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This 2014 excerpt of Global Research, June 4, is by Bernd Hamm.
This paper starts with summarizing the major theoretical elements in the definition of a global ruling class. It then examines how neoconservatives in the US took power and used regime change to create chaos in other regions. A strategy of tension is used to press the population into conformity. But the real revolution is to what extent factual politics escape any attempt to democratic control. Three case studies show how far the Deep State already goes. Democracy is on the brink of survival.
“Illegitimate authority is on the rise and democracy is gradually succumbing to the disease of neoliberal ideology so that more and more functions of legitimate government are being assumed by illegitimate, unelected, opaque agents and organisations. This is the case at all levels, national, regional and international…. It is not exactly news that governments have always governed on behalf of certain class interests but this is different from allowing those interests to actually write the legislation and to make policy directly, including budgetary, financial, labour, social and environmental policy in the place of elected legislators and civil servants. It is different from allowing private corporations deliberately to disseminate deception and lies and undermine the public’s right to know. It’s not just their size, their enormous wealth and assets that make the TNCs dangerous to democracy. It’s also their concentration, their capacity to influence, and often infiltrate, governments and their ability to act as a genuine international social class in order to defend their commercial interests against the common good” (George, S. 2014).
Susan George accurately describes the paths our Western societies are following, the US most advanced, others lagging somewhat behind. It seems to be a one-way process without any escape towards democracy.
The global ruling class feeling that US world hegemony is approaching its end and uncertain about its own fate seems to be obsessed by paranoia, and running amok with only one goal left: to fill as much as possible into its own coffers. It even abstains from the impression of following the rule of law. Belligerent behavior towards other countries goes hand in hand with sharply increasing social tensions and conflict within.
US exceptionalism, by its very definition, is the deep conviction of one’s general superiority over others. Thus, it is a fundamentally intolerant and pre-enlightenment attitude. At the same time, it tends to turn a blind eye against own shortcomings and deficits. From it follows the self-attributed right to teach others, to impose on others one’s role model of morale and of social organization, to exert power on others, to maintain the role of world policeman. Contempt of international law follows from the idea that law is as we do. Little wonder that others in the course of political, economic, and cultural emancipation, decreasingly accept this master-and-serf model of power distribution. There is revolt in other parts of the world, and sometimes violently critical of “the West”. The world will de-Americanize, as one Chinese diplomat put it. But real and lasting change must come from within US society.
Ed. Notes: Except there is no political solution in the sense of stronger laws and better politicians. There is only an economic solution, and that is to share the common wealth. It is our failure to share the common wealth that allows the most grasping among us to gather up for themselves that which belongs to everyone, in the process making themselves into an upper class many times richer and more powerful. We can not continue to leave trillions of dollars on the table each year and expect results any different from what we now endure. To win your political independence you must first demand your economic independence, generated by everybody getting a fair share of society’s surplus, of the values of land, natural resources, EM spectrum, and other aspects of nature that our demands and technologies have given economic value. Once we all start paying in land dues and getting back rent dividends, the problem of power, class, and hierarchy will be solved once and for all.
This 2014 excerpt of the Washington Post, Jun 29, is by Robert J. Samuelson.
We need a shift in thinking, argues the Bank for International Settlements. Pay less attention to the business cycle and more attention to “the financial cycle.” It typically lasts 15 to 20 years and may straddle several traditional business cycles. In its early years, the debt levels of households and businesses gradually increase. This drives up asset prices — especially of real estate — and makes debtors feel richer. This is the cycle’s expansive phase. But when financial booms turn to busts, defaults multiply, asset prices collapse. The fallout lingers.
The Great Recession has inflicted enduring economic damage. Business investment has lagged. Many workers have dropped out of the labor force. Conventional business-cycle analysis didn’t anticipate these steep losses. Low interest rates by the Fed and other government central banks have only modestly helped recovery.
Given the financial cycle’s ugly climax, governments should shift their focus from smoothing business cycles to preventing excessive debt, counsels the BIS. “Good policy is less a question of seeking to pump up growth at all costs than of removing the obstacles that hold it back.”
This 2014 excerpt of the Weekly Wastebasket, Jun 27, by Taxpayers for Common Sense.
The Export-Import bank, by loaning money to foreign buyers of U.S. products and providing loan guarantees and insurance-like products for U.S. exporters, became a favor-factory for politically well-connected corporations trolling for corporate welfare; airlines and oil and gas development are where the Ex-Im is most heavily exposed. Currently the Ex-Im has nearly $114 billion in liabilities.
Both the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General have repeatedly criticized it for shoddy management, bad accounting, and faulty risk analysis, including CBO’s determination last month that using realistic accounting methods, the bank’s claimed “profits” for taxpayers will actually turn into at least $2 billion of losses. It lost more than $5 billion in the 1980s — back when billions meant something.
Roughly three-quarters of the total assistance the Ex-Im made in 2013 went to just 10 large companies —- including John Deere, Caterpillar, and Dow Chemicals —- with fully a third going to Boeing. The “Bank of Boeing” is a Washington scheme where the politically well-connected, and the companies financing them, can get a sweet deal while taxpayers foot the bill. Privatized profits and socialized risks.
Adding insult to fiscal injury, four Ex-Im employees were suspended or removed due to allegations of gifts and kickbacks. There have been at least 74 documented cases of improper behavior since 2009. Ex-Con(vict)gressman William Jefferson (D-LA), who was caught with a $90,000 bribe stuffed in his freezer, got the cold, hard cash in part by promising to push for an Ex-Im loan.
Last year the Ex-Im decreased its loaning activity, yet overall U.S. exports actually increased. With the September expiration of the Export-Import Bank, the best path forward is to do what this Congress has shown it can do best — nothing. To protect taxpayers, Congress needs to let the Ex-Im expire.
Ed. Notes: By now, we all should be tired of politicians spending our money “for us”. Let’s abolish all subsidies already. Instead, we ought to share the common wealth. All those trillions we spend each year in America for things nobody made — like land, oil, the EM spectrum — we should redirect all that spending into the pockets of we the people in general. It’s the populace who give natural resources their value and nobody’s labor or capital brought them into existence. If we all paid land dues, we could axe taxes. If we all got rent dividends, we could abolish subsidies, especially waste such as the Ex-Im Bank.
This 2014 excerpt of Vox, Jun 27, is by Joseph Stromberg.
When we find an open spot on the street, and there’s no meter, it seems free — but it is the result of government spending. The cost of the land, pavement, street cleaning, and other services come directly out of tax dollars. Each on-street parking space is estimated to cost around $1,750 to build and $400 to maintain annually.
People who don’t drive cars pay for other peoples’ parking. Cities that depend on cars make it more difficult for people who don’t use cars to get around.
Most city governments (with the exception of New York, San Francisco, and a few other dense cities) require all new buildings to include parking spaces. This too costs money. In Washington DC, the underground spots many developers build to comply with these minimum requirements cost between $30,000 and $50,000 each. This cost ultimately gets passed along to consumers.
Mandating that developers build many spots of free parking — instead of letting demand determine how much parking is necessary — often wastes space on unnecessary empty lots and garages.
So do away with both minimum and maximum numbers of off street parking for new buildings.
The annual free parking subsidy to cars is as much as $127 billion nationally. For daily commuters that park free, this subsidy can be worth more than the cost of driving, on a per-mile basis.
When people drive around looking for parking, this adds to traffic congestion and carbon emissions. When homes have parking, residents drive more. OTOH, where parking is bought, more people use public transit.
The gas tax reflects the idea that car drivers should pay for driving on the roads. Include parking on the streets. Charge the right price — the lowest price you can charge and still have one or two open spaces per block. Several cities, including San Francisco, have recently begun experimenting with the variable, market-set pricing scheme.
Cities should not just put new parking revenues into their general funds but pay for new street lighting, public wifi and all sorts of infrastructure improvements that revitalize downtown.
Ed. Notes: It’s not just drivers who should pay to park — it’s all land users should pay to use land. Every time you displace others who want to use the same spot, then you should compensate them, just as they would compensate you.
You buy or build a house, you pay for the underlying land, but not to an individual seller who’s departing the land but rather to your surrounding community. No individual seller made the land nor made it valuable. The community creates the land’s value (by creating demand for locations) and it’s the members of the community who get excluded.
In effect, we’d rent from our neighbors as they’d rent from us. Continually paying rent would spur us to take no more than we need and to use that wisely. Society would get to enjoy the most efficient land use possible and the healthiest environment. Plus, the land dues could replace counterproductive taxes and the rent dividends (the compensation) could replace addictive subsidies. We could streamline government and save vaults of money. Just adopt the geonomic principle of pay for what you take, not what you make.
This 2014 excerpt of Reader Supported News, Jun 27, is by Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Through four Congressional committees — foreign relations, armed services, homeland security, and “defense” appropriations — $300 billion in taxpayer dollars, which is roughly $2000 per taxpayer, went to private military contractors in 2013.
Between the two of them, Senators McCain and Durbin received more than $300,000 in campaign contributions from contractors. Members of the Senate who voted YES for military intervention in Syria received 83 percent more in campaign donations from military contractors than those who voted NO.
Contractors hire expensive lawyers with connections in government.
The Hogan Lovell law firm, where Chief Justice John Roberts previously worked before joining the Supreme Court, explicitly boasts on its website about its expertise in helping corporate clients worm their way through the regulatory system.
Justice Antonin Scalia worked in the Jones Day law firm before Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Supreme Court. Jones Day’s client list includes war profiteers like Bechtel, General Electric, and Verizon.
In 2010, both Scalia and Roberts voted to establish money as speech in the Citizens United vs. FEC decision, which allowed for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money influencing elections. Recently, both justices voted that aggregate limits on individual campaign donations are unconstitutional in McCutcheon vs. FEC.
Contact Carl Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG. See source
Ed. Notes: The money that corporations spend on office holders is not to persuade anybody, since they all have the same values and worldview, but to keep flow of public money to each player flowing ever faster. There is no political solution. Reformers want electoral campaigns to be publicly funded, but the nations already doing that still wage war and waste public revenue.
But there is an economic solution. That is, let citizens spend public money by having government disburse a dividend. And don’t let government tax whatever it wants but only recover socially generated values (don’t tax earnings, purchases, or buildings but rather charge polluters, resource depleters, and land displacers).
Once politicians can’t grant favors, nobody will want to lobby them. Then we can abolish corporate welfare and deny rent-seeking. There won’t be anyone unduly rich to try to influence the power structure left. Such geonomic reform begins not by focusing on one’s opponents but on a vision of how to run things right. Share the common wealth!
This 2014 excerpt of the Washington Post, Jun 27, is by Jaime Fuller.
According to a new Pew survey, 62 percent of Americans think that the economic system unfairly favors the powerful, and 78 percent think that too much power is concentrated in too few companies. The discontent isn’t limited to liberals; 69 percent of young conservative-leaning voters and 48 percent of the most conservative voters agree that the system favors the powerful.
Business conservatives hold vastly different views of the American economic system than most Americans. Two-thirds of business conservatives think the economic system is fair to most people, and 57 percent think that large companies do not have too much power.
Business conservatives’ confidence in the economic system might differ from everyone else, but business conservatives are politically active enough to make a big impression on politicians.
Ed. Notes: Now Americans must consense on the solution: Shift from letting politicians spend our public dollars to paying citizens a dividend and shift from taxing our efforts to recovering the common wealth — the worth of Earth. Even small steps in this geonomic direction have made a big difference, whenever and wherever tried. If only geonomics had its own Senator Warren!
In a study from California, children with an autism spectrum disorder were 60% more likely to have mothers who lived close to fields treated with certain pesticides during pregnancy.
Proximity to agricultural pesticides in pregnancy was also linked to other types of developmental delay among children.
“Ours is the third study to specifically link autism spectrum disorders to pesticide exposure,” said lead author Janie F. Shelton, from the University of California, Davis.
Pesticides affect signaling between cells in the nervous system, she added, so a direct link is plausible.
California is one of only a few states in the U.S. where agricultural pesticide use is rigorously reported and mapped.
Developmental delay, in which children take extra time to reach communication, social or motor skills milestones, affects about four percent of U.S. kids. One in 68 children has an ASD, also marked by deficits in social interaction and language.
Prenatal exposure to pesticides is associated with lower IQ.
This study almost certainly underestimates the true strength of the association between pesticides and neurological problems since it did not precisely measure each individual woman’s exposure.
For city-dwelling families, instead of spraying for cockroaches every month, integrated pest management is a better choice. That approach makes chemical pesticides the last resort – first steps are to seal up cracks and crevices in the home, clean up food residue, and try relatively non-toxic options, like roach motels.
Ed. Notes: People should quit accepting as normal or OK that some pay pollute others for profit. One main culprit is the liability limits that any polluter can get from the government for just a tiny filing fee. That fee should be raised and some pollutants should not be tolerated at all.
Maybe it would help if we all got our fair share of the worth of Earth. Then we’d get more as the earth got healthier. So we would more stoutly oppose pollution.
This 2014 excerpt of Aeon, Jun 23, is by Andrew Crumey.
In nearly every era there arises, in some form, nearly every idea of which humans are capable. Certainly, there is the emergence of new ideas. However, the vast majority of ideas are recycled.
It is not hard to find fossilised ideas all around us. We still say that the sun rises and sets, or that we cast a glance over a page, though we know that the Earth rotates and rays come into our eyes, not out of them.
There are an awful lot of present-day theoretical physicists whose untestable ideas about superstrings or multiverses possibly put them in the same category as the jocular British pop-astrologer Russell Grant.
Intuition, however, could be considered revelation by a more secular name. We willingly attribute it to discoverers and innovators of all kinds – as long as their guesses are right.
The standard model of elementary particles grew out of studies of ‘symmetry groups’, an area of mathematics related to Kepler’s geometrical exercises. In each case, the idea was the same: start with a concept of mathematical symmetry and try to make it match reality.
The harmony of the spheres also has its counterpart in modern-day superstring theory, which supposes particles to correspond to those same vibrations that captivated the Pythagoreans, though, after more than 30 years of intensive study, the theory has yet to make a single prediction borne out by experiment.
An ‘occult force’, in Newton’s terms, was any hidden principle not directly observable in phenomena, and his opponents claimed that his version of gravitation was itself an occult force since it assumed some mysterious ‘action at a distance’. An analogous situation was thought by some to arise in quantum theory, leading to what Albert Einstein allegedly disparaged as ‘spooky action at a distance’.
Newton sought the original unit of length. In a different way, so do today’s physicists, though rather than cubits they speak of the ‘Planck length’, a unit determined by some juggling with fundamental values such as the speed of light and the gravitational constant.
The recurrence of ideas over the course of history is something that Jung or Pauli would have attributed to archetypes in the collective unconscious. An alternative would be the finiteness of human imagination, and susceptibility to cultural influence. While scientific theories can become increasingly technical and abstract, the brains that struggle to interpret their meaning haven’t evolved much in the past 50,000 years. If our own brain is a kind of living fossil, it’s hardly surprising that so much of what we do with it is metaphorically fossilised too.
Ed. Notes: So what’s new under the sun? Not much. Some ideas re-occur — as if they were behind their times — just as other ideas first appear, often without being accepted — as if they are ahead of their time. At least the re-occurence of good old ideas gives them another chance of being accepted, just as at last geonomics is gaining ground, over a century after Georgism, which which was over a century after phyiocracy, which was a century after Locke, Spinoza, William Penn, etc, and all of them were millennia after Confucius and Mencius.
This 2014 excerpt of BBC, May 15, by Jonathan Webb.
Researchers have developed a collection of new plastics that are recyclable and adaptable – and the discovery began with a laboratory mistake.
They include strong, stiff plastics and flexible gels that can mend themselves if torn.
Dr Jeanette Garcia, from IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, stumbled upon the first new class of thermosets in many years when she accidentally left one of three components out of a reaction.
That chunk of plastic, produced from unexpectedly simple ingredients, proved to be tremendously hard and stable. Crucially, it could be digested in acid, reverting to its original components. This digestion reaction allows the chemical building blocks, or monomers, to be reused.
All previous “thermosets”, like the Bakelite found in old telephones and radios, were not recyclable.
Because they are strong and light-weight, thermosets are used throughout modern cars and aircraft, often mixed with carbon fibres to form composites. The new plastics could reduce waste from aircraft materials. When a large or expensive component is damaged or reaches the end of its useful life, it could be repaired or recycled instead of thrown away.
As well as very hard and durable plastics, the researchers adapted their procedure to a different monomer and produced flexible, self-healing gels. These could be useful in anything from cosmetics, to paint, to the design of drug capsules, because of their particular solubility properties.
Ed. Notes: Industry catches up to kindergartners who know to clean up after themselves. As the environment becomes more livable again, it will cost more to live in it. Hence we better have progress in social policy to match the progress in materials technology. That is, we should make the higher land values into a boon for everyone by recovering and sharing them, in lieu of taxation and wasteful spending. It’s called geonomics and aligns the needs of Earth with those of humanity.
This 2014 excerpt of Daily Kos, Jun 20, is by Hunter, a blogger there.
According to a new poll 47 percent of us aren’t monsters.
In 1995, in the midst of a raging political debate about welfare and poverty, less than a third of poll respondents said people were in poverty because of issues beyond their control. At that time, a majority said that poverty was caused by character flaws, by “people not doing enough.” Now, nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, attribute poverty to factors other than individual initiative.
In hard economic times, people become more sympathetic to the poor. About half us recognize that there are things that can make you poor —- from simple lack of opportunity to medical crises to local economic conditions to a not-very-long string of bad luck —- that do not stem from a simple case of insufficient bootstrap-pulling.
Ed. Notes: Perhaps next, a majority of Americans will accept the cure for poverty, which is distributing the common wealth fairly, rather than let a 1% hog most of it. To accomplish that, we’d all pay in land dues and get back rent dividends, swollen by the values of locations downtown, oil fields, the EM spectrum, etc. The land dues could replaces counterproductive taxes, the dividends could replace wasteful subsidies. Most people would come out way ahead. We’d be free to work as much as we want, at what we love, and to deveop our talents in anyway we want.
These two 2014 excerpts on LVT, Jun 26, are of NICVA by Elizabeth Hendron and of The Guardian by Simon Goodley and Leila Haddou.
Tax Land, Not Houses
NICVA’s Centre for Economic Empowerment has launched a new report into the feasibility of introducing a land value tax in Northern Ireland.
Under the current system of taxation, charges are levied on land and the improvements – typically buildings – together, with no distinction made between the two.
Under a system of Land Value Tax, the charges would be levied on the land only, with improvements subject to zero or minimal taxation. If introduced it could mean that land bought by developers but not developed, and agricultural land could be taxed for the first time.
This would shift the burden of real estate taxation towards less productive activities, particularly speculation on land, which is a major source of property bubbles. LVT would be a progressive tax, with the most deprived paying least.
Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of NICVA said, “House prices in Northern Ireland are on the rise again. As before, this has been widely welcomed as an indication of economic progress. It is important to ensure that any price rises are a sustainable result of real economic growth, rather than speculation. In this context, this report is crucial reading.”
Inflated property values merely increase indebtedness and reduce economic output.
People who have low incomes and modest homes should continue to receive rates relief, as currently applied. People with low incomes but with expensive properties could defer payment until the property is sold.
Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, is hoarding land and buildings covering an area big enough to build 15,000 homes, a Guardian analysis has revealed.
While the aggregate size of Tesco’s land bank could theoretically be used to build many homes, it is distributed across Britain, with some plots likely to be unsuitable for housing.
Some of the portfolio is residential property or rented to other retailers, but the majority is undeveloped. Tesco last year said its UK property empire was worth £20bn.
The hoarding of development land for long periods has also drawn criticism in the house building sector – which owns far larger plots of land than the supermarkets.
Fred Harrison, an economist who has called for land to be taxed as if the sites were in use, added: “Given there is a market demand for it and we know the value, you can charge the owners for the public services that make the land valuable. Then they lose money if they just sit on it with no revenue”.
This 2014 excerpt of Lebanon’s Alakhbar, Jun 17, by Alain Tabourian, industrialist, Minister of Energy and Water from 2008 to 2009, and graduate of the Harvard Business School.
I do not see any future for industry in Lebanon, and definitely not a world-class industry.
Private investors who enter into partnership with the public sector in an unstable region of the world assume a Weighted Average Cost Of Capital (WACC) of 15 to 20 percent.
Still, a major international company reached out to us for collaboration on establishing a world-class production unit in the food industry, which would have employed 1,000 people. It was found not to be feasible due to the high price of agricultural land, which was about 10 to 20 times the global average.
High land prices here have no corresponding economic justifications. Who could believe that our locations produce 10 to 20 times more than elsewhere?
High hotel room rates keeps Lebanon off the global tourism market.
Everything has high prices because of excess liquidity that has no room to be invested productively except in inflating bank deposits or buying up real estate. Acquisition of real estate does not result in any cost. A person may keep a piece of land for 30 or 40 years without paying any fees, then sell it at a huge profit without paying any tax.
Investors in the real economy bear many risks even as they employ people. If these investors profit, they pay taxes, first on profits, and second on distribution. Is that fair? Does this encourage productive investments?
The solution is not to increase tariffs. Doing so would reduce the consumers’ purchasing power, reducing their demand for the rest of goods and services, and subsequently, cause the entire economy to contract.
The rentier economy is also directly responsible for the migration of our young people. The Lebanese economy does not create enough value-added jobs that can accommodate the capacities of educated young people.
These young people send remittances to support their families. Meanwhile, we import low-wage workers for simple jobs, and these workers in turn send a large part of their incomes to their home countries.
We had a war that caused widespread destruction, and we had to rebuild. We benefited from external cash inflows, which drove consumption up. At the same time, oil prices rose, and the incomes of Lebanese expatriates improved, increasing the size of their remittances to Lebanon. Of course, the energy bill skyrocketed, but money was available to pay it thanks to remittances. We also benefited from the global debt crisis of 2008, which reduced interests to zero in the major economies, reducing the cost of our debt and increasing the flow of capital. However, all these factors are precarious.
Ed. Notes: It is painfully ironic that economic troubles are easy to solve logically and hard to solve politically. Imagine if Lebanon taxed land or instituted land dues; there goes speculation and the inflated price for locations. Imagine if Lebanon repealed taxes on wages and on profits from actual output; there goes the scarcity of capital as domestic savings and investments from outside pile up. Imagine if Lebanon did not subsidize any industry or product, not even fuel for heating homes; there goes waste to be replaced by upgrading the means of production. Make these geonomic reforms and maybe Lebanon could lead the Middle East to peace and prosperity.
This 2014 excerpt of the New York Times, Jun 17, is by Michael Forsythe.
President Xi Jinping of China has been pushing his own family to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in investments. If he doesn’t do this, it is very hard for him to convince other elite families to be more self-disciplined.
Xi’s sister Qi Qiaoqiao and brother-in-law Deng Jiagui sold investments in at least 10 companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including their 50 percent stake in a Beijing investment company they had set up in partnership with a state-owned bank.
Even while Mr. Xi’s relatives were selling off assets, those calling publicly for more disclosure have been jailed. The websites of The Times and Bloomberg, which have both reported on elite shareholdings, have been blocked in China for many months.
Relatives of the Politburo elite are deeply enmeshed in the state-driven business culture of the country. They have accumulated billions of dollars in assets, including company shares and real estate, in the past decade as China’s economy has boomed. Many of the investments are in areas such as mining, infrastructure, and property that involve the privatization of formerly state-owned assets.
At least four families among the nine-man Politburo Standing Committee that ruled the country from 2007 to 2012 each owned or controlled documented assets in excess of $150 million, including relatives of Xi, former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Zhou, and Jia Qinglin (the former fourth-ranked party member).
Deng through a Shanghai holding company owned more than one-sixth of a rare-earth mining company that reported assets of about $2.1 billion. Rare earths go into critical components in electric cars and wind turbines.
Qinchuan was set up in the weeks after Xi ascended to the Politburo Standing Committee in 2007 with $2.7 million in investments, ballooning to $156 million four years later. Deng and Qi did not sell three of its most valuable assets held by Qinchuan, including two infrastructure companies in the city of Xiangyang in Hubei Province. The three assets are together worth at least $234 million.
On Oct. 8, ownership of Qinchuan itself was transferred out of the family and into the hands of a longtime business associate, Xu Zaisheng. Qi, her husband Deng, and her daughter Zhang Yannan still hold tens of millions of dollars in company shares and real estate, including a villa overlooking Hong Kong’s exclusive Repulse Bay.
Surging income inequality in China is among the highest in the world and far greater than in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan: neighbors that, unlike China, do not have Communist roots.
Ed. Notes: These details from China show how government creates fortunes, a universal process, that happens in all times and places, even in so-called market economies. In the US, investors and politicians both got rich off railroads. Oil companies, thru their lobbyists and the banks they spun off, enriched helpful politicians along with the businessmen. Governments paid for paving roads which made it possible to sell millions of cars. Governments bought millions of desktop computers and developed the internet, paving the way for fortunes to be made in Silicon Valley. If government is to have a role in industry, then the resultant profit should go to the public. Or better yet, politicians should not give or receive favor from any players in the business world.
This 2014 excerpt of Wired, Jun 12, is by Jordan Golson.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that his company will not “initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” In plain English, that means that if other car companies want to produce electric cars, they can use Tesla’s technology to do it.
Of course, Tesla wants to make and sell electric cars (it exists to make a profit, theoretically), but in order to do that on a large scale, the company needs to move past the niche markets that the Model S currently plays in. They need the public to stop thinking of them as electric cars and to start thinking of them simply as cars.
“They need to see Americans … at least be open to switching to an electric vehicle lifestyle,” Kelly Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer said. By themselves, “they’re never going to convert the average American into an electric car fan, even with great press and great publicity.” A $90,000 electric car for celebrities and the Silicon Valley elite isn’t going to save the world.
At the moment, the Model S is the only electric car that acts as a true replacement for a more traditional gasoline-powered automobile, with its 200+ mile range and network of rapid charging stations that stretches from coast-to-coast across 96 stations in the US, with dozens more coming in North America, Europe and Asia. Not enough people are interested in electric cars with 70-100 miles of range, as Nissan and others are discovering.
If other automakers begin using Tesla’s technology, it increases the value of the company and its inventions. Tesla has hundreds of patents, but if the company goes bust because not enough people buying electric cars, they’re all meaningless. Tesla needs widespread adoption of electric cars and the easiest way to do that is to get other automakers to sell them too.
Ed. Notes: This is not the only time that it’s not a good idea for an inventor to hoard his discovered knowledge. Actually, it’s rarely a good idea. Patents and copyrights don’t protect inventors so much as they benefit corporations who use the legalisms to post “no trespassing” signs on the field of knowledge, hampering the spread of good ideas.
Competition and cooperation work best together, not apart. More beneficial to inventors is getting a head-start in business, establishing a brand identity, and capturing huge market share (see Apple).
Of course, inventors deserve to be rewarded for their useful creations. But is owning and hoarding knowledge the best way to do that? Preventing everyone else from using a good idea when they’re not the first to realize it?
Should ownership go on forever? Should the descendants of Newton be paid every time somebody uses calculus? Should no one ever repeat a joke without paying the person who first told it?
Does the first person who stepped on the moon own the moon? Nope. Not unless they compensate everyone else who also wants to and can visit the moon. That’s what makes owning land — or ideas — proper … or “property”, and that is compensating those excluded. Pay the rental value of land, or of knowledge, to society and it is yours … for as long as you keep paying your neighbors (as they’ll be paying you in your harmonious geonomy).
This 2014 excerpt of Fortune, Jun 10, is by Chris Matthews.
When we think of government corruption, our biased minds often gravitate to thoughts of military juntas and third world governments. But corruption is everywhere, in one form or another. And it’s costing U.S. citizens big time.
Corruption on the state level is costing Americans in the 10 most corrupt states an average of $1,308 per year, or 5.2% of those states’ average expenditures per year.
Between 1976 and 2008, there have been more than 25,000 convictions of public officials for violation of federal corruption laws. Further, state spending reveals patterns of corruption.
Based on these data, the the most corrupt states are:
8. South Dakota
Mississippi and Louisiana are some of the least economically developed states in the country. Illinois and Pennsylvania are part of the Rust Belt. Alaska is resource rich.
For 9 out of the 10 of the most corrupt states, overall state spending was higher than in less corrupt states (South Dakota was the only exception). Attacking corruption could bring down state spending without hurting programs that benefit people.
Spending in these states was different than their less corrupt counterparts; it favors construction, salaries, borrowing, correction, and police protection at the expense of schools and hospitals.
Construction spending, especially on big infrastructure projects, is particularly susceptible to corruption because the industry is dominated by a few monopolistic, well-connected firms. Corrupt states also have more and better paid public employees, including police and correctional officers, who may have more to do where residents are kept poor.
The least corrupt states are: Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Vermont, Utah, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Kansas. All are in the North, are either mountainous or prairie, and several are play states.
Ed. Notes: Government officials can’t be corrupt if they can’t spend public money. There is no good reason to continue to allow them to enjoy this ppwer. The budget could be put on the ballot and bonds could be offered for sale for infrastructure projects; if they don’t sell, the project dies. If we could clean up public spending, then next we could correct taxation. And once we straighten out the state and local governments, then we could shape up the federal government … and finally live in a citizen-friendly nation — a geocracy!
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 loggers 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.
one of many words I coined over 20 years ago: geoism, geonomics, geonomy, geocracy, etc – neologisms that later others came up with, too. CNBC once had a Geonomics Show, and Middlebury College has a Geonomics Institute. If “economy” is literally “management of the household”, then geonomy is “management of the planet”. The kind of management I had in mind is not what CNBC was thinking – top-down. My geonomics is not hands-on, interfering, but hands-off, organic. It’d strive to align policy with natural processes, similar to what holistic healing does in medicine, what organic farming does in agriculture. Geonomics attends to two key components: One, the crucial stuff to track is fat – or profit, especially profits without production, such as rent, or all the money we spend on the nature we use. Society’s surplus is the sine qua non for growth, needed to counter death – not merely more, but sustainable development, more from less. Two, the basic process to respect is the feedback loop. These let nature maintain balance automatically and could do the same for markets, if we let them. Letting them would turn our economies, now our masters, into a geonomy, our servant, providing us with prosperity, eco-librium (to coin a term) and leisure, time off – a hostile environment for economan but a cradle for a loving and creative humanity.
a neologism for sharing “rent” or “social surplus” – the money we spend on the nature we use. When we buy land, such as the land beneath a home, we typically pay the wrong person – the homeowner. Instead, since land cost us nothing to make and is the common heritage of us all, rather than pay the owner, we should pay ourselves, our neighbors, our community. That is, we should all pay land dues to the public treasury, then our government would pay us land dividends from this collected revenue. It’s similar to the Alaska oil dividend, almost $2,000 last year. Indeed, the annual rental value of land, oil, all other natural resources, including the broadcast spectrum and other government-granted permits such as corporate charters, totals several trillion dollars each year. It’s so much that some could be spent on basic social services, the rest parceled out as a dividend, as Tom Paine suggested, and taxes (except any on natural rents) could be abolished, as Thomas Jefferson suggested. Were we sharing Earth by sharing her worth, territorial disputes would be fewer, less intense, and more resolvable.
a new policy from a new perspective. Once your worldview shifts — so that vacant city lots are no longer invisible — then epiphany. “Of course! Why didn’t I see it before?” Once you do see the emptiness and what damage it does, how can you ever go back to the old paradigm?
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.
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. Better settlement patterns do reduce extraction upstream and pollution downstream.
Politically, green fees have less impact if applied locally; local is where grassroots movements have more impact. Yet getting rent usually entails shifting the property tax (or charging user fees), the province of local jurisdictions; both mayors and city voters have been known to adopt a site-value tax.
Ethically, putting into practice “tax bads, not goods” skirts the issue of sharing Mother Earth which collecting rent confronts head on. Since nothing is fixed until it’s fixed right, ultimately, greens must lead humanity into geotopia where we all share the worth of Mother Earth.
of interest to Dave Lakhani, President Bold Approach (Mar 8) and Matt Ozga (Jan 29): “I write for the Washington Square News, the student run newspaper out of New York University. Geonomics seems like it has great significance, especially in this area. When was geonomics developed, and by whom?”
About 1982 I began. Two years later, Chilean Dr Manfred Max-Neef offered the term geonomics for Earth-friendly economics. In the mid-80s, a millionaire founded a Geonomics Institute on Middlebury College campus in Vermont re global trade. In the 1990s, CNBC cablecast a show, Geonomics, on world trade as it benefits world traders. My version of geonomics draws heavily from the American Henry George who wrote Progress & Poverty (1879) and won the mayoralty of New York but was denied his victory by Tammany Hall (1886). He in turn got lots from Brits David Ricardo, Adam Smith, and the French physiocrats of the 1700s. My version differs by focusing not on taxation but on the flow of rents for sites, resources, sinks, and government-granted privileges. Forgoing these trillions, we instead tax and subsidize, making waste cheap and sustainability expensive. To quit distorting price, replace taxes with “land dues” and replace subsidies with a Citizens Dividend.
Matt: “This idea of sharing rents sounds, if not explicitly socialist, at least at odds with some capitalist values (only the strong survive & prosper, etc). Is it fair to say that geonomics has some basis in socialist theory?”
A closer descriptor would be Christian. Beyond ethics into praxis, Alaska shares oil rent with residents, and they’re more libertarian than socialist. While individuals provide labor and capital, no one provides land while society generates its value. Rent is not private property but public property. Sharing Rent is predistribution, sharing it before an elite or state has a chance to get and misspend it, like a public REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) paying dividends to its stakeholders – a perfectly capitalist model. What we should leave untaxed are our sales, salaries, and structures, things we do produce.
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.
about the money we spend on the nature we use. It flows torrentially yet invisibly, often submerged in the price of housing, food, fuel, and everything else. Flowing from the many to the few, natural rent distorts prices and rewards unjust and unsustainable choices. Redirected via dues and dividends to flow from each to all, “rent” payments would level the playing field and empower neighbors to shrink their workweek and expand their horizons. Modeled on nature’s feedback loops, earlier proposals to redirect rent found favor with Paine, Tolstoy, and Einstein. Wherever tried, to the degree tried, redirecting rent worked. One of today’s versions, the green tax shift, spreads out of Europe. Another, the Property Tax Shift, activists can win at the local level, building a world that works right for everyone.
an answer for Jonathan of the Green Party (Nov 7): “What does ‘share our surplus’ mean?”
Our surplus is the values that society generates synergistically. It’s the money we spend on the nature we use: on land sites, natural resources, EM spectrum, ecosystem services (assimilating pollutants). It’s also the money we pay to holders of government-granted privileges like corporate charters. We could share it by paying for the nature we use and privileges we hold to the public treasury then getting back a fair share of the recovered revenue. Used to be, owners did owe rent (“own” and “owe” used to be one word). And presently, some lucky residents do get back periodic dividends: Alaska’s oil dividend and Aspen Colorado’s housing assistance. Doing that, instead of subsidizing bads while taxing goods, is the essence of geonomics.
Jonathan: “Is local currency what you mean?”
Editor: It’s not. Community currency is a good reform, but every good reform pushes up site values. That makes land an even more tempting object of speculation. Now, any good will eventually do bad by widening the income gap – until you share land values.