Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chavez Threatens to Close Private Clinics If They Don't Lower Their Prices

Translation from the Spanish by Michael K. Smith. Original available from Everything Venezuela proposes or does has to appear in quotation marks, as though they were speaking a foreign language. From capitalism's point of view, they are.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reiterated today his "warning" to private clinics in the country that he will expropriate or close them if they don't reduce the costs of medical services they offer patients.

In an official ceremony transmitted on the Venezuelan national radio and television channel Chavez said that he will wait "a little longer" to see if the clinics listen to reason and lower the costs of services they extend to the public.

The head of state threatened this past April to "close" or "expropriate" private clinics that refused to respect "strict regulation" of costs of medical services that his government is setting up.

Upon inaugurating a dialysis unit today on the island of Margarita, Chavez deplored that a private clinic charges $418.60 for a single treatment, when a chronic kidney patient requires 12 treatments a month, which raises the cost to $5023.25.

"It's criminal what private clinics are doing everywhere, there are almost none that escape this. What a lack of feeling; the perverseness of privatization, of the commercialization of medicine. I am not going to continue tolerating this!" affirmed Chavez.

He rejected the argument made by clinic directors that it would be unsustainable from an economic point of view to reduce costs to the levels desired by the Executive, between 25% and 30% below the present ones, according to parliamentary sources.

This Wednesday the association of private clinics presented a proposal of medical service prices to the pro-government National Assembly, which was judged to be "unsatisfactory" by the deputies, due to numbers that "are much higher" than those anticipated by the Executive.

On Wednesday Deputy Tirso Silva disclosed that surely the Executive "is not going to accept" the private proposal, on account of which he anticipated that in a week the government might be dictating the regulation to the health sector.

Irwin Pena, spokesman for the association of private clinics, said this Friday that it "surprised" him that government authorities would consider "inflated" the price proposals presented by the private clinics, which, he added, obey a structure of costs and not whim.

This past April the Health Ministry announced the beginning of "a process of regulation" of medical services, whose costs in the country "indisputably respond to speculation," according to an "evaluation" carried out by the Offices of Commerce, Finance, Health, and Labor.

Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire," and "The Madness of King George" (illustrations by Matt Wuerker), from Common Courage Press. He can be reached at



In a show of solidarity with the LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transvestite) movement, Democratic leaders called for all party caucuses at the 2008 convention to be held in public toilets

BEST FINANCED DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES for president establish controversial positions...

All three express support for gays, heteros, blacks, whites, latinos, native americans and disabled minorities, with carefully nuanced praise for silent majorities that help make us a great and unified nation...

TOP DOZEN OR SO REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES claim respect for individual rights above all, especially individuals in top 1% of American wealth, who deserve more respect for being so rich...

FRED THOMPSON announces faith in god, praise for the family, adoration of the free market, mesmerizes audiences to sleep without use of drugs, then promises to drop out of campaign and go back to professional, um, acting...

GIULIANI REMINDS EVERYONE that unlike most of the other candidates, he was in New York when 911 happened, and is therefore best qualified to, uh, be president of the United States

FED LOWERS RATE to Historic negative .5% ...

Bold move hoped to greatly spur economy, vastly increase borrowing, end fears of economic collapse, and bring troops home from Iraq by 2024

DEMOCRATS IMMEDIATELY EXPRESS SUPPORT for troops and economy, as Clinton, Edwards and Obama offer to take out campaign loans of one billion dollars each to help boost borrowing, and invite troops to their homes for dinner when war is finally over...

but not all the troops, only a select few chosen by lottery...

but from all ethnic, racial, religious and life style choices...

but none who are from gay life style choice and who are married to other gay life style choice persons...

but all troops of all persuasions, single or married, will be allowed in the lottery...

but no gay troops who are married to other gay persons can win, though they have equal rights to enter...

See Democratic party platform for complete explanation of lottery rules and other nuanced, thoughtful, contradictory and otherwise confusing positions.

NEW INDEPENDENT PARTY announces presidential ticket of Brittany Spears and O.J. Simpson, claiming people find them much more newsworthy than whatsername and whatsisname of the other parties.

POLLS SHOW men find Spears more popular than Hillary, O.J. with strong support from blacks and retired athletes, ticket a real threat in major media markets...

OPRAH INVITES SPEARS AND OJ to her show, but remains faithful to Obama, or Clinton, or Edwards , until ratings are clear...

HILLARY URGES PAPPARAZZI to follow her around with the same urgency that Spears seems to invite, claiming her own personal scandals have been far more globally important than those of “this little tart”, then says “ Oops, i did it again”...

GOSSIP columns fill with new items linking mainstream candidates with down stream independent ticket

BILL CLINTON insists he never had sex with BRITTANY;

O.J. still says he’s innocent of any and all crimes and has never met HILLARY;

BRITTANY loves being a mother and says she doesn't know who BILL CLINTON is, asks “was he with the Funkadelics?”

OBAMA says he never supported OJ but his kids love Brittany’s records

EDWARDS says he identifies with common people because his father once had a job

NEW FRENCH LEADER THREATENS WAR with Iran over non existent nuclear weapons, and war with USA over existent butchery of french fries committed by American fast food outlets...

BUSH TELLS FRANCE "BRING IT ON", is then led to quiet room in the basement of the White House where aids say he will rest until Israel Lobby starts the next war...

DEMOCRATS IMMEDIATELY EXPRESS CONTINUED SUPPORT for the Israeli Lobby and our troops, wherever they may next be sent...

stay tuned...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Summer of Hate?

We enter the Fall having experienced many celebrations of what advertisers dubbed the 1967 Summer of Love, hardly matched by any such seasonal spirit in the present. Anger and bigotry combined for a recent epidemic of judgmental righteousness that threatened a national lynch mob at the slightest provocation. Outbursts of public distemper are normal in America , but growing frustration at a government held in contempt , an opposition judged even worse, and an economy that is an enormous credit bubble close to bursting , has created an atmosphere of often seething rage, but rarely directed at real problems.

Public displays of animosity towards a ball player alleged to have used steroids to break an historic home run record could be understood at least partly due to his being black. But the athlete broke a record held by another black , though the difference in their treatment may find its origins in our history of slavery and the division created between house and field negroes. When owners took sexual pleasures with their slaves, they always brought the resulting offspring into the home as house servants, because of their lighter skin. The descendants of those slaves became the black middle class, more successful politically and economically than their darker kin , and polite and deferential to whites as well. Whatever his class background, the old home run hero was deemed humbly acceptable to the white power structure and baseball fans, who generally came to his defense at the time of his record breaking performance and the attacks he suffered from racists because the older record was held by a white.

The new hero, despite overwhelming credentials as the best player of his generation, was labeled an ungrateful and arrogant upstart who showed no respect for anyone, especially reporters. The reaction to his historic achievement was often despicable, with insistence that his record was meaningless because he took drugs, though no such proof existed. This in a culture in which millions cannot survive without pharmaceutical products enabling them to stay awake or go to sleep, escape reality or face it, prevent or induce procreation, and remember or forget anything . In this context, steroid use among athletes is not only common and silently accepted by the corporate sports establishment, but rather low on the American drug taking spectrum.

Another black sports hero received worse treatment. A football star accused of sponsoring vicious dog fights on his property was held to public scorn as a monster , legally prosecuted and vilified in the court of public opinion. His judgement was terrible in gambling away his lucrative career on an ugly sport that still thrives in many American communities. But the reaction from a nation that not only tolerates hunting and eating animals but worse, the slaughter of humans in wars, boggles the mind. Frustration and anger about real social problems was once again directed at a celebrity scapegoat. Cruelty to animals is deemed worse than cruelty to humans, by some who often hold their fellow beings in much lower esteem than their pets, as evidenced by our multi billion dollar industry in the care and feeding of our domestic animals, while millions of us lack housing or health care.

But not only race played a role in the recent epidemic. All those deemed politically incorrect, whether morally or racially, were fair game.

Sex crimes against children are easily among the most fearsome and frightening, but an atmosphere of righteous indignation at such criminals has lent itself to a spirit of injustice that permits any excess directed at such criminals. Those who have served jail terms and paid a debt to society for their crimes find it impossible to live anywhere when they are free, with entire communities coming out in force to deny them housing . Laws have been passed - by the same politicians who are helpless to confront problems of poverty, war or health care - to protect children by not allowing these ex convicts to live within 2,000 feet of any place where children might congregate. Death Valley or the Great Plains may be the only places deemed habitable for such offenders.

Possibly worse, the frenzy over such crimes has created a media market for attracting alleged perverts and setting them up on dates with minors. A major TV show specializes in entrapment of men lured to supposed meetings for sex with under aged boys or girls, with these meetings set up by that TV show, often having to overcome resistance by the alleged sexual predator. Though women are also serving jail sentences in our frenzy to protect children from sex but hardly anything else that threatens them, the show has thus far dealt only with men . When the man finally responds to the bait, he finds a TV crew and the police waiting to confront him and broadcast his shame all over the network. After one man killed himself upon being disgraced this way, there was only righteous clucking over having removed a monster from our midst. There is a law suit for entrapment against the psycho perverts behind this program, but in the fanatic atmosphere created it will be difficult to find any justice.

The most recent indication of a national witchcraft trial atmosphere was the arrest of a U.S. senator alleged to have engaged in suggestive actions with a commode cop who spends his work day hanging around public toilets waiting to find such behavior. If the sordid waste of taxpayer money wasn't bad enough, the homophobic sentiments were worse, especially coming from members of the accused senator’s own party. His behavior was labeled disgusting and unforgivable, by people who appropriate billions of dollars to wage wars of mass murder . The hypocrisy is staggering, as is the zealous hatred masquerading as righteous justice.

But while the number of these outbreaks may indicate another moment of near breakdown in the American facade of rationality, they may also show that public anger is ready to be directed at the source of our problems, if only leadership were provided.

As the government prolongs an insane war in Iraq and threatens to start a newer, crazier one with Iran, frustration may hopefully soon be directed at real issues and not those manufactured by media . At that point, it may be necessary to impeach not only the executive but much of the legislative branch as well. A revolutionary democratic movement to create a world of real social justice would bring us closer to material and mental well being . That is a bigger social undertaking than allowing misguided anger to be directed at scapegoats, but it would make much more sense. We never really had a summer of love, but we would do well to create a real, and longer, season of peace.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

ADL, The Aggressive Demonization League

by Michael K. Smith

Founded in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League has long since become an Orwellian inversion of its civil rights incarnation, pursuing slander and distortion with obvious relish, targeting Holocaust revisionists with special venom. As the great anti-Zionist critic Alfred Lilienthal pointed out nearly thirty years ago, "The ADL's earlier emphasis on stamping out genuine prejudice and bigotry gave way long ago to acts of defamation, spying, and publishing spurious literary productions, motivated by support of Israel and effected by eliminating critics of Zionist tactics." (The Zionist Connection, p. 405)

Consider ADL's trashing of Holocaust revisionist Bradley Smith, available on the ADL website. Smith, currently enjoying a refreshingly open-minded response to his ideas in Mexico, has recently outlined revisionist claims as centering on the following:

(1) It can't be demonstrated that Germany had a policy to exterminate the Jews of Europe or anyone else by putting them in gas chambers or killing them by abuse and neglect

(2) It can't be demonstrated that 6 million Jews were "exterminated" during WWII

(3) It can't be demonstrated that homicidal gas chambers existed in any camp in Europe under German control.

(4) It can't be demonstrated that the awful scenes of the dead and emaciated inmates captured on newsreel footage at Dachau, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen were the victims of intentional killing or starvation.

(5) It cannot be demonstrated, as the Holocaust Industry claims, that there are "tons" of captured German documents which prove the mass murder of Jews and others in homicidal gas chambers.

(6) It cannot be demonstrated that, as was claimed during war crimes trials, that Jews were cooked to make soap from their fat, or skinned to make lampshades from their hides.

(7) It cannot be demonstrated that during the war the Red Cross, the Pope, humanitarian agencies, the Allied governments, and prominent figures such as FDR, Truman, Churchill, Eisenhower all knew about "gas chambers" but really did not want to talk about it.

In seeking to evaluate ADL's criticism of Smith, we naturally turn to the evidence advanced against his claims. In the present instance this is an easy task. No evidence is provided. ADL shirks debate in favor of characterizing Smith as a failure, a crackpot, and a Jew-hater. Purity of motive, not persuasiveness of argument, is their sole concern.

ADL starts off by claiming that Smith "tries to present himself" as a free speech activist, when in reality they feel he is a "propagandist for the Holocaust denial movement." No evidence is introduced to support the assumption that there is a contradiction in being a free speech activist and promoter of Holocaust revisionism. But it must be obvious that being a free speech activist does not depend on holding any particular view of the Holocaust, orthodox or unorthodox. All it takes is to defend people whose speech rights have been denied. There is no doubt that Smith has done this - defending Ernst Zundel, Robert Faurisson, and Germar Rudolf - among others, who have been repeatedly tried for heresy for questioning the existence of homicidal gas chambers in WWII. The ADL simply ignores this.

ADL also criticizes Smith on the grounds that he is motivated to promote "anti-Israel propaganda," suggesting that there is something sinister in this. But if one objects to apartheid on principled grounds, what's wrong with engaging in anti-apartheid activism? I don't recall ADL complaining that criticizing South African apartheid was a form of anti-white racism, so why should we assume that criticizing Israel's apartheid is anti-Jewish hatred?

ADL goes on to smear Smith as a "Holocaust Denier," i.e., a racist of the worst sort. But why is it racism to want to revise our understanding of the Holocaust, so that we do not regard as true what cannot be proven? There can't be racism in trying to get the facts right, which cannot be done when free inquiry is punished with financial ruin, heresy trials, imprisonment, beatings, and book shreddings, a dreadful sequence imposed on Holocaust revisionists with dismal regularity. If the facts are as obvious as ADL believes they are, why the need to resort to such draconian measures?

ADL passes over the crimes committed against revisionists without any criticism at all, as though it were perfectly natural to punish people for speech. Consider this: "Although an arson attack on IHR's building that month (July 1984) apparently caused the Institute to indefinitely divert its attention from Smith's manuscript ("The Holocaust Cult and the Suppression of Free Inquiry") Smith's enthusiasm for the IHR and Holocaust denial only grew." This is a very curious comment. The suggestion is that we should allow ourselves to be intimidated by fire-bombings. No doubt we all are indimidated by acts of barbaric violence, but to imply that we should meekly submit to such terrorism is very odd. By that logic, Martin Luther King should have abandoned his effort to dismantle Jim Crow after white racists bombed his house.

ADL likewise provides no critical comment about Smith's work on the IHR newsletter "Prima Facie," merely belittles it on the grounds that it didn't last very long because of budget constraints. So what? Many fine publications have quickly gone out of business due to financial pressures, and there is no known correlation between quality of social commentary and success in the marketplace.

In attempting to discredit the Institute for Historical Review, (for which Smith formerly worked) by referring to the Mermelstein trial, in which the court forced the Institute For Historical Review to pay a reward offered to anyone who could prove the existence of gas chambers, ADL doesn't provide any evaluation of the trial and also neglects to mention that IHR in fact did not recant its revisionist beliefs in spite of all the "legal" pressure brought to bear on the organization in an attempt to force it to do so. And ADL admits that a subsequent lawsuit was dropped. Apparently, orthodoxy is hard to impose by judicial fiat.

The ADL returns to its "failure" theme in its references to the Institute For Historical Review's Media Project. No substantive criticism is advanced, rather, ADL simply asserts that Smith failed to "provok[e] discussion about the landmark documentary Shoah," a failure that could easily be accounted for by the fact that the Holocaust Industry is massively funded and completely dominates the media irrespective of what the facts about the Holocaust are. But ADL doesn't investigate the reason for the "failure," merely implies that Bradley Smith is a racist loser, as though that characterization had some bearing on revisionist claims.

ADL continually resorts to "small is ugly" rhetoric, belittling Smith's work on the "Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust" on the grounds that initially the committee allegedly only had two members. Even if this is true, so what? Lots of great undertakings have started small; in fact, nothing great can be achieved if you are unable to start small. This kind of anti-small commentary shows that ADL is incapable of dispassionate analysis, continually injecting its prejudice instead.

The rest of ADL's commentary on CODOH is equally lacking in substance. In an attempt to discredit Smith via guilt by association ADL claims that CODOH was initially funded by William Curry, a "self-proclaimed anti-Zionist" who used his money to promote two beliefs: "that Israel has no right to exist and that the Holocaust was nothing but 'World War II propaganda.'" No evidence of the alleged funding link is given and no direct quotes of William Curry's are provided so that the reader can verify the claims. But I see nothing wrong with saying Israel has no right to exist, if in fact Curry said it. No state has a right to exist and Israel's constant insistence that its "right to exist" be recognized is a demand for special rights nowhere recognized under international law. Meanwhile, our neo-con war engineers are quite openly engaged in ending states that they label "rogue." So if states have a right to exist, ADL should be complaining about that. They're not.

Turning to the second alleged claim, that the Holocaust is "nothing but" WWII propaganda, the implication is that Curry claimed that nothing terrible happened to Jews at all during WWII. Since we don't have any quotes from Curry himself, not to mention the context he may have uttered them in, we can't evaluate the claim. But as a general matter revisionists do not, in fact, deny that Jews were treated brutally at the hands of the Nazis. What's at issue is whether or not homicidal gas chambers accomplished the killings, whether the killings were intentional or a byproduct of deteriorating wartime conditions, and what the Jewish death total was. There is nothing inherently racist in pursuing such questions, any more than it is racist to claim that American Indians were wiped out by disease rather than deliberate genocide.

As for Smith's "Campus Project," ADL decribes it as placing "Holocaust-denying advertisements" in college papers. But what is a "Holocaust denying advertisement?" ADL provides not a clue. The original public challenge Smith issued, according to ADL, was, "The Holocaust Story: How Much is False?" This, in fact, is not a denial at all, but a perfectly straightforward query about the relative accuracy of conventional views of the Holocaust, leaving open the possibility that these views are 0% false. It is the kind of question we should be asking all the time, not just about the Holocaust, but about our conventional understandings generally. After all, we live in a media-driven, propaganda-saturated environment 24-hours a day, and we therefore hold all kinds of false beliefs. The only way to correct them is to examine and debate them, which the Holocaust Industry refuses to allow.

ADL comments that Smith's ads calling for open debate were "almost universally recognized as a piece of specious anti Semitic propaganda" by college editors, although a perverse few said the ads deserved to be aired on First Amendment grounds. ADL neglects to point out that the latter position is also taken by such dangerous radicals as John Stuart Mill, who pointed out in "On Liberty" that suppression of views regarded as completely false are grounded in a presumption of infallibility. Unfortunately for the ADL, surrendering its presumption of infallibility would lead to questions it doesn't want to answer, like: "When are we going to hear the German side?" and "How do we know the gas chambers really existed?" According to Deborah Lipstadt's "Denying the Holocaust," a book ADL recommends as an excellent debunking of revisionist claims, such questions are evidence of horrifying bias. How so?

Returning to its "small is ugly" theme, ADL attributes Smith's failure to get national publicity for his campus project to "increasingly savvy student communities" rather than an "organized attempt at repression," which they claim Smith attributed the failure to. No information is provided with which to resolve these differing interpretations. Rather, ADL accuses Smith of "conspiratorial megalomania" in allegedly saying this: "The Industry has all the money, all the press, all the professors and all the politicos. None of us can go head to head with the Industry. CODOH is in a guerrilla war [and is composed of] a small band of idealists struggling to overturn a great tyranny. That's what the Industry is, an agent, for great cultural and military tyranny. It promotes and legitimates cultural tyranny in the nations of the West, and military tyranny in the Middle East . . . . The display-ad tactic has become what CODOH tactics must never become - predictable. The Industry understands what we are going to do each academic year, and when we are going to do it, and it is prepared for us. Almost everywhere I probe with the display ads, I'm being stopped in my tracks . . . I'm being neutralized . . . . They are on to [my] game plan."

There is nothing conspiratorial here and it hardly requires megalomania to recognize the immense influence of the Holocaust Industry in making life difficult for a single activist devoted to free inquiry on the Holocaust. The steady outpouring of tear-jerking Holocaust movies, radio shows, newspaper articles, videos, and DVDs alone makes life difficult for anyone attempting to get a dispassionate view of this tragic event, and the frenzied dedication to labeling critics of Holocaust orthodoxy Jew haters makes Smith's comments here perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, reasoned evaluation is not ADL's business.

ADL continues in prejudicial mode when referring to Smith's autobiography as consisting of "recycled" essays on his life (all writers revise and recycle) and his "now-defunct" Web site (websites go in and out of existence all the time). The suggestion is that Smith is a tired hack and a failure. But no evidence is provided for this view and it's irrelevant to all the points at issue in any case.

Curiously unable to understand free speech at all, ADL characterizes Smith's defense of "extremist" European revisionists imprisoned for their beliefs as mere attempts to "portray himself as a free speech advocate," instead of actually being one. And since European revisionist publications are really "extremist attempts to deny the Holocaust and demonize Jews," we needn't worry about the fate of thought criminals languishing in prison. This refreshing admission of contempt for free inquiry and expression is regarded by the ADL as a form of wonderful humanitarianism. The subtext says it all: those who say things that find favor with the Holocaust Industry are entitled to free speech; those who don't are transparent frauds whose rights can be trampled on in the interest of "stopping hate." Intriguing theory.

ADL ends by psychoanalyzing Smith's alleged motives, which requires the skills of omniscience that defenders of Holocaust orthodoxy apparently alone possess. The allegation here is that Smith is peddling his writings because they are "his only means of financial support," as though making a living as a writer were a grave sin. Again, it's the subtext that counts: earning money as a writer is admirable as long as you don't displease the Holocaust Industry. If you do the latter, you are a hate-monger and a fraud.

ADL asserts that "Smith dismisses the records of World War II (which records?), including thousands of documents that were used immediately after the war in the Nuremberg trials, as having been forged by a secret committee (no footnote provided, how do we know this charge is true?); he rejects survivors as greedy charlatans (this is a characterization, where is the direct quote confirming this charge?); he even claims that American GI's who saw the death apparatus in the camps were duped by the American military itself, which was also complicit in the conspiracy." (no footnote or direct quote provided, although we should note that the Holocaust Industry concedes that the International Red Cross inspected the death camps while the mass gassings were allegedly going on, but says it was completely duped by the Nazis. So why is it impossible to believe that U.S. soldiers were duped?)

By the way, is "death apparatus" the same as gas chamber or is this another Holocaust Industry sleight-of-hand job?

The ADL asserts that Smith's writings express "an angry anti-Semitism." The evidence is that he (allegedly) describes Holocaust survivor stories as sado-masochistic, muses about "Israel-Jewish 'Samson' and 'Masada' complexes,' describes Hillel as "the leading private Jewish intelligence agency on college campuses," whose rabbis have "broad political agendas but no spiritual one," are sweaty with self-righteousness and bad faith," and harbor a "lust to control the thoughts of others." He is also accused of being scathingly critical of Simon Wiesenthal.

These are strong opinions, but they are not racist. There may in fact be a lot of sado-masochism in Holocaust survivor stories. The facts of the case are more relevant than the psychological animus behind survivor accounts, but if ADL can speculate about Smith's motives, why can't Smith speculate about the psychology of Holocaust survivors? The Samson and Masada "complexes" are well known. Noam Chomsky, who puts no stock in Holocaust revisionism, warns of the Masada complex behind Israeli policy, saying that it could lead Israel to blow up the world. That hardly makes Chomsky a racist. Secondly, there is no doubt that Hillel plays an important role in the policing of college campuses, which are thoroughly surveilled by Holocaust Industry thought police. David Horowitz has a thoroughgoing campaign to discredit any professor who criticizes Israel, let alone raises questions about the gas chambers. Classes are spied on, reports are drawn up, and professors learn to curtail their criticism.

And look at Dershowitz's successful campaign to have Norman Finkelstein fired from DePaul. Finkelstein merely documents the financial shakedown the Holocaust Industry conducts in the name of "never again." He doesn't raise issues about the gas chambers. But that was enough to get him fired. As for the scathing remarks about Wiesenthal, no context is provided by which to judge them. What grievances does Smith have vis-a-vis Wiesenthal? ADL doesn't say.

ADL concludes saying this: "Most troublingly, Smith appears to recognize that his denial of the Holocaust itself contributes to anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence, especially in the Arab world. Smith writes that Holocaust deniers 'understand that [telling] the truth about the gas chambers . . . will result in Arab fanatics having yet one more moral justification for killing innocent, unarmed Jews.' Yet Smith and his cohorts continue to disseminate their lies anyway."

Notice that ADL changes "telling the truth" (Smith word's) into "disseminat[ing] lies." [ADL's words] What is the justification for this switch? Nowhere in the ADL article is any evidence for homicidal gas chambers offered. So why is it a "lie" to question their existence or even declare that they didn't exist? A "lie" is based on the intent to deceive. Where is the deception in questioning that homicidal gas chambers existed or asserting that they didn't exist? Once again, ADL is presupposing what it needs to prove.

And if the truth causes "Arab fanatics" to blow people up, then it's certainly time to start taking their grievances vis-a-vis Israel and the Holocaust Industry seriously. How many more people have to die so Israel's victimology routine can remain uninspected?

Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire," and "The Madness of King George (illustrations by Matt Wuerker)," from Common Courage Press. He can be reached at

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Labor Pains

Labor Day is always a good time to reflect on labor conditions in the Empire. Between 1913 and 1915 the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations, composed of representatives of capital and labor, held hearings on labor conditions in the U.S. Their final report, written by the labor commissioners on the panel and widely regarded as the Commission’s official statement, provides a succinct overview of the savage class warfare carried out by the private owners of the economy and their servants in government in the late 19th and early 20th century. Particularly striking is the call for national health insurance, which the U.S. still lacks nearly a century later. [Note: In a separate statement the employers on the Commission decried the evils of labor, including the secondary boycott ("unjust, inequitable, and vicious"), the closed shop, contract abrogation, restriction of output, and "irresponsible" labor union politics.]

Why Workers Rebel
The Commission attributed widespread labor rebellion to "numberless thousands of workers . . . who feel bitterly that they and their fellows are being denied justice, economically, politically, and legally." A major grievance was labor's conviction that "income should be received for service (i.e. work) and for service only, whereas in fact, it bears no such relation, and he who serves least, or not at all, may receive most." John H. Walker, president of the Illinois State Federation of Labor, observed that major investors had a different philosophy: "People accept it as all right if they do not do any work at all, and accept it as all right that they get as much money as they can; in fact they are given credit for getting the greatest amount of money with the least amount of work . . . ” The Commission concluded that, morally speaking, "reward can be claimed as a right only by those who have performed service, not by those who through relationship or mere parasitism chance to be designated as heirs."

Distribution of Wealth
The Commissioners determined that whereas the wealth of the country between 1890 and 1912 had increased 188 per cent, the aggregate income of wage earners in manufacturing, mining, and transportation had only risen 95 per cent, and thus workers had been denied the full value of their toil, not to mention any voice in how the "surplus" was to be used.

Meanwhile, "at the other end of the social scale, are fortunes of a size never before dreamed of, whose very owners do not know the extent nor . . . even the sources, of their incomes." The Commission found that in the United States there were "forty-four families with incomes of $1,000,000 or more, whose members perform little or no useful service" but whose total income of at least $50 million a year was "equivalent to the earnings of 100,000 wage earners at the average rate of $500." Citing "a statistician of conservative views" the Commission noted a decidedly lopsided distribution of ownership: (1) "The 'Rich,' 2 percent of the people, own 60 percent of the wealth." (2) "The 'Middle Class,' 33 per cent of the people, own 35 per cent of the wealth." (3)"The 'Poor,' 65 per cent of the people, own 5 per cent of the wealth."

Furthermore, the unequal pattern was self-perpetuating in that "the great fortunes . . . have already passed, or will pass in a few years, by right of inheritance to the control of heirs or to trustees." These fortunate few "occupy within our Republic a position almost exactly analogous to that of feudal lords," as they "control the livelihood and have the power to dictate the happiness of more human beings than populated England in the Middle Ages." The Commission called on Congress "to check the growth of an hereditary aristocracy, which is . . . menacing to the welfare of the people and the existence of the Nation as a democracy." It also recommended reducing the incomes of the rich and raising wages "to a level of decent and comfortable living," further proposing "the enactment of an inheritance tax, so graded that . . . . it shall leave no large accumulation of wealth to pass into hands which had no share in its production."

Turning to unemployment, the Commissioners attributed its existence to lopsided distribution of purchasing power and underutilization of land and natural resources. The first left the workers "unable to purchase the products of industry which they create," while the second, a consequence of producing for profit rather than use, put "a large proportion of the public land . . . into the hands of speculators" who kept them out of cultivation hoping for a higher resale value later, while small farmers were pushed into bankruptcy and workers went hungry for lack of work.

Since work was offered solely at the convenience of the employer, workers were idled "on the average from one-fifth to one-fourth of the working time during the normal year." But unemployment negatively affected ALL workers, idled or not, because there were "few who do not suffer bitterly many times in their career because they are unable to get work." Furthermore, whereas "capital can offset the fat years against the lean," unemployed workers "must starve or suffer a rapid physical and moral deterioration" when the market regularly renders them "useless and worthless."

The Partisan Courts
The Commission found that theoretically neutral courts in fact consistently favored the owners of capital by "restrict[ing] the activities of labor organizations" and "depriv[ing] them of their most effective weapons, namely, the boycott and the power of picketing"; upholding the employers' "power of arbitrary discharge, of blacklisting, and of bringing in strikebreakers"; and striking down "legislative attempts to restrict the employers’ powers."

The Origin of Violence
Responsibility for violence, said the report, "can usually be traced to the conditions prevailing in the particular industry," which were characterized as "oppressive conditions." The most incendiary tactic in the employers' arsenal was "almost without exception the attempt to introduce strikebreakers to take the place of the workers who have struck or who are locked out. The entire problem of policing industrial disputes grows out of the problem of the strikebreaker and the attitude of the state toward him." (emphasis in original)

After observing that the courts were entirely supportive of their use, the Commissioners pointed out that "the strikebreaker is not a genuine workingman but is a professional who merely fills the place of the worker and is unable or unwilling to do steady work." In the rare case he was a real worker, "he [was] ignorant of conditions or compelled to work under duress."

Commenting that exploitative conditions for labor could be found "throughout history" the Commissioners observed that, "Violence is a natural form of protest against injustice."

Unions they judged to be not only legitimate but essential, for "without organization of the workers their collective claims can not be considered"; furthermore, "without the right to appoint such representatives as they choose, workers are at the mercy of the employer’s power of discharge," while "the [employer’s] refusal to consider grievances leaves only the alternative of the strike."

Rights, Privilege, and Exploitation
The Commissioners found that whereas the conduct of business is "permitted only so far as its exercise is in the public interest," striking workers "have a right to the jobs which they have left until their grievances are in some way adjusted." In fact, they deemed it a mark of social responsibility to protest unjust conditions, on the grounds that a worker striking in pursuit of better conditions "has a keener interest in [the job] than when quietly submitting to distasteful conditions."

Furthermore, "working conditions can be improved only by strikes" and "no strike can be won if the employer can operate his plant without difficulty." The "private guards, detectives, and vigilantes" hired by employers "are openly partisan and can have no other purpose in connection with a strike than to break it." Meanwhile, "corrupt and subservient" courts "have time and again permitted the militia, under color of so-called 'martial law,' to usurp their functions," with members of said militia being "in the employment and pay of corporations." If not stopped, "the encroachment upon fundamental rights" by these companies could produce a situation where "the liberties of all citizens are hanging in the balance."

After investigating the employers' use of the state constabulary, the Commission judged that during strikes "it appears to assume . . . that the strikers are its enemies," with the result that "violence seems to increase" every time it is used, leading to "citizens not in any way connected with the dispute" being "brutally treated," while the constabulary "escape[s] punishment for their acts."

Employers routinely suppressed labor's right to free speech, a policy "carried out with a degree of brutality which would be incredible if it were not vouched for by reliable witnesses," often precipitating "bloody riots" and wholesale arrests of the innocent.

The toll of all this on individual character was devastatingly negative, as young workers "full of ambition and high hopes for the future" were inevitably demoralized by their "failure in establishing themselves in some trade or calling," becoming income nomads willing to suffer any conditions, with the result that they "begin to lose self-respect." The appalling living conditions casual workers endured were "generally sufficient to weaken the physique and destroy the moral fiber of even the strongest man "in a single season," not the least due to the constant "spread of dangerous diseases by migratory workers."

Absent formal organization of the labor force, "improvised labor markets" were set up in "pool rooms, cafes, grocery stores, lodging houses, even [on] street corners and public parks," leading to "groundless rumors send[ing] people scurrying over the city and the country on a wild-goose chase." Foremen sold real and imaginary jobs merely to generate fees, in a business that "reek[ed] with fraud, extortion, and flagrant abuses of every kind." Workers were "charged out of all proportion to the service rendered," were "sent a long distance" and "made to pay fees and transportation," only to discover that no jobs existed. Foremen liked to "discharge men constantly" to generate more fees, which led to the "three gang" method of fee extraction: "one gang working, another coming to work from the employment agent, and a third going back to the city." Workers were lied to about their actual wages, the length of the job, living conditions at the job site, and were not told when they were being used to break strikes.

Employers' insistence on "low wages, excessive hours, methods causing nervous strain, and general insanitary conditions" caused poverty and attendant high rates of illness among workers, as evidenced by "insufficient diet, bad housing, inadequate clothing, and generally unfavorable surroundings in the home."

The Commissioners recommended that government establish a system of guaranteed sickness insurance for all, which would make benefits a right rather than a demeaning charity. This practice, they noted, was already the norm in Europe, where "experience has proved the superiority of Government systems to private insurance."

Scientific Management ("Taylorism")
The dismemberment of tasks celebrated in "scientific management" of the work force came in for lengthy critique. This form of production was found to lead to monotonous concentration on "one or two tasks" precluding "discovery and development of special aptitudes" and "tend[ed] to divide the workers into two unequal classes," a few who occupy "managerial positions" and many "bound to remain task workers within a narrow field." The practice tended to "weaken the power of the individual worker as against the employer" and "transfer[red] to the management the traditional craft knowledge," leaving the worker an ancillary tool of production who was "therefore easier of displacement." Furthermore, scientific management tended to "weaken the solidarity" of workers and "prevent the formation of groups" that could advance their interests. In fact, "almost everything points to the strengthening of the individualistic motive," since "each worker is bent on the attainment of his individual task" and "can not combine with his fellows to determine how much that task shall be." Slowing the pace of work "merely lessens his wages and prejudices his standing without helping his neighbor." Commendation was meted out individually and "personal rivalry is stimulated by the posting of individual records or classification of the workers by name into Excellent, Good, Poor, etc." The "gospel of scientific management" instructed the worker how he "can cut loose from the mass" and advance over it. Without unions there was no democratic possibility in scientific management, since "the individual is manifestly in no position to cope with the employer on a basis of equality." To wit:

"The claim to democracy based on the close association of the management and the men and the opportunities allowed for the voicing of complaints is not borne out by the facts, and in the general run of scientific management shops, barring the presence of unionism and collective bargaining, the unionists are justified in the charge that the workers have no real voice in hiring and discharging, the setting of the task, the determination of the wage rates, or the general conditions of employment. This charge is true even where the employers have no special autocratic tendencies, much more so therefore where, as in many cases, they are thoroughly imbued with the autocratic spirit. With rare exceptions, then, democracy under scientific management can not and does not exist apart from unionism and collective bargaining."

In short, scientific management was objectionable because it (1) "weaken[ed] the competitive power of the individual worker" (2) "thwart[ed]the formation of shop groups and weaken[ed] group solidarity"; (3) "[was] lacking in the arrangements and machinery necessary for the actual voicing of the workers' ideas and complaints, and for the democratic consideration and adjustment of grievances." (4) tolerated collective bargaining "only when it [was] not understood." (5) treated unionism "with abhorrence."

Therefore, "scientific management must . . . be declared autocratic in tendency, a reversion to industrial autocracy." It rendered impossible the "establishment of stable conditions of work and pay" and "inevitably tend[ed] to the constant breakdown of the established crafts and craftmanship and the constant elimination of skill." Under a scientific management utopia "any man who walks the street would be a practical competitor for almost any workman's job." This "would . . . render collective bargaining impossible," as intended.

In a supplemental statement Chairman Frank P. Walsh found "the basic cause of industrial dissatisfaction to be low wages," which were maintained "through compulsory and oppressive methods" designed to deny workers "the full product of their toil." Millions of Americans were "denied . . . that degree of economic well-being necessary for the enjoyment of those material and spiritual satisfactions which alone make life worth living." Furthermore, "bitterness, bred of unfilled need for sufficient, food, clothing and shelter" was "nourished . . . by resentment against the arbitrary power [of] the employer." Walsh's bill of indictment against employers pulled no punches:

"Employers from coast to coast have created and maintained small private armies of armed men and have used these forces to intimidate and suppress their striking employees by deporting, imprisoning, assaulting or killing their leaders. Elaborate spy systems are maintained to discover and forestall the movements of the enemy. The use of State troops in policing strikes has bred a bitter hostility to the militia system among members of labor organizations, and States have been unable to enlist wage earners for this second line of the Nation’s defense. Courts, legislatures and governors have been rightfully accused of serving employers to the defeat of justice, and, while counter charges come from employers and their agents, with almost negligible exceptions it is the wage earners who believe, assert and prove that the very institutions of their country have been perverted by the power of the employer. Prison records for labor leaders have become badges of honor in the eyes of many of their people, and great mass meetings, throughout the Nation, cheer denunciations of courts and court decisions."

Speaking for the Commission, Walsh found "the unrest here described to be but the latest manifestation of the age-long struggle of the race for freedom of opportunity for every individual to live his life to its highest ends." Mechanized production posed a considerable obstacle to this, for it allowed "unskilled workers [to be] substituted for the skilled" and produced "great corporations possessing enormous economic power." This, in turn, meant that "work formerly done at home or in small neighborhood shops, [had] been transferred to great factories" in which the worker was reduced to an "impersonal element under the control of impersonal corporations," voiceless and without human connection to the enterprise and its products. Entire families had been swallowed up by the factory system, Walsh noted.

Returning to the theme of parasitism, Walsh pointed out that "while vast inherited fortunes, representing zero in social service to the credit of their possessors, automatically treble and multiply in volume, two-thirds of those who toil from eight to twelve hours a day receive less than enough to support themselves and their families in decency and comfort." Economic insecurity ran rampant, with workers liable to economic disaster from "accident, illness, the caprice of a foreman, or the fortunes of industry." Life off the job was equally oppressive, for "the lives of their babies were snuffed out by bad air in cheap lodgings, and the lack of nourishment and care which they can not buy." Meanwhile, breadwinners killed or "maimed in accidents" visited ruin on their families, who "receive[d] a pittance" in compensation - or nothing at all. Walsh found the Bill of Rights inoperative where private corporate power reigned supreme:

"We find that many entire communities exist under the arbitrary economic control of corporation officials charged with the management of an industry or group of industries, and we find that in such communities political liberty does not exist, and its forms are hollow mockeries. Give to the employer power to discharge without cause, to grant to or withhold from thousands the opportunity to earn bread, and the liberties of such a community lie in the hollow of the employer’s hand. Free speech, free assembly, and a free press may be denied, as they have been denied time and again, and the employer’s agents may be placed in public office to do his bidding."

Contrary to capitalist dogma, a worker was a dependent employee, not a free agent, "For the house he lives in, the food he eats, the clothing he wears, the environment of his wife and children, and his own health and safety, are in the hands of the employer, through the arbitrary power which he exercises in fixing his wages and working conditions."

Nevertheless, employers were not responsible for such conditions, as they were merely following "the natural bent of men involved in the struggle of competitive industry." Walsh placed primary responsibility for injustice "upon the workers, who, blind to their collective strength and oftentimes deaf to the cries of their fellows, have suffered exploitation and the invasion of their most sacred rights without resistance." Other responsible parties include "the great mass of citizens who . . . have failed to realize that their own prosperity is dependent upon the welfare of all classes of the community and that their rights are bound up with the rights of every other individual." Walsh warned that the situation was irremediable without class consciousness from below, for "until the workers themselves realize their responsibility and utilize to the full their collective power, no action, whether Governmental or altruistic, can work any genuine and lasting improvement."