Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Plutocratic Protectionism


Prof. Ha-Joon Chang discusses the many government protections and benefits enjoyed by the wealthy while governments preach austerity for the rest of us. A must read.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Men Overboard

David Ruccio has posted a very interesting piece referring to the findings of Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney with regard to working-age American men. The results are catastrophically bad. According to Greenstone and Looney:
"When we consider all working-age men, including those who are not working, the real earnings of the median male have actually declined by 19 percent since 1970. This means that the median man in 2010 earned as much as the median man did in 1964 — nearly a half century ago. Men with less education face an even bleaker picture; earnings for the median man with a high school diploma and no further schooling fell by 41 percent from 1970 to 2010.  

Women have fared much better over these 40 years, but they started from a lower level, and the same problems faced by their male counterparts are beginning to have an effect. Since 1970, the earnings of the median female worker have increased by 71 percent, and the share of women 25 to 64 who are employed has risen to 71 percent, from 54 percent. But after making significant wage gains over several decades, that progress has slowed and even reversed recently. Since 2000, the earnings of the median woman have fallen by 6 percent." [Emphasis added].
When people like William Bennett complain about men being in trouble and the lack of proper fathers in today's society, it is important to remember that it is precisely those neoliberal economic policies favored by "conservatives" such as Bennett that have destroyed the material basis for strong families headed by male breadwinners. To make things clearer, I give you an excellent quote by David Lindsay which can be applied to the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere:
"Far from our having grown richer since 1979, we have in fact grown vastly poorer: only a generation ago, a single manual wage provided the wage-earner, his wife and their several children with a quality of life unimaginable even on two professional salaries today.

This impoverishment has been so rapid and so extreme that most people, including almost all politicians and commentators, simply refuse to acknowledge that it has happened. But it has indeed happened.

And it is still going on."
There is an urgent need to return to a political order that places strong families at the center of economic policy. Only a system of full employment at family wages can achieve this goal. Giorgio La Pira, the former mayor of Florence, Italy, once said that:
"If I am a man of the State, my rejection of unemployment and of neediness must imply   this: my economic policies must strive towards blue-collar employment and the eradication of poverty: this is clear! No specious objection emerging from any so-called 'laws of economics' can detract me from striving towards this objective."
La Pira was a consistent fighter for both social justice and family values. La Pira campaigned for the inclusion of a line in the Italian Constitution of 1947 making fathers "first among equals" in relation to the upbringing of children and opposing the introduction of divorce into Italian law. La Pira's position was a consistent one that took into account the material, legal, and spiritual aspects of family life. This is the approach needed today, not the half-hearted and incomplete proposals of the Republicans and Democrats and similar neoliberal parties across the globe.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sex And Secularism


Matthew Franklin Cooper has an excellent post on the frequency of sex among pious and secular peoples. It turns out that the pious folk actually have sex more often than their secular counterparts. This might be surprising to some people, but it is not very strange once you get past the stereotype of Christianity as an oppressive, anti-sex religion. Quite frankly, I don't know how sex can be very sexy under secularism. If sex is just a biological imperative, then human sexuality is essentially animalistic and we are no different than cats and dogs when it comes to our sex lives.

The Sexual Revolution has led to an extreme biologization of human sexual activity. Romantic poetry has been replaced by how-to guides in Cosmopolitan that read like technical manuals for your privates. Liberal divorce laws have placed a sword of Damocles over every marital threshold. Pornography and prostitution have reduced human sexuality to the status of a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace, just like any other product.

When sex is no longer sacred, it holds no mystery. Claudia Cardinale (pictured above) managed to be very sexy without ever appearing fully nude on film or in print. Today, there is no mystery to sex. Sex has been reduced to yet another health issue, devoid of any mystical aspect that would place it beyond simple biology. The final outcome of the Sexual Revolution and secularism is a culture that is awash is sexual images and advertisements, but with less people actually engaged in the healthy and enjoyable aspects of sex that stem from the Christian tradition of love and marriage.

Death By A Thousand Cuts

Charles Michael Andres Clark has another great article at Commonweal, this time discussing the economic insanity of the Romney/Ryan campaign and the Ryan budget, with their calls for permanent fiscal austerity in the public sector. A must read.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Southern Strategy

 
Michael Lind has written a very interesting and informative article on the oligarchy of the American South and how this oligarchy impacts American politics and economics generally. A very important article for anyone trying to understand American history and contemporary American politics.

Rebuilding British Socialism


The excellent Neil Clark has a very good article on rebuilding the British Left, here. A very interesting read.

Pick Your Poison

 
The magnificent David Lindsay has an excellent blog post on the biochemical war being waged against humanity by the heirs of Marie Stopes and Margaret Sanger, here.  A must read.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Miscalculation

Lord Keynes of Social Democracy for the 21st Century has a very interesting post on the famous socialist calculation debate, pointing out that the Soviet system actually "worked" to the extent that it produced real output growth for several decades. Prof. Robert C. Allen made a similar argument in his excellent book Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution, a summary of which can be found here.

Please note that none of these arguments amount to an endorsement of Stalinism, but the historical record clearly reveals that the Soviet Union did experience real growth and that central planning succeeded in industrializing a country that was previously economically underdeveloped. The main point to take away is that the usual Austrian School arguments against the feasibility of economic planning are likely overstated, especially as there are historical examples of non-communist planning systems that were perhaps even more successful than the Soviet model, for example, French and Japanese indicative planning.

We Are All Patients

Gavin Rae has an interesting post on the creeping commercialization of the Polish health system and the opposition to that commercialization from nurses and other health workers. A very interesting and important read.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Aftermath

Matt Stoller has some very good post-debate analysis here and here, following last night's presidential debate. Good reads.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Europe's Lost Generation

Bill Mitchell has an excellent blog post on the development of a lost generation of young people in Europe due to the brutal austerity policies being forced upon the people by the Eurozone elites who, its must be said, are wicked people given the fact that they must know what kind of damage their policies are doing.

Also, it must be said that this is just additional evidence that capitalism is essentially anti-family in its orientation. The lost generation of young people being sacrificed on the Altar of Mammon will likely have trouble forming or maintaining stable families under a system of mass unemployment or unstable, sporadic underemployment. The moralistic platitudes of neoliberal conservatives cannot change this fact.