A great op-Ed by Nick Kristoff at the NYT explaining how, though lacking in first rate medical technology, the infant mortality rates are actually lower in Cuba. We could take away many good practices from the Socialist, island nation so close to our shores.
From the AP: https://apnews.com/6c66de0a22944b58b276d43eef91c093
The suffering of the Venezuelan people is heartbreaking. But:
A) This is not a result of a failing socialist system but rather an economic strangling committed by the U.S. and the International community, who are in our pocket, through strong sanctions, and,
B) If Maduro lets in the U.S. aid, it would be seen as a gift from Guaido which would strengthen him immensely. And Guaido would be a U.S. puppet.
The only thing that should solve this is the delivery of aid by Russia or China. Where are they at?
As someone who spent 12 years in Catholic schools as a child, and is now an atheist, I usually have no use for the Church. But what struck me today was this article in The Atlantic regarding the recent Pope Francis apostolic exhortation criticizing the inequality created by capitalism around the world along with capitalistic values in general. A fascinating development and article.
He covers many topics, as usual, but most orbit around the difference between real democracy and RECD: Really existing capitalist democracy. A must read.
A recent article in Foreign Policy points out the growing amount of foreign companies buying and taking over long time American favorites. A few highlights from the piece:
The company leading the purchase of Heinz is a Brazilian private equity firm, 3G. Never heard of it? Well, 3G also happens to own Burger King Corp., which it bought for $3.3 billion in 2010.
Budweiser, that great American icon and Bud Light, the best-selling beer in the United States, are now owned by a consortium headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and run by a Brazil-born CEO.
Europe-based multi-nationals and investors already own a bevy of American brands. The names may surprise many Americans: Gerber, Holiday Inn Hotels, Vaseline, Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Alka-Seltzer, Ray-Ban, LensCrafters, Lysol, Woolite, Motel 6, Trader Joe’s, and on and on.
The Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Company is owned by SABMiller, a company launched in South Africa in 1895…now based in London…While Chrysler Motors is owned by Italy’s Fiat, the iconic Chrysler Building in New York City is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council.
Grupo Bimbo, a Mexico-based food conglomerate, bought the North America bakery operations of cakes maker Sara Lee in 2011.
So, should this concern us? Well, if we were rational people with rational election and lobbying laws, it shouldn’t since the influence of these companies would not matter much once their ownership became foreign. The problem is we aren’t rational people and neither are our laws.
Last year, I commented on the idea of unrestrained capitalism leading to a one world-type of government conspiracy theorists fear so much. It seems we are continuing down that path with all the business transactions mentioned in the Foreign Policy article. Citizens United opened the floodgates for these corporations to use their money to influence our elected officials at every level and they are sparing no expense to do just that.
Take a look at a couple of the corporations mentioned and their spending on influencing politicians. Anheuser-Busch spent $1.5 million on campaign and PAC donations and another $7 million on lobbying in the 2012 election cycle. HSBC’s tab: $387k and $5 million in those areas. And let’s not forget Fox News’ parent, News Corp, also owned by a foreigner. Its bill: $1.6 million in contributions and $13 million on lobbying efforts.
If corporations have no trouble spending this kind of money on elections in the U.S., what is to stop them from passing all the laws they want in every democra$y that will li$ten? The answer is essentially this: nothing.
The key point we have to remember is, despite the Supreme Court ridiculously ruling that corporations count as people, these corporations are run by people and these people have self-serving agendas when it comes to the laws governing what they do. If they can buy their way into the government and shape the laws into what they want, they will do it in every country that will allow it leading to every country having the same laws on the books for these corporations.
And if we are truly patriotic, why would we allow this when we can see it coming? Or what should really be asked, who are the people telling us we should allow this and what is their interest? When we turn on Fox “News”, I wonder what the opinions on this issue would be from the pundits on there?
Oh, well. We can probably ignore this one. I’m sure whoever is pedaling the influence has the best interest of their countrymen in mind…whoever their countrymen might be…
With the death of Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez, I have asked myself why I have been so supportive of his administration over the years. Here’s a list why I compiled with an important criticism at the end:
First, I must admit, that like Mr. Chavez, I am quite critical of capitalism, especially when ran in third world countries where much of the land and other resources belong to outside owners. He socialized many industries and much land in an effort to bring more control of the Nation’s resources for the people.
Secondly, I love a leader from a small country who lives shaking his fist at a much larger nation which opposes it, much like the relationship between Venezuela and the United States or Cuba and the United States. I love an underdog.
Thirdly, and perhaps superficially, I liked his charismatic style which at times could be clown-like and at other times be inspirationally moving. I’ll never forget Comandante Chavez speaking at a leftist rally on an Argentine soccer pitch about 10 years ago. The crowd started to spontaneously “pogo” (jump straight up and down) like they were at a rock concert. Then soon enough, about 10 seconds after the crowd began jumping, Chavez began to do the same behind the podium in an effort to identify with the gathered peoples that went crazy. It was both entertaining to see a 50-some-odd year old man pogoing like a 20-something in the crowd, which quickly built a bridge with the attendants that the other speakers did not.
Fourthly, he consolidated power under himself as much as possible during his three terms as President. Now as an American democrat, I hate any limitations on democracy in my home country, but in Venezuela, things are different. Venezuela, before Chavez won his first election as President in 1999, was ruled by oligarchs and foreign industry that kept the masses extremely poor without much hope for bettering their condition. His opponents even conducted an (as The Guardian reports) Bush-administration supported failed coup in 2002 in an effort to regain power and go back to the pre-Chavez status-quo. So since the “Chavista” movement was so fragile in the face of its critics, he had to consolidate power. The same thing could be said about Cuba and North Korea for the first 20 years of their leaders’ reign as supreme leader. I know this sounds like outright heresy in face of the U.S. constitution but other countries are not America. They do not have the same equal rights that we have here. There are nefarious parties connected to outside powers who want to economically occupy that nation. Sometimes consolidating power is the only way for a leader/party is the only way to maintain control for the better.
Fifthly, the overall reason I admire Chavez so much was for his revolutionary vision even though the nuts and bolts never worked out during his time as leader. Most people in the mainstream media will make big of this fact as they should, but he tried his best as a great ideologue in an effort to help the masses in Venezuela who had been forgotten by the oligarchy for so very long.
And finally, a criticism I have of Mr. Chavez is since Venezuela was turned away by the United States during the Bush years and labeled as anti-American, Chavez made friends with other ostracized leaders. Now his friendship with both Qaddafi and Ahmadinejad to me, despite the Venezuelan hard times, is serious black marks on his record and should be recognized.
A good piece in The Atlantic on whether if the minimum wage was increased to $9.00 an hour, as Pres. Obama has proposed, will it kill jobs or provide some relief to the those on the lowest rung of the latter? They pose this question to 5 respected professors and they each comeback with interesting findings.
A good op-ed in the NYT regarding how the rhetoric of the GOP might be changing to appeal to more voters in the wake of their recent defeat in November, but it’s not indicative of an honest change. According to Krugman, they’re just not saying they are the party of the “Makers,” and not the majority of “Takers,” in public any longer.
A good article from a good reporter (Sarah Grainger at the BBC) addresses some of these unsettled democratic-socialist policies of the regime and the current state of it’s opposition.