“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.
Robert Reich: Restore the Basic Bargain
For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.
That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.
Back in 1914, Henry Ford announced he was paying workers on his Model T assembly line $5 a day — three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal termed his action “an economic crime.”
But Ford knew it was a cunning business move. The higher wage turned Ford’s auto workers into customers who could afford to buy Model T’s. In two years Ford’s profits more than doubled.
That was then. Now, Ford Motor Company is paying its new hires half what it paid new employees a few years ago.
The basic bargain is over — not only at Ford but all over the American economy.
The country is still celebrating the inability of the supercommittee to cut Social Security and Medicare, but it is important to move on from this victory to retake control of the political debate from the One Percent. As it stands, the One Percent are insisting that the country genuflect over the non-problem of the budget deficit, at a time when tens of millions of workers are unemployed or underemployed, millions of people are facing the loss of their homes and tens of millions of baby boomers are approaching retirement with little other than their Social Security to support them.
The deficit is the agenda of the One Percent. There is no reason that the rest of us should be concerned about budget deficits when the rest of the country is struggling with the economic disaster created by the greed and incompetence of the One Percent.
This is not a statement of morality; it is a statement based on economic reality. Budget deficits can be a problem when an economy is near full employment and the deficit can be pulling resources away from private investment, thereby slowing growth. However, it is not a problem with large numbers of unemployed workers and vast amounts of excess capacity.
Europe is now on the very edge of an economic abyss. And Germany is finding that it cannot survive as a smug island of fiscally conservative prosperity while the rest of Europe goes down the tubes. It is anybody’s guess whether Europe’s leaders will shift course in time. If they fail, it won’t be pretty. The fact that Germany’s fate is now more closely linked to that of its neighbors actually offers a ray of hope.
Until last week, Germany had been the safe haven. As speculators pulled money out of other countries, in a bondholders’ equivalent of a run on the bank, German government debt was oversubscribed, causing interest rates on German bunds (government bonds) to fall below 2 percent. The spread between German rates and the rates that “weaker” countries had to pay to sell their bonds was treated as a precise barometer of market confidence in a given nation’s debt.
Peter Van Buren: Thought Crime in Washington
Here’s the First Amendment, in full: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Those beautiful words, almost haiku-like, are the sparse poetry of the American democratic experiment. The Founders purposely wrote the First Amendment to read broadly, and not like a snippet of tax code, in order to emphasize that it should encompass everything from shouted religious rantings to eloquent political criticism. Go ahead, reread it aloud at this moment when the government seems to be carving out an exception to it large enough to drive a tank through.
Michelle Chen: Health Workers Deliver First Aid to Protest Movements
Warning: Defending your rights may be hazardous to your health. Potential side effects can include rubber bullets, tear gas, and batons wielded with impunity.
The recent uprisings around the world illustrate the physical risks involved in intense street protests. At the same time, movements are also discovering the connection between health and activism in another way, through medical workers joining the front lines to deploy their skills and their conviction.
Amid the brutal clashes with security forces at Tahrir Square, barebones field hospitals have held the line, thanks to a grassroots network of Tahrir doctors. One volunteer, Ahmed Adel, who has been aiding wounded protesters since January, told Ahram Online, “Treating the injured protesters here again makes me feel the revolution is about to be completed.”
Barney Frank came to Congress as a liberal and will leave as such-not a perfect progressive on every issue but a steady liberal who served a term as president of the Americans for Democratic Action and whose latest rating from the defenders of New Deal/Fair Deal/Great Society programs was a pure 100 percent.
That does not mean that there were not instances where Frank, a former Massachusetts legislator who arrived (to fill former the Rev. Robert Drinan’s seat) in 1980 and who will leave the House at the close of his current term, was always on the right (make that the left) side of the fight. But even where he was forced to accept compromises, he did so as a man of government who argued with passion and certainty that legislators should stand up to bankers, bigots and bloated Pentagon budgets.
Danny Schechter: Occupy Wall Street is All Over The Media: But for How Long?
First, they ignore you. Then, they ridicule you. Then, they realize you are a story and fall in love. So they build you up at first but then, all at once, tear you down
You may not have changed, but they have, addicted as they are to keep coming up with shifting story lines, more to fight their own boredom and fear of tune out, than the validity or importance of the topic.
In the same way, that political sound bites went from nearly thirty seconds to five, or that MTV style editing soon invaded the newsrooms with quick cutting and razzle-dazzle effects, to “cover news” while making it difficult to concentrate on, much less comprehend the fast paced presentation techniques.
When asked by researchers, audiences could barely tell you what they had just seen, much less what it means.