Thursday, May 16, 2013

Media push for deficit reduction as revenues peak, deficit dives

by Larry Geller

Washington and commercial media still want to cut Social Security and shred the social safety net even though, in the month of April, the federal government reported its highest budget surplus in five years.

The United States posted its biggest monthly budget surplus in five years in April, the Treasury Department said on Friday, adding that revenues are running at a record high so far this year thanks to higher taxes and an improving economy.

[Reuters, April budget surplus is biggest in five years, 5/10/2013]

According to the article, the Treasury reported last month’s surplus as $113 billion, the highest since April 2008. But this surplus is not something new—the surplus in April 2012 was $59 billion.

In other words, as Republicans and President Obama seek to slash funding for programs affecting the most vulnerable, the deficit is diminishing without those draconian austerity measures. In fact, Reuters reports that the deficit decreased 32% from the corresponding period last year. The same article reports that tax revenues, $1.6 trillion this year, are a record 16 percent higher than last year.

This is precisely the time when government should be investing in job growth, not “sequestration” and other severe austerity measures that will take wages and money out of the economy. Investing in job growth now should yield even higher revenues in the future and further reduction in deficits.

Conservatives and the conservative news media haven’t noticed this, however, and have maintained a drumbeat for austerity. “Sequestration,” which was supposed to be so bad that it would never happen, fits their program perfectly. If Obama offers additional cuts, including reductions in social benefit programs that have nothing to do with the deficit in the first place, the combined effect would push towards recession and increased deficits, not deficit reduction.

But then, when conservative media talk about deficit reduction, what do they really mean? Romney got caught explaining his thinking in a smartphone video, so we should not be surprised to learn that the agenda hasn’t changed, just the words used to further it. The argument de jour is deficit reduction, but the menu hasn’t really changed in a decade at least.

"While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Video—The Labor Movement In Hawai`i: Then And Now (July 1, 2000)

by Larry Geller

Scott Foster of Hawaii Advocates for Consumer Rights has released a video of the late legendary Hawaii labor leader Ah Quon McElrath addressing a meeting of Kokua Council in the year 2000. This is a must-see, especially if you knew AQ. For me, it was like a time machine.

There’s more information below from Scott’s statement accompanying the release.

Click on the thingy at the lower right for full screen.


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported  Producer: Scott Foster & Associates

Link to downloadable video files:

Scott Foster’s statement:


Hawai`i labor history video by Ah Quon McElrath now archived on line

After more than a decade, a particularly interesting 50-minute video of the legendary Hawai`i labor leader,  Ah Quon "A.Q" McElrath has been located. Scott Foster, the Communications Director for Hawai`i Advocates For Consumer Rights said, "While looking through the literally hundreds of old VCR tapes of programs I've produced in Hawai`i through the years, I found this priceless tape of A.Q. I had simply forgotten about it. Union member or not, those who had the good fortune to know and be mentored by her will rejoice seeing this video, now digitized and archived on line for all time." 

The Labor Movement in Hawai`i; Then and Now

Beginning with the coming of Captain Cook in 1778

The social and economic impacts of unions in Hawai`i

This historic program was presented at a special July, 2000, Kokua Council of Seniors luncheon. The Kokua Council is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in Hawai`i -- with a proud history of advocating for significant social-justice issues affecting kupuna, kamali`i and their families. The original event and this video production were sponsored by Scott Foster & Associates and Hawai`i Advocates For Consumer Rights. The original raw video was shot by Jeff Garland of Digitaleye Hawaii.



At the time of her death at 92 in December of 2008, much was written about Ah Quon McElrath. The Honolulu Advertiser article, "Labor Champion Dies: She taught us to take risks, take care of others" reads:

"Ah Quon McElrath, who helped shape the history of labor and social justice in Hawai'i, died Thursday at Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center. She was 92. The diminutive McElrath - known to most as simply "AQ" - helped organize the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Hawai'i in the 1930s, and dedicated her life to community service, education and improving the welfare of the working class and poor.

'She was a lifelong champion of the underdog and an eloquent, irrepressible and forceful spokesperson for labor, human rights and progressive causes,' said Bill Puette, director of University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu's Center for Labor Education & Research.

'She never hesitated to challenge the male-dominated leadership of the unions and force them to look beyond salary issues and to go after standard-of-living improvements like occupational safety, ethnic equality, healthcare and education.'
ILWU International President Robert McElrath yesterday called her death 'a loss to workers everywhere. AQ was part of the early generation of ILWU leaders who fought hard for working families on the docks, in the fields, in factories and hotels,' he said in a statement.

ILWU Local 142 President Fred Galdones described McElrath as 'the conscience of the ILWU and our moral compass.'"