The Programming of America: Pt III, Downsizing Government

One of the big things being pushed by media and corporate culture, in tandem with Libertarians (I’ve written about them before) and Republicans, along with centrist Democrats to a large degree, is the desire to downsize our government.

This is something I have covered in the past in a different form. The size of our government has nothing to do with our prosperity. Many of the largest government programs (after the military, which I will get to) support millions of jobs and add value to our lives on a daily basis both directly and indirectly. Schools, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, police, fire departments, libraries, health departments, the Forestry Department, the CDC, the EPA, the FDA (okay, in intent more than current function) and on and on. Without these government programs and agencies, from local to federal, our economy and environment would collapse, sold to the highest corporate bidders.

Some claim they do not trust our government. Government per se is not the problem. The problem is how beholden our government officials are to corporate interests.

Some Americans are foolish enough to think censorship is perfectly acceptable as long as a corporation does it but reprehensible when a government does the same thing. Never mind that only a few corporations own most of the media and all internet access. Yes, an ISP has the right to censor your content and even what information you can access. That can be your cable, telephone or cell service provider. All because corporations fought to eliminate Net Neutrality. They won, you lost. FB, Twitter or anyone else can block you, eliminate your account along with history and never allow you back in. They do not have to tell you why.

Some Americans are raging against the China Social Scoring system. Are you kidding me? We have the same thing here, it’s just not called that. Much of it is also run by corporations. In China, a low social score does not prevent you from getting a job, it prevents you from getting some jobs which are connected to the government. Here, you go through a background check which can include your social media history. If you are critical of the government, try getting a government job or even a job with a government contractor. Go ahead, try it. I dare you. Yet here you can be denied a job with a private or corporate employer for the same background check, even if they have no connection to the government.

In addition, private individuals will check your social media accounts to decide if they will associate with you.

There does not have to be a number associated with it to be a social media score. Information is compiled by faceless, sometimes nameless entities. Some are known, like Transunion and Equifax, credit score reporting agencies. Ones that check your social media don’t have to offer names, the criteria for judging or the fact that they ever looked at your information. They can judge you worthy or unworthy according to who is on your friends list, what groups you belong to and comments you have made on different threads.

Right now you are being monitored by the NSA. You do not have to be a US citizen. Not by a long shot. You do not have to be a terrorist. Not by a long shot. You do not have to be critical of the government. Not by a long shot. The fact that you are reading this article has been logged on an NSA computer. The phone call you made a few minutes ago to your mother, your child or Mr/Ms side piece was logged and recorded.

This country has over 1300 superfund sites. Nearly every single one of them exist because of corporate malfeasance. They poison the environment, break laws, lie about it for decades. Then when they no longer can wring a profit out of an area, they abandon it, may change their names to avoid responsibility and the taxpayer picks up the bill to clean up the mess. That process and expense can continue for decades, even generations. Your grandchildren and great grandchildren will be paying for cleaning up many of those sites. If you or they do not die from cancer or be disabled by birth defects as a result of that poisoning.

Yes, the size of some parts of our government needs to be downsized. Like the military. In money, our military budget is roughly six times larger than the next largest military budget, which is China. As far as size and extent, we are up to 100 times larger than Russia. Russia has 8 military bases outside of their country, while we have 800 foreign military bases. We have forces on every continent, ocean and nearly every country on earth. While our government rages on about how this country or that country is being “aggressive”. I’ve mentioned before that this onerous expense is paid for by you, me, every man, woman and child in this country in ways most never imagine.

I have challenged those who claim we need to downsize our government, asking them for specific examples of what should be downsized or eliminated. 99% of the time, they have no answer at all. They are just regurgitating the crap they have devoured by corporate influences. The other 1% of the time they offer inane responses which offer no solutions to any problem at all. They are just uneducated, uninformed, apathetic whores to corporate profit.

Too much? Nah. I really hope the karma of these people bites them in the ass.

The honest truth is that we may hear anecdotal stories of government overreach. Most of the time, anecdotes are all they are. Other times that overreach is a result of corporate influence, such as the legal status of cannabis, brought about by bribes by alcoholic beverage companies, drug companies and for-profit prisons in conjunction with systemic racism. In other cases, overreach can be caused by inadequate resources of government agencies, such as child welfare agencies. In other words, it is literally a case for expanding government, not reducing government.Those problems are caused by understaffed agencies with underpaid workers who come under fire if they offer an inadequate response. Those same workers may be in their jobs by dedication to protecting children or similar motivations, so they would rather overreact than underreact and have a child injured or killed because of weak actions. They would prefer to do a deeper investigation but cannot do so because of lack of time and resources thanks to their case load. Of course, that case load is a result of their job being seen as an expense which offers no monetary profit.

In a government of the people, by the people, for the people I see no reference to corporate profit or control mentioned. The founders of this country abhorred corporations. Remember the Boston Tea Party? That was waged against the East India Tea Company, a corporation. The entire Constitution of the United States references personal freedoms. Historically our laws and governmental institutions have been in place to support those freedoms from those very corporations that seek to destroy our freedom for their own profit and benefit.

I will bring this back full circle. The people who promote the concept of downsizing government are rich capitalists who want fewer rules and regulations standing between them and higher profits. They want lower taxes, lower paychecks for workers, fewer environmental regulations. They view social support programs as nothing but blockades between them and your money. They view you as an expense and an inconvenience. They view the environment the same way. They view international borders the same way.

The same rich people own nearly all media in this country and try to limit or eliminate the influence of the small percentage of media they do not own. The corporations which do not own media pay the media corporations to represent their agenda while ignoring what is best for the people of this country. In that effort, they employ psychologists, media experts, retired government agents to influence your views through fear and intimidation.

I am not in favor of downsizing the government, other than the military and their contractors. I am in favor of expanding the government. That does not mean I am in favor of Communism. Mostly because we are not evolved enough as a culture for that. Yet. Until that time, I continue being in favor of Social Democracy which forces the reinvestment of resources into our own country and places limits on corporate control of your every breath.

So which is it for you? Smaller government and removing controls from those who have no concern for your well-being, even your life? Or maintain/expand a government in which we have a voice?

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Inflation Is A Myth

Capitalism and the capitalist media, even education, teaches us that inflation is a fact of life. That’s not true. This is where you should be asking questions.

Labor cost. One myth we are told is that the cost of labor drives up the cost of goods and services. This raises the question of why workers need pay increases. Of course, the answer is the increasing price of goods and services, often just for basic survival. If prices did not keep increasing, workers would not need increases to their pay.

Automation. One method businesses use to decrease the cost of labor is automation and technological advances. While it comes at an initial cost for capital outlay, the entire reason companies do this is because it saves money on wages and worker benefits in the long term. Technology increases productivity, meaning each worker can make more products, serve more customers. This means the company needs fewer workers. Pay remains the same, the cost of benefits stays the same or keeps costing the worker more each year. Automation often completely eliminates jobs. Do prices go down commensurate with the decreased labor cost? No but company profits keep going up, prices keep going up and corporate profits keep going up.

Raw materials. We hear the argument that the cost of raw materials keeps increasing. Typically, this is not true. Corporate mega-farms use more machines than labor. While labor costs have increased, go back to the second paragraph of this article. Many raw materials are imported because of lower cost. Like steel. China isn’t “dumping” unwanted steel on corporations. The American corporations are buying that steel. This goes back years, when corporations began buying steel from China because they did not want to pay for the cost of American labor. Which caused the near collapse of the US Steel industry. Consumer prices never decreased but corporate profits kept increasing. Pick any raw material that is imported yet available domestically and the same rule applies.

Lawsuits. One claim is that lawsuits drive up the cost of goods and services. You would have to look more closely by specific industry and company but lawsuits account for less than 1% of the cost of business in this country, overall. Even when faced with lawsuits, the damages are minor and still make the abuses which led to the lawsuits worth the price, leaving corporations with massive profits. The worst thing that happens is that their stock price dips for a few days. Who pays the cost of the lawsuits in reality? Consumers.

Tariffs. Numerous companies have laid workers off or exported jobs while citing tariffs as a rationale. This is disingenuous at best, a complete fabrication at worst. I’ll go back to steel as an example. If the cost of imported steel increases, it does not increase for only one company, it increases for all companies that utilize imported steel. So the cost of products increases across an entire industry, like vehicles. The consumer pays the price. The corporation preserves their profit margin. While sales may decrease, that is more of a function of stagnant wages than increased cost. Consumers either cannot afford or are hesitant to pay the higher prices.

Taxpayer subsidies. The ultimate fact of the matter is that while media rages about a “free market”, we do not have a free market. We truly have no idea how much we pay in subsidies to corporations. Lots of estimates but real numbers are elusive. From milk to corn to oil to gas to soybeans and on and on. One big problem is that subsidies are not always direct. When corporations pay wages so low that employees qualify for public assistance, we foot the bill. That’s subsidizing that corporation. When a company offers free shipping but the government offers subsidies and tax deductions for that company, that’s a subsidy. When US troops provide security for poppy fields in Afghanistan or navy ships protective escorts to oil tankers, those are subsidies. The entire military industrial complex is nothing but subsidies. So are superfund sites. The purchase of vehicles and fuel by small local governments all the way up to the US military are subsidies to vehicle manufacturers and oil companies. So, we pay the subsidies, then we pay the price at the pump, in the grocery store, on our utility bills… Socialism for the rich and corporations, capitalism for the rest of us.

Real inflation control. If we even discussed real inflation controls, it would implement such mechanisms as corporate profit caps by percentage of gross income, not allowing for stock repurchases or executive bonuses. It would look like implementing a maximum income. It may include price controls without subsidies. It would include stringent penalties for consumer abuse and price gouging. It would enforce anti-trust laws and practices. It would penalize every job eliminated or reduced while maintaining or expanding production levels. It would make stock repurchases illegal.

No going back. The point to be made here is that there is no going back on inflation. Not within our current system. Yet there is no valid rationale that bread is not 25¢ a loaf. Or that gas costs as much as it does. There is no valid rationale for oil being a top export and top import.That does not increase our energy security, does not help the environment, does not control cost or inflation.

Inflation is a myth. Like I began, inflation is a myth. A story we are told and just accept as fact. We have lived our lives without really questioning why prices increase while wages do not. We recognize the need to increase wages without asking why we need to do so just for survival. Schools teach inflation, media preaches inflation, corporations profit from inflation while causing most of that inflation for their own bottom line. Politicians promise to control inflation, then offer subsidies we pay for in order to maintain the profits of the corporate structure that causes inflation, in effect rewarding those same corporations.

Stop accepting the idea that inflation is a fact of life. It’s not. It is not a consequence or complication of capitalism. It is a core feature of capitalism.

A Deeper Look At Universal Basic Income

The idea of a Universal Basic Income or UBI has been gaining wider attention, both good and bad. Of course, some claim it would be a panacea of sorts, while others claim it would destroy the job market and the economy. Not many examine it from a neutral standpoint and look at both sides. Here I will try and postulate what would happen if it were implemented, both good and bad.

Full disclosure, I am in favor of UBI. There have been limited experiments with it in other countries, with varying results depending on the interpretation by sources who have an existing bias. I would be very much in favor of a large scale experiment in the US involving an entire city or state. I don’t find it likely that would happen because of capitalists who fear the results.

Any such experiment would have to be at least a full fiscal year, though two years would be more valid to eliminate attempts to manipulate circumstances and give a more clear image of what adjustments would be needed and true end results determined.

What it is. To recap, UBI is a proposed system whereby each citizen would be provided with a basic income. While we call it universal, it would prove no benefit to offer that income to those above a certain income level, such as those earning above $100,000. Determination of benefits should include a person’s income from all sources, not just wages. Above a certain income level, that money does not benefit the individual or the economy. So it would only serve to remove money from the economy and increase the flow of wealth to the top.

It should meet basic needs to be considered a basic income. A UBI should offer an income level high enough to provide for all basic needs. Housing, food, clothing, transportation and medical care. Not entertainment.

We’ve heard these arguments before. The major criticism of UBI is that it would encourage those already at the low end of the income spectrum to stop working. This argument is something I find equivalent to the objection to ending slavery. Slaves did not object to ending slavery and it is not those living below the poverty line who object to having a secure income which provides stability.

Decreased work hours. Many people would stop working entirely or scale back hours voluntarily. Those most likely to continue working full-time would be those in positions and careers they enjoy or pay which allowed them to rise above basic subsistence.

This would lead to wage increases across the board as employers were forced to compete for employees with higher wages, a more hospitable environment and better benefits. THIS is the biggest reason that the mere mention of the term UBI sends capitalists and corporatists into shivers of terror.

Job market effects. What this would mean to the job market would be a decrease in unemployment numbers as fewer people would be seeking employment. This would be followed by a further increase in available positions as those previously employed by companies would have the opportunity to branch out on their own.

Effects on society. What this would mean for society would mean increased life satisfaction, decreased stress, lower levels of drug abuse, increased health and longer lifespans.

Effects on militarism. A society under less stress and less ruled by fear would be less prone to wage war on other countries. Another reason that capitalists loathe the idea.

Effects on general economy. For the general economy, it would be beneficial, as more people would have an increase in disposable income, spending more and investing more. Problem is, major investors don’t really want the average consumer to invest. The greater percentage of a lower number of stocks available the rich control, the greater their profits, the greater their grasp on the economy as a whole.

Effects on consumer spending. As is obvious, consumer spending would increase. Not only in purchasing but on tourism, education, entertainment, you name it. The negative? Value menus would meet their demise.

Explosive growth. If UBI were implemented, we would see a period of explosive economic growth which would level off after a short period of years but end with sustained stability. I have covered how growth is a myth, here. Growth cannot continue indefinitely, the entire idea is ludicrous and unsustainable.

Like I said, we’ve heard these arguments before. Many of the same arguments being used against UBI have been used previously against Social Security, welfare, TANF, WIC, food stamps and the minimum wage, both when it was first implemented and with every single minimum wage increase ever. In no case did these things destroy the job market or the economy. In fact, the exact opposite is true. They improved the job market and the economy.

Effects on environment. The effect on the environment would be positive in the long term. When people are not running in fear of being unable to meet their basic needs, they would have more consideration for the environment. Right now, people are fed a diet of fear leading some to place more concern for income than the future of the planet their children and grandchildren inherit to live in. Capitalists place no concern on the environment in the first place, unless they can profit from it.

Effects on inflation. Now, here we do see a negative. Perhaps. Yes, implementing UBI would result in inflation. The biggest question is whether that inflation would be a damaging level. The answer lies not in UBI itself but in how much capitalists would continue to insist on a continued unlimited increase to their profit margin above and beyond the increased profits they would experience as a direct result of UBI itself. Because capitalists are never happy with simply increasing profits, they want to increase their percentage of profit over cost. Even if they had to pay higher wages and offer more benefits, they would already experience more profits by consumer spending. So inflation would not be organic, it would be a forced component. That should be no surprise, it’s what we have been enduring for decades. So legislation would likely have to be implemented to limit profit percentages or for direct cost control. The difference between us and Venezuela on that? Nobody is going to invade us.

Effects on taxation. Some may claim that UBI would result in less income tax revenue. Any initial loss of income tax revenue would be offset in the longer term by higher wages and business profits (assuming cities and states don’t give it all away, which they probably would). Of course, sales tax revenue would skyrocket with no increase in the tax rate being charged. Federally, we all know the tax cut for the rich is a disaster and should be repealed.

The Revolution will not be televised. Of course, none of this is going to be discussed on corporate media. Look who their advertisers are. The same companies that thrive by keeping wages down, keeping people terrified. Including the MIC. How would they convince you we need more bombs or convince young people to die in foreign countries if there was nothing to fear? If there were no enemy raging at the gate “taking away your living”, you may realize there never was an enemy, other than those at the top.

Lastly, with automation expanding with no end coming, UBI is the only way that capitalism is going to survive. If people have no income, they have nothing to spend and capitalism will collapse.

Growth And Productivity Are Toxic

Via capitalism, we are constantly barraged with the idea that continual growth is mandatory. Who came up with this concept? I’ll give you three guesses and your answers will probably be the same all three times and will probably be correct. Capitalists, of course.

The capitalist propaganda is that constant growth is necessary for capitalism to even survive. No, it is not. That is not even necessary for the stock market to survive.

Continuous growth is toxic. The striving for continual growth is what destabilizes markets, leading to highs and lows, including market corrections, retractions, crashes, recessions and depressions. Market stability is far more desirable and economically healthy. However, that is not desired by major investors because then the market flattens out with little movement. No huge profits for speculators who buy low and sell high on a daily basis.

The fact of the matter is, competition on the scale we see today is not healthy. There is no problem with one company being an industry leader in one geographic area and another company being a leader in another geographic area. The so-called competition we see today destroys companies and reduces choices in the consumer market. Hostile takeovers and mega-mergers serve no positive purpose for consumers or the labor market.

Productivity is another myth. Increasing productivity effectively decreases wages. If you work for a company and you produce one widget per hour for $10 an hour, the company makes a profit for what you produce. If the company introduces a new machine or process to increase your production, you may produce two widgets an hour. However, your pay remains $10 an hour. One assumes that the company is making twice the profit for your production but the truth is that they make more than double the original profit. If demand has not increased to the point that the company is now selling twice as many widgets, what happened is that one job is eliminated. This is what most commonly happens. So now the company is paying half the wage but also paying less in benefits. Less spent for vacation, sick time, insurance, liability, possibly health insurance and payroll services. Chances are good that if they reduce personnel enough, now they need fewer lower and middle management.

This is also one way that entire factories can cease to exist. If a company has two factories and double the output at one of those, they may close one factory. Like I have explained before, this has downstream effects. If a city or town has a significant part of the local economy dependent on a factory which closes, the results can be devastating. Now workers have no income, there are fewer jobs available in general, the unemployment rate increases, consumers spend less which impacts other local businesses. The other businesses may lose so much business that they are then forced to lay off workers or close their doors completely. There is less tax revenue collected which goes to fund schools, libraries, road repair and other municipal services. If it is a small town, the entire town may cease to exist.

Capitalism is a machine which never stops consuming, devouring all it encounters. Marx predicted 150 years ago that capitalism would reach the point where it would ultimately consume itself. That is the point we are at today. Increased productivity, automation, centralization and consolidation reduce the available jobs and career paths on a daily basis. Mergers and acquisitions have become larger than those of us over 50 could never have conceived 30 years ago.

Since the Industrial Revolution, as technology has advanced, we have gone through cycles of technology creating jobs, then mechanizing and automating jobs nearly as quickly. When was the last time you met a telephone operator? Print setter? Proof reader? Copy shops were once a common sight, far more rare today. 3D printing and self driving vehicles stand to eliminate millions of jobs in the next few years. I’ve pointed out many times that one self check register eliminates 4–6 jobs, with an average of 10 per large store, multiplied by tens of thousands of stores nationally. McDonald’s alone set a goal in 2016 of eliminating 55,000 jobs through order kiosks. They met that goal and are only one chain of many using them. Sit down restaurants are using touch screen ordering systems to reduce wait staff.

At each stage, productivity is increased while jobs are eliminated. The contradiction and danger is that each job eliminated reduces consumer earning and thus spending.

Consumer credit debt is at the highest level in history. Credit is easily available, though credit at affordable interest is only for the privileged. A huge percentage of those with credit debt have interest rates on that credit which is formidable and leads to consumer failure. That system is collapsing at this moment as we see repossessions and student loan defaults rising. Millions are trapped in a cycle of using one credit account to pay on other credit accounts while millions more are trapped in the payday loan cycle. This is no longer a distant early warning sign. This is a klaxon signalling impending collapse in the very near future.

The trade war with China is not a surprise. It is not a mere political stunt. It was inevitable under our current system and has been coming for many years. It is not reported as such by corporate media but the real point of the tensions with Russia, Iran and Venezuela are also trade conflicts. I do not expect it to be long before tensions increase with India, as they are a rising manufacturing and consumer powerhouse. We can also expect more tensions with Mexico as wages and employment in Mexico increase, which will result in an improving consumer market. That will cause increasing pricing on goods coming from Mexico as the domestic Mexican consumer economy competes with the export market to the US.

Yet one of the biggest problems of all is that sustained expanding growth is simply not possible. There are limits to consumer need. No matter how many crops are grown, people only eat so much. No matter how many vehicles are produced, people can only drive so many cars at once. All of this is limited by the ability of consumers to purchase goods while gainful employment (sic) continues to contract. See my last article, here.

All of this is completely aside from increasing environmental damage accelerating as climate change worsens and our deadline draws near to change course.

I’m really not sure what the rich and greedy expect to happen from here. Can it truly be nothing more than to be more comfortable than most as the world is incinerated? Even if they have bunkers to hide out in which the population cannot breach, what kind of life is that? How long do they think they will survive?

Without radical changes to the capitalist system, we are absolutely doomed to failure. Not only as a country but as a species. All for the greed of a limited percentage of the population. Unfortunately, that change will only occur if the most radical of us become far, far more radical than we are. The general population will continue believing what they are told by corporate media and corporate politicians until they have absolutely no choice. By then it will be too late.

So we have to act. Entire nations need to work together. The rich need to take what they have and decide they finally have enough. Because growth and productivity have reached their end point.

No, Capitalism Does Not Create Opportunity Or Drive Innovation

One of the most-oft claims of capitalists is that capitalism creates opportunities and drives innovation. This is an absolutely false statement driven by desperation or willful ignorance. Indeed, the opposite is often true.

Have you ever watched children play? Seen how their imaginations work? Children can be truly innovative. The point of education is supposed to be to guide that curiosity, that innovation using valid information which they can use through their lives, rather than “reinventing the wheel”. Learn what is already known and progress from there.

The history of mankind is a history of innovation. From first learning how to use tools to the wheel to building structures on up to electricity and computers and space flight. Let’s note right here that the first country to fly in space was not a capitalist country, it was a Communist country, the USSR.

Know any geeks and/or inventors? Inventors invent because that is their nature. Most begin as curious children who take things apart to learn how those things work. They just never get over it. It is a part of themselves they cannot deny. Yes, of course they have high hopes of creating something which will make them rich. Yet ask most of them and why do they want to get rich? Usually so they can build the workshop of their dreams and keep inventing with no monetary restraint.

All inventors and artists and writers hope to make money from their creations. For many, not because they want fame or actual fortune. Just so they don’t have to have money as a concern to limit their creativity.

Yes, I include myself in this. Of course I hope my writing takes off and becomes wildly popular. Even so I get wealthy. Of course, I would be the first to find and laugh at the irony if that happened. In my case, it isn’t likely to occur. I’m already on the radar of capitalists attempting to invalidate my work and oppress my efforts. Why do I have these hopes? First of all, I have the same concerns as everyone else. Financial security. In my own case, also so I could stop working my regular job and spend more time researching and writing. Would it be good for my self esteem? Definitely. However, it should be noted that my writing focuses on things far beyond personal accumulation or ego and that is not going to change. Yet because of the nature of my writing, it is unlikely to be published or accepted by corporate interests unless I already have gained enough of a following that I pose a profit to the capitalists. That is where the irony I mentioned comes in. Until that point, my ideas pose a threat which is easily suppressed. The subjects I and other Progressives cover are a threat to them and the capitalist system.

The history of capitalism in this country is littered with the oppression of ideas which posed a threat to the powerful and wealthy. Look at the history of Nikola Tesla versus Edison. Wind and solar energy development. Fuel efficient vehicles. Watch the documentary, “Who Killed The Electric Car?”

In many cities across the US, there were once electric streetcars. Over time, those were removed and replaced with gas and diesel burning buses. Yet electric streetcars and subways are still popular in Europe. They are efficient and less polluting than our buses. Why were they eliminated here? Why do we not have them now in more cities? Why are we the only industrialized nation to not have high speed rail systems? It’s because these things are suppressed by certain corporate interests. Car companies, oil companies, airlines. All of whom stand to lose large sums of money by the use of efficient public transportation. The lack of efficient public transportation also helps maintain the separation between affluent and poverty-stricken areas in place. When the poor have to spend huge portions of their lives or large sums of money simply getting from one place to another, they have no energy or time remaining to engage in public activism or even self improvement by anything more than basic educational needs. Which the corporations own, manipulate and use for indoctrination.

There have been legends of various inventions which have been suppressed over decades. Like a carburetor that allowed vehicles to be far more fuel efficient. That one is slightly dubious but an example. We can have no doubt that inventions which stand to limit the profits of certain corporations or industries have been suppressed, even to the point of murder. Look at the actions of our military contractors and the oil industry. They are willing to kill millions in other countries for profits. With the blessing and assistance of the highest members of our government. The same holds true for drug companies. How many medications have been approved and later removed from the market because of the harm they caused, including lives lost? If corporate and government entities are willing to do or allow things like that, why would you believe they would have qualms with taking one or a few American lives to maintain that much money and power?

How many aspiring inventors and innovators have been suppressed just by the system we have in place? Just by virtue of having to work full time jobs, pay so much for insurance, mortgage, student loans and transportation that they have too little left to invest in developing ideas and projects? How many young people who could be great innovative minds are held back by the cost of adult education and/or helping pay for medications for their parents or even their own medications? Then ask why so many young people are on antidepressants. Meaning more hours worked and more money spent for that medication.

There is no way I am suggesting that any system is without flaw. No socioeconomic system will allow every member of a society to have everything they need or want all the time. This is really a discussion of implementing a system which provides basic needs for all members of a society and interconnected systems which are most beneficial to the members of our society, creating a more level playing field.

There is nothing level in a playing field in which the rights to innovations along with the profits from those innovations consistently belong to those at the top. Where those who invent are merely subjects to the owners of capital, forced to sign away the rights to their creations and discoveries or incur crushing debt and be destroyed by lawsuits brought by oligarchs. That is not a system that creates opportunity or drives innovation.

Capitalists Be Warned

I keep having responses from capitalists trying to attack my writing and concepts. Several have PhD’s in economics. I guess I should take it as a compliment that I am having such an effect.

It would be more than arrogant to say they are envious that I am a top economics writer here on Medium. Yes, they have more education on the subject. However, if they continue promoting the status quo as they are wont to do, I do not consider it education. I consider it nothing but indoctrination.

While I am assertive in my views, in general I try to be polite in my writing and responses. On the other hand, if people actively and purposefully promote views that are harmful by intent or willful ignorance and defend that position I will become far more forceful. Neither I nor our society have any use for people that place profit over people.

These people are brave in their attacks on me, sitting behind their keyboards, still grasping their belief that the economic crash that is coming will not affect them. They are blind to the rising calls for literal revolution. Just because I am not part of that call for taking to the streets does not mean I am complacent or passive. I will not stand down when confronted by aggressive, sometimes racist. capitalists.

I find it more egregious when they claim knowledge of economic systems when they only grasp one economic system and have never even examined other economic systems other than to attempt to discredit systems which are currently outperforming our own system to an extreme degree. It demonstrates clearly that they have no understanding of economics, they only understand capitalism.

In the end, I know the truth. That they do have at least some understanding of other systems. These are the priests.

If I have not explained my view on capitalism, it is that capitalism is a religion. Money is God, bankers and CEO’s are priests, believers are sycophants. Nonbelievers are heretics who must be sacrificed to their God. Money literally does not exist. It holds value only because we agree it has value. It is numbers on paper, digital impulses. If we all agreed today that money has no value, tomorrow there would be no more wars for profit. Yet capitalists are more than willing, sometimes they are even eager to allow or directly cause suffering, destruction and death for their belief system. Some will claim to be Atheists but that’s simply not true. Money is their religion.

Capitalists genuinely subscribe to a belief system in which they, themselves have no value. Only what they possess has value. Take away their possessions and they are worth nothing at all. Because of their ethics, they hold no value to society. If they have no money, they have no value to the capitalist system because they present no profit. They can incur debt, which is of value to the system but that is still no indication of their personal value.

Don’t ask yourself, “What’s in your wallet?” Ask yourself, “What value am I to anyone without my wallet?” Be honest with the answer. If you cannot name anything, it’s time to change your world and personal views.

I will challenge capitalists to name something they have done in their lives for the benefit of others with no profit motive. Almost consistently they will claim that they have donated money to charity.

Without capitalism, the recipients of that charity would not need the donations.

Do they donate so much money that they will be forced to skip a single meal? Not take a vacation? Cancel their cable bill? Place an extra charge on their credit card? No. They donate enough to use as a tax write-off. Maybe they do it to feel better about themselves but more often it is self-promotion. They’re very fast to bring it up.

So I have no tolerance for these attacks. I’ve said before I have no problem blocking people who have no ethics. I have better things to do with my time and my brain cells. Yes, I have an agenda. My agenda is helping to promote a system which benefits all. A system that fairly distributes resources to all and recognizes the value of human and animal existence. That houses the homeless, treats the ill, feeds the hungry, educates children and adults, conserves and heals the environment. If that is not your goal as well, I have no use for you. If your mind is closed to these goals, I have no use for you. Just go away now and save me the effort of blocking you.

If you are a capitalist, I don’t need you. Does anyone?

Defining Socialism

Many people in this country claim they are afraid of Socialism. I call BS.

The irony of their claim is just how many have benefited and/or currently benefit from Socialist programs which have been in place in this country their entire lives or close to it.

Let me give you a root words and definitions.

The root word of Communism is community/communal. Defined, it indicates a system in which all property and wealth belong to the community and (ideally) is shared equally. While on the macro scale this has been problematic, it is possible. On smaller scales, it has worked and continues to work in small communities across the planet. It can be found in tribal communities removed from capitalist influence, from Tibet to Russia to Greece to South America. Some refer to Marxism as Marxist Socialism but I personally prefer to use separate names for each to avoid confusion.

The root word of Socialism is social/society. This denotes a system in which resources are used to benefit the society and it’s members. Individuals can own private property, make profits, etc. This system typically utilizes higher tax rates which are then used to benefit the citizens in that system, such as providing access to healthcare and education along with strong social support programs. Such Social Democratic systems exist and are called such in numerous countries to varying extents, including Germany, France, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, England, Canada and more. Countries with the highest quality of life and longest lifespans.

The root word of Capitalism is capital, meaning money or profit. This is a system where all resources are directed toward money and profit, especially weighted toward those at the top of the financial chain. In a true capitalist society, everything is for sale, including public offices and justice. Only the rich have rights as they purchase those rights. Vertical mobility in such a system is virtually impossible, as when you gain upward mobility, you become a threat to those already at the top and they can afford to stop your ascent by any means.

The true fact is that from true Communism to true Capitalism, no current system is pure. We live somewhere on a continuum in between the extreme poles.

Now let me give you another definition. Any government program which is paid for by society for the benefit of society is, by definition, Socialist. By this definition, as mentioned above, the US has had numerous Socialist programs in place for most of the last century. These programs are what have made life livable for many millions, improved our education and quality of life compared to the 19th century and expanded the strength of our economy at one time to the strongest in the world. It has been the weakening and dismantling of those programs which have caused major disruption up to and including a declining lifespan for Americans. It was our Socialist programs which literally made the US the country that those in other countries once followed and looked up to. But no longer.

A short list of the Socialist programs which were once strong in this country include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, fire departments, public police, public roads, public libraries, public health departments, water and sewage treatment systems, child labor laws, the very existence of a minimum wage, wage protection laws, consumer protection laws, worker safety laws, overtime pay, public defenders, Miranda Rights, public elections, welfare programs, public housing…

Getting the point yet? Each and every one of these programs is Socialist in concept and primarily in execution.

To go even further, think of all the jobs these programs support directly and indirectly. Directly they support doctors, nurses, teachers, librarians, road maintenance crews, public defenders, police, firemen and more. Indirectly they support suppliers, building construction and repair, grocery store jobs, farmers, ranchers, food processors, lumber harvesting and milling, paper companies, computer technicians..

The fact is, without these programs in place, our entire economy would collapse. Can you imagine the millions of seniors on Social Security and Medicare being stripped of those benefits?

So, the next time you encounter anyone who says they oppose Socialism, I seriously encourage you to share this article with them. Challenge them to offer viable capitalist alternatives to these programs. Because those alternatives simply do not exist.

The Battle For Everything

Make no mistake, this is war.

I have even close friends tell me that I can be “too aggressive” at times. especially on social media. I agree I can be aggressive. However, saying too much so is very open to debate.

I have been a Progressive at different levels my entire life. I am 56 years old, so I grew up through Vietnam and the first Cold War. I’ve seen Watergate, Reagan, Honduras, Iran, Iran-Contra, the fall of the Berlin Wall (while I was in Germany), Desert Storm (when I was recalled to active duty), 17 years of Afghanistan, 15 years of Iraq, the assassination of Qaddafi… All along the way I have fought for human rights, against war, against prejudice, against income inequality.

The problem with the Progressive movement is that too many in this movement over the years have been too nice. At least, that is my take on it. Too many are too willing to compromise. Don’t use harsh words, listen to opposing views, take incremental steps. Look where that has gotten us.

The line has moved ever onward in a steady march to the right. More war, more bombs, more debt, more corporate control, fraudulent elections, more censorship, more blatant prejudice and on and on.

Here are just a few examples of how we have moved ever farther to the right in the last few years and why this is most definitely civil war with no civility at all coming from the enemy.

Job market. Right now retail and manufacturing in this country are collapsing. Auto companies, GE and numerous other companies are laying people off by tens of thousands. Retail and small businesses are closing by the thousands. Automation is eliminating tens of thousands of jobs annually. At each step, more jobs are lost. Lost jobs means lost consumers, so there will be fewer jobs in retail or manufacturing in the foreseeable future.

Stock market. The stock market has been propped up by false images brought about by stock repurchases for years. That had to come to an end at some point because it was unsustainable. Even as I write this, the collapse I have predicted for the past decade or more is happening.

Lack of medical care. Millions of Americans have no health insurance. Millions more cannot afford the premiums, deductibles and medications. As fewer and fewer can afford care, more hospitals and clinics close. That means fewer medical jobs available and decreasing pay for the ones that are left. As a nurse, I can state without reserve that burnout and apathy are now common in the medical field. So experienced medical professionals are retiring or just walking away in droves. So the quality of care declines. The end result is that millions suffer acute or chronic illness, too often with long term consequences including death.

Income inequality. Because of the conditions already mentioned and simply the greed of the rich, the poor in this country keep getting poorer and the rich have been getting richer. More wealth is concentrated in the hands of a decreasing number of rich people than any time in world history. Less money in circulation means entire economies, including ours, will soon collapse. This has begun. We see protests and riots globally. Of course, corporate media reports on very little of it because you’re not supposed to know. It may give you ideas they don’t want you to have. When they do report on it, they make the rising millions seem like lawless gangs and criminals.

Poverty. Poverty is widespread and increasing, bringing hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, illness, social anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, depression and rising suicide rates.

Censorship. People rage against Trump for banning one CNN reporter from the White House. He did not ban CNN, he banned one reporter. CNN could have sent another reporter. Yet the same people raging about this have nothing to say about RT being banned. The DNC attacks Trump and yet are suing Wikileaks for releasing the DNC emails. Great! I’m for it. Evidence discover will backfire spectacularly on them! Many people who claim to be in favor of freedom of the press hate Assange and think it’s good that Alex Jones was censored. It’s all okay with them as long as a corporation does it, even when corporations own 95% of the media. FB and Twitter remove Progressive pages while YouTube demonetizes Progressive outlets. Neoliberal zombies don’t care. They keep listening to Rachel Maddow think for them.

Election integrity. Do we really have to go over what happened in the 2016 Democratic primary again? I’m just mentioning it, I won’t recap yet again.

Russiagate. Make no mistake, Russiagate is a march to war. It can go nowhere else. Even though polls have proven absolutely that most Americans do not believe this to be an issue which is of primary concern to them. Yet you hear about it every day. No evidence, no viable motive for Russia ever presented.

Environment. Right now we have over 1300 Superfund sites in this country. Climate change is a reality, no matter what science deniers claim. Over 95% of scientists agree. The only ones that do not have profits to make by denying it.

Collapse of the dollar and other currencies. The value of the dollar is built on thin air and resources we do not own. Systems of payment for oil which we have nothing to do with. The world is slowly turning away from that system, signing the death note for the dollar at a time when the US has more debt than all other countries combined. Hence other countries are selling off US Treasury bonds, hastening our demise. Meanwhile real estate and other investments are falling rapidly around the world.

The fall of capitalism. The UN recently issued a report stating capitalism is unsustainable. It is built on the need for never ending expansion of production requiring the consumption of resources beyond the capacity of not only the global environment but beyond the capacity of the market itself. We are already beyond the tipping point and it is falling in on itself. There is no way forward for capitalism to continue uncontested and humans to survive without a massive population failure.

Ever-increasing warfare. Right this minute, there are more countries engaged in military conflicts than at any time since WWII. The US is spending more on “defense” than all other countries combined. Meanwhile, all sides of our government claim to be opposing one another while all sides are in a non-stop and ever-accelerating push to war with Russia, China, Iran and anyone else who does not bow down to our imperial design. Corporate media takes profits from the war machine and acts as the advertising wing of the same war machine. It would be impossible to name a war or military confrontation the US has engaged in for the past 40 years, perhaps ever, that our media opposed.

This is only a short list. Yet it is illustrative of the challenges we are up against. Incremental change and pragmatism are not viable responses any more. Trying to convince people using nice words is no longer an option. In no way do I endorse violence. There may come a time when violence is the only choice we have as a response to the conditions at hand. This is not that time. However, tolerating those who continue to defend the neoliberal Establishment characters and tactics cannot be done any more with polite language and pedagogy. It’s time to treat adults like adults. It is far beyond time to call BS for BS.

If we are not contradicting the status quo, debunking propaganda ferociously, then we have laid down our arms and surrendered. By default, we are culpable for the continuation of the same problems listed above and all that goes with them.

This is the battle for everything. We do not need to be friends with the enemy. We do not need to recruit spies for the other side. We need comrades in arms. Peaceful, mindful warriors for the cause of bringing down the real enemies. The warmongers, the unrestricted capitalist eating machine, the power mongers, the priests and sycophants of hatred and bigotry, the sexists.

Call me aggressive. Call me not a nice person. Call me an asshole. I’ll even agree with you at times. We cannot keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. That is the definition of stupidity. The one thing you cannot call me is stupid. Try it and I will absolutely call you on it openly.

Choose your side. Because neutrality is not an option.