By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas for Venezuelanalysis. Caracas, April 20th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Oil and Mining Minister Euologio del Pino has accused the US government of deliberately scuppering the efforts of major oil-producing countries to put a cap on global production levels amidst a historic slump in oil prices. Referring to a major meeting convened between an array of 18 OPEC and non-OPEC countries in Doha on April 17th, Del Pino stated that the US had deliberately put pressure on countries not to attend, as well as to adopt hardline positions against the proposed measures. “This political agenda is against our country… because it is supposed that by maintaining low oil prices, they will bring the downfall of Venezuela,” said the minister on Tuesday.
By Mike Whitney for Counter Punch – “Contrary to the rising-tide hypothesis, the rising tide has only lifted the large yachts, while many of the smaller boats have been dashed on the rocks.” Joseph Stiglitz, economist American plutocrats and their political lackeys in congress have implemented a plan that’s putting pressure on wages and further decimating the already-battered middle class. By sustaining high levels of unemployment over a long period of time, US elites have “restructured the labor force”…
By Michele Gilman for The Conversation – Economic inequality is now firmly on the public agenda as candidates and voters alike look for someone to blame for stagnant wages, entrenched poverty and a widening gap between rich and poor. Bernie Sanders blames Wall Street. Donald Trump points his finger at companies moving overseas. Hillary Clinton identifies middle-class families who are working harder but staying in place as the root cause. While all these factors and others helped increase inequality, they overlook the role of a key American institution that has also helped widen the gap between rich and poor: the Supreme Court.
By Charles Eisenstein for Local Futures – Do mortgage debtors, credit card debtors, and student loan borrowers have a moral obligation to pay back their debts? Is it unethical for debtor nations to default on their loans? Most folks, thinking themselves to be honorable people, feel a strong moral obligation to “make good” on their debts, to honor their debts, to follow through on what looks very much like a promise to repay. Today, however, a burgeoning debt resistance movement draws from the realization that many of these debts are not fair.
By Nichoe Lichen for Green Fire Times – The crash of 2008 just keeps on giving. We didn’t make it happen, but somehow it’s ours to fix. Historically, governments look to raising taxes and cutting jobs and services to “fix the problem.” So it goes in the city of Santa Fe this year. This may be a short-term necessity, given the city’s current financial crisis, but Banking on New Mexico believes the time is right for a better long-term strategy that includes a public bank that will invest our public funds—interest earned from those taxes, fees and fines we all pay—back into our community.
By JP Sottile for Truthout. Big Oil is a bad investment fueled by irrational exuberance, chronic cronyism and an increasingly indefensible misallocation of capital. And decades of throwing good money after bad has produced a distorted economic system that socializes risk, privatizes profits, externalizes costs and misallocates capital. This continues because policy makers sustain it with taxpayer-funded subsidies, costly tax breaks and low-overhead access to publicly held resources. By failing to institute much-needed cost internalization mechanisms and by completely avoiding the key problem of government subsidization, the cork-popping cadre of COP21 tacitly admitted what most cynics already knew – policy makers still believe “Big Oil” is far too big to fail. But, like other distorted markets in history, the correction is coming. The growing impact of climate change is exposing the key fallacy at the heart of the hydrocarbon economy: Big Oil cannot simply exempt itself from the natural economy governing all things in this closed system called planet Earth.
By Grouch E Geezr for AmericanNewsX.com. Iceland just sentenced their 26th banker to prison for his part in the 2008 economic collapse. The charges ranged from breach of fiduciary duties to market manipulation to embezzlement. When most people think of Iceland, they envision fire and ice. Major volcanoes and vast ice fields are abundant due to its position on the northern part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (A hot July day in Reykjavik is around 55 degrees.) However, Iceland is also noted for being one of the Nordic Socialist countries, complete with universal health care, free education and a lot other Tea Potty nightmares.
By Steve Rushton for Occupy – Elites regularly profit with impunity from financial corruption. This is clearly demonstrated by the numerous billion-dollar financial scandals in recent years, including LIBOR rate fixing, tax evasion, commodity price fixing and financial mis-selling schemes. The political power of finance and its revolving door into government makes many bankers seem above the law. But this immunity is not unbreakable, as demonstrated by the wave of Spanish citizens now leading an anti-corruption charge unlike any that has come before.
By Staff of Acronym TV – This week on Acronym TV: The YES MEN strike again!, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink on Obama’s foreign policy legacy, Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein on the #AfterBern and the Obama #SOTU and Dennis breaks down Obama’s Siren song
By Jerome Roos for Tele Sur – It has been a dismal start to the year for world markets. After trading on the Chinese stock market was suspended twice last week when a collapse in share prices tripped an ill-conceived automatic “circuit breaker”, the resultant investor panic knocked more than $2.3 trillion off stocks worldwide — marking the worst start to a financial year on record. But while China’s stock market turmoil has grabbed all the attention and dominated headlines across the globe, the real threat to the world economy lies not in the country’s speculative stock exchange but in its “real” economy…
By Kira Lerner for Think Progress – Last year, Black Lives Matter activists made it a practice to interrupt politician’s speeches to chant the name of their movement and to demand that elected officials recognize the high rate that black men and women are killed at the hands of police. Tonight, one of the movement’s founders will be in the audience at President Obama’s final State of the Union. Though she won’t be interrupting the president, Alicia Garza, who was invited as a guest of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), told ThinkProgress that she wants Obama to address various issues that affect black Americans including criminal justice reform, voting rights, and immigration.
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Flush The TPP. President Obama will make his push for the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a major part of the State of the Union as this is a major goal of his final year in office. This is an opportunity for a widespread discussion of the TPP and what impacts it will have on the economy, workers, the environment and more. Just yesterday the World Bank published a comprehensive analysis of the TPP and concluded that by 2030 the TPP will have a miniscule 0.4% impact on US trade. The economic impact for the United States is minimal but the impact on workers, the environment, food safety, traditional energy and the overall balance between corporate power and government is dramatic. The president’s claims about the TPP should be examined closely and measured against the facts of what the TPP will actually do and the impact similar trade agreements have had. We know from past comments by the president and the US Trade Representative that their sales pitch for the TPP is not always consistent with the facts.