Corporate consolidation by brand

Corporate consolidation by brand

Click here for bigger image

This picture is but a drop in the ocean of corporate consolidation. When you read about an increase of M&A (mergers and acquisitions) it is usually an indication that rich people (using the corporations they own and the politicians they buy) have just stolen a great deal of money from you, legally (because the rich/corporations write the laws) and/or illegally (because they break the laws they don’t write). The past decade or so has been (yet another) one of these times.

The consolidation of money/power has surpassed that of the Gilded Age. Inequality has never been greater in human history. The rich have so much money they literally don’t know what to do with it. When you see stock buy-backs, art and property selling for record amounts, and billions “invested” in silicon valley vaporware, you see this in action.

The tendency to monopoly power is built into capitalism. Apologists for capitalism will say that is why we need good regulation, but another tendency built into the logic of capitalism is profit at any (so-called “external”) cost. That means there will be a constant effort to destroy regulatory bodies or “capture” them. The u.s. government is now one big object lesson in that process. Study international trade agreements if you want to see how capitalism in the form of corporate control does the job of crafting regulatory bodies and agreements that make corporations richer and poison, immiserate, and kill the rest of us.

Part of the corporate capture of government involves the rich buying politicians. They always came cheap. One of the most popular legal bribes comes in the form of the paid speech. Not coincidentally, it’s usually the first thing a president or any high government official does as soon as they leave office. They can’t wait to get to the payoff trough. Often it’s a speech to goldman sachs or an oil company, but only the high profile politicians get the $200,000/speech payoffs. The rest can usually be purchased with petty cash. Of course, a million here and million there is petty cash to corporations.

This consolidation of capital under capitalism has led us to multiple crises coming together at once – and the creation of new crises as well. Voting will not get us out of it. Liberal tinkering around the edges will not save us. Getting radical (changing the system at the root) is the only way forward. We will have to do it by organizing ourselves, unifying, and creating another system that is not based on the exploitation of the earth and everything living on it. Socialism or barbarism was a pithy way to describe the choice. We can argue about what to label a new way of living and structuring life on planet earth, but it can’t be the neoliberal corporate capitalist system we have now, and we all have to be involved in organizing ourselves and unifying to become a force powerful enough to challenge the capitalists ruining the chance for continued human life on this planet.

Whatever group or organization you join (or start), work to make it as (small d) democratic as possible and work toward making connections with other groups. When groups can come together and unify internationally, we will have the beginning of chance to challenge the power of the capitalist class. It sounds fantastical and crazy – and as things exist today, it seems impossible – but it is the only way to get off the path that leads directly to mass extinction. The choice seemed obvious when it was phrased as socialism or barbarism. That was another time. And because “we” chose barbarism (and capitalists made war against socialism), now the choice is socialism or the extinction of the human species. Again, if you don’t like the word socialism, call it something else, or think of something else. The point is that we all have to act. We start by joining with others to help struggling people, not as a charity, but in shared struggle. That is the way forward. As you help others, with others, you will help yourself, in ways you can’t even imagine.

@chunkymark made a movie: This is Not a Recession, It’s a Robbery [Repost from 3/10/14 (My & his analysis still stands)]

In the past few years, capitalists (corporations, the filthy rich, finance, insurance, oil, big pharma, big ag, and war mongers, to name a few) have significantly stepped-up their buying of governments worldwide. They have been busy putting the money they’ve stolen from us to use, purchasing politicians and imposing neoliberal policies on us all.

At the core of those policies is privatization. Privatization involves transferring the ownership of public wealth from the people to private for-profit corporations. That, along with the 2007-08 crisis, has resulted in a massive transfer and consolidation of wealth that literally kills, criminalizes, impoverishes, and controls, whilst making the rich, much, much richer.

Another tenet of neoliberal ideology (or tactic if you prefer) is the imposition of austerity. Essentially, austerity takes away critical resources from citizens – especially the most vulnerable. This goes hand in hand with a perennial corporate favorite: deregulation. Deregulation weakens regulatory agencies and gets rid of laws that protect citizens by either weakening them or replacing them wholesale.

The all-out assault on the UK by neoliberal corporate power has been extreme.  It has killed thousands and impoverished many more.  It is remaking the entire society before people’s eyes.   It is difficult to overstate the rapidity and viciousness with which this is taking place.  And if you are an average citizen outside of the British Isles, you probably have no idea it’s happening at all.

Mark McGowan, AKA The artist taxi driver, AKA Chunky Mark, is a working class bloke in London. He has been watching it all happen with shock, horror, and disbelief and is just trying to make sense of it all. He shoots videos in his cab before he starts work in the morning and posts them on youtube. Over the years, he has also managed to interview people from almost every walk of life. This movie is a collection of those commentaries and interviews.

From what I’ve been able to glean, Mark is a concerned citizen, father, artist, activist – and has a pretty good sense of humor to boot. He’s smart, sincere, frightened, concerned, and wants justice. What comes through again and again is his empathy, his humanity. He wonders aloud what many of us think every day: why are the people in power so sadistic and why aren’t the rest of us doing something about it?  He screams and rants and rages quite loudly, and a bit more than occasionally. I’ll leave out any discussion of how much might be performance because I think it is his genuine immediate reaction to what is happening – and because I think it’s appropriate. It seems a much more human response than what I see from most people. He may or may not realize it, but his pauses and sighs have an even bigger impact than the yelling. But I digress…

Though you may not be familiar with UK politics, much of what Mark is covering should sound very familiar. It should be obvious by now that this corporate neoliberal agenda is not unique to the UK. In fact, neoliberalism as we know it was born in the u.s.a. (at the University of Chicago to be exact). While the u.s. doesn’t have an NHS to dismantle, it’s healthcare was given over to corporations long ago.  Schools are another matter.  The neoliberals have been busy here demonizing teachers, attacking unions, and attempting to privatize public schools.  State pensions (which most americans don’t even possess) have been raided (through fees, budget cuts, legislation, and fraud) and everyone who has a pension is funding speculation. That money is at risk of being lost. (For those of you reading this in the future: Yes, the derivatives your pension fund helped inflate into a massive toxic bubble that burst are the reason they’re giving for cutting your pension.)  The corporate neoliberal model is being imposed all over the world: India, Turkey, Brazil – most of Europe…the list is long.  Just look for bought-off politicians selling off the state to corporate “interests” and media imitating the u.s. and the picture should become very clear.

Of course this film and Mark’s youtube videos aren’t the be all end all source for information, but I like Mark’s DIY spirit, his frustration, his sense of urgency, his passion and humanity.  Things sorely lacking from most people I see.

Caveats: For those with delicate sensibilities, there is a lot of swearing in this film. If you’re still living in another century it may be time to travel to the present. As I said in the beginning, Mark is just a guy trying to understand what’s going on. I think he has done a damn good job of zeroing in on root causes, but – as with most people – he is just as susceptible as the next guy to occasionally trodding down the wrong path. For example, Alex Jones makes a very brief appearance in the cab. He is an american “shock jock” who mixes wacky conspiracy theories with facts and dangerous ideas; so, in the end, it’s best to dismiss him totally. There are so many people with sane analyses, there is really no reason to pay him any attention except as comic relief.

Max Keiser also makes an appearance. While Max does offer some good analysis of financial criminal behavior, he is a capitalist and he shares the libertarian utopian idea that if we only had “true free markets” we could have good capitalism (but in the meantime, he is a regular old capitalist). If one knows enough to see through that and can suss out the useful bits of his analysis, have at it – but really, there are hundreds of other more reputable sources out there who aren’t selling their own bitcoins, etc…

So, with those caveats, watch the film to be entertained, see a slice of life, and hopefully get a sense of what’s happening, because whether you know it or not, some version of everything detailed in it is probably happening where you live.

~ Cheers

Fuck work: The case against full employment, and for guaranteed income. [from @thisishellradio podcast]

This is a must listen interview from a must listen podcast:

James Livingston Interview

“Historian James Livingston examines the deep problem with employment in the 21st century – the broken relationship between work and income, and explains why we must look beyond capitalism’s intellectual decrepitude, and to the rising rate of transfer payments, if we are to reclaim our labor, our happiness and our time from the demands of capitalism.

“The end of work is in sight. The connection between work performed and character created, or work preformed and income received is absolutely unintelligible – so let’s get on with a society in which there doesn’t have to be a relationship between work and income. Let’s get on with what we used to call ‘Socialism.'”

James is the author of the new book, No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea from UNC Press and the Aeon essay Fuck Work.”

Looking for a stellar political podcast and news site? Check out Black Agenda Report

BlackAgendaRadio_AlbumArt

Click image above to go to site.

 

BAReport
Click above to go to site

In the fall of 2006, Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley and Leutisha Stills of CBC Monitor left Black Commentator, which Ford had co-founded and edited since 2002, and launched Black Agenda Report.
Check it out. Well worth your while…

 

If you don’t know, now you know [#Ferguson][@bellaeiko][Please RT]



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

I recommend watching the whole thing, but if you don’t have the time or the patience, start at 00:49:00. It gets better and better. It’s not about whether you agree or disagree with everything people are saying. It’s about understanding, but there is a whole lot of truth here. And then even if you can’t empathize, you can sympathize – and then you can support and ideally get involved. If you think this doesn’t affect you because you’re not black or poor, you might want to think harder.

Bella had to leave (you can bet she’ll be back), but there are other livestreamers and posters who will probably start broadcasting and posting later today. Here are their twitter handles:

@bassem_masri
@argusnewsnow
@anonopspro
@Rebelutionary_Z
@STLAbuBadu
@stlouisx50

Bella Eiko was responsible for the video and conversation above. If you want to contribute to her efforts, this is her paypal address: Bellaeikomedia@me.com

Story style links [#1]

Click on any sentence below to be taken to the story:

If the median household’s income is heading upward, the economy is in good shape. If it’s heading downward, as it’s been for this entire recovery, we’re all in deep trouble. Advocacy groups who sought a moratorium on shutoffs testified last week that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s policies of mass shutoffs — 19,000 in recent months — are leaving low-income households with seniors and children without water service. INTERVIEWER: Do you think of yourself as a feminist? SONTAG: That’s one of the few labels I’m content with. But even so…is it a noun? I doubt it. In the current recovery, at least through 2012, the bottom 90 percent actually lost ground, with all of the income gains being grabbed by the wealthiest 10 percent of American households.

Boston College professor Ed Kane says: “This is really a crime wave. [Wall St.] is really stealing from the taxpayers…”

Almost every sentence should make you quake in fear. What can one say anymore…It’s pretty clear we the people have to stop these fuckers. Those words fall flat, don’t they? They sound ironic and trite. And they are just words, because the “I” has triumphed. The “we” seems to be a rapidly receding memory. The class war was waged and won, and now the victors are raping and pillaging the conquered, squeezing every last drop of blood. We are ignorant, overwhelmed, atomized, disconnected from history, we are scared, rushed, fatigued, numb, despondent, in denial – or worse, we are happy and comfortable and blissfully unaware.
More words floating in cyberspace…

This entire tableau is responsible for the stream of zombie, vampire, apocalypse, and dystopic images that now seem to make up a great deal of our “entertainment.”

We are projecting our lived and psychic experience
onto screens
– and we are filling the world with them.
Ubiquitous and addictive,
they are creating a pathological feedback loop in our brains
and what’s left of our souls.
We are hypnotized by images of our own demise.
Twisted fantastic things from the unconscious,
realities preemptively pushed out of consciousness
bubbling up and pouring out in our creations.
We stare zombie-like
into the screens
as everything is stolen
and a kind of corporate feudalism is imposed on us
by the thieves
who are robbing us blind.

@chunkymark made a movie: This is Not a Recession, It’s a Robbery

In the past few years, capitalists (corporations, the filthy rich, finance, insurance, oil, big pharma, big ag, and war mongers, to name a few) have significantly stepped-up their buying of governments worldwide. They have been busy putting the money they’ve stolen from us to use, purchasing politicians and imposing neoliberal policies on us all.

At the core of those policies is privatization. Privatization involves transferring the ownership of public wealth from the people to private for-profit corporations. That, along with the 2007-08 crisis, has resulted in a massive transfer and consolidation of wealth that literally kills, criminalizes, impoverishes, and controls, whilst making the rich, much, much richer.

Another tenet of neoliberal ideology (or tactic if you prefer) is the imposition of austerity. Essentially, austerity takes away critical resources from citizens – especially the most vulnerable. This goes hand in hand with a perennial corporate favorite: deregulation. Deregulation weakens regulatory agencies and gets rid of laws that protect citizens by either weakening them or replacing them wholesale.

The all-out assault on the UK by neoliberal corporate power has been extreme.  It has killed thousands and impoverished many more.  It is remaking the entire society before people’s eyes.   It is difficult to overstate the rapidity and viciousness with which this is taking place.  And if you are an average citizen outside of the British Isles, you probably have no idea it’s happening at all.

Mark McGowan, AKA The artist taxi driver, AKA Chunky Mark, is a working class bloke in London. He has been watching it all happen with shock, horror, and disbelief and is just trying to make sense of it all. He shoots videos in his cab before he starts work in the morning and posts them on youtube. Over the years, he has also managed to interview people from almost every walk of life. This movie is a collection of those commentaries and interviews.

From what I’ve been able to glean, Mark is a concerned citizen, father, artist, activist – and has a pretty good sense of humor to boot. He’s smart, sincere, frightened, concerned, and wants justice. What comes through again and again is his empathy, his humanity. He wonders aloud what many of us think every day: why are the people in power so sadistic and why aren’t the rest of us doing something about it?  He screams and rants and rages quite loudly, and a bit more than occasionally. I’ll leave out any discussion of how much might be performance because I think it is his genuine immediate reaction to what is happening – and because I think it’s appropriate. It seems a much more human response than what I see from most people. He may or may not realize it, but his pauses and sighs have an even bigger impact than the yelling. But I digress…

Though you may not be familiar with UK politics, much of what Mark is covering should sound very familiar. It should be obvious by now that this corporate neoliberal agenda is not unique to the UK. In fact, neoliberalism as we know it was born in the u.s.a. (at the University of Chicago to be exact). While the u.s. doesn’t have an NHS to dismantle, it’s healthcare was given over to corporations long ago.  Schools are another matter.  The neoliberals have been busy here demonizing teachers, attacking unions, and attempting to privatize public schools.  State pensions (which most americans don’t even possess) have been raided (through fees, budget cuts, legislation, and fraud) and everyone who has a pension is funding speculation. That money is at risk of being lost. (For those of you reading this in the future: Yes, the derivatives your pension fund helped inflate into a massive toxic bubble that burst are the reason they’re giving for cutting your pension.)  The corporate neoliberal model is being imposed all over the world: India, Turkey, Brazil – most of Europe…the list is long.  Just look for bought-off politicians selling off the state to corporate “interests” and media imitating the u.s. and the picture should become very clear.

Of course this film and Mark’s youtube videos aren’t the be all end all source for information, but I like Mark’s DIY spirit, his frustration, his sense of urgency, his passion and humanity.  Things sorely lacking from most people I see.

Caveats: For those with delicate sensibilities, there is a lot of swearing in this film. If you’re still living in another century it may be time to travel to the present. As I said in the beginning, Mark is just a guy trying to understand what’s going on. I think he has done a damn good job of zeroing in on root causes, but – as with most people – he is just as susceptible as the next guy to occasionally trodding down the wrong path. For example, Alex Jones makes a very brief appearance in the cab. He is an american “shock jock” who mixes wacky conspiracy theories with facts and dangerous ideas; so, in the end, it’s best to dismiss him totally. There are so many people with sane analyses, there is really no reason to pay him any attention except as comic relief.

Max Keiser also makes an appearance. While Max does offer some good analysis of financial criminal behavior, he is a capitalist and he shares the libertarian utopian idea that if we only had “true free markets” we could have good capitalism (but in the meantime, he is a regular old capitalist). If one knows enough to see through that and can suss out the useful bits of his analysis, have at it – but really, there are hundreds of other more reputable sources out there who aren’t selling their own bitcoins, etc…

So, with those caveats, watch the film to be entertained, see a slice of life, and hopefully get a sense of what’s happening, because whether you know it or not, some version of everything detailed in it is probably happening where you live.

~ Cheers

Educate yourself about the TPP with Bill Moyers, Yves Smith, and Dean Baker

If enacted, these laws will be an end-run around existing laws and institutions created to protect us.  Their goal is to continue the transfer of our rights as citizens to transnational corporations, eliminating regulations and “opening markets.”  As they simultaneously oppress and steal from us, they will have removed all legal mechanisms for us to fight back.  It is an obvious threat to activism of any kind and a major worldwide threat to all working people and our environment.

The TPP/TTIP are essentially neoliberalism enshrined in trade law.  The laws will be used to extract wealth, consolidate corporate power, and quell dissent. The agreement has been described as “NAFTA on steroids.” Consider how much damage has been done to our country – and others – by massive corporations and financial institutions who used NAFTA to rip good jobs out of our hands, only to give them to unprotected workers in other countries, where the corporations polluted and exploited with impunity. Then the manufactured crisis of 2007-08 was unleashed on us by the same people. They have stuck the knife in, they have turned it, and now they want to finish us off and put the final nail in the coffin of anything resembling freedom or democracy.

When the global corporate elite control everything, the only thing left will be for us to consume, produce and obey.  If we have been marginalized to such an extent that we are unnecessary to that system, then the system has no place for us and asks that we not be seen, or preferably die quietly.  We aren’t far off from this now.  Millions suffering in poverty, a rapidly dwindling middle-class, the rich reaching new heights of wealth every day. They have bought the political system, they have instituted mass surveillance, militarized police forces, corporate control of almost every aspect of our lives…and that is not enough for those who constantly want more.

People who are still paying the bills, have retirement, can buy a few high tech consumer goods, help their kids out every month, maybe take a vacation now and then, somehow think they’re immune. If they think about the reality of our situation as a country (and as a world) they may despair or shrug and think, same as it ever was…but it’s not.  Things have changed. We have never had a global elite like this in the history of the world. Collectively, they have and control more wealth and power than has ever existed in history.  They cross borders with impunity, have no allegiance to any state, play entire countries off of each other, raid pension funds and government treasuries…the list is seemingly endless.  They write the laws and they make the rules.  If they can’t “outsource” your job, they are trying to replace every worker they can with a machine – and not just blue collar workers…

Even if TPP is never enacted, a variation will be – or a thousand variations, stuck into laws and trade agreements around the world.  NAFTA has had a massive impact on all of us. As clinton fast-tracked it and pressed for China’s entry into the WTO, most of us chose not to listen to the people who were trying to warn us about it.  Now, the TPP promises to be a thousand times worse. Intellectual property rights enabled pharmaceutical companies to keep poor people in need from getting access to generic drugs (and many middle-class americans), they helped monsanto make criminals of millions of farmers. Now it seems Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an aspect of existing trade agreements under the WTO, are a major focus of the TPP. Not only will they criminalize even more of the world, they will use TRIPS to clamp down on the internet and all of its users. They believe they can succeed where SOPA and PIPA failed.

Of course, the earth, our environment, is front and center in most big trade agreements written by corporations.   When a transnational corporation sees an opportunity for exploitation in a particular country, say oil drilling, but a government (and more importantly, it’s citizens) doesn’t want it to happen, that would be considered, in trade-speak, a “barrier to trade.”  We don’t know the details because all of these trade negotiations are taking place in private, but leaks from preliminary documents indicate they want to get paid – with our tax dollars – on the projected income losses from not being able to exploit a resource.  The logic is twisted and perverse.  It is the logic of capitalism.  So, not only do they want to more “efficiently” exploit more of the earth with impunity by “opening markets,” it appears they also want to be paid – by us – for doing nothing.

It’s time to be honest with ourselves and have a sense of urgency.  Whatever your situation is today, it is not static. There are dynamic changes happening and the corporations writing the TPP in secret are at the vanguard of those changes. The only true way to fight this is to realize it is part of the same neoliberal agenda that corporations and venal politicians are using to privatize education, water, steal money out of our pockets through the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) “economy,” make war, sell weapons, and displace huge populations around the world.

Many people are beginning to see the same policies enacted in different countries with the same wealthy elite benefiting and the same working people paying the price – just talk to anyone in Britain…

So, first we need to learn about what is happening and realize its profound impact.  Then we need to organize to fight a capitalism that is using neoliberal strategies to oppress and exploit the planet – and all but a few of its inhabitants.  Not only do we need to organize world wide, but we need to have a vision of what we want. I suggest we create a way of life that puts people before profits.  No time like the present…