The House

The House

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Occupy Greed

 As the presidential election unfolds we watch as a man who gained his riches by raiding corporations tries to convince the electorate he is the answer to all our problems. What ever made the republican party believe that an avowed 1%, who keeps his money hidden off shore, has joined a class of job
destroyers exporters in the wake of Occupy could be made president? I have been trying to write this segment all month and each day something else in the campaign and this country shows the arrogance of to large a portion of the plutocracy.

 Occupy has celebrated its first anniversary with "flash" protests and has decided for the most part that the focus in the next year will be to fight debt slavery. with a growing  One in five households yolked by student debt, nationally totaling over a trillion dollars,larger than credit card debt nationwide; debt is the common thread that binds the 99%. Homes are still being foreclosed, each family picked off one by one in the largest banking land grab in modern times. The crisis big money created, the chaos and usury of the banks is unfolding still after five years, virtually unabated. Not because President Obama has been recalcitrant in dealing with the issues, but because the republican/tea party plutocratic backed minority has held our country hostage over ideology. The greed apparent in the market as it soars to near  pre recession highs causes no loss of sleep for the ultra rich 400 who now own more than the bottom 99% combined. To give you  an idea and some proof of the hubris of the republican candidate and the ilk that want him in power, a quote from Edward Conard; former Bain Capital partner with Mitt Romney, in his book Unintended Consequences:

 "Let's not kid ourselves about just how cheap offshore labor really is. We not only pay substantially less per hour, we also avoid the costs we would incur if these workers immigrated here. We don't pay for there medical expenses, when they show up in the emergency room without insurance. We don't pay for their pension costs if they don't save for retirement. We don't pay for their children's public education, nor do we pay for their out of wed-lock children, their unemployment benefits, their
 workers compensation, their slip and fall torts, their wear and tear on public infrastructure and the costs of their drunk driving drug use and other crimes. We outsource pollution, its adverse effects on our health and its clean up costs. Neither the employees nor their employers are here to vote and seek political handouts."

The dripping derision on so many levels is hard to fathom and worse the likes of Conard do not see any problem with their views or their own superiority. Like so many tyrants throughout history they rationalize the good they do and if people suffer it is "unintended" so that makes it okay. They throw out platitudes like " humans aren't perfect", "it isn't about the money", "job creators" blah-blah.
 There are many who write about and speak to the issue of the plutocratic-corporate-fascists-religious-militaristic-apocalyptic society we find our selves in. The book list and authors that I have written down are only a few of the books being on the subject.

 Vultures Picnic  Gregg Palast
 Seeds of Destruction Peter Narvarro
 The Shadow World Andrew Feinstein
 Challenge Empire PHillis Bennis
 Secrets of the Temple William Greider
 Shock Doctrine  Naomi Klein
 The Folly of Fools Robert Trivers
 Debt: The first 5000 years   David Graeber
 Cities under Siege Stephen Graham
 Age of Greed
 Debunking Economics Steve Keen
 The Looting of America Les Leopold
 Two Income Trap  Elizabeth Warren
 Buying out Of America Kosman
 Oil's unending Bid
 Billionares Ball
 Waking up from the American Dream
 It's Even Worse Than It Looks
 Twilight of the Elites Chris Hayes
 War is a Racket (1935) Gen. Smedley Butler
 The Servant Economy: where Americas Elite is sending the middle class.
 Bail Out  Barafsky
 The Price of Inequality Stiglitz
 Matt Taibbi
 House of Cards
 Greedy Bastards
 Robert Reich
 Paul Krugman

And this is just a list of the ones off the top of my head, not to mention the articles, editorials and news documentaries about the rise of  plutocrats on steroids. Many if not most of the mega rich got that way with large government subsidies and contracts. The most recent I  read about was in the Nation. Tagg Romney started a private equity firm in 2008 when his father was considering running for President. The company is called Solamere and from what I
can tell is banking on and grifting from those millionaires and billionaires who are mad at this administration for pulling there fat subsidies, contracts and catching them for fraud. The articles refers to the owner of the Scooter Store who had to pay a fine of 13 million for fraud to medicare. I find it disgusting if you or I bounce a check we are often not only fined but if we close our accounts we can't get another bank account. Period. But this greedy bastard who milks our government on the backs of the elderly and disabled is still receiving money from medicare for his scooters. ( The last proof of greed in The Nation this week Nov. 5th, is an article by Gregg Palast and the fact that Romney, through Delphi (Delco) and a Paul Singer (hedge fund manager) held the auto deal hostage for obscene profits)

Greed and avarice and religious superiority are the sins that overtake us. The hyper superiority of the plutocrats hides an inferiority of morals and has roots going back to this nations beginning. The pilgrims lived in peace with the Native peoples for 20 years. The Puritans felt entitled by God and pushed the Natives aside. Not only did they foist religion upon them they took over the land. The worst part was the pigs that
roamed freely and destroyed Native crops and food stores. It is as if we have always been of two types of people. Those who understood community as reciprocity fairness and equality and those who only see evil and are thoroughly indoctrinated in their God given right to all before them and the only community is the one they create and all others are nothing. Phrases like "makers vs. takers", the 47% percent of Romney, the views spouted of women being assaulted and pregnancy as "God's Will". The religious fervor in which the Republican party  and greed wraps itself in, is not new. I could say it possible goes back to a 17th century pamphlet Tears of Repentance relating the fear of God and the need to do his bidding. (which is based upon the need for profit by Dutch merchant class and the newly created corporations.) Puritans used debt and a promise of health care for Europeans of this religious cult.They took advantage of disease and death to seize Native space and land. Our heritage as a democracy is two faced, shared democracy and owned democracy. These two themes have run red through our fabric and we have not fundamentally changed in over 400 years.

We all understand the wrong of taking more than our share, animals in the wild will discipline young ones who get too greedy at the kill. Lioness's will chase off lions who won't share. When I was little my sister who was two years young than I was caught taking my food and was severely punished. My sister and I both got in trouble for tasting our baby sisters food, not thinking how it was greedy. Growing up my Mother was keen on sharing, taking care of things and not invading each others space or rooms. My sister in an attempt to get this into her head, whether from anger or a need to drive it
home to herself, carved my name in to everything I owned to avoid confusion. We were little and instinctual the lioness tried to help us understand that things are not just things they represent hard work and heart to create a good life for all. Food was always just enough, drawing straws was
a fatalistic way, if you were lucky you got the extra serving. Poverty thinking ran our lives, how to scrimp save make do,and even when my Mother was comfortable she felt poor. The neo-cons in big business and the representatives they have bought keep crying poor when it comes to any money
spent for helping people yet give more and more money to the privatized military, privatized medicare, privatized fuel economy. The numbers don't lie.

The signs of greed are everywhere. Since 1976 the majority of 90% have seen their wages stagnate at 30 thousand a year while inflation during that same time till now is over 250%. all the while good paying jobs or jobs that would have kept up have been swallowed into the maws of private
equity and exported to countries more desperate and hungry.
1% @ 400,000 make 1.1 million a year in income.
In 1980 - Ceo's made 42 times the lowest employee, by 2000 Ceo's make 343% of their lowest earner.
In 1945 taxes on the highest earners was 66% by 2010 it is 32% but that is before all the loopholes and rich deductions they are provided.
Lobbying pays off or they wouldn't do it. 2010 - GE profit was 5.2 trillion with a T, they received a tax refund of 3.2 billion with a B.
Goldman Sachs gave 22 million in campaign money and 21 million for lobbying in 2008. They paid 1% in taxes. At least they paid something forward.
The numbers keep rolling over the lies of the free-market devotees. In Greedy Bastards by Dylan Ratigan the facts of the feed back loop called high finance makes your head swim. lays out in clear facts and graphics a fifth grader can understand. Pick an issue and follow the money to the top. It is hard to believe that there is such craft and greed aforethought involved but its true. These corporations don't have any loyalty except to themselves and their stockholders. A man named Larry once exclaimed to my husband that the "investor" class are the most important. That there is basically no one else worth considering. This otherwise gentle man pronounced himself the superior of all around him.

An obscene 1.4 trillion has been spent for Iraq and Afghanistan in some shape or another and this was spent in the foot soldiers salary nor their care after returning home. The bulk has gone to a privatized military (thank you D. Cheney). It wasn't spent to make sure soldiers had what they needed to do the job, when Hummers no better than the vehicles we drive on our highways were without plating and that was the tip of the ice berg. What pisses me off is we don't have the best military money can buy. The money spent could have converted 100% of every home to solar - 5 times over. Or to wind 9 times over, or food for everyone for two years, college for every high school grad through PhD and 5,500 dollar grant 7 times over. Paid the entire countries volunteer fire fighting force for 23 years, full pensions and health care. (numbers from the American Autumn: Occudoc)

 It isn't the deficit, it is what it has been spent on. why is it in the halls of congress are those fighting to kill all social programs or further privatize it want to hold onto every penny the military gets. At this point the military sees itself awash in cash and refusing more money. A 50 billion cut in military spending would only put us a few years back ( or at the writing of this blahg, make the east coast whole again) but the greedy corporations want more. When I explain these things to my 14 year old, who is a very intelligent young lady, she stated: "Who needs that much money?" What does it go for? Certainly not wages, health care pensions and 401ks that they have raided repeatedly over the last three decades. They may be able to endow a professor at a college or buy the right to have their names upon the football stadium but you won't see them paying for public school teachers, or building bridges unless there is something in it for them. Diploma mills, the for profit colleges rake in billions from student loans, which are defaulted and 27% the rate public university loans are. The cuts in education to force us from a public system to a private for profit system vis a vis the meme from all sides "competition".

We keep being told, almost brain washed with phony compliments about how hard Americans work, how resilient etc. only to have to work harder. Yet, after the Bankruptcy and credit cards laws were changed in 2005 and it became harder to pay debt, as jobs were raided and shipped to the more hungry Chinese and their greedy plutocracy, Americans were blamed for having too much debt, especially communities of color, subtly and not so subtly. People are now going to jail for debt. Yes, debtors prison. When the private equity junk debt buyer files a motion to reveal assetts and subpoena, and the debtor doesn't show up the court is forced file a warrant for contempt. Debtors are arrested and thrown in jail till the debt is settled.

The "capitalist pig" is alive and well after successfully creating a juggernaut of free market back lash to the civil rights,women's, gay  and  environmental movement of the sixties and seventies. The Heritage Foundation was formed in 73 in direct response to Rowe v Wade.  This was the straw for the conservative right that saw white male supremacy in danger. Along with other so called "social" foundations they co-opted the tactics of the movements of the previous twenty years and turned the tide. Even co-opting and changing the meaning of language; " a thousand points of light" was a tenant from the New Age, more like a thousand pin pricks to drain us slowly of life force.  Pure and simple, these scions of power and money felt threatened and decided to do something about. Their first task was to get into the White House with someone more their kind and the answer was not Reagan, but Gerald Ford. Do you think for one minute that Nixon would have been caught or would have had to resign if he had gone along with them and Milton Friedman? No way. They eat their own just as well protect them.

In American Autumn: An Occudoc. Dennis Trainor Jr. the producer of the film asks: "human need before corporate greed" why does it feel un American to say that?"
For the same reason it is cause for derision if one states they are against war; you are not "supporting the troops", not a patriot. Why am I called greedy labor when I ask for a living wage? But Ceo's ruin their companies, banks etal and get golden parachutes and perhaps their wrists slapped and a fine that is "part of doing business". I bounce a check and refuse to be arm twisted with fees and can no longer get a bank account, but the likes of Centura rips of millions from medicare and they can still collect from medicare.   An aside: Maria Hinojosa (PBS) has been arguing that we need to stop using the term "illegal" immigrant, it implies a criminality on part with drug runners and in the same breath derided the guards at the detention centers as "paid minimum wage" as if this makes them less than human without morals or feelings. This was a glaring hypocrisy. We are all guilty of such, but only criminals hate laws and when a law is oppressive or wrong we must not demonize those who enforce them because they are victims also.

There is a song called "Idealistic Youth" on the Occupy Album that talks of a generation that believed the lies of the the free market, after all free is good, right? How wrong they were. Corporations have killed capitalism it intones. 21 trillion is hidden in banks in Monaco, a country the size of lower Manhattan. That is more money than the combined ten year budgets of the U.S. and Japan. As the child said; "who needs that much money?"
There isn't one demand in Occupy but one mantra: Occupy Everything. Name an Issue follow the money. The abuse of power not unlike the barons of old, the gilded age, (gilding btw is a thin layer to hide the cheaper metal below) the master, the lords, the husband who is king of his castle, the fear tactics and bullying. there is never enough money I can be paid or he can bring home that will buy our dignity or souls. Eventually all slaves rise up and all masters underestimate the power of the people.
The non-hierarchical approach to the general assemblies is elegant in a way they may not have realized when they were carefully trying to let every voice be heard. It isn't necessary for literally all voices to be heard, in the fact that someone will almost always say what you are thinking as if we become of a single mind in hard times. Words are power. Social media has lived up to its promise of personal expression and empowerment because it was through these forms that words created a chorus the Greeks could never imagine. The empowerment of realizing you aren't un-American if you are for peace, not a hippie (which I am proud of) for wanting what is right for the planet. We aren't alone in our doubts and hopes. The hundredth monkey "trends" with a million hits. Words in any form create an energy that cannot be dismissed. I remember my friends and I having passionate discussions over coffee for hours, long before iPhone, twitter and instant message and joking about having saved the world in our kaffee clutch. But our conversations were not in isolation it seems.
While you and I try to be good people. Are ashamed when we realize we have hurt someone else or the community at large, feel guilty for leaving lights on or having a gas guzzler before we realized. While we simply want a home, some comfort and memories with our kids, not much. There are those who are sick with ego and the need to feed it with power that comes with money. They want us all in debt to them, beholden to them, adoring them.
Amin Husain an OWS activist was very eloquent when he put it this way, when asked how direct action if effective:

 "How do we deal with mafia capitalism? which is social, political economic injustice that is pervasive in all our institutional structures. When our govt. is incapable of dealing (freeing itself from) with the grip of global capital. What do we get out of direct action? People empowerment. At an age and a time when people seem powerless, and it's important to free up imagination to think there is another world possible and that there is another way of organizing social political, economic life that isn't about Republican, democrat or independent where people get lost in the shuffle....this is the long term direct action. 9/17 became a way of life, in the epicenter of a greed culture, became a society of mutual aid"

To perhaps finish his thought for myself...govt. is people creating a body for "mutual aid". B. fuller said that to be successful one must include as many people in your idea as possible and it should help as many as possible. Alexis Goldstein of Occupy the SEC said the movement is looking for "transformational change not transactional change". Social change is difficult, long hard work. The first people who cry out for justice are often not heard at first, but when the cry gets picked up by others like the people mic, than politicians must make it their job to ratify that voice.
I remember not that long ago there was no whole grain, low fat, no sugar preservatives, much less organic in stores. Food was deplorable. There certainly wasn't any no smoking zones nor was there very much clean air in our cities and the river literally caught on fire. There was no one who dared talk about sexual abuse much less teach kids to tell. Women suffered horridly from pregnancies they didn't want and botched abortions and don't forget the unwanted children who were born. There was no idea of endangered species. There was a hole in the ozone that even Reagan recognized as a threat and now it is reported the ozone layer is returning to normal faster than the scientists calculated it would. We are capable of shifting the conversation and Occupy has done that, think about the language in the media in the last year. 
We learn to resist individually and then together. The Occupy movement has become a larger voice for many groups, an umbrella if you will for labor, foreclosed families, public lands, the mentally ill, the poor, women, black youth, on and on. If you felt you couldn't put your single mind to one issue or movement, if you felt scattered, torn Occupy can give you a sense of doing it all is some way. For all of us. One of the first things Occupy did was show up for the Verizon workers who had been on strike for a year they also protested with the Sacs Fifth Ave. auction workers. They shouted out and supported the services workers in Wisconsin as did Egypt. We are all in this together.
On Sept. 17th, tens of thousands converged on city centers to burn loan papers from house foreclosed upon, student debts, and usurous credit card collections. When people are cheated or robbed the first thing they do is blame themselves. Feeling stupid and alone, ashamed at not seeing it coming they find themselves not able to make decisions not unlike abuse victims. Occupy wants to help empower people to free themselves from debt slavery. People want to be responsible and pay their debts, but they cannot make deals with criminals who have dressed themselves with legal sheeps clothing. The debts are sold repeatedly and the tactics used are worse than the old boys at the pool hall who loan sharked. I would rather deal with them truth be told.
The Debt Resistors Handbook is down loadable for free. In it you can find ways of fighting the greed that hounds us. We cannot blame ourselves for trusting the "dream" they sold us. It would be just like blaming the child for being molested, the woman for being raped, that man who is duped by thieves.
Pursuing the American dream is not about riches, it was always truly about a Utopian dream. Not all Utopian dreams fail they evolve, they mature what they usually fail at is holding on to the dream that is truth.
 We will have the world we envision, that utopia that is the United States we must as a debt to our forebears and the Native peoples who were willing to share this utopia.

       "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare
        already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws
       of our country"     Thomas Jefferson

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