Month: April, 2013
Labor Council and Plumbers’ Local in Gadsden, Alabama, Endorse HR 676
| April 21, 2013 | 10:36 pm | Action | No comments

On April 15, 2013, the Northeast Alabama Labor Council in Gadsden endorsed
HR 676, national single payer health care legislation sponsored by
Congressman John Conyers.

President Garry “Gabby” Frost brought the resolution before the council in
response to an appeal from the All Unions Committee for Single Payer
Health Care–HR 676 and from Pippa Abston, MD, Ph D, a board member of
Physicians for a National Health Program and a Huntsville, Alabama,
pediatrician.

“Health care is a necessity not a privilege,” said President Frost after
the adoption of the resolution for HR 676. “Everybody’s got to have it.
This is the only industrialized nation that does not have it.”

The Northeast Alabama Labor Council is the 145th Central Labor Council to
endorse HR 676. The council represents workers in nine counties, Calhoun,
Chambers, Cherokee, Cleburne, DeKalb, Etowah, Marshall, Randolph, and St.
Clair. The Southwest Alabama Labor Council in Mobile and the Alabama
State AFL-CIO had previously endorsed HR 676.

President Frost, who is the Business Manager of Local 498, United
Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, reports that Local 498 has also
endorsed HR 676. That brings the total of union organizations that have
endorsed HR 676 to 600.

Dr. Pippa Abston commented on the importance of these union endorsements
of HR 676. She said, “As an Alabama physician and Physicians for a
National Health Program board member, I am thrilled to hear this news!
Medicare for All is an achievable, practical way to address our healthcare
needs and would go a long way towards relieving our state’s constant
budget struggles. Thank you to our friends in Labor for helping bring HR
676 a step closer to success.”

HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a
greatly improved Medicare to everyone residing in the U. S.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including
prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and
preventive care, emergency services, dental (including oral surgery,
periodontics, endodontics), mental health, home health, physical therapy,
rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care and
correction, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable
medical equipment, palliative care, podiatric care, and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of
billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the
private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, HR 676 has 41 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 600 union organizations including 145 Central
Labor Councils/Area Labor Federations and 41 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT,
OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX,
IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, MT, NE, NJ, NY, NV, MA
& RI).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample
endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551

Email: nursenpo@aol.com
http://unionsforsinglepayer.org
4/21/13

on earth day
| April 21, 2013 | 9:48 pm | Action | No comments

for the dockworkers in hong kong, and the xl pipeline resistance

on earth day
the struggles
like the chains
link and we
search for the
ways to break
the chains of
slavery and
then to build
the chains
linking our fights
in solidarity
and victorious
harmony.

berkeley ca

gary hicks

Stockman’s Rant
| April 21, 2013 | 8:35 pm | Action | No comments

– from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

On the rare occasion, an article appears in the mainstream press that takes a deeper, more thoughtful view of human affairs, a document that gives a hint or glimpse of an unspoken truth beyond the pablum that occupies media puppets. Such an occasion was the publishing of The New York Times opinion piece entitled “State Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America” (3-31-2013) and authored by former Reaganite budget director, David Stockman.

Now Stockman is a renegade from corporate Republicanism; he actually believes in the ancient principles put forward by Adam Smith and other classical capitalist thinkers. While corporate Republicans cozy up to their party’s ugly, fascistic outliers, they always, in the end, make their bed with the rich and powerful. Stockman, on the other hand, actually embraces the mythical virtues of small business ownership and town hall democracy. In classical Marxist terms, he represents the ideology of the petite-bourgeoisie.

In the swamp occupied by Democratic and Republican politicos—the breeding ground for conventional politics—such views are unwelcome. Principled politics from the right or the left are alien equally to the snakes and the rats that prey on the cognitively weak and unwary.

Stockman is in a panic because he sees beyond the stock market euphoria and Pollyanna commentaries that have induced the mass delusions of the last several months. And what he sees angers him.

Stockman constructs an indictment, a list of charges against the current US economy: growth of output is woefully inadequate, jobs are both indecently scarce and low paying, the incomes and the net worth of “ordinary” citizens are dropping while poverty is on the rise. To anyone with a grip on reality, these are not signs of real economic recovery or systemic success. He notes that “we’ve had eight decades of increasingly frenetic fiscal and monetary policy activism intended to counter the cyclical bumps and grinds of the free market and its purported tendency to underproduce jobs and economic output. The toll has been heavy.” And yet imagine the toll if no remedial action had been taken! Surely, this unintended critique of eighty years of state-monopoly governance counts as a devastating charge against modern capitalism. If the era of state-monopoly capitalism can do no better than produce the sad state outlined by Stockman, it is decidedly a failure.

Stockman dares speak the truth so discomforting to liberals and social democrats: [World War II] “did far more to end the Depression than the New Deal did,” though he misleadingly praises the Eisenhower years for its “sound money and fiscal rectitude.” Perhaps he is too young to remember the massive increases in military spending, the ambitious interstate highway system, and the enormous growth of public spending brought on by the Cold War and the Sputnik panic. In any case, the dose of war socialism and the “frenetic… activism” of state-monopoly capitalism kept the capitalist ship afloat, though with fewer and fewer rewards for the majority of US citizens.

Stockman correctly sees that the remedies pursued by US state-monopoly capitalism directed more and more of the lubricant of public funds towards the financial sector over the last decades: the Greenspan “put,” the Long-Term Capital Management bailout, extended ultra-low interest rates, TARP, Fed purchases of bank junk, the support of federal bond prices, and support for equity markets. He calls this, not incorrectly, “Keynesianism—for the wealthy.”

And this is a salient point. It is commonplace to express the differences between Democratic and Republican policy makers since the Reagan era as pro- and anti-Keynesianism. But this is wrong. Ironically, it was only during the Clinton administration that growth of government spending was at all curtailed and today fiscal and monetary expansion remains a ready tool of the ruling class well after Reagan’s departure. Certainly Keynesian pump priming has taken new and evolving forms over decades: direct job creation, military spending, massive space programs, infrastructure projects, public-private partnerships, repair of financial institutions, and stimulation of financial demand. While one or the other may be the favored priming tool of rulers at any given time, the similarities of the forms are far more important to recognize than their differences. State intervention in markets continues to be at the core of contemporary state-monopoly capitalism. Stockman sees this; others don’t.

In Stockman’s account, the enabler of pump priming in all of its forms has been debt. Borrowing or printing money is the means to continue the regimen of “frenetic fiscal and monetary policy activism.” But, in his view, this regimen is running out of steam. “The future is bleak.” And the “Fed has incited a global currency war (Japan just signed up, the Brazilians and Chinese are angry, and the German dominated euro zone is crumbling) that will soon overwhelm it…”

A bleak picture indeed, but one entrenched in reality.

So if modern capitalism– in its state-monopoly form– is a disaster, does that mean that Stockman advocates socialism?

Definitely not. Instead he holds out for a nostalgic return to the gold standard. Avoiding what he calls “end-state metastasis,” “would necessitate a sweeping divorce of the state and the market economy [the wholesale rejection of state-monopoly capitalism! ZZ]. It would require a renunciation of crony capitalism and its first cousin: Keynesian economics in all its forms. The state would have to get out of the business of imperial hubris, economic uplift and social insurance and shift its focus to managing and financing an effective, affordable, means-tested safety net.”

In short, Stockman advocates going back to a conjured idyllic time before state-monopoly capitalism, a time imagined by the petite-bourgeoisie as one of healthy competition, entrepreneurship, and opportunity. For him, the golden age of capitalism would be the pre-depression era of small town USA, family farms, vibrant and expansive industry and foreign policy isolationism. Of course any pretense of continuity or viability of that era was dashed by the Great Depression. In fact, the policies decried by Stockman (and associated by Marxists with state-monopoly capitalism) served as a temporary backstop to the further contraction of the capitalist system produced by that fantastic era.

Stockman may wish for a return to an earlier time just as others may wish to time travel back to the court of Louis XIV, but it isn’t going to happen. Capitalism, like any organism, has its own life span, its own history. Saved from a critical illness, capitalism passed from its laissez faire period to a period of intensifying state intervention and management. Today, that phase of capitalism’s development—state-monopoly capitalism– is also threatened with a critical illness. I would not be so bold as to predict capitalism’s imminent death, but certainly it will not be revived by reliving its past as Stockman fantasizes.

At a time when liberals and conservatives argue pathetically over the right mix of austerity and stimulus, Stockman is a welcome mainstream herald of the profound crisis pummeling global capitalism. His anxiety and anger reflect a deeper understanding of the contradictions of the moment. His rant, spiked with sarcasm and vitriol, stands in stark relief against the smugness of the lap dog punditry.

Krugman Strides into the Ring

The Stockman screed generated a storm of opposition. Liberals and the fuzzy, mushy left were particularly affronted. Unlike Stockman, they would like to only turn the clock back to the early seventies, another supposedly “idyllic” time when business unionism was generating satisfactory contracts, the “Great Society” programs were blooming, and war in Vietnam was winding down (at least for US combatants). The fruits of the civil rights struggles and urban uprisings were realized in the creation of programs, bureaucracies, and other buffering agents against domestic insurgency. Jobs servicing the Great Society generated a stratum of social liberals who matured into the base of a social democratic left inside and outside of the Democratic Party. For them, the world turned evil and foreboding with the Reagan “revolution,” a movement they characterize as neo-liberalism.

In the dust-up with Stockman, Paul Krugman, columnist for The New York Times, assumed the role of savior and protector of their interests and perspective. Krugman, the darling of the “respectable” left, attacked Stockman for his audacious critique of the track record of state intervention in the capitalist economy. Anyone who follows Krugman knows that his response to the crisis is a simple solution: spend more public funds and spend freely until growth perks up. The soft left finds this an agreeable solution because it promises to save capitalism (and forestall socialism!) while creating a potential material basis for pet welfare programs. It is simply the fantasy of another New Deal. And never mind that Krugman doesn’t share the fantasy!

Apparently, the Stockman-Krugman battle merited a major media appearance before the Sunday morning gasbags, the big stage for what our media passes off as intellectual fare. While I lacked the stomach to watch the sparring between the two, refereed by the likes of Huffington, van Sustern, and Will, I would commend an entertaining account of the match by Mike Whitney in Counterpunch (Krugman vs. Stockman, April 11, 2013).

The merit of Stockman’s account is that he is righteously indignant with an economic system that has failed the great majority of people and inflicted great pain and uncertainty. He goes beyond the dominant rhetoric of “we are all in this together” and “we are all at fault” to find systemic rot in capitalism. He correctly places the blame for this at the doorstep of state-monopoly capitalism, the stage of capitalism evolved to rescue the system from the accumulated contradictions of laissez faire capitalism, contradictions brought to light by the Great Depression. But he cannot go where logic would take him. He cannot entertain options that would transcend capitalism. Thus, he is resigned to a pathetic nostalgia for a bygone era where the contradictions of capitalism did not appear in such sharp focus. While he stretches the bounds of mainstream thinking, he can not see beyond markets and private ownership; he cannot see socialism.

Krugman and most of the US left are thoroughly conventional in their thinking—they offer a more “enlightened” management of the economic system and a cheerful capitalism with a human face. They would be hard pressed to point to a period when capitalism bore a human face, however. Nonetheless, they are undaunted before a rising tide of interest in the socialist option. They are resolute in their fear and rejection of real socialism.

Pressured by five years of relentless economic crisis and increasing signs of favor towards socialism, especially with the young, our feckless left offers a cold plate of empty slogans of localism, anti-consumerism, platitudinous “participatory” democracy, cooperatives, and a vacuous “new” economy. As if these are answers to the $17 trillion dollar US multinational, monopoly capital behemoth. In truth, these are simply evasions and dissemblance.

If Stockton is right and capitalism is “state-wrecked,” then its time to leave the wreckage and turn to socialism.

Zoltan Zigedy

zoltanzigedy@gmail.com

Article on the elections in Venezuela
| April 18, 2013 | 10:32 pm | Action | No comments

Check out this link to an interesting article on the Venezuelan elections:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/dan-kovalik/us-must-recognize-venezuela_b_3103540.html

Video of Gerrard Sables, Communist Party candidate
| April 18, 2013 | 8:18 pm | Action | No comments

Check out this YouTube video of Gerrard Sables, member of the Communist Party of Britain, and candidate for public office in North Devon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha2CypO0Y64&feature=youtu.be

A Bed At The Ritz
| April 17, 2013 | 9:43 pm | Action | No comments

Empire’s half-mast flag unfurls
Requiems tweet from ex-Spice Girls
Iron handbag, twin-set and pearls
Found dead in a bed at The Ritz

Cruel Britannia’s buccaneer
Brass-balled female anti-Greer
Cause of Ben bloody Elton’s career
Found dead in a bed at The Ritz

Sybil-out-of-Fawlty-Towers-hair
Steel clad belief in laissez-faire
The midwife that gave birth to Blair
Now dead in a bed at The Ritz

Lovelorn acolytes sadly weep
Cue phony Tony so skin-deep
“Hey – she was the people’s Meryl Streep”
Dead in a bed at The Ritz

Cold pre-packaged grocer’s daughter
Leading England’s lambs to slaughter
Ordained divine at Mammon’s altar
Dead in a bed at The Ritz

Boudicca of entente cordiale
The Tory gentleman’s femme fatale
Mandela’s foe and Pinochet’s pal
Dead in a bed at The Ritz

Fed the rich their daily focaccia
Spawned men of Jeffrey Archer’s stature
Besmirched the honest trade of thatcher
Dead in a bed at The Ritz

Here lies a shattered miner’s lamp
Factories choked down in black damp
Belgrano ghosts still slowly stamp
Round and round a bed at The Ritz

You can pray Charon rows her to hell
“Tramp the dirt down”, sound a futile knell
But all her dreams are alive and well
And living it up at The Ritz

Money shouts – just listen to the noise
Material Girls and City Boys
Ruthless Little Lord Fauntleroys
Even now they’re putting on The Ritz

Public service sold for private wealth
Community and kindness killed by stealth
Compassion, care and national health
Dying in a sick-bed far from The Ritz

Put inequality to the sword
Give each one of us our just reward
And then one day we all might afford To pay for a bed at The Ritz

by elvis mcgonagall, april 2013

Interview with Gloria La Riva on Cuban elections
| April 17, 2013 | 9:32 pm | Action | No comments

Here is an interesting interview with Gloria La Riva conducted by Ernesto Aguilar:

http://www.liberationradio.org/extended-interviews/2013-02-11-cuban-elections-extended.html