Archive for the ‘Capitalism’ Category

Capitalism is not working – analysis of 200 years of data shows worsening inequality is an inevitable outcome of free market capitalism

April 16, 2014

APRIL 14, 2014

What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.

UPDATE : A look at the reviews of other economists to the Piketty work and a look a central Piketty prediction that global growth will collapse from 2020-2100.

Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality–the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth–today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.

A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.

The book draws on reams of data from the United States and numerous other countries. Most of the data comes from income tax records and estate tax/inheritance records. The sheer quantity of data that underlies Piketty’s conclusions is unprecedented, and as a result his work deserves a great deal of credibility.

While the book is quite long, the major conclusion can be summarized very briefly: Piketty has found that, over the long run, the return on capital is higher than the growth rate of the overall economy. In other words, accumulated and inherited wealth becomes a larger fraction of the economic pie over time. This happens more or less automatically, and there is no reason to believe this trend will change or reverse course.

Piketty argues that the reduction in inequality in developed countries after World War II was a “one-off” that was driven entirely by political choices and policies. It did not happen automatically. Those policies have now been largely reversed, especially in the United States. As a result the drive toward increased inequality is likely to be relentless.

Piketty’s solution is a global wealth tax. While this seems politically unfeasible, he argues that it is the only thing likely to work.

[From the New Yorker] – At first, Piketty concentrated on getting the facts down, rather than interpreting them. Using tax records and other data, he studied how income inequality in France had evolved during the twentieth century, and published his findings in a 2001 book. A 2003 paper that he wrote with Emmanuel Saez, a French-born economist at Berkeley, examined income inequality in the United States between 1913 and 1998. It detailed how the share of U.S. national income taken by households at the top of the income distribution had risen sharply during the early decades of the twentieth century, then fallen back during and after the Second World War, only to soar again in the nineteen-eighties and nineties.

With the help of other researchers, including Saez and the British economist Anthony Atkinson, Piketty expanded his work on inequality to other countries, including Britain, China, India, and Japan. The researchers established the World Top Incomes Database, which now covers some thirty countries, among them Malaysia, South Africa, and Uruguay. Piketty and Saez also updated their U.S. figures, showing how the income share of the richest households continued to climb during and after the Great Recession, and how, in 2012, the top one per cent of households took 22.5 per cent of total income, the highest figure since 1928.

The question is what’s driving the upward trend. Piketty didn’t think that economists’ standard explanations were convincing, largely because they didn’t pay enough attention to capital accumulation—the process of saving, investing, and building wealth which classical economists, such as David Ricardo, Karl Marx, and John Stuart Mill, had emphasized. Piketty defines capital as any asset that generates a monetary return. It encompasses physical capital, such as real estate and factories; intangible capital, such as brands and patents; and financial assets, such as stocks and bonds. In modern economics, the term “capital” has been purged of its ideological fire and is treated as just another “factor of production,” which, like labor and land, earns a competitive rate of return based upon its productivity. A popular model of economic growth developed by Robert Solow, one of Piketty’s former colleagues at M.I.T., purports to show how the economy progresses along a “balanced growth path,” with the shares of national income received by the owners of capital and labor remaining constant over time. This doesn’t jibe with modern reality. In the United States, for example, the share of income going to wages and other forms of labor compensation dropped from sixty-eight per cent in 1970 to sixty-two per cent in 2010—a decline of close to a trillion dollars.

Some people claim that the takeoff at the very top reflects the emergence of a new class of “superstars”—entrepreneurs, entertainers, sports stars, authors, and the like—who have exploited new technologies, such as the Internet, to enlarge their earnings at the expense of others in their field. If this is true, high rates of inequality may reflect a harsh and unalterable reality: outsized spoils are going to go to Roger Federer, James Patterson, and the WhatsApp guys. Piketty rejects this account. The main factor, he insists, is that major companies are giving their top executives outlandish pay packages. His research shows that “supermanagers,” rather than “superstars,” account for up to seventy per cent of the top 0.1 per cent of the income distribution. (In 2010, you needed to earn at least $1.5 million to qualify for this élite group.) Rising income inequality is largely a corporate phenomenon.

Many C.E.O.s receive a lot of stock and stock options. Over time, they and other rich people earn a lot of money from the capital they have accumulated: it comes in the form of dividends, capital gains, interest payments, profits from private businesses, and rents. Income from capital has always played a key role in capitalism. Piketty claims that its role is growing even larger, and that this helps explain why inequality is rising so fast. Indeed, he argues that modern capitalism has an internal law of motion that leads, not inexorably but generally, toward less equal outcomes. The law is simple. When the rate of return on capital—the annual income it generates divided by its market value—is higher than the economy’s growth rate, capital income will tend to rise faster than wages and salaries, which rarely grow faster than G.D.P.

If ownership of capital were distributed equally, this wouldn’t matter much. We’d all share in the rise in profits and dividends and rents. But in the United States in 2010, for example, the richest ten per cent of households owned seventy per cent of all the country’s wealth (a good surrogate for “capital”), and the top one per cent of households owned thirty-five per cent of the wealth. By contrast, the bottom half of households owned just five per cent. When income generated by capital grows rapidly, the richest families benefit disproportionately.

80% tax on imcome over 1 million dollars a year and net worth tax

Given that inequality is a worldwide phenomenon, Piketty aptly has a worldwide solution for it: a global tax on wealth combined with higher rates of tax on the largest incomes. How much higher? Referring to work that he has done with Saez and Stefanie Stantcheva, of M.I.T., Piketty reports, “According to our estimates, the optimal top tax rate in the developed countries is probably above eighty per cent.” Such a rate applied to incomes greater than five hundred thousand or a million dollars a year “not only would not reduce the growth of the US economy but would in fact distribute the fruits of growth more widely while imposing reasonable limits on economically useless (or even harmful) behavior.”

Piketty is referring here to the occasionally destructive activities of Wall Street traders and investment bankers. His new wealth tax would be like an annual property tax, but it would apply to all forms of wealth. Households would be obliged to declare their net worth to the tax authorities, and they would be taxed upon it. Piketty tentatively suggests a levy of one per cent for households with a net worth of between one million and five million dollars; and two per cent for those worth more than five million. “Or one might prefer a much more steeply progressive tax on large fortunes (for example a rate of 5 to 10 percent on assets above one billion euros),” he adds. A wealth tax would force individuals who often manage to avoid other taxes to pay their fair share; and it would generate information about the distribution of wealth, which is currently opaque. “Some people think that the world’s billionaires have so much money that it would be enough to tax them at a low rate to solve all the world’s problems,” Piketty notes. “Others believe that there are so few billionaires that nothing much would come of taxing them more heavily. . . . In any case, truly democratic debate cannot proceed without reliable statistics.”

Reality of attempts to implement wealth taxes

The nations of the world can’t agree on taxing harmful carbon emissions, let alone taxing the capital of their richest and most powerful citizens. Piketty concedes as much. Still, he says, his proposal provides a standard against which to judge other proposals; it points to the need for other useful reforms, such as improving international banking transparency; and it could be introduced in stages. A good place to begin, he thinks, would be a European wealth tax that would replace the property tax, which “in most countries is tantamount to a wealth tax on the propertied middle class.” But that may be utopian, too. If the European Union moved ahead with Piketty’s proposal, it would produce a rush to tax havens like Switzerland and Luxembourg. Previous efforts to introduce wealth taxes at the national level have run into problems. Spain, for example, adopted a wealth tax in 2012 and abolished it at the start of this year. In Italy, a wealth tax proposed in 2011 never went through. Such difficulties explain why governments still rely on other, admittedly imperfect, tools to tax capital, such as taxes on property, estates, and capital gains.

In the United States, the very idea of a new wealth tax looks like a nonstarter politically, as would the notion of raising the top rate of income tax to eighty per cent.

SOURCES – Amazon, Guardian UK, New Yorker, youtube

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on ycombinator or StumbleUpon. Thanks

Eight Headlines the Mainstream Media Doesn’t Have the Courage to Print

April 8, 2014

The following are all relevant, fact-based issues, the “hard news” stories that the media has a responsibility to report. But the business-oriented press generally avoids them.

1. U.S. Wealth Up $34 Trillion Since Recession. 93% of You Got Almost None of It.

That’s an average of $100,000 for every American. But the people who already own most of the stocks took almost all of it. For them, the average gain was well over a million dollars — tax-free as long as they don’t cash it in. Details available here.

2. Eight Rich Americans Made More Than 3.6 Million Minimum Wage Workers

A recent report stated that no full-time minimum wage worker in the U.S. can afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental at fair market rent. There are 3.6 million such workers, and their total (combined) 2013 earnings is less than the 2013 stock market gains of just eight Americans, all of whom take more than their share from society: the four Waltons, the two Kochs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.

3. News Sources Speak for the 5%

It would be refreshing to read an honest editorial: “We dearly value the 5 to 7 percent of our readers who make a lot of money and believe that their growing riches are helping everyone else.”

Instead, the business media seems unable to differentiate between the top 5 percent and the rest of society. The Wall Street Journal exclaimed, “Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before,” and then went on to sputter: “What Recession?…The economy has bounced back from recession, unemployment has declined..”

The Chicago Tribune may be even further out of touch with its less privileged readers, asking them: “What’s so terrible about the infusion of so much money into the presidential campaign?”

4. TV News Dumbed Down for American Viewers

A 2009 survey by the European Journal of Communication compared the U.S. to Denmark, Finland, and the UK in the awareness and reporting of domestic vs. international news, and of ‘hard’ news (politics, public administration, the economy, science, technology) vs. ‘soft’ news (celebrities, human interest, sport and entertainment). The results:

  • Americans [are] especially uninformed about international public affairs.
  • American respondents also underperformed in relation to domestic-related hard news stories.
  • American television reports much less international news than Finnish, Danish and British television;
  • American television network newscasts also report much less hard news than Finnish and Danish television.

Surprisingly, the report states that “our sample of American newspapers was more oriented towards hard news than their counterparts in the European countries.” Too bad Americans are reading less newspapers.

5. News Execs among White Male Boomers Who Owe Trillions to Society

The hype about the “self-made man” is fantasy. In the early 1970s, we privileged white males were spirited out of college to waiting jobs in management and finance, technology was inventing new ways for us to make money, tax rates were about to tumble, and visions of bonuses and capital gains danced in our heads.

While we were in school the Defense Department had been preparing the Internet for Microsoft and Apple, the National Science Foundation was funding the Digital Library Initiative research that would be adopted as the Google model, and the National Institute of Health was doing the early laboratory testing for companies like Merck and Pfizer. Government research labs and public universities trained thousands of chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production line workers, market analysts, testers, troubleshooters, etc., etc.

All we created on our own was a disdainful attitude, like that of Steve Jobs: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

6. Funding Plummets for Schools and Pensions as Corporations Stop Paying Taxes

Three separate studies have shown that corporations pay less than half of their required state taxes, which are the main source of K-12 educational funding and a significant part of pension funding. Most recently, the report“The Disappearing Corporate Tax Base” found that the percentage of corporate profits paid as state income taxes has dropped from 7 percent in 1980 to about 3 percent today.

7. Companies Based in the U.S. Paying Most of their Taxes Overseas

Citigroup had 42% of its 2011-13 revenue in North America (almost all U.S.) and made $32 billion in profits, but received a U.S. current income tax benefit all three years.

Pfizer had 40% of its 2011-13 revenues and nearly half of its physical assets in the U.S., but declared almost $10 billion in U.S. losses to go along with nearly $50 billion in foreign profits.

In 2013 Exxon had about 43% of management, 36% of sales, 40% of long-lived assets, and 70-90% of its productive oil and gas wells in the U.S., yet only paid about 2 percent of its total income in U.S. income taxes, and most of that was something called a “theoretical” tax.

8. Restaurant Servers Go Without Raise for 30 Years

An evaluation by Michelle Chen showed that the minimum wage for tipped workers has been approximately $2 an hour since the 1980s. She also notes that about 40 percent of these workers are people of color, and about two-thirds are women.

Here’s one more possible and welcome headline: Progressives Unite Behind Wealth and Wall Street Taxes.

Supreme Court Traitors Sell Out America Again With McCutcheon Decision

April 3, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 4/2/2014 at 13:55:45

By  (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): 

;

Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 14   Well Said 11   Supported 9
View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H2 4/2/14
Become a Fan
(271 fans)

opednews.com


Supreme Court Building with a Facade. I took this photo last summer. It seemed like a look the current court deserves.
(image by rob kall)

Today the five Supreme Court psychopathic scum who vote together for corporations and against people, for big money and against democracy vomited out a decision that could be the one that irreversibly puts the nail in the coffin of American democracy and the middle class.

Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy are florid traitors who have opened up the floodgates for total debasement of the political system. While Citizens United made it easier to funnel money from outside the US, today’s McCutcheon decision will enable any wealthy person to funnel money from foreign people, companies, agencies and governments, including Al Qaeda, including BP, including North Korea and Iran and Israel, into any election.
It’s simple. Say I’m a billionaire. I open an account in, for example, Germany. The government of Iran wires $5 million to my account, or, they use a few intermediaries to hide the source of the transfer.  I make donations totalling $5 million, from a different US account, to four senatorial campaigns, ten house of representatives campaigns, six gubernatorial campaigns and half a dozen judicial campaign.
There is no way to stop such a process. It will happen. It has happened. The only way to stop it is to put limits on  how much an individual can give and to not allow corporations to influence elections at all.
Alan Grayson has submitted legislation to prevent foreign money being used in elections. But it’s hard for me to see how it is possible to detect and prevent the kind of scenario I’ve described.
The US has always had a corrupt system and the wealthy have always been able to buy influence legally and illegally. Now, the traitors in the supreme court have opened the floodgates and the flood will come from outside the US as well as from within.
There is no way to characterize the five justices as anything other than traitorous, psychopathic scum.
They should be in jail, not re-making the laws of the land.
And if you are still under the delusion that electoral politics is the way to make change happen, the depth of your detachment from reality has just been made much deeper. It will take strong non-electoral actions by masses of Americans to undo what these traitorous psychopaths have done. Today we have seen true evil. Sadly, most of the people who usually talk about evil, Evangelical Christians, have no clue that their votes have enabled this heresy.

 

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect ofOpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Listen to over 200 of Rob’s Podcast interviews here.

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.
With his experience as architect and founder of a technorati top 100 blog, he is also a new media / social media consultant and trainer for corporations, non-profits, entrepreneurs and authors.

Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom-up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero’s journey and Positive Psychology. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. Watch me speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth – ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob’s work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..

 
And here’s a one hour radio interview where I was a guest- on Envision This, on 10/23/13. And here is the transcript. 

And Rob’s quotes are here.

To watch me on youtube, having a lively conversation with John Conyers, former Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click here Now, wouldn’t you like to see me on the political news shows, representing progressives. If so, tell your favorite shows to bring me on and refer them to this youtube video.

Rob’s radio show, The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, runs 9-10 PM EST Wednesday evenings, on AM 1360, WNJC and is archived atwww.opednews.com/podcasts Or listen to it streaming, live atwww.wnjc1360.com

Rob also hosted a health/mind/body/heart/spirit radio show– the Rob Kall Futurehealth radio show. Check out podcasts from it atfuturehealth.org/podcasts

Follow me on Twitter

A few declarations.

-My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party’s Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend 

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors. Follow Me on Twitter
Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors’ Articles

First-Ever Political Study of Top 1% Has Found Extreme Conservatism, Intense Political Involvement

April 2, 2014
General News 4/2/2014 at 13:27:05

By  (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 3 pages)
Related Topic(s): ;;

,

Become a Fan
(29 fans)

opednews.com

 

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/60513726@N03/7751205588/: Billionaires
Billionaires
(image by Michael Fleshman)

 

A year ago, to little public notice, the academic journal Perspectives on Politics published a landmark study, “Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans,” by Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels, and Jason Seawright; which reports that, among the American aristocracy, there exists pervasive extreme conservatism, and also a virtual non-stop involvement in politics by them — in other words, it finds the same two things that writers have hypothesized to exist among aristocracies throughout all of human history. But, for the first time ever, these researchers have now attached precise numbers to these two hypotheses, and have established that this is the way aristocrats actually are. Consequently, the much-noted takeover of “Main Street” by “Wall Street” can be explained by the fact that the aristocracy are far more conservative, and also far more politically active, than the general population are.

73% of the respondents in this study were wealthier than $5 million. 36% were wealthier than $10 million. 22% were wealthier than $20 million. And 8% were wealthier than $40 million.

The wealthier the respondent, the more extreme was his or her extreme conservatism.

40% of the respondents had “Made Contact With” (which was a conspicuously undefined phrase in the study) the person’s U.S. Senator.

37% had made contact with with his Representative.

 

12% had, with a White House Official.

21% had, with an Official at a Regulatory Agency.

Of these “contacts,” 44% were asserted to have been for private business reasons, such as to “try to get the Treasury to honor their commitment to extend TARP fund to a particular bank.”

99% of respondents had voted in 2008.

84% said that they were paying attention to politics “”most of the time.’ Asked how many days of the week they talk politics, the median response was five days. (More than one volunteered “all the time.’)” So, now, we know whose brains are connected to Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.”

“Fully two-thirds contributed money to politics, giving an average of $4,633 to political campaigns or organizations over the previous twelve months.” And, “A remarkable 21 percent … solicited or “bundled’ other peoples’ political contributions.”

What, then, were their political issues, which so obsessed them?

70% were opposed to more federal regulation of “Small business.”

87% were opposed to “responsibility of the government to reduce the differences in income between people with high incomes and those with low incomes.” Studies of the general public showed that the comparable percentage among the public was 54%.

83% were opposed to the idea that “our government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.” 48% of the general public were.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

 

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend 

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Supreme Court Traitors Sell Out America Again With McCutcheon Decision

April 2, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 4/2/2014 at 13:55:45

By  (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ;

;,

Become a Fan
(271 fans)

opednews.com


Supreme Court Building with a Facade. I took this photo last summer. It seemed like a look the current court deserves.
(image by rob kall)

Today the five Supreme Court psychopathic scum who vote together for corporations and against people, for big money and against democracy vomited out a decision that could be the one that irreversibly puts the nail in the coffin of American democracy and the middle class.

Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy are florid traitors who have opened up the floodgates for total debasement of the political system. While Citizens United made it easier to funnel money from outside the US, today’s McCutcheon decision will enable any wealthy person to funnel money from foreign people, companies, agencies and governments, including Al Qaeda, including BP, including North Korea and Iran and Israel, into any election.
It’s simple. Say I’m a billionaire. I open an account in, for example, Germany. The government of Iran wires $5 million to my account, or, they use a few intermediaries to hide the source of the transfer.  I make donations totalling $5 million, from a different US account, to four senatorial campaigns, ten house of representatives campaigns, six gubernatorial campaigns and half a dozen judicial campaign.
There is no way to stop such a process. It will happen. It has happened. The only way to stop it is to put limits on  how much an individual can give and to not allow corporations to influence elections at all.
Alan Grayson has submitted legislation to prevent foreign money being used in elections. But it’s hard for me to see how it is possible to detect and prevent the kind of scenario I’ve described.
The US has always had a corrupt system and the wealthy have always been able to buy influence legally and illegally. Now, the traitors in the supreme court have opened the floodgates and the flood will come from outside the US as well as from within.
There is no way to characterize the five justices as anything other than traitorous, psychopathic scum.
They should be in jail, not re-making the laws of the land.
And if you are still under the delusion that electoral politics is the way to make change happen, the depth of your detachment from reality has just been made much deeper. It will take strong non-electoral actions by masses of Americans to undo what these traitorous psychopaths have done. Today we have seen true evil. Sadly, most of the people who usually talk about evil, Evangelical Christians, have no clue that their votes have enabled this heresy.

 

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect ofOpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Listen to over 200 of Rob’s Podcast interviews here.

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.
With his experience as architect and founder of a technorati top 100 blog, he is also a new media / social media consultant and trainer for corporations, non-profits, entrepreneurs and authors.

Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom-up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero’s journey and Positive Psychology. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. Watch me speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth – ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob’s work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..

 
And here’s a one hour radio interview where I was a guest- on Envision This, on 10/23/13. And here is the transcript. 

And Rob’s quotes are here.

To watch me on youtube, having a lively conversation with John Conyers, former Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click here Now, wouldn’t you like to see me on the political news shows, representing progressives. If so, tell your favorite shows to bring me on and refer them to this youtube video.

Rob’s radio show, The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, runs 9-10 PM EST Wednesday evenings, on AM 1360, WNJC and is archived atwww.opednews.com/podcasts Or listen to it streaming, live atwww.wnjc1360.com

Rob also hosted a health/mind/body/heart/spirit radio show– the Rob Kall Futurehealth radio show. Check out podcasts from it atfuturehealth.org/podcasts

Follow me on Twitter

A few declarations.

-My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party’s Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend 

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

The End of the Capitalist Era, and What Comes Next

April 2, 2014

Jeremy Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, writer, public speaker, political advisor and activist. (photo: WikiCommons)
Jeremy Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, writer, public speaker, political advisor and activist. (photo: WikiCommons)

By Jeremy Rifkin, Reader Supported News

01 April 14

 

he capitalist era is passing… not quickly, but inevitably. A new economic paradigm — the Collaborative Commons — is rising in its wake that will transform our way of life. We are already witnessing the emergence of a hybrid economy, part capitalist market and part Collaborative Commons. The two economic systems often work in tandem and sometimes compete. They are finding synergies along each other’s perimeters, where they can add value to one another, while benefiting themselves. At other times, they are deeply adversarial, each attempting to absorb or replace the other.

Although the indicators of the great transformation to a new economic system are still soft and largely anecdotal, the Collaborative Commons is ascendant and, by 2050, it will likely settle in as the primary arbiter of economic life in most of the world. An increasingly streamlined and savvy capitalist system will continue to soldier on at the edges of the new economy, finding sufficient vulnerabilities to exploit, primarily as an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to flourish as a powerful niche player in the new economic era, but it will no longer reign.

What’s undermining the capitalist system is the dramatic success of the very operating assumptions that govern it. At the heart of capitalism there lies a contradiction in the driving mechanism that has propelled it ever upward to commanding heights, but now is speeding it to its death: the inherent dynamism of competitive markets that drives productivity up and marginal costs down, enabling businesses to reduce the price of their goods and services in order to win over consumers and market share. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing additional units of a good or service, if fixed costs are not counted.) While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring marginal costs to near zero, making goods and services priceless, nearly free, and abundant, and no longer subject to market forces.

The near zero marginal cost phenomenon has already wreaked havoc on the entertainment, communications, and publishing industries, as more and more information is being made available nearly free to billions of people. Today, more than forty percent of the human race is producing its own music, videos, news, and knowledge on relatively cheap cellphones and computers and sharing it at near zero marginal cost in a collaborative networked world. And now the zero marginal cost revolution is beginning to affect other commercial sectors, including renewable energy, 3D printing in manufacturing, and online higher education. There are already millions of “prosumers” — consumers who have become their own producers — generating their own green electricity at near zero marginal cost around the world. It’s estimated that around 100,000 hobbyists are using open source software and recycled plastic feedstock to manufacture their own 3D printed goods at nearly zero marginal cost. Meanwhile, six million students are currently enrolled in free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that operate at near zero marginal cost and are taught by some of the most distinguished professors in the world, and receiving college credits.

The reluctance to come to grips with near zero marginal cost is understandable.

Many, though not all, of the old guard in the commercial arena can’t imagine how economic life would proceed in a world where most goods and services are nearly free, profit is defunct, property is meaningless, and the market is superfluous. What then?

A powerful new technology platform is emerging with the potential of reducing marginal costs across large sectors of the capitalist economy, with far reaching implications for society in the first half of the 21st Century. The Communications Internet is converging with the fledgling Energy Internet and Logistics Internet in a seamless twenty-first-century intelligent infrastructure — the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT will connect every thing with everyone in an integrated global network. People, machines, natural resources, production lines, logistics networks, the electricity grid, consumption habits, recycling flows, and virtually every other aspect of economic and social life will be linked via sensors and software to the IoT platform, continually feeding Big Data to every node — businesses, homes, vehicles — moment to moment, in real time. Anyone will be able to access the IoT and use Big Data and analytics to develop predictive algorithms that can dramatically increase productivity and reduce the marginal cost of producing and delivering a full range of physical goods and services to near zero just like we now do with information goods. Lost in all of the excitement over the prospect of the Internet of Things is that connecting everyone and everything in a global network driven by extreme productivity moves us ever faster toward an era of nearly free goods and services and, with it, the shrinking of capitalism in the next half century. The question is what kind of economic system would we need to organize economic activity that is nearly free and shareable?

We are so used to thinking of the capitalist market and government as the only two means of organizing economic life that we overlook the other organizing model in our midst that we depend on daily to deliver a range of goods and services that neither market nor government provides. The Commons predates both the capitalist market and representative government and is the oldest form of institutionalized, self-managed activity in the world.

The contemporary Commons is where billions of people engage in the deeply social aspects of life. It is made up of literally millions of self-managed, mostly democratically run organizations, including educational institutions, healthcare organizations, charities, religious bodies, arts and cultural groups, amateur sports clubs, producer and consumer cooperatives, credit unions, advocacy groups, and a near endless list of other formal and informal institutions that generate the social capital of society.

Currently, the social Commons is growing faster than the market economy in many countries around the world. Still, because what the social Commons creates is largely of social value, not pecuniary value, it is often dismissed by economists. Nonetheless, the social economy is an impressive force. According to a survey of 40 nations, the nonprofit Commons accounts for $2.2 trillion in operating expenditures. In eight countries surveyed–including the United States, Canada, Japan, and France–the nonprofit sector makes up, on average, 5 percent of the GDP. In the US, Canada, and the UK, the nonprofit sector already exceeds 10% of the workforce. While the capitalist market is based on self-interest and driven by material gain, the social Commons is motivated by collaborative interests and driven by a deep desire to connect with others and share. If the former defends property rights, caveat emptor, and the search for autonomy, the latter promotes open-source innovation, transparency, and the search for community.

What makes the Commons more relevant today than at any other time in its long history is that we are now erecting a high-tech global technology platform whose defining characteristics potentially optimize the very values and operational principles that animate this age-old institution. The IoT is the technological “soul mate” of an emerging Collaborative Commons. The new infrastructure is configured to be distributed in nature in order to facilitate collaboration and the search for synergies, making it an ideal technological framework for advancing the social economy. The operating logic of the IoT is to optimize lateral peer production, universal access, and inclusion, the same sensibilities that are critical to the nurturing and creation of social capital in the civil society. The very purpose of the new technology platform is to encourage a sharing culture, which is what the Commons is all about. It is these design features of the IoT that bring the social Commons out of the shadows, giving it a high-tech platform to become the dominant economic paradigm of the twenty-first century.

The Collaborative Commons is already profoundly impacting economic life. Markets are beginning to give way to networks, ownership is becoming less important than access, and the traditional dream of rags to riches is being supplanted by a new dream of a sustainable quality of life.

Hundreds of millions of people are transferring bits and pieces of their economic life from capitalist markets to the global Collaborative Commons. Prosumers are not only producing and sharing their own information, entertainment, green energy and 3D-printed goods at near zero marginal cost and enrolling in massive open online college courses for nearly free, on the Collaborative Commons. They are also sharing cars, homes, clothes, tools, toys, and countless other items with one another via social media sites, rentals, redistribution clubs, and cooperatives, at low or near zero marginal cost. An increasing number of people are collaborating in “patient-driven” health-care networks to improve diagnoses and find new treatments and cures for diseases, again at near zero marginal cost. And young social entrepreneurs are establishing socially responsible businesses, crowdfunding new enterprises, and even creating alternative social currencies in the new economy. The result is that “exchange value” in the marketplace is increasingly being replaced by “shareable value” on the Collaborative Commons.

In the unfolding struggle between the exchange economy and the sharing economy, most economists argue that if everything were nearly free, there would be no incentive to innovate and bring new goods and services to the fore because inventors and entrepreneurs would have no way to recoup their up-front costs. Yet millions of prosumers are freely collaborating in social Commons, creating new IT and software, new forms of entertainment, new learning tools, new media outlets, new green energies, new 3D-printed manufactured products, new peer-to-peer health-research initiatives, and new nonprofit social entrepreneurial business ventures, using open-source legal agreements freed up from intellectual property restraints. 2014-03-31-FinalZMCSCoverArt.jpgThe upshot is a surge in creativity that is at least equal to the great innovative thrusts experienced by the capitalist market economy in the twentieth century.

While the capitalist market is not likely to disappear, it will no longer exclusively define the economic agenda for civilization. There will still be goods and services whose marginal costs are high enough to warrant their exchange in markets and sufficient profit to ensure a return on investment. But in a world in which more things are potentially nearly free and shareable, social capital is going to play a far more significant role than financial capital, and economic life is increasingly going to take place on a Collaborative Commons.

 

March 21, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 3/21/2014 at 07:24:34

What Comes After Capitalism?

By  (about the author)     Permalink

(Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ;;

; (more…) Add to My Group(s)

opednews.com

What comes after Capitalism? Identifying the correct answer to that question, one I do not pretend to know, in addition to facing the fact that the question is a life or death one- on a global scale, is a basic requirement for the life, liberty, and happiness of the human race.

The financial system is nearing another crash, like the sub-prime mortgage crash of 2007 and 2008, writes Steve Rushton at Occupy.com in his report summarizing a recently published European Green Party paper, The Price of Doing Too Little Too Late.

Rushton outlines how investors, pension funds and banks are so heavily invested in companies that earn money by destroying the planet that when the actual wake-up call comes, when the alarm clock goes off and the climate change deniers and their corporate blood sucking psychopaths who pay for the propaganda that enables climate change deniers to pretend that there is still a debate to be had over the Apocalyptic course that human induced climate change has us on– when those people and those beliefs that together want to extract fossil fuel reserves when we KNOW that if the human race is to survive we must leave at least half of current fossil fuel reserves in the ground if not three quarters- when, all the Sean Hannity’s, and Sarah Palin’s and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma — he who, parenthetically it should be noted, likes to quote quotes Genesis 8:22 (While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease”)  and  added, “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we human beings would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous” — when Tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow all these aiding and abetting murders meet the fate of all our yesterdays that have lighted fools the way to dusty death and we wake collectively from our slumber brought on by the gears and the levers that operate the odious machine and we become so sick that we can not take part, even passively take part, and we come together like old flattop grooving up slowly to indicate to the people who own this capitalist machine that unless we are free, this machine will be prevented from working at all and we transition on a massive global shift towards more sustainable energy practices occurs, that funds with heavy carbon exposure- and that number is 95% of all global investment according to the study- will face a shock, that in fact, the carbon bubble will burst and bring own the global financial system.

Ok, that may have been a run on sentence.

To sum up: The economy will crash again, according to Rushton, because we are so addicted to constant growth, and quarterly capitalism that the global financial elite will march us to the edge of the 2 degree climate cliff just to squeeze some more profit from the products and systems that are killing us.

So add one more obstacle to slow the glacial pace (and I mean that in the pre-climate change era of the word) of a coordinated global effort to get the human race untied from the train tracks before the locomotive that is a 2 degree rise in global temperature: our inability to ditch the written and unwritten rules of capitalism.

Put that in your feedback loop and smoke it.


What’s After Capitalism?
(image by Asher Platts, PunkPatriot.com)

Tags

Capitalism, Anti-Capitalism, After Capitalism, Fossil fuel reserves, Climate change, Global warming, Resistance Report, Acronym TV,

http://www.AcronymTV.com

Dennis Trainor, Jr. is the creator and host of Acronym TV and the writer, director and producer of the documentary American Autumn: an Occudoc.
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

The Rise of Anti-Capitalism

March 17, 2014

SundayReview|OPINION

By JEREMY RIFKINMARCH 15, 2014

Photo

CreditJi Lee; original painting by Eugène Delacroix
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page

WE are beginning to witness a paradox at the heart of capitalism, one that has propelled it to greatness but is now threatening its future: The inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing costs so far down that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces. While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero.

The first inkling of the paradox came in 1999 when Napster, the music service, developed a network enabling millions of people to share music without paying the producers and artists, wreaking havoc on the music industry. Similar phenomena went on to severely disrupt the newspaper and book publishing industries. Consumers began sharing their own information and entertainment, via videos, audio and text, nearly free, bypassing the traditional markets altogether.

The huge reduction in marginal cost shook those industries and is now beginning to reshape energy, manufacturing and education. Although the fixed costs of solar and wind technology are somewhat pricey, the cost of capturing each unit of energy beyond that is low. This phenomenon has even penetrated the manufacturing sector. Thousands of hobbyists are already making their own products using 3-D printers, open-source software and recycled plastic as feedstock, at near zero marginal cost. Meanwhile, more than six million students are enrolled in free massive open online courses, the content of which is distributed at near zero marginal cost.

Industry watchers acknowledge the creeping reality of a zero-marginal-cost economy, but argue that free products and services will entice a sufficient number of consumers to purchase higher-end goods and specialized services, ensuring large enough profit margins to allow the capitalist market to continue to grow. But the number of people willing to pay for additional premium goods and services is limited.

Now the phenomenon is about to affect the whole economy. A formidable new technology infrastructure — the Internet of Things — is emerging with the potential to push much of economic life to near zero marginal cost over the course of the next two decades. This new technology platform is beginning to connect everything and everyone. Today more than 11 billion sensors are attached to natural resources, production lines, the electricity grid, logistics networks and recycling flows, and implanted in homes, offices, stores and vehicles, feeding big data into the Internet of Things. By 2020, it is projected that at least 50 billion sensors will connect to it.

People can connect to the network and use big data, analytics and algorithms to accelerate efficiency and lower the marginal cost of producing and sharing a wide range of products and services to near zero, just as they now do with information goods. For example, 37 million buildings in the United States have been equipped with meters and sensors connected to the Internet of Things, providing real-time information on the usage and changing price of electricity on the transmission grid. This will eventually allow households and businesses that are generating and storing green electricity on-site from their solar and wind installations to program software to take them off the electricity grid when the price spikes so they can power their facilities with their own green electricity and share surplus with neighbors at near zero marginal cost.

Continue reading the main story

Cisco forecasts that by 2022, the private sector productivity gains wrought by the Internet of Things will exceed $14 trillion. A General Electric study estimates that productivity advances from the Internet of Things could affect half the global economy by 2025.

THE unresolved question is, how will this economy of the future function when millions of people can make and share goods and services nearly free? The answer lies in the civil society, which consists of nonprofit organizations that attend to the things in life we make and share as a community. In dollar terms, the world of nonprofits is a powerful force. Nonprofit revenues grew at a robust rate of 41 percent — after adjusting for inflation — from 2000 to 2010, more than doubling the growth of gross domestic product, which increased by 16.4 percent during the same period. In 2012, the nonprofit sector in the United States accounted for 5.5 percent of G.D.P.

What makes the social commons more relevant today is that we are constructing an Internet of Things infrastructure that optimizes collaboration, universal access and inclusion, all of which are critical to the creation of social capital and the ushering in of a sharing economy. The Internet of Things is a game-changing platform that enables an emerging collaborative commons to flourish alongside the capitalist market.

This collaborative rather than capitalistic approach is about shared access rather than private ownership. For example, 1.7 million people globally are members of car-sharing services. A recent survey found that the number of vehicles owned by car-sharing participants decreased by half after joining the service, with members preferring access over ownership. Millions of people are using social media sites, redistribution networks, rentals and cooperatives to share not only cars but also homes, clothes, tools, toys and other items at low or near zero marginal cost. The sharing economy had projected revenues of $3.5 billion in 2013.

Nowhere is the zero marginal cost phenomenon having more impact than the labor market, where workerless factories and offices, virtual retailing and automated logistics and transport networks are becoming more prevalent. Not surprisingly, the new employment opportunities lie in the collaborative commons in fields that tend to be nonprofit and strengthen social infrastructure — education, health care, aiding the poor, environmental restoration, child care and care for the elderly, the promotion of the arts and recreation. In the United States, the number of nonprofit organizations grew by approximately 25 percent between 2001 and 2011, from 1.3 million to 1.6 million, compared with profit-making enterprises, which grew by a mere one-half of 1 percent. In the United States, Canada and Britain, employment in the nonprofit sector currently exceeds 10 percent of the work force.

Despite this impressive growth, many economists argue that the nonprofit sector is not a self-sufficient economic force but rather a parasite, dependent on government entitlements and private philanthropy. Quite the contrary. A recent study revealed that approximately 50 percent of the aggregate revenue of the nonprofit sectors of 34 countries comes from fees, while government support accounts for 36 percent of the revenues and private philanthropy for 14 percent.

As for the capitalist system, it is likely to remain with us far into the future, albeit in a more streamlined role, primarily as an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to thrive as a powerful niche player in the coming era. We are, however, entering a world partly beyond markets, where we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent, collaborative, global commons.

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of “The Zero Marginal Cost Society.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on March 16, 2014, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: The Rise of Anti-Capitalism. Order Reprints|Today’s Paper|Subscribe

Four Ways to Evolve Beyond Capitalism

March 8, 2014
Carl Gibson
Reader Sipported News/Op-ed
Published: Saturday 8 March 2014
Along with calling out flaws of capitalism, I’m proposing four solutions that would fix the most glaring problems in capitalism and blaze a new path forward for the next generation.

In my previous article, I explained how all of the economic problems we currently face are natural results of capitalism. From rising poverty in the midst of record-high corporate profits, polluted air and dwindling water, private prison systems that rely on mass incarceration, students going deep into debt while the government books student loan profits, foreclosures, stagnant wages, all of these economic problems can be addressed once we acknowledge our seriously flawed economic system and vow to fix it.

Now that we’re having a serious conversation about capitalism, we can also have a conversation about solutions. Along with calling out flaws of capitalism, I’m proposing four solutions that would fix the most glaring problems in capitalism and blaze a new path forward for the next generation.

1. Break Corporate Monopolies and “Free Trade” Agreements

There’s nothing wrong with starting a business to make and sell goods that people want to buy. But the problem begins when large corporate giants force local small businesses to shutter their operations. This peer-reviewed study looked at data from 3,000 counties and found that, on average, each new Walmart that opens kills approximately 150 retail jobs in the county. This means that for every job created by a new Walmart, 1.4 jobs on average are lost.

The explosion of corporate giants swallowing up small business competition and killing jobs is a consequence of “free trade” entities like the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is currently being negotiated behind closed doors.

At the time NAFTA was signed, there was no trade deficit between the United States and Mexico. As of 2012, that trade deficit has ballooned to $276 billion in lost jobs and wages as a result of skyrocketing imports and stagnant exports. While the Clinton administration promised 1,000,000 new jobs because of NAFTA, over 1,000,000 jobs had been lost by 2004.

Want more? Enter your email for weekly updates:
 

The trade deficit between the US and China reached a record $30.1 billion as of July 2013. In the ten years that passed between China joining the WTO in 2001 and 2011, the US lost $37 billion in wages, mostly in the manufacturing sector. As manufacturing workers who lost jobs were re-employed in other sectors, an average of $13,504 in wages was lost for each displaced worker.

 

One main argument used by defenders of capitalism is that consumer spending dictates the market, so bad corporate actors will be punished by more consumers buying from their competitors. Advocates of capitalism also argue that if pay or work conditions are insufficient, workers will logically quit their jobs and seek employment elsewhere. 

But when the new Walmart shuts down the local grocery, hardware, and auto parts stores, workers who are upset with being paid poverty wages have nowhere else to work if they want to quit. When the local auto manufacturing plant gets outsourced to Mexico, those auto workers have no other choice than to work at a place like Walmart. And when consumers have nowhere else to spend their money but at places like Walmart, then Walmart gets all the business.

2. Guarantee Full Employment

While defenders of capitalism oppose almost any regulation of business, such regulations were largely responsible for the long period of economic prosperity that followed World War II. During FDR’s administration, there was full employment in the United States, and everyone had an income.

 

Article image

Increased public investment meant Americans all had jobs that provided them with steady income. As a result of direct government involvement in the economy, FDR inadvertently created the middle class just a decade after the Great Depression robbed most Americans of their jobs, homes, and savings. When more people had more money to spend, local businesses thrived on the extra demand, and more jobs were created to meet the increased demand. 

Jobs that were created as a result of public investment, like FDR’s New Deal, injected new money into the economy as programs like the Works Progress Administration put 3 million people to work rebuilding critical infrastructure. Congressional obstruction of New Deal programs and neoliberal economic advisers convinced FDR to scale back government spending, sending the country intorecession in 1937-38. The US only bounced back from that recession due to tight economic controls in place during the war effort.

The government became the prime buyer of half the goods manufactured in the US. When ALCOA’s monopoly on the aluminum market became a threat, the government subsidized Reynolds aluminum to force ALCOA to compete fairly, and also got into the aluminum manufacturing business to make sure raw materials were in steady supply. When Ford refused to abide by the National Labor Relations Act that gave private sector workers the right to organize unions, FDR cancelled a top-dollar contract. A wartime tax on windfall profits prevented corporations from becoming large enough to absorb competitors.

While President Eisenhower didn’t regulate business as tightly as FDR did during World War II, he did make huge investments in public infrastructure. In building the 46,000-mile interstate highway system, creating NASA, and expanding national parks, the government put 3.5 million people to work during the Eisenhower years. The interstate highway system alone cost $114 billion then, which would be roughly $450 billion in new government spending today. Such projects were made possible by keeping the top tax rate on the richest households and corporations at a 90 percent rate - the interstate highway was made possible by drivers paying an extra penny per gallon in gas taxes. The tax code was also much simpler in the Eisenhower years, without any of the special exemptions, loopholes, credits, subsidies, and other giveaways that corporate lobbyists have inserted in the tax code today.

3. Wage War on Climate Change, Poverty, Inequality and Greed

FDR and Eisenhower’s economic controls were the result of war; FDR wanted to create national solidarity around the war effort, and Eisenhower wanted the interstate highway system built to better move troops and supplies during war. By drastically changing what we value in society and fostering the political will to change it, we can also change our economic circumstances through a new war effort – call it the war on climate change, the war on poverty, the war on inequality, and the war on greed.

In a winner-take-all system like capitalism, in which the biggest and baddest reap all the rewards, there must be strict regulations and high taxation on multinational corporations, and numerous subsidies and tax benefits for small businesses. This has to also be combined with the complete reinstatement of tariffs on foreign exports to the US that were eliminated in free trade agreements, uninhibited rights for all workers to organize unions, and strict penalties for companies who attempt to crush those unions.

In waging a war on climate change and poverty, we can create millions of new jobs by making heavy public investments in creating a widespread sustainable energy grid, powered by wind turbines and solar farms. A side effect of that will be lower greenhouse gas emissions, and decreased consumption of the planet’s finite resources. A new Works Progress Administration could stay in business permanently, providing a never-ending supply of jobs repairing not just schools, roads and bridges, but building and maintaining broadband internet infrastructure, high-speed rail, city parks, bike paths, community gardens, housing cooperatives, and other projects. These jobs can never be outsourced.

We can win the war on inequality and greed by instituting a maximum wage for executives of all companies that get any tax credits or do any business with the government, making sure that no CEO makes more than 50 times what their lowest-paid worker makes. We could also double the tax rates of those who make more than $5,000,000 a year, those who inherit their wealth from previous generations, and those who make money from having money (capital gains). However, merely taxing income isn’t sufficient enough to melt the glacier of wealth that the wealthiest 0.1 percent have amassed. When such a small number of people have accumulated such a vast amount of resources, such one-sided distribution has to be corrected.

While some defenders of capitalism would call this unwarranted class warfare, the only ones affected by such a tax increase would be, in 2007 numbers, just 46,000 taxpayers who collectively had over $670 billion in taxable income. Since over 96 million people filed taxes that year, that amounts to just one-half of the top one percent of taxpayers. And out of those 46,000 taxpayers, less than 14,000 estate tax returns were filed in 2008. That means only one-sixth of the top one percent of taxpayers would be affected by this tax increase. Daily Kos diarist “clammyc” originally proposed this idea, and called it the “fat cat,” “rich brat,” and “trust fund baby” tax. Over $100 billion could be generated each year with these new taxes, which would go a long way in paying for the aforementioned public investments.

4. Build a New Populist Political Party

Several readers responded to my previous article about capitalism by asking me if I favored socialism or communism. I honestly don’t know what -ism I would use to describe the economic system described above, and I don’t personally believe in communicating values and goals through -isms.

And while this may look to some like pie-in-the-sky utopianism, it can be achieved if we start building populist political power now. My anarchist friends advocate living off the grid, generating their own solar powered-electricity, hunting and gathering their own food, and self-governing through tribal principles. While I don’t oppose that, I also recognize that there are those of us who want to see truly systemic change in our lifetimes.

Both Democrats and Republicans have become captive to the same industries and oligarchs responsible for the rampant climate change, poverty, inequality, and greed destroying our economy. And the only alternative parties that currently exist don’t propose any real challenge to the Democratic/Republican stranglehold on our politics. These parties are usually led by a figurehead who runs as a perennial candidate in presidential elections, meaning none of these parties really exist outside of presidential elections. These figureheads are almost always white males, and come from positions of privilege, widening the disconnect between themselves and the rest of the population. The currently existing alternative parties also have to battle with being branded as perennial losers, steering people away before their candidates even have a chance to make their case.

However, a new party that actively opposes capitalism and unites people around the basic ideas of meeting human needs would be widely respected and immediately acknowledged. This new party could stand apart from the two corporate-owned parties by refusing to take campaign donations from corporations, banks and developers, standing up for the rights of immigrants and indigenous people, calling for sustainable energy and development, making education for all a top priority, and believing in universal access to healthcare as a human right. While it would take time, focusing on building power first at the local and county level is the surest way to make lasting change.

Who’s in?

ABOUT CARL GIBSON

 

Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. You can contact Carl at usuncut@gmail.com, and listen to his online radio talk show, Swag The Dog, at blogtalkradio.com/swag-the-dog.

________________________________________
Comment: Capitalism is Moneyism. Money (金 in Sino-Japanese character) represent Pyramidal System (金字塔: Money-character Tower). The artificial mono-directional Pyramidal System (fighting for Moneyism, Materialism, and Militarism) must shift to the natural cyclical Indra-net System (sharing Life, Mind, and Ecology). This paradigm shift needs to be done by changing the Triple Poisons of delusion (of me-ism), desire, and divisiveness to the Triple Learning of morality, concentration, and wisdom (prognosis). The fundamental shift must be from Karma (we are all karma-inheritors, -relatives, and -machines) to Dharma (Norm of Forms, Law of Phenomena: Dependent Origination of all phenomena). Please visit and watch Power Point presentations at: http://www.missourizencenter.org

Let’s Make Capitalism a Dirty Word

March 5, 2014

Anti-capitalist march in New York City. (photo: Workers Vanguard)
Anti-capitalist march in New York City. (photo: Workers Vanguard)

go to original article

 

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

05 March 14

 

Americans have literally becomes slaves to capitalism.

mmediately upon entering adulthood, Americans are forced to compete for increasingly-scarce employment. The purpose of most employment isn’t to create value for society or future generations, but to create profits for a scant few executives and shareholders. In order to be competitive enough to gain employment, Americans are expected to take on so much debt for a higher education that most of the income gained in their adult years will be spentpaying off that debt.

In return for all their hard work, Americans who aren’t executives or shareholders are paid just enough to meet basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter. Under the capitalist system, the majority of life for today’s average American before retirement is spent pursuing profits that will never be shared with them. And because capitalists like Pete Peterson and theKoch Brothers are so determined to weaken Social Security in the pursuit of ever-increasing profits, even retirement is unstable.

As a system predicated on the need to grow endlessly and never stagnate, capitalism is doomed to fail. I’ve written previously on this site about how capitalism is currently in its endgame, similar to the endgame of Monopoly, where one player has accumulated nearly all of the property and money, and all the other players are afraid to make any moves at all, lest they land on the wrong square and are destroyed by debt.

Capitalism is succeeding exactly like it’s supposed to – all the resources and wealth are concentrating into fewer and fewer hands and corporate profits are hitting record highs every quarter. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 are doing better than they’ve ever done in decades. Worker productivity and Gross Domestic Product has increased at a rapid pace, yet wages are stagnant.

As a direct result of the rise of corporate dominance of government, the profit motive has become the primary motive of operation not just for private businesses, but for government institutions. One example is the Department of Education booking $41.3 billion in profits off of student loans, even though the student loan bubble has surpassed the $1 trillion mark.

Groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council allow capitalists to write laws behind closed doors, then wine and dine state lawmakers to pass those laws in exchange for future campaign contributions from capitalists. Election laws are now set up to benefit capitalists who can anonymously donate millions of dollars to a Super PAC and dominate public airwaves with false advertising, while grassroots candidates without millions on their side are shut out of the public conversation.

Capitalists like General ElectricCitigroup and Monsanto can write legislation with members of Congress that stacks the deck in their favor while overseeing that legislation’s passage. Capitalists who own mercenary companies can get paid billions of dollars in defense contracts while pay and benefits for veterans are cut from the budget.

Capitalists like the Koch Brothers can escape accountability through foreign subsidiaries despite violating U.S trade laws, and banks like JPMorgan Chase can escape jail time despite frauding millions of homeowners. But homeless people like Gregory Taylor are sentenced to 25 years in jail for stealing bread.

During the Cold War era, if people didn’t openly embrace capitalism, they ran the risk of being called a Communist sympathizer and intimidated out of their job. But the tables are turning on capitalism as more and more people become aware of the consequences of capitalism.

In November of 2011, during the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, conservative messaging specialist Frank Luntz had a meeting with the Republican Governors’ Association to teach them how to address the growing populist energy sweeping the country.

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” Luntz said. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

Luntz’s first suggestion to the Republican governors was to stop saying the word “capitalism,” as it was believed by many in the country to be “immoral,” according to Luntz.

The Occupy movement was seen as a failure because it focused too heavily on critiquing capitalism rather than uniting around a proposed alternative to capitalism or creating viable solutions. But ironically, the nationally-coordinated crackdown on the Occupy movement was one of the best things to happen to the – it dispersed thousands of newly-trained radical organizers from city parks into cities.

Fast food worker strikes have been organized in over 100 cities. Occupy Wall Street’s “Strike Debt” project abolished $14.7 million in distressed medical debt and outpaced FEMA in disaster relief during Hurricane Sandy. The Occupy movement has gone from occupying city parks to building homes for the homeless, occupying foreclosed homes, and occupying city halls – not as protesters, but as elected officials. Rather than merely critiquing capitalism, the movement is actively contradicting and creating alternatives to it.

What will come after capitalism is uncertain. But what is certain is that there is more than enough wealth in the world to provide basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter to all people. A United Nations study estimated that to end global poverty, provide basic healthcare and education, combat diseases like HIV and malaria, create environmental stability, improve maternal health, address the gap in gender equality and reduce child mortality, developed nations would have to contribute just 0.7 percent of their gross national income over a ten-year period. For the United States, that would cost just $90 billion per year. That amounts to just 8.7 percent of our current military budget.

Despite such an obvious and easy solution, we all know we currently don’t have the political leadership to accomplish this, and likely won’t anytime soon if we depend solely on the Democratic and Republican parties. A new, populist, explicitly anti-capitalist party must emerge and start organizing at the grassroots level to build power over time. And this new political party must be led by and represent the young, the unemployed, underemployed and misemployed, people of color, people in debt, and everyone else who has been victimized by capitalism.

Capitalism is dead. Long live its replacement.


Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers