Thursday, September 06, 2012
Monday, September 03, 2012
Hope and Change 2012
Last week I had the opportunity to witness hope. A young volunteer with Iraq Veterans Against the War stayed at our place while joining activists and IVAW members for Operation Recovery, IVAW's demand that the military allow soldiers to fully recover between deployments. My guest carpooled from Olympia to Coffee Strong where volunteers organized to contact soldiers at Joint Base Lewis McChord to tell them about resources available for soldiers who insist on seeking treatment for the devastating emotional impact of war. During our brief encounters when our schedules intersected, she told us about her experiences: the challenge of getting on-post, brush-offs from some soldiers but positive responses from trying to navigate the warren apartments and small houses that cluster around the third largest military base in America.
What gives me hope is that this young woman, member of a generation widely disparaged for self-absorption and dependence, cared enough about helping others to come at her own expense from home in Arkansas or school in Pennsylvania. She is not a veteran but does have organizing experience as she begins her senior year. (I sure didn't have organizing experience at that point in life.) And she's even from two states where I would not expect to easily encounter a progressive concern for social and economic justice.
All that's worth some hope, don't you think? It's likely more than I will see from this year's election.
Sunday, September 02, 2012
Juan Cole on Desmond Tutu's call to prosecute George W. Bush and Tony Blair for invading Iraq:
I have long advocated that the criminal actions of Bush, of his vice president Richard Bruce Cheney, and of other high officials, be investigated. Bill Clinton was impeached for a fib about fellatio, but taking the US into an illegal war was treated with impunity.Apparently financial manipulation and war crimes get a pass.
Steven Pearlstein examines capitalism's raison d'etre in today's Washington Post. The article is a good review and commentary on current thought about what a capitalist economy should be and to. It's a good discussion, worth reading in toto. Pearlstein articulates my economic values very well:
A pure market economy is an ideological fantasy; even the freest markets operate in a framework of laws, infrastructure, institutions and informal norms of behavior in which government is heavily implicated.
In the current, cramped model of American capitalism, with its focus on output growth and shareholder value, there are requirements for financial capital, human capital and physical capital, but no consideration of what Stiglitz calls “social capital,” Zingales calls “civic capital” and Martin calls the “civil foundation.” It is this trust in one another that gives us the comfort to conduct business, to lend and borrow, to make long-term investments and to accept the inevitable dislocations of the economy’s creative destruction.
Whatever you call it, societies do not thrive, and economies do not prosper, without it.
This erosion is most visible in the weakening of the restraints that once moderated the most selfish impulses of economic actors and provided an ethical basis for modern capitalism. A capitalism in which Wall Street bankers and traders think it is just “part of the game” to peddle dangerous loans or worthless securities to unsuspecting customers, a capitalism in which top executives have convinced themselves that it is economically necessary that they earn 350 times what their front-line workers do, a capitalism that puts the right to pass on unlimited amounts of money to undeserving heirs above the right to basic, life-saving health care — that is a capitalism whose trust deficit is every bit as corrosive and dangerous as its budget and trade deficits.