The New 1% isn’t just the Rich, it is the Spoiled Oligarch Heirs (Krugman)

Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against.

Bill Moyers interviews Paul Krugman

” Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, shows that two-thirds of America’s increase in income inequality over the past four decades is the result of steep raises given to the country’s highest earners.

This week, Bill talks with Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, about Piketty’s “magnificent” new book.

“What Piketty’s really done now is he said, ‘Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on.’ He’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth.”

Krugman adds: “We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like.” ”

Courtesy: http://www.juancole.com/2014/04/spoiled-oligarch-krugman.html

Some 95% of 2009-2012 Income Gains Went to Wealthiest 1%

recessionBy Brenda Cronin

Research released this month shows that the incomes of the well-off have largely climbed back from the toll of the most recent recession while those of the poor have yet to start recovering.

According to the latest version of “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States,” by Emmanuel Saez, of the University of California, Berkeley, the income inequality gap has been expanding, rather than narrowing, as the 2007-2009 recession recedes. That trend has been unfolding for more than 30 years

Read more » The Wall Street Journal
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/09/10/some-95-of-2009-2012-income-gains-went-to-wealthiest-1/

IMF Warns G-20 of Deflation Risk, Emerging-Market Turmoil

system 1By Sandrine Rastello

Risks of prolonged market turmoil in emerging markets and of deflation in the euro area are threatening the world’s improved economic prospects, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF, in a staff report prepared for central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of 20, said the recovery is still weak and “significant downside risks remain.” A January global growth forecast of 3.7 percent for this year, from 3 percent in 2013, hinges on recent market volatility from Turkey to Brazil being short-lived, according to the report.

“Capital outflows, higher interest rates, and sharp currency depreciation in emerging economies remain a key concern,” according to the report prepared ahead of the G-20 Feb. 22-23 meeting in Sydney. “A new risk stems from very low inflation in the euro area, where long-term inflation expectations might drift down, raising deflation risks in the event of a serious adverse shock to activity.”

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-19/imf-warns-g-20-of-risks-of-deflation-emerging-market-turmoil.html

Bill Gates: People Don’t Realize How Many Jobs Will Soon Be Replaced By Software Bots

bill gatesBig changes are coming to the labor market that people and governments aren’t prepared for, Bill Gates believes.

Speaking at Washington, D.C., economic think tank The American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, Gates said that within 20 years, a lot of jobs will go away, replaced by software automation (“bots” in tech slang, though Gates used the term “software substitution”).

This is what he said:

“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses … it’s progressing. …  Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. …  20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

He’s not the only one predicting this gloomy scenario for workers. In January, the Economist ran a big profile naming over a dozen jobs sure to be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, including telemarketers, accountants and retail workers.

Gates believes that the tax codes are going to need to change to encourage companies to hire employees, including, perhaps, eliminating income and payroll taxes altogether. He’s also not a fan of raising the minimum wage, fearing that it will discourage employers from hiring workers in the very categories of jobs that are most threatened by automation.

The New York Times – A Return to a World Marx Would Have Known

*Doug Henwood is editor of Left Business Observer, host of a weekly radio show originating on KPFA, Berkeley, and is author of several books, including “Wall Street: How It Works and For Whom” and “After the New Economy.”

I don’t see how you can understand our current unhappy economic state without some sort of Marx-inspired analysis.

Here we are, almost five years into an officially designated recovery from the worst downturn in 80 years, and average household incomes are more than 8 percent below where they were when the Great Recession began, and employment still 650,000 short of its pre-recession high.

Though elites are prospering, for millions of Americans, it’s as if the recession never ended.

How can this all be explained? The best way to start is by going back to the 1970s. Corporate profitability — which, as every Marxist schoolchild knows, is the motor of the system — had fallen sharply off its mid-1960s highs. Stock and bond markets were performing miserably. Inflation seemed to be rising without limit. After three decades of seemingly endless prosperity, workers had developed a terrible attitude problem, slacking off and, quaintly, even going out on strike. It’s no accident that Johnny Paycheck scored a No. 1 country hit with “Take This Job and Shove It” in 1977 — utterly impossible to imagine today.

This is where Marx begins to come in. At the root of these problems was a breakdown in class relations: workers no longer feared the boss. A crackdown was in order.

And it came, hard. In October 1979, the Federal Reserve began driving interest rates toward 20 percent, to kill inflation and restrict borrowing, creating the deepest recession since the 1930s. (It was a record we only broke in 2008/2009). A little over a year later, Ronald Reagan came into office, fired the striking air-traffic controllers, setting the stage for decades of union busting to follow. Five years after Johnny Paycheck’s hit, workers were desperate to hold and/or get jobs. No more attitude problem.

The “cure” worked for about 30 years. Corporate profits skyrocketed and financial markets thrived. The underlying mechanism, as Marx would explain it, is simple: workers produce more in value than they are paid, and the difference is the root of profit. If worker productivity rises while pay remains stagnant or declines, profits increase. This is precisely what has happened over the last 30 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity rose 93 percent between 1980 and 2013, while pay rose 38 percent (all inflation-adjusted).

The 1 percent got ever-richer and more powerful. But there was a problem: a system dependent on high levels of mass consumption has a hard time coping with the stagnation or decline in mass incomes.The development of a mass consumer market after Marx died, with the eager participation of a growing middle class, caused a lot of people to say his analysis was obsolete. But now, with the hollowing out of the middle class and the erosion of mass purchasing power, the whole 20th century model of mass consumption is starting to look obsolete.

Borrowing sustained the mass consumption model for a few decades. Non-rich households borrowed to buy cars, buy food, pay medical bills, buy ever-more-expensive houses, and so on. Conveniently, rich households had plenty of spare cash to lend them.

That model broke apart in 2008 and has not — and cannot — be revived. Without the juice provided by spirited borrowing, demand remains constricted and growth rates, low. (See also: Europe.)

Raising the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of the population through higher wages and public spending initiatives — stifled since Reagan starting putting the squeeze on them — could change that. But the stockholding class has resisted that, and they have a lot of political power.

And an extraordinarily lopsided economy is the result. We didn’t expect that the 21st century would bring about a return of the 19th century’s vast disparities, but it’s looking like that’s just what’s happened.

Courtesy: The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/03/30/was-marx-right/a-return-to-a-world-marx-would-have-known?smid=fb-share

Britain’s looming energy crisis

Over the last weeks and months, concerns about energy have become more and more widespread in Britain. Firstly the simmering controversy over “fracking” has become more prominent, with a series of demonstrations pushing this issue into the public eye. Then the pledge of Ed Miliband that the next Labour government will freeze energy prices was met with howls of protest from the coalition parties and threats by the energy companies that “the lights will go out”. In addition, the announcement that Britain will build the first new nuclear power station for decades has been overshadowed by the attempt to close the Grangemouth oil refinery. The question has to be asked: is Britain facing a serious energy crisis?

Read more » http://www.marxist.com/britains-looming-energy-crisis.htm

Sweden introduces a SIX-HOUR working day

Sweden introduces a SIX-HOUR working day in bid to reduce sick leave, boost efficiency and make staff happier

Government staff in Swedish city of Gothenburg to take part in trial; One department will work six hour days, while another will work seven; Two will be compared to see if shorter days improve efficiency

By Chris Pleasance

Hundreds of Swedish workers are trialling a six-hour working day in the hopes that it will cut sick leave and save the country money. In an experiment, workers in one government department in Gothenburg are to be put on to six-hour days on full pay
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2600416/Sweden-introduces-six-hour-working-day-pay-bid-reduce-sick-leave-boost-efficiency-make-staff-happier.html#ixzz2yRAOT8gR

Ruble Challenges US Dollar Hegemony.

Russia’s Petro-Ruble Challenges US Dollar Hegemony. China Seeks Development of Eurasian Trade
China will re-open the old Silk Road as a new trading route linking Germany, Russia and China

By Peter Koenig, Global Research

Russia has just dropped another bombshell, announcing not only the de-coupling of its trade from the dollar, but also that its hydrocarbon trade will in the future be carried out in rubles and local currencies of its trading partners – no longer in dollars – see Voice of Russia Russia’s trade in hydrocarbons amounts to about a trillion dollars per year. Other countries, especially the BRICS and BRCIS-associates (BRICSA) may soon follow suit and join forces with Russia, abandoning the ‘petro-dollar’ as trading unit for oil and gas. This could amount to tens of trillions in loss for demand of petro-dollars per year (US GDP about 17 trillion dollars – December 2013) – leaving an important dent in the US economy would be an understatement.
Added to this is the declaration today by Russia’s Press TV – China will re-open the old Silk Road as a new trading route linking Germany, Russia and China, allowing to connect and develop new markets along the road, especially in Central Asia, where this new project will bring economic and political stability, and in Western China provinces, where “New Areas” of development will be created. The first one will be the Lanzhou New Area in China’s Northwestern Gansu Province, one of China’s poorest regions.

“During his visit to Duisburg, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a master stroke of economic diplomacy that runs directly counter to the Washington neo-conservative faction’s effort to bring a new confrontation between NATO and Russia.” (press TV, April 6, 2014)

“Using the role of Duisburg as the world’s largest inland harbor, an historic transportation hub of Europe and of Germany’s Ruhr steel industry center, he proposed that Germany and China cooperate on building a new “economic Silk Road” linking China and Europe. The implications for economic growth across Eurasia are staggering.”

Read more » Global Research
http://www.globalresearch.ca/russias-petro-ruble-challenges-us-dollar-hegemony-china-seeks-development-of-eurasian-trade/5377086

Canada’s labour pain: 1.3 million jobless

Canada’s labour pain: 1.3 million jobless, but not enough skills

By TAVIA GRANTECONOMICS REPORTER, The Globe and Mail

Some companies may be having a tough time finding suitable new hires – but Canada’s problem, at least right now, is not a labour shortage.

For all the hue and cry about shortages, it’s tough to find hard data to support the claims. The number of job vacancies, at last count, are at the same level as a year ago and so is the ratio of unemployed people to job openings. The Bank of Canada’s business outlook survey shows shortages are far less acute than before the recession. And while the jobless rate has fallen in recent months, 1.33 million Canadians are out of work, a higher number than before the downturn (it was 1.11 million in October, 2008).

Read more » THE GLOBE AND MAIL
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/canadas-labour-pain-13-million-jobless-but-not-enough-skills/article10595715/

Strikes in Greece as austerity deal proves elusive

By DEREK GATOPOULOS

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A 24-hour strike by civil servants disrupted public services in Greece on Wednesday as the government struggled to hammer out a deal on further austerity measures with international creditors.

Thousands of protesters attended rallies in Athens and other cities, while civil servants penciled in another 48-hour strike on March 19-20.

In central Athens, cleaning staff fired by the finance ministry marched holding up buckets and mops, and a group of school teachers chained themselves to railings in front of parliament.

“I feel like I’ve been dumped in the trash,” said Nikos Kikakis, a suspended 59-year-old high school headmaster who is due to be laid off this month and joined the protest at the parliament. “I have worked for 26 years in public service, and have no hope of finding a job now.”

Read more » Yahoo News
http://news.yahoo.com/strikes-greece-austerity-deal-proves-elusive-090617286–finance.html

Bill Maher’s excellent commentary on income inequality

by BruinKid

Last night, Bill Maher delivered an excellent final New Rule on how some of the 1% are whining about feeling persecuted.

Did you know that during World War II, FDR actually proposed a cap on income that in today’s dollars would mean that no person could ever take home more than about $300,000?  OK, that is a little low.  (audience laughter)  But wouldn’t it be great if there were Democrats out there like that now, who would say to billionaires, “Oh, you’re crying?  We’ll give you something to cry about.  You don’t want a minimum wage?  How about we not only have a minimum wage, we have a maximum wage?”  (audience applause)

That is not a new idea.  James Madison, who wrote our Constitution, said, “Government should prevent an immoderate accumulation of riches.”  Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, they all agreed that too much money in the hands of too few would destroy democracy.

Read more » DAILY KOS
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/01/1281312/-Bill-Maher-s-excellent-commentary-on-income-inequality

Pakistan – UAE firm signs $2.5bn multi-project MoU

ISLAMABAD: On first day of its first visit to Pakistan, Arab National Construction (ANC) Holdings of Dubai was able to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government to set up two coal-based power projects at Gadani, a jetty for coal import and a transmission line to add 1,320 megawatts of electricity to national grid at an investment of $2.5 billion.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1091247/uae-firm-signs-25bn-multi-project-mou

Food poverty now bigger public health concern than diet – expert claims

Panorama explores claims many turn to food banks due to being penalised when judged to have broken benefit conditions

By Patrick Butler, social policy editor

The prevalence of poverty–stricken families who cannot afford to buy sufficient food is overtaking unhealthy eating as the most pressing public health concern, a public health specialist has claimed.

The claim is made in a BBC Panorama documentary to be broadcast on Monday evening which found that over a third of local authorities in England and Wales were now providing funding for food banks, despite government claims that charity food is not a part of the social security system.

Julie Hirst, public health specialist at Derbyshire county council, told Panorama the authority had invested £126,000 from its public health budget in food banks.

She said: “It’s now become an issue of food poverty and some people in the country are not being able to eat at all – and if people can’t eat at all, what’s the point in trying to get them to eat healthily?”

Elizabeth Dowler, a professor at Warwick University and the co-author of a recent government-commissioned report on food aid provision, told the programme it was shocking so many councils were investing in food banks.

“Food banks are an inadequate plaster over a gaping wound … They do not solve the problems. And that they should be enshrined as an inadequate solution is deeply immoral.”

Read more » theguardian
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/03/food-banks-public-health-benefits-panorama?CMP=twt_gu&utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite

26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report

Twenty-six of the most powerful American corporations – such as Boeing, General Electric, and Verizon – paid no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012, according to a new report detailing how Fortune 500 companies exploit tax breaks and loopholes.

Read more » http://rt.com/usa/low-corporate-tax-rates-275/

The Pakistan-China Corridor

A new project will give Pakistan the tools of globalization. Will it use them?

By Christopher Ernest Barber

Historian Daniel Headrick made the crucial connection between means and ends in the projection of global influence. For instance, Headrick argued that the Suez Canal, which opened in 1869, acted a tool of empire for the great powers of the nineteenth century. The building of a canal through the Sinai Peninsula not only  made trade and empire in Asia faster by avoiding the Cape of Good Hope, but more economical too. This was particularly the case for the world’s superpower, Great Britain. For Britain, the Suez was an important strategic consideration in its imperial outlook, making the transport of goods, officials and soldiers to Bombay and other key colonial hubs easier and affordable. At the same time, the canal aided the wider globalization process of the nineteenth century, which opened Asia up to the advent of Western adventure capitalists with exploitation and domination never far from the surface. The Suez Canal acted as a “tool of empire,” as Headrick put it, and in a small but important way, the world became that much more global—all to the benefit of those Western nations that could harness of the power of the sea.

Headrick’s argument turns on a profound if easily overlooked point: those with easy access to the sea-lanes of the world invariably have the tools for global power and trade. Even today, the laws of economic scale dictate that air and rail, while important in their own right, will always be poor cousins to the efficiency and capacity of container ships and waterborne trade.

Despite the fact that the free trade zone port of Gwadar in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan has been an unprofitable enterprise with operational control now in Chinese hands, its potential remains. If anything, the development of the deep ocean port and an associated international airport, as well as the creation of a transport corridor connecting Gwadar to China’s easternmost province of Xinjiang, is a game changer for the Central Asian region. In Beijing this February, President Mamnoon Hussain and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a series of agreements designed to breathe life to the corridor project. In the coming years, the once sleepy fishing enclave of Gwadar will become a staging ground for the geopolitical reorganization of the region.

Continue reading

UK visas should be auctioned, migration advisers say

By Brian Wheeler, Political reporter The right to settle in Britain should be auctioned off to wealthy foreign investors, government advisers say. At present migrants can gain entry by investing £1m or more in the UK. Read more » BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26334978

Pentagon plans to downsize US military

Pentagon’s Chuck Hagel plans to downsize US military

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two.

Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.

Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired.

The US defence budget remains higher than during most of the Cold War.

‘Difficult decisions ahead’

On Monday, Mr Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. “This is a time for reality,” he said

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-26326969

The 1% Should Be Afraid: The New Norm in the Workplace Is Unstable

By Laura Flanders, Truthout | Interview and Video

A new study from Oxfam published just ahead of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, reported that just one percent of the world’s population controls nearly half of the planet’s wealth and 70 percent of the world’s people live in countries where income inequality has been growing in the last 30 years. In the US, the gap between rich and poor has grown faster than in any other developed country. The top one percent has captured 95 percent of all growth since the putative “recovery” of 2009. This is the “new normal.” Is it sustainable?

Barbara Garson is the author of a series of books describing American working lives at historically important turning points. If this is one of those turning points, it’s one in which the one percent have won:

“That the so-called recovery that everyone is bragging about is this,” Garson told GRITtv in a recent interview. “We’ve recovered, we’ve taken your full-time job away and given you a part-time job, and we’ve given the difference to our stockholders.”

The trouble is, this cockeyed situation is not stable, and even the capitalists, maybe especially the capitalists, should be worried.

“There are capitalist solutions, like redistribution, but they’re not doing it. That may be why we have a socialist solution this time,” she concludes. “If seventeen percent of the houses are vacant, we’ll just move into them.”

Garson’s new book is Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live. You can watch our conversation at GRITtv.org.

Read more » truth-out.org
http://truth-out.org/news/item/21785-the-one-percent-should-be-afraid-the-new-norm-in-the-workplace-is-unstable

A Professor With A Western Past Remakes Pakistan’s Entrepreneurial Future

Umar Saif has done a lot in his 35 years. A Pakistani, he earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Cambridge at 22. He began a post doctorate degree at MIT at an age when most of his peers – age wise – had not completed their bachelor’s degrees. He worked at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory where he was part of the core team that developed system technologies for the $50 million Project Oxygen. He collaborated with Anant Agarwal, now the president of edX, among other legendary computer science and artificial intelligence professors. After spending years away from his native Pakistan, he found that he enjoyed the entrepreneurial spirit of MIT and of the US more generally. However, it was a conversation with a colleague about what he wanted to achieve in his life that got him to rethink his plans for the future. He decided that he wanted to help establish a comparable entrepreneurial hot-bed like the one he found at MIT back in Pakistan.

He returned to the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), where he found that his top students were the equivalent of the top students at MIT, but they did not realize the potential they had. His own story became an inspiration for a series of entrepreneurs, many of whom he has started businesses with. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010, selected as one of top 35 young innovators in the world by MIT Technology Review in 2011 and received a Google faculty research award in 2011.

Read more » Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2014/02/03/a-professor-with-a-western-past-remakes-pakistans-entrepreneurial-future/

Michigan wants 50,000 visas to bring immigrants to Detroit

By Joseph Lichterman

DETROIT, Jan 23 (Reuters) – Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Thursday called for the U.S. government to set aside 50,000 special visas over the next five years to attract highly skilled immigrants to live and work in the bankrupt city of Detroit.

Read more » Reuters
http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL2N0KX1VP20140124?irpc=932

CANADA – Ontario faces “chronic” youth unemployment

High levels of unemployment among province’s youth more than just by-product of economic cycle, report says

By: Peter Lozinski

Ontario is suffering from “chronic” youth unemployment, according to a new report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on Friday.

The rate of unemployment for Ontarians between the ages of 15-24 is hovering between 16 and 17 per cent, double that of the normal provincial rate and higher than the national youth unemployment rate of 13.5-14.5 per cent.

“Ontario is competing with the Maritime provinces for being the toughest place in Canada for youth to land a job,” the report says

Read more » http://o.canada.com/business/ontario-facing-chronic-youth-unemployment/

Marx Was Right: Five Surprising Ways Karl Marx Predicted 2014

From the iPhone 5S to corporate globalization, modern life is full of evidence of Marx’s foresight

By 
There’s a lot of talk of Karl Marx in the air these days – from Rush Limbaugh accusing Pope Francis of promoting “pure Marxism” to a Washington Times writer claiming that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is an “unrepentant Marxist.” But few people actually understand Marx’s trenchant critique of capitalism. Most people are vaguely aware of the radical economist’s prediction that capitalism would inevitably be replaced by communism, but they often misunderstand why he believed this to be true. And while Marx was wrong about some things, his writings (many of which pre-date the American Civil War) accurately predicted several aspects of contemporary capitalism, from the Great Recession to the iPhone 5S in your pocket.Here are five facts of life in 2014 that Marx’s analysis of capitalism correctly predicted more than a century ago:

1. The Great Recession (Capitalism’s Chaotic Nature)

The inherently chaotic, crisis-prone nature of capitalism was a key part of Marx’s writings. He argued that the relentless drive for profits would lead companies to mechanize their workplaces, producing more and more goods while squeezing workers’ wages until they could no longer purchase the products they created. Sure enough, modern historical events from the Great Depression to the dot-com bubble can be traced back to what Marx termed “fictitious capital” – financial instruments like stocks and credit-default swaps. We produce and produce until there is simply no one left to purchase our goods, no new markets, no new debts. The cycle is still playing out before our eyes: Broadly speaking, it’s what made the housing market crash in 2008. Decades of deepening inequality reduced incomes, which led more and more Americans to take on debt. When there were no subprime borrows left to scheme, the whole façade fell apart, just as Marx knew it would.

2. The iPhone 5S (Imaginary Appetites)

Marx warned that capitalism’s tendency to concentrate high value on essentially arbitrary products would, over time, lead to what he called “a contriving and ever-calculating subservience to inhuman, sophisticated, unnatural and imaginary appetites.” It’s a harsh but accurate way of describing contemporary America, where we enjoy incredible luxury and yet are driven by a constant need for more and more stuff to buy. Consider the iPhone 5S you may own. Is it really that much better than the iPhone 5 you had last year, or the iPhone 4S a year before that? Is it a real need, or an invented one? While Chinese families fall sick with cancer from our e-waste, megacorporations are creating entire advertising campaigns around the idea that we should destroy perfectly good products for no reason. If Marx could see this kind of thing, he’d nod in recognition.

3. The IMF (The Globalization of Capitalism)

Marx’s ideas about overproduction led him to predict what is now called globalization – the spread of capitalism across the planet in search of new markets. “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe,” he wrote. “It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” While this may seem like an obvious point now, Marx wrote those words in 1848, when globalization was over a century away. And he wasn’t just right about what ended up happening in the late 20th century – he was right about why it happened: The relentless search for new markets and cheap labor, as well as the incessant demand for more natural resources, are beasts that demand constant feeding.

4. Walmart (Monopoly)

The classical theory of economics assumed that competition was natural and therefore self-sustaining. Marx, however, argued that market power would actually be centralized in large monopoly firms as businesses increasingly preyed upon each other. This might have struck his 19th-century readers as odd: As Richard Hofstadter writes, “Americans came to take it for granted that property would be widely diffused, that economic and political power would decentralized.” It was only later, in the 20th century, that the trend Marx foresaw began to accelerate. Today, mom-and-pop shops have been replaced by monolithic big-box stores like Walmart, small community banks have been replaced by global banks like J.P. Morgan Chase and small famers have been replaced by the likes of Archer Daniels Midland. The tech world, too, is already becoming centralized, with big corporations sucking up start-ups as fast as they can. Politicians give lip service to what minimal small-business lobby remains and prosecute the most violent of antitrust abuses – but for the most part, we know big business is here to stay.

5. Low Wages, Big Profits (The Reserve Army of Industrial Labor)

Marx believed that wages would be held down by a “reserve army of labor,” which he explained simply using classical economic techniques: Capitalists wish to pay as little as possible for labor, and this is easiest to do when there are too many workers floating around. Thus, after a recession, using a Marxist analysis, we would predict that high unemployment would keep wages stagnant as profits soared, because workers are too scared of unemployment to quit their terrible, exploitative jobs. And what do you know? No less an authority than the Wall Street Journal warns, “Lately, the U.S. recovery has been displaying some Marxian traits. Corporate profits are on a tear, and rising productivity has allowed companies to grow without doing much to reduce the vast ranks of the unemployed.” That’s because workers are terrified to leave their jobs and therefore lack bargaining power. It’s no surprise that the best time for equitable growth is during times of “full employment,” when unemployment is low and workers can threaten to take another job.

In Conclusion:

Marx was wrong about many things. Most of his writing focuses on a critique of capitalism rather than a proposal of what to replace it with – which left it open to misinterpretation by madmen like Stalin in the 20th century. But his work still shapes our world in a positive way as well. When he argued for a progressive income tax in the Communist Manifesto, no country had one. Now, there is scarcely a country without a progressive income tax, and it’s one small way that the U.S. tries to fight income inequality. Marx’s moral critique of capitalism and his keen insights into its inner workings and historical context are still worth paying attention to. As Robert L. Heilbroner writes, “We turn to Marx, therefore, not because he is infallible, but because he is inescapable.” Today, in a world of both unheard-of wealth and abject poverty, where the richest 85 people have more wealth than the poorest 3 billion, the famous cry, “Workers of the world uniteyou have nothing to lose but your chains,” has yet to lose its potency.

Courtesy: Rolling Stone

Pakistan Railway Decided to Provide Free Internet Facility For Passengers in Trains

Lahore: After Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Railway Department also decided to provide internet and modern facilities for passengers in train. According to Express News, Railway officials has decided to provide Internet access to passenger within trains, passengers will be provided free Internet access and wireless Internet access (Wi- Fi) systems.

Federal Minister Railway Khawaja Saad Rafique while talking to media said that Railways have reduced train fares. He said that “We are working had to get Railways back to its feet and will again restore passengers confidence” .

Note : The PIA also provide phone and SMS service for passengers over flying.

Courtesy: The Pak Media
http://www.thepakmedia.com/pakistan-railway-decided-provide-internet-facility-passengers-trains/2014/01/25/

85 People Hold As Much Wealth As Poorest 3.5 Billion

Oxfam: Richest 1% own nearly half of world’s wealth

The richest 1% own 46% of global wealth

Almost half of the world’s wealth is owned by just 1% of the world’s population, according to a report published just days before the start of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, where the topic of rapidly increasing income disparities will be a major focus.

In its study titled “Working for the Few,” the British-founded development charity Oxfam concludes that the $110 trillion wealth of the 1% richest people on the planet is some 65 times the total wealth of those floundering at the “bottom half” of the world’s population.

Further, this poorer “bottom half” now has about the same amount of money as the richest 85 people in the world, and the wealthiest grew their share of bounty in 24 out of 26 countries surveyed between 1980 and 2012, the study says. The research was compiled using data from Credit Suisse’s World Wealth report and the Forbes’ billionaires list.

“In the last 30 thirty years seven out of 10 people have been living in countries where economic inequality has increased,” Nick Galasso, one of the co-authors of the study, told USA TODAY. “This is a trend that has been unfolding globally for the last two or three decades. What we’ve not seen is any political will toward curbing it.”

Read more » USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/01/20/davos-2014-oxfam-85-richest-people-half-world/4655337/

Russell Brand’s Revolution Is Right, We Have To Change.

Bob Geldof Backs Russell Brand’s Revolution In Call For New Politics

The Huffington Post UK | By Asa Bennett

Sir Bob Geldof has thrown his weight behind Russell Brand‘s call for a political revolution, warning that the current system of democracy “may not be viable for much longer”.

Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Geldof praised Brand for his “articulacy and expressing the anger of the moment”, after he sparked a controversy with an essay in the New Statesman magazine calling for the “overthrow of the current political system”.

The Irish rockstar and political activist said: “We have to change and it needs to be in the context of how we live now rather than with some old-hat political ideal.”

Geldof blamed the failure of capitalism on the banks going “out of control” and due to human greed, inventing “completely spurious” financial products.

“They ceased to [give money to others] and gave it to themselves through fraud, outright international global gangsterism.

In an impassioned attack on recent banking scandals, he went on: “That’s what it was. Mispricing of products, fraud. Mis-selling of products, fraud. Fixing the interbank lending rate. Fraud. It was fraud on an unprecedented scale! They sucked billions out of the world economy, destroying individuals, companies and countries.”

“Russell [Brand] is completely right. That model cannot sustain us as we saw, it bankrupted Greece, almost Italy, almost France and almost Ireland. It just can’t work.”

Geldof, renowned for his role behind the Live Aid and Band Aid charity initiatives, spoke to HuffPostUK after talking to young entrepreneurs at an event hosted by the RockStar Youth group.

Geldof warned Brand that replacing the current political system with anarchy was “not viable or plausible”, adding: “You can’t just have a free for all. It just wont work because we will form structural organisations within that as it’s the kind of thing we do.”

However, he said the bankers’ immense levels of pay posed a serious threat to society. “When you have these supposed masters of the universe averaging more than 248 times the average worker’s pay, you have a serious problem of inequality. Inequality stops a society functioning and so it has to stop.

“I do think the version of democracy that we have been living with just may not be viable for very much longer. We will have something where we have proper freedom and elected representation.”

“We all co-operate in the knowing lie, which is that everybody promises more and that the economy will inevitably grow. what does that mean? It means more, more of what? That’s not viable in an unsustainable and finite world.

“Nor can you in a four year electoral cycle put into place programmes that would help to ameliorate the effects of that. If the economy is affected in that way by definition politics are so that the politics that we’ve grown up with in a different economy cannot work in a new one, there has to be a newer type of politics.

“You will see a change in the type of politics. It’ll still be our government, it needs to be otherwise you’ll have problems and it still needs to be a more coherent economy.”

Courtesy: Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/01/18/bob-geldof-russell-brand_n_4622761.html

Chomsky on Anarchy & Anarcho-Syndicalism

By Sean Nevins

WASHINGTON (VOR) — Recently, Radio VR took a trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts to sit down and speak with Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky of M.I.T.

Dr. Chomsky is famous the world over for his work in linguistics but moreso his political philosophies and beliefs. He is a self-described anarchist, and more specifically, an anarcho-syndicalist.

Radio VR discussed a number of issues with Dr. Chomsky, including anarcho-syndicalism. Specifically, we inquired into what it is, how it arises, and how it can be applied by people that want to affect positive change in the world.

The transcript is below:

Sean Nevins: I kind of want to start off by asking you to briefly describe what is anarchism and more specifically anarcho-syndicalism?

Noam Chomsky: Well, I think the best characterization that I know is given by one of the leading thinkers and activists in the modern anarcho-syndicalist world, Rudolf Rocker, who described anarchism, in general, as not a specific set of beliefs that provides particular answers to all the questions that can arise, but rather what he called ‘a general tendency in the history of humanity’ which aims to inquire into the nature of social, economic, political structures to determine, to detect structures of hierarchy and domination and to challenge them to demonstrate their legitimacy. They are not self-justifying and if they cannot defend their legitimacy on some plausible grounds then to dismantle them and reconstruct then from below. And to do this in the context of the existing society, developing alternative institutions that are more free and more just in the hope of moving on to a world of free associations of workers’ communities controlling their own institutions, their own fate in association with one another of various kinds of federal arrangements and so on. That is the basic thrust of anarchism. Altogether it is my view and of anarcho-syndicalism in particular which is designed for complex industrial societies.

Sean Nevins: So, you are talking about workers controlling their own work and controlling the enterprises of that work and expanding out into the community?

Noam Chomsky: It’s one of crucial aspect of it. In fact, anarcho-syndicalism kind of shades off into left anti-Bolshevik Marxism. People like Anton Pannekoek, Paul Mattick, Karl Korsch and others have sympathetic relationships and ideas and the great anarchist achievement like the 1936 Spanish Revolution before it was crushed, did have the strong and sympathetic support of left Marxists who felt a community of interests and commitments.

Sean Nevins: Workers controlling their own work — How is this organized? And how does it arise?

Noam Chomsky: Well, it’s all over the place. First of all it is a constant development takes place all over. There were efforts in Eastern Europe, for example, in self-management in Yugoslavia. Right now in the United States, in the old decaying Rust Belt, where industries are collapsing, they’re being replaced, to a certain extent, by worker owned and partially worker-managed enterprises. There is one huge institution that’s Mondragon, a great conglomerate in Spain which is worker owned and the manager is selected by workers but not actually worker-managed which is a collection of heavy industries, banks, hospitals, community living and so on.

Sean Nevins: Do they arise, kind of, spontaneously and is there a system that regulates how the workers organize themselves, like maybe in the US, like they do it one way, and then over in Spain, [at] Mondragon, they’ll do it a different way. Is there any kind of vision?

Noam Chomsky: There is no leadership or Bible, things develop on the basis of the circumstances that exist. So the conditions in Rust Belt in Northern Ohio and in Catalonia and in Aragon in 1936 are quite different and the backgrounds are quite different. But there were similarities in the way the take-over by working people, peasants of their own lives proceeded.

Sean Nevins: Let’s say that Mondragon wants to have an association with somebody in the Rust Belt…

Noam Chomsky: That is what is happening in fact. I don’t know how far it’ll go, but one of the major US unions, the steel workers, has now entered into some kinds of interactions with Mondragon to try to work out ways to develop Mondragon-type system in the old industrial sections of the US and revive them on the basis of worker-ownership and community-ownership in control.

Courtesy: YouTube

Statistics Canada says 45,900 jobs lost in December, unemployment rate rises

Economists had projected a gain of about 14,000 jobs in December, but Canada instead shed a surprising 45,900 jobs last month, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The country’s unemployment rate also rose to 7.2 per cent from 6.9 per cent in November — making Canada’s unemployment rate higher than in the United States, which had an unemployment rate of 6.7 per cent.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/statistics-canada-says-45-900-jobs-lost-in-december-unemployment-rate-rises-1.1633133#ixzz2q6eFwGzc

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More details » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-loses-nearly-46-000-jobs-in-december-1.2491374

Economic apartheid

By Sakib Sherani

INEQUALITY is rising in Pakistan — in all its unsavoury dimensions. While we may have had a less-unequal society, in relative terms, for much of our existence, that sliver of solace is fast disappearing. The more worrying aspect is that inequality is no longer ‘cyclical (if it ever was) — that is, relating to income disparities arising out of a slowing economy and fewer jobs.

It has institutional as well as structural roots that the elite have been very comfortable with perpetuating, most shamelessly via a duality of education systems — one, near-world class for their own children, the other, a shambolic excuse for a minimal fulfilling of the state’s responsibility (and failing at that too). Hence, through a variety of channels and means, both wittingly as well as unwittingly, a large swathe of Pakistan faces permanent exclusion from economic, social as well as political voice and opportunity.

The statistic that most captures the public imagination with regard to inequality relates to income disparity. On this front, the share of income of the bottom 20pc of the households is around 8pc, while that of the top 20pc households is almost six times larger, at 45pc. Over the past 10 years or so, incomes of the top 20pc households have grown faster than for the others.

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I Wear the Badge of Socialist With Honor

The full text of the new Seattle city council member’s inauguration speech.

By Kshama Sawant

Editor’s note: At a ceremonial swearing-in on Monday, Kshama Sawant became Seattle’s first socialist city council member in almost a century. The full text of her inauguration speech is below.

My brothers and sisters,

Thank you for your presence here today.

This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape. At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and healthcare become inaccessible.

This is not unique to Seattle. Shamefully, in this, the richest country in human history, fifty million of our people—one in six—live in poverty. Around the world, billions do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation and children die every day from malnutrition.

This is the reality of international capitalism. This is the product of the gigantic casino of speculation created by the highway robbers on Wall Street. In this system the market is God, and everything is sacrificed on the altar of profit. Capitalism has failed the 99%.

Despite recent talk of economic growth, it has only been a recovery for the richest 1%, while the rest of us are falling ever farther behind.

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Nick Hanauer: MILLIONAIRE INVESTOR: “If the Rich Were Job Creators, We’d be Drowning in Jobs Today.”

By David Harris GershonFollow for Writing by David Harris Gershon

Nick Hanauer is a very rich, wildly successful business man. His company, aQuantive, was purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. He founded gear.com, which merged with Overstock.com, and he was one of the first investors in Amazon.com in the 1990s.

Hanauer knows opportunity.

Hanauer also, it seems, both understands and is willing to articulate what most of our country’s wealthiest citizens refuse to acknowledge: that it is the middle class which creates jobs through demand, and that our country’s richest members of society need to be paying more in taxes so as not to undercut and destroy those Americans who ultimately determine our nation’s economic health.

Hanauer was interviewed recently by Henry Blodget of Yahoo! Finance, and it is an interview I highly recommend be viewed in its entirety. (I’ve embedded it below.)

Why? He displayed, in a number of shining moments, the type of progressive economic stances that our country needs to hear more from those within the one percent who view the current economic inequalities that exist in our country as both unsustainable and wrong.

For example…

Here’s Hanauer responding to the argument that taxing the rich at higher levels is akin to punishing the most productive members of society, those who drive job creation:

There’s this idea in our society that rich people are job creators, and if you tax them more, then they’ll create less jobs. This is simply a misunderstanding of how the economy works – it’s actually the middle class that creates the jobs with the demand that forces businesses to increase employment.

Read more » Daily KOS
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/09/1063329/-MILLIONAIRE-INVESTOR-If-the-Rich-Were-Job-Creators-We-d-be-Drowning-in-Jobs-Today

via Facebook

France passes 75% ‘millionaire’s tax’

By Thomson Reuters

France’s Constitutional Council gave the green light on Sunday to a ‘millionaire’s tax’, to be levied on companies that pay salaries of more than one million euros, or about $1.4 million, a year.

The measure, introduced in line with a pledge by President Francois Hollande to make the rich do more to pull France out of crisis, has infuriated business leaders and soccer clubs, which at one point threatened to go on strike.

It was originally designed as a 75 per cent tax to be paid by high earners on the part of their incomes exceeding one million euros, but the council rejected this, saying 66 per cent was the legal maximum for individuals.

The Socialist government has since reworked the tax to levy it on companies instead, raising the ire of entrepreneurs.

Under its new design, which the Council found constitutional, the tax will be an exceptional 50 per cent levy on the portion of wages exceeding 1 million euros paid in 2013 and 2014.

Including social contributions, its rate will effectively remain roughly 75 per cent. The tax will, however, be capped at 5 percent of the company’s turnover.

The Council, a court made up of judges and former French presidents, has the power to annul laws if they are deemed to violate the constitution.

Courtesy: CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/france-passes-75-millionaire-s-tax-1.2478390

A Rare Elected Voice for Socialism Pledges to Be Heard in Seattle

SEATTLE — People are used to liberals running things around here. But nobody reckoned with Kshama Sawant. Ms. Sawant, a 41-year-old economics teacher and immigrant from India, took a left at liberal and then kept on going — all the way to socialism.

When she takes a seat on Seattle’s nine-member City Council on Jan. 1, representing the Socialist Alternative Party, she will become one of the few elected socialists in the nation, a political brand most politicians run from.

But Kshama Sawant (pronounced SHAH-mah sah-WANT) heartily embraces the label. Ask her about almost any problem facing America today, and her answer will probably include the “S” word as the best and most reasonable response. Socialism is the path to real democracy, she says. Socialism protects the environment. Socialism is the best hope for young people who have seen their options crushed by the tide of low-wage, futureless jobs in the post-recession economy.

“The take-home message for the left in general is that people are looking for alternatives,” she said in an interview, discussing her victory over a veteran Democrat by a margin of 3,100 votes of about 184,000 cast in a citywide contest. “If you ask me as a socialist what workers deserve, they deserve the value of what they produce.”

Read more » The New York Times
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/12/29/us/a-rare-elected-voice-for-socialism-pledges-to-be-heard-in-seattle.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&rref=us&hpw=

Noam Chomsky: We’re no longer a functioning democracy, we’re really a plutocracy

By Travis Gettys

The world faces two potentially existential threats, according to the linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky.

“There are two major dark shadows that hover over everything, and they’re getting more and more serious,” Chomsky said. “The one is the continuing threat of nuclear war that has not ended. It’s very serious, and another is the crisis of ecological, environmental catastrophe, which is getting more and more serious.”

Chomsky appeared Friday on the last episode of NPR’s “Smiley and West” program to discuss his education, his views on current affairs and how he manages to spread his message without much help from the mainstream media.

He told the hosts that the world was racing toward an environmental disaster with potentially lethal consequence, which the world’s most developed nations were doing nothing to prevent – and in fact were speeding up the process.

“If there ever is future historians, they’re going to look back at this period of history with some astonishment,” Chomsky said. “The danger, the threat, is evident to anyone who has eyes open and pays attention at all to the scientific literature, and there are attempts to retard it, there are also at the other end attempts to accelerate the disaster, and if you look who’s involved it’s pretty shocking.”

Chomsky noted efforts to halt environmental damage by indigenous people in countries all over the world – from Canada’s First Nations to tribal people in Latin America and India to aboriginal people in Australia—but the nation’s richest, most advanced and most powerful countries, such as the United States, were doing nothing to forestall disaster.

“When people here talk enthusiastically about a hundred years of energy independence, what they’re saying is, ‘Let’s try to get every drop of fossil fuel out of the ground so as to accelerate the disaster that we’re racing towards,’” Chomsky said. “These are problems that overlie all of the domestic problems of oppression, of poverty, of attacks on the education system (and) massive inequality, huge unemployment.”

He blamed the “financialization” of the U.S. economy for income inequality and unemployment, saying that banks that were “too big to fail” skimmed enormous wealth from the market.

“In fact, there was a recent (International Monetary Fund) study that estimated that virtually all the profits of the big banks can be traced back to this government insurance policy, and in general they’re quite harmful, I think, quite harmful to the economy,” Chomsky said.

Those harmful effects can be easily observed by looking at unemployment numbers and stock market gains, he said.

“There are tens of millions of people unemployed, looking for work, wanting to work (and) there are huge resources available,” Chomsky said. “Corporate profits are going through the roof, there’s endless amounts of work to be done – just drive through a city and see all sorts of things that have to be done – infrastructure is collapsing, the schools have to be revived. We have a situation in which huge numbers of people want to work, there are plenty, huge resources available, an enormous amount to be done, and the system is so rotten they can’t put them together.”

The reason for this is simple, Chomsky said.

“There is plenty of profit being made by those who pretty much dominate and control the system,” he said. “We’ve moved from the days where there was some kind of functioning democracy. It’s by now really a plutocracy.”

Chomsky strongly disagreed with Smiley and West that he had been marginalized for his views, saying that he regretfully turned down dozens of invitations to speak on a daily basis because he was otherwise engaged.

He also disagreed that a platform in the mainstream media was necessary to influence the debate.

“If you take a look at the progressive changes that have taken place in the country, say, just in the last 50 years – the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, opposition to aggression, the women’s movement, the environmental movement and so on – they’re not led by any debate in the media,” Chomsky said. “No, they were led by popular organizations, by activists on the ground.”

He recalled the earliest days of the antiwar movement, in the early 1960s, when he spoke in living rooms and church basements to just a handful of other activists and they were harassed – even in liberal Boston – by the authorities and media.

But that movement eventually grew and helped hasten the end of the Vietnam War, and Chomsky said it’s grown and become so mainstream that antiwar activists can limit wars before they even begin.

He said President Ronald Reagan was unable to launch a full-scale war in Central America during the 1980s because of the antiwar movement, and he bitterly disputed the idea that antiwar activists had no impact on the Iraq War.

“I don’t agree; it had a big effect,” Chomsky said. “It sharply limited the means that were available to the government to try to carry out the invasion and subdue the population. In fact, it’s one reason why the U.S. ended up really defeated in Iraq, seriously had to give up all of its war aims. The major victor in Iraq turns out to be Iran.”

Despite these limitations, he said the Iraq War had been one of the new millennium’s worst atrocities and had provoked a violent schism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that had sparked regional conflicts throughout the Middle East.

“The United States is now involved in a global terror campaign largely against the tribal people of the world, mostly Muslim tribes, and it’s all over. The intention is to go on and on,” Chomsky said. “These are all terrible consequences, but nevertheless they’re not as bad as they would be if there weren’t public opposition.”

Courtesy: The Raw Story
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/27/noam-chomsky-were-no-longer-a-functioning-democracy-were-really-a-plutocracy/