Political Economy

With McCutcheon Ruling, An Activist Court Opts for Full-On Plutocracy

by John Nichols

Any doubts about the determination of an activist United States Supreme Court to rewrite election rules so that the dollar matters more than the vote were removed Wednesday, when McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was decided in favor of the dollar.

The court that in 2010, with its Citizens United v. FEC decision, cleared the way for corporations to spend as freely as they choose to buy elections has now effectively eliminated the ability of the American people and their elected representatives to establish meaningful limits on direct donations by millionaires and billionaires to campaigns.

How to Fan the Flames

by Alexandra Bradbury and Jane Slaughter

We troublemakers keep hoping for the spark that will set a wildfire of workers in motion. The worse our situation gets—economically, politically, ecologically—the more we yearn for a vast movement to erupt and transform the landscape.

Where will the next big movement come from? Fights in the workplace can be the training ground. (Photo: OUR Walmart)

Serious Coverage of Trade Issues is Essential — but all too Rare

by John Nichols

President Obama used his European tour to make another pitch for sweeping new free-trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Recognizing that there is mass opposition to these sorts of deals in the U.S. and abroad — based on the profound concerns about job security, wages, the circumstance of working farmers, environmental protection and democracy raised by the North American Free Trade Agreement, the permanent normalization of trade relations with China, and more recent trade arrangements — Obama urged critics of race-to-the-bottom trade policies to trust that he would negotiate better deals.
 

"(There’s) no point in getting excited about potential provisions in trade agreements that haven't been drafted yet,” the president said. "There will be plenty of time to criticize trade agreements when they are actually put before the public.”

How Vladimir Putin Became Evil

The US and UK condemn him for Crimea but supported him over the war in Chechnya. Why? Because now he refuses to play ball

by Tariq Ali

Once again, it seems that Russia and the United States are finding it difficult to agree on how to deal with their respective ambitions. This clash of interests is highlighted by the Ukrainian crisis. The provocation in this particular instance, as the leaked recording of a US diplomat, Victoria Nuland, saying "Fuck the EU" suggests, came from Washington.

Some Facts About How NSA Stories are Reported

by Glenn Greenwald

Several members of the august “US Journalists Against Transparency” club are outraged by revelations in yesterday’s New York Times (jointly published by der Spiegel) that the NSA has been hacking the products of the Chinese tech company Huawei as well as Huawei itself at exactly the same time (and in exactly the same way) as the US Government has been claiming the Chinese government hacks. Echoing the script of national security state officials, these journalists argue that these revelations are unjustified, even treasonous, because this is the type of spying the NSA should be doing, and disclosure serves no public interest while harming American national security, etc. etc.

The Tyranny of the On-Call Schedule: Hourly Injustice in Retail Labor

by Michelle Chen

A century ago, the misery of New York’s urban poor was embodied by the iconic scene of the morning shape-up at the docks, where rough-hewn longshoremen lined up anxiously to see if the boss would pick them for that day’s crew or turn them back empty-handed. These days, the city has a different kind of shape-up—a less visible mill of workers staffing its bustling boutiques and vendors. Instead of assembling at the waterfront, they call the manager to find out how many hours they can get on a given day—stressing about whether they’ll clock enough hours this month to make rent, or hoping their next workday doesn’t interfere with their school schedule or doctor’s appointment.

Corporate Welfare and the Minimum Wage

by Joslyn Stevens

(Photo: SEIU)

The arguments against raising the minimum wage are bullshit. The majority of Americans including conservatives support an increase yet congress continues to drag its feet on doing right by the people they claim to serve.  The conservative “pull-yourself up-by your-bootstraps” mentality has become an acceptable excuse to justify kicking people when they’re down. The greedy and elitist attitudes of CEO’s and bankers have created a culture of entitlement in this country in which stealing from others less powerful is the best way to get to the top regardless of the social cost.

Finding Populism Today

by Jim Hightower

Mass movements don't just appear out of the fog, fully grown, structured and mobilized. They emerge in fits and starts over many years, just as the American Revolution did, and as did the Populists' original idea of a "cooperative commonwealth." A successful people's movement has to take the long view, to learn about itself as it builds, nurture the culture of its people, take chances, create fun for all involved, adapt to failures and successes, stay steadfast to its principles, have a stoic tenacity — and organize, organize, organize. A little serendipity helps, too, so grab it when you can.

Starving College Students and the Shredded Social Contract

by Michelle Goldberg

If you want to know why millennials are far more economically liberal than other generations, consider the news that colleges have started opening on-campus food banks to keep their students from going hungry.

Dozens of food pantries are “cropping up at colleges across the country in recent years as educators acknowledge the struggles many students face as the cost of getting a higher education continues to soar,” the Associated Press reported this weekend. Tuition alone, the article notes, “has become a growing burden, rising 27 percent at public colleges and 14 percent at private schools in the past five years, according to the College Board. Add in expenses for books, housing and other necessities of college life and some are left to choose between eating and learning.”

Ammons Whips Mike Madigan's Money -- and Sam Rosenberg

News reports indicate that Carol Ammons -- and the mass of motivated citizenry supporting her -- has won the 103rd State Representative Democratic Primary when ballots were counted this evening. This hard fought victory against the Madigan machine came about despite the fact that Madigan spent roughly $100,000 more than the Ammons campaign was able to. The difference was people. People on the street. People door to door. People calling, emailing and messaging.

Is there hope for a Democratic Party that represents the people of Illiinois, rather than a weak alternative to Republicanism? There is now. The people of Illinois demand better.

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