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Arts and Culture

Benjamin Barber on ‘Supercapitalism’

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Posted on Dec 13, 2007
supercapitalism

By Benjamin Barber

(Page 2)

Take the example of Google in China.  If you want to see China’s censorship of free speech defeated, don’t expect Google to do it; its executives don’t—and shouldn’t, according to Reich—“concern themselves with the moral question of when to defy a government. They have no authority to make such a decision. They are in business to make money for their shareholders.” The way to promote human rights in China is to “pass a law barring American companies from helping the Chinese government hobble the free speech of its citizens.” Ultimately, there is no privileged role for consumers or producers in the democratic process; only citizens have a right and an obligation to secure public goods and deal with the social costs of private-market choices.

Thus does Reich consecrate the social division of labor that allows the market to make money and democracy to promote justice. In his variation of Pope Gregory’s medieval doctrine of the two swords (render under Caesar those things that belong to Caesar and unto God those that are God’s), we should as consumers and producers render unto the market the profits that are its due, and as citizens give to democracy the power to regulate and oversee that is its right.

Reich’s is a beguiling argument with much to recommend it. But it is an argument that fails to take the full measure of its own political implications. What Reich seems not to fully understand is that both traditional democratic capitalism and the new supercapitalism oppose, manipulate, infiltrate and exploit government for their own private ends. Firm by firm, sector by sector, the goal is profit-maximizing, cost-slashing monopoly—whether it is secured by preventing government from cartel-busting intervention or using government intervention to put rivals out of business.

The underlying reality is the permanent tension between private-market interests and public goods. Reich’s rather lame argument that women and men are of “two minds” about their role as choosers does not capture the fundamental clash between private and public interests, between consumerism and citizenship. Consumers are indeed torn between their desire to get cheap and diverse goods from Wal-Mart without penalizing workers (Wal-Mart lowers prices on the back of its labor force with low wages and lousy or no pensions); they want extensive choice but do not wish to wreak havoc on local communities (driving small retail stores out of business and undermining the communities these retail stores anchor).

Yet what is at stake is a veritable civic schizophrenia that pits the consumer in each of us against the citizen in each of us. More nefariously, as the market assumes the state’s sovereignty (language Reich does not use), it tries to persuade us that private consumer choices are sufficient to deal with the social consequences of private choice. They are not. There is a profound difference between private liberty (choosing what “I want”) and public liberty (choosing what “we as a community need”). It is not just a matter of a contest between a me and a we, or of balancing private preference and public goods. It is a dispute over the essential meaning of liberty, an argument about whether personal (consumer) liberty, so often trivial and insufficient, can really be a surrogate for political liberty, which alone is public and regulatory. After all, the very meaning of democratic sovereignty is that the democratic we (public liberty) always and necessarily trumps the private me (individual liberty). Only public liberty can serve the commonweal.

Reich has an inkling that our predicament has to do with the unbalancing of the relationship between markets and the state, and the subordination of the latter to the former, but he appears not to understand that these are permanent features of the relationship between capitalism and democracy, not a peculiar feature of supercapitalism. The full restoration of democratic sovereignty is the only way to treat with the malicious social consequences of private consumer choosing. Yes, as consumers we like Wal-Mart and gas-guzzling cars, but as citizens we care about justice, community and ecology, so we make public choices that limit private liberty but enhance our public liberty. It is not consumers versus workers— “consumers get great deals largely because workers get shafted”—it is consumers versus citizens.

The issue is not about how market economics works but how democracy works. It is not about overheated supercapitalism, which is ultimately not so different from the old temperate capitalism, but about underachieving democracy. The battle is not over economic doctrine, but over political ideology, a battle Reich derides or ignores. The struggle is to overcome the privatizing ideology of the right-wing neoliberals—the struggle to confront consumer capitalism’s new and pernicious practices of marketing, branding, targeting children, dumbing down adults, and totalizing our plural life-worlds in order to keep markets humming, at whatever price to democracy and the commonweal.

Reich is on the right road, but pays little heed to real political and civic allies. Capitalism is a cultural and psychological as well as an economic phenomenon, and the ethos of modern consumer capitalism is infantilizing and totalizing in ways that can be neither disclosed nor remedied by economics alone.

Retrieving democracy is the common goal for economic progressives like Reich and humanist and cultural progressives. But to triumph over private interest they must acknowledge each other and work together, recognizing that what is economic is also cultural, what is psychological is also economic, and that the ultimate struggle is political. Under neither the old capitalism, in which monopolies belied the “free” competitiveness of the market sector and opposed government intervention, nor supercapitalism, in which corporate rivals use government to quash their competitors, can the public interest be sustained in the absence of the sovereignty of citizens and the subordination of private to public liberty. The struggle for democratic sovereignty remains the common struggle.

Benjamin Barber, distinguished senior fellow at Demos in New York, is the author of numerous books, including “Jihad vs. McWorld” and “Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole.”


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By DAveKnTux, June 15, 2009 at 4:29 am Link to this comment

There are some interesting points made about the power of lobbying and its insidious grip upon democracy. the fact that an offshore drilling site was not stopped becuase of an environmental group, but instead was stopped by the tourism industry shows just how much money effects legislation and political action. if the anthropogenic global warming lobby had more money then perhaps they would be able effectively campaign against big business and supercapitalism.

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By mohamed el faiz, March 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

my name is mohamed el faiz im 19 years old i hope rap music i from al hocima

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By jackpine savage, January 9, 2008 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment

There are a few fundamental issues we should address that build on both the book and the review.

Democracy is about responsibility.  It is the citizen’s responsibility to be informed and vote well, i.e. as an informed citizen.  It is the government’s responsibility to do the will of the people.

Market capitalism is about everything except responsibility.  If we want capitalism to reflect, rather than undermine, democracy then we must inject some responsibility into it.

Corporations should be responsible for what they like to call “externalized costs”, i.e. poisoning the community in which they operate.  That’s difficult, because the corporation always turns around and uses the, “we have to be profitable for the shareholders” excuse. 

So maybe we should make shareholders responsible, in both civil and criminal court, for the actions of the companies in which they are part owner.  At the very least it would make people start thinking about the behavior of companies which they partially own.  And it would surely make corporations clean up their societal act if they hope to attract investment.

It might even end the American middle class’ infatuation with the stock market and start putting investment in local economies where the long-term benefits would be greater, though the returns might be less.

Limited liability is an open invitation to lie, cheat, rape, and steal.

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By Bobadi, December 24, 2007 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

John Borowski said:
“Bobadi I think you are thinking of Western Europe. The British and Americans were alarmed by the discontent of the people and because so many were joining the Communist Party. The British and American governments came up with a plan they called the Marshall Plan to head off the intrusion by the Communist Party. Whenever the people are homeless, jobless, and foodless they usually turn to Communism. This was also a concern in the US during the depression in the 1930s when Communism gained its greatest advance in this country. The Marshall Plan spent thirteen billion dollars (In the forties thirteen billion was a phenomenal amount) to help restore Western Europe back to normalcy. Starting in July 1947 and ending in 1951 it restored the countries except for Germany back to prewar level. Oddly enough they offered the Soviet Union aid with strings attached, but the Soviet Union said NYET.”

Bobadi replies:
Sorry that it took me awhile to find it, but in his book:
“Japan; Who Governs? The rise of the developmental state” by Chalmers Johnson, he states the following:

“American economic theory and Cold War strategy interacted to produce an environment of condescension toward and self-delusion about the Japanese economy. As Kenneth Pyle has written; “More than any other country, Japan was the beneficiary of the postwar international order. For more than a quarter of a century after the end of WWII, Japan operated in extraordinary and uniquely favorable political-economic circumstances.” As part of its competition with the Soviet Union, the US traded economic concessions and access to its own markets for overseas basing rights, votes in the UN, and passive support of its war in southeast Asia.

  More important, the US developed a radical version of the laissez-faire doctrine to oppose to Marxism-Leninism in the ideological dimension of the Cold War.”

It seems to me this is the bolstering of Japan’s economy for the purpose of tricking communists into adopting capitalism, am I wrong in this?

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By xcanada2, December 22, 2007 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Barber, great analysis!  Which leads me to think:

John Edwards is the candidate who promises to break the lobbyist regime, and return democracy to the people.  Obviously he is a fighter, and also a person who has been brought down to Earth, i.e, the common citizen’s level, by events (son of mill worker, self-made man, loss of close, beloved 16 year old son, wife’s cancer).

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By DennisD, December 22, 2007 at 8:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#120106 by GW=MCHammered on 12/13 at 11:11 pm

You nailed it GW. It’s called “Supercrapitalism”.

“Today, back in the more comfortable setting of academia” - says it all - academia is about as far removed from reality as you can get.

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By cyrena, December 22, 2007 at 12:21 am Link to this comment

#121043 by John Borowski

John Borowski,

I didn’t know HALF this stuff!!! For instance, about the Japanese Constitution being written in English, and constructed by McArthur with covert help from the Brits. Oh man. I’ve even been to Japan a few times, and never even NOTICED the lettering on the banks.

Geeze…it’s so depressing.

I DID know that the US military in Japan has been a permanent fixture. I DIDN’T know that the Japanese actually had to PAY for that ‘privilege’. (which of course includes the rather frequent crimes of rape against the Japanese women there)

Guess I’m not surprised.

Anyway, thanks for the additional knowledge.

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By i,Q, December 19, 2007 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment

Way to show some backbone and take personal responsibility, ‘Nuts!

If we hold each other to higher standards rather than slapping each other on the back while chanting “U - S - A!” or irreconcilably dividing our political selves along socio-religious lines and taunting the “other” with meaningless epithets and plugging our ears to arguments and closing our eyes to the faces of those we share our country with, maybe we will see that fundamentally we all want to live, be free and happy, and that the sacrifice needed to protect it isn’t necessarily American blood, it can be as simple as getting motivated and getting educated about what your vote means and who it will truly empower.

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By I.M. numbnuts re:JBorowski, December 19, 2007 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Adm-may have double-posted—problems lately

#120593 by John Borowski on 12/16 at 11:39 am
“Like the king of England, the president of our country is just a figure-head. The all powerful industrial and military complex runs things.”

John—I’ve got to disagree with you and Pres.Eisenhower and probably everyone else on this site. All overt abuses of power are backed up by threat of physical violence. This can, for sure, include things like the dumping of disease-inducing chemicals in one’s town but the delivery system for the violence is a constant: weak-willed people who carry out unjust orders. Without their “enforcers,” centers of power are helpless. We and our kids, I’m afraid, are the enemy.

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By John Borowski, December 19, 2007 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bobadi I think you are thinking of Western Europe. The British and Americans were alarmed by the discontent of the people and because so many were joining the Communist Party. The British and American governments came up with a plan they called the Marshall Plan to head off the intrusion by the Communist Party. Whenever the people are homeless, jobless, and foodless they usually turn to Communism. This was also a concern in the US during the depression in the 1930s when Communism gained its greatest advance in this country. The Marshall Plan spent thirteen billion dollars (In the forties thirteen billion was a phenomenal amount) to help restore Western Europe back to normalcy. Starting in July 1947 and ending in 1951 it restored the countries except for Germany back to prewar level. Oddly enough they offered the Soviet Union aid with strings attached, but the Soviet Union said NYET.

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By Bobadi, December 19, 2007 at 10:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John, (Borowski) I don’t think we have anything to argue about here.
I believe what you say is true, but I would only add that it was desirable that Japan be bolstered with its “economic boon” by the United States for the purpose of an allure, to sow attraction for capitalism in socialist/communist nations, which I see as now coming to nearly complete fruition.
Its not what ultimately did them in, but it was part of the plan; to produce a “come on” to these nation’s people; of what kind of “lifestyle” could be made possible if they were to adopt capitalism.
If this were true, then it would be interesting to see what happens to Japan now and in the future if they are no longer so much needed to sow the seeds of discord in others.

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By Bobadi, December 19, 2007 at 10:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John, (Borowski)

I don’t think we have anything to argue about here.
I believe what you say is true, but I would only add that it was desirable that Japan be bolstered with its “economic boon” by the United States for the purpose of an allure, to sow attraction for capitalism in socialist/communist nations, which I see as now coming to nearly complete fruition.
Its not what ultimately did them in, but it was part of the plan; to produce a “come on” to these nation’s people; of what kind of “lifestyle” could be made possible if they were to adopt capitalism.
If this were true, then it would be interesting to see what happens to Japan now and in the future if they are no longer so much needed to sow the seeds of discord in others.

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By John Borowski, December 18, 2007 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So as not to get the currency traders in a panic, it is ONE DOLLAR for one hundred yen.

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By John Borowski, December 18, 2007 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bobadi are you aware what it means to have to sell your soul to the British and American countries? They don’t have to entice the Japanese, they command them. Do you know that the Japanese Constitution is written in English not in Japanese? Do you know that the composers of the Japanese Constitution were General Macarthur and some covert help from the British? Do you know that the banks have big English letters and below smaller Japanese letters on their buildings? Do you know that the American arm forces are still over in Japan? Do you know the cost of having the American troops over there is paid for by the Japanese? Do you know that if a Japanese man offered me one hundred yen (The Japanese version of our dollar) for my penny he would be making a profit on me? Do you know if I buy a Japanese Echo or Yaris for fourteen thousand dollars (I’m not a fantasy woods driver, a fantasy sex idol driver, a fantasy ego driver, or a fantasy race car driver) the money I gave them doesn’t go to Japan? It first goes to an American bank and then to US Treasury bonds etc. Do you know that many public places in Japan have emergency exit signs in English not Japanese? Do you know that there are a myriad of things that indicate Japan is about as close to being a colony as a country can get? (Too numerous to mention here)

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By i,Q, December 18, 2007 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

i was wondering if you could go into a little more detail about how the British are keeping the American electorate down?

My theory: MI6 sent Sean Connery to kill Kennedy and cleverly arranged for it all to look as if Lee Harvey Oswald had done it, then within months they sent their elite propaganda unit stateside to undermine the American youth with their hysteria-inducing rock and roll sounds.. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles.”

No wonder the gin and tonic has come back in style…

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By Expat, December 18, 2007 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

#120857 by 1dree5 on 12/17 at 5:47 pm
(144 comments total)

I tried to understand your post, really, I did, but it’s incomprehensible.  So tell me, what are you trying to say?

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By John Borowski, December 18, 2007 at 7:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When 6 traitors over-threw the Soviet Union no one, not even the venerable New York Times (The British flag ship) reported the over-throw. It is analogous to the sky falling down and not one of the media reports it. So too the over-throw of the US by the military and industrial complexes with help from their lackeys the Republicans (Aka Conservatives right wingers) was not reported by any of the media. It is sad to see that most Americans still believe they can vote out the Republicans (Aka Conservatives right wingers) and get rid of their cohorts the military and industrial complexes. They actually believe they can get their beloved country back. (They can’t) The game plan by these evils is to create a world dictatorship and call it “freedom democracy globalization”. The US overthrow is interesting because unlike the Soviet Union (Which was perpetrated spontaneously) the US overthrow was done in slow motion through the years by the British, Nixon, Reagan, and the two Bush. If the American people took action when warned of the overthrow by Eisenhower in the early sixties we could have circumvented their game plan. Now it is too little, too late. The Democrats facing the god-like power of this troika was like a flea challenging an evil elephant to a tug of war. (The Kennedys tried it and look where it got them) There is a law of fate (That can’t be violated) that tells us absolute wealth and absolute power will corrupt absolutely.

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By i,Q, December 18, 2007 at 1:13 am Link to this comment

Hello all! Interesting thoughts on the future of Africa. What do the Africans have to say about it i wonder?

But my real curiosity here is this: several of you have stated something to the effect that lobbyists own Washington. While that may appear to be true, as i’m sure the lobbyists and those they represent would like it to seem (in point of fact it is the laziness of the electorate which allows them to continue to have their way with legislature), i’m more interested in strategies or suggestions on how we might take our government back. i think this is what Benjamin was referring to when he said that “the struggle for democratic sovereignty remains the common struggle.”

In the hypothetical, the government should be the feedback machine with which the citizenry can correct the oppression of those with power who would unfairly exercise it over what are in effect their “subjects.” The corporations and the ruling elite cannot keep their favoring politicians in power without our consent, and ultimately the power to change government rests in the hands of the voting citizen (at least until the Diebold machines become omnipresent!).

I am astonished as is John Borowski at the A-Holes who vote against their own interests and keep the corporate demagoguery in power, and it is far too similar on the other side of the isle as well. i would like to see a spread of genuine intellectual curiosity in those who currently rely on sound bites and news-magazine cover stories to decide who is “most electable” among the “frontrunners.”

Unlike the relative helplessness with which the consumer finds himself at the whims of the producer in the domain of market capitalism, the electorate actually wields a great deal of (potential) power to create useful governance, but willingly gives that away, often knowing full well that they are being manipulated by the so-called powers that be. i am no longer satisfied with the “Well, what can I do about it?” attitude.

As a nation, we are like the cigarette smoker who is perpetually “going to quit tomorrow.” We know exactly what is going to kill us in the long run, but we just need our ten minute nic-fix right now.

My suggestion: get smart, vote smarter, and vote more often. And if you’re too lazy to get smart, please do us all a favor and be too lazy to vote too.

On that note, i’m going to go and have a smoke.

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By Bobadi, December 16, 2007 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John Borowski said:
“Years ago the media told us that we would be second-rate to Japan eventually. Japan had to sell their souls to the victor as a requirement of unconditional surrender. Their post- war success was accomplished by large Western World companies feeding on the qualities of the Japanese people. When China offered vast amount of cheap labor the robber barons took down their tents in Japan and moved to China. As a result of this action Japan is now an economic basket case. One would wonder why China a communist nation would be in bed with Capitalist countries.”

From my reading of Chalmers Johnson; Japan was propped up by the US to con other nations (notable communist) to adopt our Capitalist system rather then anything resembling socialism.

A come-on that has apparently worked, as shown by capitalism’s advance to Russia and China.

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By John Borowski, December 16, 2007 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After World War 2 the US was the only major industrial power that wasn’t devastated. As a consequence, industry in this country had business with little or no competition. It took the other industrial powers about twenty years to get back in the game. Similar to 9/11, Churchill came over to this country and scared the crap out of us by referring to the Iron Curtain. This scare gave the military a blank check to spend as they pleased. The results of this were the industrial and military complexes became five hundred pound gorillas. President Eisenhower was alarmed by this and he warned the American people that this country had a muddy road ahead. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears. Like the king of England, the president of our country is just a figure-head. The all powerful industrial and military complex runs things.

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By John Borowski, December 16, 2007 at 6:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Years ago the media told us that we would be second-rate to Japan eventually. Japan had to sell their souls to the victor as a requirement of unconditional surrender. Their post- war success was accomplished by large Western World companies feeding on the qualities of the Japanese people. When China offered vast amount of cheap labor the robber barons took down their tents in Japan and moved to China. As a result of this action Japan is now an economic basket case. One would wonder why China a communist nation would be in bed with Capitalist countries. China knows that they are not at the level of technology that the Capitalist world is. The tortoise knows, they can catch up to the hare in technology if they allow the capitalist to do their “technology stuff” in their country. In the old days the country that had cannon always defeated the country that had spears. Today, the country that has technology will defeat the country that has infantry. Globalization can only work if you have one world government. There never will be two types of political systems living symbiotically in globalization.

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By Expat, December 15, 2007 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

Addendum:
I’m thinking China will usurp the western powers in Africa because they’re not asking for things like human rights and other troublesome requirements.  I’m thinking education will be made available for the gifted outside of their native country to return later, grateful, and compliant.  China seems to have the long view.

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By Expat, December 15, 2007 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

#120369 by John Borowski on 12/15 at 7:04 am
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for your kind words.  I agree that educated people are the true resource.  I see China pouring a many billions dollars into Africa.  Their investment now, will gain them huge dividends in the near future (both human and mineral).  It would appear China is using “soft” diplomacy and hard cash.  We on the other hand are using high tech killing machines and a very small amount of coercive, hard diplomacy there.  Africa is the last continent not yet controlled by one of the super-powers and it looks like we’re going to lose that one.  We preface everything with our hypocritical democracy first mantra: However we only do that with countries we’re pretty sure we can beat up militarily.  In this China sees the future and we are blinded by our dogma.  It will be interesting and disturbing to see how we divide up another people and their continent.

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By Expat, December 15, 2007 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

#120376 by Douglas Chalmers on 12/15 at 7:31 am
(1503 comments total)

The new “new world order” (the G77) have imposed a “roadmap” upon the USA at the Bali conference through 2009 and beyond. Its all happening…... America is now a climate-change follower. It will never be a leader of anything ever again!

Yeah, I saw that.  Yeeha!  Humbled at last.  Now, who’s going to break the news to Dickey?

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By Douglas Chalmers, December 15, 2007 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

#120368 by Expat on 12/15: “Now, rhetorical question of the hour; who can lead us there?  I think none of the front runners….”

Of course not, Expat - they are no longer capable of doing so as they have lost their connection with what empowers us all. That is not the wilderness of “materialism” but LIFE Itself, uhh.

The new “new world order” (the G77) have imposed a “roadmap” upon the USA at the Bali conference through 2009 and beyond. Its all happening…... America is now a climate-change follower. It will never be a leader of anything ever again!

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By Expat, December 15, 2007 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

Time check…it’s 10 pm here…the post says 7 am.
Thats west coast standard time USA (7 am) we’re 15 hours ahead.

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By John Borowski, December 15, 2007 at 8:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To Expat: After the “Free World” found six traitors to overthrow the Soviet Union by putting a billion dollars in each traitor’s pocket, the rape of the vast wealth of the country’s resources began. To the robber barons’ surprise, there was even greater wealth in the highly intelligent, trained, and educated people to exploit. This human wealth was by far even greater than the resources in that country. In China there exists the same highly intelligent, trained, and educated “gold mine” of people to exploit. (The robber barons are searching for 6 Chinese traitors currently) It is worth participating in a web site when you find people like Expat on it. I agree with everything Expat writes except for Africa. This continent has always been ripe for the raping by the robber barons except for one important factor. Because they were dominated by the British and European robber barons for centuries (The robber barons had cannon and the natives only had spears) it benefited them to keep the people in those countries uneducated and exploit their resources. As a result the people were not trained or educated like those in the Soviet Union or China. The qualities of the Africans are equal to any other country in this sad world. The problem in Africa is it would take many, many years to upgrade most of the people there because of the scourge of colonialism. Even though most countries are supposedly free, they are run by lackeys for the British and European powers. Those countries that are determined to be sovereign are blacklisted economically.

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By Expat, December 15, 2007 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

#120341 by Douglas Chalmers on 12/15 at 4:19 am
(1497 comments total)
The new government in Australia came only after 11 years or so of heartbreak there for many suffering under a backwards Neocon “conservative” government. It has now been quickly accepted again by the international community with meaningful action for positive change at the Bali conference. One day, perhaps the USA WILL BE ABLE TO DO LIKEWISE - maybe, uhh???

Wouldn’t that be great?  Now, rhetorical question of the hour; who can lead us there?  I think none of the front runners.

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By Douglas Chalmers, December 15, 2007 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

#120334 by Expat on 12/15: “...I would like to see us come back as an honest broker; not the fascistic entity, we have become.  We should have a place at the table but not at the head…”

The new government in Australia came only after 11 years or so of heartbreak there for many suffering under a backwards Neocon “conservative” government. It has now been quickly accepted again by the international community with meaningful action for positive change at the Bali conference. One day, perhaps the USA WILL BE ABLE TO DO LIKEWISE - maybe, uhh???

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By Expat, December 15, 2007 at 4:58 am Link to this comment

#120323 by Douglas Chalmers on 12/15 at 2:16 am
(1492 comments total)

Africa will be the next level playing field of the Chinese and the Indians, Expat, but NOT the USA. Its over, uhh - the US has just been given “the roadmap” by the new world order!

Yes, agreed.  We are in our deserved decline. I have always liked the saying, “We (the US) are not the only super power, there is the rest of the world.”  Our lovely pres has effectively activated that axiom.  I would like to see us come back as an honest broker; not the fascistic entity, we have become.  We should have a place at the table but not at the head.  I prefer round tables for discussion.

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By Douglas Chalmers, December 15, 2007 at 3:16 am Link to this comment

#120171 by Expat on 12/14: “Capitalism as practiced in the west is an irresponsible, state sponsored, out of control version of the robber barons….. Social policies, rules of law, health care, policing of citizens and foreign policy decisions all made based on the will of corporations….. Capitalism, not held to strict standards of ethics is the worst poison polluting this planet and is the root cause of the ills leading us into the 21st century….”

Africa will be the next level playing field of the Chinese and the Indians, Expat, but NOT the USA. Its over, uhh - the US has just been given “the roadmap” by the new world order!

This is no longer about “supercapitalism” but the ramifcations of climate change. America has just had to accept that now in Bali and realize that it can no longer dictate terms to any nation….....

The deal after two-weeks of talks is a step towards slowing global warming that the U.N. climate panel says is caused by human activities, led by burning fossil fuels. The meeting approved a “roadmap” for talks to adopt a new treaty to succeed Kyoto at a meeting in Copenhagen in 2009.

After being berated by numerous nations, a wave of relief swept the room filled with weary delegates when the United States relented. The U.S. delegation dropped it opposition to a proposal by the main developing nation bloc, the G77, for rich nations to do more for the developing world to fight rising greenhouse emissions. http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSL1412327320071215?sp=true

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By John Borowski, December 14, 2007 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bush and his right wing cabal (Aka Republican Conservatives) are determined to give the five percent of the super rich ninety percent of the wealth of this country. If you are a John Doe type and are willing to vote Republican, in my opinion your are an A—H—- because your ignorance is screwing ninety five percent of the American people and your own family. The only remaining party is the Democrats. The British will not allow the Democrats to win the elections unless they are seventy five percent for the super rich.

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By terry jeffers, December 14, 2007 at 11:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Barber and Mr. Reich are talking about the problem very well.  A big part of the solution, it seems to me, is campaign finance reform.  Part of that is a legislative solution to cease defining a corporation as a “person.”  If a corporation is no longer defined as a person, its speech can be regulated.

If we could keep corporate money, all of it, out of elections, and limit the amount that corporations may spend on lobbyists, it would go some of the way towards solving the problem.

Then the government might have some breathing room to work on the underlying problems of citizens and would-be citizens: our bad-and- getting-worse level of education, and the other problems identified by Mssrs. Barber and Reich.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, December 14, 2007 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

I share Mr Barber’s skepticism that the forces of democracy can counter the new hypercapitalism. The problem lies in a highly evolved mechanism in which all moral considerations are peripheral to the profit imperative. This provides an opportunity, an obligation even, for decision makers within corporate structures to decline all moral responsibility. They can not be blamed. Any decision that favors the greater good (no matter how little) at the expense of profit (no matter how small) will result in their dismissal.

Government won’t help. They are in the corporations’ pockets. Besides, gov’t intervention is notoriously unwieldy, and subject to errors in judgement.

The only effective weapon against this trend is consumer education and awareness. But in a society that valorizes greed to the point of making heroes out of the likes of Donald Trump, a sea-change in the countries collective mindset seems about as likely as Santa climbing down my chimney with a $5000 set of golf clubs (made in China?). In other words, we are probably doomed.

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By Robert B. Livingston, December 14, 2007 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

I like cognitorex ‘s comment.  It is common for people to say that “we want services, but we do not want to pay taxes.” (As if fair taxes are inconceivable.)

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By GW=MCHammered, December 14, 2007 at 10:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert Reich also says, “Societies are fragile things, they’re based on trust. If people don’t feel that they have a fair chance of getting ahead, a lot of people feel excluded. That’s not good for society. That doesn’t keep America together.” Perhaps his book more accurately should be titled ‘ZüperKapitalizm’.

The End of Globalization?

“Contemporary America’s biggest export now appears to be the well-paid jobs of its middle class. The trend that began with blue-collar workers and has expanded to software engineers will hit investment bankers and pharmaceutical researchers next, says Alan Blinder, a professor at Princeton University and a former deputy chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank. According to Blinder, up to 40 million American jobs—representing twice as many people as are currently working in the US industrial sector today—could face the threat of outsourcing.”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,522628,00.html

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By ElkoJohn, December 14, 2007 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

the chickens will come home to roost via global warming, oil wars, religion wars… fasten your seatbelts.

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By Expat, December 14, 2007 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Capitalism as practiced in the west is an irresponsible, state sponsored, out of control version of the robber barons of the 19th century.  I have a rather pedestrian view of where we are going with corporatism (fascism); we have entered an era of governments becoming the instruments of the corporatists.  Social policies, rules of law, health care, policing of citizens and foreign policy decisions all made based on the will of corporations. With increasing globalization, corporations now have no allegiance to any persons or governments; only shareholders.  Economies move to the next, cheapest labor market to be exploited until used up and then move on from there to the next available cheap labor market.  Africa will be the next labor market to be over taken by western capitalism followed closely by China.  The corporations have already been moving in that direction. 
Capitalism, not held to strict standards of ethics is the worst poison polluting this planet and is the root cause of the ills leading us into the 21st century.

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By G.Anderson, December 14, 2007 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

After reading this I wondered aloud to myself, if Mr. Reich had really understood what he said.

Yes, I would agree our government is now owned by the corporations. Isnt’ that what a plutocracy is all about?

Yet, everywhere I see the results of American Corporations greed and incompetance, failing corporations like GM and Ford, the disapearance of America’s infrastructure, and a falling standard of living.

I wonder how American’s will feel about this when it’s foreign corporations who begin to buy our government, and control it’s politics.

No wonder Washington has adopted corporate America’s ideology, of the public be damned.

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By cognitorex, December 14, 2007 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Corporations thirty years ago contributed over twenty percent of the tax revenues collected by our IRS. That number is now only seven percent.
Presumably this has come about in part because of the modern ability with computers to instantly reallocate costs, profit centers and scheme like deductions on a global scale.
It has also come about as the hordes from K Street each win a tax break here and a tax break there from their future brethren now sitting in the legislatures.
My proposal is a variable corporate tax rate.
First, set the percentage of total USA taxes required from the corporate sector (for example let’s say 12%). Then on a past year or past quarter rolling basis inform the corporate tax payers what their tax rate is; the rate necessary to meet the 12% goal.

Doesn’t this seem a fair way (as a citizen) to establish a countervailing power to the hold Corporate America has over the taxing powers, i.e. all legislatures?

If you’re economically geeky you may also appreciate a beautifully humorous scenario unfolding from this plan.

If the total amount of taxes to be paid is a set sum per period, then, when one company or one industry negotiates a large tax reduction this will cause the other corporations and industries to pay additional taxes to meet the set goal. Tax boondoggles become a competitive endeavor with each lobbyist’s gain a loss to a competing K Streeter.

Not only is there a smiley thought in envisioning members of the Armani suit cross my palm with lucre K Streeters being at each others throats as they compete to buy favors but tax cuts would have to pass a rigorous economic cost benefit analysis to meet approval.

Well, gee, that’s kinda funny too and somewhat novel.

(Tune in next week for “Capping Pork causes Congress to Squeal”)

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By GW=MCHammered, December 14, 2007 at 12:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The struggle for democratic sovereignty remains the common struggle.”

Are you kidding us? Open borders. Illegal immigration run amok. Financing our government to communist countries. Selling US assets, even freeways, to foreign entities. We auction sovereignty to the lowest bidder.

Now, where’s the graph that shows the consumer Their Spending vs China’s Military Growth? Might be a factor someday soon, ya think? Where’s the chart showing the Decline of Earnings vs Skyrocketing Retail Prices vs the Pyrotechnic Cost of Education and Healthcare? How about a concise explanation of that one, eh? Oh, and where on earth is the M1, M2 AND <u>M3</u>?!

Just want to teach my kids something about what sovereignty used to mean vs what it means today.

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By Robert B. Livingston, December 13, 2007 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

A brilliant and well-nuanced critique!

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