#ScrewedNews

News You May Have Missed - October 2018

WOMEN+

John Tully for The New York Times

John Tully for The New York Times

Women Don’t Think Alike. Why Do We Think They Do?
But women don’t automatically ally with other women, as Senator Susan Collins’s vote to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court demonstrated. Sisterhood doesn’t override partisanship or deeply held moral views. Victims of sexual harassment didn’t all believe Christine Blasey Ford. Women don’t act as one.”

Meteorologist wore her 1-year-old baby on her back during live Weathercast
This one is fun! A mom made international news after wearing her baby to work in support of International Babywearing Week 2018. Employers, take note!

Black Female Lawmaker in Vermont Resigns After Racial Harassment
Kia Morris served as the Bennington Representative to the Vermont Vermont House of Representatives. In August 2018, she ended her re-election bid because of “what she described as a years long campaign of racially motivated harassment and threats”.

Economy+

Putting the family in economics
An academic read from Canada about the growing field of Family Economics.
”Family economics explores how families juggle financial and time trade-offs, and how their choices lead to outcomes related to such things as fertility, work, migration, raising children, spending government grants, and the health and welfare of subsequent generations.”

It's time to speak about the economic cost of sexual assault
I recently did a straw poll of the women in my life and realized that I know more survivors of sexual assault than I do mothers…” If that doesn’t make you want to read this article, we’re not sure what will.

Homelessness in New York Public Schools Is at a Record High: 114,659 Students
New York City has one of the highest populations of homeless students in the United States. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 students in New York will sleep at shelters or at the home of a friend of relative because they are homeless.

You, Me & the Babbitt of Our Time

Waging the economy as war brings externalities more awful than any profits. We can wage life! It doesn’t have to be this way.

Waging the economy as war brings externalities more awful than any profits. We can wage life! It doesn’t have to be this way.

Sometimes events mirror a nation’s character so clearly it is hard to look closer. Repulsion happened last week when a journalist went through a government door to get his marriage license. His fiancé waited outside, but he never reappeared.  We heard about the horrors inside because Mr. Koshoggi wrote for The Washington Post, not for a paper in his native Saudi Arabia.

More repulsive and revealing than the still open question of the Saudi Prince ordering his critic’s slaughter is our own government’s fake sympathy, held up in an ugly reflection. In the 1920s Sinclair Lewis wrote in cold satire about America’s Babbitt, an ad salesman who justified the soul’s sellout. Now Babbitt is resurrected in Mr. Trump, our  Salesman-in-Chief, who says:  We’d only “punish ourselves” if we interfered with the many US jobs that $110 billion in weapons manufacture for the Prince would create.

As with most things our Babbit says, there’s some question about the size of that sales number —but there’s no denying that “we the people” have long won jobs that lost other people their lives. No other country comes as close to depending on guns for its livelihood as we do. In his first proposed budget, Mr. Trump cut domestic spending, but he increased the military budget by 10 percent, points out Louis Uchitelle in a 2017 report in the NYT. Much of the capital that backs our manufacturing jobs comes from our public funds, he reminds us.

First, cities and states pour public money into tax breaks and other enticements to bring a factory in. Yet for every nine auto-fenders (or other non-lethals like shoes, clothing, or furniture), our factories put out one rifle barreI. It isn’t just the National Rifle Association’s corruption that makes weapons so profitable. About 10 percent of our manufactured products go to our Dept. of Defense, its purchases a dependable cash cow for corporations.

 The military industrial complex that President Eisenhower first warned us about continues to be “good for the economy,” depending on how you define good. Since the Cold War, the US outstripped other countries with our weapons exports and sales amounts, selling to 100 different countries. It’s no coincidence that top weapons’ exporters, the US, Russia, China, France and Germany are all “permanent members” of the most powerful group in the United Nations: the UN Security Council. As such, the US and they have veto powers over other rotating national members—and also a damning conflict of interest.

 

Ten Countries export 90 percent of global weapons sales, according to SIPRI, and its latest study find heavy weaons systems sales at their highest level since the Cold War in 1991. The five countries who dominate the UN Security Council sell 74 percent, but the US leads all.

Ten Countries export 90 percent of global weapons sales, according to SIPRI, and its latest study find heavy weaons systems sales at their highest level since the Cold War in 1991. The five countries who dominate the UN Security Council sell 74 percent, but the US leads all.

In the chart above, based on the latest report from SIPRI (The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), the five biggest exporter nations account for 74 percent of sales—but none comes close to the US. The five biggest weapons manufacturers are based in the US, says Business Insider, listing them in order: Lockheed Martin Corporation, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.

Another report from Irina Ivanova with CBSN’s Moneywatch says our nation sold a total of $55.6 billion of weapons worldwide in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 — up 33 percent from the previous fiscal year, and a near record. Who is our biggest customer? Who else but the Saudis?  In 2017, the U.S. cleared some $18 billion in new Saudi arms deals. Like our Babbitt, the Princes of the world use the press for glossy ads, but murder truth. 

What's Her Problem?

Getting mad does more good than getting depressed or feeling helpless.

Getting mad does more good than getting depressed or feeling helpless.

Here’s another timely book. Add it to your list. Righteous tenacity is needed, and it requires our being Good and Mad, the title of Rebecca Traister’s just released book, subtitled The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. Rebecca had a conversation with Amanda Marcotte, who writes for Salon, though I saw this in Reader Supported News. Traister took on Orrin Hatch, the Republican Senator from Utah, who when women shouted at him as he got on the elevator, after the Kavanaugh vote, he brushed them away with a wave.

“Grow up,” he said—and I personally felt like grabbing him in a headlock, and taking him down, all the way to the basement.

For Traister his most infuriating phrase was: “We shouldn’t have to put up with this.”

He said this to fellow Senators when a woman who demonstrated at the Affordable Care Act vote, shouted that she would die if they canceled the ACA. He called her a loudmouth. He preferred she die quietly.

Traister observed, “Now, he said the exact same thing three weeks later talking to reporters in the senate building about these accusations being made against his Supreme Court candidate, and he said, ‘We shouldn't have to put up with this.’ That sums it up for me.”

That's it. That's stripped of its window dressing. We, the men in power. Me, Orrin Hatch — who has had the same goddamn seat on the Senate Judiciary committee since 1991 when I treated Anita Hill like shit — we shouldn't have to put up with challenges to our power. We shouldn’t have to put up with repercussions. We shouldn't have to put up with consequences, or with anybody interfering with our ability to exert authority over this nation.”

That mindset runs loose now, unchecked in three houses of government: Power should come easily to those entitled to power. That was the message.

Power belongs not to the sick and the scared, not to the traumatized, not to the female in any shape—by any name, in any condition but bent over, or on her back. No, LOCK HER UP—whether Hillary or Diane as in Feinstein, or Christine Ford, or Anita Hill, or ….Wait!

Lorena Bobbit?!! Put down that knife! What are you doing here? Don’t look at her face, John Wayne! Those snakes! Holy Medusa!

Women Collaborate While Power Colludes

“For as long as I can remember I’ve felt compelled to be of service to my community. It is a lifetime commitment rooted in a family tradition of public service. As I’ve watched the problems caused by a lack of effective, honest government grow,  I’ve decided to be part of the solution and I am now running for the Michigan State Senate.” (www.rosemarybayer.com)

“For as long as I can remember I’ve felt compelled to be of service to my community. It is a lifetime commitment rooted in a family tradition of public service. As I’ve watched the problems caused by a lack of effective, honest government grow, I’ve decided to be part of the solution and I am now running for the Michigan State Senate.” (www.rosemarybayer.com)

Mid-week THIS week, I could use some good news, couldn’t you? Assume the worst for those Republican Senators on the US Judiciary Committee, who refuse the usual protocol when an allegation against any judicial nomination raises its ugly head.  Let them pretend to be fair, in an even worse way than Senators pretended to be fair about Anita Hill 27 years ago. That time, they at least investigated.

American women (and the men who love us) will see the testimony, and hear the questions set against the background of the Georgetown Prep School yearbook, and they will vote in November, and increasingly they will run for office and win elections.

How do I know that? Michigan, the home state I write about in Screwnomics, played a pivotal role in 2016. But now a record number of women from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds have won primaries in state and national elections there—and promise to be community-minded problem-solvers.

Rashida Tlaib speaks to staff, supporters and the press after the Associated Press called Tlaib's race in her favor at one of Tlaib's field offices in Northwest Detroit on Aug. 7, 2018.   (Photo: Cameron Pollack, Detroit Free Press)

Rashida Tlaib speaks to staff, supporters and the press after the Associated Press called Tlaib's race in her favor at one of Tlaib's field offices in Northwest Detroit on Aug. 7, 2018. (Photo: Cameron Pollack, Detroit Free Press)

Kathleen Gray at The Detroit Free Press writes a long article about the phenomenon, because only a long article would cover it all. Shannon Garrett of Holland, who co-founded VoteRunLead, is training women to run for office—172 of them from Michigan.  She says: “The reason we’re at this point in politics is because we’ve had the same people serving in political seats since the dawn of democracy, and that’s mostly white men. And the politics has become less about policy and more about power.”

Candidates from diverse genders, race, and income level promise better problem-solving, Garrett says, “Because if you have the same group of people looking at the problem, they’re going to come up with the same ways of solving these problems.”

Ms. Garrett is much nicer than I am, so I am going to point out that “the same group of people,” is not just mostly white males, but also mostly rich white males. Forty-percent of Congressional members are millionaires. Those who aren’t, depend on funds from “the donor class,” who are their billionaire friends, operating a profitable elections industry.

Maybe it’s a co-incidence, but I’ve noticed Congressional health insurance and retirement benefits are outrageously better than yours and mine. Michigan state Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), who could be in line to become Michigan’s first female Speaker of the House, told The Detroit Free Press: “When we have more balance in gender, we have better and more ways to communicate. And in general, you hear about women being really strong at collaboration….”

We surely could use some productive collaboration to counter the fakery of collusion, pretending fairness to protect an unchecked power.

—Rickey Gard Diamond

FYI:  (Rosemary Bayer, whom I’ve never met, is the cousin of my son-in-law, who sent me news of her surprise Senate race. He’s very proud of her!)

Another Woman Lifts the Curtain on Big Money Wizards

Slate DemocracyChains collage.jpg

I just finished reading Democracy in Chains by historian Nancy MacLean, a book colored, she says, by a transformation of politics in North Carolina, where she teaches at Duke University. MacLean discovered an abandoned trove of documents on school vouchers, belonging to a little known economist named James McGill Buchanan. Promoting theories he misleadingly named “public choice,” Buchanan first rose to prominence at the Univ. of Virginia, while actually working for minority rule by the wealthy. He also eventually won the “almost-Nobel prize” in Economics that I expose in my book, Screwnomics.

I write about a similar mean-spirited change in my home state of Michigan, and critique prize-winner Milton Friedman’s damage—but had no knowledge of Friedman’s friend, until MacLean’s book. That’s how Buchanan wanted it. He and his colleagues, well funded by wealthy donors like Scaife, Volker, and the Koch brothers, provided economic arguments to oppose the civil rights movement, social security, public schools, Medicare and Medicaid. Eventually he and the Kochs set up influential centers at Virginia’s George Mason University, closer to Washington D.C.

All along the way, Buchanan’s autocratic moves trumped academic freedom. MacLean doesn’t note the hyper-masculinity of their true-believer culture, but it surely was male-dominated by male dominators. Backed by big male money, Buchanan’s rationales transformed law schools and state legislatures, favoring the corporate elite, not us less powerful plebes. In their new orthodoxy, only personal responsibility of the so-called “makers” counted—and income taxes or Medicare or Social Security taxes that sensibly redistributed wealth was robbery of the rich.

Interestingly, Buchanan and his tribe knew they needed to cloak their real intents, and did so, using code to avoid extremist and racist terms. They considered women a problem. Why? Women, who’d only won the vote in 1920, and who largely remain less wealthy, were more readily open to governmental “collective action,” they said, or democracy in action.

That’s to be celebrated. We can be glad that females can now go to school, a relatively new phenomenon, and still far from universal.  (The University of Virginia accepted its first black male student in 1955—but did not admit women until 1970.) Together with two other courageous women’s books, Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine and Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains pulls back the curtain on a fake money wizardry that has not only impoverished our US Treasury, but threatens to bankrupt our American ideals.

wizard.jpg

The Kochs and their billionaire network are not the first to aspire to a kingdom—but corruption like theirs never ends well. A sizeable number of American men have been so seduced by an ideology with chest-pounding Alpha baboon traits, that perhaps only American women can awaken a larger, more essential context of mutual exchanges—ones more productive, humane, and sustainable than constant male battles for dominance.

 

A Drop of Water Explains Our $ Universe

drops-of-water.jpeg

Water: no other element is as necessary for sustaining life. And no other necessity so brings into focus the overreach of private corporate wealth, picking our nation’s public pockets. How so? Guess which city in Michigan, the Great Lakes state surrounded by fresh water, still has schools with dangerous levels of lead in its water, PLUS the highest water bills of any of 500 in the nation?

Flint. Yes, that Flint. $910 annually for all the lead you can drink. (Although when I was at Totem Books in Flint, people there said, no! That was on the low side!)

Now guess which state just handed over 576,,000 gallons of water per day to Nestle Corporation for free, so they could pump the state’s groundwater Great Lakes Basin for private profit, despite overwhelming input from citizens protesting the piracy— 80,945 against, to 76 in favor?  Michigan!  

Flint's Michigan water first got national attention in 2014, thanks to Mona Hannah-Attisha, a young pediatrician who noticed the dangerous levels of lead in children’s blood. She undertook blood test surveys on her own, when the Michigan government failed to respond, instead covering up their crimes. Gov. Rick Snyder had earlier indulged sweeping powers given him by the Michigan legislature, to override the city’s elected representatives by means of a fiscal manager. Synder's appointee made the change in water source, despite the city council’s protests, that not only poisoned kids, but ruined Flint’s plumbing systems. 

In other words, the state's regime declared that bucks will trump democracy. Eventually 15 people were criminally charged, including for negligent homicide, but not so, the Governor, who only oversaw the whole fiasco.

The city’s deficit has made for the latest cruel decision—namely shutting off water to those 1000 residents who cannot pay their water bills. Food and Water Watch is calling for water bill forgiveness and new state funds to repair the damage done to the city’s water system.

Now here’s some good news: Maryland is poised to declare that water is an “inalienable right” for its citizens through a Water Taxpayer Protection Act. The city of Baltimore has been fighting the takeover of its public water system by private corporations, having studied the results from cities that took that private route. In every case, the cost of water for citizens went up.

Profits skimmed from the top apparently leaves a scummy ring around your water bill. Essentials like water need to be kept public. 

—Rickey Gard Diamond

NOTE: That a drop of water could explain the universe was something Lucy Larcom wrote, recalling her girlhood at the earliest textile factories. Dr. Mona also writes about water in her memoir, What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance and Hope in an American City.