Humans And Atrocities

People are people everywhere.

The US has its dark past. Slavery. Genocide of Native Americans. CIA coups overthrowing democracies. Invasions. Etc.

But there’s nothing special about the US and its various apartheids, genocides and atrocities. Right now it’s Israel, moving from apartheid to genocide. We all know the history of European colonialism, Germany’s genocide, the Balkans… There’s China and Tibet ad the Uyghurs. Look at Rwanda … it’s everywhere.

Human civilization is barely able to contain the underlying hatreds and violence. Certain types of people take advantage of this by inciting, stoking the hatreds to get what they want because they don’t care about the consequences to others. The current formula in the Western world is to use immigrants as the “other” to demonize. “Invasion” is the word the right is using to “other” immigrants now in the US, UK and EU. Hatred was mostly directed against Muslims for a while but now it is pretty much any immigrants. (If you think desperate, terrified people fleeing violence, extreme inequality and the climate crisis are the enemy you’d better realize that’s quite possibly you in a few years.)

Civilization doesn’t continue without leadership willing to fight that. And you can’t get and keep that kind of leadership if your system is open to corruption. This is because if corruption is enabled then the bad actors drive out the good ones who can’t compete because they won’t be corrupt. (That’s why progressives don’t win here.)

I’m not optimistic about the future.

Ignore ALL The Words

Ignore all the words. That’s just stuff said to hide what’s happening.

Just look at what is being done. That is the only truth now.

More than 2 million Palestinians are being bombed without mercy. They are being starved and treated as less than human. Their homes, hospitals, schools, etc are being destroyed to keep them from being able to return. It’s happening right there in front of us.

The billionaires around the world are growing ever more wealthy, and are using that wealth to create an unbreakable system to keep things that way. Societal systems (democracy, information, rule of law etc) that enabled people to take care of each other are being destroyed. The rest of us are left to fend for ourselves.

The climate crisis is right in front of our noses, but the polluters control the levels of societal power. They will do what they can to keep themselves on top. They don’t care what happens to the rest of us or to the future.

Ignore all the words. All of them. We live in a propaganda bath designed to keep us from acting on what we see happening to us.

COP28

COP28 stands for the 28th year of the “Conference of Parties” to climate change. THIS COP called for a transition away from use of fossil fuels in its final report.

It took 28 YEARS before a climate conference said that burning fossil fuels and allowing the resulting carbon pollution to be dumped into the air was a problem!

What does that tell you?

(Hint: It tells you that fossil fuel companies have been able to use their vast resources to influence and control governments around the world.)

Civilians Die – The 90s Right Wing Game Just Goes On

In the UK, Starmer, head of Labour, gave a statement supporting cutting off food, water & power to Gaza. Some elected members quit the party, esp Muslims, many others are threatening to.

In the US I read there is similar sentiment inside the Biden administration. They worked for diversity but the inner circle is reactively “pro-Israel” even though that country is run by Trump types right now. (And those very Trumpers have been working for years to defeat Dems.) The voices working for peace and moderation – and protecting civilians – are silenced. The Biden administration makes noises about Palestinian civilians, etc but when it comes down to it they revert to form. Form formed in the 90s based on the way Reagan swept politics. But never understanding HOW Reagan did it.

So this is still the 90’s politics reactionaries all over again, again. And people suffer again, again. It’s why they supported the Iraq war, austerity, “pro-business” and all the other positions we are all so familiar with… It’s why they reflexively always vote to increase the military budget, corporate tax breaks, privatizations, Social Security cuts etc even when so much just goes to grifting Republican/Tory donors who pour money back into the propaganda machine. This “conventional wisdom” formed in the 90s, that the public is conservative, etc. just all sits there, having formed “truths.”

And to the extent the public is “conservative”, it is because of corporate right-wing propaganda that has never been countered.

Shouting FIRE On A Warming Planet

FIRE: Finance Insurance Real Estate

I (Insurance) looks at longer-term risks. That’s why the industry is pulling out of Florida, etc. The know what is coming.

F(inance) and RE(real estate) look short-term and are still ignoring the climate crisis. There are short-term profits to be made.

Financial collapse happens slowly, then all at once. Another huge hurricane? A heat wave that kills thousands? Terrible flooding? SOMETHING will happen one of these days, and suddenly everyone will be worried that they shouldn’t be where they are.

Florida real estate is an example. It is already worthless because it will be underwater relatively soon. And one day SOMETHING will happen and everyone will decide it’s time to get out. Sell! But they’ll all decide to sell at once and the buyers will have seen the same thing. So all the mortgage will fail. All the lenders will fail.

And THAT will trigger a closer look at other climate-devalued real estate, like Phoenix and every other coastal area.

Boom.

F and RE will catch up with I.

Have You Heard That Companies Pass Along Taxes To Customers?

Here’s a common trick used against the public. Have you heard that “Companies pass taxes along to customers”? This is nonsense as soon as you think about it.

1. Taxes are on profits. Profits are calculated the following fiscal year after expenses are subtracted from revenue. A company can’t know what its taxes will be ahead of time, so it can’t increase prices.

2. IF a company DID increase prices to “pass along” taxes, that would mean the company would bring in more revenue with the same expenses. That would mean more profit. That would mean more taxes. That would mean they would have to increase prices to “pass along” the taxes. That would mean the company would bring in more revenue with the same expenses. That would mean more profit. That would mean more taxes. That would mean they would have to increase prices to “pass along” the taxes. (Continue this until prices and taxes are infinity.)

3. Companies ALREADY charge the maximum they can charge before hurting their business. Unless they’re managed by idiots who actually believe they can raise prices any time they want to but haven’t yet.

4. Companies with competitors can’t raise prices without their customers moving to their competitors. Companies without competitors are illegal – it’s called “antitrust” and governments in the past would stop this, before governments became subsidiaries to giant companies that don’t have competitors.

5. Governments became subsidiaries to giant companies that don’t have competitors because voters believed nonsense like companies “pass along” taxes to the customers.

How The Bribery And Corruption Work

When we allow “public service” top be a path to wealth we end up with self-dealing “public servants” who are in it entirely for their own careers/enrichment and not even a little bit concerned with the public interest. The influencers know that, and use it.

Jack Abramoff was one such influencer. He was a Republican “lobbyist” who was actually prosecuted for corruption, back when occasionally people were prosecuted for that. This from a 60 MINUTES episode, Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist’s playbook, explained how it works:

Abramoff: When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, “You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.” Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to ’em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do. And not only that, they’re gonna think of things we can’t think of to do.

Tell them they can do really well after leaving government, and “We owned them.”

Biden, like Obama and the Clintons, made a fortune in “speaking fees” after leaving “public service.” That is just bribery, normalized. No one is invited to “speak” after public service if they rub the right people the wrong way and everyone currently IN “public service” knows that.

From Corruption: “Take The Gold Or Take The Lead”

Take The Gold Or Take The Lead

Our system has become corrupted and everyone knows what I mean. Everyone understands that government officials who “play ball” can get a huge paycheck after leaving government if they help certain big businesses while serving in government. The Nation explains, in When a Congressman Becomes a Lobbyist, He Gets a 1,452 Percent Raise (On Average), Secret deals, bribery and “buying” members of Congress are commonplace in today’s government. (See also: Tauzin, Billy.) (And: Public Interest Groups Call For Corruption Investigation Into Prescription Drug Law.)

Neil Barofsky was Special United States Treasury Department Inspector General overseeing the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). In the preface to his book Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, Barofsky explained that people in government are given two choices, “the gold or the lead.” From the NY Times review, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

Mr. Barofsky, wearing an unseasonal wool suit at odds with a “Washington-appropriate wardrobe,” is poised to let the hostess seat them at a front table of her choosing, but Mr. Allison insists on a private table in the rear. Then he gets down to business.

“Have you thought at all about what you’ll be doing next?” Mr. Allison asks Mr. Barofsky, soon adding, “Out there in the market, there are consequences for some of the things that you’re saying and the way that you’re saying them.”

“Allison was essentially threatening me with lifelong unemployment,” Mr. Barofsky concludes, and alternatively suggesting a plum government appointment some day if Mr. Barofsky would simply “change your tone.”

When Mr. Barofsky tells his deputy of the exchange, the deputy says, “It was the gold or the lead,” resorting to the lingo of their joint experience prosecuting Latin American drug kingpins in New York: Cooperate and share the riches, or don’t and get plugged.

There are “consequences” if you don’t play ball. But if you do play ball, there are rewards. And everyone knows it.

In America now, there are “consequences” if you don’t play ball. But if you do play ball, there are rewards. And everyone knows it.

They Can’t Get Pilots Or Doctors

Being an airline pilot used to be a good job with good pay and good benefits. Pilots were respected. Young people would sign up for the Air Force to get pilot training hoping they would have great career opportunities later.

Then the airlines broke the unions. Some of them used bankruptcy laws. Some of them just broke the unions. HAHA Showed them who is the boss. Investors raked in the bucks that pilots used to be paid. So now being an airline pilot is a shit job with low pay and long abusive hours. Don’t even ask about the benefits.

And guess what? There is a shortage of pilots. the Air Force is has a pilot shortage and recruitment problems because young people know better than signing up for a shitty career.

And the investors who raked in the $$? THEY DON’T CARE. They’re gone, living it up on the money they “earned” in a system that encourages people to do what they did.

Now Let’s Do Doctors

Being an airline pilot a doctor used to be a good job with good pay and good benefits. Pilots Doctors were respected. Young people would strive to get into medical school.

Then medical corporations took over…

Housing

People used to be able to rent or buy a place to live. Then, during the Great Recession, “private equity” companies bought up as much housing as they could. Now they rent those homes out at ridiculous rates…

You get the picture.

Looting Is Our “System”

This is the result of very short-sighted thinking. There is no planning for the longer term or the public good here. This is about a few people making the most money they can as fast as they can and never mind the consequences.

Is this how a sensible democracy would operate. Of course not. The people doing the looting and raking in the $$ are able to do this because the public has been persuaded that this is the best way to do things. You wouldn’t want “big government” or “union bosses” doing “planning” deciding how to do things, would you?

So our society collapses before our eyes.

Corruption And Consequences

Silicon Valley Bank fails…

Corruption allowed the finance industry to operate outside of sensible government oversight, even as the world has experienced the consequences of this over and over again. So here in Silicon Valley and around the world, tech employees are waiting to find out if they’ll get their paychecks or get laid off next week. The world is wondering if contagion will spread that fear. Again. (Last time, because of corruption, not one banker type was held accountable. Not one.)

Also here in Silicon Valley it is raining harder than almost ever – except for a couple weeks ago. Flooding everywhere. I mean, torrential, incredible rain pouring down right now. This is because corruption has caused governments to allow the industry causing this to keep putting more and more carbon into the air even as we all know what the consequences will be.

The news lately has been about train derailments devastating localities. This happens because corruption allows wealthy rail-owners to keep governments from making them operate safely.

Inequality is now completely out-of-control. 60% of Americans now live paycheck-to-paycheck, not even able to raise $500 to cover an emergency like a car breakdown. The government doesn’t raise the minimum wage or otherwise address this because of obvious corruption. Million upon millions are spent convincing these people to blame government for this and vote for those backed by that money, and abolish democracy. “I am your retribution.”

The Supreme Court “rules” that this is all OK. Any amount of secret money is allowed to influence elections. People trying to fix this face millions of dollars spent smearing them in LOCAL elections. This Supreme Court we have is the way it is because of corrupt money spent to put them there.

Is there a common theme here?

Religious Liberty — We All Know What (And Who) THAT Means!

WaPo, ‘When was it too late?’ Some U.S. Jews wonder about their place in America,

As the midterms approached, bringing more instances of terrifying anti-Jewish rhetoric, he and his wife had their house staged to sell.

“Our question was, in the 1930s, when did people know it was time? When was it too late?” said the 66-year-old Maine doctor.

I’m not surprised to see this news report about Jewish people packing up and getting out of the US “in time.” I mean, “Religious liberty” – we all know what (and who) THAT means!

A surprising number of my own friends with Jewish ancestry are asking the question: Is it time to get out of the US? I mean, if you pay any attention at all to the news… Republicans celebrating what’s happening with Orban in in Hungary as a model for here – uh oh. An old saying: A good Jew keeps a packed bag under their bed.

Disclaimer I am 1/4 Ukrainian Jewish ancestry (grandfather – my grandmother converted). But I’m not sure Ukraine is the right place to be heading to right now.