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The Ugly Reality of How it Works… And Why

San Diego — The sequester — so-called although it is a semantic oxymoron… but then again, it is elected officials we are talking about — is about a week old.  Thus far the apocalypse we were told was inevitably descending on us like a financial tsunami has failed to materialize.  But an odd dance is now playing out that ought to tell everyone willing to watch and (dare I say it?) THINK, just what kind of stuff our leadership is made of… and how badly it smells.

After the administration started making a career of complaining loudly and with a degree of pathos that makes a dog begging at the table seem disinterested, that due to this Draconian and unthinkable axe, critical governmental activities would be curtailed, the House offered a Bill to allow the president to be more flexible in picking and choosing what would get cut so long as the final tally was undisturbed.  Sounds reasonable.

But he reacted as if they has offered him the hot end of a branding iron… which of course is what they did by calling his bluff.  If accepted, he would now have to publicly be seen not only as the author if the idea in the first place, which he was, but now would be seen as the person picking and choosing.  That is a task guaranteed to make no one happy even though it offers the best opportunity to date to selectively get rid of the financial weeds while hoeing around and sparing the good stuff.  Worse it means he would have to make a public decision and stand by it, unable to vacillate and worm out of it with his prodigious rhetorical abilities.

At first blush though his response makes absolutely no sense.  Despite the PR danger attached, if he wishes to fundamentally transform America as he says clearly, this is probably the best chance to do it. If he is truly an enlightened leader then he would jump at the chance to demonstrate his nearly superhuman wisdom in a way to make the ghost of Solomon writhe in envy.  Even his economic God, Keanes wrote that the way to bring down a government was economics and the debauchery of the currency and Obama is doing both.  So why not go all-in and make it clear what you want to kill and what you want to protect?  After all, he claimed the almost 2% majority that voted for him was a “mandate” of biblical proportions for his policies.

But Thomas Sowell — a real economist — wrote the disturbing answer in his own blog.  And it is as frightening as it is ugly, mostly because it has that inescapable ring of truth to it that can only be associated with politics.  With apologies to Dr. Sowell since I do not have it in front of me, I’ll paraphrase it but the gist is the same.

He wrote of an exercise he used to give his students in which they were to imagine a government bureaucracy that was created and, over time, evolved into having two activities under its charge (neither of which was the original intent but then, hey, it is the government and it is a bureaucracy).  The first was to feed hungry and homeless children.  The second was to build statues in parks across the land to Benedict Arnold trying to change his image and pointing out that before his little indiscretion, explainable easily to an self-entitled populace, that he was a hero, a brilliant strategist, and that despite that, he was passed over unfairly and so therefore justified in changing sides in mid stream and treasonous stabbing his country and his benefactor in the back.  And both activities of this agency were working just fine, getting lots of government money to keep them running, and a cadre of desk-bound bureaucrats fed and coddled.

But then the budgets were slashed by the evil opposition and they would have to curtail one of the activities.  But which one?  The children or the statues?  The students, after a careful examination of other governmental decisions, came to the only politically savvy conclusion: stop feeding the children.

What?  What kind of cold-hearted wretches could come to such a stance?  Politicians and bureaucrats sadly find it a no-brainer. You cut the kids because that does two things in the agency’s benefit.  First it makes an emotional case against the cuts per se, and second, that humanitarian cause is valid and needed so sooner or later the money will be returned.

But if they cut the statue activity, too many people will look at that, wonder why we were EVER spending money on such a hare-brained scheme, and kill that activity forever.  THat is death to a bureaucrat.

Now if you have been paying attention to the news and the government’s responses to the budget cuts, this ought to start making a sort of malevolent and highly Machiavellian sense.  Good ol’ Nicollo wrote in “The Prince”  that now and then the Prince needs to turn the dogs loose on the people so they will be so grateful when he calls them off.

Meantime, the lack of national collapse is not escaping attention and is instead calling attention to all of the cries about impending doom and disaster as being, perhaps, a bit hyperbolic and, worse, political gaming.  That, of course, cannot go unpunished.  So I would expect to see, using the story example above as a metaphor, more starving kids’ programs being very publicly cut and the other side more roundly blamed for it so the current Prince can make everyone so happy when he “convinces” the spineless opposition to capitulate and give him the money he wants.

And then, just as Maciavelli predicted for Lorenzo de Medici, the people will feel gratitude and once again line up behind his banner no matter where it is actually leading them.

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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Memo to Central Banks: You’re debasing more than our currency

San Diego:  Many times in the past I wrote about what i saw as the unintended but inescapable results of our current federal monetary policies.  But since we have re-elected an administration that has been dedicated to this policy, against all common sense and historical data, I thought maybe it was just me that was out of step. So off I went for some in-depth economic and historical research.

One of my favorite sources of data, as you all know, is Stratfor where I go for some of the best open source intelligence about the world geopolitical and security issues.  But another favorite is John Mauldin’s Outside THe Box blog. What i especially like about his newletters is that he often presents multiple sides of an issue and frequently re-publishes essays, white papers, and newsletters from major players in the world of economics.

In this case he has republished a paper from Dylan Grice of Societe Generale ( a major european bank located in France) bringing an unprecedented historical overview of what has happened in the past.  For you pretenda Keynesians who believe he would support the current actions, he has a long quote from that same economic guru of the liberal progressives that may startle you and hopefully institute something radical… thinking for yourselves.  After all his bank is from one of the leading European Socialist governments around.  But to be successful, socialism, just like any other “ism” requires sound monetary policies to at least keep the elites well fed, in power, and with enough stuff to keep the public trough flowing.

So here is the link.  It is long but the material in it is critical and objective since it did not come from our shores or from someone with a political axe to grind vis-a-vis American politics.

Memo to Central Banks: You’re debasing more than our currency.

The issue for many is whether or not that trend can be reversed.  I don’t think so; i think we have gone too far down this road to reverse it.  Over and over from the late 1990s i said that by the 2016 election would would have cast in stone our path to either recovery of our core foundational precepts or gone over the edge to our ultimate social and culture demise.

Had the election gone other than it did I would ahve withheld judgement to see whether or not Romney could start a course change on this ship of state despite my misgivings as to either his ability or intention of doing so.  But the re-election of a man, in my opinion, dedicated to the destruction of all that remains of that foundational system so he can lead the rebuilding of a new, transformed America along the lines of ther dreams of his father, I think we simply poured an ocean of WD40 on that slope and the likelihood of us escaping it are incredibly slim.

I am aware that many are in favor of the change that he talks about but I think they are terminally naive as to both what he REALLY is doing and where it will take us all.  The link above and the white paper to which it goes provides one likely answer to that.  And it is not one I am happy to see.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Who is Really to Blame?

San Diego:  One of the most influential columnists writing on the American Political scene was Charley Reese, originally with the Orlando Sentinel.  He was the only columnist i ever heard of who on an annual basis listed his affiliations, memberships, and philosophies because he believed readers should know the biases of the people they were reading.

In 1985 Mr. Reese penned the first version of an article that he edited and updated over the years and which was so clean and powerful even after his retirement from writing it has been “updated” by other writers who have substituted current names, population figures, and events then circulated these on the internet and via email..  But even so they have credited the new versions back to him because of the influence of his name.

Later versions as actually written by Mr. Reese were a bit more polished than the original, but as we come into the next big season of watching politicians blame the other guys for the ills of the country and world, I believe that from the first iteration of the article he accurately and succinctly pulled back the curtain and revealed just who was REALLY responsible and continue to BE responsible despite their disclaimers and whining all to maintain their jobs and power.  So as a sort of “guest” blogger, below is a reprint of the early version of the article by Charlie Reese.

“The 545 People Responsible For All Of U.S. Woes

BY Charley Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don’t write the tax code. Congress does. You and I don’t set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don’t control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices – 545 human beings out of the 235 million – are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank.

I excluded all but the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislation’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

A CONFIDENCE CONSPIRACY

Don’t you see how the con game that is played on the people by the politicians? Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of Tip O’Neill, who stood up and criticized Ronald Reagan for creating deficits.

The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating appropriations and taxes.

O’neill is the speaker of the House. He is the leader of the majority party. He and his fellow Democrats, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetos it, they can pass it over his veto.

REPLACE SCOUNDRELS

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 235 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts – of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can’t think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red. If the Marines are in Lebanon, it’s because they want them in Lebanon.

There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take it.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exist disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people and they alone are responsible. They and they alone have the power. They and they alone should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses – provided they have the gumption to manage their own employees.”

So why don’t we do it?  Why don’t we give them the boot?  I believe it is because despite our collective rhetoric to the contrary, as a country we have gone soft and in fact want the goodies that have flown to us, rich and poor, from the public coffers.  Another writer recently was trying to explain to his kids the problem we are in and proposed a hypothetical story by way of illustration.  He set the stage by telling them that two kids were running for student president.  One of them offered them all daily lollipops even though he could not afford them and was taking from the student account to buy them and the other tried to explain that they were out of money and needed to sell some of the desks.  The father then asked his kids who they would vote for and they both replied they would vote for the kid with the lollipops.

Well, we so-called adults using only our childish mentalities keep voting for the people offering the lollipops even though with our allegedly more sophisticated awareness of the world and economics we know, or should know, that the money is not there for them and the desks are going to have to go anyway.  Everyone of the politicians up for election in 2012 is going to tell you the problems, which they admit exist, were caused by “them” (those nasty mean people of other political persuasions).

Charley Reese showed in his article how that was not true.  And in doing so, also showed us, at least by implication, how to really solve it.  Unfortunately we have voted for lollipops for so long we now are not only needing to sell of the desks, we may have to hold classes in a tent in a vacant lot to pay not just for more lollipops already promised but for the debt service on the money we had to borrow long after we ran out of actual money to buy more lollipops while those poor old desks were falling apart anyway.

I’m going to vote to kick them all out and start over and by doing so take back the government to its rightful owners… us.  But I am one paltry little vote in a state overwhelmingly addicted to lollipops.  If ever there was a wilderness in which a lone voice might be crying, it is here.  But how about you?  Are you going to vote for more lollipops or are you going to stand up and say it is better for us to sit on the ground in a tent and finally start getting our economic and governmental house back in order?

Because at some point we have to realize Charley Reese was wrong.  He enumerated those 545 people because he said they held the power.  But they hold the power only because WE, the people, gave it to them and continue to keep giving it to them.  Why would they think we actually want other that what we have gotten for the last half century since we keep voting it back into place pretending that by voting for the various labels they actually will bring the change we hope for; that they will stop digging instead of digging us deeper?

Why, based on the most surface analysis, would we ever think that?  Those 545 people have done the evil deeds but they have done them, and continue to do them, solely because we have given them the power.  Isn’t it time we take it away?

 
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Posted by on August 5, 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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