Why capitalism will fail…

…and, yes, I do understand that such a title as that places the author in one of those troubling lights, one that suggests he is either a rock-throwing, graffiti spraying, dreadlock-topped and angry young anarchist post-grad whose revolutionary thesis in the form of a graphic historical novel that attempts to redefine Bakunin as prophet and seer for the 21st century… or one of those “new age commies” with a lumberjack beard and a man-bun, looking to save the Earth by wrapping his lettuce, carrots, celery, e3ddb24c898167db1bee81136ed85e50--lumberjack-men-man-bunand radishes in planet-friendly, wax-process paper rather than storing it in plastic Zip-loc bags, the sort of zeitgeist common man of the 21st century who stays home and watches the kids while writing a socialist cookbook-cum-manifesto titled, “Thirty-seven ways to eat the rich.”

As much as I might like you to think of me in synch with such a seductive, rebel sort of image, along with the manly, disheveled ‘look’ that goes with it?  As much as that might boost my image?  Let me assure you, up front and out loud, that I am neither of those things, but probably both… in spirit at least, if not in fashion… and infinitely more radical and dangerous in fact than any Marvel-inspired stereotype you could imagine, armed as I am with opinions based upon facts and referential analysis of historical precedence.  But hey… relax, these are only ideas, little seeds I like to plant in the minds of the innocent and the unwary.

But enough about me… let’s talk about you.

The economy, they tell me, is booming.  Are you getting your share?  Of course not.  Saddled with student loan debt for a principle sum that seems to grow the more you pay 3b3e6d3fc7b3067f5a30afd139da02beinto it, money you borrowed for a degree that would give you a decent living if it translated into real-world value, perhaps you already know that the possibility you could own a home of your own probably seems like a pipe dream.  Mom and Dad might have left you theirs when they died and they certainly would have, but for the inordinately inflated cost of the medicine and health care that didn’t quite give them the longevity they’d hoped for.  Drug companies, co-pays and deductibles impoverished them, took what was left of their savings after their retirement plan succumbed to whatever economic reason that caused the fund to go broke.  They lost their home in the process… and you?  Well, if they were still alive, you would likely be taking care of your parents.  Sadly, those of you whose parents have survived may yet be burdened with their end-of-life care.  And… since you can barely afford to take care of yourself and a family, if you’ve been optimistic enough to marry and have children… how will you take on the more and greater debt that comes with such an added responsibility?

If that’s not your situation?  If you are you doing very well today in an economy that provides for the wealthy by borrowing from the future of everyone else… if you enjoy the benefits of corporate welfare like other wealthy Americans with a stake in huge monopolistic enterprises like Amazon… if you pay no taxes whatsoever?  How fortunate for you, but stop for a moment and think… how long can this go on?

For the rest of us, who are not so lucky?  Hyperbole and hypotheticals notwithstanding, the facts tell us this:  the opportunities that existed for our parents are not as prevalent today and for us as it was back then and for them.

It’s not hard to pinpoint the cause of such unprecedented economic inequality.  The facts are there, though hidden and mystified by those who manipulate the truth.  You ask, “What is truth?”  Ask a huindrd people and you will get a hundred different answers, but the truth doesn’t change.  Truth is not a marketable commodity.  Every fact, figure, or representation of truth is only and absolutely binary in terms of its reality.  A thing is either true… or it is untrue.  Truth cannot be enhanced, varnished, polished, rendered more attractive in any way except that it will detract from its essential being.  A fact is either true or it is not.  There is no liberal truth, no libertarian truth, no conservative truth.  There is only truth.  Everything else?  Dross and manipulation.

Convincement, the result of long decades of propaganda in the form of marketing and hucksterism brings us down to the pinnacle of possibilities in government evolution under the influence of capitalism… and what doesdt.common.streams.streamserver that look like, exactly?  In 2016 it led to the presidency of the ultimate huckster and capitalist poster boy, Donald Trump, the current skipper of a sinking ship of state that better resembles… and could very well be modeled after… the example set by the present Russian plutocracy under Putin.  Wealthy American oligarchs and right-wing corporatists now direct and control virtually every segment of the executive branch of our Federal government.  They’ve begun dismantling benchmarks, controls, and safeguards that have been established over long decades of progress in protections for the average American from the growing influence of monopolies and corporate monoliths.

I’ve often and unapologetically labeled Trump’s administration “fascistic” in the past and even progressives have criticized me for doing so, but it fits the description quite well if we can hear the opinion of people who lived in a time when fascism threatened the safety and freedoms of the entire world.  If you don’t accept my characterization, then read this… from Henry A. Wallace, Vice President under Franklin Delano Roosevelt (quoted in the New York Times, April 9, 1944) and then tell me you do not sense an eerie feeling of historical déjà vu….

Henry-Wallace-1947-resize-1

“The really dangerous American fascist… is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

(Snooze alert – in that the following two paragraphs may include boring descriptive reprsentations of economic concepts, but I will try to be brief.)

If we take the concept of capitalism down to its basics, it could be explained as an economic theory based upon the concept of property and commercial exchange that transcends the original method of trade, which was barter… a simple swap, where one commodity was traded with another comparatively valued commodity based upon the needs of both parties.  Capitalism renders trade infinitely more efficient by introducing commodity exchange with the use of money, which is any medium that represents value in terms of the need for which it is exchanged.  Trade assumes both the concept of property and the value of money.

Without getting into the details where the devil resides, capitalism is driven by needs… by the satisfaction of human needs and desires through trade.  But there is no equity built into the system that we know as a free market economy.  It’s all about competition for profit, some reward of extra value acquired by obtaining greater value in the trade than that value required to produce the commodity traded….. and blahblahblah… blah.

Simply put, capitalism is based on greed with the rewards going to those who can get more of everything than everybody else.  It collapses every now and then due to massive inequities and inflated values inherent with inevitable institutional dishonesty when greed is the defining energy source… and when it does collapse, everyone suffers.  Greed is at its peak today, so get ready for another major economic disaster.

I wrote the following assessment on Facebook back in October of 2016, before Trump was even elected, when everyone could not believe that the fascist pretender had a chance of becoming the “leader of the free world…”

“The pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry have grown fat and rich by developing pain medications that have caused drug dependencies in millions of people who would never have otherwise been led into a dependent lifestyle. In the meantime, criminalization of street drugs has led to mass incarcerations and created a for-profit prison industry that makes millions off the labor of prisoners in a new

14641896_1836548209891699_4428653627476757908_n

“The Lord provides” = Jacob Burck 1934

brand of slavery.  In the meantime, the price of life saving drugs which have been somewhat affordable in the past and necessary for the survival of millions of people are systematically and suddenly overvalued beyond the reach of any but the most wealthy Americans.

“Bankers commit crimes that result in catastrophic financial losses and economic collapse nationwide, putting thousands out of their homes and others out of their jobs. Not only does our government not prosecute these insidious parasites, but rewards them by bailing out their banks while they set up roadblocks that make it it virtually impossible for homeowners to come back from foreclosure.  Injustice abounds.  Social and economic equality does not exist in any discernible measure. We are not living in a post racial society, nor do we enjoy the same freedoms and opportunity that were prevalent only fifty years ago. We are moving quickly toward an oligarchy of race, privilege and wealth that fairly ignores the concept of the common good of all people in a democratic republic that once conceded this primary and indisputable fact… that we are all created equal.”

Tell me things have gotten better since then.  I dare you.  Capitalism will fail us again and again and again and again and… et cetera, et cetera… ad infinitum.

Okay… I get tired of criticizing things as they are.  I want to talk about things as they should be.  My next essay here won’t consist of any additional critiques… no continuation of an ongoing though relevant screed listing the numerous evils of American capitalism.  Instead, I will begin to present an alternative possibility, a thing to be accomplished, not through some violent Marxist revolution, but American style.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something absolutely different and quintessentially… unequivocally American as… you know….

 

 

The Green New Deal in a readable format and a video…

For the purpose of clarity and for my own use in comprehending the content, I copied and pasted the text of the legislation for the Green New Deal (House Resolution 109) into an MSWord .doc file and reformatted the language in less daunting form so it can be read more easily (hopefully).  It contains the same language, but in a smoother context, one that I find renders it less intimidating so I could actually make sense of it.

I thought I would pass it on to you, so hopefully you’ll take the time to read it.  Granted, it’s not much in the headlines these days, given the feud and fuss over the de-fanged and blacked-out Mueller Report, which, it turns out, is quite an indictment of Trump as it is… but rest assured, the people who rolled out the Green New Deal are not about to give up and neither should you.  The problems it points out are not going to vanish and the solutions it presents are bold, viable, and absolutely necessary for the future of us all.

I’ve included links to both the original text and my own format below:

If you like to read legislative text in the raw, (some people are like that) go here:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text

But if you are legislatively challenged and want to read the MSWord outline I created for easier reading, go here:
Click here to read the Green New Deal in plain English format

Feel free to copy it and pass it on to anyone who might benefit.  The more people who are aware of what it actually says, the less chance there is that Koch and Exxon funded think-tanks can fool us by trying to put out disinformation.

I’ll be writing more about it in the future, but I thought that this profoundly interesting and even engaging introduction to the content of the program might be worth a look:

Mobs, momentum, consensus, and the race to be the first to cast a stone…

Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling aloud for impeachment and a Republican group is buying advertisements on Fox that call for accountability.  The media, of course, is aflame with indignation… somewhat slow to arise, but welcome nonetheless.  How sad that it took so long for the “I” word to surface with any substance behind it, if indeed, the mob sounds and pitchforks can be considered substance,  Yet, even now, before any of these leaders have surely had sufficient time to read, much less digest the entire Mueller report… and before they have seen the likely most damaging information that the frog-faced Trump-friendly philistine Barr has seen fit to withhold from intelligent eyes, they are ready now, after more than two years of obvious and in-your-face criminality and corruption, to finally call up the posse, to saddle up and ride.  Sad that it took so long for our Congress to finally grow a spine.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m happy they’re so motivated now, dismayed perhaps… knowing that such lynch mobs sometimes lose their steam… knowing that the courts could now become the new and crippling blockades to action… knowing that the candidates and the righteously indignant whoevers will then point to and blame the judiciary as the new stumbling block to justice… knowing that this is but the beginning, so far from the end of it… assuming that Trump is no Nixon, having neither the wit nor the will to resign, but will fight this to the bitter end.

In the meantime, he will continue to fragment and dismantle what remains of our Federal government, a task that pleases many of those who now decry and defame him with newfound zeal for integrity, born-again passion for justice.  And by the time the mob starts to gather, it’s not really about integrity or courage… is it?  Life goes on and Pence is waiting in the wings.  The cure could be worse than the cancer.

Me?  I wanted the man impeached from day one, but I’m still reading the Mueller report and I don’t have a staff to do all the reading and write me a summary… and I never really trusted the media, so I’ll get back to you later with the substantive stuff.

For now?  Save me at least one very big stone that I may guiltless in good conscience cast with all righteous indignation and wrath.

Nancy Pelosi vs Franklin Delano Roosevelt… will the real Democratic Party please stand up !!

In a 60 Minute interview that aired on Sunday last, CNBC reports that Nancy Pelosi said, “I do reject socialism.  If people have that view, that’s their view.  That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”  All due respect to Nancy Pelosi, de facto leader of the party in minority that ascended once again to control at least the House, sailing into control on the winds that filled their sails… winds of change that emanated from progressive Democrats and other activists within her party determined to reverse the trends of economic inequality, corporate control of politics, and right wing hegemony, including candidates who were willing to openly identify themselves as democratic socialists… but, perhaps she’s not listening, or even knows the electorate as well as she believes.

It’s obvious, however, that the Democratic Party, the same Party that gave America its longest running, wildly popular President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is no longer the party of the New Deal, nor the kind of party that could so embrace the common good of all its members, giving Americans a legislative agenda that offered us Social Security, the WPA, the FDIC, the National Labor Relations Board, the Glass–Steagall Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority and countless other bold social programs designed to lift our nation up from the economic collapse in 1929 that was caused by the unparalleled greed of irresponsible bankers, financiers, and monopolistic industrialists.  These programs were vilified by conservatives in their day as a dangerously anti-American socialist agenda which, even in the current conservative climate, are today accepted as inevitable, necessary, beneficial programs that are every bit as American as Mom, the flag, and butter crusted, cinnamon infused, and sugar topped, sweet apple pie.

Nonetheless, and for years now, particularly during the past four decades… since conservatives in both parties canonized Ronald Reagan and began to sing his profane little tune of corporate welfare and the mythology of trickle down economics, Democrats have moved increasingly to the right with their economic policies, suffering a major tectonic shift, claiming territory once held entirely by Republicans, during the Clinton administration.

To be sure, these neo-liberal Democrats retained those “radical” ideas that were inviolable in the minds of most Democrats, like equal “opportunity”, abortion rights, women’s rights, and other fashionable causes célèbres that identified them with a liberal brand, but only in so far as they did not compete with a conservative economic agenda that favored the heavy corporate donors who were so enamored of Clintonian Democracy.  These neo-liberal disciples of the apostle Billary now control the DNC and operate the strings of the corporate media like puppet masters in a Punch and Judy drama in which they assume the role of “Not Trump” as opposed to, say, the Party of Economic and Social Reform. So… where does that leave the progressives in the Party?

What does that bode for the future, when the leadership of the Democratic Party has no desire to aid or entertain the “green dream” of so many of its younger membership, now clearly the more active, not really interested in neo-liberal politicians who pat them on the head and tell them to get in line and accept the same sort of incrementalism and corporatist theories that have made paupers of the majority of working Americans.  Big labor pays Nancy’s freight while corporations spend millions in an effort to make unions illegal.  And our college-educated minority?  They are, too many of them, in debt and in servitude to their student loans for life… like most Americans who try to get ahead… saddled with crippling debt and no clear path to the elusive, if not mythic, American Dream.  Our aged are in danger of being priced out of medical care, in spite of Medicare… and they will be for the unforeseeable, and for some, very short future… for as long as pharmaceutical companies act like mafiosi with medications that should be as inexpensive as clean water, which is less expensive and much less clean than it was forty years ago… and in some areas?  Toxic.  Does any of this sound familiar?

But why talk about distressed populations?  They were abandoned long ago for lack of political clout, worthy now of little more than lip service.  Nancy Pelosi says in effect, if not with the words, “Let them eat cake.”  Does she imagine herself so correct that she no longer listens?  It’s time for the Party of FDR to go back to its roots.  Let’s hope that it’s not too late.  If the Democratic Party of today seems impotent now in relation to Trump?  Where will they stand next year when they demand more loyalty of the electorate than they’ve ever given us in return.

The parallax view from here….

“As an American citizen of German birth I finally testify that I am painfully familiar with certain political trends. Spiritual intolerance, political inquisitions, and declining legal security, and all this in the name of an alleged ‘state of emergency.’ … That is how it started in Germany.”  Thomas Mann in response to accusations by the House Un-American Activities Committee that he was a communist.

74a72e9d61ef6e8fb175031b4318632dThe novelist who gave us a classic novel, The Magic Mountain, was an early and fierce critic of Adolf Hitler and the poisonous culture of the Nazis.  Because of his public, even fearless words against them, he was forced to flee his native Germany in 1933, eventually finding refuge in the United States where he became a citizen in 1944.  Yet, even in America, he found himself similarly threatened and hounded by the forces of McCarthyism as he publicly protested and wrote against the oppression of American writers and intellectuals during the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee hearings that amounted to nothing less than fear mongering persecution, eventually leading to blacklisting and even to prison sentences as in the case of the Hollywood Ten.  As a result of his public criticism of yet another fascist movement, he was finally forced to leave the U.S. and return to Europe.

The McCarthy era was a low point in American history, proving beyond doubt that the fears of those Americans like Sinclair Lewis, who in 1935 imagined the seed of fascism could find fertile soil in the American psyche, were more than prophetic,  The House Un-American Activities Committee and the later McCarthy hearings in the Senate demonstrated that “it can happen here” and it did to the extent that the foundations of intellectual oppression and propagation of fear was laid.  All that was lacking was the proper demagogue, a role that McCarthy tried desperately to fill.  Thankfully he was thwarted.  The saving graces of our nation at the time were the decency and strength of its leadership, as exemplified in people like attorney Joseph Welch who challenged McCarthy at the Army hearings, and the power of the free press, the courage of journalists like Edward R. Murrow.  The eventual shaming of the demagogues who very nearly destroyed the character and intent of our Constitution was inevitable, but not before they exacted a terrible price on their victims, literally destroying the reputations and careers of thousands of people on the basis of lies and baseless accusation, creating an environment of fear and mistrust.

All of that seems now to have returned and we are once again faced with the ugly specter of fascist intent and unprecedented demagoguery in the person of Donald Trump.  Time and again, this amoral, despotic individual has proven himself invulnerable to every criticism, moving by incremental steps toward autocracy by pushing against the moral and institutional constraints that we always believed were inviolable.  He toys with Congress, attacks our courts, vilifies his critics, challenges and ruthlessly mocks the authority of anyone in our government who tries to oppose him.

On any given day, one could point to any one of a dozen of his actions as a dangerous precedent, the sort of behavior that would eventually bring down any previous politician… and yet, it almost appears as if he draws strength from every cry of “foul” that comes his way.  What is it that makes this man invulnerable?

Has he so wearied his critics with his lack of shame that they simply give up in frustration?  We know well enough that for all his faults, his enablers are willing to forego any appearance of personal integrity for the rewards they receive when he satisfies their corrupt intent, giving them the license they’ve always craved in pursuit of autocracy.  But now, even his greatest critics within the government seem impotent, utterly restrained from meaningful action against him.

Is it possible that they too see opportunity in the phenomena he’s unleashed?  Are they afraid of him?  Or merely and similarly as jaded as his enablers. The answers may not come from a normal perspective.  Perhaps they will come from a parallax view, an unpopular and skewed perspective from the fringes of our society, from a perspective that may no longer exist in our contemporary culture.  Perhaps it will come from the distance, from the past, from the echoes of what we once held dear but seem, somehow, to have lost.

Where is our Sinclair Lewis?
Where is our Thomas Mann?
Where is our Joseph Welch?
Where is our Edward R. Murrow?

Or have we become the very force that feeds the beast we fear, if not through outright support, then with silent acquiescence?  Is this present circumstance the sum of our failures, the substance of our corruption as a nation?  If we hope to survive, we’d better find out just what it is we have lost and regain it.  And soon.

Time is not our friend.

The next revolution will be televised… but will it survive the competition for ratings?

National priorities are too often shaped in a centralized fashion and in circles of focus and influence that entirely eliminate the application of a democratically discerned and representational administration of the will of the majority.  Too complex?  Simply put, then, we have allowed a culture of autocracy to usurp and assume not only the responsibilities of the self-governed, but the lion’s share of the economic benefits we have produced through our collective productivity.
Not unlike the same brand of top-down priorities that compelled the first Americans to write a firm letter to King George telling him to take his taxes and a hike simultaneously, while acting as though it was quite within their rights to govern themselves bottom-up without that divinely inspired autocracy the crown represented at the time.
At the time, it was one hell of an idea, and remarkably successful.  A fluke, perhaps, due to the fact that all the crowns in Europe were too busy competing with one another in global warfare over this and that trade dominion in other backwater continents and had not the time to care about a few British bumpkins in Boston and Philly… ordinary farmers and tradesmen with delusions of democratic grandeur.
We got lucky. Look what happened to the French.

They did not fare so well by half for all their fundamental revolutionary esprit.
Perhaps that’s why, as a nation, we eventually got soft, insulated as we were from the tyrannies and terrors of European conflict… until such time as our war profiteers saw profit to be had in our involvement, plunging us all into so much overseas warfare that we somehow got the idea it was our raison d’être, that we were the anointed defenders of… what? Freedom?
Under that curious brand we became the world’s unpaid mercenaries, this uber-militaristic nation with some apparent national will to martial all our nation’s resources toward maintaining a military power unparalleled in our time, quite at the expense of our own common welfare, in order to wage incessant war for this or that “ally”… though less, if at all,  in the name of some idealistic purpose than for commercial access to and control of such needful commodities as oil which belong to poorer, weaker nations… warfare in the name of profit… though we are quite in denial of the true reasons… and for the sake of what? Appearances? Hard to tell, but in so doing and by continuing to allow it, we’ve managed to create for ourselves an ever more parasitical autocracy than mad King George could have ever hoped to effect.
Maybe it’s time for another Philadelphia Brand course correction.
Maybe it’s time to write another letter… an email, perhaps, but this time with a lot of BCCs.  Not to the people who supposedly represent us in the seat of our government, but to all the CEOs of all the global corporations that own them and pull their various strings.
What, after all, do we really have to lose? And… who knows? Like those earlier Americans, we just might get lucky.

Racing toward a different kind of world with apathy and elan… America descending

I’ve written about this before in other venues, been criticized for the analogy accordingly, but I truly never better understood until recently, if at all, how the German people allowed such a bizarre, motley crew of bigoted fanatics, political extremists, and the outright criminally insane… how they allowed such dangerous, posturing fools as those surrounding Hitler to march them so proudly into self-destructive trends with such obvious intent from the outset.  One need only read Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, which was published in two volumes in 1925 & 1926 to understand how he might respond in the 1930’s and 1940’s as a leader of the German Reich.  The predictability was stunning.

AFP_L72YNBy the same token, one need only observe the people surrounding Trump… to have listened to everything Trump was saying before he was elected to the office of the presidency of the United States in order to not only know how he would respond to the power given him, but to accurately predict that he would seek to abuse the office, broach the legal limits thereof, and to personally enrich himself from a position of authority in our government.

Nonetheless, early and numerous critics of his amoral and despotic style notwithstanding, who among the red-hatted throngs that followed him from the start could possibly predict that Trump would so easily discern the corruption around him and use the profound lack of integrity extant in American politics today to his advantage in dismantling the very government and its Constitution which he is theoretically sworn to uphold and protect?  Certainly they cannot still be blind to his character… or, more properly, his lack thereof. Do they even care?  And if not, why not?

So many American people, like the Germans before them, seem to need and to love a strong man who will soothe their fears concerning uneasy perceptions of threats from within and without.  For all their denial… for those, at least, who do not say such things aloud for fear of criticism… his message is unwavering and infinitely clear.  It’s a very dark message.  Is it now the message of America?

I’m reminded of the Bible verse, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

I have no doubt that the critics of Hitler, those who were not fooled by their fears, could easily discern the subliminal truth in the evil of his message.  Were they happy enough to shrug their objections aside when the German economy rebounded as it re-armed itself with a mad sort of pride in its growing invincibility?  Is that why they let him continue?

They did, you know… let Hitler continue.  He could never have done what he did if they’d truly opposed him when opposition was possible.  Is that what’s happening here?