Friday, September 7, 2007

Progressive Mayoral candidate in Greenville NC

Jacek Teller an ex Marine who served in Iraq, a progressive, and founder of ECU Peace and Justice is running for Mayor of Greenville NC as a Dem. Word on the street is he has some powerful support comming from some old school politico's in Greenville and will actually make a decent run for it.

stories with Jacek;

'The Story' from American Public Media

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

ABC Stores Privatized - Getting Rid of State Control of Liquor

Below is the latest from NC Spin Online:

Should we abolish ABC stores?

Posted: Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Some 500 members of local ABC boards met at the Grove Park Inn in July and were wined (literally) and dined by liquor brokers and other vendors.

News coverage of the event raised questions about whether or not the free golf games, free drinks, food, and hospitality were legal in light of the laws passed last year regarding lobbying and conflicts of interest. First blush is that the ABC boards used poor judgment in allowing this practice, albeit a longstanding one, to continue.

But the story raises a more serious question as to whether or not this state should eliminate the government operated stores. This system was established when North Carolina allowed only brown-bagging, not the current liquor by the drink. It is probable that the state would generate more revenues by licensing retail stores.

If this happened we could expect much opposition from those saying that there would be a liquor store on every corner and we would be encouraging people to drink more. Right. Like they don't already do it.

Bring on the debate. We think it is time to privatize the sale of liquor. With strong controls that include STIFF fines for violators and effective enforcement we would raise revenues for our state and get the government out of a business in which we shouldn't be involved to begin with.
Tom Campbell

Why? I mean....why? There's nothing broke with the system we have. I have never heard one person complain about the State of North Carolina having a monopoly on liquor sales. As far as I'm concerned actually, I prefer to know where to go for my Bombay and Wild Turkey. I don't think lawmakers should be spending their time with this issue when there are better things to concern oneself with, such as the lack of adequate public transportation in North Carolina, or bike lanes, or health care options, or any of the many other things they could fix first....things that actually need fixing.

Secondly, what's up with the statement :
If this happened we could expect much opposition from those saying that there would be a liquor store on every corner and we would be encouraging people to drink more. Right. Like they don't already do it.
Who is 'they' actually, Mr. Campbell? I'd like to know who 'they' are who are implied drunkards to elaborate?


Free Markets And The Women Who Love Them

Do Americans really support Free Markets? Or is it the fact that someone got to coin the term, adding the all powerful, all lovable word - 'free', before anyone else could think to think about it. A recent poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) finds that there is a wide consensus across nations that free markets are the best way forward for the future.

Not drastically surprising for the US, however China is an interesting one according to the authors:

"Ironically, the country that showed the highest level of support for the free enterprise system was China, with 74% agreeing that it is the best system."

I don't know if i find that extremely ironic, since the steam of communism in China dulled some time ago, much to our designs - real or imagined.

A few Google searches later and I had arrived, not surprisingly, at the man himself commenting on the subject...which by the way saves me the time of doing my own rant. (one thing degrees in social sciences will teach you is the ability to rant on either side of any issue - I'm no exception to this rule and anyone who says they aren't are still in denial - after a while, thankfully, you pick the one you actually believe...which you later debunk yourself, and so it goes).

Without further ado, Mr. Chomsky on the subject:

Noam Chomsky: The poll was interesting, but one has to look at it carefully. First, just to mention the conclusions, the major ones were:

(1) "a striking global consensus that the free market economic system is best"

(2) "an even greater consensus in favor of more government regulation of large companies."

(3) Large majorities agree that "Large companies have too much influence over our national government." In the US, 85% agree, 59% strongly.

So the respondents are calling for more government regulation of large businesses, which undermine democracy. And are also calling for a "free market," that is, one with no government regulation of businesses.

That raises the question what people mean by "free market." They can't possibly mean what exists in the US, or anywhere else in the world (except impoverished countries subject to structural adjustment and neoliberal rules instituted by force, as in Haiti, for example). Just to take the US, departure from free market principles is extreme. Just take what you and I are now using: computers and the internet. Like most of the "new economy," they largely derive from the state sector of the economy. And that's just the beginning.

Presumably people mean something like the economies of the rich industrial countries, that is, some kind of state capitalist economy, which developed by radical violation of free market principles for centuries. Counter to doctrine, to be sure, but perfectly familiar to economic historians. And when they say that's what they prefer, in comparison to what? Very likely, in comparison to the statist economies of the Soviet sphere -- which, awful as they were, raised third world countries to the "second world" of developed societies. It's unlikely that respondents know enough recent history to be aware of the great growth period of the modern world: from World War II to the mid-1970s, the period of import substitution and state intervention in much of the South, and of capital controls and regulated currencies in the industrial world. Few would be aware that the partial imposition of "free market" principles in the "neoliberal" period that followed led to decline in standard macroeconomic indices and other negative effects, more extreme to the extent that countries followed the rules (e.g., Latin America), while growth took place, sometimes spectacular growth, in countries that ignored the rules, as in East Asia.


Read the entire piece on Mr. Chomsky's blog at:


Monday, September 3, 2007

Sorry but this is too good

Modern day lynching, this could be you.

Tonight on Anderson Cooper 360 there was a report that reminded me all too much of similar things that have happened in NC over the past few years. Six young men face life in prison after a schoolyard fight. How does one get life in jail for a fight? Well when your black in rural Louisiana and you stage a protest under a tree that only whites are allowed to sit under this could happen to you. How can you prosecute hate crimes when juries will still do things like this?

here is the article on 360 blog;

and here are the first articles on Left Turn;



Sunday, September 2, 2007

How Liberals Think - At Least They Think

Every Sunday should have a NewsBuster moment, if for nothing else than to snap you back into reality, a recent post from Mark Finkelstein, whom you may email at

From (self proclaimed debunker of the liberal media)
You're a liberal. You've identified a problem -- the massive loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States; a net loss of 4.6 million jobs over the last 20 years. You've even done a decent job of identifying the causes of the problem: "Companies lose market share to foreign low-cost producers . . . or move their operations overseas in search of lower wages . . . or apply production techniques that require fewer workers."

So, what's your solution? Measures like reducing taxes and regulation to make U.S. manufacturers more competitive, perhaps? Of course not! Remember, you're a liberal. No, your solution is what you yourself describe as a "massive" new welfare program for affected workers and communities that will contribute to making U.S. manufacturers even less competitive and destroy even more jobs!

Mr. Finkelstein is actually well speckled in academic qualifications, despite his apparent flawed analysis of the role of welfare programs and a healthy economy. The last time I checked, the Euro hasn't dipped below the dollar since it came out. Finkelstein would maybe recognize that social protection programs are necessary to keep poor people from realizing the true exploitation of their labor and chasing his free-market pals around with baseball bats to get a decent wage or a secured paid vacation.


Billionaires and Bums - Inequality and the American Dream

“We in America are heading towards ‘developing nation’ levels of inequality…. What does that say about us? What does that say about America?”

“the number of U.S. billionaires has also increased, from just 13 in 1985 to more than 1,000 today. In 2005, an estimated 227,000 new millionaires emerged, many bolstered by lucrative financial hedge funds. The wealth of all U.S. millionaires that year was $30 trillion, or more than the gross domestic products (GDPs) of Brazil, China, the European Union, Japan, and Russia combined.”

(Cited from the WorldWatch Institute)

The proverbial elephant in the middle of the room - inequality. Generally, we all believe, or at least I assume most people tend to believe, that poverty is pretty bad stuff - and it is, sort of. Inequality, however, should be considered more of a problem than poverty itself. This is because poor people don't necessarily cause problems for society (outside of the repercussions of lower standards of living and human health, etc). Crime, for instance, is a bi-product of inequality between groups, amongst other factors which I think can be pretty much be traced back to inequality itself.

Most societies, including America, have transfer systems in place to reduce inequality amongst its members, these are social protection systems – welfare checks, food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, etc. Europe, especially the Scandinavian countries, tend to internalize their systems much more than the US. Their taxation schemes represent this fact by generally being higher than ours. This is an issue I think most Americans don’t think about enough – taxation that is. But that’s another issue in itself. It suffices to say if we want to reduce inequality, we have to take money from somewhere and put it somewhere else to equalize the pot, and yes – rich folk need to be footing a much higher percentage of the bill.

Why? Self-preservation.

1) There’s no problem with someone earning a higher annual salary than anyone else if their position and abilities are more highly prized than anothers, that’s completely realistic I think, but there’s only so much money someone really needs to be happy. Actually, when you get past a certain point, your utility actually decreases the more money you get, so then you spend on psychologists and high-priced prostitutes and whatnot to get happy again, which can lead to more problems.

2) The richer you are, the more likely it is you have to start taking precautions to stay rich, house alarms, relocating to gated communities, etc…this is just plain ridiculous. Anytime in the modern era where people in the most powerful nation of the world have to have their houses from real or imagined threats by setting up fortresses…there is a disconnect.

3) The American dream of making it is pretty limited, much more limited than we are led to believe. How many millionaires do you know? How many people living week to week do you know? The American dream philosophy was a great mantra to spark movement to progress in the early years of America, but it’s no way to run a sustainable nation.

Solution? (at least in part)

Higher taxes (yes, that’s what I said) for the wealthier and more formalized social protection transfer systems. Salvation Army, you’re wonderful, half of all my clothes come from your shops, however we need to seriously reconsider your mission. And not just the Salvation Army, but all ‘faith-based’ organizations. Religious groups have always been a historical source of help for the poor and under-privileged, there’s nothing wrong with that in itself. However, do we rely too much on these organizations to provide informal social protection for Americans, social protection that has an innate ulterior motive than simply getting people back to work or in clothes? Isn’t it the state’s responsibility to protect society, isn’t that why we elect these people to govern?