Newsletter: After The Crash…

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“We have never had a year start the way that 2016 has started.  In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 have both posted their worst four-day starts to a year ever.  Canadian stocks are now down 21 percent since September, and it has been an absolute bloodbath in Europe over the past four days. . . There has been an emergency suspension of trading in China two times within the past four days, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next.  Eventually this wave of panic selling will settle down, but that won’t mean that this crisis will be over.  In fact, what is coming is going to be much worse than what we have already seen.” The Economic Collapse Blog.

First day of trading this year in China is halted as stocks plunge.

First day of trading this year in China is halted as stocks plunge.

The market is crashing. Even corporate mass media are reporting this reality, with CNN calling it “a global market freak-out.” However, the media have generally blamed the dismal markets in China.  There is no discussion in mainstream media of the fundamental problems in the US economy that are the real reasons why the next crash will be worse than the 2008 collapse.

Fundamental Problems in the Economy

We seem to be at the beginning of the economic collapse predicted by many for 2016. The predictions call for a collapse worse than 2008. There are trillions of dollars more in high risk investments and central banks are over-leveraged. After central banks shifted trillions to wealthy businesses after the last collapse, they are now in a weaker position to respond to the next collapse. The Federal Reserve is leveraged at 78 to 1, for comparison Lehman Brothers was at 30 to 1 when it triggered the 2008 collapse.

The US commodities markets are at depression-era levels not seen since 1938. Wholesale sales collapsed creating an inventories-to-sales ratio that is the highest since 2008’s crisis and as high as the worst in the 2001 recession. The risky derivatives market is now at $555 trillion in a global economy that is $70 trillion. You read that correctly – risky investments are nearly eight times the total global economy. This is a giant bubble ready to pop.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 8.48.47 AMThere will be confusion as this crash unfolds. In the midst of the 2008 collapse there were days with large growth on the markets. Just this week we saw a confusing jobs report that noted 292,000 new jobs. The headline sounds good but when you look at the details, there continue to be fundamental labor problems, e.g. hourly wages saw their first decline since 2014, the number of unemployed was unchanged, the number of long-term (27 weeks) unemployed was unchanged and labor force participation remains very low at 62.6 percent.

The reality of the US labor force is not a pretty one and explains the drop in wages. Economist Jack Rasmus writesMedian wages for non-managers are still below what they were in 2007, and households are piling on new debt again to pay for rising medical costs, rents, autos, and education.” Zero Hedge reports there continues to be a surge in minimum wage jobs e.g., food service, waiters and bartenders, bringing the total to a new record high of 11.3 million while high-paying manufacturing jobs remain flat. Since the 2008 crash the US has lost 1.4 million of the latter and gained 1.6 million of the former. The US is also at an all-time high of temporary workers, who made up half the new professional and business jobs. And, there are now 7.7 million people holding multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. This is the highest level since just before the last economic collapse. The wealth divide has become extreme with the richest 20 people own more than the bottom half of the US – 152 million people combined. 

As it did in the early 20th century, capitalism itself is failing once again, especially this late stage predatory capitalism with its corrupt financial market domination. It’s time for a new system.

1monopolymanCapitalism serves the well-being of the holders of capital. The concentration of wealth in the few along with the financialization of the economy has made capitalism dangerous to the 99%. Capitalism works for capitalists by ensuring workers are paid less than the wealth they create while consumers pay more for their necessities and debtors are stuck in a cycle of debt they cannot escape. Resources are extracted as inexpensively as possible despite the impact on the planet, public health and safety; while the costs of extraction and production are externalized to the people through corporate welfare and crony capitalism. When capitalist bets go bad they are backed up by a corrupt government while the non-capitalists lose their homes, life savings and incomes. 

We are bumping up against the limits of living on a finite planet. We can no longer continue with business as usual. The values of stocks are based on fraudulent assessments, not values based in reality. Economists predict that at best the global economy will be stagnant, just bumping along the bottom for the foreseeable future, and at worst there will be a deep crash.

If the 2016 collapse occurs, it would be the third speculative bubble burst in the last 15 years, the losses will be immense. The inter-related deep corruption throughout the financial and political systems continues as it did in the previous collapses. For the lay person, the current movie, “The Big Short,” explains the corruption that caused the 2008 collapse – not much has changed, in fact one character from the movie said that it is worse now because nobody was punished. The panic of the last collapse came quickly and involved complicated financial transactions that even experts did not understand at the time. While the complexity continues, this time we understand them and can see through the complexity and see the corruption.

1occupyWhat Should the Movement Do?

A movement sprang up out of the last collapse, the Occupy Movement, has since grown and dispersed into other areas where people are organizing around issues like debt, especially student debt, home foreclosures, banking regulation and livable wages. The Black Lives Matter movement, which is primarily focused on police violence, also understands the racially unfair economy. And, the movement against corporate rigged trade agreements like the TPP has united movements and shown people how economics impacts everything from food, water and the environment to labor and banking regulation to the Internet and more. We are all connected.

Joseph Stiglitz says “The obstacles the global economy faces are not rooted in economics, but in politics and ideology.” This time there is a growing mass movement that can change the politics and ideology at the same time that the influence of  big finance will diminish. What should the movement be demanding as this next collapse develops? How do we unite to impact economic policy and put in place a transformation to a new economy that serves the people and not big finance?

1mainstnotwallstFirst we should insist on two things which require not repeating the mistakes of the last collapse (1) Those involved in fraud or other illegal activity need to be prosecuted criminally and the concentrated power of mega banks needs to be ended as they did in Iceland; and (2) The rhetoric of bailing out Main Street not Wall Street needs to become reality by taking back the constitutional power to create money from the Federal Reserve and funding people’s necessities.

We live in a time of corrupt economics and since the last economic collapse the cheaters, who commit fraud and other crimes, were not prosecuted but rewarded. What lesson does the failure to criminally prosecute teach? Bill Black, a leading financial crimes investigator, points out, “Bad ethics drive good ethics out of the marketplace because cheaters prosper.” Failure to prosecute makes bad ethics and criminal behavior the norm because those who commit economic crimes profit.

Not Too Big To Jail

After the last crash, the actual policy of the Department of Justice (DOJ) was not to prosecute the big banks. It was believed that they were too big to prosecute and jail because of the feared impact it would have on the economy. The other side of the coin was not considered: the impact on the economy when government allowed leading bankers to commit fraud without prosecution. The performance of the FBI, SEC and DOJ, among others charged with regulating the banks and enforcing the law, were all inadequate. Banks were fined, but inadequately compared to the impact of money lost or stolen by their actions; criminal prosecutions were rare, so few individuals were held accountable. Why? Corruption of federal agencies through the revolving door of big pay-offs. This is evident at top levels of government, for example former Attorney General Eric Holder went back to his big business, big bank law firm, Covington and Burling to a multi-million-dollar annual salary.

1durbinThe big banks need to be broken up and policies must be put in place to prevent them from getting too big again. After the economic collapse rather than shrinking, the big banks grew. Why? Because in addition to being too big to jail, they were too powerful for Congress to confront. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) admitted: “And the banks – hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created – are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

Once the banks are broken up we need to ensure they cannot get too big again. A cap could be put on the banks perhaps based on a percentage of the GDP. Or as Dallas Federal Reserve Chair Richard Fisher suggests they should be limited to $100 billion. There is actually a good deal of support for breaking up the big banks among members of the Federal Reserve, former bank CEO’s and political leaders. 

1banksThere is already wide support among the public and economists for breaking up the big banks. Half of Americans support breaking up the big banks and only 23 percent oppose it, according to a 2013 Rasmussen Poll. And an IMG Forum survey of 39 US economists shows that a majority, 54 percent, either agreed or strongly agreed that we should shrink the big banks. Only 10 percent disagreed, and no one strongly disagreed. The next collapse will increase that support and the movement needs to build a massive national consensus that this is essential.

Another tool for preventing the banks that are too big from returning is to create a new financial system that serves the people. Private banks can be made into public utilities that are brought into the public domain and used to serve the goals of the economy. In addition, public banks modeled after the successful public bank in North Dakota could be created at the local, state and national levels of government; as well as credit unions and community banks that serve their members and their communities. There should also be the possibility of complimentary currencies that enhance the economy.

1heliMeeting People’s Needs After a Collapse, Where Does the Money Come From?

If there is another economic collapse, how do we invest in Main Street to meet the needs of the people and planet? A key question is: where does the money come from?

Article I Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to create money and regulate its value. The creation of money is a public function, perhaps more important than any other function but this power was given to a semi-private corporation, the Federal Reserve in 1913. There is no constitutional requirement for money to be created by the Federal Reserve and loaned to the banks who then loan it to government, business and people at a profit. The government can re-take its constitutional power to create money. This would mean creating debt-free money, as Ellen Brown of the Public Banking Institute writes:

“Virtually all money today is created as bank debt, but people can no longer take on more debt. The money supply has shrunk along with people’s ability to borrow new money into existence. Quantitative easing (QE) attempts to re-inflate the money supply by giving money to banks to create more debt, but that policy has failed. It’s time to try dropping some debt-free money on Main Street.”

Opposition to this approach of creating money without a middleman will come from the banks, who are the middlemen who profit from debt-based money. Debts also give them power over governments that rely on bonds to build essentials for their community and borrow money for the ongoing functioning of government. They will claim it will cause hyper-inflation, when in fact it is deflation we need to worry about. 

1endfedBill Black argues that the Federal Reserve can be made very small and be mechanical in the setting of interest rates. Others argue that the Fed could be ended and the responsibilities of a monetary authority could be created in the Treasury Department to prevent inflation and deflation. Moving the money creation function into the federal government would place it within the US constitutional system of checks and balances to work for the whole society, not only for the bankers and the privileged. 

What could debt-free money be used for? There are all sorts of needed programs, infrastructure and energy transition are in urgent need. Infrastructure – roads, bridges, water systems, the power grid and more – are antiquated and dilapidated.  The American Society of Civil Engineers grades US infrastructure D+ and sees an urgent need for over $3.6 trillion in spending to bring existing infrastructure to safe levels by 2020.

The US needs to set an aggressive agenda of transition to a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy in ten years to confront climate change and the environmental damage of dirty energy. This transition will impact multiple parts of our economy especially housing, transit and technology on clean energy, batteries and transmitting energy.

The debt-based money system has created massive debt at all levels; in government, business and among individuals, especially unjust debts like for college education which should be erased with debt-free money.

Map showing dark areas where half of the population lives.

Map showing dark areas where half of the population lives.

Another collapse is likely to result in another wave of foreclosures that could be prevented by rewriting mortgages to reflect the actual value of properties and make them affordable.  Land trusts can be created so communities can control housing prices and community development so people can afford to stay in their homes.

Urban areas, where most of the population lives (see photo to the right), have been neglected for generations and can be provided funding for the many urgent needs they face.

Education from pre-school through graduate school could be adequately funded so there is no tuition and there are sufficient teachers and support staff.

Medicare could be upgraded to end co-pays and improve coverage and be expanded to cover everybody.

We could also be facing up to the reality of inadequate jobs in the future due to globalization outsourcing, robotics and artificial intelligence by putting in place a guaranteed basic income. What would you do with $1,000 of guaranteed income each month?

1hchr

A Basic Income would also end poverty as well as end poverty programs. The reality of lack of jobs and a basic income is not discussed by any current candidate even though  in 1972 both Nixon and McGovern favored various forms of a basic income.

The list of urgent needs is lengthy.

The debt-based economic system has prevented governments from meeting the needs of people and planet. Doing so would create a full employment economy that would provide a foundation to the economy, building up rather than the failed trickle down. 

The Movement Must Change the Political Calculus to Create an Economy for All

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz describes the current situation as “the Great Malaise.” Even the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, calls it the “new mediocre.” Many others are predicting a collapse greater than 2008. And, for most of us there has never been a full recovery from the 2008 collapse.

1capitalThe economic agenda described here would create a radical transformation of the economy from a top-down system designed for the wealthiest, to a bottom-up system that benefits all.  Putting in place this economy would move us from a plutocratic economy to a democratized economy where people have economic control over their lives.

It is a radical shift – how can it happen? There is only one path – the people must be educated, organized and mobilized to demand it. We need to change the political culture to one where the necessities of the people and protection of the planet are the priorities of the economy.

Some may say that such a radical shift is not ‘politically feasible’ but  what is realistic politically can be changed by popular movements while what is reality doesn’t change. An economic crisis is an economic crisis and we can either accept the inadequate solutions that will be offered or we can redefine what is political reality to be consistent with reality.

If predictions are correct, the next economic collapse will be deeper and more damaging than the 2008 collapse. It will be a tremendous opportunity to put in place radical economic change. It is one the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice should be preparing for now.

  • Carolyn

    Thank you for “bolding” the font on the newsletter. For us old folks, it truly helps.

  • Aquifer

    “The reality of lack of jobs and a basic income is not discussed by any current candidate…”

    Do you mean by ANY current candidate or by any D/R candidate?

  • Margaret Flowers

    Correct – any current D/R candidate. It is part of my platform for US Senate. FlowersforSenate.org.

  • I wish I could say I believe the USA can become a better place for all people, but I truly believe in my heart, if it were to happen, it won’t be in my life time. Yes, I have given up hope, but glad others haven’t. I have chosen to fight a different battle, where I can make change happen. So I support all those who are fighting for the USA, the world. Which is why I still keep in the loop with what goes on, on these fronts, and I do share (FB, Tweet) when I get emails (newsletters) from establishments, organizations and people, who do face these ills of society. Keep up the great work!!!

  • didactic1

    The “crash” is a bit much. Who would have thought in 2008 that seven yrs later the stock market would be at 15000, let alone 18000. These indicies mean little as to economic growth or stagnation. They are speculations that make predictions of varying accuracy of where groups of investors, and yes gamblers(e.g., hedge funds, swaps etc) think the econoomy or major segments of the economy will be in the future. And the ‘future’ means different things to different people. What’s important is actual wealth and power. Whether the stock market goes up or down, it will remain concentrated in the hands of relatively few investment groups and banks. If the US currency collapses, then it might be time to buy the MRE’s and as many AR15, shotguns and more for survival as possible. Liberals really do get distracted by irrelevancies like “LGBT”, “reproductive rights” and gun control.

    When the fascists round YOU up, ask David Geffen or Martin O’Malley to defend you and your community.

  • Jon

    There is enough NEED in the word to put EVERYONE to work who can do so. Convert mechanized agriculture to small scale organic; provide potable running water to everyone in all countries: replant the rain forests with appropriate vegetation, just to start, but you get the idea. Thanks Margaret for running as a GREEN (you ought to say that).

  • Kenny Thompson

    Have you listened to Bernie Sanders? IMO he’s setting a course for a better America.

  • Al

    We need political system reform first and foremost, i.e., we have to take down the bastards ruling over us. We need power to the people before we can “put in place radical economic change”. If not all we’ll get is peanuts, one step forward two steps back alms for the poor bs. THEY, the ruling class, are not going to let us go there no matter how many times a small protest is organized in Washington D.C. while the rest of the country sleeps. It’s has to be an Occupy times ten movement to overthrow this government and who controls it. In fact, it has to be a global movement at this point to end “Rule by the Rich” forever and ever Amen.

  • kevinzeese

    Occupy times ten is a great vision. It would shake the power structure and make a massive difference.

  • Al

    Has to be done eventually Kevin, the ruling class power is overwhelming, the gaps are becoming surreal. I’m 60 and to me 15 bucks an hour is nothing, we need to settle this for humanity once and for all. It sound ridiculous but that’s what we’re up against. Fortunately a lot of people have and are coming to the same conclusions but we still haven’t found a way to give a voice to the silent majority. This absurd political system of “representation” masquerading as democracy has to be confronted. Personally I think when it becomes Clinton vs Trump, or whatever republican, here soon, that’s when the move should be made to protest this system of government. I’m ready.
    Appreciate your continued efforts.

  • Globally…definitely!

    All that is happening in the US political landscape has a very effect in the rest of the world — f.e. politicians are not able to make comments on foreign policy matters unless first consulting with Washington for the approved version.

  • Pingback: Fed at Fault: What Goes Up Must Come Down - The Deconstructed Globe()

  • bernie sanders and dr. jill stein are discussing lack of jobs, income, etc

  • Kevin777

    Yes, a crash would be a reality around DOW 10’000. After years of Fed induced pump priming, a correction is overdue.

  • didactic1

    Bernanke Bucks: who’d have believed counterfeit money would be accepted for so long? Suckers!

  • Kevin777

    Yup, ole Helicopter Ben is out there somewhere, probably making six figures for speeches and appearances. Good job if you can get it.

  • A mass urban migration to key cities may be in order A.S.A.P.

    Even with Bernie as prez and Margaret in the Senate, how will we survive (What EXACTLY will I do? ) when the mother of all crashes (certainly) arrives. What do I need to prepare, right now? I like many who are so poor that we can only afford one run for food once a month. I, like many may be isolated in rented hovels (or tents – as the Haitians still do), unable to congregate with others in a Commons area. Walking to safety is non-existant for those isolated in the burbs. Those who are scattered: existing in old RV’s or tents on rural dirt road areas without public transportation are at great risk.

    Let’s put the call out for a migration to all those who can walk, drive or crawl to safe cities. Occupy Sandy, ODC and OWS can co-ordinate this. Emergency is called!

  • fjwhite

    This article lists what “must” be done and what “needs” to be done. Ironically, What we ‘need’ now, and we have needed since forever, is a plan to translate those good intentions, along with — and this is the hard part — a global movement to carry out the plan.
    I don’t see either on the horizon. Do you?
    Moreover, the captains of globalized, institutionalized capitalism are not about to go down without a fight. And I don’t see any institutionalized alternative system that can defeat the big C.
    Socialists can’t seem to stop talking long enough to take action.

    Maybe the best we can hope for is a climate catastrophe that will level the playing field.
    Please tell me that I’m wrong.

  • kevinzeese

    As the article says, one thing different between now and the last crash in 2008 is that a movement has developed. It began with Occupy and has expanded to many other issues of economic, racial and environmental justice. The movement is not on the horizon, it is in the midst of growing and getting stronger around us. Sometimes when you are in the middle of something it is difficult to see it. The old problem of not being able to see the forest through the trees.

    Here is an interview I did a week or so ago that looks at where the movement is, whether it has won any victories (it has) and where it goes from here. We have more power than we realize and more people are mobilized that we realize. Of course the power structure wants us to think we are powerless, but as we can see from their aggressive actions against various movement struggles they know the people have the power and are worried.

    https://www.popularresistance.org/a-message-of-hope-for-the-new-year/

  • Aquifer

    Is basic income on the GP radar as a whole or is it just your campaign? And might I suggest that perhaps you might make it quite clear in your writings- that it “is not discussed by any current D/R candidate” – folks need to know that there are some other candidates that ARE discussing it … 🙂

  • Aquifer

    Sanders is discussing “basic income” as talked about in this piece? If so, please source …

  • DHFabian

    We’ve been “on the brink of collapse” for years. That said, a good chunk of the country has given up trying for change. You can’t have change when even liberals remain fixated in middle class elitism. Think: From FDR to Reagan, the US implemented policies and programs that put restraints on corporate powers while virtually ending extreme poverty in the US. Far from perfect, but far better. With Reagan, the US began doing just the opposite, reversing those policies, ending those programs. The results are obvious — including the dramatic overall deterioration of quality of life in the US. Liberal media became pragmatic business entities, disregarding our poverty crisis to be more appealing to middle class consumers and campaign donors. While they’ve spent the last decade maintaining a pep rally for the middle class, Democrats continued worsening conditions for the poor. If pointed out, libs put the blame on Republicans, but checking the votes of those in Congress tells a different story.

    To sum it up, we dumped the agenda that actually did take the US to its height of wealth and productivity, and chose the agenda of ruthless capitalism that we now have.

  • DHFabian

    No one can honestly answer this: “Who are the People, and what do they want?” The middle class already decided years ago that the poor must not even be allowed peanuts. Today, the poor and middle class are profoundly divided, pitted against each other. You should have noticed that the liberal media message for years has been that our corporate state works so well, that everyone is able to work, there are jobs for all, therefore no need for poverty relief. What do the liberal bourgeoisie think happened to those masses who were left jobless, in a country that has no poverty relief?

  • DHFabian

    Remember what happened with Occupy? What began as an extraordinary people’s movement that could have changed the course we’re on, was almost instantly redefined — by Dem pols and liberal media — as a middle class movement alone. That was the end of any movement. Dems kicked off 2015 by emphasizing their priorities, agreeing to virtually end food stamps to the elderly poor and the disabled. This was the proverbial last straw, guaranteeing a 2016 defeat for Democrats.

    Here’s reality: Not everyone can work, and there aren’t jobs for all. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who urgently need one. You can’t buy a loaf of bread with promises of eventual jobs. So tell me, what should we do about the jobless poor and many of the unemployable who have no means of providing for themselves? Since the 1990s, liberals have (to put it rather crudely) lacked the balls to touch this issue.

  • DHFabian

    Think: If we had a revolution, who would fight whom? What the rich are now doing to the middle class is simply what the middle class already did to the poor — using many of the same “justifications.”

    That said, Clinton has zero chance because there are too many of us around who have followed her record — pro-war, anti-poor, pro-corporate empowerment, anti-New Deal. B. Clinton was the first president to begin “reforming” Social Security, targeting the disabled, and there is no question that H. Clinton would finish it off. Most of us won’t be able to survive without Social Security. Either way, Democrats have almost no chance of winning 2016. In short, they (and liberals) have utterly alienated a huge chunk of the Dem voting base — the poor, and those who get why unrelieved poverty is such a critical issue to the overall economic/social survival of the US.That’s just the way it is.

  • DHFabian

    How much does the stock market have to do with the everyday lives of Americans? We have a hell of a poverty crisis as the result of policies chosen since 1980, reversing half a century of extraordinary progress. We’re stuck with reality: Not everyone can work, and there aren’t jobs for all. What do you think happens to those who are pushed out of the job market? Every wonder about them? They don’t sit on their couches, nervously waiting for a potential employer to call. They lose their apartments when the rent comes due. Then what? You can’t get a job once you no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare, etc. You’re out. What happens to these people?

    As for fascism, it’s insane that so few noticed that the US has been slowly rolling out the fascist agenda for decades, from the bottom up. We have stripped our poor of the most basic human and civil rights, an issue ignored by our liberal bourgeoisie/media for years. This agenda, by definition, is fascist, based on class rather than race or ideology. First they came for the very poor…

  • DHFabian

    We had it, but changed our minds, for the principle of it. From FDR to Reagan, the US had implemented policies and programs that took the country to its height of wealth and productivity — far from perfect, but far better. We imposed legitimate restraints on corporate/financial powers. Meanwhile, we actually ended extreme poverty in the US, and put rungs on the proverbial ladder out of poverty. By the 1970s, over 80% of AFDC recipients were able to voluntarily quit welfare for jobs within a short time, with most moving up. (The fewer people in poverty, the more consumer purchases, the more products need to be made, the more workers are needed, the fewer people in poverty.) We then reversed course, reversing those policies, ending those programs, bringing us to this point. The agenda that was in place from FDR to Reagan worked FAR better for the country. Here we are, with a generation preaching that our corporate state is so successful, that everyone is able to work, there are jobs for all, therefore no need for poverty relief. And the US maintains its downhill slide.

  • DHFabian

    A movement for what? Merely to maintain the advantages of the better off, the middle class, as Democrats continue to worsen conditions for the poor. Today, the middle class stands in solidarity with itself, a shrinking segment of the population. The middle class demanded, “Not a crumb for the poor,” and Democrats gave them their wish. Would it shock you to learn that the poor do not stand in solidarity to protect the advantages of the middle class alone? They have more fundamental concerns than the privileges of the better off, such as their own survival.

    I know that middle class libs don’t want to hear this, but it is reality. It matters. Not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren’t jobs for all. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who are actively seeking one — and we don’t even count all those who were effectively pushed out of the job market (can’t get a job once you no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare). Ever wonder what happens to them? Democrats already lost 2016 by maintaining their war on the poor.

  • DHFabian

    Too late. There are no safe cities in the US. If the very poor hitch a ride to the city — then what? Occupy turned toxic for the masses once it was successfully redefined (by Dem pols and lib media) as a middle class movement alone. We’ve worked for decades to get a light shone on our poverty crisis, without success. When was the last time you heard a “bold progressive” call for restoring the basic human rights (per the UDHR) of food and shelter to our poor? Right. Yes, we do have people living in abandoned barns and RVs, praying to get through the winter, but they know conditions would be worse in the city. People out here (in this case, rural WI) aren’t stupid, and are keenly aware of the hostility of this generation toward our very poor. We simply have a country that no longer has the means to sustain its population. The US shipped out a massive number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s, and continues to ignore the consequences — our poverty crisis.

  • DHFabian

    The only fight I’ve seen in years (or maybe the only ones that lib media note) are those that demand protecting the advantages of the better-off alone, the middle class. Even liberals implicitly preach that our corporate state is so successful that everyone is able to work, there are jobs for all, therefore no need for poverty relief. Most recently, I see that they decided the worst-off an American can be is a minimum wage worker — with incomes roughly double what our former welfare aid provided. The corporate state must really be great for this country!

  • DHFabian

    The basic income guarantee actually would save the US economy, but it’s not going to happen. The US went in the opposite direction. As our attention began turning to the 2016 elections, Democrats kicked off 2015 by underscoring their priorities and values, voting to virtually end food stamps to the elderly poor and the disabled. Liberals promptly responded with… well, I’m sure someone said something. The middle class won’t tolerate allowing a penny to trickle down.

  • DHFabian

    No, nor would there be any point. This is the generation that won’t tolerate even the far smaller welfare aid we used to provide. I don’t think middle classers can even grasp that not everyone can work (health, etc.) and that we don’t have jobs for all.

  • DHFabian

    Ideas for eventual jobs. In the meantime…? What about those who can’t work (health, age, circumstances)? What is the logic of talking about pipe dreams (replanting the rain forests) while ignoring the most critical issues right here? The things we actually COULD change if we cared enough to speak up? When was the last time you heard a liberal stand up and call for restoring desperately needed poverty relief in the US? That is something we actually could have done. The very few who did speak up, were ignored.

  • Jon

    DH, Note my words above: “who can do so” which answers your first question. I certainly did not say or mean anything about “ignoring critical issues,” as you suggest. I am merely saying there is no shortage of work to be done, and we do not need to limit ourselves by thinking that only jobs provided by this profit incentivized economic system are viable. I am thinking big and long term, and obviously could have said much more, so please don’t critique what I did not say.

  • kevinzeese

    The article mentions all that you say and goes beyond FDR to solutions for the 21st Century, including solving poverty and those who will not be able to earn an income.

  • kevinzeese

    With every comment I read of yours it becomes more evident you did not read the article. It does not talk about an economy for the better off. It describes an economy that serves everyone. It is not only about the middle class but giving everyone economic power, even those unable to work.

    The war on the poor and the refusal to solve poverty and homelessness are some of the failures of the current economy. If you read this article you see it addresses those issues.

  • ALEC-2 Webmaster

    AL — A way is available, it’s called an Article V Amendments Convention. A huge fight is currently going on between several private groups and the federal government lawyers to continuing delaying the COUNT of amendments submitted by 49 out of 50 states — 750 and counting. The problem: Congress has never counted them, so they’re not official.

  • kevinzeese

    You hear about restoring human rights for food and shelter on this website regularly. We focus on poverty and homelessness and the unfairness of the economy. If you read the article you will see we address those issues, one example is a Guaranteed Basic Income.

    Occupy did not give up on the poor. Occupy was not defined by the media or politicians. Indeed, we revolted against their attempts to define and coop us.

  • kevinzeese

    I am glad you added that these are what the media says, it is not what we say and as you can see on this website we regularly cover issues that impact the poorest among us, just as this article does.

  • kevinzeese

    I am more confident then you in the power of the people if they organize and mobilize. The Basic Income is an answer for everyone, not just the poor, it will have widespread support when it is understood. Yes, of course we need to redirect the country. It is off-track. That is why we are here to build a movement to make that kind of transformative change. I am sorry you feel like that kind of power can’t be built. It is being build and the movement is winning important issues.

  • kevinzeese

    That is only true for a portion of society. Polls show that the government is out of step with the people on these issues. We need to empower people so they take on the government. That is why we need to build a mass movement.

  • kevinzeese

    I don’t know about a “liberal” but I see people speaking up all the time for dealing with issues like poverty and homelessness. If you watch the mass media, I suggest you turn it off. It is depressing you and misleading you about what people actually think.

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  • Aquifer

    You may well be correct – it is not going to happen as long as well elect D/Rs – if you want a change you have to support and vote for folks who commit themselves to such change ..

  • Aquifer

    Well guess what – that “awful” middle class is shrinking and more and more are within sight of being poor themselves – that does change one’s perspective …

  • Aquifer

    Please – stop focusing on labels – “liberal” means different things to different people , there are folks who are calling for addressing these issues, whatever you want to call them – call them “charlie” for all it matters – the point is to, as said, develop a 2 pronged approach, build strong movements to demand needed changes AND support a political arm that can instantiate those demands into policy and law …

  • Aquifer

    No, we live in a country that HAS the means to support its population – that shipping out of jobs and gutting of welfare were not policies that fell from the sky – they were political choices, choices, sorry, but yes, that we the people made at the polls – the gutting of social programs was no more a “given” than was the institution of SS and Medicare in the first place – they were ALL political decisions and we can make better ones …

    We bought into the “market model of life” and chose pols who handed more and more of our lives over to The Market – a market whose benefactors, and primary beneficiaries were private corps for whom outsourcing and “right sizing” (the euphemism for “firing”) were the “perfect” tools …

    “Gov’t bad, private good” became the mantra and we swallowed it, for Pete’s sake – and to make sure it became a self fulfilling prophecy – when we put the marketeers in office, they gutted social programs and appointed half ass administrators (remember “heck of a job Brownie” during Hurricane Katrina?) to make sure gov’t failed and looked bad, or administrators who were so far up corp asses that gov’t became “efficient” – in one area only, screwing the little folk to favor the rich – so we wound up with either an incompetent or extraordinarily venal gov’t that nobody, even, or perhaps especially, a mother, could love …

    But it doesn’t have to be that way – as Stein would say – “it’s in our hands” – and we better take those hands out of our pockets, role up our sleeves and fix it lickety split ..

  • Aquifer

    But. IMO, one mistake Occupy did make was in refusing to support a political arm to carry on the fight inside the halls of gov’t –

  • DHFabian

    We ended “alms for the poor.” Actual welfare ended in the 1990s, and people can be arrested for panhandling. It’s not the “ruling class,” but the mainstream masses that have embraced the war on the poor.

  • DHFabian

    Yes, and I stress this point when mentioning Occupy as well. Occupy actually WAS a people’s movement, but was redefined (with notable help from, especially, MSNBC) as a middle class movement alone. I also make the distinction between progressive media (which is scarce) and “the media marketed to liberals.”

  • Thank you! VERY well said. But still: What to do? Some cities and regions are not equal with respect to the market hell that has come home to roost. The discussion begins.

    Oh, and OWS was no middle-class hootenanny or fun-filled diversion, as alluded to above by a previous commenter. We have Occupy to thank for starting the push-back revolt of the 99% of US citizens against the tyranny of a few criminal banks and greed-centered “owners of industry”. “The game is on!” – SH

  • Not so fast. I’m sure, Aquifer, we are very close to seeing the same vision of a loving future. Occupy was a phenomena of historic proportions, and in my opinion, correctly followed internally-driven “people forces” that reacted with love to the crimes of the criminal wealthy. (The 2-party duopoly has ignored with disdain, too long – and still does, except maybe for Bernie). A hiatus that brings us us to now. NOW is always the right time. In fact, not meaning to seem crazy, but “now” is always the right time for everyone to act, and make a difference. I abhor the concept of fate. But LOVE is real. love is the truth, and love will be the final episode of our current post Occupy days..

  • Aquifer

    Well, here’s a good start – kick D/Rs out of Congress and the WH and replace them with non-corp indies –
    Stein for Pres, Flowers for Senate, e.g.

  • Aquifer

    Hmmm, I don’t know that’s how i would describe Occupy, but the point stands – it needed/needs a political arm …

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  • DHFabian

    What America did, in a nutshell: From FDR to Reagan, the US implemented policies and programs (with a focus on poverty) that took the country to its height of wealth and productivity — far from perfect, but a work in progress. We built a massive middle class that had a very good quality of life, and even during periodic economic downturns, social programs ensured that no one would go homeless and hungry. Then Americans changed their minds, and decided to do just the opposite. We ended the programs, reversed the policies, and the inevitable happened.

    “Populist” refers to the people, the proverbial masses — the poor and middle class, workers and the jobless, etc. There is no populist movement today. Those masses are deeply divided and pitted against each other. This isn’t happy-talk, but it needs to be recognized as a factor in our current situation.

  • DHFabian

    What “radical economic change” would this generation want, and for whom? Put it this way: What would you do about the masses of poor, those for whom there are no jobs, and many who are unable to work? Nothing will change by just agreeing to another decade of calling for job creation, and waiting for the trickle down fairy. Or put it this way: If we had a revolution, who would fight whom? We’re split into rich vs. middle class vs. poor.

    Occupy is an interesting example of what happens. What began as an extraordinary people’s movement was quickly redefined (by Dem pols, liberal media) as a middle class movement alone. The rest of us walked away, and that was the end of any actual movement. To think that we can rebuild the economy “from the middle out” is as ridiculous as trying to build a house starting with the second floor, with nothing beneath it.

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