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Sep 22 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: Those Lazy Jobless

Last week John Boehner, the speaker of the House, explained to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute what’s holding back employment in America: laziness. People, he said, have “this idea” that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.” Holy 47 percent, Batman!

It’s hardly the first time a prominent conservative has said something along these lines. Ever since a financial crisis plunged us into recession it has been a nonstop refrain on the right that the unemployed aren’t trying hard enough, that they are taking it easy thanks to generous unemployment benefits, which are constantly characterized as “paying people not to work.” And the urge to blame the victims of a depressed economy has proved impervious to logic and evidence.

But it’s still amazing – and revealing – to hear this line being repeated now. For the blame-the-victim crowd has gotten everything it wanted: Benefits, especially for the long-term unemployed, have been slashed or eliminated. So now we have rants against the bums on welfare when they aren’t bums – they never were – and there’s no welfare. Why?

Jesse Jackson: Silicon Valley has a proud record on innovation, a shameful one on equality

Hi-tech giants have a moral and economic duty to promote inclusivity in their workforces

A new climate of change, hope and progress is now gripping Silicon Valley and the hi-tech industry. Inclusion and equal opportunity in the technology industry are the 21st-century civil rights imperatives. They are today’s dynamic, disruptive change agents reshaping the culture and character of the hi-tech industry.

Technology is supposed to be about innovation, opportunity and inclusion, but, sadly, patterns of exclusion remain the order of the day. In fact, the tech industry is perhaps America’s worst industry when it comes to inclusion and diversity.

Rainbow Push, the social justice organisation I founded, has brought this message to the industry through direct participation and speaking at the shareholder meetings of HP, eBay, Facebook and Google. What we’ve been saying is that Silicon Valley is America’s valley: built through American R&D, American education, American tax credits and tax havens. It should reflect America’s best values and principles.

Desmond Tutu: We fought apartheid. Now climate change is our global enemy

On the eve of the UN Climate Summit, Desmond Tutu argues that tactics used against firms who did business with South Africa must now be applied to fossil fuels to prevent human suffering

Never before in history have human beings been called on to act collectively in defence of the Earth. As a species, we have endured world wars, epidemics, famine, slavery, apartheid and many other hideous consequences of religious, class, race, gender and ideological intolerance. People are extraordinarily resilient. The Earth has proven pretty resilient, too. It’s managed to absorb most of what’s been thrown at it since the industrial revolution and the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Until now, that is. Because the science is clear: the sponge that cushions and sustains us, our environment, is already saturated with carbon. If we don’t limit global warming to two degrees or less we are doomed to a period of unprecedented instability, insecurity and loss of species. Fossil fuels have powered human endeavour since our ancestors developed the skills to make and manage fire. Coal, gas and oil warm our homes, fuel our industries and enable our movements. We have allowed ourselves to become totally dependent, and are guilty of ignoring the warning signs of pending disaster. It is time to act.

Paul Rosenberg: desmond-tutu-climate-change-is-the-global-enemy  This is how ISIS wins: Repeating the Bush/Cheney/Rove approach just won’t work

The way to battle ISIS long-term is to understand its appeal and retain our humanity. Take Sun Tzu’s word for it!

For all his vaunted love of nuance, President Obama’s recent speech announcing our new war against ISIS (or ISIL, to the White House) denounced them in terms strikingly similar to George W. Bush’s language waging war on “evil doers,” and that’s a development that should trouble us all. Yes, Obama avoided the word ‘war,’ but the rest of his team soon embraced it, and the logic of his address made that move virtually inevitable, whatever he may personally and privately have wished. [..]

No one can doubt that ISIS is murderous – just like Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, last year’s No. 1 candidate for America’s wrath. But it’s simply untrue that ISIS has “no other vision” than slaughter. Their vision of an Islamic state – a new Caliphate – may be many things: delusional, presumptuous, contrary to true Islamic values and obviously cruel. But it certainly is a vision of sorts, and it has some appeal, if only to a tiny, disaffected fragment of the world’s Islamic community.

If we don’t understand that vision – and what people find attractive in it – then we really have very little chance of effectively fighting against it, even though ISIS now commands only a few thousand fighters. We may win lots of battles, but not the war. Even if we defeat ISIS itself, but don’t understand its appeal, it will only a reappear in another, potentially even more deadly form, just as ISIS now appears more malignant than al-Qaida.  This is particularly true if we ignore the multilayered network of historical grievances which ISIS seeks to exploit.

Robert Kuttner: The United Kingdom Nearly Died for Maggie’s Sins

Why on earth did the Scots, largely quiescent as part of Great Britain for three centuries, suddenly become the mouse that roared?

It wasn’t because they became besotted watching re-runs of Braveheart or Rob Roy, or even because they coveted more of a share of North Sea oil revenues. No, the Scots got sick and tired of Thatcherite policies imposed from London.

Thanks to the partial form of federalism known as “devolution” provided by the Labour government of Tony Blair in 1997, Scotland got to keep such progressive policies as free higher education and an intact national health service, while the rest of the U.K. partly privatized the health service and began compelling young people to go into debt to finance college like their American cousins.