LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE, AFFIRMATIVE GOVERNMENT NEWSLETTER, #2, February 8, 2015
Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology.
(#1 March 1, 2014)
What’s at stake: “The game is rigged,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said at last week’s New Populism Conference. “We can whine about it. We can whimper. Or we can fight back. Me? I’m fighting back.”
“Build for Rising Seas, Obama Tells Agencies.”
“… we will champion the key values of progressivism: civil liberties, civil rights, economic justice, peace, and a clean environment.” And “we will expose the corporate groups taking over our politics.” In an undated letter from The Progressive, Inc. (publishing The Progressive Magazine).
Thumbnail history: Early 20th century “populism” and “progressive” movements evolved into “liberal,” which is presently also being called “progressive.” This second newsletter on populism, progressive, liberal focuses on economic justice, FDR’s “freedom from want.” But in several places we are reminded of the diverse values designated by the terms. For example, The Progressive Magazine reminds us that the oldest tradition of progressivism embraces peace, that is, anti-war, in strong contrast to the imperialism of post-WWII, Cold War liberal USA and its over forty illegal, unnecessary, and lethal invasions and interventions abroad, so well itemized by William Blum and satirized by Dr. Strangelove. The Feb. 2015 cover of The Progressive boldly announces its commitment to “racial justice,” and inside the magazine declares: “The Progressive tackles the forces distorting our economy, corrupting our democracy, and imperiling our planet. Our reporting and analysis take on the modern-day robber barons, and champion peace, civil liberties, equality, and justice.” --Dick
War Department/Peace Department
See: Capitalism, Democratic Party, Liberal, Occupy, Populism, Progressive, Republic Party,
See at end for #1.
Contents of Liberal, Progressive, Affirmative Government Newsletter #2
Range of Application of “Progressive” Label
Kaye, The Fight for the Four Freedoms, on C-Span: Freedom of Expression and
Religion, Freedom from Want and Fear
Religion, Freedom from Want and Fear
ProgressivesUnited: Pledge and Petition
Eskow: Elizabeth Warren
Progressive/Liberal (Affirmative) Government
Sainsbury, New Political Economy (Economic and Social Justice)
Obama Orders Federal Agencies to Follow Science-Based Standards Against Rising Seas Examples of Need for Affirmative Government vs. Fear and Want
NationofChange vs Corporate Greed
Sarich, Unregulated Corporations vs the People
Covert, Recession = Corporate Profits and Reduced Wages
Ecowatch, Safety from Harmful Products
Hamby, Government Protecting Miners
Thwarted at National Level, Turn to Grassroots for Progressive Change?
Goldberg, The Progressive City, Build Progressivism from the Cities
Dick,: A Note on Local vs. Global: Goldberg’s Focus on Affirmative City Government
and Kaye’s on Affirmative National Government
and Kaye’s on Affirmative National Government
What “Progressive” Is Not and Is in Economics: Joseph Stiglitz
Interview by Bill Moyers
Analysis: Stiglitz’ Seven Proposals
What “Progressive” is Not
More on Economics: Madrick, Seven Bad Ideas
Ralph Nader, Unstoppable, Finding Common Ground
Books Reviewed in These Two Newsletters
RANGE OF APPLICATION OF THE LABELS
Book Discussion on
Harvey Kaye talked about his book, , in which he recalls President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s public acknowledgement on January 6, 1941, of “four freedoms” with which all people should be entrusted, including freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear [Eleanor referred to them as the “four equalities,”]. The author talked about the progressivism of the Roosevelt-era and argued that a reminder of the “four freedoms” could address today’s political and social issues. Harvey Kaye spoke at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
PLEDGE AND PETITION FROM ProgressivesUnitedPAC
8,673 grassroots progressives
We need your help today so we can deliver this to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.
Over 11,300 of your fellow progressives have signed on to send a message to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell: close foreign profits loopholes and reinvest back home.
Huge corporations like Microsoft, General Electric, and others keep over $2 trillion outside the country to avoid paying taxes. President Obama has a new plan that would close the foreign profits loopholes and invest hundreds of billions of dollars in American infrastructure projects that benefit everyone.
We will deliver our petition to Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell once a full 20,000 grassroots progressives sign on.
So join over 11,300 fellow progressives who have already signed the petition and help reach 20,000 so we can deliver the message to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell: it's time to close corporations' foreign profits loopholes.
President Obama is committed to solving this economic problem, but we know congressional Republicans are committed to serving their own interests and the interests of corporations who fund their campaigns. They try not to listen, so we have to make them.
Thank you for uniting as a progressive,
David Sainsbury, Op-Ed, NationofChange, March 9, 2014: In an article in Foreign Affairs entitled “The Future of History,” Francis Fukuyama pointed out that, despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of support for left-wing political parties.
The Rise of the Progressive City
With liberal hopes dashed in
energy is gathering in cities, where social change is actually possible. Washington
April 2, 2014 | This article appeared in the April 21, 2014 edition of The Nation. [With the title, “Power to the City.” --Dick]
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio center, speaks during a panel discussion about the issues facing the nation's big cities while Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed right, and former Obama advisor and moderator of the discussion David Axlerod look on in Chicago, Thursday, March, 6, 2014 (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
As the gears of federal government have ground to a halt, a new energy has been rocking the foundations of our urban centers. From
points in between, cities have begun seizing the initiative, transforming
themselves into laboratories for progressive innovation. Cities Rising is The
Nation’s chronicle of those
urban experiments. Seattle
* * *
The Bush years were grim for progressives, but they did offer one small consolation: the hope that if only a smart and decent person could ascend to the White House, our politics could be repaired. Now, after years of destructive austerity and hopeless stalemate, that faith is dead. People on the left will debate where to lay the blame, but few will disagree that our federal institutions seem utterly unequal to the challenges of a country still reeling from economic crisis.
Indeed, our national politics are so deformed that it’s hard even to imagine the steps necessary to fix things. Last year, The Boston Globe ran an award-winning series, “
about the entropy in .
The final piece noted that potential remedies for the country’s problems are
met with “almost complete indifference in Washington , the world’s capital of gridlock,
even when alternative, perhaps better, ways are already at work, some in plain
At the city level, though, things are very different. Among those who study urban governance and those who practice it, there’s an extraordinary sense of political excitement. An outpouring of books like If Mayors Ruled the World, Triumph of the City and The Metropolitan Revolutionhymns urban dynamism. Not all the new urban optimists are on the left, but that’s where most of the energy is. With the federal government frozen, cities are seizing the initiative and becoming laboratories for progressive policy innovation. Amid widespread despair about national politics, cities have become new sources of hope.
“It’s a movement that reflects the paralyzed nature of the political system in
right now and the polarization of
the political process,” says Neal Peirce, editor of Citiscope, an online
magazine about cities that launched earlier this year. “On the local level, you
can have these arguments without getting as much into partisan politics. At the
same time, we’re having much more discussion about income inequality.” The result is a raft of
local legislation intended to address problems that national politicians have
let fester. “It’s quite a shift,” says Peirce. “It’s grown dramatically in the
last year or so.” Washington
There’s little chance, for example, that Congress will give us a living-wage law anytime soon, but the city of
SeaTac in Washington
State just raised its minimum wage to
an unprecedented $15 an hour, and is considering a proposal to mandate a $15.37
minimum for workers at big hotels. Los
Angeles has adopted near-universal health coverage,
including a program for the uninsured that functions like the “public option”
left out of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The federal government has
done disgracefully little about the collapse of the housing market, but San
is pushing a bold, controversial plan to take over underwater mortgages through
the use of eminent domain. Obama’s proposal for universal pre-K, first made in
last year’s State of the Union address, may not go anywhere, but New York City
Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised to bring it to the country’s largest city,
and both Richmond, California San Antonio and have approved sales tax increases to
pay for their own expanded preschool programs. Denver
With a group of new, progressive mayors in office this year, the era of big-city liberalism has just begun. In addition to de Blasio, there’s
Boston’s Marty Walsh, Minneapolis’s
Betsy Hodges and ’s
Ed Murray, who wants to bring the $15 minimum wage to his city. Cities have the
said in his State of the City address in February, to lead on “disparity in pay
and in housing, in urban policing, on the environment and providing universal
pre-K.” Quoting Franklin Delano
Roosevelt, he called for “bold, persistent experimentation…. It is common
sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try
another. But above all, try something.”
THWARTED ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL, SHOULD WE TURN LOCAL?
The essay by Michelle Goldberg, “Power to the City,” The Nation (April 21, 2014) supports a local focus. She offers a progressive case for “going local,” since “our national politics are so deformed,” while throughout the nation “cities are seizing the initiative and becoming laboratories for progressive policy innovation.” But if our talent turns to local, avoidance and neglect will surely worsen our national/international deformations, from unemployment and abusive criminal justice at home to illegal invasion and torture abroad. Our leaders need constant pressure from the grassroots on specific international and national issues and to remind them the USA is supposed to be a democracy. Countless histories of democratic nations show the crucial importance of public engagement in national politics, if corruption and tyranny are to be avoided, as Kaye’s account of the rise of FDR’s New Deal demonstrates. If democracy at home and international generosity abroad are turned into plutocracy and empire, because the people abandoned the struggle and turned to cultivating their local gardens, they must share the blame. –Dick]
WHAT PROGRESSIVE IS NOT AND IS IN ECONOMICS: JOSEPH STIGLITZ INTERVIEWED BY BILL MOYERS
MOYERS & CO., AETN, AUGUST 24
Encore: Joseph E. Stiglitz Calls for Fair Taxes for All
August 21, 2014 | Moyers & Company
The Nobel Prize-winning economist explains why America’s future prosperity depends on tax reform today.
President Obama, if you seriously care about THE PEOPLE of USA, appoint Stiglitz as your economic advisor, listen to his analysis and advice, and follow them. His analysis simple, straightforward, coherent—the self-reinforcing circular movement of money and power in a plutocracy: The corporations buy control of Congress to enable them to dodge taxes, make enormous profits, and buy Congress. All explained in his new pamphlet “Reforming Taxation to Promote Equity.”
MOYERS & CO., AETN, AUGUST 31
Encore: How Tax Reform Can Save the Middle Class
August 28, 2014 | Moyers & Company
In part two of his interview, Joseph E. Stiglitz says corporate abuse of our tax system has helped make America unequal and undemocratic. But the Nobel Prize-winning economist has a plan to change that.
I. US economic policies—especially tax policies—don’t serve the majority of the people, and the inequality is growing.
The tax code is rigged to the advantage of the 1%, who take but don’t give back fairly. Median income is lower than qtr. Century ago; while econ soared, 90% of populace stagnated or declined.
II. The policies are not necessary, not inevitable, but have been created by the machinations of the rich and powerful for their own interests
by creation of laws that serve them, laws made by lawmakers controlled by the rich by campaign contributions, lobbyists, Supreme Court justices,
by control of information and myths; e.g., US the land of opportunity: comparison with other developed nations shows US not land of opportunity; e.g., a tax code which enables the rich to pay their fair share actually serves the majority best, that is, tax evasion by the rich—by the code (numerous loopholes, special deductions, rate), by offshore tax havens-- serves democracy.
But rich not paying their fair share. All emphasis on rights of the rich without equal emphasis upon responsibility and accountability. They are free to spend unlimited amounts to distort our politics in their favor, with little punishment for criminal or anti-social behavior. Corporations pay fines as part of costs of doing business, and few corp execs and shareholders go to jail.
That is, the condition of the US today is not the result of economics but of politics, of choices dominated by the rich. The rich today are protecting their wealth and transferring it to their children and class. But we should and can transfer wealth to all by taxing the rich
III. Applied to Obama and Democratic Party 2014: But will we choose to again pull back from the brink as we did in the 1930s? Or has our politics been so changed, money power been so concentrated into permanent plutocracy (add recent Supreme Court rulings—Citizens United, McCutcheon) that it is too late?
Read Stiglitz’ new essay, “Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity.”
[Eleanor Roosevelt referred to the Four Freedoms as the “Four Equalities.” Kaye pp. 126 and 250. --Dick]
Seven Key Takeaways From Joseph E. Stiglitz’s Tax Plan for Growth and Equality
May 30, 2014
(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
Taxes pay for roads, schools, firefighters, Coast Guard rescues and a thousand other goods and services we need for our society to function.
But taxes also shape our incentives. We tax things that we deem to be harmful — like tobacco and alcohol — and hand out tax breaks to encourage things we find beneficial, like research.
According to a new white paper by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, our labyrinthine tax system is skewing those incentives. We’re encouraging corporations to invest in creating jobs overseas, when unemployment remains doggedly high here at home. We’re giving US-based multinationals good reason t0 deprive our treasury of revenues when we should be investing in infrastructure and the American people.
The report, prepared for the Roosevelt Institute, offers seven concrete proposals for reforming our corporate tax system so it aligns with the greater good. We have excerpted these below. The full recommendations are available in Stiglitz’s report, Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity(PDF).
1. Raise Corporate Income Tax Rates While Providing Incentives for Investments and Job Creation in the US
The implicit assumptions of the advocates of lower corporate tax rates are that low rates induce more investment and that high corporate tax rates disincentivize investment. Both theory and evidence indicate that low corporate tax rates fail to induce investment, but that one can design a corporate income tax that will promote investment and employment creation in the US. Such a tax system will require higher tax rates on corporations that do not invest, accompanied by lower taxes on those that do. It is the difference in taxation between those who do and those who do not invest and create jobs that provides the incentives for investment and job creation.
2. Reduce Spending on Corporate Welfare
Welfare payments provide assistance to poor individuals in need. But in the US, we give large amounts of money to rich corporations that can hardly be viewed as needy. Such payments — mainly hidden in our corporate tax system — have come to be called corporate welfare.
Corporate welfare consists of the billions — over a decade, tens and perhaps hundreds of billions — of dollars to enrich the coffers of corporations, sometimes to protect them from adverse situations (as in the massive bailout of the banking system, sometimes directly, as in the current crisis, sometimes indirectly, through the IMF) and other times to “promote” particular industries. The net beneficiaries of corporate welfare are, by and large, wealthy Americans — and increasingly wealthy foreigners (since foreigners are large owners of American corporations) … Both for reasons of equity and efficiency, the elimination — or at least the reduction — of corporate welfare should be at the center of tax reform.
3. Tax the Financial Sector
There are good reasons why there should be a special set of taxes imposed on the financial sector. First, the recession caused by the misdeeds of the financial sector is a major cause of the current high level of national indebtedness. Secondly, there is an important role for “corrective” taxation — taxes that simultaneously raise revenue and provide incentives for firms not to, for instance, impose externalities on others. The financial sector has, in fact, imposed huge costs on the rest of the economy.
But in spite of the evidence that it has imposed large costs on the rest of the economy, the financial sector has been particularly successful in escaping taxation. We suggest a number of financial sector taxes that would, we believe, actually increase the likelihood that the financial sector more efficiently performs the key social functions that it should perform.
4. Tax on Monopolies and Other Rent-Based Enterprises
One of the advantages of taxing monopolies and other rent-based enterprise “profits” at a higher (“surtax”) level is the absence of adverse supply responses. Indeed, if the response to taxing rent seeking activities is to decrease the quantity of such activities, the efficiency of the economy may actually be enhanced. While in some cases it may be difficult to ascertain the extent to which there are monopoly profits, in some sectors (such as telecom and cable TV) the magnitudes and associated distortions are large.
5. Ensure that Multinationals Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes and Have Incentives to Invest in America
In the current system, we lose not just tax revenues but also jobs. In the following two subsections, we discuss two ways by which this problem can be addressed.
· Tax firms on their global income in a fair and comprehensive way:In spite of the recent assertions of the Supreme Court, corporations are not people. One of the ways that they differ from people is that where they reside can be nothing but a legal fiction. We can tell where an individual resides – an individual is a resident of the State of New York if she sleeps 50 percent of nights in New York. But a corporation can set up an office in the Cayman Islands, claim that as its home, even if little or none of its business is conducted there, and even if it has few if any employees there. Our leading technology companies have shown that they can be as innovative in tax avoidance as they have been in producing new products. The current system cannot work in a world of globalization.
· Tax Intellectual Property:Corporations whose profits are strongly related to intellectual property have been particularly effective in tax avoidance, partly because it is relatively easy to claim that the intellectual property was created in, or resides in, a low tax jurisdiction. This is so even when the intellectual property depends heavily on basic research paid for by American taxpayers. As we noted earlier, technology firms, whose very existence depends on the Internet, which itself only exists as a result of government investments in research and development, have become emblematic of this kind of “corporate irresponsibility.”
6. Increase Taxes on Industries That Produce Negative Externalities
Taxes on industries that impose costs on the rest of society actually increase economic efficiency. It is better to tax bad things (such as pollution) than good things (such as work). The market produces too much of some things (such as toxic mortgages and toxic waste) and too little of others (such as basic research).
Taxes can be particularly effective in curbing these negative externalities, and in doing so, yield double dividends. The most important category of corrective taxes are those on environmental externalities, and within this area, the most important are those associated with carbon emissions, with their impact on global climate change.
It matters less whether those generating the pollution pay a carbon tax or buy emission permits that are auctioned. Either can generate large amounts of money and simultaneously improve economic performance.
7. Make Dividend Payments Tax Deductible, But Impose a Withholding Tax
One of the distortions associated with the current tax regime is that it encourages excessive leverage, which can, in turn, contribute to excessive volatility. Firms that raise capital through debt can deduct the interest they pay, but this is not true for the dividends that firms pay to those who contribute equity. This bias would be eliminated if dividends were tax deductible. But many of the recipients of the dividends would, under the current regime, then succeed in avoiding all taxes on this income, by taking advantage of various provisions in the tax code. Hence we propose that there be a 40 percent withholding tax. Upper-income Americans who actually pay taxes on dividends received would then get a full credit for these taxes that have been withheld. There would then be no double taxation — there would be an effective integration of the individual and corporate income tax.
Download the entire report, “Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity,” which also includes Stiglitz’s plan for reforming the individual income tax.
WHAT PROGRESSIVE IS NOT
In his introduction to Seven Bad Ideas, Jeff Madrick (Age of Greed) says that economists could benefit from advice Henry James once gave his students: "Any point of view is interesting that is a direct impression of life. You should consider life directly and closely." Madrick's stance is that mainstream economists rely too heavily on theory that doesn't hold up in practice. To illustrate and support his position, he explains seven economic principles that have driven policy since the 1970s and offers evidence of how they have failed not only the American people but the entire world. If politicians continue to follow these damaging ideas, he warns, they could hold the United States back for decades.
Throughout the country, most colleges teach the same conservative economic notions, passing these problematic theories along to the future economists; very few include a course on the development of these theories. Madrick says, "history is rarely a cherished discipline among economists, and case studies are too often neglected." Here, he uses historical examples and data to show government's leading role in innovation, the results of deregulation, flaws in low inflation and austerity economics, and the need for community-mindedness in a successful economy.
Readers don't need to be finance specialists to understand Seven Bad Ideas. Industry jargon, when used, is clearly explained and Madrick often provides vivid analogies to make the concepts even more accessible. Dishing up more than just blunt criticism, Madrick offers alternate approaches. If there were an eighth bad idea, it would be ignoring this book. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts
Discover: An intelligent, provocative look at seven dominant economic notions that drive U.S. policy.
This is so true of progressive orgs as a whole.
To begin with, a note on an inveterate optimist: Ralph Nader, our reigning genius of political possibility (and Seven Stories author of "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!" and Told You So, among other titles) has just released, with Public Affairs Books, Unstoppable. His political imagination on fire yet again, Ralph argues that the American people can get back into the habit of winning political battles by finding common ground between progressives and conservatives on certain issues.
BOOKS REVIEWED IN NOS. 1 AND 2
We find both comprehensiveness and coherence in chronological histories of liberalism/progressivism; for example, Harvey Kaye’s The Fight for the Four Freedoms and Eric Alterman’s The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. Or by a topical approach like Patrick Garry’s earlier book, Liberalism and American Identify.
Alterman, Eric. The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin
Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
Garry, Patrick. Liberalism and American Identify
Kaye, Harvey. The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest
Generation Truly Great
Generation Truly Great
Madrick, Jeff. Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged
America and the World
America and the World
Contents Liberal/Progressive Newsletter #1, February 27, 2014
Garry, Liberalism and American Identity
Alterman and Mattson, The Cause. . .from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama
Articles Mainly on “Progressives”
Nichols, 2013 Progressive Individuals and Groups
Laura Flanders, Bill de Blasio (self-proclaimed Progressive)
Dick, The Progressive Magazine
NationofChange Online on Progressives
Free Speech TV on Progressives
Paul Krugman, Centrists
Z Magazine, Self-described Radical Magazine
Dick, Unitarian Universalist Association Values
END LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE NEWSLETTER #2, Feb. 8, 2015