capitalism Archives - Accuracy.Org

The Billionaire Behind Efforts to Kill the U.S. Postal Service

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A U.S. Postal Service letter carrier delivers mail while wearing PPE | Credit: In the Public Interest (ITPI)

LISA GRAVES, via Evan Vorpahl, evan at truenorthresearch.org,
Graves is the executive director of True North and has led several investigations into those distorting U.S. democracy and public policy. She just wrote the brief “The Billionaire Behind Efforts to Kill the U.S. Postal Service,” which states: “The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the already-struggling U.S. Postal Service to the brink of financial collapse. But the most trusted and popular institution in America hasn’t been struggling by accident.

“Since the 1970s, a concerted effort to popularize the fringe idea of privatizing the Postal Service has been advanced for nearly five decades with the support of one man: the billionaire and libertarian ideologue, Charles Koch, chairman and chief executive officer of Koch Industries.”

The brief traces Koch’s connections, influence, and ideological push to “weaken and ultimately privatize one of America’s most essential public services — and, along with it, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of public servants. …

“The Postal Service has lost revenue since COVID-19 started spreading exponentially in the U.S., with its revenues down more than 30 percent as many businesses have closed or reduced operations. But the real reason for its financial crisis is not only the pandemic. The agency would be in a much stronger financial position had Congress not passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) in 2006, which ‘requires the Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer subsidies, to prefund its retirees’ health benefits up to the year 2056,’ on a 50-year basis. (John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ did an in-depth show on this manufactured crisis earlier this year.)

“The HEROES Act would fund a portion of the Postal Service’s request to keep it from going bankrupt, but Koch’s groups oppose even that, seeking to achieve his longtime goal of eliminating one of the most trusted of American institutions and one vital to our democracy. The question is: will the American people stand up to Koch’s radical efforts to defund and destroy one of our most essential public services, wreak havoc on our economy, and privatize the good jobs of thousands of public servants? Or will we stand up to this billionaire and his bullying, say ‘NO!,’ and punish any politician who toes the Koch party line?” See PDF of the brief.

Billionaires Deforming Education?

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KEVIN KUMASHIRO, kevin at kevinkumashiro.com
Author of ten books on education, Kumashiro is former dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco and co-founder of Education Deans for Justice and Equity,

He has helped organize a statement signed by over “650 educators of color and educational scholars of color across the U.S.” calling for a “retreat from the market-based initiatives (like the so-called ‘portfolio model,’ expansion of choice, and deprofessionalizing of teaching) being foisted by billionaires upon poorer communities of color.”

The statement — “This Must End Now: Educators & Scholars of Color Against Failed Educational ‘Reforms’” begins: “The public is being misled. Billionaire philanthropists are increasingly foisting so-called ‘reform’ initiatives upon the schools that serve predominantly students of color and low-income students, and are using black and brown voices to echo claims of improving schools or advancing civil rights in order to rally community support. However, the evidence to the contrary is clear: these initiatives have not systematically improved student success, are faulty by design, and have already proven to widen racial and economic disparities. We must heed the growing body of research and support communities and civil-rights organizations in their calls for a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the problems facing our schools, a retreat from failed ‘reforms,’ and better solutions.”

Kumashiro recently wrote the piece “Corona-Capitalism and the Racialized Looting of Public Schools,” which states: “As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, proponents of market-based reforms have wasted little time capitalizing on the same two conditions that propelled privatization post-Katrina, except at a scale and level without precedent: school closures and federal funding.”

Lack of Union Jobs “Obliterated an Emergent Black Middle Class”

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WILLIAM LAZONICK, william.lazonick at gmail.com
Lazonick is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and president of the Academic-Industry Research Network.

He co-authored a new paper: “How the Disappearance of Unionized Jobs Obliterated an Emergent Black Middle Class” for the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

See summary blog post: “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the deep-rooted racial divide that infects American society. According to APM Research Lab, the Covid-19 mortality rate for blacks has been 61.6 per 100,000 compared with 28.2 per 100,000 for Latinos, and 26.2 per 100,000 for whites. It’s another abhorrent statistic to add to the highly disproportionate number of African Americans who are poor, unemployed, and incarcerated.

“The longer life-expectancy of white men compared with black men in the United States has narrowed in recent years, but that is because of a significant drop in longevity of white working-class males, who, even before the pandemic, were succumbing to ‘deaths of despair.’ The fact is that blacks are doing terribly in a nation wracked by extreme economic inequality, which is dragging down the whole working class, irrespective of race or ethnicity. In a nation that once advertised itself as the land of upward socioeconomic mobility through equal employment opportunity, intergenerational downward mobility has become the norm.

“As a new generation has taken to the streets with demands for social transformation, we need to look back a half century to a time when the quest for equal employment opportunity gave rise to an African American blue-collar middle class. During the 1960s and 1970s, blacks with no more than high-school educations gained significant access to well-paid unionized employment opportunities, epitomized by semi-skilled operative jobs in the automobile industry, to which they previously had limited access. Anti-discrimination laws under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with oversight by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) supported this upward mobility for blacks in the context of a growing demand for blue-collar labor in the United States.

“From the late 1970s, however, the impact of global competition and the offshoring of manufacturing combined with the financialization of the corporation to decimate these stable and well-paid blue-collar jobs. Under the seniority provisions of the increasingly beleaguered industrial unions, blacks tended to be last hired and first fired. As U.S.-based blue-collar jobs were permanently lost, U.S. business corporations and government agencies failed to make sufficient investments in the education and skills of the U.S. labor force to usher in a new era of upward socioeconomic mobility. This organizational failure left blacks most vulnerable to downward mobility.

“Central to this corporate failure was a transformation of corporate resource allocation from ‘retain-and-reinvest’ to ‘downsize-and-distribute.’ Instead of retaining corporate profits and reinvesting in the productive capabilities of employees, major business corporations became increasingly focused on downsizing their labor forces and distributing profits to shareholders in the form of cash dividends and stock buybacks. Legitimizing massive distributions to shareholders was the flawed and pernicious ideology that a company should be run to ‘maximize shareholder value.’ Eventually, the downward socioeconomic mobility experienced by blacks would also extend to devastating loss of well-paid and stable employment for whites who lacked the higher education now needed to enter the American middle class. By the twenty-first century, general downward mobility had become a defining characteristic of American society, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or gender.”

Statues Tumble

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Sam Gillies via Storyful

ADAM HOCHSCHILD, adamhochschild at earthlink.net
Hochschild has written about the conquest of the Congo in his King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa.

He said today: “As the impact of the video of George Floyd’s killing continues to ricochet around the world, one result has been an epidemic of toppling statues. In the United States, longstanding monuments to Confederate generals have fallen. In Belgium, statues of King Leopold II, the ruthless colonizer of the Congo, have been splashed with red or taken down, and in Australia a mountain range named after him lost its name. In Britain, a statue of Edward Colston, a Bristol merchant and slave trader, was tossed into the city’s harbor.”

Hochschild specifically mentions the statue of Edward Colston in his book on the British antislavery movement, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves.

“When people get shocked by an injustice today,” says Hochschild, “it’s only natural that they look around and realize that, on all sides of us, we have symbols of injustices in the past. We would be shocked if Germany had statues of Hitler in prominent places, but Leopold, like Hitler, was responsible for millions of deaths. I sympathize with the Belgians who want to see him gone. Congo today still suffers from the legacy of its ruthless colonization, and some modern corporations — Unilever, for instance — have roots that go back to the forced labor system founded by Leopold. And in so many ways, in Britain, the United States, and other countries, we are still dealing with the heritage of slavery.”

Hochschild teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of ten books.

Police Should be Under Community Control

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NETFA FREEMAN, netfa at ips-dc.org, @Netfafree
Freeman is a policy analyst with the Institute for Policy Studies and an organizer with Pan-African Community Action. He was interviewed late last year on FAIR’s program CounterSpin: “Community Control Over Police Should Be a Democratic Right.”

He said today: “People most impacted by police repression have a legacy of struggle that should inform what demands any allies support. Black radical tradition of the 60s and 70s has conceived of and fought for Community Control Over Police (CCOP) as a solution and this was readopted by the more contemporary Movement for Black Lives policy platform released in August 2017.

“CCOP would make other demands, like ending qualified immunity or defunding the police redundant and unnecessary. These sorts of reforms are a deterrent away from the more grassroots and power shifting demand for CCOP. With CCOP, communities would be empowered to hire, fire, set priorities and duties of the police, as well as establish the consequences for misconduct. CCOP is actually a democratic human right to self-determination and a recommendation to the U.S. by the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent in 2016.”The other reforms can be won without achieving any power shift at all, but will invariably compel proponents to claim a relatively easy victory [rather than] shifting power to the people most impacted.

“As an institution with origins in the slave patrols and, at the turn of the century, private security agencies hired by owners, policing is about enforcing the laws of white supremacy and capitalism.

“All U.S. armed forces — whether police, National Guard, active-duty military — serve the same essential purpose, to protect the settler colonial and imperialist paradigm. The distinction between them is like that between the FBI and CIA; one enforces domestic domination and the other foreign.”

Freeman is also on the coordinating committee of the Black Alliance for Peace, which works on a host of issues, including calling for shutting down AFRICOM.

Obamacare “Taking a Failed Market System to a Whole New Level”

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http://www.accuracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/acf.jpgKEVIN ZEESE, kzeese at earthlink.net, @KBZeese
MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D., mdpnhp at gmail.com, @MFlowers8
Zeese and Flowers wrote “Obamacare: The Biggest Insurance Scam in History,” just published by truth-out.org.

The piece states: “The ACA [Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare] takes our failed market-based system to a whole new level by forcing the uninsured to purchase private health plans and using the government to sell and subsidize them.

“Sadly, most Americans are being manipulated into supporting the ACA and do not even know they are being bamboozled. … But it is the insurance companies that are realizing windfall profits from the Obamacare con even as it falters.

“The mass media is focused on the technical problems with getting the insurance exchanges up and running. These problems result from the complexity of the law and outsourcing of services to corporations that are often more costly and less effective than government. In comparison, in 1965 when Medicare started, everyone 65 and over was enrolled within six months – using index cards.

“If all U.S. residents were in one plan, Medicare for all, rather than the ACA’s tiered system that institutionalizes the class divides in the United States, not only would the health system be fairer and improve health outcomes, but it would be less bureaucratic, less costly and easier to implement. The Medicare-for-all approach considers health care to be a public good, something that all people need, like schools, roads and fire departments.”

The piece also notes that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen “Sebelius is seeking funds from groups like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block. And the Hill noted, ‘Obama himself made a vague but personal appeal for a close partnership with insurers, which some in the industry saw as a precursor to direct fundraising pitches.’ In April 2013, ‘Obama reportedly sat in for an hour-long meeting he was initially not scheduled to attend and told insurance executives that the White House and the industry were now “joined at the hip” trying to make the healthcare law work.'”

Zeese and Flowers host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org and co-direct It’s Our Economy. Flowers is former congressional fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program and is on the board of Healthcare-Now.