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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Bill de Blasio: It’s Time to Close the Carried Interest Loophole

The rampant inequality that we face in America is no accident. It is the result of a system that, for too long, has rewarded existing wealth over work.

There is no more striking example of this phenomenon than the disparity between the earnings — and the tax rates — of kindergarten teachers and hedge fund managers.

In 2014, the top 25 hedge fund mangers made more money than every single kindergarten teacher in America — over 150,000 of them — combined. That’s right: 25 individuals — not even enough to fill the seating space on a single New York City subway car — made more than everyone who teaches our youngest learners put together.

What’s more, because of something called carried interest — a tax loophole that exists only to boost the earnings of hedge fund managers — those 25 people paid a lower tax rate than the average kindergarten teacher.

If we’re to truly tackle the crisis of income inequality, changing that rule — and investing that money in growing our middle class — is where we must start.

Norman Solomon: America’s post-9/11 Cassandras are still ignored

As the US war machine grinds on, mainstream media outlets bury prescient warnings

Fourteen years later, the horrors of 9/11 continue with deadly ripple effects. American militarism has become the dominant position of U.S. foreign policy, while other options remain banished to the sidelines. Yet from the outset of the “war on terrorism,” some Americans spoke out against a militarized response to the terrible events on Sept. 11, 2001. [..]

Even the most prominent warnings against such an approach were marginalized and vilified in the wake of Sept. 11. And those warnings have been buried by the U.S. media as though they never occurred, even though their concerns have proved prescient. The U.S. has spent trillions of dollars on military interventions across the Middle East, and yet the region is more violent and turbulent than ever.

This media amnesia helps keep the U.S. war train on track. The importance of the erasure is embodied in an observation by George Orwell, “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” The widespread pretense that there was no credible critique of going to war 14 years ago reinforces the assumption that there is no credible alternative to militarized responses today.

Paul Krugman: Japan’s Economy, Crippled by Caution

Visitors to Japan are often surprised by how prosperous it seems. It doesn’t look like a deeply depressed economy. And that’s because it isn’t.

Unemployment is low; overall economic growth has been slow for decades, but that’s largely because it’s an aging country with ever fewer people in their prime working years. Measured relative to the number of working-age adults, Japanese growth over the past quarter century has been almost as fast as America’s, and better than Western Europe’s.

Yet Japan is still caught in an economic trap. Persistent deflation has created a society in which people hoard cash, making it hard for policy to respond when bad things happen, which is why the businesspeople I’ve been talking to here are terrified about the possible spillover from China’s troubles.

Greg Grandin: The TPP Will Finish What Chile’s Dictatorship Started

Salvador Allende warned against neoliberalism’s disastrous effects just before he was overthrown. He was right to be worried.

This September 11th will be the forty-second anniversary of the US-backed coup against the democratically-elected Chilean government, led by the Socialist Salvador Allende, kicking off a battle that is still being fought: in Chile, protests led by students, indigenous peoples, and workers to rollback the “neoliberalization,” or Pinochetization, of society, are a continuing part of everyday life.

Neoliberalism is hard to define. It could refer to intensified resource extraction, financialization, austerity, or something more ephemeral, a way of life, in which collective ideals of citizenship give out to marketized individualism and consumerism. [..]

In the 1970s, socialism was, for many, on the horizon of the possible, with the principle of “excess profit” seen as a way for exploited countries to, in Allende’s words, “correct historic wrongs.” Today, forget nationalization, much less socialism. If the TPP is ratified and ISDS put into effect, countries won’t be able to limit mining to protect their water supply or even enforce anti-tobacco regulation.

This September 11th, as the Obama administration makes its final push for the TPP, it’s worth taking a moment to realize why all those people in Chile-and in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, and throughout Latin America-died and were tortured: to protect the “future profits” of multinational corporations.

Glenn Greenwald: Hillary Clinton Goes to Militaristic, Hawkish Think Tank, Gives Militaristic, Hawkish Speech

Leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday delivered a foreign policy speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington. By itself, the choice of the venue was revealing.

Brookings served as Ground Zero for centrist think tank advocacy of the Iraq War, which Clinton (along with potential rival Joe Biden) notoriously and vehemently advocated. Brookings’ two leading “scholar”-stars – Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon – spent all of 2002 and 2003 insisting that invading Iraq was wise and just, and spent the years after that assuring Americans that the “victorious” war and subsequent occupation were going really well (in April 2003, O’Hanlon debated with himself over whether the strategy that led to the “victory” in his beloved war should be deemed “brilliant” or just extremely “clever,” while in June 2003, Pollack assured New York Times readers that Saddam’s WMD would be found). [..]

So the hawkish Brookings is the prism through which Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy worldview can be best understood. The think tank is filled with former advisers to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and would certainly provide numerous top-level foreign policy officials in any Hillary Clinton administration. As she put it today at the start: “There are a lot of long-time friends and colleagues who perch here at Brookings.” And she proceeded to deliver exactly the speech one would expect, reminding everyone of just how militaristic and hawkish she is.

Dave Zirin and Jules Boykoff: The US is not fit to host the Olympics

Sorry, Los Angeles, but Washington’s appalling human rights record contravenes the principles of the Olympic movement

On Sept. 1, the Los Angeles City Council voted to authorize the U.S. Olympic Committee’s (USOC) bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The committee dropped Boston in July amid tenacious activism, wavering politicians and paltry polling numbers.

Los Angelenos should emulate Bostonians to make sure that their political leaders say no. The Olympic games tend to militarize the host city and go over budget, saddling taxpayers with lopsided fiscal risk while private groups pile up profits. What’s more, the United States’ appalling human rights record should rule the country out as a host. [..]

But the USOC should be spurned. The United States’ horrific human rights record breaches the Olympic Charter’s fundamental principles of Olympism (PDF), which calls for leading by example, social responsibility and respect for universal ethics. The objections over the awarding of Olympic Games to other human rights violators such as China and Russia should also apply to the United States. In fact, the U.S. is a ghastly maverick in many respects. Look no further than the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba, where more than 100 detainees – most of them without a single charge – continue to languish.