There is a mighty river of greed in America that led to the Gilded Age and the giant monopolies of the early 19th century, that feeds on the largess that derives from preparing for and waging unnecessary wars, that has resulted in a new Gilded Age begun by King Reagan and furthered over half a century by a Republican Party that never saw a tax cut that it didn't like, unless it was for average working people or - horrors! - for (non-existent) fat black welfare mothers who lived to procreate when they weren't feeding from the government trough and driving around town in their shiny new Cadillacs.

There was a time when a confluence of big corporations and an all-powerful government was called fascism, when politicians were bought and paid for by corporations given free rein to do as they wished with their workers while being given gigantic meta-tax breaks and outright donations gathered from tax-paying fools, that is, the 'working class'.

But no, you say, fascism was destroyed in World War II when "we" (we'll leave out the Russians who lost tens of millions of citizens fighting and destroying the German army on the Eastern Front) got rid of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. Well guess what? Fascism became American and it's all around us, hiding behind the flag, pervading our government and our society, destroying our Constitution, making fools of real democrats (small 'd'), crushing the unions, and creating a massive and extraordinary depression in human rights and human well-being.

They say that discovering and admitting the truth is the first step in healing. Well, here we are, in our racist, class-based economy and society built not for us but for the millionaires and billionaires and soon, the trillionaires, our very own aristocracy of greed that a hundred Biden's working for a hundred years won't be able to turn right-side up. But we can try. The alternative is unthinkable, but must still be thought. We must try.

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Here’s a crazy idea… since the big guys are holding the bag, how about we convince just one of them, Bezos that whatever amount of money he has now is enough for him to live out happily for the rest of his days (I know crazy right?). Then we get him to work on shareholders to convince them to transform Amazon into a trust owned company that serves the greater good. We are doing this at my teeny tiny company so I know it can work. One third of distributed profits at The Walker Group go to employees. One third goes to nonprofits solving community problems. And one third to shareholders. If we could get him to set the example, I think others would follow. What do you think?

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Agree. Maybe I'm misinformed, but I thought the pandemic relief legislation was intended to help ordinary people survive the severe disruptions caused by the pandemic without being driven into destitution, not to "heat up the economy."

To his credit, Biden is trying to address the corporate monopoly problem as best he can with executive branch actions. He should be more vocal about blaming greedy corporate leaders for higher prices. Bernie Sanders should also add that to his message, if he hasn't done so already.

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I agree. A few additions. Not surprisingly, the US stands out among "Western democracies" not only in lack of regulation of large corps but the meager often punitive nature of its social supports. When I moved to Canada for graduate studies in 1970s, not only was I a "landed immigrant" and not a "resident alien," but I immediately had free medical insurance founded by Ontario's Progressive Conservatives.

Control of monopolies stopped large in the 1910s with waning of the only Progressive Era and the oddity of breaking of of Bell Telephone 30 years ago.

Finally, so many of our social and political ailments today are aided and abetted by unregulated enormously wealthy social media and Big Tech.

Robert's comments on limits of unemployment and decades-old right wing distortions and blaming the victims underscore why we can't simply compare or trust unemployment (or inflation) rates over time.

Let us hope for a quiet Jan. 6!

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Jan 4, 2022Liked by Robert Reich

I was just saying this to my husband yesterday after reading a news article where a huge Corporation was explaining their reasons for "having" to raise prices. My first thought was, why not absorb the loss, for once, instead of raising prices, to ensure continued, steady, profits for the company and CEO? I mean, no company has to raise prices. Small businesses grapple with price raising all...the...time because they have to face their customers when they do it. Look 'em in the eye and explain. I have been one, trust me, I know. Big corporations don't have to so they don't care. They know we have no choice but to pay for it because we can't take our business elsewhere.

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Two anti-trust actions, one against AT&T and the other against IBM gave you the internet and the personal computer. Few people under the age of 65 will remember the days when you rented a telephone from Ma Bell and couldn’t connect any device up to its lines without its approval. If you had a teletype machine or acoustic modem in the early 1970s you could get either 10 or 30 print characters per second as the maximum data rate. There was no improvement in that rate until AT&T was broken up. Similarly with IBM. Anti-trust action forced them to copyright not patent their PC operating system which allowed developers to read the code and create software without the obstacles involved in patent monopoly. Prior to that you needed mega bucks and a computer center to develop software.

Just these two anti-trust actions enabled the development of technologies central to the economic growth that began in the 1980s and 90s.

Our form of capitalism is falling apart. We allow corporations to capture regulatory agencies and engage in pricing power monopoly practices completely uninhibited by monopoly regulations.

In state capitalist China the State has the right to tell private companies where they can source their capital. It can stop IPOs and clamp down on anti-competitive practices.

Here regulators and Congress persons routinely cycle in and out of corporate offices. Like Manchin they have a stake in ending or gutting regulations that prevent corporations from dictating what government will and will not be allowed to do.

When I ask the Democratic Party centrists to explain how they plan to reform this mess the only answer I get is elect more Democrats. We are supposed to tell the blue collar workers making $7.25 an hour to vote for the Democratic Senator that voted to take the $15 an hour minimum wage out of BBB bill.

It always amazes me that the centrists in the Democratic Party are oblivious to this impossibility.

If the centrists in the Party grasped the necessity for reform we would have candidates that could win back the voters abandoning the Party.

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The “Democratic” Party is only the lesser of two corporate parties. The battle is not between “progressives” and “centrists”, but between corporations and people. Most legislators of both parties are wholly owned subsidiaries of corporate power. The movie Don’t Look Up captures so well the mess we are in. Corporations, government and the MSM are all conspiring against our survival. We could vote our way out of it, if the election system itself weren’t so corrupted. Three sitting Supreme Court justices started out their careers helping Bush steal Florida. https://jennycohn1.medium.com/the-2000-u-s-presidential-election-was-a-harbinger-of-things-to-come-fecb1de53fa8 The 2000 U.S. presidential election was a harbinger of things to come.

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1. more unions; 2. limit the terms for legislators & the Supreme Court; 3. hold legislators responsible for financial gains made during their terms in office; 4. give each candidate an equal set amount of tax-payer money and media time - no private money in elections; 5. make legislators live the life of a single mother trying to support 3 kids while working 3 jobs just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table - maybe 6 months should do it, assuming they learn something during that time.

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People shouldn’t have more money to spend? Seriously? Okay, fine. Then let’s raise taxes on wealthy people and corporations so they have less money to spend on their mega mansions and overpaid CEOs.

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I am stymied by the fact that our news media isn't telling the real story about inflation!

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Donald Trump incited the insurrection of our Capital in a failed attempt to remain in office as President. There is no dispute. What is more concerning, however, is the total denial by the Republican Party’s leaders of this attempted coup. Only two Republican members of Congress – Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) – have demonstrated the courage to put country above party and serve on the January 6th Committee investigating the insurrection. When one of our countries’ major political party’s is willing to accept, and even promote, lies about the integrity of our elections we no longer have a democracy.

Consider also that most Republican’s wrongly believe:

• The vaccine to be more dangerous than the virus,

• That masks are harmful, not helpful,

• That global warming is a hoax,

• That tax breaks for billionaires helps the middle class,

• That Laws to suppress the votes of the poor and people of color are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

And finally, the Republican Party is also responsible for the growing distrust of elected local government officials and school boards with the clear intent to divide us even more than we already are.

The question that begs an answer is why?

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I agree with the problem but (who am I to disagree with Robert Reich?) maybe not the solution of increasing taxes on corporations and/or the super-wealthy without effective safeguards against them being able to move out of the U.S. to avoid these taxes and to keep them from passing these taxes also onto consumers. The fundamental problem, as it has been forever, seems to me to be how to get more people to recognize the problem of being taken advantage of people in power then to act on it- in our system at least for now by voting. Monopoly/oligopoly/collusion power creates price inelasticity which forces people to pay high prices or to consume less which would cause a depression although be better for the environment and maybe make us happier beyond basic needs if I'm thinking this through correctly. BTW, I'm terrified by the Republican Party. However I no longer support the Democratic Party, only individual candidates and coalitions, because "our" party seems to have abandoned core values of competence, courage, benificence, and appreciation of disagreement and the worth of others in far too many cases.

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Well, let’s go back to Economics 101: inflation occurs when too much money is chasing too few goods and services.

So why is there “too much money”? Our debt-based currency system depends upon monetary cycles. New money enters the economy through government spending and loans through the banking system. This money fuels the economy, but then has to exit the system so the next round of financing can happen.

This “old” debt is supposed to be retired through a combination of loan repayment and taxation. However, as the Middle Class shrinks and real wages stay flat in an expanding economy, tax revenue shrinks and debt repayment is increasingly distressed. At the other end of the economic spectrum, the uber-wealthy are reluctant to give up even a penny of wealth, so find ever more clever ways to evade taxation.

The result? Like a clogged drain, money builds up in the system and inflation is the result.

The solution? Tax away extreme wealth, on a progressive basis. It’s not about “punishing” success but rather enabling success to be shared much more widely

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This is "right on the money!"

All you have to do is follow the money! The wealthy and corporations are profiting like crazy, but spreading disinformation about inflation and making up reasons not to make the changes needed to help the people, while their increasing profits are the perfect argument for why we can make these much needed changes!!!!!

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While things in this country have never been perfect the overall best time for the working class was the postwar boom from 1947-1972. During that time the wealthy and corporations paid a much higher tax rate, as much as 70% for wealthy people in the 1940's and 1950's. It is interesting how the news media, including people like Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett, and Anderson Cooper at CNN, as well as many others in the mainstream news media at all the stations never report that. Also during that time Unions had much greater power than they do now.

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This response is from a Guardian thread and is a slight deviation from the core issue of Potterizing but includes ideas regarding the power of corporations and how unions were demonized in order to subvert the middle class.

Dr. Reich exposes another of the beloved lies in the US: that unions are the cutting edge of communism or even worse, socialism. Unions were formed to end worker exploitation, and one of only many battles was fought with Henry Ford that was 'ended' in 1941 with the impending war. The settlement was at the figurative point of a cocked and loaded gun to Ford's head. Patriotic? Change of heart? Ha. As noted in prior comments, the corporations just change locations if and when they can and demand a subsidy in doing so.

Are the plutocrats really that crass? They assume the most extreme position possible in order to negotiate on what appears to be conciliatory measures. This has been observed throughout history. A noted economist:

When the final result is expected to be a compromise, it is often prudent to start from an extreme position. - John M. Keynes

Of course, power never surrenders the slightest amount of influence without a fight much like the camel's nose is not allowed in a tent. Another economist:

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. - John K. Galbraith

The rich and influential always bet that their money and connections will save them at the last moment. As an engineer, economist, and data scientist, I have seen [almost] nothing in capitalism and its great leaders that indicate the slightest understanding that people are more important than profits. Capitalist corporations appear to be nothing other than unconscious creations of commercialism, consumption, and greed.

NB - I am not advocating gun violence in any sense - metaphorically or otherwise.

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