The Capitalists Are Afraid

By Chris Hedges

September 09, 2019

Information Clearing House

Capitalists seek to maximize profits and reduce the cost of labor. This sums up capitalism at its core. It is defined by these immutable objectives. It is not about democracy. It is not, as has been claimed, about wealth creation for the working class. It has nothing to do with freedom. Those capitalists, especially in corporations, who are not able to increase profits and decrease the cost of labor, through layoffs, cutting wages, destroying unions, offshoring, outsourcing or automating jobs, are replaced. Personal ethics are irrelevant. Capitalists are about acquisition and exploitation.

Capitalists go to absurd lengths to lie about capitalism’s true nature. It is why Business Roundtable’s most recent version of its Principles of Corporate Governance, signed by 181 major CEOs—including the heads of Amazon, General Motors and Chevron, all three of which paid no federal income tax in 2018—rivals the doublespeak of the worst totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

If maximizing profit means turning the oceans into dead zones, filling the atmosphere with carbon emissions and toxins that render the climate unfit for humans, pumping chemicals and waste into the soil, water, air and food supply that ensure that cancer is an epidemic, buying off elected officials and judges to serve the exclusive interests of capital and privatizing social services, including health care, transportation, education and public utilities, to gouge the public, that is the price of business. If reducing the cost of labor means forcing workers to remain unorganized and abolishing work, health and safety regulations, if it means moving industry overseas where foreign workers toil like 19th-century serfs, if it means suppressing wages at home to force an impoverished population into debt peonage, that is the price of business.

It is not accidental that the United States now has the worst income inequality since the 1920s. This was engineered by the capitalist class. But what Business Roundtable’s Aug. 19 statement reveals is that the capitalists are frightened they have been found out. Capitalism free of external restraints and with no internal restraints will pillage and exploit a captive population until it rises up in fury. It is such an eruption that today’s capitalists worry is on the horizon.

Capitalism, because it is such a socially destructive force, saturates the media landscape with advertising to misinform and manipulate the public. It uses its vast wealth to buy up the press, domesticate universities, nonprofits and think tanks and demonize and muzzle its critics. It funds pseudo-intellectuals and pseudo-economists who tirelessly propagate the ideology of neoliberalism, the belief that transferring wealth upward into the hands of the ruling oligarchs is beneficial to society. It forms global monopolies that prey on the public. It wages endless wars in its quest for profit. It equates anti-capitalist agitation with terrorism, meaning, for example, that anyone in the U.S. who attempts to photograph or film the savagery and cruelty of industrial agriculture—one of the primary causes of carbon emissions—can be charged under terrorism acts. And when its pyramid schemes, frauds and financial bubbles collapse, it loots the national treasury and leaves taxpayers with the bill. (In the U.S. economic crisis of 2008, corporations gobbled up $4.6 trillion in public money.)

Capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, if unregulated and unfettered, is a revolutionary force. It first creates a mafia economy, as Karl Polanyi wrote, and then a mafia government. It was the greed of the capitalist class that turned our cities in decaying hulks and impoverished more than half the country. It was the greed of the capitalist class that set us on a course of ecocide. It was the greed of the capitalist class that created the mechanisms of internal repression, including police that function as rogue paramilitary units in our internal colonies, wholesale surveillance of the public, a vastly expanded system of mass incarceration and the agencies, including the National Security Agency, Homeland Security and the FBI, that spy on the public to thwart resistance. It was the greed of the capitalist class that dismantled the democratic institutions of the United States. It was the greed of the capitalist class that gave us Donald Trump. This disdain for the common good and democracy makes these capitalists traitors.

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase and chairman of Business Roundtable, conceded in the press release containing the “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” that “the American dream is alive, but fraying.” He assured us, however, that “major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.”

Alex Gorsky, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson and chair of the Business Roundtable Corporate Governance Committee, added that the statement “affirms the essential role corporations can play in improving our society.”

Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, called the statement “tremendous news” and said it would “result in shared prosperity and sustainability for both business and society.”

The sententious and self-congratulatory passages in the statement can be summed up by the opening paragraphs:

Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity. We believe the free-market system is the best means of generating good jobs, a strong and sustainable economy, innovation, a healthy environment and economic opportunity for all.

Businesses play a vital role in the economy by creating jobs, fostering innovation and providing essential goods and services. Businesses make and sell consumer products; manufacture equipment and vehicles; support the national defense; grow and produce food; provide health care; generate and deliver energy; and offer financial, communications and other services that underpin economic growth.

Capitalists such as Dimon (net worth $1.4 billion), whose company has paid more in regulatory fines than any other in America, and Gorsky, whose corporation was charged with helping fuel Oklahoma’s opioid crisis and then ordered by a court to pay $572 million in restitution in that state, would, in a functioning democracy, be in prison. Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, Pfizer and McKesson together are responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Americans—more than 130 people died every day in the U.S. from opioid-related drug overdoses in 2016 and 2017, according to the federal government.

The financial crimes of Dimon alone are numerous and notorious. They include underwriting fraudulent securities in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crash, overcharging members of the military on mortgages and mortgage refinancing transactions, overcharging customers for overdraft fees, manipulating bidding on California and Midwest electricity markets, overcharging homeowners for flood insurance, billing customers for nonexistent credit card monitoring services, charging minorities higher rates and fees on mortgages than those paid by white borrowers and failing to pay overtime to company workers.

So, what is this statement—which is equivalent to Al Capone insisting the mob ran a benevolent society in Chicago—about?

It is about the capitalists running scared. They know the reigning ideology of neoliberalism no longer has any credibility. Its lies have been exposed. They know the ruling institutions, including the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, are dysfunctional and despised. They know the media, Wall Street and the big banks are distrusted and hated. They know the criminal justice system, which criminalizes poverty and legalizes corporate fraud, is a sham. They know social mobility is, in effect, nonexistent. And, most importantly, they know that the financial system, built on the scaffolding of trillions lent to them by the government at marginal interest rates, is not sustainable and will trigger another recession, if not a depression. They also know they are to blame.

The capitalists are determined to protect their wealth. They are determined, and probably able, to block left-leaning candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders from obtaining the Democratic nomination for president. But they are also aware that politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden who have spent their careers serving corporate power are harder and harder to sell to the electorate. The mendacity and hypocrisy of the Democratic Party are evident in the presidency of Barack Obama, who ran as an outsider and reformer in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. Obama—whom Cornel West called “a black mascot for Wall Street”—callously betrayed the party’s base. Actions by him, Clinton and other Democratic leaders after the 2008 financial debacle opened the door for the demagogue Donald Trump, who, although a con artist and inveterate liar, was astute enough to tell voters, especially from the white working class, what they wanted to hear.

Business Roundtable’s August statement is a pathetic attempt to reframe the capitalists’ roles in society, to give these corporate grifters gentler, kinder faces. It will not work. The capitalists have the power to destroy, but no longer to create. And out of their relentless destruction, which they are incapable of halting, will come the social unrest they fear and monstrosities more terrifying than Donald Trump.

Global Poverty: How the Rich Eat the Poor and the World: The big lies

The 2016 Oxfam Davos Report which the mass media have ignored arrestingly shows that 62 individuals – 388 in 2010 – now own more wealth than 50% of the world’s population. More shockingly, it reports from its uncontested public sources that this share of wealth by half of the world’s people has collapsed by over 40% in just the last five years. Yet the big lies persist even here that “the progress has been made in tackling world poverty” and “extreme poverty has been halved since 1990”.

Reversing Undeniable Fact as Ultimate Justification

Unbelievably, the endlessly repeated assertion of the form that ‘the poor are being lifted out of poverty in ever greater numbers’ continues on untouched despite the hard evidence that, in fact, the poorer half of humanity has lost almost half of their wealth in just the last five years.

This big lie is significant in its implications. For not only is a pervasive claim about the success of globalization undeniably falsified while no-one notices it. Basic market theory and dogma collapses as a result. What is daily claimed as an infallible benefit of the global market is shown to be the opposite of reality. What does it mean for “trickle-down theory” when, in truth, the trickle down goes up in hundreds of billions of dollars to the rich from the already poor and destitute?

What can we say now of the tirelessly proclaimed doctrine that the global market brings “more wealth for all” when, in fact, unimpeachable business evidence shows the opposite reality on the ground and across the world. For the poor have undeniably lost almost half their share of global wealth while the richest have multiplied theirs at the same time.

The evidence proves, in short, that the main moral and economic claims justifying the global market are very big lies becoming bigger all the time.

Worse than delusional, the lived reality of impoverishment of billions of people is reversed, the victims are continually proclaimed to be doing better under the system that increasingly deprives them of what little they have, and a trillion dollars worth of loss to the poorer half of humanity ends up in the pockets of the rich within only five years.

While the ever bigger lies go on justifying the global system that eats the poor alive as “poverty amelioration”, ever more of the same policies of accumulation by dispossession justify still more  stripping of  the majority as more “austerity”, more “welfare cuts”,  and more “labor flexibility” – in a word, more starvation and depredation of people’s lives and life conditions as “more freedom and prosperity for all”.

The Statistical Shell Game that Masks the Life-Devouring Reality

As World Bank, IMF and like figures claim to show the uplifting of the poor out of poverty across the world,  media of record like The Guardian and the New York Times report the claims with headlines to show all is well and getter for the poor and the majority as they are in fact grindingly reduced in their actual lives, work and life security. Thus the very big lies are instituted as given facts which economists and social scientists propagate without a blink.

In fact, these alleged great gains for the poor out of poverty and absolute poverty alike are based on income gains of less than a cup of coffee a day, an observation that is so well blocked from view that readers may now be seeing it for the first time. Thus the hypnotic thrall of the big lies are sustained, while no other life support system is. I have had economists and interviewers of high note respond angrily when this delusion is pointed out, as if I was letting down the poor rather than exposing the big lies. In this way, we find that the masking falsehoods  have gone so deep into expert and public assumption that the real-life world can no longer be engaged. These big lies then work in the background to the non-stop big lies that precede endless  foreign conflicts and wars to “defend the free world”

No-one appears to observe that the income gains ’lifting the poor out of poverty’ typically refer to emigrants from the countryside into polluted cities, insecure and dehumanized life conditions for those who formerly had at least a family dwelling, clean air and water and living horizons.  In short, the standard $1.50 +/- measure of uplift out of poverty and extreme poverty is inhumanly absurd, but triumphally used as proof that the system is serving the least too.

The Counter-Revolution against Social Evolution that Engineers Deepening Recession

Throughout the unseen redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich (now buried in much talk of “inequality”), ever more “market reforms” are enforced as “enhanced competition”, “liberalized de-regulation”,  “reduced welfare costs” and “austerity programs to correct excesses”. The “excessive entitlements” of the system are all projected on the victims so that  the truly insane entitlements of the richest to multiply their fortunes with no committed life function, value or coordinate but still more money-demand for them is somehow not noticed. This is yet another level of normalized big lies forming the ruling thought system.

In fact beneath the pervasive propaganda conditioning citizens to believe in the private money shell game devouring the world, the poorer half of humanity has been deprived of one trillion dollars of wealth while the 62 richest people have gained almost twice as much for themselves by the operations of this global disorder. Yet the Davos Report further emphasizes that still another US $760 billion goes annually to non-producing investors by immense transnational tax evasion with impunity across the world. Again the borderless money-capital freedom of ‘globalization’ vastly enriches the richest, while simultaneously doubling down on deprivation of the poor as ‘poverty reduction’.

Here the system is programmed in effect to strip the funding of all public sectors and institutions which have evolved to serve the common life interest. Public services and infrastructures too are perpetually driven towards bankruptcy not only by never-ending defunding, cutbacks, privatizations, and corporate lobby control of public policies and subsidies, but by ever-soaring public tax evasion near one trillion dollars annually about which governments and trade treaties have done nothing to correct yet.

Thus governments which could invest in sustaining humanity’s social and ecological life support systems from growing deterioration and collapse are now systematically bankrupted or debt enslaved along with most citizens. In consequence without governments knowing why, the world economy slips into ever deeper recession from the collapse of economic demand at the public and majority levels.

Eating the World Alive as Global Competition

The new law of human evolution is that are required to compete for more money and commodities for themselves as “necessary to survive”, with the borderless system de-regulated and structured to increasingly impoverish the great majority while multiplying the wealth of the rich. The facts are now long in. Corporate globalization is not only out of control. It is eating the world alive at all levels towards cumulative collapse of organic, social and ecological life organization. Global competition means, in fact, the majority’s life means and security keep falling as the environment is looted and polluted on ever larger scales of depredation. Yet only “more growth” of this system is imagined as a solution. The system is clinically insane

While the common life-ground is blinkered out a-priori by the ruling value system, those deprived and left behind disappear into multi-level big lies proclaiming the opposite. This is why the facts are not reported. This is why claimed actions to stop the world bleeding blinker out the system disorder causing them. This is why even progressives assume economic falsehoods as if they were true. Like a cancer system at the macro level, this exponentially multiplying private money-sequence system has only one set-point – to blindly grow itself while masking the life-devouring disorder as “enhancing people’s well-being”.

With Monsanto and Glyphosate on the Run AAAS Revokes Award to Scientists Whose Studies Led to Ban on Weedkiller in Sri Lanka and Other Countries

by Russell Mokhiber

Counterpunch

February 21, 2019

The popular weedkiller glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is on the run.

Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) last week called for a ban.

“We need to ban all products containing glyphosate, including Roundup,” Gabbard tweeted on February 16. “It’s poisoning our people, butterflies and other insects, the land and the water.”

And then again today, Gabbard tweeted: “Monsanto proves they’ll do anything to pad their pockets, including manufacturing ‘scientific studies’ to influence the EPA while destroying small farmers. They unleashed the scourge of Roundup on us and should be held accountable for the consequences.”

Also last week the Guardian reported on a broad new scientific analysis showing that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”

Last August, a jury in San Francisco awarded $289 million to a former school groundskeeper who said Monsanto’s Roundup left him dying of cancer.

But now comes the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

On February 4, 2019, the AAAS put out a press release announcing it was awarding the 2019 Scientific Freedom and Integrity award to two scientists, Sarath Gunatilake and Channa Jayasumana, whose research into the hazards of glyphosate led to the banning of the weedkiller in Sri Lanka and other countries.

“Drs. Sarath Gunatilake and Channa Jayasumana faced death threats and claims of research misconduct while working to determine the cause of a kidney disease epidemic that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in their home country of Sri Lanka and around the world,” the AAAS said in its press release. “Ultimately, their advocacy led to the culprit, an herbicide called glyphosate, being banned in several affected countries.”

“To right a wrong when significant financial interests are at stake and the power imbalance between industry and individual is at play takes the unique combination of scientific rigor, professional persistence and acceptance of personal risk demonstrated by the two scientists recognized by this year’s award,” said Jessica Wyndham, director of the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program at AAAS in the press release.

Then, the next day, the researchers received an email from Wyndham telling them that the award has been revoked and the press release taken down.

“As discussed over the phone earlier today, following the announcement of the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award yesterday, AAAS has received concerns from scientists and members of the organization that we consider need assessment,” Wyndham wrote. “That means that we will not be able to present to you and Dr. Jayasumana the Award next week as originally planned.”

“We are defining the assessment process, but in general I expect it will involve convening subject matter experts, including those from within AAAS’ governing bodies, so that their concerns can be elaborated. There will of course be an opportunity for you and Dr. Jayasumana to be engaged in the process. Following that review we will determine next steps.”

“As I mentioned, I do not suggest cancelling the tickets altogether at this stage, but rather suspending them until after the assessment has reached its conclusion. Travel costs that you and Dr. Jayasumana may have incurred because of this change will be reimbursed once we know how we are proceeding.”

Wyndham did not return calls seeking comment for this article.

“I feel this is an insult, discrimination, humiliation to a scientist live in poor third world country,” Jayasumana told Corporate Crime Reporter last week.  “All my friends and colleagues ask why award is pulled after the announcement. I have no answer. I feel industry is behind this shameless process.”

“The AAAS has a lot of explaining to do about why they revoking an award to these two scientists,” said Gary Ruskin of US Right to Know. “The appearance here is that the AAAS is caving to the agrichemical industry.”

“The AAAS has many significant ties to the agrichemical industry.  An influential former AAAS president, Nina Federoff, works for the Big Ag lobbying firm Olsson Frank. Other former AAAS presidents, such as Peter Raven, have close ties to Monsanto.”

And former Monsanto employee Alison L. Van Eenennaam is the incoming chair of the AAAS Agriculture, Food and Renewable Resources Steering Group.

“Is corporate corruption eating at the heart of American science?” Ruskin asked.

LACSN Solidarity with the Yemeni Community – A Statement

Toronto, September 8, 2018

 

The Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN) a democratic, non-profit and independent organization based in Toronto, that brings together various grassroots groups, networks and organizations that carry out work in solidarity with progressive and democratic transformation processes taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean.

I stand today on behalf of LACSN in solidarity with the people of Yemen. LACSN strongly condemns the deadly air strike in Yemen, which killed 22 children and four women.

For the past 4 years, the western backed Saudi-led coalition have targeted everything in Yemen. The list includes hospitals, factories, bridges, water tanks, power stations, school, universities, wedding halls and even cemeteries! This has caused a severe damage to the Yemeni economy and tens of thousands of people have lost their lives.

LACSN members stand in unity condemning the continuous attacks on the people of Yemen, where women and children are victims of this horrendous attacks.

We call for a cease fire and for a peaceful end.

We call to stop the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia

We call to save the people of Yemen

Stop the slaughter

The people united will never be defeated!

 

Magdalena-LACSN