USuncutMN says: Tax the corporations! Tax the rich! Stop the cuts, fight for social justice for all. Standing in solidarity with http://www.usuncut.org/ and other Uncutters worldwide. FIGHT for a Foreclosure Moratorium! Foreclosure = homelessness. Resist the American Legislative Exchange Council, Grover Norquist and Citizen's United. #Austerity for the wheeler dealers, NOT the people.



We Are The 99% event

USuncutMN supports #occupyWallStreet, #occupyDC, the XL Pipeline resistance Yes, We, the People, are going to put democracy in all its forms up front and center. Open mic, diversity, nonviolent tactics .. Social media, economic democracy, repeal Citizen's United, single-payer healthcare, State Bank, Operation Feed the Homeless, anti-racism, homophobia, sexISM, war budgetting, lack of transparency, et al. Once we identify who we are and what we've lost, We can move forward.



Thursday, March 31, 2011

UK Uncut's Big Society Bail In

The banks have run the global economy into the ground. Bankers, encouraged by the government, gambled recklessly with our money, and they lost. Spectacularly. Remember 2008? In the UK, the government decided it had to step in with a bail-out because these banks were ‘too big to fail’. According to the Bank of England, the cost of this bail-out now exceeds £1trillion. The result is that all high street banks- from Barclays to RBS- owe their existence to public financing.

What did we get for our billions? A banking system that serves ordinary people rather than the super-rich? No. Regretful bankers who refuse to reward themselves with massive bonuses? No. How about increased financial regulation to ensure this crisis couldn’t happen again? No. The government has done nothing to stop it being business as usual for banks.
What’s worse, the money that was given to the bankers is the money now being taken from the poorest in society, guaranteeing a rise in poverty, debt and inequality. Nearly £7 billion will be paid out in bank bonuses this year. This sum is more than the first wave of public spending cuts. We are not all in this together because it’s us who will pay if education, health, housing, libraries, woodland and much, much more, disappears from our lives.

Who’s telling us we must make these cuts? A government led by a cabinet of millionaires, in bed with the bankers, which is now pulling off an audacious con-trick in front of our eyes.
This is how their story goes. The crisis was caused by a bloated public sector. We binged away all our money on luxuries like healthcare and free education and council services, care for the elderly, for people with disabilities, school sports and free school meals for children living in poverty. Now the country is bankrupt and we must repent, detox, cut back. We have to relinquish our welfare state to appease the circling money men. Welcome to the Age of Austerity but don’t worry because we are all in this together.

We say – don’t believe their lies. This is their crisis, but there is no austerity for the bankers.
David Cameron says he wants ordinary volunteers to step up and do the government’s job for them. We’re happy to oblige. Just as UK Uncut’s Big Society Revenue and Customs has been making the tax dodgers pay, the Big Society Bail-In will set about taking back the banks and transforming them to meet people’s real needs.

The plan is to stage Bail-Ins across the UK – bringing the Big Society into the banks. Every high street in every town across the country is home to branches of the big banks. Teams of UK Uncut volunteers will be entering the banks, occupying them and transforming them into something that people need that will be damaged by the cuts.

This isn't about shutting the banks down, but opening them up. Libraries are being closed, so how about staging a read-in? The housing benefit cap means people are losing their homes, so what about a sleep-in? Theatres are being shut, so how about staging a play in your local bank? Health provisions are being cut, so what about setting up a walk-in clinic? University funding is being savaged so how about holding a lecture series? The possibilities are endless. It’s up to you to come up with a creative idea, get some people together, transform your local bank and tell the public why you’re there.

We will not pay for their crisis. See you on the high streets.

US: Banks Will Use Fed Funds to Repay Fed Bailout

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/03/30/business/AP-US-Federal-Bailout-Banks.html?_r=2&hp


Corporations At Tax Time: Who's Good And Who's Bad (And Who's Really Ugly)

http://www.countercurrents.org/buchheit310311.htm


By Paul Buchheit
31 March, 2011
Countercurrents.org

It's tempting to blame government for our middle-income 15-20% tax rates.
But the true culprits have documented their own guilt. Comprehensive
financial reports called '10-Ks' are issued annually to the SEC by U.S.
corporations. Amidst tedious pages of income, flow, and outgo, company
accountants deftly balance management's desire to impress stockholders
with the need to avoid self-incrimination.

PayUpNow.org has documented recent corporate tax activity from the 10-Ks.
We took non-deferred federal tax payments over the past three years and
analyzed the figures to determine which companies and industries
consistently meet or avoid their obligations. The entire dataset is
available on the PayUpNow.org website.

The GOOD seems to be in the health care industry, where Humana, Medco,
Wellpoint, and United Health all paid taxes at rates close to the 35%
corporate maximum over the past three years. Some nation-wide family
favorites fared well, too. Home Depot, Walgreens, CVS, Kohl's, and Best
Buy all approached the 35% rate three years running. Good places to shop.
Companies within specific industries were generally grouped together, as
if they didn't want to fall far from the tree. In the middle of the pack
were Costco, Walmart, and Target, all consistently paying in the mid-20%
tax rate range. Even more noteworthy was the tech industry, which had
several companies paying taxes at annual rates between 15 and 20 percent:
Microsoft, Oracle, Dell, Google, Apple, Amazon, Cisco, and Comcast.

On to the BAD...Kraft Foods and Coca Cola paid less than 10% in taxes over
the three-year period. Chevron paid 5%. Hewlett-Packard 3%. IBM 2%. Exxon
2%. Carnival 1%.

Can't get much worse, it seems. But it does. It gets UGLY.

Boeing and DuPont and Dow Chemical and Verizon all made profits three
years in a row, but all received net refunds for the three-year period.
The ugliest result comes from General Electric, which made pre-tax profits
of $44 billion over three years but received almost $5 billion in refunds!
So ugly, indeed, that the company buried its tax benefit (refund) strategy
in a nondescript passage near the end of its 10-K.

The big picture:

The top 100 companies, with $5 trillion in 2010 revenue and $500 billion
in pre-tax earnings, paid less than 10% last year in non-deferred federal
taxes. If these 100 companies had paid the 35% tax designated by U.S. tax
law, an additional $140 billion would have been collected in federal taxes
in just one year. This is approximately equal to the total budget deficits
for all 50 states.

Pay Up Now is committed to a focused national effort to refuse the
business of the worst corporate tax offenders. We should not have to
subsidize them with our own tax money.

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago,
founder and developer of social justice and educational websites
(UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and
main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press).
He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.

UKuncut gets support from unions, campaigners

UKuncut gets support from unions, campaigners


by Sunny Hundal     
March 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm

A letter has been issued today, signed by unions heads as well as campaign groups, reiterating support for the group UKuncut.
The letter was published in the Guardian newspaper. It says:
As a relatively new protest movement UK Uncut have played a significant part in changing the terms of debate around economic policy in this country. Indeed they were instrumental in ensuring more people were at the march on Saturday than otherwise would have been. At all times they acted in a way which complemented and supported the TUC march.

However, in taking the type of peaceful action which they routinely undertake, on Saturday UK Uncut were treated in a political and deceptive manner by the police which sends an ominous message about the right to protest (Arrests threaten future protests, lawyer warns, 30 March). It would appear activists were misled by the police about not being arrested when asked to leave the Fortnum & Mason building, after which they were held for a significant length of time, their clothing was confiscated, and they have been denied the right to protest in the near future.

We support the right to protest for a fairer and more equal world. As part of this, we condemn any politically motivated policing which provokes, intimidates or criminalises protesters. We will continue to support UK Uncut until tax justice is secured so the poorest are not forced to pay the price of a financial crisis caused by the richest.
Signed
John Hilary War on Want,
Nick Dearden Jubilee Debt Campaign,
Liz Nelson Tax Justice Network,
Neal Lawson Compass,
Mark Serwotka PCS,
Jeremy Dear NUJ,
Len McCluskey Unite,
Andy Egan People and Planet
A longer version of the letter is on the UKuncut website.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fasting to Oppose Budget Cuts

Meeting on Consequences of Corporation Constitutional Rights
An open, non-partisan meeting on Corporate money in politics and what needs to be done to prevent a fascist takeover, featuring David Cobb  

WHAT:           Meeting and Speaker on Corporate Constitutional Rights
WHO:             Twin Cities residents/students, David Cobb, Robin & Laird Monahan
WHERE:        Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Building
WHEN:           April 5, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
WEB:              http://pol.moveon.org/event/meeting/113765

On Tuesday, April 5, Twin Cities citizens will gather at an open, non-partisan meeting to listen to David Cobb, a Principal with the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), member of Sierra Club’s National Corporate Accountability Committee, part of the Move To Amend Coalition Steering Committee, and 2004 Green Party candidate for U.S. President.  David Cobb is on a speaking tour across Minnesota discussing the consequences of what he calls “corporate personhood”.

This event is organized through volunteer efforts of the Twin Cities MoveOn.org, Other 98%, USuncut, and Minnesota Move to Amend.  It will be hosted by Robin Monahan and include his brother Laird Monahan, the brothers who walked across America last year to bring attention to corporate money in politics that has led to, most notably, record-setting election spending in 2010, Koch Industries influence in Wisconsin, and its recall campaign.

Minnesota Move To Amend was formed when Laird and Robin returned home in October 2010 after completing their five-month walk.  More can be found onhttp://www.lairdandrobin.org

  • MoveOn.org is a non-profit organization comprised of over 5 million volunteers nationwide.
  • MoveToAmend.org is a coalition of 100,000+ people and organizations.
  • Other98.org and USuncut.org represent coalitions of 500,000+ people and organizations.

***VISUALS: Speakers; Large, organized meeting room; Signs supporting teachers on walls; 50-100 people ****

16 page essay on hourly rates: Public Citizen

http://www.citizen.org/documents/Hourly-Rates-Report-20110323.pdf

“Every fourteen minutes in 2009, hedge fund manager David Tepper made President Obama’s annual salary.”

That’s the opening line of “Hourly Rates: A Modest Essay about Extraordinary Paychecks,” the new 14-page essay by Bartlett Naylor, Public Citizen’s financial policy lobbyist. 

Tepper made $4 billion. If you’re curious how that kind of pay compares with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Johnny Depp (or the GDP of Mongolia), you’ll want to read “Hourly Rates.”


Outrageous Wall Street pay is a problem that affects everyone.

The billion-dollar payouts are rewards for creating spikes in short-term gain — the types of gimmicks that caused the financial crisis.

In the coming weeks, we’ll need your help to fight for sensible regulations and laws to stop Wall Street from rewarding itself for weakening our economy. 

In the meantime, check out our blog to learn more about Wall Street pay.
www.citizenvox.org/2011/03/24/a-modest-essay-on-extraordinary-paychecks/ 

Obama’s Fatal Addiction: General Electric

Posted on Mar 29, 2011
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
President Barack Obama applauds GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, right, before speaking to workers at the GE plant in Schenectady, NY on Jan. 21.
If it had been revealed that Jeffrey Immelt once hired an undocumented nanny, or defaulted on his mortgage, he would be forced to resign as head of President Barack Obama’s “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” But the fact that General Electric, where Immelt is CEO, didn’t pay taxes on its $14.5 billion profit last year—and indeed is asking for a $3.2 billion tax rebate—has not produced a word of criticism from the president, who in January praised Immelt as a business leader who “understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.”

What it takes, evidently, is shifting profit and jobs abroad: As of last year only 134,000 of GE’s total workforce of 304,000 was based in the U.S. and according to the New York Times for the past three years 82% of the company’s profit was sheltered abroad. Thanks to changes in the tax law engineered when another avowedly pro-business Democrat, Bill Clinton, was president, U.S. multinational financial companies can avoid taxes on their international scams. And financial scams are what GE excelled in for decades, when GE Capital, its financial unit, which specialized in credit card, consumer loan and housing mortgage debt, accounted for most of GE’s profits.
That’s right, GE, along with General Motors with its toxic GMAC financial unit, came to look more like an investment bank than a traditional industrial manufacturing giant that once propelled this economy and ultimately it ran into the same sort of difficulties as the Wall Street hustlers. As The New York Times’ David Kocieniewski, who broke the GE profit story, put it:

“Because its lending division, GE Capital, has provided more than half of the company’s profit in some recent years, many Wall Street analysts view G.E. not as a manufacturer but as an unregulated lender that also makes dishwashers and M.R.I. machines.”

Maximizing corporate profits at the taxpayer’s expense is what top CEOs are good at, and after all it was Immelt who presided over GE when it got so heavily into the subprime mortgage business that it needed a government bailout to avoid bankruptcy. This was before Obama made him a trusted adviser.

Back at the end of 2008, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. government had agreed to insure an additional $139 billion in GE Capital’s debt holdings, the second such intervention within a month, adding, “The company’s exposure to the deepest financial crisis since the 1930s has cut its market value by more than half this year.” A Washington Post exposé titled “How a Loophole Benefits GE in Bank Rescue” documented the power of Immelt’s lobbying operation in Washington. GE was not initially deemed eligible for the debt guarantee program offered to failing banks, “but regulators soon loosened the eligibility requirements, in part because of behind-the scenes appeals from GE.” And it worked; as the Post reported, “The government’s actions have been `powerful and helpful’ to the company, GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt acknowledged.” For the next two years, GE would still report enormous profits without paying taxes, adding insult to the injury that financial shenanigans had inflicted on ordinary taxpayers who bailed the company out.

On Feb. 6, 2009, Immelt sent a contrite annual letter to GE shareholders, admitting, “Our Company’s reputation was tarnished because we weren’t the ‘safe and reliable’ growth company that is our aspiration.” While conceding his own culpability in GE’s downturn, Immelt predicted a rosy future: “I accept responsibility for this. But, I think the environment presents an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Not, obviously, for the 50 million Americans who have either lost their homes or are deeply underwater in a housing market that is still in steep decline thanks to the lending practices of companies like GE Capital. Nope, the good times are in the offing only for corporations that know how to make the U.S. government a partner in their scams. As Immelt stated blatantly: “The global economy, and capitalism, will be `reset’ in several important ways. The interaction between government and business will change forever. In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner.”

That’s the essential blueprint for Obama’s restructuring of the economy, as the president put it in selecting Immelt to replace Paul Volcker as head of his outside team of economic advisers. Volcker had become increasingly critical of the corporate high rollers. Obama, although noting the suffering of ordinary Americans, clearly believes that such populism is now beside the point. As the president put it in announcing Immelt’s appointment on Jan. 20, 2011: “The past two years was about moving our economy back from the brink. Our job now is putting our economy into overdrive.”

But overdrive, with CEOs like Immelt shifting the gears, is what brought us so close to the brink. Once again Obama seems fatally addicted to the notion that the heavy hitters who got us into this mess are the very folks to be trusted to get us out of it. What he seems incapable of grasping is that while they are personally very good at avoiding the precipice, the rest of us are hardly passengers in their limos.

Interview with Richard Wolff: The United States and the Global Capitalist Crisis

by Richard Wolff and Ian J. Seda-Irizarry.

PUBLISHED ON JULY 29, 2010
Interview done by Ian J. Seda-Irizarry, graduate student and instructor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Originally published in the Puerto Rican weekly newspaper Claridad (July 29th- August 4th, 2010).
 
Ian Seda (IS): Many economists are claiming that the “Great Recession” is finally over given a rebound in GDP growth in the US. What is your take on these types of analyzes?     
 
Rick Wolff (RW): GDP numbers tell us nothing about the distribution of income and wealth, the profitability of enterprises, the prospects for growth, and much else of importance. Politicians often use GDP numbers if and when convenient to applaud policies they support or denounce those they oppose. In the US today, politicians interpret GDP growth since mid-2009 as a sign that capitalism is now “in recovery.” Yet extreme unevenness characterizes US capitalist development since mid-2009. Because of massive injection of money, lowering interest rates to near zero, and guaranteeing private bank obligations by the Federal Reserve (the US central bank), and simultaneous massive deficit spending by the US federal government, banks’ profitability recovered. Low interest rates also fueled a partial “recovery” of stock market prices. Huge government spending likewise slowed (but never reversed) rising unemployment and bankruptcies. Thus, while US GDP rose since mid-2009, unemployment and bankruptcies also rose, the housing crisis deepened (severe excess supply of housing alongside rapidly rising homelessness), and state and local governments slashed services (especially public education, welfare, support for the elderly, etc.). 
            For the present and the future of the US economy, what matters most since mid-2009 is the severity of rising unemployment and its negative consequences. Current living conditions of most Americans have deteriorated; that plus cutbacks in education seriously compromise the economic future for the US. Multinational corporate capitalists are relocating production, targeting future market growth, and making profits increasingly outside the US. They use their wealth and power to reduce their US taxes and to support US politicians who best manage this long-term decline of the US.
            Since the mid-1970s, real wages in the US stagnated. Households maintained rising standards of living only because US workers (especially women) did more hours of paid labor and borrowed huge sums. Today, exhausted from that labor and anxious over unsustainable household debt, US workers confront the historic decline of their standard of living and its future prospects. Only a mass class response can change these historic developments. GDP numbers stressed in public discussions mostly distract attention from the social implications of the crisis and working class decline.
 
(IS): In what ways is this crisis and the responses to it different from the one of the 1930's?
 
(RW): President Roosevelt's response to the deepening US depression after 1932 was shaped by three key factors: (1) the severity of unemployment, bankruptcy, profit and output declines, etc. (2) the powerful working class response in an historically unprecedented unionization drive organized by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), and in rising electoral support and social influence of the Socialist and Communist Parties, and (3) the existence of an increasingly influential anti-capitalist alternative in the USSR. Thus Roosevelt's New Deal not only used massive Keynesian monetary and fiscal policies and regulations of businesses and markets; it also undertook massive programs of direct employment (hiring 11 million workers as federal employees between 1933 and 1942) while also established the social security system, unemployment insurance, etc.
            In contrast, the Bush and Obama administrations faced only the first of the three key factors listed above: a massive collapse of the capitalist economy. The AFL-CIO has been declining without interruption for 50 years and now represents under 8 per cent of privaste employees. The socialist and communist parties have all but disappeared and nothing comparable has yet  replaced them. Thus we have, quite predictably, Keynesianism without any major, direct, or massive social welfare system. Without political pressure from below, the US will continue to be ruled by a right-wing Keynesianism.
 
(IS):People like Noam Chomsky are worried that the current situation in the US has brought back the ghost of fascism given the lack of an organized labor movement and the role that nationalism acquires as a discourse of unity under situations of crisis. What are your thoughts on this?
 
(RW):Capitalism always provokes angers and resentments, especially among workers who get jobs in cyclical upswings and then get fired when crises hit. In sustained capitalist crises, the numbers of such workers rise. Their demands for relief, for jobs, etc. can quickly mature into criticisms of the capitalist system itself for so regularly revisiting crises and mass suffering on people. Then socialist and/or communist movements can become more socially powerful. Capitalism’s survival may require something that distracts angry workers and the unemployed away from socialist and communist movements. Fascism is often the solution for capitalism if and when its organizers use nationalism, religion, racism, anti-immigration sentiments or other such means to generate mass movements that do NOT attack capitalism and do attack socialism and/or communism. The ghost of fascism – like economic crisis - always haunts capitalism. The current crisis in the US only brings that ghost closer. As in the past, extended crises can produce a kind of state capitalism (e.g. Nazism) to ward off socialism and communism.
 
(IS):How do you view the announcement of the USW-Mondragón alliance and its proposal to develop manufacturing jobs around the green economy initiative in light of the intense debates within leftist groupsa bout the role of cooperatives within capitalism?
 
(RW):Cooperative productive enterprises have long been another way for workers to vote with their lives and work against the capitalist organization of production. Instead of a tiny minority of shareholders selecting boards of directors to decide what, where, and how to produce and what to do with the profits, producer coops take all such powers into the hands of the workers themselves. The USW-Mondragon alliance is an important step of recognition by a major US trade union that its basic strategy of organizing capitalist employees to bargain collectively with capitalist employers needs to be broadened to include an alliance with workers interested in producer coops. The alliance of the USW and Mondragon can transform a still-largely implicit critique of capitalism that they share into a powerful new twenty-first century movement toward the goal of realizing much more democratic, post-capitalist forms of organizing production.
 
(IS):What is your impression of the dynamics that are taking place in Latin America regarding the 21st Century Socialism alternative to the neo-liberalism?
 
(RW):What is most impressive about Latin America’s leadership in challenging global neoliberalism is the broad political support for that challenge, the leadership’s sophisticated respect for and attention to mass organization of  that support, and its refusal to date to sell out to or knuckle under to US counter-pressures. These dimensions of 21st century Latin American socialism are inspiring for much of the rest of the world. At the same time, what is important to stress is that the problem for socialists is not neo-liberalism – one form of capitalism – but rather capitalism per se in all its forms. Even on those rare occasions when capitalism can be given a human face, that face is never secure. The underlying contradictions of capitalism can – and usually do – quickly reverse the human face and impose again the ugly dictatorship of capital. Thus we see today, across so much of the industrialized capitalist world, the destruction of welfare states in favor of new “austerity” regimes. Capitalism demands them as the necessary response to its crisis. What we all need from the Latin American movements for socialism is (1) a strong, clear refusal not only of austerities but also the capitalism that demands them to repair the crises it creates, and (2) a program for an alternative, non-capitalist organization of production.
 
Ian Seda (IS):What has led to the various austerity measures that have been proposed and implemented in various European countries during the last months?
 
Rick Wolff (RW):Austerity’s immediate cause was the threat by lenders that they might not renew existing loans or make additional loans to these countries and/or charge them much higher interest rates unless those countries raised significant new money to guarantee the servicing of their debts. Lenders demanded that indebted governments either raise more in taxes or cut expenditures or both: i.e., “austerity”. Because the US borrowed so much more over the last 2 years and because it remains the world’s least risky debtor, lenders can demand more from all other countries. Lenders can lend all they want to the low-risk, heavily borrowing US, so they demand much more from riskier borrowing nations unless those nations impose an austerity that reduces lenders’ risks.
 
The global crisis suddenly forced the US and many other countries to vastly increase global borrowing to finance crisis management. New borrowings added to the long accumulation of debt by many governments who borrow rather than face (1) the political enmity of the business interests and wealthy who do not want to pay taxes and/or (2) the mass resistance of people who will not pay more in taxes. Borrowing allows such nations’ leaders to support business and the masses without taxing them more. That option for those leaders has now been damaged by the global capitalist crisis.
 
Not the least irony of the situation is that among the most important lenders to national governments are major global banks whose collapse provoked governments to undertake massive borrowing to rescue those banks (as well as global credit markets). The banks benefited because rising national debts financed their rescue by governments; in return, they now threaten their riskier benefactors and press austerity upon them.
 
Of course austerity can take different forms. Imposing austerity is a risky move by a desperate governmental apparatus, since it sharpens struggles internally over who will pay more taxes and who will suffer cuts in payments and services from the government.
 
(IS):Who are the major lenders to the U.S?
 
Treasury securities – the main form of the US national debt – are owned by both private (60 per cent) and public (40 per cent) creditors. The biggest single creditor is the U.S. Federal Reserve which buys and sometimes sells Treasury securities as a means of manipulating the money supply to influence the economy. The nations whose private and public creditors together have by far the largest holdings of US treasury debt today are the People’s Republic of China and Japan with roughly $ 900 and $ 800 billion respectively out of a total foreign ownership of Treasury debt equal to $ 4 trillion (all data as of April 2010). Private owners of US Treasury debt include banks (on their own accounts and as trust and fund managers and advisers), pension funds, insurance companies, stock brokerages, etc
 
(IS): You recently had the chance to visit the latest scapegoat of the crisis, Greece. What general thoughts can you share with us about that particular situation?
 
(RW):Greece is a place now of sharpening struggles. Europe is close behind as the schedule of general strikes into Fall 2010 show. Greece has a militant working class that cannot be squeezed as easily as in many other capitalist countries. At the same time, it has a highly concentrated business structure and the small wealthy strata it sustains. Notorious tax evasion has been coupled with a relatively generous public employment and remuneration system: both financed with borrowing.
 
The plan for Greece – both its harsh form demanded by private lenders and the EU’s less harsh substitute loan – have one goal: reduce the risk of Greek default. They do not want default hanging dangerously over Europe and spreading from Greece. Imposing austerity on Greece aims to remove the risk of defaults renewing crisis as lenders collapse again.
 
Greek workers are fighting back against an austerity aimed with mounting general strikes. While initially defensive, such actions might evolve into more basic challenges of capitalism itself.
 
(IS):What should we expect of the G-20 meetings in Toronto which have, as one of the important topics in agenda. the restructuring of the world financial system? Will we see something similar to the Bretton Woods Agreement in terms of the dominant role of the US in such proceedings?
 
(RW):In Toronto, capitalism’s leaders rediscovered Marx’s insight that capitalism is caught in a contradiction: capitalists constantly aim to lower the wages only to discover that workers can then not buy what capitalists need to sell. Thus Obama worried that austerity would reduce what workers and governments buy. Would that not hurt rather that help efforts to emerge from recession? Europe’s leaders simply repeated the “need” to impose austerity given what horrors defaults might unleash. Europeans, Americans, Japan, the BRIC – all experience the uneven global capitalist crisis differently. Each seeks to emerge from it in better shape than the others. The relative decline of the US excites many other capitalist countries even as they fear being destroyed by it.
 
(IS):What is your take on those that say that China and India will dethrone the US in terms of global hegemony?
 
(RW):At this point, that is pure speculation provoked by the much more rapid rates of growth of both Asian economies over the last 20 years when compared to that of the US. However, both economies remain much poorer than the US, and more dependent on the US as an export market than the US is dependent on them in any way. The recent economic development of both India and China has been extremely uneven. A relatively small part of those societies has gotten much richer while huge populations - in India even more than in China – remain outside the zones of rapid development. This has been typical for economic development paths of both private capitalism (private shareholders select private corporate boards of directors who employ workers and distribute their surpluses) and state capitalism (state apparatuses select state officials who employ workers and distribute their surpluses). No one can predict how the class struggles inside all three nations will evolve and interact with the complex interdependencies and competitions within and among them. The current global capitalist crisis has impacted them in different ways as each scrambles to minimize the damage and gain advantages vis-à-vis the others.
 
The long history of capitalism has repeatedly included wars – including world wars of unprecedented savagery – resulting from the internal class and other contradictions and national competitions among nations. Neither China nor India can contest the US hegemony militarily, nor will that change quickly. While US hegemony economically and politically is declining relative to its position in the last half of the 20th century, it is premature to declare whether that decline will continue, what forms that decline would take, how the US might deploy its military and continuing wealth advantages, and how India and China will manage their own internal contradictions and external relations.
 
Ian J. Seda-Irizarry is a graduate student at the Department of Economics of UMass at Amherst, where he has also taught courses on International Economy, Introductory Macroeconomics and Intermediate Microeconomics. His research interests include the class analysis of cultural production, the relation of nationalism, imperialism and marxism in understanding colonial Puerto Rico, building workplace democracy, and theories of value and price. He contributes essays of economic analysis for the weekly newspaper Claridad (internet version available atwww.claridadpuertorico.com) and is co-editor of the bi-monthly internet Latin music magazine Herencia Latina(www.herencialatina.com). He is also a member of http://losexpatriados.blogspot.com/, a site dedicated to political and economic analysis of topics related to Puerto Rico. Finally, he is a staff economist at the Center for Popular Economics and a member of the Association for Economic and Social Analysis.