As the deregulation of interest rates enabled more people to get credit cards, the industry began to expand and became the most profitable sector of banking, with $30 billion in profits last year...Today, nearly 144 million Americans have credit cards, and they are using their cards like never before, charging $1.5 trillion last year alone. Credit cards have become an essential part of the American economy.With all that convenience, it is easy to ignore the potential danger to the consumer. As Professor Elizabeth Warren points out:
And what families are discovering, even with Mom and Dad in the workplace, is they often can't make it to the end of the month, and so they often use credit cards to bridge the gap. They borrow to make ends meet. And then what happens is something goes wrong. Somebody loses a job, somebody gets sick, family breaks apart through death or divorce...
The main things that triggers a bankruptcy filing are job loss, a medical problem or a family break-up. Without these things, most American families can deal with their credit card debt. But high credit card debt puts them at much great risk, so that if they stumble, if they get hit by one of the other blows, they get their feet tangled up in those high interest rates, and they just get sunk.All of these dramatic changes brought about the wholesale de-regulation of various industries have caused people to question the entire capitalist system- as it has been allowed to evolve in the last thrty years. Most importantly, they ask where it is going and whether it is a sustainable model. Should self-respecting people tolerate a system such as this? But, of course, all this corruption was predicted well over a century ago- by a man named Karl Marx.
“..(M)any of Marx’s predictions about the course of history have not been fulfilled. The condition of the working class in industrial countries has grown steadily better, not worse. class struggles have been reduced rather than intensified; the middle class and other classes between the capitalists and the proletariat have not been eliminated; state power has not withered away in communists countries, but has increased in scope and intensity; the supposed international solidarity of the working class has retreated before bellicose nationalism. Perhaps the greatest irony is that the social revolutions that have occurred have been, not in the most highly industrialized countries when “the conditions were ripe” as the theory predicted but in the less developed or undeveloped countries.”
When workers at a Honda transmission plant in China went on strike for higher wages last month (May 2010) , they touched off a domino effect of high-profile labor disputes.
As the strikes, many of them at foreign-owned plants, rippled through China's southern manufacturing heartland, the government — usually quick to crush mass protests of any kind — did not step in, but allowed them to spread.
That's because it views the strikes less as a political threat these days than as an economic tool — a way to help restructure China's current export-driven economy to a more self-sustaining one, driven by ordinary people with more cash to spend.
In September 2010, the Teamsters, including Joint Council 25 President John T. Coli, welcomed five delegates from the Shangdong Provincial Federation of Trade Unions of China (SPFTU) to Chicago. The groups signed an official memorandum of exchange and cooperation. As part of the agreement, “the delegations will share views and common concerns on a variety of labor issues, including the benefits of collective bargaining and protection for workers’ rights. The unions expect to share information on organizing and management techniques, and will be looking for new opportunities to support and communicate with workers.”This advancement in labor rights in China is supported, rather surprisingly, by the Chinese government. The American Chamber of Commerce (along with other groups) did all it could to water-down the new labor reform laws last year but their efforts were fairly unsuccessful. Corporations complained that China might not be such a great place to do business, but have since, begrudgingly accepted the situation. There was very little they could do. As one source observes:
In line with its provisions(of the recent Chinese labor law), the ACFTU (All China Federation of Trade Unions) that serves as a government endorsed umbrella for the world’s largest trade union organization, is currently implementing a mass unionization initiative. Thus, the unions’ significance is likely to grow in the coming years, which should be taken into account by any company doing business in China.
Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned; they therefore do as they like.They don’t fall in love, they don’t get hungry in the middle of the night and they especially don’t feel patriotism. Corporation’s interests are actually quite narrow. The search for greater profits, ever-cheaper labor and new markets may be all-important to corporations but it is also a blinding one. So relying on politicians who have been bribed- isn’t this the word?- by corporations is extremely foolish. Allegiance of politicians of this ilk is not to the tax-paying citizen but to the hedge fund managers, religious fanatics with the money of their followers to spend, the anxious CEOs and the corporate board of directors.
Although support for government regulation of business hasn't risen, 50 percent of Americans think it is necessary to protect the public interest, compared with 38 percent who say that regulation usually does more harm than good. In fact, not only do more Americans worry that businesses are snooping into their personal lives (74 percent), than think government is doing so (58 percent), fully six-in-ten think that business makes too much profit, and an overwhelming 78 percent think there is too much power in the hands of large companies.
Although fully 80% of Americans attribute at least some of the blame for the current financial crisis to weak government regulation of financial institutions, public support for regulation more generally has not shifted upward.
The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government.
When Rush Limbaugh says that food stamps enable people to "buy Twinkies, Milk Duds, potato chips, six-packs of Bud, then head home to watch the NFL on one of two color TVs," he encourages his millions of listeners to engage in low-grade class warfare, whether by voting for candidates who similarly oppose helping those in need, failing to donate to organizations doing their best to help, or engaging in even more rants against people struggling to survive in the wealthiest country in the world. Words like Limbaugh's, Bauer's and Swalm's are a self-perpetuating cycle that serves only to keep those who need help even further down.