In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and religion, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

From Jesus’ socialism to capitalistic Christianity

Here is what is peculiar. Many conservative Christians, mostly Protestant but also a number of Catholics, have come to believe and proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated, union busting, minimal taxes especially for wealthy investors, plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations. And many of these Christian capitalists are ardent followers of Ayn Rand, who was one of - and many of whose followers are — the most hard-line anti-Christian atheist/s you can get. Meanwhile many Christians who support the capitalist policies associated with social Darwinistic strenuously denounce Darwin’s evolutionary science because it supposedly leads to, well, social Darwinism!

Meanwhile atheists, secularists and evolutionist are denounced as inventing the egalitarian evils of anti-socially Darwinistic socialism and communism. It’s such a weird stew of incongruities that it sets one’s head spinning. Social researchers like myself ask, how did these internal conflict come about? And why are not liberals and progressives doing the logical thing and taking full advantage of the inconsistencies of right wing libertarianism by loudly exposing the contradictions?

Everything we feared about communism - that we would lose our houses and savings and be forced to labor eternally for meager wages with no voice in the system - has come true under capitalism.

Jeff Sparrow (via lavenderlabia)

ooop

(via darkjez)

(Source: anticapitalist)

Way To Go America!

goodreasonnews:

lawborn:

     In one fell swoop marijuana is legalized and the Twinkie is destroyed.

BRAVO!!!  

Well done!

Glad to see Americans have their priorities straightened out.

It only cost 18,500 jobs………..

Those people can’t support their families but, at least the potheads of the nation will be happy.

And how many jobs do you think would be created, from agricultural to manufacturing to packaging to distribution to advertising to delivery to property rentals to retail, do you think would be created if marijuana prohibition were lifted? By the way, the use of marijuana hasn’t been directly linked to disease and death, yet Twinkies are completely without benefit and only cause detriment to the human body including contributing to the nation’s number one health problem: Diabetes.

Your terminology, “pothead,” suggests addiction, but while marijuana has never been shown to be addictive, much more dangerous substances like alcohol or high fructose corn syrup have been shown to be addictive and dangerous. Save your fucking crocodile tears for Hostess, a company that manufactured quick fixes at the expensive of people’s health. Part of the reason they’re tanking is because trends in consumer habits have changed, in other words, people are getting wise to the poisons company’s like Hostess sell and they aren’t buying at the rates Hostess wants.

That’s a good thing. It’s good they went out of business, it shows capitalism works. When people are shown a product is harmful, they avoid it. It’s why cigarette sales are down among youth for, like, the 10th straight year and I hope everyone of those motherfuckers in the tobacco industry lose their jobs too. I’d love to see Philip Morris go out of business. Jobs are not the be-all-end-all. In this country, we take care of people, we protect our communities and that means exposing the truth behind fucked up and harmful institutions like the tobacco industry, the processed sugar pushers and the Catholic Church.

But that’s a post for another time.

Hey, lawborn…


you got knocked the fuck out!

Henry Ford and “The Virtuous Circle of Growth”: When Capitalists Cared

By Hendrick Smith

IN the rancorous debate over how to get the sluggish economy moving, we have forgotten the wisdom of Henry Ford. In 1914, not long after the Ford Motor Company came out with the Model T, Ford made the startling announcement that he would pay his workers the unheard-of wage of $5 a day.

Not only was it a matter of social justice, Ford wrote, but paying high wages was also smart business. When wages are low, uncertainty dogs the marketplace and growth is weak. But when pay is high and steady, Ford asserted, business is more secure because workers earn enough to become good customers. They can afford to buy Model Ts.

This is not to suggest that Ford single-handedly created the American middle class. But he was one of the first business leaders to articulate what economists call “the virtuous circle of growth”: well-paid workers generating consumer demand that in turn promotes business expansion and hiring. Other executives bought his logic, and just as important, strong unions fought for rising pay and good benefits in contracts like the 1950 “Treaty of Detroit” between General Motors and the United Auto Workers.

Riding the dynamics of the virtuous circle, America enjoyed its best period of sustained growth in the decades after World War II, from 1945 to 1973, even though income tax rates were far higher than today. It created not only unprecedented middle-class prosperity but also far greater economic equality than today.

The chief executives of the long postwar boom believed that business success and workers’ well-being ran in tandem.

Frank W. Abrams, chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey, voiced the corporate mantra of “stakeholder capitalism”: the need to balance the interests of all the stakeholders in the corporate family. “The job of management,” he wrote, “is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly affected interest groups,” which he defined as “stockholders, employees, customers and the public at large.”

Earl S. Willis, a manager of employee benefits at General Electric, declared that “the employee who can plan his economic future with reasonable certainty is an employer’s most productive asset.”

From 1948 to 1973, the productivity of all nonfarm workers nearly doubled, as did average hourly compensation. But things changed dramatically starting in the late 1970s. Although productivity increased by 80.1 percent from 1973 to 2011, average wages rose only 4.2 percent and hourly compensation (wages plus benefits) rose only 10 percent over that time, according to government data analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute.

At the same time, corporate profits were booming. In 2006, the year before the Great Recession began, corporate profits garnered the largest share of national income since 1942, while the share going to wages and salaries sank to the lowest level since 1929. In the recession’s aftermath, corporate profits have bounced back while middle-class incomes have stagnated.

Today the prevailing cut-to-the-bone business ethos means that a company like Caterpillar demands a wage freeze and lower health benefits from its workers, while posting record profits.

Globalization, including the rise of Asia, and technological innovation can’t explain all or even most of today’s gaping inequality; if they did, we would see in other advanced economies the same hyperconcentration of wealth and the same stagnation of middle-class wages as in the United States. But we don’t.

In Germany, still a manufacturing and export powerhouse, average hourly pay has risen five times faster since 1985 than in the United States. The secret of Germany’s success, says Klaus Kleinfeld, who ran the German electrical giant Siemens before taking over the American aluminum company Alcoa in 2008, is “the social contract: the willingness of business, labor and political leaders to put aside some of their differences and make agreements in the national interests.”

In short, German leaders have practiced stakeholder capitalism and followed the century-old wisdom of Henry Ford, while American business and political leaders have dismantled the dynamics of the “virtuous circle” in pursuit of downsizing, offshoring and short-term profit and big dividends for their investors.

Today, we are all paying the price for this shift. As Ford recognized, if average Americans do not have secure jobs with steady and rising pay, the economy will be sluggish. Since the early 1990s, we have been mired three times in “jobless recoveries.” It’s time for America’s business elites to step beyond political rhetoric about protecting wealthy “job creators” and grasp Ford’s insight: Give the middle class a better share of the nation’s economic gains, and the economy will grow faster. Our history shows that.

underthemountainbunker:

David Stockman: Mitt Romney learned nothing about creating jobs from Bain Capital — Former Reagan Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman stepped all over Romney’s claims that his experience in the leveraged buyout business taught him anything at all about “job creation.”  […] STOCKMAN: Well, I don’t know. I think the current federal model is a disaster. We know where we are on the debt. We’re going to have a debt ceiling that expires in December and I don’t know where the votes are going to come to increase it… On the other hand, I don’t think Mitt Romney can legitimately say that he learned anything about how to create jobs in the LBO business. The LBO business is about how to strip cash out of old, long-in-the-tooth companies and how to make short-term profits. […] You know, the LBO business is legitimate, free enterprise business, just like, you know, running a brothel if that’s what you want to do, or a house of gambling. […] But it’s not a good model for how we rebuild an economy or grow jobs. It’s irrelevant. —Crooks & Liars

underthemountainbunker:

David Stockman: Mitt Romney learned nothing about creating jobs from Bain Capital — Former Reagan Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman stepped all over Romney’s claims that his experience in the leveraged buyout business taught him anything at all about “job creation.”  […] STOCKMAN: Well, I don’t know. I think the current federal model is a disaster. We know where we are on the debt. We’re going to have a debt ceiling that expires in December and I don’t know where the votes are going to come to increase it… On the other hand, I don’t think Mitt Romney can legitimately say that he learned anything about how to create jobs in the LBO business. The LBO business is about how to strip cash out of old, long-in-the-tooth companies and how to make short-term profits. […] You know, the LBO business is legitimate, free enterprise business, just like, you know, running a brothel if that’s what you want to do, or a house of gambling. […] But it’s not a good model for how we rebuild an economy or grow jobs. It’s irrelevant. —Crooks & Liars

A conservative blogger says something I agree with - Andrew Sullivan: The Great Healthcare Rip-Off

abaldwin360:

By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

Brian Fung backs up my musing that “the healthcare industry keeps on raising prices because, well, it can.” His bottom line:

We usually think of insurers as the major villain in American healthcare, since much of the debate in the last few years has revolved around expanding coverage and ending discrimination. But it’s also the case that healthcare providers wield an inordinate amount of power. In some cases, the providers become so powerful they can push the insurance companies around…why those providers found it so easy to jack up their rates is another question. The answer appears to be that nobody’s around to stop them.

This isn’t capitalism. It’s rentier theft, using the power that doctors and hospitals have over patients to rip them off. And when the result of that is a massive distortion of the economy and a bankrupting of the federal government, it seems to me that government should step in. I’m beginning to wonder if, in the case of healthcare, the only way to advance fiscal conservatism is through a much more socialized medical system. When I first entered this debate, single-payer seemed the worst option to me. But the more I have understood, the saner it appears. If the free market cannot work in healthcare - and it has failed spectacularly in this country to provide even a semblance of value-for-money - then it may be time to grasp the nettle.

source

It is astounding how significantly one idea can shape a society and its policies. Consider this one.

If taxes on the rich go up, job creation will go down.

This idea is an article of faith for Republicans and seldom challenged by Democrats and has shaped much of today’s economic landscape.

But sometimes the ideas that we know to be true are dead wrong. For thousands of years people were sure that earth was at the center of the universe. It’s not, and an astronomer who still believed that it was, would do some lousy astronomy.

In the same way, a policy maker who believed that the rich and businesses are “job creators” and therefore should not be taxed, would make equally bad policy.

I have started or helped start, dozens of businesses and initially hired lots of people. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would all have failed and all those jobs would have evaporated.

That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.

ryking:

Obama campaign’s new ad paints Romney as a job-killing, economic “vampire”

RomneyEconomics.com, learn how you can make tons of money loading companies w/ debt and liquidating jobs. See how Mitt Romney’s business experience has prepared him for power. The theme I see shaping up is “community dismantler vs. community organizer”.

For the past fifteen years, the records of Western capitalism have been debased, leaving governments without the facts to spot what needs to be fixed and for businesses to know what their risks are. To regain its vitality, Western capitalism must bring under the rule of law and public memory hundreds of trillions of dollars now swirling mindlessly out of control in the obscure world of financial innovation. That task requires major political leadership.