Amy Goodman interviews author Mark Schapiro

Today’s Democracy Now! features an interview with Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power author Mark Schapiro. The whole interview is well worth the listen/watch.

Two things from the interview stuck out at me.

1) The relationship between universal health care and aptness toward regulation of toxic chemicals/testing for toxicity. (more…)

Published in: on February 24, 2009 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Excellent Bethany McLean interview on PBS’ NOW

On this week’s NOW, host David Brancaccio interviews Bethany McLean (the journalist who broke Enron) about the current financial crisis.  I thought it was a really excellent interview, very clear and detailed, and addresses the complexity of the issues involved.  

Also, her Vanity Fair article on the topic (which I haven’t read yet) can be found here

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Published in: on January 31, 2009 at 2:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Bush, Big 3: Nope, you can’t pin this on the ‘little guy’

Friday Bush announced that some of the TARP funds intended for the financial industry will be used as a temporary lifeline to the Big 3 auto makers, after the Senate failed to pass the auto bailout bill last week.

From The New York Times:

The plan pumps $13.4 billion by mid-January into the companies from the fund that Congress authorized to rescue the financial industry. But the two companies have until March 31 to produce a plan for long-term profitability, including concessions from unions, creditors, suppliers and dealers. (emphasis mine)

The funding is on the condition that the union workers’ wages be reduced to the level of non-unionized workers at foreign auto plants. Now I’ve written this before, but I’m going to say it again: there were no such stipulations given to the financial industry bailout. I’m not opposed to restrictions and conditions, but the white collar/blue collar double standard in juxtaposing the two bailouts is astounding. (more…)

Published in: on December 20, 2008 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Well this just figures

According to Open Secrets, a recent study by the Center for Responsive Politics reveals that many of the same corporations that have come to Washington spent a pretty penny underwriting this year’s Republican and Democratic conventions, just a few short months ago.

Embattled insurance giant American International Group (AIG), which received an $85 billion loan from the government just weeks after the GOP convention, gave $750,000 to each gathering. And AIG isn’t the only high-profile company that sought a handout from taxpayers after writing a big check toward the summer’s political gatherings. Others included Citigroup (which spent a total of $600,000 on the conventions), Goldman Sachs (which spent $505,000), Ford Motor Co. ($100,000 to each convention) and Bank of America (which spent $100,000, entirely on the Democratic convention). The federal government took over Freddie Mac just weeks after the mortgage buyer split half a million dollars between the two conventions.

Even more recently, Citi, the recent recipient of $2o billion in bailout funds, will still be paying $20 million per year for 20 years for naming rights to the new Mets Stadium.  AIG isn’t trimming its sponsorship budget either.

Glad our taxpayer dollars are going to some good use: funding overpriced political proms and naming stadiums that make more rich white guys even richer!

Published in: on December 14, 2008 at 6:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Bailouts and the corporate form

Some things have really been bothering me about the auto bailout talk vis-a-vis the financial sector bailout, and especially the recent Citigroup bailout.  

First, I agree with Rachel Maddow that something seems off when the (white collar) financial sector can get a quick bailout with few strings attached with no blame placed on employees and CEOs compensation structure (or any suggestion that it be revamped to take the federal funds), but in the case of the auto manufacturing sector, the quick blame is placed on the unionized workers, with their outrageous expectation for health care and decent wages.  These worker “demands” are unreasonably passed on to consumers in the form of higher vehicle prices, according to conservatives like Cal Thomas, and that’s the real reason US car manufacturer’s cannot compete. Meanwhile, CEOs still rake in overly inflated incomes, benefits, stock options, and other perks instead of lowering vehicle prices so as to not “pass on” health care costs to the consumer.  Be sure to check out this excellent analysis of the cost-per-employee figures being used to blame union labor.  

Class warfare, indeed.  I don’t mind criticizing compensation structure, but how is unionized labor being blamed for the failure of the auto industry?  What about the auto CEOs?  And finance CEOs compensation is irrelevant to their bailout?  This is akin to blaming welfare to the poor for the economic strain on the middle class, while the average compensation for an S & P 500 CEO in 2007 is projected to have been $14.2 million; in 2006 the average Fortune 500 CEO received $10.8 million, which is 364 times the average worker.  In 2007, the Ford CEO’s total compensation was $21,670,674, and GM’s CEO’s was $14,415,914.  The average of auto worker’s wages (not the pay of the average worker, but the average of workers’ pay) is $20.53/hour, or $42, 702/year–just below the median income.  And it’s the unions’ fault?

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Second, (more…)

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 8:07 pm  Comments (3)