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.
'If you Google “gross” you will get a number of meanings. The first to show up is “unattractively large or bloated.” The second, the one we’ve been using in GDP, refers to the total amount of something, as opposed to net.
If we apply the first definition to Gross Domestic Product, we get unattractively large, bloated Domestic Product. This makes a great deal of sense, because that’s exactly what our growth-at-all-costs economy has become: bloated to the point of being dangerous.
For starters, we consume 1.5 Earth’s worth of stuff each year. That is, we consume more resources than can be renewed, which means we are depleting natural capital. So we are creating debt and calling it wealth. If we continue on our current trend, by 2050 we will be using over 2 Earth’s worth of natural capital.
You want gross? Nothing could be grosser than continuing to exploit fossil fuels.
Or take plastics. Talk about gross. We make about 100 million tons of plastics each year, and most if it gets thrown away. Plastics take hundreds of years or more to degrade, so the stuff accumulates – every decade we’ll add another billion or so tons to the biosphere.
Already we have a giant garbage heap at least twice the size of Texas in the north Pacific composed largely of plastics. Some estimates put it at twice the size of the continental US – the difference in size depends on the concentrations used to define its boundaries.
But either way, that’s big and gross, and getting bigger and grosser each year.' #livingincomeguaranteed
And it would be vain to deny that we live in a very sick political climate. Last week, we cut food support to our poorest citizens. This week, the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House will deliberate about how much further pain should be doled out on those same communities. Add to this the fact that unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans will run out by year end unless Congress takes action. Yet, despite the strong connection between hunger, joblessness, and violence, few are willing to suggest that political decisions of this kind impact mass killings. We attempt to address the problem through Thatcher’s lens, by focusing on the individual.
"Climate change negotiations cannot be based on the way we currently measure progress. It is a clear sign of planetary and economic and environmental dysfunction ... The whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confronts these same realities.
Internal emails indicate industry successfully lobbied federal government against new regulations
Sir John Major said last night he was appalled that ‘every single sphere of British influence’ in society was dominated by people who went to private school.
The former prime minister said the dominance of a private-school educated elite and the well-heeled middle classes in the ‘upper echelons’ of public life was ‘truly shocking’.
These heartbreaking pictures show the squalid conditions that thousands of Roma children are forced to call home in the city of Kosice, Slovakia.
The city, the largest in eastern Slovakia, received £51million when it was named the European Capital of Culture 2013 alongside Marseille, France. The money is to be invested into the city's infrastructure, creative industries and tourism.
However, in the suburb of Lunik IX around 8,000 Slovakian Roma, most of them children, live in squalor in one of the world's worst slums.
David Cameron has stepped up his planning for the General Election by giving his Australian ‘attack dog’ a new £500,000-a-year contract.
Election strategist Lynton Crosby, who until now has been advising the Prime Minister part time, will receive the doubled salary for devoting himself full time over the 18 months until the vote in 2015.
Mr Crosby, known as ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and an ‘evil genius’, has been credited with sharpening the Tories’ message over the past year. He is renowned for hard-hitting campaigns with so-called ‘dog- whistle’ policies on issues such as immigration and welfare.
The day Obama was sworn in, a U.S. drone strike hit Yemen. It was the third such attack in that country in as many days. Despite the rhetoric from the president on the Capitol steps, there was abundant evidence that he would continue to preside over a country that is in a state of perpetual war.
Who says we can't afford a Living Wage for everyone on this Planet?
'This surging list of billionaires is tribute to the growing inequality in almost all nations on earth. The richest man in the world, for example, is Carlos Slim of Mexico—with a net worth of $73 billion, comparable to a whopping 6.2% of Mexico’s GDP. The world’s third richest person is Spain’s retail king, Amancio Ortega, who has accumulated a net worth of $57 billion in a country where over a quarter of the people are now unemployed.'
Many good points made about WHY encouraging prosperity for all the current sweatshop countries is actually a pro economy move and why we should stop seeing short term advantages in supporting cheap labor vs the long term advantages to support the whole world to move to a liveable wage. Interestingly Indonesia which still stands at the bottom of the pile of dung we have created, is demanding Universal Health Coverage as they understand that unless ALL are catered for and cared for, the world will never be a place that works for all and that we can be proud of.
'Indonesia is not just any developing country. It's the fourth most populous country in the world (after China, India, and the U.S.), and it's now a big sweatshop for global corporations. The country's minimum wage is about $200 a month, leaving vast swaths of Indonesia's workforce in poverty. '
One year on, it's painfully clear that society's choices mean the hurricane hit our poorest communities harder than the well-to-do
In the poor and marginalized communities of New York – mostly people of color – conditions were bad before Superstorm Sandy – and chaos ensued after. Sandy exposed millions of other New Yorkers to the sense of economic and environmental insecurity that clouds the lives of the poor every single day.
The billionaire owner of the Grangemouth fuel refinery was spotted relaxing on his luxury yacht just hours after winning beating union bosses at the imperiled complex into submission.
Jim Ratcliffe's company Ineos forced through a survival plan for the huge petrochemical complex in Falkirk, Scotland, which saw workers swallow a pay freeze, redundancies and changes to their pensions.
And almost as soon as the ink dried on the humiliating deal, which also bans strike action at the plant for three years, Mr Ratcliffe jetted off to his luxurious ship, moored on the Cote d'Azur in the south of France.
As the Big Six companies drive through price hikes of up to 10 per cent, it also emerged that the costs to them of buying gas and electricity has remained almost unchanged since autumn 2012.
Increases in what energy companies pay for gas and electricity have added just £10 to household bills, but profit margins added £50 in a year.
JPMorgan—whose fraudulent mortgage claims helped take down the economy in 2008—will likely be able to write off its much-touted $13 billion fine as a business expense, meaning U.S. taxpayers would help foot the bill.
"What is the point of fining JPMorgan these large amounts if the taxpayer is picking up the tab?" asks D.S. Wright, writing for FiredogLake.
JPMorgan has reached a tentative agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to pay a record-setting $13 billion in fines. While negotiations are still ongoing, $9 billion of this penalty is expected to go to the government, while $4 billion will go to the Federal Housing Finance Agency to allegedly end up in the hands of customers who were swindled by the bank.
"BOE, after stealing $168 million from neighborhood schools, now wants 52 new charters," wrote the student advocacy group on their Facebook page. "Smells like privatization of public education!"
"At the level of state and federal education policy," writes Stan Karp at Rethinking Schools, "charters are providing a reform cover for eroding the public school system and an investment opportunity for those who see education as a business rather than a fundamental institution of democratic civic life."
'That the rich influence elections with their money is as obvious to most of us as the fact that rich people game the justice system by being able to hire the best lawyers, or that rich people are healthier because they can buy the best food and health care.'
As many as 4.5million people say they are in arrears – and this is before the price hikes and winter weather sets in. This includes both customers getting behind with cash or cheque payments, making only partial payments or failing to make direct debit payments because they are overdrawn.
Npower this week hiked up its prices by an eye-watering 10.4 per cent, following SSE and British Gas' lead - which announced crippling rises of 8.2 and 9.2 per cent respectively. The remaining three big energy suppliers are expected to follow suit in the next few days.
An unemployed father with nine children has said if he did not get his £32,000 a year in benefits he would be out robbing 'rich' people.
Jobless Lee Miller, who has demanded a bigger council house for his enormous family, claims he would turn to petty crime because he has 'bills to pay'.
The 40-year-old said he would travel to London and target the wealthy to provide for his children.
The US Census Bureau reports that the number of Americans suffering significant hardships, such as having utilities cut off, getting evicted, or suffering food shortages, has escalated sharply during the recession. Between 2005 and 2011, nearly 7 million additional people were unable to make a mortgage or rent payment, suggesting that as the nation's last-ditch safety net for people in really dire straits, TANF, is not working. Given that science is now showing just how damaging the stress of poverty is to children and their health and intellectual development, maybe it's finally time for welfare reform to be reformed in a way that gives poor kids a fair shot at a decent future.