Sunday, April 26, 2015

Another open source song lyric

This one has been purposely left incomplete. I am hoping to see some real creativity in how others might bring it to completion.

Absurd, obscene and absolute
The more we absorb
the more we shoot.

Disdain, detach and destroy.
The more we abuse
and light every fuse
The more we enjoy.

There is certainly something
happening here.
What it is is only too clear.
That man with the gun
over there
no longer bothers
with any bewares.

Wage slave
where is your rage.
What does it take
to move you.
They take all of the gains,
as you act out from the pain,
and still they can endlessly entertain you.

Be ready to go to work, but fu_k you if we don't need you at the last minute

The following post was prompted by the Guernica article linked below.

This is another example of how the "Gold Mine" metaphor for Capitalism works. You know, the one where the rest of us end up with the shaft.

Now, if we can only get Paul Krugman to buy into the ultimate futility of any further attempts at reform, or regulation, maybe we can get on with starting over.

Robert Reich: How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell

The absurdity of anti trust regulation in the age of transactions at the speed of light

This post was prompted the by New Yorker article linked below.

Just one more reason why Capitalism has mutated beyond the limits of human control. With processing systems as the new "cut outs" no one human need ever again worry about having to take responsibility for the actual act of colluding.

Can algorithms form price-fixing cartels?

When Bots Collude

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Further posts may be few and far between

I have been in something of a quandary of late. The basis of this difficulty comes from the tension between two aspects of what it is to be an advocate of something; especially if you believe to the bone and marrow of your being and your soul that the thing being proposed is of up most importance.

Let me start by describing what I think are those two aspects.

The first is the idea expressed in the cliché “doing what it takes to get it done.” And around this cliché, of course, is a whole host of ancillary clichés: “If it's important enough you find a way.” Or “There is no trying, you either do or you do not.” The fact that these gross over simplifications of what can actually occur in “just get it done” hardly ever works to overcome the cultural norms they've become within the electro amplification of American Individualism.

The second aspect is the one that, in my limited experience, doesn't get talked about as much. This involves the idea of giving full consideration to the power, and the subsequent risk, of pushing any idea into general acceptance.

And just to be clear here, I don't meant to suggest that there aren't a good number of us who don't respect the power of ideas. What I think gets lost to a lot of folks, as they get caught up in the process of advocacy, is the difficulty in keeping a keen sense of the many ways in which the idea might actually be wrong. And that the risk in the passions that can be let loose, both for and against, from an idea has to be kept in mind precisely because an assumption, or a set of assumptions, were interpreted, or conceived, quite incorrectly.

This is, of course, why “doing whatever it takes” can be so dangerous. It is simply far too easy, especially when there can be the arrogance of certainty, to forget that maybe this contention shouldn't happen at all.

For this reason I have always held to the operating principle expressed in the beginning of the desiderata:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit...”

It is also part of the reason why I consider the “Hard Sell” (One of the essays in my pamphlet on Cosmolosophy) to be immoral.

It is within the tension stated at the beginning of this post that one has to walk very carefully. And I would be the first to admit that I don't always succeed. I do strive for the ideal and, however inept or unsuccessful that striving is, I guess it will have to be enough.

Be that as it may, even as I consider the possibility of being wrong, I still continuously ask myself if I have done enough to clearly articulate, and support, with reasoned argument, my contention that not only is Capitalism obsolete, but that there is a quite specific alternative that we could put into place if we can all get on the same page of the what, and then work together to make it happen. I have also tried to articulate a new philosophical foundation to go along with this alternative.

I should also point out that I have had the general idea for this type of change for nearly thirty years, and have been advocating it openly for fifteen years. I got into data processing, programming, and systems analysis only as an offshoot of my studying Marshall McLuhan, and from him, a host of others looking at the big picture of information, economics, complex systems, culture and social organization. It provided me a means to keep a roof over my head, and food on the table, as I pursued my one and only, real, passion.

In that time I have always found a new thing that I could do to extend the effort. Web sites. Speaking to anyone who would listen. As well as writing to every publication, or commenting on every article I felt might be appropriate. This has ended up with the Google blog sites that I now post to.

As I have been doing that posting, usually as an offshoot of an article written by someone more well known than I, the curiously circular nature of the process has become depressingly clear. You get views and, hopefully, an increasing chance of more followers only as you write more posts. Writing more posts, however, simply as output to keep my numbers up is not why I write in the first place at all. And herein is a point that I really need to emphasize.

My purpose here is not in any way directed towards the ultimate goal of becoming a paid writer in any capacity for any particular publication. I am retired now, living off of my SSI payment. I not only have no wish for a new writing career, I also do not want to become a professional “commentator” who trades time between paid speaking engagements and guest spots on whatever show or podcast. I also do not want to become so popular that I can then attract advertising of any sort.

What I have been hoping for is planting a multitude of seeds. Seeds that grow into various groups of people talking amongst themselves not only about Capitalism being obsolete, but of what might be a good alternative to replace it. My alternative has always been meant as a starting point for the discussion. A place to begin consideration of what to include and what not to include. And from that how we might go about getting it done.

In the face of all of that I have to consider the following set of possibilities, ranked in the order of descending probability:

  1. I have failed to articulate the ideas in any way nearly accurately, or meaningfully, enough to get them into general public discourse. Something for which I am quite ready to take responsibility for.
  2. I have successfully articulated the ideas, but they have been found to be either quite lacking in sufficient reasoned argument to support them, or that they have simply been found to be wrong in most, if not all, of their conclusions.
  3. I have successfully articulated the ideas, and they may well be correct, but the public in general is either unable, or unwilling, for whatever reasons, to accept and act upon them.
  4. Some combination of some or all of the above.
The bottom line here is that you may, or you may not, see any more postings from me. If what I have already written has not moved you to do something about what is, in my view, inevitably going to happen, there is probably only a marginal chance that anything more will make a difference.

Having said that, however, does not mean I have given up. If the feeling, and the angle for something to say comes to me you can be sure it will get written. And if any of you come to be moved to ask questions, or seek out further dialogue, I would be most pleased to respond.

What I have been doing has always been based on the, perhaps naive, idea that the process is a two way street. I make clear what I think needs to happen and then you act upon it. You either make it clear why it is wrong, or you start taking steps to do whatever you can to make it a part of public discourse. If you do not then you are either content with the way things are, abysmally ignorant of the way they are, or in self destructive denial. The point I am making is for you to simply choose, and be quite clear on the choice you have made.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Comments on the “Eden Plague” by David Van Dyke

I am only into the third in this series of books but I thought it time to both recommend them, as well as use their theme as a way to give a wider audience to the fundamental question underlying their theme.

These are good reads and I do recommend them. They are a decent balance between an engaging story, reasonably believable characters, and a truly interesting sub text; which is, of course, by main point of focus here.

In a nutshell, the idea presented is this: Extraterrestrials created a virus that would dumb us down into overly aggressive, and selfishly oriented, individuals, with the intent being to keep us tribal, disorganized, and generally at each other's throats as a matter of course. As I understand it so far, their purpose is to be able to have war like cannon fodder they can easily manipulate. Another virus, however, comes along from a source that isn't clear yet. Some Russian scientist is given the means to create it, as a retrofit of the dumbing down virus, by extra normal communication. He is a secret Jew forced to work for their bio weapons program but he maintains the core morality to create the virus without telling his masters; for he can see how they would react to it. The only problem is that not only does he not quite get it right, but the fall of the old Soviet Empire results in his work getting shut down with the rest of many secret bio programs, and forgotten.

In the aftermath of the Soviet fall, with facilities looted, and the various death agents coldly sold for profit, chance intervenes when certain canisters containing a still viable store of the pure virus are found by an equally cold CIA operative. An operative who see's not only great monetary gain from what it can do, but as a means to leverage power far beyond what money alone would provide.

Which brings us to the core of the matter here. What this new variation of the dumbing down virus can do. Quite simply it is two things: 1. It provides an absolutely comprehensive healing mechanism throughout the body; one that allows for the curing of all ailments and diseases, as well as prolonging life to many centuries at the very least. 2. It also creates what the books refer to as the “virtue effect.” An effect related to putting all of the brain circuitry back into perfect working order. And the upshot there is that this effect makes those who carry the virus altruistic to a fault. So much so that even the thought of doing harm, or taking advantage of others, makes the carrier quite ill.

The question the books then pose is this: would the powers that be see such a boon to human health, not to mention social cohesion, as a positive thing, or a very threatening thing, and the answer, as you might expect, is the latter.

It is such a resounding recourse to the latter, in fact, that a possible criticism one might have for the series comes up. One could argue that it goes a bit overboard on how broadly spread the greed and power aspect would be throughout government at the highest levels. It is certainly a debatable point, given the degree to which greed and power has taken hold of American governance now. I would hope, however, that an immediate reaction that would cause a President to nuke Los Angeles, or destroy a cruise ship, simply because all the people therein were infected, would be resisted to a considerably greater degree than what the books suggest would happen.

That being said, though, still does not change the bottom line in the contention that significant numbers of powerful people would not want to have the current economic arrangement taken away from them to the degree that such a development would allow. And you needn't think too long, or deeply, to see even the half of it.

The health care and pharmaceutical industries alone are a big percentage of our GDP now and, as such, significant profit centers. Forgetting for the moment that jobs are also involved here (because they certainly are), if you took those profits away you'd be taking a tremendous bite out what gives Big Money its ability to have its way with how the “inequality of outcomes” works. But that's just the beginning.

There are two other aspects to keep in mind here. First is the mere fact of what having control over near immortality would provide. Do you think the elites would let the common folk have unfettered access to that? And the second aspect would be the new found difficulty in not only corrupting folks in the first place, but to be able to have minions do the harsh leg work of enforcing the will of the selfish at all.

It does not paint a very pretty picture of an economic mind set that would prefer institutionalized suffering as opposed to change that would, quite certainly, be difficult to say the least. But that admission also allows me to get back to the question of “jobs” that I set aside a couple of paragraphs before. It is here that one of the most disquieting aspects of Capitalism comes to light.

Because it was originally based on the idea that, since skill sets were not easily transferred, and that production not easily moved across large distances, specialization in labor, as well as regional specialization in the kinds of things produced, made good sense. In league with these factors was the fact that the increase in basic knowledge that would allow for wholly new ways of doing things would also not happen that frequently. Change happened, but it took time. Time that could help a great deal in smoothing out the dislocations inherent with it.

Now that not only has the base of our knowledge grown so spectacularly, but that we have virtually all technique instantly transferable, most skills quickly retrievable, and capital able to go where ever it wants to at the speed of light, all of the above paragraph is no longer valid. Everything happens at ever increasing rates. New developments. New ways to do things. And certainly the machine tools, the robotic arms, and coded processes that scores of secretaries, clerks, draftsmen, and book keepers, used to do, don't care one wit about being reprogrammed for. Reprogramming people, on the other hand, is a great deal more problematic.

The interesting thing in this is that the one percent and less of us don't care nearly as much if a new way to do things puts people out of jobs if it also comes with a new profit center to replace what those jobs revolved around. For them this gets characterized as the unavoidable consequence of “innovation.” Propose a change, however, that takes away both jobs and their profits and you have what is characterized as “economic chaos.”

As a systems analyst I often find myself asking the more fundamental questions. A lot of times in the course of creating new, or reconfiguring existing, data processing systems, you are confronted with a moment where you have to do what I always used to call “doing a reality check.” This would entail confronting an aspect of what was required in the new, or existing, system that presented contradictory trade offs. A new system, for instance, might be feasible (in terms of the ability to engineer) but it would take years longer than was practical (often to the point where things would already have changed to the point of demanding new design requirements). Or the change in the existing system would require ten times or more of the effort (both in original programming, as well as the subsequent debugging) that a new system would require.

When this occurred I would say to management that we have to reassess all of our fundamental assumptions. Either we need to look in a completely new way at the system we wish to automate, and thus come up with a wholly new paradigm for the design requirements, or the automation we already have is so fundamentally out of whack with the operating environment now in effect, we need to start over in evaluating what the new environment does, and how it does it, so that completely new requirements can be created, and for which an appropriate design to address them can then be put together as well.

This is, in a nutshell, what we face now with an electrified information environment. Jobs now cannot be tied to livelihoods not only because human skill as a commodity makes no sense any more, but also because what need produced, and how we produce it, needs to be both infinitely more flexible, as well as infinitely more integrated into society as a whole as to the making of those decisions. Marketized commodities can't do it. The collateral damage of the hyper consumption such an approach entails ought to have made that more than abundantly clear by now. Each and everyone of us, at the level of some kind of “City State,” needs to be directly involved in both the management, and the maintenance of production; sharing the output of basics so that each individual can then choose to make their own end use items. I just don't see any other way to do it.

We may not have now a medical advancement so momentus as an “Eden Plague” virus at hand, but we do have developments that match it in importance. So many natural, and social, systems are nearing their breaking point precisely because of the “contradictory tradeoffs” now required with either doing nothing, or making changes in a fundamentally invalid economic operating system. An unanswered “Reality Check” has been hovering over us for quite some time now and we ignore it at the peril of our species surviving at all much longer.

The Eden Plague - Book 0 (Plague Wars)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Entitled people spewing crap about entitlements

The following post was prompted by the article linked below.

It just amazes me how a targeted withholding ordinary working folks pay into for an ongoing, after work, support system, can be called an entitlement program; especially by folks who have made an art form of proliferating corporate entitlements. The very people who wouldn't pay for any of the wars they waged, and who's subsequent deficits sucked the SSI surplus dry. This is hypocrisy on an order of magnitude you have to wonder how the words they utter don't turn ash the moment they try to bring them forth.

And don't even try to give me this trash that the Democrats are the saviors of all things concerning social justice. They are certainly good at providing lip service to such things, but unbelievably inept at delivering the goods. Either you believe that most of them have noodles for spines, as well as being incompetent, or that they play the part of the good cop, to the Republicans bad cop, as they suck from the same Big Money nipple as everybody else.

The real problem here is that we continue with a system that allows for Big Money to exist in the first place. An operating system that has gone past its use by date a long time ago.

Chris Christie Sells 'Hard Truths' on Social Security Reform

Monday, April 13, 2015

Another result of supply side economics

The following post was prompted the the Quartz article linked below.

Give the people with money free markets, little regulation, and even less taxation, so the argument went, and you will see prosperity as you have never seen it before.

What is not surprising here is that there has been unprecedented prosperity for the top one percent. What is surprising is that a lot of economists don't seem to know what to do about it.

Huge gluts of cash and nowhere for it to earn safe returns because interest rates are, in some cases, down to even negative numbers low.

And yet, our country has infrastructure that is deteriorating to third world status. Our schools prosper only where the upper classes live. And what is left of the middle class, whose former purchasing power, worked a productive juggernaut of things people actually had money to purchase.

One part of the problem is, as Kevin Phillips indicated in "American Theocracy," that the emphasis of Big Money turned from entrepreneurs and risk taking, to one of "Financialization," and the avoidance of risk where ever possible.
The other part of the problem has not only been the greed inherent in wanting the benefits of government when it suited you, while not paying your fair share of keeping it going, but also the very fact of a continuing foreign policy that has always placed getting at supply sources, as well as unregulated markets, a priority well beyond any human suffering that might cause.

The various degrees of colonialism that this created, as well as the ever more desperate search for supply sources, has made for a world environment hardly conducive to the stability Big Money so often harps about in order for there to be incentives to investment at all. Which is nothing more than to say that they have been on the road of poisoning their own wells for a long time now.

And here they are now. The poor dears. So much money and so little they feel good about in doing anything with beyond keeping themselves comfortable, and sufficiently disconnected from the harsher aspects of their collateral damage. How can we not but feel pity for them.

Perhaps its time for an intervention. Tough love and all. You might want to give it some serious thought.

The global economy’s bizarre problem: Too much money

Twenty Three Billion in profits and yet no income taxes paid

15 Companies That Paid Zero Income Tax Last Year (Despite $23 Billion In Profits)

Paul Krugman's defense of Democratics

The following post was prompted by the Salon article linked below.

It pains me deeply when intelligent people like Mr. Krugman try to go to such lengths to proclaim that the difference between the Republicans and the Dems is still significant enough to keep this two party farce going.

The fact of the matter is that, on most of the economic issues supposedly in contention, the Dems give a great deal of lip service to social justice, but come through on very little of it.

Obviously a large part of that has to do with the insane opposition the Republicans muster from the willful ignorance factory they call ultra conservatives. But it is also because the Democrats are just as dependent on Big Money as any body else in politics today. If this weren't so there would have been consequences for the bankers after the big recession, not to mention resolute support for labor organization efforts across the country. Even the Affordable Care Act, laudable in the fact that it does do more than nothing to provide affordable care, did not hold the feet of much of any of the health industry fat cats to the fire of meaningful limits on profiteering.

Capitalism, and its inherent need to limit the free flow of information (because money is information), is anathema to a well informed public. You simply cannot have unfettered profits if the general public always knows what's really going on.

Let us also not forget, however, that it is the electrification of Capitalism that has really changed the calculus of how capital can be accumulated, and the degree to which it can be applied to affect whatever a singular interest might desire.

Instantaneous transfer, as well as an equally quick ability to be translated into whatever type of effect, goal, or material manifestation, provides an orders of magnitude more leverage than what was possible a hundred or more years ago. As such Capitalism has become a completely new ballgame. One that the mechanisms that still try to manage it are no longer anywhere near capable of continuing that management task.

You are an intelligent man Mr. Krugman. Someone for whom I have a great deal of respect for. I can only hope that you can start looking at the bigger technological picture here and see that this operating system is no more viable now than Windows for Dos would be for today's networked, processing, environment. It's time to start over sir and the sooner we all realize that the better off we will all be.
Paul Krugman: Whether Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, the difference between Democrats and GOP is stark

Paul Krugman: Whether Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, the difference between Democrats and GOP is stark

But hey, at least they can still claim the jobless rate has gone down.

Shame indeed. This is the way to pretend that the dispossessed are a working part of the American dream, even as the dream machine itself gets ever more refined in selling us on the various fantasies that keep the machine going in the first place. And the only bottom line that will matter in all of this is that the proportion of Americans who get closer to the poverty line will increase faster than the proportion that gets closer to the top one percent.
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 23:  A man stands inside a McDonald's fast food restaurant on August 23, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The fast food industry has been roiled by a growing movement to unionize workers and a call for a living wage of $15 an hour. Labor organizers are calling for fast-food workers across the country to stage a day of strikes on August 29 in what is expected to be the largest event in the ongoing campaign.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

75% of Working Poor on Welfare

Saturday, April 11, 2015

More open source songs

Some of you may have seen these already but I thought I might add them to the list of songs that everybody can make a stab at doing better.

As with the other open source lyrics the idea here is to allow one and all a chance to put their own stamp on how they think the lyrics should be expressed. I am hoping for a lot of interesting variations.

Here is the link list:

The Three Leaps of Life.mp3

The Three Leaps of Life.wav

Mickie's Man.wma

Old Mans Lament.mp3

Old Mans Lament2.mp3

Buyers Remorse.mp3

The Devil With Details.mp3


The Bull And The Shit.mp3


Can You Lend an Invisible Hand.mp3

You Think.mp3


The Struggle.mp3

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sand as a geopolitical tool

The shifting complexities of sand continues to amaze me.

Piling Sand in a Disputed Sea, China Literally Gains Ground

Pressurized steam electrolysis and sewage treatment. New possibilities?

Update Note:
I had a big brain fart. Don't know why i put hydrolysis in place of electrolysis but I did. Sorry about that.

I have been pondering the implications of what might be possible if the steam pressured approach to electrolysis I suggested in an earlier post was feasible. And the one other benefit that sprang to the fore was in the treatment of sewage.

If you will recall, the idea was to create a sandwich of photo resist, etched material. Material that could both conduct electricity, but also have holes small enough to prevent highly energize water molecules from passing through. From this material you could then make a pressure chamber that had electrode walls, or mesh frameworks running parallel to the walls, that would allow the channeling of oxygen and hydrogen through their respective electrodes.

As I have always envisioned using Yen Tornado Turbines at sea to turn sea water into hydrogen, it was just axiomatic that the water would have to first be boiled so as to rid it of the salt. This new electrolysis approach would make even more use of that necessity.

In that vein, however, you have to wonder whether heating sewage waste water in a similar fashion might allow for another two-fer; as in two benefits for the cost of treating the sewage in the first place. Heating it would certainly kill the bad biota, perhaps allowing the solid matter to be applied directly to the new streams of yard waste mulch that we in the Puget Sound region are certainly taking advantage of. And from that heating we could also break the water down so that discharge of any degree of sill unhealthy could be eliminated completely; with the side benefit of reclaiming some of the energy used to do the processing in the first place.

There are still a lot of “ifs” involved in the electrolysis proposal, but it certainly looks like something municipalities all across the nation should be looking into.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Poison for profit

What the frack should we have against fracking? It's just such a gas for one and all. Of course a few will rise on the shafting while the rest of us will fall, but what the hell. Put the peddle to the metal and lets get cracking!

Image: Gas well
Rising Levels of Toxic Gas Found in Homes Near Fracking Sites

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Another set of no comments necessary links

“It’ll just crush the diversity of voices in this country”: Why the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger threatens democracy

The gap between rich and poor schools grew 44 percent over a decade.

Money almost always trumps all other criteria when it comes to issue of critical allocation

The following post was prompted by the Salon article linked below.

Water, like sand, has become a civilization corner stone that is slipping through our careless hands faster than we can keep track of any more. Which, unfortunately, makes it a commodity ripe for egregious profiteering.

As with prioritizing in general, when Big Money sees a chance to continue legal egregious profiteering they jump on it, and California's water crisis is a great example. And because they also benefit from the new electric amplification that money allows for in how information saturation gets selectively, and consistently, applied, they can control how any situation is framed to the public. From that framing there then comes the questions that only they have the answers for. Even for a supposedly Liberal, Democratic governor.

Pretty slick don't you think? Especially when most of us hardly think twice about buying bottled water. Sold in plastic bottles no less because goodness knows the earth doesn't have nearly enough of those laying about.


Nestlé’s despicable water-crisis profiteering: How it’s making a killing — while California is dying of thirst

Monday, April 6, 2015

No comment necessary here

<p>Naval hero, fraudster, builder of capitalism?</p>
 Photographer: Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons
How Criminals Built Capitalism

Our legacy of unlimited resource exploitation

The following post was prompted by the Salon article linked below.

Shame is what mostly comes to my mind when I am reminded yet again of what is done in our name. Done not only for the greed of a few, but for our desire to stay distracted by an electric dream machine that devours everything in its path in terms of bad energy, and a host of other resources. Then you add in what is done to what has become of our mental life by the hyper marketing of that machine and you really have to wonder. Are homo sapiens a naturally insane species, or has it just been driven off that cliff by both the dealer and the addict?

And lest you forget, we are in a state of perpetual war now in significant measure precisely so as to be able to exploit other people's resources. A practice steeped in history to be sure, but one we've honed to a new art form, and for which others now long to emulate; a self perpetuating cycle of perpetual war. What a legacy.


Big Oil's sleazy Africa secrets: How American companies and super-rich exploit natural resources
Big Oil’s sleazy Africa secrets: How American companies and super-rich exploit natural resources

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A proper analysis of what's wrong, as well as a start at articulating a reasonable alternative, might help a lot.

The following post was prompted by the Salon article linked below.

In my view there are 4 reasons for this:

1. The diversion of entertainment.
2. The diversion of toys and the activities surrounding them.
3. The diversion of continuous threat; either as external agents or internal occurrence, natural or systematic.
4. The lack of anyone proposing a consistent analysis of the fundamental problem, as well as what an alternative might be.

The first three here are not only self explanatory, they've already been mentioned, at least in part, in these comments.

The last issue, however, has, in my opinion, only been addressed recently. It is also why I have been commenting at all these last few years as I, self serving though it may be, am the one who has changed this situation.

You certainly have the right now to consider that I am full of sh_t, but before you close the door completely on that conclusion you ought to at least do a little due diligence and make sure there isn't anything to this claim. With what's at stake I would think a little effort on everyone's part to look where ever they can is not asking very much at all.


How the 1 percent always wins: "We live in a faux democracy, which is why everyone's so cynical and nobody votes"

Friday, April 3, 2015

Does everybody really love money?

The following post was prompted by the “Real Time” segment from HBO and linked through YouTube:

Let me say from the outset here that I have enjoyed Bill Maher's work, both as a stand up comedienne, as well as a social commentator. And what he has done with “Real Time” over the years has always been interesting and thought provoking, even if you don't agree with his personal opinions. Which is, of course, where I segue into another aspect of what he espouses that I must take issue with.

On the March 3, 2105 installment of “Real Time,” in the opening comments of introducing John Ridley he makes a statement on money that is quite hard to take from someone like myself who abhors the system that depends on it. I'm getting ahead of myself, though, so let step back and provide some context.

John Ridley is, as most of you already know, the Oscar winning screen writer of the movie “Twelve Years a Slave,” and who now is screen writing, and directing “American Crime” for ABC; a series that, as Mr. Maher emphasizes, tries to look deeper into, and humanize, the greater complexities of why crime happens in America. In particular, though Mr. Ridley makes a very good reference to how poverty reinforces the self perpetuating cycle of how crime and imprisonment act together to make it very difficult for a person to work their way out of it, the discussion quickly focuses on the town of Ferguson and how a nearly all white police force used petty infraction harassment of blacks as an income generator.

What is interesting to me in these sorts of discussions with well intentioned Liberals (and the one moderate sounding Republican from the Heritage foundation) is how they can claim moral high ground in denouncing these kinds of overt racism without also denouncing the fundamental aspects of the power structure that makes it possible. And here even Mr. Maher intimates at one aspect of what makes that system so contradictory: that nobody wants to pay taxes anymore, even, one would assume, as they all want every benefit government can provide them.

It gets even more interesting when you Google Mr. Maher's view on paying taxes. As this article in “Real Clear Politics” indicated:

To the list of liberals who vote for higher taxes -- and then proceed to complain about them -- add comedian Bill Maher.
Incredibly, the caustic, left-wing Maher recently warned, "ln California, I just want to say: Liberals -- you could actually lose me." As a resident of California, a state with high income taxes, Maher complained that his taxes are "over 50 percent." What's more, Maher made a point seldom heard except on Fox News or by a rich Parisian. Maher said, "Rich people ... actually do pay the freight in this country ... like 70 percent" of the taxes. (Presumably, Maher meant that the top 10 percent of taxpayers pay about 70.5 percent of the federal income taxes.)...”
This from the guy who said not that long ago:
...Maher, just two years ago, painted this picture of the filthy, clueless, racist, sexist, homophobic, selfish, greedy rich:
'America's rich aren't giving you money. They are taking your money. Between the years 1980 and 2005, 80 percent of all new income generated in this country went to the richest 1 percent. Let me put that in terms that even you fat-ass tea-baggers, sorry, can understand. Say 100 Americans get together and order a 100-slice pizza. The pizza arrives, they open the box, and the first guy takes 80 slices. And if someone suggests, 'Why don't you just take 79 slices?' -- that's socialism! ...
'We have this fantasy that our interests and the interests of the super-rich are the same, like somehow the rich will eventually get so full that they'll explode, and the candy will rain down on the rest of us, like they're some kind of pinata of benevolence. But here's the thing about a pinata -- it doesn't open on its own; you have to beat it with a stick.' ...”

Yes, beat it open with a stick, assuming you can afford one big enough. Also assuming you haven't become a, even small time, pinata yourself.

I need to circle back now and state the original comment that Mr. Maher made at the beginning of his talk with Mr. Ridley. This statement was made as a (admittedly what might have been a semi attempt of off the cuff humor) response to Mr. Ridley explaining why he had no problem with ABC making money off of his show if it allowed people of color a chance to be portrayed properly in front of the camera, as well as to contribute significantly behind the camera.

In response, at about the 1.41 mark in the YouTube video, Mr. Maher says “We all love money. We're Americans and there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with loving money...”

And to be clear, Mr Ridley interposes the disclaimer “...Unless it is a police department making money...” To which Mr. Maher replies “..We're going to get to that...”

However off the cuff that remark may have been you still have to wonder about it. Do Americans really love money? One could certainly assume they love to be able to provide for themselves and their children. To be reasonably secure in house and health, while perusing both practical and free time endeavors. Knowing, at least on some level, that real contentment comes from the best balance of getting and having, with the least amount of material things one can manage.

If you think of money as a drug however, which is not so unreasonable, isn't it also reasonable to assume that it is mostly the addicted who come to love it? To crave ever more of it? After all, isn't it only after you have had a chance to main line on its true power that you really get the materialistic monkey on your back?

More importantly, however, is the fact that, for the 0.1 percent of Americans who own virtually everything, and who's power is based almost completely on the leverage that this electrified experience translator provides, get to have things their way; whether that means a generalized continuance with racism (the dispossessed are not only great for war machine cannon fodder, but they make for a lovely scapegoat at home to keep the mainly, to moderately dispossessed, in line), a perpetual war economy, or whatever kind of poisoning for profit you want to shake a fracking stick at, hardly matters. They will buy the government they want, with the laws passed to suit them, and an ever more authoritarian policing apparatus to keep what they value safe.

The only stick that's going to stop money pinatas from forming in the first place is to recognize that the present economic model is no longer valid, and has not been for quite some time. It was never intended, after all, for an electrified environment of skill retrieval, where human skill no longer works very well at all as a commodity.

Capitalism is obsolete. It is time for an alternative and pseudo liberals like Mr Maher ought to be thinking long and hard on addressing the addiction they share with Republicans on that score. It simply cannot be maintained.


This link from Salon would seem to indicate that once you do get a very large sum of money your view of it, and the desire to keep it changes quite significantly. For my part this would also seem to indicate that money is a drug to be avoided.
The GOP's lottery-ticket philosophy: How extreme wealth is deranging American politics