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Frenzied Financialization by Michael Konczal | The Washington Monthly

So often, the argument is thrown at me: “How are the rich ripping us off?” Well, here’s how:

Moreover, financialization isn’t just confined to the financial sector itself. It’s also ultimately about who controls, guides, and benefits from our economy as a whole. And here’s the last big change: the “shareholder revolution,” started in the 1980s and continuing to this very day, has fundamentally transformed the way our economy functions in favor of wealth owners.To understand this change, compare two eras at General Electric. This is how business professor Gerald Davis describes the perspective of Owen Young, who was CEO of GE almost straight through from 1922 to 1945: “[S]tockholders are confined to a maximum return equivalent to a risk premium. The remaining profit stays in the enterprise, is paid out in higher wages, or is passed on to the customer.” Davis contrasts that ethos with that of Jack Welch, CEO from 1981 to 2001; Welch, Davis says, believed in “the shareholder as king—the residual claimant, entitled to the [whole] pot of earnings.”This change had dramatic consequences. Economist J. W. Mason found that, before the 1980s, firms tended to borrow funds in order to fuel investment. Since 1980, that link has been broken. Now when firms borrow, they tend to use the money to fund dividends or buy back stocks. Indeed, even during the height of the housing boom, Mason notes, “corporations were paying out more than 100 percent of their cash flow to shareholders.”

… Finance has now won the battle against wage earners: corporations today are reluctant to raise wages even as the economy slowly starts to recover. This keeps the economy perpetually sluggish by retarding consumer demand, while also increasing inequality.

Lots more here:

Source: Frenzied Financialization by Michael Konczal | The Washington Monthly

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FOCUS: Will the GOP Strip & Flip the 2016 Election?

So the question is asked: having already stripped the voter rolls, how long will it now take to flip the outcome?

The IT expert gives the obvious answer: about 60 seconds, maybe less. Not only the presidency but control of the Congress, statehouses, state legislatures and much more can be flipped in tandem.

In the process, the expert says, it’s customary to plant media stories of “glitches” in the voting process that will delay the reporting of the vote count. In Ohio 2004 the flipping process was stretched from 12:20 am to 2 am, during which John Kerry’s 4.2% margin of victory became a 2.5% George W. Bush margin of victory, giving him a second term.

But the process is clear, simple and long-since prearranged. Funded by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the vast majority of America’s electronic voting machines date back at least a decade. Many can be flipped at the precinct level by operatives driving by with WIFI apparatus. In other cases, “technicians” from the voting machine companies have already recalibrated the tabulators while Election Day was in progress, or immediately after.

So the months of campaigning, endless media bloviation, and millions in campaign expenditures can all be funneled down to about a minute of one hired hacker doing a few quick keystrokes that no one will ever be able to fully unearth or overturn.

All that’s then needed as follow-up is to adjust the pre-election exit polls, which are usually extremely accurate, to match the official vote count, which will have been flipped by 2 or 3 am. (Sooner or later, such polling will be banned altogether).

In the meantime, in this dark post-democracy night, there is a pause. Each IT expert asks each governor and secretary of state in each of these key swing states what they wish done. And how much the Koch Brothers will be paying them to do it.

See if you can guess the answer.

Source: FOCUS: Will the GOP Strip & Flip the 2016 Election?

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Convincing the Young to Blame the Old, Not the Rich — FAIR

This couldn’t happen if people weren’t being taught erroneous economic theories in universities, either:

Rather than talking about how the rich raise the cost of our healthcare, the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell wants us to be upset at seniors.

Source: Convincing the Young to Blame the Old, Not the Rich — FAIR

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How One NYC Trafficking Survivor Went from ‘Slavery’ to Being Her Own Boss—Thanks to a Co-op – Working In These Times

This is how you do success, and we need such initiatives in many more places. Co-ops have staggeringly high success rates and are incredibly resilient in economic downturns. They stabilize the entire local economy.

In June 2014, members of Damayan’s board heard that New York’s city council had set aside $1.2 million to fund a Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative. The city directed money to 11 organizations with experience incubating cooperatives in low-income communities of color, allowing them to expand their reach to new entrepreneurs. It was the largest investment in cooperatives by any city government in U.S. history. In the last year, the initiative has helped facilitate the launch of 21 new cooperatives, provided guidance for 19 new worker-owned businesses that will open in 2016, and assisted 26 existing cooperatives. By the end of 2016, there will be 66 new worker-owned cooperatives in New York City. One of them is the new Damayan Cleaning Cooperative.

Source: How One NYC Trafficking Survivor Went from ‘Slavery’ to Being Her Own Boss—Thanks to a Co-op – Working In These Times

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Blame Anyone but the Corporations: GOP Fear-Mongering Distracts from the TPP – Working In These Times

Look! Brown people! (nabs wallet..)

Source: Blame Anyone but the Corporations: GOP Fear-Mongering Distracts from the TPP – Working In These Times

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A socialist even a conservative could love; as Burlington mayor, Sanders was able to out-Republican the Republicans – The Boston Globe

Not just an ideologue, but capable as well. Is there anything more alien to American politics than this?

As mayor of Burlington, Vt., Bernie Sanders had some critics. But few disputed that his reforms resulted in an efficient and responsive city government.

Source: A socialist even a conservative could love; as Burlington mayor, Sanders was able to out-Republican the Republicans – The Boston Globe

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Businessmen make shitty presidents ~ Mike Norman Economics

Right on:

Source: Businessmen make shitty presidents ~ Mike Norman Economics

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Free Markets Ideology Is Making Society Sick | The Alternative Banking Group of OWS

A very nice, concise overview:

Free market ideology has so pervaded our culture that we aren’t even aware of it. It is incorporated in the very language we use to discuss anything vaguely economic.

Some highlights:

Free market ideology has so pervaded our culture that we aren’t even aware of it. It is incorporated in the very language we use to discuss anything vaguely economic. Education is a good illustration. We used to “nurture” our children and prepare students to be responsible and productive participants in the democracy we claimed to be. Now we “invest” in them and prepare them for the workplace. Many people in the both established parties look to competitive models like charter schools and “choice” to fix everything – even though there’s no evidence these actually improve learning. Rather than looking for caring and capable teachers, we want to align their incentives and measure their value-added.

Let’s face it, the self-made billionaire is a myth. All successful people have benefited from both good fortune and support from society and government. Did Steve Jobs cleverly choose parents who lived in Mountain View, California where he would get good schooling and happen to run into the inventor of the Apple? Would his career have been equally successful if he had been born in Mountain View, Oklahoma? And how successful would he have been if the government and non-profit institutions had not collaborated to create the internet? Is the fact that Silicon Valley billionaires are almost all white men a sign that white men are more meritorious by nature, or is a more likely explanation that they get the opportunities to succeed where others don’t?

And a little history:

Another presumption implicit in the pro-market argument is that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. The 1950s and ’60s were a period of growth which was widely shared. This rising tide did help most Americans. Wages grew at a reasonable clip and poverty declined. Markets were part of the story but so was government, the New Deal, and for that matter, labor union power. Income was taxed at rates up to 90%. The banking system was very heavily regulated.

Then, the free market ideologues began to make political inroads. In the 1970s and increasingly in the ’80s and ’90s, banks and other industries were deregulated and taxes, particularly taxes on capital, were decreased. Ronald Reagan famously broke union power. What happened? As you can see in the graph below, there was no improvement in economic growth as shown by productivity (output per hour worked). But, even worse, wage growth completely stagnated. So, lower taxes and bank deregulation did nothing for economic growth. But they did allow the 1% to grab virtually all of the growth that did occur. And, the situation of the poorest has become, if anything, more dire. Since 1975, the rising tide has been lifting a few boats but has been drowning the rest.

Productivity/wage graph

Actually, the whole idea of a free market is a myth. We have never seen one. The US during its greatest periods of economic prosperity was a protected economy favoring domestic producers and provided significant government support. The government has also made significant contributions to economic growth by funding scientific research or as a result of military projects, the space program and other programs. This was also true of other countries that have become economic powerhouses such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan. And if you think about it, there’s a broad inconsistency here as well: most advocates of free markets, Donald Trump being an example, are very much against free movement of labor – otherwise known as migration.

Unless, of course, you need that illegal immigrant to increase your profits in your hotel.. 😉

There’s alot more good stuff here:

Source: Free Markets Ideology Is Making Society Sick | The Alternative Banking Group of OWS

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The 12-Point Platform | Corrente

Just because:

Happy birthday, Social Security! – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – ✂ – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – “The 12-Point Platform” is a simple and self-explanatory list of common-sense programs that will benefit every American, no matter their class, gender, race, or age. “The 12 Reforms” are the programs needed to secure the benefits of the Platform. The Single Value ties the Platform and the Reforms together: Government is to be used for “public purpose,” and not for privilege (which means “private law”).

The 12-Point Platform

    A Living Wage
    Medicare for All
    Tax the Rich
    Job and Income Guarantee
    Debt Jubilee
    Retirement Security
    Free Public Education, pre-K-16
    Post Office Bank
    Enforce the Bill of Rights
    End the Wars
    Clean Air, Water, Soil, and Food Carbon Negative Economy

The 12 Reforms

    Net Neutrality
    Fairness Doctrine
    Local Ownership of Media
    Public Campaign Financing
    Electoral Integrity
    Self-Organizing Web-Based Citizen Deliberation
    MMT Macro-economic Policies
    Preserve and Expand the Commons
    More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations
    Justice Starts at the Top
    Strategic Non-Violence
    Points and Reforms Are Indivisible

The Single Value

    Public Purpose

Source: The 12-Point Platform | Corrente

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Do Publicly Owned, Planned Economies Work? | what’s left

To be clear, while capitalist economies plunged into a major depression and reliably lapsed into recessions every few years, the Soviet economy just as unfailingly did not, expanding unremittingly and always providing jobs for all. Far from being unworkable, the Soviet Union’s publicly owned and planned economy succeeded remarkably well. What was unworkable was capitalism, with its occasional depressions, regular recessions, mass unemployment, and extremes of wealth and poverty, all the more evident today as capitalist economies contract or limp along, condemning numberless people to forced idleness. What eventually led to the Soviet Union’s demise was the accumulated toll on the Soviet economy of the West’s efforts to bring it down, the Reagan administration’s intensification of the Cold War, and the Soviet leadership’s inability to find a way out of the predicament these developments occasioned.

Source: Do Publicly Owned, Planned Economies Work? | what’s left

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