Q&A on Greece

On Sunday, 5 July, voters in Greece will head to the polls on an utterly unique referendum on a proposed bailout. The process is non binding, the question itself is strange, and the consequences of it are completely unknown.

What does any of it mean? The short answer is that Greece, and all of Europe, are in completely uncharted territory at this point. The five year crisis has gone from slow simmer to a full boil in the hot summer sun. Greece is calling Europe’s bluff, and Europe is not backing down.  The only thing we can be sure of is that there will be a resolution shortly, one way or the other. What exactly that means is itself completely up in the air as well.

Here are a few questions and answers on the Greek Crisis based on a variety of news sources.  Follow the links for more information in each question.

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Scalia Scowls – Take Notice

The Supreme Court has released a number of opinions, and it’s been a tough week for conservatives. Most of the focus has been on the big political fights – federal subsidy for state “Obamacare” exchanges was upheld and marriage equity is the law of the land in all fifty states. It was the latter that gave us the most blistering dissent from Justice Scalia:

“A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy,” he wrote in one of the more coherent statements in his dissent.

But another ruling, striking down part of the Federal “Three Strikes” law, illustrates judicial activism even more clearly. All of this begs the question as to where Scalia’s logic was in the “Citizens United” ruling in 2012 that declared corporations to be people, too. There is judicial activism, yes, but it’s more about filling in the gaps left by years of a completely dysfunctional Congress. Someone has to be the adults – even one branch of government has to endure Scalia’s sometimes childish ranting.

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Glory, Hallelujah!

The Rebel Flag still flies in front of the South Carolina Statehouse. I’ve been slow to comment on this despite being very passionate about the issue as a Son of the New South for one simple reason – this is playing out in a very complex and different way this time. Change may be coming, and Dixie may finally be gone with the wind.

When Dylann Roof opened fire in Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, he was hoping to start a new Civil War, according to his manifesto. It seems that in some ways he did, and like the last Civil War 150 years back the result appears to be the same – a society built on the twin pillars of oppression and privilege must fall. The victims’ families, like the truest of Christians, forgave his actions but around them a movement has grown to insure that what Jon Stewart called the “racist wallpaper” is taken down, encouraging no one to follow suit.
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A New Democratic Platform

Robert Reich is a great leader in the Democratic Party.  After serving as Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997 he became a fixture in thoughtful magazines, speeches, and talk shows.  He is currently a Chancellor’s Professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UCal, Berkeley.

Reich has recently collaborated with moveon.org to create a series of short videos describing “The Big Picture” – things which need to be done to transform our economy into a more dynamic, fair, and productive new economy for a post-depression world.  Taken together, I believe these make up a new platform for the Democratic Party which must be a central organizing piece for the elections in 2016.

Whether or not you agree with Reich, he and this platform are a force to be reckoned with.

Since I have yet to see them presented together in one place as a coherent work, I have taken the liberty of doing so myself.  Each item is presented here with the title as a link to the original post on Reich’s blog, with the short video above it.  Please follow the links for more information in Reich’s own words.

Initially, this project was billed as “Ten Ideas to Save the Economy”.  There are now 12 videos in the series, branching out a bit into political reform.  If there are more they will be added later.

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Pop Inspiration

The tidbits of popular inspiration roll through twitter and facebook in a nearly constant stream.  You want your stuff retweeted or shared through the networks?  Come up with a bit of folk enlightenment, maybe put it into a jpg pic as a “meme” (a horrible mis-use of that word!).  Keep it simple – a quick saying or maybe a set of “tips” devoid of heavy philosophy that could wear down a bizzy day.  It could be a Bible verse or a simple admonishment to be a more decent person.

There’s nothing wrong with this sort of stuff, and it probably has been present throughout the history of human interaction.  But the volume and popularity of these sorts of things leads me to wonder if there isn’t a hunger for spirituality and connection that is missing from the ordinary grind of the day.  There appears to be a missing presence in the moment, a sense that ghosts float past our conscience whispering a calling to be a better part of the world.
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TPP: A Slow Death?

Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. It sounds like a great idea on the surface of it – lower trade barriers and require trade partners to improve working conditions in developing nations. There’s only one problem with it – no one knows what it is. That’s partly due to it being negotiated in secret and partly due to the fact that the negotiations are not done.

But many are against it for a wide array of reasons that span left and right. On the right, there is a good chance the sovereignty of the US will be diminished based on treaty obligations that, based on discussion, reach very far. On the left there seems to be yet another assault on good US jobs. And that secrecy? There are rumors that it will remain secret long after the treaty is passed.

It’s time to take a step back and sort out what TPP is and what is actually true about it.

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Part Time Work, Revisited

Are you not working a full 40 hours a week, though you would like to? A solid 4.1% of all workers report that they are, in technical terms, “Part Time for Economic Reasons”, which is to say that they’d jump at the chance for a full time job but don’t have one yet. It’s a decent improvement from the 5.3% in this position two years ago, when we last looked at the problem, but it’s still not good.

Worse, the San Francisco Federal Reserve, who studies the phenomenon, has come to believe that it’s a feature of the new economy.

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