The system is rigged

Here are some links to articles I found interesting, and maybe you will, too.

Just How Rigged Is the ‘Rigged Game’? by Matt Taibbi for TK News.  “The Division of Light and Power, the new book by Dennis Kucinich, is an epic story of American corruption.”

Interview With Dennis Kucinich on His New Book, The Division of Light and Power, by Matt Taibbi for TK News.  “The former Presidential candidate on his new book, the ‘Punch and Judy show’ of partisan politics and how ‘people move into the system and, instead of changing the system, the system changes them’.”

Dennis Kucinich was a city councilman and mayor of Cleveland, a congressman and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.  He was widely ridiculed during his political career, but mostly proved right. 

In his new book, he tells of his 10-year struggle to prevent the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI) from taking over the municipally-owned electric power company, Muny Light, in order to remove competition and jack up prices.

CEI manufactured Muny blackouts before holidays, blatantly defied federal laws requiring CEI to provide backup power in case of such blackouts, refused to allow Muny to build lines through its territory to obtain backup power from other utilities, used bought-off pols to help artificially lower the valuation of Muny, and even used its power as an advertiser to obtain editorial review authority over local radio copy involving the company.

Because the decision about whether or not to keep Muny was a no-brainer for any Cleveland resident without a larger financial interest in the deal — as Muny didn’t pay dividends or giant packages to executives, it was able to offer rates 20% below CEI, low enough that Cleveland crafted its pitch to outside businesses around its low energy rates — CEI needed to blast cash at institutions to win allies for its cause.

When that didn’t work, it appeared to use its influence to get rid of critics, like WERE radio host Steve Clark, fired after reporting CEI had asked the state for a rate hike in the same year it was reporting a $40 million profit.  [snip]

Kucinich resists smear campaigns, a recall attempt, every conceivable kind of financial squeeze, and even an assassination plot in refusing to sell Muny Light.

Eventually Mayor Kucinich was faced with a choice of selling Muny Light or defaulting on payments of city bonds.  He chose to default, which plunged Cleveland into bankruptcy.  But years later, Cleveland has come back, Muny Light is a valuable asset and most Clevelanders admit Kucinich made the right decision.

The following is from the interview.

MT: The book starts with a really interesting epigraph about fighting City Hall from City Hall, where you say that in order to fight City Hall, you have to first find where it is.  City Hall is not just the physical structure, but the banks, the real estate combines, the investor-backed utilities . . .

Dennis Kucinich: And the mob.

MT: And the mob, right. So, today, nationally, where is City Hall, for people interested in fighting it? You’ve been in congress. What are some of those forces that are major players that people maybe don’t think about as much?

Dennis Kucinich: You have to look at Wall Street. We have a finance economy now.  Look at the arms manufacturers.  Our monetary system changed over 100 years ago.  The monetary system was privatized. 

The World Trade Organization Is Threatening Vaccine Equity, an interview of Jayati Ghosh for Truthout.  [Hat tip to Bill Harvey]

This interview is about how companies use intellectual property laws to enforce monopolies and block economic progress in developing countries.

JG: …. Consider the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed by a publicly funded lab in Oxford University.  The original distribution model was for an open-license platform, designed to make the vaccine freely available for any manufacturer.

However, the Gates Foundation, which had donated $750 million to Oxford for health-related research, persuaded the university to sign an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights.

The company promised not to make profits on the vaccine during the pandemic, but because of the competition for doses and opacity in contracts, the range of reported prices of vaccines is vast, from $2.19 to as much as $40 per dose.

The major pharma companies producing COVID-19 vaccines are already estimating massive super-profits in 2021 because of the artificially created shortage [effected by the] control over knowledge.

Amazon Prime Is an Economy-Distorting Lie by Matt Stoller for BIG.  “A new antitrust case shows that Prime inflates prices across the board, using the false promise of ‘free shipping’ that is anything but free.”

Climate scientists: the concept of net zero is a dangerous trap by James Dyke, Robert Watson and Wolfgang Knorr for The Conversation.

Why Do We Eat Bad Food? by Bill McKibbin for The Nation.

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