"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."
—Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)"Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves."
—Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
(Swans - January 11, 2010) REMINDER TO THE ARITHMETICALLY CHALLENGED: The first decade of the 21st century will end on December 31, 2010 -- check your calendar. The AD calendar began in year one -- not zero. Use the fingers of your two hands to figure this one out, for good sake. We still are in the noughties and have yet to reach the teenies. Get it? It may look like a difference without a difference but that most basic error goes a long way toward highlighting the level of ignorance within the so-called educated classes. No wonder they are clueless when it comes to confronting the multiple crises that the world is facing.
TAKE THE PANTY BOMBER as the latest example of idiotic decision making: Forget about the dots not being connected, which is a regular happenstance within the hyper-bloated intelligence apparatus that spends much time and resources reading and listening to people's communications, and to spy on, disturb, and arrest old antiwar ladies and other non-violent dissenters. No, the response followed the usual script. First, ratchet up fear mongering and airport security screenings, thus squeezing holiday travelers further; then announce the launching of ever-more intrusive pornographic scanners, which, if you are aware enough you'll have noticed, were in the plan all along (a bit like the Patriot Act passed under Bush Jr., but that came off the shelves of the Clinton administration); and, of course, a full review of the mess-up is commanded by Obama -- we do love reviews in America (what went awry, how to fix it? etc., etc., etc.), as though a problem can be fixed all the while ignoring its actual roots (like having meddled violently in other countries for decades, to give but one example). But that was not enough. What was required was to add a layer of absurdity on top of three layers of repeated idiocies -- the singling out of passengers in provenance from 14 countries: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Yemen.
INDEED, WHY NOT ADD insult to injury? Further crippling an already crippled airline industry by increasing inconvenience to an increasingly recalcitrant traveling crowd may appear costless to our policymakers. After all, what Charles de Gaulle once said in reference to the French people, ils sont des veaux, can easily translate as "Americans are sheep" in light of the flow of ignominies upon ignominies thrown at them repeatedly in the name of safety. Remember, following the shoe bomber people were told to take their shoes off at airport screenings -- 800 million domestic travelers, 1.6 billion shoes! There seems to be a bottomless propensity on the part of the American people to call in daddy and follow orders under the flimsy rationale that if one has nothing to hide, one has nothing to fear, which keeps being peddled by the gatekeepers as the 14th Amendment withers. Foreigners, however, tend to consider these humiliating inconveniences slightly differently. Travel to the U.S. has gone down a whopping 17 percent in the past 9 years. That's about 60 million people who have eschewed visits to the country with the subsequent negative economic effects. So now the U.S. has directed, like any mafia boss would do, that any passenger flying from those 14 countries be body-searched and highly screened (some day, be sure of that, body orifices will also be searched!). How did these 14 countries end up on this list? Apparently, they are deemed to either be state sponsors of terrorism or have active al Qaeda cells within their borders.
CUBA, SPONSORING TERRORISM or having anything to do with al Qaeda should be laughable news to the Cubans, who have been the object of terrorist attacks for the past 50 years directly sponsored or instigated and initiated by no one else but successive US administrations. It so baffles the mind that one remains speechless in front of such hypocritical and blatantly false blather. What to make of the other 13 countries on the list, except that they are the result of a thoughtless and rapidly assembled litany of bureaucratic hubbub that deflects from once again addressing the root causes of terrorism? Think of it another way. Say you are a deadly terrorist bound to harm the American people: will you now fly from any of those 13 countries? The panty would-be bomber appeared to have been particularly incompetent in his dream to join the virgins in paradise, but in a world where the blind leads the deaf (no offense to the disabled), it looks like once again, in the midst of controlled idiocy, the happy few still keep laughing all the way to the bank, and the masses are, as always, screwed.
TALKING ABOUT THE HAPPY FEW, did you notice that the U.S. shed about 4.6 million jobs in 2009, and that, narrowly speaking, there are give and take about 15.3 million unemployed people in this great country (the richest in the world, according to the Almanac and the Homo ignoramus out there)? Did you also notice that Wall Streeters, widely bailed out by your good selves -- the taxpayers (don't worry, the debts will never be repaid), with amounts of money that cannot be fathomed by an honest mind (can you figure out $12 trillion?) -- are reported to collect some $200 billion in bonuses -- in line with what they received in 2007, before you had to bail them out -- for the great job they accomplished in 2009 thanks to your money? Ask yourselves this question: What would $200 billion do for the unemployed? Let's see: Take one unemployed and pay him or her $10 an hour for forty hours a week and 50 weeks of work. That would be $20,000 for one year, right? Now, divide $200 billion by 20,000 and see what you get -- 10 million, right? In other words, the $200 billion in bonuses would pay for 10 million people earning $20,000 a year -- money that these people, still poorly paid, would immediately spend into the economy. Or these bonuses would pay about $43,500 for one year to each of the 4.6 million people who lost their job in 2009. Or again, just to keep things in perspective, these bonuses would cover 57 percent of the projected $350 billion shortfalls that the states will face in FY 2010 and 2011, forcing them to further slash their social services. Of course, this different kind of allocating resources that would be fairer to the many would be detrimental to the few. Argh, what a conundrum! And who controls the game?
DON'T TAKE THE MESSAGE WRONGLY, whether it is populist or, gawd forbid, communistic (aka, radicals and terrorists), the happy few, I must report, are suffering direly. Our hearts and minds (you still have a mind, don't you?) should pull forth for these happy few facing terrible times. You see, people known as "ultra high net worth individuals" ($50 million and over makes you an UHNWI) -- currently, about 20,000 in the world, over 25 percent residing in the U.S. -- have been losing a lot of money. According to the venerable Forbes magazine, which dutifully records the super-rich class on a yearly basis, the net worth of the UHNWIs shrunk from $4.3 trillion to $2.4 trillion ever since the financial and economic crises began in 2007. Worse yet, the number of billionaires has declined from 1,125 to 793. To not commiserate with that suffering -- so much suffering -- will indicate, within our intelligence agencies, that you are soulless and deserving of encumbered attention on the part of those who want you to remain poor and idiots and those who want to remain rich and idiots too. See, idiots are to be balanced among the poor and the rich. Idiots are the (lowest) common denominator. We are all the same, but some are more equal (and idiotic) than others!
THINKING OF THE BANKSTERS and their bonuses, ask yourselves where you keep your worthless money and your bank account(s). This is directed to my American readers, but can be extrapolated all over the world. Do you have your money (checking and savings accounts, credit card(s)) in the too-big-to-fail (TBTF) banks -- say, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and the like? Doesn't the financial compensation of these corporate chieftains piss you off when your small savings are not even remunerated fairly, courtesy of the Fed? Aren't you tired (and upset) with the failure of Congress to deal with the inane status quo? Well, why not acting on your anger in a productive fashion and, contrary to the reactionary agenda of the Tea Partiers, make a personal move that will be heard all the way into the corridors of power? Move your money from the TBTF banks to community banks or credit unions. Some of those banks are quite solid and secure. They deal with local businesses and local people. Check this site, Move Your Money. Enter your zip code. You'll find some strong banking operations that could serve your purpose. Make sure that the CEOs are not paid extravagantly. Full disclosure: We are presently banking at one of these TBTF banks (except for our Swans account, which is at the Redwood Credit Union), but we are looking into our next move -- Westamerica Bank in California looks promising, though not a certainty. Their CEO, David Payne, was paid (as of January 2008) a $371,000 salary and received a bonus of $450,000. Still a lot, but compared to the $10 million and more paid to the executives of the TBTFs, it is a significant improvement.
REMEMBER, not that long ago (in the 1960s) a typical CEO was paid about 24 times as much as the average worker. Now, it's more like 300 times the average wage in the corporation, and the marginal tax rate for high-income earners was between 90 and 70 percent back then compared to 35 percent today. In the past 40 years we have moved from a system of progressive redistribution of wealth to a regressive ideology that brought forth the era of the new Robber Barons and the immiseration of the multitude. We, as a society, have abandoned the sense of the collective and promoted individualism, the all-that-you-can-be mentality in material terms, with the ensuing devastation that this staggering (and criminal) folly has laid upon us. It's about time to bring back a sense of the collective, no?
WHETHER ALL OF THE ABOVE makes sense is for you to decide. At the very least, I know my calendar!
. . . . .
C'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can.the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.
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