All posts by Shawgi Tell

No Substantive Economic Recovery In Sight

One of the fundamental economic laws under capitalism is for wealth to become more concentrated in fewer hands over time, which in turn leads to more political power in fewer hands, which means that the majority have even less political and economic power over time. Monopoly in economics means monopoly in politics. It is the opposite of an inclusive, democratic, modern, healthy society. This retrogressive feature intrinsic to capitalism has been over-documented in thousands of reports and articles from hundreds of sources across the political and ideological spectrum over the last few decades. It is well-known, for example, that a handful of people own most of the wealth in the U.S. and most members of Congress are millionaires. This leaves out more than 95% of people. Not surprisingly, “policy makers” have consistently failed to reverse these antisocial trends inherent to an obsolete system.

At the same time, with no sense of irony and with no fidelity to science, news headlines from around the world continue to scream that the economy in many countries and regions is doing great and that more economic recovery and growth depend almost entirely, if not entirely, on vaccinating everyone (multiple times). In other words, once everyone is vaccinated, we will see really good economic times, everything will be amazing, and we won’t have too much to worry about. Extremely irrational and irresponsible statements and claims of all kinds continue to be made in the most dogmatic and frenzied way by the mainstream press at home and abroad in a desperate attempt to divert attention from the deep economic crisis continually unfolding nationally and internationally. Dozens of countries are experiencing profound economic problems.

While billions of vaccination shots have already been administered worldwide, and millions more are administered every day (with and without people’s consent), humanity continues to confront many major intractable economic problems caused by the internal dynamics of an outdated economic system.

A snapshot:

  1. More rapid and intense inflation everywhere
  2. Major supply chain disruptions and distortions everywhere
  3. Shortages of many products
  4. “Shortages” of workers in many sectors worldwide
  5. Shortened and inconsistent hours of operation at thousands of businesses
  6. Falling value of the U.S. dollar and other fiat currencies
  7. Growing stagflation
  8. Millions of businesses permanently disappeared
  9. More income and wealth inequality
  10. High dismal levels of unemployment, under-employment, and worker burnout
  11. Growing health insurance costs
  12. Unending fear, anxiety, and hysteria around endless covid strains
  13. More scattered panic buying
  14. The stock market climbing while the real economy declines (highly inflated asset valuations in the stock market)
  15. Spectacular economic failures like Lehman Brothers (in the U.S. 13 years ago) and Evergrande (in China in 2021)
  16. All kinds of debt increasing at all levels
  17. Central banks around the world printing trillions in fiat currencies non-stop and still lots of bad economic news
  18. And a whole host of other harsh economic realities often invisible to the eye and rarely reported on that tell a much more tragic story of an economy that cannot provide for the needs of the people

The list goes on and on. More nauseating data appears every day. Economic hardship, which takes on many tangible and intangible forms, is wreaking havoc on the majority at home and abroad. There is no real and substantive economic improvement. It is hard to see a bright, stable, prosperous, peaceful future for millions under such conditions, which is why many, if not most, people do not have a good feeling about what lies ahead and have little faith in the rich, their politicians, and “representative democracy.” It is no surprise that President Joe Biden’s approval rating is low and keeps falling.

What will the rich and their political and media representatives say and do when most people are vaccinated, everyone else has natural immunity, and the economy is still failing? What will the rich do when economic failure cannot be blamed on bacteria or viruses? To be sure, the legitimacy crisis will further deepen and outmoded liberal institutions of governance will become even more obsolete and more incapable of sorting out today’s serious problems. “Representative democracy” will become more discredited and more illusions about the “social contract” will be shattered. In this context, talk of “New Deals” for this and “New Deals” for that won’t solve anything in a meaningful way either because these “New Deals” are nothing more than an expansion of state-organized corruption to pay the rich, mainly through “public-private-partnerships.” This is already being spun in a way that will fool the gullible. Many are actively ignoring how such high-sounding “reforms” are actually pay-the-rich schemes that increase inequality and exacerbate a whole host of other problems.

It is not in the interest of the rich to see different covid strains and scares disappear because these strains and scares provide a convenient cover and scapegoat for economic problems rooted in the profound contradictions of an outmoded economic system over-ripe for a new direction, aim, and control. It is easier to claim that the economy is intractably lousy because of covid and covid-related restrictions than to admit that the economy is continually failing due to the intrinsic built-in nature, operation, and logic of capital itself.

There is no way forward while economic and political power remain dominated by the rich. The only way out of the economic crisis is by vesting power in workers, the people who actually produce the wealth that society depends on. The rich and their outmoded system are a drag on everyone and are not needed in any way; they are a major obstacle to the progress of society; they add no value to anything and are unable and unwilling to lead the society out of its deepening all-sided crisis.

There is an alternative to current obsolete arrangements and only the people themselves, armed with a new independent outlook, politics, and thinking can usher it in. Economic problems, health problems, and 50 other lingering problems are not going to be solved so long as the polity remains marginalized and disempowered by the rich and their capital-centered arrangements and institutions. New and fresh thinking and consciousness are needed at this time. A new and more powerful human-centered outlook is needed to guide humanity forward.

Human consciousness and resiliency are being severely tested at this time, and the results have been harsh and tragic in many ways for so many. We are experiencing a major test of the ability of the human species to bring into being what is missing, that is, to overcome the neoliberal destruction of time, space, and the fabric of society so as to unleash the power of human productive forces to usher in a much more advanced society where time-space relations accelerate in favor of the entire polity. There is an alternative to the anachronistic status quo.

The post No Substantive Economic Recovery In Sight first appeared on Dissident Voice.

5,000 Charter Schools Closed in 30 Years

Privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools have been around for 30 years 1 and are legal in 45 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. To date, five states have been able to fend off these segregated outsourced schools that siphon billions of public dollars a year from under-funded public schools.

About 3.3 million students are currently enrolled in approximately 7,400 charter schools across the country, which make up less than eight percent of all schools in the country. 2  At 1,300, California is the state with the most privately-operated charter schools.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 3,100 charter schools run by unelected individuals closed between 2000–01 through 2017–18. That is a very high number of closures, especially in an 18-year time span. On average, that is about 172 privately-operated charter school closures per year.

It is not clear why, but the data chart from the federal government does not include the number of privately-operated charter schools that closed between 2018-19 through 2020-21. It also excludes the number of privately-operated charter schools that closed between 1991-92 through 1995–96, as well as the number of privately-operated charter schools that closed between 2001–02 through 2003–04. The U.S. Department of Education provides data for only 18 of the 30 years that privately-operated charter schools have existed. About 11 years of data is left out. The three main reasons why privately-operated charter schools close are: financial malfeasance, mismanagement, and poor academic performance. Corruption, fraud, racketeering, and embezzlement are rampant in the charter school sector from coast to coast. News of arrests of charter school employees appears in the news nearly every week.

Assuming, conservatively speaking, that about 172 charter schools close every year on average, when 172 is multiplied by the 11 years outside the 2000-01 through 2017-18 time frame provided by the U.S. Department of Education, we get an additional 1,892 charter schools closed. This brings the grand total of closed charter schools to about 4,992 charter schools over a 30-year period. This is a reasonable estimate. No matter how you slice it, though, that is a lot of failed and closed charter schools—and in a short period of time. Does this sound like success? Should such a phenomenon continue to be endorsed, expanded, and celebrated? Great instability has haunted the segregated and deregulated charter school sector for three decades and upended the lives of thousands of poor and low-income black and brown families. If the last 30 years is any guide, hundreds more charter schools will fail and close in the coming years, leaving even more families out in the cold and more public schools without much-needed public dollars.

 Supplementary Note

It is helpful to recall that, besides widespread corruption, nepotism, and failure in the deregulated charter school sector, privately-operated charter schools, on average, have fewer nurses and more inexperienced teachers than public schools, and they usually pay both less than their public school counterparts. Several states do not even require charter school teachers to be certified and many charter school teachers have no employer-provided retirement plan. Moreover, non-profit and for-profit charter schools frequently engage in discriminatory enrollment practices and typically oppose any efforts by teachers to unionize. Charter schools also tend to offer fewer programs, resources, and services than public schools. And while the academic performance of many brick-and-mortar charter schools is unimpressive, the academic track record for cyber charter schools remains abysmal. In addition, all charter schools are run by unelected individuals and many spend millions of dollars on advertising (just like a private business). Last but not least, accountability, oversight, and transparency remain stubborn problems in the segregated charter school sector.

  1. Minnesota established the nation’s first charter school law in 1991 and opened the nation’s first charter school in 1992.
  2. It is worth noting that student wait lists at charter schools are frequently inflated and unreliable. In fact, many seats regularly go empty at many charter schools.
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More Mandated Vaccinations Will Not Solve Economic Failure One Iota: May Even Make Things Worse

On September 9, 2021, President Joe Biden publicly issued sweeping statements and demands that make it clear that, whether they like or it, millions more people will have to get vaccinated or risk losing their livelihoods and security. His posture has been described by mainstream media as “aggressive.” Many alternative news and information sources describe Biden’s actions as righteous, arrogant, authoritarian, and incoherent. 1 Biden asserted that choice and freedoms are not the issue. He dismissed both in one breath. One’s right to consent to something was banished in three seconds. Many have also asserted that Biden does not have the legal authority to make and enforce such top-down mandates. Others claim that his White House speech on vaccinations is full of contradictions and disinformation.

Like Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and many other capital-centered ideologues and “leaders,” Biden keeps disinforming the polity with the worn-out dogma that economic recovery is largely dependent on getting everyone vaccinated. We are to believe that the broad and stubborn economic failure confronting everyone today is largely caused by the virus and that once the virus is “under control” through vaccines rush-produced by for-profit companies with a long record of malpractice, the economy will soar and flourish. A variety of mainstream news sources have been desperately reinforcing this disinformation for more than a year; they have no interest in economic science.

However, despite an enormous number of vaccinations issued worldwide, despite a large portion of humanity “taking the jab” already, the economy keeps declining and decaying; many serious economic distortions, problems, and uncertainties persist. Inflation, debt, inequality, homelessness, poverty, under-employment, and environmental destruction, for example, appear to be growing. More than one million people per month are still filing unemployment claims in the U.S. alone and job “creation” numbers are superficial and unimpressive. In addition, the U.S. labor force participation rate remains historically low and the number of long-term unemployed remains high. On top of all this, millions of employed workers are living pay-check to pay-check, which means that even full-time employment is no guarantee of security and prosperity. Various surveys also show that large majorities are not hopeful about the future and health of the economy.

It is no surprise that euphoric economic growth forecasts made just weeks or months ago by “leaders” and “experts” are already being revised downward—in some cases significantly. The ruling elite is always embracing magical thinking; they are not on good terms with reality.

It is also being said that large numbers of people will end up leaving their jobs—voluntarily or by being fired—rather than compromise their right to conscience and get vaccinated. This could mean even fewer workers taking available jobs and even more retailers, businesses, and services operating in dysfunctional, disruptive, and unreliable ways without employees. Thus, for example, many nurses, teachers, police officers, and other workers are choosing the right to conscience and unemployment over mandated vaccination. Thousands of businesses are already struggling to fill low-paying positions in the context of constantly-rising inflation and an uncertain future. The American Hospital Association said that Biden’s vaccination plan “may result in exacerbating the severe work force shortage problems that currently exist”. Not surprisingly, some organizations have already started to oppose Biden’s vaccination plan.

The economic depression confronting humanity at home and abroad will not be overcome by leaving major owners of capital in power while workers, the people who actually produce the wealth that society depends on, remain marginalized and disempowered. Economic collapse will not be reversed by funneling more socially-produced wealth to different monopolies and oligopolies, while leaving everyone else with less. Fostering policies, agendas, and arrangements that make the rich even richer is a recipe for deeper problems, not a promising path forward. To date, billions of vaccination shots at home and abroad have not stopped or slowed a range of serious economic problems.

Since the start of the never-ending “COVID Pandemic” more wealth has become concentrated in even fewer hands and more people have experienced more psychological, social, and economic problems. Inequality has soared over the past 18 months.

The current economic crisis started long before 2020 and is rooted in the same contradictions that produced big economic problems before 2020. Even if there were no covid virus mutations, the economy would still be declining because economic upheavals are endemic to the capitalist economic system. Depressions and recessions are not caused by external factors. To claim that the economic system is generally sound but runs into problems now and then because of exogenous forces is nothing more than a way to apologize for the outmoded economic system.

Without major changes, without vesting power in workers themselves, economic crises will keep recurring and deepening. The rich and their representatives have shown time and again that they are unable and unwilling to solve economic and health crises, let alone in a human-centered way.

  1. In December 2020 Biden publicly stated that the federal government should not or could not mandate vaccinations.
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Economic Collapse Not Caused By COVID And Won’t Improve With Vaccines

For major owners of capital, the “COVID Pandemic” has been a perfect pretext and scapegoat for an obsolete economy failing due to its own intrinsic logic and dynamics. COVID has been a convenient and timely cover for the ongoing global economic decline that started well before the “COVID Pandemic.” It is much easier to blame the failure of the economic system on extenuating circumstances or external factors like a virus rather than the internal operation of the anachronistic economic system itself. This is especially true given the never-ending series of virus variants that keep appearing. In other words, deep economic problems will persist and worsen in the coming months and years.

It is well-known that the capitalist economic system goes through endless crises, “booms and busts,” recessions, “corrections,” and depressions. Stability, security, harmony, peace, and prosperity for all are absent under such an outmoded system. It is impossible for such an economic system to develop in a balanced way where all sectors operate in a mutually conditioning manner and are not distorted all the time. Advanced commodity production means there is no unity in production and consumption, no conscious organization of the economy for the benefit of society and its members. Modern nation-building is not possible under such conditions.

The notion that capital-centered politicians and policy makers can or will fix things is irrational. No major problems have been solved in decades. Every day there are new reports on how numerous conditions are deteriorating at home and abroad. Unemployment, under-employment, debt, poverty, and inequality are pervasive under capitalism.

All of this is taking place despite that fact that hundreds of millions of people have been vaccinated. Vaccines have simply not “stabilized the economy.” The economy remains uneven and distorted in numerous ways.

The rich and their political and media representatives cannot find a way out of the current crisis. They never overcame the 2008 crisis or the effects of previous crises. Their policies and agendas just keep making things worse. Even if every individual on the planet were vaccinated 11 times, economic and social decay would persist. To date, no amount of fiscal or monetary policy has stabilized the economy and made it work for everyone. Instead, the economy keeps lurching from problem to problem and crisis to crisis while the rich get richer and everyone is left with a sinking feeling about what lies ahead. The big topic right now is runaway inflation. The price of dozens of products and items keeps climbing (e.g., food, gas, housing, cars) while wages and salaries stagnate or fall behind, which means that the majority are simply not getting ahead.

Equally dangerous in this fractured and unstable context are the contradictions that arise from the unwillingness and inability of the rich and their state to solve any problems. Such a situation actually makes things worse for large sections of the rich themselves. In other words, the rich are increasingly operating in ways that are self-sabotaging because they are so short-sighted, greedy, pragmatic, and egocentric. This, in turn, leads to even more wrecking activity and tragedies for more people. Humanity cannot afford such chaos, anarchy, and violence.

To solve the problems plaguing the economy, as well as the health crisis that is upon us with Covid, it is necessary for people themselves to control, decide, and direct all the affairs of society. Power must be wielded by those who actually have an investment in a bright future, the very people who actually produce the wealth needed to run society. This means ending all types of pay-the-rich schemes (e.g., “Public-Private-Partnerships”) and making major investments in social programs instead. The rich and their cheerleaders, especially their political parties, have proven time and again that they are unable and unwilling to solve serious problems, especially in a meaningful and lasting way. They can come up with quick short-term band-aids here and there that provide some with temporary relief but they will not take any action to end the marginalization of people and engender sustainable human-centered arrangements.

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“Green New Deal” Means More PPPs and More Economic and Social Destruction

These days there is no shortage of hype surrounding the “Green New Deal” (GND). The “Green New Deal” has become a major buzz-phrase that has ensnared many along the way.

Like so many top-down schemes, the GND is being promoted by many world leaders in unison. This alone should be worrisome. History shows that this is usually a red flag. Few pro-social things come out of movements that are not real grass-roots movements. These world leaders are the main representatives of the international financial oligarchy—a tiny ruling elite obsessed with maximizing private profit no matter the damage to society and the environment. These are the same forces responsible for tragedies such as high levels of inequality, poverty, unemployment, under-employment, inflation, debt, homelessness, hunger, racism, war, occupation, pollution, de-forestation, anxiety, despair, alienation, depression, and suicide worldwide.

The GND is being presented by the rich and their political and media representatives as something great for society and humanity; everyone is under pressure to “just embrace it.”

The GND uses the “New Deal” language of the 1930s and ostensibly addresses climate change, inequality, energy efficiency, job creation, labor rights, racial injustice, and other social aims. This includes a GND for public schools, healthcare, and housing as well.

The GND is supposed to improve conditions for humanity and help us all “build back better”—a major slogan of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is dominated by millionaires and billionaires. Alongside this disinformation, the WEF is also promoting disinformation about “reinventing capitalism” to fool the gullible. The GND is supposedly rooted in the principles of economic justice, puts the planet ahead of profits, and provides a “blueprint for change.” It is said that Green Projects will cost hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

Europe has its own version of the GND. “Variations of the [“Green New Deal”] proposal have been around for years,” says the New York Times. The so-called Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was introduced more than 20 years ago, for example. In 2007, the imperialist journalist, Thomas Friedman, wrote the following in the New York Times:

If you have put a windmill in your yard or some solar panels on your roof, bless your heart. But we will only green the world when we change the very nature of the electricity grid – moving it away from dirty coal or oil to clean coal and renewables. And that is a huge industrial project – much bigger than anyone has told you. Finally, like the New Deal, if we undertake the green version, it has the potential to create a whole new clean power industry to spur our economy into the 21st century.

Pollution, inequality, and 50 other problems have worsened since this observation was made 14 years ago. The quote rejects economic science and fails to help workers, youth, students, women, and others make sense of the economy in a way that favors their interests.

GND Means More PPPs and Tragedies

“Green New Deal” goals are to be attained through “joint” public sector and private sector “investments.” The disinformation from the rich is that the public can’t achieve the lofty goals of the GND on its own and that “investors” from the so-called “efficient,” “entrepreneurial,” “innovative,” and “smart” private sector are needed to achieve these big goals. It is by working “together” that “we” will supposedly achieve what the GND sets out to do. “New Deals” are purportedly too big for either sector to pull off alone and thus some sort of “partnership” or “alliance” is “needed.”

In reality, private competing owners of capital are unwilling and often unable to pay for major infrastructure projects and want the government to guarantee them big investments and returns using the public purse. PPPs essentially guarantee risk-free profits for various monopolies and further diminish control of the economy by workers and the public. PPPs enable major owners of capital to seize more of the added-value produced by workers through “infrastructure projects” guaranteed by the state at public expense. This further enriches a handful of people, intensifies inequality, and leaves workers and the public with less wealth and less control over the economy.

This is not how “partners” work. This is how an unequal relationship works.

Terms such as “alliance” or “partnership” are designed to fool the gullible and hide the enormous financial gain made by a handful of billionaires through PPPs that purport to advance the goals of the GND. In this, way the door is nonchalantly and pragmatically opened to imposing private alien claims on the wealth produced collectively by workers. The rich are given greater access to public funds and resources that belong to the public, all in the name of “partnership.” We are to believe that without a “Public-Private-Partnership” the GND will not become reality, meaning that the GND is possible only if the ultra-rich pocket more public wealth and resources. This is cynically called a “win-win.”

“Public-Private-Partnerships” promote the illusion that the public sector and the private sector can harmonize their philosophies, interests, aims, operations, activities, and results when in fact PPPs are antisocial, antiworker, and undercut a modern nation-building project.

The public and private sectors cannot be partners; they rest on different foundations, goals, world outlooks, operations, and legal frameworks; they are different categories and phenomena with different properties and characteristics. These differences are not trivial and cannot be reconciled or harmonized. Don’t believe neoliberals and privatizers whey they self-servingly claim that the two distinct spheres can “work together.”

Public and private are antonyms; they mean the opposite of each other; they are not synonymous. Public refers to everyone, non-competition, transparency, the common good, and society as whole (e.g., public parks, beaches, and roads). The public is pro-social and human-centered. It approaches life and relations with a big modern vision. Private refers to exclusivity, for a few, not for everyone, and usually involves rivalry and hierarchy. Private is also often associated with secrecy, not transparency, especially in business. The private sector pertains to relations between private citizens, whereas the public sector has to do with relations between individuals and the state. This distinction is critical. These spheres represent two profoundly different domains. The rights belonging to each sector are different.

Blurring the critical distinction between public and private should be avoided at all costs. It is irresponsible and self-serving to treat the public and private as being synonymous and easy to harmonize without big disadvantages for the public. The public does not benefit from blurring this distinction. The public suffers when the dissimilarity between public and private is obscured and not grasped in its depth.

PPPs conceal harsh irreconcilable class differences and interests in society. They reinforce a “no-class” outlook of society and, in doing so, distort reality at the ideological level, leaving many disoriented, unclear, and confused about their interests, which makes them vulnerable to disinformation from the rich and their media. In the world of PPPs, everyone is merely a “stakeholder.” There are no workers or owners of capital. There are no antagonistic irreconcilable social class interests. There are no classes and class struggle. There are no millionaires and billionaires on one side and workers on the other side who produce all the wealth of society.

Not surprisingly, PPPs form a big part of the antisocial “Great Reset” agenda of the world’s billionaires, which has been publicly articulated by the main leaders of the World Economic Forum such as Klaus Schwab. Many prime ministers, presidents, and prominent state leaders around the world continue to parrot the same tired slogans of the “Great Reset” agenda.

In practice, PPPs use the neoliberal state to funnel more public funds than ever to the private sector under the banner of “partnerships” and “making the world better for everyone.”

This funneling of more public funds to narrow private interests will not only solve no problems, it will intensify many problems that are already serious. The existing all-sided crisis will keep deepening under such a set-up.

As a main form of privatization, the “Green New Deal” will significantly intensify inequality, increase costs for everyone, reduce efficiency and quality, lessen accountability and transparency, increase corruption, and diminish the voice and wealth of workers and the public. It will not enhance democracy or improve the environment in any way because it will further concentrate greater economic and political power in even fewer hands, if that is even possible at this point in history. Funneling more public funds, assets, and authority to competing private interests in a highly monopolized economy is a disaster for the social and natural environment. It is the claims of workers, the public, and society that must be expanded and affirmed, not the narrow claims of competing owners of capital obsessed with maximizing their own profits at the expense of everyone and everything else.

The “Green New Deal” will not challenge the entrenched class privilege of the rich. It will not increase the power of workers or give them greater control of the wealth they produce. It will not make the economy more pro-social, balanced, diverse, and self-reliant. Pollution and de-forestation will still persist under the GND. Experience has repeatedly borne out that capital-centered environmental plans and activities ensure that things keep going from bad to worse.

A 2016 United Nations report highlights many ways that PPPs undermine the public interest and produce more problems. Global Policy Forum states that:

PPPs are used to conceal public borrowing, while providing long-term state guarantees for profits to private companies. Private sector corporations must maximize profits if they are to survive. This is fundamentally incompatible with protecting the environment and ensuring universal access to quality public services.

Public and private simply do not go together. The organization In The Public Interest offers many reports, articles, and documents that expose how PPPs harm the public interest and benefit major owners of capital at the public expense. Numerous other organizations around the world have also described and explained how PPPs make things worse for the public while enriching a handful of people.

In the context of a continually failing economy, competing owners of capital have no choice but to cloak their egocentric drive to maximize private profit by seizing public funds from the state as a “win-win” for everyone, as something great for the natural and social environment. The neoliberal state is increasingly being used to divert public funds and assets to major owners of capital as they compete with each other for domination of the economy in an increasingly unstable and dangerous environment. The old ways of profit-taking are no longer as lucrative as before, so the rich have to use PPPs to seize public funds for private financial gain under the banner of “working together” to “build back better.”

As always, the rich will not brook any opposition to their narrow private interests. They will not support anything that places a greater portion of the social wealth in the hands of those who actually produce the wealth of society: workers. They will continue to act like they have a natural right to the wealth produced collectively by workers.

Major owners of capital have no human-centered interest in improving the environment or social conditions. They pragmatically strive for what will best serve their narrow private interests and class privilege without any consideration for the well-being of all sectors of the economy as a whole. Modern nation-building cannot take place in such a context. The human-centered resolution of social, economic, and environmental problems requires confronting powerful private interests and their outdated economic system if humanity is to have a bright future.

To fix the economy and to reverse social and environmental problems requires a public authority worthy of the name. There is no reason why a real public authority cannot use the wealth and resources produced by workers to improve the social and natural environment for the nation. Planned public investment for the public and for modern nation-building is not possible under the direction and influence of competing owners of capital obsessed with maximizing private profit. Such forces are only looking out for their narrow interests, not the needs of a balanced self-reliant crisis-free economy that consistently and responsibly raises the material and cultural well-being of all.

There is no need to involve powerful private interests in social programs, social investments, or green projects. The rich are not only the cause of many problems the GND ostensibly seeks to remedy, they also have no valid and legitimate claim to any public funds, resources, and assets. The rich mainly seize and control the wealth produced by workers; they themselves do not produce the wealth of society.

The rich are a historically superfluous and exhausted force blocking social progress. Without the rich, their entourage, and their outdated political and economic system, the social product could be wielded by people themselves for the benefit of the natural and social environment. The impact of this shift and change on time and space would be monumental.

The post “Green New Deal” Means More PPPs and More Economic and Social Destruction first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Discriminatory Enrollment Practices Are Pervasive In Charter Schools

Even though they receive enormous sums of public money and are ostensibly “public” schools “open to all,” charter schools have a long track record of discriminatory enrollment practices. Selective enrollment practices are widespread in non-profit and for-profit charter schools. Few charter schools have a truly diverse student body.

In recent years more research has shown how charter schools intensify segregation (see here, here, and here.)

While public schools accept all students at all times, charter school owners and operators use many covert and overt strategies to cherry-pick students  A main reason for such cherry-picking is to enroll mostly those students who will perform well on educationally unsound high-stakes standardized tests produced by large for-profit corporations. Charter school owners and operators are incentivized to do this in order to keep their contract (charter). Poor academic performance is one of the main reasons a charter school’s contract can be revoked. Thus, it is not unusual to frequently see non-profit and for-profit charter schools, all of which are run by unelected individuals, enroll disproportionately fewer English Language Learners, students with special needs, and homeless students. They also tend to avoid or “push out” students with “behavior problems.”

New Mexico recently made the news when the Santa Fe New Mexican reported on August 21, 2021 that “some” charter schools in that state may be using school admission policies that may be discriminatory. Specifically, some charter schools in the state “are violating state rules by requesting information about prospective students’ special-education needs.” The news report was based on an investigation conducted by a private law firm called Pegasus Legal Services. The newspaper goes on to say that:

Research has shown students who require special-education services often are discouraged from enrolling in charter schools. In 2018, Columbia University conducted a study on the issue. Researchers posing as parents sent out more than 6,000 emails to schools in 29 states, including New Mexico. They found schools were significantly less likely to respond to emails signaling the student had a disability.

It is well-known that charter schools not only under-enroll students with special needs, but when they do enroll students with special needs it is usually special needs students with mild disabilities, not severe disabilities. And even in this context, charter schools often play various shell games and student re-classification games to dodge various requirements. All of this has to do with avoiding high-need/high-cost students because both non-profit and for-profit charter schools operate as exchange-values, not use-values. In other words, charter schools avoid high-need/high-cost students because they are driven mainly by financial gain. By contrast, this is not how the nation’s 100,000 public schools operate.

Some charter school operators in New Mexico feigned ignorance when the Santa Fe New Mexican news report was published and pledged to “fix things.” Other charter school operators arrogantly and defiantly turned the issue around and made it sound like “being rigorous” is why they do not enroll many students with special needs. For their part, various state officials made it sound like they are perturbed by selective enrollment practices and created the impression that they would investigate such “disturbing” practices, which is unlikely to happen. Either way, long-standing discriminatory enrollment practices in schools that are funded by public dollars and said to be “public” and “open to all” violate a basic sense of justice and principles when they are not truly equitable and open to all. The charter school sector has been dogged by many other antisocial trends for 30 years.

The problem of the lack of diversity in privately-operated charter schools once again raises the issue of why there is such poor oversight and accountability in the crisis-prone charter school sector. Charter schools appear to be immune to pro-social reforms and are stubbornly neoliberal in their orientation and operations.

New Mexico passed its charter school law in 1993. Currently, there are nearly 100 charter schools in the state. Charter school laws exist in 45 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. At 1,300, California has the most charter schools in the nation. Texas, Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Washington DC, and New Orleans are also heavily saturated with charter schools run by unelected officials. Currently, about 3.4 million students are enrolled in roughly 7,400 deregulated charter schools across the country. Most of these students are poor or low-income minority urban youth. It is also worth noting that more than 3,000 charter schools have closed over the past 30 years, usually for three main reasons: financial malfeasance, mismanagement, or poor academic performance.

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Idaho’s Segregated Charter Schools

The crisis-prone charter school sector has been highly segregated for three decades. No amount of charter school disinformation has been able to conceal this harsh reality.

Non-profit and for-profit charter schools are notorious for selective enrollment practices even though they are said to be “public” schools “open to all.” Many have been investigated for discriminatory enrollment practices. Indeed, numerous charter schools oppose efforts to diversify their student body. This cherry-picking of students is also how numerous charter schools secure students that score well on educationally unsound tests produced by large corporations. Such a set-up allows privately-operated charter schools to claim they are “high-performing” while simultaneously demonizing and scapegoating public schools.

On August 5, 2021, Idaho Ed News reported that Idaho’s charter schools “underserve the state’s minority and poor populations.” As in other states with charter schools, Idaho’s charter schools also underserve English Language Learners and students with special needs.

Idaho’s charter schools also come up short in other critical areas. For example, “At least 12 charters haven’t provided federal free- and reduced-price meals in recent years. Others have opted out of busing services, making it harder for kids who can’t get to school on their own to enroll.” The refusal to provide transportation to a school that is supposedly “public” and “open to all” is common in many charter schools across the country.

It is also worth noting that “Idaho charters also consistently rank among the state’s lowest performing schools”

About 23,000 students are currently enrolled in 62 charter schools in Idaho.  These privately-operated schools run by unelected individuals deprive public schools of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The state does not cap the number of charters that operate within its borders. Idaho established its charter school law in 1996.

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Charter School Promoters Loathe Public Authority and Intensify Lawlessness, Threats, and Bully Tactics

In recent years, and especially in the past 2-3 years, more public school boards across the country have taken resolute action to reject more charter school applications and not renew the contracts of existing privately-operated charter schools. These democratic decisions are usually taken for valid reasons such as:

  • the charter school application is poorly-written
  • the planning of the charter school is not well-thought-out
  • the charter school provides a redundant service
  • the charter school is beset by chronically poor academic performance
  • the charter school engages in financial malfeasance or mismanagement

Research and experience also show that charter schools intensify segregation, close frequently, are governed by unelected individuals, have high teacher and student turnover rates, employ fewer nurses than public schools, often fail to provide transportation, pay teachers less than their public school peers, treat teachers as “at-will” employees, hire more inexperienced teachers than public schools, operate non-transparently, oppose unions, and deprive public schools of large sums of public money that belong to public schools, causing great harm to these public schools and their mostly minority students. In addition, many charter schools spend lots of money on advertising (just like a private business), frequently over-pay administrators, often have inflated student wait lists, and are constantly mired in corruption, scandal, and controversy. Charter school promoters also believe individualism, consumerism, competition, and the “free market” are advanced humane ways to organize education; they view education as a commodity, not a modern social responsibility. Although recurring economic crises discredited “free market” ideology long ago, charter school promoters believe the chaos, anarchy, and violence of the “free market” will improve schools and society.

But since the profits seized by the owners of capital behind charter schools are so huge, charter school promoters have decided that they will bully their way to charter school expansion; they will brook no opposition; they will have their way no matter how damaging it is to the public interest, society, and the economy.

Thus, recently in various cities charter school promoters have turned to the courts, legislatures, governors, “commissions,” “review boards,” and other means to say to public school boards: “we don’t care how much you oppose and reject charter schools or how valid your reasons are, we are going to get our way no matter what. We will impose our will on you and multiply charter schools whether you like it or not. And there is nothing you can do about it. We will override any decisions we don’t like and operate with impunity.” The entities mentioned above all tend to have a neoliberal orientation and outlook that favors school privatization; they frequently operate in ways that violate the public interest. The point is that charter school promoters are in no mood to respect decisions made by entities comprised of publicly elected individuals, especially when these forms of elected governance are at the local level. Charter school promoters are, in other words, increasingly going over the heads of public school boards and getting their way.

While charter school promoters have always used economic, political, and cultural capital to enforce their privatization agenda, there is an escalation in the threats and bully tactics they are using to impose their dictate, mainly because public opposition to charter schools keeps growing. In this way, public authority is being rapidly abolished and replaced with rule by decree. Democracy is being further eroded. A situation is being created where it is not even possible to oppose privately-operated segregated charter schools that harm education and the economy. Even if a public school board decides with good reason to reject a charter school application or revoke a charter school’s contract, the public school board can be forced by the rich and their representatives to promptly reverse its democratic decision, as happened recently in Hillsborough, Florida. In other cases, when a public school board rejects a charter school application for compelling reasons, the law is set-up in some states so that the charter school applicant can appeal the decision to an entity that is comprised of unelected individuals and not accountable to the public. Such entities usually approve the charter school application, thereby overriding the democratic will of the public school board.

In these and other ways, charter school promoters are lowering the level of education, corroding democracy, and becoming more belligerent and tyrannical. And it is all being done with impunity. Anything pro-social, democratic, and public is anathema to charter school promoters—the same people who claim to embrace “freedom,” “choice,” “civil rights,” and “progress.”

Defenders of public education and the public interest must continue to describe, expose, and analyze endless problems in the crisis-prone charter school sector and disseminate this information broadly. They can and must organize various actions, including discussions, teach-ins, petitions, resolutions, social media campaigns, and much more to turn the tide against school privatization and its devastating effects on education, the economy, society, and the national interest. The public will can triumph over the will of the rich and their political representatives. The wealthy elite are not invincible or interested in opening the path of progress to society.

Public education in a modern society based on mass industrial production can only move forward in a pro-social way when it is free of the influence of private interests. Placing a modern social responsibility in the hands of competing owners of capital preoccupied with cashing in on kids, is a recipe for not only damaging education but also undermining the healthy balanced development of a modern economy and society; it is a form of nation-wrecking that people are under no obligation to tolerate.

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Charter School Promoters Defend Antisocial Culture of Maximum Profit

About 3.3 million students are currently enrolled in roughly 7,400 privately-operated charter schools across 45 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Five states remain opposed to these outsourced schools that appeared in the U.S. 30 years ago.

Today, thousands of segregated charter schools run by unelected individuals are either openly operated as for-profit schools or managed, directed, or overseen by one or more for-profit entities and businesses. In Michigan and Florida, for example, charter schools openly run for profit are the majority of charter schools in the state.

Major owners of capital have been behind charter schools for three decades and the original architects of charter schools approached charter schools from a capital-centered perspective. Charter schools have always been a textbook top-down neoliberal project from the very beginning; they have never been a grass-roots phenomenon.

But even so-called non-profit charter schools engage in many for-profit activities as well. In practice, the distinction between non-profit and for-profit is a distinction without a difference; non-profits can and do make profits and they can and do often distribute profits in questionable and unethical ways. Some believe that the classification “non-profit” may actually be more nefarious than the “for-profit” classification. On the one hand, “non-profit” sounds more benign and less crass than “for-profit,” and on the other hand it conceals the many connections non-profit corporations have with various private interests preoccupied with maximizing profit. This is also where the idea that privately-operated charter schools are fundamentally pay-the-rich schemes comes from.

In this connection, since 1994 the Federal Government has funneled millions of public dollars to privately-operated segregated charter schools every year through the bi-partisan Federal Charter Schools Program (CSP)—all while thousands of public schools across the country have gone under-funded. Even though charter schools have no legitimate claim to public funds, over the course of 25 years more than $5 billion has been funneled away from public schools and into charter schools through this federal program. Like many other federal programs, the public is generally unaware of this program and has never had any meaningful say in its creation, operation, and development.

In FY 2020, the CSP received an annual appropriation of $440 million for the second consecutive year, the highest-ever funding level in the program’s long history.

But with growing backlash against charter schools and more demands for funding cuts to the CSP, the House Appropriations Committee in Congress is taking note and proposing at least some small superficial changes. Thus, recently, in the course of preparing budget resolutions for the coming fiscal year the U.S. House of Representatives proposed a small cut of $40 million for the next fiscal cycle, reducing CSP funding from $440 million a year to $400 million a year. In the scheme of things this is a miniscule amount.

Upon hearing about the proposed small funding cut charter school promoters (e.g., the billionaire-backed National Alliance for Public Charter Schools) wasted no time expressing their pious outrage, cynically calling the cut “particularly egregious.”

Much of this public money goes to fund for-profit charter schools and the U.S. House of Representatives wants to restrict the flow of public funds to for-profit charter schools, especially after the publication of numerous reports over the past 2-3 years exposing extensive fraud, waste, and corruption in the program and the crisis-prone charter school sector itself. Some of these reports are available through the Network for Public Education. The National Education Policy Center has also exposed endless problems in the troubled charter school sector. The point of the budget bill is to prohibit any funds going to “a charter school that contracts with a for-profit entity to operate, oversee or manage the activities of the school.” Currently, thousands of unaccountable and segregated charter schools governed by unelected officials are run, managed, or overseen by low-quality, for-profit companies rife with conflicts of interests. Many believe it is immoral to make profits off kids and human social responsibilities like education.

Charter school promoters are cynically claiming that Congress somehow hates kids because they do not want public money to enrich owners of capital. Charter school promoters want the public to believe that a minuscule cut of $40 million that they have no legitimate claim to in the first place is going to cause the sky to fall and cause grave damage to the profits of capitalist firms that manage charter schools. They have even claimed that such a small cut will end the ability of privately-operated charter schools to engage in any kind of contracting with outside entities and therefore public schools should also be prevented from contracting with any outside contractors. This is false. The House bill does not say anything like that.

It should also be recalled that charter schools are already awash in tens of billions of dollars a year that they have siphoned from public schools attended by millions of minority students. Charter schools also receive millions of dollars every year from venture philanthropists and, because they are private entities, charter schools were, unlike public schools, able to seize billions of public dollars from PPP funds from the CARES Act. Charter school promoters are always trying to pressure the public to believe that they are financially beleaguered and always victims while trying to be saviors.

While it is unlikely that Congress will represent the public will and eventually cut a miniscule $40 million from the CSP program, charter school promoters are terrified that the door is opening more widely to the idea of rejecting charter schools and the idea that charter schools have no valid claim to public funds.

Charter school promoters believe they are winning the ideological war raging around charter schools and school privatization. But the facts show every day that privatization exacerbates many problems and solves nothing in terms of the public interest. Privatization in every sector harms democracy, quality, and accountability. Privatization enriches a handful of people while taking money out of the economy and increasing costs, inefficiency, and corruption.

The coming months and years will grow more difficult for charter school promoters and the troubled charter school sector. The war is far from over. Things will become more heated. Opposition to charter schools is growing in a steady methodical way, gaining momentum in an organic and substantive way that leaves people with a real conviction in the necessity to oppose charter schools and defend public education and the public interest. This battle is only going to intensify. Through many twists and turns, the old is slowly dying and decaying while the fresh and new is gradually arising. It is no longer a matter of if the public will eventually prevail, but when the public will prevail against major owners of capital.

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President Biden’s Farcical Antimonopoly Executive Order

Let me be clear: capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation—tweet from President Joe Biden, July 9, 2021

Capitalism is exploitation, period. Lol—a twitter response to Biden’s tweet, July 9, 2021

Not a day goes by in which major owners of capital and their political representatives do not promote illusions and disinformation about the obsolete capitalist economic system. The ruling elite and their entourage rejected economic science and embraced irrationalism, incoherence, and dogmatism more than a century ago. They are unable and unwilling to offer any useful analysis of economic realities. Nothing they put forward helps advance public understanding of the economy. The mainstream news, for example, is saturated with endless mind-numbing nonsensical economic headlines. It is no accident that mainstream economics has long been called the dismal science.

The internal core logic and intrinsic operation of capital ensures greater poverty, inequality, and monopoly over time. This is the inherent nature of capital. It is how capital moves and develops. These catastrophes are not the result of external forces, extenuating circumstances, or “bad people” making “bad decisions.” They are not the outcome of ill-conceived policies made by self-serving, immoral, or uninformed people. These worsening problems did not arise because something is wrong with the intentions of some individuals who make antisocial decisions. Such notions are facile.

While individuals have consciousness, autonomy, self-determination, and agency, many phenomena (e.g., laws of economic development) operate objectively outside the will of individuals; they do not depend on the will of individuals. The laws of motion governing economic phenomena can be known, controlled, and directed, but not extinguished; they have to be consciously mastered, harnessed, and directed in a way that meets the needs of all.

Capital is first and foremost an unequal social relationship, not a person or a thing. This unequal social relationship is relentlessly reproduced in today’s society, preventing the healthy balanced extended reproduction of society. On the one side of this unequal social relationship are the majority who own nothing but their labor power and on the other side are a tiny handful who own the means of production and live off the labor of others.

Major owners of capital are the personification of capital, the embodiment of capital. This critical theoretical insight helps us avoid the rabbit hole of personal intentions and personal will, and allows us instead to objectively locate greed, insecurity, inequality, poverty, unemployment, endless debt, and other tragedies in the intrinsic built-in nature, logic, and movement of capital itself.

One of these is the inexorable tendency of competition to lead to monopoly under capitalism. Competition means winners and losers. By definition, not everyone can win when competing. Competition means rivalry for supremacy. Thousands compete in the Olympics, for example, but only a select few (“winners”) go home with a gold medal.1 It is no accident that the economy, media, and politics are heavily monopolized by a handful of billionaires while billions of people who actually produce the wealth in society and run society remain marginalized and disempowered.

This brutal reality cannot be reversed or overcome with the utterance of a few platitudes, the passage of some policies, or the creation of some agencies that claim to be able to fix the outdated economic system, especially when all of the above come from billionaires themselves.

On July 9, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.

The order is about 7,000 words long and full of anticonscious statements. Disinformation pervades the entire order.

The opening paragraph begins with the following disinformation:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to promote the interests of American workers, businesses, and consumers, it is hereby ordered….

Here, “American workers, businesses, and consumers” are casually misequated and no mention is made of citizens or humans. The implication is that consumerism is normal, healthy, and desirable, and that workers and big business somehow have the same aims, world outlook, and interests. This conceals the fact that owners of capital and workers have antagonistic irreconcilable interests and that people exist as humans and citizens, not just utilitarian consumers and shoppers in a taken-for-granted system based on chaos, anarchy, and violence.

Disinformation is further escalated in the next paragraph:

A fair, open, and competitive marketplace has long been a cornerstone of the American economy, while excessive market concentration threatens basic economic liberties, democratic accountability, and the welfare of workers, farmers, small businesses, startups, and consumers.

“Market concentration” has been the norm for generations. Monopolies, cartels, and oligopolies have been around since the late 1800s. Mergers and acquisitions have been taking place non-stop for decades. The so-called “free market” largely disappeared long ago. Objectively, there can be no fairness in a system rooted in wage-slavery and empire-building. Wage-slavery is the precondition for the tendency of the rich to get richer and the poor poorer. It is not a recipe for prosperity and security for all. This is also why inequality, tyranny, violence, and surveillance have been growing over the years. Moreover, what “threatens basic economic liberties, democratic accountability, and the welfare of workers, farmers, small businesses, startups, and consumers” is the ongoing political and economic exclusion of people from control over the economy and their lives by the financial oligarchy. There can be no liberty, accountability, and welfare when most people are deprived of real decision-making power and major owners of capital make all the decisions. Problems would not constantly worsen if people had control over their lives. The “best allocation of resources” cannot be made when the economy is carved up, fractured, and controlled by competing owners of capital.

Although recurring economic crises for well over a century have repeatedly discredited “free market” ideology, the 7,000-word executive order is saturated with the language of “choice,” “competition,” and “consumers.” This is the same worn-out language used by privatizers of all hues at home and abroad.

Further, while the executive order gives many examples of “economic consolidation” in numerous sectors, the government is not interested in creating a self-reliant vibrant diverse economy that meets the needs of all. It is not committed to reversing “the harmful effects of monopoly and monopsony.” Numerous antitrust laws have not stopped either. Big mergers and acquisitions have been going on for years. Rather, the executive order is an attempt to restructure economic and political arrangements among different factions of the wealthy elite; it reflects a new stage or form of inter-capitalist rivalry for even greater domination of the economy by fewer owners of capital. In other words, moving forward, the economy will remain monopolized by a few monopolies. Wealth is only going to become more concentrated in fewer hands in the years ahead. Mountains of data from hundreds of sources document growing wealth and income inequality every year.

The bulk of the executive order is filled with endless directives, strategies, rules, and suggestions for how to curb “unfair practices” and promote “fairness” and “competition.” But these all ring hollow given concrete realities and past experience.

Today, governments at all levels have been taken over by global private monopoly interests and have become instruments of decisions made on a supranational basis. There is a fine-tuned revolving door between officials from government and the private sector; they have become synonymous for all essential purposes. The same people who run major corporations also serve in high-level government positions where they advance the narrow interests of the private sector and then they leave government and return to their high-level corporate positions. There is a reason why the majority of members of Congress are millionaires. The Executive Branch in the United States, especially the President’s Office, is a major tool for the expression of the will of the most powerful monopolies. This is why billions of dollars are spent every few years to select the President of the country.

A modern economy must be controlled and directed by workers themselves. Only such an economy can provide for the needs of all and avoid endless economic distortions. Uneven economic development, “unfair” arrangements, “market concentration,” monopolies, oligopolies, and recurring crises cannot be avoided so long as those who actually produce the social product have no control over the social product. Workers have first claim to the wealth they produce and have the right to decide how, where, and when that wealth is used. Major owners of capital are historically superfluous and a big block to progress. They are not needed for a healthy vibrant self-reliant economy that meets the needs of all.

  1. Under capitalism the ideology of competition also falsely assumes scarcity because if nothing was scare then there would be no need for competition.
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