All posts by Shawgi Tell

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Ten

The top-down assault on living and working standards continues unabated worldwide. This is coupled with the growing pressure on everyone to fend-for-themselves like animals, which is engendering greater insecurity and instability with each passing month. Even worse, no meaningful and lasting relief is on the way, only more suffering. Major corporations, however, are having a field day.

To add insult to injury, the ruling elite are becoming more irrational and putting forward the destruction of the economy as the way out of the crisis, while also openly admitting that they have no idea what to do. They publicly say things like “we are doing a controlled demolition of the economy” and that “we will likely have a hard landing,” referring to the 50 bubbles deflating in the stock market, which has already lost trillions in real and paper wealth in recent months. Who thinks destroying a massive complex economy that millions built, operate, and rely on is the way forward? Why is more devastation and waste the only option?

Below are 50 facts, some new and some updated, that continue to paint a grim picture of the past, present, and future. New disturbing records continue to be set. Links to all previous nine parts in this series can be found at the end of this article. Together they provide hundreds of facts from numerous sources.

*****

U.S. Conditions

Nearly half of all Maine tenants cannot afford rent, new study says.”

“The average transaction price (ATP) of new vehicles sold by dealers to retail customers in June [2022] hit a new breath-taking record high of $45,844, up by 14.5% from a year ago, and beating the prior record set in May, according to estimates by J.D. Power.”

“US consumer sentiment hit a new record low in June [2022] amid growing concerns about inflation.”

“Interest costs on national debt are up 30% this fiscal year and could increase more.”

“US oil reserves running low – Bloomberg.”

“The price of diesel went above $5.50 a gallon in the beginning of May [2022], and has stayed there ever since, a 70% increase from just a year ago.”

“The U.S. could soon experience a severe shortage of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), impacting U.S. drivers already hit with soaring fuel prices. DEF is a solution made up of urea and de-ionized water that is needed for almost everything that runs on diesel.”

“The retail industry is facing a potential wave of bankruptcies.”

“Stock market’s fall has wiped out $3 trillion in retirement savings this year.”

“Well over half of people surveyed expect their standard of living to decline in retirement.”

44% of workers are worried about a layoff or job loss, CNBC’s All-America Workforce Survey found. Some 84% are concerned about a recession.”

“Netflix cuts 300 employees in new round of layoffs.”

“Tesla is laying off workers who only just started and withdrawing employment offers as Elon Musk’s job cuts begin.”

“United Airlines will cut 12% of Newark flights in effort to tame delays.”

“Starbucks used ‘array of illegal tactics’ against unionizing workers, labor regulators say.”

“Roughly 1 in 4 American expatriates is ‘seriously considering’ or ‘planning’ to renounce their U.S. citizenship, according to a survey from Greenback Expat Tax Services.”

“Elon Musk says Tesla’s car factories are ‘gigantic money furnaces’.”

“Minnesota State colleges, universities raise tuition 3.5% for nearly all students.”

“27 of America’s top 30 universities are raising tuition and fees for the next academic year.”

“Why health-care costs are rising in the U.S. more than anywhere else.”

“For Native Americans, justice is still far out of reach.”

“Since 2010, at least 15 big U.S. cities registered more than 1,000 killings of homeless, official statistics reveal.”

Almost half of the people serving life without parole are 50 years old or more and one in four is at least 60 years old.”

International Conditions

“We face a global economic crisis. And no one knows what to do about it.”

“Fight against inflation raises spectre of global recession.”

“Food insecurity and hunger have doubled since 2019, according to experts. The threat of famine is faced by nearly fifty million people around the world. Levels of less severe hunger have doubled since 2019.”

“The world’s bubbliest housing markets are flashing warning signs.”

“Metal prices are headed for the worst quarter since the financial crisis.”

“Airports around the world battle long lines, canceled flights.”

“Europe’s travel woes deepen as strikes add to scrapped flights.”

“Sri Lankan prime minister: Island’s economy ‘has collapsed’.”

“According to ACORN Canada nearly one in two Canadians are living paycheck-to-paycheck making them vulnerable to predatory banking practices.”

“Majority of C-Suite Execs thinking of quitting, 40% overwhelmed at work: Deloitte Survey.”

“Cazoo to cut 750 jobs in UK and across Europe amid recession fears.”

“UK economy ‘running on empty’ as recession signals mount – PMI.”

“UK retail sales fall in May [2022].”

“UK pushed 100,000 people into poverty by lifting pension age.”

“7 out of 10 people in the UK want government action on soaring executive pay.”

“French energy giants urge consumers to cut energy use.”

“France sees nuclear energy output plummet at the worst possible moment.”

Belgian workers march against cost-of-living crisis.”

“Food basket [in Iceland] increased nearly 17% in last seven months.”

“Australian central bank aims at real wage cuts for years.”

“German business climate drops more than expected.”

“Germany looks at potential rationing of natural gas after Russia cuts supply.”

“New poll reveals 51% of Dutch consider Israel an apartheid state.”

“Residents across Israel move into tents to protest steep housing costs.”

“Cost of food in Kenya increased 12.40 percent in May of 2022 over the same month in the previous year.”

“Inflation inducing extreme poverty [in Zimbabwe].”

More poverty and misery ahead for most Argentines as food prices soar.”

*****

While people want a human-centered alternative to the misery and anarchy that has been worsening for many years, they do not trust the politicians in the cartel parties of the rich (democrats and republicans) to bring about such an alternative. People have been dissatisfied with the political representatives of the rich for decades. A new report (June 2022) from the Pew Research Center (PRC), “Americans’ Views of Government: Decades of Distrust, Enduring Support for Its Role,” shows that “65% say most political candidates run for office ‘to serve their own personal interests’.” The report stresses that:

Americans remain deeply distrustful of and dissatisfied with their government. Just 20% say they trust the government in Washington to do the right thing just about always or most of the time – a sentiment that has changed very little since former President George W. Bush’s second term in office. (emphasis added)

This inevitable distrust and dissatisfaction has grown more over the past 30 months and will increase in the coming years. Imperialists are not interested in sharing power and wealth. They are not interested in the dignity and humanity of all. On the contrary, all their actions and policies further degrade the social and natural environment. It cannot be otherwise in the final and highest stage of capitalism. Parasitism, reaction, and decay increase in this retrogressive period and take a heavy toll on the social and natural environment.

The majority clearly have little to be satisfied about when it comes to the direction of the economy and society. They want to know how and why we are in the abysmal mess we are in today and why it is so impossible for the rich and their political representatives to solve even small problems. Why is there no stability and security centuries after the scientific and technical revolution empowered humankind to easily meet the needs of all many times over?

Experience has also taught people that constantly begging politicians to do the most basic simple things has left millions exhausted, disillusioned, and humiliated. People do not want to fight for years just to secure minor changes that favor them. It is clear that voting once every four years for the lesser of two evils has not stopped economic, social, cultural, political, and educational decline. It has not empowered people to become the decision-makers in society. It has not given people a real voice. It is no surprise that about 100 million eligible voters boycott the presidential election every four years because they feel so disillusioned, ignored, devalued, and marginalized by an obsolete political set-up that has long served a privileged minority. The situation is not much better in the rest of the Anglo-American world.

The fact that the financial oligarchy is a historically superfluous force that is a huge drag on society means that only working people and their allies can usher in a new human-centered alternative. Relying on old structures, frameworks, and arrangements stopped working long ago. Those things do not work anymore because they are not taking people where they need to go. The necessity for new thinking, a new outlook, a new politics, new leadership, and new arrangements is sharper than ever.

Concrete, sustained, collective action with analysis is needed to move forward. A government that upholds a public authority worthy of the name must come into being so as to affirm the public interest. Such a government will provide human rights with a guarantee in practice. It will not privilege narrow private interests or use disinformation to deprive people of an outlook and politics that advances their interests.

There is an alternative to the barbarism of the current conditions engendered by the rich and their outmoded system. New forms of ownership, new social relations, and a new human personality are necessary and possible. History is forcing such ideas, thinking, and topics on human consciousness.

Part one (April 10, 2022); Part two (April 25, 2022); Part three (May 10, 2022); Part four (May 16, 2022); Part five (May 22, 2022); Part six (May 30, 2022); Part seven (June 6, 2022); Part eight (June 13, 2022); Part nine (June 17, 2022).

The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Ten first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Pennsylvania: Charter School Money Heist

For some time now, public school superintendents in Pennsylvania, as well as the governor of that state and many others, have been striving to restrict the charter school money grab that has been allowed to run amok in that state for years.

Cyber charter schools in particular, notorious for consistently abysmal academic results and for being even more corrupt than brick-and-mortar charter schools, have come under fire because they receive large sums of public funds that are vastly disproportionate to their needs, functions, and claims. Overhead costs in cyber charter schools, it should be noted, are much lower than overhead costs in brick-and-mortar public schools and brick-and-mortar charter schools, but the flawed funding system essentially treats cyber charter schools like brick-and-mortar schools. Virtual charter schools also provide fewer services and resources than brick-and-mortar public schools, which can be especially problematic for students with special needs. All of this is beside the fact that charter schools have no legitimate claim to public money in the first place because they are not public entities in the proper sense of the word. Charter schools are privatized deregulated schools run by unelected private persons. Unlike public schools, charter schools are not agencies of the state and differ from public schools in profound ways. Charter school promoters, moreover, openly espouse “free market” ideology.

At a recent press conference addressing the siphoning of large sums of public funds from public schools to privately-operated charter schools, Christopher Dormer, superintendent of the Norristown school district, said that, “today is an attack on a law that is broken, with skewed formulas that have resulted in drastic overpayments to charters, with little or no oversight on how those tax dollars are being spent” (emphasis added). Dormer added:

I’ll tell you, it does not cost $14,000 per year to educate a child in a fully virtual environment’, referring to what Norristown pays per student attending cyber charters. In contrast, he said, it costs the district $5,500 to educate a student fully online.

In the Perkiomen Valley school district:

costs for sending students to charters have grown by more than 55% since 2015, said Superintendent Barbara Russell. ‘That takes money away from the students attending in our school district’, Russell said. While the district has its own virtual learning programs, the money it must pay for students to attend cyber charter schools where the accountability looks very different … raises lots of questions’. (emphasis added)

Virtual charter schools in Pennsylvania also exploit the public by self-servingly reclassifying many students as “special education” students just to seize more public funds from public schools that are chronically under-funded. For example:

Bill Harner, the Quakertown Community School District superintendent, said one-third of students in his district who enroll in cyber charters are classified by their new schools as having a disability. “Why are they being reclassified? Because it’s a cash cow,” Harner said. “It’s a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Larry Feinberg, a veteran school board member and director of the Keystone Center for Charter Change, points out that the existing charter school funding system means “fewer resources to pay for things like math coaches, reading coaches, nurses, counselors” in public schools. “The impact is palpable, and it’s real.”

Charter school funding arrangements (in Pennsylvania and elsewhere) are so dysfunctional that they also often force higher property taxes on communities where they exist. Equally worrisome, charter schools also impose huge “stranded costs” on public schools, which are “expenses that school districts can’t recoup when students leave for a charter, because they can’t evenly reduce teachers or building expenses, for instance.”

It thus comes as no surprise that:

More than 430 of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts have passed a resolution calling for charter funding changes, according to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Many other examples of antisocial funding arrangements can be given. The issue though is not to determine a “more fair” way to funnel public money to privately-operated charter schools, but rather to discuss and analyze in a serious manner why these outsourced deregulated schools exist in the first place and how to untether them from public funds, assets, facilities, and resources that legitimately belong only to public schools.

Within this, what also needs to be discussed is the neoliberal “starve it—test it—punish it—privatize it” (STPP) formula, whereby thousands of public schools in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have been deliberately set up by neoliberals to fail and close in an unconscionable manner so as to make way for thousands of poor-performing charter schools constantly mired in scandal and controversy.

Two other key points are worth considering. First, like private businesses, cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania collectively spend millions of public dollars every year on marketing and advertising instead of spending this public money directly in the classroom. Secondly, why do charter schools need to advertise at all if so many parents supposedly want to enroll their kids in them and there are said to be long waiting lists to get into them? The neoliberal narrative about school-choice has never computed.

Not surprisingly, while superintendents and public interest advocates in Pennsylvania are seeking broad reforms to the current defective school funding set-up, advocates of privately-operated charter schools are fighting tooth and nail for every single public cent they can seize. They have little sympathy for public schools and their students.

To be sure, major problems caused by funneling public funds to privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools is a national problem and not unique to Pennsylvania. For more than 30 years, public schools in America have been undermined by these crisis-prone contract schools run by unelected private persons.

“Free market” schools do not advance people, society, or the economy; they mainly enrich a handful of individuals and groups. The commodification of education in a modern society based on mass industrial production is profoundly counterproductive.

See here for a detailed article on the unbreakable connection between government and charter school millionaires and lobbyists. Preventing charter schools from privately expropriating public property is doable and necessary. No one has to settle for such theft of public wealth by narrow private interests.

There are 179 charter schools in Pennsylvania. Cyber charter schools serve the entire state.

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“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Nine

As the long depression that started many years ago deepens, it can be seen that there is no letup in deteriorating economic and social conditions at home and abroad. The so-called “death spiral” continues worldwide. Many new records are being set, sometimes every week or every day. Instability, chaos, and anarchy are becoming more entrenched and everyone is being pressured to fend for themselves like animals. People feel like no one has their back.

It is no surprise that as multiple crises deepen simultaneously around the world, the ruling elite are increasingly viewed as utterly incompetent. There is no public authority worthy of the name that is providing people with security, stability, and prosperity.

Links to the first eight parts in this series can be found at the end of this article. Forty facts, some updated and some new, are provided below.

*****

U.S. Conditions

“Record-high 50% of Americans rate U.S. moral values as ‘Poor’.”

“Self-care shortage: Americans feel relaxed for just 40 minutes a day.”

“The Federal Reserve hiked [interest] rates by 75 basis points [on June 15, 2022] — its largest increase since 1994.”

“Weekly jobless claims hit 229,000, the highest level since January [2022].”

“Mortgage demand is now roughly half of what it was a year ago, as interest rates move even higher.”

“Property prices PLUNGE by up to 20% across parts of US as buyers shun the market amid ‘Bidenflation’ and spiking interest rates.”

“Homebuilder sentiment tumbles back below pre-COVID levels.”

“Real estate firms Compass and Redfin announce layoffs as housing market slows.”

“Inflation has 67% of people dipping into their savings to pay for necessities, new survey reveals.”

“US producer prices soar 10.8% in May as energy costs spike.”

“Gas prices reach record high for 18th consecutive day.”

“Domestic flight prices increased 47% since January [2022].”

“US retail sales unexpectedly tumble in May [2022].”

“Small business optimism drops to record low.”

“Creeping back: US bankruptcy filings on the up.”

“Coinbase to lay off 18% of staff amid crypto meltdown.”

“Ford recalls nearly 3 million vehicles over rollaway concerns.”

“More people are avoiding the news, and trusting it less, report says.”

International Conditions

“Poor countries forced to cut public spending to pay debts, campaigners say.”

Property values fall across US, Europe on bite from inflation.”

“Double blow to Europe’s gas supplies sparks price surge.”

“A majority of Scots are worried by lack of low-rent housing.”

“Bank of England hikes rates for the fifth time in a row as inflation soars.”

“Canadian businesses bankruptcies surge — and some fear this is just the beginning.”

“Global nuclear arsenal set to grow for first time in decades.”

“Bulgarian restauranteurs: Increasing VAT on wine and beer dooms restaurants to bankruptcy.”

100,000 Turkish doctors strike amid growing global movement of health care workers.”

“Child type 2 diabetes referrals in England and Wales jump 50% amid obesity crisis.”

“Belgium hit by increasing levels of obesity.”

“Middle East and North Africa: addressing highest rates of youth unemployment in the world.”

4.1 million Kenyans facing starvation due to drought.”

Nearly one million Chadians are in acute food insecurity.”

“Africa’s middle class struggles to keep pace with rising inflation.”

“Gaza: Over half of Palestinian children have contemplated suicide, report finds.”

“Fears growing over who will pay for Lebanon’s bankruptcy.”

“Brazil raises key rate by 50 points, signals more to come.”

“Agrarian unions warn of a serious food crisis in Peru exacerbated by corruption. In March 2022, Peru’s inflation is the highest in the last 26 years.”

“As Sri Lanka’s crisis worsens, rising numbers flee by sea.”

“Philippine debt balloons to new record-high P12.76T as of end-April [2022].”

“Thailand’s inflation could reach 5.9% – the highest for 24 years.”

*****

The only way to extricate society out of the all-sided crisis it is mired in is by depriving the rich of their ability to deprive everyone of their rights. There is no way to move forward without organizing ourselves to restrict the power of the rich to destroy the natural and social environment. A change in the aim and direction of the economy is not going to come from the financial oligarchy. Working people and their allies must organize themselves to affirm the right to decide all the affairs of society.

Part one (April 10, 2022); Part two (April 25, 2022); Part three (May 10, 2022); Part four (May 16, 2022); Part five (May 22, 2022); Part six (May 30, 2022); Part seven (June 6, 2022); Part eight (June 13, 2022).

The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Nine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Eight

Economic and social disasters continue to increase worldwide. There is no “healthy recovery” from the pandemic.

The level of irreparable harm being caused by the inability and unwillingness of the ruling elite to solve any problems, even small problems, is glaring. With no sense of shame or irony, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, recently went so far as to publicly state that to improve the economy his goal is “to get wages down,” which means that workers, the producers of all wealth in society, will take an even bigger hit—just as inflation, inequality, debt, under-employment, poverty, anxiety, and homelessness worsen. Powell and other capital-centered ideologues do not understand that wages have nothing to do with inflation. The economic collapse has nothing to do with workers. Lowering living and working standards is the opposite of what people need.

This level of incompetence and irresponsibility on the part of the rich and their representatives at all levels of government and society may be historically unprecedented. Even worse, billions are being pressured to passively sit by and watch Rome burn as the elite enjoy more and more of the social product seized with impunity from working people. It is clear that defunct liberal institutions and governance arrangements cannot uphold human-centered arrangements and serve only to justify the concentration of even more economic and political power in even fewer hands. Existing institutions and arrangements do nothing to empower people, they just keep them marginalized and make problems worse. The absence of a politics of social responsibility is palpable and will eventually have to transmute into its opposite. More people are becoming more fed up with politicians and demanding an alternative to the untenable status quo. A pro-social direction is needed for the economy and society.

Below is part eight of the series called “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind. It contains more than 35 additional facts, some updated and some new, from the U.S. and other countries. Links to each of the previous seven parts can be found at the end of this article. All eight parts collectively provide about 200 facts from different sources about the state of the global economy. They paint a vivid and disturbing picture of what is unfolding. Readers are encouraged to periodically review all the facts from all the articles in this series in order to deepen their grasp of what is actually unfolding worldwide and to appreciate just how serious the situation confronting humanity is. General knowledge and awareness are not enough. Constant review and study are effective ways to quickly recognize and reject lies, disinformation, and propaganda from the rich, their political representatives, and the corporate media. All the dots need to be connected, analysis needs to be developed, and collective action needs to be taken on the basis of constant analysis and discussion that deepens social consciousness. This is not the time to embrace the self-serving cultural, political, and economic views and schemes promoted by the rich at all levels and in all institutions.

*****

U.S. Conditions

“US household wealth fell $500 billion to $149.3 trillion in the first quarter of 2022.”

“Jobless claims hit highest level in months, far outpacing estimates.”

More than 8 in 10 Americans hate this economy. That’s the highest number since the poll began.”

“Shocking consumer credit numbers: Everyone maxing out their credit card ahead of the recession.”

“Consumer sentiment plunges to record low in June, according to University of Michigan survey.”

“Inflation reaches 8.6% in May [2022], its highest level in more than four decades

“Inflation and rising diesel prices impacting restaurants.”

“Average US gas price hits $5 for first time.”

“Luxury-home sales in US plunge most since start of the pandemic.”

“The California exodus continues as residents head south of the border.”

“Vacant zombie properties rising in second quarter amid jump in foreclosure activity.”

“Median monthly rent surpasses $2K in the U.S. for the first time, study finds. That’s 15% higher than this time last year.”

“Educators across New York City are grappling with millions of dollars in planned cuts to school budgets, released this week for the 2022-23 school year.” The New York City public school system is the largest in America (1.1 million students).

“Raising a middle-class child will likely cost almost $286,000, according to USDA data.”

International Conditions

“The world economy is again in danger,” said David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group. “Even if a global recession is averted, the pain of stagflation could persist for several years.”

“World Bank slashes global growth forecast to 2.9%, warns of 1970s-style stagflation.”

“Get ready for reverse currency wars.”

“Europe’s economy grapples with an acute energy shock.”

“’Shrinkflation’ accelerates globally as manufacturers quietly shrink package sizes. From toilet paper to yogurt and coffee to corn chips, manufacturers are quietly shrinking package sizes without lowering prices. It’s dubbed ‘shrinkflation’, and it’s accelerating worldwide.”

“Inflation in Germany, Spain climbs again in May [2022].”

“Mercedes recalls almost 1 million cars over faulty brakes.”

“Boeing & Airbus control 91% of global commercial aircraft fleets.”

“Belgian minimum wage does not meet new European standards.”

“2.3 million people in Portugal (roughly one in five) live in poverty.”

“Zero-growth warning for UK as petrol prices surge and OECD says Britain will be weakest economy in G7 next year.”

“As gas hits $8.60 a gallon in the UK, Brits pay $125 to fill a family car.”

“Air starts to seep out of the bubbly Canadian property market. In Toronto prices have fallen for three consecutive months. Throughout the country, home sales have plunged. Many economists warn that worse lies ahead.”

“Rising costs and staff shortages threaten construction sector in Cyprus.”

“Fuel shortages across Africa hit motorists, airlines and radio stations.”

“Both the Egyptian and Jordanian economies are struggling at the moment. Like other countries in the region, Egypt is struggling with inflation, which has prompted the Central Bank to raise interest rates. Jordan is also contending with high unemployment, which is fueling drug use in the country.”

“Ghana economy: Inflation soars from 23.6% in April [2022] to 27.6 in May [2022].”

“Chad declares food emergency while international agencies sound the alarm.”

“Sri Lanka creates two new ministers to handle worst economic crisis.”

“Malaysia’s food crisis must be addressed immediately, says King.”

“Australian Treasury chief: Labor government must slash spending and suppress wages.”

“Pricy tortillas: Latin America’s poor struggle to afford staples.”

*****

The rich and their entourage do not understand what is happening in the economy and offer no meaningful solutions. They even plead ignorance about economic phenomena. U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, recently admitted publicly that she was wrong about inflation. Every “solution” the rich put forward has harmful consequences. They continue to dogmatically rely exclusively on outdated economic theories put forward by long-gone capital-centered economists like John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and others. Such ideas and theories never stabilized capitalism. They never brought lasting and sustainable peace, security, stability, and prosperity for the majority. The system continues to lurch from crisis to crisis.

The situation today is both dangerous and exciting. Everything is up for grabs, perhaps more than ever before. Contradictions are sharpening daily in all spheres on all continents There is an all-out war on all fronts—ideological, cultural, political, and economic. This is a good time to jump into the fray, expose the failures of the rich and their outmoded systems, and boldly speak up for human-centered interests. Defend workers, students, youth, the elderly, and the disabled. Reject and condemn the irrational and harmful ideas and arrangements being imposed on people by a tiny ruling elite. There is an alternative.

Part one (April 10, 2022); Part two (April 25, 2022); Part three (May 10, 2022); Part four (May 16, 2022); Part five (May 22, 2022); Part six (May 30, 2022); Part seven (June 6, 2022).

The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Eight first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Seven

Below is part seven of the series called “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind. Forty facts on U.S. and international conditions, some updated and some new, are provided below. Once again, many economic records are being broken by a crisis-prone economy dominated by big business.

Links to the first six parts of this series, which collectively contain 150 facts from the U.S. and abroad, can be found at the end of this article.

*****

U.S. Conditions

“36% Of Americans making $250,000 are living paycheck to paycheck.”

“CEOs warn that US households are burning through savings at an alarming rate, and could run out within months.”

“Demand at food banks is way up again. But inflation makes it harder to meet the need.”

“The massive gap between rich and poor Americans costs the US economy more than $300 billion every year, study says.” The real figure is higher.

“Inflation drives Americans’ gloom about the economy.”

“Inflation will force 25% of Americans to delay retirement: survey.”

“Restaurants add new fees to your check to counter inflation. Checks now come chock-full of fees for everything from ‘kitchen appreciation’ to ‘wellness’.”

“US gas prices jump to record high $4.67 a gallon.”

“U.S. households are spending the equivalent of $5,000 a year on gasoline, according to Yardeni Research. That is up from about $2,800 a year ago and $3,800 as recently as March.”

“Over the past year, home price growth (20.6%) is four times greater than income growth (4.8%).”

“US housing market is so stressful that buyers are left in tears.”

“Crypto scams have cost people more than $1 billion since 2021, says FTC.” FTC stands for Federal Trade Commission.

“US robot orders surge 40% as labor shortages, inflation persist.”

“National survey of gig workers paints a picture of poor working conditions, low pay.”

“U.S. private sector job growth softens in May, ADP 1 data shows.”

“Elon Musk wants to cut 10% of Tesla jobs.”

“Small US companies lose almost 300,000 jobs since February [2022].”

“Zombie firms face slow death in US as era of easy credit ends.” Zombie companies are companies that spend most or all of their profit on paying off debt.

“American airlines CEO says the airline has grounded 100 planes because it doesn’t have enough pilots to fly them.”

“Health premiums will rise steeply for millions if rescue plan tax credits expire.”

“About 23 percent of Chicago’s public schools face budget cuts.”

“California is rationing water amid its worst drought in 1,200 years.”

International

“Eurozone inflation hits its highest level since the creation of the euro in 1999.”

Big risks threaten economic growth around the world as central banks try to bring prices under control.”

“Families will skip meals to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, UN special advocate says.”

“Red-hot coal prices threaten even higher power bills.”

“In the euro area, the share of private sector employees whose contracts involve a formal role for inflation in wage-setting fell from 24% in 2008 to 16% in 2021. COLA coverage in the United States hovered around 25% in the 1960s and rose to about 60% during the inflationary episode of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but rapidly declined to 20% by the mid-1990s.” COLA stands for Cost-Of-Living-Adjustment.

“In 2021, 39.3% of Colombians were living in poverty. Around 18.9 million people remain poor, against 17.5 million before the pandemic. The annual inflation rate in Colombia accelerated to 9.2% in April 2022, the highest rate since July 2000…. The World Inequality Lab estimates that the top 10% of income earners take 58% of the income generated in Colombia.”

“The interest rate in Brazil has been raised 10 times in the past year and now stands at 12.75 percent compared to just 2 percent in March 2021. Other countries including Mexico, Chile and Peru have also lifted rates.”

“Japan’s factory output slumps in worrying sign for economy.”

“South Korean inflation surges by most in almost 14 years.”

“Lao economy grinding to a halt as fuel crisis deepens. A plummeting currency, dwindling foreign reserves, and a spike in global oil prices have led to shortages across the country.”

Germany’s annual inflation rate jumped to “7.9% in May [2022[, the highest rate since the winter of 1973-1974.”

“Luxembourg economy slows down after pandemic rebound.”

“Price of UK pint [of beer] up more than 70% since financial crisis.”

“Turkey’s inflation soars to 73%, a 23-year high, as food and energy costs skyrocket.”

“Italy is held back by 2.6 million people who have given up on work.”

“[T]he cost of a hotel room [in Norway] is 24 percent more expensive than it was last year, according to research by radio station P4. That increase is even more dramatic in capital Oslo, with prices up by up to 60 percent over 12 months.”

“Chile’s mining production tumbles in April [2022].”

“Australian Catholic school teachers and support staff [about 18,000] hold first strike in 18 years.”

“Over $50 for a burrito? World’s elite splash the cash on snacks at Davos.”

*****

The international financial oligarchy is unable and unwilling to solve any of the serious problems that continue to worsen worldwide. Instead, it keeps taking actions that successfully degrade the social and natural environment. Things keep going from bad to worse, causing more people to view the rich and their political and media representatives as irrelevant, irresponsible, and illegitimate.

People do not feel represented under “representative democracy” and want a real say in the affairs of society. They want to end their marginalization and become the decision-makers in society so that problems can actually be solved. How is it possible that millions can be held hostage to a few big businesses and a broken economic system? Why can’t hundreds of millions of people and their government stop a handful of big businesses from immiserating more than 90% of the population?

In this retrogressive context, irrational media chatter about a recession persists and functions to divert people from the real problems at hand. Most economies around the world have been in a long depression since 2008. They have struggled just to establish low levels of economic growth. The notion that there is a recession or that there might be a recession trivializes the gravity of the situation confronting humanity at this time. Millions have been in dire straits for a long time. They do not care about how capital-centered ideologues technically define a recession. They experience hardship firsthand every day and do not need the privileged wealthy elite to tell them when things are not going well.

Democratic renewal is the order of the day. People need an electoral and political set-up that is going to empower them to decide all the affairs of society. No one else is going to solve the worsening problems confronting humanity. The polity, not the international financial oligarchy, must have sovereign power over the direction and aim of society. No meaningful lasting solutions will come from the rich and their representatives.

Part one (April 10, 2022); Part two (April 25, 2022); Part three (May 10, 2022); Part four (May 16, 2022); Part five (May 22, 2022); Part Six (May 30, 2022)

  1. See here for information about the ADP report.
The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Seven first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Seven

Below is part seven of the series called “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind. Forty facts on U.S. and international conditions, some updated and some new, are provided below. Once again, many economic records are being broken by a crisis-prone economy dominated by big business.

Links to the first six parts of this series, which collectively contain 150 facts from the U.S. and abroad, can be found at the end of this article.

*****

U.S. Conditions

“36% Of Americans making $250,000 are living paycheck to paycheck.”

“CEOs warn that US households are burning through savings at an alarming rate, and could run out within months.”

“Demand at food banks is way up again. But inflation makes it harder to meet the need.”

“The massive gap between rich and poor Americans costs the US economy more than $300 billion every year, study says.” The real figure is higher.

“Inflation drives Americans’ gloom about the economy.”

“Inflation will force 25% of Americans to delay retirement: survey.”

“Restaurants add new fees to your check to counter inflation. Checks now come chock-full of fees for everything from ‘kitchen appreciation’ to ‘wellness’.”

“US gas prices jump to record high $4.67 a gallon.”

“U.S. households are spending the equivalent of $5,000 a year on gasoline, according to Yardeni Research. That is up from about $2,800 a year ago and $3,800 as recently as March.”

“Over the past year, home price growth (20.6%) is four times greater than income growth (4.8%).”

“US housing market is so stressful that buyers are left in tears.”

“Crypto scams have cost people more than $1 billion since 2021, says FTC.” FTC stands for Federal Trade Commission.

“US robot orders surge 40% as labor shortages, inflation persist.”

“National survey of gig workers paints a picture of poor working conditions, low pay.”

“U.S. private sector job growth softens in May, ADP 1 data shows.”

“Elon Musk wants to cut 10% of Tesla jobs.”

“Small US companies lose almost 300,000 jobs since February [2022].”

“Zombie firms face slow death in US as era of easy credit ends.” Zombie companies are companies that spend most or all of their profit on paying off debt.

“American airlines CEO says the airline has grounded 100 planes because it doesn’t have enough pilots to fly them.”

“Health premiums will rise steeply for millions if rescue plan tax credits expire.”

“About 23 percent of Chicago’s public schools face budget cuts.”

“California is rationing water amid its worst drought in 1,200 years.”

International

“Eurozone inflation hits its highest level since the creation of the euro in 1999.”

Big risks threaten economic growth around the world as central banks try to bring prices under control.”

“Families will skip meals to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, UN special advocate says.”

“Red-hot coal prices threaten even higher power bills.”

“In the euro area, the share of private sector employees whose contracts involve a formal role for inflation in wage-setting fell from 24% in 2008 to 16% in 2021. COLA coverage in the United States hovered around 25% in the 1960s and rose to about 60% during the inflationary episode of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but rapidly declined to 20% by the mid-1990s.” COLA stands for Cost-Of-Living-Adjustment.

“In 2021, 39.3% of Colombians were living in poverty. Around 18.9 million people remain poor, against 17.5 million before the pandemic. The annual inflation rate in Colombia accelerated to 9.2% in April 2022, the highest rate since July 2000…. The World Inequality Lab estimates that the top 10% of income earners take 58% of the income generated in Colombia.”

“The interest rate in Brazil has been raised 10 times in the past year and now stands at 12.75 percent compared to just 2 percent in March 2021. Other countries including Mexico, Chile and Peru have also lifted rates.”

“Japan’s factory output slumps in worrying sign for economy.”

“South Korean inflation surges by most in almost 14 years.”

“Lao economy grinding to a halt as fuel crisis deepens. A plummeting currency, dwindling foreign reserves, and a spike in global oil prices have led to shortages across the country.”

Germany’s annual inflation rate jumped to “7.9% in May [2022[, the highest rate since the winter of 1973-1974.”

“Luxembourg economy slows down after pandemic rebound.”

“Price of UK pint [of beer] up more than 70% since financial crisis.”

“Turkey’s inflation soars to 73%, a 23-year high, as food and energy costs skyrocket.”

“Italy is held back by 2.6 million people who have given up on work.”

“[T]he cost of a hotel room [in Norway] is 24 percent more expensive than it was last year, according to research by radio station P4. That increase is even more dramatic in capital Oslo, with prices up by up to 60 percent over 12 months.”

“Chile’s mining production tumbles in April [2022].”

“Australian Catholic school teachers and support staff [about 18,000] hold first strike in 18 years.”

“Over $50 for a burrito? World’s elite splash the cash on snacks at Davos.”

*****

The international financial oligarchy is unable and unwilling to solve any of the serious problems that continue to worsen worldwide. Instead, it keeps taking actions that successfully degrade the social and natural environment. Things keep going from bad to worse, causing more people to view the rich and their political and media representatives as irrelevant, irresponsible, and illegitimate.

People do not feel represented under “representative democracy” and want a real say in the affairs of society. They want to end their marginalization and become the decision-makers in society so that problems can actually be solved. How is it possible that millions can be held hostage to a few big businesses and a broken economic system? Why can’t hundreds of millions of people and their government stop a handful of big businesses from immiserating more than 90% of the population?

In this retrogressive context, irrational media chatter about a recession persists and functions to divert people from the real problems at hand. Most economies around the world have been in a long depression since 2008. They have struggled just to establish low levels of economic growth. The notion that there is a recession or that there might be a recession trivializes the gravity of the situation confronting humanity at this time. Millions have been in dire straits for a long time. They do not care about how capital-centered ideologues technically define a recession. They experience hardship firsthand every day and do not need the privileged wealthy elite to tell them when things are not going well.

Democratic renewal is the order of the day. People need an electoral and political set-up that is going to empower them to decide all the affairs of society. No one else is going to solve the worsening problems confronting humanity. The polity, not the international financial oligarchy, must have sovereign power over the direction and aim of society. No meaningful lasting solutions will come from the rich and their representatives.

Part one (April 10, 2022); Part two (April 25, 2022); Part three (May 10, 2022); Part four (May 16, 2022); Part five (May 22, 2022); Part Six (May 30, 2022)

  1. See here for information about the ADP report.
The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Seven first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Six

The first five parts of this series contain more than 115 facts on economic and social conditions at home and abroad and can be found at the end of this article. This article provides more than 30 facts and focuses mostly, but not entirely, on the U.S. Some facts are important updates of already-reported facts and some are brand new facts.

*****

U.S. Conditions

“The Dow [Jones] is on its longest weekly losing streak since 1923.”

“The US gross national debt has now reached $30.4 trillion, having spiked by $7.0 trillion since March 2020.”

“GDP decreased at an annual rate of 1.5% in the first quarter of this year, a drop from the previously expected decrease of 1.4% in the advanced estimate, according to the BEA [Bureau of Economic Analysis].”

“Unsold inventory of new houses spiked in a historic month-to-month leap of 34,000 houses, and by 127,000 houses from April last year, to 444,000 unsold houses, seasonally adjusted, the highest since May 2008.”

“The share of home sellers who dropped their asking price shot up to a six-month-high of 15% for the four weeks ending May 1, up from 9% a year earlier. The 5.9% increase is the largest annual gain on record in Redfin’s weekly housing data back through 2015. For homebuyers, the typical monthly mortgage payment skyrocketed a record 42% to a new high during the same period.”

“The average age of a car in the US is up to 12.2 years, a new record.”

More than 70 Sears stores to close across country.”

Once the Kmart store in Avenel, New Jersey closes [in April 2022], “the number of Kmarts in the U.S. – once well over 2,000 –will be down to three in the continental U.S. and a handful of stores elsewhere.”

“Two years after New York’s first indoor dining shutdown, restaurants and bars continue to close their doors. More than 1,000 have closed since March 2020 due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” The real figure is higher.

CEO pay rose 17% in 2021 as profits soared up to a median of $14.5 million; workers trailed.”

“US savings rate crashes to lowest since Lehman [2008].”

“Microsoft is the latest tech giant to slow hiring.” Dozens of other big businesses are doing the same.

“We could see a million layoffs or more – here comes the job market shock.”

“Apple Store workers in Georgia call off union vote over intimidation claims.”

Baby formula crisis: Products from closed plant won’t hit shelves until at least mid-July, Abbott says.”

Surging meat prices push summer grillers to order pizza instead.”

“US truckers talk ‘unprecedented’ diesel price surge. The price of diesel has been hitting all-time highs.”

“Delta to ‘strategically decrease’ flights this summer.”

2 in 3 adults avoid social events — because they’re embarrassed about their financial struggles.”

“In June 2020, 74.9% of people aged 18–24 reported at least one mental health or substance use concern. Eight in 10 (83%) college students reported feelings of significant anxiety or stress after the start of the fall 2021 semester, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness.”

International Conditions

“Every 30 hours, world gets a new billionaire, a million new poor.”

“Oil prices are set to surge even higher this summer.”

“Brazil kicks off $7.4 billion Eletrobras privatization.” Eletrobras is Brazil’s state-controlled power utility.

“Azerbaijan to hold new privatization auction.”

“People in US and UK face huge financial hit if fossil fuels lose value, study shows.”

“In 2021 half of Britain’s energy suppliers went bankrupt as gas prices soared by 250%.”

“Paris [France] reduces trash pick-up days.”

“Spain passes decree limiting use of air conditioning in public buildings to conserve energy.”

“The tech company layoffs have hit Europe. Several of Europe’s best-known startups have made drastic cuts to their teams in order to cut costs and preserve their cash runway as the global economy takes a downturn.”

“’Negative trajectory’ in consumer confidence shows Canadians increasingly anxious about economy.”

“Toyota just cut production for the second time this week. The supply chain crunch isn’t easing up for the world’s top-selling automaker — or anyone, for that matter.”

“Syria’s economy so bad many people don’t have one meal a day, nun says.”

“Doctors, bakers and truckers protest as Lebanon’s currency plunges after election.”

“Zimbabwe’s inflation soars to 131.7%.”

*****

While a fragmented chaotic economy devoid of conscious human intervention has been the norm for decades, it can be seen from the economic and social catastrophe unfolding globally that such an anachronistic economy is further disintegrating and wreaking more havoc on the peoples of the world. It is out of control and some have even called it a death spiral.

It is in this chaotic, alienating, and violent context that “27 school shootings have taken place so far this year [2022]” in the U.S. The most recent shooting was at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead on May 24, 2022. This carnage took place only 10 days after 10 people were massacred at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Many are concerned that these horrific tragedies will be used by the establishment as a pretext to escalate police-state arrangements in the name of “promoting safety,” “fighting hate,” and “preventing shootings.” New York State, for example, wasted no time setting up a State Police unit to surveil people online. Many other units exist in and beyond New York State.

The rich and their political and media representatives are becoming more irresponsible, incompetent, and ineffective with each passing day. Not a single major problem has been solved in decades and every day there is more traumatizing news about economic and social conditions around the world. People everywhere are fed-up, exhausted, and overwhelmed, including many “middle class” people. Only the wealthy few can escape the pain affecting the vast majority.

In this context, recent media chatter about whether there will be a recession this year is diversionary because we have been in a long depression since 2008. Most countries have been running on gas fumes since then, and everything the financial oligarchy has done since 2008 has intensified the all-sided crisis. The fact is that “people don’t need the [neoliberal] government to tell them we are in a recession to start feeling like we are in a recession,” said David Haggith, publisher of The Great Recession Blog.

On top of all this, the rich and their entourage nonchalantly talk and act like lurching from crisis to crisis is somehow inevitable and unpreventable. The notion that the economic collapse confronting humanity is mysterious, incomprehensible, or hard to fix is irrational and self-serving to the extreme. The economy is not a mystery and can be directed quickly and properly to serve a pro-social aim. Everything needed to advance pro-social aims already exists. Workers already run everything and many people with valuable expertise in many fields can be brought together to advance a pro-social direction. Many serious chronic problems can be solved quickly with working people in charge of the wealth they collectively produce. Without political authority and power, however, pro-social changes will remain piece-meal and inadequate. Living and working standards will remain subpar for millions. Working people, youth, students, senior citizens—the polity as a whole—must have sovereign power over economic and political affairs. The aim and direction of the economy must not be set and controlled by big business because that leads only to more disasters.

Smash the silence on economic and social conditions. Discuss these worsening conditions with everyone. Share and disseminate information that combats the disinformation and propaganda of the rich. Speak up in your own name and strive to organize each other for pro-social aims. Put these serious matters on the agenda, reject unprincipled divisions and diversions, and work together to develop collective solutions. History and the will-to-be demand it. It is all do-able.

Part one of this series appeared on April 10, 2022, part two appeared on April 25, 2022, part three appeared on May 10, 2022, part four appeared on May 16, 2022, and part five appeared on May 22, 2022.

The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Six first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Five

Ceaseless money printing by central banks, price-fixing in major sectors of the economy (“greedflation”), never-ending supply-chain disruptions and delays, endless pay-the-rich schemes (e.g., public-private “partnerships”), constantly-growing debt at all levels, more inequality, intensifying stock market turbulence, out-of-control inflation, widespread poverty, and lower working and living standards for millions are signs of an economy that lost historical and social relevance long ago. It is an economy in dire need of a new aim and direction under the control of the workers who actually produce the wealth in society.

The economic and social fallout from an obsolete economic and political system continues at home and abroad. This is especially significant given the interconnected nature of everything and the fact that the rich and their political and media representatives are incapable of analyzing and theorizing the economy objectively and offer only more confusion and incoherence.

Below are additional statistics on the state of working and living conditions nationally and internationally. Links to the first four parts can be found at the end of this article.

*****

International Conditions

“The IMF sees growth in 2022 and 2023 lower than it did in January [2022].”

“Poor countries face a mounting catastrophe fueled by inflation and debt.”

“Global leaders warn of economic dangers as crises multiply. At the G-7 conference in Germany, finance ministers wrestle with stagflation, energy shocks, food shortages and debt crises.”

“Age of scarcity begins with $1.6 trillion hit to world economy. New fault-lines are likely to outlast war and plague — leaving the global economy smaller and prices higher.”

“World’s largest fertilizer company warns crop nutrient disruptions through 2023.”

“Producer prices in South Korea rose 9.2 percent year-on-year in April of 2022, accelerating from a 9 percent advance in the previous month.”

Japan: “Producer inflation in April rose by double digits for the first time since 1980.”

People queue ‘more than 10 hours’ for fuel in crisis-stricken Sri Lanka.”

“The Reserve Bank of Australia expects inflation to reach 5.5 per cent by June [2022] – compared to the government’s 4.25 per cent forecast – and six per cent by the end of 2022.”

“Turkish reserves lost ‘shocking’ $4.8 billion in just one week.”

“The Tunisian economy has gone from bad to worse in recent years, battered by a series of challenges from heavy indebtedness to diminished output.”

“Inflation hits 7% in April as Ireland’s cost of living soars. Households warned to brace for sharpest squeeze since early 1980s.”

“UK consumer confidence falls to its lowest level since 1970s.”

“Spain expected to produce the lowest volume of fruit in 40 years.”

“Iceland ramps up tightening in biggest rate hike since 2008. Inflation may now exceed 8% in third quarter, officials say.”

“Swedish economy contracts as price hikes start to bite.”

Rising prices put pressure on Swiss consumers and industry.”

“Albanian president says public debt at “very worrying” 84% of GDP.”

“Bulgaria’s inflation jumps to 14.4% y/y in April.”

U.S. Conditions

“I’ve been in the markets for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Danielle DiMartino Booth, CEO and chief strategist for Quill Intelligence, a Wall Street and Federal Reserve research firm. “It’s violent not just volatile.”

“Federal Reserve data shows that the middle 60 percent of households ownership of the national wealth has fallen to just only 26 percent. Their ownership of real estate has fallen from 44 percent, a generation ago, to 38 percent today. Since 1971, wage growth has nearly stagnated while GDP and productivity have increased significantly.”

“Existing home sales in the US declined by 2.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.61 million in April of 2022, the lowest since June of 2020 and slightly below forecasts of 5.65 million.”

“Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell eight points to 69 in May, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the fifth straight month that builder sentiment has declined and the lowest reading since June 2020.”

“Applications for mortgages to purchase a home dropped 12% from the prior week [early May 2022] and were down 15% from a year ago.”

“More subprime borrowers are missing loan payments. Borrowers with limited or troubled credit histories are defaulting on credit cards, car loans and personal loans.”

Foreclosure wave sweeping US crests in Chicago.”

“Millions of Americans are worrying about how to deal with high prices, or are going without. Predictions of a looming recession make everyone concerned about their jobs. And any pay increases that come with a new job are quickly gobbled up by inflation.”

A third of Americans report financial stress in census survey.”

“In the fourth quarter of 2021, credit card debt rose $52 billion, the largest quarterly increase on record. After the Fed’s quarter-point increase in March, interest rates increased across 75 percent of the 200 credit cards LendingTree credit expert Matt Schulz monitors every month, he told CBS News.”

1 in 6 US kids are in families below the poverty line.”

“Why inflation is hitting Gen Z particularly hard. Rising prices, plunging stocks and surging rents are making it a difficult time to enter adulthood.” Gen Z, also known as “zoomers,” consists of people born between 1997 and 2012.

“With infant formula in very short supply, many Americans have been getting a crash course in market concentration. Just four companies make 90% of the formula sold in this country, which means that a recall and a plant closure at just one of those companies is having some pretty serious ripple effects. A similar lack of competition can be found in many sectors of the American economy.”

“Data analysis demonstrated that baby formula stock was relatively stable for the first half of 2021. Out-of-stock rate (OOS) fluctuation was between 2-8%. The OOS detail shows that in January 2022, baby formula shortages have hit 23%. Hyperlocal data indicates they will continue to worsen, showing OOS levels now at 31% as of April 2022.”

“Bird flu outbreak nears worst ever in U.S. with 37 million animals dead.”

“[T]hrough consolidation, the number of hospitals in the United States declined by 16% in the last quarter of the 20th century, but with no evidence of improved quality.”

Half of America faces power blackouts this summer, regulator warns.”

Soaring diesel prices spells bad news for America.”

*****

Taken together, these and many other facts show that the economic system remains chaotic, fragmented, anarchic, obsolete, and incapable of ensuring prosperity, peace, security, and stability for all. Uncertainty and turmoil plague everything. More and more people around the world are experiencing greater economic hardship and more social and psychological problems. The situation is serious and bad. It cannot be otherwise when an economy is not directed by workers themselves. Leaving control of the economy in the hands of the financial oligarchy leads only to more tragedies.

No real solutions are being offered by the rich and their cheerleaders at every level of society and government. We are just supposed to watch everything slowly crumble while hoping for some spontaneous magical solution that saves the day and makes the nightmare quickly go away.

In its inability to solve any problems, government is revealing itself to be more irrelevant with each passing day. Government incompetence and irresponsibility are very high. Why do people have to beg for decades for the most simple basic things? Why are there trillions of dollars for banks, war, Wall Street, “security,” and the rich but hardly anything for the rest of humanity? Why is this basic question still being posed today?

While deep meaningful change that favors the people does not happen overnight, it cannot happen without constant, organized, patient, collective study, analysis, discussion, and action. Serious and focused attention must be given to the conditions confronting people, and then this information and analysis has to be used to arrive at warranted conclusions about how to collectively build the alternative on a step-wise basis. There are a million steps. Great discipline is required. And the more broadly this discussion is taken the better it will serve workers, students, youth, women, the elderly, and the disabled. Everyone should boldly speak up and discuss. Much is at stake and silence usually makes things worse. Put the disturbing facts on the table and open up the discussion on systemic fundamental problems and the need for a fresh alternative and new direction that ensures security, prosperity, peace, and stability for all. In the absence of organized discussion, analysis, and action people are left to fend for themselves in a world saturated with disinformation, propaganda, and brain-washing of all sorts. People wake up every day and confront a world full of endless distractions, diversions, and mysteries causing much cognition to be discombobulated, erratic, and incoherent. It is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to opening the path of progress to society by unleashing the human factor and social consciousness. Working people are more than capable of sorting things out and moving society in a pro-social direction.

Part one of this series appeared on April 10, 2022, part two appeared on April 25, 2022, part three appeared on May 10, 2022 and part four appeared on May 16, 2022.

The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Five first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Four

The last three economic updates (see end of article) focused primarily on the U.S., whereas this update focuses more on global conditions.

The data coming in every day, month after month, is revealing a clear picture of the dire straits confronting millions globally. Problems appear at every level and on every continent. There is no letup in deteriorating economic and social conditions at home and abroad. Things are dreadful and getting worse in most parts of the world, and the decline began long before top-down covid lockdowns started more than two years ago.

Unfortunately, mainstream economic news is largely irrational, contradictory, and incoherent; it does not help people figure out what is going on, who is responsible, why phenomena are unfolding the way they are, how to connect the dots intelligibly, and how to move forward in a way that favors the people. No serious theory, analysis, or perspective is offered to assist people in affirming their interests.

*****

“Poorer nations in Asia, Africa, Middle East face food crisis: UN.”

“In 2021, an Oxfam review of IMF COVID-19 loans showed that 33 African countries were encouraged to pursue austerity policies. This despite the IMF’s own research showing austerity worsens poverty and inequality.”

“In 2020, half of all Zimbabweans – eight million people – were estimated to be in extreme poverty. That toll is almost certainly greater after a stringent COVID-19 lockdown that hit the informal sector – on which 90 percent of economically active citizens depend on for their survival – especially hard.”

“Surging inflation set to derail Ghana’s 2022 growth target.”

“Turkish inflation of 70% Sets G-20 high.”

Severe economic crisis, high living cost affect Lebanese diet.”

Sri Lanka “is in shambles after defaulting on payments on its mountain of foreign loans — estimated to be worth $50 billion — for the first time since the country gained independence from the British in 1948.”

“The Bank of England forecast inflation exceeding 10% and predicted negligible growth for the next two years, toppling into months of recession, accompanied by the savage squeeze on living standards.”

“Italy unveiled a hefty package of measures ($14 billion euros) on Monday (May 2, 2022) aimed at shielding firms and families from surging energy costs as the war in Ukraine casts a shadow over the growth prospects of the euro zone’s third largest economy.”

“The Spanish economy was the hardest hit in the euro area by the pandemic, shrinking 11% in 2020 amid tough lockdowns. Two years later, it has still not returned to its pre-virus level.”

“Dutch consumers have never been so pessimistic about the economy.”

“France’s economy unexpectedly grinds to a halt in first quarter.”

“Business environment trends still mostly negative in Latvia.”

“‘We see a big recession in the making’: Top CEOs are fearing the worst in Europe.”

Europe’s Economy is ‘De Facto Stagnating,’ ECB’s Panetta Says.” ECB stands for European Central Bank. Fabio Panetta is an Executive Board member of the ECB.

“S. Korean economy facing growing downside risks.” South Korea is Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

“Depreciating yen threatens Japan’s economy.”

New Zealand: “Recession fears as survey shows record 20 percent of Kiwis plan to cut spending.”

“Australia’s prices surge at fastest pace in two decades.”

“Average Australian worker went backwards by $800 in 2021, says ACTU chief Michele O’Neil.”

“The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) places Costa Rica with the highest unemployment rate in people between 15 and 24 years old (40%), even when comparing us with other countries such as Colombia, Chile and Mexico, which are also part of this organization.”

“Inflation is eroding Latin Americans’ purchasing power.”

“[U.S.] Stock market’s plunge continues on new concerns about global economy.”

“The S&P 500 has dropped 18% so far this year, losing $7 trillion in value.”

“New wave of inflation – and disruptions – hits U.S. factory floors.”

“[In the U.S.] the average price of all grades of gasoline at the pump spiked to a record $4.33 per gallon on Monday, May 9, the third week in a row of increases, and was up 46% from a year ago, edging past the prior record of Monday, March 14 ($4.32), according to the US Energy Department’s EIA late Monday, based on its surveys of gas stations conducted during the day.”

“[In the U.S.] foreclosures surge 181% to highest levels since March 2020.”

Capital-centered economies cannot provide for the needs of all and are instead spiraling out of control with each passing month. Such economies perpetuate insecurity, instability, and anarchy for everyone, no matter which party of the rich is in power. Life is proving that none of the existing institutions and arrangements are capable of sorting out the grave problems confronting millions. “Representative democracy” is not giving rise to conditions that guarantee security, peace, and prosperity for all.

A completely new outlook, vision, thinking, politics, and direction is needed. New arrangements that favor the people are long overdue. The old way of doing things just prolongs misery and insecurity.

Part one of this series appeared on April 10, 2022, part two appeared on April 25, 2022, and part three appeared on May 10, 2022.

 

The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Four first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Three

Below is more data on the continually failing economy and how it is hurting millions across the U.S.

It can be seen from the different parts in this series, as well as other articles on the same topic,1 that there is a dire situation confronting millions of people centuries after the scientific and technical revolution made it possible to easily meet the needs of all.

To be sure, the economy is working mainly for a handful of people and cannot provide for the needs of all. And experience shows that the inability and unwillingness of the ruling elite to fix any major problems will increase in the coming years. This historically superfluous force is blocking the rise of a fresh new alternative that puts human rights center-stage. It is desperate to seize even more of the new value produced by working people no matter how damaging this is to the natural and social environment.

*****

The share of socially-produced wealth owned by the richest 0.00001 percent of Americans, representing only 18 households, has risen by a factor of nearly 10 since 1982.

“Top US corporations are raising prices on Americans even as profits surge.” Big companies and various monopolies routinely engage in price-gouging and price-fixing. The pandemic intensified corporate greed.

The concentration of wealth increased through a record number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in 2021 and are expected to increase in 2022. Global M&A volume exceeded $5 trillion in 2021.

“As inflation soars [now officially over 8 percent], Americans’ confidence in the economy is crumbling.” Many are not hopeful about the future of the economy. In a recent Gallup poll, only 2% of survey respondents felt that the economy was “excellent.” The real inflation rate exceeds 15 percent.

The U.S. Commerce Department recently reported that energy costs are up 34 percent while wage growth continues to lag behind widespread inflation, leaving many Americans behind.

“In March [2022], U.S. consumer sentiment reached its lowest level since 2011, according to the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers, and more households said they expected their finances to worsen than at any time since May 1980.”

“US job openings reached a record 11.5 million in March [2022], according to JOLTS data released Wednesday. That’s up from the 11.3 million seen the month prior and above the forecast for 11 million openings.” The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) comes from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The labor force participation rate was at 62.4% in March [2022], still below the 63.4% rate in February 2020, before the pandemic.”

“Gross domestic product unexpectedly declined at an annual rate of 1.4% during the first three months of the year — the worst quarter for the American economy since the pandemic turned the world upside down in the spring of 2020.”

“[T]he U.S. economy is more leveraged than ever, with the average consumer needing $6,400 a year in debt to maintain the current standard of living.”

MarketWatch and other mainstream news sources report that, “The bond market has crashed” and that this is the worst record for bonds in decades.

“In March of 2021, The Hope Center at Temple University conducted a survey of nearly 200,000 students attending colleges and universities around the country. Nearly three in five students said they experienced basic needs insecurity. Housing insecurity impacted 48% of those students and 14% of them were affected by homelessness.”

Officially, there are “more than 4,000 homeless [k-12] students in Palm Beach County [Florida].” Last year the number was under 3,000. Many “live in cars, parks or abandoned buildings.”

“A report from Rent.com puts a one-bedroom apartment in Miami [Florida] at $2,744 per month, up 21.6% from last year.” This pattern can be found in dozens of other American cities.

U.S. “mortgage rates hit their highest level since 2009.”

“In the six weeks ending April 2, the U.S. hotel industry sold 5.2 million fewer room nights than it did at this time in 2019.”

3.4 million more kids lived in poverty in February [2022] than last December, two months after a monthly check program to parents expired.”

“41.5 million people received SNAP (food stamps) in 2021, up nearly 6 million from 2019.”

“[N]early 20% of U.S. workers reported being bound by noncompete agreements that limited an employee’s ability to join or start up a competing firm, and said employer market power was responsible for keeping wages 15% below where they would be in a perfectly competitive market.”

On top of all this, the stock market, which produces nothing, is more turbulent than ever and recently lost several trillion dollars in paper wealth in the course of just a few days. Unpredictability and anarchy persist. The harsh reality is that economic and social decline continues uninterrupted in many parts of the world, not just the U.S.

An economy dominated by an extremely tiny elite is not going to produce solutions that favor the people. Experience and research show that problems steadily go from bad to worse under existing political and economic arrangements. Participating in outmoded arrangements that were always designed to keep people at arm’s length has not worked, as can be seen from the fact that many serious problems keep going from bad to worse, and the fact that millions feel marginalized, overwhelmed, exhausted, and disempowered today. All the liberal institutions that came into being in the twentieth century are dysfunctional, outmoded, and incapable of giving expression to the claims, will, and interests of the people.

New arrangements based on a new independent politics and a new word outlook are urgently needed. The current neoliberal trajectory is untenable and unsustainable. It only brings more tragedies to the people. Relentlessly begging politicians to do the most basic simple things to affirm the most basic rights is humiliating, exhausting, and preposterous. Democracy should not mean that people beg and chase politicians every day just to “do the right thing.” Such supplication and chasing diverts large amounts of precious attention and energy away from focusing on and building our own collective power, analysis, and actions. It prevents us from relying on ourselves and seeing ourselves as the alternative to the status quo. Getting caught up in the nasty, self-serving, pragmatic, and unprincipled internal politics, shenanigans, and chicanery of the parties of the rich, democratic or republican, will only hinder progress and prolong misery and insecurity for all. It is a non-starter. It is not politically effective. Even incremental and small “breaks” and “wins” are very hard to come by. Why is this the case in 2022 when the problems and necessity for change are so glaring? Why is it so difficult for basic rights to be affirmed?

The existing political set-up blocks the affirmation of the will of the people instead of upholding it and honoring it. Mainstream politicians and their parties are proving to be more irrelevant and ineffective with each passing day.

With democratic renewal it is possible to break free from current arrangements and usher in a new world based on a self-reliant, diverse, and balanced economy that meets the needs of all and thrives without exploitation and oppression.

• Read Part One here; read Part Two here

  1. Many other articles containing extensive facts and statistics on economic and social decline can be found at my Dissident Voice author’s page
The post “Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Three first appeared on Dissident Voice.