The Political Economy Of Obama/Trump

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By Richard D. Wolff for Counter Punch. US capitalism is again careening down blind alleys. Earlier it had crashed into the Great Depression from 1929 to 1933 before lurching into the New Deal. After 1945 it concentrated on rolling back the New Deal until it turned sharply to neoliberalism and “globalism” in the 1970s. That provided the comforting illusion of a few decades of “prosperous normalcy.” When the second major crash in 75 years hit in 2008, it exposed the debt-dependent reality of those decades. It also sent capitalism careening through a new depression followed by a devastating austerity regime. The economic careening provokes the political: its establishment center cannot hold.

New Report Claims UBI Would Grow U.S. Economy By $2.5 Trillion

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By Dom Galeon for Futurism – The new study based its forecasts on three basic income scenarios. According to the first of these, if adults are given $1,000 every month, the U.S. economy could grow by 12.56 percent after an eight-year implementation. With current GDP pegged at $19.8 trillion by the Congressional Budget Office, this translates to a total growth of $2.48 trillion. In the second and third scenarios, a monthly UBI of $500 and $250 could lead to a GDP growth of 6.5 percent and 0.79 percent, respectively. It’s also worth noting that the report used an economic model that assumed that growth is constrained due to low household incomes, which the researchers note is debatable. Proponents of UBI now include experts from various fields, including some of the tech industry’s most prominent figures and entrepreneurs, as well as some of the world’s leading economists. Yet, just like any radical idea, UBI isn’t without its skeptics, and the biggest source of concern for these critics is funding. Just how would a government pay for a UBI program? An obvious answer would be through taxes, but according to the Roosevelt report, this set-up would essentially be pointless for the economy: “When paying for the policy by increasing taxes on households rather than paying for the policy with debt, the policy is not expansionary. In effect, it is giving to households with one hand what it is taking away with the other. There is no net effect.”

Destructive Stock Buybacks—That You Pay For

'Conventional monetary policy has failed,' writes Brown. An economy in service of the people, not industry and the banks, is what's needed now. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Ralph Nader for The Nader Page – The monster of economic waste—over $7 trillion of dictated stock buybacks since 2003 by the self-enriching CEOs of large corporations—started with a little noticed change in 1982 by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under President Ronald Reagan. That was when SEC Chairman John Shad, a former Wall Street CEO, redefined unlawful ‘stock manipulation’ to exclude stock buybacks. Then after Clinton pushed through congress a $1 million cap on CEO pay that could be deductible, CEO compensation consultants wanted much of CEO pay to reflect the price of the company’s stock. The stock buyback mania was unleashed. Its core was not to benefit shareholders (other than perhaps hedge fund speculators) by improving the earnings per share ratio. Its real motivation was to increase CEO pay no matter how badly such burning out of shareholder dollars hurt the company, its workers and the overall pace of economic growth. In a massive conflict of interest between greedy top corporate executives and their own company, CEO-driven stock buybacks extract capital from corporations instead of contributing capital for corporate needs, as the capitalist theory would dictate. Yes, due to the malicious, toady SEC “business judgement” rule, CEOs can take trillions of dollars away from productive pursuits without even having to ask the companies’ owners—the shareholders—for approval.

Beijing’s “Belt And Road” Initiative, Towards An Economy Of Peace?

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By Peter Koeing for Information Clearing House – August 31, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – Why is the world one huge fireball of hostilities, conflicts, threats of economic sanctions, propaganda of lies and mind manipulations, fearmongering – killing – massive killing – 12-15 million people killed since 9/11? – Why is that? And all provoked and executed by ONE country, and her vassals in the form of NATO, stooges of Brussels and the Middle East, and their prostituted proxies, paid mercenary whores, Islamic State, by the one Rogue Nation the world is subjected to – the United States of America. All that at the cost of trillions of dollars, tax-payers’ money – really? – More likely privately FED, Wall Street created fiat money, pyramid money, based on usury and debt, subjugating debt to be pillaged from the ordinary citizens; but government debt never to be repaid, as per Alan Greenspan (FED Chairman, 1987-2006) to an exasperated journalist who asks, when will the US ever pay back its huge debt? – “Never – we will just print new money”. – So, is it really ‘tax-payers’ money’? – Would tax-payers’ money be able to pay for these trillions and trillion spent on conflicts, wars and hostilities – hundreds of billions spent on propaganda of deception and lies to promote endless assassinations around the globe? Hardly.

Amid Warnings Of Financial Crash, Fed Chair Promotes Illusions

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By Nick Beams for World Socialist Web Site. Wyoming (August 26, 2017) – Yesterday’s speech by Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen to the conclave of central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming recalled events at the gathering 12 years ago. At that meeting, the growing signs of the devastating financial crisis that was to strike in 2008 were completely ignored. That was likewise the situation at this year’s meeting, held under conditions where the surge in stock markets is bringing warnings of a major collapse. The 2005 meeting was organised as a celebration of the achievements of the “Maestro,” Fed chief Alan Greenspan, whose policies, it was claimed, had brought a new era of prosperity to the global economy.

US Vastly Escalates Economic War On Venezuela

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By Telesur. Venezuela – President Nicolas Maduro says the new financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. president on Venezuela are illegal, and the first to suffer will be U.S. investors. He said the prohibiton on U.S. citizens and companies buying Venezuelan bonds and securities, is an attempt to strangle Venezuela’s economy. “Can the world accept this?” he asked, and called for solidarity from the world community. He recognized that the sanctions will mean sacrifice for the Venezuelan people. But he said they also open up the opportunity for a new era of independence. On this day in 2017, he said, “begins the stage of post-domination by the United States, with Venezuela again at the center of this struggle for dignity and liberation.”

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.

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are A Staggering $5 Tn Per Year

In this photo taken on November 19, 2015, smoke belches from a coal-fired power station near Datong, in China’s northern Shanxi province. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

By John Abraham for The Guardian – Fossil fuels have two major problems that paint a dim picture for their future energy dominance. These problems are inter-related but still should be discussed separately. First, they cause climate change. We know that, we’ve known it for decades, and we know that continued use of fossil fuels will cause enormous worldwide economic and social consequences. Second, fossil fuels are expensive. Much of their costs are hidden, however, as subsidies. If people knew how large their subsidies were, there would be a backlash against them from so-called financial conservatives. A study was just published in the journal World Development that quantifies the amount of subsidies directed toward fossil fuels globally, and the results are shocking. The authors work at the IMF and are well-skilled to quantify the subsidies discussed in the paper. Let’s give the final numbers and then back up to dig into the details. The subsidies were $4.9 tn in 2013 and they rose to $5.3 tn just two years later. According to the authors, these subsidies are important because first, they promote fossil fuel use which damages the environment. Second, these are fiscally costly.

Newsletter: Policies For The People

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Political economist C. J. Polychroniou recently interviewed David M. Kotz, author of “The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism,” about the transition in the US from a regulated capitalism instituted under FDR that protected workers and the vulnerable to some extent to a financialized global neoliberal capitalism that started in the 1970s. Under neoliberalism, the rich got richer while protections for workers in the form of unions and and the vulnerable in the form of a social safety net were dismantled. In addition, the environmental impacts of industry and fossil fuels are barely considered despite the reality of climate change. Neoliberalism crashed in 2008 and has remained in a crisis state ever since with a stagnating economy, growing wealth divide and political turmoil. Crises are turning points.

Newsletter: When Empires Fall

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The Pentagon recently released a report, “At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World,” which details its concerns about losing access to resources and “resistance to authority” both at home and around the world as governments lose legitimacy. Faced with these changes, the United States could embrace them, become a cooperative member of the world, transition to a lower-waste lower-energy sustainable existence and draw back the military to use those resources to meet domestic needs. Sadly, that is not what the Pentagon has in mind. There is a saying, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The US is the biggest empire in the world; therefore, the Pentagon’s solutions are “more surveillance, more propaganda (‘strategic manipulation of perceptions’) and more military expansionism.” The United States’ reign as an Empire is coming to an end. It is up to those of us living in the US to take action to prevent more aggression and demand that the US dismantle its empire in a way that causes the least harm at home and abroad.

Our Obsolescent Economy

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By Steven Gorelick for Local Futures – A friend of mine from India tells a story about driving an old Volkswagen beetle from California to Virginia during his first year in the United States. In a freak ice storm in Texas he skidded off the road, leaving his car with a cracked windshield and badly dented doors and fenders. When he reached Virginia he took the car to a body shop for a repair estimate. The proprietor took one look at it and said, “it’s totaled.” My Indian friend was bewildered: “How can it be totaled? I just drove it from Texas!” My friend’s confusion was understandable. While “totaled” sounds like a mechanical term, it’s actually an economic one: if the cost of repairs is more than the car will be worth afterwards, the only economically ‘rational’ choice is to drive it to the junkyard and buy another one. In the ‘throwaway societies’ of the industrialized world, this is an increasingly common scenario: the cost of repairing faulty stereos, appliances, power tools, and high-tech devices often exceeds the price of buying new. Among the long-term results are growing piles of e-waste, overflowing landfills, and the squandering of resources and energy. It’s one reason that the average American generates over 70% more solid waste today than in 1960.

The High Cost Of Insurance Profits

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By Peter Dolack for Systemic Disorder. You could not devise a worse health care system than that of the United States if you tried. By far the most expensive, with among the worst results. Perhaps saying “among” the worst results is being too kind. That is an accurate statement if we are simply measuring metrics such as mortality rates and other medical outcomes. But if we consider that tens of millions of United Statesians go without health insurance while none do in any advanced capitalist country (or most any other) — and that tens of thousands annually die because of that lack — then we must reasonably assess the U.S. health care system as the worst. This is the high cost of private profit in health care. How much? The United States spends more than $1.4 trillion per year than it would otherwise if it had a single-payer system.

Newsletter - Positive Actions You Can Take This Summer

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. This week, we look at some of the current struggles in the United States and ways that you can get involved this summer. From protecting health care, net neutrality and the environment to building positive alternatives that transform our current dysfunctional systems, there is something for everyone to do. Read on to learn what’s happening and how to take action. This is the time to rise up and protect our families, communities and planet.

Mobilizing For A Culture Of Nonviolence This Fall

Poverty Fuels European Extremism

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By Andrew Spannaus for CounterPunch. Less stable employment conditions and the stagnation or regression of salaries have created the fertile ground for populist movements on the right in particular, which now mix their traditional nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric, with criticism of the economic orthodoxy of the supranational European Union (E.U.) institutions. In recent years the prevailing response from economists has been that many Western nations are simply unable to compete in sectors dominated by low costs and the high efficiency unleashed by globalization. This narrative, however, is used to hide a more troubling reality: government institutions have contributed directly to the economic difficulties with their own actions, driving down living standards through multiple waves of austerity and blocking attempts to break from the neoliberal principles that dominate among E.U. institutions.