Democrats & Liberals Archives

Book Review: The Global Class War

“The Global Class War,” by Jeff Faux, former president of the Economic Policy Institute, claims that the rich and elite - in all countries - are in a class war with the rest of us, everywhere. They use globalization as a tool to reduce wages around the world and to make themselves excessively rich. They disengage themselves from their governments to act independently as a meta-government - WTO - dictating terms of behavior to normal national governments. Amazingly, WTO can overturn democratically-arrived-at laws in the U.S.!

Globalizers are always talking about "reform." According to Faux, this a codeword for:

"Lifting restrictions on foreign ownership, privatizing state owned utilities and other industries, lowering business taxes, and weakening labor unions and the social safety net to keep wages and costs down."

In plain language, "reform" means strengthening multinationals and weakening workers. The author also tells us what is meant by "economic freedom":

"But in the world of the Washington Consensus, economic freedom refers to the freedom of only one type of economic actor - the investor."

"Economic freedom" and "reform" have brought us NAFTA. Before passage, they promised the elimination of extreme poverty in Mexico, jobs to both Mexico and U.S. workers, and increases in wages. What we have are outsourcing of jobs to maquilidoras (Mexican sweatshops) by big corporations and an increase in extreme poverty in Mexico. It has not produced jobs for Americans. We know the results for Mexicans is worse than before because we have increased immigration. Why would a Mexican worker take his life in his hands to sneak into the U.S. if he has a decent job?

The governing class, as the author calls the rich and powerful, talks a lot about competition. U.S. needs to be more competitive with respect to other nations, they keep saying. This is false propaganda. The conflict is not so much between one country and another as between the governing classes in all countries against everyone else who must depend on multinationals for their jobs and livelihood. This is the true class war - the global class war.

The governing-class propaganda often argues that you are either for free trade or protectionism. Again, this is a false choice. The globalization offered by big multinationals is not free trade. It is the opposite of free trade. Our government has approved the World Trade Organization (WTO) that settles all trade disputes. Allow me to quote Faux:

"In the weeks before the vote on the WTO, Ralph Nader challenged any member of Congress to read the agreement and then answer ten questions posed by an independent journalist. He offered to give $10,000 to the member's favorite charity if he answered the questions correctly. Senator Hank Brown, a Republican from Colorado, who was prepared to vote for the WTO, took Nader's challenge. He scored 100 in the test, and after reading the agreement, voted against it. 'Anyone who thinks this agreement expands free trade,' he said, 'has not read it.'"

The WTO is something like a constitution that rules over all countries that sign on. It is run by Big Business to serve the needs of Big Business. It sets limits on governments and tells them what they can do and what they cannot do. The WTO forbids governments from favoring domestic suppliers, and prohibiting the entry of unsafe or immoral products. "It prohibits laws protecting workers or the environment or public health that interfere with the freedom of the corporation to invest, buy or sell."

So, multinationals are building a world government run by them. Only businesspeople have a say. The rest of us do not count. And we keep helping the destruction of our democratic government by pushing laissez-faire.

The author does not offer much in the way of solution. I think we should get rid of WTO and establish an organization that considers workers, the environment and social conditions as well as business factors. And it should not be allowed to modify American law. A globalization that considers the needs of all aspects of society will get rid of the global class war.

Posted by Paul Siegel at June 21, 2006 6:03 PM
Comments
Comment #160124

Congress just voted down the minimum wage. maybe we should do this in Iraq?

Posted by: meas at June 21, 2006 6:27 PM
Comment #160143

This does sound a little too much like communism, but it sounds true. Is there really any doubt Bush and the republicans want to transfer as much wealth as possible to the super-rich and mega-corporations, and dismantle any laws protecting the environment?
Is there any hope to fight against this?

Posted by: john at June 21, 2006 7:05 PM
Comment #160153

Great article Paul. I was just reading some articles on EPI”s website after reading Walker’s article on the minimum wage.

I can’t say I was surprised to read this:
“CEO-worker pay imbalance grows
In 2005, the average CEO in the United States earned 262 times the pay of the average worker, the second-highest level of this ratio in the 40 years for which there are data. In 2005, a CEO earned more in one workday (there are 260 in a year) than an average worker earned in 52 weeks.”

It’s important to know also that they’re placing the average workers income at $41,861. I can guarantee you that’s considerably more than the average factory worker or construction worker, not to mention the cafeteria workers, etc. The disparity is huge and widening more every day it would seem.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at June 21, 2006 7:21 PM
Comment #160154

Corpocrisy and Corporatism is just one of the many symptoms of a society that grows increasingly corrupt, and fiscally and morally bankrupt …

So many problems.
So many issues.
So many symptoms of one root cause.
Yet, it eludes us.
We can’t see the forest for the trees.
A solution is unlikely until enough people understand the Problem.

Many of the solutions suggest here daily would simply fall into place if enough people concentrated on the root. problem first.

Posted by: d.a.n at June 21, 2006 7:27 PM
Comment #160156

I see PC (Political Class) people !

  • Stop Repeat Offenders.
  • Don’t Re-Elect Them !
Posted by: d.a.n at June 21, 2006 7:29 PM
Comment #160160

Hi. This is an issue that doesn’t seem to get much attention on these boards or within public debate, generally, but it is the issue of our time. What is happening in countries throughout Latin America, Africa, SE Asia, the Middle East that have been forced to adopt a particular—not system—but ideology, that of neoliberal economic theory (yes it is theory not a natural or scientific fact of life), is truly disgraceful. Imposed through the World Bank and the IMF (I simply cannot believe that Paul Wolfowitz was allowed to become its president!?) the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) attached to desperately needed loans to the poorest people in the world: undermine the very essence of democratic governance and individual human rights; degrade the environment to a point that humans who have relied on the seas or fields for centuries for their livelihood and sustinance cannot feed themselves nor afford to buy imported food—and water; have only increased the gap between the top and bottom 20% wealthiest people in the world—on every nation on earth. Yet what is most infuriating is that, really, the process and condition of globalization is really imposed on all of us, by and for a select group who have seemingly put faith in ideology firmly in place of the reality of their beliefs. Mr. Siegal raises many relevant points in his post, and I’ll check this book out. I really do encourage us all to educate ourselves about the power of transnational corporations, and the institutions working solely on their behalf, all in the name of progress, yet detrimental by every empirical measure to a vast majority of the world’s population. If there is to be any semblance of truth, of justice, here on earth, people, especially those living in the industrialized West (now, North), are going to have to make sacrifices, stop believing our own hype, and force the TNCs, IMF, World Bank and others to change.

Posted by: marc wolin at June 21, 2006 7:36 PM
Comment #160167

I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything, but things like these make you wonder if there really is a group of people trying to keep the world in the state it’s in, always at war, with the super-rich in power, etc. I guess it is these global corporations.

“So many problems.
So many issues.
So many symptoms of one root cause.
Yet, it eludes us.
We can’t see the forest for the trees.
A solution is unlikely until enough people understand the Problem.

Many of the solutions suggest here daily would simply fall into place if enough people concentrated on the root. problem first.”

Well the problem is of course the neocons and their ideology. Progressives want to make the world a better place to live in, republicans are about profit and power (at the expense of everyone else).

Posted by: john at June 21, 2006 7:52 PM
Comment #160197

John,

It’s more basic than that.
It’s not one party.
It’s us.
It’s all parties.
It’s greed.
It’s the human factor.

It can be dealt with.
But, only with sufficient education.

Posted by: d.a.n at June 21, 2006 9:10 PM
Comment #160229

Education is a start D. but it has to go farther and faster, worldwide. This is why I laugh anymore when I hear the Conservatives talk about “big government” whilst agreeing with the corprate whores who are the true villians taking our rights away.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 21, 2006 9:55 PM
Comment #160231

What a coincidence Im watching Glenn Beck compare capitalism to facism, communism, socialism, as if it was a form of government. Scary.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 21, 2006 9:57 PM
Comment #160255

—Paul - I watched the Congress an Senate just before the vote on W T O both houses were all in the chamber having four or five of the Nations best college Professors explaining the most important parts of the thousands of pages containing W T O along with thousand of NAFTA an GAT. The final statement was !Every state had to vote an win with 3/4 yes vote in every state their by making America an un-sovereign nation. I watched this on C-Span. My question to you is, do you think all these new laws being enacted are designed to bypass THIS very important vote by the citizens of America.

Posted by: DAVID at June 21, 2006 10:51 PM
Comment #160314

In my state we are doing some huge bridge retro-fits. My state assembly woman,a liberal Democrat, got a law through the legislature that required we use US made steel on these jobs. The governor,a Democrat, vetoed it saying it would be overturned by the WTO. Those that opposed the law were saying that they would even have to build a new steel mill and actually hire Americans if the law had gotten through. Guess we can’t have any of that.F—- that. Its our tax dollars and if we want to spend it creating real jobs for Americans we should be able too.

The Port of Oakland bought four huge cranes from China. I mean so huge that they had to wait for low tide to get them under the Golden Gate Bridge. They are all sitting in a row now looking all the world like giant trojan horses.
The funny part was when the longshoremens union said they could use the Chinese techs they brought with them to set up the cranes but they had to pay them longshoremans wages. I hope they got to keep most of it themselves. It was like 20 times what they are used to.
This is an issue liberals and real conservatives should be able to unite around although the real solution,the only solution,is to empower workers around the world. Unionism is not communism but most conservatives are gun shy about it. Fact is, for economic justice there has to be a conterbalance to corporate power strong
enough to be taken seriously.

Posted by: BillS at June 22, 2006 12:58 AM
Comment #160317

Before our right wing contributers chime in that Clinton did it too,yea,we know.

Posted by: BillS at June 22, 2006 1:08 AM
Comment #160382


Paul: Excelent post, I have done a lot of ranting on this subject.

BillS: They are going to call us commies. They will viciously attack the book and Faux or they will ignore this post completely.

If I could, I would shut down the WTO, the world bank and wall street. I would also break the corporations into individual companys. We need entrepreneurs and we don’t need the capitalists royality.

How do we go about convincing the American people who are addicted to there latest new gadget that if they allow the wealthy to continue this scheme they will eventually all be slaves.

Posted by: jlw at June 22, 2006 7:29 AM
Comment #160401

“I think you have the annoying habit”

Annoying? Hmmm, I’d say informing. Why would information annoy anyone? I suppose though anything that serves to debunk the conservative “spin” would tend to “annoy” a conservative.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at June 22, 2006 9:03 AM
Comment #160402


RobertM: Have you noticed that they are succeding in convincing the Chinese government officials that they can be rich and still lord it over their people? Have you noticed that the administration is keeping the size of our military small while using our national guard to fight an overseas war that is supposedly vital to the survival of our nation?

Posted by: jlw at June 22, 2006 9:12 AM
Comment #160412

The thesis put forward by this book and by extension Paul Siegel is so obviously true, that it is difficult to see how so many can disagree. The driving rationale of Globalism is to have goods produced at the lowest possible cost. As we have seen now for many years, western jobs are being exported to low wage economies with lax or no labour or environmental laws. This means that the corporations producing these goods can pay starvation wages and despoil the planet in order to keep costs down. There are two immediate winners in this situation,at least in the short term - the corporations, and the consumers. However, in the medium to long term, the consumers who drive the market will have either lost their jobs, or seen their pay rates drop so low, that they can no longer afford to be consumers!

This business of Globalism is at heart a race to the bottom, with global capital rapaciously pursuing maximised profits in the here and now, and to hell with tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a capitalist myself, but as such, I still recognise that capitalism cannot be allowed to operate totally unfettered. A former British (Conservative) Prime Minister, Ted Heath spoke of the unacceptable face of capitalism. May I suggest that capitalism should exist to serve the common good, and not the common good to serve capitalism? The day we allow our political leaders to pander to and prostrate themselves to TNC’s is the day we surrender our hard won liberites. Roll on the revolution!

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at June 22, 2006 10:00 AM
Comment #160486


JC: Today, the class war is on CSPAN.

Posted by: jlw at June 22, 2006 2:05 PM
Comment #160563

I have removed a number of comments from this thread that were not on topic for this article. Please familiarize yourselves with our Participation Rules.

Posted by: WatchBlog Managing Editor at June 22, 2006 4:24 PM
Comment #160567

Watchblog Managing Editor You can remove my statements but you can not remove the truth in my statements.This is your version of free speach I suppose?

Posted by: lookingout at June 22, 2006 4:31 PM
Comment #160574

lookingout, this is our policy. Don’t want to abide by it, there are others which can accomodate you. If you wish to discuss this further, take it to private email: managing-editor@watchblog.com.

Posted by: WatchBlog Managing Editor at June 22, 2006 4:37 PM
Comment #160581

I’m middle class. Funny how I’m not being affected by this war… neither is anyone I know.

Odd, That…

Unless, of course, someone is mistaking normal human greed for some sort of conspiracy. But I doubt anyone could do that without being at least a little bit hypocritical.

Posted by: TheTraveler at June 22, 2006 4:50 PM
Comment #160595

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

Don’t worry Traveller your turn will come.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at June 22, 2006 5:19 PM
Comment #160616

Traveler: If you are not being affected then You have no loved ones fighting it and it is being paid for with bad checks for our children to pay off. Or it will be paid off with our Social Security money.
apoligies for being off thread,that needed an answer

Posted by: BillS at June 22, 2006 6:07 PM
Comment #160631


Isn’t globalization the same thing as the new world order.

Posted by: jlw at June 22, 2006 6:30 PM
Comment #160642

Paul,

That kind of stuff doesn’t happen on this side of the pond.

BillS,

That didn’t really make sense, but I’m guessing you’re talking about out of control government spending?
If so, I agree it’s a problem, but you’re confusing stupidity with a conspiracy.

Sorry guys; I guess I left my tin foil hat home today…

Posted by: TheTraveler at June 22, 2006 6:39 PM
Comment #160668

Traveller, it didn’t happen on this side of the pond either, until it happened. I think that was the point Niemoller was trying to make. The point I was trying to make was not that it is a vicious nazi regime now, but that it is a creeping form of takeover of civil society by a small number of extremely wealthy and powerful people. Do we need entrepreneurial and ambitious people? Without question. But we also need to ensure that their need for a supportive environment is not used to give them carte blanche to do whatever they wish, regardless of the impact on the wider society. Ambition and enterprise must indeed be rewarded; untrammeled greed must be rooted out.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at June 22, 2006 7:41 PM
Comment #160678

it didn’t happen on this side of the pond either, until it happened.

It won’t happen here at all. Not while I’m around…

Secondly, I agree with the rest of what you say. My point is that we don’t need off the wall conspiracy theories to explain simple problems.

Such theories are a political trick designed to fool the willfully blind.

Take this article, for example. Paul complains about a conspiracy of the rich, even though the party he supports is run (and paid for) by some of the biggest plutocrats in the country, if not the world.

Posted by: TheTraveler at June 22, 2006 7:56 PM
Comment #160686

Traveller, not all the rich have a completely self centered view of the world. Am I right in saying that Bill Gates said he didn’t need a tax refund along with many other wealthy individuals? And isn’t it strange, the massive wealth that has been generated in the US and many other countries with the generous investment in the people of far seeing governments? By contrast, before there was a balance of forces in the western economies, you had mostly the rich, a smaller professional class and toiling untermensch. Come to think of it, isn’t that looking like what we will face in the future with the final victory of globalism?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at June 22, 2006 8:14 PM
Comment #160785

Paul in Euroland,

Thanks for the Niemöller quote. It really can’t be repeated enough. I recently fielded an assault from all sides and the last assault was along the lines of, “can you say it’s actually effected you”?

I hope I’m never foolish enough to wait until a bad practice effects me personally before I say something.

Anyway, Kudos to you!

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at June 22, 2006 10:47 PM
Comment #160807

traveler:
To clarify.You would be noticably effected by the war if its expense was not just being tacked on to the deficit. Your taxes would increase,you and your community would recieve fewer services(ie.money for that new sewer plant,bridge repair etc.)You might even be asked to buy war bonds. Sooner or later we will have to pay for it. Putting it off for now does not mean we are not effected.

Posted by: BillS at June 22, 2006 11:49 PM
Comment #160822

—Paul, appears History has come back sooner than I expected. Your post was debated some years ago by at least 15 Senators and Congressmen and women. I watched all the debates on WTO NAFTA an GATT debates. These most brave 15 Bryon Dorgan-Marcy Kaptur- Robert Byrd-just some of these All tried to defeat these monstrous beginnings of world domination by stating just about every Item in your post. They all gave the same arguments for several weeks while Robert Byrd filibustered to no avail. I hope more citizens pay attention to your post than they did back then,

Posted by: DAVID at June 23, 2006 12:30 AM
Comment #160828

—I should have said Robert Byrd filibustered and spoke against NAFTA an GATT an WTO.

Posted by: DAVID at June 23, 2006 12:50 AM
Comment #161162

knowlege is power the rich have more than they want to share,the kind of knowlege you can’t find in books,it seems that we are becoming more complacient, and retarded every generation over
thats how they like us for example when we take vacations to less fortunate countries most of the time we are shown only the rosiest sides
i take time to see the state of poverty, that usually goes together with the same amount of ignorance,unsuspecting victims of their most powerful masters, they know there is a serious problem but they cannot clearly make out the true cause of their disgrace, they speak incohearent words mixing up ideas
ignorance is not bliss,is a state of brain paralitic syndrome you think you think but you really don’t, and can’t understand or make anything out of unrefutable evidence and truth
it takes many generations to aquire true knowlege
and only one or two to loose it
i just hope those who know, know that it is their future descendants who will pay the price of knowing that the one who knew did not care
this may be the couse of some revolution
don’t you think?

Posted by: joe ray at June 23, 2006 10:45 PM
Comment #161337

Can I have some of what you’re taking joe ray?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at June 24, 2006 5:18 PM
Comment #197400

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2 December 2006
For immediate release
Contact: see bottom of page

In the ‘I’ of the Storm facilitates good writing & speaking
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In December 2004, the United States National Commission on Writing reported that businesses were spending $3.1 billion a year to teach employees to write clearly. According to Philip Yaffe, “Most of it is probably being wasted”.

A former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant, Mr Yaffe teaches a course in good writing and good public speaking in Brussels, Belgium. Because most of his clients speak English as a second or third language, his approach appears to be rather different from conventional coaches.

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“The problem with most writing courses and books is that they concentrate on use of the language and not on the fundamentals,” Mr Yaffe says.

For example, almost everyone agrees that good writing must be “clear” and “concise”. But how can you know if it really is?

“The fact that a writer feels a text is clear and concise has no value. It should seem clear and concise to him; after all, he wrote it. But is it clear and concise to everyone else?”

Perhaps surprisingly, Mr Yaffe reveals that there are objective tests for clarity and conciseness. “If the text fails these tests, then it needs to be revised. If it passes them, then—and only then—should you look at the details of the language to make a good piece of writing even better.”

He also talks about a third pillar of good writing: density. “This is a factor that hardly anyone ever mentions; however, it is just as important as clarity and conciseness. And can also be objectively tested.”

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In the ‘I’ of the Storm is available either in a print version or electronic version from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (www.Storypublishers.be).

For further information or to request a review copy, please contact:

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