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Author Topic: Power Structures in Human Society: Pros and Cons Part 1  (Read 4425 times)

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AGelbert

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Corporate America Recognizes Eroding Middle Class
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2014, 06:35:10 pm »
Feb 03, 2014 at 08:00 AM PST.

Corporate America Recognizes Eroding Middle Class


by
TomPFollow .
 
The world of business is admitting what working people have been living: the middle class is dying:


In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.

As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.

snip

“As a retailer or restaurant chain, if you’re not at the really high level or the low level, that’s a tough place to be,” Mr. Maxwell said. “You don’t want to be stuck in the middle.”

Although data on consumption is less readily available than figures that show a comparable split in income gains, new research by the economists Steven Fazzari, of Washington University in St. Louis, and Barry Cynamon, of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, backs up what is already apparent in the marketplace.

In 2012, the top 5 percent of earners were responsible for 38 percent of domestic consumption, up from 28 percent in 1995, the researchers found.


NY Times: The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World.
What this may mean is more and more bubbles, as the wealthy chase higher returns that can not be created by an economy without middle class demand.  Meanwhile, the increasing impoverishment and proletarianization of the former middle class could lead to a greater class consciousness and acts against the wealthy.  It might.  There's no inevitability. 


The income and wealth inequality in our nation is immoral and bad for business. 


Update I: From bobswern in the comments:


Elizabeth Warren Dec. 4th, 2009... (2+ / 0-)
 This was in 2009...back when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate...
America Without a Middle Class -- It's Not Far Away As You Might Think
 America today has plenty of rich and super-rich. But it has far more families who did all the right things, but who still have no real security.


Elizabeth Warren
 Alternet.org
 December 4, 2009
Can you imagine an America without a strong middle class? If you can, would it still be America as we know it?

Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can't make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.

Families have survived the ups and downs of economic booms and busts for a long time, but the fall-behind during the busts has gotten worse while the surge-ahead during the booms has stalled out. In the boom of the 1960s, for example, median family income jumped by 33% (adjusted for inflation). But the boom of the 2000s resulted in an almost-imperceptible 1.6% increase for the typical family. While Wall Street executives and others who owned lots of stock celebrated how good the recovery was for them, middle class families were left empty-handed.

The crisis facing the middle class started more than a generation ago. Even as productivity rose, the wages of the average fully-employed male have been flat since the 1970s…
"I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham by bobswern on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:35:43 AM CST

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/03/1274646/-Business-Recognizes-Eroding-Middle-Class
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AGelbert

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WHD said,
Quote
Anyway, anarchism isn't what happens when people who believe in capitalism and socialism find no Authority to genuflect before, it's what happens when people come together in the absence of Authority, to protect each other, and to accomplish what they could not alone. Which is just what happens. I don't need to defend it.

As UB, said, leaders will show up. The idea that an ABSENCE of Authority will take place is a thought experiment, not a probable reality based on history. Humans are competitive and ALWAYS have tried to declare themselves "the boss", no matter how small the group. History does not provide good examples of spontaneous cooperation born of "absence of authority" simply because authority has ALWAYS been present in some form.

Anarchy from absence of authority is wishful thinking. It ain't gonna happen.

WHY? Take the Fukushima tsunami, for example. No anarchy but all the disorganization and instant infrastructure collapse along with 25,000 instant deaths.

You may say the area wasn't big enough. Okay, half the islands of Japan sink in a massive quake and the other half are totally flattened. Anarchy results? I don't think so.

For the "anarchy" dream of, "hey, the goons in charge are gone so lets cooperate and make a nice society" to have a snowball's chance in hell to take place, you need to eliminate ALL the governments on earth in one fell swoop AND their military abilities including nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines. AUTHORITY is NEVER going to be ABSENT.

The rules of predatory behavior dictate that, when one country is in shambles from whatever, the strong neighbors IMMEDIATELY jump into the authority vacuum and get the booty (pretending to recue their neighbor, of course  :evil4:).

Forget anarchy. It will never happen. Humans dream of anarchy but never, except a brief riot here and there, function 24/7 in that state.

A tree or a bear or a wolf is NOT concerned with a bunch of dead prey a thousand miles away. HUMANS ARE. Humans want to take over when their neighbors are weak or disorganized. That's the way it is.
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AGelbert

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The international paper size standard, ISO 216, is based on the German DIN 476 standard for paper sizes. ISO paper sizes are all based on a single aspect ratio of square root of 2, or approximately 1:1.4142.


The standard defines the "A" and "B" series of paper sizes, including A4, the most commonly available size.


Successive paper sizes in the series A1, A2, A3, and so forth, are defined by halving the preceding paper size across the larger dimension. The most frequently used paper size is A4 measuring 210 by 297 millimetres (8.3 in × 11.7 in).

The significant advantage of this system is its scaling: if a sheet with an aspect ratio of √2  is divided into two equal halves parallel to its shortest sides, then the halves will again have an aspect ratio of √2. Folded brochures of any size can be made by using sheets of the next larger size, e.g. A4 sheets are folded to make A5 brochures.

The system allows scaling without compromising the aspect ratio from one size to another—as provided by office photocopiers, e.g. enlarging A4 to A3 or reducing A3 to A4. Similarly, two sheets of A4 can be scaled down and fit exactly 1 sheet without any cutoff or margins.

Weights are easy to calculate as well: a standard A4 sheet made from 80 g/m2 paper weighs 5 g (as it is one 16th of an A0 page, measuring 1 m2), allowing one to easily compute the weight—and associated postage rate—by counting the number of sheets used.

The advantages of basing a paper size upon an aspect ratio of were first noted in 1786 by the German scientist and philosopher Georg Christoph Lichtenberg.[2] Early in the 20th century, Dr Walter Porstmann turned Lichtenberg's idea into a proper system of different paper sizes. Porstmann's system was introduced as a DIN standard (DIN 476) in Germany in 1922, replacing a vast variety of other paper formats. Even today the paper sizes are called "DIN A4" (IPA: [diːn.ʔaː.fiːɐ̯]) in everyday use in Germany and Austria. The term Lichtenberg ratio has recently been proposed for this paper aspect ratio.

Agelbert NOTE: Gee what a great system! Certainly all countries but the most stubborn, nationalistic and just plain backward would embrace this celebration of logic, economic common sense (i.e. easy to figure weights for postage) and scientific leadership by the Germans, RIGHT?
 
By 1975 so many countries were using the German system that it was established as an ISO standard, as well as the official United Nations document format. By 1977 A4 was the standard letter format in 88 of 148 countries. Today the standard has been adopted by all countries in the world except the United States and Canada. :P

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_size#Other_metric_sizes

H.G. Wells said, "Human progress is more and more a race between education and catastrophe". I can't prove it but our refusal to use CFS and adopt ISO 216 is evidence pointing to who the foot dragging, backward, uneducated members of the human family hurtling us towards CATASTROPHE are.

I like ISO 216 in general and A4 in particular. How about you? Have a nice day.  ;D
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AGelbert

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The concept of race
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2014, 07:17:45 pm »
The concept of race

The concept of race has been widely propagated since Carl Linnaeus published Systema Naturae in 1735.

The father of modern taxonomy proposed four distinct racial groups for human beings—American, European, Asian, and African—that encompassed not only physical characteristics and geographic origin, but also personality traits, skills, and abilities.

This classification has become institutionalized with little awareness that the variable “race” is not actually a biological phenomenon: there is more genetic variation within these racial groups than across them.

Rather, the notion of race is a social construct.

Despite a pervasive belief that race represents clear-cut and genetically distinct groups of people, there is no evidence that it is associated with any personality traits, skills, or abilities.

The US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines race as a set of self-identified racial/ethnic classifications, and many researchers argue that it is a crude tool in medical genetics.

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/38950/title/On-Race-and-Medicine/

Agelbert NOTE: Do most Americans, with or without scientific training, understand this REALITY about the NON-SCIENTIFIC basis for assigning traits (positive or negative), innate skills (or the LACK of them) and intelligence (or the LACK of it) according to Carl Linnaeus's 1735 bull**** bigotry?

Does Kunstler understand this?

I don't think so.

Shame on Kunstler and all the willfully ignorant ****S that wish to make artificial distinctions in humans in order to position their tribe on a higher level in the social pecking order. You evil bastards are helping destroy our future by fostering strife born of mendacious and vicious prejudicial disdain of fellow humans just because they look a little different.
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AGelbert

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Dr. Edo said in the comments to the following story:
Quote
With the increasingly politized and clientele captured regulatory community of non-action, Milgram's ideas are alive and well. Regulators whose jobs are to protect the public or environment now think nothing of  bowing to industry demands and Congress jumps in on the band wagon, all leaving the environment and public health waving in the breeze, hey, but that's alright, isn't it----everyone is doing it, must be OK?



Review: “Please Continue”

A play that dramatizes Stanley Milgram’s infamous social psychology experiments from the 1960s captures the personal side of human research.

By Tracy Vence | February 11, 2014

4 Comments

In the 40 years since Yale University’s Stanley Milgram first publicized his social psychology experiments that purported to reveal surprising truths about authority, obedience, and human nature, artists have dramatized the infamous research in nearly two dozen novels, films, pop songs, and plays. Playwright Frank Basloe joins the crowd with “Please Continue,” a play commissioned by New York City’s Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST) in collaboration with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which uses the Milgram experiments to explore the essence of the people who participate in scientific research.

Directed by EST’s William Carden, a nine-member cast skillfully portrayed the personal struggles of those connected with Milgram’s experiments—and, more broadly, early 1960s America—during a First Light Roughcut Workshop presentation last week (February 6).

From 1961 to 1962, Milgram and a few assistants conducted a series of trials involving three people each—an authoritative “experimenter,” a volunteer “teacher,” and a “learner,” who was in on the research setup but pretended to also be an unsuspecting volunteer. The teachers thought they were participating in a study on memory and learning, when in fact it was their own obedience and respect for authority that was being tested. Once their roles had been established—by what the teachers thought was a random draw—the experimenter set the other two participants up in separate rooms. The learner was connected to an electro-shock generator that the teacher controlled. The teacher was instructed to deliver shocks in increasing 15-volt increments whenever the learner answered a question incorrectly. When the teacher would question or refuse to deliver shocks, the experimenter would deliver a succession of commands, instructing the volunteer to proceed.

“Please continue,” bellowed fictitious experimenter “Sanders,” played by Austin Trow. “The experiment requires that you continue.”

The trials themselves “had a lot to do with stagecraft . . . like a play that happened in a lab,” explains Gina Perry, a psychologist and author of the 2012 book Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments. “When you think about what seemed to happen in Milgram’s experiments: ordinary people enter a space and—‘Wow, look at the power of science’—they are transformed into monsters, [people] whose behavior we find absolutely horrendous. That’s such a powerful story.”

It’s a powerful story that Perry notes has been oversimplified—in psychology textbooks and dramatic reproductions alike—over time. Most accounts of the research hinge on a startling result: 65 percent of teachers administered the final massive 450-volt shock, even though many said they were uncomfortable with the experiment. In fact, Perry says, the Milgram experiments tested 24 unique conditions on 700 participants; the 65 percent figure was gleaned from experiments testing only one of those conditions, involving 40 participants, and reported in a 1963 Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology paper.

“A lot of these narratives in the plays, songs, and so on are purporting to [give] an answer to the question” about human nature—“that the human condition is open to manipulation by external, pernicious powers, and that there is very little we can do to prevent that,” says Clifford Stott from the University of Leeds Security and Justice Research Group. “That’s clearly not the case.”

“We hear about the statistics and the data, and we hear about the drama, but we never hear about the experiments from the individual participant’s point-of-view,” Perry says.

And that’s exactly what this play does so well. Rather than focusing on this experimental result explicitly, “Please Continue” takes the audience into the minds of the teacher, learner, and experimenter, revealing the turmoil within each. While Basloe’s script deviates from actual events, it does so in service of a greater purpose—to humanize the emotions of all three participants, from the teacher’s reticence to the learner’s penitence and the experimenter’s unending curiosity about the reasons for others’ actions, and eventually, his own.

Psychologists still struggle to understand the many implications of the Milgram experiments. But to Perry’s mind, the continued cultural fascination with this research points to at least one justified truth about human nature. “We all want answers,” she says, which were just what Milgram’s team “seemed to offer.”

http://www.the-scientist.com//?articles.view/articleNo/39140/title/Review---Please-Continue-/

Agelbert NOTE: Clifford Stott from the University of Leeds Security and Justice Research Group must be funded by the MIC.
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A Cartoon about the 1% that Is NOT funny
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2014, 06:41:26 pm »
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Published on Monday, February 24, 2014 by Moyers & Company       

Anatomy of the Deep State: Beneath Veneer of Democracy, The Permanent Ruling Class

 
by Mike Lofgren   

"Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo." – The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)

"Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose."

There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. [1]

During the last five years, the news media has been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: In the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.

"Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose."

As I wrote in The Party is Over, the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (a goal that voter suppression laws in GOP-controlled states are clearly intended to accomplish). President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets: Because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. Democrats controlling the Senate have responded by weakening the filibuster of nominations, but Republicans are sure to react with other parliamentary delaying tactics. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.

Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, such as arranging the forced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory. Despite the habitual cant of congressional Republicans about executive overreach by Obama, the would-be dictator, we have until recently heard very little from them about these actions — with the minor exception of comments from gadfly Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, save a few mavericks such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, are not unduly troubled, either — even to the extent of permitting seemingly perjured congressional testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.

These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.


Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. [2]

How did I come to write an analysis of the Deep State, and why am I equipped to write it? As a congressional staff member for 28 years specializing in national security and possessing a top secret security clearance, I was at least on the fringes of the world I am describing, if neither totally in it by virtue of full membership nor of it by psychological disposition. But, like virtually every employed person, I became, to some extent, assimilated into the culture of the institution I worked for, and only by slow degrees, starting before the invasion of Iraq, did I begin fundamentally to question the reasons of state that motivate the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, “the deciders.”

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it’s 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: “You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?” No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.

I saw this submissiveness on many occasions. One memorable incident was passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation retroactively legalized the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance first revealed by The New York Times in 2005 and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: All that was required was the invocation of the word “terrorism” and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet. One who responded in that fashion was Senator Barack Obama, soon to be coronated as the presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He had already won the most delegates by campaigning to the left of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the excesses of the global war on terror and the erosion of constitutional liberties.

As the indemnification vote showed, the Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called “private enterprise” is an integral part of its operations. In a special series in The Washington Post called “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.

Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus’ expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy. [4]

Petraeus and most of the avatars of the Deep State — the White House advisers who urged Obama not to impose compensation limits on Wall Street CEOs, the contractor-connected think tank experts who besought us to “stay the course” in Iraq, the economic gurus who perpetually demonstrate that globalization and deregulation are a blessing that makes us all better off in the long run — are careful to pretend that they have no ideology. Their preferred pose is that of the politically neutral technocrat offering well considered advice based on profound expertise. That is nonsense. They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, whatever they might privately believe about essentially diversionary social issues such as abortion or gay marriage, they almost invariably believe in the “Washington Consensus”: financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. Internationally, they espouse 21st-century “American Exceptionalism”: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won international norms of civilized behavior. To paraphrase what Sir John Harrington said more than 400 years ago about treason, now that the ideology of the Deep State has prospered, none dare call it ideology. [5] That is why describing torture with the word “torture” on broadcast television is treated less as political heresy than as an inexcusable lapse of Washington etiquette: Like smoking a cigarette on camera, these days it is simply “not done.”

Go to the link below for the second half of this excellent article:


http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/02/24-0
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AGelbert

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...“just-world theory,” one that posits that not only do good people get what they deserve but those who suffer deserve to suffer. He says this model is “a warrant for inflicting pain.” If we continue down a path of mounting scarcities, along with economic stagnation or decline, this neoclassical model is ominous. It could be used to justify repression in an effort to sustain a vision that does not correspond to the real world.
Quote

He argued, citing John Kenneth Galbraith, that in affluent societies the relative contentment of the majorities has permitted, through free market ideology, the abandonment, impoverishment and repression of minorities, especially African-Americans. As larger and larger segments of society are forced because of declining economies to become outsiders, the use of coercion, under our current model, will probably become more widespread.


Quote
“Economics, political science and even philosophy, ever since rational choice swept through the American social sciences, have embraced the idea that an individual has no responsibility towards anyone except himself or herself,” he said. “A responsibility to anyone else is optional. The public discourse, for this reason, has become a hall of mirrors. Nothing anymore is what it seems to be.”

Quote

I think there is a sense in government and business that there is too much independence in academia. We need to be put in our place.
The spirit of free inquiry, free expression, and to some extent free teaching, and communality is alien to the corporate and political culture, which are repressive hierarchies.

Suffering? Well, You Deserve It

Posted on Mar 2, 2014

By Chris Hedges

OXFORD, England—The morning after my Feb. 20 debate at the Oxford Union, I walked from my hotel along Oxford’s narrow cobblestone streets, past its storied colleges with resplendent lawns and Gothic stone spires, to meet Avner Offer, an economic historian and Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History.

Offer, the author of “The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950,” for 25 years has explored the cavernous gap between our economic and social reality and our ruling economic ideology. Neoclassical economics, he says, is a “just-world theory,” one that posits that not only do good people get what they deserve but those who suffer deserve to suffer. He says this model is “a warrant for inflicting pain.” If we continue down a path of mounting scarcities, along with economic stagnation or decline, this neoclassical model is ominous. It could be used to justify repression in an effort to sustain a vision that does not correspond to the real world.

Offer, who has studied the rationing systems set up in countries that took part in World War I, suggests we examine how past societies coped successfully with scarcity. In an age of scarcity it would be imperative to set up new, more egalitarian models of distribution, he says. Clinging to the old neoclassical model could, he argues, erode and perhaps destroy social cohesion and require the state to engage in greater forms of coercion.

 “The basic conventions of public discourse are those of the Enlightenment, in which the use of reason [enabled] us to achieve human objectives,” Offer said as we sat amid piles of books in his cluttered office. “Reason should be tempered by reality, by the facts. So underlining this is a notion of science that confronts reality and is revised by reference to reality. This is the model for how we talk. It is the model for the things we assume. But the reality that has emerged around us has not come out of this process. So our basic conventions only serve to justify existing relationships, structures and hierarchies. Plausible arguments are made for principles that are incompatible with each other.”


Offer cited a concept from social psychology called the just-world theory. “A just-world theory posits that the world is just. People get what they deserve. If you believe that the world is fair you explain or rationalize away injustice, usually by blaming the victim.

“Major ways of thinking about the world constitute just-world theories,” he said. “The Catholic Church is a just-world theory. If the Inquisition burned heretics, they only got what they deserved. Bolshevism was a just-world theory. If Kulaks were starved and exiled, they got what they deserved. Fascism was a just-world theory. If Jews died in the concentration camps, they got what they deserved. The point is not that the good people get the good things, but the bad people get the bad things. Neoclassical economics, our principal source of policy norms, is a just-world theory.”

Offer quoted the economist Milton Friedman: “The ethical principle that would directly justify the distribution of income in a free market society is, ‘To each according to what he and the instruments he owns produces.’ ”

“So,” Offer went on, “everyone gets what he or she deserves, either for his or her effort or for his or her property. No one asks how he or she got this property. And if they don’t have it, they probably don’t deserve it. The point about just-world theory is not that it dispenses justice, but that it provides a warrant for inflicting pain.”

“Just-world theories are models of reality,” he said. “A rough and ready test is how well the model fits with experienced reality. When used to derive policy, an economic model not only describes the world but also aspires to change it. In policy, if the model is bad, then reality has to be forcibly aligned with it by means of coercion. How much coercion is actually used provides a rough measure of a model’s validity. That the Soviet Union had to use so much coercion undermined the credibility of communism as a model of reality. It is perhaps symptomatic that the USA, a society that elevates freedom to the highest position among its values, is also the one that has one of the very largest penal systems in the world relative to its population. It also inflicts violence all over the world. It tolerates a great deal of gun violence, and a health service that excludes large numbers of people.”

“There are two core doctrines in economics,” Offer said. “One is individual self-interest. The other is the invisible hand, the idea that the pursuit of individual self-interest aggregates or builds up for the good of society as a whole. This is a logical proposition that has never been proven. If we take the centrality of self-interest in economics, then it is not clear on what basis economics should be promoting the public good. This is not a norm that is part of economics itself; in fact, economics tells us the opposite. Economics tells us that everything anyone says should be motivated by strategic self-interest. And when economists use the word ‘strategic’ they mean cheating.”


Last two pages at link:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/suffering_well_you_deserve_it_20140302


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World's Food Systems Needs Complete Overhaul Toward Democracy, DiversitySustainableBusiness.com News
One of the important, positive trends we're seeing is growing food closer to home and in cities that often means rooftop farms.

In Japan, a leading railroad, East Japan Railway, is turning the roofs of train stations across the country - starting with five in Tokyo - into urban farms. Commuters can weed while they wait for the train or pick some vegies on their way home. And when they rent a space, they are provided with everything they need - tools, water, and even seeds. They even have professional staff who will help you learn how to garden. Anyone can rent a space, but depending on its size and location, it can be pricey - as much as $960 a year.


UN Calls for Overhaul of World's Food System

This is probably one of the things the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has in mind in his provocative report that calls for a complete overhaul of the world's food system, starting with the move to local, sustainable farming.

After six years of visiting more than a dozen countries, Olivier De Schutter says that democracy and diversity is the key to eradicating hunger and malnutrition. It is achievable, but the current system works only to maximize profits for big agribusinesses.

Currently the "one-dimensional quest to produce more food" crowds out systems that would support small farmers that produce culturally diverse foods that sustain the soil and water and provide food security, especially to people in vulnerable areas.

It might be built from the bottom-up, based on meeting the ability of the smallholder's ability to thrive, he says. That means working at the level of villages, regions, cities, and municipalities.
He urges cities to take food security into their own hands because by 2050 more than 6 billion people will live in cities. Cities must identify and overcome logistical challenges in their food supply chains."

These efforts, however, have to be supported by national and international policies. The World Trade Organization, for example, must not get in the way, for example.

"Wealthy countries must move away from export-driven agricultural policies and leave space instead for small-scale farmers in developing countries to supply local markets," he says. "They must also restrain their expanding claims on global farmland by reining in the demand for animal feed and agrofuels, and by reducing food waste."

This is one more reason why NAFTA and the trade pacts under negotiation are taking the world in the wrong direction.



Read our article, How Community Fisheries Save Fish and Local Economies.

Read the report:

Website: www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/officialreports/20140310_finalreport_en.pdf

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25629
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8 Things Mainstream Media Doesn't Have the Courage to Tell You ( BECAUSE   
)  News sources speak for the 5%.
 
April 6, 2014   |   

 
The following are all relevant, fact-based issues, the "hard news" stories that the media has a responsibility to report. But the business-oriented press generally avoids them.

1. U.S. Wealth Up $34 Trillion Since Recession. 93% of You Got Almost None of It.

That's an average of $100,000 for every American. But the people who already own most of the stocks took almost all of it. For them, the average gain was well over a million dollars -- tax-free as long as they don't cash it in. Details available here.


2. Eight Rich Americans Made More Than 3.6 Million Minimum Wage Workers

A recent report stated that no full-time minimum wage worker in the U.S. can afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental at fair market rent. There are 3.6 million such workers, and their total (combined) 2013 earnings is less than the 2013 stock market gains of just eight Americans, all of whom take more than their share from society: the four Waltons, the two Kochs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.


3. News Sources Speak for the 5%

It would be refreshing to read an honest editorial: "We dearly value the 5 to 7 percent of our readers who make a lot of money and believe that their growing riches are helping everyone else."

Instead, the business media seems unable to differentiate between the top 5 percent and the rest of society. The Wall Street Journalexclaimed, "Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before," and then went on to sputter: "What Recession?...The economy has bounced back from recession, unemployment has declined.."

The Chicago Tribune may be even further out of touch with its less privileged readers, asking them: "What's so terrible about the infusion of so much money into the presidential campaign?"


4. TV News Dumbed Down for American Viewers


A 2009 survey by the European Journal of Communication compared the U.S. to Denmark, Finland, and the UK in the awareness and reporting of domestic vs. international news, and of 'hard' news (politics, public administration, the economy, science, technology) vs. 'soft' news (celebrities, human interest, sport and entertainment). The results:

-- Americans [are] especially uninformed about international public affairs.
-- American respondents also underperformed in relation to domestic-related hard news stories.

-- American television reports much less international news than Finnish, Danish and British television;
-- American television network newscasts also report much less hard news than Finnish and Danish television.

Surprisingly, the report states that "our sample of American newspapers was more oriented towards hard news than their counterparts in the European countries." Too bad Americans are reading less newspapers.


5. News Execs among White Male Boomers Who Owe Trillions to Society


The hype about the "self-made man" is fantasy. In the early 1970s, we privileged white males were spirited out of college to waiting jobs in management and finance, technology was inventing new ways for us to make money, tax rates were about to tumble, and visions of bonuses and capital gains danced in our heads.

While we were in school the Defense Department had been preparing the Internet for Microsoft and Apple, the National Science Foundation was funding the Digital Library Initiative research that would be adopted as the Google model, and the National Institute of Health was doing the early laboratory testing for companies like Merck and Pfizer. Government research labs and public universities trained thousands of chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production line workers, market analysts, testers, troubleshooters, etc., etc.

All we created on our own was a disdainful attitude, like that of Steve Jobs: "We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."


6. Funding Plummets for Schools and Pensions as Corporations Stop Paying Taxes


Three separate studies have shown that corporations pay less than half of their required state taxes, which are the main source of K-12 educational funding and a significant part of pension funding. Most recently, the report "The Disappearing Corporate Tax Base" found that the percentage of corporate profits paid as state income taxes has dropped from 7 percent in 1980 to about 3 percent today.


7. Companies Based in the U.S. Paying Most of their Taxes Overseas


Citigroup had 42% of its 2011-13 revenue in North America (almost all U.S.) and made $32 billion in profits, but received a U.S. current income tax benefit all three years.

Pfizer had 40% of its 2011-13 revenues and nearly half of its physical assets in the U.S., but declared almost $10 billion in U.S. losses to go along with nearly $50 billion in foreign profits.

In 2013 Exxon had about 43% of management, 36% of sales, 40% of long-lived assets, and 70-90% of its productive oil and gas wells in the U.S., yet only paid about 2 percent of its total income in U.S. income taxes, and most of that was something called a "theoretical" tax.


8. Restaurant Servers Go Without Raise for 30 Years

An evaluation by Michelle Chen showed that the minimum wage for tipped workers has been approximately $2 an hour since the 1980s. She also notes that about 40 percent of these workers are people of color, and about two-thirds are women.



Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, a writer for progressive publications, and the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org)

http://www.alternet.org/comments/media/10-years-after-iraq-disaster-rumsfeld-documentary-reveals-what-unaccountable-slippery-bastard
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What would be your main suggestions in raising awareness to the 8 points you mentioned? The big problem I see is many people especially those in the United States believe the basic memes of capitalism and that the US is a meritocratic society. People who reach the top genuinely deserve to be rich while those who are poor are on some level damaged. Any environmental factors such as parents income, education and social networks are understated factors while factors of personal achievement and hard work are overstated. What is another notable variable is time as your success or ease of opportunities is also depend on what era you were born in. For example moving ahead as a young person is harder today than say 50 years ago when more high paying jobs per person was higher and in general social mobility was more easily achieved.

While there maybe a gradual recognition that the American dream is no longer true the connection between being poor and lazy is stronger than ever. More significant perhaps is the fact that the rich tend to be held in high esteem regardless of how that money is earned. While people may scoff at oilmen just imagine if you were the CEO of Exxon. I bet any website you wrote or forum you started would command a lot of respect because you were a successful outstanding citizen. If rich people are rewarded so handsomely both financially, socially and politically how will society reverse its behaviour?

AGelbert

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monsta666

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M,
I hear ya.  :( How about his idea? If only...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rtySUhuokM&feature=player_embedded

Great video. Now one of the things I have observed when engaging various US media articles or Americans is there seems to be this deep seeded belief that the government is bad corrupt, incompetent and generally a waste of space. Now I am not saying such views do not exist in Europe but I feel it is a much more common thought in the US than other regions. The problem with this line of thinking is that while governments and bureaucracy can be corrupt and inefficient the assumption is that private companies and corporations in-particular are not subject to the same problems.

The area where this issue is most prominent is that of free speech. Lots of Americans make a lot of noise about free speech and feel the government must allow lest it leads to corruption and worse. These feelings however are not often extended to private companies. It is much more acceptable for the media to practice censorship under the reasoning that the company in question owns the medium it is publishing thus it can censor as much as it deems necessary. Now the problem I see here is that if the media can be censored or altered to the owners whims then the question becomes how can the companies and government be monitored? The whole process of free speech will be undermined due to a lack of oversight. Now this is but one example. The take home point in this example is the fact that our expectations of what the government can do and what private ownership is allowed to do is quite different. Due to a fundamental mistrust of government we set a much higher standard and stigma to its various functions however when it comes to private entities our expectations diminish and accountability is much lower due to a great deal of misplaced trust.

The elephant that is missed and it is a big elephant is that it is a universally recognised truth that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Since power is the ability to control people then it follows that the larger any organisation becomes the more likely it is corrupt as the controllers has the ability to control a larger pool of people. This phenomenon applies to private AND public institutions yet it is largely only public institutions were this corruption is recognised and scrutiny applied. This is one of the fundamental problems.

The second issue I see here is that the function of a sound government is it should represent the views of the poorer people. I say this because in most societies the rich will always have greater resources to represent their needs so the countermeasure to this inequality is that the government must represent people who lack the financial means of protecting their rights on an individual level. If a government cannot meet and address the needs of the common man then the government has become dysfunctional. The problem people have is quite often they think if there is little government then the rich and poor can push their wants in equal measure. The fact is in those scenarios - at least on a historic basis - is that the rich will bulldoze over the poor and you will get great social tension. In a way government policies is like vaccines in the sense that over time people have forgotten the great benefits and can only remember the side-effects. Thus people take for granted the benefits these policies bring and focus on the bad points which while noticeable are considerably smaller than the lack of policy/vaccines. Benefit abuse is bad but imagine a society with no welfare social safety net. It will be a return of seeing many poorer families on the streets with kids and all.     

Finally the final myth that is promoted is this idea of independence or the rugged individual. What people need to understand is true independence is next to impossible to achieve and in nearly all occasions we are dependent on others for our welfare either through subsidies of various kinds or other measures (such as exploitation of others/environment). Even if we were to ignore the various subsidies that make your life possible the dependency still exists because you are still dependent on an income to fund your lifestyle. If you lose your job/business that independence will quickly disappear. When the word independent is used what people really mean is you have an income that is sufficient to make you financially independent. To achieve true independence however you would need to lead a lifestyle which you can provide for your needs without an income. Historically this has been very difficult to achieve.

This should lead us to the idea and recognition that we are inter-dependent on each other and there is no crime in being dependent. In many ways the atomised way of living we have today is largely a by-product of our high energy fossil fuel lifestyle were machines have replaced the need for labour. In the future we will depend more on people and community for our needs so this attitude of rugged individualism must be displaced by more communal living arrangements which can only come if we acknowledge the fact people are in fact inter-dependent and there is no crime in that. The main point people should understand is people should pull their weight and everyone should have the opportunity to show they can pull their weight (many segments are denied even the opportunity to prove themselves). Rugged individualism societies (if attempted) will be failures and the power of team spirit and community needs to be embraced.

 

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