Financial Reform: What’s the Endgame?

•April 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever read something and the question “What is this article really about?” popped in your head! Well as I began to read the article below I couldn’t help but question the latent function of this article. A latent function is a sociological term which simply means “unintended” or “unrealized” function. I suppose the author only knows his true intentions; however the title of the article suggests that a Bank Tax should be included in the “Financial Reform” bill being discussed in both houses of Congress.  

Before I go into what I perceive as a latent function of this article I would like to say that a bank tax is unconstitutional and discriminatory. When we set the precedence to tax one sector and not another we intensify the descent down the slippery slope to fascist tyranny that really picked up steam after TARP was passed under the Bush administration! Please do not believe I am an apologist for the banks! Hardly! The banks and the criminals responsible should be held liable for their actions, but taxing one industry instead of another is not the answer! Instead, what we should do is let these institutions fail just like we are allowing for at the individual level with American’s who are upside down in their mortgages and are forced to file bankruptcy. If these institutions continue to practice risky behavior then how can we as a society permit the subsequent losses associated with this risky behavior be placed squarely on the backs of us taxpayers? This double standard of bailing out the Too Big To Fails while holding individuals accountable for “suspect” loans provided by the same TBTFs has made a mockery of the term “justice.” 

Now that that rant is over, please indulge me a bit longer. You tell me if this is not a method Communication graduates have learned called “agenda-setting” and “framing.”

Taken from NYT article below:

So ultimately, the regulators are left with the same choice that arose in 2008: bankruptcy or bailout. Regulators can let the firm fall apart suddenly and risk the kind of collateral damage that the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers caused. Or they can spend billions of taxpayer dollars propping up the firm, as was the case with A.I.G. It’s a miserable choice.”

Well, I suppose these two dichotomous “choices” are all that are available. The problem with framing is that too often the public fails to remember these media products are socially constructed, and usually have an agenda behind them.

The afore mentioned “framing” issues I see is not the latent function that bothers me with this article though. What truly bothers me is the subtly constructed perception that the United States is ill-equipped to combat this “global” financial problem which originated on our soil. What do I mean? According to the author, Leonhardt, “…as they dig into the details, they(Washington) realize they are facing a raft of problems. One of the biggest is that the firm has 70 percent of its assets abroad (roughly the share of Citicorp’s business that was overseas in 2009). Washington can’t simply seize assets held in London, Shanghai or Moscow.(bolded emphasis added by me) This innocuous statement infers, in my humble opinion, the need for some sort of global agreement or global governance by a supranational institution such as the IMF which the author mentions many times throughout the article.

Is this the end of “Statism?” I’m sure that is the desire of many multinational corporations. A world corporatocracy hidden behind supranational corporations like the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, or the Bank of International Settlements that provide the illusion of democratic processes. This illusionary “unilateral” binding agreement would eliminate nation states as we know it by incrementally synchronizing laws of all nation states (this has been going on for some time now already) into a cohesive set of “agreed” upon rules suggested by the IMF. Leonhardt provides just one example of such a suggestion by the IMF when he stated, “The International Monetary Fund has started pushing for a bank tax, and a tax has also become part of the debate in Britain’s election campaign.”

In addition, let us not forget Rahm Emmanuel’s statement that “we(Obama administration) cannot let a good crisis go to waste.” This kind of thinking is rooted in The Hegelian Dialect. Problem, reaction, solution. Many of us are aware of Gordon Brown’s proclamation about the need for a World Constitution to combat this financial cataclysm that by many accounts (Bernanke, Obama, GE and others) is nearing its end.

If you missed Gordon Brown’s comment here is a link to the youtube video:

 My argument is that, in this instance, reading between the lines we can see the endgame here. The desire is nothing less than a global entity designed to regulate former nation state’s economies and in turn, their people regardless of whether the majority of the peoples of these countries want it or not. The end result is nothing less than the proverbial “slip and slide” descending into a totalitarian world system run by consensus building and marginalization of the people via these unelected, unaccountable and non-transparent entities like the central banks of the world.
————————————————————————-

 Leonhardt: Bank Tax as Insurance for Us All

nytimes

On Wednesday April 28, 2010, 2:13 am EDT

The financial regulation bill before the Senate has the potential to do a lot of good. But it also has at least one major flaw: it would not do enough to prevent taxpayers from paying the bill for a future crisis, David Leonhardt writes in his latest column for The New York Times.

What would? A tax on banks. The International Monetary Fund has started pushing for a bank tax, and a tax has also become part of the debate in Britain’s election campaign. In this country, however, the subject has taken a back seat to issues like derivatives regulation and the Goldman Sachs case. Those other issues are important, but they are not as central to minimizing the damage from the next crisis.

To understand why, let’s take a glimpse into the future. Imagine the year is 2020, and a major financial firm is collapsing.

The financial regulation bill that President Obama signed back in 2010 was meant to deal with just such a problem. It gave regulators something called “resolution authority.” They could seize a dying firm, wipe out its shareholders, fire its top executives and keep it operating until its surviving parts could be sold off in an orderly fashion. Now, in 2020, the regulators are preparing to use that authority for the first time.

But as they dig into the details, they realize they are facing a raft of problems. One of the biggest is that the firm has 70 percent of its assets abroad (roughly the share of Citicorp’s business that was overseas in 2009). Washington can’t simply seize assets held in London, Shanghai or Moscow.

So ultimately, the regulators are left with the same choice that arose in 2008: bankruptcy or bailout. Regulators can let the firm fall apart suddenly and risk the kind of collateral damage that the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers caused. Or they can spend billions of taxpayer dollars propping up the firm, as was the case with A.I.G. It’s a miserable choice.

You also can be pretty sure which of the two options tomorrow’s policy makers will choose: bailout. History – in the form of the Great Depression and, more recently, Lehman – argues against the idea of liquidate, liquidate, liquidate, as Herbert Hoover’s Treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, advocated. The downside, of course, is that taxpayers end up paying for Wall Street’s sins.

Obama administration officials insist that the reregulation plan will prevent this outcome. They note that both the Senate and House bills will give regulators more authority to monitor financial firms. Banks will also be required to hold more cash in reserve, which will give them a bigger cushion when some investments do go bad. The rules for resolution authority, meanwhile, will be written with international cooperation in mind.

And maybe time will prove the administration correct. But a good number of economists and banking experts are worried. They think the odds of a future bankruptcy-or-bailout dilemma will remain uncomfortably high even if reregulation passes.

For starters, there are the cross-border problems; in the midst of a crisis, governments may have trouble cooperating. Then there is the fact that the regulators have never before tried to shut down anything as complex as a multibillion-dollar financial firm. “It’s really hard – really hard,” says Robert Steel, who worked on the financial crisis in the Bush Treasury Department and later was chief executive of Wachovia. “Anyone who says they know exactly what we should do is overconfident.”

Another former top government official adds, bluntly, “Don’t kid yourself into thinking that if J. P. Morgan were on the rocks, it would disappear.”

Above all, no one knows what the next crisis will look like. So no one can be sure exactly how to prevent it. In all likelihood, Wall Street will eventually figure out ways around technocratic rules – and technocrats – and create trouble that today’s proposals don’t anticipate.

The beauty of a bank tax is that it acknowledges as much. Financial firms play a vital role in a market economy. But they also have a long record of causing crises, be it the South Sea bubble of 1720, the Panic of 1873, the Great Depression or our own Great Recession. A bank tax is akin to an insurance policy that taxpayers would require Wall Street to hold. The premiums on that policy would keep Wall Street from making big profits in good times while foisting its losses on society in bad.

The current Senate bill includes a kind of bank tax, but it has all kinds of problems. It would initially collect only $50 billion from firms and then set the money aside to pay the costs of future bailouts. Other crises have cost far more than $50 billion.

For this reason, the Obama administration prefers a postcrisis tax. The White House has proposed a so-called TARP tax, to raise at least $90 billion over the next decade and cover the costs of the 2008 bailout fund (the Troubled Asset Relief Program). But this idea has its own flaws. It does not leave any money for future busts. It assumes Washington will always be able to recoup those costs later, which doesn’t sound like a great bet.

The I.M.F. prefers a permanent tax, for the good reason that the risk of crises is permanent. “The challenge is to ensure that financial institutions bear the direct financial costs that any future failures or crises will impose – and maybe somewhat more, given all the other costs that bank failure can impose on the economy,” Carlo Cottarelli, the head of the I.M.F.’s fiscal affairs unit, wrote last weekend. The tax wouldn’t go into a dedicated bailout fund. Its purpose instead would be to discourage too much risk-taking and, over the long term, help offset any bailout costs.

Because the tax would be calculated based on a firm’s holdings, a small local bank or a larger bank with billions of dollars in safe consumer deposits might pay nothing. A leveraged investment bank would surely be taxed.

The TARP tax, in its technical design, would be similar. And Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, told me recently that he was open to the idea of the tax’s becoming permanent. “There is a very good argument you should put a fee on finance, like a tax on pollution,” he said.

Yet the administration – nervous about upsetting the fragile support in Congress for financial reregulation – has been afraid of making the tax part of the broader bill. That strikes me as a mistake, given the tax’s importance. Obviously, though, if Congress passes a bank tax in a separate bill later this year, it will work out the same in the end.

There is some reason for optimism, too. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told Politico this week, “I don’t think there’s much doubt that there will be a bank tax.” Why? The tax is not just about punishing banks.

The federal government, remember, is facing a huge deficit. To pay it off, Washington will need to make spending cuts and raise taxes. Can you think of a better candidate for taxation than an industry that made huge profits during the boom and then helped cause the bust that has sent the deficit soaring?

Advertisements

Credit Scores: Class Warfare disguised?

•April 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 

Credit Scores: The Progression of Class Warfare

You happily set your pen down having just filled out your umpteenth job application this month. The uncertainty of it all has you asking yourself why you haven’t gotten even one call back for an interview. Then one morning you sit down to read the paper as has become your routine since losing your job 6 months ago. An article leaps off the paper at you! The newspaper article reads: “Employers checking prospective employees’ credit scores, On The Rise.” Your heart sinks into your stomach and you feel queasy. You begin to breath rapidly and inconsistently. But, you remember what your doctor had told you your last visit before your medical insurance you had had through your previous employer lapsed, “Calm down, take slow deep breaths and if that doesn’t work breath slowly into a paper bag.” Damn this anxiety disorder, as the doctor had labeled it, you think to yourself. The doctor had prescribed a little white pill to help if the above mentioned remedies failed, but the prescription is too expensive to pay for. Besides if you had any extra money it would be thrown at the credit card bills, rent, and utility bills that have gotten out of control due to your decreased revenue and this recession the newspapers, t.v. and President keep saying has ended. After a few reps of your rhythmic breathing techniques to calm your nerves you read the entire article.

The article suggests that employers are using your credit score to determine your “character“ (Are you reliable and trustworthy? Do you pay your bills on time? Do you pay your bills back at all?…etc.) while totally neglecting the fact that in doing credit score checks on prospective employees, employers are actually creating a new form of discrimination. This concocted formula also known as your FICO score does not take into account job loss, wage reduction, or medical emergencies as viable means of measurement. Instead, it analyzes and methodically, perhaps somewhat intrusively, catalogs an individual’s use of credit (applying, charging, paying, etc). Similarities between the FICO scores and Credit Ratings are undeniable. Credit Rating Agencies provide levels of ratings on financial instruments like government bonds, governments’ themselves, currencies, stocks, derivatives, etc. These ratings vary from AAA which is very good to C which is “junk” (aka: defaulting on the debt obligation), with a few kinks or variations here and there dependant upon which ratings agency is doing the rating. It is important to note that there are three major ratings agencies, Moody’s, S&P (Standard & Poor’s) and Fitch IBCA. These rating companies are at the heart of the fraud that has been perpetrated on the American people. By being the “cheerleaders” (providing junk bonds with AAA ratings) Moody’s and its counterparts, in essence, have used “credit scores” to dupe many investors (individual, pension funds, cities and municipalities) into buying something that is worthless. Why should the FICO score be seen any differently? In my humble opinion credit scores are an extension of “class warfare” under the guise of progress. Discrimination is discrimination no matter how you try and justify it.

In the end, I hope this story brings to light the mega-problems that these misguided attempts by employers to use FICO scores to “weed-out” unworthy applicants creates. Essentially employers who do this are discriminating these applicants due, in many times, not because of their “character;” instead due to external forces beyond their control along with current social structures that have been erected which prevent them from gaining any traction and necessary financial momentum for upward mobility. To compound the issue of losing one’s job with the added stress that knowing your credit score might be the reason for someone else’s application being held in higher regard than yours seems illogical to me. But what do I know. It seemed illogical to me to add a trillion dollar healthcare bill onto the nearly 13 trillion dollars ($13,000,000,000,000) are government owes already, but that didn’t stop it from being passed by our “elected” representatives. By the way, that breaks down to $117,000 per tax payer according to http://www.usdebtclock.org/. It seems that a downward spiral has begun in the United States and credit scores, rating agencies, and the government are only intensifying and perpetuating this trend.

Futures trading for movies?? Are you kidding?

•April 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Subprime Goes Hollywood

The Wall Street wizards who gave you credit default swaps want to turn the movie industry into their next casino.

— By Nick Baumann

 

If you thought the mortgage-backed securities and other complex financial instruments that crashed the economy were risky, you’ll love Wall Street’s latest brainwave: a new financial market in which players can gamble on whether upcoming Hollywood movies will be blockbusters or bombs.

For years, Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street investment firm, has been operating the “Hollywood Stock Exchange,” a fake-money game in which players trade “stocks” to bet on how films will do at the box office. Now Cantor could soon get government permission to make a real-money version of the game—a market in which players can gamble on the success or failure of, say, Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Critics are worried that this new market could be vulnerable to insider trading and create bizarre incentives for moviemakers—and that it will also enlarge the risky family of financial products that helped trigger the economic crisis.

“This is such a bad idea on so many levels,” says Lynn Stout, a law professor at UCLA and an expert in derivatives, the category of financial instruments that includes Cantor’s proposed box office futures. “What they want to do is basically open up a casino for people who want to make money for predicting the next blockbuster.”

Advertisement

Here’s how it would work. Hollywood studios, actors, directors, investment banks, hedge funds, and anyone else would be able to buy and sell contracts based on the value of all ticket sales in the first four weeks of a movie’s release. According to Cantor Fitzgerald’s plans, the contracts would each be worth one-millionth of a given movie’s gross sales during that four-week period. Let’s say that you thought Avatar would pull in $500 million during its first four weeks. So, you buy 100 futures contracts at $490, figuring that when Avatar made $500 million you’d be up $1,000. Unfortunately, as it turned out, Avatar “only” made some $430 million domestically in the first month after its release—meaning that you’d lose a cool six grand.

One problem, skeptics say, is that Hollywood insiders could have a huge advantage in such a market. People in the movie business often have far greater access to crucial information about a film’s box office prospects than ordinary investors do—such as how big the marketing budget will be or how bad the performances are. “If the industry is selling, odds are that it is a bad idea to buy,” says Dean Baker, the codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Another problem, says Stout, the law professor, is that such a market creates “all sorts of perverse incentives to manipulate the success of movies.” Let’s say you were responsible for Gigli, and you realized during filming that it was shaping up to be one of the worst movies ever made. Instead of writing off the $54 million you’d shelled out to make the film, you could simply buy up a stack of futures contracts priced on the assumption that the movie would tank. Then, to nudge that failure along, you could slash the marketing budget, or decide to add 30 more dreadful minutes to the final cut. Played correctly, a studio could inflict a movie like Gigli on the world and still turn a profit. If box office futures trading happens, being a Hollywood insider would take on a whole new meaning.

Proponents of the concept argue that the plan would simply allow moviemakers to offset their risks. Media Derivatives, Inc., another company that has applied for government approval for a box office futures market, said in a submission to regulators that it wants to enable “risk transfer…from the producers, studios, theaters, and financiers/film funds to a community of speculators willing to assume these risks in return for being paid risk premiums.”

Stout says there could be a legitimate case for a futures market limited to players with an economic stake in a movie’s success. But Cantor has no plans to restrict trading to those with skin in the game. If it gets the green light from the government, the firm plans to hold “boot camps” across the country to familiarize people with box office futures trading. And it’s already recruiting players of its Hollywood Stock Exchange game to set up accounts to “practice” for the rollout of the real market. One New York investment firm, SAGA Capital, has said it will launch a hedge fund focusing on box office futures if Cantor’s plan gets the go-ahead.

In other words, Cantor hopes to flood its futures market with plenty of players whose participation would be purely speculative. “In layman’s terms, we call that making a bet,” Stout says. If that sounds familiar, it should. One of the catalysts for the financial crisis was the spread of risky derivatives like credit default swaps, which allowed investors to bet on whether subprime mortgages would default. Because those investors had no stake in the underlying product—in this case, the original mortgage—they took far greater risks. In that context, Cantor’s plan could be “incredibly dangerous,” Stout says. “Until we fix this legal problem that you can make purely speculative derivative bets, we have to worry that any newly created form of derivative can add risk to the system.”

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is responsible for approving Cantor’s proposal, but refused to comment on the application. A Cantor spokeswoman refused to discuss the firm’s plans, saying only that the idea was pending approval. But if the plan succeeds, the amount of money in play could be significant. The movie business brought in around $10.6 billion in domestic box office revenues last year. Because anyone could participate in the Cantor Exchange—not just people who own rights to the box office takings—a futures market could be much bigger.

Tyson Slocum, a futures expert with Public Citizen who advises the CFTC, says Cantor’s plan suggests Wall Street hasn’t learned its lesson from the crash. Investment firms shoudn’t be able to launch new “casinos,” he says. The movie business is already an industry based on smoke and mirrors. If Cantor has its way, the fortunes of other financial players could be tied to Hollywood’s whims. And there’s no guarantee of a happy ending.

Here is another analysis from: Written by Chris F. Masse

http://www.midasoracle.org/2010/04/09/cantor-fitzgerald-hollywood-stock-exchange-cantor-exchange/#comment-27685

Background:

A “transaction” occurred in 2001 – that transferred HSX Holdings Inc. voting rights to Cantor – giving the hundreds of investors – who invested $40 mn. dollars into HSX from 1996 – exactly NOTHING.

When queried by lawyers, Cantor claims they lost all the paper work in the 9/11 attacks (they moved the company from Santa Monica Ca. to the top floor of the WTT during the Spring of 2001).

What I know is that a board member of HSX – Woody Knight of SBS (Scandinavian Broadcasting Service) – engaged in a pre-arranged, third party transaction that passed voting control to Howard Lutnick at Cantor – in exchange for $2 million in eSpeed stock (Cantor’s publicly listed entity at the time) that was immediately sold to ‘wash’ the sale.

Cantor is now going to launch ‘box office futures contracts’ based on intellectual property and technology they don’t have the rights to – with the blessing of the CFTC.

According to my sources who are close to this – the CFTC – run by Gary Gensler – a former Goldman guy (of course) – took 25 mn. in ‘lobbying’ fees from Cantor to get these new contracts green lit. But did they do any due diligence? Did they spot the absence of any bona fide transaction between HSX and Cantor?

Does the world really need more weapons-of-mass-financial- destruction from the sickos on Wash. and the CFTC?

Why should we assume that Cantor will operate this market honestly when the circumstances of their “ownership” including the patented “Virtual Specialist” technology used for online CDA (Continuous Double Auction) technology, are dubious at best, if not outright fraud.

Will anyone be able to resist these new products that combine tinsel with wall st.?

Is this the new bubble the CFTC hopes will take people’s mind’s off the current spate of fraud on Wall St.?

Also, can you think of a market that is any easier to manipulate by insiders?

We understand that a former CEO of HSX got calls from people like Jeffrey Katzenberg asking to move prices of their projects up to change the perception in the market place (and media) and to free up more marketing dollars.

Just one example of many, many ways to game this market.

————————————-

I suppose nothing is sacred, not like Hollywood was sacred to begin with, but still!

Linked to http://ragingdebate.com/economy/as-if-hollywood-wasnt-bad-enough

The Unholy Trinity: Govt, Media, and Ignornace

•April 9, 2010 • 2 Comments

A 200 word rant I had written in 2008 to the Modesto Bee, a McClatchy owned Newspaper, located in the Central Valley of California is below.  Of course this was not published by the Bee.  I spoke with a few reporters from the Bee and the head editor who stated they had already reported on this lockdown issue, which they hadn’t.  I find it interesting how seemingly natural it is for the media outlets and government to collaborate and collude to get the story “right”.  The “I scratch your back, you scratch my back” syndrome has never been more obvious.  Another clear example showing that the media no longer investigates then reports, instead just report what they were told happened by the authorities, is the fact that in Ceres the Police Chief  Art De Werk has his own column in the local Newspaper.  Anyone who choses to write in anonymously, which is allowed by the Ceres Courier newspaper, about any of the Police Chief’s views from his column are not sent to the editor of the paper but to De Werk himself.  Did I mention that Ceres Police Chief happens to be the acting Deputy City Manager too???????   What has happened to Ceres and Modesto are a microcosm of the corruption and conflicts of interests afflicting the Nation at every level of government.  I’ve ranted enough, but your comments and insights are greatly welcomed and appreciated.

Police secretiveness does not only occur in Modesto but everywhere. These “public servants” no longer hold the best interest of the very citizens whose taxes pay their salaries. Instead, they are more concerned with protecting their brethren and upholding “order” at the expense of our liberties. The BART murder of an unarmed, prone and handcuffed man by these same “public servants” and the subsequent denying of the man being cuffed is a clear example of the police trying to protect their own. The Ceres Police Department has also been in the process of getting their “ducks in a row” after the lockdown “gun” incident in early December of 2008 at Central Valley High School. Never heard about it? That’s because it was not on the police blotter nor in the Bee or Ceres Courier. There were three suspects but only one was handcuffed and told to stand beside a police car as students being released from the lockdown went to their next classes. Many witnessed this, yet the police did not find a “gun” on the young boy. The CPD burst into the boy’s classroom with their semi-automatic machine guns drawn and poised to dispense lethal force even instructing the teacher who dissented against the aggressive tactics to “get on the ground!” I remind you that no parent is allowed to take their child from school during a lockdown, however many tried and failed. Attempts to obtain a preliminary report by parents of children attending the school have met the same cookie-cutter responses from CPD who have stated, “It’s not public record, and only those who are involved are permitted to view.” Why the secrecy and non-transparency? Perhaps because hearsay and speculation do not hold up in our courts of law? If I were a parent of a child who was forced onto the ground by gun-wielding men in scary black uniforms, it would bring thoughts back of Nazi Germany right before the Holocaust! We must stand up in defiance of tyranny both at the local level and the federal level before we have become conditioned like a dog whose owner beats it. After awhile the owner only need raise his hand and the dog will flinch and submit! Wake up America and remember “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Militarism in the U.S.

•April 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“War is a racket;” an infamous quote from U.S.M.C. Major General Smedley Butler, in 1933, on the true nature of most wars. According to Butler a racket was best described as “something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.” (http://www.fas.org/man/smedley.htm) When considering, $699 billion or 65% of total net discretionary spending found within the total 2007 U.S. budget was budgeted for the military (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/rewrite/budget/fy2008/defense.html) or the often overlooked fact that the U.S. military is the country‘s largest employer “leaving Wal-Mart, the Post Office, and General Motors in the dust,” employing 3 million Americans (Lutz, 47), the Major General’s definition for “war” seems to gain even more credence.

 

The shaping of perception of the military and war starts at a young age in the U.S. I remember as an adolescent watching Top Gun and dreaming that some day I would be like Maverick or Iceman and join the Air Force, get the cool jacket, fly a billion dollar piece of equipment and shoot down some bad guys. During this same time in my childhood, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was my favorite cartoon to watch. The name itself portrays the “average Joe” as a real hero; heroes fighting against the evil forces of COBRA whose sole objective was nothing less than world domination. Several of the “bad guys” in this show had Russian accents thus conceptualizing and promulgating the “cold war” fear into the hearts and minds of American children just like me. So, what was so special about these real American Heroes? They were soldiers of course. This reinforces the conceptual framework Lutz discussed when she stated that being masculine was rooted in being militaristic. In addition to “passive” media perception creation and reinforcement as I deem movies and television shows as (even though I believe at times they are anything but passively created and controlled), there is PR spin. In observing “career day” at a local junior high for the past two years I have noticed “predatory” recruiting by the U.S. armed forces. In particular, the last “career day” the U.S. Army sent a teenage soldier who had just completed boot camp and had not yet seen combat to attempt to recruit children ranging from 11 to 13 years of age. What I found odd was how “natural” and seemingly ordinary the act of recruiting children(many yet to enter puberty) by the U.S. military was perceived by professionally credentialed teachers and administrators. This truly shows a disconnect between “true” reality (the reality of others looking in) in contrast to what has been socially fabricated and taught via various instruments to the American people.

Catherine Lutz, author of the essay “Warmaking as the American Way of Life,” asserts very similar conclusions to the Major General. Lutz discussed the size of the U.S. military and its transparent uses as well as “black bag” uses. Lutz also discussed the stark contrast between American perception and reality when analyzing the U.S. military in relation to the rest of the world. I found Lutz’s critiques on the different beliefs found rooted in the American culture about war, being a soldier, and the U.S. military in general, extremely enriching. I particularly enjoyed her critique on how the military shapes perceptions of Americans, who have never been in the military, to perceive it a particular way. Lutz believes the “normalization of American militarization has been accomplished through the science of public relations” effectively “winning hearts and minds through advertising and PR spin” thus perpetuating what I call “clinically-designed perceptions” (Lutz, 58). Perceptions like: the U.S. military is only used for “good” or if you do not “support the troops” you are “against us” as G.W. once so eloquently stated.

The Insidiuous Underbelly of WallyWorld

•March 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“Welcome to Wal-Mart,” a quaint voice pipes from an aged woman standing just inside the motion-sensor doors. This elderly woman, surely meeting the age requirement necessary to qualify for Medicare yet standing, greeting, smiles and ushers you forward into, Wally World. Oh the spectacle that is Wally World. A true microcosm of the wealth inequality, cultural capital disparity, and “say one thing and do another” lip service prevalent in the United States, Wally World is at the top of a very large s*!#-list of culprits responsible for the perpetuation and promulgation of such inequalities and injustices. On the other hand, what you cannot observe is the massive exploitation of its overseas factory laborers as well as the laborers used through companies bound in contract with Wal-Mart.

“There is an integral, intentional (emphasis added), and multifaceted relationship between Wal-Mart and poverty,” writes Jane L. Collins in her critique of Wal-Mart entitled “The Age of Wal-Mart” (99). It seems neoliberal economic policies that began in the 70s and continue today are incorporated in the origins of Wal-Mart’s rise to prominence and greatly responsible for its continued economic dominance over its would-be competitors. One could even argue that these neoliberal economic policies and tactics are visible characteristics of Wal-Mart’s business model and the methodology involved in the creation and implementation of such a drastic economic move away from the previous bargaining relationship between workers and owners of capital, “Fordism”. Alas, these neoliberal policies according to William K. Tabb, author of After Neoliberalism, “has not brought more rapid economic growth, reduced poverty, or made economies more stable. In fact, over the years of neoliberal hegemony, growth has slowed, poverty has increased, and economic and financial crises have been epidemic” (http://www.monthlyreview.org/0603tabb.htm). Some cynics would argue that the years of neoliberal hegemony have done exactly what they were designed to do, aggregate wealth and power into fewer hands.

As I think of Wal-Mart and its immoral business methods I cannot but think of the stink coming from Washington that is the healthcare debate. How is Wal-Mart and healthcare related you ask? Take in account the average Wal-Mart “associate” makes between $12,000 and $14,000 a year, well below the federal poverty line of $19,157 (Collins, 104). Now consider Wal-Mart’s employees participating in programs such as food stamps, free lunches, and subsidized housing cost the state of California $54 million in 2004(Collins, 105). California taxpayers, in 2004, spent $32 million alone on medi-cal expenses for employees of Wal-Mart(Collins, 105). It seems like Wal-Mart has a sweet deal in having the government and us taxpayers subsidize its moral obligation to provide its employees affordable health insurance. If the proposed legislation in either house of Congress is passed other companies, itching to follow suit, WILL. In legislating that health insurance be mandatory and fineable for non-compliance as well as creating a government option Congress would be empowering large corporations to “cut frivolous expenditures” (I.e. health insurance). How could this happen? The burden for an expenditure such as group health insurance would be lifted from the employer and placed squarely on the shoulders of each citizen. Again, neoliberal and neo-conservative ideologies are prevalent within the workings of these bills; laws designed to aide “capital” and abandon everything and everyone else.

Marxism and the Global Warming Connection

•March 31, 2010 • 1 Comment

Marxism: Global Warming and the Redistribution of

Western Wealth to Lesser Developed Nations

Due to the push for globalization, the elitists of this world have ensnared the unsuspecting citizens, the proletariat and bourgeouise, of once-sovereign nations in a tangled web of regulations and treaties. How you ask? They are students of Marx and hold to his ideas on a nation’s superstructure and infrastructure. The materialistic Marx suggested the most important social institution was that of the economy, grouping the remaining institutions of politics, religion, education, and the smallest, and I believe most important, unit of structure, the family into the superstructure where ideas and values are created and reinforced.

Marx’s ideas on the redistribution of wealth are prominent throughout the world today. It can be seen throughout Socialist Europe, one example being the foundation of the European Union. Likewise, here in the states creeping socialism or Fabian socialism, progressing in the early 20th century with the implementation of the graduated income tax, has led us and the world to the doorstep of global corporate fascist-controlled communism. Do not misunderstand me, I believe the less fortunate of our society need assistance, not due to their laziness as is the usual excuse provided from the process of hierarchal diffusion from the elitist-controlled media; but, due to the way the structure of society has been created. It has been developed in such a way as to create a “glass-ceiling” with respect to “class“. And with this glass-ceiling in place the subordinate classes are born into inequalities, just as Marx suggested. However, the justification to take from those within the middle class as is the case with the United States income tax system (35% of income is taxed of those who make $372,951+) is erroneous and purposeful. The fact that the income tax brackets end at $372,951 and anyone (I.e. the upper 1%) who makes more than this $372,951 is still only taxed 35% reinforces my explanation of a “glass-ceiling”, specifically for the middle-class. I would like to note that I was raised in a class far below the “middle” so I would like to think I am examining this specific glass ceiling with an unbiased perspective.

Marx suggested a worker revolution would take place against Capitalism and that from the ashes of capitalism a utopian communism or collectivism would rise. The mode of production and ownership of this production would be wrested from the elite and placed into the hands of the workers. This sounds wonderful to many idealistic and naïve individuals but this idea that the workers will have control over the means of production is fantasy because of the influence the state possesses and the more alarming influence corporations have on the state. I once naively felt that the world could live in harmony within a communist utopia, but the more I have delved into history the more I am certain this “idea” has been concocted and promoted to bring about a totalitarian regime, enslaving the entire world and hurling humanity back into a feudalistic state ruled by an aristocracy whose superiority-complex, driven by “Social Darwinism” and Malthusian ideals justify their elite status as our rulers. Writers such as Aldous Huxley (A Brave New World), H.G. Wells (The Open Conspiracy), and George Orwell (1984 and Animal Farm) have warned of this impending New World Order, but for not. The masses dismiss such talk as conspiracy theory or the ravings of capitalists who fear losing their power and control. However, in all honesty many of these same “capitalists” are promoting this agenda to usher in global communism which will be governed through the United Nations and its subordinate branches. But wouldn’t this affect them as well? Perhaps a quote from a Canadian capitalist by the name of Maurice Strong, who in 1992 was Secretary-General of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development and more recently, senior advisor to the World Bank and U.N. Secretary-General Koffi Annan illustrates it best, “(I am) a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology.”

By understanding Maurice Strong’s own admission, one can better grasp the complexity of this “conspiracy” and the elitist thinking behind the “man-made” global-warming movement and in retrospect understand that this New World Order would not be a utopian collectivism; rather a totalitarian control mechanism. In December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, President Barack Obama and other leaders including leaders from lesser-developed nations will sign a treaty to combat greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2. With his signature, President Obama will, in effect, place United States sovereignty into the hands of an unaccountable, unelected arm of the United Nations. According to former science adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Lord Christopher Monckton, in a speech at the Minnesota Free Market Institute Conference October 16th 2009:

…weeks away, a treaty will be signed… Your president will sign it. Most of the third world countries will sign it, because they think they’re going to get money out of it. Most of the left-wing regime from the European Union will rubber stamp it. Virtually nobody won’t sign it. I read that treaty. And what it says is this, that a world government is going to be created. The word “government” actually appears as the first of three purposes of the new entity. The second purpose is the transfer of wealth from the countries of the West to third world countries, in satisfaction of what is called, coyly, “climate debt” – because we’ve been burning CO2 and they haven’t. We’ve been screwing up the climate and they haven’t. And the third purpose of this new entity, this government, is enforcement. How many of you think that the word “election” or “democracy” or “vote” or “ballot” occurs anywhere in the 200 pages of that treaty? Quite right, it doesn’t appear once…

Lord Monckton mentions “coyly” or reparations are to be provided to lesser developed countries for excessive CO2 emissions by Western countries. The premise for this Marxist idea of redistribution of wealth is that the lesser developed nations should not be penalized for CO2 emissions they have not produced over the decades in contrast to Western industrialized nations such as England, Germany, United States, and France who have. The latent function of such a proposition would be a world where states’ standards of living would be equal to one another thus allowing the governing body (U.N.) easier control over the world population.

How does standard of living have anything to do with Co2 regulations you ask? Many studies have been performed that show a direct correlation with energy consumption and standard of living. The more energy consumed the higher the standard of living in that country. With the signing of such a treaty as is proposed in December of 2009 the standard of living, we as Americans and Westerners in general, are accustomed to will deteriorate rapidly and with it the America we have grown to love. Still not convinced? I will end with another quote from Mr. Strong, “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrial civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”