Why economic recovery isn’t happening

Good old Robert Reich apparently still thinks Americans are able and willing to learn the lessons of history:

The major reason this recovery has been so anemic is not Europe’s debt crisis. It’s not Japan’s tsumami. It’s not Wall Street’s continuing excesses. It’s not, as right-wing economists tell us, because taxes are too high on corporations and the rich, and safety nets are too generous to the needy. It’s not even, as some liberals contend, because the Obama administration hasn’t spent enough on a temporary Keynesian stimulus.

The answer is in front of our faces. It’s because American consumers, whose spending is 70 percent of economic activity, don’t have the dough to buy enough to boost the economy – and they can no longer borrow like they could before the crash of 2008…

…What to do? There’s no simple answer in the short term except to hope we stay in first gear and don’t slide backwards. Rarely in history has the cause of a major economic problem been so clear yet have so few been willing to see it.

Over the longer term the answer is to make sure the middle class gets far more of the gains from economic growth.

How? We might learn something from history. During the 1920s, income concentrated at the top. By 1928, the top 1 percent was raking in an astounding 23.94 percent of the total (close to the 23.5 percent the top 1 percent got in 2007) according to analyses of tax records by my colleague Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. At that point the bubble popped and we fell into the Great Depression.

But then came the Wagner Act, requiring employers to bargain in good faith with organized labor. Social Security and unemployment insurance. The Works Projects Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps. A national minimum wage. And to contain Wall Street: The Securities Act and Glass-Steagall Act…

A nation of losers

Charles Pierce is on to something regarding the casino mentality that has slowly poisoned this country over the years since the first non-Nevada casinos in America opened:

…Consider: Most every state in the Union, including the Commonwealth (God save it!) here, would rather build 20 casinos than risk raising taxes a dime, as though gambling itself were not a brutal tax. (How do I know this? Because once, long ago, on the night Mark McGwire and his pharmacist went past Roger Maris and his bartender for the single-season home run record, I sat in a casino in Tunica, Mississippi, and watched a 300-pound woman with oxygen tubes up her nose feed quarters into a slot machine while wearing a T-shirt that said, “Jesus Is The Answer.” This was the same trip on which I saw a billboard outside Vicksburg that suggested, “Sell Your Car For Cash.”) The entire Republican economic plan is one long gamble on a bunch of economic theories that already have failed twice in my lifetime. Ask even earnest young liberals how you manage to get a middle class without a manufacturing base, an active government, and strong unions, and you get the same kind of shrug you get along the rail when you ask someone why they bet the 5-horse when the creature plainly has hooves the size of a country ham. Ask Willard Romney the same thing, and he makes even less sense…

Issa ramps up witchhunt against do-nothing attorney general

Today’s Huffington Post quoted Judit Rius, U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, in regard to proposed provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact: “It’s pathetic, but it is what it is. The world’s upside-down.”

This truism can be used in assessing much of what goes on in Washington, DC these days, thanks to the presence of out-of-control wing nuts such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). Has there ever been a more ineffectual attorney general than Eric Holder, especial when it comes to prosecuting the corrupt and powerful? Why does Issa have such a raging hard-on for this guy?

From ThinkProgress:

In 2006, during the presidency of George W. Bush, the Justice Department launched the first of a series of misguided “gunrunning” schemes that eventually led to the death of federal Agent Brian Terry. Rather than look to ways to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, however, House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) spent his tenure as a committee chair trying unsuccessfully to embarrass Attorney General Eric Holder.

Next week, Issa plans to escalate this witchhunt by holding a committee vote on a resolution to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress…

Good luck finding those black holes

I don’t know how much taxpayer money was used to construct and deploy this orbiting telescope, but it will be money well spent if NASA can finding the black holes that sucked away millions of jobs and homes, a functioning federal government, honest officeholders, and hopes for economic recovery in the United States. More here.

What trade-agreement pledge?

The big trade deals during the Clinton and Bush administrations — NAFTA is Exhibit A — came with false promises and outright lies concerning how they would affect American workers. But the hope-and-change Obama administration would do business in a more honest, open and worker-friendly fashion than those other administrations, right?

If you believed that, you probably also believed Barack Obama was more concerned about putting “folks” back to work than bailing out his bankster friends. From The Raw Story:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a forthcoming U.S. trade agreement that looks to solidify a seamless regional economy in the Pacific-rim, would give multinational corporations the power to challenge and even avoid compliance with laws in member countries — including the U.S. — provided a super-national corporate tribunal agrees with their claim.

That’s according to documents leaked this week by the Citizens Trade Campaign, an activist group responsible for leaking TPP proposals on intellectual property last year. The latest leak details a TPP draft chapter on “investments,” which proposes an independent dispute arbitration process that would be empowered to supersede domestic laws or regulatory actions in member states if they are seen as conflicting with the TPP’s framework…

In the event of a dispute between two entities incorporated in two different countries that are both members of one of these treaties, a trade tribunal serves essentially as a parallel legal system that exists outside of national laws and wields the power to knock down those laws or free multinational corporations from their obligation to comply with them. Considerations pertaining to labor rights or environmental protections are often not factored in to these decisions.

Although President Barack Obama had pledged during the 2008 presidential campaign to “not support NAFTA style trade agreements in the future,” he appears to have embraced them instead…

Horror story

Jonathan Turley with another heartbreaking Taser tale, this time in Baltimore. I keep saying this: Police departments will stop the indiscriminate use of tasers when citizens insist on it. Speak up in your town!

A disturbing lawsuit has been filed against the Baltimore County Police Department by Linda Johnson over the death of her husband, Architect Carl D. Johnson on May 27, 2010. Johnson was pepper sprayed, tasered, and beaten before his death on the way home from Bible study class.


Linda Johnson is suing the Maryland State Police, Baltimore County Police, individual commanders and six officers. Her lawsuit claims that her husband suffered a diabetic attack after calling a friend and crashing on I-795. First to the scene was State Trooper Davon Parker who pepper sprayed Johnson after he lowered his window of his car, which had crashed into the median. When Johnson got out of the car, Parker clubbed him on the knee and then allegedly another officer (Loss) clubbed him. When Baltimore County Police Officer Nicholas Wolferman arrived, he also allegedly beat Johnson. Three more officers arrived and one, Baltimore County Officer Andrew O’Neill tasered Johnson twice. Officer Loss then allegedly punched him in the face. Eight more officers then arrived — leaving one wondering if there were any officers left at headquarters. The complaint states that “there were approximately 52 individuals that responded to the scene.”


We have been following cases involving the use of tasers and excessive force by police. However, Baltimore has been cited as a standout jurisdiction in the use of tasers — leading to calls for investigation.

Johnson was only 48 and lives behind his wife of 27 years. Their son, Darren Johnson, predeceased his parents and Linda has now lost her husband.

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