A Must Read Article About Capitalism

This article, written by Paul Buchheit, is a re-print from Alternet.org and is too important to miss. It reads:

How Capitalism Is Dismembering America

If there’s any way capitalism can work, it has to be regulated. Otherwise greed takes over.

Too many Americans are unaware of the extreme disparities that have been caused by the unregulated profit incentive of capitalism. Our winner-take-all system is flailing away at once-healthy parts of society, leaving them like withered limbs on a trembling body, even as the relative few who benefit promote the illusion of opportunity and prosperity for all. Concerned citizens armed with facts are not fooled. Instead, the more they learn the angrier they get. And as in revolutions of the past, discontent leads to change.

Hacking Off the Poor Half of Society

Some wealthy and uninformed individuals have referred to the lowest-income 47% of Americans as the “takers,” who enjoy government benefits at the expense of the high-earning one percent. But their claim is meaningless. The total amount paid out in ‘welfare’ (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is less than the investment income of just three men in a single year.

The monthly Temporary Assistance for Needy Families income for a family of four is less than what the average member of the Forbes Top 20 made in one second at the office.

The 47% don’t own stocks. They don’t own anything. The so-called ‘takers’ have ZERO wealth. The value of any assets owned by nearly half of the country is surpassed by their debt.

Slashing the Security of the Elderly

Recipients of ‘entitlements’ are accused by the uninformed of getting something for nothing. The opposite is true. According to the Urban Institute, the typical two-earner couple making average wages throughout their lifetimes will receive less in Social Security benefits than they paid in. Same for single males. Almost the same for single females.

Getting something for nothing? Yes, the rich are. Tax expenditures, which are deductions and exemptions that primarily benefit the highest-earning individuals, cost about 8% of the GDP, the same percentage that goes to Social Security and Medicare.

If just one of the tax breaks for the rich, the $113,700 cap on Payroll Tax, were eliminated, Social Security would be almost entirely funded for the next 75 years.

Slicing Up Justice

In the last few months American citizens, some of them children, have been arrested for:

·   Looking for Indian arrowheads on federal land.

·   Throwing peanuts on the school bus.

·   Lying about a home address to get the kids into a better school.

·   Sitting on a milk crate.

Meanwhile, not a single banker was arrested for these actions:

·   HSBC Bank laundered money for Mexican drug cartels.

·   Goldman Sachs designed and sold mortgage packages that were meant to fail.

·   Bank of America and Lehman Brothers hid billions of dollars of bonuses and loans from investors.

Severing the Head from the Global Body

If you could gather together the world’s 200 richest individuals, ask each one his or her net worth, get the actual numbers from Forbes, and then add it all up, the total would be more than the total wealth of half the population of the world, 3.5 billion people.

The U.S. is one of the greatest contributors to this shameful disparity. It’s no coincidence that we’re both the third least taxed developed country and the fourth highest in wealth inequality among all nations. It’s also no surprise, with so little revenue going to the general public, that our country is the fourth worst in the overall well-being of its children.

Castrating the Taxman

Corporations have doubled their profits and cut their taxes in half in ten years. The burden of taxes, which Oliver Wendell Holmes called the price of a “civilized society,” has been shifted to workers. For every dollar of employee payroll tax paid in the 1950’s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.

Globalization has allowed U.S. corporations to stop paying for national defense and infrastructure and all the benefits of the U.S. legal and educational systems. All of the following companies had sizable U.S. revenues, but they claimed losses here while declaring billions of dollars of profits overseas.

·   Bank of America, with 82% of its revenue in the U.S., declared $7 billion in U.S. losses and $10 billion in foreign profits.

·   Citigroup, with 42% of its revenue in North America (almost all U.S.), declared a $5 billion U.S. loss and a $28 billion foreign profit.

·   Pfizer, with 40% of its revenues in the U.S., declared almost $7 billion in U.S. losses to go along with $31 billion in foreign profits.

·   Abbott Labs, with 42% of its sales in the U.S., declared a $256 million U.S. loss and $12 billion in foreign profits.

·   Dow Chemical, with 32% of its sales in the U.S., declared a $15 million U.S. loss against foreign profits of over $5 billion.

Conclusions

If there’s any way capitalism can work, it has to be regulated. Otherwise greed takes over. Blind greed. The sneering head at the top of the body watches limbs being chopped off, but it doesn’t seem to recognize that we’re all bleeding to death.

 

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, a writer for progressive publications, and the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.orgPayUpNow.org,RappingHistory.org).

What Exxon Won’t Let the Media Show You

This is some aerial footage of the Mayflower, Arkansas oil spill that is currently NOT being reported by network media.

In my Kansas City market, less than 1 minute of reporting time went into describing to the people in our area the nature of the event, it’s extent and steps toward resolution. They did an even poorer job of explaining that the toxic mess left by this spill is actually Canadian Tar Sands, the same evil goo that oil companies want to ship through the Keystone XL pipeline once they get enough corrupt politicians on board to make it legal.

It may just be me, but what I see in the video looks quite a bit larger than the problem briefly described on our lame television news. Seriously, an abusive basketball coach is currently getting more air time for being a douchebag than this oil spill is for destroying an entire housing development’s worth, polluting a substantial adjacent waterway, killing local wildlife and rendering homes uninhabitable for many in the neighborhood.

This is how Big Capitalism works.

The Last Letter

Tomas Young on his death bed

One man’s last words to a pair of evil war criminals. Photo by Claudia Cuellar

In case you didn’t see this on Truthdig where it originally appeared, I’ve re-printed it here.

A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

This Is Why Predatory Capitalism Must Be Stopped

This video is just one of many that try to explain the current economic landscape in the United States. In only six minutes, it does a great job of visualizing the complex economic web that is spun to death in our completely inadequate commercial media.

If you can watch this and still not understand why the Republican/predatory Capitalist model is a hazardous failure then you deserve the shitty life you’ll soon be leading if we don’t stop the insanity soon.

No Matter What Happens: Don’t Tax The Rich

Originally aired on Films for Action and narrated by Ed Asner, “Tax the Rich” is an 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality.

Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don’t want to pay taxes anymore.

They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren’t so sure.

This land bears a startling resemblance to our land.

For more info, www.cft.org.

Animation by Mike Konopacki. Written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers.