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What the History of Ukraine Teaches us About the Risks of Mismanaging Climate Crisis

Ukraine has a long history of finding itself at the intersection of political violence — among them genocide inflicted by Joseph Stalin, joined later by German occupiers. This tragic history helps explain why Ukrainians have the will to sacrifice everything for their land, despite the odds, to fend off Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Sandwiched between German imperialism/Fascism and the Marxist/Leninist movements of the 19th and 20th Centuries, modern Ukraine continues to exist between a proverbial rock and a hard place. Consequently, it is unsurprising that the seeds of conflict still lie in this region to the present day.

If these historical undercurrents are acknowledged at all, it is to point out that President Putin engages in propaganda when he rationalizes his warpath to the Russian people as a purging of Nazis from Ukraine. Nevertheless, there is a kernel of truth to this history. An Israeli paper covered an “Embroidery March” last year in Kiev — one of several to commemorate Nazi collaborators — which some Ukrainians remember as allies against the Soviet Empire during World War II.

While it is tempting to compartmentalize the COVID-19 pandemic, the costly aftermath of George Floyd’s death in 2020, a 40-year high in inflation and the war in Ukraine as a series of random events, an uneasy sense that something more is afoot is widespread. Pundits, for example, have attempted to attribute these early 21st Century upheavals to Marxists. Still others have drawn attention to the World Economic Forum’s so-called Great Reset, to argue that “Stakeholder Capitalism” is the new face of fascism.

Whatever this is, we can no longer afford to remain passive observers.

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Closing the Revolving Door: Income Inequality, Wage Stagnation & Deficits Make an Urgent Case for Campaign Finance Reform

If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.

— Chris Rock

The wealthiest 20 individuals in the United States — a group small enough to fly together on a Gulfstream jet — have as much wealth as the 152 million people who comprise the bottom half of the U.S. population, The Institute for Policy Studies reports in “Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us“.

But what’s really driving the widening gulf between the haves and the have nots in America?

Among the more widely appreciated reasons for declining economic growth is the advance of automation. But other factors have begun to collide with technology to launch what may be a Perfect Storm: reshaping the economy to a “new normal” marked by economic uncertainty.

Another culprit is the rise of lopsided trade deals in the 1980s and ’90s, which have provided greater incentive to offshore jobs. The late billionaire and financier Sir James Goldsmith in his book “The Trap” predicted that poorly crafted free trade deals would produce a “net job loss”. In the early 1990s, Goldsmith testified before Congress advising against entry into another globalization deal known as GATT. Goldsmith also called out the Clinton administration on the Charlie Rose show in opposition to NAFTA, again predicting an outflow of jobs and capital.

If the wage stagnation of the late 1970s had not persisted to the present — some four decades! — the average American would earn $92,000 per year, reports Forbes in “Average America vs the One Percent“. In today’s dollars, those who identify as middle class are less secure than families that relied upon on a single breadwinner in the 1960s and earlier. We have gone from a society that can pay its bills and raise a family on a single income — and often a blue-collar income at that — to one in which the norm is for two able-bodied adults to work full time to support a family. (And because this is the new normal, illness and divorce are now the leading causes of child poverty and personal bankruptcy, according to the book “The Two-Income Trap“.) During this same period household debts have grown and savings diminished.

While cynics use these economic indicators to berate Americans — promoting the simplistic conclusion that Americans are eager to live beyond their means — reality is far more nuanced. In recent years recessions have gone deeper, last longer and recoveries are that much weaker. In part this is because our economy is nearly 70 percent dependent upon consumer spending for its health. Economic growth has instead remained tenuous in ways that economists typically ascribe to “lack of consumer confidence”. Behind the euphemism lies the unsettling reality that fewer Americans have the discretionary income necessary to stimulate the economy. More than 2/3 of Americans struggle to come up with $400 in an emergency.

Continue reading “Closing the Revolving Door: Income Inequality, Wage Stagnation & Deficits Make an Urgent Case for Campaign Finance Reform”