ISIS is Israeli Secret Intelligence Service

Monday, April 30, 2012

Unexceptionalism: A Primer

Unexceptionalism: A Primer

By E. L. Doctorow
New York Times
April 30, 2012

TO achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would
render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished,
traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the
world, do the following:


If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, ignore the first sacrament
of a democracy and suspend the counting of ballots in a presidential

Appoint the candidate of your choice as president.

If you’re the newly anointed president, react to a terrorist
attack by invading a nonterrorist country.

Despite the loss or disablement of untold numbers of lives,
manage your war so that its results will be indeterminate.

Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance
of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail,
make business, medical and public library records available to
government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of
homes and offices.

Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation
of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the
infliction of cruel and unusual punishment.

Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as
the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of

Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those
you decide are enemies.

For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will
eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens.

Suspend progressive taxation so that the wealthiest pay
less proportionately than the middle class.

See to it that the wealth of the country accumulates to a small
fraction of the population so that the gap between rich and poor
widens exponentially.

By cutting taxes and raising wartime expenditures, deplete
the national treasury so that Congress and state and municipal
legislatures cut back on domestic services, ensuring that
there will be less money for the education of the young, for
government health programs, for the care of veterans, for the
maintenance of roads and bridges, for free public libraries,
and so forth.

Deregulate the banking industry so as to create a severe recession
in which enormous numbers of people lose their homes and jobs.

Before you leave office add to the Supreme Court justices like the
ones who awarded you the presidency.


If you’re one of the conservative majority of a refurbished Supreme
Court, rule that corporations, no less than human beings, have the
right under the First Amendment to express their political point of

To come to this judgment, do not acknowledge that corporations
lack the range of feelings or values that define what it is to be

That humans can act against their own interest, whereas
corporations cannot act otherwise than in their own interest.

That the corporation’s only purpose is to produce wealth,
regardless of social consequences.

This decision of the court will ensure tremendous infusions of
corporate money into the political process and lead to the election
in national and state legislatures of majorities of de facto corporate


Given corporate control of legislative bodies, enact laws to
the benefit of corporate interests.

For example, those laws sponsored by weapons manufacturers
wherein people may carry concealed weapons and shoot and
kill anyone by whom they feel threatened.

Give the running of state prisons over to private corporations
whose profits increase with the increase in inmate populations.

See to it that a majority of prisoners are African-American.

When possible, treat immigrants as criminals.

Deplete and underfinance a viable system of free public schools
and give the education of children over to private for-profit

Make college education unaffordable.

Inject religious precepts into public policy so as to control
women’s bodies.

Enact laws prohibiting collective bargaining. Portray trade
unions as un-American.

Enact laws restricting the voting rights of possibly unruly

Propagandize against scientific facts that would affect
corporate profits.

Portray global warming as a conspiracy of scientists.

Having subverted the Constitution and enervated the nation with
these measures, portray the federal government as unwieldy,
bumbling and shot through with elitist liberals.

Create mental states of maladaptive populism among the citizenry
to support this view.


If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, decide that the police
of any and all cities and towns and villages have the absolute
authority to strip-search any person whom they, for whatever
reason, put under arrest.

With this ruling, the reduction of America to unexceptionalism is

E. L. Doctorow is the author, most recently of the novel “Homer
and Langley.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Patriot or Profiteer

You can be a Patriot or a Profiteer...But you can’t be Both

By Robert Greenwald
April 28, 2012

This week, the three military contractors that do the most
business with the Pentagon announced their quarterly profits
for 2012.

Their profits continue to grow while they push Washington,
D.C. to protect their budgets at the expense of the rest of us.

Here’s the breakdown so far for this year:

Lockheed Martin: $668 million

Northrop Grumman: $506 million

Boeing: $923 million

This week’s announcement raises a fundamental question: Should
people and companies be allowed to make huge profits from war?

Even raising this question in today’s environment may seem trite,
but we used to have different answers than those that prevail in
modern-day Washington, D.C.

“I don’t want to see a single war millionaire created in the
United States as a result of this world disaster.” President
Franklin D. Roosevelt, May 22, 1940.

“Worse than traitors in arms are the men who pretend loyalty to
the flag, feast and fatten on the misfortunes of the Nation while
patriotic blood is crimsoning the plains of the South and their
countrymen mouldering the dust.” –President Abraham Lincoln.

This last quote is particularly relevant to this week’s profit

Lincoln referred to war profiteers making money by cheating
the Union Army. Outrage at war profiteering during this period
led to the passage of “Lincoln’s Law,” officially known as the
False Claims Act.

The False Claims Act is the very same law that two of the
companies listed above, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, violated
through price-fixing and double-billing the taxpayer, leading
to their having to pay roughly $20 million in the first quarter
of 2012 to settle suits brought by the U.S. government.

During Roosevelt’s time, the idea of a single contractor company
making almost a billion dollars worth of profit in three months
would have received short shrift.

As Roosevelt’s quote above shows, the idea of people profiting
from war’s “disaster” disgusted him, and during his presidency
the Truman Committee relentlessly investigated and exposed
war profiteers.

The closest analogy in our time would be the Committee on
Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which found
that up to $60 billion (as of September 2011) was lost to
waste and fraud in military contracting in those conflicts.

And yet, despite this historical lack of patience for war
profiteering, and despite the current record showing gross
misconduct and waste, the U.S. government keeps shoveling
taxpayer money at these huge corporations.

Could it be that the $5 million in campaign donations and
$32 million in lobbying dollars so far this election cycle from
the military contractors keep Congress intentionally ignorant
of the problem?

President George Washington knew a few things about war
profiteers, and he didn’t mince words:

“There is such a thirst for gain [among military suppliers]…that it
is enough to make one curse their own Species, for possessing so
little virtue and patriotism.”

As long as we continue to allow the profit motive to play a role in
America’s war, virtue and patriotism–to say nothing of peace–will
continue to be in short supply.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How Liberty Was Lost

How Liberty Was Lost

By Paul Craig Roberts
Information Clearing House
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When did things begin going wrong in America? “From the
beginning,” answer some.

English colonists, themselves under the thumb of a king,
exterminated American Indians and stole their lands, as
did late 18th and 19th century Americans.

Over the course of three centuries the native inhabitants of
America were dispossessed, just as Israelis have been driving
Palestinians off their lands since 1948.

Demonization always plays a role. The Indians were savages
and the Palestinians are terrorists.

Any country that can control the explanation can get away
with evil.

I agree that there is a lot of evil in every country and civilization.
In the struggle between good and evil, religion has at times been
on the side of evil.

However, the notion of moral progress cannot so easily be thrown
out. Consider, for example, slavery.

In the 1800s, slavery still existed in countries that proclaimed
equal rights. Even free women did not have equal rights.

Today no Western country would openly tolerate the ownership of
humans or the transfer of a woman’s property upon her marriage
to her husband.

It is true that Western governments have ownership rights in the
labor of their citizens through the income tax. This remains as a
mitigated form of serfdom. So far, however, no government has
claimed the right of ownership over the person himself.

Sometimes I hear from readers that my efforts are pointless, that
elites are always dominant and that the only solution is to find
one’s way into the small, connected clique of elites either through
marriage or service to their interests.

This might sound like cynical advice, but it is not devoid of some
truth. Indeed, it is the way Washington and New York work, and
increasingly the way the entire country operates.

Washington serves powerful private interests, not the public

University faculties in their research increasingly serve private
interests and decreasingly serve truth. In the US the media is
no longer a voice and protection for the people.

It is becoming increasingly impossible in America to get a good
job without being connected to the system that serves the elites.

The problem I have with this “give up” attitude is that over
the course of my life, and more broadly over the course of the
20th century, many positive changes occurred through reforms.

It is impossible to have reforms without good will, so even
the elites who accepted reforms that limited their powers
were part of the moral progress.

Labor unions became a countervailing power to corporate
management and Wall Street. Working conditions were
reformed. Civil rights were extended. People excluded
by the system were brought into it. Anyone who grew up
in the 20th century can add his own examples.

Progress was slow–unduly so from a reformer’s standpoint–and
mistakes were made. Nevertheless, whether done properly or
improperly there was a commitment to the expansion of civil

This commitment ended suddenly on September 11, 2001.

In eleven years the Bush/Obama Regime repealed 800 years of
human achievements that established law as a shield of the people
and, instead, converted law into a weapon in the hands of the

Today Americans and citizens of other countries can, on the
will of the US executive branch alone, be confined to torture
dungeons for the duration of their lives with no due process
or evidence presented to any court, or they can be shot down
in the streets or exterminated by drone missiles.

The power that the US government asserts over its subjects
and also over the citizens of other countries is unlimited.

Lenin described unlimited power as power “resting directly
on force, not limited by anything, not restricted by any laws,
nor any absolute rules.”

Washington claims that it is the indispensable government
representing the exceptional people and thereby has the
right to impose its will and “justice” on the rest of the
world and that resistance to Washington constitutes
terrorism to be exterminated by any possible means.

Thus, the American neoconservatives speak of nuking
Iran for insisting on its independence from American
hegemony and exercising its rights to nuclear energy
under the non-proliferation treaty to which Iran is a

In other words, Washington’s will prevails over international
treaties that have the force of law, treaties which Washington
itself imposed on the world.

According to the neoconservatives and Washington, Iran
is not protected by the legal contract that Iran made with
Washington when Iran signed the non-proliferation treaty.

Iran finds itself as just another 17th or 18th century American
Indian tribe to be deprived of its rights and to be exterminated
by the forces of evil that dominate Washington, D.C.

The vast majority of “superpower” americans plugged into the
Matrix, where they are happy with the disinformation pumped
into their brains by Washington and its presstitute media, would
demur rather than face my facts.

This raises the question: how does one become unplugged and
unplug others from the Matrix? Readers have asked, and I do not
have a complete answer. It seems to happen in a number of ways.

Being fired and forced to train your H-1B foreign replacement who
works for lower pay, being convicted of a crime that you did not
commit, having your children stolen from you by Child Protective
Services because bruises from sports activities were alleged to be
signs of child abuse, your home stolen from you because a mortgage
based on fraud was given the force of law, laid off by “free market
capitalism” as your age advanced and the premium of your
employer-provided medical insurance increased, being harassed by
Homeland Security on your re-entry to the US because you are a
non-embedded journalist who reports truthfully on US behavior

There are many instances of Americans being jolted into reality
by the “freedom and democracy” scales falling away from their

It is possible that becoming unplugged from the Matrix is a gradual
lifelong experience for the few who pay attention. The longer they
live, the more they notice that reality contradicts the government’s
and media’s explanations.

The few who can remember important stuff after watching reality
shows and their favorite sports teams and fantasy movies gradually
realize that there is no “new economy” to take the place of the
manufacturing economy that was given away to foreign countries.

Once unemployed from their “dirty fingernail jobs,” they
learn that there is no “new economy” to employ them.

Still seething from the loss of the Vietnam War and anger at
war protesters, some flag-waving patriots are slowly realizing
the consequences of criminalizing dissent and the exercise of
First Amendment rights.

“You are with us or against us” is taking on threatening instead of reassuring connotations, implying that anyone who opens his or her mouth in any dissent is thereby transformed into an “enemy of the state.”

More Americans, but far from enough, are coming to the realization
that the extermination of the Branch Davidians at Waco in 1993 was
a test run to confirm that the public and Congress would accept the
murder of civilians who had been demonized with false charges of
child abuse and gun-running.

The next test was the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. Whose
explanation would prevail: the government’s or that of experts?

Air Force General Partin, a top expert on explosives, proved
conclusively in a heavily documented report given to every member
of Congress that the Murruh Federal Office Building blew up from
the inside out, not from the outside in from the fertilizer car bomb.

But General Partin’s facts lost out to the government’s propaganda
and to Congress’ avoidance of cognitive dissonance.

Once the “national security” government learned that its
pronouncements and those of the presstitute media carried more
weight than the facts presented by experts, conspiracies such as
Operation Northwoods could be put into play.

A 9/11 became possible.

The Pentagon, CIA, and military/security complex were desperate
for a new enemy to replace the “Soviet threat,” which had ceased
to exist.

The military/security complex and its servants in Congress were
determined to replace the profits made from the cold war and to
preserve and increase the powers accumulated in the Pentagon
and CIA.

The only possible replacement for the Soviet threat was “Muslim

Thus, the creation of the “al Qaeda threat” and the conflation of
this new threat with secular Arab governments, such as Iraq’s and
Syria’s, which were the real targets of Islamists.

Despite the evidence provided by experts that secular Arab
governments, such as Saddam Hussein’s, were allies against Islamic
extremism, the US government used propaganda to link the secular
Iraq government with Iraq’s enemies among Islamic revolutionaries.

Once Washington confirmed that the American public was both
too ignorant and too inattentive to pay any attention to events
that would alter their lives and jeopardize their existence,
every thing else followed:

The PATRIOT Act, the suspension of the Constitution and
destruction of civil liberty, Homeland Security which has
quickly extended its gestapo reach from airports to train
stations, bus terminals and highway road blocks, the
criminalization of dissent, the equating of critics of the
government with supporters of terrorism, the home invasions
of antiwar protesters and their arraignment before a grand
jury, the prosecution of whistleblowers who reveal government
crimes, the equating of journalism organizations such as
WikiLeaks with spies.

The list goes on.

The collapse of truth in the US and in its puppet states is a major
challenge to my view that truth and good will are powers that can
prevail over evil.

It is possible that my perception that moral progress has occurred
in various periods of Western civilization reflects a progressive
unplugging from the Matrix.

What I remember as reforms might be events experienced through
the rose colored glasses of the Matrix.

But I think not. Reason is an important part of human existence.
Some are capable of it. Imagination and creativity can escape
chains. Good can withstand evil.

The extraordinary film, The Matrix, affirmed that people could
be unplugged. I believe that even americans can be unplugged.

If I give up this belief, I will cease writing.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for
Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal.
He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service,
and Creators Syndicate.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The liberal betrayal of Bradley Manning

Why have liberals not rallied to the WikiLeaks source's defense?

By Charles Davis
April 23, 2012

More than three years into the presidency of Barack Obama,
it’s almost a cliché now to ask: What if George W. Bush did it?

From dramatically escalating the war in Afghanistan to
institutionalizing the practice of indefinite imprisonment,
Obama has dashed hopes he would offer a change from
the Bush’s national security policies – but he hasn’t faced
a whole lot of resistance from liberals who once decried
those policies as an affront to American values.

Like those on the right who now crow about fascism but spent
the Bush years gleefully declaring left-wing celebrities “enemies
of the state,” many of those on the liberal-left treat issues of
war and civil liberties as useful merely for partisan purposes.

When a Democrat’s in power those issues become inconvenient.
And usually ignored.

Former dean of the Yale Law School Harold Koh, for instance, used
to rail against the imperial presidency, speaking of the horror of
torture and “indefinite detention without trial.”

Now a legal adviser for the Obama State Department, he recently
declared that “justice” can be delivered with or with out a trial.

Indeed, “Drones also deliver.”

Don’t expect much more than a yawn from Democratic pundits,
though, much less any calls for impeachment.

It’s an election year, after all. And what, would you rather Mitt
Romney be the guy drone-striking Pakistani tribesmen?

“Obama and the Democrats being in power in Washington defangs a
lot of liberal criticism,” Chase Madar, a civil rights attorney in New
York, told me in an interview.

Indeed, but with a few exceptions – Michael Moore, Dennis
Kucinich, The Nation – those who would be inclined to defend
Manning were Bush still in office are the ones either
condemning him or condoning his treatment, which has included
spending the better part of a year in torturous solitary
confinement, an all too common feature of American prisons.

Even his progressive defenders, remaining loyal to the Democratic
Party, tend to downplay Obama’s role in the Bradley Manning
affair; his authorizing the abuse of an American hero is certainly
no means not to vote for him again.

“The whole civil libertarian message only really seems to catch fire
among liberals when there’s a Republican in the White House,” says

When there’s not a bumbling Texan to inveigh against, all the
sudden issues that were morally black and white become complex,
and liberal media starts finding nuance where there wasn’t any

That much is clear in the case of Manning, the young soldier
accused of leaking State Department cables and evidence of
war atrocities to WikiLeaks.

Under different conditions, he might be a liberal hero.

After all, much – though certainly not all – of what he exposed,
from the killing of Iraqi civilians to US complicity in torture by
the Iraqi government, happened during the Bush years.

But it is the Obama administration that is imprisoning him.

It is Barack Obama who pronounced him guilty before he
so much as had a trial (which he’s still waiting for after
almost two years in captivity). And so justifications must
be made.

One popular way is by attacking Manning’s character, by
arguing that unlike Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked top secret
Pentagon documents detailing U.S. failures in Vietnam,
Manning – who, if the charges against him are true, didn’t
leak a single piece of top secret information – was simply
a troubled young man.

The New York Times, for instance, published a piece that spent
several thousand words to essentially say he did it because he
had “delusions of grandeur.” And because he was gay, probably.

Alyssa Rosenberg, a blogger for the Center for American Progress,
declared her “main opinion of Bradley Manning” to be that “it
sounds like he has pretty serious emotional problems and turned
out not to be a particularly effective whistleblower.”

Conveniently, Manning is to blame for the fact the WikiLeaks
revelations did not alter the behavior of the American empire,
not the institutions of state power so often fawned over by
Rosenberg and her colleagues as fundamentally good and just.

Joy Reid, a Democratic pundit who often appears on MSNBC,
likewise dwells on Manning’s alleged emotional problems and gayness.

Because he allegedly divulged to a hacker-turned-informant
that he was struggling with his gender identity, Reid –
ignoring all the inconvenient comments about being outraged
by torture and civilian deaths – argued that Manning was no
hero at all, but rather “a guy seeking anarchy as a salve
for his own personal, psychological torment” caused by his

In this case one might well ask: What if Rick Santorum said it?

When the Nixon administration sought to discredit Ellsberg back in
1971, it played by the same book as Reid and other Obama loyalists
unwilling to believe their president is persecuting a hero, breaking
into his psychiatrist’s office in a vain attempt to uncover evidence
of mental illness.

Today, the liberal media does the government’s work for it.

A lot of that, obviously, has to do with partisanship. Though
Ellsberg’s leaks primarily exposed the lies of Nixon’s Democratic
predecessor’s, he was the target of a loathed Republican
administration, so liberals rallied to his defense; there was a
president to take down, after all.

By contrast, the treatment of Manning – labeled “appropriate” by
Obama; as “cruel” and “inhuman” by the UN special rapporteur
on torture – threatens the mainstream liberal narrative about the
American state.

If a Democratic president is torturing a whistle-blower who
primarily exposed atrocities authorized by his Republican
predecessor, it’s almost as if . . . well, best not to think
about that.

But it’s just brand loyalty that explains the liberal condemnations
of Manning – or the even more common silence.

As Madar, who just wrote a book on the alleged WikiLeaks source,
“The Passion of Bradley Manning,” notes, when it comes to Manning
and the broader issue of Obama’s continuation of Bush’s war on
terror, it’s about more than simple party politics.

“There’s a long tradition of liberals, especially in the first few
decades after the Cold War, of being opposed to, say, the vulgar
witch-hunting, hysterical anti-communism of Joseph McCarthy,”
says Madar, “but being supportive of the much more professional
anti-communism of, say, Harvard University.”

You can see the same dynamic at play now.

Bush’s imperialism was crude and unilateral, so it was condemned;
Obama’s is more sophisticated and multilateral, so it’s condoned –
or cheered.

Similarly, those on the right who condemn Manning do so in a
manner repellent to the more refined liberal palette.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, for instance – in the
midst of selling his children’s book, Can’t Wait Till Christmas! –
declared that for Manning, “anything less than execution is too
kind a penalty.”

How uncouth. How vulgar.

On the center-left, the position is much more sensible: don’t
outright murder the guy, at least not without a show trial,
but don’t you dare let him see the light of day again.

As Obama himself pronounced, “He broke the law,” which is
something that must be obeyed by everyone but bankers and
torturers and presidents.

We can’t just expose the state-sanctioned torture and murder
of innocents willy-nilly.

We can’t just listen to our own consciences when confronted
with institutional evil.

That’d be anarchy. Which is bad.

To be fair, liberals can’t really be blamed for their reaction to
Manning. What he did was fundamentally radical, not reformist.

He didn’t settle for working within a system explicitly designed to
thwart the exposure of wrongdoing, through a chain of command
that callously ignores concern for non-American life.

Having access to evidence of grotesque crimes no one around him
seemed to care about, he engaged in direct action, exposing them
for the benefit of the world and those paying for them, the U.S.

“[I]f you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of
time,” Manning reportedly wrote to the man who ultimately turned
him in, “and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that
belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a
dark room in Washington DC… what would you do? ”

We know what his answer was.

And we know what the guardians of establishment liberalism would
have had him do: Nothing.

Judge for yourself which is more defensible.

Charles Davis is a journalist whose work has appeared on public
radio stations across the United States and at outlets including
Al Jazeera and Inter Press Service.

Friday, April 20, 2012



We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its
fatal encounter with the iceberg: the idea that the ship will
sink is beyond belief.

By Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two
April, 20, 2012

As we all know, the "unsinkable" Titanic suffered a glancing
collision with an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912.

Ten minutes after the iceberg had opened six of the ship's
16 watertight compartments, it was not at all apparent that
the mighty vessel had been fatally wounded, as there was no
evidence of damage topside.

Indeed, some eyewitnesses reported that passengers playfully
scattered the ice left on the foredeck by the encounter.

But some rudimentary calculations soon revealed the truth to
the officers: the ship was designed to survive four watertight
compartments being compromised, and could likely stay afloat
if five were opened to the sea, but not if six compartments
were flooded.

Water would inevitably spill over into adjacent compartments
in a domino-like fashion until the ship sank.

We can sympathize with the disbelief of the officers, and with
their confused reaction, simultaneously reassuring passengers
and attempting to goad them into the lifeboats.

With the interior still warm and bright with lights, it seemed
far more dangerous to clamber into an open lifeboat and drift
off into the cold Atlantic than it did to stay onboard.

As a result, the first lifeboats left the ship only partially full.

Only when it became undeniable that the ship was doomed
did people attempt to "make other arangements," but by then
it was too late.

The tragedy was a cruel mix of human error (entering an ice
field at nearly top speed, 23-25 knots), hubris-soaked planning
(only enough lifeboats for half the passengers and crew) and
design flaws: the high-sulfur iron hull plating did not bend when
struck by the ice, it shattered like china.

As noted above, the watertight compartment design was also
flawed; indeed, some studies have found that the ship would
have stayed afloat an additional six hours had there been no
watertight compartments, as water would have sloshed evenly
along the entire length of the vessel.

I think this perfectly describes the present.

Our financial system seems "unsinkable," yet the reliance on debt
and financialization has already doomed it, whether we are willing
to believe it or not.

Maybe the illusion that the ship is unsinkable can be maintained
for another year or two; the Status Quo's success in masking the
ultimate fate of the financial system for the past four years
supports the belief that there is literally no limit to the Federal
Reserve and Treasury's power to keep the ship afloat, regardless
of the cost.

In other words, the Fed and Treasury are perceived as "unsinkable."

That illusion has cost trillions of dollars, trillions of dollars of
new debt that now burden the taxpayers: $2 trillion added to
the Fed balance sheet, $1.2 trillion in secret giveaways to the
banking cartel, and $6 trillion in additional Federal debt/spending.

Yet few of us are willing to entertain an exit from the belief system
that supports the Status Quo.

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal
encounter with the iceberg: we can't believe this grand ship could
sink, so we do nothing while it is still possible to influence our fate.

We could insist on changes to these doomed policies, but we do not; why?

Some of our reluctance can be attributed to disbelief, as the
gap between what we know is inevitable--the ship will sink
beneath the waves--and what we currently see--a proud,
mighty ship, apparently only lightly damaged--is so wide.

But if we delve deeper, we discern how calculations of risk and
gain yield faulty assessments of self-interest.

While the ship appears structurally sound, it seems risky to clamber
into an open lifeboat and drift away into the freezing night, while
the supposed gain (saving our life) is questionable: from the warm
deck of the ship, it seems that climbing into a small lifeboat would
place our life far more at risk than staying on board the mighty ship.

This assessment of self-interest was tragically flawed, and by the
time the impossible (sinking) had become the inevitable, it was
too late to change the fate we’d selected back when all seemed
permanent and secure.

The point of this exercise is to reveal just how illusory our
assessment of self-interest and security can be, and how
prone we are to making decisions based on the present even
when our rational minds are well aware that it is unsustainable.

The financial system of the United States of America is like the

Hubris led many to declare it financially unsinkable even as its
fundamental design was riddled with fatal flaws and the human
pilots in charge ran it straight into the ice field at top speed.

We have some time left before the ultimate fate is visible to all.

Ten minutes after the collision, the Titanic's passengers had
2 hours and 30 minutes before the "unsinkable" ship sank.

How much time we have left is unknown, but the bow of the
ship will be visibly settling into the icy water within a year or
two--and perhaps much sooner.

The below excerpt is taken from my new book Resistance,
Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal
encounter with the iceberg: though our financial system seems
unsinkable, its reliance on debt and financialization has already
doomed it.

We cannot know when the Central State and financial system
will destabilize, we only know they will destabilize.

We cannot know which of the State’s fast-rising debts and
obligations will be renounced; we only know they will be
renounced in one fashion or another.

The process of the unsustainable collapsing and a new, more
sustainable model emerging is called revolution, and it combines
cultural, technological, financial and political elements in a
dynamic flux.

History is not fixed; it is in our hands. We cannot await a remote
future transition to transform our lives.

Revolution begins with our internal understanding and reaches
fruition in our coherently directed daily actions in the lived-in

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Class Warfare: As American as Apple Pie

Class Warfare: As American as Apple Pie

By Ed Kilgore
April 17, 2012

At a time when the Buffet Rule—the idea that millionaires ought
to be paying an effective income tax rate of 30% or so—has been
blocked by Senate Republicans (minus Susan Collins, but plus David
Pryor) as an outrageous, demagogic excercise in class warfare, it’s
nice to recall now and then that progressive taxation is hardly an
un-American concept.

Annie Lowrey’s profile of two young economists and their growing influence on the inequality debate includes some valuable reminders:

Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty have spent the last decade
tracking the incomes of the poor, the middle class and the rich
in countries across the world.

More than anything else, their work shows that the top earners in the United States have taken a bigger and bigger share of overall income over the last three decades, with inequality nearly as acute as it was before the Great Depression….

Both admire, even adore, the United States, they say, for its entrepreneurial drive, innovative spirit and, not least, its academic excellence: the two met while re-searchers in Cambridge, Mass.

But both also express bewilderment over the current conversation about whether the wealthy, who have taken most of America’s income gains over the last 30 years, should be paying higher taxes.

“The United States is getting accustomed to a completely crazy
level of inequality,” Mr. Piketty said, with a degree of wonder.

“People say that reducing inequality is radical. I think that
tolerating the level of inequality the United States tolerates
is radical.”

Ah, but Saez and Piketty are French! Surely they just don’t
understand American exceptionalism! If so, it’s not because
they haven’t thought about it:

Mr. Piketty and Mr. Saez argue that history is on their side:

Many countries have higher tax rates — and the United States has had higher tax rates — without stifling growth or encouraging the concentration of income in the hands of the very rich.

“In a way, the United States is becoming like Old Europe, which
is very strange in historical perspective,” Mr. Piketty said.

“The United States used to be very egalitarian, not just in spirit
but in actuality.

Inequality of wealth and income used to be much larger in France. And very high taxes on the very rich — that was invented in the United States,” he said.

Class Warfare: As American as Apple Pie.

This or that level of marginal taxation may or may not be justifiable on grounds of fiscal policy or economics.

But the idea that higher taxes on the wealth is somehow un-American is just plain wrong.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a Special Correspondent for The New Republic.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Funding My Existence

Funding My Existence

By Nick Meador
April 14, 2012

It appears we are living at the dawn of a new era. Throughout
our culture we see signs of change, progress, and evolution.

A “Creative Class” is on the rise that—with the help of the Internet and other related technologies—will reportedly transform our entire socio-economic system.

And yet, at the same time, something is amiss.

Much of this so-called Creative Class can only prosper by finding
work within the current corporate infrastructure, resulting in very
little actual creativity or innovation.

The very ones who might create the necessary change in society
must expend their time and energy worrying about “making a living.”

Those who can keep a job have to sacrifice ideas that contradict
the wishes of bosses and the company’s stockholders.

For those who have been diagnosed “abnormal” by our society,
this problem is especially prevalent.

Such people are variably labeled anti-social, eccentric, introverted, highly sensitive, ADD, bipolar, neuro-atypical, differently abled, gifted, or one of many other similar terms that have a derogatory effect.

The trouble is that the only people who ever made any worthwhile changes in this world belonged to one of these categories.

The most creative visionaries often cannot function adequately in
modern society.

This makes it extremely hard to avoid unemployment, let alone
to feed and shelter oneself. But admit that you feel this way, and
you’re instantly labeled lazy, arrogant, elitist, etc.

We’re evidently not ready to admit on a mass scale that the current definition of a “normal” human being is not only imaginary, but impossible.

It is time that we break out of this double-bind. One idea how to
do that has sat dormant in the cultural underground for the last
few decades.

In 1969, R. Buckminster Fuller (a.k.a. Bucky Fuller) published his short volume Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. As Fuller writes:

…we must give each human who is or becomes unemployed a life fellowship in research and development or in just simple thinking. Man must be able to dare to think truthfully and to act accordingly without fear of losing his franchise to live. [...] For every 100,000 employed in research and development, or just plain thinking, one probably will make a breakthrough that will more than pay for the other 99,999 fellowships.

This will never be possible in a purely capitalistic system that runs according to the tenets of selfishness and greed—or the misapplied motto “survival of the fittest.”

The Internet has allowed for certain non-traditional funding
platforms, but the most popular ones are oriented around
funding creative projects—not funding a creative life. And
taking out any kind of loan seems dangerous when there’s
no way to be sure about the possibility of paying it back.

For some of us, a “job” or a “career” is not the answer.

For some, it’s time to admit: “What I really need is help

Fuller also used the term “mind fellowships.” His purpose
was very clear:

Through the universal research and development fellowships, we’re going to start emancipating humanity from being muscle and reflex machines. We’re going to give everybody a chance to develop their most powerful mental and intuitive faculties. [...] What we want everybody to do is to think clearly.

With this spirit in mind, let’s give birth to an online community designed to provide existential funding to the people who need it.

Recipients will have to demonstrate what value they have
contributed to society in the form of ideas, projects, art,
innovation, social movements, etc. Donors will be able to
choose which individuals interest them the most.

We’ve spent enough time talking about futuristic visions of society.

Some feel an urgent drive to manifest it in reality.

It is time to enable those people by funding their existence,
allowing them to worry about more pressing matters—like
changing the world.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fools! A Cry of Hope!

Fools! A Cry of Hope!

By Jim Macdonald
Northern Rockies Independent Media Network
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In our society, there are a few people who control most of the
money and almost all of the levers of power, and then there are
the rest of us. That is surely an oversimplification, though.

For in the rest of us, we can find all kinds of divisions of power.

Men have it better than women, whites than people of color,
American citizens than foreigners, middle class than poor, fully
able bodied than those with disabilities, human than non-human,
property owner than non-property owner, manager than worker,
good-looking than ugly, stronger than weaker, and on and on.

Yet, surely all of these other hierarchies might be easier to
eradicate if there were not so few people controlling the economic
and political capital and all that goes with it – namely government
at all its levels including the laws, military, and police; business at
all its levels, particularly the large corporations; the banks at all
their levels, especially the mega banks (I know you’re not listening,
Wells Fargo); etc.

These same people control the mass media – and the useless range
of talking heads we hear – and the policy choices left as scraps for
those foolish enough to believe their vote matters.

Of course, that we are all left as fools is the point. Compared with
their power, we are mere babbling idiots.

I am allowed to write these things because they resonate nowhere.

I am lucky if I can get my friends and family to read these essays.
At most, my reach is a few hundred people for any given essay.

If my message is intended to penetrate those who wield power, it
simply cannot. Therefore, I am not a threat.

Voices much larger than mine – from Amy Goodman to Noam
Chomsky to Michael Moore – cannot make a dent in their citadel.

In respect to it, we are left as babbling idiots. We, to them, are no
more than the curiosities we find at the zoo – the same zoo animals
that we happily abuse without a second thought.

“Don’t feed the animals” might as well be a message for treating

Ignore them, and they will go away. Give them a deal on consumer
junk. Numb their minds with the safety of popular culture where
what passes for radical is whether someone dares to utter a foul
word or shows too much skin.

Many people are surely “happy” with this life. They make enough
money, they have a nice enough family, and they enjoy watching
television day after day after day.

So long as the upper classes keep a moderately fattened middle
class, the wretched underbelly of the society will continue to be

You never see domestic cows rise up whatever their conditions.

Just keep them sufficiently fat, and they will find contentment
in that. I doubt that cows are actually content with that, but I
want to make a different point.

Keeping a cow fat comes at a cost. In Greater Yellowstone,
it literally and specifically means the deaths and torture of
thousands of bison.

In human terms, it can mean computer chips coming at the cost
of millions of lives in Africa, chronic poverty, and a permanent
underclass of despair.

It often means wars in other countries to maintain control over oil
and energy resources, it means detrimental land practices, and that
interestingly can lead to deaths and torture of thousands of bison.

For keeping cows fat is not irrelevant in practice to keeping humans
grazing on potatoes (in a thousand different varieties) from the

Yet, as long as we do not have to think about any of these things
ourselves – so long as enough of us can remain fat and lazy – we
are free to do whatever we want within the range of minutiae left
for us (even to write essays like this – whatever floats your boat?)

We are left babbling fools.

When some people wake up to their condition and decide that
they want to live their lives more fully – recognizing that the
happiest life is one where each of us has the chance for the
fullest expression of our nature – they occasionally go out to

This has happened in the last year with the Occupy Movement;
it has happened here in Bozeman, Montana with a Wells Fargo
divestment campaign and other actions.

Inevitably, some people show up, raise a fuss, other people honk
horns, and everyone goes home.

To the vast majority, it just looks like a show – a perverse show
perhaps that could use a director and professional writers. It’s
where the lunatics go, not the respectable people.

Respectable people understand that change is not made that way.

No one listens to lunatics on the side of the road waving signs and
speaking incoherently into a sound system. It smacks of almost a
religious cult to go out there with a sign proselytizing and chanting
like maniacs.

What the respectable person does not realize is that he too has
been made into a fool.

Most people live in their silly little boxes connecting their asses to
the couch, with a beer at their side, a remote control where their
penis might be, flipping through hundreds of channels constantly.

Perhaps, they pride themselves on being outdoors people, going
out and hiking in the mountains with their dogs, enjoying the
scenery and the physical exertion. This is all good; even animals
need their exercise.

They think they have found a place to keep their dogs off
their leashes, but the leashes are firmly around our necks.

The moment ends, and we return to our jobs and the numbing
routine of life.

Look at this society from the sky, and you see what looks like an
ant colony marching in line, the land turned into grids, and all the
people down there look like mere ants filling up those grids with
their cars.

The respectable person has been made a fool. Our ancestors
would not likely see this as progress. They would laugh at
what buffoons we have made of our lives.

Through peaks, we see that things are not nearly so dreamy that even the happy caged fool imagines himself.

We get a glimpse behind the American Beauties at the high
divorce rate, at the high suicide rates, at polls that suggest
that the respectable people don’t think things are going in
the right direction.

Alcoholism and drug abuse are high at all socioeconomic levels;
diseases related to obesity are gaining strength as well – all while
health care costs are skyrocketing and many formerly middle class
people have lost their homes and their jobs.

There is high anxiety about whether the middle class trough isn’t
soon disappearing.

Indeed, I am not immune; I can write this essay today because my
contract at another job recently ended, and I too am between jobs
and unsure whether my trough will run dry. We do not know where
to turn.

Our friends are the people we get drunk with; can we count on
them to be there when things really get tough, when we might find
ourselves imposing on them? In some cases, we are fortunate. Many
are not; they do not even know their neighbors.

Nevertheless, the happy fools are content enough and only take a
disdainful glance at anyone who reminds them that there are many
who are not and have never been so fortunate – that the 2008
economic recession was their lot long before the housing market

The protestor actually has it right to yell and scream and wave
all kinds of signs and to be as incoherent as possible.

That is who we all are in respect to the few people who have
all the economic and political power.

Those who pretend they can change Wells Fargo or elect the
right man who promises the right kind of hope are dangerously

They are merely seen as yelling and screaming, too, but they waste
their time pretending that there’s a reason to craft their message.

We have seen with bison where that goes when a Greater
Yellowstone Coalition, for instance, repeatedly sells wild bison
out for the “next step forward.” They believe they have the ear
of the governor, as if that matters.

We have seen what all the electioneering has done to give us a
President Obama who has plenty of blood on his hands – continuing
to wage wars across the world.

They have elected Democratic and Republican congresses, and
they are surely not the same (one is always going to be better
than the other), but they did not derive their power from you.

They derive it from those who hold the purse strings. That is why
they can pretend to be environmentalists, for instance, all while
supporting hydraulic fracturing.

That is why they take a half moment to shake your hand while spending hours wining and dining with the rich and influential.

There is a logical notion lost on many people – that of the
false antecedent. Namely, in any compound proposition, if
the antecedent is false, it really does not matter what the
consequent is.

The entire statement will be true because the entire statement
is vacuous.

Thus, in the proposition, “If the cow jumped over the moon, then
the moon will be made of green cheese,” the entire proposition is
true because the antecedent is always false.

The cow did not and has not jumped over the moon, and therefore
you can say whatever you like about it. It does not matter. You can
say that the moon is made of rocks, or you can say that Elvis is still

I’d suggest considering the false antecedent, “If your voice matters,
then you should ….”

The protestor goes out realizing that we are all made into babbling
idiots. Others choose to vote. Others have a barbecue and text
their choice for the next American Idol. C’est la vie.

The real problem, of course, is that our voices – the extension of
what it means for us to be alive as humans – do not matter in the

Thus, I’d suggest that acting like fools via protest serves a more
rational purpose in one respect.

The protestor is, by screaming and yelling, trying to express to the
rest of us that we are reduced to a state of relative insanity, and
that we fellow fools need to do something about it.

Unfortunately, the message is lost on a dumbfounded public that
misses the irony.

That is no doubt why I find myself writing an essay like this – so
that at least those few people who hear this recognize that we have
as much hope of getting our message across to the powers that be
screaming like fools than doing anything else.

Or, maybe, we just need to figure out how to be more entertaining.

As court jesters, we might be able to be more subversive than
we realize if only we were more conscious of our aim.

My sense is that too many protestors believe that they are
doing something that might communicate a serious message.

There is a serious message for sure; however, we need to step
back and realize that the message isn’t to be found in our signs,
but in our desperation – in the fact that we are exposing the
truth of what we all are – lab animals in some sadistic if yet
silly experiment.

Consciousness that we have been made fools, then, is perhaps the
first step of wisdom.

However, I have left out something very important. While we are
fools in respect to them, we must learn to be meaningful friends
with each other.

We should never want to have the kind of power and prestige that
the rich and powerful have.

They too are fools in choosing a world where only the scattered few
have the opportunity to live freely, constantly having to plot ways
to stay on top of the pile.

It is no doubt why Plato in Republic likened the despot to the
unhappiest person of all.

Anyhow, in respect to each other, we’ve also been made fools
by the various power dominations that exist within our society.

It can often feel beyond hopeless that we can find meaningful
friendships that we can trust.

Relationships between races are fraught with mistrust due to
the history of racism in society.

Women are often rightfully untrusting of the motives of men. A
poorer friend may think his wealthier friend may use his favor
over him.

Many groups of people dissolve into petty soap operas rooted
in the stupidity with which we feed on in this social structure.

Yet, overcoming many of those obstacles is so important – to find
a place where your voice matters, to find a group of people where
you can scream to your heart’s content but be there with a kind
word, a meal, or even a building project.

I meet a lot of people who admit a core of loneliness.

If recognizing we are made fools is the beginning of wisdom, then
the admission of our loneliness – strange as it may sound – is the
beginning of hope.

When people both realize their place as fools in this world and yet
also find a kindred bond with some in the immediate environment,
then maybe there’s a reason to care, to be rational, and
reasonable, and respectable.

There we find the true seeds of happiness – not the inner peace
sold like a potion and not the so called outer peace of hope in
someone else somewhere else – but in discovering something
simultaneously in ourselves and with each other.

Only if we can succeed at those first steps can we have any hope
of raising our voices loud enough to be heard up in the citadel, to
make ourselves strong enough to tear that tower of Babel down
once and for all.

This is my cry in the dark. Has anyone heard? I don’t want to be
left howling alone in this dungeon.

Enough is enough! Let us sing a new song!

Friday, April 6, 2012

George Carlin: Forget the politicians…

George Carlin: Forget the politicians…

By George Carlin
April 06, 2012

The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have
freedom of choice … you don’t.

You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own

They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations.

They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress,
the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back
pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control
just about all of the news and information you get to hear.

They got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying … lobbying, to
get what they want … Well, we know what they want.

They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but
I’ll tell you what they don’t want … they don’t want a population
of citizens capable of critical thinking.

They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of
critical thinking.

They’re not interested in that … that doesn’t help them. That’s
against their interests. That’s right.

They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a
kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked
by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin’ years ago.

They don’t want that. You know what they want?

They want obedient workers … Obedient workers, people who
are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork.

And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money.

They want your fuckin’ retirement money.

They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on
Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it … they’ll get
it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fuckin’ place.

It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in The big club.

By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the
head with all day long when they tell you what to believe.

All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you
what to believe, what to think and what to buy.

The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to
notice. Nobody seems to care.

Good honest hard-working people … white collar, blue collar it
doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on.

Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people
of modest means … continue to elect these rich cocksuckers
who don’t give a fuck about you.

They don’t give a fuck about you … they don’t give a fuck about you.

They don’t care about you at all … at all … at all, and nobody seems
to notice.

Nobody seems to care.

That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will
probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue
dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because
the owners of this country know the truth.

It’s called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to
believe it…

George Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American
stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, actor, writer and
author, who won five Grammy Awards for his comedy albums.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Strategies of Deception

Strategies of Deception

By William T. Hathaway
Wednesday, April 04, 2012

To get a preview of Obama’s strategies for winning a second term, we just need to read the liberal press. They are giving lip-service praise to the current protests while trying to steer them in a direction that serves the Democratic Party.

Seeking to restore the fading illusion that the Democrats work
in the interests of the 99%, they imply that if Obama is given
a second term, his true nature will emerge and he’ll crack down
on the greed and corruption of the 1% and lead the country in a
progressive direction.

They conveniently ignore that he’s done the opposite during his
three years in office.

They also try to scare us into voting for him by claiming a
Republican president would be much worse. In fact the differences
between Republicans and Democrats are mostly a matter of image and style.

Their military policies are equally aggressive, and their economic
policies differ only in nuances.

But the Democrats put a friendly face on their administration of
capital. Their rhetoric is sprinkled with populist slogans as they’re
bailing out banksters and dropping bombs.

The more blatant style of a Republican president might actually be
better now because it would generate more opposition at home and

This opposition needs to build into militant resistance before it will
produce real change.

To prevent this sort of uprising was one of the reasons the
corporate elite backed Obama. And until recently he’s succeeded
in quieting dissent.

With masterful PR legerdemain, he put the antiwar movement to
sleep while continuing to fight the wars.

Under a Republican president we could revive the spirit of revolt
and mobilize the people of the world against the empire.

It’s going to take that kind of international struggle to overthrow
this colossus.

Another strategy of deception is to claim that the good old days of
middle-class prosperity can be brought back. Both major parties say
their policies will restore high employment at good wages.

But those times are gone.

Those were the conditions in the prior, Keynesian phase of
capitalism, when the main market for products was the home
country. Wage increases were tolerated then because they
stimulated consumption.

Now the market is global, and corporations face severe
competition from emerging industrial powers such as China
and India, which have far lower labor costs. To compete
with their prices, US and European corporations must slash
wages and benefits.

If they are to maintain long-term dominance, they must also
extend their hold on essential resources. Control over Mideast
oil and a pipeline through Afghanistan aren’t just things they’d
like to have.

They need them to hold on to their power in the present
consolidation phase of capitalism, when the less effective
predators are eliminated and wealth concentrates in fewer
and fewer giant corporations.

The system demands they impoverish their workers and kill
millions of people.

Capitalism is inherently aggressive and predatory, and this
intensifies in its later stages.

Reforms can’t change its basic nature.

In addition to pushing reformism, the liberal media portray
the economic crisis as being a problem of distribution.

The 99% have too little, the 1% have too much, so the 1%
should be taxed and regulated so the rest of us get a fair share.

This sounds good, and it has elected a string of Democrats
who talk about it while loyally serving the interests of the 1%.

The core problem is not distribution but ownership.

If forced to, the 1% will accept higher taxation and regulation,
as long as they maintain ownership.

With the economic power in their hands, they can reverse the
taxes and regulations later, as we have seen.

The only fair share is an equal share for everyone.

To achieve that we must take the means of production — the
natural resources, factories, banks, and major corporations —
away from the 1% and use them for the benefit of us all.

The 99% doesn’t need a bigger piece of the pie. We need to own
the pie.

We planted the seeds for the pie, tilled and harvested them,
ground the flour, cut the sugar cane, churned the butter, bake
the pie, delivered it to the store, rang up the sale, and made
the owners rich.

It’s our pie! But we’re going to have to take it back.

We’re not going to do that through liberal regulations and reforms
that leave ownership in the hands of the 1%.

And we’re also not going to do it through a dictatorship such as
the Soviet Union or China.

Those societies had no tradition of democracy, so they kept
their totalitarian character. We however can build a democratic,
decentralized form of socialism.

The first step towards that is to free ourselves from the strategies
of deception with which the oligarchs try to shape our minds.

The second is to join with others in active struggle.

Just being angry isn’t enough; to succeed we must be organized
and militant. Dissident Voice is a resource for both these steps.

William T. Hathaway's other books include A World of Hurt
(Rinehart Foundation Award), CD-Ring, and Summer Snow.
He is an adjunct professor of American studies at the
University of Oldenburg in Germany.

Monday, April 2, 2012

When Bankers Rule the World

How we can call out the myths, restructure the banking
system, shut down the con game, and take back America.

By David Korten
Yes Magazine
April 02, 2012

The tell-all defection of Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs
executive, provided an insider’s view of the moral corruption
of the Wall Street banks that control of much of America’s
economy and politics.

Smith confirms what insightful observers have known for years:
the business purpose of Wall Street bankers is to maximize their
personal financial take without regard to the consequences for

Wall Street’s World of Illusion

Why has the public for so long tolerated Wall Street’s reckless
abuses of power and accepted the resulting devastation?

The answer lies in a cultural trance induced by deceptive language and misleading indicators backed by flawed economic theory and accounting sleight-of-hand.

To shatter the trance we need to recognize that the deception that
Wall Street promotes through its well-funded PR machine rests on
three false premises.

1. We best fulfill our individual moral obligation to society by
maximizing our personal financial gain.

2. Money is wealth and making money increases the wealth of
the society.

3. Making money is the proper purpose of the individual enterprise
and is the proper measure of prosperity and economic performance.

Wall Street aggressively promotes these fallacies as guiding moral

Their embrace by Wall Street insiders helps to explain how they
are able to reward themselves with obscene bonuses for their
successful use of deception, fraud, speculation, and usury to
steal wealth they have had no part in creating and yet still
believe, as Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein famously proclaimed,
that they are “doing God’s work.”

The devastation created by Wall Street’s failure affirms three
truths that are the foundation on which millions of people are
at work building a New Economy:

1. Our individual and collective well-being depends on acting
with concern for the well-being of others. We all do better
when we look out for one another.

2. Money is not wealth. It is just numbers. Sacrificing the health
and happiness of billions of people to grow numbers on computer
hard drives to improve one’s score on the Forbes Magazine list
of the world’s richest people is immoral. Managing a society’s
economy to facilitate this immoral competition at the expense
of people and nature is an act of collective insanity.

3. The proper purpose of the economy and the enterprises that
comprise it is to provide good jobs and quality goods and services
beneficial to the health and happiness of people, community and
nature. A modest financial profit is essential to a firm’s viability,
but is not its proper purpose.

The critical distinction between making money and creating
wealth is the key to seeing through Wall Street’s illusions.

Ends/Means Confusion

Real wealth includes healthful food; fertile land; pure water; clean
air; caring relationships; healthy, happy children; quality education
and health care; fulfilling opportunities for service; peace; and time for meditation and spiritual reflection.

These are among the many forms of real wealth to which we
properly expect a sound economy to contribute.

It is a very, very bad idea to yield control of the issuance and
allocation of credit (money) to Wall Street banks run by con
artists who operate beyond the reach of public accountability.

Wall Street has so corrupted our language, however, that it is
difficult even to express the crucial distinction between money
(a facilitator of economic activity), and real wealth (the purpose
of economic activity).

Financial commentators routinely use terms like wealth, capital,
resources, and assets when referring to phantom wealth financial
assets, which makes them sound like something real and
substantial—whether or not they are backed by anything of real

Similarly, they identify folks engaged in market speculation and
manipulation as investors, thus glossing over the distinction
between those who game the system to expropriate wealth and
those who contribute to its creation.

The same confusion plays out in the use of financial indicators,
particularly stock price indices, to evaluate economic performance.

The daily rise and fall of stock prices tells us only how fast the
current stock bubble is inflating or deflating and thus how Wall
Street speculators are doing relative to the rest of us.

Once we are conditioned to embrace measures of Wall Street
success as measures of our own well-being, we are easily recruited
as foot soldiers in Wall Street’s relentless campaign to advance
policies that support its control of money and thus its hold on
nearly every aspect of our lives.

Modern Enslavement

In a modern society in which our access to most essential of life
from food and water to shelter and health care depends on money,
control of money is the ultimate instrument of social control.

Fortunately, with the help of Occupy Wall Street, Americans are
waking up to an important truth.

It is a very, very bad idea to yield control of the issuance and
allocation of credit (money) to Wall Street banks run by con artists
who operate beyond the reach of public accountability and who
Greg Smith tells us in his New York Times op-ed view the rest of
us as simple-minded marks ripe for the exploiting.

By going along with its deceptions, we the people empowered
Wall Street to convert America from a middle class society
of entrepreneurs, investors, and skilled workers into a nation
of debt slaves.

Buying into Wall Street lies and illusions, Americans have been
lured into accepting, even aggressively promoting, “tax relief”
for the very rich and the “regulatory relief” and “free trade”
agreements for corporations that allowed Wall Street to suppress
wages and benefits for working people through union busting,
automation, and outsourcing jobs to foreign sweatshops.

Once working people were unable to make ends meet with current
income, Wall Street lured them into making up the difference by
taking on credit card and mortgage debt they had no means to repay.

They were soon borrowing to pay not only for current consumption,
but as well to pay the interest on prior unpaid debt.

This is the classic downward spiral of debt slavery that assures an
ever-growing divide between the power and luxury of a creditor
class and the powerless desperation of a debtor class.

Bust the Trusts, Liberate America

Before Wall Street dismantled it, America had a system of
transparent, well-regulated, community-based, locally owned,
Main Street financial institutions empowered to put local
savings to work investing in building real community wealth
through the creation and allocation of credit to finance local
home buyers and entrepreneurs.

Although dismissed by Wall Street players as small, quaint,
provincial, and inefficient, this locally rooted financial system
created the credit that financed our victory in World War II, the
Main Street economies that unleashed America’s entrepreneurial
talents, the investments that made us the world leader in
manufacturing and technology, and the family-wage jobs that
built the American middle class.

It is a proven model with important lessons relevant for current
efforts to restore financial integrity and build an economy that
serves all Americans.

Two recent reports from the New Economy Working Group—How to
Liberate America from Wall Street Rule and Jobs:

A Main Street Fix for Wall Street’s Failure—draw on these lessons to
outline a practical program to shift power from Wall Street to Main
Street, focus economic policy on real wealth creation, create a true
ownership society, unleash Main Street’s entrepreneurial potential,
bring ourselves into balance with the biosphere, meet the needs of
all, and strengthen democracy in the process.

For far too long, we have allowed Wall Street to play us as marks
in a confidence scam of audacious proportion. Then we wonder at
our seeming powerlessness to deal with job loss, depressed wages,
mortgage foreclosures, political corruption and the plight of our
children as they graduate into debt bondage.

Let us be clear. We will no longer play the sucker for Wall Street
con artists and we will no longer tolerate public bailouts to save
failed Wall Street banks.

Henceforth, when a Wall Street financial institution fails to
maintain adequate equity reserves to withstand a major financial
shock or is found guilty of systematic violation of the law and/or
defrauding the public, we must demand that federal authorities
take it over and break it up into strictly regulated, community-
accountable, cooperative member-owned financial services

Occupy Wall Street has focused national and global attention on
the source of the problem.

Now it’s time for action to bust the Wall Street banking trusts,
replace the current Wall Street banking system with a Main Street
banking system, and take back America from rule by Wall Street

David Korten ( is the author of Agenda
for a New Economy, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth
Community, and the international best seller When Corporations
Rule the World. He is board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of
the New Economy Working Group, and a founding board member
of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.