Article 43

 

Austerity American Style

Monday, November 21, 2022

America In Collapse 7 - More Suffering

image: class warfare

Over the past several decades a “global elite” has emerged whose connections to each other have become more significant than their ties to their home nations and governments
- Rise of the Superclass, 2008
 
For the most part, American bankers whose rash pursuit of profit brought on the 2008 global financial collapse didn’t get indicted. They got bonuses.
- Vietnam’s Solution to Corrupt Bankers, 2014
 
“The TRANSITION FROM DEMOCRACY to oligarchy usually starts with the very wealthy acquiring political power by buying influence with elected officials,” Hartmann wrote in his book, explaining that their influence grows until they “completely CONTROL THE MECHANISMS OF INFORMATION” and “their agenda overwhelms the governing agenda.”
 
“In the final stages, Hartmann said, “the oligarchs RISE UP through seemingly democratic processes and take complete or near complete control of government, smashing the programs that give economic and democratic power to the people and cruelly punishing dissent.
- Return of the Oligarchs
 
In periods of acute crisis for the bourgeoisie, Fascism resorts to anti-capitalist phraseology, but after it has established itself at the helm of State, it casts aside its anti-capitalist rattle and discloses itself as a terrorist dictatorship of big capital.
- Growth of Socio-Fascism in Britain
 
The only thing that can possibly transform the U.S. government to one that cares for the voters who elect it, rather than for the plutocracy that controls it, is a UNIFIED OPPOSITION BY ALL OF THE PEOPLE, irrespective of their social class or political beliefs. The energy driving such a mass movement must flow from the personal actions taken by each of its individual participants.
- Challenging America’s Plutocracy

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AFTER newly-elected Democrat President Biden screwed the working class by NOT SENDING OUT promised covid stimulus checks a year and a half ago, things here keep getting so bad for the 99%, THAT:

Shoplifting is up markedly since the pandemic began in the spring what’s distinctive about this trend, experts say, is whats being taken - more staples like bread, pasta and baby formula… Those who are stealing to survive are not out there talking to the Washington Post about it They’re ashamed to be in the position in which they have to steal.

For the 18 years this website’s been on the internet, inequality keeps getting worse.

Don’t expect any help from politicians masquerading as LAW MAKERS who manage to stay in power, and blame us for everything, while capitalism’s inequality and blood sucking rich run the country. Will “we the people” ever FIGHT BACK?

To show us how out of touch, and insulting our elected officials are with the suffering people they claim to represent, Business Insider quotes SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL:

“You’ve got a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines because, frankly, they’re flush for the moment,” the Kentucky Republican said. “What we’ve got to hope is once they run out of money, they’ll start concluding it’s better to work than not to work.”

This year AT AT&T:

CEO John Stankey said that customers are “starting to put off paying their phone bills”

Even the Federal Reserve NOTED IN JUNE people can’t afford a gallon of milk anymore:

“They are also doing things such as purchasing half a gallon of milk instead of a gallon.” Contacts broadly expected to continue to push up their prices over the next 12 months to keep up with rising costs.

Our BRAINWASHED KIDS are being led to think unionizing a couple of Starbucks’ and Amazon warehouses are going to miraculously end a decades old era of corporate America’s outsourcing, offshoring, and replacing of American workers with foreigners andautomation.  Unless they, boomers, young, old, black, white, latinx, etc, rally together in a general strike of all workers everywhere, and grind this country’s production to a halt - they’re going to be in for a rude awakening.

Starbucks and the powerful corporations will just CLOSE THE UNIONIZED STORES, and laugh at us, while government protects them.

Starbucks will tell you it’s all about safety. But a lot of workers are second-guessing that, as are customers who frequent the shops. They say it seems to be more about squashing union activity. About one-third of the stores that are about to close are involved in union efforts.  This is what piqued the curiosity of a lot of workers and customers. These are busy spots, including one on 23rd and Jackson in Seattle, and the beloved Gaybucks, as the kids call it, on Capitol Hill. People are very curious about whether safety is the real reason.

Over at our southern border, battling Covid isn’t the big thing.

THIS IS:

“The record number of illegal migrants coming to the US southern border is OUT OF CONTROL and President Joe Biden appears to be doing nothing to help local law enforcement deal with the crisis,” Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber said.

And President Biden is sending billions to a war that may make this all moot.

How’s the GREAT RESIGNATION doing?

Supposedly - every talking head on mainstream news and politician on TV is talking about a “worker shortage” leang to everything from CUTTING UNEMPOLYMENT in the middle of Covid, to the raising of interest rates on our credit cards, to INFLATION and price gouging from corporate America.

The millenials are so broke that they’re BLAMING BOOMERS for their lousy lives:

“As millennials are now the poorest generation ever, we at Hunter Design Company will no longer be offering a senior discount,” a text overlay on the video reads. Because let’s face it, if you get to retire, you don’t really need it. So, Hunter Design Company is proud to offer, for the first time ever, the millennial discount. A discount for millennials by millennials because you’re entitled to it.

Over at GALLUP:

Lower-income Americans are about as likely now as last fall to say they are experiencing either severe or moderate hardship - 74%, compared with 70% in November.

Footware News REPORTS:

As consumers pivot to mainly non-discretionary categories, big-box and department store retailers have seen excesses in discretionary categories like apparel.

In the last week, retailers like Target, Walmart and Kohls have mentioned cancelling or cutting down on orders to stay ahead of their higher-than-usual inventories. Meanwhile, brands that partner with wholesale retailers have noted the impact of these cancellations.

Kohl’s has also pulled back on order receipts and increased promotions to get through an inventory glut.

Even FACEBOOK is laying off:

Meta Platforms is planning to cut expenses by at least 10% in the coming months, in part through staff reductions

MSNBC last month talked to a bunch of regular people:

EVERYBODY IN CONGRESS, almost everybody in congress is certainly wealthy, independently wealthy, more money than they would be making from their congressional salaries, even if they came from poverty,” said Chris. “And I don’t think they understand how expensive it is to live right now. I don’t think they understand how expensive rent is, the number of houses signed for less than $300,000 has dwindled to almost nothing in the last five years, just the fact that nobody can access, not even building wealth, but just getting stability.”

When asked by Luntz “to describe” in one word “conditions in America right now,” respondents did not hold back.

“Poor,” said Tiffany of New York.

“Disparity,” said Jen of Washington, D.C.

“Struggling,” said Sal of Florida.

“Confusing,” said Kirsten of Illinois.

“Uncertain,” said Paul of New York.

“Depressing,” said Brian of Michigan.

“Miserable,” said John of South Carolina.

“Divided,” said Susan of California.

“Shaky,” said Jana of Nevada.

“Unstable,” said Rich of Idaho.

“Polarized,” said Chris of Pennsylvania.

“Dire,” said Valerie of California.

“Dismal,” said Debra of Wyoming.

“Division,” said Bob of Texas.

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Walmart says shoppers are swapping lunch meat for beans in the latest sign that inflation is roiling low income households

By Aine Cain
Business Insider
August 16, 2022

Walmart shoppers are reaching for beans over lunch meats, the company said Tuesday, in the latest sign that INFLATION is hitting low-income consumers the hardest.

While Walmart’s average customer is an EDUCATED SUBURBAN WOMAN, the chain has also historically catered to LOWER INCOME SHOPPERS. When inflation first began to spike, the company even saw a BOOST in sales, owing to its penchant for steep discounts. But as prices continued to skyrocket, Walmart began to deal with its own CUSTOMERS erasing items from their shopping lists or swapping certain purchases for cheaper substitutes.

“Instead of buying maybe deli meats or beef, they’re trading down to things like canned tuna, chicken and, even, beans,” Walmart CFO John Rainey told investors. “We’re seeing the same thing in the quantity, where they’re trading down for smaller pack sizes that are more affordable. So instead of buying 12 items to buy six items in a pack.”

Rainey said the big box giant’s shoppers are also generally buying fewer items and foregoing general merchandise for cheap food options like Walmart’s private label offerings.

In June, the inflation rate hit 9.1%, a 40-YEAR-HIGH. Since then, prices have begun to cool down somewhat. In July, PRICES only rose 8.5% year over year, marking an end of the trend of month-over-month spikes. Still, ongoing inflation has made many Americans feel substantially poorer whenever they hit the grocery store or the gas pump.

Fuel proved to be an increasingly-expensive necessity over the summer. Staples like eggs, beef, and pork have also seen surging costs. In June, the price of beef jumped 4.5%% month-to-month, while eggs increased 3% and pork leaped 3.1%.

But these high prices aren’t borne equally by everyone. Rising prices have especially harmed low-income to middle-class individuals, as opposed to their wealthy counterparts. Thousands of citizens fell below the poverty line in 2020, and experts have expressed concern that ongoing inflation could make matters worse by sparking a recession.

SOURCE

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Parents are buying fewer baby clothes, a sign of deep financial distress

By Parija Kavilanz
CNN Business
November 21, 2022

Customers are pulling back on spending at Gap and Old Navy - particularly in one specific category that shows just how much families are feeling inflations pinch.

In tough times, parents typically skimp on themselves and focus on meeting the needs of their growing children. But Gap and Old Navy said Thursday theyҒre now seeing less spending on babies and kidsҒ items.

“Spending on kids is one of the last areas most parents cut back on, so softness at Gap and Old Navy suggests that some households are under significant financial strain, said Neil Saunders, retail industry analyst and managing director of Globaldata.

Because these brands cater to mid-to-low income shoppers, this decline in spending is a very real indicator of how deeply budget-conscious households are feeling the pain of higher prices. They’ve been forced to go to their last resort.

Overall inflation is up 7.7% compared to 2021, even as the latest reading on prices that households pay for necessities and discretionary purchases showed a SLIGHT SHUTDOWN.

The cutback in kids’ clothing spend at Gap Inc. (GPS) - which operates its namesake Gap stores, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta divisions under its corporate umbrella - was part of the companys third-quarter earnings release Thursday.

While overall company sales were up 2% from last year to $4 billion for the quarter ended October 29, the retailer noted that sales growth at both Gap and Old Navy were offset by weaker sales in kids and baby categories.

“Old Navy customers still have a propensity to buy. That being said, it continues to experience softness in spending and shopping frequency from its lowest-income consumers,” Bobby L. Martin, Gap Inc.Ғs interim CEO, told analysts during the earnings call Thursday.

It’s not just Gap. According to market research firm NPD, purchases of infant and toddler clothing are down this year: From January through October, sales of clothing for infants and toddlers declined by 3% in revenue and 6% in units sold versus the same period last year.

“This is a huge indicator of financial strain,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry analyst with NPD. “One has to look at the total picture. Are families just trading down to less expensive products and stores or is it a pullback in general?”

“The other thing to watch is how long the pullback lasts,” he said. “Parents can go just so long in clothes that are getting a bit small, but not for long. So a quarter slide is one thing - multiple quarters [of decline] send a strong message.”

Turning to resale

As parents purchase fewer new items, theyre turning to resale platforms instead to buy kids clothing and other necessities for less.

Resale platform Mercari said a survey of more than 2,000 parents in March by Globaldata found that 62% said they bought secondhand items for children sometime in the past year. More than a quarter said inflation motivated those purchases, and half of parents surveyed sold a secondhand item in the kids’ and baby items category.

Mercari said parents of kids 2 and under are the most active secondhand shoppers, according to its survey.

“This shift [to reuse] is gaining momentum in 2022 as consumer prices rise amid inflation and ongoing uncertainty,” Mercari US CEO John Lagerling, said in Mercari’s 2022 REUSE REPORT: FAMILY EDITITION.

“Americans spent a total of $143 billion on kids and baby items alone in 2021. By 2030, this figure is expected to grow to $182 billion. In our opinion, that’s simply too much,” he said.

“Secondhand shopping is becoming a lifeline for budget-strapped households,” said Burt Flickinger, retail expert and managing director of retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group.

“Families are relying heavily on CREDIT CARDS to pay their rent, food and gas bills and everything else. “Household wealth is down, while cost of food has surged,” said Flickinger. “If they didn’t plan for it earlier, parents are shopping at resale and taking hand-me-downs from family and friends.”

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Posted by Elvis on 11/21/22 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO • Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression • Section Austerity American Style
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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Austerity American Style Part 22 - Forced Unemployment

image class warfare

In the boardrooms of corporate America, profits aren’t everything - they are the only thing. A JPMorgan research report concludes that the current corporate profit recovery is more dependent on falling unit-labor costs than during any previous expansion.
- Why The Rich Love Unemployment

After saying that “the halls of Congress are no joke,” Ocasio-Cortez said that “standing up to corporate power, and established interests is no joke. It’s not just about standing up and saying these things, but behind closed doors, your arm is twisted, the vise pressure of political pressure gets put on you, every trick in the book, psychological, and otherwise is to get us to abandon the working class.”
- AOC - Bernie Sanders WonԒt Abandon the Working Class

The Feds Austerity Program to Reduce Wages

By Michael Hudson
June 19, 2022

To Wall Street and its backers, the solution to any price inflation is to reduce wages and public social spending. The orthodox way to do this is to push the economy into recession in order to reduce hiring. Rising unemployment will oblige labor to compete for jobs that pay less and less as the economy slows.

This class-war doctrine is the prime directive of neoliberal economics. It is the tunnel vision of corporate managers and the One Percent. The Federal Reserve and IMF are its most prestigious lobbyists. Along with Janet Yellen at the Treasury, public discussion of today’s inflation is framed in a way that avoids blaming the 8.2 percent rise in consumer prices on the Biden Administration’s New Cold War sanctions on Russian oil, gas and agriculture, or on oil companies and other sectors using these sanctions as an excuse to charge monopoly prices as if America has not continued to buy Russian diesel oil, as if fracking has picked up and corn is not being turned into biofuel. There has been no disruption in supply. We are simply dealing with monopoly rent by the oil companies using the anti-Russian sanctions as an excuse that an oil shortage will soon develop for the United States and indeed for the entire world economy.

Covid’s shutdown of the U.S. and foreign economies and foreign trade also is not acknowledged as disrupting supply lines and raising shipping costs and hence import prices. The entire blame for inflation is placed on wage earners, and the response is to make them the victims of the coming austerity, as if their wages are responsible for bidding up oil prices, food prices and other prices resulting from the crisis. The reality is that they are too debt-strapped to be spendthrifts.

The Feds junk economics of what bank credit is spent on

The pretense behind the Fed’s recent increase in its discount rate by 0.75 percent on June 15 (to a paltry range of 1.50% to 1.75%) is that raising interest rates will cure inflation by deterring borrowing to spend on the basic needs that make up the Consumer Price Index and its related GDP deflator. But banks do not finance much consumption, except for credit card debt, which is now less than student loans and automobile loans.

Banks lend almost entirely to buy real estate, stocks and bonds, not goods and services. Some 80 percent of bank loans are real estate mortgages, and most of the remainder loans are collateralized by stocks and bonds. So raising interest rates will not lead wage-earners to borrow less to buy consumer goods. The main price effect of less bank credit and higher interest rates is on asset prices deterring borrowing to buy homes, as well as for arbitragers to buy stocks and bonds.

Rolling back middle-class home ownership

The most immediate effect of the Federal Reserve’s credit tightening will be to reduce America’s home-ownership rate. This rate has been falling since 2008, from nearly 68 percent to just 61 percent today. The decline got underway with President Obama’s eviction of nearly ten million victims of junk mortgages, mainly black and Hispanic debtors. That was the Democratic Party’s alternative to writing down fraudulent mortgage loans to realistic market prices, and reducing their carrying charges to bring them in line with market rental values. The indebted victims of this massive bank fraud were made to suffer, so that Obama’s Wall Street sponsors could keep their predatory gains and indeed, receive massive bailouts. The costs of their fraud fell on bank customers, not on the banks and their stockholders and bondholders.

The effect of discouraging new home buyers by raising interest rates lowers home ownership - the badge of being middle-class. Despite this, the United States is turning into a landlord economy. The Feds policy of raising interest rates will greatly increase the interest charges that prospective new home buyers will have to pay, pricing the carrying charge out of reach for many families.

As the United States has become more debt-ridden, more than 50 percent of the value of U.S. real estate already is held by mortgage bankers. Homeowners’ equity what they own net of their mortgage debt - has fallen even faster than home ownership rates have declined.

Real estate is being transferred from “poor” hands to those of wealthy landlord corporations. Private capital companies - the funds of the One Percent - are going to pick up the pieces to turn homes into rental properties. Higher interest rates will not affect their cost of buying this housing, because they buy for all cash to make profits (actually, real estate rents) as landlords. In another decade the nation’s home ownership rate may fall toward 50 percent, turning the United States into a landlord economy instead of the promised middle-class home ownership economy.

The coming economic austerity (indeed, debt-burdened depression)

While home ownership rates plunged for the population at large, the Fed’s “Quantitative Easing” increased its subsidy of Wall Street’s financial securities from $1 trillion to $8.2 trillion of which the largest gain has been in packaged home mortgages. This has kept housing prices from falling and becoming more affordable for home buyers. But the Fed’s support of asset prices saved many insolvent banks - the very largest ones - from going under. Sheila Bair of the FDIC singled out Citigroup, along with Countrywide, Bank of America and the other usual suspects. The working population is not considered to be too big to fail. Its political weight is small by comparison to that of Wall Street banks.

Lowering the discount rate to only about 0.1 percent enabled the banking system to make a bonanza of gains by making mortgage loans at around 3.50 percent. So despite the stock markets plunge of over 20 percent from nearly 36000 to under 30,000 on June 17, America’s wealthiest One Percent, and indeed the top 10 Percent, have vastly increased their wealth. But most Americans have not benefitted from this run up in asset prices, because most stocks and bonds are owned by only the wealthiest layer of the population. For most American families, corporations and government at all levels, the financial boom since 2008 has entailed growing debt. Many families face insolvency as Federal Reserve policy aims to create unemployment. Now that the Covid moratorium on the evictions of renters behind in their payments is expiring, the ranks of the homeless are rising.

The Biden Administration is trying to blame today’s inflation and related distortions on Putin, even using the term “Putin inflation.” The mainstream media follow suit in not explaining to their audience that blocking Russian energy and food exports will cause a food and energy crisis for many countries this summer and autumn. And indeed, beyond: Biden’s military and State Department officers warn that the fight against RUSSIA is just the first step in their war against China’s non-neoliberal economy, and may last twenty years.

That is a long depression. But as Madeline Albright would say, they think that the price is “worth it.” Biden’s cabinet depicts this New Cold War as a fight of the “democratic” United States privatizing economic planning in the hands of the largest banks “too big to fail” and other members of the neo-rentier class, in opposition to autocratic China and even Russia treating banking and money creation as a public utility to finance tangible economic growth, not financialization.

There is no evidence that America’s neoliberal New Cold War can restore the nations former industrial and related economic power.

The economy cannot recover as long as it leaves todayҒs debt overhead in place. Debt service, housing costs, privatized medical care, student debt and a decaying infrastructure have made the U.S. economy uncompetitive. There is no way to restore its economic viability without reversing these neoliberal policies. But there is little reality economicsӔ at hand to provide an alternative to the class war inherent in neoliberalism’s belief that the economy and living standards can prosper by purely financial means, by debt leveraging and corporate monopoly rent extraction while the United States has made its manufacturing uncompetitive - seemingly irreversibly.

The rentier class has sought to make Americas neoliberal privatization and financialization irreversible.

It has succeeded to such a degree that there is no party or economic constituency promoting such recovery. Yet the Democratic Party leadership, subjecting the economy to an IMF-style austerity plan, will make this November’s midterm elections unique. For the past half century, the Feds role has been to provide easy money to give the ruling party at least the illusion of prosperity to deter voters from electing the opposition party. But this time the Biden Administration are running on a program of financial austerity.

The Party’s identity politics address almost every identity except that of wage-earners and debtors. That does not look like a platform that can succeed. But as the ghost of Margaret Thatcher no doubt is telling them: “There Is No Alternative.”

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Posted by Elvis on 06/28/22 •
Section Dying America • Section Austerity American Style
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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

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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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Sunday, June 06, 2021

Austerity American Style Part 19 - Declining Unemployment In A Depression

image: poor

The corporate world and our government are becoming indistinguishable, which is one of the hallmarks of FASCISM, or more accurately - CORPORATISM.
- War On Consciousness, Paul Levy, Awaken In The Dream, July 2007

There exists a common theme amidst these signs of societal decay: The super-rich keep taking from the middle class as the middle class becomes a massive lower class. Yet the myth persists that we should all look up with admiration at the “self-made” takers who are ripping our society apart.
- Signs of a Dying Society, Paul Buchheit, 2015

The gap between economic growth and job creation reflects three separate but mutually reinforcing factors: US corporate governance, Obama’s economic policies and the deregulation of US labor markets… In the boardrooms of corporate America, profits aren’t everything - they are the only thing. A JPMorgan research report concludes that the current corporate profit recovery is more dependent on falling unit-labor costs than during any previous expansion… Obama’s lopsided recovery also reflects lopsided government intervention.  Apart from all the talk about jobs, the Obama administration never supported a concrete employment plan. The stimulus provided relief, but it was too small and did not focus on job creation.
- Why The Rich Love Unemployment

More Americans than ever (39%) now think that if people can’t find work for an extended period of time, the government should do nothing at all to help them.
- 39% Say Government Should Do Nothing For Long-Term Unemployed, December 5, 2012”

Failing to renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which has been extended a number of times since 2008 to help those struggling during the Great Recession, will have the opposite effect of what is needed - Americans out-of-work for long periods will have even less to spend, which will further blunt the already-pretty-blunt recovery.
- Kicking Long-term Unemployed to The Curb

A NEW WORKING PAPER from Professor Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, however, suggests that policymakers need not worry: higher unemployment benefits dont seem to affect employment levels the way many economists assumed.
- What Unemployment Insurance Tells Us About Work During A Pandemi, NPR, March 30, 2021

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‘Terrible economics’: These states are declining federal unemployment funds. Experts say that’s ‘a huge mistake’

By Elizabeth Preza
AlterNet
May 9, 2021

Residents in South Carolina and Montana next month will lose access to federal unemployment benefits over what those states’ Republican governors call a “severe workforce shortage.” Experts say the move by Montana’s Gov. Greg Gianforte and South Carolina’s Gov. Henry McMaster is a “huge mistake.”

As ABC News reports, South Carolina and Montana are the first states “to end participation in the unemployment enhancement programs.” That program offered U.S. WORKERS ACCESS TO EXTRA UNEMPLOYMENT FUNDS as part of the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden in March.

In a statement announcing SOUTH CAROLINA’S RETURN TO RETUTN TO PREPANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT PROGRAM, McMaster complained: “In many instances, these payments are greater than the worker’s previous paychecks.”

“What was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement,” he said.

In an effort to incentivize Montanans, Gianforte is offering a one-time “‘return-to-work bonus’ of $1,200 will be paid to people who rejoin the labor force and maintain employment for at least one month,” according to ABC News. That money will also come from the federally-funded American Rescue Plan.

But Economy Policy Institute senior economist Heidi Shierholz says McMaster and Gianforte are making “a huge mistake.”

“The idea that states are just going to forego that and allow all that money to be sucked out of their economy is just terrible economics,” Shierholz told ABC News. “I just deeply hope that you don’t see more states following this path because it’s a huge mistake.”

Shierholz said the narrative of a “severe workforce shortage” driven by increased unemployment benefits is based on a FALSE PREMISE. Currently, federal unemployment benefits offer laid-off workers an additional $300 per week, down from $600 at the end of last of July. According to Shierholz, IF MONEY WAS THE MOTIVATOR, that decrease from $600 to $300 would have made a marked difference in the unemployment rate last year.

“You should have seen a bump up in employment, and you can’t see that in the data so it just points to that it wasn’t really causing the labor supply effect,” Shierholz said. “It’s just difficult to imagine that something half that big is having any effect now.”

And Shierholz is far from the only expert who warns that hiring issues in South Carolina and Montana won’t be solved by depriving residents of enhanced unemployment benefits.

ABC News reports:

William E. Spriggs, an economist and professor at Howard University, said in an interview with ABC News that there is no data to prove that unemployment checks are preventing Americans from returning to work.

“There’s no job shortage, in terms of workers. There’s a wage shortage,” said Spriggs, adding that research shows many employers “want to pay rotten wages and have rotten hours.”

Last week, the Washington Post published an analysis that likewise DISPELLED THE FRAMING OF A “WORKER SHORTAGE” BASED ON ENHANCED UNEMPLOYMENT. “At the most basic level, people are still hesitant to return to work until they are fully vaccinated and their children are back in school and daycare full-time,” the Post analysis declares.

Many Americans, the Post reports, are “re-assessing what they want to do and how they want to work, whether in an office, at home or some hybrid combination.”

Still, McMaster and Gianforte are blazing ahead with plans to reopen their respective economies by depriving citizens (and their states) of extra funding during the worst public health crisis in a century. As ABC News reports, experts say “declining to take federal money is going to have a deep effect on the living standards of residents and their families, and likely will worsen those states’ overall economies.”

But for all the hand wringing about disincentivized workers by those states’ Republican governors, Shierholz said the bottom line is “employers are just angry that they are unable to find workers at relatively low wages.”

“The jobs being posted are more stressful, more risky, harder jobs than they were pre-COVID,” she added. “ ... When the job is more stressful, then it should command a higher wage.”

Update Sun. May 9 | 9:25 AM EST -

WMC Action News reports that Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday also “ordered the state’s DIVISION OF WORKFORCE SERVICES to end Arkansas’ participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs.” That order goes into effect on June 26; the federal unemployment benefit program will run until September.

SOURCE

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If Businesses Are Competing With UI For Workers, They’re Doing Something Wrong

By Eric Sherman
Forbes
May 25, 2021

One state, two states ҅ make it 23 AT LAST COUNT that are cutting the $300 additional weekly unemployment benefit as early as June.

Who says the national government bosses around the states? If they dont want their citizens to have access to that money, they’ll cut the stream like a financial shut-off valve. At least 3.6 million citizens LEARNING WHOSE IN CHARGE, according to the Washington Posts count.

“You’re not the boss of us,” the states say to the federal government, followed by a look at those on unemployment and a sneering, “Now you’ll see whos in charge.”

It comes down to jobs, the proponents of stopping the benefits say. All these people preferring to stay home and getting an extra annualized $15,600 rather than coming in and doing what theyre told for minimum wage, which even if it were $10 an hour nationally, which it isn’t, would be $20,800 a year if the workers got a full 40 hours a week, which it isnt. During April 2021, average weekly hours for retail - one of the lower-wage sectors of the labor economy - were 31.0. FOR LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY, otherwise known as the people who are paid to make you happy while you’re eating, drinking, staying in a hotel, or going to a theme park reopening, it’s 26.7 hours.

At $15 an hour, that means you can make $20,826 for a 52-week year, no vacation. Because if you were just better and worked harder, youd have a job that would give you some time off. But, no, you’re a lazy bum who wants to be on unemployment to make more money than you could do cleaning someone elses toilet or listening to people hurl abuse because their Ҽber burger doesnt have enough mustard on it, damnit.

And companies wonder why they can’t get people to return to their exciting, self-empowered jobs that still expose them to all the walking excretory processing units who refuse to get a vaccine or wear a mask because no one should make demands on them.

SOURCE

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Half Of States Are Ending Pandemic Jobless Aid Early, And The Economy Could Suffer

NPR
June 3, 2021

As the economic recovery picks up steam, new claims for state unemployment benefits have fallen to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic. And, citing a severe shortage of workers, HALF OF THE NATION’S GOVERNORS have decided to end extra federal jobless benefits early - well before they’re due to expire in early September.

But cutting off those extra benefits - which amount to about $10 BILLION PER WEEK - is a big mistake that could hurt the economy just as it’s getting back on its feet, said Dan Alpert, a senior fellow in macroeconomics and finance at Cornell Law School.

“If we terminate those benefits earlier, as many Republicans have suggested, what we’re going to be doing is bringing forward a contraction in spending,” Alpert said in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition. “And that’s really going to be a problem ... not just for the households, but for the local economies as well.”

Why it’s so difficult to fill low-wage jobs

Alpert said state and federal benefits average about $750 per week across the country, and that can make it difficult for employers in lower-paying jobs to fill openings.

“It’s just common sense,” he said. “If you’re paying $500 a week to your employers, you’re not going to get somebody who’s receiving $750 in benefits back to work.”

But when those benefits run out, Alpert said, “this $10 billion a week, that’s going to be eliminated when these people resume those low-income jobs. And that’s a big problem for the recovery from the pandemic.”

He said it makes no sense for governors to cut off those federal benefits because those receiving $750 a week are “spending pretty much all that money into the economy. So ... you’re effectively removing that money” from the economy.

Governors are citing worker shortages as a reason to cut jobless benefits

On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan became the latest Republican governor to announce an end to enhanced pandemic federal unemployment benefits. Hogan cited the economic recovery and a high COVID-19 vaccination rate for the state’s adults.

Economy Still Down 8.2 Million Jobs Since Beginning Of Pandemic

“While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply, Hogan said. He said businesses “are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe WORKER SHORTAGES.”

It’s not just Maryland. A lack of available workers has been cited around the country.

“It remained difficult for many firms to hire new workers, especially low-wage hourly workers, truck drivers, and skilled tradespeople,” the Federal Reserve said this week in its latest report on economic activity.

Wages are starting to rise as an incentive to hiring

And, the central bank said, a growing number of employers are offering signing bonuses and increased starting wages to attract workers. In its April employment report, the Labor Department said the rising demand for labor as the economy rebounds from the pandemic “may have put upward pressure on wages.”

Average hourly earnings jumped 21 cents in April, to $30.17, though the year-over-year increase was just 0.3%. In May, private economists estimate that earnings surged more than 1% over the past 12 months.

The official jobs report for last month is due from the Labor Department on Friday. Private analysts project that the economy added more than 600,000 jobs in May, up from the weaker-than-expected 266,000 jobs added in April.

New claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 20,000 - to a level of 385,000 - for the week ending May 29, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That’s the lowest level since March 14, 2020.

“At the current rate, we should be around the typical pre-COVID level for state claims - about 200,000 - later this summer,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.

SOURCE

---

Florida woman sues DEO for unemployment benefits

By Rochelle ALleyne
Fox 4 News
June 28, 2021, updated June 29, 2021

Frustrated and let down. That’s where current wait times for unemployment benefits, have left Nikasha Wells.

“I feel like at a time when I feel like I needed my state the most, that they have really let me down,” she said.

You may remember the West Palm Beach mom from a story we did nearly two months ago when she reached out to FOX 4 to help to get her checks.

At that point, she’d been waiting about four months and the time has continued to drag on.

“I should not have to wait six months to access a state agency,” she said.

In that time she says she’s reached out to the state Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for help in getting her account unlocked and getting her money, but claims she’s only gotten radio silence in response.

So today, she got the court involved.

“I had to file a lawsuit in Leon county, basically asking for the money that I am entitled to which at this point is in excess of 10,000 dollars,” she said.

Court filings show that Wells is owed $11,500 in retroactive benefits.

Local lawyer Maria Alaimo tells FOX 4, that the only thing that surprises her about this case is that Wells didn’t file sooner.

“Honestly, I thought it was about time to do something because I’ve heard a lot from different sources and people,” she said, “I think it’s very much a valid case in the sense that it appears from what we can see from the pleadings that she has tried every way she knows how to through and say here’s this problem, I haven’t been paid, I need to be paid, I made my claim.”

Wells tells FOX 4 she thinks it’s ridiculous that it’s come to this, but adds that she hopes that her lawsuit inspires others to follow her lead.

“I’m just infuriated and I am hoping that my lawsuit is the beginning of a wave of change for how this department is operating,” she said.

FOX 4 reached out to the DEO for a response to this lawsuit. They acknowledged our request but didn’t send us an answer in time for broadcast.

The DEO has 20 days to respond to her suit once they’ve been served.

CAPE CORAL, FLA - UPDATE:

Wells has contacted FOX 4 to say that a Florida Department of Economic of Opportunity (DEO) representative has called her and unlocked her account.

A spokesperson for the DEO also sent FOX 4 the following statement:

Thank you again for reaching out to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The Department remains committed to making sure all eligible claimants receive the benefits they are owed as quickly as possible.

The Department is unable to comment on pending litigation.

Listed below is more information about this process:

Claimants who have already verified their identity through ID.me, but their CONNECT accounts remained locked, now have the ability to notify the Department of their “Locked” claim status in their CONNECT account.

Claimants should visit the Reemployment Assistance Help Center [mobile.connect.myflorida.com] to notify the Department that their Reemployment Assistance claim is locked. In the Reemployment Assistance Help Center, select I am a “Claimant,” and then select “Account Login Assistance,” then select the next series of options that match their log-in issue to notify the Department.

Claimants who have successfully completed the verification process with ID.me, do not need to re-verify with ID.me.

If a claimant has not completed the ID.me verification process, click here [hosted-pages.id.me].

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/06/21 •
Section Dying America • Section Austerity American Style
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Monday, December 10, 2018

Austerity American Style Part 17- An American Invention

image: austerity

How Austerity Ripped the World Apart
How the Worst Idea America Ever Had Came to Rule the World

By Umair Haque
Eudaimonia
December 8, 2018

There’s a force that’s ripping the world apart. Slashing through democracy, the future, and society. Reducing the planet to a smoking, melted wreck. Around the globe, people are revolting against it. In Paris, anger against this force has united the left and right into the gilets jaunes - at least for the moment. Perhaps that revolt will go the way of the British one, Brexit - and descend into paranoia, hubris, and self-destruction - only time will tell.

The force that’s ripping the world apart is austerity. But austerity - a term we use all too casually - deserves to be thought about a little more deeply, which I want to do in this essay. Austerity is an American invention - and funnily, strangely, sadly, today, the world is becoming Americanized because it chose austerity, when it should have chosen precisely the opposite - investment, support, nurturance, care. Britain, Europe, and even Canada - all these societies are now beginning to experience precisely all the same problems as America, hostility between neighbours, enmity to historic allies, extremism, folly, despair, rage, stupidity, superstition, selfishness, greed, violence - all the predictable, catastrophic effects of austerity. When you choose what made America collapse - where should you expect to end up but collapsing like America?

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. But Ill come back to all that. It’s obvious to say that this age of austerity is in a superficial way the result of bank bailouts, which foolish governments though left countries bankrupt (they didn’t). But that is only the beginning of the untold story of austerity.

We don’t often think about it, but Austerity is an American invention. So much so that Americans have never really experienced anything but austerity. America has never invested in itself as a society - building robust public goods, like a national healthcare system, transport network, retirement system, safety nets, and so on. From the time of Jefferson to Reagan to Obama, America has been a society in which people have been told to compete viciously against one another - instead of simply providing each other the things they are competing for, healthcare, retirement, income, jobs, and so forth. Compete with each other! Never invest in each other! That is the rule by which America has always been governed. The results, today, are plain to see: they have been catastrophic. The average American lives a shorter, poorer, meaner, dumber life than anywhere else in the rich world, beset by gruesome and bizarre dilemmas, like his life savings, or his life, when hes ill. Basic medicines like insulin cost up to a thousand times what they do in other societies - - while Americans are forced to watch their kids be massacred at school. All those are effects of a society of competition for the things people should cooperate to freely provide one another. Yet because Americans have never experienced anything but that, which is to say they have been brainwashed into believing austerity is the only way life and society can ever be - they are left unable to conceive of a way out of their own ongoing collapse.

Now, austerity was invented by America as a result of its toxic, terrible legacy of slavery and segregation. Americans do not want to admit it - the truth is too much to bear - but America was an apartheid state until 1971. The problem is that an apartheid state cannot invest in itself - what reason does it have to build healthcare systems for all? Instead, it invests in useless things, which genuinely improves nobody’s life - secret polices, barriers, walls, mechanisms of repression and separation. So because America was born in slavery, it evolved into austerity - which simply means that it could never really invest in itself. Trumpism was the ultimate expression of that legacy - kick those filthy subhumans out!! I will never invest a penny in their healthcare, stability, retirement, or rights! They are not even people!! But then you will never have much of your own, either. Bang! That way lies social collapse. At root, austerity is Social Darwinism by any other name - which is also exactly the mentality of a slave owner. But a society is made of people - and a democracy is made of free and equal ones. When it turns into a bitter battle of predators and prey - it collapses.

Now, the wrinkle in the story is this. The world should have understood all this ח and rejected Americas worst idea in disgust and repulsion. But it didnҒt. In fact, it embraced it. Somehow, austerity came to be embraced even by European social democrats. Even by the British Labour party. In fact, at this juncture, the only society which really rejects austerity is China  and while we might object to political aspects of Chinese growth, the fact is that investing heavily in society has led it to become a major force in the world today. But I digress.

Why was austerity embraced even by European and British social democrats - who should have been its most natural and fierce opponents? The answer to that lies in the ideology behind austerity, which is neoliberalism. Neoliberalism essentially says that nothing - nothing -in a society should be a truly public good. Everything = every single thing in a society, from jails to schools to libraries to parks to power plants - should be privately owned, and run for maximum profit.

Now, a concerned reader might ask: what kind of an illiterate fool would think that? The answer is: American economics makes it sound very smart and intelligent to answer every concern possible about life, society, and being with just that, even if - as now - the planet is melting down. It is built on three crucial assumptions. First, that “markets will regulate themselves."Second, that “social investment, governments, can never do anything good or positive” for anyone, period. Third, that “people are atoms of desire, balls of raw appetite, who should only ever be purely, aggressively, one-dimensionally self-interested.”

(Now, the interesting question is: are these assumptions true? The answer is that they are not. We don’t have to look much further than the history of the 20th century, because its three great lessons - learned after World War II  are precisely the opposite of these three foolish American ideas. Market do not regulate themselves ח that is how the Great Depression came to be. Governments are the only actors who can provide the things that markets cannot, and those things are what raise peoples living standards the most җ like healthcare, transport, retirement, safety nets. People are not just little balls of insatiable greed - they are human beings, who desire decent lives, resonant in meaning, purpose, belonging, justice, fairness, truth, stability, freedom. If societies don’t step in to provide those things, which markets never have and never will, then the result will be rising extremism and fanaticism. People will turn away from democracy, and towards authoritarianism and fascism, just as they did in the 1930s. The result will be social implosion = and America, ironically enough, is the example which proves the folly of its very own thinking.)

And yet American economics wasn’t interested - in the slightest - in thinking about all the above. It simply ignored the great lessons of the 20th century, out of hubris, arrogance, and more than a little exceptionalism. It didn’t even bother studying its own collapse. If we think about it, in fact, American economics was simply restating America’s grim and foolish history - this time as answers to every single issue of socioeconomy - as a proud model to follow for the world. The three assumptions above, after all - markets are perfect! governments are the worst! hands off my property!! more of my own property is the only thing i care about!! - are nothing other than the logic of a plantation-owner, of a slave-master. They cannot be the logic of a person who considers themselves a free and equal citizen of a democracy, if you think about it.

So American economics presented the world a pure distillation of Americas epic mistakes, a windowinto the mind of a society founded on slavery and hatred and subjugation, not freedom and justice and equality - and told the world it was the way to prosperity. The world was dumb, naive, gullible enough to swallow it. Much of it, anyways. LOL. How come no one thought this through?

This bizarre and foolish illogic, which would come to be known as neoliberalism, an eerie restatement of Americas history of slavery and segregation, came to rule the world. A whole generation of European social democrats, in particular, came to be its defenders and champions 0 ironically, weirdly, strangely. How? Why? The answer is probably that by this point neoliberalism was something like a full blown ideology. It was easy to believe childish fairy tales like Facebook would replace democracy and apps would become a nations healthcare system. Easier, at any rate, than actually thinking about the world. Europe’s social democrats remained so only in name, to a large degree - in truth, many were ardent neoliberals, who glorified, lionized, and admired America, never having visited its ruined towns, its wrecked cities, its abandoned villages, never having seen its destroyed lives and shattered future. A comforting fable is always more seductive than a difficult truth.

What do you suppose the effect of believing in the ideology that America created - which brought it to its knees, had caused America to never become a modern society, to end up collapsing before it modernised - might be in the rest of the world? Pretty obvious, no? It would probably make you end up like that, too. Believing American logic would lead to you ending up just like America.

And that is precisely what we see, for example, the world over. In Europe and Britain and Canada - thanks to the disastrous mistake of choosing austerity over investment, these societies are now wracked by the same maladies that ripped through America, imploding it from within in just a few decades. Inequality, and the frustration and resentment it breeds. Rising poverty, rising insecurity, rising injustice. A lack of decent jobs, immobility, inopportunity. The concentration of power and profit amongst the most predatory. A massive failure of social contracts. Mistrust and hostility and a loss of faith in the future. A sense of fury and disgust at it all. Middle class stagnation, and working class fury. The rich, who’ve become ultra-rich, laughing at it all, and profiting all the more, as societies turn to extremists for hope, where there is none to be found in the establishment - because it goes on proposing different flavours of austerity.

These societies are - to different degrees - on the verge, or at least the path, of becoming mini Americas. They are ending up in exactly the same place as America, on the same path now: torn apart by extremism, stupidity, greed, despair, folly, selfishness. Those are precisely all the things which many American institutions, like its political parties, its thinktanks, its famous intellectuals and pundits, still cherish and prize. But they are false beliefs - mistakes. They are the toxic residue of the age-old philosophy of cruelty and supremacy which has always defined America. Austerity is Social Darwinism by any other name, And the problem is that this century must be built on something nobler, truer, and wiser than cruelty for supremacy’s sake. Do you really want to end up like America? That is the question no one has really asked Brits, Europeans and Canadians. But it is exactly where austerity leads.

(In Britain, for example, it was places hardest hit by austerity that voted most for Brexit. That is precisely the pattern of American collapse - and it is spreading to Europe, too, where, for example, in Italy and Germany, we see precisely the same dynamics playing out. We see it beginning in Canada, too - in Ontario and Quebec both.)

Austerity doesn’t solve a single problem that a society has ever had. Inequality, a lack of opportunity, decline, a shrinking middle, crime, the decay of the rule of law, corruption - name a single social problem that a society can ever have, and you will soon see: austerity is a fiction in the sense that it has never, and can never, solve any of these problems. In fact, the greatest lesson of history is exactly the opposite of austerity. Progress in the world did not come to be at all until people began to invest in each other, in their own educations, health, longevity, intelligence, in things like universities, labs, hospitals, parks, roads, town squares. Instead of timidly handing their labour, their money, time, and energy, over to their masters, whether they were called lords, kings, tyrants, emperors, or capitalists.

For exactly that reason - because it cannot solve a single social problem that has ever existed - quite naturally, austerity doesn’t solve any of the great problems the world has today. Inequality, mistrust, stagnation, climate change - these are the big four problems of the 21st century. But austerity makes each one not just worse - but in fact impossible to solve, because the only way to solve these problems is through intense, broad, enduring social investment. Whether in clean energy, or in green management, or in better healthcare and retirement systems, or the jobs that doing all that would bring.

And so austerity is ripping the world apart. It ripped Britain from its friends and partners. It ripped social democracy from the EU. It tore through an age of stability and prosperity. It is tearing ally from ally, neighbour from neighbour, country from country, society from society, union from union. That is because it is making it impossible to solve real problems - and so those real problems have all gotten worse, since that is austerity’s true effect. As those problems get worse, people regress to their primal selves, huddling together in tribes, uttering superstitions, cursing their neighbours, bowing before totems, seeking safety from the very flood that they were told would water their gardens. What else can they do?

Hence, thanks to austerity, the world is turning American now. Britain and Europe and even Canada are beginning to be wracked by just the same problems as America җ division, hostility, outrage, extremism, inequality, rage, hopelessness, authoritarianism, stupidity, the self-destructive behaviour that arises when people become martyrs out of frustration with a broken social contract. Many poorer countries are already on the way to following their lead.

But ending up ruined, just like America, is just the perfectly logical effect of choosing the same astonishingly ignorant ideology that ruined America to run your own society, too. Neoliberalism is literally ignorant of historys greatest lesson. It thinks prosperity comes from austerity җ when in fact, the only lever of human prosperity in the long run has ever  ever, what turned feudalism into freedom ח been people investing in one another. That shattering level of ignorance caused America to never become a modern society, to end up collapsing before it modernised  but now it is causing the world to follow Americaגs lead now, too.

And so the question for the world these days is: can it understand even an inkling of the above? Nobody should end up like America. Not even Americans deserve to be in the terrible, bizarre, tragic situation they are in, really. But they have yet to fully reject the philosophies of supremacy and violence hidden prettily inside the neoliberal dream - and that is why America goes right on collapsing.

The more societies that become Americanized - the more unstable, dangerous, and self-destructive this century will become. Can you imagine a world full of little Americas? A world full of Americas? It would never solve climate change. It would cheer while the planet melted down. It would never solve inequality - it would simply abandon people to die. It would never go anywhere but right back into the dark ages. If you just shuddered - now you understand the stakes.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/10/18 •
Section Dying America • Section Austerity American Style
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