Jeffrey Lichtenstein 
Member since Feb 25, 2011


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Re: “City to Layoff 125 Employees on Friday

@Awesomeberg
I don't want my taxes to go up either. I just refuse accept that the quality services that are crucial to my city, and the jobs of my friends, are going to be thrown away because big business wants even more profits. There are a small handful of EXTREMELY wealthy people who make decisions for these companies, companies that sit on Memphis land, benefit from a social wage paid by Memphis to its residents (subsidizing what the need to pay their workers), exploit Memphians and our natural environment on the cheep, and benefit from Memphis geography; AND YET don't pay their fair share of taxes. I'm a taxpayer, why should I have to pay if the big businesses who are doing a hell of a lot better than I am are given a free pass. This is the revenue problem: dog-eat-dog competition for working people and socialism for the rich.

Posted by Jeffrey Lichtenstein on 07/01/2011 at 12:47 PM

Re: “City to Layoff 125 Employees on Friday

I appreciate Chris's reasoned tone; in the crumbling state of things today, blustery hand-waving so often replaces a level headed discussion of facts.

Spending always out-paces inflation in a recession (and yes, with nearly 10% unemployment nationally, we are still in recession). Housing and manufactured goods prices are down (so core inflation is too), while the number of people requiring services is way up. Services like Medicare and unemployment insurance at the state and national level, but at the municipal level its services like fire and public works who clean up a growing number of abandoned properties and blighted-house fires, and police as more and more homeless folks pick jail over a night on the street. The trend doesn't turn around by cutting services, it gets worse; the problem isn't spending, it's the economy.

What IS the role of spending in a recession? There is a wealth of historical examples, including the U.S. in the 30's and the Asian financial crisis in the 90's, that show how fiscal hawkishness is anethma to recovery. In a weak precarious recovery, let alone in an ongoing recession (which is really the current situation) cutting the jobs and services that working people depend upon gouges consumer spending and tips even more folks over the edge into drowning debt, bankruptcy, even homelessness. Deficit spending isn't the bogyman the right wants us to think; the only negative impact it can have is raising interest rates, and that is far outweighed by the upward economic pull of increased employment if deficit-spending is used to put people back to work at good jobs, and provide adequate public services to free up discretionary consumer dollars. The most efficient bang for our buck is direct employment in divisions the provide public services. This can turn around the local economy, increase the quality of life of the city, and attract more folks to Memphis.

Yeah, there's an imbalance between revenue and spending, but who does cutting spending hurt, and who does not raising revenue benefit? A good public sanitation service, for instance, provides jobs as wells as service to everyone, include low-wage communities still reeling from the onset of the recession, who cannot afford fulls service from a private contractor. At the same time look at Multi-National corporations, like FedEx, IP, Krooger, Autozone, ServiceMaster and many others who are making profit hand over fist. The corporations are making money of the mack of Memphis, paying folks dirt wages, exploiting nearly non-existent environment protections, all the while they pay little or no taxes. Really, FedEx for instance, has been allowed to indefinitely extended its property tax abatement for over 30 years. Another example currently before city council is a proposed $45 million tax abatement for Kruger paper company in North Memphis, to make a measly 100 jobs with no claw-back provision. That same amount of money could be used to make twice as many jobs in direct employment and increase the city quality of life rather than decrease it with more pollution. The city isn't out of money, it give huge welfare tax breaks to corporations who don't pay their fare share, and if that weren't enough, it spends lavishly with its development projects to further subsidize big companies.

Tennessee and Memphis has some of the most regressive taxation in the country, which has some of the most regressive taxation of the industrialized west. Right now our national tax rates are lower than they have been in 100 years, and the wealthiest 400 people own as much as the poorest 150 million people combined, the wealth gap is bigger than it has ever been. The same is true in Memphis, the wealth gap is enormous, hundreds of thousands of people are hemmed in all around by poverty, poor services, and joblessness; in the midst of it all we face a government that toadies to rich elites, refusing to uphold its first and only responsibility, to serve the people.

Posted by Jeffrey Lichtenstein on 07/01/2011 at 12:27 PM

Re: “Barbara Ware and the Divided City Council

1) Barabara Swearingen-Ware is innocent until proven guilty; nonetheless she was suspended immediately upon indictment.

2) If councilperson Swearingen-Ware cedes her seat, she is NOT replaced by an election in district 7; she is replaced by council appointment. The replacement will therefore represent the interests of the council, and in no way reflect the interests of the constituency of District 7.

3) The particular interests of the council are, of course, divided, but because the first candidate to receive 7 council votes becomes the appointee, the current balance of power within the council (sans fair representation of D7) will necessarily perpetuate itself.

4) The charter is written to put the constituency of any person indicted in a catch 22, without representation if the seat is ceded, and without representation if it is not.

5) In Memphis, is it equally easy for an African American to earn for herself an indictment as it is for a white person?

Posted by Jeffrey Lichtenstein on 06/14/2011 at 11:26 AM

Re: “From Cairo to Memphis

I'm so sick of hearing all the same spin stories from the mainstream media. I'm glad someone is making sure to give the public a chance to keep themselves honestly informed.

Posted by Jeffrey Lichtenstein on 02/25/2011 at 8:20 AM
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