politics

Rebuilding the Yellow Brick Road

A new worker-ownership evolution-revolution featuring more virtuous capitalism communities of practice is demonstrating that doing well can realistically and profitably be based on doing good. This brave new economic world is emerging from green-shoot, “made in America” antidotes to structural unemployment and income inequality, sprouting ubiquitously among increasing absentee-owner-plagued urban and rural geographies. Hybrid home, land, and workplace sovereignty-recuperation models through local equity enterprises are building a “new green economy” equation, where labor seeks to operate in a permanent seller’s market as does domestic energy sourcing with renewables and distributed generation serving as means to better, more sustaining, stakeholder-centric ends.

Societal benefits from this approach are inclusive and sustaining. Comparative labor advantages are sourced locally, stakeholders equate to shareholders, and profits recycle to the businesses and communities that produce them. Local labor regains its natural place-based sovereignty in regards to its relationship with local and exterritorial capital which, while necessary and hopefully sufficient, is subordinated to the needs of the working class people and communities it finances instead of the reverse. Under this approach, solidarity as a founding American immigrant-inspiring and hosting community principle so closely aligned with freedom and daily liberties is reborn, rewired, and reused. (more…)

The President’s Climate Action Plan | Executive Office of the President

While no single step can reverse the effects of climate change, we have a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted and damaged. Through steady, responsible action to cut carbon pollution, we can protect our children’s health and begin to slow the effects of climate change so that we leave behind a cleaner, more stable environment.

In 2009, President Obama made a pledge that by 2020, America would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels if all other major economies agreed to limit their emissions as well. Today, the President remains firmly committed to that goal and to building on the progress of his first term to help put us and the world on a sustainable long-term trajectory. Thanks in part to the Administration’s success in doubling America’s use of wind, solar, and geothermal energy and in establishing the toughest fuel economy standards in our history, we are creating new jobs, building new industries, and reducing dangerous carbon pollution which contributes to climate change. In fact, last year, carbon emissions from the energy sector fell to the lowest level in two decades. At the same time, while there is more work to do, we are more energy secure than at any time in recent history. In 2012, America’s net oil imports fell to the lowest level in 20 years and we have become the world’sleading producer of natural gas – the cleanest-burning fossil fuel.

Read the whole plan at whitehouse.gov.

New Legislation Helps Drive the National Cooperative Movement | PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The chief Congressional champion for the national cooperative movement, Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), has introduced H.R. 2437, the Creating Jobs Through Cooperatives Act.

The legislation authorizes $25 million per year through 2017 to create the National Cooperative Development Program within the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. This program will provide assistance in a number of ways including:

  • awarding grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities for technical assistance to cooperatives or groups seeking to form co-ops;
  • providing guidance, best practices and technical assistance to communities seeking to establish cooperatives;
  • creating a revolving loan fund to provide seed capital to groups attempting to form cooperatives; and
  • provide funding to train providers with technical assistance and support existing professional development for organizations engaged in cooperative development.

Read the whole press release at PR Newswire.

State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America | New York Times

By David A. Stockman

The Dow Jones and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes reached record highs on Thursday, having completely erased the losses since the stock market’s last peak, in 2007. But instead of cheering, we should be very afraid.

Over the last 13 years, the stock market has twice crashed and touched off a recession: American households lost $5 trillion in the 2000 dot-com bust and more than $7 trillion in the 2007 housing crash. Sooner or later — within a few years, I predict — this latest Wall Street bubble, inflated by an egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains, will explode, too.

Since the S.&P. 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the “bottom” 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.

So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants, unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nation’s bills. By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing. But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble.

When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008. Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even today’s feeble remnants of economic growth.

THIS dyspeptic prospect results from the fact that we are now state-wrecked. With only brief interruptions, we’ve had eight decades of increasingly frenetic fiscal and monetary policy activism intended to counter the cyclical bumps and grinds of the free market and its purported tendency to underproduce jobs and economic output. The toll has been heavy.

As the federal government and its central-bank sidekick, the Fed, have groped for one goal after another — smoothing out the business cycle, minimizing inflation and unemployment at the same time, rolling out a giant social insurance blanket, promoting homeownership, subsidizing medical care, propping up old industries (agriculture, automobiles) and fostering new ones (“clean” energy, biotechnology) and, above all, bailing out Wall Street — they have now succumbed to overload, overreach and outside capture by powerful interests. The modern Keynesian state is broke, paralyzed and mired in empty ritual incantations about stimulating “demand,” even as it fosters a mutant crony capitalism that periodically lavishes the top 1 percent with speculative windfalls.

The culprits are bipartisan, though you’d never guess that from the blather that passes for political discourse these days.

Read the full op-ed from The New York Times.

The corporate ‘predator state’ | The Washington Post

By Katrina vanden Heuvel

Bipartisan agreement in Washington usually means citizens should hold on to their wallets or get ready for another threat to peace. In today’s politics, the bipartisan center usually applauds when entrenched interests and big money speak. Beneath all the partisan bickering, bipartisan majorities are solid for a trade policy run by and for multinationals, a health-care system serving insurance and drug companies, an energy policy for Big Oil and King Coal, and finance favoring banks that are too big to fail.

Economist James Galbraithcalls this the “predator state,” one in which large corporate interests rig the rules to protect their subsidies, tax dodges and monopolies. This isn’t the free market; it’s a rigged market.

Wall Street is a classic example. The attorney general announces that some banks are too big to prosecute. Despite what the FBI called an “epidemic of fraud,” not one head of a big bank has gone to jail or paid a major personal fine. Bloomberg News estimated that the subsidy they are provided by being too big to fail adds up to an estimated $83 billion a year.

Corporate welfare is, of course, offensive to progressives. The Nation and other media expose the endless outrages — drug companies getting Congress to ban Medicare negotiating bulk discounts on prices, Big Oil protecting billions in subsidies, multinationals hoarding a couple of trillion dollars abroad to avoid paying taxes, and much more. (more…)

Meet the New Left: Small-Business Owners | The Nation

By William Greider

A promising new force is finding its voice in progressive politics, though it is still widely ignored or misunderstood. These overlooked progressives are small-business owners and entrepreneurs who are not usually confused with left-wing activists. It does seem improbable: roughly half of small-business people are Republicans, only a third or so identify themselves as Democrats, and some certainly fit the old stereotype. The GOP idolizes business folks as free-market, small-government conservatives. On the left, they are frequently dismissed as small-minded right-wingers.

But if you listen to them more closely, you will hear jarring expressions of distinctly liberal opinions. And they express salty disgust for the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, which claim to speak for the little guys on Main Street. Actually, these little guys accuse the US Chamber and the NFIB of identity theft.

The American Sustainable Business Council, along with several other like-minded groups, is determined to counter this corporate-financed propaganda by enabling small-business owners to speak for themselves. Simple as that may sound, it has great potential to alter political alignments and clear the way for a future economy based on very different principles and values. The old stereotype has lost its relevance. (more…)

Running In The Deep – A Tale of Two Cities

Two of the hardest lessons to assimilate leading up to America’s 2012 national elections include the unchallenged devastation from extreme weather fall-out and credible domestic job creation economics by fully globalized industries such as automotive production. The first lesson is being re-learned in excruciating real-time (160 lives lost, $60 billion in damages, and counting) by the country’s powered-out, Northeast coastal populations. Today’s “Weather Security” imperatives are rechanneling yesterday’s “climate change” impasse like an action verb overshadows a noun.

In New York, the city that truly has it all with increasing frequency between reoccurring extreme weather and financial sector meltdown tsunamis, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s prophetic quip that “we have a 100-year flood every two years now” can apply both to Mother Nature and to Wall Street. Mayor Bloomberg’s recent presidential campaign endorsement represents the first and foremost “weather security” candidate pick of the 2012 election cycle.

Forget about the partisan politics, ideological polarization and vested interests distorting America’s climate change debate; hard, cold and wet reality has a way of realigning the national conversation, transforming ranting monologues into chastened dialogues. (more…)

The Shared Prosperity Election

Voting to preserve morally stale, unproductive and oligarchy self-serving economic inequalities will only reinforce the trickle-down public versus trickle-down private sector thematic impedance mismatch. This, in turn, will exacerbate opportunistic tendencies within those who jump to capitalize on so-called electoral mandates to entertain even more disingenuous comparisons between inherent incongruities. Economic statistics prove in jobs lost and created both domestically and overseas during any possible recent timeframe that predatory capitalism’s track record in picking and sticking winners and losers holds a candle to no one among the bottom rungs of America’s social misery index. (more…)

No Longer The “Gimme Election”

This year is no different from any other national election year in recent memory. Primal political party strategies emerging before November’s archetypal vote continue to mark strong differences between “prosperity gospel” versus compassionate conservatives on the right pitted against “divine left” elitist class versus working class progressives on the left. The principal similarities between the two inner party schisms are that both the “prosperity gospel” and “divine left” wings have dominated when governing while the themes of compassionate conservatism and working class justice serve to win elections. Choosing to honor what wins elections while ending this equally flawed dichotomy within either party will create the next decade’s governing mandate.

Similarly, juxtaposing campaign contradictions with economic reality, this year’s presidential candidates confront two principal problems trying to drive a political and philosophical schism between “an opportunity society, where free people and free enterprise thrive and success is admired and emulated,” and an activist, more efficient and effective government working to promote equal opportunities to “ensure that all Americans have a fair shot if they work hard.” First, really smart and competitive nations know how, eclectically, to converge both so that the whole exceeds the sum of the parts. Second, unmistakably skewed U.S. income inequality statistics show that the voting public knows that neither of the two approaches is working correctly either independently or together. (more…)

I Versus We, Me Versus You

For three full decades we’ve seen wrenching social dislocations in America’s rust belt occur when an unleashed, unchained, and morally unregulated private sector picks winners and losers. Today, roughly 23 million Americans are currently unemployed or under-employed, more than five million American homeowners have suffered foreclosure since the 2008 start of the financial “Great Recession” and, as Katrina vanden Heuvel reports in her recent “Extremism in defense of Gilded Age privilege” opinion piece, “the top 1 percent of Americans captured a staggering 93 percent of national income growth in 2010.” Statistics emerging from 2011 and 2012 threaten more of the same.

As a pathway back from this wealth inequality abyss, the Fall edition of the Harvard Business Review, “Managing Your Stakeholders,” stands out as an intriguing oxymoron in a shareholder-centric, “we built it all ourselves” economy that rewards practicing global labor arbitragers with oversized private equity fees for services rendered. The most original piece, “CEOs Must Engage All Stakeholders,” by Venkat Ramaswamy and Kerimcan Ozcan, highlights technology-induced “structural shifts in value creation” platforms that propel successful companies to “engage the individual in both defining and delivering” what really matters to “business-civic-social ecosystems.” According to the authors, these “experience-based,” “co-creative” engagement platforms (“assemblages of people, interfaces, processes, and artifacts”) reach outward rather than inward, embrace the synergistic global creative village rather than glorify just one leading individual, and represent the “new engines of capitalism” with a “more holistic wealth creation process” as their natural outcome. (more…)

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