Friday, April 15, 2016

The Grapes Of Wrath - Ready For The Harvest



“and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath.
In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling
and growing heavy,
growing heavy for the vintage.”

~John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath


    John Steinbeck's brilliant novel "The Grapes Of Wrath" was published on April 14th  in 1939.
He documents how society is divided into the dominant  and the dominated and how people in the dominant roles in a society act viciously to preserve their dominance. The novel identifies that division as the primary source of evil and suffering in the world.

So Where Is Tom Joad Today?

   “And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of the dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmuring of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on.”~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes Of Wrath

   What have we learned? Where are we today in terms of combating the obvious evil that arises when any group of people assemble themselves as a force to dominate others? Whether it is politically or economically, the lesson history teaches us is ignored time and again.
Indeed what is the true nature of capitalism in today's world?
 Is it some grand national adventure, as politicians and textbooks preached when I was growing up? Is it some benign system in which markets provide framework for amiable competition, from which emerges the greatest good for the greatest number of people? Or is it merely the domain of class struggle, a “global class war,” as Jeff Faux’s book of the same title would have it, in which the “party of Davos” outmaneuvers the remnants of the organized working class and beats them down?

The doctrines of the “law and economics” movement, now ascendant in our courts ["law & economics" is the theoretical analysis of law focusing on efficiency. Basically a legal situation is said to be efficient if a right is given to the party who would be willing to pay the most for it.],  suggest that firms will adhere on their own to honorable conduct. That any public presence in the economy undermines this. Even insurance—whether deposit insurance or Social Security—is perverse in this belief system, for it encourages irresponsible risk taking. Banks will lend to bad clients, companies will speculate with their pension funds, etc. This movement has even argued that seat belts foster reckless driving. To adherents insurance creates a “moral hazard” for which “market discipline” is the cure-all.  It’s a strange vision, and if we weren’t governed by people like John Roberts and Sam Alito, who pretend to believe it, it would hardly be worth wasting our attention on.

“ Class struggle is the history of all hitherto existing society”-~ Karl Marx

  The idea of class struggle goes back a long way; it really is “the history of all hitherto existing society,” as Marx and Engels had declared. But if the world is ruled by a handful of monied elite, What role does the middle-class working citizen have today in the global society, or even in his or her own nation state?   None. It's a shell game, a hoax.  The political decline of the left flows in part from rhetoric that no longer matches experience; generally speaking, people in the developed nations do not feel they are living on the edge of a Malthusian catastrophe. Dollars mostly, but Euros and Pounds as well, command most of the world's goods...rupees not so much. So workers, as members in the "dollar" economy have been assimilated and in  today's world; are made complicit in sustaining and ever expanding the influence of the capitalist class.



 I grew up in the mixed-economy America. Yes, there existed a post-capitalist, post-Marxian vision of middle-class identity and indeed pride. It consisted of shared burdens, assets and entitlements.
The cornerstone of which was public education. Along with access to college, decent housing, full employment at living wages, Medicare, and Social Security.
    These programs, were publicly provided, financed, or guaranteed, and had softened the sharp edges of Great Depression capitalism, rewarding the sacrifices that won the Second World War. They also showcased America, demonstrating to those behind the Iron Curtain that regulated capitalism could yield prosperity far beyond the capacities of state planning. (This, and not the arms race, are what really ended the Soviet empire.) These middle-class institutions survive in America today, but they are weakened, diluted, frayed and tattered from constant attack. The division between those included and those excluded is large and growing larger exponentially with each year. This is frightfully obvious.

   The main feature today of modern American capitalism is certainly neither benign competition, nor class struggle, nor an inclusive middle-class utopia. No the main feature is predation. It has become a system where the rich come to feast on decaying systems built for the middle class.
I concede of course, that the predatory class is not the whole of the wealthy; it may be opposed by many others of similar wealth. But it is sadly the defining feature and the leading force in today's world. The agents of this bloodfeast are in full control of the governments under which we live.
Our rulers deliver favors to their clients.They have no interest in representing us, there's not enough cash in that. In the U.S. the predators range from Native American casino operators, to Appalachian coal companies, to 3rd world sweatshop operators, to the oil field operators of Iraq. They include the misanthropes who led the campaign to abolish the estate tax; Charles Schwab, who suggested the dividend tax cut of 2003; the “Benedict Arnold” companies who move their taxable income offshore; and the financial institutions behind the crash of 2007. Everywhere you look in the U.S or the U.K., you find public decisions yield gains to very specific private entities. We have become a predatory regime, and nothing is done for public reasons ever. Those in charge do not recognize that “public purposes” even exist at all. They have friends, and enemies, and as for the rest—we’re simply their prey.
    Remember what happened in New Orleans? Hurricane Katrina illustrated this perfectly, as Halliburton scooped up contracts and Bush hamstrung Kathleen Blanco, the Democratic governor of Louisiana. He stuck a guy who had organized a dog show in charge of the relief and rescue operations. The population of New Orleans was, at best, an afterthought; and once dispersed, it was quickly forgotten. In this predator-prey model, growth among the prey stimulates predation.
The two populations grow together at first, but when the balance of power shifts toward the predators
they swoop in and take everything they prey has accumulated. They have all sorts of tools for doing this; rising interest rates, utility rates, oil prices, crashing home prices by flooding the market with worthless mortgages, buying off the government, or outright embezzlement to name a few).
When any catastrophe occurs, from the 9-11 attacks to Hurricane Sandy,  the predators swoop in and use the catastrophe to enrich themselves. Yes, the Iraq war was nothing more than just that, vulture capitalism at it's worst, an excuse to loot the treasury and funnel money to the capitalist class. No one in government had concern for the suffering of the 1st responders, who sought to have their medical bills paid...14 years later the few who hadn't died from cancers as a result of exposure to toxins in the burning buildings they walked into on that day to save as many lives as they could, were still begging congress for a bill that would help with their medical bills. Gov. Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani like to cite the attacks as some sort of personal badge of honor, but politically they forgot entirely about the actual people who suffered loss and or disease in those attacks, they were largely discarded except for the occasional photo op. Christie thanks the first responders by not funding the states portion of their pensions, and has sought to bust the public employees unions, roll back healthcare & pay for them. 9-11 was little more than a cash cow to the predators. An excuse to undo the Magna Carta, to stick their bloated friends in cushy 'homeland security' positions, and to loot Iraqi oil fields.
Everything that happens is an excuse to prey.
Predator Capitalism Is The Enemy 
Of Honest Business As Well As Workers
    In a world where the "winners" are all connected, it’s not only the prey who lose out. It’s everyone who hasn’t licked the required boots. Predatory regimes are nothing more than protection rackets. They may be powerful and feared, but never loved nor respected. They do not enjoy a broad political base. In a predatory economy, the rules imagined by the law and economics crowd don’t apply. There’s no market discipline. Predators compete not by following the rules but by breaking them. They take the business-school view of law: Rules are not designed to guide behavior but laid down to define the limits of unpunished conduct. Once one gets close to the line, stepping over it is easy. A predatory economy fosters and rewards criminal behavior.


The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is To Own One
    Remember the Savings and Loan and Keating Five scandals?
  obvious examples where the leader of an organization uses his company as a “weapon” of fraud and a “shield” against prosecution.  Look at Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom, The Neil Bush S&L looting.  All examples of controlled fraud which was protected by clean audits from respected accountants. The large frauds were nearly all committed in institutions taken over for that purpose by criminal networks, often by big players like Charles Keating, Michael Milken,Bernie Madoff, and Don Dixon. There’s another reason people need to be concerned about predatory institutions. They invariably fail in the end. They fail because they are meant to fail. Predators suck the life from the businesses they command, concealing the fact for as long as possible behind fraudulent accounting and hugely complex transactions; and that’s the looter’s point.

     We have governments run by people rooted in this culture.
To expect that they should not also be predatory is lunacy.
The link between George H.W. Bush, who led the deregulation of the S&Ls, his son Neil, who ran a corrupt S&L, and Neil’s brother George, for whom Ken Lay sent thugs to Florida in 2000 on the Enron plane, could hardly be any closer. But aside from occasional references to “kleptocracy” in other countries, economic opinion has been slow to recognize this. Thinking wistfully, we assume that government wants to do good, and its failure to do so is a matter of incompetence.
This is not so. You can't complain if your wine is sour when you choose a liar to select the brew he pours you.

    One would think if our governments are also predatory, or at least controlled by predators, then they too will fail: not merely politically, but in every substantial way. Government will not cope with global warming, or Hurricane Katrina, or Iraq—not because it is incompetent but because it is willfully indifferent to the problem of competence.
    What mechanisms survive for calling the predators to account?
Unfortunately, at the highest levels, one cannot rely on the justice system, thanks to the power of the pardon. It’s politics or nothing, recognizing that in a world of predators, all established parties are corrupted in at least part.  So, how can the political system reform itself? How can we reestablish checks, balances, countervailing power, and a sense of public purpose? How can we get modern economic predation back under control, restoring the possibilities not only for progressive social action but also—just as important—for honest private economic activity? Until we can answer those questions, the predators will continue to rape and pillage. We can say Steinbeck's powerful observations are just as true today as in 1939. All the gains of our father's generation, and ours as well are now being looted.  Being taken back.  The question is, what will we do about it?
What has happened in the past when peoples are made necessitous?
When they hunger?
When they have been robbed?

“Whenever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Whenever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there . . . . I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'-I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build-why, I'll be there." 
~Tom Joad in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath"

John Steinbeck

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Good Economic Policy vs. Bad Economic Policy



I see myself as an F.D.R. Democrat and since the 1980s I've watched the Democratic party leadership morph from progressive classic liberal policies into what we now call "New Democrats" which essentially is a wing of neoliberalism. New Democrats signed on to the "Washington Consensus"which was (and is) the doctrine of globalization. A creed of faith in unregulated markets operating in an ethical and efficient manner if the state does not interfere.
A misguided faith in believing the poor and the rich have no conflicting interests.
That privatization, deregulation, and open capital markets promote fairness & economic development for all, that governments should balance budgets and fight inflation and do didly squat beyond that.
We all have observed this is complete bullshit.
The Washington Consensus is clearly just another Trojan horse "gift" that attacks the middle class. Not unlike Trickle Down economics.
(Take from the poor and give to the rich). The absurdity of believing unrestrained capitalism, if allowed to do what it will, free from any oversight or regulation, free from the shackles of environmental protection or labor laws, somehow will behave ethically and benefit everyone is simply beyond the pale. But many people buy it.
We know why it's sold...but consumer beware...this doctrine is toxic, it is a cancer.
Conservatives of course embrace this sort of thinking, and neither you nor I should be the least bit surprised by that. After all the main premise of conservatism is to maintain or increase the existing social hierarchy.
The truth is that people with power and wealth very often believe that alone gives them "divine" rights to control or dominate  society.

  When politicians who claim to be acting on behalf of social or economic fairness embrace this toxic policy; we should not only be surprised, but outraged. This is the problem, largely created as a result of the huge importance of money in politics. The larger the role of money in political campaigns & the general machinery of the state; the more policy is defaced to resemble what those who supply the money want it to be. This is not anything like Democracy. It is Fascism, or Oligarchy. But it is not Democracy.
Look, as a nation, as a people, the bottom line of economics is that people need to eat and be sheltered every day. This is a constant. As the brilliant economist Jamie Galbraith has said "Policies that guarantee that they can do so{eat & afford shelter}, and with steadily improving diets and housing and health and other material conditions of life over long time spans, are good policies. Policies that foster instability directly or indirectly, that prevent people from eating in the name of efficiency or liberalism or even in the name of freedom, are not good policies. And it is possible to distinguish policies that meet this minimum standard from policies that do not."


Let's take four major financial securities: stocks, bonds, derivatives, and foreign currency purchases (forex). A European study a few years ago involving just 11 countries, whose collective economies are about two-thirds the size of the U.S. economy, concluded that a miniscule financial tax of 0.1 percent on stocks and bonds plus a virtually negligible 0.01 percent tax on derivatives results in an annual tax revenue of US$47 billion. In an equivalent size U.S economy that would be about US$70 billion in revenue a year.
Wealthy investors buying of stocks and bonds is essentially no different than average folks buying food, clothing or other real "goods and services." Why shouldn't investors pay a sales tax on financial securities purchases? In the U.S., average households pay a sales tax of 5 percent to 10 percent for retail purchases of goods and many services. (Many of which are necessities for existence).
So why shouldn't wealthy investors pay a similar sales tax rate for their retail financial securities' purchases? Why not indeed?
(The answer is simple, it's because they have bought influence to insure very favorable tax treatment compared to everyone else).

Now imagine for a second, a 10 percent "sales tax" on stock and bond buying and a 1 percent tax on derivatives. This would generate 100x larger tax revenue than estimated by the European study. This  tax yields US$7 trillion in tax revenue with a 10 percent and 1 percent tax on stocks and bonds and derivatives in the U.S.
Remarkable. 
Well some may argue that wealthy stock and bond buyers should not have to pay that much. It would stifle raising capital for companies. Okay. So let's lower that to half the amount, to  a meager 5 percent tax on stocks and bonds and 0.5 percent on derivatives. That reduces the US$7 trillion tax revenue to a still humongous US$3.5 trillion annually!
China is about to propose a tax on currency trading (Forex). If the U.S. imposed such a tax. on currency, or forex, trades which is about US$400 billion each day! (Not all trading is U.S. currency trading, of course. However, the U.S. dollar is involved in 87 percent of the trading.)  A meager 1 percent tax on U.S. currency trades conservatively yields approximately US$3 billion a day. Assuming a conservative 220 trading days in a year, US$3 billion a day produces US$660 billion in financial tax revenue from U.S. currency financial transactions in a single year.

Nearly every civilized country in the world except the U.S. provides a version of single payer medical care for it's citizens. (it costs about half as much as the private insurance we require in the U.S. for the same coverage). Ask yourself how much of this US $3.5666 trillion a year tax revenue would be needed to fund a single payer-Medicare for All program in the U.S.?
 No country has higher health care costs than the U.S.
The U.K. spends 9 percent of  it's GDP, Japan about 10 percent, France and Germany 11 percent, for example. The U.S., in contrast, pays 17 percent plus of its GDP on health care.
The most recent U.S. GDP is about US$18 trillion a year, 17 percent of US$18 trillion equals just over US$3 trillion a year.
If the U.S. spent, like other advanced economies with single payer, about 10 percent of its GDP a year on health care, it would cost US$1.8 trillion instead of US$3 trillion a year. The U.S. citizens would save US$1.2 trillion dollars.
Where does that  US$1.2 trillion go in the current system?  Not for health services for its citizens. It goes to health insurance companies and other "middlemen," who don't deliver one iota of health care services. They are the "paper pushers" who skim off US$1.2 trillion a year in profits that average returns of 20 percent a year and more. They are frankly just. irrelevant economic parasites. What economists refer to as "rentier capitalists".

What are rentier capitalists? 
People who don't produce anything but suck profits and wages from those who do actually produce something.
A true financial transactions tax, that is still quite reasonable at tax rates of 0.25 percent to 2.5 percent, can pay for all of a single-payer health care program in the U.S. and still have hundreds of billions left over -- US$641 billion to be exact (US$2.41 minus US$1.8 trillion).
That US$641 billion residual could then be used to better fund current Medicare programs. It could eliminate the current 20 percent charge for Medicare Part B physicians services and provide totally free Part D prescription drugs for everyone over 65 years. The savings for seniors over 65 years from this, and the tens of thousands of dollars saved every year by working families who now have to pay that amount for private company health insurance, would now be freed up with a single payer system, to be spent on other real goods and services. Everyone, literally everyone would be far better off.
(Except the renteirs themselves, who would be forced to find more honest work).
A financial transaction tax and single payer program would consequently have the added positive effect of creating the greatest boost in real wages and household income, and therefore consumption, in U.S. economic history.

More consumer demand would ultimately mean more real investment.
Everyone would enjoy some degree of prosperity.

Yes, there would be naysayers claiming  the wealth speculating in stocks, bonds, derivatives, forex and other financial securities would decline if the profits were taxed. . But so what? If rich and wealthy investors don't like that, well as Marie Antoinette allegedly said :  "Let them eat cake"  (or some other four letter word).
This is good policy. It would, in the long run benefit everyone. Even those 1%ers who don't want their securities purchases taxed, it would benefit them too because more capital in the hands of the consumers means higher demands. The capital would flow to them eventually anyway, it just would pass through a lot of hands along the way.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Trump's Movement: Make Fascism Great Again?

     Lo, behold the mighty army crossing the vast wasteland of the American Nightmare, armed and ready to do Der Trump's bidding. Yea, in their Right hand they wield a great sword inscribed with the word "Ignorance".  In their left hand they grasp desperately at weapons of bigotry and rage carefully forged in the foundry fires of  Fox News and Hate Radio. We beheld how the multinational corporate headed beast machine gunned facts, science, and revised history with propaganda!  Verily the bizarre  coalition of the powerful, wealthy, privileged, bigots, war mongers, corporatists, theocrats, hagiarchs,  robber barons, ignoramuses, poltroons & other dunces had been ever so carefully and cunningly assembled and glued together by the wealthiest artisans the Beltway could offer. Yea, we saw how the beast  trained them to deflect any payload of reality or reason  regardless of how sturdily constructed.  The beast mightily smashed down any criticism or appeals to reason. It slayed the general dumbfounded numbness of the utter bullshit they believed, just as they had been taught to do by endless parades of mind numbing right wing propaganda.  Then along comes Mr. Trump, and he simply co-opts the entire structure the Kochs, Rupert Murdoch, and many others; who thought they could act as puppeteers controlling the ignorant mobs they created and exploited.  
     Trump rose from the slimy filth of the fertile breeding ground the Republican party has spent the last half century composting with fear, force feeding on hate, and priming with money.  Even as the lavishly paid con men that the ruling class employs to spin their fairy tales of  trickle down unicorns, Burke and Lazy Fairy markets; the pilfered army Trump took from them only grows and strengthens.
       Perhaps we should all thank Mr. Trump for tearing away the curtains and stage props that the powerful have used to hide behind when accused of dumbing down the discourse, of altering history to their liking, of  blatant lies and propaganda,  of fear mongering,  or fanning flames of  hatred and bigotry.  They managed to design some scenario and argument that at least in their own minds created a plausible deniability.
Trump isn't saying anything the former leaders of this fascist movement weren't also saying to incite them and earn their loyalty, he's just saying it louder and clearer with no possible plausible deniability. No dog whistles.
It's merely the fact that the other elite power brokers on the right who have been acting as puppeteers do not control Trump that is fracturing the GOP. He's taken half the coalition they created from them.
And he's turned them against their former masters. (As well as most everyone else).
Trump reveals himself as a fascist thug....something the former puppet masters denied.
But it's the same bullshit, it's just on a different channel.



Take a breath, notice the odor of the talking heads saturated with the stink of fear and schadenfreude.  Isn't it odd to people like David Brooks begging for someone to come along and save his sorry ass from the beast he has been feeding for the last 20 years.
"Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all."
  This beast he promised time and time again to the small cartel of wealthy men who underwrite his buffoonery and protect him was thoroughly saddle-broken and ready to be ridden right into the Oval Office. A beast that has now kicked the barn door off its hinges and is currently stomping their carefully laid plans for oligarchy to bits. For so many years Brooks and the whole conservative craposphere have insisted THEIR Republican party was not really just a festering cesspit of paranoia and bigotry and fury now reveal that the left has in fact been correct all along...they were and they are. The entire Whig Fan Fiction Factory is exposed for the horseshit it is, and always was.

Brooks and his fellow sycophants throughout corporate media and the conservative echo chamber are apologizing to their employers across the nation for "failing to report accurately". This is obviously a poor attempt at humor because these people don't "report accurately", and never attempted to. They are paid liars and shills. Not journalists investigating issues.  Their lies are not as violent as Trump's perhaps, but they are all basically in the same racket.  Brooks occupation is trafficking in fairy tales about "the real America" that comfort and flatter the thousands of Beltway insiders and  plutocrat rubes, while Trump is paving a path to the White House by telling millions of low-information rubes the flattering, reassuring lies that they want to hear. It is the same scam. Just different chumps, except Trump's chumps are ecstatic, rage-drunk and armed with mighty weapons which you helped to forge, while your chumps are pissing their pants and terrified because their Plutocratic vision of America is being overrun by hordes of rage-drunk, invincibly-armored Mongols and Visigoths you've been telling them did not exist.

The point is not that Brooks or the plutocrats he and all the other right wing fairy tale spinners cosset are wrong. It's that they are ALWAYS wrong. They have gotten nothing right for many decades.
It's easily documented simply by reading older pieces, they get it wrong week after week, year after year, decade after decade. Do not check back more than a week on what conservative rhetoric is touted...it is forbidden. No one wants you to see just how absolutely wrong they are and have always been... about everything.





 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fascism and Nazism in the GOP Presidential Field

    In modern times in the U.S.A. the Republican Party is little more than an ongoing revolt against the United States itself.  This "revolution" could not continue without the billions of dollars pumped into the party by the Koch brothers and other GOP donor-class oppressors and exploiters of the American people.  The Republican Party could easily go the way of the Federalists, the Know-nothings, and the Whigs.  Sure, it has something of a mass base even today in the evangelical churches of the South and rural America, and in the country clubs. It has some Washington think tanks and lots of gerrymandered bogus powers. But the contradictions between the Republican warmongers, holy rollers, bigots, and legions of the greed worshipers, could easily be used to tear this party to pieces. And good riddance! The current presidential field has revealed the maleficent pernicious nature of the elemental intrinsic character of what this political party has become. While the fascist rhetoric of Trump and Cruz could not be more obvious, the history of union busting, oligarchy, and austerity is common cause to most all modern republican candidates.

     The Democratic Party could have, and chose not to really take the Koch party down simply by denouncing their policies and candidates for what they actually are instead of pretending they and their policies were actually some sort of reasonable discourse in polite debate... which is absolute rubbish.  This may be a moot point, because right now we seeing the GOP destroyed from the inside.   
     Donald Trump, who has been compared by conventional republican power brokers both to a wrecking ball, and to Samson bringing down the temple of the Philistines on the heads of the tenants has made it all too apparent what the Republican base is all about in reality. Out and out Fascism.

    By rights, the GOP ought to be a regional party in the deep South, rural America, and the sparsely populated intermountain West. They must never, ever, be allowed to elect another president again. As such an election would certainly lead to a packed Supreme Court, the busting all remaining unions, impose suicidal budget cuts, and set up a permanent austerity dictatorship in which the right to vote of any possible opponent constituencies would be severely limited.
      This is the golden ticket promised by Trump’s outrageous demagogy. The Republican Party today stands as a roadblock on every avenue of American national progress. The very existence of this party is frankly intolerable, and a threat to everyone’s lives, and those of their children and grandchildren.

   Frankly, if the Republican Party could undergo even a partial collapse, the political climate of the United States would revert to a more normal ideological pattern.
If the Republican Party were to dwindle into a gaggle of regional racists and bigots, the Wall Street faction of the Democratic Party would soon find itself in increasing conflict with the residual but still quite present New Deal or pro-labor Democrats. If the two factions which are latent but observable inside the Democratic Party today were to break apart, this would be the easiest and most elegant way to get the United States back on track to having a functional economy and a just social-political structure.

Most any observer can see that Trump's atrocious characterizations of Mexicans, saying that he wants to shut down mosques and other Muslim religious centers, that he would create a registry of all Muslims in the United States and would ban all Muslims from entry to the country can be easily compared to Hitler’s Krystalnacht of 1938 and the Nuremberg racist laws. (Regarding Trump’s absurd demand to bar entry to all Muslims. How could this ever be enforced? By a new Spanish Inquisition? Trump's program could only be enforced by a suffocating fascist police state that would oppress all Americans.)

     The understanding that most Americans have of Hitler and Nazism tends to be rather reductionist, in the sense that it focuses almost exclusively on Hitler’s genocidal policies against Jews. However there is no shortage of other victims (Russian prisoners of war, communists and social democrats, intellectuals, teachers, trade unionists, Gypsies, homosexuals, and all political opponents in general). In reality, Fascism and Nazism represent a total world outlook, with atrocious implications for virtually every sphere of human activity.  In any case, shortly after the middle of November, many Americans were beginning to understand that Trump actually was at least a fascist, and most probably a Nazi. It is important to stress that the American people, despite their many flaws, have one of the best anti-fascist records in the world. During the 1930s, most countries in Europe, from Portugal to Romania, fell under fascist governments. Historically it's a good record. Even the Russians, who did the lions share of fighting the Nazis, as well as England & France had appeasement policies regarding Hitler at first. Though our record of fighting fascism is a good one, I question if we can discern fascism when it's rhetoric & symbols are adapted to appeal to American sensibilities. Which is why I feel compelled to write this. I'd like to think most of us do recognize fascism when we see it. Yet hope as Mr. Trump has said is for losers...he may be right in a sense on that count. Hope, in itself is a fine thing but it may not be enough in itself to accomplish anything...it takes some sort of action as well.

     Other aspects of  Fascism and Nazism  that many people are not aware of include a terrorist dictatorship of banking concerns and financiers. In a representative democracy where there is a Congress or Parliament, the question of fascism has arisen when the demands by the bankers for genocidal austerity against working people have become unbearable and intolerable, leading to forms of political resistance like mass strikes. In Italy, the financiers of the bourgeoisie, were terrified that the Italian Army had gone on strike and refused to fight at Caporetto in 1917, and became even more frightened when Italian workers occupied most of the industrial factories in the country in 1920, leading to a two-year working-class upsurge. So in 1919, the bankers and factory owners recruited desperate and demoralized war veterans (the squadristi) to work as scabs and strikebreakers, and also to attack the party offices and the publications of political rivals. In Germany the Nazis recruited similar goons, calling them the brownshirts, storm troopers, or Sturmabteilungen. We needn't stretch our facilities very hard to see similarities in the Trump campaign,  with many documented instances of protesters at his rallies getting beaten up by Trump’s fanatical backers. It is undeniable that Trump explicitly endorsed the violence from his bombastic podium.  In the case of Ted Cruz, we have a candidate who eagerly accepts endorsements and support from anti-abortion groups with track records of violence and even murder against physicians working at women’s health clinics, in particular Planned Parenthood. The summer of 2016 is shaping up to become an unprecedented festival of political violence in the U.S.

     Nazis, and fascists are also aware of the advantages of pretending to act within the confines of laws. Mussolini became Prime Minister with a March on Rome in October 1922, which had undeniable terrorist potential. It took the Duce several years to consolidate his dictatorship, a time punctuated by numerous political murders like that of Giacomo Matteotti who openly spoke in the Italian Parliament alleging the Fascists committed fraud in the recently held elections, and denounced the violence they used to gain votes.  It is often said that Hitler became Chancellor and was given dictatorial power by legal means. This is not accurate, since the vote on setting up a dictatorship had been preceded by the expulsion of the communist (KPD) members of the parliament. In France, the fascist Marshal Petain was elected dictator and the French Republic abolished by the vote of a few hundred senators and deputies in a theater in the resort town of Vichy in the summer of 1941, but there was never the necessary quorum. Mainly, Petain could lean on the German Army which had conquered France in six weeks. The appearance of legitimacy...to a degree.

    Fascist Economics- Mussolini and Hitler both did everything possible to drive down the real wages of workers and of the middle class.  This corresponds to a policy of primitive accumulation among the wealthiest and extreme austerity which loots and asset strips living standards and the real economy in order to generate monetary profits to prop up masses of insolvent debt. (Not unlike the toxic derivatives and junk bonds of modern Wall Street Investment Banks). For more information about Fascist economics, read about Hitler's economic adviser; Hjalmar Schacht.  Along with the reduction in real wages, fascism attempts to destroy labor unions, trade unions, craft unions, industrial unions, and any other organization attempting to protect working people. The early Italian fascists sought to wipe out every existing organization, including sports clubs, book clubs, ladies’ sewing circles, and all others, forcing their members into a gigantic fascist corporation. (Corporation in this sense does not mean the modern American concept of a joint stock company, but rather a medieval guild with master, journeyman, and apprentices all locked together in organic unity, denying any underlying class tensions.) We can say that just about all the Republican candidates are fascists in terms of their intention of driving down real wages and destroying the labor movement. The most aggressive in this regard are the fanatics of the Libertarian Austrian school.

    Fascism promotes xenophobia, the hatred of foreigners, and real or imagined territorial claims against other countries.  When Fascist promises of economic success don't pan out,  they generate enthusiasm through war hysteria. In today’s world, fascism anywhere risks becoming a path to a 3rd World War. Irrationality and the rejection of reason  is another tell tale trait of  fascism. Hitler relied on the myth that the Germans were  a race of supermen and  needed to exterminate competing races of subhuman individuals bent on the destruction of the superior species. Hitler told Germans to turn away from reason and think with their blood. Demagogy and hysteria based on these themes are found everywhere in fascism. Closely related to this, is the scapegoating ethnic groups in the wake of national disasters. Hitler’s original agitation at the beginning of his political career was focused on the myth of "the stab in the back",  which was a claim that the German army had never been militarily defeated on the field of battle, but rather only betrayed by cliques of liberals, communists, Jews, socialists, and defeatists in Berlin. This was called the Dolchsto├člegende, and it was the staple Nazi argument of the 1920s. Of course the German army had indeed been defeated in the field, specifically by the American Expeditionary Force in the battles of St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne.  Trump’s stab in the back story is based on his invented account of Muslims in Jersey City cheering when the twin towers came down. This pseudo-incident allows Trump to argue that Muslims have received American hospitality and responded with treachery. This thought process is identical to that of Hitler.

    Fascists tend to be superstitious and invoke mythological ideas, ghosts, and spirits, they are inclined towards mysticism. (These aspects of fascist irrationality unfortunately find receptive ears among many Americans who are fooled by waving flags and the mention of popular deities.)  Fascism overall has an anti-intellectual tendency. Mussolini once told a journalist that he held educational programs in contempt, and did not want to have one, since the only guarantee of effective government was the power and determination of the individuals involved. Hitler made sure that the Nazi party program remained a neglected relic, and always tried to prevent it from being updated. For the Nazis, there was no difference between propaganda and university teaching.
You can see modern versions of this when Texas removes Thomas Jefferson from it's history text books, demands for creation myths to be taught in the science classroom are made, or the Koch brothers are allowed to choose political science professors at Florida Universities in return for making donations.

 
     Misogyny – fascists of all kinds hate and fear women.  Psychologists can spend entire careers on Fascist Dictators and their innumerable "issues". Trump may be the obvious misogynist, with unfiltered insults flowing daily about females in all walks of life, but most all republican rhetors promote the same inequality, maybe not quite as blatantly.

    Fascism also appears as the negation of parliaments and legislative processes. Mussolini called the Italian Parliament a cattle pen and pigsty. This is once again like Hitler, who never accepted the Constitution of the Weimar Republic, and got himself appointed dictator as soon as he seized power in January 1933. The way the US legislators have ignored the presidential authority of Barack Obama, pretending it is somehow illegitimate (despite being elected twice by significant margins in uncontested elections...I mean it's not like he lost the popular vote and was appointed by the Supreme Court!  :P ) smacks of fascism. Many of the promises of Trump and other Republican presidential candidates are outside constitutional authority. They either are willing to spit on the constitution...or at least the parts they don't like, or have no knowledge of it.


Libertarians-Fascists? A Strange Alliance.


First off we have to understand that Libertarianism was invented by the decadent Viennese Frederich von Hayek and von Mises in the service of greedy landlords and other bloodsucking exploiters.
(Neither of them ever seem to have held a single academic appointment that didn't involve a corporate sponsor). .Libertarianism was further developed at the London School of Economics by Sir Lionel Robinson. This toxic doctrine was brought to the United States under the auspices of David Rockefeller, who was so stupid that he needed to hire Von Hayek to pass at the London School of Economics. Von Mises was brought over later.
The peculiarity of libertarianism is that, while it is formally distinct from fascism and Nazism, libertarianism, practiced on a sufficient scale eventually destroys a society to such a point that the door opens wide for Fascism and Nazism...they become much easier to impose. The classic example is the German Chancellor Heinrich Bruening, whose austerity policies destroyed the German economic and political system between 1930 and 1932, leaving the country just a few months away from Hitler’s seizure of power when Bruening left office. There is unquestionably an affinity between fascism and libertarianism as seen in this example. Libertarians create the vacuum that sucks in fascism. We are seeing an appalling capitulation to Trump by leading members of the so-called libertarian movement. Republican operatives like Matt Drudge and Roger Stone are evidently attempting to incorporate large parts of the libertarian/conspiracy/fear porn/paranoia alternative media community into a kind of a cheering section for the fascist Trump. But many of that audience have been duped a number of times already, and might now decide to assert a different perspective. Let's hope so.
Is Trump a statesman? Is he the George Washington of our time? Certainly not. Is Ronald Reagan our greatest president? In no way. One would have thought that a libertarian might have come up with something a little more believable than "the Gipper" to usher in Trickle Down & Free Market Trojan Horses, but alas people fell for it . The political landscape is now filled with libertarian orphans who don’t want to go down with Rand Paul, and who may be eyeing the fascism of demagogue Trump.

After all this negativity about Trump, I must confess that I don't think he is any more dangerous than a Ted Cruz. Maybe less. However he is more obvious. He makes no effort to disguise it.



Sources-
The Nazi Hydra in America ... political science text by Glen Yeadon

how-the-money-power-created-libertarianism-and-austrian-economics/
  The Rise Of Fascism And Nazism
-http://www.academia.edu/11022950/The_Rise_of_Fascism_and_Nazism
Venice’s War Against Western Civilization
Appeared in Fidelio, Summer 1995









Saturday, March 12, 2016

Verity, Verity, I say unto you...(Or Maloderous Maxims of Mystery)

Demographics would suggest that most non-voters would likely not support GOP candidates if they did vote. Reality may be altogether different though.
We all have truths, or beliefs at least that we adhere to.
I'd like to think that personally, when presented with new information; I would be inclined to adjust my beliefs to take this new information into account.  It would seem that I've had an epiphany of late regarding a long held belief that does not seem to stand in light of observable reality. This belief is a common one, especially among folks with liberal political sensibilities. It has a reasonable theory behind it...it is the postulation that most non-voters would benefit from Democratic policies, so if turnout were increased it would help get more Democrats in office. It's a common belief among conservatives too, as great effort has been put into suppressing the vote by the right. But let's have a closer look at what we know about these "non voters".  Empirical reality may be very different than the way we perceive it.

     As we can ascertain from the Pew Research Center data in the chart above, demographically speaking we might say that these were likely Democratic voters. However there are basically 2 kinds of non-voter. There are those who are the "meh" type, who don't care or know much about policies or how it effects them. And there are those who feel disengaged from the process for various reasons.
These reasons range from historical oppression, to viewing refraining from voting is a protest of some sort.  As we look a little closer at non-voters, this belief I (and many others ) hold about getting them to vote making a big difference in the outcome of elections may be entirely erroneous.

Eligible non voters numbered 80,632,506 in the 2008 election, a larger number than people who voted for either party. (59,934,814 voted for the Republican candidate, 69,456,897 voted for the Democratic candidate).


     Before digging deeper I apologize for focusing on American politics here, but the data I'm talking about is gathered about the U.S.  We can't assume it applies internationally, but it may or at least some of it may. You'll have to form your own view on that. 
     In 2014, research was conducted on political beliefs of non voters by PEW and they found that despite big differences in demographics, (most non voters are under 30, have incomes below 31K annually, and are  non-Caucasian), there wasn't a significant difference in the makeup of their political views from the actual voters. 



As you can see, the non voter's views on the president, and on both political parties seem to be divided about the same as the views of voters.





On most matters, the opinions are divided similarly among non voters compared to voters, or the general population. Except it seems we make assumptions that may not be so. We assume that these people would vote based on their stated positions. In truth one area they do tend to show a divert from the voting public on is actually knowing what is going on. (68% of likely voters have given some thought to the election, while only 13% of non voters have given any thought to it. 77% of likely voters follow public affairs while only 13% of non-voters do).
 

     Yes, I know that is rather disillusioning, and contrary to intuition.  I think we can all agree that many voters don’t fully understand the effects of the policies proposed  by various candidates or political parties. For instance in conversations I have had with the public at large, Bernie Sanders is often perceived as an extravagant spender while the republican candidates are considered fiscal conservatives, even though the republican tax plans expand revenue shortfalls, create deficits, and widen the income gap. (Historical fact)
     While Sanders’ proposed spending programs are demonstrably affordable and can mostly be covered by simply eliminating ludicrous wasteful tax loopholes

    Yet generally the  voter who primarily is concerned with balancing budgets is far more likely to support republicans than they are Bernie Sanders. They’re making this judgement on "folklore"   instead of doing the research necessary for a well-informed opinion. There are many issues similar to this where people’s stated policy preferences are not actually reflected in their votes.
Among women and black voters for instance, Hillary Clinton is leading Sanders although Sanders has a more vigorous concrete record of supporting policies that aid these groups, especially on the economic front.   If "voters" can be profoundly uninformed about which candidates and policies will actually accomplish their objectives, non-voters are absolutely less informed by their own descriptions of themselves in this research. This is reflected currently in the reality that non-voters are far more likely to support Donald Trump.



    So what does all this mean? Simply that it may be a complete canard that getting more people to vote would be helpful. because the assumption that non-voters would vote rationally does not seem to be true.
So what would be helpful? Better information, or better informed voters.
How is that accomplished?
Well, I think an independent press would be a good start.
It does not bode well for the "4th Estate" when it is primarily in the hands of only 4 or 5 corporate owners, all with socioeconomic and political agendas contrary to public interest.

It may be that the downfall of democracy and the advent of corporate oligarchy is not the fault of the non voter, but rather the fault of uninformed, misinformed, or under-informed voters.


All charts and figures are from the Pew Research site.
For further reading...
http://www.people-press.org/2006/10/18/who-votes-who-doesnt-and-why/

http://www.people-press.org/2014/10/31/the-party-of-nonvoters-2/
 











Friday, October 9, 2015

75 Years Ago John Lennon Was Born - Long Live John Lennon's Legacy

   75 years ago on October 9, 1940, John Lennon - musical genius and iconic spokesperson for a generation was born.  His musical legacy speaks for itself. But John understood the power of music to bring about positive change, perhaps more than anyone before him. More importantly,
John understood that his music could mobilize people to activism on behalf of positive causes.
John Lennon truly believed in the power of the people.

John earned the love and admiration of his generation. He did so by creating a huge body of work that inspired and enlightened. John did not use his celebrity for his own enrichment or self aggrandizement though. He used it to promote the concept of peace. He used it to promote social justice. He used it to expose "the establishment"...in his words "just a name for evil"...a monster.
In 1969 John said the monster was out of control.  I would say John using his position of fame as sort of a bully pulpit to promote causes greater than himself endeared him ever more to those of us who lived through these times.

John became a vocal proponent of peace and anti-war activist...alas also a high-profile example of the lengths to which the "monster", the establishment, those in power would go to persecute those who dare to challenge their right to control society.

For those who were not born until after this era; long before today's whistleblowers were being castigated for exposing war crimes or the NSA's abuse of it's surveillance powers.
Before Snowden, Manning, or Julian Assange were born,  President Richard Nixon & FBI director J. Edgar Hoover demonstrated the lengths people in power would go to in order to keep that power.
Long after John's assassination, it was discovered that the FBI had collected 281 pages of files on him, including song lyrics, a letter from J. Edgar Hoover directing the agency to spy on the musician, and orders calling on various government agents to stage a phony drug bust on Lennon.

We rightfully criticize domestic surveillance today as an invasion of privacy.
However, the US government's actions regarding John Lennon demonstrate just how easily  surveillance becomes an instrument for the people in power to try to hold on to power.
The 2006 documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon"  is the story of a man being harassed by government but even more so the story of a democracy undermined.
The grievances we have about government today:
  undue surveillance, militarism, corruption, harassment, SWAT team raids, political persecution, racism, brutality, spying, political crimes, graft and coercion of policy by the corporate and the extremely wealthy., etc. were present as well in Lennon’s day.
They framed a basis for John championing social justice, peace and a populist revolution.
"POWER TO THE PEOPLE."  "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE".

I should mention that I am staunchly not against government, I believe democracy is good.
However as John once said “The trouble with government as it is, is that it doesn’t represent the people. It controls them.”

In December of 1971 at a concert in Ann Arbor, Mich., John took to the stage and sang“John Sinclair,” a song he had written about a man sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing two marijuana cigarettes. Within days of Lennon’s call for action, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Sinclair released. What John did not likely know was that that crowd in Michigan included many FBI agents assigned to "neutralize" him. They took notes on who attended the show and oddly their opinions on the artistic merits of his songs. The US government was spying on John Lennon.

 Lennon released the song 'Power to the People" and the album "Sometime In New York City" later that year which contained overtly political ideas in every track and depicted Richard Nixon and Mao Tse-tung dancing nude on the cover, it fanned the flames of paranoia in the powers in charge.

In 1972 Lennon planned to embark on a U.S. concert tour that would combine rock music with antiwar organizing and voter registration. Nixon, fearing Lennon’s influence on about 11 million new voters (1972 was the first year that 18-year-olds could vote), had the ex-Beatle served with deportation orders “in an effort to silence him as a voice of the peace movement.”

John of course was not the only one persecuted or harassed for his beliefs by those entrusted with government powers.  Pete Seeger, Pablo Picasso, Charlie Chaplin, Lenny Bruce, and Allen Ginsberg all experienced the wrath of the established hierarchy.  Among those most closely watched by the FBI was Martin Luther King Jr. who had wiretaps and electronic bugs planted in his home and office.

King was kept under constant surveillance by the FBI with the aim of “neutralizing” him. He even received letters written by FBI agents suggesting that he either commit suicide or the details of his private life would be revealed to the public. The FBI kept up its pursuit of King until he was felled by a hollow-point bullet to the head in 1968.
Though there's no evidence John was blackmailed like King, he was the subject of a four-year campaign of surveillance and harassment The FBI file on John shows that memos and reports about the FBI’s surveillance had been flying back and forth between Hoover, the Nixon White House, various senators, the FBI and the U.S. Immigration Office. Nixon wanted him "neutralized". He wanted him deported.

Nixon’s pursuit of Lennon was relentless and based on the misguided belief that Lennon and his comrades were planning to disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention. This paranoia was misplaced. While John indeed met with left wing activists who were on Nixon's "enemies" list, he said when they spoke of  riots he'd have nothing to do with such a thing.  He said in a 1980 interview in Rolling Stone, “We said, We ain’t buying this. We’re not going to draw children into a situation to create violence so you can overthrow what? And replace it with what? . . . It was all based on this illusion, that you can create violence and overthrow what is, and get communism or get some right-wing lunatic or a left-wing lunatic. They’re all lunatics.”

"WHILE THERE'S LIFE THERE'S HOPE"
As you probably know the government persisted in its efforts to have him deported. But John was equally determined to resist, he fought back. Every time he was ordered out of the country, his lawyers delayed the process by filing an appeal. Finally, in 1976, Lennon won the battle.
He said afterwards, “I have a love for this country.... This is where the action is. I think we’ll just go home, open a tea bag, and look at each other.”
Lennon’s repose didn’t last long, however. By 1980, he had a new album and plans to become politically active again. He was ready to cause trouble for the empire and the pharaohs once again.
 His final interview was on Dec. 8, 1980 and John said "The whole map’s changed and we’re going into an unknown future, but we’re still all here, and while there’s life there’s hope.”

That very evening, when John returned to his apartment building, Mark David Chapman was waiting for him.
John was neutralized.

You may kill a messenger, but not the message.

In his words, and his music he lives on
John spoke truth to power.

Yoko Ono said of John -
“A man of humble origin, John brought light and hope to the whole world with his words and music. He tried to be a good power for the world, and he was. He gave encouragement, inspiration and dreams to people regardless of their race, creed and gender.”

In conclusion, peace remains out of reach.
Activists continue to be neutralized.
Whistleblowers continue to be prosecuted.
Militarism is on the rise.
The rich have become unfathomably richer at the expense of everyone else.
Children still go to bed hungry.
Not much has changed since we lost John's voice.
I and I'm sure many of you joined with John in imagining.
Imagining peace. Fairness.
Of course it's getting more and more difficult to reconcile that imaging with the reality we experience. With the news of a Doctors Without Borders Hospital being bombed.

John's not here to comment. But I imagine he might say something similar to this.

“Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make,
Something you do, Something you are,
And something you give away.”

“If you want peace, you won’t get it with violence.”
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Happy Birthday John Lennon.
Glad to have traveled with you!
You are missed.
Sincerely,
Your pals


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Labor Day's Long Journey Into Night



H
appy Labor Day!
Yes today in the US, we honor labor, and all the accomplishments and improvements to the standard of living organized labor wrought.
Oh...wait a minute. As I ponder what THIS labor day means, this year,
in this Orwellian Black Mirrored construction of a society,
in this monetized scalable time space continuum...
I see Labor Day online specials at Walmart “celebrate hard work with big savings!”
For the old fashioned brick-and-mortar shoppers several Walmart stores are open all 24 hours of Labor Day with low low prices. (You may recall this company is so famously anti-union that it shut down Canadian stores rather than allow the Canadian workers to have their union.)
The fact that Walmart “celebrates” Labor Day should elicit guffaws, belly laughs, derision, nausea, or at bare minimum an overt eye-roll. Yet somehow this does not happen, at least not among many.          Somewhere along the line, the meaning of Labor Day has been assimilated.

   Today the holiday stands for little more than the end of summer, the start of school, weekend-long sales on useless crap you don't need - ironically built in slave labor Meccas...
maybe a barbecue or parade.

The meaning of labor day was once of course conspicuously political. Yet today the politicians and commentators avoid any mention of organized labor when observing the holiday. Instead they may be compelled to give some obligatory abstract nod to that now defunct mythical cartoon entity, “the American Worker.” On Labor day you see, Labor isn't exactly celebrated...though a single day's break from labor is.  Now, that may seem to be a bit odd of a distinction to point out, or expect you to be concerned about. I mean Labor Day is really just about getting drunk in your yard, again. But that's precisely evidence of a very successful snowjob pulled on you, the American worker (or unemployed person, or underemployed worker, discouraged worker, or "grad student").
You probably don't even believe in a Labor Day any more than a Santa Claus.

The United States, as you've undoubtedly been told by sycophants and agents of our dark corporate overlords; is a very "special" country. Yes..."American Exceptionalism"...right.  Wasn't that a catch phrase a few years ago?  (A buzz-phrase of the now forgotten disgraced "neocons" who claimed that The U.S. was the only superpower left and should use that superpower to get rid of the world's opponents of American style vulture capitalism.)
Some allusion to a bizarre notion of our DNA somehow becoming divine and different from the rest of humanity? While I would not contest that societies do in fact all have some unique character culled from it's history or experiences; I don't think this is to be construed as having divine rights to dominate, manipulate, or dictate - which is generally what that phrase was designed to infer.

SO IS THE USA SPECIAL?
A
ll nations are special in some way.
Actually as I recall the word "special" was used to politely describe the learning disabled back when I was in school. One example of this alleged " exceptionalism", or public relations designed superiority, is that we managed to actually deport the global workers holiday called May Day. 

Now this my friends... this was especially skillful,
because you see May Day began not in Russia, France, or Finland or Middle Earth, but in Chicago, ironically a major American city that was built specifically to exploit the labor of poor immigrants.
Yes, it was on May 4 of 1886, police opened fire on laborers who were demanding an eight-hour workday. They had been sent by their bosses at the slaughterhouses and City Hall to break up the rally and smash skulls of the workers. The chance to open fire on the workers conveniently arrived when a crude bomb was tossed in the direction of the police by persons unknown; eight of the usual local suspects were rounded up and convicted—four of them were made examples of,  slowly strangled in an intentionally botched public hanging, while a fifth condemned man blew off a significant portion of his own head by chewing on a blasting cap he'd smuggled into prison.
The phony trial had provided high octane fuel to the new global labor movement, and it inspired the creation of International Workers' Day on May Day of 1889.  Oh don't get me wrong, the leaders of other nations would've  killed off May Day as well if they could, but because it quickly had become entwined in the old pagan spring celebrations they just couldn't do it. Traditional pagan celebrations now included cheery mobs of laborers singing the ancient songs about smashing the systems created by oppressors and sawing off the head of some screaming king. It was far too appreciated by the celebrants who after dancing around the maypole and drinking everything in reach, tore off their folk costumes and paired off for the rites of spring like wood sprites in the forest.
Though it seems every now and then, these revelers would actually launch a real revolution, which is how we got the Soviet Union and leftists and all that sort of thing. 
Anyway, back in the U.S. shrewd U.S. holiday planners within the federal government were told by the  bankers and industrialists to find a way to get rid of this phenomenon.
They had watched with great interest as the Catholic Church tried (but failed) to steal May Day from workers by renaming it Saint Joseph's Day— ah yes...the mythological Joseph, the cuckold in the tale of Mary's supernatural pregnancy,  the patron saint of going along with the system that destroyed you and made you utterly dead inside. No small coincidence!
This sort of thing had worked well with other pagan holidays...after being unsuccessful with banning them, they learned to simply assimilate them and attempt to make them about something else.
  But for schemers back in Washington, the answer was to have a different kind of May Day—one that was more about sitting in the yard getting drunk, rather than storming the Bastille or seizing the means of production.




After U.S. marshals and soldiers slaughtered the railroad workers during the 1894 Pullman Strike, the federal government quickly whipped up a national workers' holiday. This "Labor Day," the first Monday in September, was preferable to the May Day agitations that called for worldwide revolt. The American authorities furthermore re-named May Day as "Law and Order Day," a daft but effective bit of Orwellian type propaganda that sucked the breath of life out of the stateside celebrations of May 1.
Consider that the commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre, on May 4, is now a fake Disneyesque holiday—May the Fourth Be With You  which celebrates the immense financial success of Star Wars products. Bah.



Labor Day worked out during the mid-20th century era of a prosperous middle class, a less desperate working class, and a fully marginalized poor.
But as a job that paid fair wages or included decent benefits went from normality to a rare prize won in a droll lottery by the fortunate, the hard-won eight-hour workday has become a morose sort of abstract mockery.
Now you see, at minimum, one of every three workers is in a "contingent workforce"—the exact number is hidden, because "the Labor Department does not regularly collect data about this group."(the last figures are from 2006)  It has surely grown exponentially since then.
Who are these folks?  Who are these "contingent workers"?
They're " temps", "contract workers", "seasonal workers", and warehouse laborers filling boxes for Amazon.
They're workers in service, retail, food production and dead-end office jobs.
They are stocking shelves, killing meat animals in a factory,  telemarketing, entering data, cleaning bathrooms, working security, etc. and they're  intentionally kept from working full work weeks, because only then would they be entitled to the benefits and legal protections reluctantly granted to full-time employees that organized labor had fought so hard for.

So ironically this year since Labor Day is one of the major retail sales weekends,
(along with the ominous Black Friday of the Walmart riots) with low-end retail being a round-the-clock operation,  the holiday will be celebrated by the 70 percent of retail workers kept as part-timers laboring away for oppressors as just another day of labor.
For the nation's worst-paid not-quite-employees, there is no holiday.

Retail, along with "customer service representatives" and "fast food preparation," is one of the top five "largest job growth" occupations, according to the Labor Department.
But don't even count on being able to have even one of these horrible jobs,
because even these are going away.
The burger-flipping robot and the self-service checkout computer are designed to kill off even the crappy jobs.

Perhaps the worst part of Labor Day, if you dare to think about it is that on the path we are on, essentially all jobs will be eliminated and probably in your lifetime.

The destruction of the labor movement has been remarkably successful, and three decades of aggressive anti-union propaganda has made the few remaining trade unions with their pensions and vacations seem decadent and greedy to people struggling with a shift at Booger King followed by a shift at the Malwart, forced to abandon children and/or elderly parents to be raised or cared for with whatever member of their casual family is without paid work of any kind.

Do you think you are safe because you've got a law degree?
Or work for an accounting firm?  Or manage some department?
You are not. 
There will be a management massacre to get rid of deadbeat white-collar workers just as there was a massacre of the blue collar workers.
You'll be told "those jobs will never return" as if labor policy were a force of nature like the tides rather than a man made construction.
Everything that anyone does can be done more cheaply by someone else somewhere.
No one is "safe".
When the bottom is finally found, when all production and services cost nearly zilch,
the next step will be to replace human slaves with machine slaves.
No it's not fantasy at all, the price of robots is dropping just as the price of mainframes plummeted 20 years ago with the introduction of cheap PCs.
The fast food industry alone plans to replace more than half it's human 'not quite employees' with automation in the very near future.

T
he next mass movement, if it ever happens, will not be about increasingly scarce laborers, but about the human race in general. Appeals to nationalism, oxycontin, despair, IQ lowering television programming, alcohol and slob propaganda have all done superb work in keeping the 80 percent of Americans who are financially insecure far too worn down and miserable to realize they've got a common enemy. If they ever should figure this out, there will either be the "class war" that worries rich liberals and rich conservatives alike—or the Pentagon (once charged with defending the citizens,  but now subservient to the dark corporate overlords who have used their wealth to purchase all policy making) will just have to poison the whole country except for Silicon Valley and Manhattan.
Enjoy your barbecue!

Postlude -
Is this the world that must be?
No, it is not.
But it is certainly the world that WILL be if we don't stand together and demand drastic change.
No dystopian vision of the future has come close to miserable truth of this self defeating reality. Greed, absolute, and unmitigated by any sense of ethical behavior, is not an inevitable master of mankind.
The interests of less than 100 individuals who already own most everything ownable in this world have no divine right to also own what little is left, what little is yours.
Politically speaking the ghost of Theodore Roosevelt must be resurrected.
Trust bustin' Teddy must be called upon once again...at least in spirit.
Monopolies are NOT in the public interest.
The idea that Global trade is merely about finding new forms of slavery is not legitimate nor is it inevitable.
A few pen strokes and the jobs that "are never coming back" magically do come back.
We used to protect domestic jobs simply by taxing imports that came from cheap labor countries.
Not only did the corporate overlords tell their servants in government to change that law, but they also told them to give tax breaks to companies who moved their production to China or other slave wage countries. That's right. You have actually picked up the tab for moving your job to China.
Suckers! Chumps! Unbelievable.
This idea that protecting the interests of citizens (protectionism) is somehow bad or impossible is an outright lie.
Global trade is nothing new, it's been going on for many centuries. But it was a matter of common sense that this trade was mutually beneficial. Trade is NOT beneficial (except to a very few) if the people in one nation  lose their jobs simply for very short term profits for a few.
It is not beneficial for the environment in a nation to be raped simply because they naively didn't have laws to protect it. This is not "free trade" and there really is no such beast.  What is needed is FAIR trade. Trade that benefits both nations in the transaction.

There is no inherent need to dismantle the middle class and toss the working people under the nearest bus. It's a desire of the few, who want what little that middle class has.
Unless we demand laws to stop the wholesale purchase of public policy making;
the few, the sociopaths, the insanely and cluelessly greedy will get their way.

 We can, and we must reconstruct ourselves.
We must do so or we will disappear without so much as a whimper.
The long term goal can and must be about human potential, not how much we can get for the chemicals left when we reduce the remains of human beings.
Labor Day began not as a national holiday but in the streets on September 5, 1882.
Thousands of bricklayers, printers, blacksmiths, railroad men, cigar makers, and others took a day off and marched in New York City. They carried signs that read “Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for What We Will”,  “Labor creates all wealth,” & “We Must Crush the Monopolies Lest They Crush Us.” 
The underlying dynamics have not changed much. 

As for this year's labor day...
This weekend you could hardly be blamed for going to Walmart for the latest feather-light flatscreen television from China or Mexico. You may legitimately be dazzled by the low prices and pixel counts. But far better, go to a Costco, where workers make about twice the Walmart wage, and don’t have to rely on federal benefits like food stamps and Medicaid (which, according to Americans for Tax Fairness, cost taxpayers $6.2 billion a year...a corporate subsidy for Walmart).
In addition, Costco lets its workers unionize while Walmart instructs managers to report any union activity or grumblings about wages to the company’s “Labor Relations Hotline.”
But all of you Holiday shoppers will have to wait until Tuesday, though... because Costco is closed on Labor Day. Its workers will be at the family barbecue or the parade, celebrating a national holiday...where they should be!

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