Sam Pizzigati

Why the Sky Sometimes Does Fall

The sky, we all learn as children, is not falling — and never falls. Only silly Chicken Littles prattle about “precipitous collapses.” Only silly Chicken Littles, apparently, and applied mathematicians. One of those mathematicians, the University of Maryland’s Safa Motesharrei, has joined with two colleagues to publish a new paper that sees the “precipitous collapse” of our global order as a distinct possibility. In fact, the three conclude, that possibility will become a hard-to-avoid probability unless the world becomes a far less unequal place.

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Isaiah J. Poole

As Middle Class Falls Behind, We Need A Progressive Populist Response

There is new evidence of the high price working-class people are paying because of the stranglehold conservatives have on our economy that should embolden Democratic candidates to offer bolder, progressive populist prescriptions for addressing income inequality and remaking our economy. The headline of the article on middle-class fortunes published in The New York Times on Tuesday could hardly have been more stark: “The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest.” The underlying facts are by now familiar: Incomes of the top 5 percent have skyrocketed in the past three decades, reflecting the disproportionate share of national wealth that has moved from working people to the ownership class.

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Dave Johnson

Black Cloud On Earth Day: Big Coal’s War Against EPA Emission Rules

It’s Earth Day and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is readying new greenhouse gas emissions rules for power plants, with the draft expected June 1. Forty-one percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from power plants. Nearly half of that comes from just 100 power plants, with all but two of those using coal. So doing something about these older, coal-fired power plants will go a long way toward reducing the amount of carbon we are putting into the air. EPA And Greenhouse Gas Emissions Many states rely on old, coal-fired power plants for electricity and worry that the new EPA rules for regulating emissions from power plants might force their energy sources to be shut down or become unreliable. So EPA staffers have held around 300 meetings with input from 10,000 people, according to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

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Lynne Stuart Parramore

5 Ways American Policies Make Us Lonely, Anxious, and Antisocial

You would think that by the 21st century, we would know something about what it takes for humans to live fulfilling lives. After all, we’ve witnessed enormous advances in science, psychology, sociology, and related fields over the past couple of centuries. The great mystery is that we seem to be doing worse, not better. Clearly, a lack of information isn’t the problem. Between the academic conferences, whole sections of bookstores and armies of pundits like Harvard psychologist (and Prudential spokesman) Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling Upon Happiness, we are given the secrets of well-being and offered reams of data, advice and lessons on what to seek and what to avoid.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Tell Boehner: Stop “Throwing Spaghetti,” Renew Unemployment Insurance

A few days ago you were able to virtually shut down the phones at House Speaker John Boehner’s office in response to our effort to get your voice heard on renewing unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless. It’s time to do it again. Our click-to-call line is open at 661-BOEHNER. Make the call, and urge your friends and people in your social networks to do the same. We need to do this because Boehner continues to make morally untenable demands in exchange for a vote to ensure that 3 million people (and counting) who are looking for work but can’t find it can still pay for basic necessities – including the costs associated with finding a job.

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Leo Gerard

The Terrible Fear of Paying the Poor Too Much

Republicans in America suffer a crippling anxiety. It’s the terrible fear of corporations paying poor workers too much. The GOP is so afraid that the nation’s lowest wage earners will get a raise that Republican politicians across the country are working overtime to outlaw wages above $7.25 an hour for these workers. They’re passing legislation forbidding towns and counties from raising the minimum wage in their jurisdictions. Republicans insist: no pay bump for those raking in $15,080 a year! On the other side, however, there’s no amount of pay, perks, private jets, premium health plans and golden parachutes that Republican politicians believe could possibly be too much for a CEO. That Oracle CEO Larry Ellison took home $78,440,657 last year is completely reasonable in the minds of Republicans.

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Dave Johnson

Elites Discover So-Called “Free Trade” Is Killing Economy, Middle Class

The New York Times editorial board finally gets it right about trade in its Sunday editorial, “This Time, Get Global Trade Right.” Some excerpts: Many Americans have watched their neighbors lose good-paying jobs as their employers sent their livelihoods to China. Over the last 20 years, the United States has lost nearly five million manufacturing jobs. People in the Midwest, the “rust belt” and elsewhere noticed this a long time ago as people were laid off, “the plant” closed, the downtowns slowly boarded up and the rest of us felt pressure on wages and working hours.

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Dave Johnson

Five of the Worst Cities to Be a Renter Unless You’re Fabulously Wealthy

The housing market is supposedly recovering, yet the homeownership rate is dropping. Meanwhile rents in urban areas were already high but now are absolutely skyrocketing. What’s going on? As millions lost their homes many of the houses were and are being bought up by large investors. And what do these investors want? They want rent and lots of it. According to a New York Times report, “In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class,” “In December, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan declared ‘the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has ever known.’ ” Since the Great Recession the squeeze on 99 percent of us has gotten much tighter. What does this mean for people looking for a place to live? People used to be able to buy a house and put down roots. But in most cities buying a house is just out of the question for most people.

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Digby

The Right’s New Racial Math: A Demented View Of Nonwhite Voters

I have a post up at Salon this morning discussing this reflexive conservative impulse to explain that they are really winning all the elections. It’s just that they are forced to count the votes of all those people of color: The news is so depressing for conservatives these days. All the demographic trends are moving against them.With every election showing a large majority of single women, young people and people of color voting for the Democrats, thus solidifying their identification with the party, the less likely it is that Republicans can outrun the shift to a multiracial majority. But they still don’t seem to understand exactly what this means for them.

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Thom Hartmann

The Gulf – Four Years Later.

This past Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite what we’ve heard from BP, the wildlife, the environment, and the residents of the Gulf are still dealing with the effects of that massive oil spill. A new report from the National Wildlife Federation found that many animal species are still struggling to recover from the 2010 disaster, including Bottlenose dolphins, Bluefin Tuna, sea turtles, and many others. Residents who live near the spill, and those who worked in clean-up efforts say that they’re still dealing with skin boils, respiratory illness, and depression. Many coastal environments that were once home to birds and wildlife are now just stretches of barren land and dead mangroves.

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Robert Borosage

Can Democracy Tame Plutocracy?

We are headed into a national reckoning. To paraphrase the unlamented Donald Rumsfeld, there are the known knowns and the known unknowns. We know that America is reaching new levels of extreme inequality. We know that from the founders on, our wisest leaders cautioned that extreme and entrenched economic inequality would lead to political inequality, as the wealthy use their resources and influence to protect their privileges. “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both,” the great attorney and Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis warned us. We know that America’s elites have very different opinions and priorities than the rest of us. They are more fixated on deficits, and more likely to support cutting Social Security and health care to deal with them.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week in Review: None Dare Call It Terrorism

What do you call it when an anti-Semite and white supremacist goes on a shooting spree at not one, but two Jewish community facilities, killing three people? If you’re the U.S. media you call it anything, but terrorism. With a barrage of bullets and a cry of “Heil Hitler,” 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller left three people dead in shootings outside a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement home in Overland Park, KS on Sunday. Miller, a former Klan leader turned government informant, may have been marking the birthday of recently executed racist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin. Whatever inspired his violence, Miller was a ticking time bomb with a long history as a white supremacist and anti-Semite, going back more than 30 years.

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Dave Johnson

Nullification, The Bundy Ranch And Right-Wing Lawlessness

Does the right get a free pass to ignore laws? Is armed intimidation the way we decide which laws should be followed? Is conservative media whipping up the conditions for another Oklahoma City bombing? These questions are popping up with more and more frequency in light of recent events. Armed Militia At Bundy Ranch Flag-waving Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy refuses to pay cattle-grazing fees like other ranchers do, or even get a grazing permit, because he “doesn’t recognize the federal government.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), following years of federal court rulings, finally starts removing Bundy’s cattle from public land. The state’s Republican governor and Republican senator accuse the government of “intimidation” for enforcing the court’s rulings.

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Robert Borosage

The Populist Wave: Politics And Pitchforks

Americans are in a surly mood, confronting rules they feel are rigged against them. President Barack Obama captured this populist temper in his re-election campaign. He then launched his second term declaring that inequality is the “most pressing challenge of our time,” and laying out a popular agenda to raise the federal minimum wage, provide pay equity for women, establish universal preschool and other initiatives that polls show the public strongly supports. Republican obstruction, however, has blocked progress on all these — even as the House GOP last week passed Representative Paul Ryan’s budget, which cuts taxes for the rich and corporations, turns Medicare into a voucher program, slashes spending on education and protects subsidies to Big Oil. Yet it is the president’s popularity that has cratered.

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Bill Scher

Coming This Summer: The Immigration Debate Will Return

Yesterday, pro-immigration Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, “I’m convinced that if we don’t get it [immigration reform] done by the August break, the president, who is feeling a lot of pressure from having not done anything on immigration reform, will feel that he has to act through executive action.” Sargent continued, “he has legislative language ready to go on a form of legal status for the 11 million that he believes could win substantial Republican and Democratic support, and said he continues to talk to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

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Thom Hartmann

The Middle Class is not “Normal”

There’s nothing “normal” about having a middle class. Having a middle class is a choice that a society has to make, and it’s a choice we need to make again in this generation, if we want to stop the destruction of the remnants of the last generation’s middle class. Despite what you might read in the Wall Street Journal or see on Fox News, capitalism is not an economic system that produces a middle class. In fact, if left to its own devices, capitalism tends towards vast levels of inequality and monopoly. The natural and most stable state of capitalism actually looks a lot like the Victorian England depicted in Charles Dickens’ novels. At the top there is a very small class of superrich.

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Richard Eskow

GOP “Sadism”: Grayson’s Candid Talk About a Young Mother’s Death

Why did Florida’s Republicans let a hard-working young mother of three die rather than accept federal funding that would’ve provided her with health insurance? “Sadism.” According to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), that – along with extreme ideology and a certain amount of political expediency – explains why Florida Gov. Rick Scott, along with a number of his fellow Republican governors, refused to accept Affordable Care Act funding to expand Medicaid coverage. “How (else) can you explain it?” asked Grayson. “Republicans have been blinded by their own ideology,” he said in our recent broadcast interview on “The Zero Hour.” “Every single member of the state legislature in Florida has healthcare – every single one of them – and yet they voted to deny that health coverage to almost a million other people,” he said.

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Jeff Bryant

Are Teacher Evaluations Education ‘Reform’s’ Biggest Bust?

Would you like your job performance judged by a 5-year-old? That’s a relevant question for public school teachers in Hawaii, where the state’s new teacher evaluation system attributes 10 percent of their job performance rating on what children as young as 5 years old think. Although 10 percent may not seem like a whole lot, in a metric based evaluation system where harsh judgments of “effective” versus “needs improvement” can swing either way based on a point or two, 100 percent can be 100 percent of the reason for a bad grade. But the child’s portion is not the sole problem Hawaiian teachers are having with their new evaluation system, which will ultimately affect their pay and can subject them to penalties as severe as termination.

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Bill Scher

We’re Not Doomed: US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cut To 20-Year Low

Today the EPA released its annual accounting of US greenhouse gas emissions for 2012. And it’s good news. The highlights: 1. After increasing greenhouse gas emissions nearly every year from 1990 to 2008, emissions are down 8% since President Obama was sworn in, and down 5% from 2010 to 2012. 2. As of 2012, annual greenhouse gas emissions are at the lowest level since 1994. 3. If we keep up the pace of a 5% cut every two years, at the end of his presidency Obama will beat his 2009 pledge to have cut emissions 17% from our 2005 levels, by 1.8 percentage points. 4. If we kept up the same pace through 2030, we will have cut emissions from our 2010 level by 40%, hitting the target set by the most recent UN climate panel report necessary to avoid a climate crisis.

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Dave Johnson

Treasury Department Again Lets China Off Hook On Currency

LISTEN: Dave Johnson on the Rick Smith Show talks about China’s currency manipulation. http://ourfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Rick-Smith-Dave-4-11-2014.mp3 The Treasury Department released its “Semi-Annual Report to Congress on International Economic and Exchange Rate Policies” this week, and went to great lengths to find a way not to label China as a currency manipulator. The U.S. Treasury Department is supposed to keep an eye on currency manipulation and report twice a year on whether countries are engaged in this practice so that we can protect our economy (our jobs, factories, ability to make a living and ability to defend our country) from the damage it can cause.

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