Social Democrats do well in European elections

In yesterday’s elections, the French Socialists (PS) and the German Social Democrats (SDP) did very well.  Both of these parties represent the center-left position.  And both of these parties lost the presidential elections during the last cycle.  The French President Nicolas Sarkozy heads the center-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel heads the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).  But the center-right parties took a beating yesterday, and this does not bode well for Sarkozy and Merkel.

In case you’re new to some of the terminology, the French Socialist Party is a democratic socialist party and therefore is occupying the same place on the political spectrum as the German Social Democratic Party.  Here at SDUSA, we consider the terms “social democrat” and “democratic socialist” to be the same thing.

In France, the Parti Socialiste took 39% of the vote in regional elections. The UMP collected only half that many with 20% of the total. Actually, the big story yesterday was that the National Front (which would equate to our Tea Party) got 12% of the vote, stealing votes away from the UMP. The Socialists are now well set for next year’s upcoming presidential election.

In Germany, a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Greens unseated the Christian Democrats in Baden-Württemberg. This is particularly painful for the CDU because they have held this state for 59 years!  And it’s a big day for the Greens, who gathered 24% of the vote and just barely edged out SPD who got 23%.  It looks like this will be the first time that the Greens will get to head a state government in Germany.  The coalition of Greens and Social Dems did well in other German states also.

Perhaps the Social Democrat-Green partnership is something we should consider here in the U.S.

Obama's leadership in the Tax Debates?

Over the last week I have been paying intense attention the issues surrounding  the Obama / Republican middle and upper class tax deal.  In the past I have  generally supported President Obama in such things as his  bail out of banks to save the economy and in his jettisoning of single payer health insurance because it  simply was not doable. In this debate my positions is  much closer to those of much of the political left. I think that there are several reasons for my change in attitude. First my knowledge of the economics of the earlier liquidity crisis was very weak. This fact when combined with  my liking for Obama and my dislike of Left “purism” a real tendency in much of  the left caused me to support Obama policies at that time. Since many economists still believe that Obama and his people saved the economy  I do not renounce my position. The same tendencies also were major factors in my support of the Obama health care bill. I thought that it was simply perverse for many in the left to reject a very imperfect health care bill in the name of a non existing perfect one. Another factor in my support of Obama has  been my general support of Barack Obama’s positions on foreign policy. I see nothing moral about throwing Afghanistan and Iraq to the friendly embrace of the Taliban and Al Qaeda theocracy and terrorism. I am very aware that the Karzai government is corrupt to its core but will a Taliban triumph in Afghanistan , the collapse of Iraq into anarchy, and using a domino theory analogy the triumph of Islamic theocracy over Pakistan and much of the Mid East be good for the peoples of those societies and America and humanity in general? I doubt it. However the resource drain is intense. Perhaps these wars are not winnable and it is time to cut and run. But if America does make a strategic retreat lets not make out that this will be the triumph of peace and love. It will be a triumph of evil and probably long term greater danger.

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Cambodian Workers Fired

by Jeff Ballinger

From Phnom Penh Post:  “…industry representatives have disputed the number of people fired and suspended after the strikes. GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo said yesterday that 38 workers were dismissed and 358 suspended, most of whom had since been  allowed to return to work. ‘Most if not all have been reinstated,’ he said.”
Whatever the true number is, the unrest over the summer underscores a huge problem with the “Better Factories” model promoted by the ILO and foreign donors and now being expanded to other countries.  In fact, the U.S. Dept. of Labor has underwritten “Better Work” in Nicaragua ($2 mil.) – praised by footwear/apparel industry association.

Nearly 800 Cambodian garment workers fired over strike
2010-12-03
By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Sixteen Cambodian factories producing clothing for big brands such as Adidas AG and Gap Inc have dismissed nearly 800 employees for taking part in a nationwide strike, a union leader said on Friday.

Unions were preparing to issue demands to the factories to reinstate the 799 sacked workers by Dec. 15 or face legal action and possibly more strikes, which could further disrupt a sector that is a big currency earner for the impoverished country.

“We will take action in accordance with the law and we are trying to avoid a strike,” Kong Athit, deputy president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), told Reuters.

“The government and the courts have already ordered that these workers be reinstated, so these dismissals are illegal,” added Kong Athit, whose union represents 40,000 workers.

The union said the factories that dismissed the workers produced clothing for major Western companies including Marks and Spencer Group PLC , Tesco PLC , H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB , Puma , Next Plc and Inditex , the world’s biggest clothing retailer and owner of Zara.

Those sacked were among the estimated 210,000 garment workers — about two-thirds of the sector’s workforce — from 95 factories who took part in the September strike to demand better working conditions and a wage increase to $93 a month from $56.

The strike was halted after three days when the government agreed to hold more talks to avoid damage to the industry, which is Cambodia’s third-largest foreign currency earner after agriculture and tourism.

Garments also provide a vital source of income for rural families, and the sector is credited with helping to reduce poverty in a country where about a third of the population live on less than $1 a day.

The country’s garment exports rose 12 percent in the first half of 2010 from a year earlier, hitting $1.25 billion, according to the Economic Institute of Cambodia, an independent think tank.

Worker disputes this year in China, mostly at foreign-owned factories, have raised questions over whether other low-cost Asian manufacturing centres would also have to pay higher wages as their workers became more assertive. (Editing by Martin Petty) ((prak.chanthul@thomsonreuters.com; +855 23 99 2102; Reuters Messaging: prak.chanthul.reuters.com@reuters.net)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, e-mail to news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com

The SDUSA Domestic Agenda for 2011 and 2012

Unlike most posts on the blog the following SDUSA Seven Point Domestic Agenda for 2011 and 2012 does represent the official position of the Social Democrats USA on the positions addressed.
Glenn King

On November 14, 2010 the National Committee of the Social Democrats USA adopted the following Introduction and Seven Point Domestic Agenda for 2011 and 2012.
Introduction
During the past year the Social Democrats USA has been at work rebuilding  mediums of communication as a result of its  2009 internal political crisis. Thus a new official web site called “Social Democracy for the 21st Century” was developed. New and improved discussion groups and the Socialist Currents blog also had to be developed. Work with the  medium of Face Book has also commenced. A National Convention was held on September 1 and  several important revisions to the SD Constitution have been made to make the constitution a more  effective and democratic document more in line with organizational realities of the SD.
Other important work has also been proceeding . Leaders such as Chairman Rick D’Loss have been reaching out to important members of the old pre-reformed organization. Members have participated in important events such as the  One Nation United rally in Washington DC.  Finally it must not be ignored that the two Co Chairs of the Social Democrats USA Rabbi Craig Miller and Rick D’loss both hold elected local offices in  New Jersey and Pennsylvania respectively. The Social Democrats USA is one of the very few socialist organizations in the nation with members who now hold elected political positions.  Thus this has been a busy and productive year for  the Social Democrats USA.

Serving Our Nation vs. Serving Ourselves

On this Veterans Day let me say thank you to everyone who has served in our military forces, willing to risk life and limb for the defense of our nation.  Let me also send out a hearty Semper Fi to all my fellow Marines in honor of yesterday’s 235th birthday of our beloved Corps.

The very notion that a person would be willing to sacrifice his life for his country is alien to most Americans.  Our nation is infected with a narcissism that is displayed by extreme consumerism— eating and drinking ourselves to death and maxing out our credit cards on every hot item that comes along.  It has no sense of the future or the past.  It has no sense of the world that exists outside the shell of the self-immersed.  It is visible in our major political parties, both of whom bow to Wall Street.  While being inherent in our human psyche, this narcissism is exacerbated by our capitalist economic system that teaches us that only material gain and personal security have merit.  Our religions, all of which teach us to love our neighbor as ourself, seem powerless to subdue it.  To the narcissist, there are no great causes to which one can, or should, lend himself.

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