Friday, February 26, 2010

One Nation Divisable

The Eastpointer

One Nation - divisible!

By Richard E. Noble

An event took place in this century that represented one of the largest population movements in recorded history. It happened in India. For years (maybe decades or centuries) men like Mahatma Gandhi tried to unite the Muslim and the Hindu populations of India. But other of his countrymen claimed that this was impossible. They claimed that the Hindu and the Muslim populations were of different philosophies and maintained different customs and literature. These separatists advocated a partition.
They recommended that a portion of India, what is now known as Pakistan, become a separate Muslim state. On July 18, 1947 the arrangement was finalized and 14 to 20 million people found themselves in the wrong country. In consequence they packed their bags, loaded their families onto their carts or just walked east or west depending on whether they were Muslim or Hindu. Gandhi was shot to death by a fellow Hindu, Nathuram Godse, for his attempts to negotiate a compromise to the partition
I think it is time here in the United States for a similar partition. Our country is irreversibly divided by two uncompromising "religious" sects - the Republicans and the Democrats. Like all religions both the Republicans and the Democrats each have their dogmas, their traditions, their mythologies, and their unsubstantiated suspicions. All of which provide them with their uncompromising, and self-assured faith.
I have nothing against Republicans or Democrats but it is clear to me that they are incapable of ruling cooperatively. Neither group gets along entirely with their own members, but when placed against their opposition they become vicious and belligerent. It is only a matter of time before the slaughter begins.
Republicans and Democrats are of two totally different philosophies. They have different literature, different history books, different TV stations, and different and totally opposed solutions to every problem. It does not matter how big or how small the problem is the Democrats disagree with the Republicans and vise-versa.
Republicans write history books of The United States of America that do not even resemble the history books written by the Democrats. Their presentations of the daily news are totally different. If you watch the Republican news media you will have one view of what is happening and if you watch the Democratic news you will find the opposite. In the middle we have generic journalism and the generic news media. They do their best to be sensational, but non- educational.
On a personal and individual level, Republicans and Democrats do not communicate – even if they are members of the same family. If a brother or son is a Republican and you are a Democrat you talk about baseball, football or golf. Unless you are innately belligerent you do not talk politics. You might go so far as to tell your sibling or relative who you intend to vote for just to be annoying. Being annoying to one another is a part of the basic sibling rivalry or family tradition in the Hank Williams Jr. sense. Democrats speak openly only to other Democrats and Republicans do likewise. Both groups all speak out publicly hoping that there are some potential initiates out there who are neither Republican nor Democrats. This is considered missionary work or evangelizing. They are hoping to "baptize" the young, inexperienced, or uninformed and have them born anew via an epiphany. Neither Republicans nor Democrats are foolish enough to attempt to convert one another – they know better.
Republicans believe that Democrats are evil, pernicious, treasonous, and threatening to their security and their lives. The Democrats feel likewise about Republicans.
The two parties have not truly compromised on anything for decades. One of the two parties must be in complete control for anything to be accomplished. If the two parties are equally represented we have "gridlock." Gridlock is a recent term that means – nothing is accomplished. When something is accomplished within a period of gridlock, it is usually less than nothing.
What is even worse is the fact that whatever party does manage to gain control, the other party then seeks to undermine everything the party in power is attempting to accomplish.
When one party gains control and does manage to make some changes that are satisfactory to their principles, the opposition party regains control and then proceeds to dismantle all the gains made by their opponents. Consequently America is going nowhere and has been going nowhere for quite some time.
I suggest that the Republicans go west and the Democrats go east or vise-versa. Everybody can temporarily cash out of all their properties and possessions via a federal escrow program. When they get to their new promised land they can all cash in their vouchers and settle in. We will call ourselves East America and West America.
We were once upset when poor Germany had an East Germany and a West Germany that was divided by a wall, but we have obviously gotten over our aversion to dividing walls. I see no big problem today with an East and West America.
Can you imagine the joy, peace, happiness and contentment that you would experience if you lived in a neighborhood that was entirely made up of Democrats - or Republicans!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Economics of Innocent Fraud

The Economics of Innocent Fraud

By John Kenneth Galbraith

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

In the introduction to this book Mr. Galbraith attempts to explain the title Innocent Fraud.
"What prevails in real life is not the reality but the current fashion and the pecuniary interest ..." The innocent fraud is the public acceptance of "conventional wisdom."
"When capitalism, the historic reference, ceased to be acceptable, the system was renamed. The new term was benign but without meaning."
The new phrase to replace the word capitalism was "the Market System." This is the first example of innocent fraud.
Mr. Galbraith explains that the word capitalism had been sullied. The communist and the socialist had given the term a negative implication. By their definition the term capitalism meant "price, cost exploitation." The word had also been defamed by the people who were famous for being capitalist - like Rockefeller, Carnegie, Duke, Morgan, Vanderbilt, Gould, Fisk etc. Then the "Merchants of Death" exposure and scandal after World War I added more insult to the injury. This was followed by the Great Depression which many interpreted as the total failure of capitalism.
The powers-that-be tried to replace the negative term capitalism with "Free Enterprise" and "Social Democracy" but neither filled the bill. Finally, according to Professor Galbraith the meaningless and benign phrase, The Market System, came into vogue. Markets, the author explains, are not peculiar to a capitalist system. Markets have been around since coinage came into existence supposedly in Lydia in the eighth century B.C. and have been integral to every type of economic system since - including communism and socialism.
The fraud with regards to this terminology is the implication that no individual or capitalist or company is possessive of power in the Market System – the amorphous Market System rules.
Mr. Galbraith suggests that "the Corporate System" would be a truer and more accurate explanation of the prevailing economic system in the U.S. today.
The second fraud is the notion that the Market System is governed by consumer demand. "Belief in a market economy in which the consumer is sovereign is one of our most pervasive forms of fraud." Galbraith suggests that consumer demand is more managed and contrived than independent.
Gross Domestic product is the next fraud. "The more than minimal fraud is in measuring social progress all but exclusively by the volume of producer-influenced production, the increase in the GDP ... Good performance is measured by the production of material objects and services. Not education or literature or the arts but the production of automobiles, including SUVs: Here is the modern measure of economic and therewith social achievement."
Work is next on the fraud hit list. "The word work embraces equally those for whom it is exhausting, boring, disagreeable and those for whom it is a clear pleasure with no sense of the obligatory ... Those who most enjoy work - and this should be emphasized - are all but universally the best paid. Those who least need compensation for their effort, could best survive without it, are paid the most ... While idleness is good for the leisure class in the United States and all advanced countries, it is commonly condemned for the poor."
The next fraud challenges the notion that the term bureaucracy applies to government solely and that shareholders and founders or owners are the ultimate authority ruling corporations. "No one should be in doubt: Shareholders - owners - and their alleged directors in any sizable enterprise are fully subordinate to the management. Though the impression of owner authority is offered, it does not, in fact, exist. An accepted fraud ... Reference to corporate management compensation as something set by stockholders or their directors is a bogus article of faith - compensation (is) set by management for itself." And the author points out that management's compensation to itself "can be munificent."
"Corporate power lies with management - a bureaucracy in control of its task and its compensation. Rewards that can verge on larceny. This is wholly evident. On frequent recent occasions, it has been referred to as the corporate scandal."
The public sector vs. the private sector is, in the author's opinion, also in the innocent fraud category. "The accepted distinction between the public and the private sectors has no meaning when seriously viewed. Rhetoric, not reality. A large, vital and expanding part of what is called the public sector is for all practical effect in the private sector ... Close to half of the total of the United States government's discretionary expenditure (outlay not mandated for a particular use, such as Social Security or service of the public debt) was used for military purposes - for defense ... A large part was for weapons procurement or for weapons innovation and development."
"The Military Industrial Complex: Explicit was the takeover of public weapons policy by the defense industry ... The intrusion into what is called the public sector by the ostensibly private sector has become a commonplace."
The author goes on to point out that defense and weapons development are motivating forces in foreign policy. "For some years there has also been recognized corporate control of the Treasury - business firms moving ever closer to actual combat; corporations now provide stand-ins for active soldiers; some firms are helping to conduct training exercise (and) contract as military recruiters and instructors in R.O.T.C.
"So the reality. In war command as in peace, the private becomes the public sector."
The next fraud deals with predicting the future performance of the economy. (Unfortunately there is a rather glaring misprint in this chapter.
"The fraud begins with a controlling fact, inescapably evident but all but universally ignored. It is that the future economic performance of the economy, the passage from good times to recession or depression and back, cannot be foretold."
The inference of this last statement is that the future of the performance of the economy can be foretold, but the remainder of the text that follows illustrates how charlatans sell their so called predictions to everyone's eventual dismay.
The paragraph continues as follows: "There are more than ample predictions but no firm knowledge. All contend with a diverse combination of uncertain government action, unknown corporate and individual behavior and, in the larger world, with peace or war."
So I think Mr. Galbraith's innocent fraud is the notion that the future performance of the economy can be foretold.
And the following chapter begins with, "I come now to our most prestigious form of fraud, our most elegant escape from reality. As sufficiently noted, the modern economic system is unpredictable in its movement from good times to bad and then eventually from bad to good ... here is our most cherished and, on examination, most evident form of fraud ... The false and favorable reputation of the Federal Reserve has a strong foundation."
Mr. Galbraith explains that the notion that the Federal Reserve can control the economy by manipulating the interest rate is not true and has been confirmed historically. "Business firms borrow when they can make money and not because interest rates are low ... Recovery comes, but not in any way, from Federal Reserve Action. Housing improves as mortgage rates decline. Interest rates are a detail when sales are bad. Firms do not borrow and expand output that cannot be sold ... Since 1913, when the Federal Reserve came fully into existence, it has had a record against inflation and notably against recession of deep and unrelieved inconsequence ... The fact will remain: When times are good, higher interest rates do not slow business investment. They do not much matter; the larger prospect for profit is what counts. And in recession or depression, the controlling factor is the poor earnings prospect ... the defining forces will be the consumer spending and industry investment ... the belief that anything as complex, as diverse and by its nature personally as important as money can be guided by well-discussed but painless decisions emanating from a pleasant, unobtrusive building in the nation's capital belongs not to the real world but to that of hope and imagination."
The next fraud is that corporations are innocent, blameless and amorphous. Corporations are powerful and need to be regulated. "There is no question but that corporate influence extends to the regulators ... Needed is independent, honest, professionally competent regulation - again, a difficult thing to achieve in a world of corporate dominance. This last must be recognized and countered. There is no alternative to effective supervision. Management behavior can also be improved by thoughtful contemplation of the wholly real possibility of less than agreeable incarceration."
Next the author points out the connection between the military industrial complex, its merging of the private sector and the public sector and its influence on foreign policy and consequently our war efforts.
"The greatest military misadventure in American History until Iraq was the war in Vietnam."
During the Vietnam War, which the author did not support, he points out: "During all this time the military establishment in Washington was in support of the war. This indeed, was assumed. It was occupationally appropriate that both the armed services and the weapons industries should accept and endorse hostilities."
The author also points out the failure of bombing during World War II and that it was ineffective in halting German War production. "In Germany the strategic bombing, that of industry, transportation and cities was gravely disappointing ... fighter aircraft production actually increased in early 1944 after major bombing. In the cities the random cruelty and death inflicted from the sky had no appreciable effect on the war production of the war.
"These findings were vigorously resisted by the Allied armed services, especially, needless to say, the air command, even though they were the work of the most capable and relevant scholars of the United States and Britain and were supported by German industry officials and impeccable German statistics ... All our conclusions were cast aside - this, as said, the response of the air command and its public and academic allies. The latter united to arrest my appointment to a Harvard professorship and succeeded in doing so for a year."
The final chapter is entitled "The Last Word".
"One thing, I trust, has emerged in this book: That is the now dominant role of the corporation and the corporate management in the modern economy." The author then points out that the corporation along with its merging with the Military Industrial Complex and the dissolving of the distinction between public and private sector has led to "adverse social flaws".
"One, as just observed, is the way the corporate power has shaped the public purpose to its own ability and need. It ordains that social success is more automobiles, more television sets, more diverse apparel, a greater volume of all other consumer goods. Also more and more weaponry ... Wars are, one can not doubt, a major modern threat to civilized existence, and corporate commitment to weapons procurement and use nurtures and supports this threat. It accords legitimacy and even heroic virtue to devastation and death."
The author goes on to admonish tax relief to the wealthy and corporate management as without economic merit. "A recession calls for a reliable flow of purchasing power, especially for the needful, who will spend. Here there is assured effect, but it is resisted as unserviceable compassion ... There can be pecuniary reward, most often tax relief, for the socially influential. In the absence of need, it may not be spent. The needful are denied the money they will surely spend; the affluent are accorded the income they will almost certainly save."
The author's final word is on the Iraq war. "As I write the United States and Britain are in the bitter aftermath of a war in Iraq. We are accepting programmed death for the young and random slaughter for men and women of all ages ... Civilized life, as it is called, is a great white tower celebrating human achievements, but at the top there is permanently a large black cloud. Human progress dominated by unimaginable cruelty and death.
"I leave the reader with the sadly relevant fact: Civilization has made great strides over the centuries in science, health care, the arts and most, if not all, economic well-being. But also it has given a privileged position to the development of weapons and the threat and reality of war. Mass slaughter has become the ultimate civilized achievement.
"The facts of war are inescapable - death and random cruelty, suspension of civilized values, a disordered aftermath. Thus the human condition and prospect as now supremely evident. The economic and social problems here described, as also mass poverty and starvation, can, with thought and action, be addressed. So they have already been. War remains the decisive human failure."

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Hobo Philosopher


By Richard E Noble

I’ve lived in the South now for about the last twenty-five years or so. I’ve lived up in ‘Yankee’ territory for an equal number of years. In any case, I don’t ever remember hearing so much talk about Socialism as I have in the last few years. I don’t know if this is a new topic in both the North and the South but, regardless, I find the whole dialogue rather interesting.
I live in Florida - the southern part of Florida, which, as all of us Floridians know, is the northern panhandle. Southern Florida is where all them damn Yankees live. All us rebels are hiding up here in Tallahassee, and Apalachicola. Every time I pick up a newspaper in this neighborhood, somebody is screaming about Socialism. To tell you the truth, I really don’t think that most folks down here know what Socialism actually is. But from what I see in the papers and the letters to the editor, it seems to be something between pagan devil worship and Adolf Hitler. In any case, it is a very bad thing. And I hear about how bad it is from both rich and poor. It is the enemy of freedom. It’s the antithesis of individualism. It’s mediocrity in the work place. It’s ... why it’s ah, prostitution and selling drugs to children; and it is everywhere and it’s right here - right here in this little town where I live in the Florida panhandle.
Boy, this is scary! But when I analyze this little Panhandle community I now call home, I find all this talk somewhat confusing.
I live in what most would call a poor community - traditionally, very poor. Many folks around here are on what they call - disability. From what I can gather, most of them think that getting disability is like getting an inheritance from some long lost relative, or winning the lottery. At best, they think it to be an early age retirement program of some kind. Now I don’t mean to scare all of you folks downtown but that check that you are getting comes from the state. Now don’t run out and tell this to all of your independent Capitalist friends and neighbors, but you are participating in an act of SOCIALISM! (Is that a felony or a misdemeanor?)
Other poor Capitalists in this community, buy their groceries with food stamps, or they used to. That’s a big RED Socialist no no, my good friends.
Like a lot of children in this community, my mother raised me from age thirteen to age eighteen on a widower’s pension. Sorry kids - single mommies and daddies - you’ve just been Socialized! (That’s kind of like getting ‘slimmed’ I think.) Then again, if you are on ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) you didn’t even have to become a widow, or even get married, and you got all of us good capitalists sending money to support you and your little bastards. [Bastard = a child born out of wedlock.] This may sound strange to all of you young women today, but back in the ‘old’ days a woman used to be ashamed to have a baby without first getting married - and married to a MAN. How chauvinistic! Can you imagine? I certainly hope that our society doesn’t regress to such male-dominated, anti-liberated, freedom inhibiting, antiquated standards such as the above ever again.
Interestingly enough, the biggest single employer in this area is the ... government. Nearly anybody who is anybody around "these parts” is a retired General or Admiral from the Military service. Sorry guys and gals but MILITARY (American flags and all) means employed by the state - means salaries coming out of taxpayers dollars. From the good capitalist point of view, your service and wounds all aside, any of us good capitalists would have done whatever it is that you think you did, if we were ‘called’. Even our current president supports that notion. Besides, why do you people all think that you should get a check for the rest of your life for just doing what you were supposed to do in the first place? Yours was not exactly a sacrifice. It was your DUTY, not to mention a steady job and the pay check you got for all those hours of sitting around on your ass and doing nothing in peace time. (Capitalist point of view - not the author’s). What about all of those extra coffee breaks and the free board and room supplied by us ‘capitalist’ taxpayers, for all of those years when nobody was shooting? Talk about sucking the system dry! (Ps: that was a conservative talking, not me.) Besides, you certainly couldn’t get more Socialistic than the all-for-one one-for-all military. If it ain’t Socialist, it is outright Communist. You don’t even get your “inalienable” rights when you’re in the Military. They decided that your Constitution and the Military are not compatible. You can’t have a democratic Military, for God’s sake.
The last prominent group here in my little town, are “good old boys” who left the farm, went to the big city, and have since retired from some union job. Well I don’t know if you would call ‘unions’ socialist ... you might like the word communist better. In case you have never noticed, the words worker and capitalist are not exactly synonyms. The whole socialist/communist movement in America was the brainchild of unionism. Workers are supposed to negotiate separately. Ganging up on the boss is not fair. What chance do the poor bosses have? It was the labor unions who were the first to be prosecuted under the anti-monopolistic Sherman Anti-Trust Act - it was not the big business Robber Barons, you know.
Workers joining together for better working conditions and better wages was against the law in this country right up until the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Before that, it was considered a conspiracy in restraint of trade and against the property rights of the bosses. It was unconstitutional.
And I hate to tell you this but “retirement” is no capitalist idea. You can bet your child labor laws that no red-blooded, American capitalist ever thought up the ridiculous idea of starting up a RETIREMENT FUND for lazy employees who think that they are too old to work - not without being pressured in one way or another by some Socialist/Communist union anyway.
What are you people crazy!!? Get your butts off them lawn chairs and get a damn job. As a famous ex-capitalist once said, let me make myself perfectly clear:
If you work for the State - pssstt don’t tell anybody, but you are engaged in a Socialist enterprise. And if you don’t like this arrangement, you can write to your congressman - but don’t mail it, because you certainly wouldn’t want to encourage that Socialistic postal system. Post office ... of the state, by the state and for the state.
If you are retired from some union, you’re not even good enough to be a Socialist, you’re a damn Communist and you know it! Everybody has known for decades that labor unions are Marxist, and that’s even worse than Socialist.
If you are retired from the Military you are just adding insult to injury. You had better just crawl up under your bed, my friend, because there is absolutely nothing democratic about the Marine Corps. As a soldier, not only are you a damn government employee Socialist, but you are also an active member of a right wing, radical, totalitarian organization - that kills people! No doubt about it, when you join the United States Military, you have just moved to another country. A country in which every dictator in the world would feel very much at home.
If you tell the Admiral that you wouldn’t follow his sorry butt to the latrine for fear that he would pee between the urinals, an you find yourself in the hole, or someplace worse, don’t waste your breath screaming about your Constitutional rights, because “they done gone, boy! We don’t have no Constitution he-ahh boy. And we don’t have no IN-DI-VID-U-ALS neither. You get me BOUY!”
If you are one of those who are complaining about living on a fixed income, and you want your COLA’s increased, you had best not fight for the abolition of Socialism here at home, because when they cancel your Socialist Social Security check, you will probably find yourself bagging groceries at your local ‘Hop and Stop’ in your new (bought with your own hard earned damn money) capitalistic, secondhand wheelchair.
Have you been to the hospital recently? Better check your Medicare. Whoops Medicare? Was that a capitalist program started by Henry Ford? You can bet your mass production, assembly line, sixteen hour day that it wasn’t, it isn’t, and it never will be.
You are out of work, and your unemployment checks are running out? Go talk to your Republican (I’m a capitalist) Senator, or Mr. Conservative (buy some bigger boot straps) news commentator, or newspaper editorialist, or rich radio talk show host. Unemployment checks? Why the newspapers are full of jobs. Turn in that Socialist government check and get a damn job. You probably belong to some damn union too. Socialist PIG!!
Speaking of pigs, do you work for the police department? the fire department? the Marine patrol? That’s all state employment. A no-no in a free capitalist society. By the way, do you work for the health department? the driver’s licensing burrow? the DNR?, the IRS? Urban renewal? the environmental protection agency, the J.P.T.A. (that’s Government funded, boys and girls) you’ve just been slimmed.
Did the boss give you a bucket of acid, instead of water and now you are collecting workmen’s compensation? Hang your head, my friend. Turn in that check, and get a job.
You’re receiving a Veteran’s check? A capitalist idea? I think not, Comrade! Turn it in! Get a job!
Your retirement is secure. You’re vested, you say. Another Henry Ford idea? Not hardly - Socialism, good buddy.
Is your book over due at the public library? Do you work at the public library? For God’s sake, become a capitalist and buy your own darn books, will you! Why should good capitalists like us pay out our hard earned dollars for books so that parasites like you can read for free? There is no free lunch, or book of the month, for that matter.
So you have a nephew who is a Forest Ranger? Your cousin works at a National Park - a STATE park? You enjoy having the family reunion at the COUNTY Park. Why don’t you and your Socialist-commie family celebrate in your own damn back yard, like all us good capitalists do. My God!!!
Are you a little behind on your college loan? Did you get your education through the GI bill? Are you in business due to a minority grant? Do you work at the Public Defenders office? Are you a Public Defender? Capitalist idea? In your dreams baby. Late for the PTA meeting at your neighborhood “public” school? Boy who thought up that tax gouger? Not an independent capitalist, that’s for sure.
Your Mom was a school teacher? Did she start her own school, and charge the neighborhood kids, like a good capitalist? Or did she teach at one of those pinko public institutions? I suppose that she belonged to one of those commie teacher’s union and is now retired and receiving her teacher’s pension check ... RIGHT ALONG WITH HER SOCIALIST SECURITY CHECK. Damn, what’s a good capitalist supposed to do?
A COUNTY hospital? Who the Hell is paying for that? State asylums? You have a COUNTY job? You work for the Federal prison system? the STATE prison system? the County jail?
Had your hospital bills paid by an Insurance Company? Work for an Insurance Company? Own an Insurance Company? The very idea of “insurance” is SOCIALIST or Communist inspired. Unions and worker fraternal organizations thought up that one. Today’s independent insurance company thought up how to take the not-for-profit union idea and turn it into billions for themselves. In the Capitalist world everybody takes care of themselves. They don’t “chip in” and share the load like a bunch of old time Communist Christians. Oh Yes, Yes Yes Yes - Christianity, original design’? Pure Communism.
You like the idea, “all for one, and one for all.” That is Socialism, MAN!
Love your neighbor as yourself? Don’t meditate on that too, too long you commie, socialist, pig!
Insurance is Socialist. The Capitalist part comes in when the owner of the insurance company claims bankruptcy, absconds with the employee’s retirement fund, or simply refuses to pay because your claim is too high, or too many of you “poor victims” have all claimed at the same time. That’s called “Laissez Faire”, pursuing one’s personal self-interest, or as any good Capitalist might say; Screw the woman and children, it’s every man for himself.
Had a disaster recently? One of them nice folks from the SBA or FEMA drop by? Give you a little money, did they? You’re employed by the SBA? Come on?! Have a little capitalistic pride. Turn the damn money in, and get a real job, man!
Just retired from running your own business all your life? Going to take your Socialist Security check and move into the government subsidized rent controlled apartment complex?
You know, before ya’ll start screaming “Socialist”, you had best scope out that signature on your own paycheck. It may be that you used to hate them, but now you is them. But please don’t blame me. I went to a for-pay private school to learn all of this, unlike most of you public school commies. And we weren’t chartered, either. You like Charter schools? Slimmed again.
Do we have to count the fact that my mother paid for my private education with her public Socialist Widow’s Pension?...Naa.
Hey, I think I have a new word. If not a pure-capitalist. I'm a rationalized-capitalist. (I certainly wouldn’t want to be an impure-capitalist.) A rationalized Capitalist - that’s kind of like a liberated-housewife, or a Baptist freethinker or a Southern Democrat.
PS: If you are employed by the Federal Reserve you should be intelligent enough to know that you are a Socialist. In fact, if you work in a bank – any bank – you are a Socialist. You are working for a Socialist organization. It is a perverse Socialist organization, I must admit, since only its failures are Socialized – the Savings and Loan fiasco followed by the Commercial banking failure. As long as banks are profitable they keep their profits. It is only when they go under that Socialism takes over. The Banking industry was bailed out by the American Taxpayer in the largest bank Collapse in World history. And they received this kindness with no payback required – no workfare for the wealthy bankers. It’s below their dignity, I suppose.
If you work for an insurance company – large insurance company – you have pretty much the same deal. When the profits are high the Insurance Company keeps them but when they become marginal the State or the Federal Government takes over – that’s us, the taxpayers.
Interesting to note; statistically the great majority of us do not get seriously ill until we reach 65. It is at this age that everybody is turned over to the Government Medicare System. Which means, that when the odds are good and the profits high the “Capitalist” Insurance Companies keep the profits, but when the pay-outs start, us Socialists take over? What a deal! Once again – no paybacks are required. We Socialist pick up the bill for the Insurance companies for free.
Railroads and Airplanes are also federally subsidized, along with farmers, tobacco growers and any large corporation that is deemed as “too big to fail”. We may inherit the entire pension plans of all of America’s past Corporate Giants – Ford, General Motors – whoever decides that they aren’t going to pay in the future.
It is interesting to note that Socialism has always been used to bail out Capitalist failures – the biggest contrived disaster in 1929 - But these Socialist activities are only ridiculed when they go to the poor or the workers, or the population at large. As long as these Socialists practices go to the wealthy, the Corporate Giants – even to the World Bank and the IMF, we hear not a peep from Congress or anybody else for that matter. By the way, when any bank in the WORLD has a problem – you’re going to bail it out, whether you want to or not.
Isn’t it time that us Socialists smartened up? If we are going to bail everybody out, back everybody up, take over their obligations and promises, subsidize, and finance the whole world – even our enemies - why don’t we, the general public, get a piece of the action WHERE’S THE MONEY! Where’s our money.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Generic Journalism

Monopolization and a Free Press

By Richard E. Noble

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed to those who own one.” A. J. Liebling (American Journalist)

Adam Smith, the modern day father of Economics, wrote a book in 1776 entitled The Wealth of Nations. In that famous book he spoke out against monopolization. In his time monopolies were chartered by the King. The British East India Tea Company was one such enterprise. It became so big that at one point it had its own army and was literally a nation unto itself.
Mr. Smith advocated free enterprise and entrepreneurship. He suggested that the economic world was guided by an invisible hand which promoted order and prosperity. He felt that the King and his government had no place in this economic world and that business would better meet the needs of the populous if it were left alone, Laissez fare.
The King’s continuous interference in business and trade was one of the main causes contributing to the American Revolution. “Give me liberty or give me death”, may have been the cry of the man in the street, but - let me sell my goods without interference from King George and his monopolistic government was the whispered breath of every colonial mercantilist and businessman - not to mention pirates like John Paul Jones, and smugglers like John Hancock.
There were many other famous anti-monopolists but the most famous and most controversial was a man named Karl Marx. In 1840 he published what he called, The Communist Manifesto. People have been fighting and dying over this little piece of literature ever since. He later published a book that is at least as famous as The Wealth of Nations. It was entitled, Das Capital. It was a barn burner in which Karl predicted the fall of Capitalism via the monopolization of industry.
Not too long after Karl, there was another anti-monopolist by the name of Henry George. Henry is not so famous today but he was quite a celebrity in his day. He ran against Teddy Roosevelt and Abram S. Hewitt in 1886 for the Governorship of New York, and he wrote a best seller. His Progress and Poverty, which was first self-published, became the intellectual rage of the day. In this book he championed what he considered to be the perfect economic system and the cure for poverty - forever. His notion was called the Single Tax Theory.
Just how this theory worked was exemplified in a game which was thought up by a housewife and teacher who became a Henry George disciple. The game that she invented was called Monopoly.
Originally this game had two sets of instructions. One exemplified the perils of monopolization, the other set of rules exemplified the Single Tax cure for the plague of monopolization. The rules exemplifying the cure have since been discarded and the game is played today by the rules which exemplify the failure of monopolization and the suggested reason for universal poverty.
The world did not heed the advice of the “wise men” and the game inventors, and by the Wilson administration an investigation by the Pujo Committee established that the vast majority of the capital and wealth of this nation, and very possibly the world, was in the hands or control of, less than a dozen men - J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller Jr., Andrew Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Gould, Astor to name but a few. And in 1929 there came about what many around the world concluded to be the failure of Capitalism and the international monopolistic system.
Since the days of the Great Depression there have been many who have been warning about the returning roll of monopolization and the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a few - economists like Thorstein Veblen and his Theory of the Leisure Class; more recently, John Kenneth Galbreith, and his The Affluent Society, and The New Industrial State and many, many others. But in the face of all criticism the monopolists continue to grow and prosper. They have broken the boundaries of individual nations and have gone international. We call them oligopolies, multi-nationals and conglomerates. They are not hiding; they are listed on everyone’s list of winning investment strategies. Today even companies thought to symbolize America, itself, have few ties to the American nation or its people. Companies like Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, GM, General Electric, McDonalds, Dupont, Dow Chemical, and even Ford Motor Company are all international business giants - many of them getting the majority of their income from their foreign investments.
There are those that think that this is all harmless. They argue that corporations have no dogmas, no ideologies, no prejudices, no theologies, no flags, no politics. They have only one line and that line is the Bottom Line.
This all may be true; the future does not have to re-create the past. But when large organizations buy out even small town operations, one does begin to wonder what will happen to the Jimmy Stewart - red, white, and blue - small-town journalistic entrepreneur? What possible Bottom Line profits can be added to the coffers of conglomerates who purchase these small-town loosing operations in “Nowhere” America? If it is not money then what is left besides dogma and ideology - dare I say propaganda, heaven forbid? So whose afraid of Rupert Murdock or Time/Warner or Knight Ridder or Florida Freedom? Not John Milton or Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Paine or Jimmy Stewart - but those guys are all dead and Ted Turner is off somewhere raising buffalo.
What’s so bad about generic journalism - generic seems to be working all right in the grocery store and the pharmacy?
With our wars we like to cry; “Remember the Alamo”, or “Remember the Maine”. Maybe in our economics we need some crying too. How about: Remember the British and Dutch East India Tea Companies; or - Remember the A&P; or - Remember the Robber Barons; or Remember Teddy Roosevelt and his Trust Busters; or Remember Woodrow Wilson and the campaign of 1912, or how about - Monopolization without National Representation is Tyranny; not to mention Poverty.
Like the British East India Tea Company, the international business community is a nation unto itself. It will do what it is going to do and no one is going to stop it. Will it be a Wealth of Nations, or a cynical Das Capital?
But if free enterprise is behind all of this, that has got to be good ... right? We will have International economics - free from government intervention, free from Communism and Socialism, free from labor unions and pork-barrel national self-interest - a free world economic system where the pure theology of supply and demand and market interests will rule; where the only line will be the Bottom Line. This is going to be the greatest thing since the cotton gin, steam heat, or sliced bread.
Isn’t it?
I don’t know, individual nations can and have been held responsible by their people; corporations just seem to disappear into the small print and legal mumbo-jumbo. Who in the world is going to temper the might of the conglomerate?
They weren’t afraid or concerned about the monopolization of the news media in Italy when Mussolini did it; nor were they worried in Germany when Hitler did it. The Russians weren’t overly upset when Stalin went about the process, or Mao in China. But this is different; this is Free Enterprise who’s doing it today. There is no terrible government, national or global, to interfere. There can be no trust busters like Teddy Roosevelt or Harry Truman in a world economy. Who looks out for the people in a global economy? No fear of demagoguery or ochlocracy here. This could even be bigger than Big Brother of George Orwell fame.
Can a monopolized world be a free world? Can a monopolized press be a free press? This is truly going to take an invisible hand - the hand of God maybe.

“The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that (opinion) right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the later. But I should mean that everyman should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” Thomas Jefferson.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Hobo Philosopher

Private Property

My zone, your zone, our zone and the ozone.

by Richard E. Noble

We hold sacred the Right to Private Property here in the United States. But this Right has not been without controversy. This notion once included the right to buy and sell other human beings and their children. It was also used by industrialist and Robber Barons alike to shoot their disgruntled workers and to deny them the right to organize and to bargain collectively for better working conditions and higher wages.
At one point in our history it applied to women and children. A man once owned his wife and children.
This Right to Private Property has also conflicted with the State and the Federal Government - Public Domain, Eminent Domain, National and State parks, National and State forests - roads, highways, interstate, damns, reservoirs etc.
On the international level, Private Ownership has been the divisive issue of the last two centuries. We define our current political systems by it:
Capitalism = Democracy + Private ownership
Socialism = Democracy + Public Ownership
Fascism = Dictatorship + Private Ownership
Communism = Dictatorship + Public Ownership
Conflicts with regards to public and private ownership are all around us today because of zoning laws and building codes and, of course, taxes. I’ve often wondered at what dollar amount a property tax turns into a rent. And considering the above definitions, when and if a property tax becomes so large that it is considered a rent; does Capitalism then evolve into Socialism? But even more interesting than that is the question of the basis and foundation of Private Property.
Private Property is based on a principle that, I think, no American would accept as fair, just, or even reasonable today.
Property has always been gained, from the beginnings of mankind’s times, through power, force and military might. The borders of countries have, for the most part, always been determined by conquests, invasions and war. Kings and power lords conquered and doled out property to their favorites. If there were people living on the property, they went with it. If you owned the property, you owned the people who lived on it also.
In the establishment of the American Colonies, we had what were called Patroons. The Patroons owned vast estates that were given to them by charters or grants or purchased from the Crown or others or that they finagled by deceit or fraud. It wasn’t until 1839 in New York that this manorial system was seriously challenged by the tenants who lived on and farmed the land. The land barons were forced by the revolt of the people and the New York Legislature in 1846 to sell off their estates in small farms to the people who lived and worked them. Of course, they sold off these vast estates at exorbitant prices, but nevertheless the tradition of small, individual, property ownership was enhanced.
Then the big money moved to the city. It was here that men like John Jacob Astor and industrialists like William “Billy” Wood and Andrew Carnegie, Pullman and bankers, like J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller Jr., turned the development of cities into their personal gold mines. Tenement housing, an apparent monetary triviality, turned into multi-million and billion dollar opportunities for their investment capital. While Astor, and those of his unscrupulous agents and middlemen, got richer and richer, they turned the tenement factory worker communities into death traps for the poor and hard working. Diseases like typhoid fever, tuberculosis, cholera and others spread rapidly throughout the tenement communities. But the millions of dollars rolled in over the bodies of the poor until once again, as the rural tenant farmers had exploded in 1839; rebellion rankled in the streets and the tenement neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia and Boston. The disgruntled and downtrodden, brought to the end of their faith in tolerance and acceptance, were finally motivated to risk their lives in the streets and back alleys. Somehow their protests were finally able to rouse the politicians, and laws began to evolve to protect the health and well being of the families living in these pits of American industrial revolutional squalor.
Astor and his super-wealthy friends then decided that it was time to give or dump the tenements onto the masses. The investment brokers would liquefy their assets. They sold their uncared for, unhealthy, vermin and rat invested, tenement disease incubators, before laws could be promoted requiring the landlords to spend some of their acquired millions to clean them up. It was a good business move. But once again, through a dark backdoor, the cause of individual ownership and private property was extended.
The prices of the tenements were high and exploitative, but somehow many hard working laboring families were able to become property owners - participants in the prized evolution of the propertied class.
Adolf Hitler dealt with the historical right to national territory and property rights - by way of Power and Might - extensively in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.
Adolf could not accept that a great nation, like his own, could be, cramped in such a tiny space in central Europe, while a much inferior nation like Russia had such a vast expanse of land to the west. He used the history of mankind to make his claim that the borders of any country are determined by the will of their peoples. Those with the will and the power, take; and those without the will and power are destroyed. To Adolf this was the fundamental principle of Civilization and an undeniable law of Nature - the survival of the fittest.
Russia and a good many other nations of the world disagreed. A catchy phrase of the period was - Might does not make Right. As far as I know, nobody wrote a book explaining why Might did not make Right but many people felt that the notion had merit - even if they didn’t know why. Adolf went ahead and tried to prove his point, but failed. At least he failed to prove that his people and his nation had the will and the power to establish their Might as Right. Whether or not Might actually does make Right still remains questionable, but, by no means, absolutely without foundation.
During a period called the Enlightenment, the world seemed to go through a sort of introspection and soul searching. Philosophers, social thinkers, economists, political reformers and the like all began to question the right of Private Property along with a good many other long established notions. William Godwin wrote a book, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice in 1793, and in the Colonies a controversial pamphleteer, Thomas Paine, wrote a piece that he entitled Agrarian Justice. Godwin questioned the whole idea of Private Property and Paine, accepting that Private Property was a basic injustice, went on to devise an accommodation for property-less individuals.
An economist, Richard Ricardo, challenged property owners and the negative influence of their rents on the economy and wrote a book, Principles of Political Economy, challenging their moral and economic right to do so. He threw his support behind the new moneyed industrialist, entrepreneur and business community - he was a stockbroker by trade - and against the old, established class of property owner. He fought against the protective Corn Laws that were making land owners wealthy, claiming that these laws only served to increase wages, raise prices and create what is now called inflation. Ricardo, unintentionally, plants the first seeds of the class warfare which followed in later generations.
John S. Mill in his Political Economy - accepting Paine’s notion of the injustice of the un-propertied - tried to devise another solution. Paine had suggested that a tax should be placed on the propertied and that at the age of maturity every man without property would receive a cash inheritance as compensation. Mill suggested that the state would buy back from individuals all property and from then on, property would be rented or leased by the State. Henry George later expanded this idea into his Single Tax notion - but with no buy-back from the present property holders.
Then came Karl Marx and Frederick Engels who espoused an evolutionary theory of property that brought things back to Godwin. Their original idea was that private property would simply dissolve into an egalitarian utopia due to the inevitable collapse of Capitalism which would be prompted by the evolutionary destruction of monopolization. Lenin and others believed that this utopia was truly evolutional and inevitable, but evolution was just too slow. Lenin, and those who believed similarly, decided that the historical evolution of a classless, egalitarian economy needed the prodding of a benevolent dictator. True believing followers, like Joseph Stalin felt that benevolence was over-rated.
We no longer discuss the rights of the un-propertied or the moral justice of inheriting property, or people having too much property. We seem to have come to the notion that as long as a majority of individuals have the opportunity to work, save money, and buy their own piece of the planet - this is fair and just enough. The negative historical roots have all been put to the side, as beyond reclamation and practical justification.
Nevertheless, in recent years a return to introspection and moral and Agrarian Justice and soul searching has been revived. The exploitation and pollution of property and the planet has been suggested as morally unjust. There is now an argument between the property owner and the long term interests of random mankind.
Teddy Roosevelt had his preservation and set-aside notions which have given us our National Parks, forests and monuments. Today, we are now considering morally, environmentally and economically the use of an individual’s or developer’s property in relation to his neighbors - his community, his state, his country, the world - to future generations. It is the tree huggers against the libertarians.
Some go so far as to call this a revolution. The Green Revolution it is called. Peace and goodwill to man via clean water, clean air and socially correct balanced growth. The libertarians say these tree lovers are fanatics who care more about woodpeckers and brown-speckled, sap-sucking, bank climbing beetles than they do people. These people (tree huggers) hold Walt Disney as a god and fantasyland and Disney World in Orlando as a real possibility for the future of mankind and community development – these Libertarians say. And sometimes it is difficult to see if these Green revolutionaries are trying to make the world safer for people or fire ants.
On the other hand, if the libertarian has his way there may not be any more fire ants or people. We could revert back to cesspools of congested living, and rivers, lakes and oceans filled with green dyes, mercury, toxic chemicals and non-edible, deformed, dying and disappearing sea creatures - not to mention, people (including Americans).

The “History of the Great American Fortunes” by Gustavus Myers was used in this essay – a very interesting Radical analysis of this accepted American Right.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Does it really Work?

Or Is It Socialism in Disguise

By Richard E. Noble

I am, and always have been a born and breed Capitalist who has done his best to pursue the American Capitalist dream of financial independence and hopeful luxury.
I believe in my rights as an Individual; I believe in democracy and in the Bill of Rights; I believe in my right to own property, to start my own business, to have money in the bank and to get rich - if at all possible. BUT, I don’t believe that people anywhere should starve to death or that anybody anywhere should work for nothing. And I especially don’t believe that the above such things should happen to other people because of my aspirations to become a wealthy Capitalist. I want everybody to live a comfortable life in a just man-made rational Civilization.
I don’t trust government - any government. But I have a dilemma - I don’t trust businessmen either. I have been in business. I consider myself a business-mined type person. And to be totally honest with you, I don’t trust business any more than I do government.
I have never worked for a boss who I like or admire. And the really sad part about that last sentence is that I have been self-employed for the greater part of my working career. When my wife was in my employ she went on strike several times and quite on multiple occasions. She orchestrated both walk-out and sit-down type strikes. She never resorted to picketing but I did think of locking her out several times. We finally negotiated a verbal contract that we both could agree to and live with. I was not entirely happy with the final agreement but neither was she - and, of course, this is what makes for a truly happy marriage. I only wish that I had been smart enough to negotiate such a contract when we first got married. But as you all know, love is not having to negotiate a contract. So where does that leave me? In my opinion that makes me a typical American. I think that is what being an American is all about - not trusting anybody.
I have been studying and reading about Capitalism ever since I can remember. But before we get into that, let’s say what I think Capitalism to be.
Capitalism is where the means of production along with the natural assets of a nation are owned by people - individuals. Corporations? Stock holders?
Capitalism had its birth in the Industrial Revolution - as I understand it. Before the Industrial Revolution there was no such thing as a “Capitalist.” There were rich people and Kings etc., but no Capitalists.
Capitalism, via industrialization made possible by individual invention and personal investment changed the economic world. It changed the whole structure of things. But has it been successful - did Capitalism work?
I don’t think so; and I’ll tell you why. It might take me a few pages here but bear with me.
Let’s start out with one of the first major Industrial enterprises - the textile industry.
The textile industry started here in the U.S. in the northeast in the early part of the 18th century.
It began rather surreptitiously with some of our enterprising citizens going over to England and stealing what they could of British ingenuity. But it was for a good cause - they wanted to get rich. Actually their intentions were more noble than that. They wanted to get rich and they wanted to screw the British. All in all though they were well intentioned, most of the early pioneers in the U.S. textile industry were good, conscientious Christian types. They wanted to make the world a better place. I think one of the very first entrepreneurs was a wealthy Quaker and he offered to give the entire mill to the British citizen who knew the industry well enough and would stab his homeland in the back and come over here and set up what he had learned over there. This was against the British Law at the time and any man who did so was considered a traitor. Getting rich was not against British law; they just wanted people to get rich in England only. The penalty was death. But one man did the dirty deed nonetheless. He is in our history books but I don’t think he got even honorable mention in the British history books.
In Lowell Massachusetts the first textile mill employed mostly woman and it was designed to be spiritually beneficial and uplifting to all the poor farm girls who came to work there. And for awhile they say that it was. But then as the Capitalistic system dictates, one free enterprise led to another free enterprise and pretty soon we had not only women working at the mills but children also. Pretty soon the local farm girls had enough and the mill owners began to import immigrant laborers from overseas. And as the foreign laborers flowed in, the wages got lower and lower; the working conditions got worse and worse; the housing became deplorable and all these people began dying - the workers that is; the owners and investors became extremely wealthy. A few foremen and some higher-ups got some pretty good wages also. But all in all things got so bad that social upheaval erupted. Police and militia had to be called in and lots of folks were machine-gunned, murdered and killed. Overall from the Society’s point of view, I would say the textile industry was not working.
Now the few people who owned the textile mills disagreed. They had arguments very similar to the tobacco industry of today. They denied that working in a textile mills was hazardous to anybody health - even though most textile workers were dying before the age of thirty; even though children who started working in the mills at nine or ten were dead before they were twenty or twenty-five.
The bi-products of the textile mills was air pollution, water pollution; housing shortages, overcrowding; poverty; disease; and overproduction. But on the other hand, a man of modest means could buy a pretty neat suit of clothes at Brooks Bros. for a reasonable price and the ladies could buy some nice calico prints cheaper than ever before.
In any case for better or worse the textile mills spread all over the northeast and then the Midwest. When they had finally worn out their welcome in those areas they left. They didn’t pack up and leave - they just left. They left all the pollution, all the garbage, all the disease, all the destitution and poverty, all the dead bodies; all the dying people - they even left miles and miles of old redbrick buildings. They took most of the machinery but they left the rest for the taxpayers or the society or the community or whoever it is that is left when these people go. They took the profits and their fortunes - and they left. And now they were “Capitalists.”
At first they just went a little further south - but they did the same thing there. And after awhile most of them left the South and went even south-ER. They went to South America.
In South America they conducted their business exactly the same as they had done in North America.
Today they are all over the world - in Asia and in China - everywhere. And the same thing that happened in North America in the 1800 is happening over there.
But on the other hand we can all buy T-shirts and underwear at a very reasonable price.
The question is as Dr. Phil would say - Is this working for you?
Well, it is working very, very well for a few; it is working very well for some others; and it is working well for a good many others; but then it is working poorly for several millions of others and it doesn’t look like it is ever going to change or be any different. Is this a “good thing”?
In the United States of America I would say that the Textile Industry was a failure. It didn’t work. For one thing, it is gone; and it left a mess. The individuals and stock holders of that industry took the profits and the taxpayers and the citizens of the United States paid the costs. It was Capitalism for the owners of the textile industry but it was Socialism for America. We the people socialized the cost, while they, the Robber Barons, Industrialists, and super wealthy Capitalized the profits
Now let’s look at another Industry - the mining industry.
I don’t know if mining in America began with the 49ers but it seems like a good place to start. Nothing could have been more egalitarian than a mule and a bearded Gabby Hayes type prospector setting off to find his treasure. This led to a lot of “regular” guys becoming very wealthy. It also led to a lot of regular guys getting killed, beaten, robbed and whatever - but that has always been the romantic part of the American Spirit of freedom and independence - so what the hell.
But somewhere along the line mechanization, invention, organization and the Capitalist and Industrialist - and bankers - got into it. It wasn’t long before Gabby Hayes and his mule were a part of the nostalgic past and punch clocks, foremen and business mangers had taken over the pits and holes of the wild, Wild West and elsewhere.
It wasn’t long before everything that I just attributed to the textile industry was now part and parcel of the mining industry - only worse.
The miners were of the independent, rugged type and they didn’t just wander off someplace and die peacefully - they fought back. Colorado was a war zone. Utah and Idaho weren’t much calmer. The mine managers had the militias and the federal troops along with the governments and the legal system - but the miners had courage, blood and guts.
The mine owners couldn’t just move their operations south or to another country - so they fought it out. They killed, framed, murdered, lynched, castrated, slaughtered and starved a good many troublesome miners to an early grave. They bribed, cheated, finagled and infiltrated the Governments - local, state and federal. And eventually they got what they wanted.
They got the land from the government basically for free; they got the gold, silver, copper, coal, and whatever out of the ground at the cheapest possible labor cost; they had no obligations to the land, the environment, the streams, the rivers, the mountains, the hillsides, the country or to the people of the United States.
But even so, eventually most of them left the United States and brought their same tactics to foreign lands where the people were less sophisticated and could be duped more readily. Today these industries are busy doing the very same things in Bolivia and China that were so successful for them here in the U.S.
Strangely enough the people who did these horrible things here in the United States are dead and buried and many of the folks who are carrying out the dastardly deeds of these ancient entrepreneurs are not even descendants. They are a new breed of like minded modern day folks - often homegrown in their own nations. The descendants of many of the murders and killers who had loyal everyday patriots machinegun everyday people right here in America - are now involved in philanthropic trusts, building libraries and funding institutions of higher learning - and some are even running for the Senate and the presidency of the United States of America. And so it goes.
But philosophizing aside, the bottom line is once again, the people of America were left with the pollution and the holes in the ground, the bad memories and the dead bodies, and the managers, investors and Capitalists got the profits. The American Businessmen “capitalized” while the American People Socialized.
From an “individualist” point of view I suppose one could say that this “capitalization” or privatization of natural resources worked. Some individuals did become very, very wealthy. But from a national or democratic perspective; form a societal or national perspective, I wouldn’t say that “we the people” did all that well. I would have to say that mining as well as the textile industry was a failure. They provide few in America with a living today and we the people are still paying for the cleanup or worse yet living with the pollution and ill health effects that these industries left as our “legacy.”
Strangely enough we all - 300 million of us still wear socks and underwear and we still can buy copper tubing at the hardware store - it is just that fewer Americans make any money from the deal. If you use the patriot’s war analogy we could say that all those working people who fought, were starved and died for your right (and my right) to earn a better living here in the U.S.A. - gave their lives in vain.
Let’s quickly review another industry - banking. Banking is a business and it could be considered one of Capitalism’s prime movers.
Banking started off very primitive. In the beginning banks were just that - they were banks. They were vaults and safes situated in secure buildings where people paid a rent for the privilege of having their gold or silver watched over under armed guard. There was no trouble with a bank being a bank; it was when banks got into “banking” that the industry began to stagger.
The problem came with the notion that a banker could have his cake and eat it too. It was not with the idea of being a “savings” institution that brought on the problems. It was when the banks became “savings and loan” institutions.
Even good old Jimmy Stewart was hard to believe when he tried to explain to people in the movies that their money was there in the bank when it really wasn’t.
It wasn’t disgruntled employees that wrought havoc by picketing and striking the banks - it was the bank’s customers. They called this type of uprising a “bank run.” People ran down to the bank and said; “I want my money.” This wasn’t all that problematic until lots of customers started showing up at a particular bank at the same time. Very quickly the bank in question was forced to refuse the depositors their money and lock their doors. They could not return to the depositors the money that they had loaned out to their clients because they didn’t have it any longer! People just didn’t understand this.
The first solution that banks devised to deal with this problem was to form co-operatives - a number of banks joined together. They pooled their reserves and when one of their member banks had a “bank run” they rushed cash over to their aid.
But if a run persisted and spread into a “panic” - the party was over and once again everybody had to “lock out” their depositors.
Banking co-operatives got bigger and bigger but so did the runs and panics. Finally during the Wilson administration the bankers got the government involved. Mr. Wilson was a college professor but he admitted that he was no banker - but nevertheless the American people ended up with what was called a Federal Reserve System.
Suffice it to say, it was not only President Wilson who didn’t understand the Federal Reserve System because in 1929 the whole thing came tumbling down - Federal Reserve System and all. The banking industry collapsed - it failed. The financial heart of the Capitalistic system flopped. Once again the Capitalist idea had failed.
The catastrophe was finally solved by adding to the Federal Reserve System the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This informed the customers who deposited their money in a bank covered under this program that even if your bank doesn’t have your money when you want it - we will give it to you. “We” being the Government ... you and I ... the taxpayer. In more political terms, the banks were socialized.
And even today we had two of the biggest socialistic bailouts in our history - the Savings and Loan disaster followed by the Commercial Bank disaster. We even bailed out Mexico and Japan and if we don’t continue to bail out the banking systems around the world, the whole system could have a total collapse. Every banking system in the world including China and Russia, are tied into the “Dollar.” Now I’m not complaining about this Socialism, I would just like to know what “we the people” are getting out of all of this. It looks to me like we are getting lower wages, fewer jobs, higher taxes, inflation of our everyday costs, more poverty, more homeless and Wal-Mart - and Wal-Mart is the best part.
So once again we have an industry that keeps the profits when things are going well and “we the people” absorb the loses when things go wrong. In fact, they charge us (the people of the U.S.) for the privilege of borrowing our own money from them. It is a real good business. Many very, very smart people love the banking business.
I personally don’t mind that we keep this industry solvent and secure but shouldn’t “we the people” get a kick back here, there or somewhere - as opposed to paying a service charge?
Next let’s take a gander at the railroad industry.
In most of our history surveys we will read briefly about how the railroads opened up the West; how the railroads built towns and communities; how the railroads built factories and technology and on and on and on. But the deeper one delves into the history evolution and eventual demise of American railroads - the bigger the horror story grows.
Some historians are truly optimists - they almost always see the glass as full to the brim. I can imagine the historian of a thousand years in the future writing about the Nazi Holocaust and pointing out its advantages to curbing the over expanding population growth and all the new discoveries that were unleashed in the gas and pesticide industries - not to mention, oven technology.
But let’s try to call a spade a spade here - railroads must go down as one of the most corrupt endeavors in American History. The land grab alone by the railroad barons was off the charts. These guys were given enough land around their proposed railroad tracks to start whole countries. Almost all history books will mention this fact.
In relation to their workers they are right there with the textile and mining industries. Workers were killed and maimed on a daily basis by the hundreds. They were used as long as they were strong and healthy and then discarded - to be picked up by charity and the good will of their fellow workers.
The railroads competed themselves right into the ground. They had more dirty bond issues, stock market crooked deals, inflated shares and unscrupulous financial chicanery and political corruption than one could list. On top of everything else they were totally subsidized by the government and for the most part, they still are today. Without further ado or elaboration I think it could be objectively stated that the railroad industry was another capitalist failure. It was more than a failure it was a disaster. Just start reading about it and find out for yourself - don’t take my word for it. It is all over the pages of your own history books. Even the laying of the railroad tracks was an abortion for the workers involved and the taxpayers. When you read historians that can fluff over all these things you realize how brainwashed we all are.
If it weren’t for the government (socialism) from the beginning to the present day - the railroads would never have come about. And what did “we the people” get out of it? We got miles and miles of dilapidated track stretched across this country; we got old abandoned depots; we got below sustenance wages; we got thousands of dead and injured workers, woman and children; and a modest amount of multimillionaires - most of them the exact same folks who prospered from the banking, textiles, and mining.
Once again while the Capitalists capitalized the profits, the American people socialized the costs. We paid for their losses, we paid bonuses for their inadequate tracks; we paid for their cutthroat competition. We paid to get them started and we paid for the clean up when they were done. My God! The American dream!
Where do you want to go next? How about steel? how about oil? how about insurance? how about pharmaceuticals? how about health care? what about automobiles?
Steel and automobiles and oil have been traditional failures in the classical manner that I have just described above. Insurance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals are failures in the making. They are failing right now and my guess is that they will be bailed out in the same old, well-fare (welloff-fare), socialistic manner - “we the people” and the population at large will pay through taxation and inflation while these industries will skim off the profits and leave the losses and the social consequences to us.
At this moment I really don’t see any alternative to socialism. Socialism is what is. It really cannot be denied. It is the a priori fact of the matter. But we should do it all the way not just in the well-fare tradition; “we the people” should also share in the profits as well as the costs and the losses. I would be in favor of a better idea than socialism - but I haven’t read about any such thing nor have I been able to think up an improvement. Communism is not good and as we have seen around the world, it is not working. I have read many books offering various alternatives. But when you study these alternatives they are invariably socialist in nature. The so called capitalist alternative invariably amounts to a good life for the few at the expense of the many - here and around the world. It is like Socialism is the Capitalists security blanket or “idea bank” of last resort. It seems that what we here in America call Capitalism is really a bad joke – and the joke is on us.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Hobo Philosopher

On Economics - Private sector jobs vs Public sector jobs

Obama and the Federal Reserve

President Obama has both the Right and the Left in a state of confusion over his economic solutions. Who is correct, the Right, the Left, or president Obama?
The extreme Right basically is advocating what they have always advocated – inaction. Their historical answer in times of economic stress has always been Prayer, Poverty and Providence. Let the banks fail, let Detroit fail, let people lose their homes, let unemployment soar, let charities and soup kitchens take care of the poor and unemployed, let God’s invisible hand inspire and guide the system – Laissez-faire. Despite the general acceptance on the Right that this is a credible answer, history says otherwise and morality and ethics will challenge any movement in that direction.
This conservative notion is a good idea if the goal is to vanquish government and foment a revolution. As the critics of this policy state, “The less we do the worse we will all fair.”
Both the Left and the Right bring up the 1929 Great Depression and the role of the Federal Reserve. Both sides somehow credit the Federal Reserve with wrong doing.
The Right claims that it was the Federal Reserve that caused the 1929 Depression. This is false.
We can argue until the cows come home about what caused the 1929 Depression but the basic arguments are not so complicated.
Some claim that excessive negative competition and overproduction in the marketplace, lead to a negative spiral and thus to the downfall of the general economy. This amounts to a general lack of any controls or regulation on business, labor and production and substantiates the inadequacy of the Lessez-faire policy.
Others claim that the super wealthy fearing a worker revolution pulled their money from industry and investment in an attempt to stifle worker organization and cooperation. This was due to a fear of the spread of the communist and socialist philosophy on the part of the wealthy capitalists. This also negates the Lessez-Faire notion.
Another answer is that this is just the way the capitalist economic system works or that the whole thing was just an accident and couldn’t be helped. This is consistent with the Lessez-faire notion but not consistent with reason, logic history or common sense.
The stock market collapse, most agree, was due to over speculation. A speculative bubble was created. Many contend that this was done by accident in 1929. But other more radical voices of that era claim that the market crashed due to greed and chicanery on the part of the “best, brightest and wealthiest.” When the bubble burst and the smart money pulled out and ran, everything collapsed.
In evaluating today’s stock market crash the radical Right is once again claiming “accident” or at least mass complicity. Others contend that just as in 1929 it was the greed and selfishness of the best, brightest and wealthiest.
The Right goes on to claim that the government is spending too much. This has also been proved wrong by the historical facts and even by their own past evaluations of history.
Both the Right and the Left blame the Federal Reserve in the 1929 fiasco, but what did the Federal Reserve do to warrant this criticism?
Basically it didn’t do anything. It did what the Right is recommending today. Today’s Right blames the Fed for their inaction in 1929 but yet recommends that they do the same today.
Today’s Left agrees that the Fed didn’t do enough in 1929 and that is what they fear is going to happen again today.
The Right says that all of FDR’s social recovery spending was unsuccessful and that it was World War II that cured the Depression.
Well, what happened in World War II that was so influential in curing the Depression?
It was massive government spending for the war effort that made the difference - spending of up to 120 percent of the GDP. So then if there were no World War II what should have been done in 1929?
Obviously FDR should have increased Government social spending instead of cutting spending as was demanded by the Right in 1938 and as is being demanded by the Right in 2009.
After the war Truman, fearing an inevitable post war economic collapse, initiated a continuation of massive war time spending, as preparation for the impending and inevitable war with Russia (cold war) and massive government spending on the Marshall Plan (redistribution of American wealth).
The Korean Conflict then justified more military spending and it has gone on and on – but it is all “government spending.” It could have been medical and health care spending, education spending, infrastructure spending, disease research spending or aid to the impoverished spending.
What is Obama doing? He is recommending massive government spending. This is what was done by FDR in financing World War II. This is what both, the Right and the Left, Galbraith and Milton Friedman, economists past and present and the bulk of historians have analyzed as what should have been done and what was eventually done in the depression years (spending on the war). Only the extreme, radical Right claim that a massive depression is better than government intervention. No Republicans have yet to recommend World War III as a possible solution – but we’ll have to wait and see.
Today many of our Republicans are pushing for depression and a federal government collapse. They are offering the do nothing Rightwing radical response. They would rather have no government than what they term as a socialist government.
By Rightwing standards it is “socialist” if the government money goes to the American people or for social spending but if the government money goes to subsidize or support corporations, big business, banks or war and the pentagon it is “capitalism.” The only big businesses they don’t want to support are those that have labor unions. Money spent to help labor is the equivalent of “social spending” and is therefore socialistic.
They are basically anarchists. But rather than have rule by the aggregate masses, they advocate rule by the aggregate capitalists. In the past it was demanded by rightwing conservatives that anarchists be deported or put in prison.
The less than radical Right wants the government to spend but they want it to spend less and via convoluted methods like tax cuts for the wealthy or even for the middle class, and investments overseas. These policies are what brought us to this present sad state of affairs.
Spending less is not the answer. The answer is creating jobs and employment. Hitler brought Germany out of the Great Depression with no advanced knowledge of economics or the stock market. He simply believed in putting people back to work – 100% employment. He was successful. Once World War II arrived, the U.S. then achieved 100% employment via massive government war spending and our depression ended also.
The answer is spending and creating jobs – any kind of jobs. As far as government jobs versus private sector jobs, it doesn’t matter. One collects taxes off the backs of the masses and the other collects profits off the back of the masses. This is a political argument not an economic argument. It is a political preference as to who saps up the excess. From the “what stimulates the economy” point of view, it is inconsequential. It doesn’t matter - either public sector or private sector jobs will do the trick. The bulk of jobs that saved us from the Great Depression via World War II were public sector jobs – soldiers and military production, procurement, research and development. All the money was coming from the government. Some of it was filtered through private enterprise, but for the most part it was federal taxpayer’s money. And both sectors were loaded with graft, theft, and corruption but not the majority. This is always the case, but it too is inconsequential. The country as a whole would be better off without this human corruptive reality and a more positive and prosperous society would result but it isn’t necessary.
The Right wants anarchism and the Left wants Socialism. Obama is advocating a middle of the road path.
The Left wants a more powerful Federal Reserve. Some want the Federal Reserve to move into hedge funds, insurance companies and credit cards as well as banking. Obama policy is doing this but via a cooperation of responsibility of government and government agencies. Obama is enabling the Federal Reserve but holding back the power for the government and the law makers. This is safer and smarter and much more in tune with American tradition and popular opinion.
The Left wants a take over of banking and financial institutions. Obama is asking for cooperation and voluntary compliance along with new stricter rules and regulations. This is the safe road once again. If it doesn’t work the harsh road of complete takeover is still available.
The left and much of the public want to see some arrests. The administration’s answer to this has been that they must put out the fire before they can go after the arsons. This sounds reasonable unless the arsons continue to light more fires.
Again Obama is taking the middle of the road approach. If this whole problem on the part of banking and finance was just a matter of lax rules or sanctioned misbehavior then it can be corrected by new rules and sanctioned good behavior. If this has been a criminal conspiracy then the fire will continue and some heads will have to roll – jail and no bail for the bad guys and total government control, at least for a limited time.
If Obama goes to the Left he will totally alienate the Right and possibly some of the middle. If he goes to the Right, he will undermine his base and possibly lose the majority. If he continues down the middle, progress may be slower but he will maintain the majority, keep both sides hopeful, though dubious, give the guilty a chance to redeem themselves, and possibly turn the ship in an acceptable direction. All Obama has to do is show a change in direction to be considered successful. He doesn’t have to cure or revamp the entire system.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

DU Depleted Uranium

By Richard E. Noble

I had heard of Depleted Uranium (DU) but I thought that it was basically harmless. It sounds harmless. It’s uranium but it’s “depleted.” Sounds kind of harmless to me. But wait until you hear what Mr. Rokke has to say about it. It not only doesn’t sound harmless, it sounds catastrophic.
First, what is DU?
Depleted Uranium is a metal. It is made from uranium hexafluoride which is the by-product of the uranium enrichment process. Uranium hexafluoride is the non-fissionable residue or by-product of the uranium enrichment process during which fissionable Uranium 235 and Uranium 234 are separated from natural uranium.
The fissionable products are used to make nuclear explosives and as fuel for nuclear power plants. They precipitate a chain reaction.
The non-fissionable uranium by-product DU is a radioactive waste material.
Depleted uranium is refined from Uranium Hexafluoride (UF6) - from radioactive nuclear waste product. The United States Department of Energy has so much UF6 stored at various sites that any use that increases disposal of this waste product is welcome.
Natural uranium contains 99.2% by weight U-238 while DU contains 99.8% by weight U-238. Recent documents released by the U.S. Department of Energy provide evidence to suggest that a small proportion of other toxic heavy metals such as plutonium also may be present.
Plutonium is fissionable and is used in nuclear explosives.
DU is claimed not to be an external hazard (won’t burn the skin etc.). It is an internal hazard and with constant inhalation, ingestion and wound contamination poses significant and unacceptable risks - the alpha particle emissions (radiation) are not reduced but proportionally increased. Spent penetrators or parts of penetrators cannot be touched or picked up without protection.
A penetrator can be a bullet, missile, or a war head. The U.S. munitions industry produces the following DU munitions 7.62mm, 5Ocal., 20mm, 25mm, 30mm, 105mm, 120mm and other types.
DU is an ideal metal for use as kinetic energy penetrators (armor piercing), counterweights, and shielding or armor. High density and pyrophoric nature are the two most significant properties that guided its selection for use as a kinetic energy penetrator. DU is used to manufacture kinetic energy penetrators.
“DU is an extremely effective weapon,” Mr. Rokke explains. “Each tank round is 10 pounds of solid uranium – 238 contaminated with plutonium, neptunium, americium. It is pyrophoric, generating intense heat on impact, penetrating a tank because of the heavy weight of its metal. When uranium munitions hit, it is like a firestorm inside any vehicle or structure ... It is devastating.”
Besides the above uses DU has been proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy as a component of road and structural materials. All of these current or proposed uses are designed to reduce the huge U.S. Department of Energy stockpiles left over from the uranium enrichment process.
It seems that Mr. Rokke isn’t Mr. Rokke but Major Rokke. He has a Ph.D. in Health Physics and he was trained as a forensic scientist. He is a Vietnam and a Gulf War veteran. He has been in the Military Service for over 35 years and has a box full of awards and medals. Unfortunately he is now radioactive and dying.
“I was recalled to active duty in the U.S. Army and assigned to the U.S. Army Chemical School located at Fort McClellan, Alabama as the DU Project Director and tasked with developing training and management procedures. The project included a literature review; extensive curriculum development project involving representatives from all branches of the U.S. Department of Defense and representatives from England, Canada, Germany and Australia; and basic research at the Nevada Test Site located northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada, to validate management procedures.”
Doug’s job during the Gulf War was to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. We all think of that first Gulf War in much the same light as Andrew Jackson’s encounter at the Battle of New Orleans. We beat the bloody Iraqis and sent them scattering back into the damn desert with hardly a blemish on our own side. Of course there were 760 immediate casualties with 294 dead and over 400 wounded but that’s not bad for a War. And Saddam didn’t blow off any nuclear or chemical or biological weapons, so everybody was safe. Right?
“The U.S. Military decided to blow up Saddam’s Chemical, and radiological stockpiles in place,” explained Major Rokke, “which released the contamination back on the US troops and on everybody in the whole region. The chemical agent detectors and radiological monitors were going off all over the place. We had all the various nerve agents. We think there were biological agents, and there were destroyed nuclear reactor facilities. It was a toxic wasteland. And we had DU added to the whole mess ... When we first got assigned to clean up the DU and arrived in northern Saudi Arabia, we started getting sick within 72 hours ... It doesn’t take a long time ... We didn’t know anything about DU when the Gulf War started.
“As a warrior, you’re listening to your leaders, and they’re saying there are no health effects from DU. But, as we started to study this, to go back to what we learned in physics and our engineering - I was a professor of environmental science and engineering - you learn rapidly that what they are telling you doesn’t agree with what you know and observe ... In June of 1991, when I got back to the States, I was sick ... They didn’t do tests on me or my team members ... Any excretion level in the urine above 15 micrograms of uranium per day should result in immediate medical testing ... when you get up to 250 micrograms ... you’re supposed to be under continuous medical care ... I was director of the Depleted Uranium Project for the Department of Defense ... My excretion rate was approximately 1500 micrograms per day ... They didn’t tell me for two and a half years ... (symptoms of exposure to DU are) Fibromyalgia; Eye Cataracts from the radiation. When uranium impacts any type of vehicle or structure, uranium oxide dust and pieces of uranium explode all over the place. This can be breathed in or go into a wound. Once it gets into the body, a portion of this stuff is soluble, which means it goes into the blood stream and all of your organs. The insoluble fraction stays - in the lungs, for example. The radiation damage and the particulates destroy the lungs ... As the director of the Depleted Uranium Project, I developed a 40 hour block training. All that curriculum has been shelved. They turned what I wrote into a 20-minute program that’s full of distortions ... The equipment is defective. The General Accounting Office verified that the gas masks leak. Unbelievably, Defense Department officials recently said the defects can be fixed with duct tape
“The U.S. Army made me their expert. I went into the project with the total intent to ensure they could use uranium munitions in war, because I’m a warrior. What I saw as director of the project doing the research and working with my own medical conditions and everybody else’s, led me to one conclusion:
uranium munitions must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone, not just the U.S. or the Canadians or the British or the Germans, or the French but for the Americans of Vieques (testing site for DU weapons), for the residents of Iraq, of Okinawa, of Scotland, of India, of Maryland, and now Afghanistan and Kosovo.
“If you’re going to be sent into a toxic wasteland, and you know you are going to wear gas masks that leak and chemical protective suits that leak, and you’re not going to get any medical care after you’re exposed to all of these things, would you go? Suppose they gave a war and nobody came? You’ve got to start peace sometime...
“Religions say; ‘And a child will lead us to peace.’ But if we contaminate the environment, where will the child come from? The children won’t be there. War has become obsolete, because we can’t deal with the consequences on our warriors or the environment, but more important, on the noncombatants. When you reach a point in war when the contamination and the health effects of war can’t be cleaned up because of the weapons you use, and medical care can’t be given to the soldiers who participated in the war on either side or to the civilians affected, then it is time for peace.”
Since the end of that “easy” victory, a couple of more Gulf War causalities have signed in at the office of Veteran Affairs. It seems that 221,000 soldiers have been awarded disability according to a report released on September 10, 2002. The causality rate for Gulf War #1 is now calculated at 30%. And Major Rokke says that his military ordered investigation has led him to the conclusion that anyone who may have been downwind of any uranium dust, or working around uranium contamination or within a vehicle, structure, or building that was struck with uranium munitions should be seeking care.
The problem is two fold. Not only did we blow up any building or storehouse in which the enemy might have stored something hazardous, we used our own uranium missiles and bombs to blow them up. So if you were a soldier anywhere in the vicinity of any such explosion; or even if you were assigned to clean up after such an explosion you may be in store or already suffering from any of the following: Reactive airway disease, Neurological abnormalities, Kidney stones and chronic kidney pain, Rashes, Vision degradation and night vision losses, Gum tissue problems, Lymphoma, Various forms of skin and organ cancer, Neuro-psychological disorders, Uranium in semen, Sexual dysfunction and birth defects in offspring.
For those not in the military it is interesting to note that adverse health effects of this nature have been documented in employees of and residents living near Puducah, Kentucky; Portsmouth, Ohio; Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington. Also employees at uranium manufacturing or processing facilities in New York, Tennessee and the four corner’s area of southwest Colorado have reported similar health effects.
But, no need to worry, despite all these findings the United States and NATO officials continue to state that there are no known adverse health effects form DU exposure.
Major Rokke has this to say about that: “If you do not provide medical assessment for those with verified exposures and health problems then you can say DU did not cause any adverse health problems. So much for medical science when a cover up is directed by politicians to limit liability for non combatants, warriors, and others.”
As you may readily understand Major Rokke, besides being one of the untreated walking wounded and infected, is also persona non-grata in military circles these days. He is at present urinating and excreting large proportions of radioactive materials. “It is impossible to get proper care and treatment,” says Major Rokke. Several of his old buddies who served with him in his Military mandated DU clean-ups and investigations are already dead.
In the Balkans they are referring to these symptoms as the “Bosnian Crud”.
So far according to major Rokke medical care has not been provided to all DU casualties; environmental remediation has not been completed; DU contamination and damaged equipment and materials have been recycled to manufacture new products; DU training and education has only been partially implemented; DU contamination management procedures have not been distributed.
What should happen next? Mr. Rokke says that the international community and all of the world must raise a unified voice in opposition to future use of Depleted Uranium munitions and force those nations that have used depleted uranium munitions to recognize the immoral consequences of their actions and assume responsibility for medical care and thorough environmental remediation. Specifically: Depleted uranium munitions and the use of depleted uranium must be banned; all individuals who were exposed or who may have been exposed to any form of depleted uranium and its various integral contaminants or other contaminants created during combat, research, or training activities must receive a thorough physical examination and medical care to alleviate or cure the physiological consequences caused by inhalation, ingestion, or uranium wound contamination; all depleted uranium penetrator fragments, depleted uranium contaminated equipment, and depleted uranium oxide contamination must be cleaned up and disposed of at secure sites.
Major Rokke recommends that concerned citizens call their Congressmen and Senators and ask them what is being done about depleted uranium munitions, our sick soldiers, and the hundreds of thousands of innocent victims here in the U.S. and around the world.