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Occupy Wall Street: Analysis & Legacy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/09/2021 - 12:14am in

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A weekly show focusing on the economic dimensions of everyday life and alternative ways to organize our economy and politics, with Prof. Richard D. Wolff.

Does Starmer's Labour have a problem with trade unionists? - Interview with Ian Hodson

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/09/2021 - 8:44pm in

Counterfire's Shabbir Lakha spoke to Ian Hodson, the National President of the BFAWU, who has been threatened with expulsion from the Labour Party

Texas abortion ban: Resisting the attacks on reproductive rights - video

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/09/2021 - 8:43pm in

Counterfire's Kate O'Neil speaks to Chicago abortion rights campaigner Lauren Bianchi about the Texas abortion ban and how the movement can organise against it

The $3.5 Trillion Bill Corporate America is Terrified OfRight...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 8:32am in

The $3.5 Trillion Bill Corporate America is Terrified OfRight now, Democrats are working to pass a $3.5 trillion package that will provide long overdue help for working Americans.

The final bill hasn’t yet been determined, so we don’t know the exact dollar amounts for all its policies. We’ll probably find that out in late September or early October. For now, the Democrats’ budget resolution frames what’s in the bill.  

First, on families:

The bill would make permanent key benefits for working families, including the expanded child tax credit in the pandemic relief plan that sends families up to $300 per child each month but is now set to expire in December, and is estimated to cut child poverty by half

It would also establish universal child care, for which low- and middle-income households would pay no more than 7 percent of their incomes. 

And provide a national program of paid leave — worth up to $4,000 a month — for workers who take time off because they are ill or caring for a relative.

Next, on education:

The bill would reduce educational inequality by establishing universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds, benefiting an estimated 5 million children, and providing tuition-free community college – essentially expanding free public education from 12 years to 16 years. 

It will also invest in historically Black colleges and universities and increase the maximum amount of Pell grants for students from lower-income families. 

On health care:

The bill expands Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing benefits and lowers the eligibility age. It also expands Medicaid to cover people living in the 12 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid, and makes critical investments to improve healthcare for people of color. 

The big question is how far it will go to reduce prescription drug prices by, for example, allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies. That could reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending, and free up more money for other parts of the bill. But Big Pharma is dead-set against this.

Big corporations and the rich picking up the tab:

In another step toward fairness, all of these are to be financed by higher taxes on the rich and big corporations. 

The bill would also increase the Internal Revenue Service’s funding so the agency can properly audit wealthy tax cheats, who fail to report about a fifth of their income every year, thereby costing the government $105 billion annually. 

In addition, the bill tackles the climate crisis, which also especially burdens lower-income Americans: 

There are a range of solutions – subsidizing the use of solar, wind, nuclear and other forms of clean energy while financially penalizing the use of dirty energy like coal; helping families pay for electric cars and energy-efficient homes. 

The bill might include something known as a carbon border adjustment tax — a tax on imports whose production was carbon-intensive, like many from China.

The bill would also establish a Civilian Climate Corps, and invest in communities that bear the brunt of the climate crisis.

And the bill helps American workers:

It will hopefully contain much of the PRO Act, the toughest labor law reform in a generation. 

Finally, the bill includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
This is all about making America fairer. 

Remember: we won’t know the exact details of the bill for at least a month, but these are the main areas that it will focus on. The big challenge will be ensuring Senate Democrats remain united to get it passed. All of us will need to fight like hell.

Don’t listen to spending hawks who claim it’s too expensive or too radical. For far too long, our government has ignored the needs of everyday Americans, catering instead to the demands of corporations and the super-rich. No more. 

It’s time to get this landmark bill passed and build a fairer America.

Economic Update: The Rational & Irrational in Anti-Vaxxers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 1:32am in

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A weekly show focusing on the economic dimensions of everyday life and alternative ways to organize our economy and politics, with Prof. Richard D. Wolff.

The Filibuster is UnconstitutionalYou’ve probably been hearing a...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/09/2021 - 5:42am in

The Filibuster is Unconstitutional

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the filibuster these days. But here’s one thing about this old Senate rule you might not know: the filibuster actually violates the Constitution.

41 Senate Republicans, who represent only 21 percent of the American population, are blocking the “For the People Act,” which is supported by 67 percent of Americans. They’re also blocking an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, supported by 62 percent of Americans. And so much else.  

Even some so-called moderate Democrats, like Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, have outsized power to block crucial legislation thanks to the filibuster.

Many of those who defend the filibuster consider themselves “originalists,” who claim to be following the Constitution as the Framers intended. 

But the filibuster is not in the Constitution. In fact, the Framers of the Constitution went to great lengths to ensure that a minority of senators could not thwart the wishes of the majority. 

After all, a major reason they called the Constitutional Convention was that the Articles of Confederation (the precursor to the Constitution) required a super-majority vote of nine of the thirteen states, making the government weak and ineffective.

James Madison argued against any super-majority requirement, writing that “the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed,“ and “It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority.”

Alexander Hamilton, meanwhile, warned about “how much good may be prevented, and how much ill may be produced” if a minority in either house of Congress had “the power of hindering the doing what may be necessary.”

Hence, the Framers required no more than a simple majority vote in both houses of Congress to pass legislation. They carved out specific exceptions, requiring a super-majority vote only for rare, high-stakes decisions: 

Impeachments.

Expulsion of members.

Overriding a presidential veto.

Ratification of treaties.

Constitutional amendments.

By being explicit about these exceptions where a super-majority is necessary, the Framers underscored their commitment to majority rule for the normal business of the nation.

They would have balked at the notion of a minority of senators continually obstructing the majority, which is now the case with the filibuster. 

So where did the filibuster come from? 

The Senate needed a mechanism to end debate on proposed laws, and move laws to a vote — a problem the Framers didn’t anticipate. In 1841, a small group of senators took full advantage of this oversight to stage the first filibuster. They hoped to hamstring the Senate and force their opponents to give in by prolonging debate and delaying a vote. 

This was what became known as the “talking filibuster” as popularized in the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But the results were hardly admirable.

After the Civil War, the filibuster was used by Southern politicians to defeat Reconstruction legislation, including bills to protect the voting rights of Black Americans.

In 1917, as a result of pressure from President Woodrow Wilson and the public, the Senate finally adopted a procedure for limiting debate and ending filibusters with a two-thirds vote (67 votes). In the 1970s, the Senate reduced the number of votes required to end debate down to 60, and no longer required constant talking to delay a vote. 41 votes would do it.

Throughout much of the 20th century, despite all the rule changes, filibusters remained rare. Southern senators mainly used them to block anti-lynching, fair employment, voting rights, and other critical civil rights bills.

That all changed in 2006, after Democrats won a majority of Senate seats. Senate Republicans, now in the minority, used the 60-vote requirement with unprecedented frequency. After Barack Obama became president in 2008, the Republican minority blocked virtually every significant piece of legislation. Nothing could move without 60 votes.

In 2009, a record 67 filibusters occurred during the first half of the 111th Congress — double the entire 20-year period between 1950 and 1969. By the time the 111th Congress adjourned in December 2010, the filibuster count had ballooned to 137.

Now we have a total mockery of majority rule. And it bears repeating that just 41 Senate Republicans, representing only 21 percent of the country, are blocking critical laws supported by the vast majority of Americans. 

This is exactly the opposite of what the framers of the Constitution intended. They unequivocally rejected the notion that a minority of Senators could obstruct the majority. 

Every time Republicans use or defend the filibuster they’re directly violating the Constitution — the document they claim to be dedicated to. How can someone profess to be an “originalist” and defend the Constitution while repeatedly violating it?

Senators whose votes have been blocked by a minority should have standing to take this issue to the Supreme Court. And the Court should abolish the filibuster as violating the U.S. Constitution.

Is Billionaire Philanthropy a Sham?Remember when Jeff Bezos was...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 7:52am in

Is Billionaire Philanthropy a Sham?

Remember when Jeff Bezos was showered with praise for donating $100 million to food banks last year?

That may seem like a lot, and it is. But once you consider all that Bezos has raked in during the pandemic – including making $13 billion in a single day in 2020 – it’s a few hours of his earnings. 

It’s not just Bezos. Billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet also receive lots of praise for their “generous” charitable giving.

The truth about billionaire philanthropy is it isn’t charity. Its public relations, often used to cover up their exploitative business practices, shield their wealth, and deflect attention from all they money they pour into lobbying and campaign contributions to assure that their taxes remain historically low. 

These so-called “charitable contributions” are also tax-deductible, meaning you and I are subsidizing them. I don’t know about you, but I believe taxpayers should be deciding where their tax dollars ultimately go.

America doesn’t need their charity. We need them to pay their fair share in taxes 

The Real Socialism in America Isn’t What You ThinkYou may have...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/08/2021 - 9:07am in

The Real Socialism in America Isn’t What You Think

You may have heard Republicans in Congress rail about how the Democrats’ agenda is chock-full of scary “socialist” policies. 

We do have socialism in this country — but it’s not Democrats’ policies. The real socialism is corporate welfare. 

Thousands of big American corporations rake in billions each year in government subsidies, bailouts, and tax loopholes – all funded on the taxpayer dime, and all contributing to higher stock prices for the richest 1 percent who own half of the stock market, as well as CEOs and other top executives who are paid largely in shares of stock. 

Big Tech, Big Oil, Big Pharma, defense contractors, and big banks are the biggest beneficiaries of corporate welfare.

How? Follow the money. These corporations and their trade groups spend hundreds of millions each year on lobbying and campaign contributions. Their influence-peddling pays off. The return on these political investments is huge. It’s institutionalized bribery. 

An even more insidious example is corporations that don’t pay their workers a living wage. As a result, their workers have to rely on programs like Medicaid, public housing, food stamps and other safety nets. Which means you and I and other taxpayers indirectly subsidize these corporations, allowing them to enjoy even higher profits and share prices for their wealthy investors and executives.

Not only does corporate welfare take money away from us as taxpayers. It also harms smaller businesses that have a harder time competing with big businesses that get these subsidies. Everyone loses except those at the top. 

It’s more socialism for the rich, harsh capitalism for the rest. 

It should be ended. 

The Media Bias No One is Talking AboutThe mainstream media has...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/08/2021 - 2:23pm in

The Media Bias No One is Talking About

The mainstream media has historically tried to balance left and right in its political coverage, and present what it views as a reasonable center.

That may sound good in theory. But the old politics no longer exists and the former labels “left” versus “right” are outdated. 

Today it’s democracy versus authoritarianism, voting rights versus white supremacy. There’s no reasonable center between these positions, no justifiable compromise. Equating them is misleading and dangerous.

You hear the mainstream media say, for example, that certain “Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties.” These reports equate Republican lawmakers who are actively promoting Trump’s big lie that the 2020 election was stolen, with Democratic lawmakers who are fighting to extend health care and other programs to help people. 

These are not equivalent. Trump’s big lie is a direct challenge to American democracy. Even if you disagree with providing Americans better access to health care, it won’t destroy our system of government. 

You also hear that both sides are gripped by equally dangerous extremism. Labeling them “radical left” and “radical right” suggests that the responsible position is somehow between these so-called extremes. 

Can we get real? One side is trying to protect and preserve voting rights. The other side is trying to suppress votes under the guise of “election integrity.”  

But there isn’t and never was a problem of “election integrity.” The whole issue of “election integrity” in the 2020 election was manufactured by Donald Trump and his big lie about voter fraud, and was bought and propagated by the Republican Party. 

Today’s Republican Party is behind what historians regard as the biggest attack on voting rights since Jim Crow, but the media frames this as a right-versus-left battle that’s just politics as usual. Equating the two sides is false and dangerous.

Or compare the coverage of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, on one hand, with the coverage of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar on the other. You’d think they were all equally out of the mainstream, some on the extreme right, some on the extreme left. That’s bunk. 

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, in addition to spreading dangerous conspiracy theories, harassing colleagues, and promoting bigotry, don’t actually legislate or do anything for their constituents. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar both organize to help everyday people, deliver for their constituents, and have pushed legislation to provide universal school meals, expand affordable housing, and combat the climate crisis.

Equating all these lawmakers suggests that the responsible position is halfway between hateful, delusional conspiracy theories on the one hand, and efforts to fight white supremacy, save the planet, and empower working people on the other. 

It’s similar to what the media did following Donald Trump’s infamous condemnation of “both sides” after the deadly violence sparked by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. In the ensuing weeks, America’s six top mainstream newspapers used just as much space condemning anti-Nazi counter-protesters as they did actual neo-Nazis.

But research shows white supremacists pose a significantly graver threat than those trying to stop them. White supremacists are animated by racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry, violence and hate. 

Battling white supremacy is not the same as advocating it. Passing laws to prevent voter suppression is not the same as passing laws to suppress votes. Fighting for our democracy is not the same as seeking to destroy it. 

The media equating both sides, one “left” and one “right,” suggests there’s a moderate middle between hate and inclusion, between democracy and proto-fascism. 

This is misleading, dangerous, and morally wrong. Don’t fall for it.

Economic Update: Chile’s Feminist Social Revolution

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/08/2021 - 1:46am in

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A weekly show focusing on the economic dimensions of everyday life and alternative ways to organize our economy and politics, with Prof. Richard D. Wolff.

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