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Retribution Against the Financial Elite!

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I don't claim to have any original ideas. I look to lob info-grenades whilst ''standing on the shoulders of giants''. I try not to cultivate an inflated sense of my own opinions. You want to talk about Leo, hc, flip ... take it to them. When you say - ''I have no idea'' above - that was the unfettered and simple truth but you do like to use the 'first person singular' a lot son't you ? I'm bored, hungry and tired so will slap you upside again tomorrow when I may or may not open your links or come across your twaddle and gobbledygook again. G'night & be a good Dog to go look for your Zen.

vale ...

Thread: "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20479) from South Burlington, VT 10 minutes ago

Name these ''Libertarians

how about we start with you. Have you ever introduced anything original yourself? All I've ever seen you do is provide links offsite - which anyone could do and certainly serve to cement your cover, but I've never seen anything of your own.

Just cheering and appeals to solidarity.

empty platitudes is all I hear. I confess, they did teach you well at the libertarian charm school.

Then there's flippster who may, or may not, be the same poster as hc -

and hc has himself confessed to using multiple ids - talk about liars - and he has a whole box of socks whose whole purpose is the push of right wing libertarian bullshit.

And then there is trashy macaque who also has an entire box of socks whose whole intent was the utter destuction of this website in the early days. Looking around I have to say the efforts were quite successful.

Leo might be a genuine leftist - not sure. IF so, he has a nasty habit of bringing material conducive to right wing aspirations to the fore. I don't care for that. Then again, he could simply be an academic who knows very well which side of the bread gets the butter . . . . I have no idea.

No doubt you will next assert I am some sort of shill myself. Let me put that matter to rest immediately. I am exactly who I say I am. No more, no less. One id. No one pays for my opinion. My opinions do not serve as cover for some other agenda.

Subversion of the Dominant Paradigm is and must be the central objective. There does remain the issue of definition and of method.

Do not confuse me with the kind of hypocrite who will condemn U.S. military intervention on the one hand while giving a pass to military intervention by others no second thought.

Name these ''Libertarians'' and I'll name the DNC plants !!! Wanna play ?!! Keep your ''pessimism'' to yourself and if you can't educate or agitate or encourage '99% Organisation' .. then STFU you stupid, reactionary mthrfkr !!! Your final bombastic flourish sure sounds like 'Yank Libertarian' b-s to me, btw.

To paraphrase Dennis Kucinich questioning Neel Kashkari at some Senate hearings ; 'I don't question your ''commitment'' .. it's who you are 'committed' for - that I question'. Now as per The 99%, consider :

multum in parvo ...

Thread: "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20479) from South Burlington, VT 38 minutes ago
  1. if the libertarian co-option evident on this very website is any measure to go by, then I would suggest that a substantial dose of pessimism certainly is in order.

  2. If the isolationists are correct, if OTPOR or if the International Repelican Institute or some other similar amalgam of U.S. corporate money and intelligence expertise has indeed inspired the flight of the last Ukrainian President to Russia . . . then as I said . . .

    • a substantial dose of pessimism certainly is in order.

But make no mistake, mutherfuker

I do not advocate concession under any circumstances. Do not misconstrue any reluctance in evidence on my part as a lack of commitment -

  • even if I die today, I will live as a free man.

Boring, conservative and anti-OWS scumbag !!! You need to be taken to the Vet !! And have your testicles re-implanted ! Here's what OWS is all about mthrfkr :

veritas vos liberabit ...

Shameless Hitlary Tit Suckler !!!

She'll be the next the POTUS ffs !!

So - you reckon OWS should fold ?!

nosce te ipsum ...

Thread: "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20479) from South Burlington, VT 52 minutes ago

what'd I say? oh yeah . . .

  1. Hillary is not currently in the Senate and therefore progressive hopes would not loose a seat in the Senate with her election.

  2. Sanders is not a member of the dem party and would not be perceived as the titular head of the party - even were he to join the party for the purpose of debate during campaign - and thus he would begin with a deficit in terms of political capital

  3. One of the principle duties of President is as Commander in Chief and over foreign policy - to be effective on either score does, as I see it, demand significant softening up among the various sources of influence surrounding either obligation. Among the military/intel community that would require the elimination - purge - of conservative elements, most especially those with the capability to influence elections.

    • There is also the . . . banking cartel . . . and their entire web of influence, which requires some very real and significant curbs before someone like the Senator can be realistically expected to call for and implement foreign policy in a way that reflects the principles, values and integrity for which he is known.

A victory by Hillary Clinton, with proper preparation before hand, could indeed facilitate a purge of some significance and thus lay the groundwork 8 to 12 years out for some real progressive leadership - assuming of course that Global Warming hasn't placed constraints that hinder such a projected social trajectory.

We would of course need to identify those personnel and procedural changes that must be implemented to produce such a purge and we would need to see to it the former Secretary accepted these proposals prior to our endorsement, and then of course we would of necessity need to deliver.

A tall order but not entirely out of the question.

EDIT:

One likely selling point is the certainty, provided by the roadmap such procedural and personnel changes suggests, of retribution by the former Secretary - the mere prospect should strike fear deep in the hearts of her - and our - enemies.

.

that's what I said. and I vote for Senator Sanders.



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . UKIPified Little Englander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Thread: Start a Social Movement in Your Library
[-] 1 points by ApexPredator (8) 1 hour ago

It abbregates the mind. The cacophony of sound. The devil’s making. The surprise of attack. President ex-Bush… Rice said she didn’t know what he was talking about. Hubris: Read it. So, we go to the dentist. And I recover my teeth… What am I looking at? Is it the end of money? I begin to grimace. I have no friends to do this for me. And the army marches forward. Bush walked smartly up to the booth. Inexorable nonsense. Revenge is futile, he said to me. And took the walk. It made no appearance of the devil. It murks over to the other side. I am shaking to my death, he said to me. We hear shuddering voices. I shiver on my death, he says to me. A shout louder than hell. Who was this man? That took Iraq so hard apart? A nail in the ground. So, we take * God apart. He says to me… “I beg for liberty.”

So, Bush got away with it. I need the site to know that something is planned. I guess Bush got away with it. We need a writer to come out with the truth of it. Iraq was a farce. It needs to be very closely watched.

Thread: The After Party: You Coming?
[-] 4 points by shadz66 (17985) 1 hour ago

So jart, do you actually identify with The 99% ?! Never mind the pretty colours here (btw, consider that 'orange on yellow and sky blue on white' is NOT enough contrast and is painful on the eyes, imho) & .. either you or Grim & White need to get a grip on this forum, imo !! Furthermore, Dr. Margaret Flowers' commitment to The 99% Struggle is NOT in question I suggest !!!

Get over yourself sister, swallow your ego and .. you know - ''do no evil'' & ZD's comment has value ~{;-)

pax et lux ...

The Shadow Dark

A Parallax view: To be prepared. A man sits on a bench he moves from it. Sensing danger. The restroom closes. We are all fed…

(He disappears.) It is a town I guess. From where I am from… Where I want to be. But, how does anybody know this… in town?

They seek the young in the park. To teach him new things. I keep my money steady.

I am told to go home, from a far off voice. The man from the bench, siting down.

I am used to drugs in my life. Drugs, that do not make sense to me.

My habits are ruined from this.

I’m out for the duration.

We think abut the suicide one. We go to the park. We breathe. We search for air. They search us as prisoners of time. I have to partisan. And split myself open. Where will I rest? It is too late for me to learn anything new. I go into that dream again. Of spoilt minds, and partisan groups.

We are made of money. To much suicide. We are disbelievers in faith. I find myself rooted to the spot. My heaviness, all beside myself. How do I recover my beauty?

Go again. I go back down to the park again. Root in hand. Go again. It is no surprise we are demons here. Go again. I begin to fall apart. I need to heal myself, in a shouted cry.

Go again, to health and wisdom. People speak from religious bibles. That is not wisdom. To be wise and otherwise. It just weakens the senses.

God speaks reverse.

I rest. Because I do not know what else to do. There are too many cigarette companies in this country. They say to smoke, but be dangerous about it. What is recoverable but air. And my head is on fire.

It is our best chance for… So, I try to change my body. So I bake in the sun. So I bake in the sun. I am too turgid to develop a new sense of being.

I took psych-tropic pills, and was able to control my mind. A lot of people have to do this. So, how do I control my destiny? I wait for it to die in me.

''One solution'' ! ''Massive amounts of bloodshed'' !! Anyone else would have been banned for such idiot comments, you violent, gun-obsessed half-wit !!! Another Yank lone-nut who has no fkn idea of The 99%

fiat lux ; fiat justitia ; fiat pax ...

Yo, SchizoDog ! Leo is sharing information but maybe it appears to Leo, me & others that it sounds like ''you are advocating a state of conditioned helplessness'' !! You certianly DO NOT ''reject'' that !!! Proof ?

ipse dixit ...

Thread: "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
[-] 1 points by ZenDog (20479) from South Burlington, VT 1 hour ago

YO

LEO

You sound like you are advocating a state of conditioned helplessness and that is a state that I flatly reject.

People educated to be rocket scientists come up with the formulas that run Wall Street. Wall Street has their culture of being unaccountable.

We're already there.

Thread: "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
[-] 2 points by ZenDog (20479) from South Burlington, VT 2 hours ago

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."

I'm sure you are quite right. There is but one solution: massive amounts of bloodshed until such time as we do, indeed, secure our freedom.

Thread: Autism Nation: America's Chemical Brain Drain
[-] 1 points by LeoYo (4916) 2 hours ago

In December 2013, the European Food Safety Authority ruled that the controversial pesticides linked to declines in bee populations, the neonicotinamides, may adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structures in unborn babies.

Adult neurologic diseases like Parkinson's and an acceleration of cognitive decline are more common in adults with even modest exposure to "legal" pesticides (11, 12). Adults with high levels of DDT metabolites are four times more like to have Alzheimer's (13).

In May 2007, 200 of the world's foremost pediatricians, toxicologists, epidemiologists and environmental scientists at a worldwide conference issued this warning, "Given the ubiquitous exposure to many environmental toxicants, there needs to be renewed efforts to prevent harm. Such prevention should not await detailed evidence on individual hazards. ... Toxic exposures to chemical pollutants during these windows of increased susceptibility can cause disease and disability in childhood and across the entire span of human life."

The scientists explained that exposure to common chemicals skewed the development of critical organs in fetuses and newborns, increasing their chances of developing diabetes, cancer, attention deficit disorders, thyroid damage, diminished fertility, and other conditions in later life.

In October 2013, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, representing well over 50,000 physicians and other health-care professionals, issued a joint statement: "Patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course." On their website they stated further that, "Reproductive and health problems associated with exposure to toxic environmental agents: Miscarriage and stillbirth, Impaired fetal growth and low birth weight, Preterm birth, Childhood cancers, Birth defects, Cognitive/intellectual impairment, Thyroid problems."

The Standing Committee of European Doctors - which brings together the continent's top physicians' bodies, including the British Medical Association, stated, "Chemical pollution represents a serious threat to children, and to Man's survival."

In June 2009, the Endocrine Society, comprised of 14,000 hormone researchers and medical specialists in more than 100 countries, warned that "even infinitesimally low levels of exposure [to endocrine-disrupting chemicals] - indeed, any level of exposure at all - may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window. Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than higher doses." And in November 2009, the American Medical Association Board of Delegates approved a resolution that called on the federal government to minimize the public's exposure to BPA and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The measure was advanced by the Endocrine Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Tracking 163 chemicals, 99 percent of pregnant women tested positive for at least 43 different chemicals.

Americans are exposed to over 83,000 industrial chemicals as part of modern civilization. Virtually all pregnant women are walking chemical repositories. Tracking 163 chemicals, 99 percent of pregnant women tested positive for at least 43 different chemicals (14).

Other studies show that the average newborn enters the world on day one "pre-polluted," harboring hundreds of chemicals and heavy metals acquired during intrauterine life, and many of those undoubtedly reach the brain during critical windows of embryonic development. None of those chemicals enhance the natural process of brain maturation; many of them are known to be toxic to neurons and brain tissue.

With alarming, and still rising, rates of autism and behavioral disorders in the US, public health officials and politicians should be running around with their hair on fire determined to find out exactly what is happening and why, and most importantly how to stop it. But the current American aversion to holding powerful industries accountable for anything makes it virtually certain that regulatory agencies will continue to turn a blind eye to most, if not all, of the likely environmental triggers of autism. The tragic decline in America's collective intellectual prowess, and the chemical assault on our children's brains, are spiraling toward catastrophe.

Notes:

  1. Rauh V, Arunajadai S, Horton M, Perera F, Hoepner L, Barr DB, et al. 2011. Seven-Year Neurodevelopmental Scores and Prenatal Exposure to Chlorpyrifos, a Common Agricultural Pesticide. Environ Health Perspect 119:1196-1201.

  2. Bouchard M, Chevrier J, Harley K, Kogut K, Vedar M, Calderon N, Trujillo C, Johnson C, Bradman A, Barr D, Eskenazi B. Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides and IQ in 7-Year Old Children. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1003185

  3. Engel S, et al. Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphates, Paraoxonase 1, and Cognitive Development in Childhood. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1003183

  4. Horton M, et al. Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Piperonyl Butoxide and Permethrin on 36-Month Neurodevelopment. Pediatrics 2011; 127:3 e699-e706; doi:10.1542/peds.2010-0133

  5. Horton M, Kahn L, Perera F, Barr D, Rauh V. Does the home environment and the sex of the child modify the adverse effects of prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos on child working memory? Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.ntt.2012.07.004

  6. Rauh V, et al. Brain anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide. PNAS 2012 109 (20) 7871-7876; published ahead of print April 30, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1203396109

  7. Oulhote Y, Bouchard M, Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate and Pyrethroid Pesticides and Behavioral Problems in Canadian Children Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1306667

  8. Ostrea EM, et al. 2011. Fetal exposure to propoxur and abnormal child neurodevelopment at two years of age. Neurotoxicology.

  9. Greenop K, Peters S, Bailey H, et al. Exposure to pesticides and the risk of childhood brain tumors. Cancer Causes & Control. April 2013

  10. Kimura-Kuroda J, Komuta Y, Kuroda Y, Hayashi M, Kawano H (2012) Nicotine-Like Effects of the Neonicotinoid Insecticides Acetamiprid and Imidacloprid on Cerebellar Neurons from Neonatal Rats. PLoS ONE 7(2): e32432. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.003243

  11. Pezzoli G, Cereda E. "Exposure to pesticides or solvents and risk of Parkinson disease" Neurology 2013; 80: 2035-2041.

  12. Ross S, McManus IC, Harrison V, Mason O. Neurobehavioral problems following low-level exposure to organophosphate pesticides: a systematic and meta-analytic review. Critical Reviews in Toxicology, Ahead of Print : Pages 1-24 (doi: 10.3109/10408444.2012.738645)

  13. Jason R. Richardson, PhD1,2; Ananya Roy, ScD2; Stuart L. Shalat, ScD1,2; Richard T. von Stein, PhD2; Muhammad M. Hossain, PhD1,2; Brian Buckley, PhD2; Marla Gearing, PhD4; Allan I. Levey, MD, PhD3; Dwight C. German, PhD5 Elevated Serum Pesticide Levels and Risk for Alzheimer Disease JAMA Neurol. Published online January 27, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.6030

  14. Tracey J. Woodruff, Ami R. Zota, Jackie M. Schwartz. Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the US: NHANES 2003-2004. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002727

Copyright, Truthout.

Thinking Big: The Global Minimum Wage

Thursday, 24 April 2014 09:57
By David L. Wilson, Truthout | Op-Ed

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/23273-thinking-big-the-global-minimum-wage

Let's finally get globalization to work for people and begin - perhaps with anti-sweatshop campaigns - to organize for a global minimum wage.

After years of neglect, the minimum wage has suddenly become a major national issue. President Obama has proposed an increase in the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, fast food workers are agitating for $15, and candidates who back a higher wage floor, including an avowed socialist in Seattle, are winning local elections. In February, the retailer Gap Inc. announced that it was implementing a nationwide minimum wage for 65,000 of its own 90,000 employees (although only $9 an hour).

The minimum wage is an important issue in other countries as well, although we rarely hear about these cases.

● Thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers took to the streets last September, blocking roads and setting factories on fire as they demanded an increase of the monthly minimum wage to about $104.

● Haitian workers staged a two-day walkout from Port-au-Prince's apparel plants in December, shutting down the country's assembly sector as part of a continuing struggle for a minimum of $12 a day.

● Hundreds of thousands of apparel workers went on strike at the end of December in Cambodia around a call for a monthly minimum of $160. At least five people were shot dead on Jan. 3 when police attacked a massive workers' protest; this was the first time Cambodian police had fired into a crowd since 1997.

A Use for the WTO?

For workers in Bangladesh, Haiti, and Cambodia there's one hurdle that most of us don't face here: if they win, they stand a good chance of losing their jobs.

The combination of neoliberal trade agreements and technical advances in transport and communications has made it easy for garment manufacturers and retailers to move production from one country to another. "(L)arge multinational companies systematically search the globe for the most advantageous conditions for their production facilities," British journalist and activist Tansy Hoskins wrote in The Business of Fashion in January. "(I)f factors like rising wages or the expansion of unions threaten profits, companies can simply source their labor elsewhere. For workers, this constant threat of replacement makes fighting for higher standards risky because if things do shift, companies just up and leave for other locations."

For Hoskins, the author of the recently released Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, the solution is obvious: Remove the incentive to relocate to countries with lower wages. If the apparel industry can globalize production, the producers need to be able to globalize the minimum wage.

The idea may seem startling, but it's hardly new. A number of respected economists and analysts have made similar proposals: Muhammad Yunus, the winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize; Thomas Palley, a fellow at the DC-based New America Foundation; and London School of Economics lecturer Jason Hickel. The Asia Floor Wage Alliance, an umbrella group for unions and labor rights activists, is already looking at ways to implement an international minimum living wage for garment workers.

The proposal presents technical difficulties, but they aren't insurmountable. A minimum wage that would work across different countries could be based on a certain percentage of each country's median wage, or on the minimum cost of the basic needs of an average family in each country. Establishing a global minimum wage would require a high level of international cooperation, but governments have managed to cooperate on trade agreements that benefit multinationals - why not on an agreement that benefits people?

Contacted by email, Hoskins suggested that the system could be organized by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which she said "would be a better use of its time, rather than forcing countries into devastating structural adjustment programs."

An Awareness-Raising Tool

In any case, a push for a global minimum would have important benefits long before the wage itself could become a reality. "The campaign would be a powerful educational and awareness-raising tool," according to Bjorn Skorpen Claeson, a former grassroots anti-sweatshop organizer from Maine who is now a senior policy analyst at the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), a DC-based nonprofit that has played a leading role in fighting sweatshop conditions. "It would place workers from different parts of the world side by side," he wrote when asked for his appraisal, "and help us make connections to each other and to institutions and decisions that impact all of our lives."

The apparel industry would be an obvious place to start. Garment workers are on the move in several parts of the Global South, and people here have become more aware of the issues as a consequence of the series of factory disasters in Bangladesh that culminated in the April 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza outside Dhaka, with a toll of 1,133 deaths.

"I think there is currently a strong desire among citizens in advanced capitalist countries for clothes not based on severe exploitation and poverty wages," Hoskins says. "People are looking for solutions for poverty that are not those of the dead end of individualized shopping choices. Arguing for a global minimum wage is a way of showing that there is something that can be done to alleviate poverty and that it is not a natural state of affairs."

The potential for a campaign is especially strong in the United States, and not just because the minimum wage is finally getting attention here. Until the last few decades, this country was a major apparel producer. The jobs now outsourced to the Global South used to pay the US minimum or more to workers in New York and Los Angeles. The same neoliberal globalization that has condemned Bangladeshis, Haitians and Cambodians to "dark satanic mills" has left people here scrambling for part-time positions at McDonald's, or other jobs that can't be shipped abroad.

Posing the Question

The ILRF's Claeson warns that "with such a wide scope the campaign would have to creatively define achievable victories along the way towards a global minimum wage. I think any social movement has to be sustained by victories, concrete achievements for the people who put their energy, creativity, and resources into the work."

One approach would be to build on existing anti-sweatshop campaigns. Last November, apparel manufacturers Gildan and Fruit of the Loom responded to pressure from Haitian, Canadian and US activists by announcing that they would require their suppliers in Port-au-Prince to pay at least Haiti's legal minimum wage. Activists could extend this partial victory by pushing the two companies to back a higher minimum in Haiti and make the same pledge for other countries. Gap Inc. would be another good target. The company may generate some good publicity by raising the minimum for its workers here, but will it do the same for workers in Bangladesh, where Gap contracts with nearly 80 factories? This demand would directly link the struggles of South Asian apparel workers with those of retail workers in the United States.

And what about the politicians and commentators who claim sweatshop labor is a motor for economic development in countries like Haiti? Up to now these assertions have gotten a free ride in the US media. Suppose activists challenged people like New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton to back a global minimum wage: posing the question would start the process of changing the public debate, just as activists' questions and demands have brought the national minimum wage to the forefront.

April 24 marks the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, one of the worst industrial disasters in all of history. The multinationals think big, and they think globally. Can we really do less for the people who make our clothes?

Copyright, Truthout.

Thread: American Democracy No Longer Works
[-] 1 points by LeoYo (4916) 2 hours ago

Affirmative Action Ruling Will Further Racial Inequality

Thursday, 24 April 2014 10:48
By Anton Woronczuk, The Real News Network | Video Report

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23278-affirmative-action-ruling-will-further-racial-inequality

More at The Real News

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BHGHkG6vqQ&feature=player_embedded

Bruce Dixon: The Supreme Court decision furthers institutional advantages of whites under the guise of colorblindness.

TRANSCRIPT:

ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.

The Supreme Court has upheld a ban on affirmative action in admission policies at the University of Michigan. The decision was made on space six-to-two vote and adds Michigan to seven other states who ban race as a factor in college admissions.

Here to discuss this is Bruce Dixon. Bruce is the managing editor of the Black Agenda Report.

Thanks for joining us, Bruce.

BRUCE DIXON, MANAGING EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Thanks for inviting me.

WORONCZUK: So, Bruce, let's put this in the history of recent Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action policies and racial inequality.

DIXON: Well, what the Supreme Court has done here is a couple of things. On the one hand, they've done a sort of 21st-century Plessy v. Ferguson on this. Plessy v. Ferguson, of course, was the decision more than 100 years ago now that ratified and made legal segregation in all kinds of public places and conveyances.

And as a result of these decisions that we've got here, the military and corporations are going to be free to retain their affirmative action programs, because, of course, the military needs black admirals and black generals. They're all over Africa and they're all over the Third World, invading things and subverting things. Corporations have to sell their goods and steal the resources of oil and timber and whatnot around the world, so they too need black and brown and women's faces. But in all the institutions that are directly accountable to white American voters, the Supreme Court has enabled those institutions to set aside affirmative action programs and to continue to give whites preferential treatment as long as they can do it under the guise of color blindness. And in that way they've made this a political football. And so they can pretend that they're just succumbing to the will of the people. But, of course, when we're talking about social forces that are already in motion, already in play, neutrality is choosing a side too.

WORONCZUK: Now, let me read you a quotation from Sonia Sotomayor's dissent. She wrote, quote, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination."

So how has this history of discrimination in the U.S. prevented students of color and minorities from having access to things like higher education?

DIXON: Our ruling class and our nativeborn [racists] here have proved very genius at devising ways to privilege white people and to punish minorities in the realm of education. We've got standardized tests, which purport to measure student achievement or IQ or whatever but almost invariably favor students from families with higher incomes. We've got the tests that firemen and policemen are given around the country, and especially with fire departments around the country. Fire stations have been a haven for working-class white men to get privileged jobs and to maintain these preferences generation after generation, even after the cities around them have turned a majority black and Latino. So there are just endless numbers of ways to subvert any attempts at equality.

And the Supreme Court and the rest of the U.S. establishment has embraced the hypocritical notion that race-conscious remedies to racism are racism themselves or something that they call reverse racism. So the Supreme Court has just embraced that entire corrupt piece of reasoning and made this a political football and made anything that's accessible to white voters immune from claims of racial justice and claims that it ought to be dealt out equally.

WORONCZUK: Now, I've read in response to the decision that some have argued that we need to move away from race-based policies and, affirmative action and more towards class and income-based forms of affirmative action, basically arguing that it's class and not race that's the determining factor here. What would you say in response to that argument?

DIXON: That would have a lot of merit if race were not so awfully and totally intertwined with class, as it is in the United States. Race is often a stand-in for class, and sometimes class is a stand-in for race. And the people who say that, the forces who say that, are definitely not advocates of the right of lower-class black people to get people public educations. You know. So this is just totally hypocritical and a way to avoid accountability for racial discrimination. It's also a totally hypocritical construct to suppose that race-based memories to discrimination are racism themselves, but it is a hypocritical construct that a large portion of the white American polity has embraced. So be it.

WORONCZUK: Bruce Dixon, managing editor of Black Agenda Report. Thank you so much for joining us.

DIXON: Thank you for having me.

WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

Thread: The Mind of Breitbart
[-] 2 points by nazihunter (670) 2 hours ago

I meant worse, not 'worth' sorry.

Thread: American Democracy No Longer Works
[-] 1 points by LeoYo (4916) 2 hours ago

Privatized Suffering

Thursday, 24 April 2014 10:14
By John Steppling, John Steppling's Blog | Op-Ed

"And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him."

-Karl Marx

"Dehumanization, which marks not only those whose humanity has been stolen, but also (though in a different way) those who have stolen it, is a distortion of the vocation of becoming more fully human. This distortion occurs within history; but it is not an histori­cal vocation. Indeed, to admit of dehumanization as an historical vocation would lead either to cynicism or total despair".

-Paulo Freire

I have been thinking on the way the vast majority of the U.S., at least the majority of white and educated (even if badly) people seem unable to think in any terms but those of the most simplistic and reductive. I am always, for example, stunned that ANYONE, could feel anything but repulsion toward Hillary Clinton. From her earliest days as a Goldwater girl, to young and only semi competent lawyer in Little Rock where she defended utility companies and Coca Cola, to her final grotesque incarnation as assassin. Her gleefull cackling on CBS TV when the topic of assassination came up is among the more chilling public displays of inapproprate visible sadism in US political history. And still...and still, the ogre marches on and in her toxic wake swim countless female voters shrieking defense of 'bad ass Hillary'. Now, is this just the product of watching TV news, and news-tainment, and Hollywood film and TV? I think largely it is. But there are other things at work.

There is a race divide I suspect (I've not looked at poll numbers) with regard to Hillary. There is something lurking within the Hillary phenomenon that links directly to white quasi-feminism, the sort that never gives a thought to the mothers and daughters in Iraq or Syria, or Haiti or Venezuela. The narrative of U.S. politicians as war criminals is suppressed. It is, effectively, censored. A culture now tells itself stories about conquest, and revenge. Revenge even for small offenses. And those who extract revenge are applauded. I used Hillary Clinton to start a discussion of this topic because she is obviously an emotionally unwell person. I remember how George Bush pere used to have that strange habit of de-linking what he was saying from his gestures. If he were saying come here, he would be waving goodbye. Hillary has something like that in her the odd cadences of her extemporaneous speech. Her laughter (cackle) is never timed right, as if these laughs and smiles were spasms of some sort, not genuine amusement. But that American politicians are pathological should be fairly obvious, and yet it is not. John Kerry? John McCain? Susan Rice? Joe Biden? Obama? Tom Coburn and Mario Rubio?. Step back and look at these figures as human beings. They look unwell. Not physically sick, but emotionally. They look actually insane.

One of the more surprising things encountered in day to day life is how so many Americans retain a default belief in institutional authority. In other words, the tendency is for people to believe what they are told, if the voice is institutional, or already a voice of authority. The sense that, well, its the New York Times, they couldn't just, you know, lie. Where does this come from? This belief in authority. In institutions. One might say, well, most people who have to work learn quickly to distrust their superiors. Yet that logic rarely extends to elected officials, even if, in a seperate conversation those same people will say, oh, well, all politicians lie. There are these wide compartmentalized belief systems, and they dont interface. The narratives of power, in news, in Hollywood, are about structural integrity. If someone does something corrupt, they will be punished. Eventually. Still, often the idea of punishment is not the driving force behind these narratives. It is the pleasure of identification with power. If, if if only I could powerful one day! So on the one hand, a populace cynically expresses how corrupt politicians are, and at the same moment defend the greatness of their country, will go vote for Hillary, or Mitt, or whoever, and will argue until blue in the face why Kerry is better than Bush, or Obama better than Mitt. How do these contradictions co-exist? Well, part of it is the distance now created between the images on screens, on computers, plasma tv, movie theatres, and iPhone, etc. That is one world. A world in which a narrative is played out. The real world (sic), the non screen world, is one of shopping and branding and lifestyle choices. On the screens, "important" political figures do important political things. They burn up brown people, saving them. They burn up black and yellow people, to save them. The arrest poor people, to protect society. They lead the backward people of Africa, and Asia and South America toward prosperity. And now, of Eastern Europe, and in these global screen narratives crowds will appear. Crowds only appear to fight oppression!! Cheer the crowd. Cheer cheer. I will support their right to fight oppression. What does it mean to say "support"? Means little more than I will watch this crowd more than that crowd, on one of my screens. At home. At home where I have shopped wisely to create an effective brand-of-self.

Gilbert Mercier wrote recently:

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/23276-privatized-suffering

How Do We End Plutocracy?

Now that we know we live in a plutocracy – a government ruled by the richest people – with only a false veneer of democracy, not a legitimate government where the people rule, what do we do about it?

The reality that the government has no democratic legitimacy is liberating. Our civil resistance, sit-ins, marches, protests and disobedience of their authority should escalate. At the same time, our efforts to build alternative democratic institutions where we can participate in decision making should also increase. From the community level up we now know we need to build institutions that are legitimate, i.e. that ensure our participation in deciding our future.

We essentially have to remake society, or as President Lincoln said in Gettysburg in 1863 we need “a new birth of freedom.” Lincoln thought we needed to ensure that a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” did “not perish from the earth.” In fact, our task is different – we need to create a government that is of, by and for the people; and we need to do so from the ground up, requiring transformation of the role of people in the economy and government.

Jerome Roos writes in ROAR Magazine that finding the US is not a real democracy is not the real issue. The real issue is “an even thornier question: what if oligarchy, as opposed to democracy, is actually the natural political form in capitalist society? What if the capitalist state is by its very definition an oligarchic form of government? If that’s the case, the authors have merely proved the obvious: that the United States is a thoroughly capitalist society.”

This question is not just the opinion of a European radical, Thomas Edsall writing in The New York Times in reviewing Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, points out that this powerful book makes the point that an expanding wealth divide is the inevitable result of capitalism, and that this creates a conflict with democracy. The book is being described as a watershed for economics, because it demonstrates how the profit of capital exceeds the rate of economic growth. This means a forever expanding wealth divide, unless we do something to change course.

What kind of economy would be consistent with a democracy where the people ruled? In our view, economic democracy where people have ownership of their workplaces, participate in the management of land and resources, as well as share the wealth created more equitably, would be consistent with a government that is of, by and for the people. As we’ve reported in previous articles we see signs of a new economy based on economic democracy growing in the nation. See our website, It’s Our Economy, for more on this issue.

In fact, the history of the United States shows that cooperatives and communal workplaces have been a consistent part of our economy from before our founding. It has always been tied to other movements like the American Revolution, abolition of slavery, women’s rights, worker rights and civil rights – even if the history books do not tell this narrative. You could say it is part of our genetic make-up. Now, we are seeing economic democratic institutions being formed as people share knowledge about how to create them.

Rootstrikers, puts forward a view held by many of us, “the corrupting influence of money in politics is the most fundamental threat to our civil rights this century.” Their view is that “people must recognize that corruption is not just one among many important problems. Corruption is the root problem that makes solving the others so difficult.” It is only the “people who can force lasting change on this broken system.”

And, what kinds of changes in government are needed to end the rule of the richest and empower the people? There are constitutional changes that are needed, whether this is done by amendments or by redrafting the constitution is too soon to say. An essential starting point is the agenda of Move To Amend. They call for a constitutional amendment to establish that: (1) money is not speech and (2) human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. These changes would reverse a string of Supreme Court decisions ending with Citizens United and McCutcheon and allow the people to demand that Congress change the way elections are financed, limit or even ban electoral donations and keep corporations out of politics. After-all the Constitution says ‘we the people’ not ‘we the corporations.’

But, there are other shortcomings in the 227 year old US Constitution. For example there is no right to vote in the Constitution, there are no equal rights recognized for all people, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not recognized, nor are the rights of nature.

And, rights which are recognized are being weakened. For example, our Freedom of Speech and Press, as well as Assembly have been weakened by court decisions minimizing them and police practices abusing them. They can be strengthened by recognizing our right to information and right to communicate with others. People need the right to express themselves publicly on a broad range of politically relevant subjects without fear of punishment. This will protect access to the Internet, or whatever communication tools are developed, as well as protect whistleblowers providing the information we need in order to participate in self-rule.

These changes can only be made by a mass movement that builds from the bottom up. It requires us to work in our own communities to put in place economic institutions that are democratic as well as political institutions like community assembles that are participatory in their exercise of democracy. It requires us to build an independent citizen’s media so people do not have to rely on concentrated corporate media’s propagandistic reporting. It requires us to say out loud that the US government has lost its democratic legitimacy.

This week, CBS News demonstrated once again that a top priority must be to build our own citizen media. CBS hired a former CIA director, Mike Morell as their senior security analyst, even though Morell has already made false, inaccurate and inflammatory statements on the air. Similarly, the new Washington Post owner garnered a contract with the CIA larger than the amount he paid to buy the Post.

A lot of this is already happening but none of it has matured or reached the critical mass needed. As more people awaken to the reality of the depth of corruption in our government and economy, and the mirage of US democracy, the movement will grow and the demands will get stronger.

The Roman philosopher and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero said “Freedom is participation in power.” It is time for the American awakening that ensures we achieve the participation in power that is consistent with our inalienable rights as human beings. That is the task we face. Building the movement to achieve it will be one of the great transformations in human history.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

The Impact: The Status Quo Reigns

The actions of the illegitimate, corrupt government adversely impact every aspect of our lives. In order to protect the status quo the government takes extreme anti-democratic measures to keep the public uninformed about what they are doing so they can push the agenda of transnational corporations and the wealthiest.

A current example is the Trans Pacific Partnership, this trade agreement has been negotiated in secret for more than four years except for 600 corporate advisers who help write the agreement. The media and public have only seen leaked portions and Congress has to jump through hoops to see it and because the TPP is classified as a secret, they cannot discuss it with their staff or constituents. Now, Obama is pushing to fast track it through Congress with little congressional oversight and while stalled because of citizen pressure, both parties want to find a way to pass fast track. Can anything be more anti-democratic than a secret negotiation, with virtually no congressional review on an agreement that will affect every aspect of our lives and change numerous domestic laws? European nations may not even be able to protect themselves from NSA spying because of trade agreements.

On issue after issue, the American people want change but they get the status quo. There are so many examples. The choreographed political battle over healthcare is one; the US did not end up with change, we ended up with a healthcare system dominated by the insurance industry expanding the neoliberal model of healthcare designed for investors not patients. Despite the industry being among the most hated by Americans, the Affordable Care Act further entrenched its domination of healthcare. Americans were even forced to buy this hated product.

On energy, polls have shown people want a clean energy economy, want subsidies to big oil and nuclear energy ended, but instead they get the opposite. When people protest against pipelines, fracking, coal, off-shore oil and nuclear energy what do they get? They get more pipelines, fracking, coal, off-shore oil and nuclear energy and they get infiltrated and arrested for trying to get the government to respond to their demands.

And, this extreme extraction is directly tied to climate change. The most recent IPCC report shows that if we act now, we can minimize the impact of climate and do so inexpensively – but will the status quo powers that profit from climate change-causing energy allow the government to do what is necessary?

On banking, when the people want bankers to be held accountable, oppose bailing out the big banks when their derivative gambles fail and want transparency in the private corporation known as the Federal Reserve, we get minimal regulation, no criminal prosecutions, expansion of the big banks and minimal audit of the Fed.

These are just a few examples of many. A lot could be written about college tuition, corporatization of education, housing bubbles, lack of GMO labeling and more.

And, the lack of legitimacy is also highlighted by the lawlessness of the government. The soon-to-be-released (at least in part) CIA torture report is already showing through leaks that, among other things, the CIA had black-site torture centers around the world, lied to the Congress and American people about what they were doing and continued torturing despite its failure to protect the country. Despite the seriousness of the crime of torture under both domestic and international law, the only person to go to jail for torture was John Kiriakou who exposed it. Is this how a legitimate government behaves?

We also see the lawlessness approach to government in the dragnet surveillance program of the NSA. Does the Fourth Amendment mean nothing to the illegitimate government? Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, after being threatened by politicians and pundits with arrest, refused to be cowered by threats and returned to the United States this week and were not arrested. Instead, they came back to receive multiple awards, including the Pulitizer. All of these journalism awards show how out of step the US security state is with the thinking of journalists and is a vindication for Edward Snowden.

But, journalism is threatened. As Chelsea Manning’s appellate lawyers pointed out this week, the fact that Manning was convicted under the Espionage Act without being shown to have any intent to commit espionage puts all journalism at risk. The media better join in helping Manning challenge this issue on appeal or critical reporting will risk an espionage conviction.

Control of the government by big business and the wealthy means we get policies designed to enrich the already wealthy at the expense of the poor, working and middle classes. It means an expanding wealth divide and increasing poverty; a smaller share of profit going to workers while corporations make record profits; and destruction of the planet while a few profit from fracked gas, tar sands, nuclear energy and oil.

Fighting for a Legitimate Democracy, By and For the People

Thursday, 24 April 2014 12:50
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers , Popular Resistance | News Analysis

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23283-fighting-for-a-legitimate-democracy-by-and-for-the-people

Two weeks ago in reaction to the McCutcheon decision we touched on an issue that will become central to our movement: Has the democratic legitimacy of the US government been lost?

We raised this issue by quoting a Supreme Court Justice, former US president and a sitting US Senator:

“The legitimacy of the US government is now in question. By illegitimate we mean it is ruled by the 1%, not a democracy ‘of, by and for the people.’ The US has become a carefully designed plutocracy that creates laws to favor the few. As Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissenting opinion, American law is now ‘incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy.’ Or, as former president, Jimmy Carter said on July 16, 2013 “America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy.”

“Even members of Congress admit there is a problem. Long before the McCutcheon decision Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) described the impact of the big banks on the government saying: ‘They own the place.’ We have moved into an era of a predatory form of capitalism rooted in big finance where profits are more important than people’s needs or protection of the planet.”

The legitimacy of the US government derives from rule by the people. If the US government has lost its democratic legitimacy, what does that mean? What is the impact? And, what is our responsibility in these circumstances?

We can go back to the founding document of this nation, the Declaration of Independence for guidance. This revolutionary document begins by noting all humans are born with “inalienable rights” and explains “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted” and that government derives its “powers from the consent of the governed.” Further, when the government “becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government….”

After we wrote about the lost democratic legitimacy of the United States, this new academic study, which will be published in Perspectives on Politics, revealed that a review of a unique data set of 1,779 policy issues found:

“In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

And, this was not the only study to reach this conclusion this week. Another study published in the Political Research Quarterly found that only the rich get represented in the US senate. The researchers studied the voting records of senators in five Congresses and found the Senators were consistently aligned with their wealthiest constituents and lower-class constituents never appeared to influence the Senators’ voting behavior. This oligarchic tendency was even truer when the senate was controlled by Democrats.

Large Majorities of Americans Do Not Rule

Let the enormity of the finding sink in – “the majority does not rule” and “even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

Now, for many of us this is not news, but to have an academic study document it by looking at 1,779 policy issues and empirically proving the lack of democratic legitimacy, is a major step forward for people understanding what is really happening in the United States and what we must do.

Before the occupy movement began we published an article, We Stand With the Majority, that showed super majorities of the American people consistently support the following agenda:

  • Tax the rich and corporations

  • End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending

  • Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security and provide improved Medicare to everyone in the United States

  • End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests

  • Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation

  • Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs and raise wages

  • Get money out of politics

While there was over 60% support for each item on this agenda, the supposed ‘representatives’ of the people were taking the opposite approach on each issue. On September 18, the day after OWS began we followed up with a second article dealing with additional issues that showed, the American people would rule better than the political and economic elites.

While many Americans think that the government representing wealthy interests is new, in fact it goes back to the founding of the country. Historian Charles Beard wrote in the early 1900’s that the chief aim of the authors of the U.S. Constitution was to protect private property, favoring the economic interests of wealthy merchants and plantation owners rather than the interests of the majority of Americans who were small farmers, laborers, and craft workers.

The person who is credited with being the primary author of the Constitution, James Madison, believed that the primary goal of government is “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” He recognized that “if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure.” As a result of these oligarchic views, only 6% of the US population was originally given the right to vote. And, the first chief justice of the US Supreme Court, John Jay believed that “those who own the country ought to govern it.”

This resulted in the wealth of the nation being concentrated among a small percentage of the population and their wealth being created by slaves and other low-paid workers who had no political participation in government. The many creating wealth for the few has continued throughout US history through sweat shops, child labor and now, poverty workers, like those at the nation’s largest employer, Walmart. By putting property ahead of human rights, the Constitution put in place a predatory economic system of wealth creation.

In fact, Sheldon Wolin describes the Constitutional Convention as blocking the colonists desire for democracy, as economic elites “organize[d] a counter-revolution aimed at institutionalizing a counterforce to challenge the prevailing decentralized system of thirteen sovereign states in which some state legislatures were controlled by ‘popular’ forces.” The Constitution was written “to minimize the direct expression of a popular will” and block the “American demos.” (For more see our article, Lifting the Veil of Mirage Democracy in the United States.)

In many respects, since the founding, the people of the United States have been working to democratize the United States. Gradually, the right to vote expanded to include all adults, direct election of US Senators was added as a constitutional amendment but these changes do not mean we have a real democracy. The work is not done. The legitimacy of people ruling has not been achieved.

While we have the right to vote, our carefully managed elections consistently give Americans a choice of candidates approved by the wealthiest; and through campaign financing, media coverage, ballot access, managing who participates in debates and other means, the ruling elite ensure an outcome that will not challenge the power of the wealthiest Americans and the country’s biggest businesses.

This week, Nomi Prins, a former managing partner at Goldman Sachs wrote about the long history of how the nation’s biggest bankers have controlled presidents throughout the last century. She writes: “With so much power in the hands of an elite few, America operates more as a plutocracy on behalf of the upper caste than a democracy or a republic. Voters are caught in the crossfire of two political parties vying to run Washington in a manner that benefits the banking caste, regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican is sitting in the Oval.”

In many respects, our task is to complete the American Revolution and create a real democracy where the people rule through fair elections of representatives and there is increased direct and participatory democracy.

Ivy League Study Says the General Public Has Virtually No Influence on Policy

Thursday, 24 April 2014 11:13
By Anton Woronczuk, The Real News Network | Video Report

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23282-ivy-league-study-says-the-general-public-has-virtually-no-influence-on-policy

More at The Real News

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5So9ZFO5DeY

Benjamin Page says that the analysis he conducted with Martin Giles of public opinion surveys and elite policy preferences of the last 20 years shows economic elites virtually determine governmental policy.

TRANSCRIPT:

ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.

A new study titled "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" says what we've all long felt to be true: the rich and powerful have much greater influence than the rest of us. Political scientist Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern looked at about 1,800 survey questions of public opinion between 1981 and 2002, and they concluded, quote, economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.

Now joining us to discuss the report is one of its authors, Benjamin Pages. Benjamin is a professor of political science at Northwestern University.

Thank you for joining us, Benjamin.

BENJAMIN PAGE, FULCHER PROF. OF DECISION MAKING, NORTHWESTERN UNIV.: Thank you.

WORONCZUK: So, Benjamin, tell us how you came to this conclusion. Tell us about the data that you looked at. And give us some concrete statistics to show that democracy gap between the public and the economic elites.

PAGE: Well, Marty Gilens and his people worked for about ten years to do this. It's a very difficult study. You described it a bit. It involved gathering a lot of information about public opinion, about what affluent people think, and about what interest groups stand for. And we then looked and how public policy came out on these 1,800 cases. And it turns out, if you wanted to predict it, the average citizen simply appeared to have no influence whatsoever, no measurable influence, but organized groups had quite a bit, and affluent citizens even more.

WORONCZUK: So you looked at about two decades' worth of surveys of public opinion. Do you see a change in influence of economic elites over that time? Or is it relatively constant? And also, do you see a change in the kinds of elites that have influence over policy?

PAGE: Well, there appears to be some change over time. As economic inequality has increased and there's more money among the most wealthy people, they seem to use more of it for politics and have more influence. And, of course, the study data ended some time ago. This was before the Supreme Court decisions that increased the power of money still for further.

WORONCZUK: And so what kind of issues do we see the wealthy having a greater influence over? What kind of policy choices do they seek that differs from that of the desires of the public?

PAGE: Well, there are certain kinds of issues on which wealthy Americans tend to disagree quite a bit with the average. One of the biggest is Social Security, where the average American really likes the program, wants to increase it, and wealthy Americans tend to want to cut it to reduce budget deficits. Then there are a lot of policies that have to do with jobs and incomes where you get the same kind of situation--the wealthy people, of course, don't particularly get anything from those, and I think they may underappreciate their importance to average people. There are also disagreements about economic regulation. The average American's much more keen on regulating big corporations, for example. And there are difference about tax policy. The average American would like to close loopholes and have high-income people pay a substantially larger share, whereas upper income people are less enthusiastic about that.

WORONCZUK: Do you see any policy desires of the public or the economic elite that tend to converge?

PAGE: Yes. There are many of them, and particularly in this study. [incompr.] affluent [incompr.] things were just moderately affluent people, the top 10 or 20 percent or so, and the differences are not enormous. So in many cases, the average person agrees and they get what they want, but apparently it's only because the affluent want it.

What we suspect but don't really have evidence for is that much wealthier people may be exerting most of that political influence. And they tend to have much more different policy preferences from the average person.

WORONCZUK: Okay. So judging this democracy gap that exists between the public and the economic elite, let's say that Obama called you tomorrow and put you on economic reform task force. What recommendations would you make to him?

PAGE: Well, I would do better on a political reform task force, I think. And what I would suggest is that we really work hard to reduce the role of money in politics. The Supreme Court's made it a little harder, but there's still things you can do--full disclosure of all kinds of political donations, for example; limiting lobbying; and probably public financing of campaigns. Most people don't want to give a bunch of tax money to politicians, but the alternative is to have them rely on private money, and public funding would probably help quite a bit reduce that reliance.

WORONCZUK: Okay. Professor Benjamin Page, thank you so much for coming on to discuss your report.

PAGE: Thank you very much.

WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

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