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

The Dominant Economic Model of the 21st Century: Pain and Suffering for — Almost — All

March 3, 2014  |  This article originally appeared on TruthDig.com, and is reprinted here with their permission.OXFORD, England—The morning after my  Feb. 20 debate at the Oxford Union, I walked from my hotel along Oxford’s narrow cobblestone streets, past its storied colleges with resplendent lawns and Gothic stone spires, to meet  Avner Offer, an economic historian and Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History.Offer, the author of “ The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950,” for 25 years has explored the cavernous gap between our economic and social reality and our ruling economic ideology. Neoclassical economics, he says, is a “just-world theory,” one that posits that not only do good people get what they deserve but those who suffer deserve to suffer. He says this model is “a warrant for inflicting pain.” If we continue down a path of mounting scarcities, along with economic stagnation or decline, this neoclassical model is ominous. It could be used to justify repression in an effort to sustain a vision that does not correspond to the real world.Offer, who has studied the rationing systems set up in countries that took part in World War I, suggests we examine how past societies coped successfully with scarcity. In an age of scarcity it would be imperative to set up new, more egalitarian models of distribution, he says. Clinging to the old neoclassical model could, he argues, erode and perhaps destroy social cohesion and require the state to engage in greater forms of coercion.

“The basic conventions of public discourse are those of the  Enlightenment, in which the use of reason [enabled] us to achieve human objectives,” Offer said as we sat amid piles of books in his cluttered office. “Reason should be tempered by reality, by the facts. So underlining this is a notion of science that confronts reality and is revised by reference to reality. This is the model for how we talk. It is the model for the things we assume. But the reality that has emerged around us has not come out of this process. So our basic conventions only serve to justify existing relationships, structures and hierarchies. Plausible arguments are made for principles that are incompatible with each other.”

Offer cited a concept from social psychology called the  just-world theory. “A just-world theory posits that the world is just. People get what they deserve. If you believe that the world is fair you explain or rationalize away injustice, usually by blaming the victim.

Major ways of thinking about the world constitute just-world theories,” he said. “The Catholic Church is a just-world theory. If the Inquisition burned heretics, they only got what they deserved. Bolshevism was a just-world theory. If  Kulaks were starved and exiled, they got what they deserved. Fascism was a just-world theory. If Jews died in the concentration camps, they got what they deserved. The point is not that the good people get the good things, but the bad people get the bad things. Neoclassical economics, our principal source of policy norms, is a just-world theory.”

Offer quoted the economist  Milton Friedman: “The ethical principle that would directly justify the distribution of income in a free market society is, ‘To each according to what he and the instruments he owns produces.’ ”

“So,” Offer went on, “everyone gets what he or she deserves, either for his or her effort or for his or her property. No one asks how he or she got this property. And if they don’t have it, they probably don’t deserve it. The point about just-world theory is not that it dispenses justice, but that it provides a warrant for inflicting pain.”

Read more » Alternet
http://www.alternet.org/economy/dominant-economic-model-21st-century-pain-and-suffering-almost-all

Crimea’s Tatars: fearing a return to Stalin-era terror

By Lindsey Hilsum on International Affairs

The soldiers came at midnight when the children were sleeping. Sabrie, who was ten, struggled to stay awake as her mother grabbed her little sister and two brothers.

There was no time to change, to pack, to bring anything – they had fifteen minutes to get to the station. There they stayed, hungry and afraid, until the train came to remove them from their home in Crimea to a distant land. They would not return for half a century.

I met Sabrie in the town of Bakhchiserai yesterday. Aged 80 now, she speaks of what happened as if it were last week, not 70 years ago. Her green eyes widen and she gesticulates with gnarled hands, reliving her story as if telling it for the first time.

Read more » Channel 4

– See more at: http://blogs.channel4.com/lindsey-hilsum-on-international-affairs/crimeas-tatars-fearing-return-stalinera-terror/3599#sthash.4PySdPhF.hLsoSD5z.dpuf