Unemployment is (not) a Full-time Job
by Ilse Leide Krapfenbauer, August 2016
There are many scandals and injustices -for example, that wealth concentration in Austria and the EU is increasing. The gap between the rich and the middle class or working persons widens more and more. However, the debate is again about the “unemployed unwilling to work” instead of about the widening gap.
Much money could be spent for miserable jobs instead of investing in better training, better future perspectives, and better-trained employees.
In the 1930s, the great economist John Maynard Keynes dreamt of a time when his grandchildren would only work 15 hours a week. The digital world makes transformations possible so we could all be “cloud workers,” editors, aggregators, writers and translators.
All personal and corporate success depended on state investments in schools, roads, hospitals, community centers, airwaves, food safety, and water quality. The achievers’ myth ignores this, Austrian researcher Bruno Mossmann explains. The neoliberal redefinition of justice from sharing and distribution justice to rewarding achievers helps legitimate exploding inequality and tax injustice. John Kenneth Galbraith decried the public squalor alongside the private opulence.
MORE JUSTICE NEEDS MORE DEMOCRACY
By Prof. Jorg Reitzig
[This article published August 2, 2016, in Gegenblende 27/ 2016 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.gegenblende.de/37-2016/++co++09b9f4c0-5301-11e6-bbb0-52540088cada ]
The theme of social justice has a boom season – in politics, in the general public, and in cultural life. The SPD (Social democratic party in Germany that has wandered from Willy Brandt’s legacy) seeks to renew its basic values and follow Willy Brandt again: “Dare More Justice”  The Left Party (Die Linke) wants to be a motor for a “revolution of justice” . The Greens tried to sharpen their programmatic profile as a party of social justice with a Justice Congress in June. In 2016, the theme was popular at the Cannes film festival. The Golden palm for the best film went to the British director Ken Loach for his drama about a 59-year old worker who was unfit to work and had to fight for the state social benefits due to him. In his acceptance speech, Loach criticized the neoliberal austerity policy in Europe that plunges people into poverty while a few enriched themselves “in a shameful way” .
JUSTICE VERSUS INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM
Justice is a key term in debates over the social future because it gives fundamental orientation for cooperative human life. In its core, the question is what can be justified – in relation to conditions between people and their interest-oriented actions. The recognition of others and the realization that justice can not be reduced to rules codified as rights and laws are central. Justice always stands in a tension with individual freedom. The author Friedrich Durrenmatt once formulated: “There is a world of absolute freedom and a world of absolute justice. These two worlds do not coincide but oppose each other. Both could represent a hell, the world of absolute freedom a jungle (… ) and the world of absolute justice a prison (… )” …
and an article from July 2015
Tax Justice for Social Justice
by Martina Neuwirth and Thomas Kattnig https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/10/22/18779158.php
Every year states lose billions in tax revenues through the aggressive tax avoidance practices of international corporations. At the same time companies profit from public services whose financing is left to citizens. According to the EU commission, 1 trillion euros are lost every year from European public budgets through tax fraud and legal tax avoidance. $50 billion are smuggled out of Africa – more than the continent receives in developmental aid.
[This blog article published on July 9, 2015 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://blog.arbeit-wirtschaft.at.]
June 23 was the international day of public services. Did you know that? Provision of these services – water, hospitals, schools, culture, energy, streets, public transportation and a good administration – is important for all citizens along with a functioning state. But financing these services has become harder and harder! Every year states lose billions in tax revenues through the aggressive tax evasion practices of international corporations. At the same time corporations profit from these public services whose financing is left to the citizens.
DOES TAX BURDEN DETERMINE THE LOCATION DECISION? REALITY IS MORE COMPLEX
In the decision over location, many questions like public safety, medical services, training workers, independent legal systems, public transportation and a well-functioning administration play a crucial role. Therefore the tax tricks of Amazon, Google, Ikea and McDonalds trigger an international wave of indignation on account of their harmful effect on society.
In Austria, financing the planned wage tax reform is now controversial. This wage tax reform with a relief of five billion euros for employees is a massive rebellion against the austerity policy carried out almost religiously across Europe to increase purchasing power and stimulate the economy. In addition, a fair distribution of the tax burden is imperative. Our tax system favors international firms and the propertied. On the tax payments of US corporations, these corporations have paid between 1.8 and 9.4 percent of their profits to the treasury since 2005.
TAX FRAUD AND TAX AVOIDANCE OF BUSINESSES ON AN IMMENSE SCALE
1 trillion euros a year are missing from public European budgets through tax fraud and legal tax evasion according to the EU Commission’s estimate. This problem is not limited to Europe. Every year $50 billion are smuggled from Africa – more than the continent receives in development assistance. Over 60% of that involves tax flight and tax evasion of firms. This is possible through a global network of tax havens (like Luxemburg) and an industry of consulting businesses that tailor tax-saving models for their clients. An international tax system makes this first responsible and is to blame.
WHAT MUST BE DONE?
Finally, there are now measures against the tax-sparing profit-shifting practices of multinationals. Negotiations over these intrigues are occurring in the OECD, the “club of rich countries.” An expert function is only awarded to the UN. Past reform initiatives only scratched the surface. The self-interests of the OECD governments and the lobbying of big businesses and their tax adviser firms are simply too great. In the meantime, the tax competition between countries that makes global tax revenues fall again and again cannot be stopped.
For a just tax system, we need:
• Global solutions: All countries, even poor developing countries, must jointly craft global tax rules in the framework of the UN.
• More cooperation: the disastrous international tax competition must end.
• Taxation according to economic activity: international corporations with their complex impenetrable structures must be considered as a unity. Taxation must occur where the profits are actually amassed – and not where it is fiscally most advantageous. Therefore businesses in the future should show separate sales, profits and paid taxes for every country (national reporting). This information should be available to the public and not only to the tax authorities. Only this way can expenditures be scrutinized and special agreements between individual corporations and finance ministries at the expense of citizens (e.g. Luxemburg) stopped. In the past, only banks and mammoth raw material corporations had to make such information statements.
• More transparency: The automatic information exchange of tax authorities must be really global. Gaps promote tax loopholes. More information about international firms, a publically accessible business register – must be available to a broader public. The use of pseudo-constructions for tax evasion should be made difficult.
UN CONFERENCE AS A POSSIBLE “GLIMMER OF HOPE”
Unions and non-governmental organizations worldwide urge the conversion of these demands on the national, OECD-, EU- and UN planes. The next test case will be the UN development financing conference from July 13-15 in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). For months, UN member states have negotiated whether the formation of the international tax system should be left to the OECD or whether the UN would be better. However many industrial countries, especially the US, are strictly against the proposal of a UN tax organization. No agreement could be reached in the past. Will the UN states in Addis with the encouragement of the UN set the points for a fair international tax system deserving its name?
“Offshore Shell Games 2014,” Citizens for Tax Justice, June 2014, 56 pp
Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity.
Congress has left loopholes in our tax code that allow this tax avoidance, which forces ordinary Americans to make up the difference. Every dollar in taxes that corporations avoid by using tax havens must be balanced by higher taxes on individuals, cuts to public investments and public services, or increased federal debt.
Companies can avoid paying taxes by booking profits to a tax haven because U.S. tax laws allow them to defer paying U.S. taxes on profits they report are earned abroad until they “repatriate” the money to the United States. Corporations receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for the taxes they pay to foreign governments in order to avoid double taxation. Many U.S. companies game this system by using loopholes that let them disguise profits legitimately made in the U.S. as “foreign” profits earned by a subsidiary in a tax haven.
The video “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” could help us understand the balance of social justice and individual happiness. The state should represent the public interest and yet private or special interests are in the driver’s seat in privatization, deregulation, and liberalization of markets. Majority rule must be balanced by minority protection for the state to be legitimate.
The market is not a subject or a god/religion but an instrument – helpful after political questions are answered: What kind of country do we want? Don’t cooperation and competition depend on each other? What would our country look like if we followed O Canada and abolished Wall Street and the Pentagon and built community centers with casserole dinners, computer rooms, libraries etc.
Frederick von Hayek in his book “The Road to Serfdom” said helping others was serfdom. Thanks to market fundamentalists, we have a corporate government with govt of, for and by Goldman Sachs, corporate tax evaders, and beloved campaign donors! Nature becomes a free good, external or sink instead of our partner and foundation for future life!
According to a Polish proverb, you can make fish soup out of an aquarium but can’t make an aquarium out of fish soup. Future necessities, the rights of nature and the social contract are faded out by profit worship and short-term fixation. According to a Chinese proverb, the person who says it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt the one already doing it. The elite can’t seem to see the writing on the wall or hear the wake-up call. Aetna and United Health Care are leaving Obamacare next year after losing hundreds of millions. The Canadian single-payer health care was around 20 pages – unlike our 2000 page scheme.
Reading sample: The Digitalization of Labor by Patrick Stary, 2016 from chbeck.de
Robots and algorithms are ready to automate many activities like the manufacturing robot Baxter…
John Maynard Keynes dreamt of a future in which the work week of his grandchildren would be only 15 hours. Reducing working hours is the only way to guarantee everyone the right to work.
Technology and computerization enable a human future of cooperation and sharing if we can free ourselves of egoism, work fetishism,vulgar materialism, and hyper-individualism.
99-page report “Election Fraud” from Election Justice USA
author: Election Justice USA
Thanks to neoliberalism and the expansion of the financial sector, checks and balances have been eclipsed by revolving doors. Wall Street banks, hedge funds, and buyout artists recovered, not the poor or middle class. Wars become business opportunities with dubious justifications of protecting Israel, freedom, and human rights. As the psychologist Rainer Mausfeld explains, propaganda can make facts and alternatives disappear.
A 99-page report “Election Fraud” from Election Justice USA was released on July 31, 2016. This report includes information on lawsuits in five states: Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, New York and California.
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,”
By Mother Goose
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
The Clintons have a long history of deceit and cover-ups, pretending to be public servants while enriching themselves through corruption, racketeering, and insider trading, promoting war as a profitable business, and becoming wealthy through human misery and corporate deals. Hillary glories and boasts of Libya’s ruin and openly threatens Syria’s destruction. Dubious justifications include protecting Israel, freedom, and human rights. Libya is now run by militias. Honduras was the target of a coup and regime change. Syria is devastated with millions of refugees and dead children. Hillary repeated the George W. Bush lies about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction and even nuclear weapons. The candidate of the 1% no more deserves to be president than an arsonist deserves to be called a firefighter.
Orwell said war would become a domestic necessity to divert the people of Oceania from lies and economic contradiction. The former Nixon girl and Goldwater girl acts as a Republican enriching herself and confusing private and special interests with the public interest and corporate profit with the common good.
Besides voting for the Iraq invasion that cost $3 trillion and a million Iraqi lives, Hillary watched while Wal-Mart hid $76 billion of profits in the Cayman Islands tax haven. Are we living under Humpty Dumpty, “words mean what I say they mean”? In the Stockholm syndrome, victims come to love their abductors. Is this happening to the people of the US? Trump and Hillary are incompetent and corrupt and should be imprisoned for tax evasion and international crimes of war and imperialism. The media should have upended both of them with questions and probing investigations so that the American people would not be choosing between scurrilous and untrustworthy narcissists.
Choosing between Trump and Hillary is like choosing to share your bed with a cobra or a rattlesnake. Either way, you won’t get much sleep.
Hillary could add a few years to her life by giving all her support to Bernie or to Western Canada. Canadians are very generous and could help us solve campaign financing and the melting of the dollar if we gave them authority and become their protectorate. She would spare herself and the country myriad conflict of interest trials and suspicions. Did money from foreign countries fiancé her 2016 election campaign? Is the Clinton Foundation a money-laundering racketeering operation that profited from arms sales (over $310 billion) to 36 countries during her term in office as Secretary of State?
The week after the Democratic Convention is the right time for truth-telling and procedural justice. Fundraisers are not selfless public servants, lies are not truths and government is more than a slot machine for the super-rich in the United States of Amnesia!
The state should represent the public interest but special interests or private interests seem to be in the driver’s seat with privatization, deregulation, liberalized markets, speculation, tax havens, and corporate tax evasion. In “Escape from Freedom,” Erich Fromm explained that fear of the new and fear of the future can lead to authoritarianism.
The state of emergency is that arrangement by which totalitarian powers were established in Europe. The security state is neither part of the constitutional state nor what Michel Foucault called the disciplinary society.. The security state is permanently grounded on fear and must keep fear alive at any cost because it has its essential function and legitimacy from it… The three characteristics of the security state-maintaining a generalized state of anxiety, de-politization of citizens and renunciation on any legal certainty-should make us think. Here is a link to Giorgio Agamben’s article “From the Constitutional State to the Security State” published in Luxemburg 1/2016 in April 2016:
Will the future be open and dynamic or closed and static? Will the economy be part of life or a steamroller crushing self-determination and creativity? Will government react to computers, robots and software eliminating millions of jobs? Will all personal and corporate success be seen as dependent on state investment in roads, schools, hospitals, airwaves, food safety, water quality and community centers? Can we be cloud workers and story-tellers instead of cogs gazing at the stories of office buildings? Can the US become part of a multipolar world sharing power and closing most of its 700 military bases and becoming more secure?
We are now still ruled by the myths of the self-healing market, the invisible hand, markets returning to equilibrium and dishwashers becoming millionaires. The alternative to these myths is the social state and the interventionist Keynesian state. Public squalor exists alongside private opulence but countermeasures and community centers (as in Vancouver B.C.) can reverse exploding inequality, precarious work, one-dimensional economics, profit worship and destruction of nature.
Hope comes from outside the box, from the cultural shock of O Canada, from exchanging roles and intercultural learning and from the wonder of free internet books, movies and audio books at www.openculture.com.
How bizarre that Trump becomes an authority on trade and economic populism! The “non-issue” media seems like the Homo Oeconomicus, only interested in profit maximization even while cutting down the branch on which it sits. The corporate media subverts the will of the people by putting Trump at the head of Yahoo and Facebook most days and repressing or forgetting Bernie Sanders.
The parallel private arbitration system in the TPP, TTIP, and TiSA endangers democracy and the constitutional state by giving foreign investors special rights, allowing corporations to sue states and chilling the public sector and all labor and environmental protections if anticipated profits are threatened. When decisions are rendered in hotel rooms, the public is excluded and appeals are prohibited. Only the 600 corporate trade representatives read and discussed the documents.
Here are links to four new pamphlets on the TTIP from the German Union Alliance (DGB):
CETA and Labor Standards
CETA and Public Services
CETA and Democracy
CETA and privileged rights to sue states for corporations
Investor Rights Agreements are not trade agreements and governments that don’t allow agreements to be read by officials or the public should be shamed into economic democracy. Transparency should not be made a nonsense word. If it is made a nonsense word, public spirit vanishes along with trust between the generations. Suspicion takes the place of trust. The one who can complete a sentence becomes president!
Ulrich Thielemann, a Swiss-German critical economist, emphasizes profit making is different from profit maximizing which is even self-destructive and perverse. Life is full of paradox and scandal since it is ambivalent and dialectical. What is rational from a micro-economic perspective (e.g. competition) can be disastrous from a macro-economic perspective (e.g. countries upended by mass unemployment). Thielemann wrote the article “Studying Economics Today is Like Brainwashing” and pleads for pluralist economics and economic ethics. An Austrian Economist Nicholas Krowall insists that profits explode while investments stagnate in late stage capitalism.
The state has a public nature though private interests often seem in the driver’s seat with privatization, deregulation, liberalized markets, tax havens and tax evasion. Bill Moyers grieves that the state has become an “errand boy” for the banks. Wall Street banks have three times as many lobbyists as there are political representatives and spent billions in the last decade to prevail in Congress. The corporate share in federal revenue has fallen from 40% in the 1960s to 8% or 9% today according to www.foreffectivegov.org.
The 159-page eBook anthology “Alternative Economics: Reversing Stagnation” is available from Smashwords.com. There is even a 50% discount for July! The appendix “Myths of the Economy” explains 29 state myths, labor myths, business myths and social myths. Enjoy the feast! 725 free movies are ours on www.openculture.com. 800 of my translations await you at www.freembtranslations.net. Don’t become listless or oblivious as neoliberal economic darkness becomes bipartisan!
Neoliberalism sets corporate profit above labor and environmental protection. The poor and unemployed are blamed for their misery. Problems are ascribed to government intervention and regulation since the market is held to be self-healing and sacrosanct raising all boats and leading ultimately to equilibrium. Corporations have rights without responsibilities and normalize tax evasion and tax havens as “business as usual.” The injustices and darkness in our taxation, investment and forever war policies are ignored or repressed as an “envy debate.”
The security state is a perversion of the constitutional state marked by generalized anxiety, apolitical people and susceptibility to rightwing myths. The state should represent the public interest and yet special interests seem to be in the driver’s seat with privatization, deregulation, liberalized markets, financial speculation, tax havens and corporate tax evasion. In the 1960s the corporate share in federal revenue was 40% and now is only 8% or 9% (cf. www.foreffectivegov.org). The state has become the “errand boy” of the banks (Bill Moyers).
Finance capitalism is an inequality machine, French economist Thomas Piketty explains in his best-selling “Capital in the 21st Century.” Simplistic solutions address symptoms and ignore causes, systemic and structural criticism. The Walton family has more wealth than 40% of Americans. The top 1% have more wealth than 99%. Tax havens, corporate tax evasion and neoliberal mythology are causes of exploding inequality.
Our society becomes a mirror of corporate feudalism where the luck of wealthy parents determines access to education. In Orwellian doublespeak, corporations are called people and money is called free speech. Corporations have rights and not responsibilities. All personal and corporate achievement was based on state investment in roads, schools, hospitals, water quality, food safety, air waves and community centers and nevertheless the “state evil business good” mantra resounds.
Thanks Bernie for running an “issues based” and “justice first” campaign, for emphasizing the social contract and MLK’s revolution of a “person-oriented” society instead of a “think-oriented society! Thanks Bernie for focusing on the injustices and darkness in our taxation, investment, and forever war policies! Thanks Bernie for being a truth-teller and pleading for the social interest and long-term necessities instead of special interests! Thanks Bernie for trying to bring our country into the 21st century and resisting the despair and hopelessness of corporate feudalism!
Hillary said “It’s time to think of Iraq as a business opportunity.” Yesterday or today according to a clip on Facebook, Obama campaigning said “there has never been a more qualified man or woman who ran for President in America’s history than Hillary.” Didn’t he ever hear of FDR? Do modesty and truth-telling fall by the wayside for hucksters obsessed with winning at any price?
Trump is not the first to do away with comedy. The neoliberal system, oligarchy, plutocracy, vulgar materialism, instrumental rationality, narcissism, nihilism, xenophobia, homophobia and war mongering can undermine truth-telling and love of life. Language and democracy are threatened by Newspeak as George Orwell warned.
Secret trade agreements, drone warfare, selective perception and bright-sided thinking (cf. Barbara Ehrenreich) lead people to be non-voters. The super-wealthy including the Clintons, Obama, the Bushes, and King Midas can live in a claustrophobic 2-inch world when they make criticism and alternatives into taboo realities.
Culture shock and critical thinking can open new worlds. To the instrumental rationalist or vulgar materialist, only what puts money in his pocket is real. System theory and theory in general explore how changing assumptions changes world views.
725 free movies, 700 free eBooks and 450 free audio books (including “1984”) are ours on www.openculture.com. Enjoy the feast! How can you be “hard-nosed” with 725 free movies?