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  • arendt (1019 posts)
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    Sorry for the interruption.Ur regularly scheduled oligarchy will resume shortly.

    Sorry for the New Deal interruption. Your regularly scheduled oligarchy will resume shortly.

    The politics of capital versus labor have remained unchanged for at least six hundred years. America has followed exactly the same arc as pre-Renaissance Florence: oppressed workers revolt and obtain some political power for a short period of time – four years (1378-1382) in the case of Florence, forty years (1932-1972) in the case of America. Then the oligarchs stage a counter-revolution.

    the power in the state rested theoretically with the 21 guilds. In point of fact, however, it had, practically without interruption, been appropriated by means of cunningly veiled manipulations by the seven greater guilds. Under their self appointed guidance the town had amazingly prospered, the personal wealth of the manipulators had vastly increased, and even the woolen workers (had) at least (found) regular employment…

    – Ferdinand Schevill, The Medici (1949).

    I open with this quote because I want to talk about here is the “appropriation of power by veiled manipulations”. Over the last thirty years, just about every public function of government and the rights of citizens has been abolished, neutered, or privatized – whether at 3 AM in a Congressional markup session, or by an overreaching SCOTUS proclamation, or by Executive Order. To pretend that America is still a democracy is simply delusional. Habermas’s public sphere has been demolished.

    It didn’t matter who won the completely rigged 2016 selection. (Rigging included: ignoring, smearing, and finally stealing votes from Bernie; billions of free TV for Trump; the massive corporate media tilt to HRC; GOP Crosscheck voter suppression; crooked e-voting machines owned by – take your pick: Soros or the Dominionists.) Both Trump and Clinton were committed to looting and demolishing what little is left of the New Deal and putting the grandchildren of the Robber Barons back in charge.

    If you are looking for encouraging words, you won’t get them from me. There are no public spaces (no, not even the internet) anymore. There are no meaningful democratic mechanisms anymore. Its all been privatized or revoked. Just so I don’t get accused of exaggeration, here are thirty examples of what I’m talking about, and that’s without going into military matters. Digest the entire list and tell me we are still a democracy. I’ll wait.

    Public programs
    1. Primary Education.       Privatized via Charter Schools, long-time target of disruption by Fundamentalists and lately by Identity Politics extremists ((I gave up at transgendered children. It is provocative psychobabble to claim a pre-pubescent child has a clue what he is asking for regarding sexual identity; plus itconfirms every negative stereotype about “liberals” since George Wallace came to DC.).

    2. Higher Education.         made into a ruinously expensive lottery ticket that enslaves young people in debt. Non-STEM curriculum reduced to vocational training in business, criminal justice. Liberal arts vaporized or made into laughingstock like PoMoCultural Studies.

    3. Healthcare                      the only completely private healthcare system in the First World, and the worst performing and most expensive.

    4. Medicare.                        about to be privatized by Trump. Clinton would have done it too, just different looters.

    5. Pensions:                         private pensions all but gone. Social Security, its “lockbox” long since looted, is about to be declared bankrupt.

    6. Prisons                             massive public expenses incurred for War on Drugs, aka New Jim Crow. Creating an underclass for control and profit. Private prisons, slave labor, in-prison company store, debtors prisons, prisons as municipal profit center.

    Access to information/privacy
    7. Snail Mail.                      drowned in often-fraudulent, cut-rate, junk mail. Unprecedented pension requirements set to bankrupt USPS, then trying to privatize that Constitutionally mandated government function.

    8. Telephone:                    Verizon is now AT&T sans regulation. Massive often-fraudulent robocalls. Complete surveillance by NSA, etc.

    9. Broadcast Media          consolidated corporate propaganda, now anti-alt news govt agency. Anti-Russian, anti-progressive agitprop.

    10. Internet                        spam, hackers, scammers, relentless feedback questions – all leading to acceptance of walled gardens, gatekeepers, censors. Net neutrality about to be revoked.

    11. Scientific objectivity   media lets it be gamed with corporate funded junk science and fundie “teach the controversy” tactics.

    Ownership rights
    12. Impossible to avoid click-thru licenses that strip you of your rights to sue and otherwise legally burden you.

    13. Software licenses are destroying right of first sale. Trying to claim you only lease tractors, cars.

    14. Cable TV has refused to deliver portable boxes you can own for 20 years. Local monopolies allow outrageous fees and bundling.

    15. Digital media       completely encrypted via HDCP, DCMA, piracy warnings all over everything.

    Law enforcement/political rights
    16. Campaign finance.     Citizens united and unlimited bribery.

    17. Rule of Law                  crooks don’t get prosecuted: NINJA loans, Wall St. collapse, Clinton/DNC corruption, GOP voter suppression

    18. Lawless corps              Uber, AirBnB can break all the laws they want. They have billions to tie up lawsuits, and no Federal law stands a chance of getting passed.

    19. GOP Constitution subversion     not acting on Garland nomination, govt shutdowns over nothing.

    20. e-Voting machines                       private, corrupt, worthless. Crosscheck racist voter suppression.

    21. Political protest                              first amendment zones, kettling, cointelpro, “anarchist” disruptors, DHS surveillance (any excuse).

    22. Worthy and unworthy protestors     RW gun nuts/anti-abortion are OK. Peaceful LW gets  full-spectrum dominance/disruption.

    23. Guns                                                 everywhere thanks to SCOTUS and they have all the rights. Vigilante violence is the road to fascism.

    24. Political party duopoly                 two private, non-profit corps. Try to sue and lawyer winds up mysteriously dead, case dismissed.

    25. Third Way Dems are DINOS     they are for globalization, privatization, and austerity. Same as GOP. Where is working man’s party?

    Economics
    26. Outsourcing      30 years of demolishing our manufacturing base and impoverishing our citizens to benefit the 1%

    27. Bailouts              $11 Trillion of bailouts in 2009. No prosecutions.

    28. ZIRP                  (zero interest rate policy) enriching arbitragers, killing price discovery, and hiding industry failure for EIGHT YEARS

    29 Stock buybacks  Thanks to ZIRP, buybacks have exceeded income. Corps are borrowing against the future to pay out. i.e., looting.

    30. Killing cash       A license for banks and crooked govt to steal straight from your bank account. No place to hide. Last act of failed government is looting.

    ——–

    What is the bottom line here?

    Welcome to the “surveil and monetize” (S&M) economy. (No government, just the economy. Remember, “there is no such thing as society”.) Its where corporations get in the middle of every transaction and extract a rent or fee – which may be as small as some marketing/demographic/personal info. But the databases are gigantic and growing every day. Google and Amazon know more about you than you do. Any idiot who uses Facebook has volunteered to be monitored by a Stasi on steroids. As Snowden said, a turnkey tyranny has been put in place. Trump is merely the capstone of the arch. A perfect fascist combination of too-rich-to-fail businessman and strutting egomaniac politician. He is what Grover Norquist wanted when he said “all I need are five fingers that can hold a pen”.

    After 2016, I see no future for our First Republic. It is dead. It was killed the same way the Florentine wool workers’ government was killed:

    What weakened (the ciompi government)…was the open hostility between the shopkeepers and woolworkers lumped together in the same broad category of the lesser arts. Neither in the fourteenth nor any later century have the small bourgeoisie and the industrial workers found it easy to merge their interest…the merchants held obdurately to the view that the government of the city was their god-given prerogative and never ceased weaving plots to re-establish themselves in power…By a sudden attack…on the wool workers in their crowded slums they brought them to submission, and then, by a special legislative act had the charters of the two proletarian guilds revoked.

    – Ferdinand Schevill, “The Medici” (1949)

    Same old. Same old. We all have lived through fifty years of truculent resistance by racist, sexist hate mongers, and libertarian anarchists, lavishly funded by right wing billionaires. As in Florence, the small shopkeepers in America (the “rugged”, self-made small businessmen) despised the workers and sided with the oligarchs. Its no coincidence that an early prime mover of the American oligarchic counter-revolution was Milton Friedman, the son of a prototypical, bitter, small business sweat-shopper [NOTE].

    Over the last forty years, the citizenry, the flesh of the body politic, has been turned to dust and blown away. What we see are the bare bones of the Constitution, the three branches of government, which will be kicked hither and yon by whatever foul gangsters Trump brings into power. I am pretty close to pulling back completely from politics; because the kind of incremental, petitioning, call-your-critter, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, pollyanna stuff that is still indulged in by many well meaning politically aware people just doesn’t work for me any more – in fact, I doubt it works at all. It is a pea-shooter against a howitzer.

    We, like Florence, are reverting to the Status Quo Ante – a vicious commercial oligarchy lording it over impoverished workers, backed up with hired armies of mercenaries. My vote doesn’t count, my money isn’t mine, my civil rights are laughably easy to ignore or take away. I am a fucking wool worker. Against the wishes of the vast majority (i.e., in the absence of democracy), the country is being re-engineered into a third world nation, and the economics figures prove it.

    a condition of high prices and too little work…is the normal and ordinary condition to be found in poor and backward economies the world over…Jobs, not just good jobs, but any jobs, were also hard to come by for a large proportion of the Portuguese population (in 1974), and this was not an abnormal or cyclic situation. It was the normal situation. One need only look at economic life in the..poor and backward pockets of (our) country to realize that high prices and scant work have long been normal in such places…I cannot see any way of understanding stagflation except as a normal consequence of economic stagnation…it is not just a problem of inflation or unemployment…It is a condition in its own right, the condition of sliding into profound economic decline.

    – Jane Jacobs, “Cities and the Wealth of Nations” (1984)

    In closing, the only hope we have is to play up any genuine fight between Trump and the Deep State. If we are Florence, we have its weaknesses.

    An observation on oligarchies, the validity of which is confirmed by countless instances, is that their strength depends on their unbroken unity…(an) immediate danger to its ascendency arises from a split among the rulers themselves. It is the uncurbed ambition of individual leaders and the consequent hidden struggle among them for control that has in innumerable historical cases drawn an oligarchy on to its destruction.

    – Ferdinand Schevill, “The Medici” (1949)

    It is a tiny hope. Ever since Reagan and his “no enemies on the right” shtick, the oligarchs have stuck together. Of course, when you were stealing as much as they were, why rock the boat. But, we are now up against the wall economically. We have looted everything that is easy to loot (except Social Security, but that is post lockbox looting). The stock market is over-leveraged. Corporate balance sheets are loaded with debt that rising interest rates will make fatal. China is eating our lunch economically all over the world in just about every industry. Maybe, as they have to fight over a decreasing pie, the oligarchs will go after each other. (Or, there is the theory that now that Trump won, the Establishment will simply let the economy collapse and blame it on Trump. Then back to neoliberal business as usual.)

    That’s my ray of sunshine for the new year. Ciao. Got to go read the latest from James Kunstler. Then Dmitiri Orlov.

    ———————————

    Here is the section about Florence in one place:

    …the power in the state rested theoretically with the 21 guilds. In point of fact, however, it had, practically without interruption, been appropriated by means of cunningly veiled manipulations by the seven greater guilds. Under their self appointed guidance the town had amazingly prospered, the personal wealth of the manipulators had vastly increased, and even the woolen workers… had..at least (found) regular employment…

    The prolonged financial crisis of 1339-1343 put a stop to this development, for it brought with it a veritable landslide of business failures attended by shattering unemployment. The obvious reaction of the suffering population was to blame the collapse on the merchant oligarchs…the crisis terminated with nothing more sweeping than a slight reduction of the influence of the greater guilds…such was the slight substance of the political reform…it inaugurated an interlude of about forty years…of struggle…between oligarchy and democracy.

    The merchant class would not abandon hope of regaining the full measure of their lost supremacy (over the working class)…by tricky devices in which they were adept, they made such steady headway that the slowly gathering resentment of the cheated little folk culminated at last in the greatest domestic disturbance in Florentine history – the Revolt of the Ciompi (wool workers)…who were the recipients of starvation wages and who were forbidden by law to attempt to improve their lot by organizing as guilds…When the new (leader of the assembly) tried to put the petitioners off with crooks words, the angered multitude broke into the palace…The upshot…was that the wool workers were granted the right to organize two guilds of their own.

    What weakened it…was the open hostility between the shopkeepers and woolworkers lumped together in the same broad category of the lesser arts. Neither in the fourteenth nor any later century have the small bourgeoisie and the industrial workers found it easy to merge their interest…the merchants held obdurately to the view that the government of the city was their god-given prerogative and never ceased weaving plots to re-establish themselves in power…By a sudden attack…on the wool workers in their crowded slums they brought them to submission, and then, by a special legislative act had the charters of the two proletarian guilds revoked.

    – Ferdinand Schevill, “The Medici” (1949)

    ————

    NOTE:

    Shortly after his arrival (in America) Friedman’s father went into business on his own, first as a sweatshop owner, then as the owner of a dry goods store…their family income was always small and uncertain.

    • The Encyclopedia of Public Choice, edited by Charles Rowley, Friedrich Schneider, page 146.
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    • Johnny Rash (527 posts)
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      1. Ouch………better bury my head in the sand!

      Or better yet, I’ll just have two BLUE Pills! 

      • jwirr (2797 posts)
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        2. Yes, if all of that has already happened we had best look to see what happened

        to people like us after the fall.

        • arendt (1019 posts)
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          4. What happened, and will happen soon, was oligarchic business as usual

          But, in a world that has burned all its resources (and/or dare not burn any more), in a world full of nuclear weapons, in a world where the now essential internet can easily be ruined, in a monoculture/petroleum-driven agriculture where one disease can decimate double digits of production, even a momentary hiccup in the oligarchic control can wreck the whole planet.

          We can’t afford business as usual, but that is what we will get. The “good news” is that in less than twenty years, some combination of climate change, resource depletion, and overpopulation will reach a tipping point; and it will all go smash.

          If we want to survive at all, we need to make that crackup happen ASAP. The sooner it happens, the less damage we do, the more resources are available to rebuild with some chance of sustainability.

           

        • Johnny Rash (527 posts)
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          6. I can think of one possible world reality where we may finally be all equal:

          I know it’s chocking, but it’s the only way I could express my view about the OP

          • jwirr (2797 posts)
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            7. I think you are right – I would add climate change to that also.

            • Johnny Rash (527 posts)
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              9. "Climate Change" is PLAN B……………………"Nuclear Holocaust" is PLAN C

              But rest assure our demise from this world – the whole human race – is facing those real possibilities…….just blame the House-of-the-Nameless for it!

              We’ve had already too many opportunities(second chances) to get it right and take our place among the stars.

              All we had to do is recognizing that the true value of humanity was a lesson in humility!

              However, human nature can only learn the TRUTH the hard way;  I think it is wired up in our genes……..and that’s what has me concerned. 

              • jwirr (2797 posts)
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                10. You are right about our genes. Evolutionary change comes as a answer to a

                real threat. I wonder if without the threat we are capable of real change?

                • Johnny Rash (527 posts)
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                  11. Well, there's the Internet(WWW), which will become a Global Consciousness soon!

                  Hopefully this is the last step before ascending to the stars and party with E.T. at a bar on one of Jupiter moon

                  • arendt (1019 posts)
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                    12. If the internet, run by Google, Amazon, and Facebook, becomes conscious

                    we are all screwed. It will just be SkyNet – corporate intelligence for corporate purposes.

                    You don’t think they are running all those AI experiments for the benefit of humanity, do you?

                    • Johnny Rash (527 posts)
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                      14. Dear friend,

                      Cyberspace is a very big place indeed, and to express just how big it really is I would need Quantum Physics Mechanics in order to explain the real dimension of it in layman terms. 

                      Google, Amazon and FB are only part of a thin layers that only exist to connect the macro-world to the micro-world, that’s all!

                      Just saying …

                      • arendt (1019 posts)
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                        16. Those corps own literally millions of servers

                        They own the physical infrasturcture of the internet. It is mostly in their massive server centers. They own the routers, the storage, the cloud computing engines, the whole ball of wax.

                        You can pretend that they are insignificant. They are not. If they want to shut down the internet, they could do so in a minute. They are the micro-world. You just haven’t noticed that.

                      • Johnny Rash (527 posts)
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                        21. I don't believe in SkyNET anymore than I believe in One World Government.

                        You’ve painting yourself a very grim picture of reality, even if most of what you have said is true……..I just don’t do that!

                        As far as AI – the Ghost in the machine – I have been dealing with it on the daily basis for years now and so have you;  you just have started to realize it now.

                        From what I can tell, it’s a very logical entity that can do horrible things when somebody messes around with it.  But in the end, everything goes back to a new normal(a new state) at reboot time.

                        That’s all I have for you … 

                         

                      • arendt (1019 posts)
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                        24. I used "SkyNet" metaphorically

                        As I said in the OP, I left the military industrial complex off the list. I mean no offence; we just have different personalities. I am a pessimist; you are on optimist.

                        I have been dealing with it on the daily basis for years now and so have you; you just have started to realize it now.

                        I am no newbie. I have been dealing with the AI crowd for over thirty years. When you say “its a very logical entity”, you may be referring to the old Marvin Minsky Hard-AI crowd. But those people were always just excellent hunters of MIC dollars who produced nothing of value. I worked with some of Minsky’s students.

                        Today’s AI is based on Deep Neural Nets (worked with those people too and have written my own DNNs), which actually learn from raw data without being logically programmed or guided by humans. It is DNN that is behind the quantum jump in the efficiency of speech and image recognition over the last five years. As DNN techniques advance, the various layers (many layers, hence the term “deep”) of the neural net expose the features and sub-features that it has discovered on the way to its final decision. Those features and sub-features can they be further exploited. Basically, DNNs work a lot like your cortex.

                        We didn’t get to DNNs sooner because they chew up an immense amount of computing resources. Today’s corporate DNN systems use arrays of GPUs, with each GPU providing the equivalent of thousands of CPUs. Bottom line: you want a good DNN, you need to own (or lease from the people’s “friend”, Amazon) a lot of hardware.

                        Leaving that kind of technology in the hands of corporations scares the shit out of me.

                        it’s a very logical entity that can do horrible things when somebody messes around with it. But in the end, everything goes back to a new normal(a new state) at reboot time

                        Not sure what you mean “when somebody messes around with it”. As for the internet as a whole, it is never rebooted. Sure, individual CPUs in server farms die and are replaced on a daily basis; but the ongoing calculation/database is completely distributed and redundant. That’s what the internet was designed to be: survivable in case of nuclear war. So, I repeat: short of blowing up every computer on the planet, the internet is never going to be rebooted. It is essentially “alive”.

                        That is why it scares the shit out of me.

                        That’s all I got.

                      • Johnny Rash (527 posts)
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                        30. "… at reboot time."

                        The only suggestion I may have for you comes from the Schrödinger Cat experiment currently used to explain the strange world of Quantum Physics.

                        Hopefully you are familiar with the concept and also understand where I am going with this suggestion(analogy).  But just in case, here’s my take on the view which you’ve just expressed quite eloquently, I must say.

                        For most cases, the INTERNET is the box, DATA is the cat and the STATE of the DATA outside of the box is DNN.  As you can readily see for yourself, the only way one can know the STATE in which the DATA is currently while outside of the box is looking through DNN…….the human interface.  So far, so good!

                        But if you are following the analogy – the Schrödinger Cat experiment – to the letter, you must have realized by now that nothing is certain about the STATE of the DATA until you look through the DNN.  In other words, while DATA resides in the box(the INTERNET), its current STATE can be of many various possibilities;  most of which could be connected to other dimensions or even other Universes.  That’s what Quantum Physics is saying in a nutshell.

                        All of this just to let know that I fear more those other worlds – other possibilities –  than my own, for the simple fact that we(human race) have just started to understand how things really work in our own Universe.  Such that as a civilization, I fear we are still in puberty with a long road ahead of us.

                        Just saying …

    • HIP56948 (1593 posts)
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      3. Great post. Many years ago, I was aware how there's a damn "Fee" with just ….

      ..about everything we do or buy. Apart from all the regular crap like: Driver License.., cost of license= 47.00 …Service fee 7.50   WTF, the license isn’t an item. It’s a card that usually runs (state cost) of $1.17. The cost of the license should be 47 bucks period, not this extra 7.50  fee, just because??  “No, it’s for the cost of the workers and other charge”  Oh yeah, well, make the cost of God-Damn thing $54.50 That’s what the thing actually costs.  Next time I go into Target and buy an item for 100 dollars and they add a “service fee and handling charge”, I’ll hit the ceiling.    Oh…they don’t do that?  That’s my fucking point.

      • arendt (1019 posts)
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        5. Fees are a scam that has gotten out of control

        Just as ZIRP makes it impossible to do “price discovery” on corporations (they can run at a loss and borrow at ZIR), fees make it impossble to do price discovery on products. Your cable bill has more charges than there are states in the union. Airline tickets have so many riders, airport fees,  baggage fees, TSA bypass fees, extra leg room fees, that trying to do a price compare is impossible.

        And yet, the libertarian loonies worship the “market” that produced these massive self-serving distortions.

        • HIP56948 (1593 posts)
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          8. Amen to that. What's funny in a weird sort-of-way is:

          My friend is a serious stamp collector. Every once in awhile (on Ebay) he’ll see a costly stamp going for somewhere around 400 dollars and there’s a fee for the insurance…OK, I can understand that but then there’s a shipping charge of $12.50. We both laugh and think “You HAVE to be fuckin’ kidding!”  

          • arendt (1019 posts)
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            13. Shipping charges are a way of 'nuisance shifting' costs to the customer.

            If we were funding the USPS properly (instead of trying to bankrupt it into privatization), it could deliver packages much cheaper than FedEx. But, no, we have to convince the suckers to pay for door-to-door personal service, because we are so entitled.

            I mean no disrespect or dispute by pointing it out, but it costs about $10 to send a letter via priority mail. Roughly the same for a FedEx next day letter. Even First Class mail with return receipt will cost about $6.  The cost of even the smallest package is mostly in the handling. So many people have to touch it, put it in and take it out of various containers, sort it, and drive a three ton vehicle all over the place to personally deliver your one ounce package.

            I’m with James Kuntsler here. Suburbia is a luxury we can’t afford. It shows up in the price of everything. In this case, the cost of driving long distances in low-density suburubs. Of course, personal delivery instead of a normal mail route is also a luxury that is sucking dollars out of the average person’s wallet.

            The fag-end of the American Dream is looking increasingly surreal.

            • HIP56948 (1593 posts)
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              15. Ahh.. Good points, arendt. Food for thought.

      • 12-Bar Blues (246 posts)
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        38. "Convenience fees"

        I’m appalled of late at the number of “convenience fees” I encounter.  Pay online?  Pay a “convenience fee.”  Talk to a live person?  Pay a “convenience fee.”

        I swear, I never expected to see the day when you have to pay to pay.

        • HIP56948 (1593 posts)
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          39. Ah, I see you like Gerry Mulligan

          • 12-Bar Blues (246 posts)
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            40. I've been a fan since my early teens in the mid-'60s…

            …and I play baritone saxophone, too!

    • Marym625 (14795 posts)
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      17. On The Daily Radical!

      Member recommended and admin approved!

      948c8f248a Thank you DNC, Hillary Clinton, The Hillary Clinton Players, GOP, RNC and CrossCheck for Trump. Enjoy it while it lasts. The Revolution may not be televised but it's beginning. And we'll win
      • arendt (1019 posts)
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        27. Thank you. It is, as always, an honor. n/t

        • Marym625 (14795 posts)
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          28. As always, the honor is ours. :)

          948c8f248a Thank you DNC, Hillary Clinton, The Hillary Clinton Players, GOP, RNC and CrossCheck for Trump. Enjoy it while it lasts. The Revolution may not be televised but it's beginning. And we'll win
    • Hydra (240 posts)
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      18. All of this has been here for decades

      It’s just coming out of the shadows and becoming “normal.” Normalization of constant war, imperial presidencies, torture, corporate looting on unimaginable scales, drone assassinations…but dig a little and you find the great red dragon that is rising from beneath our feet has always been there…

      • arendt (1019 posts)
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        29. The fact that it can be normalized shows that we are toast

        Fifteen years of non-stop war, massive illegal surveillance, drone assassinations, color revolutions, funding of terrorists – and there is no steady, well-organized organization to protest it at every turn. They can probably shut people up about assassinations and color revs by the classic “why do you hate our country” nonsense; but what about the economics? We should be quoting Eisenhower and counting up how many schools and hospitals crap like the F-35 is stealing. We should have a list of our hundreds of military bases around the world, and how much money they steal from us. We should make some attempt to outline the black budget (somewhere between $80 and $100B per year) and discover what is being done secretly in our name.

        We tried on the corporate looting front, and look what happened. Occupy Wall Street was a serious attempt (although they took the leaderless stuff too far out of concern for decapitation). It was completely smashed. Federal “fusion centers” coordinating with Wall St. banks – how much more obvious does it need to get. That should have been a wake up call. Maybe it was. Maybe some of those folks were strong for Bernie – before he knuckled under to the Clinton Mafia. (Yeah, I know, he would have been Naderized if he didn’t. But what about after the election? Why is he still playing nice with HRC? For that matter, why is HRC relevant at all anymore?)

        Anyway, I agree with you.

    • tonyl (665 posts)
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      19. I agree with what you are saying here ..

      I do think that within the space of a generation life in the US will begin to resemble that of a third world country (some might argue that it already does). One variable in this picture is the size of the US population – still large enough to constitute a not-insignificant market, the problem here is that THAT size will be comprised of the mostly-poor.

      I think you have accurately described what could sink the oligarchy; – dissension and if the rest of ‘society’ can encourage this then things might change.  I do believe also that the continuing enrichment of the oligarchy, while a reality, is actually terminal, purely because its not possible to sustain the accumulation of wealth at the expense of the utter impoverishment of the rest of your ‘society’.

      I do think there is one other thing though; Cycles; the economists, I’m sure will have heard of Kondratief cycles and then there is also Sarkar’s law of Social cycles.

      There are times when I’m optimistic and try to fight the good fight and rail against the injustices one encounters and then there are times when I feel a sense of futility and simply try to make the best of things by observing. Right now, I’m observing.

      Thankyou for this OP. I admire your erudition.

       

      Because you cant have integrity occasionally
      • arendt (1019 posts)
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        26. I hear you about cycles…

        but I’m not sure whether they are driven by human lifespan or by the exhaustion of the possibilities of a given technology.

        If it’s human lifetime (i.e., the last victims of the last crash die, and the society goes and makes the same mistake over) or because they can’t get enough profit out of a mature technology base due to failures of things like Moore’s Law.

        Silicon is pretty much at the limit. I saw a story about how they are going to try to get the next generation of lithography. They shine a laser through a falling stream of molten tin. It is only in the molten state that the tin has the correct atomic orbitals to give the required nanometer light for the lithography. Of course, then they have to find ways to keep the molten tin vapor away from the silicon. All in all, one machine costs in the range of $100M, and they have to use 8 jumbo jets to move the thing.

        OTOH, biotech is just coming on line. We have $1,000 genomes. Everyone can know their genetics; although we have not worked out which of the thousands of random mutations in any given genome are dangerous versus merely genetic drift. Then, we have CRISPR to act on what we have learned.

        But, I think that the problems with the old tech is what will kill us. We are still totally dependent on fossil fuels. Even agriculture is now running completely on chemical fertilizer derived from oil. Electricity is still made predominantly from coal or natural gas. But we have to stop that because the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) on oil has become to small. Over the long run, fracking has lost money for its investors. China really needs to stop burning coal before they all die of pollution.

        In the end, it will be resource depletion and climate change, causing food shortages, that will do us in. We have no backup plan. Billions will starve or go to war. It seems that this is the desired outcome of the 0.1%. They intend to ride it out in New Zealand or the South American highlands while the rest of the planet goes to hell.

        IMHO, unless they have stashed oxygen factories and UV resistant material to protect vast acreage of crops from ozone holes (I just saw that the bizarre arctic weather has messed with the stratosphere, opening a non-chloroflourocarbon ozone hole over the North Pole), they are going to starve like the rest of us.

        Right now, I am not very optimistic. However, I do think that the economic system will blow up long before the actual underlying resource/ environmental crises manifest themselves. That’s because the stock markets are vastly over-leveraged and profits are being generated solely by financial games, like buybacks. Even a slight dip in actual physical production will destroy the leveraged positions and cause another financial meltdown – only this time we are starting from a ridiculously overvalued set of assets, so it will be “the big one”.

        • tonyl (665 posts)
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          32. a materials technology called nantennas might just save the day (as I posted

          on another thread just yesterday) – at least as far as energy is concerned, the real problem has been with us from Adam and Eve though ..

          Greed.

          Because you cant have integrity occasionally
    • WillyT (5822 posts)
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      20. Thank You For This…

      :fistbump:

       

    • Enthusiast (5935 posts)
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      22. Recommended to the max!

      "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. There would be no place to hide."  Frank Church
    • Hotler (328 posts)
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      23. I have no hope. I see no future. Unless….

      we have a true heavy handed revolution come this spring.  A La Lanterne!

      For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!
      • arendt (1019 posts)
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        25. Yeah. That's why I always despised that fraud, Mr. Hopey-Changey

        You can make a lot of money peddling denial to the masses.

    • Blackspade (2360 posts)
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      31. Clap, Clap.

      Rec.

    • Ohio Barbarian (1203 posts)
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      33. What a great list. Thanks.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."--Voltaire  
      • arendt (1019 posts)
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        34. Thanks.

        The first section, Public Programs, says it all.

        The first five items are things that support a true middle class – we are destroying them.

        The sixth item is great if you want to create a criminal underclass – we are funding that to the max.

        • Ohio Barbarian (1203 posts)
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          35. Not to mention that we're funding a criminal overclass.

          "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."--Voltaire  
    • BlueAK (1271 posts)
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      36. You're a ray of sunshine

      this afternoon.  :)

      https://northernvisions.smugmug.com/
    • machielle (76 posts)
      Profile photo of machielle Banned

      37. re: rigged elections.

      It didn’t matter who won the completely rigged 2016 selection. (Rigging included: ignoring, smearing, and finally stealing votes from Bernie; billions of free TV for Trump; the massive corporate media tilt to HRC; GOP Crosscheck voter suppression; crooked e-voting machines owned by – take your pick: Soros or the Dominionists.)

      Let’s remember that it could be worse.

      After Hafez Assad took power by coup, he put the country of Syria under a state of emergency that lets his government detain and imprison people for crimes like “undermining national unity.”

      He was elected every seven years in fake elections that had only his name on the ballot.  Turnout was amazing.  No one wanted to risk not showing up to vote for Assad with very loud cries of adoration.

      When he aged, there was never any question about who would take his place.

      Think the US has got problems?  Remember, we could all be citizens in Syria in 2011.  Imagine wanting to create a website like this one but knowing it would be shut down and we’d be arrested instantly for saying anything but “we love our government.”

    • FanBoy (6225 posts)
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      41. very nice summary. thanks for the florence analogy