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Monday, January 24, 2022

Austerity American Style Part 21 - Democrats Sell Out

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Bernie Sanders says Democrats are failing: The party has turned its back on the working class

By Steven Greenhouse
The Guardian
January 10, 2022

Senator Bernie Sanders has called on Democrats to make “a major course correction” that focuses on fighting for Americas working class and standing up to “powerful corporate interests” because the Democrats’ legislative agenda is stalled and their party faces tough prospects in this Novembers elections.

The White House is likely to see his comments as a shot across the bow by the left wing of a party increasingly frustrated at how centrist Democrats have managed to scupper or delay huge chunks of Biden’s domestic policy plans.

In an interview with the Guardian, Sanders called on Joe Biden and the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, to push to hold votes on individual bills that would be a boon to working families, citing extending the child tax credit, cutting prescription drug prices and raising the federal hourly minimum wage to $15.

"Such votes would be good policy and good politics,” the Vermont senator insisted, saying they would show the Democrats battling for the working class while highlighting Republican opposition to hugely popular policies.

“It is no great secret that the Republican party is winning more and more support from working people,” Sanders said. “It’s not because the Republican party has anything to say to them. “It’s because in too many ways the Democratic party has turned its back on the working class.”

Sanders, who RAN FOR THE PARTY’S NOMINATION in both 2016 and 2020, losing out in fierce contests to Hillary Clinton and then Biden, is a popular figure on the left of the party. The democratic socialist from Vermont remains influential and has been supportive of Biden during his first year as the party tries to cope with the twin threats of the pandemic and a resurgent and increasingly extremist Republican party.

But his comments appear to reflect a growing discontent and concern with the BIDEN administrations DIRECTION. “I think it’s absolutely important that we do a major course correction,” Sanders continued. “Its important that we have the guts to take on the very powerful corporate interests that have an unbelievably powerful hold on the economy of this country.”

The individual bills that Sanders favors might not attract the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, and a defeat on them could embarrass the Democrats. But Sanders, chairman of the Senate budget committee and one of the nation’s most prominent progressive voices, said, “People can understand that you sometimes don’t have the votes. But they can’t understand why we havent brought up important legislation that 70 or 80% of the American people support.”

Sanders spoke to the Guardian on 6 January, the same day he ISSUED A STATEMENT that the best way to safeguard our democracy is not just to enact legislation that protects voting rights, but to address the concerns of “the vast majority of Americans” for whom “there is a disconnect between the REALITIES of their lives and what goes on in Washington.”

He said millions of Americans were concerned with such “painful realities” as “low wages, dead-end jobs, debt, homelessness, lack of healthcare.” In that statement, he said, many working-class Americans have grown DISSATISFIED with the political system because “nothing changes” for them “or, if it does, its usually for the worse.”

In the interview, Sanders repeatedly said that Democrats need to demonstrate vigorously and visibly that they’re fighting to improve the lives of working-class Americans. “The truth of the matter is people are going to work, and half of them are living paycheck to paycheck,” Sanders said. “People are struggling with healthcare, with prescription drugs. Young families cant afford childcare. OLDER WORKERS RE WORRIED TO DEATH ABOUT RETIREMENT.”

Sanders has long been troubled by America’s increasing wealth and income inequality, but he made clear that he thinks it is time for Democrats to take on the ultra-wealthy and powerful corporations - a move he said vast numbers of Americans WOULD SUPORT. “They want the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes,” he said. “They think its absurd that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk don’t pay a nickel in federal taxes.”

He praised Biden for pushing for improved childcare and extending the child tax credit. But he said it would also be good to “show working people that you are willing to step up and take on the greed of the ruling class in America right now.” He pointed repeatedly to the high prices for prescription drugs as AN EXAMPLE of CORPORATE GREED”.

“There is no issue that people care more about than that we pay the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world,” he said, adding that the pharmaceutical industry has 1,500 lobbyists in Washington who “tried everything to make sure we donҒt lower the cost of pharmaceuticals.”

The senator said: “I think the Democrats are going to have to clear the air and say to the drug companies - and say it loudly - we’re talking about the needs of the working class - and use the expression ‘working class’. The Democrats have to make clear that they’re on the side of the working class and ready to take on the wealthy and powerful. That is not only the right thing to do, but I think it will be the politically right thing to do.

Last Wednesday evening, Sanders did a nationwide LIVE STREAM in which he talked with the leaders of three long strikes: WARRIOR MET COAL IN ALABAMA, SPECIAL METALS IN WEST VIRGINIA and the Rich Product Corporation’s JON DONAIRE DESSERTS SUBSIDIARY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. Noting that hedge funds or billionaires own large stakes in all three companies, he railed against those companies for offering modest raises or demanding that workers pay far more for health coverage even though the owners’ wealth has soared during the pandemic thanks to the booming stock market.

“These entities, where the people on top have done phenomenally well, are squeezing their workers and lowering the standard of living for workers who are striking,” Sanders said. “It’s unacceptable.”

In December, Sanders went to Battle Creek, Michigan, TO SUPPORT 1,400 KELLOG’S WORKERS who were on strike at cereal factories in that city as well as in Memphis, Tennessee; Omaha, Nebraska; and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In the interview, Sanders said, “I think the Democratic party has to address the long-simmering debate, which is, Which side are you on? Are we prepared to stand with working families and take on powerful corporate interests?”

Sanders voiced frustration with the lack of progress on Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, which the Democrats sought to enact through budget reconciliation, a process that requires only a simple majority to pass. That effort was slowed by lengthy negotiations with the centrist senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona - and then blocked when Manchin said he opposed the $2tn package, sparking leftwing fury and deep frustration in the White House.

“We have tried a strategy over the last several months, which has been mostly backdoor negotiations with a handful of senators, Sanders said. “It hasn’t succeeded on Build Back Better or on voting rights. It has demoralized millions of Americans.”

He called for reviving a robust version of Build Back Better and also called for holding votes on individual parts of that legislation that would help working-class Americans. “We have to bring these things to the floor,” Sanders said. “The vast majority of people in the [Democratic] caucus are willing to fight for good policy.”

Sanders added: “If I were Senator Sinema and a vote came up to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs, I’d think twice if I want to get re-elected in Arizona to vote against that. If I were Mr Manchin and I know that tens of thousands of struggling families in West Virginia benefited from the expansion of the child tax credit, I’d think long and hard before I voted against it.”

Sanders also called for legislation on another issue he has championed: having Medicare provide dental, vision and hearing benefits. “All these issues, they are just not Bernie Sanders standing up and saying this would be a great thing,” he said. “They are issues that are enormously popular, and on every one of them, the Republicans are in opposition. But a lot of people don’t know that because the Republicans haven’t been forced to vote on them.”

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Posted by Elvis on 01/24/22 •
Section Dying America
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Sunday, January 23, 2022

America’s New Class War

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America’s New Class War

By Chris Hedges
Scheerpost
January 18, 2022

There is one last hope for the United States. It DOES NOT LIE in the ballot box. It lies in the union organizing and strikes by workers at Amazon, Starbucks, Uber, Lyft, John Deere, Kellogg, the Special Metals plant in Huntington, West Virginia, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the Northwest Carpenters Union, Kroger, teachers in Chicago, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona, fast-food workers, hundreds of nurses in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

Organized workers, often defying their TIMID union leadership, are on the march across the United States. Over four million workers, about 3% of the work force, mostly from accommodation and food services, healthcare and social assistance, transportation, housing, and utilities have walked away from jobs, rejecting poor pay along with punishing and risky working conditions. There is a growing consensus - 68% IN A RECENT GALLUP POLL with that number climbing to 77% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 - that the only way left to alter the balance of power and force concessions from the ruling capitalist class is to mobilize and strike, although only 9% of the U.S. work force is unionized. Forget the woke Democrats. This is a class war.

The question, Karl Popper reminded us, is not how we get good people to rule. Most of those attracted to power, figures such as Joe Biden, are at best mediocre and many, such as Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, or Mike Pompeo, are venal. The question is, rather, how do we organize institutions to prevent incompetent or bad leaders from inflicting too much damage. How do we pit power against power?

The Democratic Party will not push through the kind of radical New Deal reforms that in the 1930s staved off fascism and communism. It’s empty political theater, which stretches back to the Clinton administration, was on full display in Atlanta when Biden called for revoking the filibuster to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, knowing that his chances of success are zero. Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, along with several of the states voting rights groups, boycotted the event in a very public rebuke. They were acutely aware of Biden’s cynical ploy. When the Democrats were in the minority, they clung to the filibuster like a life raft. Then Sen. Barack Obama, along with other Democrats, campaigned for it to remain in place. And a few days ago, the Democratic leadership employed the filibuster to block legislation proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Democrats have been full partners in the dismantling of our democracy, refusing to banish dark and corporate money from the electoral process and governing, as Obama did, through presidential executive actions, agency ғguidance, notices and other REGULATORY DARK MATTER that bypass Congress. The Democrats, who helped launch and perpetuate our endless wars, were also co-architects of trade deals such as NAFTA, expanded surveillance of citizens, militarized police, the largest prison system in the world and a raft of anti-terrorism laws such as Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that abolish nearly all rights, including due process and attorney-client privilege, to allow suspects to be convicted and imprisoned with secret evidence they and their lawyers are not permitted to see. The squandering of staggering resources to the military ԗ $777.7 billion a year passed in the Senate with an 89-10 vote and in the House of Representatives with a 363-70 vote, coupled with the $80 billion spent annually on the intelligence agencies has made the military and the intelligence services, many run by private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton, nearly omnipotent. The Democrats long ago walked out on workers and unions. The Democratic governor of Maine, Janet Mills, for example, KILLED BILL a few days ago that would have allowed farm workers in the state to unionize. On all the major structural issues there is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.

The longer the Democratic Party does not deliver real reforms to ameliorate the economic hardship, exacerbated by soaring inflation rates, the more it feeds the frustration of many of its supporters’ widespread apathy (there are 80 million eligible voters, a third of the electorate, who do not cast ballots) and the hatred of the “liberal’ elites stoked by Donald Trump’s cultish Republican Party. Its signature infrastructure package, Build Back Better, when you read the fine print, is yet another infusion of billions of government money into corporate bank accounts. This should not surprise anyone, given who funds and controls THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

The suffering and instability gripping at least half the country living in financial distress, alienated and disenfranchised, preyed upon by banks, credit card companies, student loan companies, privatized utilities, the gig economy, a for-profit health care system that has resulted in a quarter of all worldwide COVID-19 deaths - although we are less than 5% of the worlds population - and employers who pay slave wages and do not provide benefits is getting worse. Biden has presided over the loss of extended unemployment benefits, rental assistance, forbearance for student loans, emergency checks, the moratorium on evictions and now the ending of the expansion of the child tax credits, all as the pandemic again surges. The handling of the pandemic, from a health and an economic perspective, is one more sign of the empireҒs deep decay. Americans who are uninsured, or who are covered by Medicare, often frontline workers, are not reimbursed for over-the-counter VOVID TESTS they purchase. The Supreme Court five of the justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote - also blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers. And on the horizon, fueled by the economic fallout from the pandemic, are large-scale loan defaults and another financial crisis. The worse things get, the more discredited the Democratic Party and its “liberal” democratic values become, and yje more the CHRISTIAN FASCISTS LURKING IN THE WINGS thrive.

As history has repeatedly proven, organized labor, allied with a political party dedicated to its interests, is the best tool to push back against the rich. Nick French in AN ARTICLE IN JACOBIN draws on the work of the sociologist Walter Korpi who examined the rise of the Swedish welfare state in his book THE DEMOCRATIC CLASS STRUGGE. Korpi detailed how Swedish workers, as French writes, “built a strong and well-organized trade union movement, organized along industrial lines and united by a central trade union federation, the Landsorganisationen (LO), which worked closely with the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Sweden (SAP). The battle to build the welfare state required organizing - 76% of workers were unionized - waves of strikes, militant labor activity and SAP political pressure. “Measured in terms of the number of working days per worker,” Korpi writes, “from the turn of the century up to the early 1930s, Sweden had the highest level of strikes and lockouts among the Western nations. From 1900-13, as French notes, there were 1,286 days of idleness due to strikes and lockouts per thousand workers in Sweden. From 1919-38, there were 1,448. (By comparison, in the United States last year, according to National Bureau of Economic Research data, there were fewer than 3.7 DAYS OF IDLENESS per thousand workers DUE TO WORK STOPPAGES.) There are a few third parties including The Green Party, Socialist Alternative and THE PEOPLE’S PARTY that provide this opportunity. But the Democrats wont save us. They have sold out to the billionaire class. We will only save ourselves.

Unions break down political divides, BRINGING WORKERS OF ALL POLITICAL PURSUASIONS TOGETHER to fight a common oligarchic and corporate foe. Once workers begin to EXERT POWER and extract demands from the ruling class, the struggle educates communities about the real configurations of power and mitigates the feelings of powerlessness that have driven many into the arms of the NEOFASCISTS. For this reason, capitulating to the Democratic Party, which has BETRAYED working men and women, is a terrible mistake.

The rapacious pillage by the elites, many of whom bankroll the Democratic Party, has accelerated since the financial crash of 2008 and the pandemic.

Wall Street banks recorded record profits for 2021. As the Financial Times noted, they milked the underwriting fees from Fed-based borrowing and profited from mergers and acquisitions. They have pumped their profits, fueled by ROUGHLY $5 TRILLION IN FED SPENDING since the beginning of the pandemic, as Matt Taibbi points out, into massive pay bonuses and stock buybacks. “The bulk of this new wealth - most - is being converted into compensation for a handful of executives,” Taibbi writes. Buybacks have also been rampant IN DEFENSE, PHARMACEUTICALS, and OIL AND GAS, all of which also just finished their second straight year of record, skyrocketing profits. We’re now up to about 745 billionaires in the U.S., who’ve collectively seen their net worth grow about $2.1 trillion to $5 trillion since March 2020, with almost all that wealth increase tied to the Fed’s ballooning balance sheet.

Kroger is TYPICAL. The corporation, which operates some 2,800 stores under different brands, including Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Gerbes, Jay C Food Store, King Soopers, Mariano’s, Metro Market, Pay-Less Super Markets, Pick’n Save, QFC, Ralph’s, Ruler and Smith’s Food and Drug, earned $4.1 BILLION in profits in 2020. By the end of the third quarter of 2021, it had $2.28 BILLION in cash, an increase of $399 MILLION in the first quarter of 2020. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen made over $12 MILLION he made in 2018. This is over 900 times the salary of the average Kroger worker. Kroger in the first three quarters of 2021 also spent an estimated $1.3 billion on stock buybacks.

“Kroger is the only employer for 86 percent of their workers, making it their sole source of earned income,” Economic Roundtable in a SURVEY of Kroger workers found. “Working full-time to earn a living wage would require Kroger to pay $22 per hour for an annual living wage total of $45,760. The average annual earnings of Kroger workers, however, equal $29,655. This is $16,105 short of the annual income needed to pay for basic necessities required for the living wage. More than two-thirds of Kroger workers struggle for survival due to low wages and part-time work schedules. Nine out of ten Kroger workers report that their wages have not increased as much as basic expenses such as food and housing have increase. Since 1990, wages for the most experienced Kroger food clerks have declined from 11 to 22 percent (adjusted for inflation) across the three regions surveyed. Across the entire grocery industry, 29 percent of the labor force is below or near the federal poverty threshold.”

More than one-third (36%) of 10,000 employees at Kroger-owned stores in Southern California, Colorado, and Washington said they were worried about eviction. More than three-quarters (78%) are food-insecure. One in 7 Kroger workers faced homelessness in the past year. Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) Kroger employees said they hadn’t paid the previous month’s mortgage on time.

More than 8,000 unionized Krogers King Soopers employees WENT ON STRIKE on Jan. 12 in Colorado, demanding higher wages and better working conditions from the countryҒs largest grocery store chain and fourth-largest private employer.

This is where one of the emerging front lines in the class struggle are located. It is where we should invest our time and energy.

Our capitalist democracy from the start was rigged against us. The Electoral College permits presidential candidates such as George W. Bush and Trump to lose the popular vote and assume office. The awarding of two senators per state, regardless of the states population, means that 62 senators represent one quarter of the population while six represent another quarter. The founding fathers disenfranchised women, Native Americans, African Americans, and men without property. Most citizens were intentionally locked out of the democratic process by the ruling white male aristocrats, most of them slaveholders.

All the openings in our democracy were the result of prolonged popular struggle. Hundreds of workers were murdered, thousands were wounded, tens of thousands were blacklisted in our labor wars, the bloodiest of any industrialized country. Abolitionists, suffragists, unionists, crusading journalists and those in the anti-war and civil rights movements opened our democratic space. These radical movements were repressed and ruthlessly dismantled in the early 20th century in the name of anti-communism. They were again targeted by the corporate elites following the rise of new mass movements in the 1930s. These popular movements, which rose again in the 1960s, moved us, inch by bloody inch, towards equality and social justice. Most of these gains made in the 1960s have been rolled back under the onslaught of neoliberalism, deregulation, and a corrupt campaign finance system, legalized by court rulings such as Citizens United, which allow the rich and corporations to bankroll elections to select political leaders and impose legislation. The modern incarnation of 19th-century robber barons, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, each worth some $200 billion, summon us to our radical roots.

Class struggle defines most of human history. Marx got this right. It is not a new story. The rich, throughout history, have found ways to subjugate and re-subjugate the masses. And the masses, throughout history, have cyclically awoken to throw off their chains.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/23/22 •
Section Dying America • Section Fascism
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Thursday, January 20, 2022

NWO Covid Year 3

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The world’s billionaires added a total of $5 trillion to their fortunes throughout the course of the pandemic - the single greatest period of wealth expansion ever recorded in history. Meanwhile, the incomes of 99% of the world’s population declined in the same period and 21,000 die each day from wealth inequality.

Despite their staggering gains, billionaires are increasingly insisting their wealth is good for society in what New York Times global correspondent Peter Goodman calls the rise of “stakeholder capitalism.” Instead of viewing themselves as beneficiaries of a rigged tax system, billionaires see themselves as heroes equipped to solve the greatest global issues of our time.

But in reality, their growing wealth is eroding social services, the environment and democracy, Goodman writes in his new book, “Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World.”
- “Davos Man”: How Billionaires Devour the World & Fuel Global Inequality, Prolonging the Pandemic

How Did We Go From Stimulus Checks to “Go to Work With COVID?”

By John Knefel
Truthout
January 15, 2022

In the EARLY DAYS of the pandemic, Democrats excoriated then-President Donald Trump for not doing enough to allow people to stay home from work. “Flatten the curve” was the phrase of the month, and even centrist Democrats found their inner democratic socialist, at least temporarily. At the time, they argued in favor of regular monthly payments to Americans and other pro-labor, pro-working-class programs. Now, the Biden administration struggled even to agree internally on whether the government should send high-quality N95 MASKS to everyone. (To their limited credit, they ultimately decided it would be a good idea.)

In May 2020, Sen. Kamala Harris, now vice president, JOINED Senators Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey in calling for monthly $2,000 payments to Americans making under $120,000 a year. Their plan allocated additional money for parents as well. One year later, Senators Ron Wyden and Michael Bennet INTRODUCED ambitious legislation that would have modernized unemployment insurance assistance nationwide. Their proposal would have extended the length that people could have received benefits, expanded the pool of beneficiaries to include gig workers who are often excluded from the programs, and increased weekly payments.

Now, that rhetoric is nowhere to be found, even though most public health indicators are worse now than at any other time during the pandemic. Some lawmakers have REPORTEDLY been discussing another round of stimulus spending for small business owners of restaurants and gyms, which are particularly vulnerable to COVID-induced economic slowdown. These talks appear to have stalled, however, and it’s worth underlining that the economic aid would go to business owners rather than workers.

From the limited reporting around these talks, the Biden administration appears outright hostile to the idea of renewing direct payments to Americans, rather than routing any forthcoming aid through employers. “[T]he economy is booming, there are MILLIONS OF OPEN JOBS, and we do not believe people should be sitting at home if they are vaccinated and boosted, as most adults are,” a senior Biden official TOLD CNN earlier this month. “So we are not going to writechecks to incentivize people to sit at home.” (A recent Change.org PETITION calling for recurring direct payments has gathered more than 3 million signatures.)

Its true that in March 2021, President Joe Biden SIGNED the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion spending bill that included one-time checks of $1,400 to most Americans. At the time, 10 Senate Democrats CALLED on the Biden administration to make direct payments permanent for the duration of the pandemic. The plan also INCLUDED increasing allotments for food stamps and rental assistance for low-income families. Perhaps most critically, the act RECONFIGURED the child tax credit so that parents received monthly checks of $250 or $300 per child, rather than having to wait until getting their tax returns to get access to that money. The child tax credit, arguably one of the most important anti-poverty programs in a generation, EXPIRED in December. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin joined all Senate Republicans in opposing the program’s extension.

Federal unemployment assistance ENDED in September 2021, as conservatives in both parties argued that the increased payments were incentivizing workers not to seek employment. However, studies showed at the time that states that ended the federal assistance had roughly the same job growth as states that stayed in the program, according to a WALL STREET JOURNAL ANALYSIS. Economists who have conducted their own analyses of the government data say the rates of job growth in states that ended and states that maintained the benefits are, from a statistical perspective, “about the same,” the WSJ reported.

Now, as Biden enters his second year in office, Democrats have made it clear that additional financial support from the government will not be forthcoming, despite surging COVID caseloads due to the emergence of the Omicron variant in December. The United States BROKE its pandemic hospitalization record this week, as more than 142,000 COVID patients are expected to be hospitalized nationwide. Experts are WARNING that number could more than double, potentially reaching 300,000 hospitalizations or more by the end of January.

The lack of another round of survival checks or unemployment boosts means that people cant afford to stay home, even though that would help slow the spread and ease the strain on hospitals and urgent care clinics. Though itҒs difficult to get a full picture of how many employers are forcing COVID-positive workers back into the workplace, every day brings new mounting evidence that the practice is becoming increasingly normalized and widespread.

The trend is especially concerning in hospitals, at least some of which appear to be recommending doctors and nurses continue to work regardless of their COVID status. A New Jersey nurse was recently told to come in despite concerns that she had contracted Covid-19,Ӕ ACCORDING TO POLITICO. The same report also found that [h]ealth care workers around the country have reported that they are being called in to work even if they suspect they are infectious.Ӕ New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) GUIDELINES issued in December allow health care providers to return to work after five days, rather than 10, even without testing negative. In Rhode Island, A HOSPITAL asked five COVID-positive, asymptomatic staff members to come in to work. Days later, the facility reported it had suffered an outbreak, though a spokesperson said the rise in cases was unrelated.

In what is almost certainly a microcosm of the private sector as a whole, Red Lobster workers have been forced to work while sick, either because of financial necessity or pressure from management, ACCORDING to the newsletter Popular Information. One employee said he faced “threats” from management after asking to stay home when he developed COVID symptoms. Some TEACHERS in New York City have likewise been forced into the classroom, despite testing positive for COVID. For years, restaurant workers have been EXPECTED to work while sick or injured, a trend that hasnt abated during the pandemic.

For all the talk of THE GREAT RESIGNATION - that is, working people quitting their jobs for better-paying employment - the reality is that the working class in the U.S. is still struggling to make ends meet. Early COVID federal assistance programs actually cut poverty in the U.S. and allowed many families to build up savings for the first time. That so-called EXCESS SAVINGS HAD EVAPORATED for many families by the end of 2021. One particularly bleak RECENT STUDY found that 14 percent of survey respondents who worked at supermarket giant Kroger faced homelessness in the past year.

Now, the entire political establishment has arrived at the consensus that little, if any additional help will be forthcoming. Renters in New York State face an EXPIRING EVICTION MORATORIUM. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke out AGAINST the Chicago Teachers Unions calls for a safer workplace. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky DOWNPLAYED the risk Omicron poses, saying it was “encouraging news” that people who have died from the variant had at least four comorbidities.

The only urgency we’re seeing at the federal level is the urgency of continuing to sacrifice the working class on the altar of economic growth. For too many policy makers, learning to live with the virus means learning to live with preventable death and suffering. Direct, predictable payments could solve that, but at this point, that’s as hard to imagine as the pandemic ever coming to an end under the prevailing political conditions.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/20/22 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO
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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Democracy Hollowed Out Part 41 - Misinformation

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There’s a huge difference between someone who once expressed a view that no longer is in vogue - and ones who, say, post decidedly racist messages on online forums. Unfortunately, the totalitarian cancel culture allows no distinctions. It’s a game of gotcha, played by people who want to DESTROY their political opponents - and drive them into the outer darkness.

The RESULT is self-censorship, a narrowing of the public discussion and, as counterintuitive as it seems, the proliferation of crazy ideas on the Internet. The first two points are obvious. How many of us think twice before posting a legitimate message - not because the post is offensive per se, but because of the possible repercussions if some numbskull interprets it the wrong way?
- Cancel Culture

In the end, this bullying will be used by social media platforms, which are integrated into the state security and surveillance organs, not to promote, as its supporters argue, civility, but ruthlessly silence dissidents, intellectuals, artists and independent journalism.  Once you control what people say you control what they think.

This cancel culture is embraced by corporate media platforms where, as Glenn Greenwald writes, teams of journalists at three of the most influential corporate media outlets - CNNs media reporters (Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy), NBC’s ‘disinformation space unit (Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny), and the tech reporters of The New York Times (Mike Isaac, Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel) - devote the bulk of their ‘journalism’ to searching for online spaces where they believe speech and conduct rules are being violated.

Corporations know these moral purity tests are, for us, self-defeating. They know that by making the cancel culture legitimate and for this reason I opposed locking Donald Trump out of his Twitter and other social media accounts - they can employ it to silence those who attack and expose the structures of corporate power and imperial crimes.

The ruling elites and the courtiers who trumpet their moral superiority by damning and silencing those who do not linguistically conform to politically correct speech are the new Jacobins. They wallow in a sanctimonious arrogance, one made possible by their privilege, which masks their subservience to corporate power and their amorality. They do not battle social and economic injustice. They silence, with the enthusiastic assistance of the digital platforms in Silicon Valley, those who are crushed and deformed by systems of oppression and those who lack their finely developed politesse and deference to linguistic fashion. They are the useful idiots of corporate power and the emerging police state. Cancel culture is not the road to reform. It is the road to tyranny.
- Chris Hedges: Cancel Culture

Don’t Underestimate How Badly The Powerful Need Control Of Online Speech

By Caitlin Johnstone
Substack
January 17, 2022

Seems like almost every day now the mass media are blaring about the need for speech on the internet to be controlled or restricted in some way. Today they’re running stories about JOE ROGAN AND COVID MISINFORMATION; tomorrow it will be something else.

The reasons for the need to control online speech change from day to day, but the demand for that control remains a constant. Some days its a need to protect the citizenry from online disinformation campaigns by foreign governments. Sometimes it’s the need to guarantee election security. Sometimes its the need to eliminate domestic extremism and conspiracy theories. Sometimes it’s Covid misinformation. The problems change, but the solution is always the same: increased regulation of speech by monopolistic online platforms in steadily increasing COORDINATION WITH THE US GOVERNMENT.

It’s actually pretty comical at this point, once you notice it. It’s like if you had an expensive Prada bag that your friend really coveted and she was always making up excuses to try and take it home with her. Gosh I’m carrying all these small objects and I have nothing to carry them in! “You’re going on vacation? I’ll look after your Prada bag for you! Oh no you slipped and now you’re clinging to a cliff’s edge! Quick! Throw me your Prada bag!” Once you know what they’re actually after, their attempts to obtain it look clownish and silly.

TWITTER

Whenever I talk about how the immense power structure which the MASS MEDIA SERVES AND PROTECTS has a desperate need to control online speech, I’ll always get a few people objecting that the powerful don’t care about what ideas and information the ordinary riff-raff share with each other on internet forums. They just do what they want regardless of public opinion, like Greek gods on Mount Olympus.

And really nothing could be further from the truth. Controlling the thoughts we think about our nation and our world are of paramount importance to our rulers, because its only by controlling what we think that they can control how we vote, how we act, and whether or not we get fed up with being exploited and oppressed by a loose alliance of unelected plutocrats and government operatives. There is nothing, literally nothing, that these people would not do to maintain this control. Their very survival depends on it.

Michael Parenti summed this up perfectly in his 2015 book PROFIT PATHOLOGY AND OTHER INDECENCIES with this passage that was recently shared by Louis Allday:

But they don’t care about what we think. They turn a deaf ear to us, some people complain. That is not true. They care very much about what you think. In fact, that is the only thing about you that holds their attention and concern. They don’t care if you go hungry, unemployed, sick, or homeless. But they do care when you are beginning to entertain resistant democratic thoughts. They get nervous when you discard your liberal complaints and adopt a radical analysis. They do care that you are catching on as to what the motives and functions of the national security state and the US global empire are all about at home and in so many corners of the world. They get furiously concerned when you and millions like you are rejecting the pap that is served up by corporate media and establishment leaders.

By controlling our perceptions, they control our society; they control public opinion and public discourse. And they limit the range and impact of our political consciousness. The plutocrats know that their power comes from their ability to control our empowering responses. They know they can live at the apex of the social pyramid only as long as they can keep us in line at the pyramids base. Who pays for all their wars? We do. Who fights these wars? We do or our low-income loved ones do. If we refuse to be led around on a super-patriotic, fear-ridden leash and if we come to our own decisions and act upon them more and more as our ranks grow, then the ruling profiteers’ power shrinks and can even unwind and crash as has happened with dynasties and monarchies of previous epochs.

We need to strive in every way possible for the revolutionary unraveling, a revolution of organized consciousness striking at the empire’s heart with full force when democracy is in the streets and mobilized for the kind of irresistible upsurge that seems to come from nowhere yet is sometimes able to carry everything before it.

There is nothing sacred about the existing system. All economic and political institutions are contrivances that should serve the interests of the people. When they fail to do so, they should be replaced by something more responsive, more just, and more democratic.

Preventing their replacement with a system that is more responsive, just and democratic is precisely why our rulers are so keen on controlling the way we think, act and vote. They exert this control with their total domination of the mass media and mainstream education systems, with SILICON VALLEY ALGORITHM MANIPULATION, and with the rapidly increasing normalization of internet censorship.

The dawn of THE INTERNET SPARKED HOPE for those who knew that the ruling power structures of our day retain supremacy by controlling and manipulating peoples access to and understanding of information; the possibility of billions of human minds freely spreading awareness of what’s going on in our world and sharing revolutionary ideas to address our problems spelled beautiful things for our future to anyone with a lucid understanding of the obstacles we face.

Unfortunately, our rulers understood the significance of that moment too. They’ve been working tirelessly to ensure that the internet serves as a NET POSITIVE FOR THEMSELVES and a net negative for the rest of us, manipulating the large-scale movements of information so that dissident voices are increasingly marginalized and inconsequential while giving themselves the ability to funnel PROPAGANDA into public minds far more rapidly and efficiently than ever before. If they succeed in their objectives, ordinary people will wind up no better at sharing unauthorized ideas and information than they were before the internet, while our rulers will be far more effective in controlling the way we think at mass scale.

That they will succeed is by no means guaranteed. We are living in an entirely unprecedented moment in human history with many large-scale systems on the precipice of failure while technological advancement creates many other unpredictable factors; gaps could open up at any time to let light shine through in the massive movements that humanity is poised for. There is no way to accurately predict the future in a situation the likes of which weve never seen before, where patterns are crumbling and narrative is hitting white noise saturation point.

Anything can happen. Win or lose, this is a hell of a time to be alive.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/18/22 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO • Section Privacy And Rights
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Monday, January 17, 2022

Austerity American Style Part 20 - Covid

image: austerity and the obama days

In 2021, after three decades of trade and financial globalization, global inequalities remain extremely pronounced: they are about as great today as they were at the peak of Western imperialism in the early 20th century. In addition, the Covid pandemic has exacerbated even more global inequalities. Our data shows that the top 1% took 38% of all additional wealth accumulated since the mid-1990s, with an acceleration since 2020. More generally speaking, wealth inequality remains at extreme levels in all regions

“The COVID crisis has exacerbated inequalities between the very wealthy and the rest of the population. Yet, in rich countries, government intervention prevented a massive rise in poverty, this was not the case in poor countries. This shows the importance of social states in the fight against poverty., explains Lucas Chancel, lead author of the report.
- World Inequality Report 2022

The world’s billionaires added a total of $5 trillion to their fortunes throughout the course of the pandemic the single greatest period of wealth expansion ever recorded in history. Meanwhile, the incomes of 99% of the world’s population declined in the same period and 21,000 die each day from wealth inequality.

Despite their staggering gains, billionaires are increasingly insisting their wealth is good for society in what New York Times global correspondent Peter Goodman calls the rise of “stakeholder capitalism.” Instead of viewing themselves as beneficiaries of a rigged tax system, billionaires see themselves as heroes equipped to solve the greatest global issues of our time.

But in reality, their growing wealth is eroding social services, the environment and democracy, Goodman writes in his new book, “Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World.”
- “Davos Man”: How Billionaires Devour the World & Fuel Global Inequality, Prolonging the Pandemic

---

Covid Fueled by Neoliberal Austerity

By Margaret Kimberley, BAR Executive Editor and Senior Columnist
Black Agenda Report
January 5, 2022

The neo-liberal AUSTERITY model of governance ensures that Covid-19 will continue spreading and producing new variants. Only people focused public health remedies will end the pandemic.

On December 31, 2019 Chinese media told the world about a newly discovered disease cluster in the city of Wuhan. What was thought to be a viral pneumonia came to be known as SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19. Two weeks later Chinese scientists sequenced its genome and gave the world the ability to test and trace the disease. Covid continued to spread and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

China didn’t wait for a WHO declaration in order to take action. The government immediately adopted a zero covid strategy. They dispatched health care workers to Wuhan and built new hospitals to care for the sick. The sick were isolated and the healthy were supported in a variety of ways. They developed their own vaccine, which 90% of the population have taken. China tests millions of its people on a regular basis. The result of this effort is fewer than 5,000 deaths in a nation of 1.3 billion people. The United States, with a population of 330 million, has more than 800,000 deaths and a record-breaking number of new cases in December 2021. Of course, one society is committed to serving human needs while the other wants to do as little as possible in that regard. Serving the donor class is the political priority in the U.S. Everything else is secondary.

The United States doesn’t have a true health care system. Instead, for-profit companies run hospitals and private health insurers. Workers have health insurance only if their employers provide it, and the race to the bottom has reduced opportunities for these living wage jobs. This shaky system didn’t serve the public before the pandemic struck. The safety net is fragile and people who fell ill or who were unemployed during this crisis were on their own with little help from the federal government.

Throughout 2020 Donald Trump was the face of the covid crisis and his performance was in large part responsible for his defeat. Despite campaigning as the man who would end the pandemic, Joe Biden’s response has been even worse than Trump’s. By the time Biden came to office the nature of the problem was well known, vaccines had been developed, and a test was widely available. What hadn’t changed is the hold of the oligarchy on the political system and the resulting commitment to austerity and keeping workers on the job. The Biden administration now has the dubious distinction of presiding over the same number of deaths which occurred while Trump was in office.

Biden’s spokesperson Jen Psaki unintentionally explained why the situation is no better. In a now infamous response to a question about increasing the availability of rapid tests for at home use, she said. “Should we just send one to every American? Then what happens if every American has one test? How much does that cost and what happens after that?” The operative words were about cost.

The omicron variant had begun its spread around the world and all Biden could come up with was a plan to make tests eligible for insurance reimbursement. Health insurers are loath to pay for anything because profit maximization is their goal. There is little reason to believe that these same corporations would act against their interests and suddenly become altruistic in a time of need.

But big money is still in control and they have direct access to the president who promised them that NOTHING WOULD FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE. When the CEO of Delta Airlines asked to reduce the number of days that employees could end infection isolation from ten days down to five, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did just that. Most physicians and scientists vehemently opposed the decision, but big business said jump and the white house asked, “How high?” Delta’s lobbying success was immediately followed by a cut in paid sick leave for its employees with covid.

In 2020 the campaign against Trump and his mishandling was the centerpiece of Biden’s campaign. He said he would, “Trust the science,” but when scientists made recommendations that might have reduced the spread of covid he ignored them. It is Biden’s CDC that declared vaccinated people didn’t have to wear masks and thus precipitated the spread of the delta variant.

It was recently revealed that in October 2021 a group of researchers proposed what they called A Testing Surge to Prevent a Holiday COVID Surge . Their plan was simple. The federal government should produce and distribute 732 million free test kits per month. But the idea was rejected because of a “lack of capacity.” Of course the real problem was just what spokeswoman Psaki said out loud. There was never an intention of using federal resources to benefit the people.

Fortunately the omicron variant appears to be less dangerous. Yet milder symptoms do little good in a country which doesnԒt help its people. Test kits sold commercially are often out of stock, testing facilities are crowded and people line up for hours to be tested only to face a long wait for results. There are so many new infections that even a mildӔ variant has created chaos with illnesses among health care workers and flight crews.

The reliance on a vaccine only strategy has led to this situation. When it became clear that breakthroughӔ infections could occur after vaccination, the CDC announced that it would limit tracking of breakthroughs to those cases which required hospitalization. The decision was an admission that a course correction was needed. Instead the Biden team doubled down on failure and began forcing federal agencies and contractors, which means most private companies, to vaccinate employees whether they wanted it or not.

The only certainty is that a virus continues to mutate when it spreads. The spread can be stopped if sick people are paid to stay at home, testing is easily accessible, high quality masks are free and in ample supply, and ventilation is improved indoors. Reliance on vaccination alone has been a failure all over the world. For now the vaccinated are still far less likely to need hospitalization or to die. But that protection can end with a future variant.

The WHO has warned that continued spread will lead to a variant that responds to none of the vaccines or treatments. Already the “mild” omicron can be treated with only one of three approved monoclonal antibody formulas. Of course the sole effective treatment is now in very short supply . The next mutation may create a variant that cant be treated at all.

Biden wants to keep people at work and make big business happy, just as Trump did. The focus on the corporate bottom line makes life precarious during a pandemic. Of course precarity is the goal. Keeping the public vulnerable and afraid is a feature of the system.

The logic of reliance on vaccination was simple. Big pharma got millions of dollars in public funds, and the federal government didn’t have to do anything else. Of course there should have been ongoing support instead of small stimulus payments and a temporary child tax credit. This moment calls for huge expenditures and not nickel and diming about test kits. The ongoing battle over Build Back Better proves that the oligarchy are in no mood for more spending when that is just what the situation calls for.

Americans are alternately afraid or fatalistic, succumbing to the belief that everyone will get covid. Resignation is to be expected when the people responsible for social well being fail so miserably. While China and Cuba freely share vaccines around the world the United States has nothing to offer except more misery. Biden told a group of governors that the covid crisis was a state responsibility. Having made a crisis worse, he seeks to wash his hands of the situation of his own making.

There is no covid miracle coming and none is necessary. Just consistent testing, allowing the sick to stay home, improving indoor air quality, providing access to the best masks, and using vaccines as one piece of the puzzle. Of course all of these things should be free and under public control. On the other hand, caring for the needs of the people would indeed be miraculous in the country of which it was once said, “The business of America is business.”

Margaret Kimberley is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents . Her work can also be found at PATREON and on Twitter [at]freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail HERE.

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Posted by Elvis on 01/17/22 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO • Section Dying America • Section Austerity American Style
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