Every year around Labor Day, Tom Berry asks me to speak at his weekly free speech forum, “College of Complexes.” This year, I said I would explain the world crisis and put forward the remedy. After I told him that, I had about two weeks to ask people what I should say.
From everybody I asked, and with a few factoids from the Dallas newspaper, this is what I told them on the evening of August 24:
A global crisis exists. It is economic, democratic, environmental, and a threat to world peace. The entire long video is at https://youtu.be/LSyxzN5-OW8, but I cut it into smaller pieces.
A short video of this part is at https://youtu.be/YNA90eP1eIc
The national Debt tops $22T for first time in history. This year’s projected budget deficit approaches $1T and will exceed $1T in 2020. “Some analysts note that between the deficit soaring and interest rates low, neither Congress nor the Fed would be able to do that much in a recession. ‘Both sides are out of bullets,’ said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank.”
Growth rates are falling internationally. Some countries, including Germany, already near recession.
Inequality is rampant. CEOs rake in 940% more than 40 years ago, while average workers earn 12% more. A September 2017 study by the Federal Reserve reported that the top 1% owned 38.5% of the country’ s wealth in 2016. “At the global level, wealth is highly concentrated: the top 10% owns more than 70% of the total wealth in China, Europe, and the United States combined; the bottom 50% owns less than 2%; and the middle 40% owns less than 30%,” Alice Walton has $46B. The CEO of American Airlines makes $6000/hour.
Outlook for workers worsens as the gig economy grows. The gulf between CEO pay and median worker pay has widened. Publicly traded companies are increasingly plowing cash into stock buybacks and shareholder dividends. … U.S. corporations in the S&P 500 spent a record $806 billion on stock buybacks in 2018.
A recession is pending. One of the most significant developments in this week’s turmoil was the emergence of an inverted yield curve in bond markets. This refers to a situation in which the return on long term government debt falls below that on shorter term bonds. This phenomenon is regarded as one of the most accurate indicators of recession as investors seek a “safe haven” in longer term bonds, pushing up their price and lowering their yield. The price of gold is rising as investors seek safe havens.
Peace & Justice
A short video is at https://youtu.be/xGcaPOknI5A
Discord is rising in the G-7 meeting. Trump has been at odds with traditional allies on climate, Iran, and trade. Volatility is occurring as Trump largely dismisses international alliances and cooperation in favor of his America First policies, creating a vacuum in global leadership. https://youtu.be/xGcaPOknI5A A short video is at Discord is rising in the G-7 meeting. Trump has been at odds with traditional allies on climate, Iran, and trade. Volatility is occurring as Trump largely dismisses international alliances and cooperation in favor of his America First policies, creating a vacuum in global leadership.
“The whole idea of world order is something that these other countries think a lot about, are quite preoccupied with. And they’re worried about how to sustain it without American leadership for world order,” said Jon Alterman, a global security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan Washington-based think tank.
“In principle, especially with the Chinese getting more powerful and the Russians in decline, the G-7 should be the guys that really get [along], and they just don’t,” said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a global risk-assessment firm in New York. “It’s a very dysfunctional group. They can’t agree on climate, trade, technology — these advanced economies should have common cause, and it’s not just because of Trump that they don’t. A lot of these countries are increasingly divided.”
Other “me first” governments include Brazil, Italy, Great Britain, and Austria.
Saudia Arabia is destroying Yemen. The U.S. is still occupying Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, Pakistan and India are at each other’s throats. There are very real threats of war over who will dominate the newly-unfrozen territories inside the Arctic Circle. That is the reason Trump wants to buy Greenland. It’s not a joke.
Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said that the world is at a “turning point in history” and governments must choose policies of peace and human rights over war and human suffering.
Short video at https://youtu.be/YNA90eP1eIc
Big money is unleashed on our elections. Gerrymandering now has the legal seal of approval. Almost constant schemes to remove voting rights. Almost constant schemes for voter suppression.
Noam Chomsky has argued the Republican Party is the most “dangerous organisation in human history” and the world has never seen an organisation more profoundly committed to destroying planet earth.
Union busting is a common activity for this government.
Short video at https://youtu.be/xWp9FTgLX30
Michael Moore says Donald Trump just began the ‘extinction of human life on Earth’
Brazilian rainforest, “lungs of the Earth” is burning.
The Dallas paper on 8/23 ran a letter from Ed Soph of Denton:
Ice melt portends disaster
….Economically, 3.7 degree Fahrenheit warming will produce $551 trillion in damages. (Total worldwide wealth today is $280 trillion.) If we continue our current ice-melting mining, transport and combustion of fossil fuels the planet will warm over 4 degrees. Flood damage will increase 160% to 240% with 2.7 degrees of warming; 3.6 degrees will guarantee that flooding deaths will be 50% higher than today.
…This will be the end of the planet, of a secure and safe and civilized life for our children, grandchildren and beyond. The future death, destruction, suffering and unthinkable global chaos ensured by our current suicidal fossil fuel economy massively outweigh the temporary inconveniences of a timely transition to a life-affirming, renewable energy future.”
In Western history, there were three periods of relative quiet:
Pax Romana 27 BC – 180 AD
Pax Brittania 1815 – 1914
Pax Americana 1945 – present?
The final one had the distinction of holding off the end of the world. But that period is ending.
Who’s to blame?
Low Church attendance?
Mr Donald Trump?
A few bad apples?
A long time ago, it was theorized that crisis is the result of sunspots. You often hear that our downfall is the result of moral decay or low church attendance. Mostly, lately, one hears that it’s all Mr Trump’s fault. But the source of our crisis is none of those things or people.
The crisis is the direct consequence of the greed of the people who have the most. They have done this since civilization began and they would do it to the end of civilization because they cannot act otherwise.
The peace crisis comes because the wealthy control incredible military powers, but only in their own nation. To gain advantage, they ultimately have to use that military power against weaker powers. They always have and they always would because they cannot act otherwise.
The environmental crisis is the direct result of wealthy people, acting within their own military units, to accrue more riches at the expense of life on the planet.
A short video is at https://youtu.be/9MgLUjFA1XE
The remedy is democracy. Instead of being ruled by a wealthy few, we must make it possible to rule ourselves. The wealthy few are not going to allow that willingly. They have to be overcome. The people being oppressed by this system must organize and rise up against the ones doing the oppressing.
This is not a call to arms. You couldn’t possibly overcome the military might of this nation’s wealthy. There are only two ways that ordinary people can overcome their rulers and only one of them has the potential to work.
It is also not a call to somehow vanquish the opposition. Some think that Trump supporters are not capable of learning and should somehow be written off. But you cannot afford to write anybody off. What are you going to do? Kill them?
Push the envelope on voting as far as it will go, however, “Never be fooled,” said Lucy Parsons, “Into believing that the wealthy are going to allow you to vote them out of power.” Elections are tremendously important, but not for the fundamental kind of change we need.
A general strike, on the other hand, can work. In fact, it just worked in Puerto Rico last month. To a lesser extent, it worked in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona for teachers last year. The only real strength that working people have is to collectively stop working.
It’s a wonderful word, “Organize.” Also “Solidarity.”
But those are abstractions. I told you I would tell you what you could do, in material, not abstract terms. Here it is:
In your interactions with people and organizations, try to move them leftward toward greater understanding and upward toward more activity.
Right now in America, the AFL-CIO is as progressive, as single of purpose, and as powerful as any organization in the nation. Join us.