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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries since January 2013

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This Week in OtherWords: January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013 ·

This week in OtherWords, we’re mixing food and politics. Wenonah Hauter skewers the government’s lackadaisical regulation of genetically engineered salmon, Jill Richardson calls for a fresh outlook on the relationship between weight and health, Jim Harkness asks whether the Farm Bill has met its demise, and Jim Hightower urges cubicle captives to stop using their keyboards as lunch trays. Donald Kaul, William A. Collins, Alana Baum, and I discuss Obama’s inauguration from different angles.

Below you’ll find links to our latest work. If you haven’t already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do. 

  1. The End of the Farm Bill? / Jim Harkness
    We must build a new policy framework for a fair, sustainable, and healthy food system.
  2. Don’t Put a Fork in It / Wenonah Hauter
    Despite consumer opposition, the FDA is one step away from approving genetically engineered salmon.
  3. Dumped by Time Warner Cable / Josh Stearns
    The story of independent voices struggling to gain a place in our media system is all too common.
  4. Why I’m Singing the Inauguration Blues / Alana Baum
    Like Paul Ryan and Henry Marsh, I had a bad day on the mall.
  5. Obama’s Battle Hymn of the Republic / Donald Kaul
    When he tried conciliation, all he got from the Republicans was implacable hostility, unyielding obstructionism, and insults.
  6. Hogging the Global Pie / Sam Pizzigati
    The richest 100 people in the world are earning much more than enough to end the world’s worst poverty.
  7. Fat Demons / Jill Richardson
    There are no shortcuts to health.
  8. Step Away from That Desk / Jim Hightower
    Don’t let your boss steal your lunch break.
  9. Uttering the G Word / Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins
    Conservatives will miss gay-bashing as an electoral strategy.
  10. Fishy Genes / Khalil Bendib cartoon

Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies OtherWords.org

From Dr. King to Barack Obama

January 29, 2013 ·

Last year, as part of the annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, one of President Obama’s top advisors paid a visit to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church of Dr. Martin Luther King. The advisor, Valerie Jarrett, received a standing ovation from the assembled congregation when she shared the story of how Pres. Obama was responsible for the killing of an unarmed Osama bin Laden as members of his family looked on. I share this strange and surreal scene from Ebenezer Church, where the largely African American congregation endorsed the killing of another human being – while in church – because I think it captures the vast historical and moral distance between two distinct periods: the period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when Dr.King emerged as the symbolic leader of the civil rights wing of the ongoing Black liberation movement and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964; and the era of Barack Obama, launched with his ascendancy to the highest political office in the country and the winning of the Nobel Prize in 2008. Two periods and two awards that, when linked, serve as yet another confirmation of the moral decline of liberalism among white and black people over the last four decades.

For the full article click here.

This Week in OtherWords: January 23, 2013

January 23, 2013 ·

This week in OtherWords, Ron Carver puts today’s gun control debate into a personal and historical context, drawing on his experience on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and research into what prompted the Founders to enshrine the right to bear arms in our Constitution. Donald Kaul finds a striking similarity between the Manti Te’o scandal and the Republican Party’s fantasies, Sam Pizzigati explains what’s wrong with the Washington Beltway’s new “Lexus lanes,” and Martha Burk describes a new advantage French women have over their American sisters.

On our blog, you’ll find my summary of seven steps President Obama can take if he wants to belatedly embrace a progressive agenda, and Sarah Anderson’s four practical suggestions raising much-needed revenue.

Below you’ll find links to our latest work. If you haven’t already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

  1. Second Amendment Vigilantes / Ron Carver
    It’s a myth that the right to bear arms stemmed from the Founders’ wish that Americans be free to stage an armed rebellion against our own government, should it become tyrannical.
  2. Border Fears Riddled with Holes / Raul A. Reyes
    Despite the rhetoric from immigration hardliners, we are indeed securing our borders.
  3. Making Caregiving Count in France / Martha Burk
    French women who take time off to have kids won’t get a big fat zero in their Social Security accounts like most of their sisters in the United States.
  4. A Chance to Invest in TV News / Jason Salzman
    TV stations should say, “we’re sick of gross political ads, too, and we’re going to hire reporters with our election-year ad windfall.”
  5. Forget Fake Girlfriends, Republicans Have an Imaginary President / Donald Kaul
    One of our major political parties has become infected with the Notre Dame virus.
  6. The Capital of Inequality / Sam Pizzigati
    The Washington region’s increasingly rich elite are now zipping along in Lexus lanes.
  7. Coke Still Needs to Get Real / Jill Richardson
    The soda giant’s slick campaign to make us think its products are getting healthier might change public perceptions — but it won’t make soda good for you.
  8. Duck and Cover 2.0 / Jim Hightower
    The police-industrial complex aims to deploy thousands of domestic drones in the next few years.
  9. The High Cost of Free Trade / William A. Collins
    Negotiations over the new Trans-Pacific Partnership are secret — not even members of Congress get to see the drafts.
  10. Automatic Congressional Allegiance / Khalil Bendib Cartoon

     

    Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

Giant Victory in Europe on Taxing Financial Speculation

January 23, 2013 ·

EU finance ministers were scheduled to vote January 22 on whether to authorize 11 member states to proceed with the introduction of a financial transaction tax (FTT). As it turned out, the ministers didn’t even have to take a formal vote because it was obvious that there was sufficient support to move ahead. 

The 11 countries are Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia. It will be possible for other governments to opt in at a later date. And in fact, the Netherlands has expressed interested, but they want to negotiate an exemption for their pension funds. 

EU Flags - Photograph: Rolf Haid/EPA

Next Steps 

The next step is for the European Commission to make a proposal for the tax. The proposal will be based on one introduced by the Commission in September 2011 that would apply a 0.1% tax rate on trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01% rate for derivatives trades. As described in the European Council statement released today, the aim of this proposal is “for the financial industry to make a fair contribution to tax revenues, whilst also creating a disincentive for transactions that do not enhance the efficiency of financial markets.” 

The proposed tax is based on the “residence principle,” meaning that a financial transaction would be taxed in each case where a resident of one of the participating EU member states was involved even if the transaction was carried out in a country that is not a participant. 

The tax proposal will have to be adopted by unanimous agreement of the participating member states. EU Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta says it is possible that the tax could enter into force beginning January 1, 2014. 

Use of Funds

Although some press reports have said the funds will go towards bailing out European banks, there is no agreement yet on how revenues will be allocated. International campaigners who have been advocating for financial transactions taxes for several years will be redoubling their efforts to demand that revenues to go towards social and environmental purposes. 

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC www.ips-dc.org

7 Progressive Steps Obama Should Take in His Second Term

January 19, 2013 ·

7 Progressive Steps - Obama Second Term

Most progressives aren’t exactly thrilled with President Barack Obama’s track record so far. Sure, he came out in favor of gay marriage, raised taxes on at least some of the richest Americans, made history by being the first non-white man to occupy the White House, and called for ending oil and gas subsidies.

In general, however, he riled the progressive base instead of rallying it. Given that hardened conservatives continue to accuse him of being a “communist” anyway, he might as well give a true progressive agenda a shot. Chances of that may look slim in light of his corporate-sponsored inaugural festivities, but he did get that memo about how he’s got to finally do something about guns.

Here’s my cheat sheet for our commander-in-chief, in case he wants to get back in touch with his inner anti-war community organizer.

Dear Mr. President,

You and I have never met even though I grew up in Hyde Park and right-wingers keep insisting that you’re heavily influenced by my organization. (Isn’t that kooky? Look it up if you don’t believe me.) Anyway, I know you’re busy but in case you’ve got a minute or two to spare, here are seven action items for your consideration. I’ve tried to keep it short, but there are lots of hyperlinks for you to explore.

Sincerely,

Emily Schwartz Greco

1) Stop climate change. Surely you’ve noticed by now that the weather got pretty odd during your first term in office. After all, heavy winds are felling the White House’s stately Christmas trees and you wound up embraced by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (a potential GOP presidential contender) right before Election Day because of Superstorm Sandy’s devastation. Uttering the words “climate change” out loud is nice and all, but actions speak louder than words. The best way you can prove that you’re serious about climate change is to nix the Keystone XL pipeline. While you’re at it, bravely declare that fracking is environmentally devastating and do what you can to stop that scourge. Along with mountaintop removal mining. End your love affair with nuclear reactors and see if you can end our reliance on that dangerous source of power faster than Germany.

2) Adopt a foreign policy that respects human rights. You can start by ending all forms of government-sponsored torture, which would require punishing U.S. officialswho have anything to do with it. No, making them the next CIA chief doesn’t count, as bad as things turned out for Gen. David Petraeus. And keep that promise you made four years ago and shut the Guantánamo prison. Oh, and by the way: One great way to respect human rights is to kick your nasty remote-controlled killing habit. Drone warfare won’t make the world a safer or better place.

3) Embrace spending priorities that benefit the rest of us instead of rich folksand corporations. With private pensions becoming an endangered species, it’s time to strengthen Social Security rather than gutting it. You can do this and balance the budget at the same time if you get creative about new revenue sources, such as a Wall Street tax. And put the Pentagon on a diet. That’s what we’ve always done after wars wound down and supposedly we’re wrapping up operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

4) End the wars on drugs and undocumented immigrants. Speaking of pointless and pricey wars that are finally winding down, why not admit that the Drug War isn’t working and never will? Make sure the good people of Washington State and Colorado get what they voted for when they passed marijuana-legalizing ballot measures last year. And go a step further and push for nationwide decriminalization of a drug that at least 100 million of us have tried, including, uh, you. Another thing that might help Latin Americans and Latinos, two of the communities that have suffered the most over the Drug War's four decades, is a saner immigration policy. Yes, Latinos backed you over Romney, but they had to hold their noses because of those record deportation rates. See if you can do something at the federal level to update immigration laws that might stop the outbreak of oppressive legislation in states like Arizona and Alabama.

5) Address America’s corrosive racial and class disparities, such as the racial wealth divide and the overly black and brown composition of our outrageously huge incarcerated population. The increasingly privatized prison-industrial complex isn’t good for anyone, especially undocumented immigrants, unless you think corporations are people. But if they were, you wouldn’t have gotten a second term, right?

6) Help fix our broken food system. You could get started by getting Michelle to dump Beyoncé as one of the faces of the Let’s Move campaign now that she’s becoming the face of Pepsi. For a change, how about not letting every single application for an untested genetically engineered thing we eat or feed our animals glide through the approval process? Use the power of your post to get the country to eat further down the food chain which would be great for our personal health and the entire planet by serving a vegan banquet at the next State Dinner. See if the Farm Bill could do less for corporate agribusiness and more to give the powerful local-food revolution even more momentum. Do something about factory egg and livestock farms.

7) Take steps to alleviate our growing care crisis before it crushes us all. It’s still mostly a below-the-radar challenge compared to everything else on this list, but the growing numbers of senior citizens aren’t just making the cost of Medicare harder for the federal government to shoulder. We don’t have enough geriatric doctors or any system to increase the numbers of qualified professionals who we need to provide our elders with decent care of any sort. We’ll need at least 1.6 million new caregivers by 2020 and it won’t be easy to recruit them unless U.S. labor laws are updated. Experts predict that the number of seniors in the United States will nearly double by 2030. Sure, it’s possible that robots will solve this problem. Just like it’s possible that you’re going to take all my advice.

Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

Obama Swear-In Ceremony, January 20, 2013. Photo: White House

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