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Noted with Interest, May 2010

May 27, 2010

Trading Apathy for Action
by Deborah Coyne. A wise and empathic Canadian writes a call to action that we should be heeding as well. From Canadians Without Borders, April 9, 2010. Accessed May 26, 2010.

The Greeks Get It
by Chris Hedges. Following what ought to be instead of what is. The time has come for radicalization. It can still be done at the ballot box. We just have to wake up, America! From Truthdig.com, May 24, 2010. Accessed May 26, 2010.

Cuts to Child Care Subsidy Thwart More Job Seekers
By Peter S. Goodman. As government shrinks, and our taxes continue to be shifted to war and corporate welfare, look for business to begin offering sweatshop wages. From The New York Times, May 23, 2010. Accessed May 25, 2010.

What Soldiers at War Can Teach Us About Surviving Financial Warfare
By Arianna Huffington. All Together Now at the grassroots. But we still need to legislate a living wage and guaranteed employment. From the Huffington Post, May 20, 2010. Accessed May 22, 2010.

BP and the ‘Little Eichmanns’
by Chris Hedges. The most eloquent Cassandra we have today. From Truthdig.com, May 17, 2010. Accessed May 19, 2010.

After Religion Fizzles, We’re Stuck with Nietzsche
By Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.com, May 9, 2010. Accessed May 13, 2010.

No One Cares
By Chris Hedges. The Corporatocracy reigns supreme. From Truthdig.com, winner of this year’s Webby Award for Political Blogs, May 3, 2010. Accessed May 5, 2010.

tags: Noted with Interest

Up from Slavery

May 12, 2010

A recent daily quotation from the upper right-hand corner of this page was from FDR, and it read:

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

This is, in a way, the only message of All Together Now. We are an advanced society, with wealth to spare and all the comforts of modern life, yet we are confronted with challenges that cannot be overcome without wide agreement and cooperation on many issues. Our first imperative, indeed, our only imperative, is to arrange our society in such a way that everyone who today has too little has enough. Instead, we are hellbent in the opposite direction, with fewer and fewer hoarding more and more, and with more Americans falling into poverty every year.

Make no mistake, the plutocrats have their hands in your pockets bigtime. What started with the Reagan Revolution thirty years ago has accelerated into a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to a tiny plutocracy at the top, where in 2007 one percent of the American population owned 35% of the nation’s wealth, and the top 20 percent owned 85 percent of it, leaving 15% for the bottom 80 percent. And in terms of strictly financial wealth, which leaves out home equity values, the bottom 80 percent have only a seven percent share in the pie. And those numbers have gotten consistently worse since 1980, except for a brief respite during the Clinton administration.1

How has it happened? Primarily through the exploitation of disaster capitalism, so brilliantly explicated by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The Asian tsunami, Katrina, 9/11, the world economic collapse of 2008 now wending its crippling way through Europe, all have been grist for the mill of the disaster capitalists. They have used every tragedy to press forward with the neo-liberal agenda of privatization, warmaking, and an all-out assault on social equity programs.

It would be one thing if the 2008 global collapse lowered all boats in anything like equal measure. It did not. It is estimated that there has been an astounding 36.1 percent drop in the wealth of the median household since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007, while the wealth of the top 1 percent of households dropped by just 11.1 percent.1 In other words, the economic collapse was just another disaster in aid of a huge transfer of wealth to the top.

Two more sobering statistics: 94 percent of the wealth created between 1983 and 2004 went to the top 20 percent of the population, the bottom 80 percent receiving only six percent. And in Europe, the ratio of executive/CEO pay to factory worker pay is about 25:1. In 1960 in the U.S., that ratio was 42:1; in 2000 it reached its high of 531:1. That is $531 paid to a CEO for every dollar earned by the one doing the actual work. This is not social injustice; this is brigandage.

Read the front page tomorrow, and see if more than half the stories there don’t, in the end, come down to some scheme that will end up diminishing the wealth of the poor and middle class while enriching the multi-billionaires who are destroying our world and our society. The Wall Street “crash,” that brought windfall profits and obscene bonuses to the executives who caused it; the oil spill in the Gulf that has destroyed thousands of small businesses, wreaked havoc on a large chunk of the American environment, and brought the company that built the rig $270 million in insurance profits2; the euro crisis in Greece that is being used to justify an assault on poor and middle class wages, pensions, and social services3,4; endless wars that empty the public coffers, bankrupting our children and grandchildren while filling the pockets of private enterprise profiteers with our hard-earned treasure. The list goes on and on.

It will end. It will end at the ballot box or it will end in the streets. But it will end. Let us hope it ends at the ballot box where, indeed, it still can end, our current crop of despicable politicians notwithstanding. We still have the power. We must wake up, organize, and take back our country. There are worthy organizations working toward that end, many of which have been mentioned on this site. However, our work starts with the neighbor next door, down our street, in our communities. Find your kindred spirits. Meet, discuss, plan, and act. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

1 Who Rules America?, by Professor G. William Domhoff, Sociology Department, University of California at Santa Cruz, September 2005, updated April 2010, accessed May 10, 2010.
2 Rig firm’s $270m profit from deadly spill, by Danny Fortson, from the TimesOnline (UK), May 9, 2010, accessed May 12, 2010.
3 Greek cabinet discusses pension and wage reform as civil service strike looms, from the AP, Feb 9, 2010, accessed May 12, 2010
4 Euro-Bankers Demand of Greece, by Michael Hudson, from Eurasia Review, May 11, 2010, accessed May 12, 2010.
tags: Economics | Poverty | Governance

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