Mando’s Five Progressive News Reactions for the Weekend! (no.10)
And I’m back folks! Sorry I missed 2 weeks, but you know how it goes… I had to eat a lot of food and it put me into three week coma. This week:
- First-time unemployment claims spike by over 200,000 in one week and why you should never confuse holiday shopping for real economic growth.
- The real lessons from the GOP nomination race.
- Responding to a comment on a PTR post about the pissing soldiers.
- I moved to Chicago and the Mayor is now trying to ban the right to protest. I don’t think this is about me. lol.
Read more for reactions!
1) First-time unemployment claims spike to 399,000 This is why you should never assume that all the shopping and crazyness you see at the malls during the holidays is an indicator of economic health and growth. Yes, it is true that what our economy needs is consumer demand to drive-up the hiring of workers, but that alone is a very simplistic understanding of the economy being purported by even the progressive left and something i’ve tried to write about in these weekly columns over past 12 weeks.
- The reason it is simplistic is actually two fold: First off, everything is pretty much owned by mega multi-national corporations. What this means is that when we actually have money and we take that money to the store and buy shit we don’t do it at local businesses whose owners live in our communities and who also spend money in our communities… we do it instead at places like Target. Spending at places like Target means that the money we spend there just immediately gets sucked up into hands of a very few, contributes to job growth abroad, and those companies use that money in the world of vulture finance capitalism; and 2) yes, there is some modest job growth when it comes to all that holiday shopping, places like Target or Macy’s do need some extra workers to handle the load. But these major corporations have spent 40 years funding think tanks and politicians to kill unions and workers rights more generally… thus there now exists the political milieu to be able to hire temporary workers and the Obama administration can call it job growth… which is exactly what he did when he went on national radio and said December showed job growth.
2) For me there are two lessons to be learned form the GOP presidential nominee race: 1) if you watch and listen closely, its easy to see that GOP voters are basically voting for the same economic concerns motivating members of occupy wall street, which tells us allot about the current state of public culture; and 2) the fact that Mitt Romney is going to win the nomination anyways, despite being branded as the obvious corporate tool, tells us that the state of public culture is powerless in the face of limitless super PAC corporate funding. In case you didn’t know super pac’s are these nameless organizations that are now allowed to take in limitless corporate donor money and spend it on political elections. This was allowed in the recent “citizen’s united” ruling by the conservative Supreme Court. Romney is well known, behind Obama, to be the #2 receiver of super pac funding.
- Here is why I know the GOP voters are basically voting on issues of inequality, economic peril, and predatory capitalism. When Rick Santorum came out of nowhere to finish 2nd in the Iowa caucus he didn’t do so by playing up his ultra conservative views on social issues like being anti-gay and what not. He got to 2nd by campaigning on economic populist issues like decrying the loss of manufacturing, the need for simulative governance, and other things you hear coming out of fiscally conservative Obama. I’m not saying that’s the only reason he got to the top in less than 2 days (obviously, the other candidates crashed and burned on their own and Santorum benefited from being off the radar for most of the race) but this was important nonetheless.
- This one is getting a bit more public attention in the mainstream media: Over the past week, Newt Gingrich and others have been attacking MItt Romney for his record working at the private equity firm Bain capital. Its fascinating to hear Gingrich talk as if he was camped out at Zuccatti park for 2 months… he basically called out Mitt Romney and the entire private equity industry for buying up struggling companies, with no intention of turning them around, selling off their assets, taking a profit, then firing everyone and shutting it down. To extend this further… it isn’t just that Romney was one of a few who participated in this type of capitalism, its the fact that Romney and Bain capital pretty much invented the industry. The private equity industry is the epitome of vulture capitalism that so many on the left are concerned about. Its making money not by being productive and creating long-term durable assets that actually create jobs here in America, but making money through the kind of short-term investments that are the driving force behind our trade deficit and the underlying structural problems of the economy. We’ve written about that allot here at PTR.
- After winning in New Hampshire Romeny gave a pretty good comeback speech. The gist of it was that his party shouldn’t fall into this new “politics of envy” stuff coming from Occupiers and, I guess, by some odd extension Obama. I actually thought this speech had done so well that it would pretty much kill the growing OccupyGOP fervor… but the next day, Newt doubled down, joined by other candidates, and Sarah Palin even coming out sounding like socialist Elizabeth Warren to attack Romney and his record at Bain capital. I’m serious about that. This will be a problem for Romney against Obama.
- On the super pac corporate funding I want to make this point: some are now contending that since every candidate has super pac funding it will pretty much cancels itself out as a variable in elections. That is, for example, if both Romney and Obama have super pac funding then super pac funding won’t determine the victor. Nothing could be further from the truth and I will tell you why… it isn’t that super pac corporate funding is selecting the victor of elections, they are selecting the range of options voters can select and the sets of issues that we can even discuss. The idea of inequality and the fact that there are some bad types of capitalism out there in the world is even on the agenda is because thousands of people decided to camp out in the rain for 2 months straight. For that we should all be grateful. What the super pac has done is ensured that we will have to choose between two candidates who will leave Wall St. and multi-national corporations alone. On the one side will be Obama who espouses some limited public sector spending to put cash into some people’s hands for a limited amount of time. That doesn’t hurt multi-nationals or Wall St. in anyway (as I explained in the first news tid-bit above). That money just goes straight back to the owners of Target, Starbucks, or any other multi-national corporations. On the other side will be Romney, who will just distract everyone with some rules against gays and abortion or something, but will pretty much advocate the same things we have had under Obama, renewing the Bush tax cuts for the super non-job creating rich and agreeing to cut what remains of our sacred social welfare system: medicare and social security. Neither candidate will actually work to solve the real underlying problem of our economy: reinstating the Glass-Steagall act which would break up the too big to fail banks, making them choose between being either investment banks or savings banks, instituting a financial transaction tax which would go along way to stopping the high frequency trading that makes up a majority of trades on Wall St and that don’t do anything to create any jobs at all. Stuff like that. Maybe the only difference would be that Obama would bomb Iran like 2 months later than Romney would. But that’s about it.
3) I want to talk about a comment we had on the blog yesterday. Evan wrote a post reacting to the video of some of our soldiers defecating on the corpses of supposed enemy combatants. The commentator made a really good point: that we shouldn’t do anything too rash against those soldiers, like imprison them or something, because they are young kids, are in a bad situation, and they deserve counseling, jobs, and to be taken care of. I agree with that point, not just because they are soldiers, but because that’s pretty much how I feel about anyone who has done some kind of non-violent offense in our society. If you are caught in possession of drugs, for instance, you shouldn’t spend 4 years in state prison you should be given a job, counseling and whatever else you need. I don’t think retributive justice does anything good for our economy or the offenders themselves.
- But I will say that I think Evan’s post wasn’t so much about being angry at the soldiers themselves, but was angry about the fact that we are even involved in ridiculous wars out there in the Middle East. The soldiers shouldn’t be punished for being there and pissing on the corpses, the war hawks in the pentagon and in the Bush and Obama administration should be punished for putting them and us in a very bad situation. I think the commentator might agree with that. Its not that pissing on corpses is going to cause people to hate us, but its the fact that we are out there killing people for no real good reason that is going to cause people to hate us. Pissing on corpses is simply a symptom of the same misguided world-view and corporate profiteering that is driving us to senseless wars in the first place. The same could be said about predator drone attacks.
4) This should probably be in the news tid-bit above but I think it deserves to stand on its own: can you imagine the epic s**t storm if people with turbans were caught on video pissing on the dead bodies of U.S. soldiers? It would be off the charts. Relatedly, here is Rick Perry trying to revitalize his campaign by turning the issue into an Obama and the Muslims versus real America and its soldiers type of issue.
5) In case you don’t know, I just moved from L.A. to Chicago. When I left L.A. it was 87 degrees and I’m pretty sure it was 18 degree here yesterday. Anyway, shortly after I arrived it was making headlines that the democratic mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanual, who pretty much won the mayoral election as an outsider because he had been serving in the Obama administration, was planning on effectively banning the right to protest. You see, in May Chicago is going to be hosting the G8 and Nato meetings. I am sure you can imagine how the gathering of the world’s super-powers and their corporate backed sponsors would require a word from the people, as it does at every G8 meeting. Well, Rahm is trying to make the fine’s for the type of things that typically happen during protests so steep that its pretty much gonna make it impossible to go out and show your voice. Some misguided people are arguing that protestors shouldn’t do anything illegal then. Well in response to that point Rahm is now trying to prevent the awarding of permits to the public during the week of the conference. You know the kind of permits you legally need to put on a protest. Ha. Chicago activists are mobilizing to once again save American democracy. We should all be grateful.
Till next week folks!