Category : capitalism

The fact that no group of disaffected Washington insiders have even attempted to form a centrist third party is, in itself, a pretty strong argument that all the insiders already know the game is rigged. There’s no chance of a moderate third party gaining significant support anymore. The time was ripe, even just a few years ago, but as this article about the decline of the Blue Dog Democrats — the conservative wing of the Democratic party — points out, voters are voting out moderates.

There is an element of irony to this; the Blue Dog’s centrism was directly responsible for the toning down of some of the most progressive aspects of the original House version of the Affordable Care Act (AKA healthcare reform) and the elimination of the “public option.” Republican and moderate voters rewarded their centrism by voting them out. Despite some of these members’ popularity, the Democratic brand in their districts had been too tainted.

As the first commenter on the above article mentions, the same is true of moderate Republicans. Moderates on both sides of the aisle are being ostracized by their parties and shunned by voters (partially as the result of decreased financial support from the party apparatus, which means less TV ads).

Cast out of their jobs and their respective parties these wandering politicians and their staff would no doubt commiserate at the bar and start unifying into a cohesive new political force, right?

Wrong. There has been no serious attempt at centrist third party and it’s really suspicious that there has not been one. The idea is so obvious that you have to wonder if the insiders are afraid of something. Instead of the natural fractioning and reassembly of a multi-party system we are watching the two parties get more extreme and less able to agree on anything (except their mutual preference for a two-party system), so it leaves us with a completely deadlocked Congress. Voters on both sides thought the solution to the financial crisis was to swing the ship of state to their side, but in the end we just kept going straight. The so-called “super-committee” set up to shave trillions off our debt failed, just as it was designed to do. The rocky shoreline is now dead-ahead.

Who can turn this ship? Obama? No, he has no real power. With a completely deadlocked Congress the president is rather impotent. Any radical solutions on Obama’s part will be crushed with fervor by the right and with meekness by the paid-for left. The number of uncorrupt, intelligent and generally decent congress-critters probably numbers less than 100. The other 435+ will simply outvote the patriots and the zombie system will continue on its merry way towards the threatening shoals.

I wrote earlier that the chance of forming a third party to rebut the extremism of both parties is now zero. That’s for two reasons: First, the jagged shores are too close and second, the Occupy Wall Street has already claimed the political center and simultaneously radicalized it.

I must admit, I’m delighted by the movement’s acceptance by the mainstream population. Around 70% approve of or don’t mind the protesters nationally and 87% of New Yorkers are okay with their branch of Occupy Together. That’s a fantastic number for a protest group, and the weasel-faced party apparatchiks in Washington have surely taken notice by now. There must be a barely-controlled sense of panic in their hearts as they notice that OWS is out-polling Obama, either party, Congress (which recently came in at a laughable 9% approval rate) or basically any other institution like journalism, banks or the Supreme Court.

Despite the general perception that Occupy Wall Street is a leftist group, most of the people actually camping out are political independents. That means they either don’t vote because they think it’s rigged or they vote mostly third party and for the occasional mainstream politician who has won their support. Barack Obama was that candidate in 2008; can he be the one again in 2012? Things look doubtful, but Obama has wisely positioned himself near the group that is, essentially, more popular than he is. Will that lead to a more radical campaign platform, even one featuring bold, but practical solutions to the problems we face?

Anything is possible, but the conventional wisdom says … what? What does the conventional wisdom say we should do in a time like this?

There isn’t any “conventional” wisdom for these unconventional times. And any attempt at forming a moderate coalition will be crushed by the two-party apparatus — the only time they work in unison is when the two party system is threatened.

Humanity is facing a triple crisis: The most powerful nation is politically deadlocked and fading fast, the world’s economy is deeply sick and appears to be close to slipping into a coma from which it can never fully return, and the planet’s environment is calling out in pain and metamorphosing at an alarming rate. We are changing, but into what?

Maybe we should take a look at the birth-place of civilization as we contemplate its demise. In Egypt, there is hope.

First Egypt united to overthrew their rancid dictator in-all-but-name Hosni Mubarak, and now they have wisely and quickly sniffed out Field Marshal Tantawi’s attempts to subvert the transition to democracy by grabbing more power for the military. The people are back in Tahrir Square, protesting and dying for their freedom. It is heartening to see such a brave stand for democracy in Egypt, something we haven’t seen in America in a long, long time. But the Occupy Wall Street movement is borrowing the energy and idealism of the people of Egypt — and Syria and Tunisia and Yemen and even Israel! There are tent cities springing up all over the tiny state as its economy is squeezed by the global crunch.

We are in global revolution territory, folks.

The Occupy Together website shows just how global the movement really is. There are activities happening on every continent. There’s even an Occupy Antactica. Seriously.

As usual, the politicians are way behind the people. I’m not sure how much time is left before the 3 major crises’ Rubicons are reached, but somebody needs to do something before it’s too late. I don’t expect the current economic system to survive 2012. It might not even survive 2011 with the way things look in Europe. Every major economy is running on fumes, even China’s. We now stare down the precipice of complete and total collapse.

The powerlessness of Obama’s office notwithstanding, it is still an important center of symbolism in America. If he can find a way to tap into the Occupy Wall Street anger to effect real change in Washington it could be the trigger that’s needed to unleash the new world. The old economic system has to die, and politics-as-usual has to find a new normal. Then we can clean up this planet, unleash the hidden technologies suppressed by the oily elite and begin our journey into a Star Trek-esque future instead of a Terminator-esque future. Until the kidney-stone that is the global elite is removed from its obstructive position there will be little to no positive change on this world. To that end we must unify, occupy and reclaim the sword of liberty.

So rejoice, for the spirit of democracy still flows through the people. That is enough for me to sleep a little sounder at night, even as Late-Stage American Capitalism approaches the End-Stage. I hope there is a solution waiting in the wings (and I think there is), because this was is teetering on the edge. When it falls, Occupy Wall Street will only get more powerful. So you might as well occupy the future now.

Booo!! Hissssss!!!!

He said “socialism”! Socialism is evil! Socialism is kinda, vaguely, sorta like communism, and therefore bad!

Seriously, people. Grow the fuck up.

I’m just as much against government waste and intrusion as anybody on this planet. Read this blog; you will find pages upon pages of my ranting, most of it aimed at government stupidity and evil. But enough with the “socialism is evil” crap.

You hate socialism? Fine. But now that you’ve talked the talk you’d better walk the walk.

That means you anti-socialists will support the following minor changes to our way of life — because that’s what it takes to build a Socialism-free America:

  • Kill the Social Security program — Let grandma starve in the woods. Fuck her, she’s a leech on society. Get a job, grandma!!
  • Get rid of Medicaid/Medicare — Let’s say grandma manages to drag herself out of the woods and to the hospital. Laws require her to be treated, but guess what — you, her offspring, are stuck with the bill. Grandma needs an expensive operation and you can’t pay for it? Oh well, dig a hole.
  • Fire Department is now privately run — Just like in Roman times, if you can’t pay for the Fireman to put your fire out — up front — he just lets it burn. (Ayn Rand’s paradise exists Obion County, Tennessee.) Yay for capitalism!
  • Police Departments are disbanded — only private security firms exist, and only if you can afford to pay for them. Because the warlord system of Somalia worked so well, we decided to copy it! (I’m going to join the mafia!)
  • No Libraries – real Americans buy books, you commies!
  • Toll Roads everywhere — including right in front of your house. Wanna get to work in the morning? That’ll cost you 5 bucks. Highways are for the rich; the poor could take the bus, but since transit companies are government-subsidized they won’t exist in our socialism-free uptopia! No more subways either! Yay!
  • No public education system — are your kids going to public schools? Well not anymore, since there aren’t any! Public schools = socialism, kids! Now only the rich will be able to afford private education, while the poor youths will form gangs and wander the streets all day when they should be inside learning! And since there’s no cops there’s no one to stop them! Yay, the best of feudalism and gang-culture! You conservatives really know how to make a first-class utopia!

And thanks to our brave men and women in Congress, there’s already no public healthcare system clogging things up! Our present system works great, so long as you’re wealthy and healthy!

Isn’t this socialism-free utopia great, you guys?! No welfare, no healthcare, no roads, no cops, no firemen, no schools! Wow! It’s like heaven, but with gangs, death and disease in abundance instead of love and harmony! Yay! This is great! The taxes are so low, if I had a job I’d be making lots of money!

Thanks, conservatives! You’ve shown us the error of our ways. Now I know that the only true way to live is like the animals — kill or be killed! Might makes right! The Laws of the Jungle are more important than the Laws of God! Jesus said, “love your neighbor”, but what he meant was “only if your neighbor can reimburse you in cold, hard cash!” Hell, why not murder him and steal his property — he’d do the same to you. That’s what living in this anti-socialist nirvana is all about.

… sigh.

I’m honestly not a big fan of socialism. I lean libertarian, politically, but economic liberty is important too, and it can easily be corrupted by the rich, who then make social mobility more difficult for the poor/middle class. Socialism, regrettably, seems to be necessary for humans living in large, diverse communities. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our political liberties to make the world a better place for all. But we may have to put a crimp on Goldman Sach’s ability to make shitloads of money off the taxpayers. Corporate welfare, mind you, I am 100% against!

Seriously, can we ascend above the 4th-grade style name-calling and trite platforms designed to generate much heat but no light? If you live in America, you already live in a quasi-socialist system. And I bet you enjoy your highways, libraries and schools, don’t you? Well, then you might as well embrace the socialism moniker, because to do otherwise would be hypocritical, childish and stupid. I’m sure the American conservative movement wouldn’t stoop to that, would they?

We need you, conservatives. We need you to stop playing games and start cutting deals. Your stupid anti-socialist crusades are fucking retarded and don’t stand up to a 5-second analysis. Try being constructive.

Unless we want to be a third-world country we’re going to need universal healthcare. Yes, it’s expensive, but by all measures, it’s less than what we pay now. I don’t understand how paying twice as much for a non-government run system is considered “efficient.” I think when people say that, they really mean “efficient for us rich folk.” That’s what it’s really about — protecting the rich (as if they were an endangered, cuddly baby seal or something). Couldn’t the rich muddle through somehow? Universal healthcare does not preclude a private healthcare system any more than public schools make private school impossible.

It will be okay. The sky won’t fall. We’ll just have less paperwork to fill out since the accounting/insurance snafu will no longer exist. Can’t we all get behind that slogan? Less paperwork, more healthcare. Is that too much to ask?

Probably.

[[blink]]…[[blink]]

Uh, what? Is it New Years yet? … Wha? whatsdat? It’s the 8th already? Of 2009? Seriously?

Shit.

Well, happy new year, folks. Time flies.

I guess I’ve been so busy working, being sick, celebrating the holidays, working up for sick days, working on a website, practicing with the band, and working some more, that I haven’t had time to express my growing rage at the economic situation, which is clearly the work of vile capitalists who know how to make money off the market whether it’s going up or falling down.

Bernie Madoff’s got nothing on the dollar itself. The whole American monetary system is gigantic Ponzi scheme, waiting to collapse at the slightest provocation. This economic house of cards might just get us all killed — you remember World War II started from the ashes of the Great Depression, of course. Well, between nukes, bioweapons and chemical weapons this shit could be even worse if we don’t get out of this mess.

Does anybody know how?

From what I can tell the very same people who got us into this mess are being asked to get us out. The people who saw this coming, the Peter Schiffs and the Ron Pauls of the world, they are not being asked for their counsel, strategy or even the time of day. Nope. The Willfully Blind rush feverishly forward, wailing the whole way about how they could never have known.

Bullshit. They knew. Alan Greenspan can wade eye-deep into technical obscurity on any number of topics concerning money and markets. But you’re telling me he couldn’t see he was creating bubbles left and right? Bullshit. He knew exactly what he was doing and this downturn was planned long ago.

They plan to soak us dry, for every last penny we’ve got. The Ponzi scheme’s house of cards crushes the people at the bottom when it falls. That’s the whole point. The guys high up the hierarchy escape with the aid of their golden parachutes and insider knowledge; the rest of us get to hold the damn thing on our shoulders until it finally breaks our spines and we die, another generations of slaves beaten, broken and used by their illuminoid masters. We wore ties instead of chains but the end result — endless work for pitiful rewards — remained constant. We are a planet of serfs, dutifully laboring away for the guy in the castl-.. er, “mansion” up on the hill because if we don’t we don’t receive the resources necessary to live.

Maybe we should just learn to enjoy it. But sometimes these elite assholes like to deny us even the courtesy of a job to slave away at. And so we enter another such time, when you can smell the desperation in the air and wages stay stagnant while business cut back and hope to survive the storm. Desperate men are easy to manipulate; desperate businesses have to cut costs — the cycle is not a happy one for the wageslaves.

Oh God, I’m gonna go to sleep before I rant all night, typing my fingers off in the uncaring darkness. I gotta let it go; just roll with it. Sometimes I actually hope for the apocalypse (preferably a zombie apocalypse) so we can dispense with the bullshit.

Happy 2009, slaves. Let’s hope Master doesn’t whip us too hard this year.

Holy cow — lookout! There’s banks falling like boulders all around us!

Luckily for them, when big, important institutions such as investment banks fail, they fall right into the loving arms of the Bush administration.

AIG, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch this week alone. Am I forgetting one? Probably. Now regulators are calling other banks looking for buyers in case Washington Mutual fails too.

Wall Street couldn’t be in worse shape if it was literally on fire.

But, the GOP is there to bail these irresponsible banks out of trouble with — you guessed it — taxpayer money.

Soviet Palin

That’s what the Establishment truly believes in: Socializing losses and privatizing profits.

God bless America, Comrade.

Er… wait, was it “modest” or “obviously brilliant”?

Regardless, I have an idea, everyone! Stand back, place safety goggles over your eyes, make sure the lead-lined X-ray bib is securely fastened to your chest and that your boots tied up tight.

Some Background
Now, I may be an old-fashioned (young) guy, but I believe that fair is fair. And our tax code, ladies and gentlemen, is not fair.

For instance, did you know that:

Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress.The study by the Government Accountability Office, expected to be released Tuesday, said about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.

Collectively, the companies reported trillions of dollars in sales, according to GAO’s estimate.

What a sweet deal for them! They get to operate without having a huge tax burden weighing down on them, freeing them to make more investments and take more risks.

Of course, they have a shitload of capital, credit and resources to begin with. But this is America, goddammit! We don’t make corporations pay taxes no matter how much they fuck up the environment or make insane profits on the backs of their low-income workers.

But — and I’m getting to my ridiculously cool proposal — I can’t help but think that it’s not especially fair that multi-billion dollar companies don’t have to pay any taxes (ZERO fucking taxes) whereas, I, as a Regular Joe, have to pay about 30% of my income in taxes every year.

Perhaps I am just a whiner, not fit to lick the boots of a mighty multinational like Wal*mart. I know, I know. This is America. Corporations have more rights and resources than regular citizens. Yeah, “The Constitution guarantees…” blah blah blah… Obviously the Constitution don’t mean shit. Money talks and the Constitution was written on hemp paper by a bunch of proto-hippy revolutionaries who wore funny clothes and probably squealed like girls when tickled.

This is America, goddammit! We drive hummers and invade countries full of smelly brown people who are all determined to kill us (our Media assures us this; it must be true!) or even just because they looked at us funny. We don’t have time for “rules” or “equality” or what’s it called.. uh…. libraries? .. no… uh, — “Liberty!” Yeah, that’s it.

But what I want is not to return our country to the whole Constitution thing. I’m not that naive. However, I do think it would be freakin’ neat if we lived in a country where lawful citizens were counted as 3/5ths of a corporation. Currently, we’re about a zillionth of a corporation, so 3/5ths would be a vast improvement.

My Blindingly-Awesome Proposal
U.S. citizens, when paying their taxes, should be able to write off “overhead“. Only our “profits” should be taxed.

That means, no taxes should be administered until after the essentials of running a healthy body/mind have been accounted for.

What are the essentials? Food, water, shelter and clothing are a good start (no, a big screen TV is not an “essential”). That means I should be able to deduct all of the money I spend on food, rent/mortgage and clothes (within reason) before any other deductions. A healthy mind is important, too, so education costs, books and maybe even an internet connection should also be deductable.

Also, I have to have certain things in order to do my job — or even get to it — like a functioning car, gas, a bunch of hygienic equipment to look/smell nice, a cell phone and a computer. That’s all overhead; my paycheck is not “profit.” It’s revenue. I have to spend a big chunk of it just to stay alive and another chunk to fit into the corporate world. These are expenses and they are subtracted from revenue before you end up with profits — if you have any.

As you probably know, only corporate profits are taxable. Most overhead costs (the costs of running a business) are exempt. Wikipedia lists examples of overhead expenses as follows:

Overhead expenses include accounting fees, advertising, depreciation, indirect labor, insurance, interest, legal fees, rent, repairs, supplies, taxes, telephone bills, travel and utilities costs.

So I should be able to deduct my high-paid accountants as well. Then I can make sure, like most corporations, that I pay no income tax. Alternately, we could just leave gaping loopholes in the tax code so normal people don’t have to hire expensive accountants (and then deduct the costs of their services). Something like, “if you don’t feel like paying any income tax this year, check this box.”

So you see, my super-cool proposal just brings Joe Sixpack into the same league as the corporations, who already have incredible advantages in the economy because of their size and reach.

Corporate Welfare is Only for Wealthy Corporations
Small businesses generally take it up the rear as well since they can’t afford all those slippery accountants. Or maybe those small businesses just need to take a page from the criminals on Wall Street and learn how to privatize profits while socializing losses.

It doesn’t seem fair to me that the average guy/gal has to assume the vast majority of the tax burden when most of are making jack diddly squat compared to a major multinational. Fair is fair. Progressive income taxation is based on the idea that the rich should pay a greater portion of their income because they can afford it and because they owe it to society; especially since the rich people/corporations take advantage of the situation and pay their workers a pitance while making them work long hours in often-dangerous conditions. Meanwhile, the CEO gets his taxes paid for by the corporation via what is known as a “gross-up”.

Think it’s unfair of me to use the corporate tax code instead of the individual one? Well, like I said, fair is fair. Corporations are increasingly using the individual tax code:

An outside tax expert, Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, said increasing numbers of limited liability corporations and so-called “S” corporations pay taxes under individua
l tax codes.

“Half of all business income in the United States now ends up going through the individual tax code,” Edwards said.

Turnabout is fair play.

Even though my brilliant tax proposal seems like a total giveaway I could make it a reality. If I had high-powered corporate lobbyists at my disposal I could enact all sorts of people-friendly laws. I’d use my army of ninja-lobbyists to get a 28-hour work week and every Friday off, along with guaranteed overtime for salaried workers and an Economic Bill of Rights for all.

Instead, the already-rich corporations have the lobbyists and they use them to get ever-greater amounts corporate welfare. Then they rewrite the laws so that the managers pay a lesser percentage of tax than their secretaries do, as Warren Buffett pointed out:

Speaking at a $4,600-a-seat fundraiser in New York for Senator Hillary Clinton, Mr Buffett, who is worth an estimated $52 billion (£26 billion), said: “The 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”

Mr Buffett said that he was taxed at 17.7 per cent on the $46 million he made last year, without trying to avoid paying higher taxes, while his secretary, who earned $60,000, was taxed at 30 per cent.

Notice how he implies he could’ve made his effective tax rate much lower if he had bothered. But he didn’t. Badass. But most CEOs are not as cool as Warren… of course, he could probably stand to pay his secretary more than 60K a year if he’s making 46 million, don’t you think?

Anyway, the point is: The system is unfair. Let’s try to level the playing field a little bit.

My proposal is not to make humans equal to corporations. That’s crazy. I just want to make a person worth 3/5ths of a corporation. Is that too much to ask?

Eat The Rich

Europe is not immune from stupidity, greed, fascism and ignorance. It’s good to remember that sometimes.

Italy is experiencing a fascist resurgence not seen since the times of Mussolini. It’s a wonder that there’s so little memory of those hard times, but I guess the war has been over for 60 years and to remember it well you’d have to be 70 or older, but it’s still distressing that the authoritarian streak has not run its course. Instead the Italians are rounding up and fingerprinting Gypsies and soon-to-be-Chancellor Berlusconi signed a new law outlawing gatherings of 3 or more people. I don’t know how you can go out for a walk with more than one friend without running afoul of this law, but that, we should remember, is the point of fascist laws.

However opposition councillors [sic] said it was “reminiscent of Benito Mussolini’s edict of the 1920′s which banned groups of five or more people”.

The ban will not affect courting couples who flock to parks and gardens in the northern Italian city of Novara, where Mr Giordano holds power, but if anyone is caught in a group of three or more they face a fine of 500 euro (£350).

That’s a fuckload of money, to me at least. Then again, the point of such laws is to make it impossible for poor ruffians to gather. There will be no such problems if the rich decide to gather. Assuming they even get fined (unlikely) they will be able to pay the fine without a second thought. Wealth, or lack thereof, is the new apartheid.

Speaking of the rich, they have a different outlook on things. Whereas I look as this law and see cheerful fascism, they look at it and see a good, strong, hard-line against lazy trouble-making youths and other undesirables. Put those Gypsies on a train to Dachau for all they care. Having clean streets and no thieving Gypsies around is all that matters.

Fascism is the codification of the rights of the rich and comfortable. These rich-rights are a little more encompassing than normal rights since the rich already have those rights; they want to be secure from beggars (read: “undesirables”), assured of good pay (for themselves), protected from economic turbulence (privatizing profits but socializing losses) and ensconed in communities of like-minded peers (gated communities and absurdly posh condos).

Why? Because they deserve it. Or at least they sure think they do:

One banker said: “It’s a fact of modern life that there is disparity and ‘Is it fair or unfair?’ is not a valid question. It’s just the way it is, and you have to get on with it. People say it’s unfair when they don’t do anything to change their circumstances.” In other words, they see themselves as makers of their own fortune. Or, as another banker said, “Quite a lot of people have done well who want to achieve, and quite a lot of people haven’t done well because they don’t want to achieve.”

So you see, the real problem is that the rest of us are lazy, no-talent, whiners who didn’t work hard enough or aim high enough.

That might be true of some people, but most of us would be overjoyed to have the opportunity to me $250,000 a year. Shit, if all we had to do was work harder why didn’t somebody tell us that?

Oh wait, it doesn’t matter how hard you work as a teacher, nurse, construction worker or shopkeeper: You will never make $250,000.

They had chosen a life that would make them rich while others, making different and morally equivalent choices, had abdicated their right to complain. “Some of these are vocational, things like nurses . . . It’s accepted – they go into it knowing that that’s part of the deal.” Another said: “Many people, like teachers, don’t do things for the pay. But you won’t find a teacher that works as hard as we do.” This was categorical, evidence unnecessary. They spoke of heroic all-nighters drawing up contracts for clients in time zones on the other side of the globe, a Herculean effort that justified fat pay. But did they work 10 times as hard as a teacher on £30,000 a year or, in the case of some lawyers and bankers, 100 times as hard? Such disproportionality did not enter their scheme of things.

So I guess the real solution is for all of us to be become bankers and lawyers. Can you imagine a world in which everybody was a banker? It’d be great except that nothing would get done!

For all their talk about making the world work most bankers never lift anything heavier than their laptop computer. They are useless parasites on the neck of humanity. But fire them all and a new crop of greedy junior bankers will arise. The problem is systemic. Why do the bankers get paid so much? Because they can.

All of this talk about the free market and other such justifications is a tired excuse. The free market is not a benevolent hand making everything okay. It’s a ruthless mosh-pit of greedy, back-stabbing, amoral snakes all out to achieve dominance at any cost. The bankers are simply superior at being sleazy.

Look at what the rest of the population makes in comparison to those $250,000 (minimum) salaries:

The rich think that they are the uppercrust of humanity because their skills, talents and brains were allowed to rise to the top of the heap. I think it’s very much the opposite: Those on the top already have an easy time bringing their offspring to the same level while simultaneously rigging the system to keep the rest of us down.

Money, after all, is a zero-sum game and when you have a lot of it you can use it to create advantages for your kind (swanky private schools with huge tuitions) and disadvantages for those you want to keep down (regressive taxation, pointless wars, decrepit public education systems, etc.). It’s almost too easy. They don’t even have to think up plausible explanations for why they’re so rich and we’re not.

“Providing for children” was flourished as a trump card, as if spending on offspring were automatically moral and good, regardless of how other people’s children fare.

“I work hard, I’ve got two boys and I want to provide for them.” Providing for children meant buying them access to high-earning jobs, taking trusted routes through school and university.

The worst part about all of this is that most of the rest of us may feel a twinge of jealousy over their wealth but if given the chance to become rich like them or change the system most of us would choose wealth.

There’s nothing quite like money for proving to the world that you’re better than everyone else, and the only people who believe that more fervently than the rich are the poor.

Ah, the wisdom of Twitter. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s amazing what you can fit in 140 characters… such as a complete evisceration of the mainstream media (MSM) because of their utter, obsequious hypocrisy and the biased, treasonous way they frame and focus on issues. Here it is, from Chuck Olsen:

“If the corporate media had been as diligent about watchdogging the president as… Rev. Wright, it’s likely we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq.”

Boom. Pretty much says it all doesn’t it?

Here’s where he originally found that quote.

The corporate media chooses — seemingly as one — what to make a big deal out of. And what to blackout.

The Corporate Media (especially the TV news stations who were caught red-handed) have been feeding us Pentagon-approved talking points through the supposedly-independent retired generals who show up for interviews about the war. Strange that they never invite peaceniks on the air, isn’t it? Well, war is big business. You can’t expect truth and fairness when the bottom line is at stake.

Quite simply, the Media act as a megaphone for the positions they support and a censor for those they do not. Peace, wisdom, tranquility, free thought…. these concepts are all offensive to the corporate media. They would rather focus on strife, stupidity, distraction and obedience.

All three major cable news networks are wasting valuable air time on Senator Obama’s former pastor. Why? Is the story newsworthy? Sure. Is wall-to-wall Wright coverage more important than Iraq or gas prices or the climate crisis? No way. But Reverend Wright is a scary, shouting black man and scary shouting black men equal ratings-sweet-ratings.

We expect to see this sort of race-baiting behavior from Fox News Channel, but CNN and MSNBC have, once again, similarly crossed the tabloid threshold into the very same nefarious Roger Ailes realm by beating this nothing story to death.

They’re all the same. Fox News is simply the worst offender. But instead of being an embarrassment to decent journalists everywhere Fox News is seen a pioneer, a bold leader in the (fascist) future of news. Thus, the other news channels simply follow Fox’s lead.

Face it folks: Our mainstream media is controlled. Totally controlled. By just five mega-corporations, all of whom have interests vastly different from the average American.

Is it too hard to imagine that these corporations embrace war, hypocrisy and distraction? Five corporations means five CEOs. These reptilian CEOs have a different agenda than the common man. They’re often Republican, always rich, usually ruthless and seldom charitable. These five scumfucks control 90% of what we see, hear or read in the press and they’ve all profited from the war. The only thing that gives us a chance at regaining our freedom is the internet and I assure you this blog and others like it don’t have ratings anywhere near that of Fox or CNN.

So when you see the Media trumpeting something, be it Paris Hilton, Rev. Wright or American Idol, just remember that they’re showing you what they want you to know and they’re hiding the rest. For everything they tell you they’re obscuring another ten useful facts with their incessant bullshit.

The media doesn’t investigate, they serve the rich; they afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable. They are traitors, liars, demons and filth. I consider Big Media’s tacit embrace of the Iraq War before and after the fact to be nothing less than treason.

One former participant, NBC military analyst Kenneth Allard, has called the effort “psyops on steroids.” As Barstow reports, “Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as ‘message force multipliers’ or ‘surrogates’ who could be counted on to deliver administration ‘themes and messages’ to millions of Americans ‘in the form of their own opinions.’ … Don Meyer, an aide to Ms. Clarke, said a strategic decision was made in 2002 to make the analysts the main focus of the public relations push to construct a case for war.”

If there’s any justice in this world they will all burn in the hell they’ve created. I say we give them all a one-way ticket to Baghdad. Sleep in the bed you’ve made, Fuckers!

I was reading a well-researched look into fascism in America when I came across this quote by FDR:

“The “privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction….” They erected a “new industrial dictatorship” which controlled the “hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor….”

“For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor-other people’s lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real….”

“Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended …”

I think it’s still relevant today, unfortunately. Roosevelt was not able to end economic fascism in his lifetime and now it’s back with a vengeance. Economic tyranny is as much of a problem as political tyranny.

In 1944 Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed an “Economic Bill of Rights” that would radically transform the economic policies of our nation to ensure freedom from oppression by Big Business. He saw that political freedom meant nothing if you didn’t have food to eat or a roof to sleep under. Shockingly, FDR’s dream is still unfulfilled 64 years later, but his reasoning and his solutions still hold up.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights-among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however-as our industrial economy expanded-these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. [emphasis mine]

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all-regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

  1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
  2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; [fascinating inclusion!]
  3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  5. The right of every family to a decent home;
  6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  8. The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

While none of the above are guaranteed to every citizen, in many cases America has made a half-assed attempt to realize them. Let’s look at how America 2008 matches up with FDR’s dream:

  1. There is no right to work or hold a job.
  2. Minimum wage laws attempt to set a floor for worker pay yet businessmen still howl whenever we try to raise it in keeping with inflation. Minimum wage is America is currently $5.85 an hour and will rise to $7.25 in July of 2009.
  3. Farmers are a relic of FDR’s time. Big business controls much of the industry. Farmers do have some price supports but these may cause more harm than good.
  4. The SEC and other watchdog groups are in place to ensure fairness, but they’ve been largely infiltrated by the industries they’re supposed to watch, especially under the Bush administration.
  5. We don’t have a right to a home.
  6. We still don’t have universal health care, but we do have Medicare and Medicaid.
  7. Social Security
  8. Public schooling up to 12th grade. “Good”? No comment.

Overall, not too bad, but some of the big ones are totally missing. Economic inequality is worse today than it was in FDR’s time.

The article makes the point that the idea of big government restrictions on business is a sort of fascism. I disagree. It’s socialism.

Fascism is more akin to a merger of Big Government and Big Business. Policies in fascist countries are laissez faire when business leaders want them, but they can quickly swing the other way depending on who stands to lose/gain. It’s closer to oligarchy and “might makes right.” Fascism allows businesses to destroy each other through the power of the state. It all depends on who knows who and who’s in power.

Socialism and fascism were both attempts to find a middle ground between laissez faire capitalism and totalitarian communism. Fascism was an attempt from the perspective of business and socialism was an attempt from the perspective of the common man. Fascists were willing to cede political freedom in exchange for economic security whereas socialists surrendered economic freedom in exchange for political security.

Neither system works perfectly, but a look at Europe over the last 70 years should tell you which one is generally superior. Fascism was mostly a lie; fascist leaders denounced the tyranny of communism and turned around and did just as bad when they attained power. Socialism, on the other hand, is the norm in most of western Europe and largely successful and fair. While it results in high taxes and lots of regulation the Bush administration has shown how devastating deregulation can be and their tax cuts for the rich did nothing but spit in the face of the middle class.

It’s ironic that the same Europe that was ravaged by fascism 70 years ago is now a paragon of the economic liberty that FDR envisioned… and that America is in the grip of a shadowy new form of fascism.

"A Banker's Coup"

There’s an article you need to read. Here’s a bite-sized piece:

Congress is being muscled out of financial market supervision by a troop of venal banksters and corporate picaroons who are threatening to finish-off the already-defanged SEC. That will put the Fed in the driver’s seat for good. Paulson wants to police the world’s most complex markets on the “honor system”. It’s crazy. His blueprint is an obvious attempt to consolidate market-related functions under a central authority that is accountable to private industry alone. That way, the Fed can bailout whomever it chooses without congressional approval. Paulson’s press conference was just a polite way of informing the American people that the seat of power has shifted from Washington to Wall Street. It’s a banker’s coup.

Want another hit? Read the whole thing.

My own take: He’s right. And it’s absolutely insane to give these people more power since they’ve already fucked up so royally.

…But maybe that was the plan from the start. We have to remember who we’re dealing with. These fascist oligarchs would love nothing more than to be finally rid of the meddlesome middle class. This deliberately-stoked financial crisis will wipe out the American middle class while the global elite will escape with just a few financial bruises… even though they caused the damn collapse to happen.

There’s justice for you.

The mainstream media is covering the global elite: The Superclass.

What is the world coming to? Are we actually going to have an honest discussion on the nature of the Super-rich and their incredibly disproportionate influence upon the world?

I doubt it, but it’s still nice to see Newsweek talking about it… of course, the author positively lusts after the power in front of him:

Recalling an earlier crisis in global securities markets that he helped to manage, Geithner said the Fed brought together the leaders of the world’s 14 major financial firms, from five countries, representing 95 percent of all the activity in global markets. The Swiss were there, the Germans were there, the British were there. Interestingly, no Asians were there, not even the Japanese. Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein “jokingly called them ‘the 14 families,’ like in ‘The Godfather’,” says Geithner. “And we said to them, “You guys have got to fix this problem. Tell us how you are going to fix it and we will work out some basic regime to make sure there are no free riders to give you comfort; you know that if you move individually everybody else will move with you.”

There was nothing in writing, no rules, no formal process, and while no one asked the Fed to act, the Fed let everyone in the markets know it was acting. The beauty of the process was its absolute efficiency, seeing what a tight circle of large firms with “some global reach” could get done, fast—with an executive committee of only four running the weekly conference call until the crisis was past.

There was nothing in writing because it’s not a democratic process. It’s an oligarchical one. These super-rich folks have a common interest — maintaining their power — and they’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.

The people on the recent calls like those described by Geithner, plus a few thousand more like them, not only in business and finance, but also politics, the arts, the nonprofit world and other realms, are part of a new global elite that has emerged over the past several decades. I call it the “superclass.” They have vastly more power than any other group on the planet. Each of the members is set apart by his ability to regularly influence the lives of millions of people in multiple countries worldwide. Each actively exercises this power, and often amplifies it through the development of relationships with other superclass members.

It’s just like high school. The super-rich have formed their own clique and none of the rest of us are invited “in”. Nope, we’re outsiders…. which seems odd because there’s approximately 6,000 of them and 6,000,000,000 of us.

So how does one become a member? As ever, being rich certainly helps. Many superclass members are wealthy, wealthier in relative terms than any elite ever has been. The top 10 percent of all people, for example, now control 85 percent of all wealth on the planet.

It’s very stable. It’s orderly, and it works.

But it’s not democracy.

In fact, when I said “it works” I meant that the system works. I didn’t mention anything about whether or not it works for everybody. Clearly, with most of the world’s population in either mild or abject poverty, the system does not work fairly or equitably.

So here’s a question: Why do we need these guys?

What benefit do they bring me? Or you? Right now they only bring the status quo, but with the economy faltering (and these guys being in a position to see it coming) it seems to me that they’re bringing us a world of pain. The superclass will have time to jump ship. They’ve probably already moved much of their wealth to Euros or gold. The rest of us? We’re just trying to get by.

If they fuck us over, I say it’s on. You ruin my standard of living, I might just ruin yours.

The iconic symbol of superclass unity is the Gulfstream private jet. In fact, one way to measure the clout of an event is to count the private jets at the nearest airport. According to Gulfstream, Davos traditionally attracts more of its planes than any other gathering, drawing up to 10 percent of the 1,500 planes in service to Zurich airport. But this year’s Olympics in Beijing will give it a run for its money, as typically do events as diverse as the Monaco Grand Prix, China’s Boao Forum, the Geneva Auto Show or Allen & Co.’s annual getaway for media magnates in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Globalization looks different when you can tell the pilot when to leave and where to go, and when there are no security lines to wait in when you are heading off for distant destinations. Those who are free to move about the planet this way come to have more in common with themselves than with their own countrymen. “What happened to us, that we walk through the Davos party and know more people than when we were walking across the village green in the town we live in?” wonders Mark Malloch-Brown, former Deputy Secretary General at the United Nations and now a senior official in the British Foreign Ministry.

The Gulfstream jet is a perfect metaphor for these people. They are in the fast lane while the rest of us take the bus. There’s only one word for it: Class.

I thought America was supposed to be a classless (or at least upwardly mobile) society, but it seems like we’ve copied the British class system almost to the letter. Throw some more racism and capitalism in the mix and you’ve got Britain 2.0. Is that what our founding fathers wanted?

People tell me that I shouldn’t wage class warfare, to which I say: “What the fuck are you talking about? The war is over. The rich won a long time ago.”

… their companies pick up the bill. Isn’t that nice?

You may think I’m just making stuff up, but this info is from a new study (via USA Today):

A new study from The Corporate Library finds that the most common form of perk being granted to CEOs these days is something called a tax “gross-up.” In plain English, it means that a company pays the taxes owed by the CEO on benefits granted by the company.

The Corporate Library, a shareholder watchdog group, found that 20% of major American companies, or 657 of nearly 3,300 examined, picked up the tab on at least one tax owed by the CEO.

“We are sure that many U.S. workers would be grateful if their employers also paid their income tax obligations,” writes Paul Hodgson of The Corporate Library in the report.

You’re damn right, Paul. How fucking sweet would that be?

Those poor, hard-working billionaire CEOs! We can’t just hand them a billion dollars and expect them to pay their own taxes can we? Heck, no, we need a welfare program for CEOs.

What utter fascism.

What’s that you say? This has nothing to do with fascism? I disagree; here’s why:

The guiding fascist principle is “might makes right”. Fascism is all about making things orderly, especially for those who rule. Far from being the goal, social equality is looked at as something undesirable, perhaps even unnatural. Fascists love the pyramid structure. They want a firm, unyielding power structure that’s easy to understand; they need a strong leader who is completely above everyone else, like a Pharoah or a Emperor. That’s why Bush is so popular with so many people who are actually adversely affected by his policies. They love being ruled with an iron fist. The opposite makes them feel afraid, whereas the pyramid structue makes them feel safe. Democracy is chaos. Fascism is order.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that our business leaders organize things in a pyramidal, hierarchical fashion as well. It’s not necessary to pay CEOs and other execs huge sums of money; they don’t really need it, but they do want it. It’s a status symbol. Their obscene paycheck makes them a god, a pharoah. It places them way beyond the reach of the rest of us. They represent the ultimate promise of capitalism: to become godlike without being born into it. And of course, if you want to emphasize your godliness, you must also emphasize the weakness of the puny, pathetic mortals who work under you. That’s why perfectly rational companies gladly pay obscenely wasteful amounts of money to CEOs while simultaneously pinching pennies when it comes to regular workers.

It’s no fun being a god if there’s no one to worship you. But it gets funny. Search around and you’ll find plenty of people defending CEO salaries and this gross-up technique. They’ve slurped the Kool-Aid and they think they can become CEOs one day too. It’s the American Dream after all…. but what percentage of us actually becomes a CEO?

The article above focuses on 3000 major companies. There are 300 million Americans. You have a 0.001% chance of being one of their CEOs. Good luck.

This story is too ironic for comment:

After Sony BMG supplied a pirated license code for Ideal Migration, one of PointDev’s products, the software maker was able to mandate a seizure of Sony BMG’s assets. The subsequent raid revealed that software was illegally installed on four of Sony BMG’s servers. The Business Software Alliance, however, believes that up to 47 percent of the software installed on Sony BMG’s computers could be pirated.

These are some pretty serious—not to mention ironic—allegations against a company that’s gone so far as to install malware on consumers’ computers in the name of preventing piracy.

Read the whole article.