Saturday, November 28, 2015

Requiem for a Bureaucrat

Victor G. Reuther: January 1, 1912—June 3, 2004

Jim McNeill

n January 11, 1937, two weeks into the epic sit-down strike at General Motors in Flint, Michigan, a young socialist named Victor Reuther arrived in a rickety sound car at GM’s Fisher Body Plant No. 2. GM had just turned off the plant’s heat—it was 16 degrees outside—and cut off food to the sit-down strikers inside. Reuther, seeking to lift the strikers’ spirits, asked if they’d like to hear a song. “Can the music,” they cried, “get us some food.”

Young Reuther did as he was told. Quickly, he organized a group of pickets outside the plant to face down the company guards at its gates. Outnumbered, the guards retreated. The food was delivered, the strikers cheered. But suddenly, in squad cars and on foot, Flint’s police force surged up the street. firing tear-gas shells before them, the police scattered the pickets and seemed poised to tout the strikers inside.

Glenn Greenwald: Why the CIA is Smearing Edward Snowden After the Paris Attacks

Decent people see tragedy and barbarism when viewing a terrorism attack. American politicians and intelligence officials see something else: opportunity.

Bodies were still lying in the streets of Paris when CIA operatives began exploiting the resulting fear and anger to advance long-standing political agendas. They and their congressional allies instantly attempted to heap blame for the atrocity not on Islamic State but on several preexisting adversaries: Internet encryption, Silicon Valley's privacy policies and Edward Snowden.

Reimagining Journalism: The Story of the One Percent

Michael Massing

Despite fizzling out within months, Occupy Wall Street succeeded in changing the terms of political discussion in America. Inequality, the concentration of wealth, the one percent, the new Gilded Age—all became fixtures of national debate thanks in part to the protesters who camped out in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. Even the Republican presidential candidates have felt compelled to address the matter. News organizations, meanwhile, have produced regular reports on the fortunes of the wealthy, the struggles of the middle class, and the travails of those left behind.

Even amid the outpouring of coverage of rising income inequality, however, the richest Americans have remained largely hidden from view. On all sides, billionaires are shaping policy, influencing opinion, promoting favorite causes, polishing their images—and carefully shielding themselves from scrutiny. Journalists have largely let them get away with it. News organizations need to find new ways to lift the veil off the superrich and lay bare their power and influence. Digital technology, with its flexibility, speed, boundless capacity, and ease of interactivity, seems ideally suited to this task, but only if it’s used more creatively than it has been to date.

Fox News asked a Chicago protester about black-on-black crime. His response was perfect.

by German Lopez

The common defense to criticisms of racial disparities in police use of force takes the form of a question: "But what about black-on-black crime?" The conservative argument is that black people are disproportionately killed by gun violence in their own communities, so perhaps they should worry about that before they worry about what police are doing.

On Tuesday night, Fox News's Mike Tobin put the black-on-black crime question to a protester in Chicago, Brendan Glover, after the release of a video showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce

The retail giant is Always watching.

By Susan Berfield

In the autumn of 2012, when Walmart first heard about the possibility of a strike on Black Friday, executives mobilized with the efficiency that had built a retail empire. Walmart has a system for almost everything: When there’s an emergency or a big event, it creates a Delta team. The one formed that September included representatives from global security, labor relations, and media relations. For Walmart, the stakes were enormous. The billions in sales typical of a Walmart Black Friday were threatened. The company’s public image, especially in big cities where its power and size were controversial, could be harmed. But more than all that: Any attempt to organize its 1 million hourly workers at its more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. was an existential danger. Operating free of unions was as essential to Walmart’s business as its rock-bottom prices.

Home, Sweet Kleptocracy

Kabul in America

By Rebecca Gordon

A top government official with energy industry holdings huddles in secret with oil company executives to work out the details of a potentially lucrative “national energy policy.” Later, that same official steers billions of government dollars to his former oil-field services company. Well-paid elected representatives act with impunity, routinely trading government contracts and other favors for millions of dollars. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens live in fear of venal police forces that suck them dry by charging fees for services, throwing them in jail when they can’t pay arbitrary fines or selling their court “debts” to private companies. Sometimes the police just take people’s life savings leaving them with no recourse whatsoever. Sometimes they steal and deal drugs on the side. Meanwhile, the country’s infrastructure crumbles. Bridges collapse, or take a quarter-century to fix after a natural disaster, or (despite millions spent) turn out not to be fixed at all. Many citizens regard their government at all levels with a weary combination of cynicism and contempt. Fundamentalist groups respond by calling for a return to religious values and the imposition of religious law.

Blowback -- the Washington War Party's Folly Comes Home to Roost

David Stockman

Exactly 26 years ago last week, peace was breaking out in a manner that the world had not experienced since June 1914. The Berlin Wall—the symbol of a century of state tyranny, grotesque mass warfare and the nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over the planet—had come tumbling down on November 9, 1989.

It was only a matter of time before the economically decrepit Soviet regime would be no more, and that the world’s vast arsenal of weapons and nuclear bombs could be dismantled.

America has never recovered from Ronald Reagan. That’s why Bernie Sanders is so important.

Sanders explained his democratic socialism in a speech last week that should be a wakeup call for America

Conor Lynch

On Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gave his long planned speech on Democratic Socialism, invoking great American leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and reminding everyone that some of the most popular social programs we have today — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — were all once labeled socialist and aggressively opposed by monied interests, who FDR called “economic royalists.”

Not only were social programs opposed and called socialism; so were any kind of laws or regulations that intervened with the “free market” for the betterment of society. “Unemployment insurance, abolishing child labor, the 40-hour work week, collective bargaining, strong banking regulations, deposit insurance, and job programs that put millions of people to work were all described, in one way or another, as ‘socialist,’” explained Sanders.

Who Turned My Blue State Red?

Why poor areas vote for politicians who want to slash the safety net.

by Alec MacGillis

It is one of the central political puzzles of our time: Parts of the country that depend on the safety-net programs supported by Democrats are increasingly voting for Republicans who favor shredding that net.

In his successful bid for the Senate in 2010, the libertarian Rand Paul railed against “intergenerational welfare” and said that “the culture of dependency on government destroys people’s spirits,” yet racked up winning margins in eastern Kentucky, a former Democratic stronghold that is heavily dependent on public benefits. Last year, Paul R. LePage, the fiercely anti-welfare Republican governor of Maine, was re-elected despite a highly erratic first term — with strong support in struggling towns where many rely on public assistance. And earlier this month, Kentucky elected as governor a conservative Republican who had vowed to largely undo the Medicaid expansion that had given the state the country’s largest decrease in the uninsured under Obamacare, with roughly one in 10 residents gaining coverage.

The Koch intelligence agency

s the billionaires’ network works to reshape U.S. politics, it keeps a close eye on the left.

By Kenneth P. Vogel

The political network helmed by Charles and David Koch has quietly built a secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life.

The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as “competitive intelligence” that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network.

The ‘War on Terror’ Has Been Lost

After 14 years, trillions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of people dead – with violence expanding, not abating – perhaps it’s finally time to admit that the Bush-Obama “War on Terror” has been lost and that a new strategy addressing root causes is required, as Nat Parry describes.

By Nat Parry

Last week’s attacks in Paris offered a painful and tragic reminder that despite the unprecedented counterterrorism measures implemented since the attacks on New York and Washington 14 years ago, citizens in the West remain as vulnerable as ever to the threat of extremist violence. This may come as a bit of a shock to those who may have expected that the massive investment in fighting terrorism would have resulted in more safety and security by now.

With trillions of dollars spent on overseas military adventures, unprecedented “homeland security” and mass surveillance, and countless lives lost in U.S. wars, it’s not unreasonable to have thought that perhaps more measurable progress would have been made in countering the terrorist threat against the United States.

The One Question Reporters Never Ask Candidates

by Ralph Nader

Candidates for public office, especially at the state and national levels, are never asked this central question of politics: “Since the people are sovereign under our Constitution, how do you specifically propose to restore power to the people in their various roles as voters, taxpayers, workers and consumers?”

Imagine that inquiry starting the so-called presidential debates of both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. I’m not sure any of the candidates – so used to saying “I will do this” and “I propose that” would even know how to respond. Regardless of their affiliation with either of the two dominant parties, politicians are so used to people being spectators rather than participants in the run-up to Election Day that they have not thought much about participatory or initiatory democracy. Too many of them, backed by the concentrated wealth of plutocrats, have perfected the silver-tongued skills of flattery, obfuscation and deception.

Privacy groups fight to expose secret cyber ruling

By Cory Bennett and Julian Hattem

Civil liberties advocates are trying to bring to light a secret legal document that could upend the congressional fight over cybersecurity.

For years, the Obama administration has repeatedly declined to reveal a 2003 decision from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), claiming that it no longer relies on the opinion.

But the continued secrecy has digital privacy experts worried the decision addresses the government's right to access data and could give license to warrantless surveillance.

The Right's Anti-Minimum-Wage Arguments Have Pretty Much Stayed the Same for 80 Years

By Branko Marcetic, In These Times | News Analysis

Over the past year, the campaign to raise the minimum wage has been steadily accumulating prominence, political allies and, most importantly, successes. Not surprisingly, it has also occasioned a pushback from conservative politicians and columnists who view its increase as a misguided, self-defeating folly.

The main points of the conservative argument against raising the minimum wage tend to be as follows: Increasing it would lead businesses to either raise prices or fire workers (or both) in order to deal with a spiraling cost of labor. This means that while some workers would be lifted out of poverty, many would lose their jobs, plunging them into greater financial straits, while all consumers would lose out from paying more for goods and services. This would ironically hit young, inexperienced and low-skill workers the hardest, as they have the least bargaining power and are typically the first to be fired. It is therefore better to let the market take its course and allow businesses to gradually raise their wages of their own accord.

Welfare Reform’s Broken Promises Exposed Again

Isaiah J. Poole

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says he wants to double down on so-called “welfare reform” from his new perch as speaker of the House. But Ryan should first look at the experience of Maryland, and specifically to a recent study that exposes the broken promise of welfare reform.

That study, by researcher Lisa Thiebaud Nicoli at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, is one of the remarkably few efforts to actually chronicle in detail how welfare recipients actually fare once they get back into the workforce. The story for a majority of people in Maryland who exit Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – the official name of the federal welfare program – is “a struggle to earn enough to achieve self-sufficiency” and make ends meet, the report said.

The Saudi Connection to Terror

Exclusive: While Official Washington devotes much sound and fury to demands for a wider war in Syria and the need to turn away Syrian refugees, Democrats and Republicans dodge the tougher question: how to confront Saudi Arabia about its covert funding for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, writes Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

How does ISIS pay for its operations? This is the key question as the war against the terror organization advances to a new level in the wake of the Paris atrocities. But the mainstream’s approved answer is part of the problem.

That approved answer, from many political leaders and assorted “terrorism experts,” is that ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State and Daesh) funds its operations through a variety of illicit activities such as illegal antiquity sales, kidnapping for ransom, holding up banks, and peddling crude from oil fields it controls in northern Syria and Iraq.

Hang Onto Your Wallets: Negative Interest, the War on Cash, and the $10 Trillion Bail-in

In uncertain times, “cash is king,” but central bankers are systematically moving to eliminate that option. Is it really about stimulating the economy? Or is there some deeper, darker threat afoot?

by Ellen Brown

Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned “Let your money work for you”? Or the scene in Mary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into “all manner of private enterprise,” including “bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . . .”?

That may still work if you’re a Wall Street banker, but if you’re an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.

Take a Wild Guess About Why Koch Brothers Got So Interested in 'Criminal Justice' Reform

A high-profile bipartisan effort contains fine print for helping corporate America face even less legal scrutiny.

By Steven Rosenfeld

As the GOP-controlled Congress drafts a major criminal justice reform package to unshackle millions of poor and people of color from a predatory legal system, House Republicans are ensuring that corporate America will also get what it wants: tougher legal hurdles for prosecutors to go after white-collar crimes.

An early draft of one bill in the House Judiciary Committee’s package of reforms would raise the legal threshold needed to prove a person committed a white-collar offense. In most instances today, a person cannot claim he didn’t know what he was doing was illegal. But the House’s proposal would require government to “prove that the defendant knew, or had reason to believe, the conduct was unlawful.”

Paul Krugman: The Farce Awakens

Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of the website, is a serious power in right-wing circles. Speechifying at RedState’s annual gathering is a rite of passage for aspiring Republican politicians, and Mr. Erickson made headlines this year when he disinvited Donald Trump from the festivities.

So it’s worth paying attention to what Mr. Erickson says. And as you might guess, he doesn’t think highly of President Obama’s antiterrorism policies.

Uber Is Not the Future of Work

Gig-enabling apps are a distraction from the uncertainties that affect far more people: Will workers get paid enough and are their jobs safe?

Lawrence Mishel

The rise of Uber has convinced many pundits, economists, and policymakers that freelancing via digital platforms is becoming increasingly important to Americans’ livelihood. It has also promoted the idea that new technology—particularly the explosion of platforms enabling the gig economy—will fundamentally alter the future of work.

While Uber and other new companies in the gig economy receive a lot of attention, a look at Uber’s own data about its drivers’ schedules and pay reveals them to be much less consequential than most people assume. In fact, dwelling on these companies too much distracts from the central features of work in America that should be prominent in the public discussion: a disappointingly low minimum wage, lax overtime rules, weak collective-bargaining rights, and excessive unemployment, to name a few. When it comes to the future of work, these are the aspects of the labor market that deserve the most attention.

TPP Financial Stability Threats Unveiled: It’s Worse than We Thought

Posted by Nick Florko

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch has carefully analyzed the Financial Services Chapter of the recently released Trans-Pacific Partnership. One story that has not been told about the TPP is how this first U.S. trade agreement negotiated since the global financial crisis would impose the same model of financial deregulation that is widely understood to have fueled the crisis.

It’s Paul Krugman vs. Noam Chomsky: This is the history we need to understand Paris, ISIS

Krugman mocks idea that US imperialism's at root of all evil. But scars of our meddling are key to the Middle East

Patrick L. Smith

Two remarks a few days apart lead straight to the question posed in this space after last Friday’s tragic events in Paris. Why? Why does the Islamic State wage war? Why does this war now reach into a Western capital? The question is why, the argument being we will get nowhere in resolving a crisis that can no longer be described as the Middle East’s alone until we ask it and attempt answers.

“If you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people,” President Obama asserted after a Group of 20 summit in Turkey Monday. “That’s one of the challenges of terrorism…. It is the ideology they carry with them and their willingness to die.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Elizabeth Warren Blasts Tax Plan as 'Giant Wet Kiss' to Corporate America

"The corporate giants are lined up to make sure tax changes tilt their way."

by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Denouncing a "rigged" system that favors corporations over middle-class Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a "must-watch" speech on Wednesday that any reform of the U.S. corporate tax code must force big businesses to "substantially increase" the amount of federal tax they pay.

She described that "deemed repatriation" plan—which would allow U.S. companies to pay less tax on profits generated abroad if that money is repatriated to the U.S.—as "a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers who have already parked $2.1 trillion overseas."

The GOP’s devious Wall Street welfare plan: Why the future of the economy hangs in the balance

Congressional Republicans are preparing to hold vital legislation hostage in order to ram through deregulation

David Dayen

You wouldn’t know it, but this is a consequential week for the future of financial regulation, and in a larger sense, the future of the economy. Republicans have pulled out a successful playbook, and are planning an assault on Wall Street regulations. They’re doing it with the avowed support of a lingering faction of conservative Democrats. And the level of that support, which will be tested in House votes this week, is key to the success of the plan.

The game plan is simple: stick as many riders onto two must-pass bills as possible, holding them hostage to conservative ideology. The bills include a long-term reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund, which expires shortly, and a package of appropriations bills to keep the government funded, which have a deadline of December 11. Even if the Obama Administration forces some riders out, plenty of other policies would pass into law that would never have a shot on a straight-up vote.

One Chart That Should Make Americans Wake Up

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement and more recent cross-country stumping by Senator Bernie Sanders, millions of Americans have awakened to the frightening reality that corrupted power in America is now fully engaged in running an institutionalized wealth transfer system cleverly masquerading as an economic model. As Senator Sanders has reminded the tens of thousands turning out to hear him speak:
The U.S. has the greatest income and wealth inequality of any other major developed country;
One percent of the population now controls a greater share of pre-tax income than at any time since the 1920s, (the last time Wall Street was legally allowed to gamble for the house with bank deposits);

Where have all the workers gone?

By: Isabel V. Sawhill

Employment rates among prime-age workers, especially men, have declined sharply over the last few decades. The Great Recession made matters worse. Recent declines in the unemployment rate have enticed some back into the active labor force but the long-term picture is still discouraging. When we compare the U.S. to other advanced countries, working-age adults are simply not working as much as adults in most European nations.

What's going on here? As my colleague Gary Burtless notes, three developments have probably played a role. First, real wages have fallen by 28 percent for high-school educated men since 1980, making work much less attractive, but also signaling that employers are looking for a higher level of skill. Second, the disability rolls have been growing (primarily because of musculoskeletal and mental health issues). Although getting onto disability is a long and involved process, the benefits compete favorably with what a low-skilled worker could earn and create a disincentive to re-enter the labor market. Third, now that women are almost half the labor force, the pressure for men to work has lessened.

What Happened When Jeb Bush Hired an Evangelical Hardliner to Run Florida’s Child Welfare System

It didn't go well.

—By Stephanie Mencimer

It was 2002, Gov. Jeb Bush was up for reelection, and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) was in chaos. News had recently broken that a five-year-old Miami girl in state care had disappeared—and no one had noticed her absence for more than a year. Police had recently found a child welfare worker passed out drunk in her car with a kid in the back seat. A two-year-old boy was beaten to death on the same day a caseworker claimed to have visited him. The department head had quit amid a series of controversies. Bush needed a replacement, one that signaled that he had a plan to restore order to the scandal-plagued agency. But his choice to fill the job, Jerry Regier, a Christian conservative culture warrior who had served in Bush’s father’s presidential administration, soon landed in a controversy of his own involving spanking.

Regier held a range of hardline religious views and supported the use of corporal punishment against children. He was the founding president of Family Research Council, the social conservative group that has denounced homosexuality and defended the rights of parents to physically discipline their children. (FRC was co-founded by James Dobson, an influential psychologist who, starting in the 1970s, wrote numerous parenting books touting the value of using a switch or belt on defiant children.)

The Dark Money Behind the Elizabeth Warren “Commie” Ad

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal agency created after the 2008 crash to protect the little guy from Wall Street predators, which has done a top-flight job of it, was portrayed as a commie organization in a advertisement that ran repeatedly during the Republican Presidential debate on November 10. To enhance the communist theme of the ad (see full video below) giant banners of CFPB Director, Richard Cordray, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who pushed for the creation of the agency, hang on the wall in a nod to Soviet dictators.

The advertisement is grossly misleading, overtly suggesting that the job of the CFPB is to deny car loans and mortgages to regular folks seeking credit. The agency, in fact, has absolutely nothing to do with approving credit applications. Its job is to root out and punish financial institutions that are ripping off customers. For example, in July of this year, the serial looter, Citigroup, was ordered by the CFPB to reimburse an estimated $700 million to 7 million of its credit card customers for deceptive marketing and billing for services that were never provided. The agency has also recently gone after student loan and mortgage servicers for ripping off borrowers with excessive fees and unwarranted interest payments.

Empathy is key to political persuasion, shows new research

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

Toronto - It's not news that liberals and conservatives are lousy at winning each other over.

But if they really care about making even modest in-roads with each other, they'll pay attention to research showing that arguments based on a political opponent's moral principles, rather than one's own, have a much better chance of success.

The University of North Carolina’s New President Should Scare Anyone Who Cares About Higher Ed

 Margaret Spellings is a Karl Rove protégé who calls students “customers,” and now she’s in charge of the state’s prestigious public university system.

By Zoë Carpenter

After the board that governs the University of North Carolina unexpectedly fired system president Tom Ross in January, there were murmurs that it might replace Ross with conservative kingmaker Art Pope. Pope and the web of think tanks and political groups he funds have long envisioned radical changes in the university system, as I reported in June. While Ross was respected by faculty, he was also a Democrat; UNC’s Board of Governors is appointed by the legislature, which flipped Republican in 2010. Many interpreted Ross’s ouster as the beginning of an ideological purge. Indeed, in the months that followed the board and legislature made a number of moves with troubling implications for intellectual freedom and accessibility at what has long been one of the country’s most celebrated public universities.

Pope himself was not really a plausible replacement; his appointment would have been too transparently political, and his network has clashed with (comparatively) moderate elements on the board and in the legislature. When the board made a selection in late October it chose someone outside the state’s conservative machinery: Margaret Spellings, former secretary of education under George W. Bush. Spellings is a seasoned political operative; Karl Rove introduced her to Bush, and she went on to direct his campaign for Texas governor and follow him to the White House. She is the latest in a string of politicians and former executives—including former homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano at the University of California, and Timothy Wolfe, who resigned Monday after protests at the University of Missouri—to be installed at the helm of a public university. She’s not Pope, but her track record gives those concerned about the corporatization of higher education something to worry about nonetheless.

Paul Krugman: Fearing Fear Itself

Like millions of people, I’ve been obsessively following the news from Paris, putting aside other things to focus on the horror. It’s the natural human reaction. But let’s be clear: it’s also the reaction the terrorists want. And that’s something not everyone seems to understand.

Take, for example, Jeb Bush’s declaration that “this is an organized attempt to destroy Western civilization.” No, it isn’t. It’s an organized attempt to sow panic, which isn’t at all the same thing. And remarks like that, which blur that distinction and make terrorists seem more powerful than they are, just help the jihadists’ cause.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Family Plot

On the rule of the perpetual snot-nose

Kathleen Geier

This August, a crew of crackpot Republican presidential hopefuls dutifully trudged to an elite donor conference hosted by the powerful patrons of the American right, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The candidates outdid one another in obsequiousness. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina gushed that the Kochs and their cronies are “people who care deeply about our nation, and who are willing to put their time and their energy and their resources and their minds to the challenge of making a better nation.” And Wisconsin governor Scott Walker chirped hopefully, from the dregs of his campaign, “So many of you here aren’t here because of any interest on behalf of your personal finances or your industries, you’re here because you love America.” But there was one GOP contender who was having none of it: real estate magnate and reality TV star Donald Trump. The short-fingered vulgarian tweeted, “I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?”

Cradle to Grave

L.A.’s family-unfriendly family court

Natasha Vargas-Cooper

Whenever a toddler dies in Los Angeles, if the word “accident” or “drowning” doesn’t immediately appear in the headline, anyone versed in the basics of family trauma will already know the cause of death: the boyfriend. Sometimes it’s the biological father, but more often it’s the mother’s inamorato—a man in his twenties, who has a record, who shakes, beats, or starves a baby to death. There’s almost always a story in which the baby ends up in the ER or the ambulance several hours too late; translated into the bloodless euphemisms favored by court records and news reports, it becomes a weirdly causeless-sounding tragedy—the baby “fell” or “just stopped breathing.”

And if you peer a bit deeper into the patterns of family pathology, you come upon another near-universal trend: whatever bleak house this child was raised in was not off the radar. That is to say, many children who perish at the hands (or the equally lethal negligence) of their parents are already known to social workers. In 2014, forty-two children died of abuse and neglect in Los Angeles County. At least half of these had been previously referred to the county’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

‘Right Out of California’ Book Review: On the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism

By Gabriel Thompson

“Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism”
A book by Kathryn S. Olmsted

On a January evening in 1934, an attorney with the ACLU named A.L. Wirin was due to speak in Brawley, a small city in the vast desert east of San Diego. His subject was the U.S. Constitution and the right of workers to strike. Wirin’s was not an academic lecture: Two weeks earlier, 5,000 lettuce workers — the vast majority from Mexico — had refused to enter the fields surrounding Brawley, demanding 35 cents an hour (the equivalent of about $6 today). In response, police arrested strikers, and vigilantes broke up rallies with tear gas and clubs, while labor organizers darted from one worker’s home to the next, trying to both maintain morale and stay alive. “If you checked into a hotel in Brawley, no matter what name you used, you were sticking your neck into a noose,” recalled Pat Chambers, one of the most talented farmworker organizers of the period.

Free Speech Is No Diversion

Defenders of the First Amendment aren’t distracting from attention from racism—they’re preserving the tools necessary to struggle against it.

Conor Friedersdorf

In January of 1987, flyers distributed anonymously at the University of Michigan declared “open season” on black people, referring to them with the most disgusting racial slurs. “Shortly thereafter,” Catherine B. Johnson noted in a law journal article, “a student disc jockey for the campus radio station allowed racist jokes to be told on-air. In response to these incidents, students at the University staged a demonstration to voice their opposition. The rally, however, was interrupted by the display of a Ku Klux Klan uniform dangling out of a nearby dormitory window.”

Students in Ann Arbor were understandably upset and outraged by the racist climate created by these events. Administrators decided to respond by implementing a speech code. Thereafter, racist incidents kept occurring on campus at the same rate as before. And before the speech code was struck down 18 months later as a violation of the First Amendment, white students had charged black students with offensive speech in 20 cases. One “resulted in the punishment of a black student for using the term ‘white trash’ in conversation with a white student,” the ACLU later reported, explaining its position that “speech codes don't really serve the interests of persecuted groups. The First Amendment does.”

Beware of ads that use inaudible sound to link your phone, TV, tablet, and PC

Privacy advocates warn feds about surreptitious cross-device tracking.

by Dan Goodin

Privacy advocates are warning federal authorities of a new threat that uses inaudible, high-frequency sounds to surreptitiously track a person's online behavior across a range of devices, including phones, TVs, tablets, and computers.

The ultrasonic pitches are embedded into TV commercials or are played when a user encounters an ad displayed in a computer browser. While the sound can't be heard by the human ear, nearby tablets and smartphones can detect it. When they do, browser cookies can now pair a single user to multiple devices and keep track of what TV commercials the person sees, how long the person watches the ads, and whether the person acts on the ads by doing a Web search or buying a product.

Richard Eskow: The “New Democrats” Confront a New Reality

Several recent news articles have suggested that, in the words of a Washington Post headline, “there’s … a big economic fight happening in the Democratic Party.”

It’s true. The corporate-friendly policies of the party’s more conservative wing have fared poorly, both as policy and as politics, and as a result the party has moved to the left. The insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders is the most conspicuous sign of this shift. It’s a major setback for the so-called “New Democrats” who have dominated the party since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.

Paul Krugman: Republicans’ Lust for Gold

It’s not too hard to understand why everyone seeking the Republican presidential nomination is proposing huge tax cuts for the rich. Just follow the money: Candidates in the G.O.P. primary draw the bulk of their financial support from a few dozen extremely wealthy families. Furthermore, decades of indoctrination have made an essentially religious faith in the virtues of high-end tax cuts — a faith impervious to evidence — a central part of Republican identity.

But what we saw in Tuesday’s presidential debate was something relatively new on the policy front: an increasingly unified Republican demand for hard-money policies, even in a depressed economy. Ted Cruz demands a return to the gold standard. Jeb Bush says he isn’t sure about that, but is open to the idea. Marco Rubio wants the Fed to focus solely on price stability, and stop worrying about unemployment. Donald Trump and Ben Carson see a pro-Obama conspiracy behind the Federal Reserve’s low-interest rate policy.

It’s Not Just the Drug War

Progressive narratives about what’s driving mass incarceration don’t quite add up.

by Marie Gottschalk

When it comes to uniquely American nightmares, it’s hard to beat our carceral state. Living in a country with 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, many are aware of the human rights catastrophe taking place around them.


Yet a new book by University of Pennsylvania political scientist Marie Gottschalk, Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics, makes it clear that the problem is far worse than commonly suspected, and that the reforms on the table are unlikely to even make a dent in the forces that keep millions behind bars.

George Monbiot: Moral Blankness

A leaked letter from David Cameron offers a remarkable – and terrifying – insight into his mind.

It’s like the crucial moment in Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American. The US agent stares at the blood on his shoes, unable to make the connection between the explosion he commissioned and the bodies scattered across the public square in Saigon. In leaked correspondence with the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council (which covers his own constituency), David Cameron expresses his horror at the cuts being made to local services. This is the point at which you realise that he has no conception of what he has done.

The letters were sent in September, but came to light only on Friday, when they were revealed by the Oxford Mail. The national media has been remarkably slow to pick the story up, given the insight it offers into the Prime Minister’s detachment from the consequences of his actions.

The Philanthropy Hustle

Global North or South, private foundations are part of the problem, not the solution.

by Linsey McGoey

Meet Ajay Banga. The son of an Indian army officer, Banga was born in Khadki, a cantonment a few hours outside Mumbai. After studying economics at Delhi University, he took an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management and began an illustrious career working for corporate giants like Nestlé and PepsiCo. In 2010, Banga was appointed CEO of Mastercard, headquartered in Purchase, New York.

He is one of only a handful of Fortune 500 heads to complete his primary, secondary, and post-secondary education entirely in India.

Banga took on a healthy company and made it even more profitable. In 2009, Mastercard earned a profit of $1.5 billion on revenues of $5.1 billion. In 2013, profit reached $3.1 billion on revenues of $8.4 billion. The company’s stock has jumped 330 percent over the past five years.

GOP voters want an apocalypse: The truth about Trump & Carson’s success

We've long since passed the time when Trump & Carson could be written off. Something's different this election

Heather Digby Parton

For the last couple of years, the conventional wisdom has been that the Republican Party potential presidential field was an embarrassment of riches. Their “bench” was so chock full of executive talent, they barely had room for them all. This was always discussed in the context of the Democratic Party’s sad little group of ancient mariners who might well have already been set on the ice floe in an earlier time.

It’s interesting how that’s unfolding. None of the governors are panning out. Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose record running one of the biggest state’s successfully on a Republican platform was no help, dropped out first; followed by the union slaying Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Both had been highly touted as excellent presidential material based on their records. None of the current and former governors, from Bush to Kasich, Christie, Huckabee, Jindal and Pataki, have caught fire either. Between them, they have decades of executive experience and yet they can’t get any momentum. This flies in the face of everything we’ve ever heard about the Republican reverence for state government, for executive experience and the ability to get results from Republican policies.

Elizabeth Warren Exposes How Financial Advisers Exploit Retirees

It's legal for them to choose free vacations over their clients' interests.

—By Hannah Levintova

Retirees across America look to financial advisers for help in navigating options for smart retirement saving. But there's a scary fact many folks don't know when they entrust their life savings to a broker. According to a report released by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) last week, many financial advisers promote inferior financial products to collect kickbacks—from pricey Caribbean vacations to gift cards and golf outings—offered by the companies that sell certain annuities. And what's worse, that practice is totally legal.

The study, called "Villas, Castles, and Vacations: How Perks and Giveaways Create Conflicts of Interest in the Annuity Industry," points out that loopholes in various rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, state insurance departments, and other agencies allow this practice to continue. The tainted financial advice costs Americans about $17 billion every year.>

The Republican Debate: Almost Every ‘Fact’ About Wall Street Was False

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Following the Republican Presidential debate in Milwaukee last evening, Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a blistering statement to supporters. It said, in part:
“Did you see the attack ad about me during the GOP debate tonight? A right-wing group launched a full-scale assault on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the watchdog we set up after the 2008 financial crisis to fight back when big banks try to cheat people on credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products…If the Republicans want a fight over the CFPB, I say, ‘Bring it on.’”

Dean Baker: The TPP's Children's Table: Labor Rights and Currency

The concept of the children's table has moved from Thanksgiving dinner to presidential politics with the networks having a separate debate for the low-polling candidates for the Republican nomination. But the concept of the children's table is also useful for understanding trade policy and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP has two classes of issues. On the one hand, there are the issues that really matter to the drafters of the deal. These are issues like protection of patents and copyrights and other forms of investment. Disputes that arise over investment can be taken directly by foreign investors to the investor-state dispute settlement tribunals set up by the TPP.

How Right-Wing One Percenters Are Bankrolling a New Mega-Assault on Working Americans

There's a looming Supreme Court case designed to decimate public-sector unions.

By Adele M. Stan

As the current term of the U.S. Supreme Court opens this autumn, looming on the docket is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case designed to decimate public-sector unions. While it may not come to that—even the most knowledgeable Court-watchers are unsure how the justices will rule—the stakes are high. A decision is expected before the term ends in June.

The case was, in effect, invited by Justice Samuel Alito, who penned the majority opinion in Harris v. Quinn, a 2014 case in which the court ruled against the union representing home-care workers in Illinois. In Harris, as Harold Meyerson wrote here, Alito devoted half of his opinion to considering the constitutionality of public-sector unions’ right to collect “fair share” fees from those who have opted out of union membership. These fees cover the worker’s share of the resources the union spent on negotiating a contract, representing workers in grievance procedures, and other services that benefit the entire workforce. They are lower than the dues assessed the union’s members, whose payments also cover the cost of their union’s political activities.

Bring Back Antitrust

Despite low inflation and some bargain prices, economic concentration and novel abuses of market power are pervasive in today's economy—harming consumers, workers, and innovators. We need a new antitrust for a new predatory era.

By David Dayen

In the late 1980s, Thomas Shaw of Little Elm, Texas, watched a news report about surging HIV and Hepatitis C contractions among health-care workers. When treating patients, nurses and hospital personnel would accidentally stick themselves with used needles.

Shaw had childhood friends suffering from AIDS, and he wanted to help. “I knew I couldn’t fix the biology side of it, but I could fix one part because I’m a mechanical engineer,” Shaw says. So he went to the nearest drugstore and bought a bunch of syringes. He spent years taking them apart until he finally came up with a way to solve the needle-stick epidemic.

Robert Reich: What Happened on My Tour Through Red State America

The best way to learn is to talk with people who disagree with you.

By Robert Reich /

I’ve just returned from three weeks in “red” America. It was ostensibly a book tour but I wanted to talk with conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers.

I intended to put into practice what I tell my students – that the best way to learn is to talk with people who disagree with you. I wanted to learn from red America, and hoped they’d also learn a bit from me (and perhaps also buy my book).

What went wrong with the South?

By Alyson Zandt, MDC

In an article last month for the Washington Post, Chico Harlan describes the difficulties facing young people growing up in some of the nation's lowest wealth communities. "The Deep South's paralyzing intergenerational poverty is the devastating sum of problems both historical and emergent — ones that, in the life of a young man, can build in childhood and then erupt in early adulthood," says Harlan. These young people "deal with traumas at home and dysfunction at school — only to find themselves, as graduates, searching for low-paying jobs in states that have been reluctant to fund programs that help the poor."

An accompanying infographic, which maps life expectancy, children living with one parent, unbanked households, median household income, and income mobility, poses a solemn question:

Paul Krugman: Despair, American Style

A couple of weeks ago President Obama mocked Republicans who are “down on America,” and reinforced his message by doing a pretty good Grumpy Cat impression. He had a point: With job growth at rates not seen since the 1990s, with the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance hitting record highs, the doom-and-gloom predictions of his political enemies look ever more at odds with reality.

Yet there is a darkness spreading over part of our society. And we don’t really understand why.

Confessions of a Paywall Journalist

Thanks to a booming trade press, lobbyists and other insiders know what’s happening in government. The rest of the country, not so much.

By John Heltman

Back in 2009, I had a job with a Washington, D.C.-based newsletter called Water Policy Report. It wasn’t exactly a household name, but I was covering Congress, the federal courts, and the Environmental Protection Agency—a definite step up from the greased-pig-catching contests and crime-blotter stories I had chased at a community newspaper on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, my first job out of college.

One of my responsibilities at the newsletter was to check the Federal Register—the official portal that government agencies use to inform the public about regulatory actions. In December of that year I noticed an item that said that the Environmental Protection Agency had decided that existing pollution controls for offshore oil-drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were adequate, and that there wasn’t enough pollution coming from those platforms to warrant further review or action.

Michael Moore’s Gutsy New Film: Our Military Has Not Won a War Since World War II

Look out: Moore's new film opens with assertion sure to inflame the right, then suggests we "invade" for good ideas.

By Sophia A. McClennen

Michael Moore is no stranger to controversy. He has, after all, been threatened by Clint Eastwood—twice. And who could forget that notorious Michigan restaurant that banned him for a tweet critical of snipers? His new film, “Where to Invade Next,” promises to be his most controversial yet. The controversy, though, is not what many of Moore’s viewers would immediately suspect. Instead of focusing on what is wrong in our country, Moore uses the film to focus on what is right elsewhere. Instead of pointing out our flaws, he imagines our possibilities. And instead of wallowing in fear and panic, he offers practical ideas for productive change. Given that we are in the midst of another election cycle, it’s worth asking what impact it might have on voters. While it is hard to say whether it will influence voting patterns or policy stance, there is one thing for certain: It’s really going to piss a lot of people off.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

George Monbiot: How to Build a Crisis

Banks and corporations are being liberated from the rule of law, and are ripping the world apart.

What have governments learnt from the financial crisis? I could write a column spelling it out. Or I could do the same job with one word. Nothing.

Actually, that’s too generous. The lessons learned are counter-lessons, anti-knowledge, new policies that could scarcely be better designed to ensure the crisis recurs, this time with added momentum and fewer remedies. And the financial crisis is just one of multiple crises – in tax collection, public spending, public health, above all ecology – that the same counter-lessons accelerate.

Neoliberalism's War on Workers: An Interview With Peter Fleming

By Dan Falcone, Truthout | Interview

Neoliberal ideologies and economic shifts are to blame for the intensifying role of work in our lives, says Peter Fleming, the author of The Mythology of Work: How Capitalism Persists Despite Itself (Pluto Books, 2015).

There is no shortage of people with complaints about particular work stresses and instances of overwork, but Fleming, a professor of business and society at City University London, has made it his particular vocation to serve as one of the world's leading critics of work itself.

Worked to Death

How victims are shut out of the workers’ comp system by big bills, bad laws, and companies that will do anything but pay.

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

LANCASTER, Pennsylvania—Finding the first bit of evidence that Gene Cooper’s job damaged his brain and destroyed his health was the easy part. That only took his wife four years, eight doctors, and at least a dozen tests.

The hard part: getting his former employer to pay.

Eight years have passed since Sandra Cooper filed a workers’ compensation claim on her husband’s behalf. She prevailed after 4½ years of wrangling, when a judge agreed that chemical exposure on the job at a flooring factory was the reason Gene Cooper—a bright father of two with a quirky sense of humor—had transformed into a nursing-home patient who couldn’t speak and sometimes stared into space when his family visited. That was 2012. Sandra Cooper is still trying to get medical bills and lost wages covered today, nearly two years after he died.

Bernie Sanders: TPP 'Worse Than I Thought'

'It is clear to me that the proposed agreement is not, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements.'

by Bernie Sanders

Now that the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has finally been released, it is even worse than I thought. It is clear to me that the proposed agreement is not, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements.

This trade deal would make it easier for corporations to shut down more factories in the U.S. and ship more jobs to Vietnam and Malaysia where workers are paid pennies an hour. The TPP is a continuation of our disastrous trade policies that have devastated manufacturing cities and towns all over this country from Newton, Iowa, to Cleveland, Ohio. We need to rebuild the disappearing middle class, not tear it down.

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.

The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon

By Jordan Michael Smith

The voters who put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor.

But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons.

Full Text of TPP Released to Public... And It's Horrible

'We now have concrete evidence that the TransPacific Partnership threatens our families, our communities, and our environment.'

by Jon Queally, staff writer

It's a disaster for people, the planet, democracy, and the future of the global economy.

That was the immediate assessment of informed critics as world governments, including the United States, on Thursday morning made the full text of the controversial TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) available to the public for the first time.

Though a tightly held secret throughout the years-long negotiating process, publication of the entire text (available online here) confirms the deal's many woeful inadequacies which had been gleaned from leaked drafts and public statements by those privy to its contents.

The Dark Truth in the Movie ‘Truth’

Exclusive: Almost four decades after starring in “All the President’s Men,” Robert Redford returns portraying another famous journalist in “Truth.” But the world has been turned upside down. Mainstream media is no longer the hero exposing a corrupt president, but the villain protecting one, as James DiEugenio explains.


In spring 2004, CBS news producer Mary Mapes was doing what journalists are supposed to do – dig up facts that help the public understand important events and often make the powers-that-be squirm. She and Dan Rather, her colleague at the “60 Minutes” offspring “60 Minutes II,” had just exposed the U.S. military’s bizarre mistreatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison.

Documented with damning photos and direct testimony, the story revealed how U.S. military guards had stripped detainees naked and subjected them to sexual humiliations and severe physical abuse. The story forced President George W. Bush to claim that he was morally outraged by these practices and to demand that the implicated soldiers be court-martialed.

How the Koch Brothers Are Investing in College Brainwashing

Bill Berkowitz for Buzzflash at Truthout

By now, most conscious beings know a little something about the Koch Brothers. In a recent interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Charles Koch claimed that politically speaking, he and his brother David are “largely failures.” Thus far, despite the fact that the campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker -- the brothers’ first choice for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination -- sunk like a stone, they have reportedly given $20 million to Super Pacs supporting GOP candidates. As the interview with MSNBC suggested, the brothers are no longer choosing to lead the semi-secret/semi-private lives they once professed to prefer. And, while it’s true that they are not involved in every nefarious anti-democratic initiative coming down the pike, they’ve sure got a lot of coals in the fire.

The Mega-Rich Families Who Own Our Politicians

The Supreme Court's malevolent Citizens United decision has produced an insidious platinum class of mega-donors and corporate super PACs.

By Jim Hightower

In today's so-called "democratic" election process, Big Money doesn't talk, it roars -- usually drowning out the people's voice.

Bizarrely, the Supreme Court decreed in its 2010 Citizens United ruling that money is a form of "free speech." Thus, declared the learned justices, people and corporations are henceforth allowed to spend unlimited sums of their money to "speak" in election campaigns. But wait -- if political speech is measured by money then by definition speech is not free. It can be bought, thereby giving the most speech to the few with the most money. That's plutocracy, not democracy.

A New Biography Traces the Pathology of Allen Dulles and His Appalling Cabal

Jon Schwarz

AS I READ The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, a new book by Salon founder David Talbot, I couldn’t help thinking of an obscure corner of 1970s history: the Safari Club.

Dulles — the Princeton man and white shoe corporate lawyer who served as CIA director from 1953 to 1961, still the longest tenure in agency history — died in 1969 before the Safari Club was conceived. And nothing about it appears in The Devil’s Chessboard. But to understand the Safari Club is to understand Allen Dulles and his milieu.

The Sad Truth of Our Politics: It's Basically Turned into a Competition Among Oligarchs to Own Everything

It could still happen here.

By Thom Hartmann

Ben Carson’s feeble attempt to equate Hitler and pro-gun control Democrats was short-lived, but along with the announcement that Marco Rubio has brought in his second big supporting billionaire, it brings to mind the first American vice-president to point out the “American fascists” among us.

Although most Americans remember that Harry Truman was Franklin D. Roosevelt's vice-president when Roosevelt died in 1945 (making Truman president), Roosevelt had two previous vice-presidents: John N. Garner (1933-1941) and Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945).

Paul Krugman: Partisan Growth Gaps

Last week The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed article by Carly Fiorina titled “Hillary Clinton Flunks Economics,” ridiculing Mrs. Clinton’s assertions that the U.S. economy does better under Democrats. “America,” declared Ms. Fiorina, “needs someone in the White House who actually knows how the economy works.”

Well, we can agree on that much.

Partisan positioning on the economy is actually quite strange. Republicans talk about economic growth all the time. They attack Democrats for “job-killing” government regulations, they promise great things if elected, they predicate their tax plans on the assumption that growth will soar and raise revenues. Democrats are far more cautious. Yet Mrs. Clinton is completely right about the record: historically, the economy has indeed done better under Democrats.

The ‘Anti-Knowledge’ of the Elites

Exclusive: It’s fairly easy to spot the “anti-knowledge” spouted by the Tea Party and the Religious Right’s favorite candidates, but a more subtle form of reality-deprived “group think” pervades America’s elites though it is rarely noted in the polite circles of the mainstream media, writes Mike Lofgren.

By Mike Lofgren

In a previous piece, I described how the Republican Party and its ideological allies in the fundamentalist churches have confected a comprehensive media-entertainment complex to attract low-information Americans and turn them into partisans.

The propaganda they are fed has become so disconnected from facts, evidence and logic that it is all too easy to laugh at people operating on demonstrably — and even ridiculously — false premises, such as the notion that Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is not a natural-born American, or that the Sandy Hook school massacre was an elaborate fake designed to take away the firearms of patriotic Americans.

Time to Stop Worshipping Economic Growth

To remain within the nine planetary boundaries, nations must shed the fetish of economic growth and transition to a true-cost, steady state economy.

by Brent Blackwelder

There are physical limits to growth on a finite planet. In 1972, the Club of Rome issued their groundbreaking report—Limits to Growth (twelve million copies in thirty-seven languages). The authors predicted that by about 2030, our planet would feel a serious squeeze on natural resources, and they were right on target.

In 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Center introduced the concept of planetary boundaries to help the public envision the nature of the challenges posed by limits to growth and physical/biological boundaries. They defined nine boundaries critical to human existence that, if crossed, could generate abrupt or irreversible environmental changes.

Why Community Banks Are Dropping Like Flies Across America

The Dodd-Frank regulations are so lethal to community banks that some say the intent was to force them to sell out to the megabanks.

By Ellen Brown

At over 2,300 pages, the Dodd Frank Act is the longest and most complicated bill ever passed by the US legislature. It was supposed to end “too big to fail” and “bailouts,” and to “promote financial stability.” But Dodd-Frank’s “orderly liquidation authority” has replaced bailouts with bail-ins, meaning that in the event of insolvency, big banks are to recapitalize themselves with the savings of their creditors and depositors. The banks deemed too big are more than 30% bigger than before the Act was passed in 2010, and 80% bigger than before the banking crisis of 2008. The six largest US financial institutions now have assets of some $10 trillion, amounting to almost 60% of GDP; and they control nearly 50% of all bank deposits.