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Demeter

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 01:04 PM
Number of posts: 85,373

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The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case BY YOCHAI BENKLER--MUST READ

Yochai Benkler is a professor at Harvard Law School and co-Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112554#

the Manning prosecution (IS) a clear and present danger to journalism in the national security arena. The guilty plea Manning offered could subject him to twenty years in prison—more than enough to deter future whistleblowers. But the prosecutors seem bent on using this case to push a novel and aggressive interpretation of the law that would arm the government with a much bigger stick to prosecute vaguely-defined national security leaks, a big stick that could threaten not just members of the military, but civilians too.

A country's constitutional culture is made up of the stories we tell each other about the kind of nation we are. When we tell ourselves how strong our commitment to free speech is, we grit our teeth and tell of Nazis marching through Skokie. And when we think of how much we value our watchdog press, we tell the story of Daniel Ellsberg. Decades later, we sometimes forget that Ellsberg was prosecuted, smeared, and harassed. Instead, we express pride in a man's willingness to brave the odds, a newspaper’s willingness to take the risk of publishing, and a Supreme Court’s ability to tell an overbearing White House that no, you cannot shut up your opponents. Whistleblowers play a critical constitutional role in our system of government, particularly in the area of national security. And they do so at great personal cost. The executive branch has enormous powers over national security and the exercise of that power is not fully transparent. Judicial doctrines like the “state secrets” doctrine allow an administration to limit judicial oversight. Congress’ oversight committees have also tended to leave the executive relatively free of constraints. Because the materials they see are classified, there remains little public oversight. Consider the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the interrogation torture practices during the immediate post 9/11 years: Its six thousand pages, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, are “one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate.” But they are unavailable to the public.

Freedom of the press is anchored in our constitution because it reflects our fundamental belief that no institution can be its own watchdog. The government is full of well-intentioned and quite powerful inspectors general and similar internal accountability mechanisms. But like all big organizations, the national security branches of government include some people who aren't purely selfless public servants. Secrecy is necessary and justified in many cases. But as hard-earned experience has shown us time and again, it can be—and often is—used to cover up failure, avarice, or actions that simply will not survive that best of disinfectants, sunlight. That’s where whistleblowers come in. They offer a pressure valve, constrained by the personal risk whistleblowers take, and fueled by whatever moral courage they can muster. Manning's statement in court yesterday showed that, at least in his motives, he was part of that long-respected tradition. But that’s also where the Manning prosecution comes in, too. The prosecution case seems designed, quite simply, to terrorize future national security whistleblowers. The charges against Manning are different from those that have been brought against other whistleblowers. “Aiding the enemy” is punishable by death. And although the prosecutors in this case are not seeking the death penalty against Manning, the precedent they are seeking to establish does not depend on the penalty. It establishes the act as a capital offense, regardless of whether prosecutors in their discretion decide to seek the death penalty in any particular case....This theory is unprecedented in modern American history....for 150 years, well before the rise of the modern First Amendment, the invention of muckraking journalism, or the modern development of the watchdog function of the press in democratic society, no one has been charged with aiding the enemy simply for leaking information to the press for general publication. Perhaps it was possible to bring such a charge before the first amendment developed as it did in the past hundred years, before the Pentagon Papers story had entered our national legend. But before Rosa Parks and Brown vs. Board of Education there was also a time when prosecutors could enforce the segregation laws of Jim Crow. Those times have passed. Read in the context of American constitutional history and the practice of at least a century and a half (if not more) of “aiding the enemy” prosecutions, we should hope and expect that the court will in fact reject the prosecution's novel and aggressive interpretation of that crime.

But as long as the charge remains live and the case undecided, the risk that a court will accept this expansive and destructive interpretation is very real. That’s especially true when you consider that “aiding the enemy” could be applied to civilians. Most provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice apply only to military personnel. But Section 104, the “aiding the enemy” section, applies simply to “any person.” To some extent, this makes sense—a German-American civilian in WWII could be tried by military commission for aiding German saboteurs under this provision. There has been some back and forth in military legal handbooks, cases, and commentary about whether and to what extent Section 104 in fact applies to civilians. Most recently, Justice Stevens' opinion in the Supreme Court case of Hamdan implies that Section 104 may in fact apply to civilians and be tried by military commissions. But this is not completely settled. Because the authorities are unclear, any competent lawyer today would have to tell a prospective civilian whistleblower that she may well be prosecuted for the capital offense of aiding the enemy just for leaking to the press.

The past few years have seen a lot of attention to the Obama Administration's war on whistleblowing. In the first move, the Administration revived the World War I Espionage Act, an Act whose infamous origins included a 10-year prison term for a movie director who made a movie that showed British soldiers killing women and children during the Revolutionary War and was therefore thought to undermine our wartime alliance with Britain, and was used to jail Eugene V. Debs and other political activists. Barack Obama’s Department of Justice has brought more Espionage Act prosecutions for leaks to the press than all prior administrations combined since then, using the law as what the New York Times called an “ad hoc Official Secrets Act.” If Bradley Manning is convicted of aiding the enemy, the introduction of a capital offense into the mix would dramatically elevate the threat to whistleblowers. The consequences for the ability of the press to perform its critical watchdog function in the national security arena will be dire. And then there is the principle of the thing. However technically defensible on the language of the statute, and however well-intentioned the individual prosecutors in this case may be, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror of this case and ask: Are we the America of Japanese Internment and Joseph McCarthy, or are we the America of Ida Tarbell and the Pentagon Papers? What kind of country makes communicating with the press for publication to the American public a death-eligible offense?

What a coup for Al Qaeda, to have maimed our constitutional spirit to the point where we might become that nation.

Weekend Economists Salute The Texan Who Conquered Russia March 1-3, 2013



Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. ( July 12, 1934 – February 27, 2013) was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at the age of 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War.

His mother, an accomplished pianist who had studied under a student of Franz Liszt, discovered him playing at age three, mimicking one of her students, and began his lessons. He developed a rich, round tone and a singing voice-like phrasing, having been taught early on to sing each piece.

Van Cliburn toured domestically and overseas. He played for royalty and heads of state, and every U.S. president from Mr. Eisenhower to Mr. Obama. He was the first classical recording artist to have an album, his recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, sell more than 1 million copies.

Early life

Cliburn was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and at age three began taking piano lessons from his mother, the former Rildia Bee O'Bryan, who had studied under Arthur Friedheim, a pupil of Franz Liszt. When Cliburn was six, his father, who worked in the oil industry, moved the family to Kilgore, Texas. At age twelve Cliburn won a statewide piano competition which enabled him to debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He entered the Juilliard School at age seventeen and studied under Rosina Lhévinne,[ who trained him in the tradition of the great Russian romantics. At twenty, Cliburn won the Leventritt Award and made his Carnegie Hall debut.

Moscow

It was his recognition in Moscow that propelled Cliburn to international fame. The first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 was an event designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority during the Cold War, on the heels of their technological victory with the Sputnik launch in October 1957. Cliburn's performance at the competition finale of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 earned him a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. When it was time to announce a winner, the judges were obliged to ask permission of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to give first prize to an American. "Is he the best?" Khrushchev asked. "Then give him the prize!" Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician. His cover story in Time proclaimed him "The Texan Who Conquered Russia". ---wikipedia

The recession was her fault: Meet Wall Street's scapegoat

http://www.salon.com/2013/02/24/shes_paying_for_wall_streets_sins/?source=newsletter

You remember Lynndie England. She was the Army Reserve soldier photographed at the Abu Ghraib prison giving the thumbs-up sign in front of a set of naked detainees. A lower-level reservist, she was among the few at Abu Ghraib who actually served prison time. No officers who authorized and directed the torture and detainee abuse, either in that prison, at Guantanamo Bay or anywhere around the world, ever faced trial. But Lynndie England became a symbol for the sorry state of the rule of law in America, where a few small “bad apples” get held to account, and the higher-ups who devised and directed the criminal activity get off scot-free.

There’s a Lynndie England for the financial crisis, too.

Meet Lorraine O. Brown, an individual singled out for actual jail time for her role in the massive mortgage document fraud that plagued this nation. Like England, she stands alone among the multitudes of fraudsters, including those at the highest reaches of the financial industry. Brown was the President of DocX, a company that created and processed mortgage-related documents, first as a stand-alone unit, and later as a subsidiary of the document processing giant Lender Processing Solutions (LPS). And like Lynndie England, Brown committed a series of legitimate crimes. From 2003 until 2009, DocX routinely forged mortgage documents. Brown directed the scheme, whereby low-wage temporary workers would sign the documents in the name of executives at DocX, who were authorized as signers by mortgage servicers. Then, different temporary workers would attach fake notarizations to the documents, attesting to their veracity. This “Surrogate Signer” program allowed DocX to execute thousands of documents per day, increasing their profit margins.

These forged mortgage documents were distributed to county land recording offices and state courts all over the country. After the collapse of the housing bubble, when these documents were put to use in foreclosure or bankruptcy cases, the scheme became apparent when people started comparing multiple mortgage documents with the names of authorized signers like Linda Green, all of which had markedly different handwriting. This scheme was part of the giant bundle of illegal conduct known as foreclosure fraud. According to statements of fact from the Justice Department, from 2003 to 2009 DocX recorded over one million fake documents. That’s probably a low number. DocX wasn’t just forging signatures, they were fabricating entire loan files. During the bubble years, they created a now-infamous mortgage fabrication price sheet, where mortgage servicers, who had trouble proving in court that they owned the homes they wanted to put into foreclosure, could purchase, at low prices, whatever documents they needed. To “Recreate Entire Collateral File,” basically the whole set of documents including the promissory note? That would set a servicer back $95.00.

The larger foreclosure fraud scandal eventually exploded in late 2010, and after over a year of wrangling, the five biggest mortgage servicers – tiny outfits with names like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Ally/GMAC – got their legal liability released in a sweetheart settlement. But Lorraine O. Brown was not so lucky. Her biggest mistake was lying to the FBI, claiming that she never instructed any employee to forge a document or participate in a “Surrogate Signing” program. More important, LPS had closed DocX by this time, making Brown expendable. Chris Koster, the attorney general of Missouri, indicted Brown, DocX and LPS for forgery. But Koster did not attempt to flip the smaller fry to get to the higher-ups, the standard strategy of most criminal prosecutors. Instead, LPS cut a deal with Missouri for a mere $2 million, and in exchange “cooperated” in the Brown investigation. This severed Brown from the parent company, which not only had to know what was happening at DocX, but used basically the same assembly-line mortgage document execution at its other facilities. In a September 2006 newsletter called “The Summit,” managers for LPS, then known as Fidelity National Foreclosure Solutions, openly touted the process that allowed them to “execute 1,000 documents per day.” Brown’s DocX wasn’t the only forgery and fabrication shop in the United States. This was industry practice...Furthermore, evidence of the DocX forgery and fabrication process could be used to reach even higher. Who directly solicited the company for fake documents? The foreclosure mill law firms, which then knowingly submitted them into courts. Who directed the foreclosure mills to do that? The mortgage servicers, which are typically units of the biggest banks. Furthermore, there’s no reason to ever request the “entire collateral file” unless you have no other way to generate evidence to prove underlying ownership of the loan. This speaks to a faulty mortgage transfer process, improper securitizations, and generally fraudulent practices at the heart of Wall Street.

None of that was pursued. Instead, Lorraine O. Brown felt the full weight of US law enforcement....

MORE CONSPIRACY AT LINK

The Secret Rise of 21st Century Democracy By Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers

http://truth-out.org/news/item/14649-the-secret-rise-of-21st-century-democracy

If Americans knew the truth about the growth of real democracy in Venezuela and other Latin American countries, we would demand economic democracy and participatory government, which together would threaten the power of concentrated wealth. The seeds of both are beginning to sprout in the US despite efforts to keep Americans ignorant about them. Real democracy creates a huge challenge to the oligarchs and their neoliberal agenda because it is driven by human needs, not corporate greed. That is why major media in the US, which are owned by six corporations, aggressively misinform the public about Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research writes, "The Western media reporting has been effective. It has convinced most people outside of Venezuela that the country is run by some kind of dictatorship that has ruined it." In fact, just the opposite is true. Venezuela, since the election of Chavez, has become one of the most democratic nations on Earth. Its wealth is increasing and being widely shared. But Venezuela has been made so toxic that even the more liberal media outlets propagate distortions to avoid being criticized as too leftist. Venezuela is a front line in the battle between the elites and the people over US-style democracy, as we described in Part I of this series.

We spoke with Mike Fox, who went to Venezuela in 2006 to see for himself what was happening. Fox spent years documenting the rise of participatory democracy in Venezuela and Brazil. He found a grassroots movement creating the economy and government they wanted, often pushing Chavez further than he wanted to go. Venezuelan democracy and economic transformation are bigger than Chavez. Chavez opened a door to achieve the people's goals: literacy programs in the barrios, more people attending college, universal access to health care, as well as worker-owned businesses and community councils where people make decisions for themselves. Change came through decades of struggle leading to the election of Chavez in 1998, a new constitution and ongoing work to make that constitution a reality.

Challenging American Empire

The subject of Venezuela is taboo because it has been the most successful country to repel the neoliberal assault waged by the US on Latin America. This assault included Operation Condor, launched in 1976, in which the US provided resources and assistance to bring friendly dictators who supported neoliberal policies to power throughout Latin America. These policies involved privatizing national resources and selling them to foreign corporations, de-funding and privatizing public programs such as education and health care, deregulating and reducing trade barriers. In addition to intense political repression under these dictators between the 1960s and 1980s, which resulted in imprisonment, murder and disappearances of tens of thousands throughout Latin America, neoliberal policies led to increased wealth inequality, greater hardship for the poor and working class, as well as a decline in economic growth. Neoliberalism in Venezuela arrived through a different path, not through a dictator. Although most of its 20th century was spent under authoritarian rule, Venezuela has had a long history of pro-democracy activism. The last dictator, Marcos Jimenez Perez, was ousted from power in 1958. After that, Venezuelans gained the right to elect their government, but they existed in a state of pseudo-democracy, much like the US currently, in which the wealthy ruled through a managed democracy that ensured the wealthy benefited most from the economy.

As it did in other parts of the world, the US pushed its neoliberal agenda on Venezuela through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. These institutions required Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) as terms for development loans. As John Perkins wrote in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, great pressure was placed on governments to take out loans for development projects. The money was loaned by the US, but went directly to US corporations who were responsible for the projects, many of which failed, leaving nations in debt and not better off. Then the debt was used as leverage to control the government's policies so they further favored US interests. Anun Shah explains the role of the IMF and World Bank in more detail in Structural Adjustment - a Major Cause of Poverty...A turning point in the Venezuelan struggle for real democracy occurred in 1989. President Carlos Andres Perez ran on a platform opposing neoliberalism and promised to reform the market during his second term. But following his re-election in 1988, he reversed himself and continued to implement the "Washington Consensus" of neoliberal policies - privatization and cuts to social services. The last straw came when he ended subsidies for oil. The price of gasoline doubled and public transportation prices rose steeply. Protests erupted in the towns surrounding the capitol, Caracas, and quickly spread into the city itself. President Perez responded by revoking multiple constitutional rights to protest and sending in security forces who killed an estimated 3,000 people, most of them in the barrios. This became known as the "Caracazo" ("the Caracas smash" and demonstrated that the president stood with the oligarchs, not with the people. Under President Perez, conditions continued to deteriorate for all but the wealthy in Venezuela. So people organized in their communities and with Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez attempted a civilian-led coup in 1992. Chavez was jailed, and so the people organized for his release. Perez was impeached for embezzlement of 250 million bolivars and the next president, Rafael Caldera, promised to release Chavez when he was elected. Chavez was freed in 1994. He then traveled throughout the country to meet with people in their communities and organizers turned their attention to building a political movement...Chavez ran for president in 1998 on a platform that promised to hold a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution saying, "I swear before my people that upon this moribund constitution I will drive forth the necessary democratic transformations so that the new republic will have a Magna Carta befitting these new times." Against the odds, Chavez won the election and became president in 1999.

THERE ARE LESSONS FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HERE--MUST READ!

Weekend Economists Review 50 Years Later... February 22-24, 2013

The Feminine Mystique - published on February 19, 1963 -"catalyzed the modern feminist movement, helped forever change Americans' attitudes about women's role in society and catapulted its author into becoming an influential and controversial public figure."

Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique, identified the "problem that has no name" - which feminists later labeled "sexism." Three years after its publication - 50 years ago this month - Friedan was instrumental in organizing the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other key groups that helped build the movement for women's equality.

The Feminine Mystique was not only a best-selling book, but also a manifesto for change....

http://truth-out.org/news/item/14514-betty-friedans-the-feminine-mystique-50-years-later


Has it been 50 years already? Not by my clock. But then, I've been living in anticipation of equality for women all my life....

Yes, things have changed, and mostly not for the better. Instead of women getting the "male" jobs, they are fighting to keep those they have as the displaced American male searches frantically for work of any kind.

Most Americans now accept as normal the once-radical ideas that Friedan and others espoused. Today, most Americans, including men, believe that women should earn the same pay as men if they do the same job. ...EVEN THOUGH THAT STILL DOESN'T HAPPEN... Corporations, law firms, the media, universities, advertising, the military, sports and other core institutions can no longer exercise blatant sex discrimination without facing scrutiny and the risk of protest and lawsuits...SO THERE ARE SOME WHO HAVE BECOME THE MASTERS OF THE MOST SUBTLE MEANS OF PUTTING WOMEN IN THEIR PLACES... The Obama administration just lifted the ban on women in combat. Women are now running corporations, newspapers and TV stations, universities and major labor unions. In 1960, only about six percent of medical students were women. Today women comprise about half of all medical students and have a stronger foothold in other formerly all-male professions and occupations. More men in couples share housework and child rearing than was the case two or three decades ago... AND YET, THERE ARE MANY FEWER COUPLES... Giving girls an equal opportunity to play competitive sports is now taken for granted. Employers now recognize the reality of sexual harassment, which did not even have a name until the 1970s. The right to have an abortion, legalized in the US Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, is still under attack but remains the law. In 1963, there were few college courses or books on women's history, literature or politics, and no women's studies programs.

When The Feminine Mystique was published, men's turnout at the polls exceeded that of women by five percent. Since 1980, women have consistently voted at higher rates than men, according to the Center on American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. The number of women elected to office at every level of government has spiraled. In 1963, there were two women in the US Senate and only 12 women in the House of Representatives. Today, 20 women serve in the Senate and 77 serve in the House. Similar shifts have occurred at the local and state levels. Although a rise in women's turnout has spurred these gains, men are now more willing to vote for women candidates than ever before.


Pardon me if I tell you the glass isn't even half full yet. And it's only half a question of gender roles. The other half is definitely ECONOMICS.

Post what you've got. Join in the discussion. Just be warned, I've had a ROTTEN day....

Southern poverty pimps By Michael Lind

http://www.salon.com/2013/02/19/southern_poverty_pimps/?utm_source=Daily+Digest&utm_campaign=147d7e116c-DD_2_20_132_20_2013&utm_medium=email

Contemporary American politics cannot be understood apart from the North-South divide in the U.S., as I and others have argued. Neither can contemporary American economic debates. The real choice facing America in the 21st century is the same one that faced it in the 19th and 20th centuries — Northernomics or Southernomics?

Northernomics is the high-road strategy of building a flourishing national economy by means of government-business cooperation and government investment in R&D, infrastructure and education. Although this program of Hamiltonianism (named after Washington’s first Treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton) has been championed by maverick Southerners as prominent as George Washington, Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln (born in Kentucky to a Southern family), the building of a modern, high-tech, high-wage economy has been supported chiefly by political parties based in New England and the Midwest, from the Federalists and the Whigs through the Lincoln Republicans and today’s Northern Democrats.

Southernomics is radically different. The purpose of the age-old economic development strategy of the Southern states has never been to allow them to compete with other states or countries on the basis of superior innovation or living standards. Instead, for generations Southern economic policymakers have sought to secure a lucrative second-tier role for the South in the national and world economies, as a supplier of commodities like cotton and oil and gas and a source of cheap labor for footloose corporations. This strategy of specializing in commodities and cheap labor is intended to enrich the Southern oligarchy. It doesn’t enrich the majority of Southerners, white, black or brown, but it is not intended to.

Contrary to what is often said, the “original sin” of the South is not slavery, or even racism. It is cheap, powerless labor.

Before 1900, the cheap labor was used to harvest export crops like cotton and lumber. Beginning around 1900, Southern states sought to reap benefits from the new industrial economy by supplying national manufacturing companies with pools of cheap, powerless labor as well. For a century now, Southern state economic development policies have sought to lure companies from high-wage, high-service states, by promising low wages and docile workers. Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent appeals to California businesses to relocate to the Lone Star State are the most recent example.

The essence of the Southern economic model is not low taxation, but a lack of bargaining power by Southern workers of all races. Bargaining power at the bottom of the income scale is created by tight labor markets; unions; minimum wage laws combined with unemployment insurance; and social insurance, such as Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid....MORE

Reagan Revolution Home To Roost — In Charts

http://blog.ourfuture.org/20120318/reagan_revolution_home_to_roost_-_in_charts

It seems that you can look at a chart of almost anything and right around 1981 or soon after you’ll see the chart make a sharp change in direction, and probably not in a good way. And I really do mean almost anything, from economics to trade to infrastructure to … well almost anything. I spent some time looking for charts of things, and here are just a few examples. In each of the charts below look for the year 1981, when Reagan took office.

Conservative policies transformed the United States from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation in just a few years, and it has only gotten worse since then:



...intense concentration of wealth at the top:



...MORE MISERY IN GRAPHIC FORM...

Sometimes it can be so obvious where a problem comes from, but very hard to change it. The anti-government, pro-corporate-rule Reagan Revolution screwed a lot of things up for regular people and for the country. Some of this disaster we saw happening at the time and some of it has taken 30 years to become clear. But for all the damage done these “conservative” policies greatly enriched a few entrenched interests, who use their wealth and power to keep things the way they are. And the rest of us, hit so hard by the changes, don’t have the resources to fight the wealth and power...

40 Percent of Americans Now Make Less than 1968 Minimum Wage By Dave Johnson

http://www.nationofchange.org/40-percent-americans-now-make-less-1968-minimum-wage-1361362370

You may have seen the charts showing how working people’s wages stopped going up along with productivity gains:

This means the gains went … somewhere else. See if you can guess who got them? (Hint: it’s the 1%; this is one driver of the terrible income and wealth inequality.) This breakoff of wages from productivity growth is partly (largely?) the result of trade agreements that pit Americans against exploited workers in non-democracies. This weakened the bargaining power of unions, moved factories and industries out of the country, devastated entire regions of our country — and gave the giant multinational corporations, Wall Street and the billionaires the leverage they needed…



Economist Dean Baker describes one effect of this in Minimum Wage: Who Decided Workers Should Fall Behind?

“If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth [since 1968], it would be over $16.50 an hour today. That is higher than the hourly wages earned by 40 percent of men and half of women.”

Baker is referring to this CEPR study: The Minimum Wage and Economic Growth.

40% Of Americans Now Make Less Than 1968 Minimum Wage

Read what Baker wrote again. The minimum wage would be $16.50 an hour — $33,000 a year — if it had kept up with the growth of productivity since 1968. To put the effect of this a different way, 40% of Americans now make less than the 1968 minimum wage, had the minimum wage kept pace with productivity gains...

I just had to steal this!

What a REAL Paradigm Shift in Education Would Look Like

http://www.alternet.org/education/what-real-paradigm-shift-education-would-look?akid=10072.227380.06n5uK&rd=1&src=newsletter796377&t=20&paging=off

Long before corporate America began its assault on public schooling, American education was in trouble. Educators were, however, increasingly aware of the problems and were working on them. When Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, Mike Bloomberg, Arne Duncan,Michelle Rhee, and other big name non-educators took over, that worked stopped.

What I want people to understand is that the backbone of education — the familiar math-science-language arts-social studies “core curriculum” — is deeply, fundamentally flawed. No matter the reform initiative, there won’t be significant improvement in American education until curricular problems are understood, admitted, addressed, and solved.

Few want to hear that. Reformers are sure America’s schools would be fine if teachers just worked harder and smarter, and reformers are sure the teachers would do that if merit pay programs made them compete for cash. They seem incapable of understanding that classroom teachers are doing something so complicated and difficult that even the best of them are hanging on by their fingernails. If they knew how to do better, they’d be doing it. Would surgeons operate differently if they were paid more? Would commercial airline pilots make softer landings if they made more money? Would editorial writers write better editorials if their salaries were raised?

Teachers are doing the best they can with the curriculum they’ve been given. Here (in regrettably abstract language) is the curricular problem at the top of my list:

Change is in the nature of things; it is inevitable. Human societies either adaptto change or die. The traditional core curriculum delivers existingknowledge, but adapting to an unknown future requires new knowledge. Newknowledge is created as relationships are discovered between parts ofreality not previously thought to be related. The arbitrary walls betweenschool subjects, and the practice of studying them in isolation from eachother, block the relating process essential to knowledge creation....
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