Category Archives: Wall Street

A Solid Debate between a Progressive Democrat and a Top GOP Rightwinger

Virginia Democrat Wayne Powell came out swinging Monday and remained on the offensive throughout the first debate in the race for Virginia’s 7th congressional district seat, accusing U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of abdicating his role as a leader of Congress and repeatedly slamming him for his lack of military service, while the visibly agitated six-term incumbent labored to furiously fend off the flurry of attacks.

Mr. Powell’s campaign has vowed to frame Mr. Cantor to both his constituents and the entire country as an unapologetic partisan irrevocably beholden to large corporations and special interest groups — and the former Army colonel wasted no time in lobbing grenades at the Republican incumbent Monday evening in Richmond before a national audience on C-SPAN2.

“He never talks about working people — he only talks about business people,” Mr. Powell said in the hour-long forum hosted by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “These people are suffering — I’ve seen them all the time … you’re so far removed from reality, I don’t think you even know what a small business is except for a hedge fund.”

We’re All in the Same Boat?

On the Topic of Obama, the

GOP Can’t Even Blush Anymore

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin’ On!

If Hollywood gave Oscars for shamelessness, the Republican responses to President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, Jan 24, would have swept the field.

Take Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels, who gave the official GOP response:

"No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others," he said. "As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat."

Amazing. One top GOP candidate, Newt Gingrich, is running around the country attacking Obama as the ‘Food Stamp President,’ while the other, Mitt Romney, whose newly released tax returns show he takes in more in a day than a well-paid worker does in a year, critiques Obama’s business skills using a shuttered factory as a stage prop.

Obama, of course, never shut down a single factory, yet that was precisely the business Mitt Romney and his outfit, Bain Capital, was famous for, including shutting down a factory in Florida, where his video message was being recorded.

"All in the same boat" and ‘castigating others’ indeed. Governor Daniels uttered these words as the state he presides over is currently engaged in a notorious ‘right to work for less’ battle to strip Indiana’s workers on their ability to bargain collectively.

Like many Americans, I watched the President’s speech with a critical eye. As he detailed a number of manufacturing and alternative energy industrial policies, I thought, finally, he’s giving some voice to his ‘inner Keynesian’ and forcing a crack in the neoliberal hegemony at the top. I cheered when he took aim at Wall Street and declared, "No more bailouts, no more handouts, and no more cop outs." On the other hand I winced more than once at the glorification of militarism and the defense of Empire-I’m one quick to oppose unjust wars and who has long believed a clean energy/green manufacturing industrial policy needs to trump a military-hydrocarbon industrial policy.

This speech was also Obama in campaign mode. One thing we’ve learned over the last four years is that his governing mode is not the same thing, and requires much more of us in terms of independent, popular and democratic power at the base to make good things happen.

But one thing is clear. My critical eye has nothing in common with what’s coming from the GOP and the far right. The first Saturday of every month, the pickups trucks from the local hills and hollows, growing numbers of them, fill the parking lot of the church on my corner, picking up packages from the food pantry to help make ends meet. In these circumstances and lacking better practical choices, I’ll go with the ‘Food Stamp’ President any day of the week.

Structural Reform: The Case for Public State Banks

Meet Occupy Wall Street’s Favorite Banker

By Ryan Holeywell
SolidarityEconomy.net via Governing Magazine

Jan 4, 2012 – Try to find a bank president that’s beloved by supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s not impossible. You’ll just have to travel to North Dakota.

Meet Eric Hardmeyer, who bears the unlikely distinction of being perhaps the only banker in America who, in addition to being embraced by Wall Street protesters, has been exalted by the likes of Michael Moore, Mother Jones magazine, and the Progressive States Network, among other progressive stalwarts.

That’s because Hardmeyer heads the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the country’s only publicly-owned state bank. The institution, located ironically enough in a solidly red state, has become the darling of progressives who have become frustrated with corporate banks they say helped cause the financial crisis and resulting credit crunch.

Now, state lawmakers nationwide are pushing for the North Dakota model to be replicated in their home states. Since 2010, state lawmakers in at least 16 states have introduced bills to create a state bank, something similar, or study the issue, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, momentum is slow. The movement has yet to produce another Bank of North Dakota, but advocates are hoping to raise the issue again in 2012 legislative sessions. Their pitch: publicly-owned banks can help create jobs, generate revenue for the state, strengthen small banks, and lower the cost of borrowing for local governments by offering loans below market rate.

 

Hardmeyer, who was named bank president in 2001, hasn’t always been such a well-known figure. But his profile has been raised over the last year – including in Bloomberg BusinessWeek — and now he regularly fields calls from state lawmakers and other officials inquiring about his institution. “There hasn’t been a big push anywhere that I’m aware of until recently,” said Hardmeyer in a late December interview with Governing.  “They’re interested in how it works, why it works, [and] what the roadblocks are.”

Continue reading Structural Reform: The Case for Public State Banks

Every Picture Tells a Story: Labor Solidarity and OWS

Unions and Immigrants Join Occupy Movements

 By David Bacon
Progressive America Rising via Truthout | Photo Essay

Dec 6, 2011 – Oakland, California – When Occupy Seattle called its tent camp "Planton Seattle," camp organizers were laying a local claim to a set of tactics used for decades by social movements in Mexico, Central America and the Philippines. And when immigrant janitors marched down to the detention center in San Diego and called their effort Occupy ICE (the initials of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency responsible for mass deportations),people from countries with that planton encampment tradition were connecting it to the Occupy movement here.

Photo Above:Southern California janitors block the streets to protest the firing of immigrant workers. (Photo: David Bacon)

This shared culture and history offer new possibilities to the Occupy movement for survival and growth at a time when the federal law enforcement establishment, in cooperation with local police departments and municipal governments, has uprooted many tent encampments. Different Occupy groups from Wall Street to San Francisco have begun to explore their relationship with immigrant social movements in the US, and to look more closely at the actions of the 1 percent beyond our borders that produces much of the pressure for migration.

Reacting to the recent evictions, the Coalition for the Political Rights of Mexicans Abroad recently sent a support letter to Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and the other camps under attack. "We greet your movement," it declared, "because your struggle against the suppression of human rights and against social and economic injustice has been a fundamental part of our struggle, that of the Mexican people who cross borders, and the millions of Mexican migrants who live in the United States."

The banners at Occupy Seattle. (Photo: David Bacon)

Many of those migrants living in the US know the tradition of the planton and how it’s used at home. And they know that the 1 percent, whose power is being challenged on Wall Street, also designed the policies that are the very reason why immigrants are living in the US to begin with. Mike Garcia, president of United Service Workers West/SEIU, the union that organized Occupy ICE, described immigrant janitors as "displaced workers of the new global economic order, an order led by the West and the United States in particular."

Continue reading Every Picture Tells a Story: Labor Solidarity and OWS

Do They Really Want ‘Specific Demands’ from the Occupiers?

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin’ On

I’m getting fed up with pompous pundits lecturing the ‘Occupy!’ movement for not having a set of specific demands.

A case in point: New York Time financial columnist Joe Nocera quoted at length in a story by Phoebe Mitchell in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Nov 29.  He was speaking at the Amherst Political Union, a debate club at UMass Amherst.

Nocera starts off with the now usual tipping of the hat to the protestors:

“Nocera believes the anger caused by income inequality, a divisive issue across the country in this prolonged economic downturn, is the fuel for both popular uprisings. ‘If we lived in a country that had a growing economy and where the middle class felt that they could make a good living and had a chance for advancement and a decent life, there would be no tea party or Occupy Wall Street,’ he said.”

But we don’t live in such times, and the more interesting story is that OWS and its trade union allies are displacing the Tea Party, and energizing the progressive grassroots. Nocera, however, makes OWS the target.

“He believes that for the Occupy Movement to be successful, it must frame clear demands that outline a plan for creating jobs and refashioning Wall Street to benefit the entire country and not just a select few wealthy investors. Without a solid plan for moving forward, he said, the Occupy protestors will be continued to be viewed by Wall Street supporters as little more than “a gnat that needs to be flicked from its shoulder blades.”

A ‘gnat’ indeed. In due time, a progressive majority may well come to view our dubious ‘Masters of the Universe’ on Wall St as bothersome gnats to be flicked away.

But to get to the main point, Nocero knows perfectly well that there is any number of short, sweet and to the point sets of demands aimed at Wall Street finance capital and the Congress it works to keep under its thumb. Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO has been hammering away at his six-point jobs program—one point of which is a financial transaction tax of Wall Street as a source of massive new revenues to fund the other five.

The United Steel Worker’s Leo Gerard has been tireless for years working for a new clean energy and green manufacturing industrial policy that could create millions of new jobs and get us out of the crisis in a progressive way.

So what happens when these demands are put forward? With our Wall Street lobbyists working behind the scene, the best politicians money can buy declare them ‘off the table.’ Nocera and others of like mind in punditocracy put the cart before the horse. OWS arose as a result of a long train of abuses, year after year of sensible, rational, progressive demands and programs swept off of Congress’s agenda like so many bread crumbs from a dining table. Not even brought to a vote. OWS and a lot of other people are fed up with being dismissed.

The pundits should watch what they wish for. The demands and packages of structural reforms will be back, much sharper and clearer, and with the ante upped by hundreds of thousands in the streets, as well as millions turning out for the polls. In fact, the solutions have always been there for anyone with ears to hear. We’ll see if our voices are loud enough to crack the ceiling at the top, and let some light shine through.

Labor & ‘Occupy Pittsburgh’ Join Together in Nationwide ‘Bridge’ Actions

…Joining hands to demand taxes on Wall Street to create jobs repairing bridges and other infrastructure

The Greenfield Bridge is in such bad repair that it has catch pans under it to capture falling debris. As several hundred protestors surged across the bridge – including construction workers bearing tools and equipment – a large "Good Jobs Now" banner was displayed for drivers on Interstate 376.

Banksters: You Made the Mess? Pay Up!

Crash Tax: Wall Street Reparations

By Leo W Gerard
International President, United Steel Workers
Beaver County Blue via HuffPost

Nov 14, 2011 – Wall Street waged war on the American economy and middle class with its reckless gambling.

It wasn’t Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac that crashed the economy. It wasn’t the federal government. It wasn’t hapless homeowners who were sold mortgages they couldn’t afford. It was Wall Street financiers that aggressively sought and bought mortgages to package and sell as derivatives, which the banks could wager on.

Americans bailed out Wall Street, handing it a Marshall Plan for reconstruction after its bad bets blew up the world economy. Now, three years later, happy days are here again for the Wall Street banksters. They’re hauling in big profits and paying outrageous bonuses. But the American middle class continues to suffer high unemployment, record foreclosures and rising poverty.

So it’s time for Wall Street to pay reparations. It’s time for a crash tax, a tiny sales tax on Wall Street transactions, the revenues from which would pay for Main Street restoration. It’s time for the 1 percent to repay the 99 percent, for Wall Street to share in the sacrifices necessitated by its rogue behavior.

Continue reading Banksters: You Made the Mess? Pay Up!

OWS in Allentown, Youngstown, Toledo

Occupying the Rust Belt: In Three Deindustrialized Cities,

Protesters Find Friendly Cops, Determination and Despair

Americans here are beaten down. But in occupations around the country they have found a space where they can speak of their struggles, burdens and aspirations.

Photo: Youngstown occupier

By Arun Gupta
Beaver County Blue via Alternet.org

Oct 25, 2011 – The surefire method to find occupations in small cities is to head for the center of town. After leaving Philadelphia on our Occupy America tour, we drive an hour north to Allentown. Pennsylvania’s third-largest city at 118,000 residents, Allentown has been weathered by years of deindustrialization in the steel, cement and textile industries that once made it an economic powerhouse.

Along MacArthur Boulevard, one of Allentown’s main drags, tidy but weary brick row homes line outlying neighborhoods. Close to Center Square, site of the requisite Civil War monument, the neighborhoods are heavily Latino and buildings exhibit signs of disrepair.

Occupy Allentown has taken up residence in Center Square, inhabiting one of the four red-brick plazas on each corner. There are a handful of tents, a well-supplied kitchen pavilion and an information desk. A large blue and gray nylon tent, which 12 people crammed into the first night of the occupation, has laundry hanging off a clothesline in back and a cardboard sign on the front that reads “Zuccotti Arms,” in reference to the original Wall Street occupation.

We’ve come in search of Adam Santo, said to be the local leader of a leaderless movement. A handsome, boxy-glassed youth a few years out of college, Santo says he knew about the planning for Occupy Wall Street prior to Sept. 17.

“I wanted to go to New York, but I’ve been unemployed and finances were tight, so I thought wouldn’t it be cool to have an occupation in the Lehigh Valley,” where Allentown is nestled. Eight months earlier he and three co-workers were laid off from their jobs at a local bank because of a “lack of work.”

Continue reading OWS in Allentown, Youngstown, Toledo

USW’s Leo Gerard Takes Apart GOP Diversionary Tactics on Jobs

The GOP’s New Job Scam: The 99% Seek

A Just Economy, Not Just An Economy

By Leo Gerard
Beaver County Blue via Alternet.org

Republicans jammed together a mess of old, failed and vague schemes and called it a jobs bill. Sen. John McCain conceded the reason for the rehash: “Part of it is in response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal.”

They still don’t. This despite the fact that they promised voters during their campaign to take control of the U.S. House one year ago that they’d create jobs. That they’d focus on jobs. That nothing was more important to them than jobs.

Now, what they’ve offered instead of actual jobs is a polyglot of GOP talking points. It’s certainly no vision to move the country forward. It’s a plot to set the country back – to repeal the health care law that will soon help provide coverage for the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance, to rescind the Wall Street reform law designed to prevent another financial sector-caused meltdown, and to thwart regulations, like those that stopped distribution of listeria-infected cantaloupe that killed 25.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio called the Republican polyglot a “pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs.” It is, in fact, a pro-business proposal to permit corporations to destroy the environment for humans.

It is another GOP ploy to appease, accommodate and absolve corporations. It is another GOP ruse to firmly establish in America an economy designed for, dedicated to and directed by corporations rather than a just economy controlled by and beneficial to the 99 percent.

Continue reading USW’s Leo Gerard Takes Apart GOP Diversionary Tactics on Jobs

‘There Are No Jobs Out There…’

Global Jobs Crisis Takes Biggest

Toll On Struggling Youth Everywhere

By Lila Shapiro
Beaver County Blue via HuffPost

Oct 20, 2011 – Of all those that have suffered from global joblessness, it could be the young job seekers in developed economies that have paid the highest price. And the collective frustration is beginning to add up.

At the end of last year, there were an estimated 75.1 million young people around the world struggling to find jobs — a group nearly the size of the population of Iran. The group of job hunters, ages 15 to 24, has expanded by 4.6 million since the Great Recession began, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations.

The burden is heaviest for the young in Europe, the U.S., and other advanced economies, where the youth unemployment rate saw the biggest overall jump between 2008-2010. Adding to the concern: While other regions of the world saw youth unemployment rates peak in 2009, these countries were among the few, globally, that continued to see the unemployment rate creep up.

This course does not appear to be changing, at least not any time soon.

Continue reading ‘There Are No Jobs Out There…’