american economy

The Reckless Right-Wing War on America

Photo courtesy Liz Van Steenburgh/Shutterstock.com.
The United States Capitol, American Flag and Bald Eagle. Photo courtesy Liz Van Steenburgh/Shutterstock.com.

It is tragic to watch contemptuous right-wingers declaring war on America.

With little heed for consequences on either actual people or the national interest, they declare war on the poor, the hungry, Native Americans, the unemployed, gays and lesbians, immigrants, minority voters, women, military dependents, and public education.

The recent farm bill — which gives public subsidies to agribusiness and denies food stamps to the hungry — is just the latest sortie in a determined decades-long assault on American values.

Immigration and Fiscal Policy

Debating whether immigrants will have a positive or negative effect on the United States’ economy, various political groups are arguing their viewpoints and analyzing a number of fiscal pros and cons that would stem from the passage of the immigration bill. The New York Times reports:

An overhaul of immigration law would reduce the federal deficit. That’s the conclusion of a broad range of studies, from the libertarian Cato Institute to the conservative American Action Forum to the liberal Center for American Progress. Wait, it would really increase the deficit. That’s the analysis of the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Immigration Studies. But hang on a second. Immigrants have little impact on the federal deficit. That’s what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development thinks.

Read more here.

U.S. Unemployment Claims at Highest Level in 6 Weeks

A week after reaching a five-year low, Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose by 32,000. This is the highest level in six weeks. Although the job market has improved in the lat six months, unemployment applications continue to fluctuate each week. The Associated Press reports:

"The underlying story in jobless claims continues to be one of gradual improvement," said Julia Coronado, an economist at BNP Paribas. Coronado said the small rise in applications "highlight(s) the need to take volatile weekly readings with a grain of salt."

Read more here.

The Morning News: Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011

Obama Channels Roosevelt's 'New Nationalism'; Occupy Wall Street: A Generation Of 20-Somethings Airs Its Grievances, Its Frustrations; 19 Killed When Bus Hits Afghanistan Mine; 10 Reasons Why Cutting Poverty Is Good For Our Nation; Occupy The Bible: Why Jesus Is Not A ‘Free-Marketer’ (OPINION); The Progressive Consumption Tax; Occupy Big Business: The Sharing Economy's Quiet Revolution.

Divine Regulation

JESUS STANDS IN his hometown synagogue. He is handed the scroll. He unrolls it, finds Isaiah 61 and reads:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Jesus rolls up the scroll, sits down and says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, you know how Isaiah said one day someone would proclaim these things. Well I just did! It’s on. The year of the Lord’s favor is on!

The Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-55) was the centerpiece of an economic system instituted by God as the Israelites entered the Promised Land. In this system every seven years the Israelites were commanded to observe the Sabbatical year (Leviticus 25:1-7, Deuteronomy 15:1-18). During this year, all debts were forgiven, slaves were set free, and the land was given rest from all sowing and reaping. In this theocratic agrarian society, Sabbatical year was a major regulatory act that imposed a yearlong cycle of rest for workers and the land in addition to the weekly Sabbath, which God instituted through the Ten Commandments. The Sabbatical year also affected merchants’ bottom lines. The cost of labor is a key factor in the ability of business to make a profit. Thus the command to free their slaves every seven years would have a profound effect on the ability of businesses to expand profits beyond modest margins.

The Year of Jubilee came at the end of seven seven-year cycles. In the 50th year, not only would debts be forgiven, slaves freed, and the land given rest, but also all land was returned to its original deed-holders, effectively banning outright the sale of land and only allowing land to be leased for 50 years or less.

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An Open Letter to Occupy Wall Street

You have awakened the sleeping giant, too long dormant but ever present, deep in the American democratic spirit. You have given voice to the unspoken feelings of countless others that something has gone terribly wrong in our society. And you have sparked a flame from the embers of both frustration and hope that have been building, steadily, in the hearts of so many of us for quite some time.

Throughout history, that task, which sometimes means saying and doing what others only think, has often fallen to young people. You have articulated, loudly and clearly, the internal monologue of a nation.

Some of you have told me that you expected only to foment a short-lived protest and that you were as surprised by this “movement” as anyone else. While there are some who may misunderstand your motives and message, know that you are an inspiration to many more.

One of you told me in New York City that you are trying to build something in Liberty Park that you aspire to create for our global village—a more cooperative society. I asked one of the non-leaders who helped lead the first days of the Occupation what most drew him to get involved, and he replied, “I want to have children someday, and this is becoming a world not good for children.” It is precisely those deepest, most authentic feelings and motivations that should preoccupy you.

You are raising very basic questions about an economy that has become increasingly unfair and unsustainable for a growing number of people. Those same questions are being asked by many others—even by some at the top of the economic pecking order. Keep pressing those values questions, because they will move people more than a set of demands or policy suggestions. Those can come later.

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