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Thread: American Democracy in Trouble.

  1. #61
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    snapper,

    I am not seeking a re-run of the 'long economic debate' but what happened to those left out? Trump was their answer. It would have been wiser (in retrospect it always easy of course) to throw money out of nowhere into peoples accounts in the banks and let them keep their houses or start new businesses etc but not leave them behind from their point of view while bending over backward for the banks etc... My description is not intended as economical but rather sociological.
    of course, i agree that would have been the optimal route, both sociologically and economically. but, as you know there were significant political obstacles to that optimal route.

    on another note, the (general) European economic response to the Great Recession has been remarkably poor, which combined with the ME refugee crisis is why the previously dominant European center-left has been absolutely devastated.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  2. #62
    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    What's wrong with printing money out of thin air?
    I disagree with Astralis and DOR about a lot of their politics, but generally agree with their economics. One of the extremely frustrating things of the last decade was seeing a lot of conservatives embracing hawkish monetary policy, up to and including return to gold standard. Time, I think, has proven those hard money stances wrong: Europe implemented a more hawkish monetary policy and hasn't recovered, while the US has fully recovered.

    If anything, I would've said more QE. I think monetary policy is effective enough to get the job done. So I think government spending more money is largely unnecessary and damaging (you get Solyndra), but DOR and Asty are both going to be more worried about government shutdowns and want more fiscal stimulus.

    I think the center right-wing politics of the last few decades has been largely fine. We're better off than we were back in the 70s and the 80s. About the only nation that has something to complain about is France because of their structural unemployment, but that's their own damn fault. Italy is saddled with problems, but that was the same as it was in the 70s...if anything, their problems is adopting the Euro and being stuck in the same zone as Germany, which might have hobbled the manufacturing hub they had in Northern Italy after Germany started reforming their labor markets and holding down wages.

    Trump definitely shows their is something wrong with American politics, but it mostly shows that Americans themselves are deeply partisan and won't vote for the other Party. I think discussions about Gerry-Mandering and Term Limits are red herrings: politically active Americans are partisan and want partisan representatives.
    A secondary problem is that Capitol Hill is increasingly structured into winner-take-all contests.
    A tertiary problem is that authority has increasingly devolved to executive and judicial branches as a result.


    The last problem are the particular voting blocs: The Religious Right seemed damn frightening for quite some time. They've kind of petered out, but you never know if the next voting bloc will implement more of their own crazy policies.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

  3. #63
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    GVChamp,

    I disagree with Astralis and DOR about a lot of their politics, but generally agree with their economics.
    yeah, we're generally in the same camp, although I am of the belief that monetary policy is fine for your run of the mill recession, but was rather insufficient given the scale of the Great Recession. i don't think we'd be in anywhere close to the same place as we are now if we replaced the 2009 stimulus with moar QE.

    it's true that Europe implemented a more hawkish monetary policy...but given of course the "split" state of the EU, by definition they also implemented far lesser fiscal policy (actually, outright austerity in most places).

    I think the center right-wing politics of the last few decades has been largely fine.
    don't understand how you connect "a lot of conservatives embracing hawkish monetary policy" with that. as i said, even flexible monetary policy would have been a very poor substitute for fiscal action in 2009-- a hawkish monetary policy and no fiscal action would have been an utter disaster.

    as i wrote earlier, monetarism was supposed to be the conservative economic response to Keynes/the failure of neo-classical economics during the Great Depression. going back to square one in the midst of the most terrible economic crisis since the Great Depression doesn't seem to indicate "largely fine" to me.

    in fact, back then conservatives were split between their perpetual call for lower taxes/less regulations as a response vs deficit reduction (which is an even worse response in the crisis context).
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  4. #64
    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    I mean the Thatcher/Reagan/neo-liberal policies implemented since the late 70s. When people are complaining about the long-run economic picture, they mean those policies.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by GVChamp View Post
    What's wrong with printing money out of thin air?
    They did not print it nvm; in essence it is neither right nor wrong of itself but when it comes to the distribution of this newly created money inequities appear.

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Von Spakovsky riled Fairfax with voter fraud efforts; Trump just elevated him
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local...=.dc7a839fb759

    https://thinkprogress.org/dem-electi...r-d0c3d527ea2b

    Trump Picks Voter ID Advocate to Lead Vote-Fraud Commission
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-p...aud-commission

    On Thursday, the White House announced the appointment of Hans von Spakovsky to the commission. In 2008, von Spakovsky issued a report on voter fraud citing decades-old evidence.
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...ter-fraud-myth

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    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Yep, not one expert on elections, just cheap political hacks with a personal agenda to shove down people's throats.

  8. #68
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    ALEC's Covert War on Democracy

    Published on Monday, July 03, 2017 by Common Dreams

    Ahead of national convention in Denver, a look at destruction wrought by group that pairs right-wing lawmakers with corporate interests
    By Michele Swenson

    Describing an “illiberal” or “managed” democracy, political philosopher Sheldon Wolin and others draw a picture of a U.S. government acting as servant of dominant corporate money that subverts democracy, overwhelms representative government and sacrifices the common good, as the major political parties, too, are captive to corporate control. Excluded from exerting any influence are the people, where government takes legitimacy from “elections that they have learned to control,” and where highly concentrated media corporations determine what is “legitimate” news. Almost nonexistent voter fraud captures media’s attention, but not the huge disenfranchisement of voters prior to the 2016 elections.

    The American Legislative Exchange Council, in thrall to large corporate interests, has set the stage for the systematic dismantling of democracy, beginning with voter suppression laws. Since the Supreme Court effectively gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act (Shelby County vs. Holder) Jim Crow tactics have regained a hold. In 2016 Greg Palast cited at least “nine methods of attacking the right to vote of Black, Latino and Asian-American voters,” including “Caging, purging, blocking legitimate registrations, and wrongly shunting millions to ‘provisional’ ballots that will never be counted.”

    Prior to 2016 elections, Operation Crosscheck voter lists compiled by Kansas Secretary of State and white supremacist Kris Kobach and reportedly distributed to 29 Republican state voting officials, led to the purge of over one million registered voters who had the same first and last names. Kobach now serves as vice chair of the so-called Trump “Voter Fraud Commission” that seeks lists of all voters from every state. It would be difficult to overstate the consequences of widespread voter disenfranchisement, which should not be normalized. “Elections have consequences,” assert political operatives. Conversely, “Illegitimate elections have illegitimate consequences.”

    At the forefront of mobilization of anti-democratic activity for over four decades is the Koch-/corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), working below the radar, serving as a catalyst to bring together legislators and their corporate funders in common cause to write legislation in service of their corporate bottom lines. As always, their scheduled 44th Annual Meeting in Denver, July 19-21, will take place behind closed doors, open only to corporate members who contribute thousands of dollars and up, and legislative members who pay up to $100, often directly from their campaign coffers. ALEC presents itself as a “501(c)(3) educational organization that provides nonpartisan research, study and analysis”; their professed intent - to “develop research-based model policies focused on limited government, free markets and federalism.”

    “Limited” government is an understatement - it is government truly limited to serving and serving up large financial gains to captains of industry who write policy and in turn grease the palms of their legislative servants who enact their policy for them.

    Common Cause has challenged ALEC’s “tax-exempt nonprofit status” even as ALEC actively lobbies for profit-driven legislation to benefit corporate members.

    ALEC Seeks to Crush Participatory Democracy by Supplanting Voter, Worker & Local Power

    Century-long juridical activism by conservative courts have reversed the power equation between corporations and the people who created them, even as unlimited cash has come to dominate corrupted politics, exacerbated by the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. Massive amounts of cash are directed to campaigns, initiatives and litigation, even as decades of policies have effectively transferred wealth upward.

    All that is left for friends of oligarchs is to crush participatory democracy. A primary goal of ALEC and its local government subsidiary, the American City County Exchange (ACCE) has been to suppress voter participation by erecting barriers in the form of photo ID laws and proof of citizenship requirements. Such strategies are intended to disenfranchise many vulnerable voters - the young, the old and minorities.

    State Preemption Laws

    Achieving corporate goals begins with targeting local government regulations that might impede corporate profits. Ostensibly to promote limited government, ALEC and its allies seek to privatize-for-profit public services, transferring the Public Commons to corporations, thus boosting the corporate bottom line at the expense of the people. Prime targets of privatization include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, public schools and state pensions.

    Furthering the assaults on workers, ALEC-allied corporations seek to ban collective bargaining for public sector unions. Also crippling unions are so-called “paycheck protection” laws that prevent assessment of union dues for political purposes without annual reauthorization from each member. ALEC-promoted “right-to-work” campaigns undermine private sector unions. Still more worker assaults preempt minimum wage increases, and require a higher burden of proof in workers’ compensation cases, while removing no-fault provisions, effectively compelling a worker who loses a claim to pay the employer’s legal fees.

    Preemption laws are part of a dual-track strategy used by corporations and politicians to block progressive policies at the local level. The second track occurs when industries and trade associations file a barrage of lawsuits against local governments as a warning to other localities against considering the same policies. Even as a state preemption bill was being advanced, six New Jersey trade associations rushed to court to challenge the passage of the November 2014 Earned Sick Days ballot measure. ALEC’s self-described ‘battleground over worker compensation’ triggered renewed legislation and litigation against “raise the wage” initiatives in cities like Seattle and Los Angeles in 2014.

    Michigan’s Emergency Management Laws, advocated by ALEC members, permit privatization of elected public offices, allowing a governor-appointed Emergency Manager to replace locally elected officials in a municipality. An emergency manager is granted power to destroy collective bargaining, to lower wages for public workers, to break public employee contracts, and to sell off public assets to the private sector. In such a capacity, a Flint, Michigan Emergency Manager triggered one of the greatest toxic water emergencies in the U.S. by switching Flint’s water supply from Detroit’s system to the contaminated Flint River “to save money.”

    Because it is easier for industry to work their money and influence in 50 state legislatures than in thousands of municipalities, ALEC creates model state preemption laws to directly or retroactively block local laws and ordinances. Preemption laws strip the right of local governance surrounding every conceivable issue, including minimum wage, paid sick leave and benefits, pensions, rent control, community broadband, cyanide heap leach mining, high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), pesticide and GMO restrictions, plastic bag bans, gun safety laws, factory farming, or anything else industry desires to control.

    The ultimate takedown of direct democracy has been the targeting of Citizen Ballot Initiatives, placing the process out of reach for all but the wealthy elite. In order to block proposals for worker protections or industry regulation, ALEC advocates making it harder to qualify referendum language, and requiring super-majorities to pass ballot issues. In 2016 the Colorado oil and gas industry pushed Initiative 71 to place the Citizen Ballot Initiative out of reach for all but wealthy interests, requiring supermajority passage, as well as a percent of voter signatures from each of 35 state senate districts to place a subject on the ballot.

    More Model Laws Authored by ALEC with Corporate Funders

    Private Prison Industrial Complex Writes Immigration Law

    Model legislation written by ALEC with member Corrections Corporation of America, the largest U.S. private prison corporation, promoted in various states and enacted in Arizona, permits stopping anyone suspected of being undocumented, and imprisoning those not carrying proper paperwork.

    ALEC & Utilities Promote Climate Change Denial & Suppression of Solar Energy
    Actively promoting climate change denial, ALEC has drafted model legislation in Florida and other states to depress incentives for rooftop solar by ending net metering, while the state Public Service Commission, at the request of Florida’s Utility Companies, voted to end Florida’s solar rebate program, and granted permission to Power and Light to invest $191 million of customer money in fracking operations in Oklahoma.

    Preemption of Local Gun Laws
    Beginning in the 1990s ALEC worked with the gun industry to enact preemption of gun laws in almost every state. Additionally, “super-preemption” legislation pushed by the industry creates “private right of action” allowing individuals or groups the right to sue local governments or local officials if they believe they are enforcing local firearms laws.

    Privatization of Public Education for Profit
    Seeking to privatize public education for profit of private corporations, Charles and David Koch have created a six-figure Colorado campaign through their Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the Libre Initiative (focused on Hispanic community outreach) to promote “school choice” and education savings accounts (ESAs), currently offered in 5 states. ESAs give tax dollars directly to parents for private education, etc., diverting money from public schools.

    In Colorado: Legislative and Judicial Preemptions of Local Government
    State Preemption of Community Broadband
    Telecommunication companies, i.e., Qwest and Comcast, lobbied the 2005 state legislature to pass state preemption of municipal broadband. The law provides for local Colorado community broadband pending success of a voter referendum, with restrictions applied.

    State Preemption of Local Gun Laws

    In 2003 an ALEC model state preemption of local gun safety laws (SB-03-25) was signed by Governor Bill Owens, rendering local gun ordinances unenforceable. Denver challenged the preemption law in court & got to keep bans on assault weapons and open firearms carry only after a tie vote when a Colorado Supreme Court justice recused herself.

    AgGag Laws - Factory Farming
    ALEC bill, “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act” seeks to criminalize as “terrorists” whistle blowers who reveal abusive/dangerous conditions at animal facilities. The Colorado Agricultural Protection Act of 1981 C.R.S. 35-3.5-102 voids any local ordinance “that makes operation of any agricultural operation a nuisance,” with few exceptions.

    Minimum Wage Preemption

    Colorado law SB99-014 passed in 1999 prohibits enactment of a minimum wage by any local governing body, initiative, referendum, or any other process.

    Preemption of Bans on Mining with Acidic Chemicals, e.g., Cyanides
    Acidic wastewater from cyanide heap leach gold mining at the Summitville Mine in the San Juan Mountains killed off 17 miles of the Alamosa River. Five counties that banned use of toxic chemicals/cyanide for mining, saw their bans overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2009 on the basis of state preemption of local law.

    Preemption of Ban on Fracking
    A Greeley ban on oil and gas extraction enacted as a local ordinance in 1985, both by ballot initiative in a home rule city, and by city council action, was overturned by two 1992 Colorado Supreme Court cases, Voss v. Lundvall Bros. Inc and Bowen/Edwards Assoc. Inc. v. Board of County Commissioners of La Plata County, holding that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act (O&GCA) preempts any outright ban as well as any local regulation that creates an “operational conflict” with the O&GCA. Fracking bans and moratoriums in Longmont, Lafayette, Fort Collins and Broomfield have all been challenged in court by the Oil & Gas industry.

    Preemption of Rent Control
    A 1981 Colorado law prohibiting control of rents by counties and municipalities was enacted as a reaction to a Boulder citizen initiative to impose rent controls. A 2000 Colorado Supreme Court decision held that the state statute prohibiting local communities from enacting rent control preempted a local ordinance enacted by the City Council of the home rule city of Telluride that would have required a percentage of affordable housing in a new development.

    Preemption of Plastic Bag Ban
    A 1989 Colorado state law, HB 89-1300, prohibits a ban of the use or sale of plastic materials or products in Colorado. A bill to overturn that law in 2014 failed. To work around the prohibition of a ban on plastic bags and to reduce waste, a number of communities have imposed fees on plastic and paper bags.


    A former nurse, Michele Swenson has researched and written about the history of women’s health care, as well as religious fundamentalist and gun-centered ideologies. Her book Democracy Under Assault: TheoPolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right is an in-depth examination of the fractured church-state divide, assaults on the independent judiciary, as well as resurgent 19th century science, socioeconomic Darwinism, corporatism, and Christian nativism. She is a member of the working committee of Health Care for All Colorado Foundation that created the proposal.

  9. #69
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    More on ALEC:

    Three of the 29 board members are Democrats, two from Arkansas (Steve Faris and Bobby Hogue) and one from Iowa (Dolores Mertz). All of the state chairs are GOPers.

    The distinguished corporate sponsors include Koch Industries, Altria (you know it as Philip Morris), the American Petroleum Institute, Amoco, Anheuser Bush, the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Eli Lilly, ExxonMobile, Farmer’s Insurance, State Farm Insurance, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the National Pawnbrokers Association, the NRA, News Corp, PwC, Thomson Reuters, Time Warner, Verizon, T-Mobile, UPS, FedEx, and the US Chamber of Commerce.

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