Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig (@ThinkwingRadio) is now on Wednesdays at 11AM (CT) on KPFT-HD2, Houston’s Community Station. You can also hear the show:
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Welcome to Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig where we discuss local, state, national, and international stories. My co-host and show editor is Andrew Ferguson.
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For the purposes of this show, I operate on two mottoes:
- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
POSSIBLE TOPICS: VOTETEXAS.GOV—Voter Information; What is the Texas ‘trigger law?’; ‘It’s just got to stop’ | Heights residents say 11th Street bike lanes will push traffic into neighborhoods; Community continues fight to clean up toxic railroad site being blamed for ‘cancer clusters’; Rising temperatures this weekend could put strain on Texas power grid; Your Kids Can Handle Dangerous Ideas; The Revolt of the College-Educated Working Class; The federal minimum wage in the United States has been $7.25 per hour since July 2009; As Putin Gets Desperate, U.S. Should Remember Pearl Harbor; More.
- Make sure you are registered to vote! VoteTexas.GOV – Texas Voter InformationTEXAS SoS VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOT APPLICATION (ALL TEXAS COUNTIES) HarrisVotes.com – Countywide Voting Centers, (Election Information Line (713) 755-6965), Harris County Clerk
- Harris County “Vote-By-Mail’ Application for 2022
- Fort bend County Elections/Voter Registration Machine takes you to the proper link
- GalvestonVotes.org (Galveston County, TX)
- Liberty County Elections (Liberty County, TX)
- Montgomery County (TX) Elections
- Brazoria County (TX) Clerk Election Information
- Waller County (TX) Elections
- Chambers County (TX) Elections
- For personalized, nonpartisan voter guides and information, Consider visiting Vote.ORG. Ballotpedia.com and Texas League of Women Voters are also good places to get election info.
- If you are denied your right to vote any place at any time at any polling place for any reason, ask for (or demand) a provisional ballot rather than lose your vote.
- HarrisVotes.com – Countywide Voting CentersHARRIS COUNTY – IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED FOR VOTING: Do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of these IDs?
- Fill out a declaration at the polls describing a reasonable impediment to obtaining it, and show a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of ID:
- A government document that shows your name and an address, including your voter registration certificate
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government check
- A certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes your identity (which may include a foreign birth document)
- You may vote early by-mail if:You are registered to vote and meet one of the following criteria:
- Away from the county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period;
- Sick or disabled;
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
- Confined in jail, but eligible to vote.
- Make sure you are registered:
- Ann Harris Bennett, Tax Assessor-Collector & Voter Registrar
- CHECK REGISTRATION STATUS HERE
- CLICK How to register to vote in Texas
- Outside Texas, try Vote.org.
- Harris County “Vote-By-Mail’ Application for 2022
- BE REGISTERED TO VOTE, and if eligible, REMEMBER TO FILL OUT AND MAIL YOUR MAIL-IN BALLOT APPLICATIONS FOR 2022
- You can track your Mail Ballot Activity from our website with direct link provided here https://www.harrisvotes.com/Tracking
- May 7 Constitutional & Local Election
- Early Voting has ended
- 07May – Election Day & Last day to Receive Ballot by Mail
- MIKE: Personally, I recommend voting against both if these proposed Texas Constitutional amendments for reasons I discussed on the April 13th show
- Early Voting has ended
- May 24 Primary Runoff & Precinct Chair Election
- 13May – Last Day to Apply by Mail (Received, not Postmarked)
- 16May – First Day of Early Voting by Personal Appearance
- 20May – Last Day of Early Voting by Personal Appearance
- 24May – Election Day & Last Day to Receive Ballot by Mail
- ELECTION NOTE:
- What is the Texas ‘trigger law?’; If Roe v Wade was revoked, abortion bans would go into effect almost immediately In Texas because of its “trigger law.” Author: Chloe Alexander | KHOU.COM | Published: 8:35 PM CDT May 3, 2022, Updated: 8:55 PM CDT May 3, 2022
- What would happen if the Supreme Court overturnsRoe v Wade? …
- The Texas trigger law would outlaw abortions in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade.
- Texas’ “trigger law” would take effect 30 days after Roe v Wade is overturned and would make performing an abortion in Texas a crime. Doctors could face life in prison and fines up to $100,000. On top of that, anti-abortion advocates said the goal is to add civil penalties to the law. …
- IMAGE: https://media.khou.com/assets/KHOU/images/d0bc70a9-8493-46ff-b71b-b3747b5706d3/d0bc70a9-8493-46ff-b71b-b3747b5706d3_1140x641.jpg
- MIKE: In 2018, I wrote a user review of “In the Heat of the Night (1967)” on IMDb.com. It’s a great movie on many levels, but there is an aspect that’s never discussed. WARNING: If you’ve never seen it, there will be general spoilers.
- MIKE: “While this film is typically regarded as a great film about changing race relations during the 1960s, it is never considered a “Pro-Choice” film. Looked at in that way, it’s worth considering that all the consequential action in the story – the murder, Tibbs being Shanghaied off the train by Gillespie, the racist assaults and epithets and even the final solving of the crime – all come back to one 16-year-old girl needing an abortion, and no legal, private, confidential abortion service being available for her. Had abortion been legal in Mississippi in 1967, there would have been no murder, no robbery, no Tibbs-Gillespie drama, and no story.”
- MIKE: From what I’ve heard of Justice Alito’s first draft opinion, it rests heavily on the Constitution never mentioning the word abortion. There are many “rights” we have acquired in US jurisprudence over the last 240+ years that are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. The right to legal birth control is one, but it doesn’t remotely end there. There are Miranda rights when you’re arrested. Your right to a lawyer in court. A reporter’s right to keep informants confidential. You’re right to love who you want. You’re right to marry who you want, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. Alito is only trying to break one brick in the wall. But he’s playing a game of Jenga with ALL your rights, as you’ve previously understood them or taken them for granted.
- ‘It’s just got to stop’ | Heights residents say 11th Street bike lanes will push traffic into neighborhoods; Residents fear reduced automobile lanes will cause traffic congestion, pushing drivers into surrounding neighborhoods. Author: Matt Dougherty | KHOU.COM | Published: 10:26 PM CDT May 3, 2022, Updated: 10:46 PM CDT May 3, 2022
- Many neighbors in the Heights said they believe the city’s plans for more bike lanes on major streets will be a disaster. …
- Houston is close to meeting its goal of constructing at least 500 miles of trails and bike lanes by 2025. There are only 64 miles left. But the 5-mile stretch of planned bike lanes slated for the Heights is causing controversy. …
- The Houston Bike Plan’s 11th Street Bikeway Proposal will reduce the number of automobile lanes, from four lanes to two. Designated bike lanes will be created to run alongside the traffic lanes. …
- The group of Heights neighbors has been petitioning city leaders to re-think the plan. …
- Council Member Abbie Kamin said her constituents want the bike lanes on 11th street. … Turner, who alone has the authority to approve changes to the plans, called for a 30-day hold on the project to evaluate the concerns.
- MIKE: Bike lanes sound great in the abstract, but cutting a major thoroughfare from 4 lanes to 2 seems like it needs a major rethink. It’s possible that many of the constituents Kamin refers to as favoring the idea don’t realize what the trade-off is for the bike lanes.
- Community continues fight to clean up toxic railroad site being blamed for ‘cancer clusters’; “It’s kind of scary because we don’t know. We want to know,” said Kashmere Gardens resident Janet Massey. Author: Xavier Walton | KHOU.COM | Published: 10:41 PM CDT May 3, 2022, Updated: 10:41 PM CDT May 3, 2022
- Hundreds of community members gathered Tuesday night at a meeting over how to deal with a toxic site owned by Union Pacific that’s being blamed for “cancer clusters” in nearby neighborhoods.
- The toxic railyard is located near Kashmere Gardens and the Greater Fifth Ward.
- The community has been desperately searching for a solution for decades now. …
- At the meeting, representatives from Union Pacific presented their Hazardous Waste Removal Permit renewal proposal.
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was also in attendance at the meeting.
- … Turner said. “We stand in opposition to the hazardous waste permit. This proposed permit does not go far enough and does not do enough to solve the problem.”
- The problem … is decades of creosote contamination these community members have dealt with. …
- MIKE: I’ve said for years, “Pollution is public, but profit is private.” Resolving pollution should come out of the profits from creating it. I’ve been reading about this polluted site almost as long as I’ve lived in Houston. People in the area can’t afford to stay and they can’t afford to leave. And the property owners there can’t in good conscience sell because they’d just be passing the problem along to someone else, and abandoning their equity leaves them no money to relocate. They’re trapped. It’s an intolerable situation that should have been resolved decades ago.
- Rising temperatures this weekend could put strain on Texas power grid; ERCOT is bracing for a weekend of rising temperatures. Author: KHOU 11 Staff | KHOU.COM | Published: 1:11 PM CDT May 3, 2022, Updated: 2:11 PM CDT May 3, 2022
- MIKE: Because, of course they could.
- There are concerns of near all-time high demand for the month of May. Experts are worried some of the state’s thermal plants may be offline due to maintenance. But ERCOT says they’re asking plants to postpone scheduled maintenance so that they’ll be ready for the demand.
- MIKE: The Texas power grid is a fragile butterfly that can’t tolerate too much heat or too much cold.
- You can monitor the grid conditions through ERCOT’s [Electric Reliability Council Of Texas] digital dashboard.
- Supply and demand: This is a real-time look at supply of power and demand, as reported by ERCOT. It also shows projected supply and demand, based on forecast.
- Grid conditions: ERCOT is tracking the state of the grid, as well as the state of the operating reserve.
- REFERENCE: Could rooftop solar and electric vehicles help power the Texas electric grid? Regulators want to know; COM, The Public Utility Commission wants to know how the state grid could utilize distributed energy resources.
- MIKE: I actually recently had solar panels and batteries installed. The batteries are for night backup and were about half the cost of the entire system. If you get just the panels, they’ll be fairly affordable (especially with federal tax credits), but will only help during daytime hours.
- Your Kids Can Handle Dangerous Ideas; By Matt Gross | NYTIMES.COM | April 28, 2022
- [WRITTEN AND READ IN 1ST PERSON] In the middle of a recent Thursday dinner, my 13-year-old daughter, Sasha, had a question for my wife and me: Can I skip school tomorrow?
- This seemed pretty understandable to me. Middle-schoolers in New York City — and elsewhere — have had it rough the last few years, caught between the pandemic, their fast-changing bodies and emotions, and their parents’ unchanging ambitions and expectations. As eighth grade ambles to a close, Sasha has handled those pressures well. I could see why she would want a break.
- Still, obviously, the answer was no. You can’t skip school, my wife, Jean, and I told her. You just can’t. Not allowed. Nope!
- But I offered Sasha a bit of unsolicited advice, too: Next time you want to skip school, don’t tell your parents. Just go. Browse vintage stores, eat your favorite snack (onigiri), lie on your back in Prospect Park and stare at the clouds. Isn’t that the point of skipping school, after all? To sneak around, to steal time and space back from the arbitrary system that enfolds you? … That’s being a teenager — carving out a private life for yourself under the noses of the authority figures who surround you.
- Sasha said no, she would not be doing that … because she’s too lazy to plan the subterfuge — it sounds as exhausting as algebra. …
- But when I look at the broader cultural landscape, I feel isolated in my permissiveness. Parents … are freaking out over everything their kids see, read and do.
- Recently there were the parents who hated “Turning Red,” the Disney Pixar movie about a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian girl who transforms into a giant red panda at moments of intense emotion or embarrassment … Those parents complained that the film promoted bad values and that its portrayal of puberty and metaphorical menstruation was just too mature for an impressionable audience.
- Then there are the parents across this country who continue to be up in arms about what’s taught in public schools. [T]he fact that this nation has historically failed to live up to some of its ideals is apparently so distressing that they are pushing for strict laws about what teachers can say about that in class. …
- [W]hat’s at play here are two fundamentally different conceptions of parents’ responsibility to their children, with the same ultimate goal: Do you offer your kids broad exposure to the world … and hope they make good decisions? Or do you try to protect them from ideas and activities that you see as dangerous or immoral — and also hope they make good decisions? Obviously, both approaches involve a leap of faith. …
- I understand the desire to coax your children to think and live as you do. I mean, who wants his or her progeny to reject wholesale the values, tastes and beliefs they’ve been brought up in? To pick up ideas, frameworks and plans that we disagree with or even find morally repugnant? …
- To me, the more hands-off approach is also the more realistic one. It acknowledges that our children are, in some basic sense, beyond our control: not precious innocents to be culturally cocooned … (and who are anyhow likely carrying around devices that give them unfettered access to billions of ideas and images, without any meaningful controls). …
- This isn’t modern liberal parenting; if anything, it’s old-fashioned. Before the era of helicopter parents, baby boomers raised Gen Xers like me as latchkey kids who made our own snacks and watched TV for hours. We might not have appreciated it at the time, but it bred a self-reliance that I don’t know we would otherwise have developed.
- I’d thank the boomers for that, but I doubt it was a conscious parenting decision on their part. …
- Most of all, I want my daughters to see clearly, be prepared and trust their training — much of it delivered via dinner table discussion like the one we had about skipping school. So far, this strategy is working out. Recently, Sasha and a friend watched an episode of “Euphoria,” the HBO show about teenagers navigating a world filled with drugs and sex, and she decided it was too grown-up. (Jean and I watched it to understand — and decided it was too adult for us as well.)
- Will Sasha skip school? I hope so — and I hope not. But if she does, she shouldn’t tell me. At least not for another decade. Then we can laugh about it over cocktails.
- MIKE: How much freedom should our children have … or deserve? Should their freedom be incrementally earned, and at what ages are those increments? What do we want our children to be learn? What do we want them to be able to learn? How do we want them to be able to learn? Do we believe that, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, “They can’t handle the truth?” Should their search for true facts and history only be available in the school library and not the classroom? (Except that the school library may have been purged of “unacceptable” books.) Or must they visit the public library (assuming that it, too, has not been purged of “objectionable” books)? Are there things our kids should be protected from learning, ever, and why?
- MIKE: The responsible use of freedom in a free society (and most importantly, perhaps, in an “un-free” society) must be learned, and to be learned is it better to be taught what “responsible freedom” means, or should it be discovered by each child, however imperfectly?
- MIKE: When my stepdaughter was about 13, after a challenging issue had been hashed through, I once quietly advised her that sometimes it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. That made an impression on her that she still remembers almost 20 years later. Did it make my parenting any easier? I’m betting not. But it was still good advice and a useful life lesson.
- The Revolt of the College-Educated Working Class; Since the Great Recession, the college-educated have taken more frontline jobs at companies like Starbucks and Amazon. Now they’re helping to unionize them. By Noam Scheiber | NYTIMES.COM | April 28, 2022
- Over the past decade and a half, many young, college-educated workers have faced a disturbing reality: that it was harder for them to reach the middle class than for previous generations. The change has had profound effects — driving shifts in the country’s politics and mobilizing employees to demand fairer treatment at work. It may also be giving the labor movement its biggest lift in decades.
- Members of this college-educated working class typically earn less money than they envisioned when they went off to school. “It’s not like anyone is expecting to make six figures,” said Tyler Mulholland, who earns about $23 an hour as a sales lead at REI, the outdoor equipment retailer, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. “But when it’s snow storming at 11:30 at night, I don’t want to have to think, ‘Is the Uber home going to make a difference in my weekly budget?’” …
- [T]hey complain of being trapped in jobs that don’t make good use of their skills.]
- … After Clint Shiflett, who holds an associate degree in computer science, lost his job installing satellite dishes in early 2020, he found a cheaper place to live and survived on unemployment insurance for months. He was eventually hired at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, where he initially made about $17.50 an hour working the overnight shift.
- Liz Alanna, who holds a bachelor’s in music education and a master’s in opera performance, began working at Starbucks while auditioning for music productions in the early 2010s. She stayed with the company to preserve her health insurance after getting married and having children.
- “I don’t think I should have to have a certain job just so I can have health care,” Ms. Alanna said. “I could be doing other types of jobs that might fall better in my wheelhouse.”
- These experiences, which economic research shows became more common after the Great Recession, appear to have united many young college-educated workers around two core beliefs: They have a sense that the economic grand bargain available to their parents — go to college, work hard, enjoy a comfortable lifestyle — has broken down. And they see unionizing as a way to resurrect it.
- Support for labor unions among college graduates has increased from 55 percent in the late 1990s to around 70 percent in the last few years, and is even higher among younger college graduates, according to data provided by Gallup. “I think a union was really kind of my only option to make this a viable choice for myself and other people,” said Mr. Mulholland, 32, who helped lead the campaign to unionize his Manhattan REI store in March. Mr. Shiflett and Ms. Alanna have also been active in the campaigns to unionize their workplaces.
- And those efforts, in turn, may help explain an upsurge for organized labor, with filings for union elections up more than 50 percent over a similar period one year ago.
- Though a minority at most nonprofessional workplaces, college-educated workers are playing a key role in propelling them toward unionization, experts say, because the college-educated often feel empowered in ways that others don’t. “There’s a class confidence, I would call it,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist of labor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. “A broader worldview that encompasses more than getting through the day.”
- While other workers at companies like Starbucks and Amazon are also supportive of unions and sometimes take the initiative in forming them, the presence of the college-educated in these jobs means there is a “layer of people who particularly have their antennae up,” Ms. Milkman added. “There is an additional layer of leadership.”
- That workers who attended college would be attracted to nonprofessional jobs at REI, Starbucks and Amazon is not entirely surprising. Over the past decade, the companies’ appetite for workers has grown substantially. Starbucks increased its global work force to nearly 385,000 last year from about 135,000 in 2010. Amazon’s work force swelled to 1.6 million from 35,000 during that period.
- The companies appeal to affluent and well-educated consumers. And they offer solid wages and benefits for their industries — even, for that matter, compared with some other industries that employ the college-educated.
- More than three years after he earned a political science degree from Siena College in 2017, Brian Murray was making about $14 an hour as a youth counselor at a group home for middle-school-age children.
- He quit in late 2020 and was hired a few months later at a Starbucks in the Buffalo area, where his wage increased to $15.50 an hour. “The starting wage was higher than anything I’d ever made,” said Mr. Murray, who has helped organize Starbucks workers in the city.
- Such examples appear to reflect broader economic forces. Data from the past 30 years collected by the economists Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that unemployment for recent college graduates shot up to over 7 percent in 2009 and was above 5.3 percent — the highest previously recorded — as late as 2015.
- Jesse Rothstein, a former chief economist of the U.S. Labor Department, found in a 2021 paper that the job prospects for recent college graduates began to weaken around 2005, then suffered a significant blow during the Great Recession and had not fully recovered a decade later. …
- While there is no simple explanation for the trend, many economists contend that automation and outsourcing reduced the need for certain “middle skilled” jobs that college-educated workers performed. Consolidation in industries that employ the college-educated also appears to have softened demand for those workers, said Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, though he emphasized that those with a college degree still typically earned far more than those without one.
- Whatever the case, the gap between the expectations of college graduates and their employability has led to years of political ferment. A study of participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement, which highlighted income inequality and grew out of the 2011 occupation of Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, found that more than three-quarters were college graduates, versus about 30 percent of adults at the time. Many had been laid off during the previous five years and “were carrying substantial debt,” the report noted.
- In the decade that followed, members of this same demographic group helped lead other activist campaigns, like the Black Lives Matter movement, and supported the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders. At least one member — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had worked as a waitress and a bartender during her postcollege years — successfully ran for Congress.
- The college-educated began flexing their muscle at work, too. Employees at digital media outlets like Gawker and Buzzfeed unionized in the 2010s, complaining of low pay and unclear paths to promotion, as did employees of think tanks and other nonprofit groups.
- Public school teachers across the country walked off the job in 2018 to protest low pay and dwindling resources, while union campaigns proliferated at private colleges among graduate students and nontenure-track faculty.
- Milkman pointed to several reasons that college-educated workers had succeeded at organizing even in the face of employer opposition: They often know their rights under labor law, and feel entitled to change their workplace. They believe there is another gig out there if they lose their current one.
- “More education does two things — it inoculates you to some extent against employer scare tactics,” Ms. Milkman said. “And it’s not that big a deal to get fired. You know, ‘Who cares? I can get some other crummy job.’”
- The pandemic reinforced the trend, disrupting the labor market just as it finally appeared to be stabilizing for recent college graduates. It made service sector jobs dangerous in addition to modestly compensated. Amid labor shortages, workers grew bolder in challenging their bosses. …
- MIKE: There’s a lot to digest in this article, and there’s more to it. It’s really about more than unionization. The federal minimum wage in the United States has been $7.25 per hour since July 2009.
- According to US INFLATION CALCULATOR:
- In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act established it at $0.25 an hour ($5.10 in 2022 dollars).
- Its purchasing power peaked in 1968 at $1.60 ($13.22 in 2022 dollars).
- Since 2009, it has been $7.25 per hour $9.72 in est. 2022 dollars).
- MIKE: But there has been an argument going around the last few years that if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be about $22/hour. If the inflation calculators above are correct, where did that number come from?
- I think the notion came from Elizabeth Warren, for which a representative article is here: Elizabeth Warren: Minimum Wage Would Be $22 An Hour If It Had Kept Up With Productivity; By Nick Wing | HUFFPOST.COM | Mar. 18, 2013, 12:34 PM EDT, Updated 19, 2013
- MIKE: The key word here is PRODUCTIVITY! Not INFLATION! The article goes on:
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) made a case for increasing the minimum wage last week during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing, in which she cited a study that suggested the federal minimum wage would have stood at nearly $22 an hour today if it had kept up with increased rates in worker productivity.
- “If we started in 1960 and we said that as productivity goes up, that is as workers are producing more, then the minimum wage is going to go up the same. And if that were the case then the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour,” she said, speaking to Dr. Arindrajit Dube, a University of Massachusetts Amherst professor who has studied the economic impacts of minimum wage. “So my question is Mr. Dube, with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn’t go to the worker.”
- Dube went on to note that if minimum wage incomes had grown over that period at the same pace as it had for the top 1 percent of income earners, the minimum wage would actually be closer to $33 an hour than the current $7.25.
- It didn’t appear that Warren was actually trying to make the case for a $22 an hour minimum wage, but rather highlighting the results of a recent study that showed flat minimum wage growth over the past 40-plus years coinciding with surging inequality across a number of economic indicators. …
- MIKE: So what we have here are a bunch of numbers comparing what wages should be or might be or deserve to be, depending on a lot of different comparisons and calculations. Mark Twain once SAID, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” ~ Mark Twain, (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
- MIKE: So, what would be a fair minimum wage? Remembering that a minimum wage is just a starting point for so-called “fair” labor compensation? Well, it’s both what the market is willing to pay, and what collective bargaining can make it. Government may then codify it. This is why a Socio-Political Triad — business, labor, and government — is so important, and why all three parts must play a dynamic role. If one part of that Triad is weakened enough, the other legs of the Triad become too powerful and their self-interests become too-large a part of the balance.
- As Putin Gets Desperate, U.S. Should Remember Pearl Harbor; Economic sanctions are working now against Russia as they squeezed Japan before World War II. But the historical lesson is that they don’t make adversaries less aggressive. By Hal Brands | BLOOMBERG.COM/OPINION | May 3, 2022, 2:00 PM CDT
- The Western powers are tightening the screws on Russian President Vladimir Putin: The next move appears to be a phased-in European ban on purchases of Russian oil.
- It’s the right policy, given that oil money is financing Putin’s war in Ukraine and keeping the Russian economy alive. But the risks may be substantial: Revisionist powers have sometimes become most violent when campaigns of economic strangulation against them are about to succeed.
- The classic example is Japan before World War II. For a decade, Tokyo had been seeking a vast empire in Asia. It had embarked on a military rampage, seizing Manchuria, invading China and expanding into Southeast Asia. …
- By 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration was supporting the Chinese government financially. The next spring, American warplanes and volunteer pilots began arriving in China.
- Most important, Washington took the fight to Japan economically. Roosevelt first constricted the export of aviation materials, high-octane gas, scrap metal and other goods to Tokyo. After Japanese forces moved into southern Indochina in mid-1941, FDR delivered the hammer blow: A full oil embargo.
- Japan was vulnerable to economic coercion. Before World War II, writes historian Waldo Heinrichs, Japan “imported 80 percent of its oil products, 90 percent of its gasoline, 74 percent of its scrap iron and 60 percent of its machine tools” from the U.S.
- The oil cutoff was particularly devastating. It threatened to leave Japan’s ships and planes running on fumes and bring the war in China to a humiliating end. Japanese military officials, having promised glorious conquests, now feared that the country was facing strategic ruin at America’s hands. Japan was “like a fish in a pond from which the water was gradually being drained away,” as one War Ministry official later put it.
- Rather than concede, Japan’s leaders risked everything, by seizing oil-rich colonies in Southeast Asia, attacking U.S. and Western possessions across much of the Asia-Pacific, and trying to wipe out the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. …
- The Russian government is increasingly invoking the memory of World War II …
- As the war drags on, the U.S. and its friends will ratchet up the coercion of Russia, to increase the price Putin pays and gradually deprive him of the wherewithal to keep fighting. Yet the closer they get to succeeding, the more they will sharpen the choice Putin faces between accepting a humiliating defeat and intensifying his aggression in hopes of salvaging a victory.
- MIKE: “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” ~ Carl von Clausewitz: There have been many arguments over the post-WW2 decades that economic sanctions don’t work. When it comes up, I’ve always responded that sanctions are an effort to conduct war by other means. But as in the WW2 Pacific war, when do sanctions result in war, nonetheless? This is the tightrope that the West is walking.