|Progressive Calendar 10.14.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2008 13:08:40 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 10.14.08 1. Poor people/CTV 10.14 5pm 2. RNC court watch 10.14 6pm 3. Sicko/film 10.14 6:30pm 4. Dorothy Day/film 10.14 6:30pm 5. Full moon howl 10.14 7pm 6. US warfare 10.14 7pm 7. US/Iran 10.14 7pm 8. Election/KFAI 10.15 11am 9. Womens rights 10.15 7pm 10. James Keye - Capitalism without rules 11. Chris Floyd - The 30-year lie of the market cult: The God That Failed 12. David Green - This just in: greed is not good 13. Mark Drolette - You can cry for us, Argentina 14. ed - The American Kiss (poem) --------1 of 14-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Poor people/CTV 10.14 5pm St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 10/14, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 10/15, 10am RNC 08: Stories from the Streets: Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign Footage from the streets of St. Paul during the "March for Our Lives". Cheri Honkala and Deeq Abdi share their experiences during the 2008 RNC. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. --------2 of 14-------- From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC court watch 10.14 6pm RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing court information, documentation and etc. RNC Court Watchers Meetings are every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our meetings. Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this intimidation, harassment and abuse! Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent people. Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405 Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M participate and help organize RNC court solidarity. For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! --------3 of 14-------- From: dgr [at] umn.edu Subject: Sicko/film 10.14 6:30pm Tuesday, Oct. 14th, 6:30 PM, Rondo Community Library in St. Paul (corner of Dale & University, free parking below library). FREE showing of Michael Moore's film SiCKO sponsored by the University of MN Labor Education Service. Explores what's wrong with the U.S. healthcare system through the stories of real people. Discussion to follow. All are welcome. Part of the monthly Labor & Community Film Series. For more information about the film series, email dgr [at] umn.edu --------4 of 14-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Dorothy Day/film 10.14 6:30pm Pax Salon: Film on Dorothy Day "Don't Call Me a Saint" Tuesday, October 14, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West 7th, St. Paul. Steve Pastic will show the film on Dorothy Day, titled "Don't Call Me a Saint." The film will be followed by a discussion on how Dorothy Day became a worker with the poor and destitute, as well as a pacifist. FFI: Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511. --------5 of 14-------- From: Sue Ann <mart1408 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Full moon howl 10.14 7pm Sacred Spring Full Moon Walk to Coldwater Spring Tuesday, October 14, 2008 Gather at 7 PM, south end of Minnehaha Park at 54th Street Honest to Earth - this is something to celebrate! First ever Full Moon Walk to Coldwater Spring - no more locked gates at Coldwater. The security contract was not renewed. The gates will be open 24/7. We will walk from the parking lot at 54th St. to Coldwater Spring! Traditional group howl! Directions: From Hwy 55/Hiawatha in south Minneapolis, turn East (toward the Mississippi) at 54th Street and circle around to your left into the pay parking lot. Or park on the west side Hwy 55 for free. --------6 of 14-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: US warfare 10.14 7pm Teach in: Learn More About US Warfare TUES, 10/14 @ 7pm @ May Day Bookstore @ 301 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis Learn more about the occupation of Iraq and beyond. Find out more about the war so that you can persuade others to join the anti-war movement and so that you can get your questions answered. Organized by the Anti-War Committee. --------7 of 14-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: US/Iran conflict 10.14 7pm "The U.S.-Iran Conflict in a Changing World:" Talk by William Beeman Tuesday, October 14, 7:00 PM, St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 3121 Groveland School Rd, Wayzata. Professor Beeman is Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota and President of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. Book Signing follows. Copies of Dr. Beeman's most recent book "The Great Satan vs. the Mad Mullahs: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other" available for purchase. Cosponsored by St. Luke Presbyterian Church and Women Against Military Madness. --------8 of 14-------- From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com> Subject: Election/KFAI 10.15 11am TRUTH TO TELL OCTOBER ELECTION WIND-DOWN COVERAGE WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15 11:00AM: MINNEAPOLIS SCHOOLS FUNDING REFERENDUM and KIDS VOTING MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL 1) Minneapolis Voters face two important ballot questions in November. THIS WEEK WE COVER (1): the largest of several referenda around the state to raise revenue in the face of declining state aid and increased costs; GUESTS: TOM MADDEN, Minneapolis School Board member STEVE KOTVIS, Communication Chair, Strong Schools, Strong City Steering Committee *** 2) Kids Voting is the quadrennial exercise giving children their first taste of civic responsibility even when it doesnt really count right now. Hear some kids talk about the experience as well program coordinators encouraging words. GUESTS: ROBERTA WORRELL Executive Director, Kids Voting Minneapolis JANE KOSTIK - Former IB (Intl Baccalaureate) Program Coordinator for Patrick Henry High, Kids Voting recruiter INVITED: SAM QUINCEY Kids Voting Alumnus now casting first real ballot. INVITED: TRACI WARNBERG-LEMM - Executive Director, Kids Voting Saint Paul --------9 of 14-------- From: Lauren Merritt <merri350 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Womens rights 10.15 7pm October 15, 2008 - Women's Human Rights Film Series: "Finding Dawn". Time: 7:00 PM. Cost: Free and open to the public. Dawn Crey. Ramona Wilson. Daleen Kay Bosse. These are just three of the estimated 500 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada over the past thirty years. Directed by acclaimed M tis filmmaker Christine Welsh, Finding Dawn is a compelling documentary that puts a human face to this national tragedy. This is an epic journey into the dark heart of Native women s experience in Canada. From Vancouver s skid row, where more than 60 women are missing, we travel to the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia, and onward to Saskatoon, where the murders and disappearances of Native women remain unresolved. Along the road to honour those who have passed, we uncover reason for hope. It lives in Native rights activists Professor Janice Acoose and Fay Blaney. It drives events such as the annual Women s Memorial March in Vancouver and inspires communities all along the length of Highway 16 to come together to demand change. Finding Dawn illustrates the deep historical, social and economic factors that contribute to the epidemic of violence against Native women in this country. It goes further to present the ultimate message that stopping the violence is everyone s responsibility. Location: Hayden Heights Branch Library, 1456 White Bear Ave, St Paul, MN --------10 of 14-------- Capitalism Without Rules by James Keye October 11th, 2008 Dissident Voice What would capitalism without rules look like? What "invisible hand" guides capitalism's actions and to what result? There is an invisible hand guiding the physical world to all the forms and processes of our "world". It is the in the laws that control the rates, that set the proportional relations of the various forces. But this fundamental reality is only metaphor for other "invisible hands" in evolution, social relations or economics. Appeal to invisible hands in these situations are no more than the failure to illuminate the designs of process. The appeal of capitalism exists largely in its making acceptable the concentration of wealth and in its religion-like faith in a common, generally negative human attribute as a positive guiding principle: human greed. Capitalism is a social and economic design that gives great freedom to the most greedy. Greed and wealth concentration are intellectually supported under the argument that the invisible hand of greed will design the best possible distribution of wealth based on the most efficient use of resources. And it denies that humans have the power, or should have the power, to control wealth and resources. This "leave it to the market" argument overtly suggests that we should not trust other people to control the process of wealth distribution while hiding the fact that the very most acquisitive and ruthless of us are doing exactly that under the cover of "the market". Trillions of dollars of wealth have been taken by the tax and credit system over the last 8 years (and for many years before) and "redistributed" to the economic elite, a polite term for the greedy sociopaths at the core of these economic actions. This is being done primarily with war, the healthcare (sic) system and the credit system. The "bailout" of Wall Street is not a bailout at all. Embezzling is slow. To get big bucks in a hurry requires a robbery and a robbery requires the hold-up note. All the planning can be done in secret, but with a robbery there comes the moment when intentions must be made clear: "Fill this bag. I have a gun in my pocket". We have just been through such a moment, with the note written in all capitalism, so most people missed its true meaning. "Fill this bag. If you don't your lives will be ruined and children's lives will be ruined". In capitalism the note reads: "The Market has been damaged by excessive attempts of foolish people to regulate it and so trillions of dollars must be given to the managers who are guided by the True Invisible Hand to save us from a great depression, social unrest and civil war". What this boils down to is that capitalism, as an economic process, seeks to remove the rules that guide economic behavior, and as economic capitalism melds into political capitalism, what ever form of governance was in place is replaced with fascism. This has been the major movement of historical process in competition with democratization. Global corporations have championed democracy as a way to gain deep power in government, to take control of taxation, reduce political restraints from popular autocrats and manipulate political process. Capitalism restrained by democratic socialism, capitalism used as resource distributing economic device and not as a religion is a functional design. But it is a little like having a gorilla guarding your house; he might at any moment realize his power to take over the whole place. This is what has happened and, I fear, that we will see the full effect of capitalism without rules for the next many years. It will look a lot like other times in history when the powerful separate from and dominate the great middle by reducing them to servitude. Only this time we are facing an ecological end of track. How the elite will handle this reality as it manifests more and more clearly will, I suspect, not be pretty. James Keye is the nom de plume of a biologist and psychologist who after discovering a mismatch between academe and himself went into private business for many years. His whole post-pubescent life has been focused on understanding at both the intellectual and personal levels what it is to be of the human species; he claims some success. Email him at: jkeye1632 [at] gmail.com. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website. This article was posted on Saturday, October 11th, 2008 at 7:00am and is filed under Capitalism, Economy/Economics. ShareThis --------11 of 14-------- The 30-Year Lie of the Market Cult The God That Failed By CHRIS FLOYD CounterPunch October 13, 2008 Perhaps the most striking fact revealed by the global financial crash - or rather, by the reaction to it - is the staggering, astonishing, gargantuan amount of money that the governments of the world have at their command. In just a matter of days, we have seen literally trillions of dollars offered to the financial services sector by national treasuries and central banks across the globe. Britain alone has put $1 trillion at the disposal of the bankers, traders, lenders and speculators; and this has been surpassed by the total package of public money that Washington is shoveling into the financial furnaces of Wall Street and the banks. These radical efforts are being replicated on a slightly smaller scale in France, Germany, Italy, Russia and many other countries. The effectiveness of this unprecedented transfer of wealth from ordinary citizens to the top tiers of the business world remains to be seen. It will certainly insulate the very rich from the consequences of their own greed and folly and fraud; but it is not at all clear how much these measures will shield the vast majority of people from the catastrophe that has been visited upon them by the elite. But putting aside for a moment the actual intent, details and results of the global bailout offers, it is their very extent that shocks, and shows - in a stark, harsh, all-revealing light - the brutal disdain with which the national governments of the world's "leading democracies" have treated their own citizens for decades. Beginning with Margaret Thatcher's election in 1979, government after government - and party after party - fell to the onslaught of an extremist faith: the narrow, blinkered fundamentalism of the "Chicago School." Epitomized by its patron saint, Milton Friedman, the rigid doctrine held that an unregulated market would always "correct" itself, because its workings are based on entirely rational and quantifiable principles. (See John Cassidy in the NY Review of Books for more.) This was of course an absurdly reductive and savagely ignorant view of history, money and human nature; but because it flattered the rich and powerful, offering an "intellectual" justification for rapacious greed and ever-widening economic and social inequality, it was adopted as holy writ by the elite and promulgated as public policy. This radical cult - a kind of Bolshevism from above - took its strongest hold in the United States and Britain, and was then imposed on many weaker nations through the IMF-led "Washington Consensus" (more aptly named by Naomi Klein as the "Shock Doctrine"), with devastating and deadly results. (As in Yeltsin's Russia, for example, where life expectancy dropped precipitously and millions of people died premature deaths from poverty, illness, and despair.) According to the cult, not only were markets to be freed from the constraints placed on them after the world-shattering effects of the Great Depression, but all public spending was to be slashed ruthlessly to the bone. (Although exceptions were always made for the Pentagon war machine.) After all, every dollar spent by a public entity on public services and amenities was a dollar taken away from the private wheeler-dealers who could more usefully employ it in increasing the wealth of the elite - who would then allow some of their vast profits to "trickle down" to the lower orders. This was the cult that captured the governments of the United States and Britain (among others), as well as the Republican and Democratic parties, and the Conservative and Labour parties as well. And for almost thirty years, its ruthless doctrines have been put into practice. Regulation and oversight of financial markets were systematically stripped away or rendered toothless. Essential public services were sold off, for chump change, to corporate interests. Public spending on anything other than making war, threatening war and profiting from war was pared back or eliminated. Such public spending that did remain was forever under threat and derided, like the remnants of some pagan faith surviving in isolated backwaters. Year after year, the ordinary citizens were told by their governments: we have no money to spend on your needs, on your communities, on your infrastructure, on your health, on your children, on your environment, on your quality of life. We can't do those kinds of things any more. Of course, when talking amongst themselves, or with the believers in the think tanks, boardrooms - and editorial offices - the cultists would speak more plainly: we don't do those things anymore because we shouldn't do them, we don't want to do them, they are wrong, they are evil, they are outside the faith. But for the hoi polloi, the line was usually something like this: Budgets are tight, we must balance them (for a "balanced budget" is a core doctrine of the cult), we just can't afford all these luxuries. But now, as the emptiness and falsity of the Chicago cargo cult stands nakedly revealed, even to some of its most faithful and fanatical adherents, we can see that this 30-year mantra by our governments has been a deliberate and outright lie. The money was there - billions and billions and billions of dollars of it, trillions of dollars of it. We can see it before our very eyes today - being whisked away from our public treasuries and showered upon the banks and the brokerages. Let's say it again: The money was there all along. Money to build and generously equip thousands and thousands of new schools, with well-paid, exquisitely trained teachers, small teacher-pupil ratios, a full range of enriching and inspiring programs. Money to revitalize the nation's crumbling inner cities, making them safe and vibrant places for businesses and families and communities to grow. Money to provide decent, affordable and accessible health care to every citizen, to provide dignity and comfort to the elderly, and protection and humane treatment for the mentally ill. Money to provide affordable higher education to everyone who wanted it and could qualify for it. Money to help establish and sustain local businesses and family farms, centered in and on the local community, driven by the needs and knowledge of the people in the area, and not by the dictates of distant corporations. Money to strengthen crumbling infrastructure, to repair bridges, shore up levies, maintain roads and electric grids and sewage systems. Money for affordable, workable public transport systems, for the pursuit of alternative sources of energy, for sustainable, sensible development, for environmental restoration. Money to support free inquiry in science, technology, health and other areas - research unfettered from the war machine and the drive for corporate profit, and instead devoted to the betterment of human life. Money to support culture, learning, continuing education, libraries, theater, music and the endless manifestations of the human quest to gain more meaning, more understanding, more enlightenment, a deeper, spiritually richer life. The money for all of this - and much, much more - was there, all along. When they said we couldn't have these things, they were lying - or else allowing themselves to be profitably duped by the high priests of the market cult. When they wanted a trillion dollars - or three trillion dollars - to wage a war of aggression in Iraq, they found it. Now, when they want trillions of dollars to save the speculators, fraudsters and profiteers of greed in the global market, they suddenly have it. Who then can believe that these governments could not have found the money for good schools, health care, and all the rest, that they could not have enhanced the well-being and livelihood of millions of ordinary citizens, and helped create a more just and equitable and stable world - if they had wanted to? This is one of the main facts that ordinary citizens around the world should take away from this crisis: the money to maintain, secure and improve the lives of their families and communities was always there - but their governments, and their political parties, made a deliberate, unforced choice not to use it for the common good. Instead, they subjugated the well-being of the world to the dictates of an extremist cult. A cult of greed and privilege, that preached iron discipline to the poor and the middle-class, but released the rich and powerful from all restrictions, and all responsibility for their actions. This should be a constant - and galvanizing - thought in the minds of the public in the months and years to come. Remember what you could have had, and how it was denied you by the lies and delusions of a powerful elite and their bought-off factotums in government. Remember the trillions of dollars that suddenly appeared when the wheeler-dealers needed money to cover their own greed and stupidity. Let these thoughts guide you as you weigh the promises and actions of politicians and candidates, and as you assess the "expert analysis" on economic and domestic policy offered by the corporate media and the corporate-bankrolled think tanks and academics. And above all, let these thoughts be foremost in your mind when you hear - as you certainly will hear, when (and if) the markets are finally stabilized (at whatever gigantic cost in human suffering) - the adherents of the market cult emerge once more and call for "deregulation" and "untying the hands of business" and all the other ritual incantations of their false and savage fundamentalist faith. For although the market cult has suffered a cataclysmic defeat in the last few weeks, it is by no means dead. It has 30 years of entrenchment in power to fall back on. And the leader of every major political party in the West has spent their entire political career within the cult's confines. It has been the atmosphere they breathed, it has been the sole ladder by which they have climbed to prominence. They will be loath to abandon it, once the immediate crisis is past; most will not be able to. So remember well the lessons of this new October crash: The money to make a better life, to serve the common good, has always been there. But it has been kept from you by deceit, by dogma, by greed, and by the ambition of those who have sold their souls, and betrayed their brothers and sisters, their fellow human creatures, for the sake of privilege and power. Chris Floyd is an American journalist and frequent contributor to CounterPunch. His blog, "Empire Burlesque," can be found at www.chris-floyd.com. --------12 of 14-------- This Just In Greed is Not Good By DAVID MICHAEL GREEN CounterPunch October 13, 2008 So, um, prolly you've heard by now that we're having this little problem with the economy, eh? Yeah, as a matter of fact, it's starting to look like more than just a little problem. It's starting to look like 1932 again. And, who knows beyond that? What is there to say that 1932 is the baseline? Just because the Great Depression is the worst scenario we've yet to experience, that sure doesn't mean that it is the worst we could experience. With astonishing amounts of governmental and personal debt sloshing around the world in a hugely globalized economy, who's to say that we aren't now headed for the Even Greater Depression? Oh, and, let's also not forget that even that isn't necessarily the end of it. Last time the global economy imploded this bad, it got one helluva lot worse before it got better. The only thing that could ever have made the 1930s look good was the 1940s. There's no reason to necessarily believe that that part can't happen again as well. If we're stupid enough to repeat the mistakes of the Gilded Age, surely belligerent, nationalist, chauvinist Americans (and Chinese, and Frenchmen, and Russians) are also stupid enough to launch another world war or two in order to chase down scarce resources like oil or gold. Or food. Or water. Leaving aside for the moment any threats of world war, the only good news I see in our current economic crisis is that at least we're eighty years down the road from when Franklin Roosevelt broke the psychological barrier previously preventing brainwashed Americans from owning a government that actually helped them, as opposed to allowing themselves to be owned by a government of oligarchs who were helping themselves. This time, if people are hungry because there's no money, and cold because heating oil costs so much, and weathered because they've been tossed out of their homes, and frightened because they've got no job and no healthcare coverage - if we arrive at that state, watch what's left of the psychological barriers crumble like George Bush's job approval ratings or John McCain's lofty principles about running a high-minded campaign. Watch desperate Americans embrace socialism as if they were the lost children of Chairman Mao waking up from a long nightmare of capitalist errancy. What we're witnessing now is the complete and utter repudiation of Reaganism-Bushism, of course, but it runs even deeper than that. Not just the hyper-kleptocratic version of the American economic system is being left in shreds, but even its more moderate baseline version - the Eisenhower model of nice, gray-suited capitalism - is now also on the chopping block. Even that form of capitalism - quaintly tame by today's standards of astonishing rapaciousness - was never sustainable, and part of what we've been seeing this last decade is all the ruses by which we had greedily squeezed out more than our fair share of the pie now angrily biting back. The wars, the environmental rape, the exploitation of nice little brown people all around the world (and, after all, isn't that why Jesus made them?), the borrowing against our children's future, the tax avoidance free-riding, the credit card economy, the exporting of jobs to explode profits, the gluttony of 300 pound Americans and their SUVs and the giant screens on which they watch "reality TV" (a nice euphemism for humiliating degradation) - these are all screaming out to us simultaneously today, in an excruciating cacophonous harmony from Hell, that THIS MUST END NOW. And, boy, did we ever have it coming. I just want to go on record and say to any historians from the 26th century who might be reading this: "Yes, it does say 'American' on my birth certificate, but I want you to know I wasn't part of this! I did my best and kept shouting out about our national stupidities. And I always voted for the Green Party!"w Yeah, it's true, I'm afraid. We're going down in history as the stupidist and the shortest-lived of empires (even the Belgians did better than this, plus, they make great beer). And well we should be so considered, too. Do they have Darwin Awards for countries, like they do for individuals, who find uniquely imbecilic (though highly entertaining) ways to remove their DNA from the collective gene pool (you know, like getting really stoned and then playing your electric guitar in the swimming pool)? They should! And who could possibly trump America, we who gluttonously slurp up oil in order to live like global pigs, sending the proceeds to fund terrorists with ideologies from the 13th century and weapons from the 21st to attack us? We who chant "Drill, baby, drill!" when the giant planet-wrecking asteroid of global warming is headed right for us. (Even the real dinosaurs come off looking better than our human imitations of them, since they at least had the excuse of actually having pea-sized brains to explain why they behaved as though they had pea-sized brains.) We whose government's insatiable spending sprees on high priority items, like wars that diminish our national security and corporate welfare for oil companies or giant agri-corporations, we fund by allowing China, our rising rival for global power, to own our debt, and therefore to own us. And what's that old line about the first time being tragedy and the second folly? The most astonishing thing about the economic nightmare we're now entering is how little we learned from having already gone through this before. We're not even talking about ancient or foreign history here, people. You don't have to force Americans to go watch some History Channel documentary on Charlemagne to figure this one out. It wasn't that long ago that we went through exactly the same process, ourselves, right here in gool ol' 'Muricah. Christ, there are people still alive today who experienced it first hand. You'd think, having found out in the 1930s precisely what happens when you let monstrously greedy people who have their hands on the levers of the global economy go on unregulated bacchanals of decadent self-aggrandizement, that we'd want to avoid that sort of thing in the future, eh? Perhaps we'd even vow "Never again", just like we did after the Holocaust. (But then, given the mass murderous Soviet and Chinese purges which came after Auschwitz and Treblinka, along with the genocides of Cambodia, Rwanda and now Darfur (not to mention Vietnam or Iraq), maybe that wouldn't be such a great promise to make...) And even if the American people couldn't make the connection between present circumstances and past analogues, am I the only knucklehead who finds the whole deregulation mania something of an odd idea just at a conceptual level? How is it that the same people who always jump up and down in passionate support of tough crime laws, loads of jails and busy state killing machines, don't seem to apply the same logic to nice, white-collar crimes? I mean, if you need a law to deter people from committing murder, why don't you need regulations to prevent them from committing greed? And, wouldn't it make a lot of sense to have these laws, especially in places where the capacity exists for such tremendous harm to be done? A murder takes a life and wrecks a couple of families. That's horrible, and should be prevented wherever possible, and punished where not. But would it be too much to ask that we also have laws and punishments and regulations to help prevent white-collar crimes that can wreck an entire global economic system, bringing wholesale grief to hundreds of millions of people, and no doubt producing boatloads of deaths in their wake, all in the name of satiating the greed of already fantastically wealthy people? Indeed, we have the first of these victims on the scoreboard already. This week a Los Angeles man who lost all his money in the stock market shot his wife, three sons and his mother-in-law before then killing himself. Get ready for more of the same, and most of them won't be suicides, I can tell you. They'll be homicides. Murder by greed. And even if America's so-called justice system can't bring itself to punish Wall Street thieves for serial homicide in this case, would it be too much to ask for a little government regulation to prevent a handful of kleptocrats from crashing an entire global economic order and spreading death, destruction and misery across the planet, just so that they could milk the last remaining pennies from the golden goose, its bloodied carcass lying twisted and prostrate across the trading room floor, nothing but lead spilling out of its slashed belly? Ah, but that would not be capitalism, eh, Mr. Graham? That would be fettering innovation, right, Mr. Greenspan? That would limit Holy Growth, no, Mr. McCain? And we can't have that. I don't really understand the perverse psychology of people like these Wall Street masters of the universe, whose desire for additional wealth seems incapable of being satiated. Personally, I don't think I'd know what to do even with the mere pittance of a million bucks, so it's really hard for me to figure it out when I see them feeling so hyper-compelled in pursuit of throwing tens of millions more on top of their existing piles of hundreds of millions. I mean, you can only sail on one yacht at a time, right? You can only live in one mansion at a time, right? You can only sleep with one gorgeous call girl at a time, right? Oh, um, okay - well, never mind that last part. But you catch my drift here, no? In truth, when I look around this fine country that calls itself my home, I have to conclude that it's actually me who is the anomaly. I'm not sure what genetic quirk or what massive failure of the educational machine produced a freak like me, but - apart from not wanting to go into debt, and from owning a handful of very modest toys like a computer or guitar - I really don't give a shit about money. Go figure, eh? You know, my car, bought used, is ten years old. I think. I don't really remember for sure what model year it is, though I'm pretty sure I could tell you how many cylinders it has if I stopped to ponder the question long enough. This strange absence of an unending greed for Money! and Things! seems to leave me way out in the bizarro fringe outcast category within what passes for a culture for those 300 million inhabitants in the middle of the North American continent. Just 'cause I don't constantly seek cash, or measure myself by the size of my wallet, I'm like six standard deviations from the norm in the disaster affectionately known as America. And just how disastrous is our national disaster? Leave it to Sarah "The Embarrassment" Palin to answer best. She illustrated the other night in her "debate" with Joe Biden how deep the country has sunk these last decades into the miasma of a culture of petty selfishness, and an ethos of pathetic greed. She reminded us that in Middle America, where she and "Todd" (hey, you scary monster, I am not on a first-name basis with your First Dude husband, and I don't ever want to be) purport to live, paying taxes is not patriotic. Biden's response should have been to ask whether all the Americans who've paid all the billions in tax increases in every war America has ever fought prior to this one were unpatriotic, or just suckers. He should have asked who she expected would pay for the body armor to protect her son in Iraq (as if they're gonna let that kid anywhere near any real danger), for our roads, our schools, our post offices, our Army and Navy, our Social Security benefits or our police officers. For that matter, he might also have asked who would pay for Air Force One, who would pay for the tens of millions of public campaign funds now being spent by the McCain-Palin campaign, or who would pay for the army of bank regulators we'll need to clean up the economic mess her ideological soul-mates have left us. Still, I can't help thinking that millions of Americans sat at home watching this, enthusiastically nodding their head in support of her lunacy. Let's face it, after a generation or two of Reaganism-Bushism permeating the culture, no politician can even talk about raising taxes in America anymore without risking career suicide. It has become the new third rail of American politics. And that says so much about us. Because, not only do we want all the benefits of government, but polling data clearly shows that we actually even want the government to do a lot more than it is already doing. And yet, at the same time, selfish, narcissistic Americans have been well trained now by pandering right-wing politicians to expect it all for free. Cutting taxes without simultaneously cutting expenditures (let alone while massively increasing expenditures) is one of the single most recklessly irresponsible acts a government can undertake. Since the only solution to the deficits that must ensue from this simple math is to borrow the difference, the polity in question is simply taking its desire to live large and handing it off in the form of a problem for someone else to deal with, on top of their own problems. Plus interest on the loans, of course. And who is that someone? Faraway foreigners? Some despised underclass? The millions we've incarcerated as criminals, perhaps? Not at all. The crime runs even deeper than that. It's our own children who are getting the bill. Which is precisely what we've been doing. I saw Californian voters, when I lived there, launch the modern taxpayer revolt movement by passing the infamous Proposition 13, which took a meat-cleaver to property taxes in the state. Never mind that the effect would be the same on California's schools, which are largely funded by property taxes. They went from being the best in the country to nowadays hanging around with Mississippi, down at the bottom of the list. But who fucking cares, anyhow? People got their bloody tax cuts, and they got to buy that nice, shiny new car they wanted with the money. So what about the kids? And so it has gone these last decades, tax cut after tax cut in America, which really means tax transfer after tax transfer. And now we have a ten trillion dollar debt we are passing along. So that means that the next generation will have to pay enough in taxes to run the government then, plus the share that the current generation didn't really feel like paying to run the government today, plus interest on that borrowed amount. What does that mean, up close and personal? If, right this very moment, we somehow stopped adding to that pile more debt and more interest every day, and just handed out the bill for what is currently owed, it would average out to $67,000 for each and every taxpayer. I know what you're thinking. That sucks, eh? Well, at least the good news is what you got for it. For instance, a really expensive war in Iraq that diminished American national security. And the chance for really, really rich people to become really, really, really rich people through humongous tax breaks. How about a GOP pork-barrel spending spree - including the Bridge to Nowhere - of unprecedented size in American history? Huge oil and agricultural company subsidies? A giant prescription drug bill which provided corporate socialism for drug and insurance companies? A chance for George W. Bush to frolic in the White House for eight years? I'm sure every American, working some job they're not particularly fond of, won't really mind the extra hours they have to work to pay for all this. Especially since, if you make, say, 15 bucks per hour, that would only translate to 4,467 hours you'd be working to finance your share of this past years' pig-out. Based on a forty-hour work week, that's roughly two-and-a-quarter years worth of your life. When you look at it that way, it doesn't seem so bad, does it? And, again, that's just if we stop deficit spending now, and stop accruing interest now. In fact, we're actually deficit spending about another $400 billion per year, every year, which just gets added to the pile (and lots more, as well, if John McCain is able to slash taxes on the wealthy even further). Moreover - maybe it's just my pessimism kicking in here, but - I don't think the Chinese or our other creditors are going to be much inclined to waive the interest accruals due to them for financing our decadent little party. So, in fact, the above accounting of our national and personal liabilities are actually rather, ahem, conservative. In every way imaginable. But, of course, America's problem is way deeper than one kleptocratic president or even a generational binge coupled with a three decade long vacation from responsibility, not to mention rationality. We have established a pervasive culture of greed, and that's one angry chicken that has now come home to roost. What's worse, we've lost the capacity as a society to even imagine an alternative ethos to guide us, though the looming economic tsunami may be just the thing - and likely the only thing - big enough to get us thinking once again. This massive poverty of imagination is what is killing us now, undermining us at the most fundamental levels of societal identity. To grasp the magnitude of our problem, consider how we socialize our citizens and how our culture sets the priority structure of their values and aspirations. Sure, some Americans think it is noble and wonderful to pursue careers which serve the public interest, but most are taught, and simply accept, that one should aspire to making boatloads of money, and that the measure of one's achievement is the size of their bank account and the number of toys parked in the driveways of their McMansions. I am constantly astonished by the quantity of Americans whose expressed goal in life is simply to make lots of money, which I find especially bizarre since they don't seem to have any particular use in mind for all this cash. What this phenomenon has long suggested to me is a country full of sheep so unoriginal in their thinking that they can't even figure out what to aspire to on their own, and a society so bankrupt in its morality that it feeds them the goal of wanton greed to fill that yawning void. All that's bad enough, but, besides the current economic meltdown and a society populated by moral midgets, there are also other repercussions to this ethical failure and this poverty of imagination. Chief among these is the false choice we are always presented between governance in the public interest, on the one hand, and prosperity, on the other. This bogus diversionary tactic forms the central argument of the economic predators who've been bleeding the country of its wealth (and, in fact, prosperity), as to why we can't have regulation. You know, all that Washington red tape (you can't profit off of pollution, you can't exploit children as factory workers, you have to pay a minimum wage - horrible restrictions like that) will keep innovators from innovating and entrepreneurs from, uh, entrepreneuriating. And, you know what? They're actually more or less right. They're right if, that is, you accept as a predicate would-be innovators and would-be entrepreneurs who are only motivated by an ethos of personal greed, which has been duly pounded into them through the socialization processes of a society that lost its mind and its moral bearing decades ago. Sure, okay. Under those conditions it's probably true that most people will only work for themselves, and will only be motivated by self-interest. But what if we taught these people something different, right from the get-go when they were toddlers, and reinforced those different values throughout their adult lives? What if we taught the members of this society to value the community's welfare as much as their own? What if we taught them that massive personal wealth was not only not the highest achievement to aspire to, but actually a sort of crass and tacky goal, only to be found amongst the most juvenile and selfish in the society? What if we strongly imprinted the idea among our people that improving the welfare of the country (or, gulp, the world) is an important life aspiration, and that those who do so are considered among our most admired countrymen, rather than those who have acquired the money to purchase bitchin' toys and trophy wives? Is it not possible that our citizens would innovate, and that they would be every bit as motivated as they are today by greed? Maybe even more so? And, therefore, could we not transcend this false choice of good governance versus prosperity? (Not to mention the fact that whatever prosperity we've experienced of late is not going to the society, anyhow. In the last three decades, while GDP has grown at a handsome clip, the middle class - and, of course, we've long ago now abandoned even talking about those below middle class status, let alone fighting a war on poverty - has not even stood its ground, but rather has actually lost overall purchasing power. That, of course, leaves only one mathematical explanation for what has happened. You guessed it. All that growth in national wealth has gone to the already richest Americans.) You know, I'm not a subscriber to the prescriptions of communism for constructing the best system of political economy, much as that might come as a shock to any conservative reader of this piece. And I think it's fair to say that the world's experiments in communism to date - to the extent they weren't actually just experiments in totalitarian brownshirtism - failed in large part because they possessed just the opposite flaw as that described above. They attempted to build economic systems on the equally false notion that selfishness can be completely erased from human psychology as a motivating force. It can't. And any system dependant on that proposition for its success will have none. But, by the same token, a system that is built on the premise that people are only motivated by selfish greed, and therefore can only produce prosperity by letting every actor pursue their own self-interest, unfettered by any societal concerns, is an equally disastrous notion. And such a society is equally bound for the ash heap of history, just as was the Soviet Union or Maoist China. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's just exactly what the cosmos is screaming in our ears, at about 150 decibels worth of volume, right at the moment. The only question is whether we are so deaf we can no longer hear the warning call, even when it's broadcast over a galactic PA system. But just in case, here it is. Newsflash for America! This just in! Sorry to burst your little bubble, people, but it turns out, after all, that... Greed is not good. David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (dmg [at] regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website, www.regressiveantidote.net. --------13 of 14-------- You Can Cry for Us, Argentina by Mark Drolette October 11th, 2008 Dissident Voice Having (regrettably) spent much of my life in jingoistic ignorance, I never imagined I'd one day set foot in Argentina. Then again, I never imagined I'd witness an American administration whose death-dealing militarism and breathtaking corruption would dwarf those perpetrated by even the worst Latin American dictatorship, so there you are. And, well, here I am, visiting the grand city of Buenos Aires, and just in time, too, to catch on Argentine TV the long, sad faces of investment banker after investment banker insisting a $700 billion giveaway to America's richest was what must be done, had to be done, to save the U.S. economy. And here I also am just in time to see Congress members predictably scream there'd be a bailout over their dead bodies (hmm.) before they just as predictably rubber stamped that puppy. Speaking of dogs, they love them here in Buenos Aires, a huge plus from where I stand although I do have to be careful where I step since the city's residents aren't keen on picking up their beloved pets' end products which, for some reason, reminds me all over again of the bailout, a ghastly amount of steaming hot Fed fiat money steam shoveled to, and benefiting only, the avaricious jackals who gleefully stacked the deck of America's house-of-cards economy as high as possible before even the lackiest of lackeys could no longer deny the flimsiness of the laughably-named "free market". They're utterly shameless, these animals, still lecturing us on the marvelous benefits of unregulated capitalism 'cause, you know, it's so good for us. Here's World Trade Organization chief Pascal Lamy (per Reuters): "The current hurricane that has hit the financial markets must not distract the international community from pursuing greater economic integration and openness". Why mustn't it? Well, because, as he so thankfully informs us, "[i]n a financial crisis and at a time of economic distress, in particular at a time of soaring food prices, what impoverished consumers desperately need is to see their purchasing power enhanced and not reduced". Touching, eh? His true concern lies with impoverished consumers. And if you believe that, I've got some lovely mortgage-backed securities I'd like to show you. At least history buffs are in luck these dismal days, since we've just witnessed the most balls-out, audacious looting of a society's resources ever. In broad daylight, too, with hideous, rammed-through, in-the-bag legislation passed by a Congress so contemptuous of their in-name-only constituents that there they were, splashed all over the front page of the Buenos Aires Herald, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and a knot of others from their bipartisan den of thieves, laughing and grinning so wildly after having passed this monumental pile of dog shit (it's one of today's themes) that it looked like they'd all just taken a huge hit of nitrous oxide. Well, we've all just taken something huge, too, but none of us are laughing and it really hurts to sit down. I find it interesting being in Argentina during our collective buggering since Argentines know a thing or several billion about battered asse(t)s. Their country suffered a total economic meltdown at the beginning of this decade that kicked their formerly relatively well-off large middle class flush in its breadwinning breadbasket. However, a silver lining emerged: The crisis led to the country defaulting on, and then getting out from under, its crushing debt "owed" to both the (D.C.-based) World Bank and International Monetary Fund, a couple of truly fine organizations for those who think neo-feudalism has a lot going for it. In 2006, Argentina paid off all loans to the predatory entities. A sizeable part of the assistance came from Hugo Chavez, who bought Argentina bonds. (Just a hunch, but something tells me that's not going to happen in our case.) Though the catalysts are different, we're in for the same ride. Don't even think it'll end with the $700 billion. Free market leeches don't stop. They won't stop. They can't stop. It's in their (cold) blood; they are addicts, they got a (Dow) jones goin' on. And like addicts, they will steal every dollar they can to feed their habits, and then come back for more. And also like addicts, they (gasp) lie, too! Here's Fannie Mae's former CEO, Daniel Mudd (per Charles Duhigg of the International Herald Tribune): "Almost no one expected what was coming. It's not fair to blame us for not predicting the unthinkable". And no one thought planes might be flown into buildings, either. Jesus! Is this guy kidding? Anyone smarter than broccoli knew the bloodbath was imminent. Admittedly, this would leave out brilliant sorts like, say, George W. Bush, but he's never really been in charge anyway (just ask Dick Cheney, if you can find him), so he doesn't count. Who does count (our looted dough) are the vultures that have ripped us off blind for years via their puppet boy president with dandy little revenue-generating items like two senseless wars, insane tax cuts, the Medicare/Big Pharma drug ripoff, no-bid contracts. But that's kid stuff compared to this grand gambit, a deliberately manufactured crisis that starts the kill for keeps. The scheme to starve the government beast to feed the fascist monster stands naked now in all its power-grabbing, future-stealing glory. Say goodbye to Social Security. Say goodbye to Medicare. Say goodbye to infrastructure repair. Say goodbye to public education, whatever shreds of it remain. With their incessant mantra about the wonders of privatization, the moneychangers have done their unlevel best for years now to condition the populace for the biggest wealth-transferring heist of all-time, and every ilk to follow. I will say that except for a few broccoli-brained Americans (my apologies for twice now disparaging a fine vegetable), it does seem most of our fellow citizens are hip to, and mightily pissed about, the reaming just administered. But - no matter. Too bad. Tough luck. Oh well. The parasites in charge couldn't care less about our pathetic moral victory. With secret scorn, they lecture us with the best damn fake concern you'll ever see that if we don't assume the no-time-for-lubrication position right this instant and take what's good for us, the "system will fail". Well, guess what? It's failing now. Since March alone, we've been strong-armed for over a trillion bucks of funny money (the $700 billion theft, $85 billion to AIG, $200 billion to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and $29 billion worth of "help" to J. P. Morgan & Co. to buy Bear Stearns) and its only effect and that of other certain larceny to come (other than further enriching produce-nothing vipers) will be to delay the inevitable, thus ensuring our pain cuts even deeper. More banks will fail, more savings will be stolen, more companies will go bust, more pensions will disappear, and unemployment, inflation and homelessness will skyrocket. The only questions are: How profusely will we bleed, and how long will the hemorrhaging last? Does Argentina's experience offer guidance? Since its 2002 default, its annual growth rate has averaged over eight percent, and a visitor to the center of bustling Buenos Aires would see few hints of the nation's recent horrors. Nonetheless, most Argentines would tell you their country is not the same, having taken a gigantic hit from which it may never fully recover. On the positive side, as a whole, South America's collective social services-suffocating IMF debt, per YES! magazine, has nosedived from $42.9 billion in 2004 to $108 million in 2007. Can any of this help us better survive our own country's current palm-greased slide into hell, or assist in predicting what may rise from the ashes? Who knows? What is known, however, is that the reversal of fortunes hasn't gone unnoticed. Meeting with Argentina President Cristina Fernndez de Kirchner the other day here in Buenos Aires, Chile President Michelle Bachelet, per the Buenos Aires Herald, noted: "I find it ironic that countries that used to tell us what to do (on the economic front) should now be facing a crisis (of such proportions). Anyway, our countries (Latin America) are strong enough to (stand up for themselves) and fight the crisis off". Bully for you, seoras presidentes, and a hard-earned touch of touch, too. With our current meltdown fomented by the same species of wealth-sucking vampires who happily bled most of your continent to within an inch of its life, the U.S.A.'s payback bitch has, indeed, arrived. (I knew I could squeeze in another dog reference.) Just one question, por favor: Might either of you have a hankie handy? Mark Drolette is a writer who lives in Costa Rica. He can be reached at: markdrolette [at] gmail.com. Read other articles by Mark, or visit Mark's website. This article was posted on Saturday, October 11th, 2008 at 7:00am and is filed under Argentina, Corporate Globalization, Economy/Economics, Humor. --------14 of 14-------- The French Kiss is all about sense and sexuality. The American Kiss is all about cents and insensibility. America - the land where we kiss rich men's butts! Smack! smack! smack! ker-smack! America won the Olympic GOLD medal in kissed rich mens' butts! Kiss rich men's butts - it's all we Americans do - and we do it well. All America's top leaders went to Buttkiss University. The Buttkiss U cheer: Butt! Kiss! Butt! Kiss! Butt! Kiss! Butt! Kiss! Butt! Kiss! Butt! Kiss!... ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 vote third party for president for congress now and forever
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