Archive for October 19th, 2014

“Power buys wealth infinitely faster than wealth buys power.”

By JC

Zero Hedge cross-posted a thought-provoking piece today by Raúl Ilargi Meijer at The Automatic Earth: “Wealth Inequality Is Not A Problem, It’s A Symptom.” I guess to that I might add that it is not just a symptom, but a feature. A feature of what? Well, read Meijer.

One of subtler themes weaving its way through the backdrop of this year’s election is wealth inequality. Unfortunately, it seems that this is one of those “third rail” taboo topics in politics these days, “Job Creators” and all, you know.

One line particularly struck me as worthy of discussion:

Voting in elections has the same function today as singing around a Christmas tree: everyone feels a strong emotional connection, but it’s all just become one giant TV commercial.

When was the last time a national election really affected the power structure running this country? And how does the current media mega-buys of candidates address any of the issues related to the concentration of power in this country? Of course, Meijer makes the astute observation that oligarchy knows no boundaries, but unfortunately, none of us get to vote in any meaningful way that addresses the inequity in power structures.

The days of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are over (warning, it’s a trailer trying to sell you a viewing of a 75 year old movie for $2.99). Meijer gets to the heart of the issue of how the 20th century institutions like NATO, the Fed, the UN & EU, IMF, World Bank, yada yada have moved beyond the control of any electoral processes of any country’s voters, and have served to concentrate power in the hands of oligarchs. And when you concentrate power, safe from any electoral processes, that power serves to enrich itself and exacerbate wealth inequality.

When Meijer says that wealth inequality is a symptom, he is referring to it being a symptom of the concentration of power. And in order to do anything meaningful about wealth inequality, we need to break apart the power structures that maintain and solidify oligarchy. No small task.

So with that simple notion in mind, again I ask: “What are we voting for?” And if candidates aren’t willing to address the simple notion of breaking apart power structures, then what does it accomplish to elect them?

One last quote from Meijer:

…what we see now is that any effort, any at all, to break up the IMF, World Bank, UN, NATO and EU would be met with the same derision that an effort to break up the USA would be met with. We have built, in true sorcerer’s apprentice or Frankenstein fashion, entities that we cannot control. And they have taken over our lives. They serve the interests of elites, not of the people. So why do we let them continue to exist?

What powers do we have left when it comes to bailing out banks, invading countries, making sure our young people have jobs when they leave school? We have none. We lost the decision making power along the way, and we’re not getting it back unless we quit watching the tube (or the plasma) and fight for it. Until we do, power will keep floating to the top like so much excrement; it’s a law of – human – nature.

That the people we voluntarily endow with such control over our lives would also use that control to enrich themselves, is so obvious it barely requires mentioning. But that doesn’t mean this is about wealth inequality, that’s not the main issue, in fact it’s not much more than an afterthought. It’s about the power we have over our lives. Or rather, the power we don’t have.

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by lizard

If fear makes people stupid, then Americans are probably the stupidest people on the planet. Stupid enough to still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 six years after invading and occupying Iraq? Yep:

Sociologists at the University of North Carolina and Northwestern University examined an earlier case of deep commitment to the inaccurate: the belief, among many conservatives who voted for George W. Bush in 2004, that Saddam Hussein was at least partly responsible for the attacks on 9/11.

Of 49 people included in the study who believed in such a connection, only one shed the certainty when presented with prevailing evidence that it wasn’t true.

The rest came up with an array of justifications for ignoring, discounting or simply disagreeing with contrary evidence — even when it came from President Bush himself.

Of our two worthless political parties, I think it’s safe to say Republicans are way better at scaring themselves stupid. Here are some of the ways 48 stupid people were able to insulate themselves from the reality that America went to war in Iraq based on lies:

By the time the interviews were conducted, just before the 2004 election, the Bush Administration was no longer muddling a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraq war. The researchers chose the topic because, unlike other questions in politics, it had a correct answer.

Subjects were presented during one-on-one interviews with a newspaper clip of this Bush quote: “This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda.”

The Sept. 11 Commission, too, found no such link, the subjects were told.

“Well, I bet they say that the commission didn’t have any proof of it,” one subject responded, “but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that.”

Reasoned another: “Saddam, I can’t judge if he did what he’s being accused of, but if Bush thinks he did it, then he did it.”

Others declined to engage the information at all. Most curious to the researchers were the respondents who reasoned that Saddam must have been connected to Sept. 11, because why else would the Bush Administration have gone to war in Iraq?

The desire to believe this was more powerful, according to the researchers, than any active campaign to plant the idea.

Fear is of course used by both political parties. Democrats, for example, don’t have a lot to offer these days except fear of Republicans. But Democrats are way behind when it comes to exploiting fear for political gain. When it comes to using fear, Republicans are number 1, as evidenced by the merging of ISIS and ebola into one of the stupidest alleged threats facing America:

A Republican senator says he sees the threat of ISIS militants intentionally infecting themselves with the Ebola virus and then traveling to America as a “real and present danger.”

“Well, it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about ever since this Ebola outbreak started,” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday of ISIS using Ebola on America’s Forum on NewsmaxTV.

NewsMaxTV cited Al Shimkus, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, who said last week that that ISIS fighters could infect themselves with the Ebola virus and then travel to U.S. as a form of biological warfare.

Johnson said America should be preparing to defend ourselves against such a scenario, calling it “a real and present danger.”

“You really don’t even want to think about,” he said. “You really don’t even want to talk about, but we should do everything possible to defend ourselves against that possibility because I think that is a real and present danger.”

In lighit of this idiocy, merely advocating for a travel ban appears tame in comparison, but the outcome will be anything but. Here is a dude at Fox news acknowledging the travel ban would be worthless and possibly dangerous, but then he concludes we should do it anyway:

Fox News medical correspondent Marc Siegel came out in favor of a travel ban Thursday, arguing in the National Review that it would be impossible to enforce, utterly pointless, and potentially dangerous. If that sentence makes no sense, you’re in the same camp as the rest of us.

Siegel conceded the arguments, well-aired but not yet well-believed, that a travel ban would exacerbate the ebola outbreak by making potential carriers harder to trace, not to mention fomenting panic and distrust in the west African countries where the virus festers.

But, Siegel said, “we must worry about our own public psyche here in the United States. If our leaders can’t give us a sense that we are protected, we must achieve it by imposing a ban.”

He concluded:

I’m not convinced medically — I don’t believe that a travel ban against the Ebola-afflicted countries in West Africa will be particularly effective, it may even be counterproductive, and it certainly isn’t coming from the strongest side of what being an American means. But as fear of Ebola and fear of our leaders’ ineptitude grows, I think we must have a ban to patch our battered national psyche.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. But hey, Americans are scared, so let’s do it anyway.

Big Swede—the poster child for Republican, fear-based stupidity—has this comment in the last post:

Travel bans are inevitable. Either as a last minute “save” to at risk Dem incumbents or the threat of multiple lawsuits and costs incurred by Ebola laden air travelers.

Privately or by Governmental decree a couple more Duncans combined with chasing down of numerous passenger lists the flights will stop.

This comment isn’t as stupid as one may think at first glance. The second sentence seemingly acknowledges the travel ban is a political tool to effect political outcomes in the midterm elections, which is absolutely accurate. Sprinkle on some fear of litigation and the potential for travel restrictions does seem to be inevitable.

Unfortunately, stopping flights won’t stop the spread of Ebola. Explaining that to conservatives, though, may be like trying to tell them Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.

Is there a fix for stupid? I sure hope so.




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