Paul Krugman: “How to End This Depression“
The truth is that recovery would be almost ridiculously easy to achieve: all we need is to reverse the austerity policies of the past couple of years and temporarily boost spending. Never mind all the talk of how we have a long-run problem that can’t have a short-run solution — this may sound sophisticated, but it isn’t. With a boost in spending, we could be back to more or less full employment faster than anyone imagines.
But don’t we have to worry about long-run budget deficits? Keynes wrote that “the boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity.” Now … is the time for the government to spend more until the private sector is ready to carry the economy forward again. At that point, the US would be in a far better position to deal with deficits, entitlements, and the costs of financing them.
Meanwhile, the strong measures that would all go a long way toward lifting us out of this depression should include, among other policies, increased federal aid to state and local governments, which would restore the jobs of many public employees; a more aggressive approach by the Federal Reserve to quantitative easing (that is, purchasing bonds in an attempt to reduce long-term interest rates); and less timid efforts by the Obama administration to reduce homeowner debt.
Bill McKibben: “Too Hot Not to Notice?“
This is a full-on fight between information and disinformation, between the urge to witness and the urge to cover-up. The fossil-fuel industry has funded endless efforts to confuse people, to leave an impression that nothing much is going on. But — as with the tobacco industry before them — the evidence has simply gotten too strong.
Once you saw enough people die of lung cancer, you made the connection. The situation is the same today. Now, it’s not just the scientists and the insurance industry; it’s your neighbors. Even pleasant weather starts to seem weird. Fifteen thousand U.S. temperature records were broken, mainly in the East and Midwest, in the month of March alone, as a completely unprecedented heat wave moved across the continent. Most people I met enjoyed the rare experience of wearing shorts in winter, but they were still shaking their heads. Something was clearly wrong and they knew it.
When neoconservatives say that they are the party of “law and order,” it is important to remember that they care less for the rule of law than they do for the rule of order.
… As historian Robert Perkinson explores in his book Texas Tough, there has always been a distinctly repressive character to the Southern prison, with its chain gangs, forced labor, and limited attempts at reform. These vicious practices, born out of the era of slavery, remain and shape the modern prison. As Perkinson says of the penal labor farms in East Texas, “Nowhere else in turn-of-the-millennium America could one witness gangs of African American men filling cotton sacks under the watchful eyes of armed whites on horseback.”
As political power moved to the Sunbelt and conservatives successfully realigned the South rightward, these brutal tactics became wedded to the Republican Party. The prison is part of the conservative project of race control. As Michelle Alexander argues in The New Jim Crow, mass incarceration locks people of color into permanent second-class citizenship much as the Jim Crow system of de jure and de facto segregation did in the past. Legalized discrimination, political disenfranchisement, and segregation, instituted through techniques like job licensing restrictions and legal requirements for voting, are features of both regimes.