How Garry Kasparov misses the point about Bernie Sanders

Kasparov

Garry Kasparov spent almost 30 years as the #1-ranked chess player in the world. He’s considered by many to be the greatest of all-time.

Chess grandmaster and Russian dissident Garry Kasparov sees the failures of his homeland reflected in the policies of Bernie Sanders. Last week he took to Facebook and The Daily Beast to warn of the dangers of big government, writing, “I’m enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means.”

Kasparov grew up in the Soviet Union and ran a courageous presidential campaign against Russia’s oppressive Vladimir Putin. He doesn’t need a lecture, but his article needs counterpoints. Even with his unique political experience Kasparov states his case in overly black and white terms. He ignores the prominent role social programs have played throughout American history and writes as though private business ventures are the world’s best – maybe only – force for good. Continue reading

Martin Shkreli, America’s most prominent gangster

Don't feel too bad that your new prescription made you go broke. It went to a good cause: This guy, who's worth an estimated $100 million.

Don’t feel too bad that your new prescription made you go broke. It went to a good cause: This guy, who’s worth an estimated $100 million.

Martin Shkreli is on the fast track to becoming America’s public enemy number one. He’s a former hedge fund manager who made his front page debut in September for acquiring the patent to a drug used by AIDS and cancer patients and then raising its price more than 5,500 percent. Since then, he’s also been outed through published social media exchanges as a creep and a bully, perhaps even criminally so. Most recently he tried to buy his way into a meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

It’s to Sanders’s credit that his campaign gave the money away to a health clinic and called Shkreli the “poster boy for drug company greed.” What makes Shkreli’s donation extra distasteful is his statement on the controversy: “He’ll take my money, but he won’t engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better.” It’s clear that Shkreli expected to receive an audience with the candidate in exchange for his donation.

Shkreli’s behavior is best characterized as mob-like. His attempt to exchange financial favors for political ones sounds an awful lot like bribery. Add to that his psychotic harassment of a former employee’s family over misappropriated funds – including a vow to see the man’s wife and children homeless on the street – and Shkreli really starts to fit the profile of unfiltered gangster villainy. Continue reading

How the state religion of capitalism keeps Americans fearful of progressive solutions

Media personality Glenn Beck is a frequent preacher of capitalist and Constitutional dogmas.

Media personality Glenn Beck, here seen delivering a sermon, is a prominent preacher of capitalist dogmas.

The word “socialism” possesses the power in American political discourse to end debates, thwart policy proposals and tarnish reputations. All FOX News has to do is put a politician’s name and “socialist” in the same sentence and the message to their viewers is clear. For millions of Americans, socialism is regarded as an existential, heretical threat.

Part of what enables this is the corruption of our vocabulary to the point where words like “socialism,” “big government” and “fascism” have almost no meaning. It’s bad enough that the technical definitions vary from textbook to textbook and society to society, but many times they often simply stand in for, as George Orwell put it, “something not desirable.” So wildly misunderstood are these concepts that in 2009, anti-Obamacare activists carried signs demanding, “Keep government socialism away from my Medicare.” This is a bit like saying, “Keep the post office away from my mail.”

Now, with self-described democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders entering the 2016 presidential race and drawing widespread popular support, the tide might be changing. But convincing Americans to violate capitalist dogma is tricky, even if it’s in their best interest. Here, capitalism is not so much an economic model as it is a national religion, with defenders as fanatical as any other. Continue reading

Work is killing America

In 2014, the

In 2014, the “Respect the Bump” campaign sought to force Walmart to end its discrimination of pregnant women.

At a time when so many Americans are struggling just to earn a decent living and find adequate employment, it may seem counterintuitive to indict the work people are doing as one of the biggest problems facing the country. But when you take a look at what our work is turning us into and what it’s actually accomplishing, it becomes clear that our priorities are all out of whack. Continue reading