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Harvard and Duke study

11 Mar

Harvard and Duke study shows that the top 20 percent own 84 percent of the wealth. Meaning that the bottom 80 percent of the pop. is chasing 16 percent of the wealth.

 

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iFVvbTfKUYgVxsNFsRdbWz_0LRSA?docId=CNG.6f30bc546f63595bb7c3371011b8e415.451

“On average the top 20 percent of earners were seen as holding just 32 percent of wealth, less than the 84 percent in reality.”

“Perspectives on Psychological Science.”

Business school professors Michael Norton and Dan Ariely .

 

Also, ck out 1. Steele and Barlett, journalists
2. Berkeley, economics dept., Saez
3. Common Cause
4. progressive democrats of america

and other research and journalism groups

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Obama inauguration promises hope for progressive lib politics

22 Jan

Published on Monday, January 21, 2013 by Common Dreams

The Extremist Cult of Capitalism   by Paul Buchheit

 

A ‘cult,’ according to Merriam-Webster, can be defined as “Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work..(and)..a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.”

  Capitalism has been defined by adherents and detractors: Milton Friedman said, “The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system.”

John Maynard Keynes said, “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”  

Perhaps it’s best to turn to someone who actually practiced the art: “Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.” Al Capone said that.  

Capitalism is a cult. It is devoted to the ideals of privatization over the common good, profit over social needs, and control by a small group of people who defy the public’s will. The tenets of the cult lead to extremes rather than to compromise. Examples are not hard to find.  

1. Extremes of Income   By sitting on their growing investments, the richest five Americans made almost $7 billion each in one year. That’s $3,500,000.00 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour.  Our unregulated capitalist financial system allows a few well-positioned individuals to divert billions of dollars from the needs of society. If the 400 richest Americans lumped together their investment profits from last year, the total would pay in-state tuition and fees for EVERY college student in the United States.  

2. Extremes of Wealth   The combined net worth of the world’s 250 richest individuals is more than the total annual living expenses of almost half the world – three billion people.   Within our own borders the disparity is no less shocking. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars. That’s equivalent to a can of soup versus a mansion, a yacht, and a private jet. Most of the Forbes 400 wealth has accrued from nonproductive capital gains. It’s little wonder that with the exception of Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon, the U.S. has the highest degree of wealth inequality in the world.  

3. Extremes of Debt   Up until the 1970s U.S. households had virtually no debt. Now the total is $13 trillion, which averages *out to $100,000 per American family.   Debt appears to be the only recourse for 21- to 35-year-olds, who have lost, on average, 68% of their median net worth since 1984, leaving each of them about $4,000.  

4. Extremes of Health Care   A butler in black vest and tie passed the atrium waterfall and entered the $2,400 suite, where the linens were provided by the high-end bedding designer Frette of Italy and the bathroom glimmered with polished marble. Inside a senior financial executive awaited his ‘concierge’ doctor for private treatment. He was waiting in the penthouse suite of the New York Presbyterian Hospital.   On the streets outside were some of the 26,000 Americans who will die this year because they are without health care. In 2010, 50 million Americans had no health insurance coverage.  

5. Extremes of Justice   William James Rummel stole $80 with a credit card, then passed a bad check for $24, then refused to return $120 for a repair job gone bad. He got life in prison. Christopher Williams is facing over 80 years in prison for selling medical marijuana in Montana, a state which allows medical marijuana. Patricia Spottedcrow got 12 years for a $31 marijuana sale, and has seen her children only twice in the past two years. Numerous elderly Americans are in prison for life for non-violent marijuana offenses.   Banking giant *HSBC, whose mission statement urges employees “to act with courageous integrity” in all they do, was described by a U.S. Senate report as having “exposed the U.S. financial system to ‘a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing'” in their dealings with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which is considered the deadliest drug gang in the world.   HSBC received a fine equivalent to four weeks’ profits. The bank’s CEO said, “we are profoundly sorry.”  

In the words of Bertrand Russell, “Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”   Accurate to the extreme.

 

 

 

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).

“The United States of Television”

5 Jan

“The United States of Television”
a brief essay

“Television is the finest instrument of the devil,” wrote author Norman Mailer. Through it, the mass media has invaded the living rooms of virtually every home in America. It has indoctrinated everyone in the power of consumption; shown us the glamorous life of actors; the two parties and their agenda; the importance of household products to our lives; it has reminded us of the joy of giving at Christmas; the noble pathos of war; and of course, the news from around the world, slanted to showing our own country in a positive light in contrast to the others.

Television has a strange, familiar aspect. In the middle of the night, like the Almighty, it is there when you need it. The sad thing is, we’ve become so conditioned to its presence that we can’t imagine it not being there. Literally, it is our earthly reward for putting up with America’s crime problem; its high cost of living; traffic; pollution; and other ills. The pervasive phenomenon that is television is so potent that it is almost unpatriotic to criticize it. The tube has become, for better or worse, a force in everyone’s lives, replacing the town hall, the parson, and the schoolmarm. It gives us our values, influences our decisions, and has almost achieved personhood. It is the mode whereby commercial forces aim to influence us in our private decisions.

The most salient fact about TV is that it seems to present us with real, unmediated life, when of course, the truth is the opposite. Almost every moment of televised airtime has been carefully stage-managed for maximum result by faceless executives, advertisers, public relations people, political party ops, and other clever bitches and sons of bitches. So powerful is the medium that people have, since its inception, emulated what they see on it. They dress the way they see TV people dress, act the way they act, speak the way they speak. (It can be no coincidence that television emerged, historically, about the same time that Hitler and the Atomic bomb did. It is a symbol of the negation of real meaning. It is a symbol of its own emptiness.)

TV is a force for good, according to some, but to others it is a force of evil. The point is moot. The most salient fact is that TV is not neutral. It propagandizes us, and in the final analysis we allow it to, for the only purpose of television is to get you to watch more television.

Dec 8, 2012

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….

——-
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

—-
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.

——————————————————————————–

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.

——————————————————————————–

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).
. ..

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:

===
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

Haldane on “Reformation of finance.”

4 Nov

Bank of England Executive: Occupy Movement Was ‘Right’

Arguments of anti-banking movement ‘loud and persuasive’

– Common Dreams staff
Published on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 by Common Dreams

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/30-2
http://occupywallst.org/

A senior executive at the Bank of England on Monday said the Occupy London Stock Exchange was “loud and persuasive” and helped prompt a “reformation of finance.”

Bank of England executive Andrew Haldane said Monday that Occupy London Stock Exchange protestors helped prompt a “reformation of finance. (Photo courtesy The Independent.) Andrew Haldane, executive director of financial stability for the bank, said the protestors attracted public support because “they are right,” The Independent reports.

Occupy London Stock Exchange spokesman Ronan McNern said Haldane’s comments were “definitely welcome,” but he added, “They could have done something about this a lot faster.”

While some argue that the group’s efforts have been “long on problems, short on solutions,” and others that the financial system remains “essentially unaltered … and reform has failed,” Haldane said, “I wish to argue both are wrong.”

He continued:

Occupy’s voice has been both loud and persuasive and that policymakers have listened and are acting in ways which will close those fault-lines. In fact, I want to argue that we are in the early stages of a reformation of finance, a reformation which Occupy has helped stir … You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate. And policymakers, like me, will need your continuing support in delivering that radical change.

Barclays and Lloyds seek to change their “sales-oriented culture” and return to their Quaker roots, the BBC reports Haldane said. “There is the quiet, but unmistakable, sound of a leaf being turned. If I am right and a new leaf is being turned, then Occupy will have played a key role in this fledgling financial reformation. You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate. And policymakers, like me, will need your continuing support in delivering that radical change.”

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essays on the sorry state of things in the USA.

23 Oct

essay #1
America: an analysis of a sick society——–

Part One

It is American bourgeois society that is responsible for war, which is caused due to the conflicts inherent within the capitalist system.

The middle class seeks to segregate itself in suburban communities from the lower classes, and is aware that it isn‘t ‘good enough‘ to become the upper class; the lower classes are trapped in their miserable, overworked lives and bear long-held resentments towards the classes above them; the upper classes are threatened by taxes and media scrutiny of ‘white collar crime‘.

*Twenty percent of the budget goes to the Department of Defense, which needs a war every few years in order to justify the expense to maintain a gigantic standing army. The money spent on the military is not returned to civilian society and is largely used to create new weapon-systems that will only be discarded and replaced continuously – or used up in ‘wars of convenience‘. Who pays? The common man and woman pays.

The rich avoid both military service and taxation, in order to prop up their style of living and bribe the congressmen who purport to represent everyone, but whose legislation is usually directed against the working classes. The only way for the working class to escape this vicious cycle is to join the very military half their taxes are paying for.

It is the very structure of society that leads to conflict after conflict with the ‘external enemy‘, in order to avoid reforming itself to deal with the structural inequities produced by Kapitalism. Television and radio exist to produce 24 hour propaganda and whip up hysteria over the supposed enemy. The continual barrage from the mass media represents a kind of brainwashing or thought-control.

The whole US system is held together with televised pablum and misinformation, corrupt government, and the police-state euphemistically called the ‘criminal justice system‘. American jails are bursting at the seams with prisoners because their low-income work does not give them opportunities to improve themselves or pay for the consumer goods they’re led to believe they need to buy. Society is being flooded with minorities who are then blamed by politicians for the problems of society; in truth, they are allowed in by a change in immigration law (1965 Immigration Act); this will help drive down wages and prevent the emergence of a unified proletariat demanding higher wages and union representation.

America is utterly riven with internal social conflicts; hence the need for an ‘external enemy’ and the continual drumbeats of war on “communism“, “terrorism“,“drugs,“ you name it — which serves as the glue that keeps society from reforming itself.

The opiate of the masses, television, exists mainly to keep people brainwashed and cow-content and afraid of the ‘criminals’ they are constantly showing on detective shows to scare the middle classes into accepting right-wing policies of ‘law and order‘; this helps maintain the status quo, keeps the police busy, and prevents the working-class from protesting. The most grotesque crimes occur thanks to society‘s sickness. The complete mockery of democratic ideals that is the existing social order cannot be criticized openly because of society‘s hatred of dissent.

Part Two

The attacks on “Nine-Eleven” proved that government gives priority to military over civilian needs. One suspects that civilian society exists largely to support the military and the State, and not the other way around. The government was unable or unwilling to protect the Pentagon and the World Trade Center despite a military budget of $665 Billion dollars.

*Twenty percent of the US budget goes to the Department of Defense. To add insult to injury, private contractors profit from no-bid contracts forged behind closed doors between senators and their old-boy network friends; and line the pockets of multimillionaire or billionaire politicians who seem very eager to send your son or daughter into harm’s way while their kids get private education and Ivy League treatment. Thus, the average US citizen must play at being the “Policeman of the World”.

Bridges collapse; the Southern border grows increasingly porous; civilian train infrastructure lags decades behind Europe’s; crime flourishes; people die from a lack of affordable health insurance — and why? Because fat, corrupt senators of both parties keep voting for military spending priorities over civilian ones.

In the absence of a threat from “communism“, a new threat called ‘terrorism’ has been manufactured, thanks to the government’s prior sponsorship of Bin Laden (Afghan resistance, 1980‘s “Mujhahadeen“). Although the government claims that the astronomical spending on military technology saves lives during wartime, the Dept. of Defense skimped on spending on helmets in 2003!

The American secondary education system compares poorly to that of many Asian and European nations and produces armies of semi-educated young people. The cost of tuition at colleges and universities continues to skyrocket out of control; Washington does little or nothing to help students pay for it because they want young people to serve in the military. This will help prevent them from thinking independently at a young age, thus leaving real education only for the well-off.

The incredible amount of money being spent on the military’s exigencies and the decline of our now crime-ridden, corrupt society are directly related. Why is US military spending five to six times that of Russia’s in the absence of a Cold War threat? That represents money that will never go into textbooks, affordable housing or other useful services. The poor continue to suffer from an absence of social services, medical insurance, and a safety net; they are being deprived of their human rights.

American workers, stripped of their union rights in order to support the profits of the business class, can barely make ends meet or see any real gains or derive any pleasure from their often low-wage, monotonous work; they are driven into debt in order to pay for consumer goods, and are forced into competition with foreigners who are willing to work for less. The stresses of modern life cause people to age prematurely and die from lack of healthy living in order to achieve the horror of waste that is the “American way of life.”

Television continues to poison the human spirit with soul-destroying, mindless drivel. News shows purport to inform society yet serve often as little more than mouthpieces of faceless corporate behemoths and political parties that serve those private, moneyed interests rather than the public good.

The gasoline crisis continues, enriching the supporters of terrorism; war and violence flourish without end; and mind-boggling levels of political corruption come to be seen as tolerable. Meanwhile, the sheep-like, cowed population refuses to protest.

The “United States” is a misnomer; the “disunited states” would be more apt. The real goals of politicians are to serve multinational corporations that don’t give a damn about communities, providing stable ‘living wage’ jobs, or supporting ‘democracy’, per se. People work fifty, sixty, eighty hours a week to afford things beyond the reach of their checkbooks. The whole ideology of American bourgeois society is fallacious; when people cease believing in it, perhaps there will be room for real ‘change’. In the interim, there will be ‘class warfare’ between the haves and the have-nots.

We are living under the dictates of a National Security State (NSC-18). The military-industrial complex and the State forged a convenient alliance during the emergency that was World War Two, which was quickly revamped for the relatively unnecessary wars of Korea and Vietnam – conflicts that were never won despite the enormous amount of blood and treasure spent on them.

In the United States, 2.3 million people languish in prisons, many for drug and property crimes. Police use illegal tactics and unnecessary force in order to obtain evidence to facilitate the ‘criminal justice system.’

Denmark, by contrast, has 4,200 people in prison; they have socialized medicine; beautiful cities; and a near absence of corruption; tolerance for other peoples’ rights; and a high quality of life marred only by high rates of taxation. All that too is beginning to change thanks to the influx of unwanted Muslim immigrants.

This is the end result of market-driven government-sponsored capitalism. Ten percent own 48 percent of the country’s wealth; that means that ninety percent are fighting over 52 percent remainder of the pie. If the pie isn’t expanding, well, you can see what the results are yourself: crime, chaos, and divided government unable to accomplish anything useful.

Part three

To add further insult to injury, anyone who is critical of society is scorned and maligned. The media propaganda-machine parrots the Administration, thus helping to ‘prevent thought’, which as Orwell wrote, was the very purpose of propaganda. To maintain people’s belief and acceptance of ‘society’ is its purpose; its modus operandi is to limit the capacity for thought of the human mind and constrict it to the ideology of the social order. To further debilitate human intelligence, drug and alcohol abuse are tolerated to the extent that they help keep society ignorant. All that matters is the prevention of a mass uprising against the status quo, for to control society is government’s purpose, not to educate or improve it.

It’s increasingly obvious to the whole world that America cannot live up to its high-flown and outdated rhetoric about ‘democracy,‘ and that modern society produces more ills than it can solve. “Materialism” has become a way of life. Although there exists such luxuries as the Internet, on it is to be found every variety of filth, pornography, spam, and misinformation. Although there are one to two automobiles per suburban family, there is also a high level of debt, high rents, bankruptcies, divorces, drug usage, long commutes, conflicts between employers and the workers, noise pollution, violent arguments, and abysmal traffic. There is also an ongoing breakdown of families and communities that helps fill up the prison system with the less fortunate.

America’s inner cities are becoming sewers of corruption, crime and drug-infested neighborhoods where despair, violence and the after-effects of centuries of racismprevail. Much of America’s problems are systemic in nature, caused by racism, classism, sexism, crime, overpopulation, corruption, bad government, the destruction of the natural environment, as well as uncontrolled mass immigration from third-world countries. In other words, chaos –leading to cries for ‘more police‘ protection for the suburban bourgeoisie. Welfareis grudgingly given to the ghettoized minorities, who are then blamed for their own socio-economic troubles caused by an anti-egalitarian stratification of wealth. America’s economic growth seems to be ‘unsustainable’ and the fear exists that government will succumb to authoritarian solutions if social disorder results.

This is the end result of the country’s growth not into a ‘democratic republic’ –but an Empire, fostered by “Reagonomics,“ corporate greed, and Republican-sponsored class warfare of the ultra-rich against everyone else.

America, the Utopian promise of the world, is in practice a disaster.
Oct 23, 2012.

————

essay 2

The persistence of poverty amidst plenty, that is capitalism. Film can SHOW PEOPLE the failures and inequity of Capitalism.

We are all privileged prisoners in a fool’s paradise. Television was invented to distract a sheep-like, complacent public. T.V. shows represent carefully-crafted illusions for the public to imbibe the capitalist message with its eyes. America is the nation in which the rich flagrantly celebrate their wealth, and the poor, behind closed doors must bite the proverbial ’grapes of wrath’ unseen.

Let us acknowledge that there is a privileged class that will fight for its possessions.

America has not yet succeeded in ending poverty nor in giving everyone ’equal rights.’ What meaning can such rights have when there aren’t any economic rights? The ideology of the state is belied by the reality of life under capitalism, a life of debt and penury for millions of people. In the gap between perception and perceived object lies the truth.

—-

essay 3

Corporate Plutocracy:

An investment banker now makes one million times what a teacher makes.

The corporations have influenced the state and school boards to ‘dumb down,’ the textbooks, because neither corporations nor schools want young people to think for themselves. They saw the educated classes dump on the State during the Vietnam War period, and they applied their lessons well.

The Occupy Wall Street movement in some sense represents a continuation of that kind of principled protest against the dreaded status quo.

Occupy Wall St represents for millions the end of an illusion, namely the uncritical blind faith in capitalism, and the demand for immediate social reform of institutions.

TV, drugs, rock, religion, beer: they all represent the same thing, the attempt to keep the better part of the masses ignorant and happy.

Mankind is separated into socio-economic classes, and it is imperative that the working-class remains ignorant as such. Educated people aren’t going to do the grunt work that the common man must do in order to survive.

====================

Walter Lippman, Harvard University, wrote, “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

The dollar rises about .13 times per year, and wages rise about .12 times per year every year. But the cost of living rises. This keeps millions of people working harder and harder for nothing.

Capitalism means,

a) the collapse of the social contract

b) unrestrained exploitation of the environment

c) war on Unions

d) wal-mart wage-slavery

Detroit now pays $14 an hour when less than a few years it paid $28 an hour, thus plunging millions of workers in poverty.

ALEC means corporations which fund right-wing Republicans: BP, the Koch Brothers, Comcast , duPont, Altria, Ford, Dow Chemicals, Exxon Mobil, SPR, Bayer, UPS, Amazon, Shell Oil.

American politicians now support a permanent Gulag of for-profit, big-profit states: NY, IL, CA, TX, and Fla. Soon it will be all fifty states in the so-called, “Land of the free.” Is this what they died for on the beaches of Anzio and Normandy? The emprisonment of millions of people, just so that the state governors can declare the unemployment level to be lower than what it really is? Just so that corporations can keep wages low, and create a permanent class of wage-slaves?

The Treasury and the Fed over-looked the corruption of Libor, the scandal in which investment bankers manipulated the interest rates in order to profit from the suckers who are ‘born every minute.’

FIGHT GANGSTER CAPITALISM.

essay 4

Three million jobs were lost between 2000-09, when US manufacturing died at the hand of the corporate class and the political class, its paid puppets.

The Fortune 500, not the people, control American ‘democracy.’ They demonstrated their contempt for the people by getting W elected over the peoples ‘ choice. They not you control this ‘democracy’ America sends your sons and daughters to die for in endless, undeclared, un-winnable wars while they receive tax-payer bailouts.

American capitalism means FRAUD.

Thanks to corporate America, the entire USA is now a Company town, which is how they always wanted it. It is a Banana Republic in which even the basic human need for access to medical care is being thwarted by certain members of the political class.

Thank you for reading this.
———————————–

Notes: “The price of Inequality,“ Stiglitz, Book tv.

Ivy League is producing mainly ‘financiers.’

Human capital goes into ‘investment banking’ rather than productive work.

America has the least ‘equality of opportunity.’

The top one percent grabs 20 percent of the income and 40 percent of all the wealth.

There has been a ‘hollowing out’ of the Middle-class.

Reaganomics redistributed wealth to the top.

Poverty is everywhere increasing.

Technology; off-shoring of manufacturing; and illegal aliens permitted to enter the country.

There is Justice for those who can pay, the Haves.

The people in the top tier of the economic ladder have greedily grabbed more and more of the economic pie for themselves, while the ranks of the poor increase as the workers fail to cope with the rising cost of living.

Lobbying in DC; speculation on Wall Street; the failure of investment in jobs and infrastructure; the weakening of democracy; disenfranchisement; the decline in all standards including the rule of law, thanks to the USA Patriot Act; collusion between Wall St and DC: these aspects of capitalism are leading millions of people to question finally the nature of this ‘democracy.’

Six members of the Walton (WalMart) family now own more than the wealth of the bottom 30 percent of the population. Naturally, they will use that wealth to buy politicians who will help keep that wealth in their hands, and out of the state’s.

The self-protecting phony blue-blood elites of the Ivy League have rigged the educational system to benefit themselves.

The failure to ensure health care rights for millions of people makes a mockery of American claims to truth, goodness and right.

*Twenty percent of the US budget goes to the military. (corrected. Source: Fox news, Oct. 23, 2012).

Capitalism, means, ‘property-owning,’ rent-seeking.’

Capitalism tends toward the monopolization of power and wealth in the hands of the subsidized few.

Corporations now run every aspect of our lives.

The average tax rate at the top is 15 percent, and they’re in tears!

Wall St has positioned itself against the interests of Main Street in true banana republic fashion.

What are the living standards now for the worker?

Corporate welfare leeches off an out-of-date tax code.

Drug companies ripped off the government, ie the taxpayers.

Laws support ‘market capitalism,’ and that too is rigged by the capitalists, to stifle competition.

Bankruptcy laws support derivatives and the bailout of banks, leading to an unstable economy.

Progressive transfers are needed to equalize population wealth.

15 percent on capital gains which are taxed lower than the 35 tax rate for hard-working people.

The middle-class struggles to pay for its standard of living while trying to live like the upper-class.

Meanwhile the people at the top avoid taxation, and the people at the bottom are preyed upon with sales and other taxes.

Alan Greenspan (Fed) wanted to control the economy, which he couldn’t do if all the debts were paid off.

‘Campaign finance reform’ is thwarted at every turn.

Derivatives are favored by the tax code.

American capitalism has created a divided society. ‘Where the poor are many, and the rich are few,’ Aristotle said, ‘nations are gradually ruined.’

——

essay five

Obama is Goldman Sachs. Investment houses pressed Congress to abolish Glass-Steaghall, or Depression-era regulations and restrictions.

‘Crony capitalism’ is what David Stockman calls it. The Fed gave trillions in secret loans to large banks and corporations.

The two parties, according to Jesse Ventura, are bought and paid for by corporate and banking interests.

The middle-class is in decline.

Hedge-fund managers get mediocre returns yet they still get rich.

The minimum wage is stuck at the 1950’s level.

Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley all profited from the mortgage boom after 9-11.

In 1950, manufacturing comprised 27 percent of US GDP. Now it is down to 12 Percent of US GDP.

The living wage has declined, sending millions of people into poverty.

Tax revenue as a percentage of the economy has dropped to 1950 levels.

Libor is the key interest-rate sent by big banks in collusion, to better cheat the consumers, borrowers and other suckers.

Capitalism necessarily segregates people by economic class, the bourgeoisie, or middle-class; the upper class; and the working class and the poor. The system feeds on the labor of the working -class, and the police exist in order to keep it in line. The co-ordination of people’s minds in line with their overlords.

Panem et circunem: bread and circuses. That’s how the Romans ruled the many, by giving them welfare (bread) and entertainment (the Coliseum). Later they found Christianity to be a useful tool in order to keep the minds of the workers busy.

American Capitalism isn’t even efficient. The USA lost twelve trillion dollars in only three years.

THE RAVAGES OF CAPITALISM:
UNEMPLOYMENT
WAR
GREED
CORRUPTION
SOCIAL DECLINE
THE POLICE STATE

WAGE-SLAVERY

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

====================

“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!

—————–
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?”

======
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.

——–
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.

=======================

several articles on social democracy, peace, crisis of capitalism, DNC

8 Sep

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2012
5:52 PM

CONTACT: Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115

Share of Bad Jobs Has Risen Since 1979

WASHINGTON – September 5 – Almost one-fourth of U.S. workers are in a bad job, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Despite substantial increases in the education, age, and quantity and quality of technology over the last three decades, the share of workers with a “bad job” has risen since 1979, the CEPR researchers concluded.

The report, “Bad Jobs on the Rise,” defines a bad job as one that pays less than $37,000 per yeardoes not have employer-provided health insurance, and lacks some kind of retirement plan. The $37,000 figure (which translates to about $18.50 per hour, full-time) is equal to the inflation-adjusted earnings of the typical male worker in 1979, the first year of data analyzed in the report. The new report complements earlier CEPR research documenting the decline in good jobs over this same period.

By this definition, in 2010, 24 percent of the workforce had a “bad job,” up from 18 percent in 1979.

Compared to the end of the 1970s, the typical worker today is almost twice as likely to have a four-year college degree, is about seven years older, works with about 50 percent more physical capital, and uses much more advanced technology. Despite this, the share of bad jobs has grown.

“The increase in the share of bad jobs has little to do with the Great Recession,” said John Schmitt, a senior economist at CEPR and one of the report’s co-authors “Almost all of the increase we document had already occurred by 2007, before the downturn.”

The main driver of the rise in bad jobs, the report argues, was the systematic decline in workers’ bargaining power since the end of the 1970s.The reports’ authors point to the fall in the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage, the decline in union representation, trade deals, and high unemployment as some of the key factors reducing the bargaining power of workers relative to their employers.

The full report can be found here.

###

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.


Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Links:

HomePress Center

 
 

from Yahoo news:
Elizabeth Warren expresses our frustrations:

CHARLOTTE, N.C.–In her speech to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said that the American system of government is “rigged” against the middle class.

People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right,” Warren said in her first address to a party convention. “The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do.”

Warren is running against Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who won the seat in a 2010 special election following the death of former Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Her full remarks:

 

Thank you! I’m Elizabeth Warren, and this is my first Democratic Convention. Never thought I’d run for senate. And I sure never dreamed that I’d get to be the warm-up act for President Bill Clinton—an amazing man, who had the good sense to marry one of the coolest women on the planet. I want to give a special shout out to the Massachusetts delegation. I’m counting on you to help me win and to help President Obama win.

I’m here tonight to talk about hard-working people: people who get up early, stay up late, cook dinner and help out with homework; people who can be counted on to help their kids, their parents, their neighbors, and the lady down the street whose car broke down; people who work their hearts out but are up against a hard truth—the game is rigged against them.

It wasn’t always this way. Like a lot of you, I grew up in a family on the ragged edge of the middle class. My daddy sold carpeting and ended up as a maintenance man. After he had a heart attack, my mom worked the phones at Sears so we could hang on to our house. My three brothers all served in the military. One was career. The second worked a good union job in construction. The third started a small business.

Me, I was waiting tables at 13 and married at 19. I graduated from public schools and taught elementary school. I have a wonderful husband, two great children, and three beautiful grandchildren. And I’m grateful, down to my toes, for every opportunity that America gave me. This is a great country. I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class; that allowed millions of children to rise from poverty and establish secure lives. An America that created Social Security and Medicare so that seniors could live with dignity; an America in which each generation built something solid so that the next generation could build something better.

But for many years now, our middle class has been chipped, squeezed, and hammered. Talk to the construction worker I met from Malden, Massachusetts, who went nine months without finding work. Talk to the head of a manufacturing company in Franklin trying to protect jobs but worried about rising costs. Talk to the student in Worcester who worked hard to finish his college degree, and now he’s drowning in debt. Their fight is my fight, and it’s Barack Obama’s fight too.

People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: they’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.

Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do. I talk to small business owners all across Massachusetts.

Not one of them—not one—made big bucks from the risky Wall Street bets that brought down our economy. I talk to nurses and programmers, salespeople and firefighters—people who bust their tails every day. Not one of them—not one—stashes their money in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

These folks don’t resent that someone else makes more money. We’re Americans. We celebrate success. We just don’t want the game to be rigged. We’ve fought to level the playing field before. About a century ago, when corrosive greed threatened our economy and our way of life, the American people came together under the leadership of Teddy Roosevelt and other progressives, to bring our nation back from the brink.

We started to take children out of factories and put them in schools. We began to give meaning to the words “consumer protection” by making our food and medicine safe. And we gave the little guys a better chance to compete by preventing the big guys from rigging the markets. We turned adversity into progress because that’s what we do.

Americans are fighters. We are tough, resourceful and creative. If we have the chance to fight on a level playing field—where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot—then no one can stop us. President Obama gets it because he’s spent his life fighting for the middle class. And now he’s fighting to level that playing field—because we know that the economy doesn’t grow from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up. That’s how we create jobs and reduce the debt.

And Mitt Romney? He wants to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. But for middle-class families who are hanging on by their fingernails? His plans will hammer them with a new tax hike of up to 2,000 dollars. Mitt Romney wants to give billions in breaks to big corporations—but he and Paul Ryan would pulverize financial reform, voucher-ize Medicare, and vaporize Obamacare.

The Republican vision is clear: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” Republicans say they don’t believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney’s the guy who said corporations are people.

No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that’s why we need Barack Obama.

After the financial crisis, President Obama knew that we had to clean up Wall Street. For years, families had been tricked by credit cards, fooled by student loans and cheated on mortgages. I had an idea for a consumer financial protection agency to stop the rip-offs. The big banks sure didn’t like it, and they marshaled one of the biggest lobbying forces on earth to destroy the agency before it ever saw the light of day. American families didn’t have an army of lobbyists on our side, but what we had was a president—President Obama leading the way. And when the lobbyists were closing in for the kill, Barack Obama squared his shoulders, planted his feet, and stood firm. And that’s how we won.

By the way, just a few weeks ago, that little agency caught one of the biggest credit card companies cheating its customers and made it give people back every penny it took, plus millions of dollars in fines. That’s what happens when you have a president on the side of the middle class.

President Obama believes in a level playing field. He believes in a country where nobody gets a free ride or a golden parachute. A country where anyone who has a great idea and rolls up their sleeves has a chance to build a business, and anyone who works hard can build some security and raise a family. President Obama believes in a country where billionaires pay their taxes just like their secretaries do, and—I can’t believe I have to say this in 2012—a country where women get equal pay for equal work.

He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable. Where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street. President Obama believes in a country where we invest in education, in roads and bridges, in science, and in the future, so we can create new opportunities, so the next kid can make it big, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. That’s what president Obama believes. And that’s how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt. We root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity. And we build it together.

I grew up in the Methodist Church and taught Sunday school. One of my favorite passages of scripture is: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40. The passage teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and called to act. Not to sit, not to wait, but to act—all of us together.

Senator Kennedy understood that call. Four years ago, he addressed our convention for the last time. He said, “We have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world.” Generation after generation, Americans have answered that call. And now we are called again. We are called to restore opportunity for every American. We are called to give America’s working families a fighting chance. We are called to build something solid so the next generation can build something better.

So let me ask you—let me ask you, America: are you ready to answer this call? Are you ready to fight for good jobs and a strong middle class? Are you ready to work for a level playing field? Are you ready to prove to another generation of Americans that we can build a better country and a newer world?

Joe Biden is ready. Barack Obama is ready. I’m ready. You’re ready. America’s ready. Thank you! And God bless America!

 
 
Published on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 by Earth Island Journal

Politics and Plutocrats: A Parade of Inequality

America is currently engaged in the most expensive presidential contest in world history. In the United States, money doesn’t just talk – it dictates. How can we hope to make progress on the path to sustainability when the road is blocked by barricades of bullion backed by battalions of billionaires? How do we break through the political gridlock?

Dave Brower’s wife, Ann, once put a wise spin on this dilemma. “What we need,” she said, is “a cure for greedlock.”

Earth’s richest 1,000 individuals now control as much wealth as the poorest 2.5 billion people on the planet. This super elite uses its vast wealth to control the media, influence politicians, and bend laws to their favor. In the US, the wealthy dominate our government: 47 percent of US representatives are millionaires, as are 67 percent of US senators. The Center for Responsive Politics reports Congressional wealth has increased 11 percent between 2009 and 2011.

Not only is our economy out of balance with nature, our economy is also out of balance with the practical limits of physical and fiscal reality. As the Occupy movement has indelibly framed it, we are now a society divided not only by haves and have-nots, but we are a nation – and a world – divided into the 99 percent and the 1 percent.

Imagine if a tree were engineered like the US economy – with half of its mass centered in the top 10 percent of its height and 40 percent of its mass concentrated in the very topmost branches. Whether redwood or oak, such a tree would not be stable in a windstorm. It would be destined to topple. Of course, nature has better sense.

In 2011, the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) published a report called Outing the Oligarchy designed to focus public attention on “the ultra-rich individuals who benefit most from – and are most responsible for – the growing climate chaos that is destabilizing global ecosystems.” It defined them as “a small elite of powerful billionaires who profit from polluting the atmosphere by promoting government policies that support an unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels.”

The IFG report illustrated the growing rich-poor gap by visualizing a parade in which all the residents of Canada ambled down a city street on a single day. Let’s translate that vision to the US.

Imagine if everyone in America was invited to parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Imagine if the parade took just one hour. Imagine if the march began with the poorest people in the lead. Imagine if all the marchers’ income levels were indicated by their height. Here’s what such a parade would look like:

For the first 10 minutes, the lead marchers (those who survive on only a few thousands dollars a year) look like toddlers, barely a foot tall. Around 15 minutes into the parade, the marchers are not quite so poor: They now stand about three feet tall. This tide of half-sized adults continues for the next 25 minutes. Only after more than two-thirds of the population has surged down the parade route do we begin to see normal-sized marchers (those making an average income). For the next 10 minutes or so, the spectacle resembles a normal parade. Then things start to get really strange.

In the final 10 minutes, we start to see marchers who are wealthier than average: people who are seven, even eight feet tall. In the last six minutes, the marchers loom more than 14 feet tall. With 25 seconds left, the minority of super-rich marchers looks down from a height of more than 30 feet – nearly six times the size of the average marcher; 30 times the size of those who made up the first quarter of the parade.

In the closing seconds of this parade of wealth, the shoulders of some marchers extend thousands of feet into the sky – these are the plutocrats. Finally, bringing up the rear, in the very last second of the march, are the most powerful and dominant members of the power elite – a select band of Godzilla-like oligarchs who look down upon everyone else from an astonishing altitude of 8,000-plus-feet. No wonder the superrich seem so removed and aloof.

Just like the banking system, when something is “too big to fail” it becomes a danger to itself and others. Nature would never tolerate such a system. Nor should we.

Note: This column originally appeared in the Autumn print edition of Earth Island Journal and appears at Common Dreams with permission.

© 2012 Earth Island Journal
Gar Smith

Gar Smith is co-founder of Environmentalists Against War and Editor Emeritus of Earth Island Journal.

 
 

Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by Common Dreams

Wall Street South March on the DNC: Good Cop, Bad Cop

Police officers observe protestors marching in the ‘Wall Street South March’, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, in Charlotte, N.C. Demonstrators are protesting before the start of the Democratic National Convention. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

I was initially surprised at the demeanor of the police in Charlotte during the Wall Street South March on the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Even though I lived in North Carolina for 14 years, I always relish the cordiality when I return. But friendliness by cops at a protest?

Last fall I had witnessed aggressive Oakland police in full riot gear during countless occupy marches, club-bearing University of California-Berkeley police attacking students, and I was even arrested by nervous and edgy mall cops while videotaping a Black Friday protest in Raleigh. So today I was taken aback by the police officer who stopped to help me pick up some things I dropped and who was one of a dozen police officers who interacted with me using kind words.

Explaining this behavior isn’t simply a question of southern hospitality. While police officers, yes, are people, too, and are facing cutbacks like many public employees across the country, the Charlotte effect was more than that.

First, cops could afford to be friendly. Literally. The DNC poured in 50 millions of dollars to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. This helped fund the nifty bicycles and helmets they wore as they escorted protesters. But it also funded countless security cameras and Spot Shotters. But they also could afford the pleasantries because police seemed to outnumber protesters, so there was no threat to their power. An estimated 1000 protesters marched on September 2, but their numbers paled in comparison to the police presence, which included city police from around the state, as well as county and federal law enforcement.

Second, however, the kind behavior didn’t last. As the march began to approach the city center, the finance capital hub of the city and much of the country, the smiles faded. The cops on bikes lining the parade route changed to metal barricades. For a moment, I stepped off of the street protest to walk a bit faster on the sidewalk, but that proved problematic. The police would no longer let anyone into the march nor let anyone out. I was told that because I wasn’t “credentialed,” I couldn’t get in, but I witnessed several mainstream media journalists trapped as well. Yes, trapped. With the metal barricades and police officers lining every inch of the curb, activists and journalists inside were “kettled.” This means that the people inside would have had no escape if an incident triggered police use of teargas or other means of assaulting protesters. It also meant that people couldn’t join the march. One couple, with baby in tow, expressed frustration at not being able to participate in the march. “We kept trying to get in at various parts of the march but kept being turned away by the police,” said the mother.

In effect, the barricades – both human and metal – were protecting the financial interests lining this part of the parade route, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Both sides understand the target of the protests. And the banks won’t play nice, either.

—-
wikipedia:
Hjalmar Branting was elected the first Social Democratic Prime Minister in 1920

The Partys first chapter in its statutes says “the intension of the Swedish Social democratic Workers Party is the struggle towards the Democratic Socialism.” The ideology of socialism was founded in the New Testament, Acts (Apostlagarningarna) chapter 4, verse 32-35, where the basics are told for the paroll: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” [ Karl Marx[ Since the party has held power of office for a majority of terms after its founding in 1889, the ideology and policies of the Social Democratic Party (SAP) have had strong influence on Swedish politics.[11] The Swedish social democratic ideology is partially an outgrowth of the strong and well-organized 1880s and 1890s working class emancipation, temperance, and religious folkrörelser (folk movements), by which peasant and workers’ organizations penetrated state structures early on and paved the way for electoral politics. These movements had influence on political formation in Sweden, at least in part because they experienced less state repression than similar working-class organizations have, for example, in early twentieth century Russia. In this way, Swedish social-democratic ideology is inflected by a socialist tradition foregrounding widespread and individual human development.[12] Gunnar Adler-Karlsson (1967) confidently likened the social democratic project to the successful social democratic effort to divest the king of all power but formal grandeur: “Without dangerous and disruptive internal fights…After a few decades they (capitalists) will then remain, perhaps formally as kings, but in reality as naked symbols of a passed and inferior development state.”[13] However, so far this socialist ambition has not materialised.[citation needed]

 Liberalism

Prime Minister Tage Erlander at a TV debate in 1967

Liberalism has also strongly infused social democratic ideology. Liberalism has oriented social democratic goals to security, as where Tage Erlander, prime minister from 1946 to 1969, described security as “too big a problem for the individual to solve with only his own power”.[14] Up to the 1980s, when neoliberalism began to provide an alternative, aggressively pro-capitalist model for ensuring social quiescence, the SAP was able to secure capital’s co-operation by convincing capital that it shared the goals of increasing economic growth and reducing social friction. For many social democrats, Marxism is loosely held to be valuable for its emphasis on changing the world for a more just, better future.[15] In 1889, Hjalmar Brantingleader of the SAP from its founding to his death in 1925, asserted, “I believe…that one benefits the workers…so much more by forcing through reforms which alleviate and strengthen their position, than by saying that only a revolution can help them.”[16] Some observers have argued that this liberal aspect has hardened into increasingly neoliberal ideology and policies, gradually maximizing the latitude of powerful market actors.[17] Certainly, neoclassical economists{Adam Smithites} have been firmly nudging the Social Democratic Party into capitulating to most of capital’s traditional preferences and prerogatives, which they term “modern industrial relations“.[18] Both socialist and liberal aspects of the party were influenced by the dual sympathies of early leader Hjalmar Branting, and manifest in the party’s first actions: reducing the work day to eight hours and establishing the franchise for working-class people.

While some commentators have seen the party lose focus with the rise of SAP neoliberal study groups, the Swedish Social Democratic Party has for many years appealed to Swedes as innovative, capable, and worthy of running the state.[19] The Social Democrats became one of the most successful political parties in the world, with some structural advantages in addition to their auspicious birth within vibrant folkrörelser. At the close of the nineteenth century, liberals and socialists had to band together to augment establishment democracy, which was at that point embarrassingly behind in Sweden; they could point to formal democratic advances elsewhere to motivate political action.[20] In addition to being small, Sweden was a semi-peripheral country at the beginning of the twentieth century, considered unimportant to competing global political factions; so it was permitted more independence, while soon the existence of communist and capitalist superpowers allowed social democracy to flourish in the geo-political interstices.[21] The SAP has the resource of sharing ideas and experiences, and working with its sister parties throughout the Nordic countries. Sweden could also borrow and innovate upon ideas from English-language economists, which was an advantage for the Social Democrats in the Great Depression; but more advantageous for the bourgeois parties in the 1980s and afterward. While the SAP has not been innocent of repressing communists,[22] the party has overall benefitted, in government coalition and in avoiding severe stagnation and drift, by engaging in relatively constructive relationships with the more radical Left Party and the Green Party. The early SAP had internal resources as well, in creative politicians with brilliant tactical minds, and similarly creative labor economists at their disposal.

[] Revisionism

Among the social movement tactics of the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the twentieth century was its redefinition of “socialization” from “common ownership of the means of production” to increasing “democratic influence over the economy.”[23] Starting out in a socialist-liberal coalition fighting for the vote, the Swedish Social Democrats defined socialism as the development of democracy—political and economic.[24] On that basis they could form coalitions, innovate, and govern where other European social democratic parties became crippled and crumbled under Right-wing regimes. The Swedish Social Democrats could count the middle class among their solidaristic working class constituency by recognizing the middle class as “economically dependent”, “working people”, or among the “progressive citizens”, rather than as sub-capitalists.[25] “The party does not aim to support and help [one] working class at the expense of the others,” the Social Democratic congress of 1932 established. In fact, with social democratic policies that refrained from supporting inefficient and low-profit businesses in favor of cultivating higher-quality working conditions, as well as a strong commitment to public education, the middle class in Sweden became so large that the capitalist class has remained concentrated.[26] Not only did the SAP fuse the growing middle class into their constituency, they also ingeniously forged periodic coalitions with small-scale farmers (as members of the “exploited classes”) to great strategic effect.[27] The SAP version of socialist ideology allowed them to maintain a prescient view of the working class: “[The SAP] does not question…whether those who have become capitalism’s victims…are industrial workers, farmers, agricultural laborers, forestry workers, store clerks, civil servants or intellectuals”, asserted the party’s 1932 election manifesto.[28]

While the SAP has worked more or less constructively with more radical Left parties in Sweden, the Social Democrats have borrowed from socialists some of their discourse, and decreasingly, the socialist understanding of the structurally compromised position of labor under capitalism. Even more creatively, the Social Democrats commandeered selected, transcendental images from such nationalists as Rudolf Kjellen (1912), very effectively undercutting fascism’s appeal in Sweden.[29] In this way, Per Albin Hansson declared that “there is no more patriotic party than the [SAP since] the most patriotic act is to create a land in which all feel at home,” famously igniting Swedes’ innermost longing for transcendence with the idea of the Folkhem (1928), or People’s Home. The Social Democratic Party promoted Folkhemmet as a socialist home at a point in which the party turned its back on working class struggle and the policy tool of nationalization.[30] “The expansion of the party to a people’s party does not mean and must not mean a watering down of socialist demands,” Hansson soothed.[31]

“The basis of the home is community and togetherness. The good home does not recognize any privileged or neglected members, nor any favorite or stepchildren. In the good home there is equality, consideration, co-operation, and helpfulness. Applied to the great people’s and citizens’ home this would mean the breaking down of all the social and economic barriers that now separate citizens into the privileged and the neglected, into the rulers and the dependents, into the rich and the poor, the propertied and the impoverished, the plunderers and the plundered. Swedish society is not yet the people’s home. There is a formal equality, equality of political rights, but from a social perspective, the class society remains, and from an economic perspective the dictatorship of the few prevails” (Hansson 1928).[32]

 Social democracy

The Social Democratic Party is generally recognized as the main architect of the progressive taxationfair trade, low-unemployment, Active Labor Market Policies (ALMP)-based Swedish welfare state that was developed in the years after World War II. Sweden emerged sound from the Great Depression with a brief, successful “Keynesianism-before Keynes” economic program advocated by Ernst Wigforss, a prominent Social Democrat who educated himself in economics by studying the work of the British radical Liberal economists. The social democratic labor market policies (ALMPs) were developed in the 1940s and 1950s by LO (Landsorganisationen i Sverige, the blue-collar union federation) economists Gösta Rehn and Rudolf Meidner.[33] The Rehn-Meidner model featured the centralized system of wage bargaining that aimed to both set wages at a “just” level and promote business efficiency and productivity. With the pre-1983 cooperation of capital and labor federations that bargained independently of the state, the state determined that wages would be higher than the market would set in firms that were inefficient or uncompetitive and lower than the market would set in firms that were highly productive and competitive. Workers were compensated with state-sponsored retraining and relocating; as well, the state reformed wages to the goal of “equal pay for equal work”, eliminated unemployment (“the reserve army of labor”) as a disciplinary device, and kept incomes consistently rising, while taxing progressively and pooling social wealth to deliver services through local governments.[34] Social Democratic policy has traditionally emphasized a state spending structure whereby public services are supplied via local government, as opposed to emphasizing social insurance program transfers.[35]

These social democratic policies have had international influence. The early Swedish “red-green” coalition encouraged Nordic-networked socialists in the state of Minnesota, in the U.S., to dedicate efforts to building a similarly potent labor-farmer alliance that put the socialists in the governorship, ran model innovative statewide anti-racism programs in the early years of the twentieth century, and enabled federal forest managers in Minnesota to practice a precocious ecological-socialism, before Democratic Party reformers were transferred from the U.S. East Coast to appropriate the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party infrastructure to the liberal Democratic Party in 1944.[36] On the other hand, policies comprising the Nordic model have often been depicted, in American conservative circles and the American press, as wreaking havoc upon Swedish society.

 

Social democratic leader and Prime Minister Olof Palme in the 1970s

Under the Social Democrats’ administration, Sweden retained neutrality, as a foreign policy guideline, during the wars of the twentieth century, including the Cold War. Neutrality preserved the Swedish economy and boosted Sweden’s economic competitiveness in the first half of the twentieth century, as other European countries’ economies were devastated by war.[39] Under Olof Palme‘s Social Democratic leadership Sweden further aggravated the hostility of United States political conservatives when Palme openly denounced US aggression in VietnamU.S. President Richard Nixon suspended diplomatic ties with the social democratic country.[citation needed] In 2003, top-ranking Social Democratic Party politician Anna Lindh–who criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as well as both Israeli and Palestinian atrocities, and who was the lead figure promoting the European Union in Sweden—was assassinated in public in Stockholm. As Lindh was to succeed Goran Persson in the party leadership, her death was deeply disruptive to the party as well as to the campaign to promote the adoption of the EMU (euro) in Sweden. The neutrality policy has changed with the contemporary ascendance of the bourgeois coalition, and Sweden has committed troops to support the US and UK’s interventions in Afghanistan. Under Social Democratic governance relatively strong overseas humanitarian programs and a comparatively well-developed refugee program have been implemented, and frequently reformed.[40]

 Rehn-Meidner Macroeconomics to Neo-liberalism

Because the Rehn-Meidner model allowed capitalists owning very productive and efficient firms to retain excess profits at the expense of the firms’ workers, thus exacerbating inequality, workers in these firms began to agitate for a share of the profits in the 1970s, just as women working in the state sector began to assert pressure for better wages. Meidner established a study committee that came up with a 1976 proposal that entailed transferring the excess profits into investment funds controlled by the workers in the efficient firms, with the intention that firms would create further employment and pay more workers higher wages, rather than increasing the wealth of company owners and managers.

[41] Capitalists immediately distinguished this proposal as socialism, and launched an unprecedented opposition—including calling off the class compromise established in the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement.[42]

The 1980s were a very turbulent time in Sweden that initiated the occasional decline of Social Democratic Party rule. In the 1980s, pillars of Swedish industry were massively restructured. Shipbuilding was discontinued, wood pulp was integrated into modernized paper production, the steel industry was concentrated and specialized, and mechanical engineering was digitalized.[43] In 1986, one of the Social Democratic Party’s strongest champions of egalitarianism and democracy, Olof Palme was assassinated. Swedish capital was increasingly moving Swedish investment into other European countries as the European Union coalesced, and a hegemonic consensus was forming among the elite financial community: progressive taxation and pro-egalitarian redistribution became economic heresy.[44] A leading proponent of capital’s cause at the time, Social Democrat Finance Minister Kjell-Olof Feldt reminisced in an interview, “The negative inheritance I received from my predecessor Gunnar Sträng (Minister of Finance 1955 – 1976) was a strongly progressive tax system with high marginal taxes. This was supposed to bring about a just and equal society. But I eventually came to the opinion that it simply didn’t work out that way. Progressive taxes created instead a society of wranglers, cheaters, peculiar manipulations, false ambitions and new injustices. It took me at least a decade to get a part of the party to see this.”[45] With the capitalist confederation’s defection from the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement and Swedish capital investing in other European countries rather than Sweden, as well as the global rise of neoliberal political-economic hegemony, the Social Democratic Party backed away from the progressive Meidner reform.[46]

The economic crisis in the 1990s has been widely cited in the Anglo-American press as a social democratic failure, but it is important to note not only did profit rates begin to fall worldwide after the 1960s,[47] also this period saw neoliberal ascendance in Social Democratic ideology and policies as well as the rise of bourgeois coalition rule in place of the Social Democrats. 1980s Social Democratic neoliberal measures—such as depressing and deregulating the currency to prop up Swedish exports during the economic restructuring transition, dropping corporate taxation and taxation on high income-earners, and switching from anti-unemployment policies to anti-inflationary policies—were exacerbated by international recession, unchecked currency speculation, and a centre-right government led by Carl Bildt (1991–1994), creating the fiscal crisis of the early 1990s.[48]

Göran Persson was a prolific Social Democratic leader, holding the office of Prime Minister for ten years

When the Social Democrats returned to power in 1994, they responded to the fiscal crisis[49] by stabilizing the currency—and by reducing the welfare state and privatizing public services and goods, as governments did in many countries influenced by Milton Friedman, the Chicago Schools of political and economic thought, and the neoliberal movement. Social Democratic Party leaders—including Göran PerssonMona Sahlin, and Anna Lindh—promoted European Union (E.U.) membership, and the Swedish referendum passed by 52–48% in favor of joining the E.U. on 14 August 1994. Bourgeois leader Lars Leijonborg at his 2007 retirement could recall the 1990s as a golden age of liberalism in which the Social Democrats were under the expanding influence of the Liberal Party and its partners in the bourgeois political coalition. Leijonborg recounted neoliberal victories such as the growth of private schooling and the proliferation of private, for-profit radio and television.[50]

 21st Century

However, many of the aspects of the social democratic welfare state continued to function at a high level, due in no small part to the high rate of unionization in Sweden, the independence of unions in wage-setting, and the exemplary competency of the feminized public sector workforce,[51] as well as widespread public support. The Social Democrats initiated studies on the effects of the neoliberal changes, and the picture that emerged from those findings allowed the party to reduce many tax expenditures, slightly increase taxes on high income-earners, and significantly reduce taxes on food. The Social Democratic Finance Minister increased spending on child support and continued to pay down the public debt.[52] By 1998 the Swedish macro-economy recovered from the 1980s industrial restructuring and the currency policy excesses.[43] At the turn of the twenty-first century, Sweden has a well-regarded, generally robust economy, and the average quality of life, after government transfers, is very high, inequality is low (the Gini coefficient is .28), and social mobility is high (compared to the affluent Anglo-American and Central European countries).[44]

The Social Democratic Party pursues environmentalist and feminist policies which promote healthful and humane conditions. Feminist policies formed and implemented by the Social Democratic Party and the Left Party and the Greens (which made an arrangement with the Social democrats to support the government, while not forming a coalition), include paid maternity and paternity leave, high employment for women in the public sector, combining flexible work with living wages and benefits, providing public support for women in their traditional responsibilities for care giving, and policies to stimulate women’s political participation and leadership. Reviewing policies and institutional practices for their impact on women had become common in social democratic governance.[53]

The legacy of Social Democratic Party governance in Sweden is widely regarded as increasing the quality of life, naturally among those who benefit directly from an affluent, low-inequality society, but even among the wealthy. One Volvo executive admitted that a strong social welfare state, like the Swedish, helps finance a quality of life that low individual taxes cannot. When faced with the question, “Why don’t you leave (Sweden)? Certainly, you would pay a lot lower taxes and probably also have a higher salary in the U.S.”, he responded, “Yes, of course, I would have a lot more money in my pocket. But I would also almost never get home before 7 o’clock and I certainly would not have the vacations everyone has a right to here… and you know what else, I would have to spend a lot more money on insurance, college for my kids, and travel back home to my family. In the end, I’m not really sure I would be any better off.”[44]
 

Hjalmar Branting accepted Eduard Bernstein‘s revision of Marxism and became a reformist socialist, advocating a peaceful transition from capitalism towards socialism. He believed that if workers were given the vote, this could be achieved by parliamentary ways. Branting supported the February Revolution in Russia in 1917. He was pro-Menshevik and defended the government of Alexander Kerensky, who he even personally visited in Petrograd.

When the October Revolution broke out the same year, Branting condemned the Bolshevik seizure of power. 1917 saw a split in the Swedish Social Democratic Party on this question, and the youth league and the revolutionary sections of the party broke away and formed the Social Democratic Left Party of Sweden, headed by Zeth Höglund. This group soon became the Swedish Communist Party. Zeth Höglund later returned to the Social Democratic Party, and wrote a two-volume biography about Hjalmar Branting.

As Prime Minister he brought Sweden into the League of Nations and was personally active as a delegate within it. When the question of whether Åland should be handed over to Sweden after the independence of Finland from Russia was brought up, he let the League of Nation decide upon the issue. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921 for his work in the League of Nations