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Archive for November, 2019

A recent Wall Street Journal story claimed socialism was an utter failure and no nation which has embraced capitalism has ever failed. That was a lie, plain and simple. There are plenty of examples and we can begin right here with the complete failure of capitalism in the United States.

The roaring twenties was a time of unprecedented income and wealth inequality. This period was followed by the Great Depression beginning in 1929. The Depression devastated the U.S. economy. From 1929 to 1932, half of all banks failed, unemployment rose from 2.7 percent to 25.3 percent and homelessness became rampant. Housing prices plummeted 30%, international trade collapsed by 65%, the stock market suffered a 90+ percent loss of value, real Gross Domestic Product (GNP) fell 30.5 percent, wholesale prices fell 30.8 percent, and consumer prices fell 24.4 percent. Wages plummeted. In manufacturing, representing 4 of every 9 jobs in the non-farm economy at the time, weekly earnings dropped 37.5 percent from 1929 through 1932.

From 1929 to 1932, the pro-capitalist policies of the incumbent Republican Party President Herbert Hoover and the Republican congress had utterly failed. The market did not correct itself.

In the summer of 1932, Hoover insisted he would easily defeat the Democratic Party challenger, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). At the time Hoover made this claim, the unemployment rate was 21.3 percent. However, 1932 was the year the Great Depression kicked into high gear. Manufacturing wages dropped more than 19 percent during that year alone, prices continued falling, and unemployment accelerated. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) collapsed by 12.9 percent, the highest fall on record. The capitalist economy of the United States was in a free fall in 1932, an utter failure of an economic system.

By the time FDR was inaugurated as president in March 1933, the unemployment rate was 25.3 percent. Unrest was occurring all over the nation; tax collectors were tar and feathered, and people were taking to the streets.

FDR infused socialism into capitalism to revive dead capitalism. His socialist policies arrested the collapse; GDP fell only -1.2 percent in 1933, and prices began to grow. GNP grew over ten percent in 1934, while prices and wages continued to rise. Socialist policies enacted by FDR included the Social Security Act to help protect the aged, unemployment insurance to keep people spending money, the minimum wage to stop wages from plummeting beyond a certain level, the Wagner Act which gave organized labor more rights to negotiate a better living with employers, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to police Wall Street criminals. Major federal programs and agencies included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Civil Works Administration (CWA), both of which put hundreds of thousands of people to work. FDR also created the Farm Security Administration (FSA) to provide relief to farmers from drought and falling prices.

As a result of the adoption of these and other socialist policies, GNP grew by robust amounts until FDR decided to curtail federal spending. The result was a short setback to the economy. FDR reversed course and continued federal deficit spending until the unemployment fell to less than 10 percent on the eve of World War II.

The United States has had a robust socialist sector as part of its economy ever since (Actually before then too). Think of all those public schools initiated 200 and more years ago in the United States, the Constitutionally mandated United States postal service (God damn socialist U.S. Constitution), the highway system, the military, the police, public parks, the court system, public employees, the national park system, the Food and Drug Administration, etc…. That is a lot of socialism for a capitalist nation, and the result has been a robust middle class, which has been weakened as the billionaires have taken over both major political parties (and your government in the process), privatized a lot of government services to take money from you and put it into their wallets, and redistributed trillions of dollars from the 99 percent to themselves during the last forty years. The rich love socialism for themselves, but not for you.

As for other capitalist nations that have failed a shortlist would include:

* Imperial Russia; people overthrew the capitalist system and replaced it with a communist system because the capitalist system had utterly failed. Yes, I know, the communist system also failed.

* Sweden: The late Nobel Prize-winning economist liked to tell the tale of the complete failure of Swedish capitalism. The Great Depression ushered in the first known nation that became heavily socialist by a vote of the people during the 1930s. The Swedes never looked back.

* The Weimar Republic was established as the representative democracy of Germany which aimed to give genuine power to all German adults. However, it had major flaws that contributed to its downfall in 1933-34, and it was replaced by Nazi Germany.

* Nazi Germany-the less said about it the better, but it did fall into the dustbin of history in 1945.

* Venezuela-Poverty ran rampant in capitalist Venezuela. Capitalism’s promises of prosperity failed miserably to improve the standards of living for the vast majority of Venezuela’s people, and that is why Hugo Chavez was elected and re-elected time and again up to his death. Thus the failure of capitalism gave birth to socialism. I know! I know! Somebody is going to say socialism has failed in Venezuela too! I will not argue that point.

On the other hand, I can name many successful socialist nations, like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, China, France, and by the way, you can also include the United States in that list, especially if one looks at all the ways the government enriches the wealthy through legislation, and through military spending, or how the Federal Reserve bailed out the rich with the $26 trillion bailout. $26 trillion? That’s socialism for you, well, not for you, but for the rich.

Socialism and capitalism have meshed together for ages. There is no pure socialist nation nor a purely capitalist nation. Purely capitalist nations have failed, and purely communist nations have failed. By the way, our capitalist health care system in the United States is the least efficient and most expensive system in the developed world, and also the only capitalist one.

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Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren understands economics and political power. She understands democracy, and she understands we no longer have a democracy. We have a plutocracy, which is a government for the rich and by the rich. The rich and their corporations have their power over all three branches of government, and they have used that power to redistribute tens of trillions of dollars from working people to themselves over the last forty years.

This week hedge fund CEO Leon Cooperman sent her a five-page letter complaining that she doesn’t know anything about billionaires, or him in particular. Leon apparently does not know that when you export millions of jobs, the difference between the old higher U.S. compensation and the new low, that is very low, third-world wages with no benefits goes straight into the pockets of the rich while the job losers get unemployment insurance.

This is why three people own more wealth than the bottom half of the U.S. population, This is why the six richest people in the world own more wealth than the bottom half of humanity. This is why 38+ percent of all income in the U.S. goes into the pockets of the 1 percent every year compared to roughly 8 percent as late as 1979. The billionaires have created massive amounts of political corruption and the destruction of United States democracy in the process. Warren understands this.

Leon Cooperman is facing a tax hike if Warren becomes president. Apparently, many billionaires are assuming this is the end of life as they know it.

Warren’s tax agenda has become a lightning rod for criticism by the ultrawealthy, including some, like Cooperman, who identify as political moderates. “What is wrong with billionaires?” Cooperman complained to Politico in a story that appeared last week. “You can become a billionaire by developing products and services that people will pay for.” Warren is not against billionaires who do this. She is against those who have rigged the economy and destroyed U.S. democracy in the process.

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