On The Monitor this week: Venezuela in detail and in context.
This week’s guests discuss events in Venezuela. First up is Abby Martin taking a close look at recent events in Venezuela. She is followed by John Perkins who casts a wider historical net to put those events in a broader context.
More about this week’s guests:
Abby Martin is a journalist, artist, and presenter of The Empire Files, an investigative news program on teleSUR English and YouTube. She was formerly the host of Breaking the Set on RT America network, working from the Washington, D.C. bureau. She also worked for two years as a correspondent for RT America.
Martin is the founder of the citizen journalism website Media Roots. She serves on the board of directors for the Media Freedom Foundation which manages Project Censored. Martin appeared in the documentary film Project Censored The Movie: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News (2013), and co-directed 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (2013).
John Perkins was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm where advised the World Bank, United Nations, IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and leaders of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He is the author of several books. The most recent is The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2016), a follow-up to his bestseller Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man which spent 73 weeks on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list and has been translated into 32 languages. It, along with his other books, The Secret History of the American Empire (also a New York Times bestseller) and Hoodwinked, were ground-breaking exposés of the clandestine operations that created the current global crises; they set the stage for the revelations and strategies detailed in The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
John is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit, has lectured at Harvard, Oxford, and more than 50 other universities around the world, and has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, CNBC, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications, as well as in numerous documentaries including The End Of Poverty, Zeitgeist Addendum, and Apology Of An Economic Hit Man. He was awarded the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace in 2012, and the Rainforest Action Network Challenging Business As Usual Award in 2006.
- On the Cynicism of the Clinton Foundation with Ken Silverstein
- On America’s Racial Wealth Divide with Josh Hoxie
Josh Hoxie is the director of the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies. Josh joined the Institute for Policy Studies in August 2014 heading up the Project on Opportunity and Taxation. Josh’s main focus is on addressing wealth inequality through the estate tax, a levy on the intergenerational transfer of immense wealth. Josh grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and attained a BA in Political Science and Economics from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.
Josh worked previously as a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the longest serving independent in Congressional history, both in his office in Washington, DC and on his successful 2012 re-election campaign.
According to a new report, it would take the average black family 228 years to accrue the same amount of wealth that white families have today. The report is called The Ever-Growing Gap: Failing to Address the Status Quo Will Drive the Racial Wealth Divide for Centuries to Come . Josh is one of the main authors. You can read analysis of the report here by Chuck Collins (senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good (www.inequality.org) and Dedrick Asante-Muhammed (director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Enterprise Development).
The report release coincided with the 2nd anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO. police officer, which spawned the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for racial justice across all segments of society. Here’s a summary of key findings within the report:
- “If current federal wealth-building policies remain in place, it will take the average African-American family 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth that white families have today and it will take Latino families 84 years to reach that goal
- “By 2043, when households of color will constitute a majority of the U.S. population, the racial wealth divide between white households and African- American and Latino households will have doubled from about $500,000 in 2013 to $1 million.
- “The Forbes 400 will see their average wealth skyrocket to $48 billion by 2043—more than eight times the amount they hold today. During that same period, the average wealth for white families will increase by 84% to $1.2 million compared to $165,000 for Latino families (69% growth) and $108,000 for African-American households (27% growth).”
The Corporation for Enterprise Development and IPS call for a range of reforms to address the problem, including fixing an “upside down” tax system that currently doles out more than half a trillion dollars annually to help primarily wealthy households get wealthier, while providing almost nothing to lower-income households.
On The Monitor this week:
- Wendell Potter discusses his book Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts our Democracy and What We can do about it
- Money and Musicals – Gerald Horne on Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, and Harriet Tubman
More about this week’s guests:
Following a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Wendell left his position as VP of Communications for Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, to advocate for meaningful health care reform and to help organizations working for the greater good achieve their goals. In widely covered Congressional hearings, Wendell disclosed how insurance companies, to boost profits, engage in practices that have forced millions of Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, and use deceptive PR tactics to undermine health care reform.
His book, “Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks out on how Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans,” is a stark warning that corporate spin is distorting our democracy. Wendell is also the author of “Obamacare: What’s in it for me? What everyone needs to know about the Affordable Care Act.” Wendell is a regular contributor for The Huffington Post and HealthInsurance.org.
Wendell’s latest book, coauthored by Nick Penniman is “Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do about It,” which exposes legalized corruption and links it to kitchen-table issues citizens face every day.
Gerald Horne holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. His research has addressed issues of racism in a variety of contexts involving labor, politics, civil rights, international relations and war. He has also written extensively about the film industry. Dr. Horne received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and his B.A. from Princeton University. Dr. Horne’s undergraduate courses include the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. History through Film. He also teaches graduate courses in Diplomatic History, Labor History and 20th Century African American History. Dr. Horne uses a variety of teaching techniques that enrich his classes and motivate students to participate.
Quote: “The U.S., as an artificially constructed former settler state, has a problem of unity — not least of all with its African American population. Many nations have to construct a mythology to achieve unity. The U.S. myth of the Founding Fathers has revolved around Washington and Jefferson, but both have been scrutinized. Alexander Hamilton is now in effect being put forward, but he was the captain of the one percent — he represented the interests of big finance at the beginning of the United States. He personified the grievances that continue, and that the Sanders campaign and — to a degree the Trump campaign — have objected to. So, if you have a multiracial, hip hop cast in this musical, you pretend we’re achieving national unity. The actual historical record is so very different. Britain was moving toward abolition, so in 1776, the slave owners rebelled. That’s in large part the origin of the United States. In terms of Alexander Hamilton the man, he migrated to the mainland from the Caribbean as the enslaved Africans became more rebellious. The elite whites could no longer control the situation though the region had been considered the crown jewel of the British empire in this hemisphere. His coming to what became the U.S. was actually an example of what we’d call white flight. Much of our political climate is continuously obscured because we still haven’t come to terms with the racist and economic realities of the United States from its origin. That allows for many poor whites to align politically with white elites rather than with black folks.”
Among his most recent publications
- Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow, 2014.
- The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, 2014.
- Black Revolutionary: William Patterson and the Globalization of the African-American Freedom Struggle, 2014.
On The Monitor this week:
- Despite the Democrats shalacking in the midterms the Minimum Wage is Four for Four…in “Red States.” We talk to Peter Davis about the issue.
- As Veteran’s Day approaches, why do we keep thanking the troops? We discuss the topic with Rory Fanning.
More about this week’s guests:
Peter Davis is a campaign activist for Time for a Raise campaign, a project of Ralph Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law. He and Ralph Nader just co-wrote a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi which states: “Buried underneath the coverage of the Democrats’ second midterm ‘shalackin’ in a row is a stark public sentiment that provides a path forward for your caucuses during the upcoming lame duck session. Despite the Republican wave, a minimum wage raise passed in every state in which it was on the ballot. These were not coastal blue states: the four 2014 minimum wage ballot initiatives – for Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota — passed in Republican-dominated states which all elected Republican senators alongside the initiative. If your caucuses were to uniformly and exuberantly push for a minimum wage raise in the upcoming Congressional work session, it would transition the national media narrative away from Republican momentum in the never-ending horse race and towards whether the new Congressional leadership will be responsive to the public sentiment and needs of American workers.” See the full letter.
In August, Nader wrote the piece “Democrats Are Doomed (Unless They Make the Minimum Wage the #1 November Election Issue).”
Nader’s latest book is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Earlier this year, Nader’s office hosted a conference on left-right alliance. See video of the conference here.
“Last week, in a quiet indie bookstore on the north side of Chicago, I saw the latest issue of Rolling Stone resting on a chrome-colored plastic table a few feet from a barista brewing a vanilla latte. A cold October rain fell outside. A friend of mine grabbed the issue and began flipping through it. Knowing that I was a veteran, he said, ‘Hey, did you see this?’ pointing to a news story that seemed more like an ad. It read in part: “This Veterans Day, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Rihanna, Dave Grohl, and Metallica will be among numerous artists who will head to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on November 11th for ‘The Concert For Valor,’ an all-star event that will pay tribute to armed services.
Concert For Valor? That sounds like something the North Korean government would organize,’ I said as I typed Concertforvalor.com into my MacBook Pro looking for more information… As I read, my heart sank, my shoulders slumped. Special guests at the Concert for Valor were to include: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg. The mission of the concert, according to a press release, was to ‘raise awareness’ of veterans issues and ‘provide a national stage for ensuring that veterans and their families know that their fellow Americans’ gratitude is genuine. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen were to serve in an advisory capacity, and Starbucks, HBO, and JP Morgan Chase were to pay for it all. ‘We are honored to play a small role to help raise awareness and support for our service men and women,’ said HBO chairman Richard Plepler. Will the ‘Concert for Valor’ mention the trillions of dollars rung up terrorizing Muslim countries for oil , the ratcheting up of the police and surveillance state in this country since 9/11, the hundreds of thousands of lives lost thanks to the wars of George W. Bush and Barack Obama? Is anyone going to dedicate a song to Chelsea Manning , or John Kiriakou , or Edward Snowden — two of them languishing in prison and one in exile — for their service to the American people? Will the Concert for Valor raise anyone’s awareness when it comes to the fact that, to this day, veterans lack proper medical attention, particularly for mental health issues, or that there is a veteran suicide every 80 minutes in this country? Let’s hope they find time in between drum solos, but myself, I’m not counting on it.”
This week’s show: Welfare for Corporations, Capitalism for the rest of us.
- Walmart Pushes Workers onto Medicaid as Obamacare Architect Goes to Big Pharma — and the Blogger who Predicted Both – an interview with Marcy Wheeler
- Billions in Local Corporate Subsidies – an interview with Thomas Cafcas
More about this week’s guests:
The Huffington Post recently reported in “Walmart’s New Health Care Policy Shifts Burden To Medicaid, Obamacare” that “Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, plans to begin denying health insurance to newly hired employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week, according to a copy of the company’s policy obtained by The Huffington Post. … ‘Walmart is effectively shifting the costs of paying for its employees onto the federal government with this new plan, which is one of the problems with the way the law is structured,’ said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.”
Marcy Wheeler — who blogs at EmptyWheel.net — just wrote the piece “Walmart Takes Advantage of Health ‘Reform’ It Championed,” which states: “What HuffPo doesn’t mention in its piece on this, though, is that this is all presumably by design. Walmart, after all, was one of the partners behind the push for Obamacare. In fact, as things started to drag in summer 2009, Walmart partnered with Center for American Progress and SEIU to try to nudge the process along.”
Wheeler wrote in 2009: “The one way — just about the only way — a large employer can dodge responsibility for paying something for its employees is if its employees happen to qualify for Medicaid.
The New York Times is running a series on “incentives” companies get from governments. Critics often refer to these as subsidies — or giveaways. Two recent Times pieces are “As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price” and “Lines Blur as Texas Gives Industries a Bonanza.” The piece “When Hollywood Comes to Town” is slated for publication Tuesday. Also, see video from the Times on the “Border War” between Kansas and Missouri, as each state attempts to lure companies from the other: http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/12/01/business/100000001832941/border-war.html
Thomas Cafcas is Research Analyst at Good Jobs First. Thomas joined Good Jobs First after working as an economic development consultant analyzing demographic and economic trends for community plans primarily in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. He has also worked in land use planning and zoning in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and Texas. He holds a Bachelors and Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
About Good Jobs First:
Good Jobs First is a national policy resource center for grassroots groups and public officials, promoting corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families. We provide timely, accurate information on best practices in state and local job subsidies, and on the many ties between smart growth and good jobs. Good Jobs First works with a very broad spectrum of organizations, providing research, training, communications and consulting assistance.
Unfair taxes and unfair wages – topics for tonight’s show:
- $21 Trillion the Wealthy are Hiding: The Shocking Facts — and the Great Opportunity. An interview with James S. Henry
- Empty Anniversary: Minimum Wage Stuck as Poverty Climbs. An interview with Holly Sklar
More about our guests this week:
James S. Henry
James S. Henry is a leading economist, attorney and investigative journalist who has written extensively about global issues. He was the lead researcher for the report linked below
Mr. Henry served as Chief Economist, McKinsey & Co (NY) and VP Strategy, IBM/Lotus (Cambridge). As founder of The Sag Harbor Group, his clients have included such leading organizations as ABB, Allen & Co., Ashoka, AT&T/Bell Labs, ATKearney, Calvert Fund, Cemex, ChinaTrust, Scotland Yard/FBI Task Force on Caribbean Havens, IBM/Lotus, Intel, Oxfam GB, South Africa Telecom, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Swedish Power Board, TransAlta, and Volvo.
As an investigative journalist, Mr. Henry’s articles have appeared in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, US News, Manhattan Inc., Harpers, The Washington Monthly, Fortune, Business Week, Newsweek, Time, The Conference Board, The Tax Lawyer, Jornal do Brasil, The Manila Chronicle, La Nacion, El Financiero, and Slate. His books include, with Paul Starr and Ray Bonner, The Discarded Army – A Study of the Veterans Administration and Vietnam Veterans. (Charterhouse, 1976); Prof. Richard Caves, ed., The Economics of Competition, Ch 5: “The Impact of Acquisitions on Shareholder Value.” (1988); Banqueros y Lavadolares. (Tercer Mundo, 1996); The Internet’s Impact on Financial Services. (1999); The Blood Bankers (Basic Books, 2005); Steve Hiatt, ed., A Game As Old as Empire, Chapter V: “The Mythology of Debt Relief,” (2007); and Pirate Bankers. (forthcoming).
Quote: “First, this hidden offshore sector is large enough to make a significant difference to all of our conventional measures of inequality. Since most of missing financial wealth belongs to a tiny elite, the impact is staggering. For most countries, global financial inequality is not only much greater than we suspected, but it has been growing much faster.
“Second, the lost tax revenue implied by our estimates is huge. It is large enough to make a significant difference to the finances of many countries, especially developing countries that are now struggling to replace lost aid dollars and pay for climate change. Indeed, once we take these hidden offshore assets and the earnings they produce into account, many erstwhile ‘debtor countries’ are in fact revealed to be wealthy. But the problem is, their wealth is now offshore, in the hands of their own elites and their private bankers. Indeed, the developing world as a whole has been a significant CREDITOR of the developed world for more than a decade. That means this is really a tax justice problem, not simply a ‘debt’ problem.
“Third, it turns out that this offshore sector — which specializes in tax dodging — is basically designed and operated, not by shady no-name banks located in sultry islands, but by the world’s largest private banks, law firms, and accounting firms, headquartered in First World capitals like London, New York, and Geneva. Our detailed analysis of these banks shows that the leaders are the very same ones that have figured so prominently in government bailouts and other recent financial chicanery.
“Fourth, given all this, it is scandalous that official institutions like the Bank for International Settlements, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, and the G20, as well as leading central banks, have devoted so little research to this sector. This scandal is made worse by the fact that they already have much of the data needed to estimate this sector more carefully. For reasons of their own, they have tolerated the growth of the offshore sector for far too long, out of sight. It is time for them to live up to their promises, and work with us on concrete policies to get it under control.”
He adds however: “From another angle, this study is really good news. The world has just located a huge pile of financial wealth that might be called upon to contribute to the solution of our most pressing global problems. We have an opportunity to think not only about how to prevent some of the abuses that have led to it, but also to think about how best to make use of the untaxed earnings that it generates.”
Holly Sklar is the Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage and co-author of Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies That Work For All Of Us
Quote: “Time flies when you’re moving backward. With the federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25 an hour – just $15,080 a year — since 2009, workers now have less buying power than they did in 1997 at the start of the longest period in history without a raise. At minimum wage’s high point in value in 1968, retail workers, cooks, health aides and other minimum wage workers made $10.55 adjusted for inflation. The biggest problem for Main Street businesses is lack of customer demand. We can’t build a strong economy on downwardly mobile wages. It’s time to raise America by raising the minimum wage.”
Website: Business for a Minimum Wage
Related Article: An AP survey finds: “The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.”