Thank You Lady Liberty

She has been accepted as a cornerstone of the US- accepted by all. She stands for the idea of America as a land of opportunity- an opportunity that all the people of the world are welcome to partake. She charges us to welcome the world’s tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to be free. She tells us what we ought to be and gives us a bulwark against prejudice, xenophobia and selfishness. These are all strong negative streaks in the American capitalist character. Because she is accepted so unquestionably, Lady Liberty gives us a powerful tool to fight them.

Vote For The Best, Not The Electable

By voting for the lesser of two evils you just get more evil. The democratic party decided to move to the right after the devastating defeat of George McGovern. The democratic party decided to move even further to the right after the Reagan Revolution. But both Nixon and Reagan’s victories were due to an anomaly of the times. They were caused by the backlash to the culture wars of the sixties. Culture wars that are basically over now- and, interestingly, McGovern’s side has won.

It is no longer a social stigma to have sex before marriage- or to live together, women are universally perceived as equal to men, blacks have the same legal rights as whites, people can look and dress however they want, Gay marriage is legal all over the US, marijuana will soon be legal all over the US, abortion is still legal. There is still work to be done in these areas (especially economically). There are, shamefully, still pockets of disagreement with these new social paradigms- but they are now small pockets instead of a majority backed by the law of the land.

These cultural changes occurred in spite of the nation’s shift to the right politically and economically. By the time Clinton was elected the democratic party had become a right wing party when it came to economics and militarism. This was consciously and purposefully done to court big-money.

As they moved rightward they saw that they got elected so they continued to move to the right. By voting for them just because they’re better than the other party, you force them to the right. You make them the lesser of two evils instead of making them the good.

What if people voted for what they wanted instead of the lesser of two evils? Well the greater of two evils might get elected for awhile; but the lesser of two evils would shift to the left since they would see that staying on the right wasn’t getting them elected anyway. It would take awhile but eventually the democrats might become the party of the left again (or one of the parties to their left might gain enough votes to become wide-spread) as the country gets fed up with the greater of the two evils being in power.

I’d rather vote for what I believe in (true left-wing politicians) even if they can’t win. I’d rather have the slightly worse right-wing party in office for awhile to get a more left-wing party in office later on. The lesser of two evils is still evil. If you vote for the lesser of two evils- you guarantee that evil is what you always get.

Where to Find Liberty, Equality and Justice

Below are definitions of many of the types of  ways to organize a society. I have endeavored to find the simplest, most direct, most comparable definitions based on the dictionary and the first use of the terms by their originators.

Totalitarianism: Rule by a small group or single individual

Democracy: Rule by the entire group

Republic: Representative democracy (a bit of a contradiction?)

Freedom: A coercion-less and restriction-less existence

Human Rights: Universal, egalitarian, lawful standards of treatment for all human beings

Fascism: Social conservatism, marriage of government and business, militarism, nationalism and authoritarianism

(Nazism is a type of Fascism that was defined by it’s creator as what would be called “opposite socialism”: instead of the government and the economy existing to the serve all the people, all the people exist to serve the government and the economy)

Capitalism: Private ownership of things by a small group or single individual

Communism: Public ownership of things by the entire group

Socialism: A transition between ownership of everything by individuals and ownership of everything by the group

Social Democracy: Socialism achieved through democratic processes (in Europe this term is used to refer to ‘Welfare Capitalism’, which is simply a system where the negative aspects of capitalism are balanced out by a social safety net)

Communalism: Local decision-making & autonomy within a federation

*Any and all specifics beyond these definitions are types of democracy, republicanism, socialism, fascism etc.

Give me: Human Rights-based, Communal Social Democracy. This would be a balance of public and private ownership. It would be completely democratic and protect the rights of all individuals including the minority.

The Political Spectrum

I don’t think you can necessarily say right-wing people “are” or left-wing people “are” because individuals vary so much. Maybe what we can talk about is what left-wing and right-wing beliefs and values are. Let’s just take one topic- government.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that right-wingers believe in small government- period.

Now, the left-wing view favors neither big government nor small government. The left-wing belief is in GOOD government. It should be whatever it needs to be in order to serve the people (democracy) and the common good (society) and not the profit motive.

A small government that can’t protect the rights of it’s people is bad. A big government that violates the rights of it’s people is bad. A small government that is top-down with little say from the people is bad. A big government that views its people as resources to be exploited for profit and controlled for power is bad. A big government that has many levels where people get to make their own decisions is good.

Any government that does not represent the people is bad because that is the purpose of government. Any government that is not controlled by the people is not a democracy. Unfortunately, the US has never had a government controlled by all the people. We’ve always had a government controlled by the rich. Today most governments across the globe don’t represent the people so much as they represent multi-national corporations and banks.

You’re brave, you sacrifice but I’m sorry, your not helping.

I’m sorry. While veterans are certainly brave, it makes no sense for any of us to thank them for our freedoms. There is not, nor has there been, a foreign militia threatening our freedoms here in America. What minor statistical danger we may face from foreign terrorism is in fact created by our military interventions, and over 700 military bases, around the globe.

The US is protected from attacks, by all but the most powerful nations, by two vast oceans on either coast. We have friendly neighboring nations to the north and south who have never had any interest in taking away our freedoms. There are many nations across the globe that have freedoms comparable to ours, and they have negligible armed forces.

Perhaps a former slave could thank a civil war veteran (although many blacks and abolitionists had just as much to do with emancipation). Maybe a European could thank a US WWII veteran (although Russia played the biggest part in defeating the Nazis). Maybe a Chinese could thank a WWII veteran of the Pacific theatre.

All other military ventures in American history- certainly all military actions since the end of WW II, had absolutely nothing to do with protecting our freedoms. North Korea was not threatening our shores. Nor was Vietnam. As far as our extinct cold war rival, our soldiers didn’t fight the USSR. More recently, the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan had done nothing to our country. Certainly no terrorists have ever had enough power to take away our freedoms. Besides, terrorism has not been, and cannot be, defeated through military action.

Our freedoms exist, to the extent they do, because of the rights encoded in the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments to the constitution. Freedom isn’t free; but it doesn’t require killing foreigners. Our freedoms exist because average people, not soldiers, spoke up for those rights, exercised those rights and held any entity who wanted to take away those rights accountable. You could even thank certain lawyers, judges, policemen or politicians on occasion. But to whatever extent we have freedoms in this country; it has nothing to do with our military.

There is no reason for us to have a large standing military. Until 1946, it was always America’s tradition to avoid a large standing army. Many of the Founding Fathers warned against this. When we fought World War II it took only a short time to fill the ranks of a very large military force- from less than a quarter million to almost 14 million. It also took us a very short time to convert our industries to arms manufacturing.

We only have a large standing military now to feed the military-industrial complex. We are dependent on the arms industry to help keep our economy afloat. So this worship of the military is a marketing ploy to manipulate people.

Are there individuals and small groups who would threaten my safety or my life? Sure, lots of them live in the inner cities of our own country. Should the army blow them up and shoot them? No sane American would propose that.

Are there individuals and small groups who would threaten my safety or my life in other countries. Sure, lots of them live in the inner cities of those countries and many of those countries are so poor almost everywhere is the inner city. Should the army blow them up and shoot them? Since it’s our military and economic interference in their countries that make them hate us in the first place- I would have to say no. So even though the army might be safe-guarding my freedom IF I lived on the military bases in that country, they are actually creating the dangers I face when I leave that base.

As far as the army keeping anyone from attacking my freedoms here in the US, it’s pretty obvious that nothing they are doing overseas is protecting my freedoms or making me more free. In fact, it is just creating a world more hostile to a US that sticks it’s nose in where we don’t belong- not to protect any people but to make the world safe for international business and finance to exploit these countries. Of course, international business and finance are exploiting our country to- just not at the point of a gun.

So the military doesn’t protect our freedom, it only contributes to problems that can’t be solved militarily.

It’s the Tree That’s Rotten

Humanity has been a successful species because we adapt to changes in our environment. This means we were easily influenced by our environment. We still are, but our current environment is influencing us to embrace selfishness, ignorance, cruelty and greed. This is not helping us to survive as a species.

The greatest influence affecting the entire globe, rich and poor, big country and small country, black, white, yellow, brown and red- is multinational corporations who are not beholden to any one nation.

But there is a group that influences them- the global financial system. As you know, a parasite will eventually kill it’s host, often by taking over the host’s own systems. The banking/wall street parasite has taken over humanity’s economic system and is using it to destroy us.

This corporate octopus with the banker’s head influences almost all the information people get, influences almost all our politicians and it influences the armed forces. It has warped our values and the way we view and understand the world. It has destroyed democracy around the globe. It has controlled the terms of the debate. It is ruining the natural environment on which we depend.

This multi-national financial/corporate welfare system must be changed. It is not about a few rotten apples. It is a rotten system.

During the Great Depression the system was reformed and made less harmful through regulation and government intervention. But this allowed the system to remain in place and eventually bankers and corporations were able to take complete control of the government and use it now to intervene, not on behalf of democracy but on behalf of the interests of the bankers and their stockholders.

They’ve removed all restraints on business and finance. They’ve increased the restraints on people & their freedoms. They’ve put a price on everything including the natural world.

During the 1960s and early 1970s many people tried to apply the principles of justice, freedom, democracy and equality (and the reforms of the Great Depression) to people of all colors, creeds, classes and nations. The most influential were jailed, killed, or made victims of viscous smear campaigns and blackmail from the financial/business system’s minions in the intelligence community, military and media.

In response to this tumultuous time the bankers and the multinationals used their great influence to insure that such attacks on their interests would not happen again. They used the age-old tactic of getting the average people to fight against each other so they wouldn’t see what was really causing their sorrow- the system. This system benefits the banks and the multi-nationals, not the people.

It has created a gigantic military-industrial complex in a country that has no military rival. A country that does not have a single threat that can be solved with military solutions. It has created a militarized nation in a country that, for it’s first 160 years, was against standing armies.

This too is economic. Making tons of weapons keeps the economy chugging along. But it’s created a nation of fearful, cruel people who worship the military we employ to kill for a living. It’s created a nation of good, obedient little soldiers who do what they’re told and don’t question their orders. People who worship, not freedom and justice, but obedience & violence.

The only way to change these attitudes is to change the environment that fosters them. To do that the system must be changed- peacefully. To attempt to do so any other way would not only be a complete failure, it would be morally wrong.

The only antidote to financial/corporate power is numbers. Numbers of people. We need to put the people in charge of the government. We need democracy in the workplace. We need to put the people in charge of their economic fate. We’ve always had a plutocracy, we need to create a democracy. Right now we have a semi-fascist corporatocracy.

If we change the system in the U.S. it will change around the world. By helping ourselves we can help our brothers and sisters around the globe. Brothers and sisters that have faced destruction at the hands of the bankers, corporations and their puppets in the military and intelligence agencies. By helping ourselves we can stop the destruction of what we humans must have in order to survive- our values, our community and our natural environment.

Minimum Wage

The economic inequality in American society does not reflect fairness and equilibrium. It reflects power and disequilibrium. The same is true in the argument over the minimum wage.

In spite of current economic mythology, historical data prove that raising wages does not cause unemployment (the facts also bear out the truth that any connection between unemployment and inflation is indirect). Any business that has demand for their product is going to have to employ enough workers to make that amount of product, regardless of the wages.

Wages do not reflect a workers contribution to production. Wages reflect what the owners (who take in all the money the company makes then give some back to the workers) are willing to share with their workers. In the absence of unions, owners have all the bargaining power. That’s dictatorship not democracy. It’s remarkable that a country that professes to believe in democracy   worships totalitarianism in the workplace.

Since the range of possible wages is set by the wider labor market in the business sector, and not the owners, it behooves the government to set a wage floor that is democratic. Raising the legal minimum wage won’t necessarily cut into profits. This is because raising wages puts more money into consumer’s hands.

People who aren’t rich don’t horde their money. They don’t have enough. They need it to buy food, gas, the basic necessities of life and some items that entertain and make life a little easier to deal with. If you increase their wages they will buy more stuff. This means more products bought and an increase in profits that can be used to off-set the increase in wages.

Increasing the money in the hands of the mega-rich doesn’t affect profits because they aren’t going to spend that extra money on goods and services. They already have enough spending money for everything they want. If average folks aren’t spending then capital is afraid to spend on creating new businesses and factories. This is the historical lesson of all recessions and depressions. In today’s world of unregulated financial markets the mega-rich will use extra money to play in the stock market. So extra money at the top, when folks in the middle and bottom are suffering, doesn’t help the economy. It does not “trickle down”.

Also, if average workers have more money they don’t need to borrow as much. So their increased income now goes to buy more products and services as opposed to bank fees and interest. Not so good for the loan and credit card companies, but much better for the businesses the worker’s frequent and much better for the economy.

If an increase in minimum wage causes your business competitors to raise their prices, but you leave yours low, your profits can increase. It works for Wal-Mart. Your profit per item decreases but the number of items you sell will increase because people will always buy the cheaper product (especially if it is of the same, or better, quality). So the increased sales will keep your profit the same as it was (before your competitors raised their prices) and it might even increase it. You will also have happier workers because they are being paid more.

The conventional economic notion of a perfectly competitive labor market is absurd.  Labor does not behave, and can not be treated, as just another commodity subject to the supply and demand curve. Are employees the same as a product that is sold? Are people the same as corn or wheat or beef or timber or tin? Do people behave like commodities?

Conventional economic theory holds that: when wages are too high then there will be too many people looking for work; whereas if wages are low then some people will decide not to work because it isn’t worth it. This makes little sense in the real world. Most people in low-end jobs don’t’ have the option not to work. If they don’t work their families don’t eat. So most people are going to work no matter what minimum wage is.

Of course, some go on unemployment or welfare. If really you want to reduce the number of people “living off the system” then you should support raising the minimum wage to increase the incentive to work. If minimum wage is so low that the unemployed won’t work then a higher minimum wage floor could stop spiraling unemployment and get people off unemployment checks and welfare.There is no single, possible, consistent, descriptive labor-supply curve. There is no statistical evidence that raising the minimum wage effects unemployment. Data shows that individual workers are just as likely to work fewer hours as to work more when wages increase.

Raising wages can reduce over-production. It also cuts into the profit margin. Over-production contributes to recessions and the profit margins of many businesses are way too high anyways. Price = Cost of Production (including wages) + Profit. If demand stays high and the amount of production can’t be scaled back then cost of production/wages will go up. But prices can stay the same if profits are reduced. In larger businesses, profits can and should be reduced in the area of executive compensation and shareholder profits. Is it such a disaster to make a little less profit so people can have better lives?

The belief that raising minimum wage causes inflation is based on the belief that raising it also causes unemployment. The belief that unemployment effects inflation is based on an erroneous interpretation of the Phillips’ curve. Phillips’ research into the rate of change in prices due to unemployment clearly shows that it takes quite awhile for prices to change relative to unemployment. The stagflation of the 1970s proved that this correlation doesn’t always exist.

Other workers won’t settle for minimum wage jobs when higher wages are available elsewhere. So a higher minimum wage would also entice more and better workers to take minimum wage jobs thus increasing the productivity of businesses. Unless you like it when terrible employees serve you at the store or the restaurant.

If minimum wage increases most full time workers won’t take hours away from possible new hires by working more. There’s only so many hours in a day and they still have to eat, sleep, take care of their kids and spend time with their families. Some people have hobbies and interests outside work. Most sane individuals will choose to have some free time and not give it all up to work more.

Regardless, moderate inflation doesn’t need to be a big problem for the working man. It’s their creditors who have reason to be against inflation. If the dollar decreases then the dollars paid for interest fees are worth less. This is good for the working person who essentially pays less in interest as inflation rises.

The mega-rich also don’t like inflation. This is because they don’t work for a living. They let their money do the work for them, often by investing in financial instruments. But if the return on their stocks is a little less it’s not going to cause them undue economic hardship.

Interest earned through financial instruments becomes worth less as prices rise and the amount a dollar will buy becomes less. The rich might then look at the fact their interest earned is less and instead invest in businesses and factories which will multiply their dollars through profits from inflation-increased prices.

Employers could cut products/services which would decrease staff, but if demand for their products and services exists they’d be fools to cut those products/services. If there isn’t the demand then they shouldn’t be over-producing products/services anyways. If they are doing things sensibly then they are not wasting extra staff hours inefficiently. Regardless of wages, it takes x number of staff hours to create x number of products/services. If wages go up- it still takes x number of staff hours to create x number of products/services.

This is the way the free market is supposed to work. If a business isn’t run efficiently they should be out of business. If a business’s profit margin isn’t enough to cover a living wage for their workers then they shouldn’t be in business.

An owner could keep payroll at the level it was before minimum wage was raised if they cut staff hours (as opposed to cutting staff) to make up for the increase in the hourly wage. Workers would make the same paycheck they made before the wage hike but at fewer hours worked. This could force more inefficient businesses to increase productivity per hour. It doesn’t cut into a business’s profit margin or force them to raise prices. This would free up more hours for employees to take care of their families or find second jobs. If demand for the business’s product doesn’t change then they might end up hiring more workers.

If the minimum wage stays low and businesses could hire two workers instead of one for the same amount of money, that doesn’t mean they would. As mentioned before, it still takes x number of workers to make x amount of product/services and wage rates can’t change that. Most businesses, if they are well run, will have the number of staff they need to do the job- no more and no less.

How many small business owners have valuable, productive employees at the current minimum wage? The small businesses that take good care of their employees are probably paying them above the current minimum wage anyway.

Granted some small businesses may not have enough profit margin to transfer into higher wages. But small businesses that employe a lot of minimum wage labor (like a pizza shop for example) get a substantial amount of business from minimum wage earners. These individuals would have more money to spend at that business if the minimum wage was increased. So their profits would increase and make up for the added labor costs from the increased minimum wage.