(This is the detailed version of the story. For the short version, please click here ).
For an even shorter version, please click here .
(Also, if you’re looking for some good news after you read this, click here to see how we have more power than we think and can beat this).
For the last 20 years, Republicans and Democrats in the United States have quietly agreed on something. And their counterparts around the world have done the same. They championed a policy behind the scenes that transformed the world. They did so because those who supported their political campaigns wanted them to. (I’ll explain what the policy is in a moment).
After two decades of implementation, this policy has rocked our world. Most of us thought it was just the forces of nature and chance that were bringing many of the key dramatic changes we’ve witnessed. But it was this policy. It altered almost everything about our way of life.
For wealthy citizens, corporations and political leaders, the resulting changes have been very beneficial. Wealth and income for the richest people in the nation has risen exponentially. Americans’ overall income has increased. The problem is that this prosperity has not been broadly shared. The top 1% of captured 91% of all real income in recent years. And it wasn’t because they were “working real hard”.
So a tiny minority of U.S. citizens are living high on the hog. For the vast majority of us, though, the changes that have come as a result of this policy have brought great economic hardship. The middle class has been hollowed out. Poverty has grown worse. Nearly half of the people in the United States are economically insecure. The Atlantic found that 47% of all Americans couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency if they needed it.
Nearly half of American children are living below or near poverty line. https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/nearly-half-american-children-living-near-poverty-line . Hundreds of millions of people around the globe are truly suffering.
At the same time as most citizens of the country are truly struggling, all that extra income that’s been going mostly to the richest Americans has also brought extraordinary wealth inequality. The concentration of wealth at the top has increased exponentially. Per the Nation, 20 individuals in the U.S. now have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 150 million citizens (half the country).
The top 1/10 of one percent of the population is worth as much as the bottom 90%. Not since the Great Depression has wealth inequality been so acute. This concentration of wealth is a worldwide phenomenon (thanks to the fact that most industrialized nations have also embraced this one destructive policy). The New York Times reports that the world’s 8 richest people (all men) have as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people (half the world). That’s not a typo. 8 individuals.
And it doesn’t stop there. The same policy that has brought all this economic devastation has also been catostrophic for our planet.
Our families, jobs, savings, schools, infrastructure, environment & social programs have all been affected. With all the harm done to our way of life by this one policy during the last two decades, you’d think that it would be a major topic of conversation in our legislative bodies. You’d also expect that citizens around the globe would be fighting tooth and nail to change it.
Remarkably, though, this destructive policy is really not a topic of conversation at all. That’s because hardly anyone even knows that it EXISTS.
It’s called “neoliberalism”. It is NOT a Republican or Democratic thing. It’s practiced by both parties with equal enthusiasm (and it’s also practiced by their counterparts around the world).
If you don’t know what neoliberalism is, DON’T WORRY. Most people don’t. The policy doesn’t get much press for reasons you’ll see in a moment, but this new article in the Guardian has a great overview on neoliberalism and its effects.
Here’s some info on NEOLIBERALISM:
Liberalism used to be mainly associated with FDR new deal policies where people took care of each other by supporting strong social programs.
New liberalism (commonly referred to as “neoliberalism”) maintains the old liberalism’s protections against discrimination and concern for people on that particular front but it leaves citizens highly vulnerable to suffering in a whole new way. Neoliberalism adheres much more to a free market ideology and is more aligned with big business, the wealthy and capital.
Neoliberalism is a corporate-friendly free-market ideology PRACTICED BY BOTH REPUBLICAN & DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL LEADERS. 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 very 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 (link at the bottom will take you to a pretty exciting list that shows you that we have way more power than we think. In fact, we hold most of the cards. More on that in a moment.
Here are some neoliberal policies that were championed by both Democrats and Republicans. Some of them were actually done under democratic administrations. All were great for corporations and the wealthy. But they were unfortunately bad most of the people and the planet:
- 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.
- Mass incarceration with unconscionable mandatory minimums began under the Clinton administration as well as a result of Clinton’s triangulation strategy. Both Republicans and Democrats supported it. 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 with the support of both Democrats and Republicans. 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.
- Republicans & 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 that so many Republicans & 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. Republican & 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 the Democratic health care plan is corporate. The Republican plan is even more corporate.
- So-called “welfare reform” was passed under President Clinton with the support of Republicans and Democrats. 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 Republican and Democratic presidential nominees where they 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.
HERE ARE THE RESULTS
Neoliberal corporate-friendly policies have been pursed 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. Hedges calls these places “sacrifice zones,” and joins Bill Moyers to explore how areas like Camden, New Jersey; Immokalee, Florida; and parts of West Virginia suffer while the corporations that plundered them thrive.“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).
Here are some other great articles about Neoliberalism from around the world
** Republicans and Democrats have BOTH championed these corporate-friendly free market NEOLIBERAL policies that resulted in our jobs being shipped overseas and our environment being polluted. How would you feel, Mr. Politician, if someone did that to YOU? Let’s try to picture it:
You’re struggling, working two jobs that pay very low wages (barely scraping by). Your living conditions are now lousy and the air is full of smog whereas the sky above you was once blue. Your lifestyle used to be so much better. You are worse off than you were 20 years ago. You’re making less money and everything costs more. A real squeeze.
And how positively infuriating is it to realize that your entire way of life (and the way of life of hundreds of millions of people) was turned upside down so a relatively small number of people at the very top could get even richer. So 20 men in America could have as much as 150 million people. So 8 men in the world could have as much as 3.6 billion people. (article continues below this 9 second video clip).
(If you’re looking for some good news after you read the rest of this post, click here to see how we have more power than we think and can beat this).
The more you consider the nazis we are seeing marching in the streets, jobs shipped overseas & our planet being damaged, the more you realize that these are not separate problems. They originate from ONE PROBLEM, one bad policy, NEOLIBERALISM. That one bad policy is what’s driving the moral, economic & environmental conditions we are now experiencing. That devastation is not happening by chance. It is the byproduct of a deliberate corporate-friendly policy that doesn’t take into account human needs.
The good news is that once we understand that ONE UNDERLYING ISSUE, we totally have the power to beat it. We actually have 198 tools to do so nonviolently (tools that have brought down dictators around the world). (This link will leave you feeling empowered!).
198 Methods of Powerful Peaceful Non-violent Resistance
In order to beat this, we have to realize how big the problems are and just how urgent it is that we change course. . . TAKE A LOOK AT SOME IMAGES. (This post continues below).
The wealthiest among us have increased their wealth exponentially.
Corporations are making record profits and paying record low taxes.
Too bad there’s just no money to be able to address child poverty, environmental issues and other byproducts of neoliberalism.
And too bad that we taxpayers have to bear the brunt of the cost of the pollution expenses that corporations have “externalized” (passed on to us). Perhaps their profits appear so high because they have removed that key expense.
In other completely unrelated news, the Wal Mart family (nations largest employer that does not pay a living wage receives $6.2 billion a year in U.S. taxpayer subsidies) has as much money as the poorest 40% of the nation. So at least we have that record concentration of wealth for the Waltons and other members of the .1% going for us. Still no ideas for how to feed poor kids though. It’s a real mystery.
(citation for the Walton stat is below)
Yep. Republicans and Democrats are just stumped about how to fix these huge problems. “Slow and steady and incremental as she goes,’ they caution us. Politics is done properly by writing op eds and voting for the lesser of two evils. If you want to change anything faster than that, you’re just a radical. Pretty exasperating huh?
It’s not hard to see why the Republican & Democratic parties are completely ill equipped to deal with the results of neoliberalism (climate change, the collapse of the ecosystem, food & water shortages, droughts — not to mention all the regime change wars that neoliberal on both sides of the aisle vote for). They can’t deal with the crises because they helped create them. And they owe their donors from here to eternity.
That is why you hear so much about incremental change (which is essentially no change) being “the best we can do” and the most “practical” course of action. Those people who want to do anything other than that are branded “extremists” and “dreamers”.
If you’re looking for some good news after you read the rest of this article, click here to see how we have more power than we think and can beat this).
The champions of neoliberalism are very two-faced. Republican and Democratic politicians will stand up for your right to not be discriminated against at your two low-wage workplaces (the crappy places you’re working because they shipped your old good job overseas). And those politicians will feel good about themselves and pat themselves on the back for being “champions of the people”. They’ll talk about how they’re on the side of working people, especially around election time. They’ll portray themselves as being on the side of Main Street (while their policies show they’re clearly on the side of Wall Street). They’ll talk about how great the stock market is doing and how wonderful that is for the COUNTRY (when actually it’s just a small sliver of the country that is benefitting).
They’ll also have the gaul to DEMAND the votes of the people whose jobs they eliminated. And they’ll do it all while hobnobbing in the Hamptons with their wealthy donors (their real constituents). Yep, they’ll have their cake and eat it too. And they’ll SCOLD average citizens if they don’t vote for them (especially true on the Democratic side recently). “I’m the only one who can turn your life around and protect you,” they tell the voters. Meanwhile, they’ve been selling those voters out and jeopardizing their security for 20 years. It doesn’t get any more two-faced than that.
That is the cancer of neoliberalism that has been plaguing much of the world. And it’s been happening for decades right under our noses here in the U.S. (championed by both Republicans & Democrats), but we didn’t notice because marketing (all those gauzy commercials with the nice music) put such a happy face on it all. We were also dazzled by all the shiny things available and the notion that maybe we could be rich someday. We were told (and are still being told) that if big business and the wealthy had their “burdens” (responsibilities) reduced and were allowed to run free and unfettered, the resulting prosperity for them would trickle down to us. Fewer regulations so they can pollute more (and, of course, the costs related to that pollution are passed onto us in the form of higher healthcare costs.).
Here’s an example of this working in practice: People in my community have seen this up close and personal. Our congressman is a member of the “Freedom Caucus”. He recently said that pollution is caused by God. Now, you might say that doesn’t matter, but his take on things has a real impact. And I don’t think it’s because of God. I think it’s because of money. He receives enormous donations from the Koch brothers each year. He also has received donations from a local factory that is documented to be one of the worst air polluters in the nation. The air in our community is among the worst 20 in the nation for small particulate pollution. We have high incidence of asthma and other breathing issues. Children and elderly people with respiratory problems literally gasp for air on somedays in our community. But our congressman doesn’t say a word about it (despite the fact that it’s been brought up countless times). He is owned by corporations. When pressed, he questions the political motives of the American Lung Association (who did the major national study showing our situation and the situation of communities around the country). He says they might be doing “political science” instead of real science. If you don’t believe me, check out this video and fast forward to 50 seconds in:
The funny thing about our “Freedom Caucus” conservative tea party congressman, is that he is the POSTER CHILD FOR NEOLIBERALISM. Not only does he take big campaign donations from some of the worst air polluters in the nation and ignore the resulting impact on the health of his local constituents, but he also champions huge tax breaks for the wealthiest among us (paid for by reducing services for the most vulnerable). The health care bill he and his colleagues championed would have kicked over 20 million people off of health career in order to give an enormous tax break to the most wealthy familiar in America. So strange that he claims to hate redistribution of wealth because in that example he was championing one of the largest redistributions of wealth upward in the history of the country.
Standard laissez faire neoliberal policy is to lower taxes for the rich and huge corporations and loopholes so that select group can avoid the paying of any taxes at all. (Remember Warren Buffet’s famous remark about his secretary paying higher taxes than he does?). Meanwhile, taxes on the wealthiest citizens are now HALF of what they were in 1950’s. (They used to pay 70% rate. . . back when we had strong public schools, built highways and bridges etc.). And they are now claiming that they need more of a break when everyone else is hurting so much. And our congressman will be right there to vote for it as soon as he has the chance. He talks a good game locally about being for the people. But when push comes to shove, he’s taking his marching orders from a higher power (not God, the Koch brothers).
WE’RE CONTINUALLY TOLD THAT THE RICH NEED TO BE FAVORED SO THE ECONOMY CAN GROW. BUT THAT IS A FLAT OUT LIE.
Look at this. Our growth rate averaged above 2% during the years where people of different incomes all saw their incomes increase. But it was only an average of 1% during the years when all the gains went to the rich. Shared prosperity is literally better for growth when you look at the stats.
In recent years, gains have not been shared equally at all. Amazingly, the top 1% of captured 91% of all real income.
Also consider corporate welfare. Americans who make $50,000 a year pay $4,000 of that per year in subsidies to corporations (as opposed to $6.96 per year for welfare). $4,000/yr for corporations. $7/yr for welfare. Are you sure you’re pissed at the right people??
It’s hard to believe, but most of us are all still falling for the lie of trickle down economics in its new shiny form: Neoliberalism.
Political and corporate leaders tell us we have to let corporations and the rich be even more free of their responsibilities. We believe them and agree. We do so because we’re told it’ll pay off later. It seems bad that we’re letting them get away with paying no taxes in many instances and that we’re letting them pollute our air and spoil the environment. It seems bad that real wages have been flat for decades for us but their wealth has increased exponentially. But still we believe their claims. “Let the market run wild and it will eventually be great for everyone.” And what’s even more astounding is that we aren’t even familiar with neoliberal ideology, that force that has blasted our lives and severely damaged the planet!
It’s certainly no accident that the policy isn’t mentioned. Politicians and their corporate donors do their best to avoid bringing up the subject. And 90% of the world’s press is now owned by 7 (seven) corporations.
A lot of democrats and republicans lament that it’s the education gap that separates the winners from losers. That turns out to be nonsense too. Look how the top 1% are doing. Has nothing to do with being a college grad or not. These people at the top are winning because they have cleverly pulled the levers of power to twist policy so most of the marbles roll into their pockets. Don’t let the guy running the shell game keep distracting you with excuses.
Look what our high inequality is doing to us. Because wealth is concentrated in the hands of such a small number of people, we have lousy upward mobility. Other developed nations are WAY ahead of us in terms of people being able to work their way up because their game is not as rigged as ours and wealth is not as concentrated in the hands of a few.
Austerity (a deliberate upward redistribution of wealth) is also a function of neoliberalism. Huge banks own politicians by paying for their campaigns. And those politicians, at the behest of the huge banks, pull the levers of power in a way that causes regular folks to lose ground and the wealthy and powerful to gain ground. The common theme is that politicians claim the nation is broke (when the truth is that all the wealth is being hoarded by a relatively small percentage of the nation). The banks then demand that their bought off political leaders insist on concessions from the poor. (“Sorry, ma’am. Your pension is gone. You’re out in the street. Sorry disabled grandpa, you know longer qualify for aid. Our society just can’t afford to take care of you anymore. These giant banks are setting our social policies now. They control our politics.”).
***** DON’T DESPAIR THOUGH. There is actually a lot of good news and so many things in our favor that it’s difficult to list them all. If you ever look around at the world and start to feel a little hopeless about our politics & economics, just read the list at this link and I think your optimism will be renewed 🙂
Neoliberalism is downright cruel. And it’s VERY two-faced. It pretends to be the old kind of FDR liberalism. But it is more like its evil twin. Neoliberalism is like a kidnapper who has locked you in a closet for months claiming he’s being kind to you when he tosses you some food and water. “There. That tastes good doesn’t it? (as he thinks to himself how generous he is).”.
Privatization is also an unfortunate part of neoliberalism. Government entities are intentionally starved of funds. Then after the entity is starved, opportunists who are in on the scam swoop in a say “see, government can’t get the job done” and they PRIVATIZE (take) the entity (paying pennies on the dollar). It’s basically stealing. But the thieves are wearing fancy suits and are widely respected by government officials (because they fund their campaigns).
This privatization happens in military related activity. Remember how many billions of dollars Halliburton made off the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan when Halliburton’s former CEO (Dick Cheney) helped get us into those wars? And who could forget Blackwater and all the heinous things that happened as a result of our government paying a corporation to run a paramilitary group. Strangely, the mastermind behind Blackwater’s private army was Erik Prince (brother of Betsy DeVos – the school privatization zealot). It seems that opportunism and causing harm sometimes runs in the family.
Privatization happens with schools and all sorts of federal, state and local entities. When schools are turned over to corporations, the profit motive is inserted (adding a whole knew expense line — profit for the corporation) and thereby costing precious resources. And it does that while almost always never improving quality. In fact, it often reducing quality. Charter school champions are forced to point out anecdotes and exceptions to support the idea of corporatizing schools.
The movement to corporatize schools is largely a failure for kids, parents and communities. The only winners are the corporations that run them. Like many things related to neoliberal policies, human beings are edged out of the equation. They’re just a vehicle that can deliver profit if handled properly. (Healthcare is another obvious example where a community and human good is reduced to a corporate vehicle). Neoliberalism marginalizes human beings.
This corporatization of schools was attempted in my community. In fact, they tried to privatize the entire city school system in one fell swoop (a move unprecedented in the nation). Peaceful marches, lots of activism and hard work by many local grassroots activists, teachers, parents, students & citizens defeated the plan to have a Florida corporation with a shaky track record take over our schools. We later learned that this was attempted partly due to national corporate campaign. So watch out in your town. They’re coming for you next.
It’s also so strange how many conservatives champion charter schools. In general, conservatives usually claim to want local control and don’t want to give up power to a big entity. By handing over their local schools to national corporations, they are losing control of their schools.
We see this odd irony in many conservative positions. Second amendment enthusiasts claim to cherish the right to bear arms in order to protect themselves from tyranny of the government. The truth is that it’s corporate control (not government control) of our lives and institutions is the real tyranny and the government many conservatives claim to despise is the one thing that could provide us with protection from corporatism.
It’s not government that’s the problem. It’s a government hijacked by corporations that is the problem. Your car gets you to and from work, takes you on vacation and provides you with a lot of freedom. If someone steals it, do you denounce the car? No, you work to get it back!
Corporate titans and the super wealthy laugh heartily when they hear regular citizens decrying government and wanting to make it smaller — because those corporate titans know that a strong government of the people and by the people (with campaign finance reform passed and Citizens United overturned) is the only thing that could ever stand in their way. That’s why they pay so many politicians and own so many media companies (7 corporations own 90% of the world’s media). That way they can give government a bad name.
Privatization can happen in unexpected ways. Whether you live in Toledo or Timbuktu, don’t be surprised if your local water company swoops in at some point to buy the city sewer system for pennies on the dollar. Desperate cities (starved of resources) are just happy to have the cash up front for vital services (and are therefore willing to give up a key asset that is a source of income). And the most interesting part is that the private buyer which is purchasing the public asset is often greeted as a savior even though they’re only paying pawn broker prices to the starved public entity.
Privatizing prisons is an especially heinous practice causing corruptions and inhumane conditions across the country. Privatization of prisons began when President Clinton used his strategy of triangulation to get elected and began the mass incarceration effort that hit the African American community particularly hard. Unconscionable mandatory minimum sentences were adopted. In Pennsylvania a judge was caught receiving payoffs from a prison in exchange for handing down much heavier than normal sentences (providing more customers). At this point, 1 out of every 100 citizens in the United States are in jail. A very lucrative business if its in private hands. That’s what makes privatization of prisons so dangerous. The motives of the corporation don’t match the motives of the community. Human beings are slowly edged out of the equation.
Neoliberalism is also aligned with regime change wars. Industrialized nations who pursue neoliberalism spend a fortune on unnecessary wars that bring immense suffering and death and only breed more terrorism and war. We killed 500,000 Iraqis (160,000 of them civilians). That radicalized a lot of terrorists and brought the rise of ISIS (a group that makes Al Qaeda look like a picnic).
Republicans were always pretty pro-war so they fit right into the pro-war doctrine of neoliberalism. The Democratic party started moving in the direction of neoliberalism thanks to the Powell Memorandum — more on that at bottom of this post). This led us to a place where Democratic and Republican political leaders voted for an unnecessary trillion dollar war that killed over 5,000 American soldiers and maimed tens of thousands.
Defense contractors cleverly make sure that major ships, airplanes, missiles and other arms are made from parts that come from states all over the country in republican and democratic districts. That way, when it comes time to vote on increasing the military budget unnecessarily or entering a regime change war, they have all the leverage they need with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress.
NEOLIBERISM CAUSES ENORMOUS SUFFERING & WASTED RESOURCES. And, as you’ll see in a moment, the economic suffering that results from these policies creates the conditions that historically gives rise to fascism. (But don’t despair. If you’re looking for some good news after you finish reading this post, click here to see how we have more power than we think and can beat this).
So if this corporate friendly policy is so awful, why don’t we just push back? Well we can. And we have. And we should. And we will. In all sorts of ways. But we should constantly hone our tactics based on our experience.
So how has the corporate hijacked state reacted in the past when people peacefully protested neoliberal policies?
The PEACEFUL protests have very often been met with A SHOCKINGLY VIOLENT RESPONSE. The does NOT mean we should not protest. It just means that we need to be aware of what we’re dealing with and utilize all 198 forms of nonviolent resistance:
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ Here’s what often happens when you organize and exercise your constitutional rights to peacefully speak up about neoliberal policies . . .
Here are 2 articles to read sometime about the systematic shut down of peaceful protests in the U.S. just in the last 7 years. You want to see how hard the corporate owned state cracks down when people start talking about how corporations and the super wealthy have rigged the game? You want to see how it’s done for real? Check these out sometime (especially the first one from Business Insider written by Naomi Wolf of the Guardian):
“It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: New documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy [in cities across the nation during just a period of a few weeks]. . .was not only coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police.
The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves — was coordinated with the big banks themselves.” Doubt that? Read the article. Thank goodness for the Freedom of Information Act.
[ Think about that. Aiolent crackdown on peaceful protests across the country coordinated by FBI, Homeland Security and the big banks themselves. Quite an example of what’s being discussed in this post overall!!!]
***** BUT THERE IS LOTS OF GOOD NEWS TOO. 🙂
#1 – There are lots of ways to push back peacefully. 198 of them to be exact. And they work. These 198 non-violent methods have brought down oppressive regimes and dictators around the world. DON’T MISS THIS LINK. It will leave you feeling empowered!!!
The big breaking story right now is that the International Monetary Fund has finally admitted neoliberal policies are a serious problem. I guess better late than never, but geez. Kind of the equivalent to announcing today that Donald Trump’s presidency might be a problem :).
The Guardian just ran a fantastic article on neoliberalism and the IMF. It gives a fantastic overview of neoliberalism and its effects. Here’s the link:
Our two main political parties have lots of differences. But they have also BOTH spent the last 2 decades embracing a set of policies that have:
- caused a relatively tiny minority of the population to become incredibly rich
- caused the rest of us to suffer under flat wages (even as our costs have risen dramatically)
- undermined social programs and the safety net
- severely damaged the environment
- created the conditions under which fascism and racism historically thrive (economic insecurity). See all the Nazis in the streets these days? Think that just HAPPENED out of thin air? We need to read our history. Think about the economic security in 1930’s Germany that was exploited by fascists. Of course we decry the racism, nazism and fascism. But shouldn’t we also decry those who KNOWINGLY created the conditions under which the evils of racism, nazism and fascism thrive? (SEE GREAT 2 MINUTE AUDIO CLIP AT BOTTOM OF THIS POST ON THIS TOPIC. IT’LL BLOW YOU AWAY).
We treat these as separate problems, but they’re all the root of that one awful policy of neoliberalism.
Think of it like this: We are out there floating in the water, feeling something nipping at our legs.. and now and then we see a tentacle pop out of the water. Sometimes a tentacle grabs one of our legs and pulls us under. In desperation, we keep going after the tips of the tentacles, thinking we’re being assaulted by a bunch of individual creatures (economic distress, environmental crises, the rise of racism & fascism, the rise of Trump, etc.) . We don’t realize it’s one giant octopus that’s going after us. . . and attacking the parts will never solve our problem. 🙂 And don’t forget, politicians on both side of the aisle have been championing policies that feed that octopus. Their corporate benefactors have allowed them onto the luxury lifeboat so they don’t have anything to lose.
NEOLIBERALISM & RACISM
QUESTION: “You’re saying neoliberalism causes racism? But both major parties say they’re against racism. And democrats especially seem to be very against it. They speak out loudly about it. What gives?”
Yes. Neoliberal champions pride themselves on being against racism. And I’m sure they’re sincere about it. It is obviously vital to fight racism and fascism non-violently wherever it rears its ugly head. We all agree on that.
But it’s also vital to take the additional step of addressing the underlying factors that have proven throughout history to create the conditions that make racism and fascism more likely.
Put another way, it’s great to be against fire. But it’s even better to take the additional step of stopping policies that make fire more likely (especially if they’re your own policies!).
Here’s info on why neoliberal policies (standard operating procedure for the Republican & Democratic Parties for the last 20 years) breed fascism & racism. Check out these two links sometime. In a nutshell, economic insecurity historically breeds fascism and racism. 1930’s Germany is a perfect example.
Look at this 2 minute clip that the US WAR DEPARTMENT put out in 1947. It will blow you away how timely it is. It’s actually pretty well done and fun to watch:
Here’s how Neoliberalism helped lay the groundwork for what we saw in Charlottesville.
We think that events just HAPPEN. We unfortunately don’t realize that the events that are rocking our lives in many cases are the perfectly logical outcome of the policies our political leaders on both sides of the aisle are pursuing. If neoliberal policies are causing so much suffering for most of the population and they are only benefitting corporations and the wealthiest among us, then why would we allow corporations to buy off politicians and pursue those policies?
#1 – We aren’t aware of what’s happening. 90% of the world’s media is now owned by 7 corporations. Whose story do you think they’re going to tell?
#2 – We aren’t aware that we have the power to change it. WE ACTUALLY DO HAVE THE POWER. We’ve had it all along. We just aren’t using it. After all, for every 1 wealthy person promoting neoliberalism, there are 99 of us. And one person = one vote. We should be winning consistently in legislative bodies across the globe. In fact, we should have to make a concerted effort to let the wealthy and corporations have a voice since they are such a tiny minority and run the risk of having their interests ignored.
Check out this two minute clip from the award-winning film “Capitalism: A Love Story”. It outlines a leaked Citibank memo that will blow your mind, show you what the top .1% thinks of us and shows you how we honestly do have the power to turn this thing around — in a big way!:
CHECK THIS AUDIO CLIP OUT. (See youtube window at bottom of this post). The speaker’s name is Matt Christman. And he puts this all in perspective. And he amazingly does so in only 2 minutes. With enthusiasm 🙂
The first group he talks about is the neo nazi far right fascists. He despises nazis and everything they stand for of course. He especially decries the fact that they dehumanize people (making it easier for them to commit violence). And he’s so damn frustrated that we’ve created the conditions that have historically given rise to nazis, fascists and racists.
At the heart of his 2 minute statement is the issue of neoliberalism, the policy that we have been pursuing for 20 years that has created enormous economic insecurity that just happens to be the perfect breeding ground for fascism.
Yes. We did this to ourselves folks. And it’s only going to get worse if we don’t understand what we’ve done and reverse course.
But don’t despair. We can turn this thing around. If you need a little lift after listening to this 2 minute analysis in youtube window at the bottom, just click on these two links. They’ll give you lots and lots of hope.
HERE’S SOME HOPE:
HERE’S EVEN MORE HOPE (We totally have the power to turn this thing around!):
***** OK – HERE’S THE 2 MINUTE AUDIO STATEMENT. It begins with discussion of the motivations of right wing fascists: Know your enemy. Then it hits neoliberalism.
PS – Don’t miss the great photos & the video below!
INEQUALITY IS REAL, IT’S PERSONAL, IT’S EXPENSIVE & IT WAS CREATED.
This video clip is 2 minutes & 30 seconds long and very informative. Narrated by Robert Reich.
After you watch the video, check out this companion website also has some really compelling stats and graphs. More importantly, it lists issues and corresponding solutions very clearly:
See this part first — MYTHS AND SOLUTIONS
See general website here —
QUESTIONS THAT ARE SOMETIMES ASKED REGARDING THE ABOVE ARTICLE:
QUESTION 1: Why do the THE PRESS, PUNDITS & POLITICIANS ignore the neoliberal elephant in the room? Why hasn’t the press reported on this more? Why don’t you read much about neoliberalism? If this is such a big thing, why does hardly anyone know about it?
ANSWER: Well, consider this: 90% of the world’s press is now owned by 7 corporations (that’s not a typo. . . SEVEN).
Therefore, it’s no surprise that 90% of the press doesn’t talk much about neoliberalism. When a tiny percentage of the population is making out like bandits and most of the people on the planet are suffering, you don’t dare talk about the elephant in the room (the fact that the game is being rigged by your bosses). You just take your paycheck, dance around the elephant in the room in your articles, attack those left of the centrist democrats as radicals and stay mum. The trick is to remember that progressives (the actual left as a opposed to the corporate left) ARE going to talk about the rigged game. You have to brand them as fringe left, traitors to the party, a distraction. Or they’ll spoil the party.
(Note: sometimes the far right will steel the language of the progressives and use it as their own. They’re totally uncommitted to the changes they’re promising (and they’ll surround themselves with Wall Street guys once they’re in office), but they know that promising that the people will take priority sounds good and wins votes. That is FAKE populism (as opposed to the genuine populism of Sanders-type candidates). It’s very interesting that both Republicans and Democrats have demonized the word POPULISM (and use Trump as their cautionary tale).
Trump is awful and needs to go ASAP. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because Trump is a dangerous fascist idiot and says people matter and does so insincerely doesn’t mean people don’t matter. Populism is not evil at all. But neoliberal champions in the centrist republican and centrist democratic parties are gleefully denouncing populism. Why? Because they know that the only way the game benefits them is if they’re running it. If you don’t believe me, the next time you’re in New York City and see a hustler on the sidewalk standing at a table running a shell game, ask him if you can run the game for a bit! Ha!
The corporate owned press plays an extra special roll when it comes to public resistance to their policies. When protests pop up against the results of neoliberalism, you don’t cover them honestly. Look at the coverage in 1999 of the WTO (World Trade Organization) meeting in Seattle. Look at the coverage of 2011 Occupy Wall Street Protests. Look at the coverage of the 2016 Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock protests, the incredible rise of the Sanders candidacy and . Look at the coverage of the 2017 Anti-Fascist protests that we are seeing on our TV screens right now.
NEOLIBERAL press and pundits characterize all of those as radical and fringe. Why? Because those are all protests pushing back against neoliberal policies — the policies championed by their bosses (the wealthy and large corporations). The press, pundits and politicians they’re interviewing on TV work for the tiny wealthy minority that has rigged the game. From the perspective of the game riggers, anyone that discusses that and publicizes the rigging needs to be absolutely dragged through the mud. This is why the democratic party started using the term “Alt-Left” (a term Donald Trump later appropriated). They needed to discredit those that threaten to expose that their corporate donors are rigging the game and tilting the playing field so the few get most of the marbles at the expense of the many.
Look at that list of protests above and think about how the protesters have been absolutely skewered and demonized.
Now ask yourself why political leaders on BOTH sides of the aisle were almost completely silent during the Standing Rock protests. Why would they not speak up concerning an overwhelmingly obvious injustice (a written treaty being violated so that an enormous oil company could run a pipeline that LEAKED WITHIN WEEKS OF BEING TURNED ON and jeopardize the water source for millions of Americans (the Missouri River). Why would the supposed representatives of the people be silent about this? It was an eerie silence too wasn’t it?
Why was the New York Times and Washington Post coverage of the Sanders campaign and Occupy Wall Street absurdly negative (or often absent altogether)? Press outlets around the world were covering the emerging story in New York for days before the New York Times and Washington Post would even discuss it. And even when it finally started covering the protest, the Times buried the story for days in the LOCAL section).
Thing about it. What the best weapon the super rich have to discredit the critics who would expose their game rigging? They OWN THE PRESS! They just create a big hoopla about all the “huge” differences between the republicans and democrats (both of which are taking money from many of the same corporations and wealthy titans). Dazzle the public with their differences. Sure there are genuine differences. But play them up as though they are incredibly different. Then pour gasoline on the fire with incredibly combative shows and coverage and divide the country so no one is looking at the rigged game in the background. That’s right, these game riggers may live in posh estates but they are nothing but a bunch of Penn & Tellers running a shell game.
No one who is a actual PART of the lucky group of the wealthiest .1% wants to talk about how the game is being rigged either. Now and then you may feel a tiny pang of guilt that you and your compadres have systematically tilted the playing field so most of the marbles roll into your pockets. But you don’t dwell on it. You just buy a bigger house in the Hamptons and make sure is has a wonderful wine cellar and make sure you have an enormous boat in the harbor. The world and all your cares melts away.
Whether you are a republican or democrat, the next batch of candidates will come up there to your estate to visit you and beg you for cash. Some of their positions will be different, but they all share one thing in common: They are convinced that they need that big money from corporations and the wealthy in order to win elections (despite the fact that such nonsense was recently proven wrong by Sanders who received a remarkable 7 million donations — at an average amount of $27). This is true for both Republicans and Democrats. The only thing that changes is the locale of the exclusive enclave they visit to beg for the cash.
QUESTION 2: Why do even the so-called liberal outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post seem to champion and celebrate “globalism” (neoliberalism) and ignore protests and concerns related to neoliberalism?
ANSWER: Great observation. In fact, recently, the Washington Post called Steve Bannon’s exit from the White House a “victory for globalism”. Bannon leaving is definitely worth celebrating. But globalism / neoliberalism making more gains is definitely NOT worthy of celebration. This is not an isolated occasion. The Washington Post, New York Times and the Democratic National Committee might all be consider part of the “LEFT” but they consistently champion corporate neoliberal policies that have been so destructive to the people of the world and the environment, the same policies that have created the conditions for fascism to rear its ugly head. Again, 90% of the world’s media is owned by 7 corporations.
QUESTION 3: What is the significance of the Powell Memorandum in the process of the Democratic and Republican party’s being taken over by corporate interests:
ANSWER: The two paragraphs below are from a Bill Moyers article on the Powell Memorandum. The memo was written by the chair of a key committee at the U.S. Chambers of Commerce. The memo addressed what the U.S. Chamber (which is ultra-conservative) saw as an emerging threat — they were getting a bad name in the press and political leaders weren’t listening to them. The Powell Memo is largely credited with beginning the process of taking us to the current situation where, if you look at the donor list for most congressmen, you sadly realize they are mostly owned by corporations.
The newly mobilized business groups understood that Democrats and Republicans could play distinct but complementary roles. As the party with a seemingly permanent lock on Congress, Democrats needed to be pried away from their traditional alliance with organized labor. Money was key here: From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, corporate PACs increased their expenditures in congressional races nearly fivefold. Labor PAC spending only rose about half as fast. . . By 1980, unions accounted for less than a quarter of all PAC contributions — down from half six years earlier. The shift was largest among Democrats, who were of course the most reliant on labor money: Nearly half of Senate incumbents’ campaign funds came from labor PACs in the mid-1970s. A decade later, the share was below one-fifth.
By this time, however, business PACs were shifting away from their traditional focus on buttering up (mostly Democratic) incumbents toward a strategy that mixed donations to those in power with support for conservative political challengers. . . By the end of the 1978 campaign, more than 60 percent of corporate contributions had gone to Republicans, both GOP challengers and Republican incumbents fighting off liberal Democrats. A new era of campaign finance was born: Not only were corporate contributions growing ever bigger, Democrats had to work harder for them. More and more, to receive business largesse, they had to do more than hold power; they had to wield it in ways that business liked.
More on the Powell Memorandum here:
If you’re looking for some good news, click here . We have more power than we think and can definitely WIN!).
TO GO TO THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG & SEE MORE POSTS, please click the following link and then scroll down through contents 🙂