This is a Video That They Don’t Want You to Watch About a Book That They Don’t Want You to Read

This is a Video That They Don’t Want You to Watch About a Book That They Don’t Want You to Read

TRANSCRIPT:

Most people believe that the American dream is withering away and only available to a select few. And they’re correct. But there is a hidden cause that few are aware of that renders American capitalism itself a myth.

Here’s the real cause of inequality that no one is talking about. 71% of us believe that the economic system is rigged. And both Donald Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left gained ardent support in the 2016 elections with this claim.

America has gone from an open competitive marketplace to an economy where very powerful companies dominate key industries that affect our daily lives. Two corporations control 90% of the beer Americans drink, four airlines dominate all air traffic, five banks control over half of the nation’s banking assets, Google controls over 90% of online searches, and Facebook has more than 70% of all social networking traffic.

Competition is dying in the United States. And capitalism without competition is not capitalism. It is happening across most of the economy. From birth to death, from hospitals to funeral services, and in nearly all industries we have the illusion of choice, but for most critical decisions, we only have one or two companies.

This is called industry concentration. A study by Gustavo Grullon at Rice University revealed that 75% of industries in the U.S. have become more concentrated in the last 20 years. It’s everywhere.

Kidney dialysis, eyeglasses, hospitals, insurance, meat production, and agriculture. The list of industries with dominant players is endless.

Today we find ourselves living in a second Gilded Age. In the 1980s, President Reagan relaxed the merger guidelines and in each decade since then we’ve had a wave or mergers and acquisitions, each consecutively bigger than the last.

The major tech firms – Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft – have acquired over 500 firms in the last decade alone. Simultaneously, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have failed to bring antitrust cases against companies, because they focus on what’s known as the consumer welfare standard.

As long as companies claim that a merger will reduce prices for consumers, it is allowed. The only problem is that in 95% of cases, prices actually rice following a merger. This is because when competition withers away, companies become price makers and dictate what you pay for their goods or services.

Every day the average American transfers a little of their paycheck to monopolists and oligopolists. If you’re wondering why inequality is so high, it is because the wealthy own the toll roads of American life and everyone else must pay to use them.

Inequality is a symptom, not the disease. The true disease is industry concentration. This matters to everyone and the stakes could not be higher. Industry consolidation helps explain why economic growth is anemic despite trillions of dollars of federal debt and money printing, why the number of startups has declined, and why workers are losing out with lower wages.

We need vigorous antitrust enforcement to return America to a period where competition created higher economic growth, more jobs, higher wages, and a level playing field for all.

Some senators have already begun to act. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has introduced a bill called the Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act to expand antitrust enforcement.

This bill also has support from Republicans, like Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act aims to reform corporate governance by having 40% of board seats elected by workers, among other measures. Republican Senator-elect Josh Hawley of Missouri wants to go after big tech companies and hold them to account.

This will be a key issue of the 2020 elections and we hope our book “The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition” will help inform, educate, and agitate you into action.

It’s time to restore competition and promote an economy that WORKS FOR ALL.

You can learn more at www.mythofcapitalism.com.

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Note: This video was first published on Facebook by the Now This Election page. The transcript is ours.

Modern Inequality: Statistical Challenge or Global Disaster

Modern Inequality: Statistical Challenge or Global Disaster

Modern Inequality is also known as the gap between rich and poor, income inequality, wealth disparity, etc. The term usually refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society, but can also refer to inequality among countries, and includes sub-terms like “equality of income” and “equality of opportunities”.

As John W. Schoen, from NBC News says, the real question here is “whether the playing field is level. Equality of opportunity isn’t just a matter of fairness. No society can expect to thrive if it doesn’t fully tap the talent and ability of its entire workforce — including those who happen to be born poor.

In 2009 a group of University of York academics stated and demonstrated that “income inequality is bad for our health, well-being, and welfare”. But why this issue can be considered a global disaster?

• Scientists have confirmed that inequality has psychosocial effects causing insecurities about social status, with knock-on effects for stress levels, cognitive performance and emotional stability.
• Greater inequality leads to shorter spells of economic expansion and more frequent to severe boom-bust cycles.
• We live in a society where the wealthiest seem to have better luck tipping the playing field in their favor. Wealth generates access to those who make the rules; those rules can be written to further generate more wealth for the wealthy.
• Privatization and the doctrine of maximizing value for shareholders have increased the amount of economic activity focused on extracting the largest possible short-term profit.
• Increasing inequality depresses demand since consumption levels depend more on the wages of those at the lower end of the income scale than the profits of the wealthy.
• We are increasingly unhealthy with the growing difference in life expectancy between rich and poor areas.
• Even in the most developed countries, households rely increasingly on debt to maintain their lifestyles with rising asset prices, especially in residential housing, worsening this.
• We live in an era of unprecedented prosperity, comfort, and extravagance, yet we find ourselves more isolated and unhappy than ever.

We strongly recommend visiting the Inequality.org website where you can find a lot of graphics and diagrams supporting the facts we’re bringing below.

Tracking levels of world inequality can pose a variety of statistical challenges for researchers. Different nations, for starters, tally income and wealth in different ways, and some nations barely tally reliable stats at all.

The share of the global population defined as “poor” — those making less than $2/day — has fallen since 2001 by nearly half, to 15 percent. Overall, the world has become “wealthier” compared to the turn of the millennium. Notably, those in the middle-income bracket making between $10 and $20/day have nearly doubled their global presence, from 7 to 13 percent.

Good News? Yes, of course…, but please keep reading.

Nearly three-quarters of the world’s adults own under $10,000 in wealth. This 71 percent of the world holds only 3 percent of global wealth. The world’s wealthiest individuals, those owning over $100,000 in assets, total only 8.1 percent of the global population but own 84.6 percent of global wealth.

Western and European countries host the lion’s share of the world’s millionaires. Some 78 percent of the world’s millionaires reside in Europe or North America, with nearly half of these millionaires calling the United State home. The only non-Western nations with a significant share of millionaires: the industrial powerhouses Japan, China, and Taiwan.

Ultra high net worth individuals” — the wealth management industry’s term of art for deep pockets worth more than $30 million — hold an astoundingly disproportionate share of global wealth. These wealth owners own 12.8 percent of the total global wealth, yet represent only a tiny fraction of the world population.

The world’s 10 richest billionaires, according to Forbes, own $505 billion in combined wealth, a sum greater than the total goods and services most nations produce on an annual basis.

Wealth disparity in the United States is running twice as wide — and more — as wealth gaps in the rest of the industrial world.

The top 1 percent in the United States hold an average $15 million in wealth, a total only comparable to the prosperous microstate of Luxembourg. No other nation’s top 1 percent own even half of the wealth the top 1 percent’s in the United States and Luxembourg hold.

Capemini and RBC Wealth Management define a “high net worth individual” as someone with at least $1 million in assets”. The vast bulk of the world’s millionaires holds less than $5 million.

A small share of the world’s millionaire population holds a large majority of world millionaire wealth.

The United States dominates the global population of high net worth individuals, with over 4.3 million individuals owning at least $1 million in financial assets (not including their primary residence or consumer goods).

The United States has become home to more than twice as many adults with at least $50 million in assets as the next five nations with the most super-rich combined.

The middle class in the United States has less than half the wealth share of middle classes in much of the rest of the developed world.

As of March 2016, Forbes reported that the world hosted 1,810 billionaires, over double the 793 billionaires Forbes counted in 2009, at the depth of the Great Recession. These 1,810 billionaires together hold $6.5 trillion in wealth.

The 3.4 billion adults in the world with less than $10,000 to their name, Credit Suisse noted in October 2015, together hold $7.4 trillion in net worth, a $200 billion decrease from the previous year’s estimate of $7.6 trillion net worth.

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Summarizing

This above-described situation is ineffective and unsustainable: the pursuit of higher returns for the already wealthy cannot persist forever. With wealth refusing year on year to trickle down, debt has been used to plug the wage-consumption gap for the rest. This is also very dangerous…, like a time bomb.

Technology Ends Poverty, but Where is the Trick?

Technology Ends Poverty, but Where is the Trick?

Technology allows many things today that were inconceivable or impractical in the past. Bringing new technologies into play and creating partnerships is essential in the plan to end extreme poverty. However, there is still a long way to go. Creating apps or funny gadgets just for the sake of having them is not what will help the world achieve the overall objective of ending poverty.

Advances have indeed made a huge difference in the lives of the poor, but there’s also a healthy amount of skepticism out here, and some very respectful people are calling out naïve or inappropriate uses of information and communication technologies.

Kentaro Toyama, a Professor of Michigan School of Information, warned us about the extra excitement about this theme: “Technology -no matter how well designed- is only a magnifier of human intent and capacity. It is not a substitute. If you have a foundation of competent, well-intentioned people, then the appropriate technology can amplify their capacity and lead to amazing achievements. But, in circumstances with negative human intent, as in the case of corrupt government bureaucrats, or minimal capacity, as in the case of people who have been denied a basic education, no amount of technology will turn things around”.

In their bestseller “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think”, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler demonstrated that “higher productivity associated with the falling cost of technology is leading us to a world of plenty”.

But the real trick, wrote Susan Davis in the Harvard Business Review (), “is making sure everyone shares in the coming abundance- or at least has a fair shot at doing so”. And this is very difficult to achieve in a world where most product innovations are geared toward the rich.

In Mr. Toyama’s words, “Disseminating a technology would work if, somehow, the technology did more for the poor, undereducated, and powerless than it did for the rich, well-educated, and mighty. But the theory of technology-as-magnifier leads to the opposite conclusion: the greater one’s capacity, the more technology delivers; the lesser one’s capacity, the less value technology has. In effect, technology helps the rich get richer while doing little for the incomes of the poor, thus widening the gaps between haves and have-nots”.

The myth of scale is seductive because it is easier to spread technology than to effect extensive change in social attitudes and human capacity. In other words, it is much less painful to purchase a hundred thousand PCs than to provide a real education for a hundred thousand children; it is easier to run a text-messaging health hotline than to convince people to boil water before ingesting it; it is easier to write an app that helps people find out where they can buy medicine than it is to persuade them that medicine is good for their health.”.

Based on the wide experience accumulated by BRAC (the organization she is part of), Susan Davis points to three main aspects of Social Entrepreneurship:

Invest in local innovation: The poor and marginalized may not have been to school, but that doesn’t mean they’re uneducated. They’re often experts at “frugal innovation”. Piecemeal, low-tech solutions often go further -and are more easily scaled-up-than anything dreamed up by R&D-centric outsiders”.

Grapple with the human dimensions of the problem: You need to understand not just the thrill of empowering people in principle, but the challenges in practice. You must take in account the workaday hassles easily overlooked in the excitement of helping people. One must be sensitive to the stress of uncertainty with new innovations.

Immerse yourself in the details: If you find yourself frustrated, bored, or driven to distraction by the nitty-gritty, that’s a sign you may be on the right track.

Professor Toyama goes a step further, when states:

My point is not that technology is useless. To the extent that we are willing and able to put technology to positive ends, it has a positive effect… the value of a technology remains contingent on the motivations and abilities of organizations applying it—villagers must be organized, content must be produced, and instructors must be trained… In other words, disseminating technology is easy; nurturing human capacity and human institutions that put it to good use is the crux.”

Making the Case for Overseas Aid. Debunking the Myths

Making the Case for Overseas Aid. Debunking the Myths

Back in 2011, Jamie Drummond wrote a great piece of content about Overseas Aid in response to Ian Birrell’s article in the Daily Mall, supposedly busting the 10 “myths” that he claimed are used to justify the UK’s outstanding commitment to helping the world’s poorest people. Drummond profoundly disagreed and as a result, he built a very strong case. You can check the original article HERE.

‘Myth 1: We can afford to spend a few billion pounds to help the world’s poor’
To pretend that cutting spending on aid is the answer to Britain’s budget problems is woefully misleading. Total government spending in the last financial year was £697 billion. The government made a £850 billion commitment to our banking sector at the height of the financial crisis and we pay £44 billion annually in debt interest. The 0.56% of national income, or £8.7 billion, we currently spend on development assistance and the 0.7% we have promised would not put a significant dent in our deficit even if it were cut completely.

‘Myth 2: We must hit the UN target to give away 0.7 percent of our GNP in aid’

This was an internationally agreed commitment which was signed and reaffirmed in this very country in 2005 to global acclaim. It is Britain that leads larger developed nations on meeting this target – and the practical benefits are immense. It adds to our wealth. It plays to our strengths. It lends stature to our nation. It significantly increases our influence. It means Britain can be trusted. And it was empirically justified by analyses such as that done by the Commission for Africa. But beyond the empirical and practical, is there not something especially fundamental and dare I say sacrosanct about a promise from one developed nation to the very poorest people in the world?

 

‘Myth 3: Aid works’
Smart aid in Africa often works extremely well. Charles Kenny’s new book ‘Getting Better’ sees an important role for aid in the hugely positive trends in global development. It helps communities stabilize themselves at the basic level of healthcare, education, infrastructure, and agriculture. This allows for society to sustain a rudimentary but viable standard of living, and creates the conditions for a decent level of economic growth. Charity – in the form of short-term handouts – can keep people alive at times of crisis but without some smart aid, combined with other policies, catalyzing longer term economic opportunity and jobs they will usually be unable to lift themselves out of poverty. Smart governmental aid is simply the next step up from a pound in the charity tin – it is the structured charitable will of the people.

Alongside other prerequisites for progress – trade and investment, improved governance, stability -smart aid plays a vital role in promoting development in the poorest countries. In Africa, in the past decade, 18 non-oil exporting countries grew at an average of 5.5% per year (good, but many would argue that’s still not fast enough). But they could not have done this without debt cancellation and aid. Ghana and Zambia are now classified as lower-middle-income countries, a fact that should be celebrated, and the role of foreign assistance has been acknowledged as an important part of the equation.

‘Myth 4: OK, it hasn’t worked in the past, but it will in the future’

We know that in the Cold War era aid was given more to win friends and influence people than to help tackle poverty and save lives. Too much emphasis was put on paternalistic handouts. Back then results weren’t tracked, and aid was often tied to Western companies in ways that significantly reduced its effectiveness. That’s the bad old aid approach we’ve been shaking off ever since and especially since the advent of the Millennium Development Goals.

The UK has been at the forefront of this smart aid revolution that is demanding transparency and results and is improving efforts to ensure that there is accountability to both taxpayers in rich countries and crucially the poor in developing countries. ONE is campaigning to ensure that all donors publish their aid spending data in an easily comparable format. Aid has improved and so have the results.

‘Myth 5: We will ensure 100 pence of value for every £1 spent on aid’

Value for money is not a principle to be scorned at – taxpayers want it, donors want it and poor people need it. That’s why the British Government has conducted a thorough review of all its spending, rooting out the least effective and asking all its country offices to be clear in what they can deliver in return for taxpayers’ money. A new Independent Commission on Aid Impact will evaluate whether those targets are being met.

A rigorous focus on results is also helping to increase value for money in other parts of the system. Innovative programs like the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI), which deploys private sector expertise, are closely monitoring what they can achieve with every penny of their budget. Over the next 5 years, for example, GAVI will spend $4.3 billion on vaccinating 250 million children and save over 4 million lives as a result. This is just one example – but what a magnificent result.

‘Myth 6: Aid changes the world for the better’

Poverty clearly will not be solved by aid alone, but what smart aid can do is help create the conditions needed for sustainable economic growth. And that means a well-fed, healthy and educated workforce. This is happening throughout Africa, which last year according to McKinsey had more discretionary spending than Russia or India. This is the story – backed by statistics – of an ‘Africa Rising’. But clearly, there’s still a story in countries like Somalia and Ethiopia of an ‘Africa starving’. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the great progress and only focus on the challenges that remain. The world has changed. This century’s giants will be China, India, and Brazil – but an integrated Africa will also be a leader. By supporting this trend through smart aid within a broader strategic development partnership Britain is in pole position to benefit from Africa’s progress.

‘Myth 7: The slew of statistics prove that aid is a success’
It is a very twisted sort of cynicism that dismisses hard factual evidence of development progress as ‘grief-stained’ and a ‘stunt’. These statistics are real and are worth repeating. The number of deaths of children under the age of five declined from 12.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009, which means nearly 12,000 fewer children die each day. Much of that decline has happened in the last five years since campaigns like Make Poverty History called for increased investments in vaccinations and anti-malarial bed nets. Increased funding and intensive control efforts have cut deaths from malaria by 20 per cent worldwide – from nearly 985,000 in 2000 to 781,000 in 2009, with most of the decline concentrated in 12 African countries. New HIV infections have also declined steadily. In 2009, 2.6 million people were newly infected with HIV – a 21 percent drop since infections peaked in 1997. The number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy has increased 13-fold from 2004 to 2009 with 5 million Africans in need now on life preserving antiretroviral therapy. That is down to effective, innovative and donor-supported mechanisms such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. From 1990-2008 an estimated 1.1 billion people in urban areas and 723 million people in rural areas gained access to an improved drinking water source. Primary school enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 18% between 1999 and 2009, the best improvement of any region. It is absurd to argue that aid played no part in making these staggering statistics of progress happen.

‘Myth 8: Britain will no longer tolerate misspending of funds’

Badly spent aid is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. But let’s not kid ourselves that corruption can be eradicated overnight, or that inefficiency and human error can be banished in aid any more than it can in other endeavors. What can be done is to make it as difficult as possible for money to go missing, through maximum transparency and severe sentences for those caught stealing or corrupting. Initiatives like citizen report cards can make sure feedback loops operate to improve efficiency. The Independent Commission on Aid Impact will help with this. Its board includes fearless anti-corruption activists, and hard-headed accountants to crunch the numbers and crush the perpetrators. But while problems remain, the majority of aid is now spent effectively – which is why we are seeing such significant results.

‘Myth 9: Aid is in our interest to prevent immigration’

People don’t like to leave their own countries and families. They do so only because they are driven to out of necessity. If a country thrives and gives its people access to jobs and a livelihood the population are much less likely to leave. It is clear that the way to prevent immigration is to help countries develop, grow and thrive. It is unarguable that there are practical and self-interested reasons to support spending on smart and effective aid programs.

‘Myth 10: Developing nations are desperate to be saved’

Aid alone cannot ‘save’ a country. It pump-primes progress by helping the growth drivers of a national economy – its people – stabilize themselves. Africa is building itself up with a little help from its friends. And it is very good news for our mutual futures that Britain in particular – as it has demonstrated admirably and endlessly in the public, private and political sphere – means what it says and has been a true ally.

Africa’s economies are growing strongly, they are attracting private investment, spawning new technologies and are home to a burgeoning middle-class of consumers and entrepreneurs. This is not the activists speaking. This is the hard boiled analysts of McKinsey and the harder-nosed investors now pouring their vast billions of investment money into Africa. For example, Helios announced last month that their £900 million African private equity fund is ready to go. This is a story of ‘Africa Rising’ and it is being told by African citizens like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ory Okolloh and Rakesh Rajani – not well-meaning Western hand-wringers. Yet it is essential to understand the supportive and transitional role that smart aid has played, and will continue to play, in this process.

So the pragmatic view based on solid analysis is that aid supports countries through tough times, helps them build up systems and expertise, and as soon as possible puts itself out of business. In fact, if there’s one thing that both the skeptics and those that support evidence-based spending on aid can agree on, it is that the world without aid is the ultimate goal.

This blog post was originally published on the Huffington Post   Featured picture was added by Neo Citizens Editors