Economist Richard Wolff explains the weaknesses of capitalism and the need for Americans to understand the system under which they live and work.
There are many problems associated with capitalism (state capitalism): wage slavery, concentration of wealth and power, undermining of democracy, repression of curiosity and creativity, environmental destruction, the boom and bust cycle (over production), economic depression, promotion of competition over cooperation, isolation of individuals from society, consumerism, escapism, apathy, emotional instability, political corruption (cronyism), suppression of science and technology research due to short term profit motive, personal debt, crime, violence, war, etc.
The strength of capitalism is its ability to produce enormous wealth (surplus), but this is only possible through state capitalism (government control of the economy).
The United States is spending over $200 billion a year on a justice system that locks up more people than any country on earth. We have more prisoners than China. More than Russia. More than anyone. This colossal system is hitting our communities with staggering financial and human costs.
Our prison system is a beast, gobbling resources that should be going to communities. Watch this video to find out why. To get involved and do something, visit http://beyondbars.org.
Hacktivist group members of the Anonymous collective are calling for a global protest against Trapwire, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security deployed electronic surveillance system uncovered in WikiLeaks latest Global Intelligence Files (GIF) series documents.
Information about the protest is being shared by Operation INDECT (OpINDECT International) and there is an #OpINDECT/#TrapWire Facebook Event Page.
It is not the first INDECT protest, but recent news about TrapWire from the Wikileaks leak of private intelligence firm Stratfor's documents has added new fuel to the fire.
According to Trapwire's website, the surveillance system uses data from a network of CCTV systems and numberplate readers to figure out the threat level in huge numbers of locations:
"Trapwire detects, analyzes and alerts on suspicious events as they are collected over periods of time and across multiple locations. Through the systematic capture of these pre-attack indicators, terrorist or criminal surveillance and pre-attack planning operations can be identified"
An in-depth report published by RT.com, states that TrapWire has been deployed "in most major American cities at selected high value targets (HVTs)," as well as in multiple Las Vegas casinos, for the state of Texas, as well as for the Pentagon and other military agencies. It said TrapWire was created by a company called Abraxas, which features a management team largely drawn from the intelligence services and military branches. An Abraxas spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the company's relationship with TrapWire.
In 2008, the United States economy experienced a nearly unprecedented crisis, due to a perfect storm involving banking deregulation, complex derivatives, financial mismanagement, and larger systemic causes, including an inadequate educational system. Three years later, people rose up in protest—an organic national movement called Occupy Wall Street, its members chanting "we are the 99%" and saying that our system was broken, gamed by the wealthy and powerful.
The movement brought an entire nation's frustration with a runaway banking and financial sector, student debt, and unequal educational opportunities to the forefront of public debate. And thoughtful institutions responded, investing time and money to look into the phenomenon. On April 17th and 18th of 2012, the Rockefeller Foundation funded two panel discussions to address these urgent questions. The panels were sponsored by the New School and were held at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC, and the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Moderator John Cassidy of The New Yorker perhaps summed up the issues best when he noted that the 1960s and 1970s had discredited the idea of an all-efficient government, and the 90s and zeros had done a very good job of discrediting the idea of an all-efficient market. "What's to replace both of those ideologies?" Cassidy asked. "That remains to be seen--Occupy Wall Street is obviously a part of the discussion."
Panelists included, among others, Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow; Pulitzer Prize-winning financial journalist David Cay Johnston; world-class international economists Jeffrey Sachs, Raghu Rajan, Carmen Reinhart, and Robin Wells; the Financial Times's Martin Wolf, and Bethany McLean of Vanity Fair.
Both panels grew out of The Occupy Handbook, a compendium of articles, edited by Janet Byrne, featuring leading economists and others on the causes and implications of the Occupy movement. This video features selections from the two panel discussions as well as public remarks by contributors to the Handbook.
In a classic experiment, primatologists trained brown capuchin monkeys to give them pebbles in exchange for cucumbers. Almost overnight, a capuchin economy developed, with hungry monkeys harvesting small stones. But the marketplace was disrupted when the scientists got mischievous: instead of giving every monkey a cucumber in exchange for pebbles, they started giving some monkeys a tasty grape instead. (Monkeys prefer grapes to cucumbers.) After witnessing this injustice, the monkeys earning cucumbers went on strike. Some started throwing their cucumbers at the scientists; the vast majority just stopped collecting pebbles. The capuchin economy ground to a halt. The monkeys were willing to forfeit cheap food simply to register their anger at the arbitrary pay scale.
This labor unrest among monkeys illuminates our innate sense of fairness. It’s not that the primates demanded equality — some capuchins collected many more pebbles than others, and that never created a problem — it’s that they couldn’t stand when the inequality was a result of injustice. Humans act the same way. When the rich do something to deserve their riches, nobody complains; that’s just the meritocracy at work. But when those at the bottom don’t understand the unequal distribution of wealth — when it seems as if the winners are getting rewarded for no reason — they get furious. They doubt the integrity of the system and become more sensitive to perceived inequities. They start camping out in parks. They reject the very premise of the game.
We are the Invisible Army of Defaulters. We are your neighbors. We are your family, your friends. We are millions. We are everywhere. We are going to bring the system to its knees. We can, because we wield the one power that all the armies of the world can never defeat: The power of refusal. This power has destroyed the mightest empires. The same fate awaits the current system of mafia capitalism in America, an economic system driven by Wall Street CEOs who produce nothing, contribute nothing, who have bought our government and reduced it into a criminal enterprise whose main purpose is to support loan-sharking, gambling, extortion, and the slow reduction of American citizens into debt peons. Every dollar we take from a subprime mortgage speculator, every dollar we save from a collection agency is a tiny piece of our own lives and freedom that we can give back to our communities. To be able to take care of our children, our friends, our families is a value that no accountant can ever measure, that no government, loan administrator, or hedge fund manager can ever have the right to take away from us. We are an army of lovers who cannot be defeated. We are laying the groundwork for another world. Strike debt.
Resist. Insist. Stand together. Build. Never give up. #S17.
Narrated by former presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and activist Mario Savio, along others, "Revolution 2012: It's Time to Rise" explores our rigged system, from the military industrial complex to our bought-and-paid-for elections. But the most poignant sound bite may come from a representative of Iraq Veterans Against the War:
"We are resisting an occupation we once risked our lives for. We swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, but we found out the hard way that the greatest enemies of the Constitution are not to be found in the sands of some far-off land, but rather right here at home. When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. It is time we started meeting oppression with resistance. They cannot stop us. Humanity marches on. The utmost manifestation of love and devotion to America is today, as it always has been, resistance of tyranny."
As clips from iconic past speeches prove, we were warned.