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Posts Tagged ‘Exploitation

Wal-Mart is concentrated neoliberalism

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Shopping ’til we all drop at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is concentrated neoliberalism. From working to weaken government at the same time it gorges on government subsidies, to exploitation of its workforce, to moving production to the places with the lowest wages and weakest laws, to underpaying taxes, the workers who walked out on Black Friday have no shortage of targets.

Some of the latest findings in a just released report reveal that Wal-Mart dodges $1 billion a year in taxes and is the recipient of an estimated $6.2 billion a year in indirect subsidies through social-welfare programs such as food stamps. A separate report also just published documents the poverty of Wal-Mart workers, many of whom regularly skip meals because their pay is so low……..    read more here

 

The Rise of American Cannibals

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The Economist  Nov 6th 2014

A NEW paper by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics suggests that, in America at least, inequality in wealth is approaching record levels. The authors examine the share of total wealth held by the bottom 90% of families relative to those at the very top. In the late 1920s the bottom 90% held just 16% of America’s wealth—considerably less than that held by the top 0.1%, which controlled a quarter of total wealth just before the crash of 1929. From the beginning of the Depression until well after the end of the second world war, the middle class’s share of total wealth rose steadily, thanks to collapsing wealth among richer households, broader equity ownership, middle-class income growth and rising rates of home-ownership. From the early 1980s, however, these trends have reversed. The top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and almost the same share as the bottom 90% of the population.

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95% of Income gains going to top 1%

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from The Benefits of Economic Expansions Are Increasingly Going to the Richest Americans

NYT 09/26/14       [Some call it Capitalism- looks more like Cannibalism…..]

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The age of rentier capitalism (we’re more exploited than ever!)

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     from the article: “….once economic liberalization [Neo-Liberalism] took off in the 1980s, the struggle was won decisively by capital, and labor’s share of total income has shrunk everywhere.”

   

Similarly, Neo-Libs and Neo-Cons have dominated politically, leaving little room for any who support social-democracy or justice. Power has consolidated against people.

 

How intellectual property makes us more unequal

Al Jazeera September 7, 2014 

 

It is well known that globalization has put strong downward pressure on wages and benefits of workers in wealthy countries, as companies have offshored and outsourced labor to lower-wage locations and justified wage cuts to try to stay competitive. But politicians and economists have yet to come to terms with the fact that in the rich world the income distribution system itself has broken down irretrievably.

The 20th century was the only century in which most income was divided between capital (profits) and labor (wages), with the struggle for shares mediated by the state through regulations, fiscal policy and a system of social protection. But once economic liberalization took off in the 1980s, the struggle was won decisively by capital, and labor’s share of total income has shrunk everywhere.

Meanwhile, rental income, linked to the control of natural resources, property, financial assets and intellectual property, has become a dominant force in the global economy.

This is the age of rentier capitalism; rich countries are becoming rentier economies. A rising share of global income is going to rent, rather than to wages or profits from productive activities. This perpetuates inequalities: It disproportionately favors the wealthy, and accentuates inequality over generations.  read more here

 

Reality check: Time To Get Crazy- by Chris Hedges

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A friend just sent me this, and I admit to being moved by the pure nature of Hedges narrative. On this Memorial Day we may mourn our own troops but we should grieve without ceasing for our nations victims: those we have obliterated, enslaved and left bereft. The foundation of America is built on their bones.

and re-posted today by Common Dreams

Time To Get Crazy

Native Americans’ resistance to the westward expansion of Europeans took two forms. One was violence. The other was accommodation. Neither worked. Their land was stolen, their communities were decimated, their women and children were gunned down and the environment was ravaged. There was no legal recourse. There was no justice. There never is for the oppressed. And as we face similar forces of predatory, unchecked corporate power intent on ruthless exploitation and stripping us of legal and physical protection, we must confront  how we will respond.

The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the “expanding” wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries. At the very end, it all will come down like a house of cards.

Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality. Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth. Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism “a machine for demolishing limits.” This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues.

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World Bank and aid donors accused of enabling land grabs

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by Ellie Violet Bramley    Guardian   May 21, 2014

Aid donors and international institutions including the World Bank and World Economic Forum (WEF) have been accused of promoting an environment that fuels land grabs through policies and initiatives that pave the way for large-scale private investment.

In a report published on Tuesday, the NGO ActionAid says public money and policy incentives such as tax breaks and cut-price loans are facilitating land deals that threaten the lives and livelihoods of small-scale farmers in poor countries.

ActionAid warns that the consequences of such deals, which are too often happening behind closed doors and with little or no consultation with local communities, include “forced evictions, human rights violations, lost livelihoods, divided communities … rising food insecurity and, ultimately, increased poverty”.

A spokesman for the World Bank said it was also concerned about the risks of large-scale land deals and stressed that it did not support investments that took advantage of weak institutions in developing countries.

ActionAid’s report says weak governance and regulation of land use and agricultural investments have left millions of smallholder farmers and indigenous people in vulnerable situations “lack[ing] recognition over their land rights, even if they have resided in or used the area for generations”.

ActionAid’s campaign manager, Antoine Bouhey, said a “nexus of different policies” at the global level, which encourage private investment as a route to development, were also to blame.

“Governments are turning to private capital to fill the massive shortfall in public spending but too often this blind rush for investment is leading to land grabs which are leaving communities landless, homeless and hungry. Growth cannot be achieved at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable,” he said.

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Let’s Drink to the Slobbering Classes: Joe Bageant 1946-2011

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Americans who get no respect today are like those who 

built this country. Mostly used and tossed aside.

“When you’re easily replaced and are devalued you no longer  pretend to have a choice. To feed your family you work harder and for less and without benefits. You eat shit and you ask for seconds. Eating shit eventually makes you bitter and resentful of anyone who does not appear to be eating their share of shit. So you feel that anyone else who gets a break, especially a government-assisted leg up is cheating you. From resentment it is only a short skip to hatred and the illogical behavior that comes with hatred. Like voting Republican against your own best interests.”

April 12, 2005            by Joe Bageant

Let’s Drink to the Slobbering Classes

A sordid tale of work release, hyenas and liberal weakness

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the uncounted heads
Let’s think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead
— “Salt of the Earth,” The Rolling Stones

I stopped into Larry’s Gas ‘n Grubs for my regular morning commuter coffee mug refill and lo and be damned! There was my hirsute 300-pound friend Poot working at the counter. I said, “What the hell are you doing ringing up my coffee at this crap stand? You’re supposed to be a welder, fat boy!”

It turns out that Poot, who’d lost his job with a metal fabricator, took on a little private contracting work. However, he couldn’t afford to get his contractor’s license and was busted for working without one. And got thrown in jail for it too. Somehow I would have thought it was a lesser offense than that.

Now he is on jail work release to work at Larry’s Gas ‘n Grubs, an area 6-location chain of convenience stores that regularly hires work release labor at super cheap rates. By court order Poot must work there at least until August and pay the great state of Virginia a big chunk of his wages for the privilege. This represents nothing less than chattel slavery under the local judicial system, impressments of the same sort as have always been practiced on blacks and poor whites here in the slave states. Throw them in jail, and then farm them out on work release to local industry and businesses in cahoots politically with local law officials and courts. In fact, in a new twist on the game, the masters of our little Virginia banana republic brought in a huge regional jail. It is now a provider of cheap local work release labor, even as the taxpayers foot the bill for housing and feeding the jailbirds, and the jailbirds seldom return to their hometowns up nawth, choosing instead to shack up with the fetching local wenches. You Yankees have no idea what Bush’s election has kicked off in the American South. Our congenital penchant for punishment and press gang labor has ushered in a new era of prison building unseen since the days of Uncle Joe Stalin. Down here we know what to do with uncooperative folks like the hapless Pootie and the dope fiends our prison industry imports in from seven other states: Lock ‘em the fuck up and make a profit on ‘em. Rehabilitation, Republican style.

But getting back to Poot. When crap happens to working people, it’s usually a domino line of crap. It is bad enough that Poot lost his apartment when he landed in the hoosegow, and will have to find a new one in August, along with a new job, unless he decides to starve to death by remaining at Gas ‘n Grubs. He also lost his truck along the way. I am almost willing to bet that his life will never recover from this setback. Meanwhile, something even worse has come of this run-in with American penology’s gulag system of white trash labor: By court order Poot cannot set foot in Burt’s Tavern until August. He may not survive such a blow.

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