Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Watching Morning Joe

More spent in three days to support the American military establishment than spent on development aid for Africa in a year.

More money has gone into CEO bonuses on Wall Street than the entire world has invested in Africa in a year.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A "Lily" For Our Time

I heard that Congress is flummoxed about what to do in the midst of the financial crisis. They don't know what to do.

It's a whole new game, they say. They don't know the rules.

That's ironic. Of course they don't know the rules. Congresses abolished a lot of the rules and that's why we are where we are. As one commentator put it, the financial world has had no grownups in charge for a while. We used to know how to put real value on financial instruments--you had third parties do it it instead of the people who used the instruments to convince other people to lend them (or give them) money based on that value.

"Well, you know, this here piece of paper is worth a lot of money--cause I say it is."

There's a good start--stop that nonsense.

Just start by going back and looking at the oversight that has been abolished.

This is not a new game. It's a very old game.

The game is called, now "privatizing profit and socializing loss."

My old Daddie used to call it "everyone wants socialism for themselves and free enterprise for everyone else."

And the Republican leadership in Congress is saying that we should all be concerned the size and the frequency of these bail outs.

Sigh. That's why the "Lily" goes, today, to Republicans in Congress. Cynicism on a stick.

When Republicans thought we were over run by crime they didn't wonder whether it was a good idea to pour all those resources into cops and prisons--they were were worried by what is was they said made all those cops and prisons "necessary:" crime.

We should, yes, be concerned about the size and frequency of these bail outs and I think the place to concentrate our concern is on how these became necessary. They became necessary because the ideology of the freedom in the market place displaced the ideology of responsibility and sound financial judgment. And that didn't happen by accident. People made a bundle on making it happen.

How could anyone possibly think that the way to financial strength was letting people make money by creating transactions between people who had money to loan and people who could never repay those loans and then make more money selling the right to collect on those bad loans to someone else?

They couldn't think that, of course. What they really thought was about the campaign contributions they would get from the people they let do that. And now that it's gone gunny-bag they want us to think that the issue is how we get out of the hole they put us in--not about the hole, how they put us in it and how we stay out of another one it the future.

I wonder who will accept the Lily on behalf the the free market ideologues? Herbert? Is Friend Hoover in the house? If not, call the McCain campaign. They have a couple of guys there who were very helpful in creating this climate of letting predators be predators and the prey be, well, prey. Prey--predators call those people "whiners."

The risk of failure was separated from the people making the transactions. I make money doing this and then sell the situation (known, technically, as a time bomb) to someone else. When the whole system goes down I may have to pay a little bit of what I made back to recover from the catastrophe but not as much as I made creating it. And the people I sold the loans to--and the people I got into the loans--will be right there with me paying more taxes to restore stability. They lost everything and they have to pay to recreate the system while I--who made a bundle on their losing--have to pay a lot less than I made to pay my "fair share" in the recovery.

My end of paying the recovery is smaller than what I made and everyone else--after losing so much, has to pay even more.

Is this a great country or what?

It's called "capitalism" and that's how it works.

Uh-oh. People might start to say I'm engaging in class warfare.

Another good question, this one from Barney Frank: how is it than in our "democracy" one person has the power to decide whether or not to loan $85 billion dollars of tax payer money to an insurance company, and to decided, in his own discretion, what the terms will be?

I don't know that it's a bad idea. But perhaps it's a warning to not let things get this way, again. What's gonna happen if someone finds out of that his brother in law runs the company he decided we should all bail out? (in a way, by the way, his brother in law does--his class brother in law).

And now that I think of it, when Congress gave the power to do that, how much was that like giving George Bush the power to go war if, in his sole discretion, he wanted to do that?

How many times can Congress be talked into giving people so much power? I guess the answer is as many times as they get scared into doing it.

And they were right to be scared, in both circumstances, because both the foreign and financial policies in which we have been engaging for a long time could not help to lead, regardless of short term gain for some of us, to long term disaster for all of us.

You can't be a Quaker and not know that. You can't be a human being with a moral compass--other than making money by exploiting others--and not know that. Which, I guess, explains why so many people don't seem to know it.

It's hard to figure out which of our testimonies is most implicated, here. It's an example of how we can use any one of them to analyze most any human plight. Start with simplicity, head into rest. Choose equality or integrity, community or peace. The lack of (respect for) any of them in our policies (and public morality) is a good way to come to understand the situation.

You cannot have KISS without SPICE.

And just remember, boys and girls, there are those who can with a straight face and a modicum of persuasiveness, tell us that the war in Iraq and the unfettered capitalism are examples of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality.

I will be surprised, frankly, if they don't.

As Lily said: "'s hard to keep up."

Friday, September 12, 2008

class warfare

So, Bill O'Reilly says to Barak Obama that restoring the taxes on the top margins to the pre-Bush levels would be "tax warfare."

One of these days I'd like someone to say, in response to this "argument," that the changing of those marginal rates downward by the Bush administration was also "class warfare." The destruction of unions, the tax structure favoring the wealthy, the subsidies and tax credits handed out to people and corporations who are in that $250,000 a year + class while similar breaks and subsidies for middle income families are cut--all that amounts to redistribution of the wealth and class warfare that is waged by the "side" wearing the same colors as Mr. O.

There is no other answer that has integrity and in the end none that really make ssense.

You cannot win that argument, Barak, until you frankly say that groups are constantly vying with one another in this economy about how the income is divided and that this is a legitimate vying and that we need to acknowledge that and put it on the table where we can openly engage in some rule making to govern the process and make it fair. That would simplify all this considerably, wouldn't it?

The way it is right now it's an unregulated war and a denied war--so those waging it aren't scrutinized or held in check by concepts of fairness applied to their behavior...not exactly harmony, is it? Peace? Equality? People who have it can portray themselves as exploited by taxes and never have to explain how they exploited others by using the government to get it, in the first place.

Our incomes are not "ours" in the sense that no one else contributed to our making it. We are part of a system and we take our incomes out of a system, benefitting from the efforts and investments (especially public investments) of others. We all owe the system so as to keep it working for us and for others as it does. We are all in this together. It's an interdependent community.

Why is it so radical to propose that people who take more out of this economy--and have the power to structure it so that they do take more out than others--should not be required to pay more to keep it working for them?

Who is offended when people who sit in the best seats pay for the highest priced tickets?

Class warfare? Duh!

Say it, Barak. Own it. It's true.

And as long as we deny it then it cannot, as it is the function of the truth to do, set us free.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This is a test...

Will half truths and outright lies, spoken over and over, at high volume, become truth?

Or will the truth, spoken plainly and often, be recognized and vindicated?

That seems the test before the American electorate at the moment.

I am, as they say, "in the tank," for Barak Obama.

Even in my partisanship, however, I can say with integrity that the McCain-Palin campaign is so far off of the farm it can no longer hear the rooster crowing.

I understand that the people who are in charge of that campaign--the people who are now in danger of losing control of Washington, DC, a control they enjoyed as the result of being in charge of the Bush Administration--believe (as I guess we all do) that if they lose power the world will be a much worse place. So they justify what they do...

The ends justify the means.

A lie repeated often enough will become the truth, and the bigger the lie the more likely it is to become the truth.

Not, by the way, consistent with the faith and practice of Friends.

So, the wall of noise is built and the test is before the American people.

I believe the moral condition of the American people is such that there is an odds on chance we will fail. Our culture has so compromised us that we cannot see the truth--or refuse to see the truth in all its difficulty and inconvenience--when it's in front of us. We like the lies. They make us feel comfortable.

As a contemporary prophet once wrote: "your corrupt ways have finally made you blind."

And when we reach the end we see that the means were really all that ever meant anything, anyway.