Americans are told to make “sacrifices” — but those at the top never have to

In the American ethos, sacrifice is often hailed as the chief ingredient for overcoming hardship and seizing opportunity. To be successful, we’re assured, college students must make personal sacrifices by going deep into debt for a future degree and the earnings that may come with it. Small business owners must sacrifice their paychecks so that their companies will continue to grow, while politicians must similarly sacrifice key policy promises to get something (almost anything!) done.

We have become all too used to the notion that success only comes with sacrifice, even if this is anything but the truth for the wealthiest and most powerful Americans. After all, whether you focus on the gains of Wall Street or of this country’s best-known billionaires, the ever-rising Pentagon budget or the endless subsidies to fossil-fuel companies, sacrifice is not exactly a theme for those atop this society. As it happens, sacrifice in the name of progress is too often relegated to the lives of the poor and those with little or no power. But what if, instead of believing that most of us must eternally “rob Peter to pay Paul,” we imagine a world in which everyone was in and no one out?

In that context, consider recent policy debates on Capitol Hill as the crucial midterm elections approach. To start with, the passage of the Biden administration’s Inflation

— source | Liz Theoharis | Sep 16, 2022

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The Mostly Forgotten 1857 Utah War

A scarcely remembered and yet very significant event that occurred in the years leading up to the US Civil War was the so-called “Utah War”, which took place from the latter half of 1857 into the first half of 1858.

Frequently referred to as “Buchanan’s Blunder” (after then-US President James Buchanan), it was one of the most notorious examples in US history of a president ginning up a “rally ’round the flag” war to distract the populace from domestic strife.

The so-called “Mormons” (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) had been driven from Missouri to Illinois, and following the assassination of their founding prophet Joseph Smith, were compelled to leave the United States altogether to escape persecution.

The vanguard, led by Brigham Young, arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in July 1847. The area was still part of Mexico at the time. Young was passionately encouraged by

— source | Aug 7, 2022

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Preacher Became a Champion for Black-Led Sustainable Agriculture

In 1979, an idealistic 44-year-old Black woman named Nettie Mae Morrison moved with her husband to Allensworth, 75 miles south of Fresno, in California’s Central Valley.

“She wanted to be a part of history,” said her son, Dennis Hutson, who was in his mid-20s at the time.

The town had a distinctive past. It was founded in 1908 by Allen Allensworth, a man born into slavery who became the first African American to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. About 3 square miles in size, Allensworth was the first town in California founded and governed by Black people—and it served as a beacon of possibility for Black people all over the nation, its population growing to around 1,200 people.

But the community soon fell on hard times.

In 1914, the Santa Fe Railroad Company moved its rail stop from Allensworth to nearby Alpaugh, a majority-White town, dealing a major blow to Allensworth’s economy. That same year, Col. Allensworth died after being struck by a motorcycle during a visit to Los Angeles.

— source | Tiffani Patton | Sep 9, 2022

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22 Crore Applied, 7 Lakh got Jobs, 9 Lakh Posts Still Vacant

Two questions asked recently in Parliament elicited answers from the government that reveal the horrendous state of jobs and vacancies in the Central government. One of the questions (#1803 answered on July 27) asked how many people applied for jobs in the Central government and how many actually got permanent jobs. In reply, the minister of state in the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions – who is also the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office – replied that between 2014 and 2022, a staggering 22.06 crore applications for jobs were received by the Central government out of which 7.22 lakh persons were recruited. That means about 0.3% of recruitment, or 3 out of every 1,000 applicants, were successful.

Another question (#463 answered on July 20) asked about the total number of vacancies in the Central government. The same minister replied that as of March 1, 2021, there were 40.35 lakh sanctioned posts in the Central government out of which 30.56 lakh posts were filled. That means about 9.79 lakh posts were lying vacant.

— source | Subodh Varma | 31 Jul 2022

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Our Entire Civilization Is Fake And Stupid

You’re not jaded; everything really is just as phony and vapid as it looks.

I say this because if you are reading this it’s likely the result of a personal quest for truth which has led to a gradual peeling away of the lies our society is made of. Your eyes probably found this text because you’re the sort of person who’s been trying to make sense of the world in a sea of propaganda and deception, which often results in a growing disgust not just with the power structures which oppress and tyrannize humanity, but with our entire civilization.

This experience is very common for people like yourself, and it’s very common because it arises from a clear perception of reality. From the very beginning human civilization has been built around serving the interests of the powerful, from religion to philosophy to the arts to law. As the world has gotten smaller and it’s become possible to artificially manufacture culture with mass-distributed media, this has only become more the case.

That’s why the more you learn about the world, the more fake and stupid our civilization looks. It’s because it is fake and stupid. Our news, our entertainment, our jobs, our legal systems, our political systems, our education systems, our financial, monetary, economic and commercial systems; the way our entire civilization is structured and organized

— source | Caitlin Johnstone | Sep 8, 2022

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There Are Good Reasons to Defund the FBI

This week the FBI took the unprecedented step of executing a search warrant on the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump. No former president has ever been the subject of such an investigative practice. In response, chief Trump supporter and MAGA cheerleader Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed outrage at the FBI’s actions by tweeting, “DEFUND THE FBI!” Far right Rep. Paul Gosar hit similar notes, tweeting, “We must destroy the FBI. We must save America.” While this about-face on “Back the Blue” is an amusing example of the right-wing ideological confusion that ensues when lawmakers adhere to diehard Trump loyalism, we on the left should use this moment as an opportunity to explore a plan to actually do that. The FBI should indeed be defunded — though the reasons for that have nothing to do with the fact that the agency searched Donald Trump’s home.

The January 6 attack on the Capitol showed us the deep fissures in the Back the Blue concept trotted out by the right in response to the Black Lives Matter protests of recent years. While conservatives claim to support the police, they do so on a very narrow basis. Police authority is desirable to them only as long as it is solely directed at what they perceive to be suspect classes, including poor people, BIPOC communities, trans people, immigrants, anti-fascists, sex workers, and other marginalized groups. Built into right-wing support for the police is an understanding — grounded in history — that police authority should not be exercised against the powerful classes, including the wealthy,

— source | Alex Vitale | Aug 10, 2022

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Elizabeth’s Death Prompts a Reckoning of British Empire

From the very beginning, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign was deeply connected to Britain’s global empire and the long and bloody processes of decolonization.

Indeed, she became queen while on a royal visit to Kenya in 1952. After she left, the colony descended into one of the worst conflicts of the British colonial period. Declaring a state of emergency in October 1952, the British would go on to kill tens of thousands of Kenyans before it was over.

Is it possible to disentangle the personal attributes of a gentle and kindly woman from her role as the crowned head of a declining global empire that waged numerous wars and resisted those demanding independence across the globe?

Even though she was a constitutional monarch who generally followed the lead of her parliament, many of Britain’s ex-subjects don’t think so, and some historians agree, with one

— source | Matt Fitzpatrick | Sep 12, 2022

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Fed Rate Hikes Are “Body Blow” to Workers Reeling from Pandemic, Growing Inequality

This week, the United States is facing what Politico calls a Category 5 economic storm as analysts debate whether the U.S. economy is in a recession and how to respond. Today, the Federal Reserve is announcing another interest rate hike, which it says will help fight against inflation and bring down prices, that are up by some 9% since last year as inflation reaches a 40-year high.

This week also marks 13 years since the U.S. last raised its federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour in 2009, which is the longest time without a raise since the federal minimum wage was first implemented during the Great Depression.

Over the last 30 to 40 years, we have experienced here in the United States a radical redistribution of wealth and income. All manner of economists, from all perspectives, have done the research. It’s all very well known. That has caused epoch-changing problems here in the United States that our political headlines are full of literally every day.

But the last four years have been a cap on that process, that really requires taking a deep breath. Number one, our society was unprepared for and did not well manage a pandemic, that it could have been and should have been much better prepared for, as many other countries were who don’t have our own wealth or our medical system. About the same time, we had an economic crash. Over half the labor force in this country lost their job, for a few weeks or the entire time of 2020 and 2021. We’ve had viral catastrophes before. We’ve had economic crashes. We never had them at the same time. That was a body blow to a working class that, as I said, has been suffering for 30 to 40 years.

As if that weren’t enough, we then had — when we thought we might be out of the worst of the crash and the pandemic, now, in the last year, as you just pointed out, we have

— source | Jul 27, 2022

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Strike, Strike, Strike

The ruling oligarchs are terrified that, for tens of millions of people, the economic dislocation caused by inflation, stagnant wages, austerity, the pandemic and the energy crisis is becoming unendurable. They warn, as Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and NATO Secretary GeneraJens Stoltenberg, have done, about the potential for social unrest, especially as we head towards winter.

Social unrest is a code word for strikes — the one weapon workers possess that can cripple and destroy the billionaire class’s economic and political power. Strikes are what the global oligarchs fear most. Through the courts and police intervention, they will seek to prevent workers from shutting down the economy. This looming battle is crucial. If we begin to chip away at corporate power through strikes, most of which will probably be wildcat strikes that defy union leadership and anti-union laws, we can begin to regain agency over our lives.

The oligarchs have spent decades abolishing or domesticating unions, turning the few unions that remain — only 10.7 percent of the workforce is unionized — into obsequious junior

— source | Chris Hedges | Sep 18, 2022

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