“Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Dream Today”
Hedrick Smith covered Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement of the 1960s at racial hotpots lsuch as Birmingham and Albany, Ga., and at the March on Washington. In this lecture, he tells personal recollections of Dr. King and relates the lessons of the civil righrts movement and other grass roots movements of the 1960s and ’70s, to America’s current problems of gaping income inequalities and a polarized political system beholden to wealthy special interests.
As given upon the occasion of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 20, 2014
Congressional Republicans like to talk about creating jobs and growing the economy. With the government shutdown and rigid spending cuts, however, Congress created a fiscal drag that cost the economy a full percentage point of economic growth in 2013.
Now, Congressional Republicans are again digging in their heels against measures that would ramp up the economy and generate jobs. It’s time for Congress to take a refresher course in growth economics — the economic forces and programs that power U.S. growth.
As President Barack Obama barnstorms the country, he should be making the argument that it is not only fair, but smart growth economics to raise the minimum wage, extend unemployment benefits and reduce income inequality. These steps will help accelerate economic recovery this year above its anemic 1.9 percent growth rate in 2013.
As first publish by the Los Angeles Times on January 7, 2014.
By Hedrick Smith
The narrowly approved contract agreement between Boeing and its Washington state workforce will be hailed by some as a victory for the canny, hardball brinkmanship of Boeing’s management and the knuckle-under economic pragmatism of the International Machinists Union.
But the steep cutbacks in retirement and health benefits that tens of thousands of Boeing workers were forced to swallow have far larger implications for middle-class America.
Boeing’s stingy treatment of its highly skilled workforce offers a vivid example of how America’s new economy has created gaping economic inequalities and steadily squeezed the economic life out of the U.S. middle class over the last three decades, even as corporate profits and CEO pay have skyrocketed.
Boeing’s case epitomizes that sharp economic divide. For just as the company was wringing concessions from its workers, its board of directors approved a 50% increase in the company’s stock dividend and a $10-billion stock buyback that will richly reward investors and executives who get paid in Boeing shares.
The political battlefield of the current government shutdown looks a lot like the last big shutdown of 1995. But major changes within the Republican Party in Congress — a weaker leadership, the demise of moderates and two decades of gerrymandering — could make this year’s endgame far harder.
Then as now, a rebellious Republican Congress used a budget bill to set up a deliberate confrontation with a Democratic president over spending priorities. GOP militants and radicals in the House – today’s wing nuts — bet that gridlock, disarray and the embarrassment of a shutdown would force the White House to give in.