Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Admissions Of The Failures Of Extreme Free Market Policy

Alan Greenspan admitted yesterday that he may have been wrong in some respects in his extreme free market approach to the American economy during his time as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

From Mr. Greenspan’s testimony yesterday before Congress—

I made a mistake in presuming that the self interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, was such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and the equity in the firms,” Greenspan said. Having run the… central bank from 1987 to 2006 — under…three Republicans and a Democrat — Greenspan acknowledged that views he’s long held are now in question. “The problem here is that something that looked to be a very solid edifice and indeed a critical pillar to market competition and free markets did break down. And that, as I said, shocked me and I don’t fully understand why it happened,” he said. “And to the extent I figure out where it happened and why, I will change my views. And if the facts change, I will change.” Word of Greenspan’s confession spread quickly in Washington, where until recently he was treated as royalty….”After years of confrontation about the role of government regulation, I’m glad to see he now recognizes that his ideas are flawed,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and frequent Greenspan sparring partner, said in a statement.”

Senator Sanders, the one Socialist in Congress, always took on Mr. Greeenspan when he testified before House committees during Mr. Sander’s time in the House. 

Less noticed yesterday was that former President Bill Clinton criticized his own administration’s handling of issues related to the world food supply—

“Former President Clinton told a U.N. gathering Thursday that the global food crisis shows “we all blew it, including me,” by treating food crops “like color TVs” instead of as a vital commodity for the world’s poor. Addressing a high-level event marking Oct. 16’s World Food Day, Clinton also saluted President Bush — “one thing he got right” — for pushing to change U.S. food aid policy. He scolded the bipartisan coalition in Congress that killed the idea of making some aid donations in cash rather than in food. Clinton criticized decades of policymaking by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others, encouraged by the U.S., that pressured Africans in particular into dropping government subsidies for fertilizer, improved seed and other farm inputs as a requirement to get aid. Africa’s food self-sufficiency declined and food imports rose.”

Here is a BBC report on the World Food Crisis.

Free market policies, many of them quite extreme, regarding our most basic needs of money to live on and food to eat have failed. (Government oversight of these free market policies failed as well.)

Let’s hope that Senator Obama, if elected, and the newly strengthened Democratic Congress can make again the case for government’s—and by extension the average person’s— role in our economy and society. It’s clear that the old order has abdicated. For the moment at least. Now is the time for policies that favor people over greed in both the United States and the rest of the world.

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Maybe Obama Does Not Discuss World Food Price Crisis Because Of Ties To Ethanol Industry

One reason food costs have risen around the world is the use of corn as an alternative fuel.

We put that stuff in our big trucks and SUV’s.

Meanwhile, people across the world can’t afford food.

This BBC story details the impact of biofuels in the cost of food.

I’ve been waiting for Barack Obama to discuss this issue on the campaign trail.

Doing so would show some global leadership beyond just discussing terrorists and Israel, Iran and Iraq.     

The New York Times reported a few days back that Senator Obama has extensive ties to the ethanol industry.

Mr. Obama supports ongoing subsidies to farmers and big agriculture for corn that goes to biofuels.

I suppose corn is an important thing to a Senator from Illinois who needed support from voters in Iowa as a candidate for President. 

But what about corn people in the world need for food?

I’m all for Senator Obama.

At the same time, I’m taking him at his word on this change deal he talks about.

I don’t need Mr. Obama to be perfect. But supporting misguided policies causing poor people to suffer is not the program. 

I’m looking for at least the beginnings of the truth from our leaders on climate change and our prospects as a nation in the global economy. I’m looking for a reason to still believe in our political system in any meaningful way.

Throwing poor folks under the bus–or under the tractor in this case–so we can fill our tanks is not a great start by Senator Obama. 

June 30, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Neither Party Asks Anything Of The American People

We’ve heard for a long time about the refusal of Republicans to ask Americans to sacrifice anything for the Iraq War.

It is clear that it only soldiers and their families—plus the contractors who die “off the books“— are being asked to offer anything to our “war effort.”

On the other side however, we could ask when will Democrats ask Americans to conserve energy and scale back in this time of rising fuel prices?

We are living unsustainable lifestyles. Other nations are having big problems with food prices because of our demand for ethanol.

The simple argument would be that the parties are afraid to risk votes by asking anything of the people.

I wonder if our leaders don’t care what people are doing because they don’t see any viable middle class future for our nation. Let the people do as they want as power and wealth gravitates to the few.

The refusal of either party to ask anything for any sacrifice is as large an insult as can be imagined. It conveys that the people have nothing of value to offer except reflexive patriotism and tax dollars.

June 9, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , | 2 Comments

Global Poor Keep Taking Hits—Clinton & Obama Silent About It As Always

The BBC reports that damage to the environment will harm living standards for the world’s poor

From the article–

Damage to forests, rivers, marine life and other aspects of nature could halve living standards for the world’s poor, a major report has concluded. Current rates of natural decline might reduce global GDP by about 7% by 2050.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) review is modelled on the Stern Review of climate change. It will be released at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Bonn, where 60 leaders have pledged to halt deforestation by 2020.

“You come up with answers like 6% or 8% of global GDP when you think about the benefits of intact ecosystems, for example in controlling water, controlling floods and droughts, the flow of nutrients from forest to field,” said the project’s leader Pavan Sukhdev.

“But then you realise that the major beneficiaries [of nature] are the billion and a half of the world’s poor; these natural systems account for as much as 40%-50% of what we define as the ‘GDP of the poor’,” he told BBC News.

In our interconnected world, issues such as this should be part of the political discussion.

Why have Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton been silent on the world food crisis that has impacted millions of people across the world?  

As a rich and powerful nation, we have obligations to others beyond our borders.

June 2, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 2 Comments

Democratic National Committee Leaves Black Bloggers Off Convention List

There’s been discussion in the relatively narrow world of political blogging, about the absence of Black-run blogs from the Democratic National Committee’s list of accredited blogs for the Democratic convention in Denver.

One blog was selected from each state. In most cases, though not all, selected blogs were those with high traffic, a specific focus on state and local political issues, and an established Democratic Party partisanship.  

This left a pool of mostly white bloggers. 

Yet many Democratic voters are Black.

As are many bloggers—And this includes many with strong traffic.

Burnt Orange Report will be the Texas blog in Denver. All right—They’ll do a good job I’m sure.

Here is the full Denver blogger list.

Houston’s There…Already wrote about this issue in a recent post.   

The Francis L. Holland Blog is leading the way in posting abut this concern.  ( I’ve got Francis on my blogroll. I think he needs to integrate his blogroll and give me a listing.)

The Dallas Morning News wrote an article on the subject. 

The blog Dallas South discussed the topic.

Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis posted from the perspective of being one of the selected blogs. This woman is a good person seemingly doing her best.

For my part, if I were selected for credentials by a major political party, I’d feel that I had lost my way. 

When I started blogging, it never occurred to me that blogs had “official” relationships with the parties. I suppose that’s because I never read any blogs before I started one. I figured blogging was an organic inclusive process. ( You can see I gave it little thought.)  

If someone slipped up and gave me credentials to the convention, I’d blog about how Black folks and many other folks in cities vote Democratic every election, and still our cities get worse. I’d ask why urban policy does not seem to exist as an issue for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Then I’d ask why neither Senator Obama or Senator Clinton has made the world food price crisis an issue. I’m sorry it costs $4 a gallon to fill up your SUV, but many people in the world can’t afford a bowl of rice. I support the party of the left because I feel that all people matter no matter where they live.  

But that’s just me.

At the same time, I’d advocate for the nominee of the Democratic Party in my posts.

That’s the trap. I’m not going to be voting for a Republican. 

To get the illusion of being listened to, it seems I need to be a working-class white voter in Pennsylvania who can’t fully face the idea of a Black president.  

I’m white and I work, so I guess I’m half way there.

The majority opinon I’ve read explaining the absence of Black bloggers from the convention list is a flawed process and/or some level of neglect.

That’s worse than purposeful exclusion. It speaks to an ingrained pattern of taking people for granted. Inclusion is a habit.

The good thing is that it’s a habit that can be picked up at any point.

Here’s hoping the Democratic National Committee gets with the program. It was a given that the selection criteria used was not going to pick a list of bloggers representative of the many different people who vote for Democrats.   

( This is cross-posted at the Houston Chronicle where I’m one of eight featured political reader-bloggers.)  

( Please click here for my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list. It is first-rate.

May 23, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Houston Astros Mark World Food Crisis With All You Can Eat Thursdays

The Houston Astros baseball team has introduced all you can eat Thursdays.

On Thursday home games you can pay $35 and, in addition to a seat, get unlimited hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, soda and water.

Maybe this is being done in response to concern by the team that the rise in gas prices will hurt attendance this year.

Another option the Astros could consider is allowing fans to bring their own food in the stadium. This would lower the cost of going to a game. Other teams allow outside food.

In any case, this new offer is disgusting.

And meanwhile, much of the world is being impacted by increases in the price of food.

I’m not suggesting we poison the world with stadium food. Or that a person eating a meal of four hot dogs and three trays of nachos is denying a hungry person in Cameroon a meal of hot dogs and nachos.    

But what if the Astros donated $1 from each ticket on All You Can Eat Day to world food relief efforts? 

This would at least acknowledge that some people don’t have access to things like All You Can Eat Thursdays.

Above you see a picture of the world’s longest hot dog. Maybe instead of many hot dogs, All You Can Eat customers could be served a four or five foot long hot dog.   

Below is a picture of Zam Zam Cola. This brand is produced in Canada and is popular in Iran and in parts of the Arab world. I will have a Zam Zam with my five foot hot dog.    

May 14, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Texas | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Democratic National Committee Forgets That All People Have Equal Value

A new ad produced by the Democratic National Committee rightly criticizes Senator John McCain for his support of endless war.

You can see the ad by clicking here.

However, the commercial misses the mark in an important regard.

A graphic in the spot references “Over 4000 dead.”

Just over 4000 U.S. troops have died in the war.

What’s left out is the number of Iraqi civilians who have been killed. 

Iraq Body Count suggests that number is over 85,000.

Without forgetting that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, it’s clear that the number of innocent Iraqis who have died is high.

Every life has equal value. One person does not have more value than another person because of where they were born or where they live. 

This is a value that should be reflected by our party of the left.

This unwillingness to give equal value to all persons is consistent with the lack of conversation by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama about the ongoing world food crisis.    

May 8, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Burma Cyclone & Links To Burmese Bloggers

Cyclone Nargis has killed at least 22,000 people in Burma. There is fear the death toll will reach 50,000.

5/9/08–The death toll is rising and aid efforts have been resisted by the Burmese government.

5/12/08—United Nations frustrated by relief obstacles and death toll climbs up.  

The country is also known as Myanmar.

(The photo is from the Agence French Presse.) 

A cyclone is the same as a hurricane. Here are many cyclone questions and answers.

The storm did the greatest damage in the Irrawaddy Delta area of Burma. Here is extensive information on that region. It is one of the most highly populated areas of Burma. 

The capital, Rangoon, has received extensive damage.

Here is video of the destruction

The Times of London writes about an added crisis from the storm

The features that made the stricken area vulnerable to this disaster — its low-lying geography and proximity to water — also made it Burma’s rice bowl. The cyclone has undoubtedly wrought terrible damage on the country’s agriculture. World rice prices are at a record high already, provoking food riots in more than 30 countries. Burma is a net exporter of rice, and the destruction of crops in the Irrawaddy delta will only add to upward pressure on international prices. The country may be unable to keep its promise to sell rice to other needy countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

There is concern the repressive goverment of Burma will obstruct foriegn-based relief efforts.

This BBC article discusses what aid workers in Burma will be looking for and trying to accomplish.

Here are three Burmese bloggers on the cyclone and the repression in Burma.  

Here is Burmese Bloggers Without Borders.

Here is Burma Digest.

Here is ko hitke’s prosaic collection.

This Saturday, a so-called referendum is planned by the government to help cement their dictatorial rule.

Hopefully this vote will be canceled and the cyclone will help open Burmese society. The Chinese government could help by pressuring its Burmese allies to move towards freedom.

Here is the most recent Reporters Without Borders update on Burma

Here are some basic facts and recent history of Burma.

Below is a BBC map of the path of the storm.  

Burma map 

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

World Food Crisis Is Ongoing

There is a world food shortage due to high prices.

Yet the companies that supply food are making record profits.  

This Wall Street Journal story discusses high profits among companies that process grain

Here is a series of BBC stories and videos about rising world food prices.

Prices of rice, corn, wheat, soy and grain are way up over recent years. 

This issue has not been addressed in any meaningful way by either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Here is a link to the United Nations World Food Program.

Below is a portion of a BBC report on the issue—

A silent tsunami which knows no borders sweeping the world”. That is how the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) summed up the global food shortages. It is certainly a storm that has hit with little warning and has plunged an extra 100 million people into poverty. The crisis has triggered riots in Haiti, Cameroon, Indonesia and Egypt and is deemed a dangerous threat to stability. It is not so much famine that is the worry, it is widespread misery and malnutrition. The WFP’s biggest concern is for the people living on 50 cents a day who have nothing to fall back on.

This ongoing issue merits the attention of our political leaders and of all citizens.

May 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment