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Jack Rasmus invites back union veteran guests he has interviewed over the past year for a roundtable discussion of ‘what can be done’ by union labor to break out of its strategic impasse of organizing-membership decline, collective  bargaining, and political action. Jack provides a brief recap of Unions’ decline in membership, bargaining ineffectiveness, and political results in recent decades, and then turns the discussion over to union veterans to share their views’ on specifics on what should be done to reverse the strategic dead end for union labor today.  Jack welcomes union veterans, with more than four decades of experience each: Steve Early, of the Communications Workers of America, Greg Shotwell of the United Autoworkers, and Jerry Gordon, of the United Food & Commercial Workers. They join together in a lively discussion of how union labor might resurrect itself, starting at the grass roots, by engaging in new ways of organizing, of bargaining, and new initiatives in independent political action.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus reviews his predictions for the US and global economy made June 2013 in ‘Z’ magazine, and makes new predictions for the US and global economy for the coming 12 months.  Review of 2013-14 include forecasts for recessions, US Federal Reserve policy, US tax legislation, housing recovery, manufacturing, jobs and wages, Europe’s bank and debt crises, China GDP, global trade, Japan’s ‘Abenomics’ policy introduction, the convergence of capitalist policy worldwide, and the Ukraine economy (made in early 2013). For the coming year: Federal Reserve interest rates, US tax cuts,  US stock and junk bond markets, Europe’s Central Bank and QE, Euro banking instability, wage compression and austerity policy in Europe, China stimulus, currency and challenges to the USA,the future of Japan’s ‘Abenomics and instability in Emerging Market economies

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Dr. Jack Rasmus interviews Mark Dudzic, National Coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer HealthCare (aka Medicare for All), on the recently re-energized and growing national movement for Single Payer-National Healthcare. As the problems with Obamacare grow increasingly obvious—i.e. renewed double digit insurance premium hikes, excessive deductibles, limited coverage of insured (only 8 million of 50 million covered to date), corporate exemptions, insufficient subsidies, destruction of union-employer health plans, continued business ‘gaming’ of the system, etc.—the alternative of a National Health Care Solution similar to Medicare is gaining more attention and support throughout the USA. Jack and Mark discuss the new strategic shift emerging for the movement, to be discussed and debated at the upcoming national strategy conference of labor and community groups meeting to forge new national strategies and tactics next Saturday, August 22, in Oakland, California.  Mark provides a detail explanation of the movement today, including efforts to establish Single Payer in Vermont and elsewhere today, as well as new plans and initiatives by labor and community organizations to promote Single Payer-Medicare for All.  Jack explains the significant cost advantages of Single Payer-Medicare compared to both the current Obamacare program and to right wing further privatization solutions proposed by conservatives, Paul Ryan and others.  As problems with Obamacare become more evident, without Single Payer as an alternative, Rasmus argues, even more pro-corporate solutions will be substituted for Obamacare after 2016.  Those interested in the upcoming August 22-24 Oakland conference, see the conference website, www.healthcare-now.org.  For more information on the Single Payer movement nationally, www.laborforsinglepayer.org,  and www.pnhp.org.   


Mark Dudzic is National Coordinator for the Labor Campaign for Single Payer since 2009. He has been a union activist for 30 years, President of the local union 149 of the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers, and president of its district council. Mark was also a leading figure promoting the formation of a US Labor Party that was launched by the OCAW in the 1990s.
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Dr. Jack Rasmus takes a detailed look behind the numbers for the advance release last week of the US 2nd Quarter GDP.  Is the economy really growing at a 4% annual rate, after having fallen -2.9% in the first quarter 2014?  How much of the US GDP numbers are due to statistical redefinitions and revisions converging this summer? And how much is due to ‘real’ trends?  Why is the US GDP now becoming so volatile, with big swings quarter to quarter—which nonetheless average out to a subpar historical 1.8% or so growth rate long term?  Dr. Rasmus looks at the main determining categories of US GDP over the past 12 months, in addition to the most recent 2nd quarter 2014. He concludes big swings in business inventories, consumer credit based spending (especially for auto securitized subprime loans) and volatile ups and downs in government spending and net exports lay behind the continuing ‘stop-go’ of the US economy.  Big swings in business inventory investment, in anticipation of consumer spending recovery that proves quickly unsustainable, accounts for much of the GDP volatility over the past year—not the weather.  Explanations why inventory investment, US exports, household durable goods consumption, and local government spending that occurred in the 2nd quarter will not be sustained going forward are offered.

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 ‘Dr. Jack Rasmus welcomes guests, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, to discuss whether the US Empire today is growing weaker or stronger (or both). Jack provides background on the dimensions of US Empire today—economically, politically, and military—explaining how the US rules globally differently today than classical empires of the past. The US Empire’s network of multinational corporations, global economic institutions (IMF, World Bank, $ as world currency, G7, central bankers, shadow banks, etc.), political institutions (UN Security council, , and military alliances (NATO, US-Japan, US-Israel, etc.) and the US’s 1000+ military bases and outposts around the world are described, as well as more recent US development of new methods of surveillance, security apparatuses, and technologies for protest and crowd control. Guests Zeese & Flowers argue the US Empire’s increasing aggressiveness and violence in recent decades are indications of its growing weakness, not strength, as challenges to it mount worldwide. Events today in the Ukraine, Middle East, and Asia are discussed as points of resistance to empire outside the US. Recent events by China and the BRICS to establish a new ‘global development bank’ and bypass the US dollar in trade, as well as events in Latin America, are also noted as examples of growing resistance to Empire. The impact of Empire on the deterioration of USA democracy and 1st amendment rights at home are also addressed by Zeese & Flowers, who identify points of resistance to Empire growing within the US.   

For more information concerning US based resistance to Empire, listeners are referred to the websites: popularresistance.org, rolllingrebellion.org, and to Zeeze & Flowers’ latest article on the Alternet.org blog, ‘Why Resistance is Growing to the US Empire’.  

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are hosts of ‘Clearing the Fog’ radio (ClearingtheFogRadio.org) , members of the Green Shadow Cabinet (greenshadowcabinet.org), long time Washington DC area activists in the Occupy movement, and organizers of the blogs, Resistance.Org and ItsOurEconomy.US, that report on grass roots movements of resistance and opposition to attacks on democracy and inequality trends in the USA today.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus welcomes guest, Ali Issa, of the War Resisters League, to discuss the growing militarization of police forces in the USA today.  What exactly is meant by ‘militarization’ of police vs. traditional policing activity is discussed—in terms of police use of military tactics, military weapons, and the growing ‘warrior mindset’ and psychology of police forces. The role of the US federal government in centralizing, coordinating, providing free military equipment, and increasingly funding local police forces, as well as the role of private corporations participating in the trend, in promoting police militarization are additionally discussed.  Ali Issa explains the now expanding ‘Urban Shield’ government program now growing throughout the USA. Rasmus discusses the recently released ACLU report on police militarization in the USA, and asks if there is today also a trend toward ‘privatization’ of police forces as well, as in the US Military, as police agencies refuse to provide information about their militarization trend by claiming their new cross-city coordinating bodies formed under Urban Shield are not government agencies (as the Boston area NEMLEC is doing) and therefore don’t need to provide information to the public.  The consequences and outcomes of militarization of police in terms of violation of civil liberties, property destruction, rising personal injuries, and its disproportionate impact on communities of people of color, are described by Issa, as is the growing International trend of police militarization, as police globally share experiences how to militarily control crowds and public protests.   Ali Issa is National Field organizer for the War Resisters League and Co-Coordinator for the ‘Facing Teargas Campaign’.

For more information on the topic of militarization of police in the USA, Urban Shield, NEMLEC, go to warresisters.org, facingteargas.org, and ACLU.org.

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Jack Rasmus invites guest, Chris Silvera, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 808 in New York City, to discuss the current struggle of New York City’s Long Island railroad (LIRR) workers for decent wages and benefits and their possible strike on July 20 that could shut down New York City, stranding 700,000 commuters into the city from the Long Island and the ‘Metro North’ rail-lines. Jack comments how the LIRR negotiations today are a microcosm of management’s successful anti-labor core bargaining strategy of the past 20 years: i.e. a strategy in which previously hired workers are given token wage increases just sufficient to pay for rising health care premiums, deductibles and copays—while new hires and younger workers’ wages are reduced and their healthcare cost contributions are raised. Chris explains management’s latest proposal to LIRR workers—who haven’t had a wage increase in 5 years—is a 2% annual wage increase for current hires, to pay for their rising out of pocket healthcare costs, while new hires will have wages cut 4% and their benefit contributions increased another 4%.  LIRR unions and workers vow to break the 20 year pattern of making new, younger workers pay for existing members token wage gains and benefits maintenance, in what promises to be an important effort to break from the past. Meanwhile, railroad workers appeals to Democratic Party politicians in the city, to New York governor, Cuomo, and to Democrats in Congress to intervene are being ignored, as politicians run the other way revealing the ‘dead end’ of labor’s political strategy of recent decades.   


In the second half of the show, Chris and Jack discuss how the LIRR negotiations represent a bigger picture of the growing ineffectiveness of traditional union strategies—both bargaining and political. Chris notes a new kind of ‘McCarthyism’ prevailing in unions today, where militant and radical rank and file workers no longer run local unions and have been replaced by what he calls ‘staffism and intellectuals’.  Jack discusses the ‘legal web’ that has arisen in recent decades that has given national and regional union leaders excessive legal and political intervention power over local unions, and how the power and independence of local unions must be restored and raise if change is to occur. Jack concludes that restoration will require,however, structural change and new organizational forms at the local union level.
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Jack Rasmus welcomes long time immigrant justice journalists, David Bacon and Alexandra Early, to discuss the latest issue in immigrant rights: the surge of 50,000 plus children across the US southern border. Having deported 2 million immigrants already in the past five years, the Obama administration is now requesting another $2 billion for more deportations, as an initial response to the ‘children immigration’ issue. What will happen to tens of thousands of children immigrants now—more detention camps in the US; more dumping of kids back across the US-Mexican border to fend for themselves? In the first half hour of the show Alexandra Early, who has lived in central America for years and has been active politically both in the US and central America, discusses the real conditions behind the exodus of children to the US, desperate to leave poverty, crime and political oppression, as a follow up to her widely read recent article on the topic. Alexandra explains how US economic and political policies are much of the root cause of rising children immigration to the US.  David Bacon, in the show’s second half hour, then provides his excellent political analysis of what’s behind the latest politicization of the ‘children immigration’ issue US. Bacon explains the origins of the children immigration issue that has recently gained attention in the US press, in recent right wing and US Teaparty political maneuvers in the last few weeks, designed to scuttle even the weak immigration reforms that have been proposed by the Obama administration.  David and Jack then discuss the likely further response of Obama to the renewed right wing pressure and maneuvering on immigration—i.e. a more intense deportations and incarceration of children in the short run in coming weeks, followed by promises of ‘more humane’ immigration policy changes ‘later’—post November midterm elections.  

 
Guest Alexandra Early worked for four years in El Salvador as Co-coordinator for the solidarity organization U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities (elsalvadorsolidarity.org). Prior to that, Ms. Early represented nursing home workers in the Bay Area with the National Union of Healthcare Workers. A Latin American Studies graduate from Wesleyan University, Ms. Early has written extensively on U.S. foreign policy in Central America and is a volunteer campaign coordinator for the Richmond Progressive Alliance. David Bacon is a long time immigrants rights activist in the US and Central America, a well known journalist on immigrant and labor rights since the 1970s, an author, and an award winning photo-journalist whose work on immigrants rights and Hispanic workers in the US and Latin America has been recognized  internationally.  (Visit the blogs, Znet and Counterpunch, for Alexandra’s and David’s most recent reporting on the children border issue).
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Dr. Jack Rasmus continues his analysis of the growing influence and instability in the global shadow banking system, including a look at the major role being played by shadow banks in China today. Rasmus explains how shadow banks have been behind the historic $5 trillion in China municipal and provincial real estate (commercial, residential, industrial) debt boom since 2008 and China currency speculation. Rasmus provides a deeper historical analysis of shadow banks in US depressions since the 1830s, and the parallels with China today.  Continuing a key point from last week, its not just the shadow banks as institutions, but the ultra high net worth investors globally—the new financial global elite—that are behind the new financial instability building in the global financial system again. Shadow banks + Ultras + proliferating liquid financial asset markets and securities traded in these markets are at the heart of the next debt-deflation-default nexus. Rasmus concludes arguing that money capital flows in a capitalist system cannot be effectively regulated long term, and that’s why financial crises keep returning. The bigger the liquidity explosion, the greater the debt and financial speculation, and the more frequent and greater magnitude the financial crises.  Dr. Rasmus concludes the show with an indepth look at the composition of the just announced -2.9% decline in first quarter US GDP, and debunks the mainstream view that the -2.9% was due to the ‘weather’ and that the US economy and GDP will soon ‘snap back’ with a 4%-5% GDP growth rate, as now touted in the mainstream business press. Jack shows how business inventories, net exports, and consumer spending will continue to fare poorly, or modestly at best, in coming quarters—and that the US economy will continue its ‘stop-go’ economic trajectory that is characteristic of an epic recession and its aftermath.

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“Dr. Jack Rasmus reviews the growing role and influence of shadow banks in the global financial system, amidst recent growing concern in official circles of the need for their regulation and control to avoid another even deeper financial crash in the future.  Rasmus addresses the recent editorial of Mark Carney, chair of the UK’s central bank, the Bank of England, last week on the need to quickly regulate the shadow banking system, and the daily feature stories in the global financial paper, The Financial Times, on shadow banks following Carney’s editorial. Dr. Rasmus argues that “money capital is like water flowing downhill” and cannot be regulated in the long run”.  Jack documents the explosion in liquidity and investible financial assets in the global shadow banking system since the 1960s and since the crash of 2008 in particular, and explains the fundamental linkage between the new global financial elite—the global high net worth individual investors(HNWIs)—and the shadow banks as their now preferred investing institutions as they shift their wealth recently from traditional banks to the shadow sector.  Referring to recent reports by the Boston Consulting Group and Capgemini, Jack shows how investible assets of HNWIs and the shadow banks have grown faster since 2008 than during the decade preceding the crash of 2008. While global total private wealth has risen by more than $40 trillion, from $111 trillion in 2008 to more than $152 trillion today, the top 200,000 HNWIs share has risen even faster and now exceeds $53 trillion.  Jack explains how the growing concentration and acceleration of liquid, investible assets within the HNWIs and Shadow banks is building the preconditions for another, perhaps even greater, financial crash, as debt-leverage based investing and securitization grows again.  Jack notes that Bank of England Carney’s recent editorial represents a growing awareness among central bankers that their influence over the shadow banking system may be eroding even further than pre-2008, laying the ground for even greater central banks’ difficulty in re-stabilizing the global capitalist system in the event of another crash.”

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