Paul Nevins

Paul Nevins
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
October 29
Paul Nevins is the author of "The Politics of Selfishness: How John Locke’s Legacy Is Paralyzing America "(Greenwood /Praeger/ABC-CLIO). The central thesis of this important and unconventional work is that the United States has begun to experience a number of profound, interrelated problems that are caused, both directly and indirectly, by the country's dogmatic and often unconscious adherence, collectively as a political culture and individually as Americans, to the political philosophy of John Locke. That ideology, which is the bedrock upon which the American liberal democracy has been founded, asserts that human beings are by nature solitary, aggrandizing individuals. Hence, preoccupation with the self in all of its manifestations and attributes - as opposed to the whole, the public interest - has become the primary focus by which political, economic and societal decisions are made. Consequently, the preferred form of social and political relationships with others, including the state as the organized expression of political society, is solely contractual and is designed primarily to protect private property in all of its forms. "The Politics of Selfishness" provides compelling historic and contemporary evidence that U.S. institutions, at all levels, are failing because of the country's uncritical embrace of the anti-social individualism which is John Locke’s legacy. Paul Nevins has been a trial attorney in private practice since 1982. He concentrates in public and private sector employment law and litigation, related civil rights and constitutional law claims, and contract claims. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Paul Nevins taught in the Boston Public Schools. While teaching, Mr. Nevins served as a member of the Executive Board of the Boston Teachers Union, Local 66, AFT/AFL-CIO. Paul Nevins served as a conscript in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970. In 1969, he was a founder and the first chairman of GIs for Peace at Fort Bliss, Texas.This was the first organization of active duty soldiers who publicly opposed the Vietnam War. Mr. Nevins received an A.B. Degree from Suffolk University, a Master of Arts Degree from New York University, and a Juris Doctor Degree from Suffolk University Law School. He lives and works in Boston.


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OCTOBER 31, 2011 6:13PM

Class Warfare And The Top 1%

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        Yesterday on Fareed Zakira’s CNN program, Harvard Business Historian Niall Ferguson accused Columbia University Economist  Jefrey Sachs of demagoguery because of the latter’s endorsement of the Occupy Wall  Street movement.  Ever the shill for right-wing monied interests,  Ferguson bravely came to defense of his ideological patrons and claimed that Sachs was attempting to criminalize the conduct of the 3 million plus “masters of the universe” who now comprise that top %1 of the U.S. wage earning population.

        Other than bombast and a kind of condescending “Let them eat cake” hauteur, Ferguson was unable to effectively counter Jeffrey Sachs’s mastery of the economic data. Instead, Ferguson reached in the right-wing grab-bag of boogeymen and disingenuously claimed that teachers unions were somehow the reason for the increasingly limited social mobility of millions of Americans.

       Ferguson’s accusation of class warfare parallel those of other right-wing pundits and commentators. For example, also yesterday in a opinion column, Ross Douthat wrote an op ed column in the New York Times in which he, too, claimed that it is the government, including the pubic education system, and not the rapaciousness of the rich that is responsible for the current economic malaise.

         The evidence, of course, is to the contrary, as these paid charlatans know well. As early as 2004, a study for the Council of Foreign Relations by Sharon Otterman cited research by a Boston-based consultancy group, Forrester, which estimated  that 400,000 service jobs had been lost to offshoring since 2000 and that this trend had then accelerated to between 20,000 and 40,000 a month. The number of jobs lost was over and above  the 2 million manufacturing jobs that were estimated to have moved offshore since 1983.  By 2015, Forrester predicted,  approximately 3.3 million service jobs will have moved offshore, including 1.7 million "back office" jobs such as payroll processing and accounting, and 473,000 jobs in the information  and technology industry.

         The Internal Revenue Service and the Congressional Budget Office reported last week that the top 1% of the American population continued to receive a disproportionate share of the country’s wealth. In 2009, the 1.4 million who belong to the top 1% made an average of $1 million dollars in 2009. Further, since 1979, the share of U.S. Income enjoyed by the top 1% has increased from 9.18% to 17.9% as of 2009, or more than the entire bottom half of the U.S. population. This data  must be viewed within the context of  Forbes magazine. It reported in  reported that, as of last month, the four hundred richest American s enjoyed a combined  worth of $1.53 trillion, which figure had increased from 1.37 trillion over the previous year. Their combined  wealth was thus approximately equivalent to the GDP of Canada.

          Almost simultaneously, the U.S. Census Bureau announced last month that the real median household income in the United States had declined to $49,995, or 2.3% from 2009 , while the nation's poverty rate had increased to 43.569 million people, or 15.1 of the total population, and the number of people without health care insurance had grown to 49.9 million.

         The final coup de grace to the right-wing lies and distortions is provided in  study by a German think tank, Bertelsmann Stiftung, entitled “Social Justice In The  OECD- How do the Member States Compare?” In a survey of 30 member states that belong to the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the study found that the United States ranked at number 27, just above Greece, Chile and Mexico in categories that measured from overall social justice, to overall poverty, child poverty, senior citizen poverty, income inequality, pre-primary education and in health care.

Social jsutice rankings: courtesy of the New York Times

          The incontrovertible economic evidence from dispassionate observers shows that, since the advent of the Reagan era, the adoption of de-regulation and free-trade has been an unmitigated nightmare for the overwhelming majority of Americans. For that reason, it is easy to understand why the financiers, the hedge-found traders, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their hired apologists for the status-quo continue to peddle the myth first propagated by Ronald Reagan that government is the problem and not the solution.   

        In the current political climate, the wealthy, the corporations and their legions of lobbyists, think-tanks, spin-doctors and academic courtesans rightly fear an honest discussion about the current state of the American economy. They know that if the American public finally grasps the implications of the facts and the data, the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement will resonate ever more loudly and that an overwhelming majority will come to understand that the historic movement of America toward a more responsive, inclusive, egalitarian democracy has been hijacked by a cabal of cheaters, thieves, miscreants and malefactors who have turned our government and our economy into  playthings for the 1%.

         The top 1% have waged an unrelenting class warfare against the rest of this country for the past thirty years. If the promise of America is to be reclaimed, their failed nostrums about de-regulation, laissez-faire, and need for less government must be rejected and replaced be a new narrative which recognizes, in the words of  Thomas Hill Green, that government must be viewed as a positive instrument for the public good.   

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As much as I agree that the government can be a force for good it also can b a force for disaster. In general, the government now in operation has become an instrument for he wealthy controllers and until that is somehow addressed and remedied government is no use for general benefit. It has become a mere instrument for those now in control. Wresting that control into a shape to provide public benefit probably will necessitate violence and I do not relish the fight. Many will suffer. But I see no way to avoid it.
Facism. Why do we dance around it? When the came for the poor -we sat back and blamed them. To this day most 'merikans still dont get it. Starve the beast? thats like phase 4. WE ARE THE GERMANS of our generation- the 1% can simply move on, just as they did the last time. iraq was our Poland...the fatherland is our homeland....urban non whites are our Jews...jails are our concentrai
concentration camps, and aids is our gas chamber. There are still a few of us who fight ...but fear and greed blind most 'merikans....
it's not hard to see that off-shoring, free trade, and automation are disastrous for low-skill people, and increasingly many who thought they were high-skilled.

and not much research is needed to to prove it, since this result proceeds from logic.

neither is it hard to imagine a society organized to provide a decent standard of living to all. what has turned out to be very hard is convincing americans that they need a democratic constitution. they are trained to submit to capitalist oligarchy, and submit they do, even while 'protesting.'

if you are content to leave power in the hands of a few, wealth will be in the hands of a few.
As Dorothy said, “All you need to do is close your eyes really, really tight, and believe really, really hard that all will be hunky-dory and peachy-keen, and it will!

Baa.... Baa.... Baaa.......

At times when I read about Jeffrey Sachs and a few other economists I get the impression that they're much more reasonable than many other economists but at other times especially if I read about some of their work twenty or thirty years ago, although they may have still been more moderate then, they have also been a major part of the problems.

Even though Sachs, Stiglitz, Krugman and a few others are much more reasonable than Friedman and presumably Ferguson who I know less about we should rely on them too heavily and should check their work before implementing policies; however when they criticize the more rational economists and glorify the more atrocious ones then well, er, use your imagination that is what I meant to say.
Niall Ferguson is an unreconstructed imperialist who came to this country because it was a stage more suited to his vast talents that his native U.K., and also, to judge from his writings and musings, the last best hope of spreading Western Civilization across the globe while Christianizing the pagans (all non-Western peoples) and, of course, installing democratic governments with market economies open to, you guessed it, Western investment. Of course, the world in which that ego-satisfying scenario was even remotely plausible is gone, as is the American Century, but despite his Oxbridge pedigree and the West's precipitous post 9-11 decline, the Mr. Ferguson still doesn't get it.