Monday, January 23, 2012

Ralph Nader on Obama's S of U 2012

Monday, January 23. 2012

Posted by nimda in Special Features

Letter to President Obama Re: The State of the Union Address

January 20, 2012

Dear President Obama:

As you prepare your State of the Union address, please be advised that those who support you are very cognizant of what you do not mention in such annual presentations to the Nation. For example, last year, environmentalists were shocked that global warming-climate change received no attention. Nor did raising the minimum wage, as you promised in 2008 to $9.50 by 2011.

Enclosed is my recent column titled "Congress Needs to Get to Work" that reminds and recommends what you and the Congressional Democrats should be advancing this year. They are not only needed legislative actions, but they are both significant and popular.

Try to avoid being drawn into corrosive conflicts with the Congressional Republicans on matters you could have avoided by learning how to bargain for more when you give up much. An example is your concessions on the Bush tax cuts in late 2010 for which you should have demanded concurrence for raising the debt limit. Think of the time that struggle absorbed in 2011,

To call a reduction of the employee side of the payroll tax a "tax cut" for 160 million Americans is beyond disingenuous. You know who pays for this maneuver once this can is kicked down the road.

The many organizations in this country striving to stem the rising poverty in this country have wondered why you never mention "the poor" in your speeches. They are aware of the Clintonesque code that only referred to "the middle class," and never to "the poor" or "to low income people" who now number nearly 100 million Americans. They did not expect that Barack Obama also would have employed this language of avoidance.

You do not want them to feel they are being taken for granted.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

"He Says One Thing and Does Another": Ralph Nader Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address

Responding to President Obama’s State of the Union address, longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader says Obama’s criticism of income inequality and Wall Street excess fail to live up to his record in office. "[Obama] says one thing and does another," Nader says. "Where has he been for over three years? He’s had the Justice Department. There are existing laws that could prosecute and convict Wall Street crooks. He hasn’t sent more than one or two to jail." On foreign policy, Nader says, "I think his lawless militarism, that started the speech and ended the speech, was truly astonishing. [Obama] was very committed to projecting the American empire, in Obama terms." 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Herve Kempf- Hold the Rich Accountable

Herve Kempf´s book, HOw the Rich Are Destroying the Planet, returned to my thoughts the other day.  While looking for it, I found this piece on Chavez at the 2009 Copenhagen COP.   One of my favorite statistics and discoveries about Chavez´s impact on Venezuela has been the tens of thousands of co-operatives incentivized since his first election and before and after the 2002 temporary coup. has some detailed discussions of these events.

Chavez Slams Rich Nations at Copenhagen, Calls for Systemic Change to Save Planet

Caracas, December 16th 2009 ( – During his speech to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez slammed the “lack of political will” of the most powerful nations to take serious action to avert climate change, and called for systemic change to save the planet.
Chavez, who received a standing ovation for his speech, said the process in Copenhagen is “not democratic; it is not inclusive.” In particular, he criticised an attempt by rich countries to overturn the Kyoto Protocol. Doing so would eliminate differentiation between the obligations of rich and poor countries, treating countries from the Global North and South as equally responsible for climate change.
“There is a group of countries that believe they are superior to those of us from the South, to those of us from the Third Word… this does not surprise us… we are again faced with powerful evidence of global imperial dictatorship,” Chavez said.
The Venezuelan president also applauded the initiative of the protesters outside the summit who were calling for serious measures to stop catastrophic climate change.
“There are many people outside... I've read in the news that there were some arrests, some intense protests there in the streets of Copenhagen, and I salute all those people out there, the majority of them youth… They are young people concerned for the world’s future,” he said.
“I have been reading some of the slogans painted in the streets… One said, ‘Don’t Change the Climate, Change the System!’ – And I bring that on board for us. Let’s not change the climate. Let’s change the system! And as a consequence, we will begin to save the planet. Capitalism is a destructive development model that is putting an end to life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the human species.”
Another notable slogan is, “If the climate were a bank, they would have bailed it out already,” Chavez said during his speech. “It’s true; the rich governments have saved the capitalist banks,” he said, but they lack “the political will” to make the necessary reductions to greenhouse emissions.
“One could say there is a spectre at Copenhagen, to paraphrase Karl Marx… almost no-one wants to mention it: the spectre of capitalism,” he declared.
History requires all people to struggle against capitalism, and if we don’t, life on the planet “will disappear,” the Venezuelan president argued.
“Do the rich think they can go to another planet when they’ve destroyed this one?” he asked as he recommended a copy of a book by HervĂ© Kampf, “How the Rich are Destroying the Planet.”
“Climate change is undoubtedly the most devastating environmental problem of this century. Floods, droughts, severe storms, hurricanes, melting ice caps, rise in average sea levels, ocean acidification, and heat waves, all of that sharpens the impact of global crisis besetting us,” he continued.
Human activity is exceeding the limits of sustainability and endangering life on the planet, but the impacts of climate change are also being felt disproportionately by the world’s poor, Chavez explained.
He also pointed to the relationship between economic inequality and levels of greenhouse gas emissions. He said the richest 500 million people, or 7% of the world’s population, are responsible for 50% of global greenhouse emissions, while the poorest 50% of the worlds population are responsible for only 7% of total emissions.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bill Moyers at OWS

Michael Johnson at has been following, and I'm agreeing it is a great site to visit, although much in need of people informed by solidarity economics, ecological economics, and other angles of grassroots activist perspectives.  Nevertheless, this Bill Moyers piece is one I was really happy to find, as it provides some spotlights of the OWS protests: 

Bill Moyers: Occupy a Cause

by: Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co. | Video

(Image: Moyers & Co.)
What’s the common cause behind Occupy protesters?
The Moyers & Company team visited the Occupy Wall Street site several times between October and December in 2011 — visits that reveal real faces, real people, and a true common cause. In this premiere Bill Moyers Essay, Bill talks about their anger — not at the concept of wealth itself, but at the crony capitalists who resort to tricks, loopholes, and hard, cold cash for politicians to make sure insiders prosper… and then pull up the ladder behind them.
BILL MOYERS: By coincidence I first met with Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on the very day Occupy Wall Street had sprung up in lower Manhattan. And I wondered, as so many others did, were we seeing the advance guard of a movement by organized people to challenge the power of organized money? Well, it’s still too soon to know. But in the weeks that followed, every time we went down to the encampment, there was no mistaking the message.
LINNEA PALMER PATON: I don’t have thousands of dollars to go buy myself a lobbyist to lobby for my views, but corporations do.
BILL MOYERS: Linnea Palmer Paton is 23 and an Occupy Wall Street Volunteer.
LINNEA PALMER PATON: This is supposed to be a government for the people, run by the people and if our voices don’t matter because we’re not wealthy, that’s really unacceptable and it’s dangerous.
Read more articles and view more videos from Moyers & Co. by clicking here
HERO VINCENT: My name is Hero Vincent, I'm 21 years old. I’ve been here since day one. My parents were foreclosed on, my father’s been unemployed a couple of years. My mother was the only one taking care of the family for a while. I’ve been working since I’ve been 14 years old, you know, trying to put food on our table, trying to help out with the bills. So all these circumstances-- my sister is in college and she-- we can barely afford it, you know. And so it brought us here. The struggle brought us to this occupation, this day, this moment.
[NATSOT]: It ain’t hard to occupy if you’re set on freedom.
BILL MOYERS: Amin Husain is a former corporate lawyer. He’s now an artist who has become one of the many organizers of Occupy Wall Street.
AMIN HUSAIN: This connection between government and state regulating money and the flow of money at the expense of 99 percent of the population is untenable and it’s no longer being accepted. There’s been a shift in the way that people think of themselves in this political process. That there has been a level of empowerment. But this movement is about transforming society.....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA and PIPA- Corporate Control of the Internet

Ah, the thrill of the threat of corporate control hardly takes a break.  Here we go again, and the internet is the subject.  Take a look at this email from a Democratic party source.  A MoveOn message about voter suppression follows:

Dear ,
Since the dawn of broadcasting, our free speech has been dominated - and largely controlled - by the powerful corporations that control public airwaves and the shows they carry.
Real free speech on the Internet is a profound, existential threat to these media giants and the politicians they own. So they are desperately trying to seize control of the Internet with obscure bills called "SOPA" in the House and "PIPA" in the Senate.
Tell Congress: Stop the Corporate Takeover of the Internet
SOPA and PIPA would wreak havoc on the technical infrastructure of the Internet, and threaten thousands of Internet businesses which are truly creating jobs.
More importantly, these bills would give big corporations and the Attorney General the power to shut down websites large and small that somehow link to copyright violators, whether through their own posts or even visitor comments.
How on earth can a website - ours included - monitor thousands or millions of links that accumulate over the years? And why should a single link be sufficient to shut down a website or force a bankrupting legal battle with a giant corporation?

Bob Fertik,

and a MoveOn campaign issue of Republican voter suppression actions:

Dear MoveOn member,
Imagine Mitt Romney in the White House. Tea party Republicans still in control of Congress. No Obama to veto their worst bills.
The election is months away, but this scenario could definitely happen, and here's a big reason why: voter suppression laws passed by Republicans in battleground states to make it as hard as possible for students, poor people, African-Americans, and Latinos to vote. 
Already, Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio have passed laws to restrict voter registration drives, end early voting, or require voters to present photo IDs at the polls.1 And now Republicans are scrambling to pass laws in virtually every other key battleground state to make it harder to vote in 2012.
These laws shamelessly target key segments of the Obama coalition from 2008, including first-time voters, poor people, and people of color, and could easily tip a close election to Mitt Romney or whoever the Republican nominee is. We're looking at Florida in 2000 all over again.....
Thanks for all you do.
–Steven, Anna, Adam Q., Stefanie, and the rest of the team


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Battered Greeks (Re) Learn to Barter-NY Times

I found this first at US SEN, but it comes from the Gray Lady, the NYT:

By RACHEL DONADIO, NYT,   October 2, 2011
VOLOS, Greece — The first time he bought eggs, milk and jam at an outdoor market using not euros but an informal barter currency, Theodoros Mavridis, an unemployed electrician, was thrilled.
“I felt liberated, I felt free for the first time,” Mr. Mavridis said in a recent interview at a cafe in this port city in central Greece. “I instinctively reached into my pocket, but there was no need to.”
Mr. Mavridis is a co-founder of a growing network here in Volos that uses a so-called Local Alternative Unit, or TEM in Greek, to exchange goods and services — language classes, baby-sitting, computer support, home-cooked meals — and to receive discounts at some local businesses.....

Grassroots Economic Organizing and the NY Times

One of my longtime favorite websites is this one,  Ethan Miller has written an excellent, definitive piece in response to the Occupy Wall St. Movement, deconstructing the popular term "the economy," and drawing on most essential issues to understand the history and nature of capitalist society and neoliberal ideology.  His discussion is firmly rooted in the solution, and concludes with an excellent conceptual overview. 


OCCUPY! CONNECT! CREATE! - Imagining Life Beyond "The Economy" (part one)

email Email   print Print
by Ethan Miller

"Fall in love with hard and patient work-we are the beginning, not the end."
-Zizek, at #OccupyWallStreet

"Lost my job, found an occupation!"
- sign at #OccupyWallStreet

An Introduction
#OccupyWallStreet has cracked open a little hole in history, creating a moment where some of the very core institutions of our economy are called into question. Along with indignation and outrage, there is a certain excitement in the air. Things that have been terrifyingly stuck seem to be moving. Something seems possible today that wasn't just a month ago. In this space, our conversations and our imaginations are buzzing. What are we doing? What should we do? What's coming next? In particular: as we condemn this economy built for the benefit of the 1%, what do we want in its place, and how will we build it?
This text, grounded in several years of collective thinking and writing, is meant to be a contribution to this vibrant conversation. My basic premise is this: if we want to effectively envision and create alternatives to the economy of Wall Street, we need to re-think the very concept of "the economy" itself. We have inherited an economics that stifles our imaginations and dampens our collective sense of power and possibility. Only by telling new stories about what economies are (and might yet be) can we most effectively kindle the fires of our creative, transformative work to build new forms of livelihood. I propose here a set of five core economic principles for "rethinking the economy" that might be helpful steps in this process, and may also usefully inform the direction of our concrete strategies. Our work can be strengthened by:
(1) shifting from a mind-numbing concept of "the economy" to more enabling concepts of diverse forms of livelihood;
(2) moving beyond the destructive tension between "economy" and "ecology" in conventional economics to an acknowledgement of our participation in a community of life;
(3) challenging our either/or thinking about "the market" and "the state" and opening up creative political space within and beyond these institutions;
(4) escaping the limiting logics of "economic laws" that tell us what we can and cannot do, and embracing the work of creating new possibilities through collective imagination and action; and, finally,
(5) reclaiming economics from the "experts" to become a practice of solidarity-building and democratic organizing in which it is "we the people" who can and must make our own economies.
These are not proposals for an alternative economic "system" to replace the current one. They are, rather, a set of tools to support our diverse, collective work of imagining new livelihoods together. This text is part theory, part strategy and part call-to-action for the immediate and long-term work of identifying and seizing spaces of democratic practice (occupy!), linking them together in networks of mutual support and recognition (connect!), and drawing on our collective strength to actively create new ways of meeting our needs and making our livings (create!).
The #Occupy Movement is a vital spark, already creating and demonstrating-in public experiments with democracy and solidarity across the U.S. and around the world-elements of the new economies we are working to build. This movement calls us toward long-term commitments, generations of work that we have only just begun. Everything is at stake.
I refer quite often, in these pages, to a "we." Who is this "we"? It is everyone who reads these words and finds some resonance with them; it is everyone who participates in the larger conversation (of which this text is one tiny part) about what it means to be alive at this moment in history, and about what it means to respond to the urgent call for occupation, connection and creation. The "we" is you, and you, and you, and I, who are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work on building a different way of living together on this earth....

The NY Times has just published an opinion that shows their good-intentions:


What They Don’t Want to Talk About

Ever since Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry started criticizing Mitt Romney’s actions at Bain Capital — and talking about the thousands of people laid off as a result of Bain’s investments — party leaders have essentially told them to shut up. That response is a pretty good indication of how deeply party elders fear the issue of economic inequality in the campaign to come.
“What the hell are you doing, Newt?” Rudolph Giuliani asked Thursday on Fox News. “This is what Saul Alinsky taught Barack Obama, and what you’re saying is part of the reason we’re in so much trouble right now.”
Mr. Giuliani has one thing right: Republicans are indeed in growing trouble as more voters begin to realize how much the party’s policies — dismantling regulations, slashing taxes for the rich, weakening unions — have contributed to inequality and the yawning distance between the middle class and the top end..... 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gar Alperovitz on DemocracyNow- Co-operatives

A search today turned up this little nugget from DemocracyNow on Dec. 15, 2011.  It's the first piece on co-ops that I know of from this excellent news source.  I'll search for Alperovitz's NY Times op-ed shortly....
      I've also taken a look at and found a nice collection of books on the co-operative model of enterprise.  Berkeley, CA John Curl's book of his longstanding research paper is a hefty account worth looking at closely.  More on that later....

....AMY GOODMAN: Alperovitz finds that 130 million Americans are members of some kind of cooperative, and 13 million Americans work in an employee-owned company. He says the U.S. may be heading toward something very different from both corporate-dominated capitalism and from traditional socialism.
Gar Alperovitz is a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland. His op-ed is called "Worker-Owners of America, Unite!" It’s out today in theNew York Times. A new edition of his book, America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy, has also just been published.
So, what’s the evidence for this, Gar?
GAR ALPEROVITZ: Well, it’s piling up right beneath the surface, that the press, the normal press, hasn’t been covering. You know, 130 million people, that’s 40 percent of United States, involved in credit unions, co-ops all over the country, that don’t get any publicity. And roughly 13 million people, in one kind or another, have worker-owned companies—again, five or six million more people than are involved in labor unions. And several states are attempting to set up state banks, like the existing Bank of North Dakota. A number of cities are trying to set up city banks. San Francisco and Portland are the latest ones on the list. So, if you look deeper, you find wonderful experiments going on. One really interesting one in Cleveland, where there’s a group of cooperatively owned businesses by—in the community that are building a hydroponic land kind of greenhouse, producing three to five million heads of lettuce a year, a gigantic laundry—all this worker-owned. And again, the press hasn’t been covering it, but there—it gives you a sense of what could happen if the Occupy movement gets serious about simply building on what’s already out there.....

see for full article....