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TBF's Journal
TBF's Journal
March 3, 2015

Counting on Billionaires

Philanthrocapitalists like George Soros want us to believe they can remedy the economic misery that they themselves create ... by Japhy Wilson 3-3-15

"In the tale that I am about to tell, we will see how Soros is not only “taking money in at one end and pushing it out at the other,” but is also eating the stuff that comes out at the other end."

Philanthrocapitalism is the latest “great white hope” of international development. Unlike traditional philanthropists, who were content to write checks for good causes, “philanthrocapitalists” like Bill Gates and George Soros have supposedly transformed development aid by infusing it with the business principles of innovation, efficiency, and enterprise.

Michael Green and Matthew Bishop (US business editor of the Economist) celebrate this transformation in their best-selling book, Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World and Why We Should Let Them. Bishop and Green argue that philanthrocapitalism is a “new social contract,” in which increasing inequality is to be accepted in exchange for “the rich regarding their surplus wealth as the property of the many, and themselves as trustees whose duty it is to administer it for the common good.”

Should the rich not be sufficiently generous, they warn, “they risk provoking the public into a political backlash against the economic system that allowed them to become so wealthy.” This danger is well understood by “the leading beneficiaries of the winner-takes-all society, [who] worry increasingly about the political risks of growing inequality and are concluding that philanthropy may be one of the best ways to manage those risks.”

In a characteristically amusing and suggestive metaphor, Slavoj Žižek has likened this ideological strategy to the phenomenon of chocolate laxatives: each presents the cause of the problem — chocolate constipates, capitalism impoverishes — as the solution to its own pathological symptoms. Žižek’s favored example is Soros: speculator, philanthropist, and one of the wealthiest men in the world ...

Read more here (fascinating story giving an example of Soros Millenium Villages project): https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/03/george-soros-philanthrocapitalism-millennium-villages/

February 24, 2015

As Cuba Shifts Toward Capitalism, Inequality Grows More Visible


HAVANA — The river where Jonas Echevarria fishes cuts through neighborhoods brimming with new fine restaurants, spas and boutiques, springing up in Cuba’s accelerating push toward private enterprise. Tattered mansions and luxury apartment blocks speak of old wealth and new. A bounty of private restaurants known as paladares serve pork tenderloin, filet mignon and orange duck to tourists, Cuban-Americans visiting relatives and a growing pool of Cuban entrepreneurs with cash to spend.

These were things Mr. Echevarria, with only a few eggs, some plantains and a handful of rolls in his pantry, would not be having for dinner. In his neighborhood, a shantytown called Little Swamp on the fringe of the Rio Almendares and the margins of society, few people have relatives sending money from abroad, food rations barely last the month, and homes made of corrugated tin, wood scraps and crumbling concrete fail to keep out floodwaters. Nobody goes to paladares, much less has the money to start one.

As Cuba opens the door wider to private enterprise, the gap between the haves and have-nots — and between whites and blacks — that the revolution sought to diminish is growing more evident ...

More here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/world/americas/as-cuba-shifts-toward-capitalism-inequality-grows-more-visible.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

February 23, 2015

Even Better Than a Tax Cut

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor
Even Better Than a Tax Cut


WASHINGTON — WITH the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign underway and millions of Americans still hurting financially, both parties are looking for ways to address wage stagnation. That’s the good news. The bad news is that both parties are offering tax cuts as a solution. What has hurt workers’ paychecks is not what the government takes out, but what their employers no longer put in — a dynamic that tax cuts cannot eliminate.

Wage stagnation is a decades-long phenomenon. Between 1979 and 2014, while the gross domestic product grew 150 percent and productivity grew 75 percent, the inflation-adjusted hourly wage of the median worker rose just 5.6 percent — less than 0.2 percent a year. And since 2002, the bottom 80 percent of wage earners, including both male and female college graduates, have actually seen their wages stagnate or fall.

At the same time, taxation does not explain why middle-income families are having a harder time making ends meet, even as they increase their education and become ever more productive. According to the latest Congressional Budget Office data, the middle 60 percent of families paid just 3.2 percent of their income in federal income taxes in 2011, less than half what they paid in 1979.

Yes, a one-time reduction in taxes through, say, expanded child care credits or a secondary earner tax break, as Democrats propose, could help families. But as wages continue to stagnate, it is impossible to continuously cut taxes and still pay for things like education and social programs for the growing population of older Americans ...

More here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/23/opinion/even-better-than-a-tax-cut.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0

February 13, 2015

World Hunger (facebook meme)

February 8, 2015

The numbers tell the story -

The Shrinking American Labor Union
FEB. 7, 2015

24.2%: private sector union membership rate, 1973

6.6%: private sector union membership rate, 2014

Source: Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson

A generation ago labor unions were often a familiar feature of the American workplace, but in private businesses across the country, unions have been shrinking. Today fewer than one in 15 private sector workers belongs to a union, compared with almost one in four back in 1973.

But dwindling union participation in the private sector stands in stark contrast with union membership among public sector workers, which rose sharply in the 1970s and has been relatively steady since 1980 at around 35 percent. Overall union membership has fallen by about a half since 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, driven entirely by the decline in the private sector.

The causes of falling union participation are hard to pinpoint but may be attributed to several factors, including the pressures of global trade, technological change, the shift away from domestic manufacturing and a tougher stance against unions from government and corporate leaders ...

more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/business/the-shrinking-american-labor-union.html?mabReward=R4&action=click&contentCollection=Books®ion=Footer&module=Recommendation&src=recg&pgtype=article
February 5, 2015

Update re Brownsville: Vidal meets the President

I first wrote about Brandon (Humans of New York), Vidal, and Ms. Lopez here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026129259

Recently they were all on Ellen's show and now this. It has been an amazing story.
February 5, 2015

Ford Raises Pay for 500 Workers

Ford Raises Pay for 500 Workers as Demand Grows for F-150 Pickup

DETROIT — Growing demand for Ford Motor’s new pickup truck will prompt a transition to higher wages for up to 500 of the company’s entry-level union workers.

On Wednesday, Ford said that it would add 1,550 new jobs at four plants in the United States to increase production of the latest version of its top-selling F-series pickup.

By adding the jobs, Ford said, it will exceed its nationwide cap on entry-level workers, who earn about $19 an hour. And as a result, 300 to 500 of the company’s entry-level employees will transition to the $28-an-hour wage earned by longtime factory workers.

The transition is the first time that any entry-level workers at the three domestic carmakers have moved up to the higher wage scale since the companies agreed to a two-tier system in their 2007 contract with the United Automobile Workers union ...

More here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/business/demand-for-ford-truck-means-higher-wages-for-500-workers.html?hpw&rref=business&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well

February 3, 2015

Connecting the dots re Measles (toon)

Daily Cartoon
February 2, 2015
the New Yorker
By Emily Flake

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