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Are We There Yet?

On August 21, Chris Hedges wrote a great post called “Bradley Manning and the Gangster State.” It is consonant with my own thinking, and, more importantly, it makes one focus on the most important issue facing democracy today: “Is there a democracy in the United States anymore, or have we already evolved into a form of totalitarianism?” And if we have, then is there any return from this, a counter-evolution or revolution, that will restore our political liberties and our ability to change our political regime?

”The most spied upon, monitored and controlled population in human history”

Here's Chris's opening statement:

”The swift and brutal verdict read out by Army Col. Judge Denise Lind in sentencing Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison means we have become a nation run by gangsters. It signals the inversion of our moral and legal order, the death of an independent media, and the open and flagrant misuse of the law to prevent any oversight or investigation of official abuses of power, including war crimes. The passivity of most of the nation’s citizens—the most spied upon, monitored and controlled population in human history—to the judicial lynching of Manning means they will be next. There are no institutional mechanisms left to halt the shredding of our most fundamental civil liberties, including habeas corpus and due process, or to prevent pre-emptive war, the assassination of U.S. citizens by the government and the complete obliteration of privacy.”

Some may object to the passionate and evaluative tone of this opening, and may want to quibble about whether Americans are “the most spied upon, monitored and controlled population in human history,” seeing this as glossing over the extreme conditions existing at the height of the Nazi, Stalin, and Mao regimes in Germany, the USSR, and China. But nevertheless it is hard to deny that in the areas of concern to the National Security Surveillance State, including not just foreign policy, “homeland security,” and the big media, but also in maintaining the dominance of the FIRE, Energy, military/industrial, and health insurance sectors of the economy, this statement is, sadly, true. Read below the fold...

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The Five Worst Reasons Why the National Debt Should Matter To You: Part Four, The Three Real Reasons

This is the concluding post in a four part series on the “Top” reasons why the national debt should matter. In Part One, I considered “Fix the Debt's” claim that high levels of debt cause high unemployment and argued that this is a false claim. In Part Two, I followed with a review of the historical record from 1930 to the present and showed that it refutes this claim throughout this period, and that there is not even one Administration where the evidence doesn't contradict “Fix the Debt's” theory. In Part Three I showed that the other four reasons advanced by “Fix the Debt” also had very little going for them. In this part, I'll give reasons why the national debt does matter, and why we should fix it without breaking America, or causing people to suffer. Read below the fold...

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The Five Worst Reasons Why the National Debt Should Matter To You: Part Two, the Record Since 1930

In Part One, of a critique of the most important of "Fix the Debt's" reasons for "Why the National Debt Should Matter To You," I asserted that high debt levels haven't caused high unemployment in the United States, and that, if anything causation was in the other direction. I didn't want to disturb the flow of the argument there with a relatively lengthy survey of some of the numbers in the historical record since the 1930s. But let's test the idea that High debt causes fewer jobs and lower wages in the United States by looking at that record now. Read below the fold...

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The Five Worst Reasons Why the National Debt Should Matter To You: Part One, High Debt Levels and Jobs

I came across a post from the “Fix the Debt” campaign last month called “The Top Five Reasons Why the National Debt Should Matter to You.” It's a post full of debt/deficit lies that cry out for correction. That's what I'll provide in this series. Read below the fold...

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“Makers and Takers:” They're Projecting Again!

I found a segment on MCNBC's Up With Steve Kornacke show revealing for what it did not say. The segment started off with a clip from a Recent Town Hall of John McCain's. Senator McCain took a question from a woman who said, with more than a little emotion. Read below the fold...

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Just Because They Can . . .

A commenter at DailyKos on my previous post on drawing the line in identifying whistle blowers said, among other things:

What I really find interesting is that Greenwald isn't even allegeding any wrong doing or illegal activity, just that the NSA 'has the capability' well no shit sherlock the government could do lots of things that doesn't mean it does or will.

I gave the following answer to that claim. Read below the fold...

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Where Do You Draw the Line?

Here's a memorable piece of video on Xkeyscore, featuring Piers Morgan, Glenn Greenwald, James Risen, and Jeffrey Toobin.

Risen and Greenwald get set up by Morgan pretty well to make Toobin look clueless, and silly, in his insistence that Snowden's done a very valuable thing for American democracy, but nevertheless must pay the price for releasing classified material. This is a village meme running around Washington, New York, and evidently, London, these days. Read below the fold...

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What Would You Have the President Do? Part III, Doing Some Economic and Social Justice

The first two Parts in this series began answering the question “what would u have him do?” It arose in the context of a Post at Naked Capitalism by Michael Hudson with some additions by Yves Smith. A commenter, objecting to the criticism of the President's Knox College speech, issued the challenge in connection with the President's promised effort to restore prosperity to the middle class and the poor.

In Part I, “Necessary First Moves,” I offered and described two of these: ending the filibuster, and using High Value Platinum Coin Seigniorage (HVPCS) to fill the Treasury General Account (TGA) with $60 Trillion in reserves. In Part II, I offered a number of proposals aimed at getting to full employment.

These included: a full payroll tax holiday; a guarantee of annual entitlement spending without regard to “trust fund” balances; State revenue sharing grants of roughly $1600 per person; and a Federal Job Guarantee program establishing jobs in local communities at a living wage with full fringe benefits. This third and last part will offer proposals for doing some economic and social justice to begin to right the wrongs the neoliberal globalizing political/economic/ideological system has inflicted on the American middle class and those living in poverty. Here are the proposals. Read below the fold...

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What Would You Have the President Do? Part II, Getting to Full Employment

Responding to a Post at Naked Capitalism by Michael Hudson with some additions by Yves Smith, a commenter, objecting to the criticism of the President's Knox College speech, issued the challenge ”What would u have him do?” in connection with his promised effort to restore prosperity to the middle class and the poor. In this series I'm giving my answer to that question. In Part I, “Necessary First Moves,” I offered and described two of these. Ending the filibuster, and using High Value Platinum Coin Seigniorage (HVPCS) to fill the Treasury General Account (TGA) with $60 Trillion in reserves.

The purpose of the first was to prepare the way for substantive policies by removing the Republican minority's power to tie up legislation. The purpose of the second, was to neutralize austerian fiscal responsibility justifications for subjecting every policy proposal to a deficit neutrality test, and for opposing deficit spending on grounds that it adds to the national debt and imposes heavy risks that the bond markets will demand very high interest rates on US debt. Of course, HVPCS gets rid of both the debt and bond market concerns for good.

Neither of these two policies, however, addresses substantive needs such as creating and maintaining full employment. This post is about the policies for getting to full employment I want the President to propose and try to implement. All of these policies have been previously proposed by MMT economists including Warren Mosler, Randy Wray, Bill Mitchell, Stephanie Kelton, and others. Read below the fold...

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What Would You Have the President Do? Part I, Necessary First Moves

There were varying reactions to the President's recent speech at Knox College this week. My reaction was that the speech was deeply dishonest in light of the President's previous policies, actions, and results, and I intended to do a critique, but Michael Hudson and Yves Smith beat me to it. Read below the fold...

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The Smart Bunny's Guide to Debt, Deficit and Austerity: A Review

One of the most important parts of the collective effort to spread the good news about the Modern Money Theory approach to macroeconomics is popularization of MMT views. Read below the fold...

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Lavoie's Critical Look at Modern Money Theory: A Reply

In October 2011 Marc Lavoie, a post-keynesian economist, very friendly to Modern Money Theory (MMT) wrote a paper presenting a friendly critical look at MMT. In his conclusion, Lavoie states that “. . . the neo-chartalist analysis is essentially correct . . . “ affirming his substantial agreement with MMT's analysis of banking operations and fiscal realities in nations with non-convertible fiat currencies, with floating exchange rates and no debts in currencies they do not issue, as well as MMT's analysis of Eurozone viability. But he goes on to say (p. 25):

“There is nothing or very little to be gained in arguing that government can spend by simply crediting a bank account; That government expenditures must precede tax collection; that the creation of high powered money requires government deficits in the long run; that central bank advances can be assimilated to a government expenditure; or that taxes and issues of securities do not finance government expenditures.”

So, Lavoie questions the wisdom of MMT economists and writers making certain counter-intuitive statements he perceives as certainly questionable, perhaps untrue, and also confusing to people, economists and decision makers trying to understand MMT writings. He considers these statements an important barrier to understanding, and he wants this 'baggage' to be discarded because he thinks it hurts MMT and post-keynesian efforts to get important new approaches to economics accepted. Read below the fold...

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A Modest Proposal on Voting Rights

In light of the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act, upholding the principle that States must be treated equally under the Constitution when it comes to new voting legislation they enact, but people, in relation to their exercising their voting rights, not so much; there's a real need for proposals to make Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act operative again by re-writing Section 4. Here's a modest proposal. Read below the fold...

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