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The best and the worst of our nations

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  • Robin
    replied
    Originally posted by opaloka View Post
    In the US it was called 'supply side economics' which is not economics, it's a rationalization for allowing a few insiders to loot the nation's wealth.
    Very much so. I'dd also add deregulation to the list of aids those insiders were given (or that they bought) to enable their looting. And now quantatative easing and zero interest rates, even more help in looting that wealth and robbing savers. I'm inclined to trace it further back to Nixon severing the last ties to the gold standard - every fiat currency has failed in the end. (Starting with the denarius - 100% silver in the first century AD and gradually devalued to around 0.02% silver and regarded as completely worthless as an exchange medium by the time of the fall of Rome.) I still plan to buy gold or silver with any money I can get my hands on, "Money in the bank" just ain't what it used to be...

    But I love the irony that Thatcher and Reagan turned out to be far more dangerous and effective enemies of capitalism than Karl Marx ever was.

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  • opaloka
    replied
    If you measure by the one statistic, the share of wealth held by the fewest people, it began around 1980 with Reagan and Thatcher and their tax policies, along with cuts to the welfare state. In the US it was called 'supply side economics' which is not economics, it's a rationalization for allowing a few insiders to loot the nation's wealth. Taxes and fees have actually gone up for the middle classes while opportunity and access to capital has gone down.

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  • dreeness
    replied
    Originally posted by Robin View Post
    Over that time there has been a massive distribution of wealth upwards and we're all essentially scrabbling around at the bottom of the heap fighting for scraps. When they talk about the gap between the rich and poor growing, most people think of themselves as "in the middle" and are encouraged to despise the workshy scroungers at the bottom, feel superior and lucky it's not them and vote Republican - or Conservative here. But, in reality, it's the gap between the obscenely rich and everyone else that's been growing. They call it the 1% but it's more like 1% of 1%. There was a theatre company here in Scotland who called themselves 7:84, a reference to a statistic that 7% of the UK population owned 84% of the wealth. That statistic was from 1966. It's hard to imagine what the figures would be now but I'm sure 1:99 wouldn't be close.

    Something approximately along the same lines, from Jodi Dean's blog:


    What will we see in 20 years (or earlier)? The amplification of the worst trends already present in our society: the super-rich sheltered in their gates communities and high-rises, defended by the military (inclusive of a militarized police) and their own private security forces. Private education would continue to educate their children. Private health care would ensure their health and longevity.
    What about the rest of us? We will be free. Free to fight among ourselves--completely armed--for the scraps that remain. We will compete for scholarships--ostensibly proving the continuation of merit and opportunity. We will compete for grants for art, design, and various other sorts of contracts. We will work ever harder for ever less as public schools, roads, hospitals, and infrastructure declines. And when we resist, when we organize--the defense budget Ryan has secured will fund the drone warfare and surveillance used against us. Private prisons will provide housing.



    Except, I doubt that such a state of affairs could be sustained for 20 years, things can only get increasingly frantic as there is more and more demand (and less and less supply) for petroleum and everything that depends on it.

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  • Heresiologist
    replied
    Originally posted by zlogdan View Post
    Heresiologist, here is one of the Canadian treasures IMnHO
    http://www.brainwashed.com/godspeed/music.html

    Godspeed you! black emperor

    ( I have always wanted to listen to them more, and it seems they allow free downloads of lots of their songs ).
    Agreed!

    Leave a comment:


  • zlogdan
    replied
    Heresiologist, here is one of the Canadian treasures IMnHO
    http://www.brainwashed.com/godspeed/music.html

    Godspeed you! black emperor

    ( I have always wanted to listen to them more, and it seems they allow free downloads of lots of their songs ).

    Leave a comment:


  • Robin
    replied
    Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
    All those Depression, Post-War, turbulent 60s era social programs that are getting rolled back, these were won solely at the voting booth?
    I've always felt that fear - particularly fear of what seemed at the time to be a real threat of revolution - was the driving force behind, for example, getting our NHS. In the 30s we had the hunger marches and growth in communism (although the Scots brand of communism had far more to do with a demand for fairness and justice than with any Marxist theory).

    Then they were forced to train those same people how to kill - when the soldiers came back victorious from the war and demanded something better, of course they got it. The process of clawing it back started almost immediately though - it was only 4 years before they started that process by introducing prescription charges.

    We might have grown up and stopped trying to fight a class war but they never did - so we've now had 40 years of gradually losing everything that our grandparents won for us. If it happens slowly enough we don't even notice - or maybe we prefer not to notice so we don't feel forced to do something about it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Robin
    replied
    Originally posted by opaloka View Post
    This was the first thing I found that was relevant:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_...Kingdom#Wealth
    Yeah, I couldn't find any really useful or accurate figures either. The trouble with HMRC figures is they only show what people are being assessed for tax on - most of the wealth of the truly wealthy is either hidden from Revenue and Customs so they don't pay any tax on it, or is in a form that's simply not relevant to HMRC. (The figures don't count personal possessions, for example, which would a bizarre way of asessing net worth - on that basis, I suspect the Queen won't be in the top 1%. HMRC have no interest in actual net worth, of course, that's not their function.) 1% owning 20% sounds bad enough, but it's clearly the tip of the iceberg - just 20% of the little bit that the taxman knows about.

    What seems to particularly annoy people here is the huge amount of money that the system never sees - whether it's held in offshore accounts or just not declared. And, according to IRS figures from 2009, 1,470 individuals earning more than $1,000,000 annually faced a net tax liability of zero or less, so it sounds like the USA's similar. Again, all we can really see is the tip of the iceberg.

    According to the New York times (from 2011), the top 1% of earners in the USA own more than one third of the wealth but, as they point out, that's the people with the highest incomes - many of those with the very highest net worth, don't work or receive any income. (Or, at least, don't admit to it). So they don't show up in the numbers - and that's where a lot of the really big money is. So I suspect IRS stats will be just as misleading as HMRC's when it comes to trying to assess an accurate picture of the real distribution of all wealth.

    Leave a comment:


  • opaloka
    replied
    Originally posted by Robin View Post
    Originally posted by opaloka View Post
    Different policies do make a difference in people's lives.
    There was a theatre company here in Scotland who called themselves 7:84, a reference to a statistic that 7% of the UK population owned 84% of the wealth. That statistic was from 1966. .
    This was the first thing I found that was relevant:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_...Kingdom#Wealth

    Leave a comment:


  • opaloka
    replied
    I'd argue they were won in both arenas at once. They were not won by turning away from the political process. Those victories are being rolled back, at least in the US, by people engaging in the political process and electing people who want to roll them back.

    I think vision is a wonderful thing but you've got to have at least one foot in the practical, which means working with what's there.

    I'm convinced that evolution works, revoluition on the other hand just as often turns things backwards (Napoleon, Cromwell, Stalin) and defeats the purpose.

    Leave a comment:


  • Heresiologist
    replied
    Originally posted by Robin View Post
    Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
    Still... like I said before throwing a vote away every few years is apparently not enough to change anything substantial. Can you vote to change your economic system? Of course not, there is no alternative. Right?
    And as long we insist on getting caught up in the diversion that passes for a democratic process, we're not going to do anything to come up with an alternative, so we might as well give up on the system now and try to come up with something else that is workable - that's where my logic seems to be leading me anyway.
    I think what has happened is that one component of the democratic process has been held up as the entirety and so become something of a mere spectacle or circus (Now with less bread!).

    All those Depression, Post-War, turbulent 60s era social programs that are getting rolled back, these were won solely at the voting booth?
    Last edited by Heresiologist; 08-14-2012, 01:19 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Robin
    replied
    Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
    Still... like I said before throwing a vote away every few years is apparently not enough to change anything substantial. Can you vote to change your economic system? Of course not, there is no alternative. Right?
    And as long we insist on getting caught up in the diversion that passes for a democratic process, we're not going to do anything to come up with an alternative, so we might as well give up on the system now and try to come up with something else that is workable - that's where my logic seems to be leading me anyway.

    Leave a comment:


  • zlogdan
    replied
    Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post

    I used to invert the old "if you didn't vote, you got no right to complain argument" to: "if you voted, you got no right to complain because if your team lost you're just a poor loser and if your team won and they didn't do what you thought you would you're just an idiot."
    If there is something I regret is to have been a huge supporter of PT, Lula's and current president party in the past. With my vote they perpetuated them selves sucking the necks of the poorest by giving them some illusions of better lives.

    I really admire our president Dilma, even though I disagree of many of her opinions, she is a strong leader, and if you asked me, I wish there were more women like her in politics here. Although, she alone cannot do much to change the perspectives. I am starting to enjoy the idea that I live in progressive nation with an emergent economy, still I want to see this in practice.

    Leave a comment:


  • Heresiologist
    replied
    I'm fairly sympathetic to the not voting position.

    I used to invert the old "if you didn't vote, you got no right to complain argument" to: "if you voted, you got no right to complain because if your team lost you're just a poor loser and if your team won and they didn't do what you thought you would you're just an idiot."

    But I think there's some truth to what opaloka mentioned about extremists loving low voter turnouts. Except that I'd put it more bluntly: low voter turnout favours conservatives, at least in North America.

    The major conservative parties in Canada and the US have a long record of ignoble actions that have the end result of limiting voter turnout.

    But yeah, oddly enough it seems that tossing a vote out every few years is not enough. Unless you're a radical conservative interested in moving the Overton Window further right.

    For myself, I've taken to casting some ballots. The voting station is less than 10 minutes away and both my federal and provincial MPs seem alright enough. Sure, party politics is a lodestone around their necks, but both of them seem decently connected to the communities they represent. Besides my federal MP helped my local comic store guy out with some issue and also helped my favourite punky hairdresser girl. That's good enough for me. And at the provincial level, voting for a filipina lesbian who used to drive a city bus is good enough for me as well.

    Still... like I said before throwing a vote away every few years is apparently not enough to change anything substantial. Can you vote to change your economic system? Of course not, there is no alternative. Right?
    Last edited by Heresiologist; 08-13-2012, 12:25 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Robin
    replied
    Originally posted by opaloka View Post
    Different policies do make a difference in people's lives.
    I would agree that there are some differences, but I would also argue that they don't really affect the big picture. I feel they're mainly about keeping the game going - they always make an effort to differentiate between what they used to call the middle and working classes. But the main thrust has still been to squeeze everyone downwards - whether we're earning nothing, 20K or 100K we've all been suffering from a gradual erosion in our living standards since the Reagan/Thatcher years, masked by giving us lots of credit to let us maintain the illusion of a decent lifestyle. But that's ending now - which was always part of the plan. Now we're just starting to pay for it.

    Over that time there has been a massive distribution of wealth upwards and we're all essentially scrabbling around at the bottom of the heap fighting for scraps. When they talk about the gap between the rich and poor growing, most people think of themselves as "in the middle" and are encouraged to despise the workshy scroungers at the bottom, feel superior and lucky it's not them and vote Republican - or Conservative here. But, in reality, it's the gap between the obscenely rich and everyone else that's been growing. They call it the 1% but it's more like 1% of 1%. There was a theatre company here in Scotland who called themselves 7:84, a reference to a statistic that 7% of the UK population owned 84% of the wealth. That statistic was from 1966. It's hard to imagine what the figures would be now but I'm sure 1:99 wouldn't be close.

    I'm not saying the example of the availability, or lack thereof, of medical treatment is unimportant. I'd love to be in a position to get the treatment I need, but can't get. But to those in the tiny elite who control the real money it's completely unimportant - just one of the many tools they use to divide and distract us.

    Leave a comment:


  • opaloka
    replied
    Originally posted by zlogdan View Post
    In Brazil, voting is mandatory. Yet, to vote you need to be in your hometown. If you are not in town, you must go to the voting section and sign a paper telling the almighty government of Brazil you did not vote because you were off home . As I don't live in my hometown, I have not voted in many years, except for a year I happened to be visiting my parents..
    We have 'absentee' voting here if we are out of the country or away. The Republicans have been trying to restrict it except for active military who are more likely to vote for them.

    Leave a comment:

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