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A class of insecticides known as pyrethroids is increasingly found in the human body.
Children in particular are still widely exposed to an insecticide that was banned for household use over a decade ago—chlorpyrifos.
Pyrethroids are sprinkled over lawns, soaped onto pets, sprayed on offending vermin, and applied to our own persons in the form of lice-killing shampoos or mosquito repellents. They’re also used in fumigating drives against mosquitoes and in agricultural crops and nurseries.
Over 60 percent of people examined in the study tested positive for having pyrethroids in their system.
A possible health effect is endocrine disruption and autism; mothers of autistic children had shampooed their pets with antiflea and antitick shampoos during pregnancy.
Ed. Notes: Of course manufacturers should have to prove their products are safe, not toxic chemicals, before selling them, something they now don’t have to do adequately. In fact, the entire cozy relationship between business and government should be broken up. All society should raise the bar for moral behavior.
We should consense on paying land dues, rather than mortgages, and pay our neighbors or community, rather than sellers or banks. With such dues in place along with fees for social services, we should then abolish taxes. Taxes make us feel like serfs, like people who do not deserve justice, including the justice of safe, healthy products. And businesses will be in no position to complain, since they won’t have to pay taxes on their fair earnings, their employees, or their material goods.
Let’s replace this selfish outlook of profit at any cost with a fair return for honest effort.
This 2014 excerpt of Dirt Diggers Digest, Feb 25, is by Phil Mattera.
At least 75 percent of cumulative disclosed subsidy dollars for “economic development” have gone to just 965 large corporations, even though these companies account for only about 10 percent of the number of announced awards.
In dollar terms, the biggest recipient by far is Boeing, with a total of more than $13 billion, reflecting the giant deals it has gotten in Washington and South Carolina as well as more than 130 smaller deals around the country. The others at the top of the cumulative subsidy dollar list are: Alcoa ($5.6 billion), Intel ($3.9 billion), General Motors ($3.5 billion), and Ford Motor ($2.5 billion). A total of 17 companies have received cumulative subsidy awards worth more than $1 billion; 182 have received awards of $100 million or more.
The company with the largest number of awards is Dow Chemical, with 416. Following it are Berkshire Hathaway (310), General Motors (307), Wal-Mart Stores (261), General Electric (255), Walgreen (225), and FedEx (222). Forty-eight companies have received more than 100 individual awards.
The parent companies on the Fortune 500 alone account for more than 16,000 subsidy awards worth $63 billion.
Foreign-based corporations are three in the top ten (Fiat, Royal Dutch Shell, and Nissan) and another five in the next 15.
Ed. Notes: Is it wrong for politicians to give your money to people who don’t need it? Or is it wrong for us to give away the power to spend public money to politicians? Perhaps we should put the budget on the ballot. Or better yet, pay ourselves a citizen’s dividend from surplus common wealth. Then we could get rid of not just subsidies but taxes, too, and just levy fees and dues — the geonomic solution.
This 2014 excerpt of OpEdNews, Feb 25, is by Jim Turnage.
Religious organizations have always been given tax exempt status. They are prohibited from being involved in the government or politics.
Today one of the most frequently voiced groups is the religious right. They are a powerful lobby within the Republican Party. And if that is the case, they should pay taxes in the same manner as any other corporation.
The United States of America was founded to create a nation that was free to practice any religion they chose, or none at all. Nothing was more important to our founding fathers than separation of church and state. They would be appalled to see how closely they are tied today.
I don’t believe in religions. I consider them a crutch; a force to remove independent thought. What I do believe in is right vs. wrong, and universal equality.
Our government could pay a lot of bills from [land] taxes paid by the Catholic Church alone. The Church is among the wealthiest organizations in the country.
Ed. Notes: Believers already make their religions rich. In a just economy, they’d probably have even more money to give away to priests and rabbis and shamans if they wish. Plus, their churches, temples, and synagogues take up lots of prime land. If they had to pay land dues, those buildings might not be vacant for so much of the time. OTOH, if people are feeling secure and worthy of happiness, they might move beyond religion to spiritual science or scientific mysticism. And who needs a building for that? A hike into pristine nature with a telescope might be more conducive to an epiphany.
The rich world needs to cut red tape to encourage business
In the list of nations by burden of government regulation, Singapore is the least burdensome for the past eight years. Singapore has a low tax rate [except for a relatively high tax on land], a light regulatory regime, and an enviable location at the heart of Asia.
Many EU countries are bumping along near the bottom. Of the 148 countries surveyed in 2013, Spain was ranked 125th, France 130th, Portugal 132nd, Greece 144th, and Italy 146th.
Over the past seven years, the US has slipped from 23rd to 80th. The proportion of America’s independent businesses who thought regulation was their biggest problem rose from under 10% in 2009 to 20% late last year.
In recent years, emerging markets have been cutting their red tape whereas the rich world has been strengthening its regulatory regime.
Regulation holds back competition so that inefficient companies survive for longer than they deserve.
The administrative burden on business in Europe amounts to 3.5% of GDP. Around half of this is due to EU regulations, known as gold-plating.
For business, the worry is that the rules may change and a big investment may not be profitable in 10-15 years’ time.
Few would argue against laws on pollution, workplace safety, or child labour. But they can backfire. Regulations designed to protect existing workers from unfair dismissal often make employers reluctant to take on new ones. Workers with tenure will hold on to their jobs at all costs, whereas young people will be able to get only precarious jobs or none at all.
The social “wedge” (labour taxes and other social-security contributions) makes up more than 40% of total labour costs in nine EU countries and more than 50% in Belgium. In America and Japan, reckons BusinessEurope, the wedge amounts to only 27%. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, is fond of saying that Europe has 7% of the world’s population, 25% of its GDP and 50% of its social costs.
Rules either miss the problem or make things worse. Civil servants are poorly equipped to assess the business climate. People who go into government are risk-averse; they are intelligent but want to keep the status quo.
Ed. Notes: We might be able to get rid of most regulations if at the same time we got rid of the liability limits provided for (nearly) free by the government. Let businesses buy insurance and sign contracts with investors. And most importantly, clean up their acts.
This 2014 excerpt of the Washington Monthly, January/ February, is by Siddhartha Mahanta.
When you buy a Big Mac or a T-bone, a portion of the cost is a tax on beef, the proceeds from which the government hands over to a private trade group called the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Nearly 99 percent of all the beef tax dollars collected by the government, some $45 million a year, winds up in the hands of just one group, the NCBA, which relies overwhelmingly on this public money to support itself. Fewer and fewer actual “cattlemen” belong to the organization, while more and more note the rancher’s own money is being used to put him out of business, with government complicity.
Meanwhile, the consumer’s tax dollars are going to a trade group that’s in court trying to keep me from knowing what I’m eating.
NCBA state affiliates support what’s known as “ag gag” laws. These measures make it a felony in a growing number of states to gather information on inhumane and unsafe practices on farms and processing plants, even prohibiting taking photographs of the facilities from nearby roads or other public property.
Ranchers who treat their animals well want the public to know their story, and don’t want to be forced to subsidize a trade group that vilifies their potential customers as animal rights “radicals.”
Ed. Notes: Not only does Big Beef collect subsidies, they also benefit most from the absence of a tax on land. They’re absentee landowners who, whenever they have to pay for all the land that they get to charge others to use, tend to sell their excess to their tenants at prices tenants could afford. That would bring back family ranchers … to a degree.
Ranchers (and farmers) might also need a repeal of taxes on wages, so they can more easily afford to hire helpers. Plus, they may need a Citizen’s Dividend which would benefit most the people in the country. That’s where the differential between rent dividend received and land dues paid is greatest.
Happily, with more economic equality, there’s less of an urban/rural divide, so people from everywhere can get to see the other’s POV.
The field of “law and economics” applies economic theory to the consequences of law. This branch of economic theory examines the laws that would maximize efficiency and equity. The theory compares, for example, the incentives created by criminal versus tort law to determine the mix of laws that minimize the social cost of wrong-doing. Law and economics studies contract law to determine when a contract is proper, what is the most effective way to enforce contracts, and how best to deal with breach of contract.
The pure market has voluntary exchanges that involve contracts, and so the structure of contract law becomes important. Deficient law and enforcement breeds uncertainty, corruption, and less prosperity. Since contracts are part of the market, contract law is also within the market, and the enforcement and governance that forms the legal infrastructure is part of the market.
Law and economics also deals with external effects, acts that affect others without compensation. The theory examines taxes, regulations, bargaining, and lawsuits as ways to deal with bad effects such as pollution. Another contrast is between property rights and liability rules. A liability rule does not prohibit a trespass, but requires compensation when it happens. And so law and economics contrasts prohibiting an action in advance, versus dealing with the consequences after the act is done.
People think of the market economy as having buying and selling, supply and demand, production and consumption. But there is much more to the market than a customer buying a product. The product may be defective, or the seller might not get paid. There are many legal doctrines that deal with such problems. These are part of the market and part of economics.
A pure free market economy would include the body of law that has evolved over hundreds of years. There are several origins of law: constitutional law, legislated statute law, the common law from decisions by judges, the law merchant of commerce, and natural moral law.
An anarchist society would need much of the law that now applies to marriages and families, lawsuits, crimes, contracts, and uncompensated effects on others. The difference would be that the anarchist society would have voluntary governance, by individual consent, rather than an imposed government. But a network or federation of voluntary communities would need much of the same law that we have today.
One controversial area of law and economics is whether there should be legal monopolies on “intellectual property,” i.e. copyrights on expressions and patents on inventions. Today’s law is mostly utilitarian, providing protection from copying for a limited time in order to provide incentives to creations, although political influence has extended copyright protection for long durations.
The difference between a libertarian society and today’s world is that there would be no laws prohibiting peaceful and honest acts, even if they are offensive. Drugs, prostitution, and gambling would be legal. There would be no restrictions on trade such as with Cuba or on the production, importation, and use of hemp.
Whether in today’s world or a libertarian world, there should be a basic “law of the market” which prescribes that products are presumed to be safe and effective unless stated otherwise. But a pure free market would avoid laws that restrict one’s own use, or consensual use, of property. Lawsuits would mostly adhere to the British system in which the loser of a case would have to pay the legal costs of the winner, which would greatly reduce frivolous law suits, thereby reducing overall litigation costs.
Today’s complex tax laws would be abolished in free-market law and economics, because honest and peaceful transactions would not be hampered by imposed costs. The public finance consistent with a free market would include voluntary user fees, penalties for damage such as pollution, and the land rent that comes from nature or is generated by population and government’s public works. The full employment of a pure free market would provide the job security that comes from employers needing to fill positions, with few idle workers from which to choose.
The complexity of today’s division of labor makes the law that governs relationships necessarily complex, but the clout of lawyers, special interests, and bureaucrats make the law excessively restrictive and needful of attorneys. A truly free society would make the law the servant of the economy and not its master.
What economic theory needs to take into account is that the field of law and economics is not just one of many applications of economics but rather an inherent part of the market economy, and so law has to become more integrated into economic theory. Also, equity is a goal of law and economics, along with efficiency, and an objective application of equity cannot exist without its foundation, natural moral law. “Natural law and economics” needs to become a prominent part of law and economics.
This 2014 excerpt of Alternet, Feb 24, is by Lynn Stuart Parramore.
The typical mainstream economist is about as good at making predictions as a monkey reading tea leaves.
Take the financial crisis — only a few economists outside the mainstream saw it coming.
The profession of economics projects their pathologies onto the rest of us.
Economists are in love with mathematical models, despite the fact that they often don’t work.
When asked by Congress why he was unable to warn Americans about the coming sh*tstorm, Alan Greenspan offered an uncharacteristic admission: the model he had used to assess the economy for decades was not worth a hill of beans.
Like most other fields, economics is dominated by elites who get to decide what’s acceptable. You can introduce a new idea to these elites, that’s fine — but if you start questioning their methodologies, you will run into trouble. You’re not going to get published, get tenure, or be invited back to next year’s conference.
People in power tend to think and behave in ways that consciously, or unconsciously, legitimize, underscore, and perpetuate their power.
Ed. Notes: Things go in cycles. Decades ago Hazel Henderson noted economics is a form of brain disease. Yet is the explanation psychology or politics?
People can’t do economies without ownership, and property is rife with illegitimate claims. Economists, if they expect to be paid, have to overlook how gains are made, and must focus squarely on just counting the gains. You can’t really do a science that way.
For economics ever to become a science, it’d have to get serious about noting the difference between earnings and non-earnings, between our spending that rewards another person’s labor or capital and our spending that rewards another person’s privilege, such as a claim on land. Economist would have to admit there is private wealth and common wealth. But before they’re psychologically able to do that, probably geonomics will take over.
The global economic cost of violence in 2012 was US$9.46 trillion, which represents 11% of Gross World Product.
Violence containment spending is understood as any economic activity that is related to the prevention or consequences of violence; it includes direct costs such the medical cost of a victim, and indirect costs such as the loss of human capital when someone is displaced as a result of violence.
The findings outlined in the report show that violence containment costs US$1,300 per person per year. It is almost double the size of the world’s agriculture industry and over 2.4 times the size of the total GDP of Africa.
While some spending on violence containment is necessary, overspending on violence containment reduces funds for productive programs. Some of the countries that have the highest violence containment expenditure, are also among the poorest.
The three countries with the highest level of violence containment spending as a percentage of GDP are North Korea, Syria, and Liberia. The military accounts for 70% of North Korea’s violence containment expenditure, which is equivalent to 20% of the country’s total GDP.
Ed. Notes: The authors want government to behave and not spend so much on killing while spending more on schools and clinics. However, subsidized schools and clinics are for poor people. Should we keep people poor? If they weren’t poor, couldn’t they choose their own teachers and doctors? The way to end poverty is NOT to let governments tax then hope they spend our public revenue fairly. The way to end poverty is to get rid of taxes and subsidies. Replace taxes with fees and dues. Replace subsidies with a dividend to the citizenry from the value of sites and resources, a value that always yields surplus public revenue. Even small applications of geonomics have worked.
This 2014 excerpt of Guardian LV, Feb 22, is by Allison Longstreet.
The African island of Madagascar is the only place where lemurs live in the wild, but possibly not for too much longer; the lemur’s extinction risk rate is at a deadly high.
One of the primary causes is the destruction of their natural habitat by farmers and developers, who illegally use slash-and-burn farming methods to harvest plants, as well as the excessive harvesting of rosewood and ebony trees, which ruins the lemur’s natural habitat.
Also, due to political strife on the African island, many citizens have become burdened with poverty and have turned to hunting these primates as a source of nutrition.
To protect the lemurs, scientists hope to raise money through eco-tourism.
From tourists some citizens earn a better living wage, thus protecting the lemurs from hunters.
Ed. Notes: It’s not that humans want to drive other species to extinction. It’s that their economies don’t provide what the humans need, so out of desperation they deplete their resources, including living ones. If economies granted people access to what they need, they’d not resort to exhausting cute parts of their ecosystem. Once again, economic justice is key, specifically, sharing Earth by sharing her worth, the central feature of geonomics.
This 2014 excerpt of the AP, Feb 23, is by Hannah Dreier.
A handful of top U.S. business tycoons are pressuring fellow entrepreneurs to pay workers more proposing to give their money back to the government to redistribute.
Members of the 0.1 percent now make at least $1.7 million a year; the median annual household income has dropped to $51,017.
Income for the top 1 percent soared 31 percent from 2009 through 2012, after adjusting for inflation. For everyone else, it inched up an average of 0.4 percent.
Ron Unz, whose fortune comes from founding Wall Street Analytics Inc, argues that by not paying a living wage, companies are forcing the government to subsidize them through massive welfare spending. An advocate for the free market, Unz opposes any kind of subsidy. Unz, 52, was trained as a theoretical physicist and has written scholarly papers on the Spartan naval empire.
Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer was one of the early investors in Amazon. He started aQuantive which was acquired by Microsoft Corp. in 2007 for $6.4 billion. Hanauer said he doesn’t consider himself a “job creator.” In 2012, he advanced his ideas in a TED talk but TED organizers refused to post Hanauer’s lecture on the web, claiming it was too partisan.
Steve Silberstein made his fortune by co-founding a company that creates software for hundreds of college and university libraries. He opposes exorbitant executive salaries. He would tax companies with a large pay gap higher, and those with a narrower gap lower.
Leo Hindery Jr., raised a Jesuit and previously chief executive of AT&T Broadband and of the YES Network, the cable channel of the Yankees, is asking Congress to raise taxes on Patriotic Millionaires. Rich people like him don’t put their extra dollars back into the economy. They already own all they can use.
Ed. Notes: Wouldn’t it be cool if one of the super rich would propose to totally transform the system so that it no longer spewed forth unearned fortunes at one end and poverty at the other? Instead, people would earn their keep (add value), keep what they earn (zero taxes). And that’d go for both individuals and society as a whole.
The rich get rich not by working or investing so much as by corralling a portion of society’s surplus. They capture society’s spending for land and resources, or they enjoy patents and copyrights without paying full value for them, or they get other monopolies like broadcast licenses for free, or they pollute without paying an equivalent penalty, or they control the creation of new money, etc. Minus such privileges, fortunes would be much, much smaller.
Further, those now struggling would be much better off if government redirected the value of nature and privilege into the pockets of everyone and quit taxing goods and subsidizing bads. While it’s nice that the beneficiaries of today’s system want to give some unearned income back, it’d be even nicer if they’d lend their prominent voice to establishing a just system for everyone — a true geonomy in operation!
This 2014 excerpt of Truthout, Feb 22, is by Christian Exoo and Calvin F. Exoo.
Poverty is a causal factor (rather than merely correlational) in debilitating medical conditions that leave people sick, unable to work, and unable to think – all factors that then perpetuate poverty.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee paid every member of the tribe $6,000 in 2001, with children’s money going straight to a trust fund. The rate of conduct and oppositional defiant disorders in (now formerly) poor children dropped to that of children who had never experienced poverty. Those children were less likely to commit a crime and more likely to graduate high school. And by age 21, they had almost an additional year of schooling.
ADHD (which is almost twice as likely to appear in poor children as in the general population), is estimated to cost (for treatment, educational adjustments, parents missing work, and juvenile justice) $14,576 per child per year.
The human brain has a finite amount of bandwidth. If it is forced to spend that worrying about poverty, it will necessarily have less capacity to spend on other tasks. The poor often fail to take prescribed medications, fail to use preventative health care, and are less productive workers than their more-comfortable counterparts.
There are 49.7 million Americans currently living below the poverty line. We can expect each of them to gain 13 IQ points if the gap between their needs and their means to meet them were somehow bridged. What could we do with that much extra brain power? Heck, maybe we could even end poverty.
Ed. Notes: While sharing public revenue with the poor does save taxpayers money, the best way to share monies is not the usual welfare for the poor — food stamps, minimum wage, public housing, etc. It’d be much more efficient to just pay everyone an extra income, no strings attached. And it’d be much fairer to not use taxes on income and business but instead recover the socially-generated values of land and resources. Levy a land tax or charge a land use fee or raise the deed fee to the rental value of the location or institute land dues or lease public resources at full value, et al. Then parcel out that revenue to citizens as a dividend, sort of like Alaska, Aspen CO, and Singapore do.
At the same time, it’d be fair and cost-saving to abolish the corporate welfare for the rich. And if the government does quit taxing labor and capital, then people will become more productive and they’ll bid up the value of locations. That, in turn, will fatten the Citizen’s Dividend.
It’s geonomics, it works, but the left who argue for more of the same old welfare which has never gotten to the root of the problem don’t see it — yet.
This 2014 excerpt of Grok Granite, Feb 22, is by Skip Murphy.
An example of rent-seeking is when a company lobbies the government for loan subsidies, grants, or tariff protection. These activities don’t create any benefit for society, they just redistribute resources from the taxpayers to the special-interest group. Among those industries that are most apt to seek demand tax relief for what is just ordinary business is the Entertainment business.
Dear Governor O’Malley,
I wanted you to be aware that we are required to look at other states in which to film on the off chance that the legislation does not pass, or does not cover the amount of tax credits for which we would qualify.
Senior Vice President, Television Production
Politicians may be thinking the equation of most “the giving away of our peoples’ monies will be more than compensated by the extra revenues spent by the production crew” – it hardly ever works out that way.
Ed. Notes: Now you know why they call movies “magical”. They get even the powers-that-be to swoon. If Maryland or any state wants to attract filmmakers or any industry, all it has to do is quit taxing wages and other earnings, plus recover land rents, spurring owners to put/keep all locations at best use. Then the jurisdiction will be swamped with businesses, new and old, factual and fictional. Something similar worked well for the Asian Tiger.
This 2014 excerpt of Alternet, Feb 21, is by Mike Lofgren, a former congressional staffer on both the House and Senate budget committees, possessing a top secret security clearance.
The Deep State operates regardless of who is formally in power.
President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets; because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.
Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct “dragnet” surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant, and engage in witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, the chief executive displays intimidating force of militarized federal, state, and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama starts wars without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress; he forced the landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory.
We have heard very little from Republicans about these actions — with the exception of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, too, permit perjured testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.
When there was heated debate about the budget crisis, our government committed $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, the government has spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of seventeen football fields for the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text.
There is another government behind the one visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s a hybrid entity of public and private institutions. Its operators — the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, “the deciders” — mainly act in the light of day.
“Groupthink” — the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers — is endemic to Washington. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and it is not a career-enhancing move to question the mission. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet they simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate. It is easy to grow immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.
The Deep State is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Justice Department. We also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions, and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008 retroactively legalized the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: all that was required was the invocation of the word “terrorism” and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet.
What is euphemistically called private enterprise is an integral part of its operations. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top secret clearances — a number greater than that of top secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business.
Wall Street supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. They’re too big to jail yet the justice system has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants.
General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance; General Petraeus’s expertise in these areas is unclear; his ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. He also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is the preferred charm school of the American oligarchy.
Silicon Valley is a vital node of the Deep State as well. Unlike military and intelligence contractors, Silicon Valley overwhelmingly sells to the private market; but its business is so important to the government that a strange relationship has emerged. While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSA’s bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nation’s economy, perhaps with an implied quid pro quo. Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters — if an American “jailbreaks” his smartphone (i.e., modifies it so that it can use another service provider than the one dictated by the manufacturer), he could receive a fine of up to $500,000 and several years in prison; so much for a citizen’s vaunted property rights to what he purchases. The libertarian pose of the Silicon Valley moguls has always been a sham. Silicon Valley has long been tracking for commercial purposes the activities of every person who uses an electronic device.
Washington, the headquarters of the Deep State, has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion. Within the Beltway itself, the richest metropolitan area in the nation, virtually every time there is a severe summer thunderstorm, tens — or even hundreds — of thousands of residents lose power, often for many days. There are occasional water restrictions over wide areas because water mains, poorly constructed and inadequately maintained, have burst.
As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, the gears of the hybrid state mesh. But when one house of Congress is taken over by the Tea Party, life for the ruling class becomes more trying. Sequestration, the government shutdown, and the threat of default over the debt ceiling extension have been disrupting that equilibrium.
Also, Silicon Valley is losing billions in overseas business from companies, individuals, and governments that want to maintain privacy. For high-tech entrepreneurs, the cash nexus is ultimately more compelling than the Deep State’s demand for “patriotic” cooperation. Even legal compulsion can be combatted: unlike the individual citizen, tech firms have deep pockets and batteries of lawyers with which to fight government diktat. Silicon Valley is now lobbying Congress to restrain the NSA, a core component of the Deep State. Some tech firms are moving to encrypt their data.
Ed. Notes: The above is how nations shed their empires. Afterwards, the ordinary people are better off. Check out the regular citizens of former European powers that have lost all their colonies. Without its huge parasite — the military/industrial complex that President Gen. Dwgiht Eisenhower warned Americans about — perhaps America can get back to being the beacon of freedom and progress for the lagging parts of the world. We can stay number one in exporting pop culture, if the world still will want it, and forget about being war mongers.
This 2014 excerpt of Salon, Feb 21, is by Falguni A. Sheth.
The Obama administration resorts to incarceration (John Kiriakou), mock trials (Chelsea Manning), or no trials (Barrett Brown), rescinding passports (Edward Snowden), coercing other sovereign states to incarcerate challengers to its power (Yemen/Abdulelah Haider Shaye), and killing citizens and foreigners alike without review or impunity (whether by drones or financial starvation).
The FBI stands above the law and does not answer to any authority when they outright lie or make deliberate misrepresentations about what kind of operations they are or are not conducting. The Executive Branch enjoys extraordinary immunity from punishment when incredible abuses of power are committed and cases on torture, warrantless wiretapping, or spying are brought forward in court.
AG Eric Holder promised that he would not claim the state-secrets privilege to hide wrongdoing, incompetence, inefficiency, or embarrassment. Nor would he invoke it to “prevent or delay the release of information the release of which would not reasonably be expected to cause significant harm to national security.” Clearly, Holder lied.
Holder’s behavior and that of many of his colleagues in the Obama administration, such as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, indicates that they have no problems with lying about government practices, evading demands for evidence, or concealing violations with law.
The Obama administration has claimed the right to kill American citizens without charge or trial. That’s not an abuse of power. It’s a complete usurpation of power; it’s the monopoly of power.
Ed. Notes: The question that needs to be addressed is not whether the Obama administration is interested in holding itself accountable but whether we are interested. If so, the way to challenge the state’s political power is to challenge its economic power. That is, shrivel its power to tax and subsidize however the politicians see fit. Instead, restrict government to recovering our common wealth, the values generated by society, which typically attach to land, resources, or more precisely to locations, and to disbursing discretionary public revenue to the populace in general via a Citizen’s Dividend. Humans won’t be taxpayers so much as sovereign citizens. It may be scary to live under a government out of control but at least there’s something you can do about it.
This 2014 excerpt of the AP, Feb 20, is by Josh Boak.
The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States’ most prosperous and largest cities. The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average.
Many sources of both economic growth and income inequality have co-existed near each other for the past 35 years.
There’s something of a relationship between economic success and inequality.
Ed. Notes: Why’d Henry George even bother to write his classic, Progress and Poverty, back in 1879, people have so thoroughly forgotten his lesson. Of course there’s a gap. It’s because Ricardo’s observation about income distribution is a natural law, and natural laws (like gravity) are not so easily violated. The only way there couldn’t be a gap would be if the value of land — which is highest in cities where income is highest — were to be recovered and shared, something any city could achieve using its powers of raising revenue and disbursing revenue. So, unequal cities, what are you waiting for? George won’t be writing a sequel.
as unfamiliar as geo-economics. The latter is a course some universities offer that combines geography and economics. A UN newsletter, Go Between (57, Apr/May ’96; thanks, Pat Aller), cited an Asian conference on geopolitics and “geoeconomics”. The abbreviated term ‘geonomics” is the name of an institute on Middlebury College campus and of a show on CNBC. Both entities use the neologism to mean “global economics”, in particular world trade. We use geonomics entirely differently, to refer to the money people spend on the nature they use, how letting this flow collect in a few pockets creates class and poverty and assaults upon the environment, and how, on the other hand, sharing this rental flow creates equality, prosperity, and a people/planet harmony. This flow of natural rent, several trillions dollars in the US each year, shapes society and belongs to society.
a way to redirect all the money we spend on the nature we use – trillions of dollars annually. We can’t pay the Creator of sites and resources and are mistaken to pay their owners this biggest stream in our economy. Instead, as owners we should pay our neighbors for respecting our claims to land. Owners could pay in land dues to the public treasury, a la Sydney Australia’s land tax, and residents could get back a “rent” dividend, a la Alaska’s oil dividend. We’d pay for owning sites, resources, EM spectrum, or emitting pollutants into the ecosphere, then get a fair share of the recovered revenue. The economy would finally have a thermostat, the dividend. When it’s small, people would work more; when it’s big, they’d work less. Sharing Earth’s worth, we could jettison counterproductive taxes and addictive subsidies. Prices would become precise; things like sprawl, sprayed food, gasoline engines, coal-burning plants would no longer seem cheap; things like compact towns, organic foods, fuel cells, and solar powers would become affordable. Getting shares, people could spend their expanded leisure socializing, making art, enjoying nature, or just chilling. Economies let us produce wealth efficiently; geonomics lets us share it fairly.
what you do when you see economies as part of the ecosystem, following feedback loops and storing up energy. Surplus energy – fat or profit – enables us to produce and reproduce. To recycle society’s surplus, the commonwealth, geonomics would replace taxes with land dues (charged to users of sites and resources, including the EM spectrum, and extra to polluters), and replace subsidies with rent dividends to citizens (a la Alaska’s oil dividend). Without taxes and subsidies to distort them, prices become precise, reflect accurately our costs and values; then, motivated by no more than the bottom line, both producers and consumers make sustainable choices. While no place uses geonomics in its entirety, some places use parts of it, most notably a shift of the property tax off buildings, onto locations. Shifting the property tax drives efficient use of land, in-fills cities, improves the housing stock, makes homes affordable, engenders jobs and investment opportunities, lowers crime, raises civic participation, etc – overall it makes cities more livable. Geonomics – a way to share the bounty of nature and society – is something we can work for locally, globally, and in between.
a scientific look at how we divvy up the work and the wealth, how some of us end up with too much or too little effort or reward. That’s partly due to Ricardo’s Law of Rent, showing how wasteful use of Earth cuts wages. And it’s partly due to how a society’s elite runs government around like water boys, dishing out subsidies and tax breaks. While geonomists look political reality right in the eye, without blinking, conventional economists flinch. When Paul Volcker, ex-chief of the Federal Reserve, moved on to a cushy professorship at Princeton cum book contract, the crush of deadlines bore down. So Volcker asked a junior associate to help with the book. The guy refused, explaining that giving serious consideration to policy would ruin his academic career. The ex-Fed chief couldn’t believe it and asked the department chair if truly that were the case. That head honcho pondered the question then replied no, not if he only does it once. And economics was AKA political economy!
the policy that the earth’s natural patterns suggests. Use the eco-system’s self-regulating feedback loops as a model. What then needs changing? Basically, the flow of money spent to own or use Earth (both sites and resources) must visit each of us. Our agent, government, exists to collect this natural rent via fees and to disburse the collected revenue via dividends. Doing this, we could forgo taxes on homes and earnings and subsidies of either the needy or the greedy. For more, see our web site, our pamphlet of the title above, or any of our other lit pieces; ask for our literature list.
in part the Great Green Tax Shift maxed out. Economically, taxing pollution and depletion does reduce pollutants and extracts – and thus the tax base; plus such taxes are regressive, requiring a safety net. On the other hand, collecting site rent is progressive and generates a revenue surplus payable as a dividend to residents, which can serve as the safety net. Environmentally, taxes on waste and extraction do not drive efficient use of land, as does getting site rent.
close to the policy of the Garden Cities in England. Founded by Ebenezer Howard over a century ago, residents own the land in common and run the town as a business. Letchworth, the oldest of the model towns, serves residents grandly from bucketfuls of collected land rent (as does the Canadian Province of Alberta from oil royalty). A geonomic town would pay the rent to residents, letting them freely choose personalized services, and also ax taxes. Both geonomics and Howard were inspired by American proto-geonomist Henry George. The movement launched by Howard today in the UK advances the shift of taxes from buildings to locations. A recent report from the Town and Country Planning Association proposes this Property Tax Shift and their journal published research in the potential of land value taxation by Tony Vickers (Vol. 69, Part 5, 2000). (Thanks to James Robertson)
more transformation than reform; it’s a step ahead. Harvard economics students this year did petition to change the curriculum, in the wake of the English who caught the dissension from across The Channel. French reformers, who fault conventional economics for conjuring mathematical models of little empirical relevance and being closed to critical and reflective thought, reject this “autism” – or detachment from reality – and dub their offering “post-autistic economics”. Not a bad name, but again, academics define themselves by what they’re not, not by what they are, unlike geonomists. We track rent – the money we spend on the nature we use – and watch it pull all the other economic indicators in its wake. We see economies as part of the ecosystem, similarly following natural patterns and able to self-regulate more so than allowed, once we quit distorting prices. To align people and planet, we’d replace taxes and subsidies with recovering and sharing rents.
more transformation than reform; it’s a step ahead. Harvard economics students this year did petition to change the curriculum, in the wake of the English who caught the dissension from across The Channel. French reformers, who fault conventional economics for conjuring mathematical models of little empirical relevance and being closed to critical and reflective thought, reject this “autism” – or detachment from reality – and dub their offering “post-autistic economics”. Not a bad name, but again, academics define themselves by what they’re not, not by what they are, unlike geonomists. We track rent – the money we spend on the nature we use – and watch it pull all the other economic indicators in its wake. We see economies as part and parcel of the ecosystem, similarly following natural patterns and able to self-regulate more so than allowed, once we quit distorting prices. To align people and planet, we’d replace taxes and subsidies with recovering and sharing rents.
a way to have everybody pulling on the same end of the rope. Last summer’s expansive forest fires shed light on growing class resentment in the West. Old log-gers and ranchers rankled at the new urgency to stamp out the blazes that threatened the recent Aspenesque settlers. The newcomers expected working class firemen to make protecting their expensive homes top priority. (Chr Sci Mntr, Spt 7) The tinder for this envy? Rich people moving in bid up the price of land, making it hard to afford by people on the margin. The fault really lies with our system of privatizing land value. If this rising value were collected by land dues and shared by rent dividends – the essence of geonomic policy – who’d complain? The more people move in, the higher the land value, and the fatter the dividend paid to residents. Then people on the margin might go out of their way to invite rich outsiders in.