Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 10, 2005

There Is No Trust

Hi barfly. Have a taste here

Assets at the end of December 1986 were about $47 billion; by the end of September 2004, assets totaled about $1,635 billion.
Social Security Income, Outgo, and Assets

not bad - and now take a nip of this drink

By law, all income to the trust funds that is not immediately needed to pay expenses is invested, on a daily basis, in securities guaranteed as to both principal and interest by the Federal government.
Social Security Administration Trust Fund FAQs

yeah, nice one - now this one is quite strong

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
US Constitution, Amendment XIV, Section 4.

and to feel even better and assured

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
US Constitution, Article II, Section 1, The Presidential Oath of Office

Tasted good so far? Hmm, I am sooo sorry

Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust. We're on the ultimate pay-as-you-go system -- what goes in comes out. And so, starting in 2018, what's going in -- what's coming out is greater than what's going in. It says we've got a problem. And we'd better start dealing with it now. The longer we wait, the harder it is to fix the problem.
Office of the Press Secretary: President Participates in Class-Action Lawsuit Reform Conversation, February 9, 2005

Impeach Bush.

Posted by b on February 10, 2005 at 0:43 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Please recommend here

Posted by: b | Feb 10 2005 0:59 utc | 1

Do we throw them a line?

Posted by: beq | Feb 10 2005 1:13 utc | 2

A friend sent me the following paper from his media and communications class. His prof was afraid to give it to the rest of the class for fear of retalitation from the school as he was only a first year adjuct. my friend and he hit it off on several contemporary issues, and the prof decided to share it w/my friend. I thought some here might be interested in it; it's somewhat long, but packed with incredible information so without further adue, for your amusment or edification :

The Sustained Psychological and Physiological Effect
of Mass Media on Behavior of General Populations

----------------

STOP: Moderator interupt. I deleted the rest of this some thousand word article posted in this comment. The original(?) can be found here.

@Uncle
- What is the relevance of that article to the topic? Is there one?
- Please provide a link to articles that are relevant and not copies of irrelevant rants.

Thanks
b. (8:35 PM)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 10 2005 1:15 utc | 3

I'm always amazed that people will actually choose to sit in front of the television and just be savaged by stuff that belittles their intelligence.

-Alice Walker, writer (1944- )

Posted by: catlady | Feb 10 2005 1:20 utc | 4

Bush would never bother to lie if he weren't doing it to oblige someone. So who might that be? Let me repeat myself: this social security move is "driven" by the brokers and bankers of the big Wall Street houses who have given scores of millions of dollars to Bush's political campaigns. Why does this not get discussed? It's not a mystery, and no one's hiding the numbers.

Posted by: alabama | Feb 10 2005 1:23 utc | 5

@alabama:

And let's not forget the hatred of all thing Roosevelt that he inherited from Grandpa Prescott.

Or as Eisenhower once said:

Dwight Eisenhower wrote his brother Edgar on May 2, 1956: "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again.... There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt...a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."


Posted by: FlashHarry | Feb 10 2005 1:37 utc | 6

WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I don't really understand. How is it the new [Social Security] plan is going to fix that problem?

DUBYA: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

cited by http://prorev.com/2005/02/dubya-as-second-language.htm>Sam Smith today.

"trust us, we know what we're talking about!"

Posted by: DeAnander | Feb 10 2005 1:55 utc | 7

More History:

LINK

Posted by: FlashHarry | Feb 10 2005 1:57 utc | 8

Bushie and his whole crew should be impeached just on the massive federal debt and lying about SS. Article II Section 4 of the US Constitution states: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Brinery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeaners."

I believe "misfeasance: the performance of a lawful action in an illegal or improper manner. Specifically: the performance of an official duty in an improper or unlawful manner or with an improper or corrupt motive."

I believe "corrupt motive" fits the bill real nice. Purposely trying to bankrupt SS and the country for idealogical reasons should be cause for impeachment.

Posted by: jdp | Feb 10 2005 2:00 utc | 9

@Flashharry - bad link

Posted by: b | Feb 10 2005 2:04 utc | 10

I don´t want to do a doublepost, but it seems this thread is the one that is most active and time might be important. I noted over on the doubleplusgood thread that the Talon News pages with Jeff Gannon are still (don´t know for how long) in Googles cache, and if those should be saved for any reason it is quite a hurry. I also mailed this to SusanG.

B - feel free to delete this post if you want to or a few hours has gone. It is more of a newsflash than a regular post.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Feb 10 2005 2:10 utc | 11

Matthew Yglesias

It seems to have become fashionable in the precincts of the contemporary right to start noting that these are "just IOUs," which is to say a promise that the money will be paid. The fact that all bonds are just IOUs, however, highlights the importance of making good on them. If I don't repay my debts, my creditors can seek legal remedies. Nobody, however, can stop the U.S. government (or any other government) from simply defaulting on its (considerable) debt by a simple legislative change. Our ability to borrow money at a reasonable price, however, is dependent on the perception by investors and foreign governments that Congress won't do this, even though it could.

Posted by: b | Feb 10 2005 2:11 utc | 12

FlashHarry, we've done a pretty thorough analysis of the ideology on this and other files. But we haven't seen a dollars and cents accounting of how much money those bankers and brokers stand to gain from this initiative. I'm sick to death of nigh-uninteliigible analyses of eventual payouts in social securtiy and the various costs thereof (for one thing, the analyses can get technical in ways that lose me completely, to my chagrin--as in the files of Brad DeLong). Why hasn't DeLong, or someone else, done a computer run on the money that will flow into the bank account of a managing director of Goldman Sachs? Or Citicorp? or Morgan Stanley? These places generate billions of dollars of profits annually, and their mouths at watering at the prospect of taking over social security. Is there no one out there who can tell us the facts of life about this sort of thing? Or if they can, why haven't they bothered to do so? I don't assume for minute, by the way, that they've already been bought by those Wall Street houses.

Posted by: alabama | Feb 10 2005 2:12 utc | 13

@B, it's your problem with Smirking Chimp I think. I'll cut and paste it.


By Steven Thomma, Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The argument for dramatic change in Social Security is clear:

The promise of secure retirements is a "hoax." Taxes paid by workers are "wasted" by the government rather than prudently invested. And "the so-called reserve fund ... is no reserve at all" because it contains nothing but government IOUs.

President Bush? No, Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon and his party's platform in 1936.

Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security wasn't born with the new forecasts of looming financial problems. It's the product of a conservative dream to undo the system that's as old as the program itself.

Conservatives started complaining that the system was a big-government boondoggle doomed to insolvency before the first check was sent out in January 1937. Their indictment has been part of conservative ideology ever since Barry Goldwater, whose doomed but defiant 1964 presidential campaign made him the father of the modern conservative movement, through Bush.

But it wasn't until relatively recently that conservatives saw a path to break the government's hold on Social Security. As envisioned in a 1983 master plan, the expansion of other private pension programs such as IRAs helped millions of Americans grow comfortable with the thought of making their own investments, and the bull markets of the `80s and `90s made those investments appear more lucrative than Social Security.

Still, the conservatives' goal throughout has been as much political as economic, as much about smaller government as bigger retirement checks. The only thing Bush has ruled out is the one thing that would grow the government system: higher taxes.

"Ever since the program was first created, conservatives understood it was a major expansion of the government," said Eric Patashnik, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. "And they've never liked that expansion."

Landon, of course, went on to lose the 1936 election in a landslide to Franklin D. Roosevelt, which reaffirmed the New Deal and set back the conservative cause severely. Just two years later, Roosevelt boasted that Social Security was already a "permanent" part of the political system.

Conservative opposition to Social Security all but disappeared from public debate for decades. Not until the 1960s did conservatives such as Goldwater and economist Milton Friedman open a new barrage of criticism.

"I wanted to make Social Security solvent, to improve it," Goldwater said. "The first thing wrong with Social Security is the fact that it is compulsory. Secondly, it is not actuarially sound: It promises more benefits to more people than the incomes collected will provide."

According to historian Michael Beschloss, Goldwater also said, "perhaps Social Security should be abolished."

Speaking for Goldwater in a 1964 televised speech that helped launch his own political career, Ronald Reagan endorsed the idea of turning retirement security over to the private sector.

"Can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen to do better on his own?" Reagan asked. "We are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program."

Goldwater, like Landon, lost in a landslide.

Elected president himself 16 years later, Reagan refused to call for any privatizing of Social Security. Instead, he signed a 1983 bailout that increased taxes and raised the retirement age to shore up the program.

That was when conservatives recognized their need for a long-term strategy keyed to the idea of offering people the benefits of making more money in private accounts, while making that option feel more mainstream and less risky.

"It's really after that that conservatives, particularly libertarians, began plotting for Social Security's eventual demise," Patashnik said. "They started laying the groundwork for the effort we see today by President Bush."

"A lot of conservatives thought Social Security was an unjustified invasion into the private sector," said Peter Ferrera, who wrote a detailed paper proposing private accounts that was published by a libertarian research center, the Cato Institute, in 1980.

"But they weren't getting anywhere because that was all negative politics," Ferrera said. "Personal accounts would work because that's positive politics. It's all positive and populist. That's the way something can be accomplished."

Influenced by Ferrera, Cato published a second paper in 1983 that served as a political manifesto for turning over at least some of Social Security to the private sector.

It recommended:

- Consistent criticism of Social Security to undermine confidence in it.

- Building a coalition of supporters for private accounts, including banks and other financial institutions that would benefit from them.

- Assuring "those already retired or nearing retirement that their benefits will be paid in full."

- Legislation making private savings plans such as individual retirement accounts more available and thus more familiar.

Making it easier for more Americans to set up accounts, authors Stuart Butler and Peter Germanis said, would make "it in practice a small-scale, private Social Security system that can supplement the federal system ... we will meet the next financial crisis in Social Security with a private alternative ready in the wings, an alternative with which the public is familiar and comfortable and one that has the backing of a powerful political force."

At another point, they said that expanding the IRA accounts "is purely political. Expanding the IRA system in this way would make it a private prototype of Social Security."

One thing they couldn't plan, but which benefited them greatly, was the bull market of the `80s and `90s. Soaring stock prices drew more people into the markets and made investing very attractive. In the 20 years after 1983, the percentage of eligible employees investing in private 401(k) retirement accounts soared from 38 percent to 75 percent, according to the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America.

Whether conservatives are on the verge of success at last in their quest remains to be seen. In 1936, they had no idea how long it might take. By 1983, they knew it would take time.

"We must be prepared for a long campaign," Butler and Germanis wrote. "It could be many years before the conditions are such that a radical reform of Social Security is possible.

"But then, as Lenin well knew, to be a successful revolutionary, one must be patient and consistently plan for real reform."

Reprinted from Knight Ridder Newspapers:

Posted by: FlashHarry | Feb 10 2005 2:15 utc | 14

Damned, I can see why Pat liked to cut'n paste: it's like firing a 50 cal. machine gun.

@Alabama:

And the 401k, besides getting corporations out from under defined benefits, was a very big boon for brokerages, also.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Feb 10 2005 2:26 utc | 15

FlashHarry, this windfall will make the 401k windfall look very small indeed. Further: since this industry is rather localized, I have trouble supposing that senators and congressmen from the northeast, however liberal their affiliations may be, would dream of resisting it in any serious way. I take this to be the reason tjat various coy demurrals and other kinds of "open-mindedness" are being expressed by folks who otherwise might not be so "open-minded". I'm particularly interested in the ebb and flow of Hillary Clinton and James Schumer on this score.

Posted by: alabama | Feb 10 2005 2:49 utc | 16

@b.
What is the relevance of that article to the topic? Is there one?
- Please provide a link to articles that are relevant and not copies of irrelevant rants.

First, With all due respect, where are the rules that say there is a word limit to what one can post here? I have read many many long posts here. Second, since when was there rules that one has to post on topic? Sure it is an unwritten ethic of the blogsphere, but it is by no means written in stone (or at least anywhere I can find on this page). And yes, after reading it on second preview it was a rant and a sophmorish one at that. That aside,
I think we are all asking ourselves what the hell is going on, how the fuck has the United States gone so bat shit crazy in the last few years under the Bush reign. How can so many people be so blind to whats going on. The one answer that keeps coming back to me over and over is "they are being manipulated" from media saturated brainwashed overfed drones, manipulated by unscrupulous power trippers into selecting their leaders from a pool of professional liars. And what is the most useful tool to do this? Television. If I could trick your window into showing you snow, I could make you wear a coat. " If I can show you what I want on your TV, no matter what major, "trustworthy" channel you are on, I can make you extremely unlikely to question authority and eager to forget what I said yesterday in favor of my explanation today"

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 10 2005 3:17 utc | 17

actually Uncle's version was easier to read... that web site (the link) is kind of a mess. it insists on expanding the browser to max (which looks like hell on my three headed display)... kind of an X-Phile site too :-)

I didn't think there was much question that TV addiction has done some kind of cognitive damage to 2 generations of Americans... what is hard to establish is how much and of what kind, since there is no control group...

Posted by: DeAnander | Feb 10 2005 3:26 utc | 18

De,

I think Uncle is saying we are the control group.

Oh, impeach Bush.

Posted by: jdp | Feb 10 2005 3:58 utc | 19

jdp,

"Misfeasance"? LOL. Sounds like a weasel word to me. Can't we finally ... ever? ... call them what they are? Rapacious crooks. Violent thugs. Rotten vermicious knids? Yea, verily, I say unto you.... ;-) Jebus would have called them what they are. Snakes. Viper's brood.

I'm a staunch defender of Uncle's dedication to waking people the hell up. Unless those of us who "mostly" get it can get a handle on how more than 30 years has gone into the making of this mess (well, okay... 40, or 50 or 60 or more) ... then we cannot continue to make silly recommendations about a bandaid here, and a bandaid there. No little patch to the system is going to fix it, despite the ever-springing hope eternal.

I think impeachment of both Bush, and Cheney, and Rumsferatu indicted and convicted would be a good start.

Otherwise, Gentle people... what's left is pitchforks, pikes, and torches after a lot more pain and death for the rest of us and the rest of the world's peoples.

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Feb 10 2005 4:51 utc | 20

Yes Kate, misfeasance is a word like malfeasance, etc.

I guess I do agree with you that we are building toward a depression era type time when people will again realize the kool-aid wasn't quite as tasty as the plutocrats portray it.

The regressive conservatives have the media, but you cannot stop economic momentum which is heading in the bankrupt direction.

Posted by: jdp | Feb 10 2005 5:09 utc | 21

If this administration loses Iraq but wins on Social Security privatization, it will have redeemed itself in the conservative (as opposed to neoconservative) cause. Success in Iraq isn't necessesary to the conservative - or libertarian - movement, but concrete progress on radical Social Security reform is. And unlike the case of Iraq, there's still plenty of time, and ample momentum, to succeed.

Posted by: Pat | Feb 10 2005 5:14 utc | 22

great post b! impeachment is just for starters.

we have not yet learned to think of technology as having ideology built into its very form. - jerry mander, four arguments for the elimination of television

Posted by: b real | Feb 10 2005 5:25 utc | 23

@Pat:

Te Hee Hee!

Keep believing it.

Are you Alf Landon's clone or what?

Posted by: FlashHarry | Feb 10 2005 5:32 utc | 24

No, Pat, Flash is right, the momentum - for his whole stolen second term - is Bush's to lose.

If he loses the SS project the opposition, which includes those in both parties, will strengthen.

And I pray for impeachment.

Posted by: stoy | Feb 10 2005 9:17 utc | 26

Sorry to deviate from the conversation.
Important Article about North Korea.
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/8f313504-7b32-11d9-9af4-00000e2511c8.html
Excerpt:
“We had already taken the resolute action of pulling out of the NPT (nuclear non-proliferation treaty) and have manufactured nukes for self-defence to cope with the Bush administration’s ever-more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement run by the official Korean Central News Agency. "The statement also said North Korea had built the weapons as a “nuclear deterrent for self-defense under any circumstances”. “The present reality proves that only powerful strength can protect justice and truth.”"


This is not a good time to be under 25.(me)

Posted by: Flip | Feb 10 2005 9:32 utc | 27

will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States

See, he has a way out of impeachment. He will merely say that he was not able to preserve, protect.......Who would disagree?

Posted by: dan of steele | Feb 10 2005 10:46 utc | 28

FlashHarry: I've seen Atrios saying a few times that brokers and all that private corporation bogus takes easily 20-30% of the profits made under such scheme of privatization. He could elaborate on it. Surely, "recovering economist" Mr. Black is one of those you should ask that question.

Uncle: looks like a good analysis. But when you say "what happened under Bush to make people so dumb and weird", I think you err. Astute observers - and probably most of the wide world outside America - has seen these tenencies since a long time. They were there many decades ago, except they were maybe not as pervasive. So, to which extent is it complete and true manipulation, and to which extent is it just comforting people in their opinions, or at least favoring the growth of the biased and bigoted thoughts many people have from time to time.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Feb 10 2005 11:26 utc | 29

TV not only alters minds, but brains too:
TV watching by babies, toddlers and young children is related to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

One article (with discussion.)
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/113/4/708>Pediatrics4/2004

Posted by: Blackie | Feb 10 2005 13:34 utc | 30

@de... since there is no control group...
au Contrare TELEVISION AND THE HIVE MIND
This if it isn't a control group it damn near is...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 10 2005 14:23 utc | 31

Thanks for the link, Uncle $cam.

Posted by: beq | Feb 10 2005 15:23 utc | 32

Pat

ample momentum

Where? Interesting is the problem even the most ardent traditional consevative has in defending an end to SS. SS socializes the costs of worker disability and retirement, something which capitalists wanted out of the New Deal.

Please refer me to a book or article that best explains why capitalists now want to abandon a program that benefits elite accumulation.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 10 2005 15:42 utc | 33

Pat

Thanks for coming back, btw.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 10 2005 15:43 utc | 34

MORE HISTORY

Peddling decades-old yellow snow, indeed.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Feb 10 2005 16:26 utc | 35

I'll preliminarily answer my own question. alabama is right: brokers want the windfall from privatization. There's also another reason. Declines in unionization and the outsourcing of manufacturing peculiar to the "postindustrial" economy may have diminished the original benefits of SS to elite accumulation. Therefore, destruction of the New Deal will effectively "feudalize" the economy by excluding middleclass and workers from policy formation in an effort to reduce wage-rates further and improve domestic labor productivity. And all along a highly "mediatized" public consistently produces plebiscatary agreement for this vast swindle.

So, pat, in a more concrete way, "momentum" for radical transformation of the welfare state and "momentum" in the impoverishment of citizens discovers itself in the false-consciousness of the masses.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 10 2005 16:29 utc | 36

Also, comrades: Let's not get too carried away about the great old New Deal. One of its chief products is the deplorable political pacification of the masses. The welfare state smothers practical consciousness of class conflict. We should work to intensify the legitimation crisis of welfare statism, while simultaneously offering a better means of resource distribution.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 10 2005 16:36 utc | 37

I'm inspired to use the inflammatory rhetoric of revolution after reading the Goff piece. AHHHH....feels good.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 10 2005 16:43 utc | 38

@slothrop did I miss something? which Goff piece?

I'm not sure to what extent I am inclined to cheer on the downfall of the Welfare State with revolutionary Schadenfreude. its current wounded, limping state already means hardship, poverty, squalor, despair for millions. to wish for more suffering, more despair, in the hope of inspiring a revolutionary consciousness -- I cannot quite bring myself to do this...

true practical consciousness of class conflict is brought about by conditions so horrendous that the status quo ante becomes literally worse than simply dying -- do we really want things to get that bad? or who knows, maybe it's myself I am worried about -- my own ability to survive such dislocations and hardships.

of course, if we don't do something major to alter the present course of commerce, politics, policy etc. then things will almost certainly "get that bad" anyway. what "better method" have we to offer, and how can we deal with the apparently insuperable problem of the vulgarisation of privilege -- i.e. the conviction of large masses of Americans that perpetual warfare, immense personal debt, national disgrace, creeping totalitarianism, anything is preferable to giving up their SUVs and big-screen TV's, the cornucopia of cheap slave-labour Chinese goods, the meat-every-day diet, the dirt-cheap air fares and Frequent Flyer Miles?

Posted by: DeAnander | Feb 10 2005 19:03 utc | 39

Naturally Bush in his second term would privatise SS (in part), as I posted several times. Surely he announced it often, no secret. He owes big bucks to his supporters who have gone out on a limb. They agree to this thing, everyone will get rich (except workers.) Ach sure, Bush would go for the ancient ‘conservative agenda’ and would triumph on that issue, even if in foreign climes (Afgh. Iraq. Yugo. Haiti. Afrika..), not to mention China, etc. things are not looking too cheery.

Money is money. Wealth is wealth. Worth it. Payback, too.

The move has been planned for many years.

Can anyone stop him, I doubt it.

Posted by: Blackie | Feb 10 2005 19:12 utc | 40

deanander

I think b real posted the http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7211>Goff piece.

Not to reveal too much about myself, I massively depend on SSDI.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 10 2005 19:15 utc | 41

Yes, Blackie, they can stop it, and for a somewhat comic reason. We in America worship wealth; we identify with wealth; we want wealth. Wealth, for us, is real--it may be the one and only real thing, more real even than health. Now where do we, the average men and women, think our wealth can be found, if indeed we have any wealth at all? The answer is Social Security. So the same greed that drives Bush to plunder Social Security is driving its participants and beneficiaries to fend him off. He doesn't see this, of course, because he can only focus on the greed of the brokers and the greed of the rather young, whose only real fear is that they won't be able to join the fun when their turn comes up in...is it 2018? 2042? 2072? Well, I forget....but if the Democrats can just take pains to keep the piñata away from Bush and the folks who own him, they stand an excellent chance of winning this particular fight. Medicare/Medicaid, of course, is another question entirely.

Posted by: alabama | Feb 10 2005 19:23 utc | 42

De, your take on the status of wealth present and future is about right as far as it goes; sloppy and unfathomable. Certainly very little fairnesss to it at all, now or then.

You seem to be searching for a neat solution which makes everyone happy including yourself (you did admit that). I'll try to repeat what I've said a few times in the past, which is that the very culture we have developed over the last few centuries is unsustainable.

Until recently most of the people lived primitively, close to the earth, growing their own food, hunting, fishing, logging, trading locally. That era is fading fast. Too many people and too many parasites, that is those who accumulate and control money for its own sake.

This dead-end cannot be fixed by more rules and laws that try to spread out the wealth again; it can only crash. I've tried to imagine how the populace would react to SUV fuel at $20 per gallon, TV through which can be seen only propaganda, ration cards for grocery shopping, neighbors who keep a hotline to the office of Homeland Security in case I do something unpatriotic.(I have some of these) The list goes on.

I finally get an image like the old Australian movies in which a bunch of isolated rebel survivors cobble together a car from junk parts and make raids on the established beachead for food, women, whatever. Throw in some radiation sickness too.

Enjoy your comforts while you can.

BTW in my area (smallish part of Virginia) the quantity of wild venison available to hungry people has risen to near 400,000 lb. per year which is nearly 7000 deer carcasses. Keeps the hunters happy, the exploding deer population down a little, and feeds quite a few mouths.

Posted by: rapt | Feb 10 2005 20:07 utc | 43

@rapt, gasoline is 7$/gal in Europe, has been close to that for more than 25 years (in real terms), and civilsation as we know it has not changed...

@De - in france, we have various groups of trotskysts, and in recent elections, they got up to 5-10% of the votes, and got representatives in regional parliaments and (between 1999 and 2004) in the European Parliament). There was one highly publicised vote of the European parliament that would have improved the conditions of the workers in European corporations; it was narrowly defeated because the French trotskysts voted against it, saying explicitly that anything that made the current system more palatable would delay the revolution... The socialists and even the communists (a lot of those too in France) were furious...

@TV - Le Monde published a couple of days ago an article about a scientifcs study that apparently showed more correlation between obesity in kids and the time spent in front of TV that with any other factor (including practising sports)... apparently it's the enforced passivity that's to blame.
(I also read recently another study (over at Kevin Drum) that showed that obesity was very directly and inversely correlated to whether you are fidgety or not. Nervous people spent up to 300 calories more per day, which is enough to explain away a big numer of extra pounds....)

Sorry, no links, I am lazy. That Chinese piece took me waaay too much time yesterdai night, dorectly off my sleep.

Posted by: Jérôme | Feb 10 2005 21:07 utc | 44

J: more than 25 years (in real terms), and civilsation as we know it has not changed...

Where you been for those 25 years J? OK OK yr right, but I'm not betting on the next 25 to be so easy.

Posted by: rapt | Feb 10 2005 22:45 utc | 45

@ rapt, I'm starting to share your dim view. Does living in Virginia do that to you? At the time of the Cuban missile crisis, my Dad (CIA) said that if anything happened our family should meet at a small cabin in Highland County. I thought it was so silly at the time...

Posted by: beq | Feb 11 2005 0:16 utc | 46

I heard an interview w/Jeremy Rifkin today. He didn't cite the source of his statistics, but he's a reliable source, so I'll repeat what he said. (He just wrote bk. comparing xAmerica w/Europe.) He said the xUS ranked in income distribution in Industrial Nations(generous definition of that) - 3rd from the bottom - just above Mexico & Russia among ~28 nations.

Suppose we make a deal w/the right wingers who support the destruction of Soc. Sec. Link them to military pensions. If they want to destroy Soc. Sec., which is the pension system of last resort for working Americans, fine, but your pension system will be destroyed too. Still like it????? Didn't think so!!

@De, did you notice that Gov. Gropenfuhrer, under Uncle Miltie's guidance, is trying to Piratize the Ca. State Pension funds? Keep yr. boat handy! Great sailing & low cost of living in Greece!

Posted by: jj | Feb 11 2005 3:49 utc | 47

De, your take on the status of wealth present and future is about right as far as it goes; sloppy and unfathomable. Certainly very little fairnesss to it at all, now or then.

You seem to be searching for a neat solution which makes everyone happy including yourself (you did admit that). I'll try to repeat what I've said a few times in the past, which is that the very culture we have developed over the last few centuries is unsustainable.

Pardon rapt, but your text is a trifle ambiguous -- is it my post that's "sloppy and unfathomable," or the mysterious process of wealth accumulation and maldistribution? I just like to know when I'm getting bad reviews :-)

I have no quarrel with your diagnosis of the unsustainable expansionist ethic that has dominated (literally) the world for several centuries. Expansionism at this point is visibly, obviously, a form of madness. We persist in it at our well-documented peril; and we are even now trying to http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0210-12.htm>silence those who document that peril.

What I wonder is whether ours will be a chaotic, uncontrolled collapse or a sensible, pragmatic abandonment of grandiose fantasies and a settling-down to live within our means. The odds on the former seem higher than on the latter. OTOH, the odds on nuclear annihilation seemed pretty good about 40 years ago, and somehow (partly by dumb luck) we squeaked through that terrifying moment. Dare we hope that we will just barely squeak through again as this new cusp of crisis approaches?

I have nothing that can be accurately called "hope" for the future -- other than a vague selfish wish that I personally will manage to hide from, or not live long enough to see, the worst of the brick-wall event. What I see in the future of humanity in my current cloudy and dark crystal ball is either catastrophic collapse, or slow inexorable decline in both living standards and liberties. If the US becomes -- as it seems to be preparing for -- a walled garrison state jealously defending its stolen goods in an increasingly hungry world, there will be no real freedom for anyone inside the garrison.

I think I can face a reduction in "living standards" -- I already do without a car quite happily, don't fly much, and can eat simply without feeling much deprivation (rice and beans work for me and I can always grow greens). But the reduction in liberty -- restrictions on movement, the surveillance society, the informers, the stifling bureaucracy of HSA, the whole Soviet-style hegemonic militarised State apparatus, the intelprop Enclosures -- it all fills me with dread. How long before I won't be allowed to grow my tomatoes and greens because all our plant stock will be infected with patented GMO sequences, and I can't afford to pay off the extortionists?

Another world seems so very possible, so nearly within reach, so vivid and obviously preferable to the course we're on now. And yet the forces arrayed against the transition to that other world are immense, implacable, and frankly insane; we are up against heavily armed madmen who would rather see the world burn than let it turn into a place where they no longer own everything and control everything.

Sorry, it's late and I'm raving a bit. It is strangely difficult to live without a future that one can look forward to. As Mose Allison wrote, "I'm not downhearted -- but I'm getting there."

Posted by: DeAnander | Feb 11 2005 8:06 utc | 48

OTOH, the odds on nuclear annihilation seemed pretty good about 40 years ago, and somehow (partly by dumb luck) we squeaked through that terrifying moment. Dare we hope that we will just barely squeak through again as this new cusp of crisis approaches?

yes, let's hope - work like hell, and pray hard - "we may be about to fall, but let's go down fighting - underneath it all, we are here together - eyes that have seen will know what i mean" - todd rundgren's song 'just one victory'

Posted by: mistah charley | Feb 11 2005 15:02 utc | 49

@De

The clue to the reference of "it" is in the next sentence where the mysterious "it" is assigned very little fairness. Of course I would never see any of your commentary in that light.

Those implacable forces that you see arrayed against the dream of transition are the ones that are causing a crash. None of us can know whether or how they can be stopped at this point. The key is that the nastiest of the front men like Bush and Rove and Cheney, Rummy are all replaceable, expendable as it were - as long as the system remains in place.

So far we have no hard evidence against their masters - not even sure who they are, and even if we did we then have no means for bringing them down. In other words the hierarchy extends up out of our reach.

To me there is a strange similarity between the God of the fundies and the not-so-fundy on the one hand, and those beings who landed in Sumeria thousands of years ago to establish a colony on Earth. In both cases it is a power way out of the reach of mortal humans which is finessing our development; and so both these powers may be the same.

If you throw Lucifer into the mix (who is controlling the neoneanderthals in this instance) it becomes a very interesting conflict. Don't let it cause depression.

Posted by: rapt | Feb 11 2005 15:51 utc | 50

You know rapt, I can't tell which parts of that last post were meant to be serious.

Posted by: Colman | Feb 11 2005 16:19 utc | 51

@Colman

Kind of scattered and unfocused I admit. The topic is too big.

Posted by: rapt | Feb 11 2005 17:26 utc | 52

@rapt, I fear you've gone a bit too far out there for me in that last :-) sounds like the Shadows vs the Vorlons... seems to me that human malfeasance and folly are all we need to explain our situation -- von-Daniken theories aren't really required...

Posted by: DeAnander | Feb 11 2005 18:19 utc | 53

De,

Hey I admitted that the last was not well presented.

To attribute this long term spiral into chaos to human malfeasance and folly means you have to call the players-in-charge either stupid, which they are not, or driven by some irrational ideology. This last in my opinion is non-human, hence my assignment of the ultimate responsibility to another species, undefined as it may be at present.

We are all so accustomed to this non-human behavior because it has been with us for as far back as anyone can remember, spotty and hard to pin down at times, but common enough to establish a strong precedent. We have come to accept it as the norm. TV helps.

More recently these "implacable forces" have gotten it all together for the final push to the finish. We can all feel the push; it is scary.

Now I have read a bit about some of these other-worldly beings and one quality that pops up repeatedly is that the greys for all their intelligence cannot conceive of love, fairness, compassion. For this discussion that is the non-human trait that matters. To them it is perfecly OK to murder 3000 people at a whack. To humans it is not. Likewise with invading and killing thousands of non-threatening citizens, inventing false crises to justify sacrificing soldiers, etc etc.

I am proposing that yes we have a long history of this behavior, and it has been designed and instigated by others (not necessarily a fixed condition of the human nature) but now that the end, whatever that is, is near, the cover is too unweildy, the wraps are loose in the rush to take total control by a certain time.

Not human.

Posted by: rapt | Feb 11 2005 19:39 utc | 54

Uh, yea, whatever rapt.

Anyhow, De, I do like the reference. Isn't B5 the the spookiest foreshadowing of current events?

Posted by: Colman | Feb 11 2005 21:09 utc | 55

Wapos Dan Froomkin White House Briefing makes a very, very good point.

If the Trust Fund is really, as Bush says, not existent, why pay more income tax than is needed to keep it balanced?

Let's assume that the president really believes that the Social Security trust fund doesn't exist. And let's just forget about the past two decades, during which workers overpaid more than a trillion dollars in payroll taxes. We'll write that off to an unfortunate misunderstanding.

But now take this one more step. Shouldn't Bush therefore call for an immediate cut in payroll taxes, effective immediately?

If Social Security is really pay-as-you-go, and any excess payroll tax revenue just goes into the general fund, why are American workers paying more than it costs to run the program? Why should they overpay Social Security payroll taxes for one more minute -- if in fact it doesn't do the Social Security system any good at all?

The latest numbers I've seen show that American workers this year will pay about $70 billion more in payroll taxes than will get paid out in benefits and administrative expenses. And it's a brutal tax. It's not the least bit progressive. In fact, because it's flat -- and capped at about $90,000 of annual income -- it's vastly tougher on the working poor than it is, say, on millionaires. Not to mention billionaires.

The only reason it's been socially acceptable to keep such a high, regressive tax on the books is that the system it was ostensibly keeping alive for the future returns money in a highly progressive way.

But if -- as of now -- that's not really the case, how can anyone defend it? A capped payroll tax is a pretty harsh way to raise $70 billion a year for the general fund

Posted by: b | Feb 11 2005 21:29 utc | 56

Good Find B.

Doubt Bush would agree with Froomkin's reasoning.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Feb 11 2005 22:10 utc | 57

FH: Froomkin's reasoning.

Scuse me but is there any other way of reading it? Gotta say I'm surprised that so few have faced up to Dub on his ass-backwards way of trying to put one over on the people. Its like a 3000 watt spotlight in the face screaming lie lie lie and we discuss it like it is a reasonable policy position. Geeez.

Posted by: rapt | Feb 11 2005 22:25 utc | 58

rapt

we've fucked this world up so efficiently & with such rigour - what other fucking species would want to intervene - we have become mutant a long time before that word was coined. we are so diseased with our own grandeur that we have become less than we are

fermi szilard neummann oppenheimer & all the apes who created choises at los alamos are in essence no different from heisenberg, eichmann & heydrich or any other collection of cruel fools

we have pissed in the waters of our own creation & we drinkl from that & we wonder why we are in & out of dementia most of our days & nights

we wouldn't know conception, culture, or creation if it hit us over the head with a baseball bat. what we have done in our babylon is living proof of our criminal stupidity

& in our criminal stuupidity we have left a space for all the gangster of this & that absolute pissing their pants at the thought of their victories

but what do their victories matter - each victory of the modern world has made us smaller men

i f i was another species i wouldn't touch our planet with a barge pole - we are efficient endgamers in any case & another species would be swamped by our stupidity

no the mafeaseance as deanander says is human all too human

we are all of us in our way mad col kurtz's somewhere up the jungle writing our thesis as the world burns in flames before us - burnt by human hands - cruel & callous - as any critical mass

& this species that we are - that we have become - are as pathetic an attempt at vision as is at all possible

rapt, that is the sad & elemental truth - humans have buried humanity & if this world does not learn to resist in a real & in an active way - we will deserve all that befalls us

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 11 2005 22:38 utc | 59

r'giap, I was wondering where you were.

Yes, we've fucked this one up all by ourselves. No need of outside help, or even overarching conspiracies.

I'm a little more hopeful than you, but I have to be: I'm only young.

I missed you when I asked about Marxist texts recently.

Posted by: Colman | Feb 11 2005 22:50 utc | 60

hello rgiap, notre cher Jeremiah... one of the few people who make me feel like an optimist! you've been quiet of late and I hope the reason is not ill health...

speaking of the unspeakable, i.e. our race to screw up the biotic infrastructure beyond the point of no return, http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/021005X.shtml>The Canadian Gummint has knuckled under -- or been bought -- and now approves Monsanto Terminator Seeds. "of course," says Monsanto, "this gene tweak cannot possibly cross over into wild flora or OP seed stock." and that's what they told us about RR tweaks which then happily crossed into wild species. nice for them, sales of glyphosate skyrocketed as farmers were caught in the baited trap.

O Canada. O Shame.

Posted by: DeAnander | Feb 11 2005 23:03 utc | 61

@Rapt, Re:Froomkin:

Guess I should have done one of these: /snark/.

I, of course, really liked B's cite.

@R. Giap:

Thought you had got buried by the imperialists' D-9s and drag lines. Nice to see you above ground still.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Feb 11 2005 23:09 utc | 62

RR tweaks?

Posted by: Colman | Feb 11 2005 23:20 utc | 63

deanander/colman/flashharry

no, i'm still on two legs tho i am learning fast that it might be better to do this on all four

the criminal case against the lawyer stewart in new york has saddened me no end - the pithy liberal repsonses to ward churchill have had me looking into the abyss

our thinkers need not be perfect - but where their racines are not in resistance - especially at a time like this - criminalises them

churchill - no matter how flawed the individual is one of the few real militants of the 60's who has not been slaughtered, incarcerated for the rest of his natural life, or turned into a talkshow host or been fucked in the ass by his own utopianism

i respect him just for being alive

& after all - what was eichmann if not a technician - & in this junta of bush & cheney & of clinton & bush before him & the rest of their slimey & cruel breed have bred real criminals who would make eichmann seem as small a man as he was

there were those here who wanted to defend a negroponte or any one of his number - their criminal acts far surpass those of eichman - who was nothing much more than a clerk - he was not an initiator like abrams for example - or any of that creep crew who slimed their way from reagan to here

& these are real criminals with criminal deeds - that justify punishment. the tragedy of the case against stewart is that a lawyer is being judged by a justice that isn't & hasn't been for a long long time. she will be the the first of her number & the years that come will see many of us victimised, incarcerated or worse

no, i am not optimistic - the neocons are just the more vulgar articulation of capital's desire for vengeance & it is vengeaful - not happy just to have 'won' - it wants to destroy the great humanist impulses that came before them

as dylan sd the wheels of fire are burning

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 11 2005 23:28 utc | 64

& it is vengeful - not happy just to have 'won'

like I said a while back, "sore winners."

not enough to have more than the other guy, gotta flaunt it in his face and make rude gestures, neener neener. not enough to flaunt and insult, gotta starve him until he kisses ass to stay alive, gotta cheat him blind and steal his stuff. not enough to keep him subservient and smooching and desperate, gotta kill the inferior critter because he might dare to raise his eyes and covet the overlord's goods and status.

hey, death penalty for stepping on my shadow, lowly slave! the thing about the lust for power is that there's never enough -- that quivering little hermit crab cowering inside the gorgeous spiky towering stolen shell never feels safe enough, always has to have More, kill More, stomp More into the mud... thus the Ford Synus (among other things) imho -- the empty ghost is never filled, the hateful heart never rests easy. more locks, more fences, more janissaries, more bombs, more mass graves... and it's never enough.

Posted by: DeAnander | Feb 11 2005 23:50 utc | 65

as dylan sd the wheels of fire are burning

The line that keeps going through my head since the beginning of this year is:

"...two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl."

Whatever it is, I feel it is now very close.

Posted by: lonesomeG | Feb 12 2005 1:48 utc | 66

hey rgiap, about the Stewart case which I agree is a terrifying precedent and takes us one step closer to rule by Imperial whim --

Lest anyone be confused that this is the work solely of the Bush administration, the rule under which Ms. Stewart is being charged was put in place by the administration that was responsible for putting our prison population up to the 2 million mark and throwing untold numbers of poor women into the street… that would be Arkansas Bill’s administration. Until Slick Willy came along, it was a lawyer’s job to communicate for her client to the outside world, but the Department of Justice under Clinton fixed that with something called the SAM - Special Administrative Measure, an elastic clause that basically tells the court that the DOJ can arbitrarily cut any and all communication between defendants (who have not yet been convicted) and the entire world. Bush just one-upped Clinton after 9-11 by finding ways to hold people without charging them at all, and strenghtened the existing SAMs. In effect, these are blanket gag orders that have nothing to do with protecting the integrity of judicial proceedings, but everything to do with legally disarming defendents who are facing the DOJ, and now everything to do with intimidating attorneys and erasing attorney-client privilege.

from http://www.stangoff.com/>"Feral Scholar" Stan Goff today. basically the SAM is the modern oubliette. prisoners can disappear into the US CJS -- maybe we should just call it the CS since the whole system is bloody criminal and has damn-all to do with justice -- and never be heard from again. pair this with the recent attempts to redefine just about anything as "Turrism" and you have the Lego blocks for the new edition of the KGB -- or SAVAK, or pick your own favourite midnight-knock, unmarked-car, unmarked-grave police state. Edmond Dantes would find it all too familiar.

Posted by: DeAnander | Feb 12 2005 1:54 utc | 67

RGiap,

Our criminal stupidity has given humans in the West lovely houses with indoor toilets, slick transport, thrills, endless food, new liberty and long lives; the culture, education, free time and technology that makes this discussion possible.

I recall that Plato wrote a screed against the technology of writing - writing killed memory, or something. I digress.

Yes, we are pathetic endgamers. Greed; agression, domination of others; exploiting or raping nature are a constant of human history.

Maybe this state of affairs is inevitable: (en vrac!) socio-biology, social Darwinism, the ugliness of 'human nature', 'selfish genes', etc. Viewed in that way, we are no different from bacteria or rats, who multiply, adapt, compete, and sometimes head straight for disaster, extinction, through overshoot, gigantic footprints..

A common solution is harking back to the past, when there were not so many people on earth, seeing some past time (or aspects thereof!) as representing an ideal of balance with nature, a right way of living, etc. But these views are just snapshots of vaguely understood and idealised static states, a murky nostalgia for organic agriculture, the Wild West, proper relations to Deities, and so forth, depending on regions, culture, myths, etc. Such views ignore the present and say nothing about the future.

Another solution is technotopia, or a cornucopia provided by Man's smarts. Science will provide, analytical skills are useful (true enough), Nature's limits are not a problem...Democracy, cold fusion, wind farms, women's lib and loving child care, adjusting banking or corporate law will see us all straight! Arr-hem.

With the means to hand tremendous things could be done. Why pragmatic solutions aren't, or can't be implemented, is what needs to be understood. Is man's inhumanity to man (and others) a given? Or can it be overcome?

Goodnight. Very late here.

Posted by: Blackie | Feb 12 2005 2:03 utc | 68

I hesitate to even say this because it is not so much political as introspective, but we probably have to work both these angles to stay on balance. Lately, I have been surprised to discover that rough and aggressive unvoiced thoughts I once viewed as trivial and invisible habits are actually a kind of delusion, repetitive thoughts through which I accept violence and aggression which I would rather mourn in saner moments.

We have met the reptiles and they are us.

I grow no less brutal myself till I make my humane thoughts my work.
Mostly I want to thank everyone here for the dialogue. So many people here disciplining themselves in humane and effective thinking.

obligado

Posted by: Citizen | Feb 12 2005 4:12 utc | 69

Thank you citizen for making the point of why we are all here hashing things over - it makes me feel pretty good.

@Colman...

Further to my reading on ETs, another species has been tentatively identified which is especially good at spreading the art of denial. Very few sightings have been recorded, but experts are able to track this elusive creature by following the effects of its work, and find most of its spoor in regions around newspapers, television studios and legislative meeting halls.

It is in these areas where the most blatant and sometimes creative denials are found, often comprising made-up non-facts, hidden and ignored true-facts, back-slapping, glad-handing and a host of other symptoms which are known to be caused by this elusive species.

Confirmation is in process, and more sightings are reported weekly. A name will be assigned after more details are recorded, like color, shape and blood type.

Posted by: rapt | Feb 12 2005 15:28 utc | 70

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