Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thoughts fill with the images of friends and loved one’s gathered around the dining room table. There will be the sharing of good food and good conversation. Afterwards, many of us will sit back, stuffed and happy, and fall asleep on the couch in front of the television. Others will go outside and toss a football around. Heck, maybe we’ll even play a little dominoes. A day filled with the joy of hearth and home that warms the heart.

Then comes the day after. Aptly named “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving many Americans will swarm to the stores to go on a buying binge. In some major cities people even line up outside the stores over night. We’ll spend millions of dollars, mostly on credit, at stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, and the numerous mega-malls around the country.

Black Friday is also a big day for the corporate news media. Reporters will loiter around the stores to video tape shoppers as they stampede through the opening doors, pushing and shoving each other as though their lives depended on it. The TV stations will consider themselves lucky if they catch a shot of an elderly person or child who falls during the stampede as people mindlessly stomp on them. Plus, they always build it up as such an important event that, according the newscaster, the very fate of our nation rests on whether we will show up and spend. “Go out and shop for your job depends on it!” they’ll exclaim as they show scenes of the crowded parking lot taken from the helicopter hovering over the mall.

But there is another way to spend the day after Thanksgiving. Sponsored by Adbusters, November 28th, 2008 is also known as “Buy Nothing Day.” Rather than being another lemming at the mall we can do something else. Stay home. Go for a walk. Read a book to a child. Volunteer at a charity.

Don’t let the capitalists and the corporate media control you. Rather than participate in Black Friday join me in Buy Nothing Day instead. You’ll feel better that you did.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Without a doubt, history was made on November 4th 2008. With the election of Barack Obama to the White House our country crossed an important milestone in its history. From now on when we say that any child can grow up to be president it’s not just a feel good axiom. While we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that all is suddenly rosy in race relations, there are still many challenges, President-elect Obama shows that our nation has truly changed in a positive way.

Barack Obama brings with him many other positive changes to Washington as well.

Since the Reagan administration Washington has been enamored by a radical laissez faire capitalist economic theory championed by the economist Milton Friedman. Known as the Chicago School, Friedman’s theory openly despised any governmental intervention in the economy.

Compare the Chicago School to that of the economist John Keynes. Keynes held that governmental intervention played a very positive role in an economy. The government, according to Keynes, could stabilize the economy and encouraging growth through lower interest rates and public projects.

With the election of Barack Obama we will see the return of Keynesian capitalism. According to various press releases and public statements President-elect Obama’s agenda includes dramatically increased government investment in the creation of the next generation of biofuels, the further development of plug-in hybrids, and in renewable energy. In addition, he would provide a $1,000 energy rebate for families to offset the cost of energy as well as other “middle class” tax breaks so as to pump more money into the economy. These proposals along with new job training programs, targeted tax breaks for small businesses, raising the minimum wage, greater access to health care and increased regulation of the financial industry places him firmly within Keynesian economics.

Without a doubt the Keynesian school of thought is far superior to that of Friedman. Though Keynesian theory still maintains the class system it reduces the distance between the classes by redistributing the wealth downwards. Such redistribution provides some economic relief to the working class. In addition, Keynesian capitalism helps to reduce the risk of economic recessions and depressions by pumping money in through the consumer-side and by regulating the supply-side, which helps to prevent the financial scandals as has recently occurred.

The problem with Keynesian capitalism is that it’s still capitalism. This means that no matter how successful President-elect Obama is during his term in office we will still have the same socio-economic system based on class division, alienation, domination by the market and by capital.

While my prayers are with our new President-elect I’m very much aware that for all of the good that he certainly will bring to the office he is still a capitalist. Economic democracy is still just a dream.