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Austerity, Debt & Environmental Degradation

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  • Our individual struggles are against system-wide problems and when the people are united, we can win. Let’s keep building solidarity and unity of action so the muscle of people power grows.
  • The fracking struggle: a distorted reflection of America’s decomposing democracy

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

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No-Austerity-protest-e1428168767494.jpg April 4th, 2015 | Last week, we wrote about the epidemic of neo-liberalism. This week, as major protests erupt in Canada, Mexico and Belgium, we discuss its sister, austerity. In neo-liberal economics, wealth is funneled to the top through increasing privatization of the public. This can only occur if those who are not at the top are subjected to austerity measures.

Those at the bottom are squeezed, suffer financial insecurity and the inability to meet basic needs. Rather than these realities weakening our ability to stand up, we must stand together in solidarity to take care of each other and build our power in the struggle.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are participants in Popular Resistance <PopularResistance.org>, an online daily news and information service for people who want to play a role in improving the country, creating economic and social justice as well as to protect the environment. They also co-direct It’s Our Economy and are co-hosts of Clearing the FOG, shown on UStream TV and heard on radio.

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The fracking struggle: a distorted reflection of America’s decomposing democracy, TGP Staff, The Greanville Post 

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  • As usual, in the case of (the) secessionists and their short-term thinking, they don’t care much what happens to others, let alone nature which they regard as God-given for man’s infinite usufruct, as long a they get theirs. This myopic but widely embraced selfish cultural attitude is these days further reinforced by the wholesale breakdown of American society, the total corruption, cynicism and hypocrisy that defines its political and media class (which allow for no real leadership except criminal misleadership), and the massive confusion and ignorance in which most Americans live their entire lives. Clueless is as clueless does. In other words, par for the course in the American republic, overrun by the toxic power of its coddled plutocrats.
  • BP oil spill: dead zones for many, profits for the few

America's Economic Crisis: Week Ending April 11, 2015

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  • “…it seems that our remedies are instinctively those which aggravate the sickness: the remedies are expressions of the sickness itself“. --Thomas Merton
  • Part 1: Two Great Depressions: Roosevelt’s “New Deal” vs. Obama’s “Secular Stagnation”
  • Part 2: The Alternative To Long-Term Austerity: Less Work, Higher Wages, No Mere Utopian Dream

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

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Part 1: Two Great Depressions: Roosevelt’s “New Deal” vs. Obama’s “Secular Stagnation”

Why Franklin Roosevelt Didn’t End the First One, and Why Barack Obama Won’t End This One

Alan Nasser, Global Research 

2852.EconomicRecession.jpgMarch 15, 2014 | Existing programs were not only too small, but they were also either temporary (Civilian Conservation Corps and Civil Works Administration) or irrationally tied to the severely weakened states’ ability to raise substantial revenues on their own (Federal Emergency Relief Act and Public Works Administration). CWA had come closest to the kind of commitment Keynes thought indispensable, but it suffered two fatal defects: it was temporary, designed only to help workers get through the harsh winter of 1933, and of all these programs it was the object of Roosevelt’s greatest suspicion. Roosevelt feared that CWA would raise workers’ expectations of what they could permanently expect from government.

The Dawn of the New Deal and Keynes’s 1933 Letter

The president’s instincts were solidly anti-federalist; there must be no permanent direct government provision of what it is the proper function of the private sector to provide. Roosevelt wanted relatively small, temporary federal efforts on behalf of workers, with the states primarily responsible for the provision of social benefits in the long run. Keynes urged large, permanent programs supplying employment during both economic contractions and expansions, provided directly by the federal government. He communicated his concern to Roosevelt in an open letter published in The New York Times on December 31, 1933. (1)

Alan Nasser is professor emeritus of Political Economy and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College. His website is: http://www.alannasser.org.  This article is adapted from his book, United States of Emergency American Capitalism and Its Crises will be published by Pluto Press later this year.

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Part 2: The Alternative To Long-Term Austerity: Less Work, Higher Wages, No Mere Utopian Dream

“A spectre is haunting the treasuries and central banks of the West – the spectre of secular stagnation. What if there is no sustainable recovery of the economic slump of 2008-2013? What if the sources of economic growth have dried up – not temporarily, but permanently?” – preeminent Keynes scholar and economic historian Robert Skidelsky, “Secular Stagnation and the Road to Full Investment,” Social Europe Journal, May 22, 2014 

Alan Nasser, Global Research

entral-banks-economy-400x264.jpgApril 07, 2015 | Both Karl Marx and J.M. Keynes concluded that the trajectory of capitalist development placed a radically emancipatory possibility on the political-economic agenda. For the first time in modern history work time could be dramatically reduced with no reduction in our standard of living. In fact, if living standards are measured not merely by money wages but also by increased leisure, i.e. increased time available to develop and exercise our broad range of gratifying capabilities, the reduction in work time would elevate our standard of living to a degree hitherto unimaginable.

In what follows we’ll see that less work with higher wages is at this historical juncture not merely economically possible, but desirable as the only practical alternative to the secular stagnation grimly forecast with much flurry by such luminaries as Paul Krugman, Larry Summers and Robert J. Gordon, and by the IMF in its April 2014 World Economic Outlook. Both Marx and Keynes saw their prescriptions as not merely a “better idea,” but as the alternative to severe ongoing crisis, understood as dramatic reductions in real production, employment and wages.

Alan Nasser is professor emeritus of Political Economy and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College. His website is: http://www.alannasser.org.  This article is adapted from his book, United States of Emergency American Capitalism and Its Crises will be published by Pluto Press later this year.

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Series | Capitalism Unmasked: Part 4: The Great Capitalist Heist: How Paris Hilton's Dogs Ended Up Better Off Than You

AlterNet Editor's Note: When harmful beliefs plague a population, you can bet that the 1% is benefiting. This article is part of a new AlterNet series, "Capitalism Unmasked," edited by Lynn Parramore and produced in partnership with author Douglas Smith and Econ4 to expose the myths and lies of unbridled capitalism and show the way to a better future.

Gerald Friedman, AlterNet

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July 8, 2012 | Elites say that we need inequality to encourage the rich to invest and the creative to invent. That’s working out well — for 1% pooches.

Summer, 2009. Unemployment is soaring. Across America, millions of terrified people are facing foreclosure and getting kicked to the curb. Meanwhile in sunny California, the hotel-heiress Paris Hilton is investing $350,000 of her $100 million fortune in a two-story house for her dogs. A Pepto Bismol-colored replica of Paris’ own Beverly Hills home, the backyard doghouse provides her precious pooches with two floors of luxury living, complete with abundant closet space and central air.

By the standards of America’s rich these days, Paris’ dogs are roughing it. In a 2006 article, Vanity Fair’s Nina Munk described the luxe residences of America’s new financial elite. Compared with the 2,405 square feet of the average new American home, the abodes of Greenwich Connecticut hedge-fund managers clock in at 15,000 square feet, about the size of a typical industrial warehouse. Many come with pool houses of over 3,000 square feet.

Gerald Friedman teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author, most recently, of "Reigniting the Labor Movement" (Routledge, 2007).

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Part 3: Profiting From Market Failure: How Today's Capitalists Bring Bad Things to Life

The long-running General Electric slogan sums up what capitalist cheerleaders love to say about markets: "We bring good things to life."
 

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Part 2: How Out-of-Control Credit Markets Threaten Liberty, Democracy, and Economic Security

The awful experience of the Great Depression made clear to many economists and laymen alike that credit is at the heart of a functioning capitalist system. Without access to credit, many businesses die and many individuals and households run out of money and go bankrupt.

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Part 1: Fifty Shades of Capitalism: Pain and Bondage in the American Workplace

The symbol of capitalism was lately a vampire. Enter the CEO with nipple clamps.

Barney Frank drops a bombshell: How a shocking anecdote explains the financial crisis

  • Ever wonder why we waited six years to get a decent economic recovery?
  • This new revelation will disgust you.

David Dayen, Salon

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barney_frank2.jpgBarney Frank (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite) 

Tuesday Mar 31, 2015 | Barney Frank has a new autobiography out. He’s long been one of the nation’s most quotable politicians. And Washington lives in perpetual longing for intra-party conflict.

So why has a critical revelation from Frank’s book, one that implicates the most powerful Democrat in the nation, been entirely expunged from the record? The media has thus far focused on Frank’s wrestling with being a closeted gay congressman, or his comment that Joe Biden “can’t keep his mouth shut or his hands to himself.” But nobody has focused on Frank’s allegation that Barack Obama refused to extract foreclosure relief from the nation’s largest banks, as a condition for their receipt of hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money.

David Dayen is a contributing writer for Salon.

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Richer and Poorer: How much inequality can a democracy stand? Jill LePore, New Yorker

  • Accounting for inequality.
  • People are living — and dying — out in the cold.

 

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Capitalism kills: unemployment cause of 45K suicides per year

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It has been proven that the only thing that “inspires” bosses to treat workers adequately is organized fightback by workers. It has also been proven that the only path to a real system that guarantees employment, education, health care and basic resources for all is by overthrowing capitalism.

I. V. Sta, Liberation 

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noooo.jpgFeb 19, 2015 | It is almost common sense that loss of a job or prolonged unemployment has a negative affect on mental health, leading in some cased to suicide.  But how many deaths by suicide are actually caused by unemployment? According to a new study published in Lancet Psychiatry, unemployment caused approximately 45,000 suicides each year between 2000 and 2011. Through a longitudinal assessment of the World Health Organization’s mortality database and the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook database, it was discovered that these rates remained consistent regardless of economic stability.

The study was conducted in 63 countries in four world regions. One of the goals of the study was to see if there was a difference in the impact of unemployment on suicide rates before and after a recession. Using statistical analysis, the researchers deduced that unemployment was the cause of 41,148 suicides in 2007 and 46,131 in 2009. Therefore, they reasoned that the recession in 2008 caused 4,983 additional suicides.

I. V. Sta: a Justice for Jane organizer, contributor to  Liberation

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Paul Krugman Reveals the Outrageous Con Job Behind the Savage GOP Budget

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  • "The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics."
  • Richer and Poorer: How much inequality can a democracy stand?

Janet Allon, AlterNet

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March 20, 2015 | It can be tough, Paul Krugman allows in Friday's column, to keep up the level of outrage at Republican lawmakers who do not seem to be in any way bound to the rules of honor or honesty in their budget proposal. Like, not at all.

"Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits," Krugman opens, "but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar 'magic asterisk' — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.

Janet Allon is an assistant managing editor and columinst at AlterNet.

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Richer and Poorer: How much inequality can a democracy stand? Jill LePore, New Yorker

  • Accounting for inequality.
  • People are living — and dying — out in the cold.

 

 

Richer and Poorer: How much inequality can a democracy stand?

BlogHed_working.gi

  • Accounting for inequality.
  • People are living — and dying — out in the cold.

Jill LePore, New Yorker

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Will Shapira

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150316_r26240-320.jpgRobert Putnam focusses on the widening gap between rich kids and poor kids. Credit Illustration by Oliver Munday

March 16, 2015 | For about a century, economic inequality has been measured on a scale, from zero to one, known as the Gini index and named after an Italian statistician, Corrado Gini, who devised it in 1912, when he was twenty-eight and the chair of statistics at the University of Cagliari. If all the income in the world were earned by one person and everyone else earned nothing, the world would have a Gini index of one. If everyone in the world earned exactly the same income, the world would have a Gini index of zero. The United States Census Bureau has been using Gini’s measurement to calculate income inequality in America since 1947. Between 1947 and 1968, the U.S. Gini index dropped to .386, the lowest ever recorded. Then it began to climb.

Income inequality is greater in the United States than in any other democracy in the developed world. Between 1975 and 1985, when the Gini index for U.S. households rose from .397 to .419, as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Gini indices of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, and Finland ranged roughly between .200 and .300, according to national data analyzed by Andrea Brandolini and Timothy Smeeding. But historical cross-country comparisons are difficult to make; the data are patchy, and different countries measure differently. The Luxembourg Income Study, begun in 1983, harmonizes data collected from more than forty countries on six continents. According to the L.I.S.’s adjusted data, the United States has regularly had the highest Gini index of any affluent democracy. In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau reported a Gini index of .476.

Jill LePore, a staff writer, has been contributing to the New Yorker since 2005.

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People are living — and dying — out in the cold, Jerry Fleischaker, Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune

  • You may know this on an abstract level, but not tangibly. May our awareness change.
  • In a US first, New Orleans finds homes for all its homeless veterans
  • 100 Years of Homeless Veterans 

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Series | Capitalism Unmasked: Part 3: Profiting From Market Failure: How Today's Capitalists Bring Bad Things to Life

AlterNet Editor's Note: When harmful beliefs plague a population, you can bet that the 1% is benefiting. This article is part of a new AlterNet series, "Capitalism Unmasked," edited by Lynn Parramore and produced in partnership with author Douglas Smith and Econ4 to expose the myths and lies of unbridled capitalism and show the way to a better future.

Douglas K. Smith, AlterNet

images_1341759918_dangersign.jpgJuly 9, 2012 | The long-running General Electric slogan sums up what capitalist cheerleaders love to say about markets: "We bring good things to life."

But is it really true? In reality, some capitalists have figured out how to profit by actually bringing bad things to life.

Today, market forces organize, select and direct the production of goods and services in ways that would amaze and startle our ancestors. Consider the automobile: designed, engineered, provisioned, manufactured, marketed, sold and serviced by webs of hundreds of different organizations across the planet. Amazing. And a tribute to what’s possible through market successes.

Douglas K. Smith is the co-founder of Econ4 and author of "On Value and Values: Thinking Differently About We In An Age Of Me."

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Related: 

Part 2: How Out-of-Control Credit Markets Threaten Liberty, Democracy and Economic Security

The awful experience of the Great Depression made clear to many economists and laymen alike that credit is at the heart of a functioning capitalist system. Without access to credit, many businesses die and many individuals and households run out of money and go bankrupt.

###

Part 1: Fifty Shades of Capitalism: Pain and Bondage in the American Workplace

The symbol of capitalism was lately a vampire. Enter the CEO with nipple clamps.

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