Tag Archives: socialism

Yes, Right to Work Will Kill the Middle Class — But Why Empower Classism?

Center for American Progress has an excellent in depth article, that we recommend everyone read, on how the Right to Get Union Benefits Without Paying for Them hurts the “middle class”.  Now one would ask, if we’re against classism, why do we find this article so good?

Well, because the article analyzes the economic truths about our current capitalist system.  Its hard for most anyone to deny that the numbers that keep coming up everywhere don’t show that the capitalists and their resulting plutocrat class benefit by squeezing workers to their breaking point — workers are nothing more than a commodity nor different than oil shale, natural gas or water; get as much as you can out of it, as cheaply as possible and then let someone else worry about the resulting damage.

The problem of course with the Americans for Progress analysis is that it supports a frame of “middle class” because some geniuses somewhere get the willies thinking about rubbing ideological elbows with the lumpen proletariat.

Well, here’s a clue; we’re all proletariats, so if you work for a wage or as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, are doing your own thing as a “self employed” (meaning non-covered, under the table employee) “independent contractor” then you are a worker, you trade your labor and time for money.  You don’t have extra cash in the bank to speculate on stocks, business ventures, investments or what have you; your money goes to supporting you and that’s all you got.

Read the article, spread it around, but never forget that we’re all in this together and the ultimate goal to achieving real justice for all and democracy is the destruction of the hierarchy of oppression that capitalism requires to exist; destruction of classism and oppression altogether and the creation of a just, egalitarian socio-economic system.  Its possible.

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So Lab Rats are Smarter Than Libertarians

Lab rat works to free captive where no obvious capital incentive exists.

Empathy: the one human emotion that makes Ayn Rand roll in her grave and gives all Free Staters and other Libertarians the willies — except when their own necks are on the line and they could use a hand.  It is well known that Ayn Rand had no problem living off the empathy of those who came before her and struggled for her right to receive social security and Medicare benefits in her old age.  Regardless though, Libertarians continue to preach that the way to peace is just to be a self centered prick and not bother to worry about the consequences of your actions on others, or to stop and help others.

Of course, according to this study, proof exists that lab rats are smarter than Libertarians, since they’ve apparently figured out that helping out your friends and neighbors and even sharing your booty is a good thing for your own future welfare; we all need each other and more than likely sometime down the line you will need others to give a damn about you when you and be willing to work to make your life — and in turn their life, better.  What a concept! Sounds like socialism!

Let’s take that thought a little further down the road of Logic and Plain Simple Thinking (deserves capitalization since its so under-rated these days), cut a little with Occam’s Razor and viola! We come across this excellent animation from Upworthy, made by Roman Krznaric on the power of empathy as a force for human change.  A very good animation and talk on the power of human empathy; what it means and how has a natural human emotion, we all have the ability to harness this to make positive social change and work toward peace, locally and globally.

Enjoy:

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DSA Statement: Reject the Fiscal Cliff

Reject the Fiscal Cliff, Tax the Rich,

Invest in Infrastructure and Services

A statement of the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America

November 20, 2012

DSA rejects the “fiscal cliff” hysteria of the corporate establishment and the pressure for a “Grand Bargain” that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. While unemployment remains high and economic growth slow, the government should not impose austerity measures that reduce essential programs that benefit the middle and working classes and that further shred the safety net for the most vulnerable. Rather, government policy should prioritize investments in job creation, public education and healthcare reform, while raising essential revenues by taxing the large corporations and wealthiest citizens who can afford to pay.

Immediately after the election, Wall Street-backed foundations such as Third Way and the Concord Coalition organized a “Campaign to Fix the Debt” to spin the election results as a mandate for a “bi-partisan” focus on reducing the deficit as the highest national priority. For decades the billionaire Pete Peterson has funded groups that claim that the universal entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare are bankrupting the nation and that their future growth must thus be drastically trimmed.  These neoliberals scored an initial success in 2011 when the Simpson-Bowles Congressional Commission put to a vote a long-term “budget compromise” that would have instituted three times as much in budget cuts than in tax increases. But despite President Obama’s evident willingness to reach such a one-sided compromise, Tea Party insistence on no tax increases, even on the wealthiest, scuttled the deal. The “resolution” of this manufactured, alleged “budget crisis” was to postpone a decision on further deficit reduction until the end of 2012, hence the contrived “fiscal cliff.”

What is the fiscal cliff? If Congress makes no changes to the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Bush tax cuts will expire on January 1, 2013. In addition, automatic cuts of $55 billion each in annual defense and “discretionary domestic” spending will begin. These tax increases and spending cuts, combined with the expiration of the FICA payroll tax cut and the end of extended unemployment benefits, will create a significant fiscal drag on the economy. The annual budget deficit will fall from over $1 trillion in 2012 to $500 billion dollars in 2013; and the resulting drop in aggregate demand from this combination of spending cuts and increases in taxes would almost definitely cause a double-dip recession.

Like other progressive groups, DSA rejects the notion that some “unified” fiscal cliff must be addressed in the lame-duck session of Congress. It is in fact a “fiscal obstacle course” that Congress should address without panic early in 2013, while heeding the election results. A progressive solution would include restoring all automatic domestic cuts, while making more strategic and deeper cuts in defense procurement spending. The revenue for expanding domestic social welfare spending can be raised by ending the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% and corporate tax-giveaways, while instituting a modest financial transaction tax on stock and bond transactions. In addition, Congress should restore the tradition of not requiring a separate authorization vote every time the current debt ceiling is crossed. Requiring such a vote provides the right with endless opportunities to blackmail the Congress into counter-productive budget slashing.

Specifically, DSA advocates that Congress pass legislation to:

1. Restore all the automatic cuts to the domestic discretionary budget. These cuts would deny WIC nutrition to 750,000 mothers and children, eliminate Title I funding for 1.8 million low-income school children and would deny 734,000 households home heating assistance. In addition, it would cut financing of all federal regulatory agencies by 10%.

2. Reauthorize federal funding of extended unemployment insurance. Otherwise, on January 1, 1.5 million unemployed workers and their dependents will lose their unemployment benefits.

3. Restore the improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Care Credit that have reduced the tax burden on the middle and working classes. To preserve the purchasing power that would be lost by an end to the 2% FICA payroll tax cut, reintroduce the 2009 Recovery Act refundable tax credit of $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families earning under $110,000.

4. Abolish the Bush tax cuts on the top 2% and tax capital gains and stock dividends at the same rate as earned income. Increase effective corporate taxation through the elimination of corporate tax loopholes and corporate “tax expenditures.”  These reforms would yield $275 billion in additional annual revenue. In addition, instituting a “Robin Hood Tax” could net another $300 billion in annual revenues. (This financial transaction tax is a small sales tax, for example 0.25%, charged on all trading in stocks, currencies and debt instruments such as bonds, derivatives, futures and options.)

5. Make major cuts in our bloated defense budget, while creating a public jobs program that trains the unemployed to rebuild infrastructure, creates an alternative energy grid and expands mass transit.

6. Extend and strengthen Social Security for future generations, funding enhancements by progressively lifting the cap on earned income subject to the FICA tax and extending it to income derived from capital.

7. Progressively extend and strengthen Medicare/Medicaid, until it covers U.S. residents of all ages, while installing effective cost controls.

DSA welcomes and will work with broad national and local coalitions that are forming to fight cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; to preserve programs that benefit the working poor and most vulnerable; to promote greater investment in public education and healthcare and to raise revenues by taxing the rich and corporations.  We also support Tavis Smiley’s and DSA National Honorary Chair Cornel West’s call for President Obama to convene a White House conference on poverty.

DSA will bring to these coalitions the educational perspective of our GET UP (Grassroots Economics Training for Understanding and Power) and The Other America is Our America (TOA) projects. GET UP analyzes the neoliberal capitalist roots of the Great Recession and advances social market economic alternatives. TOA demystifies the history of anti-poverty policy and argues for a new, true war on poverty. We can only stop the corporate drive for austerity if we educate, agitate and organize. DSA will join those in the streets resisting the bi-partisan effort to thwart the needs of the very constituencies that just re-elected our president.

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Workers Continue to Defy the EU’s Oppressive ‘Austerity’ Demands

More news that gets little to no air play in the American corporate media: Greece continues, along with other southern countries of the EU, to resist the “austerity” methods of the finance/capitalist sectors in the EU.  Flexing their muscle through the leadership of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leaders of the major finance and banking interests attempt to keep the lid on the boiling pot.  No doubt, to much consternation of the powerful elites, workers in the southern tiers demonstrate that they will not be cowed, demonstrating that an educated workforce will not accept reduction to the role of capital commodities for the benefit of plutocrats.

From Socialist World:

German chancellor Angela Merkel is expected in Greece on Tuesday, 9 October. She will be greeted by an increasing bitterness and anger against the ongoing destruction of the Greek economy and living conditions of working people. An escalation of the struggle against the latest Troika-imposed austerity is developing from below. It has the potential to bring down the Samaras government and challenge capitalist austerity. We publish here an article by Xekinima (CWI in Greece) on the latest developments and the steps which need to be taken by the workers’ movement.

Greek society is in uproar. Everybody knows that the situation cannot continue. The so-called Troika (European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) have led the Greek economy into a collapse, and are now demanding another round of savage austerity cuts.

The Samaras government of New Democracy with the participation of its fake “left” allies (DIMAR and PASOK) are preparing cuts that will lead to untold misery for millions of workers, pensioners, the poor and the unemployed.

Here are the key statistics that themselves explain the type of war that has been launched against working people:

Official unemployment stands at 23.6% (real unemployment is more like 30%) and among young people is 55%. According to the European statistical agency Eurostat (July 2012), 68% live at or under the official poverty line. Gross Domestic Product has fallen by 22% since the beginning of the crisis. The “national” debt is estimated to be 179% of GDP in 2013, according to the government’s new projected budget, while it was 109% of GDP in 2008 (’Imerisia’ newspaper, 2 October 2012).

In reality, the Greek people have no choice but to try to stop the criminal plans of the Troika leraders and that can only mean trying to bring down the government that collaborates with these criminals. The government (which at the moment faces a serious crisis as scandals are exploding) can be brought down with mass strike action, mass occupations across the country and an indefinite general strike.

Read more: Trade Unions Pushed to Escalate the Struggle

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Venezualians Say Yes to Six More Years of Socialism — and the US Corporate Spin Machine Shall work in Overdrive

Before the read one erudite commenter on the Post page is worth pasting here:

10:28 AM EDT

Eureka! Have we lost South America? No, because we never OWNED South America contrary to decades of US foreign policy. Venezuela has 100 years worth of oil? And isn’t playing patty-cake with Uncle Sam? Be careful-the US has overthrown duly-elected governments for less. The rabid right demonizes Chavez in typical knee-jerk fashion because he’s (pardon the profanity) a socialist. He must have stole the election they will say. But maybe the people LIKE that 43 per cent of the state budget goes for social programs. Maybe they like that unemployment went down from 20+ per cent to less than 7 per cent. Maybe they like that 22 public universities were built in the past 10 years. Maybe they like that teachers have gone from 65,000 to 350,000 and illiteracy has been eradicated. Maybe people LIKE for the wealth of the nation to benefit the citizens of that nation instead of a tiny group of economic royalty. Best wishes to Venezuela and South America.

We couldn’t have said it better.  With 80% of the population turning out, Chavez must have been using his Super-Socialist mind control skillz.

From the Washington Post:

, Published: October 7

CARACAS, Venezuela — Fighting for his political life, President Hugo Chavez overcame a vigorous challenge by Henrique Capriles in Sunday’s presidential election, receiving another six-year term that will give the populist firebrand the opportunity to complete the consolidation of what he calls 21st century socialism in one of the world’s great oil powers.The victory, announced by the National Electoral Council late Sunday, gave Chavez the win with 54.4 percent of the vote, while Capriles took 44.9 percent. In winning his fourth presidential election since 1998, Chavez captured just over 7.4 million votes to 6.1 million for his adversary, turning back what had been a determined battle by Capriles, a 40-year-old former governor.Read the rest: Hugo Chavez Beat Enrique Capriles in Venezuela’s Presidential Election

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Social Democracy vs. Democratic Socialism vs. National Socialism (Observations at a distance of the French and American experience)

French exuberance over Hollande victory, via democraticunderground.com

Though I have been living in France again for these few weeks during the summer, I feel that I have experienced and seen enough to make some comments that may be more insightful than pedestrian when it comes to a comparison of our two countries and the systems that support us)

First of all, during my stay, I have paid little by way of taxes here and have no financial investment in this system.  In all candor, this must be how the 1% must feel in the US living there paying less than the middle classes do, yet enjoying the same privileges and advantages afforded to them in our republic.

That being said, the food is great and bountiful here.  I did not have to think about GMOs or preservatives here. There is good cheese and great quality very, very cheap regional wines for sale and the beef grass fed.  The bread is fresh and fortifying and places to buy it fresh plentiful.  I pay no taxes to use my car, or support the schools or museums.  I am a parasite  who takes full advantage of the roads, educated citizenry, even of the workers who plant the roadside flowers that make this place so beautiful.  I financially support none of it through taxes.  I use a high speed rail system and local trains and trams paying less to ride them than the cost to run them.  It is all someone else’s taxes who go to pay for the quality and benefit of my existence.  If I were to live here for more than a few weeks a year, I would feel bad about taking advantage of all this without giving something back, for, though I may be a parasite, and generally loathe taxes and bureaucracies,  I am one with a conscience here and back at home.

So why is it that the upper 1% in the states seem to have no such conscience?  What is it about their self-absorbed lives that doesn’t allow their sense of altruism to tick, even in the least collective degree?  I believe that it is one of Entitlement.  The “E” word.  Yes, it takes one to point out one.  How else could the wealthy in the US laser focus on a word and turn it into an epithet aimed at everyone else who is on the cusp of surviving and who might be a recipient of what is left of state noblesse-oblige, now defamed as a “welfare state”.  Sure, there are abuses.  Any system has them.  But with proper pruning, policing and punishment,  the “three Ps” the abuses are guaranteed to be small and few and far between.  But again, it takes hubris for one who has no real investment or financial connection with a society to enjoy all of its benefits to ask for the crucifixion of those who are less fortunate for doing the same just to stay alive.   Is it not hypocrisy for any of the 1% to shop at Walmart, for example, where cheap prices are afforded greatly by hiring part time workers and having those same employees there apply for food stamps as part of their hiring?  Are we not again socializing our most efficient means of production in this way?  If the system continues to grow and makes Sam Walton’s family and shareholders richer, it must be good right?  Isn’t this pure capitalism?

No, this is National Socialism.  Just as the rich won’t have it philosophically, they still need it to maintain the the illusion of a purely capitalist corporate model.  It is not. We as a society are keeping Sam’s workers’ and dependent families fed.  This is the socialized cost of lower prices at the register.  It is also how private insurers of state workers compensation systems have increased their profits by offsetting disability payments to injured workers by deducting from the indemnity paid to injured workers the amounts they receive from the Social Security Disability system, thereby privatizing gains and socializing losses.  It is the basis of “tort Reform”.  It is a reallocation of wealth by the protection of laws to the benefit of the wealthy.   Most recently we saw most blatantly it with TARP and the bank bailouts.

So, now what is the problem with keeping the Walton’s family workers healthy other than socializing gains and losses?  Absolutely nothing other than  the fact that one has to call it a form of socialism.   Privatizing gain and socializing losses is a form of “National Socialism” a/k/a “Corporatism” or for the less squeamish fascism.  If one is a fascist, if corporations fail, and failure can be avoided by socializing losses by putting it on the backs of taxpayers, then that is not a bad thing because the oligarchs win out.  Anything when the corporations win is good for the oligarchs and plutocrats in a fascist state.  If losses are “socialized”, even if it is cost effective and pays for itself, to them it is bad.  Anything else, other than the institution of communism (admittedly an abject failure) would be better.  So we call our successful social programs in our democracy, something else.   The term “Social Security” is watered down medically into a name like ” “Medicare”.

In this country we even socialize the human cost of our wars, by providing our injured veterans with a lifetime of federally funded workers compensation benefits known variously as “Veterans’ Benefits” and “Veterans’ Medical Benefits”.   For those destitute veterans, we as Americans also provide for the destitute vet, “Veterans Retirement”.  We do all this including the payment of vested retirement benefits to Service personnel, the Congress and our federal employees.  We need to begin seeing our system, it’s successes and it’s excesses for what they are and calling them by their proper names whether it be “fascist”, “socialist” or “socially democratic” or “progressive”  terms or memes that would function to limit the excesses and maximize the combined benefits of both capital and labor while maintaining the natural tension between the two through the use of good reason and common sense.

So why are we so opposed to socializing our democracy?  Besides actually using the word “social”, a term anathema to most of America’s trained ears, the fear of the unknown or the new are perhaps the other reasons.  Additionally, as a nation of international xenophobes, rarely do travel globally to places where we can see first hand how social democracies work elsewhere and how they by necessity, relate to one another in the world at large.  Perhaps if we did observe more and blindly condemn less would we see that there are other ways of doing things as both a local and national community.  But perhaps this is too much because it would require a community of historically rugged individualists to realize that the frontiers are now closed and the recognition of what it means to be an American community.  This is going to take cooperation and a recognition of commonly beneficial goals and values that will sustain us and help us grow as a society and as a civilization as we meet the demands that will try our communality over time.

My observation of the French both up close now and from a distance is that this is a book that the French have been writing for themselves as a society of common sanguination for over a thousand years now. The vision here is clear and the population generally well cared for, hard working and happy.  We on the other side of the Atlantic have yet to complete the preface to our own tome or even to agree on the words that best describe who we are and what we want to become.

Mike Murburg

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