Monthly Archives: February 2019

Oppression and exploitation: February 14 – 20

An outstanding article in the New York Times helps us understand how the need to use dollars in international trade and finance gives the United States great foreign policy power.
The dollar is still king. How (in the world) did that happen? Peter S. GoodmanNew York Times February 22, 2019 European countries, for example, do not agree with the U.S. policy of sanctioning Iran, but are forced to go along, so as not to lose access to U.S financial and other markets. Venezuela owns CITGO, but sanctions are preventing it from receiving money from CITGO’s sale of oil to the United States, Venezuela’s major source of money for imports, putting enormous and unjustified pressure on its people. See The power that the dollar brings to U.S. foreign policy

Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, and other luminaries were recently arrested on charges of soliciting sex. What should not be overlooked is the women involved were forced into providing sex by a multimillion-dollar human-trafficking and prostitution operation that operated internationally. See the lead article from the New York Times in our Discrimination against women 2019 page
‘The Monsters are the men’: Inside a thriving sex trafficking trade in Florida Patricia Mazzei New York Times February 23, 2019

A case study of how the United States uses its power to facilitate a change of government, called by many imperialism, is unfolding in Venezuela. See it here

Photo: Dollar bills. Credit Kim Dombrowski

The power that the dollar brings to U.S. foreign policy

This outstanding article shows how the need to use dollars in international trade and finance gives the United States great foreign policy power. European countries, for example, do not agree with the U.S. policy of sanctioning Iran, but are forced to go along, so as not to lose access to U.S financial and other markets. Venezuela owns CITGO, but sanctions are preventing it from receiving money from CITGO’s sale of oil to the United States, Venezuela’s major source of money for imports.

The dollar is still king. How (in the world) did that happen? Peter S. Goodman New York Times February 22, 2019

Photo: Dollar bills. Credit Kim Dombrowski

Cover of Moneyland by Oliver Bullogh

Moneyland by Oliver Bullogh

Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back – review Tim Adams The Guardian September 9, 2018
Oliver Bullough follows the trail of the filthy rich in this compelling, though not hopeful, study of global wealth and corruption.

Photo: Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

Limit corporate stock buybacks

Limit corporate stock buybacks Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Bernie Sanders New York Times February 3, 2019
“…Companies, rather than investing in ways to make their businesses more resilient or their workers more productive, have been dedicating ever larger shares of their profits to dividends and corporate share repurchases. When a company purchases its own stock back, it reduces the number of publicly traded shares, boosting the value of the stock to the benefit of shareholders and corporate leadership. Between 2008 and 2017, 466 of the S&P 500 companies spent around $4 trillion on stock buybacks, equal to 53 percent of profits. An additional 40 percent of corporate profits went to dividends. When more than 90 percent of corporate profits go to buybacks and dividends, there is reason to be concerned.”

Photo: Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Credit The Timeless Gentleman

The erosion of U.S. democacy. Credit Freedom House

Democracy in Retreat: Freedom in the world 2019

Freedom House February 4, 2019

In 2018, Freedom in the World recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. The overall losses are still shallow compared with the gains of the late 20th century, but the pattern is consistent and ominous. Democracy is in retreat.

In states that were already authoritarian, earning Not Free designations from Freedom House, governments have increasingly shed the thin façade of democratic practice that they established in previous decades, when international incentives and pressure for reform were stronger. More authoritarian powers are now banning opposition groups or jailing their leaders, dispensing with term limits, and tightening the screws on any independent media that remain. Meanwhile, many countries that democratized after the end of the Cold War have regressed in the face of rampant corruption, antiliberal populist movements, and breakdowns in the rule of law. Most troublingly, even long-standing democracies have been shaken by populist political forces that reject basic principles like the separation of powers and target minorities for discriminatory treatment.

Some light shined through these gathering clouds in 2018. Surprising improvements in individual countries—including Malaysia, Armenia, Ethiopia, Angola, and Ecuador—show that democracy has enduring appeal as a means of holding leaders accountable and creating the conditions for a better life. Even in the countries of Europe and North America where democratic institutions are under pressure, dynamic civic movements for justice and inclusion continue to build on the achievements of their predecessors, expanding the scope of what citizens can and should expect from democracy. The promise of democracy remains real and powerful. Not only defending it but broadening its reach is one of the great causes of our time.

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