Article 43

 

Monday, June 03, 2019

The Economy We Need

image: capitalism isnt working

Austerity simply means a lack of investment by societies in themselves, in people, in public goods. Things like healthcare, education, transport, energy, retirement, decent jobs, incomes, savings. The problem is that all those things are what underpin the stability of societies, by ensuring that prosperity is something that is realized by all - not just something greedily seized by a tiny few.
- Austerity American Style Part 17

The answer is not replacing one set of political puppets with another set of political puppets, but for regular people to begin localizing their own production and trade - to decouple from dependency on the existing system and start their own system. Only through this, and the removal of the globalist tumor from its position of power and influence, will anything ever change for the better.
- Zealots

The problem with the homo economicus theory is that the purely rational, purely selfish person is a functional psychopath. If Economic Man cares nothing for ethics or others welfare, he will lie, cheat, steal, even murder, whenever it serves his material interests.
- How Investing Turns Nice people Into Sociopaths

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Three decades of neoliberal policies have decimated the middle class, our economy, and our democracy

After 40 years of market fundamentalism, America and like-minded European countries are failing the vast majority of their citizens. At this point, only a new social contract guaranteeing citizens health care, education, retirement security, affordable housing, and decent work for decent pay - can save capitalism and liberal democracy.

By Joseph E. Stiglitz
Project Syndicate
May 3, 2019

Three years ago, President Donald Trump’s election and the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum confirmed what those of us who have long studied income statistics already knew: in most advanced countries, the market economy has been failing large swaths of society.

NOWHERE IS THIS TRUER than IN THE UNITED STATES. Long regarded as a poster child for the promise of free-market individualism, America today has HIGHER INEQUALITY and LESS SOCIAL UPWARD MOBILITY than most other developed countries.

Reversing this malaise requires that we figure out what went wrong and chart a new course forward, by embracing progressive capitalism, which, while acknowledging the virtues of the market, also recognizes its limitations and ensures that the economy works for the benefit of everyone.

After rising for a century, average life expectancy in the U.S. is now declining. And for those in the bottom 90% of the income distribution, real (inflation-adjusted) wages have stagnated: the income of a typical male worker today is around where it was 40 years ago.

Meanwhile, many European countries have sought to emulate America, and those that succeeded, particularly the U.K., are now suffering similar political and social consequences.

The U.S. may have been the first country to create a middle-class society, but Europe was never far behind. After World War II, in many ways it outperformed the U.S. in creating opportunities for its citizens. Through a variety of policies, European countries created the modern welfare state to provide social protection and pursue important investments in areas where the market on its own would underspend.

The European social model, as it came to be known, served these countries well for decades. European governments were able to keep inequality in check and maintain economic stability in the face of globalization, technological change, and other disruptive forces. When the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent euro crisis erupted, the European countries with the strongest welfare states, particularly the Scandinavian countries, fared the best.

Contrary to what many in the financial sector would like to think, the problem was not too much state involvement in the economy, but too little. Both crises were the direct result of an under-regulated financial sector.

After the fall

Now, the middle class is being hollowed out on both sides of the Atlantic.

Reversing this malaise requires that we FIGURE OUT what went wrong and chart a new course forward, by embracing progressive capitalism, which, while acknowledging the virtues of the market, also recognizes its limitations and ensures that the economy works for the benefit of everyone.

We cannot simply return to the golden age of Western capitalism in the decades after World War II, when a middle-class lifestyle seemed within reach of a majority of citizens. Nor would we necessarily want to. After all, the ғAmerican dream during this period was mostly reserved for a privileged minority: white males.

We can thank former President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for our current state of affairs. The neoliberal reforms of the 1980s were based on the idea that unfettered markets would bring shared prosperity through a mystical trickle-down process.

We were told that lowering tax rates on the rich, financialization, and globalization would result in higher standards of living for everybody. Instead, the U.S. growth rate fell to around two-thirds of its level in the post-war era - a period of tight financial regulations and a top marginal tax rate consistently above 70% and a greater share of the wealth and income from this limited growth was funneled to the top 1%.

Instead of the promised prosperity, we got deindustrialization, polarization, and a shrinking middle class. Unless we change the script, these patterns will continue - or worsen.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to market fundamentalism.

Through a pragmatic rebalancing of power between government, markets, and civil society, we can move toward a freer, fairer, and more productive system. Progressive capitalism means forging a new social contract between voters and elected officials, workers and corporations, rich and poor.

To make a middle-class standard of living a realistic goal once again for most Americans and Europeans, markets must serve society, rather than vice versa.

Invasion of the wealth snatchers

Unlike neoliberalism, progressive capitalism is based on a proper understanding of how value is created today. THE TRUE AND SUSTAINABLE WEALTH OF NATIONS comes not from exploiting countries, natural resources, and people, but from human ingenuity and cooperation, often facilitated BY GOVERNMENTS and civil-society institutions.

Since the second half of the eighteenth century, productivity-enhancing innovation has been the real driver of dynamism and higher living standards.

The rapid economic progress inaugurated by the Industrial Revolution, following centuries of near stagnation, rests on two pillars. The first is science, through which we can apprehend the world around us. The second is social organization, which allows us to be more productive working together than we ever could be on our own.

Over time, institutions such as the rule of law, democracies with systems of checks and balances, and universal standards and norms HAVE STREHGTHENED BOTH PILLARS.

On brief reflection, it should be obvious that these are the sources of material prosperity. And yet wealth creation is often confused with WEALTH EXTRACTION. Individuals and corporations can become rich by relying on market power, price discrimination, and other forms of exploitation. But that does not mean they have made any contribution to the wealth of society.

On the contrary, such behavior often leaves everyone else worse off overall. Economists refer to these wealth snatchers, who seek to grab a larger share of the economic pie than they create, as rent-seekers. The term originated from land rents: those who received them did so not as a result of their own efforts, but simply as a consequence of ownership, often inherited.

Such harmful behavior is especially prevalent in the U.S. economy, where more and more sectors have come to be dominated by just a few firms. These mega-corporations have used their market power to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. By charging higher prices, they have effectively lowered consumers living standards.

With the help of new technologies, they can - and do - engage in mass discrimination, such that prices are set not by the market (finding the single price that equates demand and supply), but by algorithmic determinations of the maximum each customer is willing to pay.

At the same time, U.S. corporations have used the threat of offshoring to drive down domestic wages. And when that hasnגt sufficed, they have lobbied pliant politicians to weaken workers bargaining power further.

These efforts have proved effective: the share of workers who belong to unions has fallen across most advanced economies, but especially in the U.S., and the share of income going to workers has declined precipitously.

No excuses

While advances in technology and emerging-market growth have certainly played some role in the decline of the middle class, they are of secondary importance to economic policy.

We know this because the same factors have had different effects across countries. The rise of China and technological change have been felt everywhere, but the U.S. has significantly higher inequality and less social mobility than many other countries, such as Norway.

Likewise, where financial deregulation has gone the furthest, so have FINANCIAL SECTOR ABUSES such as market manipulation, predatory lending, and excessive credit-card fees.

Or consider Trump’s obsession with trade agreements.

Insofar as U.S. workers have been ill-served by policy makers, it is not because trade negotiators from developing countries outsmarted U.S. negotiators. In fact, the U.S. usually gets almost everything it asks for.

The problem is that what it asks for reflects the interests of U.S. corporations, not of ordinary citizens.

And as bad as things are now, they are about to get worse. Consider Americas income inequality.

Already, artificial intelligence and robotization are being hailed as the engines of future growth. But under the prevailing policy and regulatory framework, many people will lose their jobs, with little help from government to find new ones. Autonomous vehicles alone will deprive millions of their livelihood.

At the same time, our tech giants are doing what they can to deprive government of the ability to respond, and not just by campaigning for lowering taxes: They are demonstrating the same genius in avoiding taxes and exploiting consumers that they previously showed in developing cutting-edge innovations.

Moreover, they have shown little, if any, regard for people’s privacy. Their business models and behavior are effectively exempt from oversight.

Still, there is hope in the fact that our economic dysfunction is the result of our own policies. Some countries facing these same global forces have adopted policies that have led to dynamic economies in which ordinary citizens have prospered.

Through progressive-capitalist reforms, WE CAN START to restore economic dynamism and ensure equality and opportunity for all. The top priority should be to curb exploitation and encourage wealth creation, and this can best or only - be done by people working together, especially through government.

The indispensable state

Whatever form wealth-snatching takes - from the abuse of market power and information asymmetries - to profiting from environmental degradation - there are specific policies and regulations that could both prevent the worst outcomes and yield far-reaching economic and social benefits. Having fewer people die from air pollution, drug overdoses, and DEATHS OF DESPAIR, will mean having more people who contribute productively to society.

Regulation has had a bad name since Reagan and Thatcher made it synonymous with “red tape.” But regulation often improves efficiency. Anyone living in a city knows that without stoplights - a simple “regulation governing the flow of cars through an intersection” we would live in perpetual gridlock. Without air quality standards, the smog in Los Angeles and London would be worse than the air in Beijing and Delhi.

The private sector would never take it upon itself to curb pollution. Just ask Volkswagen VW,

Trump and the lobbyists he has appointed to dismantle the U.S. government are doing everything they can to strip away regulations protecting the environment, public health, and even the economy.

For more than four decades after the Great Depression, a strong regulatory framework prevented financial crises, until it came to be seen, in the 1980s, as
“stifling” innovation. With the first wave of deregulation came the savings and loan crisis, followed by more deregulation and the dot-com bubble in the 1990s, and then the global financial crisis in 2008.

At that point, countries around the world tried to rewritethe rules to prevent a recurrence. But now the Trump administration is doing what it can to reverse that progress.

So, too, the antitrust regulations implemented to ensure that markets work like they are supposed to competitively - have been stripped back. By curbing rent-seeking, anticompetitive practices, and other abuses, we would improve efficiency, increase production, and spur more investment.

Better still, we would free up resources for activities that actually improve well being. If fewer of our best students went into banking, perhaps more would go into research. The challenges in both are great, but one is focused on taking advantage of others, the other on adding to what we know and to what we can do.

And, because the burden of exploitation tends to weigh most heavily on those at the bottom of the economic pyramid, we would reduce inequality and strengthen the fabric of American society.

As the term implies, progressive capitalism recognizes both the power and the limitations of markets. It is simply a fact that, left to its own devices, the private sector will always produce too much of some things, like pollution, and too little of others, like basic research, which is the taproot of innovation and economic dynamism.

Government has a central role to play not just in restraining the private sector from doing what it shouldnt, but in encouraging it to do what it should. And through collective action ג through government we can do things that we couldnחt do alone and which the market on its own wont.

Defense is the obvious example, but the large-scale innovations Ғ such as the creation of the internet and the Human Genome Project are examples of public expenditures that have transformed our lives. Nor will the private sector ever provide many of the universal services that are the basis of any decent society.

The reason the U.S. government created Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment and disability insurance is that entrepreneurs and corporations would not provide these essential services, or did so with unacceptable costs and restraints (such as denial of health insurance to those with pre-existing conditions).

And in many of these areas, the government has proved to be more efficient than the private sector. Social Security’s administrative costs are a fraction of those for private retirement plans, and Social Security covers a broader array of risks, such as those associated with inflation.

Our only option

The kind of common sense regulations and reforms I have described are necessary to restore growth and to bring a middle-class life back into reach for most Americans and Europeans.

But they are not sufficient. What we need is a new twenty-first-century social contract to ensure that all citizens are guaranteed access to health care, education, security in retirement, affordable housing, and a decent job with decent pay.

Many countries have already shown that discrete elements of this social contract are achievable.

The U.S., after all, stands alone among developed countries in not recognizing health care as a basic human right. Ironically, while the U.S. spends more on health care both per capita and as a share of gross domestic product җ than any other developed country, its predominantly private system delivers worse outcomes. U.S. life expectancy is barely higher than that of Costa Rica, a middle-income country with one-fifth the per capita GDP of America.

The U.S. pays a high price for these failures, the costs of which will most likely continue to grow over time.

The labor-force participation rate for prime-age men is at historic lows, and the rate for women has begun to decline, too. Many of those who have left the labor market are suffering from chronic health problems and are taking prescription pain medications, contributing to the opioid crisis that has come to define Trumps America.

With 21% of American children growing up in poverty, persistent underinvestment in public education will undoubtedly weigh on future productivity.

From a progressive-capitalist perspective, the key to delivering a new social contract is through a public option for services that are essential to well being. Public options expand consumer choice and spur competition. Competition, in turn, will lead to lower prices and more innovation.

Many hoped that the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would include a public option for health insurance. But, in the event, industry lobbyists succeeded in getting it dropped it from the final bill. That was a mistake.

Beyond health care, the U.S. also needs a public option for retirement accounts, mortgages, and student loans.

In the case of retirement, this could mean that individuals who want more income during retirement would have the option to contribute more to Social Security during their years in the labor force, with commensurate increases in retirement benefits.

This would not only be more efficient than paying into a private supplemental plan; it would also protect citizens from exploitative wealth-management firms. In fact, many of these firms have lobbied against having to abide by any fiduciary obligations at all, effectively arguing that if they canגt fleece their clients, then they cant make enough money to justify their existence.

Conflicts of interest, from this perspective, are just part of the rough-and-tumble of 21st-century capitalism: why even force firms to disclose them?

Moreover, because U.S. banks now claim that they can’t take on the risk of underwriting mortgages, roughly 90% of all home loans are backed by the federal government. But if taxpayers have already assumed nearly all of the risk while the private sector continues to reap all of the profits, there is no reason not to have a public option.

The government could start offering a conventional 20% down 30-year mortgage to anyone who has paid taxes for five years, at a rate just a little above the rate at which it borrows money. And, unlike private mortgages, which were virtually designed to ensure that millions would lose their homes in the financial crisis, a public option could be devised to enable workers to stay in their homes when they faced a temporary hardship.

Back to morality

Most of these proposals are no-brainers; yet the economic reforms we need will face serious political challenges because of the influence of vested interests. That’s the problem with severe economic inequality: it inevitably gives rise to and reinforces political and social inequality.

When THE ORIGINAL PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT emerged during America’s late-19th-century GILDED AGE, its main objective was to wrest democratic governance from the great monopoly capitalists and their political cronies.

The same goes for progressive capitalism today. It requires that we reverse the Republican Party’s systematic effort to disenfranchise large segments of the electorate through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other anti-democratic techniques. It also requires that we reduce the influence of money in politics, and restore proper checks and balances.

The Trump presidency has reminded us that such checks are indispensable for the proper functioning of democracy. But it has also exposed the limits of existing institutions (such as the Electoral College, through which the president is chosen, and the Senate, where a small state like Wyoming, with fewer than 600,000 people, has the same vote as California, with nearly 40 million), underscoring the need for structural political reform.

At stake in both America and Europe is our shared prosperity and the future of representative democracy. The explosion of public discontent across the West in recent years reflects a growing sense of economic and in political powerlessness on the part of citizens, who are seeing their chances of having a middle-class life evaporate before their eyes.

Progressive capitalism seeks to curb the excessive power of concentrated money in our economy and our politics.

But there is even more at stake: our civil society and our sense of identity, both as individuals and collectively. Our economy shapes who we are, and over the past 40 years, an economy built around a core of amoral (if not immoral) materialism and profit-seeking has created a generation that embraces those values.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can have a more compassionate and caring economy, built around cooperatives and other alternatives for-profit enterprise. WE CAN design better systems of corporate governance, where more than just SHORT-RUN PROFIT MATTERS. We can and should expect better behavior from our profit-maximizing firms - and proper regulation - will take away some of the temptations to misbehave.

We have conducted a 40-year experiment with neoliberalism. The evidence is in, and by any measure, it has failed. And by the most important measure - the well being of ordinary citizens it has failed miserably.

We need to save capitalism from itself. A progressive capitalist reform agenda is our best chance.

SOURCEORIGINAL

Posted by Elvis on 06/03/19 •
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Friday, May 31, 2019

Third World U.S.A. Part 11 - Just Getting By

image: ALICE - asset limited income constrained employed

ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.

For far too many families, the cost of living outpaces what they earn. These households struggle to manage even their most basic needs - housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and necessary technology.

When funds run short, cash-strapped households are forced to make impossible choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, filling a prescription or fixing the car. These short-term decisions have long-term consequences not only for ALICE families, but for all of us.Through a series of new, standardized measurements, each states ALICE Report presents a broad picture of financial insecurity at the county and municipal level. What we found was startling - the size of the workforce in each state that is struggling financially is much higher than traditional federal poverty guidelines suggest. United For ALICE is a grassroots movement stimulating a fresh, nonpartisan national dialogue about how to reverse the trend and improve conditions for this growing population of families living paycheck to paycheck.

- Unitied for ALICE

image: gig economy

Is the gig economy a path to prosperity or the indenture of just getting by?
Democrats participate in a public cringe about going too far left, too fast, and working people get the gig economy

By Bob Hennelly
Salon
May 19, 2019

One of the best things that American capitalism has going for it is the myth machine that’s programmed generations of school age Americans to believe that our collective national story is a narrative of remarkable broad-based socio-economic progress.

Its like that warm and fuzzy inner glow we get from Disney’s Epcot Center where we can trace early man executing cave drawings through the printing of the Gutenberg Bible all the way to today’s driverless car.

It’s all very patriotic and cuts down on the odds of incubating young radicals who might threaten capitals established order or be in too much of hurry to make things better now. The one thing you don’t want to teach them is LABOR HISTORY because then they will know just how bad its been and for how long.

Yeah, people died for the CAUSE OF LABOR RIGHTS in the fervent hope something might get better. Owners didn’t just say “oh, you don’t want to bring your 11-year-old to work with you anymore and you want Sunday off? No problem.”

The cover story for the great disappearance of unions goes something like this: Yes, at one time back in the era of black and white movies American workers were terribly exploited but then they organized unions and several FRANK CAPRA movies later, the workers won their struggle and we got the minimum wage and the forty-hour week, but we really don’t need unions in modern times.

Or, so we were told.

We know just how violently exploitative slavery was as an institution but how many Americans know that by some HISTORICAL ESTIMATES half to three-quarters of European immigrants that came to the colonies had some form of indenture price hanging over their head.

Capital has been kicking labor’s ass since it wore powdered wigs in this country and the data shows it hasn’t let up since, as the widening wealth and income gap demonstrates.

Scroll forward a few hundred years, the entire recorded history of the country, and according to a 2018 FEDERAL RESERVE REPORT on the Economic Well Being of the U.S. Household in the 21st century “four in 10 adults, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would either not be able to cover it or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.”

So that’s the great wheel of progress? More like the randomness of the wheel of fortune. At least when you were indentured there was a chance you might get free food and shelter.

In the 2020 debate for the Democratic nomination, the constant refrain we hear from the moderators of the cable debate is that the greatest danger Democrats face is the perilous prospect they will go too far left, too fast.

If anything, we have been moving too slow for too long and we can see it in the data related to the growing affordability crisis that’s been documented by the United Way across the country with its ANALYSIS OF THE WORKING POOR in several states.

The national non-profit takes a detailed look at the local cost of living and wages for families they define as asset limited income constrained but employed (ALICE). In California 48 percent of the state’s families are either poor or struggle week-to-week to get by. In Florida, it is 46 percent. In Ohio, 42 percent are in that ALICE cohort. In New York, 45 percent either live below poverty or are struggling on the edge over which they will plummet after one major unexpected expense.

We did not get to these numbers overnight. This is the consequence of decades of permitting corporations to grow larger and larger as the union movement shrunk to a fraction of what it once was. Fifty years ago, almost a third of Americans were in a union while today it is just one in ten. Is it any wonder that since the 1970s WAGES HAVE DECLINED or stayed flat as worker productivity skyrocketed along with the COST OF LIVING?

As I have written in this space before, there are signs of a grass roots labor union revival born out of something that has been brewing for several Presidential election cycles. It is driven by data that shows this generation of young adults are on track to be the first that wont do better than their parents economically.

For me it appears to be most evident In New York State that has a bit of a head start with one of the highest concentrations of organized labor in the country.  In the next few weeks the state’s union movement is hoping to right what New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, believes is a “decades old disgrace"with the passage this session of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (S-2837/A-2750).

In the 1930s America’s farmworkers were excluded from the landmark protections extended to the rest of the nation as codified during the New Deal. The 1935 National Labor Relations Act and the 1938 Fair Labor Practices Act expressly exempted them, along with domestic workers.

These landmark reforms codified the concept of overtime and a minimum wage.

“People think we all took these huge leaps forward, but these reforms were not universal,” said Joshua Freeman, a professor and labor historian at the City of New York’s Graduate Center. “It depended on your race and gender and the farmworker and domestic worker cutouts were to get southern Congressional Democrats on board who did not want to see black workers covered.”

During the eighty-plus years since, resistance to farmworkers organizing and gaining legal work place protections has remained intense with less than one percent of the workforce being able to benefit from union membership.

In New York States the drive to, at long last, provide farmworkers with labor rights they have been denied for decades is led by 33-year-old State Senator JESSICA RAMOS, who was first elected last year and chairs the State Senate Labor Committee.

“We must ensure that farmworkers are granted the rights that all other workers in our state are afforded a day off, overtime pay, unemployment benefits and the right to collectively bargain,” she said in an email exchange.

Ramos has held hearings across the state to raise the visibility of the issue and is trying to forge a consensus. “I am talking to all stakeholders in this issue and I have toured the state talking to farmers and farmworkers alike,” she said. “Farm work isn’t like a nine-to-five office job and is greatly impacted by inclement weather. I hope to come to an agreement and pass the bill by the end of session.”

Ramos has worked for two unions and sees advancing labor’s interests as central to her agenda. “Despite having the highest union density in the country, there are too many unorganized and disorganized industries in New York,” said Ramos. As the daughter of immigrants, one of whom is a former member of the now-defunct International Lady Garment Workers Union, I’ve always felt a sense of responsibility in bridging the gap between born and raised New Yorkers like me and immigrants like my parents.

The NEW YORK STATE AFL- CIO’S Cilento believes the farmworker labor standards bill, long a state labor priority, is now closer than it has ever been to becoming law

“Farmworkers don’t have the right to overtime pay which means a farmworker can work 60, 70, 80 hours a week at the discretion of their employer for as long as the employer sees fit,” Cilento said “And because they don’t have a right to join a union, to collectively bargain. they don’t have any say on the matter.”

Yet, even as the state AFL-CIO was lobbying hoping to finally deliver for farmworkers, Cilento said he saw a bigger challenge ahead for organized labor with the explosion of the so-called gig-economy.

According to a recent study by Cornell University’s Worker Institute, sponsored by the state AFL-CIO, the exponential growth in the on-demand workforce of independent contractors that’s managed by online platforms, or “apps,” is eroding long-standing legal protections for labor.

Intuit Inc, the parent company of Turbo Tax, estimates that almost 34 percent of the workforce today is in the gig economy and predicts that share to rise to 43 percent by 2020. No doubt, many of the participants in that realm also are still working a conventional job.

But for the millions of Americans who work only in the overall gig economy, there is no unemployment insurance, workers compensation coverage, wage and hour protection, family and medical leave, workplace health and safety, withholding of taxes, pension security, anti-discrimination or right to organize and collectively bargain.

“We have a class of workers who are being denied basic rights that most other workers have,” Cilento said in a statement when the report was issued on April 30. “This is a turning point in our changing economy that reeks of early 20th century working conditions of low wages and discrimination.”

“On-demand platform employment is but the latest demonstration of destabilizing changes in work, conditions, and labor markets that have developed since the 1980s,” according to the Cornell Worker Institute report commissioned by the NYS-AFL-CIO.

“Companies have systematically shifted or eliminated jobs formerly done in-house through subcontracting, reliance on third parties, contingent and temporary work contracts, and abuse of “independent contractor” status.”

The CORNELL ANALYSIS reports the industries most impacted by this trend are: transportation, trucking, construction, home health care, janitorial, hospitality, restaurant, household services, clerical, and retail services.

The research paper continues, “On-demand industry practice, represented by such companies as Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and TaskRabbit, is to hire and dispatch workers as independent contractors. These workers are, however, not true “independent contractors;” they are not in business for themselves and cannot freely negotiate employment terms.”

“It is going to be very important for taxpayers,” Cilento warned. “These workers will be working 60 hours a week and not making even the minimum wage, which means ultimately if you have a growing percentage of the economy with workers working at these lower rates the general public - taxpayers - are going to be subsidizing their earnings with public assistance because we have a growing number of people who are not making ends meet. 

As a consequence, Cilento predicts conventional brick-and-mortar businesses will increasingly be handicapped by having to live up to their legal obligations under existing labor law that protects their employees as their web-based competitors can increase their profits and increase their market share because their business model is based on evading them.

So much for social progress.

SOURCE

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Half of Americans Are Effectively Poor Now. What The?
Americas Collapsing Because it’s the World’s First Poor Rich Country

By Umair Hague
May 31, 2019

There are days I feel like I read dystopian statistics for a living. And then there are day when the dystopian statistics take even my jaded breath away. Heres one: 43% OF AMERICAN HOUSEHOLDS can’t afford a budget that includes housing, food, childcare, healthcare, transportation, and a cellphone. Translation: nearly half of Americans cant afford the basics of life anymore.

Does that take your breath away too? It should. And yet it might not come as a surprise. You might know it intimately. The statistics say thereҒs an even chance you’re living it. What a grim and bizarre reality. Half of people are effectively poor in the worlds richest country. What the?

The folks that did the study above call this new class of people ALICE, for asset limited, income constrained, employed. It’s a sharp way to think about American collapse. Let me translate this term, too: the people formerly known as the American middle class.

Lets take each of those terms one by one. “Asset limited” means that these households don’t have the resources - the hard financial assets - to drawn down on anymore. That tallies with other research which says the majority of Americans now have a negative net worth. In short, asset limited is a polite way of saying: indebted for life, with no real way of ever not getting out of the trap. Its a nice way of saying: broke.

Why not? That brings me to the second idea in the term. “Income constrained.” American incomes haven’t risen for half a century. But the cost of living has exploded..skyrocketed..gone supernova. Healthcare and education didn’t cost as much as a house in the 1970s, or even the 1980s. And houses didn’t cost more than the average person would ever make in their lifetime. If “asset-limited” is a polite way of saying broke and indebted, income constrained is a polite way of saying poor.

There are two basic kinds of financial poverty, after all. Not having much of an income, and not having any wealth saved up. Americans are poor in both ways now. Thats because their incomes haven’t risen to allow them to save, and their debts keep mounting, which eats up their meagre incomes. Hence (another shocking stat) most Americans now die in debt. What the?

Is this the 1300s? What do we call a population that live and debt - in debt? We certainly don’t call them free in any real sense. They’re the modern equivalent of serfs or peasants - who are born owing, and who will die owing, a fictional, unplayable amount.

Americans are something very much like Neo-serfs because of the last idea in the phrase ALICE, employed. You see, its not as if the average American is poor now because he or she is sitting around playing video games all day. Quite the contrary. Americans are notoriously hard working people - and that trend continues right down to this day. Americans hold several jobs. The side hustle has become an everyday feature of life.

Americans arent poor because they don’t work, they don’t work hard enough, or they don’t work long enough. Theyre poor even if they do. In that sense, the final idea in the phrase ALICE is underwhelming, inadequate - it fails to really get to the root of the problem here. If the majority of people in a rich society are poor noweven though “they’re employed” then clearly the problem isn’t the people it’s the system.

Now, you might object. Are Americans really becoming poor? What else would you call people that struggle to afford food, housing, childcare, and healthcare? You can’t call them rich, and you can’t call them middle class. They are poor in the sense that they are deprived of the basics of life, and deprivation is what poverty is. Even far poorer countries, Id wager, don’t have such dire outcomes - bigger percentages can afford the basics - because medicine or rent or childcare in Pakistan or Nigeria doesn’t cost so relatively much. Americans are indeed growing effectively poorer and poorer now - and it shows in their depression, stress, anger, rage, anxiety, falling longevity and health, not to mention classic turn towards authoritarianism.

Poverty in America, in other words, has become endemic and ubiquitous because its systemic and structural. It’s baked into the system. It’s a feature, not a bug. And most Americans these days, Id wager, understand this intuitively. Work hard, play by the rules, become something, someone worthy. Be a teacher, engineer, writer, coach, therapist, nurse etcetera. What do you get? You get your pension “raided” (read: stolen) by hedge funds, you get your income decimated by “investment bankers,” you get charged a fortune for the very things you yourself are involved in producing but never earn a fair share of, you get preyed on in every which way the predatory can dream up.

But it’s a new kind of poverty too - or at least one unseen since the Weimar Republic, really. It’s the poverty of decline, degeneration, decay. Its the poverty of a middle class becoming a new poor. It’s the reversal of an upwards trajectory - not the failure to launch. It’s people who expected to live better and better lives finding themselves in the grim, unfamiliar predicament of never being able to reach them, no matter what they do. Except maybe sell out and become one of the predators. What happens when that takes place? Something strange, something difficult, something paradoxical and backwards.

If I say to the average American - hey, I know you’re poor. Listen, I’m not trying to insult you. I’m trying to help you. I know it. The statistics tell me so. I can see it in on your stressed out, depressed face. I can see it in everything about you now - what will the average American say? Well, he or she will respond defensively, probably. “Hey, go to hell buddy! Im not poor!” That’s understandable. Nobody likes to be called poor - and especially not Americans, because living in a hyper capitalist society, poverty is stigmatized, scorned, mocked, and hated. To call an American poor is something like calling a Soviet a bad communist party member - or maybe even a capitalist. Comrade! To the gulag with you!

I get it. But it’s not helping anyone to pretend Americans are rich now when in fact theyre poor. The difficult truths are these. The majority of Americans - or near enough - are effectively poor now. America is the world;s poor rich country. And no progress whatsoever can be made until enough of them are willing to admit it. Think about it. If Americans go on playing this strange and silly game of pretending to be rich when they’re poor, then what reason is there to address any of the obvious and fatal failures at the heart of American life anymore? If you’re rich and fortunate, why do you need public, healthcare, childcare, retirement? And yet without those things, Americans will only ever get poorer.

There’s a place where pride becomes hubris. Where stoicism becomes vanity. Where self-reliance becomes ignorance of the common good. Americans are at that place right now, in this moment.

American poverty - middle class falling into ruin, the majority of people now effectively poor - is what gave rise to today’s problems: Trumpism, extremism, fascism, theocracy. It’s what drives religious fervour - save me, someone! It’s what ignites the spark of racial hatred all over again.

And until and unless this problem is addressed, my friends, in a tough and gentle and sane way, America is going to stay where it is. People that really understand political economy have a saying: “capitalism implodes into fascism.” That’s because it produces mass poverty, not riches, decline, not upward mobility - and the new poor then turn on everyone, neighbours, friends, allies, values, morals. If that sounds eerily like America today, then you should be able to see America tomorrow, too.

Somebody needs to say it, and it needs to be said with gentle understanding, real empathy, uncompromising truth, and genuine compassion. America is effectively a poor country now. Not a poor country like poor countries, but a poor country of its own kind. A poor rich country, a rich country where the average person lives like a poor person. That single fact is at the heart of American collapse, my friends. And its not OK.

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Posted by Elvis on 05/31/19 •
Section Dying America
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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Iphone Phone Home

image: iphone phone home

Its the middle of the night. Do you know who your iPhone is talking to?

Apple says, :What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”
Our privacy experiment showed 5,400 hidden app trackers guzzled our data - in a single week.

By Geoffrey A. Fowler
Washington Post
May 28, 2019

It’s 3 a.m. Do you know what your iPhone is doing?

Mine has been alarmingly busy. Even though the screen is off and I’m snoring, apps are beaming out lots of information about me to companies I’ve never heard of. Your iPhone probably is doing the same - and Apple could be doing more to stop it.

On a recent Monday night, a dozen marketing companies, research firms and other personal data guzzlers got reports from my iPhone. At 11:43 p.m., a company called Amplitude learned my phone number, email and exact location. At 3:58 a.m., another called Appboy got a digital fingerprint of my phone. At 6:25 a.m., a tracker called Demdex received a way to identify my phone and sent back a list of other trackers to pair up with.

And sll night long, there was some startling behavior by a household name: Yelp. It was receiving a message that included my IP address - once every five minutes.

Our data has a secret life in many of the devices we use every day, from talking Alexa speakers to smart TVs. But we;ve got a giant blind spot when it comes to the data companies probing our phones.

You might assume you can count on Apple to sweat all the privacy details. After all, it touted in a recent ad, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” My investigation suggests otherwise.

IPhone apps I discovered tracking me by passing information to third parties - just while I was asleep - include Microsoft OneDrive, Intuits Mint, Nike, Spotify, The Washington Post and IBM’s the Weather Channel. One app, the crime-alertservice Citizen, shared personally identifiable information in violation of its published privacy policy.

And your iPhone doesnt only feed data trackers while you sleep. In a single week, I encountered over 5,400 trackers, mostly in apps, not including the incessant Yelp traffic. According to privacy firm Disconnect, which helped test my iPhone, those unwanted trackers would have spewed out 1.5 gigabytes of data over the span of a month. That’s half of an entire basic wireless service plan from AT&T.

This is your data. Why should it even leave your phone? Why should it be collected by someone when you donӒt know what theyre going to do with it?Ҕ says Patrick Jackson, a former National Security Agency researcher who is chief technology officer for Disconnect. He hooked my iPhone into special software so we could examine the traffic. I know the value of data, and I donӒt want mine in any hands where it doesnt need to be,Ҕ he told me.

In a world of data brokers, Jackson is the data breaker. He developed an app called Privacy Pro that identifies and blocks many trackers. If youre a little bit techie, I recommend trying the free iOS version to glimpse the secret life of your iPhone.

Yes, trackers are a problem on phones running Google’s Android, too. Google wont even let Disconnect’s tracker-protection software into its Play Store. (Googles rules prohibit apps that might interfere with another app displaying ads.)

Part of Jackson’s objection to trackers is that many feed the personal data economy, used to target us for marketing and political messaging. Facebook’s fiascos have made us all more aware of how our data can be passed along, stolen and misused - but Cambridge Analytica was just the beginning.

Jackson’s biggest concern is transparency: If we don’t know where our data is going, how can we ever hope to keep it private?

The app gap

App trackers are like the cookies on websites that slow load times, waste battery life and cause creepy ads to follow you around the Internet. Except in apps, theres little notice trackers are lurking and you can’t choose a different browser to block them.

Why do trackers activate in the middle of the night? Some app makers have them call home at times the phone is plugged in, or think they wont interfere with other functions. These late-night encounters happen on the iPhone if you have allowed “background app refresh,” which is Apple’s default.

With Yelp, the company says the behavior I uncovered wasn’t a tracker but rather an “unintended issue that’s been acting like a tracker.” Yelp thinks my discovery affects 1 percent of its iOS users, particularly those who’ve made reservations through Apple Maps. At best, it is shoddy software that sent Yelp data it didn’t need. At worst, Yelp was amassing a data trove that could be used to map peoples travels, even when they weren’t using its app.

A more typical example is DoorDash, the food-delivery service. Launch that app, and you’re sending data to nine third-party trackers - though you’d have no way to know it.

App makers often use trackers because they’re shortcuts to research or revenue. They run the gamut from innocuous to insidious. Some are like consultants that app makers pay to analyze what people tap on and look at. Other trackers pay the app makers, squeezing value out of our data to target ads.

In the case of DoorDash, one tracker called Sift Science gets a fingerprint of your phone (device name, model, ad identifier and memory size) and even accelerometer motion data to help identify fraud. Three more trackers help DoorDash monitor app performance - including one called Segment that routes onward data including your delivery address, name, email and cell carrier.

DoorDashҗs other five trackers, including Facebook and Google Ad Services, help it understand the effectiveness of its marketing. Their presence means Facebook and Google know every time you open DoorDash.

The delivery company tells me it doesnt allow trackers to sell or share our data, which is great. But its privacy policy throws its hands up in the air: ҒDoorDash is not responsible for the privacy practices of these entities, it says.

All but one of DoorDashӔs nine trackers made Jacksons naughty list for Disconnect, which also powers the Firefox browserҒs private browsing mode. To him, any third party that collects and retains our data is suspect unless it also has pro-consumer privacy policies like limiting data retention time and anonymizing data.

Microsoft, Nike and the Weather Channel told me they were using the trackers I uncovered to improve performance. Mint, owned by Intuit, said it uses an Adobe marketing tracker to help figure out how to advertise to Mint users. The Post said its trackers were used to make sure ads work. Spotify pointed me to its privacy policy.

Privacy policies don’t necessarily provide protection. Citizen, the app for location-based crime reports, published that it wouldn’t share your name or other personally identifying information.ғ Yet when I ran my test, I found it repeatedly sent my phone number, email and exact GPS coordinates to the tracker Amplitude.

After I contacted Citizen, it updated its app and removed the Amplitude tracker. (Amplitude, for its part, says data it collects for clients is kept private and not sold.)

“We will do a better job of making sure our privacy policy is clear about the specific types of data we share with providers like these,” Citizen spokesman J. Peter Donald said. We do not sell user data. “We never have and never will.”

The problem is, the more places personal data flies, the harder it becomes to hold companies accountable for bad behavior including inevitable breaches.

As Jackson kept reminding me: This is your data.

The letdown

What disappoints me is that the data free-for-all I discovered is happening on an iPhone. Isn’t Apple supposed to be better at privacy?

“At Apple we do a great deal to help users keep their data private,” the company says in a statement. “Apple hardware and software are designed to provide advanced security and privacy at every level of the system.”

In some areas, Apple is ahead. Most of Apple’s own apps and services take care to either encrypt data or, even better, to not collect it in the first place. Apple offers a privacy setting called “Limit Ad Tracking” (sadly off by default) which makes it a little bit harder for companies to track you across apps, by way of a unique identifier for every iPhone.

And with iOS 12, Apple took shots at the data economy by improving the ?intelligent tracking prevention” in its Safari web browser.

Yet these days, we spend more time in apps. Apple is strict about requiring apps to get permission to access certain parts of the iPhone, including your camera, microphone, location, health information, photos and contacts. (You can check and change those permissions under privacy settings.) But Apple turns more of a blind eye to what apps do with data we provide them or they generate about us Ӕ witness the sorts of tracking I found by looking under the covers for a few days.

For the data and services that apps create on their own, our App Store Guidelines require developers to have clearly posted privacy policies and to ask users for permission to collect data before doing so. When we learn that apps have not followed our Guidelines in these areas, we either make apps change their practice or keep those apps from being on the store,ד Apple says.

Yet very few apps I found using third-party trackers disclosed the names of those companies or how they protect my data. And what good is burying this information in privacy policies, anyway? What we need is accountability.

Getting more deeply involved in app data practices is complicated for Apple. Todays technology frequently is built on third-party services, so Apple couldn’t simply ban all connections to outside servers. And some companies are so big they dont even need the help of outsiders to track us.

The result shouldn’t be to increase Apple’s power. “I would like to make sure they’re not stifling innovation,” says Andrs Arrieta, the director of consumer privacy engineering at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  “If Apple becomes the Internets privacy police, it could shut down rivals.”

Jackson suggests Apple could also add controls into iOS like the ones built into Privacy Pro to give everyone more visibility.

Or perhaps Apple could require apps to label when they’re using third-party trackers. If I opened the DoorDash app and saw nine tracker notices, it might make me think twice about using it.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 05/30/19 •
Section Privacy And Rights
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Made In China

image: your job is next to go to china

No, Mr. President: China didn’t steal our jobs. Corporate America gave them away
Trump’s trade war points the finger in the wrong direction. China behaved normally; corporate CEOs betrayed us

By Cody Cain
Salon
May 19, 2019

China is not stealing American jobs.

President Trump loves to blame China for the job losses that have devastated American workers under globalization. But the truth is that Trump is blaming the wrong party. Trump’s reckless trade war against China is misguided and amounts to a colossal charade that will not solve the actual problem.

Yes, it is true that numerous American manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas to China, thereby leaving American workers jobless and suffering. But China did not steal these jobs.

No. These jobs were given to China. It was all legal and legitimate. China merely accepted the gift.

What would anyone expect China to do? Accepting these jobs was a perfectly rational course of action.

China was an underdeveloped nation with a large population of poor people willing to work for a fraction of the hourly wages of American workers. And then corporations came along and presented China with an attractive offer: We would like to build manufacturing plants in China and hire droves of your unemployed people to work there. What was China supposed to do? Naturally, China said yes.

This is hardly stealing.

It is true that these new jobs in China were intended to displace American workers. But does that concern belong to China? Does China have the responsibility to care for the well-being of American workers? Is China supposed to prioritize American workers over its own workers?

Of course not.

China is supposed to look out for itself and for its own workers, not for American workers. Thus it was perfectly proper for China to allow the manufacturing plants to be built in China and employ Chinese workers. China did not steal these jobs.

So if China is not at fault, then who is to blame for the devastation caused to American workers?

The answer is plain to see, and it lies within our own shores. The fault belongs squarely with corporate America.

It was corporate America that made these decisions. Corporate America decided to close their American plants and open new plants in China. Corporate America decided to lay off multitudes of American workers and ruin entire American communities.

And who profited from the destruction to American workers? It was the wealthy executives and shareholders of American corporations. They earned millions of dollars for themselves by cutting the costs of their workforce.

This is part of the larger trend of economic inequality that is eroding the entire middle class in America. Wealth is being shifted away from the workers down below and transferred up into the hands of the wealthy executives and shareholders at the top.

Trump blaming China is nonsense. China is not at fault. To be sure, China is hardly an angel and indeed engages in improper trade practices. But even if China agreed to whatever bone-headed demands Trump is seeking, the problem still would not be solved. The truth is that America cannot possibly compete against China on labor costs. The standard of living is much lower in China and thus Chinese workers are willing to accept wages far below living wages in America. So corporate America will continue to transfer more and more jobs to China and elsewhere. If we do not address this fundamental economic reality, then we will never solve the problem.

Trump blaming China has an insidious aspect to it as well. Focusing all the ire upon China is a grand misdirection that conceals the true culprit, namely, the super-rich corporate executives and shareholders in America.

This is part of Trump’s standard playbook. Trump falsely proclaims to be fighting for blue-collar workers, when in truth, Trump acts entirely in favor of the rich at the top.

Surprisingly, this seems to work. Some of the hard-working Americans who are being crushed by Trumps idiotic trade war and who should be denouncing Trump, nonetheless praise him for standing up to China, believing that Trump is fighting for blue-collar jobs. It is painful to witness such good people falling victim to Trump’s despicable con job.

In order to actually save the middle class, we need to focus on the true cause of the problem. We must direct our great powers of reform where they belong upon the wealthy executives and shareholders of corporate America who caused this problem in the first place.

The nature of the problem is that corporate America has no incentive to protect American workers. In fact, corporate America has every incentive to harm American workers by shifting their jobs overseas.

So the financial incentives must be reconfigured. If corporate America is going to ship American jobs overseas, it must not be permitted to pocket all the profits themselves and leave their displaced workers with nothing. Instead, corporations that send jobs offshore must be required to sufficiently compensate their displaced American workers. Executives and shareholders must not be permitted to enrich themselves unless and until their workers are financially secure.

OUR SOCIETY MUST FAVOR PEOPLE OVER PROFITS, not profits over people.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 05/29/19 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

America In Collapse 5

image: the end is near

We’re In The Final Years Of The American Empire

By Rainer Shea
Medium
May 19. 2019

The United States has reached a point where its entire claim to global hegemony is based on a series of largely fragile geopolitical alliances, and on a worldwide military presence that can’t be sustained for much longer. As the political writer Dmitry Orlov said in an interview last month: “I think that the AMERICAN EMPIRE is very much over already, but it hasn’t been put to any sort of serious stress test yet, and so nobody realizes that this is the case.”

The last few years military budget expansions, war campaigns against Iran and Venezuela, and attempts to strong-arm Russia and China are all part of the American empire’s reaction to this fragility on its part. So is the fact that the United States has been directly at war for the last eighteen years. Throughout this time, the American empire has been in a state similar to that of the British empire after it attacked Egypt in 1956, or to that of the Athenian empire during the Peloponnesian War of 431404 B.C. When these empires launched these great military adventures, they both experienced a rapid decline in their ability to hold together the power structures they֒d created, and soon they were no longer dominant. The same has been happening to the U.S. since the start if its disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since that time, endless wars and military expansions have drained the U.S. economy while the Great Recession and increasing income inequality have further impeded the country’s ability to economically function. The U.S. has mostly lost its ability to persuade formerly loyal countries to serve its foreign policy goals; the Trump administration’s push for war with Iran is mainly getting support from Saudi Arabia and Israel, with the international community overwhelmingly rejecting Trumps Iran agenda. Overall, the hand that America plays during its regime change attempts is now decrepit and increasingly ineffectual; the U.S. has ended up isolating itself on the world stage by supporting GuaidoҒs illegal coup attempt in Venezuela, with 75% of the worlds countries backing Maduro. And in a world that’s become multipolar, Russia and China have lately been outmaneuvering the U.S. economically and militarily, such as with their preparations to protect Venezuela from an invasion.

The U.S. still can still do great damage through sanctions-as its doing right now in Syria-and its military remains the largest in the world. But without strong international support or an economy that works properly, the country is only retaining its power through endless violence and military buildup. The U.S. is an international outlaw whose government is widely hated and distrusted both at home and abroad, and mass revolt against it could easily break out in the coming years as lower class discontent reaches a boiling point.

None of this is hyperbole. In 2017, a Pentagon report stated that American power “is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing.” The report even recommended that the government try to maintain its control through propaganda, increased surveillance, and more military expansionism.

But reality will catch up with the empire’s attempts to stop its own unraveling. Americas great undoing will be the collapse of the dollar-an eventuality which the U.S. has been trying to stave off by intervening in Iran and Venezuela for their rejection of America’s currency. If the U.S. were to conquer both of these countries, it wouldnt be able to halt the transition away from American trade dominance that nations around the world are making. With Bush’s unilateral invasion of Iraq, the U.S. lost the respect of many nations around the world, and Trumps TRADE WARS and rejections of international agreements like the Paris agreement have accelerated this rupture between the U.S. and the rest of the world. America’s global dollar reserves are being replaced by other currencies. And as this process continues, its going to combine with the country’s internal financial mismanagement to create a 21st century Great Depression.

By the end of the 2020s, the U.S. may be so economically crippled that it will have to massively withdraw its global military forces. This will represent the death of the American empire, which the author Alfred McCoy has predicted will come around the year 2030. At that point, writes McCoy, the country will be experiencing soaring prices, ever-rising unemployment, and a continuing decline in real wages throughout the 2020s, [as] domestic divisions widen into violent clashes and divisive debates, often over symbolic, insubstantial issues.Ӕ

“The decline of the dollar, as well as potential wars with Iran, Russia, and China, are going to be the stress test” that Orlov anticipates will end America as we know it. This collapse cant be stopped. The question is what will happen after America goes under.

This question will be decided by those who make the choice between whether they’ll continue to support capitalism, or fight for a world that isn’t controlled by fascistic governments and powerful multinational corporations. After the U.S. loses its power, the corporatocracy will use the private armies of mercenary companies like Blackwater to carry out its regime change projects. Already, Blackwater is aiming to cash in on American desires for continued military involvement by becoming part of the wars in Afghanistan and Syria. This privatization of the empire will be an unprecedented corporate takeover, and it will be facilitated by a collection of world powers that have embraced ethno-nationalism and authoritarianism.

The European Union will likely work as one of these authoritarian powers; the EU’s recent efforts to control information and exert police power over the populations of its member countries show that the EU could soon become an instrument for social control within its region. This will be paralleled by a plethora of countries which are already quickly shifting towards despotism and ethnic nationalism, with America having some of the greatest potential for falling into tyranny. As Chris Hedges has written about what America will look like if it continues on its current path:

The central government will be reduced to its most basic functions - internal and external security and collecting taxes. Severe poverty will cripple the lives of most citizens. Any essential service once provided by the state, from utilities to basic policing, will be privatized, expensive and inaccessible to those without resources - The mass media will become nakedly Orwellian, chatting endlessly about a bright future and pretending America remains a great superpower. It will substitute political gossip for news - a corruption already far advanced - while insisting that the country is in an economic recovery or about to enter one.

But the world DOESN’T HAVE TO end up like this. There are people who are fighting back against corporate power, fascism, and imperialism. They may be on the margins, but they have the advantage of being the ones who are fighting on behalf of a population which is outraged at declining living standards and widening inequality. We need to unite all of these freedom fighters around the goal of overthrowing capitalism and building a socialist workerŒs state, or the forces of empire will continue to subjugate us.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 05/23/19 •
Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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