Daily Archive: 08/18/2014

Aug 18 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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Robert Kuttner: Lousy Work: Will it Break Through as a Political Issue?

For decades, the increasing precariousness of work has been a source of mass frustration for tens of millions of Americans. But the issue has been largely below the political radar.

Politicians ritually invoke good jobs at good wages, yet presidents have been unwilling to name, much less remedy, the deep economic forces that are turning payroll jobs into what I’ve termed “The Task Rabbit Economy” — a collection of ad hoc gigs with no benefits, no job security, no career paths, and no employer reciprocity for worker diligence.

But there are signs that maybe this issue is starting to break through.

One manifestation of job insecurity is extremes of inequality as corporations, banks, and hedge funds capture more than their share of the economy’s productive output at the expense of workers. The Occupy movement gave that super-elite a name: The One Percent.

Dr. Jason Johnson: NAACP’S Net Failure in Ferguson

The shooting of teenager Mike Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri has mutated from a tragic local killing to a national crisis. The Ferguson police, operating with incompetence worthy of the film Police Academy and the aggression of an occupying army have turned a possible criminal act by a cop into a human rights crisis in America’s heartland. Activists and organizations from Al Sharpton and the ACLU to new NAACP president Cornell Brooks descended upon the town to express outrage, call for justice and fight for solutions. While it helps for many of these civil rights organizations to be at ground zero, what would really make a big impact on Ferguson and other cities in racial strife should happen back in Washington DC. If the NAACP and other civil rights organizations really care about justice, accountability and activism, they’ll change their bizarre stance on net neutrality. We would never know what was going on in Ferguson without a free and open Internet and for some reason the NAACP is fighting to shut that down.

Let’s step back a few weeks. On July 18, Michael Brown was still alive, Darren Williams was patrolling the streets like a white Eddie Walker, and the most important national story out of the St. Louis metro area was whether Michael Sam could make the Tony Dungy All-Star squad. What escaped the attention of all but a few tech media was that on that day the NAACP, the National Action Network, the Urban League, 100 Black Men, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, the Council of Korean Americans, Rainbow PUSH and about a dozen other civil rights organizations filed a brief to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) basically begging to end net neutrality.

What does net neutrality have to do with Ferguson, Missouri? Everything. Net neutrality means all content on the Internet has to be treated equally.

David M. Perry: Ferguson and the cult of compliance

When the police won’t take no for an answer

The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, set off by a policeman’s shooting of an unarmed black teen last week, appear to be spinning out of control – not because crowds are rioting nightly but because law enforcement is operating as though they are in a war zone. Peaceful protesters are facing nothing short of a domestic army, armed with military equipment, waiting for a provocation.

As the protests progressed, the police have used noncompliance, or the failure to obey their every order, as their justification for whatever violence came next. That’s also the excuse that the police used to explain why an officer shot Michael Brown. They said the incident started because Brown didn’t comply with an order to move, so it is he who is to blame.

What happens if you don’t comply when the police give you an order? What rights do you really have? How free are you, really, when the authorities have weapons pointed at you or when they have the right to draw a weapon and use it with relative impunity?

David Sirota: Is Corruption a Constitutional Right?

Wall Street is one of the biggest sources of funding for presidential campaigns, and many of the Republican Party’s potential 2016 contenders are governors, from Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Perry of Texas to Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. And so, last week, the GOP filed a federal lawsuit aimed at overturning the pay-to-play law that bars those governors from raising campaign money from Wall Street executives who manage their states’ pension funds.

In the case, New York and Tennessee’s Republican parties are represented by two former Bush administration officials, one of whose firms just won the Supreme Court case invalidating campaign contribution limits on large donors. In their complaint, the parties argue that people managing state pension money have a First Amendment right to make large donations to state officials who award those lucrative money management contracts.

Malcolm Harris: When your employer doesn’t consider you an employee

Workers have the right to know their true employment status

Do you have a job? It seems like a simple question, but millions of Americans aren’t quite sure one way or another. The growth of nontraditional employment means more and more people are doing what can be recognized as work without knowing their exact employment status. Between independent contracts and internships, firms are increasingly reliant on marginally attached workers, for whom it is hard to say what labor regulations apply.

A newly reproposed law seeks to fix this ambiguity by forcing businesses to clarify – in writing – whether their workers are employed or not. Introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., in May, the Payroll Fraud Prevention Act of 2014 (a reinvigorated attempt at a bill that stalled last year) would reform the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 to reduce employee misclassification. If the bill becomes law, it will define nonemployees – people engaged for labor or services who are not employees – and require firms to issue notices informing workers of their official classification, their rights under the law and options for seeking remedy if they think they have been misclassified. The act would go a long way to leveling the informational asymmetry that plagues the labor market.

Aug 18 2014

The Breakfast Club: 8-18-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

Aug 18 2014

On This Day In History August 18

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 18 is the 230th day of the year (231st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 135 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified when the Tennessee General Assembly, by a one-vote margin became the thirty-sixth state legislature to ratify the proposed amendment. On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the amendment’s adoption.

It took 70 years of struggle by women of the Suffrage Movement headed by Susan B. Anthony to get this amendment passed. Gail Collins’ NYT Op-Ed recount of the story puts it in great perspective:

That great suffragist and excellent counter, Carrie Chapman Catt, estimated that the struggle had involved 56 referendum campaigns directed at male voters, plus “480 campaigns to get Legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters, 47 campaigns to get constitutional conventions to write woman suffrage into state constitutions; 277 campaigns to get State party conventions to include woman suffrage planks, 30 campaigns to get presidential party campaigns to include woman suffrage planks in party platforms and 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses.”

As Ms. Catt tells it and to no one’s surprise the Senate was the biggest obstacle, so the Suffragettes decided to take it to the states and amend all the state constitutions, one by one.

The constitutional amendment that finally did pass Congress bore Anthony’s name. It came up before the House of Representatives in 1918 with the two-thirds votes needed for passage barely within reach. One congressman who had been in the hospital for six months had himself carted to the floor so he could support suffrage. Another, who had just broken his shoulder, refused to have it set for fear he’d be too late to be counted. Representative Frederick Hicks of New York had been at the bedside of his dying wife but left at her urging to support the cause. He provided the final, crucial vote, and then returned home for her funeral.

The ratification stalled short of one state when it came to a vote in the Tennessee Legislature on August 18, 1920 and was short one vote to ratify when a young state legislator got a note from his mother:

Ninety years ago this month, all eyes turned to Tennessee, the only state yet to ratify with its Legislature still in session. The resolution sailed through the Tennessee Senate. As it moved on to the House, the most vigorous opposition came from the liquor industry, which was pretty sure that if women got the vote, they’d use it to pass Prohibition. Distillery lobbyists came to fight, bearing samples.

“Both suffrage and anti-suffrage men were reeling through the hall in an advanced state of intoxication,” Carrie Catt reported.

The women and their allies knew they had a one-vote margin of support in the House. Then the speaker, whom they had counted on as a “yes,” changed his mind.

(I love this moment. Women’s suffrage is tied to the railroad track and the train is bearing down fast when suddenly. …)

Suddenly, Harry Burn, the youngest member of the House, a 24-year-old “no” vote from East Tennessee, got up and announced that he had received a letter from his mother telling him to “be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt.”

“I know that a mother’s advice is always the safest for a boy to follow,” Burn said, switching sides.

We celebrate Women’s Suffrage Day on Aug. 26, which is when the amendment officially became part of the Constitution. But I like Aug. 18, which is the day that Harry Burn jumped up in the Tennessee Legislature, waving his mom’s note from home. I told the story once in Atlanta, and a woman in the audience said that when she was visiting her relatives in East Tennessee, she had gone to put a yellow rose on Harry Burn’s grave.

I got a little teary.

“Well, actually,” she added, “it was because I couldn’t find his mother.”

Aug 18 2014

Sunday Train: The Two Transitions to A Renewable Electricity Supply

The topic for this week’s Sunday Train was brought to my mind when I listened to the Energy Gang podcast. They were discussing the question of whether “CSP (that is, concentrated thermal solar power) is dead”, and the always entertaining, but not uniformly informative, “energy futurist” Jigar Shah declared that “CSP is dead” (segment starts 30:29), backing the claim up with a set of bullet points that fell far short of supporting the claim. And listening to the set of bullet points, it seemed to me that he was talking in the context of the phase of the transition to renewable energy that we are presently in, and ignoring the phase of the transition that we will have to pass through if we are to survive as a national economy and national economy.

In short, he seemed to be talking more as an energy presentist than an energy futurist, claiming that there was no plausible position for solar CSP power based on both the technology currently rolled out for a technology that is experiencing rapid development, and on context of renewable energy being added to an energy system which is untenable over the long term.

But I do not mean to single out Jigar Shah, since as I have recently been exploring various discussion spaces talking about various issues in the roll-out of renewable energy, cross-talk between the different phases of the transition to renewable energy seems to be commonplace. So what I wish to write about this Sunday afternoon is the “Two Transitions” to renewable energy: the Current Transition and the Next Transition.