Category Archives: Social values

Austerity Kills: Economic Distress Seen as Culprit in Sharp Rise in Suicide Rate Among Middle Aged

I’m surprised, but perhaps I shouldn’t be, that a recent study hasn’t gotten the attention it warrants. It points to a direct connection between the impact of the crisis and a marked increase in suicide rates among the middle aged.

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Forced Into Historic Runoff

This Real News Network interview describes why the coming mayoral runoff in Chicago is in many ways a referendum on failed neoliberal policies, such as privatizing schools. The very fact that this race is taking place at all reveals an unexpectedly large degree of popular discontent with misrule by what passes for our elites

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Mathew D. Rose: Greece – Dead Man Walking

Rose focuses on an issue that reader Swedish Lex and other have pointed out: the heavy-handed actions of Germany in the tempestuous negotiations between the Eurozone and Greece have wound up being a major own goal.

But the bigger issue that Rose raises is that last week’s ugly negotiations, in combination with the fiasco in Ukraine, is exposing Germany as a lousy hegemon, which he argues is producing a political crisis in Germany and fracture lines in Europe.

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Gaius Publius: Tobacco Deaths, TPP and the “Trade” Courts

Obama’s pending trade deals, the TransPacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, have few fans at Naked Capitalism. But we are always looking for ways for like-minded readers to to alert friends and colleagues to the dangers of the proposed pacts and hopefully take action against them. This post gives concrete, accessible examples of some of the uses made of investor-state dispute settlement panels, which Gaius calls trade courts (even though they are actually secret arbitration panels) by Big Tobacco.

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Mathew D. Rose: Greece – It’s a Revolution, Stupid!

As Greece’s struggles to secure relief from impossible-to-pay-debt that served to prop up otherwise insolvent French and German banks, and to be permitted to implement measures to reduce distress and restore growth, more and more observers are recognizing that this is really a struggle over democratic self-control versus rule by an unaccountable technocracy with inflexible rules, using finance as their enforcement weapon. This speech in the European Parliament today by UKIP leader Neil Farage echoes some of the themes of Mathew Rose’s post. Rose also explains how the many Germans justify the counterproductive destruction of a society that they have turned into a vassal state.

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Tom Engelhardt: In Whose America? Machine Guns, MRAPs, Surveillance, Drones, Permanent War, and a Permanent Election Campaign

The occasion for such reflections: machine guns in my hometown. To be specific, several weeks ago, New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the formation of a new 350-officer Special Response Group (SRG). Keep in mind that New York City already has a police force of more than 34,000 — bigger, that is, than the active militaries of Austria, Bulgaria, Chad, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kenya, Laos, Switzerland, or Zimbabwe — as well as its own “navy,” including six submersible drones.  Just another drop in an ocean of blue, the SRG will nonetheless be a squad for our times, trained in what Bratton referred to as “advanced disorder control and counterterror.”  It will also, he announced, be equipped with “extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns — unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.” And here’s where he created a little controversy in my hometown.  The squad would, Bratton added, be “designed for dealing with events like our recent protests or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.”

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Fog of Negotiations: Greece and Germany Make Friendlier Noises, Restart Talks, But Press Reports Diverge

After a collapse of negotiations over whether and how to resolve Syriza’s demands for a new deal with the Eurozone with the insistence of its counterparties that the new government adhere to the terms of its existing deal, technical discussions are set to resume Friday. The drop-dead date is Monday, since any extension or modification of the current so-called bailout needs to happen by February 28, when it expires. The lead time is necessary because the Germany Bundestag and the Finnish Parliament must approve any new or extended deal. But what is the real state of play?

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The Rich and the Great Recession

Much research about the Great Recession in the US has focused on the boom-bust in housing wealth and spending of the middle class. This column argues that a large role was actually played by the rich. The savings rate of the rich went through a similar cycle as that of the middle class with rising wealth first stimulating their consumption and falling wealth restraining it. Most importantly, the wealth of the rich has become so large and volatile that wealth effects on their consumption could impact the whole economy.

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