Government


Government and Politics07 Jan 2015 02:03 pm

To Protect and To Serve is the motto of the LAPD which has been adopted by many police departments throughout the US. It’s popularity is due to the fact that it succinctly states the goal, purpose and ideal of law enforcement officers. Wikipedia states the following version, “A police force is a constituted body of persons empowered by the state to enforce the law, protect property, and limit civil disorder”.

The power given to the police is generally to assist in their ability to protect the public from personal harm and loss of one’s possessions by criminal means. The police are given weapons and jurisdictions to make sure we are protected as are our civil rights by aiding their ability to enforce the law.

Yet, recent events call into question if the role and purpose of the police has been forgotten, lost or completely altered. Lately the ideas of serving their bosses and enforcing the law have gone through some pretty startling changes.

The recent confrontations between the public and police officers has centered around the feeling that some police officers at times use their power to abuse, kill and terrorize citizens. Statistics regarding race and economic status strongly suggest that there are those in our society who are not only profiled, but actually targeted by law enforcement. Likewise, the escalating numbers of those in the US imprisoned seems to suggest that our legal system is highly motivated to fill jail cells. The rise of for profit prisons which need, get subsidized and assisted in maintaining a 90% occupancy rate seems to testify to an economic and political need to arrest and convict a steady stream of citizens.

Corruption is a part of almost any body or workers or professionals. Almost every professional body, company and agency has means of finding and punishing internal corruption and malfeasance. Public ire often escalates when frequent reports of abuse and malfeasance regarding the behavior of a professional group surface and are not accompanied by substantial punishment, reform or convictions. This has been the case whether the perpetrators have been clergy, politicians, bankers, physicians, lawyers, teachers or police officers. The recent lack of some very high profile cases even being brought to trial let alone resulting in a conviction has made a growing percentage of the populace highly suspicious if not all out angry at the lack of “justice” or an effort to even admit a problem exists.

History has shown that power often corrupts, and that those in power often abuse their power.  Yet, the staunch blanket defense of the integrity of all police officers by their supervisors, watchdog groups and public officials flies in the face of reason and people’s general experience.

Recently our leaders have become intolerant and unappreciative of people of conscience and “whistle blowers” treating them as terrorists and enemies of the state rather than as courageous heroes or even well intentioned caring people. Our leaders repeatedly labeling police officers as heroes and patriots who put their lives on the line each and every day while true in many cases, seems to deny the reality of the relationship between power and corruption and the need for law enforcement law enforcement.

The increased militarization of our police force, through swat teams, free military hardware such as tanks, and high tech weaponry seems to call for more scrutiny and management not blanket immunity and protection. Stories routinely reported about the increased arming of governmental and quasi governmental agencies pepper our newspapers. Everything from the FBI, to homeland security and NGO’s, to bankers and the federal reserve are arming themselves with weapons and survival kits through government aid and taxpayer monies.

The recent staged reactions by the police detail assigned to NY mayor de Blasio to publicly and privately turn their backs on him when he speaks or passes by shows how far we have strayed from the motto “to protect and to serve”.

The mayor,  who as their boss is ultimately the person in charge of hiring and firing, is neither being protected nor served by his employees in blue. This is apparently due to “some of his remarks” construed by the functional leaders of the police department as “siding” with the public in their “unjustified” criticism of the police. Not only are these actions suggesting that the police are beyond corruption, conviction (the law) and improvement, but also beyond being questioned or criticized. This us versus them mentality is dangerous for people with power and weapons to have, and is a bad omen for all citizens who want justice to be based on anything other than might makes right.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court that states that the “Police Can Violate The 4th Amendment If They Are Ignorant Of The Law” just further tilts the playing field away from the rights and protections of citizens and towards the infliction of power on its own terms. In essence the decision means that law enforcement personnel can enforce their definition of law with no consequence as long as they profess ignorance of the law. The 4th amendment is not that difficult to understand and how knowledge of this amendment couldn’t be made a prerequisite to becoming a law enforcement officer is beyond defense. How can we trust our police to enforce the law, if they are not expected to know the laws they are enforcing?

It appears that many of those assigned by society to serve and protect are turning their backs on more than the mayor of NYC.

I truly believe that their are plenty of heroes in law enforcement, I just wish more of them had the courage to step forward and expose the corruption, practices and bad seed which are making a sham of the praise worthy ideals of to protect and to serve.

Jim Guido

 

Government and Music and Philosophy and Poetry and Politics and Social Issues03 Aug 2014 10:54 am

The following is the lyrics and reverie for Deus Ex Machina a song of mine which will be released as a track on the album I’m Just Saying later this week.

Deus Ex Machina

Deus ex Machina is literally “the god machine”. In ancient Greek tragedies it was a device used at the end of the play to save the day through divine intervention to extricate the lead characters from sure and utter ruin.

In this song a strong proud woman is counseled to remain patient despite the fact that the speed of life is seemingly careening out of control. The counsel of her contemporaries seem to suggest that she should take solace in her beliefs and that soon her prayers will be answered by a last minute appearance of the god machine. We moderns are likewise being asked to trust that through our faith in religion, spirituality, technology or science will be plucked out of the immanent disaster our current path seems to be on.

In the late 60’s Buckminster Fuller published a book entitled Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. The book focused on how the earth is essentially a huge spaceship with a limited amount of resources which cannot be resupplied. All of the life on this self-contained ship traveling through space is fragile and mutually dependent on each other for its continued survival.

Our blatant over use of finite resources such as oil, and our continual polluting of our air and water since his book was released bear comparison to the way the characters in the old greek plays ignored the prophesies of the savants in the tragedies. Our foolhardiness becomes even more obvious when we take the analogy between the earth and a giant space ship a little further.

Imagine the fate of the Star Ship Enterprise or some other city sized spaceship, if they allowed their water and air supply to be polluted and toxic. In addition, imagine the repercussions if they routinely had battles between different sectors of the ship in which passengers were killed and their living environment (hardware) were destroyed. How long would the voyage last?

The interdependence of organic and sentient life is a functional and practical reality, while our concepts of nation, political ideology, belief and judgment are relatively arbitrary. Without trees we could not breathe, nor could our bodies function and survive without germs and bacteria. The kill of be killed philosophy which dominates our modern world view is misguided and untenable. Strategies of how to coexist should not be relegated to the realm of utopia or idealism, for they are essential to our continual survival.

Words of hope, promise, and national or ethnic superiority pale in comparison to the importance of actions which increase the quality of life for all the inhabitants of space ship earth. The earth is a lush and vibrant planet due more to the ability of organic life to cooperate, adapt, harmonize and thrive than for its ability for individual organisms to defeat and destroy other organisms. While each individual organism must eat or perish, they also depend on the overall health and expansion of all life on the planet for their continued existence.

People turn a blind eye to the atrocities done in their name, or even defend, justify and support the actions of governments which are destroying people and nature. We are endangered by nuclear warheads and accidents, the degradation and increased toxicity of our water and air, the destruction of arable land and the overuse of non replenish-able resources. The earths growing population and advances in technology have created the opportunity for us to have killed and caused more human suffering than any previous empire on earth. We have killed millions upon millions of innocents under the ironic and absurd pretext of giving people their freedom.

So should we be like the ancient Greeks and still pin our hopes on divine intervention or the eleventh hour appearance of a god machine?

The earth has successfully dealt with every crisis it has faced. Despite the fact that life has always been fragile and survival has always been a reality, life on our planet has not only persisted but flourished. The earth is the only blue/green planet that our science has been able to find, so our planet had to do something right in order to create and support organic life. All we have to do is tap into and continue the tradition of our flourishing planet.

Deus Ex Machina

Deluge of broken comedies, the joker licks the steam
Laura struggles to make it better puts her pride in relief
The treadmill keeps moving faster all is on the increase
Before you slip into the chasm enter the god machine

Keep your toes on the line don’t trip on that line, trip on that line
Your hopes are in the future, so they tell you, so they tell you
So they tell you, so they sell you all will be improve a little later
Running cold, running bold, running blind, can you set the pace?

Lunge onward in darkness blindfolded by the mask of innocence
Walk softly pretty lady have faith in the guiding hand
Take a sleep on stony ground, not much you can do with this land
Listen safe to the deep voice that tells you what lies below

It’s cold, so cold and shady but a few yards yonder lies a brook
You can rest there for awhile, rest there lover
All looks so bleak, the edge of defeat, have faith in some alien god machine
Kiss the treasure the golden dream for here comes the god machine

Adorable god of fortune is late upon the scene
Make me shiver in wonder of your awesome majesty
Pluck us from the danger, the climactic deed
If you’re made of plaster what awaits sweet destiny?

Golden idol of reason celestial or divine
Save us at eleven before our last midnight
All looks so bleak, the edge of defeat, have faith in some alien god machine
Kiss the treasure the golden dream for here comes the god machine
Deus ex machina
Enter the god machine
Deus ex machina

Economics and Government and Social Issues23 Jun 2014 03:07 pm

Since our global community seems to be moving in the direction of increased wealth and power going into fewer and fewer hands it is logical to conclude that there is a diminishing inner core of power lords disseminated about the planet.

If you were to teach a course on how to become a power lord or power broker, what would you advise? If we were to devise the typical or ideal personality profile what would it look like? While such an investigation could be quite elaborate and lengthy, we’ll offer some initial logical assumptions regarding the basic personality structure of your typical power lord.

Since power and wealth are the goal of many extremely competitive and ambitious individuals it is highly unlikely that a person lacking in these qualities would rise to the top of the power lord world, especially considering that our basic economic structures promote and reward selfishness, obsessiveness and hyper competitiveness.

It would seem safe to assume that empathy and compassion would be obstacles to the sort of self-aggrandizement and single mindedness it takes in order to rise to the top in the worlds of wealth and power. A person who is compassionate or egalitarian by nature would not be able nor willing to compete in the winner takes all manner that is the way of the most ambitious in the realms of wealth and power.

I think it would be safe to say that one doesn’t become or remain a power lord without an insatiable thirst for wealth and power. The key world here is insatiable. If one wishes to be a power lord there is no end point to their ambition. If there is, they will be defeated or replaced by someone who is more devoted to the task at hand.

The goal of the aspiring power lord is to win the moment. In almost each and every transaction and interaction they must come out the victor. In every defeat they are put at a greater disadvantage to their fellow competitors.

While strategy and planning are important and beneficial towards winning and staying on top, most power lords would have to be acutely aware that projections and predictions inherent in planning become less accurate in larger and larger time frames. Couple this with the uselessness of long term plans if you continue to lose in the present and this creates a very utilitarian obsession with the present.

In other words power lords by necessity of the dynamics of competition always have to remain relatively short sighted. Continued success often depends on their ability to access the necessary resources, technology and legal clout in order to deal with problems that arise. They have a utilitarian faith in progress and invention and can often point out how their critics and those predicting the end of the world have been wrong for generations and that the pragmatic optimism in “where there’s a will there’s a way” has served them well.

The irony for the aspiring power lord is that while they are playing an economic and political game of musical chairs in which they must be they last person seated, they also are dependent on business alliances and the general trust and support and trust of the general populace.

This basic fact of their dependency on the trust and support of others necessitates that they must hide their end goals from everyone, in some cases even from themselves. If not the top tier, at least the higher tiers in the race for wealth and power must be populated by con men and sociopaths. Even an obviously power grabbing dictator is dependent on an inner circle of compatriots that trust and believe that their loyalty and efforts will result in their sharing in the spoils.

The goal of power and wealth seems to require a very utilitarian view of others as a means to an end. Competition on this grand of a scale would make any genuine humanitarian feeling or bond with others a weakness supplying your adversaries with the means to defeat you. If the goal is defeating everyone to become the defending champion of ultimate wealth and power, then how can you be anything but cold and alone? The logical conclusion for the power lord is that success, wealth and power are their only remaining companions.

As far as we can tell their still is a community of power lords and a champion has not been declared. This could signal that at some point even the most ambitious and successful power lords find a need for friends and allies, or it could mean that the game still has farther to go.

One might conclude from the logic of the above discussion that I am a pessimist or feel that power lords are inevitable and the lot of the general populace are to be pawns at best and victims and casualties at worse. While ambitious and selfish people always have and most likely will exist, I feel that our current economic and political structures are custom made for power lords to exist and thrive.

The so called “capitalistic meritocracy” that we live in, is a paradise for sociopathic con men, selfish obsessive personalties, pirates, and all out exploiters. We could just as easily construct a society that rewards genuine humanitarianism, compassion and egalitarianism.

As Plato observed: “Power should be confined to those who are not in love with it.”

Our capitalistic economy fosters a sense of lack, a need to fill oneself through consuming. Business success often depends on convincing people that they need a product, that their lives will be less than if they do not make the purchase. Doesn’t this business reality make salesman into con man and exploiters of others? It seems probable if not inevitable that such logic fosters exaggeration, deception and misrepresentation?

It is relatively easy to be successful selling a product that is addictive, it literally sells itself. Is it then not logical that exploiting peoples addictions, compulsions and weaknesses becomes part and parcel of a lot of commerce?

The biggest and most deceiving sell job is that this system of exploitation and economic opportunism is both necessary and at the very core of progress. We are told that without economic competition and equality our quality of life would plummet.

The discontented currently rule the world, they are the power lords. They shape and control the message, and have the majority of people accept their lies and personally convenient world view. Here are the lyrics to a song of mine which are pertinent to this discussion.

The Discontented Rule the World                                                       8/31/13

A contented man seldom worries
A contented man does not hate
A contented woman needs no ambition
A contented woman is able to wait

The Discontended Rule the World

The contended man savors conversation
The contended man enjoys the day
The contented woman is open to pleasure
The contented woman finds joy in play

The discontented rule the world
The discontented abuse the world
The discontented cause us pain
The discontented mock the sane

My contentment nestled in delight
My contentment welling up inside
My contentment whispered in my sigh
My contentment permeates my life

The discontented are always plotting
contesting, battlings and forever defeating
The discontented are not to be trusted
they’ll never own enough even when you’re busted

The discontented rule the world
The discontented abuse the world
The contented have no urge to rule

______________________________________________

I’d like to expand on the last line of the song. While contented people likely have no need to rule over others, they often do enjoy serving and helping others. If our society was structured in a more compassionate and life enhancing manner than those elected would fulfill the role we originally envisioned for them. Elected officials could behave and aspire to truly be “public servants”. The current goals of capitalism make a mockery of the ideals of democracy.

I find it intriguing how often we view some of the most powerful and wealthy people on the planet as being incompetent and powerless. We invest these people with the purest of intentions and judge the success of their actions by these supposed goals and values.

While the actions of the president, congress and federal reserve almost always benefit the interests of the few or support the agenda of ruthless power, we view them as incompetent or failing to fulfill their objective to represent our interests. While almost every action of our government is most easily explained as successfully protecting the interests of the elite and the empire, we instead think that they have bungled their attempts to spread democracy and freedom throughout the world.

The actions of the federal reserve are easily viewed as consistent and successful when you evaluate their actions as a private banking cartel looking to maximize their profits and those of their associates rather than their attempting to mange inflation, boost the economy or assist the job market. Yet, despite these glaring contradictions we would rather view these highly intelligent, successful and powerful people as out of touch or misguided. We may insult their abilities, but we never question their intentions.

While one may conclude that I am not a big fan of the actions and goals of the power elite, I think the discussion above demonstrates that they are very gifted and dedicated people. They are in the position they are in because they are sophisticated and talented enough to know how to win and be successful. Their apparent failure and struggles of meeting their goals is very inconsistent with their nature and history. It is more probable that they are acting as con men getting us to believe or invest in them values and goals which are inaccurate, and they instead (the president, federal government, central bankers, and economic elite) are successfully fulfilling their actual goals.

I find this same mechanism present with a few of our more famous philanthropists. I’m not saying that philanthropy does not exist, but that sometimes people who claim to be philanthropist are power lords in sheep’s clothing. When a multi-billionaire claims to be giving back to the people through charity and works to improve the quality of life of those around the globe, but their net worth continues to expand, than that sounds more like a savvy investor and not a philanthropist.

A person who is doing charity and giving away millions and maybe even billions of dollars, while technically retired, should not be increasing their net worth. Investing is the very mechanism of giving away your money to a cause or venture which will give you a positive return on your money. If a power lord does this and calls this philanthropy it is essentially a PR maneuver or a means of taking advantage of tax breaks and other political channels allowing them access to a market that would not otherwise be able to profit from.

While it may be true that the discontent rule the world, it is only with our tacit acceptance and support. The first step towards improvement would likely involve our restructuring society in a more humanistic manner (not as hard as they would like you to believe), and for us to stop revering and trusting the very people who are ignoring and injuring our best interests. Jim Guido

Government and Politics and Social Issues18 Apr 2014 02:03 pm

The desire to be free and the need to protect our freedom has been a declared hallmark of modern civilized societies for the last several centuries. Personal liberty and one’s reputation are valued as rights to be earned through honoring the social contract. In fact in most societies the government’s main purpose is to insure that the freedoms of law abiding individuals are protected and insured. The phrase “give me liberty or give me death” attributed to Patrick Henry became a truism of the American culture. Imprisonment and slavery have replaced exile as the harshest punishment short of death that a society can inflict upon an individual.

You would expect and assume that a society that places such a high value on freedom would make every effort to insure that someone’s freedom was not taken from them unnecessarily or unjustly. You would think the act of terminating one’s freedom would be done as a last resort and only after every other alternative had been exhausted. Surely you would think that every effort and precaution would be taken to insure that a person would not falsely or mistakenly have their freedom taken from them. While all the sentiments regarding the essential primacy of freedom are ideals of our judicial system, its basic structure and functioning tell quite a different story.

Yet, while being judged by a jury of your peers and having witnesses take an oath to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth” seems like a good start, the very trial process is littered with obstacles and priorities which make truth and justice fairly inconsequential. In the majority of situations witnesses are asked yes and no questions which are designed to only yield the aspects of fact and truth which support the lawyers agenda. Any attempt by a witness to actually tell the whole truth is suppressed and redirected and if the witness persists in attempting to give a full and balanced reply to the question they could be held in contempt for “refusing to answer the question”.

In fact, one could say, that in a trial truth is a commodity used and exploited in the name of the higher purpose of the attorneys and that is to win the case. While witnesses take an oath to honesty, lawyers do not. Their ethic and currency is not truth, but on presenting the best and most biased case possible to support the portrayal of events in the way they want them to be viewed.

In the case of wrongful harm such as theft, assault or such the best interest of the victim would be to have the perpetrator imprisoned, rehabilitated and restitution extracted from him whenever possible. Yet, the prosecutor’s main goal is not to identify the true perpetrator and bring him to trial, but only to prosecute the man who for whatever reason stands accused.

Our system does not foster a true dedication towards finding out the truth, neither does it truly protect nor insure one’s freedom. Instead, the trial process is a contest between two opposing sides in which lawyers use all devices at their disposal to have their side win. Witnesses are asked questions in ways which emphasize desired perceptions and trigger emotional biases in jurors to carry the day.

Our system of justice seems rather callous when you think of what is at stake. When a person’s freedom and long term reputation hang in the balance you would think we could gear our judicial practices less towards winning and more towards discovering whether someone acted in a way deserving of the loss of their freedom.

A great deal of a trial lawyers education and ongoing professional instruction centers around the science of how to convince and influence jurors. Lawyers make a science out of how to speak, make references and influence jurors in subliminal and unconscious manners in order to get their support with no inherent regard to the actual innocence or guilt of the person accused. Making and winning a case, not attaining the truth, is the order of the day.

While the truth is often difficult and sometimes impossible to ascertain, considering what’s at stake, we should make every conceivable effort and devote the bulk of the trial process to arrive at certainty. In those cases where certainty is unattainable than and a person’s freedom should not be taken away.

What then would a judicial process dedicated to the truth look like? It would involve all parties working together to find out the truth and then after the truth has been discovered they the prosecution and defense could present the mitigating, heinous or chronic circumstances which help judge and jurors determine the best course of action.

Our economic system is structured in competition where distortion, exaggeration and biased perspective are somewhat indigenous to sales and commerce. The more pervasive our market based brand of capitalism is in our lives, the more dishonesty and deception become interwoven into our moment to moment experience.

The techniques of misrepresentation, exaggeration and deception have seeped out of commerce and have invaded our social, political and even spiritual existences. Yet, even if we were to find sufficient reason to continue to misrepresent, deceive and exploit in other aspects of social economic interaction, we should make truth and honesty foremost when it directly impacts one’s very freedom and the carrying out of justice.

Considering what’s at stake serving as a juror should be a treated as a solemn and venerable responsibility. Our civic courses should include instruction on the meaning and duty of serving as a juror. If we truly wanted jurors to appreciate the gravity and importance of the task at hand, they should be well compensated for their time serving. Currently, a sizable portion of the populace try to avoid doing jury duty and view it as a nuisance. It is the rare person who equates the preserving of the ideal of freedom and justice with the process of serving on a jury.

We still pose ourselves internationally as a beacon of freedom and justice.  In fact our government feels it is our moral duty to meddle, intervene and when possible alter the “immoral” and “unjust” practices, governments and leaders of nations throughout the globe. The fact that our nation finds it necessary to imprison the highest percentage of its citizens than any other nation on the planet does not strike them as odd or hypocritical. Yet, if we are such a moral and free society, than how we can  justify a system that removes the freedom of so many of its citizens. Are we more immoral than others? Or do other nations such as our European allies just let 9 times as more dangerous and immoral criminals undeserving of freedom to roam their streets and work in their businesses?

While this tendency of ours to jail segments of our population, especially minorities and the poor, at a high percentage has been going on for decades we could point out one disturbing dynamic. We mentioned above the dangers of having our system of justice and with it people’s very freedom being dependent on economic competitive factors which supplant truth and justice as the primary concern. Over the last few decades the trend towards privatization of prisons has grown considerably. In order for these prisons to succeed and make a profit they need to retain a rather high occupancy rate, which means they will not be able to survive unless our conviction and imprisonment rate stays high if not continue to increase.

While there are literally hundreds of fine articles discussing the increased role and function of privately owned prisons and their impact on the job market and its impact on our justice system you could start with the following as an introduction: Privatization of the US Prison System

The damages done to lives by white color crime while at least as significant as those caused by poor substance users or petty thieves, yet the percentage of people who go to jail for breaking laws which destroy people’s financial and practical existences is disproportionately low, and in some cases such as banking fraud almost nil. Our system of justice seems to value the freedom of the wealthy, regardless of the severity of their harm, to the freedom of the poor or minorities. While we officially ended slavery long ago, some would make the case that our prisons have done a rather decent job of continuing the actual practice of slavery by taking away the freedoms of minorities through imbalanced incarceration.

While this possibility is worthy of discussion it is not the central issue of this post which is just the relatively flippant way our society through its competitive trial system treats the reality of human freedom. I personally find it very disturbing when the main goal of a trial isn’t the truth regarding the innocence or guilt of the accused, but in the winning of a case by the prosecution or a defense attorney. As mentioned before certainty and truth are not always attainable, but we should at least devise a system which is devoted to and maximizes all energies towards the uncovering of as much fact and truth as possible. Personal freedom and social justice truly deserve our finest efforts, and should not be reduced to possible outcomes of a system of justice built on personal competition between lawyers measuring their success through winning cases even when the odds and facts are not in their favor.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Psychology and Social Issues and Stock Market28 Feb 2014 01:45 pm

While most of our attention is focused on our “losing jobs” to China, India and many emerging or third world nations, we may be missing the more important ways in which our basic economic structure is changing. In many ways it appears that our Industrial Free Market Economy is being transformed into a economic system based on Financial Instruments.

Over the last number of decades we have been referred to as a consumer based economy in which the health of the economy was dependent on the increased velocity of money being fueled by strong and generally increasing expenditure and consumption. Recessions or down turns in the economic health of the nation was accompanied by drops in consumption and expenditures. The economy “contracted” at these time periods with businesses laying off workers in response to a drop in revenues and profits as consumption stagnated or decreased.

In a society in which its economic system is dependent on the consumption of goods and services there was always a need for people to be employed and for wages to increase to support their being able to continue to consume, invest and make major purchases to stimulate the economy.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution modern societies have found an increasing need for the vast majority of citizens to fulfill three roles, that being consumer, worker/producer and soldier. The woman’s movement almost doubled the pool of possible workers and with two pay checks per household as compared to one, allowed for a sharp increase in both production and consumption.

The rising populations throughout the industrialized societies impelled its economic and political leaders to support their consumer cultures by trying to monopolize the natural resources of the globe. A surplus of oil, foodstuffs, natural gas, minerals, potable water, etc. were all needed materials and essentials to keep the consumer based economies humming and expanding.

Many so called underdeveloped nations were somewhat opposed to their surrendering these resources or not having them be the main benefactors or their economic value. The wealthier industrialized nations felt they were the proper stewards of these precious and valuable commodities and felt other nations should trust in their proper management and global dissemination.

According to the industrial nations those envious of the industrialized nations must be subdued and forcibly assisted in becoming better and more moral nations. In this manner constant protection and advancement depended on forming the most formidable of military forces which then required the role of soldier to become paramount, rivaling both the roles of consumer and produces in their importance for the continued success and functioning of the consumer culture.

The industrialized world was led by “free democratic” societies who felt their way of life threatened by the existence of totalitarian, communist and even egalitarian socialistic societies. Such political and economic diversity was not tolerable for a social economic structure that was dependent on both the increased access to and dominance of food, energy, and industrial materials and technologies by the elite industrial nations. The equating of freedom and free trade made military might and superiority not only palatable but a moral imperative. Freedom and fighting for freedom became synonymous, and the possibility of freedom without war became a somewhat mocked and unrealistic ideal.

Protecting our freedom and way of life, from the morally bankrupt and evil despots led many to “proudly serve” in the military and to support our governments policies and political agendas. These people viewed themselves and their nation as the true bastions of freedom, justice and moral righteousness.
One of the true ironies of our sense of progress and the ideal of an ever expanding worker/producer consumer culture, is the role of technology and its impact on our lives. While it is true that every advance in technology creates jobs, it is also true that most advances in technology replace more jobs and human labor than they create. Machines and inventions have almost always increased production and made businesses less dependent on human labor, or at least reduced the number of man hours necessary to produce the same number of goods.

Increases in production via technological advances has been astounding often in a geometric progression. Likewise, the areas in which technology dramatically increased production is finding itself in not only almost every area of manual labor but also in the service economy.  While the possibility of our being able to create a fully automated society freed of human labor is still up for debate, the fact that each passing day the need for a smaller and smaller percentage and number of people working is a unavoidable reality. The old truism that automation only replaces unskilled labor and jobs unfit for human beings is no longer  accurate in any sense. In fact you could say that the last decade saw more highly skilled jobs, such as surgeons and systems analysts, being replaced by robots and computers that can deal with huge reams of information, microscopic precision and nanotechnology.

Modern technology, robotics and artificial technology are overcoming human error, limitations and vulnerabilities. In many industries we can produce in a matter of hours what we most likely will consume in months or even years. As technology becomes more gifted (as workers and producers) our role as workers and producers becomes more and more unnecessary and obsolete. While this is rather easy to fathom, it is harder for most people to recognize that our role as a consumer is likewise becoming increasingly unnecessary since the last recession.

Despite rather anemic growth in consumption accompanied by rising unemployment and falling wages the stock market and corporate profits are positively booming. Those working in the sweat factories abroad are now making maybe $200 a year rather than the $100 a year they used to make. These people are replacing jobs in the industrial nations that made anywhere from $18,000 to over $40,000 a year. So while the decreased wages are cutting down on overhead, they are also greatly reducing the pool of disposable income available to buy products that should be necessary for corporate profits and stock performance.

How are corporations able to make record profits if the consumers of their products and services are unemployed, making less money, and have less disposable income available? Add to this conundrum the fact that banks have drastically cut back the number of loans given out during this entire meteoric rise in corporate profits and the stock market. Well if people have no money to spend, and they can’t borrow it, where are these record profits and stock prices coming from?

During the time which we now refer to as the Great Recession we were told that our entire financial system was in crisis and the threat of total collapse was imminent. The stock market and financial systems survival was accomplished through a massive injection of money into the marketplace via bailouts, loans and ample money printing.

While the economy continued to struggle and unemployment rose, the financial and stock markets began to show signs of not only stabilizing, but regaining the majority of losses. While the financial press continued to debate the existence of “green shoots” and whether we’d have another recession, the stock market had already doubled since its low and the housing prices were beginning to inch back up. The “jobless recovery” has never really ended while the stock and financial markets are at new all time highs. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, these new highs and corporate profits have been accomplished despite and maybe even because of a struggling economy.

In an industrial consumer economy there is a ceiling of how high profits can go in a high unemployment and low wage environment. Without jobs and expanding disposable income (higher wages) consumer spending is bound to slow down if not contract. Yet, one of the biggest and longest stock market runs in occurring in a stagnant or low growth economy where over 95% of financial gain has been acquired by the top 1% of the populace.
These facts seem to point to the fact that we no longer live in a consumer based economy and instead are experiencing the birth of a new economic model. Let’s look at some of the reasons this new model could be referred to as a financial instrument model.

The financial crisis was averted and the stock market rebounded when the Federal Reserve and other Central Banks began printing money and thereby “injecting liquidity into the marketplace”. The stock market was buoyed by relatively free money being used to buy stocks which had come down sharply in price. Troubled banks, financial institutions, and corporations were bailed out or give huge near zero percent loans to help them pay off their debts and stabilize their businesses.

While these extreme measures were implemented to avoid a catastrophe, the money printing, loans and bailouts have continued. In essence the financial behemoths which were declared too big to fail, have been receiving free freshly created money to use in any manner which they find beneficial.

Since many of these businesses are banks and other financial institutions which make no tangible merchandise or products, they have used this money to purchase financial instruments which are making a solid yield, repurchasing their own stock, and investing it in the financial world of stocks and bonds.

Many of the troubled financial institutions were saddled with bad loans and mortgages that were “under water” and had no hope of ever being paid off. The Federal Reserve took it upon themselves to purchase billions of dollars of this unserviceable through financial instruments such as mortgage backed securities to take these burdensome debts off of the books.

The transfer process was/is quite simple. The Fed would electronically create “print” money and use it to buy bad debt such as unserviceable bank loans. The debt purchased by the Fed would be transferred from the banks to the tax payer by being added to the
national debt.

The businesses and non financial corporations receiving newly created money via low interest loans and bailouts mainly chose to follow the path resulting in maximizing their short term financial gain. So, rather than lower their profit margins by increasing their overhead through building factories, hiring workers, increasing worker pay and expanding their businesses they mainly did the same as the banks and make most of their profits through stock buy backs, investing in financial instruments, and actually reducing overhead by closing factories, cutting wages and benefits, and when possible passing on expenses to the government (taxpayers).

Measures which were taken to avert an economic meltdown have now become business as usual. Money printing and financial instruments have become the way money is made by the top fraction of one percent of the populace. As long as money is being electronically created and injected into the marketplace via the coffers of the 1% there is little need for a consumer to spend his dwindling pennies on products and services. Every dollar printed just adds to the pool of money available and if that money is placed directly into the hands of the wealthiest their relative worth skyrockets as the relative wealth of everyone else plummets.

Is a Post Industrial Financial Instrument Economy sustainable? Are the financial elite going to eventually meet resistance or truly need the consumer, worker and soldier?

With each passing day advances in automation, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, surveillance, and military technology are making the roles of worker, consumer and soldier increasingly unnecessary for the acquisition and securing of wealth. Through debt, taxes, suspension of entitlements, destruction of worker rights and protections, the loss of privacy, and the legal erosion of our basic inalienable rights and freedoms we are losing any recourse we may have had to defend our role and purpose in this new global economy as well as any way to insure our economic self-determination.

The stock market is currently enjoying its longest stretch, some 60 months, without a correction of 20% or more. The longer this goes on the more it supports the possibility that we have truly entered a new economic paradigm in which automation, perceptual management and financial instruments have replaced the old rules and dynamics of an industrial based economy. While I personally think this economic paradigm coup is premature and ill fated, and the coming stock market crash will be historic in nature, I am unwilling to totally discount this new financial instrument based economy succeeding now or in the near future.

In such a world where the common man becomes superfluous at best and a burden at worst we may look back at Brave New World and 1984 as comparatively rosy views of the future.

Jim Guido

 

Economics and Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues17 May 2013 03:03 pm

My dad came to the US from Italy when he was 13 years old. My mom was born in the US in a small Italian community which was where my dad’s family eventually settled. My mom’s parents married shortly after they had come to America and quickly started a family.

My dad, who was 13 years older than my mom, lasted less than a year in public schools and began working to help support the family when he was 14. My mom lasted into her freshman year of high school, but too, had to quit school to help support the family.

My dad was a firm believer in the idea of coming to America to “make a better life”. He, like many of contemporaries, felt that hard work and sacrifice were necessary to accomplish this goal. Living in the US was seen as an opportunity to escape the poverty that had dominated his family for generations in southern Italy. Success, for him, was being able to provide for his family so that they had food on the table and would not have to spend their waking hours worrying about basic safety and survival.

After my parents married they moved to a nearby factory town on the shores of Lake Michigan. My dad took pride on his working his way up from the railway yards to become a ticket agent at a train station. He talked of his being fortunate of no longer having to do “menial labor” nor having to work in the factories that dominated local employment.

In my early years I rarely saw my dad for he found it necessary to  have a second job to make sure we could not only survive, but save some money for the future. My dad got up at four in the morning,  got ready for work and returned home about 3 in the afternoon as we were coming home from school, we than would eat before 4 so that my dad could make the evening shift at some restaurant or at the new fast food establishments.

On the rare evening my dad was at home he would take his slide rule and racing form to the kitchen table and spend hours doing the research that went into his small wagers on the horses. On weekends we either went to relatives houses many of which still lived in the Italian community a half hour away, or some relative would come to our house. Larger family parties occurred regularly celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays and church functions. On Sunday mornings we always went to church before seeing relatives for the remainder of the day.

The men in my hometown talked about work and factory life far more than any other topic. Even in family gathering it was unusual that someone didn’t vent a little frustration over their work situation, boss or the lack of security in their employment. 

Maybe it was just what we chose to watch, but the topic of labor and work even seemed to dominate the entertainment industry. I remember movies and plays which dealt with coal miners, factory workers, union strikes and the plight of failure and emptiness in characters such as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman.

While Marx was not someone my blue collar world had read, people and TV often talked about feeling the “dehumanizing” role of factory work, or how mass production work was like living in a prison, or how insulting and degrading it was to have to kowtow to every boss or supervisor and how the work itself took away a man’s sense of dignity and self-respect. Even the popular comedies on TV made numerous jokes and references to the ever present possibility of being fired or laid off.

At a very early age I became highly fearful of ending up working in a factory, or being forced to engage in some labor of endless repetition. Even the professionals in town with careers or those in management positions seemed to be kowtowing to some boss and being tethered to a long and highly structured work week.  In my mind I began to equate work with a loss of freedom, autonomy and any hope of  a decent quality of life.

My mom had worked from the age of 15 until she got married in her late 20’s. She took pride in being a strong peasant woman and in the old world values of the immigrant mother’s she idolized. She liked the role of  mother and homemaker, and took a particular delight in cooking.

My mom’s life of a housekeeper mother was filled with menial labor and “drudgery”.  Yet, the ardor of her work load and the time required to complete a task seemed to lessen with each invention and advance in appliance technology. Going from washboard to wringer was not that drastic, but the jump to washing machine was dramatic and much appreciated. Even the advance in fabrics reduced ironing time. The list of appliances, technologies and “conveniences” which reduced housekeeping time and effort was expanding on a monthly basis. Even in lower middle class families such as ourselves the quality of life of the homemaker was improving greatly.

By the time I was four or five my mom was able to entertain herself with radio or TV while she tended to her household tasks and chores. She was able to take breaks to watch a favorite program or visit with a neighbor lady for an hour or so, and still get dinner on the table by 4.  My mom actually found enough “leisure” time to reengage in hobbies/crafts of her latter childhood such as embroidery and crocheting.

Most of her daytime TV was divided into two areas. One area of interest was quiz type of programs such as “Concentration” and the other were the emotional tearjerkers such as “Queen for a Day” or the “Millionaire”. 

While the advances in technology appeared to be a boon for the housekeeper, it did not seem to improve the quality of life for the factory worker. While advance in assembly line technology did reduce the physical demand on a worker, it also reduced the scope of their activity to one part or cog of a product. No longer could they even take pride in the completion of an entire product such as a clock, radio or car, but only in the installation of a front fender, minute hand, or some other part of the complete product.

While technology reduced the time it took to housekeep and the strain the tasks took on the body, in the factory it just increased production expectations and the fears that the technology would replace your need as a worker. Advances in technology made it possible for my dad’s work load to be decreased, and he could have theoretically played a radio while he worked. Yet, his “higher ups” sent out memo’s stating playing a radio would result in termination of employment, and the railroad found many new and additional tasks for him to perform to insure that he had no free time or that his work load was reduced in any fashion or form. To the contrary it seemed that each passing day my dad was required to do more, and be responsible for more, with no additional pay.

In general I found my mom’s life more tolerable than my dad’s. I found his perpetual working, subservience to bosses, and the lack of autonomy and development of outside interests to be boring at best and humiliating at worst. I could never reconcile my relatives story of my dad’s past with the dad I knew. The man who played trumpet, read philosophy, travelled the country, was an avid Ham operator, gambled, made his own sausage, cheese and wine, etc. was  nowhere to be seen. The last vestiges of that man were only seen at the rare moments he listened intently to the opera on the radio, or took time for himself to read reflective nonfiction.

The time I remember him being the most vibrant and alive was when I was 6 or 7 and his union went on strike. My dad become a leader of the workers at this time and set up camp at the downtown hotel in our town. He shined in the role of organizer, giving people instructions, speaking at meetings and being part of the negotiations with management. Though he was glad when the strike was over, I kind of missed the dynamic man who was my dad for a short time.

My dad’s sense of pride and self-esteem had him adopt the stay at home housewife preference. He felt it was his obligation and duty to be the “breadwinner” and that he would be a failure if his wife “had to work”. Yet, when I was 8 years old my mom decided that since all the kids (I was the youngest) were fairly self-sufficient that she wanted to do more to help make our family financially more comfortable. It took only a couple of weeks to convince my dad that she nor their friends would think she “had to work”, but that she just wanted a new challenge and it would allow my sister an opportunity to learn how to cook and manage a home.

My dad helped my mom get a job as a ticket agent at another station on the same line as my dad. She enjoyed the challenge and it gave them a shared interest which brought them closer together. Yet, it wasn’t long before the luster of the new job wore off, and my mom began to complain about the routine just like all the men. Yet, at the end of the day the sense of financial security she got from the job outweighed its deficits and she stayed on the job until about a year after she was robbed at gunpoint and never again felt safe at work.

By the time I got to high school I had made the following assessments of the world and lives of men and women.  I viewed being male as having almost no options and being destined to a laborious life spent in servitude, with little hope of privacy, autonomy or time for personal development. Most of the men I knew seemed empty, emotionally vacant and resentful. The boys my age were trying to sow a few wild oats before conforming to the fate of being male.

I did have some distant male relatives who lived in Italian communities or neighborhoods that seemed to truly enjoy their lives. They were artists, musicians, entrepreneurs (organized crime?), or individuals who somehow got by with minimal labor. They were fun loving, funny, emotional, and their lives seemed to be filled with meaningful relationships. Quality of life, joy and relationships were their priorities and they made you feel good just to be able to bask in their energy.

The Italian lover’s of life philosophy summed up by the colloquialism “dolce far niente”  (sweet idleness) was something that I harmonized with. Another version of this Italian art of living philosophy was offered by North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano when after being diagnosed with cancer  said: “To me, there are three things we all should do every day…..You should laugh every day…You should spend time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears…If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special”…

The life of most of the adults I knew seemed hollow and meaningless. Life seemed too incredible and precious to me, to waste it in toil or mindless activity. Most men were doomed to an empty existence of endless labor, we had no choice in the matter. Women on the other hand were beginning to have options, my mom could work or stay at home. Technology and social change were opening a whole new world to women in which they began to talk of issues such as“quality of life”, “consciousness raising”, “intimacy” and the richness of human emotion and experience.

Just when I was beginning to feel that I would have little or no opportunity to lead a fulfilling and rich existence the women’s movement emerged as a beacon for a vision of living a quality life. While the majority of men were consigned to a life of labor and subjugation, a growing percentage of women were entering a new age of self-exploration and enlightenment.

I remember watching the Phil Donahue show and feeling a growing sense of hope and optimism. Women were leading a discussion on the direction of society. The gospel of the women’s movement seemed to be that men were leading an empty life of labor, ambition and the thirst for power, and that women were in danger of leading a “shallow” and “superficial” life filled with pettiness and gossip. Women were being called upon to join together in a quest for a fulfilling and meaningful life. A life of freedom, dignity, respect and personal development. 

The majority of my male friends in high school were either already becoming emotionally vacant and empty, or just partying until the music stopped. My female friends were more into self-disclosure and talking about their feelings. 

I became close to a small group of verbal guys who talked at length on science, philosophy and the future. I also found another mixed group of friends who talked about art, literature, music and social revolution. The majority of female friends I had, talked about relationships, human communication and the soap opera of adolescence. 

Though I sometimes found the conversation of my female friends to be petty or emotionally tedious it was far preferable to the alternative. I found myself introducing or advocating my female friends to become more engaged in the women’s movement and its basic philosophy.

Advances in technology were already showing that automation was the future, and that many factory jobs could be replaced by automated machines working faster and more efficiently than human workers. We already were showing signs of having too many workers for too few jobs, and that productivity goals could be met through less full time workers.

The women’s movement and pop psychology were informing us that “self-actualization” and “intimacy” were far more important than work/labor and making money. That, in fact, monetary ambition and long working hours were injurious to health, quality of life, and the development and maintenance of fulfilling friendships and enduring familial relationships.

Despite the murder of some very important leaders of social change much had been accomplished not only in the growth of the women’s movement, but civil rights, and the ecological and anti-war movements. Watchdog agencies, whistleblowers and journalists were exposing the corruption in government, business, medicine, finance, academia, the media and the military in a way that seemed to promise better management and accountability.

Human dignity and respect was on the rise for workers, women, minorities and students. Fear and hatred was being replaced by tolerance and understanding. The landing on the moon had been a sign that we can accomplish anything we commit ourselves to and that war, poverty, and world hunger were problems we could address and solve.

We are fond of saying that it is darkest before the dawn, yet one person’s dawn is another persons dusk. And just at the moment when I felt that the journey of self-actualization and quality of life was about to take flight, the forces of anger, control, hatred, and oppression seemed to silently turn us back towards the prison we just escaped.

Almost overnight the messages of personal development, quality of life, human intimacy, freedom and autonomy were being subtly modified and replaced with messages speaking of consumption, making money, and national and cultural superiority. 

The advertising and business world targeted minorities, women, and students as emerging lucrative consumer markets. Equating new found freedoms and social status with making money, consumption and having a new and expensive image. Drinking malt liquor and wearing specific clothes became synonymous with being a hip and successful black person. Virginia Slim’s proclaimed, “you’ve come a long way baby”, to hawk a product “designed for the modern woman”. 

Soon the women’s movement humanistic message of quality of life and intimacy became lost in the desire for equal pay and full employment. Entering the evil and destructive male dominated world of power, money, servitude and labor became the goal and battle cry of the movement. 

While I fully supported equality and rights for all, I felt stunned that the goal had now become for all to become slaves to money, labor and subjugation to corporate owners be they white male, female or minority. I personally cared little if the warden were black, white or female, I just wanted out of prison. My concern was in the quality of our lives and in our ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships and a societal respect for my and your privacy and autonomy.

Now forty years later I still have the same longings, desires and goals. I look back at the women’s movement like a photograph of an old girl friend who ended up sleeping with my old tormentor. We could have shared so much together, we could have had made the world an intimate caring place. Instead we now live in a society in which two paychecks don’t even have the purchasing power of one back in the 50’s or 60’s.  And where quality of life, life expectancy, health, happiness quotients, and leisure time have been on the decline and falling behind other more “socialistic” nations around the globe.

While I look back at what I experienced as a lost opportunity its hard not to be frightened by our surveillance society and the loss of all the freedoms and privacy we struggled to achieve and the fact that the only real growth industry left in our decayed capitalistic system of empire is fear mongering , prejudice and intolerance. 

Jim Guido

 

Government and Politics and Social Issues28 Apr 2013 09:56 am

*Jobs are never coming back
Progress in automation and technology are drastically reducing the number of jobs needed nationally and globally

*Raiding social security and medicare have nothing to do with debt reduction
It is just a blatant money grab and class war

*The new health care laws will not improve services or provide coverage for everyone
They will shift responsibility away from insurance companies and onto individuals
They will maximize profits and fine those who can’t afford insurance

*The internet was and always will be a pentagon project
It is just part of the global surveillance plan

*The war on terrorism if not a myth (like the Red Scare) is exploited as a tool
Blatant fear mongering to have us hand over all power to government protectors

*We do not behave like the good guys
Our military presence in 3/4 of nations is opposed to all of our basic principles
Including national sovereignty, freedom, self-determination an democracy to name a few

*We are becoming increasingly expendable to our society
no longer needed as consumers, soldiers, workers, etc.

*Capitalism is not the cause but benefactor of technological progress
Just as pirates and conquistadors weren’t the cause but the benefactors of the wealth and resources they pillaged

*The consumer based society is being phased out
Being replaced by the financial instrument technologically automated society

*Fed reserve is a private banking institution
They act on their own self-interest, not ours

*Bernanke is an expert on deflation
He knows how to best manage deflation to maximize profits for his peers

*Money you put in a bank is not saved
Technically and legally it is money loaned to the bank for them to invest and use

*Sanctions are not designed to create peace
Their function is to cause dissension through the suffering and death of innocents

*Predatory drones are a form of military and psychological terrorism

*The basic principles of psychology of torture are being used on US citizens

*The major messages of the media are orchestrated, monitored and censored

*The wars we’re fighting are not for our freedom
The number of innocents we kill in war, sanctions and insurrections is unprecedented

*Your civil liberties, rights and privacy are being systematically disassembled (removed)

*A person with no privacy is not free
A society with no privacy is easily controlled

*Our imprisonment numbers reveal our governments real view of freedom
If everyone is under surveillance, why the need to imprison at record pace?

 

 

 

So your patriotism and blind faith in your government and the political process, how’s that working for you?

Lying, deception, manipulation, stealth and secrecy are not just the norm they are pervasive in government, business, commerce and international relations

We cannot separate who we are from what we do

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues07 Apr 2013 02:45 pm

At some point in time after WWII the US decided that it would accept no deviation from its social, political and economic agenda. In every area of life either you’re with us or you are against us. The “us” was theoretically the US, but as time has gone on the “us” has morphed into a small club of the financial elite (who are not all necessarily of the US).

The US, the financial, political and military superpower, has the wherewithal and the disposition to engage in war with all. Most empires throughout history have enjoyed the spoils of war, yet no empire in history has had the maintenance of their empire more directly tied to the concept of perpetual war and plunder.

We justify our aggressive policing of the entire globe through rhetoric espousing freedom and the spread of democracy. We hide behind such lofty ideals to excuse our governments complete intolerance with the possible existence of other political, social or economic systems.

While, following WWII most nations feared and treated war as a desperate action of last resort, the US relished and glorified the concept of war. Even before the radioactive clouds completely cleared, we were having war with anything that moved, or possibly impacted our existence. We were the good nation, and all others were either just like us, or evil.

We framed and posed everything in and outside our society in terms of battles and wars. We had wars on poverty, crime, drugs, communism, socialism, illiteracy, obesity, and atheism. Labor unions and management were always doing battle before the government convinced us that labor unions were unpatriotic. Our friends and family waged war and had battles with tooth decay, polio, mental illness, cancer and laziness.

Even our recreational life was framed in war vernacular. Major sporting events were always battles and wars. Soon even the most mundane contest or competition got “elevated” to war status. If it wasn’t a war, it was neither worthy of our attention, interest or appreciation.

Despite the benefits and blatant success garnered through mediums such as mediation, diplomacy and negotiation we slowly were convinced that such strategies were dangerous and counterproductive. The gains in worker and civil rights, the women’s and peace movements, and the ecological movement were examples of generally non-violent forms of social improvement.

The US government steadily embraced an inflexible policy of seeing any form of negotiation as a sign of weakness and a horrendously bad precedent. This was true not only internationally but domestically as well. As forms of social advocacy have not only fallen out of favor but have become increasingly dangerous or illegal.

US journalists, union organizers, humanitarian workers and clergy working abroad have reported being targets for US and US backed forces for assisting “leftist” groups for decades. Now, domestically we increasingly treat the participation of peaceful demonstrations and non-violent protests as a quasi-illegal act, where participants are video taped and become subjects for Homeland Security and FBI investigation.

The perpetual war on terrorism is being used as a vehicle to destroy and remove many of our basic civil liberties. The new laws allowing American citizens to be imprisoned and even executed without a trail or even official charges being brought forth are very disturbing. The whistleblowers of corruption and immoral behavior, which were treated as heroes a few decades ago are being imprisoned and demonized. All dissent is being viewed as an aid to terrorism and, therefore, fit to be treated as an act of terrorism.

While we trumpeted freedom, democracy and national sovereignty we have practiced keeping every nation on a short pragmatic and ideological leash. Any nation placing the needs and rights of their citizens over US interests were intimidated or forced to show due respect to the US.

Leaders of nations who oppose our economic and political agendas are labeled evil tyrants, even when they are democratically elected and loved by their people. Some of the leaders who we have tried to assassinate and overthrow have done wonders in the areas of health, civil liberties, education and standard of living for the majority of the nation’s population. This is not to say that they are wonderful people, but only to acknowledge the incongruity of our nation’s despising them, and the practical and functional benefit their leadership has provided its citizens.

In a few instances our government has gone so far as insinuate or even call a leader of an unfriendly or enemy nation crazy. We are then told that we must take action against this country due to their capabilities or ambitions for weapons of mass destruction. Yet, who in their right mind would publicly insult a truly crazy leader who had the capabilities of waging nuclear warfare, or engaging in terrorist activities killing many US citizens.

Either our leaders are themselves lacking mental stability or they know that these so called evil leaders are harmless and using the “war” of words to validate our harming that leader, his people or the land they live on. Yet, when these insane maniacs show impressive restraint from our insults and accusation, we up the ante by engaging in intimidation and bullying techniques such as imposing economic sanctions, international trade restrictions, devaluing their currency endangering resulting in the pain and suffering and eventual death of millions of innocents.

The US currently has military bases and presence in near 160 countries. When one considers that there are less than 200 nations one could say we are pretty much everywhere. The original list of nations named as part of the “axis of evil”, were the last remaining nations without a capitalistic central bank. Economic allegiance seems to be even more important to the US than political format. Many of our most valued allies are nations headed by despots and non democratic leadership, but none of our allies have a economic system separate from ours.

The land of freedom and defender of human rights has a higher percentage of its populace imprisoned than any other. While we fight to protect our freedom we are the most monitored society on the planet. One must always keep in mind that the internet was and always will be a Pentagon project.

As I type, each keystroke is documented and filtered through a host of systems alerting the authorities to the level of concern they should have. Almost all our communications are monitored and documented, likewise our activities and interests. With GPS, smart phones, etc. it is hard for us to keep private even for a brief moment our exact whereabouts.

Despite this pervasive surveillance we see a need to imprison a higher percentage of our populace than any other nation on the planet. Though we rank far down the list in terms of violent crimes, we still find a reason to deny the freedom of more people than the harshest dictatorship.

In a land that loves war, is economically dependent on war, and uses war as a way of controlling its people and getting complete economic and social compliance the war on the citizen will not end until economic domination is complete. Any penny left in your name represents a battle to be fought and a contest to be won.

Each victory just gives the economic and military elite more wherewithal to conduct their war with all.

Much of the progress of human society has been in our efforts to work together and lend each other a helping hand. Yet, lately when we ask our government for a hand, apparently all they feel they can afford is to give us the finger.

Jim Guido

Government and Politics and Social Issues16 Feb 2013 12:09 pm

No country has ever been prouder of murder, torture, intimidation, genocide, rape, assassination, the overthrowing of sovereign and elected governments, and the starving of millions of civilians and children in “humanitarian” interventions than the US. Ah, but let me not “drone” on, I guess I have to leave that to our commander and chief.

We kill to protect our freedom.

We kill to keep our citizens safe.

We kill to secure our borders.

We kill to defeat evil.

We kill to defeat terrorism.
We kill to prevent terrorism.

We kill to free others.

We kill for peace.

We kill for ideology.

We kill for oil.

We kill to protect our way of life.

We kill to spread our way of life (killing is our way of life).

We kill for regime change.
We kill to prevent regime change.

We kill for feminism and against barbarism.
We kill for racism.

We kill for religious freedom.

We kill to protect our honor.

We kill to honor our dead.

We kill for hope.

We kill to influence nations and their peoples.

We kill for capitalism.
We kill for democracy.

We kill to spread higher ideals.

We kill to show strength.

We kill as an act of diplomacy.

We kill to stop crime.

We kill for change.

We kill to show our love of our country.

We kill people who envy and hate us.

We kill families in their homes in distant lands.

We kill people who might wish us harm.

We kill people who know people who might wish us harm.

We kill people who may want to retaliate for our killing.

We kill doctors, charity and aid workers who care for those we kill.

We kill journalists and whistleblowers who report or question our killing.

We kill the through sanctions, banned weapons, and toxic substances.
We kill by destroying farmland, potable water, wild life and vital infrastructure.

We kill our soldiers (children) in unnecessary combat.

We kill our humanity by glorifying and legitimizing our killing.

We kill our soldiers who commit suicide by not providing them with services when they have been raped, traumatized, or coerced to act against their conscious. (We condone our soldiers being raped by peers and superiors)

We kill as a preemptive act.

We kill as a moral act.

We kill to demonstrate our high ideals and moral indignation.

We kill for justice.

We kill to test technology.

We kill to shock and awe.

We kill to show leadership.

We kill to show commitment and support.

We kill by being the major seller of weapons.

We kill by instigating conflict.

We kill by the artful use of propaganda and disinformation.

We kill those compassionate and charitable to those we kill.

We kill those who try to stop the killing (for aiding the enemy).

The list could go on and on. The list for the reasons we torture, threaten, intimidate, bully, ruin the the reputation of, lie about and imprison people with neutral or good intentions is even longer.

All of this is done with our active support or silent consent. Some support this out of fear and others out of hatred. Many do this because they have been convinced or convinced themselves that there is no other way.

I use to be baffled when I read about how the Roman’s gave up their freedoms and handed over dictatorial powers to Cesare. I use to be dumbfounded at why a democratic people would give away their freedoms and delegate all power in a leader. Well the loss of civil and personal rights and destruction of the constitution over the last four years has answered that question. We now have given our president as much autonomous power as Cesare wielded in the Roman Empire.

I’ve seen a number of articles written by historians of late stating that many of our president’s current powers have not been in existence since the Magna Carta was instituted over a 1000 years ago. No king was legally allowed to be judge and jury and have people imprisoned and killed without the possibility of legal recourse.

Our president has more delegated power than any leader for over a 1000 years in Western Civilization and no society has had a larger discrepancy between the poor and the wealthy as ours. This includes all the slave based societies going back to ancient Egypt.

While I’m sure people can find ways in which these last two paragraphs don’t fully apply. Yet, the fact that they are true in any way in a supposed democratic and free society is beyond defense.

I wish we spent more time coming up with reasons not to kill. I wish we found the reasons not to kill more convincing than the reasons to kill. Each time we fire a bullet or missile we disturb and destroy the peace.

We could and should judge our goodness and leadership by the percentage of days in which we reduced and prevented killing. If the greatest superpower finds itself incapable of coming closer to following the basic commandment found in all religions and civil societies than it does not deserve to be a leader or a representative of civilized society.

I use to find it incomprehensible that the German’s sat back and either actively supported or at least tacitly condoned the heinous acts of the third Reich, I no longer find it so baffling.

I don’t really expect what I wrote here to have any impact or influence on any one reading it. I only do so as an act of conscious. I care very deeply for all of you. I treasure and value life and humanity.

Thanks for listening.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Social Issues03 Feb 2013 03:07 pm

Imagine if you were in a casino and you were able to gamble with house money or money given to you by investors of your business. Your winnings in this casino are yours except for any chips you want to give to investors of friends. Yet, if you lose, the casino’s bank would bankroll you for more, and pass on your debt to investors and to the public at large (taxpayers).

The above image pretty well captures the practices of modern capitalism in our current economy. The leaders of industry who are too big to fail are receiving huge loans and gifts to use at their discretion, and who can depend on bailouts and additional loans if they were to fail with the money currently in their possession. In addition, all of their debts are excused or passed on to the tax payers (government) on a regular basis and not just during a crisis.

One way in which this is happening is through the Federal Reserve and its various forms of quantitative easing and the buying of Mortgage Based Securities (debt). First the Fed further tilts the tables in the uber-wealthy’s favor by giving them almost all the newly printed money (liquidity) at near zero interest with no demand that they “trickle down” this money through job creation, loans or expansion. Then the Fed buys their bad debt and unserviceable mortgages and while keeping ownership of the assets passes on the responsibility to pay off these toxic debts to the government (tax payers).

This taking from the poor and giving to the rich has been running at full speed since early in 2009 in response to the financial crisis. How long can this go on you might ask? Well, this grandest heist in all of economic history can last as long as the American taxpayers allow it to, and as long as the economy does not substantially improve.

If the economy improved it would be harder to justify bailouts, endless money printing and trillions of dollars in loans to the wealthy. If the economy improved interest rates would rise making it harder to rationalize low interest loans to the wealthy, and the rise in interest rates would make their loans harder to pay off.

The fact of the matter is that the stock market is not rising in spite of the struggling economy, but because of the struggling economy. Since 2008 the stock market’s steepest rallies have come on the heels of the Fed’s announcing that low interest rates (hence free liquidity) would continue, or sky rocketed following a poor economic report. While the media is fond of saying the stock market rallies are counterintuitive, climbing a wall of worry, or they have already discounted the bad news, the truth of the matter is that the market is rallying because the economy is poor.

A poor economy means low interest rates, more money printing, more potential of bailouts, no need to expand business (low overhead), and the more likelihood that the shifting of debt and responsibility to the public can continue unabated. In addition to this, the poorer the economy the easier it will be for the wealthy via the government to raid the last remaining storehouses of wealth of the 99.999% of the people that being social security, and the other social safety nets which come out of our paychecks.

So a short recap to this point is that our economy has become a casino in which the casino continues to print money to greatly enlarged the pool of money with which to gamble. Almost all of this new casino money is given to the wealthiest gamblers via near zero interest loans. The wealthy recipients are then free to raise the stakes in their gambles and make quite a killing. If they fail, they receive more newly printed money via bailouts, or their debt is purchased by the casino and passed on to the people in the community via the national debt.

Okay lets use a few more images to highlight and expand upon a few points regarding the social/economic road we’re on.

In many ways it appears as if those in the know feel that our current monetary system is unsustainable and that they are grabbing as much money and ownership as they head for the exits. It is as if the Titanic is going down and they are getting on their life jackets and getting into life boats. The irony, is that only the captains and crew are getting into the boats and all the women and children are being left on the sinking ship.

While the captain and the crew continue to get the proverbial “golden parachutes” as they cash out during the coming collapse, the overwhelming majority of us will be lucky to retrieve a snot ridden hanky.

It is amazing to me how many people support the financial elite and act as if they are themselves a member of the 1%. Ten years ago we talked of the top 10%, soon it became the top 5%, now we speak of the top 1%. Yet, each day when the market closes and the business day ends the music stops and more chairs are removed from the dance floor. The 1% is already the .1% and the zeroes in front of the decimal point will grow at a mind numbing speed. The number of chairs when the music stops is getting close to a handful, and the problem with this dance game is there is no intention to start over when there is a lone standing winner.

Those left in the dance are the biggest and most ruthless risk takers who have no social conscious or fear, and depend on others fears and ethics making their future success possible. It is like two speeding cars heading towards each other in a game of chicken waiting for the other driver to swerve out of the way to avoid their demise.

The truly successful businesses are the large ones who are hoarding cash making their money through loans, bailouts, and the use of financial instruments. Their businesses are similar to the old mafia fronts in which the business was used to detract attention from their true forms of money making. In some ways you need to have a business to use as collateral for the obscene loans or to go into bankruptcy to qualify for a bailout.

As the title of this post states, heads they win tails you lose. This is definitely the game that the financial and political elite are playing. Lucky for the elite we have a president who is gifted at this game, while appearing to most to be a humane and caring person. When watching him speak it is easy to get that impression, but when you look at his actions, policies, and the people he surrounds himself with his true alliances are hard to ignore.

At certain moments in history the financial and political elite make statements which seem to reveal their deepest feelings and convictions I’ll leave you with two quotes attributed to the Rothschild family, who are still reportedly the richest family in the world and deeply imbedded in the world of central banking.

“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.”

“I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, …The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire. And I control the money supply.”

Jim Guido

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