Liberalism Is No Friend To Labor

Police break up a strike of machinists in New Jersey in the 1930’s

For those of us who remember the NAFTA protests or who have fought against Cory Booker or Rahm Emmanuel in the war against teachers, it should be clear that liberalism is not an ideology friendly to organized labor. And yet so many of the major unions endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, even before the end of the primary when the obviously more pro-labor candidate was still in the race.

Leaving all the worthwhile critiques of modern labor leadership aside for a moment, what we have seen in the nomination of “literally the worst” Andrew Puzder alone makes union support of Democrats somewhat understandable. After all, even the most “third way” (thirdest?) Democrat would not dare to appoint a fast food CEO to the Department of Labor.

Well not quite – Hillary Clinton purportedly would have nominated Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for the position. But we do not need to dig into speculation about a hypothetical Democrat president who will never be. Because the untold story of unions being busted in the neoliberal era is that it was started a decade before Reagan took office by a liberal justice of the Supreme Court. 

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RebLaw Day 2

screen_shot_2013-05-02_at_1-44-55_pm_t500x309See my summary of the first day of the conference here.

After the amazing first day of the conference I was not sure that level of radical knowledge could be sustained, but I was very wrong. The second day, despite not getting into the first session I wanted to because of overcrowding, was just as good.

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RebLaw Day 1

Final Image Logo_2016The Rebellious Lawyering Conference (RebLaw) began yesterday at Yale Law School, bringing together law students, lawyers, and community organizers to discuss a plethora of social justice issues. The author attended two of the sessions, which were amazing and yielded interesting legal perspectives and strategies worth elaborating on (and of course there were many simultaneous sessions which you can check out here). And tomorrow I’ll give a similar summary of the sessions I attend today.

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The Janet Behind The Curtain

federal-reserve-blogThings are looking worse and worse for the liberal advocates of legalism and reform as direct action continues to win over and over and over again while doing things through the proper channels continues to fail. The latest blow is the resignation of Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel K. Tarullo. Mr. Tarullo’s term was supposed to continue until 2022 but, for undisclosed reasons, he has left prior to that expiration. Know for his rigorous (or haphazard, at least according to the bankers) stress tests that he conducted against the banks to test how they would weather various economic emergencies, Mr. Tarullo was the closest thing to a public advocate on the Fed. Admittedly not a high bar, but nevertheless with his departure things will likely get worse for the working class.

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Keep The Seat Empty: 5 Reasons To Block Neil Gorsuch

“I’m Mr. White Christmas, I’m Mr. Snow…”

The moment my colleagues and I have been dreading has finally arrived. Tonight, President Trump announced the appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to fill the seat of the Supreme Court opened by the death of Justice Scalia. But Judge Gorsuch must still be confirmed by the Senate to become Justice Gorsuch, and per Supreme Court appointment rules the Democrats could block his appointment by filibuster. But this post is not about whether the Republicans “deserve it” after the treatment of Judge Garland or some such punditry: instead I want to focus on what the legal consequences of a Justice Gorsuch would be as distilled from court dynamics and his record. After all, at 49 years old, Judge Gorsuch has the potential to be on the Court for decades upon decades.

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Capitalism’s Insecurities

Secured transactions are transactions where payments, typically on a loan of some kind, are secured by certain goods, called collateral, being subject to seizure upon failure to make payment. Mortgages, pawnshop loans, and money judgments from a lawsuit are all examples of secured transactions. Like most kinds of financial accumulation, they are speculative – they do not have the capital and may not get the capital depending on the circumstances. That risk however is mitigated by the ability to foreclose on the collateral to the loan and subsequently liquidating or reselling it to recover some, all, or even a surplus of the money owed.

Such transactions are ones that modern orthodox economists like to point to as too complicated or too attenuated from the labor theory of value for Marxist economics to explain. This reasoning comes from a misunderstanding of the labor theory of value – Marx never asserted that capital accumulation only comes from the immediate exploitation of wage labor. But even in these transactions, the value realized can always be traced back to its creation by labor. Loans are a paradigm of the neoclassical fiction of economics: the debtor benefits from having more capital in the short term to spend and the creditor benefits from making a profit, either on the interest or on foreclosing on the collateral and reselling it (admittedly this is a gross oversimplification, but nonetheless is the core of the profit motive). It seems to be win-win. And that is certainly how these transactions are marketed to consumers:

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Anything I want? Even investment centrally planned by a proletarian state?

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Shuffling Chairs on the Titanic: The Office of Congressional Ethics And Other Boogeymen

Ethics Investigators Launch Inquiry Into Lawmakers And AidesLiberals have been having a collective meltdown since the US presidential election made it that much more difficult for them to hide from their political ideas of formal equality and respectability imploding. The resistance, pardon the pun, has taken the form they love the most: collective, media-hyped outrage. From Russian hacking that is not actually Russian hacking to moderate rebels that are not actually moderate rebels, the party determined to stamp out “fake news” does not seem to have any qualms about using it for their own purposes, regardless of its source.

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A Government of Popular Insurgency: An Interview with George Ciccariello-Maher

Portrait of Tupac Amaru II from

I was going to wait to release this interview until I got a Spanish translation, but because of the egregious capitulation of Drexel University to white nationalist trolls who were throwing a temper tantrum over a joke by Ciccariello-Maher poking fun at the Chicken Little cry of “White Genocide” often made by the Far Right, a “genocide” not by murder or sterilization but by “miscegenation” and immigration. Considering that the United States is a colony and not in anyway a “traditional white land,” this claim of genocide is ridiculous. And yet Ciccariello-Maher is now being threatened by his employer Drexel University. So please, take some time to call or email Drexel University and calmly tell them that you support Ciccariello-Maher and academic freedom, and oppose universities caving in to white nationalism:

Niki Gianakaris
And you can sign a petition as well.

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The Inhumanity of Healthcare: An Update on Aetna, Humana, and the Decay of Obamacare

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Kevin Drum made a rather bold claim recently in an article for centrist malcontents Mother Jones: the Affordable Care Act is untouchable despite the imminent Republican control of all three branches of federal government. The basic idea is that (1) Republicans cannot repeal the pre-existing conditions protection; (2) insurance companies need a substantial federal healthcare infrastructure in order to afford taking on clients with pre-existing conditions; therefore (3) Republicans cannot substantially repeal the Affordable Care Act because it would cause the individual insurance market to collapse.

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Disrupt Disrupt Disrupt

qetcymgfltqvjje-800x450-nopadMy last post was really me processing what had happened, a necessary evaluation and freak out to move past the initial emotional impact of our country moving closer to fascism than it ever has before. I’ve been obsessively looking to Germany from 1914-1933, and particularly the promise but ultimately tragedy of Rosa Luxemburg. But we are not quite in the same situation as Germany: there are also elements of Russia on the cusp of the October Revolution, the Southern United States during the 1960’s, and apartheid South Africa also during the 1960’s.

January 20th General Strike

This afternoon, in part prompted by calls from Kshama Sawant and other US Leftists last night during protests, there has been a call for a general strike on January 20th. This is the only response adequate for this political moment. The hegemony and its media depict the elections, and particularly the presidential election, as some statement by the population. As such I heard a lot of people saying that their “faith in humanity” was seriously effected. To restore that faith, we need mass action to show not only that there are millions of people opposed to Trump but that they’re so opposed they’re willing to take to the streets and make major sacrifices.

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