Putin and The Destruction of A Worker’s State

Below is an exclusive video from Russia, with English subtitles, exposing the existence of a palace owned by Russian premiere Vladimir Putin on the coast of the Black Sea. According to the New York Times, this opulent, crime-as-substance cost somewhere around $1 billion dollars. What does this all include?

The ground floor includes a spa, a movie theater, a wine cellar and an outdoor area with fountains described as an “aqua disco.” The next floor up, according to the report, has a larger theater, a casino hall and a windowless hookah lounge with a pole-dancing stage. The report also describes an underground hockey rink, a church, a tunnel to the seaside and a 260-foot-long bridge leading to a teahouse.

And in the text version of the investigation, which you can translate from Russian, you can take a virtual look-around Putin’s classy hookah lounge/private strip club which is beyond sleazy.

This ostentatious temple built to one mans avarice and megalomania is maybe one of the sickest shows that can be conceived by the radical left.

This work of investigative journalism is hosted, and produced by top Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and his associates. The AP describes Mr. Nalvany as…

Navalny, 44, is an anti-corruption campaigner and the Kremlin’s fiercest critic. He has outlasted many opposition figures and is undeterred by incessant attempts to stop his work.

He has released scores of damning reports exposing corruption in Putin’s Russia. He has been a galvanizing figure in mass protests, including unprecedented 2011-12 demonstrations sparked by reports of widespread rigging of a parliamentary election.

And there is another great profile of Mr. Navalny here in the NYT here.

Today, as further reported by the AP, an estimated 15,000 demonstrators gathered in and around Pushkin Square in Moscow to protest the unjust incarceration of Mr. Navalny. They were joined by other protesters across the country standing outside in sometimes -58 F weather. Navalny’s being held on trumped up charges of financial crimes clearly levelled against him as a political hit and and an excuse to imprison him. (The charges brought against him and his brother the European Court of Human Rights have declared unwarranted.) Further, these protests have led to the arrests of more than 3,000 peaceful protesters, many more beaten, by the Russian authorities.

Watch the beatings here:

The breadth and depth of the above investigation is unbelievably expansive. Just scroll through the text, as I did, if you can stomach it, and observe the images , 3-D models, and linked .pdf files of floor plans. Remarkable. This video/text also shows one of the many cases of theft (by the “believed” richest man in the world, according to a Fortune report) from the Russian people by Putin, his cronies, and fellow oligarchs.

Why do I find this so upsetting? Because from the momentous days of the October Revolution of 1917, to the fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1989-1991, there was so much work, sacrifice, and eventual loss of dreams for the creation of a true workers’ state. Now look what it has turned into. A plutocracy where the man with more money than Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates has the people beaten in the streets when peacefully protesting. And just over false charges against a rival who wants the best for everyone.

If I were not Kentucky White Trash, I would like to have the money to visit Russia some day and see all of the great sites: St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Winter Palace, Lenin’s Mausoleum. But I swear to you now and to the day of my death, I would never spend a single kopek in the Russian state because, more than likely, it would end up in one of the chests belonging to Vladimir Putin.

5 More Graphic Pieces of Propaganda!

I know, I know, it’s a day late and I apologize. But here are 5 graphics!

Tell your friends!

Here’s the link to the Google Photo Album!

Smashing Capitalism, Not Fancy Measures

In the “Broken Capitalism” series being published over at The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/01/broken-capitalism-economy-americans-fix?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other, Heather Boushey argues that the way academics measure economic growth is outdated and doesn’t show the full picture of the wealth gap between the 1% and the rest of us. Here’s her argument:

GDP used to be a good indicator of national income. If GDP rose 2%, most gained 2% across the board. But due to the current economic separation between the 1% and the 99%, simple GDP is no longer a valid measuring tool. Boushey gives us this example:

Take 2014. While aggregate national income grew by 2.3%, after taxes and government transfer programs such as supplemental nutrition assistance, incomes for those in the bottom 90% grew by less than the average – 1.5% – while those in the top 1% saw their income grow by twice the average – about 5%.

She then argues for a new disaggregate measure made up of national income and product accounts with data from surveys and administrative sources to clear the picture. This would not only produce more representative ratios between the rich and poor, but also between race, gender, and age

That’s a great idea, but it does not get to the question of what is to be done.

Boushey offers that better published numbers will make the masses more aware of the economic canyon between those of the top SES and the rest of us:

Better, fairer growth measures are a vital step towards better, fairer growth. A clearer picture of the disconnect between overall growth and worker welfare will force a deeper examination of what’s gone wrong with the capitalist engine

Boushey goes on to argue that these new measures will give more power to the people enabling unions to rise. But that is not what I take issue with here.

I am arguing that better tools for showing the income gap between rich and poor will not fuel the smashing of capitalism. The proletariat is not concerned with new academic information to show how poor they are. What they are concerned with is putting food on the table. This is why “Peace, Land, Bread” was so effective in 1917. Lenin and the Bolsheviks didn’t lay out Marx’s material dialectic to the masses as a way to spark them to action. Not in the slightest. They got down to the brass tacks of what ailed the Russian workers and peasants at the time: the end of participation in WWI, land redistribution, and food for their families.

I am not arguing against Boushey’s proposal of how to better measure the income gap among in American society. Her methods show who is making all the money (the 1%) while the vast majority (the 99%) receive so little. Great! I love it! But don’t fool your bourgeois self into thinking that fancy numbers will serve as a catalyst for real social change, Ms. Boushey. The masses could never understand this measurement with more than a 100 years of educational development and the destruction of media power.

A “clearer picture” of the math of inequality is definitely valuable among the academy. But to the masses, it means very little. They do not understand nor are concerned with such matters. They know they are working harder to make less as they fall further and further behind. This how you fix broken capitalism. Peace, land, bread, not disaggregate GDP measures.