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Frozen foodBaby, it’s cold outside! Another blast of polar air has settled into the eastern half of the country and appears likely to stick around for a while.  WRAL.com forecasts little relief over the next week and sports geek tongues are starting to wag about the possibility of the first truly frigid Super Bowl (which is scheduled in New Jersey for Groundhog’s Day). The website nflweather.com (yes, there really is such a site!) says it’s too early to offer a prediction, but other sites (e.g. Accuweather) are already publicly predicting tolerable temps.

And speaking of weather, rest assured that climate change deniers are — as they always do — seizing on the current cold snap as “evidence” that the planet really isn’t warming. If only that were the case. The scientists at NOAA tell us that 2013 tied as the fourth hottest year on record.

Yet another interesting take on the weather comes from conservative Illinois congressional candidate Susanne Atanus. According to the Chicago Daily Herald, Atanus went all Pat Robertson the other day during an interview with the paper — telling the editors that “she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as punishment for gay rights and legalized abortions.”

Meanwhile, speaking of troubled souls plagued by certifiably insane ideas, check out “The Year in Homophobia” over on the website Right Wing Watch. Read More

The huge and growing gaps in wealth and income inequality are much in the news these days — from Washington to the Vatican and here’s why: the plain facts are simply stunning and overwhelming. To see this in black and white (or, to be more accurate, red, orange and blue) click here and here to check out two new animated graphs from Chad Stone of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (a third one will be released shortly).

As Stone notes by way on introduction with the understated language of a crack economist:

“The economic fortunes of the wealthy and everyone else have diverged sharply in recent decades.  It wasn’t always this way; from the end of World War II into the 1970s, income growth was shared equally among all segments of the population.  But, as we’ll illustrate in three animated graphs, most of the income growth in recent decades has occurred at the very top.”

As the graphs show here and here, that’s putting it gently.

 

Inequality for allThe N.C. Justice Center will be hosting two free screenings of Inequality for All, a new documentary addressing widening income inequality in the United States presented by American economist and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

Here are the details: 

Saturday, October 19, 2013
  Two showings!
2:30 and 7:10
Colony Theater
5438 Six Forks Road, Raleigh
Website Read More

As noted below in Lunch Links, Robert Reich is everywhere these days with the release of his new movie, Inequality for All. If you’d like to read the gist of his message in a succinct column, check out this new essay from his website:

The Myth of the Free Market and How to Make the Economy Work for Us

By Robert Reich

One of the most deceptive ideas continuously sounded by the Right (and its fathomless think tanks and media outlets) is that the “free market” is natural and inevitable, existing outside and beyond government. So whatever inequality or insecurity it generates is beyond our control. And whatever ways we might seek to reduce inequality or insecurity — to make the economy work for us — are unwarranted constraints on the market’s freedom, and will inevitably go wrong. 

By this view, if some people aren’t paid enough to live on, the market has determined they aren’t worth enough. If others rake in billions, they must be worth it. If millions of Americans remain unemployed or their paychecks are shrinking or they work two or three part-time jobs with no idea what they’ll earn next month or next week, that’s too bad; it’s just the outcome of the market.

According to this logic, government shouldn’t intrude through minimum wages, high taxes on top earners, public spending to get people back to work, regulations on business, or anything else, because the “free market” knows best.

In reality, Read More

lunch

Here are some of the important policy matters we’re watching at mid-week:

Wos Watch: Reporters Laura Leslie of WRAL, Joe Neff and Lynn Bonner of the News & Observer have the scoop on the latest wacky hire at the Department of Health and Human Services. Meanwhile, Travis Fain of the Greensboro News & Record has compiled a list of what might be termed Aldona’s Greatest Hits (or Misses).

Greed and inequality watch: There’s another report out panning the so-called “Trans-Pacific Partnership.” According to researcher David Rosnick of the Center for Economic Policy Research, most U.S. workers would actually experience a net negative impact from the proposed trade deal that’s currently under negotiation And, of course, you can learn lots more about this critical but underreported story at next Thursday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon with global trade expert Lori Wallach of the group Public Citizen. Some seats still remain – click here for more info.

Greed and inequality watch – Part II: National Common Cause chairperson and veteran economic justice advocate Robert Reich appears to be garnering quite a bit of well-deserved attention for his new flick: “Inequality for All.” You can watch the official trailer here and an extended interview with Jon Stewart here.  

Knuckleheaded bigot watch: Read More