Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart

Source: Jacobin 04.01.2019 Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart

By Liza Featherstone

The recent craze for Pete Buttigieg — multilingual Rhodes Scholar and all-around smart guy — is just the latest incarnation of the meritocratic cult of “smartness.” It’s social Darwinism for elite liberals.

This notion of “smart” allows elites to recast inequality as meritocracy. In this narrative, you’re rich because you did well in high school and went to Princeton, not because capitalism has taken something from someone else and given it to you. Yet the culture of smart is not all smugness; it also contains a heavy dose of fear. The PMC understands that while it’s fun to brag about having a kid like BOOTedgeedge, it’s not optional (like, say, having a pet that can do weird tricks, a cat that can use a human toilet, for instance). In the neoliberal order, if you’re not born into the top 0.1 percent, you have to be “smart” and unusually talented and motivated, otherwise you will not only lose what privileges you have, but possibly not even survive. As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman once gleefully proclaimed, “Average is over.”

Diane Ravitch on Pete Buttigieg’s Troubled Education Record

I’ve come to the conclusion that, on K–12 education, Pete Buttigieg is a stealth corporate reformer.

Source: Jacobin 11.18.2019 Diane Ravitch on Pete Buttigieg’s Troubled Education Record

Mayor Pete may have many things going for him, but his education agenda is not one of them. If he were president, he would continue the failed Bush-Obama agenda.

If he runs against Trump, I will, of course, support him and vote for him. I will vote for anyone who wins the Democratic nomination.

But not in the primaries.

I am willing to change course if Mayor Pete makes clear that he supports fully public schools that are accountable to an elected school board and that he would eliminate the federal Charter Schools Program, created by the Clinton administration in 1994 and funded with $6 million to help jump-start new charters. That program has grown into a $440 million slush fund for corporate charter chains, which is far from its original purpose. There is a long time from now until the primaries, and I will keep an open mind.

Bernie Wants You to Own More of the Means of Production

Source: Jacobin 10.14.2019  Bernie Wants You to Own More of the Means of Production

Bernie Sanders released a proposal today that would gradually shift 20 percent of corporate equity into funds owned and controlled by the workers in each company. The plan, which would apply to all publicly-traded companies and large closely-held companies, would move 2 percent of corporate stock into worker funds each year for a decade. Once the shares are transferred into the funds, workers would begin receiving dividends and have the ability to exercise the voting rights of the shares, including the right to vote on corporate board elections and on shareholder resolutions.

Sanders’s plan is by far the most radical worker ownership proposal put forward by a presidential candidate in recent memory. By last count, the market value of publicly-traded domestic companies stood at $35.6 trillion. This means that the Sanders plan would shift at least $7.1 trillion of corporate equity into worker funds by gradually diluting the value of previously-issued corporate stock.

Those who stand to “lose” from the proposal are the incumbent owners of corporate equity, which are overwhelmingly affluent people. At present, the top 10 percent of families own around 86.4 percent of corporate equities and mutual fund shares, with the top one percent owning 52 percent by themselves. Closely-held businesses, which will also be affected by the scheme if they are large enough, have similarly concentrated ownership, with the top 10 percent of families owning 87.5 percent of private business equity and the top one percent of families owning 57.5 percent of it.

Of course, these incumbent owners will not actually lose anything in an absolute sense. The average historical return of the US stock market has been 9.8 percent per year, while the average return of the last 10 years has been just over 13 percent. The effect of the two percent share issuances is to knock the total rate of return down by two percentage points, meaning that incumbent owners still get richer year-over-year, just less so than they would absent the Sanders plan.

The Sanders proposal largely mirrors an idea first presented by Mathew Lawrence that was recently adopted by Jeremy Corbyn and the UK Labour Party. In the Labour Party version of the plan, large UK corporations are required to transfer one percent of corporate equity into “Inclusive Ownership Funds” (IOFs) for ten years, which would effectively shift 10 percent of corporate equity into worker funds. As in Sanders’s plan, UK workers would receive dividends from the IOFs and exercise the voting rights of the equity owned by the funds.

Both the Sanders and Corbyn plans are rooted in a longer market socialist tradition most commonly associated with the Swedish labor movement and Swedish labor economist Rudolf Meidner. Meidner’s 1978 book laid out a plan that would have used similar share issuances (often called “share levies” or “scrip taxes”) to gradually bring Swedish corporations under the ownership of sector funds controlled by unions and communities. A policy based on Meidner’s plan was successfully implemented in the 1980s but the unrelated electoral defeat of the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the 1991 elections caused the policy to be scrapped before reaching its full potential.

Wall Street Doesn’t Believe Elizabeth Warren Is Serious About Medicare for All

Is Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare-for-All phase-in plan a shrewd, realistic tactical move to win a public health system — or a bait and switch to play to M4A’s popularity without actually fighting for it? Wall Street thinks it’s the latter.

Source: Wall Street Doesn’t Believe Elizabeth Warren Is Serious About Medicare for All

People on the Left have been debating Elizabeth Warren’s health plan since it was released a couple of weeks ago — “realistic” or a ruse? I vote ruse, but I don’t want to make that argument myself right now. Instead, I’ll allow a research note from Barclays, which found its way into my inbox, do that work.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the report, by Barclays analyst Steven Valiquette:

Compared to her previous hardline stance on M4A, the new plan represents a significant change in tone, in our view. Not only does the transition plan push out the legislative agenda for M4A (potentially to year 3), but it also tacitly acknowledges the practical and political resistance of pushing too much change too quickly. In fact, we think Warren’s plan was carefully crafted to appease both progressive and moderate Democrats, and may afford her flexibility to pivot on health care issues throughout the Democratic primaries. All said, her near-term plan seems much closer to more moderate proposals endorsed by Biden and Buttigieg; and as such the “pivot” catalyzed HC

Services stocks on Fri with MCOs [managed care organizations] leading the way (+5% vs S&P 500 up 0.8%).

Health-care stocks rallied on the release of Warren’s plan, meaning that Wall Street — which isn’t always right, but does have some skill in decoding political bullshit — sees her plan as political bullshit.

Warren’s defenders say the scheme, to start with a “moderate” Dem plan and wait three years to push for the full program, is politically realistic, given congressional and other political constraints on ambitious social programs. That argument never made sense to me. If the success of the Right over the last few decades has taught us anything, it’s that going for maximalist demands gets results. You might have to make some concessions along the way, but you get some wins and also push the political center of gravity in your direction. If you start out already compromised, you won’t get anywhere.

Why the Left Needs Liberals | Dissent Magazine

Every reform era came about, in the main, when left-wing movements compelled liberal politicians to back some of their key demands and then collaborated with those lawmakers against their common foes.

Source: Why the Left Needs Liberals | Dissent Magazine

“Keeping a broad Democratic coalition intact does not require remaining silent about the limits of liberal ideas or the dependence of office-holders on donations from the ultra-wealthy. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have shifted the policies of the party leftward by challenging the cautious, foolishly “bipartisan” approach followed by the last two nominees. But neither will be elected in 2020 if they, or their most ardent followers, spend their time bashing liberals they must have on their side. This summer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed how to balance principle and political realism when she first criticized Pelosi for scorning the Green New Deal and then took a meeting with her, after which the congresswoman from New York announced, “I think the speaker respects the fact that we’re coming together as a party and a community.”

“Warren Is Essentially the Leader of the Party”: Inside Pelosi’s Impeachment Cave—And a Democratic Power Shift | Vanity Fair

The attempt to impeach Trump could easily turn into another Democratic debacle, and Warren could be damaged by the fallout. And she’s also still a long way from winning any actual primaries, let alone the 2020 nomination; her primary opponents will surely step up their claims that Warren is not electable. Tuesday’s events, though, are a defining moment in her favor, and they mark a shift in the party’s power structure. “Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected Democrat, and Biden is still on top in many polls,” a national Democratic strategist says. “But Warren is essentially the leader of the party now.”

Source: “Warren Is Essentially the Leader of the Party”: Inside Pelosi’s Impeachment Cave—And a Democratic Power Shift | Vanity Fair

Elizabeth Warren’s New York City Speech Was a Progressive Politics Power Play | Teen Vogue

Warren’s speech before a massive crowd came the same day as an endorsement from the Working Families Party, highlighting her primary competition with Bernie Sanders.

“Though they don’t use the language of “political revolution” that Sanders does, it seems to be exactly how Working Families Party is helping Warren pitch her campaign: As a revolutionary force to upend politics as usual in favor of a system where rich people pay higher taxes, health care is a human right, and working people regain some of the control they’ve lost in Washington. It is, as several others have noted, a vision that is remarkably similar to Sanders’s.

Source: Elizabeth Warren’s New York City Speech Was a Progressive Politics Power Play | Teen Vogue

Pete Buttigieg Was Rising. Then Came South Bend’s Policing Crisis. – The New York Times

Source: Pete Buttigieg Was Rising. Then Came South Bend’s Policing Crisis. – The New York Times

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On a Tuesday in March, just after Pete Buttigieg began to catch fire with Democrats nationally, he flew home for his final State of the City address.

Mr. Buttigieg, the two-term mayor, drew more than 40 rounds of applause as he described the “comeback decade” in South Bend, pointing to new businesses and apartments downtown and the demolition of hundreds of blighted houses.

He had far less to say about his city’s police department: He devoted nearly as much time to it as he did to South Bend’s “smart sewers.”

But out of the spotlight, public safety was about to get worse. Reports of violent crime increased nearly 18 percent during the first seven months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. The number of people being shot has also risen markedly this year, after dropping last year. The city’s violent crime rate is double the average for American cities its size.

A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

Policing problems in South Bend came to national attention on June 16, when a white sergeant fatally shot a 54-year-old black resident, Eric Logan. The officer’s body camera was not turned on, which was widely seen as a sign of lax standards in the department. Mr. Buttigieg found himself flying home again, regularly, to face the fury of some black citizens and the frustrations of many others.

It is the great paradox of Mr. Buttigieg’s presidential candidacy: His record on public safety and policing, once largely a footnote in his political biography, has overshadowed his economic record in South Bend, which he had spent years developing as a calling card for higher office.

“When he came in, the goal was to help turn the city around. That had nothing to do with the police department,” said Kareemah Fowler, until recently the South Bend city clerk.

Read more at Source: Pete Buttigieg Was Rising. Then Came South Bend’s Policing Crisis. – The New York Times

Labour’s economic policies: can socialists support them? – from here to there

This blog presents a view of what socialism would be like by explaining how capitalism works. Ian Wright is British and his examples focus on Britain, but thinking about capitalism and socialism is international. You may not agree with this analysis, but you will be stimulated by it. JEB

Criteria for judgement

To judge the 2017 [Labour Party] manifesto we first should reflect on what it means for a economic policy to be essentially pro-socialist or pro-capitalist.

In theory, the crucial difference between these two political ideologies can be reduced to something extremely simple.

Socialists oppose capitalist exploitation, which occurs when production is organised in firms that have two classes of members: those that own it — and take profit — and those that work for it — and take a wage. Capitalist property rights allow the owners to distribute the firm’s profit to themselves regardless of whether they supply any capital or labour to production.

Yes, owners typically supply initial capital to get businesses started. But initial investments are always eventually paid off, if firms are viable.

And yes, owners may continue to supply their labour in management roles. But supplying labour need only be compensated by a wage, not profit.

The crucial point is that capitalist owners take profits merely in virtue of paper ownership (i.e. by fiat encoded in legal property rights). We can see this especially clearly where firms are entirely profitable and self-financing with absentee owners who extract profits.

But, as we all know, profit is created by actually doing some work, not by simply owning. The very same firm output, which gets sold in the market for a profit, could be produced without the input of capitalist owners and without compensating them.

So capitalists get something for nothing. They get profit for contributing zero to production. And an important consequence of this social fact is that a worker’s wage is never a fair exchange for the value they create.

In summary, under capitalist property rights, workers make, while capitalists take.

Source: Labour’s economic policies: can socialists support them? – from here to there

Democratic socialist revolution comes to a crossroads

  • Gregory Krieg, CNN

…”Ideology repeatedly clashed with electoral pragmatism during this year’s convention, which veered between a giddy celebration of the group’s previously unfathomable successes, delegates’ passage of Green New Deal and open borders initiatives, and painful deliberations over how to harness its new power.

Two votes during the first 24 hours of the gathering put those questions on display. The first asked what to do in the event Sanders fails to win the Democratic nomination; the second considered imposing a litmus test on candidates seeking DSA’s national endorsement.

The results were, in effect, a split decision.

On Friday, delegates narrowly passed a proposal that will prevent DSA from backing anyone but Sanders in the next presidential race. The argument in favor was simple: DSA is a socialist organization and risked spoiling its authority on the left by publicly backing — as Andrew Sernatinger, a delegate from Wisconsin, argued — “a candidate that is a neoliberal that is not what we are for.”

… “The resolution to create a “litmus test” for national endorsements, which are filtered up from the local chapters, failed narrowly on Saturday after an organizer from the host state made an impassioned plea to the delegates.

The proposed 14-point questionnaire was mostly uncontroversial, at least to any candidate who would seek DSA’s support, asking whether they support single-payer “Medicare for All,” universal tuition-free child care and the Green New Deal. But the deal breaker, ultimately, was its requirement that candidates declare themselves “democratic socialists” — a designation the Georgia-based delegate warned would “cut our legs out from under us in the South.”

Source: Democratic socialist revolution comes to a crossroads – WKBT

Philosopher Slavoj Žižek thinks Trump is in a Perverse Way good For U.S.; Americans Disagree

What?

(Informed Comment) – In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, noted philosopher and culture critic Slavoj Žižek  said in an interview with Channel 4 News in UK that if he had been a US citizen, he would have voted for Donald Trump. Even though Trump “€œhorrifies”€ him, Hillary Clinton was the “€œtrue danger” because “€œshe stands for this absolute inertia pretending to be socially progressive.”€ Presumably, a Clinton victory would have betrayed or co-opted progressive supporters, and that would have eventually deepened alienation among the electorate, leading to further political stagnation. He claimed that a Trump win, on the He claimed that a Trump win, on the other hand, would force “… both big parties … to return to basics, rethink themselves, and maybe some things can happen there. [I]t will be a kind of big awakening.” In other words, an unorthodox politician like Trump, whose major talents lie in creating deep fear and posing existential threats, would unwittingly engender a radical reaction, injecting a much-needed energy into the body politic. This would fuel real social change in ways that Clinton—or a standard Republican candidate—never could.

Source: Philosopher Slavoj Žižek thinks Trump is in a Perverse Way good For U.S.; Americans Disagree

Two Paths for Millennial Politics

The important issue today isn’t what the world has done to millennials. It’s what millennials are going to do next—and where they’ll look for leadership.

Source: Two Paths for Millennial Politics

Whither millennials, socialism or democratic capitalism, Obama style?

“As he [Bhaskar Sunkara] argues in his new book, The Socialist Manifesto, “we will probably only be driven down the path to socialism by practical necessity.” It’s the kind of pragmatic tone that readers have come to expect from the thirty-year-old founder of Jacobin. Where Buttigieg wants to make moderation seem radical, Sunkara is out to make radicalism seem moderate. And if Buttigieg offers an updated version of the Obama model, The Socialist Manifesto suggests one path for an evolving left. “

Read the source: Two Paths for Millennial Politics

The Rules of the Game | by Michael Tomasky | The New York Review of Books

There is a growing schism in the Democratic Party between its two poles of influence in the age of social media: the younger, urban, and more left-leaning people who carry out a daily and often pestiferous political dialogue on Twitter, and the older and more traditionally liberal-to-moderate people who make up the actual backbone of the party across America. If there is a division within the party that will bring it to ruin in 2020, this is it. Both factions reflect the seriousness of the fight to define the party anew as it crawls out of the Clinton “New Democrat” era in search of some as-yet-unnamed identity. I think both more or less agree on the problems: the recent failure of American capitalism to provide the more broadly shared prosperity we once enjoyed, the crisis facing our democracy and institutions under Trump, and the depraved authoritarianism of the Republican Party. But Democrats are quite divided on the solutions.

Source: The Rules of the Game | by Michael Tomasky | The New York Review of Books

This view from the center left expresses the view that 1) more Democratic voters are liberal and moderate than left leaning and 2) that the potential for an acrimonious primary season could undermine the ultimate party candidate and provide an opportunity for Trump and trolls to exploit the division. He does not mention the role of money and media which will undoubtedly be arrayed against the left.

Whomever you support for president and whatever your politics you must recognize the reality of this fear and think about what you can do to minimize this risk.

Opinion | Kamala Harris Was Not a ‘Progressive Prosecutor’ – The New York Times

The senator was often on the wrong side of history when she served as California’s attorney general.

By Ms. Bazelon is a law professor and the former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent in Los Angeles.

SAN FRANCISCO — With the growing recognition that prosecutors hold the keys to a fairer criminal justice system, the term “progressive prosecutor” has almost become trendy. This is how Senator Kamala Harris of California, a likely presidential candidate and a former prosecutor, describes herself.

But she’s not.

Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent. Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.

Consider her record as San Francisco’s district attorney from 2004 to 2011. Ms. Harris was criticized in 2010 for withholding information about a police laboratory technician who had been accused of “intentionally sabotaging” her work and stealing drugs from the lab. After a memo surfaced showing that Ms. Harris’s deputies knew about the technician’s wrongdoing and recent conviction, but failed to alert defense lawyers, a judge condemned Ms. Harris’s indifference to the systemic violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights.

Ms. Harris contested the ruling by arguing that the judge, whose husband was a defense attorney and had spoken publicly about the importance of disclosing evidence, had a conflict of interest. Ms. Harris lost. More than 600 cases handled by the corrupt technician were dismissed.

Ms. Harris also championed state legislation under which parents whose children were found to be habitually truant in elementary school could be prosecuted, despite concerns that it would disproportionately affect low-income people of color.

Ms. Harris was similarly regressive as the state’s attorney general. When a federal judge in Orange County ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional in 2014, Ms. Harris appealed. In a public statement, she made the bizarre argument that the decision “undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants.” (The approximately 740 men and women awaiting execution in California might disagree).

In 2014, she declined to take a position on Proposition 47, a ballot initiative approved by voters, that reduced certain low-level felonies to misdemeanors. She laughed that year when a reporter asked if she would support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Ms. Harris finally reversed course in 2018, long after public opinion had shifted on the topic.

In 2015, she opposed a bill requiring her office to investigate shootings involving officers. And she refused to support statewide standards regulating the use of body-worn cameras by police officers. For this, she incurred criticism from an array of left-leaning reformers, including Democratic state senators, the A.C.L.U. and San Francisco’s elected public defender. The activist Phelicia Jones, who had supported Ms. Harris for years, asked, “How many more people need to die before she steps in?

Worst of all, though, is Ms. Harris’s record in wrongful conviction cases. Consider George Gage, an electrician with no criminal record who was charged in 1999 with sexually abusing his stepdaughter, who reported the allegations years later. The case largely hinged on the stepdaughter’s testimony and Mr. Gage was convicted.

Source: Opinion | Kamala Harris Was Not a ‘Progressive Prosecutor’ – The New York Times

Detailed Maps of the Donors Powering the 2020 Democratic Campaigns – The New York Times

We analyzed the Democratic presidential candidates’ fund-raising to see how widespread their support was across the United States.

Source: Detailed Maps of the Donors Powering the 2020 Democratic Campaigns – The New York Times

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a huge lead over other Democratic presidential candidates in the number of individual donors they have each accumulated so far.

This is the first time since the primary race began in earnest that we can estimate how many individual donors each candidate has attracted — a key indicator of how much they are catching on with voters.

Mr. Sanders is relying heavily on small donors to power his campaign, and he entered the 2020 race with a huge network of online donors who supported his 2016 presidential bid. The map above shows the breadth of Mr. Sanders’s roster of donors across the United States.

A map that includes the rest of the Democratic field without Mr. Sanders offers a picture of where the other major candidates are picking up donors. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the other leading progressive in the race, is outpacing the rest of the field across much of the country — a sign that her strategy of relying on grass-roots donors, and refraining from holding high-dollar fund-raisers, is working.

There’s Nothing Moderate About “Moderates.” A Primary Example Is Joe Biden | Common Dreams Views

The comedian George Carlin liked to marvel at oxymorons like “jumbo shrimp” and “military intelligence.” Now, as the race for the Democratic presidential nomination intensifies, reporters and pundits at corporate media outlets are escalating their use of a one-word political oxymoron—”moderate.” | By Norman Solomon

Source: There’s Nothing Moderate About “Moderates.” A Primary Example Is Joe Biden | Common Dreams Views

MSNBC’s Anti-Sanders Bias Makes It Forget How to Do Math | Common Dreams Views

When MSNBC legal analyst Mimi Rocah (7/21/19) said that Bernie Sanders “made [her] skin crawl,” though she “can’t even identify for you what exactly it is,” she was just expressing more overtly the anti-Sanders bias that pervades the network. | By Katie Halper

Source: MSNBC’s Anti-Sanders Bias Makes It Forget How to Do Math | Common Dreams Views

Biden, Harris, Buttigieg, and Booker Emerge as ‘Clear Favorites’ of Wall Street as Bankers Open Checkbooks for 2020 | Common Dreams News

Published on Friday, July 26, 2019 by Common Dreams Biden, Harris, Buttigieg, and Booker Emerge as ‘Clear Favorites’ of Wall Street as Bankers Open Checkbooks for 2020

Wealthy executives have said they oppose Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and now they are making their 2020 preferences clear by Jake Johnson, staff writer 36 Comments South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden talk during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images) After expressing their deep fears over the prospect of Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren winning the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Wall Street executives are opening their checkbooks to signal their favorite candidates as the primary race heats up. “Some politicians go to wealthy people’s homes and they sit around in a fancy living room, and people contribute thousands and thousands of dollars and they walk out with a few hundred thousand bucks. We don’t do that.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders CNBC reported Thursday that former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete

Source: Biden, Harris, Buttigieg, and Booker Emerge as ‘Clear Favorites’ of Wall Street as Bankers Open Checkbooks for 2020 | Common Dreams News