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The Myths of Austerity

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  • The next time you hear serious-sounding people explaining the need for fiscal austerity, try to parse their argument. Almost surely, you’ll discover that what sounds like hardheaded realism actually rests on a foundation of fantasy, on the belief that invisible vigilantes will punish us if we’re bad and the confidence fairy will reward us if we’re good. And real-world policy — policy that will blight the lives of millions of working families — is being built on that foundation.
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  • This isn’t a recovery, in any sense that matters.
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Paul Krugman, New York Times | NY

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

John Darkow

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When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. Much of what Serious People believe rests on prejudices, not analysis. And these prejudices are subject to fads and fashions.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s column. For the last few months, I and others have watched, with amazement and horror, the emergence of a consensus in policy circles in favor of immediate fiscal austerity. That is, somehow it has become conventional wisdom that now is the time to slash spending, despite the fact that the world’s major economies remain deeply depressed.

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This Is Not a Recovery, Paul Krugman, New York Times | NY

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  • This isn’t a recovery, in any sense that matters. And policy makers should be doing everything they can to change that fact.
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  • GDP Revised Down: Economy Grew At A Much Slower Pace Than Previously Thought
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  • Tax Jujitsu: Why Democrats Should Propose a “People’s Tax Cut”
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  • Jobless? Your leaders are at ease with that.
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Goodbye, Blog


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  • The friend of information but the enemy of thought.
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  • Facebook devolves into dark web of anonymous hate speech.
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Alan Jacobs, Christianity Today

About two years ago, my online life began to be centered on a computer application: not my word processing program, or my email program, but my rss news reader. rss (which apparently stands for Really Simple Syndication, though there is some debate about that) is a technology for capturing news headlines and summaries of stories, or their first few sentences, from websites. A site that offers these headlines is said to be providing news "feeds" to those who ask for them. The advantage of such syndication is that you can scan many headlines quickly, and open in your browser only the ones you really want to read.

Using NetNewsWire, I found I could get news from dozens of sources every day and thereby keep myself informed on pretty much everything I am interested in. For me the most exciting features of NetNewsWire were two: first, I could set the frequency with which I wanted to check my sites for new items, as often as every half-hour; and second, I could organize my sites in folders. Pretty soon I had a Technology folder, a Macintosh folder, a News folder, a Culture folder, a Literature folder, a Christianity folder, and so on.

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Facebook devolves into dark web of anonymous hate speech, Mike Adams, NaturalNews.com

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  • Facebook has, for reasons you'll soon see, brought out the worst in many people, devolving into a tangled web of anonymous hate speech directed to anything and everything within reach.
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  • How Facebook became a hate engine
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  • How Facebook Betrayed Users and Undermined Online Privacy
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  • Write Congress Through Facebook!
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Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science That Makes Life Dismal ~ Moshe Adler

Filled with lively examples—from food riots in Indonesia to eminent domain in Connecticut, and everyone from Adam Smith to Jeremy Bentham to Larry Summers—Economics for the Rest of Us shows how today’s dominant economic theories evolved, how they explicitly favor the rich over the poor, and why they’re not the only or best options. Written for anyone with an interest in understanding contemporary economic thinking—and why it is dead wrong—Economics for the Rest of Us offers a foundation for a fundamentally more equal economic system.

Chat with Moshe Adler about his new book, hosted by Max Fraad Wolff, Progressive Reader

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"In this brilliant eye opener, Moshe Adler shows how more than a century ago the man-made concepts of economics were transformed from egalitarian concern with the welfare of everyone into analytical tools biased in favor of the rich. With clarity, and in language any educated person can grasp, Adler shows how economics largely abandoned concern with how economic efficiency is affected by distribution of resources and equality in favor of precepts that favor concentration of wealth and income."
—David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Free Lunch and Perfectly Legal

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Why do contemporary economists consider food subsidies in starving countries, rent control in rich cities, and health insurance everywhere "inefficient"? Why do they feel that corporate executives deserve no less than their multimillion-dollar "compensation" packages and workers no more than their meager wages? Here is a lively and accessible debunking of the two elements that make economics the "science" of the rich: the definition of what is efficient and the theory of how wages are determined. The first is used to justify the cruelest policies, the second grand larceny.

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Excerpt: Economics for the Rest of Us by Moshe Adler, Progressive Reader
Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science That Makes Life Dismal
By Moshe Adler
Introduction
Professors of introductory economics are fond of telling their students about the eternal quest for a one-handed economist who would not be able to say, “On the other hand . . .” Is the recession about to end? Economists always [...]

Book Discussion: Economics for the Rest of Us by Moshe Adler, Progressive Reader
A masterful and wonderfully accessible book that does for economics what Howard Zinn did for American history—Freakonomics crossed with The Tipping Point. 
Why do contemporary economists consider food subsidies in starving countries, rent control in rich cities, and health insurance everywhere “inefficient”? Why do they feel that corporate executives deserve no less than their multimillion-dollar “compensation” [...]

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Playing With Teen Sex Statistics: A Lesson in Lies

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If most high school kids aren’t having sex yet, that means that it’s that much more important to get them good sex education, so when they start having sex---and statistics overwhelmingly show that they will---they know how to make healthy choices.

Amanda Marcotte,  RHRealityCheck.org

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There are many goofy aspects to this Life Site News story arguing that because a slim majority of teenagers don’t have sex, we don’t need to teach them about contraceptive methods. Perhaps the most puzzling is why they came out with the story on July 14th, since the report came out a month and a half ago. (In classic Life Site fashion, they don’t actually link the report, for fear that a stray reader may actually read it an clue into the fact that their spin is dishonest.) Did it take the American Life League (ALL) this long to craft a response? If so, you’d expect them to come up with something less transparently silly than this:

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ALL says that the CDC report, entitled “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Child Bearing, National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG),” debunks Planned Parenthood’s constant mantra that most teens will not abstain. In particular the pro-life organization points to the words of Planned Parenthood Federation of America vice president of medical affairs, Vanessa Cullens, from a YouTube video directed toward teens: “Admit that you are a sexually active individual like most of us, and that you are going to have sex and that you need to take precautions in order to stay healthy.”

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Don't Try These GOP Alibis at Home

Not all Americans are equal. Some are so powerful and important that if they ever find themselves in a tight pinch, they can expect an “investigation” to turn logic on its head to establish their “innocence.”

Robert Parry, Consortium News

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editoir Thomas Sklarski

In the world where most of us live, these “alibis” would not be considered very effective and indeed might make you look guiltier. The investigators also might get offended, thinking that you regard them as very stupid. [For the full details on these alibis, see “The Crazy October Surprise Debunking.”]

However, in Official Washington when the political desire is strong to get rid of some messy scandal, alibis of this sort will do just fine, as they did in dispensing with the nasty allegations that Ronald Reagan's campaign sabotaged President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to free 52 American hostages in Iran, a failure that paved the way for Reagan’s historic landslide in 1980.

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Crisis. What Crisis? Profits Soar!

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  • "From the first quarter of this year, corporate profits have shot up between twenty to over a hundred percent."
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  • The jobs emergency
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  • The Forgotten Foreclosure Crisis
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James Petras, Axis of Logic

While progressives and leftists write about the “crises of capitalism”, manufacturers, petroleum companies, bankers and most other major corporations on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific coast are chuckling all the way to the bank.

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From the first quarter of this year, corporate profits have shot up between twenty to over a hundred percent, (Financial Times August 10, 2010, p. 7).  In fact, corporate profits have risen higher than they were before the onset of the recession in 2008 (Money Morning March 31, 2010).  Contrary to progressive bloggers the rates of profits are rising not falling, particularly among the biggest corporations (Consensus Economics, August 12, 2010).  The buoyancy of corporate profits is directly a result of the deepening crises of the working class, public and private employees and small and medium size enterprises.

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The jobs emergency, Robert Reich, Robert Reich

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  • Twelve thousand new jobs in July -- when 125,000 are needed monthly just to keep up with population growth, when more than 15 million Americans are out of work, and when more than a half-million more state and local jobs are on the chopping block.
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  • Predictably, Washington's latest rescue effort falls woefully short
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  • U.S. Experiencing Worst Episode of Prolonged Unemployment Since Great Depression
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  • An aid package to the states to prevent layoffs was funded by cutting the federal food stamp program.
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The Forgotten Foreclosure Crisis, Think Progress

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  • Without more intervention, the housing market will continue its 'slow motion' adjustment that will continue to inhibit economic growth and drag down consumer spending.
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  • Foreclosures Rise with Unemployment
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  • Homeowners' Rebellion: Could 62 Million Homes Be Foreclosure-Proof?
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The 'Professional Right' Goes Unchallenged by 'Amateur Left' in the White House

Keith Olbermann Special Comment, Countdown, MSNBC, in Common Dreams

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In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann explains to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that while his frustration is understandable, it is more appropriately directed at the “professional right” and at the Obama administration itself for throwing out so many principles in an effort to compromise with an unwilling partner.

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Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance ~ Alexander Zaitchik

How we, as progressives, engage with a population that yearns for this non-existent version of America, particularly when so many of our citizens are in economic crisis, is something that Common Nonsense can at least begin to help us with. Glenn Beck and his appeal, no matter how ridiculous we may find it, is most certainly real. This sensational book is a great place to start exploring the phenomenon.

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Book review by Susan Gardner, Daily Kos

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Glenn Beck, perhaps more than any other figure on the conservative right, presents a dilemma for movement progressives: Is it bad politics for us to take him seriously? Are we merely giving him more oxygen by giving him attention, feeding his popularity by highlighting his extremism? Is fact-checking his numerous distortions and outright lies worth the effort? Surely, we think, anyone rational can see his buffoonery, and those who would be convinced by any fact check already are not believing him. And yet his camp followers won’t be switching any allegiances based on anything Media Matters—or, for that matter, neutral traditional media outlets--debunks. So what’s the point?

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Well, the main point for journalist Alexander Zaitchik in his excellent critical biography Common Nonsense, is that Beck is tying into a dark side of America that’s been with us for a long, long time, combining the fan-flaming of Elmer Gantry and Billy Sunday with the mushy, god-based, red-white-and-blue streak of reactionarianism that rejects modernism and embraces an America that never, ever was. It’s not so much Beck's getting history so very wrong that is so disturbing—it’s that so many Americans are eagerly egging him on, seemingly begging to be brought into his Very American Fantasy.

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