Published: Tuesday 18 December 2012
Even for New York, this was WEIRD. There were a half dozen Santa Clauses on Second Avenue getting a sermon from a Midwestern preacher who looks like a cross between televangelist Jerry Falwell and a white-haired Elvis.

 

The Santa Crew and their mini-skirted elves were on their way to get drunk (drunker?) with another thousand Santa impersonators at “SantaCon,” an annual gathering of St. Nicks. But they were willing to let the Reverend Billy attempt to save their souls.

Reverend Billy did not object to their plans for lubrication, but to their original Sin: collaborating with the Devil's work known as “Christmas Shopping.”

Was this some kind of joke? Yes, and a brilliant one.

Reverend Billy, pastor of the Church of Stop Shopping, is the Stephen Colbert of American hyper-commercialism. For more than a decade, the Reverend has been bringing Americans the Good News that there is life after Wal-Mart.

“Repent and give up your iPod to the Lord! Steve Jobs is not the iSaviour!” The Santas, cracked up as, one by one, they got the joke.

Like Colbert, the Reverend is never seen out of costume nor out of character. In his reversed collar, bouffant hair-do, white pointy shoes and Elmer Gantry suit, he has, in fact, performed 200 for-real baptisms, as many marriages -- and been arrested 70 times.

In May of this year, while preaching at the opening of the David Koch Theater in New York, the Reverend was seized by four unknown assailants and hustled into a black, unmarked car. (He soon found out these were Koch's hired goons working with NYC police. So, It was ...

Published: Monday 3 December 2012
Fast food workers walked off the job Thursday to strike against poor work conditions.

Fast-food workers walked off the job in New York City Thursday to hold a series of rallies and picket lines in what has been called the largest series of worker actions ever to hit the country’s fast-food industry. Hundreds of workers at dozens of restaurants owned by McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and others went on strike and rallied in a bid for fair pay and union recognition. Organizers with the Fast Food Forward campaign are seeking an increased pay rate of $15 an hour, about double what the minimum-wage workers are making. Workers and their allies demanded a wage that would let them support their families. Democracy Now! co-host Juan González spoke to many of the striking workers for his latest New York Daily News column, "One-day strike by fast-food workers at McDonald’s, Burger King and other restaurants is just the beginning."

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, your piece in the New York Daily News today on this one-day strike by fast-food workers at ...

Published: Tuesday 27 November 2012
The building was a factory operated by Tazreen Fashions, a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which supplies Wal-Mart, Ikea and other major retailers in the United States and Europe

A clothing factory in Bangladesh that has ties to Wal-Mart suffered a massive fire Saturday that left at least 118 factory workers dead and scores injured. Wal-Mart is the largest buyer of garments from Bangladesh, which has a notoriously poor fire-safety record and has long suppressed worker’s attempts to improve their conditions. The building was a factory operated by Tazreen Fashions, a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which supplies Wal-Mart, Ikea and other major retailers in the United States and Europe. The factory made polo shirts, fleece jackets and t-shirts. We speak to Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, which investigates conditions in factories around the world.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring our next guest into this conversation with another story related to Walmart, Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium. And I want to talk a little about what happened in Bangladesh. A clothing factory in Bangladesh that has ties to Walmart suffered a massive fire Saturday that left at least 112 factory workers dead, scores injured. The building was a factory operated by Tazreen Fashions, a subsidiary of the Tuba Group which supplies Walmart, Ikea and other major retailers in the U.S. and Europe. The factory made polo shirts, fleece jackets, t-shirts. Scott Nova is Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium which investigates conditions in factories around the world. Welcome to Democracy ...

Published: Tuesday 27 November 2012
Back in September, YES! covered the efforts of immigrant workers at New York City's Hot and Crusty Bakery to form a union. After a series of twists and turns that tested the workers’ persistence, the shop is now set to open in December with a fully unionized workforce.

 

After 55 days on the picket line, the workers of the Manhattan restaurant and bakery Hot and Crusty celebrated a precedent-making collective bargaining agreement at a rally and press conference Friday, November 16.

In May the workers voted to form a union, the Hot and Crusty Workers Association, after enduring years of wage theft, unsafe conditions, and verbal harassment from managers. Instead of recognizing the union, however, the restaurant’s former owners shut the store down on August 31, prompting nearly two months of protest that the current agreement brings to an end.

The agreement, which the union’s lawyer Eugene Eisner calls “unheard-of for low-wage, foreign-born workers in the restaurant industry,” was officially announced on October 26. It includes wage increases, paid vacation and sick days, grievance and arbitration procedures, and a union hiring hall.

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Published: Monday 26 November 2012
“Nine people, including three Wal-Mart workers, were arrested at a protest in Los Angeles after they blocked traffic.”

A wave of historic protests struck the retail giant Wal-Mart on Black Friday — the busiest shopping day of the year. Workers and their supporters demonstrated at more than 1,000 stores. The Wal-Mart protests were organized in part by OUR Walmart, an organization backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union. Nine people, including three Wal-Mart workers, were arrested at a protest in Los Angeles after they blocked traffic. We broadcast the voices of protesters in Secaucus, New Jersey, and speak to Josh Eidelson, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine.

Published: Friday 23 November 2012
“The nation’s largest private employer Walmart is seeking to block a series of protests and actions critical of its labor conditions at stores nationwide. Late last week, Walmart filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, claiming it’’ unlawfully trying to disrupt its business.”

Wal-Mart workers across the country are planning to stage unprecedented walkouts and protests on Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Wal-Mart has sought to counter the effort by filing an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and, according to critics, threatening workers with retaliation. We’re joined by William Fletcher, a Wal-Mart worker and member of the employee advocacy group OUR Walmart; and Josh Eidelson, a contributing writer for The Nation.

 

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: The nation’s largest private employer Walmart is seeking to block a series of protests and actions critical of its labor conditions at stores nationwide. Late last week, Walmart filed an unfair labor practice charge ...

Published: Wednesday 21 November 2012
“Wal-Mart workers across the country are planning to stage unprecedented walkouts and protests on Friday.”

Wal-Mart workers across the country are planning to stage unprecedented walkouts and protests on Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Wal-Mart has sought to counter the effort by filing an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and, according to critics, threatening workers with retaliation. We're joined by William Fletcher, a Wal-Mart worker and member of the employee advocacy group OUR Walmart; and Josh Eidelson, a contributing writer for The Nation.

Published: Tuesday 2 October 2012
Romney’s ads claim that he will declare China to be a currency manipulator and take retaliatory measures.

 

One of the themes that Governor Romney has been hitting at aggressively in his campaign ads is that he will get tough on China. The ads complain that China is a cheater, most importantly by “manipulating” the value of its currency. This means that China has been deliberately keeping down the value of its currency against the dollar.

A lower value for the yuan, which means a higher valued dollar, makes Chinese goods cheaper for people in the United States. It is the same thing as if China were to subsidize its exports to the United States. On the other side, the over-valuation of the dollar makes our goods more expensive to people in China, meaning that they will buy less of them. It is comparable to putting a tariff on U.S. exports to China.

Romney promises to be the tough guy who will reverse this situation. His ads claim that he will declare China to be a currency manipulator and take retaliatory measures.

President Obama has responded to Romney’s charges by pointing out that Romney personally has profited from dealings with China. His ads point out that Bain Capital, Romney’s former company, was a pioneer in outsourcing jobs to China.

While people will have to decide for themselves what they think of Romney’s business dealings in China, the Obama ad helps to clarify the issues in U.S. negotiations with China. The reality is that there are many U.S. businesses that are profiting enormously ...

Published: Thursday 6 September 2012
“There are exclusive events underway that range from corporate-sponsored parties hosted by the powerful Democratic Governors Association to a Super-O-Rama party hosted by the the three top Democratic super PACs, where the recommended contribution starts at $25,000.”

The celebratory mood in Charlotte was on display Tuesday night as thousands of delegates kicked off the Democratic National Convention and millions watched on TV. But the political party continues beyond what the public sees on prime-time broadcasts or even inside the convention center. There are exclusive events underway that range from corporate-sponsored parties hosted by the powerful Democratic Governors Association to a Super-O-Rama party hosted by the the three top Democratic super PACs, where the recommended contribution starts at $25,000. We’re joined by the Sunlight Foundation’s Liz Bartolomeo, who has been keeping an eye on the hundreds of events reserved for big donors and powerful figures.

Transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We are "Breaking With Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency," our two hours of daily coverage from here in Charlotte, North Carolina, on the second day of the Democratic National Convention. I’m Amy Goodman.

The celebratory mood here in Charlotte ...

Published: Monday 27 August 2012
“The small businesses that drive our economy, we’re informed, can’t possibly afford to pay their help any more than they already do.”

 

With Labor Day fast approaching, what better time to reflect about those Americans who earn the least for their labor? These Americans — workers paid the federal minimum wage — are now taking home just $7.25 an hour.

On paper, minimum wage workers are making exactly what they made in July 2009, the last time the minimum wage bumped up. In reality, minimum wage workers are making less today than they made last year — and the year before that — since inflation has eaten away at their incomes.

And if we go back a few decades, today’s raw deal on the minimum wage gets even rawer. Back in 1968, minimum wage workers took home $1.60 an hour. To make that much today, adjusting for inflation, a minimum wage worker would have to be earning $10.55 an hour.

In effect, minimum wage workers today are taking home almost $7,000 less over the course of a year than minimum-wage workers took home in 1968.

Figures like these don’t particularly discomfort our nation’s most powerful. We live in tough times, their argument goes. The small businesses that drive our economy, we’re informed, can’t possibly afford to pay their help any more than they already do.

But the vast majority of our nation’s minimum wage workers don’t labor for Main Street mom-and-pops. They labor for businesses that no average American would ever call small. Two-thirds of America’s low-wage workers, the National Employment Law Project documented last month, work for companies with over 100 employees on their payrolls.

The 50 largest of these low-wage employers are doing just fine, even with the Great ...

Published: Monday 23 July 2012
“Raising the minimum wage isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also economic common sense.”

 

Economic issues make some people's eyes glaze over, so we'll put this plainly: Today's minimum wage is epic in its injustice and Dickensian in its cruelty. It's a shame that Dickens himself isn't here to write about it.

Oh, and we almost forgot: Keeping it this low isn't very smart, either.

A new report provides a good opportunity to revisit the subject, which leads to an inescapable conclusion: Raising the minimum wage isn't just the right thing to do. It's also economic common sense.

Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller have a new minimum-wage proposal that's worth fighting for. Here's why:

Most low-wage workers work for large corporations, not Mom-and-Pop businesses.

Many people assume that most minimum-wage employees work for small, family-owned businesses. But a new Data Brief from the National Employment Law Project finds that 66 percent of low-wage employees work for companies with more than 100 employees. That includes a handful of very large corporations which collectively employ nearly 8 million low-wage employees.

The largest of those mega-corporations is, unsurprisingly, Wal-Mart, with 1,400,000 employees. The next-largest is Yumi Foods, which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC. After Yumi Foods comes McDonald's.

(And after that, one assumes, comes Alka-Seltzer.)

Also on the list is Staples, Inc., the corporation where Mitt Romney boasts that he "created jobs" before his retroactive resignation from Bain Capital. (Can he retroactively give out some raises, too?)

These employers are "job takers," not "job creators."

Staples, like Wal-Mart ...

Published: Thursday 28 June 2012
“What the American people are angry about is they understand that they did not cause this recession.”

Madam President, the American people are angry.  

They are angry because they are living through the worst recession since the great depression. 

Unemployment is not 8.2%, real unemployment is closer to 15%. 

Young people who are graduating high school and graduating college, they're going out into the world, they want to become independent, they want to work, and there are no jobs. 

There are workers out there 50, 55 years old who intended to work the remainder of their working lives, suddenly they got a pink slip, their self-esteem is destroyed, they're never going to have another job again and now they're worried about their retirement security. 

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Published: Thursday 7 June 2012
“Scott Walker’s win signals less a loss for the unions than a loss for our democracy in this post-Citizens United era, when elections can be bought with the help of a few billionaires.”

 

The failed effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is widely seen as a crisis for the labor movement, and a pivotal moment in the 2012 U.S. presidential-election season. Walker launched a controversial effort to roll back the power of Wisconsin’s public employee unions, and the unions pushed back, aided by strong, grass-roots solidarity from many sectors. This week, the unions lost. Central to Walker’s win was a massive infusion of campaign cash, saturating the Badger state with months of political advertising. His win signals less a loss for the unions than a loss for our democracy in this post-Citizens United era, when elections can be bought with the help of a few billionaires.

In February 2011, the newly elected Walker, a former Milwaukee county executive, rolled out a plan to strip public employees of their collective-bargaining rights, a platform he had not run on.  The backlash was historic. Tens of thousands marched on the Wisconsin Capitol, eventually occupying it. Walker threatened to call out the National Guard. The numbers grew. Despite Walker’s strategy to “divide and conquer” the unions (a phrase he was overheard saying in a recorded conversation with a billionaire donor), the police and firefighters unions, whose bargaining rights he had strategically left intact, came out in support of the occupation. Across the world, the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt was in full swing, with signs in English and Arabic expressing solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.

The demands for workers rights were powerful and sustained. The momentum surged toward a demand to ...

Published: Wednesday 16 May 2012
“A much updated version of slumming has been taking place in Manhattan, where Facebook is arranging its initial public offering.”

The Victorian era gave birth to a very unpleasant custom called slumming. Parties of swells in London and New York would descend on impoverished neighborhoods as a form of entertainment. In addition to breaking up the tedium of their posh lives, the adventure made them feel superior.

A much updated version of slumming has been taking place in Manhattan, where Facebook is arranging its initial public offering. This time, though, it's the super-rich visitor, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is dressed in rags — his trademark T-shirt and hoodie. The Wall Street investors currying his favor are the ones in expensive business suits.

What Zuckerberg's costume says is: "They need me. I don't need them." Like the tuxedoed waiters scurrying about the four-star restaurants that tech tycoons visit in jeans and baseball caps, Wall Street heavies are merely another kind of servant. Of course, most eyes stay dry at images of investment bankers in the top half of the top 1 percent being dissed by a kid in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.

Less appetizing is the con perpetrated on Facebook users. The entire wealth of the enterprise is based on the munchkins' willingness to surrender their privacy and friends' names to Facebook — data to be packaged a thousand ways and sold to the highest bidder. To use the users, Zuckerberg must get them to trust him, hence the after-school sweats.

Elsewhere on Facebook's upper deck, another founder, Eduardo Saverin, has just renounced his American citizenship, a mere 14 years after the Brazil native obtained it. Saverin denies that he became a citizen of Singapore to avoid the American taxes he'd surely pay after the spectacular stock offering. Funny how no one believes him.

From the annals of ingratitude: Under a kidnapping threat, Saverin's wealthy family left Brazil for the safety of Miami.

Eduardo later attended Harvard. There he met ...

Published: Sunday 6 May 2012
The country’s biggest retailer has adroitly used millions of dollars in campaign contributions, charity drives, lobbying campaigns, and its work for popular causes like childhood nutrition and carbon emissions to build support in Congress and the White House.

Wal-Mart is under fire for its role in a growing controversy, where the multinational corporation is accused of paying $24 million in bribes to Mexican officials and covering up the payments. But the corporation is no stranger to scandal. And it’s worked hard to maintain its reputation, the New York Times reports:

The country’s biggest retailer has adroitly used millions of dollars in campaign contributions, charity drives, lobbying campaigns, and its work for popular causes like childhood nutrition and carbon emissions to build support in Congress and the White House.

It also uses these methods to increase its “favorable” ratings, especially with liberals. And as Wal-Mart’s top lobbyist explained to investors in 2010, the company thinks the strategy has worked.

“Across the board, our reputation with elected officials is improved, not only here in the U.S. but around the world,” the lobbyist, Leslie Dach, boasted as he ticked off poll numbers that he said demonstrated the company’s improving public profile. That popularity, he said, “makes it easier for us to stay out of the public limelight when we don’t want to be there.”

These strategies have earned the company beneficial relationships with lawmakers. During the 2010 election cycle, Wal-Mart’s political action committee and employees donated about $1.7 million to federal candidates and last year, spent $7.8 million on lobbying. Spreading the wealth has helped improve its stature with the traditionally hostile Democratic Party:

For years Wal-Mart had reliable allies in the Republican Party, while it struggled to develop support among Democrats. But in recent years it has joined with the Obama administration on a number of its initiatives, including President Obama’s health care plan, ...

Published: Tuesday 1 May 2012
The bottom line has always been THE line for Wal-mart executives, and sinking to the ethical bottom to enhance that line has not only been tolerated, but also legitimized as a proven path to executive promotion and riches.

Wal-mart has long boasted of its "Always Low Prices," but now it has confirmed that it also has "Always low morals."

The bottom line has always been THE line for Wal-mart executives, and sinking to the ethical bottom to enhance that line has not only been tolerated, but also legitimized as a proven path to executive promotion and riches. Squeezing suppliers, crushing competitors, exploiting employees, using enslaved workers in foreign factories and resorting to other brutish tactics to pound out another dollar in profit are central components of Wal-mart's management ethos and business plan.

Now, we can add bribery to the list of accepted practices — so accepted that even getting caught at it doesn't mean you get fired.

Walmart de Mexico is now the largest retailer and employer in that country, an exalted status that it gained the old-fashioned way: by doling out millions of dollars in corporate bribes. With sluggish sales and a tarnished brand in the U.S., the retailing giant has been pushing hard to expand internationally, and in amazingly short time, its Mexican branch became huge, with one out of five Walmart stores presently located there.

All it took, we now learn from an excellent investigative report by The New York Times, was the systematic spreading of muchos, muchos pesos to government officials across the country to gain needed permits quickly, dodge environmental restrictions and generally have the company's path cleared for market domination.

Not only is this wrong, it is seriously criminal — a blatant violation of our Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. And, lest you think the corruption was the work of some lower-level manager gone rogue, the knowledge of this wholesale bribery scheme goes all the way to the top, including the current and one former CEO.

David Tovar, a Wal-mart PR agent, was rushed out as the scandal was ...

Published: Thursday 9 February 2012
“In order to cut corporations down to size, the people must strip corporations of the special artificial legal protections they have created for themselves.”

 

“Corporations are people, my friend.” Mitt Romney at Iowa State Fair

 

Corporations are obviously not people.  But Romney is accurate in the sense that corporations have hijacked most of the rights of people while evading the responsibilities. An important part of the social justice agenda is democratizing corporations.  This means we must radically change the laws so people can be in charge of corporations.  We must strip them of corporate personhood and cut them down to size so democracy can work.  People are taking action so democracy can regulate the size, scope and actions of corporations.

 

One of the most basic roles of society is to protect the people from harm.  The massive size of many international corporations makes democratic control over them nearly impossible.

 

Corporate crime is widespread.  The New York Times, ProPublica and others have revealed Wall Street giants like JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs have been charged with fraud many times only to get off by paying hundreds of millions.  Professors at University of Virginia have documented hundreds of corporations which have been found guilty or pled guilty in federal courts.

 

Corporate abuse is even more widespread.  For example, Corporate Accountability International named six to its Corporate Hall of Shame, including: Koch Industries for spending over $50 million to fund climate change denial; Monsanto for mass producing cancer causing chemicals; Chevron for dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon; Exxon Mobil for being the worst polluter; Blackwater (now Xe) for killing unarmed Iraqi civilians and hiring paramilitaries; and Halliburton, the nation’s leading war profiteer.

 

Making corporations responsible to democracy of the people is challenging considering Wal-Mart, the ...

Published: Wednesday 8 February 2012
“They can make iPhones and anything else right here in America — but they care more about their bottom lines than their country or their workers, and it’s time to call them on it.”

Early last year, during an intimate chat and chew dinner with some Silicon Valley high-tech barons, President Barack Obama posed a question to Steve Jobs, baron of the Apple empire: "What would it take to make iPhones in the United States?"

Good question! To rebuild our middle class, we need to put more people to work building more stuff in America, rather than shipping all that manufacturing off to China. Instead of answering, however, Jobs dodged the question with a blunt retort: "Those jobs aren't coming back."

Well, why not? Why shouldn't American corporations go all-out to help meet the obvious economic needs of the nation that nurtures them? The high-techers don't mention the obvious reasons for their jobs dodge: raw corporate selfishness. Top executives and investors pocket more for themselves by hiring a cheap, easily exploitable offshore workforce. Rather than looking inward, however, they blame America.

First, they wail that American schools are failing to produce the high-skilled workers they need, so they must go abroad. Aside from that being nonsense, these very executives constantly demand that local governments exempt them from paying the taxes necessary to improve schools.

Second, they say that the U.S. lacks an integrated supply chain, which would locate makers of assorted computer parts right next door to assembly plants. But, wait — that's their fault. Apple, Dell and the like have the market clout to entice suppliers to relocate anywhere in America. Indeed, U.S. suppliers say that the reason they've relocated their production units to China is because that's where Apple et al. went.

Finally, industry leaders blame us, their customers! They assert that we insist on getting a new, cheap iGadget every year, no matter where it's made or how workers are treated, so we've forced them to abandon America.

Hogwash. Obama asked the right questions, but why ...

Published: Saturday 17 December 2011
Whether they manage football pageants or Ford Motor Co., these guys remind us how much needs to change, economically and politically, in 2012 and beyond.

You don't have to make millions to rate as an all-star greedster. You do have to be ruthless, self-absorbed, and insensitive to others. Here's my list of the 10 greediest Americans of 2011.

10. Michael T. Duke, Wal-Mart CEO


Duke takes home his millions — $18.7 million in the company's latest fiscal year — by squeezing workers. He ended "premium pay" for the hours Wal-Mart workers have to put in on Sundays, eliminated profit-sharing, sheared health care benefits, and cut staffing levels so low, Retailing Today reports, that customers sometimes can't find shopping carts because the store where they're shopping has no employees available to collect carts from the parking lot.

9. Paul Hoolahan, Sugar Bowl CEO


The Sugar Bowl, one of college football's top four postseason games, enjoys tax-exempt status and regularly touts its contributions to good causes. But Hoolahan's favorite cause may be his own. He took home just under $600,000 in 2009, almost quadruple his $160,500 paycheck for the same job 13 years earlier. Meanwhile, the Sugar Bowl and its three "Bowl Championship Series" partners are contributing to charity only 20 cents from every $10 in revenue, the Arizona Republic ...

Published: Friday 9 December 2011
In a given year, the richest ten percent of the country takes home about one quarter of total income.

Income inequality in the U.S. is currently the highest its been since the 1920swith the 400 richest Americans (who are all billionaires) having as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of Americans combined. And as it turns out, just one wealthy family has managed to amass a fortune equal to that of the combined net worth of the bottom 30 percent of Americans — the Waltons, heirs to the Walmart fortune, as Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, found:

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Published: Friday 2 December 2011
“The largest five U.S. banks now hold $11 trillion in assets.”

Any epoch of capitalism allegedly premised on competition is visible only from the rearview mirror. It is a leftist truism that in the process of competition, capitalism destroys competition. Competition, therefore, is transformed into its opposite: monopoly. Capitalism no longer survives by enlarging competition, but rather through its reduction.

The supreme outcome of the contemporary globalization of monopoly capital has been an amplification of world exploitation, poverty rates, wealth disparities, and food insecurities. Since the mid-1970s the rate of world growth has stalled by nearly 70%.  And one consequence of decelerating rates of growth has been a turn to financialization since about 1980 by giant firms unable to find sufficient high return investment outlets in production. Large corporations gradually began to rely on speculative investments made possible by highly leveraged assets and as a result have fomented financial crises of unfathomable proportions at a time when state systems everywhere are increasingly subject to the vagaries of the “market” and are forced to subsidize the failures of corporate capitalism through taxpayer sponsored “bailouts.”  Leaders at national, regional, and municipal levels have begun to ameliorate the resulting fiscal crises by disinvesting in social services and creating more regressive tax systems, thereby intensifying the effective level of exploitation. Hence, the internationalization of monopoly capital, rather than contributing to the stabilization of global systems, is aggrandizing crises in both the scarcely indistinct private and public sectors.

Inequality, in all its repugnance, has become deeper and more entrenched. Today the richest 2% of adult individuals own more than half of global wealth, with the richest ...

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