December 03 2008 show notes

Topics, guests, upcoming events, quotes, links to articles, audio clips, books & bumper music.

Wednesday 03 December '08 show

  • Show live from Air America, New York.
  • "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office."
    Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2 of the US Constitution.

    They will get Congress to decrease the salary of Secretary of State before Hillary takes up office.
  • Article: French keep faith in labour tribunals.
    "Norbert Gilmez embodies the abiding faith of the downtrodden in France's prud'hommes - a system of elected employment tribunals that is unique in Europe.

    One of 200,000 plaintiffs lodging a complaint each year, the former miner is seeking redress for unfair dismissal. But his case is different. Mr Gilmez is 87 and he was sacked in 1948.

    Mr Gilmez brought his complaint in the hope that a change in the law three years ago would give rise to compensation for being summarily fired during a miners' strike 60 years ago that was "brutally repressed" by the postwar government.

    "We have no other possibilities," he said. "The prud'hommes is all we have left."

    Mr Gilmez's determination to get justice is perhaps the most telling advertisement for the six-yearly prud'hommales elections that take place across France today.

    Nearly 20m employees and employers are eligible to vote for the 14,500 tribunal members - split between union and employer representatives.

    The prud'hommes - a word deriving from medieval councils - are a reminder of France's tradition of organised industrial relations, where unions and employers play an equal role in negotiating labour rules and managing the welfare state.
  • Retired generals are encouraging Barack Obama to make a clean break with the Bush detainee policies.
  • Article: Stephen Hayes: Bush Administration Working on a Legacy Project.
  • 50% of all us kids come home to empty house. Riff.
  • Book: "Screwed", Thom Hartmann.
  • Bumper Music: Mr. Blue Sky, ELO.
  • Article: From Middle to Shaky Ground, Tamara Draut Jennifer Wheary Thomas M. Shapiro, Tatjana Meschede.
    "A middle-class standard of living requires that families have adequate financial security to meet current obligations, invest in the future, and access opportunities. The most recent findings from the Middle Class Security Index show that between 2000 and 2006--even before the most recent economic downturn--the economic well-being of middle-class families slipped noticeably.

    Between 2000 and 2006 an estimated 4 million middle-class families lost their financial security, bringing the total number of middle-income families on shaky ground to 23 million.

    These worrisome changes in the overall financial health of the middle class were driven by a decline in assets, rising housing costs, and a growing lack of health insurance.
  • Guest: Jennifer Wheary, Senior Fellow, Demos. "From Middle to Shaky Ground". Report on the declining middle class. Thom gave them a talk on "Cracking The Code" a few months ago. People are in danger of slipping out of the middle class. Middle class is not just income, it's a way of life: being able to retire in comfort, put kids through school. National health care would not solve it, there's education etc. as well. "We stand for a living wage". How ill prepared the middle class is to weather the crisis. Rigged unemployment figures. What the fed is doing to money, reserves. Warren Buffett on class warfare. Many of the very wealthy are OCD about money; it is an illness, they can never have enough. Wetiko. Social Darwinism. 'Me' vs. 'we'. Libertarians are Republicans who want to smoke dope and get laid. Nouriel Roubini warns the worst is yet to come. We need to change the rules. In India it is a felony to own more than 2 stores. France is the only country of significance whose GDP is up, and it has the finest health care. We used to think of investment, not expense. Reaganomics. Let's do away with our socialist roads, police, fire, military, etc. The crisis is an opportunity to break the trance.
  • Clip:
    "We stand for a living wage. Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living--a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit a reasonable saving for old age.

    Hours are excessive if they fail to afford the worker sufficient time to recuperate and return to his work thoroughly refreshed. We hold that the night labor of women and children is abnormal and should be prohibited; we hold that the employment of women over forty-eight hours per week is abnormal and should be prohibited. We hold that the seven-day working week is abnormal, and we hold that one day of rest in seven should be provided by law.
    Theodore Roosevelt. "Social and Industrial Justice", Oyster Bay, New York, c. August, 1912. Recorded on wax cylinder by Thomas Edison.
  • "It's class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn't be."
    Warren Buffett.
  • Article: Nouriel Roubini.
    "The US and the global economy are at risk of a severe stag-deflation, a deadly combination of economic stagnation/recession and deflation.

    A severe global recession will lead to deflationary pressures. Falling demand will lead to lower inflation as companies cut prices to reduce excess inventory. Slack in labour markets from rising unemployment will control labour costs and wage growth. Further slack in commodity markets as prices fall will lead to sharply lower inflation. Thus inflation in advanced economies will fall towards the 1 per cent level that leads to concerns about deflation.

    Deflation is dangerous as it leads to a liquidity trap, a deflation trap and a debt deflation trap: nominal policy rates cannot fall below zero and thus monetary policy becomes ineffective. We are already in this liquidity trap since the Fed funds target rate is still 1 per cent but the effective one is close to zero as the Federal Reserve has flooded the financial system with liquidity; and by early 2009 the target Fed funds rate will formally hit 0 per cent. Also, in deflation the fall in prices means the real cost of capital is high

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From Screwed:
"Thom Hartmann’s book explains in simple language and with concrete research the details of the Neo-con’s war against the American middle class. It proves what many have intuited and serves to remind us that without a healthy, employed, and vital middle class, America is no more than the richest Third World country on the planet."
Peter Coyote, Actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall
From Screwed:
"The powers that be are running roughshod over the powers that OUGHT to be. Hartmann tells us what went wrong — and what you and I can do to help set American right again."
Jim Hightower, National Radio Commentator, Writer, Public Speaker, and author of the bestselling Thieves in High Places
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Right through the worst of the Bush years and into the present, Thom Hartmann has been one of the very few voices constantly willing to tell the truth. Rank him up there with Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, and Paul Krugman for having the sheer persistent courage of his convictions."
Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth