The Butcher’s Apron

Every four years the country is swept up in the pomp and pageantry of presidential elections. And every four years loyal Americans flock to the voting booths to select the candidate of their choice. Elections, we are told, are the true expression of democratic government. But they aren’t. They’re a sham and most people know it. The balloting creates the illusion of choice where there is none. It’s a meaningless ritual that has nothing to do with representative government.

The 2008 elections have already been marred by a number of controversies, the worst of which is the report that was published last Friday by Ohio’s top election official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. The report proves that the voting systems that decided the 2004 election in Ohio were rife with “critical security failures”. The election was rigged, pure and simple; stolen by the Bush clan and their friends in the establishment media who refuse to report the news. It’s actually funny, in a cynical kind of way. The perpetrators were so cocksure they could pull it off that, according to Democracy Now, “the servers for the computation of the Ohio vote count were in the same basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee that houses servers for the Republican National Committee. The programmers who (worked) for Ken Blackwell, the Republican Secretary of State, were Republicans who did websites for the Bush administration.”

What gall. Blackwell’s thugs didn’t even try to hide what they were up to. Why should they? It’s not like there’s an independent media that’s going to report a stolen election. No way. Blackwell ripped off the election and then thumbed his nose at the public. No investigation. No accountability. No nothing. Just like a banana republic only bigger.

So why do we keep throwing billions of dollars down a black hole just to maintain a charade that fools no one? Why not just load up the boxcars with pallets of crisp-new hundred dollar bills and ship them off to Crawford where they’ll end up anyway. Let Bush worry about how to dole out the loot. Besides, with Congress’ public approval dithering at 11%, we’d be better off paying them to stay at home and turning the House of Representatives into condos.

This year every one of the leading candidates is a member of the openly globalist Council on Foreign Relations. Every one is a “dual loyalist” that accepts the new regime of curtailed civil liberties, endless war, and free trade. There’s not a nationalist or a patriot among them. None. They’re all part of the same corporate effluent that washed into Washington on a wave of special interest payola drowning all visible symbols of a once-vibrant democracy. Romney pontificates about expanding Guantanamo while Clinton boasts about an attack on Iran. Blah, blah, blah. How can anyone listen to this gibberish? There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between any of them. They’re all lacquer-hair phonies who’ve never had an original thought in their lives. Everything they think or say comes off a teleprompter that flashes poll-tested, focus-group mumbo-jumbo which they reiterate roboticly. It’s all rubbish.

If a prospective candidate hasn’t sworn his undying allegiance to the cabal of transnational corporations, or taken a blood-oath to defend the doctrine of unfettered self-aggrandizement, or pledged to carry out a bloodthirsty “economy-busting” global crusade; he is quickly banished to the wilderness.

Just look at Ron Paul, who collected $6 million in donations in a matter of hours but still can’t even get his picture in the papers. Why is that?

It’s because he hasn’t sold his soul to the carpetbagging freebooters who run the system. Apart from Kucinich, he’s the only red-blooded, Constitution- toting American in the race. The rest are just bunko-artists and Pharisees.

Everyone knows what’s going on. The whole campaign extravaganza is a pointless farce. Why continue the deception?

We all watched in 2000 while the five loonies on the Supreme Court suspended the hand counting of ballots, overturned the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court, and awarded the election to their own Party’s candidate. How is that any different than Blackwell’s manipulations in Ohio? It’s all the same. In fact, the 5 justices had so little respect for the intelligence of the American people they invoked the 14th amendment, which had never been used except in cases of racial discrimination. They didn’t care. Who was going to stop them?

Can you imagine, dear reader, the peals of laughter that must have rung-out at the right-wing think tanks after that ruling? Hooray for the oligarchy of racketeers! Pass the brandy.

That was a turning point in American history. It showed that the ruling class really doesn’t care what the people think anymore. This is THEIR country and they’ll run it whatever way they want. To hell with democracy.

The reason there’s more coverage of the campaigns this year is because the Two-Party Mandarins want to restore the illusion that we actually have a choice. We don’t. They pick the candidates and we pull the lever and go home. End of story. The debates are nothing more than a public relations smokescreen designed to lend a bit of credibility to a system that is rotten to the core. What part of the body-politic has been spared the ravages of corporate corruption. The Congress? The Executive? The High Court? The media?

Don’t make me laugh. The entire system is marinated in a culture of violence and dishonesty. Nothing is salvageable. It all stinks.

The real difference between the parties is minuscule but significant. The Democrats have become the party of traditional imperialism spearheaded by Brzezinski, Holbrooke, Albright and the other guardians of Empire. These are the master-puppeteers who operate behind the scenes for the real powerbrokers. Their focus is mainly on Central Asia; controlling resources from the Caspian Basin, “pacifying” Afghanistan, rallying the EU to a greater role in NATO, and continuing the apocryphal “war on terror” into infinity. It’s the Great Game redux.

The Republican Party has become the party of neoconservatives. Their operational plan is “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. It aligns the US with the foreign policy objectives of Israel’s Likud Party. The focus is balkanizing the Middle East, undermining Arab nationalism, installing US-Israeli client regimes, and controlling the regions prodigious natural resources. It is a straightforward strategy for regional hegemony.

This is the REAL split between the parties, not the comical Democrat-Republican labels. Presently, the traditional imperialists have taken the upper-hand since the Bush bandwagon has swerved into the ditch. But that could change in the future. And, yes, there is some cross-pollinating between the two parties; the differences are not absolute. But this is a pretty accurate overview. What’s important is that neither party has any intention of restoring the Bill of Rights, slowing the outsourcing of jobs, or abandoning the war on terror. No way. That is not in their collective interests at all.

When civil liberties are stripped away; elections become pointless. Freedom has nothing to do with pushing a colored-nob on a touch-screen computer every 4 years. Its about containing the power of the state. Doesn’t anyone grasp that? Freedom has become an empty sound-byte that’s sprinkled through presidential speeches or used to defend the latest bloody intervention in some foreign country. It’s lost whatever meaning it had. We’ve forgotten that the Bill of Rights doesn’t give us special, superhuman powers. It’s merely a straitjacket for power-hungry politicians to ensure they comply with the law. That’s all it is, a shackle on government. Now, all that’s been lost. The basic rules of the game have changed. The social contract has been repealed. Even the flag, which once embodied the hopes and aspirations of the nation; has been raised over Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and countless other black sites spread across the planet. What does the world see when they look at that flag now? Do they see a symbol of liberty and justice or the butcher’s apron flapping lazily above some far-flung torture chamber.

Everything has changed. America has lost its way. Casting a ballot for one silver-spoon CFR plutocrat over another is utterly meaningless. That’s not democracy. It’s a fraud.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Mike.

32 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Hureaux said on December 24th, 2007 at 5:33am #

    I guess you know this is old news, Mike. The cosmic joke even in the case of the two candidates you mentioned as possible “opposition” candidates within the mainstream parties is that one is a closet racist who continues to spew right wing crap about the immigration issue (Paul) and the other (Kucinich) has said upon more than one occasion that one of his main reasons for running was to draw potential third party voters back into the “democratic” party. There is no genuine opposition faction within either party, that is to say, no one who is willing to lead the neccessary split and help create the faction that will pile those who have become disaffected politically, and create in our generation the kind of organization the Republican party was in its early days when the Whigs were the kind of organization the “democrats” have become in our day, that is to say, shamelessly amoral both domestically and internationally. Such a split is the neccessary next step, and no one on the “progressive” front is willing to lead. And down here where you and I work, we are constantly confronted by people who are frightened to death of what will happen if the “democrats’ aren’t allowed to continue to lead and misappropriate the energies of many who would be in active opposition if they could just wake up and smell reality.

    We are indeed in a lot of trouble. My wife and I talk frequently about where there will be to go to get out from under the nightmare of gated communities, high tech groupies and semi-feudal relationships the worlds of everyday life and work are rapidly becoming in the United States. As the Rastas used to say, it look grim, mon. People can carry on about fascism all they want. The fact of the matter is that the ruling class won’t need fascism in a country where people have been persuaded to purge themselves- and that certainly seems to be what we are bent on becoming.

  2. Michael Kenny said on December 24th, 2007 at 6:10am #

    The US political system suffers from having been first in the field. It is the first modern democracy but its constitutional system is now more than 200 years old and the world has changed a lot since then. Why does nobody argue for proportional representation over there? That would open up the field to small, ideology-based parties and force coalition deals which would keep the political process nearer to the popular consensus. Moreover, the very fact that smaller parties have a real influence on the political process encourages people to vote for them.

    To take just one example, think of what would happen if, without any other change in the political process, electoral votes were distributed in each state on the basis of PR. Nobody would have a majority and so deals would have to be done.

    Similarly, the House, still in single-seat districts, could be elected by simplified transferable vote PR. People vote not with “X” but with 1,2,3 etc. according to their preference. The first preferences are counted, no majority, the tail end guy is eliminated and his votes go to the no.2 preference and so on. Again, it lets small parties into the process and gives them influence because big party candidates have to “court” the later preferences of the small parties’ first preference voters.

  3. Donald Hawkins said on December 24th, 2007 at 9:02am #

    All true yes it is. Now how to go around this little problem stop buying stuff. Only buy want you need. Take mass transit if possible never buy from China if possible. Food just the basics. Clothes keep the ones you have. Sorry no flat screen TV’s. Mike knows better than most that the same thing could happen not because we need a change but because it looks like greed has got the better of the system and a lot of us may not have any choice in the matter. I still think it is a good idea.

  4. Donald Hawkins said on December 24th, 2007 at 10:14am #

    Let’s look at the facts. There is 7 to 10 years to stop putting CO 2 into the atmosphere to keep the levels below what will mean we can’t stop it. If that happens well in ten years maybe twenty it’s not what you want it’s what you need. Oh and there is that little problem of what happens to the way we all think once we know it is to late to stop. Then the reality of the problem droughts, flooding, heat and on and on. Right now Durham, NC has about 40 day’s of water 210,000 people. Atlanta 3 months 5 million. Austrian is already in big trouble drought. The India Ocean to there East a tad bit warm and how much more CO 2 can it take in not much. China I think most of you know the pollution in that country. In some areas the water is polluted down to 300 meters ground water bad sign. So stop buying stuff before it’s to late. As we can all see what needs to be done is not happening so we the people stop buying stuff. Yes some people will lose jobs that’s where the working together part comes in. It’s a tuff one but somehow I think we will all feel better if we could do this. Of course there will be people who still want to drive SUV’s and build those 90,000 Sq foot houses. Ok how about we give them the entire State of Colorado it’s all yours and the rest of us try and turn this thing around. I still think it’s a good idea.

  5. r gaylor said on December 24th, 2007 at 1:23pm #

    Mike hit the nail right on the thumb.

    Alas, so did the common taters, the sweet taters, and all of the other taters.

    We know what needs to be done. I suspect that most Americans know what needs to be done. Perhaps if someone says why it isn’t done then someone will take the lead and disappear into the American gulag …

    We need another revolution.

    Will it happen?


    None of us want to wake up in our very own gulag. I know I don’t … and certainly the readers of articles/opinion pieces like this don’t either.

    We are complicit … always have been, always will be.

    ‘Nuff said.

  6. what is a name said on December 24th, 2007 at 1:55pm #

    Michael Kenny, just look to Canada. We have had and in some way still have the very concept of which you speak. We had a Constitutional Act (mortgage agreement) and instead of amendments we just “REPATRIATED” that act (new mortgage agreement). Democratic, No. A democracy is a military state. What happened to our republics. Oh ya, they were destroyed when WE committed genocide of ingenious people worldwide. When will everyone wake up to the fact that when you have another individual (person) re-present you as an individual , you have given up your Common Law rights and settled for Admiralty Equity privileges.
    We are hurdling toward our own genocide. May the Almighty have mercy on our souls.
    ‘You can lead a horse to water, then it will hoof you in the head”

  7. hp said on December 24th, 2007 at 2:26pm #

    “Democracy = two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for lunch.”

  8. dresden said on December 25th, 2007 at 4:47am #

    First of all, the report on the voting machines said that their security could be breached, but it did not say it was. Breaching these security flaws, although possible, was highly unlikely on a large scale in Ohio. So saying the report proves the election was rigged is simply not true. Like many elections, it was very close. That’s a reality of voting and whoever comes out on the losing side is always going to claim fraud. The next illogical leap you make is that because the servers were in the same basement as those of the RNC, somehow Republicans were able to hack the server and change vote counts. Have you ever heard of server farms, where hundreds of servers for many different customers are housed? Just because the RNC was using one of them doesn’t mean they could somehow violate all the other servers in the area. The RNC obviously didn’t own or control the company that operated the servers. I agree that voting machines have inherent vulnerabilities, but the arguments you make here are leaps of imagination bordering on the delusional. I’m not affiliated with either party, but Bush, Cheney and the Republican Party are not evil demons bent on the destruction of the universe. The mythology that liberals have created over the past 8 years is shear hysteria. The question that you should really think about is, whom are you going to hate when Bush and Cheney are gone? Where will you direct all that negative energy? The other question is, with a Democratically controlled House, Senate, and White House, will the country be any better off? I seriously doubt it. Making such wild-eyed claims about voting fraud is not going to influence anyone outside of your left-wing sphere. You’re just preaching heresy to the choir.

  9. Donald Hawkins said on December 25th, 2007 at 9:30am #

    Bush, Cheney and the Republican Party are not evil demons bent on the destruction of the universe. Well that maybe true as the universe is a little bigger than the republican party but after watching these people for all these years they seem to be missing something it’s called a mind and as we all know that is a terrible thing to waste. Lesson number one;
    Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
    Have a nice day

  10. Deadbeat said on December 25th, 2007 at 11:53am #

    I’d be careful about “imagination”. “Imagination” can also be divorced from reality. What is needed especially by the “left” is the truth about reality. There has been a distortion of truth and reality coming from the left.

  11. Donald Hawkins said on December 25th, 2007 at 1:46pm #

    Let’s just look at the truth in something that has happened in the last few years. This aministration just with NASA on climate change what did they do. They sent people there people along with scientists when giving talks on global warming to make sure they got it right. Changing reports so as to make it look like don’t worry be happy we still have a hundred years. For me to do something like that would not come into my mind. I would go talk to these scientists talk to as many people as possible to find out the problem. Then you should ask yourself the question why is it so important for these people the truth not be know? It’s not just Exxon but many company’s who fund people who want you to believe climate change is a hoax. Why is that so important? Wait don’t tell me because they just want the truth out there. Before the last IPCC report came out the main man from the US this administration because he wanted the language changed on the report sound familiar brought up this question. “Now if the ice sheets melt doesn’t that mean that sometime in the future they will come back”. I am almost sure when he said that the people at the table with there mouths half open there heads cocked to one side just looked at this man in pure amazement and said to themselves, ” what, did he really say that”. That’s what I am talking about nonsense. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Is there any other nonsense out there these days?

  12. Donald Hawkins said on December 25th, 2007 at 2:21pm #

    Now just on the off chance that putting millions of tons of CO 2 into the atmosphere everyday and burning rainforests and turning are oceans into acid could be a problem what this administration has done with reports from scientists by changing them is not like burning books but the books just never came out or the ones that did is not what the author intended. Those games withe IPCC is kid stuff kid games. Maybe our policy makers just never grew up they are still in high school.

  13. Deadbeat said on December 25th, 2007 at 3:49pm #

    The problem with the “climate change” issue is that this is a debate among elites and is not the main concern of the “general” population. The masses have more immediate needs and concerns. The problem is not what is true and what is not true about climate change. The problem has to do with the power arrangement of the parties involved. Those that deem climate change an important issue do not have the power to challenge the Exxon’s and others who interest are threatened by altering the status quo to address “climate change”.

    “Climate changes” supporters need to expand their influence on this issue by expanding their base. However to expand their base that means convincing the poor and the working class how this issue connect to their immediate need. But this also means that “climate change” advocates must become sensitive to issue directly concerning the poor, “developing” nations, and especially people of color.

    One of the easiest issues that climate change supporters can do is demand a reduction of the military budget. This would greatly reduce consumption of oil and energy. Much of the rhetoric I’ve heard from “climate change” advocates have been “blame the victim” that individual consumption (“we”) is the primary problem.

  14. Deadbeat said on December 25th, 2007 at 4:08pm #

    Mike Whitney assesement of the Democrats is a bit flawed. Zionism influences both the Republicans and Democrats. Here’s an assessment by Jeffrey Blankfort…

    Cynthia McKinney resisted AIPAC from the very beginning. One of the things they did with her, and with Earl Hilliard, who also criticized Israel, was to redraw their districts. When the Democratic Party, or the Republicans who have their own consulting groups, the members of Congress go to these groups because they have all the data. There was a congressman named Gus Savage in Illinois. Savage had a problem. He was a critic of Israel. He supported the Palestinians. And he gave a talk in which he listed and gave all the names of all the Jews outside the Chicago area who were giving money to his opponent’s campaign. That, of course, was “anti-Semitic.” And the Washington Jewish Week ran a headline entitled “Savaged Savage.” Talk about racist, huh? And he was defeated. What they did was they redrew his district. And they did the same with Earl Hilliard and Cynthia McKinney to get certain voters who supported them out of their district. And, of course, they got no support from the Democratic party.

    It’s interesting because the Democratic Party, as I said, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Israel Lobby. And anyone who thinks that things can change by supporting an individual Democrat, other than McKinney, maybe, is crazy.

    The head of the Democratic Party Senate campaign, the one who determines where the money is going to go, is Charles Schumer, an open, leading, Jewish Zionist from New York. For the House, it’s Rahm Emmanuel, who, when he was working for Bill Clinton as a high level staff member, took time off during the first Intifada to do volunteer work in Israel for the Israeli Defense Force. His family is Israeli. He says he’s not. In any case, here you have two Jewish Zionists, one running the Democrats’ House campaigns and one running the Senate campaigns, determining who is going to get the money in the 2006 election. It’s flagrant. And yet you can’t discuss this on the Left, because they’ll say that sounds like anti-Semitism, or say that, “it’s not important that they’re Jewish,” like it’s not important that the Pope’s Catholic. This is what we’re dealing with.

    And out here in San Francisco, we have Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Whip, and Tom Lantos, one of the most important persons on the House International Relations Committee. He’s the ranking Democrat, and also serves Israel as a diplomatic representative in countries where Israel has no diplomatic relations, according to the Jerusalem Post. We see major political events against the Iraq war, even for Palestine here, and yet do we hear criticism of Pelosi or Lantos?

    Just before 9/11, Steve Zeltzer and I, the Labor Committee on the Middle East no longer existing, decided we would picket of Tom Lantos, who was being given the Jewish National Fund’s Man of the Year award at the Fairmont Hotel, the Jewish National Fund being the organization that took over the Palestinian land and the villages in 1948. They plant trees on Palestinian land where the trees have been uprooted. They tear out Palestinian trees in order to plant Jewish trees.

    So we decided to have a picket. It was right after the Durban conference on racism. At a meeting at the Arab Cultural Center, I asked one of the leaders of ANSWER, “Will you endorse this picket of Tom Lantos?”

    And she looked at a fellow ANSWER official there, and, kind of hesitant, asked “What do you think?”

    And he said, “I think we have to.”

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 25th, 2007 at 8:20pm #

    The US system has been a naked plutocracy since the beginning. John Jay famously had a favourite aphorism only the lines of, ‘Those people who own the country, are going to run the country’. Democrats and Republicans have always been allies in ‘ keeping the rabble in line’, while dividing the spoils amongst themselves. The basic contradiction is between capitalism and democracy. Capitalism, particularly in the Market Absolutist, Hayekian, manifestation, is utterly inimical to democracy, of any type. In capitalism its ‘one dollar,one vote’ and in democracy it ought to be something else entirely. Any politician who emerged arguing for putting the capitalist parasite class under firm democratic control, and taxing them to raise money for the benefit of all the people, while reducing their inordinate political power, would be destroyed by the capitalist media. He or she would be starved of publicity, traduced, lied about and, if still on the path to power, physically eliminated. In most of the capitalist world, the last step would be taken more promptly. As the psychopath is the preferred type of Homo economicus, Capitalist Man, so the psychopath has become the preferred political type. Hence Blair, Bush, Howard et al, with worse to come. Grizzling about the political system is pointless without seeing the basic fault lies in rule by money. I think all those old stories that Gorbachev was the anti-Christ, or the Great Beast, based on his birthmark, may turn out to have been true after all. It was his surrender in the Cold War, his idiotic assertion that he would ‘remove America’s enemy’, as if the Yankee state Moloch would not find enemies a-plenty everywhere, that opened the door for the present era of unfettered Rightwing global tyranny. If the USSR still existed, two million Iraqis would still be alive, and global capitalist hyper-exploitation would, perhaps, not be so unbridled. With the USSR gone the essentially neo-feudal nature of late capitalism is exposed for all to see, and the serfs are just as common in Peoria, and just as detested, as they are in Nablus, Gaza or Fallujah.

  16. Deadbeat said on December 25th, 2007 at 10:26pm #

    Even with the USSR around the U.S. was involved in Saddam’s rise to power in 1975. The collapse of the USSR and the War on Iraq has enabled the opening of the dialog exposing Zionism influence on U.S. foreign policy. Before with the Cold War, everything was measured against whether you were an “anti-Communist”. The Cold War allowed Zionism to flourished in the U.S. without commentary.

    It’s a shame there needed to be over 1,000,000 Iraqi martyrs before Zionism’s influence in the United States could be debated in earnest but those deaths where not in vein. The phonies of the Zionist “left” that are complicit in the destruction of Iraq, the decimation of the U.S. left, and their apologia of this racist ideology will sooner or later be discredited. It is clear that they are responsible for the rise of the “populist” right because of the vacuum on the left they induced in order to avoid and disrupt any examination of Zionism’s influence on U.S. foreign and domestic policies.

  17. dresden said on December 26th, 2007 at 6:53am #

    Mulga, your arguments against capitalism simply aren’t supported by the direction most communist nations are taking in creating capitalist economies of their own. The Marxist economy of the USSR collapsed under its inefficiencies and the lack of any incentive for its citizens to succeed and prosper. Russia is now becoming more capitalist by the day and many Russians are attaining great wealth. China is moving rapidly toward a more open capitalist economy, and as the standard of living there increases, those who prosper will demand more and more control of the wealth they create. The richest woman in the world is now a Chinese national. The possibility of wealth through hard work and creativity drives individuals to great accomplishments and a full realization their abilities. It is also the cauldron of innovation and invention. To take that incentive away is to literally go against the survival of the fittest that governs life on this planet.

    Giving all students the same grade for simply showing up kills the desire to learn. Giving all competitors in a sporting event the same trophy kills the desire to compete. There will always be those that succeed and those that fail. Sure, in a capitalist economy regulations are needed to keep those that do succeed from becoming too dominant and monopolistic, and the strength of these controls will continue to swing back and forth. But penalizing success through excessive taxation of the wealthy and redistribution to the poor is once again killing any incentive to succeed, and killing that incentive kills an economy. The vast majority of those that attain wealth drive money back into the economy, which is redistribution by individual choice, instead of by a governing body that is usually inefficient and misdirected. Governmental control of any economy should be as limited as possible. And if you need a blatant contrast of capitalism to centralized control, North and South Korea provide a perfect example. One is teetering toward totalitarian collapse; the other is one the most successful capitalist democracies to emerge in the last 50 years.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 26th, 2007 at 3:04pm #

    Thanks Dresden for a pithy exposition of Social Darwinism as the modus operandi of Market Capitalism. I believe most of your points are mere assertion. Russia, China, India and Brazil, so-called economic miracles under resurgent capitalism, have seen rising inequality, deepening poverty for the masses and growing environmental damage, while a tiny, parasitic elite has garnered the bulk of the supposed benefits. India has dropped, from 124 to 127, on the UN Index of Human Development, since the turn to Market Capitalism. While the number of billionaires has sky-rocketed, hunger is now more widespread in India than ever. China smashed the ‘iron rice-bowl’ of guaranteed social provision, leading to increased poverty and lack of opportunity in the countryside while riches flowed to an urban elite and a middle-class merely a fraction of the population. In fact China actually grew at a faster rate under Mao from 1949 to 1976, albeit from a lower base and despite political upheaval, policy mistakes and natural calamities. Chinese life expectancy grew under Mao from less than 40 to nearly 70, the greatest and fastest such leap in human history. Perhaps the most tragic example of market capitalism’s genocidal indifference to human suffering, is the devastation of the Third World under the Structural Adjustment Programs inflicted by the West, through the IMF and Wold Bank, in the ’80’s and ’90’s. These policies, that demanded asset-stripping privatisations, opening of financial systems to expedite capital flight and other financial looting, the destruction of years of progress in education, health and welfare provision, achieved under mostly socialist governments, and foreign policy subservience to Western policies, were coldly and cynically calculated to throw these countries back into neo-colonial dependence on the West. The ghastly apotheosis of the process is the betrayal of the victims of apartheid in South Africa. There the end of political slavery has only ushered in an era of neo-liberal economic slavery where IMF and World Bank imposed policies, once again privatisations etc, have resulted in the people’s living standard actually falling, while, as ever, a tiny parasitic elite, this time with a few black faces thrown in, reaps all the benefits. That’s the truth of Market Capitalism. It’s neo-feudalism, where billions of villeins are sunk in deepening squalour, while a tiny elite grows rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Any system that truly emancipated humanity from this unending exploitation would be so much more productive, let alone so much more ethical and moral, to be utterly incomparable. Drivel about ‘killing the incentive to succeed’, by which I assume you mean pathological greed, is simply camouflage hiding the real neo-liberal agenda. That is to concentrate the world’s wealth in as few hands as possible, then turn to the task of eliminating the ‘useless eaters’. How you can argue for a system where some are paid hundreds of millions a year, and 200 million slaves still eke out a miserable existence, and billions live in deepening deprivation, is beyond me.

  19. Donald Hawkins said on December 26th, 2007 at 4:51pm #

    Mulga it sure looks like the World economy is about to take a nose dive. What you just wrote, I wonder what it will look like squared.

  20. dresden said on December 26th, 2007 at 8:07pm #

    Mulga, I believe a person should be paid based on performance. If a CEO or other managers marshal a corporation to substantially increase its profits, then they should be rewarded for their work — even if that means earning hundreds of millions a year. I think we both can name a liberal hedge fund manager that is worth billions and contributes to many liberal causes. You can hate his wealth all you want, but his guidance is the reason the hedge fund had huge gains, mainly due to deft currency trading. He deserves the enormous wealth he now commands because he earned it. Just like the star athlete that fills a stadium and brings in high television ratings deserves a share in that take. A-rod just signed for $300 million. He generates huge profits, so he’s worth it. Poor little Brittney Spears is worth over $100 million. I don’t care much for her, but her first four albums went to number one on the charts and her concerts sold out for years. She earned it, like it or not. Are you going to tell these athletes and artists they have no right to profit from their talents, real or perceived? What’s next, are you going to tell Roger Federer he can’t play tennis anymore? Why not take it one step further; go into your nearest wood or jungle and tell the predators they can’t hunt because its unfair to their prey. Those poor animals they kill are being exploited in a cruel and immoral fashion. I wasn’t making “mere assertions” in my post earlier, I was merely holding up reality for what it is. You can’t take competition out of the human experience, no matter how hard you try. And you can’t take the reward for winning that competition out either. That is what communism tries, always unsuccessfully, to do, and that is why no nations of any substance are left still practicing it. Mulga, as studied as you are, I assume you have a good paying job that you chose, based on your talents and training. And my point is, it is probably a job that you “chose.” Can you imagine a member of a central planning committee telling you as a young boy that, because of your competency testing, they have placed you in a particular career field that they see best suits your abilities. Doesn’t matter what you want to do; that’s what they have determined, and that’s what you will do, like it or not. Now honestly tell me you would want your choice of a career taken away. The critical flaw in communism is the complete elimination of self-determination. And I know you’ll say this happens in capitalism, but it’s not built into the system. Anyone in a capitalist democracy can always chose or change his career path. No governmental body is shoving it down your throat.

    You talk of billions that live in deprivation. Overpopulation which
    spreads resources thinner every day is more to blame than any economic system. You can’t blame capitalism for human reproduction, unless you blame efficient markets for allowing the numbers to grow to this point. Humans adapt to changing environments and compete for resources like evolutionary machines, breeding like rabbits all the while. If we haven’t already, we’ll soon pass the carrying capapcity of this planet. Adding a 100 million people a year (probably more) is driving us into a war of resources that no economic system can solve. Our success at survival will soon be our doom if we can’t cut population growth. Odds are nothing will stop it until resourse wars do the job for us. Peak oil will then make any debate on economic theory a side issue.

  21. Donald Hawkins said on December 26th, 2007 at 8:34pm #

    Gentleman that was one hell of a exchange I don’t know about you but I need some sleep.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 26th, 2007 at 10:05pm #

    Dresden, in my opinion you are simply arguing for the ‘bellum omnium contra omnes’. I do not agree that any financial charlatan, no matter how clever his financial finagling, is worth millions. I believe that every cent of that unmerited pay is loot, taken from the mouths of the fifty thousand children who die every day for want of a few cents spent on clean water. The avarice of the global parasite class, who today control more of the world’s wealth than at any time in human history, is the direct cause of human suffering. The argument over population is rearing its head more and more often on the Right, when it is the excessive consumption of the rich that is destroying the biosphere, even more than the efforts of the poor to survive. The Right habitually puts their interest in excess above the survival needs of the untermenschen in the poor world, and I firmly believe this presages some effort to radically reduce human population rather than rein in rich world consumption. Already we see global food prices soaring as grain is diverted to ethanol production for American SUVs, and away from the mouths of the poor. As Gandhi said, ‘The world produces enough for every man’s need, but not for man’s greed’. If the world was ordered along egalitarian lines, with health, welfare and education for all, not just those who can pay for it, if there was a decent minimum wage for all, and, crucially, a maximum wage well below the millions leeched presently by the avaricious plutocracy, the benefits in human development and progress would, in my opinion, be astounding. Removing those whose prime motivation in striving for achievement is simple greed, and replacing them with those who are motivated by self-respect and the desire to serve and benefit others, would be the single greatest step forward in human history. Rule by the pathologically avaricious has only brought us poverty, inequality and ecological disaster.

  23. Donald Hawkins said on December 27th, 2007 at 12:10pm #

    Mulga well put. I think we are all about to see what greed can do. This last round of greed Worldwide I don’t think is going to have a happy ending. Now don’t get me wrong how did you put it, the pathologically avaricious. Well they mass marketed to the masses and told them you must buy this to be a real person. Well it looks like they got there wish. What I will be watching with great interest is the rest of the story.

  24. dresden said on December 27th, 2007 at 5:39pm #

    Mulga, so you’re saying that if my company produces a product that millions of people need, and the sale of that product brings in profits of many millions of dollars, I don’t deserve to keep a significant portion of that money? Let’s say that product is an essential item. Am I an avaricious person because I provide that product? Simply for providing that product??? Am I scheming to subjugate the individuals who patronize my business? The basic premise of your last few posts is that all people who start a business and become successful are trying to concentrate wealth in the hands of a very few while beating down those whom they profit from. That is the height of cynicism. To assume that all who are ambitious seek the ruin of those who are not, is not only inaccurate, it’s blatant hyperbole. In fact you nearly imply that all capitalists are sadists, enjoying, while snickering and rubbing their hands together, the suffering they bring to the masses. Now there are evil among the wealthy like there are evil among all, but to cast such a wide net across any that succeed in a capitalist system is ridiculously unfair. As an example, the charitable organization that Warren Buffet and Bill Gates set up gives hundreds of millions of dollars a year to worthy causes, many of which directly benefit poor and underprivileged areas of the world. A large share goes to AIDS medications for Africa. Now how evil is that? If not for Gate’s and Buffet’s wealth, where would the money come from? And that is just one charitable organization among many that benefit a wide variety of worthy causes. Once again, redistribution of wealth by choice, not by government edict. Are you really of the impression that so many well-to-do people in the U.S. are utterly self-centered and care nothing about the welfare of others, especially those who are less fortunate? I’m sure you’ve probably figured out by now that I am no pauper. I have profited from trading in financial markets and other business pursuits, and for that I am thankful, not only for the outcome, but also the opportunity. I am also a very generous person. I definitely give back. I also know many others who are successful, and to a person, they are all very altruistic. Many of the most successful people I know are greatly humbled by their good fortune and go out of their way to show good will. They will tell you how blessed they are and that it would be callous of them not to help others. The greedy miser that you talk of is more an exception than a rule, and the Latin phrase you quote from Thomas Hobbes does not apply. I won’t dispute that many people of great means live lives of opulent excess. But if you’ve worked hard and earned it, no one should be able to deny you that choice.

    Also, Mulga, in a communist nation, you and I would not be able to have this discussion. After the first few posts, one or both of us would have been yanked from the front of our computers and thrown in a gulag or re-education camp and probably never heard from again. And though I obviously disagree with some of your viewpoints, I would fight with my life for your right to express them. I’m sure 95% of the people in America would disagree with you, but thank God you can stand up and say it. How many journalists have been jailed in China recently? Communist systems don’t tolerate dissent and never will. Would you put me jail because I disagree with you? My impression is that you wouldn’t. So how can you promote a system that would?

  25. Donald Hawkins said on December 27th, 2007 at 6:53pm #

    Heck just look how far we have come in say 100 years in America. Right now the way people think about themselves and what they need to do in this society to be a real person is nuts. So you made some money in the stock market. What do you think of this last round of greed and insanity? So people were using there house as a piggy Bank. This is not new to hear this but a question I never hear asked is why did people use there house as a piggy bank. I really would like to hear some reasons on that one. Here’s one reason because they have been mass marketed to for many years and made to believe that they need to buy this product or get this house or they won’t be a real person. What Mulga is talking about is not buying a product but something a little bigger than that it’s called the human race and the survival of the human race.

  26. dresden said on December 27th, 2007 at 7:25pm #

    People have always used real estate as an investment. Those who got into property they couldn’t afford were not using their head. I agree that the mortgage industry should have been better regulated, but it’s too late now for those who jumped in too deep. The Savings and Loan problem ten years ago fell along the same lines. There will always be issues that come up in lending practices; no way around that one. But you have to let people borrow money if you want to give them access to capital.

    Regulation will always be a thorny issue. All the hype about the disaster the current subprime mess is causing is exaggeration. We’ll get past it in the next year or so and life will go on. Congress is addressing it with legislation that will deal with predatory lending, but obviously, the pain experienced by the institutions that muddied their hands with these loans will keep them from ever making that mistake again. And Mulga was talking about buying a product or anything else that brings in a profit and transferring wealth because of that sale.

  27. Donald Hawkins said on December 27th, 2007 at 7:55pm #

    In the beginning you have a person who needs a home loan the majority of those people don’t even know what an interest rate is or what it means for that loan. Then you have a few people who know what an interest rate is but have know idea what a CDO or SIV is. Then you have even less people who know what a interest rate is and they think they know what a CDO and SIV is. Then you have even less people who know what a interest rate is and know what a CDO and SIV is but that derivative thing is a little unclear. Then you have even less people who know what a interest rate is and a CDO and SIV and have the derivative part all figured out they think. Then you have even less people who know what a interest rate is a CDO and SIV and what a derivative is and how to play it. Now it sure looks to me that that last group of even less people are now saying Ben please the helicopter the helicopter we need it. Ben do you get it do you get .
    There is only 7 to 10 years to keep CO 2 levels below say 450PPM or we don’t stop a warming planet. There is still time but in order to do that we need China, United States, India as a start on the same page. Working together. Some very smart people are trying to do just that. Can it be done. Not with the minds of the policy makers we have now in the United States. They are not smart people. The odds are against us but me for one I will keep trying. This isn’t about who wins on American Idol this is about the whole ball game.

  28. dresden said on December 27th, 2007 at 8:24pm #

    Donald, SIVs (Structured Investment Vehicles), CDOs (a similar asset class) and derivatives (exotics investment vehicles way over most peoples heads) have nothing to do with getting a home loan. SIVS and CDOs are used to package assets (such as mortgage loans) into products that can be used by large financial institutions. You don’t have to know a thing about them when you apply for a mortgage. Now you do have to know what an interest rate is, and if you don’t know that much, then move into an apartment and keep yourself out of trouble.

    I hate to be pessimistic about climate change, but it’s way to far down the road to slow it much. Permafrost is melting in the arctic regions, releasing huge amounts of CO2, and frozen methane is being released from ocean floors because of warming seawaters. Trying to put that genie back in the bottle probably won’t work. But I’m all for the green efforts being put forth, as long as they are rational.

  29. Donald Hawkins said on December 27th, 2007 at 8:45pm #

    Let’s try this. Remember the movie The Matrix. If you take the blue pill no problem you don’t remember a thing and you go back to that computer generated world of the Matrix and believe all you see and hear on Fox News or CNN and think it’s real. Now if you take the red pill and there is no turning back I might add you see the World for what it is:
    Morpheus: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.
    Trinity: I know why you’re here, Neo. I know what you’ve been doing… why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your computer. You’re looking for him. I know because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me, he told me I wasn’t really looking for him. I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.
    Neo: What is the Matrix
    Morpheus: I imagine that right now, you’re feeling a bit like Alice. Hmm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
    Neo: You could say that.
    Morpheus: I see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, that’s not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
    Neo: No.
    Morpheus: Why not?
    Neo: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
    Morpheus: I know *exactly* what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
    Neo: The Matrix.
    Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
    Neo: Yes.
    Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

    Dresden the choice is yours in many ways it’s harder if you take the red pill and remember there is no turning back

  30. Donald Hawkins said on December 27th, 2007 at 9:13pm #

    The methane hydrate is still frozen and yes because of permafrost melting more CO 2 is being put into the atmosphere. I look at CO 2 levels once a week and if we go for it we can slow this down it is not to late. It has to be a total focus on this problem it can be done. Talk with James Hansen of NASA he has a web site with his phone number.

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 28th, 2007 at 12:11am #

    What I believe, Dresden, is that capitalists are exploiters. They expect more than their fair share. They pursue the lowest wages possible, as the US workforce has experienced in recent years, with job flight to low wage countries of well-paid manufacturing jobs, replaced with poverty waged service jobs.As you would no doubt be aware the median wage in the US has scarcely grown since 1973, while your beloved plutocrats have waxed richer and richer. Since Reagan’s ascent the share of US GNP going to the parasitic classes in dividends etc ie profits, has grown by between 8 and 10%, at the expense of wage earners. This is a transfer of one trillion, every year, from the middle and lower classes to the rich, who own the great bulk of shares. Inequality in the US and throughout the world is the greatest it has ever been. Where working people attempt to organise to protect their conditions, they are demonised and denigrated in the capitalist media, have nasty legislation that disempowers them passed, face the prospect of their jobs disappearing overseas if they do not capitulate to the Bosses’ threats, and, in the Third World, are likely to be slaughtered or ‘disappear’ as in that free market paradise, Colombia. These facts are, in my opinion, incontestable. It has always been my opinion that support for capitalist exploitation, if you’ll forgive the tautology, is based on a particular psychology. One in which other people are seen as adversaries, at best, but more commonly as enemies. Where the natural world, and the future lives of generations unborn are ‘externalities’ that can, indeed, must be ignored in pursuit of profit. This attitude explains the eternal cruelty of the Masters, expressed in completely normal capitalist institutions like slavery, still widespread throughout the world, and very profitable, destruction of the natural world in pursuit of profit and elimination of those who get in the way. Islam banned usury, as did the Christian church for a long while, realising its parasitical nature. The Chinese always kept the merchant class far from political power, understanding that, while useful in trade, their avarice and straitened world view were a threat to the rest of society. Human progress comes not from business-it comes from the productive labour of workers and scientific and technical innovation. The capitalist class is simply a parasitic layer that sucks the life-blood from society, and its rapacious greed brooks no obstruction, even from the planet’s life support systems. Unless we can remove this class from its utterly dominant position, it will lead us to perdition, and very soon.

  32. Donald Hawkins said on December 29th, 2007 at 4:46am #

    In the past five years, though, scientists began to worry that the planet was reacting more quickly than they had expected to the relatively small temperature increases we’ve already seen. The rapid melt of most glacial systems, for instance, convinced many that 450 parts per million was a more prudent target. That’s what the European Union and many of the big environmental groups have been proposing in recent years, and the economic modeling makes clear that achieving it is still possible, though the chances diminish with every new coal-fired power plant.

    But the data just keep getting worse. The news this fall that Arctic sea ice was melting at an off-the-charts pace and data from Greenland suggesting that its giant ice sheet was starting to slide into the ocean make even 450 look too high. Consider: We’re already at 383 parts per million, and it’s knocking the planet off kilter in substantial ways. So, what does that mean?

    It means, Hansen says, that we’ve gone too far. “The evidence indicates we’ve aimed too high – that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2is no more than 350 ppm,” he said after his presentation. Hansen has reams of paleo-climatic data to support his statements (as do other scientists who presented papers at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco this month). The last time the Earth warmed two or three degrees Celsius – which is what 450 parts per million implies – sea levels rose by tens of meters, something that would shake the foundations of the human enterprise should it happen again.

    And we’re already past 350. Does that mean we’re doomed? Not quite. Not any more than your doctor telling you that your cholesterol is way too high means the game is over. Much like the way your body will thin its blood if you give up cheese fries, so the Earth naturally gets rid of some of its CO2each year. We just need to stop putting more in and, over time, the number will fall, perhaps fast enough to avert the worst damage.

    That “just,” of course, hides the biggest political and economic task we’ve ever faced: weaning ourselves from coal, gas and oil. The difference between 550 and 350 is that the weaning has to happen now, and everywhere. No more passing the buck. The gentle measures bandied about at Bali, themselves way too much for the Bush administration, don’t come close. Hansen called for an immediate ban on new coal-fired power plants that don’t capture carbon, the phaseout of old coal-fired generators, and a tax on carbon high enough to make sure that we leave tar sands and oil shale in the ground. To use the medical analogy, we’re not talking statins to drop your cholesterol; we’re talking huge changes in every aspect of your daily life.

    Maybe too huge. The problems of global equity alone may be too much – the Chinese aren’t going to stop burning coal unless we give them some other way to pull people out of poverty. And we simply may have waited too long.

    But at least we’re homing in on the right number. Three hundred and fifty is the number every person needs to know. By Bill McKibben
    The Washington Post

    Perhaps fast enough to avert the worst damage. Any ideas on those huge changes in every aspect of your daily life.