Next Steps for OWS

The leaderless Occupy Movement should quietly thank Mayor Bloomberg for ending the encampment in Zuccotti Park. As Ad Busters, the culture jamming magazine which first proposed Occupy Wall Street, suggested yesterday that there are two routes forward.

STRATEGY #1: We summon our strength, grit our teeth and hang in there through winter … heroically we sleep in the snow … we impress the world with our determination and guts … and when the cops come, we put our bodies on the line and resist them nonviolently with everything we’ve got.

STRATEGY #2: We declare “victory” and throw a party … a festival … a potlatch … a jubilee … a grand gesture to celebrate, commemorate, rejoice in how far we’ve come, the comrades we’ve made, the glorious days ahead. Imagine, on a Saturday yet to be announced, perhaps our movement’s three month anniversary on December 17, in every #OCCUPY in the world, we reclaim the streets for a weekend of triumphant hilarity and joyous revelry.

We dance like we’ve never danced before and invite the world to join us.

Then we clean up, scale back and most of us go indoors while the die-hards hold the camps. We use the winter to brainstorm, network, build momentum so that we may emerge rejuvenated with fresh tactics, philosophies, and a myriad projects ready to rumble next Spring.

Strategy #2 is the way to go. I don’t even think you need the “die-hards” to hold geography, because the movement is not about territory, but about ideas. What is needed over the winter months is a series of Teach-Ins like the epic events that made the Anti-Vietnam War Movement coalesce in the winter and spring of 1965. Now is the time on college and high school campuses to educate the wider public on the issues of economic inequality. The movement has a powerful meme–“We are the 99%”–which was in danger of being diffused by the inevitable crime and sanitation problems that come from putting a small cities in public parks all over the country. Out of these teach-ins should come some specific proposals that OWS would push during the 2012 election. Here are four suggested pillars:

  1. A surtax on incomes over $1 million
  2. A Tobin Tax on Stock Trading
  3. End the corrupting influence of money in politics
  4. Bring the troops home

One last thought. In the last few weeks I have often thought “What would Martin Luther King do in this moment?” Ultimately the great social justice movements in America like women’s suffrage, ending child labor or the civil rights movement have come about out of a strict adhesion to the loving principles of non-violence. Dr. King, who I marched with in Boston in April of 1965, consistently held up a vision of a better world that we would make through non-violence. His most famous speech was “I have a dream” not “I have a nightmare”. I know that there is a small group of angry young anarchists trying to influence the OWS movement. Those of us with grey in our beards have been here before, watching the Weathermen subvert a non-violent peace movement. What we ended up with was Richard Nixon (running on a law and order platform) as our President.

We should not make that mistake again.

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63 Responses to Next Steps for OWS

  1. Morgan Warstler says:

    1 and 2 are fine, but all new revenue needs to be funneled directly to serial entrepreneurs…. the SMB newco guys all through the 81-99% of America.

    Basically, it is time to cut the Tea Parties taxes.

    The government needs less spending, not more revenue.

  2. Alex Bowles says:

    The thing about lists of demands is that Congress has become exceptionally good at deflecting them outright, or watering them down to the point where their ‘responses’ are that in name only (exhibit A: Dodd-Frank). Folks supporting OWS, bless their hearts, seemed to understand this instinctively. That doesn’t change the need for specific demands, but it does highlight the extent to which people have become aware that the entire game is so profoundly rigged, that any demands made within the prevailing context are doomed to fail. Far better to maintain pressure, and drive more discussion of the fundamental corruption than risk yet another round of deflection.

    After all, three years can pass with no meaningful response to the nation’s largest crisis in living memory, it’s safe to conclude that the system we’ve got is irredeemably broken. Even if you conduct the biggest control fraud in history, crash the entire global economy, wreck the retirement plans of an entire generation, cripple the economic prospects of another generation, it does not matter. Congress. Will. Not. Respond.

    So that’s why it’s time to cut them out of the loop. Then we can get to specifics, of which there are many.

  3. Alex Bowles says:

    Whoops – bad html formatting. Didn’t mean to be shouty.

  4. len says:

    Overturn Citizens United.

    Audit the Fed.

    Investigate and swiftly prosecute the criminals.

    Fire Congress.

  5. JTMcPhee says:

    Alex, was that “cut them out of the loop” supposed to be a link? Is there something wonderful out there that might be on the point of supplanting the fraud of electoral politics and tattered legitimacy? Another front in the Revolution of Revulsion at what’s been happening? Enquiring minds would love to know…

    And even MLK was known to shout, and Gandhi for that matter, and I bet Jesus of Nazareth had a voice that carried pretty far.

    JT, I hope any education that goes on includes stuff on civics and history and maybe some reference to the events at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777. And all the little bits of reality that spring from and surround that little bit of the timestream.

    Too bad Worgon’s contributions are so like those of Ron Paul, who has the singular notion of merit that he says he would like to shrink the military and bring my distant brothers and sisters in arms home, or at least back to the US of A, which most of them, as was my experience after only a year in the Fog of War, would neither recognize as “home” nor be easily able to find a place in. The real “gulf war” is the gulf between what the sacred Troops are indoctrinated to believe they are doing, and what really is afoot. It’s a Smedley Butler kind of moment. Hey, Worgon, I know you mean that Grover Norquist kind of shrink-the-government-to-where-it-can-be dragged-into-the-bathroom-and-drowned (except for the parts you favor) way, but stopping the madness (that includes PTSD-and-despair-induced suicide and murder and abuse) is an uphill struggle now, isn’t it? Since so many of your beloved SBs are also feeding in various ways off the military-industrial dessert cart? Take the self-justifying military-linked wealth transfer mechanisms out of the mix, and there’s no argument any more that there’s enough to go around.

    On the other hand, of course, the Big Gaming News for the 2011 (or is it 2012 already?) xmas retail excrescence is the release of “Call of Duty 3,” which indoctrinates whole new cadres of vicarious troopers into the sexual gratification of blasting, “capping,” of “lighting up” those Enemies behind their faceless gear. And of course there’s this little reality, that also hides itself so neatly behind the idiocy of reification that is the oh-so-wise public discourse about ‘al Quaeda threats” and the rest of the bullshit that a functioning police force, not saddled by the whole DHS and interservice spasticity and catatonia, would best address. And the reason there are idiot generals and adventurous politicians and dictators and other assorted kleptocrats getting away with playing on our tribal organs is that we, the species, are a stupid lot en masse, and can’t use the frontal lobes to figure out what the limbic system is suckering us into. Got to be “intelligent,” like that horde of ever-smarter kids that’s supposed to be coming along (maybe they are, but a whole lot of them are still angling for careers as minions of the engineered apocalypse that is the end point of What We Are Really Doing Now.

    How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they get that first autoejaculatory taste of unfettered destructive hardware and the sucker-powered money stream that supports More and Bigger and Improved Lethality (sic)? http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2011/11/14/the-shadow-world-inside-the-global-arms-trade/ Not to mention the Opportunity to be a big player in the Great Game, complete with a little fleet of private jets and secret bank accounts and the kind of sneer that develops on the faces of the people who get paid to build and operate and maintain all the shit that hides behind the Potemkin faces of Disney World and even “Epcot”…

  6. Alex Bowles says:

    @JTMcPhee Yes, that link was supposed to take you to the Atlantic’s story about Larry Lessig’s amazingly well-timed book, Republic Lost.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/11/has-a-harvard-professor-mapped-out-the-next-step-for-occupy-wall-street/247561/

    He’s actually been honing his argument for years, so it’s really remarkable that it’s come together at the precise moment when it’s most relevant and most in-demand.

    For a really good introduction, see here: http://vimeo.com/31447296

    For the briefer version see this Op-ed by Lessig in today’s NYT. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/opinion/in-campaign-financing-more-money-can-beat-big-money.html

  7. John Papola says:

    A surtax on incomes over $1 million
    • go ahead. I’m curious to see what happens. It’s just jealous demagoguery, but whatever.

    A Tobin Tax on Stock Trading
    • what does the stock market have to do with anything going on now? Seriously. This is nonsequitor.

    End the corrupting influence of money in politics
    • good luck with that. This is childish fairytale stuff.

    Bring the troops home
    • Boom. Bravo.

    …and what about ending the bailouts? Reigning in the Fed? Ending the corporate welfare boondoggles coming from the department of energy and agriculture? I guess it’s okay to be given billions of our money if you’re a rich farmland owner or silicon valley wiz? End ALL corporate welfare. All of it.

  8. John Papola says:

    the fact remains that you can tax away every nickel, but it’s still being handed over to a collection of demonstrably corrupt, ignorant self-serving politicians that are more than happy to attempt to user in Chinese-style internet censorship on behalf of special interests (SOPA). Why should anyone expect all that tax revenue to do any good? I don’t see the justification for that.

  9. John Papola says:

    From that Lessig story:

    “By limiting the influence of big money in politics,” said one of the senators, Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, “elections can be more about the voters and their voices, not big money donors and their deep pockets. We need to have a campaign finance structure that limits the influence of the special interests and restores confidence in our democracy.”

    Says Tom Harkin, Democract from hyper-subsidized Iowa, champion of corn-ethanol and cash for clunkers. Quoting Harkin talking about special interests instantly disqualifies this whole thing. What a damn joke.

    http://advancedbiofuelsusa.info/harkin-backs-ethanol-expansion

    Believing in this vision of campaign finance reform and the words of people like Harkin is akin to a child believing in Santa Claus. Pathetic.

  10. John Papola says:

    @John Papola

    In fairness, Larry DOES criticize Harkin. But not for his support of limits on campaigns, but rather for his failure to push taxpayer subsidized elections. The voucher idea is novel, though. I will say that.

  11. JTMcPhee says:

    Seems to me that the idea, the apparent unstated assumption above, that money, from whatever purified source, creates and illuminates and facilitates the magical electoral process (on the way to what? a renewed general-assembly sense that the Elect are actually Legitimate?) has something seriously wrong with it.

    There’s a lot of Innovation going into figuring out how to give the rabble the sense that they have some kind of say in choosing their Kleptocrats, going way back, and running ever faster and more archly up to the Little Girl With The Countdown Daisy commercial and Reagan’s Bear in the Woods, and all the shit that flows from the fetid brains of people like “Of course I fuck other bitches while my wife is dying, no one on either side will focus on that” Gingrich (Language, A Key Mechanism of Control) and that jovial old Satan’s Helper, Karl Rove. Et al. Manufactured demand is anathema to species survival, but once again, who the important fuck cares, since “Successful People” will get off a whole lot bigger and more often and after all, dying with the most toys, after consuming the best booze and drugs and cigars and food and sex and stuff for decades, and way more than one’s, ah, “fair share,” is what being human is all about, right?

    More money, I might opine, just feeds the fuckers who diddle and fiddle with our brain chemistry, looking for that magic fairy dust that will stroke our limbic systems into punching, tapping, poking, X-ing, chadding away on Election Day (that now so wonderfully elastic period) or otherwise giving a clear indication of intent to Pick a Winner. Obama’s troops had a bunch of shameless, conscienceless behaviorists doing their damndest to turn the man into the “default” candidate, and are no doubt hard at it again. As are the People of the Wrong, nominally but not so much really on the other side.

    “Democracy” (whatever that is, as with its corollary myths Liberty and Freedom) may be the worst form of government, except for all the others, but the US practice is not so very much different from the systems used in the former Soviet Union and similar places, coming at their perceived badness from the supposed purer side of Western Enlightenment. (I recall that in Philly, the City of Brotherly Love, for many years elections were determined by which group of thugs controlled the stairs leading up to the second-story polling place. A sort of trial by combat.) And the electioneering is such a sucker’s game any more, no better than the claptrap voting for fave performers on Dancing with the Detestables. All that money, whatever the source, goes into making of tribal masks and pasteboard cutouts, obscuring, putting lipstick on pigs, planting or creating or uncovering little globs of shit about one persona or another, to be thrown faster than the other guy’s handlers can pick the sticky steamers off.

    There’s reasons it’s all about negative campaigning: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me…” And I love the talking heads nattering about which Candidate “went negative” first, thus justifying all the wrestling matches in the cesspits…

    There’s lots of research and philosophy on the mythical nature of choice, anyway. Too bad, in some ways, that G. Washington wouldn’t don the ermine and hold the orb and scepter. Nothing’s perfect, but there’s a lot to be said for a “constitutional monarchy.” At least that puts the imperial rulership up front and visible, and a parliamentary system can be such fun in a hypocritical population.

    On the other hand, in the modern monetized militarized securitized flattened consumption-and-growth-driven cancerous world, there ain’t no cure for what ails us. Case in point, the contributions of Messrs. Papola and Worgon. And, more modestly of course, my own.

    In my prayers every night I send out a SOS to the Deeper Universe that the Occupiers or some other inspired set of innovators will figure out a way for us to “all just get along,” and hold ourselves to “a modest competence” in our eating of the planet, so my grandkids, et seq., have a prayer of living in a world that is not just a giant toilet in the process of being filled, and flushed…

    By my lights, at least, Lessig is not More. In this context, at least.

  12. John Papola says:

    Question: what about expression.

    Wasn’t the citizens united case all about the FEC preventing a film from being released? Making a movie about how Hillary sucks isn’t given money to a political campaign. Making movies is an expensive, collective enterprise, hence people incorporate to do it. And so this notion of “corporate speech”, which as discussed by most people is reduced to a meaningless abstraction, kicks in.

    Lessig’s proposal is pretty interesting to me. I don’t dismiss it out of hand at all, even though I overreacted to seeing Tom starve-the-third-world-impoverish-the-poor Scumbag Harkin quoted.

    But direct campaign giving is FAR from the only issue at stake. Everyone gets a voucher to give to whoever they want. Great. What about me. What if I want to make a film about how Ron Paul is the only candidate that isn’t a corrupt scumbag and release it next October? Can I do that? It may cost a million bucks to do it right and millions more to get it distributed. I’ll need to use my company to manage that.

    I’ve very interested in the group’s response. Alex? Jon?

  13. JTMcPhee says:

    What’s to respond to, JP? CitUn says that you can spend millions to produce your “advocacy,” billions or trillions even, overwhelming with a flood of money-funded “information” the puny efforts of individuals who have some fuzzy notions of something being very wrong but not the wealth-given ability to concentrate and organize and refine and effectively publish those notions to reach, in any effective way, people whose heads are filled with sugarplum visions of the Promethean Capitalist, and too often a reluctance to do the lying and distortion and selectivity that go into so many of those corporate messages, and you and CitUn can’t be kept from putting it out there for all to salivate and fulminate over. I think your subtext is that the ones with the most money ought to win, in a terminal completion of the Spoils System.

    As to making a movie not being “money to a political campaign,” say what again? How very disingenuous of you. Kind of neat how you definitionally circumscribe what is a “political campaign,” presumably to only those activities that are all about the features and benefits of this or that candidate. Who’s going to spend the millions/billions to fill all the channels of communication with button-pushing messages about the fake personae (my candidate’s or yours)? And just saying that the notion of “corporate speech” is “a meaningless abstraction” sure does not make your assertion true, and I bet that is the case even in your own secret self-serving mind.

    So since you have a foot in the propaganda door now, fire away, use your company to broadcast your corporate speech, I’m sure that your Success will attract even more money, which after all is what the whole freakin’ culture is all about, right?… Gather in all the rosebuds while you yet live, and who cares about po’ folk and the future? Your posterity can’t vote, the votes of the po’ folk are pretermitted or discounted, and after you are dead and buried, there can be no negative consequences for you, or any of the parasites and predators leading the ol’ species into oblivion. Enjoy! Crow! Now’s your time!

  14. Jon Taplin says:

    @John Papola-The stock market is supposed to be for capital formation in the Austrian model. But because there is far more money to be made short term by high frequency trading in and out of stocks three times a day, the model of the long term investor is destroyed. Wall Street Brian power is used to invent new derivatives that aid this short term thinking. A tiny tax on these short term trades (not on long term capital gains) would reorient the market towards its proper purpose–aiding innovation.

    As to corporate welfare, I’m with you. Eliminate all subsidies to agribusiness, energy firms, etc.

  15. Jon Taplin says:

    @ JTM- As usual, amazing insights. I’m most fascinated by your notion that politics has become some sort of shadow play in which we try to convince Americans that they actually participate in a democracy. Of course Aldous Huxley in “Brave New World” foresaw all of this nonsense. We would be fed our daily dose of Soma and asked to do our part by shopping beyond our means.

    What is interesting is that both You and Papola feel that politics has no real meaning and that democracy is a sham. That is both scary and revelatory.

  16. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola

    Making movies is an expensive, collective enterprise, hence people incorporate to do it. And so this notion of “corporate speech”, which as discussed by most people is reduced to a meaningless abstraction, kicks in.

    That’s what I used to think. So while I recognized the inherent badness of Citizens United, I thought that the alternative – rejecting any first Amendment protections for electioneering by unregistered incorporated entities – could be worse, in that it could limit the expression of actual citizens and voters for the exact reason you described.

    But then I realized that, actually, there’s no need for the people with the money and the message to incorporate. Yes, the people renting the cameras and hiring talent and insuring the locations will want to be incorporated, but that’s the work of a shop for hire, and there’s no reason why they can’t go to work for an unincorporated human with cash and concept in hand. Alternately, an individual can create an incorporated production company just to make the media, doing so under work-for-hire rules, so that the individual retains ownership of the masters and the copyright. Scale aside, there’s no practical difference between that and getting posters printed for yourself at Kinko’s.

    The problem is when you get people who, as officers of a private organization, end up with significant amounts of other people’s money at their disposal, and limited accountability to the owners of that capital. Consider union leadership, which needn’t consider the full spectrum of its membership’s preferences when deciding what interests to back. Or senior managers in publicly traded companies, who can easily dismiss most, if not all, of their shareholder’s concerns when deciding what to do with often enormous advertising budgets.

    It’s one thing for people to pool resources to pursue a specific aim. It’s another for people who have already pooled resources for some other aim – and who, for separate reasons, have limited control over their agents – to find those agents doing whatever they want with money that isn’t actually theirs. Obviously, the agents can do whatever they like with their own money, but there aren’t too many executives who’d write their own checks for $1 million with the same casual ease that they’d use to authorize a $1 million ad spend from the Q3 marketing budget.

  17. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin

    How is the average investor who buys index funds destroyed? The track record of speculator gains is poor compared to indexes and many studies of long run gains have shown that. I am a believer in EMH in this respect. Its hard to beat the market at large, even with fast computers.

    I don’t what to make of high frequency trading yet. I’m ignorant of how it works and what it’s implications are. But surely the trading is based on rules programmed by people, no? Those are human speculations aren’t they?

    Of course, if we had productivity norm deflation, where increasing productivity leads to falling prices without increased supplies of money to compensate, people could see the value of their savings increase without the need to put them at so much risk. Oh well. The Fed sucks.

  18. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles

    Alex I’m pretty confused by the distinction you’re drawing.

    It’s one thing for people to pool resources to pursue a specific aim. It’s another for people who have already pooled resources for some other aim – and who, for separate reasons, have limited control over their agents – to find those agents doing whatever they want with money that isn’t actually theirs.

    So you’re saying that they face a principle-agent problem. So what? The WORST principle-agent problem is congress, who spends the rest of our money with a monopoly power to take it. A private organization in charge of employing lenders capital can be punished by having their creditors flee to other organizations. I don’t understand what any of this has to do with employing the FEC to sensor expressive works on the arbitrary grounds that they were produced collectively, by way of an incorporated group.

    Can you elaborate? Walk me through an example situation.

  19. len says:

    Thankfully we have Youtube, Facebook, etc. for a little longer. Otherwise we would drown in the insipid stillwater of comfortably numb leftists left overs and nouveau-riche bandit economic theorists. They are the dead weight of failed engines on a bomber coming home from a mission with half the crew dead and the wheels full up for a belly landing.

    They pepper-sprayed old people, people sitting, billy-clubbed others, the list goes on and so does injustice so easy to see. Meanwhile, y’all are still debating access to capital as if that mattered. This is the failure of our generation: we lauded ourselves, lionized our artists and forgot to keep the faith and then became slaves to the wealth created by a handful and invested by many, then used to purchase our government to ensure we would never again have to sit in a muddy field in the rain to hear the band of a man who couldn’t come because there wasn’t enough money in it. What a crock.

  20. Alex Bowles says:

    @len

    They are the dead weight of failed engines on a bomber coming home from a mission with half the crew dead and the wheels full up for a belly landing.

    That is – by far – the most succinctly vivid characterization of neoclassic economists I’ve seen. For a more extensive takedown, see here: http://bit.ly/up5Fj8

    The essence of those remarks is that we are well past the point of discussing things about which reasonable people disagree. Rather, it’s about contending with an increasingly vociferous sense of denial among people whose only proper place is on the far side of the exits.

    The reason they continue with this delusion is for the same reason that astronomers stuck with the Ptolemaic version of the solar system long after anomalies were discovered between the theory’s predictions and observation: it’s all they know, and their whole world view is organised around it…most will go to their graves still believing in the neoclassical paradigm and they’ll blame some exogenous factor – probably some unspecified government policy or even, laughably, unions –for causing the crisis. In this they’re just like any other set of committed believers in a falsified paradigm. Max Planck, the person who discovered quantum mechanics, gave up on convincing his contemporaries of the new approach, as most of them stuck to the Maxwellian model despite its empirical failures and the success of quantum mechanics, once quipped that “science advances one funeral at a time”, and the same will be even more true of this pseudo-science of economics.

  21. len says:

    Yes, Alex. That is the point I’ve been making to Papola: it is a sense of injustice and all the emotions that come with that which are the reality now. No one in these demonstrations is watching his video. They are watching cardboard, FB posts of hand camera and cell phone videos, listening to hastily made songs written to support them. The academics are simply not relevant at this time. Maybe later.

    Meanwhile, where there is a buck to be made, some are stepping up to make it. In this case, a lobbying firm knows the financial industry and a certain elephantine political party are worrying despite the nonsense spouted by their shill faux news organizations. So they are trying to get their business:

    http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/19/8884405-lobbying-firms-memo-spells-out-plan-to-undermine-occupy-wall-street

    As predicted.

  22. Morgan Warstler says:

    More and more it comes to me that the real problem facing liberal sis that they do not think they actually CAN DELIVER good frugal government.

    An entrepreneur has to worry about delivering what people want to buy.

    And unlike Papola, who’s more of a true believer, I’m fine with the “idea” of government provided services, its just that I want to see then whole organization run like Wal-Mart, so that I KNOW FOR CERTAIN, it is being delivered at the lowest possible cost.

    Basically, I want a great deal on the stuff in life I REALLY REALLY WANT – cars, computers, clothes, food, I want all of it to just keep getting better for the money I spend.

    So IF liberals want to convince me we need more roads, better sidewalks, etc. etc. I want to get the same sense the whole time that they are being ruthlessly competitive to keep bring me more for less.

    The ISSUE is that I think the moment government ceases to deliver overpaid jobs for a whole host of C-class workers, most liberals will stop caring about the good cause of government.

    Without a bunch of anthropology professors sucking on the teat of subsidized education, churning out in debt idiots who are DOOMED to never get real jobs – ends! we’re not going to hear any more from the progressive class.

  23. len says:

    A group of black civil rights leaders of the 1960s have formed a Council of the Elders to throw support to OWS. There is a video interviewing each of them on the OWS FB page.

  24. John Papola says:

    You know, you guys really seem to believe that we’re living in the outcomes of laissez faire, don’t you? All this talk of failed “neoclassical” ideas suggests that. If you believe this, your beliefs are at odds with readily available facts all around us.

    What a load of baloney.

    Alex brings in some interesting ideas from Larry Lessig about campaign finance, but then things go off the rails into ideological broad strokes nonsense. Sigh.

    Meanwhile, even the most radical libertarians like Lew Rockwell support OWS in general.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/lewrockwell-show/2011/11/19/235-occupy-the-government/

    Morgan,

    You and I both know that the state will NEVER be as brutally efficient at delivering services as a competitive private firm.

    1. They’re keynesians by nature and see increased government payrolls as good instead of as a cost.

    2. Bureaucracy without end. No restructuring or house cleaning in sight. How many of the millions of people employed in the executive branch did Obama replace? I bet it’s very VERY low. Same with Bush. Dead. Weight. Loss.

    3. Incentives and knowledge.

    In the end, we can all just do the best we can for ourselves, our families and our communities, put forward what we believe and hope for the best. Some of us want to be left alone. Some of us want to be told what to do. Some of us want to tell others what to do. It’s always going to be this way.

  25. JTMcPhee says:

    The cool thing about you, Worgon, and a lot of other folks on whatever “side” you think you attach to, is that what you think and what you want and what you profess to believe do not matter a tiny whit, and any thought spent on engaging with you and trying to persuade you of anything is wasted effort. You take advantage of the presumption of decency that people usually accord to others until experience proves it’s inapplicable. You and Breitbart and the rest. Any more, and I at least hope this is true, what the greedheads and crapheads of the world do, think, want and believe, just don’t matter no more.

    Seems to me the fundamental truths that I often harp on are getting into people’s conscious view: We really are all in this together, and there’s actually enough to go all the way around the table, if only we can keep the piggy few from stuffing all but one of the cookies in their capacious maws and then turning to the rest of us and trying to trick us into thinking we need to fight each other over that last cookie. There’s a number of takes on what the simple formulation of the Golden Rule means — one of them is what to me is the truest form of enlightened self-interest, the form that includes recognition that we are all better for doing better by each other. If you are a spiritual cripple, led around by your limbic system’s self-pleasure strings and personal arrogance and aggression juices, you can still adhere to Goodness out of recognition that over the long haul it returns the most on your investments.

    It’s always seemed to me that a change in the spiritual character of the human critters and our institutions is the only way the species has a prayer of surviving. We are eating ourselves out of house and home, crapping in our own nest, shitting in our own (and of course our neighbors’) wells, stealing from our children, acting as if “growth” is suddenly not just a malignant cancer, believing that “innovation” will somehow create the physical Eden or at least nirvana hopefully before all the extractable wealth and energy are “consumed” to make that last roll of quilted, scented, “clean,” “luxurious” toilet paper. Derivatives are “innovation” writ ugly and large. There are no filters to remove from the newshitstream “innovations” like nanowarbots and cyberbombs and all the wonderful thingies like recombinant and manufactured genetic and organic material and a whole shitload of other stuff that’s pending in the wings, stuff like the Pentagram’s Lethality Program and that whole Networked Battlespace Thingamabob, waiting for its turn in the danse macabre. Not only no filters, but positive-feedback loopings all based on some concatenation of Whatsinitforme and BlowingshitupandkillingpeopleisFUN!

    But don’t feel bad. You think still your kids are smarter than you are? And kids are getting smarter every week or so? Maybe you are right, about that at least. I hope so — smarter, in the Hopi sense of intelligence, and not just shrewder and more acquisitive.

  26. len says:

    If you’re watching the YouTube and FB feeds, you know mainstream media isn’t showing a tenth of what is going on. CNN and Fox are trying to humiliate the OWSers.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a very large drum circle is forming outside Mikey Bloomberg’s mansion townhouse to serenade him for 24 hours. Who says the drum circles don’t have a purpose in protest these days?

    Then there are the tightly packed lines of stormtrooper garbed special forces police fresh from their urbanshield homeland security training outside Chase showing us exactly who they serve and protect.

    A former NY Supreme Judge (a female) roughed up for interceding in the beating of a protester’s mother…

    Another war vet hospitalized…

    A police man casually pepper spraying a line of protesters sitting on the ground… bad news for this guy: they got his name, home phone number and private email and are sending him their thoughts on his brave first response.

    Yeah, they do have some smarts. :) Irritating buggers too.

    @jtmc: I left a new meditation piece up at my youtube site. You may enjoy it. Can’t post the URL here but same as ever and I think if you click on my name, it takes you there. Called “al Bari (the evolver)”. One of the 99 names of God in Islam. The concept of the names fascinates me as each one reveals an aspect to meditate on.

  27. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola I’m assuming you didn’t actually read that link, or at least not particularly carefully. Even if you consider it ‘ideological’, it’s far from a broad-stroke. In fact, it’s centered on a very precise criticism made even more sharply here, in James Galbraith’s statement to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (05/04/2010).

    http://utip.gov.utexas.edu/Flyers/GalbraithMay4SubCommCrimeRV.pdf

    I write to you from a disgraced profession. Economic theory, as widely taught since the 1980s, failed miserably to understand the forces behind the financial crisis. Concepts including
    “rational expectations,” “market discipline,” and the “efficient markets hypothesis” led
    economists to argue that speculation would stabilize prices, that sellers would act to protect
    their reputations, that caveat emptor could be relied on, and that widespread fraud therefore
    could not occur
    . Not all economists believed this – but most did.

    It’s a ridiculously important point. People whose thought is dominated by the absurd belief that massive fraud is simply not possible in a free market maintain these beliefs by insisting on the existence of an equally absurd set of fictions about how markets actually operate. These delusions – which border on outright lunacy – render those who hold them utterly incapable of governance, which is exactly the point that Galbraith goes on to make about the failures of governance we’ve seen from these people.

    And before you go off on one of your “omg see! Government fails! This is what the libertarians have been saying all along!” jags, recognize that it’s not what you’ve been saying. In fact, it’s the opposite. This failure – which is very real – is for reasons you do you utmost to avoid discussing at all. It pertains to a side of governance that has nothing to do with “overbearing regulation” or “undue oversight” or “unintended consequences” or “perverse incentives” or “endless red tape” or any of the other invectives libertarians love to hurl at “hopelessly incompetent government”.

    This failure is about the more basic task of dealing with crime and punishment. That is to say, with ensuring that serious crime doing irreversible harm receives severe punishment – openly and unequivocally. And it’s about the realization that without this performance, there’s no hope for any advanced economy whatsoever. Indeed, fear of just and severe law – not fear of lost status in the marketplace – is the bedrock of the trust that functioning markets demand. That’s what so many libertarians are so reluctant to admit. They really think that going out of business is the worst thing that should happen to anyone, and that it’s bad enough to obviate the need for any more forceful form of correction (read “jail”). To folks demanding actual justice, that’s just not good enough, for the simple reason that it’s a demonstrably bad deterrent. Which is the point Galbraith is making when he concludes

    Some appear to believe that “confidence in the banks” can be rebuilt by a new round of good economic news, by rising stock prices, by the reassurances of high officials – and by not
    looking too closely at the underlying evidence of fraud, abuse, deception and deceit. As you
    pursue your investigations, you will undermine, and I believe you may destroy, that illusion.

    In this situation, let me suggest, the country faces an existential threat. Either the legal system
    must do its work. Or the market system cannot be restored. There must be a thorough,
    transparent, effective, radical cleaning of the financial sector and also of those public officials
    who failed the public trust. The financiers must be made to feel, in their bones, the power of
    the law. And the public, which lives by the law, must see very clearly and unambiguously that
    this is the case.

    Needless to say, this advice fell of deaf ears (this is the Senate we’re talking about), and that’s why #OWS is happening today.

  28. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles

    I missed the link, so I’ll read that and see what it has to offer. I’ll hold my nose and read Jamie G too, even though I think he traffics in pure nonsense on a scale beyond even DeKrugman. But hey, even the man who called for “more planning” in Harpers in 2008 or asserts that we have “no debt problem at all” may have some useful insights regardless of the other crack-pottery.

    As for your board attack on libertarians and their alleged failure to call for criminal prosecution… I really don’t have a clue what you’re basing that on. Again, the very approach of coming at me with what you say “so many libertarians” allegedly fail to say is mostly free of content. Are you including ME is this group? Care to point to some examples? Better yet, lay out some of criminal offenses against current law. Give me a chance to actually know what you’re talking about beyond a vague attack line.

    I don’t know who Galbraith is referring to when he talks about the “some” in the first line of that quote. Surely he’s not talking about the Austrian/Libertarians who’ve been wanting the insolvent banks to fail from day one. Perhaps he’s talking about the entire GOP/Dem/Wall St financial industrial complex?

    Anyway… I’ll read the articles. I’ve spent hours and hours with Galthbraith’s speeches and writings.

  29. John Papola says:

    Yikes. Finished Jamie’s article. Kernels of truth wrapped in vast lies of omission. He gets so much wrong and leaves out so much of the underlying causes and misrepresents so many aspects of the financial world as market phenomina when they are anything but that it’s truly glorious in a way.

    I’ll rebut this thing in time, probably after my son has gone to bed so I don’t waste valuable family time pulling together all of the readily available and crucially important aspects of both the S&N crisis and our current mess which James just leaves out, gets wrongs or presents in half-truth.

    What I will say is this. For all of the epic list of reasons why both crisis occured, most originating in our political and monetary institutions, there is never an reason to excuse fraud. It’s never legitimate to sell some a bill of goods that you know sucks. We should hold the people who engaged in such activities to account. The challenge, of course, is that what seems obvious ex post can be anything but ex ante. And worse, much of this activity was being statutorily demanded. It’s a little weird to prosecute activities when your legal system is pushing you to engage in them, is it not?

    In the meantime, we can surely all agree that Geithner, Bernanke, Paulson, Frank and Dodd belong in criminal proceedings. That they were given even more power to re-write the rules instead speaks volumes about where the real systemic risks and institutional failures are centered.

    Now onto that other, longer piece. I hope it’s more honest than Galbraith’s.

  30. John Papola says:

    I will say this. I agree with you, Alex, that there are many self-proclaimed free marketeers who spend all their time (rightly) attacking the legal and monetary and collusive causes of our mess, but who fail to focus on holding individuals accountable for bad behavior. They see it (again, rightly) as a predictable result of the systemic causes. But that doesn’t make the actions right. Incentivizing nonsense at every turn, as our government has done, still doesn’t provide moral cover for engaging in nonsense. Government, after all, is an immoral institution, so why should any freedom lover treat its edicts as ethical cover?

    They shouldn’t.

    I have a skewed view in that my closest libertarian friends and authors ARE critical in this way. Steve Horwitz is a good example:

    http://www.thefreemanonline.org/headline/bankers-blame/

    There is a cultural distinction between Austrian school thinkers, anarcho-capitalists/voluntarists and other self-proclaimed free marketeers. We the former see the big corporations engaged in collusion with big government as equally vile. Again, Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute is a perfect example of that outsider critical tone. You can take issue with them for this or that, but they don’t treat the banisters or corporate parasites with kid gloves.

  31. len says:

    To quote W.C. Fields, “Anything worth having is worth cheating for. Business is an establishment that gives you the legal, even though unethical, right to screw the naive–right, left, and in the middle. ”

    Economics are fine for polemics but the reality is that while the folks with the most guns usually win the battle, gun salesmen make the most money. OWS has changed the international discourse by according to one estimate, quintuplng the use of the term “economic inequality” so among the chattering classes, this conversation has amplitude and frequency. The subtext that may be worrying some is that the police who have evolved in public consciousness from “pigs” to “first responders” are quite quickly devolving back to their former infamy.

    One might debate in terms of affective change which of the texts has meaning.

  32. John Papola says:

    @len

    Attacking “business” is really infantile and dishonest. “Business” is just a word for people creating and exchanging. And it’s sad and ironic that many in OWS are clamoring for the government to redistribute by force in the name of reducing inequality, without any irony about the fact that the police who are brutalizing them are the very people and institution they expect to help them. Cognitive dissonance.

    It does get pretty hard to not boil this down to a fight over individual rights versus collectivism/socialism when business-in-general as a concept is in the crosshairs. We’ve tried subsistence farming for thousands of years. It’s not a very good life. Your kids die a lot. The elements are cause for more instability than market panics. But this is the implicit goal when “business” is attacked.

    None of this is new of course. There have always been enemies of civilization itself as well as confused enemies of civilization who seem to enjoy the fruits of it yet revile the forces which give rise to it. I believe these people tend to be “intellectuals” and often the spoiled children living off the fruits of a former generations toil (like Marx). This is why Schumpeter thought capitalism was doomed. Putting uncharitably, the ignorant brats of the productive generation would destroy it.

    I don’t think everyone in OWS holds to this view nor do I think they lack reason for grievance. But when I see “business” as a concept attacked, I see Schumpeters fears being brought to life.

  33. len says:

    http://globalrevolution.tv/

    As long as the system is rigged, you can expect this sort of thing to go on, John. If they can’t be shamed, they will be inconvenienced often and well. The same innovation and creativity that brought you your opportunities to create and profit are turning to this protest and as they get more practice, they will get better at it. What has Bloomberg to counter with except his stormtroopers? That will get old after awhile and the cops will stop obeying him. That is what happened to Bull Connor. Then what? All the rich fire all of their workers? Not likely. So they will try to fire only the thought leaders except those are the same people who brought them their profits, the creative and the innovators.

    “When the rules for some are different, the rules for all are few.”

    This is my point to you: you talk as if this were a rational series of events. This isn’t a rational game. It is a game 99% are deternined to win. They are taking the world back. What will they do with it? That’s up to them. Tahir isn’t a pleasant place today but the sidewalk outside Bloomberg’s mansion is empty and illegally at that. On the other side of the street, they’re partying to the beat. And the beat goes on. :)

  34. len says:

    And yes, it will come down to individuals just as it did for Mubarak, Gadafhi and eventually Asad. Then the Bloombergs, the Kochs and so on. The plutocrats who do not deal will lose their fortunes perhaps slowly at first, but a bit faster every day. No violence; just rational choices at work, choices of real tangible values.

  35. John Papola says:

    “When the rules for some are different, the rules for all are few.”

    Yes. Agreed. And this is PRECISELY why we should all reject administrative/regulatory government. Our current system of executive-branch discretionary bureaucracy is the CAUSE of unequal application of the law. We have a rigged system indeed, where our elected representatives hand off selective power to the unelected who then write the ACTUAL LAWS in the shadowed process of regulatory administration. Guess who’s AWESOME at capturing this process? Big corporate powers with the funds to employ an army of lawyers and lobbysts.

    If a law can’t be understood by and applied to all of the citizenry, it shouldn’t be a law. Any law where requires exceptions and waivers and discretionary application by the secretary of this or the comptroller of that shouldn’t be a law.

    This is the root of our disagreements because people who share my desire for a just society by believe bigger more powerful more “regulatory” government will get us there simply don’t understand what that means or how it works.

    You can disagree. Sure. One can believe, hope above observable fact, that democratic vote and action can keep the administrative state in check. This is a silly hope. A false, fraudulent hope.

    Bureaucracy can’t save us, protect us or deliver us justice. It exists to survive and grow and serve it’s elite masters. Always has. Always will. Period. Private bureaucracy works the same way, only it lacks the power to tax itself the resources to survive forever. That is THE crucial distinction. I’ve worked in corporate bureaucracies. I’ve seen them die. I’ve seen them re-structured. This is what keeps them in check. And then there’s Fannie Mae or the Post Office. They don’t. They live on like brain-eating zombies.

    Those who conflate the nation with the state or invoke “we” and “the people” and “the public” with the state are treading in the frightening territory of nationalism and, in the extreme, national socialism. Lest you take exception at this term, I direct your attention right back to the head-cracking thuggery of our police force working at the direction of the groteque “department of homeland security”. This is the point. This is a battle of us vs. them, only the “us” is everyone with political pull and the “them” is everyone that does. Though this overlaps with income and wealth, it’s not the same.

    To draw on one of my favorite thinkers, Sheldon Richman:

    “Bureaucratic dominance does not merely lower material living standards or reduce profit opportunities. It crushes lives and dreams. Government’s grand projects – the interstate highway system and urban renewal, for instance – steal homes, shops, and communities through eminent domain and other interventions, while well-connected corporate interests reap benefits. They also harm people by damaging the environment and fostering big “private” firms over those of human-scale.

    [interventionists] might say that in [their] vision, bureaucracy would be different. It would not. Exploitation by a ruling elite is inherent in its nature.”

    http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/tgif/bureaucracy-first/

  36. len says:

    Political correctness concatenated to zero-tolerance is always bad law.

    In the main, I agree. If the forces we pay to protect us instead only protect those whom we pay to administrate the wealth they accumulate by our purchasing power and our services, then yes, the great harm is inevitable. The trick here is some believe this is a natural state of affairs. In one sense this is so. An elite will always emerge wherever shared resources have to be administered and this will always occur where people live in proximate density. Thus cities spawn mayors and so forth. As long as there is access to education and opportunity, this is not bad because a better, more current administrator will always emerge. No, what has happened in this case is an elite has emerged that then uses the rules to get the cash to rewrite the rules to guarantee their franchise. And just as the major labels used their money to ensure no other music than their own was gaining access to distribution, they corrupted the system and the customers/listeners.

    Again, access, elites and lock-in. Here the Austrian school has a better model.

    Those who are unhappy about that begin to piss in the soup of the enfranchised. I hear the sound at Mikey’s windows tonight have that pit pit pat pit resonance of soup boiling in the piss. What will he do? If he keeps sending the troops, he will lose all the power and wealth he has accumulated. Bloomberg’s failure of imagination is in not realizing this will ger personal fast and he should take it personally and move away from NYC or decide to become a real citizen, a member of the community, and do something smart like joining the protesters to signify that the city of NY and its administrators no longer defend the corruptio spewing like piss from the windows of the canyon walls.

    He might decide the rule of law has a spirit AND a meaning and that he has forgotten the former to take advantage of the latter. Again, he may want to look to the fate of Mubarak et al and grasp a truth so far beyond his ken: he is next.

  37. Morgan Warstler says:

    JTM,

    “stealing from our children”

    Look, you get freaked out when I suggest that an honest appraisal of what you personally have paid in vs. what you have been and expect / hope to be paid out MEANS:

    1. ice floe.

    2. higher retirement age.

    But if you are guilty of it, you don’t get to lament it. That’s REALLY all we can ask of your old dirty hippies, that there be an exact day where it is TOLD TO YOU – from here on, you have used up your stored acorns, you are officially an overall drag on the system.

    It isn’t much to ask.

  38. Morgan Warstler says:

    Pappy, I am 99% sure they get force themselves to organize a govt. like Wal-Mart, but I like to give them the olive branch… I think it better exposes their real thinking.

    The ship is sinking, the entire premise and promise of free lunch will dwindle with each passing year.

    I want them to know what they chose not to do… that they chose to over-pay, that they chose to stop seeing themselves as servants in the marketplace.

    Look, as you well know, it is possible to sell high end products, but the value of those has to be exceptional. That last 20% that improves on the common 80% functionality has to be worth paying as much as 5x more.

    So, they first see their failings at not delivering APPLE style gvt. when they are making APPLE style salaries – we can bash them for every single mistake they make.

    But they could figure out, that they can have 60M govt employees (voters) if they just pay themselves all 1/3 as much…it is a real play, a real strategy.

  39. JTMcPhee says:

    Out of the mouths and minds of babes… At least Worgon has learned how to spell “floe.” Progress.

    There’s so much wrong with what you and Papola emit that it’s too much bother to respond.

    Hey, Butthead, (hngh-hngh-hnghh-hngh,) I was no Hippie, but I knew a lot of folks that claimed that moniker. Some were Buttheads too, looking to get laid and stoned, some were looking for a better, more honest way to live. Almost all got Jerry Rubined. I went to war for your putative class, semi-believing the shit about America the Beautiful and Freedom and Opportunity and all that, which makes me your kind of all-day sucker. I paid for almost all my education by working. I did some years of government work, trying to rein in the worst excesses of your brand of cutthroat capitalism, and too many years working for the Dark Side, making the kind of people you laud even richer. I don’t get to retire, for personal reasons that have something to do with the econoculture you root for. Along with a lot of other people. So you can get a paycheck from Breitbart and peddle crap through the postal service you “deplore” and the internet. Sneer all you want, both of you, tell others how they are “infantile and dishonest.” You are your own worst advertisements.

  40. len says:

    In NYC, they are about to evict the drum circle from Bloomberg’s front porch. OWS is setting up in another camp. Mike McGinn puts a photo of the cop pepper spraying the sitting protestors into the Seraut impressionist painting of a park.

    This is a moment when we know we are in history and we are history and even as it passes we know this is unlike anything else and still, the high side of a cycle. We won’t know the peak until it is past, but this is the change you’ve been waiting for, Jon. something being born… inhale.

  41. Alex Bowles says:

    Not incidentally, Kalle Lasn and Micah White (the Adbusters folks who started the ruckus) just had an op-ed published in the WaPo, in which they make some forecasts about what people can expect to see from #OWS post-Zucotti.

    Bloomberg’s shock-troop assault has stiffened our resolve and ushered in a new phase of our movement. The people’s assemblies will continue with or without winter encampments. What will be new is the marked escalation of surprise, playful, precision disruptions — rush-hour flash mobs, bank occupations, “occupy squads” and edgy theatrics.

    And we will see clearly articulated demands emerging, among them a “Robin Hood tax” on all financial transactions and currency trades; a ban on high-frequency “flash” trading; the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act to again separate investment banking from commercial banking; a constitutional amendment to revoke corporate personhood and overrule Citizens United ; a move toward a “true cost” market regime in which the price of every product reflects the ecological cost of its production, distribution and use; and with a bit of luck, perhaps even the birth of a new, left-right hybrid political party that moves America beyond the Coke vs. Pepsi choices of the past.

    Nice mix of wild idealism and deadly-specific reforms if you ask me.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-occupy-wall-street-will-keep-up-the-fight/2011/11/17/gIQAn5RJZN_print.html?socialreader_check=0&denied=1

  42. Alex Bowles says:

    Oh, and if you need a primer on the Robin Hood Tax, here’s a (exceptionally good) promo from the UK, where the idea got started.

  43. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles

    Funny. The stammered acting got a little overwrought by the end.

    Here’s a great idea as an alternative: don’t bail out the g-ddamned banks in the first place. If we are going to retain a government which can’t help but bailout banks at every turn, how are we to believe that the revenue from this tax won’t be funneled into ever more fraud, scams and boondoggles.

    This wouldn’t be the worst tax though. I’d take this over taxing income.

    But again… lets end the @#$# bailouts.

  44. John Papola says:

    Here’s an important story about the roots of the crisis:
    http://cafehayek.com/2011/11/the-cause-of-the-crisis.html

    We have to get our government to end bank and creditor bailouts. That’s job one.

  45. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola No. The agency problem is job one, for reasons that should be self-explanatory.

  46. JTMcPhee says:

    @Alex Bowles
    One little tiny personal point, in all of this: It’s too bad that certain phrases get so deeply embedded in the Narrative that they steal honest meaning from words and inject a prionic toxin in that place. One fave is the phrase “bail-out.” If anything, the transfer of full-faith-and-credit Real Wealth to the fuckers in the “investment banquerie” was and continues to be a “bail-In” of monstrous dimensions. And nested right there is another pet peeve: Why do the casino operators placing and holding and ducking and welshing on all those bets, that by usage on CNBC and in the WSJ and FT and Economist are all just A-OK “transactions,” get to call themselves and be dignified by others as “investment bankers?” That’s the biggest load of sneer-snot I can imagine, given the way that game is being played. It’s not supposed to be just about Glass-Steagall being half-empty — the whole fucking casino is rotten, and all the flighty adjectives in the world will not justify the game.

    It’s all just words, of course — and securitized, derivatized, monetized, counterfeit, notional dollars, about $1.4 quadrillion of them, growing and sporulating almost geometrically, out of a slime mold that’s eating the roots out of all the trees in the forest that we are already too blind to see.

  47. len says:

    But again… lets end the @#$# bailouts.

    It depends and here I have to step off the one rule high horse. Obama bailed out the car companies and they returned the favor with better cars and jobs and I believe, paid back the loans. Obama bailed out the banks and they gave themselves huge bonuses, hoarded the cash, and laid people off after destroying the world economy.

    I am for most of what Alex suggests and have said so here and elsewhere, but what Obama did not and should have delivered was justice: heads on pikes. There is a reason for such and it is a good reason. This is why his reelection is in any doubt whatsoever. He forgot to do the number one job we all count on a President to do: look after our interests by enforcing our laws. It’s the little things that destroy faith in leaders.

    If OWS turns into the Merry Pranksters we will all be amused but not terribly impressed.

  48. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    I (and Thorstein) have said it before, but (JTMc) it bears repeating: “Exceot where it is adopted as a necessary means of secret communication, the use of special slang in any employment is probably to be accepted as evidence that the occupation in question is substantially make-believe.”

  49. JTMcPhee says:

    The horror, I say the horror, is that people who actually work for a living and go about creating the real wealth of nations and are busily trying to resurrect their corners of The Economy (The Hedonomy?) by working their butts off, were taught that “banks” were safe, generally honorable institutions, secured since the Depression by The Government (meaning all of us, in one of those “caring for each other is wise policy for all” exercises like Social Security — none for you, Worgon, you cad), and that “investment” was all about putting some of your disposable, actually earned (as opposed to “made”) money into the hands of “capitalists” to build cars and refrigerators and Cabbage Patch Kids. All based on a fundamentally false econofraud, that Growth Will Persist Infinitely and Float All Boats Forever, and that Consumption was no longer the sin of Gluttony, but a Positive Good, especially in the December Retail Season. So “Investment Banks” are Goodness Squared, right? Many people STILL resonate to that discordant minor… Screw it.

    Seems to me that while there may be a lot of “jargon” out there, CDOs and CDSs and those “ize” words, the whole casino has been allowed to hide behind the curtain of credulity that Traditional Value Teaching has rung down. Because 300 million or 7 billion humans are the quintessential definition of Stupid In A Box.

    And yes, there’s been people who “earn” their money the old-fashioned way, they COUNTERFEIT it, which at bottom is all that derivatives are, and which bond bubbles and railroad stock bubbles and all the rest are puny exemplars of from our Sainted Past, “earning” that way for years, centuries. Remember Popala’s Paragon Of Free Market Reputation Virtue, the “Scottish Banks” of the early Industrialization thing? Not what he imaged it to be, on shallow acquaintance. A Bespoke Suit and Calvinist Collar and Membership in the Proper Club do not an honorable man make.

    And yes, I hope the Occupiers can actually do something other than Puck the ‘Astards, out of the momentum and angst and whatever else is powering what I will always (until persuaded otherwise) think of as a Revulsion Reaction. As with those emetic mixtures that delicate souls used to consume, to get rid of nasty shit they had been unwise enough to swallow.

  50. JTMcPhee says:

    And of course, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrwsUur6SfE&feature=related

    Please forgive if I tromple any Intellectual Propertyisms by dropping these links, delete if appropriate — new learning for the day is that you don’t apparently need even the little smattering of html skill that I lack, to do this stuff anymore… Progress? Or just an addition to the noise?

  51. Amber in Albuquerque says:

    Amplification, baybee. Make it work FOR you. ;)

  52. Martin Pitts says:

    Sent to Mayor Bloomberg and to NY Times OpEd:

    Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

    I am a former resident of New York City and a frequent visitor. I am gravely disturbed about the recent violence against students and protestors at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. Growing up in the Civil Rights Era South, I witnessed many similar examples of terrible violence against regular people marching or sitting in for their rights. New Yorkers traditionally embrace and greatly value human rights and the dignity of every human being.

    Those Protestors were doing nothing dangerous, threatening or terribly disruptive. Why are the police allowed to get so violent? What do you and the police fear from unarmed citizens standing and sitting in protest against economic and social problems in our nation? Your police force brutalized those kids. No matter what distorted justification your advisors come up with, you are simply wrong in allowing this to happen. This kind of behavior is psychopathic. Certainly you know the meaning of our Constitution’s First Amendment: “… the right of the people peaceably to assemble. …”

    As Mayor of New York you clearly hold some of the blame for fomenting violence against peaceful protests all over our nation. You allowed the violence against the people in Zuccotti Park. The Mayor of Oakland and the Berkeley Police and the UC Davis Police took your cue for violence against protestors. Because of your part in the violence and for the good of the nation and the City of New York you should resign immediately as Mayor. The voices for social justice need to be heard.

    We are America. We must hold the highest standard for Democracy.

    Martin Pitts
    Los Angeles, California

  53. JTMcPhee says:

    len, ‘al Bari is a wonderful exercise, a nice anodyne to stuff like Popola’s reductio, ‘al Absurdam, of the faux “science” of fricanomics. But you gotta love people who have a simple answer for everything, and a power of disdain for anyone else who does not toe their definitionally prescribed line.

    Maybe you remember Arthur C. Clark’s little gem, “The Nine Billion Names of God”? Let’s see, IBM helped the Nazis become more efficient at their formalism, any number of busly little coders and technocompanies are helping Homeland Security get a handle on OWS et al (and on the other side, doing the equivalent of “duck and cover”), and in Clarke’s picoworld, a couple of geeks from what, Silicon Valley, helped a bunch of Tibetan lamas finish their homework quicker, extinguishing the universe by satisfying the infinitely proud Satya of the Creator by recording all His/Her/Its names. So it is written, so it shall be… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrwsUur6SfE&feature=related Maybe 99 names, like 72 virgins, is kind of a metaphor?

    BOOM!

    Or whatever noise a star makes, when it just “goes out…”

    Mr. Pitts, like Amber says, “amplify.”

  54. len says:

    any number of busly little coders and technocompanies are helping Homeland Security get a handle on OWS

    a) Thanks. al Bari is an exercise in the composition of the dumb hum plus a walking masmoudi (sp). A little messy but I like that sort of thing.

    b) I know. I was one of them when I worked for Intergraph Public Safety. We began to think about the issue 30 minutes after the first plane hit the WTC. The problem was lumpen terrorists (homegrowners). Once it was shown just how well ultra-large data collection systems helped isolate disturbance sources and that communications among entities that can coordinate and share resources work, competitors got very busy hooking the responder’s resource allocators (say dispatch and records manage) together. I worked the standard for that. Lo siento.

    Right now you want them to do exactly what they are doing so people will understand what they are doing. As we’ve discussed, we need a change of values and that is not going to happen as a result of cost-benefit analysis. That is what I’m trying to get Papola to understand: values change is almost always an emotional reaction to emotional events. The politics of the heart.

  55. JTMcPhee says:

    Maybe our problem is that we have too many neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, and not enough of the other mythical Neos trotted out serially to cathartize and bemuse us and leave us feeling that the Hero will find his Truth, and save us from our nightmare.

    Plaudits for your persistence in trying to persuade Papola of anything. He’s a PersuadER, not a PersuadEE, and has seemingly got a personally gratifying and satisfying worldview and explanation for Everything Important, which has to do, as far as I can tell, with the goodies one can amass via “voluntary association” and the kind of sucking up of the nutrients that working people have to struggle to actually hunt, gather and earn before they can eat them, via the wondrous absorptive and generative capacity of tapeworms and such-like, who get to lie up in comfortable warmth and ideal physical conditions.

    Maybe Occupy might act like a dose of antihelmintic?

    The most common treatment for tapeworm infection involves oral medications that are toxic to the tapeworm. The drug most frequently used is praziquantel (Biltricide), which attacks the adult tapeworm. Albendazole (Albenza) is sometimes used, as well as the antimicrobial drug nitazoxanide (Alinia). The medication prescribed depends on the species of tapeworm involved and the site of infection.

    Be aware that these drugs target the adult tapeworm, not the eggs, so take care to avoid reinfecting yourself. Always wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating.

    Stool samples are generally checked at one month or three months after you’ve finished taking your medication, depending on what species of tapeworm you have. Successful treatment should render your stool free of tapeworm eggs, larvae or proglottids. The success rate is high in people who receive appropriate treatment.

    Treatments for invasive tapeworm infection

    Treating an invasive infection depends on the location and effects of the infection.

    Anthelmintic drugs. Albendazole (Albenza) can shrink some tapeworm cysts. Your doctor may monitor the cysts periodically using imaging studies such as ultrasound or X-ray to be sure the drug is effective.
    Anti-inflammatories. If tapeworm cysts are causing swelling or inflammation in your tissues or organs, an anti-inflammatory medication can help.
    Anti-epileptic therapy. If the disease is causing seizures, anti-epileptic medications can stop them.
    Shunt placement. One type of invasive infection can cause too much fluid on the brain, called hydrocephalus. Your doctor may recommend placing a permanent shunt, or tube, in your head to drain the fluid.
    Surgery. Whether cysts can be removed surgically depends on their location and symptoms. Those that develop in the liver, lungs and eyes are typically removed, since they can eventually threaten organ function.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tapeworm/DS00659/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

    I’d almost forgotten how tapeworms can screw their way into all of our organs, not just the intestines… Really hard to purge them, once they get a good beachhead. But I did not forget that back in the early part of the last century, an enterprising Free Market Business Type, Free of Regulation, sold a patent-medicine capsule that was guaranteed to make you lose weight. each and every one contained some chalk and a couple of tapeworm cysts. Worked “as advertised,” of course… And gee, the guy’s successors are still at it — look how there’s nothing new under the sun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDWFXWiIq0Y

    Don’t forget, after worming, to always wash one’s hands after defecating. The Cysts, like the Poor, we will always have with us… http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-poor-we-shall-always-have-with-us/857202/ lying up waiting to secretly be ingested with some nominally and seemingly healthy bit of broccoli by some less medically and nutritionally privileged “host.”

    Here’s a question: I just finished the day’s newspaper, killed some time puzzling over CNBC (the corpses of seconds, minutes and hours make charnel windrows around my post, like the piles of Human Wave Chinks beyond the wire on Porkchop Hill and other peaks of heroic futility), listened to as much as I could take of NPR’s morning casuistry, and given the quantum of Mean and Evil and Careless and Stupid in the Cuisinart, how much Hope and Love and Decency does it take to uncurdle the sour blood pudding? Maybe that’s just a question of local effects and personal weirdness and hypersensitivity… Participants in the Great Game know that wonderful secret, that It Doesn’t Matter, ‘cuz it’s all about Me and Mine, in My Time…

    That opportunistic Strange Attractor is fully deployed in the MIC, as I’m sure len knows — millions of people chasing the trillions of dollars, putting all that amoral brain power into developing Autonomous Battle Robots and Networking the whole shitpile of “smartness” into a seamless Battlespace and ginning up grinning horrors like nanoweapons and all the rest, figuring out how to actually do away with the Troops so that Enemy Targets can be Engaged and Destroyed by phallic Projections of Power, in aid of exactly what set of notions, again? As detached from the warm, breathing body that feeds the monster (other than by an umbilicus pumping that lifeblood called Real Wealth into the exponentially growing tumor, and accepting willy-nilly and struggling to detoxify the waste products and little metastatic cells, just like the whole “financial industry” thing…

  56. len says:

    Networking the whole shitpile of “smartness” into a seamless Battlespace

    Boy is that ever right. The internet didn’t work well for command and control for the original scenario, but scale it down and add a lot of forward sensors cheap to build, fly and replace, and it works like rats a fighting and bees a swarming. As predicted.

    how much Hope and Love and Decency does it take to uncurdle the sour blood pudding?

    Hard question. Is there a multiplier anywhere in the chain? That’s what the folk groups did last time: they were the signal and the media was the amplifier/multiplier. We got a dose of that when Arlo, Pete, et al went to Zucotti. It is still a question of cultural semiotics. Trouble is there is no money in it for the same people who want that ISP fee Jon talks about. Maybe there is a deal in there for he and his if he thinks about it that way but I’m not sure who he makes that deal with. Right now it is iTunes et al and market driven. They will have to co-opt the people the OWSers do look up to and let them write the kinds of material I was aiming for with al Bari (first rate, of course) and balance that against the kind of thing I was doing with Occupy The World, IOW, the rave them up and calm them down in the right mixture.

    What will not work is a “go away and forget this idea” approach. CNN and Fox have already tried that with humiliating them and it only made them mad. And that’s a critical insight for the cultural programmers: even cancer cells learn and though you can knock them back, they come back smarter every time and then it’s a race between the cure killing the patient or the disease.

    BTW: next chemo round starts Dec 19. So the same caution: I will get stupider than usual into next spring. Patience pleaded.

  57. JTMcPhee says:

    Yar.hamu-ka-Llâh.

  58. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles

    Simple. Get rid of “lender of last resort” and eliminate limited liability for banks. You’ll a healthier banking system.

  59. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola
    Sure, and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

  60. len says:

    Still John has a point. The banks took on more and more risk based on bogus instruments and when they predictably failed were bailed out only to hoard the cash and put the economy into a bigger tailspin. The corporations sitting on huge cash reserves waiting to see how the election goes or in some cases trying to force Obama out of office are no better. The frustration of the OWSers is a near universal american frustration with the well-heeled thus the posters dotting FB saying “yes, this is a class war”. No one really wants to talk about it but it is what it is. One can kibitz the economic theories and technical instruments, but no one wants to face up to the fact that the people getting a real change in their system are camped out in Tahir. Here a cop can pepper spray a line of kids sitting on the ground and our media reacts with a determined yawn and we have a pang of sympathy but no one utters the real description: police state. Just as Egyptians are winning their freedoms, we’re losing ours.

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