Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class
Kodak employed 140,000 people. Instagram, 13. A digital visionary says the Web kills jobs, wealth — even democracy
Israel has highest poverty rate in the developed world, OECD report shows
Israel is the most impoverished of the 34 member countries, with a poverty rate of 20.9%, according to a report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
From the BBC:
Pope Francis hits out at global ‘cult of money’
Gee, maybe there’s something to this one from the London Telegraph:
Pope Francis elected after supernatural ‘signs’ in the Conclave, says Cardinal
The surprise election of Pope Francis came about because of a series of supernatural “signs”, one of the leading Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church has claimed
From McClatchy Newspapers:
In Mexico, fears for democracy as threatened journalists curtail coverage
From The Independent:
François Hollande calls for ‘European political union’ within two years
Posted in Banksters, Class, Culture, Debt, Economy, Europe, Finance, Governance, Latin America, Politics, Wealth
From cartoonist Patrick Chappatte of Le Temps in Zurich via Presseurop:
From The Atlantic Wire:
How the Maker of TurboTax Fought to Keep Your Taxes Complicated
From Common Dreams:
Disaster Capitalism Strikes as Hedge Funds Circle Near-Bankrupt Municipalities Like Vultures
A troubling pattern emerges as private funds seek to profit from beleaguered cities
Greece: youth unemployment reaches a grim record of 64.2%
From World Socialist Web Site:
IMF demands further austerity in Greece
From Raw Story:
Mao Zedong’s grand-daughter worth more than $815 million according to China’s ‘New Fortune’ magazine
Posted in Asia, Banksters, Class, Corpocracy, Debt, Economy, Europe, Finance, Labor, Politics, Wealth
First, from Bloomberg, a story by a fellow doing quite well, thank you very much:
Gore Is Romney-Rich With $200 Million After Bush Defeat
And from Business Insider, news about others not doing as well:
The Worst Unemployment Crisis In Modern History Is Unfolding Right Now
And from the London Telegraph
, a story about a change of heart:
German euro founder calls for ‘catastrophic’ currency to be broken up
Oskar Lafontaine, the German finance minister who launched the euro, has called for a break-up of the single currency to let southern Europe recover, warning that the current course is “leading to disaster”.
And back home to California, where the fruits of a clever neoliberal property tax scheme are continuing to bear fruit for the one percenters, reported by the Los Angeles Times:
Prop. 13 loophole gives edge to big players
Change of ownership, key to reassessment, is cut-and-dried for homeowners but not businesses. It means a loss of tens of millions of dollars a year in tax revenue.
Posted in Corpocracy, Governance, Class, Economy, Politics, Finance, Wealth, Banksters, Labor, Europe, Debt, Poverty
From UC Berkeley’s Robert Reich:
Four years into a so-called recovery and we’re still below recession levels in every important respect except the stock market. A measly 88,000 jobs were created in March, and total employment remains some 3 million below its pre-recession level. Labor-force participation is its lowest since 1979.
Businesses won’t hire and expand unless they have more customers, but most Americans can’t spend more. Last Friday’s retail sales report showed sales down .4 percent in March. Consumer sentiment has fallen to its lowest level in nine months.
The underlying problem is the vast middle class is running out of money. They can’t borrow more — and shouldn’t, given what happened after the last borrowing binge.
Real annual median household income keeps falling. It’s down to $45,018, from $51,144 in 2010. All the gains from the recovery continue to go to the top.
We open with Europe with this from the Irish Times:
IMF trims global growth forecast and warns of bumpy recovery
Warns Europe not to relax efforts to tackle debt crisis
Capital Study: Chinese Investment in Europe Hits Record High
From El País:
IMF sees Spain’s jobless rate climbing to 27 percent this year
Closer to home, there’s this From ProPublica:
FDA Let Drugs Approved on Fraudulent Research Stay on the Market
And finally this from the Sacramento Bee:
Nevada buses hundreds of mentally ill patients to cities around country
Posted in Academia, Asia, Corpocracy, Economy, Europe, Finance, Governance, Health, Labor, Politics, Poverty
From The Real News Network, host Paul Jay moderates a debate of Barack Obama’s planned Social Security cuts featuring Joseph Minarik, Senior Vice President and Director of Research at the Committee for Economic Development (CED) in Washington, and chief economist of the Office of Management and Budget for the eight years of the Clinton Administration. He’s pitted against one of esnl’s favorite economists, Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and currently a Visiting Professor of the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University in New York.
A transcript of the debate is posted here.
We are reminded of an 8 November 1954 letter from then-President Dwight David Eisenhower to his older brother Edgar:
Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
Posted in Corpocracy, Elders, Class, Video, Deep Politics, History, Culture, Economy, Politics, Finance, Wealth, Resources, Poverty
First, atop a tale of an ex-bureaucrat’s lament in the London Telegraph:
Financial crisis caused by too many bankers taking cocaine, says former drugs tsar
David Nutt, the former Government drugs tsar sacked after claiming that horse riding was as safe as taking ecstasy, has said that the banking crisis was caused by too many workers taking cocaine
From World Socialist Web Site:
Sharp decline in employer-sponsored health coverage in US
Study finds spike in heart attacks since start of Greek debt crisis
From The Guardian:
Portugal’s fed-up youth pack and go as their nation slides into reverse
Job prospects are grim, health and education are in crisis and, with more austerity to come, emigration is increasingly the only solution
Madrid’s city council to vote naming a street after Margaret Thatcher
Posted in Banksters, Class, Crime, Culture, Economy, Europe, Finance, Governance, Idiocy, Labor, Politics, Wealth
Unemployment Is Really 14.3%–Not 7.6%
From the Los Angeles Times:
Budget cuts force California courts to delay trials, ax services
The courts have lost about 65% of their state general fund support in the last five years, a new study says, and the effect of the cuts is growing
From Deutsche Welle:
Risk of social unrest rises in EU
From the London Telegraph:
Helmut Kohl: I acted like a dictator to bring in the euro
Helmut Kohl, Germany’s former chancellor, has admitted that he acted like a “dictator” to bring in the single currency to the country, otherwise he “would have lost” had he held a referendum
Posted in Class, Debt, Economy, Europe, Finance, Governance, History, Labor, Law, Politics, Poverty, Wealth
Cigarette Relighting Tied to Tough Economy
From the Washington Post:
Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients. Blame the sequester.
U.S. considers less prison time for ex-Enron CEO Skilling
From The Guardian:
Mary Schapiro: the latest official through the regulatory revolving door
Former SEC chairman Schapiro, 57, to switch to the private sector in a move likely to anger critics of ‘regulatory capture’
Posted in Corpocracy, Governance, Class, Health, Economy, Politics, Finance, Wealth, Banksters, MSM, Crime, Medicine
From James Howard Kunstler, writing at his blog, Clusterfuck Nation:
Things are breaking loose. Holes have appeared in the fabric of fraud and lies that passes for the world money system. They are black holes, gravitationally sucking in the things breaking loose, and as these things cross their event horizons, they will never be seen again. These things I speak of are the collateral for vast nebulae of falsely generated debts and obligations that were never intended to be honored (i.e. regarded as real). As they vanish down the wormholes of time, they take with them their pretenses of money value, meaning they leave reverberations of impoverishment in the shadowy place that the real world has become.
The process described above – an alchemy of physics – will begin to shed light where the shadows have been, revealing a much harsher world in sharp contours and shocking color, for instance: red, the color of ink representing losses on real balance sheets of every household, every enterprise, and every government the whole world round. A scramble for safety now ensues, not just to lay hold of anything with remaining real “moneyness,” but for the resources that drive the kind of economies we have. In other words, for gold and silver, and for oil and gas.
From the London Telegraph:
Europe’s leaders paralysed as EMU jobless rate hits record high
Eurozone unemployment reached a record 12pc in February and looks certain to ratchet higher as fiscal cuts deepen and manufacturing continues to struggle, raising the spectre of social explosion across southern Europe
From the London Daily Mail:
U.S. sees highest poverty spike since the 1960s, leaving 50 million Americans poor as government cuts billions in spending… so does that mean there’s no way out?
From The Independent
Pregnant women ‘more likely to miscarry as result of cuts to Government spending’
Extreme poverty could be wiped out by 2030, World Bank estimates show
World Bank head speaks of ‘auspicious moment in history’ amid criticism rhetoric is not being matched with detailed policies
IMF wants faster home repossessions
Golden Dawn wants death penalty for violent migrants
From Keep Talking Greece:
German policemen at Greek airports to check travellers bound to Germany
Posted in Class, Culture, Debt, Deep Politics, Economy, Europe, Finance, Governance, Health, Hypocrisy, Intolerance, Labor, MSM, Politics, Poverty, Wealth
From Dutch public television, another stunning VPRO Backlight documentary [previously featured shows], this one exploring the dirty little corporate tricks used to avoid paying taxes:
The program notes:
“Where do multinationals pay taxes and how much?” Gaining insight from international tax experts, Backlight director Marije Meerman (‘Quants’ & ‘Money & Speed’), takes a look at tax havens, the people who live there and the routes along which tax is avoided globally.
Those routes go by resounding names like ‘Cayman Special’, ‘Double Irish’, and ‘Dutch Sandwich’. A financial world operates in the shadows surrounded by a high level of secrecy. A place where sizeable capital streams travel the world at the speed of light and avoid paying tax. The Tax Free Tour is an economic thriller mapping the systemic risk for governments and citizens alike. Is this the price we have to pay for globalised capitalism?
At the same time, the free online game “Taxodus” by Femke Herregraven is launched. In the game, the player can select the profile of a multinational and look for the global route to pay as little tax as possible.
research: William de Bruijn
camera: Jean Counet
montage: Bart van den Broek
geluid: Tim van Peppen, Benny Jansen, Joris van Ballegoijen
productie: Marie Schutgens
animaties: Bitcaves & Motoko
What becomes clear is that borders are only meaningful for the flesh-and-blood person, while they are utterly permeable for the disembodied corporate person so beloved of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Posted in Corpocracy, Organized crime, Governance, Video, Deep Politics, Law, Economy, Finance, Wealth, Banksters, Secrecy, Resources, Debt, Poverty
Latest US GDP Data Show Economy Weak at Year’s End but Corporate Profits Near Record High
Obama signs ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ written by Monsanto-sponsored senator
From World Socialist Web Site:
US food stamp use swells to a record 47.8 million
From Cornell University:
You Don’t “Own” Your Own Genes
Posted in Corpocracy, Governance, Class, Deep Politics, Agriculture, Law, Economy, Finance, Wealth, Resources, Debt, Food, Poverty
Hosted by actor Woody Harrelson and written and directed by Pete Gain, Ethos is a 2011 documentary that explores the relationship between banking, power, politics, personal freedom, and environmental destruction. Among those featured are Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Chalmers Johnson.
It’s well worth 68 minutes of your time.
Posted in Corpocracy, Governance, Class, Warfare, Video, Deep Politics, History, Culture, Economy, Military, Politics, Finance, Wealth, Banksters, MSM, Resources, Labor, Education, Debt
Paul Jay of The Real News Network interviews economist Michael Hudson on the lethal collusion of politics, banks, and academia that has inflicted a blanket of debt servitude on generations of American students.
Hudson devotes special attention to New York University, which he describes as a real estate company that wins tax exemptions by offering classes.
A transcript of the interview is posted here.
Posted in Corpocracy, Academia, Governance, Class, Video, Economy, Politics, Finance, Wealth, Education, Debt
From economist Michael Hudson:
Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history.
Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule is ended as new leaders (“tyrants” to Aristotle) win popular support by cancelling the debts and redistributing property or taking its usufruct for the state.
Since the Renaissance, however, bankers have shifted their political support to democracies. This did not reflect egalitarian or liberal political convictions as such, but rather a desire for better security for their loans. As James Steuart explained in 1767, royal borrowings remained private affairs rather than truly public debts. For a sovereign’s debts to become binding upon the entire nation, elected representatives had to enact the taxes to pay their interest charges.
By giving taxpayers this voice in government, the Dutch and British democracies provided creditors with much safer claims for payment than did kings and princes whose debts died with them. But the recent debt protests from Iceland to Greece and Spain suggest that creditors are shifting their support away from democracies. They are demanding fiscal austerity and even privatization sell-offs.
This is turning international finance into a new mode of warfare. Its objective is the same as military conquest in times past: to appropriate land and mineral resources, communal infrastructure and extract tribute. In response, democracies are demanding referendums over whether to pay creditors by selling off the public domain and raising taxes to impose unemployment, falling wages and economic depression. The alternative is to write down debts or even annul them, and to re-assert regulatory control over the financial sector.
Read the rest.
Posted in Banksters, Class, Debt, Economy, Finance, History, Human behavior, Politics, Poverty, Resources, Warfare, Wealth
From Al Jazeera:
Ireland mulls selling forests to pay debt
Controversial new scheme is part of efforts to meet IMF demands to reduce debt
From the Washington Post:
China’s disposable chopstick addiction is destroying its forests
Via Orwellwasright, a dramatic Al Jazeera visualization of the real budget battle’s driving engine, that military/industrial/academic complex Ike warned us about 52 years ago.
We suspect the real number’s larger. Nor were real impacts on, for example, academia made clear. Berkeley, with it’s bandolier of National Laboratories spawned by the search for The Bomb and expanded into engines of imperialism, as in the genetically engineered cops designed to conquer land rights and demolish peasant sovereignty on behalf of private profit and the interests of the U.S. military and their CIA drone-firing gunslingers now busily setting up shop in Africa, along with AFRICOM, the new military command launched by an Air Force general who lead the air war of Afghanistan.
And it was that same general who devixsed the strategy for converting the air force in agrofueled fleet.
Africa was also the first destination of crews from Berkeley’s BP-funded, national lab participating $500 million Energy Biosciences Institute, who launched searches for suitable crops to be turned into fuels using genetically engineered microbial refineries. If all those oil countries rebelled, at least there’d be fuel plantations, operating under the watchful missile-armed eyes droning overhead.
And that’s just one on many avenues in which the single largest burner of money shapes the landscape of possibilities. . .
Posted in Corpocracy, Global Corporate U., Governance, Class, Warfare, Mideast, Video, Deep Politics, Geopolitics, Agriculture, Economy, GWOT, Military, Politics, Finance, Wealth, Resources, Science, Africa
Just to remind Cal students who live the the Gaia Building, Berkeleyan, and other apartment buildings owned by Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell’s Equity Residential, their landlord was the man who bankrupted the Los Angeles Times.
That paper’s up for sale again [as noted yesterday, even the Koch brothers may offer some cash], and a timely piece in LA Weekly on the latest buy offers provides a nifty little vignette about Berkeley’s number on private sector landlord.
Hillel Aron writes about what happened when. . .
the spoils went to Sam Zell, the real estate mogul who looked like a character from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth dressed for a night at a disco.
Zell’s nickname was “Grave Dancer,” and his crassness disgusted many journalists — he once suggested that Tribune papers allow X-rated ads because “everyone loves a good blow job.”
“He was the most vulgar, repellent rich person I’ve ever met,” says Tim Rutten, a journalist at the Times for 40 years, who was laid off in 2011.
Any journalism students who reside in one of Zell’s apartments must feel a bit of shame every time the rent check is signed.
But Haas students can rejoice that they’re living a place that made a very tidy fortune for David Teece, one of their plutocratic profs, who put up cash and clout to get them built, then made a pile selling to Zell at the peak of the market.