Protectionism Means Protecting Ourselves

Protectionism literally means protecting ourselves.

The term is mostly used in the context of economics, where protectionism refers to policies or doctrines which “protect” businesses and “living wages” within a country by restricting or regulating trade between foreign nations.

The idea of protectionism is that when a competing country gains a trade advantage by paying its workers too little or having poor or no worker safety protections, or by allowing pollution of the environment, then we apply a tariff to their goods, so their goods cost the same here as our own goods, and that advantage does not undermine our own wages or safety or pollution standards.
Under conservative ideology, of course, protecting ourselves is a bad thing. Some people make a lot of money for themselves by undermining our wage, safety and pollution standards. So they tell us that protecting ourselves is wrong. The result is that conservative trade agreements that we have now that apply downward pressure on all the wages in the world.
Imagine if the workers in China or Mexico, etc. made enough money to buy the things we make here! That would be the use of our tariffs to apply an upwards pressure on other countries.

Credit Crisis

When people, companies and municipalities reach a point where they have borrowed so much that they can’t pay back the loans I really don’t think the solution is to make more money available to lend. But that is what all of these bailouts are aiming to accomplish.
They say credit has “dried up” and banks “won’t lend.” Can you blame a bank for not wanting to lend money to someone who has no savings, huge credit card bills, and might lose their job at any moment? Can you blame a bank for not lending to a company whose customers have stopped buying and can’t pay them what they already owe?
It’s just more of the same old top-down thinking: that if you just give more and more money to the few at the top things will get better.
At what point does the obvious become obvious? When people are tapped out, they are t.a.p.p.e.d. o.u.t. That’s it. No more blood can be squeezed from that stone. You can’t make a person work longer hours when they are already working two jobs. You’ve already taken away pensions and health care and vacations and overtime, you can’t take away even more.

Progressive Infrastructure To Renew The California Dream

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Markos, in a post today about the state of progressive infrastructure compared to the right’s, Building machines,

[. . .] But that battle is no longer one-sided. Their machine may be bigger, but we have something. And that’s all we ever needed — a hint of a partisan progressive media machine, fed by research and investigative reporting from the likes of ThinkProgress and Talking Points Memo, to begin delivering our message in the face of their vast media machine, as well as ineffective CW[conventional wisdom]-meisters like Maureen Dowd, Mark Halperin, and David Broder.

Look what we have been able to get done in this country with only the smallest, minimally-funded hint at an infrastructure of organizations and media outlets working to counter the right that has been built up since we started this fight. We fought back against the conservative machine and got the Democrats to start fighting back themselves. We took the Presidency, increased our numbers in the House and maybe, just maybe took enough senate seats to stop the filibusters.
Now, imagine what we could do if we actually started funding serious progressive infrastructure organizations and building an ecosystem in which our writers and advocates could actually make a living, sell enough books to start receiving advances, get paid reasonably to write articles, receive speaking fees from organizations and some of the things right-wing advocates take for granted… Imagine tens of thousands of young activists being trained every year. Imagine progressive non-profits having the budgets to pay people more than minimum wage and provide benefits and get things done. Sheesh.
Imagine what we could get done in California if we put together solid organizations that could reach out to all of the public and explain the benefits of progressive values and policies. I mean progressive policies like good, well-funded public schools and low-cost universities, a health care system that works for the people, help with child care, a transportation infrastructure that gets people where they want to go in a timely manner, energy alternatives that cost less and do not pollute and employment rules that bring us reasonable wages and benefits in good jobs that also give us time to have fulfillment in our lives. These are all possibilities, in fact these are all things that we were within reach of obtaining in California not too long ago. These are things thaqt we can dream about again.
Barack Obama was able to raise millions of dollars in small donations, and this has helped the country to start to restore democracy. We can do this in California, by sending $10 or $100 or more to help organizations like Speak Out California and others, and doing this as often as you can.
It is time for us to begin to renew the California Dream.
Click through to Speak Out California

Your Tax Dollars At Work

The insurance company AIG has so far taken about $129 billion from you and me to bail them out. They promised not to give out bonuses to the top seven execs. Of course, the Bush people only made the top seven execs promise not to take bonuses.
So instead of bonuses: AIG Gives ‘Retention’ Pay After Scrapping Bonuses.
Also, “cash awards.”
But no bonuses. They promised not to do that.

President-Elect Obama’s Thanksgiving Address

“In a preview of his weekly address, President-elect Barack Obama addressed the nation on the occasion of Thanksgiving, nearly one hundred and fifty years after President Lincoln called for the last Thursday in November to be set aside to acknowledge our blessings. For more information, visit”

The Government Must Bail Out Blogs

I just came from a briefing by leading economists who explained what is about to happen to the country because there are so few advertisements and donations coming in to the blogs. You would not believe the hush that came over the room as they described the effects on working people as they get laid off, thrown out of their houses, their cars and clothes taken from them, they are denied food except for oatmeal and small bugs, and their children are taken from them to work in government mines.
It is imperative that the Congress come up with a bailout plan, and it must happen within 48 hours, or the very worst will happen — and it will be the Democrats’ fault!
The blogs require an immediate infusion of $300 billion dollars, and it must happen right away, or things beyond your imagination (and mine, apparently) will happen to all of us. We absolutely must avoid this. Immediately, within 48 hours at the very latest, this money must be allocated and provided.
Update – about 5 minutes after posting this I came across this post by Sirota.

Media Just Shut Up Please

I keep hearing on the TV that “people on the left” are upset with Obama for putting former Clinton admin people (experienced people) into positions in his administration. Of course not one of them ever names names of those “people on the left.” I haven’t heard ANYONE say that. That is just stupid.
Shut up! Go divide the Republicans and leave the rest of us alone. Go criticize some CEOs or something. Sheesh!

Bailout At $7 Trillion So Far

So far it looks like you and I have coughed up about $7 trillion dollars to bail out Wall Street and the big banks. The executives and their bonuses and the shareholders all thank you, suckers. Of course, you and I had NO SAY in this at all!
So $7 trillion comes to about $23,000 per person – including infants. This means that the average family of four coughed up almost $100K to bail out Wall Street and the banks and the executive bonuses and shareholders. This was the Republican approach to fixing the problem.
They say it’s all about making money available for people to borrow. This assumes that people have any credit left. I mean, if you make $5,000 a month and your payments add up to $5,000 a month, maybe you aren’t going to want to borrow any more. And maybe a lender with sense won’t let you. Lending to people who can’t afford to pay the money back is what caused the mess! Loading everyone up with even more debt is not the solution.
Why not make people more able to afford to buy things, and not have to borrow to get by? We could have put $7 trillion into health care, roads, bridges, schools and other things that would have created millions of jobs and provided raises to or lowered costs for regular people! I wonder what THAT would have done for the Christmas shopping season, and all the rest of the Christmas shopping seasons from now on?
But we not only didn’t have any say in how the money was used, the money is all gone.
Meanwhile go read The Bail-Out Will Not Work at angry Bear to understand why giving all the rest of our money to the people who created the mess will not work.