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Capitalism in America: Giving Crazy a Bad Name While Subverting Democracy

by John Atcheson

Steve Lambert, an artist living in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, created this sign in 2012 to find out from people in the Greater Boston area what they thought of this question. (Photo: Nate Goldman/WBUR)

Ever since Milton Friedman’s series of essays on Capitalism and Freedom, conservatives have tried to link democracy and capitalism into essential handmaidens.  But as the evidence shows, it’s a reality-busting bundle that only a psychotic could love.  Or believe.

The fact is, capitalism as practiced in America – far from being democracy’s handmaiden — is anathema to freedom, and ultimately, impoverishing to the vast majority of its citizens.

And it’s driving us crazy.

Let’s Take a Look at Crazy

Destroying the Climate for Fun and Profit:  Sometime around 2050, large portions of many of America’s coastal cities will become uninhabitable due to periodic floods of epic proportions, unless we spend trillions of dollars on sea walls and pumping systems.  Think Katrina and Sandy occurring every year in the majority of our coastal cities.

The coastal flooding will be accompanied by droughts, huge forest fires, famine, massive migrations of climate refugees, and extinction of up to half the world’s species.  Oh, what the hell, throw in widespread pestilence, too.

But of course, the most ardent believers in capitalism say we can’t afford to take steps to prevent this – even though clean energy systems would create more jobs and economic growth than continuing to use fossil fuels.

So, what’s a psychotic to do?

Well, the true believers are in denial, with some even trying to pass laws prohibiting people from acknowledging the reality of climate change, which is the cause of all these catastrophes. Or, in the case of Florida – the State which will suffer the most – the governor is prohibiting state employees from using the words “climate change” or “global warming.”

Yeah, that’s sane.

Any objective look at this kind of behavior would have to label it as certifiable, mandatory lock-up, straight-jacket worthy insanity.

But it gets worse.

Starving the Future for Profit:  You’d think preserving the capacity to feed people would be pretty much an imperative.  But you’d be wrong.

As George Monbiot pointed out, the UN estimates we will need about 6 million hectares of new farmland each year to keep up with population growth – instead, we’re losing 12 million hectares to depletion.

Why? Because the consumptive monocultural approaches we use are “profitable,” according to capitalism.  So, basically, capitalism is setting us up for starvation and calling it profitable.

Let Them Eat Jellyfish: Meanwhile, we’re turning the oceans – the main source of protein for more than a billion people – into sterile acidic and nearly lifeless crypts.  Already, fisherman across the globe are pulling up nets fouled with jellyfish, which will dominate the seas in the not too distant future.

Another clear sign of psychosis.

Can’t Use the Oil We’ve Found, So Let’s Look for More: Then of course, there’s the fact that Obama is proposing aggressive measures to cut carbon at the same time as he’s permitting exploration for more oil in the Arctic, even though we know we have to leave most of what we’ve already found in the ground or risk global catastrophes of biblical proportions.

Yeah, that makes sense.

Let’s Elect the People Who Hate Government to Govern: We the people share a big part of the blame. While the Plutocrats take over the country, we keep electing people who hate government and want to turn it over to the private sector – aka the plutocrats — to run government.  Yet government is the only force capable of stopping the march of the fat cats and olgarchs.

At the state level, we’re seeing the fruits electing fruitcakes to run the state and the economy. In Kansas, they’re so hot to cut taxes that school systems can’t even finish the year.  And once promising Ohio has been consigned to the trash bin of economic history by this counterfactual clap trap, while Wisconsin – another bastion of conservative psychosis, lags far behind the nation in job growth and wages.

Crazy? It doesn’t get any crazier.  OK, now let’s move on.

How Capitalism Subverts Democracy

For starters, let’s acknowledge that in the United States, the interests of Big Money routinely trumps the will of the people. Here’s the proof:

The list could go on and on.  Over the years Americans have favored an end to fracking, single payer health care, greater public investment in infrastructure, an increase in minimum wage, and an end to the perennial wars and removal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet Congress and the President routinely ignore these wishes at the behest of monied interests.

So much for the will of the people.

Stacking the Deck in Favor of the Plutocrats: Democrats received 20 million more votes for Senate than Republicans in 2014, yet Republicans hold the majority of seats.  Similarly, it only takes about 48% of the popular vote for Republicans to hold a majority in the House.

Why? Because a sophisticated cadre of the ultra-rich have been on a 30 plus year campaign to buy government.  Think tanks, corporate “free” speech, Democratic complicity, and a bought and paid for media has resulted in a gerrymandered map, a stacked Supreme Court and elections in which money trumps the wishes of the people, and routinely puts the will of a tiny rich minority over those of the majority.

From Democracy to Oligarchy: By any measure, the US is an Oligarchy, not a democracy. This too, is a result of our doctrinaire belief in unconstrained capitalism, which inevitably results in grotesque income inequalities, and – ironically – economic collapse.  Pushed by an unholy alliance of true believers and rich special interests, we’ve tried unconstrained capitalism three times now, and each time it has obliterated the middle class, and wrecked the economy.

Welcome to the New Dark Ages – where belief trumps facts; where wishful thinking beats reality

The facts show that pure unadulterated capitalism not only limits freedom and destroys the planet, it is self-extinguishing.

But facts have little sway with the true believers. Like inmates in the asylum, the plutocrats keep pushing the very thing that will destroy them.  Unfortunately, they’re taking us with them.

General Mills Forced To Remove Artificial Chemicals Amid Failing Sales

From ingredient-changes to buying companies
Photo credit: AP/Matt Rourke

Mega food-processing powerhouse General Mills has been having a tough time – along with all the other junk-food providers. Owner of food brands and products such as Hamburger Helper, Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and Pillsbury, General Mills is being forced to make many product shifts in order to please the health-conscious wave riding over nearly every major food corporation.

Though General Mills has propelled itself forward with its famous products like Lucky Charms, the corporation is going to need to heavily adapt to today’s consumer if they want to remain on top. For years the company has found itself on the opposite side of powerful consumer trends, but is now beginning to morph to the demand of the health-conscious consumer.

“Around the world, we see and understand that food preferences are changing,” CEO Ken Powell told analysts. “People want natural foods with simpler ingredients. They are avoiding things like gluten, simple carbohydrates, artificial ingredients. They want more protein, more fiber, more whole grain, more natural and organic products.”

Similar to how McDonald’s and biotechnology giant Monsanto have been losing money for months, General Mills has also announced various changes it had to make, among them being factory closings, mass layoffs, and budget cuts.

“If you look at those big traditional grocery companies, they’re all dealing with the same thing,” said Mike Boland, director of the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota. “Kellogg’s, General Mills, Heinz, Campbell Soup, Kraft, anybody’s who’s producing foods prepared at home, they’re all talking about how to get back on the right side of things.”

In the past six months, General Mills has announced a series of factory closings, budget cuts and mass layoffs, including an undisclosed number at its Golden Valley headquarters. So to adapt to an ever-changing market, the corporation has been making some changes – changes that are actually based off of small companies that are competing with the big players.

“Really over the last half-dozen years, we have been looking very closely at the entrepreneurs that we compete with, the smaller companies that we compete with, and … (how they) bring their products to market. And we’ve learned a lot from doing that,” Powell said.

In an attempt to win consumers over, General Mills attempted to peddle its products using terms like”All Natural,” but this technique is proving to be limited. The company has joined a lineup of companies sued over false advertising with the term “all natural,” forcing the label to be dropped. So in another attempt to win consumers over, General Mills has started to ride the “GMO-Free” wave (for those of you who don’t know, GMOs in this case are food ingredients which have been genetically tampered with). But again, while these are well-played marketing moves, will it be enough?

Related: 6 GMO-Loaded Food Brands to Avoid Buying

Additionally, General Mills is instituting various recipe make-overs, adding whole grain, omitting sugar and artificial ingredients, and, as mentioned, sometimes going GMO-free (when it’s easy). An example of this can be seen with a sugar-cut in its Yoplait yogurt.

Most recently, General Mills paid $820 million for natural and organic foodmaker Annie’s, based in Berkeley, California. This is making the corporations plays more clear. The only problem is that avid health-conscious consumers will now decide to shun the Annie’s organic brand as it has fallen under a junk food-producing mega-corp’s umbrella.

“I understand where it’s coming from,” said Julie Grossman, assistant professor of sustainable and organic food systems at the University of Minnesota. “There are a lot of people who are supporters of independent businesses, smaller-scale businesses, and they want to see those smaller-scale businesses be successful on their own.”

So the point of this piece is this: we are successfully igniting food-change on all levels, from children and parents shunning fast food to forcing corporations to make changes, or suffer. If we keep voting with our dollar, there is no doubt that we will eventually tips the scales in our favor.

Photo credit: AP/Matt Rourke

Monsanto Employee Admits An Entire Department Exists To “Discredit” Scientists

But no one knows about it
money_corrupt_deal_monsanto_735_350

Dare to publish a scientific study against Big Biotech, and Monsanto will defame and discredit you. For the first time, a Monsanto employee admits that there is an entire department within the corporation with the simple task of ‘discrediting’ and ‘debunking’ scientists who speak out against GMOs.

The WHO recently classified glyphosate, a chemical in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, as carcinogenic – news that is really heating things up with biotech. So Monsanto has been demanding that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) retract their statements about the poisons’s toxicity to human health.

The company demands this even though a peer-reviewed study published in March of 2015 in the respected journal, The Lancet Oncology, conducted a analysis proving that glyphosate was indeed ‘probably carcinogenic.’

Monsanto’s vice president of global regulatory affairs Philip Miller told Reuters the following in interview:

“We question the quality of the assessment. The WHO has something to explain.”

It has already been explained, Mr. Miller. The study states:

“Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, currently with the highest production volumes of all herbicides. It is used in more than 750 different products for agriculture, forestry, urban, and home applications. Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties. Glyphosate has been detected in air during spraying, in water, and in food. There WAS limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.

Glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption. Soil microbes degrade glyphosate to aminomethylphosphoric acid (AMPA). Blood AMPA detection after poisonings suggests intestinal microbial metabolism in humans. Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro. One study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) in residents of several communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations.”

In a recent talk attended mostly by students hoping to get decent paying internships in their field, a student asked what the company was doing to negate “bad science” concerning their work.

Monsanto’s employee, Dr. William “Bill” Moar, who gives talks on Monsanto’s products to reassure everyone that they are safe, perhaps forgot the event was public when he openly revealed that Monsanto had:

“An entire department” (waving his arm for emphasis) dedicated to “debunking” science which disagreed with theirs.”

Likely, this is the first time a Monsanto employee has publicly admitted that they have immense political and financial weight to bear on scientists who dare to publish against them. Of course they don’t list this discrediting department anywhere on their website.

The company will stop at nothing to discredit and devalue the contributions of unimpeachably respected Lancet and the international scientific bodies of WHO and IARC, among others.

The stakes are high – after all, an entire industry of GMO seed (for which they currently hold more than a three-fourths monopoly share) is based on being Roundup ready. Glyphosate is their hallmark product, and it accounts for billions in sales when you account for the seed they sell to go with their best-selling herbicide.

In a single publicly made phrase, Moar has admitted that the Monsanto-funded science is sheer propaganda – essentially that they indeed have dozens, if not hundreds of employees out making sure that no science which tells the truth about their cancer-causing products ever garners any credibility whatsoever in the information age.

Monsanto has also held up the findings of regulatory bodies, particularly in the United States where the revolving door between agrochemical corporations and government seems never ending.


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Report Finds Gerber Baby Food Filled With GMOs

Don’t feed this to your baby
Gerber_LilCrunchies_VeggieDip_GMO_735_350

What kind of person, even as the head of a major food retailer, would want to feed developing children pesticides and questionable genetically modified ingredients? That’s a question to consider when you find out that one of Gerber’s popular baby food items has been found to be full of insecticidal GMOs.

Do these executives not realize they are feeding these to our children or do they just not care?

Lab tests have confirmed that Gerber’s Lil’ Crunchies snacks are full of Roundup Ready, insecticidal GMO ingredients. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a policy statement recommending that children’s exposure to pesticides be reduced. How can this company put them in a snack that little ones are meant to munch on?

“Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity. Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.” ~ AAP

A package of Gerber Graduates Lil’ Crunchies Veggie Dip Baked Whole Grain Corn Snack were sent to an independent lab and 100% of the corn in the product was found to be derived from GMOs, according to the report. This herbicide-resistant, Roundup Ready corn has been shown to cause liver and kidney problems, among other adverse health issues. It is also known to be toxic to human cells, damaging to male reproductive organs, detrimental to healthy gut flora, and can add to the fragility of a developing fetus.

Related: 3 Companies Using GMOs in Baby Formula

And unfortunately, mothers who can’t afford the good stuff are given this low-quality formula. Mothers and babies who receive federally-funded WIC assistance (Women, Infants and Children Program) are usually provided with formula comprised of GMO ingredients, including GMO corn and GMO soy. Mothers who desire organic baby formula for their developing children are denied it. Are the poor relegated to carcinogenic, developmentally-altering, genetically modified food, and nothing else?

Does Gerber’s VP of nutrition really think this is a great thing to put in food meant for consumption by small children?

Gerber has also been known to put GMOs in baby formula – so if they don’t get you at infancy now, they are targeting your toddler. It’s time to Boycott this horrible company, for good. It is clear they don’t make safe products for your family. They just make profits utilizing GM poison.

Photo courtesy of: GMOFreeUSA

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