Monday Morning Thoughts

So the Supreme Court starts thinking about the Affordable Care Act today. There are plenty of legal musings about it and it will be interesting to see what happens. Paul Krugman had a brief blog post on it this morning that seems right on. He argues that no one is challenging the constitutionality of Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act basically does the same thing only in a more clumsy way. That seems about right. The real question of course is whether the Roberts court will make cogent legal arguments (whichever way that would take them) or if as they have done so often simply make the court into a partisan political instrument. (I always think of the Roberts court as having decided Bush v. Gore and having given Bush the presidency. And of course that was the Renquist court. But it isn’t completely far out to think as I do; Roberts was on the legal team arguing for Bush, and when the time came his reward for being successful was being named Chief Justice.)Have you been reading all the stuff about the horrible factory conditions in China that make your cool Apple products? Have you been thinking about throwing out your iPhone in protest? Well, if you do you should also throw out everything you’ve bought at Walmart. It’s virtually impossible to be an American and a consumer and not participate in this deal with the devil. Mother Jones has a troubling story exposing the shady dealings and factories that Walmart uses in China. Apple gets the attention because they are the big cool name, and their products are so clean and sleek and seemingly far removed from squalid factory conditions. But all the electronics that we buy, whether Apple or not, and now we see the cheap stuff we buy from Walmart as well, comes to us through the same kinds of factories and supply chains. There isn’t an easy answer to this one. The talking heads on the right just say if you don’t like it then you should live off the grid and not buy any of the stuff, and of course that is simple bluster; it simply isn’t possible in America.
Back to Krugman thinking about the Trayvon Martin case. His column addresses it this morning, coming at it from the angle of the stand your ground laws. Where do those laws, now in something like 21 states, come from? Turns out they were written by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council that has long been infiltrating our state legislatures and providing them with ready made laws to enact. And who funds ALEC? The giants of corporate America, led by the 3rd and 4th richest men in America, the Koch brothers. He sums it up well, “In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.” There is a similar good column with some additional details at Huffington Post by Bill Berkowitz. If any good does come out of the Martin case it will be that ALEC is finally a household word and revealed for what they are. They have been far too successful operating in the shadows for too long. The key thing about them I think is that they are not for free market capitalism, though they disguise what they do as being such. They are really for a rigged system that keeps them at the top. That indeed is what American capitalism has become, and it is why the banksters and the top one percent have all the money and have received virtually ALL the gains in our economy in the last 30 years.
And of course the first thoughts need to go to Trayvon’s family. It does seem strange that the much larger man George Zimmerman would have to use lethal force to defend himself against the unarmed Martin. It will be interesting to see where the investigation leads. It’s one of those where we need to keep both the small, personal story and details, and the larger story and national implications including the reach of ALEC, in our sights.

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About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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