Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mapping the Destruction of America

Paul Craig Roberts is someone that I ought to dislike and disagree with, if outward signals like one's resume are concerned. PCR was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald W. Reagan, and in that role he and others were champions of "trickle-down economics" -- a view which said, let the richest Americans have the most money, and their spending will "trickle down" to the rest of us unwashed undercaste dwellers.

But sometimes people can surprise you, and change their views quite radically. I have undergone such changes myself. As a youngster in college I thought the Republicans were great, I thought that one day I'd be a Country Club Republican myself. I wanted a big house and a big expensive car or two with a perfect sorority girl wife who was both sexy in a cute way, and maternal in the best ways. Yep, I believed in The American Dream. I even voted for Reagan in 1984 to solidify my record as an American Zombie.

But then something happened to me. I got a job covering tax legislation and related amendments, working for a DC law firm. My good college friend J.K. got me that job, he was already working at the firm and his workload was that of 2 people, so it was possible for him to persuade the employer that he needed help and knew of someone who would help adequately. How he figured I fit that bill -- adequate help -- I'll never know!

Shortly after I started that job I began thinking about going to law school. Some adults I knew had suggested it as a good path for someone like me... former Pre-Med/Bio major who had given up on med school and was adrift in uncertainty. Eventually I sat for that LSAT puzzle and did well enough to get accepted to a law school, which pretty well made my decision for me. I was going to go to law school. Yee haw. Or something like that.

Once in law school I began to see how American government actually works. Cases were decided based on monetary power, not detached and objective notions of justice. The fields of contracts, torts and property all confirmed that if you didn't have lots of money and clever lawyers hired with that money, you weren't likely to get anywhere. Sure, an occasional opinion was issued upholding the rights of the underdog, but most times the underdog merely got shat and peed on. The unspoken message conveyed: Get rich to avoid getting shat and peed on. Wield your riches like a sword, smite those who would try to get you to accept responsibility for your errors, defend your riches like they were your children.

Somehow between my 1st and 2d years of law school, I felt my empathies changing. I sensed that underdogs needed protection from the powerful lawyers and judicial system that was rigged against them. I decided to combine my undergrad Bio degree with a law degree to become an environmental advocate. I took environmental law in 2d year and found yet another disappointing fact -- environmental law is about administrative law, not the environment. It's about hoop-jumping, not science. It's about makework, not ecosystem health. It was just another charade, like the idea that tort law can help redress the injuries of people harmed by corporate behavior. Yep, a nice fantasy!

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Paul Craig Roberts seems to have undergone a similar change of views. I'd like to offer below his most recent essay at Information Clearinghouse, which I will interrupt with a few observations here and there. On with the show.
US Joins Ranks of Failed States

By Paul Craig Roberts, October 21, 2009, "Information Clearing House"

The US has every characteristic of a failed state.

The US government’s current operating budget is dependent on foreign financing and money creation.

Too politically weak to be able to advance its interests through diplomacy, the US relies on terrorism and military aggression. http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE59H0AH20091019

Costs are out of control, and priorities are skewed in the interest of rich organized interest groups at the expense of the vast majority of citizens. For example, war at all cost, which enriches the armaments industry, the officer corps and the financial firms that handle the war’s financing, takes precedence over the needs of American citizens. There is no money to provide the uninsured with health care, but Pentagon officials have told the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee in the House that every gallon of gasoline delivered to US troops in Afghanistan costs American taxpayers $400.
What better evidence of the brazen conversion of "defense" into "rank profiteering." Why would gasoline cost $400/gallon if used by a bulk buyer, when individual buyers here in America are paying less than 1/100th that amount? In my town gasoline is under $3/gallon right now.

Bulk purchases of items usually yield reduced prices, not hugely inflated ones. That's how American "capitalism" has worked in my lifetime. Supply/demand. Basic "economics." Right?

If the military efforts in Afghanistan are essential, then the price of gasoline offered to the US Military should be far less than what I'm paying at the pump in my town. That's what seems to make sense to me.

But there's no evidence that the efforts in Afghanistan are essential. Rather the opposite appears quite true, if only one looks at the shallowest depths of inquiry!
“It is a number that we were not aware of and it is worrisome,” said Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the subcommittee.
http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/63407-400gallon-gas-another-cost-of-war-in-afghanistan-

According to reports, the US Marines in Afghanistan use 800,000 gallons of gasoline per day. At $400 per gallon, that comes to a $320,000,000 daily fuel bill for the Marines alone. Only a country totally out of control would squander resources in this way.

While the US government squanders $400 per gallon of gasoline in order to kill women and children in Afghanistan, many millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their homes and are experiencing the kind of misery that is the daily life of poor third world peoples. Americans are living in their cars and in public parks. America’s cities, towns, and states are suffering from the costs of economic dislocations and the reduction in tax revenues from the economy’s decline. Yet, Obama has sent more troops to Afghanistan, a country half way around the world that is not a threat to America.

It costs $750,000 per year for each soldier we have in Afghanistan. The soldiers, who are at risk of life and limb, are paid a pittance, but all of the privatized services to the military are rolling in excess profits. One of the great frauds perpetuated on the American people was the privatization of services that the US military traditionally performed for itself. “Our” elected leaders could not resist any opportunity to create at taxpayers’ expense private wealth that could be recycled to politicians in campaign contributions.
That last sentence bears repeating:
“Our” elected leaders could not resist any opportunity to create at taxpayers’ expense private wealth that could be recycled to politicians in campaign contributions.
Let that sink in, reader. And now imagine how much broad application the idea has. Mr Roberts can help you in your imagining.
Republicans and Democrats on the take from the private insurance companies maintain that the US cannot afford to provide Americans with health care and that cuts must be made even in Social Security and Medicare. So how can the US afford bankrupting wars, much less totally pointless wars that serve no American interest?
Think about that, reader. We can afford to give $400/gallon for gasoline -- a multiplier of over 100x reality -- but we can't afford real changes to give all Americans health care?

How can that be? Isn't it just a question of prioritizing the spending, and determining who deserves the money, and what goals we seek to achieve?
The enormous scale of foreign borrowing and money creation necessary to finance Washington’s wars are sending the dollar to historic lows. The dollar has even experienced large declines relative to currencies of third world countries such as Botswana and Brazil. The decline in the dollar’s value reduces the purchasing power of Americans’ already declining incomes.

Despite the lowest level of housing starts in 64 years, the US housing market is flooded with unsold homes, and financial institutions have a huge and rising inventory of foreclosed homes not yet on the market.
"Housing starts" are irrelevant, but I have to accept that Roberts is an "economist" and therefore he often relies on pointless data to buttress his arguments. That's one of my chief complaints about "economics" pundits and experts -- they use "facts" as if the "facts" are inescapable evidence of an economic principle. Let's just agree here -- Roberts is talking about an irrelevancy. It's a vestige of his former "trickle-down" mantra. He may never give up this ghost.
Industrial production has collapsed to the level of 1999, wiping out a decade of growth in industrial output.
This is another Roberts gaffe. The "growth" is another "economics" ruse, an assumption that we need "growth" eternally, and when things are not "growing" then things are bad. Actually, what is bad for our society is a mantra that growth is essential and must be perpetual. The only thing needed is meeting needs. Most "growth" is attuned to wants, not needs. And there, my friends, is the crux of the flaw of capitalism. But I don't want to get sidetracked. Back to Roberts.
The enormous bank reserves created by the Federal Reserve are not finding their way into the economy. Instead, the banks are hoarding the reserves as insurance against the fraudulent derivatives that they purchased from the gangster Wall Street investment banks.
Yes, this is true. More compelling is the fact that the fraudulent derivatives were known to be fraudulent. There was no "surprise" when these money-vectors collapsed. Anyone who can see how derivatives work can also see that they are about as safe as russian roulette. They are a massive gamble, and the massive gamble is the whole point of their use. Anyone who claims surprise at a massive loss in the massive gamble -- that person is crying wolf! This is why I say that none of the Wall Street firms actually got into trouble -- or at least, they didn't get into any trouble that they didn't fully comprehend before they got into it.
The regulatory agencies have been corrupted by private interests. Frontline http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/ reports that Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers blocked Brooksley Born, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from regulating derivatives. President Obama rewarded Larry Summers for his idiocy by appointing him Director of the National Economic Council. What this means is that profits for Wall Street will continue to be leeched from the diminishing blood supply of the American economy.
Of course they have been corrupted. America's federal government now is owned by the businesses it purports to regulate. Hell, even The Wall Street Journal recently told us as much. See here.
An unmistakable sign of third world despotism is a police force that sees the pubic as the enemy. Thanks to the federal government, our local police forces are now militarized and imbued with hostile attitudes toward the public. SWAT teams have proliferated, and even small towns now have police forces with the firepower of US Special Forces. Summons are increasingly delivered by SWAT teams that tyrannize citizens with broken down doors, a $400 or $500 repair born by the tyrannized resident. Recently a mayor and his family were the recipients of incompetence by the town’s local SWAT team, which mistakenly wrecked the mayor’s home, terrorized his family, and killed the family’s two friendly Labrador dogs.

If a town’s mayor can be treated in this way, what do you think is the fate of the poor white or black? Or the idealistic student who protests his government’s inhumanity?
I can tell you from personal experience two years ago that the police in my supposedly "liberal" -slash- "progressive" town are adversarial, combative, and brutalizing. I got arrested for riding my bike for one block in the direction opposite a One Way street's flow. I was riding in the street's Bike Lane, which was unoccupied -- and therefore I posed no danger to anyone. The policeman in question saw things differently -- stopped me, yanked my arm up behind my back, handcuffed me, searched my belongings, took me to the station in a cop car, held me for 45 minutes in a jail cell, presented me to the judge. The copper cited me for not only going the wrong way on a One Way street, but also for "obstructing an officer." The whole episode was surreal. All he had to do was have a chat with me and explain what was so dangerous about what I was doing. Instead he felt a need to exert his authority and bully me, brutalize me, harass me, cuff me.

Luckily the municipal judge in my town is aware that our police are excessive and I got a very minimal $15 fine for the whole ordeal. But not before I went through all sorts of ridiculous hoops, including dealing with a public defender who wanted me to plead guilty and accept a massive fine of almost $500.

Citizens as enemies, that's the perspective of "law enforcement" personnel.
In any failed state, the greatest threat to the population comes from the government and the police. That is certainly the situation today in the USA. Americans have no greater enemy than their own government. Washington is controlled by interest groups that enrich themselves at the expense of the American people.

The one percent that comprise the superrich are laughing as they say, “let them eat cake.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

rumblings

I'm sort of an interwebtoobz spaz. Especially when I get sick like I have been for the past 5 days with the flu. I get hyper in my readings and postings on the internet. My fakebook page would show this to be true.

Recently from posts on various blogs I've made a few correspondence friendships, through emails triggered by comments on blogs. I think this is my preferred way to share knowledge, though I do blog and do other narcissistic shit on fakebook. I would prefer direct interchange, because I think the blogging and blog/website comments threads are far too indirect. They rely more on an artificial exchange that is almost like stilted speechifying, where people seek points for many things beyond information conveyed.

Blog and website comment threads obviously run the gamut of qualities, but one thing I notice as an exclusive trait in e-debate is this ridiculous preening, non-substantive, pseudo-lecture and veiled or overt dismissal quality of e-debate posts. People seem to be aiming to score points for a putdown, rather than trying to advance knowledge among the thread/group members.

Some sites keep that nonsense to a minimum, and since I've been posting on political and social discussion fora for over a decade, I've gained some experience in finding which ones are factories of noxious fumes, and which are more like a comfortable living room for someone like me who wants a bit of depth and scope in his exchange.

Recently I remarked the following to a friend in an email exchange prompted by some forum discussions. I hope this particular friend doesn't mind me using my own thoughts again here. I'll discuss them in turn.
IMO the pinnacle of left gatekeepers is found in Michael Albert and his Z Magazine. By "pinnacle" I mean, slipperiest and most sophisticated. Albert's a pretty interesting guy but his perspective is too dogmatic and too anti-"Right".
I say this out of personal experience trying to engage in discussion with Albert and others at the Z website. It's like they had a secret handshake, that I had to agree to certain precepts, before they would listen to my perspective. Sorry pals. That's a cult in my book. Next?
I have a lot of empathy for what many consider the "right" wing's views. I think there are sensible positions held by some Republicans. Most particularly I respect the desire for limited government and limited military.
It's not a secret that I grew up among Republicans. Nor that I registered as a Republican when I turned 18. Nor that I voted for a few Republicans between age 18 and the present.

Surely that means I'm a stupid, foolish redneck in the eyes of my "liberal" and "progressive" friends who call themselves "Democrats." Surely. But... sorry, friends!
On most everything I am interested in what works, not what plays well in an Us vs Them scenario. I don't care about Repub vs Dem, I think that is the biggest distraction available to Americans and the strongest cause of perpetuation of a scheme that oppresses and hurts the majority of Americans. If people focused on what they have in common -- what they all identify as problems -- and work forward from problem-spotting, it's more likely that the partisan crap will dissolve. But people have to be willing to give up their partisan preferences.
How likely will people give up those preferences? Damned unlikely, until a serious economic depression strikes. So we'll be seeing all manner of "rescue" from Uncle Sam to avoid that outcome.

Never mind that the rescue will always bail out the parties responsible for our current clusterfuck. Please -- never mind that. What matters is that the Feds are trying. No matter who they're trying to help, they only need to try. That's all.
I am anti-military because of how the military is used. Also because I watched someone get ruined by his time spent in Vietnam. I want nothing to do with the military. In a different world I might see the point of a military and serving in that group.
I'm not going into sad-sack confession mode here. I just want to say that I did watch an older relative get totally destroyed by Vietnam, and that it was enough to destroy my childhood "war hero" myths and fantasies. End of story.

........................

What positive things can I take from the above? That's a good Q.

1) I support public servants that promote diplomacy and peace. I think those are good values. I think being warlike is not a good value. I think my perspective is far more positive where respect for a fellow human is concerned.

2) I support a fair and objective analysis of public problems. I support a fair and objective analysis of how to fund (with money, or labor) those problems' solutions. I support an analysis which focuses on the problems and not the partisan politics. I support solutions that focus on the problems and not the partisan politics. I support improving things, not perpetuating the partisan divide. So I would wager I'm more positive than not, on balance. I want to avoid wasted energy, I want to move toward repair of problems and away from blamecasting. Positive.

3) See (2), but bear in mind the Republican vs Democrat dynamic that controls present American discussion of socio-economic-political problems. I'm suggesting the need to see beyond Repub vs Dem because those two parties are just two variants on a single theme, and the theme is against the interests of a majority of Americans.

4) See (2), but consider that at a level above Repub vs Dem there is another level of partisan pugilism focusing on what form of "leftist" system will replace the present "democratic republican" form of American Capitalism, and that I think -- again -- that the focus should be on the people and what they want, and not on what some pompous theoretician decreed. This refers to Michael Albert and ZMag, and specifically to the insistence among all "Marxists," and all reformed socialists like Albert, which demands that followers reject "the right" and adopt a view that believes in huge paternalistic government. I don't think that is necessary. I think Republicans and Democrats in America, as we draw in to 2010, are mistaken as to what aspects of life require government control. Both parties want too much control over things that require little control, and want relaxed standards for areas where more control is needed.

The Marxists are correct on saying that business needs to be fiercely controlled. Why? Because people are cutthroat, competitive, greedy, envious, acquisitive. Let people compete for "profits" and the devices of competition will startle you in their imaginative scope. Cynics resign themselves and say, "let's accept this bullshit and just use capitalism with very little regulation -- accept that there will be losses of life, profit, comfort, etc., due to cutthroat competition." That's the capitalist gambit, the free marketeer's angle, the libertarian's credo. Leave 'em alone, people will sort it out among themselves.

Fine sentiment, in a small community. In a system where corporations wield more power than fellow 1st world nations? Not exactly fair play, is it? I mean, who actually gets to barter the terms of employment, the real terms that is, when accepting a job with Microsoft? How many of Gates & Co's employees really bartered on meaningful terms of their employment contract? 5%?

Hmmm.

No, you're not slaves.

I think optimizing personal responsibility, personal accountability, personal freedom, personal rights, personal authority -- these things are positives. I think giving most of the power to people, and less to the government, is a positive thing.

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In keeping with the theme of what's going on in my recent flu-based spazzing, I should note that I found a big vomitorium of nonsense at Booman Tribune right here. Look, friends... if you agree with Booman, we have some serious shit to talk about. Most of it will involve asking yourself to review Obama's "accomplishments" over the past 8 months, and asking yourself, what if Bush did it?

Reverend Booman Jones does one of 2 things: he either avoids the ugly truth that Obama/Biden is continuing as the 3d term of Bush/Cheney, or he offers the pseudo-sagacious, oft-repeated "caution" --

it's only been 8 months and Bush created a lot of shit to clean up

Oh. Yeah. That.

I forgot that there's some time-clock that didn't apply to Bush but applies to Obama, in which Obama can take his sweet time, and ignore opportunities to change the Bush/Cheney course of policy and government action, because there hadn't yet been enough time past since inauguration.

Yep, I totally forgot that quirk of "reality." Forgive me.

Bless me Father, for I have sinned

It's been a long time since my last confession. Probably since I voted for John Anderson in 1980.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

readings from the Ouija board

This is a point in US history where we're all going to be able to see more commonality and less division, because the difference between Repub and Dem is dissolving rapidly. Only a little investigation is required after this last Nobel Peace Prize fiasco. Us vs Them impulses should be re-directed, away from Repub vs Dem and toward We who do not benefit, vs They who are profiting mightily in power and wealth.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

chew on this

Jonathan Schwarz recently posted a reference to Tom Engelhardt's latest. In the comments following at ATR, I had this exchange:

Elise Mattu:
remember the sequel to The Terminater? Where the heroine is worried about the possibilitiy of all out Armageddon brought about by the nuclear war triggered by rebellious machines? So today we let the Afghanis be the victims of the Machine Wars against Man? If it is profitable to do this to the foreigners today, what will stop it from happening to us Americans tomorrow? When the Repulicans decide that destroying the liberal areas of the country is better than constantly fixing the election count?
me:
If it is profitable to do this to the foreigners today, what will stop it from happening to us Americans tomorrow?

I'd suggest it's already happening to us Americans now. I'd suggest the "bailouts" are evidence of this, the "rescue" of AIG and other companies are evidence of this. The police-becoming-militarized is another bit of evidence. Their behavior at the G20 --sonic cannons, paramilitary gear-- is more evidence.

We can choose to play along as if this isn't momentous shit. On the background of the destruction of habeas corpus, rendition reauthorizations, the changes to the FISA courts process, the warrantless eavesdropping (ATT v Klein), the Patriot Act, the John Warner Defense Budget Reauthorization Act, the Military Commissions Act, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay... the SERE program.... I shouldn't even have to list this stuff to any who consider themselves students of what's happening in America now, but I'm always surprised how many people aren't aware of the way these things indicate a clear pattern in America, one that's happened only in the past 10 years.

The practical fascism under "republican democracy" window dressing pretty much tells me that it's being used here in America just like it's used abroad. The bloodshed is not overt here. What scares me is the readiness they're showing, the eagerness in preparation, for such events to arise. The Halliburton-built "detention camps" around the country aren't exactly comforting in this context.
Would you prefer to ignore these things? Or maybe do something about them, does that sound better? More like something that would help you stop the feelings of powerlessness?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

a problem worth solving

As I've grown older I've realized that the more you do things involving other people, the more you must work from a common-interest perspective. For example, if you're going on a long alpine MTB ride with other riders, you can't just expect that the group will stop when you want to stop to change layers, to take a snack break, to take pictures, to simply take a breather or look at the world around you. Maybe not everyone takes those kinds of stops, nor takes them at the same intervals as you. Maybe you like to climb fast, to push yourself to get up difficult pitches, to hit the top first on every pitch. Maybe you like to descend fast. It's inevitable if you ride in groups that you're going to see different views on these little things. What happens, if you ride these longer alpine group rides for enough seasons, you sort out who are good riding partners and you develop a sort of group rhythm for taking breaks, for climbing pace, for regroups on long climbs or on descents.

For me it's tough to find people who are willing to climb as slowly as I like to climb. I don't like to climb slowly to see sights. Nor for some zen reason. It's really about how much or how little strength I have in my climbing-related physical self. And maybe it's also about my mental toughness, or lack thereof. It's also about knowing that I'm old enough to actually be at risk for some kind of cardiovascular mishap if I redline it too much.

I guess that means in my social outlook I balance self-preservation and the ability to be agreeable. I climb faster on my group rides, most times, because most of my riding friends are faster, stronger climbers than I am. Left to myself I climb pretty slowly.

Climbing slowly can mean you might not finish your ride before you lose the sunlight, so I'm grateful that my friends are faster and can push me along just by being faster.

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Some of my friends have said they like to climb quickly to get the climbing out of the way, because it's a form of self-torture. I can empathize with this approach. It's how I view social problems. I want to attack them quickly, I want to get the known difficulty finished, put it in the past.

Sometimes I get a little excited and I have to realize that not everyone sees the problems as I do... and even realize that not everyone agrees with me on what are problems facing Americans today, what problems we can work on, what problems we might be able to solve and begin fixing.

When I started hanging around in political discussion comment threads around the InterWebToobz, maybe 10 - 12 yrs ago, I used to get accused of being a "socialist." And also I'd get accused of being a "Republican." I can tell you how that worked.

-- libertarians call me a socialist because I tell them that a completely "free market" is unfair and will yield an inhumane society. I say this because people will be maliciously selfish, greedy, acquisitive, envious, spiteful, et cetera when they can freely pursue money, profit, et cetera. Especially when the people in question are Americans.

-- "liberal" and "progressive" Democrats call me a "Republican" because I openly disagree with and criticize various programs, ideas, arguments made by Democrats of all types. I do this not because I want the Republicans to win, but because the Democrats are liars -- much like the Republicans are liars. I am not aiming for a victory from either of the Republicans or Democrats. I don't see any real difference in my life arising from choosing either over the other.

After a few years of this consistent labelling I thought I'd investigate what the "socialists" around the InterWebToobz were saying. The "Republican" label I knew was bogus because I gave up on the Repub/Dem dynamic many years ago. but the "socialist" one made me think that I couldn't figure what in my personal political views would make me a scion of Karl Marx.

In the socialist websites I visited, I found a religion. This religion worships Marx, Engels, Lenin and assorted Holy Acolytes like Guy Debord and John Reed. There are schisms that resemble the various sects of Protestant Christian thought. The parallels to religion really are comically ironic.

Now, I'm not saying --for example-- that there wasn't wisdom in some of Marx's writings. That Jesus of Nazareth had some good observations, if I'm to believe the New Testament's stuff in the Gospels and elsewhere. But I don't think a cult is the best way to implement sound moral judgment.

Cults, religions, political parties -- these things all trigger my self-preservation response. I become acutely suspicious of what they're going to be asking me to give up, as a sacrifice, to achieve the goals of the Cult Leader, the Church, the Party. More importantly, I want to know the connection between my sacrifice for the group's good, and my own gains in the bargain.

What will I receive for my sacrifice?

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When America was formed out of the Declaration of Independence, a bunch of interested people put together the Articles of Confederation. They were the forerunner document to what we all know now as the Constitution. The Articles were the formative laws and statements of principles that created the government for the United States.

When I compare the Articles and the Constitution with the words of the Declaration of Independence, I find that the Articles resembles the Declaration, while the Constitution does not. I say this because the Declaration is a litany of complaints about the problems of having to answer to a government that disregards your input, takes your money, give you nothing in return, and in fact will force itself on you, will enter your home or at least reserve the right to do so, will not give you fair procedure under that government's laws.

You probably haven't read the Declaration of Indpendence since you were a kid in school. And you might not have read it then. But you should go read it now. You really should -- and you should try, as you read it, to imagine whether any of the listed problems might exist today, for you, in your view, as an American citizen.

When you take that little intellectual journey, you should be sure to leave your guilty conscience back in some other room. Don't start feeling paranoid about questioning your government, or about asserting your own rights by imagining you have them! Just wonder, what was it these colonists were seeing, that made them want to do something about the treatment they were receiving from their government.

to be continued


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Feeling antsy? Then on a related note, read this from Crispin Sartwell.

Monday, October 5, 2009

what do you want?

are you pleased with "bailouts" that reward those who caused our financial problems?

are you willing to accept "health care reform" that amounts to nothing more than a minor change in the way insurance companies, HMOs, hospitals, TPAs, doctors, clinics take your money and give you little in return?

if someone was to ask you what you thought would be fair, what would you think? would you feel guilty for considering your own finances, your own health, your own freedom, your own livelihood... ahead of the "success" of your employer?

what are the origins of human society? are they about the clever and deceitful taking full advantage of the rest of us? are they about people working cooperatively to find ways that make life more comfortable, more fulfilling, for most of us?

do you quickly blame everyone outside yourself when you see someone suffering, when you hear of people oppressed by others, when you are forced to contend with what the US Government does with your taxpayer dollars?

what is America?

is it what you were told in elementary, middle, high school?

or is it a huge society made up of you, and people like you, who might have their own ideas?

ask yourself.