"Capitalism has outlived its usefulness" -Martin Luther King, Jr

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Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/21/mlk-was-a-socialist.html

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Over the past three decades, the report notes, “the median black family saw their wealth drop by a whopping 50 percent, compared to a 33 percent increase for the median white household.”

King foreshadowed that if we maintain our exploitative economic and political systems, then we’d get not only racial apartheid, but economic apartheid as well.

And unfortunately, that is exactly where we’re heading without systemic change. While one in five Americans of any race have zero or even negative wealth, in the last 30 years we’ve seen the number of households with $10 million or more skyrocket by 856 percent.

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Yet more reason to reinstate the hardcore estate tax, tax income over $500,000 at 70%, money ≠ speech in the constitution, and bring back hard line anti-trust.

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When MLK was alive, he was disliked and antagonized by most Americans. Now he is called a hero by millions who have never read or heard a word he said. I hope that the cognitive dissonance of hearing an American hero say the cold, hard truths he challenged society with at least makes people pause and consider for a brief passing second what our roles and responsibilities are in society – and what they should be.

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It’s easier to co-opt the watered-down ideas of a dead revolutionary than to accept a live one. MLK would still be a revolutionary if he were alive today, and this depresses me. 50 years on and we are still fighting this same battle.

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Karl Marx predicted the middle class would disappear, with most of the bourgeoisie ending up in the proletariat. He may have been wrong about some things, but he seems to have predicted this correctly (though he may have gotten the timing or cause wrong.)

“Everything they taught us about communism was wrong, but everything they warned us about capitalism was right.” – Russian saying from the 1990’s

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karl-marx-awesome-crazy-dudes

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I trust Dr Marx’s diagnosis, but I refuse to take his cure

-Probably not said by Mikhail Bakunin.

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GawDAMN but I wish Aaron McGruder were still jammin’ on the funny pages these days.

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image

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I’ve actually had a look at both the Institute for Policy Studies report mentioned in the article you cite, and the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances 2016 report (which you can find here), upon which it is allegedly based. As near as I can tell, the latter completely invalidates the former. In particular, the claim about black families experiencing a substantial loss in net median wealth seems to be entirely backwards.

The Fed survey from 2016 indicates a median net worth of $17,600 (in 2016 dollars), up from $13,600 in 2013. I then went and checked the 1983 version of this report. Unfortunately, those values are only aggregated as “nonwhite and hispanic”. In this case, the value is only $1000 (1983 dollars, which apparently corresponds to just over $2400 in 2016 dollars: google for a CPI calculator. (I’d add a proper link to the one I used but apparently I’m only allowed two links per post, apologies.)

So, where the hell is this report getting its numbers from? Right now, the conclusions it draws look more like propaganda.

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From looking at both sources, I see two differences in the data. The first is that there appears to be a difference between the definitions of “wealth” and “net worth.” The second is the calculation of net worth in the Fed report seems to greatly underestimate credit card debt (by more than 2x) and completely disregard other common forms of debt that are common in lower income communities, such as payday loan debt, that have skyrocketed in the past decade.

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