Universities have become increasingly commodified: universities in the UK charge students tuition fees, and we in Sweden have begun to charge international students tuition fees, things that have been done in my own country, the United States, for a number of years. Commodification was, for a long period, seen as anathema to higher education in Europe, but, as time as gone by, we have seen the increasing commodification of university life. In the same way, departments that are considered to be “unprofitable” – in other words, they do not have large numbers of students, or do not produce “cutting edge” research that attracts the interest of outside financers – simply begin to disappear. Language departments, and niche intellectual areas of inquiry struggle financially, and are therefore not “of value” to universities.
The pope's screed on "the economy of exclusion and inequality" will disappoint those who considers themselves free-market capitalists, but they would do well to listen to the message. Francis gives form to the emotion and injustice of post-financial-crisis outrage in a way that has been rare since Occupy Wall Street disbanded. There has been a growing chorus of financial insiders – from the late Merrill Lynch executive Herb Allison to organizations like Better Markets – it's time for a change in how we approach capitalism. It's not about discarding capitalism, or hating money or profit; it's about pursuing profits ethically, and rejecting the premise that exploitation is at the center of profit. When 53% of financial executives say they can't get ahead without some cheating, even though they want to work for ethical organizations, there's a real problem.
Food pantries around the country are reporting a precipitous rise in the number of new visitors as people who were previously able to make do on food stamps get hit with cuts they can’t afford. It will be a long time before the effect of the cuts can be accurately quantified, but the raw numbers currently being reported are suggestive. Previously, many food stamp recipients were able to stretch their benefits until the third week of the month. Since November 1, they have been visiting pantries earlier, and in greater numbers.
But with remarkable clarity, David Keen, in the book Greed & Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars, makes the point that labels such as “ethnic hatred,” “mindless violence,” and “chaos” are applied chiefly by people who assume that the goal of any war should be victory. However, as Keen notes, sometimes the image of war serves as a smokescreen for the emergence of a wartime political economy from which rebels and even governments may be benefitting. Small wonder the warring factions may show little interest in negotiating a settlement. War for them is not just a continuation of politics by other means; it may be a continuation of economics by other means.
'During the past two years we’ve reduced the deficit by half, close to 2008 levels. That may sound like it’s a good thing, but it’s really the biggest reason the economy is so lackluster for the vast majority of Americans with a near-record-high in unemployment, stagnant wages, and a smaller proportion of Americans working than any time in the past 30 years.
We’ve also cut all the wrong things: spending that puts money in people’s pockets today and investments in our economic future. We’ve cut spending on education, unemployment insurance, environmental protection, and scientific research. Our public investment, which includes annual government programs and spending on roads, bridges, transit, research, and development is actually the lowest it’s been as a share of the economy in 60 years.'
Politicians abused the expenses system as a ‘displacement activity’ because they were bored by an increasingly irrelevant Parliament, John Bercow has claimed.
The Commons Speaker prompted criticism when he blamed the expenses scandal on Westminster becoming less ‘meaningful’ rather than on collective ‘malice or corruption’.
The scandal has resulted in four MPs and two members of the Lords being jailed. In a speech in London, Mr Bercow played down the greed of politicians, suggesting they were simply being ‘imaginative’.
‘The blunt truth is that the expenses debacle was a particularly embarrassing layer of icing on an especially unappetising cake,’ he told political charity the Hansard Society.
Being struck down with cancer costs families the same as an average mortgage, according to a new report.
Research shows the financial burden for sufferers average £570 a month - almost £7,000 a year. The think tank Demos said this is equal to the average annual cost of a mortgage in the UK.
A third of those diagnosed with cancer experience a drop in income, while one in four say they cannot afford to adequately heat their own home - leading to ‘heat or heal’ dilemmas across the country.
HENRY GIROUX: I have in mind a society in which the wealth is shared, in which there is a mesh of organizations that are grounded in the social contract, that takes seriously the mutual obligations that people have to each other. But more than anything else-- I'm sorry, but I want to echo something that FDR once said,
When he said that, you know, you not only have to have personal freedoms and political freedoms, the right to vote the right to speak, you have to have social freedom. You have to have the freedom from want, the freedom from poverty, the freedom from-- that comes with a lack of health care.
Getting ahead cannot be the only motive that motivates people. You have to imagine what a good life is. But agency, the ability to do that, to have the capacity to basically be able to make decisions and learn how to govern and not just be governed--
To compound the legal, political and moral case, as of 2000, over the previous 30 years, the poorest countries have paid $550 billion in principal and interest to Western financial institutions, on a total debt of $540 billion - yet they still manage to owe $523 billion. For every dollar received in grants, the developing world commits $13 to debt repayment.
Developing nations are therefore fattening the coffers of institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and other Western financial houses by draining funds from desperately needed projects to address poverty, the lack of infrastructure development, agricultural facilities and their ability to adapt to climate change.
What should be happening is the immediate cancellation of all "Third World" debt.
The American people love Social Security, and with good reason. It protects seniors and the disabled from poverty, and it is the most important life and disability safeguard available to the nation's 75 million children. The program is a bargain: Its administrative costs are lower than privately managed retirement plans. Social Security returns in benefits more than 99 cents of every dollar collected, whereas a typical 401(k) could easily eat up 20 cents of that dollar in fees. The program is fiscally sound and prudently managed — a policy triumph.
Just recently The Los Micos Golf Resort opened up in the nearby Tela Bay, with 750 acres of beach houses and a hotel, despite countless protests by local Garífuna organizations. The project has been financed by Randy Jorgensen, a Canadian businessman who struck it rich in the porn industry and told Kaelyn Forde of the Real News Network that "We want to bring back life to the banana booms," referencing the Banana Republic that Central America was once considered. Jorgensen denied usurping communal Garífuna land and stated that which borders delineate the community and individual land is "a debate that they need to have amongst themselves."
Members of the Garífuna community are not opposed to tourism and in fact are in favor of development it as long as guarantees dignified work with fair wages for local residents, coupled with the protection of the collective land, crops and ocean.
The call to cut Social Security has an uglier side to it, too. The Washington Post framed the choice as more children in poverty versus more seniors in poverty. The suggestion that we have become a country where those living in poverty fight each other for a handful of crumbs tossed off the tables of the very wealthy is fundamentally wrong. This is about our values, and our values tell us that we don’t build a future by first deciding who among our most vulnerable will be left to starve.
Capitalists defend their "right" to hire and fire as an "entitlement" that cannot be questioned. Yet it surely should be challenged on grounds of its undemocratic nature and its perverse social results. Employing people in socially useful work (however a democratic society might define that) is more humane to the individuals, families and communities involved, and more productive and less costly than rendering them unemployed. Yet a private profit-driven capitalist system yields the endless unemployment, spiking repeatedly, that society does not want. Except, of course, capitalists want it because it keeps them at the top of capitalist society.
Economists have long shuddered at the thought of a basic income, because it strongly disincentives work. However, a basic income is just that: basic. Most adults would continue to work to earn extra money. The employment effects would not be non-existent and there may be an increase in part-time work. As Lowrey points out, different studies have found the disincentive effects on work are not as strong as economists feared.
The warning comes after the Bank of England governor said he would be ‘absolutely’ prepared to raise interest rates before the next election in May 2015.
The country’s 11.2million households with a mortgage have become used to rock-bottom mortgage repayments – and many are not braced for the ‘payment shock’ when they inevitably rise.
In an indication of the shameful imbalance in the distribution of wealth, homeless children are seen starving in the streets, while the elite in the capital Pyongyang drive the latest Mercedes.
Recent reports reveal more than a quarter of North Korean children under five are stunted by extreme malnutrition, while rural poverty remains endemic.
According to the Independent, one eight-year-old boy called Min is filmed looking unsteady on his feet from hunger as he explains that his mother found it too hard to look after him so 'she told me I have to go.' 'So I left and now I live outside,' he adds.
About 3,000 Tacloban residents walked for miles to queue for help at the airport but just two planes arrived to take survivors to Manila, the capital of Philippines.
There were scenes of chaos and devastation as families, many of whom contained young children or elderly people, were held back by soldiers.
When the two Philippine Air Force C-130s arrived, people surged forward past a broken iron fence as they tried to secure a seat.
But only a few hundred made it aboard and the rest were left to wait in the rain, with few supplies.
Number of elderly tenants increased in more than half of UK's regions. Seven per cent rise in those leaving their own homes for rented property. Experts claim some pensioners are forced to sell homes to release equity. Report shows average UK cost of renting currently stands at £815 a month
Underage girls are sold for sex every ten miles along the BR-116. The law turns a blind eye to the crimes and perpetrators are unpunished
Matt Roper, a British journalist, investigated the extent of the abuse. UNICEF estimates there are 250,000 children in prostitution across Brazil
The process is gradual, insidious, lethal. It starts with financial stress in various forms, and then, according to growing evidence, leads to health problems and shorter lives.
Financial stress is brought upon us by the profit motive of capitalism, which offers little incentive to feed hungry children, to treat the sick, to secure us in retirement, to provide job opportunities for middle-class Americans. Some of the steps in the process are becoming more and more familiar to us.
1. Giving Half of Your 401(k) to the Banks
2. Watching 24,000,000 Children Go Hungry to Avoid Inconveniencing 20 Rich Individuals
3. Listening to the "Job Creators" Mock the Truth
4. Feeling the Debilitating Stress
In addition to its effects on our physical health, financial stress threatens our mental well-being. Stunningly, one out of every five American adults had mental illness in 2011, as reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Another recent study found that unemployment, whether voluntary or involuntary, can significantly impact a person's mental health. But only one of two Americans needing mental health care can afford treatment.
Grimmer still is the growing suicide rate, also linked to unemployment and declining wealth. The rate has accelerated since the 2008 recession.
The facts show that we were a relatively healthy people until unregulated free-market capitalism began to disrupt our lives. Now, because of its winner-take-all profit motive, we're literally fighting for our lives.