Monday, October 30, 2017

The age we're living in

Friday, Ann noted this Tweet:

The rich buy off politicians, who rig the system so the rich get richer and can buy off more politicians... And now:

Jill Stein's Tweet linked to Rupert Neate Wealth's GUARDIAN report which opened:

The world’s super-rich hold the greatest concentration of wealth since the US Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th century, when families like the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts controlled vast fortunes.
Billionaires increased their combined global wealth by almost a fifth last year to a record $6tn (£4.5tn) – more than twice the GDP of the UK. There are now 1,542 dollar billionaires across the world, after 145 multi-millionaires saw their wealth tick over into nine-zero fortunes last year, according to the UBS / PwC Billionaires report.

Ann observed:

The saddest thing about this new gilded age?

Most people won't even admit to it.

You can expect the robber (barons) to refuse to admit it, but so many of the people being robbed won't even admit to what's happening.

It is happening.

And so many outlets are failing to talk about this reality.

There is so much happening because of this age of corruption.

Never one to stay silent, Glen Ford (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) explains:

U.S. rulers also have grand plans -- not for raising domestic or global living standards, but for war. As servants of the Lords of Capital, both corporate political parties promise their citizenry nothing but austerity. The political hegemony of the oligarchs is so complete -- especially since the Clinton years in the White House -- the very idea of governmental intervention on the side of the non-rich has become foreign to much of the public, including the Black political class. Corporate media define “left” and “right” based mainly on so-called “social,” non-economic issues, as if the argument over economic justice has already been settled -- in the oligarchs’ favor.
The people’s representatives grovel at the feet of the rich, begging for crumbs that might fall from on high. As of last week, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world with a net worth of $90 billion, has received 238 proposals from local governments across North America begging for a chance to host a second headquarters for his Seattle-based corporation. Nearly every city worthy of name recognition, and some you’ve never heard of, has positioned itself booty-up for Bezos and the prospect of 50,000 jobs. The only states from which no applications have been received are North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, Arkansas and Hawaii.
Bezos is an extortionist. Amazon has already gotten more than $1 billion in local and state subsidies for its warehouse centers around the country, where workers are paid 15 percent less , on average, than other warehouses in the region. According to a recent study, Amazon’s business model has destroyed nearly 150,000 more jobs in retail stores than have been created in its warehouses. 

Evan Blake (WSWS) just reported:

On Friday morning, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos awoke in one of his luxurious mansions nearly $7 billion richer, after Amazon stock rose more than 8 percent as a result of a strong third quarter earnings report released Thursday. Over the course of trading Friday, Amazon’s stock value continued to rise, finishing roughly 13 percent higher than the day before, propelling Bezos’ wealth by $10.4 billion and making him the world’s richest person. His net worth now stands at $93.8 billion, a solid $5.1 billion ahead of Bill Gates.
The grotesque enrichment of capitalists such as Bezos expresses the profoundly unequal character of the capitalist system. While Bezos “earned” nearly $7 billion practically in his sleep, tens of thousands of Amazon warehouse workers around the world assigned to graveyard shifts labored under sweatshop conditions, gearing up for the “peak season” of high volume sales during the upcoming holidays.
It would take the average Amazon warehouse worker in the US earning $12 per hour roughly 416,667 years to earn as much money as Bezos did in less than 24 hours. Or, to put if differently, Bezos reportedly made more money in a single day than his entire global warehouse workforce of over 300,000 employees earns in a year.
In a rational society organized along socialist principles, the wealth funneled to Bezos would instead be put to use for the benefit of society as a whole. With $10.4 billion, clean water and sanitation could be provided to the entire world’s population, roughly 40 percent of which lacks access to these basic human necessities.
The real source of Bezos’ wealth stems from exploiting the labor of his workers, who are currently facing intense speed-up and exploitation as Amazon begins stocking up its warehouses prior to the Cyber Monday and Christmas holidays. The company is engaged in a hiring frenzy of thousands of part-time and temporary workers, many of whom will be fired around the start of the new year.

Last week, Dean Baker (COUNTERPUNCH) observed:

The United States pays more than twice as much per person for health care as other wealthy countries. We tend to blame the high prices on things like drugs and medical equipment, in part because the price tag for many life-saving drugs is less than half the U.S. price in Canada or Europe.
But an unavoidable part of the high cost of U.S. health care is how much we pay doctors — twice as much on average as physicians in other wealthy countries. Because our doctors are paid, on average, more than $250,000 a year (even after malpractice insurance and other expenses), and more than 900,000 doctors in the country, that means we pay an extra $100 billion a year in doctor salaries. That works out to more than $700 per U.S. household per year. We can think of this as a kind of doctors’ tax.
Doctors and other highly paid professionals stand out in this respect. Our autoworkers and retail clerks do not in general earn more than their counterparts in other wealthy countries.

We're in the period where the center cannot hold, to quote Yeats.

Not for long anyway.

How many people will be caught by surprise?

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