Thursday, October 28, 2010

Check out the new

Welcome to the new A fresh look and easier to use tools will make our presentation of working class ideas, culture and politics exciting every day.

There are four basic sections on this site.

  1. Each month we will present in our "Features" section the monthly issue, which includes articles and other content that represent the core theoretical mission of this online publication. 
  2. The "What's New" section are the latest updates and analysis on major events, cultural happenings, and other issues of the day. 
  3. The "Editors' Blog" section hosts the ramblings and opinions of PA editors and friends.
  4. And, fourth, the "Podcast" section will feature the latest audio recordings of interviews with activists and others.

In the near future, readers will be able to use and share educational tools in various multimedia formats. So look for that content soon.

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Capitalism sucks unless you are very, very rich

By Joe Sims

This article originally appeared at, October 27, 2010.

Capitalism sucks, unless you are one of the 74 wealthiest Americans who made profits five times bigger than the previous year, while most working-class people were catching hell in the Great Recession.

If you are one of the gilded Americans whose earnings were more than $50 million a piece last year, you actually saw your average income "skyrocket from $91.8 million in 2008 to a mind-boggling $518.8 million in 2009."

These guys - the group of 74 - made more than the combined total of the 19 million lowest paid workers in the country.

These findings and more are based on statistics recently released by the Social Security Administration and analysed almost exclusively by David Kay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize winning former New York Times reporter.

At the height of the election campaign, it's a surprise, even startling, that the media has said scarcely a word about this.

Johnston comments, "Not a single news organization reported this data when it was released October 15, searches of Google and the Nexis databases show" - a curious silence indeed given the debate in Congress on extension of the Bush tax cuts.

The superprofits raked in by the 74 added up to a combined $38.4 billion in 2009, up from $11.9 billion earned by 131 individuals with wages above $50 million in 2008, according to Social Security Administration data, writes Bloomberg news.

Keep in mind, the data, based on Medicare payments only, pertains only to wages and salaries and not investment income.

While the rich are growing fabulously richer - a fivefold increase in fact - wages for most of us fell, Johnston points out. Equally significant, he says, "Every 34th wage earner in America in 2008 went all of 2009 without earning a single dollar."

This massive transfer of wealth, he contends, began in 1981 when there was "an abrupt change in tax and economic policy. Since then the base has fared poorly while huge economic gains piled up at the very top, along with much lower tax burdens."

Thus it was Reaganism and GOP policy that set these forces in motion, a process that has had a devastating impact on the working class both economically and ideologically. "This systematic destruction of the working class and middle class has come during an era notable for celebrating the super-rich just for being super-rich," Johnston writes. "From the Forbes 400 launch in 1982 and Robin Leach's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" in 1984 to the faux reality of the multiplying "Real Housewives" shows, money voyeurism has grown in tandem with stagnant to falling incomes for the vast majority. There has also been huge income growth at the top and the economic children of income inequality: budget deficits and malign neglect of our commonwealth."

It was hoped that the Obama election two years ago signaled the end of that era of unprecedented capital accumulation that resulted in the Great Recession. That is precisely what's at stake next Tuesday.

The peoplesworld is part of the independent and free press tradition in the U.S.A. We are funded exclusively by our subscribers and supporters — no corporate money.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Obama Rejects Tax Cuts for the Rich, Calls for Big Oil to Pay Fair Share

by Joel Wendland
This article originally appeared at, Sept. 9, 2010

The President came out swinging in a major economic policy speech in Cleveland, Sept. 8, against Republican Party obstructionism on economic recovery. He flatly rejected GOP plan's to give mammoth new tax cuts to the richest Americans and accused its leaders of pushing the "same philosophy that was tried for the last decade which led to the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression: tax cuts for millionaires, cut rules for corporations, and leave the middle class to fend for itself."

Instead, President Obama called for a new package of tax cuts for working families, tax credits for businesses to purchase new equipment and for research and development, and infrastructure projects to spur job growth.

To pay for these proposals, administration officials told reporters the President wants to close tax loopholes for big oil companies and other companies that move jobs out of the country.

President Obama said he favors extending tax cuts for Americans earning $250,000 or less, while letting the Bush tax cuts for the very richest Americans sunset.

"We are ready, this week, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less," the President said. "For any income over this amount, the tax rates would go back to what they were under President Clinton."

He rejected Republican claims that this move would be bad for the economy, citing the high deficit. "We can’t afford the $700 billion price tag [for tax cuts for the rich]." He also recalled that with a similar tax code in place in the 1990s, the U.S. economy created 22 million jobs.

When the economic crisis began, President Obama said, "My hope was that the crisis would cause everyone, Democrats and Republicans, to pull together and tackle our problems in a practical way. "

"But as we all know, things didn’t work out that way," he said. Ideological and partisan considerations caused "[s]ome Republican leaders [to figure] it was smart politics to sit on the sidelines and let Democrats solve the mess."

House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner, R, Ohio, offered his party's views on the economy late last month, but, the President said, they were awfully familiar.

"There were no new policies from Mr. Boehner," he explained. "There were no new ideas. There was just the same philosophy we already tried for the last decade – the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place."

Instead Republicans want to scale back the major accomplishments of the past year and a half. They want to allow health insurance companies to once again deny care for people who are sick and allow the credit card companies to raise interest rates unfettered, Obama pointed out. Republicans want to privatize Social Security and voted against family tax credits for higher education.

Indeed, the President continued, Republicans have kept tax loopholes for corporations that move jobs out of the country. "For years, Republicans have fought to keep these corporate loopholes open," he said.

"In fact, when Mr. Boehner was here in Cleveland he attacked us for closing a few of these loopholes – and using the money to help states like Ohio keep hundreds of thousands of teachers and cops and firefighters on the job," the President noted.

Referring to the jobs bill passed by Congress last month, President Obama explained that the closed tax loopholes will help pay to keep teachers in schools, cops on the beat, and firefighters protecting our families.

But Boehner "dismissed these jobs … as quote 'government jobs' – jobs that I guess he thought just weren’t worth saving," President Obama added.

"Mr. Boehner and the Republicans in Congress said no to these projects. Fought them tooth and nail," Obama emphasized.

"Though I should say that didn’t stop a lot of them from showing up at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and trying to take credit," he said, referring to to the fact that numerous Republicans who voted against the recovery act have claimed credit for money brought to their home districts. "That’s always a sight to see."

Republican obstructionism and hypocrisy earned additional fire from White House Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer who told reporters by a teleconference with the press, Sept. 8, Boehner and the Republicans want to return to the same policies that caused the crisis and hurt America's working families in the first place.

"We know the policies that Leader Boehner and the Republicans are advocating," Pfeiffer said, citing the huge deficits, the financial meltdown, and jobs crisis. "We know what they'll do. We're still reaping the consequences of that."

Deputy Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Jason Furman touted the Obama administration's accomplishments in the economy. In addition to the recovery act, President Obama's legislative accomplishments include the "cash for clunkers" program, extension of the homebuyer tax credit, tax credits for businesses to hire unemployed workers and those involved in infrastructure projects, and the passage of the new jobs bill last month.

Furman also noted that new tax credits the President has proposed would be designed to benefit companies who do research and development here in the U.S. He added that the President wants to pay for new tax credits and infrastructure projects by ending massive government tax subsidies for the biggest oil companies.

"The big oil companies actually pay lower tax rates on their profits than most other corporations in the economy," he said. "Get rid of those tax breaks so the big oil companies are being treated just the same as every other corporation when it comes to taxes."

Furman added that new revenue could be created by closing some 350 remaining loopholes that still provide incentives for companies who move their profits, investments and jobs out of the country.

Monday, October 4, 2010

One nation working together

Here is the New York Times coverage:

WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of union members, environmentalists and peace activists rallied at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, seeking to carry on the message of jobs and justice that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. trumpeted at a rally at the same site 47 years ago.

More than 300 groups organized Saturday’s march on Washington to build momentum for progressive causes.

A spirited crowd spread out along both sides of the reflecting pool.

More than 300 groups organized Saturday’s march to build momentum for progressive causes like increased job-creation programs and to mobilize liberal voters to flock to the polls next month.

The rally’s sponsors, including the N.A.A.C.P., the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the Sierra Club and the National Council of La Raza, said they also hoped to demonstrate that they, not the Tea Party, represented the nation’s majority.

Organizers called the march “One Nation Working Together,” saying they hoped it would be an answer and antidote to what they called the divisiveness of the Tea Party.
 Read the whole article here

Saturday, October 2, 2010

President Chavez announce support for Correa presidency

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Ministry of People’s Power of Foreign Affairs

Only minutes ago, President Hugo Chávez Frías spoke to President Rafael Correa, who finds himself detained in the National Police Hospital in Quito.

President Correa confirmed that there was an attempted coup in progress, evidenced by the insubordination of a segment of the National Police to government authorities and laws.

President Hugo Chávez expressed his support for the constitutional president of Venezuela’s sister Republic of Ecuador, and in the name of the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas condemned the attacks against the Constitution and people of Ecuador.

The Government o f the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its confidence that President Rafael Correa and the people of Ecuador will defeat this coup attempt and that together the people of Latin America and the Caribbean will remain alert, accompanying Ecuador in solidarity in this historic moment.

Caracas, September 30, 2010

A Saturday for Peace and Social Justice

by Norman Markowitz

Trade Unionists, civil rights and peace activists, will demonstrate in Washington today for peace and social justice--for an end to the war in Afghanistan and an end to social neglect and disrespect of labor, the cities, the poor, the majority of people who make up the people of the United States.  This rally is not against the Obama administration but an attempt to move it in the direction that  the great majority of the people who voted for  support.  It is an answer to the Tea Party demagoguery. 
Demonstration are never ends in themselves.  Regardless of the numbers who come, it is important that this demonstration be a beginning  not an end.
Forty seven years ago the National March on Washington took place, the most significant national demonstration in U.S. history.  That demonstration sought to rally support for both pending civil rights legislation but also(as it is often forgotten) jobs and social justice everywhere, an end not only to the brutal system of segregation  in the  South which was supported by police terror which the whole world had seen in Birmingham on U.S. Television and read about in bombings and murders through the South but also about discrimination, poverty and inequality in the North and through the country.  The peace that was at the core of Martin Luther King's dream was "positive peace," peace with social justice, peace without poverty because, as the man whose tactics most inspired King, Mohandas K. Gandhi, once said, poverty produces the greatest violence.
The Vietnam War was not the issue that it would become the following year, and the young President had not yet delivered on what those who voted for ;him hoped he would carry forward.
Today, the war in Afghanistan, a different war against a very different enemy but a distraction and a developing disaster for the administration is a major issue.  Obama as I see it is much better today than John F. Kennedy was in 1963--he is not a cold warrior engaging in the old politics while he talked of a new frontier.  But he faces what has been over thirty years of reaction and also a Republican opposition that is much much more a party of the right and the ultra right than it was in 1963.  There are no Senators like Jacob Javits of New York, Clifford Case of New Jersey or Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, among others in the Republican party today.  Nelson Rockefeller was regarded as a "crypto-Communist" by right wing crazies in 1963.  Today those right wing crazies are largely in control of the GOP and even have their own network, Fox News, to promulgate their world view.
The March on Washington helped usher in a bold shift in domestic policy--not by Kennedy who was of course assassinated, but by Lyndon Johnson, who articulated many of the demonstrators aspirations in his call for a Great Society and an "unconditional" War on Poverty in 1964 and his successful push to enact Civil Rights and social legislation to advance those goals.  That program, along with justified fears among voters that his right wing Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, would engage in policies that would escalate the cold war with the Soviet Union into a much greater conflict--possibly a nuclear war--led  to a sweeping repudiation of the political right in the 1964  elections and the enactment of new civil rights and social legislation, a second wave of progressive legislation which Johnson's Vietnam War escalation, divisions among progressive forces,and a racist backlash stalemated.
Obama has Kennedy eloquence without Johnson's cold war baggage.  But he faces a racist backlash which increasingly is not so subtle and the war in Afghanistan is, along with the frustrations developing from the compromises that he has accepted with corporate and especially finance capital on domestic policy.
But I and I hope we are not anarchists or in the ultra-left tradition that always says "the worse the better."  I don't believe that a righwing Republican victory and a third wave of Reaganism will create such a disaster as to strengthen left forces to the point that the whole system will change  or even be overthrown.  I don't believe attacking Obama and attacking those on the left who continue to defend what his administration is trying to do is anything more in this context than what Communists sometimes said of their Trotskyists and other ultra-left opponents who made similar attacks on them for supporting the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s--that is, the ultra-left was engaging in "intellectual masturbation" with no possibility of reaching masses of people to consummate anything.
President Obama will hopefully see this demonstration as a mobilization for what he ran on--change we can believe in."  He can and must pick up the ball that the people have handed him and run with it in the next month, signaling progressives that he will de-escalate the conflict in Afghanistan and push legislation to "bailout the people" in the next Congress, if the people give him the votes to do so.T
The demonstration itself will hopefully encourage mobilization against the Republican right, immediately in the elections and then on an ongoing basis.   This is the only realistic and responsible program for progressive in the present moment.