Monthly Archives: March 2012

The inexorable march toward tyranny and the end of the American Republic

It did not begin with Obama, and it will not end with him, it is a course that has been maintained by all administrations, Democrat and Republican, over many decades, but it is now approaching a climax. It’s all about control—centralized control, which leaves no room for popular participation or democratic government. The oligarchs who control the United States government (along with most of the global power structure) will do whatever it takes to assure “full-spectrum dominance” in their own hands.

Now, as they beat the drums for a war against Iran which they seem determined to have, a war which the majority of Americans are opposed to, they are putting us on notice that everything we think we own belongs to them and will be used to further their agenda. Through a series of legislative acts and executive orders, they have given themselves the “legal” cover for increasingly intrusive and heavy-handed actions to deal with public opposition. The article below from the Washington Times describes the latest of these. Although the author seems confused in his characterization of the kind of government we now have (National Socialism, ala Hitler’s Germany, seems to be most apt), his basic argument is compelling.

I also recommend that everyone read Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.—t.h.g.

Obama’s power grab

Executive order expands presidential prerogative

By Jeffrey T. Kuhner  -  The Washington Times  Thursday, March 22, 2012

President Obama has given himself the powers to declare martial law – especially in the event of a war with Iran. It is a sweeping power grab that should worry every American.

On March 16, the White House released an executive order, “National Defense Resources Preparedness.” The document is stunning in its audacity and a flagrant violation of the Constitution. It states that, in case of a war or national emergency, the federal government has the authority to take over almost every aspect of American society. Food, livestock, farming equipment, manufacturing, industry, energy, transportation, hospitals, health care facilities, water resources, defense and construction – all of it could fall under the full control of Mr. Obama. The order empowers the president to dispense these vast resources as he sees fit during a national crisis.

“The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency,” the order says. “The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness. The authorities provided in the act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States.”

In short, the order gives Mr. Obama the ability to impose martial law. He now possesses the potential powers of a dictator. The order is a direct assault on individual liberties, private property rights and the rule of law. It is blatantly unconstitutional. The executive branch is arrogating responsibilities precluded by the Constitution without even asking the permission of Congress. The order gives Mr. Obama a blank check to erect a centralized authoritarian state. This is a law one would expect to find in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela or Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The backdrop to the executive order is the looming showdown with Iran. The administration says the “window for diplomacy is closing.” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned Tehran’s mullahs that “all options are on the table” – including military intervention. Mr. Obama stresses that his patience is running out. He vows that Iran will not acquire the bomb. Mr. Obama wants several more months for sanctions and international isolation to bring the ayatollahs to heel. Yet the signals are clear: Mr. Obama may be ready to launch devastating airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

If that should happen, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has promised massive retaliation. American troops will be targeted by Iranian proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan. American embassies will be struck across the Middle East and North Africa. Most ominously, Iranian-backed Hezbollah cells could launch devastating terrorist attacks in major U.S. cities, killing numerous citizens. The war may well come home, triggering domestic chaos. These are the very real risks of a major conflict with Iran.

Which begs the question: Would that tempt Mr. Obama to claim a state of emergency and thereby implement his executive order? No one knows the answer. And we shouldn’t have to find out. The president does not – and should not – have the authority to subordinate the entire private economy to the government, especially without the consent of Congress and the American people. It is national socialism masquerading as military security.

This is why conservatives – those who are serious about defending our constitutional republic – should demand that the executive order be repealed immediately. Liberals argue that President Clinton issued a nearly identical mandate. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first national defense resources preparedness order, which has been amended by successive presidents, including George W. Bush. Hence, according to the progressive left, if it was good enough for FDR, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush, why not Mr. Obama?

The answer is simple: Because the Constitution matters – or at least it should. For more than 70 years, liberal Democrats and corporatist Republicans have been slowly dismantling the old republic, imposing a creeping social democracy. The Founding Fathers’ vision of limited government and federalism has been replaced by a new ruling class. FDR, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush – all of them were militarists expanding the size and scope of government. They were Wilsonian globalists, and they shamelessly violated civil liberties. FDR was the worst, by forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps.

Mr. Obama’s executive order represents the culmination of the welfare-warfare state. He is walking in the footsteps of his predecessors, those who enabled the rise of the imperial presidency. And it leads to only one tragic end: the gradual deterioration of our democracy.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.

Small entrepreneurs differ from Big Business

We should not confuse capitalism and corporatism with “free markets,” which I hope will always be with us, nor should we believe that mega-corporations are the same as “Mom and Pop” enterprises. The corporate “wolves” that are intent on centralizing power like to masquerade as entrepreneurial “sheep” so that they can dominate markets and eliminate competition. We must not be deceived by that, nor should we perpetuate that illusion. A recent poll shows that small business owners do not have the same attitudes toward regulation and taxation as big business executives. Here is a report from the Greenville News.–t.h.g.

Poll: Small business owners’ opinions differ from big business concerns

By Jenny Munro
Greenville News (SC), February 9, 2012

Columbia, SC—A national poll shows the opinions of small business owners differ dramatically from the advocacy of big businesses and multinational corporations.  The results of the national scientific poll were released over the past four weeks by the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority.  The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners between December 8, 2011 and January 4, 2012.

”Many of the real opinions of small business owners are far different than what are portrayed by big business interests,” said Frank Knapp, Jr., Vice Chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and President/CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

“There are some real ‘man-bites-dog’ stories here that are particularly amazing since half of the respondents self-identified as either Republican or leaning Republican,” said Knapp.

“Small business owners do not hate regulations,” said Knapp.  “They support regulations ensuring clean air and water and those moving the country toward energy efficiency and clean energy.  And regulations are not stopping hiring as we’ve been hearing—lack of consumer demand is doing that.  In fact, small business owners view regulations as protecting them from big business.”

“Small business owners also don’t agree with the big business mantra on taxation,” said Knapp.  “They say that big businesses and multinational corporations use loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes which harms small businesses.  A majority of these owners also support higher tax rates on individual income over $1 million, even $250,000.”

“These opinions fly in the face of the rhetoric about not raising taxes on the wealthiest because they are the ‘job creators’”, said Knapp.  “Small businesses are leading the job recovery in this country and they believe the wealthiest corporations and individuals are not paying their fair share of taxes.”

“On other issues small business owners share the public’s disgust with money in politics and disapprove of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision,” said Knapp. “Citizens United has unleashed massive amount of money from big corporations and millionaires and billionaires into political campaigns.  Small businesses believed they have been harmed because of this.”

Below are details of the poll results:

  • Small business owners see their top problem as weak customer demand, not regulations: 34 percent cited weak customer demand as the most important problem for their business, while only 14 percent named government regulations.
  • On the question of what would do the most to create jobs, cutting regulations came in low on the list: the top response was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas at 24 percent; reducing regulation was fifth at 10 percent.
  • Small business owners see an important role for standards and safeguards: 78 percent believe some standards are important to protect small businesses from unfair competition, and 76 percent believe regulations on the books should be enforced.
  • Small business owners see regulations as necessary for a modern economy: 93 percent agree their business can live with some regulation if it is fair, manageable and reasonable.
  • Small business owners express strong support for specific rules and standards: 78 percent support rules to prevent health insurance companies from increasing rates excessively, 84 percent support food safety standards, 80 percent support product safety standards and 80 percent support disclosure and regulation of toxic materials.
  • Small business owners support clean energy policies: 79 percent support ensuring clean air and water, and 61 percent support moving the country towards energy efficiency and clean energy.
  • Small businesses believe in streamlining government processes: 73 percent of respondents believe we should allow for one-stop electronic filing of government paperwork.
  • Nine out of ten small business owners say big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay: 92 percent say big corporations’ use of such loopholes is a problem. Three-quarters of owners say their small business is harmed when loopholes allow big corporations to avoid taxes.
  • Nine out of ten small business owners say that U.S. multinational corporations’ use of accounting loopholes to shift their U.S. profits to their offshore subsidiaries to avoid taxes is a problem: 91 percent agree it is a problem, with 55 percent saying it’s a very serious problem. When asked what would do the most to create jobs, small business owners chose eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas.
  • Small business owners say big corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes: 67 percent believe big corporations pay less than their fair share. An even bigger majority, 73 percent, says multinational corporations pay less than their fair share.
  • Small business owners say millionaires pay less than their fair share in taxes: 58 percent say households whose annual income exceeds $1 million pay less than their fair share.
  • Small business owners support a higher tax rate for individuals earning more than $1 million: 57 percent agree that individuals earning more than $1 million a year should pay a higher tax rate on the income over $1 million.
  • Small business owners want to eliminate the “carried interest” loophole that gives hedge fund managers a big break on their taxes: 81 percent favor hedge fund managers paying taxes at the ordinary income tax rate, which currently tops out at 35 percent, rather than the 15 percent capital gains rate they pay now.
  • Small business owners support ending upper-income tax cuts: 51 percent say Congress should let tax cuts on taxable household income over $250,000 a year expire (only 40 percent believe they should be extended).
  • Respondents in this scientific national survey were politically diverse, with a majority Republican or independent-leaning Republican: 50 percent identified as Republican (27 percent) or independent-leaning Republican (23 percent); 32 percent as Democrat (14 percent) or independent-leaning Democratic (18 percent); and 15 percent as independent.
  • Small business owners say Citizens United decision hurts small businesses:  66 percent of small business owners view Citizens United v. FEC decision as bad for small businesses; 88 percent hold negative view of money in politics overall.

Read the full poll reports at these links:

http://www.asbcouncil.org/poll_regulations.html

http://www.asbcouncil.org/uploads/Taxes_Poll_Report_FINAL.pdf

http://www.asbcouncil.org/poll_money_in_politics.html

http://www.asbcouncil.org/poll_access_to_credit.html

Copyright 2012 Greenville News and Poll Reports

Toward a sane economics

This TEDx video by Peter Joseph, creator of the Zeitgeist movies series, contrasts two opposing economic frameworks that need to be considered in transcending our present global predicament. He shows that the entire incentive structure of the dominant paradigm of political economy is all wrong, and outlines some of the necessary attributes of a sustainable earth-friendly economy.

The presentation does not get into the how-to-do-it, but provides a good starting point for working out the necessary transition to what I’ve been calling “The Butterfly Economy. My basic prescription for that involves radical sharing, collaboration, restructuring, and rebuilding our society from the bottom, on up, household to neighborhood, to community, to bioregion, including all of our non-geographic affinity groups. Begin with the people and businesses you already know and trust.

Please take ten minutes to view the video.

Money as Debt 3, now available on YouTube

Here is Paul Grignon’s latest video animation that explains the money and banking problem and it’s fundamental  importance to the future of civilization. Please note the opening quote of E. C. Riegel,whom I have acknowledged as the most important source of my own understanding. You can find links to Riegel’s writings elsewhere on this site, or click here.

While I don’t fully agree with Grignon’s analysis of the effect of interest in the money creation process, I highly recommend this video, along with his shorter video, The Essence of Money.

Goldman’s “Toxic” culture documented.

This article documents what is probably merely the tip of the iceberg in the case against Goldman Sachs.–t.h.g.

13 Reasons Goldman’s Quitting Exec May Have a Point

By Cora Currier

An executive at Goldman Sachs left the firm today with a bang, penning a New York Times op-ed accusing the company of increasingly putting profits ahead of clients. Greg Smith started as an intern 12 years ago and last headed a derivatives department. Not surprisingly, Goldman quickly and strongly disagreed with his take.

There have obviously been plenty of unflattering headlines about Goldman in the past few years. We decided to look at just one aspect of their record: SEC charges levied against Goldman and its employees over the past decade.

April 2003: SEC charges Goldman Sachs over conflicts of interest among its research analysts. The company eventually settled for $110 million in fines and disgorgements.

November 2003: Former Goldman economist John Youngdahl pleads guilty to insider trading. The firm had to pay the SEC $4.2 million over profits it gained from the illegal dealings.

July 2004: Goldman settles with the SEC for $10 million over charges it improperly promoted a stock sale involving PetroChina.

January 2005: Goldman settles with the SEC for $40 million over charges that it violated securities law in promoting initial public offerings.

April 2006: Two former Goldman employees are charged with running an international insider-trading ring while they were at the firm. Eugene Plotkin and David Pajcin, both in their 20s, paid off insiders at other firms and stole early copies of Business Week to get an edge. They also tried (unsuccessfully) to use strippers to get information. Both eventually served jail time.

March 2007: A Goldman subsidiary, Goldman Execution and Clearing, settles with the SEC for $2 million over allegations that faulty oversight that allowed customers to make illegal trades.

March 2009: Goldman Execution and Clearing settles with the SEC for $1.2 million over improper proprietary trading by employees.

July 2009: The SEC charges a former Goldman Sachs trader Anthony Perez and his brother with insider trading based on information Anthony Perez obtained through his job at Goldman Sachs. He was fined $25,000 and his brother more than $150,000.

May 2010: The SEC hits Goldman Execution and Clearing with a $225,000 fine for violating a rule aimed at regulating short selling.

July 2010: Goldman settles with the SEC for $553 million over allegations that it misled investors about the collateralized debt obligation ABACUS 2007-AC1 by not disclosing the involvement of a hedge fund in its creation, or the fact that the hedge fund stood to benefit if the CDO failed. Goldman executive Fabrice Tourre was also charged.

March 2011: The SEC charges Goldman board member Rajat Gupta with insider trading. Gupta allegedly passed on information he learned as a board member to the hedge fund Galleon Group. In October, 2011, he was arrested and hit with criminal charges by the FBI. The case is pending.

September 2011: The SEC charges a Goldman employee, Spencer Midlin, and his father for insider trading based on information Spencer Midlin gained from his position at Goldman Sachs. The two men were ordered to pay $92,000.

February 2012: Goldman Sachs receives notice from the SEC that the agency may bring charges related to mortgage backed-securities.

This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/13-reasons-goldman-s-quitting-exec-may-have-point-1331824190. All rights are reserved.

Top level bankers resigning in droves. What does this mean?

I have been seeing reports lately that an unusually large number of top level banking and finance executives worldwide have been resigning their positions. The American Kabuki website features a report titled, 320 RESIGNATIONS FROM WORLD BANKS, INVESTMENT HOUSES, MONEY FUNDS, and a Japanese website has posted some amazing graphs of resignations by region, by country, and by company.

Now, today, the New York Times is reporting that, “Greg Smith is resigning today as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”

And Smith is not going quietly. The Times has published his Op-Ed article in which he explains the basis for his action. It begins with this…

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs

By GREG SMITH

TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

I urge everyone to read the rest of the article here.

History, people power, and practical education

The late progressive historian Howard Zinn is best known for his landmark book, A People’s History of the United States, which has been widely acclaimed and exposes to the light the “ceaseless conflict between elites and the masses whom they oppress and exploit.” Here’s an official description:

A classic since its original landmark publication in 1980, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is the first scholarly work to tell America’s story from the bottom up—from the point of view of, and in the words of, America’s women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers. From Columbus to the Revolution to slavery and the Civil War—from World War II to the election of George W. Bush and the “War on Terror”—A People’s History of the United States is an important and necessary contribution to a complete and balanced understanding of American history.

Reviews can be found at Amazon.com. The book is widely available and can now be viewed online at http://www.historyisaweapon.com/zinnapeopleshistory.html.

A few days ago, someone sent me a link to a TED talk in which Sanjit “Bunker” Roy describes the “Barefoot College, which is he founded. He tells a story that is both inspiring and informative, a model of what can be achieved when ordinary people share what they know and how communities can become more self-sufficient. You can view it here.

An interesting take on the Russian election

There’s been little said about it in the American media, but here’s an interesting take on the Russian election by analyst Adrian Salbuchi, interviewed on RT:

Iran is next on the globalist “hit list”

Why do we accept this madness? Attacking one country after another to prop up a dying imperial system will only bring more misery and ultimate failure. It’s the same old pattern that the elite globalists have been using to force every country into line to accept the New World Order of neo-feudalism.

Under the political money system, governments can appropriate as much of their country’s economic product as they wish, without directly taxing the people. If the people were asked directly to pay for wars, we would have few or none of them.

Foster Gamble, the producer of THRIVE is trying to wake up the American people in the video below.

Rabbi Michael Lerner (Tikkun Magazine) and the Network of Spiritual Progressives are also trying to open people’s eyes and talk sense to those who would lead us once again into an unprovoked war. They are buying ad space in major American newspapers to make the case against the war. See the draft ad here.

Treasury Secretary Geithner facing possible indictment

Here is a rather astonishing report from Fox news about the possible indictment of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Is this an indication that the oligarchy is beginning to crumble, or will the powers that be simply make him the sacrificial lamb so they can continue their fraud and  tighten their grip on power?