By Jeffrey D. Sachs Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.
NEW YORK – In 1981, US President Ronald Reagan came to office famously declaring that, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Thirty-two years and four presidents later, Barack Obama’s recent inaugural address, with its ringing endorsement of a larger role for government in addressing America’s – and the world’s – most urgent challenges, looks like it may bring down the curtain on that era.
Reagan’s statement in 1981 was extraordinary. It signaled that America’s new president was less interested in using government to solve society’s problems than he was in cutting taxes, mainly for the benefit of the wealthy. More important, his presidency began a “revolution” from the political right – against the poor, the environment, and science and technology – that lasted for three decades, its tenets upheld, more or less, by all who followed him: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and, in some respects, by Obama in his first term.
The “Reagan Revolution” had four main components: tax cuts for the rich; spending cuts on education, infrastructure, energy, climate change, and job training; massive growth in the defense budget; and economic deregulation, including privatization of core government functions, like operating military bases and prisons. Billed as a “free-market” revolution, because it promised to reduce the role of government, in practice it was the beginning of an assault on the middle class and the poor by wealthy special interests. Read more »
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.
A lot of what we say and do becomes habit-forming. Groundhog Day 2013 could serve as a reminder that some political habits should be kicked. Here are a few:
** “Defense budget”
No, it’s not a defense budget. It’s a military budget. Read more »
A Letter I Wish Progressive Groups Would Send to Their Members
By Norman Solomon
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He co-chairs the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." He writes the Political Culture 2013 column. b3
With President Obama’s second term underway and huge decisions looming on Capitol Hill, consider this statement from Howard Zinn: “When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.”
With so much at stake, we can’t afford to forget our role. For starters, it must include public clarity. Read more »
Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, dickmeister.com.
While celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, let's remember that extending and guaranteeing the rights of working people was one of Dr. King's major concerns.
You'll recall that King was in fact assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for striking sanitation workers who were demanding that the city of Memphis, Tennessee, formally recognize their union.
King had been with the 1300 African-American strikers from the very beginning of their 65-day struggle. He had come to Memphis to support them despite threats that he might indeed be killed if he did. Read more »
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He co-chairs the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.
The failure of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to stand up to President Obama on many vital matters of principle is one of the most important – and least mentioned – political dynamics of this era.Read more »
In a couple of hours, the former Jean Dibble and I will be going to the delightful Fisherman's Wharf restaurant we have frequented for the past quarter century on New Year's Eve.
Twenty-six or so years ago, we happened to be strolling along on Fisherman's Wharf looking for a place to eat New Year's Eve dinner, We happened upon Pompei's Grotto. in the heart of the Wharf at 340 Jefferson St.
It looked warm and inviting and beckoned to us with colorful holiday decorations and a friendly demeanor and so we went in. We found it the perfect place for us on New Year's Eve and we've never missed a New Year's Eve dinner at Pompei's. Read more »
Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.
Here's some good news for the new year: Ten states are set to raise their minimum wage rates on January first.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) calculates that the increased rates will boost the pay of more than 850,000 low-income workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The rates, raised in accord with state laws requiring automatic adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living, will go up by 10 to 35 cents an hour depending on the state. NELP figures that will mean $190 to $510 more a year for the four million workers who are paid at the minimum in those states. Read more »
The annual holiday card arrived from Jess Brownell and Sbirley Conlon, longtime Guardian friends from Milwaukee. As usual, their message was timely, relevant, and laden with insights. B3
It’s been a memorable year, which is way too much like living in interesting times.
But enough sordid details. The holiday season is here, when fantasy always trumps reality. We can pretend, pretend that our wins outnumber our losses, pretend that wisdom and decency prevail, pretend that peace and benevolence are ascendant, pretend . . .
. . . that Ebenezer Scrooge is in his counting house, busily making trades for his billion dollar Merry Christmas to Me hedge fund when he is visited by a delegation of Santa’s elves. The elves explain that in the digital era Santa has no need for the simple toys they used to make so he has outsourced manufacturing to China and sent them packing. They are now desperate for work. Read more »