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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

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Record 10.7 Billion Trips Taken On U.S. Public Transportation In 2013

from the APTA:

Record 10.7 Billion Trips Taken On U.S. Public Transportation In 2013
The Highest Transit Ridership in 57 Years

In 2013 Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3 percent, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1 percent.

“Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation. As the highest annual ridership number since 1956, Americans in growing numbers want to have more public transit services in their communities,” said Peter Varga, APTA Chair and CEO of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI. “Public transportation systems nationwide – in small, medium, and large communities – saw ridership increases. Some reported all-time high ridership numbers.”

Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide or on specific lines were located in the following cities: Ann Arbor, MI; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Espanola, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; Fort Myers, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Pompano Beach, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Carlos, CA; Tampa, FL; Yuma, AZ; and New York, NY.

Since 1995 public transit ridership is up 37.2 percent, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7 percent. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/2014/Pages/140310_Ridership.aspx

Professor Richard Wolff: Enterprise Structure Is Key to the Shape of a Post-Capitalist Future

Richard Wolff: Enterprise Structure Is Key to the Shape of a Post-Capitalist Future

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 09:33
By Leslie Thatcher, Truthout | Interview

[font size="4"]"Marx stressed there that a central dimension of capitalism that he wished to see transformed was 'exploitation.' "[/font]

Richard Wolff talks about "The Shape of a Post-Capitalist Future," his entry in the new anthology Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA, and his conviction that making the transition from capitalism to socialism requires a deliberate critique of capitalist workplace organization.

Leslie Thatcher for Truthout: What motivated you to choose (of all things!) "corporate structure" in your search for a "powerful, attractive and credible vision of socialism?"

Richard Wolff: Chiefly because the internal organization of our workplaces has been so badly undervalued and thus so little transformed in and by socialist practices. This was true not only in the efforts to establish actual socialism but likewise in the theoretical and political projects for transition from capitalism to socialism.

Human beings spend most of their adult lives - the central parts of most days of most weeks - at work. How their work structures their interactions with other people (their interdependencies, interactions, freedoms and responsibilities) are crucial to everything from daily personal life to politics, culture ... everything. Socialists have focused on changing ownership of means of production - from private to social - and on changing the mechanism of distributing resources and products - from market to planning. Those foci meant that the internal organization of workplaces was neglected and/or treated as a secondary matter of what technology and efficiency require, something largely independent of the transition from capitalism to socialism.

I am convinced that to make the transition from capitalism to socialism requires a deliberate critique of how capitalism organizes its workplaces. It likewise requires a deliberate specification of how and why socialism organizes its workplaces very differently.


A transition to socialism would thus require the transformation of capitalism's exploitative internal organization of enterprises. In other words, the transition to socialism requires that workers not only produce surpluses, but also themselves appropriate and distribute them. Workplaces stop being conflict-ridden confrontations of two different groups of people - employers and employees - and become instead cooperatives in which the same people who produce the surpluses also - collectively and democratically - appropriate those surpluses. Workplaces are reorganized into workers self-directed enterprises (WSDEs). In WSDEs, workers (rather than capitalists) decide what, how and where to produce and what to do with the surpluses their labor generates.

Imagine a socialism for the 21st century that included among its central goals the democratic transformation of the workplace, a dramatic advance beyond the major 19th and 20th century versions of socialism. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22108-richard-wolff-enterprise-structure-is-key-to-the-shape-of-a-post-capitalist-future

Matt Stoller: Big Oil Hooked Americans on Credit Cards

Matt Stoller: Big Oil Hooked Americans on Credit Cards

Monday, 10 March 2014 12:56
By Matt Stoller, Naked Capitalism | Report

Originally published at Observations on Credit and Surveillance

The credit card industry gets short shrift when it comes to history. It’s really not fair, and it’s a problem because it means a good portion of the lifestyle of ordinary Americans is not well-understood by historians. But the reason is that there just aren’t a lot of colorful personalities around credit cards; it wasn’t an industry invented in a garage by a group of plucky inventors. Credit cards were from the very beginning a product developed by faceless bureaucrats in extremely large oligopolistic industries fighting one another over who would control access to the American consumer. It’s an industry best studied through the lens of class, and not in the current style of narratives focusing on individual heroes.

Most of the early hearings on credit cards involve oil companies and antitrust. This is because oil companies, like airlines, large retailers, and restaurants and hotel associations were attempting to corner the market in consumer credit. While today credit cards are a bank product, banks didn’t take a majority of the business until the 1980s. It was primarily oil companies that got the credit card business going, in the 1930s. Standard Oil of California, for instance, did a mass mailing of 250,000 cards in 1939, using early ‘big data’ (well not big data really but using early direct marketing) techniques and experiencing identity theft and fraud. They did this not to make money on credit, which wasn’t seen as a profit center, but to sell more oil at higher prices. Early credit card operations were about getting Americans comfortable with driving cross-country, and being able to buy gas conveniently everywhere.

In October of 1939, the Temporary National Economic Committee in the Senate held a hearing titled “Investigation of Concentration of Economic Power”, with a focus on the petroleum industry. Credit cards were prominently featured, because the major companies in the oil industry were using the large customer bases they had acquired as a bludgeon to control independent gas station owners. The majors were colluding, and using market power rather than direct ownership in gas stations to eliminate those who made rival products, like Quaker State and Pennzoil. Here’s a rep from Quaker State complaining to the Senate.

So it was the oil industry that got Americans used to credit cards. As for the collusion? Well that was clear as well. Here’s Charles Suhr, from Pennzoil, explaining how the oil majors controlled the industry through credit cards and fake independent leases of gas stations. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/22367-matt-stoller-big-oil-hooked-americans-on-credit-cards

David Sirota: Do Companies Have a First Amendment Right to Track You?

from truthdig:

Do Companies Have a First Amendment Right to Track You?

Posted on Mar 7, 2014
By David Sirota

Do corporations have a legal right to track your car? If you think that is a purely academic question, think again. Working with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, states are considering laws to prevent private companies from continuing to mass photograph license plates.

This is one of the backlashes to the news about mass surveillance. However, this backlash is now facing legal pushback from the corporations that take the photographs and then sell the data gleaned from the images.

In a lawsuit against the state of Utah, Digital Recognition Network, Inc. and Vigilant Solutions are attempting to appropriate the ACLU’s own pro-free speech arguments for themselves. They argue that a recent Utah law banning them from using automated cameras to collect images, locations and times of license plates is a violation of their own free speech rights. Indeed, in an interview, DRN’s counsel Michael Carvin defends this practice by noting, “Everyone has a First Amendment right to take these photographs and disseminate this information.”

He argues that a license plate is an inherently public piece of information.

“The only purpose of license plate information is to identify a vehicle to members of the public,” he says. “The government has no problem with people taking pictures of license plates in a particular location. But for some irrational reason it has a problem with people taking high speed photographs of those license plates.” ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/do_companies_have_a_first_amendment_right_to_track_you_20140307

Discipline With Dignity: Oakland Classrooms Try Healing Instead of Punishment

from YES! Magazine:

Discipline With Dignity: Oakland Classrooms Try Healing Instead of Punishment
As executive director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, Fania Davis sees programs like hers as part of the way to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

by Fania Davis
posted Feb 19, 2014

Tommy, an agitated 14-year-old high school student in Oakland, Calif., was in the hallway cursing out his teacher at the top of his lungs. A few minutes earlier, in the classroom, he’d called her a “b___” after she twice told him to lift his head from the desk and sit up straight. Eric Butler, the school coordinator for Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY—the author is executive director of the organization) heard the ruckus and rushed to the scene. The principal also heard it and appeared. Though Butler tried to engage him in conversation, Tommy was in a rage and heard nothing. He even took a swing at Butler that missed. Grabbing the walkie-talkie to call security, the principal angrily told Tommy he would be suspended.

“I don’t care if I’m suspended. I don’t care about anything,” Tommy defiantly responded. Butler asked the principal to allow him to try a restorative approach with Tommy instead of suspending him.

Butler immediately began to try to reach Tommy’s mother. This angered Tommy even more. “Don’t call my momma. She ain’t gonna do nothing. I don’t care about her either.”

“Is everything OK?” The concern in Butler’s voice produced a noticeable shift in Tommy’s energy.

“No, everything is not OK.”

“What’s wrong?” Eric asked. Tommy was mistrustful and wouldn’t say anything else. “Man, you took a swing at me, I didn’t fight back. I’m just trying my best to keep you in school. You know I’m not trying to hurt you. Come to my classroom. Let’s talk.” ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/where-dignity-is-part-of-the-school-day

Listen to Jimi ..................

Professor Richard Wolff's Economic Update: Capitalism and Its Costs

Originally Published on March 2, 2014
Listen to the Original podcast on Truth-Out.org: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22...
Professor Wolff's podcast page: http://www.rdwolff.com/content/econom...

About Today's Podcast:
Updates on Delta Airlines changes, US millionaires in office, irrational student debt, and Rupert Murdoch's wealth. Major discussions of monopoly and competition in media industry, public employee pension economics, and Obama's economic significance. Response to question on actual movements today for worker coops in UK and US.

About Economic Update:
On Economic Update with Professor Richard Wolff, Wolff and guests will discuss the current state of the economy, both locally and globally in relation to the economic crisis.

Wolff will focus on wages, jobs, taxes, and debts - and on interest rates, prices, and profits. We aim to explain why certain economic changes are happening and other changes get postponed or blocked and we will explore alternative ways to organize enterprises, markets, and government policies. Economic Update is a weekly show for people who want to understand and change not only their own financial situation but also the larger economy we all depend on.

Noam Chomsky | Security and State Power

Noam Chomsky | Security and State Power

Monday, 03 March 2014 13:40
By Noam Chomsky, Truthout | Op-Ed

This article, the first of two parts, is adapted from a lecture by Noam Chomsky on Feb. 28 sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif.

A leading principle of international relations theory is that the state's highest priority is to ensure security. As Cold War strategist George F. Kennan formulated the standard view, government is created "to assure order and justice internally and to provide for the common defense."

The proposition seems plausible, almost self-evident, until we look more closely and ask: Security for whom? For the general population? For state power itself? For dominant domestic constituencies?

Depending on what we mean, the credibility of the proposition ranges from negligible to very high.


Often the attempt to maintain secrecy is motivated by the need to guarantee the security of powerful domestic sectors. One persistent example is the mislabeled "free trade agreements" - mislabeled because they radically violate free trade principles and are substantially not about trade at all, but rather about investor rights.

These instruments are regularly negotiated in secret, like the current Trans-Pacific Partnership - not entirely in secret, of course. They aren't secret from the hundreds of corporate lobbyists and lawyers who are writing the detailed provisions, with an impact revealed by the few parts that have reached the public through WikiLeaks. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/22221-noam-chomsky-security-and-state-power

Yes, Virginia, Banking Contributes a Lot Less Value Than You are Led to Believe

from Naked Capitalism:

Yes, Virginia, Banking Contributes a Lot Less Value Than You are Led to Believe
Posted on March 4, 2014 by Yves Smith

One thing we’ve discussed repeatedly is that the activities of large banks, as presently constituted, are purely extractive. The reason is that they impose large costs on society as a whole in the form of periodic crises. Andrew Haldane of the Bank of England, using a simple back-of-the-envelope analysis, concluded that there was no way for banks to even remotely pay for all the damage they produce in terms of lost output. A mere 1/20th of a reasonable levy exceeded the entire market capitalization of all the major international banks. That sort of disparity between their worth as enterprises versus the losses they create means any intervention is justified to reduce the damage, including our preferred solution, regulating them as utilities.

Nevertheless, the banks have been quite successful in perpetuating the myth that they are particularly, indeed, uniquely valuable. So it’s important to look at that claim: pray tell what to they contribute?

One oft-cited measure is their contribution to GDP. It’s worth remembering that that’s a statistical construction as opposed to directly measured. And should anyone be surprised that the official approach makes banking look bigger, and hence more valuable, than it really is? .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/03/yes-virginia-banking-contributes-lot-less-value-lead-believe.html

It’s Not Wage Stagnation, It’s Wage Robbery

from the Working Life blog:

It’s Not Wage Stagnation, It’s Wage Robbery
Posted on 04 March 2014.

You take for granted that the malevolent Koch Brother billionaires and FOX will go all out to keep robbing workers. That’s just what they do. But, a much more pernicious danger undercutting workers is the inaccurate way in which the traditional “liberal” media and a whole raft of politicians describe what has happened to wages. It’s typically referred to as “wage stagnation”. That is false: it’s wage robbery.

I’ve noted this before and it’s almost a daily feature of the discourse. But, the other day, The New York Times did it again, in an editorial entitled “Where Have All The Raises Gone?”. It is a mind-numbing exercise in misdirection and avoidance of the truth. First, the propaganda:

Most people who work for a living know that for a long time now, raises have been few and far between. Wages typically fall or stagnate in recessions, and the Great Recession was particularly severe, exerting a drag on pay that persists to this day.But that is only a partial explanation, because declining and stagnant wages predate the latest downturn. Understanding the causes is essential for determining the policies needed to create good jobs. Research by three economists — Paul Beaudry, David Green and Benjamin Sand — goes beyond familiar explanations for wage stagnation like global competition and labor-saving technology. Examining the demand for college-educated workers, they found that businesses increased hiring of college graduates in the 1980s and 1990s in adapting to technological changes. But as the information technology revolution matured, employer demand waned for the “cognitive skills” associated with a college education.

As a result, since 2000, many college graduates have taken jobs that do not require college degrees and, in the process, have displaced less-educated lower-skilled workers. “In this maturity stage,” the report says, “having a B.A. is less about obtaining access to high paying managerial and technology jobs and more about beating out less-educated workers for the barista or clerical job.”

The findings help to explain the trajectory in wages for workers with bachelor’s degrees. From 1979 to 1995, their average pay rose modestly, by 0.46 percent on average annually, while wages declined for the non-college-educated who make up the vast majority of workers. From 1995 to 2000, wages grew for all educational groups, but since 2002 pay for the less educated has declined while pay for the college educated has largely stagnated.

Blah, blah, blah…the usual crap about education, fixing roads, and one line that ends with “more support for union organizing.”But, the reality is that the central trend in wage collapse is a single-minded, free market drive by CEOs and their enabling political allies to rob workers. It’s pretty simple and it can be explained in a few short sentences:

CEOs rob workers by spending billions of dollars to threaten any worker wanting a union. End result: no union, wages and benefits go down. Robbery. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.workinglife.org/2014/03/04/its-not-wage-stagnation-its-wage-robbery/#sthash.jJFQEvhk.dpuf

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