excerpt thumb

Op-ed

By Des Kahn

The Wilmington News-Journal

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To develop an approach to create more jobs in our economy, it helps to understand why so many Americans are without a job. The short-term reason that private companies will not hire more people is that they do not see enough demand in the economy to support additional employees.

A lack of demand means there are not enough people with money to spend demanding more goods and services to buy.

The reason for the low levels of demand is that, as economist Dean Baker explains, we as a country lost so much wealth in the collapse of the housing bubble, and in the stock market drop that was caused by that collapse.

Although some people talk or write about the “financial crisis” as if that were the problem, the crisis in our bloated financial sector was caused by the collapse of the housing bubble. Baker calculates that literally trillions of dollars of wealth disappeared in the collapse of the bubble. Remember back five to 10 years ago, when many Americans were spending money from home equity loans?

In many cases now, their homes have either less or
negative equity, and the banks have sharply reduced those loans. The people who formerly spent their home equity and stock market earnings have cut back.

To provide more demand, we need the federal government to increase deficit spending and stimulate the economy, because the private sector will not do it.

The Green Party has called for this, and President Obama has at various times called for it also, but he has given very mixed and confused messages on the topic, reminding me of the lyrics from the Cream tune, Politician: “I’m on the left, but I’m leaning, leaning to the right.”

While President Obama’s first stimulus program saved many thousands of jobs and created more, it was not large enough to turn our economy around. He later leaned toward satisfying the very misguided calls for fiscal austerity and balancing the budget, by setting up his Deficit Commission and by talking as if the deficit was a serious problem for our country.

The most serious problem in America today is the lack of employment opportunities and the increasing poverty of our people, which many recent news stories have documented.

The Green Party supports government expenditures to correct our severe infrastructure deficit and move us towards less environmentally damaging energy production such as wind power, solar and geothermal power, in part by shifting money away from our huge military empire.

A recent story in The News Journal on problems faced by Bluewater Wind shows the ill effects of fiscal austerity in the midst of a severe economic downturn. The wind venture was initiated when a crucial federal government financial incentive was in place.

The Republicans cut this incentive, presumably to move closer to a balanced budget. Because of this austerity measure, Bluewater may not succeed. That would be a tragic loss of many good jobs for workers, manufacturing, assembling and maintaining the wind turbines.

Another travesty trying to happen with the aid of both Republican and Democratic members of Congress is the slashing of our Postal Service, because our Congress developed the fiction that the Postal Service should pay for itself.

Do schools pay for themselves? How about our highway system, or our court system? The Postal system is a government service vital to our economy, especially many rural and depressed areas. Cutting Saturday delivery would enact an economic cost and move us closer to the level of an underdeveloped country. The cuts proposed will increase unemployment, especially among the many veterans employed by the Service.

The U.S. has a huge infrastructure gap, as Wilmington native Clyde Prestowitz explains in “The Betrayal of American Prosperity,” including not only standard infrastructure like high-speed rail, dams, bridges, schools, and many other physical systems, but digital areas like our poor cell-phone penetration and the abysmally low speed and high costs of our broadband system.

These deficiencies will cost us jobs, as new areas of research that depend on up-to- date systems will move to other countries with the levels of digital infrastructure that such work needs. To both increase our employment levels directly and increase the general level of demand in the economy to indirectly foster increased employment, our federal government must utilize deficit spending in the short term and move to correct these gaping holes in our infrastructure.


Letter to the editor

By Madeline Gutin Perri and Mark Perri

The Wilmington News-Journal

Sept. 5, 2011

We write regarding David McCorquodale’s Delaware Voice a week ago, (“Corporations and people were not meant to be equal”) about the “undue power of corporations in the political process.”

As McCorquodale points out, the courts have ruled that corporations are persons and corporate money is speech.

Free speech is, of course, a constitutional right of persons, so the courts are saying that corporations can spend on politics as freely as people can speak. But because real people rarely have the kind of money corporations have, they wind up “second-class citizens in the political arena.”

And who spends corporate money? The managers who run the corporations. They speak disproportionately loudly in the public arena with money that is not theirs and without personal accountability.

Corporate personhood gives them a megaphone that drowns out our individual voices. This is not fair. The right of free speech applies only to responsible and accountable speech, and it must be available equally to all citizens.


CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE

By Dave McCorquodale

GPDE Treasurer and Delaware’s Move To Amend

The Wilmington News-Journal

August 2011

Corporations and people were not meant to be equal.

On Jan. 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court handed downed its decision in the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case.

In his opinion Justice John Paul Stevens said ” … corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”

Most readers probably agree with Stevens’ opinion, but he wrote the minority dissent. The majority of the court used this case to again expand the “rights” corporations have.

Although the U.S. Constitution never mentions corporations, over the course of two centuries, the Supreme Court has gradually expanded what corporations are allowed to do by viewing them as “persons” with the same human rights as people.

This has culminated in the narrow decision of Citizens United, which overturned the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and thus allows corporations to spend unlimited funds on political campaigns.

Whether or not you were for the McCain-Feingold law, the law was based on the democratic legislative process. But it took only five activist judges to completely overturn that process and discard any attempt to rein in corporations’ power to influence with money.

Few people have anything like the resources of large corporations. Therefore most people have become virtual second-class citizens in the political arena. Politicians, ever in need of money to finance their next election campaign, can never change the perception that they are influenced by the big money.

People on different sides of the political spectrum can disagree on many issues. But here is a first principle, with which people from many viewpoints can agree:

The constitution was written for people, not corporations; activist judges over two centuries have distorted the meaning of “people” to include corporations. It’s time to eliminate the undue power of corporations in the political process.

Already corporations use their influence in the federal government to overturn laws of state or municipal governments.

This has culminated in the narrow decision of Citizens United, which overturned the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and thus allows corporations to spend unlimited funds on political campaigns.

As local and state governments innovate and advocate, the federal government has placed barriers in their way. Increasingly, Congress has legislated, the President mandated, and the Supreme Court adjudicated away the 10th Amendment reservation of power to the states, and by extension, in home rule states, to local governments.

Scorning the constitutional guarantee of a federal government of limited and enumerated powers, and belittling state constitutional provisions guaranteeing limited “home rule” authority to municipalities and counties, corporate lobbyists have developed a doctrine of “federal preemption” as a tool for obliterating local and state laws deemed threatening to corporations.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 severely limited the ability of local governments to regulate local cable markets, and recently introduced legislation would preempt municipal broadband networks.

A petition has been created to gather signatures to show that large numbers of people support the amendment effort. It states:

“We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

  • “Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • “Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.
  • “Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate ‘preemption’ actions by global, national, and state governments.”

Please check MoveToAmend.org and sign the online petition supporting a constitutional amendment.