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Aug 27 2013

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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Dean Baker: Pinching Pensions to Keep Wall Street Fat and Happy

The debate over public pensions shows clearly the contempt that the elites have for ordinary workers. While elites routinely preach the sanctity of contract when it works to benefit the rich and powerful, they are happy to treat the contracts that provide workers with pensions as worthless scraps of paper.

We see this attitude on display currently in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings. It is even more clearly on display in efforts by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to default on the city’s pension obligations.

The basic story in both cases is that the contracts that workers had labored under are being laughed at by the elites because they find it inconvenient to carry through with the terms. In the case of Detroit, public sector workers face the loss of much of their pension as a result of the city’s effort to declare bankruptcy.

Bill Moyers: The End Game for Democracy

We are so close to losing our democracy to the mercenary class, it’s as if we are leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon and all that’s needed is a swift kick in the pants. Look out below.

The predators in Washington are only this far from monopoly control of our government. They have bought the political system, lock, stock and pork barrel, making change from within impossible. That’s the real joke.

Sometimes I long for the wit of a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. They treat this town as burlesque, and with satire and parody show it the disrespect it deserves. We laugh, and punch each other on the arm, and tweet that the rascals got their just dessert. Still, the last laugh always seems to go to the boldface names that populate this town. To them belong the spoils of a looted city. They get the tax breaks, the loopholes, the contracts, the payoffs.

Bob Dreyfus: No War with Syria!

Here’s the core question now, in regard to Syria: if it’s true that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used poison gas in an incident that killed hundreds of people, at least, in the suburbs of Damascus, can the United States avoid military action in response? The answer is: yes. And it should.

That doesn’t mean that the United States ought to do nothing. The horrific incident, reported in detail by Doctors Without Borders, demands action. But the proper response by the United States is an all-out effort to achieve a ceasefire in the Syrian civil war. It’s late in the game but it can be done. The first step would be for Washington to put intense pressure on Saudi Arabia, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and Turkey, to halt the flow of weapons to the Syrian rebels, while simultaneously getting Russia and Iran to do the same. A concerted, worldwide diplomatic effort along those lines could work, but there’s zero evidence that President Obama has even thought of that.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: A Dream Deferred: The Minimum Wage Was Higher in 1963 Than It Is Today.

When Bayard Rustin addressed the March on Washington in 1963 he said this: “We demand that there be an increase in the national minimum wage so that men may live in dignity.” The crowd cheered in response. But after fifty years of commemorating that march, after thousands of reverent re-readings of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, that dream remains deferred – and worse.

The minimum wage is lower today than it was in 1963.

Of the people who speak reverently about that march this week, how many will fight for a higher minimum wage so that all people can live in dignity? How many people will remember the full name of that gathering – “the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”?

William K. Black: Mueller: I Crippled FBI Effort v. White-Collar Crime, My Successor Will Make It Worse

FBI Director Robert Mueller is taking his victory lap as he steps down after 12 years of service. I have done three articles in a series that explains how the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) conned the FBI into adopting the Tea Party’s mythology about the causes of the crisis – virginal banks beset by ultra-sophisticated fraudulent hairdressers. The MBA created a faux definition of mortgage fraud under which the bank and its senior officers were always the victims instead of the perpetrators. [..]

White-collar crime investigations and prosecutions are massive money makers that reduce the deficit, but Mueller, Holder, and Obama refuse to make these points and refuse to prosecute the elite bank fraudsters. On substantive and political grounds their actions are either inexplicable or all too explicable and support my readers’ belief that the FBI leadership no longer wants to investigate and prosecute the elite bank frauds.

Robert Reich: Trimmings for Labor Day

The good news this Labor Day: Jobs are returning. The bad news this Labor Day: Most of them pay lousy wages and low if non-existent benefits.

The trend toward lousy wages began before the Great Recession. According to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, weak wage growth between 2000 and 2007, combined with wage losses for most workers since then, means that the bottom 60 percent of working Americans are earning less now than 13 years ago.

This is also part of the explanation for why the percent of Americans living below the poverty line has been increasing even as the economy has started to recover — from 12.3 percent in 2006 to around 14 percent this year. More than 35 million Americans now live below the poverty line.

Many of them have jobs. The problem is these jobs just don’t pay enough to lift their families out of poverty.