The Current Conflict In Spain Has A Lot To Do With Economic Failure

Screenshot 2017-11-07 at 8.39.11 AM

By Mark Weisbrot for Counterpunch – As Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy threatens to take over the autonomous region of Catalonia, it is becoming clearer even to casual observers who the bad guys are in this conflict. Generally, when one side is peaceful and seeks dialogue, and the other is committed to resolving the disagreement through force, repression, and violence — well, you get the picture. The Spanish government’s argument that the October 1 referendum on independence was unconstitutional is not so determinative as they would like us to believe. As Vicente Navarro, who has written for many years on Spain’s incomplete transition to democracy, notes: the 1978 constitution was much more a product of the 36-year dictatorship than it was of the democracy that was struggling to be born. And Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP) in particular has deep roots in political forces and people who were part of the Franco dictatorship. The anti-democratic character and fascist heritage of the PP government became glaringly evident when Rajoy sent thousands of troops into Catalonia in a failed attempt to stop people from voting. This was not, as he claimed, to enforce the law: the Spanish government could simply have allowed the vote and refused to recognize the result. Rather it was to crush the independence movement and the expression of their ideas by force

The Third Track: Trade That Builds Our Economy Anew


By Staff of IATP – President Trump is playing high stakes poker in the NAFTA talks, with his US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, at the helm. Laura Dawson, director of the Wilson Centre’s Canada Centre published an op-ed on 11 October in which she suggests there are two tracks to the NAFTA talks – one is moving ahead with the “easy consensus” (i.e. tracking new issues that gained prominence in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations), while the other, driven by Trump’s tweets and America First Agenda, is putting the whole enterprise at risk with incendiary statements and impossible demands. The agenda moving ahead for NAFTA reform seeks regulatory harmonization (to the lowest standard), longer monopolies on technology through tighter patent controls, and an extension of foreign investor rights over domestic legislation. It is an agenda much of the U.S. business community is squarely behind, and Canada’s and Mexico’s business communities, too. That agenda was moving along, its path likely smoothed by the fact that many of the negotiators knew one another from the TPP talks. NAFTA empowers an economics many civil society organizations have resisted for decades, whether trade unions, farm organizations, environmentalists, women’s organizations or church groups.

Greece: Alternative Economies & Community Currencies Pt. 1


By Niko Georgiades for Unicorn Riot – Athens, Greece – While capitalism and consumerism dominate the culture of the United States of America and the Western world, community currencies are creating a buzz elsewhere. The radical need for alternative economies and community currencies is becoming more commonplace among societies across the globalized world dealing with the crisis of mass poverty and inequality. In part one of our three part series shining a light on some of these alternatives, we look at the Athens Integral Cooperative. In the summer of 2017, the self-organized squat of Embros Theater hosted a speaking engagement discussing community currencies and alternative economies. After the discussion, we interviewed Theodore from the Athens Integral Cooperative (AIC) inside a social center in Exarcheia (Athens, Greece) about the parallel economy they are creating. Theodore gave a run down of what AIC is, the importance of it, as well as its struggles and how it modeled itself after Catalan Integral Cooperative (see our special on the Catalan Integral Cooperative). “We are building a substantial, alternative, and autonomous economy.”

Even A Modest Basic Income Could Improve Economic Security

Amanda / Flickr

By James King for Peoples Policy Project – The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) – a cash payment made to every person in the country with no strings attached – is becoming increasingly popular in experimental policy circles. Most proposals for a universal basic income are “complete” UBI proposals: payments large enough to guarantee a minimum standard of living to every person independent of work. In the US, that would be roughly $12,000 per person based on the poverty line. However, it is more likely that any universal cash payment passed in the US would be more modest to begin with, e.g. a low UBI of a few hundred dollars a month. As UBI advocates continue to advance their policy objectives, it is imperative to make the case that any UBI, even a small one, has significant benefits. In 2016, the Federal Reserve reported that nearly half of all Americans would not be able to cover a $400 emergency expense without either borrowing money or selling valuables. Although the financial status of Americans has been improving since the Great Recession, the majority of Americans earning less than $30,000 a year still worry about paying their bills every month and maintaining their standard of living. Money may not buy happiness, but even a partial UBI could help buy Americans peace of mind and provide many Americans an avenue to save money for emergencies. Opponents of a UBI might claim that such a low UBI would just get absorbed into each family’s normal consumption level and thus not improve their overall financial security.

Saki Hall, From Cooperation Jackson On Intersection Of Gender And Economics

Kristofher Muñoz

By Staff of Atlanta Black Star – My mom has told me a story several times of when my dad bartered a painting for bread. He had done a small oil painting of a loaf of bread with a wine bottle based on a local bakery. One day they were hungry and had no money, so he went to the bakery and in exchange for the painting the baker gave him the same daily baked long loaf of bread featured in my dad’s painting. At that time they lived on about $800 a month with only a VA pension and an SSI check. In New York City during the ’80s we used subway tokens in place of dollars at bodegas — a corner store — and with street vendors. My best friend and I stretched our resources on Saturdays by going through together with one token each way on the subway, and then we’d have two tokens to use for lunch. So, we could share a hot dog and a knish from a hot dog vendor. Another example that connects me to the work I’m doing now is the apartment building I grew up in on East 9th Street. My mother gave birth to me and my father delivered me in our apartment in 1978 with everyone from the building there pitching in. Our building went through a long coop conversion process. It was resident self-managed through the ’80s and then formally became a low-income co-op in the early 1990s. I did not know that I lived in a “shared-equity cooperative” until two years ago at a Community Land Trust conference I went to for Cooperation Jackson.

Clarifying Gandhi: POTUS, Rutherford, And Gandhi On Moral Economics

Gandhi during the Salt March, March-April 1930. (Wikimedia Commons/Walter Bosshard)

By P.K. Wiilley for TRANSCEND Media Service – 30 Aug 2017 – The question of what constitutes a wonderful and advanced civilization is dependent upon Justice, which is buttressed by economics. All great philosopher-doers, concerned with the betterment of human life have recognized that the handling of the economic means for living life must be guided by ethics and morality for the good of all. Gandhi was no exception. He undertook a task, the sheer enormity of which remains unsurpassed to date: to create a free, truly democratic, independent, unified India, out of dozens of princely states, out of rigid, feudal-social-mindset-stratifications, after nearly 400 years of brainwashing colonialism. His awesome effort assisted by a less bridled media, gave his voice world-wide amplification. Gandhi was able to clearly define unifying ideals, to demonstrate ethical means for our awareness to express itself towards and for each another. In the realm of economics, as with all the ideals he evolved to, Gandhi saw Justice clearly, with moral economics as the means to ensure Justice. To ensure that all could eat, have education, homes, clothes, decent and meaningful employment, the basics for a good life, was and is, human justice and basic decency to one another.

The Activists Who Helped Shut Down Trump’s CEO Councils

Mr Trump has said he needs more to time to decide whether to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement Evan Vucci/AP

By Sarah Anderson for Inequality – The CEOs who made up two White House advisory councils have fled like rats on a sinking ship. Their exodus — a dramatic rebuke of Donald Trump — came within 48 hours of the incendiary August 15 press conference where the President praised some of the participants of last week’s white supremacist rampage in Charlottesville, Virginia. But many of the CEOs on these councils had been under heavy pressure to disavow Trump’s agenda of hate and racism even before Charlottesville. That pressure came from grassroots activists. The Center for Popular Democracy, Make The Road New York, New York Communities for Change, and several other immigrant and worker advocates had led that activist campaign, targeting the leaders of nine major corporations affiliated with the Trump administration. The campaign, working through a web site called Corporate Backers of Hate, detailed the connections between the nine companies and the Trump administration and encouraged people to send emails to both the CEOs involved and members of their corporate boards. Throughout the spring and summer, the campaign also held protests against the companies, including a civil disobedience action at the JPMorgan Chase headquarters on May Day…

Black-Led Credit Union In North Minneapolis Is ‘The Most Important Work’ To Drive Economic Vitality

Me’Lea Conelly, Jonathan Banks and Malcolm in the hall of the Association for Black Economic Power office. Photo by Annabelle Marcovici.

By Camille Erickson for TC Daily Planet – “We can’t keep using the bodies of youth as the only tool for resistance,” Me’Lea Connelly, executive director of the Association of Black Economic Power (ABEP) said, “we need something else.” In the wake of the killing of Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, 2015 and the ensuing Fourth Precinct occupation, followed less than a year later by the killing of Philando Castile on July 6, 2016, Connelly recalled a drive for a concerted effort with movement organizers to diversify tactics of resistance against police brutality. A meeting was called, and after hours of conversation with a cross section of community, the group voted to create Minnesota’s only Black-led financial institution in North Minneapolis. A symbiotic relationship exists between ABEP and Blexit. Connelly described Blexit as the incubator and nest where ideas put forth by the community are percolated. ABEP puts them into action. The ABEP Executive Committee composed of – Connelly, Brett Grant, Ron Harris, Amber Jones, Danielle Mkali, Felicia Perry and Y. Elaine Rasmussen – are leading the effort to build the foundations of the credit union while still remaining deeply grounded in the conceptions of resistance movement.

The Slow Death Of American Freedom

Tattered American flag flies after Hurricane Sandy. (Education Images/UIG/Getty Images)

By Scott Gilmore for Mcleans – Francis Scott Key, the man who named the United States “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, owned six slaves. Granted, this was extremely common in the early 1800s. But Key, a public prosecutor, actually worked very hard to maintain slavery in America. When a Quaker wrote in an abolitionist newspaper “There is neither mercy nor justice” for African Americans in Washington, Key indicted him for trying to “vilify the good name” of the ruling class. He argued that even a public discussion of abolishing slavery was “wickedness”. The “land of the free” was a gross exaggeration. Nonetheless the phrase caught on. Throughout the last 200 years, Americans have viewed their homeland as a bastion of personal liberty. The Pilgrims, the Boston Tea Party, the Wild West, Wall Street—every thread in the national story is spun from tales of independence, of individual freedom and opportunity. But, over the years, and quietly, America has fallen behind the rest of the world, and without even noticing, its citizens have become much less free in comparison. The annual “Human Freedom Index”, a joint publication of the Fraser Institute, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the Cato Institute, considers 79 different indicators of personal and economic freedom.

A Clarion Call For Our Country’s Pillars To Demand Justice

200 members of Indivisible San Pedro formed the word "RESIST!" on Satruday at the Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. (Photo: Twitpic/@indivisible_sp)

By Ralph Nader for The Nader Page – Given the retrograde pits inhabited by our ruling politicians and the avaricious over-reach of myopic big-business bosses, the self-described pillars of our society must step up to reverse the decline of our country. Here is my advice to each pillar: Step up, lawyers and judges of America. You have no less to lose than our Constitutional observances and equal justice under law. A few years ago, brave Pakistani lawyers marched in the streets in open protest against dictatorial strictures. As you witness affronts to justice such as entrenched secrecy, legal procedures used to obstruct judicial justice, repeal of health and safety protections and the curtailment of civil liberties and access to legal aid, you must become vigorous first responders and exclaim: Stop! A just society must be defended by the courts and the officers of the court – the attorneys. Step up, religious leaders, who see yourselves as custodians of spiritual and compassionate values. Recall your heroic forebears who led non-violent civil disobedience during the repression of civil rights in the Nineteen Sixties – as with the leadership of the late greats Martin Luther King Jr. and William Sloane Coffin. Champion the Golden Rule for those who don’t believe that ‘he who has the gold, rules.’

Staten Island Climate March Links Economics And Environmental Issues

Marching down the FDR Boardwalk (Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / Union Writer)

By Thomas Altfather Good for National Writers Union – STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — April 29, 2017. On a unseasonably warm Saturday hundreds of Islanders assembled in Staten Island’s Midland Beach, a coastal community ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, to demand Climate Justice from the Trump Administration — linking economic and environmental issues. Workers from several local unions – including CWA Local 1102 and IBEW Local 3 – peace and environmental activists, and members of immigrant rights organizations gathered on Staten Island’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt boardwalk on Saturday. The protesters rallied and marched to demand climate justice from a president who appears to spend more time lounging in Mar-a-Lago and holding victory rallies than addressing pressing issues in a meaningful way. Organized by two local advocacy organizations, Sustainable Staten Island and Move Forward Staten Island, with a broad coalition of labor unions, immigration rights groups, environmental justice, social justice and other community organizations from throughout New York City, the event was timed to coinicide with climate marches held in other cities.

US Has Regressed To Developing Nation Status, MIT Economist Warns

Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row has LA's largest concentration of homeless people who regularly camp on the sidewalks in tents and cardboard boxes Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Independent – Peter Temin says 80 per cent of the population is burdened with debt and anxious about job security. America is regressing to have the economic and political structure of a developing nation, an MIT economist has warned. Peter Temin says the world’s’ largest economy has roads and bridges that look more like those in Thailand and Venezuela than those in parts of Europe. In his new book, “The Vanishing Middle Class”, reviewed by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Mr Temin says the fracture of US society is leading the middle class to disappear. The economist describes a two-track economy with on the one hand 20 per cent of the population that is educated and enjoys good jobs and supportive social networks. On the other hand, the remaining 80 per cent, he said, are part of the US’ low-wage sector, where the world of possibility has shrunk and people are burdened with debts and anxious about job security. Mr Temin used a model, which was created by Nobel Prize winner Arthur Lewis and designed to understand developing nations, to describe how far inequalities have progressed in the US.

The End Of Capitalism Has Begun

Welcome to an age of sharing. Illustration by Joe Magee

By Paul Mason for The Guardian – The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse. Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did. If you lived through all this, and disliked capitalism, it was traumatic.

Class And Trumponomics

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 12.38.41 PM

By Staff of Anti Cap – President-elect Donald Trump has inherited an economy that is as divided as the electorate. The question is, what will that economy look like if and when Trump’s right-wing national-populist promises and post-election proposals are enacted? As I have shown in the three installments of the first part of this series, “Class Before Trumponomics” (here, here, and here), over the course of recent decades and continuing through the crash and recovery, the class nature of the U.S. economy was transformed in dramatic fashion. Capital was able to pump more surplus out of U.S. workers and, through the combined processes of financialization

Trumponomics: It’s Not All Crazy

Photo by Ninian Reid | CC BY 2.0

By Dean Baker for Counter Punch – It looks like we will have to get used to the idea of Donald Trump being president for the next four years. In his campaign he pushed many outlandish proposals, like banning Muslim immigrants and deporting 11 million immigrants without documentation. We will have to do whatever we can to block such flagrantly inhumane measures. There are many other items on his campaign agenda and that of the Republican leadership that will have to be resisted, but at least one part of his agenda could actually offer real gains.