My Book The People’s War now out!

Uncategorized

cover 2Well. I have released my novel on Kindle. Those of you who have been fans of my blog will definitely like this book. It is a fictional account of the Tank Man, who stood in front of the tanks after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. The novel tracks the lives of several people including the Tank Man himself during the protests. The People’s War also describes the turmoil during the protests and the struggle of the student movement to gain footing in the consciousness of China.

Find it on Kindle. Please, also, feel free to leave a review.

Bad Capitalist

Philosophy, Politics

DNA moneyWhat is a capitalist? You hear the term thrown around a lot in the media and on blogs. It is often defined as someone who has a powerful nose for the dollar; someone who is always looking for ways to make money.

There is good capitalism; the type of capitalism that grows, innovates and improves our lives. There is bad capitalism which seeks to degrade, exploit and leave nothing behind. The latter, I believe, has been given too much reign over the American economy.

I feel this way because everywhere I look there is an example of some CEO or venture capitalist wrecking companies for profit, selling stocks short to make money off a market crash or finding creative ways to skim profits from those who actually work for their salary.

Who are they?

They care for nothing except currency, capital. They do not have any loyalty to God, country, family or anything else. They sure as hell don’t care about their workers. Everything is expendable when it comes to profit. One cannot underestimate this particular aspect.

They don’t want steady growth. They want volatility. They profit off the constant up and down. I attended a seminar full of energy traders and a woman giving the keynote speech said as much. She took a marker to a dry erase board and drew a steady line going up and then she drew a zig-zagging, jagged line that trended up. She pointed to the second one and said, “This is what we’re looking for.” There were a lot of nodding heads in the crowd. My jaw was on the floor. An economic crisis wasn’t a crisis for these people, it was an opportunity to make even more money.

They feel because they’re smarter, richer and more educated that it really makes them better people than the rest of us. They believe that somehow those three elements are literally part of their DNA that other people just don’t possess. This fuels an extreme sense of entitlement.

So what? Someone might say. Who cares? These people make money that also goes into 401(k) accounts and hedge funds, which benefits the lowly investor. That’s true. Except when things go south, like they did in 2008, the investors pay for it while the capitalists come out smelling like a rose, as usual.

They spoon feed the public nonsense about ideas such as the “invisible hand,” “a rising tide lifts all boats” and “war is good for the economy.” They want everyone to think that their fortune and our misfortune is due to causes beyond anyone’s control. In truth, extreme capitalists are the invisible hand. A swelling tide lifts their boats. War is good for them.

In 2008 oil companies were making record profits off the ever-increasing price of fuels. Their product had tripled in cost over the span of a year while demand was dropping. Executives told Congress “this is just how the market works.” Financial experts got on TV and said the same thing. They were doing their damndest to convince people that they’d stumbled upon all of these price increases like Jed Clampett.

As it turned out, oil prices were skyrocketing thanks to the clever trading methods of speculators working for investment banking firms. It wasn’t the end users of the oil who were buying the product. It was financial institutions buying and then selling oil as if it were a stock. Guess who turned out to be some of the masterminds behind the increases? Former traders from Enron.

CEOs earn more than 300 times more than most employees. According to the laws of capitalism, that would mean that they’re somehow offering 300 times more value than workers. Which isn’t true. Workers have their title for that reason, they’re doing the work. CEOs and managers make decisions and select the person best-suited for the work. That’s an equal partnership regardless of what the CEOs say about their leadership. Their value is not inherent in their salaries, it’s just what shareholders are willing to pay them.

Personally, I have no problem with capitalism. It has served me well. It has served America well. However anyone feels about capitalism, any objective look at America’s situation will see that it has fueled this country’s greatness.

But the capitalism and capitalist I speak of is unhinged, financial sociopathy.

Capitalists working in the government shroud themselves in conservative cloaks. The only thing they understand is cutting taxes regardless of spending levels or government excess. They do their best to choke government agencies through budget cuts or legislative restrictions to force a public sector necrosis. As the government fails under the pressure of reduced revenue and toothless authority, the capitalists point to the ineffectiveness and say “You see? Government doesn’t work!”

Government is ineffective. It is mired in bureaucracy. It doesn’t work because the capitalists don’t want it to work. They want the roles now served by government to be disintegrated so either the private sector can take that role over or that role ceases to cost taxpayer dollars.

They care nothing for equality or social progress. By nothing I mean they don’t care if equality improves or worsens, so long as it doesn’t affect their bottom line. Once lawsuits happen, then you begin to see business pushing back against added discrimination standards.

Take a CEO in America. When someone dies due to their product, a CEO’s first though isn’t, “How do we fix the problem to keep it from happening again?” They first think, “How do I keep this from costing the company revenue? How do I keep the public from finding out about this? How do I fight this in court to prevent hemorrhaging cash?”

They claim these principles are part of a philosophy. They say that they believe in the private sector’s ability to be efficient. They claim that their companies’ profits support their employees and their families. They claim their success fuels the success of other businesses. They pontificate about the multiplier effect.

Don’t be fooled. At the end of the day their goal is simple: they don’t want to pay taxes and they want more opportunities to make money. They don’t care about anything else. They don’t care about taxpayers. They don’t care about customers. They don’t care about responsibility. They don’t care about the environment. They don’t really care about the quality of their own goods and services. They don’t even care about their own company. They care nothing about these constructs unless it serves the purpose of generating profit. They don’t care about any system of social justice, government or civilization. They only care about themselves.

That is their mind.

They’re always around us and we can do nothing to rid ourselves of them. But we do need start recognizing who they are as opposed to the effective capitalists. We have to stop lionizing them and rewarding their exploitative behavior.

This begins with identifying them.

Real Reality

Philosophy

I recently watched a video on the perception people have about wealth distribution in this country. Essentially they believe the richest 20 percent has more than their share of the wealth which they find acceptable.

In reality, according to the video, the richest 1 percent actually have the majority of the wealth. Ninety percent of Americans are not aware of that.

I don’t consider myself much of a class warrior. I accept the fact that America is a Capitalist system that is very much tilted towards the rich. And as CEO salaries rise exponentially and the dwindling middle class continues to lose wages, I’ve given up trying to explain to people that the system is rigged against them.

My focus is mainly on what the video deems is reality and the perception that people have. I’ve always said that reality doesn’t really exist. This is because no matter how much you relate to someone else, everything that we feel, touch, taste, smell or hear in this world is processed by our brain, ergo perception. Regardless of how much research scientists do on brain function we are not wired together. Even if we have evolved such that our survival depends on us banding together, when it comes to interpreting our senses, we are utterly alone. We all have our own reality.

There’s collective reality, whereby people share their perceptions and agree that said perceptions match up. But in the end that is all they are, shared perceptions. So collective reality is really collective perceptions. So much of our life rides on that. Juries have to agree to the facts of a case. Doctors have to agree on the results of medical research. Survival, justice, life and all action is based on comparing each other’s perceptions and moving forward.

It’s scary to think that we cannot truly know what’s really going on around us. We never know what to believe. We have to rely on our own perceptions, because it is all we have. Descartes would say that we know we exist because we know that we think. My assumption is that we can’t know anything beyond that because that thinking and personal beliefs is confined to the individual. We don’t share the same neurons.

The only thing we know with certainty is our perceptions.

Politicians, business folk and the media rely on it. Their professions are based on preying upon people’s ideology and developed perceptions. People should be aware of that but they are not. Too many of us, I believe, are on autopilot and that seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling is what’s actually going on. The senses can deceive and we need to learn to think deeper about how we perceive our environments in order to fully understand them rather than accept them at face value.

At least that’s what I think.

Walter White: Republican

Philosophy

walt

Breaking Bad fans are eating up the last episodes of their beloved show and its Nietzschean protagonist Walter White.

Walt has taken us on a wild ride through his transformation as a beleaguered, terminally-ill chemistry teacher to a hell-on-wheels drug kingpin.

Despite the fact he runs his operation in the politically blue state of New Mexico, I personally feel Walt would back the Red candidates in the ballot box.

Now I don’t mean he’s from the new breed of Tea Party Republicans. I’m saying he’s one of the old-school, establishment, Capitalist with a capitol ‘C’ Republicans. Here’s my argument.

 

1. Imperialist-minded

“I’m in the empire business,” Walt tells Jesse.

Long before he tried to dominate the meth market and taught chemistry, Walt had a stake in a biotech firm called Grey Matter. When his back was against the wall financially, he was bought out by his partners for a paltry sum. After that, Grey Matter took off and Walt missed out on millions.

The meth path gave Walt a second chance at creating his own personal empire. The only difference is now he doesn’t have partners, only alliances.

 

2. Expects others to save themselves and allows the weak to die

When he faced his own mortality with lung cancer, his pals at Grey Matter offered to help him by paying for his chemotherapy. Repulsed, Walt rejected their charity and chose to come up with funds in his own way, whether it was illegal or not.

When he saw Jane Margolis violently throwing up in bed next to his partner Jesse Pinkman, he let her drown in her own vomit. He justified his act of omission because he felt Jane was dragging Jesse down with their mutual addiction.

Then when Victor and Mike Ehrmantraut had Walt cornered near the meth lab to kill him, Walt urged Jesse to kill Gale Boetticher. Eliminating the timid Gale would leave Gus Fring without a blue meth copycat and Gus would therefore need Walt to continue the operation.

 

3. Makes uneasy alliances

There are several examples of this throughout the show where Walt needed others’ help either to stay alive or build his empire. Much like a neocon who props up a dictator like Saddam Hussein or funds a rebellion like the Sandinistas, Walt will partner with people who serve his best interests.

His first major partnership is with Jesse Pinkman, a former student in Walt’s chemistry classes. Walt needed Jesse to learn about meth and guide him through the business.

Walt then pairs with Tuco Salamanca in order to get a foothold in the meth market. Once he builds his reputation, Walt works with Gus Fring to mass-produce his blue meth. He would later convince Tuco’s uncle Hector to kill Gus when the reserved kingpin pushes Walt out of the lab. Once Gus is dead, Walt starts his own relationship with cop-turned-criminal Mike Ehrmantraut.

In his latest alliance, Walt employs the help of white supremacists to silence Mike’s men in jail.

Of course there’s a deadly trend with all of those who choose to work with Walt. Eventually they all become his enemies. Thus far, only Jesse has survived.

 

4. Locked and Loaded

One of the first scenes of the pilot is Walter holding a handgun waiting for danger to come after him. Even before he can see who he’s aiming at, he’s cocked and ready to fire.

Then when things between him and Gus Fring turn south, the first thing Walt did was to buy a revolver and plan to take Gus out. When he runs over the two drug dealers about to kill Jesse, Walt picks up one of their guns and finishes off a dealer who survived the collision. Walt also killed the guard keeping Jesse hostage inside the meth lab at the end of season four.

The opening of the first show in season five shows Walt buying a run-down car with a machine gun in the trunk. We can only imagine what he’s going to do with it at the end of the series.

But we do know that he’s not afraid to arm himself which definitely makes him a proponent of the Second Amendment.

 

5. He isn’t big on regulation

While there is no direct evidence of this but I’m pretty sure if he had a say in industry regulations, he’d back the less-is-more perspective. No self-respecting Republican would do something to help the drug trade but the Laissez-faire theory still applies, Walt would not want the government in his business.

 

6. Walt is enamored on the idea of family

Republicans hold dear “family values.” The main reason Walt kicked off his meth career was to ensure his family’s future once he’s gone. Since that time, his imperialistic nature has emerged, which has been nothing but destructive both for his family and his protege Jesse. After finally earning a storage room full of cash, he decides to back out because he’s secured their future.

There’s also been several times where he’s saved Jesse from reckless decisions. He allowed Jane to die (because she exacerbated Jesse’s drug use), Walt used his relationship with Gus to help stop a war between street-level drug dealers and Jesse. When he couldn’t prevent the fight, he outright killed the drug dealers when it looked like they were going to off Jesse.

Jesse has returned the favor including killing Gale and standing up to Gus when Gus wanted to end his affiliation with Walt.

As Mike once said, “What is it with you two?”

 

7. He supports illegal immigrants

When he had a hard time cleaning up Gus’s meth lab after a solo cook, Walt enticed a group of undocumented workers to help him. After they whipped the lab up spic and span, Gus deported them in revenge.

 

So there you go. While Walt’s meth is as blue as New Mexico politics, he’s red at the polls— with a straight ticket.

Rich Jesus

Philosophy

Dollar sign

Ole’ Jesus said one of the quickest ways to get rejected from heaven is by being rich. The text is pretty clear. Odds of a camel sashaying through a needle are better than an affluent CEO moseying through paradise.

This is one of the greatest hypocrisies in American life. If you ask any “God-fearing” American they’ll tell you about how much God favors our great nation. But so much about America is also the brass ring. We’re all about being the next Capitalist King.

It can’t be both. Sorry. If we want to be rich, fine. But if you’re a Christian fundamentalist, accepting the Bible literally, then you have to consider the consequences for lusting after the dollar.

I’ve read it before where some argue Jesus was a capitalist because he told the parable of the servants who were trusted with their master’s riches. When the master returned, he punished the one servant who didn’t invest and grow his money while he rewarded the two who did.

Nope. Not a capitalist endorsement. It’s a parable for using talents that God bestows on someone. (Notice how the parable didn’t include a servant who lost money when he tried to invest it.)

The more frightening facet of the camel comparison is determining exactly who is rich. How do we define that? Jesus didn’t craft his message around the federal poverty level.

Aren’t we rich? The vast majority of Americans go home every night in a warm house with a variety of meats in freezers, funds in their 401(k)s and nice, gas-powered vehicles to get to work every day. We can get just about any type of fresh food on demand no matter how good or bad the weather affects the crops. We actually spend money and effort to make sure we have different color shoes to match the rest of our clothes. Even the poorest in America can watch DVDs and get ahold of all types of entertainment.

Yet if someone isn’t in the “1 percent” they don’t consider themselves rich. Sorry again. We are rich. Jesus never expected his teachings to apply country by country. He preached to the world. Compared to other nations on this planet, America IS the 1 percent. The lowest of the low can still get food, water, shelter and even cell phones. Our poor have options.

In third world countries, the poor can’t run down to Wal-Mart and get ahold of some new shoes, an iPad or a fresh packet of USDA-inspected beef.

We are rich. If we believe in Christ as a savior, then we should all be worried.

So we either need to reconsider how literal we take Christ’s teachings or we need to shed our riches and start wearing rags.

Which is it?

Covenient Capitalism

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Oil Barrel. Blue Oil Barrel, Metal Lid. Isolated.

 

It’s all fun and games until the oil runs out.

Every day more people are born and every day we keep sucking out drops of oil that can’t be replaced. Not to worry, capitalists tell us. Keep playing. Keep living your life. Don’t worry about the depleting supply of product that fuels our lifestyle.

As Ruppert said, oil is in everything. It’s in our paints, plastics, tires, building materials. On top of this of course, it powers the transportation methods used to move food, retail and people from one locale to another. Population is going up while the well is running dry. The math doesn’t lie.

For so long capitalism has been king because we’ve done quite well with it.

I think there will come a time when capitalism will no longer be practical for our overall survival. As human numbers continue to grow and our worldly largesse continues to dwindle at a rapid pace, consumption will have to be based on cooperation if we as a species want to remain on this Earth.  We may have to consider what’s best for all and not what’s best for “me and mine.”

We could go down the dark path: where capitalism remains an element of our social dynamic. Then, instead of cooperation, we’ll have all-out wars for food, water, fuel. The sky’s the limit. We’ll eat each other.

Now capitalists will tell you that won’t happen. I’m talking about the hardcore capitalists; the ones who go home every night and jack off to Ayn Rand and Wealth of Nations. Capitalism fuels competition and innovation. Therefore, if capitalism is allowed to remain in place, solutions will be discovered and once again, our selfishness will be our salvation. Nope. Sorry.

What exactly are you going to innovate when you run out of resources to market?

If the cooperation idea sounds like socialism, it is somewhat, but not in a political sense. Native Americans and a world of indigenous peoples have built societies on co-op economies. They didn’t do it for altruistic reasons either. They chose it because of the limited resources around them and the desire to help their own persevere.

Cooperation or greed? Which way are we going to go?

I’m betting on the latter. That “me and mine” mentality is primal. The instinct is so strong that we’ll fight each other to the death for the lives of ours.

Wealthy Recession

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Image

One of the most interesting things about American culture is the fear that the poor is out to bring us down. Welfare, entitlements, etc. We’re paying for their lifestyle and that’s destroying our country, apparently.

Here’s the thing though, they’re not quite the pariah that some people make them out to be.

Maybe instead we should be focusing on the people who have more control over our economy and access to jobs. No, not the government. I mean the corporate overlords.

We tend to concentrate on social welfare when times are bad. If I have to work for peanuts, I don’t see why they shouldn’t have to work too. They should know how to find a job.

When times are good though, we don’t care

I’m not worried about the welfare queens and the free loaders. I’m more worried about the Enrons, Worldcoms, Bear Stearns and AIGs out there. Welfare “reform” to me, is just a distraction from the true troublemakers in a fragile economy.

Corporate America and small business owners blame the impoverished for their own ills. I fail to see how that’s even possible. Welfare is only a tenth of U.S. budget. (I wonder though, how much in government contracts go to private industry. I’m betting it’s more than what we spend on food stamps.)

The poor is not our problem.

The rich and their exploitation of resources wreak more havoc on the economy and the working class than a mooch ever will. They point to the welfare babies (and now health care)as their excuse for fighting higher taxes.

Essentially, what they’re doing is attempting to dodge their responsibility as Americans, which is to contribute their fair share to the government of this country. Whatever the opinion of government people have, the bottom line is it needs revenue to operate. If you disagree with how it functions, change it. Vote.

What we can’t vote on is how business does business.

One thing we and the government could do is set aside the issue of welfare and start looking at giving corporate regulations more teeth. It wasn’t the borrowers that led to the housing crisis and the subsequent financial quagmire. It was the lenders.

It was the bankers who wanted to make money off the mortgage-backed securities who bankrupted the economy. When they were given bail out money, what did they do? They used it as golden parachutes rather than helping customers with homes underwater.

My feeling on the poor is this: I would rather have a system that is abused by leeches than to have no system at all. I don’t mind paying my taxes even when I know there are people using food stamps and driving Cadillacs.

What I can’t stand is when the rich drive around in Bentleys bought with blood money and profits made through layoffs.

I have no problem with business, I have to say. America is a capitalist system and I support that. Businesses should be allowed to seek profit for their services
and goods. They are the employers and clearly our system works both for them and employees.

But it isn’t the welfare nation that put us in a recession. It isn’t their decisions that sour the economy. They don’t control the purse strings.

Who does though?

 

Fundamental Rebel

Uncategorized

The Right is rising and it’s exactly the way they planned it. Conservatives have mounted campaigns against medical care, global warming and just about anything or anyone who disagrees with their views. They’ll even eat their own, those conservatives who have the nerve to go moderate.

Global warming isn’t real. Why isn’t it real? Well, because combating global warming would require a shift in how we use fossil fuels. Government medical care is evil. Why? Because it might provide an alternative to the broken, ineffective private insurance system that we suffer from now.

Any deviation requires a swift response from action groups funded by covert donors. Americans For Prosperity, the Koch bros, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Donors Trust et al will start filing information requests, issuing lawsuits and funding political opponents of those going off message.

They enlist starving, angry mobs like the Tea Party bullies and make these top-down organizations appear to be driven by volunteers. Ironically the Right uses the exact methods they warn everyone about. They derive black funding from corporations. They craft a seemingly unified, coherent message and install it through “grassroots organizations.” They try to coin phrases with honorable terminology although they mean to do the opposite. See “No Child Left Behind.” They call minority leaders “racist” because those leaders have the gall to defend the rights of their people. All bullshit.

You know, there’s a term that encapsulates all of this organized rancor, rabble rousing and denying science because it interferes with the economy. It’s called fundamentalism. I’ve never heard of anything productive coming from a case of flaming fundamentalism.

What exactly is the end game? I know the capitalists simply want to restore Laissez-faire. The unemployed simply want a job. The upper-middle class wants to stop paying taxes altogether. The religious? I don’t know exactly what their total aim is. Maybe they all want us to start going to church on Wednesdays and Sundays, wear slacks with our shirts tucked in and reverse the First Amendment so they can have Nativity scenes on courthouse steps.

Sorry, you toss all of that into a blender, no good can come of it.