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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ron Wolff: The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), a multilateral treaty promoted by the United Nations, commits its parties to work toward stated objectives for all its citizens. As of December 8th, 160 countries had ratified it. Not us. The United States has “signed,” but the Senate has never ratified.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.