12.2.2013 Leave a comment
10.26.2013 Leave a comment
We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us.
How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.
The essay from which I pulled this quote addresses the destruction of the land in America and around the world. Berry’s thought: If human beings destroy the land on which they live, they will have committed collective suicide and, ironically, genocide. If human beings lack habitable land upon which to create a life, our species, one of many, will become extinct.
For Berry’s land one could substitute the idea of a world that can sustain both human and a diverse abundance of non-human life. Human beings have known the ‘civilized’ version of this generic world since about 8,000 to 12,000 BC, from the time when our ancestors began to develop an agricultural economy. Although this habitable world is both necessary and irreplaceable, over the last one-hundred years it has become possible to imagine its destruction. About a century ago, the advent of total and world war brought about the age of catastrophe, the age in which we live, an epoch of holocausts and apocalypses, of the subjugation of the human world to globalizing economic and political systems. Nuclear weapons exemplify the destructiveness now in the hands of some of the most belligerent war-making modern states. But it is modern industrial production and consumption, now encompassing the globe, which mortally threaten those species attuned to the mechanisms and rhythms of a first nature billions of years in the making.
Civilized human beings believe themselves to reasonable, pragmatic and thus adaptable. They believe themselves to be masters of and responsible for their destinies. Yet it is the most powerful members of this lot that have shown themselves to be incapable of learning from the situation we all now confront. What must they learn? This: A civilization that requires the hyper exploitation of finite resources will not last forever.
The endgame of the human project has already appeared. These are reactionary times, a moment during which capital is at its apex, and, as such, they thus call for a radical response: Social and political revolution. “If not now, then when?”
10.2.2013 Leave a comment
Norman Pollack’s recent description of the impasse rings true:
The “shutdown issue,” presently mired in the political-ideological battle between the Far Right and the Less-Far Right (House Republicans and Administration Democrats), has little to do with the social welfare of the American people, and instead reveals discernible differences only on the degrees of sophistication informing the programs of each in their determined assistance to corporate capitalism. Republicans in this tableau (a staged presentation going back decades in the roles assumed by each side) are the visceral fascists, striking out at government without realizing how much it helps, assists, and protects business and banking, while Democrats actively, yet with becoming liberal rhetoric to hide from themselves their delusions and treachery, take help, assistance, and protection to a higher level of systemic interpenetration between business and government by means of a regulatory framework written by the affected interests.
Pollack considers the shutdown to be an opportunity:
Shutdown, ideally, equals wake-up, an exposure of widespread impoverishment on one hand, widespread waste, corruption of democratic institutions, and military aggression pure-and-simple on the other. If nothing more, scaring the folks at Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs until the legislative conflict is papered over, is worth the candle, considering that nothing will be done for the poor in any case.
But it should prove to be an opportunity missed by those who need to act to bring Superpower to heel:
Sequestration will ensure the lifeblood of the current American polity and economy, militarism attached to the continuing program of global hegemony, so that neither Republicans nor Democrats find urgency in resolving the present stalemate—and in fact, holding the bottom one-fourth of the people hostage to the utter good will of the political system and the consolidated wealth standing behind it, as the source for a solution, is a good lesson in proper obedience, deportment, citizenship. Dangle just enough social- welfare anticipated goodies before the people to ensure quiescence while simultaneously magnifying ideological differences that hardly exist, and one has the perfect formula keeping the masses distracted from the main show—not shutdowns or debt ceilings, but a foreign policy of global capitalist expansion geared to US-defined financial, monetary, and trade advantages, coupled with necessary regime change for their realization, all wrapped in a framework of massive surveillance at home and the quickening paces for demanding patriotism and conformity.
Today, political accountability originates in the streets. Democracy also. Both originate in the streets because America’s electoral mechanism, its judicial practices and its Congress have proved themselves incapable of protecting the citizenry from the government and, of course, the world from America’s empire. But public action of this kind is now risky and even mortally dangerous. Nevertheless the appearance of anti-system social movements and public protest motivated by a system-critical political culture appear to be necessary conditions for the country if it is to move beyond the current situation.
9.22.2013 Leave a comment
Rob Urie has provided us with a concisely written essay which identifies the predicaments generated by the capitalist democracies in the West as well as by the global empire governed by power elites located in Washington, DC and Wall Street. Reading Urie’s essay is worth the effort.
9.21.2013 Leave a comment
The issue recently addressed by Alfredo Lopez is net neutrality and the work some corporations perform which is meant to undermine this practice. Those corporations are mostly the largest providers of retail broadband services to end users — that is, to common consumers. They wish to impose a model of broadband provision which mimics the model they use when providing cable television access. In other words, cable providers want to charge consumers economic rents beyond the costs and profits they now earn when they provide simple and direct internet access. The issue at stake is not only a moral-economic one, for this profit-motivated attack on net neutrality entails the existence of a power to determine who sees what while surfing the internet, when they see it, how they see it and at what cost. It is no stretch at all to claim that some cable companies wish to become censors. This is the power they want the federal government to give them. Thus, Lopez asks:
Do you trust huge corporations to protect your access to all the information you need and want? Do you trust them to protect your ability to give everyone else access to information you want to spread?
The answer, unless you routinely purchase Brooklyn Bridge shares, is “no”. They can’t be trusted with the power over your right to communicate. They shouldn’t ever be trusted with that power. And the Constitution of this country makes clear that they aren’t trusted.
To be sure, the federal government was also considered an untrustworthy source of social-moral regulation, and thus Congress was prohibited from making any “…law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” These rights were soon attacked by a fraction of the Founders. The federal government still threatens to undermine these rights. Today, as we know, the private powers, as found, for instance, in the possession of some corporations, are so massive that they dwarf the powers feared by the authors and ratifiers of the First Amendment. We should fear private power too.
- Net Neutrality and sopa (jtomlinson2.wordpress.com)
- Landmark Verizon ‘Net Neutrality’ Case Tests Open Internet Rules (business.time.com)
- Net Neutrality (jjohnson1994.wordpress.com)
- Net Neutrality (james11543.wordpress.com)
9.9.2013 Leave a comment
Asked if the administration’s program will be drafted specifically to prevent it from evolving into a single-payer plan, Sebelius says: “I think that’s very much the case, and again, if you want anybody to convince people of that, talk to the single-payer proponents who are furious that the single-payer idea is not part of the discussion.”
Sebelius says such concerns are unfounded because a single-payer plan is not under consideration, and these “draconian” scenarios have muddled the conversation over the president’s proposal for a public option.
“The whole idea of the public option has been difficult, in part, because some of the opposition has described it as a potential for a, you know, draconian scenario that was never part of the discussion in the first place,” Sebelius says. “So, disabusing people of what is not going to happen is often difficult, because there’s no tangible way to do that.”
Let us also recall that Obamacare (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) will be neither universal nor affordable for many. Nor will it impose adequate controls on the costs generated by health care providers and drug companies. It might have mildly disinflationary effects on these costs. But it will not reduce them to a degree that they would approach the costs of care typical of a more rational health care system. Finally, Obamacare will make Uncle Sam the bagman for the health insurance industry.
America could have adopted a single-payer system that was universal, controlled costs, eliminated oligopoly profits, etc. But Obama and his party did and does not want that.
I wonder if the Democratic Party awards style points for exceptionally smarmy legislation?
- Brunswick lawmaker touts single-payer bill at Augusta health care rally (bangordailynews.com)
- Harry Reid Says Obamacare Just A First Step Toward Single Payer (reason.com)
- Single-payer system needed in health care (billingsgazette.com)
- Harry Reid Comes Clean: Obamacare Is First Step to Single Payer System (Socialized Medicine) (freedomoutpost.com)
- Is ObamaCare a stepping stone to government-controlled health care? (foxnews.com)
8.21.2013 Leave a comment
Should anyone find this event surprising? No, they should not. Moritz Erhardt was a commodity. He was nearly fungible. Bank of America could easily find someone to replace him if it had wanted to do so. As such, Erhardt needed to prove his worth to his current and any future employer, doing so while knowing that the job market has been and will remain tight. There ought to be a law, and there is such a law when the hyper-exploited laborer is a medical resident working in the state of New York. Known as the Libby Zion Law. Ms. Zion died when severely overworked medical residents blundered into prescribing medicine for her that would prove fatal. Nationally, medical resident’s hours are now capped, albeit at an astonishing 80 hours per week! There is yet no federal law addressing this matter. There are, however, compelling personal and socio-economic causes which produce deaths like Mr. Erhardt’s. The problem, of course, is an intrinsic feature of capitalism. A commodity like Mr. Erhardt has monetary value only insofar as it produces for those who employ it. Despite his impressive credentials, Mr. Erhardt would soon need a job. He gave his life to secure a good one.
- Did intern Moritz, 21, work to death? (theage.com.au)
- Intern worked ’72 hours straight’ (smh.com.au)
- I was expected to excel: London intern found dead after working ’72 hours straight’ at bank (theprovince.com)
- Intern Moritz Erhardt dies after ‘working until 6am for three days’ at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London (metro.co.uk)
- Bank of America Intern Dies After Working 72 Hours Straight (newsy.com)
- Moritz Erhardt: Graduates reveal brutal culture of City internships after death of 21-year-old ‘superstar’ student (dailymail.co.uk)
- Bank of America intern found dead, peers speculate workload (wtvr.com)
- Bank of America intern dies in London: officials (nydailynews.com)
- Bank of America Says 21-Year-Old London Intern Dies – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Bank Of America Intern Found Dead After Allegedly Overworking In London (buzzfeed.com)