This article is co-published with Occupy.com. When I heard that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress last week that it was too soon for the Fed to end its extraordinary stimulus programs, I did a double take. “What stimulus programs?” I thought. Where are the jobs programs? Where are the “extraordinary” social services that [...]
In his recent New York Times op-ed piece, Princeton professor and regular columnist for The New York Times, Paul Krugman observed: The American economy is still, by most measures, deeply depressed. But corporate profits are at record high. It’s simple: profits have surged as a share of national income, while wages and other labor compensation [...]
Literally the day after the election a sudden “urgency” gripped the nation: the imminent danger of the so-called “fiscal cliff” — the national automatic tax increases and spending cuts due in January. The media screamed that the suddenly approaching fiscal cliff would trigger a recession, forcing Democrats and Republicans to consider a “grand bargain” budget deal to avoid disaster.
If foxes are put in charge of rebuilding a chicken coop, it is a given that the chicken’s new quarters will be less than secure. In terms of rebuilding the economy, with the predatory interests of Wall Street dictating the “solutions” proposed by both the Republicans and Democrats, it is a given that their plans [...]
Marxist economic theory is an excellent resource for understanding how socioeconomic systems evolve. At the root of every society are the productive forces (industry, agriculture, science, and technology), and the production relationships that people occupy in the system (owners, workers, lawyers, farmers, etc).
Brad Forrest A real analysis of the United State’s economic history is rarely discussed by politicians or media alike, since the conclusions that would be inevitably drawn would be out of step with what politicians are [...]
Mark Vorpahl Though, for most, the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (Libor) interest rate fixing scandal appears to be distant and far too complex to understand, its potential consequences may be as economically devastating as a world war.
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer In a recent article, “Pensions Under Attack in America?,” Mr. Leo Kolivakis took issue with a proposal by Mark Vorpahl, a union steward, to defend pensions by taxing the rich in order to create jobs (see Pensions Under Attack). Both authors agree that solving the jobs crisis is indispensable to [...]
On Friday, July 6, President Obama signed into law a bill that would renew transportation programs and extend low interest rates on student loans for one year.
Reviewed by Shamus Cooke Any book with “Occupy” in the title should be read with great skepticism. Richard Wolff is prepared to attack such suspicion in his book “Occupy the Economy, Challenging Capitalism.”
Mark Vorpahl During the week of July 1st to 7th an international cabal of corporate lobbyists will be meeting behind closed doors in San Diego. Their aim is moving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) towards completion.
Workers Action Introduction Not satisfied with the passage of the Korea, Panama, and Colombian Free Trade Acts (FTA), overriding the protests of Labor and environmental activists, the Obama Administration is secretly negotiating another FTA — the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact (TPP). This FTA in the making involves not only the United States but Australia, Brunei Darussalam, [...]
Shamus Cooke The recent JPMorgan scandal where billions of dollars were lost in risky bets has re-ignited the move to properly regulate the U.S. banking system. Among those asking for new regulations is Robert Reich, former labor secretary to Bill Clinton. Recently Reich made a plea of sorts to President Obama, whom he wishes would [...]
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer When homeowners have fallen behind in their mortgage payments, whether because of a job loss or because the interest rates just shot up, the bankers have responded coldly. Led by their economic interests, they set their robo-signers working overtime on foreclosures, forcing millions of people out of their homes. Back during the [...]
Facing the Hard Facts of Long Term Unemployment, Comments on Baker and Hassett’s “The Human Disaster of Unemployment” The below op-ed piece was co-authored by liberal economist Dean Baker and published in Sunday’s (May 13, 2012) New York Times. Baker explains with compassion the horrendous effect that mass, long term employment has on both individuals and [...]
After the Greek elections struck fear into the hearts of the global banksters, the fallout remains uncertain. If the next Greek election produces again an anti-austerity result, Greece will almost certainly make a speedy exit from the euro. If this happens — and it is looking increasingly inevitable — the consequences for the global economy [...]
Shamus Cooke On May 5th in Portland, Oregon, a group of 80 activists from a broad array of labor and community groups met to discuss the region’s ongoing budget crises. Instead of simply complaining of cuts, however, the meeting was meant to discuss alternatives, both immediate and more structural. Groups that endorsed the event included the [...]
How are government budgets created, and in whose interests? In Portland, Oregon the city recently held the second and last of its public budget forums, where the community could offer feedback to help craft the city’s budget. Over 200 people attended the meeting at Cleveland High School, much more than city officials anticipated based on the [...]
Tobias Michael Rising up out of the South Waterfront in Portland, Oregon are two gleaming condominiums that make a perfect metaphor for the New Economy that has been promoted by urban planners since the 90s. Beneath the foundations of those condos, buried underneath several layers of concrete, is the sediment and debris of the past. Where [...]
Mark Vorpahl Though it is likely that some of our readers are already familiar with the following video, since it has gone viral, it merits comment. The BBC interview with financial trader Alessio Rastani on the Eurozone rescue plan reveals far more than an “expert’s opinion” on this one topic alone. Unrestrained by any concern [...]
Shamus Cooke “Karl Marx got it right, at some point capitalism can destroy itself,” said Mr. Roubini, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “We thought markets worked. They’re not working.” The world economy is in shambles and about to get worse, according to even mainstream economists. How bad is anybody’s guess. Some things, [...]
Shamus Cooke The debt crisis has been averted and people across the globe are breathing sighs of relief. But in the back rooms of Congress politicians are celebrating for a different reason. It’s the kind of celebration that erupts when a group executes a complicated plan to perfection. The objective in this case was to [...]
How would the vast majority of working people in this country like the deficit to be fixed? Poll after poll has indicated that cutting Social Security and Medicare is VERY unpopular, while raising taxes on the wealthy is extremely popular. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll reported that 78 percent of Americans are opposed to cuts in Medicare, while 72 percent favor taxing the rich
The following op-ed article by David Brooks appeared in The New York Times, June 17, 2011. Brooks’ description of the corruption behind the demise of Fannie Mae, a government-backed lending institution that has since been nationalized, is based on a recent book, “Reckless Endangerment,” by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner. The striking element of Brooks’ analysis is his repeated equation of this specific act of corruption, in which Representative Barney Frank is implicated, with business as usual in Washington. As he puts it: “The scandal has sent the message that the leadership class is fundamentally self-dealing.” And he adds: “The final message is that members of the leadership class have done nothing to police themselves. The Wall Street-Industry-Regulator-Lobbyist tangle is even more deeply enmeshed.”
The Democrats fought the recession by the same methods the Republicans used to create it: allowing the super rich to recklessly dominate the economy while giving them massive handouts. This strategy, commonly referred to as Reaganomics or Trickle Down Economics, is now religion to both Democrats and Republicans; never mind the staged in-fighting for the gullible or complicit media.
Ordinary people get it immediately when presented with the facts about the growing inequalities in wealth, the ever-decreasing taxes on the rich and the corporations, and the increasingly difficult struggle of working people to maintain a dignified standard of living. Instead of capitulating to the polls, unions must launch their own offensive, stand up for what is right, educate the public by purchasing one-page ads in Wisconsin newspapers across the state, lay out all the facts clearly, and then let the people of Wisconsin make an informed decision. Union officials must not abandon public opinion to the corporate-owned media.
What can be done? The tension resulting from these growing inequalities is rapidly approaching an explosive climax. But organized labor officials, who are in a position to mobilize massive numbers of working people to put up a fight, are giving the impression that they are suffering from a state of complete paralysis. Of course, every two years they come to life and furiously expend huge amounts of money and energy to elect Democrats to office, only to see the Democrats fail to throw anything their way except a few crumbs. And in another two years, all the broken promises are pushed under the rug, and this self-defeating ritual repeats itself.
The above phenomena do not happen in a normal economic cycle of boom and bust. These symptoms point to a larger disease in the international economic system, a disease that cannot be cured by politicians who swear allegiance to this deteriorating system and to the wealthy elite who benefit from it.
But who exactly are the bondholders that working people must sacrifice their social programs for? The media would like us to focus exclusive attention on China, and other “foreign” investors. But, as usual, the enemy is closer to home. ……
The biggest holder of U.S. debt is the U.S. Federal Reserve. The amount of money the Federal Reserve “loaned” to the U.S. government has skyrocketed during the Great Recession, due in no small part to the multiple bank/corporate bailouts of AIG, Bear Stearns, and other entities. To this day, the amount of money the Fed has squandered on guaranteeing the bad loans of Wall Street banks remains a state secret, although rumored to be in the trillions of dollars.
Kyle Cooke As a 4th and 5th grade teacher, I was told to watch an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show that dealt with the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman (September 20, 2010). One comment from the show really stood out to me: “… We set them [the students] up for failure.” I completely agree, [...]
Sometimes these basic rights must be demanded. The right to decent housing, a job that pays a living wage, health care, and peace could all be easily achieved in the United States if the economy were arranged with this purpose in mind. Sadly, it is not. It will take a mass movement of working people to re-arrange the priorities of those in power, or to put different people in power, so that the country’s resources are directed to those creating the wealth, or in the most need of it
This illusion of recovery is being instituted into government policy. The Obama administration has argued that federal stimulus money is only needed in small doses to put the economy back on track. With politicians agreeing that the recession is “basically over,” less stimulus money will be offered.
To pay for these corporate policies, U.S. workers are being told that Social Security and Medicare will need to be reduced, as will social services and public education. This policy is already underway on a state-by-state level, and wages for all public workers are already under attack as a result. Obama’s Race to the Top education policy is decimating the public school system nationally.
Shamus Cooke In the state of Oregon, the most widely distributed paper, the Oregonian, announced on its front page that the state should expect “Ten Years of Pain.” The perpetrator: the budget crisis — $2.5 billion in the coming two-year budget cycle, with $2 billion projected deficits until 2019. Sadly, these depressing numbers assume that [...]
The Criminalization of Wall Street: Lynching Bankers Is Not The Solution; THE REAL ECONOMY HAS BEEN DECIMATED
What we are witnessing is not just the sins of errant bankers, but the historic exhaustion of capitalism as a system of economic production and organisation. The long decline in working conditions (pay etc) for most workers in the US and Europe, including the middle class, can be traced back to the 1970s when western corporations and the rich began a taxation revolt.