The US Economic Condition: Is it Deja Vu all over again?


 Professor Gil Skilman, Chairman,

Wesleyan University Dept. of Economics 

Sunday,  October 17, 1:30PM



Save the date:  October 26th, Tuesday night, 7:30, Guilford Community Center

Being Muslim in America

Kareen Adeem


Radouane Nasry


Tuesday, October 26, 7:30PM




What are the views of American citizens practicing Islam in the United States towards the policies of their government in executing the so-called war on terror? How do we as a community reconcile the violence and treatment of women we associate with extreme factions of the Muslim religion with the faith as practiced in American homes?  The members of the panel are distinguished members of their professions, as well as active community members.  Radouane Nasry teaches languages at Guilford High School.  He grew up in Morocco, earned an MA in Linguistics and is active in the shoreline Muslim community.  Dr. Kareem Adeeb is a professional structural engineer originally from Lebanon who has also lectured on Islam at various locations around CT.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut.  


Sponsored by the Progressive Forum of the Guilford Peace Alliance and the peace, justice and affirmation committee of the Guilford Congregational Church


An article on that directly ties in with Dr. Skillman's talk for the Shoreline Progressive Forum:

Why Progressives Shouldn't Fall For the Deficit Reduction Trap

The fetish of long-term deficit reduction is politically poisonous -- and economically pointless. In reality, we need big budget deficits. We need them now -- and down the road.
January 26, 2010  |  


Shockingly, President Obama has announced his support for a commission whose purpose is to ramrod Social Security and Medicare cuts through Congress. Thinly disguised as a program for "deficit reduction," the proposed commission will meet its first test today, when the Senate may vote to authorize it as part of a bill to raise the national debt ceiling. A large progressive coalition is already on record against it. But the progressives' case is flawed; it's not tough enough. Here's why.

According to a press release issued by the Campaign for America's Future on January 20, describing the progressive coalition:

Speakers stressed the need for a long-term deficit reduction strategy.... Joan Entmacher of National Women's Law Center noted that responsible ways to cut the deficit were available now if austerity activists weren't only interested in attacking Social Security and Medicare.... Hillary Shelton of the NAACP said the responsibility for debt reduction should remain with democratically elected representatives from each congressional district...

Now, when our civil rights leaders speak of deficits, no one supposes they do so from deep conviction. It's a political move. They are intoning phrases calculated to lend a tone of respectability to a larger and more important cause. That cause -- in this case protecting Social Security and Medicare from predators on Wall Street -- is a good one. But good political purposes don't guarantee good economics. And, let me argue, if the economics are based, as they are here, on a false premise, then you can't make the politics work in your favor.

The CAF coalition concedes that "long-term deficit reduction" is vital. But why? No reason is given. Are they worried about a threat of inflation? If so, why not look at interest rates? Last December's average 20-year Treasury bond rate was 4.40 percent -- lower than it was before the crash sent deficits soaring. Clearly, the markets aren't worried -- or the government would have to pay more to borrow. Equally obviously, the markets aren't worried about "default" or "national bankruptcy" either. Investors know those concepts don't apply to the government of the United States.

And once you concede that deficits are actually bad, you're boxed in. If you exclude Social Security and Medicare, there is no way to cut deficits seriously (short- or long-term, on unchanged economic assumptions) except by slashing the Pentagon or by raising taxes. If you had to do something, I agree, those would be better moves. But good luck. It's not a political battle one can win.

CAF leaders try to escape the box by arguing that deficit reduction should be "long-term" -- but that we need more "up-front" spending, stimulus and investment for now. But Social Security's enemies are playing for the long term. So long as they can put Social Security and Medicare on the path to destruction over time, they'll be happy -- and quite willing to make some "short-term" concessions to reach that goal.

So the fetish of long-term deficit reduction is politically poisonous -- and economically pointless. In reality, we need big budget deficits. We need them now. We need bigger deficits than we've got, to stabilize state and local governments and to provide jobs and payroll tax relief. And we may need them for a long time, on an increasing scale, and in the service of a sustained investment strategy aimed at solving our jobs, energy, environment and climate change problems. To pretend that expansionary policies are needed only for now, gives all this away.

The public deficit is just the obverse of net private savings. That is, when private credit is booming, investment exceeds saving and deficits tend to disappear. That's what happened in the 1990s. When credit collapses, deficits return. That's what's happening now. Large long-term deficits will occur, or not, depending only on whether we succeed in generating a new growth cycle, financed by the expansion of private credit. Policies to cut spending or raise taxes -- now or for that matter in the future -- contribute nothing to this goal.

Financial reform and debt relief are therefore the only paths to public deficit reduction.; It would be nice to have them, for the economy works better and people are happier when they can borrow and invest privately. But if we don't get them, the alternative isn't a "return to fiscal responsibility." It's a choice between large public budget deficits that fund important and useful activities and tax relief, or large deficits because the recession, housing slump and high unemployment drag on and on, all made worse by cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other public spending.

Yes, we must defend Social Security and Medicare from Wall Street and its political agents -- which now, sadly, include the Obama White House. But we'll lose on that -- and everything else -- if we start by giving up the fight for an aggressive, effective, sustained and long-range economic recovery program, deficits and all.


James K. Galbraith is the author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, and of a new preface to The Great Crash, 1929, by John Kenneth Galbraith. He teaches at The University of Texas at Austin.


Stand with the Guilford Peace Alliance

Saturdays, 11pm-12pm

Drop by and Stand for Peace

The Guilford Peace Alliance is the supporting organization for the Shoreline Progressive Forum.  If you are interested in standing with us on any Saturday on the south-west corner of the Guilford Green don't hesitate to stop by and join us.  There are no requirements for attendance.  We're a friendly bunch with mixed political views that generate interesting conversations.

Thanks Dr. Skillman for a great discussion!

Shoreline Progressive Forum Presents

The Economy: What’s Debt Got to Do With It?

Professor Gil Skillman

Chair, Dept of Economics

Wesleyan University



January 17th, 1:30pm,

Guilford Free Library Meeting Room

The United States public debt is currently well over $9 trillion.The total public debt is actually divided into two categories: the debt held by the public and intragovernmental holdings. To raise money, the federal government auctions off treasury securities to domestic and foreign investors. The government sells enough securities at each auction to satisfy a certain spending goal, like $18 billion. It starts by selling to the lowest bidder and work its way up until the stated goal is reached. But at some point the investor will cash in those securities along with any interest that's accrued over time. The debt held by the public -- currently $5 trillion -- is the total amount that's owed to all of these investors at any given time. Intragovernmental holdings -- the other $4 trillion -- are treasury securities that the U.S. government buys itself to bolster huge federal savings programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  But a better indicator of a nation's indebtedness is the ratio of its public debt to its GDP, or total national income.The U.S. public debt ratio in 2005 was calculated as 61.8 percent of the GDP. In the same year, the UK's ratio was 46.7 percent, France's was 76.1 percent and Japan's was an astonishing 173.1 percent [source: OECD].(1.)

But how does the public debt affect the economy as a whole? Is a large public debt an indicator of bad economic times to come? The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), says that a rising national debt, particularly when viewed as a percentage of a nation's GDP, is a big problem, although a long-term one (1.).

1.Roos, Dave.  "How Debt Works."  11 December 2007. <>  02 January 2010.

Dr. Gil Skillman

Dr. Skilman, Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University since 1993 is active in the fields of political economy, labor economics and history of economic thought.  Professor Skilman is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Union for Radical Political Economics, as well as Co-Editor of the Eastern Economic Journal (as in Eastern United States). He is the co-author, with Joyce P. Jacobsen, of  "Labor Markets and Employment Relationships: A Comprehensive Approach.   


Film Presentation:  Thursday, Sept. 3rd, 7:30pm at the Guilford Library, 67 Park Street, Guilford

Palast Investigates:  On the trail of financial marauders


The Shoreline Progressive Forum starts its Fall series of programs on Thursday night, Sept 3rd, with the screening of a film by BBC TV investigative reporter Greg Palast at the Guilford Library.  The film, Palast Investigates: On the trail , cronicles reporting done by Palast.  Palast presents his material as a gumshoe investigator seeking out the story...entertaining you as the facts of the situation are exposed. His investigations encompass:  International Vulture Funds cashing in by speculating on third world debt obligations, Oil company environmental disasters that effect Latin Americans, non-existant plans to protect New Orleans from Katrina and investigating facts of voter supression in US elections.  All are welcome to attend.

About Greg Palast
(Bio from the website

"Palast's stories bite. They're so relevant they threaten to alter history. Palast is what a journalist is supposed to be - a truth hound, doggedly independent, undaunted by power." -- Chicago Tribune

Greg Palast is the author of two international and New York Times bestsellers based on his reportage for BBC Television’s premier current affairs program, Newsnight, and his investigative reports for Britain’s Guardian newspapers.
It was Palast who, for the Guardian and the BBC, first uncovered and documented the purge of thousands of African-American voters, wrongly named felons, by the state of Florida before the 2000 presidential election. His update of the report, for Harper’s, was nominated for an American Magazine Award.

Born in Los Angeles, Palast, an economist who studied with Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, worked for two decades as an investigator of corporate fraud and as an expert on control of industry.

He has returned from residence in London to direct
his investigative team from an office on New York’s Lower East Side.
Contact: Zach Roberts, Research Associate, +1.212.505.5566


Dear Fight the Hike Friends:
The efforts you made this year for progressive energy policies were great, even though too many politicians played games and did not pass anything of note on the electricity front at the Legislature.  However, the DPUC did hear us clearly, as over 1,000 people wrote, called and e-mailed the office that UI should not be granted an increase.  So for 6 months at least, the rate will not be changed.  Thank you for pushing the limits!
The House of Representatives voted in favor of the bills we were trying to get passed.  The Senate was the problem.  I wrote an article to the Hartford Courant (it follows), and after it was printed, two representatives called me to thank me, and asked if Fight the Hike members in other parts of the state could also write in to their local newspapers, about how disappointed they were that the Senate refused to address this issue.
If your letter is printed in your local newspaper, please e-mail me a copy and let me know which paper it's in and the date it appeared.
You may also want to e-mail Senator Looney, Senator Fonfara, Senator Williams and your own state senator to let them know how sorry you are that the Senate did not discuss and vote on these bills.  Their e-mail addresses are:
(these are links only if you use Yahoo - you can "copy and paste" the addresses onto the e-mail you compose).
Thanks for all your work. 
Best wishes,


YOUR VIEW: Paula Panzarella

Bills To Curb Electric Rates Short-Circuited
June 16, 2009

Members of Fight the Hike, the statewide consumer group for lower electric rates and clean energy, are greatly disappointed that the two bodies of the Connecticut General Assembly were unable to pass any bills from the energy and technology committee that would lower electricity rates, improve transparency and accountability, bolster the electricity supply or promote renewable energy throughout the state. The people of Connecticut lost this opportunity to rein in electricity rates (the highest in the continental United States ) and to have greater access to clean, sustainable energy.

When the bills were presented to the state House of Representatives, there was thoughtful discussion and consideration. They were all passed by a significant majority. Our representatives did their work. They listened to their constituents and engaged in the process of examining and passing legislation.

For the bills to become law, the state Senate also needed to approve the bills. The movement of the bills, however, was stonewalled. We were horrified that our senators were never even given the opportunity to discuss and debate the merits of the energy legislation.

Although all the bills were passed by the energy and technology committee, the committee's co-chairman, Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, refused to bring them to the floor of the Senate. Not only did our senators deserve their chance to be heard on proposed energy legislation, but the will of the members on the very committee that Sen. Fonfara leads should have been respected.

These are some of the bills that were not allowed for discussion:

House Bill 6510 would have established the Connecticut Electric Authority. It would have changed procurement procedures of electricity, helped lower electricity costs and had the authority to plan and purchase electricity directly from generators, bolster electricity supply and promote renewable sources. This is the bill that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal had promoted, which offered a comprehensive and necessary move toward true energy reform.

House Bill 6635 would have created more solar power incentives and help its development in Connecticut. By encouraging more solar power, a number of green jobs would have been created in the state. It was passed unanimously by the House.

House Bill 6636 concerned the Clean Energy Fund and would have reduced electric rates for residential and small-business customers by taking out the "risk premium" paid in our electric bills. Residential and small-businesses would no longer have been able to switch to a new electric company (which granted a minimal savings to 8 percent of customers) in exchange for all residential and small business customers to have overall lower rates.

For three years, Connecticut residents have been looking to the state for leadership in establishing comprehensive legislation to help citizens and businesses. Clearly our representatives were up to the challenge to tackle these hard issues and come to agreement on how best to move ahead. Fight the Hike is greatly saddened that the leadership in the Senate, headed by Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, reneged on its responsibility to consider the many city and town resolutions, petitions, e-mails, letters and phone calls members received from those whom they claim to represent.

Where is the democracy? Where is the leadership?

Fight the Hike applauds the members of the House for doing their job. We wish our senators would have been allowed to do theirs.

•Paula Panzarella of New Haven is a founding member of Fight the Hike, a consumer/business coalition working for lower-cost electricity in Connecticut.


Important Legislation in the CT Legislature

Numbers to call to express your opinion on legislation.

Democratic State Senators: 1-800-842-1420

Republican State Senators: 1-800-842-1421

Dem. State Representatives: 1-800-842-1902

Repub. State Representatives: 1-800-842-1423


Speaker of the House, Rep. Chris Donovan


Senate Majority Leader, Martin Looney and

Senate Pres. Pro Tempore, Don Williams can both be reached at 1-800-842-1420. 


Thank you for your help!

 It is critical that the legislators hear from residents all over Connecticut.


Previous Forums:

The Billboard from Bethlehem

May 14th, Thursday evening from 7-9pm, Guilford Library

A film documenting a project bringing Israeli and Palestinian former combatants together to produce a billboard to advertise for Peace.

Director Bruce Barrett will be available to answer questions on his film.

Sponsored by the Guilford Peace Alliance and the Peace, Affirmation, and Justice Committee of First Church Guilford, UCC.

Read the article in the Register on this film:


Sunday, April 26th, 2009, 1:30pm,

Guilford Free Library’s Meeting Room (first floor).

What caused it, what will fix it, how should Shoreline residents react?

FILM:  CUNY forum on Economic Power, provided by

The film presents a panel of Economists- Naomi Klein, Joeseph Stiglitz and Hernando DeSoto describing their ideas on  global economic changes.

Discussion on the film will be led by  Gil Skilman, Professor of Economics at Wesleyan.

Dr. Gil Skilman

Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University

Dr. Skilman, Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University since 1993 is active in the fields of political economy, labor economics and history of economic thought.  Professor Skilman is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Union for Radical Political Economics, as well as Co-Editor of the Eastern Economic Journal (as in Eastern United States). He is the co-author, with Joyce P. Jacobsen, of  "Labor Markets and Employment Relationships: A Comprehensive Approach.   



Sunday, March 1st, 2009, starting at 1:30 PM at the Guilford Free Library’s Meeting Room (first floor).

After the short film " Winter Soldier" panel discussion of veterans and peace activists will explore the effects of the occupation of Iraq and recent developments there.  A question and answer session will follow.

With Speakers:   CEDRIC CANNON Army Veteran, Vietnam War

                                           PAM TAYLORArmy Medic, Veteran Gulf War

                                           JEFF BUSTOS - of Iraq Veterans against the War

   MEG SCATA-American Friends Service Committee, NE United Against the War

*See article in the Courier about the Iraq Forum under attachments at the page bottom.

*See Advocate article on tracking Veteran's health problems, attachments below.

Sponsored by the Guilford Peace Alliance and Supported by the Peace, Affirmation & Justice Committee of the 1st Congregational Church of Guilford and the Shoreline Chapter of Amnesty International.


*See Op Ed by AG Blumenthal on Energy Rates in CT, attachments.

Citizenship for the 21st Century:

Can we take back our Country?

Sunday, January 26th, 2009,  1:30pm, Guilford Free Library Meeting Room

speakers:   KIM HYNES, Common Cause,  Election Day Registration Proposition for CT

                   PAULA PANZARELLA, Fight the Hike, Fair Utility Rates for CT

Camille Solbrig,
Mar 9, 2009, 6:57 AM
Camille Solbrig,
Mar 9, 2009, 6:49 AM
Camille Solbrig,
Mar 10, 2009, 10:40 AM
Camille Solbrig,
Apr 8, 2009, 1:37 PM