All posts tagged: capitalism

We can haz society? Taxes, democracy & the Panama Papers

What do you need to know about the Panama Papers? Let’s see, people who are richer than most of us can even imagine have an elaborate system to hide the trillions of dollars that we would need to tax if we wanted to, say, maintain our basic infrastructure (e.g., bridges, schools) and, you know, hopefully keep the whole society thing going for a little while longer. That’s on the macro level. On the micro level, we need to know exactly who each of these selfish hoarders is so that we can shame them and demand their resignation from public office. (Iceland’s Prime Minister has already stepped down… let’s see who’s next.) But the Panama Papers are the tip of the iceberg. What you need to know is that rich people tend to want to pay less taxes. Who can blame them? Well, most of us can blame them, actually. And some wealthy people are perfectly happy to pay their fair share in taxes, as they should. In today’s economy, wealth aggregates in the most arbitrary …

‘Awkward’ socialists tarnishing the Democratic Party’s big business-loving brand

Today in a Politico article titled “The Socialist Surge” Ben Schreckinger and Jonathan Topaz discuss how uncomfortable it is for the Democratic Party to have a self-identified socialist Presidential candidate—Bernie Sanders—picking up so much steam among the Democratic Party base. The sub-header reads: “The rise of Bernie Sanders is proving awkward for the Democratic Party.” You know what might be even more ‘awkward’ for the Democratic Party than the idea that many of their base voters would vote for an open socialist? How about the reality that most Democratic Party politicians holding national office owe their political careers to their cowering before Wall Street and big business—as the latter wrecked the economy and consolidated their stranglehold over the American political system—all while claiming to represent and fight for the ‘middle class’? Yeah. That’s some serious awkward there. Go, Bernie, go. #Bernie2016

It’s not every day that Grover Norquist accuses me of writing ‘foolish things’

It’s not every day that I have the honor of being accused of writing “foolish things” by the “great tax reformer” Grover Norquist. After reading Kevin Drum’s account of Louisiana Republicans’ exacerbation with Norquist, I Tweeted my own exacerbation. To my surprise, Mr. Norquist took at least a few seconds to break from his busy agenda of bankrupting America to explain himself. @jonathansmucker @MattBruenig @ebruenig @kdrum Simple. I don’t write foolish things like “we can do better than freedom” — Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) June 9, 2015 To whom was he referring? Who would say such a foolish thing, I wondered? “We can do better than freedom?” What an absurd argument to make! And then I suddenly realized that it was me! He was referring to my Twitter profile, which leads with the sentence “We can do better than capitalism.” Easy mistake to make. I gently corrected him. .@GroverNorquist I wrote “We can do better than capitalism”—but I totally see how elites like you might get freedom and capitalism confused. — Jonathan M Smucker (@jonathansmucker) June 9, 2015 …

The Problem of Collective Action in the United States

Picking up from yesterday’s post, the central problem I have attempted to apprehend from so many angles has to do with political behavior — especially collective action in the context of the United States over the past 50 or so years. How and why do people act together collectively to advance or defend their common interests? How and why do people not act together for the same — or even resist collective action that would seem to benefit them? In my estimation, social movements in the United States do not presently have anywhere close to the capacity needed to mount sustained challenges to the entrenched power structures we are up against, at least when it comes to issues for which change would threaten the current economic order (e.g. progressive taxation, public education, public health care, cutting military spending, public elections, corporate personhood, financial regulation, global warming, and so on). Thus, Occupy Wall Street has been something of a beacon of hope to many. But momentarily seizing the national narrative didn’t send the bankers and Wall …