Monday, January 26, 2015

Greek victory - Democracy vs. the Bankers

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) National Political Committee celebrates SYRIZA's victory in the Greek parliamentary elections of January 25, 2015. 

The Greek People Reject Austerity: Now the Rest of the World Must Join Them

SYRIZA’s coming to power represents not just a rejection of the socially destructive austerity measures European elites imposed on the Greek people against their will.  It also represents a new hope for democratic and socialist electoral alternatives across Europe and the rest of the world.

Democratic socialists understand that winning an election does not mark the end of a process of social transformation. It is only the beginning, and a difficult road lies ahead for SYRIZA and its supporters. After years of deep depression, Greek society is in shambles. One quarter of the population is out of work; youth unemployment is over 50%; hundreds of thousands of households are without basic necessities like electricity; untold numbers have been forced to scavenge for their daily bread. Even after its clear victory at the polls, SYRIZA continues to face not just domestic political opposition but international isolation as well. It will quickly find out whether the so-called “troika” (i.e., the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) will give the Greek people room to breathe or try to punish them for their democratic audacity.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Syriza wins- Democracy established

European politics has been plunged into a volatile new era following a historic victory in Greece’s general election by far-left radicals committed to ending years of austerity.
More than five years into the euro crisis that started in Greece in October 2009 and raised questions about the single currency’s survival, Greek voters roundly rejected the savage spending cuts and tax rises imposed by Europe which reduced the country to penury.
Voters handed power to Alexis Tsipras, the charismatic 40-year-old former communist who leads the umbrella coalition of assorted leftists known as Syriza. He cruised to an eight-point victory over the incumbent centre-right New Democracy party, according to exit polls and projections after 93% of votes had been counted.
The Guardian view on the Greek election: a new deal

The result surpassed pollster predictions and marginalised the two mainstream parties that have run the country since the military junta’s fall in 1974. It appeared last night, however, that Syriza would win 149 seats – just short of securing the 151 of 300 seats that would enable Tsipras to govern without coalition partners.
Source: The Guardian. 

SYRIZA Heads Towards a Majority in Greece as Elections Approach

Victory for Democracy in Greece

Leo Panitch

As we enter the eighth year of the long-lingering global economic crisis, it is sobering indeed that it is only in Greece that a political party putting forward a clear, radical democratic alternative to the perverse policies of neoliberal austerity stands on the doorstep of entering the state.

Emerging out of a coalescence of people from the 1980s Eurocommunist left and alter-globalization social movements at the beginning of the millennium, Syriza had at one point reached as much as 15 per cent support in opinion polls before 2010. But it came to the brink of power only when its new leader, Alexis Tsipras, in the run-up to the spring 2012 election proclaimed that it was Syriza's immediate goal and duty to enter government in coalition with anybody who would join with them to stop the economic torture of the Greek people.

The policies imposed by the European Central Bank (ECB), and above all by the German central bank acting behind it, made the term Great Depression rather than Great Recession especially apt for Greece in this crisis. Unemployment was pushed beyond 25 per cent, minimum wages were cut by a third, people were cut off the electricity grid and denied basic pharmaceuticals. The rule of law was simply thrown out in terms of labour relations.
Immediate Steps Post Election

Change is in the Air Across Southern Europe » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Change is in the Air Across Southern Europe » CounterPunch:

Democracy has won in Greece, it is growing in Spain, it has won in Bolivia, Brazil, and more.

Si Grecia venció; España vencerá !

Thursday, January 22, 2015

TPP: The Dirtiest Trade Deal You've Never Heard Of

Californians have paid sick days and family leave

Barack Obama argued for these in the State of the Union.  California has these- thanks to legislative efforts by unions. What we have is limited, but important.
From the Sacramento Bee.
Obama said that since paid sick leave proposals won where they were on the ballot in November, he wants a vote in Washington.
“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
California became only the second state in the nation to require paid sick days when Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed what he described as “modest” legislation. It gave workers three paid sick days a year and will apply to 6.5 million people who are not compensated when they stay home.
The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, tweeted her excitement about the subject going national ahead of Obama’s speech. Gonzalez described paid sick leave as a “commonsense, pro-family policy whose time should’ve come long ago.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Elizabeth Warren- We built this nation together

Sure, people who built great businesses worked hard. Most successful entrepreneurs worked their tails off. But those businesses need good soil to grow – and that meant they need roads and bridges to get their goods to market, dependable and affordable power grids, access to clean water and safe sewers, up-to-date communications – the kind of basic infrastructure that we build together.

Coming out of the Great Depression, we built those roads and bridges and power grids that helped businesses grow right here in America. We plowed money into our future, and as those businesses grew, they created great jobs here at home.

But by the 1980s, our country sharply cut back on making those investments in our future, and now we’re getting left behind. Today China spends 9% of its GDP on infrastructure. Europe spends about 5% of its GDP on infrastructure. They are building a future for their businesses – and better jobs for their people. But the United States is investing only 2.4% and looking for more ways to make cuts. Today, the American Society of Civil Engineers says we have about $3.6 trillion worth of deferred maintenance, repairs and upgrading – and every day we’re falling behind.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Republicans slash programs, safety protections.

Republicans prepare major assault on Dodd-Frank.  Give billions to Wall Street.

Republicans vote to stop the Obama Immigration change of status.
Republicans vote to deport Dreamers
House Republicans voted Wednesday to fund the Department of Homeland Security, but with the requirement that millions of undocumented young people, parents and others be put back at risk of deportation.
The DHS funding bill was the opening shot in what is likely to be a contentious weeks long fight over how to deal with appropriations for the agency before its funding runs out at the end of February. For now, Republicans and Democrats have drawn lines in the sand: Most GOP House members said they would not vote to fund DHS without measures to end many of President Barack Obama's immigration policies, while Democrats and the president have vowed to oppose anything that includes those amendments.

Republican budget  cut $300 M. from Pell Grants to college students.

The  Republican House has approved the Keystone pipeline. The Republicans, who just took control of the Senate, have made clear that this is a top priority—and they have the votes to send the bill to President Obama's desk.1
The president has vowed to veto this bill.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Greece's Syriza Party Confronts Austerity.

Paul Mason
January 7, 2015
Channel 4, UK
Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's Syriza Party (Greek Coalition of the Radical Left) and the Parliamentary Opposition is interviewed by British reporter Paul Mason. Tsipras and his anti-austerity Syriza Party are favored to win the January 25 parliamentary elections, which would send shock waves throughout the European Union. “We want a state that stands by its citizens,” Tsipras says.

“Syriza is the alarm clock that will wake the EU leaders out of their slumber,” says Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza Party and Greece's Parliamentary Opposition., Lorenzo Gaudenzi
Alexis Tsipras arrives late: he’s spent the morning sorting out wrangles over Syriza’s candidate list for this month’s election. As the polls currently predict he’s likely to win, this is no longer a side issue. If Syriza becomes the first far left government in modern Europe, those MPs will be asked to pull the trigger on a showdown with Europe that could change the economics of the whole eurozone.
Tsipras has pledged to end the austerity programme imposed by the troika – and at the same time negotiate the write-off of 50 per cent of Greek debt. So the obvious question is: what does he do if they say no?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sanders to Senators: Think of Your Grandchildren

Kaiser Mental Health Care Workers on Strike

Why 2,600 Kaiser Mental Health Workers Are On Strike

Clement Papazian   January 12, 2015   Labor Notes

Kaiser Permanentes 2,600 California mental health clinicians are on strike today, and we're staying out all week.

Kaiser workers have already held several short strikes over unsafe staffing, most recently this April 23, 2014, one-day strike by mental health clinicians. But since then the problems have only gotten worse., NUHW,

Mental health clinicians hate to strike. We got into this profession to help people. But every day we are forced to apologetically explain to Kaiser members why they cannot get the timely, appropriate care they pay for with their monthly premiumscare that Kaiser is required by law to provide.

Thats because, despite its huge profits, Kaiser does not staff its psychiatry departments with enough psychologists, therapists, social workers, and psychiatric nurses to treat the ever-growing number of patients seeking mental health care.

Our schedules are booked solid, forcing patients in dire need to endure lengthy and illegal waits for treatment. The California Department of Managed Health Care cited and fined Kaiser $4 million in 2013 for these serious and systemic violations of state law, including falsifying patient records to conceal wait times.
Kaiser claims to have fixed the problems since then, but we who work on the front lines in psychiatry departments know that it has merely rearranged the deck chairs on a sinking ship. Instead of hiring more staff, Kaiser directed staff to see more first-time patients at the expense of returning patients.

Read the California Budget Project analysis of the Governor's budget proposals

Read the CBP's Analysis of Governor Brown's 2015-16 Budget Proposal 

A new report from the California Budget Project (CBP) examines the 2015-16 budget proposal released by Governor Jerry Brown this past Friday.

The CBP's report shows that even with increased state revenues and a continuing economic recovery that has yet to reach many Californians, the Governor's proposed budget prioritizes fiscal austerity over investing in broadly shared prosperity. The Governor's proposal does reflect a focus on policy changes enacted in prior years -- such as California's new K-12 funding formula and the state's implementation of federal health care reform -- that move the state forward in important ways. Yet, while the Governor's proposal includes long-term plans for paying down budgetary debt and saving for a rainy day, it does not present a similar vision for tackling California's biggest challenges: still-high levels of unemployment and poverty, widening income inequality, and a safety net severely weakened by years of funding cuts.

The CBP's report summarizes many of the key provisions of the Governor's proposed budget and highlights their implications.

Read the analysis.

The Erosion of Collective Bargaining Has Widened the Gap Between Productivity and Pay | Economic Policy Institute

The Erosion of Collective Bargaining Has Widened the Gap Between Productivity and Pay | Economic Policy Institute

Governor Brown Proposes Austerity

Chris Hoene on the Governor's Proposed 2015-16 Budget:
Prioritizes Austerity at the Expense of Helping Ensure All Californians Share in State's Recovery
Earlier today, the California Budget Project (CBP) released the following statement from Executive Director Chris Hoene in response to Governor Brown's proposed 2015-16 budget:

"The Governor's budget proposal prioritizes austerity at the expense of helping ensure that all Californians can share in the state's economic recovery.

"The Governor in recent years has shown an ability to take a long-term approach when it comes to paying off state debts, building infrastructure, and addressing climate change. But with poverty and unemployment still high in many parts of California, it's critical that he and the Legislature bring this same sense of vision to reinvesting in people and communities. This means placing a greater focus on helping struggling families to advance economically, ensuring that students and their families can afford a college education, and strengthening the state's social safety net.