Thursday, April 14, 2011

The People's Budget, a review by Jeffrey Sachs, with added commentary

image is from here
Economic-political conservatives think the above idea is "terrorism"--but against who is it terrorism? Who is terrified, for real, in reality, if the richest U.S. Americans pay more taxes while remaining the richest people in the U.S. and if we stop our decades-long terroristic and mass-murderous war on Asia?

What we have here, is a failure of the president of the United States to be a moral and a political leader. Not that I have much faith in any president of the U.S. being moral--the country is founded on immorality and perpetrates it as a matter of common, normal practice. Perhaps foolishly, I'd hoped for more from this current president. What this shows is that it is a figurehead position, ruled, in reality, by wealthy Corporate-Christian white het males. That's social-economic-political supremacy of the few against the many. Where have we heard of that before?

On a much deeper level, what we have is an on-going refusal by media, government, corporations, and the public, to engage in meaningful action designed to end economic terrorism in the form of poverty, gross power- and wealth-hoarding, and virulent political dishonesty and corruption among government officials. We don't need military the wars that are currently being funded disproportionately by working (not rich) tax-payers, who are also the population from who become soldiers, for the economic benefits of doing so, if you survive, of course. Women the world over pay the price for the U.S.'s economic policies, which are intimately linked to the U.S. military's terroristic policing and destruction of the world.

Click on the article's title below to link back to the source website, at

What we need is a People's Party that is led by feminist Black, Brown, and Indigenous women.
The current budget negotiations have been a dialogue among the wealthy. The big debate has focused on which programs for the poor should be axed first. There has been no discussion of raising taxes on the rich, and quite the contrary, the White House and the Republican leadership agreed to further tax cuts last December. Obama has repeatedly expressed regret at slashing community development, energy support for the poor, and other programs, but he is not fighting the trend, only regretting it. -- Jeffrey Sachs
Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs

The People's Budget 

Posted: 04/ 8/11 09:52 AM ET

Just when it seemed that all of Washington had lost its values and its connection with the American people, a bolt of hope has arrived. It is the People's Budget put forward by the co-chairs of the 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus. Their plan is humane, responsible, and most of all sensible, reflecting the true values of the American people and the real needs of the floundering economy. Unlike Paul Ryan's almost absurdly vicious attack on the poor and working class, the People's Budget would close the deficit by raising taxes on the rich, taming health care costs (including a public option), and ending the military spending on wars and wasteful weapons systems.

There are now four budget positions on the table. Far to the right is Paul Ryan's plan, an artless war on the poor that would take a meat-cleaver to Medicaid (health care for the poor), food stamps, support for child care, the environment, and the rest of government other than the military, Social Security, and Medicare (that is, until 2022, when the slashing would begin on Medicare coverage as well). Ryan would keep taxes below 20 percent of GDP (specifically, 19.9 percent of GDP in 2021), at the cost of destroying entitlements programs and other civilian spending.

Then there is President Obama's budget, which is really a muddled proposal in the center-right of the political spectrum. It would keep most of the Reagan-era and Bush-era tax cuts in place. Like the Ryan proposal, Obama's tax proposals would keep total taxes at around 20 percent of GDP. The result is a major long-term squeeze on vital programs such as community development, infrastructure, and job training. Also, Obama's plan never closes the budget deficit, which remains as high as 3.1% of GDP in 2021.

In the progressive middle is the People's Budget. Like Ryan's plan, the People's Budget would cut the budget deficit to zero by 2021, but would do so in an efficient and fair way. It would close the budget deficit by raising tax rates on the rich and giant corporations, while also curbing military spending and wrestling health care costs under control, partly by introducing a public option. By raising tax revenues to 22.3 percent of GDP by 2021, the People's Budget closes the budget deficit while protecting the poor and promoting needed investments in education, health care, roads, power, energy, and the environment in order to raise America's long-term competitiveness. The People's Budget thereby achieves what Ryan and Obama do not: the combination of fairness, efficiency, and budget balance.

The fourth position is the public's position. The Republicans often say that they want Congress to respect the voice of the people. The voice of the people is crystal clear. In one opinion survey after the next, the public says that the rich and the corporations should pay more taxes. The public says that we should tamp down runaway health care costs through a public option, one that would introduce competition to drive down bloated private health insurance costs. The public says that we should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and reduce Pentagon spending. (Just yesterday, Defense Secretary Gates let loose the predictable Pentagon canard that we should stay in Iraq if the Iraqi government asks for it. Better yet, we should respond to what the American people are asking for: to bring our troops home).

The fact is that the People's Budget is the public's position. That's why it is truly a centrist initiative, at the broad center of the U.S. political spectrum. Ryan reflects the wishes of the rich and the far right. Obama's position reflects the muddle of a White House that wavers between its true values and the demands of the wealthy campaign contributors and lobbyists that Obama courts for his re-election. Many Democrats in Congress have also gone along with the falsehood that deficit cutting means slashing spending on the poor and on civilian discretionary programs, rather than raising taxes on the rich, cutting military spending, and taking on the over-priced private health insurance industry. Only the People's Budget speaks to the broad needs and values of the American people.

The current budget negotiations have been a dialogue among the wealthy. The big debate has focused on which programs for the poor should be axed first. There has been no discussion of raising taxes on the rich, and quite the contrary, the White House and the Republican leadership agreed to further tax cuts last December. Obama has repeatedly expressed regret at slashing community development, energy support for the poor, and other programs, but he is not fighting the trend, only regretting it.

Most of Washington has stopped listening to the people. Campaigns are now so expensive that most politicians do anything to court the favor of the rich. Yet ultimately the public will prevail. Twice before in American history -- during the Gilded Age of the 1880s and in the 1920s, just before the Great Depression -- big corporate money effectively owned Washington. But in both eras great progressive leaders (including the two Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin) came along to restore the true meaning of American democracy: a government truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. With public protests against government by the rich now spreading in Wisconsin, Ohio and beyond, and with the launch of the People's Budget by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a great national movement to restore American democracy has begun.
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Thoughts on the Realengo Girl Massacre, by Valéria Fernandes of Uma Voz Feminista

photo of Valéria Fernandes is from here

What follows was sent to me and was translated into English by Lauren Asrael. Underneath that is the original text in Portuguese. I want to thank Valéria and Lauren for their feminist activism.

Lauren provides this preface:
Last Thursday morning, a 24 year old man entered a public school in Realengo, a suburb of Rio de Janiero, Brazil. A former student, he told the staff that he was there as a guest lecturer.

He entered a classroom, pulled out his gun, and shot over twenty students, mostly girls. Wellington de Oliveira killed ten girls and one boy, and wounded thirteen girls and three boys. He shot the girls in the head and the boys in the arms and legs, telling one boy, “Don’t worry, fatty, I won’t kill you.” The media refuses to call this a misogynist crime or a hate crime and continues to use the word ‘alunos’ (male students in Portuguese) when talking about the girls and boys. The girls and boys murdered and wounded were between the ages of 11 and 13. Wellington de Oliveira shot himself. He left a suicide note about sexual chastity and purity.

This is a response to the shooting and the sexism by Brazilian blogger Valéria Fernandes of Uma Voz Feminista.

Thoughts on the Realengo Girl Massacre

Valéria Fernandes
I’m writing this with anger and resentment. The crime in the Realengo public school, eleven ‘alunas’ dead – yes, female students – because it was ten girls and just one boy, leaves me deeply saddened and bitter. We’ve made it to the First World, we now have our own version of Columbine. The number of girls murdered compared to boys (10-1) and wounded compared to boys (13-3) leaves my hair standing on end. The suicide note, full of religious cries (Christian, not Islamic, as some were hoping) of sexual chastity and purity leaves no room for doubt. This was a misogynist hate crime. It is reminiscent of the shooting at the University of Montreal in Canada and at the Amish school in the United States.

In 1989, in Montreal, a guy entered the Polytechnic School, went into an engineering classroom, pulled out a gun. He separated the women from the men and said he was fighting feminism. He shot nine of the women, six of them died. In his suicide note was a list of famous feminists he wanted to murder.

The case of the Amish school is more recent. In 2006, a guy entered an Amish school (doesn’t this just remind you of the film “Testament”?) held a class of students hostage, kept the girls at gunpoint, let the boys go. He killed five girls, and had meant to kill them all, but when he saw the police coming he shot himself.

Someone please tell me where you can find a classroom (excluding Nursing school) with ten girls to every boy. I’m a teacher, and this may true for some schools, but it was not the case in Realengo. Some are saying, “he shot more girls than boys because girls sit in the front row.” I teach teenagers, and I can tell you that both boys and girls sit in the front row.

I just do not believe he shot randomly. I don’t think anyone is at fault – this is not something you would ever imagine happening in a Brazilian school. No one can buy guns that easily unless they are involved in organized crime. I am praying that this does not become a trend. I sincerely believe this was a misogynist hate crime, and the patriarchal view that hides the number of female victims – girl victims, is deeply offensive. I can only hope that the wounded survive and do not join the numbers of the dead.
Here is the post as it appears on the blog of Valéria Fernandes from 7 April 2011. Please click on the title to link back to her blog.

Minhas Considerações sobre as Meninas Massacradas em Realengo

Estou abrindo esse post por pura especulação e indignação. Primeiro, o crime da escola em Realengo, as 11 alunas mortas, sim, no feminino, porque foram 10 meninas e 1 menino, me deixaram profundamente triste e amargurada. Agora, sim, estamos no primeiro mundo! Temos nosso Columbine... ou algo do gênero. Em segundo lugar, as proporções de 10 meninas para apenas 1 menino entre os mortos e de 13 meninas feridas para somente 3 meninos feridos, me deixaram de cabelo em pé. A carta do assassino, carregada de surtos religiosos (*cristãos, não islâmicos, como muita gente começou a inventar*) e sexuais sobre castidade e pureza, me deixou muito, muito desconfiada. Para mim, e estou fazendo essa afirmação sem nenhuma informação posterior, trata-se de um crime de ódio. Ofereço, para quem duvida, dois outros crimes semelhantes em números: o da Universidade em Montreal, no Canadá e o da Escola Amish, nos EUA.

Em 1989, Montreal, um sujeito invadiu a École Polytechnique, entrou em uma sala, rendeu todos, separou homens de mulheres e disse que estava lutando contra o feminismo. Atirou em nove moças, matou seis. Deixou uma carta de suicídio com uma lista de “feministas” que queria matar. O caso da escola Amish é mais recente. Em 2006, um sujeito invadiu uma escola Amish (*Lembram do filme A Testemunha?*), tomou uma classe como refém, liberou os meninos, ficou com as dez menininhas. Matou cinco, e não terminou o serviço, porque ao perceber a aproximação da polícia, ele se matou.

Agora, alguém me diga qual escola do Rio de Janeiro ou de qualquer lugar do Brasil que não seja curso normal, enfermagem (*e aqui pode nem ser*) ou algo semelhante que tenha uma proporção próxima de 10 meninas para cada 1 menino em sala. Eu lecionei em curso normal e a proporção chegava perto disso. Esse não era o caso da escola do Realengo. Contudo vem alguém e me diz que temos estes números, porque as meninas sentam na frente. E, sim, ninguém se mexeu. Eu dou aula para adolescentes, posso até ter mais meninas na frente, mas a proporção é quase meio a meio.

Desculpem, mas meu desconfiômetro está ligado aqui. Não acho que existam culpados. Não é algo que se espere que aconteça em uma escola brasileira, ninguém pode comprar armas de forma indiscriminada neste país salvo se estiver envolvido com o crime, e torço para que não tenhamos ninguém imitando o criminoso em outras escolas por aí. Eu realmente acredito que ocorreu um crime de ódio e o uso do masculino, o suposto universal, que esconde o número de vítimas mulheres, meninas, na verdade, é ofensivo. Torço, também, para que nenhuma das feridas morra e estou incluindo os três meninos.

Quanto ao assassino, era alguém que sofria de transtorno mental. Deveria estar internado, mas o Estado abriu mão de tratar de forma adequada os doentes mentais, para cortar custos. Claro, que tudo é disfarçado em belas teorias que dizem que é melhor o paciente estar com os seus familiares... Sei! Nem sempre isso é possível e/ou aconselhável. Eu defendo o tratamento humanizado, que hospitais psiquiátricos não pdoem ser prisões, no entanto, é preciso dar todo o apoio especializado aos parentes e ao paciente. Isso, o Estado não tem feito. Eis a minah crítica. Outra coisa, vi gente especulando que o policial executou o sujeito. Armado do jeito que ele estava (*vi a foto dele morto no jornal O Dia, com os carregadores em volta do corpo. Se abrir, está avisad@!*), se o policial o matou, fez o que deveria ter feito naquelas condições. Não lamento isto, eu lamento, sim, pelas crianças. E que me chamem de fascista se quiserem, pois assumo integralmente o que digo. Cabe agora investigar como o sujeito conseguiu as armas, tanta munição e os carregadores rápidos (speed loaders). Qual o significado do seu traje imitando a indumentária militar? E o conhecimento e o treinamento que, apesar de ser mentalmente doente, ele certamente possuía? Isso, sim, é importante!

O relato de uma das meninas sobreviventes (*1-2*) só reforça que o criminoso tinha um modus operandi. a cosia foi planejada e ele escolheu matar meninas. Meninas mesmo, já que ele entrou e a primeira pessoa que encontrou foi uma professora.