March 3rd, 2011

Politics

quoted for truth

"The United States has always been an essentially capitalist economic system. However, we have experienced periods in our history where this system has seriously malfunctioned, and we've made adjustments accordingly that have largely worked well making things better.

"One of those dysfunctional periods came at about the turn of the last century, when McKinley was president, corrupt robber barons ran Congress, and the latter-day version of 'strict constructionists' ruled the courts. 'Laissez faire' capitalism ruled, and America was functionally an oligarchy. Squeezed out were the working people: the average workweek was 80 hours, there were no weekends, no vacation, only a few holidays, and the barest minimum of pay. Benefits and health care were unheard of. Child labor was the rule.

"What happened between then and now? 'Progressives' began agitating for better working conditions, and began organizing as labor unions. After a long period of violent repression, these reforms gradually became government policy - especially in the 1930s under FDR. Americans began getting 40-hour work weeks with weekends off, paid vacations and benefits."

Read the rest of the article here.

News

Afghanistan, dictators, and oxycodone

THURSDAY NEWS:
* "This is above all a moment of new possibilities in the Arab world, and indeed in the entire Middle East."
* Yeah, the surge in Afghanistan is looking a little familiar.
* "Much of the billions of dollars U.S. taxpayers are spending rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq is likely being wasted because no one is ensuring the contractors involved are doing a good job."
* Good read: Kevin Drum on identifying government waste.
* Credit where it's due: Supreme Court rules corporations do not have 'personal privacy' rights.
* By the numbers: naming the biggest modern dictators.
* Nifty chart of social programs being cut versus tax breaks for the wealthy.
* Drug state: "Doctors in Florida prescribe 10 times more oxycodone pills than every other state in the country combined."
* Whoah. Tracking IEDs in Afghanistan by scent.