Archive for the ‘Capitalism’ Category

American capitalism: A disaster with no “moral center”

September 23, 2015

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From Wall Street greed

From Wall Street greed
Wall Street greed
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Interestingly, after the Rothschild pronouncements on “Inclusive Capitalism,” a particular hero of mine, Robert Reich penned a piece entitled, “What Happened to the Moral Center of American Capitalism?”
I immediately began to wonder if this was the same Robert Reich who I came to admire during his tenure as secretary of labor, which coincided with my tenure in the US Congress.

I remember when Reich, as labor secretary, put forward the suggestion that it was high time the US budget be pared of its corporate subsidies, which totaled around $100 billion, depending on how and what you counted as a subsidy, and how far down the rabbit hole you were prepared to go. At any rate, that’s a lot of money! And interestingly, many of these subsidy recipients, don’t even pay taxes. Talk about “free-riding” and “gaming the system!” Lady Rothschild knew what she was talking about!

Yet, the Republican Party and its more conservative complement inside the Democratic Party painted a vastly different picture of the typical welfare cheat, “free-riding” on hard-working taxpayers: demonizing her as a black woman, descendant of the trafficked Africans brought to the United States to work or give birth until death with no compensation. That is the ad hominem diversion used to deflect attention from the real big corporate culprits that continue to turn a pretty penny for their CEOs at US taxpayer expense. So, with all of these fond memories of Robert Reich in mind, and an admiration for his courageous suggestion to end corporate welfare — a suggestion that, in my opinion, ended up getting him fired, I was taken aback to see the title of his recent op edge posted on his website.


When, pray tell, did American Capitalism have a “moral center?”

In his article, Reich points out that American capitalism has today lost its moral center. He laments that even the most minimum standards of “public morality” have been breached by the common business practices of today. Reich complains that the people with the leading Wall Street or corporate positions now can be counted on to enrich themselves with the most compensation “regardless of the social consequences.”


From,_Policy_Network,_April_6_2009,_detail.jpg: Robert Reich

From,_Policy_Network,_April_6_2009,_detail.jpg: Robert Reich
Robert Reich
(image by Wikipedia ( License DMCA

Reich correctly points out that the wage gap between CEO and average workers can reach as much as 300 times. He notes that after World War II, when corporate CEOs felt more responsibility and “accountability to the nation,” their pay failed even to reach 40 times average worker earnings. And he notes that back then, the highest income earners also paid their fair share of taxes. But, by the 1980s Administration of President Ronald Reagan, deregulation became the word of the day and so regulations meant to protect the public from rapacious capitalism were repealed, straight up through and including the Clinton Administration in which he served.

Reich concludes by calling for re-enactment of regulations that will curb the excesses that the taxpayers of the US and the world have been subjected to by Wall Street. He calls for “limits on executive pay, a progressive income tax,” and changes in campaign finance laws to eliminate the undue influence of money on election outcomes. All of Reich’s prescriptions leave the bad guys and their progeny in place to haunt us again in multiple ways. Reich’s prescriptions seek to encourage a “moral center” that honestly, just doesn’t exist and that has never existed in the economic life of the United States.

For example, before the mortgage meltdown of 2008, to close the home ownership gap between blacks and whites in the United States, United for a Fair Economy found that it would take 1,664 years, provided business as usual by black voters and business as usual by Republican and Democratic elected officials. Now, for me, I don’t have one thousand years to wait for justice. Business as usual in the United States IS the perpetuation of injustice. Business-as-usual in the United States must undergo deep, transformational, humanistic change. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that the United States needed a revolution in its values. It still needs such a revolution.

Unfortunately, Reich’s prescriptions merely take us back to business as usual in a US riddled with racism, discrimination, class division, and now saddled with a futile chauvinistic hubris that leads to all kinds of policy folly that is not only painful for its victims, but that also reeks of a desperate arrogance on the part of its purveyors.

I agree when Reich concludes that “massive inequality is incompatible with robust democracy.” And therein lies my point. By his own definition, the United States has never been a “robust” democracy. The democratic rights (political and economic) of Native Americans and trafficked Africans have never been included in the US equation of democracy. Women were excluded at the time of the founding of this exceptional “democracy.” Thus, I wonder, how with a straight face, Robert Reich can write of the “moral center” of American Capitalism — that same capitalism that produced genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Jim Crow, Convict Labor (Slavery By Another Name), gender discrimination before World War II and today’s racial and ethnic disparities that exist on every index of social well-being that remain unaddressed by policymakers until this very minute of this very day in the post-World War II period.

And let me not even begin to discuss colonialism, neocolonialism, neoliberalism, all imposed on other parts of the world with record violence. To what extent is the refugee/immigration crisis of today caused by neoliberal policies that have been ruthlessly inflicted on others around the world by “American Capital?”

Some might be tempted to say, after careful scrutiny of the historical evidence, that there is no such thing as a moral center in “American” capitalism and that it is high time to reject the usual policy prescriptions that keep capitalism in place (Remember President George Herbert Walker Bush’s “Kinder, Gentler America?”); and search for other less Eurocentric and more egalitarian forms of political and economic social organization. Some countries, like the members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA, have already embarked upon this journey. They are to be commended and supported while we all must beware the shibboleths advanced as our common salvation by the very creators of so much global human misery.

The “moral center” of “American Capitalism” is still a disaster!


Cynthia Ann McKinney (born March 17, 1955) is a former United States Representative and the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States. McKinney served as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993–2003 and 2005–2007, first representing Georgia’s 11th Congressional District and then Georgia’s 4th Congressional District. She is the first African-American woman to have represented Georgia in the House.[1]

In the 1992 election, McKinney was elected in the newly re-created 11th District,[2] and was re-elected in 1994. When her district was redrawn and renumbered due to the Supreme Court of the United States ruling in Miller v. Johnson,[3][1][4] McKinney was easily elected from the new 4th District in the 1996 election, and was re-elected twice without substantive opposition.

McKinney was defeated by Denise Majette in the 2002 Democratic primary, in part due to Republican crossover voting in Georgia’s open primary election, which permits anyone from any party to vote in any party primary,[5] and in part due to her “controversial profile, which included a suggestion that [George W.] Bush knew in advance of the September 11 attacks.”
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Wall Street greedSunday, September 20, 2015 (6 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
American capitalism: A disaster with no “moral center” Reich points out that American capitalism has today lost its moral center. He laments that even the most minimum standards of “public morality” have been breached by the common business practices of today. Reich complains that the people with the leading Wall Street or corporate positions now can be counted on to enrich themselves with the most compensation “regardless of the social consequences.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 (2 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Remarks at the UN International Meeting on Palestine in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia can you even imagine what U.S. policy would be like at the United Nations if the will of the people were carried out without the interference of the pro-Israel Lobby? I have met many courageous Palestinians and Israelis who want to live peacefully with each other and who put their lives and their livelihoods on the line every day for peace and the rule of law.

Thursday, February 7, 2013 (6 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Chris Dorner: “The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers.” Some of you have written and asked who is Christopher Dorner and why was Mike Ruppert responding so urgently to his words. I will put Dorner’s Manifesto here so that you all can read his words for yourself. This is what Mike Ruppert sent to me with a message of URGENT attached to it for my attention and following that will be Dorner’s Manifesto:

Sunday, October 7, 2012 (1 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Open Letter on the Occasion of the Seating of the New York Session of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine The vast majority of the world’s people are utterly tired of a hungry war machine ignited by gangster bankers concomitantly devouring the money resources of the world’s people. There is a growing awareness of exactly where the problem lies:

Sunday, May 29, 2011 (27 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Anatomy of a Murder: How NATO Killed Qaddafi Family Members Congress should vote to end NATO’s action in Libya and, barring that, should assert its Constitutional prerogatives and require the President to come to it for authorization of this war. And then, Congress should heed the wisdom of the people of our country who are against this war and vote for peace.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 (15 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Dispatch From Tripoli–NATO’s Feast of Blood The real foreign policy behind the US’s mad rush for Empire in Africa!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 (5 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
President Obama Gets His Groove Back By Attacking Africans So did the American people get the change they wanted? Or is this really more of the same under Bush? Imperialism is alive and well under the Obama reign.

Sunday, March 27, 2011 (17 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
From Cynthia McKinney: On President Obama and Libya; Japan and 9/11 Truth The events are pieced together and give the reader plenty of background on the interests and the empire building of the US government.

Friday, February 4, 2011 (5 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Cynthia McKinney: From United Arab Emirates Cynthia tells us about the “greening” of the Middle East, people power and the vision of a new paradigm for all people and the planet!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 (5 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
A Peace Lobby on the International Day of Peace It is time for a PEACE LOBBY. And it is way past time for the people to demand it. Those that lead us to war cannot be expected to get us out of it.

Friday, July 16, 2010 (3 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
THE MAN WHO PUT THE WORD “FIRE” INTO FIREBRAND–BILLY MCKINNEY A tribute to my father, the Honorable James Edward “Billy” McKinney who passed on July 15th, 2010 at the age of 83.

Monday, May 31, 2010 (5 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Cynthia McKinney Mourns the Dead of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza: People of U.S. & World Must End Israeli Impunity! I am outraged at Israel’s latest criminal act. I mourn with my fellow Free Gaza travelers, the lives that have been lost by Israel’s needless, senseless act against unarmed humanitarian activists.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 (6 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
“They’re White Just Like Us . . . “ Dignity, peace, war, occupation, immigration, and the color divide.

Monday, January 18, 2010 (3 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
An Unwelcome Katrina Redux The TRUTH about Haiti. Cynthia McKinney tells us why Haiti is so important for US empire interests, both financially and logistically. All eyes are upon the US government to see what the next moves will be. They will be telling to be sure.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 (14 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Is President Obama’s Surge A Trap? US voters went to the polls and chose Obama to lead them. He promised peace, change, bringing the troops home. Who’s REALLY in charge? Congress is going to have to stop funding the wars and occupations to bring about their end.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 (2 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
On Obama’s Impending Speech Cynthia McKinney speaks on Obama’s impending speech to escalate the troop number in Afghanistan. Mainstream Media is calling this an “Afghanistan Exit Plan.” How can an increase in troops be an exit plan?

Thursday, October 22, 2009 (5 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
A Message From Mike Ruppert by Cynthia McKinney, October 22, 2009 Cynthia McKinney passes us the message from Michael Ruppert who has gone through hell to get info through to “we the people.” Censorship and disenfranchisement of anything having to do with truth is alive and well in the USA.

Friday, October 16, 2009      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Report from South Africa, Upcoming Events, Interesting Video Links Cynthia McKinney shares information about her trip to South Africa, her thoughts, observations, a video and her intent to return there to learn more about this nation’s people.

Sunday, October 11, 2009 (5 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
If we want Policy instead of Speeches Cynthia speaks of our vision and our goals for an America the way WE want it and covers some of the news topics of the day that either remain out of our mainstream news or are misreported.

Friday, October 2, 2009      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Getting to South Africa in time for the Film Festival is as important to me as was putting my feet on the soil of Gaza. Authorities again try to keep Cynthia McKinney from leaving the country. This is becoming a continuing problem. Is security meant to keep US citizens from leaving (and telling the truth somewhere else about what is going on here) or is it meant to keep bad people out?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 (1 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
How Did We Get From There to Here? The former Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate explains the debaucle that is our current healthcare system and the unnecessary death of her aunt under this same system.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Israeli Navy surrounds Gaza relief ship SPIRIT At 1:40 am (local time), the Israeli Navy surrounded the SPIRIT while it is on its way to the Gaza Strip. We got a call from the boat saying that they were being threatened, told to turn back or they would be fired on.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 (20 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Cynthia McKinney and the Spirit of Humanity Crew are captured and detained by the Israel Navy Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman and Green Party Presidential Candidate along with the Free Gaza mission is captured and kidnapped by Israel on the high seas!

Monday, June 29, 2009 (1 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
FREE GAZA’S SHIP, The Spirit of Humanity is now surrounded by the Israeli Navy, being threatened and radios jammed! The latest on FREE GAZA’S mission to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. The former Congresswoman and Green Presidential Candidate, Cynthia McKinney is aboard in addition to 20 relief and aid workers from 14 different countries. Situation/standoff in the Eastern Meditteranean is tense.

Sunday, June 28, 2009 (2 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
FREE GAZA and SPIRIT OF HUMANITY are determined to sail Cynthia McKinney, Dignity Action Movement and Free Gaza send out notice of intent to sail to Gaza with humanitarian aid in spite of attempts to stop this mission. Situation is unfolding…

Thursday, June 25, 2009 (5 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
They Denied Us So They Wouldn’t Have to Ram Us!–UPDATED Cynthia McKinney’s latest updates from the Dignity Action Movement and Free Gaza as they attempt to take a short voyage to Gaza to bring humanitarian aid to the people there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 (2 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
We Leave for Gaza Tomorrow; I’ve Asked the White House to Intervene for our SafetyCynthia McKinney gives an update on the preparations for the Dignity Action Movement and the latest trip to Gaza with humanitarian aid.

Monday, June 22, 2009      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
I Sent a Message to the President about My Trip to Gaza . . . Cynthia McKinney and the Dignity Action Movement are not getting any US mainstream press recognition outside of the internet, but foreign media has made note of the plans for the newest humanitarian voyage to Gaza. Please pass the word and check out the social networks for DIGNITY!

Saturday, June 20, 2009 (1 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
After a Brief Layover in Abu Dhabi, I’ve Reached Doha Cynthia McKinney and her Juneteenth letter to Eric Holder regarding justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Friday, June 19, 2009 (8 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
What do we have in common? Cynthia McKinney is on her way to Gaza with food, medicine and school supplies for the children. She encourages all to join DIGNITY’S social networking sites. And asks Obama to not spend one more dime on Israel’s war machine.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 (4 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Cynthia McKinney Announces Formation of DIGNITY Cynthia McKinney announces the formation of Dignity, an organization for the people. Cynthia explains why this organization is needed and asks for leaders to step up and help, we are all in this together. There is power in organization with common goals and a vision for the future.

Monday, April 20, 2009 (6 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
The Economy, From Soros and Greenspan to Napoleon’s Waterloo, And a Tip of the Hat to Haiti, Too Cynthia McKinney gives us a history of economics and finance in the New World. She includes history and information, both current and old, from the US, France, the Louisiana Purchase and Haiti.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 (16 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Buyer’s Remorse, Economic Collapse, Oligarchs, and War Cynthia McKinney tells us about the Power to the People Committee, voters who have some regrets about their choices, and info from MONEY FACTS, 169 questions and answers on money authored by the Subcommittee on Domestic Finance, House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, 1964.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 (7 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Cynthia McKinney Reports from London Cynthia McKinney tells us about the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War (KLFCW) taking place in London, about the continuing conflicts in Israel, Palestine, Gaza and about the U.S. war machine’s involvement in the Middle East.

Sunday, March 29, 2009 (4 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
From Cynthia McKinney in London Cynthia McKinney speaks on the Economic Crisis, George Galloway, and the Forum for Palestine taking place in London on March 31, 2009.

Monday, March 2, 2009 (14 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Ruminations on President Obama’s Tenure Thus Far and “Acceptable Punditry” Cynthia McKinney speaks about the same policies in affect now under Obama’s rule as they were under the Bush administration and even more on Obama not going to Durban.

Thursday, February 5, 2009 (1 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Cynthia McKinney’s Report from the FORUM FOR PALESTINE in Malaysia Cynthia McKinney’s descriptive report from the FORUM FOR PALESTINE with specific details from the doctors who attended the victims after the Israeli attacks.

Friday, January 30, 2009 (49 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
President Obama, Don’t Become Complicit in Their Crimes! Cynthia McKinney’s latest letter to Obama and the injustices of war, killings and imprisonment, not just overseas but here on our streets. Under Obama’s administration, the war continues!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 (12 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
President Obama, Let Peltier Live! Cynthia McKinney speaks out for justice regarding political prisoners and the US involvement in global war.

Monday, January 26, 2009 (7 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Mr. President: Give Us a Clean Break from War In a message to President Obama today, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney condemned the actions in Gaza, the US complicity and the lack of action by our leadership.

Saturday, January 10, 2009 (16 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
Thousands Rally and March in Washington, D.C. to ‘Let Gaza Live’ Cynthia speaks of the events in Washington, DC today and the mainstream media’s distortion of the facts.

Thursday, January 1, 2009 (47 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
We Lived to Tell the Story: Lebanon Rescued Us An update from Cynthia McKinney regarding the incident with the Humanitarian Mission to Gaza aboard the “Dignity.”

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 (19 comments)      Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon
From Cynthia McKinney’s Notebook… Cynthia McKinney tells the story of what went down in the East Mediterranean on December 30th, 2008 while on a humanitarian mission aboard the “Dignity.”



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Noam Chomsky: Greece Faces “Savage Response” for Fighting Against Austerity

July 3, 2015
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Noam Chomsky. (photo: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty)
Noam Chomsky. (photo: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty)

By Democracy Now!

03 July 15


ALSO SEE: Ninety Percent of Greek Bailout Has Gone to Banks – Not to Help Greek People Greece defaults and faces a referendum this Sunday on a new bailout package, watch Noam Chomsky on Europe’s “savage response” to the pushback against austerity demands. He spoke to Democracy Now! in March.

Click here to watch Monday’s segment, “As Greece Heads for Default, Voters Prepare to Vote in Pivotal Referendum on More Austerity.”


AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about Syriza in Greece, a movement that started as a grassroots movement. Now they have taken power, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. And then you have Spain right now. We recently spoke to Pablo Iglesias, the secretary general of the group called Podemos, that was founded, what—an anti-austerity party that has rapidly gained popularity. A month after establishing itself last year, they won five seats in the European Parliament, and some polls show they could take the next election, which would mean that Pablo Iglesias, the 36-year-old political science professor and longtime activist, could possibly become the prime minister of Europe’s fifth-largest economy. He came here to New York for just about 72 hours, and I asked him to talk about what austerity measures have meant in Spain.

PABLO IGLESIAS: Austerity means that people is expulsed of their homes. Austerity means that the social services don’t work anymore. Austerity means that public schools have not the elements, the means to develop their activity. Austerity means that the countries have not sovereignty anymore, and we became a colony of the financial powers and a colony of Germany. Austerity probably means the end of democracy. I think if we don’t have democratic control of economy, we don’t have democracy. It’s impossible to separate economy and democracy, in my opinion.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Pablo Iglesias, the head of this new anti-austerity group in Spain called Podemos, which means in English “We can.” The significance of these movements?

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s very significant. But notice the reaction. The reaction to Syriza was extremely savage. They made a little bit of progress in their negotiations, but not much. The Germans came down very hard on them.

AMY GOODMAN: You mean in dealing with the debt.

NOAM CHOMSKY: In the dealing with them, and sort of forced them to back off from almost all their proposals. What’s going on with the austerity is really class war. As an economic program, austerity, under recession, makes no sense. It just makes the situation worse. So the Greek debt, relative to GDP, has actually gone up during the period of—which is—well, the policies that are supposed to overcome the debt. In the case of Spain, the debt was not a public debt, it was private debt. It was the actions of the banks. And that means also the German banks. Remember, when a bank makes a dangerous, a risky borrowing, somebody is making a risky lending. And the policies that are designed by the troika, you know, are basically paying off the banks, the perpetrators, much like here. The population is suffering. But one of the things that’s happening is that the—you know, the social democratic policies, so-called welfare state, is being eroded. That’s class war. It’s not an economic policy that makes any sense as to end a serious recession. And there is a reaction to it—Greece, Spain and some in Ireland, growing elsewhere, France. But it’s a very dangerous situation, could lead to a right-wing response, very right-wing. The alternative to Syriza might be Golden Dawn, neo-Nazi party.


State Capitalism on Behalf of Militarism

June 28, 2015

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From Boeing Wake of Destruction
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There is much debate on what the nature of the Soviet Union’s economy actually was. It is agreed by many that it wasn’t in reality a true socialist or even a communist system. Some, like Seymour Melman and Jack Matlock, argue that it was something closer to a state-run capitalist system with a vanguard political party controlling it.

What is hard to argue with is the fact that what constituted a huge part of the Soviet economy in terms of input of resources — and, ironically, what it has had in common with the U.S. economy — was a sprawling and wasteful military-industrial complex guaranteed by the state to enable an arms race.

The Military-Industrial Complex in the United States

In 1864, President Lincoln expressed profound concern over the rise of corporations resulting from the Civil War and what it portended for the political and economic future of the country.

Advancement in industrialization led to more mechanized and phenomenally more destructive warfare in the 20th century, with the outcomes increasingly dependent upon material production and technology.

In World War I, military officers still played a critical role in the decisions to wage war which were based on previous strategies that were soon rendered outmoded due to a lack of technological expertise and inability to manage the more complicated industrial economics crucial to sustaining modern warfare. Thus, for expediency, government allowed responsibility for the war economy to be transferred from the Army to private industrialists who controlled the terms of war organization and procurement through the War Industries Board (WIB), a body comprised primarily of corporate executives and bankers.

Once this arrangement was established it was difficult to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle. Many of the major anti-competitive trusts running the war economy through the WIB had long desired a relationship with the state that would facilitate public subsidy of their interests. The war effort had proven a convenient means to this end.


Between 1918 and 1941, formal patronage was fostered between the War Department and Big Business for the first time outside the context of an actual war. Drawing on the WIB model, the War Production Board instituted favorable tax and profit standards for major industrialists who again dictated policies within their own economic sectors during World War II, usurping substantial decision-making from state actors.

Since 1945, the power, reach and ambition of multinational corporations have expanded, including encroachment into areas traditionally considered part of the public interest and outside of its domain.

More sophisticated, diversified and structured than historical mercenaries, Private Military Firms (PMF’s) have proliferated since the collapse of the Cold War. These companies have participated in conflicts from the civil war in Sierra Leone to the Balkans conflict. They played an increasing role in the Iraq war, with Blackwater (now Academi) being the most controversial with the September 2007 killing of 17 civilians and the wounding of 20 more in Nisour Square in Baghdad. Just prior to those killings, a high level manager of the company reportedly issued a death threat to a State Department official who was in Iraq investigating the company’s practices.

A 2014 report issued by Remote Control Project in Britain found that the US Special Operations Command is outsourcing sensitive activities like flying drones, target acquisition oversight, communications, prisoner interrogations, translation of captured material and information management. The report raises concerns due to the challenges that remote warfare has in terms of accountability and oversight. The concern is compounded by the fact that the Obama administration has not decreased war and militarism but has increasingly reorganized it to be under the auspices of covert and special operations with a presence in nearly 70 percent of the world’s nations at 134, up from around 60 nations at the end of the Bush II era. Funding for the Special Operations Command has risen from $2.3 billion in 2001 to a total of $10.4 billion in 2013.

In an investigative report on Obama’s covert-special ops policy, Nick Turse detailed the administration’s militaristic foreign policy:


Although elected in 2008 by many who saw him as an antiwar candidate, President Obama has proved to be a decidedly hawkish commander-in-chief. While the Obama administration oversaw a US withdrawal from Iraq (negotiated by his predecessor), as well as a drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan (after a major military surge in that country), the president has presided over a ramping up of the US military presence in Africa, a reinvigoration of efforts in Latin America, and tough talk about a rebalancing or “pivot to Asia”. The White House has also overseen an exponential expansion of America’s drone war. While President Bush launched 51 such strikes, President Obama has presided over 330. Last year, alone, the US also engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Recent revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden have [also] demonstrated the tremendous breadth and global reach of US electronic surveillance during the Obama years.
An article in The Daily Beast revealed that many employees of these contractors expect new opportunities with Obama’s long-term plan to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria without “boots on the ground” by following his established pattern of using covert players to obscure the extent of U.S. involvement: “One U.S. military contractor working in Iraq who asked not to be named said, ‘I can tell you the contractor-expat community is abuzz thinking this will lead to more work. We expect a much larger footprint than he is showing right now.'”
Then there are the more mundane support services for both overt and covert military operations provided by firms like KBR which provide ice delivery, trash disposal and portable toilet maintenance, among other services. These contractors and their sub-contractors, like Najilaa Catering Services International, have often performed poorly or committed outright fraud. But that usually doesn’t stop them from continuing to procure contracts with the US government.

Najilaa, for instance, had been under fire for non-payment of bills and fraud in both Iraq and Kuwait prior to being signed on to provide food preparation services to USAID in Iraq in February of 2010. KBR has been plagued with continuing allegations of overcharging and poor service for more than 10 years. In 2011, KBR was hit with an $85 million verdict for exposing members of the Oregon Army National Guard to toxic chemicals while serving in Iraq.

This kind of fraud and waste, however, is not unique to these relatively small players. It is indeed rampant among the top 5 defense contractors: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrup Grumann, General Dynamics, and Raytheon, with 3 of these 5 also occupying the top slots in federal contractor misconduct.

According to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Lockheed Martin has more contracts with the federal government than any other company. It also has the most misconduct violations, ranging from age discrimination to contract fraud and unfair business practices, totaling over $600 million in fines, penalties and settlements.

A June 2011 POGO press release states that Boeing overcharged the Army millions in spare helicopter parts, such as $1,678.61 “for a plastic roller assembly that could have been purchased for $7.71 internally from the Department of Defense’s own supplies.” Boeing is ranked second in instances of contractor misconduct.

These kinds of antics have no effect on these companies’ status as government contractors. The fact that the top 5 defense contractors named above were among the top 6 defense industry contributors to federal political candidates and parties in the 2014 election cycle undoubtedly plays a major role.

Furthermore, this kind of waste has been largely built into the system of Pentagon contracting over the years in the form of cost-plus practices in the negotiation process. As the late Seymour Melman, an analyst who specialized in the workings of the military-industrial complex, detailed in his writings, the practice of cost-plus or cost-maximizing defense contracts, in which an agreed upon profit margin was simply added on to the previous cost of producing the product or service, had cropped up during WWII and was institutionalized during Robert McNamara’s tenure as Defense Secretary during the Vietnam War. Not only did this practice result in increasingly inflated price tags for the tax payer, it also discouraged quality control and increases in productivity, and encouraged labor unions in the affected industries to partner with management to the detriment of their own interests. Moreover, the practice bled over into other sectors of the government, such as health care contracts, and even into the private sector.

This cost-maximization, combined with the frequency of no bidding and the companies’ generous campaign contributions, makes these kinds of problems all too pervasive and easy to predict.

When more and more private corporations have entered the market with a profit motive in favor of military conflict, incentives to overcharge taxpayers built into the system, and legalized bribery that passes for campaign financing, what are the chances for a conversion from a war economy to a peaceful, civilian economy as the end of the Cold War provided an opportunity for?

A Formula for Economic Conversion

“Whatever else you can do with a tank, you can’t eat it, wear it, live in it or travel in it. And whatever else you can do with a nuclear-powered submarine or with a military helicopter, you can’t produce anything with it.” — Seymour Melman

Melman’s proposals for economic conversion were predicated upon a partnership between management and labor. For practical reasons, the workers needed to be part of the planning due to their intimate knowledge of the parts, tools and machinery involved in current production and its potential utility in manufacturing civilian goods and determining which ones would have the most successful possible outcome for conversion. Members of corporate management, who were typically far removed from the daily workings on the floor, would often make conversion plans on paper — if left to their own devices — that were unworkable when put into practice. Initial attempts at conversion in the Soviet Union failed due to this very problem.


The most comprehensive legislative bill proposed in 1988 to implement such a plan was one sponsored by Ted Weiss and called for the establishment of Alternative Use Committees, comprised of an equal number of representatives from management and labor. The committees would have been tasked with preparing “a complete technical economic plan for the use of the people and facilities following termination of work for the Pentagon.”

The legislation would have also mandated occupational retraining for engineers and managers who were veterans of Pentagon work for 10 years or longer. This was to ensure proper training for cost-minimizing instead of the entrenched practice of cost-maximizing fostered in the defense industry. The conversion program would have been overseen by the Commerce Department to encourage all levels of government to prepare their budgets accordingly in support of conversion.

This bill (HR 103) was the culmination of meetings that then-House Speaker Jim Wright had convened of congress members committed to the conversion opportunities that the end of the Cold War provided.

In the weeks following the bill’s historic introduction, however, a smear campaign against Speaker Wright was initiated — led by Newt Gingrich, who’s district just happened to be home to the headquarters of Lockheed Martin — based on trumped up charges of financial misconduct, forcing Wright’s resignation.

With the bill’s most powerful shepherd effectively eliminated, the legislation died quietly.


What Failure of the Peace Dividend Meant for the US

As the end of the Cold War beckoned in the late 1980s and, along with it, the potential for redirection of resources to improve the living standards of communities across America, Melman noted that 50 percent of the discretionary federal budget at that time went to the Pentagon. The percentage projected for the 2015 budget was 54 percent. Meanwhile, 3 percent is allotted to “international affairs” — meaning that some portion of that 3 percent goes to diplomacy, which speaks volumes about our leaders’ priorities and approach to international relations

What all that investment into militarism ultimately translates into is investment not made into the infrastructure for American citizens and their day-to-day needs. To illustrate this point, Melman also discussed the state of American domestic infrastructure by 1990 and how it had suffered from the diversion of resources into the MIC:

Instead of seizing the opportunity provided by the end of the Cold War and investing in the improvement of Americans’ lives, we have continued to feed the same amounts or more into the voracious military economy with our domestic infrastructure in worse shape than ever. The American Society of Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card for the US in 2013 was a D+; meanwhile, the New York Times just reported that the federal government will be investing as much as $1 trillion in modernizing our nuclear weapons arsenal over the next 30 years, using the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine as partial justification.

The early stages of another negative trend was observed by Melman with respect to the deindustrialization of the American economy whereby the nation gradually loses the ability to produce essential goods and to repair the basic infrastructure needed to create and repair those essential goods. For example, he described how the US was becoming dependent upon foreign production of basic machinery and tools that were no longer made in the US. This deindustrialization leads to loss of living wage jobs and loss of national independence and self-sufficiency in important areas of the economy. That trend has accelerated in the twenty-four years since and all of the social consequences one would likely expect are visible all around Americans, with the exception of the most wealthy and insulated.

One of the more pernicious consequences of this deindustrialization is that the lack of living wage jobs that used to be available to those with little or no post-secondary education drives more youth into the professional military as they seek a stable income and educational opportunities, reinforcing the militarist feedback loop.

One of the strangest blind spots that the American oligarchy seems to have is what their own system has in common with some of the failed aspects of the Soviet Union and that they somehow think they will avoid the same fate.

Note: This article is an expansion on issues relating to the military-industrial-complex that were discussed in Chapter 1 of Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated.

Natylie Baldwin is co-author of Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated, available from Tayen Lane Publishing. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various publications including Sun Monthly, Dissident Voice, (more…)

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Give ‘Em Hell, Bernie

April 30, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty)
Sen. Bernie Sanders. (photo: Win McNamee/Getty)

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

29 April 15


any years ago I pitched a magazine editor on a story about Bernie Sanders, then a congressman from Vermont, who’d agreed to something extraordinary – he agreed to let me, a reporter, stick next to him without restrictions over the course of a month in congress.

“People need to know how this place works. It’s absurd,” he’d said. (Bernie often uses the word absurd, his Brooklyn roots coming through in his pronunciation – ob-zert.)

Bernie wasn’t quite so famous at the time and the editor scratched his head. “Bernie Sanders,” he said. “That’s the one who cares, right?”

“Right, that’s the guy,” I said.

I got the go-ahead and the resulting story was a wild journey through the tortuous bureaucratic maze of our national legislature. I didn’t write this at the time, but I was struck every day by what a strange and interesting figure Sanders was.

Many of the battles he brought me along to witness, he lost. And no normal politician would be comfortable with the optics of bringing a Rolling Stone reporter to a Rules Committee hearing.

But Sanders genuinely, sincerely, does not care about optics. He is the rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person. If he’s motivated by anything other than a desire to use his influence to protect people who can’t protect themselves, I’ve never seen it. Bernie Sanders is the kind of person who goes to bed at night thinking about how to increase the heating-oil aid program for the poor.

This is why his entrance into the 2016 presidential race is a great thing and not a mere footnote to the inevitable coronation of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. If the press is smart enough to grasp it, his entrance into the race makes for a profound storyline that could force all of us to ask some very uncomfortable questions.

Here’s the thing: Sanders is a politician whose power base is derived almost entirely from the people of the state of Vermont, where he is personally known to a surprisingly enormous percentage of voters.

His chief opponents in the race to the White House, meanwhile, derive their power primarily from corporate and financial interests. That doesn’t make them bad people or even bad candidates necessarily, but it’s a fact that the Beltway-media cognoscenti who decide these things make access to money the primary factor in determining whether or not a presidential aspirant is “viable” or “credible.” Here’s how the Wall Street Journal put it intheir story about Sanders (emphasis mine):

It is unclear how much money Mr. Sanders expects to raise, or what he thinks he needs to run a credible race. Mr. Sanders raised about $7 million for his last re-election in Vermont, a small state. Sums needed to run nationally are far larger.

The Washington/national press has trained all of us to worry about these questions of financing on behalf of candidates even at such an early stage of a race as this.

In this manner we’re conditioned to believe that the candidate who has the early assent of a handful of executives on Wall Street and in


and Silicon Valley is the “serious” politician, while the one who is merely the favorite of large numbers of human beings is an irritating novelty act whose only possible goal could be to cut into the numbers of the real players.

Sanders offers an implicit challenge to the current system of national electoral politics. With rare exceptions, campaign season is a time when the backroom favorites of financial interests are marketed to the population. Weighed down by highly regressive policy intentions, these candidates need huge laboratories of focus groups and image consultants to guide them as they grope around for a few lines they can use to sell themselves to regular working people.

Sanders on the other hand has no constituency among the monied crowd. “Billionaires do not flock to my campaign,” he quipped. So what his race is about is the reverse of the usual process: he’ll be marketing the interests of regular people to the gatekeeping Washington press, in the hope that they will give his ideas a fair shot.

It’s a little-known fact, but we reporters could successfully sell Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or any other populist candidate as a serious contender for the White House if we wanted to. Hell, we told Americans it was okay to vote for George Bush, a man who moves his lips when he reads.

But the lapdog mentality is deeply ingrained and most Beltway scribes prefer to wait for a signal from above before they agree to take anyone not sitting atop a mountain of cash seriously.

Thus this whole question of “seriousness” – which will dominate coverage of the Sanders campaign – should really be read as a profound indictment of our political system, which is now so openly an oligarchy that any politician who doesn’t have the blessing of the bosses is marginalized before he or she steps into the ring.

I remember the first time I was sold on Bernie Sanders as a politician. He was in his congressional office and he was ranting about the fact that many of the manufacturing and financial companies who asked him and other members of congress for tax breaks and aid were also in the business of moving American jobs overseas to places like China.

Sanders spent years trying to drum up support for a simple measure that would force any company that came to Washington asking for handouts to promise they wouldn’t turn around and ship jobs to China or India.

That didn’t seem like a lot to ask, but his fellow members treated him like he was asking for a repeal of the free enterprise system. This issue drove Sanders crazy. Again showing his Brooklyn roots, Bernie gets genuinely mad about these things. While some pols are kept up at night worrying about the future profitability of gazillionaire banks, Sanders seethes over the many obvious wrongs that get smoothed over and covered up at his place of work.

That saltiness, I’m almost sure of it, is what drove him into this race. He just can’t sit by and watch the things that go on, go on. That’s not who he is.

When I first met Bernie Sanders, I’d just spent over a decade living in formerly communist Russia. The word “socialist” therefore had highly negative connotations for me, to the point where I didn’t even like to say it out loud.

But Bernie Sanders is not Bukharin or Trotsky. His concept of “Democratic Socialism” as I’ve come to understand it over the years is that an elected government should occasionally step in and offer an objection or two toward our progress to undisguised oligarchy. Or, as in the case of not giving tax breaks to companies who move factories overseas, our government should at least not finance the disappearance of the middle class.

Maybe that does qualify as radical and unserious politics in our day and age. If that’s the case, we should at least admit how much trouble we’re in.

Congratulations, Bernie. Good luck and give ’em hell.

The Social Costs Of Capitalism Are Destroying Earth’s Ability To Support Life

March 30, 2015
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I admire David Ray Griffin for his wide-ranging intelligence, his research skills, and for his courage. Dr. Griffin is not afraid to take on the controversial topics. He gave us 10 books on 9/11, and anyone who has read half of one of them knows that the official story is a lie.

Now Griffin has taken on global warming and the CO2 crisis. His book has just been published by Clarity Press, a publisher that seeks out truth-telling authors. Griffin’s book is a hefty 424 pages plus 77 pages of footnotes documenting the information that he presents. Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive The CO2 Crisis? is no screed. The book is a carefully researched document.

Readers often ask me to write about global warming, chemtrails, vaccines, and other subjects beyond my competence. However, I can see that Griffin has made a huge investment in researching climate change. His book provides a thorough account under one cover.

Griffin concludes that civilization itself is at stake. His evaluation of the evidence is that humans have about three decades to get CO2 emissions under control, and he sees hope in the agreement between Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping that was announced on November 11, 2014.

Griffin argues that instead of rushing to their own destruction like lemmings, the human race must accept the moral challenge of abolishing the fossil-fuel economy. He makes the case that clean energy permits most of modern society’s way of life to continue without the threat posed by ever rising emissions.

Nuclear energy is not among clean energy sources — just look at the ongoing radiation pollution from Fukushima. Griffin is correct in the way he has framed the issue. It is a moral challenge.

Clearly the climate is changing, whether caused by CO2 emissions or some other cause. Every day brings more reports of perils associated with climate change. See for example, here and here.

The planet is being polluted with many forms of wastes.

Our foods are also polluted. On one hand our food is polluted with herbicides and on the other hand by antibiotics. And then we have hormones and pesticides. The World Health Organization has concluded that the glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup, a herbicide widely sprayed on GMO food crops, is a likely causes of cancer in humans and animals.

Glyphosate, which is also believed to be exterminating honey bees and Monarch butterflies, is now present in 75 percent of air and rain samples. Some time ago I reported on a microbiologist who wrote to the US Secretary of Agriculture about extensive findings by independent scientists that glyphosate has serious adverse effects on animal life and on animal and human fertility and on the ability of soil to produce nutrition in food crops. The scientist pointed out that the US government’s clearance of glyphosate rested entirely on the industry’s own studies of its safety and that these “studies” are not substantiated by independent scientists. He pointed out that not only are the studies done by scientists employed by Monsanto, but also many agricultural science university faculties are dependent on research funds from the chemical industry and thereby do not have an independent voice.

(On a French TV show a Monsanto representative claimed Roundup was safe enough to drink, but turned down the offer from the show’s host to demonstrate by drinking a glass by exclaiming “I’m not stupid!”

Martha Rosenberg writing in CounterPunch reports that 70 percent of all antibiotics are fed to livestock because it produces weight gain and saves money on feed costs. Ninety-three percent of doctors are concerned about the meat industry’s excessive use of antibiotics, and independent scientists have definite evidence that the growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is due to the use of antibiotics as animal feed.

Scientists at the University of Iowa found Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in 70 percent of farmed hogs. A Consumer Reports investigation found that US meat, regardless of the meat’s source, is full of “pathogens, commensals, and antibiotic resistant bacteria.” Pork tested contained five resistant bacteria strains.

The Food and Drug Administration, severely weakened by Republicans, cannot stand up to Big Meat. Rosenberg reports that “when the FDA tried in 2008 to ban farm use of cephalosporins (antibiotics like Cefzil and Keflex) because they are needed for pneumonia, strep throat, and other serious human conditions, the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork, and cattle industries and the animal Health Institute stormed Capital Hill.”

Congress responded to the campaign donations, not to the health and safety of the American people. The Animal Health Institute consists of the drug companies who make profits selling 70 percent of their production to meat, egg, and milk producers. The members of the “health” institute are Abbott, Bayer Healthcare, Elanco/Lilly, Merck, Boehringer, Ingelheim Vetmedica, Novartis, etc.

In other words, profits come far ahead of public health. As the drug companies have more or less stopped the development of new antibiotics, the protection antibiotics provide against infections is rapidly fading.

The horror goes on. During a time of severe drought in the western US, with California reportedly left with one year’s supply of water, the fossil-fuel fracking industry is polluting the remaining surface and ground water.

All of these activities — use of antibiotics as animal feed, use of GMO herbicides, fracking — are profitable because they impose huge external costs on the environment and on third parties who are not participants in the profits gleaned by externalizing the costs of production. And this brings us back to Griffin’s important book.

Griffin makes the point that the external cost imposed on the climate by fossil-fuel use is the source of the life-threatening crisis that humanity confronts. Capitalists make money by exploiting labor and by externalizing the costs of the wastes produced by the productive process by imposing the wastes on the environment. It is the short-term time horizon of production organized by selfish private interests focused on quarterly profits that is destroying the livability of the earth.

Almost every economist on earth will rise up in opposition to that true statement, because they are brainwashed in the neoliberal ideology that masquerades as economic science, but in fact is nothing but an apology for capitalist exploitation of labor and the earth.

I happened to be one of Ronald Coase’s graduate students the year he published his famous article on “The Problem of Social Cost” (external costs) for which, together with his article, “The Theory of the Firm,” he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. In theory, externalities can be internalized into the process of production so that the producer bears all the costs if all inputs and waste products are subject to property rights. But no one owns the atmosphere, the oceans, the rivers and streams. They remain “common property” and thus are dumping grounds for waste disposal.


Governments, despite pressure from corporations, have realized that pollution is a problem, and governments have imposed some regulation. The regulation raises some costs to corporations, but the regulation is insufficient to halt very much of the externalization of the cost of production. In economic terms, this is the crisis that David Ray Griffin presents to us.

Capitalism’s pursuit of profit is destroying life on earth.

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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Bill McKibben: Capitalism and the Climate Justice Movement

March 20, 2015

Bill McKibben. (photo:
Bill McKibben. (photo:

By Trish Kahle, Jacobin Magazine

19 March 15


ill McKibben has been a force in environmental politics for more than thirty years and authored fifteen books. In 2008, he helped found, an international organization dedicated to building a movement “that reflects the scale of the climate crisis.”

In the years since, the scale of that crisis has only become more apparent — the rate of climate change is accelerating at a pace not seen for at least a millennium, and the inequalities of its impact, from the scramble for water in Brazil to the oil refinery strike over safety in the United States, are constantly display.

In reaction, larger sections of the movement have explicitly adopted the climate justice framework — a framework that recognizes the different ways in which people experience climate are organized along lines of social, structural oppression: racism, sexism, transphobia, colonialism, and class exploitation.

Examining these intersections, as well as living through the worst economic crisis in living memory, has forced the movement to again confront the role of capitalism and state power in driving social oppression, economic injustice, and ecological devastation.

While the debate over analysis and strategy is far from settled, the climate justice movement has won concrete victories, and its ranks have swelled. President Obama recently vetoed a bill greenlighting the Keystone XL pipeline (though it may re-emerge after State Department review). Hundreds of thousands marched for climate justice in New York City this past fall. And fossil fuel divestment campaigns are growing on college campuses around the world.

Yet with the window to bring the earth into a “safe zone” shrinking by the day, these discussions are only becoming more pressing.

McKibben’s has long been one of the most visible contributors to that debate. In his 2010 book Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, McKibben asks what it will take to adapt, politically and socially, to a world drastically altered by climate change. His proposals are people-centered and focus on breaking the power of the fossil fuel companies.

But he’s also partial to decentralization, which should raise red flags: we can’t hope to subdue the most centralized, highly organized institutions of capital with diffused power. Additionally, McKibben doesn’t advance a critique of capitalism, whose very logic has demanded exponential increases in the use of fossil fuels.

It’s true that the fossil fuel industry has an unsurpassed capacity to destroy the planet. But it’s also true that fossil fuels are a social force, a class project: “no piece of coal or drop of oil has yet turned itself into fuel,” Andreas Malmnotes. That is, the large-scale consumption of fossil fuels, and in turn, the power of the fossil fuel industry, is a product of capitalist production — not the other way around.

Despite the criticisms ecosocialists might have of McKibben, his work has been crucial in the struggle to halt capitalism’s assault on the planet. I spoke to McKibben on the state of the climate justice movement, the intersections between climate justice and other movements, and why he recently supported the first nationwide strike of oil refinery workers since 1980. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What do you see as the primary obstacle to action on climate change?

The financial might — and consequent political power — of the fossil fuel industry.

What, in your experience, has been the driving force behind new activists becoming involved with the climate justice movement?

I think all kinds of people want to be engaged in the climate fight, but the biggest deterrent is the sense that we’re too small to actually do anything about such a large crisis. And that’s true — each one of us is too small. So that’s why many of us have built a movement to  let people feel, in their solidarity, powerful enough to matter. And not just to feel that way — to really matter.

Can you speak about the role of disasters — like the recent refinery explosion, train derailments, etc. — and the role they play in driving people toward activism, or at least help change people’s ideas about what needs to be done?

I think above all the steady pull of “natural” disasters — floods, droughts, and so on — has woken people to the peril of our present course. And yes, we have constant reminders of the other ways in which fossil fuels are unsafe.

Why did you think it was important to stand with workers in an industry that is actively seeking to expand onshore oil production in the United States at a moment of climate crisis?

Because they’re also making people work in unsafe conditions. They’re treating their employees with almost the same cavalier highhandedness they treat the planet.

I think all of us have a responsibility to try and make our workplaces help the planet, not hurt it. And it’s incredibly exciting to be working with lots of labor groups doing just that. The various transit unions, for instance, whose drivers and mechanics are among the greenest workers out there; the nurses who end their shifts and then step forward to fight fracking because they know what pollution does to lungs.

Moving from workers to students, we’ve seen in the first six weeks of 2015 some important steps forward on the fossil fuel divestment campaigns on college campuses, particularly the success of the divestment campaign at the New School. Can you speak a bit about why the divestment campaigns are important? What’s the next step for student organizers once they’ve won divestment from university administration, or to put it another way, what’s the next target after divestment?

Divestment campaigns are one front of many in this fight, but they help a lot because they begin the process of politically bankrupting the fossil fuel industry. They’ve been the key vehicle to spread the understanding that these are rogue companies, with far more carbon in their reserves than scientists think we can burn. It’s already spread far beyond colleges — churches, towns, states, pension funds are all caught up in this struggle now.

What steps do you think climate justice activists should take to ensure that the legacies and ongoing realities of colonization and marginalization are not only addressed in terms of climate justice, but also in terms of political sovereignty and economic rights?

I think we should work with great leaders like Idle No More on all kinds of fights. I think that the emergence of indigenous leadership on environmental questions has been the most important advance in recent years in our fight, and I imagine they have a good deal to say on a number of other important issues as well.

Continuing on that theme, what connections do you see for activists to link the climate justice movement to the struggles against social oppression, in particular the Black Lives Matter movement?

I was really glad to see climate activists go down to Ferguson to help; I think one of my greatest partners in the last few years has been the Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, and I’m convinced he’s right when he says these issues are linked as being about, above all, power.

What kind of obstacles prevent public engagement with scientific research? What obligations do scientists have, if any, to engage in climate politics beyond their own research?

In a rational world, Jim Hansen would not have to regularly end up in handcuffs. We would long since have heeded the scientific alarm and gotten to work. But in the real world, I fear scientists have the same civic duty as the rest of us: after hours and on weekends it’s time to join together in real protest.

Can we really use blockades and divestment as a mechanism to buy time while the price of renewables comes down in the market? Can that approach work quickly enough given the extreme limits of our time frame? What about the people before profit/ecology before economy models of climate activism?

I think we can freeze the growth of the fossil fuel industry long enough for renewables to take the lead in this race — the price of solar panels has fallen enormously in the last few years, and it will continue to plummet. Whether it happens fast enough to outpace the warming of the planet is an open question, but in any event putting people (and every other living thing) before the profit of the fossil fuel industry is key.

What is your opinion of “degrowth” as outlined in Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus the Climate? Can it account for the socioeconomic and international disparities in development which have left some areas hyper-industrialized and others completely neglected?

Some places are clearly underdeveloped, and others are probably overdeveloped. In a just world we would concentrate our efforts at most things, including the spread of renewable energy, in the poorest places (which have, of course, done the least to cause climate change).

As exciting as the pipeline blockades, Idle No More movement, and growing demonstrations against inaction on climate change have been, they are clearly inadequate to the scale of the task at hand. We have only a short window in which to avert the most disastrous effects of climate change. What do you think it’s going to take to, at the very least, put us in a “safe zone”?

I think it’s going to take a bigger movement. And I would not downplay Idle No More and pipeline blockades as merely “exciting.” They’re beginning to put the fossil fuel industry on the defensive. Every month we slow down their expansion is another month for renewable energy to get cheaper and more ubiquitous. Time is not on their side. It’s not clear it’s on our side either, though, since the momentum of physics is large. Hence the need to make change quickly!

Although he vetoed the KXL pipeline for now, Obama has announced plans to expand offshore oil drilling, even as the ongoing damage from the 2011 BP Deepwater Horizon spill has come back into public focus, with a report that more than 5 million gallons of oil remain in the Gulf. After more than six years of what can be — at best — called equivocating, can climate justice activists still rely on pressuring the Democrats? Is it time for environmental activists to throw their weight behind a third party?

I think offshore drilling is a bad idea. And someone wiser than me is going to have to figure out about electoral politics. We build movements to try and change the zeitgeist; from that will flow, one way or another, political change. Or so I hope, but I’ve been disappointed before.

If we succeed in blocking the KXL pipeline, where should environmental activists turn their focus next?

We’ve long since turned from KXL to focus as well on a hundred other fights: coal ports in the Northwest, fracking in California and Europe, huge coal mines in Australia paid for by Indian billionaires, endless divestment fights, big pushes to support renewables. We’re active in every country but North Korea; the press has a relentless focus on KXL for reasons I don’t fully understand, but for us this is a fight with many, many fronts.

Finally, let’s return to Klein’s book. What do you make of her central contention: that capitalism is on a collision course with the climate? How central do you think the debate around capitalism should be to the future of the environmental movement?

The fossil fuel industry is the richest industry on earth. It’s the most centralized too, producing vast amounts of wealth and political power. If we can replace it with renewable energy, we’ll not only cut the carbon in the atmosphere, we’ll do our share to rebalancing the insanely lopsided social structure of our planet. Or so I hope.


Naomi Klein: ‘The Economic System We Have Created Also Created Global Warming’

February 28, 2015
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Best selling author/activist Naomi Klein. (photo: Anya Chibis/Guardian UK)
Best selling author/activist Naomi Klein. (photo: Anya Chibis/Guardian UK)

By Klaus Brinkbaumer, Der Spiegel

28 February 15


PIEGEL: Ms. Klein, why aren’t people able to stop climate change?

Klein: Bad luck. Bad timing. Many unfortunate coincidences.

SPIEGEL: The wrong catastrophe at the wrong moment?

Klein: The worst possible moment. The connection between greenhouse gases and global warming has been a mainstream political issue for humanity since 1988. It was precisely the time that the Berlin Wall fell and Francis Fukuyama declared the “End of History,” the victory of Western capitalism. Canada and the US signed the first free-trade agreement, which became the prototype for the rest of the world.

SPIEGEL: So you’re saying that a new era of consumption and energy use began precisely at the moment when sustainability and restraint would have been more appropriate?

Klein: Exactly. And it was at precisely this moment that we were also being told that there was no longer any such thing as social responsibility and collective action, that we should leave everything to the market. We privatized our railways and the energy grid, the WTO and the IMF locked in an unregulated capitalism. Unfortunately, this led to an explosion in emissions.

SPIEGEL: You’re an activist, and you’ve blamed capitalism for all kinds of things over the years. Now you’re blaming it for climate change too?

Klein: That’s no reason for irony. The numbers tell the story. During the 1990s, emissions went up by 1 percent per year. Starting in 2000, they started to go up by an average of 3.4 percent. The American Dream was exported globally and consumer goods that we thought of as essential to meet our needs expanded rapidly. We started seeing ourselves exclusively as consumers. When shopping as a way of life is exported to every corner of the globe, that requires energy. A lot of energy.

SPIEGEL: Let’s go back to our first question: Why have people been unable to stop this development?

Klein: We have systematically given away the tools. Regulations of any kind are now scorned. Governments no longer create tough rules that limit oil companies and other corporations. This crisis fell into our laps in a disastrous way at the worst possible moment. Now we’re out of time. Where we are right now is a do-or-die moment. If we don’t act as a species, our future is in peril. We need to cut emissions radically.

SPIEGEL: Let’s go back to another question: Are you not misappropriating the issue of climate change for use in your critique of capitalism?

Klein: No. The economic system that we have created has also created global warming. I didn’t make this up. The system is broken, income inequality is too great and the lack of restraint on the part of the energy companies is disastrous.

SPIEGEL: Your son Toma is two-and-a-half years old. What kind of world will he be living in when he graduates from high school in 2030?

Klein: That is what is being decided right now. I see signs that it could be a radically different world from the one we have today — and that change could either be quite positive or extremely negative. In any case, it’s already certain that it will at least in part be a worse world. We’re going to experience global warming and far more natural disasters, that much is certain. But we still have time to prevent truly catastrophic warming. We also have time to change our economic system so that it does not become more brutal and merciless as it deals with climate change.

SPIEGEL: What can be done to improve the situation?

Klein: We have to make some decisions now about what values are important to us and how we really want to live. And of course it makes a difference if temperatures only rise by 2 degrees or if they rise by 4 or 5 degrees or more. It’s still possible for us humans to make the right decisions.

SPIEGEL: Twenty-six years have passed since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was founded in 1988. We have known at least since then that CO2 emissions from the burning of oil and coal is responsible for climate change. Yet little has been done to address the problem. Haven’t we already failed?

Klein: I view the situation differently given the enormous price we will have to pay. As long as we have the slightest chance of success or to minimize the damage, we have to continue to fight.

SPIEGEL: Several years ago, the international community set a target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Do you still consider that to be achievable?

Klein: Well, it’s still a physical possibility. We would have to immediately reduce global emissions by 6 percent a year. The wealthier countries would have to carry a greater burden, meaning the United States and Europe would have to be cutting emissions by around 8 to 10 percent a year. Immediately. It’s not impossible. It is just profoundly politically unrealistic under our current system.

SPIEGEL: You are saying our societies aren’t capable of doing so?

Klein: Yes. We need a dramatic change both in policy and ideology, because there is a fundamental difference between what the scientists are telling us we need to do and our current political reality. We can’t change the physical reality, so we must change the political reality.

SPIEGEL: Is a society focused on economic growth at all capable of fighting climate change successfully?

Klein: No. An economic model based on indiscriminate growth inevitably leads to greater consumption and to greater CO2 emissions. There can and must be growth in the future in many low carbon parts of the economy: in green technologies, in public transportation, in all the care-giving professions, in the arts and of course in education. Right now, the core of our gross domestic product is comprised of just consumption, imports and exports. We need to make cuts there. Anything else would be self-deception.

SPIEGEL: The International Monetary Fund makes the opposite claim. It says that economic growth and climate protection are not mutually exclusive.

Klein: They’re not looking at the same numbers as I am. The first problem is that at all these climate conferences, everyone acts as if we will arrive at our goal through self-commitments and voluntary obligations. No one tells the oil companies that, in the end, they are really going to have to give up. The second problem is that these oil companies are going to fight like hell to protect what they don’t want to lose.

SPIEGEL: You seriously want to eliminate the free market in order to save the climate?

Klein: I am not talking about eliminating markets, but we need much more strategy, steering and planning and a very different balance. The system in which we live is overly obsessed with growth — it’s one that sees all growth as good. But there are kinds of growth that are clearly not good. It’s clear to me that my position is in direct conflict with neo-liberalism. Is it true that in Germany, although you have accelerated the shift to renewables, coal consumption is actually increasing?

SPIEGEL: That was true from 2009 to 2013.

Klein: To me that is an expression of this reluctance to decide on what is necessary. Germany is not going to meet its emissions targets in the coming years either.

SPIEGEL: Is the Obama presidency the worst thing that could have happened to the climate?

Klein: In a way. Not because Obama is worse than a Republican. He’s not. But because these eight years were the biggest wasted opportunity of our lives. The right factors came together in a truly historic convergence: awareness, urgency, the mood, his political majority, the failure of the Big Three US automakers and even the possibility of addressing the failed unregulated financial world and climate change at the same time. But when he came to office, he didn’t have the courage to do it. We will not win this battle unless we are willing to talk about why Obama viewed the fact that he had control over the banks and auto companies as more of a burden than as an opportunity. He was a prisoner of the system. He didn’t want to change it.

SPIEGEL: The US and China finally agreed on an initial climate deal in 2014.

Klein: Which is, of course, a good thing. But anything in the deal that could become painful won’t come into effect until Obama is out of office. Still, what has changed is that Obama said: “Our citizens are marching. We can’t ignore that.” The mass movements are important; they are having an impact. But to push our leaders to where they need to go, they need to grow even stronger.

SPIEGEL: What should their goal be?

Klein: Over the past 20 years, the extreme right, the complete freedom of oil companies and the freedom of the super wealthy 1 percent of society have become the political standard. We need to shift America’s political center from the right fringe back to where it belongs, the real center.

SPIEGEL: Ms. Klein, that’s nonsense, because it’s illusory. You’re thinking far too broadly. If you want to first eliminate capitalism before coming up with a plan to save the climate, you know yourself that this won’t happen.

Klein: Look, if you want to get depressed, there are plenty of reasons to do so. But you’re still wrong, because the fact is that focusing on supposedly achievable incremental changes light carbon trading and changing light bulbs has failed miserably. Part of that is because in most countries, the environmental movement remained elite, technocratic and supposedly politically neutral for two-and-a-half decades. We are seeing the result of this today: It has taken us in the wrong direction. Emissions are rising and climate change is here. Second, in the US, all the major legal and social transformations of the last 150 years were a consequence of mass social movements, be they for women, against slavery or for civil rights. We need this strength again, and quickly, because the cause of climate change is the political and economic system itself. The approach that you have is too technocratic and small.

SPIEGEL: If you attempt to solve a specific problem by overturning the entire societal order, you won’t solve it. That’s a utopian fantasy.

Klein: Not if societal order is the root of the problem. Viewed from another perspective, we’re literally swimming in examples of small solutions: There are green technologies, local laws, bilateral treaties and CO2 taxation. Why don’t we have all that at a global level?

SPIEGEL: You’re saying that all the small steps — green technologies and CO2 taxation and the eco-behavior of individuals — are meaningless?

Klein: No. We should all do what we can, of course. But we can’t delude ourselves that it’s enough. What I’m saying is that the small steps will remain too small if they don’t become a mass movement. We need an economic and political transformation, one based on stronger communities, sustainable jobs, greater regulation and a departure from this obsession with growth. That’s the good news. We have a real opportunity to solve many problems at once.

SPIEGEL: You don’t appear to be counting on the collective reason of politicians and entrepreneurs.

Klein: Because the system can’t think. The system rewards short-term gain, meaning quick profits. Take Michael Bloomberg, for example …

SPIEGEL: … the businessman and former New York City mayor …

Klein: … who understood the depths of the climate crisis as a politician. As a businessman, however, he chooses to invest in a fund that specializes in oil and gas assets. If a person like Bloomberg cannot resist the temptation, then you can assume that the system’s self-preservation capacity isn’t that great.

SPIEGEL: A particularly unsettling chapter in your book is about Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Group.

Klein: Yes. I wouldn’t have expected it.

SPIEGEL: Branson has sought to portray himself as a man who wants to save the climate. It all started after an encounter with Al Gore.

Klein: And in 2006, he pledged at an event hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative that he would invest $3 billion in research into green technologies. At the time, I thought it was truly a sensational contribution. I didn’t think, oh, you cynical bastard.

SPIEGEL: But Branson was really just staging it and only a fraction of that money was ever spent.

Klein: He may well have been sincere at the time, but yes, only a fraction was spent.

SPIEGEL: Since 2006, Branson has added 160 new airplanes to his numerous airlines and increased his emissions by 40 percent.

Klein: Yes.

SPIEGEL: What is there to learn from this story?

Klein: That we need to question the symbolism and gestures made by Hollywood stars and the super rich. We cannot confuse them with a scientifically sound plan to reduce emissions.

SPIEGEL: In America and Australia, a lot of money is spent on efforts to deny climate change. Why?

Klein: It’s different from Europe. It’s an anger that is similar to that held by those who oppose abortion and gun control. It’s not only that they are protecting a way of life they don’t want to change. It’s that they understand that climate change challenges their core anti-government, free-market belief system. So they have to deny it to protect their very identity. That’s why there’s this intensity gap: Liberals want to take a little bit of action on climate protection. But at the same time, these liberals also have a number of other issues that are higher on their agenda. But we have to understand that the hardcore conservative climate change deniers will do everything in their power to prevent action.

SPIEGEL: With pseudo-scientific studies and disinformation?

Klein: With all of that, of course.

SPIEGEL: Does that explain why you are connecting all of these issues — the environment, equity, public health and labor issues — that are popular on the left? Is it out of purely strategic considerations?

Klein: The issues are connected, and we also need to connect them in the debate. There is only one way that you can win a battle against a small group of people who stand to lose a lot: You need to start a mass movement that includes all the people who have a lot to gain. The deniers can only be defeated if you are just as passionate as them, but also when you are superior in numbers. Because the truth is that they really are very few.

SPIEGEL: Why don’t you believe that technology has the potential to save us?

Klein: There has been tremendous progress in the storage of renewable energies, for instance, and in solar efficiency. But climate change? I, in any case, don’t have enough faith to say, “We’ll come up with some invention at some point, so let’s just drop all other efforts.” That would be insane.

SPIEGEL: People like Bill Gates view things differently.

Klein: And I find their technology fetish naïve. In recent years, we’ve witnessed some really big failures where some of the smartest guys in the room screwed up on a massive scale, be it with the derivatives that triggered the financial crisis or the oil catastrophe off the coast of New Orleans. Mostly, we as people break things and we don’t know how to fix them afterwards. Right now, it’s our planet that we’re breaking.

SPIEGEL: Listening to you, one might get the impression that the climate crisis is a gender issue.

Klein: Why would you say that?

SPIEGEL: Bill Gates says we need to keep moving forward and come up with new inventions to get the problem, and ultimately our complicated Earth, under control. You on the other hand are saying: Stop, no, we have to adapt ourselves to this planet and become softer. The US oil companies are run by men. And you, as a critical woman, are described as hysterical. It’s not an absurd thought, is it?

Klein: No. The entire industrialization was about power or whether it would be man or nature that would dominate Earth. It is difficult for some men to admit that we don’t have everything under control; that we have amassed all this CO2 over the centuries and that Earth is now telling us: Well, you’re just a guest in my house.

SPIEGEL: A guest of Mother Earth?

Klein: That’s too cheesy. But you’re still right. The oil industry is a male-dominated world, a lot like high finance. It’s very macho. The American and Australian idea of “discovering” an endless country and that endless resources can be extracted is a narrative of domination, one that traditionally casts nature as a weak, prone woman. And the idea of being in a relationship of interdependence with the rest of the natural world was seen as weak. That’s why it is doubly difficult for alpha men to concede that they have been wrong.

SPIEGEL: There’s one issue in the book that you seem to steer clear of. Although you revile the companies, you never say that your readers, who are customers of these companies, are also culpable. You also remain silent about the price that individual readers will have to pay for climate protection.

Klein: Oh, I think that most people would be happy to pay for it. They know that climate protection requires reasonable behavior: less driving, less flying and less consumption. They would be happy to use renewable energies if they were offered them.

SPIEGEL: But the idea isn’t big enough, right?

Klein: (laughs) Exactly. The green movement spent decades educating people that they should compost their garbage, that they should recycle and that they should ride their bikes. But look at what has happened to the climate during these decades.

SPIEGEL: Is the lifestyle you lead climate-friendly?

Klein: Not enough. I bike, I use transit, I try to give speeches by Skype, I share a hybrid car and I cut my flying to about one-tenth of what it was before I started this project. My sin is taking taxis, and since the book came out, I’ve been flying too much. But I also don’t think that only people who are perfectly green and live CO2-free should be allowed to talk about this issue. If that were the case, then nobody would be able to say anything at all.

SPIEGEL: Ms. Klein, we thank you for this interview.



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One in Three Germans Say Capitalism to Blame for Poverty, Hunger

February 26, 2015

Woman during anti-capitalism protests in Germany with euro on her face. (photo:
Woman during anti-capitalism protests in Germany with euro on her face. (photo:

By Reuters

26 February 15


early a third of Germans believe that capitalism is the cause of poverty and hunger and a majority think true democracy is not possible under that economic system, according to a survey published on Tuesday by the Emnid polling institute for Berlin’s Free University.

The poll of 1,400 people found that 59 percent of Germans in the formerly communist east consider communist and socialist ideals a good idea for society. In western Germany, 37 percent said they considered communist and socialist ideals to be good.

The radical Left party in Germany remains strong in the formerly communist East, a quarter century after the Berlin Wall fell, paving the way for German unification in 1990.

The survey found that more than 60 percent of Germans believe there is no genuine democracy in their country because industry has too much political influence and that the voice of the voters plays only a subordinate role.

Davos and the crisis of internatiional capitalism

February 5, 2015
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Helipad Stilli Davos – WEF 2015
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It’s Wednesday, Jan. 21, first day of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the posh mile-high ski resort in Davos, Switzerland. 1500 executives of the world’s largest corporations have descended from the sky on private jets to network with each other and 40 heads of state. They can also mix with specially invited celebrities, academics and NGO representatives.Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s Founder and Executive Chairman, wants the capitalist elite to assemble and talk about pressing global issues affecting the well-being of humanity world-wide. Speakers and seminars will address such issues as climate change, political instability and economic inequality, problems affecting multinational corporations operating around the globe.

To get solutions to such giant problems, Schwab believes, you need to engage the real powers of this world–multinational corporations rather than governments whose interests are limited by national borders. As he puts it , “The sovereign state has become obsolete… [we need] a ‘global issue alliance.'” Real power in the capitalist world order rests with multinational corporations, 37 of which have revenues that place them in the top 100 economies .

For the most part, the 63 nations in the top 100 list are oligarchies dominated by politically active billionaires whose fortunes are tied up with multinational corporations. The United States and China, the two biggest economies, demonstrate the political flexibility of capitalist oligarchy.

In an interview with Bloomberg News at Davos, prominent economist Nouriel Roubini had this to say about American ‘democracy’: “In the US we have a system of legalized corruption if you think about it. K Street and the lobbying affect legislation with the money they give the politician. . . . So it’s not a true democracy, it’s a plutocracy.” He should have added that politicians are subservient because they depend on the super-rich to fund their election campaigns.

At the other end of the capitalist spectrum, China’s Communist Party dispenses with the trappings of Western democracy. As John Chan of the World Socialist Web Site reported : “The corporate empires now controlled by leading figures in the “communist party” are as big, if not bigger, than those appropriated by their Stalinist counterparts in Russia after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991.” As the Shanghai Daily boastedlast year, the number of billionaires in the world grew by 28% to 1867, and “The US and China headed the list, with 481 and 358 dollar billionaires respectively.”

The capitalist nobility at Davos will hear from Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International Executive Director, that the global 1% are likely to control more than half of the world’s total wealth in 2016. Moreover, “The 80 wealthiest people in the world altogether own $1.9 trillion, [Oxfam’s] report found, nearly the same amount shared by the 3.5 billion people who occupy the bottom half of the world’s income scale” ( NYT 1/19/15 ). Will the very people whose political activity has brought about extreme inequality want to do something to reverse this dangerous trend?

At the Conference On Inclusive Capitalism in London last May, Christine Lagarde, director of the International Monetary Fund, put this question to the super-rich audience: “Is ‘inclusive capitalism’ an oxymoron?” Capitalism, she said, will not survive unless it brings “rewards for all within a market economy.”

The alternative, Lagarde suggested, is the fulfilment of Marx’s prediction that capitalism “carried the seeds of its own destruction, the accumulation of capital in the hands of a few, mostly focused on the accumulation of profits, leading to major conflicts, and cyclical crises.”

Lagarde’s tone was cautiously optimistic about restoring the legitimacy of capitalism. She answered her own question by saying that a more sustainable, democratic and inclusive capitalism “is not an oxymoron, [but] it is not intuitive either.” There is no guarantee that the rising tide of capital will lift anything except yachts.

South Africa is a vivid illustration of the overwhelming power of international capital. Nelson Mandela’s televised release from prison on Feb. 11, 1990 inspired the whole world. After 27 years of imprisonment by the Apartheid regime in South Africa, he walked between admiring throngs, with clenched fist upraised, seemingly unbowed and uncompromising.

However, after attending the 1992 WEF in Davos, he told his party, the African National Congress, that it must abandon its goal of nationalizing big industries in order to afford programs that would relieve the crushing poverty of black South Africans under Apartheid. He had learned at Davos that nationalization would drive away the capital needed to run the economy.

During his presidency (1994-99), Mandela’s business-friendly policies attracted vast amounts of outside capital, and the South African economy has been since then the fastest growing in Africa. But it is the very opposite of what Christine Lagarde meant by “inclusive.”

As Jim Irvin, leader of South Africa’s largest union, said in 2013: “There is still a war between capital and labour. Nothing has changed. During the struggle, workers fought for a living wage, but the apartheid wage gap is still there.”

Optimism, anyone?


I’m a retired philosophy professor at Centre College. I also am a regular columnist for our local paper, The Danville Advocate-Messenger, as well as the Lexington Herald-Leader. My last book was Posthumanity-Thinking Philosophically about the Future (more…)

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Can Capitalism Save Itself?

January 29, 2015

Lady de Rothschild hosted the ‘Conference on Inclusive Capitalism’ in London last year. (Photo: Rex)

Today’s pop quiz involves oxymorons, those often amusing contradictory two-word expressions like jumbo shrimp, amicable divorce and Fox News. Okay, which of the following oxymorons have gained favor within the higher ranks of finance and politics: a.) Moderated democracy b.) Humanitarian intervention c.) Benevolent despot d.) Inclusive capitalism e.) Compassionate conservatism. If you guessed d.) Inclusive capitalism, you’re correct.

Sadly, the laugh out loud, beyond satire nature of this new buzz phrase is totally lost on those disseminating it with a straight face. This was the case last May when 250 of the world’s titans of finance and business attended a by-invitation-only summit on “Inclusive Capitalism,” held appropriately at an 800 year-old castle in London, England. The attendees represented $30 trillion in assets, fully one-third of the world’s total investable assets.

Hosted by Rothschild banking dynasty heiress, Lady Lynn Foester de Rothschild, the movers and shakers heard keynotes from International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Legard, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former Harvard President and U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and His Royal Highness Prince Charles.

Lady Rothschild voiced the gathering’s purpose by stating that “…it is really dangerous for business when business is viewed as one society’s problems. And that is where we are today.” Paul Polman, Univeler’s CEO, worried about “the capitalist threat to capitalism,” while conference Alan Mendoza openly fretted that “…we felt such was public disgust with the system, there was a very real danger that politicians could seek to remedy the situation by legislating capitalism out of business.”

The participants were spooked by a thoroughly disillusioned public that has lost confidence in capitalism. When combined with people’s rampant distrust of government – seen the coddler of corrupt bankers – elite squirming is well-founded. Further, many people believe that because government only responds to lobbyists from the financial sector, it’s now an open question whether capitalism and democracy are compatible. Dr. Nafeez Ahmed,writing in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, detected “an undercurrent of elite fear” about how several decades of capitalist indifference towards most of the world population might play out.

For well documented reasons, ordinary working people have lost faith in capitalism’s implicit promise of upward mobility and sharing in the prosperity and benefits of society’s advance. By contrast, we learn from Oxfam’s recent report that the 80 richest people (85 last year) on the planet — 0.000001 percent of the global population — now have a collective net worth of $1.9 trillion. Their wealth, which doubled between 2009 and 2014, is equal to that shared by 3.5 billion people at the bottom of the world’s income scale. For perspective, the average wealth per head among the 80 individuals is $23.7 billion compared to $540 for the bottom 3.5 billion people. (Parenthetically, 571 of the world’s 1,645 billionaires are citizens of the United States).

How will this play out? According to Ahmed, the London Summit “represented less a meaningful shift of direction than a barely transparent effort to rehabilitate a parasitic economic system on the brink of facing a global disaster.” For the most part Inclusive Capitalism is a carefully calibrated PR gambit in the service of self-preservation. The ruling groups must convey the image of a chastened system now intent on “including” those previously left out. We’ll be hearing more about financial regulation, profit-sharing, curbing CEO pay, helping the “middle class” and various Neo-New Deal (minus the Deal) bromides.

The challenge for panicky plutocrats and their wholly-owned politicians is to convince the 99.0% that capitalism is the answer, not the problem. And they must accomplish this cosmetic fine-tuning without endangering profits and wealth accumulation. To expect the uber-rich to voluntarily alter the system’s fundamentals is to entertain a perilous naiveté.

My take is that barring significant public agitation from below, a system in which government is merely an appendage of our corporate overloads is not outside the realm of capitalist responses. Calling that system neofascism will offend some readers so for now let’s label it a hybrid American totalitarianism. Hopefully that’s another oxymoron.

Gary Olson, Ph.D. Is chair of the Political Science Department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. Contact:

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