Category Archives: Videos

South American Unity

It’s an amazing thing to see South American nations so united.  It would be naive to think they are models of virtue just because they have have left governments, but they certainly are models of self respect, as seen recently in their solidarity around Evo Morales’ plane being forced down.

 

Political Power Comes from Organization

I’ve come to realize I have a certain assumption of how I think political systems work that underlies a lot of my opinions so I thought I’d lay it out.  It’s really very simple, but I think it explains a lot.  It can be summed up in one sentence:

Power over social decision-making requires organization.

“Organization” is to be interpreted very broadly here.  It could be a business, a political party, a union, or any other organization.  There are many advantages to organization.  An organization can collect information and distribute it to its members, rather than each individual having to do his own research, collect information from its members to advocate on their behalf (what political science calls issue articulation) and channel money and resources to influence the political process.

If we assume the above paragraph to be true, then applying it reveals some interesting insights.  Who is organized in the US?  Clearly, major corporations have the largest organizations and resources available to them.  While tiny in comparison to the business sector, labor unions organize about 10% of the labor force.  There is a vast array of non-profit organizations advocating many causes, which have some impact, but they have far fewer resources than the business community.  So it should come as no surprise if government policy disproportionately serves the interests of the wealthy.  It can also be seen if we look at the background of three of Obama’s cabinet posts:

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner: son of VP of Public Relations of Ford Motor Company, began career at Kissinger Associates

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton: Yale Law School and on the board of directors of TCBY (1985-1992), Wal-Mart (1986-1992), and Lafarge (1990-1992)

Attorney General Eric Holder: In addition to Justice Department positions, he was an attorney with Covington and Burling, an international law firm that represents major corporations.

This is not to suggest any conspiracy, but to point out that a) corporations are organized and b) their interests and those of the government tend to align. What about someone like Bernie Sanders, the progressive Senator from Vermont?  Isn’t he proof that politicians don’t have to be supported by big business?  Sanders actually proves the point quite well, since the vast majority of his top campaign donors are labor unions.  That is why he is able to be the most leftist Senator. UMASS Boston Professor Thomas Ferguson has actually done some great work on what he calls the “investment theory of party competition,” outlining how political parties align to those who are organized (mostly business), while the wishes of the electorate play a secondary role.   He in fact shows that one reason the New Deal was successful was due to an alignment of labor union and capital-intensive industry.  An excellent documentary about his ideas is below.

 

 

Health Care Mandate Explained

I came across a Reuters article reporting that 2 million more people than previously estimated will be paying the health care mandate penalty, which got me thinking that a lot of people might not know why there is a mandate to buy health insurance.  Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will prohibit insurance companies from refusing coverage or charging higher premiums for people with preexisting conditions.  This would hypothetically mean that people could wait until they are sick to buy insurance.  To avoid that, everyone is required to receive health insurance through their employer, purchase their own health insurance or pay a penalty charged by the government.  It is basically a deal with health insurance companies that they have to cover everyone, but that the government will make sure they still have lots of customers.  Below is a good video explaining the Affordable Care Act in more detail.  The only revision that needs made (since the video was made in 2010) is that the Supreme Court ruled states cannot be required to take part in the Medicaid expansion.  It’s quite possible that a single-payer system would be better, but this is certainly far better than what people like Paul Ryan want to do with Medicare.  A little tidbit that is well-known but conservatives like to forget, is that the health care mandate was originally thought up by a conservative think tank.

Romney Thinks Half of Americans Are Lazy (In his own words!)

Mother Jones has released what is apparently leaked video from a Romney fundraiser.  It’s quite revealing that he claims about half of the country is lazy and dependent on government.  See for yourself…

Democracy Now on Paul Ryan

Ryan’s policies are scrutinized quite thoroughly here…

Old Chomsky Clip Relates to White Racism I Think

Perhaps this video from back in the late 90′s of Chomsky sheds some light on the deeper issues behind white racism.  In the video he’s talking more about people like Timothy McVeigh’s hatred of the government, but you could easily replace the government with foreigners.

More on the Failed Arms Treaty

I did a post last week about the failure of the arms control treaty and said Democracy Now would have more on it.  Amy Goodman had a 20 minute segment on it which is posted below.

It is hard to believe how the US government can say things that are so in contrast with reality and they are not called out on it.  For example, on June 14, 2012 Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the State Department said  about US arms sales:

“We only allow a sale after we carefully examine issues like human rights, regional security, and nonproliferation concerns.”

Six months prior, in December of 2011, Mr. Shapiro was part of a State Department Press Conference announcing $30 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.  Amnesty International’s Annual Report for 2012 says of Saudi Arabia:

On 15 March, the government sent 1,200 Saudi Arabian troops in tanks and other armoured vehicles across the causeway to Bahrain to help crush pro-reform protests there, apparently at the invitation of Bahrain’s ruling family.

Would this count as an “issue like human rights?”

One more quote from Shapiro:

This sale will send a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to stability in the Gulf and broader Middle East

“Stability” is code for things going the way the US wants.

 

 

 

Still a classic…

I wish this video showed more history and less of the band, but still there are some excellent messages.