Commentary

America's failure to solve the continuing mortgage crisis is the most serious lapse in the aftermath of the 2008 subprime meltdown. Several decades of increased homeownership rates in working-class and minority communities have been wiped out. Most homeowners who lost equity, or their homes, were not speculators but innocent bystanders caught in the downdraft of the housing prices that followed.

| |

The upheavals coming out of Washington are important and interesting in themselves.Supreme Court decisions about gay marriage, voting rights and affirmative action, the president's global warming initiative and the NSA snooping hoo-ha affect all of us. The stock market's downward slide and continuing economic insecurity are equally compelling.

|

Financial markets exist to move capital from investors to users, and the value of the financial markets should be determined by their efficiency in intermediating these flows of capital. Unregulated markets are chronically inefficient using this standard and cost the economy enormous amounts each year, creating stresses to the system that make systemic crises inevitable.
 

In his much-anticipated speech on climate change, President Obama proposed smart, modest policies that would help decrease greenhouse gas emissions through support for renewable energy development and increased energy efficiency measures, prepare the country for the climate change that is already occurring, and lead international climate efforts, including phasing out fossil fuel subsides and stopping funding for new coal plants overseas.

At an impromptu confab on the stoop yesterday, one of my favorite neighbors updated me on his daughter, a 27-year-old who graduated from law school with sterling grades. A year later, she is still looking for work. The family is white. I nodded my head in concern.  Like many of her peers, she feels an ominous future, where the bottom is falling out. The economy is in a terrible, indefinite convulsion, and the rules of engagement no longer hold. Things are falling apart.

Five Supreme Court Justices just rolled back the most effective civil rights provision in our nation's history. What should we do now?

One option is to declare "mission accomplished" and forget about race in politics.

That, however, will not work. Although we have made amazing progress in the past fifty years, too many state and local politicians still maintain power by manipulating election rules.

Q. How would you summarize the decision in a single sentence?

A. The court effectively rolled back an important provision of the Voting Rights Act, ruling that the act’s formula requiring federal preapproval of election changes for some states but not others was outdated because it was based on data from the 1960s and ’70s.

Q. Did anything in in it — or in the justices’ votes — surprise you?

A. I was not surprised by the votes of the particular justices.

I spent the last couple of days at Netroots Nation, and it was one impressive gathering. Netroots is highly professional in how it's organized and wonderfully amateur in its inclusiveness. Most of this year's attendees were first-timers, including me.

|

We are still waiting for a decision about the fate of the Voting Rights Act, but today the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in another voting rights case.

In today's case, the Court ruled in favor of those who support voter access. Arizona must accept federal voter registration forms--even those federal forms that do not comply with Arizona's restrictive proof-of-citizenship requirements. The opinion was written by Justice Scalia, who stated in February that the renewal of the Voting Rights Act was motivated by "racial entitlement."

I remember a time when liberals were the people who used government as a democratic counterweight to the abuses of capitalism, and conservatives were those close to big business who wanted to limit government. Liberals also recognized, with the Framers of the Constitution, that government had to be strong enough to protect the rights of the weak. Conservatives didn't like the power of the state, but were fine with concentrated private power.

|
Huffington Post
|