Obama Speech, Detroit, McDonald’s

by Chris Sturr | July 26, 2013

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(1) Obama’s Knox College Speech:  Today’s post will be brief, because it’s Friday afternoon. These are some items that I’ve been meaning to get off my desktop and onto the blog.  Essential reading on Obama’s speech on Wednesday at Knox College:  Michael Hudson’s takedown, posted yesterday on Naked Capitalism: Michael Hudson Shreds Obama’s Orwellian Speech on Middle Class Prosperity.  (Speaking of Naked Capitalism, they ran our interview with Bob Pollin, Beyond Growth and Debt, on Monday, here. Nice to see comments on a D&S article (though some from the NC denizens were a bit loopy–I wish Bob would respond to some of the criticisms people raised, though other NC folks did a good job responding); we will soon have comment capacity on our website for articles, not just for blog posts.) Fun fact about Knox College: its president is former D&S collective member (current D&S Associate) Teresa Amott.

(2) Detroit:  Amy Goodman interviewed Rick Wolff on Democracy Now!, talking about Detroit, which as they pointed out, Obama didn’t mention in his Knox College speech.  Rick had a piece on Detroit in the GuardianDetroit’s Decline Is a Distinctively Capitalist Failure. Great piece.

And Democracy Now! was promoting a piece Greg Palast did for them last year on how the Romneys (through one of Ann Romney’s not-so-blind trusts) profited from the bailout of the auto industry, to the tune of millions. Here’s the video;  here’s the Nation article, Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza.

EPI’s Monique Morrissey did a good job on yesterday’s On Point from WBUR talking about Detroit’s pensioners; she was particularly forceful on the point that the politicians and businessmen who want to slash pensions tend to overinflate the estimates of pension shortfalls.

Which relates to this truly shocking story, which I heard about from Bill Black, but was happy to see on Naked Capitalism this morning.  Bill sent around this video of former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner, who is now head of something called the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago (basically a bunch of CEOs), in which (around the 47:00 mark) he admits that he and his CEO cronies badgered the rating agencies to lower the ratings on Chicago’s municipal bonds, as a way of putting pressure on politicians to slash pensions.  The NC piece on this is here. I think this is potentially explosive.

Last but not least on the topic of Detroit’s bankruptcy, there’s a group called Detroit Debt Moratorium that looks like it’s doing good work (hat-tip Darwin B-G), and that’s using part of our May/June 2012 cover art (designed by yours truly) on its website and in a PowerPoint presentation on Detroit’s debt, Make the Banks Pay.

(3) McDonald’s:  The fast-food giant is getting heat for having partnered with Visa to put out a somewhat condescending budgeting curriculum for its employees. What is great about the program is that it reveals that it would be nearly impossible to get by as a McDonald’s worker, even if you have a second job (which the budget admits you’d have to).  It was reported on all over, but here’s a piece from The Gothamist.  There is a website called Low Pay Is Not Okay (I don’t know who’s behind it–unions maybe?) that has been spearheading the campaign to embarrass McDonald’s for its budget curriculum, and they have put out a funny Youtube video called McBudgeting. My favorite part is where they mock the fact that McDonald’s/Visa don’t include anything for transportation in the budget, to which they respond: “I’ll just ride my unicorn to work!” But there’s a a truly hilarious anime-style video making fun of the McBudget. Watch for the part toward the end where they attack Ronald McDonald.

That’s it for now. –Chris Sturr

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