This blog is a composite blog of several sources examining some of the critical issues determining our existence and well being in the U.S. if not anywhere in the world. Most of the sources included are from the last two-three years or very recent.—-Thomas Baldwin, March 10, 2015, Biloxi, MS.
Page 1 of 4 pages at Political Magazine. SPECIAL REPORT
THE PITCHFORKS ARE COMING—FOR US PLUTOCRATS
By NICK HANAUER JULY/AUGUST 2014
Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires
You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.
Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.
But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?
I see pitchforks.
At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.
But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.
And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.
If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.
Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction.
Here’s what I say to you: You’re living in a dream world. What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.
The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer…..This excellent article is continued at the link below:
The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America–and What We Can Do to Stop It Hardcover – November 12, 2013
The United States is more vulnerable today than ever before-including during the Great Depression and the Civil War-because the pillars of democracy that once supported a booming middle class have been corrupted, and without them, America teeters on the verge of the next Great Crash.
The United States is in the midst of an economic implosion that could make the Great Depression look like child’s play. In THE CRASH OF 2016, Thom Hartmann argues that the facade of our once-great United States will soon disintegrate to reveal the rotting core where corporate and billionaire power and greed have replaced democratic infrastructure and governance. Our once-enlightened political and economic systems have been manipulated to ensure the success of only a fraction of the population at the expense of the rest of us.
The result is a “for the rich, by the rich” scheme leading to policies that only benefit the highest bidders. Hartmann outlines the destructive forces-planted by Lewis Powell in 1971 and come to fruition with the “Reagan Revolution”-that have looted our nation over the past decade, and how their actions fit into a cycle of American history that lets such forces rise to power every four generations.
However, a backlash is now palpable against the “economic royalists”-a term coined by FDR to describe those hoarding power and wealth-including the banksters, oligarchs, and politicians who have plunged our nation into economic chaos and social instability.
Although we are in the midst of what could become the most catastrophic economic crash in American History, a way forward is emerging, just as it did in the previous great crashes of the 1760s, 1856, and 1929. The choices we make now will redefine American culture. Before us stands a genuine opportunity to embrace the moral motive over the profit motive-and to rebuild the American economic model that once yielded great success.
Thoroughly researched and passionately argued, THE CRASH OF 2016 is not just a roadmap to redemption in post-Crash America, but a critical wake-up call, challenging us to act. Only if the right reforms are enacted and the moral choices are made, can we avert disaster and make our nation whole again.
Thom Hartmann on “The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do to Stop It”
“Could the United States face another economic collapse? Writer and broadcaster Thom Hartmann looks back at past financial crises and comes to a startling conclusion. “As long as you don’t look too closely at our nation, things seem under control — the United States looks whole … but when you go around to the ‘dark back side’ of the nation, you see the shocking truth. There you see a nation whose core fundamentals have been hollowed out,” writes Hartmann in his new book, “The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America — And What We Can Do to Stop It.”
Click on link or title of film to see Democracy Now interview of Hartman.
Depending on who you listen to, it’s the end of the world, or it isn’t. A loud and lively debate that springs up in the media every time a new sign of potential methane instability or apparent increasing emission from methane stores is reported by Arctic observational science.
On one side of this debate are those declaring the apocalypse is nigh due to, what they think, is an inevitable catastrophic methane release driven by an unprecedentedly rapid human warming of the Arctic. A release large enough to wipe out global human civilization. These doomsayers are fueled by a number of scientists (usually Arctic observational specialists) who continue to express concern — due to an increasing number of troubling, if not yet catastrophic, rumblings coming from the Arctic carbon store. The Arctic is warming faster than it ever has, they accurately note. And this very rapid rate of warming is putting unprecedented and dangerous stresses on carbon stores, including methane, that have lain dormant for many millions of years. The risk of catastrophic release, therefore, is high enough to sound the alarm.
Climate scientists have been warning us for years that global warming causes from our abundant use of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, presents a rear challenge for mankind. Depending on how serious it is it could even lead to extinction. More recently the real danger that exists is the meling of sea ice at the poles and the release of methane through the form of methane hydrate. This is well presented by several scientists in the video below produced in November 2012.
WARNING! China Warns of Third World War
Our world wide war mongering (enhanced after 9/11) has led to several disasters: 1) Perpetual war and exhorbitant spending for weapons (Military Industrial Complex) so that we now spend more money on “Defense” than all of the other major countries in the world combined! 2) Total wreckage of at least one third of the nations in the United Nations (about 69) since WWII ended 3) Constant threats by Congress to cut back (rather than expand) needed social programs including social security, healthcare, food, housing, energy, etc. etc. 4) Uncontrolled surveillance of world citizens including those in the U.S. in clear violation of the Constitution. 4) War profiteering by major U.S. corporations which becomes money fed back into the electoral system to totally corrupt our political system. The list is huge and these are only a few of the major catastrophes. And just as we might have begun to believe that the threat of nuclear war might have diminished nearly 25 years ago with the ending of the “cold war”, the spectre of total annililation has arisen again with Obama’s blundering (our Nobel Peace President!) in the Ukraine on Russia’s border. Here is a recent report on that:
NATO maneuvers with US and Polish soldiers in the field. (Via flickr)
I voted for Barack Obama for president twice, for one reason: I thought he would not get us into a nuclear war. Now I’m afraid even that reason for my vote is wearing thin, threatened by US and NATO aggression in Ukraine. As the US continues threatening to send so-called “defensive” weapons to the Ukraine government and to impose yet more economic sanctions against Russia – despite the recent ceasefire agreement beginning to take hold – the prospect of Armageddon by accident increases. Moreover, Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he would (understandably) regard the US arming the Ukrainian military an act of war, to which Russia would respond. I don’t think that means he would resort to nuclear weapons, at least initially. But if the already tense situation continues to heat up, anything could happen.
The latest is that the US is readying soldiers for Ukraine deployment. “The US Army is preparing to send approximately 300 troops at a time to train Ukrainian forces in western Ukraine, according to documents posted on a government contracting site.” Oh, but they’ll only be there as advisers, like in Vietnam. But then there are the “massive wargames in Eastern Europe and naval exercises in the Black Sea, [where] warships from the US, Turkey, Italy, Canada and Romania started drills” earlier this month. And then there’s the NATO military parade on February 24, held just 300 meters from the Russian border. “About 140 pieces of armor and 10 times as many troops, including US soldiers, took part in that event.” Naturally those suspicious Russians claim that “NATO is using the situation in Ukraine to push closer to Russia’s border.” And frankly, this makes me a little nervous myself.
But don’t we need to take on “the new Hitler,” as Hillary Clinton has called Mr. Putin, by any means necessary? Well, if Putin really were comparable to Hitler, at least we might have an excuse to be involved in Ukraine. But even then – updating our thinking from the 1930s – it should be the first rule of sensible geopolitics that nuclear powers never, ever fight. And it helps that Putin, to my mind, has committed no aggression in Ukraine.
We need to remember that the crisis began when US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, formerly senior adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, successfully plotted to overthrow Ukraine’s constitutionally elected government. The Neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and Right Factor militias seized weapons from armories and took power by force. To my mind, the US investment of $5 billion in this violent regime change was a form of aggression.
Since then, US, NATO, and Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Russia of aggression in Ukraine. But none have offered any proof, or even substantial evidence. Most recently they have been reduced to claiming to have circumstantial evidence that Russia has armed the rebels in eastern Ukraine – alleging that the rebels have weapons they could only have obtained from Russia. And they are reported to have shown photographic evidence to a journalist for a Western news outlet – but none have been published.
On the other hand, if Russia had actually invaded Ukraine when Western officials claimed it had, we face the disturbing prospect that our old Cold War adversary is now able to render its troops – along with armored personnel carriers, tanks, artillery, and other heavy weaponry – invisible while crossing the Russian border. Don’t we have satellites that can read a license plate on the ground in Ukraine? And if our government had photographic evidence of an invasion, wouldn’t they be showing it to the American people and the world, just as Colin Powell showed the United Nations his “proof” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? So it must be that in their efforts to compete with the US military’s “stealth” bombers, the Russians have developed techniques to render heavy weaponry and entire armies invisible. Or – okay, who exactly is out to lunch here? ..Continued at link. http://www.greanvillepost.com/2015/03/09/how-obamas-aggression-in-ukraine-risks-nuclear-war/
“Some analysts believe a new form of fascism has formed that has disguised itself as democracy with relentless propaganda and continuous war. It is our responsibility to expose the lies of warmongers, to re-awaken popular movements, and to demand change.
Traditional fascism is defined as a right-wing political system run by a dictator who prohibits dissent and relies on repression. But some analysts believe a new form of fascism has arisen that has a democratic façade and is based on relentless propaganda and endless war, as journalist John Pilger describes.
The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism”
Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.
Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.
In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten.”
Gaddafi’s Torture/Lynching Continue reading this article here.
Compiled by Thomas Baldwin
November 10, 2014
In an update to this post I have added a recent post by Chris Hedges on Truthdig which summarizes some of his discussion with Wolin and adds his own:
Can Capitalism and Democracy Co-exist? Original sements on TheRealNews.com in November 2014. Wolin’s book: “Democracy Inc., “Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.”
RICHARD WOLFF LECTURES IN 2012 AND 2014:
Thomas Baldwin These are two brilliant, articulate economic history lessons by Richard Wolff. I had forgotten for a few months how great he is!! Anyone who listens to these films and isn’t Mad as Hell at our corrupt capitalistic system and anyone continuing to defend what Hedges call “unfettered capitalism” needs to consult a shrink immediately!!