Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Truth About Deficits

Economics professor Charles M.A. Clark has written an excellent article for Commonweal on the truth behind the current deficit hysteria and the relationship between the "hawk" position on deficits and Catholic Social Teaching. A must read.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Strange Death Of Social Democracy

Bill Mitchell has an interesting post on the decline (or transformation) of social democratic parties, here. A depressing but important piece.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pro-Life In A Pro-Choice Party?

I am very sorry to have missed some excellent comments by several pro-life Democrats at the Democrats For Life of America panel on September 4, 2012, during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Below are links to remarks by the speakers at the panel:

Former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper;

Former Congressman Bart Stupak;

Tom Berg, St. Thomas Law School;

Steve Schneck, policy analyst at Catholic University of America

I especially like Steve Schneck's statement that the "most powerful abortifacient in America is poverty." These words should be emblazoned on red flags and flown at every pro-life and social justice rally in the nation.

Friday, September 21, 2012

No Fanfare For The Common Man

Paul Krugman has a very good piece on the GOP's disdain for working Americans, here. The Republican Party's contempt for ordinary working people is now so clear that it cannot be ignored.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Whose Left? Whose Right?

E.J. Dionne, Jr. has an interesting piece over at Commonweal regarding how the American Left and American Right tend to be selective in their nostalgic longing for the lost world of the 1950s. My only quibble with Mr. Dionne would be that he does not mention how the "Right" and "Left" in the U.S. are really defined by elites, not by the population as a whole. As Michael Lind notes:
"From 1932 to 1968, New Deal/vital center liberals like FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Humphrey spoke for the national liberal constituency in American politics. Since the downfall of the New Dealers, however, there has been no elite group that identifies with the millions of wage-earning Americans whose views clearly make them national liberals. The reason is that American politics is increasingly becoming a monopoly of a social elite―the American overclass. Left-liberalism, neoliberalism, and conservatism are all compatible, in one way or another, with either the social views or the economic interests of the overclass. But national liberalism, with its mixture of social conservatism and economic liberalism, represents a direct threat to overclass social views (which tend to be liberal) and overclass economic interests (which are promoted by neoliberal and conservative policies). Indeed, the one thing that left-liberals, neoliberals, and conservatives all fear more than each other is the reemergence of national liberalism as a political force, as in the era of FDR, Truman, and Johnson." (Lind 1996: 33).
Of course, I should point out that when Lind uses the term "liberal," as in "economic liberalism," he is not referring to classical liberalism, or libertarianism, but to the American version of social democracy, which, unfortunately, has usually paled in comparison to Western European social democracy and Christian democracy. However, Lind is correct to point out that huge numbers of Americans are indeed supporters of a mixture of social conservatism and economic populism and that it is largely the money-power of the American overclass that keeps genuine populists out of major office.

WORKS CITED

Lind, Michael. Up from Conservatism: Why the Right is Wrong for America (New York, N.Y.:  Free Press Paperbacks, 1996).
 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On The Chicago Teachers Union Strike

I was planning to write a post on the Chicago Teachers Union strike, but other bloggers have written on the subject with more intelligence than I could ever muster. Matthew Franklin Cooper has a great post with a number of very good links to other pieces on the strike. Additionally, Doug Henwood has several very interesting posts on the issue, with his latest piece serving as a good summary of his posts, with links to older posts included. A lot of reading, but certainly worth the time and effort.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Debunking Clintonomics

Dean Baker does all of us a great service by thoroughly debunking the myth of the "Clinton boom." The myth of the Clinton boom is a very pernicious myth because it prevents Democrats from recognizing that the modern Democratic Party has largely failed to further the interests of working Americans. I couldn't stand all of the yammering about Bill Clinton during the coverage of the Democratic National Convention. If I had to listen to "here comes the Big Dog!" one more time I was going to throw away my television.

In any event, please give Mr. Baker's piece a read.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nothing To Cheer About

Matt Stoller has a disturbing but probably accurate assessment of the Republican and Democratic conventions here, with additional commentary at the naked capitalism blog. I hope Mr. Stoller is wrong about the collapse of democracy in America, but I fear that he may be right.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Decline Of Labor Unions Is Not Inevitable

Dean Baker, in a piece for the Real-World Economics Review Blog, discusses why the decline of labor unions is not inevitable. Mr. Baker compares the U.S. to Canada in his article and reveals that much of the difference is institutional, which means that the decline of unions in the United States is not necessarily due to "natural" forces operating within the economy, but is instead the product of policies and laws that favor anti-union employers.

Mr. Baker's piece is important because it challenges the common wisdom in the United States, and not just among right-wingers. Even Michael Lind, who is perhaps as close to an old-style New Deal Democrat as you can find today, argued that the Left must think about a post-union future. Frankly, I am against the kind of detached, technocratic Left that is developing in the U.S. today. The mainstream American Left is the product of wealthy donors, just like the mainstream American Right, which explains why the national Democrats will fight hard for legal abortion and gay rights, but did little to help out in Wisconsin during the Walker recall. It is also why, as this informative post from the Economic Populist shows, the Democrats are only slightly better than the Republicans on economic issues.

What America really needs today is a full-blown workers' movement that seeps into the very sinews of life, complete with social clubs, picnics, parades, and mutual aid organizations. This will mean moving beyond the sporadic efforts of activists in movements like Occupy Wall Street. A revitalized labor movement will have to be based upon the very people who supposedly cling to their guns and Bibles because they are afraid of a bleak and unhappy future. In short, America needs a proper, independent labor movement detached from political partisanship, the dead end of identity politics, and the cultural insanity of the New Left.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Osbornes

Paul Krugman has a very interesting blog post about George Osborne, Great Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his disastrous fiscal austerity policies. Prof. Krugman also discusses the similarities between Mr. Osborne and the U.S. Republican Party's Paul Ryan. A good read.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Housecleaning

I apologize to my readers for failing to answer comments and post new updates to this blog in a timely manner. Personal matters and problems with my Internet connection have prevented me from tending to this blog in a while. I hope to get a more substantive post up soon.

In the meantime, please check out this piece by Angus Sibley in Commonweal about the Austrian School of Economics and Catholic Social Teaching. Very interesting stuff.