We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, June 25, 2011

NOTICE: I underestimated the time it will take to do some redecorating of my home and to reorganize everything. Hence, I must cease posting for approximately a week. I expect to be back with new posts next Saturday, July 2nd. I think it will also be good for me to take a mini vacation away from my blog--the first since I started in December 2009.

Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer, 2nd edition [a repost of key document]

Click here to access article from Citigroup, courtesy of Biblioteca Pleyades.

I am re-posting this Citigroup document dated March 6, 2006. There have been several attempts by Citigroup to remove this piece from the internet--for obvious reasons. Fortunately, the non-profit website, Biblioteca Pleyades, has archived this on their website and I think it will remain secure there.

It illustrates the unvarnished thinking of the ruling class which in their arrogance see that they are in command of the world, and they command it to extend their wealth and power. It's clear that when communicating within their own circles, they have no compunctions about recognizing this as a fact and encouraging their members to take full advantage of it. 

Because someone leaked the document, we are fortunate to have a "fly on the wall" opportunity to see how this ruling class, who comprise less than 1% of the population, view the world. 

From my May 1, 2010 commentary and original posting:
I found an especially interesting mini-segment of Bill Moyers' final program when he, after the interview with Jim Hightower, briefly referred to this Citigroup document of 2006. In the interview it can be found at 37:13m. After some searching, I found the document on line. The conclusion at the end of the article is sufficient to get the main points:
The latest Survey of Consumer Finances for 2004 from the Fed, just released, shows that the richest 20% of Americans have gotten even wealthier since the last survey was conducted in 2001, and continue to enjoy a disproportionately large share of both income (58%) and wealth (68%). We should make clear that we have no normative view on whether plutonomies are good or bad. Our analysis is based on the facts, not what the society should look like.

This lies at the heart of our plutonomy thesis: that the rich are the dominant source of income, wealth and demand in plutonomy countries such as the UK, US, Canada and Australia, countries that have an economically liberal approach to wealth creation. We believe that the actions of the rich and the proportion of rich people in an economy helps explain many of the nasty conundrums and fears that have vexed our equity clients recently, such as global imbalances or why high oil prices haven’t destroyed consumer demand. Plutonomy, we think explains these problems away, and tells us not to worry about them. If we shouldn’t worry, the risk premia on equity markets may be too high.

Secondly,we believe that the rich are going to keep getting richer in coming years, as capitalists (the rich) get an even bigger share of GDP as a result, principally, of globalization
. We expect the global pool of labor in developing economies to keep wage inflation in check, and profit margins rising–good for the wealth of capitalists, relatively bad for developed market unskilled/outsource-able labor. This bodes well for companies selling to or servicing the rich. We expect our Plutonomy basket of stocks–which has performed well relative to the S&P 500 index over the last 20 years–to continue performing well in future.
As you can see, the Citigroup document starts off with a disclaimer at having any moral values with regard to the increasing disparity between the rich and poor. That is because one can only function well at the top of the capitalist world if one is a sociopath, that is, one who doesn't have any regard for the morality or ethics of the capitalist system, especially in regard to the widespread effects of social inequality and injustice that it causes.

Then you can see why the ruling classes so vigorously pursued globalization: greater profits by employing working people in 3rd world countries while firing relatively unskilled working people in the US and other Western countries. You see, dictators and ruling classes in third world countries are easy to bribe to keep wages low by preventing working people from organizing into labor unions and ignoring any environmental laws they may have. Increasingly of late, more skilled workers in the US are finding their jobs outsourced to developing countries. This, combined with the rich making the rest of us pay for their gambling debts, has resulted in devastated communities, foreclosures on homes, poor health care, cuts in public services, etc. But that doesn't bother the rich and powerful--they avoid taking any "normative" stand on these issues. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

NOTICE: Because I have too many things that must get done today, I am unable to post any articles. I will be back tomorrow (Saturday noon) with more postings.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thailand: “Red Power” or Money Power?

Click here to access article by Foreign Policy Journal. 

The author provides an excellent, and well documented illustration of why governments are targeted by regime change specialists from the Empire, and how their clever strategies are used to engineer acceptable regimes that are compatible with the New World Order and the requirements of neo-liberal policies.
Thailand, like Myanmar and Libya, is an example of an alternative economic system, but the existence of such alternatives systems is little known. Globalization aims to destroy such nationally-orientated experiments in the pursuit of a world system that results in a one size fits all mentality, whether it be in the type of political representation, finance, economics or culture and morality. While Thailand is far from perfect, and runs the risk of opening itself up to the blandishments of foreign investment and the IMF, it appears to have a system that is out of step with globalist demands, and is being implemented with the most idealistic of motives.

The Empire Strikes Back

Click here to access article by David Glenn Cox from OpEd News. 

This guy throws literary acid on the lies of the Empire in order to reveal the truth. And he concludes this essay with the greatest truth of all:
The message is clear, money is power, but there is another message which is not so clear, that there is strength in unity. The average American has more in common with a Los Angeles gang member than they do with any government official. You have more in common with a peasant worker in Juarez Mexico than you do with a Wells Fargo executive and even more in common with an Afghan fighter hiding in the mountains of North Waziristan. They know well that the empire means them no good, the empire wants only to exploit them and to use them and when finished, to dispense with them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shanghai to ration electricity due to power shortage

Click here to access article by Chris Hogg of the BBC. 

I believe that this report is an early warning sign of a more limited energy future that does not bode well for the growth imperative of capitalism. Whether we, as a human race, can stop this addiction to wealth and power by the 1% of the world's population is the critical challenge facing working people today. If we continue to tolerate the wasteful use of scarce resources by the 1%, then we are doomed.  If we are to survive, we simply must design a social-economic system where production and resource planning are guided by environmental concerns and for the benefit of the vast majority who want to live on a peaceful, sustainable, and healthy planet.
...this year, in what the Chinese newspapers are describing as an unprecedented move, 3,000 non-industrial businesses - mainly shopping malls and office blocks - will be asked to close their doors too.

When power is running out, households are the priority for the authorities here.

Immigration and the Culture of Solidarity

Click here to access article by David Bacon from Americas Program.

The article explains how US employers use the criminalization of immigrant workers to exploit and divide working people. Corporations in Mexico, often owned by multi-national corporations, fire their workers to bust up unions, then workers are forced to migrate to the US for work. It clarifies why US corporations want and need the migration of workers to cross the US-Mexican border because they can be easily intimidated and fired. Thus, the US ruling class supports harsh penalties for undocumented workers because they need them to be criminalized. 

The author goes into some detail about how unions and migrants are countering these attacks on working people by building greater solidarity among workers and unions on both sides of the border.

This piece offers an illustration of how capitalist elites are using borders to further their interests. Under the globalization agenda, they have managed to erase border restrictions for themselves: they have no difficulty in moving enterprises, money, or workers across borders in pursuit of profits. On the other hand, they have maintained borders to control working people in pursuit of their profit interests.

European Spring: The Gradual demise of Capitalism

Click here to access article by Gaither Stewart from Dandelion Salad.

The author looks at the "cannibalistic" system of capitalism, the current economic collapse, the resistance occurring in many countries and sees clear signs of its demise.
It [anti-capitalsim] has become contagious. A fever. The Mediterranean world is burning: the demand is economic democracy, political justice and peace. In Spain, Real democracia ya! Real democracy now. The time of indifference seems over and past. Society has awakened. Spain’s indignados, modern Don Quixotes, have occupied sixty plazas across the Spain. The Indignant Ones movement in Portugal is the same. The movement is hailed and imitated by Greeks and Italians. In France, they occupied for a brief time the Bastille. Capitalism should tremble. For when indifference ends, social activism takes over. Revolution is in fact already underway.
Having failed after the American, French, and Soviet revolutions, will working people get it right this time? Stay tuned, get informed, and get active. It is up to us.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NATO, the ultimate transformer

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online. 

The writer uses his typical cynical style to interpret the Empire's latest misadventure in Libya. It might seem a tad in bad taste considering the horrifying violence of the actual events referred to. But, the style has its uses as potent satire, particularly of the extensive efforts of the ruling class to hide its crimes against humanity. In this piece the satire is greatly enhanced by providing an Orwellian interpretation of events. You may need to use some reference sources like Wikipedia, as I did, to interpret some of his allusions to Hollywood creations. 

If this piece is too callous for your tastes, I recommend this one by William Bowles entitled, "William Hague: Following in Churchill’s footsteps" which demonstrates that the current imperialism is following in a grand tradition of the Western capitalist elites.

Killing Democracy One File at a Time: Justice Department Loosens FBI Domestic Spy Guidelines

Click here to access article by Tom Burghardt from Dissident Voice. 
While the Justice Department is criminally inept, or worse, when it comes to prosecuting corporate thieves who looted, and continue to loot, trillions of dollars as capitalism’s economic crisis accelerates, they are extremely adept at waging war on dissent.

Democracy vs Mythology: The Battle in Syntagma Square

Click here to access article by Alex Andreou, a successful Greek lawyer turned actor living in London. (Syntagma Square is the main central square in Athens and near the Parliament where the protests have been occurring.)

 I have never been more desperate to explain and more hopeful for your understanding of any single fact than this: The protests in Greece concern all of you directly.
...this is a battle between our right to self-determine, to demand a new political process, to be sovereign, and private corporate interests which appear determined to treat us like a herd, which only exists for their benefit. It is the battle against a system which ensures that those who fuck up, are never those that are punished – it is always the poorest, the most decent, the most hard-working that bear the brunt.  The Greeks have said “Enough is enough”. What do you say?

World's oceans in 'shocking' decline

Click here to access article by Richard Black from BBC News.

Once again, scientists are issuing alarming statements about the dramatic deterioration in our environment, this time it's about the oceans.
Life on Earth has gone through five "mass extinction events" caused by events such as asteroid impacts; and it is often said that humanity's combined impact is causing a sixth such event.

...the trends are such that it [the sixth] is likely to happen, they say - and far faster than any of the previous five.
And like most such reports, they can only blame "humanity", not that section of humanity, about 1%, who are addicted to the hoarding of wealth and associated power, and the system that delivers this drug to them-- capitalism. 

This piece reminded me of a visit I made to my sister in Florida in the early 1990s. She took me to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park where I went out on one of their boat excursions to do some snorkeling. I immediately recognized the underwater scenes from movie clips I had seen as a child in the 1950s. The scenes depicted an underwater coral paradise, a myriad of colorful fantastic coral plants and a Christian cross planted among these shapes. Well, on this visit I was shocked to see only a graveyard of gray coral.

Then later when I told people about this experience I always received a peculiar dumb look and no response. And this experience has happened many times in my life when I related this experience or some scientific finding to suggest an ecosystem disaster in the offing. Apparently such messages just don't "compute" with all the brainwashing people receive from the consumer culture of capitalism.

It appears that all the reassuring Big Oil ads are paying off for them and for their unlimited growth policies. Check out the recent results from the conservative Rasmussen Reports poll:
...the number of voters who believe protecting the environment gets in the way of a growing economy has reached its highest level in just over two years.
Most of the public apparently insists on maintaining a growth policy as suggested by data like this:
A solid majority (60%) say finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy Americans now consume.  Thirty-one percent (31%) feel the opposite is true.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Conspiracy Theory

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from Foreign Policy Journal. 

This author has published many articles on the internet, but I think this is the most outstanding. While using Orwellian concepts to frame contemporary events, he makes almost laughable the ruling political operatives attempts to hide and/or discredit any scientific evidence that conflicts with the messages put out by the "Ministry of Propaganda". (Actually, Orwell used the term "Ministry of Truth".)

Part of his article provides a good illustration of how the ruling class operatives control the media and intimidate journalists to follow the party line :
I myself had experience with a Huffington Post reporter who was keen to interview a Reagan presidential appointee who was in disagreement with the Republican wars in the Middle East.  After he published the interview that I provided at his request, he was terrified to learn that I had reported findings of 9/11 investigators.

To protect his career, he quickly inserted on the online interview that my views on the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions could be dismissed as I had reported unacceptable findings about 9/11
Another benefit to political operatives provided by the fact that most people are in debt is that they are so effectively able to terrorize people with the threat of loss of income.

The Truth vs. Think Tankers Maloney & Takeyh

Click here to access article by Nima Shirazi from Foreign Policy Journal. 

This is a very good antidote to all the poisonous propaganda against Iran put out by mainstream media. Of particular interest are the sources of the propaganda: they represent the highest levels of US governing class's political operatives--the Brookings Institute, the Council of Foreign Relations, and the New York Times. Such sources are followed closely by leading opinion makers throughout all the major institutions in the US. This arrangement provides some insight on how the ruling capitalist class can so effectively manage the views of the American people.

Given that there is no significant evidence to the contrary, imagine being an Iranian government official, going to an interview with a US media person, and having to deny for the nth time that Iran had any interest in building a nuclear bomb.

Imperial war behind a humanitarian charade

Click here to access article from Socialist Worker. 

The information contained in the article is probably "old hat" to people who follow this and similar blogs. 

As cynical as I tend to be, I have been particularly astonished by the speed at which the US Empire and its satraps have abandoned all pretenses about a "humanitarian mission" in Libya in order to pursue the goal of regime change. The gap between the "mission" and realty is so wide that even leaders of the grossly imperialistic Republican party can't resist the opportunity to exploit it for immediate political gains.

A Long Season of Change Ahead for Every Arab Nation

Click here to access article by Mouin Rabbani from Jadaliyya. 
As the Arab Spring continues to flower and wilt, and flower again and wilt again, there will be simply no way of knowing where things are likely to stand six months in the future.
However, there is one optimistic statement in the article that concerns me:
Where leaders remain in power, the military is playing a much larger role in repression, with regimes effectively declaring war on their own people.

Ironically, however, the mobilisation of conventional military forces may also hasten the success of uprisings. That is because the soldiery is never particularly reliable when it comes to domestic repression.
The repressive rulers seem quite aware of this, and I've noticed that some are employing mercenary soldiers to put down the their citizen uprisings. My memory fails me at the moment, but I think this has occurred in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. This is obviously a dangerous trend confronting the insurgents.

Wisconsin: What now?

Click here to access article by Anonymous from InfoShop News.
Walkerville [see this] is no more, the budget bill has passed, the collective bargaining law will be in effect at the end of the month and the unions are now concentrating on getting the vote out for the recall elections in July and lawsuits. They have also started making preparations for life after the law, which will very much alter the entire public sector's working conditions.
I am posting this because I am very interested in following up on the more dramatic TV displays of opposition to the Wisconsin Governor's aggressive attacks on public unions and severe cutbacks in public services. 

Clearly there are difficulties in formulating strategies to continue the fightback. As I have long known, having lived six years in Madison, that the state is extremely polarized politically. This presents real problems when trying to pursue strategies through the political process. I think that this report reflects those difficulties. 

In any case, organizing effective fightback strategies will be a fairly long road to travel down and people must be prepared for setbacks and detours along the way. As the cutbacks and the economy for ordinary people worsen, and people learn how to organize and spread their messages, substantial progress may finally be realized.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Robin Hahnel: Rollback of Social Reforms [2:35m video]

from The New Significance a brief, but insightful summary of the global economic crisis and its significance for working people. (The graphics were substandard on my computer, but the audio is fine.)

You need to install or upgrade Flash Player to view this content, install or upgrade by clicking here.

Europe's Own "Hurt Locker"

Click here to access article from Research Institute for European and American Studies.

It appears to me that the severe hits taken by working people across Europe is fairly rapidly developing into major turning points that could result in dramatic changes.
The Greek crisis, contrary to what they will tell you inside the august temples of “private investment” and “wealth creation,” has now transcended the frontier of how the “markets” work (or don’t) and is advancing deeply into political territory.
For more current details about the Greek crisis, I highly recommend that you read this piece from The New Significance.


Reasonable conjecture on Israel’s changing demographics

Click here to access article by Lawrence Davidson from Redress. 

Using Israeli government data about people leaving Israel and polling data, the author sees ominous trends that portend a state that becomes thoroughly racist and authoritarian, and a state...
where those who seek a just peace are either silenced, imprisoned or exiled? What do you do with a society where everyone must support injustice or be themselves condemned as traitors or criminals?