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America’s Biggest Crisis: The Economy Is Rigged for the Wealthiest
Posted on Jan 26, 2014
By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
To raise the urgent need for peace and support for the 3 million Syrian refugees, CODEPINK and allies brought a delegation of women to Switzerland. They are demanding an immediate ceasefire and that women be included in the talks. They demonstrated outside of the talks on Wednesday.
Also this week, tar sands bitumen started flowing in the Southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. There has been strong opposition to the tar sands and pipeline for years now. It brought together a broad coalition which has used the courts, blockades and protests to try to stop this project, which James Hansen calls ‘Game Over’ for the planet, from proceeding. There was an urgent action at the White House and a protest at a TD Bank, a major financier, in Maine to express solidarity with communities like Manchester, TX that are being poisoned by oil processing and others protested megaloads traveling through Montana to the Alberta tar sands. A new study was released that also showed increased cancer rates in a community downstream from the tar sands.
And the World Economic Forum is taking place this week at a Swiss resort in Davos. One of the main topics is wealth inequality. Bill Gates, who is attending, doesn’t think wealth inequality is a problem as long as poverty is decreasing, but the majority of Americans , and we suspect the world population, disagree. Oxfam reports that 85 of the richest people have the same wealth as 3.5 billion of the poorest people. And there is no confidence that real solutions to reduce wealth inequality will come out of the meeting of the wealthy at Davos.
Organizers from around the world are calling for a Commission for Truth and Justice in Switzerland. Sign the petition here. They write, “This is not asking for charity, we are demanding justice and to create the conditions that ensure equal opportunities for all.” Charity is not the solution, though it is likely the only solution that the wealthy can come up with.
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Charity undermines the peoples’ rights to self-determination and allows the status quo to continue. Polychroniou makes the point that “philanthropy serv[es] as a means to disguise the exploitation of the poor and deny the structural problems of the capitalist system.” Further, charity is arbitrary and anti-democratic. Those with the wealth decide who receives and can use their wealth to divide communities against each other and further disempower them.
The people of the world are rejecting this ‘plantation politics’ and are uniting instead. We see this in all of the circles in which we exist. This past weekend in Chicago, activists from across the country and from different areas of advocacy met to organize “Earth Day to May Day – Ten Days to Change Course” actions as part of a Global Climate Convergence. In addition to connecting our struggles and showing that the system is the problem, one of the goals is to reclaim the meaning of these holidays.
This convergence is also in line with the tasks of this moment in history. In joining our efforts and maintaining a position of what is necessary, not what we are told is on the table, we shift the realm of the possible. And as we shift the cultural acceptance of what is possible, those who have operated within the current system will shift as well and more will join the new effort. Why? Because those who stand for justice in all of its forms represent what the majority of people already want.
A task of the day is solidarity. And the new economy that is emerging to replace predatory capitalism is a solidarity economy, which we call economic democracy. In a democratized economy, people have more input into decisions about the economy and more benefit from it as well. This is an economic model that will solve the crises of our era and prevent them from returning.
The new economy is taking shape on a number of different levels from communities that are putting democratic economic institutions in place to students who are recreating their economic curriculum to economists who are working together to define the new economy more concretely.
Completing the Campaign for Economic Justice
The centerpiece of so many of the issues that confront us stem from an economy that works for only the wealthiest. The poverty of tens of millions, the low-pay of hundreds of millions, and economic insecurity of virtually all but the wealthiest, as well as the destruction of the environment all stem from this rigged economy of predatory capitalism.
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