(This article originally appeared in the San Jose Mercury News)
While America has always been a place where a person could get rich, it used to be that you got rich a bit more slowly, and everyone benefited in the process. This is because we used to have very high tax rates at the top.
A person could do very well, but income that came in above a certain level was highly taxed and used to pay for the teachers, police, courts and roads that enabled businesses to thrive. Just how high were taxes? During America's "golden years" of 1951-1963, tax rates were over 90 percent on income over $400,000. Then through the 1960s and 70s, they were 70 percent on income above $200,000.
This had many beneficial results — especially for the people who paid higher taxes. Back then, government could afford to invest in programs that improved everyone's standard of living, including health, knowledge and technology, all without borrowing.
(This article originally appeared at Guardian.co.uk )
It must be stated over and over again: the Fox News Channel is not a news channel.
It's a Republican party propaganda channel. As such, its first
amendment right to say whatever it likes ought to be protected, but not
its "right" to call itself "news". That's false advertising, and it
ought to be outlawed by whoever regulates such things.
Perhaps if they changed the name to the Republican News Channel (RNC for short), there would be no complaint. Until they do, however, they need to be called out by the rest of us for exactly what they are.
This article originally appeared at Landscape, Joanna Guldi's blog.
When the geographer Peter Gould sat down to write his autobiography in 1990, he looked over a career of mapping the perceptual spaces of Swedes, Tanzanians and college students. Over that life, he had repeatedly claimed that his major contribution to knowledge had been primarily in the service of the state. Gould was the man who figured out how to draw a picture of the version of the nation in a given individual’s head: ask the person to name all the cities they can in the United States; map those.
The results remind us that human beings live in worlds of constructed of personal experience, not in atlases.
It was naïve to imagine the United States would elect its first African American president and move instantly into an enlightened, post-racial era. It was naïve, or perhaps unduly hopeful. This sentiment was strong among the college-age youth I interviewed while reporting for MTV’s Street Team in Oregon, in March of last year. “He’s gonna save America,” one young man said of then-candidate Barack Obama, his eyes ablaze and earnest. He spoke of more than simply escaping the long, dark years under George W. Bush. He was talking of stepping into a new day in the United States, where all people are valued for their character and not their skin hue.
Young or not, the student I interviewed gave voice to a shape of thought many Americans share on some level: that this man can save us. That a figure can step onto the world stage and usher us into an incredible new day we want so very much to live in.
(This article originally appeared at Alternet.org)
Just minutes after noon, on January 20, 2009, "hope" arrived for Constitutionalists and supporters of its First Amendment. A slight, little-noticed, but exceedingly noteworthy paragraph appeared on the new Administration's White House website "Technology" page.
"Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media," the paragraph began, "promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum."
After more than a decade of private corporatization of virtually every inch of bandwidth across the public airwaves, a new day seemed to be dawning with a new Administration's indication that they might reverse years of cynical, self-serving mismanagement of the people's airwaves by a few, very large, very far-right leaning corporations who had been granted priceless government largesse in the form of broadcast licenses without the responsibility of serving the public interest in exchange.
"Hope" would be short lived. By summer, the paragraph had been quietly excised from the White House website without a trace, apology or even an explanation.
This article also appeared at Alternet.org
One curious consequence of the Democrats’ electoral triumph last year has been the rise of Glenn Beck, a right-wing populist whose daily ravings on Fox News have helped inspire the anti-government “tea party” rallies across the country. In a lot of ways, Beck’s popularity reflects the current emotional state of American conservatives.
When they ran the entire government just a few short years ago, it was fashionable for conservatives to tune into braying, overconfident bullies such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Now that they’re totally shut out, however, they’ve found solace in the conspiratorial and weepy Beck, who stokes their fears that shadowy elements within the government are plotting to end freedom as we know it.
The irony is that Beck is only really opposed to big government when Republicans aren’t controlling it.
The Nobel Committee's surprising announcement that it will award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama is a powerful testimonial to how much thoughtful people around the world appreciate Obama's basically progressive approach to foreign affairs.
The full citation reads: “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Last month, the world lost a Nobel laureate. In the many tributes following his death, Norman Borlaug was credited with saving more lives than any man in history. Borlaug’s legacy was the Green Revolution – bringing industrial agriculture to Mexico, India, and Pakistan. Pesticides, ammonia fertilizer, irrigation, and hybrid seeds resulted in a predictable outcome: lush green fields full of high-yielding crops. At last, mankind had the tools at its fingertips to overcome hunger.
And yet, hunger has not been banished from the developing world, or even the developed world. Four decades after the Green Revolution the world produces enough food to feed everybody, and yet an estimated billion people are hungry. In his last year, Borlaug joined policy makers in calling for a “Second Green Revolution.” While a global effort to stamp out hunger is needed, a repeat of the first Green Revolution is a bad idea.
The unsustainable technologies that produced the first Green Revolution are just that – unsustainable.
This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle
One hears: "Why should I have to pay for health care for people who don't take care of themselves?"
Nothing defines the difference between the world views of the conservative right versus the progressive left more: the idea that individuals are solely responsible for themselves versus believing we have a shared responsibility for the communities and societies in which we live.
Progressives would agree with conservatives that our personal failures and successes are determined by how we've applied our blessings or faced our trials within this life. But progressives recognize that our personal achievement also depends on powerful factors like our inherent luck, the support we have from those around us and the benefits provided by our communities. We see access to affordable health care in this light.
A recent CNN/OpinionResearch poll found that 41% of all Americans still believe that the current House health insurance reform bill contains language mandating death panels. This is despite pervasive publicity that it is not true and that death panels actually refer to an insurance company and HMO practice called reduction of medical ratio (I know- an HMO tried to do it to my mother in law when she had cancer).These kinds of denial of reality seem to a phenomenon that afflicts the Right when a Democrat is in office and which, for lack of a better term, I will call the conspiracy theory fall-back position or CTFP.