Progressive Calendar 07.08.14 /3
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2014 01:07:47 -0700 (PDT)

1. Vs US aid to Israel 7.08  4:30pm

2. Lynn Stuart Parramore          - Seven weird things money does to your
3. Ann Robertson & Bill Leumer - Does capitalismi Inevitably produce
4. ed -*                                     - In the beginning, God
created the rich*

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Vs US aid to Israel 7.08  4:30pm

From: WAMM
Emergency Protest: Collective punishment is a crime! Stop US aid to Israel,
solidarity with Palestine!
Tuesday, July 8th at 4:30pm
Outside Senator Klobuchar's office, 1200 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis

Palestinians are facing the largest campaign of collective punishment seen
since the Second Intifada. This campaign of intimidation, destruction, and
violence comes in response to the disappearance of 3 Israeli settler youth
near Hebron on June 12th, and the discovery of their bodies on June 30th.
At least 12 have been killed and many more have been injured.

More than 500 Palestinians have been detained and initial reports suggest
that many of those arrested are held under administrative detention, a form
of detention without charge or trial on secret evidence. The number of
children held in Israeli jails has risen to 250. Israel has also imposed
severe restrictions of movement. Hundreds of military raids have been
launched across the occupied West Bank since June 12, with more than 1000
private homes and refugee camps and the offices of civil society
organisations ransacked. Israeli warplanes have launched 11 airstrikes
using 44 missiles on the Gaza strip targeting agricultural stores
(targeting Gazans already sparse food supply).

Instead of continuing to support Israel, the US should pressure Israel to
end this campaign of collective punishment, acknowledging the war crime
that it is.

Organized by the Anti-War Committee. RSVP or Share via Facebook

Jewish Voices for Peace have a statement of concern

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*[A test-based indictment of capitalism - ed*]

Seven Weird Things Money Does to Your Brain
By Lynn Stuart Parramore,AlterNet | Report
Monday 07 July 2014 10:11

Money is packed with meaning, and it impacts our personalities, our
relationships, and how we think.  As you might imagine, a lot of stuff is
going on in our brains when we think about money, and some of it is
surprising. Researchers in the emerging field of neuroeconomics are drawing
on psychology, neuroscience, and economics to give us picture of the human
brain on money. Let’s take a look.

Seven Weird Things Money Does to Your Brain

*1. Money kills empathy.*

According to research, money actually reduces empathy and compassion. One
of the key ways humans feel empathy is through reading the facial
expressions of other humans. Seeing that someone has a sad face triggers
you to feel sad, too. But if you’re rich, not so much. Michael Kraus, the
co-author of a study discussed in Time, told the magazine that people with
fewer economic resources are conditioned to respond to numerous
vulnerabilities and threats, which means they have to be more attuned to
social cues. “You really need to depend on others so they will tell you if
a social threat or opportunity is coming and that makes you more perceptive
of emotions.” Rich people can just sail along without worrying about so
many threats, so they tend to ignore how others feel.

Money also makes people behave more aggressively towards others. Even fake
money can do it: in a UC Berkeley study, researchers watched two students
playing Monopoly, one with much more Monopoly money than the other. At
first, the inequality seemed to make the richer student uncomfortable, but
soon enough the student with more money got aggressive, smacking his pieces
around and taunting the impoverished player. Paul Piff and his fellow
psychologists have consistently found that high socio­economic status and
interpersonal disregard are closely linked. So much for noblesse oblige.

*2. Losing money hurts, literally.*

The loss of money is known to share a similar psychological and
physiological system with physical pain. Researchers have found that money
is actually a pain buffer. In one experiment, participants were asked to
rate their response to hot water after counting money. The more money
counted, the less pain felt. On the other hand, people who had recently
lost money rated the hot water as more painful.  Research also reveals that
the anticipation of pain heightens the desire for money.

People also hate losing money more than they love making it. Psychologist
and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman has suggested this aversion to loss may
have evolutionary roots. For the primitive human, threats or losses were a
higher priority than opportunities, because an opportunity might come
again, but a threat could be your last.

3. *More money, fewer ethics.*

Just thinking about money can cause you to behave unethically. Researchers
from Harvard and the University of Utah found that people were more likely
to lie and make immoral decisions after being exposed to money-related
words. The mere exposure to the concept of money set off a “business
decision frame” in study participants, causing them to think narrowly in
terms of cost-benefit calculations and further their own interests without
giving a damn about moral niceities.

Money makes you dangerous, too. Researchers at Berkeley observed crosswalks
in San Francisco and found that people driving luxury cars were three times
less likely than those in more modest vehicles to give the right of way to
pedestrians, and they were four times more likely to cut off other drivers.

4. *The more money you make, the more you think about money.*

Conventional wisdom holds that the more of something we have, the less
important it’s supposed to be to us, but that’s not true with money.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford
Graduate School of Business, found in his research that the more money
people are paid for each hour of work, the more important that money
becomes. And because money paid for work becomes strongly connected to
people’s feelings of self-esteem and self worth, it can never be enough.
The more we get, the more we need, and the more we focus on it.

This paradoxical experience was summed up by Daniel Vasella, the former CEO
of Swiss pharmaceutical behemoth Novartis AG: “The strange part is, the
more I made, the more I got preoccupied with money,” he told Fortune. “When
suddenly I didn’t have to think about money as much, I found myself
starting to think increasingly about it.”

Pfeffer is pretty straightforward on what he thinks we could do about
skyrocketing executive compensation and its destructive social and
psychological effects: “We would do what we have done with other addictive
substances — tax it. That’s what public policy has done in the past to
restrict the use of legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine — we tax them.”
Good idea!

5. *Men with a lot of testosterone do weird things with money.*

Neoclassical economists have often argued that people will naturally seek
financial gain, no matter how small, and will do so in a rational manner.
But psychologists have found otherwise. The Economist magazine describes an
ultimatum game in which one player divides a pot of money between himself
and another. The second player then chooses whether to accept the offer. If
he rejects it, neither player benefits. Curiously, a low offer is usually
rejected, despite the fact that rejecting the offer means that the players
will get zilch.

Terence Burnham of Harvard University observed male players and compared
their testosterone levels using saliva samples. Turns out that the ones who
refused a stingy final offer had an average testosterone level more than 50
percent higher than the average of those who took it. The reason appears to
be that the high testosterone people would rather accept less themselves
than see a rival get ahead. They seem to be programmed to seek social
dominance, and they will behave irrationally trying to get it.

*Your brain treats credit differently from cash.*
Marketers know that we spend more with credit cards than we do with cash —
12 to 18 percent more, according to a Dun & Bradstreet study.

That’s because our brains feel like the money associated with plastic is an
issue for the future rather than the present. Reward cards trick us even
further, making us feel that in addition to not really spending money
today, we’re getting stuff back through miles, points, and whatnot, which
induces us to spend still more.

The idea of putting off consequences, which is linked to plastic cards, is
so strong that it carries over into other decisions. A 2013 study in the
journal Obesity found that children who pay for school lunches with credit
or debit cards buy less healthy foods, like desserts over fruits, compared
to those paying with cash.

7. *The wealthy are perceived as evil-doers.*

Americans are supposed to worship the wealthy, but according to research
presented in Scientifc American, most of us would be glad to see them
suffer. Studies show that lower-income people dislike and distrust rich
people, so much so that we get a kick out of their struggles. University of
Pennsylvania research revealed that most people tend to associate perceived
profits with perceived social harm — and according to research mentioned
above, they are very well-justified in this perception.

When participants in the U Penn study were asked to rate various real and
made-up companies and industries, both liberals and conservative
participants ranked institutions thought to have higher profits with more
evil and wrong-doing across the board, regardless of the company or
industry's actions in reality.

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When Profits Trump Logic
*Does Capitalism Inevitably Produce Inequalities?*
Ann Robertson & Bill Leumer

In a recent New York Times op-ed article, Nobel Prize-winning economist
Joseph Stiglitz theorized that capitalism does not inevitably produce
inequalities in wealth. Instead, he argued, today’s inequalities result
from policy decisions made by politicians on all sorts of matters that
affect people’s income: the tax structure that favors the rich, the bailout
of the banks during the Great Recession, subsidies for rich farmers,
cutting of food stamps, etc. In fact, he concluded, today there are no
“truly fundamental laws of capitalism.” Thanks to democracy, people can
steer the economy in a variety of directions and no single outcome is

In their 2010 book, “Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich
Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class
<>,” Yale
Professor Jacob Hacker and U.C. Berkeley Professor Paul Pierson would seem
to add additional support to Stiglitz’s conclusion. As reported by Bob
Herbert in The New York Times, they argued that “the economic struggles of
the middle and working classes in the U.S. since the late-1970s were not
primarily the result of globalization and technological changes but rather
a long series of policy changes in government that overwhelmingly favored
the rich.”

Although there is certainly significant substance to Stiglitz’s argument –
policy decisions can have profound impacts on economic outcomes –
nevertheless capitalism is far more responsible for economic inequality
because of its inherent nature and its extended reach in the area of policy
decisions than Stiglitz is willing to concede.

To begin with, in capitalist society it is much easier to make money if you
already have money, and much more difficult if you are poor. So, for
example, a rich person can buy up a number of foreclosed houses and rent
them out to desperate tenants at ridiculously high rates. Then, each time
rent is paid, the landlord becomes richer and the tenant becomes poorer,
and inequalities in wealth grow.

More importantly, at the very heart of capitalism lies an incentive that
leads to the increase of inequalities. Capitalism is based on the principle
of competition, and businesses must compete with one another in order to
survive. Each company, therefore, strives to maximize its profits in order
to achieve a competitive advantage. For example, they can use extra profits
to offset lowering the price of their product, undersell their opponents,
and push them out of the market.

But in order to maximize profits, businesses must keep productive costs to
a minimum. And a major portion of productive costs includes labor.
Consequently, as a general rule, in order for a business to survive, it
must push labor costs to a minimum. And that is why, of course, so many
businesses migrate from the U.S. and relocate in countries like China, Viet
Nam, Mexico, and Bangladesh where wages are a mere pittance.

This inherent tendency to maximize profits while minimizing the cost of
labor directly results in growing inequalities. Stiglitz himself mentions
that C.E.O’s today “enjoy incomes that are on average 295 times that of the
typical worker, a much higher ratio than in the past.” In fact, in 1970,
the ratio was roughly 40 times. C.E.O.s who succeed in suppressing wages
are routinely rewarded for their efforts. Hence, not only is there an
incentive to keep wages low for the survival of the business, there is a
personal incentive in play as well.

While Stiglitz is correct in arguing that politicians can influence
economic outcomes by policy decisions, what he fails to acknowledge is that
these policy decisions themselves are heavily influenced by the economic
relations established by capitalism. There is no firewall between the
economy and politics. Those who have acquired money from the economic
sector can then put this money to work in the political sector by lobbying
and showering politicians with campaign contributions. Although politicians
religiously deny that these contributions have any influence on their
decisions, it is inconceivable that businesses – always obsessed with their
“bottom line” – would continue these contributions without a “return on
their investment.”

Study after study has confirmed the influence of money on political
decisions. The San Francisco Chronicle reported, for example: “In a state
with nearly 38 million people, few have more influence than the top 100
donors to California campaigns – a powerful club that has contributed
overwhelmingly to Democrats and spent $1.25 billion to influence voters
over the past dozen years. These big spenders represent a tiny fraction of
the hundreds of thousands of individuals and groups that donated to
California campaigns from 2001 through 2011. But they supplied about
one-third of the $3.67 billion given to state campaigns during that time,
campaign records show. With a few exceptions, these campaign elites have
gotten their money’s worth, according to California Watch’s analysis of
campaign data from state finance records and the nonpartisan National
Institute on Money in State Politics, which tracks the influence of
campaign money on state elections.”

Even beyond campaign contributions, political decisions are not crafted in
a vacuum, remote from capitalism. Capitalism is a way of life, and for that
reason it generates its own peculiar culture and world view that envelopes
every other social sphere, a culture that includes competition,
individualism, materialism in the form of consumerism, operating in one’s
self-interest without consideration for the needs of others, and so on.
This culture infects everyone to one degree or another; it is like an ether
that all those in its proximity inhale. It encourages people to evaluate
one another according to their degree of wealth and power. It rewards those
who doggedly pursue their narrow self-interests at the expense of others.

The culture of capitalism, because of its hyper individualism, also
produces an extraordinarily narrow vision of the world. Viewing the world
from an isolated standpoint, individuals tend to assume that they are
self-made persons, not the products of their surrounding culture and social
relations. So the rich assume that their wealth has been acquired through
their personal talents alone, while they see those mired in poverty as
lacking the ambition and willingness to work hard. People are unable to see
the complexities underlying human behavior because of the atomization of
social life. But the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and anthropology
all concur that individuals are overwhelmingly a product of their social
environment to their very core.

In 1947, for example, the American Anthropological Association argued in
its Statement on Human Rights: “If we begin, as we must, with the
individual, we find that from the moment of his birth not only his
behavior, but his very thought, his hopes, aspirations, the moral values
which direct his action and justify and give meaning to his life in his own
eyes and those of his fellow, are shaped by the body of custom of the group
of which he becomes a member.”

It is in this more subtle way that capitalism induces growing income
inequalities. Because of their intensely competitive environment,
politicians are more vulnerable to this capitalist culture than most.
Capitalist culture engenders a mindset among politicians that leads them to
craft public policies in favor of the good people, the rich and powerful,
and turn their backs on the poor or punish them with mass incarceration.
 They think it entirely natural to accept money from the wealthy in order
to fund their re-election campaigns. And the more the inequalities in
wealth grow, the more this mindset blinds politicians to the destructive
implications of these “natural” decisions.

In 2011, Stiglitz wrote a compelling article, “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for
the 1%,” in which he argued forcefully that large inequalities in wealth
are in no one’s interest. But since then the politicians have continued to
accept campaign contributions from the rich, socialize with them, and do
their bidding. They ritually denounce the shamelessly low taxes on the 1%,
but have done nothing to alter them. The culture of capitalism trumps
logical arguments, and thus the inequalities in wealth continue to expand.
Capitalism has an iron grip on the political process.

Stiglitz concluded his article with this prophetic statement: “The top 1
percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and
the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have
bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99
percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent
eventually do learn. Too late.”

While Stiglitz’s arguments have had no impact on growing inequalities,
thanks to the power of capitalism, nevertheless capitalism gets credit for
producing the one force that can put a stop to these destructive trends:
the working class. As Karl Marx argued, capitalism produces its own
“gravediggers.” In the 1930s workers massively organized unions and fought
militant battles to defend their right to unionize and their right to fair
compensation. These unions, which Stiglitz fails to mention, played a
decisive role in reining in inequalities and unleashing a period in which
the ranks of “the middle class” grew.

As Marx noted in his “Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of
“The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the
weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory
also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.”

Stiglitz’s criticisms of growing inequality will have little impact on
policy decisions until they are embraced by the masses, the working class,
those that capitalism cruelly exploits and who are so easily dismissed by
politicians and academics. At that point the working class will finally
stand up and collectively declare enough is enough.

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*In the beginning, God created the rich.And the rich looked around and
said,Hey, God, where the hell is the worldwith all the resources for usto
exploit?So God got busy and did the world thingwith oil and timber and coal
for the richto pump up, cut down, or dig upfor profit.*

*And the rich looked around and said,*

*Hey, God, this is all well and good,but, where the hell are the poor
peopleto do the pumping and digging and cutting?You don't expect US to do
it, do you?Back to the drawing board, and be quickabout it!So God got busy
again and did theslave serf employee poor people bit,so the rich could be
richwithout working.*

*And the rich looked around and said,Hey, God, good job. Except,that
conscience thingy you gave usmakes us feel badtreating the poor like
dirt.What can you doabout that?*

*So God got busy again and expungedfrom the rich their
consciences,scruples, sympathy, andmoral senses.*

*nd the rich looked around,felt ecstatically wonderful getting rich
bygrinding the faces of the poor, and said,Hey, God, thanks a bunch; now
gof*** yourself!And so God got busy againdoing just that,*

*or disobeying the richin thought word or deedis heresy and blasphemy.*



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