Catching up. . .

Posted: 9 August 2010 in Uncategorized
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I have some catching-up to do this Monday morning. Here’s a set of interesting links from the past few days that really deserve—but, alas, won’t get—their own posts:

• on the assassination of trade unionists around the world, especially in Colombia (the full survey)

Trade union rights continue to be infringed, in many cases with total impunity, and the repression of trade unionists goes on while governments fail to meet their responsibility to ensure that trade union rights are respected and that the people defending these rights are protected. In a number of countries, governments again showed that they are intent on keeping trade unions under their firm control.

• on the Gang of 40 and why their sharing some of their wealth is not good enough

Whether at an individual company or in the country at large, it is the feeling that we are all in it together that creates the basis for a truly vibrant economy and just society. Trickle-down alone won’t cut it.

• on university endowments financed by corporations with business before Congress

An endowed chair at the University of Hawaii honoring Senator Daniel K. Inouye, the Hawaii Democrat and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was financed in part by $100,000 from a cruise ship line that the senator helped with legislation allowing it to expand its American ports of call.

A program at South Carolina State University named for Representative James E. Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat and a key backer of legislation to promote new nuclear power plants, stands to benefit from donations by Fluor and Duke Energy, which want to build plants.

And an endowment at the University of Louisville intended as a tribute to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from a military contractor that later got a $12 million earmark sponsored by the senator.

• on why Americans work longer hours and have shorter vacations than Europeans

Look, if you’re in America, you have to pace yourself.

An economist friend thinks that Europeans a few years ago were starting to work more like Americans. But since the discrediting of the U.S. model, they’ve gone back to being Europeans.

Meanwhile, this August, in the shambles of that model, we’ll be working harder than before.

• on why the Left should oppose the ConDem budget cuts

It should be enough for us to agree that the cuts aren’t necessary, that they are being imposed as part of a political project to reduce the size of the welfare state, and that the only reason why the plethora of alternatives are not being explored is because of a lack of political will among the groups dominant in the British state.

• on why Obama has fallen short

This misplaced faith in the best and the brightest has not coalesced around national security, as in the JFK-LBJ urtext, but around domestic policy—especially in the economic team, whose high-handed machinations Alter chronicles in vivid detail. Contrary to some understandable suspicions on the left, Obama’s faith in that team has nothing to do with any particular affection for captains of finance (his own campaign donors included), or their financial institutions, or wealth. . .

But if Obama is not blinded by dollar signs, he suffers from a cultural class myopia. He’s a patsy for “glittering institutions that signified great achievement for a certain class of ambitious Americans.”

• on the relationship between literature and the social sciences

It seems that one would have to be a pretty narrow-minded epistemologist to hold that there is only one kind of knowledge, and that literature necessarily falls outside its bounds. . .within the framework of an anti-foundationalist epistemology, it seems reasonable enough to believe that literature has the potential of revealing important aspects of the social world.

• on Amitava Kumar’s new book, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb [ht: bn]

“Rightly or wrongly, I’m caught by the drama of the displaced provincial, the impoverished youth finding himself in the house of wealth,” Mr. Kumar continues. “He is using terrible violence to set fire to this palace of dreams but he is in a daze: a murderous thug who is a figure in the invisible machinations of people and plans that are larger than anything he can imagine.”

OK, now I can move on. . .

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