Sisyphus Shrugs

November 2, 2010 at 3:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

During these past two years, overheatedly indignant Libertarian/Republican wackos (indignant, of course, about the election of black Communist Barack Obama to the presidency) have harkened-back to their college-days’ admiration of flaky author Ayn Rand’s work. Indulging their inner-brat, they fantasize the “truly productive” members of society (that is, the criminal-Capitalists) enacting the scenario from Rand’s homage to greed, “Atlas Shrugged” : The virtuous & brilliant owners of big-business, tired of bearing the weight of the world (like Atlas, get it?) while being unappreciated by the masses, reach the end of their patience & go on strike (shrug, get it?), withdrawing from society & causing the total collapse of the financial & industrial world.

Sales of Rand’s screed have been climbing since the 2008 economic collapse. Apparently, Social-Darwinist dunderheads find solace in its message that ordinary people are robbing the rich of deserved compensation for providing the rest of us with their leadership. All those pesky rules & regulations are dragging-down the supermen & we best be careful or the mighty just may go off someplace & sulk, leaving we lesser-humans to ruin civilization much like “Planet of the Apes.”

What is most laughable about this threat is the threatener’s absolute lack of awareness that the heads of big-business & finance are exactly the ones who repeatedly rape the environment, crash the economy, and continually feed-off the masses while providing very little (if anything) of real value to society. Time after time it is the peons who must pick-up the pieces & clean-up the mess caused by the crony-Capitalists.


If anyone should “shrug” (strike) it should be the masses who toil day after day, year after year, trying to get ahead in a system that swindles them at every turn. After a lifetime of work, most people cannot rely upon having sufficient income, retirement, & health care in a culture that strives mightily every day to knock them back to square one. America’s workers are like Sisyphus, whom the gods punished to toil exhaustingly each day pushing a huge boulder up a mountainside and when reaching the top watched helplessly as the boulder rolled down to its starting point.

All those vultures who style themselves as put-upon Atlases wouldn’t last two weeks without the people who do the real grunt work of this world.

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Get Out & Vote!

October 29, 2010 at 5:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Election Day is next Tuesday. I have voted in every election since I was first eligible in 1976. I have never been an ideologue for any political party, so I’ve voted for candidates from a variety of viewpoints. There have been some times of satisfaction with the politicians & many more times of disgust with the politicians. But never have I been so thoroughly disillusioned as I am now with our system from the top in Washington to the bottom in our local communities.

I know there are concerned, competent, & compassionate people wanting to lead our cities, states, & nation. But they usually lose-out to the crooked & self-aggrandizing.

I am sure most the people working in our government bureaucracies are dedicated & hard-working. But I think they are sabotaged by the lazy & uncaring.

I believe a large portion of the business community still plays by the rules & wants to positively contribute to a better world. But they are outmaneuvered by a huge & growing culture of shysters & slave-owners.

Leading-up to this election, we have seen an even stronger emphasis than usual on a message of blindly boosting one of the two wings of America’s big-business party (known as Democrats & Republicans). While I respect the rationale for voting once-again for Democrats who are just Republican-lite, I just cannot do it anymore. I cannot vote again for Democrats who have not earned my vote by standing-up & speaking-out for ordinary citizens. Our system will never change as long as we keep only electing candidates presented by the two wings of the big-business party.

In any race where a left-leaning third party candidate is fielded, then I will back that candidate over Democrat or Republican. Obviously, that means the Libertarian & Constitutional Parties are not under consideration. If a race has only Dem or Rep options, then I will vote Democrat only if that incumbent candidate has FOUGHT for people of my socio-economic class or the non-incumbent Democrat has publicly strongly pledged to do so.

If the choice in a race is between a Republican & a DINO, then I will leave that race blank on my ballot. I cannot imagine voting for any Republican & Democrats are no longer my default choice.

Here in Ohio, I intend to vote for the Socialist candidate, Daniel LeBotz, for U.S. Senate.

For Governor, my vote is going for Anita Rios of the Green Party.

And so, my fellow Americans, I urge you to ask not only what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you. VOTE. But not for the lesser of the two very evils that are generally presented to us by the Republicrat Party. Shake things up by making our leaders EARN your vote!

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American Shmoos

September 8, 2010 at 3:56 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Today, Jerome Doolittle, over at the Bad Attitudes site posted the above cartoon under the heading, “God save us one and all…because we plainly can’t do it by ourselves.”

I wrote the following into the comments section:
“But the Republicans have learned something: That American voters are just as gullible, ignorant, forgetful, & pliable as Republicans expected.

Silly me, I thought most Americans would remember for at least a few years how incredibly lousy Republican governance can be. But the right-wing’s ownership of all major media & continued control of all branches of government makes them able to induce an amnesiac-trance-like state in the citizenry.”
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Barry Goldwater’s 1964 landslide loss to President Lyndon Johnson was devastating for the Republican party. But more than that, it was an overwhelming repudiation of ultra-conservative politics. Most Americans had lived through the Great Depression & racist oppression. They still remembered what Social Darwinism & laissez faire economics had gotten them. Living Americans had memories of times in which:

Most Americans did not own their homes or much of anything else. They made very little money at their factory, farm, or service jobs where their workweeks stretched for 60 or 70 hours. There was no vacation, no health insurance, no sick days, no safety laws, & no retirement.

Schooling, especially beyond elementary grades, was rare as young people often had to help support their families by working in backbreaking, dangerous jobs. What we think of as the carefree childhood years of play & freedom were usually reserved for offspring of the upper class.

Women & minorities were very limited in their choices for work, education, & general lifestyle.

Very few workers could look forward to ever retiring. Very few got pensions & most never made wages enough to save for their old age. They literally worked until they dropped-dead.

Anyone who fell upon hard times, such as widows, the ill, the injured, or those who lost their jobs were just s.o.l. unless they could find charity.

Wealthy people could afford to hire servants very cheaply because, after all, what other options did an uneducated, beaten-down workforce have?

This list could go on & on but I think you get the picture. And a fairly grim picture it was for all but a fortunate few. The truth is that life, for ordinary people, was all too often a tougher slog than we moderns can fathom.

My point is that those conditions improved drastically, particularly after the Socialist-lite reforms of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. As I said, a lot of Americans in 1964 had lived through tough times, knew how bad they were & what/who had caused them & could not be suckered-in by reactionary calls to return to the “good old days.” But after that blistering election defeat, the hardcore right decided to get a lot smarter & meaner. Some of the bolder wingnuts had already had John Kennedy’s brains blown-out but liberalism kept on coming. So they kept murdering or sabotaging popular lefty leaders while segueing into more subtle but more effective ploys. Over the following 45 years these budding fascists:

Bought-up all mainstream media & used it to propagandize for their cause. They flooded the airwaves & press with a conservative worldview that entirely froze-out all discussion of progressive solutions. And all the while they ridiculously asserted that the media had a bias in favor of liberalism.

Mongered lessening fear of racial, sexual, class, & religious differences back into full-blown phobias. They used this to capture the Republican party & the fundamentalist “Christian” churches. This hatred of the “other” is nearing its culmination as we face the very real prospect of worldwide “Christian” religious war against Islam along with permanent second-class citizenship for groups such as homosexuals & the poor.

Nursed America back from “Vietnam Syndrome,” which had caused the nation to become disgusted with war. By using movies (like Rambo) & other media to recast the wrong-headed war as having been lost by gutless liberals & commie sympathizers and then rebuilding troop morale & citizen patriotism by kicking the asses of pipsqueak countries (Grenada, Panama) the modern Machiavelli rekindled American’s love of war. Also, by fawning over the the military & anyone else who wears a uniform while doing a dangerous job, they have won the undying devotion of all those “heroes.” Sadly, those heroes don’t notice that after they risk their lives, rightwing leaders have no problem throwing them aside like a used paper towel. The scum who run our country now tell us we are in endless war.

Dumbed-down the educational system & poisoned the food, air, & water to rob the people of health & critical thinking capabilities. If the rapidly smartening American masses were rejecting conservatism, then the solution was to make them fuzzy-brained enough to start thinking conservatism makes sense.

Invented the overblown War on Drugs & later the War on Terror as means to persecute & imprison millions of mostly minority citizens. Mostly they were a justification for circumventing the Constitution to monitor activities of law-abiding Americans & squelch dissent.

Made sure money became more and more a vital part of the electoral equation. After all, how many of those corporate personhoods & millionaire/billionaires are going to support politicians who want the rich to do more to help the rest of us? And how can small donors compete with the mega-donors? This has reaped a bought system in which it is impossible for the non-rich to get fair treatment.

This list could also go on & on. But let us suffice to say that after 45 years of this steady re-education most Americans are totally brainwashed. They think trickle-down economics worked, they think labor unions are a bad thing for their standard of living, they think the U.S. is #1 in all the important measures of life, they think the poor are what bankrupted the treasury, they think Muslims are scary & dangerous & hate us because of our freedom, & they are ready to fight at the mere mention of Socialism/Communism. They are deluded enough to think it is possible that they, themselves, may become one of the super-rich in the very near future & so they want all those fantastic rich-people tax-breaks preserved.

We have witnessed the results of a huge & complex sociological experiment. Question: Is it possible to take a population & feed it a steady diet of misinformation, disinformation, erasure, & lies until the population no longer is capable of discerning, much less defending, its own best interest? Answer: It sure looks that way.

And the thought occurred to me: By Gad, this evil experiment is turning Americans into Shmoos!

For those of you too young to remember the famous Lil Abner newspaper comic strip of the 1930’s-1970’s, Shmoos were white, blob-like creatures who can lay eggs or give milk & butter. They are absolutely elated to have themselves sliced-up, thrown into a skillet to be eaten by a hungry human, and they can change to taste like anything from chicken to steak to catfish. They can be sawed into pieces to use as lumber & their eyes can be used as clothes’ buttons. In short, they have no sense of self-preservation & live only to please their masters. And they require nothing but air to live upon.

The new breed of Shmoo-Americans are ideal for the approaching Capitalist paradise. Schmoo-workers will not drain Capitalist resources for healthcare, Social Security, or daycare for their Shmoo-kids. Shmoos will allow themselves to be entirely consumed in the cause of benefiting the wealthy, whether it is by fashioning themselves into a nifty speedboat or being burned as fuel. And no matter what, the Shmoo-Americans will keep voting for the very ones who turned them into Shmoos in the first place.

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Hate the Unemployed

June 29, 2010 at 2:54 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It’s become obvious in the past few months that the latest group Americans are being manipulated into hating is the unemployed. They are fast being set-up to join the ranks of dangers to “The American Way of Life” that have included (but have been far from limited to) the British, Amer-Indians, Japanese, Communists, Muslims, trade unionists, welfare queens, Cubans, uppity negroes, Filipinos, various immigrant groups, women suffragettes, gays, hippies, intellectuals, French, draft dodgers, Russians, atheists, liberals, and conspiracy theorists.

Former workers are being slandered as too lazy to take a job, drug users, a burden that increases the nation’s budget deficit, and actually the cause of more unemployment because (get this!) their refusal to jump at the rock-bottom-jobs keeps wages too high. But the millionaires’ club known as the U.S. Senate came up with one of their typically well-thought-out solutions: They cut-off all extended unemployment.

This means that, while the U.S. is still gripped in the most catastrophic downturn since the Great Depression (catastrophic that is, for the bottom 95% of Americans) our “leaders” have decided, on the basis of no concrete evidence, that the economy is recovered and the unemployed need no extra help. So now the unemployed will be FORCED to stop living in the luxury of living off about 40% of their former wages & take one one of those plentiful jobs.

BTW- one of the most egregious slanders is this constantly-repeated lie that the unemployed are getting 99 weeks of payments. The media has even taken to talking about the “99ers.” HOGWASH !!! Only a small number of unemployed got that much time; it all depended upon factors such as when one lost one’s job & in what state it happened. I am convinced this is another subtle way to rile the still-employed into jealousy.

The same corporate-owned professional politicians who masterfully steered the ship of state onto the rocks, then managed to save the wealthy without enacting any meaningful change of course, are now throwing those of us without jobs overboard to lighten the ship’s load.

Mouthpieces of the kooky right-wing watch us sink without so much as tossing us a life-preserver. Instead, goofballs such as president of the Libertarian (that means insane free-market zealot) Buckeye Institute, Matt Mayer spout drivel about it being an example of “tough love.” Gee whiz, Matt, to me it looks more like an example of “kicking people when they’re down.”

And the response from those who still, for the time being, have jobs is barely a whimper. In fact, my own experience is that many of the employed are falling for the hate campaign hook, line, & sinker. What is it within the American character that makes it so apt to parrot the most outrageously heartless & brainless propaganda? That willingness to believe the worst in people, that Puritan fear that somewhere, somehow someone is getting a free-ride, that deep-seated conviction that those who encounter misfortune deserve it. I suppose that is one of the reasons why, in the early days of Hitler’s regime he thought the U.S. was very likely to join forces with him.

But enough of that. Now on to happier news.

I’m pleased to see America’s neighbor to the north, the one with the big maple leaf on their flag, is doing just dandy. Not being run by a cadre of evil, greedy, short-sighted plutocrats has allowed Canada to side-step the banking crisis, replace 75% of jobs lost in the recent recession, and keep their housing market on the upswing. While Canada got hammered just like the rest of the world’s nations, their economy is now growing at over 6% per year and their budget is expected to be back in surplus by 2015. Their Finance Minister, the wonderful JIm Flaherty, refused to lead his nation off the cliff in spite of pressure from world leaders to relax banking regulations to make Canada’s financial system more hip & groovy.

But it wasn’t always thus. Back in the early 1990’s the Canadian economy was a shambles but its leaders took steps to build a better future and have succeeded. Prime Minister at that time, Paul Martin, reminisces that it had to be done so as to “…preserve our health care and our education system…” Get that? Canada’s economy has become “the envy of the world” while managing to take care of its people! Sadly, we in the U.S.A. can no longer even imagine what it would be like to have caring & courageous leaders such as those up north.

Nor can we imagine what it would be like to have a leader like Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, whose entire net worth consists of a 1987 VW Beetle. He refuses to move into the presidential palace & still lives on his wife’s small farm. He donates most of his salary to causes such as housing for the poor.

We in the U.S.A. know that people like the Canadians & Jose Mujica are socialists. And socialists are bad! We know that because we have been inundated with that message for about 100 years. This was driven home to me when I came across a book I hadn’t read in my extensive collection, “Great Reading from Life” Life was once the most popular general interest magazine in America, once having a circulation of 13.5 million readers each week. This book from 1959 contains excerpts from the magazine by such luminaries as John Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon, Aldous Huxley, & Sir Edmund Hillary and among its 70 articles are 9 that are directly anti-Communist/Socialist. There are also numerous writings that simply monger fear of Communism/Socialism in passing. Is it any wonder that most Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to fear Socialism, while most of the rest of the developed world practices it with mostly good results?

I confess that Myrtle & I have been talking for some time about immigrating to a more civilized nation. This urge has become stronger in the past 6 weeks in light of the monstrous stupidity of the BP oil disaster & the heartless evil of vilifying the unemployed. On top of all the other monumental cruel dumbness of post-Reagan America, life here has become pretty much unbearable for those who believe in kindness & rationality. If you feel that way too, here is a link to the Canadian government’s immigration website.

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Wall Street Gets the Goldmine & We Get the Shaft

April 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In spite of my best efforts, America’s casino economy hums-along in its happy, fraudulent, and bonus-filled way. Meanwhile, the needs of the real economy and the hundreds of millions of citizens it supports are as ignored by the Washington crowd as coal mine safety.

Our wise “leaders” in business, media, and government grasp at every straw, twisting statistics to fit the “prosperity is just around the corner” scenario they need to keep us from rising-up & demanding the rotten system really be changed. For instance, they blew their trumpets loudly to announce that, Heaven be praised!, 162,000 jobs were created in March. So the economy is on the mend and Wall Street can go back to handing-out bonuses. Sounds good… but whoa wait a minute!, it turns out that at least 150,000 jobs must be created every month just to absorb new people coming into the workforce (like all those eager young people and immigrants). Well, ok, that leaves 18,000 jobs to chip-away (for 361 years!) at that nasty 6.5 million “long-term unemployed” number. But, oh my gosh! 88,000 of those 162,000 jobs were temporary work, such as working on the U.S. Census. The truth is that real job growth is still going in reverse.

And that does not even address the fact that America’s jobs increasingly lack wages & accompanying benefits that allow workers to share in their nation’s prosperity. Livable pay, health insurance, retirement, and vacations are all things taken mostly for granted by our Capitalist elite, Socialist Europe, and in the “mixed-economy” days of post-Great Depression-pre-Ronald Reagan America. But they are vanishing quickly in this country. The only real solution I can see is a turn to Socialism or at least a return to its milder cousin, the “mixed-economy” of the 1930’s-1970’s, wherein government’s main job was to make sure the playing-field is kept level by keeping a tight rein on big-business and helping the common citizen to flourish.

Back in November, when this blog had almost no readership, I posted the essay, Bring Back the Red Menace!” Now, I wish to re-print it, with apologies to those who would debate finer distinctions between “Socialism” (an intermediate step between Capitalism and Communism) and “Communism” (the ultimate destination in the flight from Capitalism), I use the terms interchangeably.

Bring Back the Red Menace!

We Americans are brought-up to believe that genuine, vigorous competition is the life-blood of our great system. Vying against one-another for victory, with the winner taking all the spoils and the loser conceding any claim is what makes social Darwinism tick. And so it is drilled into our red, white, and blue brains from cradle to grave until it becomes second-nature to believe that non-winners deserve to have nothing. Gaining or losing it all motivates us to try our best. Striving against a rival makes us strong!

Who would deny that in the 1970’s, our domestic auto makers had become bloated, complacent, and inefficient. They were insensitive to and exploitative of their customers; building increasingly lower-quality and higher-priced products designed for “planned obsolescence.” They were improved by stiff competition from foreign car companies that gave customers an alternative. Likewise, the United States Postal Service was improved when other carriers appeared. I could fill pages with examples of industries and organizations that were increasingly out-of-touch with their market, all of which were raised-up by vying against tough, strong, viable opponents.

That lack of competition is exactly why a monopoly does not function well. There is no rival to keep said monopoly under control so sooner or later hubris, greed, and decadence set-in (note that this is why government regulation is used to control these tendencies in monopolies). In modern American, Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Obama-nomics, monopoly is a diseased thing that must be cured through competition. If the schools, the airlines, or the electric company can’t face the challenge, then that’s too bad because it’s sink or swim for everyone (except for banks and Wall Street tycoons).

And now I come to my point. And here I am relieved to know that no one actually reads this blog, so I will not be hounded by threats and cat-calls for the assertion I’m about to make: The worst thing that happened to the average American citizen in the past 100 years was the collapse of the Communistic Soviet Union. Why? Simply because we now have no competitor to which we can turn when we are abused by the monopoly known as American Capitalism. And so that monopoly becomes increasingly abusive of its captive customers.

Apparently, I am the only one to notice that there was only one span of time when conditions consistently improved for American workers and citizens: the years from 1920 until the mid-1980’s while the Soviet Union existed and, in the minds of America’s leaders, there was real danger of a (cue-up the scary music) Communistic revolution in America.

Before that window of time, laissez faire Capitalism was firmly in the saddle and there was very little progress in the treatment of the vast majority of the population. Things didn’t really begin to improve until the Great Depression of the 1930’s caused a large percentage of Americans to start considering the alternative economics of Communism/Socialism/Populism (all close cousins). This scared the bejesus out of our political and business rulers who then reluctantly agreed to allow a little of the wealth to be spread around. And for the next 50 years, more and more wealth got spread in America so that the people were kept happy and non-Communist.* Overall, things kept getting better all the time for Americans across the board: the old, the young, all races, both genders. The poverty level crept down a little at a time and literacy rates kept going up.

Then in the late 1980’s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell-apart under the weight of its leaders’ corruption and greed. The threat by the Communist menace was over. Sure there were still a few other Communist nations around, but none of them posed a real threat to Capitalism. American Capitalism boasted of being the only superpower remaining on earth. And, immediately, (actually it had started a few years earlier when the Soviet collapse could be seen on the horizon) American Capitalism no longer had to try to keep our hearts and minds. The tide turned against the average American. And it’s been downhill for us ever since.

So today we Americans are seemingly stuck with a bloated, uncaring, inefficient, corrupt, wasteful, unfair, and unresponsive system that is typical of any monopoly. But we are not stuck! Having no competition allows Capitalism to dismiss the needs of the citizens. There is only one solution: We must pick-up the threat of Communist revolution off the ash heap of history and, at the very least, pretend to be considering it as a replacement for Capitalism. That will scare the elite into once again being willing to share some of our nation’s prosperity.

* And contrary to what neo-conservative ideology teaches, in spite of having to share prosperity with the bottom 95% of the nation, there was still plenty of money for the upper 5% to stay very, very, very, rich.

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Late Night Ramblings

March 6, 2010 at 10:42 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Colonel Girdle

Dayton, Ohio, 3:30 a.m.

Since I could not sleep because of worry, I got online to find-out how to apply for a job with the U.S. Census. I have applied for job after job, even the ones that would probably not pay enough for me live. So that means I’ll have to work at two crappy jobs… or maybe three. I know people who are already doing that. Once upon a time, I was middle-class. I had worked my way through college and then, with 22 years of hard work, had made my way up into management at one of Dayton’s many solid, large companies. Then one day nine years ago, I was downsized along with hundreds of my co-workers. The company went away to greener pastures of cheaper labor/fewer regulations, and also there went my insurance, vacation, & retirement; all casualties of the only developed nation that ties everything to a person’s job.

Since that day, I have worked at jobs far worse than the crummy ones I had in my youth. For just one example, for about a month I was a subcontractor (that is like an employee, but they are not responsible for anything bad that happens to you) for a company that “recycled” the boiling-hot oil from restaurant deep fryers. I would pull the greasy van up to the back door, trundle a 200 lb. filtering machine on tiny wheels down the slippery ramp and into the building. There I vacuumed the 350 degree oil from the fryer so it could circulate through the filtering machine while I used putty knife & steel wool to scour char off the scortching cooker (all the while praying I wouldn’t get badly scalded), shoot the oil back into the fryer, then head to the next location. By the end of the day I was covered with reeking sour oil & sweat and could hardly stand-up because the bottom of my shoes were slick as snot.

In between the crummy jobs I owned a few small businesses. I sold natural pain cream at a flea market, I had a janitorial company where I did 90% of the janitoring, I sold used CD’s & DVD’s at a flea market. If any of those things were once a good way to make money, they sure aren’t now. Myrtle helped me with these, as best she could, while working at her own jobs.

I wound-up working in a convenience store and from that experience my desperation gave me the really awful idea that taking all our remaining assets and buying a store was a good idea. Blinded by love, Myrtle went down that bumpy road with me. I will not go into further detail recounting that four-year-disaster and the constant 100 hour workweeks we put in. Memory of it brings on a sort of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Suffice it to say that it was not too big to fail. It went belly-up during the late 2008-early 2009 crash with nary a peep from the Bush nor Obama Administrations.

As a result, I am more broke than I have ever been in my life. Actually, I’m far, far into the negative net worth zone. At first, I still hoped to find a way to dig myself out of debt. But I soon learned that was the impossible dream when, for instance, the credit card company I had for 15 years lent a helping hand by increasing my interest rate to 29.99% – when I had never missed a payment. Now they are getting 0%, since I’ll be filing for bankruptcy (guilt-free I might add) just as soon as I can finish the paperwork. I am far from alone in my struggles. My circle of friends & family recommend good bankruptcy lawyers the way we used to recommend good restaurants. People I know who used to “have it made” are sinking and everyone under them is drowning or already drowned. I personally know (and try to help) people who have taken to living in basements, cars, and tents! (By the way – See our “Friends” link to A Voice for the Commonwealth)

Being poor wasn’t a huge adjustment. Myrtle and I had never been big-spenders. We did not believe in materialism. We’ve never had a desire for trendy clothes or the latest electronic gadget. Instead, we put our spare time, money, and energy into charity work and enjoyed the simple things in life. However, I was used to paying the bills and having money left-over. Now buying a cheap bottle of shampoo is a financial decision that requires thought.

Our system will collapse, probably soon, from its own crushing weight. Every time I see, hear, or read about the latest actions of our business-government “leaders,” I derive comfort from knowing I am speeding that collapse along: My lack of spending denies money to the military-industrial-entertainment-healthcare complex and I’m too poor to pay taxes to the rotten government it owns.

But I don’t mean to sound bitter.

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A Great American

February 20, 2010 at 5:26 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )


And a terrific human being.
On his 81st birthday, Bob Moore, owner of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods gave the multi-million-dollar company to his employees.

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Unbought & Unafraid

January 18, 2010 at 5:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), was first elected to the Presidency in 1932. He was elected in landslides to 4 terms as president and died in office during his 4th term, after leading the nation through World War II. If he hadn’t died he would likely still be president. The Republicans passed a constitutional amendment after his death limiting Presidents to 2 terms. The rich people hated him and the common people loved him. And why wouldn’t they? He saved them from the utter despair of the Great Depression that was brought-on by the greed & corruption of unfettered Capitalism. His “New Deal” saved Capitalism by tempering it with a strong-dose of regulation and a touch of Socialism. He was born rich but understood the regular people. He had compassion, possibly because polio crippled him as an adult (it usually struck children) and left him without the use of his legs. His wife, Eleanor, was a strong-willed, independent woman who vocally & visibly assisted him in his quest to re-make American society.

Democrat FDR took office after 12 years of 2 Republican presidential administrations. During the 1920’s the country enjoyed a free-wheeling, zooming economy that ended in the devastating crash of 1929. Republican economic ideology called for leaving business alone to do its thing and leaving the people on their own to take care of themselves no matter what. So the government did very little for 3 years as the economy spiraled into ruin.

You think Obama has it tough? When FDR took office unemployment was about 37% for non-farm workers (in some cities it reached 80%)and those who were still employed took one wage cut after another, the average income for families had gone down 40%, crop prices had fallen 60% and 1 million families had lost their farms, 17% of mortgages were foreclosed, international trade had dropped by 75%, industrial production had fallen 45%, severe drought killed the crops throughout the middle of the nation, 5,000 banks had failed, there were 2 million homeless wandering the nation. By the day of Roosevelt’s inauguration, every bank in the nation was closed because the economy was nearly at a halt.

FDR knew there was no time to waste. He immediately set-out to bring “Reform, Relief, and Recovery” to America. His inaugural speech pulled no punches as he said, “Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. . . . The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.”

On the very day he took office, he had his entire Cabinet sworn-in, ordered all banks closed for 4 more days while reform legislation was drafted (that was done 5 days later!), and called Congress back into emergency session in 5 days. After he got Congress back he wouldn’t let them go until he passed more reform: of government (he cut the pay of many government workers to balance the budget), of agriculture (to “restore vitality to the demoralized farmers”), of partying (Prohibition was repealed). FDR was determined to “provide…relief to as many people as soon as possible.” So the jobless were to be employed on government projects (that’s where a lot of the infrastructure came from that later caused the economy to boom). Legislation was passed to stop home foreclosures, bring electric power to the rural population, and help workers share in the coming prosperity through fair labor laws. Within his first 100 days, FDR passed 15 major laws and gave 15 speeches to Congress. So, unlike the present occupant of the White House, FDR was more than just talk.

The economy immediately began to revive, but it was a slow crawl back to the pre-Depression level. In 1936, FDR ran for re-election. Here’s an excerpt from one of his speeches. This is what a President who cares about Americans, is unbought, and unafraid sounds like

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Bring Back the “Red Menace”

November 1, 2009 at 5:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

We Americans are brought-up to believe that genuine, vigorous competition is the life-blood of our great system. Vying against one-another for victory, with the winner taking all the spoils and the loser conceding any claim is what makes social Darwinism tick. And so it is drilled into our red, white, and blue brains from cradle to grave until it becomes second-nature to believe that non-winners deserve to have nothing. Gaining or losing it all motivates us to try our best. Striving against a rival makes us strong!

Who would deny that in the 1970’s, our domestic auto makers had become bloated, complacent, and inefficient. They were insensitive to and exploitative of their customers; building increasingly lower-quality and higher-priced products designed for “planned obsolescence.” They were improved by stiff competition from foreign car companies that gave customers an alternative. Likewise, the United States Postal Service was improved when other carriers appeared. I could fill pages with examples of industries and organizations that were increasingly out-of-touch with their market, all of which were raised-up by vying against tough, strong, viable opponents.

That lack of competition is exactly why a monopoly does not function well. There is no rival to keep said monopoly under control so sooner or later hubris, greed, and decadence set-in (note that this is why government regulation is used to control these tendencies in monopolies). In modern American, Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Obama-nomics, monopoly is a diseased thing that must be cured through competition. If the schools, the airlines, or the electric company can’t face the challenge, then that’s too bad because it’s sink or swim for everyone (except for banks and Wall Street tycoons).

And now I come to my point. And here I am relieved to know that no one actually reads this blog, so I will not be hounded by threats and cat-calls for the assertion I’m about to make:  The worst thing that happened to the average American citizen in the past 100 years was the collapse of the Communistic Soviet Union. Why? Simply because we now have no competitor to which we can turn when we are abused by the monopoly known as American Capitalism. And so that monopoly becomes increasingly abusive of its captive customers.

Apparently, I am the only one to notice that there was only one span of time when conditions consistently improved for American workers and citizens:  the years from 1920 until the mid-1980’s while the Soviet Union existed and, in the minds of America’s leaders, there was real danger of a (cue-up the scary music) Communistic revolution in America.

Before that window of time, laissez faire Capitalism was firmly in the saddle and there was very little progress in the treatment of the vast majority of the population. Things didn’t really begin to improve until the Great Depression of the 1930’s caused a large percentage of Americans to start considering the alternative economics of Communism/Socialism/Populism (all close cousins). This scared the bejesus out of our political and business rulers who then reluctantly agreed to allow a little of the wealth to be spread around. And for the next 50 years, more and more wealth got spread in America so that the people were kept happy and non-Communist.* Overall, things kept getting better all the time for Americans across the board:  the old, the young, all races, both genders. The poverty level crept down a little at a time and literacy rates kept going up.

Then in the late 1980’s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell-apart under the weight of its leaders’ corruption and greed. The threat by the Communist menace was over. Sure there were still a few other Communist nations around, but none of them posed a real threat to Capitalism. American Capitalism boasted of being the only superpower remaining on earth. And, immediately, (actually it had started a few years earlier when the Soviet collapse could be seen on the horizon) American Capitalism no longer had to try to keep our hearts and minds. The tide turned against the average American. And it’s been downhill for us ever since.

So today we Americans are seemingly stuck with a bloated, uncaring, inefficient, corrupt, wasteful, unfair, and unresponsive system that is typical of any monopoly. But we are not stuck! Having no competition allows Capitalism to dismiss the needs of the citizens.  There is only one solution:  We must pick-up the threat of Communist revolution off the ash heap of history and, at the very least, pretend to be considering it as a replacement for Capitalism. That will scare the elite into once again being willing to share some of our nation’s prosperity.

* And contrary to neo-conservative ideology, in spite of having to share prosperity with the bottom 95% of the nation, there was still plenty of money for the upper 5% to stay very, very, very, rich.

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