Categories
- Governance - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Discourse Justice

Money, Lies, and Spiritual Solutions

Since the housing market crash of 2008 we have heard it said that the economy is recovering. Who, I wonder are the people who are actually recovering? Let us look into what the facts say. The top 7% of wealthy americans have gained $5.6 trillion during the period of time called the recovery from 2009-2011. The rest of the 93% of the working public have actually had a net loss in assets during this period amounting to a deficit of $669 billion. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (7% of the population) have seen a rise in their personal assets increasing from $1.7 million to $2.5 million per family, on average. During this exact same “recovery” period 93% of the population – 111 million families – have seen their income decline by $6,000 per family, on average.

Who is recovering then I repeat? This comes out to a 28% increase in the assets of the wealthy, and 4% reduction in the assets of the poor. The phenomenon can be explained by a straightforward hypothesis: the entire financial product of the recovery is being accrued directly in the personal bank accounts of a wealthy minority. Income can be imagined to be a stream of money; wealth is the pool into which that stream flows. The vast majority of the water that was generated in the so-called “recovery” has flowed directly into the existing largest bodies of water, ie: all the reward gained by the recovery labor and austerity were accrued directly into investors pockets, some of it even being siphoned off from smaller lakes and streams that are already nearly dried up.

It seems we are to believe that the status of world affairs is determined by how the rich alone are feeling, and is reflective only of the state of the satisfaction of the privileged. This skewed metric of success is then reported publicly as if it applied equally to all. Medical science has confirmed that some affluent individuals suffer from Narcissistic personality disorders but how can a whole society be forced to think and feel the happiness of a small subset of people. I’ve never heard of a thief who forces his victim to deny his own feelings and profess great happiness at the wonderful new acquisition of commodities by the thief.

Through arrogance and methodical coaxing, through social conditioning and propaganda  the rich have come to identify the well-being of the state with their own personal well being.  If the rich feel enriched, the news announces, “we” are all richer. If the rich feel poorer, the media chastises american laborers for laziness, and calls for slashing of taxes and dismantling governmental infrastructure and safety nets. The entire world is asked to be selfless to make room for the narcissism of wealthy bankers and investors. Countless human beings in the latin american and african continents deny themselves their own perspectives and legitimacy in favor of believing the pronouncements and self-expressions of the powerful and wealthy elites of american society. The suffering millions go unmentioned and uncared for because media tycoons have decreed that it would suit their interests more if the news popularized the release of their latest technocratic gadget for consumer consumption.

Ideological transformation is necessary. Spiritual values must be heard throughout the world:  “tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor.”

The recovery has made a fortune for the rich and applied further downward economic pressure on the middle and working classes. A plan brought this turn of events about. The same plan that told the news media to cover reports of the great figures demonstrating a healthy and vibrant stock market and finance earnings. The discussion of the well-being of the masses of humanity is Taboo in american society. Such taboos themselves are evidence of a culture designed to placate and remove any trace of public discontent with the economic and social status quo. The more that news can spread of the recovery, the more the plight of the impoverished masses is kept out of the limelight, and the more injustice continues unabated and even intensifies in its oppression.

After greedy banks manufactured fraudulent credit schemes and sold them to the american public the stock market that had traded with and insured these corrupt mortgages collapsed. The government simply credited large amounts of money to these same banks that had ruined the world, in  order to prevent the world from suffering a collapse of the global credit system. Bail outs consisted of the US government using taxpayer money to pay the bloated salaries and bonuses of the big bankers who threatened to resign if not bailed out.
The so-called “bailout” designed to benefit victims of the banking fraud unfortunately followed the exact same logic as fraud itself, which was: paying fat cats at the top promotes wealth by a “trickle down” phenomenon. Our own tax dollars and government championed the world view that the rich deserve to get richer even after having made the poor poorer.

The Federal Reserve credited trillions of dollars to Wall Street firms employing a wide variety of transparent and opaque financial maneuvers with little accountability and even less earmarking. The graph below demonstrates the beneficiaries of the bail bouts by amount received. As you can see the lion’s share went to private firms on Wall Street.  Fannie May and Freddie Mac are officially private institutions however they operate the same way as Wall Street banks.

There is a financial-legal pipeline between political positions in washington and high finance. Financial influence on Wall Street readily translates into legislative power in the senate and vice versa. They are like one currency with two forms of expressions: money and power. Most individuals shuttle back and forth between Washington and Wall Street during their careers. It is these folks that write laws and basic policies that govern our nation, legally and economically. They consult for and advise banks and then go legislate policies that enable things like sub-prime loans. Instead of representing citizens they made bankers billionaires and evicted countless american homeowners and cause an economic Armageddon.

These same wall street politicians proposed and carried out the bailout. This is severe and unregulated conflict of interests. Hank Paulson served as chairman of Goldman Sachs before being hired as Secretary of the Treasure under W. Bush  in Washington. Timothy Geithner was head of the regional Federal Reserve Board in New York (side by side with the heads of all major Wall Street Banks) prior to being asked by President Obama to join his cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury. Many congressmen and staffers hold offers for lucrative Wall Street employment in recompense for work they performed while occupying an office on the hill. Together, this marriage of finance and government has enacted a half-century of policies that rob the middle and working class of their rewards on labor in order to enrich the already wealthy. Is there any more blatant idolatry at the false-god of money than this?

Policy after policy enacted protects big banks and emboldens them in their ways. Even at the time for punishment, the bail out solution takes the form of money paid to big banks to incentivize them to put things back together. This doesn’t count as democracy. This is plutocracy.

The partisan system only exacerbates the dilemma. The election procedure that decides between party candidates often boils down to cash donations for campaign funds. Underlying their time in office, in legislating, in campaigns, and getting elected – money is the real common denominator in what is done. And therefore banks reign supreme.

The current stimulus policy being pursued by the Federal Reserve operates under the presumption that wealth trickles down. They have continuously been reducing interest rates on diverse bonds and securities to facilitate and expedite the flow of money as much as possible into stocks holdings. As money pours into stocks, their value on the market increases, and supports a thriving, bullish stock market. Wealthy investors who profit by their stocks going up  are somehow mysteriously thought to reinvest their earnings into the economy in a constructive way that creates jobs, supports education, fosters research, and bolsters infrastructures. According to this theory, upper class elites rarely spend private finances on offshore investments like cheap labor in Foxconn plants in china, or store it in offshore bank accounts where US taxes don’t apply, and rarely squander their money on useless pastimes such as extravagant, unnecessary lifestyles like sailing yachts, sports cars, private jet planes and esoteric entertainment. This is the trickle down wealth effect theory that is basically a hoax devoid of economic data and dogmatized by people who need an excuse to justify the corrupting influence of finances of government.

Why lower interest rates on securities in the first place? Why give low-interest rates to investment banks? How does giving 0% interest to banks help the citizenry? These Banks have consistently been using that money to make risky investments and loan it to the American people for a usury profit. outlandish interest rates on credit cards, escalating mortgage rates, and a plethora of high-interest credit lines for the public to consume is the result. Why doesn’t the government loan us the money itself at a low-interest rate, taking out the middleman?  Big banks are the middlemen who turn a huge profit peddling our own government cash to us at a higher rate than the government loaned it to them. Then they higher politicians after office to reward them for their favorable policies.

Figure 2 demonstrates that encouraging investments in the stock market is basically giving money to the rich. The top 1% of wealthy americans own 35-40% of all stocks. The top 20% of all wealthy americans own almost 60% of all stocks. Therefore, an investment in the stock market is bypassing the majority of the people in the middle and working classes prima facie. It benefits them not.

In the crash of 2008 Wall Street made millions in a process that is the legal equivalent to gambling and as a result the middle class has been in recession ever since. Over the several months that ensued, the fallout of 8 million jobs lost was noted. The clear paper trail leads directly to Wall Street financiers who, acting on greed, concocted sub-prime mortgages after lobbying for dysregulation of the finance sector under Allen Greenspan and W. Bush and repealing Glass-Steagall. Their aim: to sell more mortgages and maximize short-term profits for their shareholders.

No mention of justice or punitive measures for the guilty parties have ever been mentioned. No one who committed white-collar crimes has been imprisoned, nor have their assets accrued unjustly been confiscated. People who suffered job losses in the middle and working classes have never been appropriately compensated. Ironically, the rhetoric of “moochers” and “free-loaders” and “the 47% of the country who don’t take responsibility for their lives” continues. The federal stimulus package merely slowed the pace of the recession. It has not improved middle class average incomes, let alone reversed the direction of the recession. Only the rich are profiting again from stock market investments. We are facing the highest levels of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression with the lowest number of people seeking employment since 1979, 63%.  Figure 3 shows how the long-term unemployed level, as a proportion of total population, is at an unprecedented high.

The mortgage bubble bursting caused wide-scale business failure and massive layoffs.  Because average middle class incomes plummeted there was less principle to be taxed by state and local governments, robbing them of their primary source of revenue. Justice would require fact-based appropriations of Wall Street private bank accounts to be tapped for compensating people with foreclosures, firings, failed businesses, and slashed government programs. In reality what happened is that we simply allowed government programs and employment levels to take the hit.

This however introduced a vicious cycle. Because people didn’t have jobs and lost major portions of their income, governments couldn’t tax incomes if they no longer existed. So, governments had to slash programs for which funds had already been earmarked, necessitating a further round of layoffs. And so on and so forth.

Secondly, rising unemployment drives up labor supply while the demand remains stagnant or even declines. Price is determined by the intersection of supply and demand profiles. The result is a significant decrease in the salaries offered for labor, further driving down workers wages. The corporate savings on decreased workers wages and collapsed government union bargaining conduces to further profits for the wealthy.

Compared with today, the government has never employed such a low percentage of the total populace before. This is unprecedented in american history. How detrimental to the welfare of the masses this predicament will be is not clear, except for what is obvious in the reduction in public sector employment. Police, teachers, EMS, and air-traffic controllers have been cut and their families destitute or sinking into poverty without new jobs to replace the old ones.  Table 1 below demonstrates teachers employment dropped almost 6%, policeman over 8%, emergency responders down almost half of what it was, and air traffic controllers down almost 30%. (Please note: Air traffic controllers affect congressmen directly. Therefore,  it appears a hasty bill has been passed to mitigate the effects of the sequester on that particular sector of employment.)

Occupation

Employment (2009)

Employment (2011)

Change in Employment

Percent Change in Employment

Teachers

3,942,700

3,721,938

-220,762

-5.6%

Policemen

666,579

610,427

-56,125

-8.4%

Fire fighters

233,051

277,158

44,107

18.9%

Emergency responders

69,370

39,170

-30,200

-43.5%

Air-traffic controllers

23,959

17,128

-6,831

-28.5%

The decision to bail out the banks in 2008 was based upon the threat that the global economy was infected with illegitimate credit and would collapse if the banks went out of business. Whether or not this was true, does not imply that the only option for the public is to roll over dead and allow the banks to do as they please. Otherwise they will take tax payer bailout billions, and simply continue their pillaging of public wealth. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened. Big banks were bailed out, multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses continued to be awarded, gambling on wall street proceeded unabated, in fact with new vigor and boldness. The banks have actually delved deeper into dangerous practices and have grown in size. If they were too big to fail then, there is no description for how big they are now. The LIBOR scandal and other rigging of global interest rates is another outgrowth of this emboldened attitude after the crisis of 2008. Like a child who never receives discipline, bankers are growing in audacity, and are often in collusion with regulatory mechanisms or simply legislate them away.  Practices of gambling with insured deposit money, partnering with loan sharks, money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist organization, and increasing the monthly dues on homeowners forcing them into premature foreclosure have all proceeded unchecked. Figure 5 illustrates just how much since 2008 nothing has changed to break up big banks or to curb the expeditious use of immoral practices.

As an example of the cancerous degree of the growth of big banks, consider their relationship to, and enabling effect on, wealth inequality – which is a well-documented precipitant of social unrest and civil disobedience. The top hedge fund manager in 2012 reports having “earned” in a single hour the equivalent of what a family would make in 21 years, on average in the united states. Now consider the top 10 hedge fund managers “earned” in 1 year the equivalent of what approximately 200k registered nurses working in hospitals in the US would make combined.

The value of a hedge fund to society is similar to the value of a casino. They have an economy of their own that produces and consumes, but it yields no positive effect on society besides enriching the winners and impoverishing masses. Simple gambling is immoral, but at least is currently legal. A hedge fund manager’s expertise is in concocting schemes to bend rules and obscure crimes, to break the law or to buy it. Illegal insider tips hidden without a traced. High-frequency trading without actually caring about the product of the company invested in. Manipulating stocks with rumors or media. Exploiting tax loopholes. Manufacturing and marketing fraudulent financial products or bundles designed to fail so insurance money can be claimed. These are some of the ways that hedge fund managers break the law, make millions swindling hard-working families, and avoid being caught.

In modern times, radicalism doesn’t just increase in Islamic groups, it increases in political partisanship and financiers as well. Rhetoric and doctrines to support particular agendas become popularized through well-funded campaigns and propaganda,  often amongst rural, uneducated, and unsuspecting populations. Fear mongering and prejudice coupled with bigotry and the promised pleasures of materialism sway the minds of the electorate and purchase voting power in the grass-roots. As a war of civilization rages on the international front, a war of financial radicals pitted against the common weal ranges domestically — lobbied by Halliburton, the NRA, and big banks. Their viciousness is matched only by the fanaticism of the extremists who fight with each other overseas to see who will control oil resources. A philosophy that aggrandizes the ego and glorifies violence is used to seduce people, taking them back to fantasies of boyhood compensation sloganized in the works of 1-dimensional thinkers like Ayn Rand.

The erroneous philosophy of seeing competition, struggle, and war in everything. The juvenile outlook that society consists only of individuals and that government has no place in regulating, legislating, and providing infrastructure. These are the ideas of individuals who do not know what they are saying, and in their ignorance have even steeped to hatred of the poor. Rhetoric, such as “moochers”, “f freeloaders, and “the 47% who do not take responsibility for their lives” deserves no place in a society of mature souls, with spiritual insight, and moral integrity.

Individuals must voluntarily ask that their privileges be suspended if it would serve the common weal and ease the travails of their fellow countrymen. But this is not the interpretation given to the Bible anymore. Albeit, these were the sentiments and explicit intentions of Jesus Christ, Whom this Nation of God-fearing people reveres so much. So how could it be that national discourse has overlooked this striking passage from the mouth of Jesus, “go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Rich and engaging discourse from all sectors on these and other issues of collective importance will raise awareness and educate the masses in the nature of what transpires in the economic and political spheres around them. In self-propelling systems of distance education at the grassroots lies our only hope of an irrepressible movement. Knowledge and spiritual transformation are a light that will illuminate the economic-political axis of darkness, and liberate individuals to love their social institutions fully, reduce the extremes of wealth inequality, and nurture all people without prejudice in a system that rests-assured that the surest path to the protection of any one part is to ensure the prosperity of the whole.

Various economic policy suggestions have been proposed by way of solutions to the dilemmas listed above. In addition to spiritual transformation and grassroots education, practical steps to mitigate short-term damage in the present humanitarian crisis of poverty would do well to consider the following activist opportunities. A Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street financial transactions. This is a matter of justice. Every sale or transaction in the US is subject to sales tax, why is high-stakes multi-national gambling not taxed? It is certainly a sale, and it may even be worthy of a vice tax as well. This is a principled starting point. The tax rate can be increased until the rate of day trading slows down enough to represent a legitimate interest on the part of the investor in the product and mission of any given corporation and sufficient time is allowed for products and initiatives to come to fruition before the stock is deemed worthy of sale or withdrawal. Such a posture is more in keeping with the honest and genuine intentions of an investor seeking to sponsor the business of a corporation. The tax rate on stocks, bonds, and derivatives can be raised until high-frequency trading for example is eliminated. These taxes would be used to offset the damages done to the global infrastructure as a result of scams originating from Wall Street. As a matter of fact, eleven nations have already decided to adopt the Robin Hood tax to govern their own internal stock exchanges. For more information please visit robinhoodtax.org.

Another practical solution is state banks that could compete and replace Wall Street type banks in each of the US’s 50 states. North Dakota  has a State Bank functioning in a transparent, honest, and legitimate service model devoid of corporate shareholdings, illegally maintained profit requirements, and other pressures of financiering. We recommend the erection of 50 public state banks to support local city banks with loans to private citizens to mirror the success seen in the State Bank of North Dakota model. Bankers in these banks, as public servants, receive reasonable, and not extravagant, salaries. It makes sense for the government to give low-interest rate credit to these banks because they pursue the interests of the people, not their own selfish interests. For more information please visit the Public Banking Institute which is led by Ellen Brown and Marc Armstrong. Twenty states are currently exploring this idea with their help. It is morally imperative that conscientious citizens become active in the reform that could improve conditions of economic and social justice in our society. This discourse represents one of many constructive ways to reform Wall Street’s influence on the economy and capitol hill. Justice demands that labor be rewarded with wages, and those wages not be taken by corrupt bankers even if they lobby the law to be written in their favor and can’t be caught. Society needs reform.

“Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.” 
sun trees cold
Categories
- Empowerment - Governance - Science

Weapons – A Statistical Update

It was said:  “It hath been forbidden you to carry arms unless essential” “beyond that which is necessary to insure the internal security of … countries.” Good “people need no weapons of destruction, inasmuch as they have girded themselves to reconstruct the world. Their hosts are the hosts of goodly deeds, and their arms the arms of upright conduct, and their commander the fear of God…Such hath been the patience…the resignation…of this people…that they have suffered themselves to be killed rather than kill.”

The frequency of Gun Rampages (Mass Murders) has gone up each year for the past 10 years, demonstrated by recent research (Figure 1.)

Gun Rampages

There were a record number of mass shootings in 2012. The spike in Gun Rampages coincides with the period 2009-2012 when approx. 100 state laws were passed into legislation making it easier to legally purchase, carry, and conceal firearms. Some examples of these new laws include:

  1. In Missouri, citizens can carry a gun while intoxicated and fire it while intoxicated assuming the motive is “self-defense”
  2. In Kansas, gun permit holders are permitted to carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools
  3. In Utah, an individual under felony indictment is permitted to purchase a gun, and a person charged with a violent crime may retain a concealed weapon permit
  4. In Nebraska, an individual who has pled guilty to a violent crime in the past is allowed to purchase a firearm permit
  5. In Louisiana, permit holders are permitted carry concealed weapons inside houses of worship
  6. In Virginia repealed the law that requires handgun vendors to submit sales records and mandated the disposal of all such previous records on file

(Source: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence)

The deadliness of  each instance of Gun Rampages is increasing as well, in part due to the superior quality fire-power (military grade assault rifles and high-capacity magazines) being used (Figure 2.)

gun rampage annual deaths

The Texas University study calculated statistics that show the majority of Gun Rampages were carried out by men stocking multiple weapons with over 50% of them preferring assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

There were three instances of men who intervened against a shooter out of 83 total Gun Rampages (between 2000-2010). All three men were trained professionals. Two were police officers who were off duty, and 1 was a US Marine. No Gun Rampage was halted by a lay person carrying a privately purchased firearm. Out of 83 total Gun Rampages from 2000 to 2010, the prevalence of personal firearms (300 million in the US) has not contributed to preventing One Gun Rampage incident.

The question now is whether social policy will be shaped by rationality, data, and evidence-based reason, or will manufacturer’s profit margins, a culture of violence and egotism, and political corruption shape the future.

***

“Every means that produces war must be checked and the causes that prevent the occurrence of war be advanced — so that physical conflict may become an impossibility…”

Categories
- Governance - Oppression Development Justice Knowledge

Marx: From Beyond the Grave

The global economy is now in a downward spiral, unemployment is at record highs in country after country, national debt is paralyzing governments, incomes have stagnated for a majority of workers — suddenly the question emerges from Marx’s grave: has capitalism been transformed into feudalism? Is our unregulated approach to capitalism tantamount to enslaving masses in serfdom under feudal lords who own the land/economy in which we work? Is capitalism without regulation inherently unjust and self-destructive? Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic extremes and social conflict between the rich and working classes. “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole” ~Karl Marx.

Karl Marx died and was buried, seemingly along with his philosophy. The collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s prosperity since its emergence to a capitalist economy, sealed the fate of Marx’s philosophy as communism faded into the backdrop of history. The only communists heard of any longer were arch-villains in old James Bond movies, or on the news in the bloated rhetoric of child-emperors like Kim Jong Un. The class conflict that Marx envisioned seemed to have faded and given way to new frontiers of prosperity and unregulated upward advance in laissez fair markets and entrepreneurial globalization. Nothing was to be heard of regulations or the needs of the community as a priority above the sovereign rights of the investor-individual. Communication, international banking, expedited sea and air travel, and merging multi-national economies linked far off and remote corners of the earth with centers of purchasing power and consumption. The bonds produced were ones of lucrative potential and supposed mutual profit. Masses of slave labor forces in China and Indonesia were linked with desperate iPhone’s buyers in the USA through deregulated multi-national transport and finance routes resulting in the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. Borderless economies were the result of dropping international import/export taxes. Farm workers in China were offered more money than they had ever seen before, despite the decimation of their local economies, family structures, health and sanitation conditions, and for far less than US minimum wage. For Silicon Valley tech giants the exploitation proved to be a remarkable benefit to their share holders. Less than 1% of Americans own over 50% of all stocks and bonds currently. Therefore, the mega rich effectively empowered their corporations to exploit the labor forces of distant economies for the century’s greatest instance of profiteering. The GDP, CEO salaries, stock values, corporate profits, and owner’s incomes all reflected this astronomical concentration of human wealth into the hands of the greedy few. This new oligarchy has become the modern version of Feudal lords. They own the land. We just work on it. All the rest who work for productivity-based wages are the masses of serfdom who toil in their service.

In the past, feudal lords maintained their dominance by force. Nowadays, the oligarchy keeps the situation alive with myths of social mobility and propaganda that convince people they can get rich as long as they work hard. Try as they might, however, people are beginning to realize that they work for a system that gives them no meaningful share of the profits they create. They will always be employed by the system, never owners of their own system. Moreover, their wages were shrinking given the rise in inflation, with no compensation in income or minimum wage. Additionally, an increased intensity of work demand was not earning anything more than the toil they endured day in and day out. Finally it dawned on them that social mobility was a myth designed to pacify the modern version of serfdom.

The owners of the system were an oligarchy that owned the rights and deeds to all land and profits and performed no work in the system themselves. The system ran on the backs and sweat of the slave labor class. Nothing seemed capable of hindering the political and economic machinery by which the super-rich concentrated all the world’s wealth into their hands, and relegated the burden of production and society-building to the poor and working classes. Capitalism now seems to be fulfilling Karl Marx’s long out-dated warning — that inherent to the system of personal self-interest and social non-responsibility there would arise a super-class of corporate tycoons, who purchasing the legislative powers of the state would employ the apparatus of government to their own greedy ends. The result: squeezing the masses of their labor and rewards and expanding extremes of wealth and poverty.

Wealth inequality would cause wide-scale poverty and privation of the necessities of life. The suffering would increase until a large enough majority were severely discontent. When social unrest can no longer be contained, a tide of populist uprisings would sweep the economic and political landscape stripping the wealthy of their lands and lives. As the feudal lords scramble to flee with what hoards of treasure they can steal with them, they take up foreign abodes and island resorts in exile.  The blood of the bourgeoisie fills the streets and guillotines follow swiftly upon kangaroo courts for the opulent princes and nobility that remain behind. The popular uprising supplants the political status quo with a government that rules by the people, of the people, and for the people.

Marx’s theories must echo loudly in our times faced with the reality of oligarchs that influence US politics, corporations that lobby legislation, and workers that are increasingly dissatisfied with their wages. Social change and willing progress towards economic justice is the only hope to a peaceful resolution of the dilemma. Justice demands conscientious insight into the needs of the community, and the rights of the public ought to be safeguarded against the excesses of individual greed. Otherwise, Marx’s philosophy is dangerously close to becoming a reality. Proactive, conscientious, and moral legislation will be needed to correct the excesses of this irresponsibly deregulated economy.

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are getting poorer. A September 2011 study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington noted that the median annual earnings of a full-time, male worker in the U.S. in 2011 was $48,202 which is less than it was in 1973 given the rate of inflation. Between 1983 and 2010, 74% of the gains in wealth in the U.S. flowed directly into the bank accounts of the richest 5% of Americans, while the bottom 60% suffered a decline in take-home pay.

Marx’s critique of unregulated capitalism appears to be coming true. It is easy to criticize. Marx’s solution seems not to have fared so well. Communist governments have failed miserably in historical examples from the collapse of the USSR to the mass poverty of China in the late 20th century. The conclusion may be obvious: Marx’s criticisms of capitalism were valuable, but his solution, communism, is not (private property is needed for incentivizing labor). As with many 19th century anti-establishment critiques, Marx’s criticisms were insightful, factual, and valuable. However, as with almost all of the 19th century post-modern critics, he had more effective criticisms than he had solutions. We can say that now, with the testimony of China and Russia in hindsight. Marxism, Communism, Socialism remain an informative category through which to deconstruct the inefficiencies of our current economic establishment, but not reliable methods for enacting responsible and positive change for the future. Marxian class theory remains an invaluable lens through which to view the struggles of laborers world-wide, as well as a wonderful insight into the dangers of unbridled capitalism which allows the extremes of wealth and poverty to invoke social unrest. Revolution by the hands of an enraged proletariat is no trifling matter, and deserves to be preempted in the stage of social unrest in which rests now, before the suffering of the masses draws out frank violence and revolution. “There is only one way to shorten and ease the convulsions of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new – revolutionary terror”, wrote Marx.

Workers of the world are growing discontent and belligerent, demanding their share of the increases accrued to the global economy. From the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to the streets of Athens to the assembly lines of southern China, political and economic events are escalating tensions between sectors of capital and of labor to a degree hitherto unseen since the communist revolutions that rocked the 20th century. How this struggle plays out will influence the direction of global economic policy, the future of the welfare state, political stability in China, and who governs regions from Washington to Rome.

Tensions between economic classes are on the rise. Slogans encapsulate entire movements, such as “99%” (the masses or majority working class people) juxtaposed against the top “1%” (the wealthy, elite owners of corporations and big oil, who are connected politically). A Pew Research Center poll released last year showed that 2/3 of US inhabitants said they believed the country suffered from a “strong” or “very strong” conflict between rich people and poor people. In 2011 this was ranked as the most significant division characterizing US society, giving it a 19% increase in popular conception since the same study in 2009.

The modern US political discourse is being ambushed with a preoccupation with the concept “debt” which represents the cumulative excess expenditure accrued over all previous years through the addition of each year’s fiscal budget “deficit.” Deficit is another term of central importance to the debate. The deficit is the difference between the revenue and the expenditures of the US government annually, and each annual deficit funnels into the cumulative national debt. Revenue is the product of 1) taxation, and the total GDP of the economy that year, because more product means more incomes, which provides a larger sized principal to be taxed. Expenditure is the sum of costs such as wars, military spending, infrastructure, health care, medicare/Medicaid, research and investment, roads and construction, congressional operating budgets, etc.

The issue of debt has dominated the discourse as a result of proponents who wish to bias the categories of discussion towards downsizing and weakening the government, its domestic offices and their functions of regulating business  and representing the interests of the public. The reality is that the issue of “Debt” is not even among the top 3 most important issues facing modern US economics today.  Unemployment is #1. Two wars, a deregulated sub-prime mortgage bubble, and an unemployment rate close to 7.7% (Bureau of Labor statistic) is the root cause of deficits, debts, poverty, social unrest, and class distrust. More people working implies less unemployment entitlements doled out and more working individuals available to be taxed by the IRS. Reducing unemployment to 5-6% for example is the single most important way to improve people’s social status, personal well-being, healthcare, happiness and it will solve the budget, debt, and deficit problems. A working person has money to spend on stimulating the economy, receives health insurance from her employers, and has income that can be taxed by the federal government. Reducing unemployment should be the #1 economic policy interest of the US government and electorates who vote for congressional office. Improving the quality of employment, wages, insurance benefits, and investing in research and education that will train the next generation of skilled laborers and scientists is the surest way for preparing for sustainable economic prosperity in the long run.

Discourse on this topic has been largely politicized along partisan talking points that obscure the true intent of the speaker behind vague platitudinous of American patriotism which prevent an honest exchange that can actually lead to consensus in public opinion. Obscurantism serves the interests of those who benefit from popular disunity. To eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty, Marx explains, the state will have to tax wealth that is sitting idle and not being re-invested in the infrastructure of the economy. Funding for universities, research, roads, services, and healthcare lay the societal foundations for future prosperity. Wealth that sits idle in personal bank accounts or is used for extravagant personal entertainment does not trickle down to training skilled labor forces or improving healthcare cost-effectiveness. Finally, wealth that is being shuffled around thousands of times per second in un-taxed high-finance stock exchanges especially in the case of derivatives, short-sales, and futures is not only not contributing to the common weal, it is diverting resources away from productive sectors of the economy, and instilling dangerous volatility into the overall health and stability of the global economy, viz. the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis for which the middle class is still fitting the bill.  Stock exchange purchases and sales should be taxed just like any other sale or purchase of goods on the market. That would slow down the rate of trading that has a proclivity to enabling gambling and irresponsible practices of financiers and wall-street market riggers, as well as generating an additional source of income for the federal government.

Cutting health care services simply drives the cost of living higher for the working class. This makes it essential for maintaining the overall health and stability of the workforce that the government tax corporate profits which corporations refuse to translate into increased worker’s wages and utilize those usury incomes for the benefit of the public in social services and reinforcing national infrastructure. An injured or sickly laborer cannot earn profits for corporations or himself, but the short-sightedness of quarterly profit margins blinds corporate boards to the social reality that they are driving the working class into the ground. This slavery is a subjugation from which there is either no return but poverty, or the return that no one wants but which Marx prophesied.

Amid the rhetoric of “Trickle-down” economics, which insists that the success of the 1% will benefit the 99%, the masses of the electorate have come to seriously question the underlying logic. Every working man and woman senses something amiss about this logic. However, we are told that if we tax the rich we will incur the wrath of their out-sourcing manufacturing  jobs to overseas, and they will move their capital and investments elsewhere. Perhaps some corporations will, but wherever they go, that place will soon suffer the unjust exploitation corporations bring with them. One by one the nations of the world will have to turn to a more regulated form of capitalism under pressure from labor forces awakening to their rights as co-creators of the economic productivity of a company. Dissatisfied and exploited workers in all societies will vote out their incumbent leaders who have been corrupted by lobbyists, and governments more representative of the interests of the people will emerge as the staple of national leadership.

Globalization can be seen as a transitional stage for countries that are coming to learn the benefit of regulating capitalist businesses. Inevitably, as each nation experiences in their own turn the downside and travesties of corporate exploitation of the masses and as their workers become more educated from the internet and a collapsing global flow of information the havens for corporate outsourcing will dwindle. So long as the masses retain their democratic voting power, the unification of the globe in a common economic policy that protects the laborer, is inevitable. The rich will run from country to country, seeking those that will welcome their corruption in their politics and legislate tax codes in their favor, but when those last few countries are reformed by an increasingly enlightened electorate who vote for the people’s representatives, there will be nowhere for the rich to take their exploitative business practices. No country will want them to exploit their masses for fear of the people’s wrath in democratic elections. Eventually, there will exist no safe haven in which multi-national corporations can perpetrate their exploitation of underpaid labor and ship the products to developed countries where consumers will fund their enterprise. Products will have to be manufactured locally.

Through shared travails and common experiences at the hands of exploitative corporations the people of the world are being drawn into under one economic policy, that protects the labor force from unjust exploitation. As for the present day, when the rich threaten to take their business elsewhere, on principle the workers must respond, “Go ahead. There are a finite number of places to which you can flee, and the day is approaching when you will not be welcome anywhere. On that day, no leader will be open to your corruption, because the eyes of a democratic electorate are trained upon them.” Any manner of bargaining with corruption simply makes that corruption more emboldened and virulent.

The rich-poor class struggle is more severe in China, where workers no longer enjoy the job-security promised under a communist regime, but did not gain a capitalist government that cares regulate worker-conditions or wages. Along with the lack of environmental regulations, workers rights legislation, freedom to protest of assemble, lack of free press, and absent manufacturing quality standards, China has seen an explosive expansion of air pollution, toxic contaminations, worker suicides, biohazard outbreaks, and lead and heavy metals in children’s toys. Obama and the newly elected President of China, Xi Jinping, face similar challenges related to the intersection of workers rights and oligarchical influence over government demanding unbridled economic freedom for exploitative practices, although the situation in China is more pronounced.

Marx’s warnings do not just apply to slow-growing, debt-ridden, industrialized economies in the West but also to rapidly expanding, emerging markets, such as China.  In China workers have few rights, wages are minimal, infrastructure is not provided, and the disparity between the rich and the poor is sky-rocketing. Resentment is reaching a boiling point in factory towns due to increasing hours, rising costs, oppressive management, and overdue paychecks. The rise of Marx’s proletariat can be heard echoing in the cries for justice that ring in the hallways where workers commit suicide. Tension between rich and poor is becoming a primary concern for policymakers the world over.

Internet access enlightens millions of youth that global conditions and expectations are changing. The free flow of information clues people into the fact that millionaires are partying with profits made on laborers efforts, while they are paid less than minimum wage. Through this rising consciousness, movements for social justice are laying the foundations for long-term and more egalitarian forms of prosperity. Factory workers feel a spiritual and moral righteousness in demanding humane working conditions and equitable pay in light of a sense of global solidarity, as well as their level of productivity relative to the salary of their CEO. The internet makes all of these concepts freely available and the revolution is therefore inevitable.

The democratization of knowledge is one of the most powerful forces of humanity’s collective maturation, and is soon to be recognized for its value as a force superior to that of economic growth. Knowledge and its free access and dissemination and productions should be recognized as the central pillar of human society, and the fulcrum round which society and its economy and government turn. Knowledge and its associated systems for generation and dissemination like universities, research labs, and the internet, will soon supplant monetary wealth as the true measures of power and value.  Monetary wealth is of short-term value, whereas systems for the democratization of knowledge can lay the foundation for national economic and social prosperity for centuries. Knowledge achieves this power by being entailing an attitude of empowerment and collective problem solve. As such democratic knowledge generation is a renewable resource with limitless applications. Moving beyond corporate dominance and financial influence in politics there will be an era in which monetary power is not only considered irrelevant to social decision-making and change, but we will see the rise of knowledge, and those who know how to generate and apply it, to the helm of decision-making, change, and authority.

Marx’s class theory foresaw much of our current class struggle. However, a violent revolution, as he prescribes, is not the way forward. Violence begets violence and does not lay the foundation for a just and prosperous future.  Laborers are increasingly agitated. Tens of thousands have protested in Madrid and Athens, bemoaning the stratospheric unemployment rates and austerity measures that best them. Marx encouraged this sort of protest, saying “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.” He went to on to explain that change can only be attained by a forcible overthrow of social structures. This however is not the case. And it makes it all the more imperative that peaceful solutions be reached in a reasonable time frame, before suffering consumes more souls in scale and severity, and social unrest produces violent revolution. It is important for all of us to act now, before Marx’s proletarian revolution becomes a reality.

Unions have not been able to be part of solution in large part due to their bureaucratization. In fact, many workers have abandoned unions in recent times. Populous demonstrations like the “Occupy” movement demonstrate the expansiveness of the discontent and the severity of those affected, nevertheless such movements lack the rational discourse to accompany their views in the public domain, not to mention lacking the institutional influence to see any substantive change. Most of those affected seek a peaceful reformation of the existing government institutions, tax codes,  spending priorities, and economic regulations that themselves are actually in the system’s best long-term interests for a viable and sustainable economic posterity.

The US congress is held hostage by corporate-owned votes and lobbyists, China’s government does not know how to rectify wide-spread corruption, Europe is approaching unemployment with economic policies that decrease government spending instead of stimulating growth, Italy, Spain, Greece and Cyprus are being forced to accept austerity measures for workers and further deregulate their economies, and national unions have collapsed under the threat of out-sourcing jobs overseas.

The solution is an international labor union, across all national borders. Thereby corporations will be unable to exploit people by threatening to take jobs overseas. In the long run, the economic unification of the planet is inevitable to defend against dangers such as this. It is best to be pro-active and support a preemptive international movement for standardization of laborers wages and rights of sanitation and working conditions across national borders.

The political spectrum of left-right wing supporters is now heavily biased towards the right. The left of yesterday is the center-right of today. And the right of yesterday is the fascism of today. It really raises concerns for what tomorrow’s political radicals will bring.

Marx’s class theory helps us understand the problems of class struggle today, but we need to unite as a global economy with a universal scope to our laws and policies, with an equal emphasis on corruption-free legislation at the national and international levels, to be able to address the challenges confronting the labor and capital markets of the 21st century.

“Let your vision be world embracing”

vision be world embracing

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Discourse Health Care Justice Oneness

Don’t Regulate Guns: Arm the Children!

Fire arms enable tragedy in a way that no other technology does. Where guns are absent, tragedies and destruction are less. Where people possess fire arms, homicide,  suicide, and mass shootings are more prevalent. Why do we need guns? We don’t. We enjoy guns for recreational purposes. What about defense? Possession of a fire arm does not deter other people from shooting you. Self-restraint isn’t inculcated by fear of retaliation. Rational foresight isn’t a strong suit of the violent. What about the 2nd amendment? The freedom to bear arms applied to (a) musket technology of the 1700’s, and (b) farmers who resisted government occupation by force. Muskets fire few shots per minute. Modern hand guns and semi-automatic machine guns were not envisioned by the founding fathers. Who today would seriously entertain the idea that guns help deter wrong deeds committed by the government? The government could commit a host of financial fraud in league with wall street to rob a majority of american home-owners of their pensions, and there’s nothing that guns would do about it. The government is tyrannical in its corruption to corporate tycoons and NRA lobbyists, but guns ironically aren’t the solution to that: they’re the result. Modern governments are tyrannical in a non-military fashion; therefore owning weapons isn’t the solution. A discourse on the influence of finances in congress would do more good. The 2nd amendment is outdated. Society evolves; so should the constitution. Civil servants should have to make a sacrifice to hold their office to ensure their incentive is strictly the common good. Total personal income for congressmen should be capped by the IRS at a modest quantity to flush out those who seek public office for personal gain. Lobbyists would lose interest and general welfare would be the only motive left for congressmen. To serve civil society is a responsibility and a sacrifice, not an accomplishment and a lottery ticket. Periodic massacre’s are not the price of freedom, but the outgrowth of anarchy.

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Olivia Engel

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