SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2010
Democracy for Humans!
Fighting corporate power in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling
Published on Saturday, February 13, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
Democracy and fair elections in the US are in grave danger. What are we going to do about it?
The Supreme Court's recent Citizens United ruling removed restrictions on the amount of money that corporations can use to campaign for their preferred candidates. The five justices who voted for the ruling endorsed the idea that corporations should enjoy the same constitutional rights as human beings.
Why is this ruling a threat to America?
Corporations are not human. They are legal creations. They don't eat, breathe the air, depend on health care, or do many of the other things that humans do. They exist to make a profit. Because of their wealth and size, corporations are far more powerful than humans.
The Citizens United ruling affirms the power of corporations to control the processes of regulation, taxation, and public policy, and to avoid accountability to the public.
For a hundred years, we've had laws limiting the power of corporations over our government, because government in a democracy exists to serve the people. Now that corporations can spend unlimited money to help candidates who serve their interests, politicians will more and more make decisions based on the demands of lobbyists rather than the people who elect them. Real health care reform? Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming? Fair wages, benefits, safer workplaces? Forget about it. ...
What can we do to bring back democracy? ...
Corporate Power vs. Democracy
Are corporations evil? Should we hate them? A corporations is an association, authorized by a charter, for a specific purpose. Corporations are by nature neither good nor evil. They often perform necessary functions, such as manufacturing, services, and trade.
A business corporation should be accountable to the public, not just to major stockholders, CEOs, and profit margins. When it betrays the public trust or commits a serious crime, a corporation should have its charter revoked and be dissolved.
When Exxon-Mobil, Lockheed Martin, Goldman Sachs, General Electric, Halliburton, Blackwater, or Disney have overwhelming power to determine the decisions of elected officials, our freedoms, rights, and well-being are in danger.
When Wall Street firms insisted that Congress strike down regulations like the Glass-Steagall Act, their recklessness caused the recent economic crisis, with milliions of lost homes and jobs. When they press Congress to reduce, privatize, or abolish successful safety-net programs like Social Security, they place millions of older Americans and others at risk of destitution.
When big-box chain stores like Wal-Mart are allowed to take over a town's economy, small businesses go under, Main Street falls into ruin, and minimum-wage no-benefit positions replace jobs with livable wages and good benefits.
When insurance companies can deny health coverage and medical treatment, people suffer and die.
When corporate polluters win exemptions from greenhouse gas emission laws, they endanger future generations.
When energy companies demanded control over oil resources in Iraq, the US went to war based on baseless claims about WMDs and other deceptions.
The Myth of Corporate Rights
A corporation is not human. A corporation is a thing. It's a legal fiction, subject to the definition in the corporation's charter and restrictions imposed by law.
... It's just as absurd to say that a corporation has 'rights.' When we say a company has the right to advertise its goods or services, what we really mean is that we recognize that advertising is part of the normal function of a business corporation, just as transportation is the normal function of a car.
Like a car without a driver, a corporation has no will of its own. Its actions are guided by CEOs and other managers, owners and stockholders, a board of directors, or some combination of these people. They profit through the corporation, by receiving salaries and bonuses or through their investments in the corporation. When those who control the corporation use it to break the law, abuse their power, or violate the corporation's own charter, then the corporate charter should be revoked -- just as the driver who violates traffic rules may lose the use of his or her car.
Corporations have become enormously powerful. Who benefits from this power? Obviously, the CEOs, owners, stockholders, etc. (Employees may work for a corporation, but they have no say in how it is run, except through the influence of independent unions -- which have become increasing powerless in recent decades.)
What does it mean when a corporation can influence government to act on its behalf, even when such actions are harmful to the public or to its own employees? It means that the CEOs, owners, stockholders, etc. enjoy power far beyond what the rest of us possess as individual citizens.
Those who defend corporate personhood, corporate rights, and the Citizens Unlimited decision are arguing for an inequality that threatens the basis of our democracy. They support a new kind of aristocracy, an oligarchy of elite citizens who get their power from corporations.
CEOs, owners, stockholders, et al. already have the same constitutional rights as the rest of us. When they use their corporations, armed with the myth of corporate rights, to expand their power so much that they dominate political campaigns, legislation, and the public debate on important issues, then our democracy is doomed....
...unless We the People take back our democracy and our election system.
Where did Corporate Power Come From? ...
The End of Democracy? ...
... 'Moderate' Democrats and Republicans share a bipartisan addiction to corporate contributions and a dedication to the idea that government should primarily serve big business interests instead of the people they were elected to represent. In 2009, they made sure that any health care reform plan placed before Congress would protect insurance and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies and do as little as possible for people in need of medical treatment. They declared Medicare For All (single-payer national health care) "off the table" and sabotaged the public option.
These politicians shouldn't be called moderate. They're extremists who subscribe to an ideology of corporate power, profit, and privilege.
Media commentators and broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh have praised the ruling. Their goal is an America far different from the one envisioned by our Founding Fathers and Mothers and by all those who've fought for human rights, freedoms, and fairness for working people and those who are powerless. They've duped too many Americans into believing that what's good for insurance companies, Wall Street firms, defense contractors, and other behemoths is good for America.
"We the People" does not mean corporations. Unless we act now to defend the principle that free speech and other constitutional rights and protections belong solely to human beings, our democracy will be history.
* "Challenging Corporate Personhood: Corporations, the U.S. Constitution, and Democracy" Interview with Jan Edwards in Multinational Monitor magazine, October/November 2002 * Move To Amend (sign the petition) home page * Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC) home page
If you need help with actions against corporate personhood or if you have ideas, contact DUHC at 707-269-0984
Scott McLarty is national media coordinator for the Green Party of the United States, which does not accept corporate contributions. He lives in Washington, DC.
A BIG Idea: A Minimum Income Guarantee
Karl Widerquist is a lecturer in politics in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. He serves on the coordinating committee of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG).
What Do Empires Do?
by Michael Parenti article link
Published on Saturday, February 13, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
... But by the year 2000, everyone started talking about the United States as an empire and writing books with titles like Sorrows of Empire, Follies of Empire, Twilight of Empire, or Empire of Illusions--- all referring to the United States when they spoke of empire.
Even conservatives started using the word. Amazing. One could hear right-wing pundits announcing on U.S. television, "We're an empire, with all the responsibilities and opportunities of empire and we better get used to it"; and "We are the strongest nation in the world and have every right to act as such"---as if having the power gives U.S. leaders an inherent entitlement to exercise it upon others as they might wish. ...
... I define imperialism as follows: the process whereby the dominant investor interests in one country bring to bear their economic and military power upon another nation or region in order to expropriate its land, labor, natural resources, capital, and markets-in such a manner as to enrich the investor interests. In a word, empires do not just pursue "power for power's sake." There are real and enormous material interests at stake, fortunes to be made many times over.
So for centuries the ruling interests of Western Europe and later on North America and Japan went forth with their financiers---and when necessary their armies---to lay claim to most of planet Earth, including the labor of indigenous peoples, their markets, their incomes (through colonial taxation or debt control or other means), and the abundant treasures of their lands: their gold, silver, diamonds, copper, rum, molasses, hemp, flax, ebony, timber, sugar, tobacco, ivory, iron, tin, nickel, coal, cotton, corn, and more recently: uranium, manganese, titanium, bauxite, oil, and--say it again--oil. (Hardly a complete listing.)
Empires are enormously profitable for the dominant economic interests of the imperial nation but enormously costly to the people of the colonized country. In addition to suffering the pillage of their lands and natural resources, the people of these targeted countries are frequently killed in large numbers by the intruders.
This is another thing that empires do which too often goes unmentioned in the historical and political literature of countries like the United States, Britain, and France. Empires impoverish whole populations and kill lots and lots of innocent people. As I write this, President Obama and the national security state for which he works are waging two and a half wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, and northern Pakistan), and leveling military threats against Yemen, Iran, and, on a slow day, North Korea. Instead of sending medical and rescue aid to Haiti, Our Bomber sent in the Marines, the same Marines who engaged in years of mass murder in Haiti decades ago and supported more recent massacres by proxy forces.
The purpose of all this killing is to prevent alternative, independent, self-defining nations from emerging. So the empire uses its state power to gather private wealth for its investor class. And it uses its public wealth to shore up its state power and prevent other nations from self-developing.
Sooner or later this arrangement begins to wilt under the weight of its own contradictions. As the empire grows more menacing and more murderous toward others, it grows sick and impoverished within itself. ...
Michael Parenti's recent books include: Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights); Democracy for the Few, 8th ed. (Wadsworth); The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press), and God and His Demons (forthcoming). For further information, visit his website.
WE ARE FIGHTING OURSELVES, OUR LEGITIMACY !! -- WE ARE SITUATED ON THE EDGE OF (IN)SANITY; GROUP CONTAGION, COLLECTIVE FRENZY [ie., consumption; corporate feeding frenzy] - BUSINESS IS DULL IN COMPARISON TO WAR AND HOLOCAUST, YET BUSINESS IS ** BARBARIC DISPOSSESSION UNEQUALED ** -- GLOBALIZATION IS A MUTANT FORM OF COLONIALISM [activist/author Arundhati Roy]; the corporate-agenda claims "globalization with a human face" [a face that is disfigured by evil; twisted by greed]; A FACE UNRECOGNIZABLE BY MOST; INHUMAN -- civil protest has been professionalized, labeled [NGO agendas; media]; THE "PUBLIC DEBATE" MUST BE DE-PROFESSIONALIZED; THE ONLY ANSWER IS A PUBLIC-COMMON ANSWER [vs. leave the world to us; it is too complicated for the public to understand; we are the experts, etc.] - leaving public debate to the experts is a convenient way for a privileged society to ignore the issues; it leads to an expert-anthem [Arundhati Roy], no longer a ** public cry ** vs. globalization [life is profit] !! - the public cry is a whisper, a whimper, most are in denial !! -- a common understanding needed [a social nurturing], a politics of resistance, opposition, voluntary simplicity, a slowing down; ** DISSENT ** [OUR ONLY WEAPON IS OUR REFUSAL], WE MUST WITHDRAW AND DISINVEST FROM THE CORPORATE AND RE-INVEST IN COMMUNITY !!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2010
Empire of the Sunset
Published on Friday, February 12, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
Sometimes, I really miss America -- or at least the idea of it. You know: that can-do spirit, streets paved with gold, champion of the tired and poor, purple mountains majesty, that sort of thing. Say what you will, and call it naïve, but the storybook values at the heart of America's erstwhile image are inspiring.
Like most who grew up here, I was steeped in the lore and legend of this place. Despite obvious flaws in the narrative (how exactly does one ‘discover' land upon which others are living, anyway?) there existed a strong sense that at the end of the day some part of our cherished ideals would emerge in time to set things right. Principles like due process, free speech, the work ethic, checks and balances, equal opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness held meaning if only as a reminder that our collective lives stood for something and that our destinies were in our own hands. It may well have been an illusion all along, yet even the most cynical among us likely believed in the underlying ethos at some point in time.
Unfortunately, that America -- even in its illusory state -- has ceased to exist. We are no longer an abstract beacon of hope to the world, but rather a purveyor of concrete hellfire. We rain automated death from above and commit orchestrated theft from below. We export despair and import disdain. We've abandoned even keeping up the pretense of fair play and adherence to principle. We've become global pariahs and domestic piranhas. Awash in a sea of surfaces, distractions, and palliatives, we unsurprisingly have failed to notice that the sun has already started to set on our adolescent empire.
Indeed, by most measures, the U.S. is rapidly becoming a failed state. Educationally, economically, politically, culturally -- all of our national gauges are pointing in the wrong direction. We're moving down the list on health care, democratic governance, productivity, environmental protection, academic achievement, official transparency, incarceration rates, transportation, and public services. We're ruled by an increasingly emboldened elite class that rewrites the rules at will, increasingly represses dissent, and openly enriches itself at our expense. We hardly make anything on these shores, but still consume everything in sight. We have few public intellectuals of renown, yet are bombarded daily with the foibles of celebrities who are in many cases famous simply for being famous. Our food supply is tainted, our energy is unclean, and our water is drying up. And racism remains as deeply-rooted as ever.
It's not a pretty picture from inside the belly of the beast these days. But never fear, for America has a secret weapon at its disposal that will keep us in the driver's seat for a while longer. Our secret weapon, actually, isn't so secret: weapons. The days of guile, comity, and negotiation are over. Empires don't dicker, they simply take what they want. They don't ask permission or forge alliances, they make demands and extort loyalties under threat of repercussions. They don't cede oversight authority to any international community, or even feel constrained by their own laws and rules, but instead act by fiat and in flagrant disregard of treaty and protocol. Empires, in short, follow the empty logic of "might makes right."
The ruling elite in the U.S. have made it eminently clear that this is our prevailing strategy going forward. We will utilize brute force to retain our position as the global superpower even as we have lost our moral and cultural suasion. America's tenure as a fully imperialist power is barely over a century old, its position as a true superpower about half that, and its status as sole hegemon about half that still. In a mere few decades, we've gone from savior to enslaver, from bastion to bastards, from heroic to horrific. Whatever historical good will we may have accrued has been squandered in a frenzy of hubris and hatred.
Perhaps I'm being a bit obdurate here, so let me clarify things a bit. Empires that reach this point of no return, in which power subsumes principle, are essentially on their last legs. Legitimacy can be replaced by subjugation for a time, but it is always self-defeating in the end. While history is unequivocal about this, it's also true that the recorded annals have never seen an empire quite like the one we've created. By slowly and steadily insinuating ourselves economically and militarily into the affairs of nearly every nation on the planet, we've built an ingenious system in which recalcitrance is very nearly a form of suicide. If this empire falls, it threatens to take everyone with it in the process, thus perpetuating the unspoken but widely understood mantra: "You're either with us ... or else."
Consider the sheer totality of the U.S. military presence around the planet. Hundreds of bases are spread across every continent -- effectively functioning as sovereign satellites of American influence -- with a preponderance located in vanquished nations such as Germany, Japan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These are now our chief exports: military bases, hardware, and soldiers. We've also weaponized space and created an automated execution network that circumnavigates the globe, bringing push-button "justice" to anyone we deem a viable target (including our own citizens). Now we're developing fully-functional robot soldiers to continue the dehumanization of warfare in our stead, which will serve our purpose of fostering submission through fear equally well whether they in fact work properly or not.
Domestically, the agenda has been set. The power elite have now "doubled down" on this strategy of maintaining supremacy through force. Military strategy documents point toward a future of perpetual warfare and relentless competition over dwindling resources, with the highest ideal of "national security" represented by our unmitigated capacity to impose our will on multiple fronts at once. Increasing episodes of disaster, such as in Haiti, will be used overtly as "Trojan horse" moments to expand our military footprint under the guise of humanitarianism. Our federal budgets will concretize all of this with escalating military expenditures coupled with frozen austerity in all other spheres. The military is sacrosanct and, moreover, is now the lone remaining chip to be played in the game of global conquest.
It certainly seems like a grim scenario, one that stands in stark contrast to the idyllic (albeit ersatz) America of our youth. It also begs us to consider what will become of young people growing up in tomorrow's America, devoid as it likely will be of even a redeeming ideological veneer. Will the future populace here be comprised of equal parts swaggering "ugly Americans" and withdrawn, apathetic technophiles? Will we have an America in which people either embrace our military superiority and martial character as a moral virtue on the one hand, or are constrained to immerse themselves in our cultural distractions as a refuge from the emerging security panopticon on the other? In other words, will those ensuing Americans face delimited choices that come down to either institutionalized anger or repressed angst?
I wonder if people living under the auspices of failing empires throughout history have felt similarly. The silver lining (there has to be one, right?) is that all previous empires have fallen and the sun still came up the next day. Indeed, as surely as anything else we can count on in this life, sunset is inevitably followed by sunrise. Whether anyone will be here to see that new day dawning is an open question, and one that we might consider as something of a cultural crucible at this point. Perhaps that apocryphal America from a bygone day can yet be resurrected, only this time for real and not merely as an ideal. In my mind's eye, I can envision a door opening up ahead even as the one behind us closes.
Becoming a Third World Country
Silver Bear Cafe 02-11-10
The term "power elite" traces to the writings of C. Wright Mills, including his 1956 book, The Power Elite. The concept posits wealthy and/or well connected families and individuals who seek to expand their wealth by applying and promoting dominant social themes. Such themes may eventually develop into widely held archetypes or memes.
Often such themes seem to originate with the United Nations, World Bank, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization or other international bodies that are receptive to influence by the power elite. The themes then are picked up and rebroadcast by the mainstream media. Thus, what may seem to be the work of an independent institutional staff may actually be the brainchild of the power elite.
Concepts such as bird flu, Islamofascism and peak oil are so extensively promoted that much of the public unquestioningly accepts their fearful premises and demand action. Those with the wherewithal to provide solutions - products, services and corporate offerings via public markets - may earn vast profits as a consequence.
There is little contemporary scholarly analysis of the concept of the power elite, but it corresponds roughly to what once was called "the money power."
There are a variety of theories as to the composition and character of the power elite. It sometimes is referred to ominously as the "Illuminati," the "black church" or the "black nobility." It is not necessary to confirm such characterizations to recognize that the action and influence of modern money power are pervasive.
In most conceptions, the core of the power elite coalesces around the European and American banking dynasties and some elite, titled families, or it may be characterized as a "sub-church" within the Roman Catholic, Jewish or other religion. [ref: MM Addendum 1]
In some conceptions, the power elite includes members who claim to trace their ancestry to ancient times, even to Babylon and beyond. This accords with the notion that members believe their pedigrees differentiate them from the "common herd." [ref: MM Addendum 2]
Signifiers of power elite activity include a disdain of free-markets and the persistent and uncritical promotion of a theme or meme to the exclusion of contrary evidence or argument.
Unlike Bush, The Bell is Anti-State & Anti-War
Friday, February 12, 2010
"You've probably heard about the "Miss Me Yet?" billboard in Minnesota, featuring a picture of George W. Bush. According to Fox News, a "group of small business owners and individuals," obviously not fans of Barack Obama, paid for it. That's all well and good, and while I'm no fan of Barack Obama, I don't long for the presidency of George W. Bush. From a fiscal perspective, the Bush Administration was a disaster. Before you repeat the Dick Cheney talking point that most of the spending was for defense and two wars. Let me go ahead and tell you, that's not true. Bush was the biggest spender since Lyndon B. Johnson, dramatically increasing non-defense discretionary spending. Remember, he is a "compassionate conservative," which is apparently a nice term for "statist." Bush signed a new entitlement into law, his administration enacted the most regulations since Nixon ("we're all Keynesians now") and he backed the Wall Street bailout while telling us that he "abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." This is only the tip of the iceberg on his fiscal policies." - United Liberty
Dominant Social Theme: Revisiting Bush to make sense of it all.
Free-Market Analysis: We are returning to our article of yesterday regarding George Bush (Should US Voters Miss George Bush?) because we were surprised to find that some of our readers did not believe it was strong enough or that portions of it somehow constituted a defense (!) of the man. In fact, the article we have selected to excerpt above is not exactly a mainstream one (forgive us) but made approximately the same points we did. We were surprised to find it even took some of our tone and focus. There are obviously some general points about the Bush administration that would occur to almost any free-market thinker, so we are not surprised by the similarities.
And NOW - right here - we will state even more clearly than we did yesterday that those who write for the Bell find various policies of the Bush administration to be exceptionally odious and, not to put too fine a point on it, evil. Evil because when the administration could have done good (or at least less bad) it chose the path of war, destruction and oppression both at home and abroad - often in the name of a fictitious and cynical "security." It devalued the currency, brought ruin to the house of its citizens and generally did what it could to confuse the conversation of liberty and debase each and every program on which the republic had been built.
We hope that's clear enough.
Many will defend Bush by stating that he initiated many of his most destructive programs (including two wars) as a response to 9/11. But it is unfortunately obvious to anyone who studies the matter that the administration spent a great deal of energy covering up what happened on that terrible day - whatever it was - and even more energy making sure that those inclined to try to get to the bottom of 9/11 were never able to. We've written about this many times before as many others have and the only new point we have to add to the conversation is that sooner or later the truth will emerge - in all its ugliness - because the Internet simply will not let the issue die. Within the fullness of time therefore we expect the Bush administration to look even worse than it does now.
The point we were trying to make yesterday (and thought we did) was that his administration marked a watershed moment in the dialogue surrounding the state's normal oppressive nature. Like a Roman Caesar, Bush dramatically increased the power of the state and of its overt repressive nature. Until Bush, we would venture to say, the domestic American conversation (the popular one, anyway) revolved for the most part around varying degrees of freedom and citizens' rights - or lack thereof. BUSH ATTEMPTED TO CHANGE THE RHETORIC ITSELF. In doing so, the Bush's regime marked a further - and important - shattering of the American political system and cultural conversation.
Bush was perhaps the first American president since Abraham Lincoln (who jailed many who disagreed with him) to elevate state brutality including torture to an exalted level - as an ongoing necessity for increased domestic protection and security ETERNALLY. Additionally, of course, he waged several brutal wars overseas that killed and maimed thousands. But again, our other main point was that Bush is not given credit for the amount of damage he did - quite "cleverly" since many remain convinced he is a dope.
We recently received the following missive from Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty: ...
... We hope that the Patriot legislation is not renewed. But in any event, the Bush administration was responsible for this heinous bill, just as it was generally for the various consolidations of power that took place during his long eight years in office. Why? Because the Bush family historically (along with others of a certain class) has reportedly and evidently served the interests of the power elite, those few families and individuals whose goal it is, apparently, to create a worldwide, centralized bureaucracy and economy with a single currency and an EU-style, top-down, "democratic" leadership.
Yes, Bush and those close to him worked in service of these elites, in our estimation, and spent eight years doing what he could to erode one of the main stumbling blocks to further global consolidation - America itself and those republican red-state patriots whose guns and pickup trucks constitute a kind of "thin red line" warding off even more Draconian US fedgov (and international) oppression. This intention to whittle away at American culture was the proximate cause for the nutty, failed immigration bill (as we pointed out yesterday) that he tried to pass in his last year in office.
The Bell is anti-state and anti-war (other than for limited, potential instances of national/domestic defense) because free-markets flourish best when the state is minimized. Only free-markets with their competition and entrepreneurial fervor can lift a society up and guarantee increasing living standards for all, including better levels of health, etc. America and the West generally are very far from free-markets at this point, though we do believe that the Internet is change-maker that will gradually push the pendulum back toward freedom.
Conclusion: Americans shouldn't want Bush back because of the ruin he inflicted on the American economy and the two terrible wars he prosecuted, which have left an increasing legacy of militarism in America itself. But just as importantly, Americans shouldn't want him back because he attempted to change the fundamental American rhetoric of freedom to one featuring security and defense of the realm, including justifications of torture and international rendition. He was, as we pointed out yesterday, a kind of transformational president - consistently underestimated in our opinion -- and it is only thanks to the Internet that he may not remain one.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2010
Shadow Elite: How the Worlds New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market
by Janine R Wedel
How the nation is really run, and how decisions are really made, keep changing. Today, with the border between government functions and private consultants and lobbyists more porous and indistinct than ever before, new kinds of cliques and networks are assuming power. This is a transformation that, until now, we have lacked the concepts to understand. In Shadow Elite, anthropologist Janine Wedel charts, for the first time, the new system of power and influence that arose with the twenty-first century. At its apex are players and networks loyal only to their own. They relax government rules of accountability as well as business codes of competition, undermining government, free markets, and democracy itself.
The drive to privatize and deregulate, and the proliferation of complex technologies, have created an environment for players who redefine themselves as state or private, depending on the opportunities. From the manipulators who merged state and private power in the ruins of the Soviet empire to those who pushed us into a misguided war in Iraq, to those now playing at the margins of America's increasingly privatized foreign policy, Shadow Elite explains the spread of a new species in the ecosystem of public policy. Profoundly original, it speaks to theories of democracy, international relations, and the state, and will no doubt spark controversy.
"Using her expertise in Eastern European communist governments, author and public policy professor Wedel (Collision and Collusion) has pulled together a shocking expose of those dismantling U.S. democracy from the inside. Labeling the new breed of U.S. political operators 'flexions,' she finds individual roles as lobbyists, government insiders or elected officials converging into a single network 'snaking through official and private organizations, creating a loop that is closed to democratic processes.' Wedel shows how a core group of flexions (neo-conservative cold-warrior Richard Perle, retired four-star army general Barry R. McCaffrey, Obama financial advisor Larry Summers, etc.) have risen to power on an unprecedented confluence of four transformational 20th and 21st century developments: government outsourcing and deregulation, the end of the Cold War, the growth of information technologies, and 'the embrace of "truthiness."' By wearing several hats simultaneously (think tanker, retired military or government official, corporate representative, 'objective' expert), Wedel shows how a flexion can gain extraordinary insider knowledge and influence in order to custom-tailor a version of the 'truth' benefitting the highest bidder. In this way, they not only 'co-opt public policy agendas' but 'craft policy with their benefactors' purposes in mind.' This fascinating, authoritative wake-up call should satisfy any American who wants a handle on the republic's most successful agents of corruption." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Many people today feel that they're swimming in a sea of corruption. Who is really in charge? Why do the same people reappear under various professional identities, pressing a suspect agenda in one influential venue after another? According to award-winning public policy expert Janine Wedel, these are the shadow elite, and they are both powerful and dangerous.
In Shadow Elite, Wedel teaches us to recognize and understand how this new group blurs and erases the boundaries between government, private, and nonprofit organizations--all to their own benefit. The shadow elite ultimately answer only to each other. They can be found lurking behind the scenes of Iran-Contra, Blackwater, and the scandal of Harvard economists in post-Soviet Russia--and they are steadily gaining power. Profoundly original, Shadow Elite gives us the tools that we need to fight this disturbing, destructive, and antidemocratic trend.
Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Are Upending Our Democracy
By Janine Wedel, AlterNet
Posted on February 4, 2010, Printed on February 11, 2010
Wedel argues in her new book that a group of corrupted elites are destroying the principles that define modern states, free markets and democracy itself.
How to invest for a global-debt-bomb explosion
Prepare for an apocalyptic anarchy ending Wall Street's toxic capitalism
Feb. 9, 2010, 12:01 a.m. EST
Wake up investors. Are you prepared for the economic anarchy coming after a global-debt time bomb explodes? Are you thinking outside the box? Investing differently? Act now -- tomorrow will be too late.
Start by looking past the endless cable skirmishes between Rush, Glenn, Bill and Shawn versus Harry, Nancy, Ben and Barack. Look way past the insurgency bonding Sarah and her diehard Tea Party revolutionaries with Ron Paul's Neo-Reaganite ideologues, Fat-Cat Bankers and the Party of No, all planning a massive frontal assault on the 2010 elections, hell-bent on destroying the presidency. All that's the sideshow.
Europe's debt woes won't recede
European stocks managed to look somewhere other than Greece, Spain and Portugal early Monday, but don't bet on that lasting.
The Big One is coming soon, bigger than the 2000 dot-com crash and the 2008 subprime credit meltdown combined. A huge market blowout. And as Bloomberg-BusinessWeek predicts: "The results won't be pretty for investors or elected officials."
After the global-debt bomb explodes don't expect a typical bear correction followed by a new bull. Wall Street's toxic pseudo-capitalism is imploding. Be prepared for a massive meltdown. Yes, already the third major bubble-bust of the 21st century, triggered once again by Wall Street's out-of-control Fat Cat Bankers. And it's dead ahead.
Can your family survive in the anarchy after the debt bomb explodes?
America's already descending into economic anarchy. We're all trapped in a historic economic supercycle, a turning point that must bleed through a no-man's land of lawless self-destructive anarchy before a neo-capitalistic world can re-emerge. Investors tell me they "feel" it at a deep level, "know" it's happening. They keep asking: "What's the best investment strategy to prepare now?"
This is no joke, folks. Are you prepared? Or preparing? Will your family survive in a post-apocalyptic world, when anarchy is rampant in America? Look at Washington, Wall Street and Corporate America today. You know it's already begun.
You are witnessing a fundamental breakdown of the American dream, a systemic breakdown of our democracy and our capitalism, a breakdown driven by the blind insatiable greed of Wall Street: Dysfunctional government, insane markets, economy on the brink. Multiply that many times over and see a world in total disarray. Ignore it now, tomorrow will be too late.
Not a war about ideology, but an economic game-changer
This is a war to control 299 million American taxpayers. A war waged by the "Happy Conspiracy" Jack Bogle profiled in his 2004 "Battle for the Soul of Capitalism," a war machine of Fat Cat Bankers, CEOs, 42,000 mercenary lobbyists and a Congress held hostage to unlimited campaign donations. Their conspiracy has been waging this war against Americans for decades, long before the Supreme Court exposed their dirty secret.
Yes, your enemy is that "Happy Conspiracy:" It has degraded into a pseudo-capitalism with no conscience, no sense of the public good, hell-bent on controlling America's mind, your money and the global markets for its own selfish ends. And eventually it will trigger the game-changing global-debt bomb, the third global meltdown of the century that finally ignites the Great Depression II, plunging us into an era of anarchy.
Investors keep asking: "If it is coming, how do I invest? Buy gold? Commodities? Hedge? Short trading? TIPS? Hoard cash? Buy and hold? Lazy Portfolios?" What if the Dow sinks below 5,000? Maybe the worst-case scenario recently predicted by Bob Prechter: A deeper plunge to the 1,000 range? Imagine a global depression, a bear market dragging on for decades: "How do I protect my family? Can I ever retire? What do I invest in? How can anyone prepare?"
How America's two classes are preparing for a descent into anarchy
As America descends into anarchy your family's survival and your ability to retire will depend on which of America's two economic classes you belong to out of our total of roughly 300 million citizens:
"Average Joe & Jane" Americans: You're one of 299 million Main Street Americans. Average income is $50,000, only 10% of the average bonuses paid to Wall Street's Fat-Cat Bankers. Or you're already one of America's 20% underemployed ... maybe on food stamps ... maybe among the 47 million with no medical insurance ... your retirement assets are about $50,000, a year's survival. And you are "mad-as-hell" you're not working "inside" the "Happy Conspiracy."
"Happy Conspiracy" Insiders: You're one of the lucky million or so elite Insiders in the "Happy Conspiracy." You may work for a Fat-Cat Bank that American taxpayers bailed out last year so you pocketed a 2009 bonus gift of somewhere between $600,000 and $10 million. Maybe you're a Corporate American CEO. Maybe you're on the Forbes 400 list. Or you're a U.S. Senator.
Here's how these savvy Insiders are preparing: In his 2008 best-seller, "Wealth, War and Wisdom," hedge fund manager Barton Biggs, a highly respected Insider in the "Happy Conspiracy," advised rich insiders to expect the "possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure."
His advice: Make tons of money. Buy an isolated farm in the mountains. Protect family against the barbarians: "Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food ... It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson."
How Wall Street insiders will treat Main Street in 'The Anarchy'
And when the barbarians do come, firing "a few rounds over the approaching brigands' heads would probably be a compelling persuader that there are easier farms to pillage." Imagine a scene like Port-au-Prince after the quake. Biggs is no radical anarchist, he's an establishment Insider, a great guy. We both arrived at Morgan Stanley about the same time. Biggs remained 30 years, was Morgan's chief global strategist. Ten times Institutional Investor magazine put him on Wall Street's "All-America Research Team."
True, he did hedge his prediction of the coming anarchy. His odds: 1 in 10. But in an early 2009 Newsweek article, "A Generation of Destruction: Throwing money at the problem and propping up greedy banks is like trying to put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it," Biggs teased us with a bleak scenario: "Great cycles of wealth creation have usually lasted about two generations, or 60 years. Inevitably, unequal riches corrupt and create envy, and they are always followed by a generation of enormous wealth destruction."
Warning: By vastly understating the risks while his Insiders prepare for the coming anarchy, Biggs is quietly misleading and disarming the rest of America.
The truth is Insiders in the "Happy Conspiracy" elite will follow Biggs' ultra-simple investment strategy: Make massive amounts of money fast using short-term strategies, spout lip service about the "public good." But always act in your own self-interests first, preparing for when anarchy spreads worldwide in an economic pandemic.
How can America's 299 million 'second-class citizens' invest for anarchy?
So what can the average Joe and Jane, the other 299 million Americans do? Warning: In anarchy, nobody knows. Period. The only possible strategy: "Think Swiss Family Robinson." Stockpile like a "Happy Conspiracy Insider."
Many still challenge us about proven strategies like buy and hold, Modern Portfolio Theory, Lazy Portfolios. Unfortunately, they all need a real democracy driven by honest, transparent capitalism to function effectively. They can't function in anarchy.
And Wall Street's already lapsed into a toxic pseudo-capitalism, using it to manipulate Main Street America. Eventually that mindset will force Main Street Americans to misuse the same dark "Swiss Family Robinson" tactics as the Insiders in order to survive the coming anarchy.
What's our alternative? A new American Revolution
But wait, wait, I hear you asking loudly: There must be an alternative to this dark descent into anarchy, to the loss of everything that made America the greatest nation in history?
Yes there is an alternative. Out of the ashes of anarchy must come a Second American Revolution. But unfortunately nothing will happen until a great crisis awakens America ... shocks the conscience of the masses ... we are "asleep" ... only a seismic, systemic shock will trigger the necessary revolution.
The future of our economy and indeed our nation demands another political revolution. We must take back our democracy and capitalism from a government run by Wall Street and its "Happy Conspiracy" ... their toxic self-serving power hold must be broken and, if not, a rising new conspiracy of China, India, oil-sovereignties and asset-rich nations will replace our homegrown "Happy Conspiracy" as it eventually goes down in the flames of anarchy.
Sadly, that's the future many of us realists see ahead for America.
Copyright © 2010 MarketWatch, Inc. All rights reserved.
Wealthy "Insiders" Are Preparing for Collapse
20 reasons Global Debt Time Bomb explodes soon
Commentary: Which trigger will ignite the Great Depression II?
Feb. 2, 2010
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2010
Descent Into Barbarism:
The US and NATO Wage War on the World
February 09, 2010 "Information Clearing House"
The argument is won: capitalism as an effective system to organise society and provide for human needs has expired. The evidence is conclusive. Trillions of dollars to kickstart the economy in the US and Europe may have given an ephemeral lease of life to the financial class to spin the casino wheel once again, but it is more apparent by the day that the tentative “recovery” has spluttered to a standstill. Gridlocked by unprecedented levels of personal and national debts, the engine of production – the real economy – is in a state of rigor mortis.
This collapse has been a long time in the making. Decades of easy credit was up to now a way for the ruling class – government, corporations, financial institutions – to let the majority of workers subsidise the chronic loss in their livelihoods, which have been drained since the mid-1970s by the oligarchy’s self-aggrandisement from wage cutting, regressive taxation and public spending cuts. The political class – whether liberal or conservative, right or left – have facilitated this giant wealth-siphoning process.
However, the point is that the economic system is now objectively shown to be moribund. And it is impossible for so-called mainstream politicians to think of any other way of doing business. They are ideologically blind. Recall former British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher’s arrogant assertion: “There is no alternative”. Likewise, US President Barack Obama insists on throwing billions more dollars at the banks and financiers on Wall Street. But that won’t kickstart an economy in which millions of workers are without jobs and homes or who are on crumby wages and up to their necks in debt. The profit system has hit an historic dead-end and this gridlock is a result of deep trends to do with the decline in capitalism as a mode of social production (falling wages and profits and the concomitant explosion in financial speculation and debts).
Widespread poverty and human misery is now seen on a massive scale in the so-called developed world. Some 40 million Americans, for example, are subsisting on food stamps. The distinction between “developed” and “developing” economies (always a myth anyway) is blurred. The ranks of the world’s long-suffering poor are swelled with dispossessed blue and white-collar workers and their families from across the US and Europe. Together more than ever, they stand shut out from those gated havens of obscene wealth for a global minority.
Similar historic junctures have been witnessed before when capitalism floundered from its inexorable tendency to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Disturbingly, the release valve for the system and its bankruptcy has always been war. Death and destruction is the lender of last resort to an economic system that – despite itself – inevitably polarises wealth to an unworkable degree. The First and Second World Wars – claiming more than 70 million lives over a period of less than 10 years – were effectively the ultimate, grotesque bailouts.
In our time, war, it seems, has already begun. The US oligarchy and its NATO allies are waging a veritable war on the world: killing, disappearing and incarcerating millions of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – a war that is expanding into Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa, with the militarisation of sea lanes and oceans (see Chossudovsky, Globalresearch.ca) and the setting up of “forward projecting” military and missile bases in every continent (see Rozoff, ditto). On top of ordinary poverty and misery, the world is truly seeing another historic descent into barbarism. Given this war-mongering dynamic, the growing US antagonism with Iran, Russia and China is far from an idle threat. It is the logical next step for a deeply illogical economic system.
But history is not inevitable. We are not necessarily programmed to repeat its horrors. A combination of global communications among citizens and political and social consciousness may be enough to prevent a military conflagration and overthrow the misrule of the oligarchy. What is needed is a) a widening of the recognition that capitalism as a system of social production is finished; and b) the case has to be confidently made that an alternative is very possible. That alternative is socialism (the subject of a further article). To those who remain skeptical, they should bear in mind the stark choice that Rosa Luxemberg foresaw for humanity: that is, socialism or barbarism. And we already have the latter.
The Best Interests of the Corporation
Published on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
Every day legal corporate behavior causes much more damage to the commons than corporate illegal behavior. Electricity generators do not break the law when they emit billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year warming the Earth to dangerous levels. No law is broken when automobile manufacturers put out millions of vehicles that contribute to the same problem. Tobacco companies do not break the law when their products kill nearly 5 million people a year. Consumer goods companies are within the law when they buy from third world suppliers who operate sweatshops and use child labor. Employers operate within the law when they pay the minimum, but not a living wage. Manufacturers do not break the law when they threaten communities or leave them for dead when they move their operations overseas.
The problem is not that every once in a while corporation accidentally does something that harms the public interest. Corporate abuse of the commons is a daily ongoing event. At least in theory, those that direct the company have the power to make it stop. It continues as the result of conscious decisions made by company managers.
Think about it. If all modern corporations were good citizens, there would be no corporate abuse of the commons. As corporate damage to the public interest became evident, the directors of the company would simply close or modify the company's operations to eliminate the behavior or product that was causing the damage. ...
Greed may cause a few unscrupulous managers to steal from their companies, but it does not cause directors to uniformly cause their companies to continue harming the public interest. At best it is a minor factor in keeping big companies from choosing the good citizen option. If corporate abuse of the commons can be traced back to an emotion (which I don't think it can), it is not greed. It is fear.
The question for directors when their company is discovered to be harming the public interest becomes what are they going to do? Despite the fact that all companies these days want to claim the mantle of being a "good citizen", the decision before them now is not that simple.
Directors are answerable to shareholders. They are expected to manage in a manner that fulfills the investors' expectations. The corporate law ensures this by imposing a legal duty on directors to "act in the best interests of the corporation".
This duty has two parts. First, directors have an obligation to manage the company in a way that optimizes shareholder value by making money. Secondly, directors have a duty to protect the company when its survival is threatened. Together, these duties add up to a duty to protect and enhance shareholder value.
This duty is not just words. It is legally enforceable. Shareholders are entitled to bring a lawsuit against directors if they think the directors have not acted in their company's best interests. Such lawsuits can result in directors becoming personally liable to shareholders for losses the shareholders incur. It is this part of the corporate law (not some human emotion) that is the source of all continual corporate abuse of the public interest.
Rights and duties
When companies don't stop on their own, it is government's job to make them stop. This is achieved by new laws being adopted that effectively prohibit the offensive behavior. If government doesn't enact such laws, the status quo is preserved and the anti-social behavior (and the damage that comes with it) can continue.
When government is about to change the law in a way that threatens corporate profitability, modern companies can take the good citizen option and acquiesce or they can take the political option and fight to preserve the status quo. The good citizen option is about fulfilling the duties of a citizen. The political option is about using the rights of a citizen to influence government and preserve the company's existing freedom to harm the public interest. ...
It is relatively easy to pass laws keeping individuals from engaging in the abuse in the future. Individuals generally don't defend their anti-social behavior before national or local legislatures arguing it should be allowed to continue.
For big corporations on the other hand, the situation is different. Their only purpose is to pursue financial gain. If they are only achieving this goal by damaging the public interest, they have an interest in being allowed to continue. Faced with huge costs and risks (and possibly no obvious alternative), this interest can be compelling.
In this situation, being a good citizen and passively accepting new regulation for the benefit of the public interest is not really an option. The company's behavior up to now has been perfectly legal. Its logical course of action is to try to preserve the status quo-use its considerable political might to keep government from cutting off its ability to harm the public interest. In this, they have become remarkably successful.
Democracy at work
Some will say that the inability of government to pass new laws protecting the commons is simply democracy at work. They will argue that freedom should not be infringed upon until a majority of the people's elected representatives determine that a new law is necessary. On its face, this argument has some appeal. However, it doesn't take much to scratch beneath its surface and see how flawed it is.
The extent of the destruction is not in doubt. Our planet is being destroyed. Millions of people are being killed. Tens of millions are having their human rights violated. Hundreds of millions are being treated without dignity. Every year more of our communities are being used and left for dead.
While it is true that the liberal democracy was designed to be weak in its ability to impinge on personal freedom, it was not supposed to be so weak as to not be able to protect the public interest altogether. The very purpose of government is to prevent abuses of this nature from happening. If government is incapable of passing laws that put to an end destruction of these magnitudes, then we must ask ourselves "what good is it?" ...
... Our government of the people, by the people and for the people has become a government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations. In all important matters the economy and the interests of big business come first. This has occurred without the people (for whose benefit government was designed) even recognizing it let alone agreeing to it.
It is nothing short of a travesty that the people's elected representatives have been converted to become the representatives of big business. We are now ruled by an aristocracy of corporations.
In a liberal democracy everything is legal until a validly enacted law makes it illegal. This leaves the public interest exposed to corporate behavior that is legal but harmful and immoral. The corporate law dictates that directors of a company found legally harming the public interest should put the company's interests above even the public interest. As a consequence, companies exercise their rights of citizenship to continue avoiding its obligations. The public interest remains exposed and the damage mounts up.
The question is what can be done about it? Fundamentally, there are only two answers. Either government must be strengthened to give it more power to rein in corporate abuse of the commons or the law that requires the modern corporation to go on wantonly harming the public interest must be changed.
© 2009 Robert C. Hinkley
Robert C. Hinkley is a corporate lawyer and former partner in one of America's largest law firms. He now lives in Sydney, Australia. "The Commons Exposed" is a excerpt from his new book "Corporate Citizenship: A Path Towards Eliminating Corporate Abuse of the Public Interest". Those interested in obtaining a copy of Corporate Citizenship can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Case Against Corporate Speech
Published on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 by the Wall Street Journal
Join the movement. For the greater good.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2010
Think Government Is Corrupt? You May Face 10 Years In Jail
South Carolina forces “subversives” to register with the authorities or do hard time
Global Research, February 9, 2010
Prison Planet - 2010-02-08
Subversives who think government is corrupt and should be controlled by the people face 10 years in prison and a $25,000 dollar fine if they fail to register with authorities in South Carolina, in another chilling example of how free speech and dissent is being criminalized in America.
The state’s “Subversive Activities Registration Act” is now officially on the books and mandates that “Every member of a subversive organization, or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent and every person who advocates, teaches, advises or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States … shall register with the Secretary of State.”
Of course, the right to overthrow a government that has become corrupt, abusive and completely unrepresentative of its electorate is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence – that’s how America came to be a Republic in the first place – advocating or teaching that the people should “control” the government via their elected representatives is a basic function of a democratic society, but this law effectively makes it a terrorist offense.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness,” states the Declaration of Independence.
Under the sweeping terms of the law, members of tax protest organizations, the Tea Party movement and the States’ Rights movement based in South Carolina are all domestic terrorists if they fail to register their dissent with the authorities.
It is important to stress that the notion this law somehow only applies to “Islamic terrorists” is completely at odds with the fact that federal and state authorities now consider the main terror threat to be from informed American citizens exercising their constitutional rights in opposition to the big government agenda they are being subjected to.
As we saw with the MIAC report and a plethora of similar training manuals which were leaked over the last decade, police are being trained that libertarians, gun owners, Ron Paul supporters and anyone who is mildly political is a domestic extremist and a potential terrorist – these people are the real target of the subversives list in South Carolina. The infamous Phoenix Federal Bureau of Investigation manual (page one,page two) produced in association with the Joint Terrorism Task Force listed “defenders of the U.S. constitution” and “lone individuals” as terrorists. Will anyone in South Carolina who defends the Constitution, the very bedrock of what America stands for, have to register with the authorities unless they want to be locked up for a decade?
Of course, since nobody is going to register as a “subversive” with South Carolina authorities, their failure to “comply” with the regulation will later be used against them as a means of eliciting criminal charges, in what represents a clear end run around the First Amendment.
The government isn’t going to just come out all guns blazing and ban free speech, they are simply going to make anyone who refuses to register for permission a criminal for failing to adhere to a separate mandate.
Just like people in places such as New York and Chicago were told that they had to get a license to purchase a gun – at first the process was a mere inconvenience but now the licensing process means they have to jump through 200 flaming hoops and the second amendment has effectively been outlawed in these cities.
They won’t hesitate to pull the same tricks with the First Amendment, and it’s already happening with calls to license Internet users and force them to get government permission to run a website.
Paul Joseph Watson is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Global Research Articles by Paul Joseph Watson
Internet Censorship Alert!
Alex Jones exposes agenda to ‘blacklist’ dissenting sites and license users
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
South Carolina Code of Laws
Current through the end of the 2009 Session web page
The South Carolina Legislative Council is offering access to the unannotated South Carolina Code of Laws on the Internet as a service to the public. The unannotated South Carolina Code on the General Assembly's website is now current through the 2009 session. The unannotated South Carolina Code, consisting only of Code text and numbering, may be copied from this website at the reader's expense and effort without need for permission.
The Legislative Council is unable to assist users of this service with legal questions. Also, legislative staff cannot respond to requests for legal advice or the application of the law to specific facts. Therefore, to understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult your own private lawyer regarding all legal questions.
While every effort was made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the unannotated South Carolina Code available on the South
Carolina General Assembly's website, the unannotated South Carolina Code is not official, and the state agencies preparing this website and the General Assembly are not responsible for any errors or omissions which may occur in these files. Only the current published volumes of the South Carolina Code of Laws Annotated and any pertinent acts and joint resolutions contain the official version.
Please note that the Legislative Council is not able to respond to individual inquiries regarding research or the features, format, or use of this website. However, you may notify Legislative Printing, Information and Technology Systems at LPITS@scstatehouse.gov regarding any apparent errors or omissions in content of Code sections on this website, in which case LPITS will relay the information to appropriate staff members of the South Carolina Legislative Council for investigation.
Title 23 - Law Enforcement and Public Safety
SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES REGISTRATION ACT
SECTION 23-29-10. Short title.
This chapter may be cited as the "Subversive Activities Registration Act."
SECTION 23-29-20. Definitions.
For the purposes of this chapter the following words, phrases and terms are defined as follows:
(1) "Subversive organization" means every corporation, society, association, camp, group, bund, political party, assembly, body or organization, composed of two or more persons, which directly or indirectly advocates, advises, teaches or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States, of this State or of any political subdivision thereof by force or violence or other unlawful means;
(2) "Organization subject to foreign control" means every corporation, society, association, camp, group, bund, political party, assembly, body or other organization, composed of two or more persons, which comes within either of the following:
(a) it solicits or accepts financial contributions, loans or support of any kind directly or indirectly from, or is affiliated directly or indirectly with, a foreign government or a political subdivision thereof, an agent, agency or instrumentality of a foreign government or political subdivision thereof, a political party in a foreign country or an international political organization or
(b) its policies, or any of them, are determined by or at the suggestion of, or in collaboration with, a foreign government or political subdivision thereof, an agent, agency or instrumentality of a foreign government or a political subdivision thereof, a political party in a foreign country or an international political organization;
(3) "Foreign agent" means any person whose actions, or any of them, are determined by or at the suggestion of, or in collaboration with, a foreign government or political subdivision thereof, an instrumentality or agency of a foreign government or political subdivision thereof, a political party in a foreign country or an international political organization; and
(4) "Business" includes, but is not limited to, speaking engagements.
SECTION 23-29-30. Effect on freedom of press or speech.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize, require or establish censorship or to limit in any way or infringe upon freedom of the press or of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and no regulation shall be promulgated hereunder having that effect.
SECTION 23-29-40. Organizations exempt from application of chapter.
The terms of this chapter do not apply to any labor union or religious, fraternal or patriotic organization, society or association, or their members, whose objectives and aims do not contemplate the overthrow of the government of the United States, of this State or of any political subdivision thereof by force or violence or other unlawful means.
SECTION 23-29-50. Registration by subversive and foreign-controlled organizations.
Every subversive organization and organization subject to foreign control shall register with the Secretary of State on forms prescribed by him within thirty days after coming into existence in this State.
SECTION 23-29-60. Registration of members of subversive and foreign-controlled organizations.
Every member of a subversive organization, or an organization subject to foreign control, every foreign agent and every person who advocates, teaches, advises or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States, of this State or of any political subdivision thereof by force or violence or other unlawful means, who resides, transacts any business or attempts to influence political action in this State, shall register with the Secretary of State on the forms and at the times prescribed by him.
SECTION 23-29-70. Forms and schedule for filing information.
Every organization or person coming within the provisions of this chapter shall file with the Secretary of State all information which he may request, on the forms and at the times he may prescribe.
SECTION 23-29-80. Promulgation of rules and regulations.
The Secretary of State may adopt and promulgate any rules and regulations, not inconsistent with the terms of this chapter, which may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and may alter or repeal such rules and regulations.
SECTION 23-29-90. Penalties.
Any organization or person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five thousand dollars or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or by both fine and imprisonment.
No joke: South Carolina now requires ’subversives’ to register
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
SECRETARY OF STATE
SUBVERSIVE AGENT FORM
Name of Subversive Organization _____________________________________________
Name of Chief Agent of Organization _____________________________________________
Address of Chief Agent
Check the appropriate box.
Do you or your organization directly or indirectly advocate, advise, teach or practice the duty or necessity of controlling, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States, the state of South Carolina or any political division thereof? [ ] YES [ ] NO
If yes, please outline the fundamental beliefs. If applicable, attach a copy of the bylaws or minutes of meetings from the last year.
Please name all other members of the organization located in South Carolina. If the space on this form is not sufficient, please attach additional pages referring to this section.
Signature of Chief Agent Date
■ Subversive Agent Form (filed in duplicate)
■ $5.00 made payable to the South Carolina Secretary of State
■ Self-Addressed, Stamped Return Envelope
■ Return all documents to: South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office
Attn: Corporate Filings
P.O. Box 11350
Columbia, SC 29211
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2010
We are a "product" of the environment we surround ourselves with; corporate media environment = perception deception !! -- we are here to change the world, not to be changed *again* by it, or did we really attempt to change [conscientious objection; withdrawal] ?? -- Jesus the Christ is King, MAJESTIC in *all* things !! - most Christ-ians [those who hold, carry (take) Christ's Name, the Anointed] are tarnishing the Majesty of Christ; we are spotted, polluted by this world [we have taken God's name in vain; we are worshipping in vain]; we are grieving the Spirit of God, and weakening and destroying the spirit of nature [anima mundi; the planetary soul] - we must strive for, attain and maintain a ** GOD-LEVEL RELATIONSHIP ** [being and doing] in-and-with *all* things !! - we must reject "the claim" of-and-by ourselves and others !! - the "pomp" of society, the "private ownership of the means of production" must become "common-wealth" of the community(-ies) !! - a genuine, organic/natural existence [AT-ONE-MENT] vs. the artificially contrived, corporate existence; GOD IS LIFE !! -- our "denominated" selfishness [monetary and sect] must cease, or we will; OUR SYSTEMIC-MURDER WILL MURDER US [the wicked taken in their own evil; THOU SHALT NOT MURDER] !!
"Reason" has become repressive vs. Isa 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together, saith the LORD" ... domination and vested-interest induce error and sin [ignorance of God] -- vested value-judgements [philosophical system; value/ethic systemic; creed] or value-free(-dom); what is our definition of "value" ?? [WE LIVE OUR VALUES]; TRUE VALUE IS OF GOD, pure "agape" value: selfless activity, experience, knowing and sharing [our God-ing]: ** REACHING BEYOND SELF-VALUE ** - the Arm of God, applying God, His presence !! - the Mind of God enables us to see through and beyond the [SAGE] systemic !! - systemic security is dependent on belief, trust, dependence and/or threat; remove these and undermine/collapse the systemic; the firewall of selfishness, the imposed identity, must be breached - information-war, knowledge conflict: multiple launch points vs. God's Word; corporate media, the template of consciousness; security control: selfishness as right, reward ["to cash in"].
Fundamentalism is God "politicized" - the path is not prepared for the traveller, the traveller is prepared for the path ... - self-satisfaction, casual brutality, senseless violence: our systemic is self-defining -- a Christ "philosophy" [the love of wisdom] of life vs. a business dogma [to think; settled opinion]/creed [systemic belief], advocating the unholy trinity of "me, myself and I", taking for yourself first -- systemic ordination is NOT the ordination of God; God is NOT dogma and/or creed; the Body of Christ is living and fluid: ECCLESIAN LIVING WATERS in the service of God vs. interpretations in service of the systemic -- all men and women represent God, whether they know it or not [made in the image and likeness "of" God]; WE MUST COME TO *KNOW* WHOM WE REPRESENT !! - when we represent ourself(-selves) we sin, we take; representing God is our gifting of agape love !! - sin is a lack of knowledge, an ignorance of God !! - REPRESENTATION OF GOD, no other corporate agency or person.
The Daily Bell
Terror for Domestic Repression
Friday, February 05, 2010
... Republicans and Democrats are basically equal opportunity offenders when it comes to the alarming erosion of civil rights and privacy in the United States. While damage to the protections provided by the Constitution to US citizens accelerated dramatically under the Bush administration, the Obama administration has acceded to the trend (which continues unabated) - not surprisingly given that there is little difference between the two parties at this point.
The establishment of Homeland Security, the endless false terror alarms and the constant pressure for more and quicker spying on criminals and terrorists is turning the US into a kind of quasi-police state. The FBI's warrantless wiretapping, where large swathes of the public may be serially wiretapped and not know it, could well destroy what is left of the market-based entrepreneurial spirit of that country. In the past it was said of even the least regulated Western countries that "anyone could be arrested for anything." But these days the authorities in America have the means as well as the law to destroy almost anyone they wish. It is never enough, however. ...
The convergence of public policing and corporate resources is an inevitable sign of civic degradation. It means that all levels of society have been turned inward - on themselves - to facilitate the deterrence of criminal malfeasance. The result, unfortunately, is that the state can criminalize almost any activity and now has the wherewithal, increasingly, to enforce even the maddest conceits. Whether it is white-collar crime, the war on drugs or terrorism itself, the ability to gather endless amounts of evidence in order to find something - anything - that is provable in court is facilitated by this dismaying trend.
There is more of course. The recent insistence of American government intel spokesmen that Americans abroad can be targeted for assassination if they are deemed supportive of terrorism (and thus migrate to the status of "enemy") can be seen as part of a larger strategy aimed at suppressing DOMESTIC dissent. Those who are anti-war, or even against the current economic reign, may eventually find it prudent to move abroad given the wiretapping and other intrusive security arrangements increasingly being pursued domestically. But in such situations, US citizens (and eventually those from other countries) will face the uncertainties that stem from the US government's continued use of rendition and no doubt even more harassing activities. Again, it would seem, the mechanisms (illegal or not) purportedly developed to fight the war on terror inevitably are turned against those who would voice disapproval within the ambit of their own societies.
Conclusion: Yet, having written all this, it remains our humble estimation that the rapid degradation of civil liberties in America and in the West will eventually be counteracted. Unlike past episodes of repression, the current environment must contend with the liberating effects of the Internet, which is constantly and inevitably exposing the justifications that are being used to install the foundations of a surveillance society. Of course many still do not believe that the Internet will truly have an impact on what's occurring, especially when it comes to the erosion of civil liberties. We think it will.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2010
America and the United States Are Two Very Different Entities/Realities - They Are Not One-And-The-Same
MM Book 1 Chapter 5-6
The State is enshrined over, upon, and within the Nation(s) by their various "Constitutions", the very privileged and prejudiced rights of the Nation guaranteed by the State; these "Constitutions" are in direct "violation of God" who has given "Divine-Rights" to each and every Human Being; these Nation-State Constitutions are the very usurpation of God's Rights given to all, they are in "mimicry" of God; they represent the evil-prejudice so necessary to the Adversarial Systemic -- the people comprise the Nation, they are the Nation, but they do not comprise the Nation-State, nor do they control it, they are controlled by it; the Nation-State is comprised of, and owned by, the SAGE-Corporate; the State binds by "ropes" (of debt) and restrains by "chains" (of wealth), the Nation becoming thus the "Nation-State" (the State supported and underpinned by the Nation; the State (the "private") cannot exist without the Nation (the "public")) - our "elected" governments are the selected interface between Nation and State (selected to be elected; SAGE authorized and sanctioned; private interest in public office); State "socialization" of costs onto the Nation imperative (private profits, public debt; the privatization of profits, the socialization of costs; WEALTH CREATES POVERTY) - the western-world Nation-State "interface" is "Democratic-Fascism" - as long as the "public" Nations utilize "State debt-based Monies" based upon "private" Corporate "business", they will be owned and controlled by the State (enslaved by debt-instruments) - MESSIAH (anarcho-communitarian non-profit cooperative society) or MAMMON (the Fascist Corporate-State).
MM Book 1 Chapter 5-15
The “Nation” is considered by most as an “open hand of welcome” – but the “(Nation-)State” is actually a “closed fist” (ie., “America” and the “United States” are in reality two very different perceptions/actualities /entities, though the religion of “America, the Chosen” is utilized to give/take divine sanction to/by the US); the “divinization” of the National Epic/Narrative, the “divine sanction” — War is being redefined in the public mind by “shallow” use (self-serving overt aggression) by “shallow” politicians, ie., the Iraq-Afghanistan War – evil begets evil; all sides fighting for their “God given rights” – the only innocents here are the non-combatants on both sides who are in-the-main the ones being killed; the SAGE seek conflict and unrest as a means of controlled exploitation; take a look around, their Agenda is everywhere — War is Mammon’s “consolidation mechanism”; naked overt aggression, not clothed in any accepted reason; non-justified (complicit) – WAR TO CREATE WAR !! — the progression of war, engendered conflicts as means (the interrelated events, etc.) – the Grimm (the “forces of wealth” need to extricate for their own systemic maintenance/survival (predicated upon debt/profit; exploitation is essential)); wealth protection vs. the vulgaris (the common people) !!
The Nations are in effect a “business environment” conditioned by the “social temperament” — the “elect” corporations are “economic entities” in-and-of themselves with the prerogatives once considered sanctioned by “States” only, ie., private armies and influence — corporate interest is now national interest; the SAGE are the corporate “controlling interest(s)”, the “progenitor wealth” — war is a weapon of weakness and deep spiritual illness — business as “mechanism of/for life”, its “growth and profit” dynamic is a cancer on the social body — the “secular church” is married to the State, the “Bride of Christ” has married the Devil instead; the concept of the separation of “Church and State” is for common consumption to ensure the State “as religion”, the false, selfish and prejudiced idol-god of nationalism and patriotism — “profit” based on “debt-instruments” is systemic bondage to Mammon; business “growth” demanded to ensure “profit” of investment; Mammon’s growth is a cancer on Humanity and will consume us !!
Markets Fail When Humans Are Unregulated
February 06, 2010 "Information Clearing House"
Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan answered that he had placed his trust in a flawed theory when he was called before Congress to explain why he, Goldman Sachs Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, prevented Brooksley Born, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation, a government regulatory agency, from doing her job of regulating over-the-counter derivatives.
The efficient markets theory is that unregulated markets are efficient and rational. According to this theory in which Greenspan placed his trust, unregulated markets produce the best possible result. Any regulatory interference worsens the outcome.
Greenspan blamed his own bad judgment on a theory. The theory, or Greenspan's understanding of it, nevertheless still holds sway as Congress has proved impotent to re-regulate the gambling casino that is Wall Street. Clearly, the theory serves powerful interests.
But what is the truth?
The truth is that markets are a social institution. Their efficiency depends on the rules that govern the behavior of people in markets. When free market economists talk about markets deciding this or that, they are reifying a social institution and ascribing to it decision-making power. Socialists make the same mistake when they blame markets for the results of human action. But, of course, markets do not act or make decisions. People act and make decisions, and markets reflect the decisions and actions of people.
The entire debate over regulation is misconstrued. It is not the market, an efficient social institution, that is regulated. What is regulated is the behavior of people in markets. If you want good results from markets, good regulation of human behavior is a requirement.
The market is like a computer. Garbage in, garbage out.
If people who use markets are not regulated, they issue fraudulent financial instruments. They leverage assets with absurd amounts of debt. They market their instruments with fraudulent investment grade ratings. They deal themselves aces.
Did Greenspan not know this? Was he a victim of a theory or an enabler of greed unleashed by the absence of regulation?
The way to bring socialists and capitalists together is to recognize that markets are efficient and that self-interested human behavior requires social regulation.
The failure to regulate financial markets has produced enormous losses to all Americans except the super-rich. But the U.S. government is guilty of an even greater failure. Washington has not only permitted but also encouraged the unemployment of its citizens by enabling greed-driven corporations to send American jobs abroad in order to maximize profits for CEOs' bonuses, shareholders, and Wall Street.
As Ralph Gomory has made clear, economic theory has been shattered, because there is no longer any connection between the profits of American companies and the welfare of Americans. The profits of American companies are derived from the cheap labor in offshored locations and are at the expense of the American work force.
This dispossession of American labor has been heralded by offshoring's pimps in the major universities as "the New Economy."
The "New Economy" is a hoax like most everything else the bought-and-paid-for-media feeds to Americans. There is no new economy.
There is an unemployed economy. The headlined unemployment rate is just over 10 percent. The real unemployment rate, as measured by the current methodology is 17 percent. The unemployment rate as measured by the methodology of 1980 is 22 percent.
If jobs offshoring is a benefit to America, as the hired pimps of the transnational corporations claim, why is more than one-fifth of the U.S. work force unemployed? Why does the U.S. have the largest trade deficits in world history? Why is the U.S. dollar losing value over time to other tradable currencies?
Greed and elected representatives, who are toadies to special interests, are decimating the American economy.
Consider President Obama's budgets for 2010 and 2011. The combined red ink is $2.9 trillion. No one anywhere in the world has this kind of money to lend to Washington. How will these massive deficits, never before experienced on earth, be financed? They can only be financed by the Federal Reserve destroying its own balance sheet by its purchase of toxic financial instruments from the banks thereby providing the banks with cash with which to buy the Treasury's bonds, or by the Federal Reserve itself purchasing the Treasury's bonds by creating new money, or by another collapse in equity values that sends investors fleeing into "safe" Treasury bonds.
American power is on the precipice, about to fall. Perhaps it is a good thing. The world will be rid of bullying, of invasions of innocent countries based on blatant lies, of torture and murder of woman and children, of redistribution of income from the poor to the rich.
The criminal record accumulated by the United States makes it the least indispensable country on earth.
© Copyright Paul Craig Roberts, 2010
Wars Sending US into Ruin
Published on Sunday, February 7, 2010
by Toronto Sun/Canada
... More empires have fallen because of reckless finances than invasion. The latest example was the Soviet Union, which spent itself into ruin by buying tanks.
Washington's deficit (the difference between spending and income from taxes) will reach a vertiginous $1.6 trillion US this year. The huge sum will be borrowed, mostly from China and Japan, to which the U.S. already owes $1.5 trillion. Debt service will cost $250 billion.
To spend $1 trillion, one would have had to start spending $1 million daily soon after Rome was founded and continue for 2,738 years until today.
Obama's total military budget is nearly $1 trillion. This includes Pentagon spending of $880 billion. Add secret black programs (about $70 billion); military aid to foreign nations like Egypt, Israel and Pakistan; 225,000 military "contractors" (mercenaries and workers); and veterans' costs. Add $75 billion (nearly four times Canada's total defence budget) for 16 intelligence agencies with 200,000 employees.
The Afghanistan and Iraq wars ($1 trillion so far), will cost $200-250 billion more this year, including hidden and indirect expenses. Obama's Afghan "surge" of 30,000 new troops will cost an additional $33 billion - more than Germany's total defence budget.
No wonder U.S. defence stocks rose after Peace Laureate Obama's "austerity" budget.
Military and intelligence spending relentlessly increase as unemployment heads over 10% and the economy bleeds red ink. America has become the Sick Man of the Western Hemisphere, an economic cripple like the defunct Ottoman Empire.
The Pentagon now accounts for half of total world military spending. Add America's rich NATO allies and Japan, and the figure reaches 75%.
China and Russia combined spend only a paltry 10% of what the U.S. spends on defence.
There are 750 U.S. military bases in 50 nations and 255,000 service members stationed abroad, 116,000 in Europe, nearly 100,000 in Japan and South Korea.
Military spending gobbles up 19% of federal spending and at least 44% of tax revenues. During the Bush administration, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars - funded by borrowing - cost each American family more than $25,000.
Like Bush, Obama is paying for America's wars through supplemental authorizations - putting them on the nation's already maxed-out credit card. Future generations will be stuck with the bill. ...
The U.S. clearly has reached the point of imperial overreach. Military spending and debt-servicing are cannibalizing the U.S. economy, the real basis of its world power. Besides the late U.S.S.R., the U.S. also increasingly resembles the dying British Empire in 1945, crushed by immense debts incurred to wage the Second World War, unable to continue financing or defending the imperium, yet still imbued with imperial pretensions. ...
Increasing numbers of Americans are rightly outraged and fearful of runaway deficits. Most do not understand their political leaders are also spending their nation into ruin through unnecessary foreign wars and a vainglorious attempt to control much of the globe - what neocons call "full spectrum dominance."
Copyright © 2010 Toronto Sun
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010
China or the U.S.: Which Will Be the Last Nation Standing?
Posted Feb 3, 2010
Silly me. Here I had thought that world leaders would want to keep their nations from collapsing. They must be working hard to prevent currency collapse, financial system collapse, food system collapse, social collapse, environmental collapse, and the onset of general, overwhelming misery—right? But no, that's not what the evidence suggests. Increasingly I am forced to conclude that the object of the game that world leaders are actually playing is not to avoid collapse; it's simply to postpone it a while so as to be the last nation to go down, so yours can have the chance to pick the others' carcasses before it meets the same fate.
I know, that sounds unbearably cynical. And in fact it may not accurately describe the conscious attitudes of leaders of some smaller nations. But for the U.S. and China, arguably the countries most likely to lead the way for the rest of the world, actions speak louder than words. ...
For these two nations, avoiding collapse would require solving a range of enormous problems, of which at least four are non-negotiable: climate change; peak fossil fuels (in effect, stagnating and, soon, declining energy supplies); the inherent instability of growth-based financial systems; and the vulnerability of food systems to factors like fresh water scarcity and soil erosion (in addition to global warming and fuel scarcity). If they fail to address any one of these, societal collapse is inevitable—in a few decades certainly, but perhaps in just the next few years.
So how are our contestants doing? There's not much to report on the climate score—just vague promises for future action. So their apparent strategy in this case is to delay (not to delay the impacts, mind you, but to delay efforts to address the problem).
Likewise, there is little positive action occurring regarding food systems: the assumption appears to be that conventional industrial agriculture—which is responsible for most of the global food system's enormous and growing vulnerabilities—will somehow shoulder the task of feeding seven to nine billion humans. We just need to continue with what we are already doing, but on a larger scale and using more gene-engineered crop varieties.
Officially, peak energy is not even a concern, so evidently the strategy being adopted here is denial. We'll see how that works out.
How about the financial mess? Here the U.S. and China are in situations so different that a more extended discussion seems justified.
China Surges to the Lead!
The U.S. is in debt up to its eyeballs and has mortgaged the paychecks of every generation approximately until hell freezes over in order to bail out its "too-big-to-fail" banks. In contrast, China has piles of cash (resulting from its enormous trade surpluses) and has bought a mountain of U.S. debt in order to keep its main customer's currency from losing value. It would seem that, in this department, one nation is set to flag while the other is poised to leap into first place as world economic superpower. ...
And that happens to be the conventional wisdom on the subject. It's not hard to find commentators who say the United States is a has-been for a variety of reasons. In addition to its huge debt burden, the U.S. also suffers from a shrinking manufacturing base, a big trade deficit, eroding quality of education, and a foreign policy that serves the interests of arms manufacturers while undermining the long-term interests of the nation. Regarding the last of these items, a 2006 World Public Opinion poll showed large majorities in four leading ally nations (Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, and Indonesia), together accounting for a third of the Muslim world's population, believe the U.S. is determined to destroy or undermine Islam. Within those countries, most people surveyed support attacks on American targets. And it just so happens that most of the world's future oil supplies will be coming from Muslim nations. Brilliant.
By contrast, China is enjoying springtime on amphetamines. It now has the biggest car market in the world. And, according to Stuart Staniford in a recent fact-filled article, "if present trends continue, the Chinese expressway system will likely grow larger than the U.S. interstate highway system within the next couple of years, and Chinese car ownership will exceed U.S. car ownership by somewhere in the neighborhood of 2017." As of 2010 China is the leading producer of hydroelectric and solar power and by 2011 will be the top producer of wind power. China's smart grid investments dwarf those of the U.S. by 200 to one. The Chinese are also investing heavily in nuclear energy. Staniford goes on: "Oversimplifying greatly, it's as though the U.S. borrowed a pile of money from China in order to fight a war to free up oil supply in Iraq in order that China could become the greatest industrial power the world has ever seen."
China's foreign policy consists largely of buying friends by purchasing rights to oil, gas, coal, and other resources (in Canada, Australia, Venezuela, Iraq, Kazakhstan, and throughout Africa), while the U.S. spends money it doesn't have rooting out bad guys and making more enemies in the process. ...
... China has been the primary beneficiary of globalization, and it has been largely insulated from the financial crisis. For the West, and the U.S. in particular, the crisis was an internally-generated event [that] led to the collapse of the financial system.
For China, it was an external shock [that] has hurt exports, but left the financial, political, and economic system unscathed. ...
... there is a school of thought that says China's apparently unstoppable economic miracle is a bubble waiting to burst. Beijing's housing market is overheated, like that of Las Vegas circa 2006. Last year, the Chinese economy enjoyed 9 percent GDP growth—on paper. But in order to achieve that goal, the government and banks had to loan out 30 percent of China's GDP (the rate of growth in loans accelerated during the latter part of the year; at year-end rates, banks were on track to loan out an amount equal to the nation's entire GDP in 2010). In any case, much of that growth probably occurred through speculation on real estate and questionable stocks.
Generally, China is at a Wild West stage of economic development: it is a collection of powerful local capitalist power bases unaccountable to anyone, all jockeying to create and inflate assets and credit. While the central government has recently exerted control over the banks, its ability to halt regional Ponzi schemes is still limited. ...
What Does It Mean to "Win"?
... So: How is the U.S. doing today in terms of collapse preparedness as compared to China?
After six decades of nearly uninterrupted economic growth, Americans have developed unrealistic expectations about the future. They are urbanized consumers whose manufacturing capability has shriveled and whose practical survival skills are in most cases vestigial. The Chinese, in contrast, have less of a steep fall ahead of them. Most still dwell in the countryside, and many who live in the cities are only one generation removed from subsistence agriculture and can still draw on their own, or their parents', practical skills learned during decades of poverty and immersion in a traditional farming culture.
Both nations face fierce political challenges. In the U.S., the central government has reached nearly complete paralysis: it is evidently incapable of solving even relatively minor problems, and confidence in it among the citizenry has largely evaporated. Political leaders have succeeded in polarizing the people geographically with "hot-button" issues, few of which have anything to do with the factors currently undermining the nation's ability to survive. The Chinese central government appears far more capable of acting decisively and strategically, but it is confronted with nasty facts of geography and history: there is an extreme and growing economic and social division between the wealthy coastal cities and the poor, rural interior; and a demographic schism between those 40 years old or younger who have high economic expectations, and the older generation who grew up under Mao, with an ethic of collectivism and self-sacrifice. The young, especially, have accepted a trade-off between civil freedoms and economic prosperity. If the latter is not delivered, there will be shrill demands for the former. These divisions are so deep and profound that they could tear society apart if expectations are dashed—and the leaders know this.
Thus, in the event of collapse, both nations face the possibility of a breakdown in their political systems, entailing widespread violence (uprisings and crackdowns).
The Geopolitics of Collapse
It's easy to see the advantage of collapse preparedness for the citizenry—with better preparation, more will survive. But does a higher survival rate during and after collapse translate to some sort of geopolitical advantage?
The process of collapse will be determined by many factors, some hard to predict, and so it is difficult to know the size or scope of the political power structure that might re-emerge in either country. It's possible that one nation, or both, could devolve into smaller political units squabbling among themselves and unable to engage much in global jockeying for resources. All new political units emerging within the present territories of China or the U.S. would be immediately beset with enormous practical problems, including poverty, hunger, environmental disasters, and mass migrations.
Presumably some potent weaponry from the age of global warfare would remain intact and usable, so it is possible in principle that one or another of these smaller political entities could assert itself on the world stage as a short-lived, bargain-basement empire of limited geographic scope. But even in that case "winning" the collapse race would be small comfort.
The possibility of armed conflict between the two powers prior to mutual collapse is not to be entirely excluded if, for example, U.S. efforts to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions were to set off a deadly chain reaction of attacks and counter-attacks possibly involving Israel, with world powers being forced to choose sides; or if the U.S. were to persist in arming Taiwan. But neither the U.S. nor China wants a direct mutual military confrontation, and both nations are highly motivated to avoid one. Thus all-out nuclear war—still the worst-case imaginable scenario for homo sapiens and planet Earth—seems thankfully unlikely, though in the few decades ahead the use of some of these weapons, on some occasions, by one nation or another, is probable. ...
How likely is the prospect for the last nation standing to be able to, as I put it in the first paragraph above, "pick the carcasses" of its competitors? Such a scenario presupposes that one nation will be able to stay on its feet for at least a few years after others fall. But this may not be possible. Recall the prophetic words of Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988):
"A nation today can no longer unilaterally collapse, for if any national government disintegrates, its population and territory will be absorbed by some other [or bailed out by international agencies]. ... Collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse."
When the U.S.S.R. crashed, the U.S. and various multinational corporations were able to sweep in and gobble up some of the treasure left lying around. One example: U.S. nuclear power plants have for many years been using uranium fuel cannibalized from old Soviet missile warheads. Soon, international institutions such as the World Bank and IMF helped organize new financial structures for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, and the other nations born from Soviet political and economic disintegration, so as to limit and reverse the process of social disintegration that had already passed beyond its early stages.
But now the game has changed. A collapse of the U.S. would leave China devastated. Not only would Beijing lose its main customer, but the hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of treasury notes it has accumulated would be rendered worthless. If China were internally stable, such impacts could be absorbed with difficulty. But in light of China's own simmering social and financial predicaments, a U.S. collapse would almost certainly be enough to tip Beijing's economy into a tailspin, resulting in both social and political crises.
A collapse of China would similarly devastate the U.S. Obviously, the loss of a source of cheap consumer products would discomfit WalMart shoppers, but the shock soon would go much deeper. The Treasury would lose its main foreign buyer of government debt, which means that the Fed would be forced to step in and monetize that debt (in common parlance, "turn on the printing presses"), undermining the dollar's value. The result: a hyperinflationary economic crash. Such a crash is probably inevitable at some point anyway, but a collapse of the Chinese system would hasten and worsen it.
In neither instance would international institutions be capable of preventing substantial social and political fall-out. The last nation standing would not stand for long. We have reached the stage where, as Tainter says, "World civilization will disintegrate as a whole."
The Transition Marathon
Okay, so there is no serious effort on the part of U.S. or Chinese leaders to avoid collapse in the long run (say, over the next 10 to 20 years). Perhaps this is because they have concluded that it is impossible to do so—there are just too many trends leading in the same direction, and actually dealing with any of those trends head-on would entail huge, immediate political risks. In reality, however, it is much more likely that they simply refuse seriously to think about these trends and their implications, because they do have another option—to postpone collapse through deficit spending, bailouts, and more financial bubbles, while enacting their parts in a climate-policy kabuki play and engaging in resource geopolitics. This way blame will at least fall on the next set of leaders. Postponing collapse is itself a big job, enough so as to take all of one's attention away from having to contemplate the awfulness and inevitability of what is being postponed.
Do these short-term efforts in any way reduce the risk of dissolution? Hardly. In fact, the longer the reckoning is delayed, the worse it will be.
What would make more sense than just trying to put off the inevitable is quite simply to build resilience throughout society, re-localizing basic social systems involving food, manufacture, and finance. There is no need to rehearse the existing discourse about this strategy: readers who are not familiar with it can find plenty of useful pointers at transitiontowns.org, or in the books and articles of authors such as Rob Hopkins, Albert Bates, David Holmgren, Pat Murphy, and Sharon Astyk (and in some of my own writings, including Museletter #192).
It is understandably hard for national politicians to think along those lines. Building societal resilience means disregarding the dictates of economic efficiency; it means systematically reducing the power of the central government and national/global commercial institutions (banks and corporations). It also means questioning the central dogma of our modern world: the efficacy and possibility of unending economic growth.
So if the best outcome lies in a strategy of resilience and re-localization, and our national leaders can't even contemplate such a strategy, that means those leaders are, in one sense at least, irrelevant to our future.
Some blog readers are so in tune with this line of thinking that they no longer see any point in paying attention to the global scene. They may even think this article is a waste of time (and I expect to get an email or two to that effect). But following world events is more than a matter of infotainment: when and how China and the U.S. come apart at the seams is a question of far greater consequence than that of whether the New Orleans Saints or the Indianapolis Colts will win the Superbowl. The reality is that no nation, and no community will be able to completely protect itself from the sudden, harsh winds that will rush to fill the vacuum left by an implosion of either superpower.
By the way, my apologies to the other 190 or so nations of the world, large and small: my singling out of the U.S. and China for discussion does not signify that other countries are unimportant, or that their destinies will not be as unique as their cultures and geographies; merely that those destinies will probably unfold in the context of a global collapse spreading from the two nations we have been discussing. For any nation—India, Bolivia, Russia, Brazil, South Africa—and for any community or family, survival will require some comprehension of the direction of large events, so as to get out of the way when debris is flying and to anticipate opportunities to regroup. ...
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2010
God is an influence in the world and is influenced *by* the world ... the God "agency"; how we construct our identity(-ies) [I approve of myself ??] - *prosecution* by war is an illegal act !! - a "War On Terror" by use of a War *of* Terror is criminal; this is not disarmament of Iraq/Afghanistan, this is the dismemberment by the corporate; one tyrant replaced by another: former "benefactors" claiming the OIL PRIZE and geo-political position !! -- WAR INDUCED HUMAN COSTS HAVE TO BE BORNE BY ALL, INCLUDING THE *GUILT* !! -- the "corporate war" has continued long after the initial military fighting ended: MONEY LOVES WAR !! - engendering continued conflict, the taking from the "peace" to pay/reward those who made/make war possible is INSANITY: "WEAPONIZING BRUTALITY" IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY, NOT SOMETHING TO PROFIT FROM !! - many victimized people have-and-will-be abandoned to ensure corporate success, maintenance, and reconstruction - THE RECONSTRUCTION OF HUMANITY MUST BE OUR PRIORITY, *OUR* HUMANITY !! -- WE MUST GRIEVE OUR RESORTING TO VIOLENCE !!
God's SWORD [SacredWORD] is NOT the "knife-edge of extinction" !! - mankind's thin veneer of humanity is easily cut/ripped, and many enter and/or are pushed through !! - appreciation/gratitude is necessary for, and an aspect of, a deeper level of awareness, but requires a form of faith in the giver, and identification with the gift: WAR IS NOT THE GIFT OF PEACE [a "peace" to conduct business is NOT the Peace of God] !! - PEACE IS NOT A BUSINESS TERM; PEACE IS A GOD TERM [can only be defined in terms of God (Agape Love)] !! - a peace imposed and then enforced is NOT "peace" !! - the introduction of war [by those complicit] under the guise [pretext] of humanitarian intervention vs. brutality, in support of benefactor claim, is of itself the "same" brutality [as previously supported] -- Business is sedation of God-consciousness [we are asleep to LIFE, to a "true" Life (God *is* Truth)]; MAMMON CONSIDERED AS SAVIOR !! -- WAR IS A TESTAMENT TO OUR *FAILURE* AS HUMAN-"BEINGS", OF OUR HUMANITY !!