Blog Archive

Monday, July 27, 2015

Audeamus!



I'm reading a particularly dense and scholarly book,”The Enlightenment and it's Effects on Modern Society”, by a Professor at the University of North Texas, one Milan Zafirovski.
As is my habit, I have made periodic searches for some confirmation of my own conception, that the “conservative” Counter-Revolution, and it's pre-cursors, is, at root, an Anti-Enlightenment Project.
After many years of such searches, the Professor's work is all I've been able to find.
So I tested the re-animated(Texas) Interlibrary Loan System and was(Mirable!) able to procure this tome.
I arrived at this hypothesis regarding the fundamental nature of “conservatism” during my research frenzy, still ongoing, into the source material of Conservatism...from Burke to Buckley to Beck.
From the rise of Religious Fundamentalism to the narrowing of our Public Discourse and the essential Dogmatism entailed in our current Economic Paradigm, I see evidence all around us of Anti-Enlightenment:
Systemic destruction of all things Public, from Education to Worker Rights to Essential Freedoms....like the Rights of Speech and Protest, and the implementation of a Police State in the purported “Land of the Free”, and the thinly veiled Threats to Freedom of Thought strongly implied in the utterances and practices of various Right Wing politicians(“watch what you say”) to the rampant Nationalism and Militarism and Intolerance of the Different and the Dissenter.
We are shouted down by fearful and incurious rubes, both true believers and the paid kind. Let someone Critique some portion of the “conservative” Dogma...be it Biblical Literalism, or the assertion, with cherry picked “evidence” that we are a “christian nation”, or the related assertion that Neoliberalism/Corporate “Capitalism” is the Only Option for Economics...and the Defenders of the Faith emerge, screaming, to disrupt and derail fruitful discourse.
Our History has been increasingly Sanitised...shorn of the Progress made by all manner of courageous “malcontents” and “disturbers of the peace”...from the Progressive Movement, the Labour Movement, the Suffragettes...to the Civil Rights and Anti-War and Anti-Corporate uprisings, from the 1960's onward.
The promise of Free Information inherent in the “Information Age” has been forsaken, as Science and Humanism is derided and Scholarly endeavors are hidden behind paywalls and all are stricken from History textbooks in favor of a circumscribed and limited reading of our History and Progress, that at the same time, offers Apologia for the worst among the Anti-Enlightenment Zealots...a rehabilitated Joe McCarthy, or Jesse Helms, or Ronald Reagan.
Through Confusion and Distortion, those who would take us backwards to Feudalism and a Dark Age have...with great subtlety...delimited Thought, Narrowed the Possible...
Look around you....widespread Anti-Rationalism, Anti-Intellectualism, Palingenisis(a confused longing for a mythical Golden Age(1950's),and the corollaries, Militarism, Fundamentalism, A-Historicity...
The pressure to Conform, and to subvert the Free Expression of those deemed, “Immoral”, or “Strange” or “Dangerous”.
(which is the story of my life)
The fact that I had such a difficult time finding and acquiring a scholarly rendering of my suspicions says volumes, to me.




(http://www.columbia.edu/acis/ets/CCREAD/etscc/kant.html)

With Kant, I implore:”Sapere Aude!”...Let us Dare to Think...to Reason...and to Apply that Thought and Reason to the world around us.
Because there are forces arrayed, in plain sight, who would chain our minds, as well as our bodies, and force us all into the hell on earth that they long for, and think that we deserve.


(http://www.amazon.com/The-Enlightenment-Effects-Modern-Society/dp/1441973869)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Terrible Potential of Trump.



I was as surprised as anyone else, when polls showed Donald Trump as the frontrunner...in spite of the GOP “establishment's” efforts at putting him back in his bottle.
Here is the quintessential Tea Party Great Leader...almost messianic...the One they've been waiting for.
After almost seven years of Denials and Coded Language and Euphemism, twisting themselves into knots to try to put the Tea back where it came from...to somehow confuse everyone enough that we wouldn't see what the Tea Movement was really all about...perhaps the elevation of Trump will finally overwhelm those efforts.
“Mainstream” Republicans...which includes folks like Ted Cruz(ha!)...at first dismissed Trump's outrageousness as somehow anomalous...
Some still do.
Cruz and others have given in, after looking at the latest polls, and embraced the message of Trump.
Here is Berzelius (“Buzz”) Windrip, made manifest.
An ideologue par excellence.
Most folks that I know on-line who are of the Right are for just about everyone else except Trump.
Jeb Bush is the current favorite.
But in the Real World of the Texas Hill Country, it's Trump.
I've overheard his name, in a positive manner, in gas stations and feed stores and in the produce aisle.
He's mentioned with a sense of hope and vengeance in the places on-line where the Locals go, and in which I lurk.
His Message could be lifted right out of Sinclair Lewis' terrifying warning of a book, “It Can't Happen Here”.
Indeed, it is as if Trump and whomever advises him took Umberto Eco's and Paxton's taxonomy of Fascism and by their Dark Arts summoned them into corporeal form.
Now, the Gerrymandering and tainted Voting Machines and Voter Suppression may have lost their luster for the Establishment of the GOP.
Tea was created and enraged and set loose,and this Creature has not only attacked all things Liberal...as intended...it has also turned on it's would-be Masters.
For 6 years, those Masters have attempted to keep a hold on the reins of their Vicious Pets, with decreasing effectiveness.
The Beast managed to get itself into the Halls of Power, and into Leadership Positions, and has effectively escaped the Paddock.
A True Tea Party President is the last thing the Masters wanted...the Beast was supposed to work for them, after all...help them maintain their increasingly tenuous hold on relevance.
At the same time, the Democrats are beginning their own Civil War...the Corpo-Dems, inheritors of the old DLC, are up against a real Socialist...with an effective Populist Message.
The similarities to Germany, 1929, are striking.
There are also parallels to the slow motion Collapse of Rome.
The latter took several Centuries to fall to pieces;the former, under 20 years.
Look to Napoleon, as well.
If you are in a Tea-colored area, pay attention.
Listen in the grocery store, watch the body language.
If you are in one of the more Liberal areas, stay there.
Liberals in the Occupied Zones will need a place to run to.
(it's a big book, but I encourage everyone to read William Shirer's 'Rise and Fall of the Third Reich'.
A good companion is “They Thought They Were Free...”, and Sinclair Lewis' book, mentioned above.)
For all of you Hidden Liberals in the Red Zones, keep a diary...hide it if you must...or stick it online on an anonymous blog.
Feral Journalists will be important, because I think we may be heading towards interesting and illuminating times.
“Apocalypse” does not denote the “End of the World”, outside of our ignorant popular culture: it instead means,”Pulling Aside the Veil”...Revealing the Reality of things.
I think a lot of our worst suspicions will soon be confirmed...all those things that polite civility* and Godwin's Law have prevented us from saying for so long.
(* I've encountered vanishingly few people of the Right who have practiced these niceties, but a great many who have ignored them totally, in order to make Liberals into the Proto-Fascists.)

The Great Three Legged Stool of the American Right...composed of the “Establishment”, the Libertarians and the “Christian Right”...that's been in place since the mid 1970's, has been getting more and more unstable.
Tea is a coalition of the Christian Right, and that portion of the Libertarian Wing that is on the lower end of the intelligence scale-- Hacks, in other words.
The Libertarian Lumpenproletariat, the Anti-Government, the Neo-Confederates, and the most vocal and incoherent of the Christo-Fascists are feeling Empowered right now.(How many states have their boys in power, right now?)
At least Consciously.
Unconsciously, they are secretly terrified of losing their Pride of Place in American Society.
California became Majority Hispanic just the other day...Kansas is not a Randian Paradise...nor are any of the other states where the Right has been in charge.
Greece is (hopefully) contributing dramatically to the message, already articulated by such diverse places as Iceland and Argentine and Bolivia, that Neoliberalism is not the only way....Thank heavens, because it doesn't seem to work as advertised.
Turns out that there are Alternatives(see”TINA-Margaret Thatcher”).
Gay People can get married, Obamacare still lives, and there is a growing movement of Black Folks and their Allies to finish killing Jim Crow.
Things look shaky from the American Right's perspective.
They have convinced themselves(with considerable help from the Establishment Right) that Obama is the AntiChrist, inflicting Communism upon the body of America.
Now Left Wing Christians are stepping up and challenging their Righty Brethren for their Pretend Martyrdom, attempting at long last to wrest total control of the public face of Christiandom from the most unChristlike people on the planet.
The Pope has joined the fray.
This is all perceived as a Resurgent Left...which, in a way, it is; but it is also something more: I think of it as a further Normalisation of a few more of the Ideals of the Left.
The seeds of this have been percolating away in corners since the Right's Counterrevolution began...the 60's are rippling around us again, after all these years.
These myriad phenomena, and more, are a Felt Thing on the Right...they feel it in their bones, and after all the remarkably long-lived Incoherence, it is taking shape.
Go you now and Lurk in their Fora.
Look to the Comments from ordinary folks.
And Eavesdrop!
If you're in the Red Zone, the proof is all around you.
“Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
….......................................

Fascism has no easy and comfortable Antonym.

Anti-Fascism will have to serve.
“Liberal” and “Progressive” long ago were corrupted.
I've tried to reclaim them, as have many others, but they no longer contain the Unifying connotations that they once did.
“Democrat”, too...by the fault of the same Mindfuck Machine, as well as by movers and shakers within the Democratic Party who think it Prudent to continue to veer Rightward.
The word “Libertarian” also has diminished, and “Right Wing” has accreted to the front end of it.
I have had giddy thought lately that “Socialism”, or at least “Social Democrat” would have purchase...that would be sweet!...but it is hardly a done deal.
“Anti-Fascist” is what I'll be, for the time being.
Evidence that the Right, at least the Establishment and the Christians, are essentially Fascist is all around us...and ever more Visible.
The Libertarians are tying themselves in knots, rhetorically, after so many of their former exemplary Models have gone awry: they are having pains to justify more “reform”. At some point, the Business Class...the Uber-Rich....1% who run everything, will be forced to make a Choice(heretikos).
If they see outright Fascism, with a decidedly Handmaid's Tale-bent, as a thing they could live with, and even use to their advantage, that's which side they will choose.
Hyper-Militant, Xeno-Phobic, Racist, with a visceral Hatred of Muslims, Immigrants, and everybody else.
Subject to Jingoism, they will fling themselves on any enemy presented convincingly to them...the Boil is on the verge of popping.
All it will take is a Singular Event, of sufficient size and emotional content, to prick that membrane.





Models and Maps

and what went wrong with economics

The problem I have with “fiscal conservatives” is different in some ways than the problems I have with the more Libertarian variety...but there are many more similarities.
The fundamental similarity, of course, is Certainty.
Both tend to enter into a discussion already completely convinced that their Belief is the only correct belief, and thus, fail to consider any flaws or inconsistencies that may be pointed out.
The Fiscal Cons tend to be less prone to Market Worship, but this is only a matter of degree.
Both have the unfortunate inability to admit that they were ever wrong, regarding their predictions and the reasoning behind them. Their Assumptions are, as a sort of unspoken Rule, never Examined.
As the Reagan Revolution, the Great Experiment in Supply Side, Monetarist, Deregulatory* and, ultimately, Corporatist Economic Policy ,has rolled on,there have been many opportunities to compare the Predictions and Expectations, with actual real world Results.
Reason...and the Scientific Method...demands such, often uncomfortable, scrutiny...
But, beginning with Reagan, this necessary Scrutiny of Results began to be seen as Heretical....”Mainstream”(that is, Chicago School/Neoliberal) Economics moved into the realm of Religion, rather than Science—without openly acknowledging the shift.
It became Taboo to suggest that the move had happened...and this, concurrently with the Mindfuck I'm always referring to, caused the transition to what we have today: Surreality, rather than Objective Reality.
Empiricism in Economics was abandoned without fanfare, and Belief became paramount.
The phrase “Free Market” became the new Faith...the new Religion.
In the meantime, the US and Global Economies stuttered and lurched and utterly changed.
Domestic Economic Policy became disconnected from what was actually happening, out in the world.
Economists scrutinised their Maps of the Economic World, and believed real hard in the applicability of those Maps, in spite of the apparent dysfunctions inherent in Globalisation....including Labor Arbitrage, and the movement of Corporations into a Supranational Cosmopolitanism.
The World had changed, but the Maps had not.
Rather than admitting to the Changes to the terrain...which would require acknowledging that they had not foreseen many of the dysfunctions...and that they had utterly and willfully Ignored many others...”Mainstream” Economists insisted that their opponents were delusional---just “Big Government Liberals”, and “Losers, bitter over their inability to compete”--in other words, folks who should be ignored....and who already had received their Just Desserts.
From the failure of Bretton Woods, due to Oil Shocks, the overwhelming success of the Marshall Plan, and the perceptions of many folks in the wider world that they were being forced to play a subservient second fiddle to US Corporate Interests....as well as the Nixon Shock, and the resulting Stagflation...all the way to the Reagan-Thatcher Hegemony(TINA)...Economic Models consistently Diverged from Objective Reality.
A Dogmatic Orthodoxy prevented adaptation to new circumstances, largely due to the reluctance to leave the Necessary and Corollary changes in Power Structure and Distribution to chance: the Owners/Aristocracy liked the Power right where it was...so much for the “Free Market”.
As with all Hegemonies, throughout History, Power corrupts inasmuch as it attempts to Arrest Change...for the maintenance of it's own narrow interests.(Popper)
Under the Battle Cry of Fiscal Responsibility, from Reagan onward, we entered a period of almost total Irresponsibility.
Privatisation...removing as much of the Commons from the Public Sphere as possible, and “Deregulation”...which amounted to Deregulating the Very Large, and effectively undoing the New Deal constraints on the Fire Economy, both contributed to repeated instances of Market Failures and the Grandest of Larcenies...all lain at the feet of the Remnant Liberalism, by this time relegated to ineffectiveness and compromise—weeping in the corner.
At each instance of Failure and/or Larceny, the Big Banks performed Thaumaturgy on ever greater scales...coaxing “Growth” from an already moribund and exhausted world system:
CDO's, Derivatives, Swaps of worthless paper backed by increasingly esoteric Acts of Faith—convoluted trading schema involving faster than light trades of fractions of a cent...increasingly internationally interlocked systems of Banking and Insurance and Reinsurance and deals and collusions....all designed, as near as I can tell, to Hide from Public Scrutiny the Machinations of Wealth, and the monstrous instability and dysfunction...let alone the criminality...of Modern “Capitalism”(which is really something else, entirely).
All through this period, the Mindfuck machinery was working overtime...the Great Wurlitzer of Confusion and Fear and Hatred ground on, obfuscating and distracting the People...giving them all manner of Red Herrings to chase and fight over....imposing Just World-ism, so that the Fish blamed themselves, rather than those who had poisoned the water...and always presenting those who opposed the System as Evil, of one sort or another:
Libtards...Commies...Soshulists...Lazy Poor..Lazy and Murderous Black People...Drug Addled Teat Suckers, and...once the Evil Empire crumbled to dust so unexpectedly....Terrists!
...Under every bed, shoving aside the corpses of the Commies who once resided there among the dust bunnies and night sweats.
But then!...
Some minor functionary at Bear Stearns left a door ajar, and the Blazing Light of Reality flooded in...and the whole edifice of Nonsense fell apart.
This coincided with the deepest penumbra of the Bush Darkness, when the Lumpenbillies and “fiscal conservatives” and their fellows in the Rabid Choir of Right Wing Pseudo-Xianity, had everything they had ever dreamed of in a government, and began to realise that things were not at all Utopian...that, indeed, it was all built on Hot Air and empty promises.
Enter Tea...and then the soon stamped down Occupy...and the Confusion grew exponentially...right in time for the entrance of a Black Constitutional Law Professor, with mad rhetorical skills.
Obama continued the nascent Bush “fixes”...bailouts of the Very Large Banks whose gambling habits and hubris had all but invited the Goddess Nemesis into the halls of worldly Power....and a paltry and weak not-really-a-bailout of Mainstreet, who were the real victims in all of these shenanigans.
Soon, the Casinos were at full tilt, again...Trillions of Dollars in Secret Bailouts, on top of the already ridiculously generous Bailouts in Public, fueled more and more excessive risk taking(with other people's money, of course)...and now, today, we are at the cusp of yet another episode in Dysfunction and an even Grander Larceny.
Meanwhile, across the Pond, Europe is experiencing the entirely predictable fallout of implementing the very same Neoliberal, Casino-Style Economics...first, Iceland, whose People had the foresight and the Stones to actually jail the Banksters, and flip the bird to the International Money Cartel.
Now, it's Greece...soon, Italy, Spain, and many of the Eastern European Periphery...Trickle Down has failed again, and the attempts to shore up the rickety pile of sticks by “Austerity”(that is, on the backs of the Poor and Middle Class, so that the Very Rich can continue their Parasitic Largesse), have only served to further depress economic activity, while filling the streets and neighborhoods with Righteous Anger.
We are reaching the bleeding edge of a Crisis unlike any since 1929...in so many ways, with the very real potential to be much, much worse than that Benchmark of Stupidity and Hubris.
With Climate Change and all the disruptions that go with it, and the looming Resource Shortages...both Realities bad enough to finally slip out from under the Rug of Mindfuckian denial...we're all in for a rough ride.
China, too, is having difficulties...after 35+ years of being in possession of America's Manufacturing Sector, the Workers there are ever more demanding of the Baywatch and “Friends!” Lifestyle they see on TV. Their lack of environmental controls are making the air a cancerous soup...and Revolution is in the very air.
Right Wing Populism, in Europe and especially in America, threatens to undo the Enlightenment Project, once and for all...it is still unknown if the would be Masters will pick that ravening beast to ride.
At the same time, a Resurgent Left...both in Europe, where it's not all that unusual...and in the USA, where the Left was thought to have been utterly defeated...is making waves.
Bernie Sanders, the Greek Syriza and even the Pope! Are attempting to rehabilitate Socialism, sans the Totalitarian Parts...in much the same way that Scandinavia did, after World War 2(the Nordic Model is in a lesser degree of trouble, only due to the recent machinations of their own would be Neoliberal Masters, but their Public is much more leery of such fantasizing).
The Death Star of Derivatives and Debt that can never be paid...amounting to some orders of magnitude above the level of actual, tangible wealth in the entire world...is de-orbiting ominously.
This is where the Masters of the Universe parked all the dysfunctional ridiculousness whereby they propped up their Casino. When it crashes, at last, Reality will intrude...and the Neoliberal Casino System will collapse.
There's nowhere left to Hide their Incoherence and Paper Fixes.
I expect this in the near term...which we have all said before,lol...
But it looks very real, now.
Collect what Materials you reckon you will need, now....and prepare for the inevitable Lashing Out of our Right Wing brethren.
They will blame all things Liberal, and...if the Masters choose that Beast...there is a very real chance of a new Dark Age, and a reanimated Feudalism, mixed with an even more opaque and hard to delineate Fascism.
If the Left, and therefore the People, manage to take back control...and do not succumb to the Neoliberal-Lite of Hillary and her European analogs...there may still be some small chance of a managed decline to a lower level of Human Activity.
The Laws of Carbon and a Finite Planet demand this, and we'll have to very quickly figure out how to live with, at best, Steady State...but more likely, Decline.
Humans have never attempted either on such a grand scale; only in small, reluctant and regional crises. Our very DNA compels us to Expand.
Since this no longer obtains on our little world, Humans have three choices: to go out into the stars, at great expense...to enter the harsh reality of Limits...or some combination of both.
The fourth, unspoken choice...and still the most likely(especially given a new Dark Age)...is Extinction, and a Hell on Earth that will please no one but the most hard-core Fundamentalists of the Abrahamic Faiths.

I find that I am ever so weary of attempting to “debate” with the Lumpenbillies, so I have abandoned my various “debate” groups.
Life is too short for such Troll Wrangling, save in the interest of science.








Monday, June 8, 2015

Poverty and Myth, epissode #10,237



I was shocked this week to be confronted with someone who insisted that some giant majority of welfare recipients are deliberately having babies in order to “get a bigger check”.
She could provide no evidence for this assertion, other than unverifiable anecdotal “friend of a friend told me so”.
Another pervasive Myth has also reared it's head this week, that “poor=lazy”.
And yet another, that Poverty is the result of low morals and single-parenthood.
None of the people making these assertions could provide hard evidence to support them....nor could they prove the Causal Relationships contained in such assertions.
And none of them made any mention of the 35 year experiment in Wage Stagnation, other than to deny it's relevance and even it's existence.
Race is sublimated into these discussions, frequently...often unconsciously.
A job is a job is a job...and the Myth persists that if one would merely get off the porch, get a job(any job) and work hard, everything would be fine.
As I've been hammering away at for years, the water we swim in is never considered.
The Fish are to be blamed for their poor health....water quality be damned.
It doesn't seem to matter when giant piles of data are brought to bear against this system of Myth.
One hears about the “Dignifying Power of Work”....as if working, itself is it's own reward, no matter that you're working for peanuts, in a job with a horrible boss who thinks that a 10 cent raise is cause for rejoice.
One also hears that the various Welfare Programs are , somehow, a “Disincentive” to get out there and get a job.
This last is particularly odious...it relies on the Assumption that Welfare is, somehow, living High on the Hog....that relying on Foodstamps to supplement one's meager wages in order to be able to “put food on your family” means lobster and caviar.
In my life, to throw anecdotes of my own, I have indeed met a vanishingly small minority of folks who “Game the System”....but it never lasts for long. There are checks that are quite effective in weeding those people out.
And at any rate, such perfidy is very hard to do.
The System is so concerned that someone may get something that they do not deserve, that it errs on the side of dysfunction. A great number of folks who are perfectly entitled and deserving of such help, do not get it...because of the time consuming and byzantine gauntlet one must run in order to qualify.
Many are left out because of the pervasive stigma, itself....that Mythology that paints a big red L on anyone who uses an EBT card.(L is for “Lazy”, but there are other words that are flung at Poor Folks who deign to seek a helping hand)
A little anecdotal digression: all but one of the folks I have known who willfully attempt to “Game the System” were White and Hard Core Republican.
And all but two of them ended up either in jail, or on probation.

Another variety of dissent and denial that there is a problem, are those Free Market Fundamentalists who see a Living Wage as a travesty.
Who think that Minimum Wage actually causes Poverty, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.
“The Market will take care of it, if we would just kill government and let the Market work.”
I have even less patience for these folks,lol.
Where do you even begin, when the very Foundations of their argument are so very flawed?
Having been low wage(food service) for my adult life, I know perfectly well that if any of my bosses had been allowed to pay their cooks less, they would have been quick to do so.
The Free Marketers then say, “well...go look for another job”...forgetting the relative scarcity of jobs out there, as well as the problem that all those other hypothetical jobs pay just as little, and are operating under the same assumptions...and overlooking the hard fact that when jobs are scarce, the prospective employee has no bargaining power.
There is a Food Bank on the corner. It's run by a collection of local churches, with a little shaky support from various government programs...that often come with some rather crazy strings attached, again...rooted in the Unexamined Assumptions.
I support this Food Bank, when I can. We give them our surplus eggs(which is illegal, it turns out...just more systemic roadblocks, based on assumptions, that prevent us from actually tackling the problems)
But I take issue with some of the methods employed there.
Desperately poor people, who often work like the dickens, but still cannot adequately feed themselves, are given a sermon before they are given access to the donated food.
It is an opportunity to evangelise. One must run a sort of gauntlet of well meaning lay preachers who will tell you that if you would only accept Jesus into your heart, everything would be fine.
If you, dear reader, are an Evangelical Christian, you likely do not see the problem, there....which is, in itself, a large part of the overall Problem:
failure to put yourself into the shoes of those you are trying to help.
This is probably the biggest problem of all, in getting to the Roots of Poverty.
The Free Marketer, the Unconscious Racist, the well meaning Christian...all of them share a reliance on Unexamined Assumptions about the Causes of,and Remedies for, Poverty...and they all reliably fail to even attempt to put themselves into the shoes of the Poor.
It is so much easier to say ”lack of morals”,”Lazy”,and all the rest, than to dig into the roots...because then you might have to change your opinion, not only about Poverty, but about economics, politics, and all the social and cultural things that we often take for granted, when we, ourselves, are not Poor.
It's easy for the well off to say,”get a job” and wash their hands of the issue.
Their Assumptions....and the world view that is based on them...are made safe that way.
It is hard to look at those Assumptions, and then abandon those that do not comport with Objective Reality....let alone Reality as Perceived by someone standing in a very different life-space from you.



This is a good way to spend an hour and a half, if you're really interested in finding solutions to the problem of Poverty in the USA.(which, of course, is predicated on acknowledging that there IS a problem)

Jonah



Swallowed Up, but....
(http://www.politicususa.com/2015/02/20/report-msnbc-ditch-liberal-hosts-move-left-wing-tv.html)
...We can still be spit out, if We are Distasteful enough . (Budong)

You can kill my source, if you want to...
It doesn't matter.
It's happening in spite of your Belief.

I watch Rachel Maddow online in the morning with coffee.
Since the merger, the online part of MSNBC has gotten steadily worse....as if they had purposefully hired the worst IT People they could find.
If I were a giant media company, I would be embarrassed to put my name to such a poor product.

Reckon that Comcast is Post-Officing Msnbc.
Making it Clunky, so that the Bean Counters will be justified in re-arranging things in a less Liberal manner, blaming the Market(holy,holy) all the while.
Why would a business that is interested in Profit above all other things (world without end), do such a thing?

It will be 2016 sooner than you think.

Comcast is taking one for the Team.

In order to Fight Bernie Sanders.

(see?!...they do know what “compromise” means)

Msnbc , for good or ill, is the ONLY thing that passes for Liberal Cable/Satellite News in America, right now.
And it's just Center-Left....maybe even Center right!
“Moderate”, we would have named it, 40 years ago.
“Centrist”.
But it uses the Right's Narrative, not Ours.
The Actual Liberal Media is scattered and leaderless...in the wilderness.
From Save the Whales to Medicare for All to Eat the Rich....
Disparate leads to Lonely Dispair.
Collectively, such creatures have only tacit connection to one another.
Little Kingdoms, on widely separated little hills, mere threads in between them.
Because We have no Narrative of Our own....instead We use Theirs';
Designed to Belittle Us. Field Tested to Deride any Alternative without Thought(Luntzed)

Sitting in the middle of all of this, is the moribund Democratic Party.
They have a lock on all things official, on what remains of the Liberal Side(like stats and demographics and databases), but they are not really liberal, themselves.
Clinton's Folly still holds them to the Oaths they took to the Corporate State.
They are ineffective, mostly....and often on purpose.
Thralls to Moloch.
'It costs money', they insist, on bloody knees.
'And all the money is in the Corps(e).
So we must worship the Machine therein.'

All the while, outside, lost and alone,
or in little groups, spread like gossamer across the land,
are what used to be the Liberal Base.
Some have sworn fealty to the Right-- while holding their noses, or not...gotta live, after all...and the System Selects for Psychopathy.

Some are lost in Distraction...tv sports clubs and trade days/the Mall.
All the things we do to divide ourselves from one another.
Some have given up....or started Fighting in another way...
Burning Man, Firefly.
Marleyfest.
Living out loud.....but quietly, so as to sort of blend in-- on the margins, flouting convention.
But all alone, or in far-flung little groups ...again, just barely connected,
like gossamer.

Ranting on Facebook ain't gonna get it done,
this Great Work.


This will take emerging from the back yard...from the living room....from the Closet. This will take Front Yards, and Parks, and Streets.
(plant Vegetables in yer front yard and Give them away)

It will also take: either 1.overwhelming our own damned Party...2.going, en masse, with the Greens...or 3., forming something New to better Represent Our Interests.
Polite Disagreement, and the Veiled Rhetoric of Mild Outrage, can
no longer be accepted.
It simply hasn't worked.
Not good enough.
The People...those I haphazardly enumerated above—that great amorphous mass...including those who pay no attention to such trifles as Politics....
They are Legion.
They are Waiting.
We are Legion.
We are Waiting.
Waiting til that time that We know that We are not alone....in our outrage, and in our Frustration.
Hiding in the proverbial, if not the Literal, Hills. Waiting to be a Part of Something...a Tribe a Clan or a Nation.
We must find a Narrative to coax...even shock...them out.
To Wake them.
Enrage them , even>
Let them know that they are not alone.
We have the Negative Theology down pat....we can spell out, with fervor, what we are not.
We need to figure out what We Are.
And then Speak it.
To whomever will Listen.

Reclaim Liberty from the Right.
For They have abused it.
Reclaim Patriotism, while we're at it.
For They have soiled the flag, and what it stands for:
Radical Inclusion.
Us.
We.
(!! Let them keep their Narrow Little Worlds!)
Those who oppose us are not the Enemy....merely the Fooled; Cousins, lost in the Fog.
The Enemy is the Gospel of Greed...of Dog eat Dog....of Kick the Burning Ladder Down!
Piss on Our Heads.
Of “I got Mine”.

Together we can find a cure.

{You Christians among us...please Reclaim Christ!!....(Matt.25!!)The Philistines have stolen Jesus from you!}

Reciprocity (the Golden Rule) is a fine place to start.
Our Society...Our Civilisation...should be a Reflection of Us.
Not the eldritch shadow we see today....where Avarice is the Highest Good, and Money the only Ideal Metric of Worth.

Eudaemonia is a Joint Endeavor!
How do We define Our Civilisation?!
Happiness? Fullfillment? Let Us Think about these things, for
This is Ours to figure out...Not have it dictated by the Boss, the Agent, or the Preacher....let alone the Congresscritter(Our employee)....or the Cop(also Our employee).
We are the Sovereigns.
They all work for Us, and are meant to embody Our Values.

I tire of being a Square Peg in the Round Hole of their Dysfunction....
Is there nothing that they advocate that does not involve Punishment,Suffering and Death?

Surely a Better World can be had, in the here and now....(“let him who has ears to hear...”)
I am more than an “Economic Unit”;
So I want to talk about Economics...about how People live their Lives.
Shorn of the Esoterica.


Not Big Government, but Better Government.
Less intrusive but more helpful.
Smarter, and with clearer goals and mechanisms.
And Limits.
With a Care for the actual People...the Human Beings-- who are supposed to be it's Masters.

Let Us frelling Incorporate, if we have to.
Let Us go head to head with those who have purchased Our Damned Government in a back room, somewhere.
Let Us be a giant Paper Manifestation of Americans, to counter the Numerous Paper People who are arrayed against Us.
.
America Incorporated, with each of Us...and yes, each of Them, too...All of Us a Shareholder thereof.
We Outnumber the Regressives, Three to One.
If We would only wake, and get Together.

Barriers to Entry, redux.



Behold:(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/05/the-largest-grocer-in-the-texas-is-now-rationing-eggs/?tid=sm_fb)

Entirely predictable, given the Egg “Industry's” penchant for animal abuse, close quarters, terrible conditions and the prophylactic over-use of antibiotics and growth hormones.
And yet, I cannot sell an Egg(save “on farm”) laid by our happy and healthy chickens.
We have on any given day around 50 dozen brown eggs, both regular size, great big(and sometimes double yolked), and the Banty eggs(takes 2 to make one regular).
But since we are not licensed and permitted, we are illegal for all but “on-farm” sales...which means that folks have to drive way out here, make a special trip.
In order to justify the costs involved in getting licensed and permitted, we would, ourselves, need to expand into an Egg Factory.
That's how the rules are written...by the Egg “Industry”, itself.
The Rules are promoted as having everything to do with health and safety...but here we have the event that gives the lie to that idea.
It was only a matter of time before there was an outbreak in the Industrial Egg Factories.
The Egg “Industry” also has another effect on little guys like me...I am unable to sell such eggs as folks are willing to drive for at a price that is sustainable.
The Economies of Scale mean that the Industrial Eggs can be sold for an artificially cheap price. But I can in no way compete...since I can't buy scratch grains and whatnot by the Ton.
Here is Neoliberalism, again...fucking things up: Price is all that matters...quality be damned.
My Eggs are consistently Better, hands down, than any of the weak and runny and flavorless Industrial Eggs.
But folks have been trained to go for the Lowest Price.
In the same way that the California Megadrought will make produce scarce...this is making Eggs scarce.
The rush to Hugeness....to concentration of the Means of Production into the hands of a handfull of gigantic immortal fictions, leads inexorably to weakness in the supply lines.
When there's only a couple of Corps(e) who produce eggs, and something bad happens to them,then there are no eggs.
Wouldn't it be better to Democratise the Production of Food?
To spread the Means of Production as widely as possible?
There is no good reason, any longer, for this rush to Hugeness....to Hyper-Concentration.
We should do Food...and Energy...like we do the Internet(as originally constructed). Instead of one big farm...a million little ones.
Diversity is Strength.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Public vs Private



A Libertarian Free Market Fundamentalist was arguing with me the other day.
I took exception to the statement that “the American Left is fighting for less Freedom...” or something to that effect.
Oh, those Leftsts...marching in lockstep.

He indicated that More Government always equals Less Freedom.
I rebutted with a question:” Why did Teddy Roosevelt and FDR expand the powers of the Fedgov the way they did?”
The answer of course, is to curtail the abuses of Giant Piles of Money.
Robber Barons, Trusts, Carnegie and Standard Oil.
These entities and personages were deleterious to Liberty...so the Fedgov took them on...on OUR Behalf!...in order to put them within a fence, so that they could be controlled, and restrained where necessary.
I asked:” What other mechanism is there for such a Task?”
….and got silence.

Libertarians have learned the Gish Gallop.
He moved on to another few topics, tangentially related to the topic at hand...and then:” There have been Private Fire Departments” ….and:”Volunteer Fire Departments are not Government”.
As is the primary feature of the Gish Gallop, I was compelled to quickly locate links, or give a five paragraph rebuttal to this...citing evidence.
While I am doing this, they move on to the next weasel worded “point” or outright strawman, which also requires a five paragraph response.

Here are the appropriate responses to those two specious “points”:
“There have been Private Fire Departments.”
Indeed, there have!
...and they were a Failure for two entangled reasons...(1)if your neighbor doesn't pay his Fire Protection Subscription, his house burns down...and then (2)your house burns down, because there are no building codes(lol) and it matters not that you have paid your extortion money to the Fire Brigade.
This has actually happened...quite recently...and it was the main reason that Benjamin Franklin pushed for Public Fire Departments that would protect Everyone...by protecting Everyone.
It's not hard to understand.

”Volunteer Fire Departments are not Government”

Maybe not technically...but they receive considerable Tax Payer Money...and could not function without it.
Fire Trucks are expensive, as are Jaws of Life, and other sundry and interrelated equipment.
Bake Sales and Bar-B-Ques aren't going to cut it.
If an activity relies fundamentally on Public Money, it is essentially a Public Enterprise.
(it can also be called “socialism”, but that may be too much for my Libertarian friends)
If it's Public, that means Government.
In this country, Government is supposed to be Us...We the People.
To the extent that that is not the case, we have no one to blame but Ourselves, for abdicating our virtual throne as the seats of sovereignty.
In our form of Government, we get what We work for.

Of course, they will never read this...and if they do, they will likely ignore it.
I see this often.
They have no answers that don't rely on platitudes backed by air, and condemnation backed only by Unreason.
Hence, Gish Galloping.

VOTE




“”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, “”- U.S. Declaration of Independence

I hear, quite often, from my friends on the Right, that we are a Constitutional Republic...and “Not a Democracy”...
I counter with the perfectly obvious, that we are Both....we choose who will Represent Us Democratically.
How else to measure what the Governed Consent to?
In the last couple of years...longer if you want to include the Purges in Florida, in 2000...Republicans have been very busy attempting to gut the Right to Vote.
They do this with a Straw Man: the Myth that there is widespread Voter Fraud(hey, it works against welfare,lol)
Of course, they can provide no evidence of such widespread Voter Fraud, because there is practically None...save for the shenanigans that the GOP has engaged in, in 2000, in 2004(Ken Blackwell, I'm looking at you) and in the various scandals regarding “Voting Machines” that suddenly “Flip” to the GOP side.
Now, there are various groups(Right Wingers love their “Grass Roots” Groups) whose sole purpose is to agitate and spread manure all over Voting Rights.
In one highly ironic instance, the Right found a few “Activist Judges” on the Supreme Court(Shelby) who did their bidding and gutted the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1964.
The reason given, in a nutshell, was that Racism is over.(yay)
Immediately, various Republican controlled States implemented draconian Voter ID laws and engaged in other sundry suppression techniques.
I think everyone would agree that showing an ID at the polls would be just fine...but these states simultaneously restricted which ID's were acceptable and limited(due to budget cuts) the places where such ID's were to be had.
This had the predicted effect: Democratic Voters were hardest hit.
This was the Intention of all these laws and rule changes...to limit Democratic Suffrage.
Turns out that Republicans' electoral successes are inversely proportional to the number of people who turn up to vote...so it's in their interest to limit the number of folks who do so.
They simply cannot compete without cheating...which says a lot.
Here's a few overviews of what has happened...it's shocking, really:
http://rolandmartinreports.com/blog/2012/04/roland-s-martin-gop-voter-suppression-is-real-and-must-be-stopped/
http://billmoyers.com/2014/10/24/voter-discrimination/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/jim-greer-florida-voting-laws_n_2192802.html

The Google Machine turns up lots of information on the Right to Vote.
It is only Implied in the Constitution.
But it is Implied very Strongly...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consent_of_the_governed
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_rights_in_the_United_States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/08/what-does-the-constitution-actually-say-about-voting-rights/278782/

Ergo...I (and others, it turns out) propose a Constitutional Amendment Guaranteeing the Inalienable Right to Vote.
There is simply no reason not to, unless you don't like fair elections, for some reason.

http://www.fairvote.org/reforms/right-to-vote-amendment/

https://www.aclu.org/aclu-factsheet-voting-rights-amendment-act-2015-house

Here's one of the founders of the Right Wing Counter-Revolution, saying very clearly, and without subterfuge, that the Right doesn't want folks to vote, because they can't win that way:


https://action.aclu.org/secure/congress-repair-voting-act
http://www.fairvote.org/reforms/right-to-vote-amendment/
http://www.fairvote.org/assets/FairVotes-Perspective-on-a-Right-to-Vote-Amendment-03.13.2014update.pdf



I am pleased as pudding that Hillary has had the Stones to come out so forcefully on this issue.
I'll still vote for Bernie in the Primary, but it's good to see some spine in the Democratic Frontrunner.
Let the Republicans squirm.
Let them come out and explain why an Amendment to the Constitution Guaranteeing the Right to Vote is a bad idea...and why We the People cannot be trusted with such a Right.
The GOP...especially their Governors...have been soft-balled on this issue for long enough.
They say confusing things, like how they want “Free and Fair Elections” and talk at length about “the Integrity of Our Elections”...But at the same time, they present no evidence that the Voter Suppression, Anti-Suffrage Laws they have signed will do anything to ensure such Integrity.
Indeed, I allege that they don't really want that, at all.
What they really want is for folks who tend to vote for Democrats excluded from Elections.
Again, there is no Evidence of widespread Voter Fraud.

Come clean, Republicans.
All the rest of you...hold their feet to the fire.
The Right to Vote should be Sacrosanct...you cannot have a Legitimate Representative Republic without it.
It should be easy and automatic.
At 18, you get an ID that is also your Voter Registration Card.
The President could probably make Passports function in this way, and make it cheaper and easier at the same time.
It should cost next to nothing.
Let there be Fingerprints to please the Rabid Right.
So that there is no question.

In Wesberry v Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17; 84 S. Ct. 526; 11 L. Ed. 2D 481 (1964) , Justices said:
“[N]o right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.”3
Here we are, once again, fighting for the maintenance of the Social Contract...which is not even in the Curriculum where I live.
(“sounds like socialism” )
Representative Government requires that Our Representatives be chosen by the Majority of Voters in a given District.
It's how We choose County Commissioners, and City Council Members and Mayors, and who shall be in various and sundry Governmental and even Quasi-Governmental Offices.
It is how We in Texas Ratify the numerous Amendments to the Texas Constitution that come before us every so often.
“Consent of the Governed” means just that...you have to ask the People.
This is most effectively done by Elections, wherein the People Vote.
Otherwise such Government has no Legitimacy.
“True the Vote” should mean, “Make damned sure that the People can be Heard”.
Enough with the Doublespeak!
Let the GOP defend themselves.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Poverty and Myth



I was shocked this week to be confronted with someone who insisted that some giant majority of welfare recipients are deliberately having babies in order to “get a bigger check”.
She could provide no evidence for this assertion, other than unverifiable anecdotal “friend of a friend told me so”.
Another pervasive Myth has also reared it's head this week, that “poor=lazy”.
And yet another, that Poverty is the result of low morals and single-parenthood.
None of the people making these assertions could provide hard evidence to support them....nor could they prove the Causal Relationships contained in such assertions.
And none of them made any mention of the 35 year experiment in Wage Stagnation, other than to deny it's relevance and even it's existence.
Race is sublimated into these discussions, frequently...often unconsciously.
A job is a job is a job...and the Myth persists that if one would merely get off the porch, get a job(any job) and work hard, everything would be fine.
As I've been hammering away at for years, the water we swim in is never considered.
The Fish are to be blamed for their poor health....water quality be damned.
It doesn't seem to matter when giant piles of data are brought to bear against this system of Myth.
One hears about the “Dignifying Power of Work”....as if working, itself is it's own reward, no matter that you're working for peanuts, in a job with a horrible boss who thinks that a 10 cent raise is cause for rejoice.
One also hears that the various Welfare Programs are , somehow, a “Disincentive” to get out there and get a job.
This last is particularly odious...it relies on the Assumption that Welfare is, somehow, living High on the Hog....that relying on Foodstamps to supplement one's meager wages in order to be able to “put food on your family” means lobster and caviar.
In my life, to throw anecdotes of my own, I have indeed met a vanishingly small minority of folks who “Game the System”....but it never lasts for long. There are checks that are quite effective in weeding those people out.
And at any rate, such perfidy is very hard to do.
The System is so concerned that someone may get something that they do not deserve, that it errs on the side of dysfunction. A great number of folks who are perfectly entitled and deserving of such help, do not get it...because of the time consuming and byzantine gauntlet one must run in order to qualify.
Many are left out because of the pervasive stigma, itself....that Mythology that paints a big red L on anyone who uses an EBT card.(L is for “Lazy”, but there are other words that are flung at Poor Folks who deign to seek a helping hand)
A little anecdotal digression: all but one of the folks I have known who willfully attempt to “Game the System” were White and Hard Core Republican.
And all but two of them ended up either in jail, or on probation.

Another variety of dissent and denial that there is a problem, are those Free Market Fundamentalists who see a Living Wage as a travesty.
Who think that Minimum Wage actually causes Poverty, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.
“The Market will take care of it, if we would just kill government and let the Market work.”
I have even less patience for these folks,lol.
Where do you even begin, when the very Foundations of their argument are so very flawed?
Having been low wage(food service) for my adult life, I know perfectly well that if any of my bosses had been allowed to pay their cooks less, they would have been quick to do so.
The Free Marketers then say, “well...go look for another job”...forgetting the relative scarcity of jobs out there, as well as the problem that all those other hypothetical jobs pay just as little, and are operating under the same assumptions...and overlooking the hard fact that when jobs are scarce, the prospective employee has no bargaining power.
There is a Food Bank on the corner. It's run by a collection of local churches, with a little shaky support from various government programs...that often come with some rather crazy strings attached, again...rooted in the Unexamined Assumptions.
I support this Food Bank, when I can. We give them our surplus eggs(which is illegal, it turns out...just more systemic roadblocks, based on assumptions, that prevent us from actually tackling the problems)
But I take issue with some of the methods employed there.
Desperately poor people, who often work like the dickens, but still cannot adequately feed themselves, are given a sermon before they are given access to the donated food.
It is an opportunity to evangelise. One must run a sort of gauntlet of well meaning lay preachers who will tell you that if you would only accept Jesus into your heart, everything would be fine.
If you, dear reader, are an Evangelical Christian, you likely do not see the problem, there....which is, in itself, a large part of the overall Problem:
failure to put yourself into the shoes of those you are trying to help.
This is probably the biggest problem of all, in getting to the Roots of Poverty.
The Free Marketer, the Unconscious Racist, the well meaning Christian...all of them share a reliance on Unexamined Assumptions about the Causes of,and Remedies for, Poverty...and they all reliably fail to even attempt to put themselves into the shoes of the Poor.
It is so much easier to say ”lack of morals”,”Lazy”,and all the rest, than to dig into the roots...because then you might have to change your opinion, not only about Poverty, but about economics, politics, and all the social and cultural things that we often take for granted, when we, ourselves, are not Poor.
It's easy for the well off to say,”get a job” and wash their hands of the issue.
Their Assumptions....and the world view that is based on them...are made safe that way.
It is hard to look at those Assumptions, and then abandon those that do not comport with Objective Reality....let alone Reality as Perceived by someone standing in a very different life-space from you.



This is a good way to spend an hour and a half, if you're really interested in finding solutions to the problem of Poverty in the USA.(which, of course, is predicated on acknowledging that there IS a problem)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sweden, etc...the Free Market View



from wiki:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model
Note #4 "The surprising ingredients of Swedish success - free markets and social cohesion" (PDF). Institute of Economic Affairs. June 25, 2013. (this appears to be from a Free Market Think Tank, as it uses their phrasing(ie:”Big Government”) I have included it for balance)

Myopic. Cherry-Picking data and criteria in order to suit one's preconceived “results”...
Framing and Phrasing and numerous Unexamined Assumptions.

Repeatedly, in this...”Growth is always Good”...and “More Profit is always Good”....and Taxes are Bad...Government is not even a Necessary Evil...it's just Evil.
I have little patience for such an extreme Orthodoxy.
Never do the Free Market Fundies acknowledge a Finite Planet.
Or Pollution...including all the plastic crap we buy, then throw away.
Similarly, never do they consider the concept of “Enough”.
That that 1 million dollars I made last year is plenty to live a good life with.
That I do not need, nor do I necessarily want, an additional million(s) in the bank.
These assumptions are derivative of the Value System based on Greed that is foundational to “capitalism” as we do it in the USA.
Such a statement by a CEO or Hedge Fund owner...that “nope...I got plenty”...would be almost unthinkable here. Indeed, there was one such CEO in the last week or so who did just that, and the Right threw up in their mouths a little.
The Nordic economies have reduced waste and pollution, and have settled on a societal Norm of “Enough”.
This Norm is acknowledged, obliquely, in this paper...all that stuff about Trust and Personal Responsibility and Community.(IEA wants to put responsibility for these things on Protestantism, in some of the least religious countries in history)
Those three things require a little consideration of the other folks one shares a country with, as well as the Commons...air, water and soil health...the health of one's neighbor...and so on.
It's not all about Me, over there.
There was a time in Texas...in my lifetime...that unmitigated Greed, and infinite selfishness, was looked down upon.
Gordon Gecko has somehow become our patron saint.
That is not the case in Northern Europe, by all measures that I've seen.

Similarly, while lamenting the advent of socialism(small s) in the 30's...and the concurrent decline in “entrepreneurialism”...the author neglects to mention the poverty and want that came before....during the period that he treats as the golden age.
Everything I've seen would indicate the contrary....that vast swaths of folks were hurting, and that this hurt was the reason they agitated and revolted and took over the economy.
It was democratic, from the get-go.
After the rise of the Nordic Model, folks maybe didn't go into business because they didn't want to...and now they didn't have to.
This idea is an anathema to the hypercapitalists...not wanting to work is seen as lazy and impure.
But what did so many of those folks do instead?
They became artists and social workers, they volunteered at the day care..they went fishing a lot...just like Dick Cheney is able to do(no one ever says that he's lazy because he hunts and fishes so much...a curious omission)
There is also the common fallacies of “Bigger = Better”...and “bigger Market Cap” = “better company”.
This is a value judgment, and not conducive to what we're trying to get at.
Measure these companies(and countries) by their own value system...not that of Wall Street or the Chicago School.
In other words, we are seeing a confusion of tongues.
Over here, we don't measure “wellbeing” or “happiness”.
There's a reason for this...in fact, “Business”(sic) have lobbied hard against the introduction of such measurements...over here.
There, they do measure Wellbeing and Happiness, as well as a host of other hard to measure “Quality of Life” criteria.
We measure things like “happiness” indirectly, at best.
Nominal GDP Growth “implies” happiness.
When it suits the Paradigm Defense Forces, we measure “Job Growth” one way....when that way doesn't suit them, we measure it in another.
Usually...as in the recent “Texas Miracle”...”a job is a job is a job”.
In Scandinavia...and Europe in general...they measure such things in a more rounded, comprehensive way that Neoliberals cannot abide.
“well, their largest companies are all over 70 years old” is hardly comparing apples to apples.(Bigger is not always Better)
If we take the criteria that is habitually...even religiously...used over here, and apply it to Scandinavia...it looks like a hellhole over there.

How is it then that the people are so happy?

Conversely, when we take their criteria, and apply it to us...we look like a backwards feudalistic nightmare country.
It matters who does the measuring...and what criteria are used, and how those criteria are formulated and applied.
All of this entails Foundational Assumptions.
From where I'm standing, their criteria are superior and much more comprehensive; they include measurements of what it is like to be a Human Being, there. Our Economists and their cheer-leading analogs in media, may think that is unimportant...or superfluous...

I do not.
This has been my fundamental critique of the Neoliberal, Chicago School-Style Economics that are almost religiously advocated in the USA.
When one points to Europe, and says...”hey...look at how satisfied they appear to be...”...one is often met with adolescent sneers and snickers.

“Hippy Dippy Utopians...”

But as I've said so many times, Who are the Utopians in this debate?

The Neoliberal Theology would have every Human Being regarded as an “Economic Unit”...a “Rational Agent”, performing Cost-Benefit Analysis not only to every Economic Decision, but to all Human Interaction.
Homo Oeconomicus( with a very blind eye turned away from the “Real Citizenry” over here, the Paper Kind)

It seems that a Prima Facie case can be made rather simply that this is not all that we are...that Being Human entails much more than simply Marginal Utility and Net Worth.
So before we can have a real discussion about the validity, the veracity and...yes...the utility of the Nordic Model, we must first look at what is being measured.
To that end....here's a bunch of links that I've just muscled through, regarding the measurement of satisfaction, happiness and quality of life.
….............................................
(Remember, Wiki is a decent place to start, in my view...and usually has many links to source material.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broad_measures_of_economic_progress

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_satisfaction

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report

https://www.gfmag.com/global-data/non-economic-data/happiest-countries

http://www.nber.org/digest/septoct07/w12934.html

http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/life-satisfaction/

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/beyond_gdp/indicators_social_en.html

http://www.economist.com/blogs/feastandfamine/2012/04/happiness

This last is, unsurprisingly, a rather mild example of the snickering one often finds from Free Marketeers when such measurements are undertaken.

…...............................................................................
Interestingly, to me, at least...there appears to be a correlation between religious belief(especially Evangelical/Fundamentalist(in the US)) and perceived Happiness and Well Being.
This is a can of worms, of course....but interesting, nonetheless.
…........................................................................................

Here are the two big Think Tanks in Texas that deal with Economics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Public_Policy_Foundation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Public_Policy_Priorities

The former is currently the dominant intellectual group in the state, enjoying massive funding, and preferential status with the Texas GOP/Tea Party, which means that they are the preferred Think Tank of the Government of the State of Texas.
They never talk about Happiness, or any other subjective measures of Economic Performance. They therefore are a case in point of the Myopia I mentioned.
The latter, on the other hand, looks at economics from the standpoint of the Middle, and especially the Lower, Classes.

Things look rather less rosy from down here.

To be open and honest, I sometimes correspond with the CPPP, while the TPPF rarely(once) answers my emails or phone calls.
I made many calls to each during my hunt for evidence of the actual existence of the proverbial Welfare Queen driving a Cadillac...CPPP sent me much data indicating the mythological Quality of such widespread Fraud and Abuse; TPPF sent me on a circular phone journey, to numerous answering machines. I finally got a call back some weeks later from a guy(I forget his name or his claim to expertise...he sounded pretty young) who pretended to never have heard of the Welfare Queen Myth, peddled at least weekly by the folks who sign his checks.(this was the non-answer I received from every GOPtea Congressional staffer I called, as well)
I include these two groups as illustrative examples of the degrees of Myopia in Economics, today....and to show how what results you get, depends on what you measure, as well as what you do not.
I also include them, because the Paper in question, from the IEA, moves into Morality, next.

Talk about Work Ethic, and Personal Responsibility may sound a little familiar to Americans. “Dependence” is mentioned in the same coded way it is used over here. They refrain from using the phrase “Welfare Queen”, but one can almost hear that phrase in the background.
Sweden, as the Paper notes after sufficient usage of such code-words, has recently installed “Gate Keepers” for access to things like Sick Pay, and Disability.
I don't reckon anyone would deny that this is necessary, so long as it's Fair.(Curiously, Fairness is another word that rarely enters into the Free Marketeers' lexicon)
So it's a polite version of our usual,”oh, look at what the welfare state does: makes people lazy and hang from the government teat...”
It's difficult for me to keep my cool with this stuff...I admit.
I've heard such things for most of my life...Bootstraps!! Incentive to Work!!!
It is tiresome, since the purveyors of such things rarely want to visit those aspects of “work” that are actually Deterrents to being all balls to the wall.
Like the strange feature(that most Texans know about intuitively, even though they don't readily admit it, or vote accordingly) of working hard all the time, and not being able to go to the doctor, let alone have any leisure time.
…..................
Next, they go on to talk obliquely about Immigration and “Assimilation” and “Integration”.
We've heard all of this, before, too.
Lol.
This perceived failure is another example of the difficulty of measurement of subjective, non-economic things...as well as an assumption that Assimilation is the Preferred Goal of Immigration.
The Muslim Immigrants are the ones being talked about...
They are very different culturally, ethically and spiritually from the relatively Homogenous natives of Scandinavia. There is racism involved , here,as well.
I believe that this is a separate issue from the main one...it's related, of course, but as the last 2 weeks in America has shown, Race is hardly a settled thing....the argument is filled with Attribution Errors and Assumptions regarding “Those People”, and is therefore unhelpful.
Widespread Islamic Immigration is also a relatively new thing in Scandinavia.
I want more data, ere we get into the effects of Immigration on the Nordic Model.
….....
Next, we move into the issue of “Hidden Taxes”...hidden by that rascally government(in one of the most transparent system of government yet devised, no less), in order to shore up Employment Numbers.
This will need further, Objective, study.
I mean, we could talk about the same thing in US economic policy....Inflation, and the ten million taxing authorities and the related Opacity of Government in the US, but we've had those discussions, before...at least I have,lol...to no real point.
Folks tend to believe what they want to believe.
Here's where measures of Satisfaction...which include perceived Corruption in Government....could be helpful.
Those measurements in Scandinavia consistently show a higher Satisfaction with Government, less Alienation, and far less Perceived Corruption.
Civic Participation is higher there, as well.
Folks pay attention to what their Government is doing...there are actual National Debates on these things...perhaps as a result of more leisure time, and less balls-to-the-wall, work yerself to death-ism.
The graphs are interesting, regarding hidden versus visible taxation.
I don't have internet out here, but a graph like that for the USA, and for Texas, would likely make for a fun comparison.

(I'm making a note to check, when I'm connected again...and will attempt to include such a graph, without comment, in this space when I get home)
{couldn't find a similar graph for USA, but there is this idea:(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_welfare_state )}

As expected, they mention the Laffer Curve in response to those graphs.
We can talk about that, if you like....I have found it to be one of the most dishonest planks in the whole Neoliberal Revolution of the past 35 years.
…...........
Next we get to the inevitable citation of the Heritage Foundation.
The phrase “Economic Freedom” is used.
The USA is regarded as scoring relatively higher than Scandinavia in this metric, but I live in Texas, and cannot legally sell an egg to my local grocer(no matter what the customer wants or prefers)...so we can talk about that, too...if you like.
Assumptions that are required to stay Unexamined are not conducive to honest debate.
They also seem to like the Fraser Institute, whom I have never heard of.(I'll maybe get back to you to see if my as yet unexamined assumptions regarding that group are wrong.lol.)
…..................
It is probably pretty obvious by now that I remain unconvinced by this Paper.
I've heard all of these arguments and assertions and lamentations for most of my life, so I will take them, here, with a lot of salt.



…...........................................................................
The Economist has a more balanced view of all of the above.

(http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21570835-nordic-countries-are-probably-best-governed-world-secret-their)

(http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21571136-politicians-both-right-and-left-could-learn-nordic-countries-next-supermodel)


It still relies overmuch on Free Market Mythology for my taste, but it is far less sneering and snickering.
Again, I think it's useful to compare things like Trust in Government, Satisfaction with Government, and overall Trust in Other People...with those same metrics here, in the USA.
By those measures, we are a backwards and hostile country, filled with selfish ignoramuses and sneaky politicians.

From that last Economist article:
The main lesson to learn from the Nordics is not ideological but practical. The state is popular not because it is big but because it works. A Swede pays tax more willingly than a Californian because he gets decent schools and free health care. The Nordics have pushed far-reaching reforms past unions and business lobbies. The proof is there. You can inject market mechanisms into the welfare state to sharpen its performance. You can put entitlement programmes on sound foundations to avoid beggaring future generations. But you need to be willing to root out corruption and vested interests. And you must be ready to abandon tired orthodoxies of the left and right and forage for good ideas across the political spectrum. The world will be studying the Nordic model for years to come.

One would think that the Free Marketeers, with their high minded pontifications on Competition would be willing to apply that Ideal to the field of Ideas, as well.
That remains to be seen, of course...but what I've observed since Bernie Sanders announced last week doesn't exactly inspire hope for a reasoned, dispassionate debate on the merits and failures of the Nordic Model.
This is a shame.
Reckon we might learn something.
(and...just for clarity,...these are the folks who produced the Paper I've been firing missiles at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_of_Economic_Affairs)

…....................
for the third installment of this little series, I'll dive into what the Nordic Countries say about themselves.
The Research Frenzy continues, apace.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dreamscape.



Nap. Exhaustion due to insomnia.
I awake in a cold sweat with a start...Everlast and Sinead playing in my head simultaneously.
The profound disappointment of discovering, circa 1993, that the MTV “Revolution” wasn't “out there...somewhere...” after all.
I had doubted, of course...but by now I had found proof.
That doubt had been a defense mechanism...MTV was everywhere once I moved to Walters, Texas...snippets of Gil Scott Heron...just part of some nefarious marketing scheme.
I had secretly hoped that it was real...Live Aid...Bono...
all the rest...and that I was missing out due to the place I was stuck in.
Surely everywhere wasn't already submerged...
Surely the Wasteland had an edge...that one could get over...into some other realm where my generation's revolution...contribution....would have corporeal form....
But I went East.
East for thousands of circuitous miles...and all I found was the same bland despair...the same banal suburban “success”, interspersed with many pockets of deep poverty full of those who had already given up on all of that.
That Faulknerian Darkness I'm always referring to, like a patina of hypocrisy, coating us all the further east one went.
It was during this period that My Revolution became a Revolution of One.





Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Research Frenzy: Nordic Model and Social Democracy





Now that Bernie Sanders has thrown his hat into the ring for President, perhaps it would be prudent to explore where he's coming from, regarding Economics/Social Policy....rather than scream “Socialism!!!” and throw things.
To that end, I've decided to take a sabbatical from Facebook and other Social Media, in order to study and think.
Regarding the current unrest in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, I find that I am too emotionally drained to continue that discussion. I'll leave that for others, at this time(Ben, Kevin,Pam), but will leave the term “Intersectionality” laying on the table as a somewhat decent word for where I'm at on all of that.(Solidansk!)
I'm also attempting to build our Funky Cabin in the Woods, and figure that between these two endeavors, engagement is just an added stressor that I can do without, at the moment.
With that in mind, I'm leaving a list of my (initial) sources.

For the adventurous, this book gives a detailed history of “Neoliberalism”, and where and how it diverged fro “Ordoliberalism” and the Nordic Model.
It is technical, but in a philosophical way, not a math way.
(http://www.versobooks.com/books/1511-the-new-way-of-the-world)

This Neoliberalism is where we, in America, are now...like it or not...
…..................................................................

next is the long list of articles and wiki pages and all manner of stuff I have collected that looks like may give a good overview of Social Democracy.
If you would like to engage cogently, sans hyperbole, on this subject, please take a look.
While I'm not particularly interested in what ...say...the Heritage Foundation has to say about Social Democracy, the Paul Harvey-esque “rest of the story” is important. Thus, the Economist is included(not generally regarded as a Pinko publication).

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2012/01/26/how-swedes-and-norwegians-broke-power-1-percent

http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/norwegians-overthrow-capitalist-rule-1931-35

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/01/09/this-sociologist-has-a-plan-to-make-america-more-like-sweden/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/what-can-we-learn-from-de_b_3339736.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/30/bernie-sanders-socialist_n_7182752.html



http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/01/09/sanders_a_growing_force_on_the_far_far_left/?page=1

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/09/we-can-reduce-poverty-if-we-want-we-just-have-want

http://www.alternet.org/books/there-are-good-alternatives-us-capitalism-no-way-get-there?page=0%2C2

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2013-12-06/americas-social-democratic-future

http://www.norden.org/en/om-samarbejdet-1/areas-of-co-operation/the-nordic-welfare-model/about-the-nordic-welfare-model

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghent_system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21571136-politicians-both-right-and-left-could-learn-nordic-countries-next-supermodel

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21570835-nordic-countries-are-probably-best-governed-world-secret-their

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/04/29/bernie-sanders-is-an-avowed-socialist-and-democrats-are-actually-pretty-ok-with-that/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/29/young-people-socialism_n_1175218.html


a couple of PDF's from the first of the list, which I do not know how to link to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model

Note # 15 Torben M. Andersen, Bengt Holmström, Seppo Honkapohja, Sixten Korkman, Hans Tson Söderström, Juhana Vartiainen. The Nordic Model - Embracing globalization and sharing risks

Note #4 "The surprising ingredients of Swedish success - free markets and social cohesion" (PDF). Institute of Economic Affairs. June 25, 2013. (this appears to be from a Free Market Think Tank, as it uses their phrasing(ie:”Big Government”) I have included it for balance)

-...............................
All of that is where I'm making a start.
I expect that over the next year and a half we'll be hearing a lot about this, due to Bernie and Liz Warren having a bully pulpit.
I also expect a large incoherent roar from the various camps of Free Market Fundamentalism, which will largely be Fact Free...but, we have plenty of Recent Experiments in Randian Dog Eat Dog Piss on my Head “capitalism” to look at...Kansas comes to mind, of course...but now we can add Michigan, Wisconsin(which can be compared to Minnesota, which is helpfully right next door).
We also have Texas, of course, and now we can add Louisiana under Jindal, and Florida under that skeletor penis-head guy...
The point is, we've run the experiments in Piss on My Head, “Corporations are People, my friend” Economics.
If that Model is to be used to counter the above list in any future discussion/debate, we must be willing to look at the Frelling Results of all that experimentation....honestly...and sans hyperbole and hysteria.
We have had, in the USA, a Cartoon of Capitalism, set against a Cartoon of (variously) Socialism/Communism/Marxism.
Things are more complex that all of that, and it is high time that We, the People, eschew the Cartoon Mythology and attempt to get at the roots of all of this, with facts and objectivity. The Right in this country tend to throw a bunch of mud, innuendo and ad hominem at this debate....because they (I allege) cannot compete on the field of ideas, without such subterfuge.
I am weary of giving in to their nonsensical ideas and bullying approach to “debate”.
So I guess I'm throwing a glove at everybody I know on-line,lol.
I'm off to build my cabin, and immerse myself in research.
I'll not limit myself to only those listed sources...they are a starting point...but I'll attempt to link/list whatever else emerges.
So if you want to talk about this rather large topic, get thee to a quiet spot....marshal your sources, and gird for battle(of wits).
I'll be back in a month....maybe two..., armed with Knowledge, and dangerous with Insight.

Peace.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Shrimp don't Cause Oil Spills


....and Fish do not poison ponds.
..............................................................................

ask yourself why protests have deteriorated into riot?
Is it a “riot” when roughly 500 out of 10,000 actually perpetrate the sorts of actions that constitute a “riot”?
why did that happen?
could it be that their grievances are not taken seriously, as a rule?
And could it be that this failure to take grievances seriously is, itself, a part of the overall grievance?
.is there currently a Problem in this country of Black People being killed and maimed by police for no good reason?
In historical context, does this fit some kind of long term pattern of behaviour by cops, in general?
from where you're standing, does systemic racism exist?
Or is it a made up thing?
some kind of excuse?
What would you do, if you and yours had been subject to the same long term, systemic treatment?

can you run the thought experiment I've been proposing to seemingly deaf white people, to put yourself in the Black Community's shoes?
To see things from their perspective?
Can you step out of your own perspective and into theirs?
There is a context to all of this.
that context can be apprehended.
once it is apprehended, then we can seriously attempt to get at the roots of things, and maybe fix some stuff.
Otherwise, we can just keep pointing at the burning storefront, without context...blaming angry black folks without evidence or context...and eventually go back to sleep,
until the “Fire next time.”

////////////////////////////////////////////
I was shocked to learn that no one is counting how many People are killed or maimed by police.
Not in any kind of systematic, nationwide, way.
The DOJ keeps track, sort of...but with scant and incomplete data.
Local police are not required to keep track of who they kill and maim, and why...nor are they required to submit such data to the DOJ.
“Criminal justice experts note that, while the federal government and national research groups keep scads of data and statistics— on topics ranging from how many people were victims of unprovoked shark attacks (53 in 2013) to the number of hogs and pigs living on farms in the U.S. (upwards of 64,000,000 according to 2010 numbers) — there is no reliable national data on how many people are shot by police officers each year. “
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/09/08/how-many-police-shootings-a-year-no-one-knows/)
see also:(http://www.wsj.com/articles/hundreds-of-police-killings-are-uncounted-in-federal-statistics-1417577504)

Careful records are, however, kept and submitted of how many cops are injured and killed and by whom and under what circumstances.
This makes it very difficult to get a clear picture of just how widespread the problem is.
Or , as some want to believe, to prove that there's a problem, at all.
With the advent of ubiquitous video recording devices, there is growing video evidence which confirms the widespread anecdotal evidence of a far-ranging problem.
The usual Tsk Tsk-ing of the usual apologists for Law and Order and for the “Just World Hypothesis”, are now confronted with Youtube videos of ad hoc firing squads on American streets, of terrible beatings, of cries for help, of blood and broken bodies...a disproportionate number of whom appear to be Black and Brown.
In every internet discussion I have seen, there are always those who defend the cops, no matter what the video du jour shows.
“Well, he must have done something”...”If he wouldn't have talked back”....
As if it can be justified, these Extrajudicial, Summary Punishments, even Summary Executions, of Human Beings on the streets...in America.
Mental gymnastics and striking rhetorical contortions are brought to bear in order to paper over a phenomenon that is new to White America...but pretty Old Hat to Black and Brown America.
In the last 30-40 years, the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror, have been used to whittle away at all of our Constitutional Rights and Protections.
This has been Justified and sold to White America, as necessary, due to Fear...of scary black drug dealers, and scary brown and black terrorists.
And, remarkably, at the same time, Police across the country have been busy shoring up their own Rights and Protections, ironically using their Unions to do so.
Cops in many places now have a “Police Bill of Rights”.
From the Washington Post:

“A complaint is filed against an officer by a member of the public or a fellow officer. Police department leadership reviews the complaint and decides whether to investigate. If the department decides to pursue the complaint, it must inform the officer and his union. That’s where the special treatment begins, but it doesn’t end there.
Unlike a member of the public, the officer gets a “cooling off” period before he has to respond to any questions. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is privy to the names of his complainants and their testimony against him before he is ever interrogated. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is to be interrogated “at a reasonable hour,” with a union member present. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can only be questioned by one person during his interrogation. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can be interrogated only “for reasonable periods,” which “shall be timed to allow for such personal necessities and rest periods as are reasonably necessary.” Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation cannot be “threatened with disciplinary action” at any point during his interrogation. If he is threatened with punishment, whatever he says following the threat cannot be used against him.
What happens after the interrogation again varies from state to state. But under nearly every law enforcement bill of rights, the following additional privileges are granted to officers: Their departments cannot publicly acknowledge that the officer is under investigation; if the officer is cleared of wrongdoing or the charges are dropped, the department may not publicly acknowledge that the investigation ever took place, or reveal the nature of the complaint. The officer cannot be questioned or investigated by “non-government agents,” which means no civilian review boards. If the officer is suspended as a result of the investigation, he must continue to receive full pay and benefits until his case is resolved. In most states, the charging department must subsidize the accused officer’s legal defense.
A violation of any of the above rights can result in dismissal—not of the officer, but of the charges against him.”

from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/04/24/the-police-officers-bill-of-rights/

Even I, a fierce defender of the Bill of Rights(the one that's been whittled away, and that was supposed to Protect Us from Government, including Cops), didn't know about this, until yesterday. Couple this remarkable occurrence with the already well ensconced “Blue Wall” of Perfidy and Coverup, where even Good Cops are coerced into protecting their Bad Brothers in Arms against having to take Responsibility for their Crimes.
It has become a feature of the aftermath of many of these Maimings and Murders by Police, that the perpetrators,...that is, the Cops....seem to get off relatively easy.
“Paid Leave”...”Administrative Leave”....even, in one recent case, a “Paid Vacation in the Bahamas”. Every benefit of the Doubt is to be afforded to them, and to hell with the Bleeding Heart concerns for the Folks arrested and incarcerated and surveilled and beaten.
Then, after the Police investigate themselves, behind closed doors, if anything comes of it, it goes to the Secret Grand Jury...run by the local Prosecutor...in Secret.(Jury rigging is rampant, as well)
More often than not, no Indictment is handed down, and the Cop in question is either back on the job, or soon in another job, in another department.
The black marks do not follow cops to their new posts.
No one keeps track of that information, either.
How many scandals and instances of Police Corruption must we endure, before we are allowed to look at the Roots?
…........................
Of course, none of this is new to Black and Brown People.
It is also not New to many White Folks who are, somehow, different...be they Gay, or Tattooed, or “Scruffy Looking”, or outside the ill-defined Norm in some other way.
In Baltimore, this state of affairs has been ongoing for some time:

http://data.baltimoresun.com/news/police-settlements/

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-brutality-of-police-culture-in-baltimore/391158/

And yet nothing substantial is done.
So here's another Black Person killed by cops...severed spine and crushed larynx, while in police custody.
And the Black Community rises up in anger and desperation, as is their supposed Right, under the US Constitution...and once again, they are met with Violence by cops...and by, apparently, drunken white sports fans, shouting “Nigganigganigga”...
And once again, White America turns a blind eye to the obvious validity of the complaints. The comments range from “They should get over it” to “look at the Nigs, burning down their own neighborhood” to “drop the daisy cutter and cut off their welfare checks”.
And at the same time as all that Racist Rhetoric is the insistence that “we're not Racist”....indeed, that it is the People who point out the Systemic Racism who are “Playing the Race Card”.
Is it any wonder, at all, that Black and Brown America continues to feel ignored and under the gun?
Is it any wonder that so many take to the streets when yet another Black Person is killed by Police?
….........
At roughly the same time as the growing flood of videos of People of Color being harassed and otherwise violated by Police....who are , let us remember,the part of Government that is closest to the People....
At the same time, there is a substantial portion of White America who seems hell bent on Revolution...who wants to go about armed, in order to protect themselves from Government coming to “take their guns”....and even “put them into camps”.
The Irony, here, is shocking, to me.
Is this the fruit of the “Powers that Be” applying the age old tactic of Divide and Conquer?
Is the Tea People's hatred of Black and Brown America, based on easily dispelled Myth and Innuendo, so great that they cannot see the common theme?
How convenient for the growing Corporate State that the People are so divided.
….............................................................
How did we get to this point?
When did Cops become the ones whom the Bill of Rights(or even their own Bill of Rights) was meant to protect?
It looks like the opposite of what Jefferson intended...and Madison and all the rest. So, what happened?

Three things, I believe, are at the root of this.
1. the War on Drugs(which is itself an extension of the War Against Commies, and has been followed by the War on Terror).
2.Systemic Racism (which, too is related and intertwined with the parenthetical statements above)
3. Control. The first two can be subsumed under this heading, which is thoroughly contradictory to our greatest traditions of Liberty and Freedom of thought and Conscience. The folks who run this country have never wanted “too much freedom” for the people further down the ladder.
Any opposition to the Status Quo is to be crushed in it's infancy....or later, if necessary.
There can be only One Definition....One Idea of what Freedom means.
...and it is to be Theirs.
I usually use Maggie Thatcher's handy shorthand for this, “TINA” (“there is no alternative”).
So, around the turn of the last century, there was growing unrest in the factories and on the farms, and some of those workers read the works of Marx, Gramsci, and others.
The Word came from on high that “Socialism” and “Communism” were great evils that must be “stamped out”...”Defeated!”.
But those rascally Commies were insidious...they could be anywhere.
Palmer Raids and the arrival into a position of power of one J. Edgar Hoover, further set the stage for our troubles, today.
That stage had already been set, ironically, by otherwise Liberal folks(Progressive Movement), who with the best of intentions ran a decades long campaign to eradicate Alcohol.
Around the same time as the Palmer Raids, there was the Volstead Act, which criminalised alcohol. Prohibition, as is well known, led directly to the rise of Organised Crime, which, in it's turn led to the rise of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.
Similarly, the idea of Dangerous(other) Drugs was made up from whole cloth...Marihuana, which most Americans had never heard of, was one of these.
At that time, Pot was a drug associated with Mexican farm workers(who sometimes joined unions) and Black Jazz Musicians....who were Black, and thus suspect.
Harry Ainslinger was the point man in eradicating, first Heroin, and then the Evil Weed...Marihuana...but only as they were used by “Undesirables”.
See Reefer Madness, for context, and a good laugh.

It was never about Weed, itself, but who was using it.
(William Randolph Hearst supported Marihuana Prohibition due to his large forest holdings, and thus equated Hemp with Pot...and Dupont supported all of this, due to their recent Patent on Nylon)
But it was Racism and Control of the Narrative that were the driving forces behind this.
This slacked off a little during the Second World War...after all the Communist Russians were our Allies....but ramped right back up once the Cold War began.
Still, during this time, Drug Laws were used mostly against People of Color.
It wasn't until the late Sixties, that things escalated.
Richard Nixon looked out the Whitehouse window, and saw there on the lawn, a whole bunch of folks who were not only against the war in Viet Nam, and refused to fight...but who were against Corporate Capitalism, and what was then known as the Establishment.
Many of them were even Commies...or at least Socialist( which were again conflated and equated, at this time).
Here was the weapon to use against all those “Unamerican” Americans.
There was still a large Racist aspect to this, due to the “Uppity Negroes” wanting to be Americans, too.
When Tricky Dick launched the “War on Drugs”, it was understood to be a War on Liberalism, and all that that connoted.
Ever since, the WOD has been a Weapon against Liberals and Black Folks and Brown Folks and anybody else that got on the Official Shit List.
Consider...that very same year, 1972-3, is when what would become the Reagan Revolution began in a hotel lobby in St Louis.
The two go hand in hand.
That's also when Roe v Wade came down.
Soon it was Morning in America, and to hell with efficient cars and thrifty energy usage, and regulation of the large, and of course, to hell with anything resembling Liberalism.
This was conflated, once again, with Godless Communism, and considered the Antithesis of Freedom.
Meanwhile, the WOD was used to put Black Folks back into their box...the Black Panthers and the Watts Riots and a million other things, most with a substantial Mythological content, was all scary to white America, and was painted in such a way to reinforce that innate Fear
All during this entire 50+ year period, various scholarly organisations and the research arm of the Government, itself, did studies on Drugs.
Every one of these studies on Marijuana indicated to one degree or another that it was NOT equal to Heroin or Horse Tranquiliser.
That it was relatively harmless, and even (sometimes) that it had therapeutic qualities that deserved further study.
But science doesn't matter, as anyone near TV news in the past 40 years can surely attest.
The Systemic Racism was largely ignored for many years...even after the Civil Rights Era. The Official Story was that Racism was Over...and all them Black Folks should, yup, “Get Over It”.
To point out Racism became, itself, Racist. The more overt and ugly forms had been driven into the shadows to fester and percolate...and were a large part of the Southern Strategy of Nixon, and Reagan.
To agitate for reform became a quaint exercise of a remnant liberalism, already defeated(along with, eventually, the Evil Empire of Communism).
Myth and Obfuscation and Innuendo.
During this entire period...but especially after 1973...Our Rights were whittled away.
Numerous Exceptions to almost every one of the Amendments contained in the Bill of Rights were formulated, and implemented...often without substantial debate, either in Public or in Congress.
We had learned the lessons of the Cold War Anticommunist Hysteria well...do not Question.
Do not be “Soft on Drugs”, “Soft on Crime”...Morality was brought to bear...and wild tales of Welfare Queens, eating out our substance and hooked on dope.As the economic system had repeated hiccups and infarctions, we were encouraged to blame the Poor...who were all Lazy and “On Drugs”...for the resulting economic malaise and disruption. Black Folks were Poor, as well, and thus also to blame. "Poor" became Code for "Scary Lazy Dangerous Black Person."
All of this must be taken into account in any discussion of crime, of drugs or of race.
It is all of a piece.
One can even argue that the Systemic focus on Black People by the Drug Warriors and Prison Profiteers, had the effect of shoring up the Employment Numbers...by removing “Surplus Labor”.
Judges and Congressmen and Prosecutors and Mayors and large Outfits like the NAACP were averse to being labeled as ProDope...let alone Socialist....so the bad behaviour by government continued.
Cops developed half baked Theories to justify their assholeish behaviour...especially against Black Folks.
“Broken Windows Theory” is now the fundamental Theory of Law Enforcement. Go after Jay Walking and Loosies and the guy with a joint or a hash pipe, the guy sitting on his stoop with a beer...all the little, easy shit.
Layers of laws against everything from sitting down in public to spitting on the sidewalk were formulated and put into place in cities and counties across the nation.
And all of this combined with that age old underlying Racism and Classism(anticommie/antisocialist) to create the Police State we live in today(well...a lot of us, at least)
My Dad can go into his front yard and drink beer, and the cops just wave.
Let a Black Fellow do the same, and it's an Offense, or at least “Suspicious”.
We can deny this reality all we want...insist that this narrative is overblown and hysterical..overly dramatic.
But all that will do is continue the carnage and the injustice.
Reform is what is needed so desperately...but for that to even begin, the folks who have born the brunt of all this must be listened to...and the cherished Unexamined Assumptions must be weighed against Observable Reality.
Bad Ideas...Faulty Thinking...must be rejected.
Marijuana is not a “Gateway Drug” any more than Milk is.
Black People are not “Animals” who are out to get us...and, yes, calling them “Animals” or “Cockroaches”means that you are, indeed, a Racist.
Let us end the Injustices.
Let us be the Shining City on the fucking Hill, at long last.
Let's quit screwing around with Dogmatic Inertia when what we've been doing not only doesn't work...but is itself a Travesty.





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_wall_of_silence

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_provocateur

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/nonviolence-as-compliance/391640/