George Monbiot has a very good article on how subsidies to the rich and corporations is a tradition as American “as apple pie and obesity”. It’s hardly “socialist”. Monbiot cites the More Consistent Libertarians at the Cato Institute, reporting that US taxpayers subsidized corporations to the tune of $92 billion in 2006 alone. Obviously now the subsidies are even further off the charts.
Further, according to Monbiot:
“…A new paper by the US Institute for Policy Studies shows that, through a series of cunning tax and accounting loopholes, the US spends $20bn a year subsidising executive pay. By disguising their professional fees as capital gains rather than income, for example, the managers of hedge funds and private equity companies pay lower rates of tax than the people who clean their offices.”
“…Another report, by a group called Good Jobs First, reveals that Wal-Mart has received at least $1bn of public money. Over 90% of its distribution centres and many of its retail outlets have been subsidised by county and local governments. They give the chain free land, they pay for the roads, water and sewerage required to make that land usable, and they grant it property tax breaks and subsidies (called tax increment financing) originally intended to regenerate depressed communities. Sometimes state governments give the firm straight cash as well: in Virginia, for example, Wal-Mart’s distribution centres receive handouts from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.”
Let’s not obfuscate. Socialism is where you give a damn about the working class, folks.
It is the ordinary operation of capitalism to direct social wealth to the rich. The social wealth has to be funneled to the rich not just through the market, but also through the state, as the capitalist state is the necessary thing that ensures that markets operate according to rules that more or less ensure that some things are produced, in addition to facilitating gambling and plundering. We should not be such starry-eyed Hallmark Card idealists (“Ooh! Entrepreneurs are so studly!”) that we forget the nature of an institution, the capitalist market, both theoretically and practically based on greed and constituent of greed and therefore prone to just falling apart due to everyone’s distrust of each others’ B.S. Whether liberal or so conservative that it’s fascist, the capitalist state is what props this junk up, on the overburdened backs of workers.
Here is an article from the New York Times, January 2007, in which the newspaper backed a ridiculously narrow good old boys’ financial policy network, and celebrated the supposed competitive “necessity” of deregulation.
Here is an essential article, October 2008, in which NYTimes elites at least, at last express regrets about blind obedience to the dogma of inequality.
The 2008 article “The Reckoning” dissects the pitiful and disastrous legacy of the great conservative ideologue, Alan Greenspan.
What I think is essential is the point about overly-narrow networks of influence in the US, as on page 3 of the article, where we learn the cruel and stupid way that Brooksley Born was shunned and shamed for trying to save the economy. Americans should understand conservative elites for what they are: bullies all growed up.
One more thing. You’ll never see this in the media, but it needs to be said:
If more Americans disrupted institutions of inequality and helped build constructive American institutions, as Bill Ayers did (no matter how imperfectly), this country would be a lot better off than it is with its patently awful procession of nasty, brutish, and self-congratulatory feudal lords, backed by slavish armies of authoritarian enforcers.
Here is an MRZine interview with Norman Finkelstein.
Uighurs are ordered released into the US. At last, a human in the US judiciary! Let us praise District Judge Ricardo Urbina, a light in the New Dark Ages.
Update: The very next day the patently evil Bush regime convinced one of the Republicans’ right wing retainers in a Federal Appeals Court to stop the release of the innocent Uighars. In prison for life (or at least until the end of Republican rule) for nothing.
I would like to know the name of this Appeals Court asshole. The media has not been publishing it.
The Problem with American Exceptionalism:
19% of Americans in 2000 believed themselves to be in the top richest 1%. Another 21% believed they would be in the top 1% in the next 10 years.
No, it has disastrous decision-making consequences. Gore pointed out that Bush’s tax cuts would only go to the top 1%. Because they were so fantastically clueless, nearly 40% of Americans thought that 1% meant themselves. It certainly did not. Americans have supported tax cuts on the basis of their incapacity to reason realistically, thereby enabling the richest 1% to grab the tax cuts, further inflate the economic, political, and power distance between themselves and all the dumb suckers, and fuck everyone else with their self-interested policies.
But not everybody is frittering away democracy on Powerball fantasies of arriving. Some are choking democracy in actually hoarding all the social wealth. The really rich want to ensure that they individually have control over at least 7.5 million in personal wealth each.
Awesome. This has to be the dumbest country ever. Will somebody teach these people about class? Because their bosses fucking know all about it. Christ almighty.
Data from Zweig, Michael. 2007. More Unequal.