Tuesday Reads: The Anniversary of FDR’s Second Bill of RightsPosted: January 11, 2011 | |
Ever so often, we need to be reminded of history. I read a tweet yesterday by one of our long time news anchors down here in New Orleans.
normanrobinson1 norman robinson
Wondering if we as Americans really value what we have and whether we really care about leaving a future for the generations to follow.
This started me thinking about what future was left to me by the generations directly before me. Of course, we’re living in a world mostly free of NAZIs and Fascists because of the greatest generation. We’re living in a world where the Jim Crow Laws of Separate-But-Equal were torn down by the generation after that with the sacrifice of the heroic leaders of the civil rights movement. I have the right to vote because of my grandmother’s generation and her mother’s generation and what they did for us. I’ve also had consistent access to family planning and birth control because the first women of the baby boom generation and several generations of women before them worked hard for it. Stonewall made a tremendous difference in the lives of GLBTs. Then, there are programs like Social Security and institutions like the United Nations that came from the vision and leadership of FDR and the people who served in his cabinets like Francis Perkins, Henry Wallace, Cordell Hull and many others. They cared enough to build us quite a legacy.
Today is the 67th anniversary of a speech that was to convey that vision of a post-war America. The Second Bill of Rights was part of a State of the Union speech. I’m bringing this up for two reasons. First, because it clearly provides a road map–even today–for “what Americans really value”. I say that because poll after poll shows that the majority of American’s agree with these values even though our government doesn’t seem to reflect that at the moment. For that reason, I share with you today, the words of a leader with a vision and a gift for elocution.
On January 11, 1944, in the midst of World War II, President Roosevelt spoke forcefully and eloquently about the greater meaning and higher purpose of American security in a post-war America. The principles and ideas conveyed by FDR’s words matter as much now as they did over sixty years ago, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center is proud to reprint a selection of FDR’s vision for the security and economic liberty of the American people in war and peace.
The second reason I want to share this is that we’re coming close to President Obama’s third State of the Union Address. It is scheduled for January 25th. My guess is that FDR’s Second Bill of Rights and the vision he elucidated will officially die on that day. I am not expecting any thing close to the utterance of ‘Necessitous men are not free men’ or “People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made”.
Despite the obvious parallels between right now and the Great Depression–the high unemployment rates, the incredible number of foreclosures, and the breadth of necessitous men and women and children–I’m expectting many of the vestiges of FDR’s vision that prevent future calamities to be assaulted during Obama’s third State of the Union Address. Look closely at the list I put up top because so much of what was handed us has been trickling away.
As Norman Robinson contemplated via tweet, do we really value what we have today? Will we witness the destruction of what was handed to us and hand our children and grandchildren broken infrastructure, no hope for upward mobility, and useless institutions drained of funds by the greedy? Will any shell of what was envisioned for us in both the first bill of rights and the second remain? Frankly, I am expecting an ‘austerity’ speech that endorses the findings of the cat food commission. I also expect we will hear nothing of overreaching intrusion by the Patriot Act into our internet and cell phones. We are expected to diligently watch Football and bail out billionaires while everything else trickles up and away.
Since I’ve already mentioned Reagan and Obama and dwindling prospects for the future, I may as well start by offering up this Raw Story interview with Reagan’s Budget Director David Stockman. His eclectic economic and political viewpoints are still difficult to reconcile at times. Stockman believes that we can no longer afford the occupations of Iraq and Iran and the huge military industrial complex that profit from them.
The Obama administration’s $78 billion cut to US defense spending is a mere “pin-prick” to a behemoth military-industrial complex that must drastically shrink for the good of the republic, a former Reagan administration budget director recently told Raw Story.
“It amounts to a failed opportunity to recognize that we are now at a historical inflection point at which the time has arrived for a classic post-war demobilization of the entire military establishment,” David Stockman said in an exclusive interview.
“The Cold War is long over,” he continued. “The wars of occupation are almost over and were complete failures — Afghanistan and Iraq. The American empire is done. There are no real seriously armed enemies left in the world that can possibly justify an $800 billion national defense and security establishment, including Homeland Security.”
Short of that, he suggested, the United States has “reached the point of no return” with its artificial creation of wealth, and will eventually face a sharp economic decline.
Stockman last fall criticized the extension of the Bush tax cuts while the federal government continued to borrow money abroad to pay for its public welfare and warfare programs. His solution to deficit spending — a huge across-the-board tax increase — is contrary to the current anti-tax ideology shared among tea party activists as well as fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party.
I’m sure the Republicans don’t want to claim him as their own any more. Everything he’s argued in that article are things that I’ve said at one time or another. I think most of us feel that we can’t afford to police the world. He is clearly aware of the Neo-Con failures and costs. It’s good to see some one clearly associated with Republicans say all of these things. Unfortunately, the current brand of Republicans have no need for history, facts, or evidence.
Carlos Tavares who serves on the Committee of European Securities Regulators has an article up on VOXEU on possible policy to deal with short selling and OTC dervatives. These are some of the practices and instruments that brought about the international financial markets meltdown leading to global recession. He argues that now is the time for regulators to create an environment that improves transparency and encourages effective asset pricing. His argument is based on academic studies that shows securities markets entail systemic risk that makes efficient regulation imperative.
You’ll see in this article that “covered” short selling has been studied and found to improve market liquidity and efficiency for the most part. Covered short selling can contribute price stability. This situation is generally true in bear markets or somewhat tame bull markets. All of these attributes are good for functional financial markets. “Naked” or uncovered short selling and abuse of covered short selling can be more problematic. Even covered short selling can be a problem in a strong bull market. Covered in this context means that you have the money to ‘cover’ your losses. ‘Naked’ means you probably can’t cover any substantial losses when the terms of your purchase come due. You’ve probably borrowed to set up the deal. Short selling is basically the act of selling securities you actually don’t own in the future at an agreed upon price. You’re betting the market will cause their price to go down. That way you buy them cheap in the future but sell them at the higher, prior agreed upon price. That’s how a lot of hedge funds made billions during the crash. Every one was betting on an endless bull market but them.
Obviously, naked short selling is more risky and speculative although all short selling is speculative in nature. Speculators are important to financial markets because their bets provide the offsets to people that carry out the transactions for purposes related to risk management or insuring certain returns. (Hedging is a term used in some cases for this activity). This is how speculators provide ‘liquidity’ to the market. Also, both demand and supply must be present to achieve a market price. The more people in the market, usually the better the market achieves a realistic price or asset value.
Taveres goes on to talk about the potential problems as well as possible policy solutions.
In adverse market situations (bear markets), the overall effect is not entirely clear, however. While short selling restrictions may reduce high market volatility, the decrease in market liquidity due to the constraints may be very strong when bid-ask spreads are already wide.
Also according to the Committee for Economic and Market Analysis’ work mentioned above, the review of the academic literature shows that naked or uncovered short selling, in theory, is not fundamentally different from covered short selling and, in normal circumstances, is unlikely to have detrimental effects on capital markets. Nevertheless, naked short selling may increase price volatility relative to covered short selling and may have destabilising effects in markets as in theory the number of short sold shares may largely exceed the number of available shares. This is equivalent to artificially multiplying the number of shares in circulation.
A different issue is the misuse of short selling (naked or covered) to manipulate markets (for instance by combining short-selling with spreading of negative rumours or manipulative operations in the cash market). This has to be dealt with by regulators through the application of market abuse rules with proper investigation and sanctions.
It’s all very finance wonky but worth reading since it really is about preventing the next big financial crisis meltdown. Many of the worst abuses that occurred prior to the melt down have not be solved by Dodd-Frank . I think it’s useful for you to try to slog through it. It’s important to know the omens that signal the next big one. Believe me, it will come.
One other link you may want to check out today is Mark Thoma’s piece over at CBS’ money watch. He explains right wing fascination with the Gold Standard and hatred of currency. His assignment was given in light of the Tucson shooting spree but with Rand Paul and Ron Paul around in Congress, it’s good to look at it from a general knowledge perspective.
The experience of the Great Depression shows that the inability to use monetary policy to fight recessions can be quite costly. In the 1930s, the countries that abandoned their commitment to the gold standard did much better than countries who honored their commitment to keep the value of their currency fixed in terms of gold. In addition, historical experience with the gold standard shows that both inflation and deflation can still occur due to variations in the supply and demand for gold which alters the price of gold relative to other commodities. In addition, since governments tend to abandon the gold standard and increase the money supply when the economy goes into a deep recession, a gold standard is no guarantee that government will avoid expansionary monetary policies.
Most free market economists–including monetarist like Milton Friedman–discourage the use of gold because of the impact on prices and how it fixes exchange rates. Free market people prefer to let the market determine prices and exchange rates. Oddly enough, libertarians usually like this idea even though it is really the granddaddy of all government controls. The market price of any currency is just set to gold. That adds a complication because the value of foods and services will reflect the amount of gold available in the world as well as their intrinsic value/usefulness. It’s actually one of the reasons the Spanish Empire collapsed. They were notorious gold hoarders. Also, privateers had a habit of sinking reserve shipments.
Here in Louisiana, we’re chasing down bath salts for Governor Jindal. Yes, you may remember that the Governor said it was just the absolute worst problem in our state. The Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office was in on the hunt. Wonder if Steven Seagal was in on the war against suspicious Bath SALTS!!!
Jindal announced the new law last week in a press conference in Mandeville, saying state poison control officials had received 165 calls during the past three months about people experiencing adverse effects after using the substance. Most of those calls came from emergency room physicians or first responders, Jindal’s office said.
Louisiana appeared to have a disproportionately high number of reports compared with other states, leading Jindal to ask the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to investigate.
Fortunato did not have details, but he said he is aware of incidents in Jefferson in which people using the bath salts overdosed. He cited one man who was hospitalized at West Jefferson Medical Center. He knew of no deaths associated with the substance in Jefferson Parish.
People using the bath salts as a narcotic have been treated for paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, agitation, hypertension, chest pain and headaches, according to the governor’s office. Some users reported suicidal thoughts.
It’s amazing what people will try to snort isn’t it? Yup, it’s my tax dollars at work. Jindals’ priorities are weird.
Jared Loughner appeared in Court yesterday. He did not challenge his detention. The judge ruled him a “danger to the community”. They found that out the hard way in Arizona. His mug shot’s been released. It’s a truly frightening thing to behold. There’s more things out about those images “targeting” Democratic Congressmen and women with rifle sites and possible links to real violence. I’ve seen several blog sites try to explain these away as innocuous survey sites. I’ve also seen the graphic compared to ‘targeted’ races map used by democrats that included little round multicolor buttons. Sorry, folks not equivocal.
I feel like I’m caught in a game with kids whining, but he did it too! Yeah. They all do it too. That’s the problem.
Two former Democratic representatives from Arizona reportedly received numerous threats during their time in office after being placed on Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” map.
“I cannot tell you how much I wish a panty bomber would come in and just fucking blow your place up,” one constituent told former Arizona Congressman Harry Mitchell, a Democrat who lost his reelection bid last year.
Another former Arizona representative, Ann Kirkpatrick, received emails calling her a “whore” and had a sewer cap thrown through her office window, The Daily Best reported.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head Saturday in Tucson, was among 20 other members of Congress who were on a “target list” published by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Six people were killed and at least 14 others were injured in the attack.
A map of the US, published on Palin’s Facebook page, featured targeting crosshairs over individual congressional districts Palin had urged supporters to focus on. While her note called for “pink slips,” she added that supporters should fire a “salvo” at those lawmakers.
It appears that more than just one person took the call to “fire a salvo” seriously. Now, do we have to play degrees of who is crazier or start equivocating body counts, building damage or just hurt feelings? Can we just say something’s not right here?
A threat of similar violence has caused the Feds to arrest a person menacing Democratic Senator Bennet’s Office. Whenever there’s something crazy that goes down, there’s invariably copy cats.
According to the FBI complaint, a man named John Troy Davis has been calling Bennet’s office in Denver, Colorado for some time, asking for a hearing regarding his Social Security benefits. During a call in December, Davis allegedly threatened a staff member “by stating that he might come down and shoot people.” On Jan. 6, Davis called again, and allegedly told a different staff member, “I’m a schizophrenic and I need help,” and later said, “I’m just going to come down there and shoot you all.”
During a second call on Jan. 6, Davis allegedly told a third staff member that he was upset about not having a hearing about his benefits. According to the complaint, the senator’s office had arranged a meeting in the past, but Davis had failed to show up. In the second Jan. 6 call, Davis allegedly said “I killed that woman. To get your attention, I will go down there and set fire to the perimeter.” He also allegedly said he “may go to terrorism.” When the staff member told Davis he was making threats to a senator’s office, Davis allegedly “screamed.”
One more quote on the topic from the Arizona Sheriff dealing with the aftermath of the shooting. The links from ABC and there’s a Jake Tapper video that includes this exchange.
“The kind of rhetoric that flows from people like Rush Limbaugh, in my judgment he is irresponsible, uses partial information, sometimes wrong information,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said today. “[Limbaugh] attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials and that kind of behavior in my opinion is not without consequences.”
Limbaugh today railed against the media and Dupnik for trying to draw a link between the heated political climate and the shooting rampage, calling the sheriff a “fool.”
There are never going to be straight lines of blame for the Tuscon massacre. Every researcher knows that correlation is not causation. We know that in situations like this there are usually both physiological and environmental factors that come together in a perfect storm to create a criminal, a mentally ill person, or a person with severe issues. There’s no clear recipe. Situations like these are never simple.
There are only three things that I would hope come out of this national screaming match which needs to turn into a conversation. First, we don’t have the institutions, processes, and structures to deal with people that have mental health issues. That’s a problem. Second, we have a culture that glorifies, profits from, and is fascinated by anger, violence, and guns. That’s a problem too. You can see it in our movies, hear it in our music, and feel it in the hyped-up crowds that feed on anger. That’s not healthy. Third, these acts are viewed through frames that we establish to protect ourselves from thinking that certain kinds of people committing acts of destruction can be framed differently then others. This is problem too. All mass murderers have left the sanity realm. It doesn’t matter if they are sitting in cafes in Jerusalem with bombs on their backs or they grab guns and shoot up shopping malls and their high school.
Bigger questions abound. Does rap music, heavy metal, angry political rhetoric, hyperactive religious fervor, or hate group propaganda create cultural cues for people on the slippery slope to mental chaos? Probably, possibly, yes. Depends on the cases. We obviously can’t take away all guns in this country. We can’t violate the first amendment rights of everyone by passing laws to shut up rappers, head bangers, and angry bloviates. We certainly cannot point a finger at any one person other than the person that did the deed and assign a certain probability of culpability. But we should all agree that you have to own up to some level of personal responsibility when you enable a culture of hate, anger, and violence. You can’t shut down political discourse and you shouldn’t, but can’t we get some semblance of agreement on what constitutes gratuitous anger mongering and ask those folks to please stop?
If there is no connection between angry, hateful imagery. and rhetoric and bad outcomes, why do we have hate crimes laws? Why are there anti-defamation leagues? Do things like lynchings just happen in a vacuum? Isn’t there a reason why we censor rap lyrics in some instances and control access to violent games and pornography? Why do we speak out against bullying ? Angry, hateful, vitriolic rhetoric can lead to suicide. Could there exist a similar relationship between bullying and murder/suicide? Does the degree of mental illness really have to be measured precisely when the outcome is still loss of life? Again, do you really need to compare tragedies with a body count ruler?
Common sense says this stuff has to matter some how. We have too many prohibitions surrounding angry, hateful, violent stuff. We don’t need ONE poster child for the issue. This isn’t about just one woman politician. She’s a good example but she’s not the only one. There’s a slew of politicians, media figures, musicians and Hollywood stars who all play the themes of anger, bigotry, hatred and violence for personal gain. That’s the deal here. They all do it for personal gain with little regard to any side effects. All of them contribute to the climate. I guess I personally hold politicians to higher standards than rock or rap stars, but that’s just me. I don’t think you need to inspire your side to be active by telling them to ‘reload’ any more than you should inspire your audience with a song loaded with the n word. Why do all those movies and video games vividly glorify acts of destruction? Is this really fun and creative? Is it really necessary to hold a political rally blaring “I got 99 problems but …” and think you’re all ironic and clever? Oh, I can point to more. See they ALL do it.
They all do it. That’s the problem. Stuff like that builds. They all need to step back and cut it out; especially the politicians. I can see from the media, reading my Facebook wall, and surfing my blog list that it’s not gonna happen right now. I also know that it must be profitable and it must work on some level. But, hey, we can always hope. I am just really tired of all the apologia for any one guilty of an addition to a culture of hate and violence because of their biological equipment or their party affiliation. Make up whatever excuse you want. It’s still wrong. I also don’t want to hear any more grown adults use the childish argument of “well, they do it too”. Yeah, they all do it too. That’s the damned problem people!
And, I’m sorry, MABlue. I think I just made what should of been three separate threads into one very long Tuesday reads. I guess I just had a lot for Tuesday show and tell.