I have come a long way in three years. I was so naive. I couldn't wait to vote the Republicans out of office, so I registered myself as a Democrat and woke up at 5am to go stand proudly in line to vote for Obama. Like many of us since then, I now realize what a sucker I was. I had high hopes that Obama was going to nationalize the banks when he took office and start loosening the hold the bankers have around our throats. Well, that didn't happen, and instead he went after health care. We all know what he has and has not done since, with the latter more than overwhelming the former. So I got frustrated, as most of us have, that nothing changed with Obama. I got determined to educate myself and find out what the real problems are, and what the real solutions are.

 

I started watching a lot of MSNBC. At first, I stuck with Hardball with Chris Matthews. While that kept me informed as to what the two political parties were up to, I was far from satisfied. Then one day I tuned in a little early and caught a little of Dylan Ratigan. His personality turned me off a little at first, but the next time I saw his show I was mesmerized. Hooked. Here was a guy who was finally speaking about the real issues, the fundamental structural problems underlying the mess we are in. If you know the show, much of what I am about to say will sound like repetition, but these are what I think the real problems in America are.

 

There are 6 industries which own the US government, the military-industrial complex (e.g. Lockheed Martin), health care (Big Pharma, health insurance), banking, energy (oil, Halliburton), agribusiness (think Monsanto), and telecommunications (e.g. the phone companies that rip us off). The heads of these industries use their spectacular wealth to buy politicians. In fact, 94% of our elections are now won by the candidate who raises the most money. Obama was no exception. Yes, he raised more money from small donations than anyone had before, but he also raised more money from LARGE donations than ever before. Goldman Sachs was his single biggest campaign contributor in 2008. We all know that if a candidate tries to go against any of these industries, they use their fabulous wealth to take out attack ads so that they don't stand a chance (think swiftboating). As long as our two political parties play by the rules, they can divide up the country in any other, meaningless way they want.

 

They have a very cozy relationship, these plutocrats. The politicians look the other way while the rich engage in insider trading. They even call up their friends on Wall St. and give them insider information as to policy changes which have financial ramifications (and then engage in a healthy amount of insider trading themselves). Then the rich spend huge amounts of money in lobbying efforts to convince the politicians as to how the laws should be written. They have managed to rig, to their vast benefit, the tax code, trade policies, and banking regulations to siphon money from the American people and into their pockets. They pay lower taxes (or none at all) than average American individuals and businesses. They trade with countries like China which can make products far cheaper than we can make it here, eliminating American jobs while flooding the markets with cheap goods (think Walmart). But the banking "industry" seems to have benefited to even more egregious levels.

 

Our US government has allowed a $700 trillion, completely invisible and unregulated swaps market to exist without requiring all of these transactions to take place on a visible (and regulatable) exchange. There are no capital requirements, which means they can trade without having anything of value to put up as collateral. And when their bets go bad, the Fed just sends them a check to the tune of $29.6 trillion of our tax-payer money so far since the crisis began. And I thought we had a deficit! Where are we getting all of this money from? Are we just printing it?

 

Meanwhile 1 in 15 Americans now live in poverty. 18% of us are unemployed (that's the "real" unemployment figures), and that's not even counting the underemployed. Incomes are falling, debt is mounting. People are left homeless while foreclosed homes sit empty. Income and wealth inequality are at their highest levels since the Great Depression. Meanwhile our elections are being put up for auction and neither political party will stand up to these powerful ruling interests. If this isn't a state of unjust affairs, then I don't know what is. These are issues that shouldn't even be restricted to the left, we are all being oppressed. But while we on the left are waking up, those on the right are drifting towards a libertarian philosophy which plays right into the hands of the rich. With no government around, who could possibly stand up to the rich?

 

We need to retake our government, not break it down into uselessness. And we need large-scale structural solutions to address these mounting problems. We need systematic and system-wide changes to our democracy and our government. We need to weed out waste and abuse of power at all levels. We need to eliminate subsidies for oil companies and stop sending money without strings attached to the bankers. We need to break up the banking cartels so that never again will an institution be "too big to fail". We need real regulations on the banking industry, and that begins with having capital requirements and putting the swaps market on a visible exchange. If we change the way Wall St. does business, they will make money honestly and contribute real value to America rather than being fueled by the need to create more and more debt. We need to restructure debt to help out students and homeowners. And to that end I would suggest literally bailing out the American people. If we are going to print money, why not give it directly to Americans so that they can use it to pay off their debts to the banks?

 

We need to eliminate superpacs and overturn the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court that makes corporations people and money into protected free speech so that the rich can't talk more loudly than everyone else. We need a real energy plan, and we need to improve our energy efficiency so that we can approach a % in the 90's like other modern industrialized nations have rather than the 34% efficiency we are now sitting at. We need real environmental regulations, and we need to completely restructure our educational system so that we can keep up with the rest of the world. And we need to end privatized profit but socialized risk for the wealthy, and incentivize investment in America and it's people.

 

The political discussion has been framed by our politicians as being about ballooning debt. While certainly this is a huge problem, I am quite certain that if we address the real problems in America, our national debt problem will also be solved. If we stop war-mongering and being the arms-dealers to the world, we won't have huge costly wars to pay off. With an economy that puts people to work, our social programs will have plenty of funding to continue operations, keeping Americans healthy and financially supported throughout old age.

 

We are really running out of time. The changing environment is going to make all humanity come together, one way or another. We can come together now and make the necessary changes to our lifestyle and our society so that we can all live on this earth in peace, or the catastrophe to come will be marked by the most violence, starvation, and suffering the world has ever known. And the US needs to lead the way. When the catastrophe comes, humanity will largely blame Americans for it, and rightly so. There will be enough blame to go around, but the American people can do something about it now, while we still have time. If we do not raise our heads up out of the herd and take our country back from the oligarchs who hold us as slaves and hostages, the lion's share of the moral responsibility for the future of humanity will be ours to bear.

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Replies to This Discussion

Your analysis seems to partially recognize that we live under the dictatorship of the capitalist class, but then you just ignore that fact. You understand that the capitalist class (those are people who own the means to produce goods..factories, farms etc..) can simply relocate "their" money, ergo jobs,to China, etc.. where goods can be produced cheaper and prices driven down, but you think that you’re going to be able to regulate them? That’s liberal nonsense, totally delusional. If you approach a suit-dummy capitalist and say “I’m going to raise taxes on you, or make you pay your workers more etc..” they will just look at you, tell you to fuck off, and ask if you really want any jobs in your country or not? They will sometimes allow you to tax them if they feel it is in their interest$, such as calming unrest, but then they simply will raise prices. Capitalist politicians are simply the spokespeople for the capitalist class and have no power to do anything at all against the interest$ of the capitalists. If you start to really piss them off they will whip up their fascist base on you in a heartbeat (Christian fascists, “proud to be an Amerikans” people who’re generally under heavy influence of the rich White culture, etc..) and roll back production, roll back jobs, raise prices, any number of buttons at their disposal to turn the common people against you and polarize society in their favor. In short, your analysis, while certainly well-meaning, has enormous blind spots in it.

This Ratigan cat serves the interest$ of the capitalist class by channeling people’s righteous outrage into ideology that stands no chance whatsoever for our liberation. Of course the capitalist class knows there will be lefties, and with a useful idiot like Ratigan they can make people think that just taxing the rich is the way to go. They can handle this very easily as I pointed out. Alarm bells should ring for you when you’re watching his program and see all these ads from the capitalists keeping him on air. If he were saying something that made them angry they’d pull their ads in a second. The far right couldn’t ask for better leadership for the left than a liberal pos like Ratigan.

Your analysis is divorced from the reality that only labor produces wealth, nothing else. Any gains in income made for the Amerikan people will be taken from the blood of the third-world, who is continuously robbed at gunpoint by the capitalist class in order to produce the Amerikan way of life. Until you really understand why the vast majority of humanity lives on less than $3 a day, while Amerikans expect jobs making $10 an hour, then your analysis will be far off where it needs to be. Look at the mental gymnastics you’re having to do in order to believe that Amerikan’s deserve $10 an hour jobs..why do you believe this? Do you honestly believe that Amerikans work harder and deserve it (lol)? Or is is because we llive in the house with the most vicious gangsters known to humanity, who now and historically, have been the most ruthless in their exploitation of the earth and its inhabitants?

Attempting to have people who are overwhelmingly all in the top 20% of the world in terms of wealth (The entire population of the United Snakes) have more than they already do is fascism and social-imperialism. Amerikans deserve less, not more. Amerikans have to learn to live with less, not more. The Amerikan lifestyle is destroying our planet. Amerikans are 5% of the world’s population and consume 25% of the world’s resources. Amerika, indeed the entire first-world as we know it much come to an end. This won’t happen by rallying Amerikans around leadership that says that they actually deserve more, not less. First-world people who are seeking fundamental change, fundamental change that can only be brought about when goods begin to be produced for need rather than profits, that’s to say the means of production are transferred from the ownership of individuals to common ownership, need to realize that they are behind enemy lines, that the culture and people’s they are dealing with have grown accustomed to the third-world plantation, chattel slavery, and genocide enabled lifestyles they’ve led and will fight to the death in order to maintain it. There are a few in the first-world who will stand in true solidarity with the third-world, but not enough to make up a potential revolutionary force. Attempting to lead revolution here would be to simply invite a bloodbath. Not only will the capitalist class come down on you with the armed forces they command, but the common people will be against you as well. The fate of humanity, the fate of our planet lies in the masses of Africa, Latin America, and South Asia rising up under revolutionary leadership to destroy the first-world as we know it. The duty of first-worlders who want to see a new world that is not based on exploitation and oppression is to support the struggles of the third-world masses to rise up under revolutionary leadership, to throw out the puppet regimes and all first-world interest$ front their countries and pave the way for a new world based on the principle of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

I do not support every aspect of this group's leadership, but nonetheless here are some good videos explaining more about where I'm coming from:

Sendero, you have a very one-sided perspective. While there are many things I can agree with you on in your analysis, there are many things I would disagree with as well. Firstly, and most egregiously, the Marxist principle “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” If you think about this rationally, it means the opposite of a meritocracy. The neediest receive all the benefits while the strongest and most talented have the lion's share of the benefit of their work taken from them and given to others. Again, this is very one-sided. A balanced approach requires taking care of the needs of the unfortunate while also rewarding the talented, hard-working, and strong for their efforts. This means that there does need to be a redistribution of power, but not one which prioritizes need above any other consideration. Only an organismic perspective satisfies these demands. The most powerful should not be allowed to get so far ahead of everyone else that they can abuse their power to the detriment of the whole society, and the least powerful should be empowered so that they have power comparable to the lower middle. The overarching principle of a just society should be that one should do what is in the interests of both the individual and the society, putting these two in as perfect a balance as possible.

 

Getting back the the body of your critique, firstly I say fine, let the capitalist class relocate to China, etc. Their machinery can stay, and the people as a whole can work for themselves instead of for a master class. Either they submit to regulation, or we can create our own jobs without them, and far better. They are a drain on the society, not a boon.

 

While I agree with you that the fascist right is the tool of the capitalists, they are not completely blind. Enough people voted Obama in, and had he the wherewithal he could have nationalized the banks, and came close to doing so had he not relinquished his moral authority. He was mostly just naive, not ill-intentioned. And this goes for virtually all the politicians as well as the populace, or they would realize that they were heading down the path of living in a military-state resembling Nazi Germany. The politicians are voting for their own arrest warrants.

 

Nowhere did I say that Americans deserve $10 an hour jobs. I also agree with you that America makes its living off of the backs of the rest of the world's population. We are living in a very unethical, and unsustainable, society. I think the rest of the world needs to be brought up and we should all be living in basically the same standards, but I am optimistic that should America lead the way down the moral path, it is possible that the whole world could be living a far better lifestyle than they currently do. I see no reason why it is impossible for us as a species to still be capable of great feats of civil engineering, while still taking care of the environment and the other species on the planet and ensuring that all humans live a minimum standard of existence. But for the short-term, that is, until we as a species get our act together, you are right, Americans do need to learn to live with less, not more.

 

And while I see the merits of the rest of your arguments (I see nothing here which is completely absurd), I am far less pessimistic as to what would be required to bring about change in this country and in the world. I don't see the bloodbaths that you envision, nor the third world war pitting the world against the US. I am not the hard-core Marxist you appear to be. And your use of the letter "K" is fucking annoying. I'll watch these videos a bit later.

Capitalism is a system and it has a nature that can be known. Those who’re most ruthless in their exploitation and oppression of the people are awarded with the ability to set prices and to expand. You can run all the suit-dummies away that you want but you certainly can’t expect them to go peacefully and you certainly can’t expect to do anything when boatloads of cheap goods show up at your ports to supply a population that will now be broke because you ran off all the suit-dummies and “their“ money. You can’t even get White Amerikans to work at restaurants, and of course not in the fields, but you expect to get them to work at these abandoned factories for little to no pay? First of all, who will supply the raw materials to have these factories function? How will you come to take over the means to produce raw materials? How will you afford to import any?

You will never get the Amerikan people --(that’s short for the Amerikkkan people in reference to the racism that is built into the fabric of the capitalist system Amerika represents and the fact that “America“ has no right to exist…the correct spelling of Amerika was first put forth and popularized by the Black Panther Party, the most advanced revolutionary force this country has ever seen.) --to accept a “lesser” standard of living peacefully. You will unleash overt fascism if you piss the suit-dummies off too bad. You see what is being whipped up by the suit-dummies just in response to the Obomber, can you imagine what it would be if you really pissed them off? We already see militias rising up around churches and elsewhere, you see fascist suicide terrorist attacks being carried out (google Jim Adkisson), you would see this on a grand scale when you push them to a point. You would do well to see what gave rise to the Nazi’s and see that it is playing out again right here before your eyes, with the help of the liberals of course.

As for “meritocracy.” First off all, I would rather work my ass off so that someone could be lazy and live a life with dignity and have a secure survival than to work my ass off so that some suit-dummy can buy some jewelry or some shit. Second, if you leave the mechanisms in place that allow for any one person to gain an elevated $tatus over others you will end up at capitalism to the extent that you ever got away from it. Capitalism is constantly on a trajectory towards imperialism no matter what stage it finds itself. Those who are the most ruthless in their exploitation are rewarded with the elevated $tatus that allows them to mold society largely to their liking. They are enabled to put forth what is considered “normal” in society and play on people’s natural fears as social animals. Furthermore, whose fault is it that some are “better” than others and “deserve” to rule $$$ over others, and have special privileges? Are certain people genetically superior and just deserve it, or is it the system to blame when there is such an unequal contribution? To those who are enabled to contribute “more” what are their motivations in contributing? To gain an elevated $tatus over others, or to lift up humanity with their contributions? It is real easy to look around at how society is now and call some people lazy and assume that it’s just in their genes or something, but did you stop to consider that the reason some people seem “lazy” now is that the options that are before them are options ruled over by ruthless vampires otherwise known as capitalists? To all those who you consider lazy, how many would refuse to work if you gave the land and all the materials they needed to build houses and told them to go build some fit shelter for them and their communities to live in? It is in our nature to want to work. It’s the system that we live under that makes the people what they are, under a different system and a different culture people will be happy to work because they know that the work they’re doing is going to lift up all of humanity, not just some vampire suit-dummies who treat you like crap if you can even find work. Furthermore they will not be stuck doing to same unfulfilling work day-in-day-out, but rather can be trained to do all sorts of different work, and be afforded time to pursue their own interests. Mao said “If a worker doesn’t want to work, must be something wrong with the management.”

Again, you cannot regulate the capitalists. You cannot say, hey you have to let us use your land to produce food..they can stop or roll back production at any time and tell you to fuck off, and without a People’s Army you can’t do a damn thing. They will create conditions in society so bad that the common people will turn against you and rush to do the will of the capitalists so that they may eat etc… Until you are prepared to go to the capitalists and to tell them to fuck off, that you’re taking their factories, farms, the means to produce raw materials etc.. and you are prepared to immediately begin providing the material requirements of life to people, the capitalists have a million buttons at their disposal to crush you with. You will never even get to the point of running them off in mass without a People’s Army, but even if you did and you allow for individuals to own the means of production you will simply be putting those individuals up against a world market dominated by those with enough capital and those who’re ruthless enough to set atop this whole system…they can even take a loss to push you under.

You waste every breath and thought when speaking of capitalist politicians. They are all the scum of the earth. I would not be president if you paid me. There would be absolutely nothing I, or anyone, could do to stop the suffering of the masses. Again, there can be NO fundamental change for the better in the world while individuals are allowed to own the means of production. Capitalists are forced to play by the forces of capitalism. If they will not or can not exploit the earth and its inhabitants to the maximum degree possible, they will happily be pushed aside by capitalists who can and will. Even if you are to “regulate” one section of capitalists, say you passed a maximum rent of $250 a month law, then all the other vampires would simply jack up their prices as soon as they knew more blood is in the water. You could never do a maximum 250 rent law because the capitalists would simply board the place up and wait until they made conditions so bad that they will get their way again…anyways.. You are fighting for this liberal heaven that cannot exist. You cannot hem and haw when dealing with these monsters, they rule society, they control whether or not goods even get produced at all, ..you have to jump up on the table as say “we’ll bury you” and you have to be prepared to do it.

Well if you noticed I never said anything about preserving capitalism, nor did I equate a meritocracy with capitalism. But I wouldn't be a part of your communistic society either. I happen to think there is a vast middle ground that goes largely unrecognized. All societies are organismic, but there are a great many ways to organize, and great variations in how to structure an economy and a power structure. You seem to think that it has to be one way or the other, that any concessions or middle ground is a slippery slope towards evil. This is idealism at its worst. Every virtue is a mean between two vices, there is no perfect structure, there is only an optimal structure. And an optimal structure does not do away with markets entirely in favor of your worker's paradise. There is a good reason why that has never existed either. I agree with you that the structure of a society plays a great role in the behaviors of it's people, but there are genetic differences between us as well which you seem to dismiss. There will always, and should always, be an unequal distribution of power, because some people just are more powerful than others, but this does not mean that inequality should be allowed to approach the levels seen today in capitalistic societies. Power between individuals should be at least comparable to each other, and not so out-of-whack that a person can have literally billions of times more power than another.

 

I happen to think that, with a far more direct democracy, and with a great deal more experimentation with economic and power structures, humanity can do just fine with markets under the control of a democratic government. You seem intent on doing away with democracy itself in favor of the kind of authoritarian-communistic governments which always arise from the philosophy you espouse. We as a species have only just begun to try out new forms of governments, so to suggest that there is only two forms of government and that one is evil and the other is pure and good is both premature and flies in the face of all the evidence.

Yes Wanderer, I understand that your mind is in liberal-la-la-land. Yes, there are only two roads for humanity. One road is revolution to place the means of production into common ownership, socialism, on the way to a communist world where goods are produced 100% for need, there is no government as all antagonistic social divisions are overcome (all governments are simply means by which one class rules over others), there is no money because the means of production are held in common and goods are produced 100% for need worldwide. The other road is for the means of production to be held by individuals. This road is forced to play by the rules of capitalism..those rules (take a look around will yah?) dictate that whichever capitalist pays their workers the least, whichever are willing to degrade the environment more, whichever are able to profit more, will be rewarded with the elevated $tatus that allows them to rule society to their liking, to arm and command forces to due their bidding etc… There is no other way, period. It’s not about “my thing” versus “your thing” it’s about a scientific analysis.

I have no idea where you pull the anti-democracy nonsense other than capitalist distortions of communism. Would you go to a theist to learn about atheism too? Socialism is a million times more democratic than capitalism, and democracy can only truly exist once we’ve reached communism. You are as deluded as they come if you think voting under capitalism changes anything. The capitalist class $elects whoever they believe will lead people to serve their interest$ better, in the last $election that was Crock Obomba, because they felt resistance was growing to their system in a manner that could affect their profits, ergo they felt they may have needed to toss us some more crumbs to calm us down, but they quickly realized that just the thought of more crumbs was enough to squash enough resistance that they could continue full steam ahead in empire-building.

Your distorted view of communism probably has you believing that communism is about someone standing at a podium pounding their fist and demanding everyone just do as they say, and then they just do it...Well, I tried this and it doesn’t work : ) People become leaders of revolutionary movements because what they’re putting forth represents the will of the people. As is the case in Nepal now, when revolutionary leadership fails to represent the interests of the people there are splits and new leadership begins to arise.

If you think there are only two roads that humanity can take, then you have proven my point that you see things only in black and white and that you have simply taken a one-sided perspective. Why is it that people so often fail to see the subtleties and intricacies between two extremes? That you are so one-sided is made even more obvious by your continuing to state that I am somehow a capitalist when I have stated repeatedly that I am not. In fact I happen to think socialism is just fine as a middle way, and we in America would do well to stop lambasting it as somehow evil when the rest of the advanced world accepts socialism in principle and in practice. We in the US accept socialism in practice but are blind to this, and reject it in principle only, which is just stupid.

 

"There is no other way, period. It’s not about “my thing” versus “your thing” it’s about a scientific analysis." Hah, what a joke! I don't think you know what in the hell you are talking about.

 

"You are as deluded as they come." Yep, right back atcha. Have fun trying to convince people to become communists, you and the libertarians have so much in common it's ridiculous!

Except for one thing... Obama never promised, mentioned or even hinted at ever having any desire whatsoever to nationalise banks. I have no idea where you would get that concept from.

I do think it's a little unfair to blame someone for not doing something that they never ever had any intention of doing.

We at least need to be rational in our criticisms...

TNT, the idea of nationalizing the banks was discussed even among Obama's inner circle. Read "Confidence Men" and get yourself informed.

Are you equating bank bailouts / improved legislation / increased taxation with nationalisation? Cuz I've just read several dozen reviews of this book, and several overview pages, and can see not even hints of 'nationalisation'. I don't generally read documents who's sole purpose appears to be to the sullying of one political character, no matter which party they're from.

Also, to discuss theoretical concepts such as nationalisation in the privacy of little groups is entirely different from making a public promise and then breaking it.

The public cannot blame a leader for a non-existent promise.

I am really curious why YOU (not the book) had the impression that he would nationalise banks. I was living in the USA during that entire period and before, paid close attention to his politics, and never saw any such promises.

TNT, YOU have a pretty funny idea of what it means to be rational. First of all, "The public cannot blame a leader for a non-existent promise." Really? So as long as a leader doesn't make any explicit promises about what (s)he's going to do, they can do anything they damn well feel like? Like permitting torture, or waging war on countries without provocation, etc.? That stuff is all cool? We can't blame them for doing whatever they want with the trust of the public? You've got some pretty bizarre ways of thinking.

 

And let's say for arguments sake that nationalizing the banks was what was in the best interest of the country, and let's say further that the financial collapse didn't happen only a few months before the elections (when it was not in Obama's interests to make big claims about what he would do as President since he was already winning the election), but happened after he became President. Does it matter that he didn't make any promises to that effect, or is it rational to hope that he would do what is best for the country? And why are you making such an irrationally-big fucking deal out of this anyway? All I said was that "I had high hopes that Obama was going to nationalize the banks when he took office". Did I SAY he made any such promises? No, I fucking well didn't. And instead of reading reviews and overviews, you should read the book itself before you accuse me of making things up about it.

Nationalisation of health care had 1000x more feasibility potential than 'nationalisation' of banking, and the citizens of the USA have amply demonstrated that they're not ready for such a beneficial nationalisation. Any idea of nationalising the banking system in the USA is SO infeasible, I wouldn't waste time on it.

And thanks but no thanks, there are much more valuable readings to me than character smearing books.

Put yourself in a president's shoes (any, even community organisations) and see if you're going to chose battles that have a chance of succeeding, albeit small, or campaigns that you know ahead of time will fail.

I'll be rational.  Obama signed into law an unconstitutional bill that allows the U.S. military to arrest U.S. citizens, without charges, without access to an attorney, indefinitely, and secretly.  Obama took an oath to uphold the Constitution.  Oh, and he took it on the bible.

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