Monday, November 29, 2010

The price of environmental destruction? There is none.

Andrew Simms
guardian.co.uk


'There is no wealth but life' ... smoke issues from a
factory in Anfeh, Lebanon.
Photograph: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images




The economy is no stranger to creating its own fantasy world with little or no relation to the real one. We witnessed the damage that can cause when the banks thought they had stumbled on financial alchemy and could transform bad debt into good – economic base metal into gold.


Now it's possible that a much bigger error is coming to light. The rise and rise of global corporations lifted on a wave of apparent productivity gains may have been little more than a mask for the reckless liquidation of natural capital. It's as if we've been so distracted by our impressive speed of economic travel that we forgot to look at the fuel gauge or the cloud of smog left in our wake.


A new UN report estimates that accounting for the environmental damage of the world's 3,000 biggest companies would wipe out one-third of their profits. Any precise figure, however, is a matter of how risk is quantified and of where you draw the line. In 2006, for example, the New Economics Foundation (NEF), of which I am the policy director, looked at the oil companies BP and Shell, who together had recently reported profits of £25bn. By applying the Treasury's own estimates of the social and environmental cost of carbon emissions, we calculated that the total bill for those costs would reach £46.5bn, massively outweighing profits and plunging the companies into the red.


Yet in exercises like this, we quickly hit the paradox of environmental economics. By putting a price on nature, hopefully it makes it less likely that we will treat the world, and its natural resources, as if it were a business in liquidation. Yet there is a point when it becomes meaningless to treat the ecosystems upon which we depend as mere commodities with a price for trading. For example, what price would you put on the additional tonne of carbon which, when burned, triggers irreversible, catastrophic climate change? Who would have the right to even consider selling off the climate upon which civilisation depends? The avoidance of such damage is literally priceless.


If that sounds dramatic, consider that last September a large, international group of scientists published a paper in the journal Nature which identified nine key planetary boundaries for key biological systems upon which we depend. They found that we had already transgressed three of those, and were on the cusp of several others. All are potential points of no return as such complex systems begin interacting.

The huge advantage of the UN work is that it attempts to improve the feedback system between the economy and its ultimate parent company, the biosphere. Better risk assessment and value measurement is essential to help prevent what happened to banks happening to the planet.


The concept of a balanced budget, so loved by conservatives in relation to finance and spending, seems to be an alien concept when the consumption of natural resources and the production of waste is concerned. Yet it is far more important to achieve a balanced environmental budget than an economic one. You can always print more money, but you can't print more planet. As John Ruskin put it, "There is no wealth but life."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Time for a U.S. Revolution – Fifteen Reasons

Bill Quigley

It is time for a revolution. Government does not work for regular people. It appears to work quite well for big corporations, banks, insurance companies, military contractors, lobbyists, and for the rich and powerful. But it does not work for people.

The 1776 Declaration of Independence stated that when a long train of abuses by those in power evidence a design to reduce the rights of people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the peoples right, in fact their duty to engage in a revolution.

Martin Luther King, Jr., said forty three years ago next month that it was time for a radical revolution of values in the United States. He preached “a true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.” It is clearer than ever that now is the time for radical change.

Look at what our current system has brought us and ask if it is time for a revolution?

Over 2.8 million people lost their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions – nearly 8000 each day – higher numbers than the last two years when millions of others also lost their homes.

At the same time, the government bailed out Bank of America, Citigroup, AIG, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the auto industry and enacted the troubled asset (TARP) program with $1.7 trillion of our money.

Wall Street then awarded itself over $20 billion in bonuses in 2009 alone, an average bonus on top of pay of $123,000.

At the same time, over 17 million people are jobless right now. Millions more are working part-time when they want and need to be working full-time.

Yet the current system allows one single U.S. Senator to stop unemployment and Medicare benefits being paid to millions.

There are now 35 registered lobbyists in Washington DC for every single member of the Senate and House of Representatives, at last count 13,739 in 2009. There are eight lobbyists for every member of Congress working on the health care fiasco alone.

At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations now have a constitutional right to interfere with elections by pouring money into races.

The Department of Justice gave a get out of jail free card to its own lawyers who authorized illegal torture.

At the same time another department of government, the Pentagon, is prosecuting Navy SEALS for punching an Iraqi suspect.

The US is not only involved in senseless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S. now maintains 700 military bases world-wide and another 6000 in the US and our territories. Young men and women join the military to protect the U.S. and to get college tuition and healthcare coverage and killed and maimed in elective wars and being the world’s police. Wonder whose assets they are protecting and serving?

In fact, the U.S. spends $700 billion directly on military per year, half the military spending of the entire world – much more than Europe, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and Venezuela - combined.

The government and private companies have dramatically increased surveillance of people through cameras on public streets and private places, airport searches, phone intercepts, access to personal computers, and compilation of records from credit card purchases, computer views of sites, and travel.

The number of people in jails and prisons in the U.S. has risen sevenfold since 1970 to over 2.3 million. The US puts a higher percentage of our people in jail than any other country in the world.

The tea party people are mad at the Republicans, who they accuse of selling them out to big businesses.

Democrats are working their way past depression to anger because their party, despite majorities in the House and Senate, has not made significant advances for immigrants, or women, or unions, or African Americans, or environmentalists, or gays and lesbians, or civil libertarians, or people dedicated to health care, or human rights, or jobs or housing or economic justice. Democrats also think their party is selling out to big business.

Forty three years ago next month, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in Riverside Church in New York City that “a time comes when silence is betrayal.” He went on to condemn the Vietnam War and the system which created it and the other injustices clearly apparent. “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing oriented” society to a “person oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

It is time.

Idea errónea de los Estados Unidos de la Libertad

S. Paul Forrest


América fue fundada en un intento de escapar de la opresión no sólo de la expresión religiosa, sino también la falsedad de un sistema monárquico que se preocupaba sólo por la proliferación y los intereses de la clase elite.  Después de 250 años, nos hemos encontrado en la misma posición que los que salieron de Europa por estas tierras hace mucho tiempo; oprimidos de un sistema que sólo quiere a sí mismo antes de servir a los ciudadanos que lo apoyan. Dicen que la historia se repite y en ninguna parte es esto más evidente que en el caso de la América moderna de los políticos, poniendo sus titiriteros corporativos y el programa dañino de patriotismo falso ante las necesidades de la gente.
Para entender cómo hemos llegado a la conclusión errónea de que Estados Unidos es de alguna manera una nación libre, hay que llegar a un entendimiento de qué tipo de sistema político que existe en este país y cómo se añade o resta valor a nuestro sistema social, conforme a la nuestros antepasados.
También debemos reconocer el deterioro de nuestro sistema en el reloj del exceso de celo casi patriotismo que ha servido para iniciar el actual Estado de Policía en el lugar y el crecimiento en Estados Unidos.
En primer lugar, es importante entender que no vivimos en una democracia como la mayoría de la gente ha hecho creer, Estados Unidos es una República en la que se conceden la oportunidad de elegir a los representantes de selección para tomar decisiones por nosotros. Nuestros antepasados fueron aprendido lo suficiente para entender que una democracia pura no era posible en una sociedad compleja, sobre todo la que ellos estaban estableciendo. En una democracia, si bien promocionado como el sistema ideal para la libertad de las personas a decidir todos los asuntos de Estado, la minoría sólo tiene los privilegios otorgados por la dictadura de la mayoría.
En una democracia, la soberanía está en el grupo mientras que en una República, la soberanía está en cada persona individual.
El problema con una República sin embargo, son los derechos inherentes de las personas se entreguen a la emisión del voto para la representación. Después de esta acción ha tenido lugar, nuestro destino está en manos de los políticos que, con la deficiencia humana innata del pecado, representan nuestros intereses. Este tipo de sistema se creó porque la idea de una sociedad compleja decidir todos los aspectos del gobierno y de la minoría cada vez representados no era realista.
La idea de que nosotros, el pueblo podía ser eficazmente atendidas por aquellos que están preocupados no con la continuación de nuestra libertad, sino con el desarrollo y la proliferación de auto-servicio ha sido muy desacreditada por la realidad de este, nuestro modelo moderno de representación.
Para entender nuestra libertad o falta de ella, es importante reconocer qué tipo de sistema político que existe dentro de nuestra estructura social en la que ponemos nuestra fe cada periodo electoral. Este país es actualmente dirigido y controlado por un sistema de dos partidos que determina para nosotros, el "libre" a los votantes, que podemos votar. La elección de los candidatos es determinado por las propias partes como a los representantes adecuada de sus intereses y no los intereses del pueblo estadounidense. Incluso el auto-denominado "Partido por la Libertad" o fiesta del té, es sólo una extensión de esta edad, dos caras de la moneda.
Podemos votar por el menor de los males o sufrir la consecuencia de otros votar por nosotros.
En el sistema político estadounidense, en las palabras de James Madison, Jack N. Rakove, de la Universidad de Stanford, escribe, "Madison supone políticos ... sería capaz de imponer la lealtad de un gran número de votantes. Una vez en el cargo, que actuará con un espíritu de apertura, que elevaría la calidad de la vida pública. Ellos no piensan en términos de los intereses inmediatos de sus electores, sino del bien público más amplio, que es sinónimo con el concepto de la propia opinión pública. La virtud que ya no podía esperar a residir en el pueblo todavía se pueden encontrar, que espera que, en sus gobernantes. "Está claro desde el sistema actual que esta suposición era errónea.
Nuestros políticos modernos son en gran medida auto-servicio y la calidad de nuestras vidas directa relación con nuestra libertad de votar por la representación verdadera.
Madison, obviamente, tenía gran confianza en que un funcionario electo que a través del tiempo y pensar de manera similar como él y sus colegas con respecto a la consideración intelectual de la jerarquía establecida. Los efectos de esta declaración era, en teoría, contribuir a la libertad permanente de las personas. Con la expedición de la Constitución, él y otros como él creía que había establecido un sistema que soportar las tendencias naturales de la corrupción que había terminado con la opresión de las masas en muchos sistemas sociales.
La realidad, como lo demuestra con nuestra mala conducta institucional moderno, es el tiempo estos representantes se corrompen en la posición de poder que tienen sobre el pueblo.
Las limitadas posibilidades de elección de la representación ha fomentado un sistema de gobierno del pensamiento insular y la gradual erosión de nuestras libertades nacionales. El sistema de dos partidos, con su filosofía innata de elitismo, se ha de tomar nuestra libertad de nosotros poco a que las leyes de innumerables e iniciativas para promover el control.
La decadencia de nuestra libertad constitucional se ha visto agravada por tales iniciativas legislativas como la Ley Patriota y la abolición asociados de hábeas corpus etiquetado, mientras que algunos ciudadanos preocupados por la dirección de nuestro gobierno como disonantes.
Algunos podrían argumentar esta acción es necesaria para proteger la seguridad de la Nación, pero sólo se presenta como la prueba del dilema intrínseco de nuestra representación democrática actual. Como se ha indicado por la Sociedad Constitucional, "... los gobiernos deben ser creados con un cierto grado de poder. Es este poder que puede ser más peligrosa para las libertades de las personas. Para saber que han cometido algún delito, la policía debe ser capaz de interrogar a los sospechosos y testigos, y ser capaz de buscar las pruebas. En una sociedad donde el gobierno es omnipotente, los poderes de la policía para detener, interrogar, y la búsqueda son ilimitadas.
De hecho, el poder de determinar la culpabilidad sería "ilimitada.
En la era moderna de la influencia del terrorismo y la reacción más de la propaganda asociados gubernamentales, un estado policial, iniciada por nuestro sistema cada vez más corrupto, se ha expandido el control y la violación de nuestros derechos a un recurso de habeas corpus en lugar de permitir que siga siendo. Se asegura de que cualquier disonancia o la sospecha de anti-patriotismo es contestada por la convicción de retención en espera.
La culpa antes de la prueba de la inocencia se ha convertido en el mantra de la moderna Justicia de la evolución de la decadencia del sistema político estadounidense.
La facilidad de movimiento y los derechos civiles, otras definiciones de la libertad, son también en gran medida cuestionable en este sistema. Uno sólo necesita mirar el proceso de selección nueva TSA, la programación pública de reconocimiento facial y la política de la agencia de inteligencia de la Red de observación de conocer estas libertades no son aplicables en la América moderna. Si queremos viajar, nos vemos obligados a soportar una violación de nuestros derechos y obligados a soportar abusos deshonestos por inspectores de seguridad. En un esfuerzo por proteger la nuestra "democracia", en el marco del nuevo Estado de Policías de América, que son despojados de nuestros derechos innatos e individual.
Estas nuevas medidas, la seguridad nacional sólo han servido para encarcelar a todos en el ámbito de la paranoia impulsado la propaganda política.
El Gobierno de los EE.UU., en la eterna búsqueda del control total de la población, ha llevado a la carga en el engaño y el error de nuestra libertad. En la ampliación cada vez mayor del deseo de Al Qaeda para aterrorizar a nuestro país, se ha expandido el control de las personas a través de la Ley Patriota, legislación que fue empujada, aunque el Congreso de manera fraudulenta y plasticidad nacionalista.
Esta ley fue una movida concertada en respuesta a una guerra falsa, inmoral comenzado y promulgada por los Estados Unidos y ha añadido un elemento fascista de nuestra República.
Se argumentó con vehemencia de los creadores de este control que se deben tomar medidas para proteger nuestras fronteras y nuestros ciudadanos, sino el pueblo estadounidense no son los que empezaron esta guerra. Fue comenzado por los políticos codiciosos en un esfuerzo por obtener los derechos del petróleo y el control sobre una zona que en gran medida satisface las necesidades de combustible del mundo.
La muerte de cualquier libertad que puede haber disfrutado anteriormente ocurrió con el inicio de esta legislación y la paranoia asociadas a su creación.
La realidad de todo esto es que nuestras opciones son limitadas, nuestra política artificial y nuestro país controlada por las corporaciones alimentado por una obsesión americana con exceso y sus títeres políticos que ya no nos representan a los ciudadanos sino sus propios intereses. Todos somos esclavos de una mentalidad determinada de la competencia para la adquisición monetaria y fanático fascismo gubernamentales controladas que nos ofrece 4.000 nuevas leyes por año. Nuestra elección es cumplir con estas leyes más ser controlado por los barrotes de una prisión real.
Estamos obligados a vivir todos los días en silencio dentro de un sistema que está dañado o pagar el precio por no seguir las reglas de su engaño.
Este país no es el modelo del individualismo democrático la mayoría de nosotros se nos enseñó que era. Desde nuestras escuelas para nuestros medios de comunicación, la desintegración de nuestros derechos América ha sido alimentada continuamente en el nombre de patriotismo falso.
Hasta que todos despierten y vean estas verdades de la decepción, el constante movimiento para agregar a la creciente estado de control total a destruir no sólo el tejido de esta nación, sino la última de las libertades que poseen.
Había una vez un sueño que era América.
Con la intromisión cada vez mayor de grandes Gobierno y sus medios de propaganda, que poco a poco van cayendo en el ámbito de la maquinación fascista, el resultado final de la cual significará la muerte para el sueño de los colonos que llegaron aquí para establecer una sociedad libre.
Ha llegado el momento para que los estadounidenses se dan cuenta de lo poco control que tienen en las decisiones diarias y para despertar al hecho de que ahora estamos sufriendo de un error muy perjudicial de nuestra libertad.
Hasta que en conjunto están juntos y dejar que nuestros representantes saben que ya no permitirá la destrucción de este maravilloso país, el deterioro continuará.
John Locke había declarado una vez que en virtud de la ley natural, todas las personas tienen derecho a la vida, la libertad y los bienes, en virtud del contrato social, la gente podría instigar una revolución contra el gobierno cuando actuaba en contra de los intereses de sus ciudadanos y para reemplazar el gobierno con el que sirvió a los intereses de los ciudadanos. En los últimos años, nuestros representantes gubernamentales no han actuado de cualquier interés salvar su propia cuenta. Es hora de que el sistema se corrige y más importante aún, es hora de que Estados Unidos llegar a un acuerdo con su concepto erróneo de la libertad más perder todo lo que esta gran nación que representa. La revolución está cerca y en el sistema a menos que el lugar se da cuenta de sus formas errantes, que se verán lanzados desde las torres de Marfil que han construido sobre las espaldas de los Estados Unidos.

A Recipe for Fascism

Chris Hedges

American politics, as the midterm elections demonstrated, have descended into the irrational. On one side stands a corrupt liberal class, bereft of ideas and unable to respond coherently to the collapse of the global economy, the dismantling of our manufacturing sector and the deadly assault on the ecosystem. On the other side stands a mass of increasingly bitter people whose alienation, desperation and rage fuel emotionally driven and incoherent political agendas. It is a recipe for fascism.

More than half of those identified in a poll by the Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports as "mainstream Americans" now view the tea party favorably. The other half, still grounded in a reality-based world, is passive and apathetic. The liberal class wastes its energy imploring Barack Obama and the Democrats to promote sane measures including job creation programs, regulation as well as criminal proceedings against the financial industry, and an end to our permanent war economy. Those who view the tea party favorably want to tear the governmental edifice down, with the odd exception of the military and the security state, accelerating our plunge into a nation of masters and serfs. The corporate state, unchallenged, continues to turn everything, including human beings and the natural world, into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse.

All sides of the political equation are lackeys for Wall Street. They sanction, through continued deregulation, massive corporate profits and the obscene compensation and bonuses for corporate managers. Most of that money-hundreds of billions of dollars-is funneled upward from the U.S. Treasury. The Sarah Palins and the Glenn Becks use hatred as a mobilizing passion to get the masses, fearful and angry, to call for their own enslavement as well as to deny uncomfortable truths, including global warming. Our dispossessed working class and beleaguered middle class are vulnerable to this manipulation because they can no longer bear the chaos and uncertainty that come with impoverishment, hopelessness and loss of control. They have retreated into a world of illusion, one peddled by right-wing demagogues, which offers a reassuring emotional consistency. This consistency appears to protect them from the turmoil in which they have been forced to live. The propaganda of a Palin or a Beck may insult common sense, but, for a growing number of Americans, common sense has lost its validity.

The liberal class, which remains rooted in a world of fact, rationalizes placating corporate power as the only practical response. It understands the systems of corporate power. It knows the limitations and parameters. And it works within them. The result, however, is the same. The entire spectrum of the political landscape collaborates in the strangulation of our disenfranchised working class, the eroding of state power, the criminal activity of the financial class and the paralysis of our political process.

Commerce cannot be the sole guide of human behavior. This utopian fantasy, embraced by the tea party as well as the liberal elite, defies 3,000 years of economic history. It is a chimera. This ideology has been used to justify the disempowerment of the working class, destroy our manufacturing capacity, and ruthlessly gut social programs that once protected and educated the working and middle class. It has obliterated the traditional liberal notion that societies should be configured around the common good. All social and cultural values are now sacrificed before the altar of the marketplace.

The failure to question the utopian assumptions of globalization has left us in an intellectual vacuum. Regulations, which we have dismantled, were the bulwarks that prevented unobstructed brutality and pillaging by the powerful and protected democracy. It was a heavily regulated economy, as well as labor unions and robust liberal institutions, which made the American working class the envy of the industrialized world. And it was the loss of those unions, along with a failure to protect our manufacturing, which transformed this working class into a permanent underclass clinging to part-time or poorly paid jobs without protection or benefits.

The "inevitability" of globalization has permitted huge pockets of the country to be abandoned economically. It has left tens of millions of Americans in economic ruin. Private charity is now supposed to feed and house the newly minted poor, a job that once, the old liberal class argued, belonged to the government. As John Ralston Saul in "The Collapse of Globalization" points out, "the role of charity should be to fill the cracks of society, the imaginative edges, to go where the public good hasn't yet focused or can't. Dealing with poverty is the basic responsibility of the state." But the state no longer has the interest or the resources to protect us. And the next target slated for elimination is Social Security.

That human society has an ethical foundation that must be maintained by citizens and the state is an anathema to utopian ideologues of all shades. They always demand that we sacrifice human beings for a distant goal. The propagandists of globalization-from Lawrence Summers to Francis Fukuyama to Thomas Friedman-do for globalization and the free market what Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky did for Marxism. They sell us a dream. These elite interpreters of globalism are the vanguard, the elect, the prophets, who alone grasp a great absolute truth and have the right to impose this truth on a captive people no matter what the cost. Human suffering is dismissed as the price to be paid for the coming paradise.
The response of these propagandists to the death rattles around them is to continue to speak in globalization's empty rhetoric and use state resources to service a dead system. They lack the vision to offer any alternative. They can function only as systems managers. They will hollow out the state to sustain a casino capitalism that is doomed to fail. And what they offer as a solution is as irrational as the visions of a Christian America harbored by many within the tea party.

We are ruled by huge corporate monopolies that replicate the political and economic power, on a vastly expanded scale, of the old trading companies of the 17th and 18th centuries. Wal-Mart's gross annual revenues of $250 billion are greater than those of most small nation-states. The political theater funded by the corporate state is composed of hypocritical and impotent liberals, the traditional moneyed elite, and a disenfranchised and angry underclass that is being encouraged to lash out at the bankrupt liberal institutions and the government that once protected them. The tea party rabble, to placate their anger, will also be encouraged by their puppet masters to attack helpless minorities, from immigrants to Muslims to homosexuals. All these political courtiers, however, serve the interests of the corporate state and the utopian ideology of globalism. Our social and political ethic can be summed up in the mantra let the market decide. Greed is good. 

The old left-the Wobblies, the Congress of Industrial Workers (CIO), the Socialist and Communist parties, the fiercely independent publications such as Appeal to Reason and The Masses-would have known what to do with the rage of our dispossessed. It used anger at injustice, corporate greed and state repression to mobilize Americans to terrify the power elite on the eve of World War I. This was the time when socialism was not a dirty word in America but a promise embraced by millions who hoped to create a world where everyone would have a chance. The steady destruction of the movements of the left was carefully orchestrated. They fell victim to a mixture of sophisticated forms of government and corporate propaganda, especially during the witch hunts for communists, and overt repression. Their disappearance means we lack the vocabulary of class warfare and the militant organizations, including an independent press, with which to fight back.

We believe, like the Spaniards in the 16th century who pillaged Latin America for gold and silver, that money, usually the product of making and trading goods, is real. The Spanish empire, once the money ran out and it no longer produced anything worth buying, went up in smoke. Today's use in the United States of some $12 trillion in government funds to refinance our class of speculators is a similar form of self-deception. Money markets are still treated, despite the collapse of the global economy, as a legitimate source of trade and wealth creation. The destructive power of financial bubbles, as well as the danger of an unchecked elite, was discovered in ancient Athens and detailed more than a century ago in Emile Zola's novel "Money." But we seem determined to find out this self-destructive force for ourselves. And when the second collapse comes, as come it must, we will revisit wrenching economic and political tragedies forgotten in the mists of history.

Friday, November 26, 2010

America’s Misconception of Freedom

S. Paul Forrest
Activist Post
 .
America was founded in an attempt to escape the oppression of not only religious expression but also the misrepresentation from a monarchist system that cared only for the proliferation and interests of the elite class.  After 250 years, we have found ourselves in the same position as those who left Europe for these shores so long ago; oppressed from a system that only wants to serve itself before the citizens that support it.  They say history repeats itself and nowhere is this more evident than in the case of modern America’s politicians, putting their corporate puppet masters and damaging agenda of faux patriotism before the needs of the people.

To understand how we have been led to the erroneous conclusion that America is somehow a free nation, one must come to an understanding of what type of political system exists in this country and how it adds to or detracts from our social system as set up by our forefathers.  We also must recognize the erosion of our system under the watch of the overzealous quasi-patriotism which has served to initiate the current Police State in place and growing in America.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that we do not live in a Democracy as most people have been led to believe; America is a Republic where we are granted the opportunity to elect select representatives to make decisions for us.  Our forefathers were learned enough to understand that a pure democracy was not possible in a complex society, especially the one they were setting up.  In a democracy, although touted as the ideal system for freedom of the people to decide all matters of State, the minority only has those privileges granted by the dictatorship of the majority.  In a democracy, the sovereignty is in the group whereas in a Republic, the sovereignty is in each individual person.

The problem with a Republic though, is the inherent rights of the people are surrendered upon the casting of a vote for representation.  After this action has taken place, our fate lies in the hands of politicians who, with the innate human deficiency of sin, represent our interests.  This type of system was set up because the idea of a complex society deciding all aspects of government and the minority becoming unrepresented was unrealistic.  The thought that we the people could effectively be served by those who are concerned not with the continuation of our liberty but with the development and proliferation of self-service has been greatly discredited by the reality of this, our modern model of representation.

To understand our freedom or lack thereof, it is important to recognize what type of political system exists within our social structure into which we put our faith each election period.  This country is currently run and controlled by a two-party system that determines for us, the “free” voters, who we can vote for.  The choice of candidates is determined by the parties themselves as the proper representatives of their interests rather than the interests the American people.  Even the self-labeled “freedom party” or Tea Party, is just an extension of this old, two sided coin.  We can either vote for the lesser of the evils or suffer the consequence of others voting for us.

On the American political system, in the words by James Madison, Jack N. Rakove, of Stanford University writes, “Madison assumed politicians…would be able to command the allegiance of large numbers of voters. Once in office, they would act with a broadmindedness that would elevate the very quality of public life.  They would think not in terms of the immediate interests of their constituents, but of the larger public good which was synonymous with the concept of the public itself.  The virtue which could no longer be expected to reside in the populace might still be found, he hoped, in its rulers.”  It is clear from today’s system that this assumption was wrong.  Our modern politicians are largely self-serving and the quality of our lives directly relative to our freedom to vote for true representation.

Madison obviously had great confidence that an elected official would through the ages and think similarly as he and his colleagues with regard to intellectual consideration of the established hierarchy.  The effects of this representation was to, in theory, contribute to the ongoing freedom of the people.  With the issuing of the Constitution, he and others like him believed they had established a system that would endure the natural tendencies of corruption that had ended with the oppression of the masses in so many other social systems.  The reality, as proven with our modern institutional malfeasance, is these representatives eventually become corrupt in the position of power they hold over the people.

The limited choice of representation has fostered a governmental system of insular thinking and the gradual erosion of our own national freedoms.  The two-party system, with its inbred philosophy of elitism, has been taking our freedom from us bit by it with innumerable laws and initiatives to foster control.  The decay of our Constitutional freedom has been exacerbated by such legislative initiatives as the Patriot Act and its associated nullification of Habeas Corpus while labeling some citizens concerned with the direction of our government as dissonant. 

Some would argue this action is necessary to protect the security of the Nation but it only stands as proof of the intrinsic dilemma of our current democratic representation.  As stated by the Constitutional Society, “…governments must be vested with a certain degree of power.  It is this power that can be most dangerous to the liberties of the people.  To find out who committed a certain crime, police must be able to question suspects and witnesses, and be able to search for evidence.  In a society where the government is omnipotent, the powers of the police to detain, question, and search are unlimited.  In fact, the power to determine guilt would be unlimited”. 

In the modern era of terrorist influence and the over reaction of associated governmental propaganda, a police state, initiated by our increasingly corrupt system, has expanded control and the violation of our rights to a writ of habeas corpus rather than allowing it to remain.  It makes certain that any dissonance or suspicion of anti-patriotism is answered by restraint pending conviction.  Guilt before proof of innocence has become the mantra of modern Justice in the evolving decay of the American political system.

Ease of movement and civil rights, further definitions of freedom, are also largely questionable in this system.  One only need look at the new TSA screening process, public face recognition programming and intelligence agency policy of Net watching to know these are not applicable freedoms in modern America.  If we want to travel, we are forced to endure a violation of our rights and forced to endure molestation by security screeners.  In an effort to protect our “democracy”, under the new American Police State, we are robbed of our innate, individual rights.  These new, national security measures have only served to imprison us all within the realm of paranoia driven, political propaganda.

The U.S. Government, in the eternal quest of total control of the people, has led the charge in the deception and misconception of our freedom.  In the ever increasing amplification of Al Qaeda’s desire to terrorize our Country, it has expanded the control of the people through the Patriot Act, legislation that was pushed though Congress under false pretenses and nationalist plasticity.  This Act was an orchestrated move in response to a false, immoral war begun and promulgated by the United States and has added a fascist element to our Republic. 

It is vehemently argued from the creators of this control that steps must be taken to protect our borders and our citizens but the American people are not the ones who started this war.  It was begun by greedy politicians in an effort to obtain oil rights and control over an area that largely supplies the world’s fuel needs.  The death of whatever freedom we may have previously enjoyed occurred with the initiation of this legislation and the paranoia associated with its inception. 

The reality of it all is that our choices are limited, our politics contrived and our country controlled by corporations fed by an American obsession with excess and its political puppets that no longer represent us citizens but rather, their own interests.  We are all slaves to a predetermined mentality of competition for monetary acquisition and zealot controlled governmental fascism that provides us 4,000 new laws per year.  Our choice is to conform to these laws else be controlled by the bars of a real prison.  We are coerced daily to live silently within a system that is corrupt or pay the price for not following the rules of its deception.

This Country is not the model of democratic individualism most of us were taught it was.  From our schools to our media sources, the decay of our American rights has been continuously fed in the name of faux patriotism.  Until we all wake up and see these truths of deception, the constant move to add to the growing state of total control will destroy not only the fabric of this nation but the last freedoms that we do possess.

There once was a dream that was America.  With the ever increasing intrusion of Big Government and its media propaganda, we are slowly falling into the realm of fascist machination, the end result of which will spell death for the dream of those settlers who first came here to establish a free society. 

The time has come for Americans to realize how little control they have in daily choices and to awaken to the fact that we are now suffering from a very damaging misconception of our freedom.  Until we collectively stand together and let our representatives know we will no longer allow their destruction of this wonderful Country, the erosion will continue. 

John Locke had once declared that under natural law, all people have the right to life, liberty, and estate; under the social contract, the people could instigate a revolution against the government when it acted against the interests of its citizens and to replace the government with one that served the interests of those citizens.  In the recent years, our governmental representatives have not acted in any interest save their own.  It is time that the system is corrected and even more importantly, it is time for America to come to terms with its misconception of freedom else lose all that this great nation stands for.  The revolution is near and unless the in place system comes to realize its errant ways, they will find themselves thrown from the Ivory towers they have built upon the backs of America.

Stop Big Ag's Food Safety Bill in the Senate

Organic Bytes

For over a year, the Farm Bureau and large agribusiness trade organizations have pretended to support a version of Senate Bill S.510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, which included essential amendments exempting small organic and sustainable farmers from Federal regulation. Now in the last week, Republican members of Congress and Food Inc. have announced they want to pass a one-size-fits-all S.510 without essential protections and exemptions for small organic and sustainable farmers.

From Big Ag's perspective this deceptive maneuver is a win-win: Factory Farms and GMO plantations can easily absorb the bureaucratic costs and paperwork of Federal regulations because of their size; they'll gain good PR for supposedly supporting stronger food safety practices; while their increasingly popular competition, organic and sustainable farmers and ranchers, will be wiped out by regulatory burdens. The bottom line is that factory farms and Food Inc. would like to keep poisoning 80 million Americans every year in ever-larger food safety epidemics, while organic farmers, who have an outstanding food safety record, will be driven out of business.

A letter from the Farm Bureau, Big Ag processors and retailers states: "...by incorporating the Tester amendment [exempting small farmers from expensive onerous Federal regulations] in the bill, consumers will be left vulnerable to the gaping holes and uneven application of the law created by these exemptions. In addition, it sets an unfortunate precedent for future action on food safety policy by Congress that science and risk based standards can be ignored."

What science and risk? Do your own Google search and you will not find any data or evidence of widespread problems caused by organic or local small farm producers. All of the major foodborne illness outbreaks, 78 million a year according to the Centers for Disease Control, have been caused by products that went through the long supply chains of factory farms, Food Inc. processing giants, and corporate agribusiness.

Agribusiness's real concern about the Tester-Hagan amendment isn't food safety, but the precedent set by having Congress recognize that small, direct-marketing producers are different and should be regulated differently from large operations.

Big Ag is demanding that Senators pull the Tester-Hagan amendment. While the amendment is currently part of the "Managers' Package" - the amended version of the bill agreed to by six bipartisan sponsors - nothing is certain until the actual vote.

Take Action Before Monday November 29

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Endgame Legislation: Lame Duck Session Ushers in Tyranny

Eric Blair
Activist Post

When most of us think about "lame duck" Congressional sessions we think of a "do-nothing" government. However, this so-called lame duck session appears to be a time where legislation that has the most restrictions to individual rights is being rammed through.

It seems the members of government who have been recently voted out of office are vying for corporate jobs by pushing such legislation as the
Food Safety Modernization Act and the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act which are now on the fast track to becoming law. Both of these laws reek of tyranny for the citizens and a means of corporate consolidation for the big boys.It seems whenever a piece of legislation has the word "safety" in it we can expect to lose our right to make our own decisions.  For example, consumer protection groups pushed hard for the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008 after large numbers of Chinese-made toys and other products proved to have dangerously unhealthy toxins.

Consequently, the bill was passed with 407 Ayes, 0 Nays in the House. Only later did the public find out that the bill did more to regulate, tax, and impose fines on neighborhood garage sales than it did to stop dangerous Chinese imports.  Clearly, the bill is used to clamp down on an individual's right to sell their used items without governmental oversight.  In other words, the corporate-government will not allow any form of black market to threaten their cartel control of consumerism.

The Food Safety Modernization Act has the backing of establishment liberals who think more big government regulation will protect us from food-borne diseases derived from factory farming.  Their heart seems to be in the right place, but placing trust in this horribly corrupt government to "protect" us makes them utterly gullible. The vote of 74-25 in the Senate proves the bill was more broadly supported than just with progressives, indicating strong corporate support from the Big-Agri lobby that wrote the bill.
According to Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, the bill purports to:
  • Preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes.
  • It will more than likely make Michael Taylor (former Monsanto executive) the Food Czar.
  • End U.S. sovereignty over its own food supply by forcing compliance with WTO guidelines.
  • Even direct sales of food between individuals could be defined as smuggling under the language of the bill.
  • Codex Alimentarius, a global system of control over food and food supplements, would control all U.S. food and supplements. Access to natural food supplements would be removed under Codex rules.
  • Control of all seeds would transfer to Monsanto and other global multinationals.
  • The National Animal Identification System ( NAIS ) would be enacted, forcing bio-chipping and other identification and tracking methods for all animals, whether food or pets.
  • What is left of the American food system would be transferred into total control of Multinational Corporations under the guise of global governance.
Despite the draconian intentions of the bill, many respected alternative agriculture experts like Michael Pollan and Grist have given their lukewarm blessing to the bill as "as step in the right direction."  Controversial bills typically have enough seemingly logical solutions that become the focus of selling new regulations.  This bill is no different, as it gives the appearance of cracking down on large factory farms, exempting small family farms, creating better tracing methods for the origin of food-borne diseases, and certainly injects more financial resources into government agencies tasked with regulating food.  All of these were sold to the public amidst the fear of massive egg and meat recalls because of E. coli and Salmonella contamination.

We should know by now that nearly all legislation is not written or read by our elected officials, but rather by heavy-handed corporate interests who seek nothing less than total domination over their industries.  Yet, the public is still easily swayed.

The second piece of legislation that was flushed out of the Judiciary Committee last week with a 19-0 vote is the
Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA).  This bill is pure tyranny against Internet freedom.  In other words, they're not even using the guise of protecting the people to hammer this one home.  This bill seeks to arbitrarily create an Internet "Blacklist" of domains, much like the arbitrary "Terror Watch List."  The government is seeking the power to shut access to sites it flags . . . no judge, no evidence, no jury. The law will also apply to websites hosted outside the U.S. where the corporate-government will claim global control over information on the Internet.  The government plans to enforce the blocking of these Blacklisted websites by using major Internet service providers (ISPs).

To demonstrate how draconian this bill is, Copyright Laws are already very clear where if a media corporation can demonstrate that a given website used their material against
Fair Use rights, they can be sued individually for damages.  This new law will bypass the current legal system of innocent until proven guilty with no warnings, presentation of evidence of wrong-doing, or determination of fault by a jury of peers.  Although the legislation is said to be focused on sharing movies, music, and television shows; the copyright violations are defined very broadly and will surely extend to any usage of Associated Press or Reuters stories (or the like) and/or images.

This broad definition will essentially put all alternative news websites in violation despite their Fair Use rights. In fact, nearly every article or commentary about world events that is covered by independent news organizations that quote or link to mainstream media stories as a reference may be in violation (including this article you're reading).  The COICA will effectively crush any opposition to the mainstream media's domination on the currently free and open world wide web.  If properly debated and dissected there is no way this bill would be passed, hence the rushing to pass it under a quiet Congressional session.

Both of these bills will likely become laws given their overwhelming support in Congress.  When enacted, the corporate-government tyranny will begin to work stealthily to regulate their competition out of the marketplace.  By the time the vast majority of people realize this tyranny, it will be too late to complain as the independent voices will assuredly be Blacklisted from any debate.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What is Freedom?

Energy Grid Magazine

FREEDOM is self-determinance; it is the condition of minimal constraint. Naturally, in a society or community, there has to be some constraints — the burglar cannot have the freedom to steal, the thug cannot have the freedom to mug, and the businessman cannot have the freedom to excessively pollute and pay no taxes. But get the balance between personal freedom, social order and ecological integrity right, and the vast majority of citizens can live happily with moderate personal freedom and minimal constraints.

Our freedom and constraints are formalized by a very long written agreement between individuals (or legal entities such as companies) and between individuals and the society of which he, she or it is a part. This formal agreement, called the law or legal system, is a constantly evolving and changing as new situations and circumstances arise. (Parts of this legal system, usually those dealing with human rights, are deliberately less changeable and are sometimes called constitutions.) So our freedom (and lack of) is defined by the legal systems, and different legal systems give us different levels of freedom depending upon which one we stand under.

A common fallacy regarding freedom is to automatically assume that it is a byproduct of modern democracy. In fact, the "only" freedom that a democracy bestows practically on its members is that they have the right, every few years, to vote for one of a set group of representatives who will run the country on their behalf. Whilst modern democracy is an indispensable foundation for free societies, it does not guarantee freedom. That job falls to the legal system, which is not so readily influenced by our periodic voting. (Which is why freedom campaigns often involve legal challenges.)

Democracy can only be an agent of freedom if it gives people meaningful voting choices (not just a choice of 2 or 3 parties with only cosmetic differences), and if it ensures that the people have the unbiased and undistorted information necessary to make a choice that is in their interest (which can only happen with a mass media and educational system free from undue government and corporate influence). Of course, sometimes the majority may want to use their democratic rights to restrict freedom (for example in the areas of gun ownership, stem cell research, GM foods, pedophilia, the "war against terror" or fox hunting). This is because different freedoms often conflict with each other.

For example, the freedom to have clean air requires restriction of the freedom for factory owners to produce cheap goods by not having to clean up the pollution generated as a by-product. So the freedom for us all to have clean air conflicts with both the freedom of the factory owner to make larger profits (by having to clean up) and the freedom we all have to buy cheap goods. So freedoms do not necessarily conflict between different groups of people, but often with the same group of people. So the support for freedom is always a balancing act, usually between our collective long-term interests and the short-term interests of not only society, as a whole, but also of particular groups of people (which includes corporations and political groups).

Another example of this conflict might be in raising a green tax on large 4x4 vehicles to off-set their greater ecological impact. Many of us, especially 4x4 drivers, consider this an affront to our personal freedom to drive our own choice of car, and yet such a tax is likely to be in the interest of future generations, including the very children of those 4x4 drivers. Which freedom is more important? That should be obvious to anybody, but because so many decision makers are taking short-term and selfish perspectives, long-term public interests are not being respected and freedoms are not being chosen wisely.

We live today in democracies that are increasingly hostile to long-term interests and collective freedom. Our choice of political party at election time is quite restrictive (and becoming increasingly cosmetic), with politicians focused almost exclusively on their own political and financial interests rather than the long-term interests of the country as a whole. Better to promise tax-breaks today to get into power, then austerity to try to lessen the burden on our children. And when politicans are done in public office, they almost invariably move to the boards of the large corporations whose agendas they promoted when they had political power. (Politics and big business have a symbiotic relationship with each other, a symbiosis that is most certainly not in our collective interest.)

And because the mass media is entirely corporately-owned and largely dependent upon corporate advertising, it has become the propaganda machine for corporate interests, significantly under-reporting stories that might wake the people up into realizing that their freedom to have happy, healthy and fulfilling lives, not only for themselves but also for their children, seriously conflicts with the freedom of the corporate world to maximize profits by enslaving us financially (by careful control of the money supply) and selling us goods and services which we largely do not need.

As a consequence, we have become slaves to the corporate interest, where the freedom to make high profits has come to dominate all other freedoms. And this collective enslavement is dressed up by the mass media as freedom, so that anyone who critises, for example, the Federal Reserve for enslaving America soon finds themselves accused of being "Anti-American" or a "Communist". After all, how can the people be slaves when they live in the "Land of the Free". It is all media propaganda.
This corporate control of the mass media means that the mind of the people is being strongly manipulated to make voting choices that are not actually in their best interest, but in the short-term interest of corporations and politicians.

Something else that manipulates the mind of the people into undervaluing freedom is the fact that adults spend the bulk of their waking hours toiling in the corporate environment. Are corporations democratic organisations? Of course not! They are authoritarian organisations — dictatorships — with a strict hierarchy of control. This means that most adults in democratic societies spend most of their time in dictatorships, and this skews their psychology and their values so that social freedom is much easier to pry out of their hands. (Sheep mentality is reinforced at every level.) And it is Commercial Law that is increasingly dictating the terms of that slavery.

The two main legal systems in most Western democracies are: Common or Civil Law (also called Law of the Land); and Commercial Law (Maritime Admiralty, Banking Law, or the Law of the Sea).
Common or Civil Law is what normal people think of as law — an accumulating body of formalized rules made by judges in court mostly regarding our behaviour towards others in the interest of keeping society civil. The judges use common sense and previous court decisions (legal precedence) to reach their decisions. This law tends to be country-specific, and all people in that country are automatically obliged, whether they consent or not, to follow those laws, or pay a penalty such as a jail term or fine if they choose not to.

Commercial Law, on the other hand, deals with commercial agreements between two consenting parties; it is the law of business transactions. If you do not consent to standing under this legal system in any situation, then it has no legal hold over you and you cannot be legally penalized for non-conformity. That said, our birth certificates automatically bind us into a commercial agreement with the State and the banks that control the State; so our parents basically signed us away at birth into bondage to Commercial Law.
Whereas Civil Law is largely concerned with the issue of fairness in society, Commercial Law is used to bind (enslave) people into legal contracts with organisations that have their own interests at heart (invariably profit and control). It is under Commercial Law that the banks have ended up controlling almost every aspect of society, and it is under Commercial Law that we slave away in order to pay the rent or mortgage.

Commercial Law also drives the international political agendas that are rapidly eroding individual freedoms, and what is most concerning is that these agendas are immune to the people's choice of political party. Organisations (actually corporations) taking control of the world using Commercial Law include the United Nations, Food and Agricultural Organisation, World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the European Parliament… all of which "the people" have little influence over.

The only way to counter these agendas is either through the courts (by appealing to Common or Civil Law), by knowing enough about Commercial Law so that we do not consent to it in the first place, through mass consumer choice, and through public protest and disobedience (although any form of violence is strongly discouraged as it is counterproductive).

What is concerning, however, is that with their massive lobbying power and money, corporations are now able to disproportionately influence legislative procedure, which results in a society increasingly bound by Commercial Law and the freedoms of corporations to persue their business (world-domination) agendas with minimal government and legal interference. This destroys the very fabric of human society. And people are so hoodwinked by the propaganda flowing from the mainstream media, that they honestly believe that supporting corporate freedom has something to do with their own freedom, democracy and interests! That is the consequence of very successful propaganda!

In light of these threats, it is important that we unite to defend encroaches on collective freedom by the "pseudo-freedoms" of special interest groups such as corporations. We need to have public debate about which freedoms are in the collective long-term interest and which are not, and which individual freedoms we are not prepared to surrender. After 9-11, for example, is it really in the collective interest to introduce the Patriot act? Short-term, that is debatable; but long-term, definitely not. After 9/11 we saw shameful intolerance within the US to anybody who opposed the illegal invasion of Iraq, even though Iraq had ostensibly played no part in 9/11, posed no threat to any of the invaders, and had no weapons of mass destruction. In the "land of the free", you would think that people would respect each other's right, indeed duty, to voice disapproval of misguided government policy, but that is not what happened… patriotism reared its ugly head and sheep-mentality prevailed.

Public freedom and civil rights are seriously compromised by fervent patriotism. In the words of Leo Tolstoy, "The subjection of men to government will always continue as long as patriotism exists, for every ruling power rests on patriotism — on the readiness of men to submit to power." Judging by the staggering number of "freedom" organisations and sites that are plastered with national flags and emblems, there is widespread confusion between patriotism and freedom. Patriotism serves only to pervert government accountability, allowing reprehensible behaviour to go unchallenged, even where that behaviour is directed at the people themselves. This is why governments waste no opportunity to stir up patriotism… it gets them off the hook and back in control.

Finally, it is important to remember that the freedom that so many of us now take for granted didn't just come about because everybody agreed that it was a "good idea". Previous generations literally risked their lives for freedom — that is how much they valued it. Those in authority generally don't give up that authority willingly; freedom needs to be taken from them (preferably, as Gandhi did, by peaceful means).
We are now the generation that has become the custodians of freedom. Will we allow it to languish because we have more important things to do like watching TV and shopping, or will we take up the responsibility, as our forebears did, and fight for freedom and civil liberties so that the world is a better place for ourselves and our children?

But to do that effectively we have to make choices between conflicting freedoms. We will need to favour certain freedoms over others, so the fight for freedom includes the restriction of freedom as well. This is the paradox and there is no simple formula or easy solution to this balancing act. But be warned: if you do not consciously make that choice yourself, it is unconsciously being made for you as you sit each evening in front of your propaganda screen (TV). Remember that there are many different organisations out there spending large amounts of money influencing that decision because the freedom balance has huge financial consequences.

We are either awake, making choices that are in the collective long-term interest and that of our children, or we are asleep, drifting with the rest of the sheeple towards enslavement — in the name of freedom of course!