Daily Archives: June 4, 2014

Thomas Piketty: The Market and Private Property Should Be the Slaves of Democracy

Well I guess I have particular sympathy for people born in the 1970s and for them wealth is going to have a different structure than for the baby boom core. Namely we see in recent decades a return of the relative importance of wealth as compared to income which we didn’t have for the baby boom core. And the reason is that until WWI we lived in societies that I call in the book patrimonial societies, where the total quantity of wealth was very large with respect to income. So typically the ratio of total wealth to income was about six to seven years. Then this dropped tremendously to about two/three years in the 1950s and this has been going upward again particularly in European countries and in Japan back to five/six years of national income today. And what this means is that for the post war baby boom core there was relatively little to inherit from the past.This was because of the destruction, the inflation and taxation due to the financing of the war which reduced the quantity of private wealth that was to be transmitted in the ’50s,’60s. Now we are back a relative importance of wealth that is going in the direction of pre World War I societies with lower concentration of wealth. You know, it’s important to emphasize that today there is a middle class in wealth that did not exist one century ago. So having a lot of wealth per se is certainly not bad. If you have the middle class and if you have an equal sharing or at least a spreading of wealth then it is better to have more wealth than to have only debt. So it’s all a matter of whether we manage to make the middle class in wealth expand rather than shrinking which is what we’ve had unfortunately in the recent decades.

via Thomas Piketty: The Market and Private Property Should Be the Slaves of Democracy.

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Sixteen for ’16 – Number 11: An End to the Prison State

On any given day, nearly 7 million adult Americans are under the supervision of the nation’s criminal justice systems: in prison, on probation, or on parole.(1) That is more than 2 percent of the entire population and nearly 3 percent of the adult population.

If the US prison system were a state, it would be the 14th largest, just behind Washington and well ahead of Massachusetts.

Drill down and the numbers get even worse, particularly for men. More than 5 percent of all adult American men are currently under the supervision of the criminal justice system. Men make up over 90 percent of all prisoners, nearly 90 percent of people on parole and about 75 percent of people on probation.

All in all, about 1.3 percent of American men are hidden behind bars, completely out of sight of society. (2) Among black men ages 25-39, this figure rises to more than 6 percent in jail at any one time.(3) The proportion of black men who spend at least some part of their lives in jail is even higher, probably around one-quarter.

Our prisoners are increasingly being held in for-profit prisons operated by big prison services companies. Government statistics show that 8.7 percent of all prisoners and 18.6 percent of federal prisoners are held in private prisons. (4) Now that the genie is out of the bottle, industry lobbying will ensure that these numbers only go up.

via Sixteen for ’16 – Number 11: An End to the Prison State.

Noam Chomsky | Edward Snowden, the World’s “Most Wanted Criminal”

From that day forward, in order to carry out violence and subversion abroad, or repression and violation of fundamental rights at home, state power has regularly sought to create the misimpression that it is terrorists that we are fighting, though there are other options: drug lords, mad mullahs seeking nuclear weapons, and other ogres said to be seeking to attack and destroy us.Throughout, the basic principle remains: Power must not be exposed to the sunlight. Edward Snowden has become the most wanted criminal in the world for failing to comprehend this essential maxim.In brief, there must be complete transparency for the population, but none for the powers that must defend themselves from this fearsome internal enemy.

via Noam Chomsky | Edward Snowden, the World’s “Most Wanted Criminal”.

Truthout | Fearless, Independent News and Opinion

Truthout | Fearless, Independent News and Opinion.

Noam Chomsky | Security and State Power

For example, President Obama’s drone-driven global assassination program, by far the world’s greatest terrorist campaign, is also a terror-generating campaign. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan until he was relieved of duty, spoke of “insurgent math”: For every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.This concept of “innocent person” tells us how far we’ve progressed in the last 800 years, since the Magna Carta, which established the principle of presumption of innocence that was once thought to be the foundation of Anglo-American law.Today, the word “guilty” means “targeted for assassination by Obama,” and “innocent” means “not yet accorded that status.”

via Noam Chomsky | Security and State Power.

The Labor Games: Time for an American Comeback

A 97-point evaluation of labor-related criteria by the International Trade Union Confederation found that the United States ranks as bad as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Thailand when it comes to workers’ rights.And the only countries that are ranked worse than the U.S. in the study are countries that are experiencing “open violent conflict.”

via The Labor Games: Time for an American Comeback.