In a time of high inflation, you hear a lot about companies “passing costs” on to customers. In order for companies to maintain their God-given right to earn a profit, they must raise prices to offset the cost of producing goods and getting them into peoples’ hands. And thanks mostly to the hidden risk, exposed by the pandemic, of neoliberal gospels like just-in-time logistics, deregulation, and offshoring, prices really are going up. But there’s something else mixed in with this latest bout of inflation. Companies aren’t just passing costs onto us. With corporations using inflation as a cover for raising their prices, you and I are passing profits onto companies. “Executives are seizing a once in a generation opportunity to raise prices,” reads a Wall Street Journal story explaining that around two-thirds of the largest publicly traded companies are showing profit margins higher today than they did in 2019, before the pandemic.
The program to develop a missile defense system to protect the United States mainland has existed in one form or another for nearly six decades. Though it was controversial from the beginning and faced nearly unsurmountable technical challenges, it has enjoyed bipartisan support and continued funding in Congress for more than 20 years. In July, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed their own versions of a defense authorization bill for 2021. By a wide majority, both chambers authorized more than $740 billion for defense spending next year.
On this week's Economic Update, Prof. Wolff discusses the following: Denmark's new taxes on banks and rich people to help workers doing dangerous jobs; West Virginia AG sues Walmart and CVS for complicity in opioid scandal; and US State Department urges universities to sell shares in Chinese corporations. On the second half of the show, Prof. Wolff interviews author and journalist Chris Hedges on signs of the declining US empire.
The uber-irony about the deadly coronavirus is that, as it claims lives, endangers millions and interrupts the social normal, threatening unprecedented global chaos, it is also quietly informing us what we must do to create a better world — and, indeed, creating it, in certain ways, as we look on in stunned wonder. The ”what we must do” part is obvious to many: “After all,” writes Lawrence Wittner, “why not work cooperatively to save humanity from massive global death and economic collapse rather than continue to devote $1.8 trillion a year to waging wars and engaging in vast military buildups with the goal of slaughtering one another?” And Khury Petersen-Smith, pointing out how xenophobic racism at the level of national government — e.g., Donald Trump’s initial impulse to blame China for the virus — fans the flames of public stupidity, writes: “The impact will be disastrous.
Just before the Korean War started in 1950, key foreign policy advisers to President Truman threw their support behind recommendations made in a classified document, National Security Council Document 68. The document recommended a dramatic increase in military spending and it also proposed that military spending from that point on should be the number one priority of the national government. When presidents sit down to construct a federal budget, the document said, they should first allocate all the money requested by military and corporate elites and lobbyists concerned with military spending. Only after the military advocates receive all they request should government programs address education, health care, roads, transportation, housing and other critical domestic issues.
Former president Jimmy Carter recently made a profound and damning statement — the United States is the “most warlike nation in the history of the world.” Carter contrasted the United States with China, saying that China is building high-speed trains for its people while the United States is putting all of its resources into mass destruction. Where are high-speed trains in the United States, Carter appropriately wondered. As if to prove Carter’s assertion, Vice President Mike Pence told the most recent graduating class at West Point that it “is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. . . . You will lead soldiers in combat.
Aside from the human toll, how much does endless war - and a growing number of US bases around the world - cost each year? This is an attempt to do a reasonable calculation of the cost to taxpayers of our hundreds of bases stationed around the world (those which are mostly outside the theatre of war), commencing with the end of The Great War. I undertook this exercise using my decades-long background in accounting, available public reports, articles, research papers, books (to connect the dots), interviews with current and former military personnel, and common sense.
August 16 - As resistance to the November military parade, ordered by President Trump, was gaining momentum, the Pentagon announced tonight that the parade is being "postponed" into 2019, which means it is essentially canceled. The parade was widely opposed by people in the United States. Army Times conducted a poll of its readers; 51,000 responded and 89 percent said, “No, It’s a waste of money and troops are too busy.” A Quinnipiac University poll found 61 percent of voters disapprove of the military parade, while only 26 percent support the idea.
A network of 187 organizations has come together to urge a mass protest against the military parade in November called for by President Trump. The military parade is widely opposed. Army Times conducted a poll of its readers; 51,000 responded and 89 percent said, “No, It’s a waste of money and troops are too busy.” A Quinnipiac University poll found 61 percent of voters disapprove of the military parade, while only 26 percent support the idea. The national consensus is there should not be a military parade. The organizations signed on to a letter that calls for the parade to be stopped...
On April 11, the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, announced that he was betraying a 55% majority of Burlington voters and a 75% majority of his city council that had opposed basing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at the Burlington Airport in South Burlington. The mayor betrayed his constituents in the limpest way, not by vetoing the popular resolution opposing the F-35, but by sending it on without his signature, while appending a dishonest and misleading cover letter inviting unelected leaders to have their way with Vermont.
Excessive military spending in the U.S. is undermining the well-being of our people and starving our non-military sectors. The cost of U.S. domestic and foreign militarism in 2016 totaled $741.3 billion: 64 percent of discretionary spending. Meanwhile, many of our cities are in ruins. Our public transportation systems are in shambles. Our educational system is in steep decline and being privatized. Opioid addiction, suicide, mass shootings, and hunger plague a country that has sunk into profound despair and poverty.
By Bruce Gagnon for Space for Peace. Already over many years General Dynamics has received more than $197 million in state and local tax breaks for BIW. In 2013 BIW asked for another $6 million tax break from the City of Bath. I worked with a small committee that organized a local campaign to oppose the tax cut and in the end a very reluctant city council voted to cut the request in half giving General Dynamics/BIW $3 million. That meant that citizen intervention saved the community $3 million that could be used for other local needs like salaries for firefighters, police, and for fixing crumbling infrastructure.