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Government is the Solution

Government is the Solution | Government for the People | Scoop.it

"The government creates jobs — yes, really."

 

"Decades of anti-government rhetoric have made liberals wary of claiming their legacy as supporters of the state’s positive role. That’s why they have had so much trouble making the case for President Obama’s stimulus program passed by Congress in 2009. It ought to be perfectly obvious: When the private sector is no longer investing, the economy will spin downward unless the government takes on the task of investing. And such investments — in transportation and clean energy, refurbished schools and the education of the next generation — can prime future growth.

 

Yet the drumbeat of propaganda against government has made it impossible for the plain truth about the stimulus to break through. It was thus salutary that Douglas Elmendorf, the widely respected director of the Congressional Budget Office, told a congressional hearing last week that 80 percent of economic experts surveyed by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business agreed that the stimulus got the unemployment rate lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been otherwise. Only 4 percent disagreed. The stimulus, CBO concluded, added as many as 3.3 million jobs during the second quarter of 2010, and it may have kept us from lapsing back into recession.

 

So when conservatives say, as they regularly do, that “government doesn’t create jobs,” the riposte should be quick and emphatic: 'Yes it has, and yes, it does!'"

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Killing the European Project

"Suppose you consider Tsipras an incompetent twerp. Suppose you dearly want to see Syriza out of power. Suppose, even, that you welcome the prospect of pushing those annoying Greeks out of the euro. • Even if all of that is true, this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for. • Can anything pull Europe back from the brink? Word is that Mario Draghi is trying to reintroduce some sanity, that Hollande is finally showing a bit of the pushback against German morality-play economics that he so signally failed to supply in the past. But much of the damage has already been done. Who will ever trust Germany’s good intentions after this?
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Thomas Piketty: “Germany has never repaid.”

Thomas Piketty: “Germany has never repaid.” | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Piketty: Nonsense! This had nothing to do with moral clarity; it was a rational political and economic decision. They correctly recognized that, after large crises that created huge debt loads, at some point people need to look toward the future. We cannot demand that new generations must pay for decades for the mistakes of their parents. The Greeks have, without a doubt, made big mistakes. Until 2009, the government in Athens forged its books. But despite this, the younger generation of Greeks carries no more responsibility for the mistakes of its elders than the younger generation of Germans did in the 1950s and 1960s. We need to look ahead. Europe was founded on debt forgiveness and investment in the future. Not on the idea of endless penance. We need to remember this."
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Take a trip abroad, see the US in decline

Take a trip abroad, see the US in decline | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"FOREIGN TRAVEL is broadening, but not always in a positive way. For Americans it has an increasingly painful edge. Too often it leaves us with a disconcerting sense that our country is falling behind. In a world where competition comes increasingly from other countries, this bodes ill for our national future. • Last month I visited four countries that might seem to have little in common: Turkey, Iran, Germany, and the Netherlands. All four are intently focused on global competition. Countries like these will be eating America’s lunch in the future if we proceed as we are today. • Germany and the Netherlands have highly successful, innovation-based economies that live from exports. Turkey is laser-focused on its goal of becoming one of the world’s 10 richest countries within a decade. Iran has suffered under decades of economic sanctions but is a young and vibrant society, poised to join the world market with a vengeance if sanctions are eased — which may soon happen. • For Americans, traveling in these countries is sobering because it forces us to confront an unpleasant truth: An increasing number of nations do things better than we do. In an earlier age that might not have mattered because the United States commands such a huge land mass with such lavish resources, and because our political primacy was all but unchallenged. It matters now.
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Death Without Dignity

Death Without Dignity | Government for the People | Scoop.it

"'You’re losing me,' she had reminded us, 'but I’m losing all of you at once.' 

I made the appalling decision not to go back into her bedroom for another farewell. One by one we departed until just one friend remained with her when she slipped into a coma, late Sunday afternoon.

Only the home health aide was at her home at the time of her death on Monday morning.

If medical aid in dying had been legal, her doctor could have written the right prescription and allowed her to have the more graceful exit she wanted. Still, as imperfect as it was, we gave her a memorable send-off. At the very end, she was alone, as we are all in death, but right before that, she was in a circle of love. I believe she knew that. I have to.

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Bluff Called, Mitch McConnell Misplays His Hand in Phone Data Fight

Bluff Called, Mitch McConnell Misplays His Hand in Phone Data Fight | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"In the struggle over surveillance powers, the senator is finding that some of the new, ambitious conservatives do not adhere to the old rules of operating on Capitol Hill."
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Selling Off Apache Holy Land

Selling Off Apache Holy Land | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"What motivated Congress to give Oak Flat, a sacred Apache site, to a mining company that will certainly destroy it?"
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The New Dictators Rule by Velvet Fist

The New Dictators Rule by Velvet Fist | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Today’s dictators use propaganda, censorship and relatively little violence."
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A Victory for Pope Francis

"The beatification of an assassinated archbishop is an important marker in the routing of hard-line conservatives in the church."
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Greed and the Presidency

Greed and the Presidency | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Among 2016’s contenders, there’s a disturbing absence of economic humility." "They talk about their connection to “everyday Americans” (Hillary Clinton) and to laborers who “sweat through their clothes” (Huckabee) even as they reach for, and insist on, a much higher style. That’s partly why their words can ring so pat, so hollow. It’s one explanation for voters’ cynicism. • While we in the news media have long wrung our hands about the ways in which campaign financing warps the political process, what about the ways in which politicians’ frenzied competition for donations warps their views of the world? They now spend so much time among the country’s plutocrats, sowing friendship wherever the funds are, that their bearings and their yardsticks surely change, as must their sense of their station. • I’m sure the Clintons don’t feel as fabulously rich as they’ve become — Bill alone made $104.9 million in speaking fees between January 2001 and January 2013 — because they needn’t look more than a few feet in any direction to spot someone with 10 times their net worth. At the pinnacles of power, there are mountains of money, and it’s easy for a politician to wonder why it belongs to people no brighter than he or she is. It’s just as easy to feel entitled to some of it."
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Accused of Spying for China, Until She Wasn’t

Accused of Spying for China, Until She Wasn’t | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"A National Weather Service flood forecaster in Ohio faced federal economic espionage charges, until her case was dropped as abruptly as it had upended her life."
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Air Ambulances Offer a Lifeline, and Then a Sky-High Bill

Air Ambulances Offer a Lifeline, and Then a Sky-High Bill | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Squeezed by competition and insurance cuts, air ambulance companies are increasingly pressing patients to make up sometimes sizable shortfalls." • "Air Methods has been at the forefront of the expansion, earning a sevenfold increase in profit over the last 10 years. By its own calculations, Air Methods accounts for nearly 30 percent of all air ambulance revenue in the country. • Using numbers in the company’s financial filings, Jonathan Hanlon, founder of Research 360, a firm that analyzes companies, calculated that Air Methods’ average bill in 2014 was $40,766, compared with roughly $17,262 five years earlier. A law that deregulated the airline industry in the 1970s has prevented states from capping the amount air ambulances can charge."
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Admitted to Your Bedroom: Some Hospitals Try Treating Patients at Home

Admitted to Your Bedroom: Some Hospitals Try Treating Patients at Home | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Under pressure to reduce costs and improve quality, a handful of health care systems are hospitalizing patients in their homes."
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The decline of US power?

The decline of US power? | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Victory in the Cold War made it the hegemon in a unipolar world. • Few argued when the 20th Century was dubbed the 'American Century', a term first coined in the early 1940s when the country was still overcoming its isolationist instincts. • Even the New Year's fireworks, which illuminated the obelisk of the Washington Monument in a way that made it resemble a giant number one, projected the country's supremacy as the world's sole superpower. • Over the past 15 years, America's fortunes have changed with dizzying speed. • First came the tremors: the dot-com bust and a disputed presidential election in 2000. Then came the massive convulsions: the destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. • Long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have exacted an enormous blood price - the lives of 6,852 American military personnel - not to mention immense financial expense, estimated to be as high as $6 trillion (£3.9tn). • The detention centre at Guantanamo Bay has undermined American ideals, just as the NSA and Wikileaks spying scandals have undercut American diplomacy."
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Billionaires to the Barricades

"EARLIER this month, when the billionaire merchandising mogul Johann Rupert gave a speech at The Financial Times’s “luxury summit” in Monaco, he sounded more like a Marxist theoretician than someone who made his fortune selling Cartier diamonds and Montblanc pens. Appearing before a crowd of executives from Fendi and Ferrari, Mr. Rupert argued that it wasn’t right — or even good business — for “the 0.1 percent of the 0.1 percent” to raid the world’s spoils. “It’s unfair and it is not sustainable,” he said. • For several years now, populist politicians and liberal intellectuals have been inveighing against income inequality, an issue that is gaining traction among the broader body politic, as shown by a recent New York Times/CBS News poll that found that nearly 60 percent of American voters want their government to do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. But in the last several months, this topic has been taken up by a different and unlikely group of advocates: a small but vocal band of billionaires."
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It’s Not Just About Bad Choices

It’s Not Just About Bad Choices | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Bad choices compound poverty, but society contributes, too." "Here in Baltimore, I consulted Andrew Jackson Phillips Jr., 28, who’s been homeless for the last eight years or so, and he thinks that there is something to the personal responsibility narrative. • 'I had multiple chances,' he acknowledged. 'I made some bad choices' — although he added that he thought 'the system' had failed him as well. I asked about his childhood. • Phillips said that his mother had been a drug addict and that he may have been born with drugs in his system. His siblings had had acute lead poisoning, and he may have had toxic lead levels as well, with lifelong cognitive and behavioral consequences. At age 3, Phillips said he saw his brother shot dead. At age 5, he himself was shot in the head by a drug dealer (he showed me the scar). In the eighth grade, he dropped out of school. • Sure, he made bad choices. Who among us, after going through his traumatic childhood, could be sure of making optimal choices?"
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Benefits Grow for Public University Presidents, Survey Finds

"A report by The Chronicle of Higher Education found that most leaders received housing and cars, and some got perks like personal trainers."
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Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements.

Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements. | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"American tech workers in Orlando found their jobs and desks transferred to immigrants brought in under H-1B visas by an Indian firm." • "According to federal guidelines, the visas are intended for foreigners with advanced science or computer skills to fill discrete positions when American workers with those skills cannot be found. Their use, the guidelines say, should not “adversely affect the wages and working conditions” of Americans. Because of legal loopholes, however, in practice, companies do not have to recruit American workers first or guarantee that Americans will not be displaced. • Too often, critics say, the visas are being used to bring in immigrants to do the work of Americans for less money, with laid-off American workers having to train their replacements."
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Senator Elizabeth Warren Is Mad as Hell (Video)

Senator Elizabeth Warren Is Mad as Hell (Video) | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Americans need to get involved and stop the influence of big money in politics, the senator said."
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Bill Moyers: The Challenge of Journalism Is to Survive in the Pressure Cooker of Plutocracy

"In a new speech, Bill Moyers chronicles the struggle of today's journalists to report the truth despite dwindling resources and the opposition of the powerful." • "And what happens when PR turns a profit and truth goes penniless? One of my mentors told me that 'News is what people want to keep hidden, everything else is publicity.' So who will be left to report on what is happening in the statehouse or at the town hall? In the backrooms of Congress, the board rooms of banks and corporations, or even the open and shameless bazaar of K Street where the mercenaries of crony capitalism uncork bottles of champagne paid for by 'dark money' from oligarchs and PACs? What happens when our elections are insider-driven charades conducted for profit by professional operatives whose spending on advertising mainly enriches themselves and the cable and television stations in cahoots with them? We know the answer, we know that a shortage of substantial reporting means corruption remains hidden, candidates we know little about and even less about who is funding them and what policy outcomes they are buying. It also means even more terrifying possibilities. As Tom Stoppard writes in his play Night and Day, 'People do terrible things to each other, but it’s worse in the places where everybody is kept in the dark.' • A free press, you see, doesn’t operate for free at all. Fearless journalism requires a steady stream of independent income. Allow me to speak from personal experience. After I left government in 1967 — including a stint as White House press secretary — it took me a while to get my footing back in journalism. I can assure you: I found the job of trying to tell the truth about people whose job it is to hide the truth almost as complicated and difficult as trying to hide it in the first place. Unless you’re willing to fight and re-fight the same battles until you go blue in the face, drive the people you work for nuts going over every last detail again and again to make certain you’ve got it right, and then take hit after hit accusing you of 'bias,' there’s no use even trying. You have to love it, and I have. And still do."
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TPP On Trial

"he Democrats’ revolt against President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership has everything to do with the “giant sucking sound” of job loss echoing over Baltimore and St. Louis, Detroit and Gary… and still more to do with the inability of our own polarized and privatized society to repair the social contract at home. Only at the end of our untypically acrimonious hour did a moral come clear: the 30-year regime of expanding global trade could well founder for want of a firm public decision to share the pain and the profits in that transformation. The more we learn about TPP, the more it looks like a blunt instrument of the banking and corporate interests to protect their investments, and of Big Pharma, Hollywood and Info Tech to protect their “intellectual property” abroad. Enforceable compensations for workers and communities, here and there, would be nice, too.
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Weary of Relativity

Weary of Relativity | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Outrageous incomes? Obscene fund-raising? As long as you’re more awful, I’m O.K."
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As Middle Class Fades, So Does Use of Term on Campaign Trail

As Middle Class Fades, So Does Use of Term on Campaign Trail | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"A social strata that once signified a secure, aspirational lifestyle now connotes fears about falling behind, sociologists, economists and political scientists said."
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Conspiracy Theories Over Jade Helm Training Exercise Get Some Traction in Texas

Conspiracy Theories Over Jade Helm Training Exercise Get Some Traction in Texas | Government for the People | Scoop.it
DALLAS — The questions being raised by right-wing bloggers and conservative commentators about a Pentagon training exercise called Jade Helm 15 traverse the outer edges of political paranoia.

The eight-week exercise starting in July and planned for locations in Texas, New Mexico, California and other Southwestern states, they say, is part of a secret plan to impose martial law, take away people’s guns, arrest political undesirables, launch an Obama-led hostile takeover of red-state Texas, or do some combination thereof.

But when Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive to the Texas State Guard to keep watch over the military operation, seeming to give those concerns some official credence, it raised a more credible question: To what degree has the extreme become mainstream in Texas?

In his directive, issued last week to Maj. Gen. Gerald Betty, commander of the Guard, Mr. Abbott wrote that he wanted Jade Helm 15 monitored because it was “important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”
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Scott Walker’s Strength in Donors

Scott Walker’s Strength in Donors | Government for the People | Scoop.it
"Roughly half of the nation’s top 250 Republican donors have given money to Mr. Walker in his campaigns for Wisconsin governor."
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