“Neoliberalism” is the idea that markets are better at making decisions than democracy.
Big Money: It’s unregulated, gathers by the billions, causes inaction on the climate crisis, bank collapses, and an unaffordable life for billions of people. It sells itself, but now it has its own commercial.
Raise a toast to what made it all possible.
Society wants cars/antibiotics/furniture/houses/etc but doesn’t want to make them ourselves through our government.
In order to accomplish functions like these that government wants accomplished but doesn’t want to do itself, government “contracts out” those functions. Corporations are those contracts. Corporations facilitate aggregation and manage of resources (huge sums, labor, etc) that are beyond the scope of individuals. We “contract out” through corporate charters to get these things done for us.
When You Look At It This Way
When you look at it this way — that government is the way all of society’s functions are managed(of course it is) and that corporations & the “private sector” are just “contracting out” some government functions — it gives people a way to take back the power in their own thinking. Who is the boss of who? How should corporations be regulated? Who should be regulating them? Etc.
Where Things Went Wrong
Here is where we went wrong. Executives at corporations are allowed to use corporate funds to influence society and pay politicians to allow things that enrich those executives personally.
Everything else we see happening flows from that.
This post originally appeared at Government Cheese – “Chronicling the collapse of democracy“
Silicon Valley Bank fails…
Corruption allowed the finance industry to operate outside of sensible government oversight, even as the world has experienced the consequences of this over and over again. So here in Silicon Valley and around the world, tech employees are waiting to find out if they’ll get their paychecks or get laid off next week. The world is wondering if contagion will spread that fear. Again. (Last time, because of corruption, not one banker type was held accountable. Not one.)
Also here in Silicon Valley it is raining harder than almost ever – except for a couple weeks ago. Flooding everywhere. I mean, torrential, incredible rain pouring down right now. This is because corruption has caused governments to allow the industry causing this to keep putting more and more carbon into the air even as we all know what the consequences will be.
The news lately has been about train derailments devastating localities. This happens because corruption allows wealthy rail-owners to keep governments from making them operate safely.
Inequality is now completely out-of-control. 60% of Americans now live paycheck-to-paycheck, not even able to raise $500 to cover an emergency like a car breakdown. The government doesn’t raise the minimum wage or otherwise address this because of obvious corruption. Million upon millions are spent convincing these people to blame government for this and vote for those backed by that money, and abolish democracy. “I am your retribution.”
The Supreme Court “rules” that this is all OK. Any amount of secret money is allowed to influence elections. People trying to fix this face millions of dollars spent smearing them in LOCAL elections. This Supreme Court we have is the way it is because of corrupt money spent to put them there.
Is there a common theme here?
Everyone please read this Facebook post “from inside Southwest.” It is spot on. It describes how the meltdown happened because the company had been stripped for two decades by executives looking for short-term profits at the expense of the company.
What it describes is not just happening at this airline, though, and not just at airlines. This is what has been happening at HOW MANY companies for a long time! But more than that, it is of a piece with what has been happening to our democracy.
All the incentives are for squeezing everything out of a company to get the appearance of profit THIS QUARTER to get the STOCK PRICE UP to get the EXECUTIVE QUARTERLY BONUS and it is all at the expense of everything else – the customers (obviously) , the suppliers, the employees, and the future of the companies.
Our government is supposed to oversee the way companies operate. They operate under RULES set up by our government.
Rather than get into the specifics of those rules, ask yourself if a government operating in the interests of the people of the country and the long-term good of the companies of the country would allow what we are seeing at SWA and so many other companies to continue? Of course not!!!
This post originated at Imagine Democracy. If you follow all the links, it pieces together.
Over at sister-site Government Cheese, a discussion of capitalism, propaganda and how a few wealthy people keep things under control
Capitalism literally means that the people with wealth make the investment decisions for society & get the return on investment, and the broad public don’t.
All the rest is just propaganda. Capitalism has nothing to do with “markets” or “freedom” or any of the rest.
It’s really so simple. It’s how a few people maintain control of society for their own benefit and it’s been this way for thousands of year, under different labels. It’s what a monarchy is. The King and his buddies control the wealth. “WE should have this and you should not and here’s why.”
It’s why the United States was such a breakthrough. WE THE PEOPLE will decide what’s best for us, not you. Government of, by and for THE PEOPLE. Not the elites, the wealthy, the aristocrats, the priesthood, the monarchy, the warlord, whatever label put on the ruling wealthy. A country run for the benefit of the people in the country. Whatever label we put on that – democracy, socialism, whatever.
That’s all. All the rest is just propaganda.
Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the context of the monarchies of Europe just salivating waiting for “the Union” – the experiment in democracy – fail so they can get the world back where they want it.
A democracy would never let this happen.
Twitter is the de facto town square, information source here and in much of the world. This is because of the “network effect.” Everyone has to be there because everyone else is. It doesn’t work any other way. Facebook is that for connecting with friends and relatives.
That’s what a public utility is.
Our government used to recognize and regulate that. The telephone system required the network effect in order to work. That could be only one. So the government regulated it.
We all know the reason the government doesn’t regulate now is because it is captured by vested interests.
This is what happens when our “system” is run at the whim of billionaires and petrostates. $44 billion (44 thousand million) is actually not that much money to Musk and the Saudis.
So Twitter is melting down. Twitter became the de facto “town square.” It was a “public good” where We the People could get news and discuss things.
One super billionaire (plus Saudi Arabia) purchased it and is destroying it. He was allowed to purchase in an obvious attempt to influence what the pubic understands – against the “public interest.” This is because we no longer have a functioning government.
We are SO FAR from remembering that corporations are entirely creatures of law, which means they are created by OUR laws. Nothing more. We the People – government – created the idea of corporations as a way to get investment for large projects – things WE want done. Corporations were created to SERVE US.
We used to REGULATE corporations to be sure that these entities we created act in the public interest. Here we are with such an OBVIOUS demonstration of the need for government to step in and regulate. Quickly. But the concept has been erased from our brains.
We Are Supposed To Be The Boss Of Them.
Government is supposed to be We the People acting to make OUR lives better. It has been “captured” and acts now only on the interest of those who own these entities and so often against the interest of We the People. We allowed corporate money to “leak out” of the corporation and be used by individuals (the executives of the corporation) to literally bribe government officials to look the other way and allow them to loot the corporations and public sphere. That money also feeds a massive propaganda apparatus that brainwashes us into forgetting the very idea that We the People are supposed to be in charge here.
I recently wrote about this here: Understanding What a Corporation Actually Is Can Help Restore Democracy
This post first appeared at Government Cheese – Chronicling the Collapse of democracy
Government budget cuts are not what they seem.
Understanding history could also be called ‘wisdom.’ Wisdom told stories about “eating the seed corn.” If you eat the seed corn you can’t plant your crops the following year and everyone eventually starves.
In the early 80s Reaganism/Thatcherism (neoliberalism) convinced the country to drastically cut taxes on the rich and “pay for” it by cutting spending. The US stopped spending on maintaining and modernizing infrastructure – especially transportation infrastructure, on education, on science … on so many things. So we lived off of prior investment for so long. But the infrastructure deteriorated and we certain never modernized it. (Just look at our rail and transportation systems, compared to the rest of the world.)
All that $$ was transferred to the already-wealthy top few who paid for the propaganda that convinced the rest to do this.
Another piece of this scam was “saving money” through privatization. Using local trash collection as an example, cities would “save money” by getting rid of public trash collection and contracting with the “private sector” to do this more “efficiently.” What this meant was laying off the decently-paid public employees and hiring them back at minimum wage with no benefits. The infrastructure – trucks etc – to do this would receive little maintenance, collection schedules would be cut back, and people had to drag their trash to the curb instead of having it picked up at the house.
This didn’t actually save money, it shifted it. The newly minimum-wage workers would lose their houses which reduced property prices for e everyone and killed the tax base, they’d go on public assistance, schools would suffer and have higher costs, etc across the board. And poor people can’t spend much so all local businesses suffer, too.
Etc etc etc we can see it all around us now. But it is too late.
You can “save money” by not changing the oil in your car. But have you ever seen a car that has never had its oil changed? After a while white smoke pours out the back because the rings are ruined. Other parts of the engine are also being ruined. Eventually the engine will seize up and quit and you have to either replace the engine or scrap the car. A simple and inexpensive procedure every few months would have prevented many thousands of dollars in expenses later.
After the Reagan tax cuts we “made government smaller” in several ways that are coming back to bite us now. One way we “saved money” by not “changing the oil” was by deferring maintenance of the country’s infrastructure – the water systems, levees, dams, roads, bridges, airports, ports, rails systems, electrical systems, and the rest of the things we all rely on to bring us safe water, get us to work, ship products and generally move our economy and live our lives.
Now the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) most recent “Infrastructure Report Card” estimates we need to spend $3.6 trillion just to bring the infrastructure up to where it should be, never mind catching up to the rest of the word with high-speed rail and smart electrical grid systems. The bill is getting more expensive every year, and people are dying as bridges, roads and other important infrastructure components fail. Thousands died in New Orleans when the levees failed.
If people with OK public-employee jobs are replaced by lower-paid workers the community is poorer in the aggregate. More people will need public “safety-net” services. There will be foreclosures. Tax revenue drops because of lower pay but also because poorer people can’t spend as much in stores. Sales taxes drop as stores face fewer customers able to get by.
Sanctions on Russia’s oligarchs won’t work. The idea is that imposing sanctions of Putin’s oligarchs will cause them feel pain and do something about Putin. This is a US-centric view of how it works:
– In the US the oligarchs tell the government what to do. In Russia it’s the other way around. Putin tells the oligarchs what to do.
– BECAUSE this is how it works here, the US continues to allow oligarchs to hide their wealth behind anonymous “shell” corporations. So oligarch assets remain safe. Shell corporations owned by oligarchs can continue to buy real estate, art, etc.
– Also hidden assets of politicians, collected from oligarchs, remain safe.
President-elect Donald Trump owns a helicopter in Scotland.
To be more precise, he has a revocable trust that owns 99% of a Delaware limited liability company that owns 99% of another Delaware LLC that owns a Scottish limited company that owns another Scottish company that owns the 26-year-old Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, emblazoned with a red “TRUMP” on the side of its fuselage.
Sanctions on Russia’s economy are another matter.
This post first appeared at Government Cheese – Chronicling the collapse of democracy
It hasn’t sunk in yet but yesterday’s vote to allow Republican election-rigging and keep the filibuster marks the end of democracy. From here on out the fight is over. Republican efforts to rig the next elections will now accelerate. They know they have a free hand to do what they want. The public will tune out, understanding that nothing can change.
Billionaires and corporations funded and engineered the effort to keep the filibuster. Their thinking is that they’re at the top of a system rigged in their favor, and the filibuster keeps anything from changing. The filibuster has maintained their position at the top of the pyramid, blocking all efforts by the people to use government to change the rigged system. All Republicans were part of this pay-for-play operation, of course, but so were many Senate Democrats under Obama, and now Manchin and Sinema.
The corporations and billionaires think the current system of paying politicians to keep the money flowing to them has been locked in.
The minimum wage should be $24 if it had kept up with the gains in the economy.
Instead all those gains went to a top few.
While the national minimum wage did rise roughly in step with productivity growth from its inception in 1938 until 1968, in the more than five decades since then, it has not even kept pace with inflation. However, if the minimum wage did rise in step with productivity growth since 1968 it would be over $24 an hour today, as shown in the Figure below.
$15 WAS the compromise!
$15 is a compromise already. If the minimum wages had kept pace with the gains in the economy it would be $24 or so per hour now, which is around $96K per year for a couple. What this means is that if labor’s share of the economy had stayed the same the minimum lifestyle equivalent would be what a $96K lifestyle today is. The house you’d be able to buy, etc. That would be our minimum.
If they kill the $15 compromise there is no reason to keep fighting for $15. It should be $24 and we should all rightfully be fighting for that. It just gets us back to where we were before the great financialization, the great separation of labor wages from the economy, the great inequalizer.
So fuck 15, #FightFor24