Gun's don't kill people. People with guns kill people.


"No body could have done a better job than Obama, with the economy he was handed —including me!" —Bill Clinton—

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ants—The Rich Man's Burden

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves the much higher compensation."

-- Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union message, 1861

I love Fareed Zakaria's clear eyed view of the world. His interview with, Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein was illuminating. As I watched an obviously brilliant Mr. Blankfein explain with great detail how his deals were structured, it occurred to me that while he is brilliant, that he is also oblivious to the damage that he and others in his rarified class caused. That they devastated the economy with just the seer enormity of the kind of money they were moving around was totally lost on him.

The obvious analogy that came to mind was an elephant stepping on the toes of an ant. The elephant didn't feel a thing. His response what ant? The more he talked the more convinced I became that that much economic power should never be welded by such a small group of people, when their financial brinkmanship can bring ruin to millions of others who are not even aware of the financial games being played.

Over a hundred years ago—a small (r) republican—a President worthy of the name fought against monopolies. He understood—and rightly so—the catastrophic consequences of concentrating that much wealth in the hands of anyone let alone men who are so far removed from the devastating consequences of their financial power. It took 10 years of struggle top wrest the monopolistic power from the hands of the likes of J.P. Morgan.

The proud tradition of republicanism that abolished slavery, fiercely protected individual human rights—laid out in the constitution—has vanished. It has been hijacked by intolerant, self serving, ideologues whose only purpose is to enrich themselves by selling their influence to the highest bidder. They seem to have been subverted by a small radical base that is bent on destroying this nation. Their fanaticism calls to mind the small ardent core of rabid Nazi that led their nation to ruin. They want to "drown the government in a bathtub" as one miscreant stooge put it, so that they can do as they please regardless of the consequences. Thus their mantra to deregulate everything, and privatize everything is bearing fruit, financial collapse, and concentration of wealth in the hands of a few that is unprecedented.

The inevitable drift towards concentrated wealth that has been advocated by the current crop of ideologically driven "Republicans", is a far cry and a 100+ years removed from Roosevelt's resolute steadfast stand against monopolies—that brought about a sea change—that put America on course to build a middle class that made America the envy of the world. They are the true elitist who are so far removed from the majority of decent Americans by their great wealth, they are incapable of empathy. How does one empathize with a few million ants who've been crushed? After all who wants a bunch of ants at a feast for elephants anyway?

Commentary: "The White Man's Burden"—a paternalistic—poem written by Rudyard Kipling that justified imperialism as a duty to civilize inferior races—is, I suspect not far removed from the Rich Man's attitude, that they are somehow superior by virtue of their wealth and position and that the masses of uneducated struggling humans are nothing more than a burden. Why do billionaire owners pay athletes millions while teachers are paid pittance? Why do CEO's of billion dollar banks, who produce nothing of value, earn millions in bonuses even when they bring the entire world to the brink of financial ruin? Who thinks for you? Who votes for you? The benefit of being an ant is sheer numbers. If you're tired of being trampled by elephants bite back. Do your homework—its not hard to find out whose taking money in exchange for their vote. Raise hell with you're representatives that don't represent your views. Vote out the sell outs. Take your country back. Let's rethink the paradigm. After all who carriers a bigger burden than an ant?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Truth About New American Tea Party

"On Monday morning, the 29th of November, 1773, a handbill was posted all over Boston, containing the following words: "Friends! Brethren! Countrymen!--That worst of plagues, the detested tea, shipped for this port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the harbor."

The event that triggered the Boston Tea Party, and that has been reduced a catch phrase—"No taxation without representation"—was at its heart the rejection of the British manipulation of the markets in favor of the East India Company by means of tax cuts for the only global corporation of that era.

The New Tea Party Patriots have taken a distant event and twisted its meaning to imply that it was all about eliminating taxes, which is a false conclusion. If their premise is true it would have been written into the Constitution NO TAXATION (period). How preposterous to presume that any government can operate without revenue. Yet that is what the leaders of The New Tea Party would have you believe. What the founders fought for was REPRESENTATION in the affairs that concerned them in their daily lives. What is truly ironic or moronic about the "tea baggers" adoption of that particular historical event is that it was triggered by a huge tax cut for the East India Trading Company who at the time was on the verge of bankruptcy, the colonist considered it an unfair tax cut that would put smaller independent traders out of business.

This is a reprint of an article by Mary Bell Lockhart written for OpEdNews.com

For OpEdNews: Mary Bell Lockhart - Writer

Does the ultra-right carry water for the ultra-rich?

To paraphrase the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, "How 'bout a little truth, scare mongers?"

In my last article, I debunked the myth that our tax dollars are taken against our will and given to lazy people who refuse to work. Nevertheless, up popped a letter repeating that we're "immorally taxed against our will," which apparently has origins in libertarian doctrine. A corollary myth is that the only true purpose for the government is to "protect our freedoms" presumably meaning the military and police. These are poor readings of American history and a distortion of the Constitution and the government it established. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion here, but we're not entitled to invent facts.

For American revolutionaries, taxation was an issue, but it was not, as implied by current "tea partiers," an issue of high taxes. For the colonists, the issue was taxation without representation -- paying taxes when they could not elect voting representatives. Other economic issues, which led directly to the Boston Tea Party, were favorable treatment for the British East India Company and restriction on colonial trade with countries other than Britain.

The East India Company was perhaps an early capitalistic, multinational corporation. It was granted monopoly status by Britain and given preferences to supply the only tea colonists were allowed to purchase. So, colonists smuggled in tea from other sources and refused to buy British tea (even though it was cheaper). In 1773, they attempted to send tea back to Britain and, when that failed, dumped it in Boston harbor. There was reaction from Britain, counter-reaction from the colonists, and eventually the Declaration of Independence and war.

After throwing off one government, the Americans turned around and formed -- what? Another government more to their liking. The Preamble to the US Constitution gives the overall mission statement -- the purposes -- for the government. I've covered this in a previous article, but repeat that the mission to "promote the general welfare" includes a large number of activities that are appropriate, constitutional governmental roles.

Saving an economy in free-fall and aiding the least of us in our society -- the sick, the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, the children -- are entirely appropriate roles for government, as are financial, and environmental and safety regulation. Over the years, we have demanded that these roles be fulfilled. We love this most about our country: Here we care about each other.

American revolutionaries believed in government and accepted taxes set by elected representatives. And that's just what we have today. Whether born here or becoming citizens or legal residents by choice, we enjoy the blessings of this society and we have obligations to follow the laws and to pay taxes.

How is this coercion or taxing us against our will when we are free to live elsewhere? Without our government we would effectively have no income and our assets would have no legal standing or even a record. Without government we may think we have individual rights, but there is nothing to assure them, no one to truly "protect our freedoms.

With funding and misinformation from capitalistic, multi-national corporations, today's tea partiers (about 80% are Republican), libertarians and ultra-conservatives, wrap themselves in the "patriot" flag. However, ideologically they bear a stronger resemblance to the secessionist southerners than to American revolutionaries. They even talk of states' rights and secession. For the policies they advocate, they would be on the side of the British and the East India Company were we back in revolutionary days. They support the anti-tax, anti-government policies that serve the mega-rich. They protest high taxes when they, themselves, just received a huge tax cut enacted as a stimulus to the economy. Income taxes in 2009 were at an historic low

They claim, but have no evidence, that the government is intruding on their individual rights. On the contrary, it is these extremists who pose the greatest risk to individual rights. Where they have been able to gain power themselves, instead of solving real problems they have enacted laws that certainly do intrude on the Constitutional rights of millions. For example, Arizona's anti-immigrant law, Oklahoma's invasion of the doctor/patient relationship regarding abortion, and some state denials of equal protection under the law to all.

They complain that the deficit is too large, yet said nothing when most of the deficit grew by tax cuts for the wealthy and two unfunded wars. The portion of the deficit caused by recent spending was essential to turn around this deep recession caused by, you guessed it, the mega-rich. They don't see that we can more quickly pay down the deficit if we rebuild middle America and return to fair taxes for the wealthy than if we destroy the safety nets just to keep top tax rates low. Despite ample evidence that the stimulus did work to prevent economic free fall, they call it a failure.

They want to "take back" a country that they haven't even lost. Many are proud of their faith, some even proclaiming this is a Christian nation. How is it, then, immoral for us to be taxed but perfectly moral to eliminate our social programs that fulfill the "Golden Rule"?

Middle and low-income Americans have every reason to be angry these days. They have been dealt a raw deal; an unprecedented reduction in their economic wellbeing. But some are directing their ire in the wrong direction. It's not the government, workers, immigrants, or minority group members who have harmed us. It's the banksters, the Wall Street stalkers and "free-market" capitalists.

Yet those same capitalists use their billions now to feed back to the uninformed all the talking points of the ultra right. Their purpose is have us detest the government because that is the only force that can stand up to their unbridled greed. They want us to repudiate the mission of the government to care for the least among us just so they can avoid their fair share in taxes. And their vision for America's future is...what? Future? What's that? If it's beyond their next quarterly earnings, it doesn't matter.

Commentary: The only currency of value in a free society is truth, everything else is harmful.
The New American Tea party would have you believe that their skewed version of the original Boston Tea Party represents a valid, if not, thinly disguised argument for their fascist philosophy. They would do away our individual rights, while giving corporations sway over us by their predominant economic philosophy of globalization Taxation is a red herring. If their reading of history is wrong then the all of the philosophies—based on that misreading—they espouse are flawed and therefore suspect.