Archive for the ‘Pyramidal System to Cyclical System’ Category

Where’s the Outrage? Congress Changes Savings Accounts and Retirement Funds, and America Sleeps

December 18, 2014

(photo: TPM Muckraker)
(photo: TPM Muckraker)

By Tess Vigeland, Guardian UK

17 December 14

 

Nothing is permanent in this wicked world except banks getting whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of the risk to their own customers. Two major provisions in the US budget bill spell doom for US savers and retirees

o you remember where you were six years ago? Probably not. It was a long, long time ago. December 2008 is not one of those dates that gets burned on your brain, like the moon landing, or D-Day, or the end of Seinfeld.

But I remember where I was. I was at my post as the host of a personal finance show on national radio, and I was taking calls from people all over the country who were a) furious that their tax dollars were siphoned off to pay for a massive bank bailout that crashed the world economy, and b) outraged that the stock market was responding by wiping out their already-meager retirement and college education savings funds.

In December 2008, the number of jobs shrank by 533,000, the worst monthly loss in more than 30 years. Construction permits fell by more than 12% as people stopped buying houses. And retailers got a giant lump of coal from consumers, who decided that buying a bunch of worthless junk to put under a tree was probably not the best idea when their bank accounts – not the mention the country’s – were circling the drain.

“This shall not stand!” we cried, then. “We can never allow our own savings to be put at risk like this!”

And yet. Here we are again.

Congress has passed, and President Obama has said he would sign, a budget bill that allows banks to use your savings when they make giant financial bets called derivatives. Again.

And because those savings are insured by the federal government, you, the taxpayer, would be on the hook if those bets go south. Again.

This isn’t arcane financial stuff we can ignore. These are the exact financial mechanisms that led to the global crisis just six (short!) years ago. The Dodd-Frank reform law that was passed in the wake of that crisis forbade this from ever happening.

Charlie Chaplin said that nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles. I’d add that nothing is permanent in this wicked world except banks getting whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of the risk to their own customers. Regardless of the risk to the rest of us.

In addition to all that, this so-called compromise also contains a provision that would wreak havoc on the pensions of more than 10 million American workers, who likely have no idea this is coming.

Pension plans were promises to employees that they could count on a certain income in retirement. Unlike the 401k that most of us are familiar with, where we have to rely on our own savings and our own strategies for investing that money, pensions were a guaranteed payout.

That’s why pensions don’t really exist anymore: because they’re expensive, and if a company doesn’t plan correctly, it’s easy to run out of money. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, or PBGC, has to take over the plans from employers who go bankrupt or bust or simply can’t make the payments.

That has happened over and over again, and workers with those pensions have found their benefits cut in half or even more.

Now there’s a real pension crisis. The PBGC itself is now in something of a hole, and warned recently that it doesn’t have the reserves to pay even the reduced amount of the income that was promised to millions of workers.

And a proposal in this same budget bill would allow some pension plans to cut current benefits to employees who are retired – if those plans can show that they’ll otherwise run out of money in the next 10-20 years. The proposal applies to multi-employer pension plans, which cover a diverse cross-section of blue-collar workers such as truck drivers and people in construction.

This isn’t supposed to be legal.

From their beginnings, if you were already retired, your benefits were supposed to be untouchable.

Change the payout on workers who are still working, sure (because it’s OK to break promises and alter people’s lives as long as you give a few years’ notice), but don’t touch the folks who’ve already started the golden years.

But now, they’re fair game, too.

Supporters say this is simply part of the necessary give-and-take of the political process. Nonsense. They can make other choices that don’t subject Americans to financial ruin.

As someone who spent six years taking calls on-air from people who will never fully recover from the devastating losses they experienced during and after the 2008 crisis, and from pensioners who watched their benefits get cut and wondered how all the financial planning they did around that number they were promised was somehow rendered useless, I wish I could go back in a time machine and warn everyone that George Santayana was right: those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it, or worse, allow it to be repeated by others.

People in the personal finance field love to talk about how if we could just get more Americans to save, if we could just get more Americans to learn the basics of the stock market, if we could just convince Americans to forego that latte at Starbucks, if we could just put Americans on a budget, then things would be OK.

But how is any of that supposed to work when banks can use people’s savings to play the roulette wheel that is the stock market – and then when they lose, they just order another cup of coffee and use the federal budget to make sure that the losses fall not on them but on the people who just tried to save a little money in the first place?

This one is only on workers if they say nothing and fail to educate themselves on what is being plundered from their futures. The powers that be are counting on you not to pay attention, or to feel so impotent that you just give up and say “Well, really, what can I do?”

How about instead of calling a personal finance show, you call your senator or representative and tell them your story, and ask them how they would solve your financial predicament? They should hear your stories. When I heard them, I got angry, I felt for you and I tried to help.

Maybe if you tell those stories, someone else will listen, and try to help. Or at least try not to make things worse.

 

Banks, Multinationals and Governments are Stealing Our Future. Here’s How We Win It Back

December 18, 2014

There’s never been a better time to organize a general strike in the U.S. than right now. We must stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and put an end to government authorized bailouts.

On Monday, Dec. 15, all of Belgium was completely shut down from a nationwide general strike in protest of economic reforms that largely punish working people. The strike cancelled 600 flights for 50,000 passengers at the Brussels airport. High-speed trains to France, Netherlands, and the UK were all cancelled, buses didn’t run their routes, workers didn’t come to the office, and nobody went to school. While numbers aren’t yet available, Belgian workers certainly demonstrated that they are the ultimate deciders of whether or not the economy works for everyone or grinds to a halt. The U.S. should take a page from the Belgian playbook if we want to beat back the corporate assault on our livelihoods, homes and futures.

Belgium Fights Back

The general strike was the climax of a series of actions that started on Nov. 6, when over 100,000 workers mobilized to launch a movement resisting the new government’s austerity measures. After being elected in October, Prime Minister Charles Michel laid out plans to raise the retirement age, freeze a cost-of-living increase for public workers, and drastically cut budgets for public services like healthcare and education. Michel says the programs, recommended by the IMF and the European Union, will save an additional $13.7 billion over five years, but workers say the new government’s austerity measures will end up costing the economy an additional $2.5 billion. For a good example of how central banks’ forced austerity doesn’t work, look to Greece.

Banker-imposed austerity in Greece worked precisely how it was supposed to – punishing the poor to reward the rich. On average, Greeks are 40 percent poorer than they were in 2008, while rich Greeks are 20 percent richer, according to a 2014 report from the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College. That same report points out that Greeks’ purchasing power is down 37 percent after wages were slashed by 25 percent. While big banks were bailed out, the Greek unemployment rate has climbed to 27 percent while pensions and social services have been slashed. Anywhere in the world the austerity agenda is implemented, it only brings more misery to working people.

How Belgium’s Class War Mirrors the U.S.

When it comes to economic inequality, Belgium and the United States have a lot in common. While the U.S. is the world’s second-richest country, Brussels, Belgium is the third-richest region in the European Union. Yet, while the richest 1 percent of the United States captured 95 percent of all gains from the recent economic “recovery” the U.S. still has the second-highest child poverty rate in the world. Similarly, one in three children in Brussels lives in poverty.

The employment picture in the U.S. and Belgium is equally bleak. Youth unemployment in Belgium is 24 percent as of October 2014. In the US, a staggering 12.8 percent of youth are unemployed. While there are jobs available for highly-educated workers in both countries in certain high-tech industries, education is only available to the economically privileged. For most living-wage jobs in the U.S., a prerequisite to consideration is a college degree. However, the average American college graduate is $30,000 in debt upon leaving school, and 18 percent of Americans say they’ll be in debt for the rest of their lives.

In Belgium, there are 112 inquiries for every one job vacancy, and jobs that do pay enough to make a living are unavailable to the country’s vast migrant population. This is largely due to persisting education inequality that leaves Belgium’s immigrants at a crippling disadvantage. A 2012 report from L’appel pour une ecole democratique (APED) analyzed data from the Program for International Student Assessment and found that schools in both Belgium and France ranked behind all other countries in providing equal opportunity for both migrant and native students to succeed. In Belgium, there was a far higher representation of migrant children in underprivileged schools, higher dropout rates, and widespread discrimination against students based on their country of origin.

Likewise in the U.S., a 2012 report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education found that in New York City, black and latino students are four times as likely to be enrolled in understaffed, underfunded schools than white students. The report also found that none of New York City’s highest-performing schools were located in majority black and latino neighborhoods, like Central Brooklyn, South Bronx, and Harlem. Likewise, in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 54 public schools in mostly poor neighborhoods with a high concentration of black students, while allocating over $300 million to a slush fund that largely benefits his campaign donors. Philadelphia closed 23 schools in low-income neighborhoods while spending $400 million on a new prison. See the pattern yet?

The Escalating Class War in the U.S.

While there’s no call for a general strike in the U.S., there should be, given the austerity budget that just passed Congress. The $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” spending bill that will fund the federal government through next September includes a Christmas wish list for the banks and a stocking full of coal for those who need the most help. $300 million was diverted from Pell Grants to student loan debt collectors, making access to higher education even more of a pipe dream for low-income would-be college students. $300 million was cut from support housing programs that help ease chronic homelessness. Another $93 million was cut from the program that provides food assistance to low-income women, infants, and children. In the meantime, Congress spent $479 million on the F-35 jet, which not even the Pentagon wants, and used taxpayers as the cushion for the big banks whenever the $700 trillion derivatives bubble pops. But the crominbus is just the beginning.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which has been negotiated in secret between government officials and over 600 corporate lobbyists for over a year, is likely to become a reality after the 114th Congress is sworn in this January, and possibly even before then. President Obama may try to fast-track the deal through Congress, meaning it will be put to an up-or-down vote without even a chance for discussion or debate of its contents. The reason the details of the TPP have been so closely guarded and why the process is being rushed is due to the horrific nature of the agreement, at least the parts that have been made available to the public.

If the TPP were put into place, it would effectively make world governments subservient to multinational corporations. It would make it easier for companies like Walmart to ship jobs to Vietnam, where workers are paid half as much as in China, and enable the same hazardous working conditions that led to the collapse of a Bangladesh clothing factory in 2013, or the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York during the Industrial Revolution.

The TPP would also set up corporate tribunals, in which corporations could sue any government over any environmental or labor regulation for infringing on the company’s expected future profits. If the TPP were ratified, any attempt to break up the big banks or regulate toxic derivatives trading would be prohibited, and enable corporations to shift even more profits overseas to avoid paying domestic taxes. The only thing that could affect corporate power after the TPP’s ratification would be a general strike – particularly in the U.S., where a lot of these corporations rely on American customers to buy their products.

General Strikes Give Corporations a Dose of Their Own Medicine

IWW organizer Big Bill Haywood accurately described the relationships between working people and the ownership classes in that workers have “always been taught” to care for the capitalist’s private property, while owners will readily go on a capital strike and shut down a factory or ship jobs elsewhere if anything happens to their profits. A general strike thereby flips the tables on the capitalists, depriving the ownership class of their profits if owners do anything to upset workers’ wages, working conditions, or benefits. In doing so, workers remind owners and political leaders that the performance of the economy is entirely dependent on workers being happy and having their needs met.

General strikes have been used throughout the last century as a means for working people to assert power over the ownership class, in countries from Honduras to Yemen. In 2000, a general strike stopped the Bechtel Corporation from privatizing Cochabamba, Bolivia’s water supply. During the initial popular revolt in Egypt in 2011, before the movement was co-opted by the military, protest organizers successfully organized strikes that cost the Egyptian economy $310 million a day. The April 6 movement that preceded the 2011 uprising successfully organized a nationwide general strike several years before that had similar impacts on the economy.

There’s never been a better time to organize a general strike in the U.S. than right now, with both the corporate owners and political leaders pillaging public resources for their own private gain. If the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ratified, or if the government authorizes another bailout of the big banks with our money, the citizens can choose to either shut down the corporate establishment by depriving it of their labor and purchasing power, or succumb to the global corporate coup. The choice is ours to make.

The CIA’s Torture Program

December 12, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 12/11/2014 at 23:15:13

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Reprinted from Paul Craig Roberts

From youtube.com/watch?v=QfsszYOI1KM: CIA Torture Report Exposes Bush and Cheney War Crimes
CIA Torture Report Exposes Bush and Cheney War Crimes
(image by YouTube)

Readers have asked for my take on the CIA torture report. There is so much information and commentary available that it is unnecessary.

Igor Volsky provides a concise summary. President George W. Bush signed off on torture and then told the gullible people that “this government does not torture people.” The torture was horrific.

The CIA even tortured its own informers. Two American psychologists who designed the torture program were paid $81 million.

CIA torturers received cash awards for “consistently superior work” when their innocent victims died.

The US government involved 54 countries in its torture program. The rendition program sent detainees to other countries where they were tortured in secret “black sites.”

Obama tortures also.

Those Americans who committed crimes as horrific as any in history have been given a pass by Obama. No accountability for their crimes. This finishes offthe rule of law in America, which was already on life support.

CIA Torture Report Sparks Worldwide Condemnation. Even Nations That Participated Were Shocked How Far It Went.

Former president of Poland admits that Poland hosted a CIA torture prison.

CIA destroyed evidence of its crimes: click here

Instead of apologizing for the CIA’s destruction of our country’s reputation, CIA director John Brennan defended the policy and claimed it helped to protect us from terrorists. The CIA fought for months to block even the release of the truncated and redacted report that made it to the public. Have a look at Brennan: He looks more dangerous than a Nazi.

Just google “CIA torture report” and you will find much to read, including justifications of the torture program by neoconservatives, Republican members of the House and Senate, Dick Cheney, the presstitute media, and a large number of others.

Here’s my two cents: One purpose of the torture program was to produce self-incriminated “terrorists” to justify and feed the hoax “war on terror.” The “war on terror” was public cover for secret agendas that the American people would have rejected. This is disturbing enough. Even more disturbing, the torture program shows that no one in the US and European governments who knew of the program and participated in torture has an ounce of humanity, integrity, compassion, and morality. They are evil people, and the ones who inflicted the torture enjoyed the pain and suffering that they inflicted on others.

The only exceptional thing about the US is the extent of the evil that resides in Washington, D.C.

 

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book,  How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here.

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End of the Empire

December 10, 2014
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OpEdNews Op Eds 12/7/2014 at 11:21:26

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For the mothers, fathers, children, grand parents and friends in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and countless other places, who are brutally murdered, bombed by drones, kidnapped, detained and tortured by the US government with impunity, the pain of that day in ferguson when Mike Brown was gunned down by a police officer, or that day in Staten Island when Eric Garner was choked to death by a police officer is a daily reality of their lives.

Mike Brown, Eric Garner and countless other black men have been murdered by the same arms and legs of the empire, which has been killing and destroying ruthlessly across the globe.

If we are to let the empire devour the Middle East, Africa, and demand justice only for the blacks in the US, I don’t think we’ll get it.

And demand it from whom? Begging the killers not to kill our kids? Spare only our own?

There is a fundamental truth we need to be clear about; we are governed by an illegitimate, criminal empire. And without seeing this fundamental truth, there won’t be any real progress for the people.

The US doesn’t bomb, send assassins, support terrorists and destabilize a nation just to make people suffer. They use violence to unleash chaos, anger, fear, distrust and confusion in the targeted nation. And while the population is paralyzed, they restructure the economy, destroy the communities and replace them with a proxy nation with a proxy dictator. Then they steal from the nation.

Why is the US government giving away military weapons to our local police? Why are those community leaders and police chiefs acting like proxy dictators for the bankers and defense contractors? Why are the mainstream media–the faithful servants of the government, propagandizing the unfair international treaties, war efforts, attack on the poor, war on drugs, fear of foreign terrorists and so on–agitating the public by sensationalizing the protests and police violence?

Because that’s how the empire works.

The street cops keep murdering young Black men, instigating fear and outrage among us. And the same elected officials who express sympathy toward the Black communities support further military buildups in nations in turmoil while militarizing our police, and beefing up the spy agency apparatus. Half of our tax money has gone for wars and the loss of civil liberty, funds that could have been used for free higher education for all, free healthcare for all, much needed social safety nets for the poor; we could have built the foundation to shift our society to renewable energy sources. But no, they go for fear, rule of unjust laws, exploitation and subjugation. Because that is the way empire works.

There is one notable truth about American exceptionalism. It’s not about the government. But it’s about the people. When the people of the US revolt with the intention of doing away with the empire, there is an exceptional quality to the act. We can end the sufferings, deaths and destructions in numerous other nations on this planet.

Those brave people who are shutting down streets, bridges, tunnels, and public places with their bodies are proving that we do have the power to stop the machine. If more of us, including the police officers, soldiers, public officials and bureaucrats, walk out of their places and join the power against death and destruction, that will end the empire.

And I don’t underestimate the countless people who went before us with that dream. That dream, their struggles, their words and their passion for humanity live with us, brewing to burst out to pave the beginning of the new era for all of us.

 

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Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the (more…)

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November 29, 2014
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The Washington Post

Ferguson Isn’t About Black Rage Against Cops. It’s White Rage Against Progress.

On Aug. 17, police in Ferguson, Mo., wait to advance after using tear gas to disperse a crowd protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown. (Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)

When we look back on what happened in Ferguson, Mo., during the summer of 2014, it will be easy to think of it as yet one more episode of black rage ignited by yet another police killing of an unarmed African American male. But that has it precisely backward. What we’ve actually seen is the latest outbreak of white rage. Sure, it is cloaked in the niceties of law and order, but it is rage nonetheless.

Protests and looting naturally capture attention. But the real rage smolders in meetings where officials redraw precincts to dilute African American voting strength or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment. It goes virtually unnoticed, however, because white rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.

White rage recurs in American history. It exploded after the Civil War, erupted again to undermine the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision and took on its latest incarnation with Barack Obama’s ascent to the White House. For every action of African American advancement, there’s a reaction, a backlash.

The North’s victory in the Civil War did not bring peace. Instead, emancipation brought white resentment that the good ol’ days of black subjugation were over. Legislatures throughout the South scrambled to reinscribe white supremacy and restore the aura of legitimacy that the anti-slavery campaign had tarnished. Lawmakers in several states created the Black Codes, which effectively criminalized blackness, sanctioned forced labor and undermined every tenet of democracy. Even the federal authorities’ promise of 40 acres — land seized from traitors who had tried to destroy the United States of America — crumbled like dust.

Influential white legislators such as Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (R-Pa.) and Sen. Charles Sumner (R-Mass.) tried to make this nation live its creed, but they were no match for the swelling resentment that neutralized the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, and welcomed the Supreme Court’s 1876 United States vs. Cruikshank decision, which undercut a law aimed at stopping the terror of the Ku Klux Klan.

Nearly 80 years later, Brown v. Board of Education seemed like another moment of triumph — with the ruling on the unconstitutionality of separate public schools for black and white students affirming African Americans’ rights as citizens. But black children, hungry for quality education, ran headlong into more white rage. Bricks and mobs at school doors were only the most obvious signs. In March 1956, 101 members of Congress issued the Southern Manifesto, declaring war on the Brown decision. Governors in Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and elsewhere then launched “massive resistance.” They created a legal doctrine, interposition, that supposedly nullified any federal law or court decision with which a state disagreed. They passed legislation to withhold public funding from any school that abided by Brown. They shut down public school systems and used tax dollars to ensure that whites could continue their education at racially exclusive private academies. Black children were left to rot with no viable option.

A little more than half a century after Brown, the election of Obama gave hope to the country and the world that a new racial climate had emerged in America, or that it would. But such audacious hopes would be short-lived. A rash of voter-suppression legislation, a series of unfathomable Supreme Court decisions, the rise of stand-your-ground laws and continuing police brutality make clear that Obama’s election and reelection have unleashed yet another wave of fear and anger.

It’s more subtle — less overtly racist — than in 1865 or even 1954. It’s a remake of the Southern Strategy, crafted in the wake of the civil rights movement to exploit white resentment against African Americans, and deployed with precision by Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. As Reagan’s key political strategist, Lee Atwater, explained in a 1981 interview: “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N—–, n—–, n—–.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘n—–’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like ‘forced busing,’ ‘states’ rights’ and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that.” (The interview was originally published anonymously, and only years later did it emerge that Atwater was the subject.)

Now, under the guise of protecting the sanctity of the ballot box, conservatives have devised measures — such as photo ID requirements — to block African Americans’ access to the polls. A joint report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the NAACP emphasized that the ID requirements would adversely affect more than 6 million African American voters. (Twenty-five percent of black Americans lack a government-issued photo ID, the report noted, compared with only 8 percent of white Americans.) The Supreme Court sanctioned this discrimination in Shelby County v. Holder , which gutted the Voting Rights Act and opened the door to 21st-century versions of 19th-century literacy tests and poll taxes.

The economic devastation of the Great Recession also shows African Americans under siege. The foreclosure crisis hit black Americans harder than any other group in the United States. A 2013 report by researchers at Brandeis University calculated that “half the collective wealth of African-American families was stripped away during the Great Recession,” in large part because of the impact on home equity. In the process, the wealth gap between blacks and whites grew: Right before the recession, white Americans had four times more wealth than black Americans, on average; by 2010, the gap had increased to six times. This was a targeted hit. Communities of color were far more likely to have riskier, higher-interest-rate loans than white communities, with good credit scores often making no difference.

Add to this the tea party movement’s assault on so-called Big Government, which despite the sanitized language of fiscal responsibility constitutes an attack on African American jobs. Public-sector employment, where there is less discrimination in hiring and pay, has traditionally been an important venue for creating a black middle class.

So when you think of Ferguson, don’t just think of black resentment at a criminal justice system that allows a white police officer to put six bullets into an unarmed black teen. Consider the economic dislocation of black America. Remember a Florida judge instructing a jury to focus only on the moment when George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin interacted, thus transforming a 17-year-old, unarmed kid into a big, scary black guy, while the grown man who stalked him through the neighborhood with a loaded gun becomes a victim. Remember the assault on the Voting Rights Act. Look at Connick v. Thompson, a partisan 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2011 that ruled it was legal for a city prosecutor’s staff to hide evidence that exonerated a black man who was rotting on death row for 14 years. And think of a recent study by Stanford University psychology researchers concluding that, when white people were told that black Americans are incarcerated in numbers far beyond their proportion of the population, “they reported being more afraid of crime and more likely to support the kinds of punitive policies that exacerbate the racial disparities,” such as three-strikes or stop-and-frisk laws.

Only then does Ferguson make sense. It’s about white rage.

Carol Anderson is an associate professor of African American studies and history at Emory University and a public voices fellow with the Op-Ed Project. She is the author of “Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960.”

Why the Right Keeps Winning and the Liberals and Progressives Keep Losing

November 11, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/10/2014 at 20:25:20

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Why does the Right keep winning in American politics, sometimes through electoral victories, sometimes by having the Democrats and others on the Left adopt what were traditionally right-wing policies and perspectives? Sure, I know that progressives won some important local battles in 2014: A few towns in California, Texas, and Ohio banned fracking. A few towns in Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, and Illinois supported ballot measures to overturn Citizens United. Richmond, California, stood up to Chevron, and Berkeley stood up to “Big Soda.”

But the overall direction of the country for the past forty years has given increasing strength to right-wing politicians in the Republican Party and opportunists in the Democratic Party who effectively do much of the same work that these right-wingers would do when they win political power. So why has this been happening? And why do so many people end up voting to elect politicians who are committed to enacting policies that hurt the economic well-being of a significant section (not the majority, but many) of the people who voted for them?

I asked this question first to thousands of people whom my research team and I encountered when I was Principal Investigator for an NIMH-sponsored study about how to deal with stress at work and stress in family life. At the time Ronald Reagan was president and he had won in part by winning many votes of middle-income working people.

The answer given by the media then, and often proffered today as well by the Democrats is, “It’s the economy, stupid.” They didn’t give that explanation up when Reaganomics produced heavy economic losses for working people who continued to vote Republican, and they didn’t give that explanation up when the Clinton/Gore years produced a booming economy and yet Gore lost (OK, he won but for the Supreme Court, but that was only made possible because of how close the vote was–and why would it have been so close if “the economy” is the determining issue?)

Nor am I convinced when recent statisticians show that those with the least income give ten votes to Democrats to every eight they give to Republicans, thus supposedly showing that people always vote their economic interests. The issue remains: those whose economic interests are not served by a politics that caters to the wealthy (those eight who vote Republican when the Republicans over and over again try to dismantle economic programs that might help them) continue to support those politicians, and that gives the Right the electoral edge it would never have on the grounds of its policies (most people who vote for them, according to recent polls, don’t agree with their specific policy positions).

What my research team discovered was the following:

1. Most Americans work in an economy that teaches them the common sense of global capitalism: “Everyone is out for themselves and will seek to advance their own interests without regard to your well-being, so the only rational path is for you to seek to advance your own interests in the same way. Those who have more money and power than you have are just better at seeking their own self-interest, because this is a meritocratic society in which you end up where you deserve to end up, so stop whining about the differences in wealth and power, because if you deserved more you would have more.”

2. Now here is the central contradiction: most people hate this kind of reality. They believe that it is in stark contrast to the values they would like to live by but simultaneously they also believe that the logic of capitalist society is the only possible reality, and that they would be fools not to try to live by it in every part of their lives. This message is reinforced in our workplaces and also by almost every sitcom and television news story available. But most people hate that this is the case. They often will tell you, “Everyone is selfish and materialistic, so I’d be a fool to be the one person who is caring for others in a world where everyone is just out for themselves.” Unconsciously, many people adopt the values of the marketplace, and these values have a corrosive impact on their own friendships, relationships, and family life.

3. So when many Americans encounter a different reality in right-wing churches that have specialized in creating supportive communities, they feel much more addressed there than they’ve ever felt in progressive movements that focus on economic entitlements or political rights and sometimes disintegrate due to internal tensions over dynamics of relative privilege and unproductive feelings of guilt. Only rarely do these liberal or progressive movements actually manifest a loving community that seems to care specifically about the people who come to their public talks or gatherings–the experience is more about hearing a good speech than about encountering people who want to know who you are and what you need–precisely what happens in most right-wing churches.

Is it really a surprise that people who so rarely encounter this kind of caring among the people with whom they work or the people whom they see angling for power or sexual conquest in the movies and TV would feel more seen and recognized for having some value in the Right than in much of the Left? Sadly, the cost of belonging to those right-wing churches is this: that they demean or put-down those deemed to be “Other”–those who are not part of their community. These “others” (including feminists, African Americans, immigrants, gays and lesbians, and increasingly all liberals) are blamed for the ethos of selfishness and breakdown of loving relationships and families. This is ironic because in fact the breakdown of loving relationships is largely a product of the increasing internalization of the utilitarian or instrumental way people have come to view each other, a product of bringing home into personal life, friendships, and marriages the very values that the Right esteems and champions in the competitive economy.

4. The Democrats, and most of the Left, have little understanding of this dynamic and rarely position themselves as the voice challenging the values of the marketplace or the instrumental way of thinking that is the produce of the materialism and selfishness of the competitive marketplace. So even when facing huge political setbacks, as in the 2014 midterm elections, you will hear the smartest of liberals and progressives acknowledging that what is needed is some kind of unifying worldview that the Democrats have failed to articulate in the six years that they have occupied the White House and had the majority in the House of Representatives. They imagine that if they can put forward a pro-working class economic program, that will be sufficient to change the dynamics of American politics.

They are right that they need a coherent vision, but it can’t solely be an economic populism. What people need to hear is an account of the way the suffering they experience in their personal lives, the breakdown of families, the loneliness and inability to trust other people, the sense of being surrounded by selfish and materialistic people, and the self-blaming they experience when their own relationships feel less fulfilling than they had hoped for are all a product of the triumph of the way people have internalized the values of the capitalist marketplace. This suffering can only be overcome when the capitalist system itself is replaced by one based on love, caring, kindness, generosity and a New Bottom Line that no longer judges corporations, government policies, or social institutions as “efficient,” “productive” or “rational” solely by the extent to which they maximize money or power. Instead, liberals and progressives need to be advocating a New Bottom Line that focuses on how much any given institution or economic or social policy or practice tends to maximize our capacities to be loving and caring, kind and generous, environmentally responsible, and capable of transcending a narrow utilitarian attitude toward other human beings and capable of responding to the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur and beauty of all that is.

Progressives inside and outside the Democratic Party need to develop a Spiritual Covenant that can apply this New Bottom Line to every aspect of our society–our economy, our corporations, our educational system, our legal system. In short, a progressive worldview that deeply rejects the way most of our institutions today teach people the values of “looking out for number one” and maximizing one’s own material well being without regard to the consequences for others or for the environment. Armed with an alternative worldview, progressives would have a chance of helping working people stop blaming themselves for their situation, stop blaming some other, and see that it is the whole system that needs a fundamental makeover.

But many liberals and progressives are religiophobic and thus believe that talk of love and caring is mere psycho-babble. As a result they cede to the Right the values issues rather than providing an alternative set of values in which love and generosity and caring for the Earth would take center place. We in the Network of Spiritual Progressives have developed a model of what it would look like to put values such as love and caring into political practice. Doing so would include implementing a Global Marshall Plan and passing an Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The latter amendment would require that all state and federal elections be financed solely through public funding–all other monies would be totally banned. The amendment would also require any corporation with an income above $50 million/year that is operating or selling its services or products within the U.S. to get a new corporate charter once every five years. Such charters would only be granted to those that could prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a panel of ordinary citizens who would also hear the testimony of people around the world who have been impacted by the policies, behavior, and advertising of those corporations. We in the Network of Spiritual Progressives have also begun professional task forces to envision what each profession would look like if they were in fact governed by The New Bottom Line. Read more at spiritualprogressives.org.

The environmental movement had the possibility of helping people make this transition in consciousness had it focused more on helping people see that the planet is not just an economic “resource,” but a living being that nurtures and sustains life and which appropriately would engender awe, wonder, and radical amazement, and hence celebration of the universe of which it is a part. But in order to be “realistic,” most major environmental organizations, and even most of the local anti-fracking and local-oriented environmental initiatives have avoided this spiritual dimension, instead framing their issues in narrow self-interest terms that are then countered by the supporters of fracking, pipelines, and other environmentally destructive approaches by pointing out that these approaches can generate jobs and revenues. Stick to framing things on narrow and short-term material self-interest terms, and the corporate apologists have a plausible if misleading argument. It’s only when you address the environment in terms of the New Bottom Line that you can provide a way to reach people who otherwise get attracted to the arguments of the Right.

What the Left keeps on missing is that people have a set of spiritual needs–for a life of meaning and purpose that transcends the logic of the competitive marketplace and its ethos of materialism and selfishness, for communities that address those needs, and for loving friends and families that are best sustained when they share some higher vision than self-interest. The reason that the gay and lesbian struggle for marriage equality went from seeming impossibly utopian to winning in a majority of states in a very short while was that the proponents of that struggle switched their rhetoric from “we demand our equal rights” to “we are loving people who want our love to flourish and be supported in this society.” That same kind of switch toward higher values and purpose, and touching into our shared desire for loving and caring world, could make the Left a winner again, instead of a consistent loser.

5. Nothing alienates middle-income working people more than the usual reason progressives and liberals give for why they are losing elections or failing to gain more support for their programs: namely, that Americans are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or just plain dumb. Most Americans may not know the details of the programs put forward by political movements or parties, by they know when they are being demeaned, and that is precisely what gives the Right the ability to describe the Left as “elitist,” thereby obscuring the way right-wing politics serves the real elites of wealth and power.

And then radio and TV right-wingers effectively mobilize the anger and frustration people feel at living in a society where love and caring are so hard to come by–against the Left! This is the ultimate irony: the capitalist marketplace generates a huge amount of anger, but with its meritocratic fantasy it convinces people that it is their own failings that are to blame for why their lives don’t feel more fulfilling. So that anger is internalized and manifests in alcoholism, drug abuse, violence in families, high rates of divorce, road rage, and support for militaristic ventures around the world.

The Right mobilizes this anger–and directs it against liberals and progressives. And that actually feels great for many people, because it relieves their self-blaming and allows them to express their frustrations (though sadly at the wrong targets). Only a movement that understands all these dynamics, and can help people understand that their anger is appropriate but that it is wrongly directed can progressives hope to win against the Right.

But instead of addressing that anger against the political and economic system, the Democrats are often seen as champions of the exiting system (and not mistakenly when President Obama seems more interested in serving the interests of the 1 percent than in challenging the distortions of the banks and the investment companies and the powerful corporations. All the worse that after the 2014 election, Obama is once again talking about finding common ground with the Republicans–that has guided his policies for the past six years. Democrats keep on thinking that if they look more like the Right, they’ll win more credibility. All they win is the disdain of the majority.

6. As if all this weren’t bad enough, the Obama presidency has put the final blow to liberals and progressives by eliciting hope in a different kind of world, then capitulating to the special interests. People who allowed themselves to hope in 2008 may need decades of recovery time till they can again believe in any political path–or we need psycho-spiritual progressive therapists who can help us build an alternative both insides and outside the Democratic Party. We need to speak honestly about this disillusionment and help people feel less humiliated that they believed in Obama’s rhetoric of hope. And we need to show that many people who at first seem impossibly right-wing actually want a world of love and caring too, and have never heard liberals and progressives speak that kind of language.

7. The first step in recovery is to create large public gatherings at which liberals and progressives can mourn our losses, acknowledge the many mistakes we’ve made in the past decades, and then develop a strategy for how most effectively to challenge the assumptions of the capitalist marketplace that are shared by too many who otherwise think of themselves as progressives. Without this kind of a recovery process, we are likely to end up with more and deeper despair in 2016 and beyond.

Our Network of Spiritual Progressives is taking a step in this direction by trying to reach out to people in every ethnicity, race, and faith or atheist community, and inviting you to the University of San Francisco in San Francisco, California, on December 14 for a one-day gathering (starting after church to respect those who go to pray on Sunday mornings) to discuss these issues and to start developing a winning strategy for healing and transforming our world. We will post more info atspiritualprogressives.org starting next week (November 20).

If you live in another state and want to attend something like this, then work to assemble a large group of people. If you do so, we will come to your part of the country to shape a discussion of this sort for the people you know. We need hundreds of such meetings to help reorient the liberal and progressive forces, not discounting all that they are doing, but only seeking to help them integrate into that work a shared worldview (the New Bottom Line) and a psycho-spiritual sensitivity that will make them far more effective.

We’re happy to also publicize other gatherings sponsored in any place in the United States where people are willing to see how badly we need a fundamental rethinking of the assumptions that have led liberals and progressives to become so unsuccessful in capturing the imagination and loyalty of the American people.

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Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine http://www.tikkun.org, chair of the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives http://www.spiritualprogressives.org, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue-without-walls in Berkeley and (more…)

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Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine http://www.tikkun.org, chair of the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives http://www.spiritualprogressives.org, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue-without-walls in Berkeley and (more…)

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“The United States is not a true democracy”

November 7, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 11/7/2014 at 10:45:13

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democracy???
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“The United States is not a true democracy” Says who? Former Congressman Ron Paul. “We have a monopoly of ideas which are controlled by leaders of the two parties” They call it a two party system, it’s really a one philosophy.” What is that philosophy one may ask? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First things first. Is Ron Paul right? If he is, what of the “philosophy”?

Commenting on the mid-term election, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, calls the American electoral politics a “charade of democracy”. (1) In Atlanta, in July 2013, Jimmy Carter declared: “America has no functioning democracy at this moment”. (2) In 2006, “Sandra Day O’Connor, a Republican-appointed judge on the Supreme Court, said the US is in danger of edging towards dictatorship if the party’s right-wingers continue to attack the judiciary.” (3) Senator Frank Church — who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — said in 1975: “The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left”” (4)(5) If the statements do not prove Ron Paul right they do demonstrate the elite’s skepticism vis–vis the American democracy. Only the innocent, the naïve or the spin doctors would disagree. But, what’s the philosophy of that one-party system?

It rests on two credos: “the axis of evil” and “starving the beast”, i.e. world hegemony and unfettered capitalism. They are other subjects, such as immigration, health, energy, etc., but the credos worked their way through the political spectrum over time, and dominate the political discourse today. The Project for a New American Century is the foundation of the hegemonic philosophy. Destroying Iraq, Libya and Syria, bringing Ukraine into NATO, pivoting the US navy to Asia are meant to ensure world domination through Middle East oil access control, Russia’s encirclement and China’s isolation. Unfettered capitalism is a product of Wall Street. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 which replaced the Glass-Steagall Act of 1993, is the epitome of an economy operated for profit only. In a market economy, the state is an adjunct whose role is limited to basic functions: defense, justice, police, education, etc. The Tea Party is often said to be the proponent of this philosophy. Its members are “useful idiots”. The Party is a front for the 1% — the wealthiest Americans.

The question is: “are these credos viable?” The answer is no. The United States’ hegemonic policy is restless, dangerous and doomed to fail. Incredible as it may seem, some neoconservatives believe a nuclear first strike against Russia could be successful! The ongoing attempt to remove Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence is senseless, tantamount to Russia or China trying to achieve the same with Canada or Mexico. The United States almost went to nuclear war following Khrushchev’s decision to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. Why is it OK for the United States to install anti-ballistic missiles in Poland but not for Russia in Cuba? Doesn’t it occur to the Washington intelligentsia that Russia may be tempted to launch a nuclear attack on the United States if the pressure on its borders becomes too high? Washington D.C. which often conceives of itself as a modern day Rome — witness the numerous extra-territorial laws inflicted on other nations — would do well to remember that Rome was unable to conquer Germany or Persia and had to leave Britain. World hegemony is a pipedream.

So is an unregulated market economy. The Great Recession which follows the subprime crisis due to the banks’ reckless behavior is testimony to this evidence. The recovery is artificial and fragile. Unemployment is understated as is inflation, boosting the economic growth rate in the process. Shale oil and gas production are providing a welcome, if temporary, lift to the economy at an unquantified but real ecological cost. Median income hasn’t budged in almost a quarter of a century. (6) Drawing on their savings help Americans maintain their life style. The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy had the effect of boosting financial markets with questionable long term benefits. In its last October meeting, the bank decided to end the policy without knowing what the effect will be. The shadow banking — an unregulated banking sector — continues to grow and to be a threat to the stability of the economy. Social security disbursements are growing at an exponential rate from 2.5% in 1962 to 10% this year and 12% in 2024. But fiscal revenues remain fixed at 18% of GDP over the same period, raising question as to the increasingly large budget deficit, expected to reach 4% in 2024. That year, the Federal debt will equal 80% of GDP, up from 42% in 1962. This development is prompting Tea Party members to demand spending cuts, not realizing that they will be the first to suffer since they are the primary beneficiaries of the social programs. In their minds, the main recipients are the blacks.

Every country, whatever its constitution or political system, is ruled by a small group of individuals. In Britain, the ruling elite is the aristocracy and the City. In France, it’s the Grandes ecoles’ graduates together with the administrative corps and the unions. In the United States, it’s Wall Street, the military industrial complex, the oil industry, AIPAC, and a few other lobbies.(7)

Whoever is in the White House doesn’t matter much. As Ron Paul said, the overall philosophy remains the same. Unfortunately, the “philosophy”, on both the international and domestic fronts, is wrong, suicidal even. The United States cannot rule the world nor can an unlegislated market economy be viable. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Ron Paul, Ray McGovern, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, and many others know that and fight back to restore the American democracy in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution and the Gettysburg Address, so that the United States is again a true democracy.

(1) The Real News Network, November 5, 2014.

(2) NSA-Affäre: Ex-Präsident Carter verdammt US-Schnuffelei,Von Gregor Peter Schmitz, Atlanta — Der Spiegel — July 17, 2013

(3) Former top judge says US risks edging near to dictatorship, Julian Borger, The Guardian, March 13, 2006.

(4) 2 U.S. Supreme Court Justices Warn of Dictatorship. Sept. 18, 2012, Washington’s Blog.

(5) Former CIA analyst turned anti-war activist, Ray McGovern, was arrested for trying to enter a public event with former CIA director David Petraeus as the guest speaker. Ray had bought a ticket under an assumed name. Yet, as he arrived to the 92nd street Y, he was told: “Ray, you’re not welcome here”. He was handcuffed, hauled to a local precinct and charged with resisting arrest. He spent the night on a stainless steel cot. RT November 1, 2014. (6) Inequality is a choice. Joseph Stiglitz. The New York Times, Oct. 13, 2013.(7) In the November mid-term election, four billion dollars were spent in advertising, one quarter coming from large corporate donors. This follows the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision to reject corporate spending limits in candidate elections (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission).

 

Former Vice President Citigroup New York (retired) Columbia University — Business School Princeton University — Woodrow Wilson School

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David Swanson Interviews TCBH!’s Dave Lindorff on Ukraine, Syria, and on the Militarization of America’s Police

September 29, 2014

“Let’s Try Democracy” Program on Talk Nation Radio:

 

Talk Nation Radio host David Swanson, a noted labor and peace activist who has been doggedly promoting the idea that war itself is a crime — one that was outlawed by the Kellogg-Briand Pact, ratified by the Senate 85-1 and signed by President Calvin Coolidge — interviews TCBH! founder Dave Lindorff about the crisis in Ukraine, about the US push for war against ISIS, and ultimately Syria, and about the ongoing militarization of the police in the United States.

Listen to this half-hour edition of Swanson’s program “Let’s Try Democracy,” by clicking here

TCBH!'s Dave Lindorff (l) and David Swanson, host of Talk Nation Radio's "Let's Try Democracy" program (r)TCBH!’s Dave Lindorff (l) and David Swanson, host of Talk Nation Radio’s “Let’s Try Democracy” program (r)

September 20, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 9/20/2014 at 13:42:56

The Most Dangerous Threat to Humanity– Not Ebola Not War

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From flickr.com/photos/60513726@N03/7751171674/: billionaires
billionaires
(image by Michael Fleshman)
The Wall Street journal reports the number of Billionaires in the world has increased by seven percent to 2325. More of them are in the USA– by hundreds– than anywhere else.
If you want to know the most dangerous people in the world, look to those billionaires and other ultra wealthy people. There may some good ones amongst them but even the good ones should be suspect. They can’t help themselves. They, as they climb the heights of power, become accustomed to privileges that include immunity from laws and from ethics. They use their money, influence and power to evade regulations, corrupt politicians, or even just to unduly influence them.
Billionaires are a symptom of the worst aspects of capitalism, industrialization and even civilization. They rise to the top of a system that should not go that high.
The economic system we now have creates them. It could also eliminate them. When I say eliminate, I mean make it impossible for anyone to have that much money. It should start with the total removal of the ability to become a billionaire by gift or inheritance. I’d go further. Wealth-x– a company that specializes in expertise on ultra wealthy– people possessing more than $30 million. That seems like a good way to set the limit. Don’t allow heirs to receive more than $30 million. Don’t allow cumulative gifts to exceed $30 million.
But we need to go further. We need to prevent the next tech-wunderkind from becoming a billionaire. That may seem daunting, even impossible, but if we can land on the moon, we can make this happen The first step is to decide that this is important. The rest is just details. Ebola is nothing compared to the death and destruction that billionaires cause. Look to coal miners who have died, victims of defective cars who have died, cancer and heart disease victims who have died because of unhealthy, even deadly foods, soldiers and the locals who are victims of wars fought to protect or gain wealth for corporations and their wealthy owners.
The wealthy and their propagandists would attempt to suggest that anyone who criticizes great wealth is jealous. That’s spin. Here’s my spin. Ultra-wealth is an despicable obscenity, among the worse of all immoralities. That’s not new. The bible says it is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. That’s an old meme that needs refreshing.
Here’s a way to think about it. Success is good in moderation. Make a few million. Great. But after you make $10 million start giving a lot away. And never make more than $30 million, not ever. If you come close, start figuring out how to give it away to employees, to suppliers. Start looking at what Noam Chomsky and others talk about as externalities– costs that were not originally factored into your profit equation, like the environment, global warming, the community you used to make the money, the system you depended upon for the reliability and safety of the business, the people who your new idea led to losing jobs.
Figuring out what to do with the billionaires’ and ultra-wealthy’s money, with the money that comes with instant success from going public is another one of those problems that seems really difficult to figure out how to implement. But like a moon landing, though daunting, we can figure it out. The first step is to decide that we don’t want to have people who are so wealthy, powerful and influential.
From flickr.com/photos/59159563@N04/15016686257/: TIM THE TSAR NIKOLAJ II ALEXANDROVICH AND THE TSARITSA ALEXANDRA FJODOROVNA
TIM THE TSAR NIKOLAJ II ALEXANDROVICH AND THE TSARITSA ALEXANDRA FJODOROVNA
(image by the lost gallery)
In the past, kings, emperors, emirs, tsars, etc. claimed they were chosen by God to justify their unchecked power. We are past those times. No-one should have the power that billionaires and the ultra-wealthy possess. It is essential and necessary that people be prevented from reaching such levels of power, at least without being democratically elected.
When I suggest this idea, people bring up Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and their pledge to give away their money. That’s not good enough for me. They are still too powerful. Power is a very dangerous thing. It is so easily abused.
I am not opposed to success. On the contrary, I believe that if we had a culture that did not accept or permit the billionaire and ultra-wealthy hoarders of wealth to hold on to so much wealth it would be available to reward many more successes, many more hard-working, creative, visionary people.
We need a societal change in values, one that characterizes ultra-wealth as offensive, sinful, vile and ugly.

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer– first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978–Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story– each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people’s consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com– which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up(egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up– The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also (more…)

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The West Is On The Wrong Path

August 10, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 8/9/2014 at 19:13:15

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Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts

Gabor Steingart, publisher, Handelsblatt

From youtube.com/watch?v=KxJR_RxICDc: Presidents Obama and Putin
Presidents Obama and Putin
(image by YouTube)

Finally an independent voice has come out of Europe. The publisher of Germany’s most important newspaper has criticized both the German press for serving as a ministry of propaganda for Washington and criticized Washington’s policy toward Russia as a failure to think: “The policy of running your head against the wall — and doing so exactly where the wall is the thickest — just gives you a headache and not much else.”

Steingart writes:

“If the West had judged the then US government which marched into Iraq without a resolution by the UN and without proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction by the same standards as Putin today, then George W. Bush would have immediately been banned from entering the EU. The foreign investments of Warren Buffett should have been frozen, the export of vehicles of the brands GM, Ford, and Chrysler banned.”The American tendency to verbal and then to military escalation, the isolation, demonization, and attacking of enemies, has not proven effective. The last successful major military action the US conducted was the Normandy landing. Everything else — Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan — was a clear failure. Moving NATO units towards the Polish border [with Russia] and thinking about arming Ukraine are continuations of Washington’s policy of relying on military means in the absence of diplomacy.”

This is a very hopeful article — what I have been waiting to see and no doubt Putin also. Unless Washington can quickly divert attention from Handelsblatt’s criticism of Washington’s militarism in place of diplomacy, perhaps by shooting down another airliner, Europe will begin to understand that European subservience to Washington is all cost and no benefit, and that the cost of being Washington’s vassals is rising.

Read more here.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book,  How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here.
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