Category Archives: Economy/Economics

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Ten

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

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

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

*****

U.S. Conditions

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

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

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

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

“US oil reserves running low – Bloomberg.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Conditions

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

“Fight against inflation raises spectre of global recession.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“UK retail sales fall in May [2022].”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“German business climate drops more than expected.”

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

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

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

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

“Inflation inducing extreme poverty [in Zimbabwe].”

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Need to Build the Architecture of Our Future

Diego Rivera (Mexico), Frozen Assets, 1931.

Diego Rivera (Mexico), Frozen Assets, 1931.

In April 2022, the United Nations established the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy, and Finance. This group is tracking the three major crises of food inflation, fuel inflation, and financial distress. Their second briefing, released on 8 June 2022, noted that, after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic:

the world economy has been left in a fragile state. Today, 60 per cent of workers have lower real incomes than before the pandemic; 60 per cent of the poorest countries are in debt distress or at high risk of it; developing countries miss $1.2 trillion per year to fill the social protection gap; and $4.3 trillion is needed per year – more money than ever before – to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This is a perfectly reasonable description of the distressing global situation, and things are likely to get worse.

According to the UN Global Crisis Response Group, most capitalist states have already rolled back the relief funds they provided during the pandemic. ‘If social protection systems and safety nets are not adequately extended’, the report states, ‘poor families in developing countries facing hunger may reduce health-related spending; children who temporarily left school due to COVID-19 may now be permanently out of the education system; or smallholder or micro-entrepreneurs may close shop due to higher energy bills’.

Renato Guttuso (Italy), La Vucciria, 1974.

Renato Guttuso (Italy), La Vucciria, 1974.

The World Bank reports that food and fuel prices will remain at very high levels until at least the end of 2024. As wheat and oilseed prices have escalated, reports are coming in from across the globe – including in wealthy countries – that working-class families have started to skip meals. This tense food situation has led United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, to predict that many families will move to one meal a day, which, she says, ‘will be the source of even more instability’ in the world. The World Economic Forum (WEF) adds that we are in the midst of ‘a perfect storm’ if you take into account the impact of increasing interest rates on mortgage payments as well as inadequate salaries. The managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva-Kinova, said late last month that the ‘horizon has darkened’.

Cândido Portinari (Brazil), Coffee Bean Mowers, 1935.

Cândido Portinari (Brazil), Coffee Bean Mowers, 1935.

These assessments come from people at the heart of powerful global institutions – the IMF, World Bank, WEF, and the UN (and even from a queen). Although they all recognise the structural nature of the crisis, they are reluctant to be honest about the underlying economic processes, or even about how to adequately name the situation. David M. Rubenstein, the head of global investment firm The Carlyle Group, said that when he was part of US President Jimmy Carter’s administration, their inflation advisor Alfred Kahn warned them not to use the ‘R’ word – recession – which ‘scares people’. Instead, Kahn advised, use the word ‘banana’. Along those lines, Rubenstein said of the current situation, ‘I don’t want to say we’re in a banana, but I would say a banana may not be that far away from where we are today’.

Marxist economist Michael Roberts does not hide behind words such as banana. Roberts has studied the global average rate of profit on capital, which he shows has been falling, with minor reverses, since 1997. This trend was exacerbated by the global financial crash of 2007–08 which led to the Great Recession in 2008. Since then, he argues, the world economy has been in the grip of a ‘long depression’, with the rate of profit at a historic low in 2019 (just before the pandemic).

Yildiz Moran (Turkey), Mother, 1956.

Yildiz Moran (Turkey), Mother, 1956.

‘Profit drives investment in capitalism’, writes Roberts, ‘and so falling and low profitability has led to slow growth in productive investment’. Capitalist institutions have shifted from investment in productive activity to, as Roberts puts it, ‘the fantasy world of stock and bond markets and cryptocurrencies’. The cryptocurrency market, by the way, has collapsed by over 60% this year. Dwindling profits in the Global North have led capitalists to seek profits in the Global South and beat back any country (especially China and Russia) that threatens their financial and political hegemony, with military force if necessary.

Ghastly is the way of inflation, but inflation is merely the symptom of a deeper problem and not its cause. That problem is not merely the war in Ukraine or the pandemic, but something that is confirmed by data but denied in press conferences: the capitalist system, plunged into a long-term depression, cannot heal itself. Later this year, notebook no. 4 on the theory of crisis from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, written by Marxist economists Sungur Savran and E. Ahmet Tonak, will establish these points very clearly.

Aboudia (Côte d’Ivoire), Untitled, 2013.

Aboudia (Côte d’Ivoire), Untitled, 2013.

For now, capitalist economic theory starts with the assumption that any attempt to settle an economic crisis, such as an inflationary crisis, must not, as John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1923, ‘disappoint the rentier’. Wealthy bondholders and major capitalist institutions control the policy orientation of the Global North so that the value of their money – trillions of dollars held by a minority – is secure. They cannot, as Keynes wrote nearly a hundred years ago, be disappointed.

The anti-inflation policies driven by the US and the Eurozone are not going to ease the burdens on the working class in their countries, and certainly not in the debt-ridden Global South. Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Jerome Powell admitted that his monetary policy ‘will cause some pain’, but not across the entire population. More honestly, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos tweeted that ‘Inflation is a regressive tax that most hurts the least affluent’. Rising interest rates in the North Atlantic make money far more expensive for ordinary people in that region, but they also make borrowing in dollars to pay off national debts in the Global South virtually impossible. Raising interest rates and tightening the labour market are direct attacks on the working class and developing nations.

There is nothing inevitable about the class warfare of the governments of the Global North. Other policies are possible; a few of them are listed below:

  1. Tax the global wealthy. There are 2,668 billionaires in the world who are worth $12.7 trillion; the money they hide in illicit tax havens adds up to about $40 trillion. This wealth could be brought into productive social use. As Oxfam notes, the richest ten men have more wealth than 3.1 billion people (40% of the world population).
  2. Tax large corporations, whose profits have escalated beyond imagination. US corporate profits are up by 37%, far ahead of inflation and compensation increases. Ellen Zentner, the chief US economist of the leading financial services company Morgan Stanley, argues that, during the long depression, there has been an ‘unprecedented’ plunge in the share of Gross Domestic Product earned by the working class in the United States. She has called for a return to a more just profit-wages balance.
  3. Use this social wealth to enhance social expenditures, such as funds to end hunger and illiteracy and build health care systems as well as non-carbon forms of public transportation.
  4. Institute price controls for goods that specifically drive-up inflation – such as prices for food, fertilisers, fuel, and medicines.

The great Bajan writer George Lamming (1927–2022) left us recently. In his 1966 essay, ‘The West Indian People’, Lamming said, ‘The architecture of our future is not only unfinished; the scaffolding has hardly gone up’. This was a powerful sentiment from a powerful visionary, who hoped that his home in the Caribbean, the West Indies, would be shaped into a sovereign region that could relieve its people of great problems. This was not to be. Strangely, the IMF’s Georgieva-Kinova quoted this line in a recent article while making the case for the region to collaborate with the IMF. It is likely that Georgieva-Kinova and her staff did not read all of Lamming’s speech, for this paragraph is instructive today as it was in 1966:

There is, I believe, a formidable regiment of economists in this hall. They teach the statistics of survival. They anticipate and warn about the relative price of freedom… [I] would just like you to bear in mind the story of an ordinary Barbadian working man. When he was asked by another West Indian whom he had not seen for about ten years, ‘and how are things?’, he replied: ‘The pasture green, but they got me tied on a short rope’.

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“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Nine

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

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

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

*****

U.S. Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Small business optimism drops to record low.”

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

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

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

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

International Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Belgium hit by increasing levels of obesity.”

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

4.1 million Kenyans facing starvation due to drought.”

Nearly one million Chadians are in acute food insecurity.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Seven

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

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

*****

U.S. Conditions

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

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

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

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

“Inflation drives Americans’ gloom about the economy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Luxembourg economy slows down after pandemic rebound.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Seven

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

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

*****

U.S. Conditions

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

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

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

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

“Inflation drives Americans’ gloom about the economy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Luxembourg economy slows down after pandemic rebound.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

  1. See here for information about the ADP report.
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“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Five

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

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

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

*****

International Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rising prices put pressure on Swiss consumers and industry.”

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

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

U.S. Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreclosure wave sweeping US crests in Chicago.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soaring diesel prices spells bad news for America.”

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Four

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Business environment trends still mostly negative in Latvia.”

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

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

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

“Depreciating yen threatens Japan’s economy.”

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

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

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

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

“Inflation is eroding Latin Americans’ purchasing power.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Ending “West’s Neocolonial Oppression”: On the New Language and Superstructures

The Russia-Ukraine war has quickly turned into a global conflict. One of the likely outcomes of this war is the very redefinition of the current world order, which has been in effect, at least since the collapse of the Soviet Union over three decades ago.

Indeed, there is a growing sense that a new global agenda is forthcoming, one that could unite Russia and China and, to a degree, India and others, under the same banner. This is evident, not only by the succession of the earth-shattering events underway, but, equally important, the language employed to describe these events.

The Russian position on Ukraine has morphed throughout the war from merely wanting to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine to a much bigger regional and global agenda, to eventually, per the words of Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, “put an end to the unabashed expansion” of NATO, and the “unabashed drive towards full domination by the US and its Western subjects on the world stage.”

On April 30, Lavrov went further, stating in an interview with the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, that Russia’s war “contributes to the process of freeing the world from the West’s neocolonial oppression,” predicated on “racism and an exceptionality.”

But Russia is not the only country that feels this way. China, too, even India, and many others. The meeting between Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on March 30, served as a foundation of this truly new global language. Statements made by the two countries’ top diplomats were more concerned about challenging US hegemony than the specifics of the Ukraine war.

Those following the evolution of the Russia-China political discourse, even before the start of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24, will notice that the language employed supersedes that of a regional conflict, into the desire to bring about the reordering of world affairs altogether. 

But is this new world order possible? If yes, what would it look like? These questions, and others, remain unanswered, at least for now. What we know, however, is that the Russian quest for global transformation exceeds Ukraine by far, and that China, too, is on board.

While Russia and China remain the foundation of this new world order, many other countries, especially in the Global South, are eager to join. This should not come as a surprise as frustration with the unilateral US-led world order has been brewing for many years, and has come at a great cost. Even the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, though timid at times, has warned against this unilaterality, calling instead on the international community to commit itself to  “the values of multilateralism and diplomacy for peace.”

However, the pro-Russian stances in the South – as indicated by the refusal of many governments to join western sanctions on Moscow, and the many displays of popular support through protests, rallies and statements – continue to lack a cohesive narrative. Unlike the Soviet Union of yesteryears, Russia of today does not champion a global ideology, like socialism, and its current attempt at articulating a relatable global discourse remains, for now, limited.

It is obviously too early to examine any kind of superstructure – language, political institutions, religion, philosophy, etc – resulting from the Russia-NATO global conflict, Russia-Ukraine war and the growing Russia-China affinity.

Though much discussion has been dedicated to the establishing of an alternative monetary system, in the case of Lavrov’s and Yi’s new world order, a fully-fledged substructure is yet to be developed.

New substructures will only start forming once the national currency of countries like Russia and China replace the US dollar, alternative money transfer systems, like CIPS, are put into effect, new trade routes are open, and eventually new modes of production replace the old ones. Only then, superstructures will follow, including new political discourses, historical narratives, everyday language, culture, art and even symbols.

The thousands of US-western sanctions slapped on Russia were largely meant to weaken the country’s ability to navigate outside the current US-dominated global economic system. Without this maneuverability, the West believes, Moscow would not be able to create and sustain an alternative economic model that is centered around Russia.

True, US sanctions on Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and others have failed to produce the coveted ‘regime change’, but they have succeeded in weakening the substructures of these societies, denying them the chance to be relevant economic actors at a regional and international stage. They were merely allowed to subsist, and barely so.

Russia, on the other hand, is a global power, with a relatively large economy, international networks of allies, trade partners and supporters. That in mind, surely a regime change will not take place in Moscow any time soon. The latter’s challenge, however, is whether it will be able to orchestrate a sustainable paradigm shift under current western pressures and sanctions.

Time will tell. For now, it is certain that some kind of a global transformation is taking place, along with the potential of a ‘new world order’, a term, ironically employed by the US government more than any other.

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“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part Three

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Read Part One here; read Part Two here

  1. Many other articles containing extensive facts and statistics on economic and social decline can be found at my Dissident Voice author’s page
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