WIN Week In Review January 11-13, 2008
By Doug Cunningham
As the mainstream corporate media and political pundits were busy writing off her candidacy as so 20th century contrasted with Barack Obama’s supposed lock on the future , Senator Hillary Clinton was busy coming back to win the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary. In her New Hampshire victory speech Clinton talked about the struggle of working families in Bush’s economy.
[Clinton]: “All over our country people have lost their homes to foreclosures, men and women who work day and night but can’t pay the bills, and hope they don’t get sick because they can’t afford health insurance.”
The financial markets were supposed to be happy. In a speech yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated that worries over a U.S. recession outweighed inflation fears, so the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates at its next meeting, Jan. 29–30. Lower interest rates translate to more cash flow in the economy.
After the rockiest economic start to a new year in memory—skyrocketing oil prices, plummeting job numbers, the ongoing mortgage crisis—Bernanke’s unambiguous comments seemed like just the tonic the nation needed.
Maybe not. Never mind that the Dow Jones has dropped by more than 250 points by midafternoon today. Reflecting on Bernanke’s remarks, Bill Wheaton, an economics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told NPR yesterday that the most notable part of Bernanke’s speech was the speech itself. According to Wheaton, Federal Reserve chiefs give such public statements as a way to get ahead of worse news—news based on data not yet released that the Fed knows is coming.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA’s) foot-dragging on developing new mine safety rules mandated by the 2006 MINER Act and other legislation has caught up with it. Now, the agency is begging for help.
Already under fire for missing a Dec. 15 deadline to issue new rules for better trained mine rescue teams, MSHA has turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to plead for volunteers to help them meet upcoming rule-making deadlines, according to BNA’s Daily Labor Report (subscription required).
Our friends at the Alliance for Retired Americans send us this.
Big drug companies remain cheerful about their election-year fate. Last week, Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan claimed that more than 50 percent of the American public has a favorable opinion of the pharmaceutical industry and that efforts to let Medicare negotiate drug prices have “died down” because seniors are so satisfied with the Part D prescription drug benefit.
However, a Harris Interactive poll conducted in October found that oil and drug companies tied at 53 percent, as the industries most needing additional regulation. Only 11 percent of respondents believe the pharmaceutical industry is “generally honest and trustworthy.”
There are two new developments on the writers’ strike front.
A second large independent movie company has broken ranks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and reached an agreement with the Writers Guild of America. Also, the faculty at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) has severely criticized one of its members for crossing the writers’ picket lines to appear on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
The New York Times reports this morning that the Weinstein Co., one of Hollywood’s largest independent film companies, reached an agreement similar to the one between United Artists and the writers earlier this week.
As Susan Faludi detailed in Backlash, the 1980s conservative revolt against the feminist movement quickly permeated popular culture—the movies we watched, the ads we were fed—reinforcing the sorry stereotypes the women’s movement sought so hard to diffuse.
Those stereotypes—and outright misogyny—still persist, and the traditional media often is too eager to perpetuate them. One such theme recently has revolved around the “opt-ing out” trend, in which highly educated women in their thirties are said to be leaving high-profile jobs in law, business and medicine to take care of children and parents.
Boushey shows that the number of women leaving jobs to take care of children has decreased dramatically over the past two decades. She points to changes in the labor market, not children, as a cause for somewhat lower rates of women in the workplace more recently.
Good thing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wasn’t around during the American Revolution. Instead of “The British are coming,” the cry would be:
The populists are coming. The populists are coming!
Amusing as it is to imagine Chamber President Tom Donohue riding bareback through the night, lantern in hand, in support of the colonies’ British overlords, it seems the Chamber really does have its legal briefs in a ruffle over presidential candidates who are challenging the way Big Business calls the shots in this nation.