Our Common Good

The president and CEO of Lacks Enterprises is warning his company’s 2,300 employees their paychecks will be smaller if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

Richard Lacks urged his employees to “vote to improve your standard of living” in a letter notifying them of their sixth bonus in almost three years thanks to the good times his automotive parts company has enjoyed.

Voter intimidation of the corporate kind. 

ThinkProgress spoke with MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, whose new book, Why Nations Fail (co-written by James Robinson), looks at the effect politics and policy have on economic growth and prosperity. Acemoglu said that he believes the most “pernicious” effect of income inequality is that it drains political power from lower- and middle-class Americans and allows the richest to then begin “changing the rules in their favor”

(by ThinkProgressVideo)

As I argue in “The Reactionary Mind,” conservatism is dedicated to defending hierarchies of power against democratic movements from below, particularly in the so-called private spheres of the family and the workplace. Conservatism is a defense of what I call “the private life of power.” Less a protection of privacy or property in the abstract, as many conservatives and libertarians like to claim, conservatism is a defense of the rights of bosses and husbands/fathers.

So it’s no surprise that the chief agenda items of the GOP since its string of Tea Party victories in 2010 have been to roll back the rights of workers — not just in the public sector, as this piece by Gordon Lafer makes clear, but also in the private sector — and to roll back the reproductive rights of women, as this chart, which Mike Konczal discusses, makes clear. Often, it’s the same Tea Party-controlled states that are pushing both agendas at the same time.

What I hadn’t predicted was that the GOP would be able to come up with a program, in the form of this anti-birth control employer legislation we’re now seeing everywhere, that would combine both agenda items at the same time.

[…]

There are many reasons to be wary of this line of argument, but the history of the Christian right provides perhaps the most important one of all. It’s often forgotten that one of the main catalysts for the rise of the Christian right was not school prayer or abortion but the defense of Southern private schools that were created in response to desegregation. By 1970, 400,000 white children were attending these “segregation academies.” States like Mississippi gave students tuition grants, and until the Nixon administration overturned the practice, the IRS gave the donors to these schools tax exemptions. And it was none other than Richard Viguerie, founder of the New Right and pioneer of its use of direct-mail tactics, who said that the attack on these public subsidies by the civil rights movement and liberal courts “was the spark that ignited the religious right’s involvement in real politics.”

According to historian Joseph Crespino, whose essay “Civil Rights and the Religious Right” in “Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s“ is must reading, the rise of segregation academies “was often timed exactly with the desegregation of formerly all-white public schools.” Even so, their advocates claimed to be defending religious minorities — and religious beliefs — rather than white supremacy. (Initially nonsectarian, most of these schools became evangelical over time.) Their cause, in other words, was freedom, not inequality; not the freedom of whites to associate with other whites (and thereby lord their status and power over blacks), as the previous generation of massive resisters had foolishly and openly admitted, but the freedom of believers to practice their own embattled religion. It was a shrewd transposition. In one fell swoop, the heirs of slaveholders became the descendants of persecuted Baptists, and Jim Crow a heresy the First Amendment was meant to protect.

Voting is the single most powerful weapon in a citizen’s arsenal and if you write off voting as useless you are doing exactly what the people you hate want you to do.

Barney Frank made this excellent point on Maddow’s show last night.  There is a lot of power in the vote.  ~SarahLee

usagov:

These tips can help you determine if your food and water are safe during a power outage or after a flood.

What are Rupert Murdoch, David and Charles Koch, Adolph Coors, Richard Mellon Scaife, and other billionaire advocates of unbridled capitalism after? They certainly are not worrying about sending their kids to college or paying their medical bills. Then what are they seeking? A psychiatrist might be better qualified to answer the question, but let me offer an amateur’s hunch, which arises from six decades of watching our legislatures, regulatory agencies, judiciary, public lands, mass media, and schools come under the influence, and often under the total control, of the richest Americans. What the free-enterprise billionaires are greedy for is not money but power, and not merely the power to take care of themselves and their families, which would be reasonable, but the power to have anything they want and do anything they want without limit, which is decidedly unreasonable. Anyone who has shared a house with a two-year-old or a fifteen-year-old has witnessed such a craving to fulfill every desire and throw off every constraint. Most children grow beyond this hankering for omnipotence. Those who carry the craving into adulthood may become sociopaths—incapable of sensing or caring for the needs of other people, indifferent to the harm they cause, reacting aggressively toward anyone or anything that blocks their will.

Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all. People to whom respect has never been shown riot because they feel they have little reason to show respect themselves, and it spreads like fire on a warm summer night. And now people have lost their homes, and the country is tearing itself apart.

Noone expected this. The so-called leaders who have taken three solid days to return from their foreign holidays to a country in flames did not anticipate this. The people running Britain had absolutely no clue how desperate things had become. They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong. And now my city is burning, and it will continue to burn until we stop the blanket condemnations and blind conjecture and try to understand just what has brought viral civil unrest to Britain. Let me give you a hint: it ain’t Twitter.

I’m stuck in the house, now, with rioting going on just down the road in Chalk Farm. Ealing and Clapham and Dalston are being trashed. Journalists are being mugged and beaten in the streets, and the riot cops are in retreat where they have appeared at all. Police stations are being set alight all over the country. This morning, as the smoke begins to clear, those of us who can sleep will wake up to a country in chaos. We will wake up to fear, and to racism, and to condemnation on left and right, none of which will stop this happening again, as the prospect of a second stock market clash teeters terrifyingly at the bottom of the news reports. Now is the time when we make our choices. Now is the time when we decide whether to descend into hate, or to put prejudice aside and work together. Now is the time when we decide what sort of country it is that we want to live in. Follow the #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter. And take care of one another.

It’s kind of funny that a bunch of rich people can band together and form a corporation, and that’s called ‘Free Enterprise’, but when workers do it, they call it Communism. Isn’t that weird?

Roseanne Barr (via leftish)

“It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize. ” -Theodore Roosevelt

(via letterstomycountry)

Corporations also organize together under the U.S. Chamber of commerce and the various industries organize under industry umbrellas like AHIP for the American Health Insurance group or the American Petroleum Company for Exxon and Shell, etc.    There are a lot of “unions” for those with the money - and they organize together to get the best deals they can from Congress at the expense of the taxpayer.  Citizens themselves have very few option and nothing with the same power and money.

The Fear & Favor report is about some of the things that come between that image and reality on a daily basis. From pushy advertisers to heavy-handed owners and local power players, there are a number of individuals and groups who would love to see certain kinds of stories in the news and not see certain others—and they have strings to pull. It’s the job of the independent journalist to stand up to such powerful forces; when it doesn’t happen, the public has a right to know.

This annual report only highlights some specific instances, of course, to represent what seem to be ever-increasing predations on the efforts of reporters to work with independence and integrity. Some are classic back-scratches and behind-the-scenes deals, some new variations on the old theme. All are unfortunate reflections of a corporate media system that is structurally ill-suited to serve as outlet for the robust and diverse dialogue democracy requires.