Bare Bones

Premise: The dominant global economic system (laissez-faire Capitalism) is not sustainable.

Argument: Immediate infrastructural reforms are necessary to correct this problem. Failure to do so will ensure the continued decay of society [the middle class in particular] and the environmental resources it depends on.

Conclusion: A) Sustainability is achieved, prosperity returns. B) The status quo goes unchanged, chaos and ruin inevitable by the very nature of globalized laissez-faire Capitalism escalate and accelerate.

What kind of infrastructure reforms?

Regulation of speculative finance, and of conflicts of interest between lobbyists, corporations and Congress. Including the over turning of Citizen’s United and an end to unlimited, anonymous campaign finance.

Elimination of wasteful spending in the military industrial complex, agri-business and fossil fuel subsidies.

More democratic representation for the public in the nation’s largest investment decisions (including dealings on Wall Street).

A more progressive tax code, especially with regard to social security (i.e., raising the cap on income which is taxed for SS and evening out the benefits dispersed – changes of this nature can make the program viable for several more decades).

Opportunity for experimental initiatives to be increased, possibly subsidized – ranging from new methods of education and research and development to new business models like employee-owned corporations.

All of these suggestions are intended to deal with current problems, to prevent their recurrence in the future, and to promote sustainability and prosperity for all of society.

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Today’s Feudalism

When you observe class divisions in wealth among the masses – it appears land is still the most valuable asset, land that is privately owned, with that private ownership protected by force. People must pay the land lords to live on that land, or they will not be protected from enforcers (once roaming bandits, now the institutionalized police). In short, we have a New Feudalism today. (A bit of a jump to that conclusion I realize, but humor me for now).

The rise of the Capitalist class gained some of that land-owner power that was traditionally monopolized by royalty, and yet now it is being monopolized by Capitalists, who work to buy whole governments to serve their own interests (and so make serfs of the laborers living under those governments in the process).

In my previous post – it was not out of some pretense of superiority I labeled minimum wage workers as today’s peasants. Branding people as an innately “inferior” class is arrogant and not my intent, I am merely making wealth and power-based observations about groups of people in society.

Dominance has evolved throughout the ages. From strength as beasts, to kinship in tribes, to the royalty and capitalists of nations. Democracy does provide a healthy counter balance to private concentrations of power – but the private power holders, in their lust for control, are driven to endlessly try and de-legitimize all things Democratic. It is a dance because excesses of both private and public power can lead to tyranny.

As an American in the early 21st century, I am inclined to note the scales of power appear tipped at an unhealthy imbalance, with an excess of influence in private hands.

In the simplest of terms – a land lord owns the people living on his land. He can demand rent from them – and the police will enforce payment of that debt.

It’s not exactly slavery – but combined with wage labor, it isn’t much better than that either, especially for people born without wealth, without land. Granted people are free to leave if they wish – if they can afford to. Money – and unemployment in particular – are tools through which the masses are controlled, they are the whips of the new age slave drivers.

The concept of profiting from land-ownership rather than labor is perhaps the invention of elders. It is conceivable such a system was intentionally devised to perpetuate the welfare of older people, who become less able to work with time but who experience no lessening in their desire of wealth as they age.

The nature of privatization has left many elders at the mercy of Capitalists too however, so it would be unfair to wholly characterize the state of the world as an “Old vs. Young” conflict. In a similar vein, “Rich vs. Poor” is not wholly accurate either, because one need not be a land-owning Capitalist to be rich. The Capitalist class is the top 1% of the top 1%.

It may not be that this elite group of people seek to enslave the world, but the infrastructure of our Capitalist business system does in fact give them that power. Further, a sinister minority is conceivable who do in fact consciously intend to make serfs of us all. More likely however, is that they have deep faith in a profoundly misguided ideology, whose benefits to them will blind them to the mass harm it does to others.

Hence it is very interesting that in 2011 – after 30 years of unprecedented gains by the 1% at the expense of the 99% (but also to their marginal benefit) – that open rebellion has begun against the Capitalists.

If history teaches us anything – it’s that no dynasty has ever been immortal. The dominance of Capitalists appears to be on its way out – and even if recent events prove to be only the planting of a new seed, it cannot be unplanted – and the Capitalists will eventually lose power.

The question is – when will that be, and who will replace them? I hope for all our sakes we can make the new rulers design a more sustainable global economic system!

Ye Olde Middle Ages 2011

Know the past, know the present, and you can know some of the future.

I have come to view lifetime minimum wage workers as today’s peasants. They are effectively serfs. Unskilled labor will always be paid as little as employers can get away with.

The lords of today, and I’ve made this point before, are the big wig land/property owners.

Perhaps it is natural society be divided into classes of varying wealth – after all, people are certainly not all equal in regard to their talents or work ethic.

It may be unfair that some are born to every advantage while others enter life into poverty – but fairness is a distinctly human idea that we wish to impose on a nature that is not and has never been fair.

Nature can be understood with only a few basic observable concepts and patterns.

Diversity. Competition. Change. Balance. Interconnectedness. Cycles. Infinite Unknowns. Sustainability.

This is a tangent, but notice fairness is not among the Natural Laws except within the societies of man.

Look on the bright side people – serfs today live better than they Ever have in all of human history! (Of course, so do the Lords and Pharaohs).

Revolutions happen to remove the ruling class from power when it becomes excessively corrupt – too heartless and apathetic to the suffering of the masses. It is natural a hard worker should not want to share his wealth with one who refuses to work – yet giving to charity is also natural, a testament to human compassion.

In the nuclear era, imperialism does not invade territory or conquer people directly with huge land armies as was once done. Nation against nation is bound to end in catastrophe with today’s technology. Thus war has become decentralized and indirect – fought against terrorists or through economic or cyber warfare channels.

The old adage remains true in the face of modern inequality and class divisions – the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The exception to this rule is going to have to be frontier consumerism – by which I mean unsustainable treatment of the environment under imagined pretenses of limitless resources and no consequences to planetary degradation.

It will be very interesting to see how things evolve in the coming decades. Natural resources are ever diminishing while the demand for them is ever increasing due to unchecked population growth. China and India are ahead of the rest of the world in that they will have to deal with these issues first.

I predict sustainability revolutions are already brewing from within the dominant nations globally. The time may soon be upon us for a new age to begin -but beyond the necessity of a change to sustainability, I cannot say what the character of the new world will be.

Hopefully we can finally make royalty and fascism obsolete!

Why does any of this matter? Simple – If you are aware of what the future will likely hold, you can prepare for it. If you ignore the signs, it’s only a matter of time before chaos catches you by surprise.

Fascism Will Always Fail

Radical authoritarian nationalists (thank you Wikipedia) exist in virtually every territory in the world.

They are locked in an eternal struggle with the forces of democracy. They view themselves as the only legitimate patriots and everyone else as subversives, fools or other sweeping generalizations that might be used as a pretext to disqualify them from their right to political participation.

A Fascist government tolerates no dissent – no protesting in the street, no criticism of the state on blogs. To challenge the ruling regime under fascism is to commit heresy/treason and face the harshest of consequences.

To quote JFK, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”

In 2011, at the dawn of the 21st century, it appears to me fascism is on the rise. And I’m not talking about Islamic fascism in the Middle East, I’m talking about Capitalist Fascism in the US, China, Russia and Europe.

In effect these states may also be Plutocracies, but since they could never admit to being as much publicly, they parade around under the guises of nationalism and conservative tradition. Trans-National Capitalists (TNCs) are the effective royalty of the globalized Plutocratic empire.

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” -Sinclair Lewis

That prophetic quote is from 1975. Since 1980 however, the “Pro-Business” rhetoric strikes me as a much better vehicle for fascism than religious nationalism characteristic of the 70s (though such sentiments remain active even today).

President Calvin Coolidge summarized this post-1980 doctrine well ahead of his time in 1925 when he said, “The business of America is business.”

To counter the trend of Progressivism and reform that FDR set into motion in the 1930s, it took Reagan’s famous, “Government is the problem” ideology. Reagan’s policies were supported by the prominent economist Milton Friedman, who became famous for harshly criticizing Keynes – the British economist on whose theories the American New Deal was based.

Libertarianism, that Ayn Rand-esque philosophy of today’s super-rich that seeks absolute freedom for individuals, is a product of this mentality, which sees as evil any restrictions on one person’s success for the betterment of the community.

It is a continuation of Neo-Liberalism that seeks to deregulate businesses and lower taxes on the wealthiest earners in the name of “Trickle-Down” theory. A theory that has proven never to really trickle-down at all over the last 30 years, but has dramatically enriched the already-wealthy (which, arguably, was its only intention from the beginning).

The fundamental difference between Keynesianism and Trickle-Down theory is called multiplicity.

Keynes advocated getting maximum money into the poorest hands during hard economic times – because they would spend it immediately and it would have a high rate of turnover.

Friedman sought to reduce restrictions on the wealthiest business owners theorizing this would lead to their expansion and the creation of more jobs. (It has, in fact helped business expansion, but instead of more jobs created, the money was mostly directed toward higher bonuses for CEOs and bankers/investors/realtors in the financial sector).

The multiplicity in Trickle-Down theory is very low, because when extra money is given to the wealthiest they don’t tend to spend it immediately, but rather invest it as *savings* – which does not stimulate the economy or provide job growth for the community, and instead only serves as financial security for the wealthy.

This simple difference in effectiveness lies at the heart of all modern political struggle. Keynesian economics is about 3 times more effective than Trickle-Down is, by this measure of multiplicity.

Similarly, all the talk of “job killing” regulations is largely propaganda and nonsense. Do you want to get rid of the Clean Air or Water Acts? Regulation on derivative securities trading could have prevented the 2008 mortgage financial crisis.

Such regulation was seen as dissent against the ruling Fascists however – it targeted the very root of their most profitable-ever global fraud scheme.

Graham-Leahy-Bliley repealed Glass-Steagall, the 1930s banking regulation that separated investment banks from commercial banks and prohibited the former from speculating with its depositors’ money. This set the stage for the financial collapse. Though Dodd-Frank has attempted to revive Glass-Steagall, its implementation has been fought at every turn by elements loyal to the TNCs.

After 30 years of the TNCs holding global dominance and espousing Trickle-Down theory, popular backlash has begun – in the form of the Arab Spring revolutions and Occupy Wall Street protests.

The Fascists are quick to denounce these dissidents. They are the unwashed masses! Communists! Socialists! They want something for free! They are terrorists! They represent the worst of society! [implicit in fascist mythology is the idea that the most successful (richest) businessmen represent the best of society]

As the challenge for dominance in society escalates, Fascist governments (pulled by the puppet strings of the Plutocrat TNCs) will begin to employ greater use of violence to suppress the rebellion – and this will be their fatal mistake.

When the people begin to realize their rulers don’t respect their right to live – the people will begin to stop respecting the rulers’ right to rule. And once that legitimacy is lost, it is almost impossible to regain. At that point it is not a matter of if the Fascist government will fall from power, but when.

Conformity by force might keep stability in the short run, but in the long run it stifles diversity and innovation, ultimately leading to stagnation and deterioration. By suppressing political dissent, a regime hamstrings its own ability to evolve.

The regime’s competition however evolves rapidly – as heavy handed abuses of power act as catalysts to create the very dissent authorities intended to discourage.

Privacy and Legitimacy

Between the infamous Patriot Act and the ceaseless rumors your iPhone or Android may be tracking your every move and message – it’s tough to feel secure in today’s increasingly technologically integrated world.

Internet giant Facebook seeks to create “real name” culture online where anonymity is minimized and as much as possible information is publicly shared. Facebook’s new style broadcasts things automatically, making the assumption the user wants their every activity in the public record.

Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice, has said he doesn’t believe the Constitution guarantees any right to privacy at all, despite the 4th amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Who can be trusted with our privacy? The short answer is – no one, trust yourself.

Private companies can effortlessly pre-program spyware into all of the devices they sell, unless the government regulates this activity and bars them from doing it. And even then (assuming the regulation was ever strongly enforced to begin with) we have to generously assume Federal agencies won’t exempt themselves from the restrictions. (In other words, the FBI might argue they can invade your privacy for security reasons, but Verizon or AT&T doing the same would be illegal).

Shall we just let the free market decide? After all, businesses will lose customers if it becomes public knowledge they don’t care about your privacy.

Or is there actually some action we can trust the government or businesses to take here?

Two issues at the heart of this matter are trustworthiness and legitimacy.

People may trust phone companies enough to handle their privacy, or they may trust the government. Suppose that trust is violated however – then the issue becomes about legitimacy. Is the violator’s authority to invade your privacy legal?

If they are a business, probably not.

If they are the government, they will probably get away with it if they can argue it was for “security” purposes.

There are really only a few ways to challenge the law – in court, politically, or by force. The legal begal routes change the actual laws, but force (i.e. rebellion) acts on the idea that the law is illegitimate, thus unworthy of being followed.

In all three cases the government status quo has a significant advantage.

Opposition by force is especially a double edged sword. Forceful resistance to the police would cause the government to delegitimize the offending group – having the media portray them as lawless, dangerous criminals not worthy of the protections regular citizens are ensured by law. Not to mention the federal military is the strongest force on earth – so resisting the police doesn’t seem the wisest idea anyway considering the back-up they can call for.

Law enforcement frequently is portrayed as justified and socially legitimate even when the law being enforced is unpopular, unnatural, ineffective or when the force used to enforce it is excessive.

Most troublesome is the idea that our political system itself is illegitimate. That it is all but a puppet show tyrants perform to lull the masses to sleep and keep them unaware of the fact that they really have no control over how the strings are pulled.

An illegitimate political system would render the court and legislation options for change useless. How then, to challenge illegitimate laws? If not through the might of superior force, the only approach would have to be to restore the legitimacy of the political system.

 

Security

Lately there has been a “Climate-gate” 2.0 circulating around the right wing news outlets. Global warming is a myth! The scientists faked their data to scam the tax payers for money! So the narrative goes…

Given the billions America spends on private defense contractor companies – is it so unreasonable to apply the same argument to national security? Might that also be a scam for money where “threats” are faked data to use fear to con tax payers into giving up more of their money? It seems more than possible, it almost surely happens somewhere.

The trouble with lessaiz-faire capitalism is that it is prone to wild excesses. Seeking ever-greater profits, businesses work relentlessly to increase demand for their products – if that must include dishonest methods, so be it. After all, “greed is good” according to Lessaiz-Faire Capitalism. Billions are poured into advertising propaganda, over-production, and mass-distribution systems to create new markets for the over-produced products.

These excesses create all kinds of harmful externalities. They are bad for the environment, they are bad for the common worker/citizen small business owner.

Hence whenever you hear the word “Security” used you should keep in mind exactly what the government really wants to secure – the profits of large corporations.

Similarly, the war on drugs has nothing to do with crime or morality. It is all about securing profits – preventing competition in the pharma and tobacco markets. It is the perfect excuse to militarize the police and expand the power of the state to enforce perverted laws written by elite business interests apathetic to the welfare of the public.

Perhaps the most vulnerable aspect of the corporate-state establishment is its computer system. Information is power – it enables blackmail, it can transform public opinion. For all the advances in modern weaponry, a humble hacker in his basement can still be more dangerous to all the entrenched powers of the world than any predator drone. Today is truly a golden age to join the information security industry.

Groups like Anonymous have the potential to affect historic influence. We shall see how wisely or effectively those info security experts use their skills to foment political change. Personally, I am excited to see how these matters will develop in the years to come.

No amount of pepper spray or other methods of “pain compliance” will succeed in modifying the behavior of dissident political radicals so long as the state remains corrupt. If anything, the use of force to attempt to suppress anti-establishment rhetoric will only encourage and escalate rebellious actions.

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.