Posts Tagged ‘#capitalism’

Dr. David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London on his book – Debt: The First 5000 Years. How the concepts of debt and credit have defined human history and what this means for our current credit crisis and the future of our economy.

English: David Graeber on a boat at Fire Island.

David Graeber on a boat at Fire Island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: he shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods — that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.

Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without even knowing it.

Part 1:

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On PBS:

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US Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, revealed for the first time in Senate testimony Tuesday that at least twenty-three billionaire families have contributed a minimum of $250,000 each so far in this year’s campaigns.

“My guess is that number is really much greater because many of these contributions are made in secret. In other words, not content to own our economy, the 1 percent want to own our government as well,” Sanders told the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

via The Nation & YouTube


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The man who forced the government of Iceland to resign and kicked out the IMF representatives from his country, Hordur Torfason, is now teaching meta-modern democracy throughout Europe.The rest of the world would benefit from following the example set by Iceland: Arresting the corrupt bankers who are responsible for the current economic turmoil.

Full employment contributes above all to achieving human dignity.

“It’s nice to be important, but is more important to be nice.”

People’s Congress Interview — Iceland’s Revolution Leader Hordur Torfason — June 3, 2012

How the corporate media fails We The People every single day.

(Return to the Contents Topics page.)

 * * * * Off the Radar Screen * * * *

Lately I’ve been dismayed at how little meaningful attention is being given to inequality – more precisely, the economics of income and wealth inequality – in the media or on the internet.  So I borrowed this spin radar from a Flickr GeoRadar post to make an important point: This topic is off virtually everyone’s radar screen.  Despite the fact that six months ago Occupy Wall Street and hundreds of other Occupy camps sprang up in America mainly to protest the poor economy, economic injustice and the growing income and wealth disparity between the wealthiest 1% and the bottom 99%, there has been very little detailed discussion of how serious the problem is, and what must be done to correct it.

I can’t stress enough that growing wealth and income inequality is America’s…

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Glenn Greenwald - Caricature

(Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

DemocracyNow.org – Four years after the 2008 economic crisis, not a single top Wall Street executive has gone to jail. “These executives knew that they could take these huge risks and even break laws and pay no real price, and that’s what happened,” says Glenn Greenwald, author of “With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful,” and a blogger for Salon. “It’s not just a travesty of justice that we haven’t punished them for past transgressions. The real danger is that we’re continuing to send the signal to the world’s most powerful financial actors that they don’t have any fear of criminal accountability when they commit these obvious crimes.”

Watch the extended interview with Glenn Greenwald

 

Glenn Greenwald (born March 6, 1967) is an American lawyer, columnist, blogger, and author. Greenwald worked as a constitutional and civil rights litigator before becoming a contributor (columnist and blogger) to Salon.com, where he focuses on political and legal topics.

 

Interview with Chris Hedges co-author of “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

Two years ago, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the searing account of their travels.

The book starts in the western plains, where Native Americans were sacrificed in the giddy race for land and empire. It moves to the old manufacturing centers and coal fields that fueled the industrial revolution, but now lie depleted and in decay. It follows the steady downward spiral of American labor into the nation’s produce fields and ends in Zuccotti Park where a new generation revolts against a corporate state that has handed to the young an economic, political, cultural and environmental catastrophe.

Also see Chris’ latest post on Truthdig: Time to Get Crazy

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.

This is the censored TED Talk that the wealthy 1% did not want us to see.

Income InequalityThe inequality of wealth and income in the US is greater than at any time since the 1920s. As Professor Elizabeth Warren has explained, “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.” Nobody. Not even Mitt Romney. As Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF, noted recently, “the U.S. is unique…just as we have the world’s most advanced economy, military and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy.” Today, we are told by the 1% and their political representatives in Washington DC that we can no longer afford money for public education and the social safety net, even as trillions go to Wall Street and the unending wars purportedly fighting terrorism (although it could easily be argued that terrorism begets terrorism, we must also consider who in the world really uses & traffics in Weapons of Mass Destruction?).

The Occupy Wall Street protests (the 99%) are a protest, a rebellion of human beings thinking reasonably and rationally. After all, isn’t government supposed to serve the People, and not the other way around? Government employees are “public servants” not corporate servants, and not solely servants of the 1%. The greater the disparity in wealth between the very rich and everyone else, the more unstable an economy becomes. Consumer demand is what drives a capitalist economy, and as more people sink into poverty, they are unable to buy products because they don’t have enough income to make those purchases.

In 1928, one year before the global economic collapse of the Great Depression, the wealthiest .001% of the U.S. population owned 892 times more than 90% of the nation’s citizens. Today, the top .001% of the U.S. population owns 976 times more than the entire bottom 90%.

Extreme Income Inequality

Chart courtesy of The Nation magazine. Click for full size.

As you can plainly see, there has been a radical redistribution of income to the top 1%. And yet, they don’t call this “socialism”. This dire economic situation just didn’t happen by accident either. The wealthiest 1% reaped 2/3rds of the economic benefits from Bush’s tax cuts. In 2010, top 1% incomes grew by 11.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%, its lowest level in nearly 30 years. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. It is likely that this uneven recovery has continued in 2011-12 as the stock market has continued to recover. [For a more detailed description of these and other sources of income inequality data, please see Chad Stone, Hannah Shaw, Danilo Trisi, and Arloc Sherman, “A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 5, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/files/11-28-11pov.pdf.]

Poverty-In-AmericaOne out of every 5 children in the U.S. lives in poverty (21%) compared with approximately 4% in Sweden. One out of every 4 (25% of) children in the U.S. is receiving food stamps (SNAP). Social spending makes up most of the difference: in Sweden, social spending reduces child poverty by 70%, while in the U.S. it reduces child poverty only 5%, down from 26%. These differences arise as a result of policies that create these enormous inequalities in resources, or in the absence of policies that would bridge the inequalities.

This is a list of countries or dependencies by income inequality metrics, including Gini coefficients, according to the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the OECD. The tables there are sortable by column, but in pretty much every case, the United States ranks right near the bottom among both developed and developing countries, meaning it has the highest rate of income inequality. We might expect to see something like this in authoritarian dictatorships, but not in a country like the U.S.

A number of factors may help explain this increase in inequality, not only underlying technological changes but also the retreat of institutions developed during the New Deal and World War II – such as progressive tax policies, powerful labor unions (.pdf), corporate provision of wages/salaries, health and retirement benefits, and changing social norms regarding pay inequality. We need to decide as a society whether this increase in income inequality is efficient and acceptable and, if not, what mix of institutional and tax reforms should be developed to counter it. And we need to vote for politicians that will propose and support those policies.

Inside Job‘ is the first film to provide a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.