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Jan 20 2014

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: The Undeserving Rich

The reality of rising American inequality is stark. Since the late 1970s real wages for the bottom half of the work force have stagnated or fallen, while the incomes of the top 1 percent have nearly quadrupled (and the incomes of the top 0.1 percent have risen even more). While we can and should have a serious debate about what to do about this situation, the simple fact – American capitalism as currently constituted is undermining the foundations of middle-class society – shouldn’t be up for argument.

But it is, of course. Partly this reflects Upton Sinclair’s famous dictum: It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. But it also, I think, reflects distaste for the implications of the numbers, which seem almost like an open invitation to class warfare – or, if you prefer, a demonstration that class warfare is already underway, with the plutocrats on offense.

Glenn Greenwald: Who elected them?

Who elected Daniel Ellsberg and The New York Times to take it upon themselves to ]reveal  thousands of pages of the top secret Pentagon Papers http://www.pbs.org/pov/mostdan… to the American public? [..]

hy did all these people – whom we didn’t elect – think they had the right to decide which classified information should be disclosed?

Zoë Carpenter: What Obama Didn’t Say in His Speech on NSA Spying

The really significant parts of Obama’s speech were the things he did not mention. He did not call for a full stop to the bulk collection of communication records, only a transfer of ownership. Instead, he endorsed the idea that data about millions of Americans should be stored and made available to intelligence analysts. Tellingly, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Mike Rogers, the NSA’s most ardent and prominent supporters in the Capitol, applauded the president for affirming that using metadata “is a capability that is ‘critical’ and must be ‘preserved.'” [..]

If Obama’s speech is a first step, it’s worth thinking about what forced him to make it, beyond the obvious (Edward Snowden). According to reports, it was not so much the programs revealed by Snowden that shocked the president but instead the public outcry that followed. It’s going take a lot more of the same to move the heavy feet of government further.

Dean Baker: ‘Freedom’ Industries? Property Rights, Regulation, and Brain Dead Environmentalists

The company (incredibly named “Freedom Industries”) responsible for the massive chemical spill in West Virginia that left hundreds of thousands of people without drinking water declared bankruptcy yesterday. This means that all of the people who had to suffer through days without water, and some who became seriously ill from drinking contaminated water, will likely not be compensated by this company for the damage it caused them. [..]

People who don’t want polluters to be able to operate with impunity are no more nor less market fundamentalists than Bill Gates when he has people arrested for dumping waste on his lawn. The only difference is whose rights are being respected.

John Nichols: Beyond the NSA: What About Big Data Abuse by Corporations, Politicians?

Taking steps to end, or at the very least to constrain, the federal government’s practice of storing information on the personal communications of Americans is a good thing. There is every reason to respect initiatives that seek to prevent the National Security Agency’s metadata programs from making a mockery of the right to privacy outlined in the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

But the moves that President Obama announced Friday to impose more judicial oversight on federal authorities who might “listen to your private phone calls, or read your emails” and the steps that may be taken by Attorney General Eric Holder and intelligence officials to check and balance the NSA following the submission of proposals on March 28 ought not be seen mistaken for a restoration of privacy rights in America.

New York Times Editorial Board: When Children Become Criminals

New York is one of two states, the other being North Carolina, in which 16-year-olds are automatically tried as adults. This is the case despite overwhelming evidence that sending children into adult courts, rather than the juvenile justice system, needlessly destroys lives and further endangers the public by turning nonviolent youngsters into hardened criminals.

It is past time for New York to bring itself in line with the rest of the country. Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the first step in that direction this month when he announced that he would name a commission and order it to develop a plan by the end of the year for raising the age for adult criminal prosecution. The commission does not need to reinvent the wheel. But it will need to recommend changes in laws and procedures, and in this it can profit from studying Connecticut, which recently carried out raise-the-age legislation of its own.

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