Archive for July, 2011

Mighty White of You

Friday, July 29th, 2011

If you watch old movies, you’ve run across the expression “That’s white of you.” It’s meant to be a compliment from one caucasian to another, acknowledging the obvious connection between virtue and skin color. It’s fallen into disuse except as sarcasm. Maybe it ought to be rehabilitated.

In the value system of the new millennium, it’s a challenge to name a single virtue exhibited by any variety of human, but it’s especially hard to find virtue among white people. Richer by orders of magnitude than their more numerous, dark-skinned brethren, they use their advantage to oppress and enslave the less fortunate. White people are armed to the teeth, reserving most of their bombs and bullets for dark-complected folks. They kill children with as little thought as they exterminate pests. For most of the last millennium and all of this one, they’ve kept busy displacing dark-skinned people to make room for themselves and their polluting activities.

White people are preoccupied with violence. Their favorite subject seems to be killing, which forms the theme of most of their fiction. So many murders are dramatized for their amusement that most white people now think they risk death whenever they venture out of doors.

Their favorite pastimes are car racing, featuring high-speed collisions that are occasionally lethal, and “professional” wrestling, an exhibition of simulated violence that would, if it were genuine, kill or maim the athletes. They bring their preferences to politics, keeping the world in a permanent state of war. They’re consummate cowards, waging armed aggression these days with proxies from the poorest segments of their population and with robots and remote controlled missiles.

White people consume like vermin, and their waste piles are mountain-high in some places. They’re forever deodorizing and disinfecting. Their skin is ugly and difficult to maintain, and so white folks must keep a selection of cosmetics with them at all times.

Most non-white people privately think white people should be ground up and fed to their pets, but their various moral codes don’t allow them to express this desire. White people, by contrast, have no obligatory moral code and are known for leaving the dead bodies of non-whites to litter the streets of places like Gaza and New Orleans for scavengers to pick at.

Barack Obama’s skin is a bit dark for him to be considered white, but he was raised by white people and seems to have picked up most of their ways. He’s in the process now of withdrawing help from poor people in this country–including nearly all the non-whites among us–to buy bullets to kill brown people in Afghanistan and black people in Somalia and Libya. Mighty white of you, Barry.

Marxist Hunter

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Anders Breivik, the mad Norwegian, fancies himself a soldier. Like his nation and ours, he chose to engage in an armed attack against innocent people for no other reason than to make some sort of point. We can’t say yet whether Breivik was making the same point as Norway and the USA are making in Asia and Africa, but there’s little doubt that lethal aggression by nations cheapens life and inspires would-be warriors like him to follow their governors’ lead.

In the first hours of the violence, when we were certain that the killer was dark-skinned, we could rest assured that the bloodshed was politically motivated, but now that we know he’s white and claims to be a Christian, his motives are more difficult to pin down. We understand that when Christians kill people, it’s for humanitarian reasons, and so his actions create a bit of cognitive dissonance. We’d like to think he went berserk.

We claim to be shocked by what Breivik did, but we’re not shocked when our president evaporates a Pakistani family with a missile launched from a remote-controlled aircraft. The destruction of innocent people in Pakistan might also create some cognitive dissonance if we Americans thought about it, and so we don’t.

The embedded mass media don’t seem disposed to apologize for reporting, almost universally, that the mayhem was caused by “radical Islam.” They probably don’t want to acknowledge that the Judeo- Christian ethic they subscribe to might be defective in some way. Christians and Jews in the homeland–God bless it!–seem to have a taste for violent entertainment, violent athletics and violent politics. This presents a challenge for anyone trying to understand their moral code, which also tolerates greed, hatred and vengeance. Maybe the problem with Islam is that it’s an improvement on its ancient predecessors.

Obama offered his sympathy, but the armies he commands belie his sincerity, furnishing role models and a manual of brutality guys like Breivik can embrace enthusiastically. Lining up behind our boys and girls in Afghanistan and Iraq, the blue-eyed rifleman thinks he was doing the world a favor.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the terrorists would focus on the guilty for a change? Start with the leadership of the US government and a few of their sponsors in finance and the arms trade and maybe work their way down to the British, French and Italian jet set. Justice won’t be catching up with these people any time soon, and, if they were to get what they deserve, they’d be riding tumbrels to the guillotine. If they’re allowed to continue in power, then we, like the hapless Norwegian campers, will be the ones that pay for their atrocities. What goes around comes around.

Not My War. Not My Debt

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

There’s a good reason that the embedded mass media won’t couple the national debt with the world war our leaders haven’t been paying for.  It was the media’s steady stream of lies and disinformation that sparked the war and that has kept it going these many years.  Except for a handful of misleading public opinion polls–”are you in favor of the war or are you a traitor”–there is no evidence of support among ordinary people for the bloodshed and destruction that we unleashed.  If the media ever concede that their war is linked to the debt, people might start to think it’s their debt.

Even ignorant people know that war costs money.  Whether our leaders pay now or pay later (an option not available to most of us), the tab must eventually come due.  The media never raised the issue of cost, and they’re not about to start talking about it at this late date, and so all the discussion is about how to get the money out of ordinary people. 

Ordinary people made a sizeable down payment a few years ago, but the creditors are at the door again, and they’re determined to grab their pelf from pensions and the various pools of money that form what the media so quaintly call the social safety net.  Those who promoted and profited from our world war–a large part of what was spent went directly into the bulging pockets of a few rich people–will pay nothing. 

I would tax the people responsible for the war debt, and I would start with the embedded mass media.  I’d slap a tax on radio and TV advertising.  I’d increase the fee for each successive broadcasting license granted to the same corporate entity.  I’d impose a property tax on owners of more than one commmercial radio or TV station and on owners of more than one newspaper.  I’d tax  movie and TV violence: you want to peddle death and destruction, you can pay for the privilege, right at the box office.  Not forgetting the talking heads that spouted all the disinformation, I’d enact a celebrity tax: name ten deserving Americans on your tax return, and the top 1000 vote-getters would pay an extra million each.  Brian Williams, Rupert Murdoch and Wolf Blitzer would be at the top of my list.  It’s only a billion dollars, but it’s justice, too.    

I wouldn’t stop with the commercial media.  I’d impose a big tax on government contractors, with a surtax on military suppliers.  Military retirees above the rank of O-4 would see a cut in their pension checks.  On the civilian side, the top 1000 income-earners–they average about 100 million each per year–would face confiscation of half their income until the debt was paid.

Obviously, the current crop of political leaders isn’t about to enact laws that will cost their rich benefactors anything.  Until they lose confidence in their ability to buy the next election they can be depended on to defend those from whom they solicit money.  Ordinary people have the power to reverse that trend simply by refusing to support a well-financed candidate.  Why should a member of a labor union, for example, support somebody with a million-dollar campaign treasury?  Why not, instead, resolve not to cast a vote for anybody who advertises on TV? If it means casting only one or two votes on election day, fine. 

Another thing ordinary people can do is show up. You don’t have to wait till election day to make your dissatisfaction known.  The thugs you’ve been voting for year after year need to be told that you’re cleaning up your act and withholding your support.

One way to let them know you’re fed up is to show up in Washington on October 6, when thousands will gather for an open-ended demonstration and occupation.  October 6 is the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, and an invasion of the capital city is long overdue.  Like the masses of Egyptians who occupied downtown Cairo and Alexandria in protest, we’ll be staying until we get action.  Some of us will get arrested and some of us will get beaten, almost certainly, but our bodies are all we have left to invest.

Believe Your Eyes

Monday, July 18th, 2011

We’re just short of the ten-year mark, and the unsolved mystery of the century remains censored out of your local newsrag. It’s taboo to talk about unanswered questions surrounding the events of 9/11/2001, and this means we have to forget the dead, too.

Unsatisfactory as the news blackout is for the victims and their survivors, it works out nicely for the deluded masses. This is because they’re not really deluded: they know the truth but it hurts too much to acknowledge. Their faith–like most faith, probably–is pretense, even transparent pretense. Their suspension of disbelief is delicate, creating a problem for culpable government and media. People might eventually believe their eyes, and the evidence that will ultimately bring them to consciousness must be suppressed, anniversary or no anniversary. That’s why you won’t see much video of the buildings coming down. The video itself is an indictment, and reasoned discourse about it, which would naturally accompany any airing, must be avoided at all costs.

Modern technology makes it possible for us to confirm the breadth and depth of the censorship. Search the Internet for references to 9/11 in newspapers, on television or radio, or even in the left-leaning blogs that dot the Web. You will find almost nothing about the events of that day. Plenty on peripheral matters like the shape and size of the memorial and the Islamic center going up in the neighborhood, but nothing in the mass media on what actually happened.

No questions are raised about any of it. Looking for an update or reconsideration of the 9/11 commission report? Forget about it. Interviews with those present in the bunker with Richard Cheney a few minutes before the Pentagon was struck, confirming (or not) that he had advance knowledge of the event? Not going to happen. Analysis of the video, which shows buildings coming down in free-fall, violating the laws of physics? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that conversation. Discussion of what happened to the third building that collapsed that day and maybe a public airing of the landlord’s on-camera admission that he had the building demolished? Not yet, and not ever. Discussion of the mayor’s culpability for death and disability among rescue and cleanup workers? Not to be talked about. Scientists last year found tiny chips of undetonated explosives– manufactured, demolition-grade material–in dust collected by near neighbors of the World Trade Center on that day. You won’t find any mention of that finding in any paper.

What accounts for the absence of even a single report reviewing the actual events of that day in the New York Times, Washington Post, New York News, CBS, Wall St. Journal, NPR, Democracy Now, Huffington Post, Common Dreams? Bill Moyers won’t touch the subject with a ten-foot pole. Noam Chomsky still blames bad Arabs, but he won’t explain how the buildings came down. Nader wants a new investigation but won’t discuss details. It looks too much like systematic censorship to be mere coincidence.

I don’t take people seriously anymore if I find out they believe the official conspiracy theory. All of their opinions are suspect. Want to tell me how to fix the economy? First tell me what you believe happened on 9/11. Want to recommend a book or advise me why bombing Libya was a good idea (or a bad one)? Tell me first whether you believed your eyes when you saw the World Trade Center demolished by explosives.

Nine-eleven denial is a mental illness that ought to be assigned its own diagnostic code. I suspect most of the excess armchair violence, Prozac popping, and compulsive eating and drinking we see in the new millennium has its origin in this disorder. PTD: post-traumatic denial. Seeing ain’t believing.

Girls Gone Wild

Friday, July 8th, 2011

We were so happy to hear on NPR that Girl Scouts are doing everything short of anything at all to get palm oil out of their cookies. Two members of the uniformed girls’ club have been lobbying the organization since 2007, when they found out that palm oil plantations are replacing orangutan habitat in Malaysia. Palm oil, a popular substitute for hydrogenated fat, is used in many prepared foods, including the cookies Girl Scouts sell every year to fund their activities.

Until 75 years ago, the girls and their mothers baked all the cookies for their annual drive. In 1936, the organization realized that the annual sale was a commercial opportunity and began contracting with a few big bakers to make all the cookies. Only a small portion of the money collected by the juvenile cookie-mongers goes to their local troops, but the Girl Scouts don’t tell their customers how the money is distributed or how much of it is going to grown-ups. The cookies cost about twice what you would pay for similar treats at the supermarket, even though they’re baked in the same ovens by the same commercial bakers.

Rhiannon and Madison, the two dissident scouts, collected over 60,000 signatures opposing the use of palm oil in cookies, but the Girl Scouts’ national cookie sale coordinator says nothing can be done this year. There is no affordable source of sustainable palm oil, she says, and the Girl Scouts’ contribution to the decimation of tropical rain forests will have to continue. “The boxes have been printed,” she adds.

NPR says the Girl Scouts don’t want to do anything to jeopardize cookie sales because they “need the money” for camp, trips and other activities. The organization has pledged to study the problem and maybe do something about it sometime, but they’re not making any promises, and this year’s cookie drive will cost the rain forest a few more orangutans.

The two girls, teenagers now, didn’t call on customers not to buy the cookies, but that’s what I’m doing. If integrity was among the values they learned in their scouting days, the Girl Scouts’ need-the-money excuse rings hollow with them, and they’ll be gratified by my decision.

Max Doubt

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Suppose Congress were to fail to increase the debt limit. The experts tell us that the federal government would not be able to spend. My Social Security pension would stop. Military pay would stop. Government contractors would receive no further payments. Printing presses at the mint would fall silent. No more bonds would be issued. The sages don’t actually itemize the damages, but they predict catastrophe. In reply, we might reasonably ask, “Oh, really?”

When you reach the limit on your credit card, the banker doesn’t stop you from spending, he just won’t let you spend any more of the bank’s money. If you cut back on expenses, stiff lower-priority creditors, get a second job, sell off some of your stuff, and give the bank a sufficient quantity of the resulting cash, you’ll be back on the bank’s tab ever so promptly.

Suppose the US government were to declare a moratorium on the world war we’ve been waging for the past several years. All the millions we spend every day destroying things and killing people could be applied to our debt. We could tell the people we’re trying to liberate that we’ll get back to the bloodshed when we can afford it again. They’ll understand. They certainly understand this: any country that can’t win a war in ten years ain’t gonna win ever. Instead of increasing the debt limit, we’d be reducing the balance. That’s what you would have to do if it were your tab.

Another possibility would be to tax the rich. Their wealth has grown by an appreciable amount in recent years, partly because we no longer tax them. Why not take that surplus? Pay down the balance a little, and then we can get our credit card back and reduce the payback at the same time. Win-win.

There’s an infinite number of ways to survive with our current debt limit, but the authorities don’t want us to know that, because they and their sponsors rake in a fat profit whenever money is borrowed. An increase in the debt limit means more money in the pockets of people who already own just about everything. Congress isn’t increasing the limit for your benefit but for theirs.

I’m challenging my congressman to keep the debt limit where it is. Increasing it is an admission of irresponsible stewardship, and any member who supports an increase ought to tender his resignation along with his vote. Better to start amortizing the debt with the military pay that won’t get disbursed because the war is finally over. And if our central government is bankrupt, we have a right to know, and we have an obligation to take it into receivership if necessary. Could be a path to revolution.

Recovered to Death

Friday, July 1st, 2011

How is it that the economy is in recovery, but working people are worse off than ever? The reason may be that the health of the economy is measured by statistics that have little to do with the well-being of humans. When news-mongers mention “the economy,” they’re really talking about markets and not people. Government and the mass media give us a snapshot of economic conditions that crops most of the image, and we’re just starting to catch on to the true picture.

This explains why it’s a “jobless recovery,” as the mass media sometimes refer, oxymoronically, to our current condition. Government and the media measure the health of labor markets mainly with statistics involving eligibility for unemployment compensation. Much less important are factors like actual income or the surplus of human capital. The unemployment rate declines but more people are idle. The number of new claims for unemployment in a given month is down by 100,000 from the previous month, and that’s an improvement in the economy. If this were a disease, we’d still be deteriorating, but at a slower rate.

Commerce, another indicator cited by the experts, is measured with an assessment of the output of goods and services, but little or no consideration is given to the distribution of those goods and services among the populace, the costs to the natural environment, or the size and consequences of the unpaid tab for them. The health of the economy, according to the experts, is a simple function of cash flow and has no relation to the magnitude of public and private debt. You max your credit card, you can consider yourself in tough shape economically. Government and bankers max theirs, they just increase their limits. It’s good for the economy if if keeps money flowing through their sticky fingers.

Also missing from conventional equations is the displacement of paid workers by machines and slaves, not to mention the fitness of the workforce for work. Illiteracy, infant mortality, addiction, itineracy, blight, mental illness, incarceration, nationalism, suicide and other symptoms of social failure are altogether missing from the economic equation, notwithstanding that each and every one is intimately involved–as both cause and effect–in poverty and joblessness.

Prices on the New York Stock Exchange, considered a key indicator of the health of the economy, are reported several times a day on TV and radio, even though only a small fraction of the audience owns stock, and the great bulk of corporate equity is held by the richest 10 percent of the population. When stock prices declined by 25 percent in 2008, government was quick to intervene, making good most of the “losses” with taxpayers’ money. No help is forthcoming for the millions of workers in foreclosure, however.

If economists could factor in the real-life parameters of economic health, odds are that the stats would indicate not recovery but profound depression and catastrophic failure. In fact, when you factor out all the missing quantities, you’re left with this equation: health of economy = wealth of rich people. An economy in recovery is an economy in which rich people are getting richer.

Notice the disequilibrium inherent in this sort of calculus. As a smaller and smaller group of people comes into possession of a greater and greater portion of economic resources, the dispossessed, indebted majority grows in numbers and desperation. Is there a tipping point, at which the masses are forced to repudiate debt, confiscate wasted and misapplied capital, and punish the tiny, overprivileged minority who impoverished them? It can’t happen here, as we used to say.