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Posts Tagged ‘Decision making

Frances Moore Lappe: socialism, capitalism, and confusion

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Why are People Afraid of Saying “Socialism”?

Knee-jerk reactions to words like “socialism” and “capitalism” get us nowhere. We need to first define the terms.

March 30, 2010  by Frances Moore Lappe   AlterNet

‘Socialist’ has become the new favorite term of derision–working its fear-making magic because, for many Americans, socialism equals the great’government takeover.’ It’s assumed to be not just un-American but downright anti-American. Tea Partiers at their round up in Searchlight, Nevada, told us that’socialist’ Harry Reid’hates America.’ Our national aversion to the S-word isn’t necessarily a problem. But the term’s rapid rise as a political pot-shot, points to a huge problem: our culture’s lack of a common civic language, words on whose meaning we at least vaguely agree. Without it, we can’t hope to talk to one another about what matters most. ‘We have a language of capitalism. We have a language of Marxism. But we have no language of democracy,’ historian Lawrence Goodwyn once remarked. And we need one. Capitalism and socialism. Imagine if we just got some clarity on these basic terms alone. First, capitalism. To most of us, it’s quintessentially American. Many of us assume it’s democracy’s essential partner. But what is it? Capitalism is an economic system in which the person or body owning capital productive resources like raw material and labor—has the power to make decisions as to the use of these resources and who benefits from them. The capitalist is in control, not the workers, not the community members, not the government. It is a system in which capitalists seek to gain for themselves the highest possible return on their investment.

Reduced to these elements, it’s no surprise that capitalism returns wealth to wealth, leading to a jaw-dropping chasm between rich and poor: In our country meaning that one percent of households now have as much net wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

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Root of Our Health Care Problems: Privatization

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Patients gather outside the Virginia-Kentucky Fairgrounds for their turn to enter the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition in Wise, Va., July 24, 2009. Photo by Paul Morse for AARP Bulletin Today

“The root of the problem is the privatization of the funding and organization of medical care.”

Consequences of the Privatized Funding of Medical Care and the Privatized Electoral Process

By Vicente Navarro, M.D.
American Journal of Public Health, Jan. 14, 2010

The current state of health care reform in the United States reveals the enormous limitations of democracy in this country, unparalleled in the western world. Why is there such a large gap between what people want from their representatives in Congress – including universal access to health care as a matter of right – and what they get?

To answer this question, we first need to look at what is happening in the U.S. medical care sector. I think it’s fair to say that what we see there is also unparalleled in the western world. Forty-seven million people are without any form of health insurance coverage (and a million more are added each year) and 102 million have insufficient coverage (and many aren’t aware of how limited their coverage is until they find out that an illness or needed test is not covered). The clearest indicator of the inhumane system of funding and organizing medical care in the United States is that 40 percent of people in the terminal stages of illness say they are worrying about how to pay their medical bills. No other major country comes even close to this level of inhumanity.

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Why Civilizations Collapse

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INDIA-WEATHER-FLOODSA Lesson for Climate Change

Modern society is technologically far superior to any that has gone before, we have all the means to head off the worst effects of climate change and adapt to those we cannot avoid. History tells us however that the most common reason societies collapse is not inadequate science or technology but failure to take the difficult decisions necessary for survival

Prof. Peter Saunders

Surviving environmental disasters

As the world faces the challenge of climate change, it is instructive to recall that this is by no means the first time humans have had to cope with similar problems. Many societies have found themselves in serious trouble because of an unwelcome change in their environment. It may have been something over which they had no control, like the onset of the Little Ice Age in the 15th century, or they may have brought it upon themselves, all too often by clearing forests, or perhaps a combination of the two. Some societies survived, others did not.  

Long before the Spanish arrived, the Mayans of Central America had already abandoned their magnificent cities because of drought. Deforestation destroyed the Easter Island society that erected the famous statues, though a very much reduced population continued to live on the island. Others, like the Norwegian settlers in Greenland, and the original inhabitants of Pitcairn Island, died out completely.

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