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.

The Astounding Size Of The Marijuana Economy

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By Phillip Smith for AlterNet. Marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in nearly 30 (although often under quite restrictive regulatory schemes). Between the two, legal weed is generating total annual sales of between $4 billion and $4.5 billion. But legal marijuana sales are dwarfed by sales in the black market, which according to a recent report in Marijuana Business Daily, accounts for about 10 times the size of the legal market, or about $45 billion to $50 billion. While that’s still only about half the size of the legal beer and tobacco market, it is nothing to sneeze at, and it puts marijuana well ahead of some major American economic sectors. Here are 10 products or services already being surpassed by pot, with the first five being smaller than the legal market and the second five being smaller than the estimated overall market, including both licit and illicit markets.

Impact Investing And Employee Ownership

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By Mary Ann Beyster for the Democracy Collaborative. With income inequality in the United States at record high levels, employee ownership is increasingly being lauded as a potential solution to spreading wealth more broadly. Most recently, research from the National Center for Employee Ownership released in May shows that employee owners have a household net worth that is 92 percent higher than non-employee owners. They also make 33 percent higher wages, and are far less likely to be laid off. But employee ownership requires new investment in order to get to scale. A new report by Mary Ann Beyster, president and trustee of the Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED), published by the Fifty by Fifty initiative of The Democracy Collaborative, examines the investing landscape for potential opportunities in employee ownership.

Our Economy Is Based On A Massive LIE That's Killing People

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By Lee Camp for Redacted Tonight. If you’ve noticed lately that corporations have been pillaging our world’s ever-dwindling natural resources as if they’re a Vegas style buffet while placing a premium on food, shelter, and medicine, then congratulations! You’ve seen that our country’s free-market capitalist system is reinforcing false scarcity–creating scarcity where there is none in order to make us pay more than we should for basic necessities. Advertising is a perfect example of how our economy reinforces your insecurities in order to make you buy and consume things you don’t really need, all while making corporations even richer. But by way of technology, there is hope that some human beings still want to create systems where everyone can benefit instead of a select few. Lee Camp has this and more on the latest Redacted Tonight.

Newsletter United To Save The Internet

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. The former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai, who now chairs the Federal Communications Commission has taken the first official steps to destroy the free and open Internet by proposing the end of Title II net neutrality rules on May 18. This would be a giveaway to Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other large Internet Service Providers that would allow them to control access to content on the Internet and charge users more fees. Chairman Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, is an example of the revolving door between government and industry that serves big business interests, and not the people. Pai has demonstrated during his first few months as chairman that he will say anything, including obvious lies, to serve the telecom industry. We must act quickly to save the Internet from going the road of cable TV

Newsletter - The People's Plan For Transformation

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. It is important to understand that we arrived in this situation by, what Moyers described as “careful long-range planning and implementation…consistency of action over an indefinite period of years…” By understanding this plan, we can realize that we can design a way out of it. This includes seeing through the propaganda and exposing the truth; not allowing ourselves to be divided into issue-based silos or taken off track by the agenda of a plutocratic political party; and organizing not just to resist, but more importantly to demand the changes we require in our communities and on the planet. Popular Resistance is one of the conveners of The People’s Congress of Resistance, a grassroots effort to build resistance and collaboration in our communities to solve the crises at hand and create a better world. One of the purposes of the conference will be to plan the future of the resistance movement and determine how we can work together more effectively. It’s time for the people to create a plan for the transformation we need.

The Next Financial Collapse Is On The Horizon

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By Lee Camp for Redacted Tonight. In 2008 after our country’s huge financial collapse, everyone was too busy watching the trainwreck that was our economy to notice how unnecessary the support for Wall Street was. Our government bailed out the big banks that screwed us over, while Americans continued to drown in financial instability. Now a similar financial crash is looming–only this time with student loan defaults. Compare today’s student loan rate figures to mortgage delinquency rates after the 2008 crash and it becomes clear that Americans may be on the cusp of an unfortunate deja vu. History has shown us that when a financial or natural disaster hits the fan, the government uses the opportunity to wield its power to push through a controversial agendas that otherwise would not have been acceptable to the population. Are we approaching another crisis? How will it be handled? Lee Camp goes into detail on how crises are used and manipulated by politicians in a new episode of Redacted Tonight.

More Equitable Economy Exists Right Next Door

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By Jay Walljasper for AlterNet – Business owners gather at an elegant Montreal event center to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a large-scale economic partnership. The former chief of Quebec’s largest bank is the guest of honor. Sidewalks bustle with people walking in and out of homes, offices, bank, pharmacy, workout studio and coffee shop at Montreal’s Technopole Angus, a development that already sports 56 business with 2500 employees and will eventually encompass a million-square-feet of real estate. Morning-shift workers unload barrels of paper onto conveyor belts emptying into giant shredding machines on the shop floor of Recyclage Vanier, a Quebec City firm specializing in secure disposal of confidential documents.

How Bankers Became Top Exploiters Of Economy

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By Michael Hudson for Counter Punch – The Next System Project’s Adam Simpson sat down with renowned economist and economic historian Michael Hudson to discuss economic deceptions old and new in the interview below. Michael Hudson is Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and a prolific writer about the global economy and predatory financial practices. Among his latest books are Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage to Ensure the Global Economy and its follow-up J is for Junk Economics. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

World's Top Industries Would Fail If They Paid For Natural Capital

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By David Roberts for Grist. Environmentalists these days love speaking in the language of economics — it makes them sound Serious — but I worry that wrapping this notion in a bloodless technical term tends to have a narcotizing effect. It brings to mind incrementalism: boost a few taxes here, tighten a regulation there, and the industrial juggernaut can keep right on chugging. However, if we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting phenomenon but as a deep description of current human practices, its implications are positively revolutionary. To see what I mean, check out a recent report [PDF] done by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors.

In Rust Belt Town That Covers Tuition, Economy Revives

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By J. Gabriel Ware for Yes! Magzine. Autre Murray, 24, never planned to go to college. He thought he couldn’t afford it—even with student loans. Besides, he wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of ending up in “debt up to the neck.” Instead, Murray planned to earn a high school diploma and find a job doing manual labor, maybe somewhere like a factory. He told himself he didn’t need a college education to become successful. But now he’s on his way to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, as are other members of his Kalamazoo, Michigan, hometown. That’s thanks to the Kalamazoo Promise, a scholarship program first announced at a board meeting of Kalamazoo Public Schools in November 2005. The nonprofit of the same name provides scholarships that cover 65 to 100 percent of college tuition and fees for all graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools who meet certain criteria.

From Bad To Worse For Puerto Rico

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By Joseph E. Stiglitz and Martin Guzman for Project Syndicate. SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s deep and prolonged recession has led to a severe debt crisis. And the combination of economic contraction and massive liabilities is having dire consequences for the island. Everywhere in the United States commonwealth, private-sector jobs are being lost. Total employment in Puerto Rico has fallen from 1.25 million in the last quarter of the 2007 fiscal year workers to less than a million almost a decade later. Without employment, large numbers of Puerto Ricans (who are US citizens) have emigrated. But, despite this flight, the unemployment rate is now 12.4%. Without job prospects, the labor participation rate has plummeted to 40%, two-thirds of the level on the US mainland. About 60% of Puerto Rico’s children live in poverty.

Re-Imagining Value: Care Economy, Commons, Cyberspace & Nature

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By David Bollier. What is “value” and how shall we protect it? It’s a simple question for which we don’t have a satisfactory answer. For conventional economists and politicians, the answer is simple: value is essentially the same as price. Value results when private property and “free markets” condense countless individual preferences and purchases into a single, neutral representation of value: price. That is seen as the equivalent of “wealth.” This theory of value has always been flawed, both theoretically and empirically, because it obviously ignores many types of “value” that cannot be given a price. No matter, it “works,” and so this theory of value generally prevails in political and policy debates. Economic growth (measured as Gross Domestic Product) and value are seen as the same.