North America

North America

  • Corporate dominance greater in US than other advanced capitalist countries. . But US Spring budding.   by Sean   I have lived in a number of countries. Far from being the "best country in the world" the US is one of the ...
    Posted 8 Apr 2012, 13:42 by Admin uk
  • USA - Wisconsin workers fight on  First Recall Petition Will Be Filed Today by James Parks, Apr 1, 2011 The first recall petition will be filed today against a Wisconsin Senate Republican who joined the rigged ...
    Posted 2 Apr 2011, 03:41 by Admin uk
  • USA: from progressive to rentier  15 February 2010 by Michael Roberts  US capitalism is no longer a progressive force in the development of productive forces.  What do I mean?  An economy is ‘progressive’ in the ...
    Posted 2 Apr 2011, 03:41 by Admin uk
  • Is America recovering?     7 February 2010    by Michael Roberts     The January employment figures in the US were totally confusing.  The increase in jobs in January was announced as just 36,000, way below ...
    Posted 21 Feb 2011, 10:18 by Admin uk
Showing posts 1 - 4 of 4. View more »

Corporate dominance greater in US than other advanced capitalist countries. . But US Spring budding.

posted 8 Apr 2012, 13:42 by Admin uk

  by Sean

  I have lived in a number of countries. Far from being the "best country in the world" the US is one of the most difficult in which to hang your hat. Compared with other advanced capitalist countries the mass of the population have to work harder, pay more for health and education, endure lower pay and benefits, endure greater violence and live in greater insecurity. Why is this?

The explanation is simple. The corporations and their system are much more dominant in the US than they are in any other advanced capitalist country. They have a monopoly of the mass political organizations, that is the two mass political parties are capitalist parties, bought and paid for by the capitalist class. Through these and the corporate state they control society. There is no mass workers party to counter act even to the slightest extent their propaganda political power and control.

Then there is the monopoly they have over the mass media. This is being challenged now by the social media but this unfortunately is still very much liberal in its outlook instead of socialist and working class.

And there is US foreign policy and its relationship to home policy. The US corporations want to rob and loot the rest of the world, and they need to keep their home population with them in this objective. After all the children of the owners of the corporations will not fight the wars. So the propaganda is always that we need to be ready for "war." It does not call it that. It does not have a ministry for war. It has a ministry for "defense." But who is going to invade the US? It is the US which invades other countries and in fact is the only country to have dropped a nuclear bomb on another country.

But what this "defense" propaganda is good for is to keep the US masses down and the US corporations dominant at home. If the country is always under the threat of attack then the US masses are more easily convinced that they must unite with the US corporations to defend the homeland. United we stand propaganda. Not much united we stand when it comes to wages, jobs, benefits, profits. What we have here is the US corporations assault on the understanding and consciousness of the US working class.

But every now and then the corporate dominance gets a bloody nose. In the 1930's the working class occupied the plants, increased union membership six fold and forced the corporations to make major economic concessions. This movement also increased the consciousness of the working class about society in general.

Then in the 1960's we had the great explosions of the black revolt and the anti war movement and the women's movement. What a great decade. It forced the corporate system to make major concessions on racism, along with the heroism of the Vietnam fighters it ended the Vietnam war and along with these events we had the women's movement which forced the corporations to make concessions on gender issues also.

However in spite of these great movements the US corporations are still much more dominant today than in any other advanced capitalist country. This is why life is so tough here. But the first signs of a new upsurge and change are in the air. The first signs of a US spring. The recent reaction to the de-funding of Planned Parenthood where they had to back down, the movements in Wisconsin and Ohio where the extreme right corporate agenda is being thrown back, the powerful anti racist reaction to the murder of Treyvon Martin the black youth in Florida, all these are signs of the first budding of the US spring.

This coming US Spring will throw back and weaken the corporate dominance of US society and make US life more humane. Hopefully it will have the power to establish a mass workers party and increase the unions by tens and tens of millions and end the capacity of the US corporations to go to war and occupations abroad. A new day is dawning in the US. What an enriched society it will become when the US masses in all their diversity and energy throw back the corporations and begin to express themselves and put their imprint on society and change the balance of forces to the advantage of the working people and not the corporations.


USA - Wisconsin workers fight on

posted 22 Feb 2011, 09:03 by Admin uk   [ updated 2 Apr 2011, 03:41 ]

 First Recall Petition Will Be Filed Today

 by James Parks, Apr 1, 2011

 The first recall petition will be filed today against a Wisconsin Senate Republican who joined the rigged vote to take away public employees freedom to bargain. Organizers say volunteers have gathered more than the 15,588 signatures needed to trigger a recall election of Sen. Dan Kapanke, who represents the La Crosse area. Recall supporters say they plan to take the petitions to Madison after a rally today at La Crosse City Hall.

This is the first  of 19 active recall efforts registered between Feb. 24 and March 2 against 16 senators. The filing comes just before the halfway point in the 60-day window the recall committee has to gather signatures in the district.

The state Democratic Party provided infrastructure support but “not a single paid canvasser was needed to trigger the recall versus Dan Kapanke,” said party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, who credited volunteers for collecting more than 20,000 signatures in less than 30 days.

“It took on a life of its own,” said Pat Scheller, who filed the original paperwork to launch the recall effort. Scheller is  a banker and is not a member of any party.

The state Government Accountability Board could order an election on the sixth Tuesday after determining the petition is in order. If there is more than one challenger, that election would be a primary followed by a general election four weeks later.

Democrats need three additional senate seats to gain a majority. Kapanke is one of three targeted Republicans who won the last election with less than 52 percent of the votes.

200,000 demonstrate -  Protesters Refuse To Quit

YouTube Video

 by Todd Richmond 12 March 2011

 MADISON, Wis. — Thousands of pro-labor protesters turned out for more demonstrations at the Wisconsin Capitol on Saturday, seemingly undeterred by the fact that a contentious collective bargaining bill had been signed into law the day before.

The demonstrators insisted the fight wasn't over, and many said their focus would now be on recalling the Republican lawmakers who had pushed through the bill. Efforts to recall from office eight Republican state senators and some of the 14 Democratic state senators who fled to try to prevent a vote on it have already started.

Democratic senators were expected to make their first appearance in Madison since fleeing the state later Saturday. Their departure had left the Senate one vote short of the number needed to pass measures spending money. Republicans got around that by breaking out the collective bargaining provisions of the legislation, which could be passed with fewer members present.

The proposal to eliminate most of public workers' collective bargaining rights touched off a national debate, and its passage was a key victory for Republicans who have targeted unions in nationwide efforts to slash government spending. But labor leaders have said they plan to use the setback to fire up their members nationwide and mount a major counterattack against Republicans at the ballot box in 2012.

Saturday's protest got a boost from a parade of more than 30 tractors driven by farmers supporting the union workers. Thousands of people lining the sidewalks cheered as tractors rolled by bearing signs with messages such as "Planting the seeds for a big season of recalls." The farmers thrust their fists in the air in response.

Tod Pulvermacher, 33, of Bear Valley, drove a tractor towing a manure spreader carrying a sign that read, "Walker's bill belongs here" – a reference to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

"Farmers are working-class Americans," he said as the crowd around him started to cheer. "We work for a living as hard as anybody, and this is about all of us."

Pulvermacher said the fight against the law was "everybody's fight" and it was just beginning.

"If we can keep the energy high, we can change a lot of things in Wisconsin in the next year," he said.

 Tears and Anger after Anti-Union Bill passes

 By Katrin Dauenhauer,

  MADISON, Wisconsin, Mar 11, 2011

  - Emotions are running high at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin after Republican senators passed a revised version of a budget repair bill that will take away public workers' collective bargaining rights in an ad hoc session Wednesday night.

Democratic senators fled the state more than two weeks ago to prevent a vote on the controversial piece of legislation. But this week, Republican lawmakers stripped the bill of financial components to circumvent a quorum that would have required 20 senators, and thus at least one Democratic senator, to be present.

The bill passed the Assembly Thursday and was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker early Friday morning.

Outside the capitol building, protesters expressed anger and frustration over the Republican maneuvre by shouting "Shame, Shame" and "Liar, Liar". Earlier chants of "This is what democracy looks like" have turned into "This is what tyranny looks like."

"This was totally dirty politics," Ben Kaker, a teacher from Madison told IPS. "The vote clearly shows that Walker isn't after the money but after busting unions. Financial goals might come later, but they are not paramount. This also shows that Walker was lying the whole time."

"What happened last night was a travesty of democracy," said Don Smith, a union member from Madison. "I am almost speechless because it amounts to rape of the American way. This vile creature [Walker] and his 17 criminals with their total disregard for what America stands for totally corrupted democracy and sold it to an oligarchy that must be defeated at all costs."

Democrats and protestors are questioning the legality of the procedure. Participants had only been informed about the meeting less than two hours prior. Open meeting laws by the state, however, require the notification of participants and the public at least 24 hours in advance.

"I am completely horrified that such an illegal thing took place. It's different if you read about it. But if you actually saw how the vote went down, you can't but cry. This is a 'F**k you' to the American people," Leah Thomas from Madison told IPS.

"Similar initiatives are going on in other states right now. They are all looking to Wisconsin to see how things turn out. If Wisconsin will serve as a precedent for legislation in other states, we are in big trouble," she continued.

"I am appalled. I think what happened last night was the culmination of the Republican Party's disrespectful behaviour of the last couple of weeks. This is the furthest thing away from democracy that I can think of. I am not in a position to say if it was unlawful but at the very least it was unethical. My faith in democracy has been shaken," Dawn Wavra from Waunakee told IPS.

"I am hoping this vote will not stand. Otherwise it is looking pretty tough for Wisconsinites," Dough Joseph from Eau Claire told IPS.

Protesters also criticise the increased difficulties to enter the capitol building. While in the beginning the building was open to the public day and night, a Mar. 3 court order declared that people could not occupy the capitol after hours. And during the day, long lines await people who want to get inside. Bag checks and metal detectors are in place.

"I was here during the vote. They [the police] dragged us out of the vestibule by picking us up one by one, even though I was part of a public hearing. It's disgusting. They started out by saying it's about the budget and it's not about collective bargaining. Scott Walker is a liar. You can't get any more blatant about a lie than this," Tim Wersland with Iron Workers Local 383 told IPS.

Meanwhile, unions asked members to join the recall efforts against Republican senators in the eight districts where the process is already underway. Calls for a recall of Republican senators and Governor Walker have also been made by many protesters.

"Walker is taking this state backwards, this is very unsettling. Hopefully, we can recall him. Walker is saying he is not listening to polls, but he ought to be, because right now, the majority of the people has turned against him," Sue Brumberg from Eau Claire told IPS.

"He is dividing the state, people are getting polarised. It is very disheartening. Hopefully, we can turn things around," she said.

The possibility of a general strike is also being discussed. "This is not just a vote on union organisation. This is a larger attack on the working class and amounts to class warfare," Michael Koc from Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) told IPS. "It is sad to see that the best thing Democrats could do is leave. But this also shows that we cannot rely on either party within the system, but need to use direct actions to fight for our rights."

"We are a long way off from a general strike, but we have to organise to make our voices heard," he added.

Protesters are closely watching the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court election, which could help turn the tide in making their voices heard. Currently, the court has a four- to-three conservative majority. One of the judges, David Prosser, is up for reelection on Apr. 5. Running against him is JoAnne Kloppenburg.

As activists expect the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of Wednesday's vote, they stress the importance of a liberal majority with Kloppenburg on the court.

Despite the passage of the bill, protesters are determined to continue their demonstrations. Another big rally is planned for this Saturday.

"We think it's completely unfair that they are not listening to the peaceful protesters right outside their window. But we are not going away. And the weather is only getting better," Shelley Hoernke, a teacher from Oshkosh, told IPS.

"I am embarrassed for my state, which has a proud history of progressive politics. I am not proud of last night's vote but we will prevail," said Paul Klein from Steven's Point. "People are mad."

With No ‘SHAME,’ Republicans Ram Walker’s Bill Through Assembly

by Mike Hall, Feb 25, 2011

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly early this morning unexpectedly cut off debate and quick-marched a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) bill to eliminate the right of public service workers to bargain for middle-class jobs

The bill passed 51-17 with 28 lawmakers—all Democrats, three Republicans and an independent—abstaining in protest. The bill still must pass the state Senate and Wisconsin workers continue their fight against the bill.

There were still more than 15 speakers still scheduled to speak out against the attack on workers and more amendments poised for votes. But according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Republican leaders invoked rarely used rule to end the debate before voting on the bill.

That rule requires a motion seconded by 15 members and then a roll call vote. Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller said afterward he was not sure whether that had occurred, saying he had heard the order to start a vote on the final passage of the bill and had done so.

Later Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison) said, “We never imagined they would do it as they did, not even properly using the nuclear option.”

After the rapid fire vote, Democratic Assembly members begin a chant of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” that was quickly picked up the legions Wisconsin workers in the packed  Assembly gallery. Teachers, nurses, state parks workers and other public employees and their supporters have been in Madison for nearly two-weeks in a historic protest against Walker’s assault on good jobs.

Republican lawmakers immediately left the chamber without comment.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca called the action

a sad day for day for this state when we are willing to ignore the traditions that people died for in this state, that people fought bitterly for.,we ignore our forefathers who made this a great state.

The bill still must pass the state Senate and Wisconsin workers continue their fight against the bill. Also hundreds of solidarity rallies are on tap across the country this weekend and we’ll bring you more on these later today.

Sunday, February 20, 2011  02:57 AM

Protesters gather outside the Capitol in Madison, Wis. The largest crowd since protests began showed up yesterday.

MADISON, Wis. - A state Capitol thrown into political chaos swelled for a fifth day with nearly 70,000 protesters, as supporters of Republican efforts to scrap the union rights of state workers challenged pro-labor protesters face to face for the first time. GOP leaders insisted again yesterday that there was no room for compromise.

Image courtesy of the New York Times
Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Up to 30,000 people overwhelmed the Wisconsin State Capitol amid weeklong protests in Madison. Members of the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers and President Obama have made statements in support of public workers’ unions.

Tom Morrello leads singing of World Wide Rebel Song and reads solidarity message from Egypt

World Wide Rebel Song

As the standoff entered its second week, thousands braved cold winds and freezing temperatures to march again on Monday, waving signs that said “Stop the attack on Wisconsin families” and “solidarity.” The protests drew a high of 68,000 people on Saturday.

A standoff in Wisconsin between Republican state lawmakers and their Democratic counterparts, as well as public workers and unions, has put the state capitol at center stage of a national struggle for workers’ rights, with peaceful protests not seen since the Vietnam War 40 years ago. Republican leaders are ignoring the interests of 200,000 state employees and their families, and so far are choosing to stand with big business and campaign contributors over working families.

Under the guise of pushing through debatable budget cuts, Governor Scott Walker is also trying to push through legislation that would curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers in violation of their democratic rights and in what many say is an un-American assault on labor unions and workers. He is using the fiscal crisis to advance an extremist agenda against the middle class. At a time when many public employees have taken freezes and furloughs already, Governor Walker proposed to cut the pay and benefits of workers as much as 10 percent.

These are middle class families on the line, and Governor Walker’s blatant disregard for their democratic rights as workers to form a union and collectively bargain is a blatant power play by Republican big money interests and a blow to working families in Wisconsin.

Governor Walker would destroy the voice of educators, nurses, sanitation workers, police officers, firefighters, bus drivers, and other public employees by destroying their unions. His legislation would placate big business and his campaign contributors, abandoning 200,000 public employees. This does not solve the state’s budget problems, and would instead unfairly penalize the people of Wisconsin.

We stand with the working families in Wisconsin and wish them luck in their struggle.

by Northwestern Living Wage Campaign


Jobs With Justice

Worker Solidarity Rallies Planned

By jwjnational, on February 19th, 2011

Albany rallies for WI workers on Feb 18. Photo by John Flanders.

The week of February 21st, workers, community, faith, and students will come together to rally in support of workers under attack in Wisconsin and across the country.  Below is a list of actions we know are planned so far.  More details ar e coming in all the time, so check back for updates.  Please post in the comments if you’re planning something or email us & we’ll add it to the list.

(Last updated February 21, 2011 at 11:30am)

Juneau, AK
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm, State Capitol

Little Rock, AR
Tueesday, February 22 . 11:30am, State Capitol

Phoenix, AZ
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm. State Capitol

Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 4:00pm.  Pershing Square

Oakland, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 5:30pm at the State Building (15th and Clay — one block west of City Hall)

Palmdale, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 5:30pm.  Vigil at Poncitian Square

Sacramento, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 5:30pm.  State Capitol, West steps

San Diego, CA
Tuesday, February 22 . 4:30pm.  3737 Camino del Rio South (Rep. Davis’ office)

Denver, CO
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm, Colorado State House

Washington, DC
Wednesday, February 23 . 12:30pm. 444 North Capitol St NW (offices of WI Gov and OH Gov); Feeder march from Dupont Circle starting at 11:30am also in the works.

Hartford, CT
Wednesday, February 23 . 12:00pm, State Capitol West Steps

Orlando, FL
Thursday, February 24 . 6:30pm.  In front of the University of Central Florida.

Palm Bay, FL
Monday, February 28. 1:00pm and 6:00pm.  Town Hall meetings with Reps Tobia and Workman at City Hall.

Atlanta, GA
Wednesday, February 23 . 4:00pm-6:00pm. State Capitol

Chicago, IL
Monday, February 21 . 6:00am, Plumber’s Hall.  Buses to Madison, WI returning at 9pm.  Contact Chicago JwJ to reserve a seat.

Peoria, IL
Thursday, February 24 . 5:00pm. Peoria County Courthouse.

Urbana, IL
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm.  Alma Mater statue, Green and Wright Streets, Urbana, U of I campus.

Indianapolis, IN
Monday, February 21 · 9:00am – 5:00pm, Indiana State House, Room 156A in the basement.  This is a hearing on IN’s Right to Work Bill.
Tuesday, February 22 . 9am – 5:00pm, Indiana State House.  Faith Service at 10:30, RALLY – 12:30, Grassroots Lobbying – Afternoon, Closing rally: 5:00 – SIT IN HAPPENING NOW!

South Bend, IN
Monday, February 21 . 10:00am.  Teamsters Local 364 2405 East Edison Rd.  Workers’ Rights Board Hearing on Right to Work

Des Moines, IA
Tuesday, February 22 . 1:00pm, State Capitol west steps (a counter-rally will be held at 12pm)

Annapolis, MD
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm, Lawyer’s Mall.  MD AFL-CIO for more info

Boston, MA
Tuesday, February 22 · 4:00pm – 6:00pm
, Massachusetts State House

Springfield, MA
Tuesday, February 22 · 4:00pm, City Hall, W. Mass JwJ for more info

Lansing, MI
Tuesday, February 22 . 9:00am . 215 N. Capitol (corner of Ottawa) Central United Methodist Church
Tuesday, February 22 . 10:00am.  MI AFL-CIO Press Conference.

Duluth, MN
Thursday, February 24 . 12:00pm. City Hall.

Saint Paul, MN
Tuesday, February 22 · 4:00pm – 5:00pm. Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda

Helena, MT
Monday, February 21 . 2:00pm . 1301 East 6th Avenue

Santa Fe, NM
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:15pm. State House East side

Trenton, NJ
Friday, February 25 . 12:00pm. State House.

New York, NY
Tuesday, February 22 . 5:00pm. Wisconsin Solidarity Rally at FOX News at 6th Ave. and 48th St.
Thursday, February 24 . for details

Raliegh, NC
Monday, February 21 . 11:00am AFL-CIO  press conference; 12:00pm rally at  North Carolina State Capitol, UE Local 150 for more info

Carson City, NV
Monday, February 21 . 12:00pm. State Capitol

Las Vegas, NV
Monday, February 21 . 12:00pm. State Building

Canton, OH
Tuesday, February 22 . 4:00pm.  Rally against SB5 at the Civic Center, 1101 Market Ave. N.

Cleveland, OH
Tuesday, February 22 . various.  Buses to Columbus for Ohio’s SB5 hearing.  Contact Cleveland JwJ for details.

Columbus, OH
Tuesday, February 22 . 1:00pm, Ohio State House.  This rally is in before a hearing on Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 at 4pm, which would ban collective bargaining for public workers.

Portland, OR
Saturday, February 26 . 4:00pm. Pioneer Square

Salem, OR
Monday, February 21 . 12:00pm. Oregon State House, Rally for Education & Solidarity with Wisconsin Workers, contact Portland JwJ for details

Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, February 24. 11:30am-2:30pm. Tom Paine Plaza, in front of the MSB, across from City Hall

Pittsburgh, PA
Thursday, February 24. 12:00pm. USW Headquarters

Scranton, PA
Wednesday, February 23 . 12:00pm, Lackawanna Court House

Statewide, PA
Tuesday, February 22. WEAR RED to show solidarity

San Juan, PR
Monday, February 21 . State Capitol, contact PR AFL-CIO for details

Providence, RI
Tuesday, February 22 · 4:30pm – 7:30pm
, Rhode Island State House

Nashville, TN
Wednesday, February 23 . 11:30am.  State Capitol, Legislative Plaza in front of the escalators to the tunnel. Rally & Press conference “Stop the Attack on Hardworking Tennesseans”

Austin, TX
Monday, February 21. 6:45pm. Candlelight march & vigil starting at AFL-CIO 1106 Lavaca Street.

Dallas, TX
Saturday, February 26 . 10:00am. Hearing at 410 S Beckley (Judge Medrano’s Room)

Salt Lake City, UT
Tuesday, February 22.  State Capitol, contact UT AFL-CIO for details

Montpelier, VT
Tuesday, February 22 . 12:00pm. State Capitol

Olympia, WA
Monday, February 21 . 12:00pm.  State Capitol Rotunda

Spokane, WA
Friday, February 25 . 4:30pm-5:30pm.  Corner of Ruby, Division and North River Drive in front of Wendy’s Restaurant

Charleston, WV
Monday, February 21 . Lobby Day.  Contact AFSCME for details

Madison, WI
Rallies at the Statehouse continue.

West Bend, WI
Sunday, February 27 . 12:00pm-3:00pm. Corner of Paradise & Main St.

February 26.  See for details.


Tens of thousands march in Wisconsin in support of union rights

by Scott Bauer

Madison, Wisconsin— The Associated Press

Published Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 6:06PM EST

No resolution appeared imminent Monday to the stalemate over union rights in Wisconsin that has riveted the country and led to ongoing public protests that have drawn tens of thousands of people.

As the standoff entered its second week, thousands braved cold winds and freezing temperatures to march again on Monday, waving signs that said “Stop the attack on Wisconsin families” and “solidarity.” The protests drew a high of 68,000 people on Saturday.

The dispute in the Midwestern state is being watched across America because if Republican Governor Scott Walker prevails in Wisconsin, other conservative Republican governors may try to go after powerful public employee unions as part of their budget-cutting policies.

Defeating the Wisconsin bill and others like it is crucial for public-sector unions, an important part of the Democratic Party base. President Barack Obama and other Democrats will need the strong support of unions in the 2012 elections — especially in key swing states like Wisconsin — to counter a huge influx of corporate funds allowed under a Supreme Court decision last year.

The 14 state Senate Democrats who skipped town Thursday to indefinitely delay a vote on Gov. Walker's bill stripping most collective bargaining rights from nearly all public employees remained missing in action for a fifth day.

“You have shut down the people's government, and that is not acceptable,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said during a brief meeting Monday setting the agenda for Tuesday's Senate session.

Two of the missing Democrats participated by phone from an undisclosed location.

“You're not in negotiations. There is no negotiation,” Mr. Fitzgerald said, cutting off one of the Democrats on the phone. “You need to get back to the floor of the Senate and offer any ideas you may have on final passage. That's where we're at. There is no negotiation.”

Both the Senate and Assembly planned to be in session on Tuesday to take up the bill, but at least one of the missing Democrats needed to show up for a vote to be taken in the Senate. Assembly Democrats planned to offer dozens of amendments that could push a vote into Wednesday or later.

That left Senate Republicans resigned to forge ahead with less-controversial business such as tax breaks for dairy farmers and commending the local Green Bay Packers football team on winning the Super Bowl.

The Democratic senators taking part in the scheduling meeting urged Republicans to accept the offer made by the unions under which they would accept paying more for benefits as Gov. Walker wants but still retain their collective bargaining rights.

Another compromise offered by Republican Senator Dale Schultz would remove collective bargaining rights just for two years

“It's time for all of us to move forward,” said Democratic Senator Dave Hansen over the phone to the Republicans.

Gov. Walker has rejected both offers, saying local governments and school districts can't be hamstrung by the often lengthy collective bargaining process and need to have more flexibility to deal with up to $1-billion in cuts he will propose in his budget next week and into the future.

“It will never get to me because other than that one state senator, all the rest of the Republicans are firmly behind our proposal,” Gov. Walker said in an MSNBC interview on Monday, calling it an unacceptable short-term fix.

The emergency plan he wants the Legislature to pass would address this year's $137-million shortfall and start dealing with the $3.6-billion hole expected by mid-2013. The benefits concessions would amount to $30-million this year, but the largest savings Gov. Walker proposed comes from refinancing debt to save $165-million.

That portion must be done by Friday for bonds to be refinanced in time to realize the savings by June 30, the end of this fiscal year.

Gov. Walker said not passing the bill by Friday would make even deeper cuts necessary and possibly result in laying off 1,500 workers over the next four months.

Thousands of those affected and their supporters marched on the Capitol for a seventh straight day. Hundreds of them have been sleeping in the rotunda every night and several districts have had to close after so many teachers called in sick. The Madison School District was closed Wednesday through Monday but was expected to reopen Tuesday.


AFL/CIO Now blog

Check Out Great Video and Audio Clips from Wisconsin Events

 by Tula Connell, Feb 22, 2011


TONS of great video clips from Wisconsin.

Here is a list of links. Check them out and get inspired.


"What's Disgusting? Union Busting!" Chant Wisconsin Crowds That Swell to 30,000; Key GOP Legislators Waver

by John Nichols

Published on Thursday, February 17, 2011 by The Nation

"I have never been prouder of our movement than I am at this moment,"  shouted Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt, as he surveyed the crowds of union members and their supporters that surged around the state Capitol and into the streets of Madison Wednesday, literally closing the downtown as tens of thousands of Wisconsinites protested their Republican governor’s attempt to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.

Where Tuesday’s mid-day protests drew crowds estimated at 12,000 to 15,000, Wednesday's mid-day rally drew 30,000, according to estimates by organizers.  Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, a veteran of 27 years on the city’s force, said he had has never see a protest of this size at the Capitol – and he noted that, while crowd estimates usually just measure those outside, this time the inside of the sprawling state Capitol was “packed.”
On Wednesday night, an estimated 20,000 teachers and their supporters rallied outside the Capitol and then marched into the building, filling the rotunda, stairways and hallways. Chants of "What's disgusting? Union busting!" shook the building as legislators met in committee rooms late into the night.

Protestors to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers demonstrate in at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Andy Manis) The country was starting to take notice, as broadcast and cable-news satellite trucks rolled into town. The images they captured were stunning, as peaceful crowds filled vast stretches of the square that surrounds the seat of state government.

Republican legislators -- who had been poised to pass the governor’s plan Thursday, and might yet do so  – were clearly paying attention. Two GOP senators broke with the governor, at least to some extent. Dale Schultz from rural southeastern Wisconsin and Van Wanggaard from the traditional manufacturing center of Racine, proposed an alternative bill that would allow limit bargaining rights for public employees on wages, pensions and health care for the next two years but allow them to continue to bargain on other issues.

While that’s hardly an attractive prospect to state workers – as it would also require them to make significantly higher pension and health-care contributions –  the measure rejects the most draconian component’s of the governor’s plan. Other Republicans resisted the proposal, however, offering only minor amendments to the governor's plan.

If Schultz and Wanggaard actually vote "no" Thursday, when the measure is to be taken up, just one more Republican senator would have to join them in order to block the bill.

That the first real movement by Republicans came after Wednesday’s rally was hardly surprising, as few state capital’s have seen the sort of mobilization that occurred at mid-day, and that is likely to reoccur at nightfall as teachers from across the state are expected to pour into the city for a rally and candlelight vigil.

In some senses, Wednesday’s remarkable rally began Tuesday evening, when Madison Teachers Inc., the local education union, announced that teachers would leave their classrooms to spend the day lobbying legislators to “Kill the Bill” that has been proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker.

The teachers showed up en masse in downtown Madison Wednesday morning.

And then something remarkable happened.

Instead of taking the day off, their students gathered at schools on the west and east sides of Madison and marched miles along the city’s main thoroughfares to join the largest mass demonstration the city has seen in decades – perhaps since the great protests of the Vietnam War era.

Thousands of high school students arrived at the Capital Square, coming from opposite directions, chanting: “We support our teachers! We support public education!”

Thousands of University of Wisconsin students joined them, decked out in the school’s red-and-white colors.

Buses rolled in from every corner of the state, from Racine and Kenosha in the southeast to Green Bay in the northeast, from La Crosse on the Mississippi River to Milwaukee on Lake Michigan.

Buses and cars arrived from Illinois and Minnesota and as far away as Kansas, as teachers and public employees from those states showed up at what American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union president Gerald McEntee says is “ground zero “in the struggle for labor rights in America.

The moms and dads of the elementary school kids came, and the kids, carrying hand-lettered signs:

“I love my teacher!”

“Scott Walker needs to go back to school!”

“Scott Walker needs a time out!”

And, “We are Wisconsin!

“I’ve been here since the 1960s, I’ve seen great demonstrations,” said former Mayor Paul Soglin, a proud former student radical who was nominated for a new term in Tuesday’s local primary election. “This is different. This is everyone – everyone turning out.”

Everyone except the governor, who high-tailed it out of town, launching a tour of outlying communities in hopes of drumming up support for his bill. Most of the support Walker was getting was coming from national conservative political groups, such as the Club for Growth, which have long hoped to break public-employee unions. But the governor held firm, saying after a day of unprecedented protests – in Madison and small towns and cities across the state – that he still wanted to pass his bill. He’s got strong support in the overwhelmingly Republican Assembly. But he cannot afford to lose one more Republican state senator. And the unions and their backers are determined to find that one Republican who is smart enough and honest enough to recognize that the governor's assault of public employees is an assault on Wisconsin itself.
The state's largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council has called on its 98,000 members to come to rally in their hometowns and then come to the Capitol. "All citizens of Wisconsin should come to Madison!" reads the call. Tens of thousands will come. The state, county and municipal employees will come. The nurses will come. The small business owners will come. The parents and students will come. They will ask the question: "What's disgusting?" And they will answer with a roar: "Union busting!"

© 2011 The Nation

USA: from progressive to rentier

posted 21 Feb 2011, 10:19 by Admin uk   [ updated 2 Apr 2011, 03:41 ]

 15 February 2010

 by Michael Roberts

 US capitalism is no longer a progressive force in the development of productive forces.  What do I mean?  An economy is ‘progressive’ in the sense that it develops more and new things that people can use to improve their living standards and reduce their hours of toil.  Capitalism is a social mode of production that has been progressive in that sense.  ‘Progressive’ does not mean that the capitalist system is fair, equal or just, just that it has raised the production of things we use and need to new heights.

But US capitalism has now got old and less and less progressive.  The US capitalist economy now has more sectors of its economy that act as a parasites on the productive sectors of the economy, living off the value generated there.  These parasitic sectors do not produce value but merely usurp or extract that value from the productive sectors, indeed to the point where they seem more profitable.  These unproductive sectors include finance, real estate, insurance (called FIRE), wholesale merchanting, advertising and marketing and government.   Many of them may be necessary to capitalism in lubricating the system with credit or providing a healthy and educated workforce.  But they are at a cost to the productive sectors, like manufacturing, agriculture, mining, utilities, transport and communications.

For US capitalism to be progressive then, these productive sectors must be dominant.  They are no longer.

I looked at data going back to 1799 (see the Historical Statistics of the United States 1799-1945, published by the US Bureau of Census).  Back in 1799, agriculture was the dominant sector in the US economy with 40% of output followed by transport at 24%.  Manufacturing was just 5% of output.  Just before the start of the second world war in 1937, manufacturing was the dominant sector peaking at 31% of GDP compared to 12% for agriculture by then (transport was more or less the same share).   The US did not become a predominantly industrial capitalist economy until 1900, when manufacturing share’s finally surpassed that of agriculture at around 20% of GDP.

It really took off in the interwar period as the US became the greatest manufacturing nation in the world (which by the way it is still is – China has not quite surpassed it yet in billions of dollars of value, although it is about to) .

But by 1937, the productive sectors of the US economy were predominant, contributing nearly 60% of annual output.  The really parasitic parts of the economy (FIRE) were still little more than 10% of annual output.

But that was the peak.  After 1945, US manufacturing became less and less the dominant sector in the economy, dropping from 28% in 1950 to just 11% of GDP now.  At the same time, FIRE’s share rose from 11% to just under 22% now, a  doubling.  The services sector, especially government, also grew significantly in size and the productive sectors of the capitalist economy are now in a minority.

The key tipping point was when FIRE’s share of national output exceeded manufacturing in 1985.  From then on, US capitalism has become increasingly a rentier economy – more value now comes from interest, rents and dividends than from manufacturing.  FIRE’s share of added value has been hived off from the productive sectors (both those within the US and from abroad).

It is well documented that financial sector profits have risen sharply compared with non-financial profits in the US economy, at one point reaching over 40% of all domestic profits.  But there has also been an even more significant rise in profits from overseas.  That’s nearly quadrupled since 1950, while financial profits have just doubled as a share.  US non-financial domestic profits have dropped by one-third.  Domestic non-financial profits still constitute the biggest share but we are close to the point when profits from the financial and overseas sectors will contribute more than half of all US corporate profits.

That would make the US truly an imperialist rentier economy.  America is no longer the progressive force in the world but a parasite on other capitalist economies.

Is America recovering?

posted 21 Feb 2011, 10:16 by Admin uk   [ updated 21 Feb 2011, 10:18 ]

    7 February 2010

    by Michael Roberts

    The January employment figures in the US were totally confusing.  The increase in jobs in January was announced as just 36,000, way below most economists’ forecasts.  That suggested the US economy is stuttering and would not sustain an economic recovery.  On the other hand, the January unemployment rate fell from 9.4% to 9.0%, a huge monthly fall and followed a similar drop in December.  That suggests a fast-gathering economic recovery is under way as corporations and small businesses start to hire new staff.

Since the figures were announced, economists have written reams about what is the truth behind these conflicting data.  The conflict is caused by the employment figures being generated from a different survey than the unemployment figures – the two series are not compatible and only begin to coincide after a long period (of even longer than a year sometimes).  So one or two month’s data tell you little.
So is American capitalism recovering from the Great Recession?  The best way to answer that question is to look at three economic series.  The first is the state of corporate profits and profitability.  This is the best measure of the health of capitalism and the best indicator of which way a capitalist economy is likely to go.
The second measure is to look at investment. Capitalists use most of their profits to invest and without capitalist investment in new structures and new equipments, economic growth will be weak at best and fall back at most.  And with investment in new technology and buildings, increased hiring and a rise in employment should follow.
With a  rise in employment would come better incomes for the majority of working people and thus more spending on consumer goods and services.  So the third and lagging measure is the state of employment.
Let’s consider these series, starting with profits and profitability.  We don’t yet have the figures for US corporate profits for the last quarter of 2010.  The data stop in Q3’2010 at the moment.  But they show two things in the graph below.
First, total corporate profits in $bn are now virtually back to the level they peaked at in Q3’2006.  They fell a staggering 40% from that peak to a low at the end of 2008.  Now they have jumped back by 65% in the last two years, as corporations drastically reduced costs by sacking over 9m workers and stopping investment programmes or closing down plant.   So profits have risen $645bn from the low point.  At the same time, corporate revenues have risen just $$540bn, or 7%.  So the huge recovery in profits has mostly been achieved by cost-cutting not by an increase in sales.
This cost-cutting has also restored corporate profitability.  We can’t measure properly the rate of profit in the US economy right up to the end of 2010 from a Marxist point of view because the data are not available yet.  But we can get a good proxy for profitability by measuring corporate profits against gross domestic product.  If we do that, we see that the rate of profit (more strictly, the profit margin) has climbed back to over 11% of GDP from a low of 7% at the end of 2008.
Profitability is still not back at the peak of 12.3% in Q3’2006, which was artificially bloated by the great credit and financial sector boom that went bust in 2007-8.   But it’s now well above the average rate of the last ten years.
So the profitability figures suggest that the US economy is recovering.  But for the recovery to be sustainable, investment and employment growth must follow.   If we look at the state of private investment in the US, the picture is not so positive.
As the graph shows, private non-residential investment (so this excludes households buying houses and government investment) fell 18% from a peak in mid-2008 to a low at the end of 2009.   Since then, it made a 9% recovery in 2010.  But corporate investment levels are still $240bn lower than they were in 2008, some three years later.   And the ratio of corporate investment as a share of GDP is still 2% points below its peak three years ago.    The recovery in US corporate profitability would suggest that investment will also pick up, but so far it has been painfully slow.
That brings us to employment, where we started in this post.  Recovering profitability and profits have engendered a weak revival in corporate investment.  And because investment is rising only slowly, companies are not rehiring , even if they have stopped sacking workers.  The best measure of that, which cuts through the confusions of the January data, is the employment to population ratio.
When we look at the US data, we find that the employment to population ratio took a huge fall during the Great Recession.  The ratio has more or less stabilised since the end of 2009, but shows little sign of recovering.  The ratio is still higher than in the 1970s, but that’s simply because many women have taken up jobs in the last 40 years ( the male participation rate has systematically fallen over the last 50 years and is now at its lowest level ever).   The overall participation rate (ie the number of those employed compared to those of working age) fell 8% from the end of 2006 and has not recovered.  That means many Americans cannot get a job, have given up and stayed at home or gone into education.
As the US Center for Budget and Policy Priorities puts it, although job losses have bottomed out, 7.7m less Americans are at work than in December 2007.  It’s particularly worse for those long-term unemployed .  Over two-fifths of the 14m Americans who are unemployed have been out of work for over half a year – that’s 6.2m peple and over 4% of the labour force.  That’s more than 70% worse than in the last big recession of 1980-2.
New jobs are being created at about 100k a month right now.  That’s not enough to keep up with population growth and nowhere near enough to get the unemployment rate down.  There needs to be an increase in jobs of 320k a month for two years to get employment back to December 2007 levels and even more to restore full employment.  Indeed, the US Congressional Budget Office reckons even if the US grows at its historic trend real growth rate of 3.4% a year from now on, it will take until 2016 for the unemployment rate to halve!
Having looked at these three series, we can reach a conclusion.  The capitalist economy is recovering from the Great Recession: profits and profitability have nearly recovered to previous peaks.  But American corporations are still reluctant or cautious about raising investment and starting to expand again after huge cutbacks in costs and ‘downsizing’ their workforces.  As a result, employment is not yet picking up much and so American households will not see any improvement from the cuts in real incomes that they have suffered over the last two years.
Of course, that loss in the real incomes of average Americans has not happened to the rich.  The richest 1% own more than half of all the shares of stock traded on Wall Street and the top 10% own the next 40%.  And the US stock market has nearly doubled since its low in March 2009.  Most Americans have hardly any assets and what they do have is just a portion of equity in their homes.  The collapse in home prices (30% plus since the peak) has not been restored at all.  So for the average household, wealth is still hugely down.

In the latest quarterly survey of housing-market conditions, home prices continue to drop. They’ve dropped in all of the 28 major metropolitan areas compared to a year earlier.  The size of the year-to-year price declines is larger than the previous quarters in all but three of the markets surveyed.

And as we have commented on before, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez have published data recently that show, while the top 1% of American households by income saw a 20% fall in real income during the Great Recession (see my post, No remorse, 13 January 2011).  This wiped out half the gains they had made between 2002 and 2007.  But the bottom 90% of American households also saw incomes fall by 7%, the largest one-year drop since 1938!  And that more than wiped out any increase from 2002 to 2007, leaving real incomes for 90% of American households no higher than they were 15 years ago!

For most Americans, there is no recovery at all.

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