Monday, December 23, 2013

Save the Rich!

No, I really mean it... Save the rich.

Rich people are dying. Rich people are dying and our Government isn't doing enough to help. Ironically, because some greedy rich people scam those tax monies that could have gone towards saving the rich. Allow me to explain. Even the best health care available in America is far from as good as it could be. Therefore; rich people are sick, and even dying, from lack of exceptional health care. (Of course, the rest of us are dying too.)

Our health “care” system is failing us – all of us – even the rich. America is 33rd in life expectancy on the planet. Moreover, our system for finding cures for diseases is crippled by mismanagement, profit motive excluded cures, and missing Federal funding.

Most of us don't really think about how damaging such an inefficient and corrupt government as ours really hurts us in the long run. But (without profit incentives) if government money doesn't make it to the scientists, it's not likely there will ever be a cure for whatever ails you (or someone in your family).

Our for-profit health care system has brought us Rogaine and Viagra, but not a cure for much anything. Great. Now we'll have rich people dying with hairy erections. That's not what we really wanted. We wanted to save someone we love... But ironically, what we now have is a junkie/pusher relationship with our health “care” system. It didn't have to be this way.

Our “free-market” government experiment has failed us. But we knew that would happen. It was just a system of required bribes and unworthy giveaways. Our nation's resources have been squandered to benefit the off-shore bank accounts of those greedy enough to buy off our “representatives.” And our elected representatives more or less have had no choice but to accommodate them or lose the next election. America's wealth is being siphoned off. Which means America's creativity and productivity have been stunted. This hurts everyone.

Consider this; some of those billions of tax dollars that were wasted on stuffing greedy companies' pockets could have been spent on saving the rich who actually run those greedy companies. But that wouldn't have been as good for those greedy companies' bottom line. So the rich continue to die – and the greedy companies just hire a new CEO every few years.

What would you call this? Self-oppression? I just call it bad judgment. The captains of industry are so devoted to their income streams that they essentially neglect to invest in living.

It's hard to believe that in a country with trillions of tax dollars to spend can't seem to afford to pay scientists to study saving lives... But of course, the U.S. Government could; but the health “care” industry isn't really all that motivated to want healthy Americans. The drug companies, the hospitals, the medical device industry, and even the health care workers all secretly want (at least some of) us sick; so that we have to pay them for “treatments.” They're not necessarily evil. But nobody wants to lose their income stream. So they evidently don't put that much effort into actually curing people. And we put up with that, as long as the health care industry doesn't actually hold back good ideas – which they don't appear to be doing directly (much). However, by charging so much for health care, there isn't enough money left to look for cures.

...And rich people continue to die.

A rational government would be doing everything it reasonably could to save the lives of its citizens – especially its most powerful citizens. But that's not how a corporatist state (dis)functions. In America, government monies get allocated to the highest bidder. And scientists (even scientists who save lives) don't have any money for lobbyists, so they end up at the back of the line.

Out of America's 3.7 trillion dollar budget, only 31 billion dollars gets spent on science, technology, and space exploration. And only a fraction of that gets spent on finding cures for diseases.

I realize that throwing money at a disease doesn't guarantee a cure, but in our economic system; not funding health science guarantees that there won't be a cure.

Many American scientists are going without funding – especially now with the budget sequester. The talents of scores of American scientists are being wasted. Apparently, America doesn't have enough money to save lives.

But that's OK... America now has the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet! And after 8 years of delays and $167 billion in cost overruns, they still can't fly in combat. No really! If this were fiction no one would believe it. How could our government possibly have such bad judgment? (Hint; private profits matter more than pubic good - see photo.)

Ask anyone; what we need are cures to diseases, not $137 million fighter jets to frighten poor people on the other side of the planet. Nonetheless, Washington somehow just doesn't seem to get it – even though they too are dying before their time.

Too many American scientists have been left to beg for charity. But fortunately, there is some. The January 2014 issue of Life Extension magazine boasted about how they were filling the void in government funding for biomedical research. The article mentioned seven scientists they awarded grants of tens of thousands of dollars each to. I commend them for that. But Life Extension Foundation shouldn't have to do this. We pay taxes for this. I don't want crappy fighter jets. I want scientists studying how to save lives. Yes, I want my tax money to save rich people's lives.

And rich people do have the most to lose here. Whatever cures are discovered; they will likely, at least initially, be expensive. Which means rich people would be the first to benefit from any scientific breakthroughs.

One of the scientists mentioned in the Life Extension article was John Schloendorn, PhD (molecular biology). I'll quote:
we derived immune cells from mouse progenitor cells, and were able to use those cells to save the lives of mice that had been administered what would otherwise have been fatal infectious pathogens. There were no immune system incompatibilities, and no immunological matching was required... The next step... would have been human clinical trials. But this would have required $15 million, a sum of money we ultimately failed to raise.”
So here we have a scientist who may have discovered a way to reduce illness – and nobody in the health “care” industry or our government cares?
This would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic – and likely so common.
  • If this had been a drug that treated the condition (but did not cure it), the drug companies would have been interested.
  • If this had been a new way to kill people, the military/industrial complex would have been interested.
  • If this had been a way to save the lives of only conservatives, the Republicans would have been interested.
But this idea, like who knows how many more, sit on the back burner until some private organization throws them a bone. Life Extension Foundation donated $50 thousand to John Schloendorn's project – far short of the $15 million he needed for the human clinical trials.

Rich people, who might have lived many years longer, are dying.
So why aren't rich people up in arms? Where are the protests?
Apparently, rich people figured out how not to pay taxes, and that isn't their tax monies being wasted. So consequently, unlike the rest of us, they don't feel as cheated. And if they speak up – well, the rest of us might insist the rich help pay to save the rich... Forget about it.

But seriously:
  • The rich in the health “care” industry are raking in billions. They don't want to rock the boat.
  • The rich in the military/industrial complex are raking in billions. They don't want to rock the battleship.
  • The rich in government are raking in (at least) millions. They don't want real change.
  • And the rich in the entertainment industry are just actors, so they don't really know what they're talking about (with the exception of Ronald Reagan, of course.)

This is a sign. This is a sign that the takers in Washington have more power than the rest of us. Pork barrel boondoggles abound. Especially in the military/industrial complex.

American taxpayers have, are, and will be paying for generations for the greatest killing machine ever to have existed in history (ironically, without any significant enemies). American military spending is more than the next 10 countries combined! But apparently, we need to spend that much money because so much of it gets wasted (translation; pocketed). Astonishingly; we don't even know how much of our tax dollars actually gets wasted, because evidently the Pentagon doesn't actually keep audit-able books. (How convenient – for the beltway bandits.)

Example: One quarter of the $1.6 trillion being spent on major weapons systems come from “unexpected” cost overruns. That's $403 billion that defense contractors essentially con out of the U.S. taxpayer. (Yes, I use the term “con.” How would you feel about a home repair contractor who always charged you 25% more than they quoted? You'd feel conned. And you'd have every right.)

So, to top all of that corruption and mismanagement off, I'll ask; what does the military/industrial complex actually accomplish with all of that money? Are we winning any wars? And for the answer to that, I will refer my readers to the video documentary Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill. I highly recommend this documentary.

The way America fights wars has changed. There are no armies left to fight. There are no countries left to stand up to us. All that is left are a few angry civilians we call terrorists.

Without a Hitler, without a Khrushchev, without even a Osama bin Laden; America's secret military government still wants us to believe we have dangerous “enemies.” But these enemies are beginning to look more and more like ghosts – even fabrications.

In one scene of the documentary Dirty Wars; Jeremy Scahill reports about a Muslim Cleric, who, immediately after 9/11 sided with America. But after years of watching America invade Muslim countries, spoke out against America. Consequently, he went into hiding. And the hunt was on. Eventually; America's secret army, JSOC, hunts him down and kills him – and his American son.

Now wait a minute... Our secret government is willing to kill an American for the “crime” of being related to someone who spoke out against America. That's nonsense. They may as well have just pulled somebody's name out of a hat... And who knows. Maybe they do.

Think about it. Even spying is effected by the marketplace. Even analysts deep within the bowels of military “intelligence” get paid. They have careers. They probably even compete amongst each other for promotions. And they know that if they don't find any “terrorists,” some other analyst will. The pressure to come up with names is likely intense. Moreover, if any analyst were to say; “it looks like we got all of them,” they would likely be treated with disdain. That comment would imply that all the analysts were no longer necessary – and they could all lose their jobs.

It is said that “you get what you pay for.” And the U.S. Government wants names.
We all know how the market works – they'll get their names – even if it's on the flimsiest of evidence.

And once they get those names, there comes a responsibility.
Once this person is on this list, the U.S. Government is somewhat responsible for their actions. If this person really were an active terrorist, and nothing is done, the blame for any attack would eventually fall on those who posses the list. Consequently, it is very likely that someone in power in our secret government might be convinced that the prudent thing to do (politically) would be to kill the “terrorists” before they act.
...This is effectively a hit list.
...And it has no oversight.
If someone is added to this list, it no longer matters what they've done – or what they're planning to do – or even if they just spoke out against America. There's no way of getting off the list. And they will likely never know they were on the list... Just like a hit list.
Only this hit list continues to exist and grow long past its usefulness – because of predictable market reactions – because of money. People are getting paid to put names on this list – and they likely wouldn't get paid if they didn't.

The analysts have jobs. The bureaucrats have jobs. The soldiers have jobs. And they're all just doing their jobs. This is the worst example of a systematic failure I have ever seen.

So, my point is simple:
We are allowing rich people in America to die so that we can kill poor people on the other side of the planet.

Monday, December 16, 2013

An “All of the Above” Energy Strategy Shouldn't Mean Absurd Subsidies and Loopholes

In the recent issue of our local rural power cooperative's publication, Ruralite, the National Rural Electric Cooperative tried to convince us that coal is still a cheap source of power. I appreciate their efforts to keep electric bills affordable. However, just because they are heavily invested in coal doesn't mean Mt. Wheeler Power has to live by their flawed economic calculations. In the real world, coal is far more expensive than the coal industry wants us to know. The reason your coal fired power bill seems cheap is because they have been taking some of their profits from your taxes (and worse, they have left you with the bill for dealing with their poisonous and climate altering wastes). 

Since 1950, the U.S. Government has provided the coal burning industry with over $70 billion in tax breaks and subsidies. Additionally, over the past 30 years, coal mining has received almost $30 billion in U.S. subsidies. Our tax dollars are being used to make it appear that coal power is cheap. They are using our own money to hoodwink us. Face it; there is no legitimate reason financially successful companies should be receiving absurd subsidies such as this. This isn't free market economics, it's welfare for established monopolistic industries! Every tax-paying American is being forced to support an industry that is taking our nation's resources to pollute the rest of our resources.

...Eventually humanity will have to stop burning coal for power. Either a competing technology will be better or we will someday run out of coal. Either way, coal is not a long-term option. (And besides, if we burn up all that coal for power, how are we going to smelt our minerals?)

The estimate the coal industry quoted in this article for how much coal remains in the ground is practically laughable. “236 years.” Like they were able to accurately estimate, down to the year; how much coal is left in the ground and how much America will burn it. What are the error tolerances? I'd say about 236 years plus or minus 200 years (but most likely minus).

When I hear of pie-in-the-sky estimates like this, it reminds me that coal mining corporations' investment dollars are dependent upon estimates of recoverable coal reserves. If they say they have a lot of coal, investors will invest more. The U.S. Energy Information Agency probably just takes every one of these over-optimistic estimates and adds them up. Of course, the coal industry doesn't complain because it gives us a false sense of plenty.

...Nonetheless, the obvious reality is that this isn't really about the coal. This is about the money. Ideally, in a more just society; our subsidies wouldn't be going to the highest bidder. Ideally that $100 billion would have gone towards the development of safe, reliable, sustainable energy production. But quite likely, much of those subsidies ultimately went into the oligarchy's off-shore bank accounts.

Worldwide, all fossil fuels together have received half a trillion dollars in government subsides every year! Could you imagine where the people of the world would be if we had given those subsidies to renewable energy companies instead? We would have been breathing healthier, instead of having to live with a trashed atmosphere. We would still have the tops of the Appalachians. We might have still had a reliable climate. But, most important to the coal industry; we would have been more self-reliant, instead of reluctantly propping up an industry far past its prime. The coal industry doesn't want us to be independent. They want us to be dependent – upon them. And for that, it appears that they intend to fool us into paying any price.

A Harvard study has calculated that the hidden cost of coal in America (over and above what we pay to the power companies) is half a trillion dollars a year. Somebody's got to pay for the health care for all those black lung disease patients – and asthma – and lung disease – and cancer etc.

So, why didn't the author of this article on coal power want to talk about those costs? My guess is that they don't want us to think about them. They don't want to pay for those costs – and as long as they control the focus of the argument, they don't want us to focus on “externalities.” “Externalities,” you know; the economists' term for costs they don't have to pay because... well, they made a deal with our government. As long as they live within the rules they helped write, ignoring the consequences of their actions is perfectly legal.

The medical journal Lancet lists air pollution in its top 10 disease risk factors. And, of course, burning of fossil fuels is the greatest emitter of air pollution. Environment America has rated the Intermountain Power Project in Utah the 29th dirtiest power plant in America. That's right, the coal-fired power plant Mt. Wheeler Power buys most of its electricity from is one of the dirtiest power plants in the country. This is what they are trying to prop up.

...The title of the article in the Ruralite publication I am commenting on is “When it Comes to Providing Energy, 'All-of-the-Above' Strategy is Critical.” Or in other words; “give coal some loopholes.” Now for a moment, think about a term they used; “critical.” When I think of the word “critical,” I think of the condition of the most desperate people in hospitals. I think of crisis or emergency. But if the coal industry doesn't get their absurd subsidies or environmental loopholes, nobody is going to die. On the other hand, if they continue to get away with not having to deal with the consequences of their actions, lots of people are going to die – lots of people who wouldn't have died, if we weren't burning poisons.

A World Health Organization study has revealed that 3.3 million people die every year worldwide from outdoor air pollution.

This is an enormous catastrophic cost. But this cost rarely even gets mentioned. How can any rational economic system just ignore the highest cost to humanity? People are dying. A lot of people are dying. If the fossil fuel industry were shooting these people, the world would be in an uproar. But since they (and we) are poisoning them; hey, that's just the cost of doing business?

...I guess if the coal industry doesn't want to talk about the health effects, most likely they don't want to talk about the effects on the environment either? Nope. All the article mentioned was Carbon Sequestration, and... well, forget about it.

Of course, what we can't forget about is that coal pollution seriously effects our environment. For example; the drought in the American West for the past 13 years has severely effected our water supply. And a Department of Energy study has shown that coal soot melts snow pack.

…But that's just an inconvenience compared to what coal pollution, that witches brew of tons of dangerous and poisonous chemicals emitted by every coal-fired power plant (both into the air and onto the ground), does to plants and animals.

A USGS study has found widespread mercury contamination in American “fresh” water. It simply isn't as safe to eat anything anymore... Nonetheless, mercury is just one of the many dangerous and poisonous effluents from coal-fired power plants – even ones with “scrubbers” (because what doesn't go into the air ends up on the ground).

We've been poisoning ourselves. We've been allowing others to poison us. But we don't have to do that any more. Just this one benefit of renewable energy is absolutely priceless! We no longer have to poison ourselves, our families, and everyone we know to get electricity. Even if it cost a little more at first, eventually inflation will drive the cost of coal generation up – and renewable energy will be cheaper in the long run.

So, here's the deal; we can get something priceless for the price of what we're going to have to do eventually anyway. Any reasonable economic system would favor wise decisions. But apparently, our economic markets are so perverted by manipulated laws that somehow poisoning ourselves looks like a thrifty idea.

The fatal flaw of our economic system is that we can't seem to think long term. In most companies, long term planning is five years out. Just five years. But those five years keep on adding up. Global warming started to become a real issue back in the '80s. It's been almost 35 years now.

If you were born after April 1985, you have never seen a month on Earth cooler than what was once the average Earth temperature. This has had a direct effect on the quality of your life. This has had a substantial effect on the quality of life on Earth. Every ecosystem on the planet is in decline.

I'll say it... We are already firmly in the grip of climate change.

The price of food and food security have already been significantly effected by climate change.

In the West, the recreation and tourism industry has suffered due to drought, pestulance, and fire. This will likely get significantly worse as climate change progresses.

According to the international humanitarian organization DARA; extreme weather and climate change are already costing the world $1.2 trillion a year.

And the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research claims that if the world puts off cooperative efforts to fight climate change until 2030, the costs will triple.

...What costs? There's no mention of these costs in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association article... Personally, I consider that the epitome of irresponsibility. But that's just how our economic system is focused. Everybody does it. Unfortunately however, what we ignore in real world doesn't go away. And if we ignore the consequences of dumping millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, there will likely be Hell to pay – starting now and lasting for a thousand years. Because much of the carbon dioxide we are emitting will stay in the atmosphere for the next thousand years.

On top of that, carbon dioxide can naturally become carbonic acid. Due to the high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, the oceans are becoming more acidic faster than they have in the past 300 million years (a period that includes four mass extinctions). Already some life in the oceans is being disintegrated by this acidic water. Eventually, and possibly much sooner than we think; we may lose our coral reefs.

What price would you pay to keep the oceans' coral reefs? I believe that if we really knew the consequences of our actions, we might act far more responsibly. Which is why so many of us must not want to know the consequences of our actions. Sadly, I have watched for decades as the problem continues to get worse – while so many people continue to pretend that they aren't a part of the problem. Our economy, our nation, even our civilization is now likely at critical risk. (And unlike the coal industry article, I really mean “critical.”)

We are already seeing vast methane plumes North of Siberia. Methane is 20 times the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is – and there are vast of frozen methane pockets worldwide on the verge of a tipping point – where the melted methane could heat the Earth enough to develop a self-reinforcing cycle of melting even more methane, and more, and more. Oh, and one more thing, over a 20 year period, methane is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

A study printed in the science publication Nature predicts that by 2050, as many as a million species may go extinct due to climate change...

Nobody wants to pay high power bills. But the cost of coal-fired power has become far higher than we ever imagined.

The Mt. Wheeler Power (MWP) cooperative doesn't generate power. They deliver power. Financially, it doesn't really matter to MWP how our power is generated – as long as they can make enough money to continue to provide needed services. Herein lies an opportunity.

MWP already offers wind generated power. And with net metering, some of us locals could even generate solar and wind power ourselves – to intermittently be shared with others here. This provides the opportunity for MWP to be the middleman between local generators and customers.

Fossil fuels were the fuel of the 20th century. But they were so successful that everybody did it. And when everybody does anything, the consequences pile up. We still need power, however. And photovoltaic solar power keeps getting cheaper.

In time, inflation will drive up the price of coal-fired power generation – even if the coal industry doesn't have to clean up their act. But most renewable energy is an up-front cost. Which means once it's paid for, there is nothing to drive up the cost. MWP needs to rethink their business model. Steptoe Valley is an excellent place to generate photovoltaic energy. MWP needs to consider power purchase offers for truly clean power generated right here locally.

The coal-fired power plant in Utah (where MWP buys its power from) is getting near retirement age. The time has come to adapt – or suffer the environment and economy crushing consequences.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Illusion of Profit

We have been lied to. And we believe the lies because we don't want to bother to change the world. We live within a multiple set of illusions – coordinated to allow the takers to get away with pillage. 

There are many ways to define profit. Of course, the typical way is to count how much money one has gained. But this is a very narrow perspective. Money isn't everything – and everything we do has consequences. If the consequences of our actions are ignored when we calculate profit, we are essentially lying to ourselves. And why would we do this? Because for a while, we just might get away with it.

Have you ever noticed anyone ever talk about long-term real-world net profits?
But I bet you've heard of quick profits – easy money – bubble economies – monopoly control – no-bid government contracts – revolving doors – favored status from big campaign contributions – subsidies and tax breaks for highly profitable companies – burdensome regulations on competitors – black markets – gray markets – Ponzi schemes – market manipulations – bailouts – excessive printing of money – etc.

Obviously, we live in a world where doing the right things often take second place to doing the “profitable” things (no matter the rules one bends or the externalities one ignores). At present, this is just the state of capitalism (and socialism, and even communism). However, there are serious consequences from everyone acting desperate on a regular basis. Of course, the captains of money don't care – they can't. In our economy, doing the wise thing often puts one at a disadvantage in the market. This is the fatal flaw of our markets.

the illusion of functional systems

We live in a world where doing the right thing often isn't a “practical” option.

Consider the oil company executive. Much of his wealth is tied up in stocks in his oil company. Therefore, the oil company executive schemes constantly of ways to keep company stock prices up. Consequently, he continues to mine and sell oil – even if there might be wiser (but not as “profitable”) energy options worth investing in. The consequences of his actions commit the massive oil company to decades more extraction of poisonous fossil fuels – and climate change – and multi-billion dollar “profits.” Nonetheless, eventually peak oil comes along and all the easy to mine oil is gone. There's still oil though. The oil company just has to deep water drill for it, or frack for it, or process it out of tar sands. Yikes! Conditions have radically changed for the oil company. These are extreme challenges. The newer sources of oil are much smaller, much more expensive to get, and much more dangerous to deal with. And more and more people want oil.

...But wait a minute. If a lot of people want something everyone has less and less of, wouldn't that drive prices (and therefore “profits”) up? Yes. But only temporarily, because eventually people would figure out how to do without as much oil. So the oil executive only wants prices to go up some – at least enough to pay for all that extreme mining – and any fines they might later have to pay for the extreme consequences.

Oil companies have had to resort to radically extreme mining to retain their “profit” stream. By definition, that would make them extremists. But hardly anyone has really noticed. There's still gas at the pump...

The oil companies want consumers and investors to think everything is business as usual, even though the whole oil business model has been turned on its end. The world has run out of easy to get oil. But the oil companies can't tell us that. They have committed their massive companies to decades more of oil production. They have to tell us that there is plenty of oil.

And what would happen if the oil company didn't have a long list of “proven” reserves ready to be mined? Investors would be suspicious that the oil company couldn't continue to be profitable. Consequently, the oil company executive has to list worse and worse resources just to keep his company's stock prices up.

the illusion of stability

Moreover, the oil company executive has to worry about consumers. With Global warming and the high price of gas becoming very serious concerns, and electric cars becoming reasonable options; there inevitably will be a mass consumer exodus from the gas fired automobile. But, the oil man still has a trick up his sleeve. He can stall that exodus by temporarily holding gas prices down. Car purchases are somewhat long-term commitments. If the oil company executive can convince the public to buy another gas-fired car, millions will be captured customers for years.

the illusion of value

So, how does the oil company executive convince consumers to make bad decisions? The way they always have; by advertising (and threatening to stop advertising). Consumers have been herded like sheep for decades now. Advertising works. (The most amazing example of how effective advertising manipulates people is when Monsanto etc. convinced voters to vote against GMO product labeling.) And in spite of the fact that everyone knows the mass media is a for-profit industry that cannot be trusted because it panders to its advertisers and investors, people still instinctively believe what they see on TV.

the illusion of integrity

Far too often, the mass media is notorious for leaving out information that might offend their advertisers. Far too often, we are distracted from the issues that are the most important. Because of distractions, what consumers don't often think about is; fossil fuels are poisons that pollute everything they touch, our whole civilization has been poisoned for decades, and on top of that we are changing our climate to the point life on Earth is threatened. And what consumers also don't think about is that our economy is simply a subset of the Environment and that no economy can survive a collapse of our Environment.

the illusion of the whole truth

There's one more thing the oil company executive has to worry about. Much of the company's oil comes from foreign countries. It could be argued that in some form or another, the United States has been at war over oil most of the time for over the past two decades – and his oil company hasn't had to pay for that. On top of that, when there is a war, the price of oil goes up. Oh, and one more thing; our military uses a lot of oil.

So, it would be an understatement to say that the oil company benefits from war at the taxpayers' and consumers' expense. Essentially, financial security for the oil company means insecurity for the world.

the illusion of security

The oil company executive realizes, however, that his company is not alone in benefiting financially from war. A number of government military contractors have become some of the richest people in America by raking in billions of taxpayer dollars. America spends more on what we call “defense” than most of the rest of the world combined. America has about 800 foreign military bases – we don't really know how many (or even why a foreign military presence should be called “defense”). And astonishingly, Americans don't even know how many “wars” we're actually in. But we apparently have been convinced we need to kill far away poor people with drones in the name of “defense.”

the illusion of defense

Many of the people of America have conceded that this is a messed up world and the best one can do is maximize one's “profits”... or at least that's what the oil company executive does. But the rest of us don't have to put up with that. We can always buy our gas from some other sleazy oil company. Or we could vote to end all those “wars” (well, no we can't, at least not directly). We could even vote to use our tax monies to pay for food stamps instead of enriching the merchants of death. But who are we going to vote for to do that? We've allowed our candidates to be chosen for us before we get to vote – and we have casually accepted the lack of direct democracy.

the illusion of choice

The sheer scope of overwhelming corruption is breathtaking. It would practically take a revolution to clean up Washington. And nobody really wants a real revolution. We'd rather just suffer.

the illusion of hopelessness

This is far from the best we can do – and the “captains of money” know it. But as long as they can treat their employees like slaves, their customers like addicts, their investors like suckers, and the environment like a limitless credit card; they'll keep playing the game. And they run the game. They have the money to tell our government “representatives” what to do. (By the way, that was once your money.)

the illusion of leadership

Everything is being pillaged. Moreover, your tax dollars and the bills you pay are what are financing this world-wide pillage. In effect, you are paying for our own long-term self-destruction. You are being used to destroy the environment of the planet to make a few people even more unbelievably rich. Ultimately, no economy will survive that.

the illusion of teamwork

In spite of it all, you might feel you're doing quite well... But are you really, and for how long? This has been the condition of all the well-to-do throughout history. The rich were the last to realize how bad things really were. And by the time things went bad for the rich, it was too late for everyone.

the illusion of success

Borrowing from the future is not profit. Our Economy has been operating like a Ponzi scheme. The study of economics has been an exercise in ignoring everything but money. Our society has not really considered the end-game to this process of turning everything of any real value into money. When all that is left is money, there won't be anything left worth buying.

the illusion of profit

Just remember; the Earth is our habitat. And if we trash our habitat, we don't get a new cage. Or, for those of you who are Christians; if we destroy God's creation, we cannot expect to be permitted into Heaven. In other words; focusing just on “profits” can ultimately lead to our downfall. Or, as has been said; the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

We have been lied to about putting the Earth's resources to beneficial use – no matter what is done. We have been lied to that the pollution our civilization has created is tolerable. We have been lied to about how our economy (dis)functions. We have been lied to about welfare for the rich. We have been lied to about our tax dollars being spent on “defense.” We have been lied to that we have a real choice in the matter. And we've been lied to that there is nothing we can do about this situation. Essentially, we've been lied to about most everything – to keep us in our place – subservient. But these lies have consequences. Our economy and our Environment are in serious trouble.

It's as if we've been sleeping while the house burns all around us.

the illusion of reality

...Now, try to imagine what truly waking up feels like.
Everything you thought you knew in your dream state was a lie.

Possibly, we could live somewhat well with this lie for a while, but eventually our economy must evolve or the consequences of its faults will kill us. As with any system that continues to get worse; fix it or it will break.

For decades, we've been ignoring the consequences of our actions because fixing things has seemed like such a monumental task. But in the time being, the task has gotten much bigger and the consequences more immediate. We are now cornered in our house fire. We now have to fight the fire or die... But for investors, that would be a simple thing. Just don't invest in fossil fuels. For consumers, it might cost a little more to buy renewable power, but in the long run (which now is only a few years ahead) it beats a collapsing environment and economy. And most importantly, we can't allow others to make our decisions for us. They have proven themselves too selfish and irresponsible time and again.

Sorry about all the bad news. But there is good news. The good news is that as a civilization, we now can mature. The good news is now we can start concerning ourselves with real-world profits and long-term issues.

Things can be much better than they are now.

That's what the takers don't want you to know.
...And because they have elevated money to the point of idolatry, that's what they don't realize either.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

What Does America Have In Common With Nazi Germany?

I just recently learned the obvious; Adolph Hitler didn't just dream up the idea for the Nazi Concentration Camps. He had examples. And one of the best examples of the time was American Indian Reservations of the 19th century. From that revelation, I eventually realized that our civilization, by accepting the existence of our faults and adapting, can avoid a lot of misery and death.

Adolph Hitler did not grow up in a vacuum. I hear he was a big fan of stories of the American West. Even if he wasn't a fan, he had to have known about American Indians. He had to have heard some stories of the “conquest” of the American West. And he had to have known about the forced marches to “Reservations.” Maybe this is why so many traits of the Nazi Concentration Camps resembled American Indian Reservations.

The continued existence of American Indian Reservations is a time proven example that certain “undesirable” people can be rounded up and forced to leave desirable places. It is also true that if this “ethnic cleansing” is done with a callus hand, many of these “undesirable” people will starve, get sick, and die.

It isn't hard to imagine some despot studying American history and determining that the forced relocation of Native Americans to Reservations was a success. And it isn't that much harder to realize that some truly evil people might even view all the resultant starvation, illness and death as a desirable consequence.
...Hey, the goal was to get rid of them.

It's one thing to think that American Indian Reservations were no better than some Nazi Concentration Camps. It's another thing to realize that Hitler was likely inspired by American Indian Reservations to create the Nazi Concentration Camps.

The similarities are uncanny. But there are Americans who will not be willing to compare America to Nazi Germany. They don't want to believe that Americans could be that evil. No rational argument will convince them. They just won't believe it. Nonetheless, the forcing of Native Americans onto “Reservations” happened – a lot of innocent people died – and all of them were rendered politically impotent. Which proves it's not just Nazis we have to fear, it's the capacity of human nature towards monumental evil and indifference.

...And if Indian Reservations of the 1800's don't sound like Nazi Concentration Camp prototypes to you, well... you've never been forced onto a Reservation.

So, why hasn't this obvious revelation not been brought up more? Americans simply don't want to think about it. The potential for America (the good guys) to be evil on a mass scale simply doesn't fit into our self-image. We're supposed to be about freedom. But we don't want to think about the obvious fact that some powerful Americans feel they should have the “freedom” to oppress. (Examples: slavery, sweat shops, election rigging, union busting, bailouts, looting of pension funds, and today's student loans)

This habit we have of looking away from painful truth has made Americans easy to manipulate. Face it; if you don't want to face the truth, it's easy to distract you from the truth.

I've heard that the greatest crime most of us ever commit is the crime of indifference.
We just want our problems to go away. And if somebody else handles that, whatever they do, we usually don't ask questions. The super-greedy-rich are no different. But they have the power to really mess things up. And it looks like that's just what they did. To some extent, the indifference of the rich led to the “ethnic cleansing” of the American West.

Consider this:
There was no Welfare back before and during the Gilded age. The poor were just encouraged to go away... “Go West.” This emigration served as a pressure relief valve for Eastern U.S. society. If the desperate didn't like it there, they didn't have to riot or revolt. They could just leave. In fact, when all the other desperate souls were leaving too, there was no one left to organize a revolution with. This left the super-greedy-rich in control. And what did they do? They manipulated the laws so they could get even richer – now.

Herein lies the key to the fatal flaw of our civilization:
So many of us want it all – now.
...And very rarely can one get it “all, now” fairly, conscientiously, and sustainably. Which means some of us are willing to cheat, overcharge, cut corners, and ignore the consequences of our actions.

Back in the 1800's, the consequence of encouraging the poor to go away was that their desperation was just felt elsewhere.

The Native Americans who were in the way of this Westward migration of “legal” immigrants were literally in the way. Consequently, Native Americans were encouraged to go away too – at gunpoint.

So... My point is:
America had to suffer through the Native American “Holocaust” because the super-greedy-rich didn't want to help the poor.

Does any of this sound familiar?
(As I write this, certain Tea Party members of our American Congress have shut down our Government in an attempt to deny poor people health care.)

Have you ever wondered why Native Americans were not considered American citizens until 1932? Immigrants could become Americans. And anyone of European descent born in America was automatically considered American. But if your skin was brown, even if your ancestors had been here from time immemorial, you were essentially a foreigner. Sure, a whole lot of that was racism. But racism usually has more to do with struggles for resources than we'd like to admit.

Obviously, the people with guns wanted what the people without guns had. But more insidiously; the people in power wanted an empire – and they wanted other people to take it for them – preferably for free. So, they sent off the poor to do their dirty work.

By telling the poor to “go West,” the super-greedy-rich could get rid of their poverty issues locally and later lay claim to some of the mineral, water, and land wealth the poor whites took for them in the West. We still see the results of this today with massive mines on “public” land – owned by far-away corporations who hardly pay any taxes or royalties to anyone – including the U.S. Government.

What we have here is systematic exploitation that has existed since before the United States was even formed. And though the U.S. Bill of Rights was a huge improvement over monarchy, there still exists huge loopholes for the super-greedy to take advantage of others.

It didn't have to be that way. Native Americans could have been given a route to citizenship. The promise of freedom, democracy, justice, rule of law, and liberty is an inspiring expectation. Some Native Americans did try to become U.S. citizens – the Cherokee, for example. But they found no justice. The rule of law always ruled against them. And worse; the only thing they were free to do was leave – the Cherokee got forced, at gunpoint, off to Reservations (proto-concentration camps) in Oklahoma.

If 19th Century America had been a just democracy, they would have allowed Native Americans citizenship under certain conditions. But, 19th century America would then have had to respect some Native American rights. Of course, to the super-greedy, no Native American rights were better than some. You see; the super-greedy-rich don't do sharing. That's how they stay rich.

Once you really think about it, it shouldn't be any surprise at all that Hitler modeled the Nazi Concentration Camps after American Indian Reservations.

Do I think the super-greedy-rich actually planned the mass exodus of poverty and dissent and the ethnic cleansing and “Holocaust” of those who might otherwise be considered legal owners to wealth the super-greedy-rich coveted? Yes. Absolutely. They even bragged about it, like it was God's will. They called it “Manifest Destiny.” Now; think about Hitler's Aryan (master) race propaganda and his claim that it was their destiny to rule the World. If you don't see a cause and effect here, you must believe Hitler never studied history.

So, my next point is:
If we hadn't allowed the super-greedy-rich to get their way so often; we might have missed out on a history of misery, war, poverty, and oppression.

But that was all in the distant past, right? Well, not really. Just a couple of years ago, a multi-State coordinated government police action was used to force the Occupy movement off the streets.

In spite of the fact that many Americans don't want to accept it, this is how our government deals with dissent. And by the way, notice this footage was only aired on RT (Russia Today). I'll bet you never saw anything like this on Fox “News” or MSNBC. They're too busy going on and on and on about the next practically meaningless “election” of pre-picked candidates.

(Of course, no masses of Occupy people were killed or forced into concentration camps. But a number of people were unjustly spied upon, injured by police, and the U.S. has the highest incarceration per capita in the world.)

Which brings us to why the Occupy movement was there. Though I did not join the Occupy movement, I did agree with their premiss that wealth was unfairly being concentrated at the top at the expense of the poor and the middle class.

What we have been seeing for the past 30 years is the middle class being driven to poverty and the poor being economically forced into ghettos. Moreover, we see the poor without adequate health care.

Senator Alan Greyson exclaimed, during the debates on the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) while it was a Bill in Congress, that over 40,000 Americans die every year without adequate health care.

Now think about this; “undesirables” are being economically forced into ghettos and left to die. This is not quite Nazi Concentration Camps, but the similarities are disturbing.

Do we have fascists in our midst? The Tea Party claims to be “Libertarians.” But if they were really Libertarians, they would be threatening to shut down the Government to end things like the billions of dollars in subsidies to the super-rich oil companies. That's never going to happen, because the biggest financial backer to the Tea Party are the Koch brothers (oil men).

So... here in America; the super-greedy-rich have manipulated our Government to unfairly enrich the big monopolies at the expense of the citizens of the United States. The rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. The poor have been economically forced into ghettos. And thousands of the poor die every year because they don't have adequate health care.

Mussolini is credited with claiming that it shouldn't be called “Fascism,” and that it would be more accurate to call it “Corporatism.”

I see a pattern here. No one is being forced at gun point into Reservations or Concentration Camps, but scores of people are suffering and dying unnecessarily. And astonishingly, the Tea Party is willing to shut down our Government to see that this continues. I see that Fascism is alive and well in America, and these Fascists are willing to cripple our Government to get their way. They want Obama to fail. That means they want America to fail. That is just shy of treason. At the very least, where are the recall elections?

It probably sounds by now that I thoroughly distrust the rich. No. Like every other group of people, quite a diversity of opinion exists. I'm sure many rich Americans thought the forceful expulsion of Native Americans off their own land was a serious crime. I thank them for keeping things here in America from getting as bad as Nazi Germany.

However, I suspect most of the rich never really thought much about the consequences of these unfair monopolistic proto-fascist actions. If you choose to view greed as an addiction to money, it's easy to see that the super-greedy only pay attention to the money. Sure, they knew about the horrific treatment of Native Americans, but they didn't care. Sure, they know about the horrific health care issues of today. But they don't think that's their problem. They only care about their profits and their losses. It's like they're in a casino. 

Ironically enough, one can go to any Indian Casino these days and see essentially what I'm talking about. The addicted gamblers there only care about winning and losing. While they're playing the games, nothing else matters.

When we see this compulsively focused behavior in casinos, we recognize it as an issue – or even a mental illness. But we resist the comparison to the super-greedy-rich allowing others to suffer so that they can profit. We've been convinced that somehow the rich are better than us. We've been convinced that the rich are smarter than us. In fact, most of us would accept the richest 1% running the world – if they were benevolent. But that is so obviously not the case – and addiction to money is the key issue here. The super-greedy-rich are treating our economy like a Ponzi scheme casino. Collectively, they simply don't care about anything or anyone else.

The super-greedy have the power to pillage, to subvert democracies, and to eventually create a Hell on Earth. But they just don't seem to have the power to fix things. The reality is they only care about money.

We need to figure out a way to make them care about what really matters... before the consequences of their actions come back to hurt (or even kill) us all.

We need to figure out a better system.

What would that system look like?
  • It would still have the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.
  • It would include provisions of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • It would include provisions of the Declaration on Principles of International Law Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • It would have to have at least one public news outlet not controlled by the wealthy.
  • Its economy would be more focused on sustainability than growth.
  • Its most powerful people would be more focused on personal happiness than oppressing others.
  • And there would likely be an additional reward system that gives people status outside of the monetary system.

And if we don't fix things?
America will continue to become more and more of a banana republic.
There will still be the super-greedy-rich, but they will be hiding away behind walled and gated communities so that they won't be attacked or kidnapped. Their air will be polluted. Their food will be tainted. Their travel will be restricted to only other walled communities. They will see hate in the eyes of everyone who isn't rich. And their happiness will be far from maximized. But they'll still be maximizing their profits at the expense of others – and life on Earth. Of course, this will only be a temporary situation.

Sooner or later, the cost of taking things is higher than the value of what you want to take.

...This is what eventually happened to Adolph Hitler. 
         the cost of taking over the Soviet Union wasn't worth the loss of Nazi troops. 
...This is what eventually will happen to the Tea Party.
         the cost of shutting down the government isn't worth the loss of our economy. 
...This is what is now happening to our Environment
         the cost of looting the Earth isn't worth living in a wasted dump.