Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of interest are easy to recognize! The former leader of a company should Never be in charge of regulating that company or its industry.

Nor should any congressional worker be allowed to get lobbyist or “consulting” jobs, or vice versa.

Aristocrats arrogantly presume to privatize our government – arguably that’s treason.

A regulator’s job is to protect the people, not to maximize business profits. How can we trust someone so close to a large corporation (the type where regulation is most important) to be loyal to the American people and not their former company, for their own personal profit? The easy answer is – we can’t trust that, at least I can’t anyway.

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On a slight tangent, let’s talk about Obama’s healthcare law.

Conservatives are all worked up about the government forcing them to buy something (already happens with car insurance).

The way I see it, we can either have the government squeeze us for more money, or have the market do it. Since the private sector is not accountable to the public the way the government is supposed to be, I’d rather have Uncle Sam handle my healthcare.

Hospitals don’t turn dying, uninsured people away when they show up at the emergency room. So either everyone has to buy health insurance to help cover those costs or the free market screws all the people who Do pay their bills by endlessly raising their fees.

Putting a for-profit middle man corporation between you and your care provider does not necessarily make it more efficient, but it does make it much more expensive.

A single-payer system, which was a key factor in making “Obamacare” affordable, was a feature removed by the wealthy insurance lobby. The ability to negotiate on drug prices, also a major detail in keeping “Obamacare” affordable, was removed by the wealthy pharmaceutical lobby.

For all their differences, Democrats and Republicans are really the same party. The money party. For that reason I’m happy to see people in the streets, giving the aristocracy some pressure and ultimately, some competition.

The People Who Own The World

Just a few centuries ago the dominant nations of the world were mostly ruled by royalty – kings whose right to power had an almost automatic legitimacy through generations of sitting at the top of the pyramid.

In America today the idea of equality between men has become a potent weapon against this presumed legitimacy. With the exception of revolutionary groups like the Soviet Bolsheviks in the 1920s who simply repossessed property from the Church and the wealthy, the land and riches of the aristocrat class have more or less remained in the same family hands.

What gives a land lord the right to charge people rent? I have heard the argument that after building houses or shops upon this land, it’s only natural to want a return on that investment. But what about those who have inherited huge swaths of land – entire cities? People who have made no investment but still can endlessly reap profits. Once the initial investment has been earned back – ownership of the land does not transfer to those who live on it and have paid rent equal to the full value of the property, instead they must forever continue paying a land lord for the privilege of using their land – paying far beyond the value of that land.

The only real justification for the charging of rent by the wealthiest of land lords is to cover the property taxes that the government imposes. If we consider beyond that, and imagine they were without that bill, then they could simply collect free money without having to work for it indefinitely. Is this not the exact same behavior the wealthy are so quick to criticize the poor for, as welfare leeches and bums? Does this not enslave the rent-payers to the ownership of the land lords?

The question: “What do you do for a living?” would be as absurd to ask a king from the 15th century as it would of one of today’s elite American land lords. They don’t have to work for a living because they already own enough to sustain themselves, and sometimes even their offspring and whole family, practically indefinitely.

Most people profit through their labor – that is the cost they pay and the sacrifice they make to gain. The Owners by contrast profit through investment, so their only sacrifice is risk, not labor. What irony that the Working class takes pride in their labor! The Owner class does not have to work to continue to profit.

For God’s sake, it has the word Lord right in the name! We are not raised in America to believe there are royalty within our nation, but that is exactly what elite land lords are, just like the owners of huge corporations and investment banks.

Property rights are written into the Constitution specifically to protect this land-owning class from the People’s democracy.

Perhaps the most fundamental problem is our cultural concept of eternal land ownership. In previous ages land was an object of competition. If your neighboring tribe’s land had more game, it was in your interest to drive them off it and claim the animals for your own tribe – just as naturally they would defend their resources from your aggression.

Today’s wealthiest elite land lords, exactly like the royalty of the past, imagine they are above competition for control of vast areas of resources. The worst they have had to deal with is progressive taxation from democracy, or outright war from other nations – rarely revolution from within. The reality is – Owners are clearly Not above competition for control of resources. To assume their ownership has automatic legitimacy is foolish.

By the same token, how could I feel secure in my own property if it is subject to competition? That is where the government comes in. The police and military exist to defend property rights. It was perhaps natural that our society evolved to have a government beholden to wealthy private interests. But will it remain this way forever? I think that depends on how our ideas about property and ownership change in the coming years…

In a purely objective sense, even the richest of rich men doesn’t really own anything. His “ownership” is only the product of those who are willing to defend his rights to the property and a lack of those willing to challenge him for control of it.

The Great Distraction

One of the key things I have come to understand about politicians and the mass media is that the things they do not talk about are often more important than what they do discuss.

The rising populist anger of the Occupy movement against the dominant monied regime, though still awkward and inconvenient for Democrats, especially worries Republicans and their plutocrat handlers – because their incessant repetition of “blame the government” is now starting to fall on deaf ears.

Don’t blame big business! Heavens no! They might have spent millions on advertising propaganda and lobbyists to de-regulate their own industries, to legalize the reckless, dishonest business practices that lead to the 2008 crisis – but don’t blame them!

They’re the “job creators!” (Overseas or minimum wage anyway). The financial sector isn’t overpaid for their jobs far beyond the actual amount of value they contribute to society… No! People are just jealous of their success! Lazy socialists want hand outs.

Our congressmen might even be former corporate lobbyists, or they’ll act like one in office to ensure that such a job will be waiting for them when they inevitably lose an election – but please ignore these blatant conflicts of interest.

The strategy of this do-nothing Congress is deliberate. They want the government not to create jobs, they want it to be ineffective at solving the nation’s problems, because they are betting uninformed voters will direct their anger at Uncle Sam (or Obama) himself, rather than at the ultimate source of the government’s corruption and sabotage – big private money.

And why? Why would they want to keep unemployment high? Isn’t it obvious? To sustain the record corporate profits and executive bonuses they’ve been getting! To keep unions weak and voters divided so that the gravy train of welfare for the wealthy never gets de-railed.

Non-issues of theocratic veins like creationism, gay marriage and abortion become manufactured controversies to prevent the public from talking about issues the business elite don’t want them talking about.

Even the debt-ceiling debate and the Balanced Budget Amendment were cynical attempts at gutting popular programs like social security and medicare under the false pretense of caring about US debt (which has SKYROCKETED thanks to the Bush wars and tax breaks, which were championed by the SAME people who now hypocritically holler and cry so loudly about Obama’s spending and the deficit).

The aristocrat thieves’ attempts to re-direct public anger away from themselves is beginning to fail.

People are starting to see through their lies, which have worked amazingly well for close to 30 years.

The really interesting question is, what will the People do now that their eyes have begun to open? I doubt sincerely those who have worked tirelessly to keep the People divided or distracted will meet with favorable fates. All Karma being equal, they will finally reap the chaos and suffering themselves that they have long sowed for others to beget personal gain.

Financial criminals from the 2008 crisis could have been publicly executed for treason, and much of the public would have delighted in their hanging.

Is Greed Good?

The Libertarian argument looks to lower taxes on the generous presumption that it is in society’s best interests to let powerful people be greedy – that way they will expand their businesses more and create the most jobs.

Is this trickle-down theory a wise way to look at things? Has its ideological experiment withstood the test of history? Since the implementation of this Neo-Liberal agenda beginning in 1980 the inequalities of wealth in developed nations have escalated dramatically. Privatize, deregulate, cut social spending, limit the power of the government or make it ‘friendly’ to big business.

British progressive economist John Maynard Keynes, who influenced the New Deal era policies of the U.S. (which created millions of jobs and enabled a healthy middle class via wealth redistribution) said, “Capitalism is the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.”

Old critics of socialism are quick to point out the corruption in government, arguing any overtaking of the private sector by public bureaucracy powers invariably leads to inefficiency (Or totalitarianism, as Hayek would argue). Despite the meteoric economic rise of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the short term, these critiques, coupled with the hubris of aggressively militant leaders, proved to be correct in their grim predictions for centralized planning of the economy by the federal government.

Yet since the end of WWII, a new kind of socialism has evolved, one more compatible with the free markets idealized by capitalists. (Though “Free Market” ideology is often espoused, heavy government subsidization is preferred among capitalists for their own companies, as well as tariffs to limit foreign competitors). This new system, Economic Democracy, still relies on the natural self-interest of people, but it does not take the “Greed is Good” mantra to the pharaoh-like extremes individualist America has.

Under Economic Democracy, where the employees legally own and control corporations instead of private capitalists or the government, the business self-interest of the workers dictates when expansion should occur. The incentive to monopolize or expand into mass production/consumption industries are considerably less than in capitalist companies, because by increasing jobs within the company workers dilute their own percentage share of company profits, as well as the influence of their vote (used to elect managers, executives and decide salaries).

This system is better for both the workers, their local community and the environment. Proportional wages are paid in this model, tying worker paychecks more directly to the amount of local sales they can produce and ideally removing private capitalist landlords from the equation. Democracy in the workplace limits the excess bonuses of those at the top of the pyramid and keeps average wages higher than global averages in comparable industries. Workers in this system have better pay, better benefits and more job security.

The most fundamental difference lies in the investment infrastructure. Unlike Wall Street, which is oriented by private aristocrats investing for personal financial gain in ways unaccountable to the public, an Economic Democracy gives the People a voice in directing capital flows toward developing areas of social benefit economically.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

One of the top Republicans, Eric Cantor, canceled a speech he was set to give the other day on income inequality in America because he learned the speech would be open to the public – and Occupy protestors were going to be there.

http://www.newser.com/story/131590/eric-cantor-cancels-financial-speech-at-wharton-after-learning-it-was-open-to-public.html

From the above article: [Cantor had been due to speak at] Wharton Business School in Philadelphia but pulled out when “informed last night by Capitol Police that the University of Pennsylvania was unable to ensure that the attendance policy previously agreed to could be met.”

Attendance policy! What a joke this guy is, afraid of a bunch of hippies? Hippies who know you’re screwing them Cantor, given that speech he was meant to give would have talked about how helping the poor should still mean “making sure those at the top stay there.”

Last time I checked, free market capitalism is about Competition! You aren’t immune from competition once you get to the top, the People know better, know that the game is rigged.

This act of cowardice is a good sign for the protestors. It makes Cantor look weak, and will further embolden the resistance against him and his ilk. Cantor is smart enough to know he is both economically and morally wrong, though he’ll never admit to it publicly. He was avoiding bad press – but Obama at least had the balls to talk to a Tea Party crowd…

2008 Bank Bail Outs – Crappy, But Necessary

TARP had to be done. AIG alone insured all major US banks. Had it collapsed, the credit our economy depends on would have been destroyed.

Bailing out the People’s mortgages or jobs would have been MUCH more expensive than bailing out the banks.

Had the banks collapsed, we’d have had national and consequently global depression. Imagine utilities being shut off in your home. No electricity, no internet, no water. Imagine the money in your bank account and your parent’s bank accounts disappearing, being left with only the cash in your wallet. While everyone in your family simultaneously loses their job. Society would revert to chaos and violence.

This being said – bank reforms are still necessary. Before internet commerce banks could only operate within their own states – preventing “too big to fail” corporations from developing. But banks of such size have become necessary today to facilitate internet commerce.

Glass-Steagall separated commercial and investment banks. It meant certain banks existed to facilitate job creation. Now those banks exist primarily to profit their owners. Changes must be made to prevent this crisis from happening again – but as unpopular as the bail outs were, they were likely still preferable to their alternative.

Let us recognize the obvious fact that reform is necessary. Another bubble crisis will without doubt happen within the next decade or two if changes are not made to investment and banking laws soon – perhaps it will be student loan debt this time around.

The job-creating function of infrastructure banks needs to be restored.

“Too Big to Fail” banks need to be held accountable for their dishonest business practices with the most severe punishments possible, so that we need not ever again repeat the profoundly avoidable robbery of 2008.