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March 30 2009

Comparing the U.S. to Russia and Argentina - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

"So our political class cheers on treasury-draining wars, allows financial elites to rob and pillage, witnesses huge transfers of wealth to the richest, and then when the whole thing explodes, the "real fiscal answer" is for ordinary Americans to have their Medicare benefits "slashed" and Social Security benefits reduced."

Desmond Lachman -- Welcome to America, the World's Scariest Emerging Market - washingtonpost.com

"Like Argentina in its worst moments, we never seem to question whether it is reasonable to expect foreigners to keep financing our extravagance, and we forget the bad things that happen to the Argentinas or Hungarys of the world when foreigners stop financing their excesses. So instead of laying out a realistic plan for increasing our national savings, we choose not to face up to the Social Security and Medicare crises that lie ahead, embarking instead on massive spending programs that -- whatever their long-run merits might be -- we simply cannot afford."

March 22 2009

March 21 2009

Despair over financial policy - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com

" In effect, Treasury will be creating — deliberately! — the functional equivalent of Texas S&Ls in the 1980s: financial operations with very little capital but lots of government-guaranteed liabilities. For the private investors, this is an open invitation to play heads I win, tails the taxpayers lose. So sure, these investors will be ready to pay high prices for toxic waste. After all, the stuff might be worth something; and if it isn’t, that’s someone else’s problem. Or to put it another way, Treasury has decided that what we have is nothing but a confidence problem, which it proposes to cure by creating massive moral hazard."

AIG - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com

". I’ll leave to others the question of who knew or should have known that the bonus firestorm was coming; but it’s part of a pattern. At every stage, Geithner et al have made it clear that they still have faith in the people who created the financial crisis — that they believe that all we have is a liquidity crisis that can be undone with a bit of financial engineering, that “governments do a bad job of running banks” (as opposed, presumably, to the wonderful job the private bankers have done), that financial bailouts and guarantees should come with no strings attached. This was bad analysis, bad policy, and terrible politics. This administration, elected on the promise of change, has already managed, in an astonishingly short time, to create the impression that it’s owned by the wheeler-dealers. And that leaves it with no ability to counter crude populism."

Welcome to double-standard America: The AIG scandal has made it apparent that we are ruled by a government of men, not laws. | Salon

"Congressional Republicans have long supported laws letting bankruptcy courts annul mortgage contracts for vacation homes. Those statutes help shower-before-work clique at least retain beachside villas, no matter how many of their speculative Ponzi schemes go bad. But for those who shower after work, it's Adams-esque bromides against "absolving borrowers of their personal responsibility," as GOP announced it will oppose legislation permitting bankruptcy judges to revise mortgage contracts for primary residences. Certainly, for all the connotations of fairness inherent in American politics' "country of law" catchphrases, most of us know that the selective application of legal principles is as old as the Republic...lots of us are only now discovering that inequality is so pronounced that time of day we bathe determines enforcement & reliability of even most basic contracts...just realizing that for all parroting of America's 2nd president, we are ruled by a government of men, not laws."

Saffo: journal - Be Afraid When Cops Wear Masks -- and Crooks Don't

"picture below – the cops are hiding behind masks while the prisoner, Mexican Drug Lord Vicente Zambada, stands in calm defiance, showing his face to the cameras. As a forecaster, I look for “inversions” – events that turn the expected upside down – as powerful indicators that a fundamental shift is about to unfold. Zambada's image represents an inversion from a time when the bandits wore the masks, and the square-jawed cops proudly showed their faces to the world... This picture tells us that Mexico has become a place where the cops are fearful and the crooks are defiant, where the government is weak and the cartels are the innovators. It is an indicator that Mexico’s lurid drug war is merely prologue to something much bigger. Three years ago I wrote here that major social unrest – possibly a revolution-- in Mexico was no longer unthinkable. Zambada’s defiant profile suggests that the unthinkable is now frighteningly likely."

March 19 2009

March of Democracy

"Where has democracy dominated and where has it retreated? This map gives us a visual ballet of democracy's march across history as the most popular form of government. From the first ancient republics to the rise of self-governing nations, see the history of democracy: 4,000 years in 90 seconds...!"

March 17 2009

The success of drug decriminalization in Portugal - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

"In 2001, Portugal became the only EU-member state to decriminalize drugs, a distinction which continues through to the present. Last year, working with the Cato Institute, I went to that country in order to research the effects of the decriminalization law (which applies to all substances, including cocaine and heroin) and to interview both Portuguese and EU drug policy officials and analysts (the central EU drug policy monitoring agency is, by coincidence, based in Lisbon). Evaluating the policy strictly from an empirical perspective, decriminalization has been an unquestionable success, leading to improvements in virtually every relevant category and enabling Portugal to manage drug-related problems (and drug usage rates) far better than most Western nations that continue to treat adult drug consumption as a criminal offense."

March 13 2009

Do not rely on bankers | vox - Research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists

"There is another argument, implicit or explicit, for the nationalisation of banks; we can not trust bankers not to leave with the cash, let alone spend any of the assistance provided by the government in the public interest. Two recent studies that analyse the experience of recent years show that bankers will not hesitate to enrich themselves at the expense of the public if they have the opportunity."

February 27 2009

Read The Bill: Improve the legislative process by posting bills online for 72 hours before debate!

"Congress should change its rules to require that non-emergency legislation and conference reports be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before debate begins."

February 22 2009

slacktivist: 50 states

"That graphic demonstrates why those people going around saying things like "government is the problem" are either complete idiots or, at best, people who don't bother thinking things through with enough effort to avoid sounding like complete idiots. When they say "government is the problem" what they're really saying is "Having a state police force is the problem." Having a justice system is the problem. Having schools is the problem. Providing care for the indigent elderly and the physically or developmentally disabled is the problem. Public transportation is the problem. This is what they're saying, whether or not they care enough to realize that this is what they're saying. And what they're saying is indefensible and abysmally stupid."

February 13 2009

The Center for Urban Pedagogy

"CUP makes educational projects about places and how they change. Our projects bring together art and design professionals - artists, graphic designers, architects, urban planners - with community-based advocates and researchers - organizers, government officials, academics, service-providers and policymakers. These partners work with CUP staff to create projects ranging from high school curricula to educational exhibitions. Our work grows from a belief that the power of imagination is central to the practice of democracy, and that the work of governing must engage the dreams and visions of citizens. CUP believes in the legibility of the world around us. What can we learn by investigation? By learning how to investigate, we train ourselves to change what we see."

February 08 2009

A Broader, BOLDER Approach to Education | BoldApproach.org

"Nevertheless, there is solid evidence that policies aimed directly at education-related social and economic disadvantages can improve school performance and student achievement. The persistent failure of policymakers to act on that evidence — in tandem with a schools-only approach — is a major reason why the association between disadvantage and low student achievement remains so strong."

January 29 2009

PolitiFact | The Obameter: Tracking Barack Obama's Campaign Promises

"PolitiFact has compiled about 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on our Obameter. We rate their status as No Action, In the Works or Stalled. Once we find action is completed, we rate them Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken."

January 28 2009

Live Free or Drown: Floating Utopias on the Cheap

"Friedman and his followers are not the first band of wide-eyed dreamers to want to build floating utopias. For decades, an assortment of romantics and whack jobs have fantasized about fleeing the oppressive strictures of modern government and creating a laissez-faire society on the high seas. Over the decades, they've tried everything from fortified sandbars to mammoth cruise ships. Nearly all have been disasters. But the would-be nation builders assembled here are not intimidated by that record of failure. After all, their plans are inspired by the ethos of the modern tech industry, where grand quixotic visions are as common as BlackBerrys, and they see their task not as a holy mission but as something like a startup. A couple of software engineers came up with an innovative concept, then outsourced it to a community and let the wisdom of the crowd improve on it. They scored financing from a top-tier venture capitalist and assembled a board of directors."

January 23 2009

Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault « Learn Online

"WikiMedia Foundation, UNESCO, COL, OER all come to mind when Foucault finishes up with a caution on that we must not reinvent oppressive institutions. Such eloquence. Where did all that go?"

January 16 2009

LittleSis - LittleSis is an involuntary facebook of powerful Americans, collaboratively edited and maintained by people like you.

"It's easier than ever to spot the symptoms of corruption and cronyism in our political process. Ordinary Americans have never felt more shut out from all levels of government, more excluded from economic gains & more powerless to remedy the problems facing their communities & the world. Meanwhile, the powerful networks of individuals who've enjoyed unprecedented influence, wealth & access while steering our country towards its present crisis continue to elude responsibility in the public spotlight. We all know that the need for fundamental change is urgent. Americans everywhere are pushing back against a broken system that bankrupts and disempowers them. But to effectively push back, we have to study & document the social networks that have our democracy in a stranglehold. We have to expose the individuals & institutions that abuse their power to enrich themselves and their cronies...we have to make common cause & share this information freely."
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