Saturday, October 8, 2011

Things Gone Wrong

For this I will revoke my usual third person and use first.

For the last months and weeks I have had scores of topics racing through my mind about which I could express the turmoil which is seething inside. Whether or not I have the right to even experience this moral rage, I cannot answer. Perhaps some wise man could say...I do not know. I do not think that anyone gave me the right to be a judge of my fellow man. ...but I think of it more as a judgement of collective faults and conditions and not necessarily the judgement of individuals. Things do seem to go wrong when human beings team up to carry out the deeds of their worst angels. ... things have gone terribly wrong.

It seems that we have the propensity for the escalation of evil. Temptations seem so easily to out wrestle us. We succumb with little resistance...almost with pleasure, especially when we are enjoined with those who mingle their weaknesses with our own. Things have really gone wrong.

The thing that is so troubling is that hundreds of years of human progress, with democracy functioning for the benefit of all classes of people, has been reversed. There seems to be a propensity for elites to gain control of the state even in a democracy and to use it selfishly for their insatiable appetites and pleasures. The 1% have lives of pleasure and plenty, the 99% are collateral damage who mainly serve the purpose of providing the fodder consumed by the elites. I believed that the right to vote would easily defeat such tyranny...I was wrong. Things have turned for the worse.

This problem is not just one of the rich nation we are, but a problem of how the entire world has adopted the economic model which we have created. In err they have observed our wealth and ease and concluded that our example is to be followed in their own pursuit of happiness. Whats more, the masses of the world have been caught in nothing more than the ideas of the old original European "colonialism" where human beings are just dust under foot, their land to be polluted, their labor to be exploited and their riches taken with out consent into the upper echelons of "the market". Too damn bad if you are at the bottom of the heap! Things have gone from bad to worse.

A ray of hope has arisen. "Occupy Wall Street"...! When you watch the parades of protesters, the crowds, you read the signs, you see in evidence... lives which have been destroyed, jobs, homes have been lost, bankruptcies have occurred! Veterans who gave their essence have come home to a nothingness after having felt they were protecting the homeland with their very lives. You see they have not quite yet given up. They reached inside for the will to make things change. Some faith is still left.

The political power which we all know exists of a people united to a common cause, rests in them and only needs to be awakened. It only needs to be believed. The power is there to make things better and is sublimely dwelling and waiting for the numbers to swell. ...and when the numbers are enough, it becomes a tide...a tsunami! I dream of it's sweep, of it's power to cleanse corruption, to hold accountable the high crimes against the people. A fresh start is possible but it requires "E Pluribus unium".

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Heed or Not To, That is the Question

It is attributed to Santayana that he said, "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

We homo-sapiens will always live in a struggle between our better natures and our lesser. Today we are fortunate to have had for 200 plus years, documents which contain the rules, and supply the guidelines to experience human liberty and happiness. We are constantly torn by the temptation to stray from them to our own misery and destruction, the same misery we meet out to other peoples. Again and again over the ages our species will be required to decide if we will live by what we have learned, become ignorant of it, or simply ignore what we know to be the right path.

We are at that cross roads again now. Will we have a Republic or an Empire? Will we respect human rights and liberty or will we voluntarily turn those over to the state? If the people of our era are bored with the preservation of liberty our children will have to start from scratch again.

The editorial followed by two other commentaries in the July 18, 2011 of Nation magazine have nimbly given light to these problems. The editorial is EMPIRE OR REPUBLIC? The commentaries are: COMING OUT FOR CHANGE, and THE WAR ON CIVIL LIBERTIES.

Give it a look.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The American Dream

The dream of America has been trumped by "The American Dream". It started at the beginning when the idea of the "consent of the governed" was superseded by the profit motive and those whose dream of democracy somehow included the free labor of human beings "without their consent". By the time the issue came to an impasse, the American Civil War, there were more than 4 million slaves in these United States, the "land of the free and home of the brave".

The profit motive is still the source of our cultures willingness to give up most all of the ideals we so loudly trumpet on national holidays like Independence Day. All the talk about "inalienable rights", "justice for all", liberty, and republican democratic principles, rings hollow in the face of the rights of big business to trample those ideals under foot.

Alexander Hamilton was indeed a genius. His ability to single handedly form an economic blueprint to make the "private sector" the most powerful economic juggernaut in the history of man is astounding! Almost as astounding as the "trues" presented in Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS. The myth of "Free Trade" is older than The Constitution and seems to be more successful than the myth of Noah's ark full of animals and insects. ...anyway it's what we are all living by at present...with or without our consent.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

A most serious national issue of our time is "...justice for all". Our pledge to the flag claiming that our republic provides "...justice for all" is presently a matter of some question. The question is, who is to be prosecuted and who is not...for serious crimes and minor ones.

A vast difference exists between being accused for possession of marijuana and conspiring to create fraudulent financial instruments which we have labeled "sub-prime" loans then packaging and selling them to unsuspecting investors. One is a much worse crime than the other. There is a good reason the latter is worse...because it affects so many people. This fact is why the US Constitution labels impeachable offenses as "high" crimes and misdemeanors, because the actions of an individual of "high" office, like judges, and other elected officials affect millions of other people. So does the actions of big banks.

We are very successful at prosecuting ordinary crime here in the US...with the highest per capita rate of incarceration in the world: 737 persons per 100,000, but white collar crime is not prosecuted so well... or even investigated so well. How many bankers and Wall Street tycoons have been hauled into court over the 2007-2008 sub-prime lending fraud? Was this the perfect crime? We were told the super-banks were "too big to fail". Apparently they were "too big to jail" because they were "too big to prosecute". The Regan era Savings and Loan Scandal resulted in more than 1,000 prosecutions. The 2007 Sub-prime: zero.

Failure to prosecute criminal activity by corporations is a new policy of the Department of Justice since about 2003. It is called "deferred prosecution agreements". The guilty company agrees to "do better", pay a big fine(which has been included in previous plans as a part of doing business), and the criminal charges are dropped or amnesty or immunity are granted. No one has to stand trial or go to jail. The policy is to bolster investor confidence. It's great for business since criminal indictments and trials are potential death sentences for corporations. They can continue on with "business as usual".

Theodore Roosevelt said, "This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat..."

If we are OK with the idea of crime without punishment, where is our "justice for all"? Should not all Americans be equal before the law? Rich or Poor? Mighty or humble? In November 1956 President Eisenhower said, "...we cannot subscribe to one law for the weak, another law for the strong...there can be only one law..."