Coal: There Is No Good Way to Get It

coal-miner

John Peeler: The wrenching drama of the latest coal mine disaster, this one at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, reminds us to be careful what we wish for. Just as the Obama administration is finally imposing a moratorium and stronger regulations on “mountaintop removal” as a means of getting at coal through open-pit mining, an explosion in a deep mine points up the hazards of getting at coal the traditional way.

Capitalism’s Golden Rule

Chevrolet

Bob Letcher: doubt that any portion of the collapse of GM was included as a cost of NOT having national healthcare. But all those Golden Handcuff’s that GM’s employees understandably put on their own wrists as the only way they could see for keeping their loved ones healthy and covered just might have contributed to the recent very expensive collapse of the company, the company towns, all the nameplates and jobs.

Break Up the Banks

Stimulus

Robert Reich: As long as the big banks are allowed to remain big, their political leverage over Washington will remain big. And as long as their political leverage remains big, the taxpayer and economic tab for the next mess they create will be big. By all means, give regulators resolution authority and also impose the tightest regulations possible. But Congress and the White House shouldn’t stop there. Limits should be placed on how big big banks can become.

Alan Greenspan: As Unrepentant as Ever

alan-greenspan

Joseph Palermo: He still wants to blame a “few bad apples,” instead of looking at his own role fanning the flames and pouring gasoline on the fire while the $8 trillion housing bubble was being pumped up. Greenspan said AIG’s problems were with insurance, but Born countered that if CDSs had been insurance they would have been regulated. Greenspan is bullshitting us again.

Stock Ownership: Theory vs. Reality

Money

Ron Wolff: I can’t help wondering how much more I (and millions of other Americans) could be earning from our stock portfolios if the billions of dollars paid in executive compensation (based on rationale that is marginal at best) were distributed to the shareholders.

Paper Entrepreneurs Beating Product Entrepreneurs: 30 Years On

Stock-broker

Robert Reich: Paper entrepreneurs ensure that capital is allocated efficiently among product enrepreneurs. But paper entrepreneurs do not directly enlarge the economic pie. They only arrange and divide the slices. They provide nothing of tangible use. For an economy to maintain its health, entrepreneurial rewards should flow primarily to product, not paper.

Greenspan, Summers, and Why the Economy Is So Out of Whack

Alan Greenspan

Robert Reich: If any three people are most responsible for the failure of financial regulation, they are Greenspan, Larry Summers, and my former colleague, Bob Rubin. In 1999 they advised Congress to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which since 1933 had separated commercial from investment banking. By 1999, Wall Street was salivating over such a repeal because it wanted to create financial supermarkets that could use commercial deposits to place bets in the financial casino. That would yield the Street trillions.

Fraud on the Street

Wall Street Bears

Robert Reich: It’s now clear Lehman Brothers’ balance sheet was bogus before the bank collapsed in 2008, catapulting the Street and the world into the worst financial crisis since 1929. The Lehman bankruptcy examiner’s recent report details what just about everyone on the Street has known since the firm imploded – that Lehman defrauded its investors. Even Hank Paulson, in his recent memoir, referred to Lehman’s balance sheet as bogus.

Revitalized Manufacturing Base Will Stabilize U.S. Economy

Manufacturing job

Tracy Emblem: The public should ask both government and corporate America this question: Should corporate America focus only on making profit any possible way using the cheapest possible avenues to produce products and services they sell in America or should corporate America ask itself how do we create good paying jobs for Americans?

Putting the Brakes on the Corporate Model

Toyota rough seas

Ron Wolff: How ironic (and unfortunate) it is that Toyota’s massive current crisis was caused, by its own admission, by a switch from the traditional Japanese model of high quality to the Western desire for growth and profit.

Health Care Battle Ends; War on Social Security Begins

Shamus Cooke: FL-CIO President Richard Trumka offers a splendid vision: “The best way to fix the deficit is to create 10 million jobs now — the number of jobs needed to close our jobs deficit. This will require large amounts of public investment in the short term, which should be paid for in future years by taxing Wall Street. In addition to creating jobs for Main Street this tax will also curb short-term speculation and other Wall Street abuses that caused this recession.”

Why the President’s Next Big Thing Should Be Jobs

Unemployed

Robert Reich: Including all those who have entered the job market since the bottom fell out, the nation is about 11 million jobs short. The President ought to use his second honeymoon to get a jobs bill that will make a difference.

Unemployment? Or Unwillingness to Pay for Services?

Joblessness

Ron Wolff: Meanwhile, millions of people look for work. No, they’re not all trained to be police officers, probation officers, electrical engineers, or teachers. But many of them could be. And most of the rest are either qualified or COULD be qualified to perform tasks that provide society with useful — even necessary — services.

Detroit as a Farm

Detroit

David A. Love: That we’ve reached the point of entertaining the idea—of turning Detroit into a semi-rural city—reflects both a crisis of failed urban policies, and an opportunity to rebuild from the ashes.

Charity CEOs Get Rich by Taking From the Poor

ES_homeless-family-in-car

Emily Spence: Years ago, the founder of central Massachusetts’ food bank told me of the obscenely high salaries that the directors of a major, well-known Massachusetts charity providing funds for hungry Americans received every year, an amount that was purposefully not readily made public. The reason is that all of the volunteers for this charity, that raises millions of dollars each year, would be greatly dismayed that around a fourth of them were, actually, working to enrich upper management.

Generations

Generations

Joseph Palermo: he Boomers have contributed so much to the world and transformed it in so many amazing ways — technologically, sociologically, emotionally, etc. (made possible by the investments in education of their parents) — Yet they’ve decided to let their children fend for themselves. They’ve so failed us. The Boomers have made more money collectively than any generation in human history but they appear intent on hogging it all.

Beyond Unemployment Insurance in the Face of Structural Job Loss

Unemployed

Bob Letcher: Unemployment compensation was conceived as a temporary solution to a temporary problem, getting people through the down part of one cycle to the up part of the next cycle; not as a long-term solution to a long-term structural problem.

“History Is a Protective Armor Against Being Misled”

Old Car

Berry Craig: Republicans like McCain love it when Buick Guys trash “liberal elitists.” They love it more when Buick Guys vote Republican. Never mind that that the polices of the GOP (and its conservative Southern “Blue Dog” Democratic soul mates) help make the rich richer and leave Buick Guys living in housing projects and driving heaps.

Not Your Father’s Economy

1949_Futuramic_Oldsmobile_88

Bob Letcher: Remember the ad, “This is not your Father’s Oldsmobile.”—the one with Captain Kirk beaming into his daughter’s Oldsmobile? Well, these days, there isn’t anyone’s Oldsmobile anymore; not yours, not your Father’s, not Captain Kirk’s… it’s all just gone: the nameplate, the jobs, the factories, the towns—and the lights have been turned out. And that’s just at Oldsmobile.

Drive to Eliminate Social Security Accelerates

retired couple

Shamus Cooke: The nonchalance which Friedman calls for cutting Social Security is indicative of the climate in Washington, where the last remnants of liberalism have been suffocated under the heavy demands of profit-hungry corporations, especially financial institutions and big banks.

Employers Take Beating Laying Off Employees

Layoffs

Sherwood Ross: As millions of Americans have been fired by employers struggling to remain profitable, we have all borne witness to Corporate America’s calloused disregard of its workers. Now, canny business economists claim the layoffs have hurt employers, too.

Us Greedy Geezers and the “Commission” Plot

Lucky, Ronald Reagan, Lady Thatcher

There are not two groups involved, the young and the old. It’s a continuum starting from entrance into the workforce until retirement. While he says he speaks in the interest of the young, if there is a severe curtailment of Medicare and Social Security those hurt most will be the youngsters when they reach the age where they need them both.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

thunder-horse--family

Thunder Horse: Despite nearly insurmountable conditions, few resources, and against unbelievable odds, Nation after Nation of Indigenous leaders and their people are working hard to counteract decades of oppression and forced destruction of their cultures, to bring their citizens back to a life of self-respect and self-sufficiency in today’s world.

Dollars for Death, Pennies for Life

Helmand Refugee Camp (photo by Fardin Waezi)

Norman Solomon: While commanders in Afghanistan were launching what the New York Times called “the largest offensive military operation since the American-led coalition invaded the country in 2001,” the situation in Haiti was clearly dire.

Main Street Needs a Hand

Doing nothing on jobs

Tracy Emblem: Some say government should not be in the business of creating jobs. They are wrong. The government is the custodian of the public land and buildings. All improvements thereto benefit the people. President Roosevelt put people to work improving the public lands with roads and structures when the U.S. had 25-percent unemployment. In 2008, economists warned the government that we could suffer that again if we did not bail out Wall Street. Well, now, Main Street needs a hand.

Too Big to Fail Capitalism

Oil Wells

Craig Williams: Businesses are constantly in competition, but at some point, as they evolve, either one or a small group of companies often control most of market share. Combine that with a money-driven political system and you have industries too big to fail and a powerless population to weak to succeed.

The Democrats, the Deficit, and Social Security

Core Healthcare

Shamus Cooke: Unions and progressive groups must educate and mobilize their base to confront both the Democrats and Republicans over the protection of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. However, it is not enough for only the leaders of unions and community groups to pressure the Democrats over this issue, especially when Obama has made it clear that he prefers the advice of Wall Street CEOs.

One Free Market System for Wall Street, Another for Main Street

Upsidedown-mortgages

Robert Reich: Rather than defending the outsized paychecks of Dimon, Blankfein, and the rest of Wall Street as part of the free market system, the President needs to demand that Wall Street help homeowners on Main Street. The Obama White House should have made this a condition of getting the giant bailouts in the first place. The least it can do now is to is to make the free market system work for everyone.

Massive Sioux Indian Reservation Battles Snow with Three Plows

snow reservation

Denis Campbell: 8000 telephone poles snapped in Potomac, Westchester, or Greenwich, crews would work 24/7 to restore power. Yet many in the Cheyenne Sioux Reservation have been without power or heat for more than five days. They daily brave temperatures and wind chills of -19 degrees.

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