Class Warfare Blog

December 15, 2020

Important: Before You Line Up for the Pfizer Vaccine . . .

Filed under: Economics,Reason,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 8:25 am
Tags: , ,

I think it is imperative that you read this article. The hand waving going on in the news media, even scientific publications, is of the kind magicians use: to distract you from what the other hand is doing.

An Internal Medicine Doctor and His Peers Read the Pfizer Vaccine Study and See Red Flags [Updated]

December 11, 2020

It Is As If We Can’t See What Is Right In Front of Our Eyes

The plutocrats running the US have decided that it would be a good thing if much of the school systems in this country were privatized. They claim, without evidence (as they are religious people), that this would make our schools better. The question, of course, is “Will it?”

We don’t have to guess or pray or wonder as the experiment has been done. The primary example is Sweden (or should be). Sweden had a school system that we wished ours was. Here is what happened when Sweden decided to copy the US’s fledgling efforts.

Per Kornhall: The Great Swedish Child Experiment: A Failure

It is clear that the plutocrats who have gotten both the Republicans and Democrats to chase this folly have no idea what the outcome of our experiment will be. They only want a piece of the action which is all of the money spent by our governments in public schools, a rather tidy sum. It is clear that the plutocrats have dominated all of the other areas of our economy in which big bucks are available: the stock markets, resource extractions (oil, coal, natural gas, etc.) and had run out of sources of big pools of money when they spied public education, which had already acquired a big pool of money . . . yum, yum.

So far, our experiment with privately run “charter schools” is that on average they perform no better than our public schools, but which are also rife with racism and . . . corruption. It seems that there is a charter school scandal announced in the news on a daily basis. If these were public schools, such behavior would be a national scandal.

Gosh, why would something so potentially good go so wrong? (Sarcasm alert! Sarcasm alert!) With no qualifications needed to start a school, and no government oversight, and no regulations (those pesky regulations!), those schools should be thriving, right? They are thriving, as pools of corruption. Millions upon millions of dollars have been lost to sketchy real estate deals, flat out theft by charter operators, and graft. But that’s a small price to pay for non-existent performance increases, right? Right?

The plutocrats do not give a rat’s ass about equality, quality schooling, or any of the things Sweden lost in its experiment. What they do care about is their ideology . . . as long as it makes money for them. It is very clear that they do not care about us, or our children, or anything but getting richer. Us becoming disempowered in the process is not a bug, it is a feature. “Us,” in the form of governments, are the authors of regulations confining what the rich can do with their money, so they have no interest in empowering us, quite the contrary.

Please note, if you do not read the post I linked to, when Sweden had its former system, Finland copied it. But when Sweden went “a privatizing,” Finland didn’t follow. The results on international testing are obvious. Finland is at or near the top . . . and Sweden had the greatest drop in scores of any country being tested. So, should we be on the same path that Sweden is on? Only an idiot would say yes . . . and many of those idiots are in our government houses right now. Did I tell you that it is perfectly legal for charter schools to “lobby” (aka bribe) our state and federal governments (and it is not legal for public schools to do likewise)?

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Filed under: Culture,Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:30 am
Tags: , , ,

The numbers don’t lie, at least this time. I ran across the following example, which kind of tells you that the rich are too rich for everyone’s own good. It goes like this:

If you were to deposit $2000 (current value) into a bank vault every day, day after day, year after year, for 2000 years, basically from what is called “the time of Jesus” until now (you’d probably need family help in this), you will have accumulated almost 1.5 billion dollars. Jeff Bezos in substantially less time has accumulated $117 billion.

I know it is sacred ideology in this country that the rich have “earned” their loot. They created the businesses, the jobs, yada, yada, yada. And that might even have been true 75 years ago. But as the wealthy accumulated money, they realized that they were also accumulating potential power . . . and they decided, some of them anyway, to exercise that power. They are now running the entire country. Whatever they want, they get. They have changed the rules of business and politics to favor them. They get the big tax cuts. They get the tax havens (legal!), they get the tax breaks to move a business, etc.

But is this the kind of country we want to live in? A country in which great wealth can be accumulated (most think that is kind of cool) but those with great wealth can then take over the gears of government and shift them any way they want to? A country in which it is looking more and more like a plutocracy, one in which the great masses of people grind away, working to make their masters even richer, while experiencing an ever declining standard of living? Over half of the jobs in the USA are now poorly paying “service” jobs. Is this what you saw in your future? The life expectancy of Americans is dropping! Is this the “things keep getting better” America you expected or expected to leave your children?

If Jeff Bezos wanted to spend down his fortune in just one year, he would have to spend $162,000,000 per hour of every working day in that year. No one person has needs that require the accumulation of such a fortune.

The fatal flaw of capitalism is that it places no limits upon greed.

Will this also be the fatal flaw of the US? That we failed to put limits upon greed and so passed control of the country to a tiny minority of wealthy citizens, who ran it into the ground . . . for a profit?

November 20, 2020

Really? Trump Really “Connected” with Rural Folks?

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 9:36 am
Tags: , , ,

The Guardian and a whole slew of other news agencies are expressing increasing confusion about how President Trump performed so much better than expected on election day.

Here is an excerpt from one article: “But on election day, rural Iowa turned out in force for Trump. He not only beat Joe Biden decisively in a state that opinion polls consistently predicted would be close, but the president significantly increased his vote in counties that put Barack Obama into the White House and which then flipped to Trump.”

Oh, the title of that article? It was “‘He made a connection’: how did Trump manage to boost his support among rural Americans?”

He made a connection? Really?

Iowa turned out for Barack Obama . . . twice. Do you consider Iowa a state free of racial prejudice? What got them to vote for a black man for the first time in any presidential election?

I will repeat. This quite racist country voted for a black man for president, twice, because they were fed up with the status quo. People in rural communities are seeing their way of life being plowed under, to use a farming metaphor.

But Barack Obama was a disappointment. He ran a campaign based upon “hope” and “change” and what did we get? More of the same. The bankers, the Wall Street types, the corporate fat cats, and the rich were still in charge.

Well, if electing a black man didn’t send the message they wanted, they need a bigger message, so . . . Trump!

Is there any mystery that an icon of the old status quo, Joe Biden, lost big in a rural state?

No.

They voted against the old status quo represented by the corporate Democrats and there was no hiding the fact that Joe Biden is a corporate democrat, and the rich will be continued to be served . . . before everyone else.

October 16, 2020

They Will Have to Pry the Money Out of My Cold, Dead Hands

Filed under: Economics,History,Politics,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 1:01 pm
Tags: ,

You may remember when Charlton Heston was president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He is famous for delivering, quite theatrically, the old saw “They will have to pry my gun out of my cold, dead hands.” Basically he was stating that he would defend, even violently, his right to “bear arms.” But physical violence is on the decline and now it has been replaced by economic violence. The rich have acquired more wealth (as a percentage) than they possessed in the previous greatest episodes of U.S. history. The Robber Barons had less, the Gilded Age tycoons had less.

A major book by Walter Scheidel, The Great Leveler, claims that there are but four causes of reversals of this trend: mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues. These are the only thing that have reversed the “normal” trend of wealth accumulation by the wealthy, by the simple expedient of repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich and, well, the rich themselves.

The 20th century, with two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the immense communist revolution created the greatest redistribution of wealth (and power) ever seen. Unfortunately, all of the wealth redistribution that occurred after WW2 has been reversed at this point and the “normal” state of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer has been reinstated.

What is at work here is greed, pure and simple.

Before you start to believe that there is some “invisible hand” at work here, there is not. What is at work here is greed, pure and simple. The dynamics at play here are these: the rich are few and the rest of us are many. This gives the rich a large advantage in organization. The power of the rich’s money is leveraged by buying politicians. I am sure that you have seen the studies that show that the rich get the attention of politicians to a very large degree, despite they being few and the poor get zero attention from politicians despite they being many. Apparently votes do not matter and money does. This is because money buys votes and the system is biased toward the elites. The two party, winner take all, system requires that the rich only need to influence, aka bribe, the two leading candidates for any office. Both current candidates for President, for example, are both acceptable to the rich as they have been vetted and supplied with suitable leashes. (Those of you who think that Mr. Trump’s wealth insulates him from their greed need to examine his tax returns. Mr. Trump only appears to be wealthy. There are lots of people, as Chris Rock says, who are rich, but few who are wealthy. Basically, star athletes and star performers, are rich . . . the people who sign their paychecks are wealthy.

The only way to solve this problem is for the many to tax the few: that is tax the rich so that they do not accumulate distorting amounts of wealth. The problem, of course, is this is a political solution, and they are few and we are many. Of the four actual forces that affect the wealthy the only that is even mildly attractive is “transformative revolutions.” Maybe we can learn from South Africa and do this bloodlessly, with a “forgive them they know not what they have done” attitude. But I suspect they know full well what they are doing, certainly the Koch Brothers did, so this will be a hard sell at best. Maybe lynching the uber-wealthy is the way to go, but that isn’t exactly non-violent.

September 15, 2020

They Say They Are Against Wealth Redistribution

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:40 am
Tags: , , ,

The Fat Cats of America say they are against income redistribution and wealth redistribution but once again, it is only one particular type of that: they are arguing against taxing wealthy people to provide of the rest of us (social safety net, universal health care, etc.). They are not opposed to wealth redistribution when they are doing it, however.

As I have mentioned over and over that the very wealthy in this country have been gaming the system for the past roughly 50 years to redistribute wealth out of your pocket (the many) into theirs (the few). This has been now documented in a new economic study and according to Time magazine (link) the amount of wealth transferred is staggering. Here is an excerpt of that article. (Note that they are talking trillions of dollars, not just billions . . . thousands of billions!)

“This is not some back-of-the-napkin approximation. According to a groundbreaking new working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation, had the more equitable income distributions of the three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974) merely held steady, the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is an amount equal to nearly 12 percent of GDP—enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.

“Price and Edwards calculate that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality had grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. At a recent pace of about $2.5 trillion a year, that number we estimate crossed the $50 trillion mark by early 2020. That’s $50 trillion that would have gone into the paychecks of working Americans had inequality held constant—$50 trillion that would have built a far larger and more prosperous economy—$50 trillion that would have enabled the vast majority of Americans to enter this pandemic far more healthy, resilient, and financially secure.”

They have stolen enough money that had it flowed instead to the rest of us, it would have been “enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.” That’s the bottom 90% of U.S. society were talking about, including you and me.

These are the same people who are against regulation of the markets . . . unless they are doing the manipulating themselves. Against all kinds of other things . . . for other people, but okay for themselves.

Wake up people, your house is being robbed . . . right now. Wake up and stop the robbery. They are stealing your retirement. They are stealing your kid’s futures. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The Time article’s bottom line? “We chose to cut taxes on billionaires and to deregulate the financial industry. We chose to allow CEOs to manipulate share prices through stock buybacks, and to lavishly reward themselves with the proceeds. We chose to permit giant corporations, through mergers and acquisitions, to accumulate the vast monopoly power necessary to dictate both prices charged and wages paid. We chose to erode the minimum wage and the overtime threshold and the bargaining power of labor. For four decades, we chose to elect political leaders who put the material interests of the rich and powerful above those of the American people.”

Actually the governmental representatives they bought did this all for them. We didn’t choose those things. We are only allowed to chose candidates that they have already bought. They did this, the filthy rich did this.

September 11, 2020

Finally We Understand!

Filed under: Culture,Economics — Steve Ruis @ 11:01 am
Tags: ,

September 9, 2020

Trickle Down Economics . . . and What to Do About It

I begin with an interesting quote:

Williams Jennings Bryan said: “There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”

He said this in 1896. Eighteen effing ninety-six!

Trickle down economics was not a new invention during the Reagan presidency, it is the tried and true instrument of the rich to retain and expand their wealth and also, they believe, their status in society.

We are in yet another Gilded Age of wealth accumulation. The filthy rich have bought the courts, the governments, and the news media and now those instruments of our society only bleat what they are told to bleat. And what they bleat is support for the position of the plutocrats, the wealthy elites.

Those elites have sold the idea that how much wealth you have is a measure of your social status, your worth as a person, so much so that religions have cropped up to support just that, e.g. featuring prosperity gospel preachers of the like of Joel Osteen and the perfectly named Creflo Dollar.

If we are to ever have a chance at real democracy, on in which “you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it,” then we need to take action. One thing under our control is to socially ostracize the very wealthy.

Is there any good reason that Jeff Bezos should have $200+ billion dollars of wealth? Could that degree of wealth be accumulated without the rules being bent to allow it? Think about this. If Mr. Bezos were to give you one billion dollars . . . if . . . if you could spend it in one calendar year, do you think you could do it? To do this, you would have to spend an average amount per hour of every eight-hour day, five days a week, fifty weeks in that year. (You’d get two weeks vacation, after all what good is being rich if you don’t get to enjoy it?) Do you know what that amount would be? It is $532,000 per hour! Think about how hard you’d have to work to spend just $532,000! Sure, you could go out and buy a house. So, now you have a house and you need to spend 532,000 more dollars in the next hour, and the next, and the next.

And Mr. Bezos has accumulated over two hundred billion dollars for himself.

Do you think Mr. Bezos thinks this is enough, that from now on he will take whatever he earns and share it with all of the Amazon workers who work so hard under trying conditions? Gratitude is important, right? Plus Mr. Bezos could spend $532,000 per hour of every working day for the next 200 years and not spend all of his accumulated wealth . . . not making one more penny.

Do you think he thinks enough is enough? No?

I do not, either.

Start the shame campaign. Impugn the patriotism of the uber-rich. Impugn their commitment to democracy. Shame them for their Greed. Unleash the Lash of the Mortal Sin of Greed upon their backsides.

Being wealthy is fine. Being filthy rich no longer is. Stop looking up to them, admiring them. Stop thinking of the Mitt Romneys and Donald Trumps of the world as “self-made men” when their fathers gave them millions of dollars of seed money. (I worked almost forty years as a college professor and earned about two million dollars of salary. Donald Trump was given five million dollars to “get started.”)

Repeat after me: Boo! Hiss! Every time one of the uber-rich appears in public, let them know their true social status: as greedy bastards who will grind armies of ordinary people under their heels to make themselves richer than Croesus.

Need Ammunition?
So, Bill Gates is a nice guy, right? Personally I think this is correct. Professionally not so much. Consider all of the lawsuits over shady business practices that Microsoft lost. The Internet Explorer scandals. The European anti-trust prosecutions, in essence, etc.

Jeff Bezos created and owns a large part of Amazon.com and all of its spin-offs. Amazon has been running commercials lately, highlighting employees who think working for Amazon is just swell. Have you seen these?

Have you seen similar commercials for Costco? No? That’s because they don’t exist. All you need to know what working for Costco is like you can see on the badges of its workers. many say “Employee since 1997,” others show 10 and five years served. People don’t stay with an employer unless they are treated . . . and paid . . . fairly. Costco has a reputation of being a good, even a very good employer. People stay with them. (And no, they are not perfect, just good.)

Amazon runs commercials to offset the bad press they have gotten from mal-treated and disgruntled employees. You, know, for canceling the health insurance of part-time employees at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, things like that. The amount of money saved doing that to be put in Jeff Bezo’s pocket wouldn’t make a rounding error in his net worth. That’s how Mr. Bezos thinks wealth is created.

Do your research. Every time you feel yourself slipping into admiration for a very wealthy plutocrat, do some research and find out how they got all of that money. If they appear on a radio show, call in and tell them what you really think. If they appear on a TV show, change channels, so their ratings will go down. If a local news program shows a gushing puff piece for one of these bastards, call in and give them a piece of your mind.

I hope that booking an uber-rich asshole in the future will be about as popular as booking an avowed racist is now. Make ‘em bleed.

September 3, 2020

The Free Market Debate (sic)

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 1:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

I am sure you have heard of this debate before, so I won’t be explaining just what it is. But I do have a question: what in your opinion is the biggest roadblock to having free markets? I am going to step out on a ledge and claim that you immediately thought of government intervention. It is the intervention of governments into free markets that messes them up and prevents them from doing what they do so well.

Am I right?

If I am, I think you now have proof of the manipulation of a public debate.

Think back to any financial crash you want. All the way back to 1929. Maybe the Savings and Loan Debacle. Or the Great Recession of 2008. Or the several times the Stock Market went haywire and we had a mini-crisis lasting just a few days. Were any of those caused by government oversight or government intervention? Any? Hmm, that’s interesting. If government intervention doesn’t cause financial panics or crashes, then what does? Let’s see, in 1929 it was runaway speculation by people playing the market to make easy money. In 2008, a major cause was the selling of bogus “financial instruments,” bundling lousy mortgages together and calling them Triple-A investments. Also, lenders were scheduling iffy housing loans based upon those faulty financial instruments.  There was an element of governmental controls during the S&L crisis as those regulations put many S&Ls into a box.

But, by and large, most of the financial crises have occurred because of market manipulation by market participants, not by government intervention.

For example, it was not long ago that corporations were not allowed to buy their own stock. It was thought that that would lead to stock price manipulation. But in the Clinton administration the business sector offered “campaign donations” to one and all if they would accept the reforms they thought were needed. One of those was to allow corporations to buy their own stock. At the same time regulations were passed to encourage corporations to pay their executives in stock options, rather than cash, to “give them a stake in the company.” You will have noticed that the majority of American corporations took their Trump administration tax cuts and used then to . . . create jobs, modernize their infrastructure, develop new products . . . uh, no, just kidding; they bought stock with the money, often their own stock. By executives deciding to buy their own stock, they drove up the price of their own stock, which made their shareholders happy, and made their salary payment in stock more remunerative for themselves. Do the right thing for their employees and society at large? Not on the agenda.

The “free market debate” isn’t a debate, it is a false dichotomy. The people promoting that this as an actual debate want there to be just two sides: one where the government messes things up, which it rarely does and one in which free markets, without any manipulation work like miracles. Somehow they always seem to leave out the markets as they really are: markets manipulated up the yin-yang by participants in the markets themselves.

Oh, and the days in which government dreamt up regulations on its own are long past. All new regulations are proposed by the industries being regulated themselves and is it any wonder those regulations seem to favor certain things?

August 6, 2020

Foot, Meet Bullet

It is a good thing the modern GOP doesn’t understand or even recognize irony. Because if they did, their Irony Meters would break over this one. Apparently, President Trump has decided that the news media are to be banned from the Republican National Convention.

This comes from a president who was elected largely through billions of dollars of free advertising provided by the news media in the run-up to the 2016 election. the news media were so into being there to see what batshit crazy comments Candidate Trump would make now, that they covered every word he uttered. (MSNBC used a count-down timer on screen to time how long it was until Trump appeared again so you wouldn’t take bathroom breaks away from their channel. Yes, that MSNBC.)

Since people were in a state of “I can’t believe he said that out loud,” they tuned in for hours and both the GOP and the news media made money hand over fist.

So, Mr, Trump’s Brilliant Idea is to ban the news media from the single biggest free media event leading up to a presidential election.

Crack! Shit, there goes another Irony Meter. <sigh>

In the GOP lexicon, the antonym for greed is stupidity, I think.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.