In an attempt to reverse rampant extreme poverty and severe economic inequities, the Swiss populace is now demanding a vote to implement a Basic Income for all of its citizens. These proposed economic reforms would mandate $2500 francs monthly for every adult; regardless if they are rich or poor, all people would be treated equally.
Last year at the Slow Money Gathering in San Francisco, I was really impressed with a presentation that I heard from one of the founders of Stockbox Neighborhood Grocery in Washington. Her idea was simple and innovative — retrofit shipping containers to sell healthy food and produce in underserved neighborhoods. The easily portable container could be placed in industrial areas and regions where food deserts now prevail, instantly providing better access to fresh groceries.
One of the most significant books published this year is Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, a gripping graphic novel reportage mix which skillfully exposes the extreme exploitation and poverty that flourishes on the disenfranchised burned out edges of our nation. This brutal compelling work is a collaboration between Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, and the revolutionary cartoonist and foreign correspondent, Joe Sacco.
Jon Stewart spoke with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz about how the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a few plutocrats is destroying the very principles upon which our country was founded:
“It seems like people are not angry at wealth or success, they get frustrated by what appears to be an entirely different set of rules put in place by the wealthy, who then say: ‘Hey man, I’m just playing by the rules’, as though those rules were an arbitrary design of the free market.”
A new report has been published which compiles detailed information about the enormous amount of money that is being hidden by billionaires in offshore accounts. The research, The Price of Offshore Revisited, shows that over 21 trillion dollars, more than the total combined GDPs of both the United States and Japan, are being sequestered out of sight into the legally murky offshore economy. The super elite are using every available resource to exploit loopholes in cross-border tax rules to avoid paying their fair share.
As our nation’s economy continues to flounder, an increasing number of municipalities are incarcerating people who can not afford to pay for tickets and misdemeanor fines. Some regions have turned over government services, such as probation, to private for-profit companies. Their court systems are attempting to raise income by imprisoning the most vulnerable — trying to balance their budgets on the backs of the poorest and most disenfranchised people in our society.
Imagine a world where money does not exist; it’s not difficult, if you try. Money itself is useless — you can not eat a twenty-dollar bill sandwich, or live in a house constructed entirely of silver dollars — all that we need are the things that money can buy for us. Now is the time to re-imagine how our lives would look without wages, debt, interest or any form of money.
The United States is becoming an increasingly severely stratified plutocracy. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities just released a new study proving that the richest 1% are continuing to amass greater and greater amounts of wealth, while the rest of the population is still struggling financially.
The highly esteemed economist, Robert Reich, clearly explains what some of our country’s largest financial system problems are, offers a clear plan with well defined policy solutions, and presents this concise message to President Obama:
“We’ll give you a mandate in your second term to raise taxes on the rich, including capital gains taxes, and put a tax on financial transactions, also, resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, limit the size of big banks, and force them to modify the loans of millions of Americans who are now underwater; and invest in public schools and other infrastructure so that all Americans can prosper in this new economy.”
“If I am a spokesman for all the people who think that we should not have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full time job, that we should not have 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick; that we shouldn’t have 47 million people in this country who need government help in order to feed themselves, and we shouldn’t have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, okay, I’ll be that spokesman.”
The British Guardian has just published a fascinating interactive map which plots out where violence has taken place in the last week, in relation to the regions in England where poverty and unemployment are the most severe. Data journalist Matt Stiles took the newspaper’s data on economic poverty, and all the information available about the recent riot incidents, and overlaid the two together. The darker red colors represent poorer neighborhoods, while the blue areas highlight the richer regions. A correlation does not equal a causation, but this data map is definitely a wake up call.
More people in the United States are using food stamps now than ever before in the history of our nation — 41.8 million Americans are currently getting food aid. The Department of Agriculture just released updated national participation numbers for food assistance programs, which show that the amount of food stamp recipients has jumped 18% from last year, and has increased 1.4% just since June. Although this ignoble new record is not really so very surprising; our nation’s dire economic situation has caused the number of families in need of food assistance to set new records for each of the last 20 months straight.
It is difficult to comprehend just how rich the plutocracy in the United States has now become. The distribution of wealth and resources in this nation is even more extreme and inequitable than what we are all earning for our wages (if you are fortunate enough to actually even have a job). According to new research released by the Economic Policy Institute,”The State of Working America’s Wealth”, the volatility and turmoil in our economy continues to increase, as the massive chasm between the grotesquely rich and everyone else grows even more immense.
According to the US Census Bureau, more than one in seven Americans is now living in poverty; the level of working-age poor is now the highest that it has ever been in the 51 years that records have been kept by the United States government. From 2008 to 2009, the number of people who were living in poverty increased to nearly 44 million. The bureau defines poverty as any family of four living on less than $21,954 a year. Each…