Since the United States became the main world power in the 1940s, opening corporations up to the countries the U.S. empire would come to exploit in the following decades, working class people in America have filled a role more disposable than had previously been the case. Labor could be easily extracted by U.S. corporations from the Third World, because capitalism was now centered around the largest empire in world history. But now the economic order is changing, and the U.S. capitalist class is needing to adapt.
On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to Dr Silvia Bignamini, the health director of San Francesco Hospital in Bergamo, Italy. She discusses some of the difficulties medical services are facing in local communities due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) in hospitals all over the world, the main forms of transmission of the coronavirus, important steps to suppress infection, problems with the current available testing methods, her experience of becoming infected with Covid-19, and more!
In what is being called the worst financial crisis since 1929, the US stock market has lost a third of its value in the space of a month, wiping out all of its gains of the last three years. When the Federal Reserve tried to ride to the rescue, it only succeeded in making matters worse. The government then pulled out all the stops. To our staunchly capitalist leaders, socialism is suddenly looking good.
Many of the most pressing problems all nations face are a result of failing to adequately tackle our increasing level of global interdependence.
Mobilized capital can play the tax-regime of one country off against another with ease, such that there is a race to the bottom with respect to the corporate tax revenues which might be expected from even the wealthiest transnational corporations. Such economic arbitrage is possible precisely due to the propagation of widespread variations in the distribution of social justice across the planet. There are no national solutions to such problems, which ultimately require the more equitable distribution of social justice on a global scale.
“Socialism is a society coming together and taking control of the major centers of economic power: the banks, factories and industries, the major natural resources, the major sources of energy, all the centers of the economy. All the centers of economic power being controlled by society and functioning to work in the benefit of society. If you think that that could come into being as the result of a bunch of people going to the polls and clicking for one candidate, that’s delusional, could never happen.” — Caleb Maupin
“Quantitative easing” was supposed to be an emergency measure. The Federal Reserve “eased” shrinkage in the money supply due to the 2008-09 credit crisis by pumping out trillions of dollars in new bank reserves. After the crisis, the presumption was that the Fed would “normalize” conditions by sopping up the excess reserves through “quantitative tightening” (QT) – raising interest rates and selling the securities it had bought with new reserves back into the market.
The Green New Deal endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more than 40 other US Representatives has been criticized as imposing a too-heavy burden on the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the Green New Deal resolution proposes. It says funding will come primarily from certain public agencies, including the Federal Reserve and “a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks.”
Calls for a Universal Basic Income have been increasing, most recently as part of the Green New Deal introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and supported in the last month by at least 40 members of Congress. A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a monthly payment to all adults with no strings attached, similar to Social Security. Critics say the Green New Deal asks too much of the rich and upper-middle-class taxpayers who will have to pay for it, but taxing the rich is not what the resolution proposes. It says funding would primarily come from the federal government, “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks,” and other vehicles.
Chris Hedges, a globally-renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning author, gives us an entirely new view of a nation in crisis in his recently released book, America: The Farewell Tour, which holds both liberals and conservatives to account — as is rousingly pertinent for Canada as for the disoriented US. Beautifully written, it clarifies vividly and unforgettably the forces at play in our times.
The policy of guaranteeing every citizen a universal basic income is gaining support around the world, as automation increasingly makes jobs obsolete. But can it be funded without raising taxes or triggering hyperinflation? In a panel I was on at the NexusEarth cryptocurrency conference in Aspen September 21-23rd, most participants said no. This is my rebuttal.