nytimes.com — The Twinkie, it turns out, was introduced way back in 1930. In our memories, however, the iconic snack will forever be identified with the 1950s, when Hostess popularized the brand by sponsoring “The Howdy Doody Show.” And the demise of Hostess has unleashed a wave of baby boomer nostalgia for a seemingly more innocent time. Needless to say, it wasn’t really innocent. But the ’50s — the Twinkie Era — do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich.
policyshop.net — The price paid by American families for the reckless greed of Wall Street has been well documented and includes severe losses of household wealth – more than half for African American families and two-thirds for Latino families – due to the decline in housing values and employment. The Great Recession has had a tremendous negative impact on the public sector also. While the response to Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the important role that public sector workers play in American society, what hasn’t been talked about is the decimation of the public sector by the preventable tragedy of the financial crisis. Among the casualties of the financial crisis are the workers who haul your garbage, drive your kids to school, provide emergency services, deliver health care, operate libraries, protect your family’s water supply, and more.
robertreich.org — Don’t be distracted by January’s fiscal cliff or looming budget deficits. The central problem of our economy is widening inequality. It’s reducing the purchasing power of the vast middle class on which job growth depends, and turning the economy into a speculative casino for multimillionaires and billionaires. It’s also undermining our ability to turn the economy around, as those millionaires and billionaires subsidize politicians who refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy and seek to cut spending critical to the middle class and the poor. We can reverse this trend. The first step is to make sure Americans understand what’s occurred, why it’s occurred, and what must be done. And one of the best means of doing so is through film.
You can help change the economy! Big companies use their size and the fear of losing our jobs to force us to accept no raises or even lower pay and benefits. They can use their size to force communities, states and even the federal government to lower their taxes. You can help change the economy by standing with Walmart workers next week. They have the money but we have the people. more »
thenation.com — “I really want people to understand that we all work just as hard as the next person that’s in a business suit,” says Tamika Maxwell, mother of three, describing her work as a janitor in Cincinnati, her hometown. Along with 1,000 colleagues in the city, Maxwell hopes that current negotiations between SEIU and the city’s cleaning contractors will raise their $9.80 hourly wage—which, for annual full-time work, still leaves a family of three below the federal poverty line and relying on food stamps and Medicaid. In essence, the state ends up subsidizing corporations to continue paying people a non-living wage. But perhaps what is most frustrating to Maxwell and her colleagues is that among the cleaning contractors’ clients are some of the richest companies in the world. If any of them told the cleaning contractors to pay a living wage, the contractors would do so, and would pass the additional cost onto the multi-billion dollar corporations.
nextnewdeal.net — As predicted, the gender gap yawned on Election Day and pushed Obama to victory with a 10-point gender gap between him and Romney. How can President Obama thank the women who voted for him as he starts shaping the agenda for his second term? There are a variety of general economic policies that will benefit everyone, including women, such as spending federal stimulus money to kick-start a sluggish economy, ensuring the jobs being created in the recovery pay enough to support workers and their families, and bolstering a failing safety net to support the most vulnerable among us. But while women hold down half of the jobs in our economy, they still face unique challenges and obstacles to full economic equality. If President Obama cares about women’s economic welfare as much Candidate Obama indicated, there are some important issues he can take on in the next four years.
truthdig.com — Amaia Engana didn’t wait to be evicted from her home. On Nov. 9, in the town of Barakaldo, a suburb of Bilbao in Spain’s Basque Country, officials from the local judiciary were on their way to serve her eviction papers. Amaia stood on a chair and threw herself out of her fifth-floor apartment window, dying instantly on impact on the sidewalk below. She was the second person in two weeks in Spain to commit suicide as a result of an impending foreclosure action. Her suicide has added gravity to this week’s general strike radiating from the streets of Madrid across all of Europe. As resistance to so-called austerity in Europe becomes increasingly transnational and coordinated, President Barack Obama and the House Republicans begin their debate to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The fight is over fair tax rates, budget priorities and whether we as a society will sustain the social safety net built during the past 80 years.
nextnewdeal.net — Last week’s election results weren’t just a win for the president. Across the board, voters went to the polls and registered their support for progressive values, supporting needed tax increases, passing marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans, and giving a candidate who ran on a platform of proactive government and a strong safety net a second term. The message was clear: despite an economy that continues to recover too slowly, the direction that progressives are taking the country in is the right one. So our job has just begun. Now is when we really have to roll up our sleeves and work to achieve an ambitious agenda. The politics won’t necessarily be much easier than they were over the last four years. But with a Democratic president, a Democratic majority in the Senate, and an electorate strongly behind us, progressives have an opportunity to seize over the next four years.
salon.com — According to news reports, President Obama wants a “grand bargain” with the Republicans, who retain a majority in the House of Representatives even though in this year’s election more Americans voted for Democrats than for Republicans for Congress. The details of various “bipartisan” grand bargains vary, but most proposals, like the one proposed by the right-wing Republican Alan Simpson and the conservative Southern Democrat Erskine Bowles, the heads of the president’s failed deficit reduction commission, would trade modest Republican concessions on higher taxes on the rich for Democratic support for major cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements. Any such grand bargain would be a bad deal for mainstream Americans.