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The Freedom to Fail

San Diego — A liberal acquaintance published a link on Facebook where one of his progressive sites attempted to define the major political/economic “isms” of the day with the clear implication that only liberals understood what the terms really meant; and that conservatives, libertarians, essentially any non-liberals did not understand the terms and so used them incorrectly.  Liberals and progressives on the other hand, in this as in all things, had the pipeline to ultimate truth which, at least in this case, they would share.

But if they accept that post’s definitions they are no closer to the truth than those they disparage.

The essay attempted, in a vastly oversimplified way, to define “Nazism,” “Fascism.” “Socialism,” “Communism,” and “Capitalism.”  Clever.  Unfortunately it was incorrect in several places, and incorrect by ommision and selective inclusion is several more..

It tried, for example, to frame Nazism as a political philosophy, but in practice it was basically a cult of personality run by paranoid and power hungry people using a very flawed belief in a sort of social and biological Darwinism wrapped in theological fervor.  It incorporated the belief in and the creation of a fantasy “race” incorrectly using the term “Aryan” which was the original label for an Indo-European group who would have looked nothing like the Nordic ideal the Nazis deluded themselves into thinking included them.

The closest to a coherent economic philosophy the Nazis got was the simple expedient of blaming others for their problems by feeding upon latent hostilities toward several groups of, to them, sub-human “races.”

The closest political model for the Nazis would have been Fascism.  Named for the bundle of reeds and axe that was the symbol of power of the Romans, the fasces, they even modeled their structure to some extent on Imperial Rome.  But the essay’s section on Fascism was poorly defined and failed to note that economically, the Nazis (National Socialist Worker’s Party) was not even true to the socilistic part of their name and allowed private ownership of the means of production though it was totally under the control of the government.  Think Krupp and his steel mills.

We usually associate Fascism, another combination of economic and political philosophies, with the Nazis but in fact it was formulated in Italy under Mussolini who drafted the only official definitions of it in which he outlines three principles of a fascist philosophy:

1.”Everything in the state”. The Government is supreme and the country is all-encompassing, and all within it must conform to the ruling body, often a dictator.

2.”Nothing outside the state”. The country must grow and the implied goal of any fascist nation is to rule the world, and have every human submit to the government.

3.”Nothing against the state”. Any type of questioning the government is not to be tolerated. If you do not see things our way, you are wrong. In practice you were also likely… dead.

 It was also the foundation for a warrior culture.  In 1934 Mussolini wrote,

Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism — born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision — the alternative of life or death….

…The Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide: he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but above all for others — those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after…”

Socialism, a polar opposite of Fascism on many levels, was also poorly defined by the essay and its hallmark approach of “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need” based on Rousseau’s complete misunderstanding of simple, tribal communal structures was ignored.  Socialism requires the belief that production per se is a zero sum game and that in order for some to survive others must be held back.  This may be true in small, primitive tribal or family band units; but it is not even remotely true in modern industrial societies.

Though couched in the language of fairness to support the downtrodden, reality has shown otherwise as everywhere it has been implemented it devolves quickly into a situation where the government takes from the productive to support those who will not participate in production.

Socialism, an economic philosophy, in seeking social justice, puts the means of production into the hands of the “public” meaning, from a practical standpoint, the state.  It allows the state to define, based on the goals du jour, just who can be taken from and who is to be given to in order to establish economic equality throughout its populace.  It sees people as poor pawns driven wherever the winds of class warfare drive them and therefore deserving of an enlightened state authority to set things right and level not just the playing field, but the results as well.  It harbors the notion that for one to succeed, another most fail; that if one person gains it is only through the taking of things from another.  Wealth, it argues, should be distributed evenly not based on skill or effort but on the goal of social equality.

In that sense of “public ownership” socialism and communism, a term coined in the 1840s, are the same.  But under communism, a combination of political and economic philosophies. or at least its theoretical proposition, the role of the state is more extreme.  Not only does the state own everything, but people, regardless of job or work, are paid essentially identically.  Regardless of effort or productivity, all get the same results.  It usually results in only the equality of common misery but it does take the traumatic decisions about life’s.  The state and its autocracy are, of course, distinct from the common man and in exchange for their care of the masses are not precluded from reaping the spoils of their social depredation.

The linked essay further noted that Communism requires a violent overthrown of the existing system in order to establish a state where all property is owned communally.  That is not true.  Marx and Engels wrote that while it might come to that, it was better if it could be done by fiat and subterfuge, with out and out revolution a last option.  He feared that it likely must be done but not because it was an ideal approach… simply a probably necessary one.

Where the essay really fell down was in trying to define Capitalism.  It said capitalism believed in profit but, recognizing that not all can make a profit required the government to step in to help those who failed.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Capitalism does indeed use success and its rewards as a motivator for effort and energy.  But it has never seen government as a safety net for those who chose not to participate or whose failure was through their own poor choices or activities.  Indeed the most critical freedom in a capitalistic society is the freedom to fail and face the consequences.

Someone blind-sided by life or nature or circumstances beyond their control aside, a capitalist structure specifically does not allow government to be in the rescue business precisely because of the ease with which that power devolves into “crony” capitalism where government can decide who to help and who not to help.  Helping those hurt by forces outside of their control is a human, ethical duty, but it is not, in pure capitalism, the prevue of the government.  When government, unable financially to save all in need from its treasury, can pick and chose, corruption is inevitable.

That corrupt cronyism so completely tilts the playing field as to render the concept of equal opportunity to TRY but with no guarantee of result pointless since in cases of its own choosing government does indeed guarantee the outcome.  That is not capitalism per se but a rather bizarre mixture of socialism and fascism.  The very concept of something “too large to fail” is anathema to real capitalism.

So read such biased “explanations” with a grain of salt.  Francis Bacon said that humans prefer to believe what they prefer to be true.   Even minimal experience shows that we will go so far to accept “evidence” that supports our own beliefs and reject “evidence” to the contrary that often even the admonition to research the truth for one’s self is wasted.  H.L. Menken opined that the chief occupation of mankind was indulging in passionate beliefs that which are palpably untrue.  And it is that conflict of unshakable faith in opposing but equally unsupportable positions that has brought us to the political gridlock, animosity, and danger point we are currently in.

One side of our current political divide holds tight to a fantasy world that cannot be because it violates the very core of human nature.  The other side holds equally tight to a highly filtered and equally fanciful history that never was.  Neither side seems to hold any stock in the principles and documents upon which this nation was founded and from which we rose to greatness on the world stage.

I do fear we are seeing the beginning of the end for our country and the hopes with which it was created.  We are on our way to becoming just another in a long sad litany of great nation states that forgot who it was, eschewed its founding principles, and threw itself on the midden heap of history to make way for the rise of the next great power.  How sad.  What a waste.

 

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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A Convergence of Cycles, Stages, Passages, and Turnings

San Diego — I love it! I have been questioned closely as to why I appeared so gloomy about our nation and culture’s future prospects in last week’s post on the 4th of July vis-à-vis what is at stake in the upcoming elections.  It means some are at least exercising their brains which is something we need more of.  I never, ever, asked anyone or demanded of anyone that they agree with me — I am indifferent to that.  I only asked that you THINK about it and research the answers for yourselves rather than take ANYONE’s word for it, including mine.  So the question is a valid and serious one, asked in a respectful way, and therefore one worthy of a serious response.  This may be long but, hey, you asked for it.

Let me first provide some context for my answer then get into some specifics.

Many historians firmly believe in the theory of “Anacyclosis,” a Greek word set forth by Polybius in the first century BC while holding that the story of history is a story of repeating cycles that inexorably follow one another down through time.  According to Polybius…

Originally society is in anarchy but the strongest figure emerges and sets up a benign monarchy. The monarch’s descendants, who because of their family’s power lack virtue, become despots and the monarchy degenerates into a tyranny. Because of the excesses of the ruler the tyranny is overthrown by the leading citizens of the state who set up an aristocracy. They too quickly forget about virtue and the state becomes an oligarchy. These oligarchs are overthrown by the people who set up a democracy. Democracy soon becomes corrupt and degenerates into ochlocracy (mob rule), beginning the cycle anew. (paraphrased from Polybius’s “Histories, Book VI”)

The various theories and their believers range from serious to, well, let’s charitably say “exotic.”  Famously Marx presented his theory of economic system cycles which is followed and encouraged by communist and socialist idealogues even today.  It was inevitable, he thought, that civilizations cycled through the following economic systems:

“primitive communism, barbarism, slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and stateless communism.”

Theories of cycles such as these fall into a general category of historical theories called “Stage Theories.”  They are so popular that a great one was devised recently and given life through the internet that was, to give it some credence, ascribed to the Scottish Historian Alexander Tyler, even though it does not appear in any of his books and the modern version does not come even close to his normal phraseology.  Nevertheless. In spite of being shown to almost certainly not have originated from its claimed source, it is repeated endlessly and it does, as do many of the others, seem to reflect a reality.  It sees the stages of governance as follows:

  1.      From bondage to spiritual faith;
  2.      From spiritual faith to great courage;
  3.      From courage to liberty;
  4.     From liberty to abundance;
  5.     From abundance to complacency;
  6.     From complacency to apathy;
  7.     From apathy to dependence;
  8.     From dependence back into bondage”

Allegedly this was not a broad set of stages but an internal one and reflected the stages in the rise and fall specifically of democracies and republics, i.e. those states governed directly or with indirect representation by the will of the people.

And less we forget… of course in this potentially fateful year of 2012 we are all familiar with the alleged impending doom implied by the ending of the Maya calendar on 12/21/2012 where, we are to believe, they could foresee the end of the world several thousand years ahead, but did not see the end of their own civilization in a vastly shortened time span.

A major criticism of stage theories generally is that they do not take into account the random advent of wild cards such as prophets, maniacs, geniuses, disasters, etc. that can potentially turn the current stage off course into something completely new and unexpected.  In examining this criticism, in the 1980s historians William Strauss and Neil Howe studied geopolitical events with its progressions and declines as well as their underlying events juxtaposed with generational attitudes and thinking and developed what they came to call, “The Four Turnings.”

A “Turning” in sociological/historical terms is an era with a characteristic social mood, a new twist on how people feel about themselves and their nation.  This was a far simpler listing than those above.  Strauss and Howe’s four turning were

  1. The HIGH,
  2. The AWAKENING,
  3. The UNRAVELING,  and finally
  4. The CRISIS.

Fascinated by this perspective on history, technical writer and historian John Xenakis subsequently spent more time studying the generational attitudes going back to the late dark ages to identify major crises as the end points that launched each new turning.  He wanted to understand WHY these turnings happened and why those “wild cards” noted above seemed to sometimes have major short term effect but little or no long term effect in changing the nature of the turnings.

He came to believe it lay in human responses to those events noted by Strauss and Howe.  In the process he developed his theory of Generational Dynamics which is based on the idea that societies and nations make mistakes and then learn lessons from those mistakes.  Those wildcards may appear for awhile, here and there, but in time, as generations grow older, retire and die, they are at some point replaced by new generations who are too young to remember those wild card people or events or the mistakes and those lessons.  When that happens, the mistakes are repeated.  He then redefined the turnings of Strauss and Howe with generational labels that coincided with the turnings.  His generations were:

  1. The Hero Generation
  2. The Artist Generation
  3. The Prophet Generation, and
  4. The Nomad Generation

What fascinates me about all of the various views is that, taken together and overlaid, they all — ALL — are in the final or next-to-final stages now.  Even though they range in identified stages or cycles or turnings from 13 (Mayan Katuns) to 8 (Tyler?) to 7 (Marx) to 6 (Polybius) to 4 (Strauss & Howe and Xenakis) they are all in the last or next to last steps.

The truth is I have not the faintest sure knowledge that any or all of them are either complete hokum or actually reveal underlying truths of historical cycles… or something in between.  The mere fact that fantasic theories have points of overlap does not, in itself, offer definitive proof for any of them, much less for all of them.  Correlation does not equal causality.  Day follows night in a pretty predictable manner but one does not cause the other.

Yet…  There are no doubts that civilizations and empires rise and fall and that the triggers for their declines tend to be easily identifiable in hindsight and found  to be very nearly identical and that, as Xenakis points out, we tend to forget the previous mistakes or, perhaps more likely, reach a point of such hubris we refuse to believe it could happen to us.

So why would I give even sufficient credence to these theories, singularly or together, to even write about them here as context for my conclusions below?  To me, it is a bit unnerving to lay those various stages over the history of our own country and then to see how well they have fit.   With the exceptions of the Maya Katun stages and Nostradamus’s Quatrains, which are both hit and miss in their descriptions of events to come, the stages and turnings of Polybius, Marx, Strauss and Howe, and Xenakis have been pretty consistently accurate and they have their own internally workable sequencing logic that works with human nature as I believe it to be.

Additionally and more importantly, anyone who does not understand that we as a country (and California as a State) are staring down the barrel of the potentially perfect storm of crises on the very near term chronological horizon is simply not looking.  Need I itemize to make the point?  OK… here are but a few issues coming down on us…

  1. The Bush Tax Cuts are due to expire.  All sides think that will create some huge economic problems  but the parties are in grid lock as to what to do.  Obama wants to lower the limits and do a one year extension, Pelosi and Schummer’s group with a far greater understanding of middle class and small business wants to raise the cut off to $1 million, and Republicans want to extend the cuts indefinitely for everyone.  For rationale’s they aid gridlock by arguing past one another.  The left says the taxes will help the economy and debt but Obama’s plan would, according to GAO stats, annually pay for 8.5 days of deficit growth.  In fact a 100% tax on the same people would not significantly diminish the deficit.  The other side says lowered taxes will encourage productivity but if it is offset with inflation and unemployment it will accomplish little to improve attitudes necessary for improved productivity.  That is all sort of moot since on this Sunday’s interview shows they all admitted they were in stalemate.  if that continues the cuts will expire on their own.  No decision IS a decision.
  2. At the same time, the jobless benefits and a payroll tax cut are set to expire.  Since the U3 filter of unemployment (those on unemployment insurance) will then drop as benefits stop you can count on an argument that employment figures improved.  And partisans will act as if it were true even when they know it is not and generate the “statistics” to show how much better off we are.
  3. At the same time a $1.2 Trillion across-the-board program cut is set to go into effect since Congress failed to solve the budget crisis.  Whopee.  We concentrate on a debt of $15 trillion in borrowed money, but, in the background, our brilliant congress has approved over $119 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, i.e. mandated programs which create liabilities for the treasury but for which there are no funds.  $1.2 trillion in cuts is a slap in the face insult to the American people.
  4. At the same time, we will hit our debt ceiling and will clamor to raise it making any cuts pointless.
  5. At the same time credit agencies are already warning of another credit downgrade for the U.S. so a rising of the debt ceiling again may be pointless if we can only borrow at such rates as to make mob loan sharks seem generous.
  6. At the same time we will be presented two treaties worked out by our Secretary of State that, if ratified, will cede Constitutional rule to a hostile international set of rules.  This time it is over gun control and oil revenue.  But if the precedent is allowed to set then what?
  7. Powerful arguments from progressive strategists on the interview circuit are already arguing that what we need is for more stimulus spending and not just a little but a lot but in no case that I listened to was there a suggestion as to the location of a source of such money.  With, as noted, even 100% taxation turning us into a complete slave nation  would not have all that much effect on the debt, the money can come from only two sources: printing it or borrowing it.
  8. But at the same time, a growing ground swell from major trading nations is pushing to drop the American Dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  Already China and Brazil have made serious proposals for a replacement of the dollar and offered ideas for the replacement. China has been replacing its dolar holdings with other currencies and securities. But it is that reserve status alone that makes loaning money to us still a pretty good idea even if our personal/national credit rating drops.  But if we all woke up one day and at the daily begging for loans China said, “No thank you!” and declined to loan us more, our house of carefully laid cards would crumble virtually overnight.
  9. But why would we need more money and more debt?  Simple math. Presently in America, nearly half of all households receive either a salary or substantial benefits from the government. Presently in America, nearly half of all adults pay no federal income taxes. Presently in America, the half that pay no income taxes receive the bulk of their income courtesy of the government, but ultimately from the half that do. This money is extracted involuntarily from the paying half by a permanent bureaucracy that extracts and gives away more each year no matter who is running the government. The recipients of these transfer payments rely upon them for subsistence, so they have a vested financial interest in sending to Washington those who will continue to take money from the productive and give it to the parasitical.  Harsh words?  i don’t think so.  i am in favor of helping those blindsided by life, but you will never convince me in the age of OSHA, fully half of our population is unable to work AT SOMETHING even if it is a short term strategy instead of demanding to live off of the government slop trough.
  10. The Fed is clearly setting the stage for more money creation which has never in the history of human economics failed to result in inflation.  This is masked for the populace by replacing the old measures of unemployment and inflation with new ones that allow for data cherry picking.  Inflation used to be measured by the Consumer Price Index based on the costs of identical items over time.  Now it is based on a “substitution” scheme, i.e. when an item’s cost increases it is replaced on the list with a lower cost brand or version or redefined as an improved or upgraded item.  And we no longer use the government’s previous “U6” view of unemployment which counted ALL people out of work (now at 15%) and replaced it with the “U3” statistic (now at 8.2%)  that only measures applicants and enrolees for unemployment insurance.
  11. California has already proposed a budget that includes tax increases and makes clear its own philosophical priorities based on what is maintained and what is having it funding cut further.  Funds are maintained for spotted owls but not for fuel refining and extraction; maintained for prison needs but not for law enforcement, maintained for fantasy bullet trains but not for existing highway and bridge maintenance, maintained for union support but not for businesses, maintained for homeless care but not for education.  But remember the old cliché asserted, “As California goes, so goes the nation.”  Though not a “stage” theory it has been fairly reliable over the years on a number of fronts.
  12. At the same time on the geopolitical front we are at a dangerous ignition point in multiple places as we work hard at degrading any ability to deal with them and instead, against the rules laid down by the Constitution, insert ourselves in economy strangling wars, governmental overthrows, and other events designed, in my opinion, to further cripple the system and provide the cover of distraction from the transformation happening at home.
  13. All of the issues started with previous administrations.  There is no getting around that.  But the current administration has, on every single front and by every applicable measurement, worked tirelessly to make it worse.  And now they are proposing measures to further accelerate the growth of debt, deficit, and the death of capitalism to a growing crowd of entitled and dependent citizens who are the victims of one of the world’s worst education systems and in one man-on-the-street interview after another cannot name the country we gained independence from or when, think Lincoln was a founding father, cannot point to Russia or China on the map, or, for that matter, Washington, DC, and yet will bring that systemic ignorance and idiocy to the polls next November.

So, since I am by nature a contingency planner, I think forewarned is forearmed.

And what is especially maddening to me is that close examination of historical examples shows that in nearly every case, the final crisis or failure need not have happened if the nation under review had simply remembered and learned from the lessons of those nations that came and went before.  And, as startling, there were nearly always some voices in opposition who were shouted down by the crowds fearful of losing their goodies.

As I have written before and often, I see us doing precisely the same thing now: refusing the lessons of history and following the paths of apathy and dependence, opening the gates to the Visigoths and Vandals of our day, debauching our own sovereign currency, legislating immorality by the removal of consequences for actions, promoting the concept of outcome equality while ignoring the concept of opportunity equality, developing dependencies instead of self reliance, and refusing to accept the concept, even as it might apply to societal survival, of good and evil.  From Herodotus to Josephus to Toynbee those things are clearly at the root of the internal rot that over and over brought civilizations to a point of such weakness that they were easy prey to the enemies from without.  But we are not just doing one of those historically successful suicide techniques, we are avidly pursuing ALL of them!  In the end, the playing fields were leveled all right, EVERYONE lost.

When looked at from a historical perspective we are being led to the hammer by a bellwether, a political Dr. Kevorkian with us as the gasping patient; and astonishingly to me, a majority of us are begging him to proceed with his apparatus.

On September 18, 2008 under the previous regime, ironically, the one crying most fervently in favor of capitalism while at the least the left was more honest about wanting it replaced, we effectively drove a stake through the heart of capitalism, the economic system based on private risk and reward.  Both parties had become so tangled with business and drew so much money for re-elections from business that they did the unthinkable in terms of capitalism’s inherent self checks and balances of rewarding success and punishing failure.  With total bipartisan support (in itself revealing) the government married big business and big government by privatizing profit while nationalizing risk.  In one giant bipartisan pandering we exchanged capitalism for corporatism and we allowed the weak minded to then think they were the same thing to further weaken support for capitalism.  They are NOT the same any more than a democracy and an oligarchy are the same.

In order to pull off the fallacy that the two (capitalism and corporatism) are the same, we had to further debauch an already debauched and floating currency by simply printing more and lending it to ourselves to cover the risk.  Leaders on both sides had to convince you that some things were “too big to fail” rather than let bad management pay the consequences of failure it should have.  If those businesses were critical to the economy and promised, if run properly, to return a profit, then the shells and infrastructure of those failed business whether a bank or auto maker would have been picked up and rebuilt.

But those bailouts were not about saving capitalism or saving the economy.  They were about saving the bankers and saving the unions… the major sources of political money.  And less you also drank the mental kool-aid that sees those as separate issues, follow the money trail, in this case the money flowing in to the union coffers and wall street vaults and see what they have done with it.  Don’t just believe me or the union thug or the wall street apologist, look into it yourself and then connect the dots for yourself.

But there is an even bigger issue at play.  With capitalism essentially on its death bed, no other economic system has ever been able to provide the cultural “fire” to support a Constitutional Republic and, to my mind, our leadership has knowingly and purposefully moved us closer to Marx’s identified next stage.  Those readers wishing to be coddled and protected should be thrilled.  Get what you can quickly though, because this is happening at a stage where the governments, both federal and state, are close to running out of other people’s money.  Demanding the productive carry the unproductive has historically always been the start of an end game for that society.  And with the “occupiers” we have already seen the first attempts at mob rule a la Polybius.

Einstein is alleged to have said that insanity was continuing to do the same thing and expecting the results to change.  Toynbee warned, because he saw it so commonly in action, that failure to learn from history would doom a people to repeat it.

In the last post I wrote that I believed we were in decline and this next election was only between an incumbent who would accelerate it and a challenger who might, at best, slow it down a little.  I do not think it has to be that way; I think it would be possible to get us back on the rails with good leadership and a return to sound policies.  But I see that potential utterly missing in both candidates and, in fact, not even readily apparent anywhere in any direction on the political horizons.

I’ve read countless Facebook posts and even gotten several emails from readers who, unburdened by historical information, truly wish for us as a nation to embrace the idea of a government “nanny” state that will provide us all needs and shield us from all risks.  That there are enough of them out there to have voted as they did in the last presidential election and now will probably carry this one merely reinforces the stages and cycles noted above.  So how could I draw a conclusion that to me, since I am so opposed to that system and believe it flies in the face of human nature (which it has failed at every attempt)  not believe we are headed in a way designed for cementing the doom of the system created by our founders and not be gloomy, much less be happy about it?

Some seem to believe you can have it both ways but thus far there are no – zero — examples to support that.  You can have the sort of no-risk, warm and fuzzy system of Europe, especially Sweden, or you can have a potent vibrant but risk filled system that can move the world forward such as America was.  However in trying to do both, all sides are left unsatisfied to some extent, unhappy, and it soon degenerates into mob action and failure.

For those readers that ARE happy about our transforming into a “Sweden Lite,” enjoy it while you can.  Had this Turning happened in better economic times or on the upswing of a productive period you might have had a couple of generations of entitlements covering all aspects of your life to enjoy and ossify the soft spot in our national soul.  But the fiscal cliff we are racing toward may be so steep and closely upon us as to undermine even real efforts to save us or to foot the bill for a nanny state.  Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that we are being herded over the cliff purposefully to allow this system to completely collapse (otherwise I would have to believe the leadership is just stupid and I don’t believe they are).

Individuals and collections of folks wanting to nationalize/socialize, whether a little or a lot of their country’s functions, have, by expressing that desire, openly admitted that they refuse to take responsibility for their own behaviors and choices.  If we, as a people, cannot function economically without needing our country to create an artificial and precarious balance using fiat stimulus and overt taxation, then we can no longer claim to be even remotely free OR self-sufficient.  Get real!  Only a population filled primarily with pathetic, over-indulged whiny children would actually need government to enforce mandatory charity: welfare, healthcare, etc. A healthy society supported by strong and self-sustainable individuals would not beg to be parented by government. Once a people become so weak and culturally immoral as to stoop to socialism, then the cancer that rots their perspective has already metastasized beyond the point where even the best leadership could cure it.

Socialism is an admission of defeat. It is a waving of the white flag by a society and the assertion that they are willing to trade that culture’s liberty for the illusion of security.  It is the act of an adolescent and naïve populace groveling for an allowance from their “motherland.”

Once collapsed it will be easier to rebuild this socialized state upon the backs of a traumatized citizenry just wanting some relief – ANY relief.  Just remember, as you roll the dice in the upcoming months, both communism and fascism are simply variant forms of socialism.

I would deeply like to see that dire prediction fail to come true.  I do not believe it is cosmically inevitable, but on our current path I see it as inescapable because as I also indicated in the last post, I do not believe we have the political will or personal strength of purpose to start the combination radiation and chemo treatments necessary to kill the cancer rotting our system.

This internal rot started long before Obama came on the scene, but based on his own words, writings, and actions he is absolutely dedicated to accelerating its spread so he can get on with, in his own words, “transforming” America to better coincide with the dreams of his Marxist father.

Some of you are, based on your posts, comments, and Facebook postings, blissfully and even deliriously happy at that prospect.  Sometimes it is the fervent desire, as noted by Conrad, to lounge safely through existence; sometimes it is a blinders view of a single issue such as here in this state where we will happily bring the state to its economic knees, drive off businesses and kill revenue sources before we will further endanger the Delta Smelts and Snail Darters, or use our own resources to alleviate fuel issues.  Sometimes it is just blind accession to peer pressure (as in the experiment noted in the last post) and sometimes it is simple stupidity.  How else to explain why we will joyfully spend money on indigents that neither produce nor promise anything positive and yet slash funding from education, the only real salvation, so we have the money to do it.

Why else would we rush to open our gates to people who generally take only the jobs that the poorest of us need to survive unless we wanted to strengthen the public doll and those on it, thereby inceasing dependencies.  How else can we interpret the statistics that show in a day and age when our nanny state overlords have made the workplace increasingly safe from even our own negligence and stupidy and with fewer of us employed anyway, that the disability insurance rolls have absolutely skyrocketed except to note that if your standards are low enough, policies now make it easier to NOT work than to work?

If we were sitting on overflowing coffers it would be different, but when the coffers are empty and we exist, day-to-day, on borrowed money, then sane policy demands you perform a hard, perhaps even hateful economic triage on your projects and prioritize them in terms of positive return and help to the country and state.

I think that many of the warm and fuzzy projects are actually very good things to do… IF the basic services specified in the Constitution and state charters are met first and then enough money remains to do them.  But I do not for a heartbeat think they should EVER supercede, in importance or priority, the basics of security, infrastructure, and education.   If the money is not there it is not there; unfunded liabilities are an abomination and are proving to be self destructive to the governments that allow, much less encourage them.

A government, no matter how well intentioned, cannot help anyone if it collapses.  The two major political philosophies stemming from Rousseau and Locke on down represent two very different ideas on how a government and a country should be structured both philosophically and economically.  History has given us plenty of real life examples of how each system has performed when tried outside the classroom and in the real world.  I ask only that you look at that history before deciding  automatically that something that sounds good when its benefits are noted out of context and with no discussion of cost or contraindications, is the best and most workable approach.

But if you do not think the future of our country and, by extension of your children if you have any or want any, is worth such research effort; if you are willing to abrogate your thinking ability to the talking spokesmouths who are openly and overtly biased and who have their own vested economic interest in the outcome to provide the talking points; if you give more credence to celebrities than trained historians and sociologists because they make it simple for you; and if, in fact, you are pining for the day government on federal and state levels realize that you are a victim and desperately need to be taken care of fiscally and shielded from your own choices and behaviors, then fine; it looks very much like you are getting your way and are gleefully bringing both state and country to ruin to do it.  Brick by brick, stone by stone you are helping our dear leader to dismantle the country given us by the founders so a new one can be rebuilt better suiting his view of how things should be.

The good news for you of the parasitic class is that each new freedom you give up will be easier than the last and less noticeable since you have fewer and fewer to worry about or count.  The great news for which you should be overjoyed is that you appear to be winning.

But you will never be able to count me as among your ranks.  I do not believe we need a “kinder, gentler” society as Bush the elder pronounced, but instead a leaner, tougher one.  No great civilization in the history of the world has even been able to pull itself back to its former glory and power after its collapse.  I think, and fear, we will be no different.   I see a national hourglass with far more sand in the bottom than in the top and an astonishing number of my fellow citizens pounding on it to make it run faster.

Does that answer the question?

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Social Security… is Neither

San Diego — I’ve been a bit out of touch having some fun on a field trip with students to Yosemite (you can read about it on my travel blog from the link in the right hand column).  Besides, to be honest with you I was growing weary of trying to shout a wake up call only to discover readers and listeners had very effective ear plugs and slept right through the alarm.

But events transpiring while I was off in beautiful surroundings have not stopped our devolution into a country that is nothing like the one I grew up in and certainly not one I want to see develop.  So much has happened i hardly know where to start.  So for this post I’ll start by re-visiting an old posting on Social Security.

Some of you may remember back when I wrote that by comparing Social Security to a Ponzi scheme, Governor Perry of Texas should apologize… to Charles Ponzi.  In Ponzi’s case he actually seemed to have tried to make the pyramid scheme work while our government never has.

I took a fair amount of flack over that characterization but thought to just wait and see who turned out to be right.  This week the government itself just told us the answer… I was right.

This week the government’s actuaries, who originally told the Obama administration and the public that the fund would be solvent… until 2036, re-examined their numbers and concluded that it will be in the completely out of money at least three years earlier than they thought when they tried their best to help Obama by saying that.  Now they have admitted the system will be bankrupt, that is not able to meet its obligations by 2033… at the latest.

Let me copy an article by Andrew Napolitano on this news.

“This revelation should come as no surprise to those who monitor the government and its deceptive ways. When he first introduced Social Security, President Franklin D. Roosevelt argued that under Social Security the federal government would be holding your money for you. He deceptively fostered the idea that Social Security would be a savings account, into which employees and employers would make contributions and out of which guaranteed monies would be paid to those who reached the age of 65. Essentially, he claimed that you’d get your money back.

“The politicians believed him, but the actuaries and the judiciary understood that the government would never hold anyone’s money for him — as if it were the custodian of a bank account. In the first of several challenges to the constitutionality of Social Security, the Supreme Court found that the Social Security fund did not consist of your money. It was merely tax revenue.

“Did you know that?

“It also held that since Congress’ law-making authority is limited to the 16 discrete delegated powers granted to it in the Constitution (a truism few in Congress accept as binding) but its spending authority is open-ended (a conclusion that must torment James Madison’s ghost), Congress could collect funds, claim it was holding the funds in a savings account and then spend those funds as it saw fit — for those in need after age 65 or for any other purpose.

“Did you know that?

“And, in a curious yet revealing one-liner in the Supreme Court opinion upholding the constitutionality of Social Security, even the court recognized that there would be no trust fund in the traditional sense when it found that the tax dollars collected and supposedly designated for Social Security were “not earmarked in any way.”

“Did you know that?

“Eventually, the government would acknowledge that what it first called a savings account and then called old-age insurance and then said would be fortified by a trust fund did not even establish a contractual obligation to those who have paid the Social Security tax — which would be all of us. Thus, the feds have conceded and the courts have agreed that the money you have involuntarily contributed to the so-called trust fund is not yours and can be spent by the government as it pleases, just like any other revenue that the feds collect.

“Did you know that?

“The so-called ‘trust fund’ is not money that the government “holds” for you, as FDR promised. It is not money to which you have a lawful claim, as he claimed. It is not a guarantee for you, as he led the public to believe. The so-called trust fund is merely the difference between what is collected and what is paid out. And the feds just acknowledged that in 21 years, they are likely to pay out more than they will collect.

“Perry did not succeed this time in his quest for the Republican nomination. But he did succeed in articulating a hard truth: The same federal government that prosecutes people like Bernie Madoff for paying out more than they collect does the very same thing under the color of law.

Is a Ponzi scheme — which is basically theft by deception — lawful just because the government runs it? The Supreme Court has, in the past, clearly said yes.”

This state, California, has done the same thing to its citizens.  The lottery, was sold to us and continues to be promoted as a source of funding for education, a need that in my opinion ought to be our first or at least second priority.  But the establishing law contained a clause that said if the State Assembly declared an emergency it could appropriate all of that revenue into the general fund.  And every year — EVERY YEAR — one of the first items of business when the Assembly convenes is to declare that emergency and appropriate all lottery revenues into the general fund where it can spend them in the same profligate ways it does all of the other tribute it receives from us vassals.

My Question is, “Are you OK with that?”  On either the state or federal level?  If so you will be thrilled with what is in store for you if Obama wins re-election.  The gloves are off and what you need to know is out there.  The problem is that the main stream news simply will not tell you, or else buries the data on the back pages knowing few will plow through all the garbage to get to it.

The real question, as November approaches, is a simple one; in fact I do not recall it ever being so simple and so straightforward.  Do you believe that you as an individual are entitled to protection from responsibilities and consequences and it is the government’s main role to provide you with everything you want?  Or do you believe  that each individual is responsible for their own well being and should rely on the government only when they have been blind-sided by catastrophic events for which they could not reasonably have been prepared?

Do you believe the government knows best how to run enterprise and best how you should spend your money and, in fact, how much you should make?  Or do you believe the best way to move the country forward is to have government do only what the Constitution, it now ignores, specifically provides grants it as its powers?

Do you believe the government ought to have the power to tell you how to live, what to do with your life and any revenues generated by your labors and can even force you to buy what it says or destroy your livelihood (as is going on now in Michigan where pig farmers are being told by the state that hogs are an “invasive species” and must be destroyed)?  or do you believe you know better what you should buy for yourself, how to spend what you earn, and have the right to apply yourself and move anywhere up the economic ladder your ambition and skills will take you and then be rewarded for that success?

THe philosophies on open opposition in this upcoming election have never, NEVER been clearer.  Prior to this election, those two opposing views have never been the real core values and policies for voters’ decisions about who should be president.  But they are the ONLY questions of value this time.  Entitlement or self-sufficiency are the core but competing principles driving the two sides and for the first time in our history we seem to have a growing number of people, mostly from the fantasy land of academia, the thug-ridden world of unions, or the delusional world of young people raised with a sense of entitlement for simply being alive, who believe openly in entitlements, socialism, and communism as viable economic and political theories.

They have, with marvelous misdirection, wrapped their rhetoric in the banner of democracy as if that was a magic word or concept and relied on the likelihood that most of the dumbed-down populace does not realize our country has never been and was not supposed to be a pure democracy, something Plato referred to as the rule of fools.

To accept the ideology that any of the flavors of socialism actually works to better the society it rules, unless some outside source of revenue apart from the tribute required of the population (such as in Finland where oil revenue props up the government) you have to toss out all of human political-governmental history.  Why?  Because of all the times those social theories have been applied, not a single example exists where it has raised the standard of living and improved living conditions despite its promise to do just that.

This time getting truly informed about what has and has not worked and why is critical.  You must, MUST, as was never before really necessary, do your research on this.  Don’t take what anyone tells you, including me, at face value until you have done your own research.  Find out for yourselves what has, in the litany of governments around the world and throughout time, worked and what has not.  And before you fall prey to the emotional arguments of “fairness” or that great canard of “social justice,” research how the success of various systems of economic and political authority changes with the level of complexity and maturity of the population being governed.  What works perfectly on a tribal, hunter-gatherer level falls apart starting with the agrarian, surplus driven stage of development.  And that perfect tribal system turns really ugly in the industrial stage.

Please, I beg you, don’t take my word for it, don’t take ANYone’s word for something so important as the future of this country and therefore the future of your children and grandchildren. Become truly, personally, individually informed.  Only with an informed electorate driving this republic will it have a chance of continuing.  One of the founders (the quote has been attributed to several people) when asked what they had just given the people, responded, “We have given you a Republic… if you can keep it.”

Never before, has that issue been more at the forefront of an election than this one.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Terms Change but the Issue Remains “Freedom”

San Diego – A few posts ago I showed how virtually all of the “freedoms” we take for granted or which are granted us by the Constitution are really all based on the results of a core freedom, the economic freedom that is attached to the Capitalist economic model.  Whenever and wherever that model is diminished, it comes at the price of some freedom or other.  The question continually then is “What Price Freedom?” or, put another way, how much freedom are you willing to give up for what appears to be (or is described to you as) an economic  benefit.  Are you, for example, willing to give up freedom to be taken care of by the government and not have to worry about supporting yourself?  Clearly, a lot of people are quite ready to make that decision in the affirmative.  Are you?  You are about to get the chance…

Some of you are old enough to remember when, in the presidential elections, in addition to the main stream candidates we also a gaggle of other office seekers including Gus Hall running on the Communist Party Ticket for four unsuccessful tries.  For some reason, lesser known among the “also rans” was Norman Thomas who ran on the Socialist Party ticket for six attempts at the presidency. it was over 40 years ago that Mr. Thomas issued the following boast…

 “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.”

Of course we have had socialist elements in our government since Woodrow Wilson.  A huge leap toward a socialist economy was undertaken by FDR using the crisis of WWII as an excuse and cover.  But the post war euphoria and boom, along with the wide-spread realization of where communism (the upper or later stages of socialist development according to Marx and Lenin) actually took a country due to a fairly clear view of the Soviet Union afforded by the war, its appeal waned as we soaked up the growth and prosperity of a capitalist society.

But memories fade, and a populace softens through generations of wealth and ease.  Remember ‘wealth’ and ‘poverty’ are comparative terms and a person on the poverty level in the US is far better off than middle class citizens in much of the world.  In many of the poorest neighborhoods in the US citizens have a working automobile and TV while in the Soviet Union, even though they made cars, you could not just go into a showroom and buy one and older cars were, as in Cuba, kept, maintained, and treasured since new ones were not available except to the elites.

But even though his economic philosophies have an unbroken history of failure, Marx was right in at least one sense, people have short memories and as soon as a parasitic class arises under the noses of the almost willfully ignorant upper classes, the situation is ripe for a change.  It is my belief that we are at that point right now.  We are being led by a person whose early years were modeled by a father who thoroughly embraced the centrally planned and commanded economy of the pure Marxist-Leninist ideology.  And in adult life he sat for 20 years under the teachings of a theology that taught the fundamentals of victimization and the socialist economical ideas of Marx framed in the more commonly palatable terms of liberalism and progressivism.  He is now using the debt and unemployment crisis for cover for the class conflict rhetoric just as FDR used WWII.

And no, before we go on let me clear the air on this one… I do not believe Obama created the debt crisis; it has been growing for years under several Presidents.  But he certainly has made it far worse and I think that escalation has not been simply a case of mismanagement by a bumbling idiot as some claim, but a carefully thought out strategy to accomplish an end he clearly annunciated but we chose to spin as best suited our own desires, not as he meant it.  We did not take him at his word because the words spoke something untenable so we interpreted them to fit our own needs.  And that was a huge mistake.

The liberals, who are putting all their faith in the Thomas prediction, mask it by calling anyone who uses the term “socialism” some wild-eyed loon or conspiracist. They know exactly what the term means but are relying on the extremely good odds that most of the population does not.  In our TV-drained minds socialism is socialism is socialism and all some thing other countries do, not us.  But that is a fatally flawed view and has never been the case.

From William Godwin, Robert Owen, Henri de Saint-Simon, down through Marx, Engels, Lenin, Wilson, Stalin, FDR, and Mao, the core concept of an economic system in which the means of production are either owned by the state or by the state in common with the citizens and are controlled cooperatively (meaning the State has a role in the command and control of the various means of production) has been expanded into various flavors from pure Marxist-Leninist, to even a variant known as libertarian socialism.  Most differ primarily in the degree of cooperation between the government and the people in controlling the means of production.  But most modern versions fall into one of two camps (or some blending of the two: “State Socialism” and “Social Democrats.”.

Those favoring “State Socialism” are in favor of the State owning and operating all of the means of production. However, those calling themselves “Social Democrats” favor public (read, “government”) control of capital and the means of production but within the broad outlines of a market-based economy.  That system, sometimes called “Market Socialism” includes various economic systems where the means of production and resulting capital are publicly owned, managed and operated for a profit in a market economy. The difference between that and capitalism is that capitalists prefer private ownership of production and the profit in a market socialist system would be used to directly remunerate employees or go toward public finance (i.e. the government) to distribute as they will.

However, to Marx and his followers, these were not separate ideologies but rather part of a continuum which, starting with a people in a revolutionary “moment” in time, progressed through the “Social Democracy” state to “State Socialism” and finally as the process unfolded, to pure “Communism.”  Is was not simply a slippery slope to him and his followers but the natural progression of economic history.

I would suggest that the assertions of Mr. Thomas are unfolding precisely as he expected and, further, that in accordance with that prophecy we are now being led further down the path; not by some wild Stalinist tyrant but by a person who has, based on his history and education, come to believe it is, in the most benign sense, where we ought to be headed for the good of all.  He believes this so strongly and thoroughly that he is willing to sacrifice another term in order to lay an inescapable groundwork for that, to him, inevitable, evolution — not because he is a bad guy, but because he sincerely and fervently believes America, as he found it, was a bad place and one he wanted to transform into a place more like what he believes a good place should be.

But I disagree.

This is still America, a place where competing ideas are supposed to be welcomed, discussed, analyzed, and voted on.  So having someone present his views is quite OK, after all Gus Hall and Norman Thomas did that for years in a very public run for the Presidency.  At least, that is, until Mr Thomas realized, as he noted in his quote, that the proper path to his goals was not through open presentation but by subterfuge and deceit.

We can even ignore that the ultimate end of that desired evolution into communism, even from the Market Socialism starting point, results in a system where there is common (meaning governmental) ownership of both the means of production and the capital being generated and, theoretically, free access to the articles of consumption.  Of course history has shown us in examples from Russia to Cuba to Venezuela to China how that always — always — devolves into an autocratic authoritarian despotic government.   Nevertheless we can continue to ignore that history and vote as if there wwas not a long line of precedents to evaluate.

Marx foresaw a superabundance of the articles of consumption under his system but historical experience has shown us that human nature simply does not respond to that idea and the result has inevitably and without exception been shortages of nearly everything and what does exist being manufactured in the shoddiest of ways. But we can set aside our memories, if we still have them, of life in the Soviet Union and its client states and how that jibes with our own American ideas as to how life should be.

After all, we, as a still free people are still free to argue for the various systems we think would best serve the country.  It is the President’s right to argue for his perspective as it is my right to disagree and oppose it. But in a few months his and my opinions will be subsumed into the collective opinions of the voting citizens of this country.  I believe another four years in the direction we are now headed will prove to be a huge economic disaster if, indeed, that disaster has not already been set in motion.  He believes that doing more of the same as he has done for the past years will solve it.  But as more and more “push back” is coming from the citizenry, he is now taking to calling those who disagree with him “unpatriotic” and playing to the victim, parasitic mentalities of those who want to be taken care of.

If you believe in his vision then you have the right to vote for him to continue on his path.  And who knows, perhaps he will be the first benevolent tyrant of the US and also the first one to ever, in the history of the world, to make a socialist economic model work.  Time alone will tell.  I could not possible disagree more with his world view and his policies and those who believe, as I do, that he is trying to transform this country into something I do not want for it, will vote for someone else almost out of desperation.  Once again I may be forced to vote, not FOR someone, but AGAINST someone.  What a tragedy.

But one thing is sure… this is set to become a most interesting next couple of years… it is nothing less than the issue of Freedom at stake.  No, not in the short term and that is the problem.  Americans are not long term thinkers, not chess players, in fact not even particularly good checkers players anymore.  Short term bottom line thinking has ruined businesses, ruined the economy, and now is working away at the country itself.  So the question is, does a short term increase at the level of slop in the feed trough seem worth giving away more of your freedoms?  Or not?

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Social Compact Unveiled

San Diego – When the 2008 presidential race seemed to be getting down to three candidates, Hillary Clinton, John Mc Cain, and Barrack Obama, I wrote a long piece, now in my writing collection on the web site, giving my analysis of those three.   It is online so you can verify what I am about to say.  (And no, as you can read there, I did not favorably review McCain and did not want him to be President.  Unfortunately I did not want any of the others, either…)

I wrote there, before it was the popular mantra of the talk radio circuit, that Obama was the best orator and the smoothest talker, but at heart he was an unrepentant socialist , a follower of so-called “Black Theology,” a glossed-over hard-bitten Chicago Pol who played go-for-the throat hard-ball politics, and basically had not a shred of serious leadership experience.

Finally, in the past weeks, in two addresses, King Barrack drew back the curtain to reveal for all who would listen, what he really is all about.  In an address to trot out his so-called budget, he invited the author of the competing budget to attend and sit in the front row and then proceeded to spend zero time defining the specifics of his own plan but considerable time excoriating the plan and intention of the man he invited to attend.

This was a blatant attempt at public humiliation that good old Richard Daley the elder would have enjoyed.  He basically accused Paul Ryan of wanting to kill old people and abandon children with various disorders.  It was cold, calculated, class-less, mean-spirited and done with an attitude and body language dripping with arrogance and totally dismissive of the opposition.  It displayed less than zero class.

Then, in the second speech, he uttered the phrase that tells us to what political philosophy he really adheres: that phrase was “The Social Compact.”  That is a very specific political phrase and concept; indeed it was that iconic phrase first employed by Jean Jacque Rousseau that gave the name to what we modernly call “socialism.” The “Social Compact” was essentially a contract, sometimes implied, sometimes written between the government and the public in which the people give up some or all of their personal freedoms in exchange for the protection of the government.  Sometimes it is legitimate protection in the forms of national defense.  But historically it has ranged the gamut from that legitimate need all the way down to protection from having to expend effort to care for one’s self or take responsibility for one’s choices.

Rousseau and William Godwin (father of Mary Shelley the author of “Frankenstein”) were the founding writers of the line of thought that has since threaded together Engles, Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, and slightly morphed itself, in order to be more palatable to American sensitivities, into modern progressive liberalism.  But as the sayings go, “A rose any other name…” or the more pithy, “If it walks like a duck… etc.”  A name change does not equal a change in core philosophy or intent.  And what we seem to have come down to is a highly charged and vitriolic contest between two opposing political philosophies more easily labeled as “individualism” verus “collectivism.”  And at the core of collectivist thinking is the idea of the social compact.

Let’s start with some widely accepted definitions for the various core political philosophies and approaches involved as they have played out over the years.  I have a simple mind so I will try to make these truly complex issues as straight forward as possible.  Too often, clever obfuscation is used to mask the true intentions of political types so let’s just cut to the chase in some simple laymen’s language.

Note, however, that the size of the social entity is not an issue: it could be a village, a tribe, a city-state, or a nation-state.  It is also important to understand there is a major difference between the political system (how leaders are chosen and the relationship of the people per se to each other, their government, and their laws) and the economic system (the ownership of the means of production and distribution).  While some economic systems seem inherently to evolve into certain political systems and vice versa as being the most optimal match, they still are two very different things.  Here we are talking primarily about economic systems though it is sometimes helpful to relate that to typically adopted political systems.

OK, here are some simplified definitions for purposes of discussion.

Socialism.  Following the original dictum of “From each according to his ability and to each according to his work” this sounds at first reading a lot like Capitalism.  But there is an important difference.  In a socialist society, the government controls the means of production and distribution.  It may allow private or semi-private ownership but the leadership of enterprise is under government control.  Government makes the rules and policies to which the businesses must adhere “for the common or social good.”

As the foundational philosophy for several other political systems, it is built squarely upon Rousseau’s famous “Social Compact.”  The government’s political system itself can be an autocratic form with a dictator or emperor, or it can have the façade of democracy where the people elect the current front man for the government who then appoints, outside of the electorate’s reach or parliamentary/congressional oversight, his “advisors” and chief governmental managers.  Interestingly, although there are some examples where the political system appears to be a democracy or republic, it seems more often to naturally degenerate into to being the home of so-called “elected” dictators where the winner is reported as receiving 90% or more of the vote and the losers generally are arrested or disappear.

European countries, and especially Scandinavian countries currently employ a sort of semi-benign socialism where the public, in exchange for huge chunks of their earnings, are pretty much taken care of from cradle to grave.  But we are seeing now throughout the European Union that, once again, and consistent with the complete history of political systems, such a system has fallen prey to Benjamin Franklin’s fear of the imminent danger of allowing the public to realize they can control and demand the size of the trough at which it feeds.  Their public has demanded and received far more “protection” from even frivolous wants than even their burdensome taxes can pay for.  Michael Moore to the contrary, neither a family, a business, or a country can long sustain an economic situation where you are spending more than you can take in.   As Margaret Thatcher observed, the problem with socialism is that in every case, pretty soon the government has run out of other people’s money in their attempt to legislate some form of cosmic “justice.”

The problem boils down to this: in order to carry the non-productive people but without providing motivation for the additional productivity, you have to do it by essentially extorting increasing tribute from the productive.  And, from an individual’s perspective, as motivation for productivity declines since, in essence, it starts to cost you to raise your productivity, and quickly it costs increasingly more than you can realize from your own efforts. That deficit is then enlarged as, inevitably, productivity itself starts to fall.

The demographics sooner or later have always created a collection of people where the non-productive so outnumber the productive that the productive can no longer (or WILL no longer) carry the load economically and the system collapses under its own weight.  That is, of course, not how it works on paper or in the minds of the founding social compact thinkers who assumed man was such an inherently benign and good creature that if merely given the chance would rise to the occasion and delight in expending their efforts for the common good.  it is not how it is supposed to work in the minds of college professors who preach its virtues to their eager students.  Of course at the same time there remains the underlying concept that “the people” were too stupid to know inherently what was good for them and so needed the guidance of a few enlightened leaders to show the way.  And no one advocating socialist concepts then or now seems to see what should be the obvious contradiction in those positions.

Communism and Marxism.  A slight modification of the dictum from above turns original socialism into communism where now it is “From each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.” This flows purely from the Marxian view of history as the story of unending class warfare and his (and his followers’) attempt to completely level the playing field by eliminating all class distinction.  In theory the “state” is the collection of the people; they are indistinguishable in terms of classes.  All means of production and distribution are “owned” collectively by the people.  In practice, the variation in abilities that the system disavows allows an untitled class to take control and rule “in the name of the people.”

Here the “government,” which is claimed to be a simple extension of the people, owns and directs both the means of production and the distribution of products claiming that it is actually the people who own it and all share alike.  A half step away from anarchism, it runs into the problem of having no chain of leadership and management: it is a ship in which every sailor mans his own tiller.  That is, of course, unworkable chaos so some entity must arise to “guide” the people.  Theoretically a form of pure democracy would be used to choose the leadership from amongst the body of citizens.  Then, also in theory, as it evolves, people are allocated tasks as determined by the democratically elected “government” and all are paid alike regardless of effort or productivity and provided “needs” as determined by the same government.  In the end, as Marx’s utopian dream unfolds the [political system ultimately becomes one of pure democracy in an idyllic environment.

The political system, in reality however, tends to quickly overwhelm the economic system as a few clever or powerful individuals determine quickly (a) they have no interest in being one of the masses, and (b) that they can manipulate the citizenry, one way or the other, who mostly just want to be taken care of.  Then a wonderful symbiosis takes place — the more the people want, the more they are dependent on the government, increasingly in the hands of these clever folks, and the more malleable the people become in the hands of their providers.

So, thus far, in every case where this system has been put in place, the “equal” ruling group somehow end up “more equal” with lots of money and perks and the remainder “all equal” people end up on subsistence and starvation level incomes, are purged if they dissent (so much for the people being important) and the human spirit goes into deep decline.  A single allowed “party” runs everything and leaders are selected internally from within the ranks of higher ranking party members though that selection might be rubber stamped by a highly rigged and controlled “election.”

Fascism.  This is a form of socialism based not, however, on some concept of equality, but on concepts of strength in which an open dictator is installed (with or without pretense of elections and often by a coup).  It is the modern version of Themistocles’s concept of “Might makes Right” masked at first with the pretense of some public input.  It combines the worst of socialism and communism by managing to almost re-create a feudal political system of patronage and corruption based on a dictatorship.

Fascist governments control the means of production and distribution of product as suits its needs but leave it generally to the real owners to decide the matter of “pay” for workers.  Here the social compact degenerates into the government promising to control the system and quash dissent and the people promising the shut up and work to support the state.  It is frequently fiercely nationalistic seeing its own people as inherently superior to all others so that fire-breathing oratory extolling national/social identity is often used to mask or excuse excesses to the detriment of those seen as undesirable; a status defined and institutionalized by the state.

Ironically too, in the end it becomes nearly indistinguishable in form or action from communism except that private “ownership” is allowed.  The most famous Fascist state, Hitler’s Germany, run by the National Socialist Party, solved many economic issues of production often by the expedient of using slave labor from groups seen as “inferior” thereby allowing some industrialists, like Krupp, to become very wealthy.  The greatest irony is that Fascist thinking is pretty much vehemently ANTI everything else: capitalism, socialism, communism, you name it and they are against it.

All of these are forms of a collective state flowing from the concept of a social compact in which the government, however established, was seen as the embodiment of enlightened leaders or “rulers” who, by whatever means, were the holders of sufficient wisdom to know best how to provide for the people who desperately needed such guidance.  And the people themselves who, by nature, ought to be thrilled by having the horrors of personal decision making removed from them and having the inequities flowing from varying degrees of strength, talent, and motivation removed so that the least of the people received the same as the highest of the people (excepting, of course, the enlightened rulers themselves) would be served in the most just way possible, generally suffered as the actual result was not the elevation of the masses but the destruction of the upper classes and with them the very people who could have hired and paid the masses for their labor.   And anyone who thinks government thusly run is efficient or good at running the business or industrial arm of a country need look no further than the old Soviet Union and talk to any – I mean ANY – of the businessmen who went there after the fall to try to help rebuild that country.

Failures galore notwithstanding, following this train of thought, it does indeed “take a village” to make life itself work well.  The community or state, in some ways reflective of Confucianism, is far more important than the individual which, in practice, is an ironic contradiction to the idea of economic and class egalitarianism where everyone on an economic level is seen as equal but on a political level is seen as occupying very different levels of competence and involvement.   At least Confucius entertained no such contradictions: to him, openly, the state was all important… period.  With that as a precursor, it makes sense that the Chinese version of Marxist Communism was so brutal to the people.

In pure communism the ideal of a single class was taken so pervasive as to even eliminate rank distinctions in the early red army of the soviets which, of course, led to disasters on the battlefield against Hitler’s army as no one could lead and the political leaders were so far removed from the battle or military experience as to be unable to form good tactical planning.  But even in this experiment with a class free society there were indeed imposed classes.  The political class and the political watchdogs were certainly far above the common people and it would be hard to argue that Stalin, for example, lived on the same economic plateau as the masses.   He too brutalized the masses but not because the doctrine encouraged it; it just turned a blind eye to it out of fear of him.

Stateism.  This term defines a trans-political system concept in which The State itself is the most important thing.  It is a modern version of Confucius’s thinking but can be applied to nearly any political system.  It does however degrade the public into being simply the grease in the cogs of the State which exists largely for itself and the power of its leaders and continues because it has turned the public into such a state of dependency that they need the State not just to prosper but, ultimately, just to survive.  It is the “It Takes a Village” concept on steroids.

The systems based more on the power and freedom of the individual flow from the writings of Locke, Burke, and Jefferson.  And they are not based on individual enlightenment as the basis for leadership but on reliance upon systemic wisdom gained by cultural experience and historical awareness.

Capitalism.  Capitalism, or “Free-Marketism,” is the economic and social expression of Darwinism.   Purely speaking, there is no official “Social Compact” in the same sense as it is meant by the socialist philosophers.  In capitalism each and every individual is free to pursue, to the best of their abilities and resources, any goal they wish and are willing to work toward.  The “freedom to fail” is a prime motivator because a safety net, if it exists at all, is in place only for those who cannot, CANNOT for reasons of mental or physical health or being blindsided by some calamity, take care of themselves.  There is no safety net for those who simply WILL not involve themselves.

To work, the system requires not just self-interest, but enlightened self-interest.  Enlightened self-interest comes from the ability to see the long picture and to realize that one’s own self interest is most often tied into the interest of other people and entities apart from one’s own narrow environment.  The enlightened capitalist understands clearly that their best interest is served when the country’s interests are served and country-wide growth and prosperity is attained.

But when the “enlightened” part slips away, and short-term, bottom-line thinking and avarice takes over, then the approach descends rapidly into the next category.

Materialism or “Crony Capitalism.”  This is a truly unholy mixture of Capitalism infused with some form of Socialism, often even Fascism.  It mixes the political and economic systems so that they both serve the needs of a few in power.  Akin to the concept of an Oligarchy, greedy prime movers behind the scene manipulate players in all parties to keep the people stirred up and essentially distracted so that economically they can proceed to rape the system.

It is essential to learn something from Macciavelli; money does not buy power, money is a by-product OF power.  And Power is achieved through dependencies.  Having money does not inherently give me power over you; but making you dependent on me most certainly does.  If I hold the keys to your future happiness and perhaps even survival then I have enormous power over you and from that will flow the money… from you to keep me happy and providing the things you want and need since you can no longer acquire them for yourself.  This paragraph, may be the most important one in this post since it contains the keys you need to know to evaluate the approaches being sold to you by politicians.

It is the ultimate in corruption because it is essentially covert in nature behind a mask of “serving the common good,” often even a mask of some form of benign socialism.  It is a system which, in virtually every case, has taken the worst from all other systems and put it into effect behind the curtain driven totally by personal greed unburdened by any thoughts of how that will effect the larger picture and, in the end, even themselves.

None of these systems, except perhaps Fascism and Materialism, is inherently evil.  It is just that some lend themselves to degradation more easily than others.  And some correspond more closely to the realities of human nature and how we, as a species, operate, think, and are fulfilled in our “pursuit of happiness.”  What separates them, in my opinion, is not degrees of inherent malice, it is in the degree to which they truly recognize and deal with human nature as it is not as we might wish it to be.

All of them were attempts by early humans to form a system by which humans, deciding the pre-agrarian, pre-currency “hunter-gatherer” approach (where, interestingly, a more collective economic approach is often far more efficient) has far less to recommend itself to them than the easier life of a surplus-based agrarian or industrial society, define rules of social and civil interaction calculated to allow that group of individuals to survive and flourish.  But as the needs of the group change along with its size, from family to band to tribe to village to city-state to nation-state, so too does the most efficient system to oversee their relations to one another economically and politically.

The social compact, derived in no small part to the (then) new studies of anthropology and sociology busily analyzing the working of primitive societies, which apart from the occasional forays into butchering the neighbors in a series of endless “pay back” raids was seen then as idyllic existences where the wisdom of these “noble savages” could be a beacon for us moderns who had forgotten how to “get along.”  No we hadn’t… we had moved beyond it on nearly every level and now especially since we had so refined the machinery of war and death-dealing while we were refining the machinery of benign production, needed to break away from that and learn something very different.   But that meant one had to admit we were not angelic in our natures but rather the apex predators our big brains and adaptability had made us.  We did not have the longest claws or the sharpest teeth but we could make instruments that rendered fang and claw nearly irrelevant and we had not had the evolutionary time to alter our inquisitive, acquisitive, predacious nature.  What was needed was a system to harness it into something less socially disruptive, harmful, and counter productive than we naturally gravitated to.  Left to our own devices we quickly became materialists as defined above.  Excesses of that led to regulations but the regulations were based not on enlightened thinking but upon corruption of one sort or another and so were unevenly applied with the result that the excesses now targeted the weaker portions of the group.

And now we are back at a point where we are re-examining what to do as a country and in some places, as a world community.  It does not appear to me that either side of that debate has learned even the slightest amount of knowledge from history ancient or recent.  One side, profiting mightily from it, merely wants to retain the materialist status quo without giving a moment’s thoughts to the long term disasters to which that avoidance of the “enlightened” long view will lead.  And the other side, so scandalized by the excesses of the materialists, is just sure that we can escape all of the lessons of history and return to that social compact model and this time make it work.

I think King Barrack’s policies will lead to catastrophe, but then I also think a continuation of the status quo will do the same thing.  I believe that for one brief shining moment in the history of human social engineering, for whatever reasons, the giants among the founding fathers of our country got it right.  Yes there were some dissenters who brilliantly presented their views: Hamilton coming quickly to mind.  But in the end, the minds and debates of Madison, Adams, Jefferson, etc. created a truly workable civil system that with but minor tweaking is as viable and workable today as it was then because it, of all systems tried, what those gentlemen created has best accommodated human nature and turned it toward the building of a culture and country that, until we started to lose our way early in the last century, stood as an example and beacon to the rest of the world of “how to do it.”

The great Obakarama has no clue.  But, alas, it appears that neither do any of his opponents.  I think we are in grave trouble as a nation and a culture.  The difference is that King Barrack has a vision and the others do not.  I am opposed to his vision and especially to the problem that the only way to bring it about is to tear down the current system since it will not readily evolve into what he sees as the ideal place.  But i also know you cannot beat a vision without having one of your own.  We have no modern Jeffersons or Madisons or Adamses and many seek to return to a bit of wishful thinking about a past that never existed.

Such views are doomed to failure.  And with that clash i think we have every potential of bringing down this country once and for all.  It scares me to death.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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