Category Archives: Class

Pipeline protesting vets head to Flint, Michigan


Thousands of American military veterans joined with Native Americans and environmentalists to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline project, and with the Obama administration placing a halt on the project, at least until the Trumpster takes office, the vets are heading to another region plagued by pipeline projects.

Their new target is Flint, Michigan, where aging lead pipes have added dangerous levels of the highly toxic metal to the water supply of a largely poor African American population.

From U.S. Uncut:

The veterans who just joined the indigenous protest to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota are heading to Flint, Michigan next.

While a date hasn’t yet been set for the trip to Flint, Wes Clark Jr., who organized a force of over 4,000 U.S. military veterans to mobilize for Standing Rock, said he’s planning a similar mobilization to help the people of Flint.

“This problem is all over the county. It’s got to be more than veterans,” Clark told the Flint Journal. “People have been treated wrong in this county for a long time.”

Flint resident Arthur Woodson, who is a veteran and a supporter of the Standing Rock protesters, said the veterans coming to Flint may help revive media attention on the community’s plight of tainted drinking water, and that the renewed public pressure could bring about an effective solution.

“All the media attention that was there brought more attention to Standing Rock. The government had a change of heart,” Woodson told the Journal.

Chart of the day II: Thee world’s happiest workers


And the U.S. is way down the list.

From a Universum Global survey of 200,000+ young workers in 57 countries, with rankings based on three factors: Employee satisfaction, an employee’s willingness to recommend a current employer, and an employee’s likelihood to switch jobs in the next two to four years:

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Trump appointee ensures a Citizens United regime


No surprise here.

American politics has become a plaything of plutocrats, and the latest Trump appointment ensures that things will only get worse as one citizen, one vote is fully transformed into one dollar, one vote.

From the Intercept:

Don McGahn, soon to be Donald Trump’s White House counsel, bears as much responsibility as any single person for turning America’s campaign finance system into something akin to a gigantic, clogged septic tank.

From 2008 to 2013, McGahn was one of the six members of the Federal Election Commission, the government agency in charge of civil enforcement of campaign finance laws. While there, he led a GOP campaign that essentially ground enforcement of election laws to a halt.

“I’ve always thought of McGahn’s appointment as an FEC commissioner as analogous to appointing an anarchist to be chief of police,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president at Common Cause. “He’s largely responsible for destroying the FEC as a functioning law enforcement agency, and seemingly takes great pride in this fact. McGahn has demonstrated a much stronger interest in expanding the money-in-politics swamp than draining it.”

Elaine Weintraub, a current FEC commissioner, overlapped with McGahn’s entire tenure. McGahn and his two fellow GOP appointees, she recalled, possessed a “very strong ideological opposition to campaign finance laws in general.”

This ideology — that essentially all limits on campaign contributions and spending are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment — was developed by a loose affiliation of conservative lawyers including McGahn, beginning in the late 1990s. It started bearing fruit a decade later with a series of court decisions, including the Citizens United ruling in 2010. McGahn’s page on his law firm’s website describes him as one of the “architects of the campaign finance revolution.”

Chart of the Day: The elephant in the room


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From the Yomiuri Shimbun, offering a sharp critique of neoliberalism which notes:

U.S. leaders seemingly assumed that economic inequality among citizens would not significantly increase as a result of their policies. This is because they believed in the “trickle down” theory, whereby an increase in the number of wealthy people and large corporations would stimulate the economy and gradually benefit poor people and smaller businesses.

But this trickle down never happened.

Manufacturers moved their production facilities to emerging economies with cheap labor, such as China. Laborers in developed economies were forced to take lower-paid work. Investors started demanding more dividends from successful companies, leading them to prioritize payments to investors over increasing the salaries and benefits of their employees. Large corporations transferred their profits to tax havens to evade taxation.

>snip<

[W]hite laborers — the driving force of Trump’s victory — have fallen to a position of vulnerability over the past 30 years of neoliberalist policy. Perhaps it was a matter of course that their distrust of established politics could not be overturned.

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump is undoubtedly a “winner” in the stratified society. The policies he proposes, such as improving infrastructure, have the potential to boost the economy for the time being. But they also include generous tax reductions for the rich and lower corporate taxes, which could go in the opposite direction of the attempts to rectify disparity.

The many contradictions contained in Trump’s policies are the result of an attempt to attract a wide range of voters.

Headline of the day: Family Feud, plutocratic edition


From the London Daily Mail:

Rockefellers at war: Famous family feud after some descendants speak out against ExxonMobil – the company to which they owe their fortune – for downplaying climate change truth

  • Some members of the Rockefeller family are speaking out against ExxonMobil, which grew from ancestor John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil 
  • The descendants had funded research, showing that ExxonMobil knew more about global warming earlier than they let on 
  • They now want the company to apologize for its past 
  • Not all in the family agree with this contingent however 
  • ‘I don’t think denouncing a family legacy is the best way to go about doing this,’ Ariana Rockefeller said

Disabled Greeks oppose new austerity regime


We should give austerity a new name: Call it the Reverse Robin Hood Doctrine.

Austerity is the regime imposed on the world’s debt-ridden poor nations to qualify them for loans to pay the corporations and banksters of the world’s richest nations.

To make those payments, the debt-plagued countries are forced to slash programs designed to help the nation’s afflicted, poor, sick, and otherwise afflicted.

The latest crisis, the Great Recession, brought Greece to its knees, and the government sought loans from the Troika, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission.

Needless to say, austerity was imposed, forcing drastic cuts in the national healthcare system, the selloff of public assets [including power companies, transit systems, ports, and much more], as well as drastic cuts in public pensions and paychecks, as well as reduced social benefits payments imposed on those who could least afford the loss.

The austerity regime prompted voter to elect a government which promised them an end to austerity, but Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has knuckled under, and new rounds of deprivation are underway.

Some of those most deeply impacted are now expressing their outrage.

From Kathimerini:

Disabled people and patients with chronic illnesses from around Greece protested in central Athens Friday against austerity measures as the government races to clinch a new deal with bailout lenders.

Protesters in wheelchairs carried black balloons while deaf demonstrators wore white gloves as they used sign language to join chants of anti-government slogans.

Disabled groups are seeking exemptions from budget austerity measures imposed under the country’s international bailout agreements.

Unemployment among people with disabilities was more than double the national jobless rate of 23 percent with poverty levels also sharply higher, according to Yannis Vardakastanis, head of the National Confederation of Disabled People of Greece.

“We want to live in dignity,” Vardakastanis, who is blind, told the AP. “It’s the obligation of the government and European institutions to stop us from being further isolated, impoverished and discriminated against.”

Greece is currently finalizing a new package of economic measures that would make home foreclosures and business firings easier. The measures are required in exchange for new bailout loan payouts and talks on debt relief measures.

Shame on the Troika, and shame on Tsipras.

Headlines of the day: Oh, isn’t that rich? Really rich


“That” being the Trump cabinet.

First from the Washington Post:

Donald Trump is assembling the richest administration in modern American history

  • Trump is putting together what will be the wealthiest administration in modern American history. His announced nominees for top positions include several multimillionaires, an heir to a family mega-fortune and two Forbes-certified billionaires, one of whose family is worth as much as industrial tycoon Andrew Mellon was when he served as treasury secretary nearly a century ago.
  • Rumored candidates for other positions suggest Trump could add more ultra-rich appointees soon.
  • Many of the Trump appointees were born wealthy, attended elite schools and went on to amass even larger fortunes as adults. As a group, they have much more experience funding political candidates than they do running government agencies.

And from BBC News:

Trump assembles America’s ‘richest cabinet’

  • US President-elect Donald Trump took a populist tone on the campaign trail, pledging to stand for a beleaguered working class abandoned by the elite.
  • Mr Trump, of course, brings immense wealth to his new role. The property tycoon’s worth is estimated at $3.7bn (£3bn) by Forbes magazine, with more than 500 businesses in his empire.
  • But he might not be the richest member of his team. His nominee for education secretary, Betsy Devos, is the daughter of Richard DeVos, who founded the Amway retail giant. Forbes puts their family wealth at $5.1bn.
  • Next up is Wilbur Ross, the president-elect’s pick for commerce secretary. Forbes puts the wealth of Mr Ross, who headed Rothschild Inc’s bankruptcy practice before starting an investment firm, at $2.5bn.
  • Mr Ross’s deputy will be Todd Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, who has an estimated wealth of $1.75bn.

Finally, the front page headline on the New York Times:

Trump Cabinet Choices Signal Embrace of Wall St. Elite

  • Donald J. Trump picked Steven Mnuchin, a hedge fund manager, to run the Treasury and Wilbur L. Ross Jr., a billionaire investor, to head the Commerce Department.
  • The choices have been cheered by investors, but they stand in stark contrast to the populist campaign that Mr. Trump ran.

And while not headlines, two of this morning’s tweets from Sen. Bernie Sanders add some perspective:

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As does the editorial cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times:

David Horsey: Trump gets comfy in the Washington swamp

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