Monthly Archives: August 2011

Democracy Now! Interviews Richard Wolff

Popular radio show Democracy Now! recently interviewed Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of the book “Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It.”

In his interview, Wolff discusses the current economic crisis and the showdown between Republicans and Democrats regarding the issue of the debt ceiling. Topics covered include possible alternatives to the “solutions” suggested by political leaders, the possible cultural repercussions of an economic meltdown, and lessons that can be taken from the economic situation in Europe.

For the full transcript, click here.

The full audio version of the interview is also available for download.

A Note from Rep. Les Gara…

“Nobody likes being called a liar by well-funded special interests,” writes Les Gara on a recent post at

Gara argues the point that the Governor’s $8 billion reduction in the state’s oil revenue share will not actually inspire new exploration from BP, ConocoPhillips, or Exxon. Others, Gara included, have made proposals that are more beneficial to everyone involved.

In addition, the oil companies concerned with the oil rig debacle pointed out by Hollis French a few weeks ago have claimed that they were ordered before 2007, when the ACES tax law was passed (a supposedly “onerous” law, according to oil companies). Gara cites a number of press sources proving this claim to be false- the rigs were indeed ordered in 2008, well after ACES was made applicable.

The lobbying group in question have also made the claim that other oil states have up to 50 or 100 times more rigs than in AK. This claim doesn’t take into account, however, that in many “Outside” states such as Texas or Wyoming, people can simply drill a 10 or 20 barrel well with a small rig. These tiny operations are numerous and therefore account for the rig disparity. In Alaska, we need world-class drills that are capable of huge field operations- we don’t have the luxury of hopping from oil field to oil field.

Lastly, these oil corporations also announced the building of new offices and developments in Alaska, also well after the implementation of the 2007 tax law. They made no original mention that their new development would be contingent on the passing of the Governor’s $8 billion dollar bill- until now, that is.

The full original report can be found here.

A Second Chance for Convicts

From a NELP op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle by Michelle Natividad Rodriguez and Meredith Desautels:

San Francisco prides itself as being a national leader on civil and human rights. Yet we have continually failed a growing segment of our population – people with arrest or conviction records, who, even after putting those mistakes behind them and moving forward with their lives, face enormous barriers whenever they search for jobs or housing.

An estimated 7 million Californians have arrest or conviction records – that’s 25 percent of the state’s adult population. Many are denied a second chance to realize their potential and contribute to society because of the long shadow cast by past arrests or convictions.

One 60-year-old San Franciscan, for example, was denied a job for which he was perfectly matched after he disclosed a theft conviction from 40 years ago. Although he had become a well-respected family man and had no further problems with the law, he was denied the job because of a mistake from a lifetime ago.

[Read more under the cut.]

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Free Trade Agreements Must Include Assistance to Displaced U.S. Workers

From a NELP op-ed piece in the Detroit Free Press online, by Mike Evangelist:

Public opinion polls consistently reveal that most Americans believe trade agreements between the United States and other countries lead to job losses. Nonetheless, policymakers on both sides of the aisle have long supported free trade policies that open U.S. markets to goods made in low-wage countries and make it beneficial for U.S. companies to export American jobs.

Following NAFTA’s failure to deliver on promised job gains and the more recent susceptibility of once-secure white-collar jobs to off-shoring, cracks are forming in the free-trade facade as policymakers begin to acknowledge that trade does not unequivocally benefit workers here at home or abroad.

Most recently, President Barack Obama postponed action on pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama until Congress agrees to reauthorize key improvements to the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which expired three months ago. The TAA program equips workers who suffer trade-related layoffs with vital skills retraining and reemployment services to help them restart their careers and find good jobs.

[Read more after the cut.]

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Common Cause’s ALEC Report

What do the corporations Altria, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart all have in common?

Besides being multi-million dollar corporations, these five companies are also part of ALEC, aka the American Legislative Exchange Council.

According to the most recent report by Common Cause, ALEC has nearly 2,000 members who are either state legislators or corporate executives. Together, these two parties work together under the guise of ALEC, drafting “model” bills and eventually enacting them across the country.

The problem is that these bills reach into some sectors that are of greatest importance to the American public, such as environmental protections, fiscal transparency, and voting rights.

Included in the report is a full listing of ALEC money spent per state and an analysis of spending across party lines. Although ALEC certainly leans  towards the Republicans, giving 87.7 million to candidates since 2001, the organization hasn’t ignored Democrats, giving 53.2 million since 2001. Although ALEC identifies as non-partisan, only 1 of 104 legislators in ALEC is a Democrat.

In any case, ALEC is a powerful force that seems to be getting stronger.

You can download and read the full report by clicking here.