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US Economy: False Diagnoses and False Solutions by Helke Buchter

US Economy: False Diagnoses and False Solutions
by Helke Buchter, translated from the German in Die Zeit, August 2016


Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s economic plans are too simplistic. Innovations and ideas are lacking. Many people despair. American can only be great when it takes along the weak. Washington did not always ignore the middle. After the Great Depression, a series of rural development projects including the Tennessee Valley Authority built whole cities and not only dams and power supply systems. FDR’s New Deal built 165K public buildings.

The New Economy is suddenly here after a decade of delay. The digital economy has long been marked by its prominent representatives Apple, Google and Facebook that will ultimately replace the Old Economy. This change was announced so often since the Dotcom bubble burst that the actual change was nearly unnoticed. However, the signs are now immense. Online retailers – with Amazon leading the way – are taking down traditional department stores like Macy’s and the Wal-Mart supermarket chain. After 200 years, the past rivals Dupont and Dow Chemical hope to at least ward off the twilight of the former US industry icons. They can hardly prevent their twilight.

The new economy is completely changing the labor market. The discussion about the 1% vs. the 99% gives way to the Digital Divide. The creative technology elite profits from progress and simultaneously creates short-term jobs at low wages at the lower end for which the use of robots or computers would be too expensive or too awkward: cleaning, cooking, and nursing. Jobs in the middle become fewer. Thus an imbalance arises on the labor market that is much more threatening for the economy and society than the crassly unequal distribution of wealth and income.

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution, Roosevelt and New Deal | Leave a comment

Court overturns Canada’s approval of Northern Gateway pipeline

Court overturns Canada’s approval of Northern Gateway pipeline
by Obert Madondo, editor of The Canadian Progressive, June 30, 2016

“First Nations and Canada have a lot of work to do regarding measures needed to finally put us all on the path of reconciliation and partnership.”
The court’s ruling offers the Trudeau government with a unique opportunity to re-think both Canada’s discredited pipeline approval process and the ongoing efforts to achieve reconciliation with First Nations.


“In a decision that’s already being hailed as a major victory for First Nations and the planet, the Federal Court of Appeal recently overturned the Canadian government’s 2014 approval of Enbridge’s contested Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The court concluded that Canada failed to respect its constitutional duty to properly consult the various First Nations that would be adversely affected by the $7.9 billion pipeline before approving the project.

According to the court’s ruling (pdf), “Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity” for dialogue. Canada acted in a manner that “was not consistent with the duty to consult and the obligation of fair dealing.”


“It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal Peoples. But this did not happen.”

Posted in Environmental Economics, Political Theory | Leave a comment

Flipping the Democratic Convention like Pancakes

The Sanders landslide was flipped into a Clinton victory. Read the 99-page report from electionjusticeUSA.org.
Election Justice – Protecting your voice in Democracy!

The warmonger repeated lies about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction and then nuclear weapons. The Wall Street liberal watched WalMart hide $76 billion of profits in the Cayman Islands. The hypocrite supported the coup in Honduras. Voting for the Iraq invasion should force Hillary’s resignation if truth and humility are still real. She could add years to her card by giving all her support to Bernie (or Western Canada)!!

In the lesser of two oligarchs and incompetents, the one who can complete a sentence is a shoe-in! The strength of the democrats is the folly of the republicans. The republican buffoonery gives Sanders an easy victory but the corrupt DNC forgot about being neutral and marginalized Sanders.

Narcissists forget others exist and fall in love with their own reflection and drown. Jean Twenge spoke about “The Narcissism Epidemic” on www.booktv.org. The cult of specialness, thought to be the ladder to success, turns out to be destructive of community and economic alternatives. The system works in the US when casino owners and dog race owners become enriched!

more at www.booktv.org (they go back more than 10 years!!!)

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

We Must Choose: Capitalism or Democracy by Conrad Schuhler

We Must Choose: Capitalism or Democracy
by Conrad Schuhler, 2014. These theses arose at a podium discussion with spokespersons of Attac, Blockupy and IG Metal


Middle-class democracy only knows formal political equality. Society is divided into unequal classes. Rule over public opinion and acknowledgment of the imperatives of capitalism grow out of the dominance of capital.

The alternative is authoritarian capitalism or solidarity democracy.

Resistance is the command of the hour. In its attempt, it changes both the one who resists and the entire environment that witnesses.

Posted in Essays, Political Theory | Leave a comment

Countermeasures and a Caring State

Affordable Housing and the Homeless Crisis: Solutions from the Bottom

Creating a nonprofit or cooperative housing sector is vital since private developers will not build affordable housing. Long-term low interest loans is the second viable option that is usually repressed.

SRO (single residency occupancy) apartments and hotels are a viable decentralized solution that reintegrates people in society. Warehousing and prisons violate human rights. Throwing money after problems doesn’t work any more than bailing out Wall Street banks, pretending the market is self-healing or imagining community health is connected with soaring corporate profits. In the neoliberal model, profits explode while investments stagnate.

America is strong when it brings along the weak. The neoliberal rollback, the 36 years of lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy, should be followed by a new social contract. The financial sector should be shriveled and the public sector expanded. Community centers (like the 26 in Vancouver B.C.) allow working and nonworking to feel valued and respected in the modern project. When Washington is caught in polarization and paralysis, cities and states must see themselves as countervailing forces to exploding inequality and unchecked corporate power.

“When the state trusts citizens, citizens trust the state (Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister).” Public spirit and trust between the generations and between the working and nonworking depend on countermeasures and a caring state.

more at www.onthecommons.org, www.citizen.org and www.openculture.com

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

Generation Y Doesn’t Fulfill Expectations

Generation Y Doesn’t Fulfill Expectations
by Thorsten Schroeder, August 16, 2016

“Millennials make US car manufacturers despair. They simply don’t want to shop anymore… The revolution from Silicon Valley has shaken traditional American branches to the core… The Smartphone is more desirable than the car since the drive-in movie theater was replaced by Netflix… “The Facebook post may be more important for self-esteem than the Italian vacation, the luxury trip or the car in the garage.”

When Americans spend less money for cars and houses, they have more money they can save or spend for travels or education. In a constantly changing world of work, investments in one’s abilities are more important than one’s own home.”

more at www.onthecommons.org, www.openculture.com and www.citizen.org

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Unemployment is (not) a Full-time Job

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.

more at www.openculture.com and www.booktv.org

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

The Unending Story of the “Achievers” by Bruno Rossmann and Joerg Reitzig

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.



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” [1] The Left Party (Die Linke) wants to be a motor for a “revolution of justice” [2]. 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” [3].


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 (… )” [4]…

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Posted in Neoliberalism, Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

Time for structural countermeasures: What if we followed Canada?

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.

more at www.alternativetrademandate.org and www.onthecommons.org

Posted in Environmental Economics, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

The Digitalization of Labor by Patrick Stary

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.

Posted in Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment