Category Archives: Capitalism

Ellen and Mike and Empire (225/303/310/485)

Imperialism is hegemonic in the sense that the citizens of Empire are often shocked or angered by the assertion that they do, in fact, live in one– usually before they bother to define that term.

In honor of Fleet Week– which is clearly a symbol of American Empire– here are two speeches that have been supplemented with images.

First, a by-now viral video of Ellen.

I’d never heard of this next one until yesterday. I don’t know who originally made it.

Consider our discussions about hegemony and interpretation. What codes and values are invoked by these clips? How does form shape or undermine content? Do you live in an Empire? What evidence and arguments support your claim?

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“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

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Socialism

Let us never forget the unbelievable hypocrisy of Wall Street, the high priests of unfettered capitalism.

In 2008, after their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior created the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression — with millions of Americans losing their jobs, their homes and their life savings — Wall Street’s religious adherence to unfettered capitalism suddenly came to an end.

Overnight, Wall Street became big government socialists and begged for the largest federal bailout in American history — some $700 billion from the Treasury and trillions in support from the Federal Reserve.

But it’s not just Wall Street that loves socialism — when it works for them. It is the norm across the entire corporate world. The truth is corporate America receives hundreds of billions of dollars in federal support every single year, while these same people are trying to cut programs that benefit ordinary Americans.

If you are a fossil fuel company, whose carbon emissions are destroying the planet, you get billions in government subsidies including special tax breaks, royalty relief, funding for research and development and numerous tax loopholes.

If you are a pharmaceutical company, you make huge profits on patent rights for medicines that were developed with taxpayer funded research.

If you are a monopoly like Amazon, owned by the wealthiest person in America, you get hundreds of millions of dollars in economic incentives from taxpayers to build warehouses and you end up paying not one penny in federal income taxes.

If you are the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America, you get massive government subsidies because your low wage workers are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive — all paid for by taxpayers.

If you are the Trump family, you got $885 million worth of tax breaks and subsidies for your family’s housing empire that is built on racial discrimination.

When Trump screams socialism, all of his hypocrisy will not be lost on the American people. Americans will know that he is attacking all that we take for granted: from Social Security to Medicare to veterans health care to roads and bridges to public schools to national parks to clean water and clean air.

When Trump attacks socialism, I am reminded of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.”

And that is the difference between Donald Trump and me. He believes in corporate socialism for the rich and powerful.

I believe in a democratic socialism that works for the working families of this country.

see https://www.vox.com/2019/6/12/18663217/bernie-sanders-democratic-socialism-speech-transcript