Posts Tagged ‘capitalism’

The life song of J Alfred Bourgeois

May 11, 2016

We’ve worked hard for what we’ve got;

maybe we’re smart and maybe we’re not.

Thanks to the courage of long-dead soldiers,

we can grow and prosper and manage to get older.

We’ve read about .gov by the people, republics, and democracy;

we try to stay decent, clean, and free from hypocrisy.

And yes, we’ve heard of that Marx guy, and Lenin and whatnot.

but I’m here to say we aint no proletariat.

We don’t wanna change the world;

we like stars and stripes in the breeze unfurled.

Dinner on Sundays, work on Mondays, weekends for fun days;

this is what we like, and cultivate in predictable ways.

Jefferson said let’s do .gov by the peoples.

We say along with that came letting folks raise their steeples.

Marx, on the other hand said we need dictatorship of the proletariat,

but this home-making bourgeois boy giveth not a plug nickel for all that.

We’re happy to be plain ole boojwazee,

with a washer, dryer, car, and a home someday mortgage-free.

There are plenty out their who wanna die for the Cause;

we just like living in freedom under reasonable laws.

Floral

Glass half-Full

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The Unseen Hand of Capitalism, 21st-century version

January 6, 2016

I’m a regular guy who is trying to learn a thing or two about how things work and what makes the world go around and so forth and so on.

Back in the day, early 1970s, I was a clueless college student trying to figure things out. My draft # was 349, so I didn’t have to go to Nam. I know some who did have to go, and I appreciate their service to our nation.

So there I was at LSU in 1970, an English major, clueless about the world and everything in it. (I thank the Lord that my children have made better decisions than I did in their early life choices.) One good thing about being an English major is that you do learn how to read and write well, and that helps a lot as we go through life. To this day, I do not regret learning to read and write copiously.

Well, the years rolled by and I got along all right, with much help from God and my wife, and some dear friends with whom we raised our young’uns. I did sales for awhile, then drifted into construction and stayed on that path for most of the working life. We managed to get the three youn’uns through college and out on their own and that was a great blessing.

Fortunately, I never had to lean heavily on that classic phrase of underemployed English majors, Would you like fries with that?

Long about 2004 or so I decided to ease out of construction work; my wife was doing well in her nursing career. The kids were pretty much on their own. I took a few education classes at the nearby hometown university, and was moving toward some new destiny which we knew not what it would be.

By ‘n by, along came the fall of 2008, and the Crash of 2008 on wall street and so forth and so on. You know the story.

And since I had been, back in the good ole carefree college days, an English major, I was still in the habit of reading and writing. Therefore and henceforth  I started reading copiously about the financial developments that were so profoundly altering everybody’s life, even still yet today, as we speak.

And it seemed to me that the whole economy had kind of gone crazy there for a while, for a few weeks or a few months, as we’re seeing in the Big Short.  But then things sort of evened out a bit, but they never got back to what they were before and furthermore they still haven’t, even though the unemployment rate has dropped down from ~10% in 2009 to the ~5% it is today, according to the BLS or the BS, or some such number-crunchin agency in Washington maybe next to the Brookings or over on K Street or some important think-tank place like that.

Long about that time, early ’09 or somewhere in there, all the doomsayers showed up online and everybody and their brother was saying the whole dam world would come apart at the seams again and u better buy gold and it seemed to me like this Crash might do a replay but it never did. Instead, things just kind of got on a long, slightly upward slope to what we have today, whatever it is, somewhere between recession and high cotton, with  chronic destagulation and perpetual consternation but no real catastrophe like those fringy preppers (not preppies) had said back in ’09 or ’10 or whenever that was.

In my clueless English major kind of way, I was keeping an eye on the stock market, just for fun of course because I didn’t know much about it, but I must say I was amazed that we never really had another big crash like we had had in ’08.

Every time the numbers would take a big turn down, and you’d hear about the market being down a hundred or two hundred, especially in September or October, you’ d think this could be the Big one again.

But it never was the big one again. It’s been pretty much steady-state destagulation with a few ups and downs here and there– no inverted hockey-stick graphs.

By ‘n by, as the weeks rolled by and as I was wondering about all this, I began to wondering if there wasn’t some force or entity that was acting in a big, manipulative and perhaps surreptitious way on behalf of ?whoever ?whatever, the good of mankind, to make the market stay steady instead of taking another dive. It kind of seemed like it. Whoever or whatever it was or is must be pretty daggone powerful or influential. Maybe some Julius Pierpoint Morgan (the original WallStreet bailout artist financier) who was just intervening, out of some sacred duty that had been laid upon him as a knight of the financial garter, on behalf of the whole Western world to keep everything on a relatively even keel so we wouldn’t have another Panic of ’07 or ’29 or 2008.

T’was then I thought about that famous phrase: the Invisible Hand, as applied to economics. There’s got to be an Invisible Hand in there somewhere stopping that WallStreet slide every time one starts.

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_hand explained to me that Adam Smith had introduced the concept in economics in the year 1759. The Invisible Hand the idea that the  multiple economic actions of individuals who are acting independently of each other manage to, by luck or Providence or some unseen beneficent force of the Universe, produce a composite outcome that is beneficial to the whole Market, and maybe the whole world.

So as I became more and more astute in these financial matters, I began to feel, somewhat intuitively or through keen powers of in cumulatively clueless observation that this invisible hand was not some ethereal beneficent presence, but rather, a definite entity in the real world. Something very real. Somebody’s doing this! Come on now, who is it?

And now, thanks to Ben Bernanke and his memoir, Courage to Act,

http://www.amazon.com/The-Courage-Act-Memoir-Aftermath-ebook/dp/B00TIZFP0I

I have been duly informed. My days of financial naiveté are over, and I see the world for what it really is.

It was the Fed all along!

If you read the epilogue of Ben’s book, you’ll see what I mean. Here are just a  few favorable developments during that period, the last seven years, that he mentions:

~ Unemployment rate, from Aug 2012 at 8.15 down to 5.7 in Oct 2014, during QE3

~ 3 million jobs added in 2014, the largest annual increase since 1999

~ 10.7 million jobs added from 2010-2014

~ “The Fed’s securities purchases and lending programs turned a large profit for the government. . .sent almost $100 billion to the Treasury in 2014”

~ “Households had reduced their debt, their interest payments were low, and the value of their homes was higher, as was the value of most retirement accounts.”

~ “Consumer confidence, as measured by surveys, had rebounded.”

~ “At the end of 2014, U.S. output was more than 8 percent higher than at the end of 2007, the pre-crisis peak.”

So it’s plain to see that the Invisible Hand has been absolutely vigilant and effective. But this previously mysterious entity is no longer simply the composite whole enchilada of Capitalism. It is . . .

The Federal Reserve!

Thank you, Uncle Ben and Aunt Janet.

Times have changed, and so. . . has Capitalism. The old days are gone forever. We are now living in a bored new world of managed economy.

Glass Chimera

From Munich to Hormuz

September 12, 2015

In his 1972 journalistic opus, The Best and the Brightest,

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Brightest-Kennedy-Johnson-Administrations/dp/0330238477/

David Halberstam quotes President Lyndon Johnson, who made a speech on July 28, 1965, which included these words:

 

“We did not choose to be the guardians at the gate, but there is no one else.

“Nor would surrender in Vietnam bring peace, because we learned from Hitler at Munich that success only feeds the appetite of aggression. The battle  would be renewed in one country and then another country, (and) bring with it perhaps even larger and crueler conflict, as we have learned from the lessons of history.”

 

What history actually brought, in the years that followed, was this lesson:  the “larger and crueler conflict” of which LBJ spoke happened anyway, in spite of our confident, prolonged military efforts to arrest communist aggression in southeast Asia beginning in 1965.

The best laid plans of mice and men never work out as they were planned. This is the tragedy of human government, and even perhaps, of human history itself.

On that press conference occasion in 1965, President Johnson was announcing an escalation of the war in Vietnam, with new troop deployments increasing from 75,000 to 125,000. The total number of American soldiers eventually  sent to fight in Vietnam, before the conflagration ended in 1975, would far surpass that 125,000 that he was announcing on that fateful day.

If you go back and study what wars and negotiative agreements were forged between the leaders of nations in the 20th-century, you will see that our species has a long record of hopeful expectations for peace and safety that failed to manifest in the triumphant ways that we had expected.

After World War I, the victorious Allies, congregating in Versailles, France, went to great lengths to construct a peace deal that would last. . . that would last, as they hoped, in a way that would render their armisticed Great War to be the War to End all Wars.

A few years later, a foxy German dictator named Hitler worked himself into a position of systematically and stealthily destroying that Treaty of Versailles.

When British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler in 1938, and worked out a peace agreement which would allow Hitler to obscond Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain returned to London with the now infamous assessment, Peace in our time!

Look what happened after that.

That failed Munich agreement is the one to which President Johnson referred in his 1965 escalation speech. As quoted above, he mentioned what “we learned from Hitler at Munich.”

What historical lesson did we learn from history as a result of Chamberlain’s naivete at Munich?

Maybe this: You cannot always, if ever, trust your enemy. Especially if the arc of history is rising in his (the enemy’s) direction. Which it was (rising), like it or not, for Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich in 1938.

Years later, after Hitler and his Nazi terrorizers had scared the hell out of most everybody in the civilized world, the postwar scenario unearthed in WWII’s ashes  revealed this: a new ideological death-struggle between the Capitalist West and and the spectre of advancing Communism.

During that postwar period–1940s through the 1970s or ’80s–the rising fear that dominated both sides (Capitalist vs Communist) became an obsession for many national leaders. On both sides,  brave men and women were called, and took upon themselves, the perilous burden of defending themselves and their own against the horrible deprivations of the other side.

I grew up during that time. And I can tell you this: At that time, the fears about “Communism” were very real and threatening to many, if not most, Americans. And I daresay that massive fear of “the enemy” was dominant on the Soviet side as it was for us.

Then History threw us a real curve in the late 1940s when Mao and the Chinese communists ran (our man) Chiang Kai-shek out of the mainland (to Taiwan) and established their Asian version of what the Soviets were attempting to establish in eastern Europe.

This Chinese Communist threat is what our national leaders greatly feared in the 1950s and ’60s, when we began to fear the spread of Maoist communism into what remained of (largely third-world) southeast Asia.

Long story short, this fear and loathing of creeping Chinese communism is what got us into, and eventually sucked us into, the war in Vietnam.

Now we all know how that turned out.

What is happening in the world today is not unlike what was happening then. It’s all slouching toward unpredictable, though predictably tragic, human history.

For us in the West now, the great fear is what life would be like under the domination of Islamic Jihad, which is to say, ISIS, or the Islamic Republic of Iran, or Al-qaida, or whatever stronghold ultimately controls that emerging world military threat. (I’m not talking about the “good Muslims”, whoever they may be.)

Hence, many folks today, me included, do not trust any arrangement that our President and/or Secretary of State could set up with Iran. We do remember, as LBJ alluded to, “Munich.”

But we also remember Vietnam, which began–as President’s Johnson escalation speech reference attests– as a military effort to prevent another “Munich” outcome.

In our present time, ever present in our mind is Iraq; we see what is happening there now, after we went to all that blood, sweat and tears to secure that nation against Sadamic Sunni abuse and/or Khomeini Shiite totalitarianism.

As Churchill did not trust Hitler, while Chamberlain did trust him: our principle ally Netanyahu does not trust Khameini and the Iranians, while Obama does trust them.

Back in the 1930s-’40s, which assessment was correct? Churchill’s.

In our present situation, which assessment of Iranian motives is correct, Netanyahu’s or Obama’s?

To try and  figure out–as historical precedent and historical possibility bears down upon us– how our contemporary peace efforts will play out in the chambers and killing fields of power, is like. . .well. . . The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

And we are now, as we were then, on the eve of certain destruction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntLsElbW9Xo

Did we survive the last time? Did the free world survive?

You tell me.

 

Smoke

Vietnam in US

August 2, 2015

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We were there for a long long time.

Our military presence there was a sign:

America would uphold capitalist resistance

against Viet Cong communist insistence.

In the end it didn’t work out that way:

The North moved onto the the South to stay.

Sound familiar?

After years of war hemophilia.

We started with an idea to protect the world

against communist incursion that swirled

throughout Asia and Europe and South America,

so dominoes wouldn’t fall on US in America.

 

Kennedy had good intentions,

as Cold War assumed gargantuan dimensions.

He sent in the advisors and trainers,

as if the whole project were a strategic no-brainer.

 

Johnson stepped up the escalation,

had his guys doing all the right calculations.

But when McNamara found doubts and resigned,

then Cronkite and New Hampshire consigned.

Old Lyndon’s stress and strain were now showing.

He could see where this whole damn thing was going.

So Ho and his insurgents unearthed new determination

to turn Vietnam into a Communist nation.

 

Along came Nixon with all that American bluster,

and the waning resolve that a silent majority could muster.

Although Nixon was stubborn, he got paranoid and stumbled.

I guess he, and we, needed to be humbled.

 

There began, during that time of our national distress,

a cultural fissure we find it hard to redress:

there’s them that went, and them that didn’t go.

As one who didn’t go, I want you to know–

you who fought in the shadow of the Ho Chi Minh trail–

you went and you fought; you did not fail.

 

In some lessons we stand, but in others we fall;

the truths you taught us were the hardest of all.

You were the brave; you who bore the burden, the few.

We couldn’t have known what to do, but for you.

The battles that men make and the wars that we fight

are borne, in our own American way, in the desire to do right.

Looking back on it, I think it’s plain to see:

all we were wanting was to make the world free.

 

That old war began with us in Vietnam,

but it ended with Vietnam in us,

a haunting memory that’ll never go away: jungle patrols long gone,

body counts and trumpets that end in a hush.

 

If you visit the Vietnam War Memorial today,

you’ll see Washington’s Memorial beyond the long wall, granite gray.

At the end of the other angled plane, set your sights on Lincoln’s dedication:

to honor those who bled and died for our upstart nation.

Remember those brave slain at Gettysburg, Verdun, the Bulge, Korea, Saigon,

who lifted freedom’s defense at Iwo Jima, Ia Drang, Hue and Khe Sanh.

 

Yes, now it’s time, our old grievance to acknowledge:

some served in hell while others were in college.

But hey, let us now endeavor,

because we hope our noblest intentions can live forever.

Let us give honor to those brave souls who, in firefights across the ocean,

paid the dear price of our liberty with their last full measure of  devotion,

whether they be now dead,

or with post-traumatic stress instead,

still alive.

That aint no jive.

Strive.

Don’t ever give up.

Now wha’sup?

 

Glass half-Full

The Minotaur is dead; long live the Minimal

May 12, 2015

The surprise ending in this book is that Yanis Varoufakis, the presumed leftist former finance minister of Syriza Greece, says it has to be the United States to lead the way of fixing the world’s financial mess.

He’s been called a Marxist, but Mr. V is not calling for revolution; he’s not advocating, as Marx did, that the workers of the world expropriate the “means of production”, meaning the industrial infrastructure that makes the economic world go around.

He’s not looking to the European Union for truly effective financial leadership. He’s not even looking to China (the most likely candidate) to grab the baton of world demand-driven economic vitality and run with it.

He says, at the end of his book, The Global Minotaur, that it has to be the USA to repair the international financial disaster.

The United States was, after all, largely responsible for the post-WWII arrangement (which he calls the Global Minotaur) that propelled, then ultimately toppled in 2008, the economic stability of the world.

The US had accepted the reins of power for internationally reconstructive wealth-generation in the aftermath of World War II. At the 1944 financial summit in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the seeds were sown, through a meeting of Allied minds, for worldwide reconstruction and recovery from the devastation of war. This actually worked out quite well for about thirty years for most countries who were involved, until about 1971.

In that year, President Nixon, in an effort to arrest the US’s unraveling surplus, announced that our Treasury would no longer sell gold for dollars. Thus did the USA, the principle player and beneficiary of post-WWII world reconstructive prosperity, set in motion the demise of its own international hegemony.

The worldwide financial tailspin that resulted from America’s abandoning the gold standard set in motion a debilitating chain of destructive financial consequences, beginning in the 1970s.

The wizardry of world-conscious financial minds, however, had constructed a financial framework for “recycling” capital around the world. When those minds had conferred in 1944, much was agreed upon. But there was, at the Bretton Woods conference, a divergence of strategic proposals for effectively restructuring the world’s capitalism. The famous (or infamous, depending on your economic worldview) John Maynard Keynes proposed an international policy that would include automatic mechanisms for recycling surpluses between rich nations and poor nations.

Mr. Keynes, genius that he was, was not able to convince the assembled heads of State and their finance people to accept his plan. Instead, the Bretton Woods conferees devised their dollar-pegged arrangement according to a proposal  from an American, Harry Dexter White. This settlement positioned the United States pretty much in charge of things.

The demand-generating, growth-driven Bretton Woods agreement was humming right along until 1971 when Nixon’s announcement about the gold window amounted to throwing a monkey wrench in the works of world currency valuations.

As burgeoning trade deficit and fiscal deficit began to debilitate American purchasing power, our financial and political heavyweights were nevertheless still adept at reconfiguring the Global Plan for economic development in a way that sustained our yankee advantage. Some exploitive characteristics of the new deficit-driven (instead of surplus-driven) financial machination rendered the whole Bretton Woods arrangement as a beastly, power-obsessed system rigged for devouring foreign assets to enrich US corporations and  “Wall Street.”

Hence, the analogy of the Minotaur, a mythical flesh-eating creature of ancient Greek mythology, was chosen by Mr. Varoufakis as the central force of his narrative.

The imagery works adequately for the purposes of Mr. Varoufakis treatise, because there are some parallels between the mythical, terrible man-bull beast that feasted on young virgins, compared to the US-driven Global Plan for sucking up 60-80% of the world’s capital for a very long time.  With Mr. Harry Dexter White’s plan, tweaked and fortified along the rocky paths of the 1970’s, ’80’s and ’90’s by Mr. Volcker, Mr. Greenspan, and President Reagan, the recycling plan for surpluses morphed into a reversal of the Bretton Woods Agreement. So it still favored American interests with exorbitant privilege that arose from managing the world’s reserve currency. Thus was the good ole USA sitting’ on top of the world, even though our trade and fiscal deficits were expanding in leaps and bounds; the Minotaur was gorging on debt, and so were most Americans.

So after the stagflationary 1970’s, we were able to rig the game of international capital flows so that the lion’s share (the minotaur’s share) of world capital just kept coming back in yankee directions.

Which worked well until about, you know, 2008.

With all the world-friggin’ capital recycling that had been humming along through the ’80s, ’90s, 2000’s, the wizards of wall street managed to concoct up a handful of magical innovative financial instruments to keep themselves gainfully occupied and the stock markets thoroughly inebriated. Dubbed MBSs, CDOs, derivatives, and credit default swaps, these wonder working financial “innovations” kept the profits rolling along to the tune of billions. Until 2008.

By that time, the real industrial-based, home-building, retail-flourishing music of sound economy was screeching to a grinding halt; suddenly myriads of those fancy high-steppin’ financial dancers  found themselves with no musical chair to sit in, and no way to repay all those millions of $$$ they had borrowed to purchase all those perpetual motion money-machine MortgageBackedSecurities, CollateralizedDebtObligations, CreditDefaultSwap-protected HFT electronic and/or sometimes paper fragile financial instruments.

So the Wall Street guys came out of the 2008 financial meltdown with a tarnished reputation because what had been a fairly constant flow of world capital came to, like, a standstill.

At which time, according to Mr. V’s book, Mr. Summers, Mr. Geithner and a few of their cronies cooked up a plan to keep the whole perpetual motion money-making machine cranking along like nothing had really happened, which is what, in some ways, we’re still operating under, a little like smoke and mirrors as they used to say back in the day (the ’80’s-90s.)

Now looking back on it all, the international financial infrastructure for continuous capital and liquidity around the world actually worked reasonably well for one hell of a long time–even when, in the 1970’s the big sugar daddy US of A started to slide into major deficit territory (on both fronts: trade and fiscal).

It was only (in my opinion) at the end  of the big Capital flow run, in the dozen years 1998-2008, that the US-led machine became what might be called predatory. ‘Twas then I saw a long-bearded guy on the street in Seattle with a sign that said Send Banksters to Jail. 

Which is why–the predatory attribute– I suppose, Mr. Varoufakis, used the flesh-feasting Minotaur analogy for his treatise.

But the US-driven plan for world hegemony was no cannabilistic beast. That’s a little bit like overkill, Mr. V, isn’t it?

More like a couch potato with a credit card.

A very good read, though, Yanis–your treatise, The Global Minotaur.

Here’s the book excerpt that I found most interesting. (This pertains to President Reagan’s policies in the 1980’s)

From chapter 7:

“As for the actual ideals underpinning free market fundamentalism, their fate was identical to that of Marxism in Moscow:

they (the ideals of free market fundamentalism, –ed.) became the first victims of its political champions’ rise to power. Indeed, when, in 1981, Ronald Reagan entered the White House, he spoke the language of supply-side economics, balanced budgets, the withering of big government (ironically, an expression first coined by Marx), etc. However, after a few months of toying with such policies, and once unemployment skyrocketed  in 1981, Reagan performed an abrupt U-turn (just as Lenin had done by adopting his New Economic Policy the moment he discovered that socializing the factories did not work as well as planned). Instead of shrinking government and balancing the budget, the president put his foot on the accelerator. The twin deficits (trade and fiscal, –ed.) ballooned and, as a result of his unbridled Keynesian practices, unemployment shrank and the Global Minotaur was on its merry way.”

So, considering Mr. Varoufakis’ book conclusion that the US should lead the way out of our worldwide money Crisis, I’m wondering if he, (ironically) like so many libertarians  on the internet, is looking for another “Reagan”? to take the ball and run with it toward our new goalposts for some kind of demand-generating, surplus-recycling 21st-century game plan for the nations of the world.

Glass Chimera

Denying Climate Change

November 15, 2014

The critical question about climate change is not whether it is happening or not. The point is: what should be done about it, and perhaps more importantly–what can be done about it?

The earth and its biospheres have always been changing. There is no doubt about that. Scientific research and exploration have provided ample evidence of that truth, geologically and biologically. Miles and miles of extruded, eroded, sedimented, metamorphated, conglomerated rocks and minerals have convinced most of us who are paying attention that the world was, is, and will always be in flux.

In our present age, are emissions from human activity inflicting destructive effects on the earth and its inhabitants?

Yes.

Undoubtedly, aye, but here’s the rub: As far as general mankind is concerned, “climate change” will never be anything but a perpetually unproven scientific hypothesis, which is apparently morphing, as the earth itself is, into a political movement that is misunderstood by the masses.

The political movement, which claims to be acting on behalf of mother Earth herself and her inhabitants–that political movement– is founded upon unquantifiable theoretical snapshots of a gigantic moving target, and hypothetical random samplings of constantly shifting sands.

The resulting politics and ideology of the climate change believers will become increasingly restrictive, and ultimately repressive. These believers are starting to get zealously mad and revolutionary, similar to the Marxists/Bolsheviks about a hundred years ago.

And look what happened with that. Marx had figured out a few things about human commerce and wealth accumulation, but his proposals yielded a new eschatological layer of ideas for humans to argue, fight about, and wage wars over.

Like Marxism, the political/economic outcome of climate change agitprop will become as oppressive as the big bad wolf himself–carbon-spewing Capitalism. And in the long run, the end-game is the same: who is going to take control of the means of production?

To XL-pipeline, or not–that is the question. But it’s only the next point of many contentions yet to come.

However all this homosapiens tragicomedy plays out, some people will come out on top of the imposed carbon-squelching or carbon-permitting policies; others will be ground down beneath the weight of it all. Some will lose; some will win.

Speaking of win, think of it this way: WIN. WIN was the acronym touted by President Gerald Ford, long about 1975. It stands for: Whip Inflation Now.

The Climate Change idea  is like that. Everybody knows, or will know because they’ve been taught about it, that human-caused climate change is destructive. And everybody knows that something should be done about it. But most people don’t really understand it. It’s like trying to understand inflation.

And now, by the way, in Keynsian-speak, inflation has morphed into a thing that is not so bad after all. Because, when properly bridled, it protects us from being gobbled by the new big bad wolf of economic tectonics–deflation. We have now a theoretical target of 2% inflation, just as we probably have somewhere in a Kyoto or Copenhagen consensus, a target of —-kg/day carbon emissions.

My theory is that the general body of mankind will never truly understand the dynamics of climate change, just as we  heartland flyover dweebs will never fully comprehend the economic forces that push our meager assets and never-ending liabilities around like toys.  We never will grok it.

The concept of climate change itself will probably always be misunderstood, mis-applied, miscommunicated, and probably–dare I say it–mistaken, just like the rapaciously exploitive practices of capitalism have been, and just as the revolutionary, anarchic thrusts of Maxism have been.

But if people ever do comprehend the immense implications of climate change and its proposed remedies, they will achieve that understanding through education, not political deprivations and repression.

So all ye climate change believers out there–get busy educating us deniers out here, because that’s the only way we’ll ever understand it. Teach on.

Don’t try to choke us with regulations and treaties.

Forty years ago, when I was graduating from LSU, I was an environmentalist of sorts, and antiwar also (my draft number was #349). And I really did believe, as I still do, that we humans should not pollute the earth.

Now there’s a good idea: do not pollute.  Which reminds me of an old slogan, similar to the WIN thing:

Give a hoot; don’t pollute!

I think some fella named Woodsy Owl came up with that one. He came along after Smoky the Bear had set the tone for environmental awareness.

I believe the Environmental movement should have stuck with that motto, instead of complicating the issues with all this “climate change” and “global warming” effluence. Effluence is, when you get right down to it, worse than affluence.

Affluence is kind of nice to have, and not as outdated as the climate change zealots would have us believe. The result of reasonable affluence is that folks will settle down somewhat instead of rampaging through the streets and looting the system.

While progressing through youth and middle age, my environmental zeal has toned down a bit; it took a back seat to establishing a  homestead, a household and (dare I say it) a coital family. No ZPG for me and my fruitful wife.

Now I’ve written my way into a Saturday sunrise. Maybe it’s time to hop on the Vespa and make a run to do some errands. On second thought, take the car, make a recycling run. If there’s a way to avoid emitting carbon, I haven’t figured it out yet, and I don’t know if we ever will, especially with China and Kilauea doing their thing on the other side of the world.

my song about it: Deep Green

Glass half-Full

Pax Statismo, and Anarcho

March 28, 2014

In the modern industrial era that began about 200 years ago, a zeitgeist god named Kapital rose up to dethrone the god of the former age, Monarchy. Very early on during the Kapital dynasty, the Marx demigod happened along and he figured out that Kapital god had some real vulnerabilities that would ultimately lead to Kapital’s downfall.

So the Marx whipped up a revolution that ultimately would dethrone Kapital and replace him with a new god for the new age, Communo. As it turned out, from about 1905 until long about 1989 the Kapital and the Communo were at each other’s throats constantly everywhere you look.

But early on during the struggle between the Kapital and the Communo, the Keyneo demigod happened along and detected some serious vulnerabilities within Kapital’s corpus that, if infiltrated, would ultimately enable the Communo to sucker punch  Kapital into mayhem and oblivion.

Meanwhile, changes within the demographic of Communo’s domain morphed him/her into a new multigodural entity. The demigod MediaMad dubbed the new chimera god Statismo. The thing about Statismo is that nothing really matters to him/her. No noblesse oblige, no limits, no antiquated outdated obsolete faith or sentimentalities and for sure no sacred damn cows.

One result of Statismo’s evolving infiltrating insidious insurgent machinations was that institutions of the former Kapital and Communo realms began to topple slowly, one by one, two by two and whats-it-to-you, etc. For instance, one sacred cow of the faltering Kapital was that feral relic, the balanced budget, which had formerly enabled Kapital power throughout the the West and sometimes the East by preserving and extending and colonializing the value of Kaptial’s four currencies: gold, oil, paper and electrons.

Statismo had determined that the balanced budget had to come down, along with several other sacred damn cows like marriage and family and so forth and so on etcerata etcetera etcerata . This devolution would make the way clear for the New Order. Thus the Kapital Void and also the Communo Cloud could be flooded with Statismo Stato.

Here’s the The thing about Statismo revolutionaries:  they don’t give a damn about budgets, fiscal responsibilities, deficits, profits or prophets. When the gods of Kapital and Communo have completed phases I, II, and possibly III of their deathly video-game brouhaha, all hell can break loose and the way will be clear for Pax Statismo and ultimately his doppelgänger twin Anarcho.

Vive la revolution! But this time with no liberte, egalite, nor fraternite.  That was yesterday’s news, even in 1789 when this whole scenario was hatched in the minds of neo-platonist-confucianist-ex-post-facto-nihilist philosophers.

But hey, have a nice day! This will take a while. Put your seat belt on. As for me and my house, I’m waitin’ on Pax Christi.

Smoke

The “class” thing

January 25, 2014

I am an American, a southerner, college-educated working fellow, married with three grown, and reasonably happy. I love my wife and I love my life. I am a follower of Jesus. Although I do a 40-hour gig as a maintenance guy for 92  apartments, I am not a member of the working “class.”

All this talk these days, arising from the Democrats and sociologists and talking media heads, about “class” this and “class” that, the “working class,” the “privileged” class, the so-called “disappearing middle class”–I wouldn’t give you a nickel for all of it.

As far as I’m concerned, I am an individual, my own man, and beyond classification. God made me just the way I am, thank you, and I thank Him for that. So you can call me middle-class if you want to. You can classify me in the disappearing middle because my working wage is 2/3 of what I was bringing in at my peak, a dozen or so years ago when I was fifty years old. You can call me middle class, working class, dumb-ass, or whatever you wanna call me, you can call me ray, you can call me jay, or ray jay, or  you can call me “hey” or “hey you,” but ya doesn’t have to call me anything at all.

The only identity that matters is what my wife, my grownup young-uns, loved ones and friends call me–Carey. And btw I’ll soon be publishing the third novel, which is named Smoke. So put that in your literary pipe and smoke it.

This little class rant came up this morning because I have been hearing more and more about these designated class distinctions lately, ever since, oh, couple years ago when the Occupy thing started and they were out in the streets–I watched them for two days in Vancouver and Seattle–with their signs about the 1% and the 99% and all that redistributionist and income disparity hype.

Maybe I’m in the 99%, maybe I’m way down in the 50% or even below that. I don’t care. If I had a chance to join the 1%, I would jump at it. This great country was built on upward mobility.

We used to call it the American Dream. I still do. I’m not subscribing to this neo-marxian class stuff. No thank you. It’s just for political manipulation, and I am no political hack’s lackey. Therefore am I not pleased to accept some sociologist’s semi-permanent societal place assignment. Well, maybe “first class”. I would settle for that, but I’m not buying the proletarian, nor the bourgeois label.

Speaking of “not buying”. . .

This morning I began reading David Horowitz’ excellent autobiography, Radical Son.

Here is a passage from page 39 that got my attention, then became, it seems, the impetus for the little bloggish rumination you are now reading. From Radical Son:

“At the time my parents moved into the (Sunnyside) Gardens in 1940, they could have purchased the house on Bliss Street for $4000–less than its original price. But as radicals, they had scorned the opportunity to own property and moved in as renters. Seven years later, the Gardens were acquired by new owners, who decided to sell of the individual units, including our house. A Sunnyside Tenants’ Association was organized to resist the sales.”

Why did David’s parents not buy their house when they had the chance to do it? Weren’t they Americans? Well not yet, apparently.

They were second generation Americans, from Russian immigrants, and they identified themselves as communists. I understand that angst; its where they came from, how they were brought up and so forth. They did not subscribe to the American dream, but to the Russian communist dream that they had brought with them, and then dragged it as excess baggage off the boat at Ellis Island.

Son David later learned, in the school of hard knocks, what it means to be an American, to be an opportunist for yourself and your family, instead of letting yourself be limited by an imposed class identity. If his parents had been willing to learn that lesson in 1940 when they bought their home in Sunnyside Gardens, maybe they would have acceded a little more successfully to the American Dream motivator. But hey, they were immigrants; what can you expect? It takes a generation or two off the boat to acquire a taste for this melting pot porridge. David Horowitz’ life is testimony to that, and that is what his book is about.

Now I’m a southerner, and very different from all those immigrants and their Old World forebears who got off the boat at New York Harbor. (My wife, Pat, is however from an Irish family from New Jersey.) And although my life experience is very different from that of Mr. Horowitz, I sure enjoy reading a good book, which is btw, the key (reading and education) to overcoming all this classist entrapment that’s going around now.

Try it some time, you’ll learn a thing or two from reading a book, even if its on your Kindle.

Smoke

A New Social(ism) Contract?

October 8, 2013

As near as this under-employed citizen can determine, the (over)simplified net effect of the Affordable Care Act will be this:

A big pile of money will be collected from employed people who can afford health insurance, and that money will be used to ensure health care for poor people who would otherwise not be able to afford health care or health insurance.

This will help poor people. Everybody else will, by premiums or by taxes, ante up some money to assure that the po’ folks will be minimally cared for whenever they have health or medical problems.

Okay, this working Republican can live with that, even it will cost me a few bucks, because, you know, I have a heart and I am a Christian and we’re all in this together and I don’t want to see riots in the streets etc etc etc.

My mind wanders every day between the poles and polls of this controversy, as I am under the influence of so many information sources, whether it be sound-bite Congressional rhetoric, or a morning email from Erick Erickson, or listening to a panel discussion on Diane Rehm or hearing Tom Ashbrook orchestrate an exploration of the issues, or reading a UPI report.

Here’s the problem: Our original social contract, which is the Constitution with its tripartite governmental institutions, does not effectively address all the divisions that arise in this post-modern predicament. For some people, such as Tea Party folks, or persons of independent means, that incongruence becomes a big objection to what is happening now. For others, who are poor or who want to, by grand design build a great society, our Constitutional freedoms and rights are not such a big issue.

Since the New Deal, the disparities and eccentricities of capitalism have driven us away from the original social contract enacted in the Constitution by our nation’s founders. We’ve tacked on Medicare and Medicaid. This is not your father’s oldsmobile; nor is it your grandmother’s household with muffin-buns and berries by the steamy kitchen window. We have evolved to a post-democratic, post-republican, post-capitalist, post-expansionist, post-consumer-waste welfare corporate State.

And hey, it is what it is, like it or not. This is 2013. I mean, 1984 was 29 years ago already.

But the libertarian folks who identify with  Constitutionally-protected rugged individualism are still with us. God bless ’em. They figure we didn’t sign up for this redistribution hijinks. I can relate. I live in a mountain town that was named after a musket-totin’ trailblazing pioneer named Daniel Boone. I wish everybody had the initiative and self-respect that the libertarians have. But alas, there are many other folks out there in the great cities and amongst the urbanized conglomerates who  are quite comfortable, even fat n’ happy, depending on the System that we’ve patched together, which is not the same as the visionary government that our Founders had wrought from the virgin soil of a vast contintent back in the day.

Now this whole Affordable Care vs. Obamacare mirage has got us all torn up, living on the edge of fiscal disaster or social dystopia or government shutdown or Default or  some combination thereof.

We need a new social contract. I propose a national referendum on the Affordable Care Act so we can settle this thing once and for all. Instead of depending on the Democrats or Republicans to interpret the polls, let’s take a real vote on the issue so we’ll know where the simple majority of Americans stand on this landmark issue of subsidized health care.

Glass half-Full

The Swan Song of J. Al DasCapital

May 24, 2012

For some it’s a good thing; for others a bad,

to be like the capitalist, or provoke socialist rad.

Back in the day, Rockefeller and Carnegie forged the enterprise deal;

JPMorgan and Ford cranked up  capitalist zeal.

But then in ’29 the machine broke down; all hell broke loose.

It was a train wreck for sure, from engine to caboose.

Smart as he was,  Hoover was thought clueless in ’32,

so they brought in Roosevelt to set up a new deal crew.

The gov from New York saved us, so they say,

with a big shot of socialism,  making work for payday.

 

Now these days, since the meltdown of ’08,

we’ve the same situation, but reverse, on our plate:

Big Spender Barack’s in the driver’s seat; he’s catchin’ the flack,

while Money-movin’ Mitt says its time to get back

to those good ole days when investors and innovators were calling the shots,

before all these Keynesian Krugmanites got the hots

for quantitative easing, and stimulus, and priming the pump;

’cause they give us a ride, but we don’t get over the hump.

 

Now out here on Main Street where the grassroots grow,

in the shops and garages where the mom and pops know,

we whip up the long tails; we push pins in the bubbles;

we wink at the black swans and laugh at the troubles.

Class warfare’s just a phrase in some socialist goad,

inequality  just a pothole, a mere bump in the road.

No flash-tradin’ froth, no credit default fizz,

we just work with what can be, and we deal with what is.

If the day ever comes when the gov regulates us beyond reason,

or corporations have all the wealth tied up for the season,

we’ll just stick out our necks and  we’ll sing our swan song,

cuz life in the free market goes on and goes on.

Glass half-Full