Sunday, August 4, 2013

Our Founding Principles

"When economic interest is seen behind the political clauses of the Constitution, then the document becomes not simply the work of wise men trying to establish a decent and orderly society, but the work of certain groups trying to maintain their privileges, while giving just enough rights and liberties to enough of the people to ensure popular support."
-- Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States

I have only just started reading Zinn's book, but so far nearly every chapter has held some revelation about the real nature of the U.S. constitution: it is, at bottom, a classist, racist, sexist document designed solely to maintain the wealth of the aristocracy that had already grown up in the American colonies by the 18th century.

The framers of the constitution were not trying to make an egalitarian society, by any stretch of the imaginaiton. In order for the Revolution to take place, The People had to be convinced that they had a stake in opposing the British, but the rich instigators of the rebellion had also to make sure that they did not become targets of the inflamed rabble themselves.

The exclusion of blacks (who, as slaves, comprised 20-50 percent of the population at the time, depending on which area you counted), non-property-owning whites, native Americans and women from participation in the new government pretty much says it all.

These are things we all know, but until now, I have written them off to the prevailing social norms of the times during which the constitution was written and the country formed. Not any more. The next time someone tells me the social safety net has to be destroyed because it goes against the wishes of the original framers of the constitution, I'll believe them, in a way.

Take a look around: What Charles & David Koch have done to Wisconsin through Scott Walker's governorship, they fully intend to do to the rest of the country. Representative democracy is all but dead in Walker's Dairyland. The original constitution was designed to hold real democracy at bay.

This is anti-democratic, anti-commoner, and inhumane. But it is also the original intent of the founding "fathers."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meanage Ninja McTurtles

Change the rules, Harry. Enough of this shit already:

 CongressYearsMotions FiledVotes on ClotureCloture Invoked
1132013-2014 302316
1122011-2012 1157341
1112009-2010 1379163
1102007-2008 13911261
1092005-2006 685434
1082003-2004 624912
1072001-2002 716134
1061999-2000 715828
Courtesy US Senate

Don't bother with the Meanage Ninja McTurtles. They're going to make you pull the trigger eventually.

So just do it.

Reagan Drops Keep Fallin' on My Head ...

The growing gap between skyrocketing corporate profits and the geometrically growing fortunes of the piggish 1% and the stagnant or falling household incomes of the rest of us is not attributable to work ethic, intellect, or entrepreneurial-ism on the part of rich. It began with Ronald Reagan and is a direct result of conquest of the economic and political systems of the United States by the 1%, and their ongoing abuse of the institutions of finance and government in order to bleed the middle class in this country to death.

It has gotten to the point where the middle class, once the backbone of the U.S. economy, back when the country actually made something besides noise, is individually and collectively so far in debt that they can no longer pay or borrow for the shit the rich got rich selling. What the privileged class is missing is, when the debt comes due and there's no money to pay it, there is no more money period. Debt-based growth is not an infinite loop, and when it ends it ends for everyone. Except the 1%, who twist perception so we forget the last time they had our tits in the wringer (Enron, anyone? S&L scandal?), then force us to take the economic hit while they walk away without penalty, fortunes intact. Privatize profit, socialize loss.

And we, many of us, end up supporting the very people who continue to rob us, by voting for their wholly-owned politicians.
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Grifters

Please consider:

1982: Reagan appoints Alan Greenspan to head the National Commission on Social Security Reform (The Greenspan Commission). The Commission calls for a payroll (FICA) tax hike to build up reserves in the Social Security trust fund to cover the years after the baby boom generation retires and Social Security begins running deficits.

1983: Social Security amendments are enacted, hiking payroll taxes to generate said surpluses in the trust fund.

1985: As the first surplus payroll taxes come in, they are shunted to the general fund and used to supplement other government programs. None of the money is saved or invested anywhere. Social Security revenue from working Americans ends up replacing revenue lost to Reagan’s big income tax cuts. More succinctly: The additional taxes U.S. workers pay into Social Security are used to fund tax breaks for the rich. It goes on to this day, to the tune of $2.5 trillion in all.

1987: Greenspan succeeds Paul Volker as chairman of the Fed, a position he holds until January 31, 2006. Just sayin'.

1990: Greenspan Commission member Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, a major advocate of the 1983 amendments, becomes incensed upon finding that first Reagan then George H.W. Bush co-opted the surplus Social Security revenue for other government functions instead of reserving and growing it for the baby boomers. Moynihan's suggestion that, if the government couldn't keep it's paws off the money, the fund should be dissolved is ignored by President Bush the First. Of course.


Next time someone tells you Social Security is dragging the country down and must be cut, cut, cut, here's what they're really saying:
Thanks for the loan.
When you're ready to retire, piss off.

Consider also:

This year (and every year since 2006) the Post Office is legally required to make a $5 billion annual contribution to a retirement account to pay for future retirees who aren't even born yet. That's 7 years totaling $35 billion so far.

This is a scheme to kill the postal service and privatize it because it is a hugely successful government program that people like. Republicans hate government, so a successful government program must be broken and destroyed. In light of that, one wonders how much of that money is still sitting there.

Just a thought.