Posts tagged capitalism

thepeoplesrecord:

The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’ | The GuardianApril 16, 2014
Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.
This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.
To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.
Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.
Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.
The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.
However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.
People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.
One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.
It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.

thepeoplesrecord:

The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars - it hurts their ‘quality of life’ | The Guardian
April 16, 2014

Across the United States, many local governments are responding to skyrocketing levels of inequality and the now decades-long crisis of homelessness among the very poor … by passing laws making it a crime to sleep in a parked car.

This happened most recently in Palo Alto, in California’s Silicon Valley, where new billionaires are seemingly minted every month – and where 92% of homeless people lack shelter of any kind. Dozens of cities have passed similar anti-homeless laws. The largest of them is Los Angeles, the longtime unofficial “homeless capital of America”, where lawyers are currently defending a similar vehicle-sleeping law before a skeptical federal appellate court. Laws against sleeping on sidewalks or in cars are called “quality of life” laws. But they certainly don’t protect the quality of life of the poor.

To be sure, people living in cars cannot be the best neighbors. Some people are able to acquire old and ugly – but still functioning – recreational vehicles with bathrooms; others do the best they can. These same cities have resisted efforts to provide more public toilet facilities, often on the grounds that this will make their city a “magnet” for homeless people from other cities. As a result, anti-homeless ordinances often spread to adjacent cities, leaving entire regions without public facilities of any kind.

Their hope, of course, is that homeless people will go elsewhere, despite the fact that the great majority of homeless people are trying to survive in the same communities in which they were last housed – and where they still maintain connections. Americans sleeping in their own cars literally have nowhere to go.

Indeed, nearly all homelessness in the US begins with a loss of income and an eviction for nonpayment of rent – a rent set entirely by market forces. The waiting lists are years long for the tiny fraction of housing with government subsidies. And rents have risen dramatically in the past two years, in part because long-time tenants must now compete with the millions of former homeowners who lost their homes in the Great Recession.

The paths from eviction to homelessness follow familiar patterns. For the completely destitute without family or friends able to help, that path leads more or less directly to the streets. For those slightly better off, unemployment and the exhaustion of meager savings – along with the good graces of family and friends – eventually leaves people with only two alternatives: a shelter cot or their old automobile.

However, in places like Los Angeles, the shelters are pretty much always full. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 67%. In Palo Alto last year, there were 12 shelter beds for 157 homeless individuals. Homeless people in these cities do have choices: they can choose to sleep in a doorway, on a sidewalk, in a park, under a bridge or overpass, or – if they are relatively lucky – in a car. But these cities have ordinances that make all of those choices a criminal offense. The car is the best of bad options, now common enough that local bureaucrats have devised a new, if oxymoronic, term – the “vehicularly housed”.

People sleeping in cars try to find legal, nighttime parking places, where they will be less apparent and arouse the least hostility. But cities like Palo Alto and Los Angeles often forbid parking between 2am and 5am in commercial areas, where police write expensive tickets and arrest and impound the vehicles of repeat offenders. That leaves residential areas, where overnight street parking cannot, as a practical matter, be prohibited.

One finds the “vehicularly housed” in virtually every neighborhood, including my own. But the animus that drives anti-homeless laws seems to be greatest in the wealthiest cities, like Palo Alto, which has probably spawned more per-capita fortunes than any city on Earth, and in the more recently gentrified areas like Los Angeles’ Venice. These places are ruled by majorities of “liberals” who decry, with increasing fervor, the rapid rise in economic inequality. Nationally, 90% of Democrats (and 45% of Republicans) believe the government should act to reduce the rich-poor gap.

It is easy to be opposed to inequality in the abstract. So why are Los Angeles and Palo Alto spending virtually none of their budgets on efforts to provide housing for the very poor and homeless? When the most obvious evidence of inequality parks on their street, it appears, even liberals would rather just call the police. The word from the car: if you’re not going to do anything to help, please don’t make things worse.

Tennessee Passes Mind-Boggling Ban On Rapid Bus Transit | Wired 
Tennessee lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor a bill that bans the construction of bus rapid transit (BRT) anywhere in the state.
The impetus for the vote was a proposal to build a $174 million BRT system in Nashville called The Amp, which would’ve ran on a 7.1 mile route and served rapidly growing neighborhoods across the city. There’s a more detailed summary of the project over at The Tennessean.
Although BRT has been shown to revitalize economies and reduce congestion, opponents of The Amp voiced concerns about the safety of unloading bus passengers along roadways and whether private land would be used to build dedicated bus lanes.
After the vote, Amp opponents revealed that the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, founded with the support of brothers Charles and David Koch, had lobbied in favor of the bus ban.
The legislation is startlingly specific: Senate Bill 2243 forbids “constructing, maintaining or operating any bus rapid transit system.”
The Senate version of the BRT ban also forbids buses from “loading or discharging passengers at any point within the boundary lines of a state highway or state highway right-of-way not adjacent to the right-hand, lateral curb line.” Though the House struck that provision and sent revised legislation back to the Senate, it would still require special approval from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and local government bodies.
It’s a hard line, and an unusual one.
Normally, the easiest way to kill a public transit project is to pull its funding. Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii and Utah all forbid state funding for public transit systems, for instance, but even that isn’t foolproof: Utah’s taken on some major commuter rail expansions lately, and Phoenix uses county tax revenues to pay for its transit system.
Voters in Arlington, TX famously voted against public transit funding for decades, and an acrimonious debate in Cincinnati almost derailed a streetcar project, but both those cities now have service.
A formal ban on BRT is about the only way that Tennessee could ensure that The Amp didn’t get built as intended. Already, the project seems to be watered down. Nashville’s mayor—a proponent of the project—has ordered a study that would redesign the system to avoid using dedicated lanes (PDF).
Now, drivers in Nashville can look forward to increased traffic and longer commutes. But at least those pesky buses won’t be in the way.
(Photo Credit: Amp Yes)

Tennessee Passes Mind-Boggling Ban On Rapid Bus Transit | Wired 

Tennessee lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor a bill that bans the construction of bus rapid transit (BRT) anywhere in the state.

The impetus for the vote was a proposal to build a $174 million BRT system in Nashville called The Amp, which would’ve ran on a 7.1 mile route and served rapidly growing neighborhoods across the city. There’s a more detailed summary of the project over at The Tennessean.

Although BRT has been shown to revitalize economies and reduce congestion, opponents of The Amp voiced concerns about the safety of unloading bus passengers along roadways and whether private land would be used to build dedicated bus lanes.

After the vote, Amp opponents revealed that the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, founded with the support of brothers Charles and David Koch, had lobbied in favor of the bus ban.

The legislation is startlingly specific: Senate Bill 2243 forbids “constructing, maintaining or operating any bus rapid transit system.”

The Senate version of the BRT ban also forbids buses from “loading or discharging passengers at any point within the boundary lines of a state highway or state highway right-of-way not adjacent to the right-hand, lateral curb line.” Though the House struck that provision and sent revised legislation back to the Senate, it would still require special approval from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and local government bodies.

It’s a hard line, and an unusual one.

Normally, the easiest way to kill a public transit project is to pull its funding. Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii and Utah all forbid state funding for public transit systems, for instance, but even that isn’t foolproof: Utah’s taken on some major commuter rail expansions lately, and Phoenix uses county tax revenues to pay for its transit system.

Voters in Arlington, TX famously voted against public transit funding for decades, and an acrimonious debate in Cincinnati almost derailed a streetcar project, but both those cities now have service.

A formal ban on BRT is about the only way that Tennessee could ensure that The Amp didn’t get built as intended. Already, the project seems to be watered down. Nashville’s mayor—a proponent of the project—has ordered a study that would redesign the system to avoid using dedicated lanes (PDF).

Now, drivers in Nashville can look forward to increased traffic and longer commutes. But at least those pesky buses won’t be in the way.

(Photo Credit: Amp Yes)


10 Big Companies That Pay No Taxes (and Their Favorite Politicians) | Mother Jones
Between 2008 and 2011, 26 major American corporations paid no net federal income taxes despite bringing in billions in profits, according to a new report (PDF) from the nonprofit research group Citizens for Tax Justice. CTJ calculates that if the companies had paid the full 35 percent corporate tax rate, they would have put more than $78 billion into government coffers.
Here’s a look at the 10 most profitable tax evaders and the politicians their CEOs, employees, and PACs give the most money to.
Verizon CommunicationsProfits: $19.8 billion    Effective tax rate: -3.8%Top recipients, 2011-2012President Barack Obama: $51,493Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.): $24,450Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $23,700Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): $22,500Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): $15,000
General Electric Profits: $19.6 billion    Effective tax rate: -18.9%Top recipients, 2011-2012Mitt Romney: $53,750President Barack Obama (D): $30,493Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.): $23,900Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.): $21,860Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.): $19,750


BoeingProfits: $14.8 billion    Effective tax rate: -5.5%Top recipients, 2011-2012Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.): $31,750Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.): $25,000Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.): $23,500Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): $23,125Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): $20,986
NextEra Energy: North America’s largest solar and wind power operator, based in FloridaProfits: $8.8 billion    Effective tax rate: -2%Top recipients, 2011-2012George LeMieux (R-Fla.): $9,500Mike Haridopolos (R-Fla.): $4,800Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): $2,000Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): $2,000Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.): $2,000
American Electric Power: Electric utility based in Columbus, OhioProfits: $8.2 billion    Effective tax rate: -6.4%Top recipients, 2011-2012Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): $34,750Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio): $34,050Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio): $21,700Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.): $19,750Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio): $18,450
Pacific Gas & Electric: California electrical utilityProfits: $6 billion    Effective tax rate: -8.4%Top recipients, 2011-2012President Barack Obama (D): $6,250Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.): $5,000Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.): $5,500Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.): $5,000Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.): $3,500
Apache: Houston-based oil and gas companyProfits: $6 billion    Effective tax rate: -0.3%Top recipients, 2011-2012David Dewhurst (R-Texas): $25,000Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.): $5,000Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.): $2,500 Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas): $2,500Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas): $2,500Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $2,500Brendan Doherty (R-R.I.): $2,500
Consolidated Edison: New York energy companyProfits: $5.9 billion    Effective tax rate: -1.3%Top recipients, 2011-2012Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): $15,050Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): $8,000Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.): $6,650Then-Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.): $2,500Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.): $1,500Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.): $1,500Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.): $1,500
El Paso: Houston-based energy company that operates the country’s largest natural gas pipelineProfits: $4.6 billion    Effective tax rate: -0.9%Top recipients, 2011-2012David Dewhurst (R-Texas): $7,500Mitt Romney (R): $5,000Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.): $3,000Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.): $2,750Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.): $2,500 Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.): $2,500 Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $2,500 Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas): $2,500Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.): $2,500Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.): $2,500
CenterPoint Energy: Electric and gas utility company based in HoustonProfits: $3.1 billion    Effective tax rate: -11.3%Top recipients, 2011-2012David Dewhurst (R-Texas): $22,050Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas): $13,458Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $10,299Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.): $7,000Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas): $4,000
Giving data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Includes all 2011-12 campaign donations from each company’s employees and corporate PACs.
(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

10 Big Companies That Pay No Taxes (and Their Favorite Politicians) | Mother Jones

Between 2008 and 2011, 26 major American corporations paid no net federal income taxes despite bringing in billions in profits, according to a new report (PDF) from the nonprofit research group Citizens for Tax Justice. CTJ calculates that if the companies had paid the full 35 percent corporate tax rate, they would have put more than $78 billion into government coffers.

Here’s a look at the 10 most profitable tax evaders and the politicians their CEOs, employees, and PACs give the most money to.

Verizon Communications
Profits: $19.8 billion    Effective tax rate: -3.8%

Top recipients, 2011-2012
President Barack Obama: $51,493
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.): $24,450
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $23,700
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): $22,500
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): $15,000

General Electric 
Profits: $19.6 billion    Effective tax rate: -18.9%

Top recipients, 2011-2012
Mitt Romney: $53,750
President Barack Obama (D): $30,493
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.): $23,900
Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.): $21,860
Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.): $19,750

Boeing
Profits: $14.8 billion    Effective tax rate: -5.5%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.): $31,750
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.): $25,000
Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.): $23,500
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): $23,125
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): $20,986

NextEra Energy: North America’s largest solar and wind power operator, based in Florida
Profits: $8.8 billion    Effective tax rate: -2%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
George LeMieux (R-Fla.): $9,500
Mike Haridopolos (R-Fla.): $4,800
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): $2,000
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): $2,000
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.): $2,000

American Electric Power: Electric utility based in Columbus, Ohio
Profits: $8.2 billion    Effective tax rate: -6.4%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): $34,750
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio): $34,050
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio): $21,700
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.): $19,750
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio): $18,450

Pacific Gas & Electric: California electrical utility
Profits: $6 billion    Effective tax rate: -8.4%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
President Barack Obama (D): $6,250
Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.): $5,000
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.): $5,500
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.): $5,000
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.): $3,500

Apache: Houston-based oil and gas company
Profits: $6 billion    Effective tax rate: -0.3%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
David Dewhurst (R-Texas): $25,000
Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.): $5,000
Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.): $2,500 
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas): $2,500
Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas): $2,500
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $2,500
Brendan Doherty (R-R.I.): $2,500

Consolidated Edison: New York energy company
Profits: $5.9 billion    Effective tax rate: -1.3%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): $15,050
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): $8,000
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.): $6,650
Then-Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.): $2,500
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.): $1,500
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.): $1,500
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.): $1,500

El Paso: Houston-based energy company that operates the country’s largest natural gas pipeline
Profits: $4.6 billion    Effective tax rate: -0.9%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
David Dewhurst (R-Texas): $7,500
Mitt Romney (R): $5,000
Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.): $3,000
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.): $2,750
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.): $2,500 
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.): $2,500 
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $2,500 
Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas): $2,500
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.): $2,500
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.): $2,500

CenterPoint Energy: Electric and gas utility company based in Houston
Profits: $3.1 billion    Effective tax rate: -11.3%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
David Dewhurst (R-Texas): $22,050
Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas): $13,458
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $10,299
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.): $7,000
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas): $4,000

Giving data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Includes all 2011-12 campaign donations from each company’s employees and corporate PACs.

(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

The sobering truth is when the oil is gone… the maximum energy we will ever be able to use is what the sun can photosynthetically give us in a day… There is no ‘next’ to cure our oil addiction. There is only the realization that eventually we will have to drastically change our energy consumption, and our way of life. We will have to abandon capitalist dictated expansion and opt for systems of locality with our primary focus on sustainable living.

Nothing grows forever.

To paraphrase philosopher Slavoj Žižek, paradoxically, consensus of the solution to the failures of capitalism seems to be more capitalism. Runaway grow-baby-grow consumption at all costs is exemplified in our drill-baby-drill environmental policies.

After British Petroleum plastered the Gulf of Mexico with pollution through an ill-maintained oil rig, a temporary moratorium was placed on some deepwater drilling. Shortly thereafter that restriction was lifted. This year more permits for new wells have been issued than since 2007. The Obama Administration has taken it further by approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a transnational oil line to transport the most toxic oil imaginable from Canada’s tar-sands back to the very ecosystem so recently assaulted, and directly over precious natural aquifers. To top it off, [politicians want] to expand harmful drilling in Alaska’s park reserves, as well as expand the already 4,000 ticking time bombs in the Gulf.

These are not solutions to our crisis; they are band-aids to a gushing wound. They are ecocidal mania perpetuated by a global culture which does not understand that living 300% beyond sustainability is going to kill us all. None of these self-proclaimed solutions put at the forefront of our efforts that nothing can grow in perpetuity. We have grown too accustomed to the benefits of petrochemical economies, on growth for the sake of growth.

It’s common… to claim that improving the quality of education in inner cities and impoverished rural areas is the answer to halting the growing gap between rich and poor. This view reflects not only illusions about the potential for substantially improving education for children from low- and moderate-income families without deeper economic and political shifts, but also a serious misunderstanding about the growth of inequality over the last three decades.

…[I]nequality is not a question of the more-educated gaining at the expense of the less-educated due to inevitable technological trends. Rather, it has been a story in which a small group of especially well-situated workers — for example, those in finance, doctors, and top-level corporate executives — have been able to gain at the expense of almost everyone else. This pattern of inequality will be little affected by improving the educational outcomes for the bottom quarter or even bottom half of income distribution.

…[I]t… is not the case that plausible increases in education quality and attainment will have a substantial impact on inequality. This will require much deeper structural changes in the economy. As a practical matter, given the dismal track record of the education reformers, substantial improvement in outcomes for children from low- and moderate-income families is likely to require deep structural change in society as well.

Education is Not the Answer | Jacobin 

"Education" alone is not a plausible answer. When speaking of education, the solution to inequality must and ought to be framed qualitatively, as in education about what exactly, and in what new ways shall we henceforth cope. These are the fundamentals of an education that challenges inequality and sets out a path to abolish it. Degrees in nursing or biotechnology — any field, you name it — do nothing to challenge inequality without knowing the underlying fundamental that capitalism breeds it. If we are not educating that fact then we are just treading water. 

What is Neoliberalism?

plansfornigel:

What is Neoliberalism?

A Brief Definition for Activists
by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

"Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

"Neo" means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation’s economy to develop. Such ideas were "liberal" in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged "free" enterprise," "free" competition — which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He said, in essence, that full employment is necessary for capitalism to grow and it can be achieved only if governments and central banks intervene to increase employment. These ideas had much influence on President Roosevelt’s New Deal — which did improve life for many people. The belief that government should advance the common good became widely accepted.

But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That’s what makes it “neo” or new. Now, with the rapid globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale.

A memorable definition of this process came from Subcomandante Marcos at the Zapatista-sponsored Encuentro Intercontinental por la Humanidad y contra el Neo-liberalismo (Inter-continental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism) of August 1996 in Chiapas when he said: “what the Right offers is to turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here, women there ….” and he might have added, children, immigrants, workers or even a whole country like Mexico.”

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, “Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America.”

In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and cutbacking social programs. The Republican “Contract” on America is pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself — and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will “get government off my back.” The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world’s people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last 60 years, suffering without end.

Here’s a refrain you’ll hear a lot in conversations about gentrifications: “Well, it’s really a class issue.” Davidson’s piece manages to avoid any race analysis whatsoever. Of course economics plays a huge role in this. But race and class are inseparably entwined. Rising rents, along with institutionally racist policies like stop-and-frisk, have forced black people to leave New York and urban areas around the country at historic rates. And yes, there are many layers at play: When non-black people of color with class privilege, like myself, move into a historically black and lower-income neighborhood, the white imagination reads our presence as making the area a notch safer for them. The mythology of safety and racial coding regards our presence as a marker of change; the white imagination places higher value on anything it perceives as closer to itself, further from blackness. We become complicit in the scam; the cycle continues.

These power plays – cultural, political, economic, racial — are the mechanics of a city at war with itself. It is a slow, dirty war, steeped in American traditions of racism and capitalism. The participants are often wary, confused, doubtful. Macklemore summarized the attitudes of many young white wealthy newcomers in his fateful text to Kendrick Lamar on Grammy night: “It’s weird and sucks that I robbed you.” But as with Macklemore, being surprised about a system that has been in place for generations is useless. White supremacy is nothing if not predictable.

Gentrification is violence. Couched in white supremacy, it is a systemic, intentional process of uprooting communities… [Its] central act of violence is one of erasure.

…“Girls,” for example, reimagines today’s Brooklyn as an entirely white community. Here’s a show that places itself in the epicenter of a gentrifying city with gentrifiers for characters – it is essentially a show about gentrification that refuses to address gentrification. After critics lambasted Season 1 for its lack of diversity, the show brought in Donald Glover to play a black Republican and still managed to avoid the more pressing and relevant question of displacement and racial disparity that the characters are, despite their self-absorption, deeply complicit with. What’s especially frustrating about “Girls” not only dodging the topic entirely but pushing back – often with snark and defensiveness against calls for more diversity – is that it’s a show that seems to want to bring a more nuanced take on the complexities of modern life.

In an appallingly overwritten New York magazine article with the (I guess) provocative title “Is Gentrification All Bad?,” Justin Davidson imagines a first wave of gentrifiers much the way I’ve heard it described again and again: “A trickle of impecunious artists hungry for space and light.” This is the standard, “first it was the artists” narrative of gentrification, albeit a little spruced up, and the unspoken but the understood word here is “white.” Because, really, there have always been artists in the hood. They aren’t necessarily recognized by the academy or using trust funds supplementing coffee shop tips to fund their artistic careers, but they are still, in fact, artists. The presumptive, unspoken “white” in the first round of artists gentrification narrative is itself an erasure of these artists of color.

When did we become a country where the millionaires are jealous of the people on food stamps? A country that thinks teachers and fire fighters are soaking us dry? A country that thinks the richest who are paying the lowest taxes in 80 years are the ones being beaten up?
fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Arundhati Roy on NGOs:"Their real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. NGOs form a sort of buffer between the government and public. Between Empire and its subjects. They have become the arbitrators, the interpreters, the facilitators. In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders, not to the people they work among."(Read her full statement here)

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Arundhati Roy on NGOs:

"Their real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. NGOs form a sort of buffer between the government and public. Between Empire and its subjects. They have become the arbitrators, the interpreters, the facilitators. In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders, not to the people they work among."

(Read her full statement here)

Today [six big banks] own 85 percent of deposits of all the commercial banks, 84 percent of assets of all the commercial banks, and control 96 percent of all of the derivatives that financial institutions that are backed by the government utilize today, and 45 percent of the world’s derivatives. Six banks control so much capital and have so much power as to the laws around that capital. And the administration—and this started in Reagan, through Bush, through Clinton, into Obama—this is not new—but the reaction of the administrations has been to allow this to happen, to allow the concentration of this capital, of this power, to do nothing in the face of the financial crisis of 2008, which… is still ongoing, just in a different manifestation, because this risk still exists and because these numbers are worse than they were before the crisis of 2008.
The days of capitalist and imperialist exploitation are numbered. The war neither began with us nor is it going to end with our lives.

"A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston."
In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters | The New York Times 

"A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston."

In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters | The New York Times