By Bruce A. Dixon for Black Agenda Report – If politics is the art of the possible, what do supposedly progressive politicians and political organizations fight for after they decide that jobs, justice and peace are impossible? Do they fight for their positions and prerogatives? For the biggest campaign contributions? It’s not hard to tell who is on the side of the people. There are after all, bright lines. Last week Physicians for a National Health Care Plan released a press statement declaring the Republican plan to replace Obamacare “a re-branded and far meaner version” of the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act. This ought to raise a pertinent question: If all Republicans have to do is “re-brand” and tweak Obamacare, was it really much good to start with?
By Dom Phillips for The Guardian – Brazil’s senate has passed a controversial spending cap that will limit public spending to inflation for the next 20 years, despite protests across the country against the measure. The spending cap, known as PEC 55, will now be signed off on 15 December. Its approval was seen as vital for the beleaguered government of centrist President Michel Temer who took over from the leftist Dilma Rousseff, after a divisive, eight-month impeachment process was concluded in August. Temer has staked his government’s credibility on measures to reduce public spending…
By Staff for Telesur. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in San Juan Wednesday to block the first scheduled conference on the installation of a financial control board to remedy Puerto Rico’s crippling debt crisis but slammed by critics as an anti-democratic, neo-colonial policy that will redistribute wealth from the island nation to Wall Street. Demonstrators formed protests lines and blocked roads with rocks and bricks to disrupt the conference at San Juan’s Condado Plaza Hilton. They carried signs and shouted slogans against the federal control board, whose authority will supercede that of Puerto Rico’s democratically-elected governor, effectively handing budgetary decision-making over to unelected appointees, many of them bankers. The U.S. law creating the control board, known by its acronym PROMESA, grants the oversight panel the power to cut pensions, labor contracts with civil servants, and social services, to restructure its US$73 billion debt load. Despite lines of riot police and occasional use of pepper spray, the protests managed to block conference-goers on their way to the venue and forced organizers to re-arrange the meeting agenda, local media reported.
By Kristen Steele for Local Futures. United Kingdom – When I woke up on June 24th and checked the news, I cried. Along with millions of people around the world. I’m a diehard believer in independence, freedom, democracy, and strong local economies. For some, the Brexit result represented those things. If that had been the reality, I would’ve supported it too. But like every other choice offered in the global economy these days, Brexit was a false one. Getting out of Europe does nothing to address the real problems in UK society—or the world. We’re still headed down the same destructive path together, but now more fractious and divided than ever. My colleague Lawrence Bloom summed it up perfectly: the referendum was like choosing between cabins on the Titanic.
By Michael Hudson for Counterpunch. The media in the United States have treated the British vote against remaining in the European Union (EU) as if it is populist “Trumpism,” an inarticulate right-wing vote out of ignorance at being left behind by the neoliberal economic growth policy. The fact that Donald Trump happened to be in Scotland to promote his golf course helped frame the U.S. story that depicts the Brexit vote as a “Trump vs. Hillary” psychodrama – populist anger and resentment vs. intelligent policy. What is left out of this picture is that there is a sound logic to oppose membership in the EU. It is Nigel Farage’s slogan, “Take Back Control.” The question is, from whom? Not only from “bureaucrats,” but from the pro-bank, anti-labor rules written into the eurozone’s Lisbon and Maastricht treaties. The real problem is not merely that bureaucrats are making the laws, but the kind of laws they are making: pro-bank, anti-labor austerity. Tax and public spending policy has been taken out of the hands of national governments and turned over to the banking centers. They insist on austerity and scaling back pensions and social spending programs.
By Raphael Godechot for thekashmirwalla.com. On 24 February 2016, journalist François Ruffin released his first film, ‘Merci Patron’ (Thanks Boss). A refreshing documentary in which he takes on the challenge to bring financial reparation to a couple of factory workers from North of France. Both were dismissed after the textile factory they were working for got relocated to Poland, in order to find cheap labour. His plan is to get the CEO of the group, the billionaire Bernard Arnault, who owns the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy textile company, to compensate them. The film takes a comic tone to a sadly common issue of exploited and easily replaceable under-qualified low-paid labour. After numerous upheaval, the couple wins. The company agrees to give them 40,000 euros and a permanent contract is even offered at a supermarket to the man of the couple. However, there is a special condition.
By Brynne Keith-Jennings for Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. United States – Across the country, food banks and other organizations that serve the needy are preparing for long lines as childless adults begin losing SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits due to the return in over 20 states of a three-month time limit for able-bodied adults. Federal law limits adults aged 18-49 who aren’t raising minor children to three months of SNAP out of every three years unless they’re working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a job training program at least 20 hours a week. More than half a million people will lose SNAP over the course of the year due to the time limit. The time limit is “going to increase hunger among some of the most vulnerable Mississippians,” says Matt Williams of the Mississippi Center for Justice.
By George Monbiot. It’s as if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name.
By Common Dreams Staff. A protest calling on David Cameron to resign has brought more than 150,000 people onto the streets of London on Saturday afternoon. The March for Health, Homes, Jobs and Education was organized by activist group the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. The demonstrators called for an end to austerity, and demanded that David Cameron quit over the Panama Papers revelation that he profited from his father’s offshore investment fund. People’s Assembly National Secretary Sam Fairbairn said: “The Tories are increasingly out of touch with the reality of life for most people. Every time they say ‘we all in it together’ it’s another slap round the face of millions of people. The revelations that have unfolded with the ‘Panama Papers’ show the super-rich hiding their wealth in tax havens on an industrial scale. This means they avoid taxes that would pay for all the social benefits that are currently under attack and people are understandably angry.”
By Laura Flanders for the Laura Flanders Show. The teachers sent out pictures of something that’s had a hard time getting seen: the social cost of austerity.The teachers secured attention from at least one national candidate – Hillary Clinton who pointed out such conditions wouldn’t be tolerated in more affluent places. Majority Republicans in Michigan’s Legislature threatened new laws to make it easier to crack down on protesting workers. We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, it’s worth reviewing how the Detroit schools got into such a fix. The system wasn’t always broke. According to analysis by the Citizens Research Council, a Michigan based policy group, the Detroit schools were enjoying a surplus in the 1990s. Now, 41 cents of every dollar appropriated for students is being spent on servicing city debt.