“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”.
The opinion by Kuttner is an absolute must read.
Robert Kuttner: Eric Schneiderman: Hero or Goat?
The activation of the administration’s long dormant task force on criminal misconduct in the financial collapse, with New York’s progressive attorney general Eric Schneiderman as co-chair, could be the most fateful political and economic development of the election year. There are still immense pitfalls ahead, as Wall Street allies inside the administration and on Wall Street itself try to reduce Schneiderman’s role to that of symbolic fig leaf.
But President Obama has done something potentially momentous for which he deserves our praise, even if he himself does not fully grasp the implications. The significance of the shift is still in play, of course, and will be made clearer as events unfold over the next several weeks.
Some skeptics in the progressive community have raised questions both about the upside for Schneiderman and his motives. Given the administration’s feeble record on prosecutions to date, the critics are right to flag the likelihood that people like Attorney General Eric Holder and SEC enforcement chief Robert Khazumi will try to sandbag Schneiderman. But my reporting suggests that they underestimate both the man and the dynamics that have been set loose.
Paul Krugman: The Austerity Debacle
Last week the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a British think tank, released a startling chart comparing the current slump with past recessions and recoveries. It turns out that by one important measure – changes in real G.D.P. since the recession began – Britain is doing worse this time than it did during the Great Depression. Four years into the Depression, British G.D.P. had regained its previous peak; four years after the Great Recession began, Britain is nowhere close to regaining its lost ground.
Nor is Britain unique. Italy is also doing worse than it did in the 1930s – and with Spain clearly headed for a double-dip recession, that makes three of Europe’s big five economies members of the worse-than club. Yes, there are some caveats and complications. But this nonetheless represents a stunning failure of policy.
And it’s a failure, in particular, of the austerity doctrine that has dominated elite policy discussion both in Europe and, to a large extent, in the United States for the past two years.
The World Economic Forum opened in Davos amid choruses of central bankers and economists calling for governments to cut spending.
This message of austerity is like the call of the ancient Sirens, whose music lured sailors to shipwreck.
We should take a lesson from Odysseus, who poured wax into the ears of his crew and had himself lashed to the mast of his ship to resist the Siren call.
Austerity supporters are selling the idea that governments, like families, must cut back when income shrinks. But economically, governments are not like families.
Firing teachers, cops and government clerks will, for sure, reduce public spending. But budgets, like the song of the Sirens, are only part of the story. Listen only to the alluring lyrics and, like the many voyagers before Odysseus, we will suffer disastrous consequences – in our case falling incomes and worsening economies.
Danny Schechter: Remember Rousseau: Property Rights and Human Rights Are Still At War
The conflict between property rights and human rights has entered a new chapter. It is a debate that goes back to the challenge by landowners and merchants behind the American Revolution’s war on British control over the colonial economy.
Only today, as those speaking in the name of the 99% challenge the super wealthy of the 1% (actually the .001 %) there is a new battleground in what’s known as the housing market with as many as 14 million Americans in or facing foreclosure. [..]
Jean-Jacques Rousseau who postulated the “social contract” that gives property rights a moral claim would be turning in his grave if he knew of the many abuses that homeowners in the US face daily.
Chris Hedges: Corporations Have No Use for Borders
What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.
But that was the old Canada. I was in Montreal on Friday and Saturday and saw the familiar and disturbing tentacles of the security and surveillance state. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accords so it can dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation. It carried out the largest mass arrests of demonstrators in Canadian history at 2010’s G-8 and G-20 meetings, rounding up more than 1,000 people. It sends undercover police into indigenous communities and activist groups and is handing out stiff prison terms to dissenters. And Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush. He champions the rabid right wing in Israel, bows to the whims of global financiers and is a Christian fundamentalist.
The voices of dissent sound like our own. And the forms of persecution are familiar. This is not an accident. We are fighting the same corporate leviathan.
L. Alan Sroufe: Ritalin Gone Wrong
Three million children in this country take drugs for problems in focusing. Toward the end of last year, many of their parents were deeply alarmed because there was a shortage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall that they considered absolutely essential to their children’s functioning.
But are these drugs really helping children? Should we really keep expanding the number of prescriptions filled?
In 30 years there has been a twentyfold increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder.
As a psychologist who has been studying the development of troubled children for more than 40 years, I believe we should be asking why we rely so heavily on these drugs.
Bill Boyarsky: Winning Our Future, Gambling With Democracy
With financial and political interests ranging from Las Vegas to Israel to China, Sheldon Adelson, who is bankrolling the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, is a powerful illustration of the dangers of unlimited campaign contributions.
Casino magnate Adelson donated $5 million to the super PAC Winning Our Future, which helped Gingrich defeat Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. Then Adelson’s wife, Miriam, gave the pro-Gingrich PAC $5 million more for the Florida primary. These gifts provide sweet revenge for Gingrich, beaten in Iowa and New Hampshire with the help of ad campaigns funded by the pro-Romney super PAC, which is now operating in Florida.