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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 65,365

Journal Archives

Richard Wolff: System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism


System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism

Monday, 17 November 2014 09:52
By Richard D Wolff, Truthout | News Analysis


Societies today where capitalist economic systems prevail confront government gridlock. Facing serious and deepening economic problems, even when their leaders can sometimes agree on particular policies, the policies are frequently inadequate to solve the problems. Therefore, questions challenging capitalism occur now more often and more influentially than they have for many decades. Renewed interest in systemic changes, both socialist and fascist, agitates many societies.

Historically, capitalism's problems often led its leaders (economic and political) to make adjustments and changes in income and wealth distributions, government regulations affecting enterprises and markets, international relations, and so on. For example, progressive income taxes and minimum wages were legislated, anti-monopoly rules were enacted, and tariffs and foreign wars were imposed. Sometimes, capitalism's leaders lacked the capacity to execute such solutions or else those solutions proved insufficient. Then, more systemic changes arrived on social agendas. The two most important of such systemic changes were traditional socialism and fascism. These were achieved by peaceful or violent means, by parliamentary reforms or by revolutions, depending on the circumstances of time and place.

By traditional socialism, we mean here the sorts of systemic changes associated with the Soviet Union and China, but also with European social democracy. By fascism, we mean the sorts of systems exemplified by Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany.

Capitalism's deepest problems sooner or later drove political and economic groups within its national boundaries to pursue what they saw as systemic solutions. By that, they meant first and foremost changing the state and integrating it much more closely with enterprises (factories, offices and stores). Transitions to traditional socialism and fascism have historically been the major different, alternative forms of such systemic solutions. Neither has yet proved a durable solution. Modern societies have returned from fascist or traditional socialist periods to forms of capitalism that re-established a greater distance between enterprises and the state. Yet those forms of capitalism keep generating business cycles and inequalities that eventually become the serious problems that bring yet another turn toward traditional socialism or fascism. The deepening problems of the early 21st century raise the distinct possibility of another cycle of fascist and traditional socialist experiments or, as we shall show, perhaps a genuinely new solution. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27270-system-change-or-there-and-back-again-capitalism-socialism-fascism




Richard Wolff: System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism


System Change, or There and Back Again: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism

Monday, 17 November 2014 09:52
By Richard D Wolff, Truthout | News Analysis


Societies today where capitalist economic systems prevail confront government gridlock. Facing serious and deepening economic problems, even when their leaders can sometimes agree on particular policies, the policies are frequently inadequate to solve the problems. Therefore, questions challenging capitalism occur now more often and more influentially than they have for many decades. Renewed interest in systemic changes, both socialist and fascist, agitates many societies.

Historically, capitalism's problems often led its leaders (economic and political) to make adjustments and changes in income and wealth distributions, government regulations affecting enterprises and markets, international relations, and so on. For example, progressive income taxes and minimum wages were legislated, anti-monopoly rules were enacted, and tariffs and foreign wars were imposed. Sometimes, capitalism's leaders lacked the capacity to execute such solutions or else those solutions proved insufficient. Then, more systemic changes arrived on social agendas. The two most important of such systemic changes were traditional socialism and fascism. These were achieved by peaceful or violent means, by parliamentary reforms or by revolutions, depending on the circumstances of time and place.

By traditional socialism, we mean here the sorts of systemic changes associated with the Soviet Union and China, but also with European social democracy. By fascism, we mean the sorts of systems exemplified by Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany.

Capitalism's deepest problems sooner or later drove political and economic groups within its national boundaries to pursue what they saw as systemic solutions. By that, they meant first and foremost changing the state and integrating it much more closely with enterprises (factories, offices and stores). Transitions to traditional socialism and fascism have historically been the major different, alternative forms of such systemic solutions. Neither has yet proved a durable solution. Modern societies have returned from fascist or traditional socialist periods to forms of capitalism that re-established a greater distance between enterprises and the state. Yet those forms of capitalism keep generating business cycles and inequalities that eventually become the serious problems that bring yet another turn toward traditional socialism or fascism. The deepening problems of the early 21st century raise the distinct possibility of another cycle of fascist and traditional socialist experiments or, as we shall show, perhaps a genuinely new solution. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27270-system-change-or-there-and-back-again-capitalism-socialism-fascism



Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse


by Steven Rattner


(NYT) THE Democrats’ drubbing in the midterm elections was unfortunate on many levels, but particularly because the prospect of addressing income inequality grows dimmer, even as the problem worsens.

To only modest notice, during the campaign the Federal Reserve put forth more sobering news about income inequality: Inflation-adjusted earnings of the bottom 90 percent of Americans fell between 2010 and 2013, with those near the bottom dropping the most. Meanwhile, incomes in the top decile rose.

Perhaps income disparity resonated so little with politicians because we are inured to a new Gilded Age.

But we shouldn’t be. Nor should we be inattentive to the often ignored role that government plays in determining income distribution in each country. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/17/opinion/inequality-unbelievably-gets-worse.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0



Fox News Climate Coverage (cartoon)





http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/fox_climate_20141116


America’s Pseudo-Democracy


from Consortium News:


America’s Pseudo-Democracy
November 15, 2014

U.S. pundits mock countries, like Iran or China, where candidates are screened before they go on the ballot, but America has a similar approach, with candidates needing approval from plutocrats and special interests. But that’s just one problem of U.S. democracy, says Lawrence Davidson.


By Lawrence Davidson


Given the dangerous results of the recent election in the United States – one that saw the Republicans, a right-wing party increasingly populated with neocon warmongers, reactionaries and plutocrats take control of both houses of Congress – it might be time to take a look at a sober look at U.S. democracy.

We can begin be taking note of the generic observation made by Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.” The implication here is that democracy is really not the God-blessed system so many of Americans take it to be.

For instance, the public in a democracy is just as vulnerable to manipulation by various elites and interest groups as are those in non-democratic environments. The difference is that a democracy has a built-in procedure that allows citizens to have second thoughts about past manipulation. Thus they can kick out the bastards they were originally persuaded to kick in – even if it is often only to replace them with a new set of bastards.

.......(snip).......

Such is the pseudo-democracy most Americans hold so dear. It still has its virtues relative to more authoritarian forms of rule. However, these too may be shrinking.

After 9/11 the rule of law and freedom of speech in the U.S. have been compromised. You can still write an essay like this one, but if you work for the government or the mainstream press and divulge the government’s criminal excesses, you are likely to end up in jail or exile. These are precarious times and they don’t show American democracy in a very good light – a sobering picture indeed. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/11/15/americas-pseudo-democracy/



Chris Hedges: The Last Days of Tomas Young


from truthdig:


The Last Days of Tomas Young

Posted on Nov 16, 2014
By Chris Hedges


Tomas Young was shot and paralyzed below his waist in Iraq in April 2004 when he and about 20 other U.S. soldiers were ambushed while riding in the back of an Army truck. He died of his wounds Nov. 10, 2014, at the age of 34. His final months were marked by a desperate battle to ward off the horrific pain that wracked his broken body and by the callous indifference of a government that saw him as part of the disposable human fodder required for war.

Young, who had been in Iraq only five days at the time of the 2004 attack, was hit by two bullets. One struck a knee and the other cut his spinal cord. He was already confined to his bed when I visited him in March 2013 in Kansas City. He was unable to feed himself. He was taking some 30 pills a day. His partly paralyzed body had suffered a second shock in March 2008 when a blood clot formed in his right arm (which bore a color tattoo of a character from Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”). He was taken to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Kansas City, Mo., given the blood thinner Coumadin and released. The VA took him off Coumadin a month later. The clot migrated to one of his lungs. He suffered a massive pulmonary embolism and went into a coma. When he awoke in the hospital his speech was slurred. He had lost nearly all his upper-body mobility and short-term memory. He began suffering terrible pain in his abdomen. His colon was surgically removed in an effort to mitigate the abdominal pain. He was fitted with a colostomy bag. The pain disappeared for a few days and then returned. He could not hold down most foods, even when they were pureed. The doctors dilated his stomach. He could eat only soup and oatmeal. And then he went on a feeding tube.

Young hung on as long as he could. Now he is gone. He understood what the masters of war had done to him, how he had been used and turned into human refuse. He was one of the first veterans to protest against the Iraq War. Planning to kill himself by cutting off his feeding tube, he wrote a poignant open “Last Letter” to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in March of 2013 on the 10th anniversary of the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He knew that Bush and Cheney, along with other idiotic cheerleaders for the war, including my old employer The New York Times, were responsible for his paralysis and coming death. After issuing the letter Young changed his mind about committing suicide, saying he wanted to have more time with his wife, Claudia Cuellar, who dedicated her life to his care. Young and Cuellar knew he did not have long. The couple would move from Kansas City to Portland, Ore., and then to Seattle, where Young died.

Veterans Affairs over the last eight months of Young’s life reduced his pain medication, charging he had become an addict. It was a decision that thrust him into a wilderness of agony. Young’s existence became a constant battle with the VA. He suffered excruciating “breakthrough pain.” The VA was indifferent. It cut his 30-day supply of pain medication to seven days. Young, when the pills did not arrive on time, might as well have been nailed to a cross. Cuellar, in an exchange of several emails with me since Young’s death, remembered hearing her husband on the phone one day pleading with a VA doctor and finally saying: “So you mean to tell me it is better for me to live in pain than die on pain medicine in this disabled state?” At night, she said, he would moan and cry out. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_last_days_of_tomas_young_20141116



America’s Pseudo-Democracy


from Consortium News:


America’s Pseudo-Democracy
November 15, 2014

U.S. pundits mock countries, like Iran or China, where candidates are screened before they go on the ballot, but America has a similar approach, with candidates needing approval from plutocrats and special interests. But that’s just one problem of U.S. democracy, says Lawrence Davidson.


By Lawrence Davidson


Given the dangerous results of the recent election in the United States – one that saw the Republicans, a right-wing party increasingly populated with neocon warmongers, reactionaries and plutocrats take control of both houses of Congress – it might be time to take a look at a sober look at U.S. democracy.

We can begin be taking note of the generic observation made by Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.” The implication here is that democracy is really not the God-blessed system so many of Americans take it to be.

For instance, the public in a democracy is just as vulnerable to manipulation by various elites and interest groups as are those in non-democratic environments. The difference is that a democracy has a built-in procedure that allows citizens to have second thoughts about past manipulation. Thus they can kick out the bastards they were originally persuaded to kick in – even if it is often only to replace them with a new set of bastards.

This repeated procedure results in a time limit on the damage elected leaders can do. It is, of course, possible that democratically elected politicians can come close to ruining a nation (their own as well as others) even given their limited tenure. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/11/15/americas-pseudo-democracy/



Bill Moyers: The Bare Knuckle Fight Against Money in Politics





Full Show: The Bare Knuckle Fight Against Money in Politics
November 14, 2014


In this turbulent midterm election year, two academics decided to practice what they preached. They left the classroom, confronted the reality of down-and-dirty politics, and tried to replace moneyed interests with the public interest.

Neither was successful – this year, at least – but on this week’s show, Bill talks with them about their experiences and the hard-fought lessons learned about the state of American democracy.

Lawrence Lessig, who teaches law at Harvard, is a well-known Internet activist and campaign finance reform advocate. This election cycle, he started a crowd-funded SuperPAC aimed at reducing the influence of money in politics. Lessig tells Bill: “Our democracy is flat lined. Because when you can show clearly there’s no relationship between what the average voter cares about, only if it happens to coincide with what the economic elite care about, you’ve shown that we don’t have a democracy anymore.”

Zephyr Teachout, a professor of constitutional and property law at Fordham Law School, ran against New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. She received more than a third of the vote and carried 30 of the state’s 62 counties, surprising everyone – including Cuomo. “When you talk about the corruption in Congress, people are talking about the same thing that Madison was talking about. This sense that our public servants are just serving themselves,” Teachout tells Bill.


http://billmoyers.com/episode/bare-knuckle-fight-money-politics/


My pic of construction of the M1 light rail line in downtown Detroit .........

........ Poetic justice in the Motor City, where the auto barons worked so hard for decades to destroy public transit.









Europe's cycling economy has created 650,000 jobs




from the Guardian UK:


Europe's cycling economy has created 650,000 jobs
Cycling industry employs more people than mining and quarrying with potential for a million jobs by 2020, says new study


Europe’s cycling industry now employs more people than mining and quarrying and almost twice as many as the steel industry, according to the first comprehensive study of the jobs created by the sector.

Some 655,000 people work in the cycling economy – which includes bicycle production, tourism, retail, infrastructure and services – compared to 615,000 people in mining and quarrying, and just 350,000 workers directly employed in the steel sector.

If cycling’s 3% share of journeys across Europe were doubled, the numbers employed could grow to over one million by 2020, says the ‘Jobs and job creation in the European cycling sector’ study which will be published next month.

Kevin Mayne, the development director at the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) which commissioned the paper, said that it had a very simple message for governments and local authorities: “You know that investing in cycling is justified from your transport, climate change and health budgets. Now we can show clearly that every cycle lane you build and every new cyclist you create is contributing to job growth. Investing in cycling provides a better economic return than almost any other transport option. This should be your first choice every time.” ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/12/europes-cycling-economy-has-created-650000-jobs



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