New Zealand’s New Prime Minister Calls Capitalism A ‘Blatant Failure’

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By Chris Baynes for Independent – New Zealand’s new prime minister called capitalism a “blatant failure”, before citing levels of homelessness and low wages as evidence that “the market has failed” her country’s poor. Jacinda Ardern, who is to become the nation’s youngest leader since 1856, said measures used to gauge economic success “have to change” to take into account “people’s ability to actually have a meaningful life”. The 37-year-old will take office next month after the populist New Zealand First party agreed to form a centre-left coalition with her Labour Party. They will be supported by the liberal Greens. New Zealanders had been waiting since 23 September to find out who would govern their country after national elections ended without a clear winner. Ms Ardern has pledged her government will increase the minimum wage, write child poverty reduction targets into law, and build thousands of affordable homes. In her first full interview since becoming prime minister-elect, she told current affairs programme The Nation that capitalism had “failed our people”. “If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure,” she said. “What else could you describe it as?” Incumbent prime minister Bill English, whose National Party has held power for nine years, has said his party grew the economy and produced increasing budget surpluses which benefited the nation.

Social Emotional Data. New Cash Cow In Corporate Assessment Industry

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By Staff of Peg with Pen – Recently I was asked to allow my son to participate in a survey at school. The “opt in” survey form specifically stated, “the questions on the survey relate to peer relationships, how safe students feel at school, and the quality of student-teacher relationships.” It went on to say that the questions might make my son feel uncomfortable and that this was all voluntary, with the ultimate goal being to “inform a more effective bullying prevention program and help improve the safety, social and emotional skills, and well-being for all students.” There it was. Social Emotional. The new cash cow in corporate assessment building. ESSA created an additional data point which schools must use to report their progress. Each year schools must report back on school quality in some shape or form; in other words, how is the school climate? Is there bullying? Is it safe? How well are students or teachers engaged and are they feeling confident, successful? More or less, it’s about feelings. How we feel and interact as humans, is complex and incredibly difficult to confine to a data point. Confining learning to a data point is not new. They’ve managed to confine academic learning to data points by defining finite standards which must be measured in small bites in order to create the ability to control teaching and learning (therefore humans) and profit off of public schools.

Chocolate Barons Devastate National Parks In West Africa

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By Davis Harper for Eco Watch – For several years, chocolate barons have devastated forests to make room to plant cocoa, a crop that naturally grows in shade. Now, a report from Mighty Earth—a nonprofit that works to conserve threatened landscapes—shows new evidence that illegal deforestation is occurring in protected areas; specifically, in the national parks of West Africa. The Ivory Coast and Ghana produce a combined 2.6 million tons of chocolate—60 percent of the world’s supply. It’s no wonder so many of these nations’ protected lands are at risk. According to Mighty Earth’s report, 10 percent of Ghana’s tree cover has been replaced by cocoa monocultures. The Ivory Coast, once heavily forested and extremely biodiverse, has lost seven of its 23 protected areas to cocoa. Due to habitat loss, its chimpanzees are now endangered, and its elephants are nearly extinct. This means that companies like Mars, Nestlé, Hersey’s and Godiva are on the hot seat for making products using cocoa grown by uncertified sources. “Chocolate companies have taken advantage of corrupt governance in Ghana and the Ivory Coast to deforest parklands,” saic Glenn Horowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth. With a rising demand for the world’s guiltiest pleasure, chocolate companies are also taking advantage of farmers—on average, these growers are paid less than 80 cents a day.

Hundreds Of Billions In Taxes Avoided Off-Shore By Corporations

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By Staff of U.S. PIRG – U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to paying taxes. Corporate lobbyists and their congressional allies have riddled the U.S. tax code with loopholes and exceptions that enable tax attorneys and corporate accountants to book U.S.-earned profits in subsidiaries located in offshore tax haven countries with minimal or no taxes. Often a company’s operational presence in a tax haven may be nothing more than a mailbox. Overall, multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid an estimated $100 billion in federal income taxes each year. Every dollar in taxes that corporations avoid must be balanced by higher taxes on individuals, less public investments and services and more federal debt. But corporate tax avoidance is not inevitable. Congress could act tomorrow to shut down tax haven abuse by revoking laws that enable and encourage the practice of shifting money into offshore tax havens. This should be the cornerstone of any congressional tax reform effort. Instead, many in Congress are considering proposals that would make offshore tax avoidance worse. By failing to act, our elected officials are tacitly approving a status quo in which corporations don’t pay what they owe and ordinary Americans inevitably must make up the difference.

Moral Courage, Redefining Progress And Myth Of Social Democracy

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By William Hawes for Counter Punch – The revolution will only come as a result of inner, mental transformation, as Krishnamurti foretold. Political movements may urge people towards an outward revolution of the economic structure, but ultimately, it is up to each one of us as individuals to awaken from the slumber that imperialism and capitalism has imposed on us. This is a huge problem in the West: expecting some sort of political party or savior to rearrange the structure of society, from the top down of the establishment, without a viable protest movement and without on-the-street citizen engagement. Liberal “progressives” are therefore attracted to social democracy. Piecemeal reform, led by establishment Democrats offering a “New New Deal” to industry and workers will most likely lead us to the slaughterhouse, to the bottomless pit Western civilization has been leading us for centuries. “Green capitalism” is another lie advanced by such mainstream social and environmental justice advocates and Democrats. There’s been a lot of talk among progressives and self-styled Leftists about social democracy. Bernie Sanders talked up social democracy on his campaign, heaping praise on the Scandinavian countries as models the US should emulate.

The Wealthiest 1% Inherited An Average Of $4.8 Million

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By Nathaniel Lewis and Matt Bruenig for Peoples Policy Report – Using the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances, we broke down mean inheritance levels by wealth decile. It is important to emphasize here that these are self-reported inheritances. Survey participants are asked to think back throughout their life and identify all the wealth transfers they have received and when they received them. Naturally this is prone to misreporting and, one would think, especially prone to underreporting as people tend to forget what gifts they have received over the years. Nonetheless, as you would expect, wealthier families are much more likely to have inherited wealth. Additionally, the wealthier a family is, the more they have generally inherited. For starters, here is the percent of families in each wealth decile who have received any inheritance.

Left And Right Have Nothing In Common On NAFTA

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By Stephanie Basile for Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – Today, the fourth round of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are taking place in Washington, DC. Protests are planned at multiple locations around DC, including a petition delivery of over 360,000 signatures to Congress demanding the elimination of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). United under the threat from continually expanding corporate power, the fight against NAFTA has brought together a cross-section of social movements, including unions, community groups, land reform movements, environmentalists, food safety groups, and internet rights organizations.

The End Of Empire

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By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – The American empire is coming to an end. The U.S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U.S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too. The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine.

Vulture Capitalists Circle Above Puerto Rican Prey

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By Bill Moyers for Moyers and Company – As people in Puerto Rico are dying and President Trump lashes out at San Juan’s mayor, Bill talks with social anthropologist Yarimar Bonilla about the challenges Puerto Ricans face in the wake of the storm. Puerto Rico is devastated. Two hurricanes plunged the island into darkness and despair. Crops perish in the fields. The landscape of ruined buildings and towns resemble Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped on it. Over 3 million people are desperate for food, water, electricity and shelter. After a slow start, the Trump administration is now speeding up the flow of supplies to the island. A top US general has been given command of the relief efforts. And, like so many others, Yarimar Bonilla watches with a broken heart as her native Puerto Rico struggles. This noted social anthropologist — a scholar on Caribbean societies — says the hurricanes have made an already bad fiscal and economic crisis worse, and she sees darker times ahead unless major changes are made in the structure of power and in Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States. Last night on NBC, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz made a spontaneous statement expressing her frustration with insufficient relief efforts that went viral. Before you read my interview with Yarimar Bonilla please take two minutes to watch this video.

The Silencing Of Dissent

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By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of “fake news.” No dominant class can long retain control when the credibility of the ideas that justify its existence evaporates. It is forced, at that point, to resort to crude forms of coercion, intimidation and censorship. This ideological collapse in the United States has transformed those of us who attack the corporate state into a potent threat, not because we reach large numbers of people, and certainly not because we spread Russian propaganda, but because the elites no longer have a plausible counterargument. The elites face an unpleasant choice. They could impose harsh controls to protect the status quo or veer leftward toward socialism to ameliorate the mounting economic and political injustices endured by most of the population. But a move leftward, essentially reinstating and expanding the New Deal programs they have destroyed, would impede corporate power and corporate profits.

The Road To Charlottesville: Reflections On 21st Century U.S. Capitalist Racism

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By Paul Street for Counter Punch – The United States, where median Black household wealth is less than 7 cents on the white household dollar and where the mild slogan “Black lives matter” is considered controversial, is still very much a racist nation. Grasping the nature of this national racism in 21stcentury means looking at the different levels on which race operates here. One level is at the nation’s discursive and symbolic surface. It is about language, imagery, signs, the color of elite personnel, representation, and, well, symbols. A different and deeper level is institutional and structural. It’s about how labor markets, the financial sector, the real estate industry, the educational system, the criminal justice complex, the military state, the corporate system, the dominant media, and capitalism more broadly all work to deepen, maintain, and/or reduce racial oppression and inequality. At the surface and symbolic level, racism has experienced significant defeats in the United States since the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the middle and late 1950s. Open public bigotry has been largely defeated in the nation’s corporate-crafted public culture.

After The Financial Crisis: How The Ultra-Wealthy Have Prospered

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By Nick Beams for WSWS – It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The same might apply to a graph. One such case is a striking graphic, published in the Financial Times this week, showing a downturn in the wealth of the world’s top-ten billionaires in the financial crisis of 2008, and then roaring back, at an even greater rate than in the past, to reach new heights. As the brief article noted, the net worth of the world’s “very wealthiest people took a hit during the financial crisis as the stock market tumbled—but that pause would be short lived.” The crisis proved to be but a “temporary setback.” The graphic serves to underscore the real meaning of the word “recovery,” which is so frequently bandied about by the heads of the world’s major economic institutions to describe the state of the world economy. In fact, it has nothing to do with economic reality. On the contrary, it reveals the state of the world’s ultra-wealthy, in contrast to the situation confronting hundreds of millions of working people in the major economies, where real incomes remain below their level before the 2008 crisis, and wealth has contracted.

Social Democracy Is Good. But Not Good Enough.

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By Joseph M. Schwartz Bhaskar Sunkara for Jacobin Magazine – John Judis has all the right intentions. He’s looking at the resurgence of openly democratic socialist currents in the United States with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Excitement, because he knows how desperately the country’s workers need social reforms. Trepidation, because he worries that the new left might fall into the familiar traps of insularity and sectarianism. But while Judis wants us to change society for the better, his response to the failures of twentieth-century state socialism would lead us into the dead end of twentieth-century social democracy. In his New Republic essay “The Socialism America Needs Now,” Judis makes a passionate plea for the rebuilding of a social-democratic movement — or what he calls “liberal socialism.” He contends that the welfare state and democratic regulation of a capitalist economy should be the end goal for socialists, as past efforts at top-down nationalization and planning yielded the repressive societies and stagnant economies of the Soviet bloc. In contrast, Judis argues, the Scandinavian states are dynamic capitalist economies that are still far more equitable and humane than the United States. For him, socialism — democratic control over workplaces and the economy — consists of “old nostrums” whose days have past.

Western Financial And Trade Hegemony Disappearing

The Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin: Did the Russians hack U.S. election databases? (Yahoo News photo illustration, photos: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters, Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters, AP, AP)

By Jon Hellevig for Russia Insider – On the eve of the BRICS Summit in China’s Xiamen in the Fujian Province, a defiant Putin hit back on the Western elite vowing to destroy the US-led Western global financial and trade hegemony. Putin says it plain and clear in an article he penned ahead of the of summit that starts September 4th. It is fitting that the master judoka Putin announced his Sun-Tzunian strategy in connection with the Chinese summit. A multitude of Sun Tzu quotes lend themselves to a description of Putin’s approach, but in this connection, we have this one in mind: “What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.” That’s precisely what Putin is about to do, by addressing the US strategy of absolute dominance of the global economy and by aiming to take down the prevailing unfair global financial and economic architecture. And, there is no shortage of able allies, now with the rise of the economies of the free world: BRICS and the other emerging countries. Of course, all those backed up with the military might of China and Russia.

Is The Market Economy Working?

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By William Blum for the Anti-Empire Report. Speaking in very broad terms … slavery gave way to feudalism … feudalism gave way to capitalism … capitalism is not a timelessly valid institution but was created to satisfy certain needs of the time … capitalism has outlived its usefulness and must now give way to socialism … the ultimate incompatibility between capitalist profit motive and human environmental survival demands nothing less. The system corrupts every important aspect of our lives, including the one which takes up the most of our time -– our work, even for corporation executives, who demand huge salaries and benefits to justify their working at jobs that otherwise are not particularly satisfying.