The New Democrat Online

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Foreign Affairs: Opinion: Michael T. Klare: Hard Power, Soft Power & Energy Power

Foreign Affairs: Opinion: Michael T. Klare: Hard Power, Soft Power, and Energy Power

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

I’ve been thinking about this myself, but up until now have never gotten around to blogging about this. But what if in response to Russia invading Ukraine and threatening to cut off Ukraine and Europe from oil and gas that Europe desperately needs, America and Canada and perhaps Mexico stepped in and said, “we’ll give you what Russia has given you to make up for what they cut off and give it to you at cheaper rates. In exchange you continue to enforce current economic sanctions on Russia, as well as impose new ones.”

Russia is already headed for recession this year and if it wasn’t for their energy sector they would already be there. Because they don’t have much else going for their economy other than their energy and military sectors. They have a very education system and produce a lot of well-qualified workers, but who can’t get good jobs because of President Putin’s unwillingness or inability to develop the rest the Russian economy. While we are also helping Ukraine develop their own military and economy and be able to ditch Putin’s Russia.

Whether you’re talking about hard power which tends to be the neoconservative response to foreign crisis’, or soft power which tend tends to be the liberal response and to a certain extent energy power as well, none of them are silver bullets that can stop military conflicts on their own. Unless you not only have overwhelming force and use it and aren’t too concern about the lost of innocent lives as a result. But what I prefer as a Liberal is Smart Power where you put all of your options on the table and use the best of what you have to work with. And not become overly dependent on any one form of response.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sam Seder: Video: Philip Mirowski: How Neoliberalism Survived The Financial Meltdown?

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

To me at least neoliberalism and libertarianism at least when it comes to economics are different things. Economic liberalization where you’re talking about decentralization of the central state and privatizing state-owned industries and companies and empowering people to own property. That is different from saying that the state should simply get-out-of-the-way and just worry about criminals who physically hurt innocent people and steal their property and that sort of thing.

And then move up to the mid and late 1990s economic liberalization has been about empowering people at the bottom and near-bottom and struggling working class to move up and live in economic freedom as well. Through things like education, job training, infrastructure, trade, targeted tax cuts to the struggling middle class and people in poverty. Eliminating unnecessary red tape and that sort of thing.

Today’s so-called ‘Modern Liberals’ who are really the New Socialists, people who aren’t Marxists, but still Socialists because of the amount of involvement they want government to have in the economy hate these policies. Because it means less power for the state and more freedom and choice for the individual. The New Socialist or Social Democrat wants the power to be in the hands of the central government on behalf of the people to be used for everyone’s benefit. Under the theory when we are more collectivist less individualistic, we move better as a society. Than when the people have the freedom to fail or succeed.

Roll Call: Congress: Emma Dumain: New Democrat Coalition Wants Bigger Role in Party's Message

Roll Call: Congress: Emma Dumain: New Democrat Coalition Wants Bigger Role in Party's Message

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

The New Democrats to me at least are the Liberal Democrats in the Democratic Party. There whole message is about growth, opportunity, freedom, responsibility, investment and that government has role in seeing that everyone can achieve these things, but through limited government. And these are the Democrats that represent especially under the current gerrymander political system for how we elect representatives, represent the difference in whether House Democrats are in the majority or the minority. When there’s a large New Democrat Coalition in the House, as well as Blue Dogs, Democrats tend to control the House. Because these two factions come from swing districts in the country.

And to me their message I believe is fairly simple and shouldn’t be wishy-washy muddy middle. And they could use JFK or Bill Clinton and even Barack Obama rhetoric in laying out their message. They should say, “we believe in growth, opportunity, freedom and responsibility, but for all Americans who do their part to achieve those things. That freedom in America shouldn’t be decided based on the income level of your parents and where you grew up. But based on one’s own talents, ability and character and what they produce. That quality education should be for everyone. Not just for people whose parents can afford private schools, or live in areas where there are good public schools. But for everyone with parents being able to decide the best public school for their child. Not the central office.”

And then lay out a real agenda with real concrete proposals.

When it comes to issues like energy that is about all the above American energy resources that uses all of American energy resources including oil and gas in the short-term to move to renewable sources long-term.

Comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders as best as possible. While bringing 10-15 illegal immigrants who aren’t criminals and work hard for a living out of the closet to pay a fine, any back taxes that they may own and to work towards legal status. That brings in well-qualified immigrants from other countries.

Infrastructure investment to rebuild America that is paid for by everyone since we all consume infrastructure. And something like a Nation Infrastructure Bank that brings in private investors to rebuild the country long-term.

Education reform that is about new investment in low-income low-performing school districts. But also investing in good teachers whose students actually learn and encouraging well-qualified adults to become educators, but teach in low-income districts. And public school choice so low-income students can go to good schools. With their parents making those decisions.

An anti-poverty agenda that is actually about moving Americans out of poverty. And not leaving them on public assistance with bigger Welfare checks. But about things like Welfare to Work, where people on Welfare can get the education and job training they need to get a good job and get out of poverty. Job training for low-income workers so they can get themselves a good job and become middle if not high-income workers.

What would really help New Democrats with young voters (such as myself, if I still qualify as young) would be taking strong stances against the War on Drugs. Being in favor of rehab over prison for drug users and addicts. People who successfully complete drug rehab at their own cost wouldn’t have a criminal record. Marijuana decriminalization and legalization for adults twenty-one and over that comes with taxation regulation.

Criminal justice reform where we’re not locking up so many non-violent offenders who don’t need to be incarcerated at all. And those who do we would be better off if they are in rehab or in a halfway house or even county jail doing short-term sentences. And for offenders who need to be in prison offer them opportunities to give up their criminal careers and become productive inmates. With educational and work opportunities so they can become productive citizens when they are out.

The difference between a New Democrat, Liberal really and a centrist is that the New Democrat has real policies based on things that work. The centrist tends to sound all over the place because that is where they are. And have a hard time taking hard stances because they tend to sound like they are talking out of two mouths. Democrats from the Far-Left to the Center-Left tend to believe in similar things. And the debate tends to come down to how big should government be.

New Democrats tend to believe in things that most Americans tend to believe in. Growth, opportunity, freedom and responsibility, but for all and not just the wealthy. That should be the message of New Democrat with an agenda that achieves all of those things. With a limited government, as well as the private sector involved. But where the individual plays the biggest part and does a lot of the work since it is their life. This is what our message should be.

AEI: Blog: Alex Brill: Representative John Delaney's Infrastructure Fund Proposal: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

AEI: Blog: Alex Brill: Representative John Delaney's American Infrastructure Fund: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

One thing that actually has bipartisan support in Congress and in the rest of Washington is the need for infrastructure investment. Except for perhaps Libertarians everybody wants to do it and understands the needs for it and it really is just a matter of how to finance it. Because now need in the trillions of dollars in new infrastructure investment in this country according to the U.S. Core of Engineers. And that number just gets higher and more expensive the longer we wait or simply do nothing because of gridlock.

I like Representative Delaney’s idea of huge new infrastructure investment and we need to go real big and into the trillions in one bill. And do that over a 5-10 year period, because again we are going to have to pay for this upfront and if that means new revenue, you want to stretch that out so you don’t have raise a lot of new revenue real fast. And take a lot of money out of the economy upfront when the economy finally starting to recover fast. You also want to raise the money in a way so more jobs are sent out of the country as a result to avoid paying taxes.

So I don’t like Representative Delaney’s way of paying for infrastructure for a couple of reasons. One, it would send more jobs oversees by raising taxes on business’s. Two, it’s not just business that uses our infrastructure. We all do as a country and because of that we should all pay for it. And pay for it in a way that it doesn’t hurt people especially the less-fortunate in the country. I like the idea of bringing in business to finance these projects. But not through taxation and instead incentivize them to invest in infrastructure projects.

Which is why I’m in favor of what is called a National Infrastructure Bank. Which would be a non-profit independent corporation that would be in the sole business of prioritizing infrastructure projects and deciding what should be built and repaired. And then going to the private sector to get people to invest in the projects that the investors would get back in profits from the people who use the projects. The bridges, roads, airports, schools and everything else.

We should have a two-track plan to rebuild America. One that is upfront and takes care of current and older infrastructure needs. Which could be financed from oil and gas revenues, alcohol, tobacco and hopefully one day soon marijuana taxes. And that could be handled through Congress simply passing a large highway bill that would cover those projects and costs over that 5-7 year period.

And then long-term we need to finance infrastructure as well and that is where the NIB could come in. And could handle anywhere between 100-200 billion-dollars a year in infrastructure in this country. And when was the last time America invested that much money in infrastructure. The 2009 American Recovery and Investment Act, which was emergency legislation to deal with the Great Recession.

NORML: Blog: U.S. Congress: Legislation Introduced To Get The Feds Out of The Marijuana Enforcement Business

NORML: Blog: U.S. Congress: Legislation Introduced To Get The Feds Out Of The Marijuana Enforcement Business

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

Representative Jared Polis has been against the War on Drugs and in favor of marijuana legalization as long as I’ve known of him and I believe he was elected to the House in 2007. And has worked with Ethan Nadelman and other anti-drug war groups in Colorado the state he represents and other places. So Representative Polis is not a Johnny-come-lately to marijuana legalization. Someone trying to seem hip or cool with young voters who are against the drug war and are in favor of marijuana legalization. He has a long consistent record on this.

All Representative Polis and Representative Earl Blumenauer another Democrat, but from Oregon would do, is get the Feds out of the business of criminalizing marijuana. So if another city or state decides to legalize marijuana the people there who choose to get involved in marijuana, adults that is won’t have to worry about the Feds arresting them for that. Even if marijuana is already legal in their state. Thats all I’m asking for really is to get the Feds to butt out and worry about Federal matters and see what the states do on this issue.

What I and Jared Polis are in favor of is exactly what the drug warriors are against both the Neoconservatives and Progressives. Because you get the Feds out-of-the-way and similar to same-sex marriage you’ll see several states move to legalize because not they won’t have to worry about the Feds arresting their people as a result. Because a lot of states especially big states like Texas that have high prison populations are already looking at legalizing or at least decriminalizing marijuana because of the high cost of having so many low-level non-violent offenders in prison. Who don’t represent a security threat to their state.

Foreign Policy Journal: Opinion: Paul Craig Roberts: The Neoconservative Threat to International Order

Foreign Policy Journal: Opinion: Paul Craig Roberts: The Neoconservative Threat to World Order

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

This is going to sound somewhat partisan at least from a Neoconservative’s perspective and if that is the case you’re more than welcome to way in on this and attempt to contradict me. But then I’ll get to Europe where I believe there is a lot of common ground on both the Left and Right when it comes to foreign policy and national security.

The reason why we are dealing with all of these independent terrorists groups now that are free to flow everywhere in Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia is because of the 2003 War in Iraq. ISIS didn’t exist pre-Iraq and yes the War in Afghanistan was something we had to do because the Taliban in Afghanistan were subsidizing and protecting the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11. And even though it has taken a long time thanks to the War in Iraq and Afghan corruption that mission is starting to finally pay off. As that country is finally stabilizing and their economy is finally moving.

The Middle East was a fairly stable area pre-War in Iraq. And as horrible as the Saddam Regime was there and most people including myself are glad he’s no longer running that country and even dead, you didn’t have terrorists in Iraq killing Americans before the war. And you didn’t have terrorists occupying Northern Iraq and Northern Syria. Which would be ISIS today because the central government’s in both countries were strong enough to secure their countries even if they were horrible to their people.

You also didn’t have a jealous Vladimir Putin as President of Russia thinking who needed to make his own power play because of what America was doing to countries that were close to Russia. Part of President Putin’s justification for invading Ukraine has been that he doesn’t believe America should be the sole power in the world that can act unilaterally even in their own interests. The world was a much safer place in 2002 pre-Iraq when our main security threat was Al-Qaeda, a nuclear armed North Korea that still can’t even feed its people. And a potential terrorist state in Iran getting nuclear weapons.

Now where there I believe there is bipartisan agreement, lets look at Europe. Part of the rise of Russia has to do with the fall, or at least steep decline in Europe. Where only Germany as far as a large country in Europe has a healthy economy. But Europe is falling in population and young people and gaining in older people. Because they don’t take in many immigrants each year unlike America and as a result their social democratic economic systems are collapsing. Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Greece all drowning in high debt, and deficits, unemployment. Greece having to take a bailout package that is actually larger than their national economy to stay afloat. And have just elected a new socialist government that’s against austerity.

But if that is not bad enough for Europe, as their populations and economies continue to decline, so does their militaries. Where NATO is essentially just made up of America now as far as real military threat. And to a certain degree Britain, France and Germany to some extent. Europe is more than capable of responding to Russia in any way themselves at least as far as resources, but has chosen not to. Wouldn’t be great to go back to 2002 and far as the security situations for the Western world, but subtract George W. Bush for Al Gore and only be dealing with Afghanistan right now. But we of course can’t go back in time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The American Prospect: Opinion: Robert Kuttner: "The Libertarian Delusion": The Role of Government in a Liberal Democracy

The American Prospect: Opinion: Robert Kuttner: The Libertarian Delusion

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on WordPress

Just to start off about the so-called free market and if we’re going to talk about the free market we might as well talk about Santa Clause since neither one of them exists. As much as Libertarians and so-called Conservatives talk about the free market, that is not what they’re talking about since their market wouldn’t be free. Sure, perhaps from government regulations, but non-regulated market is not a free market. Especially if government is subsidizing that market through taxpayer-funded subsidizes.

The other thing about the so-called free market is that business is just part of it. Government is another part, workers are another part and consumers perhaps the most important part of the market. Because without consumers where would business get the resources to do anything and pay their workers. Where would government get the resources to do, well anything. So when you say the free market should set wages, prices and anything else. Are you saying that government, business, workers and consumers should all come together like a Congressional conference committee and decide what the wages and prices should be? Or are you talking about something else.

When Libertarians or Conservatives talk about the so-called free market they sure as hell aren’t talking about bringing the whole market together do negotiate those key issues. They are talking about getting government out-of-the-way so business’s can make these decisions for themselves. Under their so-called free market there would be no such thing as organized labor or collective bargaining. Because again business would have the power and be free to make all of those decisions themselves. So as long as we’re talking markets free or otherwise let’s be clear and factual about what we are talking about.

So what type of market are we talking about if we’re not talking about a free market? We’re talking about the private market and private enterprise. Which is what produces most of the products that we all consume, pay for and generally enjoy and tend to pay for at affordable rates. And everyone whose to the right of a Marxist meaning the Democratic Socialist all the way over to the Libertarian on the Right believes in some form of a private market. It all depends on what type of private market and how big it should be. How much it should be regulated and how much it should be taxed. With the Democratic Socialist the market would be the smallest and most regulated. With the central government being the dominant player. With the Libertarian the private market would be the biggest and not regulated or taxed at all.

And since we all want a private market, well everyone except for the Marxist, it’s just a question to what degree. And for me as a Liberal I want a huge market with as much freedom and choice and consumers with money to spend as possible. That is regulated and taxed yes, but to protect consumers and workers from predators. And to provide government with the resources that it has to have to provide the services that only it can provide and that it does well. Security, law enforcement, regulations, education, infrastructure, safety net and job training for our low-income low-skilled adults so they can also live in freedom and off of government dependence.

The libertarian idea of the market is basically government go home. Other than protecting the borders and stopping criminals that hurt people. The social democratic idea of the market is that government provides most of the essentials that people need to live well in life. With private enterprise being for things that are more luxury items and things we would use recreationally and transportation. But that the central government provides us with most if not all the essential insurances that we need in life. That people would be free not to take responsibility over their own lives and not to have to make choices. I want an educated society that is protected from predators with everyone having the knowledge to be able to manage their own lives themselves both from an economic and personal perspective.