Economic outlook. fstv. podcast. if you lived with a roommate that was as unstable as this economic system…

ALTERNATIVES TO THE CORPORATE NEWS MEDIA

In this unique collection of over 50 essays, “The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself,” Richard D. Wolff argues clearly that “returning to normal” no longer responds adequately to the accumulated problems of US capitalism. What is necessary, instead, is transition toward a new economic system that works for all of us.

“The Sickness is the System” is published by Democracy at Work. Professor Wolff generously donated his time and work so that all sales revenue could go to support d@w. This book is now available as a paperback.

Learn more on Democracy at Work’s website!democracyatwork.infoBooksNew book by Prof Wolff: “The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself.” Our books are accessible texts which are informative and enjoyable for both those who are new to or very familiar the subjects of socialism, marxism, and capitalism.

putting “profit before candor.” Freespeech TV

Richard Wolff, Economic Update

The corporate news media is a vast wasteland, a mental fidget-spinner of trite nonsense.  It’s purpose, as far as I can tell, is to keep the lid on, to convince the population that the “institutions are holding,” and to stupify the public into believing that nothing is really wrong. 

There is the endlessly repeated both-sidesism enmeshed in the discussion of every topic.  Tonight, for example, in covering the allegations that DeSantis, Governor of Florida, participated in making it possible for rich campaign donors to skip the line on vaccines, Ari Melber felt it was necessary to show photographs of Cuomo and note for the audience that the show also covered Democrats who were accused of wrongdoing.   

And, there are the jokes, the uplifting People Magazine stories, the fashioning of narrative to make heroes out of every person who just behaves with normal human decency.

Essentially, the corporate news media is a waste of time. 

But, there are other places to go for news.  There are more podcasts than one person can listen to in a lifetime, and there are a few TV channels.  Freespeech TV is one of them. 

Richard Wolff hosts a program called Economic Update.  There are no guests, no video clips, no commercials. The program is adult news, discussion.

These are notes on the episode from 3/3/21

History Lessons on Capitalism’s Failures  

•            Even if you argue that the present economic system works in normal times, it certainly has not worked in a crisis like the pandemic.

•            Freemarket capitalism produced no warehouses of supplies (masks, ventilators) waiting to be distributed .  There were no facilities in population centers stocked with testing equipment.  There was no plan for dealing with the dislocations that a pandemic would cause. There’s no money, no profit in it.

•            Private enterprise isn’t going to provide a plan or products, or logistics for dealing with a pandemic before it happens. Only government can do that.

•            The signs the system isn’t up to the job of dealing with a crisis are everywhere.  Take, for example rising food prices.  The evidence is that globally food prices are increasing.  Private enterprise is not going to function to ensure the distribution of food in a pandemic.  Secondly, under the current system of capitalism, the eviction crisis will only exacerbate the pandemic problem.  In a pandemic people need to stay at home, but with evictions uncontrolled by the government, that’s exactly what we will not get.  Thirdly, only 5% of private schools are having internet learning due to the pandemic.  Private schools can afford to take measures to ensure safety.  They can have smaller classes, move people to other buildings.  65% of public schools, however, are not meeting students.  They are forced into distance learning.  The students on the bottom of the economic scale are taking the hit of the pandemic.

•            As Richard Wolff notes, the problems are so evident that the question is really: “Why are there people not understanding this still?” 

•            Wolff goes on to discuss the settlement of a criminal case against Boeing in which the company that makes most of the planes we travel in, was allowed to pay its way out of criminal prosecution for  $2.5 billion dollars.  Boeing, the settlement said, lied and put “profit before candor.”   But, in a capitalist society, profit is put before everything.  The people who run Boeing make careers from profit, not from candor. 

Economic Update, FSTV, is well worth your time. 

A breath of fresh air, a democrat tells the truth about christopher wray, fbi

Blog: Christopher Wray

For reasons inexplicable to me, the corporate media has always tried to make a hero out of Christopher Wray.  Most of the Democratic establishment has refused to criticize him and Biden has decided to allow him to remain as FBI Director.

But, in a giant departure from the way Wray is talked about by the corporate news media and the Democratic party, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, last night on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, told the truth.  It was a breath of fresh air. Democrats ought to try it more often.

Whitehouse told Hayes that in Wray’s testimony before the Senate, he was “less clear” than Merrick Garland that the Justice Department would follow the investigation of the January 6, insurrection wherever it may lead. 

Whitehouse was particularly concerned that the investigation would be dumped on the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.  Were this to happen, Whitehouse argued, there would be real questions of whether the investigation would go further than low level participants to “upstream investigations” of people who were actually driving the crime.  Whitehouse seemed to feel confident that Garland would pursue these “upstream” investigations.

When asked directly by Hayes if he thought Wray was a “straight shooter,” Whitehouse issued a scoffing laugh.  “If so, that would be a new phenomenon.” 

“I’ve spent three years trying to get him to answer questions and he has hidden behind every conceivable dodge” continued Whitehouse.  “We have unanswered questions from 2017.”

According to Whitehouse, in hearing after hearing during the Trump administration, Wray failed to answer questions not only submitted by Democrats, but those submitted by Republicans.  In seven of nine hearings Wray participated in, the committee got no answers. 

“He (Wray) participated in or ran a massive traffic jam that stopped answers to huge numbers of QFRs (questions for the record)…and to all of our letters.  At the same time, he set up this side road where they could run” lots of documents into the Republicans to do the Cross Fire Hurricane investigation. 

Whitehouse said he still wanted to know why questions got “jammed into the traffic jam” while “Trump friendly” questions got high speed treatment.  He wanted to know “why were we stonewalled all those years…what was the method, on whose instruction was that done, what was the scheme, what was the plan, why did it happen, all that.” 

And Whitehouse, quite rightly, pointed out that the FBI under Wray engaged in an absurd exercise characterized as an “investigation” of the charges against Brett Kavanaugh. 

Whitehouse said it was necessary to go back to “the FBI investigation of Bret Kavanaugh and whether that was real or fake and what happened with that so called tip line FBI ran, because as best as I can tell…all the information (from the tip line)…got dumped straight into the bin.”  None of it got reviewed “pursuant to standard FBI procedures for reviewing the information that comes in through a tip line.  It was more a tip dump than a tip line.  And understanding if that happened, why that happened on whose direction, presumably from the White House.”

Whitehouse concluded: “If this guy (Wray) presided over a fake FBI investigation, we need to know that.”

I would like to point out that Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat, helped set up that FBI investigation.  He and Christopher Wray need to be held to account. 

boeing and the “chickenshit” justice department

TUESDAY 2 MARCH 2021

Justice under Capitalism

Those relying on the U.S. justice system to hold the Trump administration accountable for the crime spree that was the past four years, need to consider the record of the Justice Department in prosecuting corporate and white collar criminals.  Let’s just start with one case.

In January of 2021, the Justice Department allowed Boeing to resolve a criminal charge “related to a conspiracy to defraud” the government in connection with the FAA’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.

Boeing needed FAA approval for the planes and FAA was charged with developing safety protocols for them.  Employees of Boeing, however, placing “profit over candor” deceived the government by withholding important information from the regulatory agency, information which might have delayed approval or necessitated increased training for the use of the planes.

These employees continued to withhold the information and participate in a conspiracy to cover up the withholding, even after the first disastrous crash of the Boeing 737 MAX in 2018.

In 2018, Loin Air Flight 610 crashed near Indonesia.  189 passengers and crew were killed.  In March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, crashed near Ejere Ethiopia.  All 157 passengers and crew died.  In March 2019 the plane involved, the 737 MAX, was officially grounded.   

No individuals were charged in the federal criminal information filed against a company, Boeing, and no individuals were punished.  Boeing was allowed to buy itself out of prosecution.

The agreement accepted by the Justice Department was a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), one of many the Department of Justice enters into with corporations every year.  According to “The Chikenshit Club” by Jesse Eisinger (one of the most underestimated books in the past decade) from 2002 until the Fall of 2016, the Justice Department entered into 416 such agreements.  In the previous 10 years, they had participated in 18.

These DPAs take the place of prosecutions.  They are easier for the Justice Department (require less resources and risk of losing), allow the Department to claim victories and tout what appear to be large fines.  And, the NPAs are much less painful for the corporation.  The fines are usually tiny compared with resources of the corporation, and they rarely involve individuals.   

So even though individuals at Boeing made decision after decision to deceive the regulatory agency the public depends on to ensure flying safety, they were not named and not prosecuted.  They were allowed to hide behind a NPA that resulted in a fine paid by Boeing.

DPAs are similar to plea bargains.  But, unlike plea bargains, they are not lowered charges in exchange for a guilty plea.  It is a prosecution that has been deferred, not brought.  Boeing has not been prosecuted for a crime, and can claim so.  It has been allowed to buy itself out of prosecution. 

Every criminal in every court in the country (except the innocent ones) would love to be allowed to pay a small sum in order not to be prosecuted for the crime s/he committed.  They are almost never afforded this opportunity.

Ordinary criminal defendants (the poor) are almost always required to plead guilty to a crime in order to secure a more lenient sentence.  The poor defendant is subject to the stigma of criminal prosecution, the economic costs.  These companies, however, are allowed to negotiate a settlement that doesn’t even include prosecution, or necessarily an admission of guilt.

In this case, Boeing agreed to a settlement, a bribe, in order not to be prosecuted for deceiving the government by withholding crucial information about one of its planes from those charged with developing safety protocols, information that might well have prevented two crashes and the loss of over 400 lives.

Boeing, a company, a legal fiction, is held responsible for its’ employees behavior.  Those employees who participated in this conspiracy, knowing that it would endanger lives for profit, are left free to be promoted, or leave the company and get jobs working elsewhere, committing more crimes.

The FAA is one of the agencies administering regulations about how corporations function.  Republicans have spent the past forty years fighting against every regulation of industry, starving regulatory agencies of funds, and demonizing them in the eyes of the public they were designed to protect. 

When a white collar or corporate criminal is caught, they are allowed to hide behind their “company” and evade responsibility.

If you want to know what Republicans stand for, this is it – free, unfettered, unaccountable fraud against the American people for profit.     

Resources:

Free Speech TV: Economic Update with Richard Wolff, History Lessons on Capitalism’s Failures, 3/2/21.

Department of Justice News: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/boeing-charged-737-max-fraud-conspiracy-and-agrees-pay-over-25-billion

Counterpunch.  https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/19/why-boeing-and-its-executives-should-be-prosecuted-for-manslaughter/

Mother Jones several background articles

Intelligencer.  https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/boeing-settled-737-max-case-for-almost-nothing.html

The Chickenshit Club by Jesse Eisinger

texas, georgia and the republicans: morning rundown

Texas:

  • The Republicans are turning a massive failure of infrastructure and privatization in Texas into a condemnation of renewable energy.  Even the Governor of the State is on national television spewing lies and disinformation. 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott, on Fox News, said that the problem was caused by renewable energy systems.
  • Officials were told in 2011 that they needed to winterize the Texas system.  But, the State of Texas didn’t make that winterization and other changes obligatory.  Because the grid is operated by private companies, allowed to make as much profit as they can, the State failed to winterize and now we are watching people lose their lives.
  • Message #1: Don’t elect people to run government that don’t believe in government.
  • Message #2: Capitalism is going to kill us.
  • Message #3: We are living in a failed state. 

Corporate Media

  • On MSNBC, Joe Scarborough is complaining about networks allowing Donald Trump to phone in and spout lies.  Morning Joe gave Donald Trump millions in free air time in 2015 and 2016.
  • Every morning, Trump was phoning in to Morning Joe and lying. 

Georgia: Glynn County Police Department

  • Ahmaud Arbery was killed in Glynn County, Georgia on the street, murdered by a former police investigator and his son.
  • Police made no arrests and allowed Arbery to lay on the ground while they released the man and his son.
  • The only reason the two men are in jail now is because a video of the killing was released to the press.
  • In 2020, the County Commission prevented the citizens of Glynn County from voting to abolish this police agency.
  • The agency has been fraught with controversy and illegal behavior.
  • The former chief of police was indicted, the Narcotics Unit was disbanded, officers killed a woman in her car and failed to remove an officer who had a history of assaultive behavior.  This officer went to the house of his ex-girlfriend and shot her, her new male friend and himself.
  • Now, the County is paying a consulting firm to tell them who to hire as Police Chief. In addition, they are hiring a former “mentor” of one of the council members to also tell them who to hire.
  • The County gave the consulting contract to a company that didn’t even have the words “community policing” in their proposal.  The proposal was the shortest of all those submitting, two pages.

Georgia: Voting Systems

  • The Republicans in the state legislature are on their way to pass some of the most restrictive voting rules in the country.
  • The new laws would prohibit the use of mail-in ballots for almost everybody.
  • Republicans depend on people not being able to vote.

Economic rape and the republicans

  • The Republicans are turning a massive failure of infrastructure and privatization in Texas into a condemnation of renewable energy.  Even the Governor of the State is on national television spewing lies and disinformation. 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott, on Fox News, said that the problem was caused by renewable energy systems.
  • Officials were told in 2011 that they needed to winterize the Texas system.  But, the State of Texas didn’t make that winterization and other changes obligatory.  Because the grid is operated by private companies, allowed to make as much profit as they can, the State failed to winterize and now we are watching people lose their lives.
  • Message #1: Don’t elect people to run government that don’t believe in government.
  • Message #2: Capitalism is going to kill us.
  • Message #3: We are living in a failed state. 

joe manchin’s West virginia

Chris Hedges interviews Eleanor Goldfield, director of the film, “Hard Road of Hope.” This is the state Joe (they don’t need any more money) Manchin represents.

https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/514762-goldfield-west-virginia-strikes/

Notes:

  • In the 2016 Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders won all 55 countries in West Virginia.  In the general election, however, Trump took 68.5 percent of the vote .  This was his largest share of the vote in any state.
  • By the time of the 2020 Democratic primary, Sanders had suspended his campaign (after the DNC annointed Joe Biden).
  • Trump won 69 percent of the vote opposing Biden.
  • West Virginia is the poorest state in the nation.
  • The state is characterized by an opioid epidemic.
  • The death rate in recent years from drug overdose has exceeded any other state.
  • The cancer rates in the state are high.
  • The southern part of the state has been turned into a toxic waste dump by coal companies.
  • West Virginia is a “resource colony” and displays the consequent devastation in the environment and the health of the people living there.
  • So, why in a state characterized by such poverty, illness and exploitation did people vote for Trump?
  • Big Coal has orchestrated a decades old long propaganda campaign to convince people who should know better that big coal is their friend.
  • People identify with big coal and express pride when they, for example, develop black lung disease. The disease demonstrates that they have worked hard all their lives to keep the “lights on” in America.
  • If evidence comes to light of the egregious exploitation of big coal, people write it off as “bad companies.” These companies are the “bad apples” but not the harvest.
  • West Virginians have been separated from their own radical past through the suppression of information about actions such as the 1921 armed uprising on  Blair Mountain., where miners took on the coal industry.
  • So, coal and fracking continue to result in environmental and health damage.  

People in West Virginia believed Bernie Sanders would do something about changing the conditions of their lives. They, however, did not believe that the corporate Democrats (Clinton an Biden) would.

Film

DEMOCRACY OR AUTHORITARIANISM, YOU CHOOSE

147 Republican members of Congress voted against seating Joe Biden’s electors.  They moved against accepting the votes of the people in this country based on no evidence that there was a significant problem with the voting system. 

These 147 Republican members of Congress did not win, but they tried to.  There are not 147 Trumps.  These people are Republicans.  They are Republicans who do not support democracy.  But, as of today, they are all still in Congress.

Just like all the other outrages of the Trump administration, the fact that 147 members of Congress tried to throw out the results of an election, is being normalized.  Corporate news anchors are repeatedly asking representatives of the Biden administration how they can claim to seek “unity” when they are proposing legislation that differs from (what purports to be) the Republican agenda. 

The past four years has been difficult, nerve wracking, infuriating, but since the nomination of Biden, it has been even more infuriating.  It is perhaps a bit less stressful since I don’t wake up every morning dreading to find out what the president has done while I was asleep, but the Democrats and the corporate media seen to have learned nothing, NOTHING from the last four years.

The Democrats have not learned how to run against the Republicans, and the corporate media (in the face of an insurrection) is still indulging in mindless bothsidesism.

When Trump was in office, it seemed like a frontal assault, every day.  Now, I have the feeling that the corporate media is playing music while people are relentlessly creeping up behind me. 

Unlike many of the people I know, I feel no relief with the election of Biden.  The Democrats are still talking about “unity” and “bipartisanship” with people who have demonstrated that they want to destroy democracy to maintain their power.  It’s like watching a government negotiate, trying to win over the Naxi party.  It is enraging and it is terrifying.

While the Democrats waltz around congratulating each other for representational appointments, the Republicans are seizing 2022.

In Georgia, Warnock is up for reelection in 2022.  We don’t have six years with Warnock, we have less than two.  We have to do this again.  We have to drag out a win in what is essentially a red state, and we have to do it in a circumstance where the state government is already actively working to eliminate as many potential voters as possible.

In Georgia, Republicans have proposed steps to make it harder to vote by mail and easier to throw out legally cast ballots.  The same Republicans who the corporate media celebrated – Kemp, Raffensperger, Sterling – are beavering away to purge voters from the rolls and make it more difficult for people to vote.

What people need to remember is that Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling went along with every Trump inspired move to suppress voting except put themselves in criminal jeopardy by changing votes.  They are like the gang members who were perfectly willing to drive the get away car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.

They will be even more willing to drive the car now because they are trying to get back into the good graces, and the donations, of right-wing supporters.

Across the Country

Emily Singer (1/22/21) is reporting in the Independent that efforts to make it harder to vote are going on in most of the GOP-controlled state legislatures.  They are introducing legislation to make voter registration and voting by mail more difficult.

These voter suppression moves have been practiced by the Republicans for decades, but picked up steam especially after Biden’s win in 2020.  Republicans are daily pointing out the dangers of what they see as “voter fraud” and legitimating moves to keep people from voting in the name of eliminating “voter fraud.”

In Montana, the state House began hearings on a bill which would eliminate same-day voter registration.  This is what the SOS refers to as “election integrity.”  These measures are expected and intended to affect the voting of Native Americans and students.  Both groups vote Democratic by a wide margin.

In New Hampshire, the GOP-controlled House started hearings on a bill that would repeal same-day registration and putt barriers to students who want to vote.  Students must, if the bill is passed, prove that they qualify for in-state tuition before registering to vote.  Republicans passed a similar law ahead of the 2020 election which required students to become permanent residents to vote.  This law was struck down by a judge.

In Arizona, a GOP-run legislature is weighing getting rid of the state’s Permanent Early Vote List, which allows residents to register to receive mail-in ballots automatically. They are also working to impose restrictions on recounts and add other burdens to discourage people from voting.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican state senator introduced a bill that would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting. 

In Mississippi, a Republican state senator proposed a bill which would lock Mississippi from releasing vote totals in presidential elections until after all states had cast their votes in the Electoral College. 

Democrats in the House are working to pass H.R.1, which would require states to implement automatic voter registration and limit their ability to purge voters from the rolls.  An identical bill passed the House in 2019, but McConnell blocked it from getting a vote. 

So, Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote.  Republicans, who realize they cannot win if there is a popular vote, are working furiously to purge voting lists and make it more difficult for people to vote. 

One Party is advocating and working for democracy. The other party is fighting against it.  You choose.

Resources

https://americanindependent.com/gop-lawmakers-states-legislation-voter-suppression/

it ain’t over by a long shot, chris hayes, voter suppression and arizona

147 Republican members of Congress voted against seating Joe Biden’s electors.  They voted against accepting the votes of the people based on no evidence that there was a significant problem with the voting system.  These members didn’t win, but that’s how they voted.  There are not 147 Trumps.  These people are Republicans who do not believe in democracy. 

What they were saying was, the people of this country can have an election, but after that election Congress will decide whether they accept what the American people have decided.  As Chris Hayes stated it: You can vote, but if you vote for the wrong person, we will decide.

In Arizona, a member of Congress has introduced a bill giving the legislature the explicit power to override the Secretary of State’s certification of electoral votes.  This bill has a reasonable change of passage.  Again, what this means is that people can vote (as in other countries like Russia) but the vote is meaningless.  A small group of elites decide who will run the country.

As Rep. Ruben Gallego noted on Chris Hayes’ show (1/29/21) the Republican party reacted to losing a presidential election by trying to further restrict who votes (voter suppression) and trying to find means of overthrowing elections they lose.

These people are working, every day, every minute.  They are not going away, and they are going to come back in 2022 stronger than ever.  If anyone has any doubt about this, just watch Fox News or Newsmax for 10 minutes. 

This is no time for waltzing off into the sunset in a delusion of representational politics.  It ain’t over, not by a long shot. 

A discussion of politics, law, justice, and crime.