Tag Archives: corporate greed

Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%

The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to Oxfam.

It uses data from Credit Suisse from October for the report, which urges leaders meeting in Davos this week to take action on inequality.

Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population.

It criticised the work of lobbyists and the amount of money kept in tax havens.

Oxfam predicted that the 1% would overtake the rest of the world this time last year.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35339475

Pew Report: The American middle class is shrinking & standards of living are slipping. 

The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground
No longer the majority and falling behind financially

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.1

Read more »  PewResearchCenter

I am a cook in the US Senate but I still need food stamps to feed my children

By 

I work 70 hours a week doing two jobs but cannot make ends meet. Presidential hopefuls must make profitable federal contractors pay living wages

Every day, I serve food to some of the most powerful people on earth, including many of the senators who are running for president: I’m a cook for the federal contractor that runs the US Senate cafeteria. But today, they’ll have to get their meals from someone else’s hands, because I’m on strike.

I am walking off my job because I want the presidential hopefuls to know that I live in poverty. Many senators canvas the country giving speeches about creating “opportunity” for workers and helping our kids achieve the “American dream” – most don’t seem to notice or care that workers in their own building are struggling to survive.

I’m a single father and I only make $12 an hour; I had to take a second job at a grocery store to make ends meet. But even though I work seven days a week – putting in 70 hours between my two jobs – I can’t manage to pay the rent, buy school supplies for my kids or even put food on the table. I hate to admit it, but I have to use food stamps so that my kids don’t go to bed hungry.

Courtesy: The Guardian

‘Contingency plan’ needed for Greek eurozone exit – British govt

The UK is preparing for a possible Greek exit from the eurozone by taking measures to ensure British banks and companies are not exposed to risk.

Prime Minister David Cameron discussed plans to prepare the UK for a Greek exit from the eurozone with senior Treasury and Bank of England officials at a meeting on Monday.

They debated the possible impact an exit would have on markets and considered potential contingencies for the British businesses thought to be exposed to financial risk.

The meeting follows comments by the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, who told the BBC: “I believe [Greece] will eventually leave.”

Read more » http://rt.com/uk/230603-uk-begins-preparations-grexit/

Technology And the Threat of a Jobless Future

The Typical Millennial Is $2,000 Poorer Than His Parents at This Age

More young people are living in poverty and fewer have jobs compared their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, in 1980

By 

The past is another country. In 1980, the typical young worker in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, earned more than his counterpart in San Francisco or San Jose. The states with the highest median income were Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska. Nearly 80 percent of the Boomer generation, which at the time was between 18 and 35, was white, compared to 57 percent today.

Three decades later, in 2013, the picture of young people—yes, Millennials—is a violently shaken kaleidoscope, and not all the pieces are falling into a better place. Michigan’s median income for under-35 workers has fallen by 26 percent, more than any state. In fact, beyond the east coast, earnings for young workers fell in every state but Hawaii and South Dakota.

Read more » The Atlantic
Learn more » http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/young-adults-poorer-less-employed-and-more-diverse-than-their-parents/385029/

Italy’s finance ministry gets egged by #socialstrike protesters

 

By Magan Specia

Protesters hurled eggs at the country’s finance ministry and scaled the sides of the Colosseum on Thursday as nationwide labor demonstrations heated up.

Students and union members were the driving force behind the demonstrations, rallying on Twitter under the hashtag #socialstrike.

Several were injured in in Padua where protesters clashed with police. The violence erupted when members of the march headed toward the local offices of Premier Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Read more » Mashable
Learn more » http://mashable.com/2014/11/14/national-labor-protest-italy/

The Marxist Nightmare Of The 1 Percent

By 

“… between technology, globalization, trade, the winner-take-all superstar effect, inequality is rising. This is not just a ‘moral’ issue but also an issue of too little consumption too little savings that is bad for global growth. So it becomes vicious cycle. It’s a bit like the old Marxist idea that if profits grow too much compared to wages, there’s not going to be enough consumption, and capitalism is going to self destruct. So I think that insight of Karl Marx is as useful today as it was 100 years ago.”

If profits grow too much compared to wages, there’s not going to be enough consumption, and capitalism is going to self destruct.

That quote is from Nouriel Roubini, and it perfectly summarizes what a lot of the world’s elites were thinking about at the World Economic Forum.

Roubini’s words echoed the warning from MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson, who told us:

…there are a lot of forces affecting inequality. There’s globalization, there are institutional changes, cultural changes, but I think most economists would agree that the biggest chunk of it is due to technology. And that’s because of what economists call skill-biased technical change — favoring skilled workers versus less-skilled workers.

Also we talk in the book about capital-biased technical change — you bring capital over labor like when you replace humans with robots. And the third category that maybe is the most important one, we call it superstar-biased technical change, maybe we should come up with a better name. But it’s the fact that technologies can leverage and amplify the special talents, skill, or luck of the 1% or maybe even the 100th of 1% and replicate them across millions or billions of people. In those kinds of markets, you tend to have winner-take-all outcomes and a few people reap enormous benefits and all of us as consumers reap benefits as well, but there’s a lot less need for people of just average or above-average skills.

Brynjolffson came to The World Economic Forum in Davos to warn policymakers that without changes, technology would exacerbate inequality, rather than benefit society as a whole.

The folks at the World Economic Forum in Davos are almost all doing extremely well. They’re the world’s 1% (actually probably more like the world’s 0.001%), and it’s well known that the recovery has been good to them. But there was also a sense — that Roubini gets at in his comment — that the good times won’t last if things keep becoming more unequal.

Figuring out a way to promote mass welfare and to ensure that more people have jobs and strong incomes becomes crucial to preserving what the elites have. Better to have some sort of rebalancing than a dramatic capitalist-destroying rebalancing.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-tech-fears-2014-1#ixzz3KDVYHufQ

Japan’s economy makes surprise fall into recession

Japan’s economy unexpectedly shrank for the second consecutive quarter, leaving the world’s third largest economy in technical recession.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell at an annualised 1.6% from July to September, compared with forecasts of a 2.1% rise.

That followed a revised 7.3% contraction in the second quarter, which was the biggest fall since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Economists said the weak economic data could delay a sales tax rise.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30077122

Canadian dollar sinks

 

Weaker loonie won’t save Canada’s low-skilled manufacturing sector, top economist says

By Greg Quinn, Bloomberg News

Canadian makers of goods such as dishwashers shouldn’t look to a depreciation of the nation’s currency to save their businesses, said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.

Parts of Canada’s manufacturing industry will be wiped out by lower-cost Asian rivals, according to Weinberg, who said the country doesn’t have any competitive advantage when it comes to the business of bolting together cars and appliances from imported kits.

Read more » Financial Post
See more » http://business.financialpost.com/2014/10/02/weaker-loonie-wont-save-canadas-low-skilled-manufacturing-sector-top-economist-says/

The Corporate Assault on Direct Democracy

By Ron Fein, Truthout | Op-Ed

The direct democracy of ballot initiatives – where voters get to vote yes or no, without any politicians in the way – is a treasured part of the fabric of 24 states and many more cities. But around the country, there’s been a disturbing trend this year: When initiatives threaten corporate interests, lawyers run to court to prevent voters from even getting the chance to vote.

Read more » Truth Out
Learn more » http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26982-the-corporate-assault-on-direct-democracy

Conversation Between Noam Chomsky, Paul Craig Roberts and Rob Kall part 1– the future of capitalism

Conversation Between Noam Chomsky, Paul Craig Roberts and Rob Kall part 1– the future of capitalism

By

Excerpt;

NC: Well the first point to mention is that we’re very far from a capitalist economy and have never been one — it’s a state capitalist economy with substantial state intervention that, in many respects from basic research and development to manipulating interest rates to determining the laws that administer regulations that permit CEOs to pick their own boards and hence to enhance their salaries, and thousands of other ways. What’s the future of it? That depends on how the public will respond to the circumstances in which there are. I mean, there is an institutional logic which will perpetuate things in a certain direction, but it is not graven in stone. It has been in the past, and can be in the future, influenced, modified, even radically changed by public engagement and action. And there’s no way to predict that — those are matters for action not for speculation.

Rob: OK, Paul?

PCR: Well I think that’s a very insightful view of it. All I would add is that in more recent years, the private interest groups seem to have taken control of the government. Wall Street, Military Security Complex, Agribusiness, the extractive industries — their campaign donations elect the House, the Senate, the President, and they then write most of the bills that Congress passes and the President signs, so it’s a form of state capitalism in which the capitalists seem to have the upper hand.

I think that greed has run away with them to such an extent that they have let it undermine the domestic economy on which they themselves depend. For example, they greatly increased profits in managerial or executive performance bonuses by offshoring so many of the middle class jobs, not only the manufacturing jobs but the professional tradable service jobs, such as software engineering, research, design — these things have left, or a large percentage of them, and it erodes consumer purchasing power. The middle class is damaged, the kids who graduate from university expecting jobs find that jobs are offshored, they’ve got debts, increasingly the big retail box stores just offer part-time employment — you can’t form a household on one of those jobs. You can’t get married, buy a house. You have to work two of those jobs, some people three. There are no benefits, no pension. The years of zero interest rate, in order to save the big mega banks, have caused the retired element to have to draw down their savings because they don’t get any interest income, and so inheritance for children is disappearing. And so the whole system has become a house of cards.

Massive debt/money creation is not matched by the increase in real goods and services. As Chomsky said, interest rates are rigged, the gold price is rigged, the stock market is a bubble, the dollar is a bubble — in a way it’s a house of cards. And the power of the United States rests, to a substantial extent, on the dollar being the world reserve currency. And yet, when you create massive new dollars to support quantitative easing but the goods and services don’t increase, you worry the whole world about their dollar holdings. And then you step in and threaten other countries with sanctions? That gives them an incentive to leave the dollar payment system, which means the demand for dollars drops.

So, I think the whole thing is a house of cards and that change could come from a substantial collapse that simply totally discredits the elites from both parties; and some kind of collapse of that extent would give room for the sort of thing Noam mentioned — that people could get back in and be determining factors in the process and some kind of new leadership could arise.

Read more » OpEdNews
Learn More » http://www.opednews.com/articles/Transcript-Conversation-B-by-Rob-Kall-Capitalism_Climate_Greed_Predatory-Capitalism-140928-11.html

‘Revolution is inevitable’: Russell Brand

 

‘Revolution is inevitable’: Russell Brand hits Wall Street, kisses RT interviewer (VIDEO)

Russell Brand and some 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters descended onto New York City’s financial district on Monday, where the celebrity called for a “revolution” within the US. Brand explained his viewpoint to RT – and even kissed the correspondent.

The gathering began as part of a promotional event for his newly released book, titled ‘Revolution.’ However, after a reading at Zuccotti Park – where Occupy Wall Street protesters made global headlines for rallying against social and economic inequality – Brand and other attendees marched to Wall Street.

Once they arrived, Brand spoke about the need for a social and economic “revolution,” something he writes about at length in his new book. Brand mentioned the high disapproval ratings that have been reported regarding American institutions like Congress, arguing that the last time vast swathes of the country were taxed by “elites,” a revolution was sparked.

Speaking with RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky at the event, Brand said the arrival of his book comes at a time when Americans are bracing for similar revolutionary action.

“I think it’s inevitable,” Brand said. “When universal change is required, people will formulate and organize, and bring about that change. Now we are living under galling inequality, at the point of ecological crisis. People are misinformed, but the means for new communication are merging, and people are awakening.”

Read more » RT
http://rt.com/usa/195992-russell-brand-revolution-wall-street/

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities

By theguardian.com

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed.

It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That’s why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won’t be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare, the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

Continue reading Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

Tens of thousands march in London against coalition’s austerity measures

An estimated 50,000 people in London addressed by speakers, including Russell Brand, after People’s Assembly march

By  and agencies

Tens of thousands of people marched through central London on Saturday afternoon in protest at austerity measures introduced by the coalition government. The demonstrators gathered before the Houses of Parliament, where they were addressed by speakers, including comedians Russell Brand and Mark Steel.

An estimated 50,000 people marched from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London to Westminster.

“The people of this building [the House of Commons] generally speaking do not represent us, they represent their friends in big business. It’s time for us to take back our power,” said Brand.

Read more » The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jun/21/protest-march-austerity-london-russell-brand-peoples-assembly#start-of-comments

Empty wallets explain new levels of partisan hatred

Tricle downBy  | Daily Ticker

new study by Pew Research verifies much we already know about political extremism in America: It’s getting worse and interfering with social and economic progress. The big question is: Why?

Pew doesn’t address that question, but here’s a plausible answer: Voters are becoming angrier because living standards are falling and the middle class is shriveling. Prosperity breeds comity, but when it gets harder to get ahead, the natural inclination is for the losers to look for somebody to blame and the winners to feel more threatened. That’s been going on for nearly 30 years. Income inequality began to worsen in the United States starting around the early 1980s.

Read more » Yahoo News
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/empty-wallets-explain-why-democrats-and-republicans-hate-each-other-191155158.html

Canada surprises with April jobs loss: Canada’s economy lost 28,900 jobs

flagCaCanada surprises with April jobs loss; trails U.S. employment pace

By Louise Egan

OTTAWA, May 9 (Reuters) – Canada’s economy lost 28,900 jobs in April, Statistics Canada said on Friday in a report that revealed across-the-board weakness in a labor market that is stalled and has been adding jobs at a more sluggish pace than in the United States.

The report suggests economic growth has not been gathering the speed that was expected in the second quarter and that business confidence is still shaky.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/09/canada-economy-jobs-idUSL2N0NU26Y20140509?feedType=RSS&virtualBrandChannel=11563

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

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

Big 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.

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

‘March for dignity’: Thousands arrive in Madrid to protest govt austerity

88 injured, 29 arrested in Madrid as anti-austerity march turns violent

Protesters clashed with police in Madrid as thousands of people trekked across Spain to protest austerity which they claim is destroying their country. Under the banner “no more cuts!” the protesters called for an end to the government’s “empty promises.”

Police arrested at least 29 protesters following the clashes which took place after the march. According to emergency service, 88 people were injured – 55 of them police, El Mundo newspaper reports.

Protesters were seen throwing stones and firecrackers at police. According to witnesses, officers used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Clashes broke out during a final speech at the demonstration when protesters tried to break through a police barrier. Riot police took charge by beating protesters with batons, AP reported.

“The mass rally was coming to an an end when reportedly a group of younger protesters, who had masks on their faces, started throwing rocks at the police. Police tried to push them away from the parameter that they organized around this area,” RT’s Egor Piskunov reported from Madrid.

Read more » http://rt.com/news/spain-protest-cuts-crisis-509/

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

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/

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

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.

Continue reading I Wear the Badge of Socialist With Honor

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/