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‘Dr. Rasmus interviews Staughton Lynd, long time oral histories labor historian, as part of the Alternative Vision show’s continuing focus on the subject: ‘Are US Unions At a Strategic Impasse’? Lynd recounts his oral history interviews with union activists and local leaders in the 1930s-40s and their warnings on the limits of Labor’s then developing strategies that have since become the norm for the past 75 years—i.e. industrial, bargaining, organizing, and political strategies that now appear in recent years to have exhausted their potential for advancing workers’ wages, benefits, and standard of living in the 21st century. Both Jack and Lynd discuss the  broad ‘legal web’ that has developed the past half century that today have effectively neutralized and defeated past union strategic approaches, as well as prevent internal union renewal ‘from below’. Current promising movements by low wage workers, immigrant workers, and union reform movements in recent years (i.e. Chicago teachers, Boeing workers, etc.) are considered for their great potential for union renewal. But both Jack and Lynd agree these spontaneous movements will likely atrophy, as in the recent past, unless some form of new union-community permanent organization at the grass roots emerges to break through the ‘legal web’ and internal union organizational roadblocks that prevent union renewal from below today. The ‘Great Task’ is to develop some kind of permanent labor-community organizational network that, according to Lynd,  “doesn’t give away workers freedom of action in order to become a permanent organizational structure that prevents that freedom of action”--as is the case today.  Lynd agrees to return to the May 3 Alternative Visions show to discuss this view further in his forthcoming new book, ‘Solidarity Unionism’, and Rasmus agrees to update his similar views on the necessity of new ‘labor-community alliance’ organizational forms for the 21st century.”

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Dr. Jack Rasmus offers his latest view of the US economy as it enters the 2nd quarter 2014. What’s happening with US GDP, business investment, consumer spending, housing, and jobs in the US today, as the rest of the world’s economies currently drift toward slower growth, deflation, and economic and political volatility?  Dr. Rasmus discusses the 2014 US economic picture as the addendum to previous Alternative Visions shows in recent weeks that reviewed China’s slowing economy and growing financial instability, the Eurozone’s drift toward deflation and stagnation, the UK’s artificial construction bubble-driven recovery, Japan’s now stalling ‘Abenomics’ recovery, and growing currency volatility, capital flight, and economic slowing in Emerging Markets like Brazil, India, So. Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, etc. Having previously identified the US and global economy in early 2014 as the initial stage of a ‘3rd Phase of the Global Economic Crisis’, Rasmus explains where the US economy presently fits in the broader global economic trends and picture today.”

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Dr. Jack Rasmus and guest discuss the buildup toward a coup being prepared by US and its business-right wing friends in Venezuela today.  Jack’s guest is longtime union activist, Alan Benjamin, who works in the International Labor Office in Geneva, Switzerland, and has access to information globally on the Venezuela situation. Benjamin provides an eye-witness view of contemporary events in Venezuela based on his frequent direct contact with unionists on the ground in Venezuela in recent months.  Jack and Alan discuss the current relationship of political forces today in Venezuela, including the various alignments of classes there, political parties, union organizations, students, US sponsored and funded NGOs, small business v. large businesses, small farmers and peasants, and splits within the military. Benjamin explains the history of US coup attempts in Venezuela and Latin America in recent decades and parallels with recent events in the Ukraine coup. Who is behind the recent killings in the streets, splits within the anti(Maduro) government right wing forces and within the government itself, and USA’s current various current plans (‘A, B, and C’) to destabilize Venezuela along multiple fronts are addressed—in this ‘fact-based’ exploration of what’s happening in Venezuela.

 

Alan Benjamin is a long time member of the Office & Professional Employees Union in the U.S. and its delegate for a number of years to the San Francisco Central Labor Council, AFLCIO. He is a member of the coordinating committee of the ‘Labor Fightback Network’ in the USA, and has been involved in numerous undocumented US workers’ grass roots organizations defending US immigrant workers rights, as well as active in organizations defending US students from government education spending cutbacks.

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Dr Jack Rasmus welcomes as his guest, Tom Moore, a nationally known expert on health care costs with 30 years experience in medical cost analysis in government and as a consultant, to discuss rising health insurance premiums and costs today in the US.  Jack and Tom discuss why health care premiums and deductibles are again on the rise, and projected to escalate at double digit annual rates further in 2015 under Obamacare.  Dr. Rasmus notes the sharp contradiction between national consumer polls and surveys that show health care insurance premiums and deductibles rising again at double digit levels vs. government and Obama administration reports that claim total healthcare spending in the US is slowing. So what is it? Are personal out of pocket costs rising and about to escalate even more—or are the government reports of total healthcare spending slowing correct? Are health insurance companies, that have become big finance companies expanding worldwide, about to rip off the US public again with double digit further premium and deductible hikes once Obamacare is implemented?  What can you expect in coming months. Jack and Tom discuss the details and the real data.’

 Guest Tom Moore, Jr. is the co-founder of Community Campaigns for Quality Care and serves as its Board Chair and Chief Financial Officer.  He brings over 30 years’ experience in health policy and program management, having held major federal and state government positions including the Director of California Department of Social Welfare, Director of the Office of Legislation for the U.S. Public Health Service, and Deputy Director of the California Department of Health Services for the Prepaid Health Plan program in Medi-Cal.  Tom was also a Senior Health Policy and Program Consultant to the California Health Care Coalition, where he represented CHCC members on the board of the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Task Force (CHART), recognized as a national model for health care quality measurement and reporting.  He has consulted with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the California State Council of the Service Employees International Union on health benefits, including serving as SEIU’s liaison to CalPERS. Working with his CCQC partner, Sally Covington, he has participated in development of projects to identify and improve questionable variations in utilization of clinical services in Montana, Oregon, and California and currently supports delivery system improvement projects with IBEW L1245 (Northern California).  

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Dr. Jack Rasmus provides an update of the economic crisis in the Ukraine, predicting the future IMF deal next week, and surveying the positive and economic impacts on the Russia and European economies as sanctions and IMF details emerge.  Why the USA has ‘most to gain’ and least to lose from an ongoing crisis in the Ukraine?  And why the Ukrainian people stand to lose the most, as the economic crisis deepens. (read Dr. Rasmus’s Counterpunch blog article on ‘Who Benefits, Who Loses’? posted on the PRN website and on is own blog, jackrasmus.com, for details).  Dr. Rasmus then turns to an analysis of the Japan economy today and explains why Japan’s ‘Abenomics’ policies (named after Japan’s prime minister, Abe) of the past year are an echo of US policies since 2008 that have failed to produce a sustained economic recovery except for investors, bankers, corporations, and the wealthiest 1%.  As in the US, Europe and elsewhere, the preferred policy of global capitalism is monetary—QE, zero rates, and bank bailouts—while fiscal policy is token in content, and form and then quickly withdrawn with little positive economic effect, or is ‘austere’ (austerity) to make the populace pay for the crisis and bank bailouts. Rasmus concludes with the notion that Capitalism’s major crisis in the 21st century is the inability to sustain real investment that creates jobs, incomes, middle class consumption and thus recovery.  The ‘new normal’ long term is what we see emerging everywhere—slowing investment and global growth.

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“Dr. Jack Rasmus and guest, Steve Lendman, revisit the latest in the Ukrainian crisis, discussing its political and economic dimensions. In the first half hour, Dr. Rasmus raises ’10 Unanswered Questions’ about the political coup of February 22: Who were the snipers, why is no investigation underway, what is the composition of the neo-fascist parties on the street (Svoboda, Right Sector, UPA, etc.), what official positions have they assumed in the new interim Ukrainian government, why did US undersecretary of State, Virginia Nuland, admit to $5 billion spent by the US on Ukrainian politics, what are Nuland’s ‘Neocon’ credentials, and is there a ‘deep government’ in the US driving US foreign policy? Dr. Rasmus also raises the question of what are the ‘crony capitalist’ connections in the Ukraine with US business sectors? Rasmus identifies the key neo-fascist and crony capitalists and their current roles.  Steve Lendman then gives his view of the Crimea referendum and perspective on the Ukrainian crisis, which he calls the worst and most dangerous since the 1962 Berlin crisis. In the second half of the show, Dr. Rasmus discusses economic issues, focusing on “who benefits” and “who pays” from the current economic crisis, including western Europe, the USA, Russia and the Ukraine itself. (Listeners more interested in the latter topic should go directly to the ‘station break’ at the 30 minute point of the show, and listen to the second half of the h our that discusses economic crises in the Ukraine and other regions affected by it. Rasmus warns the Ukrainian crisis may be the critical development that sends the European economy into its third ‘dip’ recession in 2014-15.

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“Dr. Rasmus takes a deep look into China’s economy, asking if it is heading for a ‘hard landing’? Will its growing financial bubbles soon burst? Rasmus discusses reasons why China’s economy is slowing, and its potential impacts on emerging markets, Europe, and the rest of the global economy. China’s growing financial instability is also explored, including the role of global shadow banks and the 200,000 richest ‘Ultra High Net Worth Individuals’ (aka biggest global finance capitalists and their primary financial institutions) stoking the financial bubbles and instability in China.  How are they together driving China’s currency and real estate bubbles? What’s China trying to do to slow speculation in its currency, local housing, and local investment markets?  Why is China total debt is now well above crisis levels? Are they driving China toward a ‘Lehman Moment’ financial crisis? Rasmus concludes with discussion of China’s recent shift to lower the value of its Yuan to ‘reign in’ the shadow banks and global speculators, and what that could mean if it loses control not only for China’s economic hard landing but for the world economy as well”.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus discusses the current state of the Transpacific Partnership free trade deal and why negotiations between the 12 countries are temporarily ‘on hold’ until after the US midterm elections this November. Last week’s  show theme of the ‘Emerging Global Economic Perfect Storm’ is followed up with a brief view of what’s happening to Japan’s now faltering economic recovery, called ‘Abenomics’ after Japan’s present prime minister, Abe, and why even more money injection (QE) by Japan’s central bank is coming as Japan’s economy continues to slow. (see Dr. Rasmus’s just published article, ‘The Emerging Global Perfect Storm’, on the PRN website on why the global economy is entering a ‘3rd phase’ of crisis).  Dr. Rasmus concludes the show with some initial commentary on the recent Ukrainian ‘revolution/coup d’etat’. The fundamental dynamic in the Ukraine is about ‘crony capitalists’ on both sides behind the scenes fighting for control as the Ukrainian economy sinks, while emerging fascist parties in control of the streets rise to contend for power in the Ukraine.  The US-EU move behind the scenes to establish ‘its capitalists’ in parliament, and drive out the former Soviet ex-bureaucrats turned ‘crony capitalists’, is what the revolution is about, Rasmus notes.  The US-EU would like to stabilize the situation in the next parliament elections this spring, but it remains to be seen whether the proto-fascists in the streets can be excluded.  If the latter gain a foothold, expect parts of the Ukraine to secede, beginning with the Crimea. Meanwhile the Ukrainian economy, already among the worst in the world, will decline further, and EU and US promises of $tens of billions in bailout will not be delivered, Rasmus predicts.

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Dr. Jack Rasmus explains why the global economic crisis that emerged in 2007-08 may now be entering a ‘3rd Phase’.  Dr. Rasmus discusses what’s happening now with the economies in China, Japan, Emerging Markets (India, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, So. Africa and others), and Europe. Why is China on a long term growth slowdown path? Why is Japan’s USA-like central bank QE money injection policy failing to stimulate Japan’s real economy and leading to Japan’s ‘fourth dip’ recession since 2008? Why is Europe drifting toward deflation and its recovery stagnating, with France now the ‘bad boy’ economy of Europe? Why are the emerging market economies locked into a growing crisis, with massive capital flight flowing back to the west, falling currency values, and inevitable slowing economies? What are the possible ‘contagion effects’ between the three ‘stormfronts’—China, Emerging Markets, Eurozone—and how are ‘mutually amplifying’ feedbacks about to exacerbate problems in each—creating a three front global economic ‘perfect storm’?  Finally, what might this ‘Emerging Economic Perfect Storm’ mean for the USA economy, once again slowing in 2014 after its latest ‘false start’ last summer? (For more on this topic, read Dr. Rasmus’s forthcoming March 2014 ‘Z’ magazine article, ‘The Emerging Perfect Storm’, his last October 2013 ‘Z’ article, ‘The Slowing Global Economy’, and shorter entries on his blog, jackrasmus.com, since January).

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Dr. Jack Rasmus welcomes guests, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, to discuss the rising crescendo of grass roots protests in the US and “what’s next”.  Organizers of the popular website, ‘popularresistance.org’, that reports daily on grass roots movements in the USA, Zeese and Flowers give their impression of what appears to be growing resistance and protests along a number of fronts.  Jack and guests discuss growing movements of opposition to TPP and free trade, what’s happening in North Carolina, restaurant workers’ strikes, New York city demonstrations, labor union reform slates and movements, XL pipelines and other environmental protests, and other regional protests. Discussion focuses on ‘what next’ and how to bring more coordination nationally between the various ‘single issue’ movements and the need for developing a common national strategy by all, while retaining local movements’ integrity.  Jack argues for the need to consider a National Organizing Convention of the divers movements, out of which initial agreement on common elements of strategy might emerge, including an incipient national coordinating organization and the need for political action independent of the two political parties. Jack argues unification of movements and the organizational question are key tasks now on the agenda, if protests are to rise beyond localized and ‘single issue’ politics.

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