|Progressive Calendar 07.08.14 /3||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2014 01:07:47 -0700 (PDT)|
PROGRESSIVE CALENDAR 07.08.14 1. Vs US aid to Israel 7.08 4:30pm 2. Lynn Stuart Parramore - Seven weird things money does to your brain 3. Ann Robertson & Bill Leumer - Does capitalismi Inevitably produce inequalities? 4. ed -* - In the beginning, God created the rich* -------1 of 4-------- 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 <http://www.facebook.com/events/1556055664621872/> Jewish Voices for Peace have a statement of concern <http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/blog/jvps-statement-of-concern>worth reading. --------2 of 4------- *[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. 6. *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. --------3 of 4-------- When Profits Trump Logic *Does Capitalism Inevitably Produce Inequalities?* Ann Robertson & Bill Leumer CounterPunch 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 inevitable. In their 2010 book, “Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1416588701/counterpunchmaga>,” 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 Right <https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/critique-hpr/intro.htm>,” “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. --------4 of 4------- *IN THE BEGINNING* *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.* A *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,* *f* *or disobeying the richin thought word or deedis heresy and blasphemy.* -ed --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shove Trove
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