Category Archives: Debt

One Degree of Separation: There Will be Parasitic Capitalism’s Blood

This year’s NDEAM theme is prescient: “America’s Recovery – Powered by Inclusion.” October 2021.

The power of acceptance in this diverse world will follow the arc of social justice; however,  it’s a long journey, still, in 2021.

When I was 15, I had to do community service for ripping through the Tucson desert with my unlicensed motorcycle while I had no driver’s license.  For three months, I read poetry, drama and letters to people in the last stages of their lives at a hospice.

When I sat with some of these patients, I was both humbled by and shaken awake to life’s fragility. My favorite person was Gloria, who was on her last stages with a tube running from her 60-pound inoperable tumor to draining ghastly fluids.

We  talked about her days in theater, and I read plays to her, including Shakespeare’s Othello and Sam Shepherd’s, Curse of the Starving Class. I met her 55 year old daughter with Down Syndrome.

Disability, or handicap, and other phrases like terminally ill, vegetative state and bed-ridden flummoxed me into a state of wokeness.

I am still working with drama and engaging people who fit the Disability Month profile: adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

This awareness campaign — started by Congress 33 years ago – is close to my heart since I’ve worked as a trained customized employment specialist, initially with United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon.

This work was in the tri-county Portland area, and successes were high points in my life, probably more so than the clients’ lives. Helping land jobs for people who have challenges and face unimaginable hurdles tied to discrimination, stigmatization and poverty is rewarding.

There have been big changes in how we relate to people living with disabilities; however, prejudice and disenfranchisement are still prevalent. Discrimination against those with a developmental disability is high.

The “National Snapshot of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in the Labor Force” was commissioned by Special Olympics. The facts are sobering:

  • Only 44% of adults with ID aged 21-64 are in the labor force. This is compared to 83% of working-age adults without disabilities who are in the labor force.
  • 21% of working age adults with ID are unemployed. This is compared to less than 8% of adults without disabilities who are unemployed.
  • 28% of working age adults with ID have never held a job.
  • Only 34% of adults with ID aged 21-64 are employed.

In Lincoln County, adults with intellectual disabilities work in  grocery stores, hotels, landscaping businesses, restaurants and other settings. State agencies are committed to making sure adults have the opportunity to work in competitive environments.

However, stigma and unique circumstances make it challenging to get job placement: many with DD/ID can’t work more than PT jobs;  transportation is problematic; and many need a job coach on site to ensure successful day-to-day activities.

Historically, in 1941, National Employ the Physically Handicapped week cracked open the nut. In 1962 “physically” was removed. 1973 harkened the Rehabilitation Act declaring discrimination on the premise of disability was illegal. Then, more headway: Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975).

Thirty years ago, Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, guaranteeing access to work and prohibiting discrimination against individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities.

Today, more families and communities are comprised of an increasing number of people who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Still, today, those wanting integrated employment that have an employment specialist assisting in customized employment face roadblocks.

Cultural change must galvanize this philosophy of “it takes a village to ensure the safety, health and well being for all our fellow citizens.” That means business owners must step up to the plate.

In the words of Mister (Fred)  Rogers himself:  “Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”

2021 NDEAM Poster English

Ahh, that’s the piece coming out in the Newport News Times, above. The reality is I have 750 words to work with, no graphics, and alas, no polemics. And, yes, this concept of disabilities of a wide variety should be on everyone’s minds now, in 2021, the Year of the Jab, the Year of the Long Haul, the Year of Weathering, the Year of the Haves Putting the Screws Down on the Haves Not!

You see, the injuries caused by the felony offenders, Pfizer and their mRNA experimental what not, those are disabilities to be argued over for years to come. Lawyers lines up, judges bought and paid for through the ugly world of Capitalism — adding these prefixes: predatory, usury, chaotic, casino, disruptive, mafia, and so many other terms for this predation and rip-off scam. Structural violence is built into the system, and whether you are injured by glyphosate encrusted foods, or the unending cascade of carcinogens and neuro-toxins put out by the great believers in “better living-chronic illnesses through chemistry”, or injured by the jabs, or the bioweapon that is the perfect triple storm, or just by the endless threat of eviction-incarceration-bankruptcy, homelessness, medical-educational indebtedness, all that Repo that is the Republic, there ain’t no Demon-crat or Repulsive-can to come to anyone’s rescue. Prostitution is honest compared to these continuing criminal enterprise winners in government-big business-big finance-military-tech-Pharma-et al.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles.

Old news:

A GRANT PROPOSAL written by the U.S.-based nonprofit the EcoHealth Alliance and submitted in 2018 to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, provides evidence that the group was working — or at least planning to work — on several risky areas of research. Among the scientific tasks the group described in its proposal, which was rejected by DARPA, was the creation of full-length infectious clones of bat SARS-related coronaviruses and the insertion of a tiny part of the virus known as a “proteolytic cleavage site” into bat coronaviruses. Of particular interest was a type of cleavage site able to interact with furin, an enzyme expressed in human cells.

The EcoHealth Alliance did not respond to inquiries about the document, despite having answered previous queries from The Intercept about the group’s government-funded coronavirus research. The group’s president, Peter Daszak, acknowledged the public discussion of an unfunded EcoHealth proposal in a tweet on Saturday. He did not dispute its authenticity.

Disability — what pray tell is that? There are dozens of chronic illnesses that generate many levels of loss of abilities; i.e., disabilities. I work with all sorts of disabilities, and all sorts of chronic illnesses go hand in hand with disabilities, especially with homeless and those who are fighting addiction and poverty and incarceration. Then, the luck of the roulette wheel — intellectual, developmental and psychiatric disabilities.

Anyway you cut it, this is the Land of Chronic Illnesses. Food and factories, and the filth in prescriptions and in the peddled crap of fast food, junk food, packaged food. The chronic illnesses are at birth, and many are tied to all the hormone disruptors and neurotoxins and gut and brain discombobulations. We are really in a world of hurt, with so many with fatigue, fatty livers, kidney malfunctions, obesity, all the drug injuries from the Pharmaceuticals, and so much more of the pollution, single point source, and all of it mixed together into a veritable pureed mush of poisons in the food, soil, air, water, airwaves and just living in a mass psychosis society. . . . Where the rich, undeserving, celebrity of every dirty kind, play god, and determine who and what and where and why and how we are as people. Elites are the cancer of cancers.

And then, you have this human tick, Trump, and boy what a sick world of people who would never ever let this guy forget who he is — racist, fascist, undeserving, soiled un-Man, Donald Trump (and his followers and bootlickers)

‘The poor guy’

Referring to the 2001 article (published by the Washington Post) at a South Carolina rally on Tuesday night, Mr. Trump called Mr. Kovaleski “a nice reporter”.

“Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy,” he continued, before launching into an apparent impression of Mr. Kovaleski, waving his arms around with his hands at an odd angle.

“Uhh, I don’t know what I said. Uhh, I don’t remember. He’s going like ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.’”

Mr. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, a condition that affects the movement of joints and is noticeable in his right arm and hand.

A New York Times spokeswoman told news site Politico: “We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,”

The original Washington Post article by Mr. Kovaleski said that authorities in Jersey City “detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river”.

Since Mr. Trump’s claims about Muslim Americans celebrating 9/11, the reporter has said he does “not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating”.

Yeah, October, the month when the folks like Fauci and Trump and all the other enablers of pain and disaster capitalism should be set to sea. We all are useless breathers, eaters, walkers, sleepers, in and out of wheelchairs, what have you, to the rich! Hence, the planned demic, bioweapons 6.0. May they all rot in proverbial hell.

LEAKED GRANT PROPOSAL DETAILS HIGH-RISK CORONAVIRUS RESEARCH

The proposal, rejected by U.S. military research agency DARPA, describes the insertion of human-specific cleavage sites into SARS-related bat coronaviruses (source)

Disabilities month, indeed!!!

The post One Degree of Separation: There Will be Parasitic Capitalism’s Blood first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Economic Collapse Continues Uninterrupted

To conceal the economic and social decline that continues to unfold at home and abroad, major newspapers are working overtime to promote happy economic news. Many headlines are irrational and out of touch. They make no sense. Desperation to convince everyone that all is well or all will soon be great is very high. The assault on economic science and coherence is intense. Working in concert, and contrary to the lived experience of millions of people, many newspapers are declaring miraculous “economic growth rates” for country after country. According to the rich and their media, numerous countries are experiencing or are on the cusp of experiencing very strong “come-backs” or “complete recoveries.” Very high rates of annual economic growth, generally not found in any prior period, are being floated regularly. The numbers defy common sense.

In reality, economic and social problems are getting worse nationally and internationally.

“Getting back to the pre-Covid standard will take time,” said Carmen Reinhart, the World Bank’s chief economist. “The aftermath of Covid isn’t going to reverse for a lot of countries. Far from it.” Even this recent statement is misleading because it implies that pre-Covid economic conditions were somehow good or acceptable when things have actually been going downhill for decades. Most economies never really “recovered” from the economic collapse of 2008. Most countries are still running on gas fumes while poverty, unemployment, under-employment, inequality, debt, food insecurity, generalized anxiety, and other problems keep worsening. And today, with millions of people fully vaccinated and trillions of phantom dollars, euros, and yen printed by the world’s central banks, there is still no real and sustained stability, prosperity, security, or harmony. People everywhere are still anxious about the future. Pious statements from world leaders about “fixing” capitalism have done nothing to reverse the global economic decline that started years ago and was intensified by the “COVID Pandemic.”

In the U.S. alone, in real numbers, about 3-4 million people a month have been laid off for 13 consecutive months. At no other time in U.S. history has such a calamity on this scale happened. This has “improved” slightly recently but the number of people being laid off every month remains extremely high and troubling. In New York State, for example:

the statewide [official] unemployment rate remains the second highest in the country at just under 9%. One year after the start of the pandemic and the recession it caused, most of the jobs New York lost still have not come back. (emphasis added, April 2021).

In addition, nationally the number of long-term unemployed remains high and the labor force participation rate remains low. And most new jobs that are “created” are not high-paying jobs with good benefits and security. The so-called “Gig Economy” has beleaguered millions.

Some groups have been more adversely affected than others. In April 2021, U.S. News & World Report conveyed that:

In February 2020, right before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, Black women had an employment to population ratio of 60.8%; that now stands at 54.8%, a drop of 6 percentage points.

The obsolete U.S. economic system has discarded more than half a million black women from the labor force in the past year.

In December 2019, around the time the “COVID Pandemic” began to emerge, Brookings reported that:

An estimated 53 million people—44 percent of all U.S. workers ages 18–64—are low-wage workers. That’s more than twice the number of people in the 10 most populous U.S. cities combined. Their median hourly wage is $10.22, and their median annual earnings are $17,950.

The Federal Reserve reports that 37 percent of Americans in 2019 did not have $400 to cover an unanticipated emergency. In Louisiana alone, 1 out of 5 families today are living at the poverty level.  Sadly, “60% of Americans will live below the official poverty line for at least one year of their lives.” While American billionaires became $1.3 trillion richer, about 8 million Americans joined the ranks of the poor during the “COVID Pandemic.”

And more inflation will make things worse for more people. A March 2021 headline from NBC News reads: “The price of food and gas is creeping higher — and will stay that way for a while.”  ABC News goes further in April 2021 and says that “the post-pandemic economy will include higher prices, worse service, longer delays.”

Homelessness in the U.S. is also increasing:

COVID-driven loss of jobs and employment income will cause the number of homeless workers to increase each year through 2023. Without large-scale, government employment programs the Pandemic Recession is projected to cause twice as much homelessness as the 2008 Great Recession. Over the next four years the current Pandemic Recession is projected to cause chronic homelessness to increase 49 percent in the United States, 68 percent in California and 86 percent in Los Angeles County. [The homeless include the] homeless on the streets, shelter residents and couch surfers. (emphasis added, January 11, 2021)

Perhaps ironically, just “Two blocks from the Federal Reserve, a growing encampment of the homeless grips the economy’s most powerful person [Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell].”

Officially, about four million businesses, including more than 110,000 restaurants, have permanently closed in the U.S. over the past 14 months.  In April 2021 Business Insider stated that, “roughly 80,000 stores are doomed to close in the next 5 years as the retail apocalypse continues to rip through America.”  The real figure is likely higher.

Bankruptcies have also risen in some sectors. For example, bankruptcies by North American oil producers “rose to the highest first-quarter level since 2016.”

In March 2021 the Economic Policy Institute reported that “more than 25 million workers are directly harmed by the COVID labor market.” Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are more than 100 applicants for each job opening in some sectors.

Given the depth and breadth of the economic collapse in the U.S., it is no surprise that “1 in 6 Americans went into therapy for the first time in 2020.” The number of people affected by depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide worldwide as a direct result of the long depression is very high. These harsh facts and realities are also linked to more violence, killings, protests, demonstrations, social unrest, and riots worldwide.

In terms of physical health, “Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults report undesired weight changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began.” This will only exacerbate the diabetes pandemic that has been ravaging more countries every year.

On another front, the Pew Research Center informs us that, as a result of the economic collapse that has unfolded over the past year, “A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression.”   And it does not help that student debt now exceeds $1.7 trillion and is still climbing rapidly.

Millions of college faculty have also suffered greatly over the past year. A recent survey by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) found that:

real wages for full-time faculty decreased for the first time since the Great Recession[in 2008], and average wage growth for all ranks of full-time faculty was the lowest since the AAUP began tracking annual wage growth in 1972. After adjusting for inflation, real wages decreased at over two-thirds of colleges and universities. The number of full-time faculty decreased at over half of institutions.

This does not account for the thousands of higher education adjuncts (part-time faculty) and staff that lost their jobs permanently.

In April 2021, the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities stated that, “millions of people are still without their pre-pandemic income sources and are borrowing to get by.” Specifically:

  • 54 million adults said they didn’t use regular income sources like those received before the pandemic to meet their spending needs in the last seven days.
  • 50 million used credit cards or loans to meet spending needs.
  • 20 million borrowed from friends or family. (These three groups overlap.)

Also in April 2021, the Washington Post wrote:

The pandemic’s disruption has created inescapable financial strain for many Americans. Nearly 2 of 5 of adults have postponed major financial decisions, from buying cars or houses to getting married or having children, due to the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey last week from Bankrate.com. Among younger adults, ages 18 to 34, some 59 percent said they had delayed a financial milestone. (emphasis added)

According to Monthly Review:

The U.S. economy has seen a long-term decline in capacity utilization in manufacturing, which has averaged 78 percent from 1972 to 2019—well below levels that stimulate net investment. (emphasis added, January 1, 2021).

Capitalist firms will not invest in new ventures or projects when there is little or no profit to be made, which is why major owners of capital are engaged in even more stock market manipulation than ever before. “Casino capitalism” is intensifying. This, in turn, is giving rise to even larger stock market bubbles that will eventually burst and wreak even more havoc than previous stock market crashes. The inability to make profit through normal investment channels is also why major owners of capital are imposing more public-private “partnerships” (PPPs) on people and society through neoliberal state restructuring. Such pay-the-rich schemes further marginalize workers and exacerbate inequality, debt, and poverty. PPPs solve no problems and must be replaced by human-centered economic arrangements.

The International Labor Organization estimates that the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs have been lost globally as a result of government actions over the past 13-14 months.

In March of this year, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reported that, “Acute hunger is set to soar in over 20 countries in the coming months without urgent and scaled-up assistance.” The FAO says, “”The magnitude of suffering is alarming.”

And according to Reuters, “Overall, global FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] had collapsed in 2020, falling by 42% to an estimated $859 billion, from $1.5 trillion in 2019, according to the UNCTAD report.” UNCTAD stands for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The international organization Oxfam tells us that:

The coronavirus pandemic has the potential to lead to an increase in inequality in almost every country at once, the first time this has happened since records began…. Billionaire fortunes returned to their pre-pandemic highs in just nine months, while recovery for the world’s poorest people could take over a decade. (emphasis added, January 25, 2021)

According to the World Bank, “The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed about 120 million people into extreme poverty over the last year in mostly low- and middle-income countries.”  And despite the roll-out of vaccines in various countries:

the economic implications of the pandemic are deep and far-reaching. It is ushering in a “new poor” profile that is more urban, better educated, and reliant on informal sector work such as construction, relative to the existing global poor (those living on less than $1.90/day) who are more rural and heavily reliant on agriculture. (emphasis added)

Another source notes that:

Pew Research Center, using World Bank data, has estimated that the number of poor in India (with income of $2 per day or less in purchasing power parity) has more than doubled from 60 million to 134 million in just a year due to the pandemic-induced recession. This means, India is back in a situation to be called a “country of mass poverty” after 45 years. (emphasis added)

In Europe, there is no end in sight to the economic decline that keeps unfolding. The United Kingdom, for example, experienced its worst economy in literally 300 years:

The economy in the U.K. contracted 9.9 percent in 2020, the worst year on record since 1709, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a report on Friday (Feb. 12). The overall economic drop in 2020 was more than double in 2009, when U.K. GDP declined 4.1 percent due to the worldwide financial crisis. Britain experienced the biggest annual decline among the G7 economies — France saw its economy decline 8.3 percent, Italy dropped 8.8 percent, Germany declined 5 percent and the U.S. contracted 3.5 percent. (emphasis added)

Another source also notes that, “The Eurozone is being haunted by ‘ghost bankruptcies,’ with more than 200,000 firms across the European Union’s four biggest nations under threat when Covid financial lifelines stop.” In another sign of economic decline, this time in Asia, Argus Media reported in April 2021 that Japan’s 2020-21 crude steel output fell to a 52-year low.

Taken alone, on a country-by-country basis, these are not minor economic downturns, but when viewed as a collective cumulative global phenomenon, the consequences are more serious. It is a big problem when numerous economies decline simultaneously. The world is more interdependent and interconnected than ever. What happens in one region necessarily affects other regions.

One could easily go country by country and region by region and document many tragic economic developments that are still unfolding and worsening. Argentina, Lebanon, Colombia, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Jordan, South Africa, Nigeria, and dozens of other countries are all experiencing major economic setbacks and hardships that will take years to overcome and will negatively affect the economies of other countries in an increasingly interdependent world. And privatization schemes around the world are just making conditions worse for the majority of people. Far from solving any problems, neoliberalism has made everything worse for working people and society.

It is too soon for capitalist ideologues to be euphoric about “miraculous economic growth and success.” There is no meaningful evidence to show that there is deep, significant, sustained economic growth on a broad scale. There is tremendous economic carnage and pain out there, and the scarring and consequences are going to linger for some time. No one believes that a big surge of well-paying jobs is right around the corner. Nor does anyone believe that more schemes to pay the rich under the banner of high ideals will improve things either.

Relentless disinformation about the economy won’t solve any problems or convince people that they are not experiencing what they are experiencing. Growing poverty, hunger, homelessness, unemployment, under-employment, debt, inequality, anxiety, and insecurity are real and painful. They require real solutions put forward by working people, not major owners of capital concerned only with maximizing private profit as fast as possible.

The economy cannot improve and serve a pro-social aim and direction so long as those who produce society’s wealth, workers, are disempowered and denied any control of the economy they run. Allowing major decisions to be made by a historically superfluous financial oligarchy is not the way forward. The rich and their representatives are unfit to rule and have no real solutions for the recurring crises caused by their outmoded system. They are focused mainly on depriving people of an outlook that opens the path of progress to society.

There is no way for the massive wealth of society to be used to serve the general interests of society so long as the contradiction between the socialized nature of the economy and its continued domination by competing private interests remain unresolved. All we are left with are recurring economic crises that take a bigger and bigger toll on humanity. To add insult to injury, we are told that there is no alternative to this outdated system, and that the goal is to strive for “inclusive capitalism,” “ethical capitalism,” “responsible capitalism,” or some other oxymoron.

But there is an alternative. Existing conditions do not have to be eternal or tolerated. History shows that conditions that favor the people can be established. The rich must be deprived of their ability to deprive the people of their rights, including the right to govern their own affairs and control the economy. The economy, government, nation-building, and society must be controlled and directed by the people themselves, free of the influence of narrow private interests determined to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone and everything else.

The rich and their political and media representatives are under great pressure to distort social consciousness, undermine the human factor, and block progress. The necessity for change is for humanity to rise up and usher in a modern society that ensures prosperity, stability, and peace for all. It can be done and must be done.

The post Economic Collapse Continues Uninterrupted first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Financial Tyranny: Footing the Tax Bill for the Government’s Fiscal Insanity

We’re not living the American dream. We’re living a financial nightmare.

The U.S. government—and that includes the current administration—is spending money it doesn’t have on programs it can’t afford, and “we the taxpayers” are the ones who will be forced to foot the bill for the government’s fiscal insanity.

We’ve been sold a bill of goods by politicians promising to pay down the national debt, jumpstart the economy, rebuild our infrastructure, secure our borders, ensure our security, and make us all healthy, wealthy and happy.

None of that has come to pass, and yet we’ve still been loaded down with debt not of our own making.

This financial tyranny works the same whether it’s a Democrat or Republican at the helm.

Let’s talk numbers, shall we?

The national debt (the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back) is $28 trillion and growing. That translates to roughly $224,000 per taxpayer.

The government’s answer to the COVID-19 pandemic has been to throw more money at the problem in the form of stimulus checks, small business loans, unemployment benefits, vaccine funding, and financial bailouts for corporations. All told, the federal government’s COVID-19 spending has exceeded $4 trillion.

The Biden administration is proposing another $2 trillion in infrastructure spending.

The amount this country owes is now greater than its gross domestic product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). And the top two foreign countries who “own” about a third of our debt are China and Japan.

That debt is also growing exponentially: it is expected to be twice the size of the U.S. economy by 2051.

Essentially, the U.S. government is funding its very existence with a credit card.

We’re paying more than $300 billion in interest every year on that public debt, not including what COVID-19 just added to the bill. That breaks down to more than $2400 per household.

According to the Committee for a Reasonable Federal Budget, the interest we’re paying on this borrowed money is “nearly twice what the federal government will spend on transportation infrastructure, over four times as much as it will spend on K-12 education, almost four times what it will spend on housing, and over eight times what it will spend on science, space, and technology.”

Clearly, the national debt isn’t going away anytime soon, especially not with government spending on the rise and interest payments making up such a large chunk of the budget.

Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its wanton spending.

Indeed, the national deficit (the difference between what the government spends and the revenue it takes in) is expected to be $2.3 trillion for fiscal 2021.

If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now.

Despite the government propaganda being peddled by the politicians and news media, however, the government isn’t spending our tax dollars to make our lives better.

We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer.

This is nothing less than financial tyranny.

“We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America.

In the eyes of the government, “we the people, the voters, the consumers, and the taxpayers” are little more than pocketbooks waiting to be picked.

Consider: The government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes. Government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing. And the IRS insists on getting the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.

We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow.

We have no real say, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.

It wasn’t always this way, of course.

Early Americans went to war over the inalienable rights described by philosopher John Locke as the natural rights of life, liberty and property.

It didn’t take long, however—a hundred years, in fact—before the American government was laying claim to the citizenry’s property by levying taxes to pay for the Civil War. As the New York Times reports, “Widespread resistance led to its repeal in 1872.”

Determined to claim some of the citizenry’s wealth for its own uses, the government reinstituted the income tax in 1894. Charles Pollock challenged the tax as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Pollock’s victory was relatively short-lived. Members of Congress—united in their determination to tax the American people’s income—worked together to adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the Pollock decision.

On the eve of World War I, in 1913, Congress instituted a permanent income tax by way of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and the Revenue Act of 1913. Under the Revenue Act, individuals with income exceeding $3,000 could be taxed starting at 1% up to 7% for incomes exceeding $500,000.

It’s all gone downhill from there.

Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes.

While we’re struggling to get by, and making tough decisions about how to spend what little money actually makes it into our pockets after the federal, state and local governments take their share (this doesn’t include the stealth taxes imposed through tolls, fines and other fiscal penalties), the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.

To top it all off, all of those wars the U.S. is so eager to fight abroad are being waged with borrowed funds. As The Atlantic reports, “U.S. leaders are essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

Of course, we’re the ones who will have to repay that borrowed debt.

For instance, American taxpayers have been forced to shell out more than $5.6 trillion since 9/11 for the military industrial complex’s costly, endless so-called “war on terrorism.” That translates to roughly $23,000 per taxpayer to wage wars abroad, occupy foreign countries, provide financial aid to foreign allies, and fill the pockets of defense contractors and grease the hands of corrupt foreign dignitaries.

Mind you, that staggering $6 trillion is only a portion of what the Pentagon spends on America’s military empire.

The United States also spends more on foreign aid than any other nation ($50 billion in 2017 alone). More than 150 countries around the world receive U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance, with most of the funds going to the Middle East, Africa and Asia. That price tag keeps growing, too.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in a 1953 speech, this is how the military industrial complex will continue to get richer, while the American taxpayer will be forced to pay for programs that do little to enhance our lives, ensure our happiness and well-being, or secure our freedoms.

This is no way of life.

Yet it’s not just the government’s endless wars that are bleeding us dry.

We’re also being forced to shell out money for surveillance systems to track our movements, money to further militarize our already militarized police, money to allow the government to raid our homes and bank accounts, money to fund schools where our kids learn nothing about freedom and everything about how to comply, and on and on.

It’s tempting to say that there’s little we can do about it, except that’s not quite accurate.

There are a few things we can do (demand transparency, reject cronyism and graft, insist on fair pricing and honest accounting methods, call a halt to incentive-driven government programs that prioritize profits over people), but it will require that “we the people” stop playing politics and stand united against the politicians and corporate interests who have turned our government and economy into a pay-to-play exercise in fascism.

Unfortunately, we’ve become so invested in identity politics that pit us against one another and keep us powerless and divided that we’ve lost sight of the one label that unites us: we’re all Americans.

Trust me, we’re all in the same boat, folks, and there’s only one real life preserver: that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution starts with those three powerful words: “We the people.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, there is power in our numbers. That remains our greatest strength in the face of a governmental elite that continues to ride roughshod over the populace. It remains our greatest defense against a government that has claimed for itself unlimited power over the purse (taxpayer funds) and the sword (military might).

Where we lose out is when we fall for the big-talking politicians who spend big at our expense.

The post Financial Tyranny: Footing the Tax Bill for the Government’s Fiscal Insanity first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ring Out The Old: Ring In The Old

While our sacred democracy was allegedly being served by a stupid attempt to unsuccessfully impeach an ex-president for the second time and essentially tell more than 70 million Americans that they might as well vote for Pavlov, FDR, Hitler or Oprah Winfrey since any alleged exercise of supposed freedom on their part would be meaningless in the rape of language we call a democracy. You know, the one with a billionaire class getting richer by the second and Americans across the board sinking lower by the minute. But enough good news, let’s move on to the even better signs of our political economic progress against logic, morality and majority rule, something that vanished in practice the moment our euro ancestors arrived and the people who’d lived here for millennia were brutally forced out of their homelands.

The world’s most expensive medical wealth-care system has killed more than 500,000 Americans while we’re being told that China has only created protection for its people that makes us look like bloodthirsty private profit fanatics because it is run by authoritarians and isn’t a sacred democracy like ours. You know, the one where your vote and mine are equal to the vote of any billionaire, if you believe nose picking is a way to perform a self lobotomy or you are a venture capitalist interested in a start up called Butt Coin which operates on a revolutionary AI system (Amoral Intelligence) called Blockhead. Its stock just went up 23 billion points ten minutes ago so as soon as your Mindlessness class ends, college graduates should start investing and show just how good your education was and how strong your belief is in capitalist democracy. After all, how can any formally indoctrinated American not appreciate the incredible logic of our free market in which milk is more expensive than gasoline. What could make more economic sense? Milk comes from a cow, which produces more of it on a daily basis while petroleum takes millions of years to reproduce its supply. Even without consideration of either ones affect on the environment, that makes at least as much sense as nose picking self-lobotomies.

Or are you one of those deplorables concerned about our environment and the market green profit ventures said to be our only hope for moderate and therefore useless long-term change to save humanity and not just its upper classes? Who is most responsible for creating the destruction of nature reduced to a branding title of Climate Change? A menacing American socialist gang has pointed out that the wealthiest billion people on earth produce 60% of greenhouse gases while the poorest billion produce only 5%. But who can trust a murderous institution like The National Academy of Sciences? Worse, another unholy representative of global communism reports that the tens of trillions of dollars in debt carried by earth residents collectively – whether we like it or not – represent a threat to the entire human race while the 2,000 richest people on earth have amassed more wealth than 4.5 billon human beings combined. But who can believe a communist conglomeration of the richest institutions on earth and calling itself The World Bank?

Both institutions were talking about something much bigger than the egocentric American chosen people mythology since we play a major role in creating that inequality but also suffering it, with a public debt of 19 trillion and private debt of 27 trillion. And if we believe, as too many of us still do, in what consciousness control and its professional staff of mind managers tell us, it’s all due to greedy union labor getting far too much in wages, salaries and pensions while a struggling investor class has to wait anxious moments for their deliveries of pet food, cosmetics, weapons, bitcoins, jewelry, and leisure wear. And this with union membership which has been dwindling for the past forty years under assault by minority capital while the affluent top ten percent has seen its wealth skyrocket with the support of that same minority. Isn’t the free market a marvel of democracy? Yes, if you are among those who find rape a cost effective form of dating that avoids dinner and a movie and gets right to the sex.

While pondering this, be sure to participate in a round of democratic marketing called the 2022 elections with requests for money – the real stuff of our financially sacred democracy – coming along with any and all messages about how we need to elect progressives or regressives to maintain the system of two party politics that makes sure the capitalist market continues setting us against one another to prevent us from ever uniting as a people and not a collection of reduced-to-less-than human minorities who compete with one another across identity groups with common interest hidden by the tiniest minority in the country: the incredibly richest of the rich and their wealthy – and diverse –   servant class.

The warfare state continues without the fiery if intellectually empty rhetoric of the last president replaced by the most recent who quietly, if he had any idea what the hell was going on, presided over another bombing of a foreign country- Syria- to protect American lives. Those not yet reduced to total brain death under the abuse of consciousness by anti-social corporate and personal media might well ask: what the hell are Americans doing in Syria? And if there are Syrians in America does Syria now have the right to bomb America in their defense? But logic has no place in our government market where laws of political supply and demand assure continued profits for the tiny ruling minority and its well-paid servants in corporate business. The real menace, we are warned by the triumphant sector of the ruling class representing the best educated bigots in America, are terrifying groups with names that make them sound like gay dance troupes. Of course, the horrible fears we are taught to react to when told of blood thirsty white supremacist* groups like the “Proud Boys” are nothing compared to the corporate investor class which would never dream of attacking our revered national capital: they already own it.

Make no mistake, the new team at the helm of our titanic ship of state isn’t nearly as dumb, domestically, as the last egotist led cabal with a leader who at least spoke like a populist while acting like a pampered rich brat. But the warfare state in which Israel exercises far more power in our sacred democracy than the average American citizen, will continue and hundreds of billions of our tax dollars will be rubber stamped by a hired staff of corporadoes in order to fend off alleged menaces like China, which has ended urban poverty in a population of more than 850 million, three times greater than our total, while we suffer rising poverty among millions of families in a population of less than 330 million. Quick, more bombs, death rays, drones, and especially propaganda from our free press which is available for a price, like the bombs, pet food, health care, entertainment, sports and democracy like no other in the world.

We have a new board of directors which still serves the same corporation with an experienced if nearly addle pated leader replacing the most dangerous one ever in that he bluntly acted as the boorish at best murderous at worst executive of an imperial danger to humanity masked as a democracy by psycho-neurotic therapists and other professionals. Every few years we are indulged in moving from fundamentalist theologians of the market-church to fundamentalist economists of the church-market and we call that belief system our democracy. Who else can perform self-lobotomies and pay more for milk than gasoline? Just wait until the pandemic is overcome, more likely if we asked China to help us organize a more cooperative than individualistic gang of identity groups, each with beliefs that it transcends humanity and will best be served by accepting slavery as long as it works in the house and not in the fields. No wonder China is such a menace to the gods of capital when it ought to be a lesson to the people of earth. Especially Americans who are propagandized by their mind managers to mind too many other people’s business in imperial fashion while being told it’s all about democracy. You know, like cheap gas, self-lobotomies and all that other good stuff. The real thing and the demand for it is growing, worldwide, and the sooner we end our alienated domination and begin working together as members of the one and only human race, the better for the future.

And that future cannot be run, as it still is, for the benefit of private profit but for the public good.

* White supremacist and white privilege are among the favorite all-encompassing labels attached to lesser beings by people of higher intellectual and moral awareness made obvious by the fact that they are all members of the more privileged bigot class.

The post Ring Out The Old: Ring In The Old first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Vaccinations and Stimulus Packages Won’t Mend the Economy

The social and economic destruction engulfing the U.S. and dozens of other countries remains out of everyone’s control and more chaos, instability, and insecurity now mark the global landscape.

The ruling elite have repeatedly shown their inability to tackle any serious problems effectively. They are at a loss for how to deal with current problems and refuse to consider any alternative to their obsolete economic system. The best they can do is recycle old ideas to maintain their class power and privilege. Their efforts to block the New focus mainly on promoting disinformation about “new and better forms of capitalism,” including oxymorons like “inclusive capitalism,” “responsible capitalism,” and “ethical capitalism.”

Since the outbreak of the “COVID Pandemic” in March 2020 every week has been a roller coaster for humanity. The economy and society keep lurching from one crisis to another while incoherence and stress keep amplifying. It is said that 1 in 6 Americans went into therapy for the first time in 2020.

Unemployment, under-employment, inequality, mental depression, anxiety, suicide, environmental decay, inflation, debt, health care costs, education, and poverty are worsening everywhere. Thousands of businesses that have been around for years keep disappearing left and right.

Top-down actions in response to the “COVID Pandemic” have made so many things worse for so many people. Many are wondering which is worse: the covid-19 virus or the top-down response to the pandemic. Governments everywhere have steadfastly refused to mobilize the people to solve the many problems that are worsening. The moral climate is low and more people are worried about the future.

An atmosphere has been created whereby people are supposed to feel like the exhausting “COVID Pandemic” will last forever and we can all forget about getting back to any normal healthy non-digital relations, activities, and interactions. No society in history has worn face masks for an entire year. We are told over and over again that there is no returning to anything called “normal.” Moving everything online and repeatedly asserting that this is great, “cool,” and wonderful is proving to be unsatisfactory and unfulfilling. People want and need real, direct, non-digital connections and interactions with other human beings. Life behind a screen is not life.

Even with all the restrictions and shutdowns the virus, according to the mainstream media, continues to wreak havoc at home and abroad. It is almost like none of the severe restrictions on people’s freedoms made any difference. People have had to endure this humiliation while also not being permitted any role in deciding the aim, operation, and direction of the economy or any of the affairs of society; they are left out of the equation every step of the way and not even asked for superficial “input” that always goes unheeded anyway. Existing governance arrangements are simply not working to empower people or affirm their rights. The people’s interests and will are blocked at every turn by an outdated political setup that advances only the narrow interests of the rich.

Despite intense pressure to blindly rely on the rich and their political representatives to “figure things out,” this is not working. Nor does it help that the mainstream media approaches multiple crises and issues with endless double-talk, disconnected facts, catchy sound-bites, dramatic exaggerations, angry voices, political axe-grinding, and lots of confusion. Coherence and a human-centered outlook are avoided at all costs. People are constantly left disoriented. Jumping arbitrarily and rapidly from one thing to another in the most unconscious way is presented as useful analysis and information. This is why sorting out basic information has become a full-time job for everyone. People are understandably worn-out and overwhelmed. Disinformation overload degrades mental, emotional, and physical health.

The world has become an uglier and gloomier place—all in the name of “improving health.” It is no surprise that a recent Gallup Poll shows that the majority of Americans are extremely dissatisfied with government, the economy, the culture, and the moral climate.

In this hazardous unstable context, there are two ever-present key pieces of disinformation operating side by side. Both are designed to deprive working people of any say, initiative, outlook, or power.

First there is the “once everyone is vaccinated things will be much better” disinformation. This ignores the fact that capitalist crises have endogenous causes not exogenous causes and that the economic crisis started well before the “COVID Pandemic.” More than 150 years of recessions, depressions, booms, busts, instability, chaos, and anarchy have not been caused by external phenomena like bacteria, germs, and viruses but by the internal logic and operation of capital itself. A so-called “free market” economy by its very nature and logic ensures “winners” and “losers,” “booms” and “busts.” It is called a “dog-eat-dog” fend-for-yourself competitive world for a reason. The modern idea that humans are born to society and have rights by virtue of their being is alien to “free market” ideology.

Despite the fact that millions have been vaccinated at home and abroad, poverty, inequality, unemployment, debt, and other problems continue to worsen. Businesses continue to suffer and disappear. Hospitality, leisure, recreation, and other sectors have been decimated in many countries. Air travel is dramatically lower. So are car sales. It is not enough to say, “Yes, the next few months will be rough and lousy economically speaking but we will get there with more vaccinations. Just be patient, it will all eventually work out.” This is not what is actually unfolding. The all-sided crisis we find ourselves in started before the “COVID Pandemic” and continues unabated. Such a view also makes a mockery of economic science and the people’s desire to decide the affairs of society and establish much better arrangements that exclude narrow private interests and do not rely on police powers.

In the coming months millions more will be vaccinated but economic decline and decay will continue. Both the rate and amount of profit have been falling for years. And owners of capital are not going to invest in anything when there is no profit to be had and when it is easier instead to balloon fictitious capital and pretend everything is a stock market video game. The lack of vaccinations did not cause the economic collapse the word is currently suffering through, nor will more vaccinations reverse economic decline and decay. The “COVID Pandemic” has largely made some people vastly richer and millions more much poorer. The “COVID Pandemic” has significantly increased inequality. Unfortunately, the so-called “Great Reset” agenda of the World Economic Forum and Pope Francis’s recent call for a “Copernican Revolution” in the economy will make things worse for millions more because they will perpetuate the existing moribund economic system. Such agendas are designed to fool the gullible, block working class consciousness and action, and keep the initiative in the hands of the global oligarchy.

The same applies to so-called “stimulus packages.” Various versions of these top-down monetary and fiscal programs have been launched in different countries, and while they have assuaged some problems for people, they have not been adequate or fixed any underlying problems. They have not prevented poverty or mass unemployment. Economies remain mired in crisis. In most cases “stimulus packages” have made things worse by increasing the amount of debt that many generations will have to repay. This is in addition to the many other forms of debt Americans suffer from and rent payments that will one day have to be paid.

Many are also wondering why trillions of dollars can be printed and instantly turned over to the banks and corporations with no discussion but the same cannot be done for social programs, public enterprises, and the people. Why, for example, can all not get free healthcare or have taxes eliminated? Why can’t various forms of personal debt be wiped out instantly? If the government can print money for “them” why can’t they print money for “us”? Who is government supposed to serve? Billionaires?

Nether the CARES Act of 2020 nor the stimulus package passed in December 2020 nor the one President Biden is pushing for in March 2021 will be adequate or solve any major problems. Many felt that the $600 stimulus checks that went out in December 2020 were pathetic and insulting.

The problem lies with a socialized productive economy run by everyone but owned and controlled by a tiny handful of competing private interests determined to maximize profit as fast as possible regardless of the damage to the social and natural environment. There is no way for the economy to benefit all individuals and serve the general interests of society so long as it is dominated by a handful of billionaires. The social wealth produced by workers cannot benefit workers and the society if workers themselves do not control the wealth they produce and have first claim to.

The outlook, agenda, and reference points of the rich must be rejected and replaced by a human-centered aim, agenda, direction, and outlook. The current trajectory is untenable and unsustainable. The situation is dangerous in many ways, but perhaps one good thing to come out of the accelerated pace of chaos, anarchy, and instability are the contradictions that are presenting new opportunities for action with analysis that favors working people.

The post Vaccinations and Stimulus Packages Won’t Mend the Economy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will More Police-State Arrangements Foster Democracy?

The events of January 6, 2021 in Washington D.C. were historic and will be analyzed for some time to come. Many were rattled and shaken to their core by what unfolded that day in the nation’s capital. Others were excited, relieved, and hopeful.

Since then, all sorts of disinformation, confusion, and illusions have filled mainstream accounts of what happened that day and why, but it is already clear that certain things are emerging that once again do not bode well for the people. It is always important to ask: “when a major event happens, who ultimately ends up benefitting from it?”

As with past events and crises, and keeping in mind the role and significance of “disaster capitalism,” it is not unreasonable to assume that the events of January 6, 2021 will be used by the rich and their political and media representatives to expand police-state arrangements under the banner of high ideals (e.g., “protecting the citadel of democracy” and “our democracy is in peril”). The irony of the situation did not escape numerous world leaders and millions around the globe who proclaimed in unison: “Finally the U.S. is getting a taste of its own medicine. The U.S. has actively organized ruthless coups, conflicts, wars, rebellions, and insurrections in more than 100 countries over the past 200 years.” For many, the events of January 6 further lowered the credibility of “representative democracy” in the “bastion of democracy.”

Further degrading the legitimacy of outmoded governance arrangements, the world saw how Washington D.C. was recently turned into a large military camp with armed soldiers and armed state agents everywhere. Many police and military forces will remain in and around the area well after the January 2021 presidential inauguration and contribute to establishing a “new normal” of police presence. How does this look at home and abroad? Like a robust vibrant democracy which is the envy of the world, or a scandalous troubling situation? The massive militarization of Washington D.C. has only added to the dystopian, humiliating, and bizarre life everyone has been forced to endure since March 2020 when the never-ending and exhausting “COVID Pandemic” started in earnest.

But contrary to media accounts the struggle today is not between democrats and republicans. It is not between those who support Trump or revile him. It is not between racists versus anti-racists, pro-diversity or anti-diversity advocates, or “progressives” versus “right-wingers.” Nor is it between “right-wing thugs” versus the police, or ANTIFA versus right-wing militias. These are facile dichotomies that consolidate anticonsciousness and further divide the polity. Such superficial characterizations miss the profound significance of what is unfolding—an intense legitimacy crisis—and the fact that no one is talking about how to empower the people as sharp conflicts among factions of the ruling elite intensify and ensnare people. Ramzy Baroud reminded us recently that:

While mainstream US media has conveniently attributed all of America’s ills to the unruly character of outgoing President Donald Trump, the truth is not quite so convenient. The US has been experiencing an unprecedented political influx at every level of society for years, leading us to believe that the rowdy years of Trump’s Presidency were a mere symptom, not the cause, of America’s political instability.

In the current fractured, chaotic, and dangerous context, all manner of inflammatory and provocative remarks are still being made by a range of politicians, media outlets, and “leaders.” Words like “treason,” “insurrection,” “violent mob,” “coup,” “rebellion,” and “sedition” are being thrown around loosely and quickly. There is no sense of how such discourse takes us all further down a dangerous road. Different individuals, groups, and factions are being lumped into overly-simplistic categories and classifications while ignoring the long-standing marginalization of the polity as a whole and the continued failure of “representative democracy.”

In this foggy context, it can be easy to forget that whether you are a democrat, republican, or something else, the economy and society are not operating in your interests. Debt, poverty, inequality, hunger, homelessness, unemployment, under-employment, stock market bubbles, environmental decay, and generalized anxiety continue to worsen nationwide and harm Americans of all political stripes while the rich get much richer much faster. Existing governance arrangements marginalize more than 95 percent of people. Working people have no real mechanism to effectively advance their interests in the current political setup. They are reduced to perpetually begging politicians and “leaders” to do the most basic things. There is an urgent need for democratic renewal.

In the coming months we will not only see more economic collapse but also more police-state arrangements put in place in the name of “security” and “democracy.” A main focus will be “domestic terrorism,” leading to the further restriction of freedom of speech and criminalization of dissent. Freedom of movement will also be constrained. This will be far-reaching, affecting everyone, even those currently throwing around words like “sedition,” “coup,” and “insurrection.” Already, the atmosphere has been chilled; many are more carefully self-monitoring their speech and actions so as to not be targeted by the state.

At the end of the day, conflicts, divisions, social unrest, political turmoil, and economic deterioration will not go away so long as the existing authority clashes with the prevailing conditions and the demands emerging from these conditions. Objective conditions are screaming for modernization and solutions that the rich and their entourage are unable and unwilling to provide.

Unemployment, under-employment, hunger, homelessness, poverty, debt, inequality, despair, and generalized anxiety do not care if you are black or white, democrat or republican, right-wing or left-wing, a “Trumper” or “anti-Trumper.” Concrete conditions are screaming for the affirmation of basic rights like the right to food, shelter, education, healthcare, work, and security.

Their struggles and demands may take different forms and express themselves in different ways, but it is the long-standing absence of these rights that people from all walks of life are striving to bring into being.

And while their policies may differ in some respects, the different factions of the rich and their political representatives have only more of the same to offer people: more inequality, more debt, more under-employment, more worry and insecurity, more stock market bubbles, and more empty promises. Lofty phrases and grand “plans” from the rich and their representatives won’t change the aim and direction of the economy. People are not going to suddenly become empowered because one party of the rich or the other holds power now. Divisions, dissatisfaction, and marginalization are not going to disappear just because a different section of the rich wields power. Many believe that the road ahead will be very rocky.

Democratic renewal does not favor the rich or their representatives, it is something only working people themselves will benefit from and have to collectively fight for. In this regard, it is key to consciously reject the aims, outlook, views, and agenda of the rich and develop a new independent aim, politics, outlook, and agenda that favors the polity and the public interest.

The post Will More Police-State Arrangements Foster Democracy? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Vaccine Will Not Reverse Economic Problems

No matter how many vaccines are rush-produced by large for-profit corporations with a long record of malpractice, vaccines will not reverse severe economic deterioration because the economic collapse, nationally and internationally, was not caused by any virus.1

The economic depression that is unfolding was a long time in the making and was accelerated and intensified by the “COVID Pandemic” but not the direct result of it. A severe economic collapse was going to take place with or without a virus. If anything, the virus provided convenient cover for what was inevitable.

It is well-known that the unplanned chaotic capitalist economic system habitually goes through violent upheavals, leaving millions perpetually insecure, poor, unemployed, and stressed. This is not news to anyone. Equally disturbing, we are routinely told that the so-called “business cycle” is inevitable and normal—just a “natural” part of life, as if the economy is beyond human comprehension and conscious control. There is supposedly no alternative to the “invisible hand” of the so-called “free market” regularly wreaking havoc on us. We are all to feel helpless against “forces larger than us.” We are to believe that there is no economic science that can ensure stability and prosperity for all. The “law of the jungle” is allegedly the best humanity can muster and no alternative to this inhuman system is to be considered.

Long after vaccines have come and gone the economy will continue to deteriorate because the economy is in the hands of competing owners of capital who treat the socialized economy as theirs to plunder for private gain, no matter the damage to the social and natural environment. The tendency for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer was going on for decades before the “COVID Pandemic” and will continue so long as those who actually produce the wealth in society remain disempowered and marginalized, alienated from and unable to deploy the very wealth they produce for the benefit of society.

Economic crises, recessions, and depressions—including wars—are usually how the obsolete capitalist economic system temporarily “resets” itself before crashing again. During periods of over-production and under-consumption, labor and production are destroyed until a “new zero” can be established. “De-leveraging” has to take place, sometimes for years, before capitalism can establish a temporary “new equilibrium” again. Carnage is unavoidable in this historically-exhausted economic system that privileges a tiny ruling elite. The problem is that each crisis, recession, and depression sets the stage for a deeper crisis, recession, and depression the next time. Just look at the number of long-term unemployed, inequality, the labor force participation rate, the number of homeless, the “gig economy,” and debt at all levels. All keep steadily worsening, leaving many anxious about the future. In June 2020 the Congressional Budget Office went so far as to say it would take ten years to return to pre-pandemic economic conditions, which were not that great to begin with. Recall as well that after the 2008 economic collapse most countries ran on gas fumes for years, there was no real and meaningful “comeback” for most countries. International imperialist organizations like the IMF and World Bank continually revised not-so-rosy growth predictions downward. The economy has been stagnant and lackluster for a long time and this is not about to suddenly change in the final and highest stage of capitalism. Without organized working class resistance, more parasitism and decay is in store for the economy. The rich and their representatives have no solutions.

The economy will not serve people and the general interests of society until there is a change in the aim, direction, and control of the economy. It does not matter what “plan” is put forward by establishment politicians or “leaders.” So long as maximizing profits as fast as possible for a tiny ruling elite and depriving workers of any say in anything remains the norm, problems will keep going from bad to worse. Things will not magically improve on their own or when left in the hands of a few billionaires. There is no scenario in which the economy serves people and society while the actual producers of wealth remain sidelined and removed from the levers of power. Lofty words, phrases, and promises from politicians and “leaders” are designed to dupe the gullible and prevent people from engaging in action with analysis that favors them. The rich and their representatives do not want people to break free from capital-centered thinking and think and act independently. All thinking and action is to take place from a capital-centered reference point.

The main thing the “COVID Pandemic” revealed very sharply is that the richest and most powerful countries are not set-up to serve the basic needs of the people. In these and other countries where the neoliberal antisocial offensive has been wreaking havoc for decades, the “COVID Pandemic” left millions sick, dead, unemployed, depressed, dehumanized, and poor while the rich got much richer. Does this make sense to anyone? Would this happen if sovereignty was vested in the people and they decided the affairs of society? “Representative democracy” is increasingly revealing itself to be defunct, corrupted, and ineffective. There is no mechanism for people to effectively direct affairs in their own vision and interests. Existing institutions block people from affirming their rights. The so-called “social contract” underpinning economic and political arrangements for decades in the U.S. died long ago, and “leaders” and politicians have left everyone rudderless and disillusioned.

A main task confronting working people is how to open the path of progress to society under very difficult conditions. Already it can be seen from a variety of events and actions that unfolded in 2020 and early 2021 that people from all walks of life are in motion on several fronts. People are striving to affirm their rights and are gradually developing better actions and better analyses. Many are fed up with an outmoded system that keeps making life more difficult for them. This sentiment can be seen and felt worldwide. One can sense a change in the energy of the world’s people and a more robust pro-social thrust and desire among people. It is critical to nurture this drive so that it is not continually sabotaged by the anticonsciousness and disinformation of the rich and their political and media representatives. The current heroic struggles of farmers in India is a good example of workers defending their rights in the context of defending the rights of all.

Health crises, economic crises, and social crises cannot be resolved so long as society and the economy are dominated by a handful of billionaires. Only when defunct liberal governance arrangements are rejected and social consciousness and the human factor are unleashed can problems be solved effectively by the people themselves who already know what is needed to move society forward.

  1. It is even said that covid-19 vaccines will not prevent virus transmission and everyone still has to wear masks and socially distance. And many continue to experience a range of side effects from covid-19 vaccines.
The post Vaccine Will Not Reverse Economic Problems first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Debt Tsunami 

Imagine this scenario if you will… You are the head of a small family of 5 people, including your 3 children, you live in a small street in an average house, and drive 2 average Ford or Chevy cars. You have a normal mortgage, credit card bills, which you manage to keep on top of, just about, as both adults work in average jobs.

In this make-believe situation, one of your children, when you return home from work, reveals that they have run up a $5 million gambling debt. What is worse is that the debt is with Mr Big, the local gangster who will not send letters, but send around the heavies to kick you out of your home, take your cars and anything of value, if you don’t pay up.

In despair you go to see your best friend, who lives 2 doors down the street. To your utter dismay you discover that your slightly richer friend has been thrown under the bus by their kids, for an even more ridiculous gambling debt. Both of you sit down on the lawn and cry your eyes out, in frustration and anger that there is nothing you can do – except run away, make a violent last stand or wait for Mr Big and his goons to evict you!

Clearly this is a ridiculous scenario that is extremely unlikely in real life, except that it is a perfect metaphor for what your national government has done to your country. With the exception of a handful of countries, the same thing has happened all over the world. Governments, like the kids, have gambled the nation’s tax revenue and lost – running up debts that are so gigantic that they can never be repaid.

The level of national debt across the world was catastrophic before the 2008 crash, which resulted in more corporate debt being mopped up by governments (at the expense of tax payers, of course). So here we are again in the same situation as 2007 – Mr Big has temporarily gone away with an interim payment, but is absolutely guaranteed to return, looking for the rest of his money – knee-caps could be lost.

Sadly, most countries in the world are technically bankrupt as they owe so much money that not only can they never repay the principal loan, but they are struggling just to maintain the interest payments, while still increasing their borrowing on an ongoing basis.

If your teenage kid behaved like this they would be grounded, given a stern lecture on financial accountability and banned from access to finance until they had grown up a bit. Unfortunately, the public of the country you live is not a parent and has little or no control over the wayward behaviour of its government. To make matters worse, everyone is at it, pretty much every major government and economy is over-leveraged and just hanging on until the moment of reckoning.

As with irresponsible teenagers that expect parents to step in and clear up their mess, the governments of the world will not want to take responsibility for the imminent financial crash caused by this tsunami of debt, trillions of which is reaching maturity (pay back time). Once again, if the debt cannot be kicked down the road and deferred for another few years, it is the public (like dismayed parents) that will foot the bill.

We will foot the bill in higher taxes, loss or reduction of government services, loss of jobs, collapse of small businesses and property repossessions. To make matters worse, once again the governments will probably look to bail out the ‘too big to fail’ corporations, once more paid for by the tax payer. Once stabilised, the corporate sector will be able to mop up the casualties – a plethora of cheap domestic and commercial property, land, undervalued businesses etc.

This is exactly what happened in the aftermath of the 2008 crash. This time it is going to be much, much worse as the fundamentals are worse than they were then. While Wall Street appears strong, Main Street and the real-world fabric of society is far weaker now than back in 2008.

So what happens when it hits? Will it be so bad that the whole crazy system will collapse – ushering in the Great Reset, or will we have a nastier repeat of 2008? At this point in time it’s hard to say, but either way it is bad news for individuals who have any significant debt and/or an insecure job. Ask yourself – are you okay with getting ripped off by your government yet again? Are you okay with vulture funds buying up your street, your local businesses, your town, all for half-nothing?

This is not just a horrific tsunami that is going to hit, it is a process of depriving the public of its wealth and further enriching the top tier of society. This is, in truth, a rinse and repeat process that happened not just in 2008, but in 1989, 1973, 1929 and beyond. Are you okay with that?  Or is it time we just refused to cooperate?

The post The Debt Tsunami  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Critical Lessons From Dr. Martin Luther King For These Times


NOTE: Margaret Flowers and Askia Muhammad will co-host an inaugural special on Pacifica Radio on Wednesday, January 20 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm Eastern. It can be heard on WBAI and WPFW. The theme will be Dr. King’s triple evils and what Biden’s cabinet picks tell us about what we can expect from this administration. Guests include Dr. Greg Carr, Abby Martin and Danny Sjursen.

Also, on Tuesday, January 26 at 8:00 pm Eastern, Popular Resistance will co-host a webinar, “COVID-19: How Weaponizing Disease and Vaccine Wars are Failing Us.” The webinar will be co-hosted by Margaret Flowers and Sara Flounders and it will feature Vijay Prashad, Max Blumethal, Margaret Kimberley and Lee Siu Hin. All are editors or contributors of the new book “Capitalism on a Ventilator.” Register at bit.ly/WeaponizingCOVID.

This week we celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and witness the inauguration of our next president, Joe Biden. This inauguration will be unique, first, for being held during a pandemic and, second, for its heightened security in fear of another attack by Trump supporters. Downtown Washington, DC is normally secured during an inauguration and people must pass through checkpoints to get into the Mall and parade route, but this time is different.

There are 25,000 members of the National Guard on duty in the city to protect the President and Members of Congress. But even this does not guarantee security. The FBI is screening every national guard member for ties to right wing militias and groups responsible for the January 6 assault on the Capitol. The ruling class experienced what it is like when those who are supposed to protect you don’t.

This insecurity is another facet of a society in break down. As Dr. King warned us over 50 years ago:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-centered’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. . . . A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Migrants march from Honduras to the United States with the hope of a better reception under a Biden administration (Luis Echeverria)

The pandemic and recession have exposed more widely what many communities have known for a long time, that corporate profits are more important than their lives and that lawmakers serve the wealthy class. During the pandemic, the rich have gotten richer, the Pentagon budget has ballooned with bi-partisan support and the people have not received what they need to survive. Unemployment, loss of health insurance, hunger and poverty are growing while the stock market ended the year with record highs.

Many are hopeful that a Democratic majority in Congress and a Democratic President will turn this around, and it is reasonable to expect there will be some positive changes. The Biden administration claims it will take immediate action to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour, extend the break on student loan payments, provide a one-time $1,400 payment and invest more in testing and vaccine administration, among other actions.

These actions are welcome, but they are a far cry from what is necessary. A family with two parents working full time for minimum wage will still live in poverty, even at $15/hour. The majority of people in the United States, 65%, support giving $2,000/month to every adult during the pandemic. This is supported by 54% of Republicans polled and 78% of Democrats. People with student loans are calling for them to be cancelled, not delayed. And, as I wrote in Truthout, Biden’s priority for managing the pandemic is on reopening businesses and schools, not on taking the public health measures that are called for such as shutting down with guarantees of housing and economic support and nationalizing the healthcare system, as other countries have done.

What is required is massive public investment in systemic changes that get to the roots of the crises we face. In addition to the triple evils that Dr. King spoke about, racism, capitalism and militarism, we can add the climate crisis. An eco-socialist Green New Deal such as that promoted by Howie Hawkins would get at the roots of each of these crises.

Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute argues that the economy can handle a massive investment of public dollars without fear of negative consequences, such as inflation, because for too long the economy has been starving the public while funneling wealth to the top. It is time for redistribution of that wealth to serve the public good.

In fact, Sam Pizzigati of Inequality.org writes that throughout history, governments have fallen when they fail to address wealth inequality and meet the people’s needs. This is the finding of a recent study called “Moral Collapse and State Failure: A View From the Past.” They write that the fall of pre-modern governments “can be traced to a principal leadership that inexplicably abandoned core principles of state-building that were foundational to these polities, while also ignoring their expected roles as effective leaders and moral exemplars.”

From Socialist Alternative

So far, it looks like what we can expect from the Biden Administration is a few tweaks to the system to placate people and relieve some suffering but not the system changes we require. Biden is actively opposed to national improved Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, two proposals that a majority of people, especially Democrats, support. Mark Dunlea explains why the Biden climate plan is inadequate for the dire situation we face.

Biden’s cabinet picks and language make it clear that the United States’ aggressive foreign policy of regime change and wars for resources and domination will continue. Samantha Power, a war hawk, has been chosen to head the USAID, an institution that invests in creating chaos and regime change efforts in other countries. Victoria Nuland, who was a major leader of the US’ successful coup in Ukraine that brought neo-Nazis to power, has been picked for Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Biden’s choices for CIA Director, Mike Morell, and Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, are both torture proponents. Abby Martin of Empire Files exposes the dark backgrounds of several other nominees for Biden’s cabinet, including Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, Jake Sullivan as National Security Adviser, Linda Thomas-Greenfield for United Nations Ambassador and Michael Flourney to head the Pentagon.

It also doesn’t appear that Democrats in Congress will show the necessary courage to fight for what the people need. Danny Haiphong of Black Agenda Report writes about the “Obama-fication” of “The Squad” and how they serve to protect the status quo and weaken the progressive movement. It is important to understand how they are the “more effective evil,” or as Gabriel Rockhill explains, they are the arm of liberal democracies that convince people to consent to the neo-liberal capitalism that is destroying our lives and the planet. This is how Western fascism rises within legislative bodies. Already, we are seeing champions of national improved Medicare for All, Bernie Sanders and Pramila Jayapal, back down to a position of lowering the age of Medicare eligibility, which would not solve our healthcare crisis, only delay that solution.

Chris Hedges often warns us that we need to know what we are up against if we are to effectively challenge it. Dr. King warned us that our nation was heading toward spiritual death if we did not get to the roots of the crises, the triple evils. He demonstrated that social movements should not align themselves with capitalist political parties because then the movement becomes subservient to their interests and compromises its own interests. And he told us what we must do. Prior to King’s death, he was organizing an occupation of Washington, DC to demand an end to poverty.

During the Biden administration, many of the progressive forces will work to weaken those of us who make demands for bold changes. They will try to placate us with a diverse cabinet of women and people of color who were chosen because they support capitalism, imperialism and systemic racism despite their identities. Chris Hedges describes this as a form of “colonialism.”

Our tasks are to maintain political independence from the capitalist parties, struggle for systemic changes and embrace a bold agenda that inspires people to take action. Through strategic and intentional action, we can achieve the changes we need. We have a key ingredient for success – widespread support for the changes we need. Now, we only need to mobilize in ways that inspire people and that have an impact – strikes, boycotts, occupations and more that are focused on improving the lives of everyone.

We can turn things around and reduce the suffering that is driving the polarization and trend towards violence in our country. It’s time to embrace our radical Dr. King.

The post Critical Lessons From Dr. Martin Luther King For These Times first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Indian Farmers on the Frontline Against Global Capitalism

In a short video on the empirediaries.com YouTube channel, a protesting farmer camped near Delhi says that during lockdown and times of crisis farmers are treated like “gods”, but when they ask for their rights, they are smeared and labelled as “terrorists”.

He, along with thousands of other farmers, are mobilising against three important pieces of farm legislation that were recently forced through parliament. To all intents and purposes, these laws sound a neoliberal death knell for most of India’s cultivators and its small farms, the backbone of the nation’s food production.

The farmer says:

Corporates invested in Modi before the election and brought him to power. He has sold out and is an agent of Ambani and Adani. He is unable to repeal the bills because his owners will scold him. He is trapped. But we are not backing down either.

He then asks whether ministers know how many seeds are needed to grow wheat on an acre of land:

We farmers know. They made these farm laws sitting in air-conditioned rooms. And they are teaching us the benefits!

While the corporations that will move in on the sector due to the legislation will initially pay good money for crops, once the public sector markets (mandis) are gone, the farmer says they will become the only buyers and will beat prices down.

He asks why, in other sectors, do sellers get to put price tags on their products but not farmers:

Why can’t farmers put minimum prices on the crops we produce? A law must be brought to guarantee MSP [minimum support prices]. Whoever buys below MSP must be punished by law.

The recent agriculture legislation represents the final pieces of a 30-year-old plan which will benefit a handful of billionaires in the US and in India. It means the livelihoods of hundreds of millions (the majority of the population) who still (directly or indirectly) rely on agriculture for a living are to be sacrificed at the behest of these elite interests.

Consider that much of the UK’s wealth came from sucking $45 trillion from India alone according to renowned economist Utsa Patnaik. Britain grew rich by underdeveloping India. What amounts to little more than modern-day East India-type corporations are now in the process of helping themselves to the country’s most valuable asset – agriculture.

According to the World Bank’s lending report, based on data compiled up to 2015, India was easily the largest recipient of its loans in the history of the institution. The World Bank thus exerts a certain hold over India: on the back of India’s foreign exchange crisis in the 1990s, the IMF and World Bank wanted India to shift hundreds of millions out of agriculture.

In return for up to more than $120 billion in loans at the time, India was directed to dismantle its state-owned seed supply system, reduce subsidies, run down public agriculture institutions and offer incentives for the growing of cash crops to earn foreign exchange.

The plan involves shifting at least 400 million from the countryside into cities.

The details of this plan appear in a January 2021 article by the Research Unit for Political Economy, ‘Modi’s Farm Produce Act Was Authored Thirty Years Ago, in Washington DC’. The piece says that the current agricultural ‘reforms’ are part of a broader process of imperialism’s increasing capture of the Indian economy:

Indian business giants such as Reliance and Adani are major recipients of foreign investment, as we have seen in sectors such as telecom, retail, and energy. At the same time, multinational corporations and other financial investors in the sectors of agriculture, logistics and retail are also setting up their own operations in India. Multinational trading corporations dominate global trade in agricultural commodities. For all these reasons, international capital has a major stake in the restructuring of India’s agriculture… The opening of India’s agriculture and food economy to foreign investors and global agribusinesses is a longstanding project of the imperialist countries.”

The article provides details of a 1991 World Bank memorandum which set out the programme for India. It adds:

At the time, India was still in its foreign exchange crisis of 1990-91 and had just submitted itself to an IMF-monitored ‘structural adjustment’ programme. Thus, India’s July 1991 budget marked the fateful start of India’s neoliberal era.

It states that now the Modi government is dramatically advancing the implementation of the above programme, using the Covid-19 crisis as cover: the dismantling of the public procurement and distribution of food is to be implemented by the three agriculture-related acts passed by parliament.

The drive is to drastically dilute the role of the public sector in agriculture, reducing it to a facilitator of private capital and leading to the entrenchment of industrial farming and the replacement of small-scale farms. The norm will be industrial (GMO) commodity-crop agriculture suited to the needs of the likes of Cargill, Archer Daniels Midlands, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge and India’s retail and agribusiness giants as well as the global agritech, seed and agrochemical corporations. It could result in hundreds of millions of former rural dwellers without any work given that India is heading (has already reached) jobless growth.

As a result of the ongoing programme, more than 300,000 farmers in India have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to cash crops and economic liberalisation. The number of cultivators in India declined from 166 million to 146 million between 2004 and 2011. Some 6,700 left farming each day. Between 2015 and 2022, the number of cultivators is likely to decrease to around 127 million.

We have seen the running down of the sector for decades, spiraling input costs, withdrawal of government assistance and the impacts of cheap, subsidised imports which depress farmers’ incomes.

Take the cultivation of pulses, for instance. According to a report in the Indian Express (September 2017), pulses production increased by 40% during the previous 12 months (a year of record production). At the same time, however, imports also rose resulting in black gram selling at 4,000 rupees per quintal (much less than during the previous 12 months). This effectively pushed down prices thereby reducing farmers already meagre incomes.

We have already witnessed a running down of the indigenous edible oils sector thanks to Indonesian palm oil imports (which benefits Cargill) on the back of World Bank pressure to reduce tariffs (India was virtually self-sufficient in edible oils in the 1990s but now faces increasing import costs).

The pressure from the richer nations for the Indian government to further reduce support given to farmers and open up to imports and export-oriented ‘free market’ trade is based on nothing but hypocrisy.

On the ‘Down to Earth’ website in late 2017, it was stated some 3.2 million people were engaged in agriculture in the US in 2015. The US government provided them each with a subsidy of $7,860 on average. Japan provides a subsidy of $14,136 and New Zealand $2,623 to its farmers. In 2015, a British farmer earned $2,800 and $37,000 was added through subsidies. The Indian government provides on average a subsidy of $873 to farmers. However, between 2012 and 2014, India reduced the subsidy on agriculture and food security by $3 billion.

According to policy analyst Devinder Sharma subsidies provided to US wheat and rice farmers are more than the market worth of these two crops. He also notes that, per day, each cow in Europe receives subsidy worth more than an Indian farmer’s daily income.

The Indian farmer simply cannot compete with this. The World Bank, World Trade Organisation and the IMF have effectively served to undermine the indigenous farm sector in India. The long-term goal has been to displace the peasantry and consolidate a corporate-controlled model.

And now, by reducing public sector buffer stocks and introducing corporate-dictated contract farming and full-scale neoliberal marketisation for the sale and procurement of produce, India will be sacrificing its farmers and its own food security for the benefit of a handful of billionaires.

The post Indian Farmers on the Frontline Against Global Capitalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.