Public Budgets

Mar
26

Liberalism's Communications Problem

Tag: Media, Peace and War, Political Ideas, Public Budgets

Liberals in the United States are relatively educated, yet extremely inarticulate when it comes to Trump, his budget proposal, or the U.S. military.

In a typical email, Moveon.org sent out the message this week that nobody should confirm a Supreme Court nominee until it's determined that Trump is a "legitimate president." Until then, the U.S. military should go on slaughtering families for him? And once he's "legitimate" then a horrible fascist Supreme Court nominee should be approved? And what would it take for Trump to become "legitimate." According to the email, it would take proving that Trump didn't collaborate with Putin to rig the U.S. election. According to the linked video, it would take that plus seeing Trump's tax returns, plus proving that Trump is not violating the foreign emoluments clause. All three demands are given a xenophobic slant.

Mar
21

City of Charlottesville Passes Resolution Asking Congress to Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion

Tag: Peace and War, Public Budgets

Charlottesville, Va., City Council Monday evening, March 20, 2017, passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's budget proposal, which shifts funding to the military from many other programs. The draft resolution brought up for consideration reads as follows. It was passed with a few alterations. The final version should soon be posted online by the City, as should video of the meeting in which it was read aloud and discussed.

Fund Human and Environmental Needs, Not Military Expansion 

Whereas President  Donald J. Trump has proposed to  divert $54 billion  from human and environmental spending at home and abroad in order to increase the military budget, bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending; and

Whereas the citizens of Charlottesville already pay  $112.62 million in federal taxes  for military expenditures, an amount that each year could fund locally: 210 elementary school teacher salaries;  127 new clean energy jobs; 169 infrastructure jobs;  94 supported employment opportunities for returning citizens; 1,073 preschool seats for children in Head Start; medical care for 953 military veterans; 231 college scholarships for CHS graduates; 409 Pell Grants for Charlottesville students; healthcare for 3,468 low-income children;  enough wind power to power 8,312 households; healthcare for 1,998 low-income adults;  AND solar panels to provide electricity for 5,134 households.

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program;[1] and

Whereas our community’s human and environmental needs are critical, and our ability to respond to those needs depends on federal funding for education, welfare, public safety, and infrastructure maintenance, transit and environmental protection; and

Whereas the President’s proposal would reduce foreign aid and diplomacy, which help to prevent wars and the victimization of people who become refugees in our  community, and 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing these cuts;

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress, and our representative in particular, to reject the proposal to cut funding for human and environmental needs in favor of military budget increases, and in fact to begin moving in the opposite direction, to increase funding  for human and environmental needs and reduce the military budget.  

1. "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,"  Political Economy Research Institute,https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

*****

Passage of the resolution followed the proposal of a different version by a large coalition of local groups.

At Monday's meeting, the resolution passed by a vote of 4-0, with one abstention.

City Council Member Bob Fenwick, a veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam with two sons veterans of that in Afghanistan, said that cutting back on military adventurism makes people better off. "We have had enough of war," he declared.

City Council Member Kristin Szakos drafted the resolution version above.

Also voting in favor were Council Members Wes Bellamy and Kathy Galvin.

In my view, this is an important statement to Congress, the country, and the world from our city council which has chosen to represent us. Charlottesville did not make a familiar and misleading statement exclusively against spending cuts, which would have fueled predictable and irrelevant demands for smaller government. Charlottesville addressed the reality of money being moved from everywhere else to the military, and urged the deeply moral action of moving money in the opposite direction.

It's worth noting that the assertion that military spending is an economic drain is a reflection of the fact that tax cuts produce more jobs than military spending. Military spending produces fewer jobs than does never taxing money in the first place. The study cited above does not, of course, assert that military jobs do not exist.

Mar
16

City to Vote on Resolution Opposing Trump's Budget

Tag: Peace and War, Public Budgets

Charlottesville, Va., City Council has on its agenda for Monday, March 20th, a vote on a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's proposal to shift $54 billion from human and environmental needs to military spending. The resolution calls on Congress to shift funds in the opposite direction.

The resolution is endorsed by Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville, Clergy and Laity United for Peace and Justice.

Trump's budget proposal would cut the Environmental Protection Agency by 31%, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13%, the State Department by 28%, the Department of Agriculture by 21%, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by 100%, the Institute of Museum and Library Services by 100%, and the National Endowment for the Arts by 100%.

Military spending would rise by $54 billion to something over 60% of discretionary spending, a percentage not seen since the Cold War. Then, according to reports, Trump will ask for $33 billion more off-the-books as a supplemental budget for the current (not the next) fiscal year for the military to spend on programs that candidate Trump denounced such as the F-35, and including $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to spend building a wall and detaining and deporting immigrants. Assuming a similar future supplement to the fiscal year 2018 budget, actual discretionary spending could see over 65% go to militarism.

Trump's budget proposal does not fund any of the infrastructure he promised during his election campaign.

"The Sierra Club supports full funding of the Environmental Protection Agency so that it can adequately protect communities through enforcement of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Toxic Substances Control Act and other important laws," said John Cruickshank, Chair of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club.

"We cannot look away any longer. Last week ground troops entered Syria and the press barely mentioned it. The week before, Pathfinders returned from combat in Africa. Who knew we are fighting in Africa? We have military deployed to over 150 countries. How many countries are there?" asked Daniel Saint of the Charlottesville chapter of Veterans For Peace. "President Obama, in his last State of the Union Address, proudly claimed that the United States spends more than the next eight countries combined--China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, United Kingdom, India, Germany, and Japan. Combined! Now Trump wants to dramatically expand adding another $54 billion. It costs $12 thousand to drill a well bringing fresh water to a village with no clean source of drinking water. For just the budget increase proposed by Trump, we could provide 4.5 million new wells across Africa, India and Latin America. Imagine if children from around the world grew up with a vision of the United States as bringing clean drinking water rather than bomb fragments stamped 'made in the USA.' Would our children and grandchildren be safer with new fresh wells or more nuclear weapons?"

"Indivisible Charlottesville, along with thousands of Indivisible organizations across America, is committed to resisting the Trump administration's efforts to reverse the progress of the last century, and to building a diverse country that can face the challenges of the next one," said David Singerman. "Trump plans to destroy the programs that let Virginians drink clean water, breathe clean air, live in affordable housing, attend some of the world's best universities, and sleep without fear of chemical and industrial accidents. He would do this in order to pile money into what's already the strongest military in history, and in order to cruelly build walls across our borders and end aid programs that give succor to the most vulnerable people in the world."

"Not only is the military the wrong place to put more money," said David Swanson, director of World Beyond War, "but nobody can even say where all that money goes. The Department of so-called Defense, which President Trump says has created a hornet's nest of the Middle East, is the one department never audited."

"We have known for many years that the Department's business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty," Chairs John McCain (R-AZ) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees said recently in a joint statement. "The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability."

"If we can stop a Muslim ban," added Swanson, "we can stop an immoral budget too!"

A CNN poll on March 1-4 asked for opinions on this proposal: "Increase military spending by cutting funding for the State Department, Environmental Protection Agency and other non-defense agencies." Nationally, 58% disapproved, and 41% approved.

Charlottesville provides an example of how federal budget priorities are out of line with popular opinion. Using the calculations of the National Priorities Project at CostofWar.com, "Every hour, taxpayers in Charlottesville, Virginia are paying $12,258 for Department of Defense in 2016." That's $107.4 million in a year. Much of military spending is in other departments. The National Priorities Project provides the numbers for a few of them: $4.1 million from Charlottesville for nuclear weapons, $2.6 million for weapons for foreign governments, $12.6 million for "homeland security," and $6.9 million for the 2016 off-the-books extra slush fund. That's $133.6 million, not counting various other expenses, and not counting the extra $54 billion or an additional $30 billion, which would bring the cost to Charlottesville up by another $16 million to $149.6 million.

According to National Priorities Project, that is enough money to provide 1,850 Elementary School Teachers for 1 Year, or 2,019 Clean Energy Jobs Created for 1 Year, or 2,692 Infrastructure Jobs Created for 1 Year, or 1,496 Jobs with Supports Created in High Poverty Communities for 1 Year, or 16,788 Head Start Slots for Children for 1 Year, or 14,479 Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for 1 Year, or 4,504 Scholarships for University Students for 4 Years, or 6,431 Students Receiving Pell Grants of $5,815 for 4 Years, or 63,103 Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or 168,519 Households with Wind Power for 1 Year, or 42,024 Adults Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or 104,093 Households with Solar Electricity for 1 Year. Each of these items is more than Charlottesville, which does not have 104,093 households, could possibly use.

The resolution drafted for Charlottesville's City Council follows:

PROPOSED RESOLUTION

Whereas Mayor Mike Signer has declared Charlottesville a capital of resistance to the administration of President Donald Trump.[i]

Whereas President Trump has proposed to move $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to military spending[ii], bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending[iii],

Whereas part of helping alleviate the refugee crisis should be ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees[iv],

Whereas President Trump himself admits that the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer[v],

Whereas fractions of the proposed military budget could provide free, top-quality education from pre-school through college[vi], end hunger and starvation on earth[vii], convert the U.S. to clean energy[viii], provide clean drinking water everywhere it's needed on the planet[ix], build fast trains between all major U.S. cities[x], and double non-military U.S. foreign aid rather than cutting it[xi],

Whereas even 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cutting foreign aid[xii],

Whereas a December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world[xiii],

Whereas a United States responsible for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others would be more secure and face far less hostility around the world,

Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,

Whereas the military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum we have[xiv],

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program[xv],

Be it therefore resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.

 

[i] "Signer Declares City a 'Capital of Resistance' Against Trump, Daily Progress, January 31, 2017, http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/politics/signer-declares-city-a-capital-of-resistance-against-trump/article_12108161-fccd-53bb-89e4-b7d5dc8494e0.html

[ii] "Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending," The New York Times, February 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-military.html?_r=0

[iii] This does not include another 6% for the discretionary portion of veterans' care. For a breakdown of discretionary spending in the 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project, see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states

[iv] "43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes," World Beyond War, http://worldbeyondwar.org/43-million-people-kicked-homes / "Europe's Refugee Crisis Was Made in America," The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/europes-refugee-crisis-was-made-in-america

[v] On February 27, 2017, Trump said, "Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we've spent in the Middle East . . . and we're nowhere, actually if you think about it we're less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there's not even a contest . . .  we have a hornet's nest . . . ." http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html

[vi] "Free College: We Can Afford It," The Washington Post, May 1, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-college-we-can-afford-it/2012/05/01/gIQAeFeltT_story.html?utm_term=.9cc6fea3d693

[vii] "The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger," Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html

[viii] "Clean Energy Transition Is A $25 Trillion Free Lunch," Clean Technica, https://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/03/clean-energy-transition-is-a-25-trillion-free-lunch / See also: http://www.solutionaryrail.org

[ix] "Clean Water for a Healthy World," UN Environment Program, http://www.unwater.org/wwd10/downloads/WWD2010_LOWRES_BROCHURE_EN.pdf

[x] "Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries," The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/10/cost-of-high-speed-rail-in-china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries

[xi] Non-military U.S. foreign aid is approximately $25 billion, meaning that President Trump would need to cut it by over 200% to find the $54 billion he proposes to add to military spending

[xii] Letter to Congressional leaders, February 27, 2017, http://www.usglc.org/downloads/2017/02/FY18_International_Affairs_Budget_House_Senate.pdf

[xiii] See http://www.wingia.com/en/services/about_the_end_of_year_survey/global_results/7/33

[xiv] "Fight Climate Change, Not Wars," Naomi Klein, http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars

[xv] "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update," Political Economy Research Institute, https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

 

 

UPDATE:

"We have published so many books detailing the terrible consequences of war! We're firmly committed to redirecting as much spending as possible from the military-industrial complex to the urgent needs of people here at home-- and there would still be plenty left over to help communities around the world devastated by our military's actions." 

~ Helena Cobban, CEO, Just World Books"Agencies like the NEA, NEH, and the CPB are about a positive vision for a society where the government makes things better by marshaling our common wealth for public goods. Where we do fund the arts because the arts make our lives better. Where we do fund public broadcasting because it's a critical source for information and music that's not being blatantly sold to us for profit. Where we do fund cultural institutions that improve our communities and help people lead richer, more flourishing lives. Don't believe for one second the line that cutting these programs is about saving money. In the overall federal discretionary budget, the NEA, NEH, and CPB combined represent the equivalent of someone who makes $40,000/year buying one soda per year. The damnedest part of it all is that Trump doesn't seem to have any particular enmity toward public broadcasting or the arts or the Appalachian Regional Commission or the others on the list to be slashed. But he's surrounded by schemers like Steve Bannon who want to blow the whole thing up just so they can see how pretty the shrapnel might be. And by groups like the Heritage Foundation that are more than happy to fill the void and provide a budget blueprint to carry out their demented vision of America."--Nathan Moore, co-organizer with Together Cville

Mar
13

Charlottesville to vote on resolution urging Congress to fund human and environmental needs, not more militarism

Tag: Peace and War, Public Budgets

On Monday, March 20, 2017, please attend the 7 p.m. Charlottesville City Council Meeting (at City Hall, 605 E. Main Street, on the Downtown Mall near the pavillion). On the agenda is a vote on a resolution to urge Congress to fund human and environmental needs, not more militarism. If you'd like to speak for 3 minutes in support of this resolution, sign up here: http://bit.ly/cvillespeechTo let all City Council Members know you support the resolution, email council@charlottesville.orgBring your voices to be heard.Bring your signs to be seen.Bring your hands to clap.Join us to speak.Join us to listen.And, join us to celebrate.Endorsed by Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville.Ask more organizations of all kinds to endorse by emailing david [AT] davidswanson.org.

Mar
01

A Model City Resolution to Resist and Overcome

Tag: Peace and War, Public Budgets

Resolution Proposed for __________, ___

Whereas President Trump has proposed to move $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to military spending[i], bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending[ii],

Whereas part of helping alleviate the refugee crisis should be ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees[iii],

Whereas President Trump himself admits that the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer[iv],

Whereas fractions of the proposed military budget could provide free, top-quality education from pre-school through college[v], end hunger and starvation on earth[vi], convert the U.S. to clean energy[vii], provide clean drinking water everywhere it's needed on the planet[viii], build fast trains between all major U.S. cities[ix], and double non-military U.S. foreign aid rather than cutting it[x],

Whereas even 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cutting foreign aid[xi],

Whereas a December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world[xii],

Whereas a United States responsible for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others would be more secure and face far less hostility around the world,

Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,

Whereas the military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum we have[xiii],

Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program[xiv],

Be it therefore resolved that the ____________ of ___________, ________, urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.

[i] "Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending," The New York Times, February 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-military.html?_r=0

[ii] This does not include another 6% for the discretionary portion of veterans' care. For a breakdown of discretionary spending in the 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project, see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states

[iii] "43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes," World Beyond War, http://worldbeyondwar.org/43-million-people-kicked-homes / "Europe's Refugee Crisis Was Made in America," The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/europes-refugee-crisis-was-made-in-america

[iv] On February 27, 2017, Trump said, "Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we've spent in the Middle East . . . and we're nowhere, actually if you think about it we're less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there's not even a contest . . .  we have a hornet's nest . . . ." http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html

[v] "Free College: We Can Afford It," The Washington Post, May 1, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-college-we-can-afford-it/2012/05/01/gIQAeFeltT_story.html?utm_term=.9cc6fea3d693

[vi] "The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger," Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html

[vii] "Clean Energy Transition Is A $25 Trillion Free Lunch," Clean Technica, https://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/03/clean-energy-transition-is-a-25-trillion-free-lunch / See also: http://www.solutionaryrail.org

[viii] "Clean Water for a Healthy World," UN Environment Program, http://www.unwater.org/wwd10/downloads/WWD2010_LOWRES_BROCHURE_EN.pdf

[ix] "Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries," The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/10/cost-of-high-speed-rail-in-china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries

[x] Non-military U.S. foreign aid is approximately $25 billion, meaning that President Trump would need to cut it by over 200% to find the $54 billion he proposes to add to military spending

[xi] Letter to Congressional leaders, February 27, 2017, http://www.usglc.org/downloads/2017/02/FY18_International_Affairs_Budget_House_Senate.pdf

[xii] See http://www.wingia.com/en/services/about_the_end_of_year_survey/global_results/7/33

[xiii] "Fight Climate Change, Not Wars," Naomi Klein, http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars

[xiv] "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update," Political Economy Research Institute, https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update

Feb
27

The Choice Trump’s Budget Creates

Tag: Peace and War, Public Budgets

Trump proposes to increase U.S. military spending by $54 billion, and to take that $54 billion out of the other portions of the above budget, including in particular, he says, foreign aid. If you can’t find foreign aid on the chart above, that’s because it is a portion of that little dark green slice called International Affairs. To take $54 billion out of foreign aid, you would have to cut foreign aid by approximately 200 percent.

Alternative math!

But let’s not focus on the $54 billion. The blue section above (in the 2015 budget) is already 54% of discretionary spending (that is, 54% of all the money that the U.S. government chooses what to do with every year). It’s already 60% if you add in Veterans’ Benefits. (We should take care of everyone, of course, but we wouldn’t have to take care of amputations and brain injuries from wars if we stopped having the wars.) Trump wants to shift another 5% to the military, boosting that total to 65%.

Now I’d like to show you a ski slope that Denmark is opening on the roof of a clean power plant — a clean power plant that cost 0.06% of Trump’s military budget.

Trump’s pretense that he’s going to just screw the no-good foreigners by taking $54 billion out of foreign aid is misleading on many levels. First, that kind of money just isn’t there. Second, foreign aid actually makes the United States safer, unlike all the “defense” spending that endangers us. Third, the $700 billion that Trump wants to borrow and blow on militarism every year would not only get us close in 8 years to wasting directly (without considering missed opportunities, interest payments, etc.) the same $6 trillion that Trump laments blowing on recent failed wars (unlike his imaginary successful wars), but that same $700 billion is more than enough to transform domestic and foreign spending alike.

Nov
29

Talk Nation Radio: George Lakey on Viking Economics

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-george-lakey-on-viking-economics

George Lakey recently retired from Swarthmore College where he was Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change and managed the Global Nonviolent Action Database research project. His first arrest was for a civil rights sit-in. He has served as an unarmed bodyguard for human rights defenders in Sri Lanka. Lakey has led over 1500 social change workshops on five continents, and founded and for fifteen years directed Training for Change. In 2010 he was named “Peace Educator of the Year” and published his authoritative text on adult education, Facilitating Group Learning. We discuss his ninth book, Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got it Right -- and How We Can Too.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.Producer: David Swanson.Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

and athttps://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Nov
18

Born on Home Plate

Remember the satirical "Billionaires for Bush" protesters? Around this time in 2008 I asked them to become Oligarchs for Obama, and they refused. But I predict Tycoons for Trump will be born this month. Inequality, like war and climate destruction, has its face now.

Chuck Collins' book, Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good, presents the problem of inequality as well as any I've seen. Collins was born into wealth, gave it away, but still refers to himself as one of the wealthy, perhaps because of all the lasting privileges wealth brought him. Collins sites other examples, as well, of the wealthy putting their wealth to better use than hoarding.

Collins explains how a lot of philanthropy is, however, counterproductive, benefitting those least in need of it. He argues for a popular movement to create progressive taxation and progressive restraints on income. But he also makes a case for appealing to one percenters for solidarity, rather than demonizing them -- apparently because this has proven to work better but also because it's too late for anything else. Wealth has been so concentrated that without defections at the top it will never be truly shared again.

Jun
15

We Should Be More Viking

Tag: Book and Movie Reviews, Political Ideas, Public Budgets

A birth lottery winner, or a chooser behind a Rawlsian veil of ignorance, today would likely end up not as a U.S. billionaire's child (much less a random U.S. child), but as a child in Scandinavia. That is, whether you're looking for higher happiness, life-expectancy, health, education, safety, and quality of life, or you're looking for environmental sustainability, social justice, and relations of peace and generosity with the rest of the world, the model today is the land of the Vikings' descendants.

Traditionally it has not been popular in the United States to emulate others. Books on how Europe is better than here don't always fly off U.S. shelves. Michael Moore's latest movie is not his highest grossing. On the other hand, Senator Bernie Sanders made the Scandinavian model the core of his surprisingly successful campaign. Many voices were quick to tell him that his socialism doesn't work in theory. He was quick to reply that it has nonetheless been proven to work in practice.

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