“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.
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Kristina vanden Heuvel: The Robin Hood Tax: A Powerful Antidote to Austerity
Last week, nurses rallied, bank staff marched, conservatives coalesced and finance professionals petitioned-all in support of a global tax on Wall Street speculation. You wouldn’t know it from the headlines (Financial Times: “Push for EU-wide ‘Robin Hood Tax’ ends”), but by week’s end, that elusive goal was closer than ever.
“We don’t just advocate for people when they’re ill, and we don’t just advocate for them when they’re in the hospital,” says Jean Ross, a registered nurse and co-president of National Nurses United, the country’s largest nursing union. “We have to have a society where they can get well and stay well.”
As I’ve written before, the financial transaction tax (FTT) is a good idea whose time has come. By assessing a modest fee on transactions, we can raise revenue from those who can afford it while discouraging the unproductive speculation that puts our economy at risk. And frankly, Wall Street owes us. The tax offers an antidote to austerity and a rallying cry that hard-core occupiers, Democratic senators, and reality-based conservatives can all get behind.
Wenonah Hauter: Secrecy + Haste = Farm Bill Status Quo
Late last week, the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill – the sprawling legislation that dictates what and how we eat. From the perspective of consumer protection and leveling the playing field for small and midsized family farmers, the Senate bill does little to address the problems of consolidation and anti-competitive business practices that plague our food system.
Although the Senate bill made changes to commodity policy that will be touted as reform, the bill reinforced prior farm policies that favor large industrial-scale agriculture and overproduction of commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Only a few companies sell what farmers need (like seeds, fertilizer and tractors) and only a few firms buy what farmers raise, which means they pay more for supplies and get less for their crops and livestock. The four largest companies in each industry slaughter nearly all the beef, process two-thirds of the pork, sell half the groceries and process about half the milk in the United States.
The immigration debate in the United States often centers narrowly around people who cross a border, and their social impacts on the “destination” country. But what if we viewed migration as a social phenomenon, or as a natural process? An ecological viewpoint can open a new frame for exploring the immigrant experience as a continual cultural and demographic transformation. This month, advocates at the Rio +20 earth summit took up the issue of migration as a form of ecology.
The environmental lens moves the immigration debate beyond the concept of rich countries “receiving” outsiders, or poor countries “sending” workers across borders. Seeing immigration as a zero-sum game ignores the humanity of the people who are driving, and are driven by, constant movement and resettlement. For the U.S. in particular, the focus on border enforcement-sanctifying artificial boundaries as a delimiter of citizenship-ignores the idea that migration is both an inevitable social process, and intimately connected with all other forms of social change, be they political movements, poverty, war, or, perhaps more acutely, environmental disaster.
Caroline Arnold: Who Will Write the Scripts for Our Future?
A few weeks before the U.S. invaded Iraq, the late Edward Said wrote:
Millions of people will be affected, [by a war with Iraq] yet America contemptuously plans for their future without consulting them. … Will no one come out into the light of day to express a vision for our future that isn’t based on a script written by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz?
-Guardian/UK, January 25, 2003
Nine years later – with President Obama collaborating with Israel on cyberwarfare against Iran, and protecting his Presidential “kill list” from public scrutiny while asserting that anyone who gets in the way of our drones must deserve to die – we should be asking a similar question: Will no one come into the light of public politics with a vision for our future not based on scripts written for political or economic power?
Or, to put it another way: Is there any way for “We-the-People” to free ourselves from these scripts and take control of our own government?
Allison Kilkenny: The Resistance Continues as Citizens Fight Budget Cuts
Much has been written about the future of Occupy: the movement is dead, it is not dead, it evolved into something else, it will experience a resurgence in the fall, etc. But what has received less air time are all the ways in which citizens, be they part of Occupy or not, continue to battle budget cuts in their own communities and across the country.
The blasé reception of this ongoing resistance might be explained, in part, by the decline of Occupy’s occupations. Revolution is sexy, but the quiet resistance of low-key direct action lacks Liberty Park’s flash.
Yet the resistance continues, in ways large and small.
A silent revolution emerges from the underground. Far from losing strength, decentralization has allowed 15-M to become ever more dynamic
Is the 15-M movement going invisible? Or is it rather gaining strength in the ‘underground’? The mainstream media keep claiming that the indignados have lost support since last year, that its only success is its ability to bring people together on special dates. Spanish newspaper El País concluded in May 2012 that, one year after the birth of the movement, popular support and sympathy for the indignados had decreased around 13% among the Spanish population, despite the massive mobilizations that took place from the 12th until the 15th of May, commemorating the anniversary of the movement. ABC opened its edition of May 15 stating that “the indignados movement shows less strength on their anniversary.” But the media misses the point. In reality, rather than losing strength, the movement has become stronger, more organized, better coordinated, and supported by the commitment of hundreds of people.
The decentralization of the movement
When May 2011 came to an end, the recently born 15-M movement had to find out how to survive beyond the camp at Puerta del Sol (acampadasol). Thus arose the idea of decentralizing the movement towards the neighborhoods: the ‘toma los barrios‘, or take the neighborhoods, initiative supported and encouraged the creation of assemblies in every neighborhood of Madrid. In this way, the movement went local: since the creation of the neighborhood assemblies on May 28, 2011, around 120 assemblies have been set up, and they coordinate through the Asamblea Popular de Madrid, the popular assembly of Madrid, also known as Asamblea Interbarrios (the inter-neighborhood assembly). As there were many thematic working groups in the original Sol camp, working groups with similar interests were created in most of the neighborhood assemblies, which since then collaborate and coordinate with the general groups from acampadasol.