Archive for August, 2015
Read this: The subject of Climate Change provokes many differing emotions in all of us. Many of them we are not effectively equipped to deal with. Nevertheless we must. The article below found in The World Wildlife Magazine, by Lou Leonard looks at many of these ways we deal with sych an overwhelming issue. As recently stated by Dr. Jim Yong Kim President, World Bank Group “we know that if we don’t confront climate change, there will be no hope of ending poverty or boosting shared prosperity. Furthermore, the longer we delay, the higher the cost will be to do the right thing for our planet and our children.” Leonard goes on saying that “Climate change is almost always told as a bad news story.” He sights examples, some of which many of us had not considered like “in the years leading up to the Syrian civil war, the region suffered from the worst drought in its modern history. As Abu Khalil, a local commander in the Syrian opposition and a former cotton farmer, put it, this is ‘a revolution of hungry people.'” Leonard stresses the urgency saying “Carbon pollution is causing climate impacts already—today, decades ahead of schedule.” And, of course, there is the desperation argument that there is nothing we can do about it. But “unfortunately, that’s been proven not to be the case, and we need to begin to acknowledge the aspect of interdependence that is our effect on the environment even as the environment affects us. ” The arctic is the real indicator we need to watch. As Margaret Williams, leader of WWF’s Arctic program, says, “This isn’t Las Vegas; what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”
On the positive side Leonard says “While our climate system is changing faster than expected, so too are our energy, food and forest systems. And public attitudes and calls for action are also changing. In this case, the changes are not only fast, but many are really positive. Even better: these solutions are uniting rather than dividing us, which makes us stronger and more resilient for what’s ahead.”
There is too much in this excellent article to try to rehash here. Please invest the time to read the complete article. You will be better off for having done so.
Watch this: In a recent episode of Democracy Now, Amy Goodman shared a video where Bernie Sanders gives one of the best explanations of the supposed “need for austerity” in Greece I have come upon. He beautifully details the fabrication of this crisis by the wealthy and powerful 1% (including Goldman Sachs) and how this basic plan is spreading globally (Puerto Rico and elsewhere), largely unchecked. As is so common, those in power attempt to increase privatization and gain control of every valuable Greek asset they can find, eventually leaving Greece totally unable to meet any of its’ obligations and with no assets, only insurmountable debts. They propose “an increase in the regressive VAT tax from 13 percent to 23 percent; automatic budget cuts if the Greek economy under performs; privatization of state assets, including the electricity grid; deregulation of the transportation, rail, pharmaceutical and other sectors in the economy; weakening of trade unions. In other words, the people of Greece are being told that their voices, which they cast in two elections, really do not matter, that their misery does not matter, that an entire generation of young people who are unemployed or underemployed does not matter, that the sick and the elderly do not matter, that democracy itself does not matter.” As Bernie continues he calls for an awakening, maybe a revolution, in every part of the human experience from economics to the environment and more. Please watch this approximately 13 minute video. It will be time well spent.
Watch this: It is amazing the power yielded by the word “socialism” in the USA. Whether it is politics, economy or something else, I find it is often used as a weapon with a single purpose: to end the discussion. It has become a kind of punctuation mark that translates to “The End”. The real problem is that we don`t really discuss it at all. A few stereotypes are cast about and that’s it. Most of us are probably not capable of discussing it and that may be the intention. By removing the word or redefining it`s meaning and use, it loses any potential power. It is time we begin to re-explore the word “socialism”, its meaning as well as how and where to most effectively apply it. The video below from The Laura Flanders Show is a very good short beginning in this direction. Here, she interviews economist Richard Wolfe and then John Nichols, from The Nation Magazine, to establish some basic understanding and history on the infamous “S” word. Please watch and then begin to use this word as a positive part of our democratic process, not a cliche based conversation stopper.
Watch this: Everyone is defensive regarding wasting their time. For new ideas to get a look they must be brief or they have no chance. Well Robert Reich is becoming the master of the short message via video. How appropriate considering Reich frequently makes fun of his own “short” standing. In this 3 minute video he joins with the organization http://www.makeitfairca.com/ to explain why it is past time to take a critical look at California’s infamous Prop 13 and “make it fair” by closing the corporate loopholes. Believe it or not, all businesses would not stampede from California.
“Reich is a world-renowned political economist, best-selling author, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. TIME magazine named Reich as one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He now works as the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. More recently, Reich is best known by his critically-acclaimed feature documentary film Inequality for All, as well as his series of witty and educational short videos on important economic issues facing our country.”
Sign the petition: According to the Guardian “Scientists have made it clear: 100% of Arctic oil must stay in the ground if we want to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.” Yet Obama is all over the place on the environment, particularly regarding the Arctic. Last week he “ignored their warnings and approved Arctic drilling. But now he’s pushing the boundaries of denial even further – by heading to Alaska on Monday to talk about the urgency of climate change.” Obama has often led us to believe he really believes the dangers implied by Climate Change and he sometimes seems on the right side. As this petition summarizes so beautifully, “Climate Leaders Don’t Drill the Arctic. Talking about the urgency of climate change while allowing massive fossil fuel extraction isn’t leadership, it’s hypocrisy. Science says we must not burn 80% of known fossil fuel reserves, including all Arctic oil. President Obama, to lead on climate, you must Keep It In The Ground.” Sign the petition to urge him down the right path.
Read this: Since the early 1970’s the 99% has increasingly been victims of the myth of “Trickle Down” economics. We don’t seem to hear the term as often today, but its’ policies continue to infect our political system, very much alive and well. The article below from The Daily KOS, by Laura Clawson, illustrates one of the key pieces that spread the effects of this myth – “reducing corporate taxes produces jobs”. This “frequently cited rationale for corporate tax breaks (suggests) that companies will use the extra money to create jobs. They’d love to create jobs, we’re told, if only they could afford to do so, and one more tax break will make that possible.” The reality, after recitation of the myth puts us to sleep, like any good fairy tale should, “we see that many companies are sitting on giant piles of cash and cutting jobs anyway.” But where are the numbers to support this you ask. According to Clawson’s article, “The AFL-CIO’s Paywatch includes some data on major corporate cash hoarders—five companies that added $57.8 billion to their cash stockpiles between 2007 and 2011 while cutting more than 64,000 jobs worldwide. (We can’t know how many of those jobs were in the United States, because companies aren’t required to tell us that.)” If we can’t kill the “Trickle Down” myth, what can we do? Perhaps a shift in policies would help – you think? “We know that helping these corporations accumulate more money doesn’t create jobs or help the working economy. And if lower corporate taxes created jobs, the United States would be at full employment and looking into making second jobs mandatory, given our effective corporate tax rate. If corporations are going to act only in their own shortest-term self-interest, our policies and politics should at least reflect that, and make it mandatory for them to pay something approaching their share.”
Read this: This article from The Huffington Post, by H. A. Goodman examines the growing battle within the Democratic supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. This battle is definitely heating up, particularly as Bernie is gaining significantly in the polls. Goodman does a good job of examining the reactions of Clinton supporters to the Sanders campaign and their use of defensive cries that the Sanders campaign is hurting the Democratic possibilities and sounds “like a Republican”. My take on all of this is a bit different. Although Bernie’s popularity definitely hurts Clinton’s campaign, I believe his gains are much more of a symptom of the thirst for a real progressive / socialistic / eqality platform by many Democrats / Americans. The Republican party has moved so far right that it is not even in this conversation, but the dilemma for Democrats is that, since Reagan, its’ party has also been slowly moving to the right, playing safe politics and taking its’ left almost completely for granted. The Sanders campaign has finally provided a full-blooded progressive / socialist platform centered on inequality and the middle class. And fortunately for his followers, he looks to have a very legitimate chance. This possibility of success has caused many Democrats to throw their hats in Bernie’s camp and Hillary’s team doesn’t quite know what to do. Read more from Goodman’s article to understand the Bernie vs Hillary battle lines.
Read this: Methane emissions, which are far worse than CO2, are rapidly spreading. The article below from The Daily KOS, by rktect is an example of science that is not covered by the major media. I often ask why, but the title “Don’t read this if you don’t want to know how bad it is” and the content of this article, disturbingly answers that question. Yes, this article tells a very disturbing story. “Methane Hydrate releases in the arctic as warned of by Sam Carana are now reported by NOAA to be 150 miles across. You will remember that even slight releases of methane in the arctic were enough to cause polar researchers like Jason Box to freak out a little over a year ago.” You might be thinking that since you haven’t heard of this it can’t be that critical. Think again! “Methane is orders of magnitude worse than CO2 and its being released in 50 Gigaton bursts farts that by themselves can cause an instant 1.3° C global temperature rise.” As the article repeatedly suggests, any reporting of this has been “Trumped” by, let’s just say more exciting news. Those of us who have followed 350.org’s premise that the world target should be to allow the global temperature to increase no more than 2 degrees C have to be greatly concerned about this newly reported event. “Now we have El Nino acting like a blowtorch raising the temperature of the whole Pacific Ocean 4-8 ° C and directing its focus towards the (US) west coast.” How will this affect overall global temperatures? It can’t be good! Read more in the article below and keep your eyes out for additional news (you will have to search for it since our national media will probably not cover it) on Methane problems related to Climate Change.
Watch this and think: In this video economist Richard Wolfe discusses his very different look at capitalism – a socialistic perspective. The video was produced in 2012, five years after the crash of 2007. He suggests we must look at bold changes, if we are to actually help the majority. He, along with “millions, see(s) a capitalist system no longer serving most Americans.” He rejects the Adam Smith premise that if everyone takes care of himself and works hard we will all rise. Interestingly, that theory has only worked for the very few. Wolfe insists that “the system of rules we are all playing by is the problem and that system must change.” I agree with Wolfe that our infatuation with capitalism has run its’ course and it is time for bold, substantial change. Watch the video and consider something different.
Sign the petition: What we have to remember is that in a democracy things are in flux all the time. Just because a bill becomes law doesn’t mean it will stay that way. The powerful are constantly trying to change things to fit their agendas. And regarding Voting Rights, “thanks to the Supreme Court, the Voting Rights Act is weaker now than when it was passed 50 years ago.” Conservative groups worked hard to undo the progress that progressives took for granted and now old battles must be fought again, just to get back to where we were. Read the Credo Action below and sign the petition helping to “Fight to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the Voting Rights Act and block new efforts to suppress African-American and Latino votes.”