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Hostess; Walmart strike; can progressive-reform politics win?

21 Nov

C(r)apitalism. The struggle of labor vs. capital. Is there a left alternative to Marxism?

We need a statement.

Can we create a progressive reform version of liberal democracy to replace the internally declining American system?

Our complaint:

1. War is brought to you every five to ten years brought to you by the Pentagon and the lovers of high-tech.

2. The stifling of the working-class (the proletariat) and the suffering of the invisible poor.

3. Jobs which are shipped overseas by the corporations and the political class, working hand in hand. The state is supposed to regulate business and protect us from powerful private interests. With their wealth and connections, of course, the powerful can ‘lobby’ politicians. But who speaks for the rest of us?

4.Corrupt Big Business and Wall St devise strategies to control the media, which helps stifle dissent.

5. The division of society into classes, while pols proclaim how ‘United,’ these disunited states are.

6. The struggle of millions of young people to pay for college education

7. Racism alive and well

8. The decline in living standards, the decline of the dollar, the rising cost of living, and the FEAR that the entire society seems to live under. Capitalism tends toward an hegemony. Monopolies develop, in defiance of the law. All of these create a condition of societal blight — brought to you by the old boys’ club!

9. Environmental disasters, such as BP’s polluting of the Gulf Of Mexico, which are becoming more and more common.

10. The denial in our discourse that there exists a class system, which causes dissension, alarm, and phoney religiosity.

WHAT A SHITTY STATE AMERICA IS IN TODAY, thanks to the 2 parties!
by the author….

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Below are some e-clippings
Join Us for November’s Actions!

Find an Action | Organize an Action

The election is over, now our real work begins. PDA and our partners will address the lame duck session and sequester debates, working to educate Congress in our home districts and on Capitol Hill. Most actions will be on Wednesday, November 21st.

Organize an office meeting or do a letter drop. If you can’t make it to your Congress member’s or Senators’ offices, use this action alert to contact the President, and your elected officials. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202)-224-3121. Tell all your friends to join us in these actions. Take action, then give thanks for all we’ve accomplished and share your inspiration with your friends and family at your holiday gathering.

Educate Congress | Find an Action | Organize One

We will educate our legislators about the need to:

1. Enact The Robin Hood Tax–also known as the financial speculation tax (FST).

2. Get us Out of Afghanistan and cut spending on weapons and war by 25%.

3. Provide Medicare for All, and Jobs for All.

4. To oppose any legislation or policy which would cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits, COLAs, eligibility, etc.–which could endanger those programs.

Join activists nationwide telling our legislators to support Prosperity not Austerity. To make investments in people–education, job training, and job creation. We have to educate our elected officials on basic budget math. Tell them: If we stop wasting $trillions on death and destruction, and raise revenues through fair taxation, we can afford to invest in and care for all our people.

See you on the streets and in the suites!

Tim Carpenter
PDA National Director

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Join us!

Come to our Call – Healthcare For All!

What Day: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
What Time: 9:00 PM ET 8:00 PM CT 7:00 PM MT 6:00 PM PT
Call #: (605) 475-4800 Access Code: 791628#

RSVP for the call here.

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Moderator: Kurt Bateman, PDA HCHR IOT Co-coordinator

AGENDA:

•Welcome and Introductions–Kurt Bateman, Dr. Bill Honigman

•National Reports: Kurt on DC meeting attended by PDA Re: Saving Medicare and Social Security / Labor Issues. Kurt

•PDA National Medicare For All Slate…. how’d we do? IL 13th CD in particular. Kurt

•One Payer States news. Dr Bill and Kurt

•State Reports: Dr Bill on Calif Organizing model, others.

•Open Discussion–lessons from the elections, invite discussion from other areas. State innovation initiatives under ACA.

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RSVP for the call here.

Talk with you Tuesday!

In solidarity,

Dr. Bill Honigman
Kurt Bateman

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Walmart Workers Walk Off Job in First Wave of 1000 Protests
2.How Germany Is Getting to 100 Percent Renewable Energy
3.Ten Numbers the Rich Would Like Fudged
4.Already? Obama Tells Supporters to Expect ‘Bitter Pills’
5.Election Over, Time For Progressive Dems to Face the Truth

NJ GOP’s Failed Attempt to Block Minimum Wage Bill

‘People Over Profits!’: Climate Justice Groups Slam ‘Wholly Irresponsible’ Tar Sands Plan

More News…
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Published on Monday, November 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

Ten Numbers the Rich Would Like Fudged

The numbers reveal the deadening effects of inequality in our country, and confirm that tax avoidance, rather than a lack of middle-class initiative, is the cause.

by Paul Buchheit

1. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.

According to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds.photo: withayou via flickr

2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.

In a world listing compiled by a reputable research team (which nevertheless prompted double-checking), the U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland.

3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.

The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. With Americans making up 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, that’s $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places.

Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.

4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.

After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.

U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They’ve passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.

5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.

That’s enough to pay the salaries of over a million nurses or teachers or emergency responders.

That’s enough, according to 2008 estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN’s World Food Program, to feed the 870 million people in the world who are lacking sufficient food.

For the free-market advocates who say “they’ve earned it”: Point #1 above makes it clear how the wealthy make their money.

6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.

Another stat that required a double-check. Based on research by the Tax Policy Center, tax deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes), which largely benefit the rich, are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion.

Other sources have estimated that about two-thirds of the annual $850 billion in tax expenditures goes to the top quintile of taxpayers.

7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development reported that median wealth for black and Hispanic women is a little over $100. That’s much less than one percent of the median wealth for single white women ($41,500).

Other studies confirm the racially-charged economic inequality in our country. For every dollar of NON-HOME wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.

8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped significantly over the past 15 years, serving only about a quarter of the families in poverty, and paying less than $400 per month for a family of three for housing and other necessities. Ninety percent of the available benefits go to the elderly, the disabled, or working households.

Food stamp recipients get $4.30 a day.

9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.

21- to 35-year-olds: Your median net worth has dropped 68% since 1984. It’s now less than $4,000.

That $4,000 has to pay for student loans that average $27,200. Or, if you’re still in school, for $12,700 in credit card debt.

With an unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds of almost 50%, two out of every five recent college graduates are living with their parents. But your favorite company may be hiring. Apple, which makes a profit of $420,000 per employee, can pay you about $12 per hour.

10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.

That’s about the same amount of money made by America’s richest 10% in one year. But we all paid for the bailout. And because of it, we lost the opportunity for jobs, mortgage relief, and educational funding.

Bonus for the super-rich: A QUADRILLION DOLLARS in securities trading nets ZERO sales tax revenue for the U.S.

The world derivatives market is estimated to be worth over a quadrillion dollars (a thousand trillion). At least $200 trillion of that is in the United States. In 2011 the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reported a trading volume of over $1 quadrillion on 3.4 billion annual contracts.

A quadrillion dollars. A sales tax of ONE-TENTH OF A PENNY on a quadrillion dollars could pay off the deficit. But the total sales tax was ZERO.

It’s not surprising that the very rich would like to fudge the numbers, as they have the nation.

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press).
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borrowed from:
Common Dreams
Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.
Independent, non-profit newscenter since 1997.

To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

http://www.commondreams.org
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This Black Friday, tell Walmart: Workers deserve respect

Valarie Long, SEIU

Last month, employees at 28 different Walmarts all walked out of work simultaneously to stand up for living wages. But this Friday — Black Friday — it’s gonna get even bigger.

Flashmobs, Twitter storms, and justice-themed caroling are just a small portion of what will sweep Walmarts nationwide on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Stand with Walmart strikers, and find out now how you can take part in this national outpouring for good jobs. Click here.

In October, for the first time in Walmart’s 50-year history, more than 70 workers at multiple Los Angeles-area Walmarts walked off the job to demand a living wage, affordable healthcare, and respect from their employer. The strikes caused a ripple effect, and soon there were strikes in 12 other cities around the United States. But Walmart refused to listen, even retaliating against their workers.

Now, thousands of Walmart employees from across the country are coming together on Black Friday in an unprecedented action. The action will protest Walmart’s continued retaliation against its employees, and advocate for improved working conditions and fair schedules. But most of all, these actions are about respect.

This Friday, gather with friends, family, and co-workers to stand with Walmart strikers, and stand up for better jobs and a better future.

In Solidarity,

Valarie Long,

SEIU Executive Vice President

IN solidarity with:
http://occupywallst.org/

Is Critical Marxism relevant?

5 Nov

Let us note that Marxism failed as a political philosophy, yet its specter lives on as a force of criticism of society. I’ve decided that Marx was wrong about certain things, but I’d have to do more research to find out about the ‘reform capitalism,’ movement. Marx arrogantly asserted, in the “manifesto,’ that all other forms of socialism would be ‘toast,’ in comparison with the Marxist version.

So.. if you still want to read my old essays, here goes:

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Marxism is principally an analysis of society. We cannot change society without first having some form of understanding of society. Hence, Marxism is a branch of sociology, as well as of history and economics.

The mass media exist to provide the populace, especially the working-class, with ‘false consciousness.’ It’s quite ingenious. The proletariat (working-class and the poor) is continually subjected to the false images of the capitalist marketplace. Purportedly this affects them, both as workers and consumers, to lust for the material objects shown on their shiny TV sets. The products used by the wealthy are shown on TV and in the movies, in the faces of the poor, who keep working harder and harder, unable to afford to buy them. If the poor steal, they wind up in prison, but if they buy these products, they avoid paying for the things they really need: food, housing, and clothing. That is ‘false consciousness’ in a nutshell. The mass media exist to keep the workers deluded; yet every day, they feel their oppression as all-too-real. This is why America’s permissive society tolerates drugs, alcohol, and vice in general. The working-class has to have an outlet. When that fails, the Establishment gives them something even worse: War.

Critical Marxism is still relevant because it reveals to us that there is a structure to society:

At the top of the heap are the owners of the means of production are: the rich, the industrialists.

The bankers and the politicians are their employees.

The police are their only real protection from a mass uprising of the working-class.

The military and the jails gobble up a significant portion of the working-class, so that the middle class can experience a little less competition from below.

Religion was developed as an idea-system, that would keep the workers from attaining a truer understanding of society. They would get their reward in some nether world.

The media spread false consciousness. The products of the capitalist marketplace are dangled before the salivating mouths of the have-nots, and this keeps them on the treadmill of hard work.

The educational system exists to keep the class-system in place. University for the well-off; vocational school for the poor.

The middle-class has emerged in postwar America, but it is being taxed heavily in order to pay for the sins of the rich and the poor alike.

Capitalism leads mankind to war after war; and who dies in these largely pointless conflicts? Mainly the children of the working-class! And who brings them these wars? The ruling class!

Marx saw societal stability differently from Adam Smith. He believed that money and industry hold the status quo in place. As long as the upper class keeps the lower class happy enough in their oppressed state, the rich will become richer and the lower class will accept their inferior position in life.

Analyze and protest capitalism!
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*Sidenote: We need a “Social democratic” alternative to Orthodox Marxism. Marxism was revised by Bernstein and others. Europe developed socialism, a better alternative to hardline Marxist-Leninism, which concentrated all power in a few hands.

America has followed a Liberal Progressive model in terms of FDR’s reforms during the “New deal,” which is precisely what Romney-Ryan were attacking.
Nov 9, 2012

Is Capitalism sustainable? A series of brief essays. Revised.

23 Oct

Summarize critical Marxism, in one page. Then criticize Marxism!

I. Capitalism, according to Karl Marx, means the historical struggle between capital and labor. Sometimes this struggle is latent, and at other times it manifests itself in open conflict in the streets, in the workplace, and in the political system.

a. Capital, meaning, the rich, the bankers, and the corporations– in other words, those who own the means of production and the money to invest or lend.

b. Labor, meaning those who must work for a daily wage– in other words, the working-class, or Proletariat.

The goal of the capitalist is to own the means of production: the company, factory or shop. From this, the capitalist makes a profit. The capitalist seeks to produce things at the cheapest possible price — even if this means the underpayment of labor‘s daily wage. This is a central tenet of Marx. The capitalist exploits the members of the lower class, the workers, and the renters. He pays the politicians to protect his investment, and if necessary, to bust the unions. He makes higher education expensive, in order to keep the working-class down. The protection of the private property-system is in the basic interest of the capitalist. Unfortunately, this system produces class warfare.

The state is the means by which the capitalist achieves this. Its goal is to protect property and life, and create laws that set the rules by which capitalism can best be served.

a. The military and the police are largely drawn from the ranks of the working-class, and are set against them in the event of a violent social confrontation.

b. The politicians are drawn from the ranks of the educated bourgeoisie.

II.

a. The middle-class, means the petit bourgeoisie. The shopkeeper, the tradesman, and the merchant.

b. The bourgeoisie, means the higher middle -class, which emulates the wealthy. These are the professionals: the doctors, the lawyers, the priests, the journalists, the teachers and professors. They support the ideology of capitalism, and are the cultured class. They manipulate ideas and language in order to protect the social order, with the wealthy on top, naturally.

In order to obscure true social relations, religion was developed thousands of years ago. Religion is in Marx’s terms, the ‘opiate of the masses.’ A belief-system that keeps labor from questioning the social order, and which prevents the workers and the poor from rebelling. In addition, religion functions in the social organism by assuaging the conscience of the bourgeoisie.

III. The basic argument of Marx is easily comprehended: the capitalist drive to lower wages and cheapen the costs of production will end up having an unintended consequence: of swelling the ranks of the poor, while concentrating more and more power in the hands of the rich. If the middle class disappears, then this will create a violent confrontation between the workers and the capitalists. The working-class will inevitably win such an upheaval, and will lead the world toward socialism. After the revolution, there will be no more exploitation of the working-classes, and the state will protect their interests.

Q: There are of course objections to the Marxist theory. It fails to protect human rights, as it was practised under the Stalinist Soviet Union. Liberal bourgeois democracy did make gains for the workers for a period of time, as Labor in Britain asserted itself. Marxist doctrine that property is the source of social discontent led capitalist society toward reforms during the “Progressive” part of the Twentieth Century. The conditions of the workers improved during FDR’s New Deal, in America, and the 40 hour workweek was instituted by law.

After WW2, the middle-class grew for numerous reasons, including the GI Bill, and high rates of taxation during the Eisenhower era.

Nevertheless, analytical, critical Marxism remains a vital argument today, as millions of people seem to be falling behind and as the right-wingers (Romney-Ryan) attempted to eviscerate the public sector and the welfare state. Capitalism as a system fails much of the working class, due to the persistence of wage-slavery; and since this has remained the case, then capitalism must be critiqued.

As for Marxism, as practiced in the Soviet Union, it became a dogmatic form of Stalinism which few today would advocate. The problem with Marx is that he believed that he had solved the problem of history, and once a Marxist regime had gained power, it would not have to continue to find means of further cultural and economic growth. In other words, it was not ‘progressive.’ It may turn out that Marx was a better critic of capitalism than he was a planner for a future class-free society. Marxism only held on for a brief period of time, historically. It is being rejected now in China, much as it had been in the West and the Soviet Union. A Marxist system failed to allow for humans to develop their full potential, intellectually, morally, spiritually; in other words, it was guilty of stasis. It failed to produce a dynamic society. Marxism itself became an article of faith both within and without the Soviet Union, rather than a just critique of society, which it has remained in the Western bourgeois liberal world. Marxism today must acknowledge some form of revisionism, as Bernstein had advocated. Instead the Marxists followed Lenin, Trotsky, Kautsky, and other heavily criticized historical figures. It may turn out that Hugo Chavez will be the last great Marxist believer.

So is Marxism then 1. a dream 2. a form of social science 3. a critique of capitalism 4. a failed order for a new society? Or perhaps all of these. Unfortunately Dr Marx and his ally Engels were never able to revise their ideas, but dogmatically insisted on the ‘fall of capitalism.’ The truth is that thanks to progressive reformers like the Roosevelts, capitalism survived and succeeded. Now it is in a moment of crisis, thanks to the failure of the Bush era and 9/15/08, the near collapse of the world financial system. We cannot help but feel that the American system is falling apart.

Hence I would argue that Marxism is still relevant.

Lenin criticized the utopians as ‘idealists’ and dreamers in his book, “What is to be Done?” But the fact remains that the Marxist dream eventually did not succeed for more than a few generations; then it fell apart. The people were repressed and felt stifled under it, and it did not flower into a democratic form of socialism.

The spectre of Marxism remains, however, in terms of the necessary critique of recent developments of Capitalism, which allied with the State and the Military, have given us two bloody wars. Most people today don’t accept the necessity for the Iraq war, and the Afghan war has floundered. American attempts to create a democracy in regions that have NEVER known democracy have largely failed.

We may have to await a new formulation of a democratic critique of postwar American capitalism, which seems to have supplied us with endless unwanted wars; failed gov’t policies; and boom and bust cycles of capitalism, which plunge millions of people into poverty. We are living in the midst of a social, economic and environmental crisis.

Despite Marx’s pronouncement that “heretofore the philosophers have merely interpreted the world; the point is to change it,” Marxism today remains vital and relevant as a critique of society and the social order, rather than as a blueprint for a new society, freed from capitalistic struggle and labour strife.
WalMart’s attacks on the wage-workers is one point of departure for those of us who criticise capitalism itself.

Marx for us remains a great, bold thinker, but Marxism needs updating and rethinking if it is ever again to capture the intelligence and imagination of the enlightened part of the world. Marx remains an inspiration, but he may end up as a name in the history of sociology, rather than as the best articulator of the doldrums of capitalism.

revised, Dec. 26, 2012

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“War is peace, peace is war!”

1. America’s internal peace comes at the price of unending, unwinnable wars.

2. A credibility gap exists between the State and the people.

3. Conflict between the haves and the have-nots erupts. On the one side, the well-off, the upper middle-class, the ostentatious people, and on the other hand the oppressed working-class and the poor. The middle-classes begin to feel solidarity with the poor and hatred of the classes above them.

4. Hence, class warfare is inevitable.

5. Crony capitalism, exposed. The combined power of Wall Street and the state leads to corruption.

6. Capitalism entails that greater and greater profits be squeezed from people who are working harder and harder. No matter how hard they work, they never really ‘get ahead.’

7. Our culture in decline, standards being driven downwards, intentionally! The system fears the spark of intelligence that might lead to solidarity among the classes, which would result in a potential rebellion or revolution.

8. Television, the other “opiate of the masses.” God said “Let there be light,” and the Devil said, “let there be television.”

9. “The idea of socialism” must be brought to the working-class so they will storm, yes “storm the bastions of capitalism” [Isaac Deutscher].

10. Throughout history, the wealthy have translated economic power into political power, making a farce of so-called “Democracy.”

11. Globalization: meaning that they sent manufacturing from the US to 3rd World countries intentionally, to vitiate America‘s working-classes!

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On Capitalism. An essay.

In every state of the Union, the wealthy lord it over the so-called middle class. The working class and the poor must suffer. We live under a ‘class system,’ in which most of society’s wealth has been distributed upward to the few.

The state has created a class of people dependant on welfare because the minimum wage is entirely insufficient for human sustenance. The rich want to prevent real wealth redistribution by the State via taxation, which might create a more democratic free society, and they wish to control the harnesses of political and media power.

We are presently witnessing a phony ‘crisis of capitalism.’ The system thrives on cheap labor, so the corporations, the rich, the powerful, the banks, have fundamentally rigged the political system in their favor. Thus they can attack the unions; they can lower educational and work standards. They manipulate the currency, control the mass media, and fund both political parties so that they are almost one and the same. They ship jobs overseas, and then import cheap products made by near-slave labor in the Third World back to the US. They lull people’s minds to sleep via the television, second-rate education, and they promote phony religion.

America today, after years of Reaganomics, a bloody swindle which enriched the privileged few and corporate America, is a virtual ‘banana republic.’ The average person will never live as well as the Bush family or the Rockefellers, but they very well might slide into a lower socioeconomic status. They might see Johnny shipped to the military to fight futile, unwinnable wars, and watch their society slowly being ripped to shreds before their very eyes. Entire towns go under, industries are shipped abroad, and meanwhile corporations make record profits and skimp on paying taxes, thus preventing states from funding things like social services to the extent necessary.

We must ask, what is capitalism? According to Marx, it is a system in which the owners of capital and the means of production wage nearly unrestricted economic warfare against the have-nots. The control of the economic pie by the few is the essence of American democracy.

Capitalism, historically, tends toward the creation of monopolies.

Take for instance, the Rockefellers. They are on the board of Exxon mobil, Rockefeller center (where NBC produces its shows), coal mining in West Virginia, and have countless other shell companies in order to protect their indescribable wealth. Whoever controls the mass media can best influence public discourse and public policy. They were involved the development of the Manhattan Project, ties to Latin America, the development of television, and the Republican Party ‘s liberal wing. Rockefeller was both Gov. of NY State and VP of the USA. He was instrumental in the construction of the trade towers. Hence, why not just call NY, ‘Rockefeller’s playground?’ That is basically what is has become, the backyard of a handful of people where unimaginable wealth stands in stark contrast to the growth of slum-ridden welfare-dependent neighborhoods. Rockefeller built up NY state in order to better control it! Hence the development of SUNY, the NY State Highway System, mass transit, et cetera.

How can anyone claim that NY is anything but a ‘corporate plutocracy?”

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an essay on the crisis of capitalism

Capitalists are in perpetual conflict with organized labor. Workers working on their own never seem to get ahead, for the dollar loses value every year and the cost of living rises. They can never buy the chic goods of the marketplace, the products and services presented in commercials, except on credit, thus enriching the banks. When jobs disappear, then the members of the working-class fight with one another or are militarized, institutionalized, or imprisoned. The working-class supplies society’s labor power, yet paradoxically it is entirely voiceless. The policeman exists to keep him or her in a state of fear. The bosses of capitalism seek cheap labor, and the right to fire and hire at will. The State obliges them. Hence capitalism means “class warfare of the rich against the poor.” The banks, the corporations, the state, exist to keep the oppressed down, and the mass media supplies them with stupid entertainment.

Capitalism’s crisis is caused by a rising cost of living while wages for the workers stagnate. This leads to social disorder. The bosses crack down on labor unions, keeping the workers in a state of fear. When the members of the upper and middle classes join at last in SOLIDARITY with the members of the lower-classes, then you will have a season of revolt. Since big cities promote an increasingly unattainable, materialistic lifestyle to the poor and the workers, and since banks and firms are located within these cauldrons of alienated labor, it is inevitable that class conflict will openly play out on the streets of cities.

The members of the oppressed classes must become “class-conscious“. The rich associate with one another in their yachts, country clubs and manors; the middle-classes aspire to be like the rich and fear sinking down to the level of the poor, so they also try to segregate themselves in their subdivisions. The rich can see the class-system at work within their own households since they usually have servants of another race or nation feeding them. Hence it is fair to say that “Property“ causes class-divisions to arise. Debates about the inequities of the system emerge at the dinner-tables of all classes. The State cannot afford to ignore the welfare of the poor, so the debate continues onto the floors of Congress and the White House.

Sociologists are needed to analyze the nature of the social system. There is a war between the haves and the have-nots. The rich must protect their own interests, which they translate into political power. They may be sympathetic to the plight of the poor, but they cannot reform the system. The poor and the working classes must translate their power into organized political power with a demand for a “living wage“. Union bosses will cooperate with the capitalists and the state when wars break out, but in times of peace they are all too timid in pressing for reforms. Class warfare inevitably erupts because of the lack of real social democracy. The class divide, thus, is everywhere.

The police and the military, the armed wings of the state, imprison a portion of the working class, on the one hand, or send them into harms ‘ way on the other. This also helps revolution from erupting openly. The alternative to this failed situation is Solidarity. The intelligensia and the students, sons and daughters of the working and middle-class and the rich, are aware that ‘education’ is no real solution, because the system is designed to remain the same! Nothing changes. If some move up or down the ladder, others will take their places. It is only when the classes join with the oppressed and the poor, and take their protests out on the streets that the media’s attention will be captured. The SPARK of consciousness helps to ignite the much-needed rebellion or revolution.

An economic pyramid is the essence of the class system.

The poor, the working-class, the immigrants and migrants are the proletariat.
The lower-middle-classes and the middle-class are the petit bourgeoisie.

The upper-middle-class, educated and often well-traveled, are the bourgeoisie.

The rich and the super rich are the superior classes.

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The American class system, analyzed:

How can one deny that there is such a thing as a class system? It is as clear as daylight. The rich, the corporations, the banks are among the top two percent who rule the classes below them. They grab more and more of the economic pie, which seems to be diminishing, leaving the middle-class with the tax bill, student loan debt, higher and higher costs of living, and more and more agita. The lower middle-classes, the working poor and the hopelessly poor below them find themselves increasingly ghettoized and alienated from the system, with few legitimate escapes open to them.

It is the spark of consciousness that is needed in order for social solidarity to emerge, such as we are now seeing in the protests on the streets of cities! We support OWS.

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articles on protest and politics

4 Sep

Heywoud Broun

American Newspaper Guild

The reason for giving this sketchy biography was because of a quote I found by Heywood Broun from May, 1936. His thoughts were on what must have seemed even then the unavoidable war in Europe and the rise of the fascists in Italy and Germany.

“I am quite ready to admit that the word Fascism has been used very loosely. Sometimes we call a man a Fascist simply because we dislike him, for one reason or another. And so I’ll try to be pretty literal in outlining some of the evidence which I see as the actual danger of Fascism in America. First of all, we need a definition.

Fascism is a dictatorship from the extreme Right, or to put it a little more closely into our local idiom, a government which is run by a small group of large industrialists and financial lords. Of course, if you want to go back into recent history) the influence of big business has always been present in our federal government. But there have been some checks on its control. I am going to ask latitude to insist that we might have Fascism even though we maintained the pretense of democratic machinery. The mere presence of a Supreme Court, a House of Representatives, a Senate and a President would not be sufficient protection against the utter centralization of power in the hands of a few men who might hold no office at all.

Even in the case of Hitler, many shrewd observers feel that he is no more than a front man and that his power is derived from the large munitions and steel barons of Germany. … Now one of the first steps which Fascism must take in any land in order to capture power is to disrupt and destroy the labor movement. … I think it is not unfair to say that any business man in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions, is laying foundations for Fascism.”
=======

Score another victory for RootsAction.org and our allies. 49,763 of us signed the petition at StarsEarnStripes.org protesting NBC’s war-is-fun “reality” show co-hosted by former general Wesley Clark.

Activists in New York have held a weekly protest and delivered the petitions. The bad press has been voluminous, while the viewership has plummeted. It’s safe to say there’sScore another victory for RootsAction.org and our allies. 49,763 of us signed the petition at StarsEarnStripes.org protesting NBC’s war-is-fun “reality” show co-hosted by former general Wesley Clark.

Activists in New York have held a weekly protest and delivered the petitions. The bad press has been voluminous, while the viewership has plummeted. It’s safe to say there’s no immediate future for this show. It ends tonight.

TV viewers may be spared Wesley Clark for a while as he’s been dropped by both NBC and DNC. Turned down in his offer to speak at the Democratic National Convention, Clark will speak at another event in Charlotte tonight.

But even with the former NATO commander out of sight, the warfare state drags on.

Take this moment to ask the DNC to drop its support for war and war preparation.

This year people are celebrating Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday. One of his less-known songs is “I’ve Got to Know.” — The RootsAction.org team

P.S. Our small staff is supported by contributions from people like you; your donations are greatly appreciated.

———–

This Labor Day, as politicians make speeches recognizing the contributions of American workers, they will also try to convince voters that their vision for restoring the middle class is best.

Voters know the state of the economy. We know that the middle class is eroding. We know that what is happening now is the result of decades of policies that favor the rich and corporations.

This November presents a choice between President Obama and other candidates who stand with working people, and candidates like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who back a platform that destroys public services and envisions a future in which the rich and big corporations get even richer.

Right-wing Republicans across this country share a common record of campaigning against working people. We saw it last year in Wisconsin, where busting unions became a policy objective. We saw it earlier this year in Alabama, when Republicans passed one of the country’s most outrageous anti-immigrant bills instead of focusing on the state’s job crisis and faltering education system. And today, we are seeing it in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and every other state where right-wing legislatures passed voter identification laws in an attempt to keep low-income people, youth and communities of color from the polls.

It is meaningless for elected leaders to deliver empty rhetoric about working people’s contribution on Labor Day — or any day — without using their power in Washington to create an economy that works for all.

Let us know how you can help us win for the 99% in November.

In Solidarity,

Mary Kay Henry
President, Service Employees International Union

P.S. SEIU will be fighting for the 99% Agenda at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. all this week. Click here to sign up for updates from the Convention.

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Published on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 by Common Dreams

Meteorologists Adjust Official Stance: Human Activity Causing Climate Change

New language removes ambiguity from group’s previous statements on global warming and extreme weather

– Common Dreams staff
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Earth First! Blockades Florida’s Dirtiest Power Plant on the Heels of Romney’s RNC Acceptance Speech

APOLLO BEACH, FL – August 31 – In the climax of the 2012 Republican National Convention, protestors with Earth First! on Thursday blocked access roads to TECO’s Big Bend coal plant on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The environmental action group is citing corporate influence in politics and ecological impacts of fossil fuel dependency as reasons for the disruption.

This year’s RNC was funded by an estimated $55 million in corporate pay-offs, with corporations including the Tampa based-TECO Energy, along with Chevron, Duke Energy and Exxon Mobil.

According to a report by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last year, Florida is among the dirtiest states in power plant pollution. NRDC found TECO’s Big Bend plant to be in the state’s, “top three most polluting smoke stacks.”

Earth First! activists chose their protest in order to highlight Mitt Romney’s plan to expand what the group calls the “energy empire” which favors the interest of big donors in oil, gas and coal industries.

Romney’s top energy policy advisor is the wealthiest oilman in the country and according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics, Romney has already raised more from mining interests than Bush or McCain raised from these industries in their entire campaigns.

Locally, TECO’s Big Bend plant has a long history of pollution. Along with being declared Florida’s number one dirtiest power plant by Florida Consumer Action Network, they were also documented discharging waste into Cobia Bay in Apollo Beach in years past.

But that’s not all. TECO has been called one of the nation’s worst offenders when it comes to mountaintop removal coal mining. In coal mining regions of the Appalachian Mountains, TECO has ruined entire communities to maximize their profits. Kentucky coalfield resident Doug Justice worked in the coal mines for 22 years and said “I have never seen an outfit treat a community the way TECO Coal has done us.”

In response to the devastation from floods caused be TECO’s mining in 2002, Granville Burke of Letcher County, Kentucky, had this to say: “I wish TECO had never started mining above our home. Protection for families like ours is supposed to come from the state and federal regulatory agencies, but instead they look the other way as coal companies destroy entire communities for the sake of profit.”

“Dirty energy becomes dirty politics. We can’t afford to stand by and watch it anymore. We have to fight back.” Said Rachel Kijewski, an organizer with the Earth First! movement in Florida.

——–

Corporations: Yes, We’re Moving Abroad to Get Lower Tax Rates

– Common Dreams staff

U.S. corporations are continuing tax dodging practices to boost their profits by the millions by reincorporating abroad, an article The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday shows.

(photo: d*unit / Flickr) John D. McKinnon and Scott Thurm describe how 10 companies have moved or have announced plans to move their incorporation address oversees since 2009 in an effort to lower their effective tax rate.

Alexander Cutler, chief executive of Eaton, a Cleveland-based company that has reincorporated in Ireland, said, “We have too high a domestic rate and we have a thoroughly uncompetitive international tax regime.” The move is saving the company $160 million a year.

Another company that moved is Ensco, now saving more than $100 million a year in tax dodging.

Yet while companies complain of a burdensome corporate tax rate of 35% and say that was a motivating factor behind their reincorporation oversees, very few companies actually pay that rate.

A Reuters report from May describing the Eaton reincorporation lays this out as well:

The top U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, the highest in the world, though few companies actually pay that much due to abundant loopholes that lower their effective rates.

The Eaton-Cooper deal comes as the U.S. Congress inches toward a broad corporate tax code overhaul. The deal could add momentum to that effort, with Republicans arguing that high U.S. tax rates can drive companies to drastic measures.

In what could be a painful drain on the Treasury over time, at least seven U.S. companies in recent months have chosen through acquisition or merger to renounce their U.S. corporate citizenship by relocating to Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland or other lower-tax countries.

“There have been more of these in the last two months than in the five years before,” said Bob Willens, an independent tax analyst and publisher of The Willens Report.

The Eaton-Cooper deal will lead to $160 million in annual tax savings for the combined company, even though Eaton in practice already pays far less than 35 percent. That is thanks to its foreign subsidiaries, many of which are already in low-tax countries such as Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands.

In fact, many companies are paying a negative tax rate, as data from Citizens for Tax Justice show.

While there has been talk of the deficit at the Republican National Convention going on now in Tampa, there has been no talk of the impact closing corporate tax loopholes would have on the deficit.

“These big, profitable corporations are continuing to shift their tax burden onto average Americans,” said Citizens for Tax Justice director Bob McIntyre. “This isn’t fair to the rest of us, it makes no economic sense, and it’s part of the reason our government is running huge budget deficits.”

“Getting rid of corporate tax subsidies that cause such widespread tax avoidance ought to be a key part of any deficit-reduction program,” said McIntyre. “As a bonus, revenue-raising corporate tax reform would make it much easier to fund the investments we need to improve education and repair our crumbling roads and bridges — things that would actually help businesses and our economy grow.”
=-===============

Published on Friday, August 31, 2012 by The Sacramento Bee

Raising Minimum Wage Can Yank Millions Out of Poverty and Jump-Start Economy

by Mark Weisbrot

The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour and hasn’t been raised in three years. But a raise is much more overdue than that. If we look at the minimum wage 44 years ago, and simply adjust it for inflation, it would be more than $10 today.

This is another ugly symptom of what has gone wrong in America over the last 35 to 40 years. From 1979 to 2007, about 60 percent of the income gains have gone to the now infamous 1 percent at the top, with the majority of those gains going to the top 0.1 percent – people who made, on average, $5.6 million per year.

But some of the worst effects of giving more to those who have the most have affected people toward the bottom of the income ladder, and there is no excuse for it.

Productivity – the amount that a worker produces in an hour – has more than doubled over the last 44 years. When the minimum wage doesn’t rise, or falls in terms of its purchasing power, it means that these millions of low-income workers are not sharing in the gains from improved technology, knowledge and organization.

There is currently legislation before Congress to raise the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $9.80, over three years. After that it would be indexed to inflation.

Contrary to prevailing myths about who would benefit from a proposed increase in the minimum wage, 88 percent of the 28 million workers affected are not teenagers.

As the Economic Policy Institute has shown, the majority are full-time workers, and on average they earn about half of their families’ income. And 28 percent of the nation’s 76 million children would have a parent who would benefit from the raise.

Another oversize myth promoted by the fast-food industry and other low-wage employers is that raising the minimum wage hurts workers by increasing unemployment. Although it is theoretically possible to raise minimum wages enough to cause employers to hire fewer workers, there is hardly any indication from economic research that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would have this effect.

Employment in the overall economy depends on aggregate demand or spending, which is determined – especially in our currently weak economy – by macroeconomic policy, including the Federal Reserve, and fiscal policy.

And raising the minimum wage doesn’t only cut into profits, it also increases demand in the economy by moving income to workers who spend more than those who receive profit.

The EPI estimated that the proposed increase in the minimum wage would actually increase employment.

In Brazil, the minimum wage was raised by 60 percent in real terms by the country’s most popular president, Lula da Silva – a former metal worker and union leader – as Brazil’s economy moved toward record low levels of unemployment. Across South America, other governments including Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela have significantly reduced inequality while increasing economic growth.

What a shame that the hemisphere’s richest country, where it would be so much easier to lift-up the working poor, has moved in the opposite direction.

It means that the U.S. political system is actually more corrupt and less democratic in very important ways than those of our developing country neighbors to the south.

The vast majority of Americans would favor an increase in the minimum wage, as well as restoring the rights of labor to organize unions. But our financial elite have a veto over what we want to vote for, in large part because of our system of legalized bribery – aka, the financing of political candidates’ elections.

Raising the minimum wage is about the minimum that we could do to reverse America’s retreat from civilization at home.

© 2012 McClatchy Tribune Services

on Dissent , by Chris Hedges.

20 Aug

Published on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 by TruthDig.com

Criminalizing Dissent

by Chris Hedges

 

I was on the 15th floor of the Southern U.S. District Court in New York in the courtroom of Judge Katherine Forrest last Tuesday. It was the final hearing in the lawsuit I brought in January against President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. I filed the suit, along with lawyers Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran, over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We were late joined by six co-plaintiffs including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg.(Photo by CTJ71081 CC-BY)

This section of the NDAA, signed into law by Obama on Dec. 31, 2011, obliterates some of our most important constitutional protections. It authorizes the executive branch to order the military to seize U.S. citizens deemed to be terrorists or associated with terrorists. Those taken into custody by the military, which becomes under the NDAA a domestic law enforcement agency, can be denied due process and habeas corpus and held indefinitely in military facilities. Any activist or dissident, whose rights were once protected under the First Amendment, can be threatened under this law with indefinite incarceration in military prisons, including our offshore penal colonies. The very name of the law itself—the Homeland Battlefield Bill—suggests the totalitarian credo of endless war waged against enemies within “the homeland” as well as those abroad.

“The essential thrust of the NDAA is to create a system of justice that violates the separation of powers,” Mayer told the court. “[The Obama administration has] taken detention out of the judicial branch and put it under the executive branch.”

In May, Judge Forrest issued a temporary injunction invalidating Section 1021 as a violation of the First and Fifth amendments. It was a courageous decision. Forrest will decide within a couple of weeks whether she will make the injunction permanent.

In last week’s proceeding, the judge, who appeared from her sharp questioning of government attorneys likely to nullify the section, cited the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as a precedent she did not want to follow. Forrest read to the courtroom a dissenting opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson in Korematsu v. United States, a ruling that authorized the detention during the war of some 110,00 Japanese-Americans in government “relocation camps.”

“[E]ven if they were permissible military procedures, I deny that it follows that they are constitutional,” Jackson wrote in his 1944 dissent. “If, as the Court holds, it does follow, then we may as well say that any military order will be constitutional, and have done with it.”

Barack Obama’s administration has appealed Judge Forrest’s temporary injunction and would certainly appeal a permanent injunction. It is a stunning admission by this president that he will do nothing to protect our constitutional rights. The administration’s added failure to restore habeas corpus, its use of the Espionage Act six times to silence government whistle-blowers, its support of the FISA Amendment Act—which permits warrantless wiretapping, monitoring and eavesdropping on U.S. citizens—and its ordering of the assassination of U.S. citizens under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, is a signal that for all his rhetoric, Obama, like his Republican rivals, is determined to remove every impediment to the unchecked power of the security and surveillance state. I and the six other plaintiffs, who include reporters, professors and activists, will most likely have to continue this fight in an appellate court and perhaps the Supreme Court.

The language of the bill is terrifyingly vague. It defines a “covered person”—one subject to detention—as “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.” The bill, however, does not define the terms “substantially supported,” “directly supported” or “associated forces.” In defiance of more than 200 earlier laws of domestic policing, this act holds that any member of a group deemed by the state to be a terrorist organization, whether it is a Palestinian charity or a Black Blocanarchist unit, can be seized and held by the military. Mayer stressed this point in the court Wednesday when he cited the sedition convictions of peace activists during World War I who distributed leaflets calling to end the war by halting the manufacturing of munitions. Mayer quoted Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ dissenting 1919 opinion. We need to “be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe,” the justice wrote.

The Justice Department’s definition of a potential terrorism suspect under the Patriot Act is already extremely broad. It includes anyone with missing fingers, someone who has weatherproof ammunition and guns, and anyone who has hoarded more than seven days of food. This would make a few of my relatives in rural Maine and their friends, if the government so decided, prime terrorism suspects.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Torrance argued in court that the government already has the authority to strip citizens of their constitutional rights. He cited the execution of Nazi saboteur Richard Quirin during World War II, saying the case was “completely within the Constitution.” He then drew a connection between that case and the AUMF, which the Obama White House argues permits the government to detain and assassinate U.S. citizens they deem to be terrorists. Torrance told the court that judicial interpretation of the AUMF made it identical to the NDAA, which led the judge to ask him why it was necessary for the government to defend the NDAA if that was indeed the case. Torrance, who fumbled for answers before the judge’s questioning, added that the United States does not differentiate under which law it holds military detainees. Judge Forrest, looking incredulous, said that if this was actually true the government could be found in contempt of court for violating orders prohibiting any detention under the NDAA.

Forrest quoted to the court Alexander Hamilton, who argued that judges must place “the power of the people” over legislative will.

“Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power,” Hamilton, writing under the pseudonym Publius, said in Federalist No. 78. “It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental.”

Contrast this crucial debate in a federal court with the empty campaign rhetoric and chatter that saturate the airwaves. The cant of our political theater, the ridiculous obsessions over vice presidential picks or celebrity gossip that dominate the news industry, effectively masks the march toward corporate totalitarianism. The corporate state has convinced the masses, in essence, to clamor for their own enslavement. There is, in reality, no daylight between Mitt Romney and Obama about the inner workings of the corporate state. They each support this section within the NDAA and the widespread extinguishing of civil liberties. They each will continue to funnel hundreds of billions of wasted dollars to defense contractors, intelligence agencies and the military. They each intend to let Wall Street loot the U.S. Treasury with impunity. Neither will lift a finger to help the long-term unemployed and underemployed, those losing their homes to foreclosures or bank repossessions, those filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills or college students burdened by crippling debt. Listen to the anguished cries of partisans on either side of the election divide and you would think this was a battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. You would think voting in the rigged political theater of the corporate state actually makes a difference. The charade of junk politics is there not to offer a choice but to divert the crowd while our corporate masters move relentlessly forward, unimpeded by either party, to turn all dissent into a crime.

© 2012 TruthDig.com

 

 

 

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph

Slaves of Capital; Social democracy

9 Jul

Below represents my notes on reading up on Marx recently. I am looking for a better theory of “Social Democracy,” which seems to be the only acceptable political solution to the twin problems of 1. hegemonic capitalism and 2. the permanent state of war brought to you by the D of D. So here goes:

Notes on Econ, or “Slaves of Capitalism”

“If you tell people the truth too clearly, they won’t believe you”

Thesis

: It is the corporate elite that run Amerika. A CEO can start with $140,000 and be in the top 10 percent of salary earners, ie ‘slave-drivers‘. This upper class runs Amerika, just as Britain has its upper class of ‘Aristos‘. The truth about the “American class system structure ” is simply not told publicly, or at least is not told too clearly.

Inequality

is the essence of life in the USA. Society, indeed, produces inequality. So why does no one, virtually, protest the way that things are? Is it because people are misinformed? Is it because they’re afraid, a bunch of consumerist “sheep”? Is it because they’re apathetic, indifferent, and just don’t care? Where is social solidarity?

“We’re free” the press declares. President Bush agrees. The consensus is overwhelming. But are we in fact “free”? And define what you mean by “freedom”!

After World War Two, the US had six percent of the population, but produced fifty percent of the world’s goods. There was no question who had won that enormous conflict. America’s competitors lay in ruins. But that was then… now the entire economy of the world has been shown to be vulnerable, out of the control of the White House, and certainly out of the control of your average Joe.

During the Oil Crisis of 1973, it was proven that the US’s position was far more vulnerable than it had been perceived to be previously. In 1974, median family income was $40,000. In 2008, it was just $45,000, according to my sources, after taking into account the decline of the dollar, “median family income’ has remained stagnant (Lou Dobbs)!!

Median family income went up from 43% from 1960 to 1974, a tremendous boom that went on despite the Vietnam War.

People worked harder, and society seemed to be improving. Progress had occurred, and America, if not for the riots and the Vietnam War, was the envy of the world. The Consumer Society was working, but at the price of an horrific war! But, after 1973, it started reversing those gains, after the Oil Crisis showed that the US was vulnerable because it was dependant on OPEC. Society during the 70’s started to have a massive nervous breakdown, along with ‘the family”, the car companies, the White House, the Army… everything seemed to be shuddering with dysfunction and collapse.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we endured the Reagan era, when all the gains went to the top ten percent. And then the Bush I era, which gave the world its first major US-led war in over twenty years. WE Suffered through two major wars on the subject of who will control the Gulf’s Oil. “No blood for oil’, was the anti-war cry, but it went unheeded. Neither Bush I nor Clinton could alter the calculus of oil dependency in our economy.

If Americans perceive that their way of life is stagnating or slipping away, since it is dependant on cheap oil, reasonably priced autos, and corporate profits, then how long will it be before signs of mass discontent start to show themselves? The Seventies were a period of ‘stagflation’, and of the beginning of America‘s economic decline. Certainly New York City began to decline, in terms of the quality of life.

What will the coming decade bring? This unanswered question terrifies half the population. Post-industrial Amerika may be morphing into the end of the “rising tide of prosperity” America of smiley-face Ronald Reagan. We may be witnessing now the destruction of the American way of life .

According to Karl Marx, Capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction. The worker sells his time and labor to the capitalist employer, who pays him just enough to keep coming back for more (wages). The “democratic system” really serves the interest of those who employ the masses, who merely vote to perpetuate the system that brings great wealth to some — and “not enough‘ wealth to the worker.

In order to keep the economy going, new machines proved to be the key to productivity. Machines increase productivity and the profit margin of companies, leading to the creation of an excess of consumer products which must be used up if there is to be further production. “Use and throwaway” is the nature of the post-industrial economy. If there exists a lack of consumer demand for a product within nation number one’s borders (demand must be stimulated by advertising), then this requires that colonial markets have to be ‘conquered” in order for nation number two’s masses to consume the surplus of what nation one creates. If Americans don’t buy the number of cars produced, then foreigners have to begin buying them– or else the corporation is in trouble. If Americans don’t buy the amount of oil that keeps the Arab Gulf States profitable, then they will either go out of the oil business, or have to seek “new markets” i.e., China and the developing world. The problem is that the incomes of Chinese and the people of the third world are too low for there to be enough cars bought and oil consumed, leading to a “crisis” such as we are presently experiencing. These are the problems of the globalization of the economy, under which workers have neither protection nor ‘rights‘.

The deflation of the currency hurts the worker. The value of a dollar declines by half over 10 years. This can only lead to mass discontent and dissatisfaction, which may lead to who knows what form of mass behavior? Drugs and religion and TV help prevent the emergence of any mass awareness of what is really going on. Sinister, isn’t it?

Finance capitalism, meaning banks and investment houses. Managerial capitalism, meaning corporate America. These exist at the top of the food chain, along with doctors and lawyers and politicians and those who control the mass media.

Society is structured like a pyramid, and those at the top of the economic pyramid*, ‘the ruling class’ create the soft media that helps brainwash, or persuade, or influence, the masses.

In 1980, the top ten percent‘s share of all taxable income went up by 1/3 or 1/ 2.

Reagan gave away the store to the most powerful of the powerful, and helped turn America into a veritable banana republic. “Thirty-four to forty-six percent of taxable income went to the top ten percent of the wealthy.” Ten percent controls almost fifty percent of the wealth. If that isn’t a banana republic, then what is? While median family income declined or stagnated, they made a staggering thirty-three percent profit. And this applies only to ‘taxed income’, ie ‘revenue’.

Whom are we all working for, anyway? The labor of the poor feeds the rich.

By 1970, Annual rate of growth was near zero. Before that, it was five percent. Inflation was at six percent. Inflation ate up the gains made unless one had invested in something that “beat the system”. Gold, perhaps. Property. Or companies, which utilize tricky accounting procedures in order to realize gains and avoid taxes.

The top one percent of 15,000 taxpayers made 26 million dollars in income. One percent owns sixty- two percent of private business income. One percent owns fifty-one percent in stocks. One percents owns seventy percent of bonds. One percent owns the store

!

Half of America is “working class”.

They will NEVER share in the wealth that accrues to the few. “Trickle down economics” — my foot! The rich get richer, as they say, and the poor get… babies. Or abortions. But they don’t gain in the share of the pie.

And who in government looks out for the interests of this class? Perhaps, no one!

What are TV, radio, media, et cetera, except ‘spreaders of false consciousness’? Has no one ever asked why the US government had such a nauseating spasm of hysteria over a few alleged communists during the fifties? Is it because they were not so much afraid of the communists, as of the population discovering the truth about society? Hmm?

The film, “Network” touches on the diabolical pyramid structure of Amerika. The character Howard Beale very clearly analyzes how the elite controls society, and use television as a means of increasing its own power at the expense of the truth. He enunciated the whole process by which Gulf Arabs, large corporations, large banks and big media profit off our society. Is government protecting us from them? Of course not! They can buy government off!

American post-democracy, or pseudo-democracy, is what we live under. A regime in which the people are powerless to alter their situation. How did Ancient Rome control its heavily-taxed working class? With Bread and circuses: i.e. welfare and television. When that method began to fail, they instituted the Christian religion, which more or less succeeded in pacifying the masses.

——————————————

Marx’s Kapital: Surplus value, or the excess value created by the worker.

Exchange value: the amount of labor used to create the product.

Use value: the usefulness of the object (commodity)

The difference between the value of products of labor and the cost of producing them (value- cost). Subsistence wages, or the near starvation of the worker, was what helped keep the system in place. Marx wrote also on the ‘dehumanizing effect of money’.

Capitalism signifies the exploitation of the workers.

Alienation; the existence of wage-labor is based on the violent separation of the masses of producers from control over the tools and instruments with which they work.

The capitalist machine

: US steel, standard oil, gulf, Swift, Armour, general foods, AT&T, GE, Westinghouse, Alcoa, Anaconda, DuPont, American tobacco, GM, RCA.

It all comes down to “Who owns what and whom?”

They want only one thing: to keep the working class working, ad perpetua, ad infinitum. We’re being used like guinea pigs on a fucking treadmill.

Marx posited that there is a structure to society, built on private property.

On top, was the aristocracy. In the middle, the bourgeoisie, or ‘middle class’. Below them was a mixture of the working class and the poor.

———————————————————————————————————-

“The ruling ideas of each age have been the ideas of its ruling class,” Karl Marx.

 

 

 

In Solidarity

9 Jul

In Solidarity

 

Capitalism is fundamentally an inhuman system. It is not designed to advance human welfare, but to promote the buying and selling of material things. The downside of ‘progress’ under capitalism is that labor must remain cheap in order for the capitalists to be persuaded to invest in a particular region. The only motivating factor of the capitalists is profit, profit, profit. But for the workers this means suffering, since the iron law of wages (Ricardo) is to remain low. This creates a profitable investing environment for the capitalists. The workers work harder and harder, but remain at the same level in society, while the capitalist-class profits from their labor and escapes to their golf courts.

In Spain and Italy, a worker-controlled system was tried with some success, but it was destroyed by the fascists during the 1930’s. The capitalists will partner with unsavory governments in order to protect their interests. The governments will then use the mechanisms of the system — the law, the police, the national guard- in order to suppress any rioting and protesting workers in the event of a mass uprising.

Capitalism fundamentally means the promotion of private interests over the public interest. The capitalists will invest in a region if they believe that the class of available labor will work in their interest, and will not rebel against their system.

Solidarity, or the monkey wrench, is what is needed to jam up the system that has been created by the haves, who mock the have-nots.

 

The purpose of ‘education’ is largely to keep young people from rebelling against authority. The workers, the poor, the oppressed, minorities, and foreigners are the natural allies of the young. If all of these diverse groups could put aside their alienation and work together, forming new political alliances, then they would have the makings of a ‘movement.’ The new media technology must be utilized in order to foster such a development.

It is axiomatic that capitalism depends on the employment of wage-slavery, and reduces millions of people to the level of being peons and serfs. If the enlightened members of the upper-middle-class, and the intelligensia in universities, think tanks, and the mass media, were to join in solidarity with these protesting groups, then they would be able to create a social-democratic revolution.

Economic problems ensue from capitalism despite the rhetoric of the politicians. The dollar, it is noted, declines in value every year. The cost of living rises. Things and services become more expensive. The middle-class shrinks. The workers, toiling harder and harder, try to stay afloat but cannot pay their expenses. They live virtually in fear, and the police are more threatening to them more than the criminals. This in essence is the crisis of capitalism. It has been engineered by elites in the banking, governmental, and business systems in order to keep the working-class poor and ‘in their place.’ We need to spread consciousness of the inner workings of the system, in order to disrupt it, because inertia will otherwise prevail and the status-quo will remain.

April 5, 2012

Supporting evidence: “Stagnant incomes, a federal budget gone way out of balance, soaring energy costs, a once-in-a-lifetime housing crash, and growing financial risks in retirement and from health care.” Justin Fox, Time Almanac, 2009, p. 701.

“75 % of all income gains from 2002 to 2006 went to the top 1 % — households making more than $382,600 a year.” (ibid).

“Globalization holds down earnings for millions of Americans who compete with workers overseas.” (ibid).

“Expect abuse of power.” Jennifer Holzer, artist.

 

 

Duplication, from “slaves of kapitalism.”

————————–

Is there anything that America won’t sell you?

Only eat things that are natural. If they have to sell you something via commercial media, then don’t buy it. They want to market items to you. America’s a commercial society. It’s all about getting you to buy something.

Don’t go to hospitals or doctors unless you know that they’re good. Don’t take over-the-counter medicine. If you have to take pills they give you, be advised. We need to eliminate ‘blind faith’ as mankind’s modus operandi. Institutions are all about ‘faith.’ The sad truth is that even aspirins can kill you.

The problem may be modern industrial society itself. The air, earth, and water have been polluted by man for centuries. It recently took the State of NY forty years to clean up a toxic dump in upstate NY. That’s how little anyone really cares about you.

We need massive protests in this country, in every capital, in every city, in every state of the union. It’s the only way we can bring attention to the problems of the environment.

They did form the EPA, but they haven’t gone far enough. America has forgotten the power of the people; organize, unite, and inform one another.

Eighteen out of 20 banks in America now promote Asian interests. Manufacturing has been off-shored thus costing communities jobs. They’ve basically sold us out to Red China.

What brought down the Soviet Union was its attempt to stifle all dissent, foreign culture, and the Chernobyl catastrophe. Marxism must acknowledge these mistakes, and must forge closer ties to feminism, culture, populism and environmentalism, or else it won’t survive.

Conclusion: The ideology of America, officially, is one free-market capitalism and Adam Smith‘s laissez-faire’ economics. In truth the US Gov’t has been hijacked by corporations, bankers and the super-rich. When gov’t isn’t protecting the rights of millions of people due to the greed of the top 2 percent of the population, then you have the impetus for a populist revolt! Three million jobs were lost between 2000-09. A Stanford University professor, Sean Reardon, wrote that “The middle-class has dropped from 65 to 44 percent of the population.”

Fifty percent of the US budget goes to the War Machine! That’s money that doesn’t go to help the poor.
Laissez-faire” Reagonomics doesn’t work!

Senator Eric Cantor, Republican, is an inside-trader, receiving over $343,000 from Wall Street while a Congressman. Whose interests does he really represent? Senators sell insider information about new technologies to Wall Street via non-lobbyists! It is called corruption!

The bitter truth is that corporations run America, along with self-protecting elites. CEOS, bankers, senators, so-called religious leaders comprise society‘s elite. In the final analysis, there is nothing truly democratic about American government. The Founding Fathers didn’t want pure democracy, but created a system in which the people would vote for the electors, who would then vote for the President and Veep. It is gov’t of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich that shall not perish from this earth.

from the economist, on class warfare in america

8 Jun

IT DOES not take much to be accused of waging class warfare in America. The charge was levelled last year at Mitt Romney, of all the unlikely leftist agitators, when he suggested that certain tax breaks should be available only to those who earned less than $200,000. Rick Santorum, one of Mr Romney’s rivals for the Republican nomination, though he had promised never to use the word “class”, earned a similar rebuke for pointing out that he came from humble origins, supposedly an implicit contrast with Mr Romney, whose father was a governor and cabinet secretary.

For those who see such comments as tantamount to storming the Bastille, Barack Obama’s recent behaviour might bring to mind St Petersburg in 1917. According to Mr Romney, he is attacking nothing less than capitalism and the free-enterprise system. An article in Forbes magazine calls Mr Obama a “socialist in the European reform-Marxism tradition” although not, to be fair, “a communist of the cold war tradition”. John McCain, whom Mr Obama defeated to win the presidency in 2008, detects “class warfare at its worst”.

In this section »The war over class war

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The main evidence of Mr Obama’s proletarian sympathies is a couple of advertisements recently released by his campaign depicting Bain Capital, the private-equity firm Mr Romney founded and ran for 15 years, as a rapacious corporate raider. In one, downtrodden former employees of a steel mill in which Bain Capital invested describe the firm as a “vampire” which “sucked the life” out of the business, leaving them not only without work but without the health insurance or pensions they had been expecting. In another advertisement, a woman laid off from an office-supply factory asserts that Mr Romney “doesn’t care anything about the middle-class or the lower-class people.”

These ads are unfair, of course, ignoring as they do Bain Capital’s many successful investments, fudging Mr Romney’s role and leaving out many mitigating details. It might be possible to argue that Bain’s financial engineers miscalculated in some instances, extracting too much profit from firms under their control and saddling them with ultimately ruinous debts. But the Obama campaign’s hatchet men are much vaguer and more sweeping, painting a picture of Mr Romney as a callous asset-stripper—a claim for which there is little evidence. Several Democrats have criticised the ads as misleading and misguided—most notably Cory Booker, the Democratic (and black) mayor of **Newark, New Jersey, who described as “nauseating” the fixation of the two campaigns with awkward moments from the candidates’ past.

However, Mr Obama is not the first to raise such charges: during the primaries, all Mr Romney’s Republican rivals did. One of them, Rick Perry, denounced Bain Capital’s approach as “vulture capitalism”. Nor are such gibes unusually incendiary for an American presidential campaign. Al Gore made “the people versus the powerful” one of the themes of his bid for the White House. Harry Truman had a much more virulent turn of phrase, fulminating against the “Republican gluttons of privilege” who had “stuck a pitchfork in the farmer’s back”.

By contrast, even as Mr Obama seeks to cast himself as **the champion of the middle class and to make “fairness” the central theme of the campaign, he is careful to say that he does not want to demonise profits or success, and believes that the vast majority of people in financial services are well intentioned. He himself, he often notes, is a member of ** the 1%. In the speech in which he first framed the election as a choice between unfettered capitalism and a fairer, more regulated version, he still laboriously affirmed that “the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history”. His talk of raising the top tax bracket to just under *40%, and making sure that millionaires pay at least as high a rate as their secretaries, is a far cry from François Hollande, let alone Robespierre.

Mr Obama has even managed to choke out a few kind words about private equity, which, he says, is “a healthy part of the free market”, manned, in many cases, by “folks who do good work”. He claims he has no problem with the industry itself, but simply does not consider it a good proving ground for future presidents (unlike, say, community organising). Mr Romney’s contention that his experience in business will help him get the jobless back to work is flawed, Mr Obama’s argument runs, since private equity exists “to maximise profits, and that’s not always going to be good for communities or businesses or workers”.

What’s fairness, anyway?

The disclaimers are more than a little disingenuous, since Mr Obama often does seem to suggest that financiers are greedy wreckers from whom America’s economy must be saved. But that aside, and in spite of the Republicans’ bluster, his rhetoric is hardly illegitimate or extreme.

***America’s middle class is struggling. **Median incomes are stagnant, while the rich have been getting richer. ***It is easy to argue that **the average Joe is not getting a fair shake—or at least not the same shake he used to. The question is whether voters care most about that, or whether they simply want to see the economy humming again, equitably or not.

In that case, the election will revolve not around fairness, but competence. Mr Romney is fond of saying that Mr Obama has no idea how the economy works and how jobs are created. The way the Obama campaign talks about Bain Capital suggests that his criticism is correct. Mr Obama, as noted above, likes to insinuate that there is a conflict between pursuing profits and creating jobs. In the long run, however, in a competitive economy, that is nonsense. Only profitable firms can sustain any jobs, and the more profitable they are, the more money they have to invest in new ventures with new workers. Mr Obama is guilty not of rhetorical excess but of economic muddle. That is far more worrying.

Economist.com/blogs/lexington

Table of contents

16 Apr
workinprogress66.

“Where democracies have no middle class, and the poor are greatly superior in number, trouble ensues and they are speedily ruined.” Aristotle. “It is the poor who have wanted to rob the rich or the rich who have tried to put the poor in chains.”

Most Americans rightly sense that our mixed free-enterprise economy, which once built a broad middle class, has devolved into a system of *financial socialism by and for elites.

1. the american class system
2. a few words of support (for ows). Notes on econ, or slaves of capitalism.
3. social justice and class interest . the preppy prince
4. the class system in america
5. state of the union
6. capitalism, shell game
7. spark
8 notes, Judson’s book, “It can’t happen here.”
9. Dissent
10. Religion; end of progress ; ny state
11. iraq, afpak wars
12. 4 brief essays on capitalism
13. the american class system
14. pavlovian conditioning
15. poverty
16. kucinich on plutocrat
17. more on poverty
18. essays and pieces of articles
19. more demands
20. new essay
21. from the Economist
22. Nader, Montreal, mim wage