Where Have All the Profits Gone? by Stephen Fleischman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Fleischman
The Smirking Chimp
March 16, 2008

The stock market has been bouncing around like a yo-yo on steroids.

The term “subprime” that most of us hadn’t heard before, has become a household word.

Household mortgages have been avalanching and foreclosures piling up. Banks are locked in a credit crunch.

Bear Stearns, one of Wall Street’s biggies, had to be bailed out by the Fed.

Banks, like bookies of yore, are laying off bad bets. The government is dancing as fast as it can, printing $600 checks to send out to everybody, hopefully creating some purchasing power for people to go out and buy stuff.

Yet, despite the stimulus package, and other fables being told by George W. Bush, reputable economists and dour newsmen are predicting a deep and long recession ahead.

According to Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia, a recession is a decline in a country’s gross domestic product for two or more successive quarters. Recessions may be associated with falling prices, called deflation, or rising prices, called inflation, in a process known as stagflation.

A severe or long recession is referred to as an economic depression. A devastating breakdown of an economy is called economic collapse.

Is that where we’re headed?

It’s got to be somebody’s fault. Who are the villains of the piece? Capitalists? No. Entrepreneurs? No. The working class? Well, maybe.

It’s the profit motive, Stupid! In the end, you know, every crook gets caught.

Where does profit come from? That is the question.

It took Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883) Prussian philosopher, political economist and revolutionary, to find out where profit came from. It was a discovery that ranked with Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and Sigmund Freud’s ego, super-ego and the id.

Profit, Marx found out, is the gain capitalists receive by paying workers less than the full value of their labor. It’s called “exploitation” of one class by another–an inherent feature and key element of capitalism and free markets.

What! This whole capitalist system that has taken over the world is based on out-and-out thievery! The capitalist steals the surplus value of the labor the worker puts into the commodity being produced! What a discovery!

Well, it’s better than slavery where the slave owner stole 100% of the slave’s labor power, except for what it cost to keep the slave alive. It’s also better than feudalism where the serf was allowed to keep only about 50% of his produce, while the feudal lord took the rest for allowing the serf to work on his land. It was called share-cropping in this country and continued for quite a while after slavery was abolished in 1865. So some progress has been made.

Another landmark discovery of Marx and his collaborator, Frederick Engels, was the concept of the “class struggle”. As expressed in the “Communist Manifesto”, “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of ‘class struggles'”

Marx believed that capitalism, like previous economic systems will lead to its own destruction. Capitalism cuts from under its own feet the very foundation on which it produces and appropriates products. What it creates, in the process, is its own grave-diggers.

Just as capitalism replaced feudalism, capitalism, itself, will be replaced by another form, be it communism or some form of socialism allowing for a public and private sector in the economy.

There were few parts of the world which were not significantly touched by Marxist ideas in the course of the twentieth century.

Of course, the most prominent of these was Russia and the Bolshevik Revolution which led to the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR). We don’t mind talking about that. You’ve got to look at these things in the long sweep of history. It took capitalism a couple of hundred years to shake itself out. Since the Industrial Revolution in England, in the late 1700s, there have been many panics, booms and busts and experimentation. Capitalism leads to monopoly and war and today we’re in the stage of empire building and globalization.

Now, new forms of socialism are taking the world stage. The Soviet Union was a failed experiment. China seemed to be using revisionist Marxism to transform itself from communism to a new form of aggressive capitalism, Cuba is continuing in the old tradition with Castro and his brother Raul barely keeping the old form of classical Marxism alive. But there is a new wind blowing over Latin America, with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and socialist ferment in the rest of the South American continent.

The United States today is reaching a stage of critical mass. With an un-winnable war in Iraq costing an estimated 3 trillion dollars of borrowed money, an infrastructure showing signs of wear, a wobbly stock market, a bloated defense budget and a military force falling apart and Congress authorizing tax cuts for the rich, isn’t it time we considered making some changes in our economic system before changes are thrust upon us?

George W. Bush and the US capitalist oligarchy backing him up must be a part of the grave-digging team.

Stephen Fleischman, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See www.Read2greatbooks.com, e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.com.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Nader’s Latest Run – Monkey Wrench or Cattle Prod?

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Fleischman
Counterpunch
Feb 29, 2008

“Here we go again,” murmured the old guard Democrats when Ralph Nader officially announced his candidacy for president in 2008, on Tim Russert’s “Meet the Press” show, Sunday, Feb.24th.

“Nader–the spoiler,” they called him since the 2000 election when Al Gore lost the presidency to George W. Bush. “It’s all Nader’s fault!” they cried. Nader was a good scapegoat, a good person to blame, so they wouldn’t have to examine their own souls.

Yes, George W. Bush was named President. He won Florida by 537 votes. Ralph Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida. It’s simple. If Nader hadn’t run, Gore would have won!

Hold on! It’s not as simple as that!

What about the “monkey wrench” effect? Will Nader be accused of blowing the election for the Democrats, again, in 2008? Lose to John McCain? It would take Houdini to do that. As Nader said to Tim Russert in the “Meet the Press” interview, “If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form. You think the American people are going to vote for a pro-war John McCain who almost gives an indication that he’s the candidate for perpetual war”.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Nader the Best Antidote to American Imperialism

Nader did not “spoil” the 2000 election (videos)

In defense of Ralph Nader (video)

Nader-Ralph

www.votenader.org/

Only Pawns in the Game By Stephen Fleischman

Dandelion Salad

By Stephen Fleischman
12/18/07 “
ICH

You can demonize Bush and Cheney (rightfully) until hell freezes over–but it’s not going to change anything. Keith Olbermann does it almost every night on his MSNBC television show, but it doesn’t change anything. Trashing Bush and Cheney or Hillary or Obama might make a lot of people feel good, but it doesn’t change anything. They’re only pawns in the game.

The real power resides in the corporate oligarchy that runs this country. It has a strangle hold on America. The only point of an election in our two party-one party system is to determine which one carries out the agenda. If we do something about that, we might be able to change something.

David Korten, author of “When Corporations Rule the World”, points out that “the basic design of the private-benefit corporation was created in 1600 when the British crown chartered the British East India Company as what is best described as a legalized criminal syndicate to colonize the resources and economies of distant lands…” Today’s American corporations evolved from that.

When you see the feeding frenzy of US corporations in Iraq–Halliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater, and a host of others, you can understand what Korten is talking about.

The corporation is a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. The private-benefit corporation is just that–a corporation chartered for its own private benefit, but it has to provide some socially positive good. If the corporation, chartered by the state, fails to provide the function for which it is chartered, or misapplies the function, the charter can be revoked. The state giveth and the state can taketh away. But when was the last time you heard of a corporation’s charter being revoked?

Over the years, the Supreme Court has bestowed additional blessings on corporations. In effect, it has made them almost human, granting them some of the same rights as US citizens, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, for example. Corporations can express there opinions in public and in the media as you or I can. This gives them enormous power, simply because they have more mullah than you or I. They can buy up commercial television time and print media ads and faux news coverage, because they have the power and the money and besides, they own most of the mainstream media.

As Sarah Stodola says in The Brooklyn Rail, “The Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution in a manner that has allowed corporations to ascend to unprecedented levels of power. The phenomenon even has a name, and that name is ‘corporate personhood.’ And corporate personhood, friends, is why corporations are able to buy elections.”

So what are we going to do to change all this?

Well, there are some things that can be done, short of revolution. We can start evaluating capitalism, for starters.

Elect a Congress that serves “We the People”, not “They, the corporations”. Easier said than done. How do you find candidates who are not beholden to corporations, special interests or any ethnic voting block?

I would hate to think we will have to wait for the looming economic collapse to do the job for us. We are living on borrowed time. When purchasing power of the US citizen reaches the end of its rope, the collapse will come. You can take that to the bank.

The Great Depression of the 1930s must have taught us something. When people lose everything they tend to wake up. They look around and see what’s been done to them and what they’ve done to themselves by not paying attention. From their Hoovervilles, the people, hit by the depression, saw Hoover and his rotten administration for what it was, and threw the bums out. They elected new, progressive leaders (FDR Democrats), who saved capitalism with safety nets and a “New Deal”.

Can we do something like that again; hopefully before the coming economic collapse? We’d better start trying now, and maybe ease the pain. Here are some things that need to be done.

Reverse Reaganomics. Reinstitute regulation of industry. Make the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for example, do their jobs, so that we don’t have US corporations off-shoring their manufacturing to another country, like China, for example, and then importing their product, like toys, for example, painted with lead, for our children to play with.

Soak the Rich, a phrase coined by FDR when he spoke about the “Economic Royalists” who brought this country to its knees. Instead of cutting taxes for the rich, as Bush has been doing, raise taxes for the rich and their corporate enterprises, as they did during the great depression when FDR laid a tax rate on them of over 90% in the upper brackets.

Marshal Plan on Energy — Go cold turkey on our addiction to oil. Massive investment in the new technologies of alternative energy sources, wind, solar, geothermal. Halt the return to nuclear, and head off the development of biofuels that will put our food into your gas tanks. We can create new high-tech industries and high-paying jobs with a new energy world.

Single Payer Universal Health Care – end the merry-go-round on health care by political candidates. Get rid of the blood-sucking health insurance companies, once and for all. And make health care for our citizens a right and not a privilege. Any candidate for office will get elected on that platform.

Stop the Hemorrhaging in Afghanistan and Iraq – Four thousand dead American soldiers is four thousand too many. Two trillion dollars to destroy two countries is two trillion dollars that could have been used to rebuild the infrastructure of our country and have enough left to enhance the lives of our young and our old.

David Korten says, “Capitalism, which means quite literally rule by financial capital–by money and those who have it–in disregard of all non-financial values, has triumphed over democracy, markets, justice, life, and spirit. There are other ways to organize human societies to actualize the positive benefits of markets and private ownership. They require strong, active, democratically accountable governments to set and enforce rules that assure costs are internalized, equity is maintained, and market forces are channeled to the service of democracy, justice, life, and spirit.”

Yes, we can do all that, if we want to.

Stephen Fleischman, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See http://www.Read2greatbooks.com – e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.com


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

The Corporation (must-see video)

Kucinich pushes to get troops out of Iraq By Kevin Landrigan (video link; 11.29.07)

Homeless in Paradise America, Land of 371 Billionaires & 3.5 Million Homeless By Stephen Fleishman

Dandelion Salad

By Stephen Fleishma
ICH
12/06/07 “Counterpunch

In the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, as many as three and a half million people experience homelessness in a given year (1% of the entire US population or 10% of its poor) and of that, 1.37 million (or 39%) are children under the age of 18.

The total number of billionaires in the world is 793 with 371 of them being in the United States of America, that’s about 322 more than there were 20 years ago.

If it can be said that people with money and power run the world, then 1% of America’s wealthiest and most powerful run America behind a façade of democracy. The façade is coming apart and the true nature of this government is plain to see.

After four years of a useless war, costing Americans their lives and treasury, and enriching the multitude of corporate entities slurping up billions at the Iraqi trough, we have allowed the new robber barons, Bush and his crony capitalist friends to continue conning us out of house and home, our country. Our constitution is in shreds and our economy is about to crash. Don’t let any of the Wall Street freaks try to fool you. They’re as scared as we are.

What happens when an economic system reaches the end of its days; when purchasing power dries up and workers can no longer buy the products they produce?

When Capitalism still had some vigor, Henry Ford said he would price his cars so that his workers could afford to buy them.

Do you find that kind of insight in Corporate America today? Not on your life! First, they break the unions and then they outsource their high-paying manufacturing jobs. It’s a race to the bottom. Go to wherever the lowest wages can be found. All we get to hear is that giant sucking sound that Ross Perot talked about when he was running for president American good paying jobs and manufacturing plants leaving the country. Let’s call it “globalization”. Some economists, like Milton Friedman, seem to think it’s a good thing.

I hate to sound like an old-time Trotskyite, but I’m beginning to believe now that our political and economic system will have to get worse, before it can get better. We’re going to have to take some “shock and awe” in this country to knock some of the lethargy out of our citizens, brainwashed by the corporate media. And it’s not just the media. The almost deliberate act of dumbing down the populous has been built into the fabric of society”from public education to academia to computer games to radio and television talk shows. To keep the sheep compliant, I presume.

When was the last time you heard the labor theories of value or the theory of surplus value discussed anywhere in the public media? They’d rather give us Brittany Spears and O.J. Simpson.

You wouldn’t know, from what you learned in school or read in the papers, that Franklin D Roosevelt, when he became president in the depth of the depression in 1933, saved capitalism by providing a “safety net” for the millions of destitute Americans. He did it with the NRA, WPA. TWA, CCC, AAA, Social Security and other “socialist-like” programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

So where have all the alphabets gone”along with the flowers of the “new left” of the 1960s? We thought they’d re-descend in the 1990s, but they haven’t shown up yet.

So I think it’s a matter of taking matters into our own hands. We have a line-up of presidential candidates, Republicans and Democrats, most of them in the pockets of corporate interests, who will take us back to the same old stand, except, perhaps for Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich. But they have already been ruled out of the running because they have something helpful to say to the American people. Not allowed.

Now, Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, has just announced that he will move to impeach President Bush if he bombs Iran. Isn’t that courageous! Doesn’t Joe have enough evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors right now and hasn’t he had them for the last three or four years; enough to move those proceedings from the Senate which he can’t because impeachment must originate in the House of Representatives? Joe must know that. But he needs something to grandstand on while running for president. This is typical of the kind of tactics candidates like to use in futzing with the minds of the voters.

It appears that our system is heading into the perfect storm. With the sub-prime mortgage disaster, a dismal forecast in consumer spending, the maxing out of credit cards and the Fed fighting the credit crunch, can a recession be far behind? We might be lucky if it’s only a recession. We could get the kind of economic collapse that would make the last depression look like a tea party. With friends like China, who needs enemies? We’ve fought this Iraqi war (which we’re still fighting) on the cuff”about two trillion dollars worth. China, a prime creditor, could call in some of this debt if they wanted to be mean.

Bush would like to get our minds off Iraq by attacking Iran. That way, he could get one more war under his belt. Go get him, Joe Biden!

Meanwhile, we wander around aimlessly, homeless in paradise, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Stephen Fleischman, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly “CBS Reports” series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-DuPont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See: http://www.ARedintheHouse.com/, E-mail: stevefl@ca.rr.com

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Robert Greenwald discusses the War on Greed (video)

Henry Kravis makes $57,000 PER HOUR. You pay more taxes. (video)

Mortgage Meltdown (video)

Saint Joe and the Impending Global Financial Crisis By Mike Whitney

The Lies at the End of the American Dream – The Shortage Myth By Paul Craig Roberts