Tag Archives: Robin Hahnel

Fiscal cliff debate is about political priorities, not economics

By Robin Hahnel, Contributing Columnist

We just had an election which repudiated the Republican economic agenda for America. So what begins the morning after? The only economic subject talked about is “the fiscal cliff” — the Republican economic agenda!

The fiscal cliff is the latest version of the same trap the wealthy, the military industrial complex, and the Republican Party have been setting over and over again since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. The interesting question is why anyone still falls for it.

If the federal government cuts taxes for the wealthy, and if the federal government insists on growing a military industrial complex even after the cold war has ended, then, eventually, there is no alternative in the long run but to either cut federal spending on domestic programs that actually help people and make the economy more productive or to increase taxes on the middle class or to let the national debt continue to grow. That is simple arithmetic. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

It’s going to be a great weekend, the weatherman says, with a 100 percent chance of Street Roots coming to a neighborhood near you. Pick up your copy tomorrow morning and share a sunny smile with your friendly vendor. Here’s what’s rolling on the presses now:

Shocked and reloaded: And interview with ’80s icon Michelle Shocked who returns to the stage in Portland this month, sharing with her style of folk with fans, old and new.

Life after war: Photographer Jim Lommasson’s “Exit Wounds” documents the stories, heartbreak and hopes of American veterans returning home from war. His collection of photographs is coupled with his current speaking tour, and is soon to be the subject of a new book.

Making right from wrong: An interview with Fariborz Pakseresht who takes the helm of the Oregon Youth Authority, overseeing the state’s troubled and incarcerated youths.

Write makes might: Davonna Livingston uses writing to help victims of abuse and trauma not only tell their stories, but take back their lives.

The State of Housing: City Commissioner Nick Fish lays out the nuts and bolts of the state of Portland’s housing agenda.

Plus, new commentaries by Melissa Favara, Robin Hahnel and the Partnership for Safety and Justice. And a look at the cash mob movement in St. Johns. This issue is packed! Thank you, and enjoy a beautiful weekend!

When our allies are not like us

By Robin Hahnel, Contributing Columnist

In the recent fight against Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, avid believers in the right of free speech who view the Internet as an antidote to the corporate-owned media found themselves in an alliance with some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world. Moreover, it was apparent that Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al, provided the critical clout needed to turn the tide of battle and deliver a remarkable victory.

Last year, leftists participating in occupations in hundreds of cities across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street discovered that many expressing themselves in the General Assemblies had, shall we say, less than perfectly politically correct positions on many issues. Some were not die-hard anti-imperialists. Some were not committed anti-racists. Some were not fully feminist. Some were unaware how much the Patriot Act threatens cherished freedoms. Some even exhibited a somewhat hostile attitude toward the labor and environmental movements. Continue reading

Recovery demands a stimulus, not Draconian fiscal austerity

By Robin Hahnel, Contributing Columnist

(This is the second in a series of columns by Robin Hahnel, a politial activist and visiting professor of economics at Portland State University. He is a co-creator of the post-capitalist economic model known as participatory economics, along with Z Magazine editor Michael Albert. He is also  Professor Emeritus at American University in Washington, D.C.)

Just as the European settler economies in North America grew to eclipse the economic power of “Old” Europe during the 20th century, at least some of the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – were already on a trajectory to rise relative to both North America and Europe in economic power during the 21st century. However, a natural process that would have taken five decades or more may now be shortened to only a decade or two as the elites in charge of economic policy in the North Atlantic region seem hell-bent on committing economic suicide.

During the 20th century it was common to distinguish between the “advanced” or “more developed” economies, and the “under” or “lesser developed” economies. Soon it may become commonplace to refer to Europe, the US, and Canada as the formerly advanced economies. What follows is a brief anatomy of econocide being committed by ruling elites in a region which long dominated the global economy but soon no longer will. Continue reading

Are we really 99 percent?

By Robin Hahnel, Contributing Columnist

In a posting on ZNet on Nov. 21 Michael Albert argued that “we” are not really 99 percent. “When occupiers and critics alike say, we love the creative innovation embodied in the 99 percent slogan, I worry. Does saying we are the 99 percent obscure more than it reveals?” Albert went on to argue that if we don’t give “serious attention” to differences among the 99 percent — differences between roughly 19 percent who monopolize empowering tasks, supervise others, and enjoy relatively generous compensation, and the remaining 79 percent who work for much less pay carrying out orders issued by these “coordinators” — the Occupy movement runs the risk of being hijacked by a minority within its ranks.

On the other hand, in his column in the New York Times on Nov. 24 Paul Krugman argued that a careful look at the data reveals that “we” are actually 99.9 percent because it is actually the top 0.1 percent who have appropriated the lion’s share of the productivity gains of all of us over the past thirty years. “We are the 99 percent is a great slogan…. If anything, however, the 99 percent slogan aims too low. A large fraction of the top 1 percent’s gains have actually gone to an even smaller group, the top 0.1 percent.” Continue reading