It’s often said by those on the left, somewhat glibly, that capitalism is a cancer on the earth, or that capitalism follows the mindset of the cancer cell– infinite growth. But is that really the case? Perhaps it’s that cancer is a form of capitalism instead? From an article in Harper’s Magazine about facial tumors in Tasmanian Devils: “…uncontrolled reproduction begins when a single cell accumulates enough mutations to activate certain growth-promoting genes (scientists call them oncogenes) and to inactivate certain protections (tumor suppressor genes) that are built into the genetic program of every animal and plant. The cell ignores instructions to limit its self-replication, and soon it becomes many cells, all of them similarly demented, all bent on self-replication, all heedless of duty and proportion and the larger weal of the organism. That first cell is (almost always) a cell of the victim’s own body.”
We cling, no worse, we teach our children to invest in the false American Dream that if we only work a little harder, or go into more educational debt that we would be able to grasp the brass ring and wear proudly the label of American Middle class. That label would be made in Bangladesh, mind you, by a child working six days a week 16 hours a day and making 30 bucks a month but you would be proud to wear that middle class label just the same, and in doing so do you- we, I- not only endorse the conditions of poverty that, because of its very existence, defines the middle class, we insure that poverty will continue. We need new language, a new system based on equity and fairness and not on exploitation and oppression and until then I say fuck the middle class.
According to labor journalist Micah Uetricht, it’s high time for trade unions in the United States to decide whether they want to wither away and follow a “business unionism” model of concessions and shrinkage, or follow “social movement unionism,” a bottom-up, democratic organizing strategy that is aligned with social justice movements throughout the country. The Chicago Teacher’s Union [CTU], Uetricht writes in his book, Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity, is a prime example of the latter, a feisty, transparent, activist-led group that is willing to fight the good fight and challenge the entrenched attitudes that have made unions irrelevant to far too many workers. Uetricht makes clear that the CTU was not always a beacon and charts the union’s transition from a staid, top-down organization to one that engages teachers, paraprofessionals, students and neighborhood residents in community betterment efforts throughout Chicago.
“I wasn’t rich, but I felt like I had a life,” she said — as good a definition of middle class as any. That November, the company announced it was moving its office to Cleveland. All the employees were invited to go along. All declined, including Brown, who had lived in Chicago her entire adult life, since arriving to attend college. Having been laid off, Brown was eligible for unemployment benefits — which she figured would last until she found a new job. The last time she’d looked, in 1999, she’d found work right away. Despite sending out “hundreds of résumés each week,” Brown couldn’t land a full-time job. At age 46, with every month of unemployment making her less attractive to employers, she was wondering whether she ever would. She exhausted her 401K, and only a sympathetic landlord, who cut the rent to $800 a month, allowed Brown to hang on to her one-bedroom apartment. Brown’s benefits were cut off in July 2013, as a result of the federal government sequester. Two months later, she took a job as a telephone survey interviewer, for $8.50 an hour — 25 cents above the Illinois minimum wage.
In 2011, when occupy encampments exploded across the United States putting the issue of the unfair economy and corruption of Wall Street on the political agenda, there was also an explosion of activist art. Beginning with the iconic image of the ballerina on top of the Wall Street Bull, art has been central to occupy and was an important reason for its powerful impact. The explosion of arts activism involves a wide variety of artistic forms: puppets, balloons, music, meme’s, posters, banners, plays, street theater, poetry, animation and light displays among others. Art has added vitality and energy to advocacy; and it reaches people at deeper emotional levels and in their hearts conveying what cannot be said with mere facts.
Profits over people… Veolia is the largest water privatization business in the world, and has come under attack by water rights activists for many of its contracts that reveal consistent prioritization of private profit at the expense of the environment and public interest. See the 2011 report by Food & Water Watch for more information. While public facilities are accountable to the public, often creating increased transparency and efficiency, private facilities are not. If a company chooses to abuse its privilege by hiking up price rates or cutting costs in ways that are detrimental to the public, it is much more difficult to fight. Worldwide, consumers report that Veolia consistently charges high rates, provides poor service, and fails to make promised improvements.
The situation is even more worrying in the US. In March 2013, the Standard & Poor 500 stock market index reached the highest ever level, surpassing the 2007 peak (which was higher than the peak during the dotcom boom), despite the fact that the country’s per capita income had not yet recovered to its 2007 level. Since then, the index has risen about 20%, although the US per capita income has not increased even by 2% during the same period. This is definitely the biggest stock market bubble in modern history. Even more extraordinary than the inflated prices is that, unlike in the two previous share price booms, no one is offering a plausible narrative explaining why the evidently unsustainable levels of share prices are actually justified.
It was clear from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s first testimony to the House Financial Committee on February 11 that she will use the Fed to continue to bail out the big banks of Wall Street rather than unemployed workers, homeowners, students and the medically uninsured. We at FedUp aren’t expecting to hear anything new from her about changes to monetary policy that benefit the 99% when she speaks today before the Senate Banking Committee. We were, however, inspired by Yellen’s positive response to invitations by members of Congress to participate in town hall meetings across the country. We encourage Yellen to follow through on that promise where her predecessors did not, and speak to the people about how the Fed can bail out Main Street and demand a more just system that serves the 99% as opposed to the 1%.
Over the last two decades, the Internet has been a laboratory for social innovation. One of the most unexpected collective discoveries has been the existence of another mode of organization to achieve large-scale co-ordination. This mode relies neither on the market, where price signals perform important co-ordinating functions horizontally (as Friedrich Hayek famously stated), nor on public and private bureaucracies, where commands facilitate vertical co-ordination. Rather, it relies on voluntary co-operation to enhance the use value of a shared resource. Yochai Benkler dubbed this mode “commons-based peer production.” While not all forms of co-operation need be beneficial to society at large, the structural experience of co-operation is a key element in the political project of strengthening social solidarity. This solidarity is more than an empty slogan, it is grounded in concrete, everyday experiences, renewed through collective action and guided by the conviction that one’s own personal goals and aspirations cannot be achieved against others, but with and through them.
UC has been negotiating with both employee groups for more than a year and both groups held a two-day strike last May and a one-day strike last November. Stenhouse said the service workers’ bargaining team decided to stage a five-day strike this time because of “a desire to send the strongest possible message to the university.” Stenhouse said the union has agreed to 80 percent of the university’s proposals during the lengthy bargaining process but wants the university “to do the right thing on wages and staffing.” Union leaders say the pay of UC Service workers is so low that 99 percent of them are eligible for some form of public assistance, with some full-time workers forced to live in their cars.
The Robin Hood tax, a small tax of less than ½ of 1% on Wall Street transactions can generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the US alone. It is an idea whose impact can be felt globally as well.
The film’s central premise is important—and asks us to imagine what it would be like to have a government that serves workers, the poor, and the elderly and disabled as devotedly as it serves corporate interests. Along the way, members of Congress, good government activists, Occupiers, and regular folks speak to the camera. Lovell lets viewers formulate their own answer. His point, however, is underscored by Common Cause spokeswoman Mary Boyle. “The American Dream is in trouble,” she says, leaving many people with little chance of achieving the modest comforts they thought were a birthright. Shortly thereafter, Lovell himself weighs in: “Dreaming the American Dream is not about left or right. It’s about right and wrong.” This simple statement is meant to jolt us into doing something to support policies that benefit the body politic over Wall Street and corporate interests. In addition, he and a coterie of other interviewees assail the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial and investment banking, and the Citizen’s United decision that allows corporations to give unlimited funds to elected officials and political aspirants who are carefully screened for their pro-business tilt.
Dave Boyle, a UK-based cooperatives expert, wrote in Economia last March on “the strange re-birth of co-operatives in Britain.” The article cited research conducted by Co-operatives UK, which documented the superior performance of Britain’s co-ops throughout the recession. Among the organizations’ findings: 98% of UK co-operatives were still trading three years after formation compared to 65% of traditional companies Since 2008 the UK economy shrank 1.7% while co-ops grew 23% 56% of UK coops are in disadvantaged areas 88% of UK coops seek to minimize their environmental impact compared to 44% of traditional businesses who say they have “taken no action whatsoever” Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave an organization 85% ‘agree’ or ‘very much agree’ that being a co-operative gives them a business advantage. 85% actively use their co-operative status in marketing
“When non-operators own farms, they tend to source out the oversight to management companies, leading in part to horrific conditions around labour and how we treat the land,” Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute, a U.S. watchdog group focusing on global large-scale land acquisitions, told IPS. “They also reprioritise what commodities are grown on that land, based on what can yield the highest return. This is no longer necessarily about food at all, but rather is a way to reap financial profits. Unfortunately, that’s far removed from the central role that land ultimately plays in terms of climate change, growing hunger and the stability of the global economy.” In a new report released Tuesday, the Oakland Institute tracks rising interest from some of the financial industry’s largest players.
From 1979 to 2011, the average income of the bottom 99 percent of U.S. taxpayers grew by 18.9 percent, while the average income of the top 1 percent grew over 10 times as much—by 200.5 percent. Over the last three decades the wealth of the nation’s very richest 1% has grown ten times that of the average worker and over that time period that same tiny elite has captured more than half of the entire income increases, leaving the bottom 99% to divide the remaining gains. This is all based on a new state-level study, The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, which looks at how inequality has seized hold of the national economy both in the generation leading up to the great recession of 2008 and in the several years following where a so-called “recovery” was experienced by the financial elite while the majority of U.S. population continues to claw its way back. “The levels of inequality we are seeing across the country provide more proof that the economy is not working for the vast majority of Americans and has not for decades,” said Mark Price.