By byLauren McCauley for Common Dreams – Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma accused the United States of spending too much money on foreign wars and risky financial speculation and not enough money “on your own people.” The founder of the world’s largest retailer, Alibaba, was addressing a question posed by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin about the U.S. economy in relation to China. In response, Ma said the U.S. should stop blaming other countries and look at its own spending priorities: “It’s not that other countries steal jobs from you guys,” Ma said. “It’s your strategy. You did not distribute the money and things in a proper way.”
By Staff of Waging Nonviolence – Donald Trump didn’t so much win the election as Hillary Clinton lost it. Clinton’s failure to turn out the Democrats’ traditional base on election day should be understood as a catastrophic failure of the Democratic Party establishment to fire up their base by responding to the growing public opposition to neoliberalism. This, in effect, was the key difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries: Sanders named the enemy — increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few under deregulated capitalism — and vowed to confront that power. Hillary Clinton preached a “realism” that simply accepted the ground rules of neoliberalism unchallenged. Compared to Trump’s repeated focus on how the country’s leaders had failed the working class
By Pan Pylas for Associated Press – DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday. Presenting its findings on the dawn of the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, anti-poverty organization Oxfam says the gap between the very rich and poor is far greater than just a year ago. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem. If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald Trump…
By Marc Botenga for Spectrezine – How on earth should we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty? If you look today at the European Union, or at the eurozone… what precisely is there to celebrate? Even Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker spoke in his recent State of the Union address of an “existential crisis.” I don’t very often agree with him, but on this occasion he’s definitely right. So there’s a crisis. That could not be otherwise, as some of us were already saying 25 years ago. Because, despite all of the promises of a social Europe, discussion here in Maastricht twenty-five years ago had nothing to do with European cooperation meant to improve things for you and me. Powerful lobbying groups such as the European Round Table of Industrialists had prepared the Treaty, elaborated it, rehearsed it.
By Staff of Left East – A: People are speculating all over the world on what the exchange rate will be in the future. They are buying future contracts, and you as a producer are buying in that sense an insurance policy. The production couldn’t go on without this. You know, when the US Congress wanted to put greater restrictions on the banks after the 2008-09 crisis, especially in the trading of derivatives, it was Caterpillar, the biggest American industrial multinational corporation that objected to this, because it would increase its costs in the derivative market. So there is an illusion that finance is not connected to the kind of production we have all over the world. It’s speculative, but every capitalist speculates when he invests.
By Chris Kanthan for Nation of Change. If we want to create a vibrant middle class, we have to abandon slogans and simplistic solutions and understand the bigger picture. There is no doubt that majority of Americans have gotten poorer over the last few decades even while the top 10% or so have done extremely well. In a world of slogans and minuscule attention span, the media and the pundits either completely deny this fact or justify it by focusing on advancements in technology or turn it into a partisan blame game. The reality is that multiple developments contributed to this decline of prosperity, much of it due to deliberate but gradual social and financial engineering. Without assigning ranking or weight, here is a look at twelve major reasons why Americans became poor.
By Richard D. Wolff for Truthout. Over the last century, capitalism has repeatedly revealed its worst tendencies: instability and inequality. Instances of instability include the Great Depression (1929-1941) and the Great Recession since 2008, plus eleven “downturns” in the US between those two global collapses. Each time, millions lost jobs, misery soared, poverty worsened and massive resources were wasted. Leaders promised that their “reforms” would prevent such instability from recurring. Those promises were not kept. Reforms did not work or did not endure. The system was, and remains, the problem. Inequality likewise proved to be an inherent trend of capitalism. Only occasionally and temporarily did opposition from its victims stop or reverse it.
By Charles Eisenstein – Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress. A Clinton Presidency would have offered four more years of that pretense. A woman President following a black President would have meant to many that things are getting better.
By Pete Dolack for Counter Punch – As capitalism lurches from crisis to crisis, and a world beyond capitalism becomes a possibility contemplated by increasing numbers of people, finding a path forward becomes an ever more urgent task. That path is likely to contain a multitude of possibilities and experiments, not all of which will prove viable. Psychological barriers will surely be a major inhibition to overcome; possibly the biggest roadblock given the still ubiquitous idea of “there is no alternative” that has survived despite growing despair at the mounting inequality and precarious futures offered by capitalism.
By Sarah Anderson for IPS – If President-elect Donald Trump succeeds in cutting the top marginal tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, Fortune 500 CEOs would save $196 million on the income taxes they would owe if they withdrew their tax-deferred funds. Unlike ordinary 401(k) holders, most top CEOs have no limits on annual contributions to their tax-deferred accounts. In 2015 alone, Fortune 500 CEOs saved $92 million on their taxes by putting $238 million more in these accounts than they could have if they were subject to the same rules as other workers.
By Cynthia Kaufman for Common Dreams – The election was terrible and means huge setback in the things we who support social and economic justice care about. For the climate it may mean the difference between the possibility of building a sustainable future and getting to the changes too late to avoid catastrophe. The current period is likely to give a major stress test to our constitutional and electoral systems, and those systems might not survive the next years intact. But it is also possible that with a huge setback to the politics of the neo-liberal consensus under which we have been living for the past 50 years, there is an opening for more progressive alternatives to gain more traction than we have dreamed possible in recent decades.
By Ama Biney for Pambazuka News – Former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s insulting dismissal of trans-Atlantic slavery and his opinion that Africans and people of African descent should “move on from this painful legacy, and continue to build for the future,” would never be audaciously uttered to Jewish people by this arrogant warmonger who bombed Libya and sought to bomb Syria, but the British House of Commons voted against such action. As the African American actor Danny Glover said, the Jamaican government should tell Britain to “keep your prison, give us schools, give us infrastructure, not prisons.”
By Brad Dixon for WSWS – The 21st Century Cures Act is an early Christmas gift from the US Congress to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The bill guts the regulatory powers of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), weakening the standards used to judge the safety and efficacy of drugs and medical devices. Notably, the bill does nothing to address skyrocketing drug prices. As part of its public relations cover for the corporate giveaway, Congress included in the bill some limited funding for biomedical research and other health initiatives. This funding, however, is not mandatory and will be subject to the annual appropriations battles over discretionary spending.
By Hanna Kozlowska for Quartz – Critics have long denounced private prisons in the US as unsafe, inefficient and at times, inhumane. Those critics, who include inmates and activists, seemed to find a powerful ally earlier this year when the Department of Justice announced it would phase out its use of private prisons for federal prisoners. This wouldn’t mean the end of privately-run incarceration facilities (they’re also used by immigration authorities and states), but it was seen as a step forward.