Friday, January 21, 2022

Choosing Democracy: Which Schools Should be Closed ?

Choosing Democracy: Which Schools Should be Closed ?:     Statement on the Impact  of COVID-19 on SCUSD Students  January 20, 2022   The Sacramento City Community Priorities Coalition (CPC) is v...

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Choosing Democracy: What It takes to be back in school

Choosing Democracy: What It takes to be back in school: What it takes to be back in school—and stay back by Randi Weingarten  President, American Federation of Teachers  Small things sometimes hav...

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Folly of School Openings as a Zero-Sum Game

The Folly of School Openings as a Zero-Sum Game: We need to address the needs of students—and parents, and teachers. One size does not fit all, and race complicates the challenge.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Where Do We Go From Here?

Choosing Democracy: Where Do We Go From Here?:   WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?  DSA, North Star, and the Crisis https://www.dsanorthstar.org/blog/where-do-we-go-from-here-dsa-north-star-and-t...

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A Response to Neo Fascism

RS Seminar- Economic Crisis: A Response to Neo Fascism: The true meaning of 6 January: we must answer Trump’s neofascism with hope Robert Reich As the first anniversary of the Capitol attack nears...

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Build Back Better at Stake

 The Republican Party and Two Democrats put our economy at risk, including progress toward ending poverty for children. 


The President of the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives and 49 members of the U.S. Senate are prepared to pass enormously consequential legislation which stands up to powerful special interests and finally deliver for the working families of our country. With almost every Democrat in the House and Senate on board, there is one member of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate who stands in the way. 

Senator Joe Manchin.

In America today the very rich are becoming richer while millions of working families are struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills. We now have the absurd situation in which two multi-billionaires own more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans, the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 92% and the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time in the last 100 years.

The Build Back Better bill, supported by President Biden, the vast majority of Americans and almost every Democrat in Congress is an unprecedented effort to finally address the long-neglected crises facing working families and demand that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in the country start paying their fair share of taxes.

Here are just a few of the things we are trying to do:

We are going to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower the cost of prescription drugs in America. Last year, while nearly one out of four Americans could not afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors wrote, six of the largest drug companies made tens of billions in profits.

We are going to expand Medicare to cover hearing aids, dental care and eyeglasses. Today, in the wealthiest nation on earth, millions of seniors cannot chew their food or see and hear their loved ones.

We are going to help seniors and people with disabilities get the home health care they need. Across the United States, and in places like West Virginia and Vermont in particular, seniors should be able to be around their loved ones as they age as opposed to being forced into expensive nursing homes.

We are going to expand the Child Tax Credit that has reduced childhood poverty by 50 percent in the United States.

We are going to end the dysfunction of a childcare system that forces working families to spend up to 1/3 of their limited income on childcare and keeps millions of women out of the workforce.

We are going to make sure pre-K for 3 and 4 year olds is universal and free, giving our young children the best chance at success regardless of where they are from or how much money their parents make.

And oh yes, there is the not-so-small matter of the existential threat of climate change. With the planet getting warmer and warmer, unprecedented drought, fires, flood, and extreme weather, we are going to finally begin the process of cutting carbon emissions and transforming our energy systems to save this planet for future generations.

This morning, Senator Manchin announced he would not support the Build Back Better Act.

And if that is the case, he should be prepared to vote NO before the working families of West Virginia and America and explain why.

We should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain to West Virginia and American people why he opposes taking on the greed of the drug companies and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

We should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain to West Virginia seniors why he opposes helping them secure hearing aids, dental care and the eyeglasses they need.

We should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain to families why their loved ones should age in expensive nursing homes instead of around those who care about them most.

We should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain why only the children of the wealthy from certain zip codes should have the opportunity to attend pre-K.

And we should give Joe Manchin the opportunity to explain why he sides with those who profit from climate change and the destruction of the planet for future generations.

Now I know Joe Manchin continues to talk about his concerns over the national debt, but I find it amusing I didn’t hear his concerns after voting, just this week, for a military budget of $778 billion, four times greater than the Build Back Better Act over ten years and $25 billion more than the president suggested.

Forgive me thinking that maybe, just maybe, something else is at play here.

Joe Manchin should have the chance to explain what it is.

Let’s vote:

Please sign my petition calling on the Senate to vote on the Build Back Better Act as soon as we return from recess. If Joe Manchin wants to vote NO, then let him explain to the working families of West Virginia and America why.

ADD YOUR NAME

Thank you for making your voice heard.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders


Friday, December 17, 2021

Rev. Barber Condemns Manchin''s Immoral, Economically Insane Obstruction,

  

Rev. William Barber Condemns Manchin's 'Immoral, Unmerciful, Economically Insane' Obstruction

Manchin is "a plutocrat who only cares about what his corporate backers and profit-driven masters want," said the co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign.

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https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/12/16/rev-william-barber-condemns-manchins-immoral-unmerciful-economically-insane

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Moral Monday - PPC

 

Our program will include powerful testimonies from state leaders all across the country, songs of unity and social transformation from our theomusicologists, and live coverage of a mass nonviolent moral direct action to remind Congress that people and our democracy are dying and the stakes are high.

 

The Build Back Better plan is an important first step towards implementing the moral social policy we need in this country, and this is our last chance to make a push to Get it Done in 2021. Whether you take action online or in person, we need all hands on deck. See you there.

 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Corporate Inflation Scare- and news coverage- is dumb.

The New Inflation Scare Is the Dumbest Thing Since Voodoo Economics

Elites are sounding the alarm over threats of inflation in order to block Biden’s social spending plan. We shouldn’t fall for it.

MAX B. SAWICKY NOVEMBER 16, 2021

 

After years of hypocrisy and bungled forecasts of doom, the budget deficit no longer provokes panic. The elites need a new bogeyman, otherwise Congress might actually spend us into happiness. Now, the new monster in the closet is Inflation. The great prognosticators Sen. Joe Manchin (D‑W.V.) and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer have weighed in, and we are officially advised to be afwaid, vewy afwaid.

Since 2010, median housing rents have gone up by 36 percent. The cost of family health insurance has risen 47 percent. From the academic year 2009 – 2010 to 2018 – 2019, average costs of college went up 39 percent. And the median hourly wage rose by just 11 percent, so rent, healthcare and college — among other things — are all less affordable now than they were ten years ago. 

To varying degrees, each of these problems is addressed in the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill, dubbed the Build Back Better (BBB) plan. That legislation includes added support for housing, increased premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, and expanded Pell Grants for college students. There is compensation for the inadequate growth of wages, including tax credits for families with children, subsidized childcare, pre‑K for three- and four-year olds, and an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children. Of course, each of these items is scaled down from what was originally proposed by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. More should be done.

Now comes Manchin, leading the charge by calling the budget bill ​inflationary.” It’s like criticizing a fire company for using water instead of gasoline. The bad faith here is stunning. There wasn’t a peep about inflation in the case of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, supported by Manchin and signed by Biden on Monday, much less about former President Trump’s tax cuts or defense spending increases.

The spur for this new campaign is a handful of cherry-picked, transitory changes in particular prices. On the most basic level, there is a widespread misunderstanding of what ​inflation” really is. Inflation is a continuous increase in prices, more or less across the board. As my reactionary graduate macro economics professor taught me, a spike in the price of, say, oil is not ​inflation” unless it ends up feeding into a sustained increase in other prices. 

As Ryan Grim notes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s what we are looking at right now. The change in prices is overwhelmingly due to energy. Now, if that spike persisted, it would not be surprising to see it propagate through the wider economy. But there is no reason to expect that. As Dean Baker points out, an isolated bottleneck in the supply of anything is likely to clear in short order, one of the limited blessings of on-demand capitalism. For example, just this year, television prices rose in the summer and subsequently fell by almost three percent.

There has been reporting that oil prices are being propped up by Saudi leader and part-time butcher Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in concert with the Russians. There are two reasons to doubt this. One is that there are other countries not beholden to Saudi Arabia who can offset any manufactured shortfall by ramping up their own production. Members of the OPEC cartel have been known to cheat on mutual agreements to limit supply. Two is that price spikes encourage the adoption of alternative energy sources. It is true that this adoption takes time, but once it is established, it is non-reversible. A temporary price increase can generate a permanent loss of customers.

This narrowness of the price increases is well illustrated in the latest figures for the Consumer Price Index. Including the latest, allegedly alarming, one-month change of 0.9 percent in the total CPI yields a year-over-year (‘YOY’) change (from October of 2020 to last month) of 6.2 percent. It should be noted that this 6.2 figure does not itself provide support to any claim that the increase is either spreading through the economy or is being sustained. On the first count, what is called the ​core” CPI, excluding the volatile numbers for food and energy, shows a YOY increase of a more modest 4.6. And the 0.9 percent jump in October constitutes just one month of data, so it is too soon to say it is sustained.

The politics of all this, meanwhile, is a different matter. We are being driven deep into the silly season. The up-to-date price of gasoline, which people buy on a regular basis, is displayed on huge signs all over the country (and on Twitter by pundits like Blitzer). The price of milk is listed in the advertisements we get with the local newspaper. As Kevin Drum demonstrates, the news media thrives on publicizing outliers in prices, not boring averages.

On the other hand, the prices of healthcare or college don’t receive so much public attention. We could be forgiven for suspecting that underlying this disparity is the presumption that the working class doesn’t need healthcare or higher education. Moreover, anyone who follows the news knows that no Republican ever gives a Democrat credit if the price of gas goes down, which it often does. The GOP only cares when prices go up during Democratic presidencies. 

Purely for the sake of argument, let’s concede that the recent increase in energy prices is a problem. Even so, contracting or eliminating the BBB bill to reduce the price level, as some ​centrists” have advocated, is as absurd as invading Iraq to avenge 9/11. (Do you see a pattern here?) A serious response to an undesirable increase in energy prices would do something about…energy. A broad-brush response, such as a move by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, would contract a much wider swath of the economy than the energy sector. And, under that scenario, we might not even see a pale imitation of Biden’s agenda come to fruition.

In the latter regard, inferring an inflation risk from BBB fails the most elementary economics, since, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the current version of BBB is mostly offset with tax increases. It would only be the net of spending over revenues that would potentially be inflationary, if and only if the economy did not still have a shortfall of five million jobs. In reality, the BBB legislation is likely to lessen the inflation risk, not increase it. 

You don’t have to be a socialist to discount the inflation danger. In late September, a group of eminent, Nobel Laureate economists announced support for BBB, writing: ​Because this agenda invests in long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease longer-term inflationary pressures.”

The Federal Reserve itself is saying the recent increase is annoying but transitory, reducing the likelihood (thankfully) that it will take any action to choke off the current growth in employment. 

Another group that is paid — handsomely — to anticipate inflationary trends consists of those who trade in the bond market. Since most bonds’ returns are in nominal dollars, a change in the price level changes the value of any such bond. The ​coupon’ of a bond is a fixed dollar amount. The market will reprice bonds so that they hit the market interest rate. It’s amusing to note that, before and after the latest panic about the October price change, the interest rates on Treasury bonds with durations of seven years or longer all went down, not up.

All things considered, this new inflation scare is one of dumbest turns in what passes for economic thinking since voodoo economics.

 

MAX B. SAWICKY is a senior research fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He has worked at the Economic Policy Institute and the Government Accountability Office, and has written for numerous progressive outlets.