How do we eliminate the paradox of poverty & privation amid plenty & abundance?

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Offline Geolibertarian

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There are many knowledgeable and well-meaning reformers -- most notably Webster Tarpley -- who maintain that the solution to the worsening levels of lower class poverty and middle class privation is for everyone to “produce” more.

Yet that is exactly what the hard-working people of this country have done for the past several decades. So much so, in fact, that by early 2008 worker productivity was triple what it was in the mid-1950s:

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http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_richard__080109_if_productivity_has_.htm

If productivity has tripled, why are we working ever longer hours?

By Richard Clark
OpEdNews
January 9, 2008

More specifically, if worker productivity has tripled in the last 53 years, why are Americans working longer hours than any time since 1938?

Yes, it’s true:  U.S. labor productivity has tripled over the last 53 years.

Source: http://www.dallasfed.org/eyi/free/0406product.html

Even more remarkably, productivity in Denmark has tripled over the last 40 years:

http://www.ambnewdelhi.um.dk/en/servicemenu/News/Danishproductivityhastripledsince1966.htm

One might respond to the title question by simply answering that Americans have chosen to enjoy more consumer goods than ever before.  Most of our homes are considerably larger than they were in the mid-to-late 1950s, and our automobiles have much greater quality, durability and life expectancy.  In addition, the amount of home electronics and appliances most of us possess is many times larger than what we had access to back then.  So what’s the beef?
 
The ‘beef’ is that a growing majority of Americans have real incomes that purchase less housing, less college education, and less health care than they did 40 or 50 years ago.  Until very recently, the minimum wage purchased less, generally, than it did 30 years ago, and still purchases less in the way of basic goods and services like health care, college education, and housing.  Working class couples now work (both of them) so as to be able to make mortgage payments on houses that were once paid for by one person, the head of the family.  This was 40 years ago – back in the days when physicians would come to your home if you were sick, and college tuition was much less than today.

[Continued…]

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

Yet despite this productivity surge, wealth and income were -- and continue to be -- concentrated in the hands of the top 20 percent at a level not seen since at least the 1920s (if not since the Gilded Age about which Austrian School cranks love to wax nostalgic).

And, perhaps more importantly -- particularly from the point of view of family life and child rearing, -- most wage-earners were, and are, having to spend more time at work instead of less just to make ends meet (as both the above article and the following two explain):

       http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/briefingpapers_bp120/
       http://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/webfeatures_snapshots_07072004/             

Now, I think most will agree that, if workers are producing three times more than they were in the mid-1950s, then, all else being equal, they should be able to earn the same real income in less than half the time -- and thereby enjoy a (horror of horrors!) “leisure dividend.” Yet all else is clearly not equal, which means someone else got the difference.

Who is that someone else?

Not just one person, obviously, but rather a segment of the population composed of people who, through the use of various privileges (see this, this and this) are able to extract enormous amounts of wealth and income from the economy each year while rendering in return either no commensurate “service” or, worse, an actual disservice.

An obvious case in point is our debt-based money system, which allows private bankers to extract countless billions in usurious interest from the economy each year in exchange for the nothing out of which they create the “money” they loan.

Of at least equal import, however, is our anti-labor/pro-land speculation tax system, which parasitizes workers both by

* levying crippling tolls on wages, sales, houses and capital goods, mostly so corrupt politicians can use the revenue thus generated to fund the numerous disservices they gleefully impose -- including the “six basic functions” of compulsory government schooling, the horribly destructive and ridiculously hypocritical drug war, Soviet-style surveillance of “We the People,” Nazi-style police state thuggery, and imperialist, terroristic, hornets’ nest-stirring wars of aggression; and by

* allowing what is, in effect -- and in the words of economist Fred Foldvary, -- a “forced transfer of wealth from workers to landowners” (see this, this and this ).

Those two systems, i.e., our money system and tax system, are undoubtedly the two primary reasons for the alarming wealth and income disparities in this country (not to mention other countries) -- disparities that are so large and so destructive to the very fabric of society, they have us on the verge of a hellish new Dark Ages.

Two secondary, though far from insignificant, reasons are (a) a rigged, privilege-based regulatory system that -- mostly through prohibitively high “licensing” barriers and overextended “patent” protection, and with the aid of court-protected “corporate personhood” -- gives rise to an economy dominated by price-gouging cartels and oligopolies, and (b) a corporatist trade policy that -- with the aid of subsidies and favored tax treatment afforded by bought-off politicians to select corporations -- gives rise to a retail sector dominated by slave goods-selling, small business-destroying corporate retail chains.

Having identified the underlying causes of our present trouble, the question arises as to what the best solutions are.

The Austrian School approach is a non-solution at best, because it involves allowing the ever-worsening economic collapse to simply “run its course,” which means sheepishly letting the very bankers who engineered this collapse in the first place foreclose on everyone, even though they (the bankers) gave no lawful consideration for any of the collateral-backed IOUs they accepted in exchange for the non-existent "money" they loaned! And if that weren’t bad enough, it also involves adding insult to injury by euphemistically characterizing this parasitic transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to filthy-rich oligarchs as a mere case of “market forces” imposing a just and necessary “correction” on the economy (implying thereby that to politically interfere with this divine “correction” in any way would be to wage a blasphemous assault on “liberty” and the “free market").

The Keynesian approach of establishment politicians is also a non-solution at best, because it mostly involves perpetuating the very economic policies (particularly our debt-based money system and anti-Georgist tax system) that got us into this mess in the first place.

This brings us back to Webster Tarpley, who advocates the so-called “American System” of political economy (see this and this) as not only a far preferable alternative to both the Austrian School and Keynesian School, but as the “only” alternative worthy of consideration.

Now, as much as I like and admire Mr. Tarpley, and as much as I enjoy and agree with his scathing critiques of the Austrian School, I nevertheless think he is sadly off the mark when he suggests that the solution to involuntary poverty and privation is merely to increase “production” on a mass scale, and in the particular style of FDR’s New Deal. This seems to imply that the reason so many Americans lack the wealth they need is that there’s a shortage of wealth. Yet this is simply not the case, as a trip to virtually any nearby supermarket, shopping mall or car lot will illustrate.

What most people lack is the money with which to buy that wealth. And, as explained above, this is due to the combined effect of our parasitic money system, backwards tax system, oligopoly-creating regulatory system and race-to-the-bottom trade policy.

If the socioeconomic structure that currently underlies all economic activity is such that the bulk of the returns on new production is always appropriated by the top 20%, then increasing production will only enrich the top 20% that much further while leaving everyone else either little or no better off than before.

Thus, even if we all agree with Mr. Tarpley that the American School of economics is superior to what either the Austrians or Keynesians have to offer, that doesn’t mean it can’t be greatly improved upon. On the contrary, not only “can” it be improved, it must be if we are to avoid repeating in the future the same old mistakes and failures of the past.

It’s not enough, for instance, that we have higher production levels, and hence (presumably) higher wages and lower unemployment. We must also have a tax system that

(a) puts everyone on a level economic playing field with regard to land (the only alternative to this being a system that -- irrespective of “production” -- eventually gives rise to an overprivileged class of landed aristocrats, on the one hand, and an underprivileged class of landless peasants, on the other -- with perhaps a relatively small “middle class” consisting mostly of bureaucrats, prison guards and militarized goons-for-hire to keep the peasants in line); and

(b) doesn’t penalize or discourage any of the wealth-producing activity which occurs on that playing field (in other words, one that doesn’t tax wages, sales, houses or capital goods; only land values).

We must have a monetary system that provides not only an adequate money supply, but a permanent money supply that exists independently of debt, thus making money our servant for a change instead of our master.

We must have a regulatory system that penalizes and discourages fraud, but which does not -- in the name of protecting consumers from fraud (but for the actual underlying purpose of protecting politically-connected businesses from competition) -- effectively criminalize the very sort of grassroots entrepreneurship that would otherwise allow poor families and communities to produce their way out of poverty.

We must have a non-corporatist trade policy that allows for genuine free trade instead of the corporate-managed trade we have now (see this, this and this).

And last but certainly not least, we must have a Guaranteed Income below which no one can ever fall; and we need for it to be funded not from a tax on the very productive activities that generate monetary “income” in the first place, but from both our national credit and the economic rent of land (more on this here).

Once all those reform measures are fully implemented, only then will “poverty amidst plenty” truly be a thing of the past. Indeed, not only will poverty be nonexistent, so too will middle class privation in all its current degrees and variants. No longer will it be necessary, as it is now in most cases, for both parents to work just to make ends meet. Nor will it any longer be necessary for relatively low-skilled wage-earners to spend all or most of their working lives living “paycheck to paycheck” -- working spirit-crushing “dead end jobs,” just to survive.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline michaelsuede

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If productivity has tripled, why are we working ever longer hours?

This one is easy.

Because government has the ability to create debt, it has the ability to create money, as all money in our corrupt fascist system is a function of debt.  The more debt, the more money in the system.  As debt is repaid, the money supply decreases accordingly.

All money in our corrupt fascist system is also a function of labor.  Since money is used as nothing more than a valuation of labor, and all debt must be repaid through labor, it is simply stating all citizens are slaves and must labor to repay the debt burden it has chosen to create.

Now, given these facts, it becomes clear that when government creates debt and purchases something with it, it is typically purchasing something unproductive and of no value.

If government purchases a dozen aircraft carriers, it has not enriched the lives of the citizens one iota.  It has redirected labor that would otherwise be used to create and purchase things people want for something no private citizen could use.

A dozen aircraft carriers built, is 100,000,000 plasma TVs not built, since those productive labor hours must now be spent repaying the debt created by government to buy the carriers.

No matter if government taxes to collect its revenues, or simply issues debt, the effect is exactly the same.

Thus, people will be forced to work ever longer hours to pay back the unproductive purchases of government on top of meeting their daily needs and purchasing things that actually enrich their lives.

Socialist would argue that government could spend money productively instead of unproductively, however this is rare indeed considering that in order for that to happen, a government purchase must be something ALL members of society happen to want.  Of course, if all members of society wanted something, the private sector would rise to meet that need.






Offline michaelsuede

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bah, after all that I forgot to give the answer to the question, if it wasn't obvious enough already.

The answer to the post title question of "How do we eliminate the paradox of poverty & privation amid plenty & abundance?"  is - we simply eliminate government.

By eliminating government, we eliminate all unproductive spending, and thus all unproductive labor, thereby making the economy only produce things people actually want that enrich their lives.





Offline flaming_red_pill

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I think families who have the time and space should try growing some of their own food. That's production at one of its most efficient levels. You pay no shipping, taxes, etc, and save money while giving yourself a reason to get fresh air, exercise, and sunlight.

Is that silly? =(

I've often wondered why the Fed would rather that people sit on their butts in the inner city projects when we have so much workable land going to waste. Instead of letting the Bush family and other people buy everything up, our gov should be PROTECTING public lands and putting them to use. Who is going to end up in prison first, the thug on the street or the federally funded sodbuster working with his hands?
Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.

-President John F. Kennedy on the Global Conspiracy

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How to eliminate poverty etc...? The banksters/illuminati  will slaughter the leader who does it:

Hold up the example of one of the greatest statesman who outlawed secret societies, outlawed slavery, grew the economy from nothing to one of the most productive in the Southern Hemispheres. President Gabriel Garcia Moreno, slaughtered (knifed, shot, arm cut off) as he left Church one day. This is what happens to leaders who eliminate poverty and shun the banksters, much like JFK.

'"Economic Climate of Ecuador"  from wiki. (keep in mind not fully accurate)

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_Garc%C3%ADa_Moreno

"In more worldly things, he came to office with an empty treasury and an enormous debt. To overcome this, he placed the government on stringent economy and abolished useless positions, as well as cutting out the corruption which siphoned off tax dollars. As a result he was able to provide Ecuadoreans with more for less. Slavery was abolished, but there was full compensation for the owners; (thus neither former slaves nor masters suffered economically). The army was reformed, with officers being sent to Prussia to study, and illiterate recruits taught basic skills. Houses of prostitution were closed, and hospitals opened in all the major towns. Railroads and national highways were built, telegraph extended, and the postal and water systems improved. City streets were paved, and local bandits suppressed. García Moreno further reformed the universities, established two polytechnic and agricultural colleges and a military school, and increased the number of primary schools to 500 from 200. The number of students in them grew from 8000 to 32,000. To staff the enormously expanded health-care and educational facilities, foreign religious were brought in. All of this was done while expanding the franchise and guaranteeing equal rights under the law to every Ecuadorean.

Offline Geolibertarian

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Because government has the ability to create debt, it has the ability to create money, as all money in our corrupt fascist system is a function of debt.

The monetary flat-earthers from the Austrian School can mindlessly claim otherwise all they want, the fact remains that, under the current system, it's private banks that create "money" by monetizing "debt." If the "government" was the one creating money, it wouldn't have to borrow it all the time.

The answer to the post title question of "How do we eliminate the paradox of poverty & privation amid plenty & abundance?"  is - we simply eliminate government.

This "no government" fantasy comes straight out of the Austrian School, and what makes it particularly delusional is that the ideological snake-oil salesmen who peddle it simultaneously advocate the very sort of land tenure system that invariably and inevitably gives rise to oppressive "governments" in the first place:

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

http://lysanderspooner.org/node/59

In process of time, the robber, or slaveholding, class -- who had seized all the lands, and held all the means of creating wealth -- began to discover that the easiest mode of managing their slaves, and making them profitable, was not for each slaveholder to hold his specified number of slaves, as he had done before, and as he would hold so many cattle, but to give them so much liberty as would throw upon themselves (the slaves) the responsibility of their own subsistence, and yet compel them to sell their labor to the land-holding class -- their former owners -- for just what the latter might choose to give them.

Of course, these liberated slaves, as some have erroneously called them, having no lands, or other property, and no means of obtaining an independent subsistence, had no alternative -- to save themselves from starvation -- but to sell their labor to the landholders, in exchange only for the coarsest necessaries of life; not always for so much even as that.

These liberated slaves, as they were called, were now scarcely less slaves than they were before. Their means of subsistence were perhaps even more precarious than when each had his own owner, who had an interest to preserve his life. They were liable, at the caprice or interest of the landholders, to be thrown out of home, employment, and the opportunity of even earning a subsistence by their labor. They were, therefore, in large numbers, driven to the necessity of begging, stealing, or starving; and became, of course, dangerous to the property and quiet of their late masters.

The consequence was, that these late owners found it necessary, for their own safety and the safety of their property, to organize themselves more perfectly as a government and make laws for keeping these dangerous people in subjection; that is, laws fixing the prices at which they should be compelled to labor, and also prescribing fearful punishments, even death itself, for such thefts and tresspasses as they were driven to commit, as their only means of saving themselves from starvation.

These laws have continued in force for hundreds, and, in some countries, for thousands of years; and are in force today, in greater or less severity, in nearly all the countries on the globe.

The purpose and effect of these laws have been to maintain, in the hands of the robber, or slave holding class, a monopoly of all lands, and, as far as possible, of all other means of creating wealth; and thus to keep the great body of laborers in such a state of poverty and dependence, as would compel them to sell their labor to their tyrants for the lowest prices at which life could be sustained.

The result of all this is, that the little wealth there is in the world is all in the hands of a few -- that is, in the hands of the law-making, slave-holding class; who are now as much slaveholders in spirit as they ever were, but who accomplish their purposes by means of the laws they make for keeping the laborers in subjection and dependence, instead of each one's owning his individual slaves as so many chattels.

[Continued...]

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

The key point here is that a group of private individuals presuming to "own" all the land comes first, and the "government" (or, more accurately, the State) into which they organize out of common interest comes second. (Whether they actually call it such is irrelevant.) That's the inevitable result of allowing the concept of "private property" to be applied to the Earth on which all must live yet which none produced in the same unlimited, unconditional sense that it's applied to the products of human labor.

       http://geolib.com/sullivan.dan/commonrights.html

It's also the inevitable result of turning the power of money creation (as the Austrian School would have us do) entirely over to private interests:

    “Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money."

-- attributed to Sir Josiah Stamp, Director of the Bank of England (appointed 1928)


The typical Austrian School reaction to this is to shamelessly engage in hysterical fearmongering about the presumed evils of government-issued currency. Yet one could just as easily posit all sorts of ridiculous fearmongering scenarios concerning government-controlled police and government-controlled armies as a way of scaring well-meaning yet gullible readers into embracing the stateless utopian fantasy world of the Austrian School, wherein -- according to those who promote this quasi-religious fairy tale -- a mystical, God-like entity euphemistically called the "free market" magically keeps privately controlled police and privately controlled armies from terrorizing, oppressing and enslaving the masses.

Fortunately, most readers aren't quite so gullible. They know that keeping the police and military in public rather than private hands is, if nothing else, the far lesser of two evils; and that the reason certain public institutions have become so corrupt and oppressive is that they've been, in effect, "privatized" to one extent or another (case in point: the "Federal" Reserve), and that the solution, therefore, is not to mindlessly throw the baby out with the bathwater, but to reclaim from these private interests our rightful control over our own government.

I, for one, say "no" to the privatized tyranny that anarcho-capitalists would have us all living under if they had their way, and "yes" to the liberty and freedom that can only be experienced in a truly Democratic Constitutional Republic:

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DioQooFIcgE (The American Form of Government)

I'm sure I'm far from alone in that regard.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline flaming_red_pill

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I read that whole thing just now. It pretty much sums up why I don't want my relatives in public schools, along with the idea that most of them are now run like prisons (a huge change post-9/11 and following Columbine etc). I wonder how many parents noticed or cared that some kids aren't even allowed to use the friggin' bathroom in the 5 pissing minutes they get to change classes, go to the locker, and somehow take care of their biological needs too. And I didn't make that up, my sister told me. Not to mention, if you are there to pick up your kid or visit an old teacher, there are many new and annoying (gestapo) rules to deal with at some of these schools. It seems like some of the ones in backward rural areas are the worst because the families don't know how to speak up/fight back.

Thank you for the post, I kind of hate youtube and noise... watch some of these but rarely. Great quote.
Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.

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Offline Effulgent

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I think families who have the time and space should try growing some of their own food. That's production at one of its most efficient levels. You pay no shipping, taxes, etc, and save money while giving yourself a reason to get fresh air, exercise, and sunlight.

Is that silly? =(

I've often wondered why the Fed would rather that people sit on their butts in the inner city projects when we have so much workable land going to waste. Instead of letting the Bush family and other people buy everything up, our gov should be PROTECTING public lands and putting them to use. Who is going to end up in prison first, the thug on the street or the federally funded sodbuster working with his hands?

In the inner city you literally get punished when you even show a twinkle of self reliance, its scary, if you speak english too clearly people treat you strangely and call child protective services on you LITERALLY, anybody you see in the city, if they are acting in a way that appears stupid and crazy, its a defense mechanism
"Da police are not here to create disorder; dere here to preserve disorder." Richard J. Daley, Chicago mayor

Offline flaming_red_pill

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In the inner city you literally get punished when you even show a twinkle of self reliance, its scary, if you speak english too clearly people treat you strangely and call child protective services on you LITERALLY, anybody you see in the city, if they are acting in a way that appears stupid and crazy, its a defense mechanism
You are aggravating my ph34rz!!!! I need Vitamin D!  :-X
Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.

-President John F. Kennedy on the Global Conspiracy

Offline DireWolf

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The only way to solve this paradox is to eliminate all the negatives of human nature rendering us a totally benevolent species and we know that's not going to happen.

The other venue is to the best we can, deal with the greed, malice, indifference and multiple other disagreeable attributes we possess, and press on never giving up in trying to do good.
Freedom and Liberty, or slavery and death, your choice, choose wisely.

Offline maim

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get rid of capitalism

Offline Geolibertarian

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The only way to solve this paradox is to eliminate all the negatives of human nature rendering us a totally benevolent species and we know that's not going to happen.

No, but we can at least create the sort of socioeconomic environment in which those "negatives" are least likely to manifest themselves. For instance, where are you least likely to get mugged -- a wealthy neighborhood or a deeply impoverished one?

Quote
The other venue is to the best we can, deal with the greed, malice, indifference and multiple other disagreeable attributes we possess, and press on never giving up in trying to do good.

The problem is that few people agree on how to assess the rightness or wrongness of human behavior, and hence on what sort of laws or restrictions we should either have or not have.

I think the "Universal Ethic" could quickly change this if enough people knew about it:

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=50916.0
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline Geolibertarian

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get rid of capitalism

I wasn't aware we had capitalism (at least insofar as Adam Smith defined it). Are you sure you're not confusing capitalism with corporate fascism?

And what do you propose replacing it with, and why?
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline iclozm

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get rid of capitalism

I'm sure you would be perfect for the Obammunist Regime. You should apply for a government job. I hear it's the only sector growing these days because of their forced redistribution of wealth.

If you think capitalism is to blame for our current crisis, you're with very intelligent company such as Michal Moore. What you are really concerned with is interventionism you just simply do not know it. Interventionism from the Federal Reserve (central banking is nothing but legalized price fixing and counterfeiting operations) created every bubble and economic crises we've had. Under capitalism we've only experienced panics.

Do some research!
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Offline Geolibertarian

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An online debate, of sorts, appears to have arisen between Austrian School enthusiast Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation and “liberal” John Sumner of Daily Kos.

The debate was sparked by an article from Mr. Hornberger entitled, “Liberal Delusions about Freedom.” In response to this Mr. Sumner wrote the article, "What Conservatives Mean When They Say ‘Libertarian,’" which quickly evoked a rather scathing -- and at times sophomoric -- follow-up article by Hornberger (who is clearly obsessed with propagating and reinforcing the ridiculously false Austrian School “capitalism”-vs.-Marxist “socialism” paradigm) entitled, “Economic Ignorance and Liberal Hypocrisy.”

Since the issues raised in this debate bear directly on the subject matter of this thread, and since it’s only appropriate that both sides be fairly represented, I thought I’d post all three articles here before weighing in with thoughts of my own.

Beginning first with Mr. Hornberger’s initial article:

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

http://www.prisonplanet.com/liberal-delusions-about-freedom.html

Liberal Delusions About Freedom

Jacob Hornberger
Campaign For Liberty
March 10, 2010

To combat the town-hall protests that sprang up around the nation against President Obama’s health-care plan, one of the favorite tactics employed by liberals was to question the sanity of the protesters. Anyone who showed up at such meetings angrily protesting Obama’s plan to socialize medicine was termed a crazy.

That was especially true if a protester happened to be combining freedom of speech with the right to bear arms, as some protesters in New Hampshire and Arizona did. That drove liberals up the wall, given their deep antipathy toward gun rights and the Second Amendment.

But who really are the crazies around here? Let’s examine the issue. Among the points that liberals made to buttress their claim that the protesters were crazy was the comparison that some of the protesters made between Obama’s economic philosophy and that of the National Socialists under Hitler.

Indeed, according to the liberals, the notion that Obama’s plan for America was socialistic was itself just crazy. After all, everyone knows that America has a free-enterprise system, one that was saved by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, an economic program that Obama, like other liberals, extols and wishes to build upon.

Yet, let’s analyze that comparison that some of the protesters were making and the insanity and irrationality that liberals claim it represents. I believe we’ll find that when it comes to sanity and rationality, those protesters had a much firmer grip on reality than the liberals who are criticizing them.

Contradictions

First of all, let’s talk about the economic system that existed in the United States from the inception of the nation to the latter part of the 19th century. The principles are simple to enumerate: No income taxation (except during the Civil War), Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, economic regulations, licensure laws, drug laws, immigration controls, or coercive transfer programs, such as farm subsidies and education grants.

There was no federal department of labor, agriculture, commerce, education, energy, health and human services, or homeland security. There was no SEC, DEA, FEMA, OSHA, or EPA.

There was no Federal Reserve System and no paper money or legal-tender laws (except during the Civil War). People used gold and silver coins as money.

There were no foreign military bases and no involvement in foreign wars. The size of the military was small.

Now, I ask you a simple question: Does that way of life resemble even in the remotest way the way of life under which Americans live today? Of course it doesn’t, because the way of life under which we live today is precisely opposite to that under which our American ancestors lived. Today’s Americans do live under all those programs, departments, and agencies, and principles that were absent during the first 125 years or so of American history.

Why is this important? Because both sets of Americans — our ancestors and Americans living today — operate under the same assumption when it comes to freedom. Our ancestors prided themselves as a free people. But modern-day Americans pride themselves on being free, too.

But how likely is it that people who live under economic and political philosophies and programs that are contradictory to one another can both be free? Not very likely at all! In fact, the likelihood is that one of them is suffering a very serious case of self-deception and self-delusion bordering on what psychiatrists might call psychosis.

American freedom

Why did early Americans consider themselves free? The answer is rooted in the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. As Thomas Jefferson observed in that document, people have been endowed by their Creator with certain fundamental and inherent rights. These include, but are certainly not limited to, the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The reason that people call government into existence is to protect the exercise of such rights. But Jefferson recognized that sometimes government becomes worse than the murderers, rapists, thieves, invaders, and marauders that it is supposed to protect the people from. In such a case, it is the right of the people to alter or even abolish the government and institute new government. Since violent revolutions inevitably involve massive death and destruction, Jefferson observed that people will often choose to put up with lots of tyranny before they finally decide to revolt.

A critical question arises: What do the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness connote?

For our American ancestors, such rights meant more than the absence of physical constraint, e.g., not being incarcerated in jail.

Freedom also meant the right to criticize government officials and protest their actions without being punished for it.

It meant the right to worship, each in his own way, or, on the other hand, not to worship at all.

It meant the right to keep and bear arms, not only as a protection against criminals and invaders but also to ensure that the right to resist tyranny was retained by the people.

It meant the protection of centuries-old procedures in the event of federal criminal prosecutions, including habeas corpus, right to counsel, trial by jury, bail, due process of law, and protection from coerced confessions, unreasonable searches, and cruel and unusual punishments.

To our ancestors, however, freedom meant even more than that, and there arises the rub with today’s liberals. Freedom, our ancestors maintained, also meant the right to keep everything you owned and to decide for yourself what to do with it. Everyone had the right, they contended, to pursue an occupation or trade without seeking the permission of the government. They had the right to enter into mutually beneficial trades with others who were doing the same thing. They had the right to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth as part of that process. They had the right to decide for themselves what to do with their own money — spend, save, invest, speculate, or whatever. They, not the government, were responsible for how they lived their lives and how they used their money. For our American ancestors, freedom entailed the right to handle their own retirement, health care, food, clothing, transportation, charity, and other parts of everyday life.

Now obviously that’s precisely opposite to what today’s liberals believe. They say that freedom entails the power of government to take whatever portion of a person’s income or wealth it deems appropriate and give the money to people who government officials feel need it more. They say that freedom entails the power of government to require people to secure governmental permission before engaging in many occupations and trades. They say that freedom entails the power of government to control and regulate the trades that people make with others. They say that freedom entails the power of government to take care of people, especially with respect to retirement, health care, unemployment compensation, housing, and welfare.

American socialism

How did liberals arrive at a conception of freedom that is so different from that which our American ancestors had? A clue lies in the comparison that people were making between Obama’s economic philosophy and that of the National Socialists in Germany.

Take a look at this URL: http://www.ssa.gov/history/ottob.html. There you will see an engraving. It is not an engraving of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, or any of the Founding Fathers. Instead it is an engraving of Otto von Bismarck, who served as chancellor of Germany from 1862 to 1890.

You may have noticed that the URL has the letters “ssa.gov” in it. That is the Internet domain name for the U.S. Social Security Administration.

You might then ask, What in the world is the U.S. government doing glorifying a chancellor of Germany rather than America’s Founding Fathers?

The answer is provided on the SSA’s website itself: Bismarck was the world’s first political ruler to adopt a social security program. On that web page, the SSA states, “Despite his impeccable right-wing credentials, Bismarck would be called a socialist for introducing these programs, as would President Roosevelt 70 years later. In his own speech to the Reichstag during the 1881 debates, Bismarck would reply: ‘Call it socialism or whatever you like. It is the same to me.’”

In mocking that claim of socialism, however, what the SSA doesn’t tell you is where Bismarck got the idea of social security and, for that matter, the whole idea of a paternalistic welfare state. He got the idea from German socialist intellectuals, who saw social security as an ideal way to use the state to implement the Marxian principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

As the years went on, the German people became accustomed to having the government care for them, with their own money of course. Thus, by the time that Hitler became chancellor of Germany, the paternalistic welfare state had become a permanent feature of German life. Given Hitler’s devotion to National Socialism (abbreviated by the term “Nazi”), it was hardly surprising that he embraced such socialist programs as social security, national health care, and public (i.e., government) schooling.

In fact, Hitler embraced not only socialism but also fascism, an economic philosophy that leaves property in private hands but subjects it to government control and regulation. Another feature of Hitler’s fascism was partnerships between government and private industry, whose aims were to further the interests of the nation.

As Jonah Goldberg points out in his book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, in principle there was no difference between socialists and fascists, notwithstanding historical animosity between the two groups. They shared a deep antipathy toward economic liberty, the free market, and private property. They shared a commitment to the socialist and fascist concepts of government ownership or control of the means or results of production, albeit in different variations and degrees.

That brings us to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. For decades, and especially in the public schools and the state-supported colleges and universities across America, officials have indoctrinated American students with the notion that Roosevelt’s New Deal was nothing more than a series of government programs that saved America’s free-enterprise system. The idea is that free enterprise failed and caused the Great Depression and that all that Roosevelt did was to save the system by adopting needed free-market “reforms.”

Living a lie

It would be difficult to find a better example of a life of the lie and a denial of realty than that. For what Roosevelt actually did was adopt the principles of socialism and fascism that were spreading across the world, including the premier examples of Benito Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.

After all, ask yourself: How can social security be a socialist program in Germany and, at the same time, a free-enterprise program in the United States? How can programs that entail government control over business and industry and government-business partnerships be fascism in Italy and Germany and, at the same time, be free enterprise in the United States?

Consider the thesis of another book, Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939, by Wolfgang Schivelbusch, a book that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune called “controversial, well written, and convincing.” It is a scholarly comparison of Hitler’s socialism, Mussolini’s fascism, and Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Schivelbusch carefully draws the parallels between the economic programs of Hitler, Mussolini, and Roosevelt, and anyone who reads his book is left with but one conclusion: Roosevelt’s New Deal was not free enterprise at all, as liberals have maintained for decades. Instead, it constituted a wholesale abandonment of the principles of economic liberty, free markets, and private property that had guided the United States for more than a hundred years.

A close examination of the programs that Roosevelt adopted reflects that they were no different in principle from those of Mussolini and Hitler. Social Security was based on the socialist principle of forcibly taking money from one group of people and giving it to another group. Mortgage moratorium laws entailed government interference with private contracts. The National Industrial Recovery Act converted American industry into cartels, with the power to set their own prices.

Moreover, just as Mussolini and Hitler were doing in their countries, Roosevelt resorted to propaganda and intimidation to effect compliance and conformity with his programs. That’s what his “Blue Eagle” was all about — a means by which federal officials could threaten and bludgeon American businessmen to get onboard Roosevelt’s new world order. It was also what Roosevelt’s infamous court-packing scheme was all about — to intimidate the Supreme Court into ceasing to declare his alien programs unconstitutional.

Is it surprising, then, that Hitler, the chancellor of Germany, expressed admiration for what Roosevelt was doing and how he was doing it in the United States? Not at all. Was it surprising that Winston Churchill expressed admiration for Hitler’s “New Deal”? Not at all. Was it unusual that officials in the Roosevelt administration admired Benito Mussolini for his fascism and Joseph Stalin for his socialism? Not at all.

But through it all, the lie and the denial of reality have been steadfastly maintained. From the first grade on up through college, American students are ingrained with the idea that America’s economic system is — and always will be — a free-enterprise system and that the paternalistic welfare state and controlled economy are simply needed modifications and reforms of that system.

Is it any surprise, then, that liberals feel so threatened by people who are exposing this life of the lie and this denial of reality? In a sense, such people are therapists. Through their exposition of truth, they are causing liberals to face reality, which, as the eminent late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck pointed out in his book The Road Less Traveled, is a necessary precondition to a healthy mindset.

You see, the liberal notion is that as long as people believe a lie, then everything will be okay. Sure, socialism has failed all over the world, but Americans don’t need to worry because they haven’t adopted socialism. When the programs move into chaos and crisis, it’s not that socialism has failed; it’s that free enterprise has failed, again. Thus, all that’s needed is more “reform” to further save “free enterprise.”

Then, along come people speaking the truth, pointing out that this is all sheer nonsense. What is failing are the socialistic welfare programs, the ones that have their roots in Roosevelt’s New Deal and, going back even further, to Bismarck’s Germany.

What is needed to restore a healthy society to America? The most important thing Americans need to do is get a grip on reality with respect to the type of socialist economic system that liberals have imported to their land.

Once people are ready to acknowledge the socialism that the United States has embraced, then there can be a real debate, one that focuses on whether America should continue going down the socialist road or whether the time has come to cast America’s disastrous experiment with socialism into the dustbin of history and restore its heritage of economic liberty, free markets, and private property to our land.

-------------------------------------
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

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http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/4/17/858324/-What-Conservatives-Mean-When-They-Say-Libertarian

What Conservatives Mean When They Say "Libertarian"
 
by Devilstower
Daily Kos
April 18, 2010

It took the Republican Party sixty years of dedicated effort to make the word "liberal" radioactive in some parts of the United States. In less than half that time they've also done a pretty good job of making "Republican" just as disliked, associated as it is with the politics of wretched excess, fetishizing ignorance, bowing to K street lobbyists, and diaper-wearing-toe-tapping-lesbian-bondage sexual hypocrisy.

So lately conservatives, and especially the most hard right wing of conservatives, have been on the lookout for other terms they can use rather than the dreaded "R" word when describing themselves. Some of them have jumped on board the Glenn Beck self-promotion tour. Considering that it's an artificial movement generated around a cheap media persona, declaring yourself a supporter of the Tea Party is a bit like being a proud member of a Monkees Fan Club (and you don't even get to hear "Last Train to Clarksville"), but hey, it plays better than being a part of the George W. Bush legacy.

Other conservatives have jumped in a different direction and declared that they're really "small government Libertarians." Only they don't seem to understand what Libertarian actually means. Take for example this article in which Jacob Hornberger anoints 1880 as the peak of America's Libertarian golden age.

    Let’s consider, say, the year 1880. Here was a society in which people were free to keep everything they earned, because there was no income tax. They were also free to decide what to do with their own money—spend it, save it, invest it, donate it, or whatever. People were generally free to engage in occupations and professions without a license or permit. There were few federal economic regulations and regulatory agencies. No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, bailouts, or so-called stimulus plans. No IRS. No Departments of Education, Energy, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor. No EPA and OSHA. No Federal Reserve. No drug laws. Few systems of public schooling. No immigration controls. No federal minimum-wage laws or price controls. A monetary system based on gold and silver coins rather than paper money. No slavery. No CIA. No FBI. No torture or cruel or unusual punishments. No renditions. No overseas military empire. No military-industrial complex.

    As a libertarian, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a society that is pretty darned golden.

Ah, the 1880s. I can hear people getting wistful from here.

A golden age in which people kept all that they earned. Of course, what they earned in the absence of those debilitating minimum wage laws could be nothing more than worthless tokens from the company store. What they earned from twelve hours of work seven days a week could be actually be a bigger debt to the company that sent you into a mine or factory and made you pay for the wear on your tools, the water you drank, the fuel for your lamp, even the blasting powder you used.

Still, a lifetime of debt wasn't so bad in a golden age without OSHA and its safety laws, since lifetimes could be quite brief. Mining accidents didn't kill a piddling 29 men, they killed thousands every year. Over 3 miners out of every 1,000 died on the job each year (twice the rate of Great Britain with it's freedom-robbing concern for safety). But miners were pikers compared to folks on the railroad. Trainmen fell at a rate that made each year of work roughly equal to the risk of being among the troops on D-Day. Now that's freedom you can feel (well, briefly). It was an age where any construction project worth its salt could measure progress by body count and factory workers were privileged to know that they really were valued far less than the machines they tended. And death wasn't all that this golden age had to offer! It was an age when American workers could look forward to the liberation of being disabled for life, and know that they wouldn't be burdened by the crushing burden of worker's compensation or government aid.

Any laborer making it to to retirement would find... well, whatever they had laid aside for themselves, assuming they were paid in actual money and that they were cagey enough to hide it somewhere their employer couldn't "borrow" it. Meaning that a large percentage got to experience the invigorating freedom of starting a second career as a beggar after decades of crippling repetitive work, breathing toxic fumes, and exposure to corrosive chemicals made them unable to continue to hum hi-ho at their old tasks. Well over half of America's senior citizens basked in the autumnal liberty of living in poverty.

It was a golden age without labor laws in which only 5% of people faced the awful restriction of an 8 hour work day while 3 times that many were blessed with a workday that was 12 hours or longer. Many industries, breweries for example, had a standard workday of 15 hours. And with all the extra freedom of that age, many children were able to experience the blessings of back-breaking labor starting every day by the time they reached the age of 10, with more than a third generating freedom dollars before they turned 15.

Of course, that wasn't hard since this was a golden age of few public schools. Except it wasn't. Public education was common across the country, even in remote communities. Even the tiniest frontier village rarely went long without a school, many states had organized school districts, and in a good number of areas the ratio of teachers to students was actually higher than in our own socialistic era. Perhaps what Hornberger meant to say was that there were few schools available to minorities. In many areas minorities lived with "compulsory ignorance," as they were not only excluded from public schools, but discouraged (often violently) from seeking education. That accounts for a literacy rate of less than 40% among African-Americans in 1880. As laws changed and more schools became available for all, that rate grew by more than 30% over the next three decades. However, white literacy remained about the same -- not surprising since whites were already suffering from those socialistic public schools well before 1880.

It truly was a golden age. One in which, thanks to that lack of nasty safety requirements and the troublesome health organizations, the average lifespan was all the way up to 40! An age in which, unfettered by the shackles of regulations on clean water and Hitler-like restrictions on sewage, 50,000 Americans died of cholera. An age in which parents could experience the ultimate freedom endowed by watching 1 child in 5 die in infancy, and 1 out of 3 fail to reach adulthood. Those numbers are for white Americans. Minorities experienced even more of the freedom that comes from burying your children.

It truly was a golden age where there were "no immigration controls" as long as, you know, you were white and European. Oh, and wealthy. Otherwise, you were subject to laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act, or regulations that allowed anyone to be denied admission on the basis of poverty. Once you were in, you could love the freedom from Jim Crow laws, and the liberty that came with being denied to right to vote, or the ability to protect yourself from abuse. Of course Hispanic, Black, and Asian-Americans were all stimulated by the freedom that comes from having your home burned, your community ransacked, your wife and daughters raped, your belongings stolen, and your body left to turn as "strange fruit" in trees that sprouted across the country. All without un-American interference by the government. There's no freedom like the freedom that comes when you aren't forced to endure a trial by a jury of your peers and can get on with more expedited forms of justice.

It was a golden age when the last bands of Native Americans still struggling along under the illusion that they were free, were invited into the real liberty that is life on the reservation. And an age where they got to see the lands their ancestors had occupied for centuries or tens of centuries handed over for destruction. Imagine the liberty you get from seeing your lands taken away, your children beaten for speaking their own language, your religious practices used as an excuse for slaughter, and your entire culture erased.

A golden age, free from money-grubbing FEMA, where 400 people could die in a snow storm... then 400 more could die in the next. An age when Florida didn't need no stinking assistance in picking up the thousands who died in hurricanes and Midwestern states laughed off the hundreds who died in tornadoes -- all without warning from a communist government weather bureau.  An age where dams could be built without concern for any damn fish living in the water, or any damn people living downstream. An age where you were free to inhale the asbestos that wafted from factories and the mercury fumes that steamed from metal refineries. And free to see the interesting effects such exposures had on your offspring.

An age without communist limits on commerce or immoral government tests, where thousands of Americans each year died from tainted food. Where you didn't need no stinkin' license to hand out medicines. An age free from the horrors of the FDA where parents could feel good about using a childrens' cough remedy laced with opium, cocaine, formaldehyde, and wood alcohol. An age when nobody told us how much lead we could have in our water, or how much soot we could have in our air. An age where the injured and elderly had the God-given right to starve.

It was a golden age of rights for women in which... oh, wait. Sorry. I forgot for a moment that women don't count when measuring freedom. Good thing, since in 1880 they couldn't vote, were excluded from many occupations, faced restrictions on their ownership rights, and were often treated as the property of their husbands. Naturally, their reproductive rights consisted of the right to reproduce -- or die trying.

Of course, what Hornberger was likely envisioning was the flip side of all this liberty. The freedom of being a rich in a society where those with money enjoyed tremendous advantage. The freedom that factory owners and robber barons enjoyed in treating workers as they wanted, employing private armies to beat or kill those who opposed them, and indulging any whim in the sure knowledge that a large enough bribe could smooth things over.

The good news for Jacob is that it's not too late. It doesn't require a time machine and a trip to the 1880s to experience all the joys of this golden age he so longs for. You can reach this land of paradise with a couple of flights and a short boat ride. It's called Somalia.

The truth is, there are real Libertarians out there, people who place a very high value on individual rights and who believe this government -- like most every government -- too often interferes with those rights. Of course, actual Libertarians realize that for individual rights to have any meaning, they require the presence of a body that can ensure those rights.  They know that freedom can't be maintained in an absence of information, and that there must be agencies that create the transparency needed for effective individual action and ensure there are consequences to dishonesty. Real advocates of the free market realize that term has no meaning unless the market is free from coercion and the law is not defined by "might makes right." They know that individual freedoms are incompatible with a system where corporations are treated as super-citizens and that Libertarianism requires that workers be more valued that abstract entities that live only on paper.

The difference between actual Libertarians and Republicans hiding from their tarnished name is quite easy. Actual Libertarians are concerned about the freedom of individuals. Conservatives use Libertarian as a code word meaning "I want to continue to enjoy all the privileges I do now, but I don't want to share them with you and most of all I don't want to pay any taxes." Push come to shove, they're happy to abbreviate that to "Screw freedom. I just don't want to pay taxes."
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

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http://www.prisonplanet.com/economic-ignorance-and-liberal-hypocrisy.html

Economic Ignorance and Liberal Hypocrisy

Jacob Hornberger
Campaign For Liberty
April 24, 2010

A liberal named John Sumner, who goes by the pseudonym Devilstower, has weighed into the debate originally inspired by my article “Liberal Delusions about Freedom.” Sumner’s article, “What Conservatives Mean When They Say ‘Libertarian’,” which appeared yesterday on the liberal website Dailykos.com, reveals a lot about the liberal mindset as well as the reasons why America today is suffering so many economic woes.

Sumner takes me to task for singing the praises of our American ancestors, who chose a federal government without such statist programs as income taxation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, public (i.e., government) schooling, food stamps, corporate bailouts, foreign aid, a central bank, paper money, drug laws, and many, many more.

Sumner thinks that that type of society was absolutely horrible and cites the terrible things that were taking place in the United States in 1880, the year I pointed to in my article “Up from Serfdom.” Sumner’s response contains all the standard stuff that has long been taught in America’s government-approved schools, where Sumner just happens to work as a substitute teacher.

You know, like the stuff that suggests that our American ancestors hated their wives and children, as reflected in their sending them into dangerous factories to work long hours. You know, like the stuff that suggests that liberals love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged while advocates of the free market just love the rich, greedy, and selfish people in life. You know, like the stuff that suggests that without the coercive apparatus of the welfare state, poor people and old people would just be dying in the streets.

As I have long pointed out, the problem with liberals is their dismally poor understanding of economics, and Sumner’s article is just the most recent example of this phenomenon.

Permit me to explain why.

In their purported concern for the poor, liberals never ask the important question: What is it that causes wealth and prosperity to come into existence? The only question they ask themselves is, “What is the cause of poverty”?

But the latter is a ridiculous question because poverty has always been the natural state of mankind. Throughout history, most people have been poor.

Thus, the real question is: What are the causes of wealth? What is it that enables societies to break free of the chains of poverty? Why are some societies wealthier than others?

You would think that those would be important questions for a liberal, especially since liberals have long purported to be concerned about the poor.

Alas, those questions are unimportant to liberals. Sumner, not surprisingly, doesn’t raise the questions either.

Instead, he points out all the bad things that were taking place in, say 1880, and then concludes that all those statist programs that our American ancestors rejected, and which are so beloved to Sumner, should be embraced. In other words, he’s suggesting that the absence of the statist programs is the cause of the bad living conditions in American society that he laments. But his logic and his conclusions are faulty and fallacious.

No one denies that economic conditions were bad for many people in 1880. No question about it. No dispute there.

But in focusing on those bad conditions, Sumner makes a common mistake. He is comparing those conditions to conditions in which we live today or at least to some sort of ideal economic utopia. In doing that, he misses the important point, which is this: What were conditions for ordinary people prior to the Industrial Revolution? Answer: As Hobbes put it, life was nasty, brutish, and short — that is, much, much worse than it was in 1880 America.

As bad as things were in 1880 America, it was a golden era compared to the pre-industrial age. This point was made as long ago as 1954 in a book entitled Capitalism and the Historians, which was edited by libertarian Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek. As Austrian economist Murray Rothbard stated, “Hayek contributed to and edited a series of essays that showed conclusively that the Industrial Revolution in England, spurred by a roughly free-market economy, enormously improved rather than crippled the standard of living of the average consumer and worker in England. In this way, Hayek led the way in shattering one of the most widespread socialist myths about the Industrial Revolution.”

So, does that help clarify why I would refer to 1880 as a golden era? Not because of the bad things that were still existing (duh!) but rather because for the first time in history, massive numbers of poor people actually had a decent chance to survive and even prosper. In fact, in the 1880s there are countless stories of poor people actually becoming wealthy people! Imagine that!

And why was this so? That’s the critical question, the one that liberals never ask. They just assume that wealth is a given, that there is this big economic pie, and that the state should confiscate the pie and redistribute it in the interests of making everyone have an equal share of the pie. What liberals fail to recognize, however, is that in doing so, they begin a process that ends up condemning people to a life of massive poverty, starvation, famines, and short life spans that characterized the pre-industrial age.

To explain why I consider 1880 to be a golden era, especially for the poor, let’s consider a modern-day example, one that a good liberal like John Sumner would consider to be a model society: the socialist paradise of North Korea. In that country, everyone is equal in terms of economic condition. The state owns everything, and everyone works for the state. There are no profits, speculators, or entrepreneurs. Greed and selfishness have been stamped out of society. Total government ownership and total government control. Everyone works for the benefit of the collective.

In other words, a liberal dream!

Oh, did I mention that there is also horrific poverty, famine, and starvation in North Korea? Let’s assume, just for the sake of argumentation, that each year some 10 percent of the North Korean population is dying from malnutrition or illness.

Now, suppose we asked Sumner to give us his recommendation for ending poverty in North Korea. What would he say? He would say: “Adopt a welfare state and a controlled economy! Create bureaucratic departments, modeled on the IRS and U.S. welfare agencies, whose job it is to confiscate wealth from the rich and give it to the poor!”

Do you see the problem though? Sumner would be doing what liberals always do: they assume that there is a pie of wealth to confiscate and redistribute. That’s their solution to ending poverty. But he would be missing the obvious point: They already have total socialism in North Korea, which is precisely why there is no pie for Sumner to confiscate and redistribute. Everyone has nothing.

So, obviously the standard liberal statist solution for ending poverty isn’t going to work in our North Korea hypothetical. Instead, we have come up with another solution.

Let’s try a free-market-oriented solution, similar to the one that our American ancestors adopted and embraced. (I say “oriented” because freedom isn’t really freedom when government is permitting people to exercise it.) Let’s assume that the North Korea authorities place 60 percent of the land and buildings in North Korea under private ownership. They also enact a law that permits 60 percent of the North Korean populace to engage in any economic enterprise they want, without any permission or interference from the state. The people in that sector will be free to engage in any mutually beneficial exchange with anyone in the world. There will be no income tax, and people will be free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth. There will be no economic regulations whatsoever, including price controls, minimum-wage laws, and anti-speculation laws. There will be no Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or any other government welfare plan. No central bank and no paper money; the market will determine the media of exchange. No one will be coerced into helping another person but will be free to do so if he wishes. There will be no restrictions on emigration or immigration.

After 10 years, Sumner and I make a visit to North Korea. We discover that there is now an enormous difference between the liberated sector and the government-owned sector. In the liberated sector, there are no more famines, no more starvation. People’s real standard of living is soaring.

That’s not to say though that things are easy in the liberated sector. There is still much poverty given that it was only 10 years ago that people had absolutely nothing and were on the verge of starvation. People are having to work long hours in difficult working conditions, and that includes spouses and children. But everyone knows that those conditions are a blessing, compared to what is still happening in the government-controlled sector, where everyone is suffering much more horrific poverty and where 10 percent of the populace continues to die, year after year.

Now, I would call that a golden era, one in which 60 percent of the population was not only being saved but actually prospering.

What would Sumner say in response? He would say, “Why, that’s just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! That’s no golden era because the people in the government-owned sector are still suffering and dying. Hornberger must think that all that misery and death is a good thing. And look at how much poverty there still is in the liberated section.”

Even worse is what Sumner would propose. Furious over the fact that people in the free-market sector now have more wealth than people in the government-owned sector, he would propose statist programs that would restore government control and ownership over the free-market sector. As a good liberal, what would matter to him is that everyone should be made equal, even if everyone is made equally poor.

Would his criticism leveled at me be valid? Would I really be praising the government-owned sector when I referred to this period as a golden one? Of course not! What I would be praising is that libertarian economic means — i.e., the free market — have been used to bring 60 percent of the population out of horrific poverty and given them a chance to survive and even to prosper, especially as the generations progress.

What would be my solution to the bad things still remaining? That’s obvious — I would expand private-property, free-market principles to the 40 percent sector, enabling everyone in North Korean society to experience the benefits of the unhampered market economy.

And this is precisely what was going on in the United States throughout the 1800s, notwithstanding the fact that there were a large number of people to whom free-market principles were not being applied, such as the slaves. But for the sector that was liberated, it was the most phenomenal era in history, insofar as living standards were concerned. People were actually going from rags to riches into one, two, or three generations.

The proof of the pudding was the thousands of penniless immigrants who were fleeing the lands of government control and regulation to come to the land of little or no income taxation, regulation, or welfare. They just wanted a chance to make it, all on their own.

Did I mention that 19th-century America was not only the most prosperous nation in history but also the most charitable nation in history? In a land with no income tax and no welfare state, it was voluntary contributions that built the churches, opera houses, museums, and so much more.

So, what was the obvious solution to those Americans who were not permitted to experience the benefits of economic liberty? Expand it to them! What was the solution to the restrictions on liberty still being enacted in the 19th century? Repeal them!

In fact, the best thing Americans could ever do today is enact a constitutional amendment for economic liberty similar to the one our American ancestors enacted for religious liberty: “No law shall be passed respecting the regulation of commerce or abridging the free exercise thereof.”

The worst thing that could have ever happened was to return to the old, bankrupt idea of government ownership and control. But that’s precisely where liberals took us, with their socialistic welfare state. Gripped by envy and covetousness and unable to control themselves as they saw the enormous wealth coming into existence because of the free market, liberals (or “progressives” as some of them like to call themselves) brought into existence in the 20th century a massive confiscatory and redistributive socialist system, one that has been taking our country down the road to serfdom, impoverishment, and loss of liberty, the road that humanity has traveled throughout the ages.

Liberals have long justified their socialist and interventionist schemes under the pretense of loving the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. And their favorite justification whenever their programs go awry is, “But we have good intentions.” But good intentions are irrelevant. All that matters is reality, especially in terms of the immorality and destructiveness that have accompanied socialism and interventionism.

Sumner piously points out that 1880, the year that I used as an example of economic liberty, was characterized by the Chinese Exclusion Act. Of course, that couldn’t be true given that the Act wasn’t enacted until 1882. (Oh well, what’s a couple of years?) But his real point in bringing it up was to imply that the period wasn’t really golden because there was an immigration restriction on Chinese immigrants.

But let’s use Sumner’s example to show the rank hypocrisy with which liberals have long suffered. He complains about a law that excluded Chinese from freely immigrating to America, and rightfully so. Yet, look at what 20th-century liberals have done for decades: They’ve used immigration controls to exclude not only Chinese but also Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Africans, Haitians, and, well, the poor of just about every country in the world.

Isn’t it the liberals — the lovers of the poor — under liberal icon Barack Obama who are continuing the building of that fortified fence along our southern border, to keep the poor from coming here and trying to sustain their life through labor? Isn’t it the liberals who are conducting those raids on businesses all across the land, rounding up poor people who just want to work and improve the lot of their families, deporting them to their home countries where they can experience a life of hardship and poverty?

In fact, wasn’t it under the regime of liberal icon Bill Clinton that U.S. forces were attacking defenseless poor people, including women and children, who had escaped socialist and communist tyranny in Cuba and were trying to make it to the United States? Didn’t liberals forcibly repatriate those refugees to Cuba? Oh well, maybe Sumner would argue that is was for their own good, since in Cuba there is free education, free health care, and free everything else in that paternalistic society.

Please, Sumner, remind me again how much you liberals love the poor, because I’m tempted to say that an era in which there is only one group of people who are being excluded is golden compared to the massive numbers of poor people that you liberals have been excluding from our country for decades under the guise of immigration controls.

In fact, would you, as a good, poor-person-loving liberal, explain something to me that I’ve always had trouble understanding. As you know, the premier icon for you people is Franklin D. Roosevelt. You liberals say that his enactment of Social Security, the crown jewel of the socialistic welfare state, showed how much he loved the poor, needy, and disadvantaged.

Well, if that’s the case, would you please explain to me FDR’s attitude toward German Jews during the 1930s? Would you please explain to me why he refused to permit them to come to America when Hitler was willing to let them go? Weren’t they poor? And while you’re at it, can you please explain to me why he refused to let those poor Jews traveling on the SS St. Louis to disembark at Miami Harbor in the infamous “voyage of the damned”?

You see, I’m having a difficult time understanding why a man who purports to love the poor would do that to poor Jews. And I’m also having a difficult time understanding why you liberals would extol a man who did that sort of thing to poor Jews.

Please provide me with your best explanation on this, because I’m tempted to conclude that Roosevelt’s Social Security plan had nothing to do with any purported love of the poor but instead everything to do with the love of power and with making as many people dependent on the federal government as possible.

Oh, and while you are at it, would you explain to me something about FDR’s protégé, the liberal icon Lyndon Johnson, who brought Medicare and Medicaid into existence because of his purported love for the poor, needy, and disadvantaged? LBJ, as I hope you know, killed some million Vietnamese people, most of whom were poor, in an illegal war that was based on nothing but lies. He also sent some 58,000 of my generation to their deaths in Vietnam, many of whom were poor because that’s who they were drafting to fight in that war.

Would you be so kind as to reconcile that one for me, because I’m getting real tempted to conclude that LBJ’s Medicare and Medicaid plans were nothing more than a political power grab designed to put more Americans under the yoke of federal power and dependency?

While we’re on the subject, I also have a question about liberal icon Bill Clinton, another purported lover of the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. During the entire 8 years he was in office, he killed hundred of thousands of Iraqi children with the brutal sanctions that he enforced against that country. His U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, another liberal icon, said that those deaths were worth the attempt to oust Saddam Hussein from power.

That’s always been difficult for me to swallow. How can the deaths of poor, innocent children ever be worth a political goal such as regime change, especially given that Saddam had once been the partner of the U.S. government?

Of course, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the vicious attack by liberal icon Janet Reno (and Bill Clinton) on the poor people inside the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, including innocent children, given that today is the 17th anniversary of that horrific slaughter.

Oh, one final thing, Sumner. Please don’t lump conservatives with libertarians, especially since there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between liberals and conservatives. Both of you are statist to the core, and both of you are lovers of big government, big spending, big debt, and big inflation. And both of you are taking our nation down the road to serfdom, bankruptcy, and moral debauchery.

The only solution to the woes that you statists, both liberals and conservatives, have foisted onto our nation lies with libertarianism. Our American ancestors discovered the truth, and lots of Americans are now re-discovering it, which is precisely why you statists are so terrified.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline Geolibertarian

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Now that everyone has had a chance to read all three articles, I will now respond to some of the key claims and arguments made in each one -- beginning first, again, with Jacob Hornberger’s “Liberal Delusions about Freedom”:

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…according to the liberals, the notion that Obama’s plan for America was socialistic was itself just crazy.

Actually, it is crazy, just not for the reasons most liberals seem to think it is. It’s crazy because Obamacare is the virtual opposite of the Canadian-style system most people envision when they hear the term “socialist health care.”

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=122929.0

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After all, everyone knows that America has a free-enterprise system, one that was saved by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, an economic program that Obama, like other liberals, extols and wishes to build upon.

This is a classic illustration of how Austrian School types continually give Obama “left cover” by characterizing him as some sort of New Deal "liberal," when in reality he is both a corporate fascist and puppet of Wall Street intent on quietly dismantling the New Deal via IMF-style austerity measures.

Obama biographer, Webster Tarpley, has made this very point countless times on his radio show over the past two years.

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First of all, let’s talk about the economic system that existed in the United States from the inception of the nation to the latter part of the 19th century. The principles are simple to enumerate: No income taxation (except during the Civil War), Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, economic regulations, licensure laws, drug laws, immigration controls, or coercive transfer programs, such as farm subsidies and education grants.

What Mr. Hornberger is either unaware of or unwilling to admit to is that there were, in fact, “coercive transfer programs.” Specifically, there was

(a) government-protected rent-seeking on the part of land speculators, and consequently a “forced transfer of wealth from workers to landowners”;

(b) government-sanctioned fractional reserve lending (i.e. loaning non-existent “money” in exchange for collateral-backed IOUs and charging usurious interest on it), and consequently a forced transfer of wealth from the productive class to the non-productive, parasitic banking class; and

(c) banker-orchestrated, government-allowed monetary contractions -- most notably the “Crime of '73” -- and consequently a forced transfer of landholdings and other pledged collateral from bankrupted farmers and business owners to criminal financiers.

But because those three coercive transfer programs were not implemented by government directly, but rather by private interests for private gain with the aid and protective cover of government sponsorship and approval; because Austrian Schoolers tend to regard all government “regulations” -- not just most -- as bad and evil by definition, and would hence allow fractional reserve banking to go unchecked despite their professed opposition to it; and because they have an almost religious-like adoration for both land speculation and depression-inducing monetary contractions, they prefer either to ignore these privilege-based transfer programs altogether (particularly when gushing about the Gilded Age), or, when forced to address them, to define the utterly parasitic nature of these programs out of existence by characterizing them as mere “market" activities.

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In mocking that claim of socialism, however, what the SSA doesn’t tell you is where Bismarck got the idea of social security and, for that matter, the whole idea of a paternalistic welfare state. He got the idea from German socialist intellectuals, who saw social security as an ideal way to use the state to implement the Marxian principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Actually it is Mr. Hornberger who’s engaged in deception by omission, here, because as that same government web site acknowledges, it was actually Thomas Paine -- one of the very “Founding Fathers” in whose memory Hornberger so loves to wrap his Austrian School snake-oil -- who pioneered the idea of a "social insurance" program -- the key difference being that Paine (to his credit) advocated financing it with a tax on “ground-rent” rather than a tax on wages:

       http://geolib.com/essays/paine.tom/agjst.html

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As the years went on, the German people became accustomed to having the government care for them, with their own money of course. Thus, by the time that Hitler became chancellor of Germany, the paternalistic welfare state had become a permanent feature of German life. Given Hitler’s devotion to National Socialism (abbreviated by the term “Nazi”), it was hardly surprising that he embraced such socialist programs as social security, national health care, and public (i.e., government) schooling.

In fact, Hitler embraced not only socialism but also fascism, an economic philosophy that leaves property in private hands but subjects it to government control and regulation. Another feature of Hitler’s fascism was partnerships between government and private industry, whose aims were to further the interests of the nation.

As Jonah Goldberg points out in his book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, in principle there was no difference between socialists and fascists…

Translation: “Anyone who supports Social Security -- or a social safety net of any kind -- is, by definition, a socialist, fascist, and philosophical soulmate of Adolf Hiter!” ::)

If you were a top international banker who wanted to “divide” the anti-NWO/pro-America movement against itself so that it might be more easily “conquered,” isn’t that just the sort of ridiculously inflammatory rhetoric you would urge your propagandists and disinfo artists to aggressively employ? I know I would if I were one. So even if Mr. Hornberger isn’t a paid “agent” (as opposed to an overzealous, unwitting “dupe”) of the ruling elite, he may as well be!

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For what Roosevelt actually did was adopt the principles of socialism and fascism that were spreading across the world, including the premier examples of Benito Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany.

If that is true, then why did Hitler-admiring industrialists and financiers attempt to overthrow FDR for the purpose of installing a “fascist dictatorship”?

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-o8MVvQd7w

Oh, that’s right! Austrian School cranks don’t want us asking annoying questions like that, do they? We’re just supposed to accept, without question, that political reality is as conveniently black-and-white as they make it out to be, with virtually no shades of grey. Either you blindly accept each and every aspect of Austrian School dogma as divine gospel, or you’re automatically “delusional” about freedom, and very likely a freedom-hating socialist or fascist!  ::)

Now does everyone see why I regard the Austrian School as little more than a glorified cult?


Turning now to Mr. Sumner’s article:

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So lately conservatives, and especially the most hard right wing of conservatives, have been on the lookout for other terms they can use rather than the dreaded "R" word when describing themselves. Some of them have jumped on board the Glenn Beck self-promotion tour. Considering that it's an artificial movement generated around a cheap media persona, declaring yourself a supporter of the Tea Party is a bit like being a proud member of a Monkees Fan Club (and you don't even get to hear "Last Train to Clarksville"), but hey, it plays better than being a part of the George W. Bush legacy.

Other conservatives have jumped in a different direction and declared that they're really "small government Libertarians."

In fairness to Mr. Hornberger and to Austrian Schoolers generally, they have always been (to their credit) at serious odds with neocons like Glenn Beck on both civil liberties and foreign policy matters. So it is misleading at best to lump both into the same ideological category simply because they agree on certain economic issues. Indeed, that’s like calling Ralph Nader a “libertarian” since he actually agrees with most libertarians on civil liberties and foreign policy matters.  

I know of no time -- certainly not in the last 20 years -- in which Mr. Hornberger was in any way affiliated with, or supportive of, the Republican Party. As far as I can tell, he’s always been a 3rd party person. In fact it was he who gave the keynote address at the 1996 National Libertarian Party Convention. Republicans have always hated the Libertarian Party for the same reason Democrats have long hated the Green Party (particularly since 2000).

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Ah, the 1880s....A golden age in which people kept all that they earned. Of course, what they earned in the absence of those debilitating minimum wage laws could be nothing more than worthless tokens from the company store. What they earned from twelve hours of work seven days a week could be actually be a bigger debt to the company that sent you into a mine or factory and made you pay for the wear on your tools, the water you drank, the fuel for your lamp, even the blasting powder you used.

Still, a lifetime of debt wasn't so bad in a golden age without OSHA and its safety laws, since lifetimes could be quite brief. Mining accidents didn't kill a piddling 29 men, they killed thousands every year. Over 3 miners out of every 1,000 died on the job each year (twice the rate of Great Britain with it's freedom-robbing concern for safety). But miners were pikers compared to folks on the railroad. Trainmen fell at a rate that made each year of work roughly equal to the risk of being among the troops on D-Day. Now that's freedom you can feel (well, briefly). It was an age where any construction project worth its salt could measure progress by body count and factory workers were privileged to know that they really were valued far less than the machines they tended. And death wasn't all that this golden age had to offer! It was an age when American workers could look forward to the liberation of being disabled for life, and know that they wouldn't be burdened by the crushing burden of worker's compensation or government aid....

It was a golden age without labor laws in which only 5% of people faced the awful restriction of an 8 hour work day while 3 times that many were blessed with a workday that was 12 hours or longer. Many industries, breweries for example, had a standard workday of 15 hours. And with all the extra freedom of that age, many children were able to experience the blessings of back-breaking labor starting every day by the time they reached the age of 10, with more than a third generating freedom dollars before they turned 15.

Although perhaps a bit oversimplified, the above is (despite what Austrian Schoolers want desperately for everyone to believe) a fairly accurate assessment of just how anti-“golden” life for the average worker was in those days. More on that later.

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Even the tiniest frontier village rarely went long without a school, many states had organized school districts, and in a good number of areas the ratio of teachers to students was actually higher than in our own socialistic era. Perhaps what Hornberger meant to say was that there were few schools available to minorities.

Thinly-veiled race-baiting, straight out of MSNBC’s playbook, and completely inappropriate --  not to mention unnecessary, considering how much historical reality supports Sumner’s assessment of the 1880s over Hornberger’s. I’ve been following Mr. Hornberger politically for many years, and I can assure Mr. Sumner that Hornberger is no more a “racist” than Ralph Nader is a “fascist.”

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However, white literacy remained about the same -- not surprising since whites were already suffering from those socialistic public schools well before 1880.

Now here is where I part company for the moment with Mr. Sumner and express my general agreement with the Austrian School about the true nature and purpose of compulsory government schooling. I should probably add, however, that my approach to education reform, though similar to theirs in some respects, is nevertheless different in others.

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It truly was a golden age where there were "no immigration controls" as long as, you know, you were white and European. Oh, and wealthy.

Does this mean Mr. Sumner supports the ruling class policy of letting countless millions of banker-impoverished Mexican peasants break our immigration laws, all so the modern-day robber barons who’ve hijacked our government can (a) want less for slave labor and (b) bankrupt more easily and quickly our already-strained social safety net?

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Of course Hispanic, Black, and Asian-Americans were all stimulated by the freedom that comes from having your home burned, your community ransacked, your wife and daughters raped, your belongings stolen, and your body left to turn as "strange fruit" in trees that sprouted across the country.

Does Mr. Sumner realize that many if not most of the criminals who commited those horrible crimes would today be working as cops, CPS workers, TSA thugs or Homeland “Security” goons? Does that type of predatory, psychopathic behavior magically become less wrong merely because the person engaged in it happens to have on a fancy government uniform?

To hear the corporate whore “news” media -- including MSNBC -- talk (deafening silence itself being a form of political speech), it does!

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It was a golden age when the last bands of Native Americans still struggling along under the illusion that they were free, were invited into the real liberty that is life on the reservation. And an age where they got to see the lands their ancestors had occupied for centuries or tens of centuries handed over for destruction. Imagine the liberty you get from seeing your lands taken away, your children beaten for speaking their own language, your religious practices used as an excuse for slaughter, and your entire culture erased.

The same type of “liberty” you get from having economic WAR waged against you by Obama's ruling-class string-pullers, perhaps? Or, considering you have an obvious political bias of your own, is that a question you’d rather not answer, since that would mean having to question the legitimacy of the Democrat-vs.-Republican paradigm?

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A golden age, free from money-grubbing FEMA, where 400 people could die in a snow storm... then 400 more could die in the next. An age when Florida didn't need no stinking assistance in picking up the thousands who died in hurricanes and Midwestern states laughed off the hundreds who died in tornadoes -- all without warning from a communist government weather bureau.

Oh puh-leeze! If that’s what you think FEMA’s primary purpose is, Mr. Sumner, then you’re either deeply delusional or a bald-faced liar!

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klqv9t1zVww
       http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/MAR402B.html
       http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/september2005/060905femasabotaging.htm
       http://www.infowars.com/camp-fema-exposing-the-government-plan-for-political-concentration-camps/

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An age without communist limits on commerce or immoral government tests, where thousands of Americans each year died from tainted food.

Now we have your beloved FDA looking the other way while companies like Monsanto not only “taint” our food, but play genetic roulette with it!

And why do establishment liberals say virtually nothing about this? Because -- when they’re not signing petitions to ban water -- they’re too busy waxing alarmist about plant food!  ::)

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It was a golden age of rights for women in which... oh, wait. Sorry. I forgot for a moment that women don't count when measuring freedom. Good thing, since in 1880 they couldn't vote

It is, of course, good that women were granted the right to vote. But what good is the right to vote if -- due to an utterly rigged “election” system -- there’s nothing to vote for?

    "Would the essence of slavery change if the rules at a slave auction permitted a slave to choose between the two highest bidders for himself? Could the fact that he made such a choice be interpreted as his sanction for his chains? How can it be argued that the citizen is free in a democracy when he has the choice of two candidates if neither candidate is willing to recognize his right to freedom?"

-- James Bovard, Freedom In Chains, p. 132

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Of course, what Hornberger was likely envisioning was the flip side of all this liberty. The freedom of being a rich in a society where those with money enjoyed tremendous advantage. The freedom that factory owners and robber barons enjoyed in treating workers as they wanted,

Thanks to the aforementioned “war” that Obama the Wall Street Puppet is helping to wage against We the People, today’s robber barons are quickly regaining that particular “freedom.” (As I’m certain any sweatshop owner will readily attest, the more desperate people are for employment, the less they tend to complain openly about how badly their employers “treat” them. So don’t let those fake smiles at Wal-Mart fool you.)

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employing private armies to beat or kill those who opposed them

News flash: that is exactly what’s going on now, yet the Democrat-controlled Congress and White House refuse to even acknowledge this as an issue, let alone counteract it:

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJUEULWEP9c
       http://ampedstatus.com/af-pak-war-racket-the-obama-illusion-comes-crashing-down

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and indulging any whim in the sure knowledge that a large enough bribe could smooth things over.

Again, bad as that was, how is it any different from what we have today -- particularly after more than a year of a Democrat-controlled White House and more than three years of a Democrat-controlled House and Senate?

       http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19027
       http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16488
       http://www.infowars.com/top-senate-democrat-bankers-own-the-us-congress/
       http://www.prisonplanet.com/obama-puts-monsanto-lobbyist-in-charge-of-food-safety.html

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It doesn't require a time machine and a trip to the 1880s to experience all the joys of this golden age he so longs for. You can reach this land of paradise with a couple of flights and a short boat ride. It's called Somalia.

For reasons given above, one doesn’t even have to take a long trip to experience certain of those “joys.” One need only remove one’s partisan blinders and open one’s eyes to the reality that surrounds him. It’s called America.

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Real advocates of the free market realize that term has no meaning unless the market is free from coercion and the law is not defined by "might makes right."

By that measure, would you characterize either President Obama or Democratic Congressional leaders as “advocates” of the free market? If so, don’t be surprised if it isn’t just “conservatives” and “libertarians” who laugh at you!

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They know that individual freedoms are incompatible with a system where corporations are treated as super-citizens

And the Democrat-controlled Congress and White House have done what exactly (legislatively, not rhetorically) to eliminate corporate personhood? .... [20 seconds later] .... Hello? You still there?


And now for Hornberger’s response to Sumner:

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Sumner’s response contains all the standard stuff....like the stuff that suggests that our American ancestors hated their wives and children, as reflected in their sending them into dangerous factories to work long hours.

In his masterwork, Progress and Poverty -- the first regular market edition of which was published in 1880 -- Henry George explains that it was economic necessity, far more than anything else, that drove countless “wives” and “children” to work long hours in dangerous, dehumanizing factories; and that this necessity had, in turn, been imposed on them by overprivileged landlords and slumlords via parasitic rent-gouging.

       http://schalkenbach.org/library/henry-george/p+p/ppcont.html

Albert Jay Nock -- to whom many Austrian School ideologues pay homage (ironically enough) -- explains in the following excerpt how the equally horrid economic conditions that plauged Britain throughout the 19th century were mere symptoms of the very same root cause:

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

"This imperfect policy of non-intervention, or laissez-faire, led straight to a most hideous and dreadful economic exploitation; starvation wages, slum dwelling, killing hours, pauperism, coffin-ships, child-labour -- nothing like it had ever been seen in modern times....People began to say, perhaps naturally, if this is what State absentation comes to, let us have some State intervention.

"But the State had intervened; that was the whole trouble. The State had established one monopoly, -- the landlord's monopoly of economic rent, -- thereby shutting off great hordes of people from free access to the only source of human subsistence, and driving them into the factories to work for whatever Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bottles chose to give them. The land of England, while by no means nearly all actually occupied, was all legally occupied; and this State-created monopoly enabled landlords to satisfy their needs and desires with little exertion or none, but it also removed the land from competition with industry in the labour market, thus creating a huge, constant and exigent labour-surplus." [Emphasis original]

-- Albert Jay Nock, Free Speech and Plain Language, pp. 320-1

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

To eliminate this original layer of privilege that had been bestowed to rent-seeking landlords and speculators, Henry George advocated the Single Tax, which, if fully implemented, would have quickly eliminated the widely perceived need for all of the additional layers of privilege that (as an inevitable consequence of George’s remedy not being implemented) were eventually granted to the working class as a means of mitigating the poverty-creating effects of the original layer just enough to neutralize the threat of armed revolt.

Austrian Schoolers have always been vehemently opposed to eliminating that original layer of privilege, and, consequently, have spent the last century helping to fuel -- however unwittingly -- popular demand for the very “welfare state” protections and safeguards about which they incessantly whine. And the more one learns about who financed the Austrian School’s rise out of obscurity, the more one realizes why:

    “The Austrian School came into existence when a bunch of Viennese rent-gouging landlords didn’t want rent control on the rents they could gouge out of their tenants in old Vienna, so they hired a bunch of scribblers--and that’s the Austrian School.”

-- Webster Tarpley, World Crisis Radio broadcast, 9/27/08, 1st hour

    "For the first years of Mises’s life in the United States...he was almost totally dependent on annual research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation.”

-- Richard M. Ebeling, “The Life and Works of Ludwig von Mises,” The Independent Review, Summer 2008

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You know, like the stuff that suggests that liberals love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged while advocates of the free market just love the rich, greedy, and selfish people in life.

In my experience, neither establishment liberals nor Austrian School ideologues “love” the “poor.” But even if either group did, that of course wouldn’t change whether or not the policy agenda they advocate would, if fully implemented, actually help the poor not be poor in the first place. (And I’m sure Mr. Hornberger knows this, which is why this is a pathetic and shameless appeal to emotion on his part.)

If, metaphorically speaking, it’s a choice between

(a) an “unloving” good doctor who actually cures the disease,

(b) a “loving” liberal doctor who merely treats the symptoms of the disease while leaving the underlying root cause untouched, and

(c) a “loving” Austrian doctor who, in a sweet, caring voice, tells his financially bankrupt would-be patients they must have faith that the mystical, God-like entity euphemistically called the “free market” will see to it that “charity” groups will give them the money they need to secure his services (presumably before they die of sickness or injury), and that in the mean time he has some divinely-inspired Austrian School literature for them to read,

I’d choose the first option, and I suspect most others would as well. But for establishment liberals and Austrian Schoolers alike, truth and intellectual honesty are both secondary to ideology, so each group wants desperately for the masses to not even be aware of the first option, lest the oh-so-precious dogma of each group be seen for the ideological snake oil it really is.

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You know, like the stuff that suggests that without the coercive apparatus of the welfare state, poor people and old people would just be dying in the streets.

As contrasted with ideological snake-oil salesmen such as Mr. Hornberger, whose greatest fear is a mass awakening to the aforementioned “original layer of privilege,” and how -- in the Gilded Age about which Austrian School cranks so love to wax nostalgic -- it was this privilege, more than anything else, that made so many people poor and destitute in the first place. Because if such an awakening occurred, people everywhere would realize that the primary purpose of the Austrian School all along has been to protect and entrench this privilege -- not eliminate it -- and would consequently see their (the Austrian School’s) bumper-sticker slogans about “liberty” and the “free market” not as something to mindlessly cheerlead and applaud at Tea Party rallies, but as a sick joke.

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As I have long pointed out, the problem with liberals is their dismally poor understanding of economics, and Sumner’s article is just the most recent example of this phenomenon.

Unfortunately for Mr. Hornberger, the very same thing can be truthfully said about both his article and the Austrian School cult he fronts for.

Neither side of this controlled-opposition “debate” is part of the solution. On the contrary, both are part of the problem.

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In their purported concern for the poor, liberals never ask the important question: What is it that causes wealth and prosperity to come into existence? The only question they ask themselves is, “What is the cause of poverty”?

By contrast, Austrian Schoolers, in their shameful attempt to make their economic snake-oil seem like a legitimate cure, ignore the question of to whom -- and on what basis -- wealth is ultimately distributed once it’s been brought into “existence.” Because they know that to not ignore this question would be to draw attention to other questions -- particularly the ones asked by John Stuart Mill in the following quote -- which they want desperately to remain unasked:

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“Suppose that there is a kind of income which constantly tends to increase, without any exertion or sacrifice on the part of the owners: those owners constituting a class in the community, whom the natural course of things progressively enriches, consistently with complete passiveness on their own part. In such a case it would be no violation of the principles on which private property is grounded, if the state should appropriate this increase of wealth, or part of it, as it arises. This would not properly be taking anything from anybody; it would merely be applying an accession of wealth, created by circumstances, to the benefit of society, instead of allowing it to become an unearned appendage to the riches of a particular class.

“Now this is actually the case with rent. The ordinary progress of a society which increases in wealth, is at all times tending to augment the incomes of landlords; to give them both a greater amount and a greater proportion of the wealth of the community, independently of any trouble or outlay incurred by themselves. They grow richer, as it were in their sleep, without working, risking, or economizing. What claim have they, on the general principle of social justice, to this accession of riches? In what would they have been wronged if society had, from the beginning, reserved the right of taxing the spontaneous increase of rent, to the highest amount required by financial exigencies?

-- John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, Bk 5, Ch. 2

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But the latter is a ridiculous question because poverty has always been the natural state of mankind.

What Hornberger is either unaware of or unwilling to admit to is that this “ridiculous” assertion of his comes straight from Thomas Malthus:

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=117190.msg990315#msg990315

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You would think that those would be important questions for a liberal, especially since liberals have long purported to be concerned about the poor.

You would think that Austrian School “libertarians” wouldn’t be so blatant about their agreement with Malthusian dogma, considering their professed opposition to the global elite’s depopulation agenda -- which is rooted in Malthusianism.

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Instead, he points out all the bad things that were taking place in, say 1880, and then concludes that all those statist programs that our American ancestors rejected, and which are so beloved to Sumner, should be embraced. In other words, he’s suggesting that the absence of the statist programs is the cause of the bad living conditions in American society that he laments. But his logic and his conclusions are faulty and fallacious.

Unfortunately for Mr. Hornberger and his ideological cheerleaders, the logic he employs in defense of the Austrian School’s 19th-century alternative to these statist programs is -- for reasons already given -- equally “faulty and fallacious.”

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No one denies that economic conditions were bad for many people in 1880. No question about it. No dispute there.

But what is in dispute is the extent to which these conditions were because of, not in spite of, the very tax and monetary policies that Austrian Schoolers are chomping at the bit to reinstitute.

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But in focusing on those bad conditions, Sumner makes a common mistake. He is comparing those conditions to conditions in which we live today or at least to some sort of ideal economic utopia. In doing that, he misses the important point, which is this: What were conditions for ordinary people prior to the Industrial Revolution? Answer: As Hobbes put it, life was nasty, brutish, and short — that is, much, much worse than it was in 1880 America.

True to Austrian School tradition, what Mr. Hornberger is counting on his readers to remain blissfully ignorant of is (a) the alarming extent to which life for the average landless wage-earner continued to be “nasty, brutish, and short” precisely where wealth was most abundant, and (b) the extent to which these horrid economic conditions were the direct result of both the pro-land speculation tax system and deflationary “gold standard” he and his fellow Austrian Schoolers routinely endorse.

But don’t take my word for it, nor the contrary word of some Austrian School ideologue blabbing about how wonderful things were back then. Read what a highly respected author who actually lived in 1880, and who observed the socioeconomic conditions of that era first hand, had to say on the matter:

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“I hold, and I think no one who looks at the facts can fail to see, that poverty is utterly unnecessary. It is not by the decree of the Almighty, but it is because of our own injustice, our own selfishness, our own ignorance, that this scourge, worse than any pestilence, ravages our civilisation, bringing want and suffering and degradation, destroying souls as well as bodies. Look over the world, in this heyday of nineteenth century civilisation. In every civilised country under the sun you will find men and women whose condition is worse than that of the savage: men and women and little children with whom the veriest savage could not afford to exchange. Even in this new city of yours with virgin soil around you, you have had this winter to institute a relief society. Your roads have been filled with tramps, fifteen, I am told, at one time taking shelter in a round-house here. As here, so everywhere; and poverty is deepest where wealth most abounds.

“What more unnatural than this? There is nothing in nature like this poverty which to-day curses us. We see rapine in nature; we see one species destroying another; but as a general thing animals do not feed on their own kind; and, wherever we see one kind enjoying plenty, all creatures of that kind share it. No man, I think, ever saw a herd of buffalo, of which a few were fat and the great majority lean. No man ever saw a flock of birds, of which two or three were swimming in grease and the others all skin and bone. Nor in savage life is there anything like the poverty that festers in our civilisation.

“In a rude state of society there are seasons of want, seasons when people starve; but they are seasons when the earth has refused to yield her increase, when the rain has not fallen from the heavens, or when the land has been swept by some foe--not when there is plenty. And yet the peculiar characteristic of this modern poverty of ours is that it is deepest where wealth most abounds….

“I read in the New York papers a while ago that the girls at the Yonkers factories had struck. The papers said that the girls did not seem to know why they had struck, and intimated that it must be just for the fun of striking. Then came out the girls' side of the story and it appeared that they had struck against the rules in force. They were fined if they spoke to one another, and they were fined still more heavily if they laughed. There was a heavy fine for being a minute late. I visited a lady in Philadelphia who had been a forewoman in various factories, and I asked her, ‘Is it possible that such rules are enforced?’ She said it was so in Philadelphia. There is a fine for speaking to your next neighbour, a fine for laughing; and she told me that the girls in one place where she was employed were fined ten cents a minute for being late, though many of them had to come for miles in winter storms. She told me of one poor girl who really worked hard one week and made $3.50; but the fines against her were $5.25. That seems ridiculous; it is ridiculous, but it is pathetic and it is shameful.

“But take the cases of those even who are comparatively independent and well off. Here is a man working hour after hour, day after day, week after week, in doing one thing over and over again, and for what? Just to live! He is working ten hours a day in order that he may sleep eight and may have two or three hours for himself when he is tired out and all his faculties are exhausted. That is not a reasonable life; that is not a life for a being possessed of the powers that are in man, and I think every man must have felt it for himself. I know that when I first went to my trade I thought to myself that it was incredible that a man was created to work all day long just to live. I used to read the Scientific American, and as invention after invention was heralded in that paper I used to think to myself that when I became a man it would not be necessary to work so hard. But on the contrary, the struggle for existence has become more and more intense. People who want to prove the contrary get up masses of statistics to show that the condition of the working classes is improving. Improvement that you have to take a statistical microscope to discover does not amount to anything. But there is not improvement….

Here is a broad general fact that is asserted by all who have investigated the question, by such men as Hallam, the historian, and Professor Thorold Rogers, who has made a study of the history of prices as they were five centuries ago. When all the productive arts were in the most primitive state, when the most prolific of our modern vegetables had not been introduced, when the breeds of cattle were small and poor, when there were hardly any roads and transportation was exceedingly difficult, when all manufacturing was done by hand — in that rude time the condition of the laborers of England was far better than it is today. In those rude times no man need fear want save when actual famine came, and owing to the difficulties of transportation the plenty of one district could not relieve the scarcity of another. Save in such times, no man need fear want. Pauperism, such as exists in modern times, was absolutely unknown. Everyone, save the physically disabled, could make a living, and the poorest lived in rude plenty. But perhaps the most astonishing fact brought to light by this investigation is that at that time, under those conditions in those 'dark ages,' as we call them, the working day was only eight hours. While with all our modern inventions and improvements, our working classes have been agitating and struggling in vain to get the working day reduced to eight hours.

“Do these facts show improvement? Why, in the rudest state of society in the most primitive state of the arts the labour of the natural bread-winner will suffice to provide a living for himself and for those who are dependent upon him. Amid all our inventions there are large bodies of men who cannot do this. What is the most astonishing thing in our civilisation? Why, the most astonishing thing to those Sioux chiefs who were recently brought from the Far West and taken through our manufacturing cities in the East, was not the marvellous inventions that enabled machinery to act almost as if it had intellect; it was not the growth of our cities; it was not the speed with which the railway car whirled along; it was not the telegraph or the telephone that most astonished them; but the fact that amid this marvellous development of productive power they found little children at work. And astonishing that ought to be to us; a most astounding thing!

“Talk about improvement in the condition of the working classes, when the facts are that a larger and larger proportion of women and children are forced to toil. Why, I am told that, even here in your own city, there are children of thirteen and fourteen working in factories. In Detroit, according to the report of the Michigan Bureau of Labour Statistics, one half of the children of school age do not go to school. In New Jersey, the report made to the legislature discloses an amount of misery and ignorance that is appalling. Children are growing up there, compelled to monotonous toil when they ought to be at play, children who do not know how to play; children who have been so long accustomed to work that they have become used to it; children growing up in such ignorance that they do not know what country New Jersey is in, that they never heard of George Washington, that some of them think Europe is in New York. Such facts are appalling; they mean that the very foundations of the Republic are being sapped. The dangerous man is not the man who tries to excite discontent; the dangerous man is the man who says that all is as it ought to be.” [Continued…]

-- Henry George, “The Crime of Poverty,” April 1, 1885

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As bad as things were in 1880 America, it was a golden era compared to the pre-industrial age.

For land speculators and robber barons, yes, but not necessarily for the average worker.

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This point was made as long ago as 1954 in a book entitled Capitalism and the Historians, which was edited by libertarian Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek.

As noted above by Henry George, the obvious fallacy of that “point” (to the extent it applies to the working class) becomes obvious to anyone who reads Thorold Rogers’ authoritative, exhaustively-researched book, Six Centuries of Work and Wages, wherein Rogers explains how the progressive push for the 40-hour workweek was actually a mere effort to reclaim what the average worker used to enjoy:

    “According to Oxford Professor James E. Thorold Rogers, the medieval workday was not more than eight hours. The worker participating in the eight-hour movements of the late nineteenth century was ‘simply striving to recover what his ancestor worked by four or five centuries ago.’”

-- Juliet B. Schor, The Overworked American, p. 46

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Austrian economist Murray Rothbard stated, “Hayek contributed to and edited a series of essays that showed conclusively that the Industrial Revolution in England, spurred by a roughly free-market economy, enormously improved rather than crippled the standard of living of the average consumer and worker in England. In this way, Hayek led the way in shattering one of the most widespread socialist myths about the Industrial Revolution.

This is a classic illustration of how Austrian Schoolers, in their cult-like zeal to appear anti-“socialist,” replace socialist half-truths with equally false anti-socialist half-truths.

Did the industrial revolution make life better, or at least less intolerable, for many workers? Of course. But this, again, was in spite of, not because of, both the pro-land speculation tax system and deflationary gold standard they (Austrian Schoolers) endorse.

With particular regard to said tax system, whenever this system is in place, there is always -- in the words of economist Fred Foldvary -- a "constanct race” between (a) the process by which labor-saving technology increases wages and (b) the process by which increasing numbers of people with increasing incomes all competing for access to the same amount of land enables titleholders to absorb much of these wage gains through higher rent demands while providing no service in return -- a parasitic process commonly referred to as rack-renting.

In early 19th-century America, workers could always “move west” to escape the rack-renting that had long plagued the laboring classes of England, and which was now beginning to rear its ugly head in numerous population centers throughout the eastern half of the U.S. But by the late 19th century, all cheap land had been appropriated (much of it by land speculators), and it was at this point that industrial progress started to become less of a blessing to the working class and more of a curse, since continued increases in production were always met by higher and higher rent demands.

Thus, whatever increase there was in the average worker’s quality of life during the 19th century was due in large part to the fact that so much cheap land was available. Once all land became appropriated, however, the paradox of “poverty admid plenty” quickly began to appear where wealth was most abundant. That’s the dirty little secret about the Gilded Age that Austrian School cranks don’t want anyone to know about.

In summary: although Sumner’s article is not itself without its glaring flaws and omissions, it is nevertheless (insofar as the Gilded Age is concerned) a more accurate account of what life was like for the average worker in the late 19th century than Hornberger’s. Although Hornberger pays obligatory lip service to the notion that this so-called “golden era” was tarnished by certain “bad” things, he is noticeably careful not to identify what those things were or what caused them. And the reason for this convenient omission is obvious: because deep down he knows damn well that most if not all of those “bad” things would return with a vengeance if his beloved Austrian School’s economic agenda were fully implemented, and that most people would -- upon realizing this -- reject this insane agenda accordingly.

What is perhaps most laughable of all, however, is that, since Hornberger describes 1880 as an economic “golden era” in the context of railing self-righteously against the “welfare state” that (much to the horror of “feudal aristocrats” everywhere) was instituted decades later by FDR and subsequently expanded by LBJ, he is clearly implying that the average worker was not only better off in 1880 than he was in, say, 1772, but better off than he was in 1972.

Quite frankly, anyone who parrots this absurd belief is either a disinfo agent or a brainwashed dupe of someone who is. But then Ludwig von Mises -- a virtual deity to most Austrian Schoolers -- was admittedly financed out of obscurity by the Rockefeller Foundation. So is it really any surprise that the school of “thought” which von Mises (for all practical purposes) founded -- and to which Hornberger subscribes -- would turn reality on its head in order to make the Rockefeller-dominated Gilded Age seem like a worker’s paradise (as opposed to a robber baron’s paradise)? Certainly not to me.

All that being said, I’d like to close with a point of clarification: I’m well aware of how horribly flawed and corrupt our welfare system is. I just reject the ridiculous notion that the only alternative to the current system is to (a) have no social safety net at all and (b) reinstitute the tax and monetary policies that gave rise to the very economic conditions (dehumanizing sweatshops, widespread pauperism, etc.) that in turn created the apparent need for welfare programs in the first place.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

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Although I do not share either her one-sided view of the Founders or her apparent preference for pure democracy over constitutional republicanism, I nevertheless agree with much of what Vi Ransel has to say in the following article -- particularly her assessment of the Gilded Age (which is certain to make Austrian School ideologues cringe) and her point about how “slavery” -- despite being officially abolished in the 19th century -- was never truly eliminated, but simply transformed into more sophisticated, less obvious guises, and how it thrives to this day.

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http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-american-workplace-sweatshop-usa/18524

The American Workplace: Sweatshop USA
Workhouse Nation: Part Three

by Vi Ransel



Global Research
April 7, 2010

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" - Ebenezer Scrooge. "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens

"Labor is prior to, and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." - Abraham Lincoln

"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

While Constitutional architect James Madison spoke of the rights of minorities in general, his writings make it clear that he had a particular minority in mind. Madison believed that government's primary responsibility is "to protect the opulent against the majority." To that end the constitutional system he instituted was designed to secure the rights of persons with property and to forestall the threat of democracy.

The yeoman farmers who'd fought and won the revolution had to be taught, by force if necessary, "that the ideals of the revolutionary pamphlets were not to be taken too seriously, that they would not be represented by people like themselves, but by 'responsible men' who could be trusted to defend privilege."

In his last letter on politics, Alexander Hamilton warned against dismembering the union, saying that it offered "no relief to our real disease, which is democracy..." (Because democracy disperses power.)

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, slave-owning, propertied plutocrats though they were, warned us against businesses, that is, corporations, used to accumulate and concentrate wealth, which is then translated into political power. They predicted a financial aristocracy via corporate tyranny. Having lived under the tyranny of the British East India Company, the first and most powerful transnational corporation in history, they knew from whence they spoke.

But since the states had placed legal limits on corporations before the Constitution was written, the Bill of Rights did not, as Jefferson implored, contain an eleventh amendment forbidding monopolies, which would have kept these dangerous corporate mechanisms from becoming more powerful than the people, who are the sovereigns in a functioning democracy, whether direct or representative. Initially corporations were limited to projects undertaken in the public interest, but corporate shareholders used the Supreme Court as a scalpel to excise the protections and the immunities of the Fourteenth Amendment and transplant them into their property, the corporations. That operation allowed shareholders' property to begin assuming control of the United States government by exercising the constitutional rights of US citizens, and further, to assume the protections and immunities of the entire Bill of Rights under the mantle of "corporate personhood."

Repeat. Democracy disperses power. Corporations concentrate power. Corporations are property. Property as power, when concentrated in the hands of a few, inevitably becomes power over the majority. But it's no longer about freedom and democracy - if it ever was - since the US was created to protect the right of an "opulent minority" to property. And the "opulent minority" has always had the freedom to present the facade of democracy while doing exactly as it pleases.

By the Gilded Age, it had become in-your-face apparent that exploitation by this "opulent minority" created poverty - child labor, Astor's fetid tenements, Sinclair's expose' of the meat-packing industry in "The Jungle," Rockefeller's 90% monopoly of oil, and industrial "accidents" like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, et al. Such blatant, self-serving injustice was so morally repulsive that corporate shareholders would change their modus operandi - but only after threatened with another rebellion, deep in the depths of the Great Depression.

As a result of the New Deal, Americans, when elderly, would no longer be destitute. After paying into Social Security all of their working lives, they could at last stop working, and enjoy a modest retirement. Those still working could now come together to bargain collectively with the collectives known as corporations, for which they toiled and yielded up the greater part of the real wealth they created for society with their labor.

After a new set of "yeoman farmers" won World War II, they came home to go to college on the G.I. Bill and bought into the Ownership Society with veterans' loans for Levit houses. The limited reforms of the New Deal, these veterans' programs, and the fact that the US was the only industrial democracy left standing after the war, helped to create the most prosperous period in America's history across the board, and the most prosperous middle class in the history of the world.

But the US juggernaut hit the wall in the 70s in the aftermath of two manipulated oil "crises," and as Japan and Europe recovered and began creating some serious economic competition. The remedy for waning corporate profit came in 1981 with "Volcker Shock." Paul Volcker, then head of the Federal Reserve, prescribed a ratcheting up of interest rates - to 21%. Severe repression kicked in. The wages of working people froze in place and then began to go backward as corporate profits resumed their climb.

In the 70s, one income could support a family. By the 80s and 90s it took two incomes. Now it often takes two incomes made up of two jobs each. But this is now the American way. At a town hall meeting, George W. Bush once asked a woman what she did for a living. When she replied that she had three jobs, he patted her on the head and said, "Isn't that great? That's an all-American story." And it's even truer today.

Today's slave wages don't cover the most basic human needs, leaving us exposed to the predators that have stalked humankind throughout history - disease, starvation and exposure to the elements. Even pre-Civil War slaves got room and board. Today's wage slaves pay for their own, returning the pitiful pittance they receive from the stingy, "invisible hand" of one corporation to the greedy "invisible hand" of another in the endless siphoning up of our hard-earned money to the top of the economic pyramid in order to provide the repulsive luxuries the "opulent minority" flaunts contemptuously in our faces just to prove to us that they can. And as far as a nation of the people, by the people and for the people – all the people - what we achieved via the Civil Rights Movement was the "freedom to starve without regard to race, creed, color or national origin." - Harold Cruse

At the bottom of all America's crises lies the mechanism by which the power that created the crises was itself created - corporations - finance corporations like banks, insurance corporations, pharmaceutical corporations, energy corporations, agricultural corporations, retail corporations, weapons corporations, telecommunications corporations, prison corporations, etc., etc., etc. They're all corporate mechanisms for maximizing profit, which is accumulated, concentrated and then translated into political power. And because there's a difference between politics and policy, the people may participate in the electoral theater of politics (talk), but they may not take part in the actual making of policy (action), which determines who gets what and how much.

And the "opulent minority" of shareholders and their corporations are not held to account for the results of their policy-making; for shamelessly exploiting the poor; for polluting the environment on a massive, industrial scale; for callously selling products that maim, injure and kill; for buying our representatives via "one dollar, one vote;" nor for colonizing defenseless countries backed by the obese power of the US military in order to extract their labor and resources for next to nothing.

And rather than confront corporations and shareholders, great groups of the impoverished population are scapegoated and reviled as the cause of corporations' effects. The poor, as they have been conditioned to do, blame themselves and suffer the shame of their poverty silently, or else allow themselves to be set one upon the other to create a buffer that insulates and protects the "opulent minority" from the immiserated majority. Witness the Tea Partiers.

The "opulent minority" rightly fear retaliation for having poisoned the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink; for trashing our economy, our schools and our infrastructure; for exporting our jobs, taking our homes and our savings and putting healthcare out of reach; for using human beings as interchangeable tools, that they throw out like garbage after they've used them up; and for turning our children into the ammunition that secures the interests of their transnational corporations - all to make one more buck on top the billions they've already got. And all the while they pretend to be protecting us from an enemy without, while using sophisticated Public Diplomacy developed for use against foreign populations; advertising created by PhDs in human psychology to press our fear and greed buttons; and corporate-owned information distributed by corporate-owned media to prevent us from recognizing that the "opulent minority" is the enemy within, our homegrown, economic terrorists, who continue to rape us as our "representatives" stand by, looking from the side, taking a payoff to let them do it.

This propaganda is so effective that after 30 years of voodoo economics, "free" market fundamentalism, and harsh, neoliberal SAPs, most of us still can't, or still refuse to, see who the enemy really is. And what keeps the enemy up at night like ante-bellum South Carolina slave owners? Wondering when we'll snap. What will it take? No food or fuel? No jobs at all? Banks refusing to give us our money? Inflation making a loaf of bread worth a wheelbarrow full of cash? Granny burning alive as she "steals" electricity to keep warm after hers is shut off? Or all of the above "concurrent whirlpools of misery, sucking in the collective grievances of millions." This has always been the "opulent minority's" most terrifying nightmare. "There's a f--k load of them, and they have guns." - Frank Leone

Corporations, as well as individual members of the "opulent minority," are hiring private security, much like the railroad, coal and steel barons of the Gilded Age. Blackwater (Xe) and its ilk are present day incarnations of Pinkertons, Baldwin-Felts "detectives" and Henry Ford's own back-shooting "Service Department." From the post-Katrina streets of New Orleans, where American citizens were left to rot like garbage, to Baghdad, where these mercenaries protect State Department personnel, such contractors/assassins, though vastly more expensive than the army, are employed because they're so much more loyal - to money. And one day the "opulent minority" may no longer be able to trust that the US military rank and file will turn on their fellow Americans, their families and friends in defense of their masters' property.


On October 4, 2008, 4,700 regular Army troops were made available to the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM). The remainder of the 20,000 troop "allotment" will be added as they complete their assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan by 2011. The pretext is, as always, the danger of terrorism, but it's in preparation for military intervention in the event that the people's reaction to economic and societal meltdown crosses the line the "opulent minority" finds acceptable.
 
The "Army Times" noted that "They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control...These troops are equipped with a new, modular package of nonlethal capabilities." The Army Times also reported, that the "3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team [BCT] has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys. Now they're training for the same mission--with a twist--at home."

This deployment was made possible as a result of the 2007 Defense Authorization Act's Section 1076, empowering the president to impose martial law in the event of a threat to "public order," regardless of its causes, i.e., potentially produced by domestic political or social upheaval, not in response to 9/11 or the threat of terrorist attacks.

With the Defense Authorization Act 2007, George W. Bush signed away a 200-year-old provision of the Insurrection Act, prohibiting the use of United States military forces for law enforcement purposes domestically unless Congress saw fit to authorize it in cases of national emergency. This would allow a president to declare such an emergency without consulting Congress and send our troops to put down whatever he decided was public disorder - anti-war protests, environmental activism, demonstrations for immigrants' rights, unions marching against globalization, students sitting in in protest of tuition hikes, or any group of citizens unwilling to tolerate policies detrimental to the general welfare and demanding restoration of their constitutional rights. (In California, students occupying campus buildings to protest budget cuts and tuition hikes were characterized by their "Governator" as engaging in "terrorism.") These laws were put in place to combat citizens' attempts to change the country's policy direction. They allowed pre-emptive crackdowns on potential threats to minority rule.

But both Democratic and Republican governors objected to Section 1076 as an unneeded expansion of presidential authority to federalize the National Guard and usurp the powers of state officials. And the president's power to declare martial law was limited by the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.
 
But after the H1N1 flu "pandemic" hysteria and the media feeding frenzy that created a terrorism panic over Flight 253's "Underwear Bomber," President Obama signed Executive Order 13528 on Jan. 11, 2010. It establishes a Council of Governors which the president can choose to "advise" him/agree with plans to seize control of the National Guard in the event of a "national emergency." Obama's Executive Order further weakens Posse Comitatus and allows federal seizure of control over armed forces historically under the democratic control of elected state officials. This effort to "synchronize and integrate" state National Guards with the Armed Forces would effectively place them under NORTHCOM's control.

This is "a practical demonstration of the bipartisanship of ruling class consensus," and the reality is that support for repressive legislation like the PATRIOT Act has been a bipartisan affair from the start.

The Senate passed the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001 with only one dissenting vote. Members of Congress admitted they hadn't even read it. In 2010, the Democrats in Congress pushed through an unamended extension of the PATRIOT Act’s most egregious provisions. The Obama Administration declined to support even minimal changes like barring government use of National Security Letters (NSLs)— FBI, CIA and Pentagon administrative subpoenas — for obtaining confidential records of US citizens not suspected of terrorism or espionage; letting the “lone-wolf” provision expire; requiring the government to explain, in writing, the factual basis for securing an NSL; allowing NSL recipients a limited ability to challenge gag orders barring them from informing the target of an investigation; and repealing the section of the FISA Amendments Act that granted blanket immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government in its illegal, warrantless wiretapping program.

REX 84 was established during the Reagan Administration to keep order during a "mass exodus" of "illegals" flooding across the Mexico/US border, who'd then be rounded up and detained by Immigration prior to being deported. REX 84 also allows military bases to be closed and converted into prisons. It's existence was uncovered during the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987 and reported by the Miami Herald.

In early 2006, KBR, then a Halliburton subsidiary, was given a contract to build detention processing capabilities to expand Immigration's Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in order to house people in the event of that emergency influx of immigrants, a natural disaster, or undefined "new programs that require additional detention space."

World War Two Japanese internment camps and German and Italian POW camps were rehabilitated, and these facilities are operational. In the event of martial law it would only take two signatures - one on a Presidential Proclamation and the other on a warrant from the Attorney General with a list of names attached - to determine who will serve as forced labor in an attempt to reassert America's global industrial hegemony.

Nat Parry, writing about "Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'" for Consortium News in February of 2006, noted an "item posted at the U.S. Army Web site, about the Pentagon's Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program 'provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations.' The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a 'rapid action revision' on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a 'template for developing agreements' between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations. On its face, the Army's labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the Attorney General to 'establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him' and 'make available...the services of United States prisoners' to various government departments, including the Department of Defense." Parry also notes that the timing of the document's posting, and its reference to a "rapid action revision," coincided with KBR's contract foreshadowing the "rapid development of new programs."

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed both Executive Order 11000 and Executive Order 11051. EO 11000 allows the federal government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision (2/16/62). EO 11051 delegates authority to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of international tensions and economic or financial crisis to the Office of Emergency Planning (9/27/62).

An orderly enforcement of all these provisions will at first be made possible by troops returning from the Middle East equipped with a new, modular package of non-lethal "capabilities." "Non-lethal" weapons (NLWs) have been used by police for a long time, and when used worldwide by military forces they're meant to ensure compliance (from hostile "natives.")

Americans, however, have already allowed themselves to be tear-gassed, maced, hit with water and sound cannons and tasered for exercising their right to free speech. They've meekly requested permits to exercise their right to freely associate. They've allowed themselves to be caged behind chain anchor fences and barbed wire as they "exercise" both these rights, unable to move from their designated "free speech zones." And when they pass the permissible parameters of protest, police move in and taser, gas, and deafen them into submission.

Now taser’s distributor is planning a flying drone that fires stun darts at criminal suspects or rioters. The “Shockwave Area-Denial System” blankets an area with electrified darts and uses a wireless Taser projectile to pick off “ringleaders."

XM1063 is a “non-lethal personal suppression projectile” containing an "advanced riot control agent." It's an artillery shell that bursts in midair and scatters 152 parachuting canisters of its chemical payload - probably fentanyl - creating a "literal opiate of the masses." The Pentagon's only problem was developing an effective delivery vehicle and regulating dosages, but these problems were easily solved by partnering with the pharmaceuticals industry. (Fentanyl is a narcotic 100 times more powerful than morphine, with an effect similar to heroin. However, it often acts as more of a sedative than a "high," and it carries with it the risk of death from respiratory depression.

A Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) is a non-lethal weapon capable of producing ear-shattering sounds that has been deployed in Iraq as an "anti-insurgent weapon." At 150 decibels, it can cause major hearing damage. At almost a thousand yards away it's painful, even with hands held over the ears - and ear plugs in. The Banshee II "sonic blaster" emits a piercing 144-decibel shriek that also physically pumps the ear drums."

The Active Denial System (ADS), also called a pain ray, is a directed-energy weapon used primarily for crowd control. It works by firing a beam of high-frequency microwaves that excite the water and fat molecules in the body - just like a microwave oven heats food. It causes immediate and intense pain. The temperature keeps rising as long as the beam is applied, and it makes the skin feel as if it were on fire. A Reuters correspondent who volunteered to be shot with the ADS during a demonstration said it was "...too painful to bear without diving for cover."

Defense contractor Raytheon has developed a smaller version of the ADS, for which it was granted an FCC license in 2004 to demonstrate the technology to "law enforcement, military and security organizations." Contrary to Raytheon's claims, Michael Hanlon, another volunteer, said the finger he offered for a demonstration "was tingling hours later."
 
It's uncomfortably easy to imagine peaceful, civilian protestors, e.g. "rioters," being sonically blasted or brought to their knees with pain rays before street-clearing operations by SWAT teams. NLWs like gas and tasers are presently used to subdue people in civilian settings. A lower threshold of use may lead those armed with NLWs to use them as casually as they use tasers. In addition, weapons with the primary purpose of inflicting pain make excellent torture devices. It's for this reason that the Active Denial System was rejected for use in Iraq. The Pentagon feared it would be seen as an "instrument of torture."

Having such weapons at public events makes people think twice about exercising their constitutional rights. It uses fear and pain to enforce compliance, pre-empting the exercise of free speech and association. And that is precisely the point.

China's Information Office of the State Council released "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009" on March 13, China's version of the US State Department's "Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2009" released on March 11. The Chinese used publicly available US government documents and US media sources to reveal America as the rest of the world sees it, not as it sees, or purports to see, itself. The report notes that police in the US killed 45 people with tasers from January to October of 2009, making the total 389 in the last ten years – or one American about every nine days. In New York City alone, there were 315 "internal supervisions" of police for unrestrained use of violence.

There are already 2.3 million of us incarcerated, many for non-violent drug offenses. An additional population of protesters/"rioters" and up to 50 million insurance scofflaws would create a magnificently cheap labor platform on which to build the supply of US products the president proposes to export. "Incarceration may be the only US industry that enjoys unlimited growth potential..." "A new prison opens somewhere in the US every week." - David Cole, Georgetown law professor

At present, those of us who can't afford insurance can't be forced to buy it, or sent to prison for refusing to buy it. We can't be fined if we can't afford annual premiums. At least not 'til 2014. But healthcare "reform" will force people to buy insurance with no options, public or otherwise. And if you do opt for the choice of food, mortgage payments, gas to get to your job, heat and electricity, your family or your life itself over using that money to further enrich insurance corporations, that will make you a criminal. And if you refuse to pay for this "insurance," the only economy you'll be contributing to is the prison economy. Perhaps the individual penalty for not buying insurance company products could be thought of as the functional equivalent of the 20 shillings owed by over half the inmates in New York City's debtors' prison in 1787 and 1788.

Prison corporations will see shareholder profits rise. And those who own prison stocks and are incarcerated for non-payment will probably do well, but like occupants of "The Hotel California," they will never do well enough to leave. Imprisoned debtors could see their prison stocks rise while watching the money confiscated to pay their healthcare costs in prison.

Prison privatization actually began with the contracting of confinement and care of British prisoners after the American Revolution. Since the British could no longer ship their criminals and undesirables to the American colonies, they confined them on ships moored in British ports. The first for-profit prison in America opened in 1852 in California - San Quentin. But it was so badly mismanaged that it was turned over to the state government.

After the Civil War, the South was able to continue its "peculiar institution" via the sharecropper system. The freed slave/sharecropper borrowed money from a land owner to work the same land he'd worked as a slave, and then shared the profits with the land owner, often his former master. But if the crop failed, the nouveau slave, white or black, still owed what he'd borrowed to the land owner, who shared only the profit, not the risk. In this way, while one man could no longer own another man, he could own another man's debt, the same way, today, another man owns his mortgage, his student loan, or his credit card debt.

A "hiring out" system of convict labor also served to perpetuate slavery. Prisons proved a cheaper, more efficient method of turning human beings into commodities. Freed slaves were accused of not making good on their sharecropping obligations, or of unproven, petty thievery. They were then incarcerated and "hired out" for cotton picking, mining and railroad building, and for work in brickyards, lumber camps and quarries. In 1868, plantation owners, businessmen and farmers were able to replace slave labor with convict leases, renting, rather than owning their workers.

From 1870 until 1910, 88% of hired out convicts in Georgia were Black, as were 93% of hired-out miners in Alabama. In Mississippi, the Parchman plantation, a huge prison farm, replaced hiring out. It lasted until 1972.

In the industrial north, working conditions were medieval: child labor, sub-subsistence wages, dangerous conditions, interminable hours... Labor unions were a direct result of this abuse, and as soon as the Labor Movement began, there were protests against the use of for-profit convict labor as a means of breaking strikes and driving down wages across the board. (The way "illegal" immigrants are used today, again as a buffer for those who profit off them.) But the "opulent minority" and their corporations fought reform tooth and nail, and literally, with bullets, insisting that a decent standard of living for working people was an intrusion on their freedom (to exploit and control.)
But by 1890, public opposition to convict labor for profit had forced state after state to forbid the sale of convict-made goods.

In the 30s, the Hayes-Cooper and Ashurst-Sumner Acts outlawed convict labor and made it a felony to move prison goods across state lines. But during the 70s, a new series of laws, starting with the Carter Administration's Justice System Improvement Act of 1979, allowed inmates to be put to work for profit again. Even Chief Justice Warren Burger wanted prisons to become "factories with fences."

In the 80s, the prison population exploded due, in large part, to the "War on Drugs." The cost of running prisons, as well as prison overcrowding, exploded along with the population. Private corporations seized this opportunity to go beyond contracting for convicts' services and began contracting for complete management and operation of entire prisons. In 1984, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) became the first modern, for-profit prison to establish itself publicly.

For-profit use of convict labor really boomed under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and reached a peak in 1990 under Bill Clinton, with prison stocks selling like sub-prime mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street. State governments and corporate "entrepreneurs" teamed up to use prisoners to generate profit, and were soon joined on the bandwagon by politicians from both parties.

By the 90s more than 100 corporations were using thousands of convicts in at least 29 states. In 1994, the owner of DPAS, a San Francisco computer corporation, brought its data retrieval operation back from Mexico - to San Quentin prison. He said, "We have a captive labor force... And the whole thing is very profitable."

U.S. Technologies sold its Austin, Texas plant and fired all 150 of its employees. Forty-five days later it had replaced them with convict labor from a nearby private prison, where circuit boards were assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq. Corporate underwriters of the construction of such "entrepreneurial enterprises" included American Express, General Electric, Smith Barney and Goldman Sachs.

By 2000 California inmates were processing "more than 680,000 pounds of beef, 400,000 pounds of chicken products, 450,000 gallons of milk, 280,000 loaves of bread, and 2.9 million eggs (from 160,000 inmate-raised hens)" every month. A Starbucks subcontractor hired convicts to package holiday coffees and Nintendo Game Boys. Prisoners made "brooms and brushes, bedding and mattresses, toilets, sinks, and showers." They shrink-wrapped products for a Microsoft subcontractor that also worked for Costco and JanSport. Convicts made "dorm furniture and lockers, diploma covers, binders, logbooks, library book carts, locker room benches, and juice boxes." They worked in dental labs to produce a complete line of "prostheses: custom trays, try-ins, bite blocks, and dentures." Convicts have also helped build a Wal-Mart distribution center, stocked merchandise for Toys 'R' Us and made lingerie and leisure wear for Victoria's Secret and JCPenny.
 
UNICOR, aka Federal Prison Industries, sells its products strictly to the US government. In 2008, its net sales were $854.3 million, up from $459 million in 1996. These products were made by 21,836 convicts, or 17% of the inmates available in federal prisons. And for their generation of these sales, the inmates received 4% of them as wages.

UNICOR's 109 federal prison factories pay for themselves, or rather, the convicts pay for them, since they receive no government funding while producing about 175 different products and services: clothing and textiles; electronics; vehicle parts; industrial products; office furniture; recycling; and data entry and encoding. (See a job you'd like?) Unicor said that its inmate call centers are the "best kept secret in outsourcing." Unicor convicts also made soldiers' uniforms, bedding, shoes, helmets, and flak vests. Prisoners "produced missile cables and wiring harnesses for jets and tanks." A Boeing subcontractor had inmates cutting airplane components for $7 an hour, $23 less than the same work paid on the outside.

And "Under current law, all physically fit inmates who are not a security risk or have a health exception are required to work, either for UNICOR or at some other prison job. Inmates earn from 23 cents to $1.15 per hour, and all inmates with court ordered financial obligations must use at least 50% of this UNICOR income to satisfy these debts."  (emphasis added)

Weapons manufacturing corporations see prisons as a profitable new market for "defense technology" like electronic bracelets and stun guns. Private transportation corporations make money moving prisoners. Healthcare corporations provide prisons with doctors and nurses. Food service corporations make prisoners' meals. High-tech corporations hope to barcode prisoners or implant them with RFID chips and then sell scanners to monitor them. Telecommunications corporations like AT&T are looking for a piece of the enormously lucrative prison action.

By 2008, 37 states had legalized "hiring out" convicts to private corporations that operate inside state prisons: "IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom's, Revlon, Macy's, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more." And all these corporations experienced a powerful boost in shareholder profits as a result of using convicts, rather than "unincarcerated," labor.

And while crime rates have gone down, inmate population has gone up. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the prison population rose to one million in 1990 and 2 million in 2000. In 1990 there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates. In 2000 there were 100 private prisons with 62,000 inmates. Today there are 264 for-profit prisons in America, housing almost 100,000 inmates. Most of these are in the southern and western parts of the country. They house both state and federal prisoners, and juveniles as well as adults.

"No other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens." The United States has locked up a half million more people than China, which has a population five times greater. And while the United States has only 5% of the world's population, it has 25% of the world's convicts. China's "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009" states that there are 7.3 million Americans under the authority of US correctional systems.

The prison industrial complex is one of the fastest-growing sectors of US industry. "This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors."

Privatizing prisons is an incentive to imprison people, because in order to guarantee enough profit to attract investors, these prisons have to be 90-95% filled. Corporate shareholders who make money off convict labor lobby for longer sentences and get-tough policies in order to enlarge and secure their workforce, as well as to continue the growth and profitability of their "enterprise."

Private prison corporations are major contributors to ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Based in Washington, D.C., this public policy organization develops legislative models for tough-on-crime laws and advances "free" market principles like privatization. ALEC's Criminal Justice Task Force developed and helped to implement "Truth in Sentencing" and "Three Strikes" laws. ALEC's major contributors include private prison corporations like CCA and the GEO Group.

From 1980 to 1994, profit off hired-out convict labor went from $392 million to $1.31 billion. And thanks to hiring out convicts, the United States once again became an attractive location for investment in work designed for a globalized, "Third" World labor force. Corporations and their congressional marionettes will argue that this is justified - America needs the jobs - even if Americans have to go to prison to get them. And the exports produced by this convict labor will not only increase the pool of available labor and strengthen US corporations against overseas competition, it will pay for itself - long the stuff of corporate nirvana - as it helps to rebuild US global economic hegemony.

"...slavery is but the owning of labor and carries with it the care of the laborers, while the European plan, led by England, is that capital shall control labor by controlling wages." - from the Hazard Circular, 1862, purportedly from the banking interests of Britain to those of Civil War-era America (emphasis added)

In Bangladesh, a garment worker makes 22 cents an hour. The wage in Cambodia is 33 cents an hour; in Pakistan, 37 cents an hour; in Vietnam, 38 cents; in Sri Lanka, 43 cents; Indonesia, 44 cents; India, 55 cents; the Philippines, $1.07; and Malaysia, $1.18. This is the globalized marketplace for labor in which we must compete. (Note that convicts at Federal Prison Industries make from 22 cents to $1.18 an hour.)

The president's State of the Union goal is doubling US exports in five years by pursuing a "more strategic and aggressive effort to open up new markets for our goods" and "send(ing) more products over seas" and "borrow(ing) less and produce(ing) more."

The National Labor Committee's (NLC) mission statement highlights the conditions we're likely to experience in an American workhouse nation. "Transnational corporations (TNCs) now roam the world to find the cheapest and most vulnerable workers. Because TNCs are unaccountable, a dehumanized global workforce is ruthlessly exploited, denied their civil liberties, a living wage, and the right to work in dignity in healthy safe environments."

This is the very definition of a "sweatshop," in which maximum profit is "sweated" out of each worker. This was a big part of the reason for the success of the Industrial Revolution.

Today "a sweatshop is a workplace that violates the law and workers are subject to: extreme exploitation, including the absence of a living wage or long hours; poor working conditions, such as health and safety hazards; arbitrary discipline, such as verbal or physical abuse; or fear and intimidation when they speak out, organize or attempt to form a union." - Sweatshop Watch

The US Department of Labor says a sweatshop is "a place of employment that violates two or more federal or state labor laws governing wages and overtime, child labor, industrial homework, occupational safety and health, workers' compensation or industry regulation."

NLC notes that Wal-Mart, "with over $400 billion in sales and about 2.1 million employees...is the world’s largest retailer and private employer." Under Wal-Mart’s “Open Availability” policy, all "associates" must be available 24/7. This puts its "associates" in a position in which they are forced to put Wal-Mart ahead of their families.

At Wal-Mart, "associates" have to ask for a day off four weeks in advance. There are no emergencies. And since "associates" get demerits for any absences - no matter what the reason - this encourages them to go to work sick - even food-handlers. "Associates" are not told how many demerits they've racked up 'til "D-Day" comes. On “Decision Day" "associates" have to "write an essay on why they like working at Wal-Mart, why they should keep their job, and how they’ll improve their future performance." Based on this essay, they’re kept on or fired. If they keep their jobs, they're put on a year's probation and can be fired for the slightest infraction.

Half of Wal-Mart's "associates" get no health insurance, and those who do pay much of the cost and get very little for it. When "associates" opt out, or decline these magnanimous "benefits," Wal-Mart saves the money it doesn't have to pay in wages. Half of Wal-Mart's American "associates" make so little money they need Food Stamps in order to feed their families. That makes taxpayers liable for the portion of their "associates'" wages that Wal-Mart refuses to pay.

Overall, Wal-Mart's "associates" are "overworked, underpaid, (many below the federal poverty line), denied benefits, discriminated against, punished for the slightest infraction, and treated like" property.

And this is what's going on in America now.

Let's look into our future at work under globalized wages and working conditions. Let's take a look at China. Jason Chen reported that "Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Lenovo, and HP keyboards were likely were made under horrific working conditions at a Meitai Dongguan City, China factory" where workers are forbidden to talk, raise their heads, or put their hands in their pockets. They lose 3 day's pay for leaving their work stations without permission. They’re fined if they're a minute late. They get searched when they come to and leave work. And if they hand out flyers or discuss working conditions with outsiders, they're fired.

The assembly line never stops. Workers who need to go to the bathroom have to wait for a scheduled break. Taking Sunday off costs them two and a half days’ pay. They average up to 81 hours a week, including 34 hours of overtime, 318% over China’s legal limit. Their base pay is 64 cents an hour, and after deductions for room and board (and in our case, that would include health insurance), their take-home pay amounts to 41 cents an hour. And they're often cheated out of as much as 19% of it.

They lose two hours pay for “not lining up correctly while punching time cards or at the cafeteria", for not working “diligently,” and for putting personal possessions on their work desks. They also face a loss of two hours pay for “not parking bicycles according to company regulations, riding them at the facility not according to company rules, and returning to dorms after curfew."

They lose seven hours pay for switching dorm beds without permission, and one and a half day’s pay for getting to work over an hour late, "riding the elevator without permission, using dorm electricity without permission, using company phones for personal calls, producing low quality products, socializing with other employees during working hours, entering or leaving the factory without being inspected, or treating supervisors 'with an arrogant attitude.'"

But perhaps that's the pot calling the kettle black. China's "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009" found documentation on 5,057 workplace deaths in the US in 2007, the last year for which figures are available. That's 17 of us - every day! And "Not one employer was criminally charged for any of these deaths." The report also found child hunger combined with "rampant child labor in agriculture: some 400,000 child farm workers pick America's crops. The US also leads the world in imprisoning children and juveniles..." (emphasis added)

Now let's look further into our future as a globalized work force. Let's look at the Kabir Steel Yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

In September 2009, NLC reported that Kabir Steel Yard was “Where Ships and Workers Go To Die." NLC Executive Director Charles Kernaghan subtitled the report “If There Is a Hell on Earth, This Is It,” calling the Kabir site “one of the strangest, most striking and frightening (ones) in the world.”

"About 30,000 workers dismantle decommissioned," 25 million-pound "tanker ships - 20 stories high, up to 1,000 feet long and from 95 to 164 feet wide - 12 hours a day, seven days a week for 22-32 cents an hour while 'handling and breathing in dangerous toxic waste with no safeguards whatsoever and under conditions that violate every local and international labor law.' Workers use hammers to break up 15,000 pounds of asbestos in each ship, then dump it on the sand to wash away."

Last September, one "worker was burned to death while breaking apart a South Korean tanker," and another was left in critical condition. "Three more were seriously burned when their blowtorches struck a gas tank that exploded..." Workers are "often paralyzed or crushed to death by falling metal plates."

On average, each ship, in addition to "15,000 pounds of asbestos, contains 10 to 100 tons of lead paint. As a result, workers are exposed to toxins from asbestos, lead, PCBs, mercury, arsenic, dioxins, cadmium, solvents, black oil residues and carcinogenic fumes from melting metal and lead paint."

"Helpers, often children, go barefoot or wear flip flops, use hammers to break apart asbestos, then shovel it into bags to dump in the sand." There's no basic protective gear. "Cutters using blowtorches wear sunglasses, not protective goggles; baseball caps, not hardhats; dirty bandanas around their noses and mouths, not respiratory masks; and two sets of shirts, not welders’ vests..." "They often work on 'floating stairs,' bamboo rope ladders. They hang on with one hand and operate a blowtorch with the other and use their teeth to turn liquid gas and oxygen valves on and off."

Note that "a UNICOR operation in California that 'de-manufactures' computer cathode-type monitors neglected the industry standard practice of using a crushing machine to minimize the danger of flying glass. This uses an isolated air system that also avoids releasing lead, barium, and phosphor compounds into the air workers breathe. At this UNICOR operation, convicts smashed CRTs with hammers."

In February of this year, at least 21 workers were killed and about 30 others injured in a fire inside the Garib and Garib Sweater Factory at Gazipur, Bangladesh. An electrical short-circuit probably caused the fire, but, as in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, locked exits were the main reason for the deaths. The fire broke out on the first floor about 9:30 pm and spread quickly to other floors, trapping workers. It took two hours for fire fighters and 11 fire engines to bring it under control. Most of the deaths appeared to have been from smoke inhalation.

Abdur Rashid, the officer-in-charge of Joydevpur police station, said “Most of the workers died from suffocation in the blaze as they were locked into the factory room on completion of their night duty.” Fire officials said fire prevention equipment at the factory was “virtually useless” and the building was poorly ventilated. In addition to illegal structures in the factory, lack of emergency lighting made it impossible for workers to escape. And the workers did not know how to operate the fire extinguishers. (emphasis added)

Garib and Garib, which produced sweaters for Swedish fashion chain H&M, as well as clothing for Wal-Mart and JC Penny, is just one of 4,000 textile producers in Bangladesh. And this fire wasn't the first. Factory fires and collapses are commonplace in Bangladesh. Since 1990, at least 240 people have died in garment factory fires. One fire killed 54 workers and injured over a 100, but there's still widespread violation of safety regulations and a lack of properly maintained fire equipment, fire exits, emergency lighting and fire drills.

This is the predictable result of the drive for profit, since Bangladesh depends so heavily on its garment industry, which brings in about $10 billion in exports every year and employs about two million workers, mostly women. Bangladesh is now the world’s second largest apparel producer.

When the Multi-Fiber Agreement, which had allocated quotas to individual countries, ended in January 2005, Bangladesh faced competition from China and India. As a result the government has been preoccupied with keeping garment industry profits high by keeping costs low — meaning wages and working conditions.

"NLC calls the world 'a desperate place for the poor.'" Global trade rules won’t protect them. They have to keep jobs they know will harm or kill them. They have no choice. They have to support their families. Globalization is not the engine of prosperity and wealth for people everywhere - just for the "opulent minority." Globalization is a major cause of inequality and unemployment. It's actually a worldwide version of capitalism's basic mechanism, the exploitation of labor via the appropriation of "surplus" value, with globalization prompting a race to the bottom for profits. And this is the abyss into which we're headed.

But "...any human institution that requires the dehumanization of human beings to function...is by its very nature immoral, even if it is not illegal. To intentionally treat another human being as a thing, as something less than human; to degrade ourselves as human beings by surrendering our conscience, our reason, our dignity, or our self worth for some temporary advantage; are crimes against the inherent value of all members of mankind." And crimes against life itself.

However, today "Greed, for want of a better word, is good."

The Lust After Money has finally been freed from the chains of religion, morality, ethics, empathy and all sense of shame. Ancient ingrained inhibitions, warnings, and taboos against greed and acquisition have been erased, and sociopathic, genocidal self-interest elevated to a sacrament.

The fire of unbridled and insatiable gluttony on the part of the "opulent minority" for money and power is fueled by the accelerant of the ease of accumulation of unearned gain via the corporate mechanism of unaccountable appropriation of the real wealth of society - which is produced only by the majority of their laboring brothers, who are sacrificed, and who sacrifice themselves, to the corporation, an inhuman idol-mechanism for accumulating wealth, that is translated into political power to accumulate even more wealth. In its single-minded transformation of living resources into dead profit, it uses us as its means.

To accelerate this transformation, the "opulent minority" had exported the very means they engineered to keep us alive to serve them - our jobs - because they thought they didn't need us any longer, that they could cut out the middle man - labor - between them and money. But in the depths of the engineered economic "crisis," which they instigated to transfer even more of the wealth the people create to themselves, the "opulent minority" has discovered that they do have use for us after all.

And in order to re-establish the global imperial reach the "opulent minority" once comfortably enjoyed, the US method of self-enrichment via the mechanism of corporate economic colonization is now cannibalizing its own, and so Cain is once again killing Abel - and all for a few dollars more on top a pile that reaches to the heavens and stinks in the nostrils of whatever gods there may be. The Earth itself is preparing to cleanse the celestial airs of this stench, and on the petard of our own creation - climate decimation - hoist us into history.

America is once more the designated economic colony du jour. When King George III and the British East India Company instituted such economic oppression there was a revolution. Will we distinguish ourselves and honor that memory, file obediently into the KBR workhouses, or follow the mis-directed, free-floating anger of the Tea Partiers into fascism?

    "The illusion of freedom will continue for as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, pull back the curtains, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater." - Frank Zappa

    "The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it." - Edward Dowling

    "All experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." - The Declaration of Independence

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"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

worcesteradam

  • Guest
Fact is the banking system couldn't exist without government regulations

if i tried to do what they do, create money out of thin air, lend out more money than exists, or than i actually have,
i would go to jail. Counterfeiting, fraud or something. But they'd get me.

I am in the subservient position because i have to go to the bank and ask permission from them for the money to be created. They are in the dominant position. They are also in the predatory position because they get to charge interest on that money.

banks can do it because the government allows it if they are registered.
Its got nothing to do with freedom
Keep falling for the blaming freedom ruse and we go backwards not forwards.

The elected officials are all fat, spineless, corrupt and liars. They got where they are by sucking up and thats what theyll continue to do.
But at the same time theyll tell you how hard they work and how much they care about poor people and how much theyll sacrifice and deserve their office. Thats the BS for public consumption, they all know its a game. The left have made it an election tactic to smear their competitors and say they care about the poor, but in power they are just as lazy as the right.
Which makes them doubly disgusting

The ONLY decent one is coincidentally the ONLY Libertarian. He really has sacrificed and does believe in what he says. He says the same thing on TV as he says in power, and in private.
He is the only one fighting to give people the representation they demand. None of the others will say a word about how they dont even get to read the bills they vote on, even if they cared enough to want to.

Offline Geolibertarian

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Fact is the banking system couldn't exist without government regulations

On the other hand, the financial meltdown-inducing quadrillion-dollar derivatives bubble could never have existed without the repeal of a particular government "regulation" -- namely the Glass-Steagall Act:

       http://www.counterpunch.org/kaufman09192008.html
       http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10588

Hence the consistent reluctance of Austrian School commentators to even mention the word "derivatives" -- preferring instead to focus on the comparatively miniscule "housing" bubble.

See what happens when ideologues try to oversimplify reality so that they don't have to think as much? We wind up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Quote
if i tried to do what they do, create money out of thin air, lend out more money than exists, or than i actually have, i would go to jail. Counterfeiting, fraud or something. But they'd get me.

I am in the subservient position because i have to go to the bank and ask permission from them for the money to be created. They are in the dominant position. They are also in the predatory position because they get to charge interest on that money.

And that, of course, is precisely why elite bankers have always been vehemently opposed to debt-free Greenbacks:

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bi2gOhvpOHg (The Money Masters - part 9 of 22)

Thanks for making my case for me.

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Its got nothing to do with freedom

As I've already explained both here and elsewhere, neither does the economic snake-oil peddled by the Austrian School.

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Keep falling for the blaming freedom ruse and we go backwards not forwards.

Keep falling for the Austrian School's aristocratic concept of "freedom," and you'll continue to fall hook, line and sinker for one ridiculously false solution after another.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

worcesteradam

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Federal government is a parasite sucking wealth out of America and out of Europe. Its a vehicle for taking money from individuals and giving it to the military industrial complex.

The best way to help people is to destroy the power of the federal government, not increase it under fraudulent pretenses.

At least move it to the west coast, to keep it as far away from wall st. as possible

Offline Geolibertarian

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Although I do not share either her one-sided view of the Founders or her apparent preference for pure democracy over constitutional republicanism, I nevertheless agree with much of what Vi Ransel has to say in the following article -- particularly her assessment of the Gilded Age (which is certain to make Austrian School ideologues cringe) and her point about how “slavery” -- despite being officially abolished in the 19th century -- was never truly eliminated, but simply transformed into more sophisticated, less obvious guises, and how it thrives to this day.

I think the following is as relevant and insightful now as when originally written in 1883:

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

"That a people can be enslaved just as effectually by making property of their lands as by making property of their bodies, is a truth that conquerors in all ages have recognized, and that, as society developed, the strong and unscrupulous who desired to live off the labor of others, have been prompt to use. The coarser form of slavery, in which each particular slave is the property of a particular owner, is fitted only for a rude state of society, and with social development entails more and more care, trouble and expense upon the owner. But by making property of land instead of the person, much care, supervision and expense are saved the proprietors; and though no particular slave is owned by a particular master, yet the one class still appropriates the labor of the other class as before.

"That each particular slave should be owned by a particular master would in fact become, as social development went on, and industrial organization grew complex, a manifest disadvantage to the masters. They would be at the trouble of whipping, or otherwise compelling the slaves to work; at the cost of watching them, and of keeping them when ill or unproductive; at the trouble of finding work for them to do, or of hiring them out, as at different seasons or at different times, the number of slaves which different owners or different contractors could advantageously employ would vary. As social development went on, these inconveniences might, were there no other way of obviating them, have led slave owners to adopt such device for the joint ownership and management of slaves, as the mutual convenience of capitalists has led to in the management of capital. In a rude state of society, the man who wants to have money ready for use must hoard it, or, if he travels, carry it with him. The man who has capital must use it himself, or lend it. But mutual convenience has, as society developed, suggested methods of saving this trouble. The man who wishes to have his money accessible turns it over to a bank, which does not agree to keep or hand him back that particular money, but money to that amount. And so by turning over his capital to savings-banks or trust companies, or by buying the stock or bonds of corporations, he gets rid of all trouble of handling and employing it. Had chattel slavery continued, some similar device for the ownership and management of slaves would in time have been adopted. But by changing the form of slavery--by freeing men and appropriating land--all the advantages of chattel slavery can be secured without any of the disadvantages which in a complex society attend the owning of a particular man by a particular master.

"Unable to employ themselves, the nominally free laborers are forced by their competition with each other to pay as rent all their earnings above a bare living, or to sell their labor for wages which give but a bare living; and as landowners the ex-slaveholders are enabled as before, to appropriate to themselves the labor or the produce of the labor of their former chattels....They no longer have to drive their slaves to work; want and the fear of want do that more effectually than the lash. They no longer have the trouble of looking out for their employment of hiring out their labor, or the expense of keeping them when they cannot work. That is thrown upon the slaves. The tribute that they still wring from labor seems like voluntary payment. In fact, they take it as their honest share of the rewards of production--since they furnish the land! And they find so-called political economists, to say nothing of so-called preachers of Christianity, to tell them it is so....

"But it may be said that the analogy between our industrial system and chattel slavery is only supported by the consideration of extremes. Between those who get but a bare living and those who can live luxuriously on the earnings of others, are many gradations, and here lies the great middle class. Between all classes, moreover, a constant movement of individuals is going on. The millionaire's grandchildren may be tramps, while even the poor man who has lost hope for himself may cherish it for his son. Moreover, it is not true that all the difference between what labor fairly earns and what labor really gets goes to the owners of land. And with us, in the United States, a great many of the owners of land are small owners--men who own the homesteads in which they live or the soil they till, and who combine the characters of laborer and landowner.

"These objections will be best met by endeavoring to imagine a well-developed society, like our own, in which chattel slavery exists without distinction of race....

"[In such a society] the indolence, interest and necessity of the masters would soon develop a class of intermediaries between the completely enslaved and themselves. To supervise the labor of the slaves, and to keep them in subjection, it would be necessary to take, from the ranks of the slaves, overseers, policeman, etc., and to reward them by more of the produce of slave labor than goes to the ordinary slave. So, too, would it be necessary to draw out special skill and talent. And in the course of social development a class of traders would necessarily arise, who, exchanging the products of slave labor, would retain a considerable portion; and a class of contractors, who, hiring slave labor from the masters, would also retain a portion of its produce. Thus, between the slaves forced to work for a bare living and the masters who lived without work, intermediaries of various grades would be developed, some of whom would doubtless acquire large wealth....

"And, as has always happened where slavery had not race character, some of these ex-slaves or their children would, in the constant movement, be always working their way to the highest places, so that in such a state of society the apologists of things as they are would triumphantly point to these examples, saying, 'See how beautiful a thing is slavery! Any slave can become a slaveholder himself if he is only faithful, industrious and prudent! It is only their own ignorance and dissipation and laziness that prevent all slaves from becoming masters!' And then they would indulge in a moan for human nature. 'Alas!' they would say, 'the fault is not in slavery; it is in human nature' -- meaning, of course, other human nature than their own. And if any one hinted at the abolition of slavery, they would charge him with assailing the sacred rights of property, and of endeavoring to rob poor blind widow women of the slaves that were their sole dependence; call him a crank and a communist; an enemy of man and a defier of God!....

"It must be remembered, however, that the slavery that results from the appropriation of land does not come suddenly, but insidiously and progressively. Where population is sparse and land of little value, the institution of private property in land may exist without its effects being much felt. As it becomes more and more difficult to get land, so will the virtual enslavement of the laboring-classes go on. As the value of the bare land rises, more and more of the earnings of labor will be demanded for the use of land, until finally nothing is left to laborers but the wages of slavery--a bare living.

"But the degree as well as the manner in which individuals are affected by this movement must vary very much. Where the ownership of land has been much diffused, there will remain, for some time after the mere laborer has been reduced to the wages of slavery, a greater body of smaller landowners occupying an intermediate position, and who, according to the land they hold, and the relation which it bears to their labor, may, to make a comparison with chattel slavery, be compared, in their gradations, to the owners of a few slaves; to those who own no slaves but are themselves free; or to partial slaves, compelled to render service for one, two, three, four or five days in the week, but for the rest of the time their own masters." [Continued...]
 
-- Henry George, Social Problems, pp. 150-156

-------------------------------------
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline freedom_commonsense

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you support a land value tax?

Regarding the poor and rent-seeking, I agree, it's pretty much every ordinary person's biggest expense. The irony I've noticed is that people supporting welfare to "help the poor" are often the same people that allow rampant property speculation\the current parasitical monetary system.

Offline CaptBebops

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I have some problem with the idea of "working hard".  In the 1990s were coined the phrase "work smarter not harder."  I think that is a better notion.   And if you divvy up the available jobs among the population you might just wind up a 10 hour work week for everybody (similar to India when I visited there).   Of course people will say they wouldn't make enough money to survive in "this" economy.  That is the problem as "this" economy is quite artificial and has been built over the last 30 or so years on credit.  The best solution is to wipe the blackboard and start over again.  That is kind of what Gerald Celente suggests we're headed for.

Offline freedom_commonsense

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I have some problem with the idea of "working hard".  In the 1990s were coined the phrase "work smarter not harder."  I think that is a better notion.   And if you divvy up the available jobs among the population you might just wind up a 10 hour work week for everybody (similar to India when I visited there).   Of course people will say they wouldn't make enough money to survive in "this" economy.  That is the problem as "this" economy is quite artificial and has been built over the last 30 or so years on credit.  The best solution is to wipe the blackboard and start over again.  That is kind of what Gerald Celente suggests we're headed for.

Sadly one of the emerging fields I've worked in is full of occupational licensing (albeit not of the government mandated kind) and a lot of middlemen that muddy the waters. The problem is that a few vendors have created a near-monopoly in crucial areas of this industry so their licences (aka certifications) have become pretty much essential if you are to be taken seriously. Regardless of whether you offer your services as an employee or independently.

Offline Geolibertarian

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you support a land value tax?

Yes, and only that tax:

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=160421.0

Quote
Regarding the poor and rent-seeking, I agree, it's pretty much every ordinary person's biggest expense. The irony I've noticed is that people supporting welfare to "help the poor" are often the same people that allow rampant property speculation\the current parasitical monetary system.

Indeed they are. That's why they're called "poverty pimps."

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=163559.0
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline freedom_commonsense

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Yes, and only that tax:

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=160421.0

Indeed they are. That's why they're called "poverty pimps."

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=163559.0

So what happens if the landowners refuse to pay up, and what does a legitimate government use the income for?

I also haven't seen any explanation of how this would work in the United Kingdom with its much higher population density on a small island.

Offline Geolibertarian

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So what happens if the landowners refuse to pay up, and what does a legitimate government use the income for?

I also haven't seen any explanation of how this would work in the United Kingdom with its much higher population density on a small island.

That was precisely why, in my last post, I linked to the thread to which I devoted that topic.

Here it is again:

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=160421.0
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline freedom_commonsense

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That was precisely why, in my last post, I linked to the thread to which I devoted that topic.

Here it is again:

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=160421.0

I read that, but it doesn't answer my specific question about what you think legitimate functions of government are. We can't really work on abstractions...obviously the current level is too high and it needs to be scaled back but by how much exactly?

Offline Geolibertarian

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I read that, but it doesn't answer my specific question about what you think legitimate functions of government are.

Actually, yes it does, so you apparently didn't read it very carefully.

Quote
We can't really work on abstractions...obviously the current level is too high and it needs to be scaled back but by how much exactly?

Have you read the following thread of mine?

       http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=162212.0

If not, please do so. If you still have questions afterwards concerning my views on the legitimate functions of government, then please post them either in that thread or in my thread on land value taxation, not this one.

Thanks.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline Geolibertarian

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Although I do not share either her one-sided view of the Founders or her apparent preference for pure democracy over constitutional republicanism, I nevertheless agree with much of what Vi Ransel has to say in the following article -- particularly her assessment of the Gilded Age (which is certain to make Austrian School ideologues cringe) and her point about how “slavery” -- despite being officially abolished in the 19th century -- was never truly eliminated, but simply transformed into more sophisticated, less obvious guises, and how it thrives to this day.

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

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-american-workplace-sweatshop-usa/18524

The American Workplace: Sweatshop USA
Workhouse Nation: Part Three

Preceding the above was Part Two of Ransel's "Workhouse Nation" report, from which the following key excerpt is lifted:

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

Robert Reich, Clinton's Labor Secretary, has posited that there's a "radical restructuring of the economy that is going on behind the scenes."  In other words, behind the people's backs.  "...people who lost their jobs were pushed into lower paying jobs..."  And those who had lower paying jobs were pushed out entirely, while bank, and other corporate profits, continue to escalate.  Corporations continue to consolidate, further concentrating power in the hands of their shareholders, as real property/wealth is distributed upward to the "opulent minority."  
 
And now all of us freeloading, entitlement-grasping working people on whom they not only depend, but whom they themselves have immiserated, must be made to pay for the "opulent minority's" good times via a present-day version of the Victorian workhouse.  
 
The Enclosure Acts in Britain forced people off the land they'd worked by right for centuries, fencing them out, driving them into the "great dim sheds" of the Industrial Revolution (1700-1800). Though Britain amassed natural and financial resources from its colonies and profits from its slave trade, this made up only 5% of Britain's national income during the Industrial Revolution.  Britain's dense population for its small size, and the Enclosure of common land created a readily available labor supply.  And it was through the Enclosure movement, in large part, that the peasantry was destroyed as a meaningful resistance and removed the obstacles to Britain's mandate of capitalism.
 
And while prior to the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648), it had been a Christian's duty to undertake the seven corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; welcome the stranger; clothe the naked; visit the sick; visit the prisoner; and bury the dead, after the Reformation, "outdated," other-directed values became inconvenient. Moral expectations and noblesse oblige disappeared and it became necessary to regulate poor relief by law.
 
The moral economy was replaced by a political economy in which the well-off had no moral obligation to help the ill, the aged, the widowed, the orphaned or the unemployed.  Such obligations were replaced with a cash payment which destroyed both the human link between the haves and the have-nots, as well as the right of the poor to claim relief in times of hardship, like illness, a hard winter or trade depressions.  And with the appearance of laissez-faire economic theory, poverty came to be seen as the result of self-chosen immorality, irresponsibility, or idleness, or an inherent weakness or inferiority - all of which were used to justify leaving the destitute to their destitution at the "invisible hand" of the "free" market.  
 
At approximately the same time, Thomas Malthus was expounding his theory that the relief of poverty itself created poverty.  In other words, those who could not work should, if necessary, starve rather than have government provide any kind of relief because it "distorted" the "free" market that determined the "natural" level of wages and prices.  The "law" of supply and demand had to be allowed to operate freely without acknowledging that the "free" market was often the cause of unemployment/idleness.  This "natural law" assumed that people would work for any wage offered rather than starve themselves and their families (which was exactly the point) and in order for wages to rise, the labor supply had to become scarce through starvation, disease and/or exposure to the elements.
 
There's a modern version of this theory at work today in South Carolina, where "Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has compared giving government assistance to 'feeding stray animals.'  'My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals.  You know why?  Because they breed.  You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply.'  'How do you fix it?  Well you say, look, if you receive goods or services from the government, then you owe something back.'  "We can't afford to keep just giving money away."  He said that government continues to reward bad behavior by giving money to people who 'don't have to do a thing.'
 
He failed to mention Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut for the disgustingly wealthy.  Nor did he touch on tax breaks, abatements and subsidies to our largest corporations.  He seems to have forgotten the more than $23 trillion allocated to the banks, no questions asked, or the onerous workfare obligations imposed on those who receive public assistance and the tax on unemployment benefits.
 
Britain's remedy for fixing the problem of giving money to people who "don't have to do a thing" was workhouses.  Workhouses had appeared in Britain in the 1600s as places for people to live and work when they couldn't support themselves. The unemployed, able-bodied poor could only get relief by going into these workhouses, even if trade depressions had caused their "idleness."  The work, like factory work, was continuous, boring, hard and degrading.  They crushed bones, broke stones and "picked" oakum, e.g. unbraided bits of used, tarry rope, the fibers of which were then used as caulk for sailing ships.  The workhouse, like workfare, was used as a deterrent.  And as they are for welfare, conditions were made as harsh and degrading as possible so only the truly desperate would apply to "the house."  And once poor parents entered a workhouse, they were held to have forfeited responsibility for their children, enabling landlords to take them as unpaid "apprentices" until they came of age, 18 for girls, 24 for boys.
 
At the same time, debtors could be locked up "until their families paid their debt.  Some debt prisoners were released into debt bondage to become indentured servants until they paid off their debt in labor." (emphasis added)
 
And in fact, two to three Europeans who came to the American colonies were debtors when they got here.  Some colonies, like Georgia, were supposed to be debtors' asylums.  In 1789, the Society for the Relief of Distressed Debtors determined that of 1,162 debtors in New York's debtors' prison in 1787 and 1788, over half, 716 of them, owed less than 20 shillings.  In 1831 imprisonment for debt was abolished in New York, and in 1841 Congress passed a law that offered bankruptcy to everyone.  Debtors' prisons all over America were finally abolished and bankruptcy laws liberalized as Americans realized that most people do not fall into debt of their own choosing - or as a result divine retribution.  
 
But in 2009 in Georgia, people who couldn't pay their fines - plus the monthly fee to the private corporation that collects the payments - were often sent to jail, according to Stephen Bright, President of the Southern Center for Human Rights.  And in 2006, the center sued on behalf of a woman locked up for eight months in Atlanta because she couldn't pay a $705 fine.  And until a few years ago in Gulfport, Mississippi, defendants who couldn't pay their fines were put in jail 'til they "sat off" their fines.
 
Barbara Ehrenreich points out that while debtors' prisons no longer exist, a creditor can petition a court to issue a summons for nonpayment of a bill.  If you fail to appear you're in contempt of court, which lands you in jail - where you can run up more debt.  An increasing number of prison systems charge their inmates for room and board.  Taney County, Missouri charges $45 a day, Springfield, Oregon charges $60, and New Jersey is considering a $10-15 day fee. Nobody knows what happens if an inmate can't pay.  More time in jail to "sit it off?"
 
Prisoners' rights advocates worry that as government budgets come increasingly under pressure, courts and prisons will get even tougher about forcing indigent defendants to pay cost and fees, and will imprison more of them if they can't come up with the money, in effect imprisoning them for poverty.
 
In America prior to the 1930s and Social Security, destitute elderly poor people went to the poorhouse, or workhouse.  Such "houses" were widespread in America.  Poorhouses were often on "poor farms," where any able-bodied residents were made to work.  These could be part of the same economic complex as a prison farm, and most produced at least some of the produce, grain and livestock they consumed, like serfs working on a medieval manor, or Victorian residents of a workhouse.  "Residents" (inmates) were expected to provide labor to the extent that their health would allow, in the fields as well as providing housekeeping and care for other residents.  Rules were strict and accommodations minimal.

Now the "opulent minority" is instituting another set of Enclosure Acts.  This time, rather than fencing us out, they've built a fence to keep us in.  The wage slave system wasn't escape-proof enough, so we've been enclosed within a fence of debt from which there is no escape.  To that end wages will be halved - again.  Foreclosures strictly carried out.  Insurance for health, like that for cars, will be mandatory.  Unions have already been neutralized, reduced to shells of their former selves.  Free speech is relegated to zones behind barbed wire fences policed by minions of mammon armed with gas, guns and tasers.  And now that Obama's healthcare "reform" has become law, the workhouses of Victorian England will pale by comparison with the "great dim sheds" of our new plantation-poor farms constructed by Halliburton.

-------------------------------------
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

Offline citizenx

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Most of the increases in productivity (around 80%) have come from technology which has replaced workers.  So, it has benefited the elite only who have gained from it, while the average working person has become more and more alienated and unnecessary to the elite (to the tune of at least 80%).

I am not necessarily a Luddite myself, but this is reality.  Technology needs to be made to serve all people, not just the elite.  I am not necessarily for "redistribution" schemes either as these only tend to increase control over resources by an elite.  Some sort of break-up of the larger concerns seems a good idea, a new era of "trust-busting" with some real punch.  That might me a good place to start, but large fortunes that have been entirely built on criminal scemes need to be taken out/down and exploited people and institutions compensated in some way. I think most of this can be done with existing law, really, if institutions enforced civil law in our country.

Unfortunately, things are ging the wrong way and the elite are getting ready to do without the vast majority of the world's workers  - period.

worcesteradam

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the debt based economy is a huge issue

by far the biggest challenge is too fix it, because its a giant ponzi scheme that the bankers can implode whenever they want

worcesteradam

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and cancel all the false debt

it needs to be done slowly and carefully
takes time
government need to go in there and take over all the banks. throw the financiers into the street and then manage the transition.
long difficult work

Offline Geolibertarian

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http://ehrenreich.blogs.com/barbaras_blog/2009/06/too-poor-to-make-the-news.html

Too Poor to Make the News

by Barbara Ehrenreich
June 15, 2009

The human side of the recession, in the new media genre that's been called "recession porn," is the story of an incremental descent from excess to frugality, from ease to austerity. The super-rich give up their personal jets; the upper middle class cut back on private Pilates classes; the merely middle class forgo vacations and evenings at Applebee's. In some accounts, the recession is even described as the "great leveler," smudging the dizzying levels of inequality that characterized the last couple of decades and squeezing everyone into a single great class, the Nouveau Poor, in which we will all drive tiny fuel-efficient cars and grow tomatoes on our porches.

But the outlook is not so cozy when we look at the effects of the recession on a group generally omitted from all the vivid narratives of downward mobility - the already poor, the estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of the population who struggle to get by in the best of times. This demographic, the working poor, have already been living in an economic depression of their own. From their point of view "the economy," as a shared condition, is a fiction.

This spring, I tracked down a couple of the people I had met while working on my 2001 book, "Nickel and Dimed," in which I worked in low-wage jobs like waitressing and housecleaning, and I found them no more gripped by the recession than by "American Idol"; things were pretty much "same old." The woman I called Melissa in the book was still working at Wal-Mart, though in nine years, her wages had risen to $10 an hour from $7. "Caroline," who is increasingly disabled by diabetes and heart disease, now lives with a grown son and subsists on occasional cleaning and catering jobs. We chatted about grandchildren and church, without any mention of exceptional hardship.

As with Denise Smith, whom I recently met through the Virginia Organizing Project and whose bachelor's degree in history qualifies her for seasonal $10-an-hour work at a tourist site, the recession is largely an abstraction. "We were poor," Ms. Smith told me cheerfully, "and we're still poor."

But then, at least if you inhabit a large, multiclass extended family like my own, there comes that e-mail message with the subject line "Need your help," and you realize that bad is often just the stage before worse. The note was from one of my nephews, and it reported that his mother-in-law, Peg, was, like several million other Americans, about to lose her home to foreclosure.

It was the back story that got to me: Peg, who is 55 and lives in rural Missouri, had been working three part-time jobs to support her disabled daughter and two grandchildren, who had moved in with her. Then, last winter, she had a heart attack, missed work and fell behind in her mortgage payments. If I couldn't help, all four would have to move into the cramped apartment in Minneapolis already occupied by my nephew and his wife.

Only after I'd sent the money did I learn that the mortgage was not a subprime one and the home was not a house but a dilapidated single-wide trailer that, as a "used vehicle," commands a 12-percent mortgage interest rate. You could argue, without any shortage of compassion, that "Low-Wage Worker Loses Job, Home" is nobody's idea of news.

In late May I traveled to Los Angeles - where the real unemployment rate, including underemployed people and those who have given up on looking for a job, is estimated at 20 percent - to meet with a half-dozen community organizers. They are members of a profession, derided last summer by Sarah Palin, that helps low-income people renegotiate mortgages, deal with eviction when their landlords are foreclosed and, when necessary, organize to confront landlords and bosses.

The question I put to this rainbow group was: "Has the recession made a significant difference in the low-income communities where you work, or are things pretty much the same?" My informants - from Koreatown, South Central, Maywood, Artesia and the area around Skid Row - took pains to explain that things were already bad before the recession, and in ways that are disconnected from the larger economy. One of them told me, for example, that the boom of the '90s and early 2000s had been "basically devastating" for the urban poor. Rents skyrocketed; public housing disappeared to make way for gentrification.

But yes, the recession has made things palpably worse, largely because of job losses. With no paychecks coming in, people fall behind on their rent and, since there can be as long as a six-year wait for federal housing subsidies, they often have no alternative but to move in with relatives. "People are calling me all the time," said Preeti Sharma of the South Asian Network, "They think I have some sort of magic."

The organizers even expressed a certain impatience with the Nouveau Poor, once I introduced the phrase. If there's a symbol for the recession in Los Angeles, Davin Corona of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy said, it's "the policeman facing foreclosure in the suburbs." The already poor, he said - the undocumented immigrants, the sweatshop workers, the janitors, maids and security guards - had all but "disappeared" from both the news media and public policy discussions.

Disappearing with them is what may be the most distinctive and compelling story of this recession. When I got back home, I started calling up experts, like Sharon Parrott, a policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who told me, "There's rising unemployment among all demographic groups, but vastly more among the so-called unskilled."

How much more? Larry Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, offers data showing that blue-collar unemployment is increasing three times as fast as white-collar unemployment. The last two recessions - in the early '90s and in 2001 - produced mass white-collar layoffs, and while the current one has seen plenty of downsized real-estate agents and financial analysts, the brunt is being borne by the blue-collar working class, which has been sliding downward since deindustrialization began in the '80s.

When I called food banks and homeless shelters around the country, most staff members and directors seemed poised to offer press-pleasing tales of formerly middle-class families brought low. But some, like Toni Muhammad at Gateway Homeless Services in St. Louis, admitted that mostly they see "the long-term poor," who become even poorer when they lose the kind of low-wage jobs that had been so easy for me to find from 1998 to 2000. As Candy Hill, a vice president of Catholic Charities U.S.A., put it, "All the focus is on the middle class - on Wall Street and Main Street - but it's the people on the back streets who are really suffering."

What are the stations between poverty and destitution? Like the Nouveau Poor, the already poor descend through a series of deprivations, though these are less likely to involve forgone vacations than missed meals and medications. The Times reported earlier this month that one-third of Americans can no longer afford to comply with their prescriptions.

There are other, less life-threatening, ways to try to make ends meet. The Associated Press has reported that more women from all social classes are resorting to stripping, although "gentlemen's clubs," too, have been hard-hit by the recession. The rural poor are turning increasingly to "food auctions," which offer items that may be past their sell-by dates.

And for those who like their meat fresh, there's the option of urban hunting. In Racine, Wis., a 51-year-old laid-off mechanic told me he's supplementing his diet by "shooting squirrels and rabbits and eating them stewed, baked and grilled." In Detroit, where the wildlife population has mounted as the human population ebbs, a retired truck driver is doing a brisk business in raccoon carcasses, which he recommends marinating with vinegar and spices.

The most common coping strategy, though, is simply to increase the number of paying people per square foot of dwelling space - by doubling up or renting to couch-surfers. It's hard to get firm numbers on overcrowding, because no one likes to acknowledge it to census-takers, journalists or anyone else who might be remotely connected to the authorities. At the legal level, this includes Peg taking in her daughter and two grandchildren in a trailer with barely room for two, or my nephew and his wife preparing to squeeze all four of them into what is essentially a one-bedroom apartment. But stories of Dickensian living arrangements abound.

In Los Angeles, Prof. Peter Dreier, a housing policy expert at Occidental College, says that "people who've lost their jobs, or at least their second jobs, cope by doubling or tripling up in overcrowded apartments, or by paying 50 or 60 or even 70 percent of their incomes in rent." Thelmy Perez, an organizer with Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, is trying to help an elderly couple who could no longer afford the $600 a month rent on their two-bedroom apartment, so they took in six unrelated subtenants and are now facing eviction. According to a community organizer in my own city, Alexandria, Va., the standard apartment in a complex occupied largely by day laborers contains two bedrooms, each housing a family of up to five people, plus an additional person laying claim to the couch.

Overcrowding - rural, suburban and urban - renders the mounting numbers of the poor invisible, especially when the perpetrators have no telltale cars to park on the street. But if this is sometimes a crime against zoning laws, it's not exactly a victimless one. At best, it leads to interrupted sleep and long waits for the bathroom; at worst, to explosions of violence. Catholic Charities is reporting a spike in domestic violence in many parts of the country, which Candy Hill attributes to the combination of unemployment and overcrowding.

And doubling up is seldom a stable solution. According to Toni Muhammad, about 70 percent of the people seeking emergency shelter in St. Louis report they had been living with relatives "but the place was too small." When I asked Peg what it was like to share her trailer with her daughter's family, she said bleakly, "I just stay in my bedroom."

The deprivations of the formerly affluent Nouveau Poor are real enough, but the situation of the already poor suggests that they do not necessarily presage a greener, more harmonious future with a flatter distribution of wealth. There are no data yet on the effects of the recession on measures of inequality, but historically the effect of downturns is to increase, not decrease, class polarization.

The recession of the '80s transformed the working class into the working poor, as manufacturing jobs fled to the third world, forcing American workers into the low-paying service and retail sector. The current recession is knocking the working poor down another notch - from low-wage employment and inadequate housing toward erratic employment and no housing at all. Comfortable people have long imagined that American poverty is far more luxurious than the third world variety, but the difference is rapidly narrowing.

Maybe "the economy," as depicted on CNBC, will revive again, restoring the kinds of jobs that sustained the working poor, however inadequately, before the recession. Chances are, though, that they still won't pay enough to live on, at least not at any level of safety and dignity. In fact, hourly wage growth, which had been running at about 4 percent a year, has undergone what the Economic Policy Institute calls a "dramatic collapse" in the last six months alone. In good times and grim ones, the misery at the bottom just keeps piling up, like a bad debt that will eventually come due.

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

Note: the above article by Barbara Ehrenreich was written almost a year ago. Imagine how much worse things are going to be this summer?
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

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http://www.progress.org/2010/fold665.htm

How the Poor Vote themselves into Poverty

by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
The Progress Report
May 17, 2010

The poor we always have with us, because they vote themselves into poverty. It starts out with an aristocracy that owns the land and collects rent from the poor. The aristocracy can either be smart or stupid. If they are stupid, they keep repressing the rebellions of the poor until finally the army switches sides and the royalty gets overthrown by the revolution. That’s what happened with the French and Russian revolutions, and with the Shah of Iran.

However, no revolution has ever ended up helping the poor. A new aristocracy takes over, but this time they are smarter, as for example, they don’t call it "aristocracy." In the USSR, for example, the new aristocracy was the Communist Party "nomenklatura," but they called themselves the party of the workers.

If the aristocracy is smart, they avoid revolution by enlisting the middle class as allies. They sell some of their land to the bourgeoisie. They tax the income of the middle class, but then rebate their tax money with public goods that increase their rent and land value. This financial roundtrip causes a reduction of wealth, the deadweight loss or excess burden of taxation, but the bourgeoisie is happy, as they have enough money left for café latte.

To keep the poor from rebelling, the smart aristocrats hand out welfare. Welfare consists of economic rent handed back to the poor as services. The poor pay rent to the aristocracy for the use of dwelling space, and then the ruling class hands some of it back as schooling, medical services, housing assistance, and food coupons. "Look at how much we are helping you," say the aristocrats. "To keep getting your aid, you need to vote in favor of us rulers." So they do.

The poor pay little or no income tax, but they pay sales and excise taxes. The purpose of taxes on the sale of goods, and taxes on value added during production, is to force the poor to pay taxes. There is an even bigger tax on the poor, the deadweight loss of taxation, the reduction of income and growth caused by taxation, which falls hardest on the poor. The poor get taxed much more than the value of the aid they receive, but the schooling provided by government avoids any hint of this. That is why governments provide "public education" rather than vouchers that would let parents send their children to private schools where they just might learn the hidden economic reality.

But there is a problem with this arrangement. The middle class resists being taxed too much, as they see much of the money being routed to the poor and to wealthy rent seekers. To enlist the voting support of the poor and the middle class, the ruling aristocracy borrows money to spend on more welfare. The poor also support labor unions so that they can strike to get higher wages, and government workers then get unionized also. Labor unions in the private sector end up pricing themselves out of the market, but government workers can get big pensions and higher wages if the government borrows more money. Governments end up with huge budget deficits and unpayable debts.

That’s where we are now. On the vanguard of government debt are California and Greece, which resorted to accounting tricks to keep on borrowing, but that game is now checkmated. Unable to borrow, governments cut the welfare aid to the poor. They also try to cut some of the pensions and wages of workers. Outraged, the poor go into the streets and riot.

A little voice in the corner cries out, "untax labor, tap the rent, stop the subsidies," but that voice is drowned out by the yelling of the protestors who demand their welfare aid. The middle class does not want their rent tapped for public revenue, because they feel insecure in their jobs, and see their land value as their security. They don’t understand that in a pure free market, their untaxed labor and full employment would be better security. They say, "if this were true, we would have learned this in our government schooling."

Economists are trained in graduate school that there are only two factors, land and capital. What about land? That is part of capital. Why not tap the rent? Because it is only a tiny part of national income. Why do you think so? That is what the government reports say. Have you analyzed this? "If that were important, I would have learned this in graduate school."

Now the landed aristocracy is in deep trouble. California can’t borrow much more. Greece can still borrow from the International Monetary Fund and from the wealthier Europan countries, but only for a couple of years. The USA still has good credit, but it is doing nothing to reduce future deficits. The line of least political resistance is a default, softly in the form of a restructuring of the debt, or harshly as repudiation during a financial crisis.

The banks holding these failed bonds will get bailed out. They have to get rescued, because they loan out the money for the real estate purchases that prop up land values. But the debt crunch ends up hurting everybody, the rich, middle class, and the poor, when governments are no longer able to borrow.

We are now coming to an "end of history," of a century of government deficits that got the revenue to placate the poor. After the crunch, a new history will begin, but the price will have been paid as environmental damage, conflict, and the perpetuation of poverty. That’s what Henry George foresaw when he explained how perverse progress creates poverty.

Henry George also foresaw the rise of new barbarians. Who are they? Terrorists who have grievances, but have no clue as to the ultimate source of the injustice. The ultimate cause of the terrorist threat is injustice in land tenure, but they don’t teach that in school either.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

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Note: Although the author of the following article is clearly unaware of the fundamental difference between (a) the Austrian School version of "capitalism" and the "free market" which -- thanks to an elite-funded propaganda campaign -- largely dominates economic thought among conservatives and right-leaning libertarians, and (b) the sadly lesser known Georgist version, he nevertheless conveys a keenly accurate assesssment of the monstrous, dehumanizing, 19th century-style working conditions that plague countless millions of landless peasants throughout the Third World, and which the ruling class oligarchs who've hijacked our government are slowly and quietly reestablishing in the U.S. As you read, please bear in mind that these horrific conditions were one of the key defining characteristics of what Austrian Schoolers shamelessly and laughingly define as America's "golden era."

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

http://www.globalresearch.ca/sweatshop-manufacturing-engine-of-poverty/19193

Sweatshop Manufacturing: Engine of Poverty

by Gregory Elich



Global Research
May 16, 2010

On a global scale, the reign of free market ideology has wrought deep changes. Manufacturing jobs in the developed nations are rapidly shrinking while abroad there has been a rise in sweatshop manufacturing, with conditions reminiscent of the worst of the 19th century. The effect has been to widen the gulf between the living conditions of the wealthy and those who labor for them.

Inequality has reached such an astounding level that it requires an act of willful blindness on the part of Western media not to notice it. Over half of the world’s population subsists on less than $2 a day, while the 200 richest individuals own more wealth than 41 percent of the world’s population, or in other words, more than 2.6 billion people. Such an extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of the few cannot be construed as a failure of global capitalism. Indeed, it is a mark of its success, for this is what the system is designed to do. Nor can the mass immiseration on which the system rests be dismissed as an unfortunate mistake or an unintended byproduct of the process. Pillage is the very engine that drives the accumulation of riches.

It is abroad where the repercussions of triumphant capital are at their most troubling, especially in underdeveloped nations offering a pristine opportunity for unfettered exploitation. Even as the domestic workforce is being relentlessly driven into insecurity, the profits to be had from the exploitation of labor, markets and resources in the Third World are unsurpassed. Capitalism is a global system, and capital flows where it stands to reap the highest returns. It knows no boundaries.

Naked exploitation of labor is the hallmark of manufacturing jobs exported abroad. Giant corporations such as Wal-Mart constantly press suppliers to lower costs, causing plant managers to wring more production from already over-exploited workers. At a typical plant in Honduras, managers blame Wal-Mart’s continual demands for cheaper clothing for the need to drive their workers so hard. Isabel Reyes labors at this plant for ten hours a day, where she is expected to sew sleeves onto 1,200 shirts during a single shift, an average of one sleeve every 15 seconds. “There is always an acceleration,” she says. “The goals are always increasing, but the pay stays the same.” After eleven years at the plant, her Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has worsened to the point where she cannot lift a pot or hold her baby without first taking anti-inflammatory pills. In compensation for her toil, she earns about $35 a month.

U.S. corporations threaten to move production to countries with cheaper labor if demands for lower prices are not met. To meet that challenge, Honduran manufacturers slashed 20 percent of staff over a three-year period while maintaining the same level of production. Henry Fransen, director of the Honduran Apparel Manufacturers Association, remarked sardonically, “We’re earning less and producing more, following the Wal-Mart philosophy.” The Wal-Mart technique for purchasing fabrics is to approach a few plants in different countries and then pit them against each other. “We’ll be putting our global muscle on them,” gloated the head of the company’s global procurement division. Even in Bangladesh, with its abysmal labor conditions and rock-bottom production costs, Wal-Mart asked factory owners to lower prices by up to 50 percent. With over 10,000 suppliers worldwide, Wal-Mart is a trendsetter in the apparel industry.

The harsh reality is that employment in a sweatshop is akin to imprisonment. The Alejandro Apparel plant in Honduras is representative of sweatshops throughout the Third World, with its barbed-wire fence, locked gates and armed security guards. Situated in the Choloma Free Zone, the firm is exempt from all taxes, import and export duties and tariffs. An average worker at Alejandro Apparel earns a wage of 86 cents per hour and sews 230 T-shirts in a ten and a half hour shift. Thus, a worker earns just four cents per shirt, less than one percent of its retail price. This plant supplies several American corporations, including Nike, Adidas and Hanes. In contrast to the insignificant sum a worker is paid for actually producing a shirt, Nike spends over two dollars to advertise it. Keeping up with harsh production quotas is difficult, and workers take just ten minutes for lunch. Management monitors bathroom use and any worker regarded as taking too long is ordered over a loudspeaker to return to his or her workstation. Employees are forbidden to speak to one another and supervisors routinely scream at and berate workers.

The situation is very much the same at Southeast Textiles, also located in the Choloma Free Zone, except that here before workers can use the restroom they must first ask permission and present a toilet pass stamped by a supervisor. Workers caught drinking water “too often” are called into the office and given a warning, because such a practice can lead to the need for a restroom break. A second infraction brings swift punishment. At both plants, the relentless pace of production and unvarying routine produce repetitive strain injuries in a majority of workers.

Lydda Eli Gonzalez was one of 15 workers fired from Southeast Textiles for attempting to organize a union. Only because she had lost her job did she feel free to describe the working conditions there. Her job consisted of attaching sleeves to Sean John shirts. The quota set for a production line was to sew 2,288 shirts per shift; a goal intentionally set at an impossible level. The best that could be managed during a regular shift was half that amount, so workers were customarily required to work unpaid overtime in order to “compensate” management for the shortfall. “The supervisors stand over us shouting and cursing at us to go faster,” she said. “We are under constant pressure. They call us filthy names, like maldito, donkey, bitch, and worse things. You can’t answer the supervisors or they will fire you. It is very hot in the factory and you are sweating all day. There is also a lot of dust in the air. You breathe it in, and you go into the factory with black hair and come out with hair that is white or red or whatever the color of the shirts we are working on.” Once a worker succeeds in receiving permission to use the restroom she must first suffer the indignity of being searched by a guard before being allowed to proceed. “You can go once in the morning and once in the afternoon,” Gonzalez explained. The work process at the plant is grueling. “You can’t move or stretch, or even look to the side. You just have to focus and work as fast as you can to complete the production goal, always under pressure. Because of this, and because the benches are just wood with no backs, by the end of the day your whole body aches, your back, arms, shoulders, everything, and one feels exhausted.”

At Niagra Textiles in Bangladesh, workers sew garments for Disney and Wal-Mart, earning the princely sum of 11 to 20 cents per hour. Helpers are paid even less than sewers, just 7 to 8 cents an hour. The pay is so abysmal that four workers must share a single shack, and one outhouse and water pump serves sixty people. Meals consist of nothing but rice, only occasionally flavored with a small amount of beans or potatoes. To manage even such a meager diet as this, workers must borrow money each week. The workweek is 14 hours a day, seven days a week. At best, employees are given one day off a month. On top of that schedule, employees are required to work a 19-hour shift once a week, from 8:00 AM until 3:00 AM the following morning. At the end of this extended shift, workers sleep on the floor at the factory. If a worker is caught talking in the factory, he is fined a day’s wages. “It is a bleak life. We have no hope,” confessed one worker. Another complained, “We have no life. We can’t afford to marry; we have no wife, no social life. We live just to work.”

It is the practice of Niagra Textiles to pay its workers two weeks late in order to earn extra interest from the bank. On one occasion, a small group of workers entered the manager’s office, asking when they would be paid. The outraged manager responded by assaulting one of the workers and screaming, “How dare you come into my office!” The manager made a cell phone call for assistance and then he and his assistant beat the workers. Thirty-some minutes later, five gang members arrived and thrashed the workers with sticks and stomped on those who had fallen to the ground. Police arrived during the melee, and gang members helpfully pointed out the workers they were to arrest. Eight employees were taken to jail, where they remained for two weeks before being released on bail and facing charges. Every worker who had inquired about pay was dismissed, including those who had eluded arrest.  

At the Western Dresses factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Robina Akther usually worked from 7:45 in the morning until 10:00 or 11:00 PM, and seven or eight nights a month she was ordered to work until 3:00 AM. “The factory never shuts down,” she reported. “In the first six months I did not have a single day off.” In a typical year, Akther would get less than ten days off. “My job was to sew the flaps on the back pockets of these pants. I had to sew 120 pieces an hour. It was difficult to reach. If you made any mistakes or fell behind on your goal, they beat you. They slapped you and lashed you hard on the face with the pants. This happens very often. They hit you hard.” Workers at the factory are not permitted to talk. “If the supervisors even see you move your lips or make a gesture to a friend, they cut your overtime pay as punishment. We work sitting on hard wooden stools with no backs or arm rests. But if you even stand up to stretch, they cut your overtime pay.”

At a factory in Thailand producing clothing for Reebok, Adidas and Levi’s, amphetamines were added to the large drink containers during busy production periods, enabling employees to work up to 48 hours straight. The practice was so commonplace that many workers became addicted to the drugs and sought them on the black market. Discipline was harsh, and anyone perceived to be working too slowly could expect to be grabbed and shouted at. The fine for a worker caught yawning was more than $11, and in one case, a worker was docked more than $46 for bringing a lemon to work to help her stay awake. The owner often hectored the workers over a loudspeaker, telling them that anyone attempting to organize a union could “say goodbye to your parents.” Since six thuggish bodyguards always accompanied the owner and security guards monitored workers, the threat was taken seriously. Then one day without any warning the owner disappeared, having absconded with the workers’ back wages.

Conditions are no better at sweatshops operating in China, as factory owners there routinely ignore legal protections for workers, and little or no attempt is made to enforce such laws. At Kin Ki Industrial on the outskirts of Shenzhen, the Etch-a-Sketch toy is manufactured. Workers there are paid 24 cents an hour, little more than two-thirds of the legal minimum wage. The workweek consists of 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, exceeding the legal permissible limit on working hours. At Foreway Industrial in Dongguan, toys for American major league sports, Wal-Mart, Disney and Hasbro are produced. The workweek is seven days long. Workers receive one day off every other month and about half of the national holidays. During peak production periods, employees work from 8:00 AM until 2:00 to 4:30 AM. For their efforts, they are paid an average of 16 and a half cents an hour. Wages are frequently paid late, and in one instance when desperate workers organized a strike over late pay, all fifty activists were fired. Workers who wish to quit automatically forfeit one and a half month’s back wages.

At Daxu Cosmetics in Anshan, workers painstakingly assemble false eyelashes by hand. It is tedious and exhausting work that strains the eyes. The starting wage at Daxu is $24 a month, from which $13 is deducted for overcrowded and inadequate lodging. Even during off-hours, workers are locked inside the facility, although they are occasionally permitted to spend time on the grounds of the adjoining mental hospital. Workers are allowed only one shower per week, and the menu for every meal never varies - cabbage and potato porridge. If an employee wants to quit, she must first pay the owner a penalty fee of $58, an impossible sum to save. One woman who in her attempt to escape through a third story window fell and broke both legs and displaced vertebrae, characterized the plant as follows: “What they called a company was really a prison.”  

Such stories are legion, and reveal the mean-spirited heart of the all-consuming drive for profit by global capitalism far more accurately than the gleaming images of affluence that are beamed into our living rooms on the television. We are never shown the downtrodden millions: 852 million undernourished people, including 9 million in industrialized countries. Despite a sharp reduction of hunger in China, the global number of hungry has increased in recent years, a trend that has been particularly pronounced in underdeveloped nations and the republics of the former Soviet Union which are now enjoying the fruits of the free market. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization asks, “If we already know the basic parameters of what needs to be done, why have we allowed hundreds of millions of people to go hungry in a world that produces more than enough food for every woman, man and child? Bluntly stated, the problem is not so much a lack of food as a lack of political will.” There is indeed enough food in the world to sustain every person. The problem of hunger is not one of supply but of an economic system based on inequality and a gross concentration of wealth in the hands of the few.

As long as glorification of the free market holds sway, the political will for addressing this urgent problem will never materialize. The lure of profit will trump people’s needs every time. This is “the system that works.” And so it does - for those at the top. It is often said that capitalism is the most efficient system for producing wealth. It would be more accurate to say that what the system accomplishes is to produce a concentration of wealth. Capitalism does not generate wealth from the thin air. It seizes it. The price for this concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is poverty and misery on an extraordinary scale, yet we rarely if ever hear the cries of those who are trampled underfoot in the stampede for riches.

-------------------------------------
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0

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http://www.henrygeorge.org/archive/pancake.htm

Pancakes and Poverty

by Lindy Davies
The Henry George Institute
September 22, 1999

My 2½ year old son and I like making pancakes in the morning. We like eating them too, but making them is really way cool. He supervises the mixing of the batter. "Don't over-mix, Daddy!" he reminds me (all true flapjack chefs know that over-mixed batter makes rubbery cakes). He deposits the first bit of batter in the pan, and recently he has begun to learn flipping. Often while I cook subsequent panfuls, he plays in the kitchen sink, and I have a few moments to sip coffee and think.

His Mom and I do our best to take care of our kid. We reconfigured our lives to make sure we were ready and able to give him our very best attentions. We worry if he doesn't feel like eating. We make sure he hasn't outgrown his shoes. We feel for fevers. We sing, walk, play, tell stories, name things, explain processes; we frequent three libraries. None of this is heroic, of course. We do what parents are expected to do: take the best possible care of their kids. Children are our hopes, our loves -- it's our job to do right by them and they owe us nothing in return. All they have to do is grow, and gain an identity.

We do not think kindly -- do we? -- of those who disregard their children. We cluck judgementally at parents who we consider to be too young, or too irresponsible. We are horrified at parents who abandon, neglect, malign or misuse their children. Let's consider a few examples. What about a parent who habitually leaves lead paint chips and stagnant, scummy water around for a kid to consume? Or perhaps one who lolls in fur coats while the kids have no blankets? Or forces a child to go out and work, while the parent sits at home watching TV? Or perhaps even blames the child for his own poverty?

Yet as a community we have not done so very well by our children. Tens of millions of children die each year due to diseases borne by unsanitary drinking water and lack of sewage facilities. A quarter of the children in the world today lack adequate shelter. And multitudes of kids are forced to fend for themselves, lacking support from parents who are unemployed, or ill, or absent -- ground down by their own poverty until they can no longer function as parents.

It is striking how much attention we pay to our own children, and to the parenting standards of those in our own community, while disasters of such mind-addling proportion are going on around us. Perhaps there isn't too much we can do, in the short term anyway. Like Scarlett O'Hara, we just cannot think of it today, we'll go mad if we do! But it is not healthy to be in too much denial for too long. Kids are kids, and the majority of them in the world today are forced to live in appalling hardship.

Seeing this, we immediately seek refuge in the notion of the parents' irresponsibility. They simply shouldn't be having children if they can't provide for them. All those people in Bangladesh should look around them and see how selfish it is to create another mouth to feed, when so many go hungry. Before those crazy young couples in Mexico City have more kids, they should work hard, save their pesos and buy a few acres in the campo, ¿Si?

But there's one problem with that argument: it's irrelevant. It's never the kid's fault, no matter how "irresponsible" its parents might have been. Does the child not have rights of its own?


               My kid                   Someone else's kid

We have to realize that more money, energy and resources is spent on taking photographs of children in the United States than goes toward feeding them in the world's LDCs. What about the millions upon millions of acres squandered on subsidized meat production? The insane wars over natural resources, fought with the leftover weapons of the cold war, that result in starving refugees?

It was once a sort of hip, existential-despair sort of thing to say, "How could I bring a child into such a hopeless world as this?" I think of that as we flip our pancakes. There's nothing hopeless about the world. The world provides for its children with abundant generosity. The hand-wringing about the Earth's "carrying capacity" is misplaced. The world can never can be overpopulated while so many resources go wasted, while the top ten per cent live in such luxury and feel so free to throw their garbage wherever they wish.

Proliferation of hungry children, and destruction of the natural environment, are not parts of the natural order of things, as Malthus and his later-day enthusiasts would have you believe. That is a formula for despair. Human beings are not a cancer on this planet. The world would not be better off without us. Would the world be a better place without the paintings of Cezanne, the music of the Davis/Coltrane quintet, the polio vaccine, or those two little guys pictured above? No. It is up to us to fashion social institutions that are worthy of us, our children and our best achievements. How do we do that? That, too, is known. Ignorance is no excuse.
"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

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http://www.monetary.org
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Offline Geolibertarian

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In his November 23, 2008 article, End the Fed, End Wall Street Bankster Rule, End the Derivatives Depression, Webster Tarpley wrote the following:

    "Monetarist dogma is a mix of Herbert Hoover, Robert Taft (of the Skull & Bones family), Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and other reactionary Republicans. Monetarism is based on the von Hayek-von Mises Austrian school, which started when a bunch of rent-gouging Viennese landlords wanted to abolish rent control and hired some scribblers to prove that 'the market' was always infallible and government is always the enemy. Von Hayek got his chance under the reactionary old battle axe Margaret Thatcher, who brought back rickets, scurvy and pellagra for British working people. The dumbed-down US version of the same doctrine is Milton Friedman and his Rockefeller-funded Chicago School, which got its big road test under the fascist Pinochet regime in Chile."

In a recent article, economist Michael Hudson expands on Tarpley's scathing assessment of the Austrian School's ideological cousins -- the Chicago School monetarists:

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http://michael-hudson.com/2010/05/neoliberal-economics-v-theology/

Religious Conversion: from Theology to the Temple of Mammon

by Michael Hudson
michael-hudson.com
May 24, 2010

The Friedman Institute upgrades Theology to condone Neoliberal Greed
What would Jesus Say?


Many academics recently received a petition signed by 111 University of Chicago faculty members, explaining that “without any announcement to its own community, [the University] has commissioned Ann Beha Architects, a Boston firm, to remake the Chicago Theological Seminary building into a home for the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics (MFIRE) and has renewed aggressive fund-raising activity for the controversial Institute.”

It would be hard to find a more fitting metaphor than what the press release characterizes as “conversion of the Seminary building into a temple of neoliberal economics.” Even the acronym MFIRE seems symbolically appropriate. The M might well stand for Money in Prof. Friedman’s MV = PT (Money x Velocity = Price x Transactions). And the FIRE sector comprises finance, insurance and real estate – the “free lunch” sector whose wealth the Chicago monetarists celebrate.

Classical economists characterized the rent and interest accruing to the FIRE sector as “unearned income,” headed by land rent and land-price (“capital”) gains, which John Stuart Mill described as what landlords made “in their sleep.” Milton Friedman, by contrast, insisted that “there is no such thing as a free lunch” – as if the economy were not all about a free lunch and how to get it. And the main way to get it is to dismantle the role of government and sell off the public domain – on credit.

As Charles Baudelaire quipped, the devil wins at the point where the world believes that he does not exist. Paraphrasing this we may say that free lunch rentiers achieve economic victory at the point where government regulators and economists believe that their returns do not exist – and hence, do not need to be taxed, regulated or otherwise subdued.

By “free market,” the Chicago Boys mean giving free rein to the financial sector – as opposed to the classical economists’ idea of freeing markets from rent [read: rack-renting] and interest [read: spurious interest]. Whereas traditional religion sought to lay down precepts for regulation, the Friedman Institute will promote deregulation.

Physically replacing the theology school with a “temple of neoliberal economics” is ironic inasmuch as one tenet that all the major religions held in common at one point or other was opposition to the charging of interest. Judaism called for Clean Slates (Leviticus 25), and Christianity banned interest outright, citing the laws of Exodus and Deuteronomy.

The Chicago Boys thus have inverted traditional theology.

Yet the teaching of economics as an academic discipline began as moral philosophy courses in the 18th and 19th centuries. The leading universities of most countries were founded to train students for the ministry. The moral philosophy course evolved into political economy, dealing largely with economic reform and taxation of the unearned income accruing to vested interests as a result of legal privilege. The discipline was stripped down into “economics” largely to exclude political analysis, and the distinctions between productive and unproductive investment, earned and unearned income, value and price.

The classical economists saw rent and interest as a carry-over from Europe’s feudal conquest of the land and the privatization of money and finance into an institutionally based debt and monopoly overhead. The classical economists sought to tax away such “unearned income,” to regulate natural monopolies or shift them into the public domain.

Needless to say, this history of economic thought will not be taught at the Friedman Center.

The first thing that the Chicago Boys did in Chile when they were given power after the 1973 military coup was to close down every economics department in the country – and indeed, every social science department outside of the Catholic University where they held sway. They realized that “free markets” for capital required total control of the educational curriculum, and of cultural media generally.

What free marketers realize is that without an Inquisition authority, you cannot have a “stable” free market – that is, a market free for the financial predators who presumably are targeted as the major potential donors to the U/C’s Friedman Center.

Chicago School monetarists have achieved censorial power on the editorial boards of the major refereed economics journals, publication in which has become a precondition for career advancement for academic economists. The result has been to limit the scope of economics to “free market” celebration of rational choice theory and a narrow-minded “law and economics” ideology opposed to the ideas of moral justice and economic regulation that formed the basis of so much Western religion.

I had a foretaste of this inquisitorial spirit when I attended the U/C Laboratory School. I remember the large banner strung over the blackboard in Mr. Edgett’s social science classroom in 1953: “Give them all what the Rosenbergs got.” After the Freedom of Information Act opened up FBI files, my fellow classmates got quite a kick out of reading the reports filed on them and their political views by U/C professors and those of its associated Shimer College.

Who would have anticipated that economics would end up more right wing and authoritarian, more explicitly opposed to the very idea of human rights and distributive justice than theology? Or that the latter discipline itself would be so inverted?

The classical economists were reformers, after all, seeking to free markets from unearned income – the “free lunch” of land rent by Europe’s hereditary aristocracies, and from monopoly rents administered by the royal trading corporations created by European governments to pay off their war debts. But the Chicago monetarists seek to deregulate monopolies and usury laws, favoring rentiers rather than the “real” economy of labor and capital.

Their focus is on financial and property claims on income and on assets pledged as collateral: bank loans, stocks and bonds, for which they urge tax cuts. And to increase the market for leveraged buyouts, the Chicago Boys advocate privatizing the public domain, starting in Chile after 1973.

So what is inverted is not only the classical idea of free markets, but the economic core of early religion. Today, the Chicago Boys deem those most in need of salvation to be high finance, real estate and monopolies in their fighting to reverse the past seven centuries of classical economic reform since the Churchmen debated how to define a Just Price (socially necessary costs of production) for banks to charge back in the 13th century.

It seems largely about fund-raising, but isn’t that true of most religion nowadays?

The University of Chicago was financed by John D. Rockefeller, prompting Upton Sinclair to call it “The University of Standard Oil” in The Goose Step. When I attended in the 1950s, Lawrence Kimpton had replaced Robert Hutchins as chancellor, and in 1961 became general manager of planning (and subsequently, director) for Standard Oil of Indiana. His most famous act (apart from supervising the Manhattan atom bomb project) was to suppress The Chicago Review issue that contained excerpts from William Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch. Significantly, the reason he gave was that publication might discourage financial grants being given to the university.

Mr. Rockefeller at least duly gave his tithe to “those in need.” In a contrasting spirit, Herman Kahn’s wife, Jane, told me that once at a party, Milton Friedman replied to her suggestion of better public welfare and medical care, “Mrs. Kahn, why do you want to subsidize the production of orphans and sick people?” This is not exactly the classical religious spirit.

The problem with the Friedman Institute is that its economic doctrine rose to notoriety in the Pinochet period, the high tide of the Chicago Boys in Chile. Privatization of public enterprise, “freeing” markets from usury laws and promoting deregulation is the antithesis of nearly all religions, whose guiding purpose after all was to socialize their members and create a moral state.

Friedmanite monetarism has been characterized as a post-modern ideology which, like religion, has its own sacred cows and idols – and an Inquisition. In place of tithing of unbelievers as in Islam, we have the tax shift off the religion of finance capital onto labor standing outside its gates.

As the press release reports: “wide protest … has centered on the Institute’s strong ideological bias toward free market fundamentalism in the Friedman tradition. In this way and others, its nature runs contrary to the University’s tradition of free inquiry and unfettered debate.”

Well, I’m not sure about how recent that tradition of unfettered debate was, but the announcement concludes with a note that “FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Kendrick, Professor of Music (rkendric@uchicago.edu, 773-702-8500) or Bruce Lincoln, Caroline E. Haskell Professor of History of Religions (blincoln@uchicago.edu, 773-702-5083).”

The problem with the Friedman Institute [as mentioned before] is that its economic doctrine rose to notoriety in the Pinochet period, the high tide of the Chicago Boys in Chile.

I therefore suggest that it should be called the Pinochet Center of New Economic Theology.

The privatization of public enterprise (“freeing” markets from usury laws and promoting deregulation) is the antithesis of nearly all religions – whose guiding purpose after all was to socialize their members and create a moral state. Thus it really deserves to be called a New Theology.

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"Abolish all taxation save that upon land values." -- Henry George

"If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill." -- Thomas Edison

http://schalkenbach.org
http://www.monetary.org
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=203330.0