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Posts Tagged ‘Great Depression’

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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How corrupt and sick is an economic and political system designed to churn out billionaires at the expense of everybody else? The top three richest Americans (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates) own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of Americans. Is this what an economy is for?

A report from the Institute for Policy Studies has come out with a study on wealth inequality in the United States, which is a function of redistributing income from those who work for a living to the unproductive and idle ultra-rich.

The ultra-rich control both major political parties. So naturally, politicians enact trade policies and legislation that redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent. Republicans, such as the Bush clan, and Democrats such as the Clinton clan, as well as politicians such as Wall Street’s Senator Ron Wyden, and Congressman Paul Ryan have been instrumental in creating financial inequality. Quite naturally, President Trump wants to make income and wealth inequality worse through his proposed tax cuts for the rich. The repercussions of this inequality will likely be enormous. The last time such inequality occurred resulted in the Great Depression.

Key Findings from the study include:

* The three wealthiest people in the United States — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett — now own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 160 million people or 63 million households.
* America’s top 25 billionaires — a group the size of a major league baseball team’s active roster — together hold $1 trillion in wealth. These 25 have as much wealth as 56 percent of the population, a total 178 million people or 70 million households.
* The billionaires who make up the full Forbes 400 list now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the U.S. population, an estimated 80 million households or 204 million people — more people than the populations of Canada and Mexico combined.
* The median American family has a net worth of $80,000, excluding the family car. The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 33 million of these typical American families.
* One in five U.S households, over 19 percent, have zero or negative net worth. “Underwater households” make up an even higher share of households of color. Over 30 percent of black households and 27 percent of Latino households have zero or negative net worth to fall back on.

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Somebody suggested on Facebook that the US is out of economic danger thanks to President Obama, and that he inherited a mess, and has since cleaned it up, and therefore we should continue with a third Obama term by voting for Hillary “Wall Street” Clinton. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are in more danger now than then.

There’s a worse mess than last time heading our way. Obama did as much as President GW Bush about reining in the housing market bubble. His economic policies were deliberately intended to resurrect the housing bubble.

True, on the surface, and only on the surface, as a nation we appear to be in better shape now than in 2009, but in reality, Obama’s policies have led to a looming disaster, and the seeds were harvested and sowed on Obama’s watch. We’re heading for the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. In other words, he is going to leave us with a worse mess than the one he inherited.

It’s just beginning. As of last Fall, according to Investor Daily, the US manufacturing sector was as bad off as during June 2009. That’s because millions of jobs have been exported on Obama’s watch, which has redistributed trillions of dollars from the 99 to the 1 percent, and accounted for record corporate profits, unprecedented housing and stock market bubbles, increasing poverty, declining wages and benefits for the 99 percent, and a record 48 million people on food stamps in the seventh year of an anemic economic expansion.

The rich have gone from getting 17 percent of all income produced in the USA to 30+ percent nowadays due to those bubbles and jobs exported.

Obama continuously pushed for more and more international income redistribution treaties, falsely marketing them as trade agreements, to continue the same dead end path for the 99 percent. This included the South Korea Free Trade Agreement, and the looming knockout blow to the middle class known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Clinton claims she wants to continue Obama’s disastrous policies.

I’m part of the 99 percent. Why would I vote against my interests by voting for Clinton since she wants to continue Obama’s policies? I worked for Obama in 2008 on the telephone and door-to-door, and I gave money to his campaign. He campaigned on hope and change. There was no change in US policies.

He killed all hope that he would be different from George W Bush two years after taking office. Here’s a couple of important statistics to bear in mind for those of you who are thinking of voting for Clinton in the remaining Democratic primaries.

The US created more jobs and with rising real wages under President Jimmy Carter than under Obama, and Carter did this with a gross domestic product 40 percent the size of today, with a population 60 percent of today, and during two official recessions that occurred during his watch. By today’s standard, Jimmy Carter was a great president. I believe he was. Hillary will simply continue Wall Street’s policies of redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent.

A vote for Hillary is a vote for continuing corporate America’s rape and pillage of the 99 percent. That means she is going to vote for the Trans Pacific Partnership, which she has called the gold standard of trade agreements. The TPP has been called “NAFTA on steroids,” and will export millions of US jobs, and redistribute trillions of dollars of income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent. The stock markets will go up as the rest of us are bled financially dry.

Of course, Hillary will be for transgender bathrooms, pro-choice, for gun control, more testing in public schools, and all other social issues that will distract us from the things that are really important to all Americans; such as good paying jobs, and a better future for our children.

The choice for Democrats and all Americans couldn’t be more clear.

Vote Bernie!

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On Feb 4, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman  joined other trade ministers from throughout the Pacific Rim in signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in New Zealand. Signing is not the same as ratifying. What the signing means is that the negotiations are concluded; the text is done; and that the TPP can now be submitted for a Fast Tracked vote in Congress at almost any time. Because of Fast Track legislation pushed President Obama, Wall Street Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, Wall Street Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, and almost all the Republican Party except a few, such as US Senator Jeff Sessions.

The TPP is the largest international income redistribution treaty ever concocted. It will ship millions of US jobs to China and Vietnam, circumvent US law and the US Constitution, and raise prices for US citizens and citizens throughout the area of the Pacific on such things as medicines. The difference between the old higher US wages and the new lower wages, and the difference between the old lower prices and the new higher prices, will go straight into the pockets of the rich via higher corporate profits, rising share prices, and soaring dividends. The TPP will also drive millions of immigrants from Latin America to the USA illegally because their jobs will be shipped to Vietnam and China too, and they won’t have anyplace else to go.

Currently, the 1 percent steal about 37 percent of all the income produced yearly in the USA, up from 8 percent in 1980. Wyden, Obama, Clinton and almost the entire Republican Party intend to redistribute even more to the 1 percent with the TPP. And here we are facing the unfolding storm of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. I’ve been watching it unfold since last summer. It’s picking up steam, and officially should hit somewhere between September 2016 and June 2017. The entire US manufacturing sector has been in recession, for example, since November 2015.

It’s critical that Congress is hearing strong constituent opposition to the TPP right now. Please write your Members of Congress and urge them to come out publicly against the TPP.

For the better part of a decade, we have told our representatives we want a “Fair Deal or No Deal” on Trans-Pacific trade. Now that the text is finalized and changes are all-but-impossible, it’s clear that — while a handful of well-connected corporations got a more-than-fair deal for themselves — for everyone else, the TPP would be a disaster for the economy, the environment and public health.

The TPP Is Bad for Jobs & Wages
As you would expect from a deal negotiated with hundreds of corporate advisors, while the public and the press were shut out, if enacted, the TPP would offshore good-paying American jobs, lower wages and increase inequality by forcing Americans into competition with highly-exploited workers abroad paid less than 65 cents an hour.

The TPP’s much-touted new labor standards are so abysmally weak that countries could literally set their minimum wage at $1/day and their maximum hours of work at 24/day and still be in compliance. The pact simply does not do enough to protect jobs at home or human rights abroad. Instead, it would only accelerate the global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions.

On top of that, the TPP is so poorly negotiated that it contains a massive backdoor for products that are assembled mostly from parts made in third-party countries such as China, with no TPP obligations whatsoever, to enter the US duty free.

The TPP will also force China to manipulate its currency by at least 15 percent. This increases the profits of US corporations manufacturing products in China, and exporting them to the USA. This will compel many US companies to export jobs to China since the currency manipulation will increase the profits of these companies from 36 to 140 percent.

Tell Congress we can’t afford a massive new job-killing, wage-suppressing trade deal.

The TPP Is Bad for Food Safety
The TPP would flood the United States with unsafe foods. Going beyond previous trade deals, the TPP includes first-of-its-kind language allowing corporations to challenge both U.S. food inspection protocols and individual food inspection decisions.

Consumer advocates have warned the TPP could have a major chilling effect on efforts to keep out unsafe foods that don’t meet the same standards that U.S. farmers, ranchers and other producers are required to meet.

Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that jeopardizes the safety of the food we feed our families.

The TPP Is Bad for the Environment
The TPP would actually roll back environmental enforcement provisions found in all U.S. trade agreements since the George W. Bush administration, requiring enforcement of only one out of the seven environmental treaties covered by Bush-era trade agreements.

Beyond just failing to mention the term “climate change” in its thousands of pages, the TPP would also provide corporations with new tools for attacking environmental and consumer protections, while simultaneously increasing the export of climate-disrupting fossil fuels.

Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink and the future we leave for our children and grandchildren.

The TPP Is Bad for Access to Medicine
Many of the TPP’s intellectual property provisions would effectively delay the introduction of low-cost generic medications, increasing health care prices and reducing access to medicine both at home and abroad.

The TPP contains requirements that TPP nations allow additional 20-year patents for new uses of drugs already under patent, among other rules that would promote the “evergreening” of patent monopolies. Other TPP provisions may enable pharmaceutical companies to challenge Medicare drug listing decisions, Medicaid reimbursements and constrain future U.S. policy reforms to reduce healthcare costs.

Tell Congress we can’t afford a trade deal that limits access to life-saving generic medications.

The TPP Is Bad for Human Rights
The TPP includes several notorious violators of international human rights, such as Brunei, where LGBT individuals and single mothers can be stoned to death under Sharia law and Malaysia where huge numbers of ethnic minorities are trafficked through the jungle in modern slavery.

Tell Congress we can’t afford to ignore the actions of notorious human rights abusers.

Too many Congress members have hemmed and hawed about the TPP, refusing to state their position. Now that the text has been public for months, and that the agreement has actually been signed, the time for fence-sitting is over. Please contact your Members of Congress now and urge them to oppose the TPP.

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A new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), called Manufacturing Job Loss: Trade, Not Productivity, Is the Culprit, shows how the corporate propaganda machine has continued to lie to us. The not so free press continues to tell us that automation has cost the US jobs, and that’s the big reason why US job growth is so historically slow nowadays, and wages/benefits have gone down for the last thirty years.

As I’ve pointed out in the past, those claims are out and out lies, and the reporters and editors making these claims are liars. Check out the following links from this blog: Five Graphs that Will Make Your Blood Boiland JOBS: The Largest US Export Product.

According to the EPI study, “The United States lost 5 million manufacturing jobs between January 2000 and December 2014. There is a widespread misperception that rapid productivity growth is the primary cause of continuing manufacturing job losses over the past 15 years. Instead, as this report shows, job losses can be traced to growing trade deficits in manufacturing products prior to the Great Recession and then the massive output collapse during the Great Recession.

Specifically, between 2000 and 2007, growing trade deficits in manufactured goods led to the loss of 3.6 million manufacturing jobs in that period. Between 2007 and 2009, the massive collapse in overall U.S. output hit manufacturing particularly hard (real manufacturing output fell 10.3 percent between 2007 and 2009). This collapse was followed by the slowest recovery in domestic manufacturing output in more than 60 years. Reasonably strong GDP growth over the past five years has not been sufficient to counter these trends; only about 900,000 of the 2.3 million manufacturing jobs lost during the Great Recession have been recovered. In addition, resurgence of the U.S. trade deficit in manufactured goods since 2009 has hurt the recovery of manufacturing output and employment.

In short, the collapse in demand during the Great Recession and ensuing glacial recovery was responsible for most or all of the 1.4 million net manufacturing jobs lost between 2007 and 2014. Between 2007 and 2014, productivity growth slowed noticeably, and manufacturing output experienced no net, real growth.”

There are a few things the EPI study doesn’t mention.

  1. The report didn’t mention that US corporations are the biggest, and perhaps only, cause of the US trade deficit. When a US company ships jobs overseas, to say China, and then exports the products created overseas to the US, that adds to the trade deficit. Think of Apple Inc., Microsoft, Dell Computers, Nike, and thousands of other US corporations that produce their products in China, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Mexico, etc…, and then export them into the US. When was the last time you purchased a Chinese smart phone. Along with US businesses, their chinese contractors and subcontractors manufacture them for US corporations.
  2. The EPI report also didn’t mention that international income redistribution scams, politely called international trade agreements, are also the primary, though not the only, conduit through which income is redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent in the USA. When a job is created by a US company abroad, or exported from the US, the difference between the old wages and the new lower wages goes straight into the pockets of the super wealthy via higher corporate profits, roaring dividends and surging share prices.
  3. Largely because of trade agreements, the 1 percent steal 37 percent of all income created in the USA, compared to 8 percent in 1980.
  4. Notice in the graph above that this redistribution of income since 1980 has coincided with the loss of US manufacturing jobs. Duh!
  5. Those jobs supported millions of other jobs as well, such as local restaurant workers, accountants, auto salesmen, not to mention they provided the tax dollars for schools, infrastructure, police, fire, and social security nets. Those jobs don’t pay the taxes they used to because they’re not in the US anymore.
  6. The demand for goods and services by the 99 percent has been curtailed due to the exportation of jobs, so manufacturing employment, as well as employment throughout the US, is the worst since the Great Depression.
  7. The trade deficit hurts social security because when the rich are literally the only beneficiaries of trade scams and they don’t pay into the social security trust fund after the first $118,000 of yearly income. Meanwhile, the people who lost their jobs and whose incomes have been redistributed to the 1 percent are no longer paying into the system.
  8. Wages have dropped, in large part, because so many jobs have been exported overseas. According to the Federal Reserve, nearly 28 million jobs were exported from the US from 1990 to 2010.
  9. International income redistribution scams pave the legal way for jobs to be exported from the US to lesser paying nations, but they also pave the legal route for US corporations to create jobs overseas that they would otherwise have been created in the USA, meaning the job losses created by trade are understated by a hefty margin. When a job is exported to China by a US business, and the product of that job is sold in China, or exported to nations other than the USA, then it’s not statistically visible that this exported job has added to the trade deficit, even though US exports are lower than if the job still remained in the US. Under such circumstances, US exports are lower, which raises the trade deficit, increases income and wealth inequality, decimates our tax bases, and weakens social security, but it pushes the stock markets higher.
  10. The Chinese government requires US companies to partner with Chinese companies, and share technology to boot, in order to sell products in China. Boeing has exported thousands of jobs to China because of this partnership clause that otherwise would have been in the USA.

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Notice in virtually every mention in the so-called news media in reporting or editorials for or against raising the minimum wage, there is never any mention that corporate profits are at historic highs, and that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would be easy just because of that. The reason we don’t hear that is because the primary job of the propaganda machine of the 1 percent is to keep us misinformed, even if it means simply lying to us. The Oregonian news paper, Fox News, MSNBC, and the Wall Street Journal are cases in point.

That’s because raising the minimum wage will cut into those historically high corporate profits, possibly putting downward pressure on share prices and corporate bond ratings. That would eliminate some paper wealth of the 0.01 percent.

However, recent studies show increasing the minimum wage creates jobs and spurs economic activity and growth by enhancing the demand for goods and services. In other words, that paper wealth of the 0.01 percent, as well as those massive record corporate profits, drag the economy down.

After a potential decline in value due to a minimum wage increase, the stock markets would rebound with soaring share prices due to more robust demand for goods and services.

Here’s a point the corporate propaganda machine doesn’t want you to especially consider.

The rise of the current US stock markets are nothing more than a series of bubbles, NASDAQ and the Dow Jones Industrials being examples. If the federal minimum wage were to be enacted those bubbles would deflate safely to some degree, possibly curbing the great impending economic disaster, which is on the horizon. That economic holocaust will make the last recession look like a blessing.

Just like the stock market bubble in the 1920s, just like the housing bubble exploded from 1994-2007, this current bubble will burst, and with it, much of the US and world economy will evaporate with it.

There are worker strikes for higher minimum wages going on across the United States. They began last week, although some have been on-going for a while.

Forbes magazine reported six days ago;

“The Fight for $15 movement is growing as more Americans living on the brink decide to stick together to fight for better pay and an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has been backing the protests.

Workers in industries beyond fast food have joined the fight because they face the same struggles, says Arun Ivatury, campaign strategist with the National Employment Law Project. “These are all some of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, and they’re also some of the lowest-paying, as little as $8 or $9 an hour in terms of the median wage in these occupations. These are struggles these workers are facing across these industries — they’re facing the same struggle for respect and decent schedules with advance notice and enough hours to make a decent living.”

Giving these people a raise might actually stave off or at least delay the impending economic crash that’s headed our way. It would be good economic policy in the long run.

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The Top 1 Percent’s Share of Income from Wealth Has Been Rising for Decades, thanks to legislation supported by Wall Street senator’s Ron Wyden, Mitch McConnell, and Orrin Hatch, as well as President’s Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. We can’t forget Wall Street executives and the Koch brothers are also keen political supporters of the 1 percent massing more and more of the nation’s wealth, which is mostly accrued by the rich via legislation supported by those listed above, among many others.

By the way, wealth is assets, such as stocks, bonds, gold, houses, and other things of value. Income is money derived from either salaries, wages, dividends or capital gains.

Source: Economic Policy Institute

The result of an unequal flow of political power is an unequal flow of income and an unequal flow of wealth. The result of all of that is an economy tittering on the brink of the next great depression, which will be far worse for the 99 percent than the last recession.

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