U.S. Economy

Alternatives to Capitalism: Video Richard Wolff.

How PE Firms Are Flipping Drugs in Price-Gouging Scheme that Cannibalizes the Entire US Economy They don’t care. And they’re not required to care.

The ravenous price increases that pharmaceutical companies slap on their medicines are part of the reason the US health care system is eating an ever larger slice of consumer, corporate, and government spending, and why the rest of the economy has trouble moving forward. Some of the price increases have turned into scandals with plenty of mouth-wagging by politicians.

Mylan got raked over the coals in Congress for raising the price of its autoinjector EpiPen seven-fold since buying it in 2007. Last year, Turing Pharmaceuticals, under Martin Shkreli, got into hot water over raising the price of just-acquired Daraprim 50-fold.

Private equity firms have figured this out. You can make a ton of money with a basic formula: Fund a newly created outfit that buys the rights to a prescription drug with little or no competition and with stagnant or declining sales, jack up the price of the drug, then flip the company at an enormous profit.

This has become the latest way of wringing out the American economy without contributing anything to it, and at the expense of everyone else. So Bloomberg dug into the role private equity firms play in these schemes.

Employment Lies By Paul Craig Roberts June 05, 2016 "Information Clearing House"

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the US economy only created 38,000 new jobs in May and revised down by 59,000 jobs the previously reported gains in March and April.

Yet the BLS reported that the unemployment rate fell from 5.0 to 4.7 percent, a figure generally regarded as full employment.

The May jobs increase only covers a small fraction of the monthly growth in the labor force and, therefore, cannot account for the drop in unemployment.

Moreover, the BLS reported that the labor force participation rate fell by 0.2 percentage points, bringing the decline to 0.4 percentage points over the past two months. Normally, a strong labor market, such as one represented by a 4.7% unemployment rate, causes an increase in the labor force participation rate.

The question becomes: How real is the 4.7% rate of unemployment?

The answer is: Not at all.

The unemployment rate dropped because people unable to find jobs ceased looking and are no longer counted as being in the labor force. If you are unemployed but not considered part of the labor force, you are not included when unemployment is measured.

In other words, the unemployment rate is a useless measure of unemployment, just as the consumer price index no longer measures inflation. What were once useful statistical measures have been converted into good news propaganda.

The One Trillion Dollar War - Nothing To Show For It By Joe Clifford August 26, 2016 "Information Clearing House"

We have become so accustomed to war we don’t even bother to discuss it anymore. The war in Afghanistan has dragged on for almost 15 years, and it is no longer mentioned or discussed on corporate news. The clown show, sometimes called a presidential race, has been reduced to two candidates, both of whom are hated by the voting public, and neither has raised the issue of Afghanistan once. The candidates have not been asked about it, and neither has spoken about it. It is the silent war that appears to be never ending, but just because it is not discussed does not mean you are not paying for it. So far the tab is one trillion dollars and rising every day.

What do we have to show for our one trillion-dollar war? What have we accomplished? We have nothing to show, and have accomplished absolutely nothing. NOTHING!!!

The Taliban now controls more land in Afghanistan than ever. US forces cannot venture into the Afghan countryside because they will get killed. The only place in the entire country that is considered under US and Afghan control is the capital city of Kabul, which coincidentally is where the US has its giant embassy with its Green Zone.

Peace, Not Russia, Is Real Threat to US Power By Finian Cunningham May 17, 2016. The US economy has ossified into a war economy and the only way for this to be maintained is for the US to be continually placed on a war footing.

In recent years, Washington’s military expenditure averages around $600 billion a year. That’s over half of the total discretionary spending by the US government, exceeding budgets for education, health and social security. It’s well over a third of the total world military annual spend of $1.7 trillion.

The incipient military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned of in his farewell speech in 1961 has indeed become a central, defining feature of American society and economy. To talk of «American free-market capitalism» is a staggering oxymoron when so much of the country’s economy is wholly dependent on government-funded militarism.

Or put it another way: if the US military budget were somehow drastically reduced in line with other nations, the all-powerful military-industrial complex and the American state as we know it would collapse. No doubt something better would evolve in time, but the impact on established power interests would be calamitous and therefore is trenchantly resisted.

Seeing Humanity in ‘Enemy’ States By Matthew Hoh May 17, 2016. The United States has over 800 military bases around the world, has client states across the globe, many of which are the worst human rights violators .

Food Waste numbers If the amount of food wasted globally were reduced by just 25% there would be enough food to feed all the people who are malnourished according to the UN.

Each year 1.3 billion tons of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted

Environmental impact: the carbon footprint of food produced but not eaten is estimated to be 3.3 gigatons of CO2 per year.

Big Meat Swallows the Trans-Pacific Partnership The global meat industry has already used trade rules to attack very basic consumer rights like country of origin labeling of food.5 These corporations view TPP as an important opportunity to further undermine local, democratic control of agricultural systems, and expand their reach globally.

Could Veganism End World Hunger? The World Health Organization calls malnutrition "the silent emergency", and says it is a factor in at least half the 10.4 million child deaths which occur every year.

If you’re concerned about animal rights, water conservation, clean air and health then you may already be on the road to becoming vegan – so why not take five minutes and find out how veganism could end world hunger?

There is more than enough food being produced to feed everyone in the world twice over.

The problem is, our meat-based diet means that land, water, and other resources that could be used to grow food for human beings are being used to grow crops for farmed animals instead.

70% of U.S. grain production is fed to livestock.

One-third of the world's fish catch is fed directly to livestock.

In cycling our grain through livestock, we waste 90% of its protein and 96% of its calories.

An acre of cereal can produce five times more protein than an acre devoted to meat production. Legumes [beans] can produce ten times as much.

"Those who consume livestock products and fish are competing directly with those who need grain for food." (Lester Brown, president of Worldwatch)

The truth can no longer be dodged. Livestock farming gobbles up agricultural land, water and energy that could be far more efficiently devoted to growing food for people.

The cost of an 8 ounce steak will fill 45 to 50 bowls with cooked cereal grains.

Livestock now outnumber humans by almost three to one. In the last 40 years, the number of cattle has doubled and the fowl population has trebled.

The meat and dairy industry is also putting a huge strain on our water supply.. it is unsustainable.

"The American fast food diet and the meat-eating habits of the wealthy around the world support a world food system that diverts food resources from the hungry" [Dr. Waldo Bello].

It would take just 40 million tons of food to eliminate most world hunger, yet a staggering 760 million tons of grain will be used to feed farmed animals this year.

An individual can make a huge difference. They can stop supporting the meat, fish, egg and dairy industries. They can become vegan.

In the U.S., 64% of cropland produces feed for animals, while only 2% grows fruit and vegetables.

It takes about 300 gallons of water per day to produce food for a vegan, and more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food for a meat-eater.

Fact: You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.

Veganism is about wanting something better.. for the future of our children and the world as a whole.

Veganism is about making the world we live in a better place for people and animals alike.

Diet and Global Warming If one takes the threat of global warming seriously, the most powerful personal step you can take may well be choosing a vegetarian diet.

Capitalism’s Cult of Human Sacrifice Posted on Dec 13, 2015 By Chris Hedges

HOUSTON—Bryan Parras stood in the shadows cast by glaring floodlights ringing the massive white, cylindrical tanks of the Valero oil refinery. He, like many other poor Mexican-Americans who grew up in this part of Houston, struggles with asthma, sore throats, headaches, rashes, nosebleeds and a host of other illnesses and symptoms. The air was heavy with the smell of sulfur and benzene. The faint, acrid taste of a metallic substance was on our tongues. The sprawling refinery emitted a high-pitched electric hum. The periodic roar of flares, red-tongued flames of spent emissions, leapt upward into the Stygian darkness. The refinery seemed to be a living being, a giant, malignant antediluvian deity.

Parras and those who live near him are among the hundreds of millions of human sacrifices that industrial capitalism demands. They are cursed from birth to endure poverty, disease, toxic contamination and, often, early death. They are forced to kneel like bound captives to be slain on the altar of capitalism in the name of progress. They have gone first. We are next. In the late stages of global capitalism, we all will be destroyed in an orgy of mass extermination to satiate corporate greed.

Book: Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy, by Michael Hudson. 2015. Michael Hudson, the president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He is a Research Associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. He is the author of Super Imperialism and The Bubble and Beyond.

Amazon: How financial parasites and debt destroy the global economy. Professor Hudson continues the discussion on the financialization of capital and its global effects. KILLING THE HOST exposes how finance, insurance, and real estate (the FIRE sector) have gained control of the global economy at the expense of industrial capitalism and governments. The FIRE sector is responsible for today’s economic polarization (the 1% vs. the 99%) via favored tax status that inflates real estate prices while deflating the “real” economy of labor and production. The Great 2008 Bailout saved the banks but not the economy, and plunged the U.S., Irish, Latvian and Greek economies into debt deflation and austerity. This book describes how the phenomenon of debt deflation imposes austerity on the U.S. and European economies, siphoning wealth and income upward to the financial sector while impoverishing the middle class.

Comment: Hudson’s book has to be the definitive book about what went wrong not just in 2008 but since the beginning of the 20th century. Hudson exposes the whole farce of ‘heroic’ measures taken by Wall Street’s men in Washington since 2008, i.e. the bailouts and ‘quantitative easings’, etc. for what they are – systematic policies designed to protect and extend the reach of a neo-feudal aristocracy based on control of the country’s government, particularly its ability to create money.

These policies were not just an honest mistake by desperate leaders trying to avoid the consequences of the wholesale looting of the US economy that began in earnest in the 1980s and culminated with the detonation of Warren Buffet’s “financial weapons of mass destruction” in 2008. They were (and are) measures designed to keep in place the ‘free lunch’ enjoyed by a new money-based social order, one under which power and privilege are derived from the creation of yet more “debts that can’t be repaid (and) won’t be”.

As Hudson notes, that ‘miracle of compound interest’ serves ultimately to insure financial crises as the big fish get bigger by eating the little fish (you) until the whole system collapses under the weight of a mathematical impossibility, i.e. the perpetual operation of the exponential function on which it is based.

“Killing the Host” can be viewed as a sequel, a sort of plot denouement, to Hudson’s “Super Imperialism” (SI) published almost a half century ago. In SI he details the historical roots of a new post-Bretton Woods international monetary system under which both Wall Street’s banks and the US government were freed from the constraints imposed by having to maintain the fiction of gold-backed money. In both that book and this one, Hudson portrays himself as a sort of accidental economist who just happened to be in the right place at the right time (armed with a PhD in economics).

But the secret of his insight is a little more basic. Unlike most of his professional peers, Hudson refused to get sucked in by “junk economics”, to distort or discard the wisdom accumulated by historical peers such as Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx or, even further back, pre-Christian civilizations and the Old Testament.

That might seem like a lot to cram into one book. But there is more. Hudson may be unduly optimistic when he writes

“The problem that will occupy the next few generations is how to undo the financial knots into which today’s economies have been tied. Clearing away the overgrowth of debt requires countering the neoliberal junk economics crafted to disable society’s defense mechanisms against financialization and unearned income.”

Not just in the United States but elsewhere throughout Western Civilization we have become nations that “want leaders but get gamblers instead” (i.e. we may not have several generations if our ‘leaders’ decide to take that big crap shoot of challenging a nuclear armed Russia or China ). But he is far more than just another academic, carping over perceived wrongs without offering solutions. See Section IV – “Ten Reforms to Restore Industrial Prosperity”. Read the book! (if, as reviewer Pam Martens phrases it, you are “anyone hoping to escape the most corrupt era in American history with a shirt still on his parasite-riddled back.” - http://wallstreetonparade.com/2015/08/michael-hudsons-new-book-wall-street-parasites-have-devoured-their-hosts-your-retirement-plan-and-the-u-s-economy/ )

Comment: Hudson writes that the FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate) along with the monopoly control of natural resources like oil and gas is the parasite. Finance i.e. banks (what we call Wall Street) is the leader of the parasitic forces. The host is the productive economy like manufacturing and farming and needed services like health care and education. Even more sinister is the fact that, just like in biology, a successful parasite often inserts behavior-modifying enzymes into the host so the host acts like the parasite is part of itself and does not try to reject the parasite. In this case, the behavior modifying enzymes are a set of false ideas dominating the economics departments of leading American universities. Hudson calls those ideas “junk economics” and in this book Hudson labors to correct those false ideas. More often the set of ideas is called “neo-liberalism”. The politicians and technocrats like Geithner, Summers, Greenspan, Rubin, Clinton, and Obama put those ideas into practice inside the government of the host economy. Banks now control our economic and financial policy. The USA is no longer a democracy at the top. It is an oligarchy.

There is $11.8 trillion in private debt in USA, for houses, education, cars, and consumption. This is overhead and it causes the price of housing, education, cars and consumer goods to be higher. Hudson called this “asset-price inflation”. The debts displace money for other things in people’s budgets. Hudson calls this “debt deflation”. It is the private debt overload that is harming the US economy, not the government debt. Mixing the two up is one of the main ideas of “junk economics”. Just ask yourself, would you worry about paying your debts if you could print new money? It is the ability to create new money that makes a sovereign government like the United States very different than a private household. Evidence that private debt is overhead is the fact that after each business cycle since the end of World War II, the private debt in the USA has increased and each recovery has been weaker.

Hudson writes that Obama presided over an oligarchic coup d’état. He let Geithner and Summers convince him, after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, that if the other big Wall Street Banks and hedge funds collapsed, the world economy would collapse. But there was an alternative to the bailouts. The Treasury Department could have taken control of the insolvent banks and could have wound them down like was done after the Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The FBI and SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) could have continued their investigations into widespread mortgage fraud i.e. the creditors committed fraud, encouraged by the big Wall Street banks, by making loans to people they knew would not be able to pay back the loans, especially, after the higher interest rates kicked in after a few years.

The threat that America’s ATM machines would have run out of cash was bogus. Seeing that there was an alternative, especially an alternative with a precedent in our history, makes clear why Hudson says Obama presided over an oligarchic coup d’état.

There is an intriguing quote in the book: “If there is a second meltdown…it will come from a political revolt…probably not originating in the United State.. (e.g. a country like Greece cannot or refuses to pay its debts)” James K. Galbraith, fall 2013.

There is another possibility that Hudson does not mention. From The Methods of Nonviolent Action (1973) by Gene Sharp, we read that method number 88 is the nonpayment of debts or interest. (pp. 238-239) If a mass movement of debtors would stop paying interest of their odious debts, it could cause banks to become insolvent. The movement should then demand the nationalization of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve and write-down of people’s odious debts, the taxation of “economic rent” which is unearned income from monopoly privilege, the revocation of the deductibility of interest, the creation of a public bank option, and the adoption of the policies of Modern Monetary Theory in which the nationalized Federal Reserve would create new money and Congress would spend it into the economy.

Currently, the public/private Federal Reserve creates new money and gives it to the big Wall Street Banks to prop up their balance sheets, a process called “quantitative easing”. Hudson has a 10 point program (p.403) He writes that “reform must be across the board, not piecemeal” (p. 406) and it “must be done quickly and totally, not slowly and marginally” (p.407).

The cancellation of debts released the bondsman, a form of slavery, to return to their families or their land. This was referred to in the Bible as Jubilee.

Michael Hudson’s New Book: Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts — Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy By Pam Martens: August 31, 2015

Millions of American have long suspected that their inability to get financially ahead is an intentional construct of Wall Street’s central planners. Now Hudson, in an elegant but lethal indictment of the system, confirms that your ongoing struggle to make ends meet is not a reflection of your lack of talent or drive but the only possible outcome of having a blood-sucking financial leech affixed to your body, your retirement plan, and your economic future.

In his new book, “Killing the Host,” Hudson hones an exquisitely gripping journey from Wall Street’s original role as capital allocator to its present-day parasitism that has replaced U.S. capitalism as an entrenched, politically-enforced economic model across America...

Where this leads, says Hudson, is that “Paying these financial charges leaves less available to invest or hire more labor. Likewise for the overall economy, the effect of a debt-leveraged real estate bubble and asset-price inflation is that interest payments and fees to bankers and bondholders leave less available to spend on goods and services. The financial overhead rises, squeezing the ‘real’ economy and slowing new investment and hiring.” ...

Make no mistake about it: this is a dangerous book to the status quo. It is truth-telling at its finest in America’s darkest age of entrenched lies. Michael Hudson has clanged the alarm bells over more continuity government from the likes of Hillary Clinton and her fellow Wall Street Democrats. He’s also scuttled the chances that Donald Trump will be able to reengineer America from “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to the evil fortress that kicks out infants by directing hatred and blame for America’s woes to impoverished immigrants running from their own leeches.

Ex-World Bank chief economist exposes “failure” of austerity, deregulation Nafeez Ahmed. Joseph Stiglitz, a senior OECD expert, slams OECD’s own policies to prevent global slowdown

In a little-known speech at the United Nations University, renowned Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz criticised Western approaches to addressing the global economic crisis for being obsessed with market solutions that cannot work.

Describing standard neoclassical and behavioural models of economics as “wrong” on the basis of new advances in economic research, Stiglitz blamed ongoing economic stagnation on the so-called “Washington Consensus”?—?a set of neoliberal policies advocated most strongly by the US and Britain.

The Washington Consensus (WC) consists of a string of interlinked policies requiring reductions in public spending; rampant deregulation to reduce restrictions on banks, corporations and other financial actors; extensive privatisation of social and public services; and liberalisation based on reducing taxes, tariffs and non-tarrif barriers to trade.

All this is believed to drive growth and enhance the distribution of wealth.

In reality, as Stiglitz told an audience at the UN University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research, it has done the opposite.

The Inexorable Logic of Sharing Economy Michael Spence, Nobel Economics Laureate – China Daily 19 October 2015

Some sharing models-perhaps most-rely on both labor and other assets: for example, a person and his or her car, computer, sewing machine, or kitchen (for home-delivered meals). This throwback to the cottage industries that preceded modern production is possible today because the Internet is lowering the costs of dispersion that once compelled the concentration of work in factories and offices.

Perhaps inevitably, regulatory issues arise, as Uber is now discovering from California to Europe.

The truth is that the Internet-led process of exploiting under-utilized resources-be they physical and financial capital or human capital and talent-is both unstoppable and accelerating. The long-term benefits consist not just in efficiency and productivity gains (large enough to show up in macro data), but also in much-needed new jobs requiring a broad range of skills. Indeed, those who fear the job-destroying and job-shifting power of automation should look upon the sharing economy and breathe a bit of a sigh of relief.

The Re-enserfment of Western Peoples By Paul Craig Roberts. November 09, 2015. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. For extensive quotes from his latest book, see THE NEOCONSERVATIVE THREAT TO WORLD ORDER: Washington's Perilous War for Hegemony

The re-enserfment of Western peoples is taking place on several levels. One about which I have been writing for more than a decade comes from the offshoring of jobs. Americans, for example, have a shrinking participation in the production of the goods and services that are marketed to them.

On another level we are experiencing the financialization of the Western economy about which Michael Hudson is the leading expert (Killing The Host). Financialization is the process of removing any public presence in the economy and converting the economic surplus into interest payments to the financial sector.

These two developments deprive people of economic prospects. A third development deprives them of political rights. The Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic Partnerships eliminate political sovereignty and turn governance over to global corporations.

These so called “trade partnerships” have nothing to do with trade. These agreements negotiated in secrecy grant immunity to corporations from the laws of the countries in which they do business. This is achieved by declaring any interference by existing and prospective laws and regulations on corporate profits as restraints on trade for which corporations can sue and fine “sovereign” governments.

The corporations are buying power cheaply. They bought the entire US House of Representatives for just under $200 million. This is what the the corporations paid Congress to go along with “Fast Track,” which permits the corporations’ agent, the US Trade Representative, to negotiate in secret without congressional input or oversight.

In other words, a US corporate agent deals with corporate agents in the countries that will comprise the “partnership,” and this handful of well-bribed people draw up an agreement that supplants law with the interests of corporations. No one negotiating the partnership represents the peoples’ or public’s interests. The governments of the partnership countries get to vote the deal up or down, and they will be well paid to vote for the agreement.

Once these partnerships are in effect, government itself is privatized. There is no longer any point in legislatures, presidents, prime ministers, judges. Corporate tribunals decide law and court rulings.

Violent revolution throughout the West and the complete elimination of the One Percent is another possible outcome. Once, for example, the French people discover that they have lost all control over their dibt to Monsanto and American agribusiness, the members of the French government that delivered France into dietary bondage to toxic foods are likely to be killed in the streets.

Events of this sort are possible throughout the West as peoples discover that they have lost all control over every aspect of their lives and that their only choice is revolution or death.

The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade by Joseph Stiglitz.

The biggest regional trade and investment agreement in history is not what it seems. You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for “free trade.” The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members’ trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies. Make no mistake: It is evident from the main outstanding issues, over which negotiators are still haggling, that the TPP is not about “free” trade.

New Zealand has threatened to walk away from the agreement over the way Canada and the US manage trade in dairy products. Australia is not happy with how the US and Mexico manage trade in sugar. And the US is not happy with how Japan manages trade in rice. These industries are backed by significant voting blocs in their respective countries. And they represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the TPP would advance an agenda that actually runs counter to free trade.

Indeed, provisions in the TPP would restrain open competition and raise prices for consumers in the US and around the world – anathema to free trade.

The TPP would manage trade in pharmaceuticals through a variety of seemingly arcane rule changes on issues such as “patent linkage,” “data exclusivity,” and “biologics.” The upshot is that pharmaceutical companies would effectively be allowed to extend – sometimes almost indefinitely – their monopolies on patented medicines, keep cheaper generics off the market, and block “biosimilar” competitors from introducing new medicines for years. That is how the TPP will manage trade for the pharmaceutical industry if the US gets its way.

To be sure, investors – wherever they call home – deserve protection from expropriation or discriminatory regulations. But ISDS goes much further: The obligation to compensate investors for losses of expected profits can and has been applied even where rules are nondiscriminatory and profits are made from causing public harm.

The corporation formerly known as Philip Morris is currently prosecuting such cases against Australia and Uruguay (not a TPP partner) for requiring cigarettes to carry warning labels. Canada, under threat of a similar suit, backed down from introducing a similarly effective warning label a few years back.

Given the veil of secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, it is not clear whether tobacco will be excluded from some aspects of ISDS. Either way, the broader issue remains: Such provisions make it hard for governments to conduct their basic functions – protecting their citizens’ health and safety, ensuring economic stability, and safeguarding the environment.

Picking Apart One of the Biggest Lies in American Politics: 'Free Trade' It just enriches huge companies at everyone else's expense. By Thom Hartmann.

In 1992, Ross Perot won almost 20% of the entire presidential vote on the single issue of stopping so-called “free trade.” Today, several presidential candidates are gaining huge traction with similar opposition to NAFTA, CAFTA, and the upcoming Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement (SHAFTA, now called the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP).

Time has proven Perot right, and his arguments were consistent with a long history of American industrial success prior to the “free trade” era of the past 30+ years.

[Reagan was the culprit who changed our great economy and ruined everything].

Economy In Crisis the numbers behind our coming emergency

The Poor Are More Ethical Than the 1% Thom Hartmann... "The rich love to demonize the poor, but it turns out that the wealthy are the ones who need a little shaming. Paul Buchheit over at Alternet compiled various reports, studies, and analyses, and found clear evidence that the poor are way more ethical than the one percent [extremely wealthy]. In fact, after reviewing all the data, Paul found clear correlations between wealth and unethical behavior, between wealth and a lack of empathy, and between wealth and being unproductive. In other words, the rich work less, care less, and cheat more often than the working poor."
'The A**hole Effect': What Wealth Does to the Brain Piff’s studies found that as people grow wealthier, they are more likely to feel entitled, to become meaner and be more likely to exploit others, even to cheat.

10 Things Europe Does Way Better Than America: Europe is ahead of America when it comes to healthcare, better sex ed and less violent crime. by Alex Henderson. Alternet, 7/9/14. "The term “American exceptionalism” is often tossed around by politicians. Neocons, far-right Christian fundamentalists and members of the Republican Party in particular seem to hate it when anyone dares to suggest that some aspects of European life are superior to how we do things. But facts are facts, and the reality is that in some respects, Europe is way ahead of the United States. From health care to civil liberties to sexual attitudes, one can make a strong case for “European exceptionalism.”"

The Cost of Choosing Not to Fight

Robert Reich: College Is a Waste for Millions of Kids -- There's a Better Way

OECD: Global firms need new tax rules Sep. 16, 2014... "Moves to tackle corporate tax avoidance on a global scale have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)... The action plan is aimed at multinational companies that shrink their tax bills by shifting their profits from one country to another."

Professors on Food Stamps: The Shocking Exploitation of Toilers in the Ivory Tower: Three quarters of college professors are adjunct—many don't even earn minimum wage.

Paul Krugman Has Some Truly Shocking News About Climate Change "This just in: Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free," the Nobel-prize winning economist announces right off the bat.... It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think... On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010... On the other side, it turns out that putting a price on carbon would have large “co-benefits” — positive effects over and above the reduction in climate risks — and that these benefits would come fairly quickly. The most important of these co-benefits, according to the I.M.F. paper, would involve public health: burning coal causes many respiratory ailments, which drive up medical costs and reduce productivity."

The Kingpins of Carbon and their War on Democracy pdf by Greenpeace.

4 Ways Amazon’s Ruthless Practices Are Crushing Local Economies: The price of Amazon's success is worker exploitation, the destruction of local enterprise and the creation of a corporate oligarch. by Jim Hightower.

Bail Out the People [Not the banks] Movement New political space has opened due to the momentous eruption of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and its slogan "the 99% vs. the 1%." This movement continues despite massive repression organized by Homeland Security. See also BOPM Boston

Is America Like Denmark or Mexico?

[Review of two books: Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and stick you with the bill), by David Cay Johnston. And The Politics of Inequality: A Political History of the Idea of Economic Inequality in America, by Michae J. Thompson.]

"In 2006 two economists turned their critical faculties on a surprising phenomenon: diplomatic parking tickets in New York City. The pair found remarkable variation among the diplomatic corps of different countries. Kuwait's UN delegation led the pack, racking up an astounding 246 tickets per diplomat between 1997 and 2002. At the other end of the spectrum, Denmark's diplomats didn't get a single ticket...

"What the economists failed to note is that corruption itself tracks with another phenomenon--a nation's level of inequality. Dramatically unequal countries like Kuwait tend to be hideously corrupt. Countries like Denmark--by most measures, the most economically egalitarian country in the world--tend to be honest and transparent. Because of the principle of diplomatic immunity, even the careless Kuwaitis were not technically breaking any laws. Still, their parking violations speak volumes about their sense of social cohesion, or what strangers owe one another as members of civil society...

"Johnston's contention is an audacious one: the level of inequality and corruption in contemporary America puts us in league not with our putative economic peers, Canada, Europe and Japan, but with Brazil, Mexico and Russia, countries "in which adults have the right to vote, but real political power is wielded by a relatively narrow, and rich, segment of the population." And, as in these unequal "democracies", American elites routinely raid the public purse rather than rely on the free market to succeed... "corporate socialism"" (Daniel Brook. "Extreme Inequality." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 38-41).

Why the New Deal Matters

"Poll after poll, after all, shows that Americans are ready for more government of the kind the New Deal represents--more caring, more equitable, more willing to counterbalance the private power of corporations and concentrated wealth--and they are, frankly, tired of GOP pieties (and invective) about high taxes, big government and endless deficits...

"But what is it about the New Deal and about Roosevelt that makes the man and the era relevant today?

"One frequent shorthand answer I still hear from New Deal supporters rests on policy achievements: Social Security, bank and stock market regulation, government-backed home mortgages, a progressive income tax, a federal minimum wage, guaranteed workers' rights, aid to higher education, private pensions and healthcare plans and a vast array of public works projects still used today--from giant Western dams and the Tennessee Valley Authority to thousands of bridges, tunnels, roads, sewers, water systems, post offices and airports...

"There's a third facet to Roosevelt that is vital for Democrats to celebrate today: he was the last Democratic President truly committed to multilateralism and to a nonmilitarized American presence in the world ...

" ... so-called New Democrats who emerged thirty years ago... became Rockefeller Republicans in Democratic drag.

"Jimmy Carter's early-stage deregulation of the airlines, telecoms, rail, trucking, energy, banking and Wall Street set the stage for Reagan... Bill Clinton... rolled back the enormously successful financial market firewalls that Roosevelt had put in place...

Toward a New New Deal

"Seventy-five years ago, facing the catastrophe, worldwide failure of the free market, Franklin Roosevelt launched what is perhaps the greatest democratic experiment of the twentieth century. Touching nearly every aspect of American life, the New Deal transformed banking, business, labor, agriculture, arts and literature, urban and rural landscapes and, of course, the relationship of citizens to govenment itself. Today, decades of conservative rule have jeopardized much of the New Deal's legacy. Many of its reforms and regulations have been gutted, and much of the infrastructure it built crumbles from neglect. Yet the New Deal endures, not just in institutions like the FDIC and Social Security but in the very idea that where and when there is crisis government should rise to the challenge for the good of the common people. How can a look back help us confront the challenges of the present? (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

A Green Corps

By Bill Mckibben

"The people hired by these agencies went out and did things, and did them in large numbers--the CCC planted 3 billion trees (which would be no small help with global warming). Imagine an army of similar size trained to insulate American homes and stick solar photovoltaic panels on their roofs. They could achieve, with a year or two, easily noticeable effects on our energy consumption; our output of carbon dioxide might actually begin to level off. And imagine them laying trolley lines back down in our main cities or helping erect windmills across the plains. All this work would have real payoff--and none of it can be outsourced." (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

Not Your Father's FCC

By Michael J. Copps

""To the extent that the ownership of and control of... broadcast stations falls into fewer and fewer hands," the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concluded, "the free dissemination of ideas and information, upon which our democracy depends, is threatened." With those words, the FCC ordered the breakup of the leading broadcast network and banned a single company from owning more than one station per city...

"These media reforms were the work of James Lawrence Fly, the FCC chairman appointed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1939...

"In 1981 President Reagan appointed an FCC chairman... The commission went on to dismantle nearly every public-interest obligation on the books and to enable a tsunami of media consolidation. The results have been disastrous--reporters fired, newsrooms shuttered and our civic dialogue dumbed down to fact-free opinions and ideological bloviation (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

The Bare Minimum

by Eric Schlosser

"...the period of America's greatest economic growth coincided with its highest minimum wage rates. In 1956 the minimum wage in today's dollars was about $7.93 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage reached its peak in 1968, at about $9.91 an hour. During the decades that followed, its real value declined by almost 50 percent. That enormous pay cut for the nation's poorest workers benefited some industries enormously--supplying cheap labor to fast food restaurants, retail stores and farms--while imposing enormous costs on society. When the federal minimum wage hits $7.25 in July 2009, it will still not reach the level considered adequate by President Dwight Eisenhower.

"The high-minded arguments against the minimum wage, for the most part, are merely justifications for higher corporate profits. Since passing a minimum wage law in 1998, Britain has enjoyed some of the fastest economic growth rates and lowest unemployment rates in the European Union" (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

The Only Fitting Tribute

by Frances Moore Lappe

"FDR's core insight that concentrated economic power is anathema to democracy and freedom. By April 1938, even after basic economic protections for citizens were law, Roosevelt still warned that "the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism." (Roosevelt could hardly have imagined such "growth in private power" that more than sixty lobbyists now ply their trade in Washington for every person elected to represent us.) (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

For the "FDR"

by Rev. Jesse Jackson

"...progressive public policy change in America requires at least two key ingredients--an enlightened Presidenty and an energized electorate" (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

Democratizing Capital

by Sherle R. Schwenninger

"Throughout the New Deal era, public investment was America's way of enacting industrial policy. It was understood that public investment paid for itself many times over. The GI Bill alone generated returns of up to $7 for every dollar invested. And because it generated returns to the economy and society, New Dealers in the postwar period were not afraid to raise taxes or to borrow in order to ensure adequate levels of public investment...

"Since 1980 we have devoted less than 2 percent of GDP to public infrastructure and have allowed federal spending on basic research and development to decline as a percentage of GDP as well. As a result, a backlog of public investment needs--clogged roads and ports, collapsing bridges and levees, uneven broadband access, an antiquated air traffic system, an undersized energy infrastructure--has begun to cut into our economic growth and undermine our efficiency...

"The New Dealers were particularly concerned about the power of Wall Street and the financial community. They feared a national credit system that was dependent on Wall Street bankers, whose interests were not always aligned with the needs of homeowners, farmers and small and medium-sized producers. They therefore sought to democratize capital by creating myriad credit institutions that would ensure that all regions and sectors of the economy had access to capital... It was here that the New Deal was most creative--combining a strong federal state with the local and regional decentralization of capital and the local and regional control of these programs and institutions" (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

FDR's Democratic Propaganda

by Stephen Duncombe

"On March 12, 1933, a week after his inauguration and in the midst of a monumental economic crisis, President Franklin Roosevelt took to the radio to address the nation. "My friends," he began in a calm, resonant voice, "I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking." For thirteen minutes Roosevelt patiently explained how banks work, what had gone wrong and what the government planned to do...

"This was propaganda. FDR's talks were scripted by policy advisers and stylized by the playwright Robert Sherwood. Through these homey "fireside chats" the aristocratic Roosevelt recast himself as a plain-talking everyman. Yet listening to these speeches today the listener is struck by how informative they are...

"What all these publicity efforts had in common was an assumption... that aesthetic image and material reality might be complementary, and that publicity could be used to include, not distract, the American people. New Deal publicity spoke to the emotions but also fed the mind. As public relations historian Stuart Ewen argues, "Unspoken, but evident, was a determined and unaccustomed faith in ordinary people's ability to make sense of things." It was propaganda, but it was propaganda in tune with democracy" (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

Beyond the New Deal

by Howard Zinn

"We can learn from the Social Security program and the GI Bill of Rights, which were efficient government programs, doing for older and for veterans what private enterprise could not do. We can go beyond the New Deal, extending the principle of social security to health security with a totally free government-run health system. We can extend the GI Bill of Rights to a Civilian Bill of Rights, offering free higher education for all.

"We will have trillions of dollars to pay for these programs if we do two things: if we concentrate our taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population, not only their incomes but their accumuulated wealth, and if we downsize our gigantic military machine, declaring ourselves a peaceful nation.

"We will not pay attention to those who complain that this is "big government." We have seen big government use for war and to give benefits to the wealthy. We will use big government for the people."

"How refreshing it would be if a presidential candidate reminded us of the experience of the New Deal and defied the corporate elite as Roosevelt did, on the eve of his 1036 re-election. Referring to the determination of the wealthy classes to defeat him, he told a huge crowd at Madison Square Garden: "They are unanimous in their hatred for me--and I welcome their hatred." I believe that a candidate who showed such boldness would win a smashing victory at the polls." (Richard Parker. "Why the New Deal Matters." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 11-30).

Financial Bailout

This nation is on the brink of a historic catastrophe. It requires emergency responses from the federal government on a scale not seen since the Great Depression and the New Deal, the subject of this special issue. Yet the rescue party is composed of the same people who co-wrote this disaster. They are, first, the financiers who indulged their own appetites for extreme wealth and enlarged a financial system of esoteric fakery that inflated prices and profits. Second, the close collaborators were the Federal Reserve and other authorities who blessed this dangerous concoctioon and declined to enforce prudent standards...

"An activist government would respond aggressively on many fronts, but unfortunately we don't have one. Congress, including most Democrats, has been utterly deferential to the Fed and the financial titans. The President is clueless, though he may still veto any positive legislation. But this crisis won't wait for the next election" ("Editorial: The Gentlemen's Bailout." The Nation, April 7, 2008: 3-4).

Moody's Ratings: Protection Racket

"Moody's Investor Services, wholly owned subsidiary of Moody's Corporation, which reported $2.03 billion in revenues in 2006.

"On January 10 Moody's... gave the United States its top AAA credit rating. The terrorist blackmail thrreat came in the form of a demand by Moody's that the US government "reform" Social Security and Medicare"...

"Moody's runs a protection game. It issues credit ratings (in 2007 covering no less than 29 percent of the global credit-rating market by revenue...) based on public data and private information made available by those clients that have "voluntarily" retained its services. The price of not volunteering can be high... the giant German insurance corporation Hannover declined repeated Moody's offers to rate its credit... Moody's immediately issued an unsolicited and adverse rating, and then--just like a small-time mobster after hrling a brick through the window of a liquor store--went back to Hannover and reissued its invitation to offer protection-by-rating. Hannover's top man said he wouldn't surrender to blackmail, and so between 2001 and 2003 brick after brick went through the window as Moody's steadily reduced Hannover's rating all the way down to junk.

By contrast, Enron handled relations with Moody's with ermine gloves. Until days before Enron plunged into bankruptcy Moody's.. refused to lower the boom by demoting onds issued by Enron to "below investment grade." Banks with huge sums at stake allegedly pressured Moody's to keep quiet, even though Moody's had priveleged access to Enron's internal financial operations...

"... market analysts, like Moody's, don't have a clue as to what they are talking about...

"The United States pays around 15 percent of its GDP for healthcare, about 70 percent more than the outlay of other advanced industrial countries. Shift to single-payer and quit shoving money down the imperial sinkhole, and there's no fiscal crisis of any sort, short- or long-term...

"... taxes for those making more than $200,000 a year would generate $60 billion a year. Do this and end the war in Iraq and you wipe out the deficit at a stroke" (Alexander Cockburn. "Moody's The Terrorist at Ground Zero." The Nation, February 4, 2008: 9).

From their ad (http://www.economyincrisis.org):

"We are now extremely vulnerable and dependent on foreign countries for our existence.

"We have sold over 13,000 of our best companies to foreign controlled companies since 1980 and this is continuing at a rapid rate. With fewer American owned companies remaining, there is little possibility we can ever earn enough money to pay our debts, produce enough for our military, and maintain our present living standard.

"Japan and China each have $1 trillion of currency reserves (that they have earned selling us their products) which they can use to buy our remaining companies that are for sale daily on our open stock market."

"Hedge funds seem to have been designed as the ideal plutocratic villain for some novel of financial intrigue. These highly secretive investment groups control more than $1 trillion in assets but are so heavily leveraged that their total positions are thought to equal more than $3 trillion. The essence of their business is speculation, which they engage in on the basis of proprietary mathematical models that are guarded more closely than state secrets. The managers rake in obscene sums of money--the highest-paid made $1.7 billion in 2006. And yet they are virtually unregulated by any government.

"The Bush Administration sees nothing wrong with this situation. For two years it has stalled efforts by Germany to push the G-8 to monitor hedge funds. The funds, and their private-equity cousins, are controversial in Germany because they've been "restructuring" many old-line German companies. Germany's vice chancellor has referred the the funds as "locusts."...

"The problem is that regulators don't even collect information about the industry they're supposed to be vigilant about. Since hedge funds are open only to limited numbers of big investors, they escape all the usual reporting requirements. Even the timit attempt by the Securities and Exchange Commission to impose a registration requirement was struck down by a federal court last summer.

"The upshot is that this increasingly significant portion of the capital market--investment volumes have tripled in the past five years--is totally opaque, which recently led former SEC chair William Donaldson to call the hedge fund industry "a ticking time bomb that is going to blow up at some point." Since major banks and pension funds increasingly invest in hedge funds, the direct effects of this time bomb would extend well beyond the wealthy individuals who are typically though to be the funds' main customers" (Jordan Stancil. "Hedging Bets." The Nation, July 2, 2007: 7).

"...the British Economist has warned that inflated housing prices pose an even bigger risk to the world economy than inflated oil prices. In its annual outlook, "The World in 2005," the publication concludes, "House prices have lost touch with reality. In 2005 they will come down to earth"" ("A Family's House Is Its Castle--Without a Moat." Washington Spectator, March 1, 2005: 3).

"...the gargantuan, multi-billion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a "liberation war" in Iraq, laying out more than half of all weapons expenditures in the world, and giving mssive tax breaks to the top 1 percent of your population while cutting food programs for poor children. Just chalk that up to a different sense of priorities" (Lloyd Axworthy. "Open Letter to Condoleezza Rice." The Progressive, June 2005: 30-31).

"... the EU also enjoys a greater share of global trade... if Europe's two key oil producers, Norway and the UK, wer to adopt the euro--which is likely--this might create a momentum to shift the oil pricing system to euros. If that were to happen, oil-importing nations aroung the world would no longer need dollar reserves to purchase oil, and the demand for dollars could decline significantly" (64)...

"America's growing national debt is largely to blame for a 44 percent rise in the euro and a corresponding 31 percent fall in the dollar between July 2001 and December 2003. The International Monetary Fund is so concerned about US debt... that it issued a report warning that if steps weren't taken to reverse the trend, it could threaten the financial stability of the world economy. IMF economists say that US financial obligations to the rest of the world could be equal to 70 percent of its total economy in just a few years" (64)...

"Few Americans realize the power of European transnational companies. Sixty-one of the 140 biggest companies on the Global Fortune 500 rankings are European, while only fifty are US companies, and twenty-nine are based in Asia" (66)...

"Chances are, most Americans aren't familiar with Bertelsmann, the 167-year-old German media company... the largest book publisher in the world. Of course, Americans buy lots of books from the venerable American publisher Random House. What they don't know is that Random House is owned by Bertelsmann. Well, what about other well-known and long-established American book publishers Penguin, Putnam, and Viking? They are all owned by the British publishing giant Pearson.

"American are proud of Boeing and like to think that no other country surpasses American know-how when it comes to making airplanes. Not so. Airbus, the European consortium, has outperformed Boeing for the past three years and now controls 76 percent of the global airplane market.

"It's fair to say that Royal Ahold, the Dutch food retailer, has zero brand-name recognition in America, even though, with nearly $60bn in revenue in 2002, it's the world's second-largest food retailer. Over the past decade, the Dutch company has quietly bought up virtually every major grocery-store chain east of the Appalachians and now operates more than 1,400 stores still under their original names, like Bi-Lo, Stop & Go, Giant, and Bruno's. Ahold is currently the biggest food retailer on the East Coast of North America" (66-67)...

"It's surprising how little regard European companies are given in discussions around globalization. At antiglobalization protests at World Trade Organization meetings, World Bank gatherings, and G8 Summits, the attention on the streets is generally on the evil machinations of US transnational companies. Even in world policy forums, the focus is almost exclusively on American companies. Yet in so many of the world's key industries, it's European transnational companies that dominate business and trade" (67-68)...

"In a recent survey of the world's fifty best companies, conducted by Global Finance, all but one were European... singled out for praise for their innovative leadership and entrepreneurial acumen...

"The US business community is forever touting the idea that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. In truth, the European Union has a far greater number of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) than the US. In fact, SMEs currently represent two-thirds of the total employment in the EU, compared to only 46 percent of the total employment in the United States" (69)...

"America's recent economic growth has... come with.. a steep price tag in the form of record consumer and government debt...

"...of the 7.2 million millionaires in the world today, the greatest percentage--32 percent--live in Europe, and their numbers are growing faster than those of any other region" (Jeremy Rifkin. The European Dream. p. 71)...

"It might surprise conservatives to learn that Democrats are better for the economy than Republicans, but that's what the Los Angeles Times's Michael Kinsley found 4/3/05 when he compared economic reports over the past 45 years that showed Dem presidents have consistently higher economic growth and lower unemployment than GOP presidents. Spending goes up faster under Republican presidents than under Democratic ones. And debt grows under Republicnas becuase they DO like to cut taxes.

"Kevin Drum of WashingtonMonthly.com 5/9/05 found similar trends in a paper by Princeton's Larry Bartels that showed every income class did well since 1948 but the poorest did best under Democratic presidents. With a Democrat in the White House, the bottom 20% had average pretax income growth of 2.63% per year while the top 5% showed pretax income growth of 2.11% per year. Republicans were polar opposites, with overall performance worse than Democrats, but wildly tilted toward the well-off... "In other words, Republican presidents produce poor economic performance because they're obsessed with helping the well off... At least 95% of the country does better under Democrats"" ("Dispatches." Progressive Populist, June 1, 2005: 5).

"Between the February 2002 peak and the December 2004 low in the value of the dollar, our currency lost 35 percent of its value against the euro, 22 percent against the Japanese yen and even 24 percent against the Canadian dollar...

"The major reason for the dollar's weakness is the profound imbalance in America's dealings with the outside world: We import far more than we export...

"This is an unusual performance for a rich country, where rough balance or even large surpluses are the norm. Trade deficits are usually associated with countries undergoing impressive growth spurts, like South Korea in its glory days... or chronically troubled economies, like those of Africa or Latin America...

"Lately, the task of financing American deficits has fallen to the central banks of Asia, whose dollar assets (mostly US government bonds) now collectively surpass $1 trillion. They acquire these dollars in two ways. First, when Americans import foreign-made goods, we pay in dollars, which then accumulate abroad. Since there is relatively little that we export to Asia, they don't spend those dollars on our products; they acquire our securities instead.

"And second, in an effort to keep the value of their currencies from rising against the dollar, which would raise the price of their exports, Asian central banks, especially China's, have been selling their own currencies...

"This gusher of borrowed money--$2b to $3b of it every business day--has gone to finance Bush's budget deficit and to cover US consumers' penchant for buying stuff on credit. But instead of relying principally on their credit cards for the borrowed money, for the past several years consumers have been borrowing massively against the rising value of their houses (more than $2t since 2000). The ultimate source of those borrowed funds: Asian central banks...

"...we don't make much that anyone wants... our underlying industrial weakness or the American penchant for living beyond our means.

"So far, the dollar's swoon has been orderly. But the risk is that the central bankers will decide that they're holding too many dollars--or hyperemotional market participants will surmise that the central banks are about to come to that conclusion--which could provoke a cascade of panic" (Doug Henwood. "The Dollar's Doldrums." The Nation, May 16, 2005: 6-8).

"...the business costs of this [Bush] approach are already becoming evident. For starters, the new wave of anti-Americanism sweeping the planet goes far beyond KFC bombings in South Asia or widespread hostility in the Middle East. In Asia, the South China Morning Post has noted that a "strong growing hostility" toward the United States has complicated Disney's expansion plans in the area. The Bush imperial foreign policy, moreover, is inspiring consumer backlash even among traditional allies...

"...survey of global elites found that "41 percent of Canadian elites were less likely to purchase American products because of Bush Administration policies, compared to 56 percent in the UK, 61 percent in France, 49 percent in Germany and 42 percent in Brazil...

"...sixty-two percent of executives surveyed by Opinion Dynamics Corp. said the war is hurting America's global competitiveness" (Mark Engler. "Bush's Bad Business Empire." The Progressive Populist, Dec. 15, 2005: 2, 8-9).

""American Unchained," a campaign created by the American Independent Business Alliance. Unchained and the growing network of Independent Business Alliances seek to go beyond damage control to persuade people to keep their dollars recirculating in their local economy rather than sending them to distant corporate headquarters.

"In my home of Montana, citizens of Plentywood, Malta and Glandive all recently decided they had no need to lure a big-box store or drive out of town to shop. Instead, they retooled the corporate model of pooling investments in order to build community-owned and -operated department stores. These are true anti-Wal-Marts in many ways, promoting democracy, community stability and cohesiveness. All of the profit goes to the locals who invested in themselves and their neighbors...

"Citizens in these places aren't buying the defeatist mentality of accepting Target or Kmart as the "better alternative." They've recognized that communities are perfectly capable of meeting their needs without depending on absentee-owned businesses" (Jeff Milchen. "Beyond Wal-Mart." The Progressive Populist, Dec. 15, 2005: 2, 10).

"For five years now, the Republicans have promised us that business tax cuts would strengthen the economy, create new jobs, spur growth, foster investment and bring beer and skittles for everyone. Over five fiscal years, the tax cuts have had a direct cost to the treasury of $860 billion--with interest, $929 billion...

"If the last four years of tax cuts had worked as promised, the economy should have done better than in previous cycles, when taxes were either not cut or cut much less...

"Unfortunately, the EPI concludes, "By virtually every measure, the economy has performed worse in this business cycle than was typical of past ones, including that of the 1990s, which saw major tax increases"" (Molly Ivins. "Did Tax Cuts Help?" The Progressive Populist, Dec. 15, 2005: 2, 22).

Colby Glass, MLIS