essays, pieces of articles

16 Apr

“Where democracies have no middle class, and the poor are greatly superior in number, trouble ensues and they are speedily ruined.” Aristotle.

“It is the poor who have wanted to rob the rich or the rich who have tried to put the poor in chains.” Most Americans rightly sense that our mixed free-enterprise economy, which once built a broad middle class, has devolved into a system of *financial socialism by and for elites. If you make less than $114,000 a year (90% of us), you’ve been financially damaged by the flow of income to the richest 1% of Americans over the past 30 years. my comment: the purpose of our gov’t. is to protect the pyramid system called “Capitalism”.

95 percent make less than $160,000, yet whom does gov’t serve? The top one to five percent!!] The richest 1% ($400,000 or more) didn’t work harder than the rest of us. They profited from stock market gains, shrewdly designed financial instruments, and tax cuts. [Rigged capitalism!]

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“There is definitely a story going untold,” says Melissa Boteach, manager of Half in Ten, a national campaign to reduce poverty by 50 percent over the next ten years. “When you have 1 in 7 Americans living in poverty. 1 in 5 children living in poverty-including 1 in 3 African-American children and Latino children-and it’s not on America’s radar, something’s very wrong.” Indeed it is the shame of our nation that a record 47 million people now live below the poverty line-$22,400 for a family of four-and a stunning 1 in 3 Americans are living at less than twice that threshold. And yet we hear so little about this crisis in the mainstream media and Congress, where it seems off the radar not only for the GOP, but even for some of our progressive allies

 

from.- Common dreams, K. Van den Heuvel It was *** Michael Harrington’s powerful examination of poverty published in 1962, The Other America, that moved President Kennedy to begin taking the steps that culminated in President Johnson’s War on Poverty. by Katrina vanden Heuvel It will be a year this week since Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative activist colleagues on the Supreme Court joined together in a dramatic assault on American democracy. Their decision in the Citizens United case overturned more than a century’s worth of precedent by awarding corporations the rights of citizens with regard to electioneering. The court did away with limits on when corporations can spend on elections, how much they can spend and how they can spend their money, allowing unlimited contributions from corporate treasuries to flood the electoral landscape.

 

***** http://www.robertfkennedyjr.com/ Crimes Against Nature How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy Harper Collins In this powerful and far-reaching indictment of George W. Bush’s White House, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the country’s most prominent environmental attorney, charges that this administration has taken corporate croyism to such unprecedented heights that it now threatens our health, our national security, and democracy as we know it. Eisenhower’s prescient warning, given in his farewell speech in 1961: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Institutional Self-Interest: Victory in World War II produced not peace, but an atmosphere of permanent national security crisis. As never before in U.S. history, threats to the nation’s existence seemed omnipresent, an attitude first born in the late 1940s that still persists today. In Washington, fear — partly genuine, partly contrived — triggered a powerful response. One result was the emergence of the national security state, an array of institutions that depended on (and therefore strove to perpetuate) this atmosphere of crisis to justify their existence, status, prerogatives, and budgetary claims. In addition, a permanent arms industry arose, which soon became a major source of jobs and corporate profits. Politicians of both parties were quick to identify the advantages of aligning with this “military-industrial complex,” as President Eisenhower described it.

my comment: One percent of the US owns 34 to 44 percent of the wealth. 20 percent owns 85 percent of the US GDP. — Hence 80 percent of Americans are fighting over 15 percent US GDP.

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Corporate profits are up 60 percent, but unemployment is up to 16 percent, acc. to Donald Trump (CNN interview with Piers Morgan). The material essence of fascism is the extreme separation of rich and poor, a massive transfer of wealth from those on the bottom to those on the top. In 1950, arguably the peak of U.S. global power, manufacturing accounted for 29 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and financial services for 11 percent. By 2005, manufacturing accounted for only 12 percent of the GDP, and financial services for 20 percent—more than manufacturing, health, and wholesale/retail combined. This weakened unions, put downward pressure on wages, and increased the power of the owning class.Once in power, the Reagan administration rolled back taxes on the wealthiest Americans, ended robust antitrust enforcement, and launched a stunningly successful campaign to make finance the U.S. economy’s dominant and most profitable sector. This process continued seamlessly through subsequent Republican and Democratic administrations.

In 1999, on the recommendation of Wall Street insiders, Congress “modernized” the country’s financial system by repealing Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era law that limited commercial banks to commercial banking activities. In 2004, the established requirement that investment banks maintain a 12-to-1 leverage ratio of debt to equity was repealed, leaving them free to make much greater use of borrowed money. Between 1980 and 2005, there were some 11,500 bank mergers in the United States, an average of 442 per year. As the banking system consolidated, its focus shifted from providing financial services for productive activity on Main Street, to funding speculation on Wall Street.

How About the Notion that Unconstrained Markets Create Prosperity and Jobs? Again, not so much. The fact is, laissez-faire, free market policies have failed miserably every time they’ve been tried. It turns out they have a nasty habit of consistently causing grotesque income inequalities, huge market volatility and severe financial collapses. In fact, the Great Recession we are now climbing out of should have been strike 3 for the Free Marketeers. Strike one was the Panic of 1893 and the depression which followed it. Strike two was the Great Depression of the 30’s. In all three cases, these collapses were preceded by conservative, laissez-faire policies featuring deregulation, low taxes and weak governments.

The top earning 10 percent of US families receive 49.3 percent of all US household income, including capital gains. The top 10 percent received a 34.2 of the nation’s income 30 years ago. The bulk of the explosion of inequality has occurred in the past 30 years. In 1979, the top 1 percent of Americans received 10 percent. By 2006, it had reached 22.8 percent.

source: Berkeley, Economics dept.

The top 20 percent own almost 85 percent of the nation’s wealth. 80 percent are fighting over 15 percent! America’s ‘banana-republic like wealth distribution’. The Gini coefficient. 0 equals perfect equality. 1 absolute inequality The US has a gini at .463 The US has the highest inequality with the exception of Mexico and Turkey. The income of the middle class is about $50,000. Pew study middle class = $45,000 to $89,000 for a household of three. $15-30,000 per person living on. 123,000 $ is middle class in Manhattan, whereas in Houston it’s $50,000. $45- 50,000 is the median.

“It used to be the middle class was able to achieve the American Dream of owning a decent home in a safe neighborhood with a good public school, having access to affordable health care, saving for college and retirement, and going out for the occasional meal, movie and vacation.” Bernstein. EPI.

The above represents my notes on the book, “It can happen here.” Bruce Judson, Yale Business School —

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from “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” By Noam Chomsky

Intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions. In the Western world, at least, they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom of expression. For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us. The responsibilities of intellectuals, then, are much deeper than what Macdonald calls the “responsibility of people,” given the unique privileges that intellectuals enjoy.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1967/feb/23/a-special-supplement-the-responsibility-of-intellectuals/ José Marti, another of Cuba’s heroes, said, “Being cultured is the only way to be free.

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“Are we really Free? ”

America as I understand it is run by those who have the most. Whether they have gained the money mainly licitly or illicitly is irrelevant to the argument. Money is money, and power seeks more power. Hence, all of the wonderful rhetoric about “Democracy” that our ears are attuned to hearing fails to acknowledge the obvious fact that the powerful and wealthy run the show. In Jefferson’s time, only wealthy males were considered to be free. Women couldn’t vote until 1919, and black people didn’t fully attain their rights until 1964-5. Hence, American Democracy is a deeply flawed concept.

It took 190 years for America to realize the fuller meaning of freedom, equality and liberty that Thomas Jefferson believed to be the rights of all Citizens, and indeed, all human beings. It is the purpose of Gov’t to protect those rights. The power of the wealthy, however, can be used to overcome the will of the people, as happened when George W Bush was elected President by the Supreme Court, 2000.

Unions are many people’s only protection from economic exploitation of the capitalist class. The very first victims of the Nazis were the trade unionists and Communists.

 

 

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Lenin accurately understood that Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. Isn’t that what we’re living under now? Wasn’t the war in Iraq, and its continued occupation, a purely capitalist affair? We know that Halliburton and Exxon Mobil made enormous profits from the war, while the common footsoldier, if he was lucky, came out with not much more than his or her life.

The neocolonialism of Britain and the US, which have morphed into one world united by mass media false consciousness, have turned Johnny next door into a tool of the world’s most powerful states, as they attempt to play Lawrence of Arabia (redux!) The struggle today is not over Russia, but over the Third World and its resources. The First World, with its power and technology v. the Third World. That is the essence of what is happening today.

 

Capitalism

The neoliberalism of the Capitalistic system has led to improvements in living standards of the workers as a strategy to forestall any movement toward Communist rebellion. However, the looting of the Third World and Russia has been ongoing. It is the lack of solidarity and consciousness born of knowledge and struggle of the workers in America and Britain that have enabled the global capitalists to undertake their neocolonial and neoimperial adventures. If workers of America felt solidarity with those of other nations, and recognized the nature of the class system, and understood that war for profit is an essential function of the order of things, then there might be a real uprising against the corporatist status quo.

 

 

What we now live under is capitalism with a Janus face — benign and violent at the same time. The ameliorative, liberal spirit of bourgeois democracy is far from being truly progressive, but rather is reactionary, nationalistic and militaristic under the anti-democratic aegis of the Pentagon, Congress, and Wall Street. Bourgeois democracy must transform itself — in accordance with the people’s will — in an Hegelian ‘aufhebung’ – toward Social democracy!

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“Foreign Policy and American Hegemony.” The US gov’t has been comfortable with dictatorships up until recently; indeed many were supported by the US and NATO. Saddam’s regime in Iraq, supported by them for many years, is a case in point. The Idealist wing of the US gov’t (Wilsonians) believes that our foreign policy should be determined by our ideals — democracy and human rights. The Real-politic wing (Kissinger-people) believes we should do whatever is best for our interests – and the hell with our stated ideals. Oil and atomic weapons of course are tied for first place in our ‘national interest.’ The US military and NATO can’t overthrow the gov’ts in the world that they oppose without raising vocal opposition to such actions.

There is no constitutional or populist basis for such a policy. Nevertheless, that seems to be the course the Establishment elites –namely, the Pentagon, the CIA, Georgetown- Harvard- Princeton- Columbia -Yale and the other Ivies– have set out for us, and The NY Times and WSJ openly give voice to such policies, in order to steer public opinion in that direction. Israel spies on these institutions in its own interest, as well as using its arm -AIPAC- to wield pressure and spread money around to make sure that Congress and the media don’t openly criticize it too sharply for failing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That’s the so-called “New World Order” of unilateralism.

 

==== my comment:

Gulf wars:

What the pinheads in the media don’t inform you about is the incredible number of head-injured soldiers there are from the various wars W and Obama have embroiled us in. It’s over 130,000!! Do they even count the ‘PTSD’ or as Freud called them, “Shell-shocked” patients in the VA hospitals as “wounded?” It’s STAGGERING! This may go down in history as one of the greatest speeches ever given in the U.S. Congress.

 

The Republicans are the ones declaring all-out CLASS WARFARE on the vast majority of the population in order to protect the people on top and the Corporations!

And note, Bernie Sanders mentioned that the Federal Reserve received a bailout. WHY? If America collapses into internal anarchy, then you will know how the Republicans and some “moderates” went along with this plan to keep Americans enslaved by DEBT to the banking class and foreign lenders, while they destroy New Deal and Great Society protections for the working poor, the middle class, the unions, the young and the old alike. No other nation in the world, except banana republics, would tolerate this war on the people! And you can be sure the Republicans, who are really just corporate and Pentagon whores, and their media-stooges will just wave the flag and laugh and blame the other party!

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Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize in Economics, proves scientifically that the Republicans are basically the SHIT ON THE POOR party. “It’s social policy, stupid, that determines the economy under statism.” ——- If health-care reform truly takes effect, then popular inertia might take over and “we become an ordinary advanced country, where it’s taken for granted that of course society is going to make sure everybody has basic health care.” But it was easy to see how inertia could also invert into “erosion that eventually swallows Medicare and Medicaid. What a cogent analysis! What Americans don’t understand – and that’s a lot- is that the US has suppressed democratic revolutions abroad , during the Cold War and after, in favor of supporting regimes that do Washington’s bidding. America doesn’t really care about ‘democracy’, but seeks client states that will maintain a useful sphere of influence.

Governments are selfish. It’s all about America, baby. Our security. Our power. Our needs. I have shown through critical analysis of numerous articles, and through my own caustic wit, that America is not a real democracy (NSC, don’t forget that , National Security , whatever the hell that is); America is no longer a Republic but a world empire; that America is a burgeoning surveillance society, police-state; and that capitalism is on shaky ground, dependent upon the suppression of worker’s rights (unions); on blatant racism and police thuggery; on anti-democratic social-structures greatly favoring the privileged over the vast masses of the unwashed, the working class. America is a violent society requiring the emprisonment of over 2 million people.

A society awash in poisons, drugs, and pollution. Is this what we want to be, a prison-nation, where worker-slaves toil for Wal Mart wages, and where our troops are sacrificed abroad in a perpetual war for perpetual peace? If so, then like other Empires, America will fall. In our lifetimes. Is falling. America. Oppression abroad, and repression in the homeland.

 

The working class does have the power – the power to strike. In France, crippling strikes have shut down society numerous times. Can such tactics be condoned in a world in which terrorism is now threatening society itself? Negri doesn’t believe in ‘bourgeois freedoms’, but is basically a theoretician of provocation. Is his work really a threat to a ‘free society’? If acts of speech, such as a book, can be seen by those in power as a threat – then how can society call itself ‘free’? Given that terrorism will continue to be an issue well into the century – society may very well choose ‘security’ over ‘freedom.’ Negri asks that we act; but maybe he should first provoke us to think. I couldn’t have said it better myself. “Shied away from calling it war.”

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Your silence is consent

Despite cable TV, 24 hour news, people remain utterly in the dark. Some people call themselves ‘news junkies, ‘ ie, ‘couch potatoes’, yet they have no clue. What outrages me in particular is the lack of news focus on the soldiers in Iraq-Afpak. Some of them are doing five six seven tours of duty, and the news media utterly fail to inform people of this. They are being used up, killed, or worked into an early grave by the rich, power elites of Washington. \

 

If the news media ignore the tree falling in the woods, did it fall?

I almost fell out of my comfy chair the other night when on Faux News (Fox news), Judge Napolitano mentioned to Donald Rumsfeld that “600,000″ Iraqi civilians had died since the start of the Second Gulf War (Operation Iraqi Freedom). “Rummy” didn’t flinch as the good Judge moved on to ask him a pertinent question about something else. So is his silence assent or denial?

 

3/8/11 The UN, Oil for Socialism, and US Foreign Policy

I. The US uses 25 percent of the world’s oil, and has 5 percent of the world’s population. It imports almost twice as much oil as it produces. (Source, Ali Velshi, CNN). We buy oil from socialist states like Canada, Russia, and Mexico, and from quasi-communist states like Venezuela; and from Royalist Muslim states in the Gulf. These latter have been accused of supporting terrorism indirectly.

Hence, the US indirectly supports socialism and anti-democratic governments. By rejecting American nationalist solutions for oil self-sufficiency, we contribute to the coffers of governments which we may not support ideologically. II. Since 1916, the US government has repeatedly sought to intervene in foreign nations’ affairs in order to spread our notions of ‘democratic government.’ Wilson openly stated that his policy was one of ‘making the world safe for democracy’ during the “War to end all wars.’ He also proposed the creation of the League of Nations, which would supposedly ensure the peace. He was not supported in this endeavor by our Congress, and the US retreated into isolationism – and prosperity. After the Great Depression, caused by speculators and an over-heated market, FDR led the US into World War Two against the Axis powers.

THE United Nations was born on 1/1/1942, and then its charter was ratified in 1946 when victory was assured. This marked the birth of the “New World Order.” Unfortunately, because of the United Nations, the US military became embroiled in another conflict, this time in the Korean peninsula, for a member state that was under attack. That war ended in a stalemate that persists to this day. Next we became involved in the affairs of South Vietnam, as well as in other nations of Indochina. Chastened by the loss of that nation to communism, the US retreated from armed intervention as a means of spreading its Gospel of muscular democracy. After the Reagan buildup led to the foreign policy success of Soviet collapse, the US plunged into new conflicts. It intervened in Panama, to ‘overthrow a brutal dictator.’ Then Iraq, ‘ to drive a brutal dictator out of Kuwait.’ Then Yugoslavia, to ‘stop a brutal dictator.’ Then, Afghanistan, to ‘capture or kill a brutal terrorist’, which was certainly a justifiable action. Then, Iraq again, in order to ‘drive out a brutal dictator.’

 

Different years, but same old script! In addition to these “police actions”, which were mainly accomplished in the name of the United Nations, the US military has intervened in the Dominican Republic, Granada, and nearly started a nuclear war over Castro’s Cuba. The US government helped to overthrow Allende in Chile. One has to wonder, just what exactly is the US national interest in all of these acts of ‘intervention’? Are we fighting for the US? For the UN? For both? For a “New World Order”? Where in the US constitution are we authorized to do these things? The price of oil today is 106 dollars a barrel, and US/Nato soldiers are still dying in the Middle East.

 

== === on Chris Hedges; FINALLY , SOMEONE GETS IT! We’re living under a class system, and the wealthy class are out to destroy the entire working class, to silence those who speak for them, and to destroy the 40 hour workweek. Whoever controls work, controls the people. Whoever controls food, controls the people. Whoever controls the housing, controls the people. Whoever controls the media, controls the people. Whoever controls money, controls the people. The powerful seek to destroy any social movement that might critique them! The powerful use the educational system to further their own goals! Outsourcing work, and militarization of society go hand in hand with long term corporatist goals. All the while, the myth of American democracy is being drummed into people’s heads so that they cannot think for themselves! We’ve succeeded where the fascists failed. When will there be an uprising in the ‘land of the free”? Only when the people are at the end of their rope, and recognize their consciousness of oppression and give collective voice to the class consciousness. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

 

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An insurgency can feed on poverty, discontent, imprisoned youths, and other forms of chaos. Sad to say, but don’t these conditions already exist in the “inner-cities” ie, ‘ghettoes’ of America? Wasn’t the Sixties revolt, or rebellion, tantamount to a social revolution? Plus qu’ils change, plus qu’ils reste le meme. There has been no comparable politico-social revolt in America since the Sixties. The leaders were all killed: JFK, MLK Jr, RFK, John Lennon (RIP). The revolts/rebellion descended into apolitical youth culture and suburban- consumerist indifference to the plight of people in the ‘inner-cities.’

 

 

 

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