Friday, April 30, 2010

The Great Tax Wars

Income Tax

“The Great Tax Wars”

By Steven R. Weisman

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

“Politics: a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles; the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” Ambrose Bierce.

Considering the above cynical definition as accurate, it is difficult then to imagine under what circumstances any democratic nation would ever agree to an “income tax” burdening a majority of citizens. If self-interest and perverse private advantage were the goals then a general income tax would certainly appear to be convoluted.

On one particular occasion I was talking to a “better off’ friend of mine and he informed me that he and the majority of his friends were not opposed to paying income tax but, on the contrary, considered it a “privilege.” On another occasion I heard Steve Allen, the comedian, say that he felt that he wasn’t paying enough taxes when he considered all of the benefits that he was receiving from this society. I wasn’t sure whether he was serious or making a joke.

Other than those two individuals what I have heard from Americans with regards to income tax – and taxes in general – has not been so gracious.

If I had been forced to guess under what presidential administration the nefarious “income tax” was enacted, I would have guessed that it happened under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration – and probably in his first term. I would think this because in 1932 the nation was in big trouble – the Depression was raging. With a Great Depression raging one could presume that there would be a great majority of lesser-off when compared to better-off and in such a situation it would not be surprising that the majority of lesser-off in a democracy would vote themselves a share of what made the “better off” better off. But I was wrong.

Income Tax found its first proponents in Abraham Lincoln and his Treasury Secretary, Salmon Chase – Republicans. The bottom line was that there was a war going on and somebody had to pay for it. The Federal Treasury was dwindling, gold reserves were being depleted and the banks were beginning to wonder who was actually going to win this war – banks want to side with the winners of wars not the losers. Some type of tax was necessary. On July 1, 1862, Lincoln signed the first income tax in the History of the United States.

In the 1850s 92% of the Federal governments revenue came from tariffs placed on imported goods. The logic was that tariffs placed on imported goods not only protected and encouraged domestic industry but in addition protected American workers – there were even surpluses during times of high tariffs.

But as war costs escalated and tariffs grew, the price of goods skyrocketed and even with no Ralph Nader, the consumers began to scream.

Now the tariff argument took on a negative spin – tariffs were filling the pockets of the super wealthy and the war profiteers. Consumer prices were rising, manufactures’ profits were rising, and wages were not. The workers and the poor were fighting the war; spilling their blood on the battlefields and being worked to death in the factories while the rich industrialists and capitalist were raking in huge profits. Lincoln “the rail splitter” was also a railroad lawyer for the new corporate America and was filling the pockets of the wealthy with railroad track bonuses, cheap government land and no bid contracts.

The Federal government tried every way to raise money but the poor didn’t have any; the workers were earning so little that they couldn’t buy anything and pay the tariffs; the businessmen and bankers didn’t want to make loans or buy bonds being issued by a country that was at war with itself and so the income tax was looking better and better.

The first year of the war had cost 530 million. In February of 1862 The Legal Tender Act was passed and the Federal Government began issuing “greenbacks” – paper money with no gold backing – though most agreed that it was unconstitutional because printing paper money had nothing to do with Congress’s right to “coin money.” Prior to the Revolutionary War, there had been paper money failures that turned the colonialists against paper money and supposedly this precipitated the “coin money” clause in the Constitution. But Constitutional or not it was deemed necessary.

When an income tax was finally passed it was 3% on incomes over 600 dollars per year and 5% on incomes over 10,000 dollars per year. Even with a bottom of $600 very few Americans had to pay this new tax. It was primarily a tax on the wealthy and the super wealthy. The idea that the rich should pay higher income taxes was a first in U.S. tax law.

The argument against the income tax and especially the progressive nature of the tax was that it was merely a confiscation of the wealth of the minority on behalf of the more populous majority; it was a tax on the rich to punish the rich for being rich. The rich liked the tariff much better – everybody paid the tariff.

Those who favored income tax and its progressive nature “saw wealth less as the product of hard work and conscientious ingenuity but as a product of good luck, exploitation of others, political favoritism, and predatory conduct toward rivals. The income tax could be used as a tool to promote equity and curb the power of great wealth over government.”

The Civil War had cost both sides nearly 5 billion and left the new nation with a National Debt of 3 billion.

After the war the opposition to the income tax did not arise from the “masses” but from the ranks of the super wealthy. By the 1870 less than 100,000 Americans paid the income tax and by 1872 the income tax was gone.

It is estimated that the income tax during the Civil War never affected more than 10%of the Union population and some estimates as low as 1%.

The war had enhanced the ranks of the super wealthy a hundred fold or more but the debt would be left to the citizens who would pay the tariffs and whatever other taxes of a less progressive nature the government could devise.

“…the income tax was gone. Its abolition had one more important and lasting effect. That was to guarantee that the Federal Debt, which had been incurred to preserve the Union for all citizens, would now have to be retired largely by the working classes and farmers. The fact that the American debt – its bonds, notes and other forms of loans – was owned by the wealthiest Americans meant that the taxpayers of modest means were working to pay off the investments of the richest taxpayers. As the tax historian Sidney Ratner notes, the Civil War debt ‘became one of the most powerful instruments in America for the enrichment of the rentier class, the leading capitalists.’ For the next forty years, farmers, workers, small merchants and other working class Americans carried this debt burden, to the benefit of the rich.”
Ah yes, and it does seems that nothing has changed.

After the war and the removal of the income tax, the tariff came back with a vengeance. But as the rich grew richer and the poor grew poorer the debate of tariff vs. income tax became prevalent once again.

Being anti-income tax was a bipartisan issue – both wealthy Democrats and wealthy Republicans were against it. Today we know that one sixtieth of the population in those days owned over two thirds of the wealth and three quarters of American families were not worth more than $600. In another estimate it was suggested that only 9 families owned 71% of America’s wealth.

William Jennings Bryan, “the Great Commoner” spoke for the income tax and Burke Cockran and Senator Nelson Aldrich and a host of others from the ranks of the rich and famous spoke against the income tax. Senator David Bennett Hill, a democrat from New York submitted a list of 23 amendments to modify or defeat the tax. “The income tax,” he said, was a product of little squads of anarchists, communists and socialists bringing their pernicious ideas from across the ocean to American shores.” We were already into the “Cold War” mentality.

The argument was put to rest temporarily when the Supreme Court decided that an income tax law passed by the legislature of Massachusetts was unconstitutional. The case that came before the Court was Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co. On this particular issue Conservatives were not against “legislating from the Bench” but the Liberals were.

But with the onset of America’s next war at the turn of the century the need for money and the demand for sacrifices from the wealthy was renewed. McKinley’s Treasury was once again depleted due to shenanigans of J. P. Morgan and friends manipulating a gold crisis during the Cleveland administration. Tariffs were taken to a new high – averaging 57%. The new higher tariffs only succeeded in stifling imports and lowering federal revenues but nevertheless all attempts at reinstituting an income tax failed.

The argument raged on through McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt and Taft. The progressives along with labor and the new socialists argued for the income tax. They claimed that the wealthy and the super wealthy were being exempted from paying their fair share while the poor and middle class were picking up the whole burden via conventional taxing policies and inflation. The rich and wealthy argued that the whole idea was nothing but Anarchism and Socialism. Income tax was a singling out and a punishment on the few for working hard and becoming prosperous – it was simply social prejudice.
By the time we get to Wilson the arguments had gotten more sophisticated. Senator Borar suggested that the rich needed to understand that a more equitable tax system would protect their own livelihoods against the dangers of class resentment. On the other side men like John D. Rockefeller argued that “... when a man has accumulated a sum of money within the law, that is to say, in the legally correct way, the people no longer have any right to share in the earnings resulting from the accumulation.” Another interesting argument against the income tax was that taxing the rich inhibited their desire to contribute to charitable causes.

Even though the Federal Supreme Court had ruled against the income tax, they nevertheless left that option open to the individual states. And the income tax was then pursued on a state level by legislation and by amendment to state constitutions if necessary.

Wisconsin was the first to adopt a permanent income tax in 1911. A corporate income tax – interpreted by the Supreme Court to be an excise tax on the privilege of doing business in a corporate capacity and not an income tax – was passed and several states passed estate taxes. The national mood was changing.

It wasn’t until the controversial election of 1912 and the success of Woodrow Wilson and a Democratic takeover of both houses that an amendment permitting income taxes was ratified. Wyoming in February of 1913 became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the sixteenth amendment. On Feb. 25, 1913 the Sixteenth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution:

“The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

Though it was now legal to pass a federal income tax it was left up to the Wilson administration and the legislature to devise one that was acceptable. The first income tax passed affected less than 4% of all Americans. It began with a 1% tax on incomes above $20,000 and climbed to 6% on income above $500,000.

Before the outbreak of World War I the U.S. still collected more than 90% of its revenues from tariffs and excise taxes but with the spending on the war that would change.

With the war, imports plummeted and federal revenues went into the red. But as the war progressed exports skyrocketed and profits went through the roof. But wages didn’t follow with the raging profits and the soaring prices. The workers became resentful, agitated and rebellious. Some called the situation “industrial feudalism.”
Countries involved in the war even began adopting an “excess profits” tax – in Briton the excess profits tax actually reached a rate of 60%. Business was seen on the positive as the driving engine of military might but on the negative as a vicious bloodsucker squeezing unreasonable profits out of the horrible struggle of war.

With the advent of World War I and then with American participation, the tax arguments took a patriotic twist. It was commonly accepted knowledge that the rich had profited from the Civil War and that the American people had picked up the bill via national debt and inflation. There was a strong push to change this situation in World War I – with income taxes on the wealthy, excess profit taxes on the corporations an the general population supposedly ready to “bear any burden and undergo any sacrifice” according to president Wilson.

The reality was that World War I had greater resistance than any war yet in American History. As during the Vietnam Era the country became divided against itself. But the basic argument that the rich and prosperous should, at the least, pay while the poor and average fought was fairly standard among the overall population. Of course the rich saw it otherwise. Conservatives screamed of communism and socialism “... we shall no more hear the nonsense that this is a ‘capitalistic’ war, waged for the benefit of the men of capital. It is a poor man’s war, waged at the expense of capital, and one of its collateral efforts will be to diffuse wealth.”

Income taxes soared up to as high as 77% and excess profit taxes up to 65%. The new war had been waged and funded with taxes and bonds sales to the general public –“Liberty Bonds.” The taxes paid for about a third of the cost of the war. Selling bonds to the middle class was considered to be fairer than had been the case during the Civil War and with this new tax system the tariff system disappeared.

Out of a work force of 106 million in 1920 only 5.5 million paid income taxes – and only a fraction of the wealthiest of these accounted for a majority of the revenue received. By 1930 two thirds of federal revenue came from income and corporate taxes. The fairness or unfairness of this system has been one of the main points of controversy in the American economic philosophy ever since.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Illegal Immigration

[I posted this article several months back. In light of current National developments, I decided to post it once again. If this is a topic of interest to you, you should find this article enlightening]

By Richard E. Noble

This is a difficult subject. I told myself that I would not get into it. My goal these days is to win friends and influence people and not make enemies - if it could be avoided. But since my wife and I have traveled all of these United States picking fruits and vegetable for a number of years, it would be logical to conclude that I have an opinion on the current controversy. Of course, I do.
By the way, if you would like to read about our adventures as migrant farm workers, you can find the whole story in my book, “Hobo-ing America” - contact me via my e-mail for more information.
If you have already read Hobo-ing America you realize that illegal immigration is more than a physical problem at our borders. We have people here from all over the world who have come by one legitimate method or another, but once here have violated that agreement and taken up illegal residence. Not only that, but we have governmental immigration services that are not only inadequately staffed, but are also permeated with corruption. In my travels I learned from illegal aliens from all parts of the world that all the legitimizing paperwork to bring a person from an illegal status to a legal status can be purchased directly from unscrupulous government employees working at those agencies. This is what I have been told; I have no personal experience with the practice. I was born in this country and therefore qualified to work any lousy job this country has to offer.
A green card can be bought for “x” number of dollars; a social security card can be purchased in the same manner; and any other paperwork that one might need guaranteeing permanent residence can be bought for a price. This is what I was told by any number of illegal aliens. Some freely showed me their papers. They were very proud that they had earned enough money to buy them.
Many illegal aliens come here on student visas, or as a part of a political asylum. The U.S has been involved in so many corrupt governments and revolutions around the world that it would be difficult to determine how many illegal aliens are here with our government’s permission - in a sort of protection program.
Many of them were working at jobs procured through employment agencies, some head-quartered right in Washington D.C. They showed me their paperwork. Employers around the nation were signed up for this service and the workers paid large sums of money for the privilege of working in a chicken factory or a meat packing house somewhere in “anywhere USA”.
This is a big business, not only for the placement agencies involved but for the corrupt employers as well. You can be sure that these businesses have their butts protected via sub-contractors and other phony or not so phony agencies. When confronted they will deny any knowledge of the illegal nature of their practices – but they know. This is big business - and the government agencies along with the business community are in it up to their ears. This is my opinion based on what I have seen with my own eyes and heard from the people who are the customers involved in this racquet - and it is a racquet in my opinion.
To say the least, the illegal immigration problem is more than rounding up a few poor Mexicans at our southern border. It is systemic. It won’t be solved overnight by one bill being passed in the Federal legislature. You can pass all the laws that you want but if they can’t be enforced or you’re not ready to spend the money necessary to enforce them - it won’t happen.
I shouldn’t have to say this because it should be obvious, but illegal Immigration is illegal.
If I said to you; Are you against people illegally withdrawing money from banks? Your answer would be simple and unqualified. I doubt very much if you would start telling me about all the economic advantages provided to the community by bank robbers. I also doubt that you would tell me that the bank robbers or illegal withdrawers are just poor people who need those funds. You wouldn't you tell me about all the good that has been accomplished by past bank robbers who have invested their illegal withdrawals wisely, either. The same can be said for any illegal activity whether it be drugs, prostitution, or organized crime.
But, you say, an illegal immigrant isn’t a bank robber. True. A friend of mine said to me a while back; Your problem is with the word illegal. Just eliminate the word illegal and then what is your gripe?
If this is your attitude, then I must assume that you are for an open immigration policy. I can only imagine what the United States would look like in a few years if we did away with any restrictions on immigration. My god!
I’m sure that right at this minute there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in Poland who would like to migrate to this country if they were allowed. I’ll bet that there is no shortage of Russians, Chinese, Croates and whatever. Is it fair to deny these eager, enthusiastic folks; these huddled masses yearning to be free; these poor hard working struggling folks who simply want to be a part of the American dream; these honest, decent, hard working people - is it fair to deny them this opportunity to be free?
Of course it is. If you want to have a Nation or a Country, it is. It is unfortunate, but it is necessary.
Now we come to the more practical arguments. What do we do with the eleven million illegals who are here right now? And secondly what about all these jobs that Americans refuse to do?
They say that there are eleven million illegals here, my guess is that the number would be closer to twenty million; and I would not be surprised if after and actual count, it was found to be even higher.
This is going to be a big, big problem. If I was here illegally and it was announced in some newspaper that I should go down and register, I wouldn’t do it. Unless the penalty if I got caught was extremely severe, or the reward to my advantage, I wouldn’t register. I’d take my chances. What the hell, I have been illegal for all these years, what’s a few more?
Whether it is the right or wrong thing to do, I do not think that all illegal aliens can be rounded up and deported. Some method of incorporating these people into the society will have to be devised. But this is going to require thousands and thousands of new government jobs. These people are going to have to be recorded and processed.
If the stern Republican approach is taken, this will require the same monetary outlay. The Republicans who are asking for this type action will not be willing to pay for it. I think that they are putting up a big show. If they get their way I doubt if anything will be done to change the situation at all. And that would be in tune with their traditional point of view - help the Bosses.
If the Democrats get their way it will be another kiss and make up amnesty deal and when they try to get the regulatory jobs and the border enforcement jobs it will all turn into political mush. The final product will have no teeth. Nothing will be accomplished, nor will the situation be changed.
So to tell you the truth, I don’t take any of this debate seriously. It is a political campaign issue, and nothing more.
But, let’s pretend.
On the issue that there are jobs that Americans just won’t do - I take serious issue. This is totally bogus. Anybody who says this in my opinion is (pardon my French) full of shit.
Americans have always been willing to do any jobs that have been offered to them - but they have never been stupid. Most Americans are the sons and daughters of hard working immigrants – just like the Hispanics. This is simple reverse prejudice that has been propagandized by the elitist business community looking for cheap labor. The Hispanic community has picked up on this because it flatters their egos. But it has no more truth to it than the reverse prejudice stating that all Hispanics carry switchblade knives, belong to gangs and sell drugs. This is all stereotypic hoseshit. This type of slander is used, as always, to obfuscate the important issues – in this case paying fair living wages and upgrading competitive technoligies
The problem is not with the American worker, the problem is with the jobs themselves. There are jobs in this country that are difficult to find workers to do. For the most part these jobs are very limited. They deal almost entirely with the harvesting of seasonal crops in Agribiz. All the other jobs in all of the other industries are simply jobs that employers are unwilling to pay a living wage or a decent respectable wage to their workers. They want the money or they are being pressured out of business by foreign imports and virtual slave labor, overseas conditions.
The employers have some legitimate reasons for this complaint. One is world free market competition. I’m sorry but the advocation of this policy is a paved road to disaster.
If one accepts the logic that better wages, fair wages, higher wages automatically means higher prices and eventual inflation and vanishing businesses, then the same principle must hold true for greater profits, higher dividends, and bigger pays for CEOs and CFOs and Doctors, Lawyers an accountants and Indian Chiefs who now own gambling casinos. If this principle holds true for the lower income jobs then it should also hold true for higher income jobs - and profits and dividends from the stock market. In which case, poverty is the goal and success or a better life means destitution. This is pure horseshit and obvious class prejudice.
This argument advocating lower and lower wages for the poorer hard working folks in our society is illogical. If it were true then it would also be true that more people making more money on any level would eventually lead to the collapse of the Capitalistic, free enterprise system. The principle is not valid. If more competition and lower wages means a better more prosperous world, then why did we ever do away with slavery; why did we have the 1929 depression? This logic is just plain and simple stupidity.
This country has not become the greatest, wealthiest nation in the world because we have a few very wealthy, smart people. All countries have a few wealthy, smart people. This country has become the greatest economic nation in history because it provided a means for more and more people to become modestly well off and for the average worker to have, at worst, a roof over his head, food on his table, and a hope for the future.
It took a combination of economic philosophies to accomplish that. It took a little Capitalism, a little mercantilism, a little protectionism, a little foreign trading, a little free marketing, even a little communism – and a lot of Socialism. It took a number of strong leaders in government and in private enterprise, and a good dose of moral economic conscience - provided by labor unions, churches, charities, environmentalists, suffragettes, and fearless champions of every type of minority right.
This Country is not great because we adhered to inflexible dogmatic notions of anything and not because we have always had the most powerful military in the world. We have always been like the Universe around us, a nation in flux, steeped in change, a people willing to do and try anything.
Most of the businesses around this country who depend on illegal workers could have all the legal workers they want - they simply have to offer a living wage. If there are legitimate reasons why they cannot - other than simple greed and more and more for the bosses - then the legislature should enact policies accordingly - whether they are called projectionist, or nationalistic, or even isolationist. If we let middle-class America go down the tube, we can forget the American dream altogether.

[Related information – Search This Blog – Minimum Wage; Me and the Global Economy; One Nation; Global Economy; Socialism.]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

If this commentary interests you, one or both of the above titles may also interest you.
Click on cover on right on this page. Thanks.


Pacifism or Nazism?

Reading between the lines of history.

By Richard E. Noble

Munich is known as the great sellout of World War II. What really happened, though? We are told that Neville Chamberlain, the pacifist leader of Great Britain, tried a last ditch effort to assuage that big bad bully Adolf from beating up on another of his poor neighbors.

In my reading of this situation, I have serious doubts about Mister Chamberlain’s commitment to pacifism. I seriously wonder if old Neville wasn’t slightly more committed to Nazism than to pacifism. I have this morbid feeling that both World War I and World War II were an attempt to subdue the same enemy. I get the feeling from reading between the lines of my History books that the real enemy of World War I was Socialism – the war possibly being initiated by some of the rich and the powerful to divert the European populace from the growing notion that the rich were too rich and the poor were too poor.

From as early as 1848 with the emergence of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and friends, the notion that the rich had much more than they deserved was causing havoc all over the world – in the U.S. also. (Read about big Bill Haywood and the IWW – Wobblies and Woodrow Wilson). Once War breaks out, discontent at Home is treasonous. So if we look at World War I as a method of the threatened Rich and Powerful to stem the tide of domestic unrest, and by the war, turn a nice profit in the manufacture of arms, munitions, textiles, and manufacturies of all types and sorts enhanced by World War I, the War takes on a new light. Arms profiteering was established as a motive for the war.

But World War I was a failure. The War went on and on, and as it did the spirit of nationalism faded as the spirit of international Socialism grew. The notion that World War I was a conspiracy promoted and encouraged by rich and powerful influences for the purposes of growing more rich and powerful, infiltrated even the battle lines. This notion became so strong that in 1918 the whole Russian army walked off the battlefield. It was a show of Democracy said Leon Trotsky, and the Russian soldiers voted with their feet. In Britain, labor influences began to take over. In Germany the Socialist and Communists were toppling the government and sabotaging the War effort, just as Adolf had claimed years later – Mein Kampf – stab in the back theory. The moral victors of World War I were the Socialists and the Communists. The War had not stemmed the tide of discontent over social conditions. The poor were now even poorer and a good many of them were now dead or mangled, and some rich and powerful, especially those involved in producing arms, were richer than beyond their wildest dreams.

The War ends but the real battle goes on. The War against the spread of Socialism and Communism goes underground. Russia becomes public enemy number one. Money begins to pour into the pockets of any group or leader who can divert the marching feet of the poor from the homes of the rich and famous – thus the rise of the European dictators.

Hitler eventually becomes number one on the payroll of the super-rich, wealthy and powerful. He is bought and paid for, and makes a written commitment along with statement after statement to destroy the enemy ... Soviet Russia. He will subdue the Russian Bolshevik beast; turn the whole country, and all the inferior Slavic populations into a slave state. Hitler becomes the Dandy of the Dandy world. Many of the rich and famous about the World, including Neville Chamberlain and his rich British friends are dumping big bucks into an emerging German Nazi state.

Czechoslovakia - the big sellout

Czechoslovakia had gold, weapons and one of the largest and best trained armies in Europe. They had their border with Germany in the Sudetenland armed to the hilt with batteries and canons. They had a treaty agreement with France. If Germany attacked Czechoslovakia France was committed to come to the aid of the Czechs. The French had a treaty with the English. If the French marched the English were committed to follow. In addition to all of this, the Russians told the French formally, that if the Czechs were attacked and the French marched, Russia would come to aid the Czechs and the French in any and every way possible.

Stalin had read Mein Kampf and knew only too well what Adolf had planned for his Soviet Russia. In Germany itself a plot was brewing to overthrow Hitler. GGeneral Beck, General von Witzleben, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, president of the Reichsbank, Johannes Popitz, minister of finance and other disgruntled Nazis felt that Adolf was going too far. They were just about to place him under arrest when word was let out that Neville Chamberlain was coming to Munich to talk once again with Adolf. They decided to hold up their arrest plans until Neville finished talking.

Neville let the French know that if they marched on behalf of the Czechs, England might not follow. Neville convinced France to break its treaty agreement with Czechoslovakia and agree to let the Germans take over the Sudetenland. Most history books contend that Neville did this as a last ditch effort towards peace.
I find this explanation very, very hard to swallow. With this little ‘compromise’ Neville Chamberlain set the groundwork for making Germany the most powerful country on the continent. Neville could not have been so stupid as to not realize this fact. I think that Neville Chamberlain was not negotiating for peace but setting up his Nazi friends and associates – Adolf Hitler and his cast of murders and killers – with sufficient power, weapons and money to give Adolf an army large enough and the personal confidence swelled enough to head his troops for Moscow. Just what Neville and his rich friends have been putting their money up for all along.

It is not revisionist history to write about the sellout of Czechoslovakia. It was screamed from the presses by journalists, and from the government seats by statesmen like Winston Churchill and others. What could possibly be in Neville Chamberlain’s mind many people screamed?

The coup against Hitler was over. The German people could hardly believe it themselves. The German leadership and Generals were in shock. Adolf had just bluffed and blustered his way into becoming the most powerful dictator in Europe, and there were few who did not realize this fact. So how could Neville have created such a blunder?

Simple ... it was no blunder. Neville knew exactly what he was doing and what he thought it would accomplish. He was fighting Communism and Soviet Russia, and he and his rich buddies around the world were hiring the whole belligerent German people as their mercenary army. Who cared if a bunch of nutty, forever hostile war crazed Germans wiped themselves out, killing a bunch of Russian Commies? Kind of like the recent War between Iran and Iraq. Let them murder one another, and we will kill two birds with one stone.

Neville and his buddies had the same enemy since 1918 when the Russians stabbed the allies in the back by walking off the Eastern front.


Poland was right on the road to Russia. Neville Chamberlain and his Nazi buddies must have realized that Adolf would be about to hit the Poles. So what was the big deal with Poland? If you weren’t going to “march” over Czechoslovakia, why the hell get all bent out of shape over greedy, ill-prepared Poland? The Poles were not too principled to grab their little share of Chezh property when the Nazis came marching in. So now why should we worry about them? If you weren’t going to go to War when you had all of the cards in your favor, why go now after you just cut a deal making the German army more powerful than it could ever have hoped to become in another ten years of arms production? What are you crazy?

Something unbelievable had just happened. Adolf had cut a secret deal with Uncle Joe. How could this Happen?

Joe Kennedy (ambassador to England) is quoted in a phone conversation back to Washington screaming in a state of panic; We’ve been tricked! We’ve been tricked ... and then went on to mumble something about disaster, or the end of the world coming. But my question is ... Who’s ‘we’ Joe? Who is the ‘our’ that has been tricked?
Could the ‘we’ be Joe Kennedy, Henry Ford, Sosthenes Behn (ITT), the Rockefellers, The DuPont’s, Thomas Edison, James D. Mooney (Chevrolet), Montague Normand (Bank of England), Mary Astor (the Clivaden club), Prince Edward and his American Nazi bride, the Dulles brothers, A. Harriman, Prescott Bush and thousands of other wealthy businessmen, bankers, industrialists and manufactures who had been backing Adolf all along with BIG BUCKS so that he would fulfill his promise of squelching the Bolshevik threat, and neutralizing Mother Russia, and Papa Joe?

Uncle Joe and Adolf cut a secret deal to partition Poland. It wasn’t a secret very long though and I bet I know who made this secret known to the world. Uncle Joe was no dummy either.

Uncle Joe

Uncle Joe knew what was going on all along. He knew who was signing Adolf s “Czechs” and why. If Uncle Joe was going to War, let’s have it in the Balkans or Poland first. Uncle Joe had been begging to join a western alliance of any sort for a long, long while. But Neville and his friends just snickered. How stupid could Uncle Joe be? Didn’t he know that the West was out to get him?

Not so stupid at all, maybe. He had given the West all the opportunities he could. They showed their colors time after time. He was the one that they wanted to get and he knew it. What could he do but play both ends against the middle and get ready for the Germans. Obviously the British and the French weren’t going to fight for anybody but themselves. But what was this – Hitler wants to snuggle? This could be the knife that stabs Chamberlain and his buddies in the back. Besides what good does it do to sign any damn papers with England and France – both of them seem to have a swastika behind their back anyway. Remember Austria; remember Czechoslovakia. Signing a deal with Germany could be the best thing that ever happened. If Adolf was sincere, it is us against the West, and we have just turned the attack dog onto its own masters. If Hitler is up to a double-cross, we get a buffer with half of Poland, and we throw a monkey wrench into the Chamberlain/Adolf secret love affair. What’s to lose?

So we know what Chamberlain was up to, and we know what Stalin was up to, and France – the monkey in the middle between Adolf and Neville - but what the hell was Adolf up to? Too much coke, heroin or what? Didn’t he know if he signed a deal with Russia that he would lose all of his rich Western backers?

This is the only piece of this puzzle that just doesn’t seem to fit. Adolf was no dummy. What was he thinking? He certainly didn’t need Russian help to beat Poland. If he invaded Poland would Russia declare War on Germany? Why should they? They had no agreement with Poland. If he simply invaded Poland, Neville and his chums would probably understand and make some other dinky excuses on his behalf. Maybe he and Adolf could have another talk in Munich about Poland? Maybe the Polish really wanted to be Germans too; if it worked with Austria and Czechoslovakia, why not with Poland? Next stop Russia. And once the Germans started fighting the Russians, the initial Western ‘hit contract’ would be complete. Now, let the bastards beat each other to death. Who gives a damn?

After reading Mein Kampf, I would have assumed that England would be last on Adolf’s hit list. He respected the British. He knew how tough the Tommies could be from his experiences in World War I. He thought the Russians and Slaves to be a total waste of mankind. His plan for all of them was extermination. They were trash.

The French were a bastardized race. He has nothing good to say about them, but he certainly should have remembered them from World War I also. One thing that we do know is that he had a strong fifth column in both France and England (and the U.S.).
Winston talks in his, “The Gathering Storm,” of tens of thousands of confirmed, organized Nazis in England at the time of his taking the controls. He’s worried about assassination attempts against him and his family. We know what happened in France with the Vichy government. The only thing that I can figure is that maybe Adolf thought with all of his supporters and cronies inside the British Empire maybe with just a little poke here and a little poke there, the whole nation would collapse just like Austria and Czechoslovakia. Napoleon asked Tom Paine about the same scenario earlier.

If the Germans are now teamed up with the Russians, now what?
This is bad news for the Big Buck Gang of Western investors. With Russia and Nazi Germany as a team, did Europe have a chance? Did the world have a chance? How could Adolf do this after all that he had said in Mein Kampf about the Russians – about Bolshevism? His whole career had been formulated on the I-hate-Bolshevism policy; send your check to A. Hitler care of “I Will Rid the World of Jews, Bolsheviks, and Scum Bags Inc.” So what is with cutting a deal with Uncle Joe over Poland? Why didn’t Adolf simply attack Poland himself? Why in the world did he have to cut a deal with Russia?

The Russians had been negotiating through their Jewish ambassador, Litvinov, to cut a deal with England and France for the defense of Poland if Germany were to attack. But once again, and true to form, Chamberlain drags his feet. If such a deal was cut, says Winston Churchill, World War II might have been avoided right there and then, but Chamberlain won’t do it ... why?

Why? Because what better road to Russia than through Poland. I mean if you and your rich Nazi (British and Western) friends are paying a guy to attack Russia; you’ve got to realize that he must go through some country. Poland is as good as any. But Britain has a treaty with Poland. Yeah, and France had a treaty with Czechoslovakia.


So Hitler attacks Poland and Chamberlain finally develops a back bone and abandons his “pacifist” ways, the History books tell us.

I don’t think so. Chamberlain suddenly straightened up when he got the first word that Adolf had cut a deal with the Russians. This was the unexpected slap in the face. All along everything else had been going according to Hoyle. It is my opinion that as long as Chamberlain thought that Adolf was going to attack Russia, he didn’t care if the Gestapo were renting rooms on Downing Street, but once Hitler made the non-aggression pact with Russia, the party was over. I would imagine that was the biggest shock of Chamberlain’s life. He thought that he had Adolf in his back pocket.
So Adolf neutralizes his Eastern front and decides to go West, and the British are first.

Question: Why then does he not defeat England, before attacking Russia? What goes wrong? And if he found that he could not beat England, why the hell take on the Russians, and now have a war on two fronts?
I think that the history books and most historians are too kind to Neville Chamberlain. I agree with Winston Churchill who says in his ‘The Gathering Storm’ on page 346:

“In this sad tale of wrong judgments formed by well meaning and capable people, we now reach our climax. That we should all have come to this pass makes those responsible, however honorable their motives, blameworthy before History.”
Neville Chamberlain stands ‘blameworthy before history’ to say the least. Early on, he tried to give Hitler – British, French, and Belgium colonies. He had a blind eye to anti-Semitism and he reneged on the Balfour agreement and basically gave or left captive the European Jews to Hitler and his Nazis. He had capital investments in Nazi Germany. He was a major shareholder in Imperial Chemical Industries, partner of I. G. Farben. He assisted Hitler in all of his land acquisitions in Europe. He and Halifax dreamed of a London, Berlin, Rome axis says historian William Manchester. He sold out France and Czechoslovakia while at the same time saving Hitler’s butt from a German officers’ coup which Chamberlain had been fully informed of ahead of time. In fact, it may have been his fear that Hitler might actually be toppled from power that precipitated his trips to Munich in the first place. He outright lied to his own people about Ashley Montague’s returning to Hitler, $48 Million in gold already deposited in the Bank of England by Czechoslovakia. He only turned against Germany when finally Hitler made a non-aggression pact with Chamberlain’s real enemy ... Soviet Russia.

Hitler could have no better leader for his British Fifth Column than Neville Chamberlain. If ever there was a case for treason to be brought against a British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain is the man. But if Neville was to be brought up on charges of treason after the war, it seems that half of Britain’s upper crust, including Edward VIII the ex-King of England, would have been hung on the same gallows.

It is too bad for History that Britain (and the United States) had no Nuremberg type war crimes trials in their respective countries after World War II. I have no doubt that this current world would be quite a different place.
Neville Chamberlain gives pacifism a bad name. He wanted War and promoted War ... War between Germany and Russia.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Eastpointer


Richard E. Noble

I imagine that if you took a survey of all workers with regards to the nature or personalities of bosses, their opinions would be consistent. Bosses are all pretty much the same – they’re bossy; they’re demanding; they are overly confident or conceited; they’re pushy and two faced. When it comes to paying those who work for them – they are universally cheap. How do bosses get like that?
It seems to be a phenomenon of human nature that you can separate a worker right from the ranks of “workerhood” and instantly he turns into a boss – bossy, demanding, unappreciative, oblivious to the efforts of underlings, selfish and CHEAP.
If you are a worker and your boss is even your mother or your father, your analysis of a boss will more than likely be the same as the above. And if you are so bold as to confront your mother or your father with your understanding of Bossology, they will invariably say; "Well, let's just see how well you do if you somehow through some miracle of mismanagement ever one day become a boss.”
But in my lifetime study in the academic field of Bossology, I have found that this phenomenon is even more engrossing than what has been outlined above.
Bossology could easily become a subdivision of Sociology, Social Psychology or even Political Science.
I worked with this guy once who was the most recalcitrant, uncooperative employee that I ever meet. He argued with the boss on every point. He invariably had a better way to do everything. One day the regular boss got sick and didn't show up for a few days, and this guy was made the boss. Oh my goodness, did the rest of us guys ever have our hands full.
When Ray, the regular boss, finally came back to work, all of us peons gathered in a circle around him and sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." I remember going up to Ray and personally shaking his hand and in a loud voice so that the substitute boss could hear, I begged him never to stay home sick again.
But why it happens that ordinary workers turn into cheap bossy bosses simultaneous with their promotion has always been a curiosity to me.
Liberia is a fascinating historic example of this strange curiosity.
Liberia is a country on the coast of Africa that was "colonized" in 1822 by freed American black slaves. Some rich Americans all chipped in – The American Colonization Society. President Monroe was involved. They even named the capital of the country after him – Monrovia. It became a country in 1847 with the help and support of the United States of America. Many white and black Americans didn't believe that blacks could ever be free here in America with the prevailing attitudes so they bought this country to liberate (or deport) runaway slaves and willing black participants and volunteers. The only problem with this idea was that there was already a bunch of black people living in Liberia at the time. It was kind of like the colonization of America all over again. You know, How did we get all these Indians in OUR country?
Now what do you think would happen when a bunch of freed American black slaves were given the opportunity to run their own country?
Would you ever in a million years believe that the freed black American slaves would turn their new country of Liberia into a Southern style plantation with themselves as the plantation owners and the indigenous black population as their slaves? Impossible you say? Not so impossible. That is basically what happened.
In 1917 the workers of Russia (Bolshevik Party) took over their country from the oppressive Czar. The first worker leader, Lenin, decided that the workers weren't capable of becoming their own bosses just yet, so he made himself the boss. After Lenin died another worker by the name of Stalin took over. He decided that the workers could never really be the bosses so he made himself the lifetime boss over all bosses.
What is it with this?
In France the common people had a revolution to get rid of their brutal king and his army. They replaced their hated king with Napoleon Bonaparte – who becomes a rather harsh dictator who then tried to conquer the world. Talk about becoming the boss going to a guy's head?
I met a black person once who hated black people. I asked him why he hated black people so much when he was a black person himself. He told me that if it weren't for all those other nasty black people out there, white people would probably like him a lot better. He felt that it was because of the bad example of other blacks that he was getting such a poor deal himself.
I was reading a Social Psychologist the other day and he contended that Humans were basically kind and loving, but had been turned abusive by their societies. So all us good people have been turned bad, mean and nasty by all you other bad people.
I guess that gives Jean Paul Sartre some relevance in his claim that hell is really "other people."

Richard E. Noble is a Freelance Writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for around thirty years. He has authored several books all, of which are listed on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010



Christopher Simpson

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

“Here one sees the extent of the corruption of American ideals that has taken place in the name of fighting communism. No one, it seems, not even Adolf Eichman’s personal staff, was too tainted to be rejected by the CIA’s recruiters, at least as long as his relationship with the U.S. government could be kept secret.
“The American people deserve better from their government. There is nothing to be gained by permitting U.S. intelligence agencies to continue to conceal the true scope of their association with Nazi criminals in the wake of World War II. The files must be opened; the record must be set right.”
This book was published in 1988 and since then the files have been opened and then closed and opened and closed again. The battle goes on.
If you are one of those folks who have dismissed the secreting of Nazis into the U.S after World War II because you thought that they were all “innocent” scientists whose knowledge was crucial to our survival, you have a lot to learn. And you will learn a lot of it in this book.
I picked up this book for a dime at some flea market or yard sale many years ago. I read it but still didn’t believe it. Since that time, I have taken up the project of determining “Who Financed Adolf Hitler” and why. This book deals with the “why” in the above question.
I hate to say it but this is a book on the treasonable acts of some top people in the American government and business community.
I have already gone through this book and highlighted the chapters. It is on my list for synopsizing. I do this task because I want to more deeply ingrain the facts of this book into my memory. My attempt is to make books like this one more a part of my readily available accessible knowledge. I want to know what it says and I want to remember what is says. This business is too important to simply file in the back bedroom of my cognizant being. I want to study this, know it and understand it all – if I can. At the moment I am working on the same project with two other books, so this book will have to sit on the shelf for awhile.
I suppose one would classify this as a cold war book. But I considered it a World War II history book. This is the kind of book that will help you to understand why there was a World War II - and a World War I for that matter and a World War III – if it is in the making.
More and more of us Americans must learn this information. We have to know it and understand it so that we can get over it in the future and hopefully never let this type of thinking and attitude lead us back to wars of this nature ever again.
At the moment we seem to be losing this battle.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Banking and Money

The Hobo Philosopher

Banking and Money

By Richard E. Noble

Despite comments to the contrary by John Kenneth Galbraith in his book,” Money: Whence it Came and Where it Went,” I have found Money And Banking very perplexing. Mr. Gaibraith said that money was very simple and that anyone could understand it. I don’t think so. Not only that, I have come to the conclusion that the whole Banking thing was a scam, almost, from the beginning. Let me explain my confusion.
In the beginning, there came about the first Bank. This first bank was basically a vault. People who had accumulated large amounts of gold, and silver got tired of trying to hide it under the floor boards of their cabins, or in a secret place behind the fireplace. So, when they heard that some guy had opened up a Bank where they could put their gold and silver and have it guarded and protected, they were very pleased.

These wealthy people with surplus gold and silver took their money down to this Bank and “deposited” it. The Bank owner gave these people a receipt. This receipt was a certificate of deposit. It affirmed that “So and So” had “X” amount of gold or silver stored in this Bank. The depositors payed the back for providing this service. Up until this point everything seems to be on the up and up.

The people who had the receipts began to trade these receipts as if they were actually gold or silver. This became accepted as legal and legitimate by most people. To have this certificate of deposit in your possession was as good as having the actual gold or silver. Up to this point I think everything is still legitimate. This next evolution is where things begin to go haywire.

The man who owns the Bank has a bright idea. He thinks that it is a shame to have all this gold and silver sitting in his vault when there are so many good, trustworthy people out there in the world who could put it to good use – and would be willing to pay for that opportunity. He talks with his certificate of deposit holders and suggests to them that if they would be willing to loan out their accumulated assets, instead of paying a service charge for the privilege of having their gold and silver protected in his vault, they could actually receive a dividend.

This is, in my opinion, where everything goes coo-coo. Without getting into the obvious problems involved in the recording of assets and debits and who has what, and just sticking to the basic principles involved, I see a big problem here.

The problem stated simply is this: Mr. Jones has deposited, $1,000 in gold. He has a certificate to prove it. Mr. Smith has borrowed Mr. Jones’ $1,000 and he has a loan contract to prove it. But the Bank now has nothing in its vault but a promise. Now this all would have been okay if Mr. Jones understood that until his loan was paid back by Mr. Smith, he didn’t have access to his $1,000 anymore. But as we all know, this did not turn out to be the eventual case.

So, as time rolled on and people deposited money and others borrowed that money, the Bank recorded assets into the millions, and all the while it could really not have a cent or an once of gold in its vault. The Bank could have nothing but a ledger full of promises and no gold at all. When you think about all of this it begins to sound like that old Abbot and Costello routine – quick here’s two tens, gimme a five.
So, was all of this legal?

Well, legal or not legal, most people didn’t really understand what was going on. And because of this lack of understanding, we had Jimmy Stewart standing on the top of the counter at his local bank trying to explain to the bank customers that there was nothing wrong in the fact that the bank had no money to give to its depositors.
In the movie everyone understood what Jimmy was saying, but in real America nobody got it. They called this phenomena “The Bank Run.”

The Bankers tried everything that their cleaver little imaginations could come up with, but nothing seemed to work – the people still didn’t get it – and one might ask: What was there to get?

Banks got together and formed coalitions. They each kept a percentage of their deposits in reserve and if one of their coalition experienced a run – they ran to its rescue with bags of money in temporary loans. This worked for awhile for small runs, but when large numbers of people began to panic about the whereabouts of their life’s savings, whole coalitions were “bank-rupted.”

So, at this point, we have a good many problems with Banks. This problem could have been solved by not allowing banks to loan out other people’s money; or by turning a bank into some sort of investment fund – like the stock market – where the risks were explained to the depositors and they were given the choice to participate or not participate. I would have to say that what the banks were doing if not illegal, it was certainly morally suspect. They were promoting the unsubstantiated notion that they had people’s money when, in truth, they did not. This is similar to the well known Ponzi scam today. There was another guy by the name of Say – but he was not as obvious as Ponzi.

Ponzi’s idea was to get people to invest in him today on the promise of a large return on their investment tomorrow. The fact is that he had no investment program whatsoever and he simply manipulated the large sums of money coming in with staggered payments going out. As long as more money was coming in than was going out, Ponzi was rich and his investors were happy. The whole thing became a matter of bookkeeping.

Now you might say that the bank is not a Ponzi scam because it has legitimate investments. This is true, but if those legitimate investments prove to be unreliable then you have the same situation as with Ponzi, nevertheless. Then we have borderline elaborations on Ponzi – gold mines out west, swamp land in Florida, the Panama Canal fiasco, and last year’s failed corn crop, the Tulip Bubble.

Banks have gone out of business, over the years, because they were outright Ponzi scams with no investments at all; because they made false claims about their investments; because they made legitimate investments that failed. But the problem that bothered bankers was not the morality of their initial idea but what to do about banks that made good investments but were driven out of business by a sudden lack of confidence on the part of their depositors – the bank run. How they could have their cake and eat it too. Clearly a bank could not loan out its money to entrepreneurs and still have it on hand to return to its depositors on demand.
Now, it is at this point that the system has become an impossibility. It clearly and simply does not work, and there is no solution. You can not loan out the money and still have that money readily on demand for the depositors. This is impossible. One thing can not be in two places at the same time.

But, this slight-of-hand idea was so advantageous to society because it provided money for investment, expansion and growth, that those involved in profiting from this idea wanted to devise an acceptable method for promoting what was clearly an impossibility. And thus has evolved today what we call the central banking system – and here in the U.S. – “The Federal Reserve.”

So far this system has served to perpetuate an impossible idea. For example, if when Mr. Ponzi had run into his short fall – the point at which his payments going out were greater than his payments coming in – J. P. Morgan or the Rothchilds saw in his scam enormous long term potential and therefore decided to loan him money to carry him over his temporary cash flow problem, the Ponzi scam may have continued indefinitely. But, it would have finally collapsed when Ponzi had finally reached the saturation point. That point being when there was just not enough money available in the world to make the interest payments on all of his promises. In effect Ponzi’s system was a “Designed to Fail” system.

The Central Banking System is similar but much more sophisticated and self-perpetuating. The Central Banking System does not create money from nothing as many people suggest. If it did then this system would self-destruct when the supply of money exceeded the world’s ability to absorb the funding. Would this ever take place considering expanding populations and expanding economic growth throughout the world, and product diversification and artificial demand creation for “wants” in addition to needs? Maybe not ... especially with sensible management.

Inflation is simply the release valve on this money generating steam boiler. If the supply of money comes onto the world faster than the population and the various demand growth factors – you will have inflation. If inflation is allowed to grow too fast or without proper regulation then the bubble of public confidence could burst and economic collapse would be the result.

But this is not the situation which exists with the Central Banking System concept. This present system is based on debt creation. Governments borrow via a system of notes and bonds which are handled for a fee by their Central Banking systems. The central banks collect the vigorish. They handle the sales for the government for a fee – vigorish. [The vigorish is not the problem when we talk of the National Debt. The problem with the National Debt is the interest being collected by the Bond purchaser. The Federal Reserve Bank is just the salesman for the government bonds. It charges and small “commission” which is negligible.]

As I see it this system has more potential points of destruction than does the politically unappealing Creating-Money-from-Nothing System. This system can also destruct from the same causes stated in the non-debt creating system mentioned above. But in addition to this possibility this debt system can also self-destruct from other factors.

It can also self-destruct when and if the interest payment on the created debt obligations becomes greater than the government’s money supply sources. This would be much the same as if your basic payment on your credit card exceeded your income.

Will that ever happen? I don’t know. The inflation safety valve would compensate or, as above, explode due to lack of public confidence. And, of course, there is that same notion of infinite world economic expansion as mentioned above. And then, of course, the government can simply keep creating more and more debt even to pay impossible debt.

How long could such a process go on?

I don’t know. But paying debt with added debt can only go on for so long, before something negative would happen.

The vigorish could also become a problem. In other words the Central Banking fee could become so bloated as to create a debt problem in itself. In other words, the cost of the loan transaction could eventually outweigh any gain from creating the debt in the first place. Right now that fee is 7% as I understand it. If due to inflation that cost were to escalate to 20% or 30% the system would be in big trouble. But by that time the monetary system would probably have already collapsed due to inflation. So maybe that is a specious argument.

An added problem with the Central Banking System is that it has been partnered by the various national governments of the countries who have such systems – which may be every country in the world as far as I know. So instead of the banking system backing itself up via a conglomerate of banking institutions and becoming the bank of last resort for all banks – as is the claim – the government becomes the bank of last resort. The problem here is that in such a system if the bankers decide that they are tired of making money “the old fashioned” way and they would rather do it the easy way. They can simply steal their depositor’s funds, and loan them out by fraudulent and deceptive transactions and then petition the treasury to fund them out of their financial difficulties.

To put this simply, if an unscrupulous banker or group of bankers can figure out a method of divesting their banks of its capital yet still create what appears to be a legitimate paper trail of investments, they can double their personal wealth rather cleverly, simply by ripping-off their Federal or National Government.

The same thing can be done on an international basis via the IMF and the World Banking System. And I am of the opinion that this type of thing has already been done several times over – not only in the historical past, but in the recent past. And it can work both ways in a world system. Not only is it possible for the world banking system to bankrupt individual nations if it so chooses; it is equally possible that cleaver national bankers can swindle the world system. [I think that this technique was used in the U.S. S&L failure and the Commercial bank failure; and in the recent stock market crash; and most recently in the real estate boom and bubble. It is my personal opinion that this is the current method for bankrupting the U.S. Treasury. It began seriously under Reagan and has been escalating under every succeeding Republican administration.

And what is the answer to all of this?

I don’t know.

Brother Kenneth Robert

Lawrence – My Hometown

Brother Kenneth Robert

By Richard E. Noble

In this life we are constantly making judgments about one another. Does he or doesn’t he? Will she or won’t she?
We are forever choosing whether to make a friend of someone or let them pass by.
Being raised in Lawrence brought these day to day decisions to a higher level. Growing up in Lawrence, I asked questions like: Is this person “safe” to know? If we were out drinking together and I go to the bathroom, will this person steal any money that I have left on the bar? Is this person “tough” or is he actually violent and physically dangerous? Insanity being a given in Lawrence, is this person simply ha-ha, hee-hee crazy or is he “criminally” insane? Would he eat a live pigeon while sitting on a park bench at the Common? If I disagree with this person will he become violent and try to kill me or throw me out a second or third floor window? Does this person have a “trigger mechanism”? For example if I say the word “mother” or “sex” or “gawumpki” does saliva begin to dribble from a lower lip or does mucus start seeping from this person’s nose. If I date this Lawrence girl and then decide I’m not interested, will she bring her father’s police revolver to Mass on Sunday and clean it in a pew where I must watch?
Lawrence was different. After I left Lawrence it took a year or two for me to realize that most other males will not kill you just because your back is turned. When out to eat or on the town, it isn’t absolutely necessary to sit with your back to a wall. Which brings me to the story of Brother Kenneth Robert.
Brother Kenneth Robert was sick. This Marist Brother was the overseer of my freshman or sophomore year homeroom. He appeared basically normal but he had a “thing” about food.
Being my homeroom teacher, he also supervised “study” period. Study period came before lunch period. Many children in my homeroom class were hungry by the time study period rolled around and could not wait for lunch period to begin eating their lunch. If Brother Kenneth witnessed anyone nibbling a baloney sandwich, or gobbling a slab of chocolate cake during study period, he went bonkers.
Who would have known? Most other brothers could care less but Brother Kenneth was another story.
I did my homework during study period. I was busy scribbling out my geometry when I witnessed Brother Kenneth having his first “episode.”
I looked up and there he was steaming down the row of desks next to mine. He stopped at the kid sitting aside from me. “Are you eating?” he demanded.
“No Brother. I’m not,” blubbered Nicolas Lippoli. Nicolas’ mouth was full and even saying these few words spattered particles of chocolate cake all over the front of Brother Kenneth’s tunic. Brother Kenneth immediately shifted into “nutty” and began beating poor Nicolas. This first seizure culminated with Brother Kenneth demanding that Nicolas spit the remainder of his cake out of his mouth. Nicolas puked up his cake into the napkin his mother had wrapped it in. He then followed Brother Kenneth’s mandate and deposited his semi-digested cake into a nearby trash can.
Well, that was a little strange, but not completely insane. As the year progressed Brother Kenneth evolved from a basic neurotic with violent tendencies to a definite psychotic with psychopathic seizures and blackouts. When he attacked John Peligrosi for eating his tuna on pumpernickel during study period, I thought he was going to kill the poor kid. He slapped him; he punched him; he kneed him. He knocked his desk over and then punched and kicked him while the kid was trying to squirm away along the classroom floor.
Now other than watching mom and dad at home, I had never seen people act this way in a public setting. This brother was auditioning for One Flew Over the Coo-Coo’s Nest.
When John Peligrosi came to school that next day, he had a shiner and several band aides here and there. I remember thinking at that time about the spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child notion. Certainly one should not be eating a pumpernickel on rye during study period but should a grown adult be punching, kicking and scratching a medium sized boy for such an offence?
Finding such questions beyond my ethical evaluations at that stage, I decided to move on.
Christmas break was on the way and to my shock and disbelief there was John Peligrosi at my desk with an envelope. “Hey, we’re all chipping in a quarter to buy Brother Kenneth a Christmas present. Do you want to chip in?”
I must admit, I found John’s attitude surprising. “You’re collecting quarters to buy Brother Kenneth a Christmas present?” I asked dubiously.
“Well,” he smirked. “It’s going to be a joke. We’re getting him a wallet.”
“A wallet?”
“Yeah. Brothers take a vow of poverty, you know. They can’t have any money. We’re getting him a wallet to break his chops.”
“In that case count me in. Here you go.” I gave him my quarter.
The day before our Christmas vacation, Peligrosi slipped up to Brother Kenneth’s desk before study period began. He dropped a long thin package onto the desk. The package was all decked out in Christmas paper with Santa stickers and a bright red ribbon and bow. The whole class sat clandestinely, smirking but trying to act normal.
Brother Kenneth came into the room sporting his usual grumpy, warden’s face. He stepped up onto the platform where his desk was located. Immediately he spotted the gift. There was an envelope with a card attached. He reached hesitantly for the card. He removed the card from the envelope and read it. He stood frozen, captured by the sentiment. When he looked up at the class tears were streaming down his cheeks. He started bawling like a baby. He turned his back to the class and fumbled inside his tunic searching for a hanky. He blew his nose and wiped his eyes. He took a few minutes to compose himself then walked around to the front of his desk. He sat on the edge of the desk. The room was quiet. We were all shocked. Everyone was rolling their eyes and shrugging their shoulders in disbelief.
“You know,” said Brother Kenneth turning the package over in his hands. “All this time I thought that you guys didn’t even like me.” Everybody laughed and looked cross-eyed at one another. “No really,” Brother Kenneth continued. “Some of the other brothers told me that they had received gifts from their students but I never thought in my wildest dreams that you guys would buy me something.” He choked up and started crying again. “I don’t know what to say,” he bawled.
After an awkward silence, Peligrosi yelled, “Open up your present, Brother.” And then Peligrosi snickered. The rest of us sat there dismayed and guilty. Brother Kenneth would open it up; see that it was a wallet and then realize that the whole thing was a joke. What would he do then?
He fumbled like a two year old ripping off the bow and the ribbon and then the Santa Christmas paper. When he saw that it was a wallet, he beamed. “Oh my gosh, what a beautiful wallet! I know that you guys probably don’t realize this but as a Marist Brother we all take a vow of poverty, so I don’t have any money to put into this wallet. But I have family pictures of my brothers and sisters and my mom and dad that I can put in here. You guys have made the best Christmas I have ever had. This is the first year that I won’t be seeing my family at Christams time and you’re my first homeroom class ever. My dad passed away last year and my brothers and sisters are all grown and off on their own. But now – thanks to you guys – I can have everybody right here in my very own wallet. I’ll never forget you guys and this kindness.” He put his head down and rushed out of the classroom overcome and weeping.
We were all stunned. We sat there staring up at the desk where Brother Kenneth had been standing. Then, just as if someone had given a cue or pulled a string, we all turned and stared at Peligrosi. He stared back roaming from one stern face to the next. He then threw his arms up in the air. “How the hell would I know?” he grumbled apologetically. “I didn’t even think the big pr–k had a mother and father.”

Richard E. Noble was raised in Lawrence, Ma. and is now a freelance writer. He has published 7 books. Two of them have Lawrence as their setting, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. A Little Something is a book of poetry with portions inspired by life in Lawrence. Hobo-ing America, is an unusual workingman’s tour of the U.S.A. The Eastpointer is selected pieces from his award winning column about life in a sleepy fishing village in the Florida Panhandle.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Hobo Philosopher

On Economics

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.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

What’s Wrong with Minimum Wages?

Why Don’t We Just Leave the Well-off Alone?

By Richard E. Noble

I have worked for minimum wage or below for the majority of my employment career - which started when I was about ten years old. I have always known that it is because of me that the world, at large, and the U.S. in particular, has been going to hell in a handbag. My bosses have explained this to me over and over.
You see, it is because of my demanding this exorbitant minimum wage that we have inflation, constantly escalating prices, unemployment, teenagers idling on street corners and a vanishing industrial and manufacturing base.
Strangely enough, people who make exorbitant paychecks and profits as owners of businesses and CEOs and CFOs, and Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists, Stock brokers, people receiving dividends from their stock portfolios and Indian chiefs who own gambling casinos in Miami have just the opposite effect on the economy. Their pay increases do not cause inflation or increase prices; instead their extra money acts as a stimulus to the economy, promotes investment at home and abroad, creates jobs everywhere and, in general, makes the world a better place for everybody to live.
It goes like this: if you give Michael Jordan or some such wealthy person another billion dollars a week, as opposed to giving another dollar a week to each employee at the Nike factory in Slumbovia, or Bumslavia, or Weallstarvingistan - nothing negative, economically, occurs. Prices do not go up because Michael Jordan or another among the minority of the rich has more money. They already have everything they ever wanted. They don’t need to buy anything. How many Hummers, BMWs, yachts, and diamond rings can one person have? Besides if the price of a quarter mile long yacht goes from 147 million to 150 million who would notice. This increase wouldn’t even make it into the pages of Money Magazine.
You can give all the money you want to rich people and nothing in the economic world will change. This is an economic fact that was proven in the laboratory of real life economic science in 1929 by that great American monetary savant, Herbert Hoover. And in recent times this miracle was duplicated by G.W. Bush – another economic genius.
On the other hand, an extra dollar in the pockets of a bunch of poor people automatically throws any economy into a tailspin. Right off, the price of M-D 20-20 skyrockets along with bread, peanut butter, and Chevrolet automobiles. This hits the commodity and retail markets immediately. The price of grain and legumes all over the world goes nuts. Farmers instantly begin double cropping, planting in-between the rows, and doubling up on fertilizers and polluting pesticides; government subsidies go through the roof, while profits to the farmers go down and the price of a tomato at the IGA in Wisconsin goes to a buck-fifty apiece. General Motors has to increase production, but the cost of labor in the U.S. is bankrupting them; so their new plant in China gets the contract while the DuPont family sells off all of their shares in Aunt Jemima Pancakes. It’s chaos.
If I, and those of my ilk, were willing to work for half or one third of minimum wage, my boss then could hire two or three more morons like me and, of course, the unemployment problem would vanish. This would also, more than likely, solve the illegal immigrant problem besides.
You see, if I were willing to pick tomatoes and sleep in an abandon building or old slave cottage or a farmer’s barn or root cellar while defecating in the woods or orchards or behind the hedges of better-off people in the San Bernardino mountains like illegal immigrants do, then the farmers would not have to encourage Coyotes to smuggle poor Mexicans and Central Americans across the Rio Grande and into Miami, Seattle, New York, New Jersey and Kalamazoo Michigan. Nor would they have to continue to falsify their labor and Social Security reports.
But because I, and others like me, are unwilling to do this, these poor farmers and packing house owners, and cottage-garment industry sweat-shop owners, and restaurant and construction company owners and landscapers, and concrete company and gas station owners, and grocery stores, and chicken and beef processing houses, and home cleaning and domestic services, and large chain department stores etc., all have to do all of these illegal, immoral things.
We minimum wage earners are like the pornographic video and bookstores in Holyoake, Missouri – we are the evil temptresses that lure the Jimmy Swaggarts and Tammy Faye Bakers into the snake pit of moral depravity; we are the Chunky Cheeses to the video game addict; we are the irresistible impulse luring the unsuspecting all over the world – we are the ones who are ruining the economic world. It is us, with our benign satisfaction with mediocrity, or unwillingness to achieve, and our ignorant and obstinate choice to remain unsuccessful.
Why is it that we continually choose to work at JR stores, and wash dishes in greasy-spoon type restaurants who provide no health insurance? Why do we continually take up residence in crime ridden ghettoes? Why the heck don’t we just move; why don’t we make application to better universities; why do we accept advice and principles from parents who are even dumber than we are?
All of our kind hearted, generous employers are, of course, very good people; they are not criminals. They are as responsible and as civic minded as any banker, for god’s sake – it’s us; it’s me. And, you know, I don’t know what is wrong with me. I don’t know why I act like this. I have tried to get help for this problem but I have been unable to find any psychiatrists who are willing to work for minimum wage. They feel that if they work for any less than one hundred dollars a minute, research in mental health will be abandoned and more nutty folks, like myself, will be put out onto the sidewalks and alleyways of the American inner cities. This, of course, will increase the perv quotient, promote crime, juvenile delinquency and the threat of terrorism everywhere.
It was because of people like me, way back when, demanding their pays to be raised to a minimum that forced the textile mills to leave New England. It was the same type of ugly Americans in the Midwest and eventually in the South that forced these poor, patriotic hard working mill owners to go to South America, India and Asia where now, unfortunately, they are forced to deal with the same type ungrateful breed over there. We minimum wage earners keep breeding like flies – there seems to be no end to our kind.
What is the matter with us minimum wage workers? When will we ever learn?
If we continually ask for more money, this just makes the prices of things rise; and after the prices go up, we still don’t have any more money than we used to have. So what is the sense to it? What will it take for us to learn that we must figure out how to live on whatever it is that the boss is willing to pay us?
We certainly can’t ask the bosses to take less money. Why just look around, they are barely getting by on what they have now. And besides, there are so few of them and so many of us. I mean, if we took all the money from the 10% who own and control everything – all the rich people in the world – and divided it up among all the poor in the world, the price of peanut butter and jelly in the U.S. would be a thousand dollars a jar. M-D 20-20 would only be served at fine restaurants. Golf courses would disappear and America would become one huge bowling alley. Yes, every other cardboard house that the poor have built in the garbage dumps of the world might get a new tin roof – big deal.
Poor people just don’t seem to understand, if God wanted poor people to be better off, He wouldn’t have created Conservatives.