Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Summers: 'Excess of fear' must be broken

This is interesting coming from a man appointed by Obama who is so respected by Alan Greenspan; the two of whom are most responsible for letting this crisis get out of hand.

As if there has ever been a time under capitalism where "excess greed" has not been a factor.

Insatiable greed is the primary motivating under capitalism... in fact, there is no other motivation other than maximizing profits.

And then we have this concluding statement:

"... Obama defended his plans for pulling the economy out of a downward spiral, saying that his long-term view gives him reason to maintain optimism despite an uptick in unemployment and falling economic indicators."

Obama may hold to an optimistic long-term view; but, working people have to live with the problems--- be these problems short-term or long-term--- and Barack Obama and the Democrats are not doing one single thing to alleviate the problems working people are experiencing as so many people face a crisis in everyday living just trying to scrounge to get by as they are forced to live in heat-less foreclosed homes from which they are about to be evicted because they have lost their jobs... unable to gain access to health care unable to afford food as the food shelves in local churches and community centers go bare.

Now here is a comforting thought as you read about Larry Summers talking about our need to be more optimistic about the country's economic future...

Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers and Paul Volker don't seem to eager to talk about their close friendship and working relationship with Bernie Madoff these days in spite of the fact Madoff often advised both of them on how to handle the economy; including the need to remove oversight of the financial markets.

Oh, and it was Paul Volker who first brought Rosie Scenario into the White House... the Reagan White House.

While Obama and his economic advisers maintain that the "excess of fear" must be overcome, working people are experiencing many problems here and now requiring solutions.

Many solutions to these problems are embodied in "The Minnesota People's Bailout" legislation introduced into the Minnesota State Legislature by Senator David Tomassoni which should become a template for a national "People's Bailout."

Apparently, in spite of claims that the people now have a friend, advocate and ally in the White House in the person of Barack Obama... Obama has yet to take up the "People's Bailout."

Is this a case where power will concede nothing without demands?

Working people cannot feed their families on Barack Obama's "optimism" and it doesn't look like Rosie Scenario is apt to be cooking many school lunches.

Here is a little something to think about as Barack Obama continues to feed us the line that with the economy in a mess we will have to wait for real health care reform:

The United States maintains over 800 military bases on foreign soil around the world. This, in and of itself may not be a very interesting figure. After all, we seldom see this figure cited in our local newspapers.

But here is something to think about and discuss around the dinner table with your family---

Wouldn't we be better off with 800 public health care centers spread out across our country?

That would be 16 health care centers per state.

Certainly if the United States can maintain 800 foreign military bases there is no reason why we shouldn't be able to dispense free health care from 800 public health care centers across the country... yes, comprehensive, all-inclusive, publicly financed and publicly administered socialized health care for all.

Establishing 800 health care centers across the United States would bring some real optimism to people by solving our health care mess while creating over four-million real living wage jobs... now that is what I would call turning swords into plow-shares while providing a real peace dividend through an economic stimulus while breaking the back of imperialism... we get health care, the economy gets a big boost and the rest of the world gets relief.

Right now, military madness as reflected by these 800 foreign military bases are torpedoing any chance of economic recovery and any chance we have to solve our problems.

And, if the United States government would take all the wealth away from the rich like Bernie Madoff did, just think of what kind of country we could build.

It seems to me that Larry Summers is focusing on only one aspect of the "fears" Franklin Roosevelt spoke about.

The fear of being unemployed, the fear of being hungry and homeless, the fear of not having access to health care, the fear of being deprived of higher education... these are very real fears that only government organizing society in such a way to solve these problems can overcome.

The "fears" people have are very real and no amount of talking about "optimism" is going to overcome these "fears" unless very specific government actions are taken to solve the problems of working people.

Alan L. Maki

Summers: 'Excess of fear' must be broken


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's top economic adviser said Friday the nation's economic crisis has led to an "excess of fear" among Americans that must be broken to reverse the downturn.

"Fear begets fear," Lawrence Summers, the president's director of the National Economic Council, told a forum.

"It is this transition from an excess of greed to an excess of fear that President Roosevelt had in mind when he famously observed that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself," Summers said. "It is this transition that has happened in the United States today."

Summers spoke amid new signs of a deepening recession. The U.S. trade deficit plunged in January to the lowest level in six years as the economic downturn cut America's demand for imported goods, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The economic adviser, who was treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, said it's still too early to gauge the broad impact of the administration's recovery program.

"But it is modestly encouraging that since it began to take shape, consumer spending in the U.S., which was collapsing during the holiday season, appears, according to a number of indicators, to have stabilized," Summers told the Brookings Institution, a think tank.

Summers was asked by a member of the audience what the nation's business community could do to help speed the recovery.

"What we need today is more optimism and more confidence," Summers said.

"Those who have sound long-term strategy, who have investments that they want to make, who see productive opportunities, are going to find this a very good moment to make those investments," he said. "There are a very large number of things that are on sale today. Think about the cost of doing construction today, versus the cost of doing construction two years ago.

"My advice to business leaders is not to foreshorten the horizon at a moment like this."

On Wall Streets, stocks were down a bit at midday after three straight days of gains.

The government said the U.S. trade imbalance dropped to $36 billion in January, the lowest level since October 2002.

However, while America's deficit with many of its trading partners declined sharply, the politically sensitive shortfall with China bucked the trend, rising by 3.5 percent to $20.6 billion.

U.S. manufacturing companies, battered by what they view as unfair competition from China, said that the continued high deficit with that nation pointed to a need for the Obama administration to take a tougher line on trade rules with the Chinese.

Heads of state from both the United States and China will be among leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and developing nations meeting in London in early April to try to chart a coordinated international approach to taming the global recession.

Summers acknowledged that huge sums are being borrowed by the U.S. government to support recovery efforts. And while things should get better under Obama's programs, things could also get worse "if deflation sets in, if GDP (gross domestic product) collapses further," Summers said.

"If that happens, the magnitude of the federal borrowing, as large as it is, will be dwarfed. It will be far, far larger."

He also said there was a need to dial back the stimulus once the economy is clearly out of the ditch so that the nation "does not exchange a painful recession for another unsustainable expansion."

For crisis spending by the government to continue after the crisis "would be a very risky thing," he said.

He sidestepped a question on what the U.S. economy would look like in 10 years, saying he would follow the advice often given to economists who enter the government: "Name a number or name a date, but never name both."

Summers said he did not believe contentious legislation to make union organizing easier would make the recession worse, as some business groups have argued.

"At this moment, demand is the crucial priority in thinking about employment," Summers said.

He was asked about the so-called card check bill, which would dramatically overhaul labor laws by allowing workers to form unions by simply signing a card or petition, removing an employer's right to demand a secret ballot vote. It also would impose stronger penalties on employers who violate labor laws and allow for arbitration to settle contract disputes.

Business groups oppose the measure, and labor groups consider it their top priority.

Obama is embracing a mantle of "confidence builder in chief." Whether he is meeting with his own economic advisers or worried business leaders, he has sought to be calm and reassuring — even in the face of more bad economic news.

He was also meeting Friday with Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who now guides the president's economic recovery advisory board. Volcker was preparing to brief Obama and his economic team on how the $787 billion stimulus package is working.

Speaking to a gathering of the nation's CEOs on Thursday, Obama defended his plans for pulling the economy out of a downward spiral, saying that his long-term view gives him reason to maintain optimism despite an uptick in unemployment and falling economic indicators.