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In The Public Interest

Ryan afraid to debate his own budget plan

In the Public Interest

The cruel impoverishment of the debate among the presidential and congressional candidates took a gigantic leap into the pits with Mitt Romney’s selection of 42-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan from the deindustrialized town of Janesville, Wisc. Ryan is invariably described by reporters as “an intellectual leader of the conservative movement” and by fellow Republicans as a person “who tells the hard truths” to the American people.

The Democratic party sleeps on FDR’s legacy

In the Public Interest

Calling Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the Democratic Party, elected officials, political operatives and labor’s leader Richard Trumka. Thirty million American workers want and need a federal minimum wage of $10 per hour which is slightly less than their predecessors got in 1968 – yes 1968 – adjusted for inflation. What will it take for you to make this a priority?

Obama/Romney: Address the prison-industrial complex

In the Public Interest

Ever visit a major prison? The vast majority of Americans have not, despite our country having by far a higher incarceration rate per capita than China or Iran. Out of sight is out of mind.

We need corporate patriotism

In the Public Interest

What would happen if we asked the executives of the giant U.S. corporations, whose products constantly surround us, to show some corporate patriotism?

After all, General Electric, DuPont, Citiagroup, Pfizer and others demand that they be treated as “persons” under our Constitution and our laws. And, they expect unfiltered loyalty from American workers even to the point of blocking the organization of unions so workers can band together for collective bargaining.

The inane, insane campaign of Mitt Romney

In the Public Interest

Mitt Romney’s daily dittohead assertions make one wonder what he got out of the law and business degrees he received from Harvard University. One of his regular blasts blames Barack Obama for the daily reports of bad economic indicators. Unemployment increases — blame Obama. Retail sales decline — blame Obama. Profits not rising — blame Obama. Housing crisis continues — blame Obama.

At the same time, Romney will be the first to tell you that government doesn’t create jobs. In the same breath he’ll brag about creating thousands of jobs as a one-term governor of Massachusetts.

GOP perpetuates falsehoods in Congress

In the Public Interest

A friend who works in Congress and actually reads the Congressional Record suggested that a collection of excerpted falsehoods by Republicans on the floor of the House of Representatives and Senate would make compelling evidence for the truth of economist Albert Hirschman’s book, “The Rhetoric of Reaction” (1991).

Professor Hirschman, a very original political economist, found throughout American history the following three propositions were commonly used to counter social justice efforts:

It’s time to crack down on oil speculation

In the Public Interest

Gasoline and heating oil prices are ratcheting up. In California, some motorists are paying more than $5 per gallon. President Obama declared that “there is no quick fix” for this problem. Meanwhile, the hapless but howling Republicans are blaming him for the fuel surge as if he is a price control czar.

A winning issue for Democrats to embrace

In The Public Interest

How inert can the Democratic Party be? Do they really want to defeat the Congressional Republicans in the fall by doing the right thing?

A winning issue is to raise the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 since 2007. If it was adjusted for inflation since 1968, not to mention other erosions of wage levels, the federal minimum would be around $10.

Here are some arguments for raising the minimum wage this year to catch up with 1968 when worker productivity was half of what it is today.

Exceptional journalist leaves lasting legacy

In The Public Interest

Anthony Shadid, called the “most gifted foreign correspondent in a generation” by his then Washington Post colleague, Rajiv Chandrasekaran (author of the widely heralded book “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”), didn’t really need a byline. For anyone familiar with his peerless, unique reports from the Middle East would read them and just know they were a Shadid special.

Unsanctioned boxing: It’s time to end fighting in hockey

In The Public Interest

Call it what you will, but staged, premeditated or planned fighting in the National Hockey League (NHL), where two big “enforcers” slug each other’s heads with their bare fists, has no place in the game of hockey. Such fighting is boxing and as such requires a boxing license under many state laws.

The NHL does not take out a license for the fighters. The concussion epidemic, the fatal overuse of pain-killing drugs player suicides — two NHL players last year — may soon evolve into a law enforcement matter by some state prosecutors.