March 23, 2008
“Strain out the gnat but swallow the camel” - Matthew 23:24
Earmarks are the gnat. No bid and the rest of the contracts in Iraq are the camel (dick cheney and your patron, Halliburton, are you listening) - or should I say the camel penis - that's been shoved down our throats, while we're distracted by tiny insects. Is this what Jesus was talking about in Chapter 23, according to Matthew? Well He was talking about the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees who, according to Christ, thought more of the gold in the temple than the sanctity of the temple itself. They care more about the appearance of goodness than they care to be good. Does that sound like conservatives or are you deaf, dumb and blind?
Earmarks, non military, total $2.9 Billion for the proposed fiscal 08. With DOD it's $18.3G. Almost $3 billion is dwarfed by more than $300 billion, $75G / year, worth of [executive branch distributed] contracts that were let in Iraq alone, from ‘03 to ‘06. What the hell? No bid contracts to Halliburton et al are not less corrupt and are certainly more costly and less useful to US than earmarks for reconstruction at home. Are Americans naturally this stupid or have we been made foolish by conservative media and politicians and the money/life sucking investors who own them all? Meanwhile needed maintenance and repairs occur too seldom and in the case of collapsed bridges too late. Even the few earmarks that are addressed to the crumbling infrastructure of America are often misdirected. Don’t take mine and certainly no politician’s word for it. Follow the links and see for yourself. GAO
Rebuilding Iraq -- The Contractors
The GAO reports $311 billion, often in no bid or start before negotiations are complete, contracts in Iraq alone. US "Aid" Keep in mind that contract awards, including no bid, are the province of the president's executive branch. This is where the biggest and most costly corruption and damage to America is done, for the profit of the elite class of rich investors, who are the president's peers. The monarchical executive and the peers of his realm are the parasites that afflict America and the entire Human Race. But the 10% of US who are left securely in the middle class, who sellout to and serve the one half of one percent who own almost everything, and the rich themselves, of course, think everything is going very well. Of course they own your mortgage so, in fact, they own your home. They’ve got the collateral to back up the wealth of the community that’s been concentrated in their hands.
I heard an economist say that when a person defaults and their home goes into foreclosure a complex daisy chain of lenders are hurt. He described 4 or 5 possible links in the lending chain before reaching the ultimate source investment. He didn’t think about the profits and fees that each of these middle men added to the cost of the loan. He didn’t begin to understand that this circle jerk of debt is unsustainable, like any perpetual motion scheme. Nor did it occur to the expert authority that the cost to maintain the usurious activity as well as it’s existence is a substantial part the cause of the crisis to begin with. [By the way, the preservation of the stolen wealth and ill gotten gains of investors, which is everything they own, are the first thought of the administration, congress and the FED] This fool thinks finance and investment are the economy, instead of parasites that feed upon it - and US.
Misdirection, distraction, diversion and other lies are the conservative rule. That’s always true. They want the money and want you to believe someone else is getting it. Misdirection belongs first on the dishonor roll. I’ve known this for going on fifty years. Until very recently few others saw things as I do. On this point or that maybe - but not as a general rule. That, thanks to neo con ineptitude and unabashed hubris, is changing.
It used to be that they just had to say foreign threat and everyone lined up. Now their working hard to sell the “Mexican invasion” to the christo fascist base of hardened bigots left over from the days of Jim Crow. The most poorly educated are beginning to see that we have no industry left. They understand that they have no decent jobs or wages because of outsourcing, that wealth has been concentrated and they’ve been left out. Now that downsizing is spreading to the educated middle class, the perfidy of the investor elites, who’ve moved our ability to make the things we need to consume, in order to live (much less to trade) to China and stashed the short term profits (from our now depleted ability to buy the imported goods) in Carribean banks, is becoming much better known.
Making immigration a major issue, as Karl Rove is trying to do for the Republican Party this election year, distracts US from the economic crises that have been born of “privatization, deregulation/free trade, cuts in government spending.” Add to “Friedman’s neoliberal triumvirate” - see Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”, page 163 - the tax cuts for the rich and taxation of previously exempt social security payments. [That is the real “double taxation,” The recipients income was taxed by social security before retirement. But you don’t hear that from Senator McConnel. The rich have their big capital gains cut. To hell with US.] The additions disguise Friedmanesque shock therapy cuts in social spending. That’s the torturous process of taking more from the poor to give to the rich. Look at all the ways they facilitate the concentration of wealth and you’ll begin to see that from which they work so hard to divert your attention.
If you’re wondering, outsourcing, and don’t forget in-sourcing by visas for Asians and Mid Easterners for the purpose of displacing American engineers, go with deregulation/free trade. That’s the right of investors to profit from our purchases even if we must use credit cards and home equity loans to make them. That of course is win-win for the investors who profit when we buy and profit when we borrow the money back to buy again. Hell we don’t need to make anything in America. The FED can print some more money and loan it to the banks who can loan it to US at a profit and no one will ever have to work again.
Meantime Reagan’s newspeak labor statistics are cited at every possible juncture to prove to you that things are not as bad as deep down you know that they are. Here are some of the [links] FACs and tables that, if you read them carefully, debunk the public statements about growth and employment that the administration and corporate owned politicians of any ilk are weak and stupid enough to make.
Unemployment lies! Like the welfare myth, they blame the parasitization on the victim. FAC
“Employed persons consist of:
* All persons who did any work for pay or profit during the survey reference week.
* All persons who did at least 15 hours of unpaid work in a family-operated enterprise.
* All persons who were temporarily absent from their regular jobs because of illness, vacation, bad weather, industrial dispute, or various personal reasons.
Unemployed persons are:
* All persons who were not classified as employed during the survey reference week, made specific active efforts to find a job during the prior 4 weeks, and were available for work.
* All persons who were not working and were waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been temporarily laid off.
Persons not in the labor force are those who not classified as employed or unemployed during the survey reference week.
How large is the labor force?”
If you dig into the tables at BLS tables you will find under the heading Employment Status a pdf file that indicates 121M employed and 5.7M unemployed. On the same page, unless it’s changed in the past weeks, are Persons Not in the Labor Force. The table indicates that 78.M (under age 62) have been dropped from the labor pool since Reagan changed the water. The embarrassing existence of so many workers who have stopped looking for work is never explained as having been caused by lack of suitable employment. Instead, they are described as discouraged workers who have chosen not to look for jobs. The colloquial description is lazy. But that comes from those who have theirs and want to keep it - no matter who must be deprived of opportunity in order to make it so. No! That will never do. They have chosen leisure over work. I’ll bet you can find many interesting references to trite shibboleths, often contained in formal papers that attempt to reinforce the propaganda conditioning, if you Google “leisure versus work.” The BLS tables referenced above and my experience of the past forty years do it for me.
More lies and other propaganda:
Terrorism is exaggerated and paranoia is encouraged as excuses to undo the bill of rights, while creating a feeding frenzi among government contractors, which has exacerbated the financial crisis created by deregulation and outsourcing.
The myth that social security is, if it is, insolvent because it’s not private and the myth that welfare is the biggest budget drain and that government spending is the biggest parasite feeding on the real economy. - What’s left of the real economy that is. Look at the government expenditure pie chart. Subtract SS and Medicare from the total. They are funded separately and wouldn’t be a budget expenditure if the Reagan and the Bushes hadn’t looted the trust fund to pay for unnecessary contracts and the much higher cost of privatized services.* Then, if you have any notion of the increased spending for privatization scams under the conservatives, coupled with the prices of gasoline, food, housing and everything else, you’ll begin to see where the money is really going.
* Around 1985, Menem was elected president in Argentina, by running on a pro union [Peron style] platform. Pressured by the IMF, he sells everything at low prices. See Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” p 165. A French company bought the water and sewer. They charged prices for water that the poorest could not afford. The poor were forced to use well water contaminated by the sewers that got little service being not so profitable. See “Dead in the Water,” a movie recently aired on Sundance. The French company, who competed by promising low rates, bought the infrastructure cheap, then complained of not making enough money. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz exposed the typical procedure of the privatization fraud. In Argentina the people took to the streets to call for the imprisonment of Menem. In Bolivia Bechtel licensed the right of the poor to gather rainwater. That led to the loss of the franchise after the army and police went over to the people and the legislature went home. After the corrupt government, which had privatized the water, fled, Evo Morales was elected president. The people in Bolivia are no longer deprived of water in order to serve the profit of American and global investors.
It’s delusional to believe that American knowhow and inventiveness will pull US through. The business parasites sold that for short term gain too. We don’t have the skills to make the products we need to trade or the scientists and engineers with the knowledge to create the technology or processes. The MBAs discovered higher profits by hiring foreign engineers and scientists at the lower salaries they would accept, because they were dependent on employers for visas. The American students all followed the money to business school. Then the Asians and Mid Easterners, who dominated our science and engineering graduate schools even in the 1980s, went home to where the jobs have moved. Now they teach students there. The plumber is the only one who seems to know what really trickles down. Reagan, and all the fools since, don’t have a clue that they’ve sold out America for a quick buck.
In a hypothetical casino card game the house takes 5% of every pot. If 10% of the average money at the table is on average played on each hand, then the house takes 0.5% of the money at the table on each rake. After 200 hands, 100% of the money that is on average at the table at any given time has been taken by the house. The only way the game may continue is to have new money come to the table. The winners, of course, smell the new blood and even anticipate it greedily.
It’s the same with all of finance, including investment, banking and insurance. Energy, communications, advertising and many other service enterprises also get a cut. They take, one way or another, a percentage of almost every transaction between producer and consumer. A consortium of private banks like the FED, or some government entity must create more money continuously, to account for the profits of capitalist investors, in order that commerce may continue. The cut of every pot that the capitalists take also adds to the cost of every product we buy, as well as diluting, inflating and devaluing the money supply.
If the parasitic services are useful and necessary, then their cost must be minimized to minimize the damage they do to the community and commerce. The lowest profit is non profit. The things we need in common we must do for ourselves in common. The parasitization of the community by the class of capitalists is made possible by the excess of private property that they own. Excess property is land, houses, goods and money that you do not need to survive. I’m not talking about the home you live in or your personal property such as clothes, cars and dvd players. But excess property is investment property that was taken from our common, community property through privatization whether recently in the new wave or thousands of years ago by lords or patrons. The possession of so much property by so few individuals is not healthy for our community.
Oh, so you expect growth of the perpetual motion pyramid scam of finance and capital to open an escape hatch so that we’ll survive the zero sum collision? Wrong! Since we outsourced the ability to produce goods, the growth has all been imaginary and purely inflationary. Production hasn’t grown in America. It’s shrunk. The only thing that grows is the money supply and debt. Without growth in the American production of products for that money to represent . . . Well, if you don’t get the picture by now, I pity you.
How is it then, that even most of you good guys out there still don’t get it? It’s called thought conditioning. Being the second, third or nth generation to be programmed by schools and advertisers controlled by wholly owned corporate management and politicians, you’ve probably even had conditioned thoughts reinforced by your parents. They’re hardly necessary with television and movies that tell you every day how good it is to be a debt slave in America. We’ve got problems but it’s still the best . . . Well it’s not good enough. Especially now that the greedy masters have dug the hole so deep.
If you understood the full impact of the casino analogy and the influence of the do nothing but spin the wheels service and debt economy, then you know the system must collapse eventually. If you understand a zero sum equation you know that too. If you don’t know it in spite of having your face ground in the truth, you’ve proved to yourself that your brain and thoughts are programmed and conditioned just as I said. The force of the advertized mass delusion is strong in you, Luke.
The lies and misdirection are designed to cover up the fact that the economy doesn’t work. It’s not just broken. It never did work. It’s always been headed for disaster. At each “correction” they just bellows up the debt kite a little higher so they can add newly minted and increasingly worthless money to the game. And the pyramid gets higher and less stable. The Fed brokers a deal and subsidizes JP Morgan/Chase [that name tells a story] with $30G to pay $236M [$2/share] for the just weeks ago valued at $40G Bear-Stearns. The lies are all they’re competent to do.
They don’t know what an economy is. They want to believe that their capital, finance and trade are the heart of the economy. They are the tail wagging the dog. They’re the cart before the horse. They’re morons! But the fraud they perpetrate allows them to own or control almost all of the property, as a small number elites have for a thousand years and more. Longer in some places. In the end they don’t want to know the truth even more than they don’t want US to know it.
It’s not like it was when Sinclair Lewis wrote “Dodsworth.” Then, if Lewis based his novel on the reality of the day as Nobel Laureates are want to do, a medium scale manufacturer could make a quality products, pay decent wages and benefits, make a profit and grow relatively rich. Today they squeeze everything they can out of employees and consumers and keep all the profits for themselves. We suffer low wages and unemployment [see newspeak statistics at BLS] so they can make a profit and grow rich. The global market dictates their corporations must prosper even if we the consumers, who used also to be their workers, must starve. They don’t see that the cumulative effect, the not so invisible hand of each corporation seeking its own profit, has destroyed the consumers who are the source of profit on the products that today they import instead of producing.
And they don’t even make real products anymore. They live by abstract economies of usury, investment in credit and trade that’s really just transactions attached to commerce between producers and consumers by useless parasites, who never see a product. And the trade deficit grows as the dollar shrinks because everything is imported and nothing is manufactured here that we can trade. Import without export is not trade, it’s debt and dependence. They think they’re manufacturers who have been driven by the market to seek cheap labor but they are importers with nothing but the FEDs greenbacks to trade. As time goes on we sink to the lowest of common denominator of intelligence, morality and scruples to get these increasingly worthless dollars.
Our idiot leaders and business people think themselves geniuses for having contrived the subprime scam, the MBSs, the CDSs and the rest of the derivative frauds. They don’t know the ability to produce real wealth was moved to China, while they stashed the cash in Caribbean banks. They don’t know their genius has destroyed the American economy. But they exhibit a little less hubris now. They want the government, who is supposed, in the name of deregulation and free enterprise, to stay out of their ruinous business, to pick up the pieces in such a way that they get to keep their ill-gotten gains and their corrupt and parasitic control the economy we all depend on to live. It may have still been possible to be an honest manufacturer in Sinclair Lewis’s days or at least in his novel. The world that the ideal characters of Ayn Rand’s imagination created has never existed and never will. Oh well, Rand was no more naive than Milton Friedman.
But the Bush administration is undaunted by the harsh truth. They distract US from what they’re stealing from US in Iraq with the danger they’re creating in Iran. Chomsky - insight
I’ve never heard or read an economist or anyone else who understands what an economy is. They speak of the money supplies, (we’re often distracted by desire to believe money can have intrinsic value rather than be what it is, a medium of exchange) trade deficits, debt levels and abstract instruments of profit and usury that exist as an appendage to the economic activity but don’t describe the process upon which such superfluous actions depend. Instead they falsely see finance, banking and investment, as the economy, instead of parasitic on the economy. They place the trailer before the tractor. So here it is: the basic economy is the commerce between consumers and producers. A sustainable basic economy requires reciprocal and balanced production and consumption. Those who consume must produce an equal amount to trade with other producer/consumers.
If we don’t balance production and consumption of products in the first place, no balanced trade is possible.
The current economic crisis like all before it comes of the desire of the few to have more and more of the wealth of the community for themselves. It’s in their face again as it was in the 1930s but they won’t see it. They’ll blame the victims of their greed as they always do. Since the day when Christ drove the money changers from the temple and sealed His fate, the elite rich rulers, the aforementioned money changers who control the bureaucrats of both conqueror and occupied, have made scape goats of troublemakers to cover their own crimes. Christ had the effrontery to name them the parasites. We’ll likely stay on the greedy road to self destruction because we won’t give up our false beliefs and delusional pretensions to grandeur. We won’t see that finance, investment and banking are a fraud by which the elites loot our real economy. Economists don’t even know what a real economy is.
I'll feed myself and provide other necessary resources so that I may continue to write.
A G Kaiser