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by David Cay Johnson
Anyone in a public-sector job looking forward to retiring in comfort should look carefully at what is going on in Detroit and Springfield, Ill. Sherlock Holmes would call it the case of the missing pension money.
News leaking out this week from the Motor City tells how the enormous gap between the pensions workers earned and the money set aside to pay for them will be closed. By stealing from the workers.
Courts, legislatures, and corporations are all working in concert not to pay the full benefits owed. For decades, political and business leaders failed to set aside the right amount of money each payday to cover the pensions workers earned and, in some cases, covered up the mismanagement of pension fund investments.
This is nothing short of theft, as pensions are simply deferred wages, that is, money that workers could have taken as cash in their regular paychecks had they not opted to set it aside.
by John Atcheson
Within the next few weeks, as the budget and deficit ceiling deadlines come closer, conservatives will start unleashing their five standard economic bogeymen so they can call for austerity budgets. Let’s examine their bogeymen, one by one.
Bogeyman number 1: The deficit is exploding and needs to be reined in.
Fact: The deficit is shrinking. Deficit hawks and austerity mongers raise the specter of debts and deficits as if we were in uncharted territory. In fact, we are, but not the territory they warn about. Within the last year and a half, the US deficit has been shrinking faster than at any time since World War II. In fact, one reason our economic recovery has been so anemic is the collapse of public spending, at a time when banks and corporations are shipping money overseas, playing bingo on Wall Street with our money, and hoarding it for CEO bonuses and other non-productive uses.
by Richard Eskow
Something is happening. It’s beginning to look as if the fight for a livable minimum wage might – just might – alter our political future.
Makes sense, when you think about it. The minimum wage struggle is occurring at the intersection of powerful forces. It’s taking place at a time of growing economic inequality, the erosion of working people’s rights, and the globalization of an economic oligarchy whose scope of power is unprecedented in modern times.
And now it appears to be applying an old maxim from the early days of the environmental movement: Think globally, act locally.
The voters decide.
by Local Yocal
CHAMPAIGN- In a recent News-Gazette article, City of Champaign Planning and Development Director Bruce Knight and Champaign County Economic Development Corporation Deputy Director Eric Kotewa both lamented how difficult it is to attract new business into old abandoned spaces. Left to sit, properties become hazardous eye sores draining the economy. In addition, the city of Champaign already has too much un-used office and retail space nobody wants. Most start-ups and national franchises want fresh properties built-to-suit on the fringes of town, rather than configure into what is already available.
by Nafeez Ahmad
A stunning new report compiles extensive evidence showing how some of the world's largest corporations have partnered with private intelligence firms and government intelligence agencies to spy on activist and nonprofit groups. Environmental activism is a prominent though not exclusive focus of these activities.
The report by the Center for Corporate Policy (CCP) in Washington DC titled Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage against Nonprofit Organizations draws on a wide range of public record evidence, including lawsuits and journalistic investigations. It paints a disturbing picture of a global corporate espionage programme that is out of control, with possibly as much as one in four activists being private spies.
The report argues that a key precondition for corporate espionage is that the nonprofit in question:
by Arun Gupta
As a graduate of New York’s French Culinary Institute and former chef, I’m obsessed with great food. I can remember the first time I tasted chocolate mousse, pine nuts, and avocados. Years, even decades later, I can recall the succulence of fresh prawns on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, and the fiery savoriness of street food in India. All these moments were shared with family or friends, which made them especially memorable. Breaking bread with others is part of what it means to be human, and the act is wrapped up in emotional well-being, especially love.
by Dean Baker
A widely held view in elite circles is that the rapid rise in inequality in the United States over the last three decades is an unfortunate side-effect of technological progress. In this story, technology has had the effect of eliminating tens of millions of middle wage jobs for factory workers, bookkeepers, and similar occupations.
These were jobs where people with limited education used to be able to raise a family with a middle class standard of living. However computers, robots and other technological innovations are rapidly reducing the need for such work. As a result, the remaining jobs in these sectors are likely to pay less and many people who would have otherwise worked at middle wage jobs must instead crowd into the lower paying sectors of the labor market.
by George Lakoff
The NY Times has many virtues and some important flaws. Both were evident on the paper's front page this week and there is a lot to be learned by what did and did not appear there.
For decades, Republican conservatives have constructed and carried out extensive, well-planned, long-term communication campaigns to change public discourse and the way the public thinks. It has been done very effectively and, for the most part, not secretly. The NY Times finally began reporting on this effort on Thursday, November 21, 2013 in a fine piece by Jonathan Weisman and Sheryl Gay Stolberg.
The Times reported on the House Republicans' memo on how to attack the Affordable Care Act through a "multilayered sequence assault," gathering stories "through social media letters from constituents, or meeting back home" and a new GOP website. The Times also reported on the "closed door" strategy sessions, going back to last year.