Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fight Big Mac

Chanting “Hey McDonald’s, You Can’t Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side,” and “No Big Macs, No French Fries, Make our Wage Supersize,” protesters blocked the entrance to McDonald’s Hamburger University training facility in Oakbrook. Thousands of McDonald's workers demanding higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation. Protesters want the fast food giant pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour. According to organizers, more than 100 McDonald's workers  and supporters were arrested.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

workers are better people

1. The Poor Don't Cheat As Much

An analysis of seven different psychological studies found that "upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals." A series of experiments showed that upper-class individuals were more likely to break traffic laws, take valued goods from others, lie in a negotiation, and cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize.

And this doesn't even begin to examine the many, many significant  cases of fraudulent behavior in the banking industry. Or private equity firms that cheat their investors over 50 percent of the time. Or the many unscrupulous corporate  tax avoidance strategies.

2. The Poor Care More About Other People

Numerous reputable  sources have concluded that lower class individuals tend to be more generous and trusting and helpful, compared to the upper class. As people gain in wealth, they  depend less on others, and thus they have  less reason to understand the  feelings and needs of the less fortunate. The poor are better at  interpersonal relationships because they need other people.

In addition, careful studies have determined that money pushes people further to the  right, making them  less egalitarian, and less willing, as a practical consequence, to provide broad  educational opportunities to all members of society.

One neuro-imaging  analysis even suggested that the super-wealthy view photos of impoverished people as  things rather than as human beings. They react to the poor not with sympathy, but with contempt.

3. The Rich Focus on Me, Me, Me

The authors of a recent psychological  study argue that rich people are different because they have the  freedom to focus on  self. In support of this, a number of  studies have demonstrated that higher social class is associated with increased  narcissism, even to the point of looking at themselves more frequently in a mirror. The rich feel entitled. They  attribute success to their 'superior' traits, while people from lower economic backgrounds attribute success to societal values, such as educational opportunities.

4. The Poor Give a Greater Percentage of Their Money to Others

Research has shown that low-income Americans spend a much higher percentage of their income on charitable giving.  Results from three studies average out to 4.5% from low-income people, 2.7% from those with high incomes. With respect to helping people in need, the rich give even less. As Robert Reich  notes, about  two-thirds of 'charitable' donations from the rich go to their foundations and alma maters, and to "culture palaces" – operas, art museums, symphonies, and theaters.

Charles Koch said, "I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington." The well-being of  high society, perhaps.

5. Entrepreneurs are not in the Capitalist Class

The meritorious behavior of job creation comes from the  “middle class”, which is quickly  sliding toward lower-income status. The very rich generally don't risk their money in job-creating startup businesses.  Over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, and real estate.

With the demise of the “middle class”,  entrepreneurship is decreasing. According to a Brookings Institute  report, the "firm entry rate," a measure of new firms and thus of entrepreneurial startup activity,  fell by nearly half in the thirty-plus years between 1978 and 2011. America's average entrepreneur is  26 years old, but most of our 26-year-olds are burdened by student loan debt.

 9 out of 10 of the fastest-growing  occupations are considered low-wage, generally not requiring a college degree.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Screening Out Poverty

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

class war america

Forget the pro-Soviet sympathies and enjoy certain other truths in this video.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Insanity Of Nuclear War Thinking

First posted on the Countercurrents website

“If the adversary feels that you are unpredictable, even rash, he will be deterred from pressing you too far. The odds that he will fold increase greatly, and the unpredictable president will win another hand.” - Richard Nixon

The UK-based military think-tank has produced a report (1) that uses many declassified documents, testimonies and interviews suggests that the world has, indeed, been lucky avoiding nuclear catastrophe, given the number of instances in which nuclear weapons were nearly used inadvertently as a result of miscalculation or error. Historical cases of war resulting from misunderstanding demonstrate the importance of the ‘human judgment factor' in decision-making. The report describes the history of the Indian-Pakistan nuclear stand-offs, the latest being the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks which risked nuclear escalation through a possible rapid conventional response by India and a potential nuclear response by Pakistan.

India maintains civilian control over its nuclear weapons, routinely separates its warheads and missiles, and has an official policy of no first use. Its strategic posture evolved significantly as a result of the 1999 and 2002 incidents. After the 2001–02 crisis, it developed a rapid response conventional posture (dubbed the ‘Cold Start' doctrine). India's military doctrine centres on the use of conventional military force in order to gain territory as quickly as possible, which might be used later as potential leverage in demanding concessions from the Pakistani government. A cable from US Ambassador to India Tim Roemer, entitled ‘A Mixture of Myth and Reality', expressed doubts that India's conventional force posture would ever be used beyond the purpose of deterrence owing to operational and logistical complications, and referred to this type of military planning as rolling “the nuclear dice”.

India particularly relies on a significant degree of unpredictability in the deployment of eight specialized divisions known as Integrated Battle Groups (IBG)– including infantry and artillery units – in Pakistan's territory to strike at its military's cohesion. In response, Pakistan has fielded the nuclear-tipped short-range Nasr missile, thus introducing tactical nuclear weapons into an already charged atmosphere.

Pakistan's nuclear command-and-control structure is officially divided between three authorities. The first is the National Command Authority, which is chaired by the prime minister. The second is the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), a body comprising government and military representatives set up as the result of command-and-control reforms between 1999 and 2001. The third is Strategic Forces Command, comprised of the military. The storage status of Pakistan's nuclear weapons during peacetime has not been explicitly clarified, but it is widely believed that the SPD exercises heightened vigilance against the possibility that they could go missing. Reports indicate that Pakistan does separate its warheads from its delivery systems, and that the warheads themselves are separated by ‘isolating the fissile “core” or trigger from the weapon and storing it elsewhere'. While Pakistan's nuclear weapons are therefore not susceptible to being used while on a hair-trigger alert, the warhead's components are nevertheless stored at military bases and can be put together at short notice. The disputed nature of command and control over Pakistan's military raises questions regarding the stability of its nuclear forces in a context where conventional confrontations can potentially escalate without authorization from the civilian leadership. The Chatham House authors describe the near use of nuclear weapons in the confrontations between India and Pakistan.


Brasstacks, was an Indian military exercise that took place in 1986–87 and involved and involved 400,000 Indian troops within 100 miles of the Rajasthan border with Pakistan, which responded with its own exercises, Flying Horse and Sledgehammer. The Indian military leadership spent two weeks debating how to respond before passing on news of the escalation to newly elected Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. On 18 January 1987, the US ambassador intervened by meeting with the Indian minister of state for defence and securing an agreement to resolve the crisis, a message he subsequently passed to Pakistani officials. Only then did India and Pakistan activate the crisis hotline. Brasstacks demonstrated miscommunication and misperception on both sides. India, for example, did not fully notify Pakistan of the exercise beforehand. In addition, Pakistan claims that Gandhi earlier agreed that Brasstacks should be reviewed and provided vague assurances. However, the exercise continued as planned and the situation escalated further, possibly because Gandhi knew so little about it.

Leading the Operation Brasstacks was Indian Chief of Army Staff General K. Sundarji, and there is reason to believe he intentionally escalated the crisis in the hope of provoking Pakistan into a military confrontation that would allow India to take out Pakistan's burgeoning nuclear weapons programme. The Pakistani intelligence service, which, rightly or wrongly, interpreted Brasstacks as a test of will with the potential for confrontation and chose to reciprocate with its own military exercises. Shortly afterwards the nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan acknowledged the existence of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Kargil Crisis

The 1999 Kargil crisis arose out of a conventional military conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir. In May 1999, Pakistani troops and pro-Pakistani militants were spotted by Indian intelligence in the Kargil region of Kashmir on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC). The Indian Air Force bombed Pakistani bases along the LoC in Kargil.

The incident soon escalated into a military confrontation involving the threat to use nuclear weapons. In the midst of the crisis, Pakistan moved its nuclear weapons from storage. At the end of May, Shamshad Ahmad, Pakistan's foreign secretary, declared that Pakistan would “not hesitate to use any weapon in its arsenal to protect its territorial integrity”.

The conflict ended thanks to the successful mediation of US President Bill Clinton, who was able to persuade Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to withdraw his forces from the Indian side of the LoC in Kargil. It then emerged how little Sharif knew of the Kargil incursion relative to the head of the military, General Musharraf. A government minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, later commented that Pakistan's army “very consciously only provided [Sharif] an outline of the exercise in which the focus was totally different … [It] did not involve the armed forces or crossing the [Line of Control].”

Clinton explicitly asked Sharif if he was aware of how “advanced the threat of nuclear war really was” and whether he knew that Pakistan's military had begun preparing its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif explained “I was taken aback by this revelation because I knew nothing about it. The American President further told me during the meeting that the nuclear warheads have been moved so that these could be used against India.”

Bruce Riedel, an adviser to Clinton at the time of the Kargil incident, implied that Sharif was under considerable pressure to reach a solution which would allow Pakistan to save face.

Sharif feared that otherwise “fundamentalists would move against him and this meeting would be his last with Clinton”. Furthermore, Sharif's denial that he gave the order to prepare Pakistan's missile forces raised concerns about the nature of military and civilian control at the time of the Kargil conflict.

The Kashmir Again

In 2001 and 2002, India and Pakistan went into a renewed cycle of hostility as a result of the unresolved Kashmir conflict and additional provocations. For 10 months, between December 2001 and October 2002, India and Pakistan kept one million soldiers in a state of high readiness. India had rejected the first use of nuclear weapons, but President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan refused to do the same and stated that the “possession of nuclear weapons by any state obviously implies they will be used under some circumstances”.

The Chatham House report describes:

“The crisis was a combination of logical decision-making and seemingly irrational behaviour by decision-makers on both sides, most likely owing to misperceptions.”

India assumed that Pakistan would not resort to nuclear use if it was involved in a limited conventional war, as the United States would intervene early before the crisis escalated to that level. India's defence minister maintained that Pakistan would eventually refrain from a nuclear strike because a nuclear exchange would ‘destroy' Pakistan while India would ‘win' and lose ‘only a part of its population'.

The conflict was resolved when US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage made public a pledge by Musharraf to move against specific terrorist groups (such as Lashkar-e-Taiba) and seek negotiations with India. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was also involved in the talks with the Pakistani side to defuse the nuclear dimension of the crisis. “All this chatter about nuclear weapons is very interesting, but let's talk general-to-general,' Powell on one occasion maintained in a conversation with the Pakistani military leadership. “You know and I know that you can't possibly use nuclear weapons […] It's really an existential weapon that has not been used since 1945. So stop scaring everyone.”

One socialist journal at the time wrote “What a barbaric age we live in. Still, borders are to be fought over. Still, gods to be avenged and, still, that age-old cursed prize – profit – to be sought in every stinking orifice. And were the mushroom clouds to start rising over Islamabad and New Delhi, western capitalists would still ponder how they could cash in on this hell, this hell of their system's making.” (2)


India and Pakistan rely heavily on the diplomatic mediation of third-party states, particularly the US, to resolve their stand-offs and its presence in the region as “insurance against escalation to war". Yet the 2001–02 crisis highlighted that “what-if"... is it possible in the next crisis, US diplomacy may fail to prevent nuclear first use by Pakistan and/or nuclear retaliation by India.

Decisions about nuclear use in many of these cases came down to only a handful of people. Nuclear weapons require constant vigilance and caution. For as long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of an inadvertent, accidental or deliberate detonation remains.

(1) “Too Close for Comfort”

(2) Socialist Standard, July 2002.

May Day

Into the Streets May First

Into the streets May First!
Into the roaring Square!
Shake the midtown towers!
Shatter the downtown air!
Come with a storm of banners,
Come with an earthquake tread,
Bells, hurl out of your belfries,
Red flag, leap out your red!
Out of the shops and factories,
Up with the sickle and hammer,
Comrades, these are our tools,
A song and a banner!
Roll song, from the sea of our hearts,
Banner, leap and be free;
Song and banner together,
Down with the bourgeoisie!
Sweep the big city, march forward,
The day is a barricade;
We hurl the bright bomb of the sun,
The moon like a hand grenade.
Pour forth like a second flood!
Thunder the alps of the air!
Subways are roaring our milllons--
Comrades, into the square!

Alfred Hayes
New Masses, May, 1934.

This world is run by a small clique – a tiny group of people who own and control the wealth and power – the 1% that controls the majority. And they have at their beck and call a host of bought and paid for politicians that do their bidding.

The economic system we live under exists to serve this small elite. In this society you don’t get rich by working hard, you get rich by having others work hard for you. In fact: the harder the work, the less you get paid. Everything of value is the product of human labor; it was created by women and men working hard. The capitalists own the places where we work, we produce the goods and services and everything worthwhile – they get the profits. We are dealing with a class that is made up of parasites. Malcolm X was entirely right to say “Show me a capitalist and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.”

We seek to end the rule of the rich and build a socialist system – a system where all political and economic power is in the hands of the people. This is not a dream. Working people are the majority. We have every right to reorganise society in such a way that it serves our interests. Provided that we have the democratic organisation, determination, and understanding necessary, the future is ours.