Paul Nevins

Paul Nevins
Location
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Birthday
October 29
Bio
Paul Nevins is the author of "The Politics of Selfishness: How John Locke’s Legacy Is Paralyzing America "(Greenwood /Praeger/ABC-CLIO). The central thesis of this important and unconventional work is that the United States has begun to experience a number of profound, interrelated problems that are caused, both directly and indirectly, by the country's dogmatic and often unconscious adherence, collectively as a political culture and individually as Americans, to the political philosophy of John Locke. That ideology, which is the bedrock upon which the American liberal democracy has been founded, asserts that human beings are by nature solitary, aggrandizing individuals. Hence, preoccupation with the self in all of its manifestations and attributes - as opposed to the whole, the public interest - has become the primary focus by which political, economic and societal decisions are made. Consequently, the preferred form of social and political relationships with others, including the state as the organized expression of political society, is solely contractual and is designed primarily to protect private property in all of its forms. "The Politics of Selfishness" provides compelling historic and contemporary evidence that U.S. institutions, at all levels, are failing because of the country's uncritical embrace of the anti-social individualism which is John Locke’s legacy. Paul Nevins has been a trial attorney in private practice since 1982. He concentrates in public and private sector employment law and litigation, related civil rights and constitutional law claims, and contract claims. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Paul Nevins taught in the Boston Public Schools. While teaching, Mr. Nevins served as a member of the Executive Board of the Boston Teachers Union, Local 66, AFT/AFL-CIO. Paul Nevins served as a conscript in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970. In 1969, he was a founder and the first chairman of GIs for Peace at Fort Bliss, Texas.This was the first organization of active duty soldiers who publicly opposed the Vietnam War. Mr. Nevins received an A.B. Degree from Suffolk University, a Master of Arts Degree from New York University, and a Juris Doctor Degree from Suffolk University Law School. He lives and works in Boston.

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JANUARY 30, 2012 5:31PM

The GOP’s Assault Upon Economic Reality

Rate: 17 Flag

                               cross-posted at politicsofselfishness.com

           The evidence continues to mount that the GOP’s insistent demands for still further reductions in federal, state and local spending  have exacerbated and prolonged the current recession.  In response, advocates  for austerity measures have now begin to argue that demands  for increased government programs to lift the economy and to reign in abusive business practices are nothing less than an assault upon free enterprise itself.

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        Former New Hampshire U.S. Senator John Sununu is a case in point. In an   opinion column in today’s Boston Globe ( “Apple, not manufacturing, is America’s future,” January 30, 2011), Sununu showed that he is oblivious to the daily economic struggle of a majority of Americans who must grapple with high unemployment,  declining wages, mortgage foreclosures, lack of access to affordable medical insurance, loss of retirement savings and diminished  prospects for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.      

         In his column, Sununu argued that we should not lament the loss of manufacturing. In order to support the proposition that corporations like Apple represent the future for America, Sununu had to ignore all of the evidence to the contrary. Previously for example, Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher reported in the New York Times  (“How the U.S. Lost out on iPhone Work,” January 21, 2012) that nearly all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other assorted products sold by Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas, primarily in China by third-party vendors with  whom Apple contracts for services and products. 

         One facility alone, Foxconn, employed 230,000 workers, who often worked six days a week, in shifts that lasted 12 hours per day. More than a quarter of Foxconn’s work force was reported to live in company barracks; many workers earned less than $17 a day; and the intolerable working conditions within its facilities have led to suicides and explosions from aluminum dust that killed and injured scores of workers. By contrast, Apple employs only 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas.

        As a result of its exploitation of these workers, the New York Times article noted that Apple made a profit of $400,000 per each of it’s actual employees, a sum greater than that made  by Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil and Google.  In response to that data, one current Apple executive stated, We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries, We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.”

       Sununu’s enthusiasm for Apple’s business model is expansive:  “In just ten years, the market value of Apple has grown from $7 billion to over $400 billion. The return for mutual funds and pension funds owning the stock have been outstanding, and thousands of employees have earned financial security.” That enthusiasm, however, is not tempered by any recognition that, for millions of middle class Americans who do not directly own Apple stocks,  the stock market has been an unmitigated disaster.

         CNN News reported that, on September 29, 2008,  Dow Jones lost nearly 778 points, in the biggest single-day point loss ever, after the GOP House rejected the government's $700 billion bank bailout plan. The day's loss totaled approximately $1.2 trillion in market value, the first post-$1 trillion day ever recorded, according to the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000, the broadest measure of the stock market. As a result, many middle income investors lost their life savings and have never recovered.

         Apple’s predatory business practices and the out-sourcing of U.S. manufacturing must be viewed in the context of the American economy as a whole.  Numerous studies report that more than 47 million Americans, including 9 million children, do not have health insurance. A study by Harvard University Medical School in 2009 attributed that the lack of medical insurance to about 45,000 deaths per year in the U.S.
 
        Researchers for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2010 reported that 17.2 million households - or 14.5 % of all households in the United States - were "food insecure" and that in one-third of those households "normal eating patterns were disrupted." In 3.9 million of those households, children went hungry.

       As the real unemployment rate climbed to approximately 20 million Americans in 2011, another 2.6 million Americans, according to the Census Bureau, descended into poverty. Almost simultaneously, the World Bank observed that the United States had a higher level of income inequality than Canada, South Korean or any country in Europe with the exception of Turkey.

       In October of last year, the Internal Revenue Service and the Congressional Budget Office released findings which showed that the top 1% of the American population continued to receive a disproportionate share of the country's wealth. In 2009, the 1.4 million who belong to the top 1% made an average of $1 million dollars in 2009. Further, since 1979, the share of U.S. Income enjoyed by the top 1% has increased from 9.18% to 17.9% as of 2009, or more than the entire bottom half of the U.S. population.

       Almost simultaneously, Forbes magazine reported that, as of November, 2011, the four hundred richest Americans enjoyed a combined worth of $1.53 trillion, which figure had increased from $1.37 trillion over the previous year. Their combined wealth was thus approximately equivalent to the GDP of Canada.

        Sununu does correctly note a shortfall of trained U.S. works, including scientists and engineers. He, however, refuses to recognize that the same austerity measures that he and other GOP leaders have advocated have caused the lay-offs of thousands of public school teachers around the United States and forced state governments to cut back significantly their investments in pubic higher education.

       Today’s Republican Party has become an apologist  for an economic status-quo that is stacked against ordinary Americans The net effect of the extraordinary concentration of wealth and power has been that the decisions and predilections of fewer and fewer individuals now determine the outcomes in the American economy while the overwhelming majority of Americans have little ability to influence macro-economic trends or economic and political policies.

        In the alternate economic universe that so many GOP members inhabit,  the enormous wealth now enjoyed by a mere  1% of the population should be an object of public celebration rather than the focus of civic opprobrium or class envy. As Erasmus once observed, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”   

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Rated. That Apple article in the NY Times sure has legs, I'm beginning to think that it will be a contender for a Pulitzer. Sununu is so dreaming when he says not to worry. The sum total of all the design, product development and management jobs for the entire Apple product line is probably about 8,000. As to the other jobs on Apple's roster, drones at the Apple Store, oh, wait Sununu wouldn't begin to qualify for the positions, which probably start at $11.88 an hour...with benefits!
I can't have realistic economic discussions with Republicans anymore. One told me that US GDP has increased throughout the recession. Another told me that all the unemployed people would be able to get jobs if Gvt regulations didn't prevent them from becoming entrepreneurs. I asked him what these entrepreneurs would do? He said "anything. The sky is the limit." He used the example of somebody who makes beaded clothing with a "bedazzler" as somebody who could turn their life circumstances of homelessness around and become a multi-millionaire. I looked at him with amazement.

r
The far right knows exactly what they are doing. They care only about themselves. It IS a culture and class war.
The H.G.Wells story "The Country of the Blind" is a bit more realistic about human general attitudes towards somebody with superior vision. The generally persecute and martyr somebody who sees too well.
Sununu's enthusiasms are so revealing of what he considers "success"--a handful of corporate execs getting rich at expense of millions of other people. More and More I think of what we call "the economy" as an idol, a Golden Calf we are all supposed to worship, bow before, abase ourselves before, and gladly offer up more and more sacrifices to--inlcluding human sacrifices. Capitlaist idolatry is a very primitive, dehumanizng religion. [R]
"Sununu does correctly note a shortfall of trained U.S. works, including scientists and engineers."

And just how is cutting funds for education supposed to alleviate that problem?
@Jan
Indeed, just as Socrates or Jesus or Gandhi or MLK.
Baltimore aureole, to quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan, among others, "you are entitled to your opinions but not your own facts." Putting aside one's ideological blinders, the statistical cited was carefully cited in my posting.

The current prolonged recession tracks the history of Great depression: When governments adopt austerity measures, demand is further lowered. In the past four years, more than one hundred thousand public employees have been laid off. many of who had well-paying jobs. Their reduced ability to purchase goods and services - we are, after all, a consumption driven economy - further weakened demand. This weakness exacerbated the lack of consumption across the board for goods and services caused by the unemployment data I cited in my article.

Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, among other economists who are supporters of capitalism, also point to the current experience of Europe: There the OECD predicts that, because of austerity measures that have led to declines in public sector spending, their economies will contract further.

In times of economic crises, the wealthy - motivated by self-interest - hunker down and wait for better days. Those who have not fared well, alas, do not have that luxury. The only entity with the resources that can address the needs of those citizens who are innocent victims of an economic downturn is the government through the use of monetary and fiscal policy.

Public spending as John Maynard Keynes observed is essential to stimulate aggregate demand in production and labor markets. Of course, the multiplier for such stimulus works better in a relatively closed economy and there is always a diminution in our out-sourced "open" economy, because purchases of foreign imports are more likely to stimulate export-driven economies such as China.

Nevertheless, the experience of World war II is empirical evidence that Keynes was right. Apologists for laissez-faire economics limited government often argue, correctly, that the New Deal didn't end the Great Depression, World War II did. Precisely: the pre-war stimulus provided by the Roosevelt administration was too small to significantly stimulate the economy, given the magnitude of the economic contraction. In a similar vein, President Obama's stimulus was too timid and too small . But then, he had to deal with an obstructionist GOP Congress and try to explain his policies to a populace that is largely economically illiterate.

I am baffled by your comments. As you may have correctly deduced , I am one of the least likely to defend the current economic system. But I am persuaded that a thorough understanding of macro-economic theory and attention to reliable data are essential predicates for any serious discussion about economics. I am simply amazed that those who want to preserve the current economic system do not understand that, without substantial government intervention, the patient will expire.

Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich can provide no guidance. Any doubts to the contrary can be resolved by pondering the ruinous effects of the de-regulation policies advocated by their disciples, Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan
Baltimore aureole, to quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan, among others, "you are entitled to your opinions but not your own facts." Putting aside one's ideological blinders, the statistical cited was carefully cited in my posting.

The current prolonged recession tracks the history of Great depression: When governments adopt austerity measures, demand is further lowered. In the past four years, more than one hundred thousand public employees have been laid off. many of who had well-paying jobs. Their reduced ability to purchase goods and services - we are, after all, a consumption driven economy - further weakened demand. This weakness exacerbated the lack of consumption across the board for goods and services caused by the unemployment data I cited in my article.

Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, among other economists who are supporters of capitalism, also point to the current experience of Europe: There the OECD predicts that, because of austerity measures that have led to declines in public sector spending, their economies will contract further.

In times of economic crises, the wealthy - motivated by self-interest - hunker down and wait for better days. Those who have not fared well, alas, do not have that luxury. The only entity with the resources that can address the needs of those citizens who are innocent victims of an economic downturn is the government through the use of monetary and fiscal policy.

Public spending as John Maynard Keynes observed is essential to stimulate aggregate demand in production and labor markets. Of course, the multiplier for such stimulus works better in a relatively closed economy and there is always a diminution in our out-sourced "open" economy, because purchases of foreign imports are more likely to stimulate export-driven economies such as China.

Nevertheless, the experience of World war II is empirical evidence that Keynes was right. Apologists for laissez-faire economics limited government often argue, correctly, that the New Deal didn't end the Great Depression, World War II did. Precisely: the pre-war stimulus provided by the Roosevelt administration was too small to significantly stimulate the economy, given the magnitude of the economic contraction. In a similar vein, President Obama's stimulus was too timid and too small . But then, he had to deal with an obstructionist GOP Congress and try to explain his policies to a populace that is largely economically illiterate.

I am baffled by your comments. As you may have correctly deduced , I am one of the least likely to defend the current economic system. But I am persuaded that a thorough understanding of macro-economic theory and attention to reliable data are essential predicates for any serious discussion about economics. I am simply amazed that those who want to preserve the current economic system do not understand that, without substantial government intervention, the patient will expire.

Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich can provide no guidance. Any doubts to the contrary can be resolved by pondering the ruinous effects of the de-regulation policies advocated by their disciples, Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan
Well, under these circumstances the GOP should be losing more and more votes. But the Red states will still vote GOP. In the minds of many working class conservatives profligate spending on cushy pensions for public service employees, excessive government spending on things like Solyndra or 16 dollar muffins, etc. is as much of a problem as the Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy. They don't believe that more government spending, fiscal stimulus, is the answer. The present political campaigns will be venues for further debate on these issues, so, let's see what happens.

Two other points. The top 400 individuals who have a net worth as large as Canada's GDP. I don't know if millions of voters will be really outraged by this. After all, these uber-wealthy people are not personally consuming that wealth. That capital has to be invested. If, recently, because of the decadence of the financial industry, that capital is invested unprofitably, in financial shenanigans like derivatives, default swaps via insurance agencies, collateralized debt obligations, etc. then it is a political contest to educate the public on the tremendous destructiveness to the economy as a result of those insane private investments. The Democrats must convince the voters that a trillion dollars of that capital would be more productively disposed of by the government. Good luck on that. And, as far as cuts to education funding go...how about admitting that there are multitudes of C and D grade students in the system who are uneducable. Cutting them off is just prudent. Fund the A and B students and get rid of the mediocrities and failures. Don't blame education underfunding...blame the laziness and incompetence and lack of motivation of the bottom half of the nationwide student body.
Thanks for shining a light on the issue of Republican inability to tell the truth about anything. Congrats on a well earned EP, too.
Great piece (alas).
Paul to quote you, and others, "you are entitled to your opinions but not your own facts."

But then, he had to deal with an obstructionist GOP Congress and try to explain his policies to a populace that is largely economically illiterate.

That would be great if it wasn't a lie. When Obama took office he had absolute control over both houses of Congress. He needed not 1 GOP vote to pass anything. The fact that he couldn't get anything done is because the Dems know he is full of crap and even they wouldn't vote for what he wanted without bribes.

Then I like you position that the masses are so stupid we don't know what is good for us. I assume you figure you are part of the elite class that knows better and should take care of us "largely economically illiterate." Only in Congress can you raise the amount given to something from $1 million to $1.5 million and call that a cut because you wanted it to go to $2 million so you claim you saved half a million dollars.

As for Apple. You claim that the workers who make their items make $17 a day. Let's use that number. If you took 230,000 workers and increased their wage to say $100 a day what would the cost of an iPhone be? It would be so great that after a couple days of production they would have so many phones laying around, that nobody could afford, that they would lay off the 230,000. They wouldn't need any more phones made. So now you wouldn't have the 230,000 jobs but you wouldn't have an iPhone either.
I've said it for years: Republicans are masters at repeating fallacies over and over again in hopes that people will eventually start believing the lies. They believe that saying something is so, makes it so. Also, I find it exceedingly offensive the way they trot out the red herring of "illegal immigration" during election years, and use it to demonize Latinos/Hispanics in general. How is it that Hispanics (homegrown, born in the U.S.A, and not immigrants) make up a small percentage of the U.S. population, but have a higher unemployment rate than the national average? Would someone please explain that to me? Count me among them, too.
The backbone of the American Economic Consumer System is the vast labor class and solid middle class. As the labor class descends into poverty it will continue to erode the middle class. The poor do not access or can afford doctors, lawyers, bankers and consumer goods like Apple resulting in the decline of the upper middle class. What will be left are the very rich and the poor.

Then this great consumer nation will go the way of the dodo because there will be no consumers left to make Apple and their stock holders rich. I call it trickle up economics.