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Martin Hart-Landsberg: Troubling economic trends for US workers

inequality-2.jpg

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

September 15, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The US Census Bureau just published new data revealing trends in living standards as of 2010. The trends are troubling to say the least.

Median household income (adjusted for inflation) fell to US$49,445 (see below). That means that the median household in the United States now earns less than it did a decade ago.This marks the first decade since the Great Depression without an increase in real median income. According to Lawrence Katz, a labour expert and Harvard economist,

This is truly a lost decade.We think of America as a place where every generation is dong better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.

Lucy Parsons: 'More dangerous than a thousand rioters'

Lucy Parsons, 1930: "I have seen many movements come and go. I belonged to all of those movements. I was a delegate that organized the Industrial Workers of the World. I carried a card in the old Socialist Party. And now I am today connected with the Communists."

By Keith Rosenthal

Evolution not 'reinvention': Manning Marable's Malcolm X

Malcolm’s political evolution was influenced by his own experiences and his discussions with Fidel Castro and Che ..., with Nasser in Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, as well as with discussions with North American ex-patriates in Africa. 

By Malik Miah

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Market 'outcomes' and political power

"Now imagine if we had a state that engaged in transparent planning and was committed to using our significant public resources to reshape our economy in the public interest. ... state planning and intervention in economic activity already goes on. Unfortunately, it happens behind closed doors and for the benefit of a small minority. It doesn’t have to be that way."

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 25, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The US media likes to talk about markets as if they were just a force of nature. In fact, markets and their outcomes are largely shaped by political power. In a capitalist system like ours, that power is largely used to advance the interests of those who own and run our dominant corporations.

Crises real and artificial, and why a new ‘New Deal’ is not feasible

By Sam Williams

August 21, 2011 -- This article first appeared at Critique of Crisis Theory, and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. Thanks to Mike Treen for recommending it -- Since World War I, the maximum debt that the U.S. government could carry has been determined by law. Every so often as the maximum debt limit was approached, Congress routinely voted to raise the debt limit. But this year the Republican-controlled House balked. The Republican majority threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless the Obama administration agreed not to raise taxes on the rich and corporations or even close tax loopholes that have often enabled the rich and corporations to pay no taxes at all.

The U.S. Treasury warned that if the debt limit was not raised by August 2, it would not have enough cash on hand to pay all its bills coming due, forcing it to default. The crisis was purely a legal and political one, since the U.S. government has been having no trouble recently selling its notes and bonds. Indeed, the federal government was able to sell them at prices that yielded some of the lowest interest rates it has ever had to pay. This would hardly be the case if there was a real threat of a federal default.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: The troubled US economy means a shaky world economy

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 15, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg's permission -- The US economy is in trouble and that means trouble for the world economy. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Trade and Development Report, 2010, “Buoyant consumer demand in the United States was the main driver of global economic growth for many years in the run-up to the current global economic crisis.”

Before the crisis, US household consumption accounted for approximately 16 per cent of total global output, with imports comprising a significant share and playing a critical role in supporting growth in other countries. In fact, “as a result of global production sharing, United States consumer spending increas[ed] global economic activities in many indirect ways as well (e.g. business investments in countries such as Germany and Japan to produce machinery for export to China and its use there for the manufacture of exports to the United States)”.

United States: The deficit deal -- We got taken

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 2, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg's permission -- The US Congress has finally agreed on a deficit reduction plan that President Barack Obama supports. As a result, the debt ceiling is being lifted, which means that the Treasury can once again borrow to meet its financial obligations.

Avoiding a debt default is a good thing. However, the agreement is bad and even more importantly the debate itself has reinforced understandings of the US economy that are destructive of majority interests.

United States: Debt crisis -- the issue is the war machine, not welfare

Source:  “Graphic: Who pays the taxes?" What Went Wrong: The Betrayal of the American Dream. February 7, 2011.

By Paul Kellogg

July 27, 2011 -- PolEconAnalysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- As July came to an end, the United States central government had come up against its congressionally mandated debt ceiling. Without an agreement to raise that debt ceiling – last set at US$14.3 trillion – the US central government will be unable to borrow money to pay its bills. The consequences could be extremely serious – soaring interest rates, a collapse of the US dollar, not to speak of social security stipends, pensions and salaries going unpaid.

Lenin and revolutionary organisation today: An exchange

Introduction

Anyone familiar with the socialist movement in the industrialized countries today must be struck by the huge gap between what’s needed — mass socialist parties with deep roots in the working class — and the reality — small groups of socialists with little influence. The following exchange contains a searching discussion of these issues between the noted Marxist scholar Paul Le Blanc and John Riddell.

The exchange opens with an article by Le Blanc and continues with an exchange between Riddell and Le Blanc. The discussion was first published in Socialist Voice in June 2008 and later appeared on John Riddell's website (with more comments).

About the authors

Paul Le Blanc, a former member of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party, has been a long-time anti-war, anti-racist, activist in Pittsburgh. He teaches History at La Roche College. He is author of Marx, Lenin, and the Revolutionary Experience (Routledge 2006).

United States: Happy anniversary, the 'economic recovery' turns two

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

July 7, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The charts above deserve a long careful look. According to the US National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession ended in the United States in June 2009. Not many working people are celebrating the expansion’s second anniversary.

As Paul Wiseman, an Associated Press economics writer, notes:  

[This economic] recovery has been the weakest and most lopsided of any since the 1930s. After previous recessions, people in all income groups tended to benefit. This time, ordinary Americans are struggling with job insecurity, too much debt and pay raises that haven’t kept up with prices at the grocery store and gas station. The economy’s meager gains are going mostly to the wealthiest.

The deep green meaning of Fukushima

[For previous articles by Don Fitz, click HERE.]

By Don Fitz

June 26, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Humanity must decrease its use of energy. The decrease must be a lot (not a little bit) and it must happen soon. A failure to do so will lay the foundation for the destruction of human life by some combination of climate change and radiation.

How long will the disastrous consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan continue? A good estimate is about 4.5 billion years — the half life of uranium-238. [1] The March 11, 2011, meltdowns sounded alarms that environmentalists have rung for over half a century. There is also a deeper green meaning: the limits of economic growth have long since passed and we need to design a world with considerably less stuff.

The industry claims that there is such a thing as a safe level of radiation and that nuclear production can be safe. Both are profoundly untrue.

The killing of bin Laden and the ugly tribalism of US politics

Three o’clock in the morning on May 1, Washington DC erupts in celebration of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

By Rupen Savoulian

May 20, 2011 -- Early in May 2011, Osama bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire criminal and religious fanatic, was murdered by US Navy SEAL troops in Pakistan. Bin Laden was a reactionary political figure, who promoted obscurantist, fundamentalist prejudices in the service of criminal wars and terrorism. He was a long-term ally and asset of the United States, whose repugnant views and activities were cultivated throughout the 1980s during Washington’s Cold War campaign against the secular, socialist government of Afghanistan.

R. Palme Dutt's 'Fascism and social revolution'

By Graham Milner

In the present situation in the world, with the intermittent resurgence of fascist and neo-fascist movements in some countries, an avowedly Marxist treatment of the subject of fascism, such as Palme Dutt's Fascism and Social Revolution, deserves the attention of new generations of readers.

Rajani Palme Dutt (1896-1974) was born in England of an Indian father and a Swedish mother.[1] He grew up in a political household, where socialism and Indian independence were familiar subjects of discussion. A brilliant scholar at Oxford University (he took a double first), Dutt was a conscientious objector during the World War I, and was expelled from university in 1917 for disseminating Marxist propaganda.

Is the economic crisis over?

Introduction by Mike Treen

May 2, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below is the latest entry from the Critique of Crisis Theory blog by Sam Williams [posted here with Williams' permission]. In it he analyses the current stage of the industrial cycle and asks, “Is the economic crisis over?”.

I hope that reading this post will encourage people to look more closely at the entire series on Critique of Crisis Theory, which has taken the form of a developing book on crisis theory.

The first chapter explains the biggest challenge the author faced — the fact that Marx did not leave a completed crisis theory. It was certainly the plan when Marx began Capital, but in the end only one volume was completed before his death and volumes two and three only took partial steps to a completed theory.

Manning Marable: A voice for black liberation and democracy

By Lee Sustar

April 4, 2011 -- Socialist Worker -- Anyone who studies the US black liberation movement and seeks to renew its struggles will be saddened by the untimely passing of Manning Marable, the Columbia University professor who combined wide-ranging scholarship with an active commitment to social transformation.

Leonard Weinglass (1933-2011)

By John Mage

March 25, 2011 -- Leonard Weinglass, a leading leftwing lawyer in the United States with an international perspective, died in the early evening on March 23, 2011. Len, who died on his 78th birthday, fell ill in late January while in Cuba. In the first days of February exploratory surgery at Montefiore Hospital discovered that he had inoperable cancer of the pancreas.

Lenny, a 1958 graduate of Yale Law School, became active in the US left lawyers' organisation, the National Lawyers Guild, in the course of the civil rights movements of the 1960s. He rose to fame as co-counsel with Bill Kunstler in the Chicago Seven (originally Chicago Eight) conspiracy trial of 1969-70. The seven defendants -- Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines and Lee Weiner -- were charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot and other charges arising from the mass protests in Chicago, Illinois at the time of the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Weinglass (sixth from left) with the Chigago Seven.

Japan: Left appeals for solidarity with victims and evacuees of the earthquake/tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster

Evacuees sit through an earthquake at a temporary shelter at a stadium in Koriyama. Photo: Reuters.

Appeal for financial solidarity with the victims and evacuees of the northeastern Japan earthquake/tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster

By the Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL) and the National Council of Internationalist Workers (NCIW)

March 17, 2011 -- On March 11, at 2:30 PM (JST), the tremendously powerful earthquake of magnitude 9 hit the vast area of eastern Japan, comprised of northeast and Kanto regions. The earthquake gave rise to the formidable tsunami, which devastated numerous cities and towns all along the Pacific coast from the northernmost prefecture of Aomori to the southern Chiba prefecture. At the time of March 17, the number of deaths and missing persons is already close to 20,000, and the number continues to increase.

United States: New workers' movement at the crossroads

By Dan La Botz

March 4, 2011 -- Solidarity Webzine -- The new US workers' movement, which has developed so rapidly in the last couple of months in the struggle against rightwing legislative proposals to abolish public employee unions, suddenly finds itself at a crossroads. Madison, Wisconsin, where rank-and-file workers, community members and social movement activists converged to create the new movement, remains the centre of the struggle. In Ohio, which faces similar legislation, unions have also gone into motion, while working people around the country have been drawn into the fight.

In both states, things are coming to a head. In Wisconsin the courts have ordered the capitol building closed and the governor is threatening layoffs to begin next week. In both Wisconsin and Ohio the legislators are threatening to push the bills through one way or another. And now, in the fight to win, the movement has come to a fork in the road.

Two different tendencies in the labour movement point in two quite different directions. The top leaders of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have thrown their weight into the struggle in the only way that they know how. Following the model they use in political campaigns, they have reached out to established organisations to build coalitions. They have sent organisers into take charge and to reach out to communities. Their goal is to rebuild their institutional power and their relationship with the Democratic Party, hoping to turn the upsurge in support for public employees into a political victory.

United States: The new American workers' movement and the confrontation to come

Protesters fill the Rotunda at the state capitol building on February 16, 2010, in Madison, Wisconsin.

By Dan La Botz

February 28, 2011 -- Solidarity Webzine -- The new US workers' movement—born in the last few weeks in the giant protests in Wisconsin and Ohio—faces a fateful confrontation. In Madison and Columbus, Republican legislators are pushing to abolish public employee labour unions and tens of thousands of workers are protesting and resisting. We have seen nothing like this face-off between workers and bosses in the United States since the labour upheaval of the early 1970s, though the issues in the balance are more like those of the 1930s. The very existence of the US labour movement is at stake. The question is: What will it take to win?

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