Re: The Wealth Gap and the Collapse of the U.S.
This was printed nearly 3 years ago….could have been printed just yesterday:
….Think what it means as the new year approaches. The nation is at war on two fronts, it’s likely more ahead are contemplated by some in the administration, no substantive effort is being made to change course, and the condition at home is a relentless march toward becoming a full-blown national security police state we’re already perilously close to. It’s because the neocon-dominated Bush administration is reckless in ambition, out-of-control in policy, and the embodiment of a relentless and ruthless “weapon of mass destruction” unleashed on all humanity in its way.
It’s underpinned by an extremist ideology based on rule by savage capitalism that’s frighteningly close to and borders on the tipping edge of the classic definition of fascism combining corporatism with strong elements of patriotism and nationalism, a claimed messianic Almighty-directed and blessed mission, and characterized by authoritarian rule backed by the iron fist of militarism and ‘homeland security” enforcers, illegally spying on everyone, and intolerant of dissent and opposition in an age where the law is what the chief executive says it is and all semblance of checks and balances no longer exist. In a word – despotism, but cloaked in the deceptive rhetoric of a modern democracy falsely claiming to serve the needs of all its people.
It’s also an age of extreme greed and corruption infesting government and corporate boardrooms with the gap between rich and poor at levels greater than since the 19th century “Gilded Age” of the “robber barons.” It’s something economist Paul Krugman calls “entirely unprecedented” under George Bush that “For the first time in our history, so much (of the nation’s economic growth has gone) to a small, wealthy minority” while the great majority can’t stay even as inflation-adjusted wages fail to keep up with rising prices and poverty is growing in an age of affluence affecting tens of millions in the richest country ever in the world.
The grossness of this disparity was on the online business pages of the New York Times on Christmas Day in a story titled “Wall St. Bonuses” So Much Money, Too Few ($250,000) Ferraris. The article highlights that “The 2006 bonus gold rush has re-energized some luxury markets” like Manhattan real estate that had softened earlier in the year and echoed the lament of a real estate broker about a “dearth of listings for two clients trying to spend $20 million on Manhattan properties” while mentioning some of the Wall Street wealthy already in their luxury nests are buying $5 million apartments for their children and private resort vacation homes to boot.
The same ugly data is there overall worldwide in a newly released study by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the UN University that shows the richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of its wealth compared, on the other end, with the assets of about half the world’s population accounting for barely 1% of global wealth – lumps of coal only for them and a “Ba Humbug” dismissal for their plight by those with everything wanting still more.
The Cost to a Society Based on Predatory Capitalism and Out-of-Control Greed, Corruption and Militarism
The societal breakdown in the US is a national disgrace and affects many millions. A sampling of some of it is listed below:
— 47 million Americans can’t afford basic health insurance.
— Over 80 million in total have no health coverage during some portion of each year and most of them are employed.
— The Bush administration just proposed sweeping cuts in payments to pharmacies to reduce the Medicaid benefits 50 million poor in the country rely on, can’t afford to make up the difference for on their own, and may have to forego medications they vitally need if pharmacies won’t fill prescriptions at lower prices.
— The US ranks 41st in infant mortality, and the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks the country 37th in the world in “overall health performance” and 54th in the fairness of health care despite spending at a current level overall of around $2 trillion a year or about double the amount per capita of the OECD countries that deliver superior health care overall to their citizens as a national priority.
— Well over 12 millions Americans struggle daily to feed themselves, and many thousands across the country can’t afford housing and are forced to sleep on the streets including in winter cold.
— A just released December 14 US Conference of Mayors report said these conditions continue to worsen based on a survey of 23 cities showing 7% more requests for food aid in 2006 following a 12% jump in 2005 during a period of economic growth.
— The same report showed requests for shelter rose 9% in 2006 with requests from families with children rising 5%.
— Public education is deliberately being eroded with illiteracy in basic reading, math and computer skills shamefully high and rising.
— The US prison population is the highest in the world at 2.2 million and increasing by 1000 a week, half of those in it are black, and half of the total prison population is there for non-violent offenses half of which are drug-related. The US prison system is a shameful Gulag and an affront to humanity. The appalling conviction and sentencing of first-time drug offender Weldon Angelos is but one of countless examples. He was convicted of three sales of marijuana in 2004 while in possession of a gun unrelated to the sale. Under the insane federal mandatory sentencing laws, he was sentenced to five years for the first offense and 25 years each for the other two totaling 55 years in federal prison or a likely life sentence if he’s forced to serve it all because he possessed and sold a few “joints” of a substance less harmful than legal cigarettes that kill millions yearly while it’s not known marijuana ever killed anyone using it. Only in America.
— The true state of things overall is suppressed by the dominant corporate-controlled media (including the NPR and PBS parts of it) functioning as a national thought-control police controlling all mass communication and depriving the public of any real information vital to a healthy democracy and their welfare.
— Racial segregation is as great as in the 1960s, and the national sport almost is demonizing Muslims as “terrorists, radicals, extremists and Islamofascists” and impoverished “people the color of the earth” Mexicans and Latin Americans as “illegal immigrant invaders polluting” our white western European society and culture, mindless that they only come el norte in desperate search of work because of the devastating effects of NAFTA on their lives that destroyed their ability to support their families.
Data from the Oakland Institute think tank specializing in social, economic and environmental issues shows that heavily subsidized US corn exports to Mexico have tripled since NAFTA came into force forcing two million Mexican corn farmers out of business, something that was predicted in advance but allowed to happen anyway. It also led to suicides but at a rate nowhere near the level globalized trade US-style had on farmers in India where as many as 100,000 of them have taken their own lives because “New World Order” indebtedness caused them to lose their farms and then everything else.
— Childhood poverty in the US ranks 22nd and next to last among developed nations when there should be virtually none tolerated in the richest country in the world or toleration of any of the other listed abuses.
— An alarming number of high-paying and other jobs have been exported abroad in a process that’s gone on for decades but picked up in momentum since the 1980s and especially in recent years. Mckinsey Global Institute estimates the volume will grow 30 – 40% a year for the next five years. Forrester Research estimates 3.3 million white-collar jobs will be lost by 2015 with most affected areas in financial services and information technology, and University of California researchers estimate that “up to 14 million American jobs are at risk to outsourcing.”
It adds up to a nation in decline, losing its industrial base and becoming primarily a service-oriented economy mainly offering low-skill, low-pay jobs with the better, higher-paying ones growing scarcer, making a college degree in areas outside of critical skills almost worthless. Exporting jobs to low-wage countries is a boon for corporate bottom lines in an age of “globalized free trade” never characterized as fair for the harm it does to millions of wage earners at home or in the developing countries on the receiving end being exploited by capital that sucks out their wealth and impoverishes their people, many of whom work for near-slave-rate wages in a modern era of serfdom in countries around the world in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin and Central America.
— Worker outrage around the world in protest is growing in response to these abuses (unreported in the US) because most governments are doing little or nothing to ameliorate them. It showed up on November 22 in South Korea when over 200,000 workers belonging to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) staged a general strike protesting in 17 cities against the bilateral US-Korea Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated that will do to their members and farmers what NAFTA did to Mexicans and India’s agricultural trade policies did to their small farmers. It continued on the streets in the days following and spilled over to the Big Sky Ski Resort in Big Sky, Montana where negotiations are being held in seclusion but are still unable to escape the daily protests held against them there.
— It happened as well in Cebu City, Philippines where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (closely allied to the failed Bush agenda and elected through fraud) had to cancel two Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings in December attended by 19 countries including the US and Canada. It was an abrupt ending to the meeting held to ratify trade and security agreements because of the mass protests by workers, farmers and others against their harmful effects forcing thousands in the country to leave daily to go abroad for work paying enough to support their families at home.
— Workers almost everywhere have been harmed, including in the US, as union clout and worker rights here have declined in an age where the social contract government once had with its working people has been dismantled with less than 13% of the work force (the lowest in the industrialized world) unionized today compared to one-third of it in 1958. In an age of modern-day “robber barons,” the middle class bedrock of a democratic state is slowly disappearing as the nation moves closer to becoming a banana republic at a time when 51 of the world’s largest economies are corporate giants, most of them US-based.
It all goes on with no redress or sign of change in an age of out-of-control militarism and outlandish budgets supporting it that began ratcheting up under Ronald Reagan, along with big budget deficits to pay for it, and have gone wild under George Bush….
With Obama now in the Whitehouse, nothing has changed. Wall-street and the corporate world has been bailed-out off the backs of Main-Street America and the military industrial complex continues to have free reign over the foreign policy of this country. Obama’s mantra of “Change” has only resulted in a different physical presidential face with a secular bent presented to the public, but with the same allegiance to the corporatocracy. So now we operate under the constant state of “emergency” – terrorism, financial collapse, the swine flu, etc….
Emergency-Based Predatory Capitalism:
The Rule of Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Development
In a state of emergency, ordinary political life is suspended. To exit from a state of emergency by curing its causes or addressing its consequences is the “target” constructed as being in the interest of everybody and as the end that everybody must pursue. In a state of emergency, no critique is acceptable, and there is no place for a loyal opposition. Everybody must be on board in pursuit of the target. The state of emergency thus is a desirable condition for power. It is a highly effective way to avoid opposition— perhaps the only effective way in a pluralist political scenario such as a parliamentary democracy or the unstructured global political arena. Thus, the state of emergency is a stabilizing political strategy, a true foundation of “predatory capitalism,” which is how I define the realized form of the current system of global production. In turn, predatory capitalism requires and develops ideological apparatuses to sustain it. A state of emergency thus serves as false consciousness. A thick ideological layer constructs as in the interest of everybody what is in fact a project of domination of the powerful few over the powerless many. In this project, the law serves a double purpose as at the same time a coercive and an ideological apparatus of domination—a stick and a carrot.