Thursday, 24 October 2013

A Quick Response to Russell Brand at the New Statesman

In his recent New Statesman editorial Russell writes very eloquently and perceptively and humorously ("it's long, there are jokes") of the rational apathy of most citizens toward their political process:

There’s little point bemoaning this apathy. Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people.

Apart from the implication of that "no longer", which I will get to in a moment, this is a worthy point and, imho, an accurate and useful insight into the declining political participation rate in all the self-styled liberal western democracies.

Where it really humps the mako, though, is this bit:

A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve.

Yes, it is true that we're all sent to government-designed schools that teach us government-mandated curricula, that tell us of our glorious government-approved democratic history and how the wonderful system of government we have today - about which we've just agreed few of us give a shit, so indifferent is it to us -  was designed to serve us.

The problem is, it wasn't.

It is not true that the system was designed to serve us, and nor has this ever been true.

The system was designed to serve the designers of the system, and that wasn't and isn't us.

As wonderful a document as the US Constitution is, it was designed by a handful of people to serve the interest of their own class: the very narrow class of white, educated, wealthy, privileged land-owners.

It still does this today, as it has done since 1789.

As great as the ramifications of the Magna Carta have been for the English speaking peoples of the world, it was designed by a handful of barons to serve the interests of barons. They never intended it to apply to their serfs - their property - and could not imagine that it ever would.

In spite of the progress that our fore- fathers and mothers wrested from the cold bloody hands of their lords and masters, it still serves as the public relations theme for a system that ignores us in between trampling on us.

(It's interesting that in every other context in which these barons are discussed, other than the Magna Carta, they're referred to universally as "robber barons". Only when the great charter is the subject are they, somewhat idiotically, revered for accidentally betraying their entire class by using overly ennobled language in their mutual-defence pact with the divinely appointed Monarch.)

You can tell that the system was designed to serve the interests of those already wealthy and powerful enough to impose their wills on the design, because that is what it has always done. If you only look at the fact that it does this today, you might naively conclude that it's original intent has been somehow perverted, that slowly the corrupting effects of power have twisted the original design into its present malign character.

But if you look into history you find that the system has always served the interests of the few, the designers - the Deciders, as then-President GWB styled himself and his class - at the expense of the many.

There are corrupting effects of power - the 'interests' of the powerful are growing, they are individually and collectively becoming more ruthless and less reticent in their use of the system to extract wealth and power from us all, but the nature of the system remains unchanged.

Its purpose, the principles of its design, the character of its operations, remain unchanged.

If you're going to be a radical, and strike at the root of the political corruption in our society, then you're going to have to give up the authorised history you've been taught, along with the implicit allegiance to the system that taught it to you, which goes with that history.

It's kind of a package tour.

Isn't that exactly the message of your own refusal to participate in the sham of voting?

Why then participate in the sham of a history that never happened?

Anyway, not to carp; the rest of the article was superb. Even where I disagree with you on some minor point, I applaud the passion and the perception that went into it. The fire in the heart is unmistakable and very welcome.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Global War of Eco-Terror

As I trudged through the snow* on my way to work this morning, contemplating the eternal verities, and/or the notion that there’s only a few more years until we never have any more snow (depending on your pov), I thought of you guys.

I pondered how I might explain to you precisely how and why you’ve been suckered by the Global War of Eco-Terror. I thought the Global War of Terror might make a useful stalking horse. Just like the Global War of Terror, the Global War of Eco-Terror has consequences directly opposite to the objectives claimed by its proponents.

You see, on the one hand we have this enormous military power, the United States of America, which has divided the world into satraps, vassals, and enemies-du-jour. Its military regional command structure explicitly states that it has interests it must 'defend' in all parts of the globe. There is nothing that happens anywhere on the entire planet that is not somehow its business.

Its notion of 'defense' is adventurous to say the least; brutal, bloody, and unrecognisable to anyone familiar with Webster’s but unfamiliar with American Realpolitik.

Ranged – nominally – against this barbarous behemoth is Al Qaeda, a ragtag assemblage of the fanatical, the foolish, the frustrated and fraught families and friends of the victims of our first protagonist. Its resources are few, its military capabilities non-existent, the threat it presents in statistical terms similarly invisible; both in terms of other threats to the life of the average westerner (more likely to be stung to death by killer bees) and in terms of the demonstrably global and indiscriminate lethality of its enemy (which has incontrovertibly killed millions during AQ’s brief existence, to AQ’s highly-disputed hundreds).

The first openly states that global domination is its sole objective and prerogative; the aims of the second are far less ambitious.

The first openly threatens defectors and dissenters with pre-emptive nuclear attack, and is presently at open war in 6 or 7 sovereign nations; the second has not managed an unqualified successful terror operation in over a decade (perhaps longer [?], depending on who or what you believe about 9/11).

But, ignoring the many orders of magnitude of distinction between these two parties on every quantifiable dimension, our political class has managed to successfully sell the narrative that the first is benign, benevolent, and beautiful, while the second is deadly, dangerous, and despicable - in the words of the idiot hordes, an existential threat to all of western civilisation.

Many many people [claim to] believe this narrative, although it is patently untrue, obviously concocted for pure political purposes, and frankly stupid.

The other pungently relevant detail is what a friend of mine calls the “X ... therefore, tyranny” game. The answer to any problem, any threat real or imagined, any decline in our own wealth (relative or absolute), or any perceived public issue whatsoever, is always to hand more power over to the people already abusing it for their own larcenous ends.

Al Qaeda ... therefore, tyranny.

Poverty ... therefore, tyranny.

Unapproved drugs ... therefore, tyranny.

Ecological damage ... therefore, tyranny.

Biodiversity loss ... therefore, tyranny.

Crime ... therefore, tyranny.

Public debt ... therefore, tyranny.

Dissent and disobedience ... therefore, tyranny.

Shonky elections ... therefore, tyranny.

We were attacked by persons unknown ... therefore, tyranny.

Any feckin half-saleable excuse whatsoever ... therefore, tyranny.

Our governments are not the only people running this kind of 'David & Goliath ... therefore, tyranny' scam.

Monsanto, for example, like to crack on and on about how they’re genetically engineering an end to famine. Problem is that what they’re actually doing is trying to corner the market on food crop reproduction, and to achieve this they need to create artificial scarcity. For this to work, their genetically modified frankenfoods have to be the only available option. (That’s how a good capitalist arsehole maximizes return on investment, don’t ya know?). So, what they are actually aiming at is to create a global famine. It's the same principle as above: submit or die. Pay or starve.

The pharmaceuticals are in the same racket. They like to crack on and on about healthy living and life extension, but their shameless bribing of doctors, at the expense of public health funds, to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics, is creating killer bacteria resistant to every-fuckin-thing. If we don’t hang some of them soon they’re going to kill us all. Their bird-flu and swine-flu scams are not only the same game but interact enthusiastically with many governments also playing the same game, using the same invented pretexts.

Both of these examples are predicated on the same bullshit scenario peddled by our governments. In response to a problem which is either (A) largely illusory, and/or (B) the direct consequence of prior political/economic idiocy – in other words, in response to problems that shouldn’t exist anyway – they’re busy making even bigger problems and calling them solutions, seeding the ground for the next cycle of the same narrative exploit.

They spend enormous marketing dollars to scare up the small problem, and to minimise the larger problems they’ve created as ostensible solution thereto, just so they can kick the can down the road a few feet and continue playing the game. There are many other examples of this practice that you can identify if you start looking. The Left / Right major parties in every western democracy play this exact same game within the larger game, using each other as the scary dangerous problem to be solved, and themselves and their own policies as the lethally stupid but nominal solutions thereto.

Coming back to the Global War of Eco-Terror, otherwise known as anthropogenic global warming / climate change / extreme weather events / bullshit label du jour: the relativities are exactly aligned. There are massive, serious, ongoing, and visibly-degrading-as-we-speak environmental and ecological problems in our world. A lot of them we have caused and we are making worse every day. Many of them are the consequence of irresponsible industrial practices that would make Mephistopheles blush. Few of them are getting any public attention because the overwhelming narrative, and thus the overwhelming attention capture, that is being blasted at full volume across the planet, is global warming. But global warming is a crock. It’s a fake alarum designed to distract from the real issues and secure further tyranny (and funds, of course). It is a fantasy concocted with deliberate malice aforethought, designed from the ground up to defraud the general public and enrich the few.

There simply isn't any evidence that global warming is presently outside of normal variation, nor that increased warming would be catastrophic, nor that damaging the technological underpinnings of our civilisation would do anything effective to avert the predicted ecological consequences.

These are just the elements of the narrative being used to stampede us into giving more power to our abusers.

And it is manifestly working.

It is not working for you and I, of course, who are merely the suckers paying for it.

It is working for the same clique of political shysters and industrial robber barons that the left / liberal / libertarian / progressive axis rage against every day. Funding in the tens of billions and global political power is flowing towards the centre and away from the periphery, as a direct consequence of the global warming hysteria.

Cui bono, mofos?

Bullshit mumble bullshittherefore, tyranny. Here's a classic example, from a comment at the Guardian:

@TheGreatBarzoni - I read Glenn all the time and come away ALL the time with the thought that he is the most eloquent formulator of thought on Constitutionally based civil liberties and due process I have ever read.
How can I think that, be a card carrying progressive and yet understand how someone like Dick Cheney (whom I loathed) or the President Obama (whom I love) infuses the presidency with extra judicial power in not necessarily the time of just any war but THIS war. Why is this different? It is different because the technological means exist and the US opposition is still patiently determined to certainly hurt and in a long term goal use any weapon it can to destroy our nation. Now if you love to argue ideological ideals while Washington and our nation burns as our opposition would simply love to do, then fine. But I would prefer that this nation survive. I am rather fond of breathing thank you very much and love this country with all its flaws. I think President Obama saw when he took office just how great the threat really is and it is HIS job and his alone to protect the nation. What did Cheney say? The Constitution be damned...well I do NOT say that exactly but I DO see a kind of expediency and unitary power of the executive at certain times that few see while behind a computer sitting in a nice warm house with the electricity running.
Do you know, can you realize what it would mean for our nation's foes to get their hands on devices which send a chill down my spine? I am sorry but I think so far at least the president has kept us safe. ... I hope. Am I sure? Hell no but I surely hope he has and will. I LOVE our nation's Constitution and its civil liberties for all crimes EXCEPT those crimes where the subject is dedicated to the eradication of our way of life.
I know some of you were, just a couple of years ago, commenting in Greenwald threads that the gulf oil spill could wipe out all life on Earth. I bring this to your attention here, not to embarrass you but simply to point out the additional parallel between the manifestly idiotic chicken little fear expressed in the quoted text above - that all western civilisation stands in peril of destruction from terrorists - and the same fear-driven emotional excess you displayed in that time.

Your fears are being manipulated, multiplied, and used against you. And some of you, some of whom are otherwise intelligent, thoughtful, and benevolent people, have allowed this to happen to you. It is not that your concern for our environment is wrong - we are certainly not taking care of it as we ought - but that your concerns are being manipulated, multiplied, and used against you.

Al Gore is not your friend; he is an integral part of the same system of which the Obama administration is merely another part. The UN is not your friend nor protector. It is, too, merely a part of that same system. The IPCC is not trying to save the world, merely feathering its own (temporary) nest. Nancy Pelosi is not saving the world, she is a part of what is destroying it.

We are being distracted from real and immediate dangers by high-volume, constant, raging noise about dangers that are remote, illusory, and/or invented.

Please give this some consideration. Note the parallels I have drawn. Ask yourself if there could be any merit to this idea. Dont take my word for it. Check it out for yourselves. Do the leg-work, read the material, and think about the evidence.

If nothing else, you will at least have some understanding of how I see these things. Maybe we could start a conversation from there ...

[*written earlier this year, as an intended response to a Guardian CiF comment]

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

SSA Question for KTFW

Thanks. I am thinking specifically of the special issue securities used to replace actual money in the SS (ahem) lock box. Any idea? The treasury issues them, so would a gov agency underwrite them, would a bank underwriter, or would the trust itself, in this case SSA?
The SSA refers these questions to the Bureau of the Public Debt (part of Treasury), which refers to the FFB (Federal Financing Bank, est 1973(!)) and to the Monthly Statement of the Public Debt, and associated FAQs. Treasury also provides a monthly statement on federal trust funds, including the Federal Old Age Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the same for the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund. These seem to indicate that the securities are issued directly by Treasury and that they form the total of fund assets (or close enough to it as makes no odds). i.e.
make up 2.660 trillion of a total assets of 2.667 trillion for the FOASI Trust Fund, and and 103.8 billion of a total assets of 104.5 billion for the FDI Trust Fund. These are occasionally referred to as special securities, but their special nature is (apparently) only in the conditions under which they are issued, and who is authorised to issue and purchase them, and not in their backing. Like other Treasury-issued securities they are backed by the "full faith and credit of the US government", whatever that is worth.

In turn, Treasury raises funds in the open market by the sale of notes, bonds, and etc ... as you know.

According to them, these - currently totalling 16.9 Trillion - are owned about 1/3 by the Fed (i.e. the banking cartel), about 1/3 by foreign governments/investors, and about 1/3 by "private investors", the vast majority of which are large domestic financial, insurance, and retirement fund businesses.

As far as I can see, like so many things that started in and around 1973, the whole thing works as a giant machine to redistribute wealth upwards, but under the guise of insuring your pension. The federal government is now owned by foreign governments and big businesses, by the largest international banks, and by domestic big businesses, about 1/3 each.
"The borrower is servant to the lender"
-Solomon, King over Israel, ~950BC
Hence, the current state of congress, the executive, and the courts ...