Tuesday 13 April '10 show notes

  • Guests:
  • Topics:
    • Massey mine safety violations.
    • Do CEOs work for shareholders, employees, customers or society as a whole?
    • In France, workers are committing suicide and blowing up factories...what is going on in America?
    • Bring Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide?
    • When will Americans finally figure out that they've been had by shills for the rich?
    • Tax cuts for the wealthy cost Americans $700 billion between 2001-2008?!
  • Bumper Music:
  • Today's newsletter has details of today's guests and links to the major stories and alerts that Thom covered in the show, plus lots more. If you haven't signed up for the free newsletter yet, please do. If you missed today's newsletter, it is in the archive.
  • Quote: "Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor." ~ John F. Kennedy.
  • Article: Behind Obama’s Cool by Garry Wills.
    “My experience being able to walk into a public-housing development and turn around and walk into a corporate boardroom and communicate effectively in either venue means that I’m more likely to be able to build the kinds of coalitions and craft the sort of message that appeals to a broad range of people.”


    Obama’s strategy everywhere before entering the White House was one of omnidirectional placation. It had always worked. Why should he abandon, at this point, a method of such proved effectiveness? Yet success at winning acceptance may not be what is called for in a leader moving through a time of peril. To disarm fears of change (the first African-­American presidency is, in itself, a big jolt of change), Obama has stressed continuity. Though he first became known as a critic of the war in Iraq, he has kept aspects or offshoots of Bush’s war on terror — possible future “renditions” (kidnappings on foreign soil), trials of suspected terrorists in military tribunals, no investigations of torture, an expanded Afghan commitment, though he promised to avoid “a dumb war.” He appointed as his vice president and secretary of state people who voted for the Iraq war, and as secretary of defense and presiding generals people who conducted or defended that war.

    To cope with the financial crisis, he turned to Messrs. Geithner, Summers and Bernanke, who were involved in fomenting the crisis. To launch reform of medical care, he huddled with the American Medical Association, big pharmaceutical companies and insurance firms, and announced that his effort had their backing (the best position to be in for stabbing purposes, which they did month after month). All these things speak to Obama’s concern with continuity and placation. But continuity easily turns into inertia, as we found when Obama wasted the first year of his term, the optimum time for getting things done. He may have drunk his own Kool-Aid — believing that his election could of itself usher in a post-racial, post-partisan, post-red-state and blue-state era. That is a change no one should ever have believed in. The price of winningness can be losing; and that, in this scary time, is enough to break the heart of hope.
  • Article: Replacing the ‘dumbest idea in the world’ by Michael Skapinker.
    Another hearing, another round of self-criticism from finance’s fallen functionaries. “I can only say that I’m deeply sorry,” Chuck Prince, former chief executive of Citigroup, told the US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission last week. Robert Rubin, a former Citigroup director, said he too was full of regret.

    It is all very well being sorry, but what is to be done? In the search for a way forward, business leaders are upending the nostrums of 30 years – particularly the relentless focus on shareholder return.

    Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI, the British employers’ group (and a former editor of this newspaper), suggested in a recent speech that “what you might call Jack Welch capitalism” was drawing to a close – a reference to the former General Electric chief executive’s championing of shareholder value.

    Mr Welch actually got his renunciation in first, last year calling shareholder value “the dumbest idea in the world”. He added: “Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy ... Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.”

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