Sunday, December 8

100 years later and nothing has changed

From Charles August Lindbergh’s “Banking and Currency and the Money Trust”, (published in 1913).  Chapter 6:
“Everyone should realize that it is not possible for us to secure absolute justice in all practical dealings, and that there will be more or less inequality under any condition that man can establish.  But that fact does not justify our support of practices that, by their natural application, make a few men immensely wealthy, create many parasites, and make industrial slaves of the masses.  Our present system does all of that by its very nature.  By that I mean that the law as it now stands and is interpreted by the courts and legislatures, forces that condition upon us and the manner in which commerce and speculation go on forces the people into unfavorable conditions even more rapidly than if the letter of the law were followed.
Government is properly the framing of rules of conduct thataid in rendering the results of transaction entered into by the people moreadvantageous, and not in fostering monopolies as it now does.  Bu the present social belief seems to be that Government should support the capitalists in the collection of interest, dividends, and rent charges which are so excessive that they cannot be collected except by an excessive reduction of the compensation made to those rendering useful services, and increasing the hours of labor for the producers.  The use of this false system is undermining the strength of our nation and will ultimately destroy it, unless we substitute a true economic one.  If interest, dividends, and rents were based on the economic savings of hoe to whom they are paid, or on capital acquired in a just and proper manner, there would be no dangerous accumulation.  A few do save and secure interest on some part of their actual earnings, but the general public does not save anything on which to collect either interest or dividends.
It does not seem credible that the farmer, the wage earner, and others should continue to perform useful services, when they know (at the same time) that that part of the product which is the result of their work, but in excess of their pay, and a proper compensation to the employer, forms dead capital on which they and their children will be taxed in the future by a geometrical progression of accumulated profits which will add to their daily burdens and force them and their children to continue living a life of poverty.  Does it seem possible that such a condition is supported by the laws of our land and the decrees of our courts?  Look at the great combinations of wealth, commonly known as trusts.  They are the logical effects of the geometrical progression of interest, dividends and rents, all of which result in a greater and greater centralization of material wealth to be possessed by those same trusts.  They are our masters now by virtue of the practice of that rule, and will continue to be just as long as we allow the present practices to continue.  They are the fruits resulting from the peoples’ toil and accumulated by the wealth absorbers who, by the rules of government and practice in business, possess the privilege of taxing all of the people.

…Who shall say that, understanding, we will permit the practice to go on indefinitely?  Who will deny our right to protect ourselves from such a system?  We absolutely know that no people can (on the past and present basis) produce so-called capital and centralize it in individual ownership, along with the right of the owners to tax us by the rule of geometrical progression of accumulative interest, dividends, and rents, without making of us a nation of insolvents and creating a condition of poverty for all men.  Most men are in a condition of poverty now.  Also, we absolutely know that the trusts, as a result of the centralizing of the control of the industrial agencies and material resources, operated in connection with their juggling of credits and money, have made us dependent upon the trusts for employment.  This is the industrial slavery that the capitalistic interests prefer to chattel slavery.  If we were chattel slaves they would have to care for us in sickness and old age, whereas now they are not concerned with us except for the time during which we work for them.”

Friday, July 19

President Obama Speaks On Trayvon Martin

President Obama makes a statement about Trayvon Martin and the verdict of the court trial that followed the Florida teenager's death.

Sunday, July 7

How long have the rules been in place?

Reading this in Charles Lindbergh Sr.'s "Lindbergh on the Federal Reserve", published in 1923:

The struggles of humanity in business and for the advantages of life are not realized by many of us to be a game.  Let us think of it as a game, for that is what it is when we take into consideration the way the capitalists treat it; and we shall name our game "Capital and Labor"
If we looked upon our business affairs as a game and ourselves as players, we should play better, without so much hard feeling, and we should also be more sportsmanlike, learn the tricks of the play and have the satisfaction of being on the winning side.  We all know we have the best equipment, for the laborers outnumber the capitalists, and are right.  We have not heretofore known the fine points of the game and so we have always lost.  It is not out lack of interest in sport.  Our intense interest in sports has been demonstrated on numerous occasions. 
It would be interesting to know what progress would be made toward securing industrial and political justice if we took as much interest in the game of life as we do over a prize fight or any of the other popular games.  When compared with the game of life - capital against labor - what a travesty the excitement of the people over that right fight appears!  The game of capital against labor is the greatest game of them all.   It is not staged, or styled by the press as a game.  But it is as adroitly maneuvered as a game, and has more fine points to win or lose than any other.  To know the game and to play it right decides between failure and success in life itself.
Most of us have not played this game right, so the capitalists have always won and the workers have always lost.  We should look for the scraps of information as eagerly as the" sports fans look for information on the latest game, "and then we would see the contest of capital against labor, and we would be in on the stakes, too. 
The capitalists line up to represent capital and the workers line up to represent labor.  The capitalists are the profiteers and speculators of various types, swivel-chair operators, gamblers - a miscellaneous assortment of schemers who seek to get and spend wealth that they have not earned or ever given service for.  Labor includes all those who are engaged in the production and exchange of goods and wearing apparel, and those providing for the conveniences and necessaries of life, of whatever kind.  We know the latter as farmers, wage workers, useful business operators, educators - everybody in fact that gives a service.  
The contest centers on the ownership of property: the profiteers on one side seek to keep what they already have, adding what more they can, while labor on the other side - without income property to start with - seeks to gain capital by keeping the surplus of its own earnings.  Of the fine points, the principal one is for the capitalists to confuse the workers, and split them into different camps fighting among themselves over matters of no importance to the capitalists, while capital goes on with its game of exploiting them all.  
But politics control the rules of this game.  That makes politics important, for as the rules go so goes the game.  It is not a clean sport, and if baseball were played like it, it would be abolished by the public.  Those who make these rules are selfish and make the rules in their own favor; the other side cannot win; "the dice are loaded."  That is exactly what has happened in the game of capital against labor.  The capitalists have controlled politics and have always made the rules of the game; they have also always done their own refereeing.  
Politics have been controlled by a trick.  The decoy has been to hold up beautiful and true principles for honest action and consequent goodwill among men.  The same ideals, practically, are stated in different form, and make the excuse for political parties.  With parties formed, some of the players in the game on the side of capital, become candidates for public office in each of the parties, and preach the beautiful ideals and purposes of the party to which they belong, at the same time exposing the tricks of the candidates of the other parties.  Whichever candidates the voters flock to in the greatest numbers, win, but that does not mean that the party wins or the voters win. 
When the election is over the capitalists control.  They do not have to consider party principles in running the game, for after the original good deeds of a party have once won the voters' favor, those original, now hollow virtues are paraded and win again and again.  A few of the leaders form inner circles, controlling those of their own gang on the outside by the bribes of patronage, committee places or other favors.  Thus the machine is built.  The game is won.  
The rank and file of the people - the workers - are on the outside with no knowledge of what goes on inside, except that they have the costs and expenses of the thousands of different to pay in taxes.  The capitalists play bolder and bolder until a lot of workers who ordinarily play into their hands, every now and then get disgusted, join with the workers who have stood by their own game, and together elect a few who have taken advantage of the discord to exploit themselves and thus are called progressives.  Progressives usually rise on the tide of dissatisfaction, but many of them have no constructive ability behind them.  Besides, there are never enough elected at one time to have much influence in the building of government. 
Instead of getting excited over individuals who seek to build themselves up through our excitement over their game, let us have excitement over our own game, understanding the very things that control us.  Then it will not matter who happens to hold office: our general knowledge of the game and of our rights will compel the game to be played as it should be.  We have become glad many times within the memory of most of us now living, when we have kicked out a few of what we called the old reactionaries, stand-patters, and put progressives in their place.  But we have not progressed economically, industrially, or politically.  In all three we are worse off now than ever before.

Saturday, July 6

Robert Reich: How Unequal Can America Get Before We Snap?

I had the pleasure of attending this lecture given by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on the UC Berkeley campus on May 9, 2005.

Reich outlines the startling details of inequality of income, wealth and opportunity in the United States and asks, what will happen if these trends continue?

Eight years later, inequality has only gotten worse. One would imagine, or at least hope, that systemic inequality is unsustainable. But when will it become unbearable, unacceptable?

Wednesday, March 13

"This Is What Happens When A Journalist Forces A Banker To Actually Answer A Question"

From Upworthy... Irish journalist Vincent Browne confronts the European Central Bank's Klaus Masuch demanding to know why the Irish people should pay the expenses of a defunct bank.

Tuesday, February 19

Sunday, February 3

90 Years Later, What Has Changed?

From "Lindbergh on the Federal Reserve," published in 1923. In this excerpt, Charles Lindbergh quotes from an article published in 1892 in a banker's magazine.
Remedy has been attempted by alternately shifting from one to the other of the old political parties. It has been done so many times without substantial benefit that it has become a farce. Voters must realize that the old party leaders shout the ideals the people had in the original formation of the parties. Party leaders do that for propaganda purposes only. They proclaim good, and do evil. They invent all sorts of words and phrases and adopt platforms, all of which are not so bad in themselves, so far as they go, but are simply used as propaganda to fool the voters. In practice, not only are the ideals deserted but they are flagrantly violated.

The frequent panics forced upon the people are created by manipulation for the benefit of profiteers. Between panics we have what in comparison are called "good times." But times are never as good as they would be if business were done in the easiest and most proper way.

When a panic seems to be ended the people start in the build up again, thinking to profit by what they learned in the squeeze. But most of us learn nothing by panics except that we are hit severely. Just how and by whom we are hit, comparatively few of us know.

Before reviewing certain acts, it is well to observe the plan of the capitalists as stated in an article of thirty years ago. It was not intended for the public, but was propaganda to hold the big bankers together. The article was as follows:

We (meaning the bankers) must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of the people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will therefore show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance.

The Farmers’ Alliance and Knights of Labor organization in the United States should be carefully watched by our trusted men, and we must take immediate steps to control these organizations in our interest or disrupt them.

At the coming Omaha convention to be held July 4 (1892), our men must attend and direct its movement, or else there will be set on foot such antagonism to our designs as may require force to overcome. This at the present time would be premature. We are not yet ready for such a crisis. Capital must protect itself in every possible manner through combination and legislation.

The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.

When through the process of law the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of the government applied by a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders.

History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism.

The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organization known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection of reciprocity must be forced to view through the Republican Party.

By thus dividing the voters, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers of the common herd. Thus, by discrete action, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished.

The facts stated in the foregoing article are only too true. We have a tremendous responsibility to overcome the imposition of imperial wealth. For more than sixty years the odds have been tremendously against us. While we have been fighting questions of no importance to the wealthy, electing men to Congress because they claimed to belong to a political party which we happened to favor, irrespective of party these Congressmen have passed numerous bills for the benefit of profiteers, giving them the opportunity to exploit us through such measures as the Federal Reserve Bank Act and the Esch-Cummins Railway Act.

Even before the acts named became law, the profiteers were protected by legislation and combination of trusts. But wealth demanded even more than the strong arm the government had previously given. Through Congressmen whom the voters elected and through other public officials, the wealth group got possession of natural resources like water-powers, minerals, forests, etc. But the greatest of all public gifts were the new bank act and the new railway act."
Some background on the Esch-Cummins Act (from Wikipedia):
The United States had entered World War I in April 1917, and the government found that the nation's railroads were not prepared to serve the war effort. On December 26, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson had ordered that U.S. railroads be nationalized in the public interest. The Esch–Cummins Act of 1920, or Railroad Transportation Act, returned railroads to private operation after World War I. It authorized the government to make settlements with railroad carriers for matters caused by nationalization, such as compensation and other expenses. It also officially encouraged private consolidation of railroads and mandated that the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) ensure their profitability.

Wednesday, January 23

FRONTLINE investigates Obama's Failure to Prosecute Wall Street Banksters

FRONTLINE investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages.

Glenn Greenwald ("The Real Story Of How 'Untouchable' Wall Street Execs Avoided Prosecution") writes for The Guardian UK:

PBS' Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis — a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering.

What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.

What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: Namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with impunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.