Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Rebuilding The Public University: The U.C – What/Who’s It For?

In Budget Politics, California, Economic Planning, Economics, Education Reform, Higher Education, Politics, Politics of Policy, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy on December 14, 2010 at 11:21 am


With the U.C Regents’ recent 8% fee hike (on top of the 32% hike from the previous¬† year) and the more symbolic acceptance that the University of California is not a tuition-free school, we mark a turning point in the history of the once (and future?) greatest public university in the world. U.C Berkeley now joins the “50k club” once occupied solely by private universities.

This is as good a time as any to ask – where is the U.C going? Why is it going in the direction it is? And is there an alternative?

Because there may not be another time to ask.

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What’s Progressive?

In European Politics, History and Politics, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy on December 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Progressives seen in their native habitat, Chicago 1912


The political label “progressive” has been a rather tricky, protean word ever since its reintroduction in the 1990s. On the one hand, it was used by by people on the democratic left to escape the tainted label of “liberal,” find a more just-post-Cold-War-America-friendly self-description than “social democrat,” or to describe a desire for a politics that was more ambitious and militant than 60’s liberalism but without the craziness and dysfunctionality of the New Left. On the other hand, it was used by the increasingly dominant center-right of center-left parties to shield themselves from (largely accurate) accusations of selling out – the Democratic Leadership Council’s Progressive Policy institute in the U.S, or the Blairite think-tank Progress are two good examples of this chameleon-like behavior.

Now we are seeing the already-rickety Coalition government in the U.K throw around the term progressive as a political prophylactic when cutting social welfare, education, and any other form of government spending they can think of to the bone – it’s ok, it’s progressive! And ergo morally acceptable.

Some linguistic policing is badly needed here.

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Fiscal Policy By Dummies: A Progressive Review of Deficit Plans

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State on December 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm


Following the on-going drama of the Deficit Commission – which just adjourned without even voting on its own proposal, and which never came close to getting the necessary votes to trigger an up-or-down vote in the Senate – has been rather painful. Especially in light of the Republican takeover of the House and the ongoing dispute over extending the Bush tax cuts and raising the debt ceiling, the grip of austerity thinking seems paradoxically strong and weak at the same time, pervasive enough to be omnipresent within the media yet not actually persuasive enough to get anyone to vote for anything they dislike.

However, there is one point that needs to be cleared up – behind the banalities of “living within our means” and other balanced-budget platitudes, there is ideology at work. The budget is not just a technical issue, but a moral document – it is a choice between a high road or a low road to the future.

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A New Deal for California – What Now? (Finance and Green Economy)

In Budget Politics, California, Climate Change, Economic Planning, Economics, Environment, Liberalism, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Welfare State on December 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm


With the belated victory of Kamala Harris as Attorney General, the full results of the 2010 election are in for California. There many things that progressives can be proud of – a sweep of statewide offices, picking up another Assembly seat, defeating prop 23 and passing prop 25. On the other hand, there are also some major disappointments – the defeat of prop 19 (marijuana legalization), the defeat of prop 21 (a VLF to fund the state parks), the defeat of prop 24 (rolling back corporate tax breaks), and the passage of prop 26 (2/3rds requirement for fees). Prop 26 especially complicates what this victory means for California.

Indeed, our situation is a lot like the national picture after the 2008 elections – we have an executive who straddles the line between the left and right wings of the Democratic Party, a big legislative majority, but not the ability to break the fiscal deadlock and really be able to govern our state.

So where do we go from here?

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