The 10 Best-Censored Stories: Key Issues That the Mass Media Largely Ignore
Klotzer, Charles L., St. Louis Journalism Review
In an insightful review of "The Manchurian Candidate" in In These Times, Michael Atkinson notes that the villains of the movie are 'the mercenary multinational corporations has not caused much of a stir. Where once Noam Chomsky was in search of audiences, today his message" has met and merged with the mainstream."
The role of corporations, while still all powerful, is under increasing scrutiny, especially their nefarious influence on the political process. Their influence is evident in nearly all of the stories cited here. Except for two, all the reports involve corporations either as beneficiaries or instigators.
Project Censored is managed through the Department of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at Sonoma (CA) State University under the supervision of Dr. Peter Phillips. He is assisted by a score of faculty, students and volunteers, who selected the following ten from 700 nominations. (For the sake of transparency, this writer is one of the final 26 national judges.)
1 Wealth inequality in 21st century
Today most economists, regardless of their political persuasion, agree that the data over the last 25 to 30 years is unequivocal. The top 5% is capturing an increasingly greater portion of the pie while the bottom 95% is clearly losing ground, and the highly touted American middle class is fast disappearing.
According to economic journalist and author David Cay Johnston, this is the product of legislative policies carefully crafted and lobbied for by corporations and the super-rich over the past 25 years.
New tax shelters in the 1980s shifted the tax burden off capital and onto labor. As tax shelters rose, the amount of federal revenue coming from corporations fell (from 35% during the Eisenhower years to 10% in 2002).
As always, America's economic trends have a global footprint--and this time, it is a crater. Today the top 400 income earners in the U.S. make as much in a year as the entire population of the 20 poorest countries in Africa (over 300 million people).
A series of reports released in 2003 by the UN and other global economy analysis groups warn that further increases in the imbalance in wealth throughout the world will have catastrophic effects if left unchecked. UN-habitat reports that unless governments work to control the current unprecedented spread in urban growth, a third of the world's population will be slum dwellers within 30 years. Currently, almost one-sixth of the world's population lives in slum-like conditions. The UN warns that unplanned, unsanitary settlements threaten both political and fiscal stability within third world countries, where urban slums are growing faster than expected. The balance of poverty is shifting quickly from rural to urban areas as the world's population moves from the countryside to the city.
As rich countries, strip poorer countries of their natural resources in an attempt to re-stabilize their own, the people of poor countries become increasingly desperate.
UN economists blame "free-trade" practices and the neo-liberal policies of international lending institutions like the IMF and WTO, and the industrialized countries that lead them, for much of the damage caused to Third World countries over the past 20 years. Many of these policies are now being implemented in the U.S., allowing for an acceleration of wealth consolidation.
The strict repayment schedules mandated by the global institutions make it virtually impossible for poor countries to move out from under their burden of debt. "In a form of colonialisation that is probably more stringent than the original, many developing countries have become suppliers of raw commodities to the world, and fall further and further behind," says one UN analyst.
SOURCES: Multinational Monitor, May 2003, "The Wealth Divide" (An interview with Edward Wolff) by Robert Weissman; Buzzflash, March 26 & 29, 2004, "A Buzzflash Interview, Parts I & II" (with David Cay Johnston) by Buzzflash Staff; London Guardian, Oct. …