Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Affirmative Action: for Capitalism

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela:

"The problem is ... the economic, social and political model of the world. That capitalist model is in crisis."

President Evo Morales of Bolivia :

“End the capitalist system”


In November of 2008, an endless and disgracefully expensive campaign will end with the selection of a new president of the United States . We can safely assume that person will continue representing and working to sustain the menace the above quoted presidents criticize and urge ending: capitalism.

Given the continued disintegration of our imperial rule , any call for political change can sound encouraging. But rather than being entranced by a word which is abused every election cycle, we need to understand that our problems are not due to particular leaders, but a system they serve which is far more important than their individual personality , character or intelligence flaws.

The two South American presidents are addressing the larger issue , as are other leaders, movements and NGOs all over the world. The choices for president offered us by our ruling elite might as well be from another planet.

In the age of Bush, it’s been easy to buy into a demonizing process usually performed on foreign leaders. This makes it seem that everything wrong with America and the world is the fault of the present regime. While it is probably the worst and possibly the dumbest in modern history, the Bush cabal is only speeding up the disintegration of empire. It had nothing to do with creating it, or starting its fall. That process began a long time ago and won’t be changed by the next administration, whichever affirmative action candidate wins.

Whether the next president is the first black man, white woman or mentally disabled veteran to hold that office , he or she will affirm the system. Just as millions of far less rich and powerful beneficiaries of affirmative action , they have been financed to do just that. This will assure that disintegration continues, while only the extent of damage and speed with which it happens may change. Slightly.

The Obama candidacy has raised hope - another abused word in politics - in the hearts of millions of Americans. Many are new to the electoral process, but others more experienced have become almost desperate for something, anything, anyone, who offers the slightest glimmer of hope in a time of bleak circumstances. But we should not mistake the fact that this candidate offers nothing more than the very slightest glimmer, and that real hope will have to come from those inspired enough to transform a political fan club for cosmetic change in the present, into a political movement for real economic change in the future. What affect this election may have on the creation of such a future movement is an important question which can only be answered long after November 2008. But we’d better start asking it now.

The most vital economic problems of the present could provoke a revival of some welfare state policies of the past. These may bring some breathing space, but they failed in the past because they merely worked to reform capitalism in the short term, not totally transform it for the long term. And it is the long term that we must face, and why president Morales calls for ending capitalism. The system that fills gas tanks at the cost of empty stomachs and finances war at the expense of health care and education will not face any problems from its chosen affirmative action candidates .

And when it comes to the most important foreign policy issue of Palestine - Israel and the Middle East, this triad of capital’s servants is totally beholden to the Jewish lobby and continuation of a failed and bloody policy that invites more misery for indigenous people, and more possibilities of desperate retaliation .

While Obama has not yet addressed the lobby’s concerns in quite the hysterical tones of the others, he has expressed his obedience to its party line. Clinton, the family oriented feminist , threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran, its families and its feminists, while McCain looked at the horror inflicted on Gaza and assured Jewish state supporters that “ I will be Hamas’s worst nightmare ”. Obama has bent his knee in slightly more subtle fashion, but in his moderately important speech on race, he totally denigrated his former pastor and accused him of entertaining :

“a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.”

A serious critic would have to be under the influence of powerful drugs to find that statement anything but hateful and reactionary.

Oh well, given the dreadful economic circumstances, won’t a revival of primitive social democratic policies of the past bring some relief to a population facing chaos under the rule of free market fundamentalism ? Some, but not much. And it won’t last.

Without a radical transformation of capitalism, the gap between the rich and the rest of us will grow wider, with more Americans likely to be reduced to the material status of the worst third world poverty. And the global poor will grow in number, and in suffering, while the danger of terrorist response to exploitation and pain will increase beyond its present, often fictionalized threat. In fact, without that transformation, as the presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela have repeatedly stated, there won't be much hope for the future of humanity, let alone that of the USA. So while we vote in the short term present, if we don't seriously consider real change for the long term future, there may not be one. And the long term has already begun.


Copyright (c) 2008 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

This text may be used and shared in accordance with the
fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be
archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that
the author is notified and no fee is charged for access.
Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on
other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author

frank scott
email: frankscott@comcast.net

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Immigration and Illegality - A Nationalist-Internationalist Exchange

Posted by mksmith07 on 04/18/08 at 12:40PM

I don't understand why I should object if an immigrant pays into social security under my name, thus increasing my benefit levels when I retire. As to who is being cheated, illegal immigrants are. They pay billions of dollars annually into social security, but are not entitled to receive benefits.

I teach immigrants every day, many of them undocumented, and very few of them trust our government enough to "come out of the shadows," whatever reform proposal may be offered.

On the issue of illegality, shouldn't it be part of the discussion that the United States government and major corporations headquartered here have consistently overthrown democratic governments and crushed popular movements for desperately needed social change throughout the Third World, thus contributing mightily to illegal immigration flows? This behavior is quite illegal, aside from unspeakably immoral.

On the other hand, we cannot absorb the entire Third World within our borders, so those who object to mass illegal immigration cannot be dismissed on the basis that they lack compassion. In short, those who are paying the social costs of current immigration policy have a right to complain.

To call illegal immigration an "invasion" is a bit of a stretch. What we did in Iraq in 2003 was an invasion. And yes, American soldiers in Iraq are illegal immigrants destroying a country. On the other hand, Mexicans and Central Americans who come here in search of any job they can get are fleeing miserable conditions our government has had a large hand in creating in the first place.

It is not simply "up to the Mexicans" or "up to Latin America" to create decent living conditions for their citizens, as though they haven't been trying to do precisely that for a long time now. But every time they enjoy a little success the U.S. government moves in and destroys the project.

If we want less illegal immigration, we should reign in the illegal actions of our government.


Posted by mohl on 04/18/08 at 1:51PM

The problem with identity theft is that the person or persons who use your SSN to work also often uses it for identification when buying a car, applying for a credit card, using it as identification when getting medical assistance, etc. Often the user fails to pay and that is when things get really nightmarish for those whose identities have been stolen. Of course, our government permits this to happen by allowing the use of an SSN by more than one person, but they will not help you clean up the mess when your credit is tarnished or even destroyed.

Yes, our government and corporate policies, along with those of foreign governments, help to cause this crisis. But the problem ultimately falls to the American taxpayer, especially state and locally, to pick up the tab of caring for and educating those who come here as a result of actions for which they have no culpability.

Over the past 20 years (and mostly in the past 10) as many as 20 million or more have entered illegally. There may be many causes for illegal immigration, but it's pretty hard NOT to call this an invasion.

And yes, we can hold other governments responsible for the living conditions and opportunities in their own nations. Who else is ultimately responsible?

Posted by mksmith07 on 04/18/08 at 3:03PM

We are. U.S. taxpayers provide the revenue with which the U.S. government maintains harshly punitive economic and social conditions throughout the Third World. Take Latin America. For decades the U.S. has crushed or strangled one popular movement after another attempting to create decent conditions of life for the majority: in Nicaragua, in El Salvador, in Guatemala (the Catholic Church called our policy genocide), in Ecuador, in Brazil, in Cuba, etc. etc. As a general rule the forces allied with us inside those countries have not been "governments" but denationalized looters beholden to a foreign power - Washington. In short, we shouldn't blame this on "other governments," but on our own. Morally, we are obligated to stop our own (more serious) lawbreaking before we complain of the illegal actions of others. And when we do this, immigration flows will likely decline rapidly.

In Mexico, we have always allied ourselves with the looting class. And we were specifically warned that NAFTA would destroy small Mexican farmers, predictably leading to an immigrant "invasion" of the U.S. If we consistently ignore the predictable consequences of our own actions, can we be taken seriously? I think not.

Where is the element of force in the immigrant "invasion?" The typical use of this word implies force is being exercised. I don't see how sneaking across the Mexican border at night constitutes an exercise of force. The brutality of U.S. force, on the other hand, is dramatically apparent throughout the world.

Let's get a handle on that.


Posted by mohl on 04/18/08 at 4:38PM

Force can be from numbers as well as weapons. I'm a conservative who blames our current and past presidents as much as you for our actions in Iraq and other loathsome international policies. But what you forget regarding illegal immigration is that there are other victims here as well: American taxpayers, workers, and students are the ones who actually must bear the burden.

You can hate our government for its sins, but why blame Americans for its pecadillos? Wouldn't you then have to blame the illegals for the injustices of their own governments?


Posted by mksmith07 on 04/19/08 at 4:32PM

To call our mass murder operations in Latin America and elsewhere in the Third World "pecadillos" is an exercise in apologetics. I mentioned that in Guatemala alone it reached the scale of genocide in the 1980s. And I explained why the American people are responsible: we fund our government, and I should add that we elect it. That makes us responsible for what the government does.

To blame Mexicans for the Mexican government or Guatemalans for the Guatemalan government might make sense if the U.S. role in Latin America were different from what it has been. But historically the governments that succeed in Latin America are highly repressive thug states maintained by U.S. arms, aid, diplomatic support, and counterinsurgency training (i.e., state terrorism), "governments" whose mandate from Washington is precisely to thwart the popular will. When we get our boot off their necks and let them elect whom they want to elect, then I'll hold them responsible for their governments. But not before. And let us here note that in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, victor of more democratic elections than any figure in Latin American history, is bitterly opposed by the U.S. for precisely that reason.

The immigration issue is directly tied to the legacy of colonialism and imperialism, because the regions exploited by Euroamerican power for centuries are precisely where so much undocumented immigration is coming from. The World Court ordered us to pay $17 billion in reparations to Nicaragua alone for the destruction we wreaked there in the 1980s, but naturally, we never paid it. So who has contempt for the law?

I acknowledged that those paying disproportionate social costs of mass undocumented immigration can't simply be dismissed for lack of compassion in opposing the loss of community control that occurs when a wave of cheap workers swamps a particular area.

But where I live Spanish speakers have been here longer than English speakers, so who invaded whom first? As a matter of historical fact, the U.S. invaded Mexico and took about one-third of the country by force. As Mexicans often point out, correctly, "we didn't cross the border, the border crossed us."

The illegal immigrants we need to resist most are the U.S. troops destroying Iraq. How many of them brought passports and visas to Baghdad?


Posted by mohl on 04/19/08 at 6:31PM

And before the Spanish speakers were here, the Navajo and Hopi and Apache were here. How far back do you want to go and to whom should we return the southwest? Borders change. They've changed dramatically and often in Africa, in Asia, in Europe, and in the western hemisphere. That is something with which you and Mexico must deal.

We should get out of Iraq as soon as possible. Then we should put our soldiers on our southern border. We should learn from our historic blunders, not continue to make them.


Posted by mksmith07 on 04/19/08 at 9:37PM

But how many Navaho and Hopi and Apaches are here now? Do they have anything like the current demographic and cultural significance of Spanish speakers in the Southwest and California?

Actually, Indian peoples as a whole are still legally sovereign over roughly one-third of the continental U.S. I'm all in favor of honoring that, and doubt very much whether they would consent to putting thousands of troops on the Mexican-U.S. border. (Mexicans are mostly Indian, too, Some 30,000 Spaniards mixed with millions of Aztecs, so genetically they have to be far more indigenous than European.)

In any case, it is not a matter of going back, it is a matter of dealing honestly with injustice, especially desisting from one's own criminal behavior before pointing the finger of blame at others. The Southwest is certainly home to Mexicans, who do not feel they are entering alien territory when they cross the border. I expect it will remain U.S. territory for some time, but that does not mean Mexicans should be treated as criminals for crossing into U.S. territory. If we stopped imposing "free trade" agreements and allowed Latin America to define its own brand of economics for itself, we wouldn't be inundated in immigrants to begin with.

"Borders change" contains no news. On that basis Hitler's redrawing of the map of Europe was legitimate.


Posted by mohl on 04/20/08 at 12:14AM

Demographic and cultural significance? I think the Native Americans would disagree with you as to their significance.

How the American southwest became a part of the U.S. does not nulify the fact that it now is and we won't be giving it back. We have a border and it is sovereign. In the distant past, half the known world was Rome. That is no longer so, and California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have been part of the U.S. for 160 years. That's the fact and the reality. As you said in an earlier post, let's get a handle on that.

I agree with you regarding Iraq, but that is a separate issue. As is free trade at least to an extent, which has hurt American workers too.

Posted by mksmith07 on 04/20/08 at 1:58PM

Well, in one sense all cultures are of equal significance, no matter their size, but as you yourself indicated, numbers in themselves can be an expression of force, or at least impact. In that sense, Spanish-speaking cultures are way more significant than indigenous cultures in the Southwest and California.

We wouldn't be having this discussion if the Mexican border were sovereign. Arbitrarily establishing a border in the middle of Mexico guaranteed that it would not be. Absent a change in our foreign and economic policies, there is nothing that can prevent the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. from growing to 100 million in the next forty years. Borders change, yes, but so do demographics.

The article that started this thread spoke of undocumented immigration as an international phenomenon, which makes Iraq not at all a separate issue. In fact, it is the clearest possible instance of an illegal immigrant invasion destroying a country.

Free trade is not a separate issue, either, at least if we really want to reduce undocumented immigration. The Zapatista rebellion in Mexico emerged right after NAFTA was passed, warning that "free trade" would destroy communal agriculture, dispossessing millions of Mexican farmers. They were right, and recent waves of undocumented immigrants are among the obvious consequences.

Putting the troops in Iraq on the U.S.-Mexican border is a policy that (1) has no chance of being adopted, and (2) has no chance of solving an immigration problem rooted in economic exploitation if it were adopted.

When I said "let's get a handle on that," I was referring to stopping the U.S. government's illegal and immoral policies, not insisting on continuing them while complaining about their predictable effects.


Posted by mohl on 04/20/08 at 3:29PM

At least we've come to a round-about agreement that the massive numbers of illegals crossing our border constitutes an invasion.

Our southern border is sovereign but not protected. There's a difference. And yes, I do fear between "invasion" and birth rates, Spanish speakers in the U.S. may number 100 million and in a lot less than forty years. Not a happy thought given the overcrowding and dwindling natural resources that is our likely future if that ghastly growth occurs.

I'll give you that NAFTA was ill-conceived. It enriched the corporations without consideration to the harm that would be done to BOTH Mexican farmers and American workers alike, and our government, Mexico, and Canada knew (or should have known) this going in. So you want Americans to pay for this forever? All three governments were equally complicit. Why then do you believe only the American people should bear the burden?

But let's not forget that long before NAFTA, the Mexican, Guatemalan, Colombian, and Salvadoran peasantry were little more than fodder for their ruling classes and crossed our borders illegally or over-stayed their visas in smaller but still significant numbers. Another ill-conceived U.S. government policy, the 1986 amnesty, shouted to the world that all you had to do was get here and we would relent and let you stay. Do you concede that was also a blunder by our government?

I agree putting our soldiers on our border won't happen. Too politically incorrect. I don't agree that it wouldn't stem much of the flow. Of course I don't advocate shooting people who are attempting to cross illegally, but I do believe if you make it too costly and too difficult, they will stop trying. Maybe then the people who look to the U.S. for economic survival will turn their attentions to demanding more opportunities in their own countries.

It's time to stop blaming the U.S. (and its people) for everything and start thinking about saving it. It's far from perfect, I'll grant you, but it's better than the alternatives. You can detest the U.S. government all you want, but don't overlook the fact that its people are the first to give and help when disaster occurs.


Posted by mksmith07 on 04/21/08 at 1:13PM

Massive undocumented immigration may fit the secondary definition of the word invasion, though I think applying the word in this case is more rhetorical than accurate. But I can't say it's completely wrong.

The Mexican-U.S. border is one of the most militarized borders in the world. Militarizing it more will not solve the problem, which is social and economic, not military. There is no military/police solution.

I have not said only the American people should bear the burden of NAFTA, which is a nonsensical statement and therefore one I would not make. I have said, and continue to say, that Americans are responsible for their own government, not the Canadian or Mexican governments. And I've pointed out that the U.S. does not allow the Mexican people or any people in Latin America to have a government that runs contrary to major corporate interests in the U.S. In short, the governments that typically hold power in Latin America are extensions of U.S. power, so how can the people suffering under them be blamed?And the denationalized looters that hold power by being servile to the U.S. are doing what they are paid to do.

With the advent of NAFTA, even Canadian sovereignty has been at least partially eclipsed. Canadian social welfare protections - more generous than ours - are challenged under free trade doctrine for restraining trade. The U.S. government was far and away the most powerful actor in ramming through NAFTA.

Making immigration more costly and difficult will increase the death rate among migrants, but will not staunch the mass immigration flow. To stop that, we'd have to support Chavez, Castro, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, and other socialists in Latin America, whose democratic populist agenda explicitly rejects free trade, while favoring the closing down of U.S. military bases in Latin America. These governments are trying to make Latin America a decent place, so people don't have to migrate thousands of miles to find a job. The U.S., of course, opposes them.

As I already mentioned, Latin Americans have been demanding more opportunities in their own countries for a long time. (That's how Chavez, Correa, Morales et al came to power in the first place.)The U.S. has drowned their demands in blood time and again. The alleged generosity of the American people has done little about it. Then again, the American people know virtually nothing about Latin America, and therefore can't do anything about it.

It is frankly conceited to rate one's own society better than all others, especially when it is committing crimes against humanity on a regular basis. Do we really need Osama bin Laden to wake us up?


Posted by mohl on 04/21/08 at 5:12PM

Sometimes reason can fly out the window when you hate something so much, as you seem to hate this country. Chavez is making moves to become a dictator and it may not be long before we see Venezuelans attempting to escape to freedom in the same way Cubans (under the thumb of another of your heroes) have done since 1959.

Your preference for socialism is puzzling given the historically oppressive nature and ultimate failure of this type of government. It seems the victims of corrupt regimes, once down-graded to socialism, would go from the frying pan into the fire.

Illegal immigration to the U.S. is beneficial only to Corporate America's bottom line, but a terrible economic and resource drain on state and local taxpayers. You can't make that fact go away regardless of where you wish to lay blame for this chaos.

I said the U.S. was far from perfect. But if it were not a better place to live than most, why would so many want to come here, and not just for survival? Should not a people be proud of their country, their culture, and their way of life, and want to protect it?

We are clearly and permanently at cross-purposes here. I want to bequeath to my grandchildren an America with room to breathe and opportunity to thrive and prosper. I'm not sure what you envision for our future (or what future you believe we deserve).

Yes, our government has made many international blunders (I venture to guess it's a rare country that hasn't). Yes, the American people could be better educated as to the actions of our government. But since I have voted for non-winning presidential candidates for the last 28 years and losing Senators for even longer, I'm just not sure what you would have me do. What do you do to see that the wrongs are righted?


Posted by mksmith07 on 04/22/08 at 11:30AM

I have expressed no hatred for my country in any of my posts, nor do I harbor any. I have spoken of injustice and the need to overcome it. That is not hatred.

Chavez respected the will of the people in rejecting his reform package, one feature of which would have allowed him to seek a third term as president. How many dictators agree to limit their time in office in accordance with a popular referendum?

Just like capitalism, socialism has many forms. It is too sweeping to speak of "this type of government" when referring to socialism. Each case is unique and has to be judged accordingly. To pronounce all socialist efforts as "failures" betrays a deep prejudice, as well as unawareness of what is going on in Latin America, where it is very much alive, and not just in Cuba. Note that in Venezuela, Chavez, the "dictator," has rejected calls by Marxist-Leninists to nationalize the whole Venezuelan economy.

I don't know if people "should be" proud of their country, but they naturally are, and this is fine within limits. But when pride becomes chauvinism and blinds the patriot to the crimes of state he/she needs to take responsibility for, the limits have been surpassed. And calling a long series of deliberate criminal behavior "blunders" is pretty far-fetched. Was it a fit of absent-mindedness that had the U.S. kill millions of people in the forging of its empire?

It is impossible to know whether the U.S. is a country "better than most" - better in what sense? The culture and people of the U.S. have much to recommend them, but the national security state and the transnational corporations headquartered here are rapidly bringing the human race to the brink of extinction. They are a major factor in sustaining the miserable conditions people are fleeing when they come here. Therefore, it is disingenuous for us to conclude that simply by coming here immigrants are stating that the U.S. is better than other countries.

I don't think "an America with room to breathe" will result from supermilitarization of the Mexican-U.S. border, or any similar effort to turn the country into a prosperous cage.

I share your hopes for your grandchildren to thrive - for everybody's grandchildren to thrive - but have serious doubts about their "prospering," which usually connotes financial success. When we've reached the point where trillions of dollars in assets disappear overnight, it is not clear that anyone can count on prospering anymore.

Profit as the superordinate goal of society was probably never a good idea, and is now clearly obsolete. The ecological crisis will never be solved by tinkering with market incentives. It requires extensive social planning. Wall Street is not likely to look kindly on this fact - or even recognize it.

Our material standard of expenditure is going down, and will continue to. That in itself is not a bad thing. A life glutted with gadgetry and haste is not the best of all possible worlds. We need to find a higher quality of life at a lower standard of expenditure. I doubt very much that can be done within the constraints of a profit-driven system.

Posted by mohl on 04/22/08 at 11:29PM

You're probably expecting a lengthy response but I'm worn out trying to win any concessions from you. I plan to go on believing this country can and will continue to thrive and prosper, along with my grandchildren, and hope that wisdom guides us to be a sovereign but more honorable neighbor. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Economic Suicide

“ I think this economy is down because we
built too many houses and the economy’s adjusting.”
President Bush

Clearly, the great decider’s brilliance in dealing with climate change and war have roots in his vice like grip on economic theory. To think that our problems exist because of too much housing in America is not gross oversimplification, but a moronic notion common to our ruling regime. And almost as bad is their opposition, still quibbling over how long to maintain the moral outrage in Iraq and posing as lesser evil by calling for a vague number of years , while the mentally unbalanced regime supporter sites the need for perhaps a century of occupation .

The most hopeful sign for the future is that most of the electorate will not vote for whichever AIPAC approved candidate wins the presidential sweepstakes.

While lives and dollars continue being squandered on the rape and disemboweling of Iraq, more are being jeopardized by the madness of casino capitalism. The outlook can only seem bright from the viewpoint of shortsighted profiteers and dimwitted politicians, often the same people.

The bleak situation has some calling for a revival of the New Deal program that allegedly took the country out of economic depression back in the 1930s. But though FDR’s regime was progressive by comparison to the present reactionary cretins, it wasn't until war broke out that the nation’s economy recovered . The only similarity between then and now is the system of capitalism, more rapidly international and financially artificial in the present , and thus even more deadly than before.

After that war the USA became ruler of a global empire, and it was said that when America sneezed, the world caught cold. Now the contagion factor is far more dangerous. A major U.S. recession can trigger a global depression worse than that of the 20th century. Already, the astronomical cost of destroying Iraq, the near collapse of housing and credit markets, and the meteoric rise of fuel costs have led to food price increases which have caused riots among the world’s poorest people. Problems at the economic bottom of the market are always serious, but the suffering there now almost makes the pain of those who’ve lost homes or sunk into bankruptcy seem trivial by comparison. But no one’s distress is trivial, and more will be hurt the longer this situation prevails. And it is a crisis more serious than any we’ve faced since the beginning of the American empire, now in its fading days.

In the 1930s , hundreds of millions of dollars disappeared when the stock market crashed. Now, that kind of loss is experienced in seconds, as the financial monster of contemporary capitalism deals in trillions of electronic dollars, most of them invested in fantasies, based on dreams, developed from prayers. These Ponzi inspired creations are given names like Credit Default Swaps, but whatever they are titled by financial double talk , more than forty five trillion dollars are floating around the ether depending on these faith based entities to somehow produce profit. Events like the virgin birth of Christ and the commandments handed to Moses are about as materially verifiable as these financial creations, whose supposed housing stock foundation make castles in air sound firmly rooted in earth .

The speed with which money is lost and the amounts involved can be staggering to contemplate. When the last market speculation bubble burst, billions of dollars - a billion has nine zeros - vanished in the blink of an eye. Only a few years later, trillions of dollars - a trillion has twelve zeros - have disappeared into the ozone, taking jobs, homes and futures with them. Government bailouts for banking and finance are the only evidence of a public expression of support for such incredible loss. These massive figures can easily glaze eyes and befuddle brains, making it easier to empty taxpayer’s wallets to insure the power of great wealth, at public expense.

America’s national debt is more than $9 trillion dollars, and the personal debt total of the citizenry, including mortgages, is nearly $14 trillion. When consumer debt is almost equal to the nation’s truly gross GDP , what does another $45 trillion in financial gambling mean? Let’s try putting those incredible figures into some perspective:

A trillion is a thousand billion.

A billion seconds equal 32 years.

A trillion seconds equal 32,000 years.

At a dollar a second, it would take more than 288,000 years to pay the national debt. Are you ready to pick up that tab of nine, or fourteen, or forty five trillion dollars? How? When?

Corporate capital simply “writes down” its losses, often in the billions, and the debts attached are gone. Just like that. Why can’t individual citizens “write down” their own unpayable debts, and be done with them? Can you guess?

Under the reign of capital, losses at the corporate top are always socialized and absorbed by citizens at the taxpayer bottom , where they practice a perversion they are taught to worship as individual participation in a free market . That’s like sexually molesting society’s children and calling it an expression of personal free love . This is a system without moral or financial principle, which has always menaced our social and natural environment. It does so now at an increasing and deadly pace that threatens greater disaster for the future.

In the short term, a return to wimpy social democratic policies may offer some breathing space, but ultimately a democratic movement must confront the faith based economy that is failing, and create a materially based appropriation of national and international wealth in the service of all humanity. The criminal degradation that brings wealth to a small segment of the race will ultimately impoverish everything and everyone if it isn't stopped, and very soon . The long term has already begun.

Copyright (c) 2008 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

This text may be used and shared in accordance with the
fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be
archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that
the author is notified and no fee is charged for access.
Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on
other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author

frank scott
email: frankscott@comcast.net

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Imperialist Fairy Tale Come True

The distinguishing characteristic of the richest country in the world, a distinction the U.S. enjoyed even in the 18th Century, was always its insatiable appetite for more. An awesome superiority of arms married to an unlimited willingness to shed blood insured that "enough" never made it into the national vocabulary.

Intent on establishing their "natural boundaries," the American Colonists and their descendants drove out the British, "cleared" the continent of the "backward" Indian nations, extended their borders through war, enslaved millions of Africans, absorbed a tidal wave of cheap labor and foreign capital while developing the fantastically abundant resources of the territories they conquered, all the while protected from the predations of European powers by two huge oceans in an age of sailing ships, finally becoming the most staggeringly powerful nation the world had ever witnessed.

This dizzying leap to world power had humble beginnings. When Revolution broke out in 1776 the Colonies were a coastal enclave claiming a territory of 369,000 square miles. Six years later they added the Northwest Territory (275,000 square miles) and the area south of the Ohio River (205,000) square miles). The following year George Washington referred to the country as a "rising empire." By 1800 official figures confirmed that the national territory had more than doubled in the previous quarter century, with a total area of 892,135 square miles. In 1803, with the British Navy strangling his hopes for an overseas Empire, Napoleon dropped the 885,000 square miles of the Louisiana Purchase in Washington's lap - at the lip-smacking price of $17 a square mile. Florida's 59,600 square miles were added next, bought from Spain in 1819 for $5 million and a promise to surrender claims to Texas. Texas was promptly annexed in 1845, swelling the national territory by 389,000 square miles, with editor John L. O'Sullivan of the influential Democratic Review explaining that it was the "fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions." An 1846 treaty added the 285,000 square miles of Oregon Country, which was followed two years later by the conquest of Mexico, an addition of 529,000 square miles. In 1853 the Gadsden Purchase acquired 30,000 square miles, rounding out the U.S. with a total of 3,026,798 square miles, a 720% increase in size in three quarters of a century, a feat never before seen in the world.

Over the next half century the U.S. absorbed an additional 716,666 square miles, including the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal, making the national territory more than ten times the size of the original Thirteen Colonies. Cuba's 44,218 square miles were technically independent of the U.S., though the Platt Amendment gave Washington permanent intervention rights should Cubans get any radical ideas about charting their own destiny. Furthermore, in just a few more years (in 1912) Alaska's 586,400 square miles would be incorporated as a U.S. "territory" - the first step towards eventual statehood.

The indigenous nations of North America in the path of this juggernaut were first uprooted, then herded onto "reservations," and finally subjected to forced assimilation amounting to either genocide or something very much like it. In the half century after 1880 upwards of 80% of Indian youth were dispatched to remote boarding schools where they were forced to cut their hair, dress in Euro-American clothing, speak "proper" English, and practice Christianity, all part of an effort to divest them of their cultures and turn them into obedient sub-members of the country reputed to be the "last, best hope" for liberty on earth.

Presiding over this amazing sequence of expansion and cultural obliteration was a plutocratic class extracting the fat of the land and selling its surplus abroad, leaving the great mass of people living "more wretchedly than the cave man," in the words of Jack London. After decades of brutal class warfare designed to crush a unionization movement intent on effecting a less lopsided distribution of wealth, these propertied elites cast their eyes on the East in hopes of founding a world empire. When Cuba and the Philippines rose in rebellion against a decrepit Spanish Empire, they seized the day - and Madrid's colonies.

As the U.S. made its ascent to empire, industrial expansion was the culture, accumulating wealth its sole preoccupation. Rail and telegraph linked a national market stretching from Boston to California; immigrants swarmed through every port; urban factories vacuumed youth off the farms; child labor soared; profits cascaded into private trusts. With a population of 75 million the U.S. possessed an industrial capacity capable of providing for 150 million. To absorb the surplus, bankers and corporation owners engineered a shift from an economy of need to an economy of acquisition. By 1900 a third of the world's manufactured products were American made, with the U.S. exporting iron and steel goods, leather boots, machine tools, bicycles, and electrical supplies.

The advertising industry invested half a billion dollars a year in teaching Americans to want things that had never existed before: Hoover vacuums, Detroit gas ranges, canned meat (Armour and Swift), washing machines, porcelain bathtubs, Whitman's bon-bons, store-bought orchids, Waterman fountain pens, F.A.O. Schwartz's toys. Almost overnight Nabisco, Singer and Kodak became household words.

All of Europe fretted over the "the American peril," much as Americans are encouraged to worry about China today. European farms were worked with McCormick Harvesters. American watches told time to the Swiss and American silk caressed the French. American pig iron, steel rails, billets from Carnegie's mills, and locomotives from East Coast factories helped modernize Britain. Remington typewriters turned up in British tents in South Africa and California flour and canned goods found their way to Siberian towns. African and Russian bridges were girded by American steel.

In the West, steamships shrunk the great Pacific Ocean to a commercial pond: A hundred ships a week departed San Francisco for China, laden with beans, flour, pianos, and wine; to Japan went printing machinery, whiskey, tools, and paper.

Accompanying the rapidly mushrooming economy was a swelling imperial vanity. European visitors to the States were constantly reminded that they had come to the "finest nation on God Almighty's Earth."

The Sources:

Scott Nearing, "The Making of a Radical: A Political Autobiography," (Harper, 1972)

Howard Zinn, "A Peoples History of the United States,"(Harper, 1980)

Louis Adamic, "Dynamite - The Story of Class Violence in America," (Chelsea House, 1958)

David P. Thelen, "Robert M. La Follette and the Insurgent Spirit," (Little, Brown,and Company, 1976)

Richard Drinnon, "Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building," (Schocken, 1980)

Noel Kent, "America in 1900," (M. E. Sharpe, 2000)

Sidney Lens, "The Forging of the American Empire," (Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1974)

Ward Churchill, "Struggle For The Land - Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide and Colonization," (City Lights, 2002)

-----Michael K. Smith is the author of "Portraits of Empire" and "The Madness of King George" (illustrations by Matt Wuerker), both from Common Courage Press. He can be reached at proheresy@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Legalienate Bulletins

After extensive analysis of word, thought, volume and delivery patterns, combined with keen observation of lexicon and knowledge of race history, the Center for the Study of Centers released its report on the extremist hate speech of Senator C.P.B. Obama’s pastor, Reverend Wright.

A center spokesperson announced ” the rev was wrong, on just about everything.”

“To begin with, his ridiculous assertion that the USA was ruled by rich white men. Every middle school graduate knows full well that the USA, as well as the international business community, is ruled by a cabal of rich black capitalists. This secretive group, popularly known as the Harlem Globetrotters, has long been controlling political economic policies, and it is absolutely ridiculous to think otherwise.”

“As if that weren't enough, Rev. Wright’s charge that europeans slaughtered indigenous people here in America and stole their lands is so far fetched that even preschool graduates must be laughing. It is common knowledge that the various Indian nations conspired to entice europeans to come here, take over their lands, massacre them when they resisted, and almost totally destroy their culture, in order to plot for hundreds of years until the time was ripe to open gambling casinos which would take all the white people’s money.”

The Center urged that people read its full report for a complete outline of the other outrageous, racist, hate filled and totally dopey stuff the Reverend said.

The center is offering copies of the report to students of radio talk show correspondence schools, at a minimal charge of only fifty euros each.

New Policy at CIA

The CIA has announced changes in its program formerly known as Vigorous Interrogation, or Torture, now to be known as:

Stressful Coercive Measures in Defense of Homeland Security Employed in the Questioning of Evil Terrorist Suspects, or

SCMIDOHSEITQOETS

The Company has instructed employees and media to refrain from use of old terminology and to immediately begin use of the new language to better describe SCMIDOHSEITQOET.

The following changes in the vocabulary of vigorous interrogation should be learned with all deliberate speed, and put into practice even before our troops evacuate Iraq.

Water Boarding will hereafter be referred to as Extreme Surfing.

Eye Gouging will now be called Radical Ophthalmology

Fingernail Removal will be described as Intensive Manicure

Jaw Breaking should be seen as a form of Revolutionary Dentistry

and

Brain Drilling will be known as Surgical Psychoanalysis

Congress approved the language in a unanimous voice vote, with the only abstentions being the Progressive Caucus. When asked how they could abstain from such an important vote, their spokesperson said they didn’t want to be seen as not supporting our troops.


Clinton tells Obama: It’s On, My Man!

When asked if Bill Clinton really had been the nation’s first black president, as he was described by a breathless and brainless supporter , Senator Obama said he would have to see him dance before deciding.
Clinton angrily reacted by charging that Obama has only half as much rhythm as a real black person, and challenged him to prove his blackness in a contest. “I’ll play my sax if he dances , and we’ll see who’s got more soul or whatever that thing is called .”

Reality TV producers joined with Jerry Springer to offer a simulcast of such a debate, but only if Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Obama would be willing to mud wrestle, after the American Idol jury decided which man had more rhythm, or less shame.

Another Language Breakthrough?

The Center for the Study of Clich├ęs announced that it is pushing the envelope with a diverse multi cultural branding procedure which will be moving forward to guarantee transparent relations toward furthering the peace process wherever genocide is threatened or being committed.

Sex Scandal Avoided... or Created

In the new trend toward confessing sexual infidelities before they are revealed by Dr Phil , Rush Limbaugh or the New York Times, presidential candidates Clinton, Obama and McCain simultaneously put out press releases admitting to having participated in sexual threesomes with their mates and pets.

All insisted that their pets were of the opposite sex, but did not reveal whether the other two participants were engaging in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or very hot platonic acts of bestiality with those animals.

Recession Over : Depression Begins

Wall Street announced that it was pooling the finances of the nation’s ten biggest banks in order to insure the the Federal Reserve would remain solvent.

The nation’s ten biggest banks filed for bankruptcy right after the announcement.

The Fed chairman said , “ This is a troublesome time in our financial markets, but we are hopeful that our friends in China, Russia , Iran , Korea, Somalia, Micronesia and the occupied territories of Palestine will be forthcoming in their promise to help stabilize our economy by placing their euros in our deviation stocks and derivative bonds, or whatever those things are called.”

Commentators, pundits, financial reporters and bipartisan members of the clergy called the Fed chair’s remarks as obfuscating , confusing , perplexing and shallow as those of the previous chair, and therefore brilliantly beyond the ability of average people to understand.

The Legalienate staff urge you to hope for the best, expect the worst and have a happy April, fool.