Monday, February 22, 2010

John Maynard Keynes - In his own words.

Bertrand Russel said "There are still many people in America who regard depressions as acts of God. I think Keynes proved that the responsibility for these occurrences does not rest with Providence.... Keynes's intellect was the sharpest and clearest that I have ever known. When I argued with him, I felt that I took my life in my hands, and I seldom emerged without feeling something of a fool. I was sometimes inclined to feel that so much cleverness must be incompatible with depth, but I do not think that this feeling was justified."

Mention the name of John Maynard Keynes to a conservative, and something close to an epileptic fit will ensue. Yet in reality, I suggest it was Keynes and his out of the box thinking, along with that other fellow whose name elicits rabid foam from the mouths of conservatives; Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who implemented many of Keynes economic ideas), that saved capitalism by taming it, regulating it, and molding it. (Had they not done this, communism or fascism would have likely been implemented to escape the Great Depression. Many of America's wealthy believed in Fascism and supported Hitler both in ideology and in financial arrangements). And frankly, if Keynesian economics and the Roosevelt controls on capitalism hadn't been overthrown in favor of a return to deregulated "Lazy Fairy" markets, (which caused the great depression), today's economic collapse could not have occurred. Keynes was essentially about full employment and the belief that capital was a means to an end...not and end in itself.
Deficit spending as investment in the future. Not to give wealthy tax cuts. Not to wage wars of choice for corporate imperialism. We can rest assured that his view of deficit spending for these purposes during times of relative prosperity would be a dim one. I for one, raise a glass in honor of his wisdom, courage, and indeed his wit which is in evidence in this small collection of my favorite quotes of his. Speaking of which, here they are!

One reason FDR was able to pass his ambitious agenda was he had massive support in the Legislature.

“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

“It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong”

"The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy."

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”

"Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind that looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10 000 years ago. "

"They offer me neither food nor drink — intellectual nor spiritual consolation... Conservatism leads nowhere; it satisfies no ideal; it conforms to no intellectual standard, it is not safe, or calculated to preserve from the spoilers that degree of civilisation which we have already attained. "

“The love of money as a possession - as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life - will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propens”

"Perhaps a day might come when there would be at last be enough to go round, and when posterity could enter into the enjoyment of our labors."

FDR Fireside Chats

"This is a nightmare, which will pass away with the morning. For the resources of nature and men's devices are just as fertile and productive as they were. The rate of our progress towards solving the material problems of life is not less rapid. We are as capable as before of affording for everyone a high standard of life...and will soon learn to afford a standard higher still. We were not previously deceived. But to-day we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand. The result is that our possibilities of wealth may run to waste for a time—perhaps for a long time." -(1930), Essays in Persuasion

"The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful. It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn't deliver the goods. "

The Keynesian Cross

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become 'profiteers,' who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.
Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose..” - The Economic Consequences of Peace

“The power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas”

"The classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non-Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight—as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions which are occurring. Yet, in truth, there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels and to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. "

"The day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems - the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behavior and religion."

“The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future.”

“Regarded as a means, (the businessman) is tolerable; as an end, he is not so satisfactory”

“Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older”

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" -Reply to a criticism during the Great Depression of having changed his position on monetary policy

“For at least another hundred years we must pre­tend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.”

“The engine which drives enterprise is not thrift, but profit”

"We reach a condition where there is a shortage of houses, but where nevertheless no one can afford to live in the houses that there are."

"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues".

“The importance of money flows from it being a link between the present and the future.”

“It would not be foolish to contemplate the possibility of a far greater progress still.”

“Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.”

“Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering what average opinion believes average opinion to be...”

"For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable."

"If I am right in supposing it to be comparatively easy to make capital-goods so abundant that the marginal efficiency of capital is zero, this may be the most sensible way of gradually getting rid of many of the objectionable features of capitalism."

"The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes."

"In the long run, we're all dead."

John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946)

"I should have drunk more champagne." These were his last words. (according to Ben Trovato's Art of Survival (2007) by Ben Trovato, p. 196)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tied To The Mast, Sailing On A Ship Of Fools

Over the past fifty years the Republican Party, and some of their key supporters, have been waging a long-term "total assault" not just against the Democratic Party, but the Democrat's main financial backers, the American people, and the U.S. Constitution. The recent SCOTUS decision regarding the wholesale purchase of elections proves this beyond the shadow of a doubt. Sadly most of the American people are unaware of the nature and goals of this war and, as a result, the GOP has been winning. During these past fifty years the Republican's main supporters (giant corporations and a handful of mega wealthy individuals) have gotten much richer and the Democrat's main supporters (labor unions, trial lawyers, and middle class workers) have gotten poorer. This fact is reflected in each party's fundraising totals and in who is giving them money.

Fundraising 1977 -2000

This situation has forced the Democrats to seek funds from many of the same people who support the GOP, and as a result the Democrat's ideology has shifted to the right and has become much more conservative. The Republican Party's ideology has also shifted more to the right and has become so extremely conservative that it can only be described as fascism.

The vast majority of the American people (99%) now have no representation whatsoever, the two political parties are no longer responsive in any sense to the people who live here. The modern sad reality is that the Democrats represent the very rich and now pursues a conservative ideology, and the Republicans represent a few obscenely rich families and they support these family's fascist ideology. As a result of both parties shifting to the ideological right their tax legislation has shifted the tax burden away from the rich and down to the middle class. The social programs and social legislation are being re-designed to benefit corporations more than the people they were intended to benefit, look at the corporate pork filled Medicare prescription drug benefit bill, look at who writes any bill these days...lobbyists. The legislators often don't even read them. They just pass them. The GOP has won their "total war" against the American people. They have forced the Democratic party to become irrelevant. With their victory in hand they wanted to lock-in their concentrations of wealth and they want to eliminate their competition, both in politics and in business. They also want to free themselves from any form of accountability or legal liability. These efforts are clearly visible in all the legislation the Republicans have passed. The legislation they want to pass, the judges they nominate, and the distractions and obstructionism they have been exercising. With the outright corporate purchase of BOTH parties, the sheering of the sheep has become institutional. As FDR said, nothing happens in politics that isn't planned. The financial meltdown was not an accident. And notice that those who caused it have benefited greatly from it. With 2 conservative parties in tow, we are well down the road to the complete fascist takeover of the U.S. Government. These teabag groups are merely a way for the fascists to keep a lid on dissent and control it until they can absorb it into their own fold.

It's beginning to look like we might be entering the final stage in the GOP's all out war strategy and it may be the last chance the American people have to save their government from these ruthless lying fascist criminals. It requires absolute and total removal of ALL corporate influence. (Originally a corporate charter was revoked if they interfered in an election). It requires that elections are publicly funded, eliminating the obvious graft. If we can do this, the march to fascism stops. If not,mass protests in public, and at the private homes of the politicians and the private homes of their key financial and media backers. If they leave follow them. If they run, run after them. And if they fight,then fight back even harder. The key is to make them extremely uncomfortable until they realize that their cause is no longer winnable because their risk/reward ratio sucks.
The corporatists have claimed our only choice is their way (fascism) or anarchy and chaos will prevail...only THEY can save us from this anarchy...I say CHOOSE THE ANARCHY.

Our government is not really broken, it's been purchased illicitly. Remove the ability to purchase it and it actually works pretty damned well.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gullibles Travels

How Gullible Are We?
Is "marketing" the most powerful force discovered since nuclear fission?
Or is idiocy? The bottom line folks is this.
Be skeptical. Be very skeptical. Do not believe anything unless you have looked into it yourself and have arrived at your own conclusion.

A student at Eagle Rock Junior High won the first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair, last year on April 26. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide."

Dihydrogen Monoxide Must Be Banned!

1. it can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
2. it is a major component in acid rain
3. it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
4. accidental inhalation can kill you
5. it contributes to erosion
6. it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
7. it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

He had asked 50 random people if they supported a ban of the chemical.

* Forty-three (43) said yes,
* six (6) were undecided,
* and only one (1) knew that the chemical was water.

The title of his prize winning project was, "How Gullible Are We?"

The conclusion is obvious.

Monday, February 1, 2010

FDR - Those Who Are Ignorant Of History Repeat It

"We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -FDR

The corruption of justice perpetrated by the Supreme Court, the very people sworn to protect the constitution of the U.S.; ushers in a new era of absolute corporate totalitarianism. Untethered and unrestrained from any reasonable safety constraints, free speech is drowned out by money.
Those who spend the most will be amplified. Those, regardless of their numbers, who can not drop millions on campaigns will be silenced. The intent of the constitution, obvious even to an 11 year old, was not to give "monied corporations and banking institutions" (as Jefferson referred to them...saying they were more dangerous than standing armies to democracy) the ability to freely purchase government itself. "Sure, Mr. Jones, Exxon would like to help you become a Senator, but we need those restrictions about drilling under the Washington Monument lifted, and we sure would like a crack at those Iranian oil reserves..."

History Repeats Itself

Like Bill Murray in the movie "Groundhog Day", time and time again the same loop is run again and again. The forces of sociopathic greed convince leaders greed is good; that restraining it in any way is harmful. Because history dims, or perhaps is simply ignored, anti-trust acts are repealed and monopolies flourish. Speculators inflate market prices until they burst. It's nothing new. The events leading to our current economic woes are identical to the events that lead to the great depression. The solution is remarkably simple in theory.
"People want peace that comes from security in their homes: safety for their savings, permanence in their jobs, a fair profit from their enterprise." -FDR

Any policy that encourages the realization of these desires is a good policy, any policy that erodes them is bad policy. Let's have a look at what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said about this in his speech at Madison Square Gardens on October 31, 1936-

Transcript -
Senator Wagner, Governor Lehman, ladies and gentlemen:
On the eve of a national election, it is well for us to stop for a moment and analyze calmly and without prejudice the effect on our Nation of a victory by either of the major political parties.

The problem of the electorate is far deeper, far more vital than the continuance in the Presidency of any individual. For the greater issue goes beyond units of humanity—it goes to humanity itself.

In 1932 the issue was the restoration of American democracy; and the American people were in a mood to win. They did win. In 1936 the issue is the preservation of their victory. Again they are in a mood to win. Again they will win.

More than four years ago in accepting the Democratic nomination in Chicago, I said: "Give me your help not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people."

The banners of that crusade still fly in the van of a Nation that is on the march.

It is needless to repeat the details of the program which this Administration has been hammering out on the anvils of experience. No amount of misrepresentation or statistical contortion can conceal or blur or smear that record. Neither the attacks of unscrupulous enemies nor the exaggerations of over-zealous friends will serve to mislead the American people.

What was our hope in 1932? Above all other things the American people wanted peace. They wanted peace of mind instead of gnawing fear.

First, they sought escape from the personal terror which had stalked them for three years. They wanted the peace that comes from security in their homes: safety for their savings, permanence in their jobs, a fair profit from their enterprise.

Next, they wanted peace in the community, the peace that springs from the ability to meet the needs of community life: schools, playgrounds, parks, sanitation, highways—those things which are expected of solvent local government. They sought escape from disintegration and bankruptcy in local and state affairs.

They also sought peace within the Nation: protection of their currency, fairer wages, the ending of long hours of toil, the abolition of child labor, the elimination of wild-cat speculation, the safety of their children from kidnappers.

And, finally, they sought peace with other Nations—peace in a world of unrest. The Nation knows that I hate war, and I know that the Nation hates war.

I submit to you a record of peace; and on that record a well-founded expectation for future peace—peace for the individual, peace for the community, peace for the Nation, and peace with the world.

Tonight I call the roll—the roll of honor of those who stood with us in 1932 and still stand with us today.

Written on it are the names of millions who never had a chance—men at starvation wages, women in sweatshops, children at looms.

Written on it are the names of those who despaired, young men and young women for whom opportunity had become a will-o'-the-wisp.

Written on it are the names of farmers whose acres yielded only bitterness, business men whose books were portents of disaster, home owners who were faced with eviction, frugal citizens whose savings were insecure.

Written there in large letters are the names of countless other Americans of all parties and all faiths, Americans who had eyes to see and hearts to understand, whose consciences were burdened because too many of their fellows were burdened, who looked on these things four years ago and said, "This can be changed. We will change it."

We still lead that army in 1936. They stood with us then because in 1932 they believed. They stand with us today because in 1936 they know. And with them stand millions of new recruits who have come to know.

Their hopes have become our record.

We have not come this far without a struggle and I assure you we cannot go further without a struggle.

For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

The American people know from a four-year record that today there is only one entrance to the White House—by the front door. Since March 4, 1933, there has been only one pass-key to the White House. I have carried that key in my pocket. It is there tonight. So long as I am President, it will remain in my pocket.

Those who used to have pass-keys are not happy. Some of them are desperate. Only desperate men with their backs to the wall would descend so far below the level of decent citizenship as to foster the current pay-envelope campaign against America's working people. Only reckless men, heedless of consequences, would risk the disruption of the hope for a new peace between worker and employer by returning to the tactics of the labor spy.

Here is an amazing paradox! The very employers and politicians and publishers who talk most loudly of class antagonism and the destruction of the American system now undermine that system by this attempt to coerce the votes of the wage earners of this country. It is the 1936 version of the old threat to close down the factory or the office if a particular candidate does not win. It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.

Every message in a pay envelope, even if it is the truth, is a command to vote according to the will of the employer. But this propaganda is worse—it is deceit.

They tell the worker his wage will be reduced by a contribution to some vague form of old-age insurance. They carefully conceal from him the fact that for every dollar of premium he pays for that insurance, the employer pays another dollar. That omission is deceit.

They carefully conceal from him the fact that under the federal law, he receives another insurance policy to help him if he loses his job, and that the premium of that policy is paid 100 percent by the employer and not one cent by the worker. They do not tell him that the insurance policy that is bought for him is far more favorable to him than any policy that any private insurance company could afford to issue. That omission is deceit.

They imply to him that he pays all the cost of both forms of insurance. They carefully conceal from him the fact that for every dollar put up by him his employer puts up three dollars three for one. And that omission is deceit.

But they are guilty of more than deceit. When they imply that the reserves thus created against both these policies will be stolen by some future Congress, diverted to some wholly foreign purpose, they attack the integrity and honor of American Government itself. Those who suggest that, are already aliens to the spirit of American democracy. Let them emigrate and try their lot under some foreign flag in which they have more confidence.

The fraudulent nature of this attempt is well shown by the record of votes on the passage of the Social Security Act. In addition to an overwhelming majority of Democrats in both Houses, seventy-seven Republican Representatives voted for it and only eighteen against it and fifteen Republican Senators voted for it and only five against it. Where does this last-minute drive of the Republican leadership leave these Republican Representatives and Senators who helped enact this law?

I am sure the vast majority of law-abiding businessmen who are not parties to this propaganda fully appreciate the extent of the threat to honest business contained in this coercion.

I have expressed indignation at this form of campaigning and I am confident that the overwhelming majority of employers, workers and the general public share that indignation and will show it at the polls on Tuesday next.

Aside from this phase of it, I prefer to remember this campaign not as bitter but only as hard-fought. There should be no bitterness or hate where the sole thought is the welfare of the United States of America. No man can occupy the office of President without realizing that he is President of all the people.

It is because I have sought to think in terms of the whole Nation that I am confident that today, just as four years ago, the people want more than promises.
Our vision for the future contains more than promises.

This is our answer to those who, silent about their own plans, ask us to state our objectives.

Of course we will continue to seek to improve working conditions for the workers of America—to reduce hours over-long, to increase wages that spell starvation, to end the labor of children, to wipe out sweatshops. Of course we will continue every effort to end monopoly in business, to support collective bargaining, to stop unfair competition, to abolish dishonorable trade practices. For all these we have only just begun to fight.

Of course we will continue to work for cheaper electricity in the homes and on the farms of America, for better and cheaper transportation, for low interest rates, for sounder home financing, for better banking, for the regulation of security issues, for reciprocal trade among nations, for the wiping out of slums. For all these we have only just begun to fight.

Of course we will continue our efforts in behalf of the farmers of America. With their continued cooperation we will do all in our power to end the piling up of huge surpluses which spelled ruinous prices for their crops. We will persist in successful action for better land use, for reforestation, for the conservation of water all the way from its source to the sea, for drought and flood control, for better marketing facilities for farm commodities, for a definite reduction of farm tenancy, for encouragement of farmer cooperatives, for crop insurance and a stable food supply. For all these we have only just begun to fight.

Of course we will provide useful work for the needy unemployed; we prefer useful work to the pauperism of a dole.

Here and now I want to make myself clear about those who disparage their fellow citizens on the relief rolls. They say that those on relief are not merely jobless—that they are worthless. Their solution for the relief problem is to end relief—to purge the rolls by starvation. To use the language of the stock broker, our needy unemployed would be cared for when, as, and if some fairy godmother should happen on the scene.

You and I will continue to refuse to accept that estimate of our unemployed fellow Americans. Your Government is still on the same side of the street with the Good Samaritan and not with those who pass by on the other side.

Again—what of our objectives?

Of course we will continue our efforts for young men and women so that they may obtain an education and an opportunity to put it to use. Of course we will continue our help for the crippled, for the blind, for the mothers, our insurance for the unemployed, our security for the aged. Of course we will continue to protect the consumer against unnecessary price spreads, against the costs that are added by monopoly and speculation. We will continue our successful efforts to increase his purchasing power and to keep it constant.

For these things, too, and for a multitude of others like them, we have only just begun to fight.

All this—all these objectives—spell peace at home. All our actions, all our ideals, spell also peace with other nations.

Today there is war and rumor of war. We want none of it. But while we guard our shores against threats of war, we will continue to remove the causes of unrest and antagonism at home which might make our people easier victims to those for whom foreign war is profitable. You know well that those who stand to profit by war are not on our side in this campaign.

"Peace on earth, good will toward men"—democracy must cling to that message. For it is my deep conviction that democracy cannot live without that true religion which gives a nation a sense of justice and of moral purpose. Above our political forums, above our market places stand the altars of our faith—altars on which burn the fires of devotion that maintain all that is best in us and all that is best in our Nation.

We have need of that devotion today. It is that which makes it possible for government to persuade those who are mentally prepared to fight each other to go on instead, to work for and to sacrifice for each other. That is why we need to say with the Prophet: "What doth the Lord require of thee—but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God." That is why the recovery we seek, the recovery we are winning, is more than economic. In it are included justice and love and humility, not for ourselves as individuals alone, but for our Nation.

That is the road to peace.

It should be noted that the man historians regard as the greatest modern president (he was elected 4 times as president, & I imagine had he not passed on in office, he would have been elected yet again and again) was certainly one of the strongest American presidencies, yet he personally suffered from debilitating polio. He attempted to downplay his handicap in public, keeping his agony private. He suffered not only immobility but searing pain from the affliction. For those who are interested in the Roosevelt presidency, the FDR monument in Washington D.C. is quite an experience. The monument is spread out, offering several statues, trees, waterfalls, and seclusion. This monument is one of the newest,it was built only in 1997.In the stone work are many quotes to ponder and the memorial offers four outdoor galleries. The first depicts FDR’s first term, when he launched the New Deal programs. The second and third rooms remember his term, which included WW II. The last room offers a reflection of the life of FDR. There is a huge statue of Roosevelt sitting with his dog.

I recommend seeing the monument lit up in the moonlight. The bronze statues greet you as you enter the outdoor monument. One depicts him in his wheelchair; another statue is him talking in a radio for his "fireside chats." Large, oversize building blocks and water with multicolor lights make this an enchanting spectacle. It includes a maze of fountains with stepping stones to stand on behind a waterfall. You can later walk to the Tidal Basin and see Jefferson's Monument at night and cherry blossoms (In Spring, just around the corner...) drenched in shadows. A breathtaking experience.