Tag Archives: social inequality

Defend the Greek workers! Oppose the diktat of Schäuble and Merkel!

By Partei für Soziale Gleichheit
July 14, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG—Socialist Equality Party) denounces the agreement forced on Greece by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble at Sunday’s euro group summit. We call upon workers in Germany and throughout Europe to declare their solidarity with the workers in Greece and organize mass resistance to the policies of the German government.

The new austerity demands, to which the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras capitulated on Monday morning, go far beyond the measures the Greek population rejected, by a large majority, in the referendum held just one week before. For millions of Greeks, the implementation of these measures means poverty, unemployment, disease and even death. Greece will be transformed into a de facto protectorate of Germany and the most powerful European financial interests.

The troika (European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) is returning to Athens and will dictate government policy. The role of parliament is to be reduced to rubber-stamping austerity measures and signing off on automatic budget cuts. State property valued at €50 billion will be transferred to a fund, to be sold off to the highest bidder, modeled on the Treuhandanstalt, set up in 1990 to liquidate state property in East Germany.

The agreement amounts to a carte blanche for the ruthless exploitation and plundering of the Greek working class.

Even establishment commentators could not overlook the agreement’s undemocratic character. In the Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau accused Greece’s creditors of reverting to “the nationalist European power struggles of the 19th and early 20th century” and transforming the euro zone into a system “run in the interests of Germany” and “held together by the threat of absolute destitution for those who challenge the prevailing order.”

Paul Krugman in the New York Times accused the euro group of “pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief.”

The brutal actions of Schäuble and Merkel recall the darkest chapter in German history. Less than seventy-five years have passed since Hitler’s Wehrmacht occupied Greece, established a brutal regime of terror, and ruthlessly plundered the country. The imposition of high occupation costs, the export of virtually all of Greece’s industrial goods, and the theft of machinery and vehicles led to a famine that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

The Wehrmacht responded to resistance from partisan fighters by massacring the inhabitants of numerous villages, including Distomo, Lingiades and Kommeno. At least 30,000 civilians fell victim to these reprisals. Eight thousand Jews were deported and murdered, and the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, one of the world’s oldest, was completely wiped out. None of the victims were ever compensated, and virtually none of the perpetrators were punished.

Schäuble and Merkel are now walking in the footsteps of their predecessors. The German ruling class is spewing forth all the undigested filth of the past. Their arrogance suggests that they see themselves, once again, as Europe’s master race.

The politicians are supported by a spineless press, for which no cliché or prejudice is too cheap to be hurled at the Greek people. The media spread propaganda and do everything in their power to confuse and mislead the public.

The government also relies on historians such as Jörg Baberowski of Humboldt University, who falsifies history to trivialise German crimes in World War II. It is backed by economists, who declare the impoverishment of the Greek working class a historical necessity, and political scientists, such as Herfried Münkler, who formulates the political arguments for German hegemony in Europe.

All of the parties represented in the German parliament support the government. The Social Democratic (SPD) chairman Sigmar Gabriel has led the way, seeking to outdo Schäuble and Merkel from the right.

They are all convinced that history has been forgotten. But they are deceiving themselves. The working class of Greece, Germany and Europe cannot and will not allow them to repeat Germany’s historic crimes.

The German government is pursuing two goals in its aggressive actions in Greece. It intends to set an example to intimidate all resistance to its austerity course in Europe and Germany. And it seeks to strengthen its hegemonic domination of Europe.

By the time of the 2008 financial crisis, the government had decided that Germany could no longer maintain its dominance through compromises and financial assistance. Germany had to become, in the words of Münkler, Europe’s “taskmaster,” instead of its “paymaster.” Early last year, leading government officials demanded that Germany play a role in Europe and the world that corresponded to its actual influence.

This new great power politics was first tested out in Ukraine, where the German government backed the pro-Western coup that has driven the country to civil war and brought NATO to the brink of a military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. These same policies are being continued in what amounts to a civilian coup in Athens.

The face of the European Union has been transformed in the process. It is becoming ever more obvious that the EU is not a mechanism for the peaceful coexistence of Europe’s peoples, but rather an instrument for the predominance of the most powerful imperialist powers and the ruthless exploitation of the working class. Masses of people now view the EU with a mixture of disgust and hatred.

The more openly Germany uses the EU to attain the position of a world power, the more intense the national conflicts within Europe become—above all between Germany and France. Prior to Sunday’s summit there were sharp exchanges between Berlin and Paris, which, due to domestic political considerations, was favoring a more conciliatory course towards Greece. The French government eventually submitted to Germany’s dictates because it fears the threat from its own working class much more than it fears German hegemony. These tensions, however, will flare up again, as will the developing conflict between the US and Germany over who will control Europe.

It is the task of the working class in Germany and throughout Europe to oppose these dangerous actions, which threaten to plunge the working class into desperate poverty, and the continent, once again, into war and dictatorship. To this end, it is vital to draw the lessons of the events in Greece and the role played by Syriza.

It is hard to find a parallel in history to the cowardly and shameful betrayal carried out in the past few days by Tsipras and his government. Elected in January on the basis of a promise to end austerity, Tspiras’ party made one concession after another to Berlin and Brussels.

Finally, it organized a referendum, hoping that a majority would favour the EU-backed austerity measures. Confronted, instead, with an overwhelming majority against austerity, it capitulated completely to the German diktat within a week. Even a right-wing bourgeois government would not have gone so far.

This surrender confirms the PSG’s assessment that Syriza is not a left, and certainly not a socialist, party, but rather a pseudo-left organization representing wealthy, selfish middle class layers primarily concerned with their own well-being. They have nothing but contempt for the working class, which they fear. Their capitulation is grist for the mill of far-right extremists such as Golden Dawn, which, from a reactionary, nationalist standpoint, poses as a more determined opponent of the dictates of Brussels and Berlin than does the supposedly “left” Syriza.

What is true for Syriza also applies, as well, to its international co-thinkers, including the Left Party in Germany and Podemos in Spain.

The Left Party bears immense responsibility for the fate of Greece. In February, it voted for the “aid program” for Greece, including the austerity measures attached to it. Occasionally it criticizes the policies of the German government, in order to maintain a shred of credibility, but it has done absolutely nothing to support the Greek workers.

It has refused to organize a single demonstration in their defense. If the Left Party assumes power in Berlin, it will pursue the same course as Syriza. This has already been proven by its record in power at the state level.

The Left Party works closely with the trade unions, which have sought to aid the German government by shutting down and selling out strikes by train drivers, postal and daycare workers, hospital employees and other professionals.

The working class of Germany must rise to the defense of its class brothers and sisters in Greece. The PSG calls upon all workers involved in social struggles, all young people and the entire working population: Support the Greek workers! Organize solidarity strikes against the dictates of Schäuble and Merkel! Break with the Left Party and the SPD and organize independently!

The fundamental question is the necessity of building a revolutionary leadership—in Greece, Germany and throughout the European continent. Join the PSG, the German section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, and build sections of the ICFI all over Europe that will fight for the unity of the European working class and the establishment of the United Socialist States of Europe!

 

 

Why American Presidents are so Rotten

By F. William Engdahl
July 13, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

242342342What few people inside or outside the United States grasp is the fundamental transformation of US politics, especially since the 1970’s, from political parties with stable mass-based constituencies to two parties bought lock, stock and barrel by a handful of American oligarchs with one agenda—the advancement of the interests of those same oligarchs regardless of the social consequences. Next year, 2016 is a Presidential election year. Already so-called front-runners are being proclaimed by mainstream media. It has nothing to do with genuine voter support but rather with the money behind Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush.

To understand this transformation makes clearer why the United States and their Washington politicians have become some of the most despised and ridiculed in the world today and why recent presidents from Ronald Reagan through to Barack Obama have been so morally rotten.

A key part of the transformation of America has come from extraordinary Supreme Court rulings. The country has gone from a country and political system where bipartisan consensus and cooperation on legislation in Washington was the hallmark of Washington politics, to the present undemocratic state. Today ultimately there is not a dime’s difference between major candidates—Democrat or Republican. This is because there has been a series of Supreme Court rulings and laws that virtually eliminate what used to be strict limits on how much money individuals and special interest groups could give to get their candidate elected.

Creation of the American Oligarchy

Because of changes introduced in the 1980’s from the Bush-Reagan presidencies the amount of tax exemptions enjoyed by the highest income group has soared while burdens on what was once the stable middle class in income has been squeezed severely over the past three decades. As of 2010 the richest 400 Americans–people like Bill Gates, George Soros, Ted Turner, Warren Buffett, David Rockefeller—had more assets than half of all Americans.

While the average incomes of the top 20 percent in the United States grew by 43 percent in inflation-adjusted terms between 1979 and 2012, the average incomes of those in the middle 60 percent grew by only 10 percent, and the incomes of the bottom 20 percent actually fell by 3 percent. The top rapidly pulled away from the middle, while the bottom simultaneously fell further behind.

The financial crisis that exploded in 2007 with the bursting of the housing bubble devastated the middle class while tax laws enacted after 2008 helped the top 10%. The period since the first Ronald Reagan presidency in 1981 has seen the phenomenal rise of a genuine American oligarchy. The Greek word oligarchy means a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a few. It can be an oligarchy of royalty. In America today it is an oligarchy of wealth. This is the background to the dangerous developments in US election campaign financing.

No limits…

Since 1979 the US Supreme Court has handed down decisions that have literally opened the floodgates to the oligarchs’ takeover of elections.

After the Nixon Watergate campaign scandal in 1974 Congress passed amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act. The amendments created a bipartisan Federal Election Commission (FEC), to oversee and enforce the law that initially set limits to total costs of federal campaigns. The act set up disclosure requirements for federal candidates, political parties, and political action committees of donations. On the surface all looked well and good. Political elections would be monitored strictly to prevent big money interests from buying elections.

Then in 1979 Congress made amendments to the FECA law that opened a giant financing loophole in the once strict FECA. A loophole allowed individuals, unions, and corporations to give unlimited sums to parties and national party committees for “party-building” purposes. These donations are known as “soft money.”

That was not enough for some special interests. They wanted to be certain they could push the “little man” out of politics with their money, along the motto “Who pays the piper calls the tune.”

In 2007 during the George W. Bush administration the Supreme Court took up the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life. The Court ruled, 5—4, that bans on ads paid for by corporations or unions in the weeks leading up to an election are an unconstitutional restriction on the right to advocate on an issue. “Discussion of issues cannot be suppressed simply because the issues may also be pertinent in an election,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Then, in 2010 during the Obama first term, the Supreme Court ruled, 5–4, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations, unions, and other groups for political campaigns, maintaining that it’s their First Amendment right to support candidates as they choose. The US Constitution’s First Amendment in the Bill of Rights prohibits Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.

In the majority decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the astonishing conclusion, “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” The decision gave rise to a proliferation of “super PACs” or Political Action Committees that opened the floodgates for unlimited amounts of money to be poured into political campaigns.

The consequences of these successive rulings has been the soaring costs of all public elections, meaning that only candidates who can woo the big money from Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, Monsanto and the agribusiness lobby and private billionaires have a chance to win. No chance for a maverick like Ron Paul or son Rand Paul or Bernie Sanders.

‘Dark money’ now has free speech right

Now the Republicans in the US Congress have just passed a new law that insures that so-called “dark money” will remain dark. Dark money refers to money that passes through supposedly non-political social welfare non-profit organizations, such as the Koch Brothers’ Crossroads GPS or the League of Conservation Voters, and is therefore free from disclosure.

On June 17, the House Appropriations Committee passed the 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. It included provisions that ensure that the so-called “dark money” of elections remains very dark. Section 129 of the bill prevents the IRS from making any investigation whether these social welfare groups are acting exclusively for social welfare; Section 625 prevents the SEC from requiring disclosure of political donations for publicly traded companies; Section 735 prevents a rule that requires government contractors disclose their contributions to political groups, nonprofits, and trade unions.

A closer look at the various candidates for the 2016 Presidential nominations in both Republican and Democratic parties reveals the shocking reality that almost every single one has backing of one or more American billionaires—not millionaires, but billionaires.

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, behind the controversial Keystone oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, neo-conservatives who sit on the board of the American Enterprise Institute think tank, have publicly vowed to spend nearly $900 million to influence election races in 2016. Billionaires George Soros and Alice Walton, a Walmart heiress, back the ‘Ready for Hillary’ PAC, backing Hillary Clinton. Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign was backed by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, also a financier of Israel’s Netanyahu. Republican “golden boy,” Jeb Bush, is backed by numerous billionaires, many from Wall Street like Henry Kravis.

With the latest dark money law, most Americans will have no clue who is buying which candidate but we can be sure both candidates, Democrat and Republican, will be backed by the financial networks of this American money oligarchy. Little wonder that recent American politics—domestic and foreign have been so rotten. These days we get what they pay for…

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 

The Problem of Greece Is Not Only a Tragedy. It Is a Lie

By John Pilger
July 13, 2015
Global Research

 

greeceAn historic betrayal has consumed Greece. Having set aside the mandate of the Greek electorate, the Syriza government has willfully ignored last week’s landslide “No” vote and secretly agreed a raft of repressive, impoverishing measures in return for a “bailout” that means sinister foreign control and a warning to the world.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pushed through parliament a proposal to cut at least 13 billion euros from the public purse – 4 billion euros more than the “austerity” figure rejected overwhelmingly by the majority of the Greek population in a referendum on 5 July.

These reportedly include a 50 per cent increase in the cost of healthcare for pensioners, almost 40 per cent of whom live in poverty; deep cuts in public sector wages; the complete privatization of public facilities such as airports and ports; a rise in value added tax to 23 per cent, now applied to the Greek islands where people struggle to eke out a living. There is more to come.

“Anti-austerity party sweeps to stunning victory”, declared aGuardian headline on January 25. “Radical leftists” the paper called Tsipras and his impressively-educated comrades.  They wore open neck shirts, and the finance minister rode a motorbike and was described as a “rock star of economics”. It was a façade. They were not radical in any sense of that cliched label, neither were they “anti austerity”.

For six months Tsipras and the recently discarded finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, shuttled between Athens and Brussels, Berlin and the other centres of European money power. Instead of social justice for Greece, they achieved a new indebtedness, a deeper impoverishment that would merely replace a systemic rottenness based on the theft of tax revenue by the Greek super-wealthy – in accordance with European “neo-liberal” values — and cheap, highly profitable loans from those now seeking Greece’s scalp.

Greece’s debt, reports an audit by the Greek parliament, “is illegal, illegitimate and odious”. Proportionally, it is less than 30 per cent that of the debit of Germany, its major creditor. It is less than the debt of European banks whose “bailout” in 2007-8 was barely controversial and unpunished.

For a small country such as Greece, the euro is a colonial currency: a tether to a capitalist ideology so extreme that even the Pope pronounces it “intolerable” and “the dung of the devil”. The euro is to Greece what the US dollar is to remote territories in the Pacific, whose poverty and servility is guaranteed by their dependency.

In their travels to the court of the mighty in Brussels and Berlin, Tsipras and Varoufakis presented themselves neither as radicals nor “leftists” nor even honest social democrats, but as two slightly upstart supplicants in their pleas and demands. Without underestimating the hostility they faced, it is fair to say they displayed no political courage. More than once, the Greek people found out about their “secret austerity plans” in leaks to the media: such as a 30 June letter published in the Financial Times, in which Tsipras promised the heads of the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF to accept their basic, most vicious demands – which he has now accepted.

When the Greek electorate voted “no” on 5 July to this very kind of rotten deal, Tsipras said, “Come Monday and the Greek government will be at the negotiating table after the referendum with better terms for the Greek people”. Greeks had not voted for “better terms”. They had voted for justice and for sovereignty, as they had done on January 25.

The day after the January election a truly democratic and, yes, radical government would have stopped every euro leaving the country, repudiated the “illegal and odious” debt – as Argentina did successfully — and expedited a plan to leave the crippling Eurozone. But there was no plan. There was only a willingness to be “at the table” seeking “better terms”.

The true nature of Syriza has been seldom examined and explained. To the foreign media it is no more than “leftist” or “far left” or “hardline” – the usual misleading spray. Some of Syriza’s international supporters have reached, at times, levels of cheer leading reminiscent of the rise of Barack Obama. Few have asked: Who are these “radicals”? What do they believe in?

In 2013, Yanis Varoufakis wrote:

“Should we welcome this crisis of European capitalism as an opportunity to replace it with a better system? Or should we be so worried about it as to embark upon a campaign for stabilising capitalism? To me, the answer is clear. Europe’s crisis is far less likely to give birth to a better alternative to capitalism …

“I bow to the criticism that I have campaigned on an agenda founded on the assumption that the left was, and remains, squarely defeated …. Yes, I would love to put forward [a] radical agenda. But, no, I am not prepared to commit the [error of the British Labour Party following Thatcher’s victory].

“What good did we achieve in Britain in the early 1980s by promoting an agenda of socialist change that British society scorned while falling headlong into Thatcher’s neoliberal trip? Precisely none. What good will it do today to call for a dismantling of the Eurozone, of the European Union itself  …?”

Varoufakis omits all mention of the Social Democratic Party that split the Labour vote and led to Blairism. In suggesting people in Britain “scorned socialist change” – when they were given no real opportunity to bring about that change – he echoes Blair.

The leaders of Syriza are revolutionaries of a kind – but their revolution is the perverse, familiar appropriation of social democratic and parliamentary movements by liberals groomed to comply with neo-liberal drivel and a social engineering whose authentic face is that of Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister, an imperial thug. Like the Labour Party in Britain and its equivalents among those former social democratic parties still describing themselves as “liberal” or even “left”,  Syriza is the product of an affluent, highly privileged, educated middle class, “schooled in postmodernism”, as Alex Lantier wrote.

For them, class is the unmentionable, let alone an enduring struggle, regardless of the reality of the lives of most human beings. Syriza’s luminaries are well-groomed; they lead not the resistance that ordinary people crave, as the Greek electorate has so bravely demonstrated, but “better terms” of a venal status quo that corrals and punishes the poor. When merged with “identity politics” and its insidious distractions, the consequence is not resistance, but subservience. “Mainstream” political life in Britain exemplifies this.

This is not inevitable, a done deal, if we wake up from the long, postmodern coma and reject the myths and deceptions of those who claim to represent us, and fight.

Pew report: 84 percent of world population subsists on under $20 per day

By Andre Damon
July 11, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Despite significant advances in communications, agriculture and bio-technology over the past 15 years, the overwhelming majority of the world population continues to live in economic privation, according to a report on global incomes published this week by the Pew Research Center.

The report, entitled “A Global Middle Class is More Promise than Reality,” classifies 71 percent of the world population as either poor or low-income, subsisting on less than $10 per day. The report concludes that 84 percent lives on less than $20 per day, or $7,300 per year, an income level associated with “deep poverty” in developed countries.

Only seven percent of the world population lives on what the report calls a “high” income level of more than $50 per day, or $18,000 per year. The great majority of these people live in Europe or America.

In the years following the turn of the millennium, and especially before the 2008 financial crash, the supposed emergence of a new “global middle class,” particularly in developing countries, was touted by the political establishment as proof that the capitalist system was capable of bringing economic prosperity to people living in poverty in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The Pew report pours cold water on such claims. “The global middle class is smaller than we think, it is less well off than we think, and it is more regionally concentrated than we think,” Rakesh Kochhar, the study’s lead author, told the Financial Times .

The report finds that even countries that “sharply” reduced the worst forms of poverty “experienced little change in the share of middle-income populations.” While the report notes that there has been a reduction in the number of people living on less than $2 per day, it points out that those who have ascended from the lowest depths have for the most part landed in the “low-income” category of $2-10 per day—a level that would classify them as living in extreme poverty by US standards.

The report uses the latest purchasing power parity data to analyze and compare the distribution of incomes throughout the world. It covers 111 countries, which account for 88 percent of the world’s population, and spans the years 2001 through 2011.

Over that period, the share of the world’s population classified as “upper-middle income,” making between $20 and $50 per day, grew from 7 percent to 9 percent. This was significantly less than the growth of the share of the population making between $10 and $20 per day, which increased from 7 percent to 13 percent between 2001 and 2011.

The great majority of the increase in “middle income” people occurred in China and other high-growth countries in the Pacific whose economies have rapidly expanded over this period.

The report notes, “Home to more than 1.3 billion people, or nearly 20 percent of the world’s population, China alone accounted for more than one in two additions to the global middle-income population from 2001 to 2011.”

The story was much different for other “developing” countries, with next to no increase in the number of “middle income” earners in Africa, India, Central America and Southeast Asia.

The report states, “In contrast to China, most other Asian countries had relatively little growth in their middle classes. India is a case in point. Although the poverty rate in India fell from 35 percent in 2001 to 20 percent in 2011, the share of the Indian population that could be considered middle income increased from 1 percent to just 3 percent. Instead of a burgeoning middle class, India’s ranks of low-income earners swelled.”

Africa fared little better. The report notes that on that continent “most of the movement was from poverty to low-income status.” It says: “Ethiopia, for example, experienced a decline of 27 percentage points in the share of people who could be considered poor. This translated into an increase of 26 percentage points in the country’s share of low-income earners and only a 1-point increase in middle-income earners.”

Similarly, “In Nigeria, one of the region’s most dynamic economies, the share of the poor fell 18 percentage points from 2001 to 2011, resulting in a 17 percentage point increase in low-income earners and just a 1-point boost in the share of the population that could be considered middle income.”

Despite the significant social and economic changes that have taken place since 2001, the great majority of high-income people continued to reside in the developed countries in North America and Europe. In 2011, 87 percent of “high-income” people—those subsisting on at least $50 per day, or $18,250 per year—lived in these countries.

Despite modest improvements in living standards in some parts of the world, incomes dropped in the United States. As the report states, “The US economy stumbled through the decade from 2001 to 2011, growing at less than 1 percent annually on average. Even these slight gains did not make their way to American families, whose median income actually decreased from 2001 to 2011.”

Amid falling incomes in the United States and continued mass poverty in the rest of the world, the wealth of the global financial oligarchy has continued to soar. Last year, the wealth of the world’s billionaires hit $7 trillion, having more than doubled in the time covered in the Pew report. The astronomical enrichment of this social layer is inseparable from the impoverishment of the world’s workers.

The statistics presented in the Pew report underscore the basic fact that the capitalist system has proven incapable of providing a decent standard of living for the vast majority of the world’s people.

Greek government approves brutal austerity measures in proposal to EU

By Alex Lantier
July 10, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Greece’s Syriza-led government agreed to a massive new €13 billion (US$14.34 billion) package of austerity measures yesterday evening, less than a week after Sunday’s landslide “no” vote in a referendum on European Union (EU) austerity.

The proposal would be the deepest package of cuts since the EU austerity drive began in Greece in late 2009. It goes well beyond the proposed €8 to 9 billion in cuts initially demanded by the EU in talks with Syriza.

The 13-page proposal was submitted to the EU, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) before the midnight deadline previously set by the institutions. In exchange for cuts, the Greek government is reportedly asking for a €53.5 billion ($59.2 billion) loan to the Greek state and some form of debt restructuring, allowing it to avoid state bankruptcy and remain in the euro currency area.

The austerity measures reportedly include sharp increases in the regressive VAT sales tax and an increase in the retirement age to 67 by 2022. The elimination of additional payments to the poorest pensioners will take place by the end of 2019, a year earlier than previously scheduled.

Plans for the privatization of state assets, including ports and airports, will go forward. The proposal also includes a reported increase of the corporate tax to 28 percent, rather than 29 percent, a reduction requested by the IMF.

In proposing the new austerity package, Syriza has with extraordinary rapidity repudiated the vote in Sunday’s referendum, which Syriza itself had called and presented as a model of democratic accountability. More than 61 percent of the population rejected precisely the measures that the government has now adopted.

Even as Syriza officially called for a “no” vote, Tsipras had no intention of fighting EU austerity. The prime minister expected to lose the vote and, in response, abandon office and leave it to another government to impose the cuts. (See also: Tsipras petitions EU for new austerity deal)

Following the vote, the Syriza-led government has moved as quickly as possible to reach an accommodation with the pro-austerity parties within Greece and approve a deal that would be acceptable to the European banks.

The measures were finalized in discussions between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Economy Minister Giorgios Stathakis—all from the ruling Syriza (“Coalition of the Radical Left”) party—and adopted by the Greek cabinet on Thursday.

The government is planning to seek a vote in the Greek parliament today, relying on support from the openly pro-austerity New Democracy and PASOK parties. On Saturday, eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to meet to review the proposal, followed by a meeting Sunday of the EU leaders.

The new austerity proposal was rushed through amidst threats from European officials to entirely cut off funding for Greece and force the country out of the eurozone. In response to these threats, Syriza continually refused to take any measures that would threaten capitalist property relations and rejected any appeal to workers throughout Europe for a common struggle against austerity.

It is uncertain whether an agreement will be approved by the EU, even on the surrender terms being offered by Syriza. Sections of the European ruling class are discussing forcing Greece to default on its debts, expelling it from the euro zone, and pushing it through a drastic economic crisis by forcing it to restore a devalued national currency.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said yesterday that any significant restructuring of Greece’s debt was unlikely, as this would violate EU rules.

Other European officials have indicated a desire to reach agreement with the Greek government. Syriza members told the Guardian that French finance ministry officials had worked with Greek Finance Minister Tsakalotos to rewrite the austerity package Athens was proposing, in order to make it acceptable to the EU.

Donald Tusk, the chair of the EU summit, urged European officials to take certain measures to allow Greece to pay back its debt. “The realistic proposal from Greece will have to be matched by an equally realistic proposal on debt sustainability from the creditors,” Tusk said.

Germany has also come under pressure from the Obama administration to ensure that Greece is not pushed out of the eurozone. On Wednesday, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew publicly intervened to push for an agreement on austerity between Greece and the EU and call for some form of “debt restructuring.”

Criticizing those who “create more of these kind of life-and-death deadlines,” Lew said they were creating far greater economic and political risks, including a broader financial panic across southern Europe and the possible splitting of Europe. The US wants to ensure that Greece remains within NATO and continues to support the campaign of military and economic aggression against Russia.

With Greece’s banks still closed and depositors limited to €60 in daily cash withdrawals amid the crisis, the Greek economy is rapidly grinding to a halt.

The National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce released a report Wednesday that found that consumption had fallen 70 percent since the closure of Greece’s banks, costing €1.2 billion to the economy. Greeks are reportedly stocking up on key medicines as well as non-perishable foods, such as rice and pasta, fearing a possible collapse of supplies of imported food and medicine.

JP Morgan to Pay Another Slap on the Wrist Fine for Engaging in Systemic Consumer Credit Card Debt Fraud

By Michael Krieger
July 9, 2015
Liberty Blitzkrieg

 

Just yesterday, I published a post titled: Florida Man Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Jail for Having Sex on the Beach. The purpose of that post wasn’t to justify his actions, but rather to highlight the difference between how average citizens are treated under the U.S. “justice” system, and how thieving, remorseless financial oligarchs are treated.

While, Mr. Caballero may have ruined the day of a few beach goers by crudely having sex on a public beach in broad daylight, he didn’t run the U.S. economy into the ground and cause destitution to tens of millions of Americans. Nor did he received trillions in taxpayer backstops and bailouts, only to turn around and pay himself a record bonus and then carry on with extremely profitable, illegal financial schemes. No, it was the bank executives who did (and continue to do) all of that. Guess who ends up in prison?

And now, for the latest financial scam perpetrated by JP Morgan, as well as the insignificant slap on the wrist fine, I present the following from Reuters:

JPMorgan Chase & Co has agreed to pay at least $125 million to settle probes by U.S. state and federal authorities that the bank sought to improperly collect and sell consumer credit card debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

The settlement also includes about $50 million in restitution, the sources said.

$50 million? Jamie Dimon’s presidential cufflinks probably cost more than $50 million.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 11.16.16 AM

The nation’s largest bank has been accused of relying on robo-signing and other discredited methods of going after consumers for debts they may not have owed and for providing inaccurate information to debt buyers. Robo-signing refers to signing documents in mass quantities without reviewing records.

I mean, what’s the big deal here? Clearly sex on the beach presents graver threat to American society.

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 47 states and the District of Columbia are expected to announce the settlements as soon as Wednesday, the people said.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued in 2013, claiming the bank engaged in fraudulent and unlawful debt collection practices against 100,000 California credit card borrowers over some three years.

The state claims the bank flooded state courts with questionable lawsuits, filing thousands every month, including 469 such lawsuits in one day alone.

In September 2013, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered JPMorgan to refund $309 million to about 2 million customers for illegal credit card practices, including charging consumers for credit card monitoring services they did not receive.

Thanks for playing suckers. Now go BTFD.

For related articles, see:

90-Year-Old WW2 Veteran and Two Clergymen Face 60 Days in Jail for Feeding the Homeless in Florida

The U.S. Department of Justice Handles Banker Criminals Like Juvenile Offenders…Literally

New Report – The United States’ Sharp Drop in Economic Freedom Since 2000 Driven by “Decline in Rule of Law”

DEA Agents Caught Having Drug Cartel Funded Prostitute Sex Parties Received Slap on the Wrist; None Fired

TSA Agents Caught Gaming System so Male Screener Could Grope Attractive Passengers; No Criminal Charges Filed

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Planned US Coup in Greece?

By Stephen Lendman
July 08, 2015
Global Research

 

alexis-tsiprasWashington’s geopolitical strategy when bullying fails is either assassinating independent leaders, color revolutions, military coups or naked aggression.

If Moscow-based independent investigative journalist John Helmer is right, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is a marked man and SYRIZA governance on thin ice showing cracks:

 ”(a) putsch in Athens to save allied Greece from enemy Russia is in preparation by the US and Germany, with backing from the non-taxpayers of Greece  – the Greek oligarchs, Anglo-Greek shipowners, and the Greek Church.”

“At the highest and lowest level of Greek government, and from Thessaloniki to Milvorni, all Greeks understand what is happening. (Sunday) they voted overwhelmingly to resist.”

“According to a high political figure in Athens, a 40-year veteran, ‘what is actually happening is a slow process of regime change.’ “

Wherever neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland shows up (Hillary Clinton’s handpicked choice for the job), trouble usually follows.

Helmer says she’s “in charge of warmaking in Europe.” Her notorious involvement in Ukraine’s February 2014 coup is well documented.

According to Helmer, she gave Tsipras two ultimatums in Athens last March – surrender to Troika demands and remain allied with US-dominated NATO’s anti Russian agenda.”

Her spokeman Mark Toner said Washington is “focused on, frankly, the opposite (of Sunday’s referendum), which is finding a path forward that allows Greece to continue to make reforms (more austerity), return to growth (by letting Troika bandits rape its economy and population), and remain in the Eurozone.”

Since the 19th century, Greece had five military coups or attempted ones. Junta dictatorship ruled from 1967 – 1974. Another one can’t be ruled out.

Over five dozen former high-ranking military officials fired a shot across the bow declaring their “oath to the Fatherland and the Flag. By choosing isolation, we place the Fatherland and its future in danger,” they warned.

They publicly called for a “yes” vote ahead of Sunday’s referendum. Will not getting it mobilize them along with other Greek dark forces, Washington and Brussels to oust Tsipras forcibly or otherwise?

Grexit “will make our country weaker,” they claimed – even though Greeks weren’t asked about it and most oppose the idea. “We will lose allies that have stood by our side. We will lose the strength we gain from associations and groupings to which we belong historically and culturally,” the former military officials said.

Ties to Washington and Brussels run counter to what best serves long-suffering Greeks.

Will conditions be made worse than ever by greater austerity if coup rumblings become reality? Is this US/Eurogroup’s Plan B?

Helmer cited political sources in Athens saying Tsipras and other SYRIZA officials acted preemptively to prevent one – replacing military and intelligence leadership with their own “but not radically.”

Moscow remains skeptical about Tsipras withstanding Washington/Brussels pressure – especially given dominant Germany’s hardline position.

He faces enormous pressure. His six months in office shows he promises Greeks one thing and does another.

He agreed to nearly all Troika demands. Not good enough. They want total surrender. Germany’s Merkel and France’s Hollande told him to capitulate fully for further bailout aid.

Greek banks remain closed. They’re close to collapse. The ECB raised the amount of collateral they must post for further emergency loans.

Does Finance Minister Varoufakis’ resignation signal Tsipras’ capitulation to follow – negating popular opposition to austerity he pledged to support?

Hollande spoke for himself and Merkel saying Tsipras must “offer serious, credible proposals” for bailout help – code language for demanding unconditional surrender, a Greek Versailles.

He and new Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos are heading to Brussels for further talks. Hardline Troika officials intend cutting them no slack.

Will Tsipras cave to their demands and betray millions of Greeks in the process? Given his record so far in office, it’s hard imagining otherwise. Hopefully he’ll surprise but don’t bet on it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

10 Ways the Global Cabal is Controlling You: Part One

By Christina Sarich
July 6, 2015
Collective Evolution

 

Picture courtesy of http://www.deesillustration.com/(Picture courtesy of deesillustration.com)

(This article is part of a three-part series, watch for part two coming soon!)

The world is under the control of a nefarious order, whether you call them the cabal, the Illuminati, the Order of 33, the geopolitical plutocratic elite, the Bilderberg Group, or some other name, but just how far reaching are their tentacles? It may surprise you how much you don’t know, but then again, their plan was designed so that you would never realize just how far their power truly extends.

Each ‘leg’ of the cabal is dependent upon the others to remain viable. If we were to remove one leg from the cabal table, it would no longer stand. Fortunately, there are individuals who aim to do just that, but first, it is important to know how these groups think, and it isn’t pretty.

Financial

You don’t achieve absolute world dominance without controlling the purse strings. Zerohedge has pointed out that there are really only ten companies which control almost everything you purchase. You are given the illusion of choice, but each of these companies is connected to just a few criminal families in a nepotistic manner.

As an example of how the corporate square-dance, or should I say, circle-jerk, really works, there is ample evidence in these few companies: Yum Brands owns KFC and Taco Bell, and they only sell Pepsi products. Proctor & Gamble owns so many brands it would be impractical to list them all – but they make everything from toothpaste to high-end fashion. You might know Nestle for making chocolate, but they also believe that water should be privatized, and they own 8,000 brands, at least some of which you have likely purchased.

Think that Monsanto is a really big, nasty company? It is a nasty corporation, but it isn’t that big. They’re just one of the puppet fronts for Vanguard Mutual Funds. The biggest shareholder in Monsanto, the biggest in Halliburton, the second biggest in Facebook, the third biggest in Whole Foods, the second biggest in Hain Celestial Foods, and the biggest shareholder in the largest defence corporation in America, Lockheed Martin, is also the Vanguard Group.

Then we get to some even better intel. Dick Cheney, the same man who practically shoved us over a cliff into a war with Iraq, was the head of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. Cheney also had between 18 and 87 million shares in the Vanguard Fund. His is only one example of government fraud to the 1,000th degree. Who owned an incredible number of shares of Halliburton? Deutsche Bank – which brings us to financial control part deux.

You remember the bank bailouts. That money went to just a few folks who were already über-rich. The banks tried to blame it on mortgage defaults, but they planned the whole thing from beginning to end. It was just another pump and dump scheme like the IT bubble, and all other bubbles that came before it, and the one they are trying to float even now by messing with interest rates.

Next up, at the top of this convoluted hierarchy is the Federal Reserve and Fractional Banking System. This includes the World Bank and IMF. A Swiss study published in PLOS ONE details how just a handful of banks and financial institutions exert massive control on the entire world. According to the study, there is a “super-entity” of just 147 very tightly knit mega-corporations that control 40 percent of the entire global economy.”

Finally, there are just four companies that control 147 other companies that own – well, just about everything:

McGraw-Hill, owns Standard & Poor’s, as well as Northwestern Mutual, which owns Russell Investments, the index arm of which runs the benchmark Russell 1,000 and Russell 3,000, CME Group which owns 90% of Dow Jones Indexes, and Barclay’s, which took over Lehman Brothers and its Lehman Aggregate Bond Index, the dominant world bond fund index. Together, these four firms dominate the world of indexing. And in turn, that means they hold real sway over the world’s money.

Should you think your money is safe if it is in tangible assets, there’s the gold-rigging. JP Morgan, Goldman Sach’s, Barclay’s, Deutsch Bank, SoGen and UBS are all in hot water for rigging the gold and silver markets.

Essentially, name a market, and it is controlled by the cabal. It doesn’t matter if you are trading securities, or pigskins – they’re controlling who has money and who doesn’t.

That is until, hopefully, the Asia Pacific Bank starts calling the shots, and bleeds the cabal of all their funny money created with fractional banking, or quantitative easing, and fiat currencies, which is essentially the act of printing money out of thin air.

Political

You also cannot dominate the world without political clout and power. In the US an expertly crafted two-party system dominates the political arena. Here, we fight on Astroturf, where the arguments over political issues are prescripted and very much like a reality show. Each side thinks that the grass is greener on their own side, but they are meant to oppose each other only to the degree that Americans stay emotionally engaged in the same wedge issues each and every ‘election’ period, while true issues and any viable third party is left out in the cold. Grand Illusion Two Party SystemThis is carried out with exacting precision, and more financial control. Elections are rigged, as evinced by the Florida recount, which allowed George Bush to take office and lobbyists control the Congress and House of Representatives. The illusion of choice is perpetuated so that you believe you have a ‘say’ when, in reality, you have none. The same ‘divide and conquer’ tactics that are used to stir upheaval in other countries are used at home. If you still think that voting Democrat or Republican makes a difference, then the Cabal is still controlling you.

Furthermore, the US has been infiltrated by some nasty individuals who have plans to take over the entire world. As Preston James, PhD from Veteran’s Today puts it:

The curtain is now being pulled back to fully expose the Khazarian Mafia and its evil plan to tyrannize the whole world, to eradicate all Abrahamic religions, and allow only their Babylonian Talmudism, also known as Luciferianism, Satanism, or ancient Ball worship.

Emotional

What better way to create a world of slaves than by controlling their emotions? The cabal uses money and political power to polarize the masses, but they get to us through our emotional state. They use the differences in our beliefs systems to create anger and hostility. They use our own egoic tendencies to focus on ‘an other’ to create strife and war. Instead of live, and peacefully, let live, we micro-manage others’ lives without taking care of our own faults. Images are continuously churned out by a cabal-owned media (see part two) that would make us feel anxiety, and doubt our spiritual connectedness to one another, let alone to the Universe at large. Think of how you felt when the World Trade buildings went down. They seized all that negative emotion to take your most basic rights from you. They benefited your fear. Our emotions are played like a violin string by the cabal.

A large part of the Campbellian journey, described in Joseph Campbell’s seminal work, A Hero’s Journey, is to overcome the ‘story’ we have about ourselves – that is all the ego really is. The false ideas that we are what we HAVE or that we are what we DO are kept in place by the cabal, but only as we allow this to happen. The ego will keep us looking for who we truly are on the outside (or who we are not – “I’m nothing like THOSE people!”) instead of looking within.

If you aren’t familiar with Campbell’s work, I highly recommend it as a means to understanding yourself, so that the cabal, and any other opportunistic energies, don’t have the ability to control you and your emotions. Do any of these monomyths or roles sound familiar, as Campbell described the journey we all take to rise above ego?

The Call to Adventure

Refusal to Answer the Call

Acceptance of the Call

Supernatural Aid

Crossing of the First Threshold

Entering the Belly of the Whale

The Initiation

The Road of Trials

Meeting with the Goddess (Feminine Energy)

Woman as Temptress

Atonement with the Father

Apotheosis

The Ultimate Boon

Return (with New Knowledge of the Self)

Refusal of the Return

Magic Flight

Rescue from the Without

Crossing the Return Threshold

Master of the Two Worlds (Material and Immaterial or Spiritual)

Freedom to Live

We only arrive at the ‘freedom to live’ when we eradicate the influence of the cabal, or the inflated, nasty, dark, egoic nature which thinks of nothing but preserving itself, with no care for the rest of the world or its inhabitants. If you look around, this is exactly the phase of the hero’s journey we are in now – quite literally the belly of the whale. Corporations have absolutely pillaged the earth, and war has killed far too many to call it paradise.

Stay tuned for part two. . .

The Trans Pacific Partnership & Why It’s Nothing But A Corporate Takeover

By Andrew Martin
July 3, 2015
Collective Evolution

 

tppA Great Example of Free Trade

On the 9th of May 2000, Bill Clinton in his presidential speech was selling the merits of allowing China to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) to the American people.

“If you believe in a future of greater openness and freedom for the people of China, you ought to be for this agreement. If you believe in a future of greater prosperity for the American people you certainly should be for this agreement, if you believe in security and peace for Asia and the world you should be for this agreement. This is the right thing to do, it is a historic opportunity and a profound American responsibility.” Clinton went on to suggest the entry of China into the WTO would offer “a brighter future for American workers and American manufacturers. Economically this agreement is the equivalent of a one way street, it requires China to open its markets with a fifth of the world’s population, potentially the biggest markets in the world. For the first time China will agree to play by the open trading rules we do. It has never happened before, for the first time our companies will be able to sell and distribute products in China made by workers here in America.” (1)

If we look back at Clinton’s speech it becomes obvious who really benefited. The failure of governments to foresee any negative impacts of offshoring manufacturing and industry has resulted in a decimation of the middle and working class in many nations. While China has benefited significantly (economically) at least in the short term, other nations have seen their economies stripped of any meaningful industry. While most governments race to promote ‘free trade’ and the opening of foreign trade and investment, few understand the consequence this has on local economies.. or do they?

Hiding What is Really Going On

The “official unemployment rate” in the United States, as outlined by “Unemployment USA,” is promoted to the public between 5 and 6%. John Williams, an economic consultant who publishes “Shadow Statistics,” examines the data many mainstream media outlets fail to update or question. In a 2013 interview, Williams outlined that “the numbers are a matter of definition. If you interviewed those who are unemployed you would get a much higher rate than what the government puts out as its definition.” The headline unemployment figure is calculated by examining the civilian labor force and includes only people who are working or have looked for a job in the previous four weeks. “So if you have given up looking for a job because there is no longer any point then you are not included in the headline unemployment figures. Given the way the government’s headline unemployment rate is calculated, it can never reach 14%. This is because when the economy gets really bad (like now), unemployed workers get discouraged and give up looking for jobs. This causes the civilian labor force to decline, faster than total employment.” Williams points out that back in 1994 discouraged workers were counted. If you hadn’t looked for work in the last two years but you were still ready and able to take a job the government counted you, but it doesn’t now. Williams estimates that if the calculation was the same or similar to what it was back in 1994, the unemployment rate would be more in line with 23%. (2)

The Trans Pacific Partnership – A Corporate Takeover

There is currently plenty of talk about the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement secretly being negotiated. Firstly, if this is such as good deal for everyone, why isn’t there transparency and open debate, and why is this deal being done in private? Doesn’t seem that democratic, does it? Yet it seems the words liberty, democracy, and freedom are overused as catch cries from our political masters, who simply mouth these words to appease the masses. Secondly, I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “fast track” it conjures up thoughts of missing a few steps or doing things a bit half arsed…

The current “Trans Pacific Partnership” deal, which is being negotiated secretively between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam, may well be another effort to decimate the workforce in favour of multinational profits. The “Public Citizen” organization certainly thinks so. It believes the latest TPP is an effort to offshore American jobs and increase income inequality, increase the cost of medicines, sneak in SOPA-like threats to internet freedom, empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards, expose the U.S. to unsafe food and products, and roll back Wall Street reforms. Sounds like one massive corporate bail out doesn’t it!

To take it one step further, the TPP would even elevate individual foreign firms to equal status with sovereign nations. This would empower them to privately enforce new rights and privileges, provided by the pact, by dragging governments to foreign tribunals to challenge public interest policies that they claim frustrate their expectations. The tribunals would be authorized to order taxpayer compensation to the foreign corporations for the “expected future profits” they surmise would be inhibited by the challenged policies. (3)

Stacking The Deck

Generally free trade agreements such as this have little to do with trade, they are about changing and stacking the deck in favour of those who will benefit. From the information available it appears that the TPP will give more power to corporations to attack and litigate against foreign nations. The late Albert Allen Bartlett, the well-respected Professor of physics at the University of Colorado (Boulder) who spoke extensively about the energy sector, suggested that “one of the principle motivations behind the U.S support for these trade agreements is to allow the U.S get their hands on resources before these resources get developed and countries want to use them for themselves.” (4) He may well be right!

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) section of the TPP would effectively give special rights to foreign investors included in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This would open up the flood gates from which foreign investors (large multinationals) could potentially sue governments if their investments were deemed to be affected by a change in a law or policy. National regulations in areas such as food labelling, workers rights, safety and environmental protection would be at risk of violation. To illustrate, I will use an example of a large multinational mining company who wants to explore and drill for oil and gas in a certain environmentally sensitive area in your country. Under the TPP agreement any restrictions which may be placed upon the company in regard to exploration and drilling may be cause for potential litigation if the “interests of the conglomerate” could be affected. The national government of the particular country would have to either fight the litigation (tax payer funded of course) or simply give in to the company and let them do whatever they like! In effect, any TPP deal would jeopardize national sovereignty and potentially wreak havoc on the environment.

Bring in Your Own Lawyers

These disputes would be heard by an international investment tribunal (more deck stacking) with no independent judges. There would be no precedents or appeals, so decisions could be inconsistent, yet could have the ability to undermine national laws. Some argue that The TPP is being driven by the U.S in an effort to further the interests of American corporations and American workers after seeing its industry and economy decimated by Chinese dominance over the last decades. It might be a way of embedding trade between these countries to ensure China does not become more economically dominant throughout the Pacific and Asia. However, I can’t help but be reminded of the words of the prominent economist and professor at the School of Public Policy, Herman Daly, who argues that “globalisation has been a policy choice of the elites, not of the average citizen.” The mantra of “we live in a globalised economy and have no choice but to compete in the global growth race” has misled countries into supporting free capital mobility and global integration. “Globalisation” (national disintegration) was an actively pursued policy, not an inertial force of nature. It was done to increase the power and growth of transnational corporations by moving them out from under the authority of nation states and into a non-existent “global community.” (5)

Regardless of the agendas being pushed, there are three important factors at play when it comes to this deal, all of which further undermine society. These are holding us back from true progress, not the kind multinationals seek in the exploitation of resources, people and the environment, these are the erosion of democracy, integrity, and national sovereignty. These are up for grabs… not just some dodgy agreement…

Article compiled by Andrew Martin, editor of onenesspublishing  and author of One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…  and Rethink…Your world, Your future.

RethinkcoverCE2Source: excerpts from Rethink…Your world, Your future.

(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pg_Jr_DCyq8

(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk8saiBYXIc

(3) http://www.citizen.org/TPP

(4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHx4N1ujfH4

(5) http://steadystate.org/eight-fallacies-about-growth/

US income inequality continued to soar in 2014

By Andre Damon
July 2, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

Capitalism1Income inequality in the United States continued to grow in 2014, according to updated figures released last week by University of California, Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez.

According to Saez’s report, the top one percent of income earners increased their share of total income from 20.1 percent in 2013 to 21.2 in 2014 percent.

The income shares of the highest-earning 10 percent, 1 percent, and 0.1 percent of income earners all grew in 2014. The top ten percent of earners received 49.9 percent of income in 2014, more than any other year besides 2012.

Saez noted that the top 1 percent of earners received 58 percent of income gains during the so-called economic “recovery” between 2009 and 2014. The incomes of the bottom 99 percent grew by just 4.3 percent during that period.

The figures for 2014 mark the first year that real incomes for the bottom 99 percent of earners increased by any significant amount since the 2008 financial crisis. Incomes for the bottom 99 percent grew at a rate of 3.8 percent last year.

Saez wrote that “the incomes of most American families are still far from having recovered from the losses of the Great Recession.” He added that by 2014, the bottom 99 percent of income earners had recovered less than 40 percent of the annual income they had lost during the 2007-2009 recession.

The modest growth in incomes for the bottom 99 percent was dwarfed by the increase in the incomes of the super-rich. The incomes for the top 1 percent of earners grew at a rate of 10.8 percent last year, more than three times faster than the average for the bottom 99 percent.

While the growth of social inequality has dramatically accelerated following the 2008 crash, this is a continuation of a decades-long process. The report notes, “Top 1 percent incomes grew by 80.0% from 1993 to 2014. This implies that top 1 percent incomes captured almost 60% of the overall economic growth of real incomes per family over the period 1993-2014.”

Saez warns that the growth of inequality is not likely to slow down, noting, “Based on the US historical record, falls in income concentration due to economic downturns are temporary unless drastic regulation and tax policy changes are implemented and prevent income concentration from bouncing back. Such policy changes took place after the Great Depression during the New Deal and permanently reduced income concentration until the 1970s.”

He notes, “The policy changes that took place coming out of the Great Recession… are modest relative to the policy changes that took place coming out of the Great Depression. Therefore, it seems unlikely that US income concentration will fall much in the coming years, absent more drastic policy changes.”

In fact, the US government’s response to the 2008 crash has been dedicated to inflating the wealth of the super-rich while driving down incomes for the vast majority of the population. The White House has protected Wall Street executives from legal prosecution, while the Federal Reserve has handed out trillions of dollars in cheap money through “quantitative easing” programs, leading share values to triple on major US exchanges.

Saez notes that a significant contributor to the growth of income inequality has been the growth of the salaries for top earners, particularly top executives. He observes, “The income composition pattern at the very top has changed considerably over the century. The share of wage and salary income has increased sharply from the 1920s to the present, and especially since the 1970s. Therefore, a significant fraction of the surge in top incomes since 1970 is due to an explosion of top wages and salaries.” He adds that, by some estimates, “the share of total wages and salaries earned by the top 1 percent wage income earners has jumped from 5.1 percent in 1970 to 12.4 percent in 2007.”

There are signs that this process is accelerating. The same day that Saez published his report, the Wall Street Journal published a separate survey of executive pay, which found that CEOs at major corporations it surveyed had their pay increase by 13.5 percent in 2014, hitting $13.6 million.

The soaring wealth of the financial elite, driven by surging stock prices and executive pay, is driving demand for luxury goods and housing in major financial centers. Manhattan real estate prices have reached an all time high, with the average home price hitting $1.87 million, according to reports cited by the New York Times Wednesday. The Times noted that real estate developers are scrambling to create enormous multi-million-dollar high-rise apartments, which are being snapped up by members of the financial elite.

Meanwhile, the housing situation for the great majority of the population has only worsened since 2008. Last week a study by Harvard University’s Joint Center For Housing Studies found that the share of the US population that owned a home hit the lowest level in two decades, with the homeownership rate for those aged 35-44 plunging to the lowest level since the 1960s. The report attributed the fall in home ownership to falling incomes for typical US households, noting that median household income in the US remained 8 percent below its level in 2007.

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama plans to unveil what he has called a major new policy initiative in a speech in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The proposal entails new federal rules that would make an additional 3 percent of the US population eligible for overtime pay. If adopted, the change would add a mere $1.3 billion to worker’s wages annually. This is a tiny fraction of the trillions of dollars that have been transferred to the financial elite since the 2008 financial crisis.

To put things in perspective; Obama’s program would transfer less income to working people each year than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made in a single day last year.