Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Sunday, October 02, 2011

New Republic: How Did Trickle-Down Get Acceptable?

Sometime while I wasn't paying attention trickle-down economics got respectable.

In 1981, when President Ronald Reagan lowered marginal tax rates, his main purpose was to drop the top rate from 70 percent to 50 percent (and subsequently all the way down to 28 percent; the top rate is currently 35 percent). But it was important not to admit as much, because that would be "trickle-down economics." That was the derisive term Democrats attached to Reaganomics. In 1981 the Atlantic published a profile of the White House budget director, David Stockman, in which Stockman said all kinds of impolitic things. About the most impolitic was his admission that the Reagan tax cuts had been "a Trojan horse to bring down the top tax rate." The article's author, William Greider, could barely contain his delight:

"A Trojan horse? This seemed a cynical concession [italics mine] for Stockman to make in private conversation while the Reagan Administration was still selling the supply-side doctrine to Congress. Yet he was conceding what the liberal Keynesian critics had argued from the outset—the supply-side theory was not a new economic theory at all but only new language and argument to conceal a hoary old Republican doctrine [italics mine]: give the tax cuts to the top brackets, the wealthiest individuals and largest enterprises, and let the good effects 'trickle down' through the economy to reach everyone else. Yes, Stockman conceded, when one stripped away the new rhetoric emphasizing across-the-board cuts, the supply-side theory was really new clothes for the unpopular doctrine of the old Republican orthodoxy [italics mine]. 'It's kind of hard to sell [italics mine] "trickle down,"' he explained, 'so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really "trickle down." Supply-side is "trickle-down" theory.'"

Manitoba Election: Third-World Living Conditions For First Nations Should Be Election Issue Says Grand Chief David Harper

WINNIPEG - One of Manitoba's aboriginal leaders says the lack of clean, running water and the third-world living conditions of Manitoba's First Nations should be a central issue in the provincial election.

Grand Chief David Harper, who represents the province's northern First Nations, said many communities in the northeast have been neglected for years.

"Here we are sitting in northeastern Manitoba and it's in a third world state," he said in a recent interview. "There is a lack of running water, no running water. This coming winter, some kids and elders in that area, will not have any clean drinking water. Yet every flu season, it seems to happen that people are dying."

But as the province prepares to go to the polls Tuesday, very little has been done to woo First Nation voters. Very few political leaders have ventured into predominantly First Nation northern ridings and none have focused heavily on aboriginal policies.

Tories Planning To Bring Back Controversial Anti-Terrorism Measures Without Safeguards

The Conservative government is thinking of permanently bringing back tough anti-terrorism measures that civil libertarians decry, despite the fact Canadian authorities never successfully used the legal tools when they had them, The Huffington Post Canada has learned.

The Tories announced in their campaign platform that they planned to bring back legislation giving law enforcement officials the power to arrest someone without a warrant and force individuals to testify before a judge. Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the CBC earlier this month that, despite being rarely applied, there were times when preventative arrests and investigative hearings were needed to combat terrorism.

The use of preventative arrests, however, has never been reported.

Investigative hearings were almost used once, when authorities tried to compel an unco-operative witness to testify in the Air India case. The evidence was never used and Parliament was never told an investigative hearing took place.

Mandatory reporting was part of the checks and balances the majority Liberals included in the Anti-terrorism Act, which set out the controversial provisions in the wake of 9/11. The measures expired five years later after Parliamentarians reviewed them and the NDP and Liberals voted against reinstating them.

Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales

In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.

“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”

She immediately notified her supervisors in the U.S. A week later, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries dispatched an investigative team to look into her findings, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.

By September of that year, the researchers had found evidence of improper payments to secure contracts in six countries dating back to 2002, authorized by the business director of the company’s Koch-Glitsch affiliate in France.