Category Archives: Politics and Culture

American Values as reflected in politics and culture

Why Does America Love War?

bombing Baghdad

Shock and Awe

Ancient epics may tell more about past civilizations (and our own) than either science or history, though all three must be taken with a grain of salt.

Authority of Science

In the enlightened, rational west we tend to give absolute authority to science and history. Their pronouncements are “facts,” while epic literature is “myth.” The problem with this view is that scientists and historians can be wrong. For example, Aristotle’s assertion that flies have four legs was reprinted in natural history texts for 1,000 years. It seems that it would have been easy enough to check this fact by taking a look at a fly, but Aristotle had said so, and he was the authority.

Authority of History

What about history? Although most historians now try to abide by some standard of neutrality, this has not always been the case, and is sometimes not the case even now. The truth is, everyone is biased and this shows up in the choices of sources and certainly in the interpretation of information. Ancient history was often written as propaganda; to flatter a king and demonize the “barbarians.” This spin was scattered amongst many actual facts, but it is very difficult to separate the two.

Probability vs. Certainty

So what can be certain about? Well, flies have six legs and early the British historian Venerable Bede (673-735) was wrong that the air in Ireland killed snakes and even neutralized their venom. Where written history is backed up by archeology the probability of accuracy rises, but nothing can eliminate bias. For example, the spin in most western history called eurocentrism implies that civilization sprang fully-formed from the Golden Age of Greece, passed through Rome, then to Europe. American history implies that the U.S. improved on that already superior path.  When you read ancient history, you find that this attitude is itself ancient: “Our nation is the epitome of civilization; all others are irrelevant.”

Epics and Sagas

We can continue to seek the truth and we can get closer to the truth (and we should,) but we probably can never achieve certainty. Or we can study what the people said about them selves with the awareness that they were biased (just like scientists and historians.) The difference is that people’s epics and sagas are in their own words. They will tell a story with spin, but even the way they spin it will tell you a lot about them.

Glorious Anglo-Saxons

A mighty movement to glorify Anglo-Saxons has not only shaped American history, it is still shaping history. it is probable that Anglo-Saxons have interbred with many other peoples (as have all peoples) until there is no such pure race. This does not stop racists and nationalists from clinging to the myths, though. This year Norwegian Anders Breveik killed 76 of his countrymen to draw attention to the fact that the Nordic race was in great danger of being assimilated by immigrants.

Values of the Norsemen

What were these Norsemens like? What did they value? How have they affected us? The Volsunga Saga gives us a peek into their minds. Old sagas and epics were no doubt passed down orally for many years before they were written; we have no way of ever knowing the date of their origin.

Warlike

The Norsemen valued warfare; they were pirates and terrorists. They reported their slaughters, pillagings, and village-burnings only as accomplishments-so much gold-so many villages. The morality of these activities were never questioned. Morality for the Norsemen had to do with a code of honor which emphasized bravery in battle. In Chapter VI, of the Volsunga saga, when Queen Signy is told her son was afraid of a snake, tells her brother Sigmund, “Take him and kill him then; for why should such a one live longer?” Her second son met the same fate. Finally, unable to produce a brave enough son with her current spouse, she disguised herself, had sex with her brother and gave birth to a real man, with the DNA of the Volsungs now concentrated in his veins.

Breeding Warriors

As Signy reveals to her brother later, “Take heed now, and consider, if I have kept King Siggeir in memory, and his slaying of Volsung the king! I let slay both my children, whom I deemed worthless for the revenging of our father…Sinfjotli is the son of thee and of me both! And therefore has he this so great hardihood and fierceness, in that he is the son both of Volsung’s son and Volsung’s daughter…”

Anglo-Saxon Superiority

This may bring to mind Nazi Germany’s doctrine of racial purity with an eye toward producing the perfect warrior, but elements of both race and war obviously appear in the British and American psyches as well. Prominent Americans have unequivocally stated that the original Americans (the “Anglo-Saxons”) were superior to all others and should be preserved lest civilization itself deteriorate. Americans still honor war heroes over scholars and America has by far the largest military budget in the world. Counting wars against Native Americans and covert and “police actions,” there are few years American has NOT been involved in a conflict somewhere.

The militarism and racism of the Anglo-Saxons still runs through the collective unconscious of Americans. That this is unconscious can be illustrated by the fact that in any debate about who discovered America, the debaters are trying to determine which white man discovered America, in spite of the obvious fact that it had been discovered by Native Americans long before it was discovered by Europeans. But that, apparently is irrelevant.

 

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Occupy Wall Street: It’s About Playing Fair

Sharing

NO, we are not all greedy.

As soon as a toddler can talk, he will start protesting against injustice: “That’s not FAIR!” This sense of fairness is so pervasive I think we are born with it.

According to anthropologist Donald Brown, humans across all times and cultures share certain universal characteristics. For example, human beings resist domination, share food and admire generosity-from Borneo to Beijing to Boston. They also have methods, both individual and collective, for resolving conflicts. Conflicts are inevitable in social groups, social groups are universal and so some method for resolving conflicts, and resolving conflicts fairly, is necessary for survival.

From these obvious truths evolved different sorts of rules and laws, usually with some sort of designated mediators. Justice, or fairness, is so important and so ingrained in us that people are willing to die for it. No justice, no peace. It is the foundation of social relations. The Declaration of Independence is mostly a list of injustices perpetrated against the colonists by the King of England. It is the expression, in eloquent language, of the toddler’s cry, “That’s not fair.” When an earthly authority is not fair, Jefferson argues, there is a higher authority that demands restoration of fairness.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has been ridiculed, tear-gassed, and shot with non-lethal, but physically punishing “bean bags” and “rubber bullets.” The injuries from these cute-sounding projectiles are much worse than you would imagine. If a parent inflicted injuries like this on a child, they would go to jail for abuse. Why were they physically punished? Because they said, “That’s not fair.” It is not fair that a few bullies steal our lunches. It is not fair that cheaters scoop up all the marbles and it is not fair that the authorities let them get away with it. It is not fair and it cannot continue. Furthermore, it is not fair to physically punish us for saying it’s not fair.  No justice, no peace.

Banksters who are too big to jail is not acceptable; neither is a Justice Department that fails to pursue equal justice. CEO Peter Schiff recently debated Occupy protesters, taking the position that capitalism is good. The protester said, “Greed is not good.” Schiff stated, as if the protester was a fool, “We’re ALL greedy.” No, we are not all greedy. Humans universally admire generosity. We may all be tempted from time to time to be greedy, but we don’t admire it, even after years of propaganda trying to convince us that “Greed is good.” No, greed is not good and injustice is not acceptable.

Fairness, or justice, is vital to the functioning of a society. How can we understand justice? We could study what the great thinkers had to say, we could spend years in a university and become lawyers, even lawmakers. But that doesn’t seem to guarantee that we will understand justice, in fact, it merely limits those who are supposedly the “experts” on justice. A more accessible way to understand justice is to hang out with toddlers.

A toddler’s zeal for justice is evidenced by the cookie-sharing scenario. If two toddlers both want one large cookie, most moms know that the way to avoid conflict is to let one cut the cookie in half and let the other take the first choice of the halves. The first will make the cut with all the precision they can muster while the second will watch keenly and then make their choice. Both toddlers are satisfied with the justice of this procedure. But they are greedy, you might say, they are self-interested. They are self-interested–three year-olds still think they are the center of the universe, but they are not greedy. I have never seen a toddler demand the whole cookie on the basis of the fact that he is the only one who matters. If three year-olds get this intuitively, why are fifty year-old CEOs having so much trouble getting it? Have they believed their own lies: that greed is good?

In my neighborhood tribe of kids we socialized each other. If someone had a bag of chips, we knew we should share, even if we only got five chips each. “Don’t hide it, divide it,” was our rule. No authority made us do this, sharing food is a human universal. In more primitive societies, if a hunter brought a deer back to the tribe and proceeded to eat it all himself, he would not last long in the tribe. Why bring it back at all, why not live as a rugged individual and keep all the meat for himself? He could do that, and he might even survive, but most people don’t think a solitary life, even one overflowing with deer meat, is worth living.

In my kid tribe was a boy named Blaine, who cheated. He would play baseball if his team was at bat and then quit when it was time to go into the outfield. We all protested loudly that he didn’t play fair. We gave him a few more chances to play fair and then we simply never let Blaine play baseball with us again. When he got a bag of chips, he slinked off and ate them all himself. Eventually he stayed inside and read all the time (probably Atlas Shrugged.) He went on to become an investment banker in Boston and can now buy all the chips he wants-and eat them by himself.

For at least thirty years, trickle-down Reaganomics and deregulation have caused increasing income inequality in America. In 2008 the economy crashed, and the crashees-the 99% tribe lost their jobs, their homes, and their credit ratings. The crashers were rewarded. Millions have suffered because a few greedy cheaters stole all the marbles and hoarded all the chips. Regulations are laws. De-regulation means throwing out laws. Throwing out laws means the lawmakers favor Blaine over the rest of the kids. Blaine gets to be up at bat all the time and the rest of the tribe gets to chase the balls he hits but never gets to hit any themselves. The other pet project of the cheaters, Privatization means the authorities give the greedy little Ahole the bat, the ball and even the field we play on. It is not fair. It is not acceptable.

No justice, no peace.

Donald Brown’s Human Universals:

http://www.amazon.com/Human-Universals-Donald-Brown/dp/007008209X

Stay Out of Owl’s Sex Life

spotted owl

"Wow, She's hot, kind of exotic..."

According to some environmentalists, the future of the spotted owl is in great danger. “It’s a nasty situation,” said Susan Haig, a wildlife ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Corvallis, Oregon. It seems that spotted owls are mating with barred owls, producing fertile hybrids. Politics enters the picture because timbering in the Northwest was severely curtailed in 1994 to save the spotted owl, an endangered species. Local lumbermen resented becoming an endangered species as a result.

Besides this, the plan has failed. Spotted owl populations have not increased and now they are fooling around with barred owls. Environmentalists are in a bit of a bind here. Should they kill barred owls? That doesn’t seem very environmentally correct. According to Susan Haig, “The spotted and sparred owls are hard to tell apart, and hybrids are not protected under the Endangered Species Act.” This could cause the extinction of the Northern spotted owl,” she said.

I say if spotted owls want to mess around with barred owls, who are we to interfere in their sex lives? Will they actually “disappear” or just assimilate into another owl tribe that they find attractive? Isn’t this what evolution is all about, adapting to your environment? Scientists only recently found out that Neanderthals were not wiped out by superior species of humans, but made love, not war and assimilated into the gene pool. If you want to see a Neanderthal, go look in the mirror.

This is another example of human arrogance. Somehow we think we can control everything, that we actually do control everything-like the weather. We can no more control the weather than we can arrange dates for spotted owls. In fact, about the only thing we can control is ourselves, and considering our everlasting wars, we’re not doing a very good job of that.

Johnathan H. Adler, Failing to save the Spotted Owl, July 29, 2011

Sharon Guynup, Interbreeding Threatens Rare Species, Experts Say, National Geographic, December 26, 2002

How Politicians Killed Karen

3 year0old birthday

I remember the birthday party

I can still easily picture Karen in her modest kitchen. It was her son’s third birthday party, and she seemed a bit flustered. “I’m sorry the place is such a mess,” she said, brushing her short, thick blonde hair out of her eyes. Trying to put her at ease, I commented, “Yeah-this place is gross. I NEVER have toys on the floor at my house.”

For just a second, her face fell and then all the moms burst out laughing. We pitched in, pouring juice, wiping up spilled juice, pulling the baby out of the cupboard, finding a lighter for the birthday candles. Karen still seemed tense, but then cancer had claimed her young husband the previous year. He should have been at this party; he should have been taking pictures. It had to hurt.

When the birthday boy ran his finger across the top of his cake, Karen apologized again. “I just can’t seem to make him listen!” she said, wiping frosting from his chubby fingers. I put my arm around her and said, “Hey Chica, remember what MY son did at the Sunday School picnic?”

My little son, while the two year-old class stood in a circle sweetly singing “Jesus Loves Me,” had pulled down his pants and peed into the center of the circle. Not only that, he continued singing, even swaying back and forth with the melody while he peed. The other two year-olds took no notice of this. The other parents grinned and I was the only one even slightly horrified.

But I won the Most Embarrassing Incident award. After all, I was the Sunday School teacher-that was my class, and my kid who peed in public. Karen smiled. I’m glad I made Karen smile that day, because three weeks later she was gone. Not just dead, but gone. No body to bury, nothing, gone; strange how the “gone-ness” makes it even worse.

Karen was a passenger on Flight 007, going to visit her dad who was in the armed forces somewhere. She had left the kids at home. On September 1, 1983 a Russian fighter plane shot Flight 007 out of the sky. It did not blow instantly to bits. It would have been better if it had blown instantly to bits. It took several long, long minutes to fall from the sky, crash and apparently explode. Nothing was recovered except some flip flops, some sneakers and someone’s dentures.

Immediately and inevitably, politicians started thinking how they could use this tragedy to advance whatever agenda they had going. Both American and Russian politicians lied, accused, covered-up, and propagandized. This always happens-always. As Rahm Emmanuel said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Reagan was in office and he had rejected a policy of détente as something fit only for sissies. He was going to flex the steely US military muscles in the face of the Red Menace, even though the USSR was already in terminal decline when Reagan came to power.

Having flexed the United States’ planned deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe and the largest fleet exercise ever in the North Pacific (FleetEx ’83,) the Russians were jumpy. When the Russians finally turned over evidence from the event many years later, it indicated that the pilot questioned the order to fire. But apparently spy planes could disguise themselves as civilian airliners. So he shot down Karen and 267 other people, including 22 kids, out of the sky and into very tiny tatters. Gone.

The pilot had made an error and was off course. The Russian commander had made an error-Flight 007 was no threat. The Russian fighter pilot might have protested more vehemently, like Vasili Arkipov, the Russian submarine commander who refused to fire  a nuclear torpedo from his submarine during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. If Arkipov had followed orders, the resulting nuclear exchange could have been the end of all of us.

I mostly blame Reagan and his warmongering ilk, waving their missiles around like so many willies in the wind. “Look, mine is bigger than yours.” These tactics are designed to intimidate. Intimidation is designed for domination. I despise strong people who intimidate and dominate weaker people. They have zero concept that Karens get blown to tatters as a side effect of their willy-waving. They call it “collateral damage,” the most obscene phrase in the English language.

They are never sorry. They never learn. They won’t stop until we make them stop. Karen is gone. Her boys are grown and have children of their own, children short one Grandma. But I can still easily picture her in her modest kitchen.

Michael Dobbs,  (2008). One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

 

 

 

 

 

Global Warming: The Good, the Gullible and the Greedy

einstein

"Question Everything"

A lot of good people are alarmed by the prospect of a warming planet and want to act quickly to stop it. It is quite possible that the greedy, once again, have manipulated the good.

Humans Can Be Gullible

Acccording to the AlphaDictionary “Today’s word, gull, began as a noun referring to what we swallow with, a throat or gullet, then moved on to become a verb meaning “to swallow”. The noun came to mean a person who “swallows” (believes) everything they hear, then this sense became a verb meaning “to convince someone to “swallow” (believe) something”.

Humans Are Not Often Rational

Human beings are not stupid and are capable of using critical thinking; it just seems that they often do not choose to do so. Examples abound, but an interesting example is the fact that while Americans usually say they vote for Presidential candidates “on the issues” they almost never vote for a short or bald candidate. Short or bald candidates do not seem to fit the image of the warrior king we unconsciously want-as if our leaders will be called upon to defend the nation in single combat with an enemy leader.

On Authority

Human beings believe things for many reasons, and one of the reasons is that the information comes from an authority. In our era, scientific authority is almost sacred. The famous Milgram experiment demonstrated the powerful influence of scientific authorities on human behavior.

Obedience to Authority

In the experiment, test subjects were “teachers” who would help “learners” by administering an electrical shock when learners (who were actors) made a mistake. The level of shocks ranged from “slight” to the horrifying “XXX.” The actor could be heard responding verbally as he was shocked and Milgram expected most test subject-teachers to refuse to continue shocking the learner at some point. If a teacher protested the shocking, the authority said, “The experiment requires that you continue.” To Milgram’s surprise, 65 percent of the teachers administered shocks to the lethal level.

Emotional Reasoning

Global warming, which has been re-christened climate change, is promoted on the authority of scientists (and emotionally on the basis of a movie.) The evidence is “incontrovertible” according to Al Gore. While some scientists do challenge this, they are in the minority and are shouted down. If a regular citizen questions the climate change scenario as outlined, they are accused of being stupid, regressive and a “flat-earther.” The level of emotion as opposed to open debate should raise a red flag and engage some critical thinking, but it shows little sign of doing so at this time.

What is the Climate Change Scenario?

First the climate change scenario should be defined, since many interminable arguments rage on due to faulty definitions. The climate change scenario is made up of several parts.

  1. The climate is getting warmer.
  2. It is getting warmer very quickly.
  3. This is due to the influence of human’s carbon emissions.
  4. Carbon emissions should be limited through government policy.

Should this be swallowed whole? Or should this be chewed piece by piece and the good parts ingested and the bad parts spit back out? 1). Is the climate warming? Very probably, since the climate is always warming or cooling if viewed over a long enough time-frame. We have had ice ages; glaciers once covered quite a bit of North America and they are gone now. So obviously climate changes. In the past 100,000 years 25 significant changes in temperature have occurred, resulting in the extinction of some species and the spread of others. Absolutely-climate changes-and it always will.

2). It is getting warmer very quickly. Maybe-we’ve all seen the hockey stick graph. The climate has also changed in the past very quickly (100 years or even decades is “very quickly” in geologic terms.)

3). The climate is changing because of human being’s carbon emissions. This requires some chewing. There are an awful lot of human beings right now and if nothing else they all breathe out carbon dioxide, as well as produce carbon emissions with their various activities. CO2 is not a pollutant, it is actually beneficial to plant life which very conveniently “breathes in” CO2 and “breathes out” O2. Neat little arrangement, that. This raises the question “Then what caused climate to change in the past?’ This question is not answered very definitively because no one really knows.

4). Can government policies reduce carbon emissions? Maybe; a little bit. Will the carbon emissions they reduce stop global warming? Unlikely. But even if it did, will they then need new government policies to reduce global cooling when the whole cycle swings around later on? Humans have survived major climate events (the desertification of the Sahara, the Ice Ages) by adapting to changing conditions. Now we seem to think we can control the whole world with a carbon tax.

Follow the Money on Climate Change

Finally, I would be much less suspicious of swallowing the climate change enchilada whole if Al Gore did not have himself in a position to get very, very rich(er) from new carbon policies. Al Gore owns Generation Investment Management, backed by Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, huge venture capitalists who aim to build “category defining companies” that will become leaders in the field. Gore’s Generation Investment Management states, “”There is a significant gap between the capital needed and the capital currently deployed to create enduring solutions to the climate crisis. To address this financing gap will require the efforts of many players, including entrepreneurial ventures, multinational businesses, governments, multilaterals and investors.” Follow the money.

Would Scientists Lie?

Would scientists lie about something like this? Sure they would, they depend on government/industry grants to keep their research departments going. Just because they wear a lab coat doesn’t make them Marcus Welby, MD. We may forget that along with the military-industrial complex, President Eisenhower, in his Farewell Speech,  warned that, “the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research… The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

The Power of Money

The power of money is to be gravely regarded, Eisenhower warned. The Club of Rome consists of about 300 of the richest men in the world, including Al Gore. They meet to discuss world developments and issue reports, one of which, The First Global Revolution (1993) shows that global warming was on their mind. On page 115 (first edition, page 75 PDF) it says, “In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill … All these dangers are caused by human intervention and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy, then, is humanity itself.”

Humanity the Enemy

It is unlikely that these 300 men include themselves in the great mass of human beings who are the enemy, however. One of the threats that would “fit the bill” to unite the rest of us is global warming. Is it a real issue and is the proposed solution something that the Club of Rome members truly believe in? Apparently not, because in a footnote on page 25 of The First Global Revolution they state, “Although the “greenhouse effect” is still a controversial subject and absolute certainty about its existence will not be possible for another ten years, if it is confirmed by that time, which is very likely, it will too late to do anything about it.”

If it is confirmed by that time, it will be too late to do anything about it, they say. Philosopher Karl Popper states that a scientific theory that isn’t falsifiable isn’t valid. Every twinge in the weather, every hurricane or blizzard, is trotted out to “prove” that global warming is soon going to kill us all, and those statements can’t be falsified, they are “incontrovertible.” This sounds more like a fundamentalist religion than science. Remember that Einstein was a pretty smart guy and he said, “Question everything.”

Karl Popper, “Conjectures and Refutations,” Science: A Personal Report, British Philosophy in the Mid-Century, 1957

Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider, The First Global Revolution, A Report by the Council of the Club of Rome, 1993

 

 

Return to Slavery in the U.S.

minority inmates

Return to Slavery: Right Wing Wet Dream

Slavery has been practiced all around the world for millennia because it works so well-for the slave owners.

Historical Context: Slavery

In the West, we like to claim that we sprang from ancient Greece, the cradle of democracy, philosophy, and reason. Their art wasn’t bad, either. This is, of course, just another case of myth-building, since all cultures, including ancient Greece, build on the accomplishments of those who have come before. Greece was preceded by great Middle Eastern cultures in Sumeria and Egypt and people got around and shared ideas much more than history seems to indicate. How much did they get around? Humans spread all over the world from Africa to Australia, on foot, and many thousands of years ago. For example of historical distortion, Pythagoras actually got his theorem from the Egyptians.

Slave Owners Longing to be Free

Human beings from Plato to Thomas Jefferson find the leisure to philosophize, reason, and experiment because they are no longer busy hunting, gathering, or tending crops. They are no longer busy doing these things because someone else is doing those things for them. In ancient societies the producers were the “common people” and slaves. Slaves came from common people who became impoverished or from conquest-what did warlords do with survivors of warlording? They could either kill everyone left over (and sometimes they did) or they could bring them home and make them haul water and chop wood for the rest of their lives.

Greek Slavery

The renowned Greeks Plato and Aristotle used their free time to philosophize about politics, the natural world and the meaning of life. They also philosophized about a bit about slaves. Plato envisioned a Utopia in which three rigid classes (aristocrats, their warriors and everyone else) were led by a Philosopher-King: someone, well, exactly like him! Slaves were devoid of reason and of worth only as servants of their betters. Aristotle asked himself if some are “born slaves” and then he answered himself:

“There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.”

Slave Economy Works

We admire Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson-men who philosophized about liberty- and we make excuses for the hypocrisy of their slave-owning. “We can’t judge, it was the cultural norm, everyone was doing it.” But there has always been a sizable group opposed to slavery that we ignore in this rationalizing: the slaves themselves. Nevertheless, the system worked well for the autocrats and may have made their nations prosperous overall; that is, it no doubt enhanced the state’s GDP as a whole.

Man Does Not Live by GDP Alone

This is one reason GDP cannot be the only measure of a successful society, as it has become in the United States, a nation with a high GDP and now 39th worst in income inequality in the world. When intelligent men examined the question of slavery, they had to come out against it or rationalize why it was all right after all. It was all right, they decided, because it was the natural order. Aristocrats were genetically superior and slaves were born to be slaves. Slaves at best were like children and at worst like unruly animals. The patricians had to not only convince them selves this was true for the sake of their conscience, but also convince the slaves for the sake of the aristocrat’s safety. Southern planters were (justifiably) worried about slave rebellions. They were exploiting and abusing human beings who vastly outnumbered them.

Fast forward to today. The growing income inequality in America has resulted in a nascent wage slave revolt called Occupy Wall Street. How it will turn out we do not know. It appears that citizens reared on the ideals of equality will not tolerate inequality. The slave system fans have another plan afoot, however, and it involves the huge section of “surplus” human beings who are incarcerated. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In addition to war, the U.S. appears to really like prisons. A disproportionate number of prisoners are low-income people of color.

Face the Racism

Let’s face it; a certain segment of the U.S. population doesn’t like low-income people of color. They have no intention of providing jobs for them, so what can be done? Lock them up. But no, you might argue, they have committed crimes. So have the bankers who crashed the economy, yet they are too big to jail. Could any of the inmates be innocent? Surely some are, according to the New York Times which proves that drug cops plant evidence to meet their arrest quotas. The same segment of the population mentioned earlier dislikes immigrants. Immigration uproars have historically been racist in origin. As a result of draconian immigration laws in some states, crops are rotting in the fields.

Back to the Cotton Fields

The brilliant solution to racist fears, the lamentable end of slavery and rotting crops is to boot out all immigrants and send the prisoners into the fields! Once again we can experience the thrill of driving past steaming fields with brown people sweating in the sun. Order will finally be restored to society and Plato’s aristocratic Utopia will have arrived. And get this-it’s constitutional!

Thirteenth Amendment: Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Think of it: No immigrants, “colored” slaves, and Constitutional=Right Wing Paradise Found.

I have worked in prisons. Prison is extremely unpleasant and excruciatingly boring. But perhaps inmates would like to get out and do some work, even if it is for 50 cents an hour (what inmates were making “inside the fence.”) If it were truly voluntary, it would not be slavery. But the 13th Amendment allows involuntary servitude and citizens who object to slavery need to be ready for this emerging Right-Wing wet dream.

 

 

 

Jobs: “Service Sector” Rip-Off

wallstreetbull

Wall Street Bull

With all the manufacturing jobs sent overseas, where will new jobs come from? “Service sector,” they say. What, exactly, are those jobs like?

NAFTA Rip-Off

Do you remember the hype about NAFTA-how it was a great idea because it would open up new markets for American products? This turned out to be a colossal joke and the joke is on us. Rather than open up new markets for American products, it opened new labor markets for American corporations, who promptly established manufacturing in Shenzhen and used the U.S. as the destination for Chinese products. We now export scrap metals and hides and import televisions, cell phones, and computers, resulting in a huge trade deficit. When is the last time you saw a television for sale that was made in the U.S?

The Corporate-Government Money Machine

It is nice that this has greatly enhanced the living standards in China. Even a $300/month job is better than no job at all. It has MASSIVELY enhanced the bottom line of a few mega-corporations, who in turn contribute to political campaigns in order to get more pro-corporate concessions and on and on until we find ourselves where we are now. Where we are now is hurting; unemployed, foreclosed on, credit ruined, school loans coming due and no decent jobs with which to repay them. To add insult to injury, pro-corporate pundits mock the 99% who got slammed-they are lazy, they want entitlements, they shouldn’t have gotten in debt (buying Chinese crap that made the corporations uber-rich.)

 $10 an Hour

Those light manufacturing jobs are gone forever, they tell us. Globalization can not be reversed, they tell us. We will have service jobs. I suspect the millions of citizens will end up in “service jobs” like waiting tables and working retail. They will be making $10 an hour, working holidays and weekends and if they don’t like that, they are soft, lazy and spoiled. Let’s look at a budget for a person making $10 an hour. After taxes, this is about $1400 a month. Below is a very optimistic budget for such a service worker.

 Live in a Dump

Though this depends on where you live, around here a person could get a rather dumpy rent for $500. Now he has $900 left. Utilities are maybe $120, phone service $50. Now he has $730. He would like to eat and that will cost him about $60 a week, if he doesn’t eat out. He has $490 left. How does he get to work? He needs a car, but can he afford a car payment? Assuming his credit has not been destroyed by past unemployment, he gets a clunker for $300 a month. He has $190 left.

 Hand to Mouth

Gas, oil, etc, costs him $80 a month and mandatory car insurance costs $60. Now he has $50. He should save for car repairs-without a car he loses his job and sinks into homelessness. But he can’t-he needs clothes, cleaning products, personal hygiene stuff. He’d like to go to a movie, go on a little vacation-but he can’t. He’d really like to buy presents for his loved ones at Christmas-good luck.

On the Edge of Homeless

He has no health insurance, he doctors his own illnesses. If he should become seriously ill, he is ruined, he will lose his job and be evicted from his shabby rent. If his clunker breaks down, he is ruined. He can not afford a vacation, he cannot afford to patronize the very store or restaurant where he works for forty hours a week, therefore he can not “stimulate the economy.” He lives in a dump, drives a clunker, works full-time under crappy conditions and can not even afford a small vacation. He is always living on the edge of ruin-one illness and one car breakdown away from homeless. This is the future our leaders hold out for most of us. If we complain we accused of being socialists or communists (though communist China is OK because they are making profits there.)

Extinction of the Middle Class

The truth is, the 1% considers most of us to be superfluous. They think they don’t need us any more; they have the whole world to exploit for labor. It’s kind of a natural selection thing, the world changed and we didn’t adapt like they did, so that means they are the fittest and should survive and we should…what? We should– my dear 99%, become extinct-and leave lots of wide open spaces for the 1% to enjoy. Oh, they still have jobs for a few of us, tending their manor houses, doing their laundry and bringing them meals-you know, SERVICE JOBS.