowback From Iraq Air Strikes,” Time Magazine, August 10, 2014

http://time.com/3096348/isis-iraq-barack-obama-blowback/

25. “Casualties in Iraq,” Antiwar.com, accessed August 13, 2014

http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/

26. “Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study,” Reuters, March 14, 2013

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/14/us-iraq-war-anniversary-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314

27. “The Iraq War Could Cost More Than $6 Trillion,” Business Insider, March 14, 2013

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-the-iraq-war-cost-2-trillion-2013-3

28. “Iraq Death Toll Reaches 500,000 Since Start Of U.S.-Led Invasion, New Study Says,” Huffington Post, October 15, 2013

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/iraq-death-toll_n_4102855.html

29. “Islamic State Killed 500 Yazidis, Buried Some Victims Alive,” Huffington Post, August 10, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/10/yazidis-islamic-state-massacre_n_5665655.html

30. “The Case Against Drone Strikes on People Who Only ‘Act’ Like Terrorists,” The Atlantic, August 19, 2013

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/08/the-case-against-drone-strikes-on-people-who-only-act-like-terrorists/278744/

31. “Diplomacy Not More Arms Needed in Iraq and Syria,” Win Without War, June 19, 2014

http://winwithoutwar.org/cortright-iraq/

32. “Five Ways the U.S. Can Help Stop the Killing in Iraq,” Friends Committee on National Legislation, accessed August 13, 2014

http://fcnl.org/issues/iraq/crisis_in_iraq/

33. “Responding to the Crisis in Iraq — Without Bombs,” Friends Committee on National Legislation, August 13, 2014

http://fcnl.org/issues/iraq/responding_to_the_crisis_in_iraq_without_bombs/

Ohio Strippers Take Topless Protest to Church That Harassed Them as ‘Whores, Tramps’ for Nine Years

strippersSource: Raw Story via AlterNet

Author: David Edwards

 A group of topless dancers in Ohio on Sunday turned the tables on a fundamentalist church that has picketed their club for almost nine years.

According to the  Coshocton Tribune, at least six bare-breasted women, employees and friends of the Foxhole North club marched outside the New Beginnings Ministries church in Warsaw.

Club owner Thomas George said that church members have come to his club every weekend for nine years to harass employees and patrons.

“This is what’s going on in the name of Jesus,” one of the women at the demonstrations points out. “Is anybody else disgusted by this?“They surround people who are trying to come into my club, and try to shame them into not coming,” George explains in a video posted on the  Foxhole’s Facebook page. “They call the girls whores, tramps.”

The topless protesters have vowed to return every weekend until the church finds a new target.

The Tribune reported that Pastor Bill Dunfee hired an off-duty deputy to guard the church.

Even though the demonstration turned out to be peaceful, Dunfee said he would hire a deputy next weekend if the protesters return.

“I hope [George] will realize that the Foxhole has no business in this community,”  Dunfee told WBNS. “”I take very seriously the responsibility as a pastor to see to it that the gospel of Christ is lifted up, that Christ himself is lifted up, and that evil is confronted.”

Emphasis Mine

See:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/ohio-strippers-take-topless-protest-church?akid=12118.123424.kjiWIF&rd=1&src=newsletter1015210&t=13ft

Fitzgerald releases program

From  Rick Nagin

Last night before a packed house at the monthly delegates’ meeting of the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor, Ed Fitzgerald, Democratic candidate for Ohio Governor calmly, simply and eloquently presented his five point working class program for our state.  Despite the vicious, massively funded campaign  of the Republicans and the scandal-mongering of some of the corporate media, Fitzgerald stood tall and steadfast as he showed what is really at stake in this election and the stark difference between his program and the the anti-labor, anti-civil rights, anti-woman, anti-local government, anti-public education policies of incumbent Gov. John Kasich.  He also showed that even after two weeks of scandal-mongering, the latest polls show the race continues to be close with Fitzgerald trailing by only six points.  The grassroots efforts of Labor 2014 and the Democratic Party have only just begun.  There are one million more registered Democrats than Republicans in Ohio.  This means that if we reach voters with Fitzgerald’s program and explain the difference between him and Kasich, Fitzgerald will win. We must do everything possible to make this happen and reject the shameful readiness of some to surrender and throw in the towel  even before the fight has begun.  Defeating Kasich will be a huge blow to right wing extremism in Ohio and nationally.  Below is Ed Fitzgerald’s program.  Please make sure  this gets into the hands of everyone you can reach.
In Solidarity,
Rick Nagin
Five major differences between Ed Fitzgerald and John Kasich
1.  Ed is for public education.  That includes restoring funding, respecting teachers, reducing standardized testing and supporting early and higher education.
     – Kasich slashed the public education budget and promotes poor-performing, scandal-ridden, for-profit charter schools.
2.  Ed is for workers’ rights, including the right to bargain and a higher minimum wage.
     – Kasich pushed for passage of SB 5 and, make no mistake, will push for passage of right-to-work legislation.
3.  Ed is for civil rights, including women’s rights, marriage equality and voting rights.
     - Kasich restricted women’s rights, opposes marriage equality and suppressed voting rights.
4.  Ed supports local communities including local government funding, public safety – and safe drinking water.
     – Kasich slashed local government funding, cut public safety, cut heroin treatment and sold out to the industry on water safety.
5.  Ed wants an economy that works for all of us, especially the middle class which is suffering under Kasich.
      - Kasich consistently supports policies that benefit the wealthy while stealing money from the middle class to pay for tax giveaways to the rich.