Against the Rent Madness and For a Nonprofit Orientation!
by Andre Holm, Tony Krebs, and Leo Mayer, September 21, 2018
The Alternative Housing Summit on Sept 21 inBerlin discussed alternatives to the market-based housing policy. Exploding rents and lack of affordable housing are the most burning social questions and drive people to the streets.
Most private market actors stay away from affordable housing because of the growing profit expectations of investors rather than the high construction costs. The extensive privatizations of the last 15 years contributed to a market radicalization. Privatization was the door-opener for the growing financial market logics in the housing supply.
The development of a nonprofit sector offers a necessary and possible alternative since the market fails and the state cannot extensively socialize the housing supply. This requires nothing less than the breach with the profit logic in the area of housing supply!
More market is not the solution! Housing for People, not for Profits!
Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy
by Philipp Staab, WiSO 15/2018
The financialization of the economy and the rise of the commercial Internet are directly connected… At the beginning of the digital economy, as Marianna Mazzucato and others showed, was an investing state that took over the installment financing for the large majority of base innovations of digitalization as an initial risk capitalist. Financialization describes the change of the capital accumulation model.
Philipp Staab is a sociologist and teaches macro-sociology at the University of Kassel.
The Dictatorship of Corporations
by Thilo Bode, 2018, a reading summary of his new book
Why do the majority of politicians so often make decisions against the public interest and in favor of industry? A new quality of lobbyism arose on account of the dramatically stronger market- and financial power of companies.
I sound the alarm. The power relations in our society are shifting endangering democracy, the market economy, our self-determination, and our freedom. “A great setback…
Wall Street won; normal persons are losers” admitted the head of the CFBB.
The world isn’t running after CocaCola, rock-n-roll and financial products as in the pre-2008 days. The unipolar days have given way to the multi-polar days. Where is the discussion of Plan B? Are we headed back to the 11th century and to corporate feudalism?
Myriad full-time and part-time jobs are possible with digital or Internat capitalism. Civil society must be enlivened to reverse the trend to plutocracy and disempowerment.
Reduced working hours lead to better long-term health and more time sovereignty. Shriveling the financial sector and expanding the public sector should be lessons from the 2008 meltdown. Redistribution and regulation are vital in a world where infinite growth is impossible and the state must represent the public interest!
$18 trillion was infused in “too-big-to-fail” banks in the 2008 financial meltdown. In the first eight months of 2018, corporations spent more than $460 billion buying back their own stock (cf. The Real World Economic Review). The lack of affordable housing represents a market failure. A non-profit housing sector would be an alternative to market failure and state complicity. Owners of capital are not the only ones with enforceable rights.
more at www.citizen.org, www.onthecommons.org, www.therealnews.com, www.politicalcartoons.com, and www.grin.com
NEW EBOOK “ALTERNATIVE ECONOMICS: REVERSING STAGNATION” EDITED BY MARC BATKO, ONLY $3.99, 216 PP
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Mainstream market-radical economic theory has led to exploding inequality, cynicism and resignation and has no answers to mass unemployment, growing precarity, global warming and the rights of nature. The time is right for alternative economics, for economics that is part of life, not a steamroller crushing creativity and self-determination.
The market is not self-healing or a panacea but a necessary and helpful instrument after political questions are answered: what kind of society do we want? How can public necessities remain public? How can people be active participative citizens and not mere cogs in the machine? How can nature be protected and nurtured and not trivialized as a free good, external or sink?
Alternative economics is a vital corrective to market radicalism and neoliberalism with unfettered deregulation, privatization and liberalization of markets. While neoliberal mythology insists higher profits bring more jobs and greater investments, profits soar and investments fall by the wayside.
NEW EBOOK “POVERTY RETURNS WITH MISGUIDED POLICY” BY FRANZ SEGBERS, ONLY $2.99
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Poverty Returns with Misguided Policy by Franz Segbers
“Poverty Returns with Misguided Policy” by the professor and social theologian Franz Segbers is a 77-page plea for rethinking and re-prioritizing people over profit in economic policy. For 45 years, neoliberalism has used deregulation, privatization and liberalized markets or speculation to enrich the owners of capital and reduce the tax obligations of corporations. To avert the collapse of the financial sector in the 2008 financial crisis, $18 trillion was pumped into “too-big-to-fail” banks. In the first eight months of 2018, the bailed out banks have invested over $460 billion in buying back their own stock. Profits have soared while investments have stagnated. Redistribution from top to bottom and alternative economics including reducing working hours are imperative to reverse the exploding inequality and precarious work. The financial markets should be shriveled and the public sector expanded.
“Poverty is returning. That must be our first discovery when we speak about poverty in Germany. Once it was fought and became a marginal problem. Why is it returning? For a long while, there was the firm belief that life goes forward and we live in an elevator society. Our children will be better off. That was the motto when I was growing up. This picture of the elevator society where everyone would be prosperous is not reality any more. Everyone is not on an upward course any more. The picture has turned upside down. While some are going upward, others are going downward. A Lord’s Prayer society has replaced the elevator society. The formerly secure middle class at its outskirts has long been eroding. Children with good education can not find good jobs and work their way from one trainee-ship to the next and one temporary job to the next.”
Franz Segbers, born August 8, 1949 in Gelsenkirchen, is a German theologian. He studied catholic theology, pedagogy and the social sciences at the University of Munster. He was a social or industrial pastor in Frankfurt up to 1985. Out of protest against the repression of liberation theology, he withdrew from the Roman Catholic Church in 1986. He was a professor of social ethics at the Philipps-University in Marburg from 2004. He has urged a just distribution of paid work and is a shining example of social enlightenment and progressive theology. His website offers scores of essays, lectures and books.
Segbers is engaged in the struggle against neoliberal globalization and works with Marxist categories in a theological criticism of capitalism as a religion. The future of work and globalization on the background of Christian social ethics are two of his research interests.
Poverty Returns with Misguided Policy
Work and Human Rights
Forgive us our Debts
Democracy and the Social State
Capitalism as a Religion
Capitalism in the Faith Crisis
The Great Ecumene against Capitalism
Social Justice and the Sacred Nature of the Person
Prof. Segbers will be ecstatic to have English readers!
NEW EBOOK “PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE ECONOMIC CRISIS: FROM OBSCURISTAN TO ABSURDISTAN” BY Marc Batko $2.99
“Education is the great transformer, said the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith. The truth will set us free but the truth is a process, not a cudgel. Truth must well up within us and cannot be imposed or decreed from the outside. The event of understanding is a fusion of horizons, said Hans Georg Gadamer, where prejudice and misunderstanding give way to enlightenment and new life.
I wrote these essays to share the philosophical and theological wonderment which is part of our common collective legacy. Franz Kafka said words could be an ax to crack the frozen soul. Plato warned that people in the allegory “The Cave” could mistake image and reality and then chase critics or the enlightened out of town. Dostoevsky said people would surrender their freedom to the Grand Inquisitor for his promise of happiness. Rousseau said people were born free and are everywhere in chains. In “Escape from Freedom,” the social psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said people were susceptible to the authoritarian temptation because of the natural fear of the new and the fear of the unknown. He focused on the social and economic entrapments that allow neoliberal totalitarianism to be “without an alternative.”
Philosophy’s challenge is to provoke conventional wisdom, myths and fairy-tales that lead individually and collectively into a two-inch world with false securities and generalized self-righteousness, drunken coachmen and a system that is allegedly not responsible. In his poem “The Egg,” Gunter Grass said we were born in an egg and our life project is to break the shell. As antibodies are part of our bodies, resistance is part of our nature. “It is not he or she or them or it that you belong to,” said Bob Dylan.”
Here is a little gift from Real World Economics Review:
Utopia and the Exhaustion of the Center
by David Riccio, Aug 31, 2018 rwer
Habermas’s view is that society has been reoriented away from the concept of labor toward that of communication, which requires a different way of “linking up with the utopian tradition.” The alternative approach would be to rethink the concept of labor in terms of class and analyze the ways in which the forces of capital that were supposed to be regulated and contained by the social welfare state were left with both the interest and means to undo those regulations. And it’s the center that put itself in the position of responding to and representing the progressive dismantling of the economic side of the social welfare state—in deregulating finance, pursuing globalization, and helping to unleash new digital technologies. The result was, not surprisingly, the growth of obscene levels of inequality, increasing precariousness for large parts of the working-class, and finally the crisis that broke out in 2008, which has led not only to economic but also political breakdown.
However, as Shenker correctly observes, “the breakdown of any political order can be both emancipatory and revanchist.” And it now falls to the Left to reharness and reinvigorate the utopian impulses and energies that the center has squandered in order to chart a path forward.
*The English-language translation of Habermas’s article, “The New Obscurity: The Crisis of the Welfare State and the Exhaustion of Utopian Energies,” was first published in Philosophy & Social Criticism. T
Tom Tomorrow – Confirmation hearing highlights – Sept 10- kos
Is the Financial Crash 2.0 Coming?
by Isabelle Bourboulon, 2018, vsa-verlag.de
Market ideology has been on the advance since the 1980s. Only a few voices warned of the risks and instability of the liberalized financial markets. The European states mobilized 4.5 trillion euros to prevent their banking system from collapsing. After they profited from the generous bailout packages, the banks began to speculate against the most indebted countries.
Translator’s comments and links:
Happy September, post-materialists!
The US faces a nationwide power failure, the bitter fruit of the Twitterer’s lies, vulgarities and scapegoating.
Narcissism, illiteracy and apolitical indifference are homemade curses. The social state is the human future and should not be slandered as “Bolshevism.”
The economy for the few is an economy based on myths, fairy-tales and lies. Owners of capital should not be the only ones with enforceable rights. Building 2440 F-35 fighter jets for $291 billion is a blindness in a world where weapons don’t work, enemies don’t exist and money is regularly squandered.
Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS)
by Olesya Kazantseva, 2015
Closing tax havens, ending tax competition, and prohibiting profit-shifting are necessary for a fair tax system. The richest 1% in Pennsylvania could receive another $3 billion from Trump’s tax scam! Democracy is different than plutocracy. Problems do not disappear when they are ignored or repressed as fake populists and lies must be overcome with truth-tellers and sharing wealth.
Only radical change can avert egoism replacing solidarity. The state should serve the public interest and yet private or special interests are often in the driver’s seat.
Utopia and the exhaustion of the center
September 1, 2018 real world economic review
from David Ruccio
We’re ten years on from the events the triggered the worst crisis of capitalism since the first Great Depression (although read my caveat here) and centrists—on both sides of the Atlantic—continue to peddle an ahistorical nostalgia.
Fortunately, people aren’t buying it.
As Jack Shenker has explained in the case of Britain,
one of the most darkly humorous features of contemporary British politics (a competitive field) is the ubiquity of parliamentarians, pundits and business titans who wail and gnash at our ceaseless political tumult but appear utterly incurious about the conditions that produced it. . .
Such stalwart defenders of a certain brand of “common sense” capitalism have watched in horror as ill-mannered upstarts — on both the right and the left — build power at the fringes. But these freshly emboldened centrists pretend that the rupture has no connection to their own dogma and seem to envision the whole sorry mess as some sort of administrative error that will be swiftly tidied away once the right person, with the right branding, is restored to authority.
Much the same is true in the United States, where centrists in the Democratic Party watch in horror as the Republican Party falls in lockstep with Donald Trump and the only energy within their own party comes from the Left. All the while, they ignore their own role in creating the conditions for the crash and the fact that their technocratic promises to American young people—university or community-college education leading to a stable and prosperous worklife, the dream of a thriving middle-class democracy, the claim for capitalism’s economic and ethical superiority—lie in tatters.
As it turns out, Jürgen Habermas sounded the warning of just this eventuality back in the mid-1980s.* His argument, in a nutshell, is that western cultures had used up their utopian energies—and for good reason, because
the very forces for increasing power, from which modernity once derived its self-confidence and its utopian expectation, in actuality turn autonomy into dependence, emancipation into oppression, and reality into the irrational.
Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism
by Samuel Decker and Thomas Sablowski, May 2017
The globalization euphoria waned with the 1997 Asian crisis. The policy of the IMF and the World Bank met with massive criticism and public protests in the global South in the 1980s. Hundreds of billions were needed to bailout bankrupt banks. Capital suffocates in its excess.
The US with its high solvent demand stabilized the world economy for a long time, consumed more than it produced and played the role of “consumer of last resort.” The US could become indebted in its own currency
more at www.openculture.com, www.grin.com and www.therealnews.com
Promote Public Housing! Arguments for a Housing Policy Alternative
by Sebastian Gerhardt, July 6, 2018
A basic principle of the market economy is that the market only reacts to solvent demand, not to needs. If a need is not reflected in a solvent demand, the market simply does not react. Expanding the supply of affordable housing is key, not subject promotion. The funds expended in subject-promotion land directly in the pockets of real estate owners.
Renouncing on any political intervention would be a market-radical and nihilist answer to the housing crisis.
On BookTV, Jean Twenge, author of “The Narcissism Epidemic,” warns that the cult of specialness was thought to be the ladder to corporate success and turned out to be anti-social.
Possessions can possess us more than we possess them. The car is not only a metal box but a way of looking at the world and an encouragement to narcissism. Football and politicians push cars nonstop while cities become gridlock. We become examples of disconnection when we deride community and sociality and degrade nature into a free good, external or sink.
The future should be anticipated and protected in the present, not extrapolated from the present. Hope distinguishes us from the rest of creation. We can go beyond everything past and present in the power of the coming, the power of the promise. (Jurgen Moltmann)
Dostoevsky, a great admonisher of the West, warned we would surrender our freedom to the Grand Inquisitor for his promise of happiness. The ego must die for the self to be born. The state must represent the public interest and not be a bonus pot for special interests and self-enrichment. Maybe the Good News is that Trump could be impeached within a year so his damage would be contained. How are democracy and language possible when the leader is a cross between Al Capone and King Midas?
Don’t let fear-mongers destroy the “unaffordable” social state while building 2440 F-35 fighter jets for $291 billion! Don’t let fear-mongers like Paul Ryan force us into a spiritless 2-inch world where only the rich enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!
Thanks, Dr. Martin Luther King for your unending inspiration and encouragement! Time for the human race to gain priority over the arms race! Time for a people-society to replace the things-society and the people-logic to replace the things-logic!
Eliminating the $118K cap on social security taxes would make the system solvent for 75 years. Access could replace excess; enough could replace more; exchanging roles and digital cloud workers could make sorrow more distant than a star!
In the hope of forming a consensus on a future-friendly economy, I offer these propositions:
1) The state revenue crisis is caused by tax avoidance and tax havens.
2) The bank crisis became a state crisis when private risks mutated into public risks. $18 trillion was infused in “too-big-to-fail” banks in the US and 4.5 trillion euros in the European Union.
3) Corporations in the US spent $460 billion in 2018 buying back their own stock. Corporate success is often artificial. Not everything that glitters is gold! Even a broken clock is right twice a day!!
4) The state was a major risk-taker in the creation of the Internet and touch-screen technology while Apple and the rest pretend to be the only innovators.
5) The state should represent the public interest though special interests or private interests are in the driver’s seat with deregulation, privatization and liberalization of markets (speculation).
6) The future is the social state although the social state is wrongly slandered or demonized as “Bolshevism.”
7) All personal and corporate success is based on state investment in roads, schools, hospitals, libraries, airwaves, food safety and water quality.
8) Social security created in FDR’s “New Deal” 1935 saved millions from poverty and early death. In the era of outsourcing and robotization, social security keeps the economy alive by stabilizing demand.
Happy Labor Day, post-materialists!
more at www.freembtranslations.net, www.openculture.com, www.grin.com, www.onthecommons.org and www.citizen.org
Carl Schmitt and the New Right
by Bernd Reismann, 2005
The intellectual New Right may be more a loose network of persons, political projects, publications and publishers than an organization or party. Carl Schmitt redefined democracy as the “identity of ruler and ruled.” He started from the unity and homogeneity of the people’s will with the will of the government and the state. State and people merge in the rule of the people.
The plebiscite is used to overcome and delegitimate pluralism and parliamentary democracy. The goal is creating an identity democracy based on ethnic and political homogeneity.
From the Constitutional State to the Security State
by Giorgio Agamben, April 2016 and translated from the German in Luxemburg 1/2016:
The state of emergency is that arrangement by which totalitarian powers were established in Europe. Hitler’s first official act after his nomination (to Reich chancellor) was the proclamation of the state of emergency that was never retracted (during the NS rule). If one is amazed at the crimes committed with impunity in Germany by the Nazis, one forgets that these actions were absolutely “legal” because the land was subjected to a state of emergency and basic rights and freedom rights were suspended.
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. The security state to which we are moving does the opposite of what it promises. While security means the absence of worry (Latin sine cura – without worry – as the root for the French word securite), the security state foments permanent fear and terror. The security state is a police state that increases the police’s freedom of decision by suspending the power of the judiciary. The state of emergency that becomes daily routine and acts as the sovereign more and more becomes the normal case.
The security state breaks out of familiar politics to move to an indeterminate zone where public and private whose borders are hard to define become ever more blurred – through the increasing de-politization of citizens.
The Country without a Future
By Marc Batko
In the country without a future, elite democracy has long supplanted political participation. Life alternates between self-absorption and escapism, infantilism and dementia. There is no interest, passion or curiosity in a country leveled by neoliberal myths and the irrationality of profit maximization at any price. Critics are demeaned as troublemakers and philosophy, sharing and alternative economics are relegated to the realms of fantasy and the distant past. How should the state, market and neoliberal myths be understood and reconstructed? Should education, health care, housing, energy, banking, the Internet, communication, and transportation be public enterprises? Should health, education, and housing be human rights or privileges dependent on one’s descent?
In a country without a future, the leader cannot complete a sentence without drifting off into irrelevance or distraction. Money abounds for “space programs” and all-time record military budgets for weapons that don’t work against enemies that don’t exist with money we don’t have (Joseph Stiglitz). The Congress consists of “errand boys for the banks” (Bill Moyers). Education has long mutated into profit centers where critical learning and intercultural learning have been replaced by sycophancy and corporate double speak. Corporate profits are mistaken for community health. The social state is held to be the result of trickle-down surplus profit production. Concentration and contempt for anti-trust legislation lead to four firms controlling Internet access and four airlines dominating nearly all airline service.
In a country called thankless, the corporate media divides its boundless time into lies, vulgarities, scapegoating and fear-mongering. In Trump’s budget, everything is cut except for the military. The GOP tax bill pushed through without hearings, compromises, concessions, countermeasures, and testimony gave over $5 trillion to households with over a million dollars income. The attacks on the poor, seniors, students and children included “third-rails” like social security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell college grants, Meals on Wheels, food stamps, after-school programs, legal aid, the departments of education and environmental protection. Public policy is worlds away from sledgehammers and wrecking balls. The November election will be a chance to throw the scoundrels out along with their corporate profit-maximization strategies. In the 2008 bank bailout, $18 trillion was lavished on the “too-big-to-fail” banks. Private risks became public risks. The banking crisis became a state revenue crisis. The real cause of the state revenue crisis is tax avoidance. Tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Bermuda, Panama, and Delaware hide between $22 and $33 trillion. Corporations spent more than $460 billion in the first eight months of 2018 buying back their own stock.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyr, leader of the underground Confessing Church and highest name in Germany, said the ultimate is the hope and goal of the penultimate. The language of proclamation runs crossway to the language of time. One act of obedience can be more important than a thousand sermons. The state exists to fulfill public responsibilities and not to be the plaything of special or private interests. The state exists to reduce inequality, to create meaningful work when there is hardly any private investment and to overcome poverty by tackling the scandal at its roots. People want to be encouraged and supported in their self-determined work and to live in a multi-layered life with desires, interests, projects, and achievements.
Reducing working hours is the only way to create full meaningful employment. The economy is a part of life and self-determination and creativity should be encouraged. The goal is the embedding of the economy in society and not vice versa (Karl Polanyi and Peter Ulrich). Education is the “great transformer” (John Kenneth Galbraith). Technology and the computer are ways to make us both subjects and students, commenting and correcting ideas that can either widen or narrow future possibilities. How could the Internet lead to a liberating and evocative future where everyone could be authors, editors, translators, aggregators, explorers and admonishing prophets? The 26 community centers in Vancouver Canada have a cushioning and a multiplying effect. Before 1980, they were bursting with activity, game rooms, casserole dinners, gyms, theaters, libraries, surrogate classrooms and counseling opportunities.
If the people are not supported in their need for peaceful revolution, they will be mired in violence revolution (John F. Kennedy). The GDP measures everything except what makes life worthwhile (Robert Kennedy).
In German, the future is represented by three words Futurum, Zukunkt, and Advent. The future is at once chronological, transformational and eschatologically anticipatory.
Beware of those drowning in self-admiration and pathological narcissism! Separation of powers and checks and balances have been slowly enervated under the cries of efficiency and competition. Life is complex and uncertain and cannot be reduced to buying cars or manufacturing blackjack tables. Life is not longevity, sickness is not sin and success is more than car ownership.
The future could be protected and anticipated in the present, not extrapolated from the present. We can go beyond everything past and present in the power of the coming, the power of the promise (Jurgen Moltmann). Faith in the infinite God means the death of the ego and the celebration of the selfless transcendent God (Soren Kierkegaard).
The only disability is attitude and a country slavishly engrossed by a vulgar, uneducated, uncultivated, racist, xenophobic, misogynist, narcissist, paranoid, sadistic and victimized misanthrope! Liars seek to manipulate us and live in their own reality without recognizing their lies. Malignant narcissists start wars and seek to fulfill grandiose and paranoid delusions instead of reality. JFK found face-saving solutions through empathy and recognizing the humanity of others (John Gartner). Impeachment or encouraging resignation can save the system from self-destruction. Fear-mongering, scapegoating and narcissism can end like illiteracy and prejudice since they are all home-made curses that make life into a seemingly manageable 2-inch world!
NOTE from August 23
Russians in your cornflakes?
Trump is promoting the “Uncle Sucker” myth, that the US carelessly let itself be exploited by everyone! (cf. Michael Hudson).
7 and a half million tons of bombs were dropped on little Vietnam. The system of finance capitalism has allowed the richest 85 persons to have more wealth than 3.5 billion people. It’s time to see the log in our own eye and not only the speck in the other’s eye!
What are the antidotes to exploding inequality and precarious work, to concentrated wealth and to the nefarious effect of money in politics?
by Raul Zelik, 1/29/17
Capitalism is winning to death. The exit from the overheated machine of capitalism represents an enormous challenge. We cannot avoid the question about common property in the search for social alternatives. Can greater social equality be achieved without changing property relations?
The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business
interview with Rana Foroohar, May 9, 2018 (1/6)
with host Paul Jay on therealnews.com
Our capitalist system is sick and the name of the sickness is financialization. The financial sector damages the real economy, creates poverty and ruins the American dream.
Video: Thomas Frank, Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society, CSpan, June 27, 2018, 58 min
This is what society looks like when the glue fails, a time of cascading collapse, a golden age of corruption when the human intellect serves money or it serves nothing at all
In the 1930s and 1940s, there was a sense that we are in this together, a defacto social democracy.
A sense of social solidarity has nearly disappeared as people identity upwards and the right-wing ideology of victimization spreads. We are like buffaloes nestling with the rifles.
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Video: Lawrence Tribe: To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, 59 min
Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe and lawyer Joshua Matz explored the history of impeachment and its potential role in the 21st century.