Wednesday, October 14, 2015

BUILDING THE CORPORATE WELFARE STATE - Democratic presidential debate: Nervousness and demagogy

Democratic presidential debate: Nervousness and demagogy

Democratic presidential debate: Nervousness and demagogy

By our reporter 
14 October 2015
The first televised debate among the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, held Tuesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada and broadcast by CNN, demonstrated the increasing nervousness of the American ruling elite over mounting social anger among working people.
All of the candidates adopted a pose of sympathy for the plight of working people, invariably referring to them as the “middle class” rather than the working class in order to blur as much as possible the actual class contradictions in American society.

In the division of labor within the capitalist two-party system,

the Republicans use right-wing populist demagogy, appealing

to religious bigotry, racism and anti-immigrant prejudice, as 

a screen for policies that express the unvarnished profit lust 

of the financial elite: elimination of social welfare programs, 

deregulation of business, tax cuts for corporations and the 


The Democrats offer populist demagogy of a more “left” character, making a pretense of sympathy and concern over the economic plight of working people for the purpose of diverting mass anger into harmless channels. They serve Wall Street by defusing any threat from below. At the same time, the Democrats, no less than the Republicans, uphold the power of the military-intelligence apparatus and the worldwide interests of American imperialism.
So desperate is the crisis of American capitalism, so deep the class divisions and so widespread the growth of popular opposition that the Democratic Party has been compelled in 2016 to add a dash of “socialist” rhetoric to its empty populism, in the form of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, now the leading challenger to the Democratic frontrunner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Tuesday night’s debate was the first direct confrontation between Sanders and Clinton. They were joined by three other candidates who have failed to register any significant support in the polls, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator James Webb, and former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee.
The event received a massive media buildup and was presented by CNN with all the atmospherics and special effects of a boxing match, or perhaps a reality show competition, complete with the playing of the national anthem, followed by a lengthy commercial break, before any of the candidates had said a word.
From the beginning, the candidates presented themselves as opponents of war, poverty, injustice and the domination of politics by big money, without in any way suggesting that these were all connected to a common cause—i.e., the profit system.
Chafee pledged to “end these wars,” referring to the Middle East. Webb claimed to speak for “economic fairness and social justice.” O’Malley warned of “deep economic injustice that threatens to tear this country apart.” Sanders spoke of an “unprecedented crisis,” with the “middle class working longer hours, while most new income goes to the top 1 percent.”
Even Hillary Clinton, whose candidacy has more support from Wall Street than any other Democrat or Republican, spoke of the need to create opportunity “for every child,” to raise wages and create jobs, and to “change the tax system, where the wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much.” She promised to “heal the economic divide,” without explaining how this was possible in a society where the top 1 percent owns nearly half of all wealth and demands even more.
She even declared, in response to a direct question about whether she was a progressive or a moderate, that she was a “progressive who wants to get things done.” This was, rhetorically at least, a different posture from the campaign of her husband in 1992, in which he ran as a “New Democrat” who rejected liberalism and promised to “end welfare as we know it.”
The first question to Bernie Sanders was whether a candidate calling himself a socialist could be elected president of the United States. He gave his standard reassurance that he was advocating modest social welfare schemes of the type implemented in Scandinavia, concluding with the claim that his campaign, by attracting a new layer of young people, would expand the number of voters and strengthen the Democratic Party.
Moderator Anderson Cooper pressed the issue, demanding to know whether Sanders was a capitalist. When Sanders said he was opposed to the type of “casino capitalism” practiced on Wall Street today—in effect, indicating his willingness to support “good” rather than “bad” capitalism—Cooper asked the other candidates, “Is there anyone else on the stage who’s not a capitalist.”
Clinton immediately spoke up, saying, “As we have to from time to time, we have to save capitalism from itself.” She went on to declare her support for small and middle-sized businesses, with Sanders responding, “We all agree that America is a great entrepreneurial country.” That was the end of any discussion on socialism vs. capitalism.
Much of the debate consisted of efforts by the moderator and other CNN questioners to provoke conflicts among the candidates on secondary or tertiary issues, and attempts by the three peripheral candidates to gain attention at the expense of Clinton and Sanders, who were treated as co-frontrunners throughout the two-hour program.
The most significant exchanges came during the discussion on foreign policy, which focused on the current crisis in the Middle East and the potential confrontation between US and Russian military forces in Syria, where the two countries have intervened on opposite sides of the civil war between the Assad government and Islamist opposition forces.
Both Clinton and Sanders backed the current policy of the Obama administration, which involves air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), military support for other Islamist “rebel” groups that have links to Al Qaeda, and efforts to overthrow the Assad government.
Clinton reiterated her support for a US-imposed no-fly zone over parts of Syria, while Sanders opposed such an effort and criticized the 2003 US invasion of Iraq (for which Clinton voted in the Senate), calling it “the worst foreign policy decision in American history.”
Asked directly when a “President Sanders” would use force, the senator replied, “When our country is threatened and when our allies are threatened.” He was not a pacifist, he continued, and had supported Bill Clinton’s bombing of Serbia in 1999, the invasion of Afghanistan under George W. Bush in 2001, and the current Obama campaign of air strikes in Syria.
None of the candidates—including Sanders, the supposed 

scourge of the “millionaires and billionaires”—made any 

connection between the grotesque concentration of wealth 

and privilege at the top of American society and the 

increasing resort by the US government to military 

aggression abroad. On the contrary, their common goal was 

to conceal such connections and block working people from 

drawing any conclusions about the responsibility of the profit

system for the increasing danger of a new world war.

Sanders demonstrated throughout the debate that his radical 

posturing is so much hot air. When asked directly about his 

call for a “political revolution,” Sanders huffed and puffed, 

but offered nothing more than the wish that more people go 

to the polls to vote.

"Amazon became a byword this year for savage treatment of 

employees. Bezos joins several others in the top 15 notorious 

for low-wage exploitation, including four heirs to the Wal-

Mart retail empire, James, Alice, Christy and Samuel Robson 

Walton, and Phil Knight, chairman of Nike Inc., whose $24.4 

billion fortune is extracted from his international network of 

sports apparel-producing sweatshops."

OBAMA-CLINTONomics is a simple device - Serve the super rich and pass the cost of their looting and Wall Street crimes on to the backs of the last of the American middle-class!

"Of course, the wealth of the financial elite cannot come from nowhere. Ultimately, the continual infusion of asset bubbles is the form taken by a massive transfer of wealth, from the working class to the banks, investors and super-rich. The corollary to rise of the stock market is the endless demands, all over the world, for austerity, cuts in wages, attacks on health care and pensions."

“As a result, the share of wealth held by the richest 0.1 percent of the population grew from 17 percent in 2007 to 22 percent in 2012, while the wealth of the 400 richest families in the US has doubled since 2008.”

OBAMA-CLINTONomics and the final death of the American middle-class

"Obama expanded the Wall Street bailout, handing trillions of dollars to the criminals who wrecked the economy. He then utilized the financial meltdown to restructure the auto industry on the basis of brutal pay cuts, setting a precedent for the transformation of the US into a low-wage economy."

"In the midst of the deepest slump since the Great Depression, the administration starved state and city governments of resources, leading to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of education and public-sector jobs and the gutting of workers’ pensions. Obama’s Affordable Care Act set in motion the dismantling of employer-paid health insurance and massive cuts in the Medicare insurance system for the elderly."


“Calling income and wealth inequality the "great moral issue of our time," Sanders laid out a sweeping, almost unimaginably expensive program to transfer wealth from the richest Americans to the poor and middle class. A $1 trillion public works program to create "13 million good-paying jobs." A $15-an-hour federal minimum wage. "Pay equity" for women. Paid sick leave and vacation for everyone. Higher taxes on the wealthy. Free tuition at all public colleges and universities. A Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system. Expanded Social Security benefits. Universal pre-K.” WASHINGTON EXAMINER


"I think that the business model of Wall Street is fraud," said Sanders. "I think these guys drove us into the worst economic downturn in the modern history of America and I think they're at it again. I believe that when you have so few banks with so much power you have to ... break them up. That is not Hillary Clinton's position."

Wealth of America’s super-rich grows to $2.34 trillion

By Nick Barrickman 
3 October 2015
The wealth of the 400 richest Americans 
continues to soar, according to the results of 
the new Forbes 400 list, published annually 
by the business magazine of the same name. 
At $2.34 trillion, the total net worth for the multi-billionaires on the list set new records, displacing last year’s all-time high of $2.29 trillion.


Did their crony banksters ultimately destroy the global economy?

Richest one percent controls 

nearly half of global wealth


In 2009, the total net worth of the Forbes 400 was $1.27 trillion. Today, nearly six years into the so-called economic “recovery” fostered by the Obama administration, the wealthiest Americans have nearly doubled their hoard. The total wealth of the richest 400 Americans managed to reach new heights even while financial markets have been roiled by tumultuous swings.
The Forbes report notes that in 2015, “It was 
harder than ever to join the 400. The price of 
entry this year was $1.7 billion, the highest

it’s been in the 33 years that Forbes has

racked American wealth.” Forbes makes note

that the wealth threshold was so high this year that 145 billionaires failed to make the list.
While a majority of billionaires have prospered, their wealth underwritten by the massive government bailouts of financial institutions and near-zero interest rates from the Federal Reserve, a significant fraction of the wealthy elite have lost ground in the turbulent stock markets of recent months.
The ratio of winners and losers among the billionaires was ten to one last year, but this year was much closer to 50-50. Forbes noted that the top three position-holders on the list, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, each saw a drop in their total net worth of at least 5 percent in the last year. This did nothing to threaten the position of Gates, number one at $76 billion, or Buffett, number two at $62 billion, but Ellison’s third-place position, with $47.5 billion, left him “only” $500 million ahead of the fourth-place multi-billionaire, Jeff Bezos of
The majority of those on the Forbes list were associated with some form of financial speculation, or with computer software and the Internet. According to the industry breakdown supplied by Forbes, its 400 include 126 engaged in investment, real estate and finance, 81 from computer technology and media, 36 from food and beverage, 32 from retail and fashion (including five members of the Walton family, owners of Wal-Mart), 31 from oil & gas, 20 from health care, 19 from miscellaneous services (including six members of the Pritzker family, owners of Hyatt Hotels), and 19 from sports and gaming.
This left only 35 listed as making their fortunes in manufacturing, automotive, construction, and logistics. The largest manufacturing fortune is the $7.4 billion of Harold Kohler, whose company makes toilets and other plumbing fixtures. Perhaps that is symbolic, given the state of manufacturing in the United States, once the world leader in industry, but no longer.
The growth of financial parasitism has underwritten the wealth of many on the Forbes 400. In 1982, the first Forbes 400 list saw figures directly involved in finance making up only 4.4 percent of the total wealth on the list. As of today, this group now makes up more than 21 percent of billionaires on the list.
Former Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who has held the number one spot on the Forbes 400 for 22 years, has less than 13 percent of his fortune in stock in the company he founded. According toForbes, the majority of Gates’ wealth is bound up in Cascade, the software mogul’s investment firm, which specializes in “investing in stocks, bonds, private equity and real estate.”
Besides the well-known super-rich of Silicon Valley like Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin (with $33.3 billion and $32.6 billion, respectively) and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social media web site Facebook, the seventh wealthiest man in America with $40.3 billion in total assets, there are numerous other newly minted Internet billionaires, including the owners and co-owners of Uber, Airbnb, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Twitter, SnapChat, GoPro and
Jeffrey Bezos, owner of the online retailer Amazon, saw the largest gain in wealth for the year, making $16 billion in 2015, placing his total net worth at $47 billion and catapulting him to fourth place. Nearly half of Bezos’ gains came within a single day last July, when his company announced gains in the second quarter, leading to a speculative frenzy which bid up stock values for Amazon by over 18 percent.
Amazon became a byword this year for savage treatment of 

employees. Bezos joins several others in the top 15 notorious 

for low-wage exploitation, including four heirs to the Wal-

Mart retail empire, James, Alice, Christy and Samuel Robson

Walton, and Phil Knight, chairman of Nike Inc., whose $24.4 

billion fortune is extracted from his international network of 

sports apparel-producing sweatshops.
While safeguarding the ill-gotten wealth of the Forbes billionaires remains an ironclad principle of both the Republican and Democratic parties, working people throughout the US continue to suffer the brunt of attacks on their living standards. A US Census report released earlier this month shows that 14.8 percent of the US population lives in poverty; a figure that is unchanged from a year earlier. The Census findings show that 6.6 percent of the population lives in “deep poverty,” or less than half of the already unrealistically low official poverty line in the US.

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