Weekend Reading List

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

gun violence don't shoot

For this weekend’s reading list we have articles about the daily death toll from gun violence, how austerity has failed in England, the successful litigation strategy for promoting LGBT equality, a debate over debt forgiveness, and a profile of the leader of the Buy Nothing Christmas movement.


Slow-Rolling Massacre Unfolds in the Shadow of Shocking High-Profile Shooting Sprees – a moving reminder that the problem of gun violence is about not just the mass killings that garner high-profile media attention, but also about the daily killings that take lives and rip at the fabric of society in communities throughout the country.

God Save the British Economy – an in-depth report on how austerity economic have failed in England and the efforts of Adam Posen, a member of that nation’s Monetary Policy Committee, to get the word out.

Getting Nearer and Nearer – a celebration of the progress that has been made towards achieving LGBT equality, and a rebuttal to critics who argue that the movement’s litigation strategy is flawed.

Sweet Forgiveness - a series of essays debating the fairness and effectiveness of debt relief and mortgage relief for underwater homeowners as a means for helping our economy recover.

The War Against Too Much of Everything – a profile of Adbusters and its leader, Kalle Lasn, that, among other things, is promoting an anti-consumerism message with their Buy Nothing Christmas campaign.

Weekend Reading List

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

For this weekend’s reading list we have articles on the benefits of energy efficiency, the efficiency of federal safety net programs, President Obama’s focus on long term strategy, how austerity is killing European economies, and how Occupy Wall Street has gotten economic inequality onto the political agenda.

If you have any feedback on these articles, or would like to recommend an article for next weekend’s reading list, please let us know at Winning Progressive’s Facebook page.

Energy Efficiency: Still Awesome, Still Ignored - How energy efficiency is overlooked even though it can save money, create jobs, protect the environment, and reduce energy use.

Romney’s Charge That Most Federal Low-Income Spending Goes For “Overhead” and “Bureaucrats” is False – a report detailing that, contrary to Multiple Choice Mitt Romney’s false claims, less than 10% of social safety net spending is for administrative and overhead costs, with more than 90% of such spending providing actual aid to beneficiaries

How Obama’s Long Game Will Outsmart His Critics – independent conservative Andrew Sullivan explains how President Obama’s focus on long term strategy is outsmarting his critics on all sides of the political debate

How Austerity is Killing Europe – a detailing of how the European Union’s obsession with cutting spending has caused a vicious circle of increasing economic problems leading to further austerity leading to further economic problems in every European nation where austerity has been tried

The Return of Inequality - an essay about how the Occupy Wall Street movement shifted political discourse in the US to put reducing economic inequality on the agenda

Weekend Reading List

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

For this weekend’s reading list, we have articles on how Sweden and Denmark show that higher taxation doesn’t hurt economic growth, how conservatives are crashing England’s economy again, the sustainability of historic buildings, how GOP budget plans would prevent action on climate change, and an interview with education advocate Diane Ravitch.

If you have any feedback on these articles, or would like to recommend an article for next weekend’s reading list, please let us know at Winning Progressive’s Facebook page.

Is Heavy Taxation Bad For the Economy? – At his interesting blog Consider the Evidence, Lane Kenworthy examines taxes and economic growth in the U.S., Sweden, and Denmark since 1960s and finds no evidence of economic harm from the higher tax rates in Sweden and Denmark

Old Buildings Combine Sustainability, Preservation – why re-using old buildings is as good, or even better, for the environment as is constructing new “green” buildings.

A Weekend Interview with Diane Ravitch on Teachers, Testing, and Florida’s Progress – a newspaper editorial board interview with Diane Ravitch, a noted critic of standardized testing and other education “reform” theories being pushed by charter school advocates

Global Spending Cap Would Make It Virtually Impossible to Enact Climate Legislation – Another bad result that would be created by conservatives’ efforts to slash government spending that they do not like

U.K. Economy Returns to the 1930s, IMF Applauds – A helpful warning from England, where recently-enacted conservative austerity measures have sidetracked economic recovery and created a double-dip recession.

WP Comments on Confidence Fairies, Bond Vigilantes, and Peak Wingnut

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Here are our latest NYT comments on economic policy being set based on non-existent threats rather than focusing on the real economic problems we face, and on whether right wingnuts will doom the Republicans’ chances in 2012.  Help spread these progressive ideas by using the links at our Letters to the Editor Campaign center to write a letter to your local newspaper.

My comment on how too much of economic policy in the US and elsewhere is based on fears of non-existent threats rather than an evaluation of reality.  This comment was in response to Paul Krugman’s column When Austerity Fails.

Maybe the confidence fairy, who will magically create economic growth and jobs if government imposes austerity policies, is hiding with the bond vigilantes, who are purportedly about to cause bond yields to skyrocket even though we have levels of inflation that are still far below what even the Federal Reserve says they should be.

The other people who are hiding, unfortunately, seems to be political and economic leaders who base their policy decisions on reality.  Time and time again we have seen the type of austerity policies promoted by economic conservatives here at home and over in Europe fail.  They failed when FDR mistakenly pursued them in 1937 and pushed the economy back into a hole.  They caused stimulus here in the U.S. to be far smaller than it should have been.  As a result, the Obama Administration’s stimulus efforts were enough to keep the Bush Recession from becoming the Bush Depression, but they were hindered from being enough to bring strong employment numbers and economic growth.  And now in Europe, austerity policies in Ireland, Latvia, Estonia, and other countries have caused untold suffering and pushed those economies even farther into a hole.

There are two realms where the forces of austerity have not prevailed.  The first is in the Obama Administration, which has largely managed to keep austerity at bay at the federal level.  As a result, our economic decline has been less disastrous than that of many European nations.  Unfortunately, the Obama Administrations lack of austerity has been counterbalanced by increasing austerity at state and local government levels, and by conservatives in Congress.  That is why we continue to struggle economically here.

And a second realm where austerity has not prevailed in Iceland, which had a horrible financial collapse, but has recovered far more quickly because the Icelandic people refused to carry the pain and the blame for economic problems created by the banksters.

Time and time again, austerity has failed while Keynesian-type stimulus policies have succeeded.  Let’s hope we get more political leaders who are interested in heeding such results, rather than in continuing to look for imaginary confidence fairies and bond vigilantes hiding under their beds.

My comment about whether the complete takeover of the Republican Party by wingnuts will doom the Republicans in the next election.   This comment was in response to Paul Krugman’s NYT blog post Charlatans and Cranks

Over at Balloon Juice, John Cole has coined the term “peak wingnut” for the garbage that comes out of the right wing echo chamber.  Namely, every time the right wing comes out with a new, more ridiculous conspiracy theory, fake controversy, or policy position, everyone thinks that the right wing has finally reached the limits of the crazy.  And then the right wing proves us wrong by coming up with something even crazier.  The joke behind peak wingnut, therefore, appears to be that the peak is never reached.

I certainly hope that you are correct that the 2010 election results will ultimately doom the wingnuts by wrongly convincing the Republicans that they could go peak wingnut and still win.  And the polling results suggest that your tentative prediction may prove to be correct – the pubic overwhelmingly rejects Republicans proposals such as abolishing Medicare and the radical Republican governors like Walker in Wisconsin, Kasich in Ohio, and Scott in Florida, are highly unpopular.

In order to strike a real blow against peak wingnut, however, the Democrats need to handily sweep the 2012 elections.  And, with the media and free-spending billionaires on the Republicans’ side, the only way such a sweep can occur is if all of us progressives get involved in pushing the progressive message, supporting the most progressive candidate in each political race (even if that candidate is far from the ideal we would like), and focusing our attacks on Republicans instead of on each other.

Weekend Reading List

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

For this weekend’s reading list, we have articles on the impacts of economic inequality on Social Security, how bankers and austerity advocates have ruined the Irish economy, how theoretical fears about inflation are stopping the Federal Reserve from doing what is needed to address real economic problems, an interview about how to restore American cities, and coverage of leaked documents regarding Guantanamo.

If you have any feedback on these articles, or would like to recommend an article for next week’s reading list, please let us know at the Winning Progressive Facebook page.

Rising Inequality and the Social Security Shortfall – A good overview at the blog GoozNews.Com about how growing income inequality has led to declining Social Security revenue.  While the article calls for raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes, which is currently at $106,800, Winning Progressive believes we should simply eliminate the cap so that all income is treated equally in the Social Security system.

When Irish Eyes Are Crying – an article by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair about how over-exuberant bankers destroyed the Irish economy and the austerity-focused Irish government has failed to stem the collapse.

The Debate That’s Muting the Fed’s Response – an essay from Christina Romer about how unsubstantiated, theoretical concerns about inflation are hindering the Federal Reserve from taking steps needed to help our economy recover.

A Conversation With Edward L. Glaeser - an interview at the New York Times Economix blog with density advocate Edward L. Glaeser about steps we could take to revitalize American cities like Detroit.

The Guantanamo Files – Coverage in the Guardian newspaper about leaked files that reveal just how much of a travesty and injustice the American prison camp at Guantanamo has been.

The Budget Battle Begins

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

(By Mark McCutchan)

Liberal bloggers were briefed Monday by White House advisor David Plouffe on details of the President’s budget proposal (Winning Progressive was not invited).  Despite cuts to Pell grants, heating assistance, community organizations and other parts of the safety net, the response by progressives was muted.  Republicans, on the other hand, said through House budget chair Paul Ryan that the budget proposal is an “abdication” [of responsibility] – “the President punted on the budget and the president punted on the debt.”

The Republican Party has found a politically winning theme in promoting fiscal responsibility through an arbitrary goal of $100 billion in budget reductions, although polls show it is not a winning theme once they have to identify specific cuts.

Some of their proposed cuts for the last 7 months of this fiscal year:

$1300 million from Community health centers

$1008 million from Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC)

$1111 million from investments in Science

$1200 million from FEMA

$1800 million from EPA clean water and drinking water efforts

$900 million from the Centers for Disease Control

$899 million from Energy efficiency and renewable energy

The GOP seems to want Americans hungry, sick and ignorant – unable to compete in the global economy.  These cuts are in stark contrast to the $450 million earmark that House Speaker John Boehner has protected for his home district – it would pay for engine development for the Joint Strike Fighter that the Department of Defense doesn’t even want.

Cutting discretionary spending will do little to reduce the deficit, it will hurt lower and middle income families, and it threatens the extremely fragile economic situation.  “Cutting your way to economic health” also reinforces the conservative frame that “the federal government wastes your money”.

We would like to support the President in his efforts to improve the economy, but he is following the bad advice of his political advisors, who think he can triangulate his way out of the deficit issue.  His emulation of the GOP by cutting taxes and the domestic budget is a game he cannot win – they will always demand more cuts. The president had the solution in January, when he called for major investment in 21st Century infrastructure, during his State of the Union address.

The progressive response to the President’s budget proposal was a bad one, too – if we don’t get angry and loud when someone says they will take our lunch money, we’re going to have some mighty hungry days ahead.

The real focus for achieving economic recovery should be a comprehensive plan tackling the revenue and expenditure ends:

  • Promote job growth to increase income tax revenues, through investment in infrastructure, and repeal/renegotiation of free trade agreements
  • Cut defense spending by reducing our role as the world’s policeman
  • Remove agricultural, fossil fuel and all other corporate subsidies
  • Rein in health care costs, through improvements on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and promotion of healthier lifestyles
  • Ask the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share again.  Tax revenues are currently at 9% of GDP, which is half of the average in post-WWII America.
  • Apply the Social Security tax to all income, rather than just the first $90,000.
  • Grant legal status and eventual citizenship to more immigrants, so that we have more young people paying into Social Security and Medicare.

More ideas for deficit reduction are in the ThinkProgress piece here.

President Franklin Roosevelt once said in response to a progressive proposal, “I agree with you, I want to do it – now make me do it.” Likewise, we need to support President Obama’s inspiring State of the Union vision – contact the President, your representatives, and write letters to the editor of your newspapers and encourage them to soundly reject cuts in the federal budget that would hurt America’s middle class, working class, and poor.

Here are links for submitting letters to the editor for national papers, and to newspapers in Colorado, Connecticut, DelawareIllinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

If you have any comments or feedback, let us know at the Winning Progressive Facebook page.