Tag Archives | Austerity

Chicago’s Austerity Mayor Might’ve Won, But A Progressive Movement Is Percolating

2015_4_9Garcia

Garcia giving his concession speech (photo by Aaron Cynic).

The race for Chicago mayor has wider implications than just how the nation’s third largest city will govern itself for the next four years. The city has long been a testing ground for disastrous “free market” reforms in education and home to many other privatization schemes, which only grew larger under Rahm Emanuel. While another four years with him as mayor could push this agenda forward, the recent electoral race has helped coalesce what could be a powerful movement of resistance.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

During the last four years in office, many have criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s imperial-like qualities. Between his “Mayor 1%” moniker, his style of legislating by press release along with a City Council that voted with him nearly 100 percent of the time, Emanuel garnered a reputation for running Chicago like a king, rather than a mayor.… Read the rest

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How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Buchheit analyzes privatization at Common Dreams:

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.” 

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000% 

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

We don’t hear much of that anymore. The public-minded sentiment of the 1950s, with the sense of wartime cooperation still in the minds of researchers and innovators, has yielded to the neoliberal winner-take-all business model.

In his most recent exposé of the health care industry in the U.S., Steve Brill notes that it’s “the only industry in which technological advances have increased costs instead of lowering them.” An investigation of fourteen private hospitals by National Nurses United found that they realized a 1,000% markup on their total costs, four times that of public hospitals. Other sources have found that private health insurance administrative costs are 5 to 6 times higher than Medicare administrative costs.… Read the rest

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Fed Up With Austerity Policies, #Blockupy Storms Streets of Frankfurt

"Capitalism Kills" via @blockupy.

“Capitalism Kills” via @blockupy.

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Anti-austerity protests boiled over near the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt on Wednesday, with hundreds of people arrested after an off-shoot from an otherwise peaceful march clashed with police.

Around 10,000 anti-austerity protesters reportedly gathered under the banner of #Blockupy—an alliance united against the so-called ‘Troika’ of the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund who oversee bailout packages in the eurozone. The alliance opposes the economic policies behind such packages, saying they harm the poor and middle class.

According to the German news service Deutsche Welle, the Blockupy network “is composed of more than 90 organizations from across Europe—some big, some small—that have united in opposition to what Blockupy calls ‘the European crisis regime’.”

As Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday:

Some of the bigger member organizations include the activist groups Attac, founded in 1998 to advocate a financial transaction tax; the German political party ‘Die Linke’ (The Left), which currently has a little over ten percent of the seats in the national parliament; and even Germany’s second biggest union union, Verdi, which has over two million members.

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People as Livestock: The Cult of Fundamentalist Materialism and the Cheapening Life

Moyan Brenn (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Moyan Brenn (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Dan Mage, writing at OpEdNews, from 2011:

I first encountered the term “Fundamentalist-Materialism” in the work of Robert Anton Wilson; it appears in several of his non-fiction works, including “The Cosmic Triggger” series. As far as I know R.A.W. was the originator of this philosophical designation.”

 Is there any inherent value to an individual human life? 

Authoritarians of the left, libertarians of the right, objectivists, conservatives and even liberals and progressives fixated on “jobs” and “rehabilitation” of the socioeconomically dysfunctional give the answer “no; ” sometimes directly (as in the case of the Stalinist and the American conservative) and other times through actions, policies, and preferences (as in the case of elements of the “occupation” movement distancing themselves from “homeless bums,” “drug users,” and “ex-cons”).

Most of all, those with the power to set wages, prices, working conditions and societal expectation for those who have nothing left but their time and “docile bodies”*(Foucault) to sell, control and trade in human lives as commodities.

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The Oxymoron of Peace

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“Five centuries of European colonialism and global culture-trashing, and the remaking of the world in the economic interests of competing empires, cannot be undone by a single institution and a cluster of lofty ideals.”

Robert C. Koehler writes at Common Dreams:

“At the same time, values and ideas which were considered universal, such as cooperation, mutual aid, international social justice and peace as an encompassing paradigm are also becoming irrelevant.”

Maybe this piercing observation by Roberto Savio, founder of the news agency Inter Press Service, is the cruelest cut of all. Geopolitically speaking, hope — the official kind, represented, say, by the United Nations in 1945 — feels fainter than I can remember. “We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war . . .”

I mean, it was never real. Five centuries of European colonialism and global culture-trashing, and the remaking of the world in the economic interests of competing empires, cannot be undone by a single institution and a cluster of lofty ideals.

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Thatcher’s Legacy: Austerity and the Attack on the Poor and Vulnerable

Mob

Via orwellwasright:

If there’s one thing the British government and its media mouthpieces can rely on it’s a general public who are quite happy to spread their propaganda for them – not since the riots of 2011 have I witnessed such a degree of slavish, unthinking  repetition of falsehoods and lies as can be seen on forums and social media networks in response to the recent wave of cuts to the welfare system. This feeling of despair at the gullibility of the general public was compounded by the response by many to the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher; the gushing eulogies and beautification of a woman who supported brutal dictators such as Pol Pot and Idonesia’s General Suharto, while decimating British industry. It’s as if people have lost the ability to think for themselves, finding comfort in a patently false narrative which blames the victims of savage austerity while simultaneously ignoring or excusing the crimes of the rich and powerful.… Read the rest

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Anti-Austerity March Hoped To Be The Biggest Protest In U.K. History

Organizers of the largest protest in history to this point, the 2003 march against the invasion of Iraq, are among those hopping to orchestrate a watershed moment for the global movement against austerity, writes the Independent:

The new “People’s Assembly Against Austerity” will march through London on 22 June, and, with the help of the Stop The War Coalition, intends to break that group’s record for the largest public rally in the nation’s history. The group claims it will be “an alternative democratic forum to a Parliament that has failed the people it is supposed to represent.” It will be, they hope “the launch-pad for mass resistance to austerity”.

Green Party Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas, Labour’s Katy Clark, Director of Executive Policy at the Unite trade union Steve Turner, head of the National Union of Teachers Kevin Courtney, comedian and disabled activist Francesca Martinez, as well as Independent columnists Owen Jones and Mark Steel, are the figureheads of a group they hope will appeal to anyone against austerity, regardless of background.

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The Military Industrial Complex Stimulus Program is Undeterred

Is there a panic on the Potomac?  The Congress has turned into a wailing wall just to hear all the moans about threatened cuts in what is patriotically known as our Defense budget.

Never mind that many of the cuts were ordered from above because the people at the top know how much they have to slash given all the waste, planned obsolescence and other waste they can afford to trim before they cut the bone or some hostile force can bring us to our knees.

The people who experience the reality up close and personal know that the public is being defrauded on almost every level.

Listen to Sgt. 1st Class Robert Zlotow from Fort Riley, Kan. who had the guts to send this letter to Army Times.

“I nearly spit out my dinner when I read your headline “Fighting through austerity” (March 4).

Even with these “evil” and “scary” cuts factored in, the defense budget will still rise every year in the foreseeable future.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the projected defense budget will still go from $593 billion in fiscal year 2014 to $702 billion in 2023, even if this sequester is allowed to stand.

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