Category : corporatism

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.

Are all of these corruption scandals and bailouts for the rich just a ‘confluence of interest’ wherein the richest people in the world just happen to all be on the same page? Did all of these attacks on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange just materialize out of the shared frustration of ultra-rich patriots?

Or is there something darker at work?

While I agree confluence of interest makes it possible for the elite to work towards the same ends without ever talking to each other, doesn’t it also make it more likely they would see the benefit in conspiring since their interests are already aligned? Why not coordinate your attacks?

It’s not like we can stop them either way.

The editor of the New York Times has recently admitted they let the US government review all of the WikiLeaks docs the NYT published, before they were published. While not technically a conspiracy (because it’s not illegal), this is just one more example of how the supposedly independent news outlets of the US are really just state-run media with a few corporate strings attached. I highly recommend reading this Glenn Greenwald article.:

It’s extraordinary that the New York Times is clearing what it says about this with the U.S. Government, but that says a lot about the politics here…

The independent mainstream press is a fantasy.

There are all of these datapoints (secrecy, lies, corruption, bailouts for the rich, etc.) that obviously point to a conspiracy by the powers that be and yet many are still bound and determined to not look deeper into the maw of malfeasance that has engulfed our political and economic systems.

I guess I’ll mention the “I” word since we’re heading that direction already: Do you know who the Illuminati are? They’re glorified bankers. They are behind-the-scenes power-brokers who have enough money to make or break nations by either granting or denying loans. Look at the Rothschild family for a quick overview and just remember what happened when the bankers collapsed our economy 2 years ago. The government and the Federal Reserve (which the Illuminati basically owns outright) were quick to give them trillions upon trillions of dollars. That’s why you buy government officials off; it’s well worth it.

The natural course of human economic affairs is towards consolidation. Think of the Illuminati as a criminal gang who managed to forge a monopoly/oligarchy. They are the ultimate cartel. Do you believe in the Mafia? Well, believing in the Illuminati is no different; just a more refined — almost classy — version of Sicilian justice. Instead of controlling prostitution, gambling and drugs, the Illuminati control whole countries (wherein they let the Mafia run the aforementioned underworld black-markets).

I think we need to look at the endemic corruption that surrounds us as an invitation to dig deeper. Don’t flinch and stop looking because the horror is too great. We have no hope of getting our country back as long as we believe the party line that corruption in government is just the result of a few bad apples.

Here’s a question: How come (according the Media) corruption in banking, government and other white collar jobs is always the result of “a few bad apples” but whenever some dumbass Muslim kid buys an explosive it’s always a huge, global, interlocking terrorist conspiracy sworn to destroy us for our freedoms?

Seems awfully convenient.

Meanwhile the Democrats are caving on extending Bush’s tax cuts for the richest 2% — at a cost of $700 billion — in order to get a measly $60 billion in unemployment benefits from the Republicans. What a fucking joke. As per the usual plan the Democrats pretended to fight the good fight, then took a fall in the last round to give the Republicans another preordained victory. You’d think the party that controls the Senate and the presidency could scrounge a bit more out of the party that will soon control only the House, but that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world of conspiracies. If it gets much more obvious, those of you who still deny it will be the ones accused of being nutjobs. In fact, I think we’re at that point. How do you explain this and the other issues I’ve raised, if not through the machinations of the ruling class? And if the ruling class does act as one being through a confluence of interest, how is that any functionally different from a nefarious conspiracy?

Either way we’ve gotten to the point where the system does not even pretend to work for the common man anymore. We need more organizations like WikiLeaks to shed light on the inner working of our government, the banking apparatus and high-powered corporations.I highly recommend this article, which is itself a summation of a post by Julian Assange on how WikiLeaks hopes to disrupt the ability of conspirators to plan and execute their conspiracies by throwing their communication into the light. A taste:

Conspiracies are cognitive devices. They are able to out-think the same group of individuals acting alone. Conspiracies take information about the world in which they operate (the conspiratorial environment), pass through the conspirators and then act on the result. We can see conspiracies as a type of device that has inputs (information about the environment), a computational network (the conspirators and their links to each other) and outputs (actions intending to change or maintain the environment). Since a conspiracy is a type of cognitive device that acts on information acquired from its environment, distorting or restricting these inputs means acts based on them are likely to be misplaced. Programmers call this effect garbage in, garbage out. Usually the effect runs the other way; it is conspiracy that is the agent of deception and information restriction. In the US, the programmer’s aphorism is sometimes called “the Fox News effect”.

So basically, Assange plans to starve the beast of its communication system and limit its ability to act unobserved. This will send a shockwave of panic and inaction through the mind of the conspiracy, rendering it unable to formulate new plots and execute them with any efficacy. It’s a bold aim, to be sure. But something has to be done. Conventional attempts to solve the very real problems have not worked. They haven’t worked because the game is rigged; you can’t vote “Them” out of power; they own both parties. Only when people start to see the very real conspiracies that perpetuate our very real problems will we get close to solving said problems. The current system is set up so we have no real choice or voice.

Before you let America’s (or your own) apathy subsume your hope for the future just take a closer look at what Assange is doing. He’s trying to cripple the conspiratorial consciousness. It’s not fantasy — after Iceland decided not to bail out the bankers it caused a temporary breakdown in the control-grid. That created an opening and Iceland is using it to write a new constitution.

It’s not going to be easy, but this is our moment. We’re finally seeing the control-grid crack and openings start to appear. Maybe if/when the banksters demand another bailout we can mount a better organized campaign to make sure Congress doesn’t accede, then use the momentum to bring our own Constitution back online.

I see a lot of common ground between liberals (i.e. leftist Democrats and independents) and libertarians (big L and small L). It’s unfortunate that a few fundamental issues divide them because there’s so much room for collaboration, especially when it comes to the calamitous policies of the Federal Reserve.

A Solution: First Steps
First, people need to chill out on both sides of this debate. Second, realize that what I’m proposing is not new, just misunderstood. I’ve jokingly called myself a libertarian socialist before, but today I found that there really is such a thing.

Now, what I’m about to do will piss off both liberals and libertarians, but I need to criticize both approaches before we can find a happy medium. This might be painful for you if you fall on one side or the other, but please bear with me; each side will get its fair share of abuse. And praise.

Neither Side is Perfect
The libertarians, especially social conservatives, need to realize that they do try to protect rich too much even though it’s the rich who created the Fed and many of our current economic problems. It’s the rich, after all, who can afford to thrive during times of moderate to high inflation because they can hire a team of accountants, investment bankers and so on to ride the rough waters of fiat capitalism.

Some well-meaning libertarians, being perpetually out of power, are gradually seduced into supporting right-wing bombthrowers like Glenn Beck, which only makes them look stupid, racist, backwards and irrational to a liberal. The tea parties have not succeeded because they are partisan and co-opted by mainstream Republican politicians like Minnesota’s own Michele Bachmann, tapping into anger and doing nothing to really change things. If they were non-partisan End the Fed rallies that might be a step in the right direction. But many libertarians hate liberals because the Democrats who get elected tend to be corrupt establishment figures — just like Republican politicians.

Conversely, the leftist populists need to realize that Obama is not the savior they want him to be. He’s a politican like any other and he’s just playing the game. Note how little has changed since he took office. He’s made lots of noise about change, but our Empire is still killing peasants in Afghanistan, our privacy is still nonextistent as warrantless wiretapping continues, and our economy is still in the thrall of the rich as Bernanke gets re-upped for another term and the idiots who supported deregulation (like Summers) get cushy jobs in the administration. Meanwhile, Obama’s tackling (and losing) the health care fight when he should be focused on the economy first and foremost. I support universal healthcare, but the conservatives are right to question how we’re gonna pay for it. Shouldn’t we get our economic house in order before we make massive commitments to future spending?

The Health Care Riddle
The health care conundrum is a medium-sized part of our economic problems. The bigger problem is exactly what the Libertarians are talking about (and what progressive left-wing publications like the HuffPo are finally starting to realize): The secretive Fed’s embrace of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking will make peasants of us all.

This government, and everything in it (including Obama) is controlled by the banking apparatus. Look at how quickly the bailout and stimulus packages were passed in comparison to health care reform. And yet we could’ve easily paid for health care for every single American with the money we threw at the bankers so they could erase the red ink from their bottom lines and then refuse to give loans to regular people. Bonuses to executives are already back to pre-crash levels.

My point is that unless we fix the underlying issue we’ll be back at square one again. Unless a new amendment is added to the Bill of Rights guaranteeing free health care for all (not bloody likely) the bankers will find a way to put us back in the poor house again. Congress will bankrupt whatever public option we create unless it is rock-fucking-solid. Because of the inflationary and demographic bubbles we face, Social Security and Medicare will likely go bankrupt within a few decades. How will adding more financial obligations to the pile help us solve this mess?

Sometimes Society is to Blame
The typical libertarian response is to say “Get government off my back!” I think libertarians are susceptible to Republican messaging because the Republican politicians pretend to be in favor of limited government. And both libertarians and Republicans see poor people as failed and lazy.

Here’s something libertarians can learn from liberals: Sometimes the main forces that cause poverty really are society’s fault. More specifically to blame: government and corporate interests from banking to health care who are in favor of fiscally incapacitated citizens who thus become dependent on the state and the state’s favored corporations. Fiat currency and fractional reserve lending have created the underlying conditions that make this economic incapacitation possible.

Spending Our Way to Prosperity
Liberals have traditionally tried to solve this problem with even more government intervention. They see government as a tool they can use to elevate the playing field and give those people a shot at crawling out of poverty and back to fiscal independence. Libertarians have largely cried foul but haven’t proposed a practical solution and have in fact fallen for Republican Party propaganda (especially on taxes) when they should have stood with the poor. It is the poor who suffer most from the Fed’s policies.

Yet liberals who think we can continue to spend our way out of this mess are sadly mistaken. In fact, we’ve already spent far too much. It is perhaps the best response to the problem within the context of an inflationary world, but the Keynesian approach will ultimately collapse because the inflation is too destabilizing and it’s also incredibly iniquitous. Who here gets a check for inflation each month? Not me, but because of fractional reserve lending practices, banks benefit disproportionately from inflation. Liberals, just like right-leaning libertarians, are inadvertantly supporting the rich elites who create the problems they decry.

The Tree of Liberty
This crisis threatens to rend our nation apart but also presents an opportunity; a chance to end the Fed and the economic inequity it has wrought. And the only way that can happen is by unifying liberals and libertarians once again. Their names come from the same root word, after all — Liberty. Both sides need to make bold changes to come together, but the only way to achieve true economic liberty is by a combination of tight regulation of banks and specie-backed currency.

As FDR said:

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.

Political liberty cannot come without economic liberty.

FDR Did Better Against the Nazis Than The Bankers
A lot of Libertarians hate Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but what they don’t seem to realize is that he was fighting an all-out war against the corrupt banking and corporate interests who were colluding against the common man, and the levers of government were the only powers the president had available to him. The banker-controlled Fed, after all, caused the first Great Depression and FDR was forced to act quickly to stem the bleeding. Read this link for more insight into FDR and why he abandoned the gold standard — Europeans had already ditched gold and were buying up ours with their fiat currency, but FDR wanted to work out an international gold standard once the crisis subsided. And indeed, Bretton Woods was an attempt to do just that.

Roosevelt has been slandered as anti-business by many on the right. He was not; he was anti-Big Business. He stood up for all of America, not just the plutocrats. FDR’s Keynesian solution was imperfect but it bought time and saved the Union. If he had not acted quickly the Business Plot of 1934 may have succeeded and America may have spiraled into despotic fascism, never to return.

Corporate Power
Some libertarians have not been sufficiently suspicious of the motives of Big Business. They think that corporate rights are the same as personal liberty. They are not.

Corporations are amoral machines that must be controlled. Men should be free to do what they will, but who among us will argue that a man is free to run over people in his car because, by golly, he paid for that car and he controls it and he uses it to make money for his family, so anybody who tries to stop him is abridging his rights? Well, we shouldn’t let corporations driven by men to run amok any more than we should allow that of motor vehicle operators. It is imperative that libertarians understand that economic freedom is more fundamental and more important than corporate power.

A New Respect
Liberals, meanwhile, have long regarded libertarians a bunch of kooks; militia-joining types who are all paranoid gold-bugs who believe in anarchic and anachronistic principles. But libertarians have learned the hard way that governments can resort to tyranny whether they’re controlled by the Democrats or the Republicans. Democratic attempts to solve our basic economic problems have either been limp-wristed or misguided. Liberals need to take a look at the constitutional principles libertarians stand by and realize how closely they align with progressivism. Most importantly, liberals need to get past the false “left vs. right” dichotomy that the elites use to divide and conquer us. The marginalized, but proud Libertarian voters have defiantly supported their minor party despite no chance of winning.

Perhaps liberals will have more respect for libertarians and their journey through the political wilderness after the last 8 years of suffering their own indignity. Soured on big, invasive government (wiretapping, No Child Left Behind, literal invasions) during the Bush years, this is the ideal time for liberals to wake up and realize that they can only secure the freedom and prosperity by looking beyond the political and focusing on the very most fundamental monetary elements of our economy upon which the government and society are built. Libertarians are not greedy to focus on money; they are prudent. Unless we have a secure gold-backed money supply we will continue to have these crises, and at some point we can’t continue to solve them through social programs and endless spending. Inflation creates the poverty that we all fear. It’s time to end it.

This is my plea for liberals and libertarians to work together and remove the Federal Reserve’s charter. It’s time to take back our economic liberty. We don’t have much time to waste.

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.

Was the banking industry screwed over by its own bankruptcy law? It sure appears to have hurt the economy

“Before the reform, overindebted households might file bankruptcy and get rid of their credit card debt, and that would free up income to pay the mortgage,” Morgan said. “The new law blocks that escape route and forces better-off households to continue paying credit card debt, which makes it harder than before to continue paying the mortgage.”

The conclusions of Morgan and his colleagues echo earlier findings that the new law’s tougher requirements appear to have increased the number of people defaulting on their mortgages or walking away from their homes rather than seeking bankruptcy protection.

“One of the great lessons and ironies” of the new law, Treasury Department economist David P. Bernstein wrote in a recent paper, was that, by increasing the dollar value of assets susceptible to default, it has weakened many of the financial institutions that sought the new law in the first place.

Man, those guy are fucking idiots, right?
Hmm… I suspect that we need to reference incompetence theory here. These assholes didn’t get to the top of the finance industry by being clueless morons eager to throw their body into the arms of Defeat. No, these hard-asses know a lot more about the economy than most people do and they’re using that insider knowledge to time the crash of the economy and profit from it.The bankruptcy law was an important part of the crash: it was the trigger. It was the pin that popped the bubble.

The robberbarons in charge of this economy aren’t stupid. They know that their inflationary, fiat monetary system creates boom and bust cycles so they simply manipulate those cycles to their favor and crater the system at a time of their choosing.

Cheney’s invested in Europe. The Bushes are in South America and the Middle East. I’m sure Hank and Ben are well taken care of, too. The rest of us will be the ones to deal with the fallout from this avoidable disaster. Don’t assume the bankruptcy law was unimportant; it emanated from the very heart of the banking industry and its passage was assumed/assured in Congress. That law is now adding to the misery of those suffering in this corpse of a system.

It’s time to change. We need to switch to a gold-backed system wherein people can feel safe and plan for the future without the economic rollercoasters juiced by Big Media’s propaganda system, creating fear at the opportune moments. We ride on, strapped into a rickety system that is doomed to fail, and soon. The government hasn’t been keeping up the rollercoaster. In fact, the top of the hierarchy have sold all the screws and bolts to China for a tidy profit. We are held aloft by hope, inertia and the wings of big-tittied angels.

Well, don’t look down. Like Wile E. Coyote, we’d fall if we did. But we have to fall, don’t we?
 

It’s time to fall up
refuse to die
and start to fly
away from the lie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Reality’s a bitch

Obama is picking moderates and center-rightists for his cabinet. That sound you hear? It’s the sound of a million hopes and dreams thudding to the earth like balloons suddenly alchemized into lead.

We can only hope things will get better under Obama. I’d say they can’t get worse, but that’s not true. Evil has built up quite a momentum under Bush. The decisions he made (or his fellow cabalists made for him) over the last 8 years will continue to reverberate through the nation for the foreseeable future. Bush’s legacy of wickedness and the destruction he wrought on our nation’s principles and people will not be easily forgotten. Or forgiven.

But Obama seems very much of the same mind as Bush when it comes to the economy and the dire imperative of taking care of the ultra-rich at the expense of everyone else. Citigroup should’ve been allowed to fail. Instead we’ve given the supposed pillars of capitalism 7.76 trillion in taxpayer money:

The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

If one of the pillars of American capitalism is made of butter, which Citigroup seems to be, then they must crumble (melt?). New ones will rise, if you believe in the free-market.

Neither Bush nor Obama does.

And with those two messing around with the economy I don’t either; there never was and never will be a true free market because somebody’s always got an agenda and if they have influence in government they will use that power to affect change to their benefit, principles be damned. People who talk lovingly about free markets are full of shit. They want open markets, the same way horny guys want loose women: They don’t really love them (captains of industry prefer monopolies over competition), but they sure will take advantage of it while it’s there. A “free” market is just one that hasn’t been spoiled yet… but it will be. It will be.

The only way to fix this is to reconfigure the fundamentals of our economy so the super-rich don’t control everything. But how are we gonna do that if they already do? Are they going to just let us? Fuck no. They have to have a reason first, and we haven’t given them one.

Until we do, nothing will change. Reality’s a bitch, ain’t it?

Cutting costs

The Big Three automakers are in trouble. So naturally, they do what all captains of industry and hard-nosed capitalists do when the chips are down.

They fly to Washington in splendor to ask for a hand-out from the taxpayers.

ABC News has more:

The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.

All three CEOs – Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler – exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM’s $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.

I wonder if the idea of curbing executive bonuses, perks, jets, options and salaries has even been seriously discussed in any of the corporate boardrooms from whence this plan to get taxpayers to pay for their failures came. Here’s how I imagine it would go down:

SVP: “Hey guys, I have an idea: How about we curtail our perks, slash our salaries, eliminate our massive bonuses and quit giving the executive team stock options until we get the company back in the black!”

Rest of board: ” …. HAHAHAHAAA!!!!”

EVP: “Good one, Chuck!”

SVP: “Thanks. I also know jokes about Mexicans.”

All the people who scream about socialism being some intrinsic evil never seem to mind corporate welfare or socialism for the rich. The supposed-capitalists who run the American economy don’t blink an eye before bailing out an incompetently-run company for billions of dollars. But if you suggest we spend money on infrastructure, schools or the poor they will scream “SOCIALIST!!!” at the top of their lungs. They’re all about privatizing profits and socializing losses, which I think is the calling card of Evil 2.0 — they get you on both ends, coming and going.

The rich play by their own set of rules and we are merely spectators. We just voted in a new Congress but we sure and hell didn’t give them the okay to go around bailing out private enterprise. But in Washington money talks and the populace is told to shut the fuck up and go buy a TV. Nevermind the fact you can’t afford it! You’ve got to do your part, just like all those CEOs who rode on their private jets to complain about how poor they are!

Just play your role, America: that of a lamb being led to the slaughter.

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.

“The American people are today the best entertained and the least informed people on the face of the Earth.”

–Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

“The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”

William Colby
CIA Director, 1973-1976

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.