26 January 2007

Corporate/Capitalist Historical Perspective

A little historical perspective could allow everyone to have some understanding of what is going on in 'our world'... Thorstein Veblen's, "The Theory of the Leisure Class"...Robert Heilbroner's, "The Worldly Philosophers"...both make the point (in different time references) that monopolists/oligarchists/international bankers are not much different from barbarians because they use brute force (often the military of our nation), cunning and competitive skills to make money from others, and then live off the spoils of conquests rather than producing things themselves. There are alternatives to the current, corrupt, crony capitalism...which can bring about some peace and prosperity to the entire world in just manners..."Natural Capitalism" by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins describes some methods of doing this... The fact that transnational corporations and their agendas have come to dominate cultural, political, and economic life on a global scale can hardly be disputed. These powerful corporations have used national governments and government-created international bodies to create a legislative and institutional regime that accedes to and actively promotes and implements a "free-market" ideology. There are tremendous costs to the political, economic, and social fabric of the entire global community as corporations have become ever more capable under this ideological regime in extracting wealth and generating huge profits on a worldwide basis. Poverty, social and political disintegration, and environmental degradation are the main consequences of this global corporate ascendance. (And war)... The ability of corporations to penetrate the political and cultural sectors of our society is hardly a late twentieth century phenomenon. Despite the founders' efforts to contain corporations by explicit and revocable state charters, emerging industrialists in the post-Civil War era became powerful enough to sway legislators and the judiciary to act in their behalf. Not only did corporations generally gain rights in perpetuity, but the Supreme Court declared corporations to be legal persons entitled to the same rights as ordinary citizens, in addition to limited liability. By the late 1920s capitalism had largely emerged triumphant over worker and community interests, despite Teddy Roosevelt's attempts to reign them in. Consumerism has been instilled as the only legitimate avenue for realizing individualized "freedom." A form of democratic pluralism existed among the civil, governmental, and market sectors of society in the post-WWII era, but any such sectorial accommodation was mostly an aberration that came about only because of the necessity to solve the twin crises of the Great Depression (caused by corporate-led economic excess) and WWII. Any social accord that may have existed was shredded as corporations, backed by the Reagan administration, renewed their assault on the working class and relentlessly pursued self-interested global strategies, continued through Bush I, Clinton, and now Shrub... Over the last two decades, middle-class jobs have been lost, median pay has stagnated, and austerity has been imposed on the less fortunate as a profound upward redistribution of wealth and income has occurred. Globally, the structural adjustment measures forced upon developing nations by the World Bank and the IMF to qualify for loans, ripped the fabric of those societies and have actually increased indebtedness to First World bankers... Trade agreements and administrative bodies, such as NAFTA and the WTO, are designed to eliminate local restrictions on investments by international firms and barriers to the free movement of goods between nations... The freedom for capital to move freely among nations has also fueled rampant financial speculation unrelated to productive investment. Unconscionably, American taxpayers have been forced to bailout those engaged in extracting wealth from the developing world. "Free market" ideology is used to justify the gutting of the social and legal structures of nations. But it is a disingenuous view... Free market activities posited by Adam Smith involve local, individual economic actors, none of whom have the power to control the marketplace... Unregulated, unfettered market activities by huge economic entities can result in market coercion. For example, monopolistic firms can externalize costs...that is, they are powerful enough to force societies to pay for the social and environmental side-effects of their activities. For example, labor and environmental regulations are often ignored with impunity...society picking up the pieces. The impact of corporations acting as legal persons cannot be overemphasized... Corporations overwhelm actual citizen political participation and free speech by the extent and intensity of their political lobbying and media controlling efforts. Corporations and the rich, in a form of legalized bribery, basically fund political campaigns... They also heavily sway public opinion through public relations front organizations, conservative think-tanks, and the control of the major media. The dependency of the media on advertising dollars virtually guarantees presentation of views that are compatible with corporate interests, not to mention the fact that the huge media empires are themselves transnational corporations with no interest in harming broader corporate interests. Foxes building hen houses.

16 January 2007

Thanks, Katrina Vanden Heuvel...

In presenting his plan for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq this week, current Representative and now Presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, noted that "after the first Gulf War, Iraqis reestablished electricity within three months, despite sanctions. Four years into the US occupation there is no water, nor reliable electricity in Baghdad." He also pointed out that Iraqis receive a paltry 5 percent of subcontracts while US contractors make billions of dollars and "millions of Iraqis do not have a means of financial support, nor substantive employment." Kucinich's example cuts to the heart of the gross corruption, waste and profiteering that marks the failed Iraqi Reconstruction effort – over $50 billion spent on private contractors with little return and billions unaccounted for. Not only did the Republican Congress turn its back on its Constitutional responsibility for oversight, it even attempted to surreptitiously oust the one individual who was uncovering some of the corruption – Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen. So what did President Bush offer on Wednesday night as a solution to rein in the waste and fraud of the Iraqi Reconstruction effort? "A reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq." Seriously.

14 January 2007

Cynicism and Division

Cynicism of government is rampant, but not about 'dictatorship', coup de etat...that's the scam of the oligarchy...keep everyone divided and screaming 'liberty and freedom'...while giving them a global war on terrorism which will last for a century...and the false sense of freedom to choose between Levis and Wranglers, Coke or Pepsi, Walmart or Target...NASCAR or ATVs...American Idol or Survivor...FOX News or ....oh you get the idea. Yep...land of the free, where there are more people in prison than anywhere in the world...where our healthcare does much less with twice the money per capita spent...(and I don't mean government programs).... Meanwhile...watch out...the bad brown people are gonna get us. Help...can't we have a bigger and badder military eating up 450 billions of dollars each year...and private contractors eating even more...can't we kill more of these brown people who genuflect differently than we do?

10 January 2007

Framing the Debate

We live on our 50 acres of land within the bounds of a state forest (made up mostly of lands forfeited in the 30s due to non-payment of property taxes)...within the last 4 years an ATV trail has been developed traveling through the woods, helter skelter with no regulations...erosion, noise pollution, mucking through wetlands, etc...we've organised meetings to, at least, establish a trail which is hard packed and doesn't cause such a problem...the ATVers also interfere with horsefolks, walkers, runners...etc. Multiple use is impossible. To frame the debate I'm beginning to suggest to concerned citizens that folks who recreate by wasting fuel which is imported from the middle east, at the same time exacerbating global warming...are aiding the terrorists, not supporting our troops and are selfishly aiding in the destruction of our forested areas/wetlands while spewing pollutants into the air...and disturbing the quiet of the rest of folks who would like to enjoy the beauty of the woods... I'd like bumperstickers that say...if you love to waste gas, move to Saudi Arabia...they have plenty...and it's already a desert there.... (Tools are not toys.) These folks should be shunned and denounced as anti-american.

Winter is passing

It has been since autumn that I’ve written anything.  I feel...no, I know that a coup has been stag d in this country. But, from my vantage...