To fight budget deficits State’s should sell “Assets”

•August 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

MY THOUGHTS:

Well it looks as though Henry has let the cat out of the bag as to the intentions of a few globalists and their cronies as to why this economic armaggedon was needed. I believe this is what many crooks within the State governments will attempt to do, sell off assetts or “less government” as the cry is by many in the Tea Party and Libertarian camps. I do not disagree with their cries for less government; however, we must specify what parts of government we wish to have “less of.” The sellinf off of “Assets like roads, bridges, state parks, public transportation systems, and universities,” by the sovereign states that comprise the United States of America would only hasten our descent and magnify our dependence upon the global economy. I bet, if the truth be known, this well-orchestrated plan and the propoganda Henry is spewing, is the means to the end, AGENDA 21.  The neo-liberal agenda of privatizing key insfrastructure is the premier tool used to destroy a country from within.  Just look at any of the countless neo-liberal privatization policies that have hindered the true national economic growth of a growing number of countries located in the Southern Hemisphere via loans and their conditions issued by the World Bank and IMF.  Welcome to the war Awakened-Americans, the war that has been going on all over the world for decades.  This war knows no borders or rules for that matter.  IN this corporatocracy the ends surely justify the means and as David Rockefeller stated in an interview with Benjamin Fulford in 2007, ” The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.” 

If the state governments sell it to the bankrupt federal government, the creditors of the federal government could have easy pickings in place of interest payments on the debts owed, or even more plausible is the possiblility of private individuals via their multinational corporations coming in and plucking up the desirable infrastructure, getting it at a fraction of the cost it would have cost them 3 short years ago. Isn’t deflation grand?! The crooks profit at the expense of others both on the way up and on the way down!

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Article referenced:

Broke States Should Save Themselves By Selling Off Roads, Colleges, And Other Assets, Says Altucher

Posted Aug 19, 2010 12:08pm EDT by Henry Blodget in Investing, Recession, Politics

One of the many looming financial crises in the United States is the horrendous budget shortfall faced by many states.

James Altucher, managing director at Formula Capital, floats an innovative solution to this problem.

Instead of raising taxes, cutting spending, or going even deeper in debt, Altucher says, states should sell off some assets.

What assets?

Assets like roads, bridges, state parks, public transportation systems, and universities.

If New Jersey were to sell the New Jersey Turnpike, for example, it would immediately raise tens of billions of dollars, which would radically improve the state’s financial health. And a private road operator might do a better job of running the turnpike than the state can.

Is that a crazy, wacko, radical idea?

In the case of roads, transportation, and other infrastructure, no. There’s actually plenty of precedent for it. And there’s no reason other than convention why city bus and subways systems are publicly run and interstate systems, including airlines, are private.

In the case of universities and state parks? Well, there, the idea is a lot more radical.

http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/broke-states-should-save-themselves-by-selling-off-roads-colleges-and-other-assets-says-altucher-535345.html?tickers=stra,apol,%5Egspsc,%5Edji,spy&sec=topStories&pos=9&asset=&ccode=

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Got a Sociological Imagination?

•June 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Alice had to fall down a rabbit hole before she could see it. Neo had to be unplugged from the “matrix” before he could truly understand it; and, before Toto found himself in the position to pull back the infamous curtain, a tornado was needed to whisk Dorothy from it. Realities abound; thanks, in large part to human consciousness, which just so happens to separate us, from every other animal on the planet. Sorry, Toto. The human mind allows for a kaleidoscope of interpretations, analyses, and recountings of life-experiences, shared (culture, media, family, religion, state) or otherwise(individual). Along with this massive spectrum of possibilities comes the task to discern the “why” or the “how” of a situation and yourself, in relation, to the social environment you happen to be in at that specific time. In trying to make sense of these interactions between competing actors and socially constructed factors the discipline of sociology earns its place of importance in human society.

One does not have to go to school and major in sociology to “learn” how to understand one’s self and the world one lives in. I believe the sociological imagination is inherent among all human beings. Schooling does, however, provide the means to develop and hone one’s sociological imagination. Everyone has had that moment in their life when something did not add up and for a moment questioned something: a rule, a law, an official story, and so on and so on. In the most basic of senses this “questioning of something” is the foundation that the discipline of sociology has been built upon.

I believe an individual with a sharp sociological imagination asks the question, “why?” and is always considering latent functions of his/her findings while still trying to separate their biases from their research. I believe asking “why” is fundamental and essential for any society to grow. A good sociologist should become more politically or socially active just like Marx suggested when using the term praxis. However, I believe they should show restraint and thoroughly research the issues they are “for” or “against” before they socially act. I also think that an individual using his/her sociological imagination must remain grounded and humbled. To paraphrase a former sociology professor from Modesto Junior College, “I’ll be a student all my life.” This, coming from a woman who has been on this planet for over seventy years, should humble even the most prideful individual. This way of looking at life, that there is something you can always get better at or learn more about, is the backbone of my philosophy for life. It reminds me of something the existential philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once stated in The Dawn, “A snake that cannot shed its skin perishes; so do the spirits that are prevented from changing their opinions, they cease to be spirit.” In preventing yourself from changing your opinion you very well can be considered one of the mindless walking-dead aimlessly traversing the planet in search of your next meal and not much else. However, we must not go to the extreme in the opposite direction and not “believe in something” as the old saying warns “Those who believe in nothing, fall for anything.”

In many ways, reality can be stranger than fiction. The role of sociology is simple, separating the fiction from reality. By illuminating the dark areas of the man-made social structures to determine their effectiveness and efficiency in doing what they were designed to do, sociologists can contribute positive change for the individuals, families, and other socially-formed groups in the world. We should remember that everyone is a “sociologist” whether they realize it or not. Some have a better knack for it than others; but, by unplugging others from the matrix of deceit and denial, by “throwing back” the proverbial curtain and exposing the “fraud” of Oz, all, can know what it means to be a sociologist. The world could be a much better place if people were encouraged to simply ask “Why?”

Slipping down the Slope to Tyranny

•June 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The current immigration debate within the United States, in my humble opinion, does not bode well for me personally or, for that matter, any other “insecure” citizen of the United States. The immigration issue seems to be polarizing large swathes of the population into opposing camps. The scary ability of the mainstream media behemoths like the renowned neo-conservative mouthpiece FOX and left-leaning CNN to whip the public up into an emotionally-charged, divisive, fervor by “framing” the immigration issue and subsequent debate, is more than a little troubling. I believe the severity of the problem can be resolved in four modest steps: 1) removing the incentives in place that encourage many, not all, illegal immigrants to take the risk of entering the country 2) tightening border security without infringing upon American’s civil liberties 3) deporting any violators 4) penalizing employers who habitually fail to follow current hiring laws (make an example out of a few employers by throwing them into prison with a maximum sentence and see how things change quickly). Additional steps that might be harder to enact, but extremely important, would be the repealing of the North American Free Trade Agreement and enforcing anti-trust laws against multinational corporations, essentially breaking up the clusterfuck that has become the Big Business oligopolies. There are very powerful forces at work here and reneging on an agreement such as NAFTA or getting gung-ho on trust-busting might be politically impossible considering the current political influence Big Business possesses through the State. According to Peter Kwong, author of Walling Out Immigrants, “The driving force behind the current surge of globalization, and hence human migration,” is not to end hunger or poverty throughout the world, rather, “…the corporate drive to cut labor costs and maximize profit” (Insecure American, 260). Big Business, through neoliberal economic policies, have decreed to the Average Joes of the world that they are not important, mere cogs in the machine that when they outlive their usefulness it makes more business-sense(more profitable) to pick up operations and move elsewhere. Detroit is a prime example, within the United States, of the destructive effects associated with the emigration of the manufacturing industry to foreign nations in order to maximize profitability. NAFTA played a large role in this and was devised by Big Business to do just what Kwong suggests, cut labor costs and maximize profits. The public relations officers employed by these transnational corporations might suggest the fallacy that by moving production to lesser developed nations the consumer benefits the most through lower prices instead of the obvious more believable desire to maximize profit. I think it is important to consider the act of repealing NAFTA itself would be a push and pull factor that would discourage immigration from Mexico to the U.S by preventing the ability of Big Business to move to lesser developed nations and exploit their poverty-stricken people by paying miniscule wages. Likewise it would discourage emigration from the U.S., particularly the middle-class business owners, who will likely begin fleeing rising taxes used to pay for already stressed social services and defense( don’t get me started on defense-spending!).

I sense we are in the eye of a storm, a global storm to rival all past storms combined. Can’t you feel the insecurity and uneasiness amongst the people you come into contact with lately? The threat of terrorism and illegal immigration are the warm waters needed for this storm to pick up velocity and grow in size. How so? It’s like a parent who wants to scare their child into performing the desired action or non-action. Enter, the Boogeyman, aka Al Qaeda, aka Islamic Fundamentalism aka the Taliban. Whatever the name, the results are the same: 1) Restrictions to movement within and outside a nation-state in the name of security 2) decrease in individual privacy (in this case through an increase usage of closed circuit television cameras, wiretapping, and internet censorship) 3) silencing of dissent 4) gun confiscation. Proponents of expanding number 2 always proclaim, “If I’m not doing anything wrong then I don’t have anything to worry about.” I chuckle whenever I hear this because I fall under the type of individual who believes if the government wanted to find fault with you they could. I suppose if you are an automaton then you have nothing to worry about. Alas, I am the polar opposite of an automaton and should be somewhat fearful of facing persecution for my beliefs considering our descent towards a totalitarian surveillance society that Orwell couldn‘t possible have imagined. The immigration debate in relation to the threat of terrorism is key in rallying public support for the implementation of draconian measures in order for the masses to “feel secure.”

In my humble opinion, what we face is nothing less than the threat from a fascist oligarchy hidden behind the illusion of democratic processes and “consensus building” where what is good for society takes precedence over what is good for the individual. The goal is nothing less than the elimination of the traditional “nation-state” and the cultivation of perceptions along the lines of what President Obama called “global citizenship.” This is why NAFTA will persist and expand, because “the powers that be” desire it to. I base much of my beliefs in regards to this subject on countless speeches given by the various world leaders within the past several years. Lately, many leaders are no longer abashed to speaking their minds about the desire for a New World Order, a world run by corporations for corporations under the pretext of coming together as world citizens. Some skeptical minds might conclude my “paranoid delusions” are from being raised in a highly capitalistic and individualistic society and dismiss this as a fear of, or, resistance to, being part of a “collective” or team. Hardly. I am all for working together and being a part of something bigger than me. What I am not about is any institution or government telling me how to think or what to believe because the “mob”, I mean the majority, reached a supposed consensus. Unbeknownst to the average global citizen a paradigm shift is occurring. It is an ideological movement with its roots in Samuel Huntington’s neoliberal economic policies regarding development and Malthusian teachings in regards to population control.

So how does all of this affect you and I? For starters, having to interact with individuals who have fallen for the emotionally-driven propaganda provided by the mainstream media will become more challenging as the propaganda intensifies and new incidents arise and are “framed.” The possibility that every citizen will be required to furnish “their papers” at the request of any officer of the “state” has all kinds of alarm bells going off in my head. What bothers me even more is the publicly-hidden desire to place radio frequency identification chips into the newly mandated federal standardized identification cards provided by the states(see Real ID Act of 2005). This would change everyone’s lives forever. The fact that these RFID chips are constantly transmitting a signal indicates to me that a global positioning system for all products, including individuals is the endgame and should be opposed by anyone who believes in free will and democracy. Is this some kind of conspiracy theory? Hardly. All that anyone needs to do is look at legislation being enacted in other countries to see that the push for “national identification systems” for entire populations is not an isolated occurrence (see India, Australia, U.K., China, to name a few). Who is at the center of this movement with their “smart infrastructure?” None other than the transnational corporation, IBM. Change is definitely coming, for the better I seriously doubt.

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Addendum:

After reading the above essay you might wonder why I mentioned IBM in the last few sentences since IBM was not mentioned anywhere else in my essay.  Firstly, my rationale lies in the understanding that if we are not vigilant in our watch then history will easily repeat itself.  My belief that time is cyclical and not linear in nature also plays a role in my thought process.  Here is a youtube video detailing the corporation IBMs intimate relationship with another Fascist regime, the Nazis:

Now is the IBM Smart Infrastructure desire a Conspiracy??  Or too much power in too few hands?  You decide.

The Ideologoy of Development

•May 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The below article was written by William Easterly, Professor of Economics at New York University.  I think it paints an accurate portrait of the problems associated with development aid amongst other issues.  A very fun read!  I believe a better method, instead of throwing massive amounts of aid money to large “projects” should be set aside to ask the people of these “developing” nations what they need to become self sustainable.  Everything else will follow once they become self sufficient.  Dr. Mohammed Yunis’ Grameen Bank in Bangladesh is one possible option.  Smaller, micro loans tailored to the individual, focusing on the individual level instead of the domestic or interstate level in which the majority of these “projects” do. 

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The Ideology of Development By William Easterly

 

Foreign Policy July/August 2007

The failed ideologies of the last century have come to an end. But a new one has risen to take their place. It is the ideology of Development—and it promises a solution to all the world’s ills. But like Communism, Fascism, and the others before it, Developmentalism is a dangerous and deadly failure.

A dark ideological specter is haunting the world. It is almost as deadly as the tired ideologies of the last century — communism, fascism, and socialism — that failed so miserably. It feeds some of the most dangerous trends of our time, including religious fundamentalism. It is the half-century-old ideology of Developmentalism. And it is thriving.

Like all ideologies, Development promises a comprehensive final answer to all of society’s problems, from poverty and illiteracy to violence and despotic rulers. It shares the common ideological characteristic of suggesting there is only one correct answer, and it tolerates little dissent. It deduces this unique answer for everyone from a general theory that purports to apply to everyone, everywhere. There’s no need to involve local actors who reap its costs and benefits. Development even has its own intelligentsia, made up of experts at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and United Nations.

The power of Developmentalism is disheartening, because the failure of all the previous ideologies might have laid the groundwork for the opposite of ideology—the freedom of individuals and societies to choose their destinies. Yet, since the fall of communism, the West has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and with disastrous results. Development ideology is sparking a dangerous counterreaction. The “one correct answer” came to mean “free markets,” and, for the poor world, it was defined as doing whatever the IMF and the World Bank tell you to do. But the reaction in Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Russia has been to fight against free markets. So, one of the best economic ideas of our time, the genius of free markets, was presented in one of the worst possible ways, with unelected outsiders imposing rigid doctrines on the xenophobic unwilling.

The backlash has been so severe that other failed ideologies are gaining new adherents throughout these regions. In Nicaragua, for instance, IMF and World Bank structural adjustments failed so conspicuously that the pitiful Sandinista regime of the 1980s now looks good by comparison. Its leader, Daniel Ortega, is back in power. The IMF’s actions during the Argentine financial crisis of 2001 now reverberate a half decade later with Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s illiberal leader, being welcomed with open arms in Buenos Aires. The heavy-handed directives of the World Bank and IMF in Bolivia provided the soil from which that country’s neosocialist president, Evo Morales, sprung. The disappointing payoff following eight structural adjustment loans to Zimbabwe and $8 billion in foreign aid during the 1980s and 1990s helped Robert Mugabe launch a vicious counterattack on democracy. The IMF-World Bank-Jeffrey Sachs application of “shock

therapy” to the former Soviet Union has created a lasting nostalgia for communism. In the Middle East, $154 billion in foreign aid between 1980 and 2001, 45 structural adjustment loans, and “expert” advice produced zero per capita GDP growth that helped create a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalism.

This blowback against “globalization from above” has spread to every corner of the Earth. It now threatens to kill sensible, moderate steps toward the freer movement of goods, ideas, capital, and people.

DEVELOPMENT’S POLITBURO

The ideology of Development is not only about having experts design your free market for you; it is about having the experts design a comprehensive, technical plan to solve all the problems of the poor. These experts see poverty as a purely technological problem, to be solved by engineering and the natural sciences, ignoring messy social sciences such as economics, politics, and sociology.

Sachs, Columbia University’s celebrity economist, is one of its main proprietors. He is now recycling his theories of overnight shock therapy, which failed so miserably in Russia, into promises of overnight global poverty reduction. “Africa’s problems,” he has said, “are … solvable with practical and proven technologies.” His own plan features hundreds of expert interventions to solve every last problem of the poor—from green manure, breast-feeding education, and bicycles to solar-energy systems, school uniforms for aids orphans, and windmills. Not to mention such critical interventions as “counseling and information services for men to address their reproductive health needs.” All this will be done, Sachs says, by “a united and effective United Nations country team, which coordinates in one place the work of the U.N. specialized agencies, the IMF, and the World Bank.”

So the admirable concern of rich countries for the tragedies of world poverty is thus channeled into fattening the international aid bureaucracy, the self-appointed priesthood of Development. Like other ideologies, this thinking favors collective goals such as national poverty reduction, national economic growth, and the global Millennium Development Goals, over the aspirations of individuals. Bureaucrats who write poverty-reduction frameworks outrank individuals who actually reduce poverty by, say, starting a business. Just as Marxists favored world revolution and socialist internationalism, Development stresses world goals over the autonomy of societies to choose their own path. It favors doctrinaire abstractions such as “market-friendly policies,” “good investment climate,” and “pro-poor globalization” over the freedom of individuals.

Development also shares another Marxist trait: It aspires to be scientific. Finding the one correct solution to poverty is seen as a scientific problem to be solved by the experts. They are always sure they know the answer, vehemently reject disagreement, and then later change their answers. In psychiatry, this is known as Borderline Personality Disorder. For the Development Experts, it’s a way of life. The answer at first was aid-financed investment and industrialization in poor countries, then it was market-oriented government policy reform, then it was fixing institutional problems such as corruption, then it was globalization, then it was the Poverty Reduction Strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

One reason the answers keep changing is because, in reality, high-growth countries follow a bewildering variety of paths to development, and the countries with high growth

rates are constantly changing from decade to decade. Who could be more different than successful developers such as China and Chile, Botswana and Singapore, Taiwan and Turkey, or Hong Kong and Vietnam? What about the many countries who tried to emulate these rising stars and failed? What about the former stars who have fallen on hard times, like the Ivory Coast, which was one of the fastest developers of the 1960s and 1970s, only to become mired in a civil war? What about Mexico, which saw rapid growth until 1980 and has had slow growth ever since, despite embracing the experts’ reforms?

The experts in Developmentalism’s Politburo don’t bother themselves with such questions. All the previous answers were right; they were just missing one more “necessary condition” that the experts have only just now added to the list. Like all ideologies, Development is at the same time too rigid to predict what will work in the messy real world and yet flexible enough to forever escape falsification by real-world events. The high church of Development, the World Bank, has guaranteed it can never be wrong by making statements such as, “different policies can yield the same result, and the same policy can yield different results, depending on country institutional contexts and underlying growth strategies.” Of course, you still need experts to figure out the contexts and strategies.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

Perhaps more hypocritical yet is Development’s simple theory of historical inevitability. Poor societies are not just poor, the experts tell us, they are “developing” until they reach the final stage of history, or “development,” in which poverty will soon end. Under this historiography, an end to starvation, tyranny, and war are thrown in like a free toaster on an infomercial. The experts judge all societies on a straight line, per capita income, with the superior countries showing the inferior countries the image of their own future. And the experts heap scorn on those who resist the inevitabilities on the path to development.

One of today’s leading Developmentalists,

The self-confidence of Developmentalists like Friedman is so strong that they impose themselves even on those who accept their strategies. This year, for instance, Ghana celebrated its 50th anniversary as the first black African nation to gain independence. Official international aid donors to Ghana told its allegedly independent government, in the words of the World Bank: “We Partners are here giving you our pledge to give our best to make lives easier for you in running your country.” Among the things they will do to make your life easier is to run your country for you.

Unfortunately, Development ideology has a dismal record of helping any country actually develop. The regions where the ideology has been most influential, Latin America and Africa, have done the worst. Luckless Latins and Africans are left chasing yesterday’s

formulas for success while those who ignored the Developmentalists found homegrown paths to success. The nations that have been the most successful in the past 40 years did so in such a variety of different ways that it would be hard to argue that they discovered the “correct answer” from development ideology. In fact, they often conspicuously violated whatever it was the experts said at the time. The East Asian tigers, for instance, chose outward orientation on their own in the 1960s, when the experts’ conventional wisdom was industrialization for the home market. The rapid growth of China over the past quarter century came when it was hardly a poster child for either the 1980s Washington Consensus or the 1990s institutionalism of democracy and cracking down on corruption.

What explains the appeal of development ideology despite its dismal track record? Ideologies usually arise in response to tragic situations in which people are hungry for clear and comprehensive solutions. The inequality of the Industrial Revolution bred Marxism, and the backwardness of Russia its Leninist offshoot. Germany’s defeat and demoralization in World War I birthed Nazism. Economic hardship accompanied by threats to identity led to both Christian and Islamic fundamentalism. Similarly, development ideology appeals to those who want a definitive, complete answer to the tragedy of world poverty and inequality. It answers the question, “What is to be done?” to borrow the title of Lenin’s 1902 tract. It stresses collective social outcomes that must be remedied by collective, top-down action by the intelligentsia, the revolutionary vanguard, the development expert. As Sachs explains, “I have … gradually come to understand through my scientific research and on the ground advisory work the awesome power in our generation’s hands to end the massive suffering of the extreme poor … although introductory economics textbooks preach individualism and decentralized markets, our safety and prosperity depend at least as much on collective decisions.”

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, can hardly conceal his mockery of those who resist the march of history, or “the flattening of the world.” “When you are Mexico,” Friedman has written, “and your claim to fame is that you are a low-wage manufacturing country, and some of your people are importing statuettes of your own patron saint from China, because China can make them and ship them all the way across the Pacific more cheaply than you can produce them … you have got a problem. [T]he only way for Mexico to thrive is with a strategy of reform … the more Mexico just sits there, the more it is going to get run over.” Friedman seems blissfully unaware that poor Mexico, so far from God yet so close to American pundits, has already tried much harder than China to implement the experts’ “strategy of reform.” FREEING THE POOR

Few realize that Americans in 1776 had the same income level as the average African today. Yet, like all the present-day developed nations, the United States was lucky enough to escape poverty before there were Developmentalists. In the words of former IMF First Deputy Managing Director Anne Krueger, development in the rich nations “just happened.” George Washington did not have to deal with aid partners, getting structurally adjusted by them, or preparing poverty-reduction strategy papers for them. Abraham Lincoln did not celebrate a government of the donors, by the donors, and for the donors. Today’s developed nations were free to experiment with their own pragmatic paths toward more government accountability and freer markets. Individualism and decentralized markets were good enough to give rise to penicillin, air conditioning, high-yield corn, and the automobile—not to mention better living standards, lower mortality, and the iPod.

The opposite of ideology is freedom, the ability of societies to be unchained from foreign control. The only “answer” to poverty reduction is freedom from being told the answer. Free societies and individuals are not guaranteed to succeed. They will make bad choices. But at least they bear the cost of those mistakes, and learn from them. That stands in stark contrast to accountability-free Developmentalism. This process of learning from mistakes is what produced the repositories of common sense that make up mainstream economics.

The opposite of Development ideology is not anything goes, but the pragmatic use of time-tested economic ideas—the benefits of specialization, comparative advantage, gains from trade, market-clearing prices, trade-offs, budget constraints—by individuals, firms, governments, and societies as they find their own success.

History proves just how much good can come from individuals who both bear the costs and reap the benefits of their own choices when they are free to make them. That includes local politicians, activists, and businesspeople who are groping their way toward greater freedom, contrary to the Developmentalists who oxymoronically impose freedom of choice on other people. Those who best understood the lessons of the 20th century were not the ideologues asking, “What is to be done?” They were those asking, “How can people be more free to find their own solutions?”

The ideology of Development should be packed up in crates and sent off to the Museum of Dead Ideologies, just down the hall from Communism, Socialism, and Fascism. It’s time to recognize that the attempt to impose a rigid development ideology on the world’s poor has failed miserably. Fortunately, many poor societies are forging their own path toward greater freedom and prosperity anyway. That is how true revolutions happen.

William Easterly is professor of economics at New York University

The Cellular Society

•May 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The article below was written in 2008 as I began my descension down the proverbial rabbit hole.  Most of the views within it are views I still hold but, in particular, making “capitalism” out to be the sole perpetrator of the woes afflicting us was narrow sighted.  I still hold that capitalism can work but what we have now is nothing more than what Max Keiser refers to as “rigged-market-capitalism”.  The financial sector and neo-liberal economic polices  have truly provided the death blow to what remains of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” and to the average joe American’s perception of capitalism, imho.

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The Cellular Society

Renowned anthropologist Stanley Morgan, in his book Ancient Society, categorized three distinct stages of society within human existence, “Savagery,” “Barbarism,” and finally “Civilization.” Nietzsche likened it to a machine while Spencer to an organism. I liken it to the fundamental unit of structure, a cell. Considering what we now know of cellular biology it is sufficient to say that both were accurate in analogizing “society,” although Spencer’s misrepresentation of Darwin’s theory of natural selection in coining the phrase “survival of the fittest” instead of “survival of the best adapted,” has led to the misuse of the theory of Social Darwinism by proponents of “laissez faire” capitalism, specifically within the United States (Enron). The creation of “mark to market” accounting which, in conjunction with deregulation, has created the current global financial crisis is an attempt for the rigged-market capitalist system to sustain its existence as the mode of production promoted and enforced throughout the world via the globalization movement. The creation of institutions such as OPEC, the World Bank, IMF (International Monetary Fund), Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, or the CFR (Committee on Foreign Relations) which happens to be a non-profit organization, are clear examples of what Marx would describe as the capitalist class of the world reinforcing capitalist ideals of competition, individualism, and Protestant work ethic through the pre-existing social and legal structure of society.

The failure in assuming that “society” is natural when in actuality it is artificially created by natural beings(humans), creates false assumptions that must not be applied. For one, it does not factor in “starting position” in an artificially created structure, which is a key factor and with time and subsequent generations becomes a product of inequalities. To argue that “government” which generally consists “of the people” should allow for “Nature” to take its course; thus, allowing the weaker individuals in the society to become extinct, implies that society is all powerful and that humans do not influence it and vice versa. This could not be further from the truth. Society is man-made; however, with the implementation of other man-made creations such as bureaucracy, the “state”, stock markets, the public education system, religions, or modes of production like capitalism or communism; modern day society has gone through a process of mitosis in exchanging structural blueprints amongst these creations, other man-made creations, and itself. The cellular society has adapted and assimilated useful traits into and out it, to perpetuate its existence; in turn, perpetuating humankind’s existence along the same artificially designed path, it, and other man-made factors have created and given value to. This inability to realize the magnitude of these relationships has led class relations, created due to “placing worth” on an individual’s time labored within the current mode of production to be seen as “natural”, as Spencer suggested, instead of its true form, artificial.

What differentiates humans from any other species is our ability to reason and due to our adeptness with reason we are allowed to look back on history passed along in books, videos, and speech while using our own perspective along with accumulated knowledge to make rational interpretations and analyses. Within nature, genetic traits are passed down from gen to gen and the best suited for their environment will survive in the end. The same can be said of society and the beneficial traits passed down from gen to gen, not genetically (natural), no; but, artificially within the same artificially-created structure of society. Examples of methods used to “pass along” beneficial traits within society can be seen in the forms of tradition, religion, inheritances, enrollment in prestigious schools, formation and supervision of organizations with individuals sharing similar interests. The erosion of traditional beliefs and moral accountability is directly related to the exchanges(mitosis) or concessions between the economic ideology of the current mode of production, capitalism and whichever institution it is exchanging its blueprints (ideological “norms”) with (I.e. religion, the “state” or educational system). Since negative wealth can be inherited by future gens while the opposite can be said for positive wealth, inequalities arise at birth and in no fault to the individual. According to Hurst, “recent federal bankruptcy law has also made it more difficult for average citizens to evade payment of their debts, debts that are in large part due to costs derived from medical bills, divorce, and loss of jobs” (Hurst 2007: 374). In stark contrast at the opposite end of the income spectrum are recent changes to estate tax laws which eventually allow up to $1 million dollars being passed down through wills without being taxed (Hurst 2007). The division in classes are formed through these inequalities, issued at birth, due, not to the individual; but, to the structure of current society and the evolution of perception that this is “natural”.

Education is an extension of the “state” so it is sufficient to say that anything that influences the state indirectly may influence education and vice versa. With what we already know from Dye and his “elite” class theory within the U.S. Government we must not forget that the educational system itself was created by individuals and over time has evolved with the state and the ruling class, blending the ideologies of the ruling class within the structure of the public school institution. Marx would analyze NCLB and uncover its true motive. It was promoted to “leave no child behind” yet this is exactly what it is designed to do. NCLB has created a new market for rigged-market-capitalism’s “free hand” to exploit. How you ask? It has created a fervent culture of competition (a new market) within school districts and given them the incentive of “do whatever it takes” to improve “standardized test scores” to continue to receive federal funding. Now school districts are pushing legislation, just as within the Ceres Unified School District and the recently passed Measure “U” which will increase property taxes to generate bonds to be sold for school improvements (I.e. new classrooms, additional bureaucratic positions) that create an illusion that the main focus is on the success of the student when in actuality it is on generating revenue for the districts themselves.

Although social reproduction theories tend not to focus on the original appearance of inequality; in conjunction with constructionist theories, they can be used to not only outline the process by which the social class structure is maintained, but show the causal relationships between the symbols of “value” and the individuals living within the artificial structure of society. A key institution for maintaining the current structure of society is the public school. It is a classic illustration of the two applicable relevant theories. Since the conflict model and Marxian views on class conflict and the subsequent production of inequalities provide the bases for social reproduction theories, it affords interpretations of the relationships between symbols ( I.e. stereotypes, words used to insight fear: “Witch”, “Communist”, or “Terrorist”, or words used or perceived by an individual’s peers derogatorily; specifically, within the school system: “Failed”, “Nerd”, “Stupid”) and the structural position within the public school system of the adolescent whose cultural capital and in turn his/her habitus. Within the public high school classroom setting the past 6 months I have encountered countless occurrences of male and female students ranging from 14-16 years of age repeatedly putting themselves down, “actively participating in their own subjugation” (Giroux: 1983: 89) due to the extreme values placed on letter grades (A, B, C, D, F), and positive standardized test scores and the negative effects of doing poorly on these tests for the individual and, now thanks in large part to NCLB, the school and the district.

Many factors can be attributed to the perpetual unconsciousness of the labor force within a society such as the powerful use of language through readily available media outlets (advertising, stereotypes, emphasis on status symbols that are also man-made) which; in turn, alters an individual’s perception about the current societal structure as Spencer eluded to when referring to class relations as perceived as “natural.” Knowing, “how people feel about existing inequalities depends on what they think brought them about,” (Hurst 2007: 355). So if people are unaware when reading textbooks of the subtle use of language such as “battles” versus “massacres” to depict two completely different pictures of atrocities enacted upon American Indians by the U.S. Military, their perception will be distorted and through other facets of society (described above), be reinforced year after year, thus evolving thought along the same artificial, yet “naturally” perceived, path I have gone into great depth describing. Until “awareness” has been spread and obtained by each individual, perceptions cannot be changed and one of the greatest technologies ever invented, the television, has the opportunity to assist in the “raising the alarm” process. However the uncompromising newscaster Edward R. Murrow, taken from his speech given October 15, 1958 warned, “But unless we get off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.” I fear that we as a society have already long passed the “Point of No Return” and unless drastic changes to the structure of U.S. Society the world outlook looks bleak.

Capitalism’s key “benefit” is its flexibility in assimilating parts or ideals of desired institutions, created by and consisting of individuals, into its own core concepts (competition, individuality, desire to make profit). No better example, considering it is the holiday season, is the complete overhauling of the Christian religious holidays to promote consumerism. Examples abound, with Easter (Easter Bunny), Christmas (Santa Claus, Rudolph, and Frosty), Valentine’s Day (Cupid), each designed to do one thing, stimulate the economy and thus capitalism (two if you are a follower of Christian religions: “distract from God” and “His” teachings). The process of assimilation between religion, specifically Christianity, and capitalism and the ideology accompanying it, begins at the individual level within the smallest organization of all, the family. The interaction between the family and another institution, being the Church, is what capitalism uses to initiate the process of mitosis between capitalism and religion. This in turn affects the “state” as Americans are well aware of. An example is in the use of “In God We Trust” on the back of our currency which is stored, handled and pass around almost on a daily basis over each generation of Americans., and now, promoted on clothing attire worn by American urban youth. A “currency” created and regulated by another institution, the Federal Reserve who in turn is funded by a “group” of individuals sharing similar interests and wealth, giving credence to Dye’s theory of the ruling “elite” class. A second example is in the reciting of the pledge of allegiance daily for many years of several generations of Americans which has created what Smidt’s (1980) study of American elementary school children showed, a belief that the United States ,”’has been placed on this earth for a special purpose,’ that it has a ‘chosen’ status with God, and that it is successful because it is morally good,’” (Hurst 2007: 370). This language(symbol) driven evolution of culture in which God and the “State” are working together for a “just” cause is a direct factor of the perpetuation of American Exceptionalism.

Back to the mitosis between capitalism and religion, specifically the “tradition” factor associated with religion, and the byproduct of the “DNA exchanging” of the spiritual meaning of the holiday season and the artificially-fabricated profit-driven “deities” used to perpetuate the existence of capitalism by being perceived as “natural”. Traditions were created in turn, such as the cutting down of thousands of trees every year so that American families may place lights and plastic “things” on their branches, only to be discarded weeks later (markets created for each separate “thing” and each stage of the season). The evolution of this tradition is quite interesting itself. Initially candles were placed on tree branches of trees located outdoors and still with root, but over time and with advances in technology (electricity, lighting fixtures) have evolved into the naturally-perceived “norms” of American holiday culture. This same way of “consume and discard” thinking has led us to the creation of “rest homes” for the elderly.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” has never been more relevant than with the case of the men and women who helped build the United States into the country it is today. This inequality and injustice along with all the inequalities discussed can be attributed to the cellular society and the constant flux and exchange of values between the multitude of the core societal institutions, at times being diffused from a very small group at top(the elite) down to the bottom or other, more infrequent times, from the bottom, consisting of groups of other smaller groups that have come together, unified, to enact change upward. Each institution has its own structure, as I have eluded to, and each structure is open for re-structuring, or mitosis, as I have referred to it. With many examples, it is apparent that the current mode of production, capitalism, and the subsequent ideological results of the use of language(symbols) to perpetuate this ideology along with the use of institutions like the IMF and the World Bank with their controversial lending practices to other countries and the U.S. Military as chief-enforcer to the world of capitalist values will only give more merit to Marxian views. However, within the current U.S. Societal structure particularly the relationship between the mode of production and the “state”, should foster ideas of “fascism” to the “conscious” class and that socializing more services might have hidden side-effects (latent functions): the redistribution of power and subsequent control over the majority(lower, subordinate class) to the “elite” themselves. I do, however, believe social justice is attainable. If history can teach us anything at all it is that social injustices can be eradicated. Through activism and awareness and nonviolence movements much has been changed for the better but inegalitarians should not settle for the scraps from the elite’s table, rather we should be given a chair at the table and more importantly a true voice to explain the complexities of inequalities to the rest of the “unconscious” so that they are given a choice to decide.

The Global Fiat Currency Shell Game Grows

•May 10, 2010 • 1 Comment

The World’s Fiat Currency System Risks Collapse

 (taken from:http://inflation.us)

On February 12th, NIA released an article entitled, “Greece Distracting from Real Debt Crisis in U.S.” in which we said, “We hope that Greece doesn’t get bailed out, because a bailout would cause foreign investors to become more irresponsible than ever and create even greater moral hazards. Unfortunately, not only is it likely that Greece will get bailed out, it’s possible our own Federal Reserve will get involved. The U.S. Federal Reserve has the ability to make loans to foreign central banks without disclosure to the U.S. public. European banks have already benefited $50 billion from the U.S.’s bailouts of AIG, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Federal Reserve will intervene due to euro-zone countries being key U.S. trading partners.”

 

NIA was right, late Sunday evening the Federal Reserve announced the re-establishment of U.S. dollar liquidity swap facilities with foreign central banks, as a part of the European Union (EU)’s nearly $1 trillion bailout plan. The Federal Open Market Committee has authorized swap lines through January 2011 with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Swiss National Bank, and the Bank of Japan.

 

While the Federal Reserve may say these swap lines are necessary “to help improve liquidity conditions in U.S. dollar funding markets and to prevent the spread of strains to other markets and financial centers”, NIA recognizes that this is nothing more than another transfer of wealth from the American middle class to bankers around the world through inflation. This program was originally enacted in 2008 when the Federal Reserve loaned $582.8 billion to foreign central banks without any disclosure of which central banks got the money.

 

NIA believes it is unconstitutional for the Federal Reserve to make loans to foreign central banks. Most likely, the Federal Reserve was pressured by Wall Street to re-establish the swap facilities because Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have about $2.5 trillion in exposure to Europe, and Wall Street doesn’t want to see their bets go bad.

 

Not only will Americans now be exposed to the European debt crisis through the Federal Reserve’s swap lines, but the U.S. will be giving money away to Europe through the IMF. The IMF is contributing up to 220 billion Euros as a part of the bailout, which equals $283.1 billion at the latest exchange rate. The U.S. represents approximately 20% of IMF funding, which means the bailout is costing U.S. taxpayers $56.7 billion, not including the potential losses from loans made by the Federal Reserve and the inflation it will create.

 

The moral hazards of the EU bailout are immeasurable. It sets a dangerous precedent that the ECB won’t allow any eurozone nations to fail, just like the Federal Reserve won’t allow any major financial institutions on Wall Street to fail. Eventually, if you don’t allow the free market to punish countries and financial institutions that recklessly speculated and made poor financial decisions, the financial crisis we are preventing will turn into a currency crisis that the western world will never be able to recover from. Although NIA still believes the U.S. dollar will win its race to the bottom with the Euro, we are now at risk of a total collapse of the world’s fiat currency system.

 

Imagine if baseball teams weren’t allowed to fail. You probably remember playing t-ball as a kid and at the end of every game, both teams were declared the winner. Think about what would happen if Major League Baseball declared there will no longer be losers at professional baseball games, both teams will be declared the winners of every game. Would you still pay $300 for a ticket to see a Major League Baseball game? Of course not, the value of the tickets would collapse to nothing, similar to how fiat currencies will soon lose their purchasing power if we don’t allow countries and financial institutions to fail.

 

NIA is almost done producing its nearly hour-long documentary ‘Meltup’. We spent quadruple the time and money producing Meltup than we did producing our previous critically acclaimed documentary ‘The Dollar Bubble’, which has already surpassed 710,000 views since November 23rd. We believe Meltup will be the best economic documentary ever produced in world history and a must see for yourself, your friends, and your family.

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 (My thoughts)

In authorizing swap lines, the nearly transparent-as-mudd Federal Reserve has created “liquidity” from the emptiness eminating from their blackhole that is their balance sheets!  Now the “quarter” can be under any number of shells at any number of given times, even simultaneously if necessary!  (See Repo 105s for an example)  Now it is official, all countries and their central banks are complicit in the unraveling and destruction of the global fiat currency system.  Instead of garnering support at home by telling the governed the truth about our situation “the powers that be” continue to make historic and future-altering decisions for us as though we are infants still sucking from our mothers’ teets, incapable of comprehending our options! The options are not pleasant, I will agree, but what is being done seems like a band-aid solution and a large step closer to empowering the World Trade Organization or one of its counterparts to “regulate” the world in order to save IT from total destruction. (If you read the last sentence and sensed a bit of fearmongering, it was intentionally exaggerated as a critique of the ruling methods currently being used worldwide). 

All we need to do is look at how well other band-aid solutions have worked here in the United States.  Ripped from today’s headlines: “Fannie Mae seeks $8.4B in aid after posting $13,100,000,000.00 loss in 1Q 2010 (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Fannie-Mae-seeks-84B-in-aid-apf-687711093.html?x=0AIG is no different, neither is GM regardless of what their new CEO has said on the television commercial….haven’t seen the commercial check it out:

Extend and pretend can only work for so long.  Eventually the law of gravity will come a knockin and everything will come down a crashin!  And the market soars over 400 points today on NEWS that a trillion dollar life preserver will be thrown to the EU!  Just NEWS, nothing more and the markets rally.  This kind of volatility is desirable for those in the “know” but in the meantime everyone else on the planet is left holding all the empty shells, alas even the quarter is missing! 

“Lions, and Tigers and Banks Oh MY”: Social Darwinism and the Notion of “Too Big to Fail”

•May 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“Lions, and Tigers and Banks Oh My!” 

Social Darwinism and the Notion of “Too Big to Fail”
Within nature the slow elk almost always falls prey to the hungry lion or tiger. Can the same be inferred of humans and the “artificially” man-made structures of society? Herbert Spencer postulated that it could. Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” and spawned the term “Social Darwinism.” Both are still widely accepted and used in many circles to justify why the “haves” are successful and the “have-nots” are not. This Eurocentric style of thinking has shaped the very foundations of our society by shaping and molding perceptions of individuals at all class levels. At the lower class levels it supposedly justifies why these poor souls can never progress up the class hierarchy. At the higher class levels it is used to justify the status and prestige associated with what C. Wright Mill’s suggested are the “power elite.”  (According to Mills the “power elite” consisted of high ranking individuals in important political, military, business and banking positions.  On frequently occuring occasions positions on boards of governors overlap, blending the responsibilities and allegiances of these “power elite.”)  Altogether, Social Darwinism is skewed, in that what Darwin actually stated was not “survival of the fittest” but “survival of the best adapted.” This monumental error seems not to matter considering history has regurgitated this fable in various sayings such as, “Only the strong survive,” or “It’s a dog eat dog world out there.”

  

Nature is far different from man’s creations like bureaucracy, the state, modes of production, and stock markets. The hierarchal structure we are indoctrinated into accepting as “natural” contrary to “artificial” creates inequalities at birth that hinder or prohibit the lower socioeconomic classes’ ability to compete with those of the upper classes. This is the main distinction between animals “surviving” in nature and humans “surviving” in social society.  

To me, Social Darwinism, seems to justify an ideology of arrogance and superiority for those being born to the upper 1% of the United States over everyone else. A prime example, as my title eluded, was the recent bailing out of AIG, Fannie/Freddie Mac, and several of the major transnational banking institutions in 2008 by the United States’ Congress. “Too big to fail” was the chant and rant in the national and local newspapers, flying straight in the face of Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” ideology. I fin it ironic and more than a little unnerving that such a notion as “too big to fail” could even be suggested, let alone embraced. When the mortgage-paying home owner, in their quest for the “American Dream,” was suckered into a variable rate loan with obscene interest by predatory banks, subsequently defaulting on the loan and being forced to file bankruptcy, there was no “bailout” offered. For more on the illusion that is the “American Dream” watch this clip from comedian George Carlin:  Trillions of taxpayers’ dollars were allotted to AIG and many of these transnational banking institutions to stave off the supposed collapse of our economy. I believe it is essentially important to remember that some of this TARP money used to bailout these corporations came from these very same home owners and their families through future taxation. The hypocrisy in this revelation is too much to fathom! Social Darwinism was used to justify many of these home owners filing bankruptcy while in the same breath, used to justify why we must provide over a trillion dollars to the banking and insurance industries to ensure their survival. Social Darwinism emphasizes the “fittest” will survive although, by recent accounts, if you are “too big” and begin to drown, a life preserver is thrown your direction while all your smaller competition drowns. I suppose the monopolization of the banking industry by a few transnational banking institutions is a latent function of the “too big to fail” bailouts. The contradictory standards that emanated from the bailouts of the few at the expense of the many only reinforced the hidden ideology of superiority that Social Darwinism teaches.