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The Republican version of the "ownership society"

The Republican version of the “ownership society”

While stumping in Nevada last week Rand Paul once again indicated that if he becomes President he will sell off some of the national parks and public lands that are currently owned by all Americans. He tied this notion of private ownership to the nation’s development in the 1800’s when the government sale of lands in the West raised money to run the country. This was before we had other funding mechanisms and during a period when available land seemed unlimited.

Rand Paul will be in Michigan this weekend. I hope some courageous media person will ask him if he thinks that a state that spends millions inviting tourism should divest itself of those national parks and public lands that are key attractions, and should Pure Michigan become just a series of corn-dogged theme parks next to limestone quarries surrounded by fleets of hauling trucks that carry clear-cut lumber, oil, gas, and anything else that’s extractable.…

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If 2016 is your answer to the debacle in Michigan last week, then we are asking the wrong question

For the many of us who watch and participate in democracy on a daily basis, this past week was perhaps the most damaging and disheartening week for Michigan in many, many years. Yes, I said years. It is clear that the Republican agenda – their “in your face” agenda – is clearly working for them, even though their agenda is not in concert with the vast majority of people in the state. Their ongoing and relentless pursuit of demoralizing the LGBTQ community and their constant attack on most things considered good and decent is a result of having a majority at all levels of state government.…

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The day after signing "RFRA for Adoption" bills into law, Gov. Snyder urges state employees to become foster parents

The day after signing “RFRA for Adoption” bills into law, Gov. Snyder urges state employees to become foster parents

The day after Governor Snyder signed a package of bills I call the “RFRA for Adoption” into law, his administration sent out an email to all state employees imploring them to consider becoming foster parents to unadopted Michigan kids. Here’s a screenshot:

They probably realized just how disgustingly ironic it was to ask people to foster kids the day after a new law went into effect making it all that much harder for kids to be adopted because the web version of the email suddenly went missing the same day:

Make no mistake: by signing those bills into law, Gov. Snyder absolutely made it harder for same-sex couples to adopt.…

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How the 1,361 richest American households are warping our economy and politics

Why we all need to start talking about ‘runaway wealth accumulation by the richest’

Whenever there’s a debate about what we should be debating, somebody is usually hiding something.

Everyone seems to agree that this chart is bad news is bad news for our kids:

But the question is how to frame it. Republicans want to talk about “mobility” or “the right to rise. In The Atlantic Jared Bernstein and Ben Speilberg make the case that you can’t deal with mobility without addressing inequality.

“Boosting mobility will require reductions in wage, income, and wealth inequalities,” they write.

“[Politicians] are much more comfortable focusing on the benign-sounding theme of ‘wealth creation’ or insisting that economic growth alone can improve mobility without any redistribution of resources or political power, as if ‘a rising tide can lift all boats’ matters when a few people are in yachts and many are stuck in dinghies.”

But it’s worse than that.…

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New Michigan legislation to punish the poor

New Michigan legislation to punish the poor

This week the Michigan Legislature passed House Bill 4041, what they call the Parental Responsibility Act. Gov. Snyder is probably eager to sign it because it has the word “responsibility” in it and impacts only the politically powerless. The Michigan Department of Human Services will be required to eliminate cash assistance to poor families if any child in the household under age 16 is repeatedly absent from school.

On the face of it this seems like a good “enforcement” idea because education is indeed the route out of poverty in the long term. But passing this bill is just more grandstanding by a do-pretty-much-nothing legislature that’s got no handle on solutions to the real and overarching problems confronting Michigan.…

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The cost of debt-free college v. actual crazy ideas

“What voters are looking for in this election is someone who is going to be a champion for everyday people,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager said earlier this month. “For young people, that’s debt-free college, that is finding that job after you graduate.”

The words “debt-free college” are treated like some bizarre fantasy that can only happen in an utopian future or Scandinavia or Germany.

In America, where finding ways to haze the poor is the only purely conservative art form, we’re busy figuring out ways to make college more expensive. College is so expensive and aid so slight that many schools have to run food pantries for students, The Nation‘s Michelle Goldberg reports.…

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Unions are about freedom or: This is why the richest have been trying to kill America’s labor movement

“The future of labor is the future of America,” labor leader John Lewis said, during the Great Depression.

And for a long time, you had to squint to see that future because it’s so bright. America capitalized on its enormous advantages after World War II with unprecedented growth that was — thanks to the labor movement — widely shared.

However, workers wages peaked in the 1970s and since then, gains have been widely shared by the richest .01 percent.

Some have argued that this is a mystic inevitability that is in no way connected to corporate America focusing its enormous power and wealth on an agenda of cutting taxes for the rich and deregulating industry.…

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Reflections from China on the newly-emerging totalitarian state of Michigan

Reflections from China on the newly-emerging totalitarian state of Michigan

The death of democracy?

I have been traveling around China for the past week and, despite the incredible growth of capitalism here, it’s clear that the government controls much of what happens in this beautiful country. From investments infrastructure that result in modern, butter-smooth highways to the wind energy installations that surround cities like Qingdao, the government is in charge of nearly everything that happens. The idea of “local control” isn’t really disputed.

As I read the reports about Michigan House Republicans passing Republican Rep. Earl Poleski’s anti-democratic House Bill 4052 which would strip the ability of local governments from passing local ordinances that conflict with the GOP’s utopian vision of total control of our state, it looks very much like Michigan is sliding rapidly toward the sort of totalitarian control that I see all around me in China.…

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Republicans are on the verge of unprecedented political power — or an electoral catastrophe

The Republican Party is the strongest it has been in decades and could be on the verge of a victory that could give them more electoral power than at any time since 1920, the year women first voted for the president.

That’s the conclusion of Sean Trende and David Byler who have put together an index of party strength:

You can quibble with the methodology and focus on the role gerrymandering and other methods of voter disempowerment have played. But it’s undeniable that Republicans have done much better than Democrats in winning down-ticket races since the Democratic landslide of 2008. And this is how you accumulate political power.…

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Senate version of Michigan Republicans' "Local Government Control Prohibition Act" drops, same as House version

Senate version of Michigan Republicans’ “Local Government Control Prohibition Act” drops, same as House version

Earlier this week, House Republicans held a hearing on H.B. 4052, a bill that would prohibit local governments from passing employment-related ordinances that are more restrictive than state-level laws. Although it is called the “Local Government Employer Mandate Prohibition Act”, it really should be referred to as the “Local Government Control Prohibition Act” because it strips what is commonly known as “home rule” from local governments.

The list of things covered by the current version of H.B. 4052 is pretty large. It would prohibit a local governmental body from adopting, enforcing, or administering an ordinance, local policy, or local resolution that:

  • Regulates the relationship between an employer and its employees or potential employees, if the regulation contains requirements exceeding those imposed by state or federal law.
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