May 15, 2018 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 225

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Topics: Radical history in Pennsylvania; the Sanders bill to make unionizing easier. People: Bill, Rachel, Nate. Produced: May 13th, 2018.

Episode 225 (52 min):
AFD 225

Related links

AFD Ep. 225 Links and Notes on Pennsylvania Radicalism

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Music by friend of the show Stunt Bird.

Dec 19, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 208

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Topics: Water utility privatization in the United States and beyond; the Sanders-Warren recovery plan for Puerto Rico. People: Bill, Rachel, Nate. Produced: Dec 17th, 2017.

Episode 208 (51 min):
AFD 208

Note: No new episodes until January 9th.

Related links

AFD 208 Articles Discussed (PDF)

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Music by friend of the show Stunt Bird.

Dec 12, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 207

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Half Episode. Topics: Bernie Sanders’ worker ownership bill; the failure of the railgun and other defense spending boondoggles. People: Bill, Rachel, Nate. Produced: Dec 10th, 2017.

Episode 207 (26 min):
AFD 207

Regular episode returns next Tuesday, and then we’ll be off for two weeks.

Related links

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/jeremy-corbyn-unveils-right-own-john-lewis-style-employee-ownership-policy-1581548
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/20/labour-backs-employees-right-own-shares-workplace
https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/congress-bills-bernie-sanders-worker-coops
http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/why-bernie-sanders-is-pushing-for-more-employee-owners-in-the-workforce-20170523
https://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20132/bernie_sanders_urges_workers_to_seize_means_of_production
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-41614820
http://time.com/money/3964733/hillary-clinton-profit-sharing-proposal/
http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/rip-railgun-why-the-us-navys-super-weapon-might-be-dead-23553
https://www.naval-technology.com/comment/railgun-potentially-cancelled-went-wrong-us-superweapon/
http://taskandpurpose.com/navy-electromagnetic-railgun-budget/
http://taskandpurpose.com/navy-electromagnetic-railgun-ship-defense/

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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”
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Music by friend of the show Stunt Bird.

Baseline goals

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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“Bernie Sanders invokes FDR in explaining socialism as ‘foundation of middle class'” – LA Times:

“The next time you hear me attacked as a socialist,” Sanders said, “remember this: I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own means of production. But I do believe the middle class and working class of this country who produce the wealth of this country deserve a decent standard of living, and their incomes should go up and not down.”

 

Should USPS be empowered again to offer banking services?

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

Speaking of underbanked Americans without access to safe, low-cost services for cashing checks and saving money…

Don’t miss “Bernie Sanders’s Highly Sensible Plan to Turn Post Offices Into Banks” – The Atlantic:

…only about 7 percent of the world’s national postal systems don’t offer some bank-like services.
[…]
The reason why this would be so useful in the U.S. is that somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of the population has to rely on check-cashing or payday-lending services, which in some places charge usurious rates that send people into spirals of recurring debt.
[…]
…in 1910, William Howard Taft introduced a postal-savings system for new immigrants and the poor that lasted until 1967.

 
Low-grade localized socialism we can believe in! (And a new revenue stream for our constitutionally mandated postal service.)

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The return of democratic socialism to middle America?

There was a period about a century ago (give or take a couple decades on either side) when democratic socialism was taking root in some of the rural, populist regions of the United States. Government by and for the people was the counterweight to corporate rule.

The fact that we now once again have op-eds in major newspapers in conservative states explaining to people why “socialism” isn’t necessarily an extreme word to be feared suggests a major sea change is afoot:

We often get too hung up over political labels and then reflexively dismiss the person. Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist,” but what he stands for is actually more mainstream than people realize.

He wants to expand Social Security, invest massively to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure, provide Medicare for all, make public college tuition free, break up banks that are too big to fail, and combat climate change, among other things.

If you follow the figures, large percentages of Americans agree with many of these positions.
In his words: “To me, socialism doesn’t mean state ownership of everything, by any means, it means creating a nation, and a world, in which all human beings have a decent standard of living.

“I think (democratic socialism),” he has said “means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship all of our people have health care; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality child care, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That’s all it means.”

 
I’m not saying this means everyone in the American heartland is about to run out and vote socialist (or even for Sanders necessarily) but let’s hope it does signify that the Reagan Revolution cycle in American politics is coming to a close. We need to end the great lie that portrayed government as the enemy, while corporations were supposedly by and for the people against it.

A few thoughts on free public college options for all

There are many ways that the very wealthy already benefit financially from U.S. government policies (which is frustrating to me), but opposing zero-tuition public colleges because rich kids might get to go to public colleges for free seems like a strange position.


What are the odds that Hillary Clinton’s implied scenario of a flood of ultra-wealthy students will suddenly decide to enroll in public universities because the tuition is free now? Won’t they overwhelmingly just continue to go to elite schools where tuition is still charged? (Just like how they tend to go to private school for K-12 even though it is freely available to them in public form.)

And, as a side note about her overall plan (means-testing plus work-study), why should the poorest kids who’ve probably had to struggle the hardest to get to college also then have to work on the side to qualify for tuition coverage under her plan? Why don’t we just make it so everyone, regardless of means, has the right to go to college for free without working in addition to concentrating on their studies — and let the chips fall where they may? Why do we have to make these policies so complicated for no apparent reason? Just offer them to everyone and whoever takes it, takes it. It’s not that expensive.