BTS 12/3/10: US Deficit Hysteria; Haiti; Wikileaks and Russia

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On tonight’s program we begin with Thomas Ferguson and Robert Johnson from the Roosevelt Institute who have just written “A World Upside Down -- Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession” demonstrating that the current hysteria over deficits in the US is unjustified. Not only is social security not in danger nor in need of a fix, they say stimulating the economy with a program of public investment would substantially reduce public debts in the long run. They’ll join us to explain.

We then turn to Haiti, just fresh from an election after a year that has seen a catastrophic earthquake that devastated the population and killed the political class, a cholera epidemic and now an election. Michael Deibert has been visiting Haiti off and on for fifteen years and is the author of the book Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti. He notes the agonizingly slow pace of Haiti’s partners abroad to deliver aid to a country a county on its knees has been sobering for the callousness and cynicism that it has displayed.

And finally on tonight’s BTS, we haven’t ignored the WikiLeaks, but turn to the leaks that characterize Russia as a “mafia state” with Mike Urban of UC Santa Cruz. Mike’s new book Cultures of Power in Post-Communist Russia: An Analysis of Elite Political Discourse looks at the way Russian leaders from Gorbachev to Putin and Medvedev construct themselves with words as well as the reality they have presided over – an authoritarian state proclaiming itself a democracy.

In the final minutes tonight Alan Minsky will join Mike to speculate about the surprising FIFA announcement that Russia will host the 2018 World Cup.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Thomas Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author or coauthor of many books and articles, including "Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems" (University of Chicago Press). In 2007-8 He was an executive producer of Taxi to the Dark Side, the Oscar Winning Documentary produced and Directed by Alex Gibney.

2. Robert Johnson was previously a managing director at Soros Fund Management, where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. He served as chief economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire and before that as senior economist of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee under the leadership of Chairman Pete Domenici.

3. Michael Deibert was a Reuters correspondent in Port-au-Prince from 2001-2003. He is the author of Notes from the Last Testament: A Struggle for Haiti (Seven Stories Press). Michael Diebert writes on Latin America and the Caribbean for Newsday, the Miami Herald, The Village Voice, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Salon, The Guardian, and more.

4. Mike Urban is Professor of at UC Santa Cruz. His latest book is Cultures of Power in Post-Communist Russia (an analysis of Elite Political Discourse) Cambridge 2010. His other books, almost all reviewed here on BTS include Russia gets the Blues: Music, Culture, and Community in Unsettled Times, Cornell University Press, 2004, The Rebirth of Politics in Russia, Cambridge University Press, 1997, More Power to the Soviets: The Democratic Revolution in the USSR. Edward Elgar, 1990, and An Algebra of Soviet Power: Elite Circulation in the Belorussian Republic, 1966-¬86. Cambridge University Press, 1989.