Thursday, February 28, 2013

The "Entitlement" Crisis

This phony crisis is brought to us by the folks who looted the economy in 2008, and have yet to be punished. Claims of insolvency made by looters are particularly ridiculous, but you wouldn't know that from reviewing coverage in the U.S. mass media, which takes Washington's Kabuki theater "politics" with utmost seriousness. Of course, major media corporations are themselves closely linked to Wall Street, and well know it, so we cannot expect candid commentary about our economic distress from this quarter.

In any event, we have all heard the solemn pronouncement that, "It is in the nature of entitlements to continually expand," which is supposed to frighten us into believing that government social programs will inevitably crowd private investment out of capitalism's glorious "free enterprise" system, resulting in general economic collapse. This ignores the fact that it has been unrestrained private financial manipulation, not runaway government spending, that has repeatedly ushered in collapse or near-collapse, as in 1929 and 2008. These crises - the most recent and the most profound - cannot with any credibility be blamed on social democratic excess.

Furthermore, if there is an irreducible conflict between profit-seeking and social democracy, there is no reason a social democratic populace (such as exists throughout the industrial world and even beyond) should not seek to resolve the conflict by limiting (or even abolishing) capitalism rather than social democracy. Endless austerity is scarcely distinguishable from collapse itself, and since the dynamic sector of industrial capitalism has long been state guided, there is no reason the general public should not seek to democratize that guidance in order to "promote the general welfare" instead of just the private welfare of a handful of transnational corporations and international banks. In other words, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a "Nanny State" generously funding the educational, medical, and retirement needs of the population that pays its tax bills. That's precisely what democracy is for.

Of course, such common sense observations will be greeted with indignant disbelief: "Money doesn't grow on trees, you know!" But the idea that we are constrained by a finite supply of money is as ridiculous as believing that carpenters might use up our entire supply of inches and feet, or bus drivers run out of miles, with both groups thus rendering themselves permanently unemployable. For the fact is that money is a measurement of wealth, not wealth itself, just as inches and miles are measurements of distance, not actual spatial limitations.

The problem is not a scarcity of money, but the false belief that money has intrinsic value. Believing this, society is organized to maximize returns to speculators who "create wealth" by exchanging worthless financial instruments for tangible resources like homes, jobs, and pensions. The results are naturally catastrophic, and by now the process is so advanced that these alchemists of phantom wealth have created financial claims (asset bubbles) well in excess of the value of all the world's real wealth combined, guaranteeing massive upheaval even within the relatively stable societies of the industrialized world, such as we are now seeing in Europe.

It is well worth keeping in mind that those who insist we can no longer "afford" Social Security and Medicare do not bring a similar judgment to bear about the bankers who received trillions of dollars of public bailout money after crashing the economy in 2008, money they used to throw extravagant parties, pay out lavish executive bonuses and dividends, and finance merger mania among looting institutions. We are supposed to accept all this on the pretext that making a few people fabulously wealthy without the requirement that they produce anything of real value guarantees everyone a trickle-down benefit that is the essence of the U.S.'s broad prosperity.

Of course, that is perfect nonsense. The idea that financial speculation, asset stripping, predatory lending, risk shifting, leveraging, and debt pyramiding is good, and government-funded retirement and health care is bad because it impedes these essential functions, is like saying that leukemia is good and normal blood cells are bad. Until we forcefully reject such absurdity, our nation's financial house will continue to move toward the Greek model, which has reduced the Greek middle class to utter destitution.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bulletins From Legalienate’s Kosher News Bureau


Hagel Agrees To Public Circumcision
Irish Catholic Lobby Approves

“ My political circumcision by committee was not enough to convince friends of my deep passion for Israel so I have agreed to be physically circumcised in front of the entire congress to assure that I will serve their, uh, our interest as Secretary of, uh, what was it…Defense?  Yeah, that’s it…Defense…right?"

Obama To Celebrate Honorary Bar Mitzvah During Visit To Israel

“Let’s see Republicans top that” said Democratic White House Irish Catholic advisor Kevin Mulrooney Goldberg .

Vatican Announces Abe Foxman To Be New Pope

“ Our first Jewish pope should make it clear that we are a very ecumenical church and are not now nor were we ever anti-semitic” said Vatican spokesperson Shamus McLeibowitz.

Anonymous  Source, Possibly Irish Catholic, Accuses Legalienate’s Kosher News Desk of Hate Crimes, Thought Crimes, Child Molesting, Internet Abuse and Indecent Exposure

Stay tuned…and send bail money…

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Change You Can't Believe In Is On The Way

The day capitalism is forced to tolerate non-capitalist societies in its midst and to acknowledge limits in its quest for domination, the day it is forced to recognize that its supply of raw material will not be
endless, is the day when change will come.

------Arundhati Roy

Rest assured that Ms. Roy is correct, and that the change she refers to is not "change you can believe in." The advertising slogan "change you can believe in" refers to cosmetic change only, and forms the principal barrier to the wide-ranging substantive change now urgently needed to give the human race a chance of surviving the multi-headed hydra of crises threatening it with extinction. Just as fire-fighters will deliberately burn a patch of ground to help extinguish an advancing forest fire, so the architects of empire devise meaningless slogans with which to channel incendiary political discontent into false causes that burn themselves out while leading us nowhere. Apologists for Barack O'Bummer please take note.

In the United States popular analysis of capitalism rarely goes beyond the hopelessly superficial dismissal line - "You gotta make a living!" - as though the difficulties in making ends meet could somehow exempt us from responsibility for the terrible consequences our prolonged political inertia is bringing in its wake.

Capitalism tells us that the massive squandering of resources in public relations and marketing campaigns is a means of giving us information we need to make rational purchasing decisions. Sure. That is why sex appeal is so prominent in advertising - to appeal to our rational minds.

Capitalism tells us that funneling wealth upwards alleviates poverty by the miracle of compound interest "trickling down." Sure. That is why the numbers of people living in utter destitution without hope of escape is growing at a faster rate than world population is.

Capitalism tells us that liberty of contract is inviolable, even though the social costs of unrestrained profit accumulation for the few are now screaming headlines rather than scholars' footnotes, as was the case decades ago. The oceans are an industrial toilet, the sky a giant gas chamber, the earth increasingly a sterile belt of clogged roads and shopping malls. But supposedly none of this is related to the drive to extract maximum profit in private markets dominated by investor cliques that represent but a microscopic minority of humanity. Sure.

Getting more women and racial minority representation at the top of capitalism's rotting social pyramid will do nothing to alter the suicidal course humanity currently finds itself on. Only direct confrontation with the investor minority whose nearly unimaginable riches award it decisive economic control throughout the world can do that. And for this we need a politically sophisticated dissident movement that will not surrender to totalizing ideologies, fashionable despair, or expectations of quick victory.

People are not stupid, and agitation for desperately needed social change is probably more broad-based now than ever before in human history. However, popular victories are few and far between, and those few perpetually threatened with reversal, because we do not dare to name the capitalist beast that is our enemy. "Class warfare" refers not to the constant exploitation carried out by the obscenely rich against the rest of us, but to calls to redistribute the wealth so that equality, freedom, and democracy can flourish. As though there were something wrong with that.

Until we lose our fear of denunciation and slander by the rich, who admittedly hold an awesome power to discredit and demonize anyone who has the nerve to challenge their illegitimate authority, we will continue to lose ground. But if they will not voluntarily surrender their dominant position, and history affords little assurance that they will, challenge them we must.

Neutrality is an illusion, and failure not an option.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Story Behind The Label

The president gave his annual state-of-the-union reading of a speech that could have been written by the Hallmark Cards Political Greetings Division, touching on all the most important aspects of our national condition:

We are the greatest nation in the history of the world and we have some problems but we’re working on them and not to worry, we’ll continue to be the greatest nation in the history of the world.

That established, the usual chorus of near orgasmic praise from his acolytes was accompanied by carefully worded criticism from neo-liberal progressives  who took pains to point out how his sleight of mouth magic this time was much more populist than last time. The neo-conservative regressives took him to task but for all the wrong reasons and the sub-moronic right continue charging him with being born on mars and hating billionaires because he is a communist, but these people require surgery to remove their fingers from their noses. More important was the problem of general consensus among those of the extreme center, the extreme right and the barely discernable left.

At a time when truly radical change is needed we have an extremely mild call for no material change at all, with rhetoric couched in market based packaging and labeling without a thought let alone any action of substance proposed. Thus, a call for more education at a time when tens of thousands of teachers are being laid off and public school budgets are under assault, and a promise of peace by bringing home some troops from Afghanistan while military bases all over the world number more than six hundred and new wars are threatened in Asia and Africa as well as Europe. Especially “populist” was a call for the minimum wage to rise to $9, a royal figure at which a full time worker would still wind up below the family poverty rate. And the same president had opted for a $9.50 wage back in 2008, further proof that not only his rhetoric but the entire economy is sinking.

These are all the usual platitudes employed by any president in these reports to the stockholders that say business is great or will be as soon as a newer product line hits the malls. The lack of material substance and reliance on cheap talk , word games and advertising jargon certainly did not originate with this particular servant of the 1%.

In recent years our consciousness controllers and their Madison Avenue mind managers have verbally transformed the american working class into a middle class , re-labeled workers as associates and convinced many that trillion dollar warfare and the death of hundreds of thousands of people is the experiece of peace. Now the world’s most primitive social democratic ploys to maintain private capital domination have become “entitlements”, which must be cut in an austerity program to save bankers , billionaires and corporate capital from facing financial ruin or worse, social revolution.

Presidents rank slightly above other members of our entertainer class, performing for very high wages to keep a minority in material comfort while supplying the rest of us with immaterial pleasure that keeps is from noticing we haven’t much else to be pleased about. Like the Oscars, the Grammys, the Super Bowl , the World Cup and other prime time shows, these annual speeches draw big crowds and intense coverage by media, though the overwhelming majority of the people pay little attention to them, if any at all. This speaks well for them, but maybe it’s time they start focusing more closely on the politicians rather than  escaping their reality by watching the singing, dancing, acting, running , jumping and political posturing that seem to help make life bearable.

We are under the domain of a system whose owners bring us closer to ruin every moment we give our attention to their distractions of our minds from critical thought in order to protect their massive bodies of illegitimate wealth. The continued reliance on our economy’s private parts to bring us out of a depression caused by that masturbatory focus in the first place amount to an attempt to destroy ourselves in a way that might make sex puritans triumphantly gloat . But the attack on all that is even remotely public and socially oriented in a rush to return to complete and total reliance on the deity of market forces under private control is not funny and is bringing all of us closer to a social and environmental breaking point.

This speech reading by the current CEO of corporate America was a defense of all that is wrong and must be changed. The state of this union, and the world, is in distress, and the last thing to get us out of the mess we’re in is continued reliance on the fanatic notion of a free market that wildly profits some, at the deadly expense of all.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Humanity's Economic Disease: Capitalism

Our situation may not only be stranger than we suppose; it may be stranger than we can suppose.” J.B.Haldane

People demanding governmental change are not united in focusing on the political economics at the root of most global problems but they are moving in that direction. This shows that many can understand the situation, however strange it may seem. But that  understanding does not transmit to much  of what passes for global leadership. Leadership’s inability to cope with, or its desire to maintain “our situation” , even with the potential for planetary disaster, reinforces the egotistical greed of private profit and perpetuates the anti-social problem of public loss. That problem has reached a point at which it threatens all humanity and not just divided and conquered national, religious, racial or other falsely labeled identity groups.

Many people understand that we have reached a critical turning point that demands radical change in how and why we produce the means of supporting  life to the advantages of a shrinking minority which amasses incredible wealth while the vast majority are living in or fast approaching a status close to poverty. But that reality is more often completely denied by global leadership, especially in the western world. Since this is where the problem originates and is sustained, it becomes more important that  the west play a greater role in the movement to radically change global policies, starting by transforming national leadership. That has begun in some parts of  the world like Latin America but here in the USA, it might as well still be the 20th century for all the “change” in the power of tiny minorities to run a supposed democracy by buying and occasionally selling its leadership the way all commodities are traded in the profit and loss marketplace. That is the serious situation in which humanity finds itself, and Americans, despite a taught notion of positive exceptionalism, play the most negatively exceptional role in the creation of waste where there was plenty, and war where there was peace .

Current policies to maintain empire at all costs are misread by many who accept affirmative action for capitalism as the substance of social change. When people of diverse cultural, ethnic, racial or sexual sectors preside over as well as participate in the mass murders of foreigners in wars to perpetuate minority domination, many imagine that the dead smile happily at having been slaughtered by a such a wonderful collection of minority groups exercising democratic power. More important, redistributing tokens in a system threatening disaster for humanity hardly changes anything but for a few who will – very briefly - be most comfortable while their societies are flooded, destroyed by wars or disintegrated in some other form by an angry nature taking its measure of a species that draws closer to outliving its sustainability.

We need to follow at least some of the advice offered by  groups like the Royal Society of London and Another World Is Possible. Despite their differences in funding and outlook, one being establishment and the other seeking alternatives to that establishment, in confronting our problems they come to many of the same conclusions. Both clearly call for a reorganizing of social priorities and an end to the  wasteful commodity culture of the west as the only way to end the poverty suffered by billions and  begin making a better life possible for all humanity. Both highlight the dangers posed by climate change and clearly identify political economics at the root of our treatment of the planet and its people. They use slightly different language and propose slightly different programs, but they are united in saying that another world is necessary if humanity is to survive and progress. That will call for a totally different economic and political foundation even if these groups do not state that fact in the same words.

The warfare culture that treats human welfare as a secondary consideration should not only be obvious from the perspective of those killing and being killed by the massive military organizations supporting an equally massive market force of comfort for some at the expense of deprivation for most. People far removed from the military battlefields and who sincerely profess reverence for deities , preach humanitarian unity and practice sincere if primitive forms of democratic politics still tolerate tens of thousands of humans living in the streets, sleeping under bridges and in doorways , while tens of millions of pets live in comfort in the homes of the same good people. Social and humanitarian priorities are skewed under the domain of profit and loss capital which forces all good people into situations that provoke bad things.

The domestic priorities of a market system which finds animals more valuable than people is the same one making foreign wars that find some humans even less valuable than those same animals. This has little to do with any individual acting in bad faith and much more to do with a system of political economics which cannot help but benefit some by treating others as a lower life form than our pets. We would do well to stop seeking individual villains, though there certainly are many, and pay much closer attention to the system in which wonderful people – and they are far more in number – cannot help but perpetuate growing disaster simply by following the teachings of business as usual and accepting that profits on one side that create loss on the other are some form of decency and humanity when the evidence is, and becoming more so with frightening speed, quite the contrary.

"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it." John Lennon