Saturday, February 1, 2014

Congress Fiddled while America Burned

For five years the citizens of modern-day America watched helplessly as their country's economy collapsed. The great bust that consumed the United States in A.D. 2008 spread quickly and savagely. After it was over, 16 percent of the country had been left in poverty. Millions had lost their jobs, their cars, their retirements and their homes—many were left homeless and destitute—and many felt forced to take their own lives. The lives of millions were reduced to scorched and mangled ruins.

As of 2014, as many as 48 million Americans had remained out of work, or needed full-time jobs to survive, all while Congress cut extended unemployment benefits and food stamps. Today, 37.4% of working-age Americans aren't working, meaning, 45.5% of the population now needs to supports the other 54.5% of the population.

Congress was more concerned about tax breaks for the rich rather than food and jobs for the poor and unemployed.

As America has listed on the brink of decline, Congress fiddled, as America's leaders did nothing but party with the top 1% — just like it was 1929.

Obama, Davos and the Power Elite

Congress fiddles while Rome burns

Popular Resistance: Obama’s false reality and inadequate solutions

At the Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford called Obama's the State of the Union address "a festival of lies". Margaret Kimberly wrote, the annual event “is used to masquerade drivel as accomplishment and reinforce the notion that a collapsing society is a thriving democracy.” Americans seem tired with this annual show as it had the lowest number of viewers since 2000.

Political comedian Lee Camp described President Obama as "Out Orwelling Orwell" — from his false rosy picture of the economy, to saying that fracked gas is good for the environment, to his glorification of war. Obama's State of the Union presented a false reality.

Seven members of the Green Shadow Cabinet wrote responses to the State of the Union. Ben Manski described the speech as one that could have been "given by a robot, or an actor, or a media spokesperson."

Economist Jack Rasmus pointed out that President Obama and his allies have finally discovered income inequality. Of course, most of us have been acutely aware of it for decades. The wealth divide was a root cause of the revolt known as Occupy Wall Street; and 67% of Americans recently told Gallup they were dissatisfied with the way wealth is distributed.

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant said in her response to Obama, during his presidency “poverty is at record-high numbers; 95% of the gains in productivity during the so-called recovery have gone to the top 1%. The president’s focus on income inequality was an admission of the failure of his policies.”

While President Obama acknowledged the wealth divide, he also failed to put forward policies that really address it. Political economist Gar Alperovitz describes the real state of the economy as "long-term stagnation and decay". When that reality is faced, then totally different solutions are needed, solutions that would really challenge the present system of big finance capitalism.

Alperovitz puts forward a vision of economic democracy where people have more participation in making economic decisions and greater benefit from the economy. Journalist and noted tax writer David Cay Johnston points to structural changes needed to return to a truly progressive tax system, allow workers to create unions and reverse trade policies that favor transnational corporations.

The one real policy change President Obama put forward was to raise the pay of low wage workers under federal contracts. The federal government is the biggest employer of poverty workers. President Obama promised a $10.10 minimum wage. Workers won this concession through a series of one-day strikes that targeted Obama. This promise sounds even less impressive when you get to the details. The change only affects new contracts. So, instead of two million workers getting an immediate raise, only 200,000 will.

Sam Smith of Progressive Review puts forward what a State of the Union would look like if the people ruled. He posted a slew of current polls that finds super-majorities of Americans would favor a very different direction for the economy and government. The people put job creation as the top priority.

The Davos Class: People Who Destroyed the Economy

The heinous wealth divide was recently highlighted by an Oxfam report that found: The world's top 1% has almost HALF of all the wealth. This forced the issue onto the agenda of the world’s wealthiest when they attended the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The richest 1% has 50% of the world's wealth.

Alex Jensen, an expert on globalization and development at the International Society for Ecology and Culture urged all of us to not fall for the "glossy veneer" of Davos, but recognize it is a stage "for multinational corporations, among them human rights abusers, political racketeers, property thieves and international environmental criminals." These are not people who deserve applause but deserve "fierce resistance" as they are the cause of the economic and environmental problems the world faces.

The Transnational Institute, in conjunction with, issued a State of Power 2014 report that found that less than 1% of corporations controled 40% of global business, and that 37 of the world's largest economies are not countries, but corporations. The Davos class has caused financial, economic, social and ecological crises worldwide—and we must know which elites control our wealth and resources, and understand how they influence political and social processes—so that there can be a recalibration of power.

Not discussed at Davos was what Jerome Roos of the publication Roar Magazine describes as the "emerging market bloodbath".

The Power Elite Fears People Power

The political and economic elites are putting forth the same policies that contributed to the economic collapse. The top global example of this is the continued push for rigged corporate trade agreements. Public Citizen points out that research has shown that falsely named "free trade"; deals have been a major cause of wealth inequality, by pushing down wages and providing access to cheap resources, which make the wealthiest wealthier. More rigged corporate trade will actually expand the wealth divide, not shrink it.

It is not only these facts that President Obama and the global trade activists ignore, but the politics as well. The president’s political base has come out to protest controversial corporate trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). And now there is opposition in the Republican activist base as well and are calling it ObamaTrade.

The story of fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is also one which illustrates why the power structure fears the people. Politicians and the corporate media did their very best to keep people ignorant about the TPP. For the first two years of negotiations by President Obama they were effective, but in the last two years there has been a rising tide of awareness and opposition. Numerous articles have exposed the TPP in the independent media—and Wikileaks leaked sections of the secret agreement. Now, a "movement of movements" has come together to oppose fast track. This can be seen on the website where 130 organizations have joined together in a focused effort. What did the TPP experience show us? That the government tried to deceive the people, because they knew if the people became aware and mobilized, the treaty could not become law.

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