We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Multipolar World Means More Freedom

PART 2 of Threats to Freedom Series: Mechanization makes it more profitable for world's future oligarchs to switch from competing by force and financial exploitation of the third world to competing in industrial output and welfare provision

Recently, the global international situation changed from one of feudalism (with each feudal lord constantly trying to slaughter the other with full use of the vassal states and being polite and collegial in peacetime) to one of libertarianism. The former vassal states/serfs are now "free" to work for former masters who now style themselves as capitalists. Every small country in the world is "free" to dress how they like and do what they want with their body as long as they work for United States or European Union sponsored financial institutions.

Those countries that really want to make autonomous economic decisions are threatened by force, internationally ridiculed, or badly beaten up. We can see how ridiculous the situation would be if 200+ "sovereign" countries were actual people living in one neighborhood block. United States would just be the muscular mob boss loan shark with a crew of yes men. They would makes rounds down the street, slap people around, or drag them by the collar. Germany, England, and Japan would be the former mobsters who put away the guns (for the most part) and now try to be the corner store owners and minor loan sharks. They pay a bit of protection money to United States and tacitly support it to preserve the global system that benefits them. France and Russia (also former mobsters who got beaten up rather badly) are the ones who want America to weaken so there can be collective bullying of the world. They try to make conspiracies with Germany to that end since collective bullying and loan sharking would give them a larger share of the cut. India, China, and Brazil are too well armed to be bullied anymore and are just trying to stay out of business on the street for now. Everybody else is at the mercy of the colorful characters above for their wealth (if they don't want to lay there dying in the streets).

It's an intolerable situation internationally and intolerable domestically. Blatant use of force will have to come to an end since racketeering is inefficient and will exhaust society that practices it through logistical overextension. That has been the case for centuries and is especially true if the racketeer does not lead in making useful products. Recent American slide into a new economic depression has accelerated the process of multipolar world's reemergence. Rise of new global powers ( European Union, China) and perseverance of old regional powers (Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Iran, India, Japan), is raising macro level competition to new levels. The oligarchs ( that exercise control over most governments on the planet) cannot compete anymore by using force since it is now economically, physiologically, and politically suicidal. As such, interstate competition has to take the form of constantly raising the quality of life for citizens living inside. As much as it pains them, oligarchal elites can no longer throw the poor armed with bayonets at each other to gain greater market share.

The modern form of post-violence competition is also burning itself out. It has so far involved:

1) Overworking citizens by ideologically promoting economic libertarianism domestically, to other great powers, and within the post-colonial space. This increasingly resulted in wealthier workers growing poorer while competing with even poorer foreign workers for an increasingly shrinking and depreciating currency pie

2) Turning small nations into indentured servants (they way American former slave masters did to freed blacks in 1870s) by force. As discussed in part 1, the international community now respects states as independent autonomous decision makers. Of course that is only on paper since United States has used mass violence and coercion during the transition of countries from colonial slavery to post-colonial dollar dominated indentured servitude. Western powers are also freed from the expense of protecting their former subjects.

3) International financial manipulation of currencies, investments, and capital flows through IMF, WTO, World Bank. This allowed Western elites and their third world elite allies in creating wealth outflows from the third world and giving regional conspirators a share of the cut

older unipolar world concept: click to enlarge
The first method of competition in terms of reduction of state power by oligarchs ( to promote economic libertarianism and profitable indentured servitude within the general population) is also overextending itself. Many oligarchs have found out (like their ancestors in the late 19th century) that if you don't provide health care and other infrastructure for your indentured servants, the rich of other countries cut into your profits with time. Many of the American rich have recently seen their worker related health care costs rise dramatically and so decided to pass on the costs to the government. Obama even admitted publicly that health reform is needed because the American worker is becoming too expensive for domestic employers. Indentured servants ( who are overburdened by costs of living and whose incomes are reduced by competition and outsourcing), are bad for domestic consumer market and bad for foreign investment. A paradox is created in which economic libertarianism cuts costs in terms of paying people less but increases costs of privately provided infrastructure. Even if private sector mimics some third world countries in not providing any infrastructure or welfare, it finds that domestic consumer market is hurt and violent insurgency looms on the horizon. Libertarian economics also reduces tax revenue to support the military as a second type of competition.

Blatant use of military force was the cheapest path of least resistance to be used short term. The French, German, American, and British oligarchs in the 1970s and 1980s could care less that the new violent indirect loan shark method of exploitation is unsustainable. They had a wonderful pretext in the form of Soviet power to defend their financial interests. They has the cover of the constant cold war emergency to look the other way when America frequently engaged in international violence. Now that the cold war is over with nothing to replace it with, there is no justification for enormous military apparatus to shake down poor nations for money and resources. Military action, besides being unpredictably draining as Iraq has shown, also results in increasingly earlier blowback from various populations. This type of competition was the most effectively and widely used by United States and we have seen how it rotted and impoverished the general society. Japanese, Dutch, and German oligarchs now smirk at the price and inefficiency of huge conventional war machine over the cheaper way of worker training and healthcare provisions. They are able to keep their white collar workers productive and obedient tax payers and supporters of the status quo.

International financial structures such as the IMF provide a forum and platform for the world's rich on how to peacefully exploit the entire planet. These structures had a competitive function against communist backed international structures (such as Comecon) for courting third world power elites. Now Chinese and Russians want inside the exclusive Anglo-American/Western European dominated financial cartel and it is beginning to lose some of its purpose.

Since these methods are burning themselves out, we will see new forms of international competition rise. We will increasing see attempts by powerful interests to use government power to create a German style welfare state. Only such attempts stand to preserve as much capitalism as possible in the face of two immediate threats. The first is competition from foreign rich who are better able to exploit third world resources/the poor while remaining domestically productive with exports (such as the Chinese). The second bigger threat to international capitalist business as usual is the rapidly increasing mechanization.

Efficiency of assembly lines and technological production has multiplied many fold since the times of Henry Ford in the 1920s. From a purely non-ideological scientific perspective (in terms of resources, rates of production, energy expenditure, etc), the world is more than capable of providing a basic annual income to 9-10 billion people along with minimum level of schooling, shelter, food, pharmaceuticals, clothing, and basic technological gadgets. This has been true for some time now. Industrial machine production has become so efficient that even in 1960s Milton Friedman talked of minimum basic wage and scientists warned the president of rising mass unemployment becoming socially destabilizing and impoverishing in the future. The truth that nobody talks about is that a large bulk of humanity is no longer needed as workers. Mechanization (which accelerated its already breakneck pace with the computer revolution in the 1980s) is making far more first world workers obsolete than outsourcing. It is absolutely ridiculous for capitalist ideologues to suggest that by the middle of 21st century, most or even a third of 9 billion people will all work in advanced hypertechnological white collar jobs.

Nobody believes it.

Here's the scenario that economic libertarian internationalists actually describe for the future in hopeful optimistic terms. They want the world united under direction of a few financial institutions so capital can flow unhindered to smoothly create the flat world that Thomas Friedman talked about. Exponentially accelerating technological growth ensures that only a few million oligarchs need to employ a few dozen million super skilled white collar technocrats to oversee production and distribution. Then of course you need whatever corporate local branch staff not already replaced by robotics. The globalization proponents actually suggest that a planetary system (that doesn't need vast majority of people to work for it) will be able to constantly sell advanced products to most of the world's population at a profit!

Say it takes for example, an outrageous number of 10% of world's population to man the factories making the nanotechnology suits and flying cars and robotic assistants. Say it also takes 10% to fill the white collar positions of the planetary corporate structures to distribute and promote the goods. 80% of people not working are supposed to to buy the products and thus provide profit and wages to the 20%! Don't laugh. The fantasy being seriously promoted by many internationalist globalists. Most people are supposed to be each others bartenders, barbers, and juggler type entertainers. Yes, even with advanced college degrees. It is so logistically irrational that the world's people will reject the idea before the real starvation, violence, and hyper poverty begin. Global unification under such a corporate system is far more structurally and practically ludicrous than any socialist design envisioned in the 20th century.

Many of the world's political and corporate elites understand this and know that transition to post scarcity systems must begin at the top while they are still in control. That entails politically defeating internationalist free market oligarchs and using the government to provide vast safety nets for the armies of the unemployed throughout the Western world. That also entails pushing the government to take managerial control of strategic sectors of the economy such as car/ship/airplane production facilities as well as the land with natural resources. Agricultural land will also be taken (most likely utilizing the health pretext of making food products safer for consumption).

Of course the process in United States will rip its social and political fabric apart and it is likely the process will first be started and finished in Germany-France-Russia-China-Japan block. Once United States follows (hopefully without civil war or other violence), most societies on earth will become advanced welfare states that technology necessitates. Free market hold outs in South America will join once they see United States blatantly copying Russia in strategic asset seizure. Many countries will flip to this model not because they can now do so without facing American violence (or investment ruin) but because the former capitalist superpower now pushes the opposite. Following the transition by most leading countries, the increasing % of society that is unemployed due to mechanization will be able to receive a minimum income and goods stipend.

Such a transition is the only one that would allow most of the oligarchs to continue making a lot of money (and avoid violence and government seizure without compensation). Thus it will be done.

This is what was meant in 1950s science fiction predictions about people in the year 2000 working 1-3 hours a day or a couple days a week. Mechanization and gains in efficiency cut out most people from being needed for work. As such, the global unification will be taken by rich welfare states that keep the factories running by providing a minimum of material goods to themselves and all the peoples of the world. Of course natural resources are needed for that. We see how China rapidly acquired 60% of Africa commodity exports while becoming the factory of the world. Perhaps "free market with Chinese characteristics" is not a euphemism for them selling out but a long term strategy to become the backbone of a new world order. Only European Union has the assets to become a partner in such a system and European oligarchs will push it to do so. Then world's governments will trade natural resources in exchange for goods that are distributed to people for free. Anything less than that (such as violent preservation of the current free market/finance architecture) means mass suffering and turmoil the likes of which we haven't seen in over 50 years.

Lets make a full circle to why a multipolar world with EU (including Russia), China, and U.S. balancing each other creates more freedom. Since the only logical logistical system is a post-scarcity stipend for most people, the key aspect of autonomy is satisfied. When individual human beings are guaranteed a food/shelter/resource stipend, they can demand greater subnational sovereign rights from international bodies and their own governments. The national governments will devolve power to people below and to international/regional structures(that supervise resource/goods trade) above. Global authorities such as departments within the newly empowered UN and International Court of Justice can finally begin to fulfill their functions and charters.

Today's competition between regional powers involves exploitation and violence. Tomorrow's competition stands to take the form in which regional powers compete to produce the most quality goods to be distributed for free. It's very easy to come up with incentives for a few million meritocratically chosen technocrats needed to operate the systems. Neither currency nor overlapping service industry capitalism need to disappear to supplement 21st century solution to a looming crisis. World's resources will flow to those states that make the best use of them. The talented technocrats will still find a society that has the best assembly lines and resource management and get paid handsomely for their services. The rest will take a small step towards the universal goal of greater sovereignty and self mastery.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Personal Freedom is Sovereignty

Goals of individuals are same as those of nations: resourceful space, respect, and autonomous decision making.

PART 1 of Threats to individual freedom series:

The modern international state system moved the ancient struggle between vassals/tributaries and lords from national level to the level of the individual. Similar to state vassals of the past, people don't want to pay with tribute or service for the right of personal autonomy.

The 20th century saw a false divide created when it came to the concept of freedom. People endlessly argued over whether it means not being coerced to do an action or whether it means being empowered to do an action. We can now clearly see that these two conceptions are sides of the same coin (like many confusing and false dualities in the modern world: right/left, private/public sphere, government/corporation, etc)

"negative freedom": Not being forced to do what you don't want allows you to do what you want.
"positive freedom" : Being given the resources to do what you want allows you to do what you want.

In the end both supposedly different variants allow you to exert more influence over yourself and your environment. As one of the most observant ancient thinkers, Marcus Cicero, noted, "freedom is participation in power". The more one's thoughts, desires, and action influence the world, the more freedom one has. Of course in the first decade of the 21st century we understand that the person also needs to be autonomous (instead of being told by the clergy or political commissars) in deciding what actions to engage in. The secular internet age increasingly takes away the desire and thought generating powers from the traditional local community and transfers it to the individual. What does it mean to be an autonomous decision maker, to not be constantly coerced by stronger outside forces, and to have enough resources to be able to make your own decisions without perishing? It means to be sovereign. A sovereign entity IS the coin with sides of positive and negative liberty.

So far we've heard the term sovereign only applied to states or monarchical heads of state. Countries go to great lengths and face great hardship to assert their sovereignty. That is because sovereignty, of the type countries are supposed to have on paper (which most don't due to use of force by their former colonial masters), is real freedom. "Real" is but a temporary placeholder since the human race is still evolving, but in so far as entities have a desire to participate in power and autonomous growth, sovereignty is the best type of freedom available.

Ancient Greeks saw freedom as their city state's ability to do exactly what Kurds, Basques, and Palestinians are fighting for. The international situation has provided us with incredible clarity on the meaning of liberty. Ever since the treaty of Westphalia, each state (regardless of its size or wealth) asserted the sovereign right to do what it wants within its borders as well as ability to interact with other sovereigns as it sees fit. Different countries did not waste time debating whether they're now allowed freedom to or from. The mere fact of multilateral respect and recognition was a large leap.

Considering that countries are made up of multitudes of factions and endless struggles between wills, sovereignty brings a welcome breather by reducing direct foreign influence. Mass energies can thus be used to sort out what the society wants to do and how it will develop. The individual human does not get such a breather unless he/she acquired an inheritance which would then allow time for reflection. A man does not get a full chance to engage in clean wholesome inner struggle and self mastery because other people constantly coerce his thoughts, desires, and mode of action.

It seems like an obvious next step to give subnational (think of sovereign European states within EU) sovereign status to individual human beings. Unlike a state, the individual has far fewer internal battles and conflicting interests/points of view. A man also has simpler system complexity and is much more capable of self governance than say, a complex multi-ethnic society which engages in periods of civil war. The relative unity of the individual (and the corresponding stability) appears to be a greater argument for sovereignty than one made by South Ossetia for instance.

Obviously an individual cannot have same status as the Vatican or Haiti (for legal and national security reasons) but the personal qualities of a human being definitely qualify for greater sovereign status within the nation's borders. If Vatican is able to be a country inside Rome, if Indian nations are able to have varying degrees of autonomy within United States, if consular workers are able to have diplomatic immunity, then we definitely see a framework arise for provision of increased sovereignty to human beings.

Very few people have even mentioned applying same courtesy to citizens of countries as given to states inside the whole global system. That is even though a state might be a poor representative of individuals within it and can be hijacked by a murderous or oligarchic faction which can act in its interests rather than the interests of all members inside country's borders. Although the individual can be overcome by one passion or another in a drunken stupor, he always makes the final decision in defense of what is perceived to be in his best interest at the time. The state, in comparison, is a greater artificial construction than a man's "I" (although governments do mimic some biological mode of function).

Today we find individual human beings in the same position that tiny German principalities were in when they were battling over which mode of religious life to have in the 17th century. Only today instead of the Vatican and powerful protestant empires pushing the conflict, there are political factions using entire populations as their personal war zones. Whichever political faction takes over the reigns of power within a state, seems to think it proper to impose its views (on mode of existence) upon everybody.

The tiresome negative versus positive liberty debate has been officially ended on the global scale. Paris doesn't endlessly bicker with Brussels over what rights Belgium should have or what official religion, or how much military support it should receive as a vassal state, etc. This debate just moved on to a lower domestic individual level. Citizens of nations are the new vassals and tributaries.

People want basic things that countries wanted throughout time.

Every individual desires:

1) ownership of a living space without strings attached
2) sufficient supply of resources to physiologically survive at worst and make use of productively at best
3) and ability to interact with others autonomously and without coercion.

Right away questions bubble up. "who will provide the resources!?" "what structure for resource gathering is needed?!" "everybody can't have a living space just like that! there isn't enough land and the land that's there will need to be rented or paid for!"

Recently, in part due to great violence and financial exhaustion, populations of big and small countries have come to an agreement that the sheer presence of the people (within a small country) is an argument for a mutually respected sovereignty. Powerful states extended the same Westphalia born courtesy(that was previously only given to European military equals) to post-colonial societies . France and England didn't ask the people of India or Laos to pay rent for the land they were on. They officially stopped asking for tribute or labor in exchange for autonomous decision making and non-interference. Of course we all know that as a de facto reality, conditions of servitude for small newly independent countries continued for decades after independence ( similar to how freed slaves after American civil war continued their old modes of existence of serving previous masters). The fact remains that sovereignty was granted on paper to most countries regardless of size just because the people there were alive and wanted autonomous self determination. If complex social structures like state governments can be given real freedom on paper, then governments can easily devolve more power to tangible structures such as national citizens.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Both John Ensign and Mark Sanford Humiliated Within 10 Days is Suspicious

Infidelity scandals have proven remarkably effective against politicians from Spitzer to Craig to Edwards. Ensign and Sanford falling in same week due to electronic surveillance is very suspicious considering strategic political benefits of their removal

On June 17th, Senator John Ensign, GOP's fourth most powerful member, stepped down from Republican Policy Committee after publicly admitting to an affair. His lover's husband apparently sent a letter (text here ) to Fox News mentioning solid evidence of infidelity such as " facts, a paper trail, phone records and personal witnesses to testify to its truth". Just a week later, Mark Sanford, a very ideologically independent and popular republican governor from South Carolina, publicly admitted to an affair. Apparently South Carolina's largest newspaper, The State, somehow acquired records of Sanford's email communication with his lover in Argentina.

Two powerful regional and genuinely popular Republican politicians, each with potential power to challenge Obama in 2012 (and frustrate the president's policies throughout his term), both had their public personas ruined within the same week because of electronic surveillance. Both decided to preemptively step forward with admissions rather than undergo the evidence circulating even more widely in the media.

They also shared very similar records of fighting on behalf of private oligarchs against oligarchs who wanted to expand the use of state structures as their tools. For example, senator Ensign opposed the auto bailout and restructuring and fought against the new powerful eminent domain powers granted to the government by Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court case (to take from one private entity and give to another). He was given high ranks for his efforts by the anti-government corporate propaganda tank Citizens Against 
Government Waste.

Mark Sanford is one of the rare fiscally libertarian-esque ideologues (in the mold of Ron Paul) who often went not only against the national GOP but the state's GOP as well. He was prone to theatrical antics to prove his point like bringing live pigs to state senate to protest his party's spending bills. More relevantly, he recently was the first to make a show of not taking federal bailout funds for his state (taking them later after the grand standing).

Sanford was the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. As such, he was well positioned (besides being already ideologically/psychologically predisposed) to help fellow regional executives craft common modes of functioning to resist the federal government. His theatrics and unpredictability stood to give endless headaches for the federal political center during its efforts to manage the continuing depression. Considering that other powerful governors (like Rick Perry) were also engaged in grandstanding about reaffirming state autonomy, an ideologue as the governors' leader was a huge risk.

This article is not necessarily suggesting that the federal government was involved in surveillance and then strategic exposure of damaging evidence to eliminate political rivals. However, considering the stature and background of the fallen politicians, the federal government stood the most to benefit from their removal and it is very suspicious. We've already seen the executive go after enemies under Richard Nixon and George Bush (Eliot Spitzer as investigator against Wall Street corruption seems to be the most stark example). The shoe is on the foot as Obama inherited Bush's tools.

In the last few years, the executive acquired sufficient new legal rights and technological abilities to strategically be able to blackmail and damage not only private citizens but fellow government officials as well. The surveillance is not going away under the Obama administration. It is being significantly expanded with the president creating a new cyber security office within the white house last month. The first director of this new center (designed to better coordinate all intelligence departments) actually resigned in protest after just a month of working there. He cited as his reason that the notoriously untransparent NSA is taking de facto control over the new center as well as taking a large chunk of funding from the civilian department of Homeland Security.

Russel Tice, a former NSA employee, recently revealed how department of Homeland Security and the department of defense jointly managed domestic spying operations on political opponents. If his story is true, it means the military and the civilian government were actively collaborating on American soil on behalf of the federal government. If his story is not true (considering he was fired from the NSA and might have a grudge) then the recent developments point to such collaboration beginning out in the open.

The new cyber security office in the white house points to growing power of department of defense under Robert Gates. Robert Gates now has increasing structural ability to acquire and manipulate domestic information formerly under the civilian management of Department of Homeland Security and policing structures like the FBI. The military now has publically visible and accepted foot in the door towards overseeing civilian information networks if it wants to. It is very possible that the publically stated concerns of increasing cyber attacks from China and Russia are the real cause of this development (Gates wrote his Georgetown PhD thesis on Soviet government's view on evolution of Chinese society). At the same time, military getting involved in civilian affairs rather than the other way around is disturbing news since that usually occurs in societies that are facing looming failure. It would be ironic (with recent events in Iran as background) if United States was moving away from decentralized ideological oligarchy towards more pragmatic centralized oligarchy backed by intelligence and military departments.

Scandals of infidelity have proven to be remarkably effective against politicians of all stripes but particularly more so against religious conservatives. It seems in a country that sees divorce rate of over 50%, people have an especially emotional knee jerk reaction to cheating done by powerful individuals. Stories of sexual infidelity have taken out more numbers of politicians in recent years that we can readily remember. The most mainstream and powerful populist for the poor, John Edwards, is but one national example.

Once again, it is possible some of the politicians fell due to private investigators or even intraparty sabotage. It is fun to joke about all Republicans being repressed perverts and hypocrites but after a while coincidences and amusing schadenfreude stories loose their luster and become rather unnerving. We'll see if anything embarrassing continues to happen to strategically key conservatives in the months to come.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Federal Reserve is a Global Banking Parasite

Some of the earliest political scientists looked at a country holistically as one would at a biological organism. If they had to observe the modern Federal Reserve and its functioning, what organism would serve for best analogy?

During the time of the renaissance in Europe people often thought of society in a holistic organic way. The head was the king. Money was the blood made from eating natural resources and turning them into marketable goods used by everybody. The army was the sword, peasants made up the body, and the church took the role of the soul.

We already know what the old school political scientists would think of a democratic country. They'd look at the democratic organism as schizophrenic, directionless, scatterbrained, impulsive, and engaged in short term hedonism. The success of democratic countries like Japan and Sweden (where people have chosen the same long term vision party for over 30 years), would probably shock these political monarchists into rethinking the executive located in one man.

But what might the analogy lovers of yesteryear think of an organism which can make it own blood by printing and loaning money to itself?

The peculiar nature of United States stands out among other socioeconomic organisms. Reserve currencies have existed before but the dollar is the first major reserve currency not backed by something tangible. The relatively unique American ability to loan money to itself takes a new meaning without gold backing the money up. If money is the blood keeping the major organs of society nourished (the executive in the head, the sharpness of the claws and teeth, the strength of the infrastructural skeleton, and the health of the citizen cells making up the body itself), then how would an organism, that makes blood without needing to sell anything for it, function?

The function of blood/money in this analogy is to be a middleman and transmitter of nutrients to all the cells in the body. The system first bites off chunks of the earth. Then the various agricultural and industrial organs process and break apart the chunks arranging them into new useful shapes. Finally a monetary value is attached to the finished products. The cells then give money for the slabs of chicken in the supermarket or rearranged plastic and metal from an electronics store website. Since blood/money is a middleman, its usefulness lays in so far as it is able to grow the size of the muscles and skeleton while keeping all the cells healthy and strong. It is not nourishment by itself but just a way to transport nourishment quickly throughout the whole system. A system like the state of Japan does not have much to eat on is own territory so it gives off some of its middleman blood to others to get more unprocessed food for its efficient organs. These Japanese organs make the best goods that cells in other organisms often prefer over those made in their native body.

A country that is a major importer however, better have a lot of unprocessed food like oil and metals to exchange for the middleman of money. Otherwise, its cells would starve.

What about a system like United States that imports both food (commodities) as well as finished nutrient shapes of computers, cars, clothing, and kitchen utilities? It doesn't make enough finished nutrient shapes that cells in other countries would find useful. Sure, it turns major chunks of the land into slabs of packaged chicken and bags of wheat but at the end of the day the net imports drastically outweigh the net exports. How does an organism like that continue to survive without its cells rapidly beginning to suffer? Its obvious that the cells are increasingly suffering and declining in average health since the 1960s, but the process of deterioration has been remarkably slow.

The old school political scientists would look for explanation at the reserve currency function of the dollar as the most trusted and used middleman. But why would it be the most used instead of say Japanese currency? After all, Japan is a society that actually makes a surplus of needed complex nutrients for other cells throughout the world.

As far as currencies and capital go, one rates them only according to their ability to be an effective middleman. Since United States pushed the dollar onto the whole world for the past 60 years during the cold war, this "blood" appeared everywhere. It being everywhere made the best middleman and created a virtuous circle for a currency not backed by anything. It could, of course, also be mass produced by the Federal Reserve as needed (although Federal Reserve would prevent too much money production the way OPEC does with oil). The cells that made up the spinal chord of the American organism (people working in the pentagon, Federal Reserve, major banks, investment institutions) were protected by the strength of muscular nuclear arms (apologies). Producing anything that other societies wanted was not needed as long as one blood was increasingly used internationally (and even domestically in some countries).

The process worked as follows. The American organism would have its tentacles touching every country on earth through military presence and financial aid (injecting its blood into smaller organisms). As the blood became widely used, America grew stronger and then smaller organisms came to it willingly asking for a bigger infusion of that special blood.

United States didn't give it to them willingly but asked them to act more like itself to be considered worthy. How could a country become worthy and thus receive more empowering blood that it wanted? It had to empower some cells at the expense of others. It had to make conditions in its body more favorable to the same nerve cells that dominated in United States, (such as the banks, corporations, individual oligarchs, and the military departments). Some smaller countries did just that. They forcibly starved and flagellated themselves and made sure to not spend too much on infrastructure or their workers. They tugged at America's tunic and begged to be given some of that precious magical blood that allows to not make anything useful but still remain alive.

The nerve clusters within the ever growing spinal chord within United States (financial sector growing to over 20% of the economy) sometimes decided through their credit rating agencies that the country was worthy. The American organism would then bite into the receiver (through insistence on lowering protectionist trade barriers) and gradually begin to suck out needed nutrients in exchange for the reserve currency blood investment of capital. The receiver organism would smile in bliss as the American blood mixed with its own and the spinal chord of the receiver rapidly transformed to mimic the one on Wall Street.

The vampiric parasite analogy is the only one that political scientists of old would use to describe the unique functioning of the United States. The parasite needs the host to become more productive so it can feed off it more. As such, United States makes sure to not completely kill the receiver country (through letting it borrow dollar bonds) even as the country receiving capital is increasingly weakened for the most part (overflowing nerve cells enriching at the expense of most other cells in the body). Many countries are thus partially infected but yet don't become full fledged vampires themselves. They still need to be productive so the American capitalists can make money off them. The whole system of course is only sustainable because of military force, threats, and predatory action against small weak nations. Many organisms (good examples found in Latin America) no longer struggle as their nerve clusters are increasingly the same as those on Wall Street. United States is thus surviving and replicating the likeness of its parasitic functioning through globalization.

Some countries ( like China, Germany, Russia and Japan) became so productive (with China and Russia keeping a lot of their citizenry dirt poor to keep exports going) that they actually paid off their debts and accumulated enough dollars to start loaning to United States itself. Instead of being the usual footsoldiers, these half-vampires started piggyback riding on America and hoping to one day either fully recover or become more advanced parasites themselves by learning from America's mistakes. Many elites making up the spinal chords of Russia and China are actually hoping for dollar recovery since that'll give them enough time to leech off the leecher while gradually and smoothly transitioning towards a multipolar world.

The more the organism's blood is used as a reserve currency, the more parasitic the organism becomes. We've seen how the old vampire of England has shriveled up after the sterling stopped being widely circulated by formerly held subjects. England now sits coughing on its island and tries to decide whether to give up independence or join the euro zone. The euro is the result of key European economies not being content with their semi-vampire status and deciding to band together to challenge dollar's leadership as a reserve. The euro's growth as a reserve currency in recent years (at the expense of the dollar) provides a great temptation for France and Germany to also consume without providing the world with anything useful. Foreign use of the dollar however is still at over 60% while the euro is just over 25%.

We've seen the reaction of United States when murderous religionists tried to drive a stake into the financial heart (although what they did was a pinprick considering the size of the system). There was a mighty roar across the planet, 2 countries were destroyed (Iraq being one that wanted to not use dollar in oil trading), people were encouraged to consume as patriotic duty, and more funds were diverted to international military build up.

We now also see what happens when the heart of the United States beats erratically or has problems pumping the currency to itself and others. The current international recession gradually deepening into a depression is a demonstration of just how large the parasite has become. As of today, the US nerve cells are in disarray and trying to pump massive amounts of blood into the system to jump start it. However, since the blood is produced by the system itself, it's like the vampire drinking from its foot to get the circulation going in the torso. It can't get bits of nutrients from other nations to feed bits of its body since they rely on America as well. It also can't give as much of its blood to China and Russia piggyback riding on top since they are beginning to feel that their carrier is stumbling and don't want as much of the precious blood anymore. Russia perhaps will continue to piggyback the longest since currently it (with its nonproducing, exploiting, consumerist commodity based society) is much more like United States structurally than China.

Although some talked of a new and improved replacement heart, more transfusions and some surgery were settled on. As if a better heart would solve the problem of a complex international system created over decades. Considering that the nerve cells of white collar financial industry and corporate workers were healthier at the expense of other tissue, their decline leaves just unhealthy tissue everywhere. Although United States still has the same productive organs as other societies, those organs have not really been relied on for decades. The vampire doesn't need the stomach or the lungs as much and would experience difficulties using them if it had to. What remains to be seen and feared is how aggressive such an organism can be when sufficiently starved. The claws and teeth are still very sharp and long.

If globalization makes the world function as more of a whole, then perhaps it is time to see what role United States plays in this whole. 

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

France's Sarkozy is in the Same Political Situation as George Bush

Considering the atypical polarization of French politics since the last election, Sarkozy's road to being elected again is the same as the one George Bush took. Mobilizing conservatives and defending an abstract French way of life

Jean-Marie Le Pen is very old. How old you say? He is older than even John McCain and might not live to see the next election to make opinions about it. Le Pen's participation during the 2007 French elections allowed Sarkozy to capitalize in the second round on some anti-immigrant National Front single issue voters. It wasn't the deciding factor in his victory but gave a taste of a demographic that can be courted in the future. Sarkozy realizes that he won due to greater infighting within the center left opposition and his Rudy Giuliani-esque law and order posturing. He knows the center left will reorganize a bit further to the right to undermine his support in the center and make a sustained coordinated effort to dislodge him in 2012. Five year terms allow plenty of space and breathing room to lick the wounds and make new alliances.

French center-left has more than enough tools and time to capitalize on the economic downturn, prevent Sarkozy's various short and long term economic stimulus measures from being successful, and exploit the potential rift between Paris and the new American administration (with Obama trying to make inroads with Muslims, Sarkozy finds himself in a difficult position). Sarkozy sees that the only way to solve the issue of illegal residents is to socially integrate them by legalizing their status. That of course would add to the numerical strength of voting blocks for candidates like Royale. The process of recognition and proper assimilation itself is political suicide for coalition building with conservative factions in society. Since the political hyperpolarization of 2007 election, it is very difficult for the president to peal away those who voted for Royale from the center-left. People's hatred of him is not waning.

As such, Sarkozy's only real options are:

1) to move further to the socially conservative right by getting the disgruntled La Pen voters to the polls in larger numbers than in 2007

2) to tap into the potential conservative factions of those who don't vote (even for Le Pen) because they know their guy wont win. This can even include those in France who still engage in Christian mythology but never bothered to really participate in the strictly secular French politics

3) to split the youth vote by polarizing the youth along nationalist militarist lines and using his own youthful energies to that end

4) utilizing increased support of the wealthy for media manipulation and social relations cover to achieve the above 3.

Sounds familiar? Yes. The president of France is George Bush in 2002. The economic crisis and gains by nationalist anti-immigrant parties in European Parliament allows Sarkozy a cover of international fiscal emergency and worry to mobilize new supporters. This would include the elderly and disgruntled underemployed young whites and involve constant play on their insecurities and passions. Such a road to 2012 reelections would have to be walked right away to build cultural momentum through media repetition.

The statement concerning Burqas not being welcome in France appears to be the first salvo in that direction. Since Obama criticized France in his Cairo speech by making a point to describe how America does not push secularism on its Muslims, Sarkozy can now begin to move away from public perception that he is more pro-American candidate than Royale by distancing himself from Washington's policies. Surrounding European countries are too preoccupied (with making their annual GDP reversals smaller than projected) to expand too much energy on lifting an eyebrow towards harder nationalist secularist tone coming from Paris. Sarkozy might not have EU's rotating presidency anymore but 2009 allows his country to be in the driver's seat of EU policy more than ever. Germany's focus on the upcoming elections takes Berlin out of the international picture briefly. Angela Merkel will not side her center-right Christian Democrats with Muslim immigrants abroad as she runs for re-election amidst a deep recession.

We can expect President's Union for a Popular Movement to gradually increase the use of social wedge issues like the Burqa ban and even a possible outreach to France's remaining Christian communities. He has already shown a willingness to appeal to militarists by advocating a stronger EU defense force and intervening to broker peace between Russia and Georgia last summer. As former minister of the interior and manager of police structures, Sarkozy is comfortable with rigid hierarchical organizations as well as interdepartmental cooperation between such structures. He really is well positioned to pick up the torch of the war on terror by stressing continental security and defense.

Using Turkey and Iran as geopolitical threats to European way of life plays well to demographics in key EU member states. Unlike Bush, Sarkozy has more skill and intelligence to create a domestic impression that he is a popular, competent, and moderate internationally. Currently, Paris is capitalizing on Washington's strategic public non-commitment to ongoing protests in Iran. Sarkozy's statement on defending women from disrespect (by not welcoming the fundamentalist Muslim requirement of a face cover) comes at a strategically appropriate time. The issue of speaking out against fundamentalist modes of life is bound to grow with the background of Iranian unrest and generate even more debate than before. The elevation of dialogue itself allows the president to show both the leftist anti-American youth and the anti-immigrant conservatives that he is serious about defending the French way of life autonomously.

The wild card is the international crisis itself and the depths to which United States' retracting economic bubble will pull Western Europe after it. As things stand now, continuous recession without further deterioration allows Sarkozy to claim he stabilized the country, to increase scapegoating, and to try to get re-elected on notion that you can't change horses in midstream when restructuring the economy. Conditions paralleling America's current slide into a deep depression are historically unpredictable however.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Filthy 59th Street Lexington Subway Platforms Show Best Why American Civilization is Ending

An incredible third world experience at a widely used subway platform in the pride of enjoy of America that is midtown Manhattan. Come visit it and try to find one elsewhere in the world that is worse.

Nothing illustrates the economic and moral bankruptcy of the country that calls itself a superpower better than the midtown Manhattan subway complex on Lexington avenue. I recently had the misfortune to find myself there after a light rain. Above the station, the area is filled with rather impressive corporate high rise structures and large window stores. The stores seem to be large corporate middlemen chains that satisfy American desire for goods that their economic/political system is unable to provide. They link foreign manufacturers with shoppers eager to try on things made in Italy, China, and even Malaysia. These large open chains are staffed with local peoples such as minorities living on the outskirts of New York and white college graduates unable to find employment in their field. But that's a story for another day. I am mentioning the flashy above ground consumer bazaars to provide a contrast to what goes on underground. After all, midtown Manhattan is not only one of the supposedly most sophisticated areas of American civilization but one of the wealthiest to live in

I descend about 2 floors down and find myself on a platform where local trains stop. The air got noticeably stuffier and less pleasant. I see that the instead of columns going to the ceiling there are just steel beams that are just occasionally recoated with paint. I am distracted however and find that I am on the wrong platform for the uptown headed train. I find an underpass and go through it. The underpass is rather rather narrow and filthy. There's various dirty doors on each side. If somebody was shown a picture of such a passage, they would think they are looking at a hallway of a third world local holding prison. It definitely had an oppressive yellowish atmosphere of a structure where the authorities don't care if its underfunded since the people using it don't matter. Considering it's just a quick underpass I really didn't give it much thought as I emerged on the other side.

Missing an uptown local train leaving the station as a mob of people squeezed into it with great urgency, I decided to try my luck with the uptown express train. I followed the sign leading to its stairwell. It turned out that the express platform is much deeper underground (compared to the cheap trench construction American standard) and even has an escalator. Escalators are absent on most other stations throughout the city and even this seemingly deep tunnel only had one up escalator. However, there do seem to be decrepit elevators at some points for pregnant women, those with baby carriages, and the elderly. As I descended, the air got more oppressive and I began to feel this urge to almost go back up due to the increasingly stuffiness and dankness around me. I saw people begin to ride the escalator from below. Great, another train missed. That gave me a great educational opportunity to observe what lay ahead of me in great detail.

As I exit on the uptown express platform, the first thing that strikes my eye is how low the ceilings are. They are already low as a rule of thumb in NYC, but this deepest station takes the cake. As I look on what is just a few feet above me, I see brown rust and grime stretching in all directions covering everything. Huge protruding paint flakes covered with layers of industrial dust are everywhere and are rather uniform. It doesn't appear to be just one patch but every single bit of the ceiling.

It then occurred to me that the garbage and dirt above me is not an isolated incident or result of some construction project. It appeared to have been the NORMAL state of the platform. Unlike the thick steel beams every few meters, authorities didn't care enough or didn't have the funds to pay anybody to rip off the flakes and throw some paint on the ceiling. Such state of disrepair perhaps can be expected in underground sewage systems, old Soviet factories, or unused World War 2 bunker hallways and such. It was incredible sight to see at a mass transit hub. My entire attention was transfixed on the dark flaky garbage colored ceiling. The sheer unpleasantness of it was mesmerizing since it was everywhere without contrast to "repaired" patches or something resembling a ceiling of an often used complex. I thought about how very tall tourists would literally be touching their heads to filth.

My gaze slowly drifted down to the metal wall separating the two train tracks. The uneven rust and thick cover of industrial dust did not end. Visualize one of the large machines working at a landfill to scoop or bulldoze the garbage and dirt. The texture and color of both the ceiling and separator walls was same as the bulldozer's unwashed blade. It had similar clumps of unidentifiable matter stuck on to it. If one takes into account the floor and track (to which I'll get to in a moment), over 75% of the surface at a Manhattan midtown subway station was the same as one within a garbage compactor.

Numbly I turn my attention down and see water and garbage.

No I am not in Mumbai, Tbilisi, or Mexico City. This is an important city in United States and home to thousands of millionaires. There were literally pools of water and piles of garbage a couple yards away from me alongside the entire length of the visible train tracks. There was probably more water there than usual because of the rain but I have come across subway stations where water is always present regardless of conditions outside. I thought to myself that at least there's no water dripping onto the platform itself. As I walked further where there was a cluster of waiting people, there was liquid dripping from some source in the ceiling onto the waiting area. The ghastly visual was complete with a large crushed cockroach by the stairwell opening and a rat that scurried amidst the garbage and water bottles by the tracks. Some of the water bottles in question had such a thick layer of industrial dirt on them and seemed to be so embedded into the ground to suggest possibility of weeks or even months of being there.

What brought a nauseating feeling was not the fact of being in a dungeon the interior of which is not even suited for an overcrowded prison in Pakistan or Iran. It was the fact that such a garbage filled filthy dungeon is totally accepted by millions of transit users in one of the richest cities of a supposed superpower. Millions of people spend thousands of hours of their life waiting down there and enjoying the scenery with all of their 5 senses. I had a strong urge to videotape and take photographs of these scenes just in case they get closed down tomorrow because of some public health decree. Of course they wont disappear since they've been getting slightly more filthy every year due to continual fiscal situation within NYC governance. And then an absurd realization came over me that if people were to stand with their gaping mouths while taking many pictures, they could theoretically get stopped by the authorities. I am not sure whether post-911 camera photography ban is still in place but the mere legalistic possibility added to the absurdity.

The people at the platform were not he happiest looking bunch. Their facial expressions were those of downright misery and hopelessness. There was some unfriendly anger scattered on the faces of the business suit wearing whites in their 30s, but most in the waiting cluster had a resigned unhappy look. Importance of portable music is clearly on display here. It is amazing that residents of New York City (city that the world thinks itself very familiar with from endless movies and overfly shots of the skyscrapers) could come to a point where they accept the squalor of their infrastructure. Their faces tell that they feel it, are subconsciously unnerved by it, but have trained to suppress it and become resigned. Some individuals, finding nothing pleasant to look at, fidgeted and paced while occasionally leaning to look for the train. There were no overhanging electronic screens like in London (which doesn't have the best subway in the world mind you) to notify when the next train is coming or when any trains are coming. It seemed we've spent a long time down there but it was just a few minutes.

It's a wonder that the MTA transit strikes don't happen more often considering the average salary of about 50 grand for those toiling for years in the garbage and rodent filled darkness. Perhaps the threats of fining a million dollar per day against the unions and other Giuliani era tactics work after all.

The train that arrived was the new silver model used on the green line. It was already caked with splotches of brown dirt and it seemed unthinkable that there could be an older model in its place. Of course most NYC trains are indeed the older dimmer lit models used more often to service connections to minority neighborhoods. Those trains don't have the cutting edge technology of telling you what time it is or what the next stop is without the occasional garbled barking from the wired audio. The people on the train weren't much happier and greeted the newcomers with looks of downright hostility. The whole miserable experience was only ended with climbing out into the rainy street outside.

No words can describe the platform in question adequately. Please, whenever you happen to be in NYC, visit the 59th Street Lexington green line uptown express waiting area and see for yourself. It is the best illustration of the infrastructural rot found throughout the whole organism that is United States. Don't mind the surface coating of middlemen stores stuffed with products produced by foreign factories. Get underground since that's the real America. If midtown Manhattan station has the lowest functional minimum of funding and maintenance (while serving millions of residents and serving as window to the world for millions of tourists), what hope for livability do cities like Detroit have? Below is a picture that is not as bad as the station I described but gives a taste for the average quality found elsewhere in the New York system.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, June 20, 2009

American oligarchy and taxation

Increasing percent of budget funded by richest 1% shows dramatic growth in the power of the oligarchs. Key data by conservative "think tanks" hides a call for increased government involvement in plain sight. 

Over the past 3 decades we have seen systematic creation and funding of dozens of prominent "foundations", "institutes", "universities", and "charitable organizations"(in reality being clusters of hired ideologues organized as so called think tanks) that promote reduction of government influence on American oligarchs. Many of these organizations serve as disinformation/public relations propaganda factories to divide and conquer scientists, politicians, economists, and intellectuals as a whole. They are funded by numerous oligarchs (a person rich enough to have extra money to spend on influencing political structures to make even more money and having the psychological will to do it consistently) and have been an effective propaganda arm of the social movement started during Reagan's ascendancy.

Many of the financiers of these propaganda factories are second and third generation oligarchs such as Richard Mellon Schaife. Schaiffe is credited as one of the founding fathers of the Reagan conservative movement and he single-handedly took it upon himself to fund character assassination of Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Schaiffe isn't even an oligarch rich enough to be in the top 100 Forbes list and yet he was able to (through spending enough money on ideological public relations) get millions of foot soldiers and believers for the conservative movement. Whereas some of the original titans of industry, like John D. Rockefeller, sometimes came from humble backgrounds, the children and grandchildren of the tycoons are pure bred aristocracy. Mr. Schaiffe, as such, lives in a social bubble even more isolated from daily realities of most Americans than a French nobility in the 18th century (due to ease of international travel and greater technology gaps between the classes). The heirs see the government as the only organization with enough potential force and legitimacy to influence and stifle the expression of their desires within the world. Many had grandfathers who had their fortunes and organization split or partly suppressed by early 20th century government trust busting and FDR regulations. Instead of dedicating all their energies to aggressively growing the mega businesses from the ground up, the heirs just needed to prevent reversals and hire competent managers. This allowed them to have enough free time to play around with influencing government policy for further enrichment.

Buying out thousands of intellectuals and scientists by giving them salaries in ideological organizations proved to be an effective and relatively cheap way of doing so. The sheer amount of propaganda literature churned out, convinced many college educated and people much poorer than the oligarchs (those making less than 100 grand a year), that government really is the problem when it comes to helping most citizens. Many of the educated whites in America saw themselves as having the potential to make it as big as the oligarchs and thus began to preemptively attack the government. They counted the chickens before they are hatched and said to themselves, "well I will work hard and be successful like those people and nobody better take any of my income to help those uneducated lazies".

The people calling themselves middle class saw the hyper rich as role models. This psychology contributed to the incorrect perception and belief in the idea that it was the uneducated poor who holding the middle class back financially by leeching through the government. The "middle class" thus sided with the small amount of oligarchs when it comes to influencing the government to not interfere in the economy too much. They directly contributed to the poor falling further behind. The oligarchs however, saw the middle class as knowledgeable multitudes trying to get into the oligarch boat, and consistently prevented that by using the uneducated poor through irrelevant wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage.

We saw an absurd scenario develop where the oligarchs relax on a boat and encourage their envious middle class lapdogs (holding on to the edge) to kick the drowning poor still in the water. The rich then yell at the drowning poor to pull at the legs of the lapdogs holding on to the edge (because the lapdogs are no good godless liberals or some other nonsense). The government here are the crew members assisting with prying fingers off the edge and firing cannons at other ships. The blacks and the Hispanics would be those who already drowned through the efforts of the white poor angrily struggling in the water. We now see many ships joining together through globalization with some high rise planks connecting them and the rich mingling and enjoying each others company. The struggle in the water becomes even more violent and desperate.

Many of the thinks tanks (thought only dedicated to evolution of specific propaganda) hide under the umbrella of philanthropy that makes a mockery of actual physical philanthropic efforts of early 20th century tycoons who built hospitals and universities for the poor. This Reaganite "philanthropy" consists of promoting an idealogy of trickle down economics and reduction of government interference in the oligarch's mode of action. Undoubtedly there is some real charitable philanthropy going on as well that serves as an effective public cover. From utilitarian perspective however, the sheer damage done by propaganda tanks to poorest 50% of Americans through PR (and corresponding reduction in government services for education, science, medicine, and consumer protection) vastly outweighs the benefits for the poor from some token scholarship grants and other physical help. For example, George C Marshal "Institute" was funded by entities like ExxonMobil to give money to actual scientists to betray their field and lie about climate change and carcinogenic properties of cigarettes. Many of the propaganda tanks cross link their funding and pass money through chains to avoid direct responsibility. The Schaiffe family is responsible for starting 4 propaganda tanks. One of them, the Sarah Scaife "Foundation", contributed to the same George Marshal Institute that is fighting against consumer warning labels and clean air.

There are hundreds of such examples of propaganda tanks around the world masquerading themselves by various degrees of actual scientific and charitable work. These perception factories have been very effective at co-opting thousands of American intellectuals, researchers, and scientists by paying them to either do meaningless work to hurt the poor or by outbidding their labor and smarts away from genuine organizations that try to be as empirical as possible.

Sometimes however, the actual research done for the purposes of propaganda can backfire by showing in incredible detail the opposite of what's being promoted.

Returning back to the actual title of this article, lets take a look at some of the data provided by the Heritage Foundation. Heritage Foundation is one of the more powerful propaganda tanks for the American conservative movement. It also receives a bit of the Schaife octopus money (although Schaife is one of thousands of people rich enough to give substantial amounts to ambitious politicians who then promote minimal government and who dont care who they need to make an alliance with for money) and actively collaborates with printed media arms of the Republican party such as the Wall Street Journal.

Heritage Foundation has a number of graphs on their website that tries to sell an idea that the rich are being disproportionately burdened by government taxation. The graphs show the richest 1% having paid an increasingly greater share of the total annual revenue collected by the government compared to the poorest 50% of the people. Lets look at one such graph (click graph to enlarge):

It says that the richest 1% paid close to 40% of the tax revenue collected in 2006 while the poorest 50% of the people paid 3%. That is supposed to elicit outrage in the reader in that progressive taxation makes the rich pay many times more and thus unfairly singles them out while many of the poor not only don't pay taxes but get tax refunds. The trend of the top 10% and 1% of richest Americans contributing an increasing % share of the tax revenue (since the early 1980s when Reagan and propaganda tanks took over by the way) is supposed to demonstrate that not only is economic inequality not increasing, but that the fairness of the system is actually decreasing with the rich being singled out for burdens.

The sheer impudence of such argument is best demonstrated at a glance by the same IRS tax revenue reports that is being used. In 2006, the government collected 2,178 billions of dollars from all income receipts to fund its budget and function. The Heritage Foundation 40% figure of the total receipts is 871 billion dollars of the total budget.

The top marginal percent for income tax was 35% in 2006 (for those making over 350,000 grand a year and thus falling into the top 1%). 871 billion includes money collected from capital gains. Only the top 1% is primarily effected by capital gains taxes since their incomes are the most dramatically augmented by capital gains money generation (through stocks and such).

In 2006, the top 1% made 1,844 billions of dollars from all their taxable activities (if they did contribute 40% as claimed by pro-capitalist think tanks). As you see above, a large chunk of that money was generated from capital gains (that the bottom 90% of the population virtually don't come into contact with as part of their annual income). However, the total income was not taxed at 35% throughout since various capital gains (short, long) have taxable limits that are lower than 35%. If all their income was taxed at the same top rate of 35%, it would be very easy to calculate the total wealth that the top 1% made in a year ( total of 871 billion dollars as 35% of the whole).

If the richest 1% ( around 1.5 million people out of the 150 million taxable workers in 2006) made a total of 1,844 billion dollars (23% of all the taxable income money in the society for a year) and gave away 871 billion dollars of it to the government to make that 40% of the total 2,178 receipt contribution, that would mean they gave away 871.2 billion dollars (47% taxed in total) to the government, funding almost half of it. And this is according to the propaganda tank defending them and playing with data as much as possible.

The poor babies.

After taxes, a handful of the crybaby parasites (less than half of 1% of total American population) have half as much money to play around with as the entire American federal government with all its nuclear submarines, millions of workers, and agencies. They have almost as much money as the government of a "superpower" before taxes. Heritage Foundations data actually broadcasts this to the world trying to sell this as some sort of injustice to people much poorer. The taxes collected from the top 1% bring 2.5 more money than the funding of the entire Russian federal government.

It's remarkable that the biggest demonstration of rising inequality (oligarch's increasing tax burden in absence of rising top income tax rates) is shown as the opposite of what it is. If for example, the top 1%'s share of the budget contribution grew to 70% by 2020 instead of 40% (using same top 35% income tax level), it would mean they doubled their income at the expense of everybody else. The poorest 50% contributing less to income tax burden is not a sign that they are becoming more parasitic but that they are becoming increasingly destitute.

Right after World War 1, the top income tax rate was over 70% to help pay for the conflict. In mid to late 1920s, the top rate fell to 25% with consequences that perhaps should not be used by economic libertarians as a social success story. Throughout the 1950s-1970s period, the richest paid up to over 80% in income taxes. What do we remember about that period? A husband could go to work and support a stay at home wife and children with one paycheck as well as have a house and 2 cars. The middle class was growing rapidly and people felt so wealthy, empowered, and secure that they actually decided to help the poorest members of the country through Great Society. Money really did trickle down back then, with the IRS making it trickle down from the oligarchs to most of the people. Majority of the population was not over taxed as much as today, did not resent IRS as much ideologically, and weren't as fearful of the future and other Americans. One of the most corrupt oligarch backed presidents, Richard Nixon, (who began to destructive campaign against the poor with the drug prohibition) was even forced from office by the educated Americans. The decade of 1960s, with the richest paying over 70% in taxes and the bottom 50% having a larger contribution to the IRS, was one of prosperity compared to today.

(click graph to enlarge)

Heritage Foundation actually states that the US system is highly progressive (maybe they're comparing us to the role models of South America instead of hells on earth that are Germany and Scandinavia). Billionaires like Steve Forbes actually ran for office on the single issue of having a flat income tax. Sure, the flat income tax was a good easy way to fund budgets in Eastern Europe in recent years with corresponding social side effects of creating enormous income inequality in the former socialist space. When applied on an existing incredibly unequal society such as United States, the flat tax would just dramatically accelerate oligarch ability to influence the government structures since their money versus the government would grow. There are plenty of superior tax schemes like Land Value Tax that focus on real moneyed interests like land lords to create a more equitable and efficient economic system.

People who don't have enough money to buy politicians and policies must not allow themselves to fall for propaganda organizations (many of which actually get tax free status as "non-profits") that are becoming almost as socially detrimental as organized religion. It is very hard for educated people to side with poor rural whites, blacks, and Hispanics against the oligarchs due to vast cultural differences. Strategically however, an alliance against the

oligarchy makes far more sense for middle class and national survival. Modern Internet fund raising allows mass small donation funding of anti-oligarch propaganda tanks (any education that has a social/political goal motive, influence seeking, and self interest based rather than purely empirical is propaganda).

That is already happening to a degree with left-center organizations emerging. People making less than $100,000 a year still do not have as much money as the rich to spend on anti-oligarch PR but their message would have more effect in Hispanic and black demographics that are resistant to conservative propaganda tank economic messages in the first place. Religion and nationalism are diminishing as wedge issues for the rich to exploit so there is opportunity for majoritarian push to get the top income tax brackets back above 50%. The argument that the rich and their businesses will be driven abroad is a false one since that that is happening anyway and since social networks of government control take time to build. If 100 of the American rich decided to escape to Germany to escape the higher taxes (but still lower than in 50s and 60s), they'd have even more of a hard time influencing and getting to know German political elites. If they decide to emigrate to South America, then perhaps they'd be in their proper place at last and rid American society of bad rubbish.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ahmadinejad is Very Capable of Suppressing Protests in Iran

The students in Iran aren't up against a foreign backed puppet, a decadent old monarch, or an impudent oligarch. They are up against a former elite special forces leader who specialized in divide and conquer tactics, intelligence, and asymmetric warfare.

The students in Iran aren't up against a foreign backed puppet, a decadent old monarch, or an impudent oligarch. They are up against a former elite special forces leader who specialized in divide and conquer tactics, intelligence, and asymmetric warfare. Ahmadinejad was one of the founders and high ranking organizers of the cream of the crop of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Quds force. The Revolutionary Guards are the private army of the Iranian ruling party with their own navy, special forces, intelligence, and militias. The IRG is a separate loyal army that competes with the regular army for resources and gets privileged access when it comes to training, talent acquisition, and funding. This competition is analogous to how Waffen SS in Nazi Germany was the vanguard of National Socialism, competed with the regular army, and often got preferential treatment when it came to talent, recruitment, cutting edge technology, and political influence.

Although IRG has a public ideology for recruitment purposes, its main task ( of keeping the ruling party in power ) forces it into very pragmatic decision making. The Quds force is IRG's CIA/special forces equivalent and like all special/intelligence services worldwide, is completely pragmatic when it comes to alliances with ideological enemies to achieve is goals. The Quds force is not above funding itself with drug money, bribes, and covert business dealings. IRG also employs thousands of ideological youngsters in a civilian militia (Basij) through using the clergy's infrastructure.

Lets make a semi-humorous analogy of what Iranian students are up against using American Republican party in 2004 as an example. Imagine if in 2004, the Republican party had a well funded army to "preserve the Reagan Revolution." This Reagan Revolution Guards had its own bases and access to tanks, factories, aircraft, and almost as many soldiers as the regular American military. The best of the Reagan guards were in elite Freedom Corps that combined CIA, FBI, NSA, homeland security, and Green Berets. Imagine if the Reagan Guards also employed an enormous civilian militia consisting of young Baptist zealots who were called say, College Republicans. Imagine if College Republicans were given legal power to assist the police, the Reagan Guard military, and did the bidding of the top GOP chairman. Imagine if GOP also consisted of a tight alliance of oligarchs and the clergy ( ha ha ). Imagine if like ROTC, College Republicans had local headquarters in every college and sent geeky religious goons to break up drinking parties, harass couples, beat up homosexuals, organize pro-regime rallies, disrupt opposition gatherings, and had the power to call in for police reinforcement whenever they felt like it. Finally, imagine that it financially paid to be a part of the College Republicans and the Reagan Guards since the GOP party oligarchs controlled the major industries of the country and only shared the profits with supporters through job perks and higher salaries. 2004 comes along and GOP mullahs only allow George Bush and John McCain to run. They then blatantly manipulate the elections with state controlled media to swing the elections towards Bush and use College Republicans and the police to make sure there isn't any unrest.

Makes one's blood boil doesn't it? In most of the world, including United States, there are always more uneducated poor religious people than bourgeois liberals and secular intellectuals. In Iran, the uneducated and the poor have been effectively manipulated by the wealthy clergy for close to thirty years.

The IRG are there to pacify the urban areas (where the intellectuals and middle class are dominant) and to counterbalance the underfunded non-ideological military. The students are substantially split between themselves along class and education lines through the Basij student union. Ahmadinejad knows that pacification of youth is key in a country where the average age is very low compared to aging European countries. Just like Putin promoted youth organization NASHI in Russia, Ahmadinejad made sure to promote Basij as a loyal student body. How reliable they are is yet to be seen.

NASHI is organized primarily around nationalism and job perks just like Hitler youth was. Basij is also organized around nationalism and job perks but also has the religious fundamentalist element. Considering that neither NASHI, college republicans, or Hitler youth have any monopoly on nationalism, that might be the weakest bond within Basij. In terms of job perks, the current regime has not made much effort to diversify from oil and unlike Russia they don't have too many other commodities to withstand the severe recent drop in oil prices. Job perks as an incentive may increasing lay in the promise of a liberal reformist movement. That leaves fundamentalist Islam as key glue to motivate the Basij youth. As most people know the trademark of the deeply religious youths is geekyness, unsexy clumsy prudishness, and often sadistic authoritarian unpleasantness of the uneducated. Iranian youths like youths anywhere are not immune to ridicule, fashion, trend following, internet, and the appeal of a sexier more liberated society. It is not known how long Basij can exert energies against the pro Mousavi protests taking this into account.

That really leaves the job of suppression and the last line of defense in the hands of the special forces, intelligence, and IRG themselves. Ahmadinejad is relatively young, cunning, and energetic. As a pragmatic former intelligence officer, he has sharp strategic neural capacity to do problem solving. He might not be Putin level or George Bush Sr. level intellect, but the growing role of the position of the Iranian president in recent years (who isn't supposed to be in control of foreign policy), shows that Ahmadinejad is very capable at building alliances and increasing personal power. As such, it's very possible that he'll be able to find enough allies to create a believable impression that the protests are dying out, do mass swarm arrests in smaller cities to scare the key opposition leaders in Tehran, and string the world along until the bulk of the students are demoralized and dispersed. It remains to be seen whether Khomeni and Ahmadinejad have enough access to economic resources to create such a coalition.

Stumble Upon Toolbar