(Please see photos towards the bottom of this post to see how the super wealthy are living compared to the rest of us. Also don’t miss the SPECIAL NOTES FOR US DEMOCRATS below and the startling admission by the CEO of the largest carpet manufacturer in the world near the bottom).
What on earth is going on in the U.S. and around the world? Are extreme concentration of wealth, loss of good paying jobs, decimation of the middle class, growing poverty, environmental destruction and increasing fascist activity just “happening” or is there something causing all this?
The facts are staggering. 20 individuals in the U.S. have as much wealth as the poorest half the country (150 million people). 8 men in the world have as much wealth as half the world (3.6 billion people). The top 1% took home 91% of income in a recent four year period in the U.S. Nearly 50% of children in the U.S. live below or near the poverty line. The Guardian recently reported that the ecosystem is collapsing with a rapidly increasing number of species going extinct. 78% of people in America are living paycheck to paycheck (a figure that’s increasing each year). Hate groups and racial incidents are on the rise.
What the hell is going on here?
It turns out that there’s one very bad policy that’s driving a lot of this. Neoliberalism: the most destructive policy you’ve probably never heard of. The good news is that we can turn this thing around. First, though, we need to understand what it is.
Neoliberalism is a corporate-friendly free-market ideology PRACTICED BY BOTH REPUBLICAN & DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL LEADERS (and political leaders around the world). It puts the interests of corporations and the wealthy above those of the rest of us and the planet.
- Neoliberals practice austerity (partnering with corporations to shift wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich by cutting social programs and redistributing the money in the form of tax breaks for the wealthy).
- They champion privatization (starving government entities of resources, pointing to the resulting dysfunction and then swooping in as “saviors” to take the asset for pennies on the dollar).
- They champion regime change wars (which happen to enrich corporate defense contractors).
- They champion deregulation, allowing corporations to have more freedom to pollute, treat their workers how they wish and be as irresponsible as they deem fit in their communities and countries. When restrictions are relaxed, it doesn’t take long for competing firms to feel fearful of falling behind. This leads them to take advantage of relaxed rules which often causes harm to people and the environment.
- They also champion laissez faire trade deals like NAFTA that shipped millions of good paying blue collar jobs with benefits overseas, devastating a huge part of the population. These trade deals benefit corporations, though, because they can get cheap labor. Those corporations don’t care about the human cost. And any congressmen who fail to fail in line behind such trade deals will find themselves penniless at the next election. This leverage is all possible because of Citizens United and other weak sections of campaign finance law. We need to overturn Citizens United, end corporate personhood status and enact campaign finance laws with teeth. And there are definitely ways of doing this
- We can beat neoliberalism. Here’s how:https://clearblueskyoutwest.com/2017/08/16/with-corporations-the-super-rich-firmly-in-control-of-congress-thanks-to-citizens-united-how-on-earth-do-we-turn-things-around-and-prioritize-people-the-planet-here/
- HERE ARE SOME GREAT QUOTES THAT INSPIRE HOPE. We can turn this thing around!https://clearblueskyoutwest.com/2017/08/14/quotes-that-inspire-hope/
Neoliberals in the Republican & Democratic parties champion policies of all types that favor a small class of people and corporations at the top. Neoliberal policies result in extreme wealth inequality (20 people in the U.S. have as much wealth as the 150 million poorest), environmental destruction and a whole lot of other harm.
Essentially what’s going on here is 300,000 big donors (the .1%) are getting their needs served at the expense of the other 300 million of us and the earth. Wealthy donors and corporations buy influence in Congress. That allows them to change policies and systematically tilt the playing field so most of the marbles roll into the pockets of a few. That happens, of course, at the expense of the many (us). If you’ve noticed it’s “getting a little hot in here,” that’s why.
In a recent article in the Guardian entitled “Neoliberalism: The Idea that Swallowed the World”, the International Monetary Fund finally admitted the adverse effects of neoliberalism. When one of the world’s newspapers has a headline about an idea that “swallowed the world” and we have no idea what it is, that’s not good folks. That means we have been blind (due to having our eyes closed). Most of us have missed this policy hidden in plain view. Its results have so many tentacles (economic catastrophes, unnecessary wars, rise of fascism, environmental damage, extreme wealth inequality, etc.) that we were dazzled by the details. We were mesmerized by all those tentacles thinking they were all separate problems with separate solutions and didn’t realize it was one octopus beneath the surface that we were dealing with. Ending this one policy (corporate neoliberalism) will solve countless problems. There’s no shame in admitting we missed this octopus. Most of us did. But now that we know, it’s time to open our eyes and act before it’s too late.
In the U.S., neoliberalism has been practiced by both Republican & Democratic political leaders for more than 20 years. It’s essentially created a rigged poker game where the super wealthy (300,000 people) keep winning (because the politicians they own have shaped policy in a way that totally favors their interests). It’s hard to say what will happen when the other 300,000,000 people at the table realize the game is rigged. It’s the job of neoliberal politicians on both sides of the aisle (who receive all those big campaign donations) to sell rigged policies to the public by claiming the new rules will be beneficial to them.
These neoliberal politicians are also charged with keeping 300,000,000 of us from rebelling. They do that by promising that eventually a lot of that wealth concentrating at the top will trickle down. So far, they’ve been successful. We’re waiting patiently at the table and we keep putting money in the kitty. Not many people have have caught on to the sheer size of the game that’s being run on us. Some people HAVE caught on. Many of them pushed back peacefully. Typically they’re permitted to make some noise (to let off some steam) but not for long. If they keep it up, they are dealt with swiftly and violently to set an example. The message to the rest of the 300,000,000 is “Stay in line.”
Neoliberal corporate-friendly policies have been pursued by Democratic & Republican politicians (and political leaders around the globe) for more than two decades and we are now dealing with the environmental and human devastation resulting from that shortsightedness. As a result of neoliberal policies:
- 50% of children in the U.S. live below or near the poverty line. (Columbia University School of Public Health study here )
- 20 individuals now have as much wealth as the poorest 150 million Americans (half the country per The Nation magazine here ).
- A study by the Atlantic found that 47% of Americans were economically insecure and couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency (Article in the Atlantic: “The Secret Shame of Middle Class America.” here )
- According to a study published recently by CBS News, 78% of workers in America are now living paycheck to paycheck. And each year that percentage is increasing. Article here .
- Per that same CBS article, 70% of Americans have $1,000 or less in savings, and 33% have no savings at all.
- Over a million good jobs have been shipped overseas so highly profitable corporations could get even richer. Click here for more info.
- The environment is clearly being damaged at a rapid pace as the interests of corporations (quarterly profits) are continually put about the interests of people and the planet. . (See images towards the bottom for more info). In addition to climate change and pollution of our air, water and land, there is also alarming news like this: THE GUARDIAN: “Natural World Faces Collapse as Wildlife Population Plummets”
- In the interview at link below, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges describes how corporations feed off people. This will blow your mind.”There are forgotten corners of this country where Americans are trapped in endless cycles of poverty, powerlessness, and despair as a direct result of capitalistic greed. . . “These are areas that have been destroyed for quarterly profit. We’re talking about environmentally destroyed, communities destroyed, human beings destroyed, families destroyed,” Hedges tells Bill Moyers.“It’s the willingness on the part of people who seek personal enrichment to destroy other human beings… And because the mechanisms of governance can no longer control them, there is nothing now within the formal mechanisms of power to stop them from creating essentially a corporate oligarchic state.”See the Bill Moyers interview here
- “[The Citizens United Supreme Court Decision] violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over.” – FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER. Article from “The Intercept” here .
- Neoliberalism is also in favor of regime change wars. Notice how both Republicans and Democrats supported the war in Iraq? We spent more than a trillion dollars for no reason. All it did was enrich corporations in the business of war. Over 5,000 American soldiers died as a result and tens of thousands were wounded and disabled. 500,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the war (160,000 of them being civilians). This radicalized all sorts of family members of the deceased and the result is that we created the conditions for ISIS to form. That’s just one example of a regime change conflict that Democrats and Republicans supported.
Again, neoliberalism doesn’t care about the human cost or damage to peace or the nation. They just care about corporate profits.
- Additionally, since neoliberalism creates such enormous economic distress, it creates a climate that is conducive to the rise of fascism and racism (think about 1930’s Germany and how a strong man swooped in to take advantage of the economic conditions to exploit race, religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity to create divisions).
To put it more simply, Republican and Democratic leaders who have both been practicing neoliberalism created the conditions for the rise of Trump, those Nazis you saw marching in the streets and the armed militias you saw escorting them. As we wag our finger accusingly at Trump and push against him and his policies (as we definitely should with all of our heart and soul — he’s awful and dangerous), we should also remember that, by supporting neoliberal politicians during the last 20 years, we helped drive blue collar voters into the arms of Trump and hand him the White House. And our neoliberal policies have created economic distress that historically gives rise to racism and fascism. We better do more than put out the fires when they appear. If we are really against racism and fascism, we need to stop neoliberalism because the economic conditions it creates are exactly what is giving rise to the xenophobic tendencies we are struggling with today. It’s good to decry fire. It’s even better to eliminate the things that give rise to it.
This 2 minute clip of a 1947 War Department film lays it out pretty clearly how economic insecurity causes racism, xenophobia and fascism. Watch this! (And while you’re watching it, please keep in mind the amount of economic insecurity that has been created by Democratic and Republican political leaders who champion neoliberal policies).
So, the next time you hear a politician say that the practical reasonable thing to do is to stay the course and make incremental change, consider that what they are really doing is placating you so you stay at the poker table and don’t cause any trouble. When they tell you that those looking for big changes are being “pie in the sky unreasonable”, what they really mean is that they themselves can’t make any changes because their own corporate donors would abandoned them and they would lose their seat in congress.
Here are some other great articles about Neoliberalism from around the world
A NOTE FOR ALL OF US DEMOCRATS: As a fellow democrat, I know it’s tempting to think “But not us, we fight all those things!” Alas, we’re in deep too. If you research the Powell Memorandum that was issued in 1970 (facilitated by the ultra conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce), you’ll see that this is when the corporatization of democrats began. And it’s been in full swing ever since. The corporate money has been flowing into democratic coffers big time and our political leaders have been acting accordingly:
- NAFTA was passed under President Clinton with the help of both Democrats and Republicans. It shipped millions of good paying jobs overseas. Corporations were thrilled. Remember, they don’t care about the human carnage or damage to the country.
- THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP. Yeah. We democrats are responsible for that. We spent 20 years alienating our base with the above NAFTA policy (people eventually stop voting for you when you take their jobs). Blue collar voters grew tired of hearing promises from Democratic leaders while they kept seeing them cavorting with hedge fund managers and movie stars in the Hamptons. Here’s an article from the Guardian on neoliberalism and the election by award-winning journalist Naomi Klein. And here’s an brief excerpt:
“Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present.”
Everyone has problems, of course. We’re all human beings. But when people who are well off have problems, the bumps are smoothed quite a bit by that insulation of capital. Their train doesn’t go off the rails. When someone who is struggling (whether middle class or poor) have those same human problems, their train can get knocked off the rails. (Remember, the Atlantic found the 47% of the population couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency). So it is particularly callous of the wealthy to push their members of congress to CUT social safety net programs so they can get a nice tax break. That’s essentially redistributing wealth up (a reverse Robin Hood) at a time when 100 million people or more who are members of the poor and middle class are extremely vulnerable. “Thanks for the punch in the gut and the kick to the face.” It’s even more galling for the poor and struggling middle class to hear all those “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” lectures from the rich when 90% of their wealth was inherited.
- Mass incarceration with unconscionable mandatory minimums began under the Clinton administration as well as a result of Clinton’s triangulation strategy. Mass incarceration hit African American families particularly hard. It also gave rise to the movement to privatize prisons. Corporations had a whole new profit center.
- The Glass Steagall Act was eliminated under President Clinton. It had been put in place right after the great depression to keep big banks from getting too big and it worked. Many leading economists agree that the elimination of Glass Steagall set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis where countless Americans lost their homes and their jobs. (Big banks did great though! They got the upside of the new policy and then we bailed them out when the downside came. As described, it’s all about what’s best for corporations in neoliberal doctrine. Human beings take a back seat.
- Democrats (including our 2016 presidential nominee) voted for the catastrophic regime change war in Iraq. Over 5,000 American soldiers were killed, tens of thousands injured or disabled and over $1 trillion wasted for no reason (except the enrichment of corporate defense contractors). That war we democrats helped support also led to the rise of ISIS because 500,000 Iraqis died as a result of the war (160,000 of them were civilians) and this radicalized countless people. Democratic leaders have also backed numerous other regime change wars and conflicts.
- We democrats championed a conservative republican health care package that was developed by Mitt Romney. It left 20 million people uninsured. And we did it because our Democratic Leadership was awash in cash from the insurance industry and pushed back hard against Universal / Single Payer Healthcare (Medicare for all). So Democratic leaders turned to us and said, “Oh, it’s just impossible. We can’t do that.” They followed corporate donor orders well and 20 million people have suffered as a result. After the success of the Sanders campaign, centrist Democrats (including Chuck Shumer) are now beginning to talk about single payer as a possibility. Let’s see we they rally and follow through.
- So-called “welfare reform” was passed under President Clinton. It made life harder for poor people but wealthy donors loved it. When you take money away from needy people, you can shift it up to rich people and corporations in the form of tax breaks. The polite term for that is “upward redistribution from the poor to the rich”. The not so polite term is “rich people stealing from the poor”.
- Did see the big statement about Standing Rock by our Democratic presidential nominee where she stood up for the environment and the rights of native people? Yeah, me neither. It didn’t happen because it would have upset corporate donors.
“Sensible democrats” seem so sensible on the outside. Then you realize what being sensible really means from their perspective. It means they’ll do the easy showy stuff that their corporate donors don’t care about. And that may be important stuff… but they’ll fluff it up to be everything to hide the big glaring things that they’re ignoring. That’s how you end up with 50% of the children in the country living below or near the poverty line. Corporate interests and the interests of the wealthy have consistently taken priority.
Lastly, don’t bash government. There’s a fine line here. A strong government of the people and by the people is the only thing that can stop corporations from ruling this earth (that’s why corporations are always demanding deregulation and smaller government). It’s not government that’s the problem. It’s corporate hijacked government that’s the problem. Corporations have bought our congress. We need to take it back by overturning Citizens United, enacting campaign finance reform with teeth and ending corporate personhood status. (Corporations are people under the law and they shouldn’t be — if they are people, they’re psychopaths).
Even CEO’s know the jig is almost up. Watch what the CEO of Interface Carpets (the largest carpet manufacturer in the world) admits in this 30 second clip (and please don’t miss the photos at the bottom of this post):
We can beat neoliberalism. Here’s how:
HERE ARE SOME GREAT QUOTES THAT INSPIRE HOPE. We can turn this thing around!
Here’s more detailed information on neoliberalism:
Here’s a recent article from the Guardian on neoliberalism:
198 Methods of Nonviolent Resistance (this is amazing)
For a shorter synopsis of the policy of neoliberalism and ways to stop it, please click here: