Monday, April 28, 2008

The most crippling and insidious belief, among peace activists

>>From: Tom A. said Feb 13, 2008
>>Subject: Conversational activism during political campaigns
>>I have a question for all of us:
>> What have we done -- or are thinking of doing -- or would love to
>> see done -- to bring dialogue and/or deliberation and/or the
>> spirit of shared exploration and creativity to the political
>> process during election campaigns? [ and so forth... Democrat unity]

The most crippling and insidious belief, among peace activists is that we ourselves must be more peaceful, and create a more peaceful culture by example of our speech and action. Making ourselves and our neighbors more peaceful and obedient is never going to stop the 5% of Americans at the opposite end of the scale, who make up the war industry, who foment and execute wars as a way of life. They will simply continue to ignore you, even if you become a perfect angel. They don't *need* us for anything.

It helps if you conceptualize war, and warmaking, as a crime, perpetrated by criminals, who need to be stopped by somebody. Conceive of this as the wild west, where there is no law to restrain them and no agency capable of enforcing the law. But starting wars is certainly a crime against humanity.

Another crippling and insidious belief, almost universal in the peace movement, is that stopping wars has something to do with reducing injustice, remedying the causes of injustice, etc. Folks. The people who START wars are the most powerful, the richest and privileged people in our society. Not the victims.

The people of the 3rd world almost invariably, adjust to subjugation, and work harder, and do not fight. The U.S. war machine includes the military industrial complex, i.e. the permanent swarm of special interest lobbyists around the armed services committees, pentagon and military suppliers. The war machine includes the beneficiary industryes like finance, oil and global trade. It includes the mass cult phenomenon of the war churches and their hugely funded pastors and brainwashing facilities.

If you want to stop wars, then, you cannot avoid observing WHO exactly is causing the wars. you cannot avoid your responsibility to confront and argue with those people. Here is a high level diagram. on my website.

Our activism to stop wars involves identifying the people and organizations who start wars. Wars are caused by some rotten sons of b*tches who work all day long to start them, for their own enrichment or in some cases, just to satisfy other urges, their egos or ideologies. Here is a 4-minute speech in which I list for you, the people who start wars:

When antiwar activists stop meeting privately, and participate in the public dialog, we will *begin* to be effective. Most of us have never been leaders, never given speeches or debated in public. By now, after 5 years of war, we are much better educated, and many of us are ready to speak to our city council, school board, party caucuses and districts meetings, PTAs, professional organizations, and business assoiations--whatever you do, you must take the battle up to the microphone, in those groups--ALONE.

Stop waiting for somebody to come help you. It ain't gonna happen.

Stop training and educating peace activists.

Now, here is some ammo, to help focus the conversation. WE must begin a conversation with the public, with a statement of the problem, and provide a theory as to the causes of that problem, and recommended actions which gain control over those causes and stop them.

The physical definition of war is the indiscriminate killing, bombs dropping and bullets flying, and we say: this is a problem. There can be no license, no rationalization for killing hundreds of thousands of people, as the United States has done so many times since WW2- never for self defense. Always for some excuses.

Even people who are not a pacifists agree that random violence is wrong, and killing innocent people is wrong. Beyond that, most people seem to think war is fine and don't give it much thought, but if you get them talking they think the artillery, bombs and bullets and flames should hit "the enemy" and not the women and children and non- combatants, refugees etc. Well, 90% of the dead have been noncombatants. Peace activists know this but the general public does not.

The physical series of events that controls war are, the permanent funding that maintains the military, and the one-time event of the president and congress, starting wars (All U.S. wars since at least 1941 have been unilateral aggressions by the U.S. in other words, optional wars)

The physical cause of those senators' behavior, like Cantwell, voting for war, is their character and mentality.

These senators, in turn are allowed to seize the powers of office by winning elections.

Voters' behavior, in turn, is caused by their beliefs and desires, and their spending decisions of voters which give power to particular corporations, who then pay for media propaganda.

Now, getting to the point of this--- Wars cannot be stopped by trying to protest the onset of a particular war. Iraq, and the next wars as well, are a matter of fate and destiny as long as the Congress is filled with people who tolerate and accept and start wars. The present congress is NOT ONE BIT DIFFERENT from the Congress of 2002, or 1992 or 1982 in that regard.

The beliefs and the desires of the mass population are caused by the institutions of mass culture-- the media, the schools, and the pulpit, and some lesser ones like libraries, political associations, fraternal organizations, unions, etc.. These are *much* lesser, by factor of 1000.

This brings me back to the original asssertion: Peace activists will not be successful in ending wars, until their time and money and attention and work, is redirected away from things which are merely useful and good. Instead, their time and resources must be poured into actions which are NECESSARY and SUFFICIENT components in stopping the systemic processs that causes wars.

The root causes of war are the propensity of voters to tolerate and rationalize war, to take and enjoy profits from exploiting other peoples in the world, and of course to elect the warmakers.

These beliefs and desires were emplaced by the power of money over the mass media and the pulpit, which in turn, promote harmful lies and ideologies in the public schools.

Since we are so few, and we have no money or power over the local pastor, media corporations, or schools, our most effective action is our mouth. Speak out, name names, condemn the immorality and greed and cruelty of those people in our city who profit from war and who promote war in so many ways. The absolute top culprits in the Puget Sound region are the paycheck patrioits themselves-- the bases commiunities. The military itself, whose fulltime occupation and career are killing for money. In second place I would name Boeing executives and managers, in all their product lines-- even those which are nominally civilian such as the 737 program. They all drink from the cup of pentagon dollars, in fact their survival in the airplane market has always been subsidized by profits on weapons programs. In 3rd place of course are the oil and energy industry, and the banking, finance and investment industry. I also condemn University of Washington for its military contracts. And finally, the war churches-- the megachurches who have hosted Dick Cheney, supported the invasion of Iraq from day one, and are the source of the teen and twenties population of violent rightwing youth, as well as the college republicans.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Taxing the Rich is not just about money

Progressive taxation is the application of progressively higher rates on higher levels of income or assets.

For the case on progressive property taxes see Jeff Smith's work at I would just add that until people understand that "property" is itself, a takings from the commons without compensation, they're unlikely to agree to give anything back to society for the privilege of excluding everybody from their fictional boundaries. The larceny is repeated every time a house is sold. The seller receives a big payment and walks away, while, all of the neighbors and citizens whose ability to use or benefit from the property were impaired, and sold, receive nothing. Like most other transactions in a capitalist economy, most of what is being sold does not belong to the seller in the first place.

But I'm writing to make a more important point.

We have to apply higher rates of income tax to higher levels of income, not only for the sake of economic justice but to reduce the incentives for a wide range of destructive and antisocial behaviors.

Corporate executives, of course, run the world today. These greedy power holders inflict *all of the harms* on the planet. Powerholders inflict all harms, through their mismanagement and mis-leading and exploitation of the common people, globally. I say, they are responsible. I say, the condition of the planet is not an accident.

We have a wonderfully effective market system and global economy that manages every damned thing to 5 nines. We have a globally integrated supply chain, and finance. This is operated by millions of MBAs, tens of millions of lawyers and accountants, and a hundred million totally obedient software people, telecoms people, and clerks. Obedient to their bosses of course, not customers as falsely portrayed in our school textbooks.

This economy is overcentralized. It is a producer-sovereign, rather than consumer sovereign. It is not operated to serve native demand, but rather, it's operated deliberately by powerholders for their particular interests.

Now, we are tired of losing this endless, complicated chess game with corporations. The common people seem to chase one policy issue after another. Most often these are not the "prime mover" issues but are only band-aids.

The "economy" works pretty well. It is extremely agile and reorganizes itself very dynamically. Don't wait for another crash like the 1930s. Look for example at 1987 and other events in which, with all their networks and computers the whole global economy digested the collapse in financial markets and rationalized them and rebooted itself in about 2 or 3 days. Like 911, hundreds of $Billions of ownership was taken by global powerholders, from other powerholders. The losers went off licking their wounds and hardly a word was ever revealed in the papers.

Well, the prime mover behind all these crazy and criminal behaviors, ranging from a military industrial complex to global environmental destruction, the destruction of the global gene pool with GMOs, etc. is the greedy few at the top. Those most cunning, long of fang, fleet of foot.

If the possibility of making more than say, $500,000 per year is removed by steep tax rates, then all these sick, tyrannical types will have to satisfy themselves running sports club franchises etc. instead of having us all worked to death in factories and killing each other in real wars.

I think you need a continuous progressive slope starting at the median income of the population (zero tax for half of the population) and with a straight line up to 100% confiscatory taxation at around ten times the median income. And it is universally agreed, on the left as well as the right, that when tax rates get really high, there is a disincentive to "work". This is exactly the goal of progressive taxation. We don't want the insatiable, the greedy, doing that kind of "work", which is really theft.

One of the systemic problems in WA is the continual in-migration of high income and high-wealth individuals.

It undermines our society. You can only absorb so many of that kind of person before they start taking over the whole state by their power to buy elections, and dismantling schools and social services, turning the state into a Florida, which is a great place for owning a yacht, but sheer hell for everybody else.

This is the same thing we see in national politics: the ultra-wealthy, intent on nothing other than tax cuts, support Bush and Cheney, regardless of any other consequences... such as the Iraq war. In fact, they promote war ideology that they don't even believe, just to keep Bush in office, just to get the tax cuts.

Ron Sims' effort to raise an income tax in the State of Washington was a campaign which could win, in the future, with proper voter education. And at one fell swoop, chase away a lot of billionnaires and their lobbying, and protect social services for the long term.

We don't need government to guide and enable business. We have a market economy for that.

The function of government is to meet human needs and goals of society that markets leave unmet.

Caring for the sick and the elderly, educating the young, maintaining all things of the commons, the roads, law and order-- all these sorts of things. Will private enterprise handle these? No. Will charity handle them? That's a myth. The poor, the sick, mentally ill, were lucky to find a basement or barn or a crust of bread.

When business boosters show up in the congress or legislature, or the winners of great fortunes in the marketplace not wanting to pay taxes, wanting to dismantle social services they're dismantling the very purpose of having a government in the first place. A government does not exist to protect the privileges of the wealthy, to the contrary that has been done all too well by "the private sector."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Make sure the public never forgets Obama's pledge, just in case he wins: One Brigade A Month, all troops out within 16 months.

My friends. This is a battle worth joining. Obama's commitment is a substantially better deal for us, than Hillary, or, obviously McCain.

But I am not recommending joining the Obama campaign. Please think about this, with me.

Obama's position is so much different, that it would literally decide our destiny, to shut the permanent bases in Iraq, or not. Here is the truth, whether you like it or not:

The O.B.A.M plan is under attack by broad segments of the rightwing, everybody from tax cutters to corporate lobbyists who would lose if Obama wins. Your urgent task the next 6 months, is to stand up in every public forum and smash the war position, and anybody foolish enough taking public positions in support of the Iraq occupation, war, or militarism.

The war hawks are trying to hide from the general public right now, but they continue building massive support in their captive audiences in the churches, rightwing radio and TV, and school districts they control. Basically, we have to stand up and assault the pro-war position so sharply that the war people have to either stand up and take a licking, or remain silent and surrender on the issue.

Ironically, on this particular issue, *we* own the public forums, the political caucuses and conventions, the microphone in city county and state legislatures, school boards, city councils, commissions of all kinds. The general public is extraordinarily opposed to the occupation right now. We must go into all these forums aggressively speaking out, leafletting, attacking the legitimacy of the occupation and the people who lied us into this war. We must attack the immorality of killing, the illegality of occupation of nonbelligerent countries, the $3 billion per day of military spending, and the most fundamental lie, the GWOT. There is no unusual terrorist threat, we have been working for the last 50 years to defuse the nuclear threat and Bush has reneged on ABM and NNPT! Ghastly.

Those of you who say you're antiwar, but won't put in the time and personal capital to attend local politics, are betraying the movement. Now is our time. Now is the hour for accountability. The war people are goin' down.

Join in the fun, even if you don't care about the morality, or the legality, or the fiscal trainwreck, or the dollar collapse, or the political blowback against the empire.


ps. Make sure the public never forgets Obama's pledge: One Brigade A Month, All out within 16 months.

Bring Our Troops Home: Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mid-april, busy times in Seattle

The Dalai Lama came to Seattle this week. The buses I rode this weekend were crowded with people going to the local corporate baseball stadium, Qwest Field for a mass swarming. These people's clothing, makeup, and behaviors were distinctly mega-church.

Well, Americans job is not to change the behavior of the Chinese government in Tibet. Americans' job is to restrain our own government's wars and aggressions, by getting out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other occupied lands.

The Green Festival also came to Seattle this week. Heaving crowds filled the Convention Center, hundreds of vendor booths, and something over fifty speeches and presentations. There was actually some talk about war and militarism. Some of the speakers put in some words. John Perkins, Amy Goodman, David Korten...

I went there to videotape the talks but the Green Festival people had already decided on some sort of exclusive arrangement, and were not allowing filming. I stuck with the 2 minute rule half the day, Saturday then saw Ed Mays shooting entire talks by Perkins, Thom Hartman, etc. so I shot a few, too. David Korten for example spoke to a packed hall of 300 people. These 4 breakout rooms didn't even have *any* cameras running. To me that is a crime against the commons, for the Festival to ban cameras and then not even film it themselves. (They announced, they would distribute audio thru their website, which is good.).

Want to find the cause of the war in Iraq? And how the power elite controls our lives? Look in your wallet. Take everything out of your wallet and burn it. Or stay on the plantation. Simple as that. The dollar economy is a monolithic thing. You have to become dead weight --a drag on the dollar system, a system out of control that no longer serves humanity.

Today thru Wednesday is the unmoney convergence conference in Seattle, which addresses this in a more concrete way. Alternatives to the legal tender, as Tom Greco describes it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The work ethic is unethical

Why We Quit. Civilian conscientious objectors

The human species, surely, has some inborn characteristics that endure over time frames of thousands of years. Our human nature is not so far from us -- it is accessible to anybody in touch with their own body and mind. It screams out to us through the desires and aversions we feel.

For example I'm a 55 year old guy. My nature tells me to drop everything about once a day, and walk out the door and bicycle or run across the landscape, for an hour or more. The exercise seems to balance my blood chemistry. The movement seems to satisfy some craving or curiosity to investigate the area.

During the dark, winter months my body tells me to curl up in a warm bed and sleep a lot-- sometimes 12 hours a day including naps.

The social order around us, obviously does not operate by the same instincts. I see a political economy run by a bunch of over-amped power trippers, and a vast population of employees apparently satisfied to do whatever instructions they're told, however useless or absurd, up to and including the war in Iraq.

Truly, there is a lot of useless commotion across the physical landscape. Needlessly large vehicles rush around, dominate the whole region with a continual roar of noise.

The only thing we really need is a wholesome diet-- it is a scientific fact that 90% of the GDP is not necessary for our biological needs. Our food needs are satisfied by less than 10% of the workforce. The other 36 hours of our 40 hours of work is art. Whimsy. We could be doing *anything*. Or nothing.

What's in the skyscrapers downtown, truly, is useless commotion - people struggling for control over the material outputs of a globally integrated economy. People, persuading, selling, manipulating and inducing and compelling other people to do things. Marketing, law, software and financial services, the accounting, the insurance, the brokers, holding companies, and corporate suites. Ask the people. Many of them openly admit their occupations are fundamentally obsolete, or corrupt, or at best unnecessary.

As a CPA for 20 years I came to realize the profession was essentially corrupt. It is a racket, which has captured the naming and semantics for tax and reporting, appointing themselves as the monopoly provider of the "truth".

My work was unnecessary in the real economy and involved only the allocation of economic resources among the powerful. Everybody wanted to recharacterize their business dealings as something else. A tax client wants every payment to be deductible, and every deposit to be nontaxable. Corporate executives want every payment to be an asset and every project to appear profitable.

Downtown Seattle contributes less than nothing to the production of goods and services. Organization, scheduling, and coordination of human is essential, and downtowns once were necessary. Acres of clerks and typists processed information.

Today however, all necessary mental work is done by computers -- all of the routine inventory, accounting, payrolls, scheduling, logistics, are all done effortlessly-- and could be even more effortless. Today's mental workers are exactly the same as earlier generations of laborers replaced by machinery. Machines of course have progressively taken over much physical work.

Many of the older, more experienced software professionals also recognize the obsolescence and harmfulness of most of today's management processes. When a barcode scan at the cash register can adjust every inventory, shipping and manufacturing schedule all the way back to the raw material suppliers, why do we need a concentration of skyscrapers downtown, let alone, to expand freeways and bridges?

Today's downtown, full of useless entrenched bureaucracies, in control of all of the earth's commons, permits no activity unless there's a way to collect rents or fees. Negatively, it prevents outbreaks of competing ways of doing anything that cannot be captured. Positively, it controls everything it posesses to maximize the gains and avoid all costs and responsibilities.

The real estate bubble and its related financial industry roars at full speed in this state, destroying our environment and saddling future generations with an unsustainable sprawl. Weapons of mass construction. By contrast, Asian cities permit subdividing into small lots, such as 20 by 30 feet, with 3 or 4 story buildings on it. Do the math, how much cheaper this would be!

There are excess resources in the urban economy, and ethical ways to get them. The economy is racing like a buzzsaw through all the resources of the planet - a motor racing without a governor. We have a duty at some point to be satisfied. To quit producing and consuming. Quitting is the only ethical thing to do. The work ethic is unethical.

Humanity learned the "work ethic" thing during the agrarian and industrial revolutions. But now it is as inappropriate as tribal mores were, during the industrial age. In fact, the people in those skyscrapers have long abandoned the work ethic. They have learned to avoid work and maximize takings. That is the business ethic. It is intrinsic to market economies, that you seek "the best deals."

My adaptation is: just quit, and mooch. Be a lazy, deadweight MF.

The Iraq war, and the military industrial complex, are the last straw, for me. I burned my CPA license and consider myself a conscientious objector. I've been thru this too many times already. The Vietnam war, the Reagan wars, the Gulf war. I'm tired of obeying the orders of unfit bosses and dictators. Are we such sheep? I will work no more forever. Or, at least, as long as there is a handout.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Transit solution: smaller roads beget smaller vehicles

I have ridden trains and subways in major cities most of my adult life. And now Metro/ST buses.

Mass transit can never be an optimal solution because it can never serve point-to-point, and it can never be timely. It always serves only a line, whereas, the surface of the earth is a plane. This is math literacy, isn't it?

I hate todays cars. But the ultimate solution will be more like a car, than mass transit.

Cities and states should impose a standard such as, your car must fit through a 5x5 foot goalpost to get on the road, and the max weight maybe 1000 pounds loaded. This allows a massive breakthru in lower cost vehicles, lower fuel and mainenance costs. Quieter vehicles with small hard wheels. Twice as many lanes on every street. Cheaper roads, tunnels and overpasses that look like pedestrian overpasses. The end of congestion. Tiny parking spaces, including automation of parking, automation of the roadways, greater safety. A 4x4 freight pallet rolls along nicely, through a 5x5 channel. Two people side by side. Several rows of seats. Or a cargo bay, the size of a twin- sized mattress.

Everybody in the transit business knows this. So do the auto industry. But they are a heavy political/industrial complex, just as bad as the telecomm industry, the banking industry, or the military sector. Small vehicles use LESS steel, LESS fuel, LESS repairs, LESS highway dollars, LESS of everything. and MORE political enemies. get it? You end up re-examining capitalism itself.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Concentrated Benefit, Dispersed Cost, and Progressive taxation

The only fair tax system is a net income tax based on progressively higher rates on high income ---and VERY high rates on very high incomes.

We are living in a mature, post-industrial economy with extensive telecom and computing. This is mostly a state-managed economy, in which the state-managed sectors capture the economic surplus of even the unincorporated sectors.

The dynamics of this economy are NOT the same as Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx. Economies of scale alone, demolished competition in many industries. Those industries collapsed disastrously into monopoly, a situation only barely restrained by antitrust laws to oligopoly in most industries.

We find that a principle of concentrated benefit and distributed costs (the special interest problem) afflicts ALL large organizations whether political, economic. Those with the most at stake work hardest to influence decision processes, while it is uneconomic and essentially impossible for the affected population to participate in every decisions.

The behavior of corporate executives and boards is one of the more visible examples of this law in action. They seize unearned wealth from customers, suppliers, workers and the community, by the power they exercise.

We find externality costs to be almost universal in a market economy system based on private contract. Although the magnitude varies greatly, the aggregate of all the externalities is quite material, surpassing the value of the measured economy.

We are finding that information economics make it impossible for meaningful competition in many markets, from presidential choices to branded online services. The concentration of power provides resources necessary for better decision support by the largest actors and first movers. First mover advantage allows firms such as ebay in the auction domain to capture nearly their entire market. Game theoretic actions, guided by OODA analysis, change facts on the ground in ways the opponent cannot overcome.

These problems are mitigated by a progressive income tax in two ways. First, it provides the economic resources necessary to redress inequity of unearned wealth stolen from society by the powerful. Second, by reducing the extreme rewards available from antisocial behavior, it disincents that behavior in the first place.

Of course there are direct measures that mitigate externalities- but until the structure of markets and contract law are changed in much more fundamental ways, progressive income tax is about the only way to prevent the largest companies and most game theoretic people in the marketplace from progressively capturing the entire economic surplus of society.