Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Theft of the Wealth of Our Nation

A slow motion near-recession has steamrolled the middle-class for the past two to three years. As the income of the average worker held steady at best, and the purchasing power of the dollar declined while health costs soared, and Wall Street raked in record profits. CEO's enjoyed massive compensation packages and the economy was deemed to be in good shape. "The fundamentals of the economy are strong," was uttered by many long before McCain (he was just the last one to get that this was not true). The free market, we were assured, would take care of everything.

Now the flaws of the predatory phase of capitalism have been laid bare. But what do we hear from the free market profiteers who told us the invisible hand of the market would take care of it all? We hear a cry for a bailout and we see the all too visible hand reaching out for the money of the people.

This is not a bailout. It is theft. Theft from the common good. Already we are being told that whoever is the next president will have to scale back his agenda. In other words, it is too important for rich people to get richer than it is for you and your children to have health care. It is too important for greedy investment banks to be rescued from their own incompetence than for your parents and grandparents to have a secure future.

Isn't it just an incredible coincidence that this has all come to pass as the Bush Administration winds down? After privatizing essential services of the government in order to further enrich the already rich, we now are on the brink of nationalizing the debt of the private sector. Is there anything left to take? Guard the White House silverware on January 20th.

Fancifully, some are calling the bailout socialism. If it were socialism the average worker would see the reward and the banks would be howling. Socialism would see the government take control of the assets of the bank and sort out this tangle of greed. What the current approach will be is the government (of the people: you and me) will get all the bad debt and give the incompetent and greedy who caused this billions of dollars. This is buying swamp land in Florida and being told that it's "waterfront." Call this what it is: this is fraud, this is theft. Robin Hood in reverse. Welfare for CEO's.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Invisible Hand Picks Your Pocket

Capitalists and corporatists love to blather about the wisdom of the "Invisible Hand of the Market." Adam Smith conceived the idea as a maxim that suggested as an individual pursued his/her own interests that this also helped those within his/her community. There is an underlying suggestion that bad actors are punished due to the harm to their reputation and the resulting wariness of those conducting business with them.

The Invisible Hand is a nice metaphor that suggests a sense of quaint, rural living where everyone knows everyone and your reputation means something. It is only natural that robber barons would use imagery that seems so comforting. Let's drop in a little "Don't Worry, Be Happy," as the soundtrack.

The mortgage crisis meltdown continues and everyday people are losing their homes at a record rate while investment banks, predatory lenders and AIG are bailed out because they are seen as too important to fail. Where is the Invisible Hand? That's just it. That is their argument. These corporate cretins who have manufactured this crisis through their greed truly do believe that they are so important to the rest of us that they must be subsidized. All praise the Invisible Hand from which all profits flow.

But when the profits quit rolling and the accounting is due, capitalism just won't do. It is truly stunning to witness rabid free-market capitalists demand government subsidies to support their incompetence. Privatize the profits, socialize the costs. The Invisible Hand seems to be up to something.

It's pulling the strings on your government and lifting the dollars right out of your pocket.
Adam Smith was a naive fool.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Conversion of the GOP on the Road to St. Paul

The Republican Party has seen the light. After years of perfecting the art of partisan rancor and the politics of personal destruction, the GOP has had a change of heart.

At least that's the official story. During the convention in St. Paul, one speaker after another decried the partisan tone in Washington and called for a new spirit of bipartisanship. In addition, there was the accompanying cry to leave personal matters and private lives out of this election.

Strange how the Republican'ts have found a need for bipartisanship and personality free politics now that they are out of power and have a busload of skeletons in the closets of their candidates. Or is that a busload of lobbyists and candidates in the closet (or bathroom as the case may be)?

The Republican'ts were so proud of their party that they made sure that it's name was not even visible to the TV audience. The only place the word Republican appeared was in small print at the top of each state's name. If you weren't looking, you would have missed it.

They now claim the mantle of the party of reform. Mavericks at the helm, they now ask us to believe their conversion is complete. "We have changed," is the battle cry. "Just give us four more years, and you'll see, this time we'll get it right." Oh yeah, and while you're at it don't ask us any embarrassing questions or point to the hypocrisy of our campaign. You see, the new GOP doesn't go in for that.

Just another charlatan claiming to have seen the light, holding out the promise of better times. Is the electorate stupid enough to fall for this doublespeak. The Republican'ts seem to think so.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Enough with the Cowboys

We now have two mavericks on the Republican ticket. At least that's how they want to be seen by the voters. McCain wants us to believe that after a quarter-of-a-century in Washington that he is a rebel. What he is really telling us is that he is another impulsive yahoo who values form over substance. The selection of the moose hunter, Sarah Palin only serves to bolster his credentials as a loose cannon.

Hasn't this country had enough of cowboy diplomacy? From the pomposity of Reagan the horseman to the jangling of Bush's spurs, a reckless attitude that values braggadocio over intellect, politics over policy has pervaded our system and diminished our country. Cowboys and their politics belong in the past.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. mnn.com. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer