Consumers are deserting major high-street banks in unprecedented numbers after a slew of revelations about unethical behaviour, according to data from the Move Your Money campaign. Building societies, credit unions and co-operatives have all reported a sharp rise in new business over the past 12 months as the reputation of the major banks has taken a hammering.
In the early 1980s, I began telling my students that growing inequality of income and wealth would become the dominant political issue of the future. I did not think that the future meant thirty years, but better late than never. The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) uprising has put inequality squarely on the political agenda, with the brilliant slogan, “We are the 99%.” While the “99%” includes many rich persons, the focus on the “1%” at the top of the economic pyramid serves to shine a light on those who rule both the economy and the politics of the United States. The 1 percent is a diverse group, but among them, especially at the top, are the men and (a few) women who own controlling interests in our largest businesses, including the financial corporations whose actions precipitated the Great Recession, which officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, and has since morphed into what looks like a long period of slow growth best termed stagnation. They are also the people whose campaign contributions and prominent positions in Congress, as advisors to the president, and on the Supreme Court have placed the government firmly on the side of the rich.
In ‘Not Waving but Drowning: Precarity and the Working Class’, Mark Hoskins takes a critical look at the idea put forward by some academics and even parts of the anti-capitalist movement that the “precariat” is the revolutionary subject of our epoch. After examining the subjective conditions of the precarious subject today and comparing its objective conditions to those of the working class of the last century, he goes on to explore how these conditions relate to our end goal, a communist society and what lessons that can teach us in our attempt to get there.
It took less than 24 hours for Obama’s “inspiring” convention speech to be smothered by the reality of the job crisis. The August national jobs report showed that the U.S. economy failed to create enough new jobs to keep up with population growth. More importantly, in August 368,000 Americans completely dropped out of the labor force, meaning that they’ve given up looking for a job (this ironically “lowered” the unemployment numbers, since demoralized workers aren’t counted in the official rate).
What’s the number one reason we riot? The plausible, justifiable motivations of trampled-upon humanfolk to fight back are many—poverty, oppression, disenfranchisement, etc—but the big one is more primal than any of the above. It’s hunger, plain and simple. If there’s a single factor that reliably sparks social unrest, it’s food becoming too scarce or too expensive. So argues a group of complex systems theorists in Cambridge, and it makes sense.
Barcelona — Psychologist Angels Corcoles recently taught a seminar about self-empowerment for women, and when she finished the organizers handed her a check with her fee. The amount was in hours, not euros. But Corcoles didn’t mind. Through a citywide credit network that allows people to trade services without money, the 10 hours Corcoles earned could be used to pay for a haircut, yoga classes or even carpentry work.
The worldwide plan to impose new capitalist norms on the masses of people inhabiting this planet can be seen starkly in Southern Europe where three countries are profoundly affected- Greece, Portugal and Spain. The so called representatives of the people have been installed, just as they have in Italy, to impose new hardships on populations already deeply affected by cuts, inflation and poverty. The International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union are imposing these measures. - In Greece despite mass demonstrations, riots, huge strikes and occupations, the administration has imposed a new austerity programme leading to a 22% drop in the minimum guaranteed wage, as well as cuts in pensions and the axing of jobs throughout the public sector.
Dorothea Lange, the great documentary photographer, traveled to Oregon in 1939 as part of her ongoing project to record the plight of the rural poor for the federal Resettlement Administration. Among the many stunning, often heartbreaking images she captured was the one reproduced here. The exact location isn’t known, but it shows an unemployed lumber worker and his wife in the shelter they were then living in. The tattoo on his arm is his Social Security number.
On June 29, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acquiesced to changes to a permanent eurozone bailout fund - "before the ink was dry", as critics complained. Besides easing the conditions under which bailouts would be given, the concessions included an agreement that funds intended for indebted governments could be funneled directly to stressed banks.
It seems like every few months alarms are sounded warning US workers that Social Security is going bankrupt. Oftentimes, the follow up to these alarms includes a warning that the only way to save the system is by turning all or part of the funds involved over to Wall Street investment houses like Goldman Sachs. Usually the alarms are sounded by right wing politicians from the Republican Party. In recent years however, this cacophony of lies has been assisted by more and more Democrats.