David A. Love: Capitalism Is Killing Us

The iPhone workers in China are jumping out of buildings on purpose, taking their own lives because they can’t take it anymore. These are the deleterious effects of capitalism in the world’s second largest economy.

Foxconn, the company that makes the ever-popular iPhone, apparently is a fascistic company that treats its employees like dogs. Hours are too long, management is too rigid, and the assembly line too fast. Capitalism is all about making money– and for this company, profits have been made at the expense of labor rights. Foxconn has had twelve worker suicides this year, and they’ve installed safety nets–yes nets–on their buildings to catch those workers who just can’t take it anymore. The company has even increased wages.

But the real eye-opener was the contrived, half-baked, forced pep rally that it held in Shenzen, where 300,000 people work and most of the suicides took place. It’s as if the company is telling its employees, “You’ll be happy or else.” Oh, what a piece of work they are.

Now, anyone can look at China’s rapid economic growth and react with wonderment and awe. They have surpassed Japan, and are outranked only by the U.S.–for now. Plus, they are the largest owner of American debt at the better part of a trillion dollars. China shows what you can do with a little industrial planning, policy and guidance from the government.

But then again, many things are possible when you don’t have those annoyances, those minor nuisances like environmental regulations, workplace safety, worker’s rights, and democratic government. Chinese-style capitalism seems to be a purer form than its U.S. counterpart, and therefore a Republican nirvana, minus the part about government planning. And for now, we wait for a nascent labor movement to kick into gear and transform a country that responds to massive public unrest with military crackdowns.

While Chinese workers jump out of windows, Americans are dying as well. In the U.S., workers die on exploding oil rigs and in deathtrap coalmines because their regulation-hating employers want to maximize profits. And besides, they say, regulations are dumb. Consumers die from unsafe food because food companies want to cut corners. Just like the Great Depression days when people lacked a safety net, the unemployed, foreclosed and student debtor-prisoners of today are turning to suicide at an alarming rate, with an increase of calls to suicide prevention hotlines.

The jobless take their own lives at a rate two to three times higher than the general population. That could be a scary proposition in a nation that sanctions the corporate-sponsored proliferation of firearms. Meanwhile, all of this happens in a country where the chronically unemployed number as many as they ever did, yet the jobless are characterized by conservatives as lazy drug abusers that would rather have a welfare check than go to work. Let them work at McDonald’s, as Glenn Beck would say.

In the face of predatory capitalism, totalitarian and other repressive regimes do not have to justify their oppressive policies to their public, and all dissidents face the barrel of a gun. But in the U.S.–which touts itself as the land of opportunity, yet ranks at the bottom of advanced nations in upward economic mobility–years of corporation-friendly policies have gutted the American middle class. The economy was transformed into a casino with no holds barred, and compulsive gamblers threw away the lives of hardworking Americans.

In the past eight years, black and Latino homeowners lost up to $93 billion and $98 billion respectively, the largest loss of wealth for people of color in this nation’s history. And as 17 percent of Latino borrowers, 11 percent of blacks and 7 percent of whites either have lost their homes or are about to, there is scant distinction between poor and middle class, as we are all po’ folks now. These days, it seems, everyone is having a black experience, save a relatively few lucky souls.

But there is a threat that too many of us have noticed the crisis already. So, the oligarch puppeteers just have to come up with something, anything, in order to obfuscate, change the subject, and hope that not too many people begin to truly understand the contradictions of a “free” and unequal America. Republican-owned media subsidiaries will have you fixated on the four “M”‘s of Muslims, mosques, Mexicans and gay marriage as the source of all your woes.

In order to safeguard their financial interests and retain their wealth, right-wing billionaires become purveyors of ersatz populism, setting up phony-baloney Tea Parties and other front groups because “this right-wing, redneck stuff works for them.”

And as the low-information voters with short attention spans fight over the trivialities and distractions–poor shlubs that they are, devoted to an Islamophobic “news” network whose Saudi co-owner funded the very mosque they repudiate- business lobbyists fight to keep those same folks poor and dumb and make the wealthy even wealthier.

Capitalism is killing us, with the exception of the handful of capitalists who thrive because they successfully pimped the system and bought the corrupt politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike. They own the system now, but it is time for new ownership.

>David A. Love is the Executive Editor of BlackCommentator.com, and a contributor to The Progressive Media Project and theGrio. He is based in Philadelphia, and is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. His blog is davidalove.com.

Read more: Foreclosures, Ground Zero Mosque, Third World America, Economy, Economic Crisis, Suicide, Media, Capitalism, Mosque, Iphone, Islamophobia, Unemployment, Rupert Murdoch, Foxconn, Fox News, Koch Industries, Glenn Beck, Capitalism: A Love Story, Foreclosure, Media News, Republican Party, Tea Party, China, Politics News

Mark Zandi: Boehner Was Wrong, Stimulus ‘Did Exactly What It Was Intended To’ (VIDEO)

Joining the backlash against House Majority leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) economic speech yesterday, Mark Zandi, Moody’s chief economist, said Boehner was “just wrong” to call the $787 billion stimulus spending “a failure.”

If there was no stimulus at all, Zandi said, unemployment would be at around 11.5% rather than 9.5%.

“I think if we had not had the stimulus, estimates put forward by the Congressional Budget Office are absolutely right: we’d have 2.5-3 million fewer jobs than we’d have today,” he said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing this morning.

What needs to change are people’s expectations, he said. “The stimulus did exactly what it was intended to do. It was intended to end the recession, jump-start the economy, and it did that,” said Zandi, who has advised both Obama and John McCain in the past.

As Zandi points out, the government spent “a minor amount” of stimulus money in the first quarter, which jumped to $100 billion in the second quarter and another $100 billion in the third quarter.

“It’s that key change that provides the economic juice…that’s when the recession ended,” Zandi said. “This is why the benefits of stimulus are fading, because we’ve gone from $100 billion in spending to zero.”

In another excerpt from the briefing which you can view below, Zandi said unemployment could reach up to 10 percent by November elections.

“We need 150,000 in monthly payroll gains to stabilize unemployment. We’re running at 100,000 at best, probably south of that at the moment,” he said. “The math, the arithmetic is clear: unemployment is going to rise.”

So when can we expect to see those 8 million lost jobs again? “It’ll probably take 5 years.”

WATCH Zandi’s remarks at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast here:

Read more: Congress Stimulus, Mark Zandi, Unemployment, John Boehner, Mid-Term Elections, President Barack Obama, Congressional Budget Office, Timothy Geithner, Stimulus Package, Barack Obama, Economy, Business News

Leo W. Gerard: Jobless Organize to Remove Republican Royalists From Their Jobs

Glenn Beck made it official on Fox News last week: He’s seeking the office of 21st Century Marie Antoinette.

The queen of France, beheaded during the revolution, attained infamy for insensitivity toward hungry peasants. Glenn Beck, the Fox talk show host, achieved celebrity for his callousness toward unemployed Americans.

Beck leads a pack of royalist Republicans who have spent the summer mocking, vilifying and denigrating the nation’s 14.5 million unemployed workers. It is the moneyed class smacking down the working class in an attempt to disempower and disenfranchise them. Dispirited workers are less likely to vote — which could give Beck and his gang of royalist Republicans control of Congress.

The unemployed, like France’s 18th Century peasants, are fighting back, however. The Union of the Unemployed and Working America are organizing the jobless to vote this fall and to demand help from lawmakers. They’re not out to behead Beck and the royalist Republicans, just dethrone them.

Two-and-a-half years after wanton recklessness by Wall Street banksters crashed the economy, the official unemployment rate remains stuck at 9.5 percent. It rises to 17 percent when statisticians add part-time workers seeking full-time jobs and the jobless who’ve abandoned the search out of hopelessness. With the help of a taxpayer bailout, Wall Street has recovered, and those banksters are taking home multimillion dollar bonuses again. But on Main Street, there still are five unemployed workers for every job vacancy, so no matter how hard the jobless try, there are no openings for 80 percent of them.

Routinely, crowds line up before dawn when job openings are announced. In June, in Longmont, Colo., hundreds queued up to vie for 100 low-paid clerk and stock jobs at a new SmartCo Foods. Hundreds of Louisville residents gathered in the dark on Aug. 9 at the Kentucky Exposition Center to apply for 450 state fair jobs paying $7.25 an hour and lasting a total of 20 days.

In addition to jobs, the people on Main Street are losing their homes and life savings at increasing rates. Bankruptcy filings nationwide reached the highest level in five years between April and June. Banks repossessed 92,858 homes in July, up 6 percent from July 2009. For too many, the situation is so desperate that they’re discussing plans for suicide on an online forum for the jobless.

Glenn Beck and the royalist Republicans don’t care about all that. Here’s Beck ranting about those who lose unemployment benefits at 99 weeks:

Have you heard of the 99ers? These people, some of which I, frankly, I bet you would be ashamed to call them Americans, they think 99 weeks of unemployment benefits are not enough… Two years is plenty of time to have lived off your neighbors’ wallets.

Video of Beck slamming the “99ers” begins at 2 minutes and 33 seconds into this clip:

Beck went on to argue that
the jobless who protested last week on Wall Street were not “regular people,” like him and his friends: “Are they just regular people?… They are socialists and anti-capitalists.”

Then, incongruously, Beck condemned a protester seeking jobs for all unemployed workers with a sign asserting, “A job is a right.”

“No, a job is not a right,” insisted Beck, making it clear that in his world, the unemployed are “un-American” for not landing jobs, but, simultaneously, it’s perfectly moral and fair that the American economy has failed to produce enough jobs for them to fill.

Beck is the TV mouthpiece for the royalist Republicans who champion this view: A job is not a right, and it’s not right to aid the jobless. Republicans, virtually as a block, oppose extending unemployment benefits for the jobless while they support extending tax breaks for the moneyed class — themselves. They opposed legislation to save the jobs of 319,000 public servants, the people who educate our children and protect our lives — teachers, police officers, firefighters. Democrats in Congress paid to preserve those jobs by eliminating $11 billion in tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas — a provision that ultimately could create jobs in the United States.

Like Beck, they’ve announced their loathing for the unemployed. Royalists Sharron Angle, Jon Kyl, Andre Bauer, Tom Corbett and Orrin Hatch have derided the unemployed as lazy, spoiled, stupid drug users.

The jobless, however, are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore. They’re organizing. The Union of the Unemployed and Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, are mobilizing the jobless.

The Union of the Unemployed is launching a “Bite Back” campaign, targeting those in Congress who tried repeatedly to cut off unemployment insurance and other aid to the jobless. “They will never see us coming,” the first Bite Back ad says. “After all, the politicians whose policies destroyed our lives think we’re ‘lazy,’ ‘drug users’ and ‘hobos.’ They are counting on us to be docile as lambs and so depressed we’ll stay in bed on election day.”

Working America, whose members are not in unions but align themselves with the political philosophy of the AFL-CIO, plans to organize hundreds of thousands of the jobless across the nation to vote in workers’ interests. Field organizers will ask the jobless to fill out “Help Wanted” petitions to send to their congressmen and senators asking exactly what they’ve done to create jobs and assist the unemployed.

The jobless removing the royalists from their jobs — nothing could be sweeter, unless this revolution also included dispatching Glenn Beck to his unemployment office.

Read more: Bite Back Campaign, Bankruptcy, Marie Antoinette, Sharron Angle, Main Street, Afl-Cio, Tom Corbett, Joblessness, Jon Kyl, Union of the Unemployed, Banksters, Andre Bauer, Help Wanted Campaign, Unemployment, 99ers, Wall Street, Working America, Fox News, Orrin Hatch, Glenn Beck, Foreclosure, Politics News

Sponges beat seaweed in battle for Florida reefs

MIAMI (Reuters) – Giant barrel sponges that can live for thousands of years have proliferated in the waters around the Florida Keys, the apparent winner in a recent battle for dominance among corals, seaweed and sponges.

BHP says it won’t buy Potash "at any cost"

MELBOURNE/LONDON (Reuters) – BHP Billiton, tried to damp expectations it would sweeten its hostile $39 billion offer for Potash Corp even as the world’s biggest miner showed it had the wherewithal to up the ante.

Goldman Sachs’ Goal: ‘Kill China,’ New Chinese Bestseller Claims

Goldman Sachs & Co., reviled in the U.S. for its role in the financial crisis, is now getting hammered in the world’s No. 2 economy with a sensationalist new book accusing the investment bank of trying to destroy China.

Read more: Currency War, Matt Taibbi, Financial Jouralism, Toyota, Goldman Sachs, Author, Li Delin, Goldman Sachs Books, Chinese Books, Wall Street Books, Chinese, Li Delin Book, Wall Street, Journalism, Goldman Sachs Greed, China, Truth of America's Attack, Books News

U.S. spill panel skewers offshore drilling policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a massive “failure” in oversight for the oil industry and the U.S. government, the co-chairman of the White House oil spill commission said on Wednesday.

Obama to make Oval Office address about Iraq Tuesday

VINEYARD HAVEN, Massachusetts (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will address the American public from the White House Oval Office on Tuesday about the U.S. troop drawdown in Iraq, the White House said.