By Hamilton Nolan
Splinter News (11/18/18)
On Meet the Press yesterday, Utah Senator Mike Lee said about our climate change crisis, “all the proposals I’ve seen so far that would address any of these issues would devastate the U.S. economy.” This is considered a reasonable explanation of maintaining the status quo. This is the insanity built into capitalism.
Lee was specifically explaining why he would not support a carbon tax, the single most direct, rational, and market-friendly way of restricting carbon emissions. The context for the question was the release on Friday of a reportfrom the US government itself saying that, within a century, climate change could cost our country “hundreds of billions of dollars annually” and kill thousands of additional Americans per year.
The business executives and investors and politicians who cooperate in this system are not stupid. Many of them are very intelligent. They know what is happening. They just don’t care. It is sad to say, but there is not much more to it than that.
Mike Lee is a right wing ideologue. But on this issue, his position is the mainstream one. The entire world—led by the rich developed nations, the US in particular—is staring down a huge, slow-moving tidal wave called climate change. We know it is coming. We have been told repeatedly the devastation that it will cause. And yet world leaders collectively go about their business as usual, taking no action concomitant with the level of danger that we all know we are facing. On a very basic level, this is insane. If we were standing on the train track, and we knew the train was coming, and we did not rouse ourselves to step out of the way, we would be suicidal. We are doing exactly that on the issue of climate change. Are we suicidal? No. We are capitalists. And we are following the logic of capitalism straight to hell.
All the profit for them. All the risk for us
As practiced in America, capitalism incentivizes the maximization of short-term, private profits. This private profit seeking is bolstered by the implied public safety net should anything go wrong, as the financial crisis amply demonstrated. Capitalists operating within the framework of capitalism have every incentive to grab every possible dollar they can as soon as possible and keep them all. Should disaster strike, the government can ride to the rescue. Compensation from investment is supposed to be tied to risk—the higher the risk, the higher the reward. When you have a political system in which it is possible to purchase political power, as we do, you can do something neat: you can shove your risk off onto the government. It is privatized profit and socialized risk. It is the best deal you can get. It is also, at its core, corrupt, the most inhuman manifestation of crony capitalism. But that is what we have …
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Laid-off Sears Workers Left With Nothing While Wealthy Bosses Push For $25 Million In Bonuses
By Michael Sainato
The Guardian (12/1/18)
Ondrea Patrick had worked at the Kmart in Rockford, Illinois for nine years. In September, Patrick’s store announced it would close as its owner, Sears Holdings, struggled with falling sales and mounting debts.
A month later, Sears, once the world’s largest retailer and a part of America’s cultural fabric for more than 100 years, filed for bankruptcy – putting thousands of workers’ jobs at risk.
Patrick said: “I am a mother who has four biological children and one stepson, and my income is all we have. When you take away our only income, you leave us with nothing – and we don’t deserve nothing. Mentally and physically it drags on you. It’s like saying you’re not good enough. And we’re all good enough.”
Sheila Brewer worked at the same Kmart in Rockford for 17 years as a full-time employee. Four weeks into receiving severance pay, a bankruptcy court stopped the rest of the payments. In the meantime, Sears executives have petitioned to receive up to $25m in bonuses.
Brewer said: “It was a big toll emotionally and financially. It’s a big slap in the face, them telling me I can’t get the rest of my severance because of bankruptcy.
“Yet they’re petitioning in court to get bonuses for the executives when that money could go into a plan or some kind of package deal for full and part-time employees to receive some sort of package. [It would help] to pay bills to help us get back on our feet.”…
- “Inhumane”: A Laid-off GM Worker In Ohio Responds To Massive Job Cuts — General Motors caused an uproar this week when it announced plans to close up to five factories in the US and Canada and cut more than 14,000 jobs over the next two years. The automaker said that consumers weren’t buying enough cars like the Chevy Cruze, and that the overhaul would save the company $6 billion. GM also blamed President Donald Trump, whose tariffs on imported steel have cost the company $1 billion. GM’s decision sparked a backlash from lawmakers in Canada and the United States. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called it “corporate greed at its worst,” pointing out that GM received millions in corporate tax cuts but failed to use the money to invest in its workers. Instead, the company recently announced plans to build its new Chevy Blazer in Mexico — a decision that frustrated US labor unions that want those jobs to go to American workers. … Read the Rest