Monday, October 18, 2010

A Party of Panic and Depression

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The administration of Ronald Reagan ushered in a depression of some two years, the longest and deepest since Hoover's Great Depression of the 1930s. Millions were put out of work. Many businesses, entire industries never recovered. The Reagan depression followed a GOP tax cut benefiting only the upper quintile. As a stimulus, it was an obvious failure, yet that's how it had been sold. It's how they are always sold.

The real world results: a depression of some two years, a contraction of the economy, a transfer of wealth upward to the upper quintile, the nation's richest 20 percent. A windfall of this nature is not stimulus to invest but, rather, to transfer the gains offshore. There were no net gains in jobs. There was no Reagan-recovery. There were, rather, net losses, declines in employment. The government's own stats prove it. They are available the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and the U.S. Commerce Department --B.E.A.

Our Major Exports: Death and Destruction

Check the CIA's 'World Fact Book' where you will find listed on the very bottom the United States with the world's largest NEGATIVE Current Account Balance. China is on top with the world's largest POSITIVE Current Account Balance. The downside for China is this: it must prop up the worthless U.S. dollar if it wishes to survive by dumping its product on our shores. The downside for us is this: we are now a vassal state of China. Anyone reduced to shopping at Wal-Mart should know this. If not, I suggest you search the shelves and aisles for goods manufactured in the United States and exported abroad. I doubt you will find any.

If the U.S. citizenry believed that there was booty to be gained with oil wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was fooled again! Clearly, then, the war racket has done absolutely nothing for the US bottom line and less for the working people who are always faced with the prospect of living in a tent city during a downturn. The US, the right wing in particular, for all its bullshit and bluster has less than nothing to show for the many lives sacrificed at the alter of greed and capitalist/imperialistic ambition.

The US follows the Roman model of empire though it is difficult to say which comes first --the collapse of the real economy or the commencement of empire? In the case of Rome, it is clear that the local economy was already in trouble when Rome began its conquest of Dacia for its gold! Had Rome been producing more than it had been consuming it might have survived and prospered. As the dollar is all but worthless today, the currency of Rome --sesterces --was worthless except as a means by which a head count could be made of those attending the gladiatorial contests in the Coliseum. Something needed to be done and quickly. The Praetorian Guard saw an opportunity in Rome's increasingly difficult problems. The Guard took action, selling, at auction, the Roman empire. The highest bidder  was Didius Julianus who purchased the empire with Greek Drachmas, not worthless sesterces.

The U.S. dollar is similarly debauched but conveniently propped up by China. That is not the case because China wants to help us out. Rather, China must support the dollar if it wishes to continue selling to U.S. consumers. Some have said that China "dumped its crap" on the U.S. consumer via Wal-Mart. If it did not, it was said, its own burgeoning population would face utter poverty, millions might starve. Chinese poohbahs will, of course, blame the U.S. Facing starvation, China it was feared would threaten the world, if it had not already.

The New National Capital/Capitol: K-street

K-street is the best little whorehouse in Washington; it's the nation's 'read light district' in which the apparatus of government is pimped! K-street --not Congress --is where the bills, the laws, the policies are written, decided upon for a price! K-street is where the 'Johns' buy the bureaucracy and decide foreign and domestic policies. K-street is where money talks, souls are sold, bullshit peddled.

K-street is where the so-called 'Jewish Lobby' (read: Israeli Lobby) dictates American foreign policy. Some have called it a marriage made in hell, in fact, a Faustian bargain, in which the soul of America is bartered or whored-out outright! What's in it for the U.S. to continue to support the increasingly fanatic, aggressive and extremist governments in Israel? The most obvious answer is this: Israel provides the convincing 'pre-text' for US oil wars in the Middle East. Big oil has said to Israel or perhaps Israel to big oil: 'you scratch my back and I will scratch yours!'.
The Republican Party was once a moderately conservative, pro-business outfit, until it was hijacked by the oligarchy and turned into a full-on predatory machine, hiding behind the facade of hate mobilizing issues like bogus overseas threats abroad and uppity brown people and demanding women at home. Basically, any way that middle class white males could be distracted from their sinking economic status - through the diversion of a sense of superiority over others, or the supposed threat to that superior status - was employed to cover for a party whose true agenda was to quietly produce the greatest transfer of wealth in all of human history.

Having succeeded dramatically, they are back at it again. It is now transparent, for anyone who cares to look, that the ugly tea party movement in America is an invention of the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, Dick Armey and their sick ilk, once again mobilizing a boatload of fools who are angry, but too stupid to know quite why. This explains their endless rhetoric about the evils of the federal government, and their simultaneous desire to keep their Social Security and Medicare benies. It also explains their unmatched idiocy in serving as tools for their own destruction. If they succeed, they fail. If they get their champions elected, they lose their government-provided (Shhhh!) goodies. Brilliant.
In any case, the takeover of the GOP by Serious Money is now well into its second stage. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it is. Seriously, what is the next step after this one fails to provide any long-term solutions to what ails America, as most assuredly will be the case? For a decade or three now, regressives in America have been showing that they are capable of anything. Which more or less answers that question, doesn't it?

If you're willing to savage military icons like John McCain, Max Cleland and John Kerry in order to win elections - and especially after you get away with it every time - you're willing to do anything. If you're willing to mock the 9/11 widows as scheming opportunists, you're willing to do anything. If you're willing to don a tuxedo and joke about missing WMD at a press banquet in Washington, just as you're telling the American military's adversaries in Iraq to "bring it on", you're willing to do anything; Our Long National Neight Isn't Over; It's Just Beginning, --David Michael Green
War is a Racket
It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
--War Is a Racket, General Smedly Butler, Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC, Retired
Conspiracies are how things get done. Some are legal; some are not. A 'corporation', for example, is a conspiracy made legal by 'charter'. Corporations were described by St. Thomas More in his 'Utopia':
I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be. These devices, when the rich men have decreed to be kept and observed for the commonwealth’s sake, that is to say for the wealth also of the poor people, then they be made laws.But these most wicked and vicious men, when they have by their insatiable covetousness divided among themselves all those things, which would have sufficed all men, yet how far be they from the wealth and felicity of the Utopian commonwealth? Out of the which, in that all the desire of money with the use of thereof is utterly secluded and banished, how great a heap of cares is cut away! How great an occasion of wickedness and mischief is plucked up by the roots!
--Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), Utopia
If you are still drinking the Kool-aid, go to Findlaw, where the search term 'conspiracy' of itself will get you 690 cases. Go to the Cornell University Law Library. Type in the single search term 'conspiracy'! Among the hundreds (possibly thousands of cases) you will find No. 03-3156,UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,APPELLEE v.ANTONIO N. TABRON, A/K/A FAT CAT,APPELLANT.

The transfer of wealth upward is deliberate. It's how the 'pay-offs' are laundered. Initially, it was only the top 20 percent who benefited as charts dating to the beginning of the Clinton administration indicate and prove. Clinton briefly reversed the trend. It might have been Clinton's lasting legacy, his finest hour, had not the regime of George W. Bush resumed the payoff as evinced in the resumption of the inexorable flow of U.S wealth upward and outward.

I don't know who it was who said that Satan's biggest 'trick' was convincing the world that he did not exist. The traitors of the 'American' right wing have, in fact, sold out America while wrapping themselves in the flag, convincing you that 'conspiracies' do not exist. But, in fact, St. Thomas More's description of the 'conspiracy of rich men to procure their commodities in the name and title of the commonwealth' was never more accurate or more precisely descriptive than it is today. It is this 'conspiracy of rich men;', this ruling one percent who alone have benefited from GOP 'tax cuts', tax cuts which are inexorably followed by job losses if not recessions/depressions. And it is only the GOP which has benefited from them as working people are denied not only jobs but careers.

This is how the right wing thinks. While sane and/or scientifically inclined people will observe first and conclude later, the right wing acts upon prejudices and/or whatever rationalization makes them feel good about themselves. Supply-side economics is most certainly a rationalization whose origins lay in the troubled and often psychopathic minds of tortured Republicans. Thus 'trickle down' theory helps them feel better about themselves, relieves them of guilt, helps them sleep at night.

The GOP needs to believe. Studies by Stanford University prove that Republicans have more nightmares and night terrors than do normal people. To this end, they shoe-horn reality into a GOP mold; they work backward from foregone conclusions. They cannot suspend a prejudice long enough to reach a conclusion based upon evidence or verifiable fact. They reverse 'cause and effect' and often mistake one for the other. They will shoot first and ask questions later! They will not tolerate facts that proves them wrong.
Here are the basic facts on the major financial panics of the 19th century.

Panic of 1819

The first major American depression, the Panic of 1819 was rooted to some extent in economic problems reaching back to the war of 1812.
  • It was triggered by a collapse in cotton prices. A contraction in credit coincided with the problems in the cotton market, and the young American economy was severely affected.
  • Banks were forced to call in loans, and foreclosures of farms and bank failures resulted.
  • The Panic of 1819 lasted until 1821.
  • The effects were felt most in the west and south. Bitterness about the economic hardships resonated for years and led to the resentment that helped Andrew Jackson solidify his political base throughout the 1820s.
  • Besides exacerbating sectional animosity, the Panic of 1819 also made many Americans realize the importance of politics and government policy in their lives.
Panic of 1837
  • The Panic of 1837 was triggered by a combination of factors including the failure of a wheat crop, a collapse in cotton prices, economic problems in Britain, rapid speculation in land, and problems resulting from the variety of currency in circulation.
  • It was the second-longest American depression, with effects lasting roughly six years, until 1843.
  • The panic had a devastating impact. A number of brokerage firms in New York failed, and at least one New York City bank president committed suicide. As the effect rippled across the nation, a number of state-chartered banks also failed. The nascent labor union movement was effectively stopped, as the price of labor plummeted.
  • The depression caused the collapse of real estate prices. The price of food also collapsed, which was ruinous to farmers and planters who couldn’t get a decent price for their crops. People who lived through the depression following 1837 told stories that would be echoed a century later during The Great Depression.
  • The aftermath of the panic of 1837 led to Martin Van Buren’s failure to secure a second term in the election of 1840. Many blamed the economic hardships on the policies of Andrew Jackson, and Van Buren, who had been Jackson’s vice president, paid the political price.
Panic of 1857
  • The Panic of 1857 was triggered by the failure of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company, which actually did much of its business as a bank headquartered in New York City. Reckless speculation in railroads led the company into trouble, and the company’s collapse led to a literal panic in the financial district, as crowds of frantic investors clogged the streets around Wall Street.
  • Stock prices plummeted, and more than 900 mercantile firms in New York had to cease operation. By the end of the year the American economy was a shambles.
  • One victim of the Panic of 1857 was a future Civil War hero and US president, Ulysses S. Grant, who was bankrupted and had to pawn his gold watch to buy Christmas presents.
  • Recovery from the depression began in early 1859.
Panic of 1873
  • The investment firm of Jay Cooke and Company went bankrupt in September 1873 as a result of rampant speculation in railroads. The stock market dropped sharply and caused numerous businesses to fail.
  • The depression caused approximately three million Americans to lose their jobs.
  • The collapse in food prices impacted America's farm economy, causing great poverty in rural America.
  • The depression lasted for five years, until 1878.
  • The Panic of 1873 led to a populist movement that saw the creation of the Greenback Party.
Panic of 1893
  • The depression set off by the Panic of 1893 was the greatest depression America had known, and was only surpassed by the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • In early May 1893 the New York stock market dropped sharply, and in late June panic selling caused the stock market to crash.
  • A severe credit crisis resulted, and more than 16,000 businesses had failed by the end of 1893. Included in the failed businesses were 156 railroads and nearly 500 banks.
  • Unemployment spread until one in six American men lost their jobs.
  • The depression inspired "Coxey's Army," a march on Washington of unemployed men. The protesters demanded that the government provide public works jobs. Their leader, Jacob Coxey, was imprisoned for 20 days.
  • The depression caused by the Panic of 1893 lasted for about four years, ending in 1897.

The 'Qualty of Mercy' is Missing in Action, A Casualty of War, Ignorance, Right Wing Idiocy

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

For many years, the American right wing, has militated against anything that makes life worth living or bearable. The GOP has actively promoted the enrichment of an American elite (just 1percent of the population) as it actively pursues the impoverishment of every other class, i.e, those not benefiting from GOP tax cuts.

Ronald Reagan's tax cut of 1982, for example, enriched only the top twenty percent of the total population, the 'upper quintile' as it is charted with the official statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and published by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The trend, though reversed briefly during the Clinton administration, resumed under the Jr Bush.

That just one percent of the total population owns more than the rest of us combined is a recipe for economic collapse as 'elite' wealth is exported to offshore bank accounts where it does not create jobs or pay taxes, where it, in fact, does no good whatsoever to anyone but the dwindling neo-oligarchs who presume to rule over us.

These inequities have nothing to do with merit, as the American right wing would have you believe. Gordan Gecko [see: Wall Street] and Milton Friedman were wrong: greed is NOT good! To believe those official cover stories, you must forget everything that you learned in your first semester of university economics. You must discount, for no logical reason, every major economist from Ricardo to Krugman, from Adam Smith to Karl Marx, from conservatives to liberals, from Nazis to Communists. You must believe that all of them were wrong! You must believe that only Arthur Laffer and Ronald Reagan were correct!

You must suspend all critical analysis and swallow the kooky cult kool-aid that tells you: wealth trickles down! You are expected to swallow this 'pill' and to help you out, the American right wing sugar-coated it and given it a focus-group approved but, nevertheless phony, made up name: supply-side economics.

Supply-side economics is peddled, sold disingenuously. The right wingnuts who support it must surely have known that its result is the continued enrichment of an increasingly tiny elite. Reagan's tax cut of 1982, for example, enriched only the upper quintile. Subsequent largesse has benefited only the top one percent of the population, the so-called 'ruling elite'. It is for the benefit of this elite that 'our' government now wages war for oil and threatens the rest of the world with the world's largest nuclear arsenal,

If the bogus-economics were not enough, the right-wing also promotes the idea that the ruling elite of just one percent is rich because they are better, that they are smarter, wiser, that they are, in fact, deserving of this wealth but you --who work and pay taxes --are not! To those who peddle this crap, I say --politely --fuck you! Let's take another look at the origins of this screwed and utterly fallacious clap trap in 'Social Darwinism'.
"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes"

—Portia, The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare
Of Darwinism and Social Darwinism

by Robert B. Reich

The Conservative Movement, as its progenitors like to call it, is now mounting a full-throttled attack on Darwinism even as it has thoroughly embraced Darwin’s bastard child, social Darwinism. On the face of it, these positions may appear inconsistent. What unites them is a profound disdain for science, logic, and fact.
The modern Conservative Movement has embraced social Darwinism with no less fervor than it has condemned Darwinism. Social Darwinism gives a moral justification for rejecting social insurance and supporting tax cuts for the rich. "In America," says Robert Bork, "‘the rich’ are overwhelmingly people – entrepreneurs, small businessmen, corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, etc. – who have gained their higher incomes through intelligence, imagination, and hard work."
The only consistency between the right’s attack on Darwinism and embrace of social Darwinism is the utter fatuousness of both. Darwinism is correct. Scientists who are legitimized by peer review and published research are unanimous in their view that evolution is a fact, not a theory. Social Darwinism, meanwhile, is hogwash.
"Bastard Child" at the very least! Social Darwinism does not follow from "Darwinism". Worse, it attributes to Darwin positions Darwin never took. Interestingly, the term "survival of the fittest" was never used by Darwin. It has been variously attributed, but Hofstadter seems to attribute the phrase to rail road men:
Railroad executive Chauncy Depew asserted that the guests of the great dinners and public banquets of New York City represented the survival of the fittest of all who came in search of fortune. They were the ones with superior abilities. Likewise railroad magnate James J. Hill defended the railroad companies by saying their fortunes were determined according to the law of survival of the fittest.

—Hofstadter, Richard; 1959; Social Darwinism in American Thought, Braziller; New York.
Elsewhere, the term is ascribed to Herbert Spencer who inspired a generation of radicalized, latter-day robber barons. None of them evince the "...quality of mercy" so immortalized by Shakespeare:
[Herbert] Spencer said that diseases "are among the penalties Nature has attached to ignorance and imbecility, and should not, therefore, be tampered with." He even faulted private organizations like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children because they encouraged legislation.

Social Darwinism and American Laissez-faire Capitalism
An equally fallacious corollary to "Social Darwinism" is often phrased this way: the rich are rich because they are better, work harder and are more intelligent. George W. Bush put it more crudely: “The poor are poor because they are lazy!” In the same vein, the conservative economist [Austrian school] Joseph A. Schumpeter likened recessions to a "douche". When something is 'douched', something else is 'washed away'. Significantly, economic policies enriching but one percent of the population result in the 'washing away' of those who are poor! Those 'douched' include millions made homeless by Ronald Reagan's depression of some 2 years or more. Those douched include the recent victims of both Katrina and a BP oil spill disaster that still exacts a toll upon the livilihoods and habitats along the entire Gulf Coast. But, if we are to believe the latter-day robber barons of the right wing, it is all the fault of the victims for getting in the way of progress and greed! 'Greed is good', they will tell you!

It is not surprising that Spencer's influence continues, not in the field of biology, but in economics, specifically those theories most often associated with the right wing: the American apologists, William Graham Sumner and Simon Nelson Patten.

No doubt, Spencer’s ideas received a major boost after Darwin's theories were published, but unfortunately, the issues have been muddled ever since. Simply, the application of "adaptation" and "survival of the fittest" to social thought is known as "Social Darwinism". Social Darwinism is wrong because it is not only a false analogy, it is also an unprovable value judgment. Real 'Darwinism' --of the biological kind --is, by contrast, verifiable, applies to every species and does not assert a 'value judgment. It merely describes an observed process. When it ceases to describe or explain, it will be discarded like every other failed theory. That has not yet happened.

You will not hear the other side of this story on Fox or Limbaugh. In other words, neither Fox nor Limbaugh or similar ilk will tell you the truth. Part of this 'other side' is found in the work of John Nash, recently the subject of the motion picture, A Beautiful Mind, argued persuasively that not only games but societies and economies benefit more from cooperation and community than from competition. Spencer, and the Social Darwinists took the oppose and unfortunate view, a view which was eagerly adopted by liars throughout the right wing because 'Social Darwinism' lends an imprimatur of respectability to what is, in fact, obvious and false propaganda.

Spencer believed that because society was evolving, government intervention ought to be minimal in social and political life. It is conveniently forgotten that government is but a function of society and responsible to it. Influenced by Spencer, many describe American capitalism metaphorically as a “rational man” making rational decisions in a free but presumably 'rational' market. In practice, however, economic decisions may or may not be rational and the free market is only hypothetical. Some markets have been shown mathematically to be 'irrational'. Moreover, "rational self-interest" is said to work collectively behind Adam Smith's "invisible hand".

Conservatives have worked mightily to force reality into the conservative mold. But models must describe reality —not the other way round. Nash proved that cooperation is often more successful than competition, leading to the inevitable conclusion that societies which justify discrimination, income disparity, and social injustice upon a fallacious Social Darwinism, are apt not be so successful themselves.

In A Beautiful Mind, Nash, portrayed by Russell Crowe, is in a favorite watering hole with two colleagues, later termed "negotiants" in his theories. The three young males were distracted by three unattended females. Among them, the blonde, was believed to be the most desirable. Nash immediately saw a mathematical certainty of failure should all three males "hit on" the blonde. Rejection by the remaining unattended females was mathematically certain. Who wants to be treated as a 'second' or 'third' choice? Some fifty years later, Nash still polishes and refines the mathematics behind the only chance that three "geeks" might have with three 'hot' young women. Their only chances lie in cooperation --not competition: is more desirable to be accepted than to accept (!), so with there being reduced pressure to avoid the penalty of the {0,0,0} payoff when there is failure at the first step then the players naturally adapt at equilibrium by becoming "less accepting" and "more demanding." (The demand parameters...rise as the acceptance rate quantities decrease, but this turns out to be at a logarithmic rate).

...the players can be viewed as in a sort of "continuous auction" process where...the players are able to "bid"...and get into the process of cooperation. And this continuous version of the voting process seems probably to be good for generalization to any number of players.
[John Nash from a published email; emphases mine, LH]
The word "theory", meanwhile, is either misunderstood by the right wing or perverted for its propaganda value. There is nothing wrong with "theory", though the word is consistently used by the right wing in a pejorative sense except, significantly, when it is applied to Spencer or, more recently, Milton Friedman and Arthur Laffer. If you should 'theorize', you are called a 'theorist'; but if a right wing partisan (Milton Friedman) 'theorizes', he/she is celebrated. In fact, the negative connotations implied are simply not to be found among those who use the word "theory" either academically or scientifically.

This linguistic abuse is sheer propaganda. The most glaring example is the right wing abuse of the word theory to discredit critics of what is --in fact --an 'official theory' of 911. Inexplicably, hypocritically, and stupidly --those critical of the Bush administration are called 'theorists' but those espousing the 'official theory' are not. In fact, the official theory is shot-through with fatal flaws; it cannot possibly be true; it violates the law of established physics. It requires 'faith' in the impossible.

To believe the 'official theory' you must believe that Hani Hanjour got on board without a ticket, that he walked through what NTSB data states was a locked cockpit door, that he either bailed out or got raptured within seconds of the crash! Neither Hani's name nor that of any alleged hijacker is to be found on the only official list of Flt 77 passengers: the official autopsy report released to Dr, Olmsted via an FOIA request. There are many, many more fatal inconsistencies which utterly disprove the official theory. Any one, however, is enough to bring down the entire rotten edifice. The official 'theory' is, in fact, utter clap-trap for which there is simply no credible, verifiable or admissible evidence in support.

It must be noted that Einstein was, likewise, a "theorist"; so, too, was Newton. Einstein has been confirmed no more times than Darwin; Newton is close enough for mundane applications or "government work". Significantly, neither "theory" has been challenged in court —though both theories may very well be replaced one day by a "theory of everything". There is a political agenda behind the campaign of attacks on Darwinism even as the same constituency supports Intelligent Design --a 'theory' but a baseless one.

Theories are never of a final form. Unlike ideology, real science is self-correcting as new facts emerge from research. Darwin's theories were confirmed by Mendel, accommodated Mendel which, in turn, tended to confirm Darwin. The science of genetics and the discovery of "mutations" confirm Darwin beyond any reasonable doubt. The 'theory' of evolution has, itself, evolved.

Future discoveries will modify our view of Darwin, but that does not discount it. Our view of Einstein, for example, is already modified but in no way discounted. His equations with respect to the effect of near light speeds upon both time and space have been irrefutably confirmed. It is a fact that time slows down as speeds near that of light; it is a fact that matter nearing light speeds contract in the direction of travel.

No one has ever sued simply because Einstein is at odds with a particular dogma. Admittedly, Einstein may have escape bigoted, fundamentalist scorn simply because very few people understood him. It seems that that is still the case. It is certain, however, that no future discovery will ever confirm "intelligent design" —a logical fallacy on its face and quite beyond confirmation of any kind! Theories explain "facts" but facts can often confirm good theories as "fact”, just as facts have confirmed both Darwin and Einstein.

"Facts" tend to be narrowly phrased; theories, by contrast, embrace a wide but finite set of related facts. Darwin and the sciences that followed him are entirely consistent with new discoveries in the field of genetics. [See: Science and Human Values, Jacob Bronowski]

Intelligent design is of a religious nature and people have a First Amendment right to believe it just as I have a First Amendment right not to believe it. I have a First Amendment right to debunk it if I can. And I can! Intelligent Design is bad theory because it explains absolutely nothing and raises other issues which are beyond scientific explanation, thus, a violation of Occam's Razor. Implied it the name "Intelligent Design' is an 'Intelligent Designer'. Who is this 'intelligent designer'? If nothing living or intelligent exists without having been designed first by an 'intelligent designer', then who designed the designer? Who designed the designer of the designer ad infinitum? In short, 'intelligent design' explains nothing; it merely postpones the inevitable, putting at the end of an infinite but meaningless string. Moreover, an unanswerable question which assumes a designer, Intelligent Design is a circulus in probando fallacy. People are free to believe fallacies, but they must not be free to impose them upon other people —especially at tax payer expense!

A fact, for example, is the equation that describes the acceleration of falling objects; examples of theory are both the Newtonian and the Einsteinian view of "gravitation" —seen differently by both. The entire science of genetics confirms Darwin who, interestingly, did not have the benefit of Mendel's research when he wrote Origin of the Species and the The Descent of Man. It was Mendel's research that described the very mechanism by which Darwin’s “traits” are passed on to succeeding generations. Accurate predictions are, in themselves, evidence in support of theories. [See: Evolution in Action, Julian Huxley]

Evolution is often considered to be so true as to be a trivial tautology: what survives survives. Critics of Darwin will often cite the tautology though it does not support them; it supports Darwin. Species which survive, in fact, pass on their genes as well as the random mutations of those genes. This is quite beyond debate. Every farmer who has bred for specific characteristics knows the truth of it. Every cowboy will tell you that if you kill a slow roach, you improve the breed.

Evolution! Adaptation! Natural Selection!

Critics of Darwin raise a strawman. They say that "survival of the fittest" is a circular argument: the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are deemed fittest. There are a couple of problems with that:
  1. Darwin did not use the term "survival of the fittest"! That dubious honor belongs to Herbert Spencer, a "Social Darwinist" who never understood Darwin, nor was he "social"!
  2. When the term "natural selection" is more properly substituted, the argument is not circular and would be so only if the invalid conclusion that "only the fittest survive" is added! The invalid value judgment –survival of the fittest –is falsely attributed to Darwin. Darwin merely described an observed process and gave it a 'name'. He did not attach a 'value judgment' to it as his critics have claimed.
The proponents of "intelligent design" have erected several such straw men. Evolution, for example, has nothing to do with "coming down from the trees". [See: Richard Leakey's "The Origin of Humankind" ; also: Answers to Creationist Nonsense!]

It has been said that no one has yet produced a new specie by selection. But, indeed, farmers have done precisely that! Consider wheat! Wheat does not grow in the wild. Obviously related to ancient grasses, wheat is clearly the result of an ancient application of "artificial selection." Had wheat evolved naturally, it would be found growing wild like prairie grass. But it isn't and it didn't. It is nothing less than the result of an very ancient application of 'artificial selection' in which was 'created' over time an entirely new species.

Social Darwinism, clearly, is one of many ideas that have harmed mankind. It has provided a rationalization for the perpetual and quite deliberate impoverishment of large segments of our society and, insidiously, it has done so with a baseless theory that is fallaciously associated with Darwin.

In simpler terms, the philosophical basis for the American right wing is this:
"Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons...then let them die and decrease the surplus population."


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Steps Toward Taking Back America

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The U.S. is bankrupt, literally owned by China who tops the CIA's World Fact Book with the world's largest positive Current Account Balance. The U.S. is on the very bottom as a result of the policies of four incompetent, corrupt and/or crooked U.S. GOP Presidents: Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr and, more recently, Bush Jr.

The U.S. position on the very bottom may be traced to Richard Nixon's visit to China in the 1970's, a trip which George H.W. Bush laid the groundwork. Prior to this trip, the United States was competitive in world markets, known for its steel production in Pittsburgh, its automotive industry in Detroit, its oil production in West Texas.

I spoke with Bush Sr personally about the deals he cut in China. Admittedly, the interview was hasty, an opportunity seized. Had I been better prepared, I might have tried to pin the Senior Bush down. What --precisely --had he agreed to? What precisely were the concessions made that resulted in the U.S. conceding its leadership to China, reduced to thanking heaven above for merely pulling up the rear?

The U.S. economy might have already collapsed but for the brief resurgence in 'positive' job creation and the increases in GDP during the Carter years. Check the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You will find confirmation that Jimmy Carter is among the best U.S. Presidents in both job creation and GDP growth. Carter, in fact, beats any GOP President since World War II. Carter is reviled by the GOP --not because he failed but because he succeeded! He will never be forgiven that!

My challenge to the incompetent but unrepentant GOP is this: if you truly believe the economic claptrap that 'you' have sold the American people, then repeat these failures in yet another GOP administration to follow Obama. Undo the good that he will have done, just as Bush Jr wiped off the Clinton gains with more GOP nonsense and failed policy. The problem with challenging the GOP is this: they will eagerly take me up on it and outdo previous debacles. Why should they care? In fact, they don't care! The typical GOP politician is owned by the ultra-rich upon whom he/she is dependent. The typical GOP politician/office holder takes his orders and, like a good li'l Nazi clicks his heels and says Heil, Mein Fuhrer! Then he supports a bill that will exclude his rich, elite sponsors from life in the real world!

The GOP and the elite base that supports them have long ago exported their wealth to offshore tax havens. Neither the GOP nor the increasingly tiny elite that supports them have anything 'riding on' American success! This betrayal of a nation by a political party, in fact, a crime syndicate of kooks, liars, crooks and cultists, is simply unprecedented in world history. I can think of nothing comparable to the GOP betrayal of the United States and millions of hard working U.S. citizens.

Since the Bush/Nixon overtures to China, the U.S. has consistently declined and, most recently, achieved 'dead last' on the above referenced CIA list. But what does the U.S. position on bottom mean? It means that instead of earning more money on your job, you may not have a job at all. It means that the U.S. is no longer a producing nation. It means that the U.S. is better compared to a cow that is milked by China. It means that even if you have a job the dollars you earn are worth less (if not worthless) when you buy products at any other outlet but Wal-Mart. Check the shelves at Wal-Mart. Make a list of U.S. made products! Make a list of those products manufactured in China, to whom Bush/Nixon sold our economic souls by selling out U.S. labor.

Reagan/Nixon/Bush policies are incompetent, to be sure, but they are far worse. The policies were known to be incompetent among 'brighter' members of the GOP but were pursued and/or effected anyway.

But why? Simply --the GOP pursued those policies knowing that it would enrich their base, a payoff for their support! These are, in fact, Faustian bargains struck by ambitious politicians! Owned by the elites who finance them, they do what they are hired to do, that is, support, promote and vote for economic policies that benefit only the increasingly tiny ruling elite --now just one percent of the total population.

We are in debt because we don't produce enough to balance the trade. See the CIA's World Fact Book. We are owned by China who will drop us like yesterday's news when it is no longer beneficial to them. We are already broke and on the bottom of the CIAs list. The dollar is worth what it is only for as long as it is beneficial to China to maintain it; secondly, oil is traded in dollars, thus creating an artificial floor. When China drops the dollar every nation selling oil for dollars will insist upon almost any other major currency BUT dollars. At that point, the U.S. will be finished.

In the meantime, turn off FOX and boycott Wal-Mart. Trouble is, even locally owned merchants sell imported goods. I keep wondering --does anyone work for a living anymore? The U.S. used to make cars, steel, appliances and electronics products amounting to millions of jobs. Where did they go? Asia, primarily China! Thank you George H.W. Bush!

During the Reagan years, it was 'economist' Milton Friedman who succeeded in providing the GOP with some 'intellectual cover', a plausible sounding rationalization for 'free market' claptrap that has never worked. The abysmal records of every GOP President since WWII compared to any Democratic President over the same post-war period utterly refutes the many absurd right wing claims about "Friedman" economics. I met Friedman when he was riding the crest of celebrity --his book and TV series 'Free to Choose' was out; he was doing a TV thing on PBS (as I recall). Friedman's assertion --""What kind of society isn't structured on greed? " --was most surely the inspiration for Gordan Gecko's: "Greed is good", a line that defined the motion picture "Wall Street". Friedman was eagerly embraced by goppers desperately in need of an intellectual; 'Greed is good' justified rapacious practices by Wall Street predators and wannabes.
In the wake of the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression, there’s no silver-screen villain scarier than a banker. Far from the halcyon days when a loan officer like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life’’ could be a town’s hedge against financial ruin, the current crop of financiers — both fictional and, even more terrifying, nonfictional — are the least palatable of the new vampires, sucking the lifeblood from 401(k)s, mutual funds, houses, and livelihoods. Victims wake up, pale, depleted, and broke while, engorged with cash, the incubi race to Tourneau for yet another Vacheron Constantin watch.While the latest “Wall Street’’ movie packages its contempt for the whole venal crowd in entertaining trappings, Charles Ferguson’s just-released documentary, “Inside Job,’’ is an altogether different matter. This film, a feature-length investigation of what really happened to bring our entire financial system to the brink, is harder to stomach simply because it’s true. Around the globe, people are living with the consequences of that manic perversion of the system every day.
--'Greed is Good' cinema
Even so, Arthur Laffer would upstage them all with a curve drawn on a napkin. It was all bullshit too! Wealth, in fact, did not trickle down, as promised, but upward, eventually enriching just one percent of the total population. GOPs might have known this if Laffer himself did not. Otherwise, why was the party so eager to embrace this convenient, easily marketable means by which the party could enrich, i.e, pay off its base for their continued support. Laffer was either a naive dupe. and didn't know better, or he was in on the scheme from the 'git go'. Frankly, I don't know and don't care!

American's might have gotten another version, a better, more accurate play-by-play as this all unfolded. But --alas --the Fairness Doctrine had been trashed by Reagan et al and media, increasingly concentrated in fewer corporate hands, seized upon the opportunity, the green light to be irresponsible robber barons. The very first remedies are about the media because nothing else can follow until truth and real debate is restored.

  1. Restore the main points of the Communications Act of 1934, primarily the principle that the people own the airwaves. Updated to include cable easements;
  2. Restore strict ownership limitations that will end the concentration of all media into very, very few monopolistic hands;
  3. Restore the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time. That means that Beck, Billo, Lard Ass and other liars can be refuted and exposed on their time and 'airwaves';
  4. Require 'licensees' to devote a percentage of cable and/or air time to public service and information.
Concurrent with the media reforms I mentioned and support, campaign and election processes MUST be reformed:
  1. the primary system militates against against any system other than the two - party system, i.e, dumb and dumber;
  2. strict limits on campaign contributions will be possible IF the media reforms outlined above are effected;
  3. Direct election of the President via 'instant runoffs' which will a) cut costs of holding elections; b) cutting out those 'middle men' will more nearly put people back in charge of the government while minimizing, as much as possible, the influence of the huge lobbies in various campaigns.
These are merely first steps. Redressing the wealth an income inequalities that have literally destroyed America will require widespread popular resolve, a courageous and competent government free of interference from the paid, entrenched lobbies on K-Street! It will require politicians of courage and integrity. Bluntly: we have very few of those and when one is elected, Obama, for example, he is unfairly attacked, stymied and reviled by crooks, idiots, liars and the big corporate media.

A miracle is required! Alas --the age of miracles is over. I daresay, that short of a miracle, America, as we knew it, is finished!