Monday, October 31, 2011
On the other hand, the theological debates that swirl around a subject such as "Is fighting inflation the only concern of central banking?" have massive impacts on the rest of us—how we live, how we are employed, how we educate our children, etc. etc. And these fierce debates continue until this day. Witness the fight of the true believers over the monetary crises in Europe.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Henry Ford insisted that his facilities be located next to water (a known operating preference of his) and the St. Paul plant is no exception. It is located atop the Mississippi bluffs near a small dam. The promise of cheap hydropower was the chief reason why in 1924 Henry Ford agreed to build a plant in St. Paul. The dam was initially completed in 1917, making it one of the oldest on the river. So this plant now sits not far from some of the prime residential real estate in St. Paul, but because it is a screwdriver facility, it has been an astonishing good neighbor over the years.
Why today's Ford management is closing a plant that is trouble-free and has made them a TON of money over the years is anyone's guess. All I know is that they could not build such a plant today. Can you imagine the howls of protest if someone were to suggest putting a vehicle assemble plant in the middle of a very chic neighborhood on one of the prettiest pieces of real estate around?
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
But if I could stand up in front of the crowd in Zuccotti Park, it would be to say the following:
People keep asking to see your agenda. And I LOVE your answer so far which seems to be "Go away, we're working on one." The reason this answer is perfect is because IF you were to publish a list of demands—even one as good as Matt Taibbi's—the critics would be all over it. I have a list, too, that I think is spectacularly well thought out but even I don't think the time has come to get that specific.
But I DO think there is one demand that is so obvious that not only will the vast majority of the 99% of all political persuasions agree to it, but even the paid critics will have difficulty attacking it. Are you ready?
No more bailouts of the financial system.
The reason I think this should be the first demand is simple—refusing to bail out the banksters is the only way their power can be checked effectively. They may seem powerful because they own all the media, the politicians, the schools of economics, and the pundit classes, but they have one EXTREME vulnerability—their casino is bankrupt and very soon, they are going to need another blood-money transfusion to keep their evil game going. This prediction can be made with mathematical certainty. And the moment the long-suffering citizens of the world refuse to pay for the bankster crimes against humanity (and make it stick) is the moment these freeloaders lose their power. Their magic will be destroyed.
Of course, the screams that we simply cannot allow the casino to fail will resound again like in 2008. Spineless politicians who have long relied on the financial sector to fund their campaigns will reliably sell out the rest of their constituents. And solemn pundits will explain once more why the rest of us should cover the bad bankster bets. And even more solemn folks will demand to know what we would do with the wreckage. Whatever. The idea is to make these jerks defend the outrageous idea of bailing out Wall Street one more time.
One demand (and the threat of making it stick) would make the banksters treat #OWS very, VERY, seriously.Regular readers know I HAVE covered the subject of necessary bank reforms but here's a link to one of my favorites Michael Hudson discussing some. The link has a video and a transcript.
Turns out that a belief in free markets is dangerous to more than banking. Here we see The Guardian's take on the problems the USA has coming to grips with environmental problems when blinded by an ideology. In this case it led to a disaster in Copenhagen.
When I was writing Elegant Technology back in the 1980s, it had become quite obvious that the Germans and Japanese were the most likely to produce working green technologies—I even put such a claim on my book cover. This conclusion stemmed from the fact that "green" technologies had to be an improvement on current technologies. This meant that only the folks who operated on the technological bleeding edge had any hope of advancing the art.
Because the English-speaking world was deliberately de-industrializing behind the public faces of Thatcher and Reagan, it was effectively eliminated in the race for Elegant Technologies in comparison to places like Germany and Japan that still retained their respect for their industrial base.
I always thought that Britain was worse than the USA when it came to environmental cluelessness. So it is with some pain that I note this spot-on critique from the Guardian of the performance by Dr. Chu at climate change talks in Copenhagen. Our secretary of energy is a Nobel Laureate in Physics but when it comes to subjects like Energy Efficiency, it's like he is stuck holding a caulk gun trying to figure out how to solve big problems on the cheap.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Well, that didn't happen and there is a thunderingly obvious reason—the USA had for much of its history an escape valve in the frontier. Among other things, the Homestead Act turned millions of people into small land-owners and the towns that served those sod-busters filled up with small businesses. And when these people discovered that there was something rotten in the economic arrangements, they couldn't strike against their evil bosses (themselves), so they developed a critique based on the one segment of capitalism they discovered did not play by the same rules they were forced to play—the moneychangers. And since this critique is at least as old as the Bible and was certainly reinforced by the giants of American history like Franklin, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Ford and Edison, the politics of monetary policy REPLACED any impulse towards socialism (which had almost nothing to say about money and banking in any case.)
And since we have arrived at the point in history where even the useful functions of banking have been seized by shameless criminals, the critiques of the banksters developed by the USA Progressives are still relevant while those who mention socialism are treated as distractions.
Here we see a statement supposedly written by a committee of banksters to counter the threat posed by the People's Party Convention of 1892. It was supposedly read into the Congressional record by Congressman Lindbergh who devoted much of his political career fighting the evil of the "Money Trusts."
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
So it is with some satisfaction that I notice that there are a few scientists in Baltimore who who have joined the #OWS movement and that Scientific American is actually covering it. After all, the scientific community has everything to lose when banksters make off with the public purse, but meaningful lives if the society can finance the infrastructure upgrades we so desperately need. In some ways, they should be LEADING the #OWS movements. (What am I saying? Didn't Veblen die hoping his idealized engineers would create the rational social movement? —sigh—)
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Some men who reach my age have a pile of money to give away. Unfortunately, I am not one of those folks. But if knowledge is a treasure in and of itself, then I have reached my declining years a very rich man. And if I believe that rich men should give away their wealth before they die, and I do, then I feel compelled to give away my riches too.
Hence my blog. It's just me jumping up and down yelling, "Hey folks, look what I found. If you understand it, it will make your life better. Come and see!"
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Back when the USA was discovering how dependent their prosperity was on cheap oil after the Arab oil embargo of 1973, a professor from St. Louis by the name of Barry Commoner decided to run for the Presidency in 1980 on a platform of addressing the fact that oil production had peaked in continental USA. I went to hear him speak. He was a dreadful public speaker but he did include one of the great gems of wisdom of all time which he called his Iron Law of Non-Renewable Resources. Briefly it says, "Every barrel of oil (ton of coal, uranium ore, etc.) taken from the ground makes the next barrel (etc.) harder to find and more expensive to extract." Understand this and understanding much of rest of the real economy is much easier.
Even so, it is interesting to see updated evidence that the law still works—well.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Now, the focus of political discourse are the inequalities of wealth and income, and how they cripple our economy and democracy by allowing the rich a disproportionate role in setting national policies.
That is a monumental shift in political direction. Especially considering the billions of dollars the rich and wealthy have poured into trying to dominate the political process and public perceptions, such as by astro-turfing the so-called Tea Party.
Many people have wondered just who is behind the Occupy movement. If you don’t know, the idea of occupying Wall Street was first proposed by the Canadian culture-jammers, Adbusters. I have known about Adbusters for a few years now, because of their excellent work on revealing the darker sides of economic neo-liberalism, and our consumerist culture. (One of the best articles attacking neo-liberalism was Adbusters’ November 2007 take-down of leading economist Gregory Mankiw, Economic Indoctrination.)
Last night, David Graeber, one of the people who had been present at the first “planning” sessions inspired by Adbusters’ call to action, posted his recollections of the (for him) hectic events of the past two months. Graeber identifies himself as a “small ‘a’ anarchist” but his insights into the social forces at work in USA at this point in history are well worth reading. In particular, I believe Graeber correctly identifies one of the key characteristics of the Occupy movement and what drives it:
Veblen includes a lot of interesting theories for why the North-Sea troublemakers got the way they did but one of his more fascinating (for me) explains a lot—they went to sea. While sailors have often been a notoriously superstitious lot, there is probably nothing that so dramatically reinforces the notions of cause-and-effect as sailing. This is an activity where if you hold some bogus notion as to how the world works, you will almost certainly die of your error. The sea is very unforgiving and it is easy to lose your way when out of sight of land.
North Sea sailors from England and Holland would not only spend a lot of energy advancing the boatbuilding arts, they would also fund a great deal of basic scientific research into navigation and celestial observation, cartography, time-keeping, meteorology, metallurgy, and anything else that helped you cross large bodies of water and return safely.
On Wednesday, archeologists announced they had found a spectacular new gravesite in Scotland of one of those early North-Sea trouble-makers. The 16ft-long grave on the west coast's Ardnamurchan peninsula contained the remains of the high-status Viking, laid to rest inside his boat and buried with an axe, a sword and a spear. He was surrounded by valuable artefacts including a knife, a whetstone from Norway, a ring-pin from Ireland as well as Viking pottery.
And as a reminder that advanced metallurgy is an integral part of going to sea, we here see the contribution Sandvik is making to the preservation of that most popular touchstone of Nordic seafaring—the warship Vasa in Stockholm.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Anyway, if truth and honesty and prescience were actually rewarded in this society, Bill Black would be a very, very rich man. He has bravely, repeatedly, and consistently given the public the details of the "crimonegenic" septic pit our banking and financial systems have become the past 30 years. Put Bill Black in charge, and all the big cheeses on Wall Street will finally be treated as what they really are, sociopathic criminals and financial terrorists.
Two years ago this month, Black posted How the Servant Became a Predator: Finance’s Five Fatal Flaws, describing how the financial system actually loots the real economy, instead of serving its ostensible role of allocating credit and capital to individuals and firms most likely to create new wealth producing enterprises. While Wall Street trades some six trillion dollars a day in stocks, bonds, futures, and derivatives, entrepreneurs with new ideas for clean energy and other thins we really need are begging for mere millions. Millions of dollars are mere table scraps compared to the cyclone of daily trading of trillions of dollars.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Enjoy this moment, folks, because the fun will soon end and the slogging "that tries men's souls," to quote Tom Paine, will begin. Valley Forge is straight ahead. Your enemies will reorganize, the rest of the world will grow tired of your cause if tangible progress is not made, and soon you will need to hammer out an agenda—a process that will reveal how truly annoying your new best friends really are.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
|This young woman is amazing. |
She understands that some arguments really are too complex for a protest sign
but damn, if she isn't going to try anyway. Best sign EVAH!
Bank of Canada Head Calls Occupy Protests 'Entirely Constructive'
By scarce October 16, 2011 03:14 PM
If it sounds unusual to hear the head of a country's central bank speak so positively about the protests going on around the world now it's probably because it is. Mark Carney though is one of more reform-minded of the central bankers (somewhat equivalent to the role Ben Bernanke plays as the head of the Federal Reserve). Carney was notably the target of a profanity-laced tirade by Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan Chase) last month at a meeting of world bankers and officials. Dimon said the new rules discriminated against American banks and called the new capitalization rules "anti-American".
Mark Carney - a former Goldman Sachs Co. investment banker himself – is being pushed by Canada to head the G20's Financial Stability Board, a position that would put him even more at odds with people like the "business-as-usual, now-move-along" Jamie Dimons of this world who'd just as soon keep the casino open forever. moreOr how about something from the German Social Democrats who have been textbook examples of left-wing sellouts to the forces of neoliberalism.
Monday, October 17, 2011
So why do I mostly bitch about the evil banksters in this blog? Because those socially useful functions of banking represent only a TINY fraction of what passes for banking these days. By volume, over 98% of the monetary transactions have nothing, NOTHING, to do with the functioning of the real economy and are merely the operations of the bankster über-casino. So the whole idea of any reasonable society is to ensure that we encourage the formation of socially useful banks while severely restricting the destruction of the real economy, the obscene concentrations of wealth, and the other manifestations of casino banking.
And the problems of striking such a balance have been addressed before. Many times. And often quite successfully. So for the young people who are waking up to the serious nature of the problems caused by Wall Street and its imitators, rest assured that while there is very little need to invent anything new, it is a good idea to read up on the history of the struggle to control the banksters.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
And of course, it wasn't just my parents—it was everyone they knew. For example. My grandfather grew increasingly angry at the life of working harder than a slave for literally less than nothing. Life was brutally difficult in central Minnesota on a farm without electricity. Summers in the 1930 saw temperatures over 100° F. Winters were as cold as -40°F and dark. Kerosine and candles were expensive. The work was constant. The food was dreary as in oatmeal for weeks at a time. Once, in 1934, my grandfather decided to sell a calf for a little money. By the time the railroads and dealers took their cuts, he was left with 10 CENTS. After my mother escaped to Minneapolis to work as a domestic and my grandmother died of homesickness and despair (compounded by insanely bad medical care) my grandfather's rage fell on my poor uncle. To escape the rage, he signs up for the local National Guard unit because it got him off the farm and he got $1 for every meeting he attended.
Uncle's unit was folded into a troop-starved army in late 1941 so he was in the Pacific by early 1942. He survives the war having been promoted to Captain but is discharged with a thousand mile stare and a nasty drinking problem. He never does re-integrate into society and dies in a Salvation Army facility a man broken in countless ways. This is a guy who taught himself calculus because his father couldn't afford to send him to high school. What a freaking waste!
And yet, regular readers of this blog probably guess that I am more interested in the "Long Depression" of the 1870s. Just type 1873 in the "search this blog" gadget in the upper left corner of every page and you will see what I mean. (For example: We need real banking—not casinos, or Fighting inflation.) But briefly, the economic crises out here in the Internal Empire triggered by the return to the gold standard was long and cruel, and destroyed people's lives for generations. It also gave us the Greenback and People's Parties—who gave us the most interesting discussions on the subject of money ever written (which is pretty much why I got interested in these movements.)
Anyway, when economic literates start debating whether current conditions are more like the Great Depression or the Long Depression, the fact that there were protests in 951 cities worldwide yesterday should not come as a surprise.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
From bink, one of the notable bloggers on political economy at DailyKos:
It's easy to see villains everywhere -- banks, corporations, politicians -- because the villains aren't just people or institutions but an entire philosophy that came to pervade every aspect of public life in the West, whether it was business or government:Problem is, the conservatives are hysterically refusing to accept the reality that their theology of greed has failed to deliver the goods.
Let Democracy step aside and Markets will take care of the people.
Well it didn't work.
And everyone is pissed.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Citigroup CEO Vikram Bandit says: “I’d be happy to talk to [the Occupiers] any time they want to come up.”
Obviously Vikkie doesn’t get it. We’re protesting the whole system of pirate capitalism in which corporate raiders and financial engineers have enriched themselves by asset stripping and “restructuring” companies and enterprises in the real economy, destroying the livelihoods and lives of millions of people. There is nothing more, at this point, that any pirate or financier/usurer has to say that I am interested in hearing. They have had their run. For over three decades now. Nothing they can possibly say will reverse they damage they’ve done, or restore the wealth they’ve stolen. The very planet itself is dying as a result of their plundering and exploitation. It’s past time for them to stfu and exit the stage of world history. They can do so of their own accord. Or they can be forced. There really, really, are no other alternatives.
But geeze what a gamble. Once you start making a bunch of tough-guy threats, it is very, very dangerous to back down. You don't think the kids in the park are celebrating their victory this morning? And just remember, it doesn't take much to encourage a revolutionary because they are so used to losing, badly, all the time.
Of course, the bad guys are still in power making big piles of money throwing the rest of us into debt slavery. But I am encouraged to believe that they are beginning to understand that they really are on the wrong side of the 99%. So while the moneychangers have given us no reason to believe that they know the difference between construction and destruction (up and down), it seems they DO know how to count. This is actually quite astonishing.
And maybe they understand their massive crime spree is over and you can only buy bad cops and bad politicians for so long.
Who knows? Certainly not I. I'm the guy who stopped going to demonstrations in 1970, remember? But I have been looking at the question of what we want to do if we can ever replace our government of gamblers and criminals pretty seriously since then, and that is what I will continue to do. Only builders can offer a better future.
The situation at the site of the #OWS camp is reportedly tense as police gather to begin their assault.
So, tonight, October 13, 2011, one more time, Mayor Billionberg and USA elites are showing us just how outrageously corrupt they have made America. A corporation giving unlimited contributions towards political campaigns: according to these elites, that is "free speech," and they even have a Supreme Court ruling, the notorious Citizens United v. FEC, that explicitly says so. Corporations have free speech rights, and no one can interfere, no matter how obviously corrupt our political system is made by the billions of dollars of corporate campaign contributions, and secret funding of attack ads.
But, American citizens camping in a public space to make an explicitly political message? Oh, no, no, NO, that is NOT free speech. Not in the United States of America, home of the free and land of the brave, on October 13, 2011.
I feel only shame and disgust for this sorry spectacle of cruelly twisted definitions of freedom. Corporations have rights. People don’t. And I feel loathing and contempt for the conservatives and economists and MBAs and rentiers and speculators and usurers, who have brought the republic to this nadir, with their evil, anti-human "free market" theology.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
|The guillotine blade used to execute|
Regular readers understand why I capitalize Producer and Predator—it's a theme of this blog. And for a good reason. Unlike most descriptions about society, I believe this one describes and predicts more about human behavior than any other. In fact, I have spent a considerable fraction of my adult life attempting to describe the difference between these approaches to life. In Elegant Technology, I devote chapters to the history of the conflict between the Producers and Predators, a cultural inventory of distinguishing characteristics, and a class theory.
The reason I bring this up is because we have recently had a striking demonstration of how folks react to the differences between Producer and Predator capitalism. Briefly, Producer Capitalism is a strategy where the goal is to become prosperous by creating something very difficult, very well. Predator Capitalism is the strategy of seizing through force and fraud the prosperity created by Producers. Steve Jobs was an almost perfect example of Producer Capitalism. When he died recently, people spontaneously erected little shrines to him around the world. Wall Street, on the other hand, is the perfect representation of Predator Capitalism and the rest of us are so angry at them, some are actually mentioning the guillotine. Turns out folks don't hate capitalism so much as they hate liars, thieves, cheats, and vandals—you know, Predators.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The best part is that if you just dig a little, a progressive economic agenda is not all that hard to find. Michael Hudson below has been doing his homework! (Of course, do a little reading and anyone can nod sagely as if they had seen all this before.) He claims in the video that a public option in banking will be a structural answer to the power of finance. Ah yes, the best idea of the Non-Partisan League lives on.
Monday, October 10, 2011
But they don't seem to understand that they are up against ruthless sociopaths who have been dealing with minor inconveniences like OWS for a very long time. In fact, OWS hasn't even become the annoyance of an IMF riot. We can only hope the OWS crowd understands just how much suffering the banksters are willing to inflict on the nation's poor to keep their gravy train going.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
But it is is practically un-american. Besides Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Lincoln who had strong opinions on the nature of money (perhaps that is why their pictures are on the currency), this issue dominated political discussions for most of this nation's history and spawned several political parties including the Greenback and People's parties.
This memory loss relating to banking and monetary issues was not an accident. Not surprisingly, money played a big role in the left's turn from these issues to social ones.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Besides, I like my Mac and know enough about its workings so I can keep my friends' Macs running too. Because these things are so trouble-free, Mac upkeep is a lousy way to make a living. For example, last weekend, I helped a guy set up his new Mac Pro. This thing has 8 CPU cores, 32 gigs of Ram, a gig of vram, 4 terabytes of HDD PLUS an SDD boot drive. It runs a sophisticated version of UNIX called Lion. This is NOT a toy! Yet this monster was running smoothly in the hands of a mostly computer illiterate when I left—and I doubt if I'll be needed to help run this thing again for several years.
So my friend who manages an enormous catalogue of artwork for a card company now owns a computer with considerably more horsepower than the Defense Department had when I was in high school, and runs it himself without having to know anything about how computers actually work.
Thanks to Apple. And to Jobs who made it his mission to get this sort of computing power in the hands of people who don't understand computers and never will. He understood why people wanted in the computer-users club without needing to belong to the computer builders / fixers / programmers club.
Anyway, here is the long-lost video of Jobs introducing the Macintosh to the world. It's like a rock concert—only this time the audience is reacting to the new possibilities of a computer for non-nerds.
Friday, October 7, 2011
So the reality that protests almost never accomplish anything and often result in a lot of cracked skulls is on this occasion matched by an almost infinite supply of desperate and thoroughly fed-up people. One of the wonderful ideas of the OWS crowd has been to create a web site with pictures of folks describing their motivation for protesting called We Are The 99%. I have included a couple of samples but these things number in the 100s.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
(Jobs) once recalled for me some of the long summers of his youth. I’m a big believer in boredom,” he told me. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, he explained, and “out of curiosity comes everything.” The man who popularized personal computers and smartphones — machines that would draw our attention like a flame attracts gnats — worried about the future of boredom. “All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.”
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Actually I have. There is a strain of REAL conservatism in Austria. Just remember, Vienna was once, not so long ago, the capital of an empire. The Hapsburgs were authoritarian Catholics who ruled by the grace of God. Over the years, the emperors hired guys like Mozart and Beethoven to entertain them. The Austrian School of economics came from the thinking that kept this empire going.
Not surprisingly, the Austrian emperors feared the Marxists who finally won a revolution in Russia in 1917. With good reason. The Russian revolutionaries executed their emperor and a sizable chunk of his family. And the Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken up in the aftermath of WW I so there was no more emperor. But the institutions that had propped up the empire didn't just go out of business. The economists whose job it had been to justify the oversized and utterly useless Leisure Class of the emperor and his posse, still thought their mission in life was to suck up to wealth and power. And if the empire was no more, perhaps there were the North American new rich who needed the attention of someone who had learned sucking up in a country with old-fashioned royalty.
And so Friedrich Hayek came to the University of Chicago to spread his right-wing extremism. Hayek had written this ugly little tome called The Road to Serfdom that claimed that anything that remotely smacked of collectivism—even something as utterly practical as social medicine—was just the first step down the slippery slope to the Gulag. After WW II, he was hired by the notorious Charles Koch to bring his extreme ideas to bear on the battle to roll back Social Security.
I have never been impressed by toadies and so I have zero respect for the intellectual droolings of the Austrians. Mostly because they are so often just flat-out wrong about damn near everything. Mostly because they are SO wrong about the "slippery slope." It is quite possible to construct a social order where there is a balance between individual freedom and collective planning. All the really successful societies of the 20th century were such mixed economies. So while we watch the assumptions of Hayek-Chicago neoliberalism crash and burn these days, we are reminded that the Austrian individualist extremists caused as much damage with their nonsense as any collectivist extremists. Balance, folks.
Anyway, some documents concerning the relationship between Koch and Hayek have recently been found among Hayek's papers at the Hoover Institute. Turns out Hayek was quite willing to turn his intellectual "firepower" on Social Security but he certainly did NOT want to go without it personally.
Mark Ames takes it from here. More.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Those of us who sail are well-acquainted with the problems associated with relying on wind. The whole point is to extract the most energy out of the wind when it blows and do something else when it doesn't. Unlike most of the sailors of history, we folks who sail for fun these days almost always have a reliable (and fossil-fueled) back-up system to get us home when the fun is over and we must return to our lives. Multiply this situation by some orders of magnitude and you have the essential problem of powering a whole society with renewables. Yes it is possible—but it is a whole lot more of a hassle than just starting up an engine.
Here is what a sailor can tell you about depending on the wind.
- There is no set-and-forget with wind. When the wind changes the sails must change—even (especially) if that happens at 2:00 am. Wind power always requires more tending—good news if you want to create jobs but bad news if you think ongoing labor costs are evil (especially the high labor costs associated with those skilled enough to 'sail' a whole society).
- Too much wind is an even bigger problem than not enough—as anyone who has ridden out a frightening storm will tell you.
- Back-up power systems are essential if you want to run your ship on any sort of schedule. On land, this means essentially building two power systems with the back-up system being almost as large as the primary one.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
If nothing else is accomplished, this is enough. An even casual reading of history will show that the few revolutions that have ever succeeded did so because the middle class Producers have become enraged enough to become politically involved. Middle class revolutions succeed because when the revolutionaries are asked, "And just what makes you think you can run a country?" they have the perfect response, "We are already doing all the important things that keep our country running—we will be able to do that job better if we can free ourselves from paying so much extortion money to crooks."
At some point in time however, demonstrations of collective rage are not going to be enough. As John Lennon sang in Revolution, "We just want to see your plan!" Regular readers of this blog know we aren't afraid to outline an agenda—we think the solutions are really quite obvious once the the problems have been well defined. But for those who may have skipped a few posts because the title was so lame or other reasons, here are the basics of our agenda.
1) The MOST important demand is a SERIOUS crackdown on corruption and other dangerous forms of public dishonesty. The problems presented by Peak Oil and Climate Change (among others) are so difficult and complex, only the most honest and coordinated efforts can have any hope of meaningfully addressing them. We have become a nation of liars—this simply must change. Liars are industrial saboteurs.
2) Any banks that owe their existence to the taxpayer MUST submit to renewed government regulation—re-up Glass—Steagall, strict usury laws, the works. Those regulations served us well, while disasters have piled up since their repeal. It probably won't do much good to outlaw the money casinos, but gambling establishments shouldn't be allowed in any way to affect the course of democratic governments.
3) Nationalize the Federal Reserve. The guys who wrote the Constitution made it clear that the USA government must control the creation of money. They believed that if a democracy doesn't control this vital social function, it isn't a democracy at all. They were right. We cannot afford the current arrangment—it must be changed.
4) Restructure existing debts. There is simply no way the economy can regain its footing until the overwhelming majority of debt is written off—a global bankruptcy, a Jubilee, whatever you want to call it. The debt overhang must be eliminated. Because...
5) We must embark on a massive investment in how this country powers itself. We must stop burning oil because neither we nor the planet can afford it any longer. I believe that replacing the petroleum infrastructure will require an investment of at least $2 TRILLION per year for 50 years. $2 TRILLION is 40,000,000 jobs paying $50,000 a year (or 20,000,000 @ $100,000—you do the math). This investment is absolutely critical for our possible survival—There.Is.No.Alternative! And 40,000,000 middle-class jobs WILL restart the economy IF it leads to lower fuel consumption.
None of these ideas are new—some of them have been around for centuries. All of them bring prosperity. All of them can solve large and highly complex problems.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Here we have Hedges explaining why he takes the kids seriously. It is all so heroic and dramatic.