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http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/30/the-illusion-of-democracy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-illusion-of-democracyView full post
One out of four people has a “mental illness.” You hear the statistic all the time. People who were once “nervous” or “high strung” now have “general anxiety disorder.” People who have the “blues” from real life issues like job, relationship and family problems now have “major depressive disorder.” People who are “up and down,” …View full post
One out of four people has a “mental illness.” You hear the statistic all the time. People who were once “nervous” or “high strung” now have “general anxiety disorder.” People who have the “blues” from real life issues like job, relationship and family problems now have “major depressive disorder.” People who are “up and down,” again from real life issues, are now “bipolar.” Adults who can’t focus on the work at hand, either because they didn’t get enough sleep or because the work at hand is boring – hello? — have adult ADHD. All need to be on drugs indefinitely, perhaps for the rest of their life. And notably, all suffer from diseases that are medical “judgment calls” they can’t be verified on blood or other diagnostic tests. Ka-ching.
Less than thirty years ago, depression was not considered a lifelong illness but a self-limiting condition that would “go away.” Before SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, anxiety was a transient condition requiring a tranquillizer as needed. Key words “as needed.” Once SSRIs became available, anxiety became a chronic condition requiring chronic medication. Suddenly people who had anxious moments were treated for moments they were fine with drugs that changed their entire blood chemistry and were very difficult to quit. Some of the drugs actually made people worse and other drugs were added as side effects were called evidence of “mental illness.”
And there are other examples of the “enlarging” of mental illness diagnoses. Once, only children had ADHD but now adults can join the club. Once only adults had depression and schizophrenia; now Big Pharma markets the conditions in children. What?
The ‘Mars Madness’, or Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) to give it it’s official title, makes India one of four (the US, the EU and Russia being the other three) that have ventured to our closest cosmic neighbor, and constitutes a conspicuously extravagant part of what economist-activist Jean Dreze accurately describes as “the Indian elite’s delusional quest for superpower status.” Competition and nationalism drive such escapades, not the quest for knowledge and understanding. The space race between the US and the Soviet Union, for example, “was not an affordable luxury undertaken for the sake of knowledge, but intrinsically tied to the military-industrial complex,” The Guardian states. India’s primary competitor in all things economic is that other mammoth nation, China. The Chinese space programme is advanced (in 2012 it put a Chinese woman in space and last year launched its first un-crewed lunar mission), and therefore intensely intimidating to the Indian nationalists psyche.
This stellar statement of Indian male virility (only men would instigate such a policy) represents the insanity permeating the political pantomime not only inside India but worldwide. Whilst hundreds of millions in the sub-continent live impoverished, degrading lives, the Indian government is investing the nation’s income in sending a rocket to Mars! The Economist asks the collective question: “how [can] a country that cannot feed all of its people find the money for a Mars mission?” As well, we should add, as shelling out US $32 billions on defense each year, making India the world’s biggest arms importer with the fourth largest air force.
And yet India (that has its own overseas aid programme worth £328 million a year) is still receiving international aid amounting to around US $1,600 millions (World Bank 2012 figures) a year, much of which flows from the coffers of nations (Britain and USA, for example,) who cannot – the politicians proclaim – invest adequately in public services or pay public sector workers a livable wage.
Rocket science versus sanitation
A third of the world’s poor – that’s almost 1 billion people – are in India. And despite twenty years of so-called development, the World Bank (WB) records that not only has this number not reduced, but, “the absolute number of poor people in some of India’s poorest states actually increased during the last decade.” These marginalised men, women and children, live in rural India and, driven from their land by the commercialisation of the countryside, the slums of the cities. In Mumbai alone – a city with a population of almost 21 millions – two-thirds live in rambling slums.
It is estimated that as many as 68% of people (or 885 millions) in India are living on less than US $2 (the ‘official’ World Bank poverty line) a day, over half of whom are persisting on an income of under US $1 a day (WB). Surviving on such a pittance is virtually impossible: parents cannot feed their children or themselves every day, or pay for health care or education; families live in suffocating conditions, a family of five, six, seven perhaps sleeping on the ground in one small room, which functions as kitchen, bedroom and living room. The majority of the population – over 50% – do not have the luxury of a toilet, and are forced to defecate in public. In a recent report on worldwide sanitation, The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF found that “globally, India continues to be the country with the highest number of people (597 million people) practicing open defecation.”
Perhaps some of the 16,000 scientists and engineers working on the space programme could be employed to design and install a nationwide sanitation system.
According to Forbes, a leading business magazine, the combined wealth of the 400 richest Americans has now reached the staggering total of $2.3 trillion. This gives them an average net worth of $5.7 billion–an increase of 14 percent over the previous year.
With fortunes far beyond the dreams of past kings and potentates, these super-wealthy individuals enjoy extraordinary lifestyles. Larry Ellison, the third wealthiest man in the United States (with $50 billion, an increase of 22 percent) reportedly has “15 or so homes scattered all around the world.” Among his yachts are two exceptionally big ones, each over half as long as a football field. In fact, they’re large enough for him to play basketball while on board. If a ball bounces over the rail, Ellison has a powerboat following along to retrieve it.
Other Americans aren’t doing nearly as well. According to the Census Bureau, more than 45 million Americans are living in poverty, which it defines as under $11,490 a year for an individual and under $23,550 for a family of four. Many of them endure lives of hunger, misery, and despair, helped along by a Congress that has slashed billions from government food stamp programs, ended extended unemployment benefits, and refused to raise the minimum wage.
America’s middle class, plagued by stagnant income and declining wealth, has also suffered. According to the Federal Reserve, between 2010 and 2013 median income in the United States fell by five percent. Indeed, since 1989, the median net worth of the statistical middle class–the middle 20 percent of Americans–has dropped by nearly 18 percent.
Not surprisingly, economic inequality is growing in the United States. From 1978 to 2013, CEO compensation, inflation-adjusted, grew by 937 percent, while the typical worker’s compensation over that same period grew by only 10 percent. Thus, although the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 20-to-1 in 1965, it stood at 296-to-1 in 2013. The same pattern prevails when it comes to wealth. From 1989 to 2013, the wealthiest three percent of Americans increased their share of the wealth from 44.8 percent to 54.4 percent, while the bottom 90 percent found their share of the wealth dropping from 33.2 percent to 24.7 percent. Today, the United States has the fourth most uneven income distribution among economically developed nations.
Against this backdrop, Americans might consider whether the richest among them really deserve their privileged status. After all, many of them have simply inherited great wealth and sat back as it grew still greater. Others, such as owners of multinational corporations, have acquired vast wealth through government favors, including financial subsidies, tax breaks, and expensive weapons procurement programs. Still others have “earned” their wealth through employment of dubious value. According to Forbes, the top “industry” among the 400 richest Americans is “Investments.” Are these stock market and hedge fund speculators really the most valuable members of American society?
Την εκτίμηση ότι οι πελατειακές πρακτικές και η δωροδοκία θα επιμείνουν στην Ελλάδα εκφράζει ο αρθρογράφος των Financial Times Τόνυ Μπάρμπερ, προσθέτοντας ότι οι πλούσιοι Έλληνες παρακολουθούσαν απαθείς την καταστροφή της χώρας.
Ο Μπάρμπερ, ο οποίες έχει σπουδάσει σύγχρονη ιστορία στο Κολέγιο St John’s του Πανεπιστημίου της Οξφόρδης, είναι ειδικός σε θέματα ευρωπαϊκής πολιτικής και οικονομίας και πριν τους Financial Times, είχε εργαστεί στον Independent και στο Reuters.
Ο αρθρογράφος των FT υποστηρίζει πως το πρόγραμμα στήριξης της τρόικας θυμίζει στους Έλληνες πως οι μεγάλες δυνάμεις συχνά ασκούσαν τον έλεγχο στη χώρα τους, από την επανάσταση του 1821 ενάντια στην Οθωμανική κυριαρχία, ενώ για τους μεγαλύτερους σε ηλικία Έλληνες θυμίζει την κατοχή των Ναζί την περίοδο 1941-44 καθώς και την επιρροή των Βρετανία και ΗΠΑ στη μεταπολεμική Ελλάδα. Στη βάση αυτή υποστηρίζει πως το «αίτημα για αυτοδιάθεση είναι κεντρικής σημασίας για την ελληνική ταυτότητα».
Ο ίδιος σημειώνει πως αυτό που έχει σημασία για την Ελλάδα δεν είναι εάν θα παραμείνει στην κυβέρνηση ο κ. Σαμαράς ή εάν θα τον αντικαταστήσει ο κ. Τσίπρας, αλλά το εάν η πενταετία κακουχιών και υποταγής στην τρόικα οδήγησαν στον εκσυγχρονισμό της πολιτικής κουλτούρας και της στάσης του κόσμου προς το κράτος.
Όπως υπογραμμίζει, η κρίση επέφερε πλήγμα στο σύστημα των πελατειακών σχέσεων, των δωροδοκιών, ωστόσο η διαφθορά στο δημόσιο τομέα και οι πελατειακές σχέσεις παραμένουν. Για τον ιδιωτικό τομέα, υποστηρίζει πως οι πλούσιοι Έλληνες δεν έκαναν καμία θυσία για να βοηθήσουν τη χώρα τους με αποτέλεσμα η κρίση να πλήξει τις μεσαίες και φτωχές τάξεις.