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Jul 20 2012

Punting the Pundits

“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”.

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Paul Krugman: Pathos of the Plutocrat

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” So wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald – and he didn’t just mean that they have more money. What he meant instead, at least in part, was that many of the very rich expect a level of deference that the rest of us never experience and are deeply distressed when they don’t get the special treatment they consider their birthright; their wealth “makes them soft where we are hard.”

And because money talks, this softness – call it the pathos of the plutocrats – has become a major factor in America’s political life.

It’s no secret that, at this point, many of America’s richest men – including some former Obama supporters – hate, just hate, President Obama. Why? Well, according to them, it’s because he “demonizes” business – or as Mitt Romney put it earlier this week, he “attacks success.” Listening to them, you’d think that the president was the second coming of Huey Long, preaching class hatred and the need to soak the rich.

New York Times Editorial: Democrats Gain the Upper Hand

It’s only been a year since Congressional Republicans, bent on cutting spending, manufactured a financial crisis by threatening not to raise the debt ceiling. Now, apparently thinking the public has forgotten that debacle, they’re furious that Democrats have figured out a way to turn the tables.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Democratic leadership, said Monday that her party was prepared to let all the Bush-era tax cuts expire on Jan. 1 if Republicans refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy. The same holds true, she said, for the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that begin at the same time, which Republicans demanded in the debt crisis but now oppose after realizing that the cuts affect more than social welfare programs.

David Sirota: Obscuring a Debate Over Butlers

For all the superheated rhetoric of yet another election cycle, it’s as clear as ever that the Republican and Democratic parties in Washington pretty much support the same economic policies. Indeed, any honest perusal of congressional votes proves that the party establishments are roughly the same when it comes to financial deregulation (less of it), job-killing free trade (more of it), bailouts (more of them) and corporate taxes (less of them).

Politicians and partisan media outlets deny this obvious reality, of course. But they do so because they have a vested interest in the red-versus-blue “polarization” narrative from which they generate campaign contributions and ratings, respectively. This is why their hysterical attacks on their foes-and their refusal to acknowledge the political duopoly-has such a grating “doth protest too much” quality. It’s also why more Americans are wholly tuning out of politics-we’re less and less interested in gazing at two heads of the same economic monster.

That said, if you are still gullible enough to believe the illusion of huge differences on economics, behold the “debate” over taxes that is now roiling the presidential race.

Robert Reich: The Problem Isn’t Outsourcing. It’s That Big Business Is Disconnected From the Well-Being of Most Americans

President Obama is slamming Mitt Romney for heading companies that were “pioneers in outsourcing U.S. jobs,” while Romney is accusing Obama of being “the real outsourcer-in-chief.”

These are the dog days of summer and the silly season of presidential campaigns. But can we get real, please?

The American economy has moved way beyond outsourcing abroad or even “in-sourcing.” Most big companies headquartered in America don’t send jobs overseas and don’t bring jobs here from abroad.

That’s because most are no longer really “American” companies. They’ve become global networks that design, make, buy, and sell things wherever around the world it’s most profitable for them to do so.

Dean Baker: Technology and Inequality: The Happy Myth

The 1% likes to blame technological innovation for income redistribution but calculated policy changes are at fault

The people who have been the winners in the massive upward redistribution of income over the last three decades have a happy story that they like to tell themselves and the rest of us: technology did it. The reason why this is a happy story is that technology develops to a large extent beyond our control.

None of us can decide exactly what direction innovations in computers, automation, or medicine will take. Scientists and engineers in these areas follow their leads and innovate where they can. If the outcome of these innovations is an economy that is more unequal, that may be unfortunate, but you can’t get mad at the technology. This is why the beneficiaries of growing inequality are always happy to tell us that the problem is technology.

Bill McKibben: A Long Hot Summer

It’s turning into a hot climate summer in two ways, only one of which you can measure with a thermometer.

Amidst the deepening drought, the summer’s fourth heat wave, and the continued western fires, there’s something else breaking out: a siege of citizen uprisings at key points around the country all designed to keep coal in the hole, oil in the soil, gas… underground.

Ever since the mass arrests protesting the Keystone pipeline last summer (the largest civil disobedience action in the U.S. in 30 years) there’s been renewed interest in confronting the fossil fuel industry and its political enablers. Some have been following this path for years, of course — late next week, beginning July 25, opponents of mountain-top removal coal-mining will resume their long-standing (and increasingly successful fight), with a week-long Mountain Mobilization that will likely include civil disobedience.

2 comments

  1. Turbonerd

    He had a very good, very distressing, longish piece in the latest Rolling Stone titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” currently occupying the “most popular” slot on the RS website. After reading it I keep swinging between getting fired up and depressed. On the one hand, if he’s right and the only thing preventing meaningful action on climate change is $27 trillion worth of economic inertia… oh wait here comes the depression phase again.

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