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Everyday People and the American Revolution PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 08:50

We elevate the events of the American Revolution to near-mythic status all too often and forget that the real revolutionaries were people just like you and me. Caught up in the drama of Red Coats marching, muskets exploding, and flags waving in the night, we lose sight of the enduring significance of the Revolution and what makes it relevant to our world today. Those revolutionaries, by and large, were neither agitators nor hotheads. They were not looking for trouble or trying to start a fight. Like many today, they were simply trying to make it from one day to another, a task that was increasingly difficult as Britain’s rule became more and more oppressive.

 
Justice on the Rocks: The Demise of the People’s Court PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Thursday, 14 June 2012 05:44
Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever.” – William Howard Taft

When I was in law school, what gave me the impetus to become a civil-liberties attorney was seeing firsthand how much good could be done through the justice system. Those were the years of the Warren Court (1953-1969), when Earl Warren helmed the U.S. Supreme Court as chief justice, alongside such luminaries as William J. Brennan Jr., William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, and Thurgood Marshall.

The Warren Court handed down rulings that were instrumental in shoring up critical legal safeguards against government abuse and discrimination. Without the Warren Court, there would be no Miranda warnings, no desegregation of the schools, and no civil-rights protections for indigents. Yet more than any single ruling, what Warren and his colleagues did best was embody what the Supreme Court should always be – an institution established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds.

That is no longer the case. In recent years, especially under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, sound judgment and justice have largely taken a back seat to legalism, statism, and elitism, while preserving the rights of the people has been de-prioritized and made to play second fiddle to both governmental and corporate interests – a trend that has not gone unnoticed by the American people. In fact, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing, while 75 percent say the justices’ decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views.

 
Help Fulfill Mwalimu’s Dream of Clean Water PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Deb Bowen   
Monday, 11 June 2012 09:46

Mwalimu William Karisa and author Deb BowenSeventeen-year-old Mwalimu William Karisa, a Kenyan exchange student in Davenport, won’t need luggage to carry a gift home to Africa. He is taking clean drinking water for his village.

Mwalimu lives with hosts Mark and Dawn Thompson and attended Davenport West High School, where he’s been on the soccer and cross-country teams. He said the idea of team spirit was new to him.

Last fall, a man originally from Kenya visited West High School, and the two Africans met. Mwalimu shared his village’s need for drinking water with Pastor Joshua Ngao of Fishers of Men Ministries. Joshua understood that Mwalimu’s greatest needs at home were basic and agreed to help him raise funds needed to dig a well for his village, Mariango.

In December, Mwalimu explained his family’s situation to his hosts, his exchange-student coordinator, and his fellow exchange students. At times he couldn’t make eye contact when explaining that his mother walks four miles in extreme heat – many times twice a day – to collect drinking water. He also said he contracted malaria four times in his life, and many children in his village die from waterborne disease.

 
Britain, “Austerity,” and the Lessons of Economic History PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Kyle Latham   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 05:37

Economists and pundits alike are going wild over the United Kingdom’s recent “double dip” recession. The 2008-9 recession prompted the election of a conservative coalition led by Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron decided the best path for economic recovery was “austerity,” a program of reduced government spending and smaller government debt. The new coalition – with the aid of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne – sought to drastically slash the government budget. With the addition of increased taxes, the plan was dubbed “Tax & Axe.”

Two years later, the United Kingdom is back in recession. Keynesian economists are enjoying a savory “I told you so” moment, as many pointed out the dangers of austerity during troubled times. The logic runs as follows: When businesses, households, and governments all try to pay back their debts at the same time, they spend less; as they spend less, national income falls, leading to even less spending; this sets off a cycle of decreased spending and economic collapse.

The Keynesian solution is government spending. It goes like this: Governments can increase spending during recessions to keep national income up, preventing the spending collapse. In short, more stimulus is the answer.

In turn, many progressives in the United States are arguing that any similar austerity here (such as Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan) would have equally bad results: another recession.

Unfortunately, this reasoning is based on a faulty premise. Here is the reality: There is no austerity in the United Kingdom.

 
Shikha Dalmia: Half-Right on “Right to Work” PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Kevin Carson   
Saturday, 12 May 2012 05:52

Shikha Dalmia, writing in Reason (“Are Right to Work Laws the New Slavery?,” April 26), dismisses most union objections to “right to work” laws. But she concedes that on one issue – the requirement that unions provide representation for scabs who don’t pay dues – unions are “on more solid ground.”

But, she continues, unions themselves are partly to blame. “They are required to represent all workers in exchange for monopoly rights over collective bargaining in the workplace. That is the Faustian bargain they made in the Wagner Act.”

The problem is that she makes this sound primarily like a perk for the unions. She neglects to mention its value to employers, or more generally the way Wagner reflects the interests of employers.

 
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