Saturday Catchup: Some stuff you don't want to miss

Labor: Is it possible to join high technology, cost efficiency,  and technological innovation to the coop movement and worker-control?: The Cooperative Movement, Self-Management, And Competitiveness: The Case Of Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa by Alessandra Azevedo and Leda Gitahy (WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society 2010-03-18). This is the outfit the U.S. steelworkers are working with to see if the union co-op hybrid model can be made to work here.

Crime Log: "If we were to take an honest look at America’s blasted landscape of 'losers' and the far shinier, spiffier world of 'winners,' we’d have to admit that it wasn’t signs of onrushing socialism or fascism that stood out, but of staggeringly self-aggrandizing greed and theft right in the here and now. We’d notice our public coffers being emptied to benefit major corporations and financial institutions working in close alliance with, and passing on remarkable sums of money to, the representatives of 'the people.' We’d see, in a word, kleptocracy on a scale to dazzle. We would suddenly see an almost magical disappearing act being performed, largely without comment, right before our eyes." -- American Kleptocracy: How Fears of Socialism and Fascism Hide Naked Theft by William J. Astore (TomDispatch 2010-04-20).

Putting the gross in Gross National Product: Six Banks Control 60% of GNP -- Is the U.S. at the Mercy of an Unstoppable Oligarchy? by Bill Moyers (Bill Moyers Journal 2010-04-23) Economists James Kwak and Simon Johnson wonder whether the financial powers are more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever.

Musical interlude: We've been talking about The National for nearly a decade. Will we still love them now that they have a major takeout (The National Agenda by Nicholas Dawidoff) in the Times' Magazine? Sure we will.

3-Card Monte: "The drumbeat about deficits has reached deafening levels. The president warns about 'out of control' spending. Fed Chair Ben Bernanke calls for bringing deficits down. The opinion pages bristle with rants about the U.S. turning into Greece, headed to default. Next week, the first session of the president's 'National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform' will convene. The next day, shamelessly, the two co-chairs and the staff director (all committed deficit hawks) will grace a forum sponsored by the Peterson Foundation, established by Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson largely to gin up hysteria about America's long term deficits." - The Big Fix (Hold On To Your Wallets) by Robert Borosage (Campaign for America's Future 2010-04-21).

Oh, I get it now: Uses and Abuses of Gresham's Law in the History of Money  by Robert Mundell (Columbia University 1998). The law is trivially easy to understand; so why does everybody get it wrong?

The Long War: Historian, international relations expert and former US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich talks to Bill Moyers about how we got in to Iraq and Afghanistan and why we can't seem to get out (extended video, Bill Moyers Journal 2010-04-09).

The Long War: Rethinking Afghanistan’s Sticky Icky Quagmire by Josh Mull (FDL's The Seminal 2010-04-20). There is definitely a huge drug problem, and our strategy seems to be the cause of it. There are much easier ways to achieve our objectives in the region than an expensive and bloody policy of military aggression, but our leaders are stuck in failed policies born of a worldview that is at once arrogant and ignorant. Time to rethink Afghanistan?

More music: Here's a number from a B.B.King special I worked on a couple of decades back. My friend Douglas Brodoff aptly called this a rock opera in 5 minutes. An honor to have been there.

Collateral damage: "Education catastrophe" as states may cut 300,000 public school jobs by Tamar Lewin and Sam Dillon (New York Times 2010-04-21). The 2010-11 school term is shaping up as one of the most austere in the last half century. In addition to teacher layoffs, districts are planning to close schools, cut programs, enlarge classes and shorten the school day, week or year to save money. See, also: Tax Day and America’s Wars - What the Mayor of One Community Hard Hit by War Spending Is Doing by Jo Comerford (TomDispatch 2010-04-11).

Democracy in the Middle East: In spite of America's professed commitment to equality, the U.S. government makes an exception when it comes to Israel's insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state, which in theory and practice means privileging Jewish citizens over all other citizens: A State for All Its Citizens by Nadim N. Rouhana (Foreign Policy 2010-04-22). A country cannot be both democratic and theocratic.

Hubris: "We can't have it all. The belief that we can is one of the things that has driven us to this awful place. If insanity could be defined as having lost functional connection with physical reality, to believe we can have it all -- to believe we can simultaneously dismantle a world and live on it; to believe we can perpetually use more energy than arrives from the sun; to believe we can take more than the world gives willingly; to believe a finite world can support infinite growth,much less infinite economic growth, where economic growth consists of converting ever larger numbers of living beings to dead objects (industrial production, at core, is the conversion of the living -- trees or mountains -- into the dead -- two-by-fours and beer cans) -- is grotesquely insane. This insanity manifests partly as a potent disrespect for limits and for justice. It manifests in the pretension that neither limits nor justice exist. To pretend that civilization can exist without destroying its own landbase and the landbases and cultures of others is to be entirely ignorant of history, biology, thermodynamics, morality, and self-preservation. And it is to have paid absolutely no attention to the past six thousand years." -- No, We Can't Have It All by Derrick Jensen (excerpted from Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization (Common Dreams 2010-04-23).

Water is the new oil: Cochabamba, the Water Wars and Climate Change by Amy Goodman (TruthDig 2010-04-21). Bolivian President Evo Morales calls Cochabamba the heart of Bolivia. It was here, 10 years ago this month, that, as one observer put it, "the first rebellion of the 21st century" took place. In what was dubbed the Water Wars, people from around Bolivia converged on Cochabamba to overturn the privatization of the public water system.

Art & Design: Running Fence: Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Masterpiece Revisited at the Smithsonian American Art Museum by Alix McKenna (California Literary Review 2010-04-19). Most conceptual art you can "get" in an elevator pitch. The Running Fence was something to see.

Reconsideration: The Teabaggers are not the mob of racist yobs you accuse them of being. And even though Polatik's "CD sales on the Tea Party Express tour didn’t go as I had can expect to see Polatik t-shirts, posters and videos very soon."

Everything else you wanted to know about zombified cockroaches but were afraid to ask: A Wasp Finds the Seat of the Cockroach Soul by Carl Zimmer (Discover blogs / The Loom 2010-04-20).

Department of Guilty Pleasures:

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