Tuesday, May 6, 2014


US CAPITALISM NEWSLETTER #18,  May 6, 2014.   
Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology.     (#1 Jan. 30, 2011; #2 August 24, 2011; #3 October 2, 2011; #4 Oct. 29, 2011; #5 Jan. 29, 2012; #6 April 7, 2012; #7 June 8, 2012; #8 July 14, 2012; #9 Nov. 12, 2012; #10 Dec. 27, 2012; #11 Feb. 24, 2013; #12 April 23, 2013; #13, July 7, 2013; #14 August 28, 2013; #15, Nov. 22, 2013; #16 Feb. 18, 2014; #17, March 16, 2014).

The founders of OMNI recognized the necessity of advocating for a culture of peace, justice, and ecology.    That is, the existing culture of wars and economic rapacity had to be changed.   OMNI’s 18 US Capitalism Newsletters examine the dysfunctions of and the alternatives to US capitalism.  Remember that the defense of US capitalism by the US capitalist propaganda system is financed by billions of dollars.   OMNI with a budget so small you can’t find it in your wallet is sitting on the high end of the teeter-totter (as we are also on US imperialism and related issues), but at least we are here and, we hope, along with the peace, justice, and ecology movement, gaining weight.  It is this enormous disparity of resources, by the way, which removes any responsibility on our part to include pro-US capitalist and militarist arguments in our newsletters.  We are responding to gargantuan power and advantage.  And we are saying that a better world is possible only if we change the culture of US capitalism and militarism.

My blog:  The War Department and Peace Heroes

See Citizens United/McCutcheon, Class, Corporate Crime, Corporate Personhood, Corporations, Economics, Globalization, Go Not to Jail, Greed, Imperialism, Inequality, Information Control, Lobbying, Marx, Military Industrial Complex, Monopoly, Occupy, Rapacity, Regulation/Deregulation, Secrecy, Socialism, Too Big To Fail, US Economic Imperialism, Working Class, and related topics.

Nos. 13-17 at end.

Contents US Capitalism Newsletter #18
Alternatives to Capitalism
Naomi Klein, Capitalism vs. the Climate
Singer, Whose Millenium? Imagines a “Realistic Utopia”
Hedges: Capitalism/Corporations/Presidential Power Complex the Problem
Gibson, US and Chinese Capitalism
Three on US Oligarchy: It’s Worse Than you Suspect
   Queally on Krugman
    Zuesse, US Is an Oligarchy
    Queally, CEO Pay Soars in New Gilded Age
Public Citizen, Big Banks Hoarding Commodities
Three Reviews of Piketty’s Capital
    Timothy Shenk, Piketty on Inequality
     Krugman, Republican Right and Piketty
     Eric Alterman, Piketty’s Thesis and What Is To Be Done?


Contact Your Representatives

Numbers 13-17

See all 1 images

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate   

by Naomi Klein .  Simon and Schuster, 2014.
The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.

Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.

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Tuesday May 6th, 2014

Whose Millennium: Theirs or Ours?

Whose Millennium: Theirs or Ours?
Paperback, 288 pages
ISBN: 0-85345-946-0
Released: January 1999
Written with droll wit and lyrical elegance, this visionary book challenges the chorus of resignation—the notion that there is no alternative, that profit is the best relationship between people, and that the market guarantees democracy. Daniel Singer insists that a more free and egalitarian society can be won, and he predicts that the new millennium will be an age of confrontation, not consensus, with Western Europe as a probable first battlefield.
In social criticism of rare scope and insight, Singer probes the outcome of the Russian Revolution and Russia’s post-1989 turmoil, the transformation of the Polish trade union movement Solidarity into a reactionary and clerical force, the failure of social democracy in Western Europe, the emergence of an unbalanced world after the collapse of one superpower, and the massive 1995 strikes and demonstrations in France—which, Singer argues, were the first revolt against the prevailing idea that there is no alternative to market stringency.
As alternative, Singer calls for “realistic utopia”: a politics engaged with present-day possibilities but daring to pursue a world beyond capitalism, one that would put into consistent practice the ideals of democracy and equality.
Are we doomed to accept history, instead of creating it? Clone days, routines of pain, injustice as Destiny? Whose Millennium? helps us to believe that tomorrow is not another name for today.
—Eduardo Galeano
For many years Daniel Singer has been one of the best, and certainly the sanest, interpreter of things European for American readers. Now, in Whose Millennium?, he has expanded his—and our—horizon to give a view of what may be the next stage in humanity’s zig-zag course toward, if not the stars, a new social balance. Also, thanks to his Balzacian eye for human detail, his prose is a delight to read—as ever.
—Gore Vidal
Magisterial in its historical sweep, fiercely democratic in its vision, Whose Millennium? is the thinking person’s `bridge to the 21st Century.’ There is an alternative to rampant inequality and the corruptions of power, and— ever so modestly and persuasively—Daniel Singer points the way.
—Barbara Ehrenreich
I can think of no journalist more versed, more hip to what is happening in Europe today than Daniel Singer. His humor and smarts make Whose Millennium? a must read for those who want to know where world politics is heading.
—Studs Terkel
An erudite yet accessible, elegant yet straightforward, inspirational yet practical, sophisticated yet uncynical credo for the next century. Aux armes citoyens.
—Victor Navasky
Daniel Singer is the left’s most brilliant arsonist. He sets ablaze whole forests of desiccated cliches about the `end of history’ and the `triumph of the market’ in order to light the way forward for the next generation of radical thinkers and activists.
—Mike Davis
Daniel Singer (1926-2000) was the European correspondent for The Nation. He is the author of Prelude to Revolution (1970), The Road to Gdansk (1981), and Is Socialism Doomed?: The Meaning of Mitterrand (1988).


Tuesday, 06 May 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Chris Hedges | Capitalism, Not Government Is the Problem

Monday, 05 May 2014 09:46 By Chris Hedges, Truthdig | Op-Ed

Demonstrators against the NDAA in January, 2012.Demonstrators against the NDAA in January, 2012. (Photo: Justin Norman)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear our case concerning Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which permits the military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers without due process, means that this provision will continue to be law. It means the nation has entered a post-constitutional era. It means that extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil by our government is legal. It means that the courts, like the legislative and executive branches of government, exclusively serve corporate power—one of the core definitions of fascism. It means that the internal mechanisms of state are so corrupted and subservient to corporate power that there is no hope of reform or protection for citizens under our most basic constitutional rights. It means that the consent of the governed—a poll by OpenCongress.com showed that this provision had a 98 percent disapproval rating—is a cruel joke. And it means that if we do not rapidly build militant mass movements to overthrow corporate tyranny, including breaking the back of the two-party duopoly that is the mask of corporate power, we will lose our liberty.
“In declining to hear the case Hedges v. Obama and declining to review the NDAA, the Supreme Court has turned its back on precedent dating back to the Civil War era that holds that the military cannot police the streets of America,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who along with Bruce Afran devoted countless unpaid hours to the suit. “This is a major blow to civil liberties. It gives the green light to the military to detain people without trial or counsel in military installations, including secret installations abroad. There is little left of judicial review of presidential action during wartime.”
Afran, Mayer and I brought the case to the U.S. Southern District Court of New York in January 2012. I was later joined by co-plaintiffs Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, journalist Alexa O’Brien, RevolutionTruth founder Tangerine Bolen, Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Occupy London activist Kai Wargalla.
Later in 2012 U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest declared Section 1021(b)(2) unconstitutional. The Obama administration not only appealed—we expected it to appeal—but demanded that the law be immediately put back into effect until the appeal was heard. Forrest, displaying the same judicial courage she showed with her ruling, refused to do this.
The government swiftly went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. It asked, in the name of national security, that the court stay the district court’s injunction until the government’s appeal could be heard. The 2nd Circuit agreed. The law went back on the books. My lawyers and I surmised that this was because the administration was already using the law to detain U.S. citizens in black sites, most likely dual citizens with roots in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. The administration would have been in contempt of court if Forrest’s ruling was allowed to stand while the federal authorities detained U.S. citizens under the statute. Government attorneys, when asked by Judge Forrest, refused to say whether or not the government was already using the law, buttressing our suspicion that it was in use.
The 2nd Circuit overturned Forrest’s ruling last July in a decision that did not force it to rule on the actual constitutionality of Section 1021(b)(2). It cited the Supreme Court ruling in Clapper v. Amnesty International, another case in which I was one of the plaintiffs, to say that I had no standing, or right, to bring the NDAA case to court. Clapper v. Amnesty International challenged the secret wiretapping of U.S. citizens under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The Supreme Court had ruled in Clapper that our concern about government surveillance was “speculation.” It said we were required to prove to the court that the FISA Act would be used to monitor those we interviewed. The court knew, of course, that the government does not disclose whom it is monitoring. It knew we could never offer proof. The leaks by Edward Snowden, which came out after the Supreme Court ruling, showed that the government was monitoring us all, along with those we interviewed. The 2nd Circuit used the spurious Supreme Court ruling to make its own spurious ruling. It said that because we could not show that the indefinite-detention law was about to be used against us, just as we could not prove government monitoring of our communications, we could not challenge the law. It was a dirty game of judicial avoidance on two egregious violations of the Constitution.
In refusing to hear our lawsuit the courts have overturned nearly 150 years of case law that repeatedly holds that the military has no jurisdiction over civilians. Now, a U.S. citizen charged by the government with “substantially supporting” al-Qaida, the Taliban or those in the nebulous category of “associated forces”—some of the language of Section 1021(b)(2)—is lawfully subject to extraordinary rendition on U.S. soil. And those seized and placed in military jails can be kept there until “the end of hostilities.”
Judge Forrest, in her 112-page ruling against the section, noted that under this provision of the NDAA whole categories of Americans could be subject to seizure by the military. These might include Muslims, activists, Black Bloc members and any other Americans labeled as domestic terrorists by the state. Forrest wrote that Section 1021(b)(2) echoed the 1944 Supreme Court ruling in Korematsu v. United States, which supported the government’s use of the military to detain 110,00 Japanese-Americans in internment camps without due process during World War II.
Of the refusal to hear our lawsuit, Afran said, “The Supreme Court has left in place a statute that furthers erodes basic respect for constitutional liberties, that weakens free speech and will chill the willingness of Americans to exercise their 1st Amendment rights, already in severe decline in this country.”
The goals of corporate capitalism are increasingly indistinguishable from the goals of the state. The political and economic systems are subservient to corporate profit. Debate between conventional liberals and conservatives has been replaced by empty political theater and spectacle. Corporations, no matter which politicians are in office, loot the Treasury, escape taxation, push down wages, break unions, dismantle civil society, gut regulation and legal oversight, control information, prosecute endless war and dismantle public institutions and programs that include schools, welfare and Social Security. And elected officials, enriched through our form of legalized corporate bribery, have no intention of halting the process.
The government, by ignoring the rights and needs of ordinary citizens, is jeopardizing its legitimacy. This is dangerous. When a citizenry no longer feels that it can find justice within the organs of power, when it feels that the organs of power are the enemies of freedom and economic advancement, it makes war on those organs. Those of us who are condemned as radicals, idealists and dreamers call for basic reforms that, if enacted, will make peaceful reform possible. But corporate capitalists, now unchecked by state power and dismissive of the popular will, do not see the fires they are igniting. The Supreme Court ruling on our challenge is one more signpost on the road to dystopia.
It is capitalism, not government, that is the problem. The fusion of corporate and state power means that government is broken. It is little more than a protection racket for Wall Street. And it is our job to wrest government back. This will come only through the building of mass movements.
“It is futile to be ‘anti-Fascist’ while attempting to preserve capitalism,” George Orwell wrote. “Fascism after all is only a development of capitalism, and the mildest democracy, so-called, is liable to turn into Fascism.”
Our corporate masters will not of their own volition curb their appetite for profits. Human misery and the deadly assault on the ecosystem are good for business. These masters have set in place laws that, when we rise up—and they expect us to rise up—will permit the state to herd us like sheep into military detention camps. Section 1021(b)(2) is but one piece of the legal tyranny now in place to ensure total corporate control. The corporate state also oversees the most pervasive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. It can order the assassination of U.S. citizens. It has abolished habeas corpus. It uses secret evidence to imprison dissidents, such as the Palestinian academic Mazen Al-Najjar. It employs the Espionage Act to criminalize those who expose abuses of power. A ruling elite that accrues for itself this kind of total power, history has shown, eventually uses it.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. 

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.


China: The Wet Dream of American Oligarchs

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News, 28 April 14

f you have all the money in the world, but there’s nothing in the world worth buying, then what’s the point of having so much money in the first place?
Two crucial new tidbits of information coming out of China are helping to paint a fuller picture of the long-lasting damage from the unrestrained capitalism that’s evident in the world’s most populous nation. A newly-released Chinese state secret revealed that one-fifth of China’s farmland is unusable due to toxins in the soil leaked by industry. Worse still, 60 percent of China’s groundwater is undrinkable, for the same reasons.
When you combine China’s dwindling natural resources with its massive population that encompasses 20 percent of the planet, it’s easy to see how China will inevitably lead itself to societal collapse if it continues its brand of entirely unregulated capitalism. While China is technically known as a Communist country, it's actually outdoing the US when it comes to establishing a completely unregulated business environment.
China's Ruthless Capitalism
Labor regulations in China are almost nonexistent – 30,000 workers just recently went on strike at a factory that produces Nike and Adidas shoes, protesting low pay and dangerous working conditions. And China’s Foxconn plant, responsible for the manufacturing of Apple technology, has gotten plenty of attention since its workers – many of them children – threatened mass suicide several years ago.
Environmental regulations are similarly loose in China, which is home to 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. China also burns as much coal as the rest of the world combined, meaning much of the air is so polluted that residents of certain cities can’t go outside without a mask. Lung cancer rates have skyrocketed by 465 percent in just the last three decades, and 1.2 million people died prematurely due to pollution in 2010 alone.
One thing China has in common with the US is cronyism, evident in some businesses getting favorable treatment and paying no penalties for breaking the law. In China, state-owned businesses get around having to abide by laws passed by the central government. And in the US, the business-owned government, purchased through campaign donations and lobbying, allows rampant abuse of workers and the environment with very little accountability.
The End Game of Oligarchy
American politicians purchased through the campaign donation and lobbying processes are quick to enable US corporations by dynamiting regulations and further reducing their tax obligations. When David Koch ran as the nominee for vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980, one of his talking points wasabolishing the minimum wage. He also proposed dismantling the entire social safety net, including Social Security, Medicare, and welfare programs. Other proposed reforms included repealing laws passed to protect workers on the job, like the Occupational Safety and Health Act; privatizing all domestic water sources that supply houses, businesses and agriculture; and eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency.
Koch’s platform would also abolish all agencies responsible for protecting citizens from predatory corporate behavior like the Consumer Product Safety Commission, get rid of state usury laws that protect debtors from high interest rates, and deregulate medical insurance companies to make it easier for them to rip off poor and sick people. The Libertarian platform of 1980 also called for the repeal of all taxes that weren’t paid by consumers, like capital gains taxes for investors and corporate income taxes, and the immediate cessation of criminal and civil penalties for tax evasion.
Even though that failed campaign happened 34 years ago, Koch is actively using his billions to push for all of the above as a behind-the-scenes string-puller for other candidates in the state and federal political arenas. None of Koch’s reforms would make our country any more “free” – all they would do is rapidly distribute wealth from the poor to the very rich and strip all protections and safety nets from the vulnerable, all so the very rich could become richer. The idea of “trickle-down” economics is a myth, given that we saw most of the wealth created in the last decade concentrate into a smaller group of hands while wagesstagnated or decreased.
Profit or Planet?
US corporations are quick to complain about “unfair” regulations and taxes that don’t allow them to “compete.” To corporate oligarchs like David Koch and their pet politicians, the only things stopping corporations from being successful are the critical laws passed in the 20th century that protect consumers, workers’ basic rights, and the environment. Business leaders openly salivate over the “Chinese model” of doing business, complimenting China for its “pro-growth” economic policies and “business-friendly” laws and regulations. Even though corporate profits are already hitting consistent record highs and stock numbers have never been higher, corporations are still making the argument that the US business climate is too hostile for them.
While China is indeed outpacing the rest of the world when it comes to Gross Domestic Product, its citizens suffer from the side effects of rampant, unrestrained capitalism. The US is at a crossroads. One road leads to a new economy that values meeting human needs over GDP. The other leads to an autocratic corporate state where oligarchs gorge themselves in celebration of the end of workers’ rights and environmental protections in their never-ending, greed-inspired quest for more profits.
Do we really want to be a country where we neuter every law that creates a fair playing field for the average citizen, so a few tax-dodging oligarchs can have even more money they’ll never be able to spend? Do we want to become a country where the vast majority of citizens have largely unusable farmland and water as a result of corporate destruction of natural resources? If we deregulate everything and sacrifice our land, air, and water all for a slightly higher GDP output, is that really worth not having a world to pass on to future generations?

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


Krugman: Worried About Oligarchy? You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

by Jon Queally
"Even those of you who talk about the 1%, you don't really get what's going on. You're living in the past."

US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study
by Eric Zuesse
"Research shows that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies the US government adopts."

CEO Pay Soars, Workers Toil in Capitalism's New Gilded Age 
by Jon Queally
"The ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is 'unconscionable,' says the AFl-CIO, as a prominent economist argues this level of inequality proves the current capitalist system 'cannot work.'" 

Bleeding our economy dry
From Public Citizen
 Sue Skidmore ‎[suesactivism@mchsi.com]‎ 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Wall Street banks are behaving like parasites draining the blood from our economy.

These "too big to fail" institutions - which survived their own recklessness only because We the People bailed them out - have become more bloated than ever.

*Ever unsatisfied, the Big Banks are now literally hoarding basic commodities, like fuels and metals, that are essential to feeding our families, heating our homes and growing our economy.*

Tell the Federal Reserve: Ban the Big Banks from stockpiling physical commodities. [http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12461 ]

Goldman Sachs - one of the Wall Street titans we bailed out in 2008 - is a prime example of why the financial industry should be forbidden from buying up commodities.

*Here's just one example of what's happening:*

Not far from Detroit, Goldman Sachs owns 27 warehouses stocked with thousands of tons of the aluminum needed to make cans for vegetables, beans, soda, sardines and so on.

In an elaborate scheme only Wall Street could cook up, Goldman shuffles the aluminum from warehouse to warehouse, exploiting rules designed to stabilize the metal market in a way that instead lets more and more aluminum pile up and go unused.

The longer the aluminum sits locked away in its warehouses, the more Goldman rakes in - hundreds of millions so far. Meanwhile, warehousing the metal hurts consumers and manufacturers by artificially inflating the price of any product packaged in an aluminum container.*

*Goldman Sachs' absurd scheme has cost American shoppers more than $5 billion over the past three years.*

*That's enough to employ 100,000 people for a year at a $50,000 salary.*

Tell the Fed: Forbid Wall Street from buying up fuel, metal and other basic materials that have nothing to do with banking. [ http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12461 ] 

It's time to stand up to Wall Street's schemes to suck the lifeblood from our economy.

Thanks for all you do,
Rick Claypool
Public Citizen's Online Action Team

*To learn more, read A Shuffle of Aluminum, but to Banks, Pure Gold [ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/business/a-shuffle-of-aluminum-but-to-banks-pure-gold.html ] in The New York Times.

donate [ https://secure.citizen.org/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=6116&track=w14icBLP0226 ]

Visit our Financial Reform page [ http://www.citizen.org/financial-reform ] to learn more about Public Citizen's work to hold banks and financial corporations accountable. Go to http://action.citizen.org/unsubscribe.jsp if you do not want to receive future emails from Public Citizen. 

© 2014 Public Citizen • 1600 20th Street, NW / Washington, D.C. 20009 www.citizen.org [ http://www.citizen.org/ ]

Thomas Piketty and Millennial Marxists on the Scourge of Inequality

Capitalism’s new critics take on an economics run amok.
   |    This article appeared in the May 5, 2014 edition of The Nation. [Title: What Was Socialism?  --Dick]

Books Reviewed: 
A Magazine of Culture and Polemic.
A Secret History of the Workplace.
By Nikil Saval.
Buy this book
Utopia or Bust
A Guide to the Present Crisis.
By Benjamin Kunkel.
Buy this book
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Thomas Piketty.
Translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer.
Buy this book
Read the review: 

Council for a Livable World

 FOCUS: Paul Krugman | The Piketty Panic 
Paul Krugman, The New York Times, Reader Supported News, April 25, 2014 
Krugman writes: "The really striking thing about the debate so far is that the right seems unable to mount any kind of substantive counterattack to Mr. Piketty's thesis." 

The Power of Piketty’s ‘Capital’

A brilliant book has named the problem of our time. But will anything change?
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Dollar bill
(Reuters Pictures)
If you were among those who followed the reports on French economist Thomas Piketty’s US book tour in support of his university-press-published, 696-page, Marxism-tinged treatise on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and taxed your brain trying to recall a remotely recent antecedent for the ensuing excitement, well, relax—there isn’t any.
No less remarkable is the fact that one can, for once, believe the hype. Beautifully translated by Arthur Goldhammer, Piketty’s Capital is simultaneously intellectually rigorous, historically grounded, culturally nuanced and, in important respects, politically visionary. Even nitpicky economists who take issue with some of his interpretations of the mountains of data he and his colleagues assembled feel compelled to shower the book with praise beforehand—and frequently after as well. Paul Krugman credits Piketty with inspiring “a revolution in our understanding of long-term trends in inequality.”
Piketty’s central thesis presents a profound challenge to our political system and its response to the economic crisis of the past decade. As he puts it, an “apparently small gap between the return on capital and the rate of growth can in the long run have powerful and destabilizing effects on the structure and dynamics of social inequality.” Moreover, “there is absolutely no doubt that the increase of inequality in the United States contributed to the nation’s financial instability. The reason is simple: one consequence of increasing inequality was virtual stagnation of the purchasing power of the lower and middle classes in the United States, which inevitably made it more likely that modest households would take on debt, especially since unscrupulous banks and financial intermediaries, freed from regulation and eager to earn good yields on the enormous savings injected into the system by the well-to-do, offered credit on increasingly generous terms.”
While edifying intellectually, all this attention to inequality raises the question of what comes next—or, to borrow a phrase from another famous student of capital: What is to be done? Surprisingly for an academic economist, Piketty does not demur. On an entirely utopian plane, he imagines the effect of a progressive global tax on capital. “Such a tax would also have another virtue: it would expose wealth to democratic scrutiny, which is a necessary condition for effective regulation of the banking system and international capital flows.” On a minutely less unrealistic level, he argues for confiscatory tax rates on the wealthy of up to 80 percent. And on an ever-so-slightly more imaginable plane, he calls for boosting the minimum wage and improving the education and training opportunities of the poor and middle class, who are increasingly priced out of our faux-meritocracy, which is itself shaped by economic inequality.
But to be brutally honest, it’s hard to imagine any measurable impact from Piketty’s work on the problem it seeks to address—at least insofar as it relates to America today. “Inequality is not just the result of economic forces,” notes economist Joseph Stiglitz, “but political processes themselves are affected by the level and nature of inequality.” Stiglitz and others may treat this as cause for optimism. I do not. The chances that significant national action will be undertaken to improve the lives of the vast majority of our citizens have fallen to nearly zero, should such action be perceived to conflict with the interests of any subset of the super-rich, regardless of how small their number or how trivial its cost.
The ability of money to win what it wants is the defining characteristic of our politics—one exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon, and Citizens United before that. A reflection of this power, and a not-so-silent partner in the ethical crimes it perpetrates, is the manner in which demonstrable bullshit is able to dominate our political discourse and thereby mask all of the above behind ideological assertion and meaningless cliché. In his discussion of Piketty, Krugman recalls Upton Sinclair’s famous observation that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Thanks to the simultaneous corporatization and conglomeratization of our media apparatus, that category now includes almost every credentialed political pundit in America. (On this topic, congratulations to ABC News on the hiring of both William Kristol and Laura Ingraham for its Sunday-morning show This Week With George Stephanopoulos.)
As with Piketty’s data, the proof is in the proverbial pudding. Researching 1,779 national policy outcomes over a period of twenty years, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page note in a new study that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
This dynamic is evident in pretty much every policy area where the interests of even a relatively small number of really rich folk are remotely imperiled. Writing in The American Prospect, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson compare inequality to climate change, a problem “in which a solution must not only overcome powerful entrenched interests in individual countries but must be global in scope to be effective.”
Good luck with that. Just prior to Piketty’s arrival here, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released yet another report warning that only emergency action at this point can save us from the catastrophic consequences of our fossil fuel addiction. The cost to economic growth of taking such action would be next to nothing (about 0.06 percent per year). But so long as the Koch brothers—whose estimated net worth now exceeds $100 billion—and their puppet politicians and pundits continue to profit from the poisoning of our planet, you can bet nothing will be done.
Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the power of capital in the twenty-first century.
Read above:: Timothy Shenk on Thomas Piketty and millennial Marxists
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Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent. . Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira, Editors2014.  

The Imperial University
From the front lines of the war on academic freedom, linking the policing of knowledge to the relationship between universities, militarism, and neoliberalism
The Imperial University brings together scholars to explore the policing of knowledge by explicitly linking the academy to the broader politics of militarism, racism, nationalism, and neoliberalism that define the contemporary imperial state. Based on multidisciplinary research, autobiographical accounts, and even performance scripts, this urgent analysis offers sobering insights into varied manifestations of “the imperial university.”
The public space of higher education is under siege. The Imperial University interrogates in brilliant detail the nature of such attacks and the hidden structures of power and politics that define them. But it does more in providing a passionate call to rethink higher education as part of a future in which learning is linked to social change. A crucial book for anyone who imagines the university as both an essential public sphere and an index of what a democracy 

RECE                          RECE NT NEWSLETTERS
5-4 Kent State Remembrance DAY
5-3 UN World Press Freedom DAY
5-1 May DAY/UN International Workers’ DAY
4-28 Israel/Palestinians
4-21 Westward Imperialism
4-18 Pentagon Budget
4-18 Climate Change and Media
4-17 Fascism
4-16 Torture, War Crimes
4-15 Snowden
4-15 Military Spending
4-12 War on/of Terror
4-10 Russia

Contact Arkansas Congressional Delegation
Arkansas is represented in Congress by two senators and four representatives. Here is how to reach them. None of the senators or representatives publishes his e-mail address, but each can be contacted by filling in forms offered through his website.
Sen. John Boozman
Republican, first term
320 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4843
Fax: (202) 228-1371
Arkansas offices:
FORT SMITH: (479) 573-0189
JONESBORO: (870) 268-6925
LITTLE ROCK: (501) 372-7153
LOWELL: (479) 725-0400
MOUNTAIN HOME: (870) 424-0129
STUTTGART: (870) 672-6941
EL DORADO: (870) 863-4641
Website: www.boozman.senate.gov
Sen. Mark Pryor
Democrat, second term
255 Dirksen Office Building
Constitution Avenue and
First Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2353
Fax: (202) 228-0908
Little Rock office: (501) 324-6336
Website: www.pryor.senate.gov
Rep. Tom Cotton
Republican, first term
415 Cannon House Office Building
Washington 20515
Phone: (202) 225-43772
Arkansas offices:
CLARKSVILLE: (479) 754-2120
EL DORADO: (870) 881-0631
HOT SPRINGS: (501) 520-5892
PINE BLUFF: (870) 536-3376
Website: www.cotton.house.gov

Rep. Rick Crawford
Republican, second term
1771 Longworth Office Building
New Jersey and
Independence Avenues SE
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4076
Fax: (202) 225-5602
JONESBORO: (870) 203-0540
CABOT: (501) 843-3043
MOUNTAIN HOME: (870) 424-2075
Website: www.crawford.house.gov
Rep. Tim Griffin
Republican, second term
1232 Longworth Office Building
New Jersey and
Independence Avenues SE
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2506
Fax: (202) 225-5903
Arkansas offices:
LITTLE ROCK: (501) 324-5491
Website: www.griffin.house.gov
Rep. Steve Womack
Republican, second term
1119 Longworth Office Building
New Jersey and
Independence Avenues SE
Washington 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4301 
Fax: (202) 225-5713
Arkansas offices:
ROGERS: (479) 464-0446
HARRISON: (870) 741-7741
FORT SMITH: (479) 424-1146
Website: www.womack.house.gov


Contents #13
Dick, Moyers & Co.: Victims of US Capitalism in Milwaukee
Scheer,  Predatory Takeover, The Great Stickup
Taibbi, Big Banks Price-Fixing
Dick, Warrior Capitalism
Taibbi, Everything Rigged
Leech, Capitalism Genocidal, Rev. by Sethness
Munoz, US Supreme Court Protects Corporations, MM Silent
Richard Wolff
Kroll, 2012 Elections and Billionaires
Gibson, Public Banking

Contents #14
Leibovich: US Capitalism Washington, DC,
Cox: The Market as God
Moyers: Freeland, Taibbi, Income Inequality
Birdsell:  Poverty of Working Poor
Ockert:  SNAP Handouts Help Short-term
Hedges:  Global US Capitalism, World’s Elites vs. World’s Poor
Trainor:  And Climate Change, 180 Degree Turn Needed Now
Bennett:  Chomsky, Bolivia (long-term gains) vs. US (short-term)
Faulkner:   Over-accumulation of Capitalism: 
Defenders of a Modified Capitalism
Admati and Hellwig: Changing the Banking System
Haque: Changing the Economic System
Strong and Mackey: Conscious Capitalists Can Solve World’s Problems
Welch: Positive Vision Needed

Contents #15 Nov. 22, 2013 (11 essays)
Frontline, JPMorgan Fined $13 Billion, the Price of Business as Usual
Hedges (2 essays on disintegrating Corporate State)
Moyers & Company:  Interview of Heather Gerken and Joyce Appleby
Moyers & Co., Interview of Gretchen Morgenson, Author of Reckless Endangerment
Nichols and  McChesney, Dollarocracy
Gotesdiener, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home
Senator Sanders, Morally and Economically Sound Budget
Speth, Manifesto for a New Economy
Appleby, Libertarian View of Flexible Capitalism
Brown, Costa Rican (and North Dakotan!) Public Banking

Contents US Capitalism Newsletter #16,
US “Free”-Market, Unregulated Greed
Parramore, Ayn Rand
Video Documentary, Frontline, “To Catch a Trader”
Dick: Jackson’s Study of Media Reporting of Unequal Justice
Michael Klare: Carbon Dioxide Increasing

Building a New Economic System
Pierce, Economic Bill of Rights Needed vs. Corporations
Chomsky, An Economic System for the Common Good
Weissmann, A Different Federal Reserve
Hedges, Public Banks, the North Dakota Model
Bradbery, Adequate Regulatory Oversight
Stephenson and Miodema, Volker Rule One Step
The People’s Ally, Public Citizen
Staggenborg, Pledge to Amend, Anti-Corruption Act Petition

US Capitalism Newsletter: Dysfunctions and Alternatives #17
Dysfunctions of US Capitalism
Starkman, Failure of US Journalism to Investigate US Financial Power
Cynthia Lobeda, Deep Structural Dysfunction of Capitalism
William Greider, Federal Reserve Needs Overhaul
Lee Fang, Corporate Control of TPP
Red Ink, Film by Kusha Sefat on Money, Politics, and Media in US
Alternatives to US Capitalism
Richard Swift.  SOS: Alternatives to Capitalism (May 2014)
The Monthly Review
Sader and Silverstein, Lula and Brazil’s Workers Party
Google Search March 16, 2014


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Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)