Tag Archive: politics


Hillary Clinton and the politics of race

Hillary’s landslide victory in West Virginia, along with some particularly interesting quotes on race from a USA Today interview, have made a connection between the former first lady and race perfectly clear.

Hillary won West Virginia by 41 points, where Obama had most difficulty attracting white, working class voters.  Exit polls showed that Obama had support in West Virginia from less than one quarter of the voters in that demographic.  Of the three fourths who voted for Clinton, 1 in 5 voters said that race was a factor in their decision.  In other words, 20% of 3/4 of the white working class in West Virginia voted for Hillary because she was white, and Obama is black.  That is, 15% voted Hillary because they were casting an anti-black vote.  How does she feel about being the official democrat for white, working class racists?

Last Wednesday, Clinton gave an interview to USA Today, arguing that she had a broader base of support than Obama.  Evidence?  She cited an Associated Press article published one day after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries that, in her own words, showed “”how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”  (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2008-05-07-clintoninterview_N.htm)

Yup.  Clinton not only knows that she’s the official Democrat of the white, working class racist, but she embraces it.  Brags about it, even.  Notice her further lumping together “hard working Americans” with “white Americans.”

But, as she recently said after her West Virginia win,””I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard.”  That is, until every racist has had a chance to make their voices heard.  Go Hillary, the official candidate for the white, working-class, racist Democrat!

One eminent result of the fall of the Soviet Empire–for all its faults–has been a crisis of faith in Socialist circles. The fall of the USSR has made socialism look untenable, and as a result, many socialists have been searching for an alternative to a centrally planned, bureaucratic economy. Some have collapsed their demands, and choose instead to advocate some sort of social democracy, like Sweden. This, unfortunately, proves unstable by allowing private ownership of capital, and thus containing within itself a constant pull towards capitalism with all its faults. Others have turned towards market socialism, but this, too, contains the seeds which made market capitalism so prone to allow self-interest to dominate social interactions, among other faults of capitalism. In short, many socialists have relaxed their demands or given up substantial portions of their goals. This, combined with the success of free market ideology and power consolidation, has created a void of socialist advocacy and activism where it is needed most. But in perspective, this is a time for celebration.

The fall of the Soviet Union has given us socialists the opportunity to try to create the best socialism, the most equitable, efficient, democratic socialism possible in practice. On the other hand, while power has been consolidated by the neoliberal empire, their power is augmented by an appeal to legitimacy, saying (in effect) “our competition is gone, so we win by default,” but such a claim appeals for legitimacy. It begs us to consent and obey; it begs us to filter out and water down our hopes for a just world. But such a tactic cannot remain impervious to critique, and for legitimacy’s sake, it must allow critique. The global system cannot both critique the Soviets for tyrannical power over markets and denying political and civil liberties, AND suppress global movements in an overt fashion. Don’t get me wrong, the CIA has a history of destroying Leftist movements, but it has done so with an eye towards suppression the information. Consequently, we socialists must gain our voices; we must be loud, strong, and proud! We must be international, and forge relationships with feminist, pacifist, and environmentalist groups.  We must establish collectives that will help us take care of each other, to make it possible to go into the world without needing a paycheck, making us independent.  All socialists, of all countries, religions, genders, races, ages, and socialisms must come together and unify under one overarching group.  This is the way we can make some headway against the neoliberal empire.  We must raise our voices until we become a public force, and with publication comes protection from destruction.  If we become public, if we become loud, strong, and proud, then the neoliberal empire will have to maintain legitimacy by opposing us through normal means–we force their hand to engage in debate.  The neoliberal need for a successful ideology will give us a voice.  I propose (at least) the following prescriptions for a successful socialism.

(1) Leftist journals, individuals, organizations, political parties, etc., must unify under one international movement and have representatives meet regularly to establish objectives in the collective advocacy of socialism. While there is still debate over what socialism is best [and it should not be necessary to establish ‘hierarchical determination of party principles’ as the Soviets did], the most immediate ends that can be established are (1) an international socialist bill of rights, and a plan for (2) a future international confederation of socialist states, as well as (3) the consolidation of political and economic power that a dispersed socialist movement cannot accomplish.  Socialists need to become an international power-bloc and work together on the movement as a whole.

This is NOT a demand for unified agreement between socialists, nor is it an argument for a centralized socialist order.  This is a call for the unification of the movement.  There should be doctrinal disagreement and living debate, but these disagreements should not fragment the movement.

(2) This organization must appeal to all progressive movements, feminist, environmentalist, civil rights, NGO’s, etc., over the need to join the cause.  This will greatly assist our movement.

(3) This organization must engage in debates in every intellectual field, most immediately with (1) religious scholars, and (2) economists.  Real Christianity and Buddhism both support socialism over capitalism, and I believe Islam the same.  Additionally, dealing with oppositional economists will show that socialism is viable, and that traditional arguments against its possibility are false.

The social teachings of the major world religions, generally, have been used (at least in the West) to support capitalism, when in fact they most consistently support socialism.  This ideological barrier to socialism should be what it naturally is–an ideological aid.

(4) This unified socialist movement must move to create institutions independent from the capitalist system.  It needs to establish (ideally) communal living situations with proportional private space (for many reasons), schools, provide socialist scholarly resources free to individuals, food and health distribution, etc.  If it is necessary for the good life, socialists must provide it independently from the capitalist system.

(5) Once unified, institutions in place, socialists need to continue their militant advocacy of socialism–and by militant, I do not mean violent, I mean unwavering.  Socialists must unwaveringly pursue a nonviolent revolution.  A revolution is no more than a dramatic change from one system or ruler to another.  How is this to be accomplished nonviolently?  Socialists must simultaneously pursue the following (and this step is more of a systemized presentation of the preceeding thoughts, with some overlap).

(5a) Socialists must pursue political change in all areas of power, be they international, national, state, district, city, or county.  Even socialist neighborhood councils are steps in the right direction to further solidarity.  Socialists must advocate (i) the collapse of international capitalist institutions (WTO, IMF, etc) and their replacement with international socialist institutions, and (ii) the democratic promotion of socialist politicians in every level of political office.

(5b)  Socialists must create institutions independent of the capitalist system as in (4).

(5c)  Socialists must work to change the ideological structure of society, which involves (i) the unification of socialists, and (ii) promotion of socialist ideals in all areas of social thought (such as sociology, psychology, philosophy, economics, religion, etc).  This should also include (iii) extensive research into effective rhetoric, as well as political and activist tactics, and how movements for social change succeed or fail, with an emphasis on lessons for success in contemporary conditions.  Furthermore, these lessons should (iv) be made widely available for socialist activists in free handbooks and other resources to help in the field, while organizing.  Finally, (v) successful socialist organizing and advocacy should include an extensive campaign to democratize traditional media, as well as use internet-based and public information campaigns to ‘spread the word’.

(5d) Socialists must then work on grassroots campaigns to get popular consensus in favor of increasing economic democracy and socialist progress, in addition to supporting the aforementioned programs and increasing pressure on the status quo.

These are only the most preliminary and general of suggestions, and I hope that they serve to stimulate debate.

This post is just a plug for some excellent books and authors I want to share with everyone. –comment if you have one you want to add, or have a comment on one I’ve added.

Rodney Peffer- Marxism, Morality, and Social Justice

Charles Andrews – From Capitalism to Equality

http://www.laborrepublic.org/

Michael Albert – Parecon

Cockshott and Cottrell – Towards a New Socialism

http://www.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/

 Erich Fromm – To Have or To Be, The Art of Loving, the Sane Society

Michael A. Lebowitz – Build it Now

Meszaros – Socialism or Barbarism

 

 

Hillary Clinton and Wal-Mart

Why do labor groups support Hillary?  Supposedly, “Clinton has been endorsed for president by more than a dozen unions, according to her campaign Web site, which omits any reference to her role at Wal-Mart in its detailed biography of her” (http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4218509). 

Hillary’s chief strategist, Mark Penn, who is the “Worldwide President and CEO for Burson-Marsteller, an international PR conglomerate known for . . . busting unions”

(http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2007/03/hillary-clintons-union-doublespeak.php’). 

She had a seat on Wal-Mart’s board of directors for, I think, six years prior to 1992 (and what notable political event happened to her family in 1992 that would have made a Wal-Mart connection inconvenient?), after which the seat conveniently ceased to exist.  In other words, it was not a fillable seat, it was one that existed for her

But how anti-union is Wal-Mart?  Let’s let them tell you . . .

Wal-Mart Training

But are its claims accurate?  Do Wal-Mart employees need a *horror movie music* UNION?!?!?

Check out http://wakeupwalmart.com/facts/.

“Wal-Mart Anti-Union Policy

Wal-Mart closes down stores and departments that unionize

  • Wal-Mart closed its store in Jonquierre, Quebec in April 2005 after its employees received union certification. The store became the first unionized Wal-Mart in North America when 51 percent of the employees at the store signed union cards. [Washington Post, 4/14/05]
  • In December 2005, the Quebec Labour Board ordered Wal-Mart to compensate former employees of its store in Jonquiere Quebec. The Board ruled that Wal-Mart had improperly closed the store in April 2005 in reprisal against unionized workers. [Personnel Today, 12/19/05]
  • In 2000, when a small meatcutting department successfully organized a union at a Wal-Mart store in Texas, Wal-Mart responded a week later by announcing the phase-out of its in-store meatcutting company-wide. [Pan Demetrakakes, “Is Wal-Mart Wrapped in Union Phobia?” Food & Packaging 76 (August 1, 2003).]

Wal-Mart has issued “A Manager’s Toolbox to Remaining Union Free,”

  • This toolbox provides managers with lists of warning signs that workers might be organizing, including “frequent meetings at associates’ homes” and “associates who are never seen together start talking or associating with each other.” The “Toolbox” gives managers a hotline to call so that company specialists can respond rapidly and head off any attempt by employees to organize. [Wal-Mart, A Manager’s Toolbox to Remaining Union Free at 20-21]

Wal-Mart is committed to an anti-union policy

  • In the last few years, well over 100 unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Wal-Mart throughout the country, with 43 charges filed in 2002 alone.
  • Since 1995, the U.S. government has been forced to issue at least 60 complaints against Wal-Mart at the National Labor Relations Board. [International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Internationally Recognised Core Labour Standards in the United States: Report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of the United States (Geneva, January 14-16, 2004)]
  • Wal-Mart’s labor law violations range from illegally firing workers who attempt to organize a union to unlawful surveillance, threats, and intimidation of employees who dare to speak out. [“Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart,” A Report by the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, 2/16/04] ” (From wakeupwalmart, above)

Or if you think that site biased, look at the Human Rights Watch.  Yup, that’s right.  Human Rights Watch.

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/us0507/2.htm#_Toc164069630

 How does this affect Hillary?

 Hillary was not adverse to using her Wal-Mart experience to champion causes she believed in.

“Fellow board members and company executives, who have not spoken publicly about her role at Wal-Mart, say Mrs. Clinton used her position to champion personal causes, like the need for more women in management and a comprehensive environmental program, despite being Wal-Mart’s only female director, the youngest and arguably the least experienced in business. On other topics, like Wal-Mart’s vehement anti-unionism, for example, she was largely silent, they said.” (MICHAEL BARBARO, “Clinton Moved Wal-Mart Board, But Only So Far,” New York Times, May 20, 2007, italics mine).

Is she still connected?

“Despite her criticism, Mrs. Clinton maintains close ties to Wal-Mart executives through the Democratic Party and the tightly knit Arkansas business community. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, speaks frequently to Wal-Mart’s current chief executive, H. Lee Scott Jr., about issues like health care and even played host to Mr. Scott at the Clintons’ home in New York last July for a private dinner.

 

And several months ago, Mrs. Clinton helped broker a secret meeting between a top Wal-Mart executive and former Democratic operative, Leslie Dach, and leaders of the retailer’s longtime adversary at the United Food and Commercial Workers union, according to several people briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to do so publicly.

The goal of the meeting was to tamp down the rancor between the company and the union, which has set up a group, WakeUpWalMart.com, that has harshly criticized the chain and leaked embarrassing internal documents to the news media, though an accord has not yet been reached”  (Barbaro). 

Quite frankly, Hillary’s appeals to labor and claims to want to increase the American “middle class” are hollow, empty appeals towards an audience, the American labor force (not to mention Wal-Mart’s notorious international sweatshop labor force, local communities affected by Wal-Mart’s practices, etc), that Hillary seems perpetually intent on betraying.  A vote for Hillary is a vote against the poor and the working class.

Prices of food, and most specifically necessary foods like rice and grains (generally) have been skyrocketing http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSL2464117420080424?sp=true.  More broadly, food prices have risen over the last few years, this last one in particular, to the point where riots are occurring internationally http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/agflation.  “World food prices rose by 39 percent in the last year. Rice alone rose to a 19-year high in March — an increase of 50 per cent in two weeks alone — while the real price of wheat has hit a 28-year high” (http://www.alternet.org/workplace/83457/).   Some countries in Latin America have responded with a recent pact to increase food production http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN2344733220080423.  This food price crisis has affected most if not all of the global South, including most of Africa, Latin America, much of Asia, etc.  Consequently, global poverty has increased and, in many places, riots either have occurred, are occurring, or are a constant threat.

Moscow News Weekly summarizes: “Large-scale poverty is fraught with social explosions. A wave of massive unrest caused by the growth of food prices has swept Egypt, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Madagas­car, and Ethiopia in Africa alone. There are hunger riots on Haiti in the Caribbean, and in the Philippines in South-East Asia. Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf, predicts new hunger riots in many Asian countries as well, including food producers. ”

If riots continue and governments are overthrown, the emerging governments would likely be geared towards the satisfaction of needs an some egalitarian principles of distribution.  Oftentimes this is the response to a crisis of the people such as this current food crisis.  Additionally, this tends to promote a swing of Leftist movements (and strengthening of existing ones).  But in light of history, Leftist and populist movements need to be cautious and look out for (1) U.S. intervention, and (2) IMF penalties. 

The United States has a history of interfering with and opposing any Leftist or populist movements, foreign or domestic, either democratically elected or emergent from a revolution.  A few notable examples of CIA-backed coups and coup attempts (from a rather large list) see http://theinsurgent.net/index.php?volnum=13.2&article=usterror.  Chomsky also writes heavily on this topic, and Naomi Klein’s recent The Shock Doctrine goes into detail over at least a few notable examples.  Historically famous examples are the attempt to overthrow Casto in the Bay of Pigs Invasion (1963), the socialist Indonesian president Sukarno (1965), the assasination of democratically elected Marxist president Salvadore Allende in Chile (1973), CIA training of the Contras to oppose the Leftist Sandanista government in Nicaragua (throughout Reagan’s presidency), etc.  Domestically, suppression of populist, Leftist, and labor movements has been widely documented throughout US history (look at the early history of the American labor movement, the period of McCarthyism throughout the late ’40’s and 50’s, or the Reaganite war on labor (http://www.dickmeister.com/id89.html).  America has a strong history of destroying Leftist, populist, and labor movements internationally and domestically, and consequently, whatever governmental situations these revolting countries end with, they need to be ever watchful.

Desert based theories of justice look good to me at some intuitive level. . . I mean, who wouldn’t want to give the morally best (and I’m assuming here the only definition of desert I could accept—desert meaning moral, for lack of a better word coming to me, uprightness) the most, and least reward to the most immoral.  The problem that I see with this system is related to the political problem of authority—who gets to decide?  In my conception, however, this is not the philosophical liberal critique that no conception of the good can be chosen—I think it can, and I will assume for my purposes that a society has agreed upon an objectively Right conception of the good.  My critique begins like this. . . we are all moral equals.  Our well being and ultimate potential give us equal moral worth, and as such, there must be a justification for one individual to have power over another to grant it legitimacy beyond force.  Democratic theorists and contractarians commonly claim that the source of this legitimacy is consent, for example.  Regardless of the source of the legitimacy of government in general, I am considering the possibility of legitimacy of desert determining distributive shares.

              These judgments of desert would have to be made from individuals within the government apparatus, choosing who is morally superior and who is morally inferior.  The only way to really determine this is through an examinations of someone’s historical actions, because one’s internal motivations cannot be determined (and I will not get into the problems posed by such information gathering).  Perhaps they weigh the overall number of “rights” versus “wrongs” in one’s historic actions, or perhaps they merely reward or punish over every year’s worth, considered in itself, or maybe even after every action.  Either way, the only way for this government to be legitimate in its determinations, I argue, is for it to be able to meet the moral standard.   In other words, anyone making these moral judgments in this society must be able to pass them—to judge the morality of another, one must be morally perfect for the judgment to be legitimate.  Otherwise, who are you to fail someone according to a standard you yourself cannot meet?  Even having a different set of historical wrongs from those you judge does not entitle you—perhaps you never murdered, but you didn’t give food to the needy to prevent death, or perhaps even used your connections to get out of a parking ticket.  While the latter is a comparably minor infraction, it shows that you yourself are morally imperfect, and under the rules of a desert based society imperfections must be counted.  I doubt that we could find even one morally perfect individual, and so I doubt the viability of a desert based distributive system.  It would suffer from moral hypocrisy, and consequently have no legitimacy.

              I do, however, think that society ought to help us approach perfection, but that such considerations are not the basis of distributive justice.  Instead, I propose that the purpose of punishment, for example, is to protect society and reform the criminal, and as such, minimal necessary means should be taken, and the basis of distributive justice should be something related to need.

Equality of opportunity

The debate regarding whether equality of opportunity or equality of condition is desirable is a large focus of contemporary political philosophy.  In short, the equality of opportunity position states that, instead of actualized welfare, we ought to equalize opportunity for welfare (or success or whatever your particular valued good is).  Reasons for this position vary widely.  Some don’t think that social benefits are morally deserved unless one has chosen to work for their attainment, for example.   I argue that the fact that one has worked towards the attainment of something does not change their moral status; the ‘work requirement,’ in my conception, has only practical relevance.  Work is a prerequisite if and only if society cannot sustain the fulfillment of positive rights otherwise.  If there are some needs for which we have not found a way to satisfy them, for example the need to be cured of AIDS and cancer, we have a social obligation to work towards their satisfaction in any way we can (if we cannot discover a cure ourselves, we can work towards a charitable foundation, or promote social policy that supports funding, etc).  Thus, if the goods needed to fulfill needs aren’t being produced, society and individuals within it are violating rights.  Furthermore, once these goods are produced, it is a violation of rights to hinge their use-availability on something like money, or abstractly conceived merit.  In short, we have an obligation to figure out how to satisfy needs, produce the goods, social and institutional changes necessary for said satisfaction, and finally, an obligation to distribute these goods according to need only; this obligation is so strong as to be based in justice itself.  The capitalist market is not the proper sphere for needs to be satisfied, and in fact, its very laws exist contrary to social justice.  I suppose the relevance to equality of opportunity is that, in my eyes, equality of opportunity is only an ideal regarding goods that do not satisfy needs.  Requiring that someone do something for the realization of their right (as is supposed in equality of opportunity theories) violates that right by making it practically contingent upon something that it is not morally contingent upon.

This discussion, however, presupposes no distinction between negative and positive rights, or at least no relevant distinction.  As Henry Shue ably points out, however, both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ rights have positive and negative sets of duties connected to them.  They both entail the duties of (1) refraining from the violation of right x (negative), (2) promoting social structures that protect right x (positive), and (3) remedying any violations of right x (positive).  Shue argues that there are, in fact, no positive or negative rights, simply positive and negative duties.  I wish to take a different, yet connected, line of discussion.  The distinction between positive and negative interpretations of rights hinges on the distinction between acts of omission and acts of commission.  In short, this distinction hinges on the belief that it is more wrong to commit a wrong action than withhold a corresponding right action (for example, it is more wrong to kill than to withhold the means of life).  Various arguments are cited for support, including (1) motivational reasons, and (2) the Kantian distinction between perfect and imperfect duties.  One such argument for a motivational distinction would be that, whereas killing (intentionally) is an act of the will and the intent of the action, letting die is commonly not the intent of the action (for example, when you do not give food to the starving, it is not because you want them to starve and die, but because you want to keep your food [or perhaps some prima facie more valuable reason that I cannot think of]).  This, I think, fails because if one has (1) the knowledge that conditions such as that people are starving to death can or do generally exist, and (2) one has or can attain the ability to alleviate some degree of this condition, then (3) one has as strong an obligation as the obligation not to kill, because (4) it takes a conscious act to ignore knowledge of what must be done, and/or do nothing about it.  If (1) prevails, the rest roughly follow (and I did not intend those arguments to constitute a formal logic derivation).  One has a motivational duty as strong to eliminate suffering as the one not to cause it.

Furthermore, some suppose the Kantian distinction between perfect duties (omissions of actions, whereby omissions are perfectly universalizable with no contradiction) and imperfect duties (where universalizable performance results in a contradiction but where some performance is obligatory).  I believe, however, that this distinction rests on a false formulation by Kant.  Kant attempted to universalize maxims of positive action, which cannot be universally performed, and used that inability to universally perform them to suppose no universal obligation; the obligation to positive actions rests on choice, not universal duty.  However, I think that the next step is not to make positive duties ‘nice but not mandatory,’ but to conceive of positive duties as ‘mandatory when (1) possibly achieved in the moment without too grievous of a sacrifice, and (2) achievable in a manner consistent with a long-term ability to continue to fulfill other duties.’  Kant’s problem gets resolved, and the concept of positive rights is reinforced.  While these considerations do not completely remove the distinction between acts and omissions, they do shine some light on why I feel the distinction has little to no relevance to conceptions of rights.

Obama and elitism

The recent battle cry of “elitism!” raised against Barack Obama has caused some damage to his reputation recently.  (For example: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1547078420080416).  Americans like to see themselves as equal in opportunity as the capitalist class.  Heck, almost all Americans who have food in their fridge like to think they’re ‘middle class,’ meaning middle-income-bracket, meaning able to be top dog someday, capable of being the top of the hierarchy somehow.  Everyone gets their chance to walk over others.  But simultanously, Americans ignore that the seemingly obvious and logically necessary result of “equality of opportunity” is “being able to become an elite,” and like to think that elites don’t exist.  So any intimations that a potential candidate is ‘elitist’ raises hairs on the back of the American ‘middle class.’  (Don’t get me started on the percentage of Americans who judge candidates on being most “presidential” . . . what do they think they mean by “presidential” if not “of the appropriate elite”). 

You cannot get elected in America without money and connections.  I don’t think I need to cite proof–I can’t see anyone disputing this.

The book Towards a New Socialism by Cockshott and Cottrell (http://www.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/) talks about the necessary problems with the ‘elite’ influencing representative governments.  From their new preface, 3rd draft, they say:

“Parliamentary government, legitimized by regular elections, is presented to the modern world as ‘democracy’ plain and simple.  We view it differently.  We think, as Lenin did, that it is the most perfect form of rule by the rich.  We think, as Aristotle did, that elections are always and everywhere the mark of an aristocratic rather than a democratic state.  Experience teaches that those elected to parliaments are always, everywhere, unrepresentative of those who elect them.  Whatever indicator one looks at–class, gender, race, wealth, or education–those elected are more priviledged than those who vote for them.  The elected are always socially more representative of the dominant classes in society than they are of the mass of the population.  Once elected they will always tend to represent the interests of the classes from whom they are drawn.  There are 101 detailed circumstances to explain this fact, but they all come down to the same thing.  Those features which mark you out as one of society’s ‘elect’, one of the better sort, are also the features that help you get elected” (23).

I think they’re right about representative government.  I suppose what I don’t understand is the suprise Americans feign at electing someone who represents ‘the elite’.

A Reuters analysis (“Soaring food prices raise investment risk,” http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUSL1466733420080414) begins that:

“Soaring global food prices are sparking riots and political discontent, raising investment risk in a string of emerging markets and taking the shine off otherwise successful economies that escaped the credit crunch.Soaring global food prices are sparking riots and political discontent, raising investment risk in a string of emerging markets and taking the shine off otherwise successful economies that escaped the credit crunch.”

The costs of the rise in food prices are immediately mentioned:

“Higher food prices have been fuelled by dry weather in key growing areas, competition from biofuels, rising oil prices boosting production and delivery costs and growing demand from emerging Asia.”

The countries mentioned as victims of such prices are Haiti, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Madagascar, the Philippines, and Indonesia.  Finally, here’s the punchline–the article mentions that many governments are instituting food subsidies.  Instead of pointing out the obvious effects of food subsidization, that it assists the Third World poor in acquiring food outside of the market system, it says:

“Many countries are raising food subsidies, putting them at risk of unbalancing their budgets and pushing themselves into the red. That might be affordable although for those reaping the benefits of high commodity prices, but it raises the risk of debt defaults and higher taxes hitting growth.”

To even mention that food subsidies “raise the risk of debt defaults” and will produce “higher taxes” and hurt “growth” in light of people being unable to afford food is ridiculous.  Growth matters only insofar as it is fairly distributed and goes to something important–like feeding your citizens when necessary. 

On murder

Murder is the wrongful taking of human life–to which, I think most agree, all people have a right to life.  I’ll cite this argumentation later–but there is no morally important difference between killing and letting die–both taking life directly, and allowing life to die when you could have prevented it at no comparable cost is murder.  Consequently, any capitalist who withholds that which people need to life, i.e. food, clothes, shelter, etc., is a capitalist who commits murder.  Additionally, any capitalist who prevents them from getting the needs to provide these goods at no cost (e.g. banks, resouce providers, etc), are murderers.  The capitalist system itself, and its law of distribution of goods, “distribute according to effective demand,” ignores goods such that needs can remain unmet, and people die.  Consequently, the capitalist law of distribution necessitates murder, and violates rights.  Consequently, it is absolutely and unconditionally wrong.  Capitalism necessitates capital punishment for the poor.