24 Nov, 14 > 30 Nov, 14
7 Jul, 14 > 13 Jul, 14
27 Jan, 14 > 2 Feb, 14
13 Jan, 14 > 19 Jan, 14
11 Mar, 13 > 17 Mar, 13
21 Jan, 13 > 27 Jan, 13
23 Jan, 12 > 29 Jan, 12
5 Dec, 11 > 11 Dec, 11
24 Oct, 11 > 30 Oct, 11
17 Oct, 11 > 23 Oct, 11
3 Oct, 11 > 9 Oct, 11
15 Aug, 11 > 21 Aug, 11
28 Mar, 11 > 3 Apr, 11
7 Mar, 11 > 13 Mar, 11
21 Feb, 11 > 27 Feb, 11
17 Jan, 11 > 23 Jan, 11
10 Jan, 11 > 16 Jan, 11
20 Dec, 10 > 26 Dec, 10
13 Dec, 10 > 19 Dec, 10
6 Dec, 10 > 12 Dec, 10
29 Nov, 10 > 5 Dec, 10
22 Nov, 10 > 28 Nov, 10
15 Nov, 10 > 21 Nov, 10
1 Nov, 10 > 7 Nov, 10
25 Oct, 10 > 31 Oct, 10
11 Oct, 10 > 17 Oct, 10
4 Oct, 10 > 10 Oct, 10
27 Sep, 10 > 3 Oct, 10
13 Sep, 10 > 19 Sep, 10
6 Sep, 10 > 12 Sep, 10
30 Aug, 10 > 5 Sep, 10
9 Aug, 10 > 15 Aug, 10
5 Jul, 10 > 11 Jul, 10
24 May, 10 > 30 May, 10
26 Apr, 10 > 2 May, 10
19 Apr, 10 > 25 Apr, 10
29 Mar, 10 > 4 Apr, 10
4 Jan, 10 > 10 Jan, 10
28 Dec, 09 > 3 Jan, 10
23 Nov, 09 > 29 Nov, 09
24 Aug, 09 > 30 Aug, 09
16 Mar, 09 > 22 Mar, 09
2 Feb, 09 > 8 Feb, 09
1 Sep, 08 > 7 Sep, 08
25 Aug, 08 > 31 Aug, 08
28 Jul, 08 > 3 Aug, 08
9 Jun, 08 > 15 Jun, 08
19 May, 08 > 25 May, 08
12 May, 08 > 18 May, 08
5 May, 08 > 11 May, 08
21 Apr, 08 > 27 Apr, 08
7 Apr, 08 > 13 Apr, 08
17 Mar, 08 > 23 Mar, 08
25 Feb, 08 > 2 Mar, 08
18 Feb, 08 > 24 Feb, 08
11 Feb, 08 > 17 Feb, 08
21 Jan, 08 > 27 Jan, 08
7 Jan, 08 > 13 Jan, 08
31 Dec, 07 > 6 Jan, 08
17 Dec, 07 > 23 Dec, 07
10 Dec, 07 > 16 Dec, 07
3 Dec, 07 > 9 Dec, 07
12 Nov, 07 > 18 Nov, 07
22 Oct, 07 > 28 Oct, 07
20 Aug, 07 > 26 Aug, 07
23 Jul, 07 > 29 Jul, 07
30 Apr, 07 > 6 May, 07
2 Apr, 07 > 8 Apr, 07
19 Mar, 07 > 25 Mar, 07
5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
12 Feb, 07 > 18 Feb, 07
29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
22 Jan, 07 > 28 Jan, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
23 Oct, 06 > 29 Oct, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
9 Oct, 06 > 15 Oct, 06
2 Oct, 06 > 8 Oct, 06
18 Sep, 06 > 24 Sep, 06
28 Aug, 06 > 3 Sep, 06
21 Aug, 06 > 27 Aug, 06
3 Jul, 06 > 9 Jul, 06
26 Jun, 06 > 2 Jul, 06
12 Jun, 06 > 18 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
22 May, 06 > 28 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
1 May, 06 > 7 May, 06
10 Apr, 06 > 16 Apr, 06
27 Mar, 06 > 2 Apr, 06
13 Mar, 06 > 19 Mar, 06
6 Mar, 06 > 12 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
13 Feb, 06 > 19 Feb, 06
6 Feb, 06 > 12 Feb, 06
30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
9 Jan, 06 > 15 Jan, 06
19 Dec, 05 > 25 Dec, 05
12 Dec, 05 > 18 Dec, 05
21 Nov, 05 > 27 Nov, 05
31 Oct, 05 > 6 Nov, 05
17 Oct, 05 > 23 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
12 Sep, 05 > 18 Sep, 05
29 Aug, 05 > 4 Sep, 05
22 Aug, 05 > 28 Aug, 05
15 Aug, 05 > 21 Aug, 05
1 Aug, 05 > 7 Aug, 05
27 Jun, 05 > 3 Jul, 05
20 Jun, 05 > 26 Jun, 05
6 Jun, 05 > 12 Jun, 05
30 May, 05 > 5 Jun, 05
23 May, 05 > 29 May, 05
9 May, 05 > 15 May, 05
2 May, 05 > 8 May, 05
25 Apr, 05 > 1 May, 05
18 Apr, 05 > 24 Apr, 05
4 Apr, 05 > 10 Apr, 05
21 Mar, 05 > 27 Mar, 05
14 Mar, 05 > 20 Mar, 05
7 Mar, 05 > 13 Mar, 05
28 Feb, 05 > 6 Mar, 05
21 Feb, 05 > 27 Feb, 05
31 Jan, 05 > 6 Feb, 05
10 Jan, 05 > 16 Jan, 05
27 Dec, 04 > 2 Jan, 05
15 Nov, 04 > 21 Nov, 04
1 Nov, 04 > 7 Nov, 04
25 Oct, 04 > 31 Oct, 04
26 Jul, 04 > 1 Aug, 04
19 Jul, 04 > 25 Jul, 04
14 Jun, 04 > 20 Jun, 04
17 May, 04 > 23 May, 04
22 Mar, 04 > 28 Mar, 04
8 Mar, 04 > 14 Mar, 04
23 Feb, 04 > 29 Feb, 04
26 Jan, 04 > 1 Feb, 04
17 Nov, 03 > 23 Nov, 03
10 Nov, 03 > 16 Nov, 03
3 Nov, 03 > 9 Nov, 03
20 Oct, 03 > 26 Oct, 03
13 Oct, 03 > 19 Oct, 03
22 Sep, 03 > 28 Sep, 03
15 Sep, 03 > 21 Sep, 03
8 Sep, 03 > 14 Sep, 03
28 Jul, 03 > 3 Aug, 03
28 Apr, 03 > 4 May, 03
Thursday, June 9, 2005
 Regarding Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind

Topic: Commentary
A recent article by David Cay Johnston, Richest are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind, echoes the sentiment of my 2003 article, In Depth Analysis of American Income and Taxation. Johnston brings more weight to the subject of growing income inequality in America with fresh statistics and the fact that his article is published in the New York Times.

Some of the important facts that Johnston notes include:
"The average income for the top 0.1 percent was $3 million in 2002, the latest year for which averages are available. That number is two and a half times the $1.2 million, adjusted for inflation, that group reported in 1980. No other income group rose nearly as fast.

The share of the nation's income earned by those in this uppermost category has more than doubled since 1980, to 7.4 percent in 2002. The share of income earned by the rest of the top 10 percent rose far less, and the share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell."

".Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes - a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data - now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000.

.Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000.

.The alternative minimum tax, created 36 years ago to make sure the very richest paid taxes, takes back a growing share of the tax cuts over time from the majority of families earning $75,000 to $1 million - thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars annually. Far fewer of the very wealthiest will be affected by this tax.

The analysis examined only income reported on tax returns. The Treasury Department says that the very wealthiest find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter a lot of income from taxes. So the gap between the very richest and everyone else is almost certainly much larger."

"From 1950 to 1970, for example, for every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162, according to the Times analysis. From 1990 to 2002, for every extra dollar earned by those in the bottom 90 percent, each taxpayer at the top brought in an extra $18,000."

"One reason the merely rich will fare much less well than the very richest is the alternative minimum tax. This tax, the successor to one enacted in 1969 to make sure the wealthiest Americans could not use legal loopholes to live tax-free, has never been adjusted for inflation. As a result, it stings Americans whose incomes have crept above $75,000.

The Times analysis shows that by 2010 the tax will affect more than four-fifths of the people making $100,000 to $500,000 and will take away from them nearly one-half to more than two-thirds of the recent tax cuts. For example, the group making $200,000 to $500,000 a year will lose 70 percent of their tax cut to the alternative minimum tax in 2010, an average of $9,177 for those affected.

But because of the way it is devised, the tax affects far fewer of the very richest: about a third of the taxpayers reporting more than $1 million in income. One big reason is that dividends and investment gains, which go mostly to the richest, are not subject to the tax."

While the article is certainly on the right track, the only problem that I have with it is the use of the term "earn" throughout the piece. In fact, Johnston isn't really discussing earnings, but merely receipts. We don't actually know what anyone "earns" in our economy, all that we do know is what they receive.

This isn't a trivial point, it's actually a major one that I have made before in the blog entry The Linguistics of Economic Deception.

Fortunately I wrote Mr. Johnston and was able to convince him of my point, so perhaps we will see more in the way of accurate economic discussion in the future, and Mr. Johnston is certainly an appropriate person to contribute to that effort.

The reality is that the super rich are receiving much, much, more value than they create each year, and this situation is rapidly escalating. With the rise of huge multi-national companies value created by workers from all over the world is being siphoned into the bank accounts of the hyper-rich in a runaway snowball effect, and the hyper-rich use their incomes to buy ownership of more and more capital in a self-feeding system that is concentrating huge portions of the value created by workers into the hands of a few. All the while, we keep engaging the fallacy of saying that our incomes actually represent earnings, when in fact, they represent nothing of the sort.

Earn is a subjective and loaded term. To say that everyone's income is earned, is preposterous at face value. People come into money in an infinite number of ways, many of which have nothing to do with earning it. The only thing you know when you know someone's yearly income is how much they have received, you know nothing at all about how much value they actually created over the year. The use of the word "earned" is just an attempt to provide an immediate justification for all incomes, both high and low, but the fact is that this simply isn't the case.

Earn is a subjective term, but receive is an objective term, and it's the only term that can honestly be used when discussing incomes.

Posted by at 12:54 AM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, June 9, 2005 7:47 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
 It's not African Aid, it's reparations

Topic: Commentary
As anyone paying attention to the news knows, the leaders of industrialized countries are meeting and discussing the topic of "foreign aid" and "debt relief" to Africa.

We can never have an accurate discussion of the economic situation in Africa until Western societies openly acknowledge and own up to the massive exploitation that they have historically imposed on Africa. Indeed, literally trillions of dollars worth of wealth has been stolen from Africa by Western nations, mostly the Europeans, but America as well to a lesser degree.

All of Africa, of course, was colonized by the Europeans during the 18th and 19th century. During this time vast amounts of wealth were shipped out of the continent wholesale, without any compensation to the inhabitants whatsoever. This wealth is a significant part of the base of the wealth of today's industrialized nations. Without it these nations would all be poorer today. To call the action of "giving money" to Africa "aid" is a complete misnomer, in fact this is really an act of paying back to the continent what it is rightfully owed.

Africans should be charging interest to the Western Nations on the value of the wealth taken from the continent without compensation, indeed it is the West that is in debt to Africa in reality, not the other way around.

If we want to get some idea of the amount of wealth taken from Africa, and the debt that the West has to this continent, then we can first look to the value of the African slaves themselves. African slaves were used throughout the Americas, in the Caribbean, South America and North America, to produce literally trillions of dollars worth of wealth, 100% of which went into the coffers of established Western Society, and formed the base of the entire economic revolution of the West during the 17th through the 19th century. Let's get just a small taste of the size of this "value".

Statements from American slave holders give some idea of the value of the human capital that was taken from Africa:

The Declaration of Secession of Georgia states:
But they know the value of parchment rights in treacherous hands, and therefore they refuse to commit their own to the rulers whom the North offers us. Why? Because by their declared principles and policy they have outlawed $3,000,000,000 of our property in the common territories of the Union; put it under the ban of the Republic in the States where it exists and out of the protection of Federal law everywhere...

The Declaration of Secession of Mississippi states:
We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property.

These two cases alone report an amount of $7 billion in 1860 dollars. Adjusted for inflation this would amount hundreds of billions of dollars, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. That doesn't count the "value" of any of the slaves held in the rest of the states, in the Caribbean, or in South America. It also doesn't even begin to count the material wealth taken from Africa, and continuing to be taken from Africa, in the form of gold, diamonds, timber, wildlife, minerals and more.

A real accounting of the degree to which Western economies have benefited from the exploitation of Africa has still never been done to my knowledge, but surely by any accounting literally trillions of dollars worth of resources have been taken from Africa without compensation.

Therefore, to act as though Western nations are being asked to simply "give" Africa something for nothing, i.e. charity, is a far cry from the truth.

Now let's discuss the topic of debt relief for African nations. Anyone with any knowledge of how the economic world really work would know that it is completely legitimate to erase 100% of African debt without any strings attached.

Here is how the majority of the African countries have gotten into debt:

Western companies found valuable resources in Africa that they wanted to acquire and bring to market for as little money as possible. Due to the under developed infrastructure of Africa, bringing these resources to market would actually be quite expensive because, left to the "free market" the company would have to build the infrastructure itself or raise private money to do so in order to extract the resources and bring them to the West.

So, companies and partners would lobby Western nations and talk to local chieftains. They would get support for a revolution or put some old half-prince into power in the country through the use of Western government aid. Once in power with the help of Western aid, the ruler, usually a warlord, was then advised by Western advisors to take our massive loans from governments, or from various private lenders at extremely high interests rates, in order to "build up the nation's infrastructure."

Well, the money was used to contract Western companies to design and implement the infrastructure. The infrastructure was built purely with the interest of extracting the resources as quickly as possible, often with a short term perspective, so the construction would be low quality, and the infrastructure would have little economic benefit to the country as it wouldn't be designed to really help the people.

The "investment in infrastructure" typically involved building a railroad from a port to a mineral mine or a timber forest, with no other use than to extract materials as directly as possible and get them on a ship bound for America or Europe.

In the end, the land was privatized and the African Natives were kicked off the land, the material wealth was taken out of the country with virtually no compensation, and the infrastructure served no valuable long term purpose and had no impact on helping to really develop the country. In reality it was all just a system to subsidize the actions of private corporations.

In the end, most of these high risk loans were transfered to the IMF or World Bank, who have acted as debt servicers.

Who pays the price? The African people, who had zero say in the process, had nothing to do with the debt, and got no benefit from it at all. In many of the cases this is exactly what has happened in Africa. A large number of the loans have been taken out by dictators over the past 50 years, almost all of which were operating in the interests of the Western powers.

This is really an entire paperwork scam run on an enormous international level, with the cooperation of governments and corporations, and now we act like we are doing the Africans favors by "forgiving their debt."

The reality is that this was never legitimate debt in the first place.

Where did all the money go? Into the hands of private investors and corporations that abused the system and manipulated warlords and villains into putting billions of dollars of debt onto the books of their nation at the expense of their own people.

Indeed corruption and incompetence has plagued Africa for the past 50 years, but much of this has been facilitated by the Western powers who have intentionally aided corrupt leaders to power precisely so that they could bribe them and use these schemes to load up the African books with billions of dollars of debt that serves as yet another means of international corporate welfare.

BBC: Africa 2005

Posted by at 12:30 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2005 7:37 AM EDT
Sunday, June 5, 2005
 The banality of American reporting: Wisdom from the past

Topic: Semi-random Thoughts
There are, first of all, two kinds of authors: those who write for the subject’s sake, and those who write for writing’s sake. The first kind have had thoughts or experiences which seem to them worth communicating, while the second kind need money and consequently write for money. They think in order to write, and they may be recognised by their spinning out their thoughts to the greatest possible length, and also by the way they work out their thoughts, which are half-true, perverse, forced, and vacillating; then also by their love of evasion, so that they may seem what they are not; and this is why their writing is lacking in definiteness and clearness.

Consequently, it is soon recognised that they write for the sake of filling up the paper, and this is the case sometimes with the best authors; for example, in parts of Lessing’s Dramaturgie, and even in many of Jean Paul’s romances. As soon as this is perceived the book should be thrown away, for time is precious. As a matter of fact, the author is cheating the reader as soon as he writes for the sake of filling up paper; because his pretext for writing is that he has something to impart. Writing for money and preservation of copyright are, at bottom, the ruin of literature. It is only the man who writes absolutely for the sake of the subject that writes anything worth writing. What an inestimable advantage it would be, if, in every branch of literature, there existed only a few but excellent books! This can never come to pass so long as money is to be made by writing. It seems as if money lay under a curse, for every author deteriorates directly he writes in any way for the sake of money. The best works of great men all come from the time when they had to write either for nothing or for very little pay. This is confirmed by the Spanish proverb: honra y provecho no caben en un saco (Honour and money are not to be found in the same purse). The deplorable condition of the literature of to-day, both in Germany and other countries, is due to the fact that books are written for the sake of earning money. Every one who is in want of money sits down and writes a book, and the public is stupid enough to buy it. The secondary effect of this is the ruin of language.

A great number of bad authors eke out their existence entirely by the foolishness of the public, which only will read what has just been printed. I refer to journalists, who have been appropriately so-called. In other words, it would be "day labourer."
-Arthur Schopenhauer, 1851; On Authorship and Style

Indeed, this is a truth that stands the test of time.

Certainly it is true that the corporate run media today has no interest in challenging the status quo of which it is a part, but the incredibly embarrassing nature of today's popular news media and book publishing is perhaps best explained by this 150 year old observation from Schopenhauer, one of Germany's greatest philosophers.

Posted by at 10:42 PM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Friday, June 3, 2005
 Nixon just got a taste of his own medicine

Topic: Commentary
Ever since the revealing of Mark Felt as "Deep Throat", the secret source that fed insider information to reporters, people have come out on both sides of issue, some calling Felt a hero, some calling him a traitor or dishonorable. The irony is though, that it was Richard Nixon himself that got his career off the ground and made a name for himself by the prosecution of a State Department official in which he leaked massive about of information to the press. Nixon lived by the sword and he died by the sword.

Anyone who thinks that Nixon didn't deserve what he got doesn't know anything about Richard Nixon.

During the case State Department official Alger Hiss, Richard Nixon obstructed the efforts of the FBI and leaked confidential information to the press in a campaigned designed to manipulate public opinion.

While in office in 1971 Nixon was recorded discussing his actions in the Alger Hiss case and the lessons he learned from it:
"We won the Hiss case in the papers. We did. I had to leak stuff all over the place. Because the Justice Department would not prosecute it. Hoover didn't even cooperate. It was won in the papers. We have to develop a program, a program for leaking out information. We're destroying these people in the papers."

"I had Hiss convicted before he got to the grand jury....I no longer have the energy, [but we need] a son of a bitch who will work his butt off and do it dishonorably. I know how to play the game and we're going to play it."
- Richard Nixon; July 1, 1971

The comments were made in relation to the recent leaking of "The Pentagon Papers" by Daniel Ellsberg. The papers disclosed the hidden truth about the state of the Vietnam War, and Nixon ruthlessly went after Ellsberg.

Little did Nixon know at the time that the same technique would be used against him under similar circumstances. Nixon had plenty of experience "destroying... people in the papers."

In 1974 he simply got a taste of his own medicine.

Posted by at 9:27 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, June 4, 2005 5:05 AM EDT
Thursday, June 2, 2005
 Regarding Buchanan sees 'war' within conservatism

Topic: Commentary
It’s always interesting to hear from Pat Buchanan because he is an intelligent man who has taken the time to think through his political views. However, like most American conservatives, there are many aspects of his political worldview that simply don't make any sense. This isn't meant to be a disparagement of Buchanan, I think he's a straight shooting man with more integrity than almost any other political figure in America today, even though I disagree with his views; he's at least a guy that you can respect because he is honest. Perhaps it’s just his lack of political influence that affords him the ability to be more honest, I don't know.

At any rate, Buchanan provides some excellent ideological fodder in a recent Washington Times piece: Buchanan sees 'war' within conservatism

I do want to point out that many political analysts have been saying for the past 20 years that there is a fundamental break within the Republican Party that would eventually cause a split due to the strange mix of religious social conservatives and corporate interests within the party, so Buchanan's assessment is really nothing new.

Let's take a look at a few of Buchanan's comments:
"It doesn't exist anymore as a unifying force," he says in an interview with The Washington Times. "There are still a lot of people who are conservative, but the movement is now broken up, crumbled, dismantled."

This can be expected of any large political movement. The bigger you get, the harder it is to stay together. Nothing new here.
There are "a lot of people who call themselves conservative but who, on many issues, I just don't consider as conservative. They are big-government people."

The question for Mr. Buchanan here is: why does he classify "big-government" as not "conservative"? What exactly does "conservative" mean?

This is actually an interesting question, because it relates to "big-government" in many, many ways, and has to do with where Buchanan’s "conservative" ideology comes from.

First of all, most conservatives will tell you how much they honor and respect the Found Fathers of America; however, ideologically conservatives are miles apart from "The Founders". The most powerful and important founders in America were known as the Federalists, and as you might suspect from their name, they were in favor of a strong central government. During the lead up to the ratification of The Constitution, founders, mostly Alexander Hamilton, published "The Federalist Papers" in newspapers throughout the states presenting their case in favor of the new constitution. In response to these letters "anti-Federalist" papers were written. Ironically, Buchanan’s views, and the views of those like him, are best reflected in the anti-Federalist papers, i.e. the opposition to the Constitution.

The real basis of the so-called "small government conservative" political values comes from The Confederacy in the 1860s when the Southern States rebelled against America to leave the nation in order to form their own confederacy of loosely organized states where they could preserve slavery.

The outcry against the Federal Government was loud and clear among the Confederates, and we can see a political view that closely resembles the view of today’s “small government conservatives” by looking at the Declarations of Secession from several Confederate states:
For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slaveholding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic...

The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state.
-Georgia Declaration of Secession 1861

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization...

It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst...

Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property...
-Mississippi Declaration of Secession 1861

The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union...

Thus were established the two great principles asserted by the Colonies, namely: the right of a State to govern itself; and the right of a people to abolish a Government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted. And concurrent with the establishment of these principles, was the fact, that each Colony became and was recognized by the mother Country a FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE...

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River...
-South Carolina Declaration of Secession 1860

The Federal Government, while but partially under the control of these our unnatural and sectional enemies, has for years almost entirely failed to protect the lives and property of the people of Texas against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico; and when our State government has expended large amounts for such purpose, the Federal Government has refuse reimbursement therefor, thus rendering our condition more insecure and harassing than it was during the existence of the Republic of Texas...

...based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color-- a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law...

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations...
-Texas Declaration of Secession 1861

If these statements and positions seem to resemble those of present day "small government conservatives" it’s because they do. The views set forth by the slave holding states put commercial interests above human interests, they put an obsessive importance on property at the expense of public good, they condemned the Federal Government and viewed the Federal Government as the source of their woes, they were more interested in a strict interpretation of the Constitution than they were in humanity, they were fundamentally opposed to the idea of equality, they stressed the sovereignty of the States, and they called on God as a supporter of their views.

The majority of small government conservatives today come from The South, and though Pat Buchanan isn't technically from "The South" (he was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area), he is very much a defender of Southern "culture".

This is not to say that small government conservatives are actually pro-slavery bigots, but what has to be recognized is that the religious devotion to the "small government ideal", as well as the unbending hatred for the Federal Government, is very much a product of the Confederate experience. Southern anti-Federalism isn't so much a political philosophy that is based on reason and logic, it’s a part of Southern culture that goes back to the root causes of the Civil War itself.

What is Pat Buchanan's real form of conservatism? Pat Buchanan is really a Democrat from 1860, one of the men who would have cursed Abraham Lincoln for usurping the Constitution and using the Federal Government to oppresses the industry, property, life and liberty of the white men of The South. That's Pat Buchanan's conservatism. It's a strange irony that the people of The South have always considered themselves better Americans than everyone else. Even during the Civil War the Southern states held the view that they were the ones really upholding the true intent of the Founding Fathers, and maybe they were right, for the Southern states actually did operate in line with the Constitution of the United States and the North violated the Constitution in order to preserve the union and put an end to the practice of slavery, which was protected under the Constitution.

Moving on to more of Buchanan's comments:
"American culture has become toxic and poisonous," he says. "Take a look at what Hollywood produces today and what it produced in the 1950s. The alteration is dramatic."

Indeed, and what is the impetus behind these changes? Profit motive. Who is behind these changes? America's largest and most powerful corporations. Was the government "bigger" or "smaller" in 1950? Actually the government was more involved in the regulation of society in 1950 than it is today. If Buchanan is for "small government", as he claims to be, then why is he in favor of increased government regulation of the media? This would indicate that Buchanan is actually in favor of bigger government, not smaller government.

The objective of the media, in all its forms, is to sell products, stimulate consumerism, and to generally make people complacent and comfortable with their lives, not caring about things outside their own personal interests. This is the agenda of private interests in America; this is the agenda of the wealthy. The wealthy want complacent, lazy, mindless consumers who are willing to buy whatever crap that’s on the shelf. The wealthy want to tap into people's primal urges because these are the urges that most motivate people to consume. The primal urges are the urges for sex, food and violence. This is what capitalism embraces: sex, gluttony and violence. If Buchanan and other conservatives lament the demise of their precious social conservative ideal, then why can't they see that it’s the economic system they support that is destroying it?
"We say we won a great victory by defeating gay marriage in 11 state-ballot referenda in November," he says. "But I think in the long run, that will be seen as a victory in defense of a citadel that eventually fell."

Of course it’s a losing battle, because first of all the corporations are against conservatism and are in favor of open homosexuality because an openly homosexual marketplace is a market place that will sell more products and make more money. Capitalists want to maximize profits, and they maximize profits by catering to the wants and needs of all segments of the market, and homosexuals are segments of the market so capitalists want to be able to openly market to them and cater to them. Additionally, promoting sexual openness and experimentation helps to promote the overall culture of desire, which leads to more consumerism. Capitalism is the main force behind the "gay agenda", why can't so-called pro-capitalist conservatives see this? The market economy is fundamentally liberal.
So, Mr. Buchanan concludes, Republicans have "abdicated from the cultural war. They've stacked arms."

Well, this is nonsense. Republicans haven't abdicated the culture war, and Buchanan knows it. The Republicans will continue to use the cultural problems created by their own economic policy to stir up their voting base as long as the voters are too dumb to realize that the Republicans are really the biggest liberals in America. Republicans preach anti-liberalism, but practically every policy they have actually implemented promotes social liberalism. Every time the Republicans vote in favor of corporations they are voting for more liberalism. Every time the Republicans vote against workers and in favor of investors they are supporting the destruction of the American family and supporting an end to the traditional way of American life in favor of an America run by the wealthy, where average people have little or no control over their lives, where families will continue to be broken up by needing to move into big cities and move around the country to get and keep jobs, where people will have to work longer hours and spend less time with family in order to afford healthcare, where immigrants will continue to flood the country in order to satisfy Corporate America's lust for cheap labor and workers that are too afraid to stand up to them. It's the so-called "conservatives" that are destroying America's cultural past.

Continued below due to length...

Posted by at 5:50 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2005 5:56 AM EDT
 ... continued, Buchanan sees war...

Topic: Commentary
"The conservative movement is in large part a reaction to the social revolution that had been imposed on this country from above, without the consent of the people, by the Supreme Court

Nonsense, the conservative movement in America is a reaction to the socially destructive forces of the market economy and capitalism. The Supreme Court has nothing to do with it.
If the justices "had stayed away from forced busing, if they had let the states decide abortion and gay rights, you would not have had the cultural war - and probably not have had the victories that the Republican Party had in the 1970s and '80s."

Nonsense again. The states and local governments have tried to decide the gay rights issue recently and now so-called conservatives are calling on the Federal Government to overrule the states. The fact of the matter is that "States' Rights" is not a real conservative position. States' Rights isn't an ideological position at all, there is nothing either conservative or liberal about the States' Rights issue.

The fact is that conservatives have simply been claiming States' Rights as a philosophical principle ever since the Civil War because it was in their political interests to do so. The Southern states claimed States' Rights because the Federal Government of Lincoln was opposed to slavery. If the president had been in favor of expanding slavery then they would have been in support of federalism. It was purely a position of opportunism. Likewise, it was the Federal Government that imposed Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War, and in general the Federal Government has been more progressive on every major issue than the people of the South ever since the Civil War, so, out of political pragmatism, the Southern conservatives have hollered "States' Rights" ever since the Civil War.

Now, however, so-called "conservatives" are in power in Washington D.C. and the Federal Government is now in a position to be able to impose conservative positions on the nation. At this point, you see, the "States' Rights" position no longer favors conservatives, and so they have mostly abandoned it. It was never a real position in the first place; it was always just a smoke screen. The reality is that conservatives have always been abusers of power, because it’s really conservatives that seek to do the most regulation of society. Liberalism is fundamentally allowing people to make their own decisions, whereas conservatism is fundamentally seeking to impose some static social framework on society. In order to do that, you need control.
"I don't think neoconservatives are conservative at all," he says. "I'm often asked what exactly is it that they want to conserve. They are Wilsonian interventionists abroad; they are big government at home."

Of course, any prudent study of history should reveal, though, that all conservative movements are big government at home and expansive abroad. It’s well known that Buchanan gives tacit support to Hitler and admires Hitler. Hitler is the perfect example. Hitler was an extreme social conservative; he was also big government and expansionist. This is really classic conservatism and fits a pattern displayed from Julius Caesar to the kings of Medieval Europe.

Who could be called more conservative than King Louis XVI of France, who opposed the French Revolution? Is King Louis XVI not the true definition of conservatism in Western Civilization, a monarch struggling to maintain control of the centuries old system of Catholic domination of Europe through the cooperation of powers between the Church and State? Let's remember what real conservatism is, real conservatism is anti-democratic.
"You don't register by party in Virginia," he says when asked whether he still considers himself a Republican. "I consider myself an independent conservative who votes Republican - except when I'm on the ballot."

Well, that is Pat's first problem. Anyone voting Republican may as well just save time and give money directly to corporations. Mr. Buchanan is an intelligent man, I can't figure out why he keeps voting for a party that facilitates the exact opposite of everything he believes in. Why doesn't Pat just directly give money to pornography companies? It is, after all, a well-known fact that pornography companies, like all companies, donate more money to the Republican Party than to any other party. Pornography is a business run for profit, and therefore, is in bed with the Republicans like other for profit industries in America.
Immigration failed to become an issue in the 2004 election, he says, "because both major parties agreed that they would do nothing to defend the borders and that we ought to have amnesty for those who break in illegally. There was no choice."

Of course, every half decent political analyst has been saying for years that the Republican Party is the main party supporting illegal immigration into the US. The capitalist system is fundamentally based on the undermining of workers’ rights and depressing the labor markets. It’s an inherently exploitive system that can only sustain itself through continued exploitation. Of course the Republicans are going to be in favor of illegal immigration, because illegal immigrants form the exploited base upon which the entire rest of the economy is dependant. There are tens of millions of illegal workers in America, which are easily exploited by employers and serve to depress the overall wage-labor markets. It's a lynchpin of America's capitalist economy.
Opposition to Mr. Bush's proposed guest-worker program, which would allow illegal aliens to gain legal residency here, may herald a conservative comeback, Mr. Buchanan says.

Opposition to a guest worker program is the best way to ensure that illegal immigrants will continue to flood into America, because it’s the best way to ensure demand for exploitable labor. If you really want to slow the tide of Mexican immigrants, then you should grant everyone citizenship, which would put them under American labor laws, and thus decrease the demand for Mexican workers, resulting in a diminishing of opportunity for them to easily find work, resulting in a slowdown of immigration. Once again, as a "conservative" Buchanan fails to be able to figure out how to achieve real his own goals.

To sum up, American conservatism simply doesn’t make any sense, and the idea of “small government” conservatism really doesn’t make sense. Buchanan will never see small government conservatism because it requires a large and strong Federal Government to impose conservatism on the public. Conservatism inherently implies regulation.

Furthermore, conservatives will never achieve anything they want socially as long as they support the multi-national corporations that run America. Corporations are the main drivers of social liberalism and the breakup of social fabric at a fundamental level. Capitalism is fundamentally a system that favors and promotes liberalism. Everyone from the Communists to the Fascists understood this.

The irony is that throughout the 20th century all of the groups that “hated America” hated America’s social liberalism. All of the people around the world who looked to America as their beacon of hope loved America’s liberalism. American liberal society is exactly what the oppressed people around the world love about America, its what inspires them.

American liberal society is exactly what all of the enemies of America hate. From Hitler to Stalin to Fidel Castro to Mao to Osama Bin Laden, the one thing they all have in common is their belief that American liberalism is socially corrosive and destructive to society. Their policies have all been based on trying to protect their society from the “corrupting effects of Western Civilization”.

So tell me again, who is it that is ideologically aligned with the “America haters”? It’s the conservatives of course.

Does anyone really think that America was looked up to around the world after World War II because of “conservative” policy? No, of course not. People in the USSR, Cuba, all over Europe, the Middle East and Asia were doing everything they could to get their hands on American Rock and Roll, American fashion, buy American pornography, buy liberal American books, watch Hollywood movies, etc. People around the world were inspired by the Civil Rights movement in America. You will find around the world that the pro-Americans are liberals, and the anti-Americans are the conservatives.

It seems that everyone around the world has figured out long ago that American capitalism and American liberalism go hand in hand, so why is it that so many “conservatives” in America seem to be completely incapable of figuring it out? Why does Pat Buchanan continue to vote Republican, when in fact the Republican Party is the biggest enemy of his beliefs?

Posted by at 5:48 AM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2005 6:18 AM EDT
Thursday, May 26, 2005
 Leaked Downing Street Memo Verifies Bush's Pre-War Deception

Topic: Commentary
It's been almost a month now since a document was published in England exposing the fact that British intelligence knew that the Bush administration was manipulating the facts to fit the administration's case for war as of July 2002, some eight months prior to the declaration of war on Iraq.

Specifically, the memo in question, which was published in Britain on May 1st, states:
Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

To many, like myself, this memo is hardly a revelation; we knew that the Bush administration was deliberately deceiving the American public to build a case for war even before the war started. The real story here is not the memo itself, but the fact that it's is not even a major news item in America.

Once again, the major media is failing to give real coverage to the issue, much less do any further investigation on it.

In fact, the Newsweek story about the "Koran abuse" could not have come along at a better time for the administration, and served as an excellent distraction and means to undermine general efforts by news organizations to challenge the administration. At a time when one of the most significant facts concerning the Bush administration's Iraq deceptions was beginning to gain exposure, an enormous uproar was made about the Newsweek story.

The Downing Street Memo was published by The Times in Britain on May 1, 2005, and the Newsweek story was published May 4, 2005.

The British Memo, a major news item in Europe, was mentioned in only a couple of small newspaper stories in America prior to the Newsweek uproar, which began on May 12. The American press, once again, failed to report on the important facts, but at the same time the Bush administration knew that the once secret British memo was something that they wanted to keep from becoming a bigger story.

Newsweek provided the perfect opportunity for the White House to divert attention and undermine general press credibility at a time when one of the potentially most damaging pieces of information against the administration was beginning to float.

For more coverage of the Downing Street Memo story see:

The secret Downing Street memo

Memo: Bush manipulated Iraq intel

British Memo on U.S. Plans for Iraq War Fuels Critics

White House does not dispute substance of Downing Street Memo

Bush asked to explain UK war memo

A Charge of Media Bias, From the Left This Time

Congressional study shows large disparity in coverage of key stories

Media finally begins to notice British intelligence memo

Posted by at 7:31 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, May 26, 2005 9:33 PM EDT
Thursday, May 12, 2005
 Biology and Economics: Using Science to Understand Human Choice

Topic: Announcements
Biology and Economics: Using Science to Understand Human Choice

This article explores how economics is impacted by our understanding of human choice, and how current economic models impact our society. The article also explores a philosophical history of economic thought and touches on what biology tells us about human decision making processes.

Posted by at 7:18 PM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink
Tuesday, May 3, 2005
 Congratulations to the people of Iraq

Topic: Commentary
A new Iraqi government has been sworn into office today following the January elections. This government is still incomplete, but this will hopefully be a step of progress towards a better Iraq. Though the United States launched the war on Iraq on false pretenses, supported by a campaign of deception led by President Bush and his administration, one can only hope for the best for the Iraq people, and hope that the violence in Iraq will end as soon as possible.

Congratulations to the people of Iraq. Hopefully this day represents a lasting improvement in the lives of all Iraqi citizens. I applaud the majority of the people of Iraq for having displayed extreme graciousness and civility, and for working beyond expectations to unite Iraq and make the best of the situation.

I, and many other Americans and people around the world, have been extremely impressed by the determination, hard work, and care of the people of Iraq.

Solidarity to the people of Iraq.

Posted by at 5:15 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, April 29, 2005
 Social Security: Bush STILL has it wrong

Topic: Commentary
Last night President Bush addressed the nation to promote his Social Security agenda. As could be expected, he still got it all wrong.

The details of Bush's speech and proposal can be found here:

Press Conference of the President

Fact Sheet: Strengthening Social Security For Those In Need

At the heart of his proposal is the use of means testing to ensure that higher income workers receive less of the money back that they put in. This is, basically, how he proposes to make the system solvent.

Specifically he stated:

Secondly, I believe a reform system should protect those who depend on Social Security the most. So I propose a Social Security system in the future where benefits for low-income workers will grow faster than benefits for people who are better off. By providing more generous benefits for low-income retirees, we'll make this commitment: If you work hard and pay into Social Security your entire life, you will not retire into poverty. This reform would solve most of the funding challenges facing Social Security.

In fact, this does not address the funding challenges faced by the program. Additionally, this turns Social Security into something more like a welfare system. We don't need, or want, a welfare system. Social Security is a social insurance program and it should remain as such.

The proposal obviously comes off as a populist move to try and appeal to many of the lower income workers who have been most skeptical of his privatization agenda.

Turning Social Security into a welfare system will make the system, first of all, less fair, second of all more contentious and more likely to be attacked in the future, and thirdly it avoids dealing with the real underlying problems that are causing the Social Security funding problem. It avoids addressing root causes by adjusting how payouts are made.

I have already written several pieces outlining the root causes of the funding problems with Social Security.

In Getting a grip on Social Security: The flaw in the system, I identified the flaw in how Social Security benefits are calculated.

The central flaw in the Social Security system is that the benefits are calculated using Average Wage Indexing. This is the root flaw in the Social Security system, and no change that does not address this flaw will be successful in solving the budgeting problems for Social Security.

The Social Security system does not tax all wages or all forms of income. It only taxes wages below a certain limit, yet the yearly increase in Social Security benefits is calculated based on the average rise in all wages.

The reason that this is such a significant problem, and what I consider to be the real root cause of the overall problems with Social Security, is that wages for those with the highest incomes have increased dramatically over the past 20 years and there is every indication that this trend will continue.

This means that the high end wages, which are not taxed by the Social Security system, cause the benefit levels to be increased every year at a rate much higher than the rate of increase for the incomes that are taxed by the system.

In other words, payouts are being calculated using a totally different set of numbers than collections are using. It is impossible that this scenario could ever be kept in balance.

The solution is that collections and payouts have to be calculated using the same sets of numbers. This is basic accounting.

Anything that does not correct this problem is simply going to be moving numbers around to try and make secondary adjustments to correct for the use of wrong data. Without addressing the real cause of the problem, the problem, of course, will continue to exist and adjustments will continuously have to be made, and how those adjustments are made may well lead to more problems.

Fixing Social Security is not difficult, there is no crisis. All that needs to be done is some accurate accounting needs to be applied.

I propose several levels of steps that could be taken to strengthen Social Security.

The first level of action is to stop using Average Wage Indexing to calculate benefits changes, and begin using either Median Wage Indexing, or be even more specific and use an indexing method based specifically on the exact rage of incomes that are taxed by the Retirement (OASI) portion of the tax.

The second level of action would be to completely remove the cap on the Disability (DI) portion of the tax. Currently, the portion of the Social Security tax that is used to make payments to people receiving disability payments is capped at the same level that the OASI tax is capped at. This really makes no sense, because disability payments are not directly related to how much the recipient pays into the system anyway. Disability is really a function that should be supported by every member of society, and arguably, it should be supported most by those most able to pay. As it is right now, the burden of caring disabled workers falls most heavily on the poor and middle-class in America, while the wealthly barely contribute anything at all to pay for the disabled. This makes no sense at all of course. Therefore, the cap should be completely removed on the DI tax to at least make it so that everyone pays an equal share to care for the disabled.

The third level of actions that could be taken, would be the removal of the cap on the OASI portion of the Social Security tax as well, accompanied by a small decrease in the overall OASI tax, resulting in a small tax break for those people currently under the cap and a small to moderate tax increase for those above the cap. This would make Social Security a true flat tax.

The third level of action is not necessary to make the system solvent, but the first two steps are. What I have outlined here is a sound and reasonable way to strengthen Social Security and make it solvent, without a need to reduce benefits below current levels, increase taxes, raise the retirement age, or use means testing. It also does not add any increased cost for administration or make the system more complex, which means testing would do.

There is also, of course, no need to use private retirement accounts, and as I have stated in other articles, using private accounts would significantly weaken the system by eliminating the risk pooling that makes Social Security, and all forms of insurance plans, effective.

The bottom line is that benefit increases have to be based on the incomes of the people who are paying into the system.

Posted by at 9:12 AM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Friday, April 29, 2005 10:16 AM EDT

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