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.
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.
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).
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.
“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.”
Dr. Jack Rasmus and guest, 40-year experienced teacher, Gretchen Lipow, discuss last week’s ‘Vergara’ legal decision in California—the latest example of a long series of efforts by politicians and corporate elites to blame teachers for the decline in the quality of K-12 public education in America. Dr. Rasmus explains how David Welch, Silicon Valley tech billionaire, has been behind funding the movement and the legal suit that led to last week’s Vergara decision identifying teacher tenure as the cause of inner city schools’ student underachievement. Lipow explains how Teacher Tenure is just a diversionary tactic by opponents of teachers and public education, and why eliminating it will not change urban schools students’ underperformance, which is the consequence of many cultural-socio-economic factors. Lipow also points out the many procedures that already exist to eliminate poor performing teachers and how ‘tenure’ does not mean a guaranteed lifetime job but just the right to due process. Rasmus explains the bigger context of the Vergara decision: How Vergara is just the latest element in an intensifying decade long attack on teachers and public schools. Vergara is the latest element in a long term Corporate strategy to remake the public education system into a major new profit center for tech companies: No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Core Curriculum, Charter Schools are all examples, Rasmus explains, of the long term plan to standardize K-12 ‘product’ into pre-packaged software and hardware, that will de-professionalize the teacher profession in the process, eventually turn teachers into ‘technology monitors’ in the classroom, and cut education costs by eliminating teachers and lowering wages. Rasmus notes that lower costs from teacher de-professionalization means more spending on K-12 technology and more profits for the David Welch’s, the Bill Gates’, and other tech billionaires who are driving this long term strategy for K-12 education. However, first teacher job security, unions, and bargaining rights must be gutted, Rasmus argues. The Vergara decision therefore represents the latest offensive in this longer term corporate initiative to recast public education into a new multi-billion dollar corporate profit center. (For more on Dr. Rasmus’s view on this theme, see posted on the PRN website his chapter, ‘The Privatization of Public Education’, from his forthcoming book, ‘America’s Ten Crises’).
Gretchen Lipow has been a public school teacher for 40 years in New York City and Alameda, California. She has been an officer in her teachers union in Alameda and a member of the California Teachers Association (CTA) State Council, which determines union policy for 300,000 California teachers, and is currently President of the Retired Teachers Association in Alameda and Contra Costa County, California. She is also active in various Alameda Community initiatives and political activities.”
Dr. Jack Rasmus and guest, Steve Breyman, discuss this past week’s just released Obama/EPA proposals to reduce CO2 emissions from existing industrial plants in the US by 30% by 2030. Are conservative environmental groups justified in their praise of the EPA proposals? Are the proposals too little, too late, and cleverly left to the last two years of the Obama administration to ensure nothing will actually happen during the remaining years of Obama’s second term? Jack offers a criticism of the Obama/EPA strategy, noting if Obama were really serious he would have issued an Executive Order to immediately implement the EPA rules. In the present form, Rasmus notes, there will be no implementation of any rules until after the 2016 elections, if even then. Breyman and Rasmus discuss whether the EPA’s 30% ‘target’ for emissions reduction is really only 14%? Whether the EPA rules are proposed in order to provide political ‘cover’ for the administration’s now fast track promotion of natural gas fracking. And whether the EPA proposals ‘sometime later’ are a trade-off to enable Obama to ‘immediately’ approve and sign the XL pipeline after this November 2014 midterm congressional elections? Breyman discusses the likelihood the EPA proposals will reduce CO2 from industrial plants, but stimulate even more C02 and methane carbon emissions from natural gas fracking now destroying water tables and air quality in the Dakotas, Texas and Pennsylvania? Rasmus asks if the rules represent a ‘passing the buck’ by Obama to the states to encourage the latter to develop more state-level ‘cap and trade’ carbon credits trading programs that have elsewhere had little impact on reducing carbon emissions? Can EPA proposals be trusted that, according to multi-state coal-fired plant corporations, like American Electric Power, “allow us to keep coal units running for an extended period” (John McManus, VP of American Electric Power). Listeners are encouraged to check out analyses of the EPA proposals by ‘Rainforest Network’ and ‘Food&Water Watch’ environmental groups, not just the big Washington environmental lobbies, and not to get taken in by the ‘spin machine’ in Washington.
Steve Breyman is a former New York State environmental bureaucrat and current the ‘shadow’ EPA Administrator for the Green Shadow Cabinet. He formerly also worked for the US State Department. He currently teaches peace, environmental and media studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Dr. Jack Rasmus and guest, Deb Silverstein, discuss how the ACA (Obamacare) program is now increasingly undermining union negotiated employer health insurance plans. Union contract negotiations now in progress, with expiration dates in 2018, face the imposition of a 40% tax beginning 2018 per the ACA. Employers are already responding by insisting union workers pay for the tax hike in their new contracts by reducing benefits, deleting coverage for spouses, converting full time workers to part time (who will have no coverage), and introducing other means of ‘cost shifting’ from employers to workers. Union multiemployer health plans are being hit with an additional, second tax now as well. Meanwhile, pleas by unions (Laborers International and others) to Obama that he allow their low paid members, to begin to receive government health insurance subsidies under the ACA are rejected by the administration. Jack and Deb discuss why national union leaders allowed themselves to be maneuvered into this strategic dead end with the passage of the ACA in 2010 in the first place. Jack predicts the now emerging crisis for union negotiated health plans as a result of the ACA (which he predicted last year in a prior Alternative Visions show) will result in more strikes, more union contracts being unsigned, new contracts with less coverage for spouses and dependents, and more workers shifted from full time to part time status by employers in order to ‘cut and shift the costs’ to accommodate the coming 40% tax increase required by the ACA. Jack suggests local union leaders should convene a national convention of local union leaders to begin discussing solutions to the now intensifying attack on union health benefits, and to relaunch a national movement to replace ACA with ‘Medicare for All’. Deb Silverstein has taught in public schools in Ohio for 30 years, and is the Ohio state director for SPAN, ‘Single Payer Action Network’, for the state of Ohio.”
Jack Rasmus explains how Europe’s ‘stop-go’ recovery and its version of an ‘Epic recession’ (i.e. short, shallow recoveries followed by economic relapses and double dip recessions) is proving worse than the USA’s experience with ‘stop-go’ recovery since 2009. While the USA’s economy has slowed to zero or less on three different occasions since 2009 (in 2011, 2012, and now 2014), Europe’s economy experienced an even worse bona fide double dip recession, even weaker recoveries between, and now appears headed to another slowdown after only a year of a paltry 0.2% GDP growth. As Depression conditions continue in Southern Europe and the Euro periphery economies, Northern Europe economies (France, Netherlands, Finland, etc.) are also beginning to experience declining real investment, falling exports, and slowing household consumption as well. Meanwhile, governments continue ‘austerity’ policies, struggle with a continuing fragile banking system and government debt, and continue to ‘talk down’ the crisis. Jack explains the role of European Central Bank monetary policies in Europe behind Europe’s current drift toward deflation and economic stagnation, which are the ultimate source of its continuing fiscal austerity policies. The role of emerging markets’ capital flows to Europe, western global investors and shadow banks chasing risky corporate junk bond ‘yield’ and Eurozone periphery government bonds as key elements to today’s emerging ‘3rd phase’ of the crisis. Jack also explains the effects of changing China and Japan policies on Europe, the Ukraine crisis effect on Europe, and why the drift toward deflation Eurozone-wide will continue. Dr. Rasmus concludes with an explanation of why the United Kingdom’s is experience an artificial recovery based on an induced property bubble in London and south England, with Cameron policies echoing George Bush-Alan Greenspan USA policies of 2002-03, in what represents a desperate attempt to engineer a short term, unstable recovery before an upcoming national election, that will inevitably collapse afterward with serious economic consequences.’ (For the bigger global economic picture, listen to earlier Alternative Vision radio shows since February 19 on the Emerging Markets, China, Japan, and USA economies, archived on this station).
Dr. Jack Rasmus welcomes guest, Jill Stein, Presidential candidate of the Green Party USA, to discuss President Obama’s just released, ‘US National Climate Assessment Report’, this past week. While the Obama report provides overwhelming evidence of accelerating climate crisis in the USA in all regions of the country, both Jill and Jack explain it falls way short of proposals to address the growing environmental crisis—from thawing permafrost in Alaska, to drought and destruction of forests in the west, to disappearing maple trees in new England, to the melting of the Antarctic ice shelf that threatens to raise sea levels by up to 10 ft. in coming decades that will devastate coastal US cities. Jill provides a critique of the President’s report and offers an alternative set of proposals. Stein and Rasmus together then take note of the growing convergence between the environmental movement and other grass roots USA protest movements today, in the recent ‘Earth Day to May Day’ actions, the upcoming ‘Alternative Climate Summit’ this coming September, and growing discussions at the grass roots how to form joint community-labor organizations locally to fight for change. Ms. Stein calls for ‘unifying solutions’, a ‘Green New Deal’ to resolve environment and decent jobs creation, and the need for various movements to come together in a national organizing conference of some kind—a US version perhaps of the Latin American ‘Justice Movement’ in recent years that has proved successful. For more on the grass roots convergence, listeners are encouraged to go to www.globalclimateconvergence.org for more information how to do something about the intensifying joint economic-environmental problems in the USA instead of just complaining about it.