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President Joe Biden and the capitalist narrative | Ticker VIEWS

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US President Joe Biden is redefining American capitalism with sweeping new legislation. Opinion piece by Bruce Wolpe

The big news last week was the near-completion of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The response to Russia-based cyber attacks on American infrastructure and businesses also made headlines.

THE LATEST ON WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE U.S PRESIDENT

President Biden met with civil rights leaders to discuss advancing the prospects of legislation to protect the most fundamental right in a democracy: the right to vote.

But in an 18-minute event in the White House on Friday, with leaders from his Cabinet and top regulatory agencies present, President Biden laid out what are perhaps the most sweeping initiatives in a century.

The changes aimed redefine the rules of the road for America’s economy by promoting competition across American business, enterprise and services.

Lower prices, and increased wages

Biden signed an Executive order outlining 72 initiatives that would, in his words, “Lower prices, to increase wages, and to take another critical step toward an economy that works for everybody.”

Biden gave marching orders to all the affected agencies of government to examine the state of commerce and consumer protection in their jurisdiction. The orders will also promote competition and benefits for working people and consumers.

Biden invoked both Roosevelt Presidents, who both established the framework of the antitrust laws in the United State and reformed American capitalism to save the country during the Great Depression.

“Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want.  And for too many Americans, that means accepting a bad deal for things that you can’t go without,” said the president.

“Let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism; it’s exploitation.”

Us president joe biden

The Biden initiative addresses health care such as prescription drug prices and internet access 

It will also address pricing, interstate labor mobility, transport prices and fees, bank mergers and more opportunities for small farmers.

On Big Tech, Biden gave explicit direction to the Federal Trade Commission to address competition issues in the sector.

This program breaks with past practice. Under President Obama, far-reaching economic sand policy reform was central. Especially the passage of Obamacare, Wall Street reform, and trying to enact sweeping energy and climate legislation. 

This is broader and deeper: a mandate to all the arms of the government to act now – early in this presidency – to implement policy reforms that will drive more competitiveness. 

“Fair competition is was what made America the wealthiest, most innovative nation in history.  That’s why people come here to invent things and start new businesses.”

President joe Biden

“In the competition against China and other nations of the 21st century, let’s show that American democracy and the American people can truly out-compete anyone. Because I know that just given half a chance, the American people will never, ever, ever let their country down. Imagine if we give everyone a full and fair chance. That’s what this is all about.”

Biden’s presidency is already marked by success on the pandemic and economic recovery. His programs for infrastructure, education, health care, child support are all in the balance in Congress right now. 

But these reforms to American capitalism will also define Biden’s legacy as president.

Read more by Bruce Wolpe on Ticker NEWS here.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

Business

The world’s most locked down city is free but is re-entry anxiety hitting Melbourne? | ticker VIEWS

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Melbourne was once the world’s most liveable city. It appears that Covid-19 agrees, as the city recently ended its sixth lockdown

Victorians have been isolated for 262 days. It’s a grim statistic. In fact, it makes Melbourne the world’s most locked down city.

Unsurprisingly, Victoria is also the state with Australia’s highest number of Covid-19 infections (over 73,100), and deaths (1,005).

During lockdown, people began smiling through their face masks as they greeted passers-by on their daily walks. Cupboards were cleaned, old clothes were thrown out, and alcohol consumption was rife.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews put it bluntly, “these are shitty choices”.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews

But on Friday, restaurants popped open their first bottles of champagne in months; and people left their homes outside of curfew hours. These are the things that weren’t allowed just days ago, under the state’s strict stay-at-home orders.

But for some, the mental health toll of being locked down for such a long time is hitting home.

Ticker’s own Dr Kieran Kennedy says re-entry anxiety are “feelings of uncertainty, fear and anxiety around pandemic restrictions lowering”.

Psychiatrists believe re-entry anxiety is characterised by a major period of change.

What can help?

There are a range of techniques that are clinically proven to reduce anxiety during periods of change.

  • acknowledge it
  • take it slow
  • put a simple routine or structure in place
  • plan steps to get back outside
  • look after yourself
  • talk to people
  • recognise the symptoms.

As Melbourne, and the world opens back up, there’s one word that comes to mind for me: balance.

The shadow pandemic

Australia has recently made the shift from a Covid-zero and lockdown mentality, to living with the virus.

Other countries have already adopted this approach, like the United Kingdom, where case numbers are spiking, and smaller nations like Singapore.

“We need to update our mindsets. We should respect Covid-19, but we must not be paralysed by fear.”

SINGAPORE’s PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG

Some places are still working towards Covid-zero, including China, which was once the epicentre of the virus.

But as countries begin to emerge from the height of the pandemic, the mental health impacts are also coming to light.

LifeLine—a mental health support service—reported its busiest days in its 57-year history. Calls have reportedly increased by 40 per cent in recent months.

“Just two years ago we were averaging under 2,500 calls a day,” the company’s chair, John Brigden said.

You can almost feel these impacts in Melbourne. From businesses with a ‘for lease’ sticker splashed across their front windows, or for me, the reluctance of jumping straight into a weekend of socialising.

“Today we are regularly seeing more than 3,500—a 40 per cent increase.”

Lifeline chair John Brogden.

Our health experts are telling us that it isn’t the end either.

Professor Adrian Esterman is a former epidemiologist with the World Health Organisation. He says there are a “host of potential viruses” that may cause the next pandemic in our lifetime.

It’s important to acknowledge this, because we are not immune to disasters or change. The world is a complex place.

Importantly, there’s no race to get back to anything. Yes, restrictions have eased but for some, the time to adjust may take a little longer.

I’m not trying to suppress anyone’s feeling of excitement, rather, just shine a light on the perils of re-entry.

Back to reality

As cities bounce back from an incredibly devastating and dark period, I’m having different conversations with my peers.

We’re talking more about our mental health—the harsh toll of being isolated from the things that we love.

But moving back into a ‘normal’ routine—with social and community commitments—isn’t easy.

In fact, research shows that sudden changes can lead to tiredness, stress and irritability—the term known as re-entry anxiety.

Above all, it can lead to unease. We’ve all changed our priorities and daily activities for well over a year, it’s bound to affect our recovery.

Picnics are back, as people around the world celebrate ‘freedom day’.

For me, I wonder what the world will look like in a month, and years to come.

I’m not in any hurry to rush back to ‘normal’ because our entire sense of normality has changed.

I think it’s been nice to strip life back, and appreciate the smaller things—a walk on the beach; dinner at the table; or connecting with an old relative.

However, I appreciate that the world moves fast, and people are keen to suppress these recent memories.

As people make reservations; gather outdoors, and see their friends; it’s time to enjoy these freedoms—at our own pace.

But remember, there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you are struggling—short, or long-term.

If you, or someone you know needs help, please contact your local helpline.

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Climate

Leaders convene for the ‘Global Race To Zero Summit’ | ticker VIEWS

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As the global climate conversation heats up, leader’s prepare to convene in a month of historical talks

On Ticker News this week, Holly Stearnes and Scott Hamilton spoke with the Chief Executive of the Smart Energy Council, John Grimes. We delve into the Global Race To Zero Summit on 20-21 October.

The virtual summit will host thirty climate action leaders from around the world, giving all global perspectives. 

Climate change conversation

Global warming and climate change has been an ongoing conversation for world leaders for decades. However, it’s not until now that the conversation has reached a boiling point.

The climate scientists have said there is no more time, no more political debates, serious action needs to be taken now.

In Australia, Former Prime Minister John Howard committed Australia to put a trading emissions trading scheme.

 ‘Stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will be difficult, but not impossible. We do not have to sacrifice our economic prosperity to tackle the problem.”

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard

“I will also be announcing a ‘cap and trade emissions trading system that will help Australia substantially lower our domestic greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost.” 

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard

“Sadly, Australia and leaders around the world failed to heed these warnings. Global greenhouse emissions have continued to sky-rocket and we are now experiencing the existential threat of dangerous climate change.”

– Scott Hamilton, Ticker CLIMATE

However, as long as the climate debate has continued, there are always two sides to the argument. The things that are most damaging to our planet, also financially and economically support thousands of people and livelihoods.

Climate Wars

As the COP-26 climate event approaches at a rapid pace, Australian lawmakers are struggling to reach an agreement over net-zero targets. The Nationals have continued to withhold their support for a net-zero plan.

As the world transitions away from coal, Australia seems reluctant to consider a future without it. Country coal towns and the Australian economy rely heavily on the coal industry. However, it is crucial that Australia now paves its way in a new direction.

The coal industry gives thousands of Australians jobs, but when the rest of the world moves away from coal, Australia’s exporting opportunities will no longer be there.

That’s why it’s essential to create a plan, so people are not left in dead-end industries and we’re in line with the rest of the world in tackling climate change.

John Grimes is the Chief Executive of the Smart Energy Council, the independent, not-for-profit body for the Australian smart energy industry thinks the Morrison will be dragged “kicking and screaming” to committing to net-zero target by 2050 at the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow.

“That’s [net-zero by 2050] is the bare minimum.”

– John Grimes, CEO, Smart Energy Council

https://twitter.com/TurnbullMalcolm/status/1449216364242112516

Global Race To Zero Summit

This will be one of the biggest virtual climate events in 2021.

The Summit will explore the opportunities that emerge from taking action on climate change and provide a clear pathway forward for governments, citizens, and companies.

Taking place just 10 days before the G20 meeting in Rome, on 30-31 of October, and in the lead up to the critical COP26 meeting in Glasgow from 31 October–12 November, this event will be instrumental in influencing ambitious global action.

Insert video promo: Global Race to Zero Summit – We Demand Change

Register here for free: https://t.co/3X4J0UdMag

https://twitter.com/StarScientific_/status/1448517960096628739

https://twitter.com/SDHamiltonVIC/status/1449547035288358914

 

Watch the full episode here: https://tickeroriginals.co/2021/10/18/the-race-to-zero/

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Ticker Views

How well are America’s governing institutions holding up? | ticker VIEWS

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This week, two branches of the government of the United States, as established by the Constitution of the United States, face clear and present dangers – actions of contempt – that threaten the rule of law in the United States

Contempt challenges for congress and the supreme court

The House of Representatives will begin the process of punishing, by seeking criminal prosecution, a man named Stephen Bannon, a former aide to President Donald Trump who continued to serve as an unofficial advisor in the last years of Trump’s term.

Bannon was with Trump and in conversations with Trump in the days leading up to the deadly insurrection on January 6, whose purpose was to stop the certification by Congress of the 2020 presidential election and the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden, who won the election.

BRUCE WOLPE ON Former Trump Aide Steve Bannon is under fire for not cooperating with the investigation in the January 6 capitol riots

The House of Representatives has established a Select Committee to investigate all aspects of the insurrection:  what happened, who was responsible, what plans were in place to protect the Capitol, what was the chain of command and steps taken to send forces to put down the violence and clear the Capitol.

The Select Committee also wants to know what the President did that day, who he talked with and what was said, what decisions were made, what his intentions were. Both the Vice President and the Speaker of the House – the next officials in the line of succession to the President – were targets of the mob.

Bannon’s testimony is crucial to understanding the events of that day and what Trump did that day

Bannon is refusing to testify, citing orders from Trump that he not cooperate, with Trump citing “executive privilege”: the ability of a president to shield officials and documents from investigation.

But the United States has but one president at a time. The only president who can assert executive privilege is the one in the Oval Office. And President Biden has waived any assertion of executive privilege for the purposes of the Select Committee’s work.

Bannon is happy to talk to the media, and to authors of books about Trump, and is free to give them his account of what he knows of what Trump was doing to overturn the election. But he will not comply with a subpoena from the House Select Committee to give evidence.

The Select Committee will find Bannon in contempt for refusing to testify. The House will vote a resolution seeking action by the Justice Department to enforce the Committee’s subpoena to Bannon through a criminal prosecution for his contempt. 

Why is this important?

Under the Constitution, the Congress is a co-equal branch of government, equal in stature to the Executive. Congress’ constitutional responsibility is to ensure that the Executive Branch conducts its business in conformity with the laws Congress has passed.

If Congress cannot oversee activities by Executive Branch officials and those who engage with it, Congress cannot fulfil its duties, meaning that there is no check and balance on what the president does.

With only a handful of exceptions, Republicans will vote against this contempt proceeding. Which means they are voting to permanently weaken the Congress with respect to the President.

Which means that, should Republicans take control of the House, there will be a precedent for their oversight work to be stonewalled. Which means that presidential abuses of power can easily be beyond the reach of the rule of law under the Constitution.

United States Supreme Court Building

The Supreme Court will receive an urgent appeal from the Department of Justice, asking to overturn a lower court decision that removed an injunction on the new abortion law of Texas. That law bans abortions after 6 weeks and enables any citizen to sue – and get a $10,000 bounty if successful – anyone who provides an abortion or assists in an abortion (including anyone who drives a woman to a health clinic for an abortion that is illegal under the Texas law).

The Texas statute on its face is plainly, inescapably unconstitutional under landmark Supreme Court decisions in 1973 and 1992 that established abortion as a woman’s right to so choose under the Constitution. As the New York Times explains,

Supreme Court precedents prohibit states from banning abortion before fetal viability, the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, or about 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. That makes the Texas law unconstitutional under the controlling precedents.

The unconstitutionality of the Texas law could not be plainer. 

In addition, it is a tenet of jurisprudence that judges be guided by the doctrine of stare decisis. A legal policy unit at Cornell Law School describes the doctrine:

Stare decisis is Latin for “to stand by things decided.”  In short, it is the doctrine of precedent.

Courts cite to stare decisis when an issue has been previously brought to the court and a ruling already issued. According to the Supreme Court, stare decisis “promotes the evenhanded, predictable, and consistent development of legal principles, fosters reliance on judicial decisions, and contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the judicial process.” In practice, the Supreme Court will usually defer to its previous decisions even if the soundness of the decision is in doubt.

Trump appointed three justices to the Court during his term, giving the Court a solid conservative majority

All were selected with the belief that they could – and likely would – vote to overturn Roe v Wade, the bedrock abortion rights decision. In the hyper-intensive atmosphere involving the confirmations of now-Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Comey Barrett, they all pledged respect for stare decisis.

We are about to fund out, as the Supreme Court considers the Texas case, and also in December a Mississippi case outlawing abortion after 15 weeks, if this Supreme Court will overturn abortion rights. 

And we will therefore find out whether this Supreme Court also has contempt for the rule of law.

These challenges test how well America’s governing institutions are holding up under the immense strains of the Trump presidency. And how strong governance truly is in the US right now.

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