The Neoliberal Book Of The Dead – Chapter Four: Rage Against The Machine

polarization_2

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage.

— Bruce Cockburn

A Working Man.

During my adolescent years and continuing well into my teens I worked weekends and Summers for my father’s construction company at what was then the minimum wage of a whole dollar an hour. Dad had a foreman, a jack of all trades would could MacGiver a situation and seemingly work out a solution to any problem that came up. He was a mentor – both to me and my male siblings who also broke sweat in the Summer heat for Dad’s company.

He taught us how to wield a pick axe; lay clay tiles on rooftop; dig straight ditches with a spade; construct forms for concrete footings and walls; spackle and seal sheetrock; rig a jackhammer to breach a hole in a boiler room ventilation shaft; tie off a swing stage while suspended along the side of a building; and play a quick game of euchre at lunch. In other words, he taught us — the boss’s sons, all born with a silver spoon in our mouths — what it was like to actually work for a living.

He was a coal miner’s son, born in West Virginia, who worked in the mines around Beckley, before emigrating to Detroit to work at Ford’s River Rouge plant after WW II. He had a toothfull grin, a wry sense of humor, and a library of aphorisms, jokes and morality tales gleaned from his workingman’s life. One of his favorites was about “hillbillies”.

“Do you know how to tell if a man’s a hillbilly?”, he would ask. He’d wait a couple of beats to see if you were listening and then answer: “One leg is shorter than the other.”

His name was Rush Reed and he was both a mentor and a friend.

Groundhog Day Syndrome.

In light of the shocking 2016 U.S. election results, the spectre of Rush Reed came to mind as I tried to fathom how pundits, pollsters and prognosticators had got it so wrong and why working class people like Rush had opted for elevating an oligarch and outlier with absolutely no political credentials and even less public likeablity to the post of the most powerful individual in the “free world”.

Then it dawned on me — that was the very reason Mr. Trump wound up with more electoral votes than HRC. He was an outsider, and seemingly to his electorate, non-aligned with the banksters, lobbyists, career politicians, media hacks and their sychophants who populate the D.C. Beltway. Plus he is white and has a Stepford wife and, if you believed what he said, funds his campaign himself; no (overt) public or private funds required. Of course if you do believe that, I have some DNC emails hacked by Russia and personally signed by Putin that I can sell you.

Let’s look at Trump’s actual cabinet appointees, some of whom faced no Congressional review whatsoever. Take for instance known Islamophobe and white nationalist Steve Bannon, former Goldman-Sachs investment banker and most recently executive chair of the extreme Zionist blog Breitbart News named to the position of White House “chief strategist”, which outwardly appears to explicitly link the global alt-right movement with the White House. In a speech given at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) recently, Bannon disclosed what he termed as “three verticals” of Trump’s agenda that will be centered upon “national security and sovereignty,” “economic nationalism,” and “deconstruction of the administrative state”— meaning a rollback of taxes, regulations, and trade agreements for businesses that the Trump administration has claimed are hampering economic growth and individual freedoms and the privatization of the public safety net. Former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro even sounded this alarm for the GOP:

“Bannon has always wanted to burn down the GOP. That’s still his goal. He wants it replaced with an American National Front party in fact if not in name.”

Then there is Tea Party member Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) now head of the CIA. Among other things, Pompeo opposes closing the Guantánamo Bay military prison, is a proponent of increasing National Security Agency (NSA) domestic surveillance programs, is an outspoken critic of the Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, has called for the death penalty for whistleblower Edward Snowden, and most recently in a blistering screed at the D.C. think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies – whose Board is populated with members of the Council on Foreign Relations – all but demanded the arrest and imprisonment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for espionage – and eventually got his way.

Next we have Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), newly vetted and approved for the post of Attorney General. A recent op-ed the New York Times calls into question what Senator Sessions’ tenure at Justice would be like given his history of opposition to fixing the immigration system and reforming the criminal justice system especially with regard to drug offenses.

“Based on his record, we can form a fairly clear picture of what his Justice Department would look like:

For starters, forget about aggressive protection of civil rights, and of voting rights in particular. Under him, the department would most likely focus less on prosecutions of minority voter suppression and more on rooting out voter fraud, that hallowed conservative myth. Forget, also, any federal criminal-justice reform, which was on the cusp of passage in Congress before Mr. Trump’s “law and order” campaign. Mr. Sessions strongly opposed bipartisan legislation to scale back the outrageously harsh sentences that filled federal prisons with low-level drug offenders. Instead, he called for more mandatory-minimum sentences and harsher punishments for drug crimes.”

You can stop holding your breath and start holding your nose as the new Treasury Secretary is Steven Mnuchin a former George Soros hedge fund manager, long-time Goldman-Sachs banker and former CEO of OneWest Bank — an institution made infamous by its foreclosure practices of forcing “delinquent homeowners out of their homes by violating notice and waiting period statutes, illegally backdated key documents, and effectively gamed foreclosure auctions” according to a recent post by Intercept contributor David Dayen.

“OneWest Bank which Steven Mnuchin ran from 2009 to 2015, repeatedly broke California’s foreclosure laws during that period, according to a previously undisclosed 2013 memo from top prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office….The consistent violations of California foreclosure processes outlined in the memo would indicate that Mnuchin’s bank didn’t merely act callously, but did so with blatant disregard for the law.”

The upshot of the investigation was that former California Attorney General and newly-elected Senator Kamala Harris declined to prosecute the case against OneWest for “unknown reasons”. So it is a safe bet that Casino Capitalism will survive the campaign rhetoric of “The Outsider”.

Then there is the appointment of billionaire Jesus freak Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. DeVos, whose brother Eric Prince is an ex-Navy Seal and founder of the infamous mercenary group Blackwater and is now slated to be a military advisor to the new president and whose husband Dick is the heir to the Amway fortune, is notorious for her support of charter schools in her home state of Michigan. NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia observed that DeVos’ “efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers–which take away funding and local control from our public schools–to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense.” And in an article published in Esquire Magazine, columnist Charles Pierce comments:

”[DeVos] and her family and the Amway gozillions they control have been a bottomless reservoir for the dark money that is the engine behind a dozen different conservative fetish objects, from right-to-work laws, to gutting campaign finance regulations, to injecting splinter Protestantism into every part of the political commons. So she’s pretty much what you’d expect from any Republican administration. She understands the mission of the Department of Education and truly dislikes it.”

Needless to say her approval as Secretary of Education does not bode well for either the nation’s public school systems or the American Federation of Teachers.

Another Trump cabinet member is Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a renowned climate-denier and close ally to the fossil fuel industry, to head the EPA; the very agency that he has sued in order to stop it from protecting the environment while bragging that he’s a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”. In a recent article in The New York Times, columnists Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton commented:

Mr. Pruitt, 48, is a hero to conservative activists, one of a group of Republican attorneys general who formed an alliance with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda. Fossil fuel interests greeted Mr. Trump’s selection with elation.

As attorney general, Mr. Pruitt took the unusual step of jointly filing an antiregulatory lawsuit with industry players, such as Oklahoma Gas and Electric, the coal-burning electric utility, and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, a nonprofit group backed by major oil and gas executives.

Behind the scenes, he was taking campaign contributions from many of the industry players on his team, or helping deliver even larger sums of money to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which he became the chairman of.

Small wonder that environmental groups are up in arms over Pruitt’s ascendancy to head an agency he has so bitterly opposed in the past.

 

For Secretary of State we have Mr. Big Oil himself – Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon-Mobil Corp. which at face value when coupled with the appointment of Scott Pruitt, is not likely to bode well for proponents of alternative energy sources, carbon emissions reduction, the curtailing of methane leaks from fracking and tar sands mining, or generally weaning the world from its dependence upon fossil fuels.

Tillerson apparently is a proponent of imposing a carbon tax on entities that pollute, the theory being that by putting a monetary price on the real costs imposed on the economy by the consumption of fossil fuels, it will enable our communities and our planet to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and the global warming they cause. But questions remain: namely how to enforce such a tax (especially when the word “tax” has become such an anathema); who will be subject to it; and will the proceeds from such a program be used to promote alternative green energy sources? Does this mean that Exxon-Mobil will start erecting solar arrays in the desert, or is this just a smoke-screen to give Big Energy time to develop the next-generation energy source that it can monopolize — hydrogen?

Neither does it appear likely that this new Trump administration will be championing the move from the internal combustion engine to electric-powered vehicles which are essential not only for the development of autonomous cars, taxis, buses, and trucks but also for combating climate change, reducing casualties from traffic accidents, and the freeing the world from the hegemony of OPEC and domestically from the oil and gas industry which enjoys a taxpayer largesse of $10 billion annually. As further evidence of this, in a recent episode of the National Geographic Channel’s Years Of Living Dangerously, the sales of the Nissan Leaf electric car at an Atlanta car dealership have plummeted since the Georgia State Legislature eliminated a state-sponsored subsidy for potential buyers of electric vehicles last year. But apparently $10 billion in subsidies to the oil and gas industry are more prudent than giving car buyers an incentive to Go Green. Shades of GM’s decision to take its EV-1 off the market in the late 1990’s and destroy all of the vehicles?  Plus in a recent report by San Francisco Chronicle columnists Matier & Ross, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has “put the brakes on $647 million for Caltrain to go electric” – effectively killing the badly needed upgrade of California’s mass transit infrastructure and jeopardizing the LA-SF Bullet Train Project.

And…..we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the appointment of retired Marine Gen. James (Mad Dog) Mattis as Secretary of Defense, who apparently believes the only good enemy is a dead enemy.   After Trump’s brief flirtation with General Michael Flynn as his National Security Advisor — that is until Flynn was outed by the Deep State for allegedly bribing agents of the Russian government in a plot to convert the White House into a B&B dachau for Putin  — based upon no credible evidence whatsoever, some changes had to be made.  Okay, hyperbole aside, there were some actual phone conversations that the CIA claimed it tapped, but the act of revealing them to the public was a more serious breach of National Security than the supposed “treasonous behavior” ascribed to Flynn – not to mention the whole Vault 7 trove of CIA documents from Wikileaks that exposed covert CIA programs for performing electronic surveillance and cyber warfare by hacking mobile platforms like iPhones and Android devices.

So what we have instead is by-the-book Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster who, according to Fox News, is “a warrior-scholar deemed an expert in counter insurgency” as chair of the National Security Council. McMasters is a proponent of a strong military and is likely to advocate for increasing the size of its budget, modernizing its weaponry, and increasing the number of bases worldwide.  The military division of the Military-Industrial Complex is now in charge and war is definitely on the agenda.

As Senator Sherrod Brown quipped recently, “This isn’t draining the swamp. It’s stocking it with alligators”.

The common thread here is that Trump has surrounded himself with a covey of neocon advisors and cabinet members, whom busily normalize the term anti-semitism to encompass positions deemed to be anti-Zionist exclusively (but “by God” not those applicable to Muslims); whom are unified in their unabashed support of Israel and the extremely right-wing Zionist policies of its Likud party; and whom seem determined to attack the obvious targets in the area – Iran and Russia. A new war in the Middle East benefits only one player there – Israel – whom has just recently had its defense arsenal bolstered by the addition of stealth bombers plus the promise of a $38 billion wet kiss from “Uncle Sam”. The over-riding message seems to be that The Forever War is here to stay. With former generals having taken control of key elements in the Trump regime, the over-riding questions is: will the Commander-in-Chief really be in charge? Or more to the point, as we will discuss in the next chapter in this series, has any Commander-in-Chief ever been in charge?

In a recent column on Truthdig, journalist Chris Hedges equates the Trump cabinet to greedy agents of death.

“The Trump appointees—Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, Steve Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Alex Acosta and others—do not advocate innovation or reform. They are Pavlovian dogs that salivate before piles of money. They are hard-wired to steal from the poor and loot federal budgets. Their single-minded obsession with personal enrichment drives them to dismantle any institution or abolish any law or regulation that gets in the way of their greed….Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch. Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future. Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. State repression is indiscriminate and brutal. And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House.”

Remember, this is a man who gets his tweets and extremist talking points by plagiarizing posts from the pages of Breitbart News and from  Alex Jones of InfoWars.

tlos_glassesSo why did media savvy pollsters like Nate Silver of 538.com get it so wrong? Was it because of voter fraud or voter suppression or fraction magic or just plain bad assumtions? Take your pick but I lean toward the latter. Pollsters mis-read the extent and nature of voter anger — and by that we mean “white” voter. Which for me brings in the whole validity of “polls” in general.

Perhaps media polls should be outlawed along with broadcasting the results before all voting polls are closed nationwide. In effect, these pollsters and the media that broadcasts their predictions before all of the results are in – perhaps by design – are influencing votes yet to be cast.

It’s as if we’re caught in an episode of the J.J. Abrams-produced TV series Westworld, endlessly repeating the same blunders that produce the same outcomes – the Groundhog Day Syndrome.

Vox Populi

Now that election is history and the Republicans have taken control of both houses and the presidency, what does this portend for supporters of the mainstream political duopoly and more importantly for their children, not to mention for progressives and anarchists besides maybe occupying the Trump Tower, secession from the Union, or mass emigration to Canada?
Let’s first consider the nearly 230 year-old Electoral College — you know a bunch of political insiders (there’s that “I” word again), who are appointed/nominated as “electors” either by state legislatures, the political parties (Republicans and Democrats only), by voters at large during party primaries, or at party conventions – 538 of them apportioned by state according to the number of representatives each has in Congress – who actually “elect” the president and vice-president. That means, as in the case of this year and back in both 2000 and 1960 (disputed), that a future winner of the popular vote may not wind up being elected.

It was estimated in 2011, in a two-candidate race, with equal voter turnout in every Congressional district and no faithless electors, a candidate could win the Electoral College while winning only about 22% of the nationwide popular vote.

— Wiki.

Although we’re now spread throughout the country, the bulk of our family hails from the MidWest; states like Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, and North Dakota. So on the subject of getting rid of the Electoral College there is great disagreement among our family elders. Those that live in the more sparsely-populated rural states feel that they are under-represented to begin with and reactions to such a proposal varied from outright rejection (“I do not want urban America choosing my representation in government. FYI – rural America is not chuck full of uneducated people”) to charges of being un-patriotic (“Change how this country works because you don’t like the outcome??? Wow very American!!!”).

electoral-college-mathBut the fact is that Democracy is based on majority rule — everywhere but here in the U.S. it seems. The Electoral college was set up by ruling elites whom didn’t want farmers, laborers and slaves to sway the outcome of elections and affect the status quo. Sound familiar?

To allege that rural people are un-educated is flat out wrong. There are differences in lifestyles and degrees of knowledge based upon the life experiences we have. That’s why one important reason we have language is so we can talk about those differences and experiences and gain a better understanding of where we need to go to solve our communal problems – and not attempt to impose change by force or subterfuge.

Coastal “elite” cities not only have a greater population, they are also way more culturally diverse than rural areas, are beset with far greater economic, environmental and infrastructural issues such as energy, transportation, homelessness (LA County currently has close to 60 thousand homeless), affordable housing, adequate healthcare, air quality – and coastal communities will take the brunt of sea level rise due to climate change plus be challenged with finding solutions to all of these issues and how to pay for it all. As a result coastal communities need informed representatives in Congress that understand these problems – as well as those being experienced by rural communities.

One thing that is likely to happen by the end of this century will be a mass migration of the poorer classes from coastal cities back to the heartland because of climate change plus the heartland itself will become even more dependent upon water from bi-coastal desalination plants – plants that must be built now. So far, however no one is even talking about that possibility.

We are all on this rocket ship being pulled through the Milky Way at 72,000 mph by Homo Sol, so we better get our act together and step on neoliberal capitalism’s dick or else the following scenarios will likely be the script for our Future.

Debt Deflation.

Earlier in this series we posted a blog on the erosion of the progressive programs enacted under both The New Deal and The Great Society. Well…now it’s about to get worse. A lot worse. Here’s why.

The current and next generations will be bound by debt and effectively become wage slaves – if they are fortunate enough to even have a job – in the absence programs for free education coupled with some form of debt reduction or an UBI – universal basic income, neither of which is likely to see the light of day under a conservative neoliberal regime driven by an obsession to shrink governmental oversight.

In all likelihood, students will not see the debt from their loans forgiven or even have the interest rate on those loans reduced. Debtor students currently cannot even declare bankruptcy, unlike President-elect Trump whom has done so on several occasions. Students will be saddled with the debt from their loans for life and a good portion of any income they earn will be earmarked to pay down that debt plus interest, owing to the very rentiers (insiders) that voters are so enraged about.

This is called debt deflation because it deflates the output of the real economy by the amount of the debt plus the interest paid. So in this case the potential deflation of the real economy due to student debt is the amount of the outstanding debt plus interest over time. How about a ballpark figure to put this into perspective? If the current outstanding student debt is $1 trillion, and all of this debt will be paid off in 25 years at a nominal interest rate of say 6%, then the total loss to the real economy over those 25 years will be almost double the original loans — $2 trillion just from these student loans. How then can the nearly $1 trillion in unearned income (interest) from these student loans be used to create jobs and/or stimulate the real economy? The answer: it can’t. Why?

You can draw an analogy from similar forms of consumer debt; car loans, home loans, mortgages, credit cards, etc. The debt service on all of these types of loans deflate the output of the real economy because the money spent on retiring the debt is not spent instead on stimulating production and consumption. The income stream from these loans goes to the rentier class, the plutocracy that holds the paper on these notes, who then use this income stream to buy more assets and/or debt generated by these assets, thereby bidding up the asset price causing hyper-inflated market prices, and thus ultimately making these assets less affordable for everyone else. Since fewer and fewer buyers can afford these hyper-inflated assets, the rentier class just holds on to them, indefinitely. For instance, in the booming San Francisco Real Estate market, Title to 30% of single family dwellings are held by absentee owners. And in some condo developments, the ratio is even double.

A better answer for our indebted students is to forgive the interest on that debt and thereby induce in this case a $1 trillion boost to the real economy that can be used to buy consumer goods; invest in homes, cars or the stock market; and provide better lives for those students and their kids. Invest in our children, don’t enslave them.

Zombie Work.

An Oxford University study estimated the potential for automation of about half of all existing jobs by 2033; jobs to be replaced by AIs and/or automated via self-driving vehicles.

So the question to ask the new administration in D.C. that vows to “Make America Great, Again” is: where will all of these promised jobs come from? Open more Walmarts? Retail sales in many markets are in a free fall. A Green/sustainable economy? Maybe. But there are states, most notably Florida (the Sunshine State) and Nevada, where solar energy is effectively prohibited – currently. That will have to change. More manufacturing jobs? They’re gone. They’re not coming back. Just ask Detroit or Camden, New Jersey or Gary, Indiana.

In a recent essay posted on Aeon entitled Fuck Work, Rutgers University history professor James Livingston, exposes the transmogrification of the neoliberal meme “full employment” into what has now become essentially Zombie Work.

“These days, everybody from Left to Right – from the economist Dean Baker to the social scientist Arthur C Brooks, from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump – addresses this breakdown of the labour market by advocating ‘full employment’, as if having a job is self-evidently a good thing, no matter how dangerous, demanding or demeaning it is. But ‘full employment’ is not the way to restore our faith in hard work, or in playing by the rules, or in whatever else sounds good. The official unemployment rate in the United States is already below 6 per cent, which is pretty close to what economists used to call ‘full employment’, but income inequality hasn’t changed a bit. Shitty jobs for everyone won’t solve any social problems we now face.

“Already a fourth of the adults actually employed in the US are paid wages lower than would lift them above the official poverty line – and so a fifth of American children live in poverty. Almost half of employed adults in this country are eligible for food stamps (most of those who are eligible don’t apply). The market in labour has broken down, along with most others.

“Those jobs that disappeared in the Great Recession just aren’t coming back, regardless of what the unemployment rate tells you – the net gain in jobs since 2000 still stands at zero – and if they do return from the dead, they’ll be zombies, those contingent, part-time or minimum-wage jobs where the bosses shuffle your shift from week to week: welcome to Wal-Mart, where food stamps are a benefit.”

Globally, there is increasing evidence that Capital is replacing Labor as the main source of productivity. Robots will perform these jobs better, won’t organize into labor unions, won’t need health care or pensions or even wages, and will never make mistakes. Evidently there will be a future for personal trainers, the clergy, and actors though. Maybe a future president will be a hyperactive reality show preacher. Oh wait, we just elected one.

There is one major downside to automation: robots do not consume and without consumption there is no return on Capital, so how will those neoliberal fantasies of continuous economic growth be realized?  The answer is — they won’t.  Hence  the need for an UBIhelicopter money for the masses. We’ll discuss this in more detail in a later chapter of this series.

Dead Air.

Climate change — what used to be termed global warming — is the single most important challenge facing the world because its effects are being manifested right now. Fourteen of the fifteen hottest years ever recorded have been in the 21st Century – so far. And president Trump is a climate denier along with his running mate and the guy chosen to take over the EPA, Myron Ebell, chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition, financed and operated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute which Ebell also heads. The Cooler Heads Coalition describes itself as being “focused on dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis” and counts among its member organizations the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch Brothers’ Americans For Prosperity, Americans For Tax Reform, Tea Party advocates The Heartland Institute, Fox News commentator Steven Milloy’s JunkScience.com, and the National Center For Public Policy Research.

CO2 levels which have a cumulative effect on the atmosphere (they don’t disperse for decades), have recently exceeded 400 ppm for the first time since records started being kept. And the CO2 levels that are warming the atmosphere now are due to emissions from 20-25 years ago. So the planet still has another quarter-century’s (and counting) accumlation of greenhouse gases – just from CO2 – yet to process.

And then there is methane in its various forms – both aerial gas and in frozen deposits called clathrate – trapped under the polar ice caps and in the permafrost. Methane is up to 100 times denser as a greenhouse gas than CO2. And there are gigatons of it in clathrate deposits as yet still frozen beneath land and sea ice — that is until the ice melts. The “good” news is that methane in gaseous form does not remain in the atmosphere as long as CO2. The bad news is that there is a shitload of it.

Then there is fracking which, besides causing earthquakes in red states (and anywhere else where fracking is used to extract methane) that have supported our next Republican administration, wastes hundreds of thousands of gallons of clean water per well to flush toxic chemicals into the aquifer, and in the process creates up to a 7% methane loss because of leaky wells. Methane. The Earth is gradually turning into Venus. Just ask Josh Fox.

cowspiracy_posterSpeaking of methane, no one is talking about the gorilla in the room…actually two beasts interrelated by use and abuse. The first is the presence and exploitation of animals and crops as a food source by the second beast, humans. Methane emissions from animals cultivated as a food source is ranked as the 5th greatest source (at 9%) of greenhouse emissions next to transportation, industry, and energy according to a 2014 report by the EPA. However a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists notes that the scientific consensus is that livestock alone contribute 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And in the 2014 film Cowspiracy by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the claim is made that greenhouse gases from the farming and marketing of animals for food produces 51% of the greenhouse gases in the environment.

But nobody, and I mean nobody is talking about the second beast in the room, homo sapiens. How much greenhouse gas in the form of methane does 7.4 billion humans produce every year just by taking a daily dump in a hole? And by 2050 it is projected there will be 10 billion of us living on this planet. Even though there is evidence that the birth rate is declining everywhere but in Africa and some predictions hold out the possibility of global population leveling out to 11 billion by 2100, there is a conspicuous silence over the MSM on population control. Just Dead Air.

Why are we going on about this? Because our president  is a climate change denier and because it is your kids who will have to live with the impact of his administration’s insistence on the continued exploitation of fossil fuels. Climate change is having a major impact not only with the warming of the oceans, but also in areas that have been historically dedicated for farming. In the U.S. alone, mega-droughts have hit not only California and its agricultural industry that provides the country with nearly 50% of its food, but also in Texas and the Southeast. Whole forests in Colorado and orange groves in Florida are dying. In the Sahel region of central Africa daily temperatures are routinely over 100º F, baking the land and making it useless for growing crops. Scottsdale, AZ recently reported (June 2017) temperatures of 128º F and many flights were cancelled in Las Vegas because temperatures exceeded those stipulated for the safe operation of commercial aircraft.  Climate change is a major reason for the ongoing diaspora of immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and from Latin America as desperate masses attempt to find a better life. Recent predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on food scarcity claim that within 20 years the decline in crop yields will exceed the technological capacity for producing new drought resistant crops. 20 years until the world starts to starve and the real diaspora begins.

The Climate Clock is striking Midnight but Trumplanders, evidently as petulant as their patron, have effectively amputated the future, not only that of their own children but those of the entire planet as well, literally throwing the baby out with the bath and mortgaging an entire generation’s prospects for one more trip aroung the block in the humvee, all because they are pissed-off at “insiders” and immigrant “outsiders”, so pissed that they elected an oligarch – an inside-outlier.

Xenophobianism

This election has been what Mondoweiss columnist Bill Fletcher, Jr. calls “a revolt against the future“; what he terms as being a referendum against globalization and demographics by a united front of misogynist whites.

Rampant xenophobia is a global phenomenon, as seen in the Brexit vote, in Poland, Greece, Hungary, Sweden and in France to name a few European countries, now being impacted by the flow of refugees emanating from Syria, Libya and other Middle Eastern countries as a result U.S. Empire’s penchant for regime change and perpetual war in the region. And then there is the “war on drugs” — really just more regime change foreign policy — in this instance aimed at our Central and South American neighbors where coups d’etat and assassinations replaced democratically-elected governments with neoliberal corporate state lackeys as in Honduras and have exacerbated the flow of immigrants toward the U.S.

Will president Trump makes good on his campaign promises to deport 40 million “illegal” immigrants — if even that number is accurate? Is this his idea for creating jobs — ramp up positions for “La Migra”? If 40 million or 10 million or even 2 million immigrants are deported, who decides who is an “illegal”? How much would this cost and how would Trump plan to pay for it? More austerity? More military spending?

Why not just assimilate them all? If you were to go to a restaurant especially in LA or San Francisco or Phoenix or New York, most of the line cooks are likely to be Hispanic. Do you think a white kid is going to apply to wash dishes, or sweep floors, or take care of your babies, or wash your clothes? If Trump gets his way, maybe whites will have to. Perhaps that is his very plan for creating more jobs.

Then there is the specter of Great White Wall to be erected with phantom money as part of a maniacal plan designed to keep teeming hoards of mythological sub-humans from polluting our pristine, exceptional gene pool — an alternative reality inspired by the White Walkers right out of George R.R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones.

Wealth Disparity.

The wealth gap between the one-tenth of 1 % and the rest of the economic strata was addressed during this interminable election cycle solely with slogans like “Stronger Together” and “Make America Great Again” as if just saying so would somehow create more jobs from thin air, even while both candidates were proposing neoliberal policies for continuing proposals to cut taxes on businesses and the 1%, which would mean that the rentier class will continue to extract their rents from the real economy where real jobs are created and real economic growth happens.

In a recent interview on Truth-Out, linguist, author, and intellectual Noam Chomsky spoke with C.J. Polychroniou on the potential threat a Trump administration poses to the U.S. and the world.

“Trump… gives voice to people with legitimate grievances — people who have lost not just jobs, but also a sense of personal self-worth — and who rail against the government that they perceive as having undermined their lives (not without reason). One of the great achievements of this doctrinal system has been to divert anger from the corporate sector to the government that implements the programs that the corporate sector designs, such as the highly protectionist corporate/investor rights agreements that are uniformly mis-described as “free trade agreements” in the media and commentary. With all its flaws, the government is, to some extent, under popular influence and control, unlike the corporate sector. It is highly advantageous for the business world to foster hatred for pointy-headed government bureaucrats and to drive out of people’s minds the subversive idea that the government might become an instrument of popular will, a government of, by and for the people.”

There is no mention of even increasing the minimum wage, except from the Sanders campaign. Instead we have heard more shouts from neoliberals like the Peter G. Peterson camp for privatizing and/or cutting social security benefits which, according to a study done by AARP, return $2 for every $1 spent to the real economy. Food stamps return $1.80 for every $1 spent. Tax cuts for the plutocracy, however return only 39¢ — the real economy loses 61¢ on every tax dollar saved by the rich.

Here’s another aphorism paraphrased from Rush Reed’s vocabulary:

Fuck the plutocracy and fuck the horse they rode in on.

Gender Parity.

The LGBTQ movement has made great strides since the days when then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and others first challenged the status quo on gay marriage. It seems almost a given now that the right to marry among members of the same sex is destined to become a reality nationwide, although there are some holdouts with regard to transgender access to public restrooms.

But what is going on with reproductive rights? Women are still being demonized by the possibility of a crackdown on Planned Parethood and the freedom to seek an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy.  Vice President Mike Pence has been a proponent of de-funding Planned Parenthood since 2007 and President Trump has publicly stated that Roe v. Wade would be overturned “automatically.”

It boggles my feeble mind why any woman would vote for these guys — really.

Deathcare.

The Affordable Care Act is rightfully under attack. If you doubt the veracity of this statement, I urge you to actually read this summary of the original bill. Plus the rates for calendar year 2017 in many markets will go up by double digits percentage-wise year over year. A lot of people will no longer be able to afford this type of market-driven healthcare and, there are areas where insurance providers have refused to even service any more. They cannot make enough money to insure a profit — which causes me to speculate about whether “insuring” profits is the sole reason for calling themselves insurers.

Therefore I agree that this bi-partisan “hand-job” for the insurance industry needs to be gutted in favor of a single-payer system. The Trumplanders first attempt to kill the ACA has been branded by MSM mavens as Trumpcare, which on its face just shifts the burden to pay for healthcare on to the classes than need it the most. Trumpcare will make it much more expensive for the poor and working classes to buy coverage while benefitting the affluent who would no longer be taxed in order to help pay the benefits for the indigent. In an article by columnist David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times questions the financial hocus-pocus behind Trumpcare:

“Besides eliminating the tax on the well-to-do, the GOP plan also removes the requirement that everyone buy some sort of health insurance. With those two pieces deleted from the equation, adequate government subsidies for those who cannot afford healthcare costs would be impossible to maintain while premiums themselves would likely skyrocket for many people because insurance companies would have many fewer healthy people in their client pools.
“A key part of Ryan’s scheme is to transform Medicaid into a program of block payments to the states. No one doubts that those payments would be significantly lower than what states get under the ACA, thus leaving states with the terrible choice of choosing to raise taxes to bridge the gap or abandoning the poorer people in their states to fend for themselves.

© SF Chronicle

A key element in the GOP’s proposed version of Trumpcare (3.0) is to replace cash subsidies based upon income and age currently offered under the ACA to help people with the costs of buying health insurance, with a system of “tax credits” capped at from $2,000 to $4,000 annually depending upon age, ostensibly making a portion of one’s health insurance premiums tax deductible. A tax credit is not the same as subsidy, especially if the subsidy is not taxable to begin with. Why? Because the subsidy is applied directly against the monthly or annual premium, reducing both the cost of the coverage for the insuree and the income derived by the insurer from the subsidized premiums (unless of course the insurer can file a claim to retrieve the subsidies); while a tax credit reduces the taxable income of the insuree (and hence theoretically the insuree’s tax liability by a few hundred dollars — provided the insuree elects to itemize his/her tax deductions). It does not however reduce the cost of the insurance for the insuree, who still has to pay the annual un-subsidized premium, plus the insurer will still receive the gross amount in premiums as income and ensure that their stockholders get their dividends.

So whom does this plan really benefit?  As pointed out in a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the AHCA rebrand of the ACA would likely cost seniors up to five times as much as middle-aged insurees for the same coverages and by 2025 force almost 23 million people off of public healthcare plans as people become less able to pay and providers leave the marketplace because healthcare becomes less and less profitable.

The answer to the above question is that Trumpcare 3.0 benefits the rich, providing as the L.A. Times says “America’s wealthiest taxpayers with an immediate tax cut totaling $346 billion over 10 years (cumulative tax cuts are estimated to amount to $2 trillion over the same period – creating a massive black hole in Federal revenues – more below). Every cent of that would go to taxpayers earning more than $200,000 a year ($250,000 for couples)”. But the real problem with the current iteration of the AHCA is that is guts federal subsidies for state-run Medicaid programs; an estimated $839 billion over the next ten years, which if voted into law will effectively morph any current and future versions of Trumpcare proffered by the Rentier Class into Deathcare.

The AHCA is yet another instance of neoliberal capitalism’s war on democracy – a class war aimed at subjugating and enslaving the precariat as permanent debt peons.  We need to search no further for proof of this beyond the fact that congressional sycophants of the corporate state who voted for this misanthropic plan exempted themselves from its most heinous provisions.  Yeah, they still get full healthcare coverage and a retirement package — for life.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about exactly what a Single-Payer system is and what kind of healthcare it provides. First, “single-payer” means just that. You pay one entity for your healthcare and that entity is the government — Medicare in this case. And Medicare covers all of your medical costs. Everything. You pay the government via increased income/payroll taxes along with everyone else. Everyone. Even the Rentier Class and corporations (both profit and not-for-profit). You say, what? Increase my taxes? Never!

Well we ask: “How much in insurance fees do you pay every year for the so-called Affordable Care Act?” The latest statistics show that a family of four will pay close to $18,000 per year, just in insurance premiums — not counting either, co-pays for office visits, prescriptions, exams, deductibles, or the percentage of in system charges not covered by the plan. And what if a daughter needs care that is deemed by the insurer to be “out of network”? Single-payer Medicare pays for all of the costs. Watch this interview with Dr. Margaret Flowers, a long time advocate for the Single-Payer system from a recent broadcast on RT’s On Contact with Chris Hedges for some moere background.

The question everyone should be asking is: how much will the taxes go up for that family of four each year in order to pay for its Single-Payer plan? The answer is – a fraction of that $18,000, and it will be the same answer for everybody in a Single-Payer healthcare system, even corporations. Why? Because everybody pays a little more in taxes. Taxes are not a bad thing, contrary to what the neoliberals would have you believe. A progressive tax system is the most effective and efficient way of re-distributing wealth in an economic system badly in need of restructuring.

The website Health Over Profit has posted a plan for financing a medicare-for-all healthcare system through a combination of a small Robin Hood transaction tax on Wall Street, tax surcharges on high and unearned incomes, and a combination of increasing payroll taxes for high earners and lowering it for low wage earners.  The result would save nearly $200 billion annually in net healthcare costs.  Paul Ryan’s version of Trumpcare (blessed with the moniker the “American” Health Care Act) is a disaster.  It is the direct opposite of what a Robin Hood tax would do; rob from the poor and elderly and give to the rich.  Just remember taxing the public was the method that the Rentier Class came up with in order to accumulate its wealth to begin with.

Trumponomics 101.

The first iteration of the proposed 2018 Federal budget has been published under the grandiose sobriquet of “A New Foundation For American Greatness” (I’m not kidding), as if, as reported by the N.Y. Times, gutting the EPA budget by 31%; eliminating funding for the Endowment For The Arts, The CPB, the National Endowment For Humanities and other agencies; and slashing the funding for the departments of Agriculture, Labor, Justice, HHS, Commerce, Education, Transportation, HUD, and Interior by double-digit percentages while granting the Rentier Class a $2 trillion tax moratorium over the next 10 years will Make America Great Again. You have to ask the question: “Great for whom?”  But the real “fake” logic behind this is the brain dead assertion that by axing the budget by billions plus eliminating $2 trillion in future tax revenues from the real economy will somehow not only balance the budget but also stimulate enough economic growth to “pay for it all”.  Here’s a case in point.

Take the proposal to cut taxes for the Rentier Class by reducing tax rates and eliminating some (like the Estate Tax) altogether.  The assumption is that those that those who have the money will now have more of it to spend so they will, thereby generating a massive increase in consumer buying that will flow into the market, stimulating investment and business expansion, thereby expanding employment and ultimately tax revenues.  Leaving aside (for now) the obvious conundrum of automation and the history of such “trickle-down” plans, let us examine what it would take to replenish that $2 trillion shortfall in Federal and State tax revenues over the next 10 years.

Assuming an average tax rate of 25% – the economy would have to generate an additional $8 trillion over the same period.  And if the tax rate fell to 15%, the additional – repeat additional – revenue generated by the economy would have to exceed $13.333 trillion over the same 10 year period. That would amount to  nearly a 75% increase in revenues (given that the entire current GDP of the US is a little North of $18 trillion annually) — or 7.5% per year — which is way beyond the proposed 2018 budget growth assumption of 3% per annum which in itself is being widely criticized as being unrealistic.  Given the worldwide austerity policies being forced on economies, where is all this additional “growth” going to come from? Who is going to be able to spend an additional $13.333 trillion in disposable income?

My guess is that it will mean that the Rentier Class is going to have to seriously open their wallets.

Infrastructure.

Well this is a no-brainer except for those without one to begin with. Do Trumplanders really want to make America great again and provide jobs in doing so? During his victory speech the night of the election, Trump promised among other things to “fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals…..rebuild our infrastructure … and put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.” But as Ellen Brown puts it: “the Devil is in the details”. In a recent post on her blog Web of Debt, Ms. Brown pulls the curtain back on Trump’s financial wizardry:

The roadblock is in where to find the money. Raising taxes and going further into debt are both evidently off the table. The Trump solution is touted as avoiding those options, but according to his economic advisors, it does this by privatizing public goods, imposing high user fees on the citizenry for assets that should have been public utilities.

Ellen Brown’s solution is to use a public banking system to fund these infrastructure programs taking advantage of historically low interest rates — or even better — to do what Abe Lincoln did and have the Fed print “helicopter money”;  not with Ben Bernanke’s QE version that was used to make the private banking system whole at the expense of the taxpayers, but a version that allows those dollars to be poured back into the real economy to create jobs, build businesses, and bring in more tax revenues.

The invariable objection to this solution is that it would cause runaway price inflation; but that monetarist theory is flawed, for several reasons. First, there is the multiplier effect: one dollar invested in infrastructure increases gross domestic product by at least two dollars.

According to the New York Fed, in 2012 total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 24.3%. Thus one new dollar of GDP results in about 24 cents in increased tax revenue; and $2 in GDP increases tax revenue by about fifty cents. One dollar {in spending] pulls fifty cents or more back in the form of taxes. The remainder can be recovered from the income stream from those infrastructure projects that generate user fees: trains, buses, airports, bridges, toll roads, hospitals, and the like.

But there’s yet another way to help pay for infrastructure investments. But in order to do so, Trumplanders have to give up something. They’ll have to visit austerity on the military – and easily cut half of its overt and convert budgets. Yeah. I said half. More posts on the latter later in this series.

Unfortunately the swamp creature neoliberals dictating economic policy from the White House have a plan for “de-forming” our infrastructure. Privatization. Here’s how that goes.

We’re told that autonomous vehicles are the future of urban transportation. AIs will take over the driving and navigation and never make a mistake; never get into an accident; never get a speeding or parking ticket; never run a red light; and always get you to the church on time. So we won’t need traffic cops or courts or staffing of any kind because AIs can do those jobs as well. These autonomous vehicles will be part of corporate-owned fleets of cars, trucks and buses; leased to municipalities and individuals for single-purpose or long term use. They will be powered by fuel cells sold by facilities owned and operated by Big Energy – not by electric cars that can be re-charged at home.

The Waymo

These vehicles will run on a network of toll roads, having been funded by borrowing money at market rates from the private bankers of the Rentier Class (not Public Banks), the loans secured by government-backed tax-free bond issues – meaning the public is on the hook for making good on the debt service. The toll roads will be built by so-called private/public partnerships in which the assets are owned and operated by private corporations who collect the tolls and pay a small license fee back to the local government while pocketing the difference with minimum tax exposure, much like “public” utilities do nowadays. And like in Indiana, laws will be passed making it illegal to build public highways and “freeways”.  It will be the toll road or no road.  Everybody will get a smart transit card to be used to pay for travel and will be charged by the mile for their trips. All public transportation will be privatized. Check out this post by Bruce A. Dixon, blogger for the Black Agenda Report if you don’t believe the graffiti on the Wall.

The competition over who gets to dominate this “new” market is well underway,  as both Google and Tesla are suing startups founded by former employees over who owns the intellectual property rights and patents. Under winner-take-all neoliberal capitalism, it is not about “competition” at all.  It is all about monopolizing the market place.

Austerity and Privatization.

Not even Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren and certainly not HRC dared to bring this up, but these two features of the neoliberal hegemony are pillars of the single most disruptive economic system on the planet that is looting national treasuries and transferring both the assets and their income streams from the public to the rentier class and it has been going on since the 1970’s.

It happened in Chile and the Southern Cone of South America thanks to Nixon and Kissenger. It happened in Great Britain under Thatcher, Russia under Yeltsin in the 1990’s, in Iraq under Rumsfeld and Bremer, and it is happening now in Brazil, Venezuela, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and it will happen in Cuba. The only place that it has failed to some degree currently is Iceland.

So far Trump has said he wants to drain the swamp in D.C. Does that mean the end of Social Security and Medicare for future generations? Does it mean more privatization of the transportation, educational and/or prison systems that produce automatons and slaves for the corporate state?  Time for another story.

Class Warfare: Another Morality Tale.

This is how austerity works hand-in-hand with privatization. Just so you understand, it is all about controlling assets and the potential income stream from them as in our student loan scenario above.

Neoliberals have gained the upper hand in controlling the global economies through centralized banking systems. Think BIS (Bank For International Settlements), ECB (European Central Bank), the World Bank, and the Federal Reserve coordinated by multinational forums like the Council on Foreign Relations.

BIS, Basel Switzerland

BIS, Basel Switzerland

Say a country needs money to fund expansion — infrastructure, housing, health education and social programs, manufacturing and trade incentives, exploiting natural resources, etc. This country through its national bank goes to the World Bank for loan guarantee. In order to get this loan, the borrowing country must put up some form of secured collateral – usually in the form of public assets like publicly-owned buildings, transportation hubs and rolling stock, ships and ports, bridges and highways, public housing projects, schools, hospitals — any asset that has a value based upon a projected income stream from owning the asset itself.

The World Bank then contacts one of its member banks — say HSBC — who agrees to put up the cash in exchange for bonds with a coupon rate of 5% (or whatever the market will bear) and a call or term date of 10 years (the bond will have to be paid back at face value at the end of term). So if the loan is $10B, the annual coupon interest payment will amount to $500M for each of ten years, so under these terms the country will wind up paying an additional $5B for this loan – $5B that will be excluded from promoting jobs and business growth in the borrowing country’s real economy.

Even though the potential total rate of return on this loan is 50%, HSBC decides to sell the income stream from these bonds to another investment bank, think Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan Chase or Citigroup or Deutsche Bank (DB). The investment bank (say DB) agrees to buy the income stream, but in order to protect itself and its rentier clients, DB works out deal with an insurance company (say AIG) to, in exchange for a monthly premium (which would be less than the monthly income stream from the original loan), indemnify DB against a potential default on the part of the borrower country. As long as the borrower makes its monthly or annual payments, everything remains hunky-dory for everyone involved.

But there is that principal “balloon” due at the end of term. The $10B. The closer to the end of term, the less marketable the bonds become should DB decide to sell them, so DB decides to enter into an interest rate swap with another partner, perhaps a hedge fund, betting that the rate it receives in the swap will be enough to cover the insurance payment on the bonds plus a few “points” in profit.

AIG — who is indemnifying the income stream from the bonds for DB decides it needs another partner as well, so AIG decides to dump the contract for the DB policy in with a bunch of others and market the whole bundle to some of its corporate and/or public clients. Now remember, the security for all of these transactions is dependent upon the cash flow from the assets originally pledged as collateral for the loan.

Should anything happen – a natural disaster, an economic downturn, a war – that would impair the income stream from these pledged assets, the borrowing country could default on the bonds and have to surrender ownership of that collateral to DB or whomever holds the contract for that income stream. Plus, hedge funds and investment banks are like sharks. If they smell blood in the water they attack, and using predatory techinques like the use of “naked shorts“, betting that they can force market conditions for given securities to deteriorate in order to cover anticipated losses on those securities.

If the debtor country becomes insolvent, these hedge funds and investment banks can force it to give up even more public assets at below market rates plus agree to cut back on social services, lay off public workers, cut back or eliminate pensions, and thereby transfer the underlying income stream into private hands. In other words, “austerity” is the tool used by the rentier class to move public assets into private coffers. Which is why privatization of public assets and the cash flow from them is stagnating economic growth in the real economy.

Economic power is exercised by controlling the income stream from financial assets like bonds and Real Estate, the cash flow from which serves to keep the precariat poor and in debt.  Debt. Remember that word.  Exercising control over debt is the defining characteristic of neoliberal capitalism; an economic system that thrives on class warfare and whose penultimate goal is the destruction of democracy .  This is The Forever War and its weapon of mass destruction is Debt.

The Supreme Court.

This is another inter-generational fiasco. The SC will remain in conservative hands for at least another decade. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is really old now, so that means the neocons will be able to, in addition to Neil Gorscuch, place a majority of their ilk in control of the SC — for life. Which brings up another point — term limits.

President Trump has said he would be in favor of term limits but we don’t know what that entails. I would propose term limits for all members of Congress, as well as all appointees to political office including SCOTUS. And let’s agree to outlaw lobbyists.

Net Neutrality

Now that Tom Wheeler (a Democrat), chairman of the FCC has announced his resignation effective in January, we can expect the next nominee — who will be a Republican — to set in motion policies that will reverse online traffic rules set forth during Wheeler’s tenure that classified broadband internet service as a public utility under the principal of Network neutrality: that all Internet traffic should be treated equally and users be subject to the same fees structure, much like water and power are billed to consumers. With Republicans in charge, it seems likely that the internet will revert to a tiered fee structure that will provide exclusive premium services including faster bandwidth to those that will pay more and provide an environment that will not only engender the privatization of content but limit access to and increase the the striation and commercialization of the internet itself. Time to go back to our dumb phones or two tin cans and a wire.

The Forever War.

I’ve saved the worst for last. It seems that the only thing that U.S. Empire can create anymore is enemies, through a foreign policy of perpetual warfare. It’s either a War on Drugs or a War on Crime or a War on Terror when the drug of choice is war itself and the crime is the terror we bring to places and people in the world that become targets in this Forever War. Chris Hedges nails it when he states: “War is the principal business of the kleptocratic state.”

The financial costs alone of such follies are staggering. $6 trillion for the Iraq/Afghan war alone — so far. The military has been blessed with a $600B annual budget and counting for “discretionary spending” to fund the more than 800 bases and posts throughout the world, not counting either clandestine operations being conducted in Africa, the Middle East and in other sensitive areas; or veterans healthcare; or weaponry which includes a proposed “upgrade” of the nuclear arsenal of $1 trillion. Yeah that’s a “T”. What alternative use could we put that $1 trillion for? I wonder. You fill in the blank check.

The human cost of waging perpetual warfare is incalculable. The Forever War is also trans-generational in scope. By enforcing and funding a militaristic foreign policy of regime change directed at sovereign nation-states we oppose for some reason – typically economic – we are killing the future. As a capitalist tool for control and enslavement, The Forever War is not only both genocidal and suicidal; it is a global threat to democracy. Empire is not creating anything but its own — our own – extinction. One has to stop at some point and question who is in charge here – megalomaniacal sadists or self-indulgent imbeciles? And who is the real threat to world peace?  In a recent post on Truthdig entitled “Reign of Idiots“, Chris Hedges dismisses the neoclassical economic fantasy of free market stability mouthed by the sycophants of neoliberal capitalism:

“Magical thinking is not limited to the beliefs and practices of pre-modern cultures. It defines the ideology of capitalism. Quotas and projected sales can always be met. Profits can always be raised. Growth is inevitable. The impossible is always possible. Human societies, if they bow before the dictates of the marketplace, will be ushered into capitalist paradise.

“It is the Disneyfication of America, the land of eternally happy thoughts and positive attitudes. And when magical thinking does not work, we are told, and often accept, that we are the problem. We must have more faith. We must envision what we want. We must try harder. The system is never to blame. We failed it. It did not fail us.”

Graffiti

There are kiosk ads posted along Market Street here in The City, depicting wrist watches made in the USA by a company called Shinola ostensibly headquartered in my hometown, Detroit. To the naked eye, Detroit is a battered and beaten place, shrunken over the past decades to half of its pre-globalization population.

Although “The Strait” is a pale shadow of its former manufacturing prowess, there are signs of life. Shinola may be one such sign. The company had been known for manufacturing shoe polish which was an inspiration for a local perjorative back in the day, which I’d like to share with you and dedicate to the members of the MSM who bloviate nonsense as truth every night, to the elitists of our political duopoly who live in a bubble of self-interest and espouse a philosophy that reality is a tautologous prophecy, and finally to those whom still believe we live in a democracy: “You don’t know shit from Shinola”.

Corporate Coup d’état.

We now have the One Percent in full control of not only the central banking and financial system, but the global economy and now the US government. And there really is only one political party also controlled by the One Percent. The “corporate coup d’etat” that journalists Chris Hedges, Jim Hightower, George Monbiot, Harvey Wasserman and others have warned us about with regards to the NDAA legislation and the now failed TPP and TTIP global trade deals, has now taken place. The Corporate State is now completely in the hands of neoliberal corporate kleptocrats whom answer only to their stockholders and not the electorate. The U.S. now has a government of, for, and by the One Percent.

Revised from an earlier post.

You can read Chapter I, Chapter II, and Chapter III of our series: The Neoliberal Book of The Dead. Just follow the links.


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Kazkar: A teller of TinyTales and Tall Truths - So Help Me Grid.

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