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Heather Boushey argues that the way academics measure economic growth is outdated and doesn’t show the full picture of the wealth gap between the 1% and the rest of us.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.

5 New STL Images!

Five new pics for propaganda use (a day late). Thanks!!!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/TUomKrYbsYCMEWC59

10 Reasons We Need Medicare-For-All as a Human Right

An article from In These Times lists 10 stats showing why Medicare-for-All would provide and protect a human right. As you know, healthcare is currently going unaddressed under capitalism.

28,300,000 – People uninsured in the United States in the first quarter of 2018.

530,000 – Estimated number of families who file bankruptcy each year due to medical issues and bills

44% – Americans who didn’t go to a doctor when they were sick or injured because of cost, according

34% – Cancer patients who borrowed money from friends or family to pay for care in 2016

79% – Increased death rate for cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy in 2016

$75,375 – Cost of a heart bypass operation in 2016 in the U.S.

$15,742 – Cost of a heart bypass operation in 2016 in the Netherlands

$1,443 – U.S. per capita spending on pharmaceutical costs in 2016, the highest in the world

840% – Increase in spending for insulin from 2007 to 2017 on Medicare Part D (Medicare’s prescription drug plan)

$5,110,000,000,000 – Estimated 10-year cost savings of the single-payer healthcare system proposed in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act

SMASH CAPITALISM NOW!

5 New STL Images!

Five new pics for propaganda. Sorry for my late post!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/TUomKrYbsYCMEWC59

NYT: Many Top Corps Paying 0% Taxes Driving Some to Far Left Organization

We want what the people want:

Mr. Robertson, the carpet cleaner, has his own idea: nationalizing the companies. “I think forcing them to pay higher alone is inefficient,” he said, “and taxation alone is inefficient.”

www.nytimes.com/2019/04/29/us/politics/democrats-taxes-2020.html

Gentrification Here In America

For this post I want to talk about an issue that hits close to home for me. It deals with a concept some may not know the definition of or have heard of but don’t know what exactly it entails. I’m talking about gentrification.

The exact definition of gentrification from Brittanica Academic is:

the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanied by a wave of middle- or upper-class people moving into the area and displacing poorer residents

And what’s further:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Health Effects of Gentrification defines the real estate concept of gentrification as “the transformation of neighborhoods from low value to high value. This change has the potential to cause displacement of long-time residents and businesses … when long-time or original neighborhood residents move from a gentrified area because of higher rents, mortgages, and property taxes. Gentrification is a housing, economic, and health issue that affects a community’s history and culture and reduces social capital. It often shifts a neighborhood’s characteristics, e.g., racial-ethnic composition and household income, by adding new stores and resources in previously run-down neighborhoods.

The possible negative effects of gentrification are, but not limited to:

Displacement through rent/price increases

Loss of affordable housing

Commercial/industrial displacement

Unsustainable property prices

Displacement and housing demand pressures on surrounding poor areas

Community resentment and conflict

Homelessness

Secondary psychological costs of displacement

Increased cost and charges to local services

Loss of social diversity (from socially disparate to rich ghettos)

Under occupancy and population loss to gentrified area


Loretta Lees, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly, Gentrification Reader, p. 196. © 2008 Routledge.; Rowland Atkinson and Gary Bridge, eds., Gentrification in a Global Context: the New Urban Colonialism, p. 5. © 2005 Routledge.

This an important concept in terms of income-inequality rights. Big investors may come to a “ran-down” neighborhood, start some huge new development to serve bourgeois interests, and then drive people out of their homes along with other negative impacts. And it hits close to home for me because it is affecting a special place for myself right here in Louisville, KY. Let me explain:

There is an area in Louisville called Germantown/Schnitzelburg (G/S) which is composed of a few adjoining neighborhoods where an enclave of German Catholics moved into soon after arriving from Europe. And this is where my family is from and where I spent a lot of my young adult/university days. But G/S shares a border with the trendy/hipster section of town, and they are beginning to run out of real estate. So, in response, they are currently gentrifying G/S and bringing all the negative effects in with it. They are running out good, hardworking people from their family homes by increasing rent/tax prices and renovating old warehouses into apartment buildings and transforming little family bars into hipster hangouts.

The repertoire of the capitalist/bourgeois machine effects can hit the people in many ways. Gentrification is one of them.

After “Baby Bonds”: Next Steps Towards The Revolution

Democratic Sen., and Presidential candidate, Cory Booker is proposing a new “Baby Bond” program to help ease the state of inequality in America (read details below). If received well, and though not a true redistribution of wealth, us radical leftists should jump on the opportunity to push it even further.

www.nytimes.com/2019/04/06/us/politics/cory-booker-2020-baby-bonds.html

FUNYT!: NYT Opinion Page Water’s Down Far Left Possibilities

I have been searching over at the New York Times Opinion Page for the words “Trump socialism.” I read through the search results to learn what the point of view of the “Paper of Record,”or the liberal elite, feel about the radical left, and I was greatly disappointed. (Find four of the most relevant articles below).

The majority of the op-eds mention, especially among young people, that socialism is getting a better favorability rate than maybe ever before. Polling even shows that people under 30 have a higher liking towards socialism than to capitalism. But in ingesting the context around this polling data, the writers were giving socialism an extremely watered-down treatment.

They are starting to state, just a little, that a social democratic direction for the country is preferable to our current brutal and oppressive system which the bourgeoisie labels as “capitalism” (Remember, it’s capitalism for the masses, socialism for the rich. No “laissez faire” there). But yet I hated to here that so many of the authors were advocating the pointless, suffering-inducing, gradual style of a movement towards socialism through the means of a social democratic movement among politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. This is a totally unacceptable strategy.

As I read through these articles, they all outlined how Trump and the rest of the GOP are out to produce another “red scare” to frighten people away from any type of movement towards a real leftist system. It is time for the people to act. We don’t need little barbs in our editorials reassuring people we’re not Venezuela, or that Lenin or Trotsky will not be our new “Founding Framers.” We need to take a real step towards true equality and justice and move towards socializing big business, such as utility companies and manufacturers, which live off the blood of the workers. We need real change, right now. We need to take it to the streets and strike while the iron is hot. With such a high favorability of socialism among the young we do not need any gradual, long-ended social democratic candidates in Washington to eventually change the system over a hundred-year period.

Let’s get it together, NOW!

Proposed Tax On Million Dollar Living Spaces Serving As Second Home

“For properties valued between $5 million and $6 million, a 0.5 percent surcharge would be added on the value over $5 million. Fees and a higher surcharge would apply to homes that sold for more than $6 million, topping out at a $370,000 fee and a 4 percent surcharge for homes valued at more than $25 million.”

This would be huge in NYC where so many high end living spaces remain empty for they are just investments.

Would be great for a subway system revamp, and any leftover for remedying the housing crisis there.

www.nytimes.com/2019/03/11/nyregion/mta-subways-pied-a-terre-tax.html

Gramsci, Cultural Hegemony, and Why it’s So Vital for Our Liberation

Antonio Gramsci is one of the most influential Marxist thinkers of the twentieth-century (born Jan. 23, 1891, Ales, Sardinia, Italy—died April 27, 1937, Rome). Both an intellectual and a politician, he founded the Italian Communist Party. But after his party was outlawed by Benito Mussolini’s fascists, Gramsci was arrested and imprisoned (1926). At his trial the fascist prosecutor argued, “We must stop his brain from working for 20 years.” In prison, despite rigorous censorship, Gramsci carried out an extraordinary and wide-ranging historical and theoretical study of Italian society and possible strategies for change. Extracts of Gramsci’s prison writings were published for the first time in the mid-20th century; the complete Quaderni del carcere (Prison Notebooks) appeared in 1975.

Gramsci’s greatest contributionto the far-left theoretical tradition is his writings on hegemony, or, as laterdeemed, cultural hegemony. Though he did not label his concept under any onename at the time, his closest characterization of the idea was,

“…(T)he ‘spontaneous’consent given by the great masses of the population to the general directionimposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group; this consent is ‘historically’caused by the prestige (and consequent confidence) which the dominant group enjoysbecause of its position and function in the world of production.”

What that does all thatmean? With a further analysis of Gramsci’s work included, it means that thedominant group in society has been so instrumentally constructing a worldview intheir favor that it has become the ruling worldview, or culture, of our society.Those in charge have created a point-of-view that everyone perceives as the onlyway to see the world. And they have so accomplished this feat they have us believethat it is the natural order, not that it is just man-made. Therefore, we endup oppressing ourselves.

You could easily relate to a dominant hegemonic system like the “divine rights of kings” in which the people once believed that the aristocrats were in their position for God decided so. But that was the previous hegemonic culture. After the French Revolution and its spread of liberal ideals, the hegemonic culture became capitalism. That’s why Gramsci was so concerned with the concept: capitalism has engrained itself so deeply into our perception of reality, as created by the powerful, that the masses cannot think outside of it. People just believe that this is just how the world works and there are no options otherwise. Since the “divine right of kings” worldview is now replaced by a capitalist cultural hegemony, we perceive that period as incorrect. But it seemed just as valid during those times as capitalism does now.

The importance ofthe analysis of hegemony by Marxist theorists is that even though capitalism asinstilled into our every worldview, thereare alternatives, namely, radical leftism.  If we could just expose the people to adifferent, fairer, and the better ideology of socialism, communism, etc., wecan realize that another world is possible, and the hegemony of capitalism canbe discarded just as the divine rights of king was once discarded as false consciousness.

It will be very difficultfor the masses to ever think outside of the capitalist-created ideology withoutmuch hard work by activists and leaders. But let’s show the people thatcapitalism is not the world.