Marxism

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02 Apr

Hours per Week to Earn Living (minimum) Wage: 138

in Capitalism, Economy, Marxism

At least in my native New Jersey, though according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “in no state can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom unit at Fair Market rent, working a standard 40-hour work week.”  Where does your state fall?  Click for larger version:

2012-OOR-Min-Wage-Map_0

Cut this in half for all you naysayers who don’t believe minimum wage workers should support families on a full-time income and this is still untenable in the majority of populous states.

But hey, poor people are just lazy.

On a side note, I just finished watching In Time (go Timberlake!) which, albeit not the most stunning cinematic adventure, is spot-on in its portrayal of capitalism's in-built need for stratification.  Raising the minimum wage is well and good, but an incomplete solution when the capitalist aristocracy can simply outsource jobs, raise prices, lobby for looser OSHA regulations, etc. 

Instead of raising bottom-end wages, we might explore doing away with them entirely in favor of maximum-ratio enforcement.  Pay employees whatever you want, so long as they earn no less than, say 25 times what the highest-paid employee earns (indexed to corporate tax rates).  Want to pay a $7 hourly ($14,000 annual) minumum?  Fine, so long as you cap your own salary at $350,000.  Not bad, eh?  Need a boost for that second yacht?  No worries ... pay your line workers $10/hour and you're good to go. 

Indexing wages to prosperity maintains a system of reward vs. risk while playing fair with the production class.  And hey, it comes with the added bonus of delaying class consciousness for another few decades.  That's right -- Maximum Ratio: Keeping you safe from worker revolts since 2012!

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13 Dec

The Violence Within: Bring the troops home

in Barack Hussein Obama, Capitalism, Corporatism, Foreign Policy, Marxism, Military

With the stroke of his talented larynx, Obama bids adieu to the Iraqi occupation by declaring that “those days are over.”  Aside from the physical relocation of America’s armed expression from one base to another, I’m not entirely sure what days he means.  Of course, all but his most fervent ideologues know that this is more of a pre-election year holiday salve than substantial shift in foreign policy.  A steaming pile of ho-ho-ho to maybe help forget this shameful conquest so we can go on pretending that we do not provide the mechanism for multi-national corporations to endlessly divert capital from periphery to core. 

But hey, score one for the bumper-magnet ribbon crowd who can now rejoice over years of straddling some imaginary line between abhorring the war yet supporting the troops. 

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06 Dec

Do you earn or do you profit?

in Capitalism, Economy, Marxism

As per youzsh, XKCD is the kink of visualizations and has done it again with the newest chart on money.  The teeny-tiny version below really needs to be viewed in full size to have any sort of grasp on how perverse pervasive the income gap has become. 

money

I though this made a timely contrast with Dan Gillmor’s recent insistence on rejecting the term ‘earn’ when it comes to the income of the 1%:

To be sure, one of the meanings of "to earn" is "to profit financially" – but it is not the only one. The other major meaning is related to whether someone has deserved his or her gain, which may or may not be about money. Because the word has both connotations, we tend to attach both when the topic is about financial profits.

If we know anything about the recent income and accumulated assets of the now notorious 1%, it is that much of this wealth, by any rational standard, is undeserved. This applies especially to the Wall Street bankers who looted the global economy with sleazy tactics and, sadly, also with impunity.

That is why, if I was the editor in charge of any news organisation, I would flatly ban the use of the word "earned", when "profited" or "made" (as in money) would be much more accurate, or at least neutral. I would not try to say who "deserved" profits; only that profits were made.

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."

18 Nov

More thoughts on civility in political discourse

in Barack Hussein Obama, Democracy, Elections, Libertarianism, Marxism, Politics, Republicans, Tea Party
An illustrative representation of a "Civi...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling to find my voice these last few years.  Those of you who have been following this blog since 2002 probably recall the days when I was a great deal more hostile than I am today.  I wish I could say that I’ve tempered this because of some transcendent cognitive shift or, even better, my fellow herd-mates actually doing less to piss me off.  It is true that my Ph.D., publications and other projects have given me a more proactive outlet for these emotions, but only among (let’s face it) a very, very small segment of the population both equipped and amenable to engaging on this this level.  In other words, eggheads.

No, if I have been more civil on this blog of late it is because I have been self-censoring.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing - the motivation for thinking before I blog still rings true.  I want to see some rather profound changes in the world I live, and that starts with me.  Poking fun and otherwise berating people for their beliefs, no matter how willfully ignorant I feel they may be, will not lead to change.  In fact, the opposite is probably more true – calling someone out on their idiocy is just going to make them a louder, more defensive idiot.  So I am trying (with at best a modicum of success) to be the change I wish to see.

That said, I remain a work in progress and have chosen to remain fairly mum throughout the last election season.  Yet following on Monday’s post about civility in the media, I do recognize that while my censorship may not add to the rampant taint among armchair pundits, it certainly does nothing to help either.  I want to be certain that I am not using civility as an excuse for cowardice; that friend, family, peace-activist or hater, if you’re being an asshat, I hope to have the courage to tell you so.  And I hope for the insight to tell you in such a way as to heal, not hurt.  I still don’t know if these aims can coexist.

Would, therefore, that I were a humorist instead of a cynic, I might be able to publish something constructive instead of telling you outright that if you think Obama is a socialist I strongly believe that you are either willfully ignorant of what this means, a weak-minded sheep, or an unabashed racist and I defy you to provide a smidge of evidence to the veracity of this nonsense.  But if you think he is on your side, that Obama spends his days trying to fight for the middle class, then you’re just as deluded. 

I lobbied for Obama.  I did it because I believed (and remain convinced) that he is infintiely more qualified for the job than McCain/Palin would have been and have neither regretted my efforts nor my vote.  But this president, like any other in my lifetime, is beholden to the same neoliberal machine as the Republicans you probably voted for (even if fooling yourself into believing that a ‘Tea Party’ candidate is not a Republican).  You don’t get elected to high-level office in this country without espousing the values of top-down economics, regardless of party.  The fact that you keep voting against your own economic interests is an indication of how strongly our global hegemons have convinced you to identify with their value system.  And I believe that this identification lies at the root of much suffering in the world.

I love you all, but will continue to shout - in the nicest possible way - that I think you’re being a tool until either the machine breaks down, we achieve class consciousness, or both.

TMW2010-11-17colorlowres


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15 Nov

Are Americans too busy to think critically?

in Capitalism, Congress, Corporatism, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, Libertarianism, Marxism, Politics
Postneoliberalista

Image by UN MANUÉ via Flickr

Alternet has yet another compilation of 16 of the dumbest things Americans believe --- taxes went up under Obama, Hussein was connected with 9/11, ad nauseum.  Articles like these may salve the sensibilities of those not victim to the propaganda machine of a certain billionaire and corporate-sponsored “grassroots” movement currently in the ascendency, but no matter how blatant a lie is exposed, it will do little to sway those who believe the big lie – that U.S. media has a liberal bias. 

So what to do in a political and cultural landscape in which well-told lies have more validity than fact-based truth:

“...by a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—"civil," just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie.”

We’ve entered a bizzarro world in which calling out lies is considered rude, says Perlstein, so liars are allowed to sit tight and dominate the discourse. This gels with Bill Maher’s critique of the Rally for Sanity, that calling for “balance for balance’s sake” ignores two important aspects of news reporting: facts and evidence.

The modern left is saddled with a two-fold curse.  The first is the erroneous belief that civility is paramount – a paradigmatic weakness that prevents us from calling out lies and the liars who repeat them.  The second is the conundrum that left-leaning politicians are beholden to the same corporate interests that drive such lies.  True Enough has become the mantra of the modern-era; a policy of ignoring the “little” lies, laughing at the big ones, and losing elections rather than bucking the status quo.

Blaming Americans for being ignorant unwashed masses--or taking potshots at an education system that doesn’t teach critical thinking-- would be the easy answer to this conundrum.

But the reality is that if messaging has such a big effect on Americans, then messaging matters.

And indeed, it is messaging over fact that drives the 21st century political consumer.  The intelligentsia and masses alike fight a perpetual battle over whose lie can achieve critical mass (hint – the corporate media are neither left- nor right-wing, but overwhelmingly neoliberal) while multi-national corporations continue to consolidate power.  In the end, it really doesn’t matter what liars control which body of government; the debate itself is king.  Our capacity to choose tribal identity over self-interest keeps us all distracted from the only truth that matters – that the interests of the ruling class are not our own.


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