Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Labor Leaders Kiss Up to Trump. Where was organized Labor at the Women's March?

Trump and Building Trades leadership. Betraying the working class
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444,retired

Below is a statement from Afscme President, Lee Saunders on Trumps freeze on federal hiring.

This is the best thing he can say heading a workers' organization with 1.6 million members in it?

Every local that has any rank and file influence at all should introduce resolutions condemning this pathetic response to Trump's assault on the trade unions and should take steps to prepare for an internal struggle to save our organizations from the class collaborators that head them. We have to do this if we are to have any unions left at all and are forced once again to start from the bottom.

The thousands of leftists, socialists and others in unions, often as officials or staff must abandon their strategy of refusing to openly oppose the present leadership, refusing to openly campaign against their policies and refusing to build fighting opposition caucuses, that in practice means them acting as a left cover for their right wing policies.  They must abandon their excuses that they are "building a revolutionary party" or that "the members are not yet there" and others. It is to the rank and file of the unions that socialists must orient, not simply to recruit them as cadre for the so-called vanguard party but to assist these workers in building these opposition caucuses on a program aimed at confronting the capitalist offensive and building a generalized workers offensive of our own. Through this process we can raise the need for a revolutionary current within the workers and trade union movement in a non sectarian way that builds the movement at the same time.

The Team Concept that pits workers in one industry (or the same industry with different employers) against another in order to help their individual employers win market share over their rivals must be relegated to the garbage can of history.  This marriage with the bosses on the basis that workers economic interests and the bosses' are the same is a catastrophe as it throws us in to competition with each other. We built workers' organizations to protect us from the market not facilitate it. T

The same Team Concept applies in the political sphere through the union officialdom's support for the capitalist Democratic Party. The trade union leadership's collaboration with capital and the bosses at the expense of workers' needs is what led to the rise of Trump. In the course of building fighting unions we must work inside and outside of them and in our communities to build an independent workers' political party and to build the same unity and solidarity internationally. Throughout the world workers' are under assault. Capital doesn't like obstacles to international markets, we shouldn't support obstacles to the international unity and action of labor.

As a retired public sector worker and union activist I am all too familiar with competition between the public and private sector unions. I worked at a water utility whose publicly elected board was dominated by candidates from one of the two Wall Street parties and big business. Huge construction and engineering firms for example. We had the odd liberal on there who would vote for us as a minority making them look good and leave it at that. They are worse than useless. Water is gold in California. The building trades union leaders joined with the contractors who have their snouts in the public trough.  The building trades union leaders with their myopic view of the world don't care about anything except jobs that keep their members employed and the dues money coming in so their bloated salaries and comfortable jobs are safe. The entire trade union leadership to a greater or lesser degree have this view.  They are quite happy with privately built prisons that house workers that have been abandoned by capitalism as long as they are built union. The public sector union leaders that support publicly run prisons support them for the same reasons.

These building trades leaders met with Trump and they referred to the meeting as "incredible".  The union hierarchy is criminal in their support of the Team Concept and this deathly embrace of capitalism's Democratic Party and anti-worker warmongers like Clinton. How disgusting that they sit with this man Trump, a hater of workers, an exploiter of workers and an all round degenerate and liar. What a betrayal that they give him any credibility at all.

The building trades leaders ignore that he's frozen federal hiring because there's "too many jobs" in government and it's not "their" members. In fact, they are assuming that more government work will be contracted out to their friends, the private contractors who will hire their members. The Carpenters leader, Doug McCarron who took home close to $500,000 in 2012 said that Trump's inaugural speech "...hit home for the people who have been hurting,"

We see the same  divide and rule tactic the bosses use to pit public and private sector workers against each other at work at this level.  Public sector jobs are in generally all round better if benefits and pensions are included. It is also a more humane work environment with more security. Union workers in the building trades are more accurately higher paid temporary employees that can be laid off whenever the boss decides. Without public sector unions, organized workers are a less than 7% of the workforce, that is why the bosses are after us. And we should think of this: Trumps freeze on federal hiring does not include workers in the defense or national security industries and two thirds of federal workers work in these industries. This will mean domestic services will suffer, not the spying agencies or the US war machine.

We cannot avoid an internal struggle to change our unions and that means removing the present, pro-corporate, pro-market, pro-capitalist clique that has the trade unions and their resources under their control. They are backed by an army of full time staff, no small number of them former members of socialist or anti-capitalist organizations as well as being products of academia even its Ivy League universities.   I find it utterly nauseating to see thee labor leaders sitting with the degenerate Trump giving him credibility. 

Here is the president of Afscme's response to Trump's federal employment freeze. Disgusting isn't it.

From the Afscme Website.
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on
Federal Hiring Freeze
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s Executive Order imposing a federal hiring freeze:

“In one of his first acts in office, President Trump is making it harder for federal public service workers to do their jobs for the American people.

“The men and women who’ve chosen public service don’t ask for much. But they do deserve basic respect, and that includes having the tools they need to do their work. Too often, they are understaffed, trying to do more with less, facing more mandates with fewer resources.

“This step will exacerbate rather than eliminate these problems. It will make federal agencies less effective, hurting people and communities that depend on efficient public services. It may mean unsafe workplaces aren’t inspected, lower quality health care for our veterans, and longer wait times at Social Security Administration offices.

“You can’t make America great by undermining those who’ve dedicated their careers to serving America."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Superbowl: As Luke Bryan Sings, Remember Pat Tillman and How He Died.

“I never served in the military — that’s something I wish I had had the opportunity to do. But I feel like this is my way of honoring my country. It’s a little chance to serve.”

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

So says Luke Bryan, a country singer I've never heard of who is going to sing the national anthem at the upcoming Superbowl. What does he mean, he didn't have, "the opportunity" to serve in the military. He was born in 1976. The US has been in numerous offensives against populations that have never harmed or threatened the US since then. He could have volunteered, after all, his university has a very strong military tradition and there was plenty of opportunity for him to head to Afghanistan from there.

Bryan is from rural middle class background and went to college where he enjoyed the fun of fraternity life eventually graduating with a degree in Business Administration. Being the son of a peanut farmer you see one has to be able to balance the books. How can you volunteer for a stint in Iraq or Afghanistan when you have to get a degree that can help you in the business world.

So Bryan had more opportunity, his parents weren't poor, he had options and getting killed or killing others in Iraq wasn't one of them. Instead, with a lucrative music career that he doesn't want to lose,  he continues this marriage between the sports industry and the military by promoting the US war machine and acting as a recruiting agent for it, portraying it as an egalitarian venture traveling the world helping people, like the Panamanians. the Grenadans, the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan and Yemen where the US supplies the Saudi's with weapons for their assault there. The sports industry gets billions of dollars from the taxpayer via the military.

I have no respect for Bryan. I would respect him more if he was honest about why he didn't join up rather than lie about it. But all that money and less fear of premature death is to much to pass up. We have an economic draft in the US and he didn't need it.

Bryan could continue in the mold of Pat Tillman. Tillman is a hero no more as after giving up a lucrative career to defend his country as he saw it. But, Tillman was  leader, a critical thinker and man of principle. On discovering that things were not as he was told he was, in my opinion, assassinated by the US military. He refused to be the poster boy for the corporate war machine. He refused to encourage young working class men and women to be conned by all the patriotic propaganda, anthem singing and flag waving. He is mentioned in the article below and workers should not let the capitalist media, their gutter press, erase him from history. We should celebrate his death as a real hero that working class men and women can look up to. He really did do the tight thing and they killed him for it.

So the NFL that earns millions from advertising and warmongering propaganda aimed at working  class youth, only started paying taxes last year and, ".....paid its commissioner, Roger Goodell, a staggering $44.1 million in 2012. The year before, he took home $29 million. The year before that, $11 million.", writes  Mother Jones April 2015

We publish the excellent article below from The Washington Blog. It was written at the time 2015's Superbowl. Remember also to see the movie, The Tillman Story.    Don't let Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, Obama, Wolfowitz, the degenerate Trump or the capitalist media in general get away with denying Tillman his place in the collective memory of the US working class. Of denying us the Pat Tillman who was not afraid to learn and not afraid to act on what he learned, not their sanitized version. Here is what we published in his honor on Memorial Day.

The Super Bowl Promotes War

By David Swanson, teleSUR

Super Bowl 50 will be the first National Football League championship to happen since it was reported that much of the pro-military hoopla at football games, the honoring of troops and glorifying of wars that most people had assumed was voluntary or part of a marketing scheme for the NFL, has actually been a money-making scheme for the NFL. The U.S. military has been dumping millions of our dollars, part of a recruitment and advertising budget that’s in the billions, into paying the NFL to publicly display love for soldiers and weaponry.

Of course, the NFL may in fact really truly love the military, just as it may love the singers it permits to sing at the Super Bowl halftime show, but it makes them pay for the privilege too. And why shouldn’t the military pay the football league to hype its heroism? It pays damn near everybody else. At $2.8 billion a year on recruiting some 240,000 “volunteers,” that’s roughly $11,600 per recruit.

That’s not, of course, the trillion with a T kind of spending it takes to run the military for a year; that’s just the spending to gently persuade each “volunteer” to join up. The biggest military “service” ad buyer in the sports world is the National Guard. The ads often depict humanitarian rescue missions. Recruiters often tell tall tales of “non-deployment” positions followed by free college. But it seems to me that the $11,600 would have gone a long way toward paying for a year in college! And, in fact, people who have that money for college are far less likely to be recruited.

Despite showing zero interest in signing up for wars, and despite the permanent presence of wars to sign up for, 44 percent of U.S. Americans tell the Gallup polling company that they “would” fight in a war, yet don’t. That’s at least 100 million new recruits. Luckily for them and the world, telling a pollster something doesn’t require follow through, but it might suggest why football fans tolerate and even celebrate military national anthems and troop-hyping hoopla at every turn. They think of themselves as willing warriors who just happen to be too busy at the moment. As they identify with their NFL team, making remarks such as “We just scored,” while firmly seated on their most precious assets, football fans also identify with their team on the imagined battlefield of war.

The NFL website says: “For decades the NFL and the military have had a close relationship at the Super Bowl, the most watched program year-to-year throughout the United States. In front of more than 160 million viewers, the NFL salutes the military with a unique array of in-game celebrations including the presentation of colors, on-field guests, pre-game ceremonies and stadium flyovers. During Super Bowl XLIX week [last year], the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warriors Project invited veterans to attend the Salute to Service: Officiating 101 Clinic at NFL Experience Engineered by GMC [double payment? ka-ching!] in Arizona. …”

Pat Tillman, still promoted on the NFL website, and eponym of the Pat Tillman Foundation, is of course the one NFL player who gave up a giant football contract to join the military. What the Foundation won’t tell you is that Tillman, as is quite common, ceased believing what the ads and recruiters had told him. On September 25, 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Tillman had become critical of the Iraq war and had scheduled a meeting with the prominent war critic Noam Chomsky to take place when he returned from Afghanistan, all information that Tillman’s mother and Chomsky later confirmed. Tillman couldn’t confirm it because he had died in Afghanistan in 2004 from three bullets to the forehead at short range, bullets shot by an American.

The White House and the military knew Tillman had died from so-called friendly fire, but they falsely told the media he’d died in a hostile exchange. Senior Army commanders knew the facts and yet approved awarding Tillman a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a posthumous promotion, all based on his having died fighting the “enemy.” Clearly the military wants a connection to football and is willing to lie as well as to pay for it. The Pat Tillman Foundation mis-uses a dead man’s name to play on and prey on the mutual interest of football and the military in being connected to each other.

Those on whom the military’s advertising succeeds will not typically die from friendly fire. Nor will they die from enemy fire. The number one killer of members of the U.S. military, reported yet again for another year this week, is suicide. And that’s not even counting later suicides by veterans. Every TV pundit and presidential debate moderator, and perhaps even a Super Bowl 50 announcer or two, tends to talk about the military’s answer for ISIS. What is its answer for people being stupidly ordered into such horrific hell that they won’t want to live anymore?

It’s in the ads

At least as big a focus of the Super Bowl as the game itself is the advertising. One particularly disturbing ad planned for Super Bowl 50 is an ad for a war video game. The U.S. military has long funded war video games and viewed them as recruiting tools. In this ad Arnold Schwarzenegger shows what fun it is to shoot people and blow up buildings on the game, while outside of the game people are tackling him more or less as in a football game. Nothing here is remotely warlike in a realistic sense. For that I recommend playing with PTSD Action Man instead. But it does advance the equation of sport with war — something both the NFL and the military clearly desire.

An ad last year from Northrop Grumman, which has its own “Military Bowl,” was no less disturbing. Two years ago an ad that appeared to be for the military until the final seconds turned out to be for Jeeps. There was another ad that year for Budweiser beer with which one commentator found legal concerns:

“First, there’s a violation of the military’s ethics regulations, which explicitly state that Department of Defense personnel cannot ‘suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment’ of any ‘non-Federal entity, event, product, service, or enterprise. … Under this regulation, the Army cannot legally endorse Budweiser, nor allow its active-duty personnel to participate in their ads (let alone wear their uniforms), any more than the Army can endorse Gatorade or Nike.”

Two serious issues with this. One: the military routinely endorses and promotes the NFL. Two: despite my deep-seated opposition to the very existence of an institution of mass murder, and my clear understanding of what it wants out of advertisements (whether by itself or by a car or beer company), I can’t help getting sucked into the emotion. The technique of this sort of propaganda (here’s another ad) is very high level. The rising music. The facial expressions. The gestures. The build up of tension. The outpouring of simulated love. You’d have to be a monster not to fall for this poison. And it permeates the world of millions of wonderful young people who deserve better.

It’s in the stadium

If you get past the commercials, there’s the problem of the stadium for Super Bowl 50, unlike most stadiums for most sports events, being conspicuously “protected” by the military and militarized police, including with military helicopters and jets that will shoot down any drones and “intercept” any planes. Ruining the pretense that this is actually for the purpose of protecting anyone, military jets will show off by flying over the stadium, as in past years, when they have even done it over stadiums covered by domes.

The idea that there is anything questionable about coating a sporting event in military promotion is the furthest thing from the minds of most viewers of the Super Bowl. That the military’s purpose is to kill and destroy, that it’s recent major wars have eventually been opposed as bad decisions from the start by a majority of Americans, just doesn’t enter into it. On the contrary, the military publicly questions whether it should be associating with a sports league whose players hit their wives and girlfriends too much.

My point is not that assault is acceptable, but that murder isn’t. The progressive view of the Super Bowl in the United States will question the racism directed at a black quarterback, the concussions of a violent sport that damages the brains of too many of its players (and perhaps even the recruitment of new players from the far reaches of the empire to take their place), sexist treatment of cheerleaders or women in commercials, and perhaps even the disgusting materialism of some of the commercials. But not the militarism. The announcers will thank “the troops” for watching from “over 175 countries” and nobody will pause, set down their beer and dead animal flesh and ask whether 174 countries might not be enough to have U.S. troops in right now.

The idea that the Super Bowl promotes is that war is more or less like football, only better. I was happy to help get a TV show canceled that turned war into a reality game. There is still some resistance to that idea that can be tapped in the U.S. public. But I suspect it is eroding. The NFL doesn’t just want the military’s (our) money. It wants the patriotism, the nationalism, the fervent blind loyalty, the unthinking passion, the personal identification, a love for the players to match love of troops — and with similar willingness to throw them under a bus.

The military doesn’t just want the sheer numbers of viewers attracted to the Super Bowl. It wants wars imagined as sporting events between teams, rather than horrific crimes perpetrated on people in their homes and villages. It wants us thinking of Afghanistan not as a 15-year disaster, murder-spree, and counter-productive SNAFU, but as a competition gone into double quadruple overtime despite the visiting team being down 84 points and attempting an impossible comeback. The military wants chants of “USA!” that fill a stadium. It wants role models and heroes and local connections to potential recruits. It wants kids who can’t make it to the pros in football or another sport to think they’ve got the inside track to something even better and more meaningful.

I really wish they did.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Truth about Israel and Zionism

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I was listening to a couple of short news clips of Madonna and Scarlet Johansson talking at the woman's march. Both of these women are supporters of the Zionist regime in Israel/Palestine. Johansson talked of her daughter and I'm sure a lot of them talked of their daughters and how the misogynist Trump and his gang threaten their future, the future for women and all of us no doubt.

I found it somewhat nauseating and hypocritical to say the least when it comes out of the mouths of supporters of Zionism. Palestinian children are imprisoned or murdered by Israeli forces almost daily. Check out the body count from the last Gaza invasion. Imagine if they had openly supported South African Apartheid before it fell. Hollywood and the liberals would have gone nuts.

This is a very good presentation detailing the history of the state of Israel, a colonial racist settler regime. The man is well qualified coming from an Israeli military family that played an important role in the founding of the Jewish state. It is not simply that the history is accurate, his presentation in general is very soberly put.

If you support this regime you are supporting the murder and torture of children. if you support Zionism you are supporting Apartheid. You must ask yourself why Islamic terrorism is "extreme" and "racist" or terrorism at all, when Zionism (Jewish extremism) is not. Christian Zionists are also hugely responsible for the crimes against Palestinians.

I want to urge workers to watch this. It lasts an hour and is easy on the eyes and ears. It is two thirds shorter than a boring football game without the mind numbing insulting ads. As a worker myself whose views are constantly evolving, I know working people think about this, we talk about it. But our media is biased, it reflects class interests under the cloak of news for "all Americans". Not so.

Lastly, he is not a socialist and that is clear. He doesn't link the creation of Israel to capitalist expansion. I do not agree with his conclusions. I do not believe that there is a solution to this problem within the framework of capitalism. This is what is missing.  Israel is a western imperialist venture that arose after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. As I have pointed out before, the first British governor of Jerusalem referred to the creation of  a Jewish state as "Our loyal little Ulster in the Middle East". Only the international working class can solve these crises that are in actually, capitalist crises.

US imperialism has no special love for Jews. Israel is its most dependable ally in the Middle East as a means to defending its interests in the region, most importantly against the revolutionary potential of the Arab masses.  He says in the video that it is "Israel" that is the problem. Trump's son in law is an investor in the illegal settlements and Trump has pledged to move the Israeli capital to Jerusalem setting the stage for more violence and misery.

This is a very important presentation for working people to read and absorb. It will help us understand more about this important issue.

Head of dominant church of capitalism on Trump: "Wait and See."

Sean O'Torain.

Popes and Cardinals. Not a woman amongst them. 

It has over 1 billion members. It keeps these by all kinds of ruses and lies, promises of life after death, threats of burning in hell forever, great impressive buildings and music and art. It also supports capitalism and in turn capitalism supports it. Some people try to say that the present leader of this outfit criticizes capitalism. But this is not so. Read the fine print. He criticizes "unregulated" capitalism. A different thing altogether. Even some of the top capitalists themselves criticize unregulated capitalism. One even calls it capitalist fundamentalism.

I am of course talking about the man called Francis who is the undemocratic head of the Catholic church. He was not elected by its 1 billion plus members. Only a few cardinals. No women had a vote. Nor can women run for his position or be Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, that is full time organizers for this organization. This unelected man with his own undemocratic state in Rome has to say something about Trump being elected. What does he say?    "Wait and See." Of course he is not a women whom Trump boasts of assaulting. And of course he wants to keep cozied up To trump. After all Trump has power at least for now. Just like the Catholic church kept cozied up to the Nazis when they were in power in Germany. Just like Francis himself kept cozied up to the military dictatorship in his native Argentina when it was with the help of the USA slaughtering trade unionists and left wing activists. Putting them in helicopters and taking them out and dropping them into the ocean. 

Yes. Wait and see. We do not have to wait and see. Trump is a vicious capitalist politician. He will wreck havoc. He does not even accept climate change. He will accelerate the threat that capitalism represents to life on earth at this time. A threat from climate change, nuclear war, conventional war, drought, flooding etc. Undemocratic right wing male dominated outfits like the Catholic church are well past their sell by date.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Only Way Racism Will be Ended in America.

by Sean Throne

Racism will never be rooted out in this country until there is an honest discussion on the following facts. The genocide of the Native American people and the stealing of their land. The violent forcing of African Americans to work for 300 years and never get paid a dime. The fact that for a time some European Americans were also slaves. The stealing of the land and the exploitation and discrimination against all Latino and Asian people. The extra exploitation of women.

That at the root of all of this is the role of the WASP ruling class as it slaughtered its way to power and its strategy of divide and rule. Divide and rule on the basis of race and gender. Any Truth and Reconciliation committee would have to approach this in this way. That is, to point the finger of blame at the ruling capitalist class, seek to undo the evils of the past and identify these as having their origins in capitalism and its strategy of divide and rule. 

And at the same time seek to change things and end racism and exploitation by uniting the working class against the capitalist class, ending capitalism and establishing a democratic socialist society.

Only a united working class can solve the problem.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A racist "Injustice" system is a career opportunity for some.

Note: I am so annoyed with myself as I forgot to mention one of the most important issue regarding the case I refer to in the video here, it contributed to the title. And that is that the Assistant DA who prosecuted my young friend is now a State Senator.

Richard Mellor *

The young person I mention in this video I had known most of his life. After his trial I lost touch with the family and only recently got in touch with them again. His mother passed away and as is usual he was not able to attend the funeral. This is common practice. I was reminded by a relative that he was tried by a "jury of is peers" that,  "Happened to be all white and had to have at least some degree of financial stability, to be able to serve as a juror for a period of time without losing their job." So both racial and class injustice is at play here.

Prisons are not correctional centers and those that work in them are nor correction officers. Prisons and the justice system are merely part of the processes of the warehousing of human beings.

J20 UC Berkeley Walk-Out

Monday, January 16, 2017

A few comments on Politics, history and class.

These are just a few thoughts I have wanted to share and haven't written about due to restrictions. We are always told its not good to discuss politics. But that's a lie. It's crucial to discuss politics. We can come to understand the world if we discuss politics. But it's important to have a class perspective on things. Discuss the world around us with our own class interests and needs front and center. Politics and history are exiting to discuss when we do that. History become exciting then, as opposed to when we talk about the stale drab history of the ruling class and their world. Politics can help us understand where we're at in history, how we got here and where we should be going if we want to survive as a species. It's good stuff.

Workers that follow Facts For Working People and who read our perspective on things regularly please take the time to share your thoughts or views with us by commenting or send us an e mail.  We are not experts but we have lived a life and our lives have been like millions of others, work and survival. We welcome constructive criticism. We are socialists and are committed to building a democratic socialist world. Capitalism cannot be reformed, it cannot solve the catastrophic environmental and social destruction that lies ahead----it is the cause of it. And it is the working class and only the international working class that can change society, no one or group can do it for us.

Also, as we have mentioned previously and in this short video clip. We have what we refer to as a workers' Think Tank. The capitalist class has hundreds of them. We all know that what management at work is doing in their meetings that they have on company time is discussing how to get more out of us. We must do the same with different goals of course.  Some of us have had years of experience as union activists in the workplace as rank and file union activists, not paid bureaucracts. If you want to discuss issues you have dealing with the boss or the struggle to change the union we can discuss these important issues as well.

If you are interested in coming in on our weekly conference calls and also enriching them hopefully, send us an e mail at the address to the right and we'll talk about that.

Martin Luther King on Capitalism, racism and socialism

Remembering Martin Luther King

"You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry… Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong…with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism." 

Martin Luther king 1966

Davos: responsible capitalism

by Michael Roberts

Today, the global political and economic elite meet in Davos Switzerland under the auspices of the World Economic Forum (WEF). 

Every year the WEF has an annual meeting in the super exclusive ski resort of Davos, with the participation of 3,000 politicians, business leaders, economists, entrepreneurs, charity leaders and celebrities.  For example, this year Chinese president Xi Jinping, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and many of the economic mainstream gurus and banking officials are among the attendees. Xi Jinping will be the first Chinese president to attend Davos and will lead an unprecedented 80-strong delegation of business leaders, economists, academics and journalists.  He will deliver the opening plenary address on Tuesday and use it to defend “cooperation and economic globalisation”.  

US vice-president Joe Biden, China’s two richest men and London mayor Sadiq Khan will travel on private jets to nearby airports before transferring by helicopter to escape the traffic on the approach to the picturesque town. So many jets are expected that the Swiss government has opened up Dübendorf military airfield, an 85-mile helicopter flight away, to accommodate them.  The increase in private jet flights – which each burn as much fuel in one hour as typical use of a car does in a year – comes as the WEF warns that climate change is the second most important global concern.

While the rich elite fly in on their private jets, extra hotel workers are being bussed in to serve the delegates, while packing into five a room in bunk beds.  One of the main themes of Davos will be the rising inequality of income and wealth.  So Davos itself is a microcosm.

At Davos’ super luxury hotel the Belvedere, there will be “specially recruited people just for mixing cocktails”, as well as baristas, cooks, waiters, doormen, chambermaids and receptionists  to host world leaders, business people and celebrities, who this year include pop star Shakira and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (worth $400m).  Last year, a Silicon Valley tech company was reportedly charged £6,000 for a short meeting with the president of Estonia in a converted luggage room. The hotel has also previously flown in New England lobster and provided special Mexican food for a company that was meeting a Mexican politician.

Britain’s Theresa May will be the only G7 leader to attend this year’s summit as it clashes with Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th US president.  Last year, former UK PM David Cameron partied tie-less with Bono, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kevin Spacey, at a lavish party hosted by Jack Ma, the founder of internet group Alibaba and China’s richest man with a $34.5bn (£28.5bn) fortune. Tony Blair also attended the Ma party last year.

Basic membership of the WEF and an entry ticket costs 68,000 Swiss francs (£55,400).  To get access to all areas, corporations must pay to become Strategic Partners of the WEF, costing SFr600,000, which allows a CEO to bring up to four colleagues, or flunkies, along with them. They must still pay SFr18,000 each for tickets. Just 100 companies are able to become Strategic Partners; among them this year are Barclays, BT, BP, Facebook, Google and HSBC. The most exclusive invite in town is to an uber-glamorous party thrown jointly by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and British financier Nat Rothschild at the oligarch’s palatial chalet, a 15-minute chauffeur-driven car ride up the mountain from Davos. In previous years, Swiss police have reportedly been called to Deripaska’s home after complaints about the noise of his Cossack band. Deripaska’s parties have “endless streams of the finest champagne, vodka, and Russian caviar amidst dancing Cossacks and beautiful Russian models.”

The official theme of this year’s forum is “responsive and responsible leadership”!  That hints at the concerns of global capitalism’s elite: they need to be ‘responsive’ to the popular reaction to globalisation and the failure of capitalism to deliver prosperity since the end of the Great Recession and they also need to be ‘responsible’ in their policies and actions – a subtle appeal to the newly inaugurated Donald Trump as US president or Erdogan in Turkey, Zuma in South Africa, Putin in Russia and Xi in China.

The WEF has been the standard bearer of the positives from ‘globalisation’, new technology, free markets, ‘Western democracy’ and ‘responsible’ leadership.  Trump and other leaders of global and regional powers now seem to threaten that enterprise.  But Trump is the result of the failure of the WEF project itself i.e. global capitalist ‘progress’.

In my book, The Long Depression, in the final chapter I raised three big challenges for the capitalist mode of production over the next generation: rising inequality and slowing productivity; the rise of the robots and AI; and global warming and climate change.  And these issues are taken up in this year’s WEF report entitled The Global Risks Report.  The WEF report cites five challenges for capitalsim:  1 Rising Income and wealth disparity; 2 Changing climate; 3 Increasing polarization of societies; 4 Rising cyber dependency and 5 Ageing population.

The report points out that while, globally, inequality between countries has been “decreasing at an accelerating pace over the past 30 years”, within countries, since the 1980s the share of income going to the top 1% has increased in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and Australia (although not in Germany, Japan, France, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands).  Actually, as I have shown in recent posts, global inequality (between countries) has only decline because of the huge rise in incomes per head in China.  Excluding, there has been little improvement, with many lower income countries having worsening inequality.  And as the WEF says, the slow pace of economic recovery since 2008 has “intensified local income disparities with a more dramatic impact on many households than aggregate national income data would suggest.”
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The latest measures of inequality of incomes and wealth as presented by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Daniel Zucman and recently deceased Tony Atkinson, are truly shocking, with no sign of any reduction in inequality in the US, in particular.
Since the global financial crisis the incomes of the top 1% in the US grew by more than 31%, compared with less than 0.5% for the remaining 99% of the population, with 540 million young people across 25 advanced economies facing the prospect of growing up to be poorer than their parents.  And to coincide with Davos, Oxfam, using the data compiled for the annual Credit Suisse wealth report finds that the world’s eight richest individuals have as much wealth as the 3.6bn people who make up the poorest half of the world!
In my blog and , I discuss the reasons for this sharp increase in inequality.  Inequality is a feature of all class societies but under capitalism it will vary according to the balance of power in the class struggle between labour and capital.  The WEF report likes to think that the cause is the differential of skills between those who are better educated and therefore can obtain higher wages.  But research has shown this to be nonsense.  The real disparity comes when capital can usurp a greater proportion of value created in capitalist production.  Increased profitability, lower corporate taxes and booming stock and property markets since the 1980s have shifted up incomes from capital compared to wages, particularly for the top echelons in corporations.

And then there is the impact of ‘capital bias’ in capitalist production that I have referred to before
.  According to the economists Michael Hicks and Srikant Devaraj, 86% of manufacturing job losses in the US between 1997 and 2007 were the result of rising productivity, compared to less than 14% lost because of trade.
“Most assessments suggest that technology’s disruptive effect on labour markets will accelerate across non-manufacturing sectors in the years ahead, as rapid advances in robotics, sensors and machine learning enable capital to replace labour in an expanding range of service-sector job.  A frequently cited 2013 Oxford Martin School study has suggested that 47% of US jobs were at high risk from automation and in 2015, a McKinsey study concluded that 45% of the activities that workers do today could already be automated if companies choose to do so.” (WEF).
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Technological change is shifting the distribution of income from labour to capital: according to the OECD, up to 80% of the decline in labour’s share of national income between 1990 and 2007 was the result of the impact of technology.  While at a global level, however, many people are being left behind altogether: more than 4 billion people still lack access to the internet, and more than 1.2 billion people are without even electricity.

In my book, I cite the next challenge for capitalism is climate change from global warming.  The WEF report does too.  There are a growing “cluster of interconnected environment-related risks – including extreme weather events, climate change and water crises” .Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are growing, currently by about 52 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.  Last year was the warmest on the instrumental record according to provisional analysis by the World Meteorological Organisation. It was the first time the global average temperature was 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1880–1999 average.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, each of the eight months from January through August 2016 were the warmest those months have been in the whole 137 year record.
As warming increases, impacts grow. The Arctic sea ice had a record melt in 2016 and the Great Barrier Reef had an unprecedented coral bleaching event, affecting over 700 kilometres of the northern reef. The latest analysis by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that, on average, 21.5 million people have been displaced by climate- or weather-related events each year since 2008,59 and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) reports that close to 1 billion people were affected by natural disasters in 2015.

The Emissions Gap Report 2016 from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that even if countries deliver on the commitments – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – that they made in Paris, the world will still warm by 3.0 to 3.2°C. To keep global warming to within 2°C and limit the risk of dangerous climate change, the world will need to reduce emissions by 40% to 70% by 2050 and eliminate them altogether by 2100.

The World Bank forecasts that water stress could cause extreme societal stress in regions such as the Middle East and the Sahel, where the economic impact of water scarcity could put at risk 6% of GDP by 2050. The Bank also forecasts that water availability in cities could decline by as much as two thirds by 2050, as a result of climate change and competition from energy generation and agriculture. The Indian government advised that at least 330 million people were affected by drought in 2016. The confluence of risks around water scarcity, climate change, extreme weather events and involuntary migration remains a potent cocktail and a “risk multiplier”, especially in the world economy’s more fragile environmental and political contexts.

The third big challenge cited by the WEF is restoring global economic growth.  The report points out that permanently diminished growth translates into permanently lower living standards: with 5% annual growth, it takes just 14 years to double a country’s GDP; with 3% growth, it takes 24 years. “If our current stagnation persists, our children and grandchildren might be worse off than their predecessors. Even without today’s technologically driven structural unemployment, the global economy would have to create billions of jobs to accommodate a growing population, which is forecast to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, from 7.4 billion today.”

So the WEF report highlights a whole batch of problems ahead for the stability and success of global capitalism. And what are the answers for a ‘responsive and responsible’ global leadership gathering in Davos?  Capitalism must be preserved, of course, but it will necessary “to reform market capitalism and to restore the compact between business and society.”

But having said that globalisation is failing in its report, the WEF then says that the way forward is really more of the same.  “Free markets and globalization have improved living standards and lifted people out of poverty for decades. But their structural flaws – myopic short-termism, increasing wealth inequality, and cronyism – have fueled the political backlash of recent years, in turn highlighting the need to create permanent structures for balancing economic incentives with social wellbeing.”

Thus the WEF report calls on the rich elite “to be responsive to the demands of the people who have entrusted them to lead, while also providing a vision and a way forward, so that people can imagine a better future.” And how to do this?  “Leaders will have to build a dynamic, inclusive multi-stakeholder global-governance system…the way forward is to make sure that globalization is benefiting everyone.”

Reducing inequality and poverty, boosting productivity and growth through new technology while preserving jobs and raising incomes; reducing gas emissions into the atmosphere to avoid global catastrophes, while preserving and reforming capitalism through global cooperation from Trump in the US, Xi Ping in China, Putin in Russia and Brexit Britain and the European Union.  Hmm…