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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Why did Hillary Clinton bring up the big climate talks failure?

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

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I reacted very negatively to Secretary Clinton’s bizarre debate anecdote about the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, but I couldn’t quite remember all the details, other than my generalized and deep disappointment about the results of those talks at the time. This post filled my memory gap in…

“Hillary Clinton Is Living in a Climate Change Fantasy World” – Slate.com

About midway through the [first 2016 Democratic presidential] debate, Clinton staked her climate record on what’s widely perceived to have been one of the biggest diplomatic failures in recent history — the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. After years of anticipation, the meeting of world leaders ended in disarray, with Obama and his aides famously wandering around the convention center, looking for the leaders of China, India, Brazil, and other key nations. The toothless deal struck at the last minute was called a “grudging accord” by the New York Times the next day. Yes, Obama—and Clinton, then his secretary of state—were instrumental to that deal, but it’s hardly something Hillary should be proud of.

So it was pretty strange to hear her comments on Tuesday night. In her first answer on climate change, Clinton said, “I have been on the forefront of dealing with climate change starting in 2009 when President Obama and I crashed a meeting with the Chinese and got them to sign up to the first international agreement to combat climate change that they’d ever joined.”

In reality, the sour legacy of Copenhagen has haunted international climate negotiations ever since. It’s now widely believed that the U.S. never wanted a legally binding climate deal in Copenhagen at all—even though the Democrats controlled the Congress at the time and may have been able to successfully ratify the treaty—opting instead for a mostly empty pledge of billions of dollars in aid to developing nations. Among environmentalists, Clinton has retained only a mediocre reputation on climate change as a result.

Her Copenhagen comment wasn’t just a poor choice of wording, because she brought it up again later in the debate.
[…]
In her expanded version of the story, Clinton and Obama were roaming Copenhagen “literally … hunting for the Chinese.” Once they found them, she said, “We marched up, broke in, and said, ‘We’ve been looking all over for you. Let’s sit down and come up with what we need to do.’” That all sounds very Jason Bourne, but it’s not a good substitute for effective climate policy.

 

AFD Micron #42

By far the top quality I look for in a potential president is competence, followed, surprisingly distantly, by how much I agree with them. Followed yet more distantly by whether or not I trust them, and eventually by how much I like them. Which is a roundabout way of saying I’m still in Hillary’s soulless, depressing camp.

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Oct 14, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 146

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: How the Reagan Revolution influenced the American Left; the US airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz Afghanistan; Perkins Loans end. People: Bill, Kelley, Nate. Produced: October 11th, 2015.

Episode 146 (54 min):
AFD 146

Discussion Points:

– Generational Politics: How the Reagan Revolution influenced the American Left
– The US blew up a hospital in Afghanistan. What now?
– Why was the Perkins Loan program allowed to expire?

Related Links

AFD: “Getting trapped in Reagan’s ideological framing”
France24: “Aid workers killed in US air strike on Afghan hospital”
AFD by Kelley: “Perkins Loan program expires after 57 year run”

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Getting trapped in Reagan’s ideological framing

Ronald Reagan campaigning with Nancy Reagan in Columbia, South Carolina. Oct 10, 1980. (Credit: Reagan Presidential Library)

Ronald Reagan campaigning with Nancy Reagan in Columbia, South Carolina. Oct 10, 1980. (Credit: Reagan Presidential Library)

“Getting trapped in Reagan’s ideological framing” is a theme you can probably expect me to continue to expand upon soon, but I wanted to quote some key passages from an excellent article from July by economist George R. Tyler (formerly of the U.S. Treasury Department), to help set the stage for my future arguments on this point:

…a host of proposals to address wage stagnation and the ensuing economic malaise of middle- and working-class Americans.

Few quibble with the problem, and a host of constructive solutions have surfaced…

Good ideas all, but they share a common framework provided by Reaganomics in which returns to labor are ultimately dictated by market forces. […]

Government wage subsidies, educational enhancements, daycare and the other economic menu offerings shuffle income from taxpayers and employers to the middle class. Yet […] the salad bar contains no market disruptors, the essential ingredient to restoring middle class prosperity.

The reforms are offered within the conceptual framework provided by Reaganomics that eschews market disruptors.
[…]
American middle-class prosperity is being held hostage by Reaganomics. Only when reforms offered by Democrats move beyond that conceptual framework by linking wages to productivity can its prospects brighten.

 
Various specifics come up in Tyler’s article (and many of his other articles) with regard to wages, of course.

But the bigger picture point here is a good one that many Democrats should do well to take a harder look at: Are we on the left no longer seriously pushing big and transformative ideas because we’re still trapped inside an ideological box (or Overton Window) framed by the rhetoric and views of Ronald Reagan and his legion of devotees now in government?

Even many dedicated progressive policymakers, policy developers, and policy activists are perhaps still too constrained in what they imagine in possible and are reluctant to push back — and to push the American people to see government as possible solution and partner, not as the source of all ills like the Reagan Revolution insisted.

Again, more on this down the line, but I want to get the ball rolling with the quotes above.

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.

Expanding Our Horizons

I’ve been a bit concerned of late that the Democratic Party isn’t offering much of a vision to compete with the Republican misery machine. What little has been offered is just that – little. It doesn’t go big. It doesn’t present principles and then offer big ideas to fulfill those principles. So, here are some ideas:

– Everyone fed. Everyone clothed. Everyone housed. Everyone educated. Everyone healthy or being treated. Everyone employed if they can work.
– A Constitution that allows the people to govern themselves. A Government that lifts up its people and does not oppress them.

These are not radical ideas. These are basic ideas. These are not optional ideas. These are necessary ideas. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. This isn’t just an “economics” platform. This is an equal rights platform.

We have to restore our government and restore our vision if we’re going to have communities and a country that meet our founding promises. We can only accomplish big things if we’re willing to imagine that accomplishing big things is possible – and then try.

The American Dream is a popular rhetorical allusion for politicians, as I explored in my research book. But the American Dream is only possible when our leaders are willing to dream big too – to dream up new ideas to help keep and make the Dream real. Every era in American history when there has been opportunity for an entire generation to advance, big creative policies have led the way.

We need bolder leadership for the post-Soviet age and the Internet-access age than we have had so far, particularly since those turning points are themselves decades old.

I don’t want our vision to be constrained by achievements we made 50 or 80 or 100 years ago. I want us to come up with – and then implement – ideas they’ll be talking about 100 years from now.


“We Can Do Better”
“Big government, for the few or the many?”

Abstract from: “I Accept Your Nomination: American Dream Rhetoric in Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speeches, 1932-2008”