Category Archives: GoverCorp

Laws Cause Crime

The government thrives on crisis.  If it doesn’t have one, it will create one, in order to justify wasting more money and grabbing more power.  The “opioid crisis” is a case in point.  To suggest this is a manufactured crisis invites challenge, because I am a lone voice against a deluge of government, media, institutional, industry, and public claimants who insist the “crisis” is real and in need of drastic counter-crisis interventions.

As I recently trudged the forty hours of propaganda training necessary to renew my medical license, I noted a new requirement by the state of Georgia to undergo three hours of training in opioids.  In studying the materials, I also learned about Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), which are “state-operated databases that collect data on dispensed medications.  They periodically send reports to law enforcement, regulators, and licensing agencies, as part of an effort to control diversion of medication by prescribers, pharmacies, and organized criminals.”

Let’s be clear, here.  The histrionic references to the “opioid epidemic,” this “public health emergency,” and its fatalities usually involve heroin, which is increasingly adulterated with fentanyl.  Heroin is absolutely illegal in the US, so no doctor can prescribe it.  Fentanyl is used in surgery and exists as a patch, and is not injectable.  Most fentanyl is obtained illegally, and some sources say it is coming from China.

So the database to track prescribers and users of controlled substances sounds more like a government control strategy than any genuine attempt to protect users from overdoses.

Meanwhile, as I stewed over the “gotcha game” of putting doctors in the firing line of this artificial crisis—damned if you do and damned if you don’t–I received a notice requiring me to show up in court for federal jury duty.  Unlike jury duty for local court (which I did a month ago), there is a dress code for the feds.  Women must wear a dress or pants suit.  So I hauled out my one dress—a fall dress—and washed most of the musty smell out of it.  Already I was plotting ways to get myself disqualified without going to jail.

I have long protested the almost rabid encroachment of the federal government on individuals, most vividly embodied in drug laws.  I retired over the virtual mandate to prescribe, with psychiatrists marginalized into “medication managers,” and psychotherapy turfed to less expensive psychologists and social workers.

Meanwhile, drug laws as part of the patriarchal government control and revenue machine has a long history.

Wars have been fought over opiates.   Although their medicinal powers have been known for at least 6000 years, in the Middle East, Roman, and Greek civilizations, and Asia, the practice of smoking opium was brought to China in the 1600s by European traders.  By 1729, there was so much addiction that China outlawed it because it made opium smokers unfit for work or the military.  However, the British used slaves in India to grow the opium poppy and to smuggle the drug into China.  Presumably, the Chinese were willing to buy the opium with gold, and gold was leaving the country.  This led to the Opium Wars, which the British won, and through the Treaty of Nanjing and subsequent ones, forced China open to trade with the Western World.

My Goodman and Gillman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics claims that “opioids have been the mainstay of pain treatment for thousands of years, and remain so today.” Opiates and opioids are highly addictive, and tolerance to their euphoric effects builds faster than to physical effects, such as respiratory depression.  This can lead to fatal overdoses, as the user takes more and more drug to reach euphoric levels.  When combined with other drugs that depress the respiratory center, like benzodiazepines (such as Valium, Ativan, or Xanax), or alcohol, the risk for fatal overdose is magnified.

The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 put the federal government in control of every aspect of the opiate and coca supply-and-distribution chain, as well as insuring taxing power over them.  There are strong arguments that it was a racial discrimination tool.  It was claimed that cocaine was improving Southern blacks’ gun marksmanship and causing them to rape white women.  Chinese immigrants were seducing white women with opium.  Later, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was used to control the Mexican immigrants who had used marijuana as part of their culture for centuries.  US citizens, who had used “cannabis” in their tonics, did not know it was the same substance as the Mexicans’ “marihuana.”

Fast forward to 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act (Richard Nixon), instituted a schedule for approved substances.  Both heroin and marijuana were assigned to Schedule I status: no medical benefit and absolutely illegal.

The Drug Enforcement Administration was created as a sub-agency under the Department of Justice on July 1, 1973 to enforce the Controlled Substances Act, among other things.

The “War on Drugs,” begun by President Nixon in 1971, was vigorously pursued by President Ronald Reagan, who took office in 1981.  For-profit prisons began emerging after 1980 to accommodate the massive incarcerations that resulted.  Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 dramatically increased the number of incarcerations and length of sentences for drug-related convictions.  As of 2008, 90.7 percent of federal prisoners were incarcerated for non-violent offenses.  At present, the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, 724/100,000 people, compared with Russia in second place, with 581/100,000 doing time in prisons, jails, on probation or parole.  The US has 25% of the entire world’s incarcerated population, with black men comprising almost half.

Laws cause crime, according to me, and drug laws are especially guilty of creating the criminal element that is filling the prisons.  So last week, when the federal judge read the indictments against the young, black, male defendant, who was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, I knew I could not be impartial.  The judge listed all the members of the federal prosecution team, the local narcotics squad, and the members of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation team who had participated in this gang bang (my take) on this one guy and his lone, white, female attorney.  When the judge asked if anyone had any issues with the federal government, my hand shot up.

I was handed the microphone, stated my name, and said I retired over drug laws.  The judge asked if I could consider the facts of the case as they applied to the laws.  I said the laws themselves are criminal, and, to my mind, the federal government is on trial, here.  It is guilty of practicing medicine, and the defendant is innocent. (That’s how I remember it, anyway.)

“At least she’s honest,” the judge said.  At that point all the lawyers agreed that I would not be a good juror.  I was dismissed and did not get arrested on the way out.

Now, we have the ongoing “opioid crisis,” a new twist on an old theme, once again designed to control through fiat and insider collusion, people’s rights to self-governance.  The institutional powers-that-be have ganged up to push misleading propaganda on the public.  First, the officially prescribed “cure” for this crisis is more money, and more government and institutional control, specifically for “medication-assisted treatment.”

The misrepresentation in reporting shows in its superficiality, with slants calculated to confuse the facts.  First, in reporting numbers of fatal overdoses, heroin is included with other opioids, including prescription pain medications.  Heroin exists in its own category, because no doctor can prescribe it, so there is no legal way to obtain it.  Doctors are being targeted for over-prescribing opioid pain killers, so there’s the push to put more controls on prescribing MDs.

Another flaw in the reported statistics is that “overdoses” are not broken down to determine how many drugs may have contributed to the death.  Accidental overdoses of all medications are increasing, primarily because people are taking too many different medications—not all psychotropics– with cumulative side effects, including respiratory depression.

“Medication-assisted treatment,” is—no matter what they claim—substituting one pill for another, and yet another plank in the pill-pushing platform of the “health-care industry.”  The three drugs approved for treating “opioid use disorder” by the FDA include methadone (an opioid agonist) and buprenorphine (an opioid agonist-antagonist) —both opioids themselves—and naltrexone (an opioid antagonist). Now, “providers” need special licenses and special training to prescribe buprenorphine.

The psychiatric establishment is pushing for more funding for more “addiction specialists” and more legislation to curb this dangerous trend.    FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is pushing for more funding for more treatment and insurance coverage.  They brag about how all the professional and government organizations have joined in “partnership” with drug companies to find ever more effective strategies for treatment.

Never mind that an internet search leads to addicts who extol the highs they experience from buprenorphine.  Addicts are happy with methadone, too, and can fairly easily switch dependencies, especially if they add other drugs.  The high from buprenorphine isn’t as good as with heroin, they claim, but it can be enhanced with benzos like Valium.  The withdrawal is easier than with heroin, but it lasts longer.  Nausea and vomiting are problems.

Never mind that most substance abuse treatment is notoriously ineffective, with most studies following patients for a year or less.  The mainstay of treatment since 1935 has been the non-pharmacological approach of Alcoholics Anonymous and its spin-offs, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA).

So where’s the crisis? It is claimed Prohibition gave rise to organized crime, because the best way to raise the price of anything is to put controls on it.  Do laws cause crime?  With all the lawyers practicing medicine in Congress and in the Supreme Court, I have to wonder if they do.

 

 

 

 

Autism and Measles

brainwash

Folk art, Telluride, Colorado, 2003

I read a little about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the March, 2019 issue of Psychiatric Annals.  The prevalence has risen dramatically in the last decade, now at one in fifty-nine children.  However, it’s not clear how these statistics were obtained.  Broadened diagnostic criteria, diagnosis by hearsay, and other factors may be involved.

Autism used to be lumped with “childhood schizophrenia” but no longer is.  It lacks the hallucinations and delusions of schizophrenia but has features of social withdrawal, repetitive behavior, communication and socialization problems, and resistance to change.  The article had some history about how the diagnosis came to be and the idea that “mother blame” became popular in the 1950s and 1960s.  I thought that wasn’t fair, because if close others contribute to the problem, the whole family dynamic should be considered as well as the larger role of society.

I also wondered about the cultural expectation for children to conform to socialization models dictated by the schools.  Anyone who doesn’t fit the excessively structured militaristic regimentation of grades, classes, sitting at desks, and listening for hours of every day, is considered abnormal, autistic, hyperactive, or given other labels applied to those who fall outside the bell curve.

Schizophrenics I’ve encountered have trouble dealing with society’s hypocrisy, and I wonder if autistic children retreat inward to escape a world that makes no sense.

Meanwhile, I caught part of an interview on NPR about the measles outbreak, which let me know a judge has blocked the Rockland County, New York ban on un-vaccinated children entering public places.  This “public health emergency” consists of hundreds of cases–465 in 19 states as of April 4, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)–but not one death or any real complications.  The CDC spokesperson on the radio informed us that before the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine was developed, millions of people got measles, and there were hundreds of deaths.  She mentioned complications like meningitis.  Further research revealed the Rockland County outbreak started with a traveler returning from Israel, which is also experiencing a spate of measles. The CDC says outbreaks in the US are primarily among un-vaccinated  people in orthodox Jewish communities.

I was glad that New York state Judge Rolf Thorsen postponed the ban—which I consider a gigantic government power grab to force medical treatment on people—at least until a hearing on April 19.  Even the mentally ill have more rights to refuse medications than parents of children in today’s drug-crazed world.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has issued “an emergency health order necessary to curtail the large measles outbreak in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community” of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, according to the New York Times. Mayor de Blasio has targeted those living in several zip codes for vaccinations and threatens a $1000 fine for non-compliance. This has generated a heated backlash, in advance of a lawsuit, with an affidavit circulating to the effect that the mandate is in “clear violation of the Nuremburg Code which forbids forcing medical procedures on anyone without their fully informed consent.”

Government officials and the CDC lament the “misinformation” being spread by the anti-vaxers, who are “falsely warning that [vaccines] cause autism and lead to other health problems,” says the New York Times.  Now, “City officials say countering the anti-vaccine movement is a priority.”

The Psychiatric Annals report discounted the link between MMR and ASD in one sentence.  That had been a hypothesis of Bernard Rimland, a psychologist who founded the Autism Society of America in 1965, two years after the MMR vaccine was introduced.  (The CDC says on its website that thimerosal, the mercury-containing agent implicated in the claims of autism, was removed from all childhood vaccinations in 2001, and that the flu vaccine may or may not contain it.)

What they don’t say is that a case of the measles confers lifelong immunity.  Nor do they say that some doctors claim even vaccinated people can be carriers of the disease, or that vaccinations can confuse the body such that it becomes hypersensitive or allergic to a variety of usually innocuous substances.

Why do I care?  My psychiatric confreres are wimps hypnotized by their own propaganda.  Psychiatric Annals laments physician burnout and the loss of doctors from an “economy” that turns on the doctor’s signature.  This can be alleviated, they say, by a CWO, a wellness officer, who monitors physician burnout, and by better access and reduced stigma for seeking mental help.  And we should make electronic medical records more efficient, with doctors involved in design of software.

I wrote all over that article.  As one of the burned out physicians who preferred to retire and maybe starve than be beat to death by a psychotic system, I feel especially qualified to diagnose the health scare/snare racket as “suicidal, homicidal, psychotic, and out of emotional control.”  Doctor burnout is also a public health emergency.  We are losing prescription-writing machines faster than we can replace them, and everyone who has a “right” to health care has to pay through the nose for that right.  If they are broke or broken, Congress and federal/state/local bureaucracy, our “medical providers” of first and last resort, will step in and make sure the approved insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, bureaucracies, lawyers, government lobbyists and contractors, as well as universities, get paid to make sure everyone’s rights are protected from everyone else’s rights.  With Congress and the mayor of New York practicing medicine, who needs doctors?

If I Were in Charge . . .

If I were in charge of things, I would have more enemies than Donald Trump.  I would discriminate against everyone equally.  I would start with the budget and eliminate deficit spending.  Last year’s revenues would be this year’s budget limit.  This would infuriate everyone except the unborn children who are expected to pay for ballooning government debt.

Under the premise that government exists to fund itself, the next obvious bugaboo is taxes.  For people to pay taxes, they either have to be bullied or conned into thinking they will get returns on their investment.  This is why there are so many government jobs, government contractors, and government programs.  “Hire the opposition” is an ancient method of reducing competition and getting cooperation.  If you can’t hire the opposition, you can compromise the competition by making laws against them or throwing them in jail.

Of course, jail costs money, but the cost of competition is higher.  If you’re a monopoly, like the US government, you claim a monopoly over all “economic narrows,” such as the money supply, and over the laws, like drug laws, so that you can create bureaucracies to enforce the laws everywhere in the world.  This is why we have wars, which cost unborn children lots of future money.  This is why we have drug cartels, too, that create enormous competition for governments, unless they buy governments and then protect each other.  This is not only about El Chapo, who just got convicted, but about Pfizer, and all the other government-sanctioned drug cartels that trade so profitably on Wall Street.

If I were in charge, then, I would quit funding wars, bring the military home, and re-write their job descriptions to do the jobs we now hire government contractors to do.  That government competes with the private sector for skilled labor is a given.  Releasing government employees from their monopolistic responsibilities would free the government from doing both its job and that of the private sector, too.  This would save unborn taxpayers lots of future money.

If I haven’t been assassinated or impeached by this point, I would issue a currency that would compete with the Federal Reserve Note.  I would allow the new currency to be used in paying taxes.  People could still use their Federal Reserve Notes to pay income and payroll taxes, which are set up to pay the Fed perpetual interest on federal debt.  If the government is no longer borrowing money to support a deficit, the Federal Reserve would become superfluous. It could collect its Federal Reserve Notes in perpetuity and cost the US government nothing.  Since the income tax pays for stupidity, many people may opt out of paying the Fed to finance government insanity.  Not to stigmatize the mentally ill.  Not all insane people are stupid, and not all stupid people are insane, but, like lawyers, there seems to be a disproportionate percentage of both in elected positions.

I would not waste money on border walls or border security.  The way to stem illegal immigration is to give the immigrants no reason cross the border.  If there were no drug laws, there would be no drug cartels, and no need for CIA, DEA, FDA, DOJ, and the international deep state financial system of commodity drug money.  All those escapees from Guatemala and Honduras could return home safely.

If I haven’t alienated everyone by now, I would make payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare optional, both for employees and employers.  This would free up today’s money for today’s needs and asset building.  As things stand, the fiat money we have now represents government debt, so the more you have, the more federal debt you have assumed.

The government knows that the best way to control people is to borrow from them or to lend to them.  If you lend something that is valueless, backed only by the “full faith and credit of the federal government,” you are counting on promises made on behalf of those unborn taxpayers to work for future money to pay a debt on nothing.  Thus all investments, except those with practical value–like a debt-free home you live in–are investments in government debt, so “Rah, rah, America,” if you want your old-age nest egg to survive in the Ponzi financial system that depends on future money to pay for present excesses.  Anyone wonder why the US dollar has lost 97% of its value since the Federal Reserve Act was passed in 1913?  The “full faith and credit of the United States,” isn’t worth much anymore.

If I were in charge of things, I would acknowledge that government can barely afford to be in the government-over-the people business, much less in the war business, the agriculture business, the health care business, the social-consciousness business or the business business, so I would dismantle all the government “help” and its corresponding regulation and force people to find their own answers to their own problems, without the Nanny State to tell them what to do and how to do it.

If I were in charge, then, I would make life as easy as possible for myself by divesting myself of responsibility for making decisions for everyone else.  By then everyone would probably be an enemy, but who needs friends when you have peace?

 

It’s All About the Money

Dave Volek, on WriterBeat.com, wrote an article January 12, 2019 on The Money Masters, a 3.5-hour YouTube presentation on historical manipulators of wealth.  Volek’s article and the subsequent comment thread were enlightening, with contributions from people apparently well versed on the subject.  My own interest in how all this works rests on readings such as The Creature from Jekyll Island:  A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, by G. Edward Griffin, Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, The Robber Barons, by Matthew Josephson, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins, and Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, among others, as well as business news in various periodicals and newspapers for a couple of decades.  Commentators on Dave’s article linked to other on-line videos, some of which I also watched, but I ended up with more questions than answers.

These are the links to the article and videos referenced below:

Dave Volek:  http://writerbeat.com/articles/28727-The-Money-Masters

The Money Mastershttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFj_cqNBaZY

Money as Debthttps://vimeo.com/131985511

America:  Freedom to Fascismhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6ayb02bwp0&app=desktop

THE MONEY MASTERS

The Money Masters, made in 1996, gave an overview of historical attempts to own and control wealth.  The usual culprits were mentioned: Alexander Hamilton, the Rothschilds, the banking cartels, including the Federal Reserve, among others.  It mentions the link between central banking and the income tax.

But there was an agenda, because the makers stressed reform of the banking system in favor of the government’s printing its own money and bypassing debt and the Fed.  I believe Mefobills on WriterBeat advocated the same, calling it “sovereign finance,” and according to him, that’s how Canada financed its transcontinental railroad debt-free.  As William Still, the creator of The Money Masters confirmed, anything that can be accepted in payment of taxes constitutes legal tender.  If I remember right, that’s how states in the early days (before the Constitution) gave legitimacy to their currencies.  Apparently, that’s how Maduro in Venezuela plans to legitimize his block-chain petro, backed by oil.

The documentary is spotty and ultimately unsatisfying. It hinted at things I knew; and tied concepts together in a time line that was instructive; and it served the purpose of showing how the international bankers manipulated historical events to create wars, for instance, and to determine the winners and losers.  Napoleon’s battle at Waterloo was given as an example, and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.  The documentary claims that in WWII, the Rothschild branches in England, France and Germany, respectively, loaned money to those governments, and of course profited from all.  It said the arrangements were that the war’s winners would cover the debts of the losers.  The reason given for overthrowing the Tsar in Russia was that he refused a central bank.

While I can accept all this so far, I question the premise that a government has any better financial sense than a banker.  Both are profiting from other people’s energy/money and have theoretically infinite power over it.  The documentary says—correctly—that a debt-based dollar with the Federal Reserve as go-between has no more value than a dollar created by the government, except the latter is interest free.  It suggests the federal government could lend its own dollars to states and localities interest-free for local projects.  The problem, says the documentary, is the usury of interest—especially to profiteers like the Fed.  It also condemns fractional reserve banking and gives a good explanation of how that works.

But who’s to say government-determined projects are in taxpayers’ best interests?  It still constitutes a debt to the government, even if your property is flooded by a dam the government deems necessary.  Would Savannah borrow from the federal government as liberally as it sells bonds to finance its replacement of school gym floors or to replace grass with astro-turf on the sports fields?  Wouldn’t taxpayers be just as obligated, even if the loans carried no interest?  That would give the taxing powers license to borrow for ever more wild-eyed projects.

MONEY AS DEBT

A commentator on Dave Volek’s article, Logical Man, recommended Money as Debt, so I watched that 45-minute video, too.  It had the same theme as The Money Masters and the same agenda.  Essentially both denounced interest and claim the government should issue interest-free money to lend to smaller governments (states and municipalities) for infrastructure projects and the like.

Money as Debt (which should be “Debt as Money”) gives a good scenario of why interest on principal perpetrates an ever-increasing debt bubble.  If principal is created as bank credit, where does interest come from?  All those debtors must scramble to pay interest or go bankrupt and lose their assets.  A typical strategy for the bankers is to generate new loans to cover the interest on old loans, thus including old interest in new principal.  The Creature from Jekyll Island describes this in some detail.

Money as Debt claims that without debt there would be no money, an argument I’ve heard before.  That’s only because we live in a stupid system built on living beyond one’s means, starting with the government(s).  Second, the government exists to fund itself through extortion and war, so it spends a goodly portion of its income creating mayhem around the world that it then extorts more money to repair.

While The Money Masters disparages the gold standard—it’s too easy to corner the gold market—I believe some kind of standard is necessary to keep government within limits.  What’s to stop any government at any level from printing or borrowing unlimited funds to justify government contracts to friends and business associates, as now?  The specious argument that gold is too easy to corner assumes a fixed price.  Even if the central banks hold most of the gold now, it does them no good sitting in vaults, especially if they’re not allowed to print IOUs instead of selling the gold itself.

If the federal government decides to go to war, or wars, as now, who could stop it?  Would states and localities be required to pay for it, as now?

The pundits make a distinction between government finance and individual finance.  They presume that’s okay, even though all acknowledge the government is corrupt.  But to spend without permission, and especially to go into debt in other people’s names, is a reprehensible practice and symptomatic of the autocratic paternalism of all governments today.  Those who buy bonds collude with the deception and become willing conspirators in exchange for their purchased position in the “ruling class.”  I could say the same for stock purchasers, who also understandably want something for nothing in the form of dividends.  Here we have people actively contributing to destruction of the planet to “grow the economy” while actually depleting it.

But no one addresses such sticking points as the effect of the petrodollar or that paying off a debt contracts the money supply, as does writing off a debt, as happens in bankruptcy.  No one can know how much money is out there, especially as every country has its own.  China and Russia are talking about (and may have enacted) gold-backed currency.  This may be a factor in US demonization of these two governments.

No one but me suggests that credit is destructive, whether it charges interest or not.  Unlimited credit provides unlimited opportunity to do stupid things, and if you’re a government, those stupid things cost everyone and benefit only a few.  Then there are the government contractors, which in my ideal society would not be allowed.

AMERICA:  FREEDOM TO FASCISM

I ended up watching a 2.5-hour video by Aaron Russo entitled America:  Freedom to Fascism, made about 2006.  This was also recommended by a commentator, Jeffry Gilbert, on Dave Volek’s The Money Masters post.  Russo’s video is about the income tax and goes into some detail refuting the belief that there’s a law requiring wage earners to file.  The 16th amendment, he claims, imposed no new taxes, something affirmed in at least five Supreme Court rulings since 1913.  According to the Constitution, two types of taxes are allowed:  direct and indirect.  Direct taxes must be apportioned by population.  The Supreme Court has defined “income” as profits from a corporation, not wages, which it defines as receipts from sale of time or labor.

Russo interviewed people like former US Congressman Ron Paul, several former IRS agents, a restaurant owner who was targeted by the IRS for presumed drug dealing, and several people from an organization called “Tax Honesty.”  Most interesting was an interview with a former commissioner for the IRS, who wrote the tax code and who now works for a high-powered law firm.  This guy could not or would not answer whether there’s a specific law requiring people to file.  He essentially said Supreme Court rulings saying the 16th imposed no new taxes were obsolete and irrelevant.  Yet the IRS code says it’s a voluntary tax.

All this was linked to the Federal Reserve, and the video’s ultimate agenda was to abolish the Fed, which Congress has the power to do.  Russo raised the question of whether there is any gold left in Ft. Knox.  Some believe the gold is being held as collateral in the Fed’s New York office basement against the national debt.

Russo also mentioned the federal government’s obligation/responsibility to coin and issue its own money.

In any case, I surprise myself by piercing other peoples’ (and general) assumptions, on which the whole authoritarian power structure rests.  The primary assumption is that the masses are stupid, childlike, and don’t know what’s good for them.

 

New York, New York

The June, 2018 issue of Mindful magazine was dedicated to optimism.  One of the articles relates the story of a woman whose cleaning service worker cut his finger on a broken coaster.  Her husband suggested she give the man some money, but said husband protested when the writer went further and called the service the next day to inquire about the man’s cut finger.  Apparently the cut was minor and a band-aid stopped the bleeding.

The husband worried that admitting error could bring legal charges, but our author claimed she was “optimistic” that the situation would resolve itself.

“Huh?” I wondered, after reading the article.  “These people must live in New York.”  The magazine is also based in New York.  How many regular Americans have cleaning services, I wondered.  Moreover, even if they have maids or help to clean their homes, how many Americans would worry about lawsuits from flesh wounds on index fingers?

This got me to thinking about how solipsistic New York is.  In many ways, New York dominates the world.  It is the publishing center, financial center, media center, entertainment center, and the advertising center of the world.  I lived there for two years in the mid-1970s, and there’s a lot to like about it, like the public transportation system.  But after two years, the noise, the dirt, the congestion, and the crowds got to me, so I escaped to the mountains of Colorado and re-captured my sense of balance.

Lately, though, I’ve become increasingly aware that New York provincialism has a far deeper impact than most people realize, and it’s not healthy.  These people don’t know where their food comes from or where their garbage goes.  They actually believe the propaganda they put out for the rest of the world to buy, consume, digest, and excrete.

It takes a lot of farm to feed a city, but the New York Whines and Gall Street Journal sneer at the rural rednecks who support New Yorker Donald Trump.  The New York Times, especially, seems almost deranged in its attempts to discredit the president and everything he touches, including those idiot evangelicals who are willing to overlook his licentious past and foul mouth.

While I also have issues with the president, my issues with New York itself are of longer duration and go far deeper.  New York has played a pivotal role in American history due, in part, to the machinations of the current Broadway hit Hamilton’s protagonist.  The darling of George Washington and of New York, Alexander Hamilton single-handedly did more to set the course of this nation than anyone else, except, perhaps, Benjamin Franklin.

Hamilton was admittedly an Anglophile who hailed from the West Indies, a poor, illegitimate orphan who worked in his teen years for British mercantilist traders, including slave trading.  His trip to the North American continent was financed and subsidized by his employers, who paid for his upkeep in barrels of slave-produced sugar.  He attached himself to George Washington, but was a war agitator and enthusiast even before he left St. Croix.  The only military command he ever held, after badgering Washington for years, was at the battle of Yorktown, in which he demonstrated extraordinary bravery, if his apologist/biographer, author Ron Chernow is to be believed.

Never mind that New York caved to the British three months after the Declaration of Independence was signed, on September 15, 1776, then remained in British hands for the next five years.  Never mind that at the secret Constitutional Convention—which was held on false pretenses—he drove off New York’s other two representatives, then heavily influenced proceedings, ultimately going to enormous effort to get the Constitution ratified.

Hamilton planted the seeds for the thriving blood-sucking plant New York has become, so naturally he would be a hero in the Empire State.

It was Hamilton who linked government, the banking industry, and Wall Street in the enduring marriage so-called “capitalism” has become.  After caving to the British, and maintaining an active trade with the Brits during the Revolutionary War, in 1787, the city threatened to secede from the state if it didn’t ratify the Constitution of the newly formed federal government.  As it turned out, New York and Virginia were among the last to ratify, thanks, in part to Hamilton’s barrage of anonymous newspaper articles collectively known as “The Federalist Papers.”  Then New York City became the nation’s first capitol.

It was Hamilton who pushed the first central bank through Congress, and as the first Treasury Secretary, provided loans via the Bank of New York (which he started) to pay George Washington’s and Congress’ salaries.  The first central bank, the First Bank of the United States, was 20% government and 80% privately owned, with most of the investors being foreigners.  Members of Congress also bought shares.  These two banks’ stocks were the among the first shares traded on the budding New York Stock Exchange and led to the first financial panic in US history, the Panic of 1792, thanks to wild debt-backed stock speculation by Hamilton’s erstwhile friend and Assistant Treasury Secretary, William Duer.

Now we have a case in which the government, banks, and stock market are so inter-dependent that the lines blur.  Tax-deferred pension plans, largely public pension plans, IRAs, and 401(k)s are all invested on Wall Street, providing a major source of funding for fund managers, stock churners, and profiteers to gamble their way to riches on other people’s money.

New York City and Donald Trump deserve each other.  Trump’s attitude is New York’s attitude, and it’s a gamble whether the nation will survive.

 

 

How Did It Happen?

Does anyone ever wonder how we got the income tax?  This tax has become so universal, on international, federal, state and even local levels, that it is taken for granted, but few people seem to question its legitimacy, history, or even its purpose.

An internet search suggests a form of “wealth tax” or income tax existed in the Roman Republic, ancient Egypt, and China, but the form we know, usually imposed to finance wars, began in England in 1188, by Henry II, for the “Saladin tithe” to fund the Third Crusade.

In his landmark book, Wealth of Nations, in 1776, Adam Smith, a Scott, suggested even the King of Britain could not get away with an income tax.  Tax on interest or money is difficult to calculate without extraordinary “inquisition” into every man’s private circumstances and “would be a source of such continual and endless vexation as no people could support.”  However, a mere nine years after Smith died in 1790, British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger formally implemented the income tax, designed to pay for the French Revolutionary War, to purchase weapons and equipment.  It was a progressive income tax and in place between 1799 and 1816, but for a short reprieve following the Peace of Amiens in 1803.  It was reintroduced in Great Britain in 1842 by Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, who was seeking revenues for the government’s increasing budget deficits.

“A heavy progressive or graduated income tax” is the second major tenet of the The Communist Manifesto, as delineated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848.  The fifth tenet advocates “Centralization of credit in the hands of the State by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

In the United States, President Abraham Lincoln instituted the first US income tax in 1861 to pay debts from his war.  It was repealed by Congress in 1872.

The Socialist Labor Party pushed for an income tax in 1887.  The Populist Party demanded it in its 1892 platform, and the Democrats, led by William Jennings Bryan, advocated for the progressive income tax law passed in 1894.   Called the William-Gorman Tariff Act (Revenue Act), it reduced tariffs and imposed a two percent income tax but only on the top ten percent of earners.  In 1895, in Pollock v. Farmers Loan and Trust Co., the Supreme Court declared the tax unconstitutional, based on the constitutional requirements that taxation be apportioned by a state’s population.

Republican Rhode Island Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, who served between 1881 and 1911, was probably the single most influential individual in creating the financial structure we know today.  As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee–which oversaw bank regulation and monetary policy–he was possibly the most powerful man in the nation from 1898 to 1911. The financial Panic of 1907, (which some believe was engineered by banker and Aldrich friend/business associate, J. Pierpont Morgan) led to the Aldrich-Vreeland Act in 1908, which was designed to make the monetary supply more elastic.  It also established the National Monetary Commission with Aldrich becoming chairman.  As chairman, he led a team of “experts” to European capitals to study their banking practices, and returned as a proponent of a national banking system.  He worked in secret with powerful bankers to develop the “Aldrich Plan,” which eventually formed the basis of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.  The secret dealings that began in 1910 and led to the creation of the Federal Reserve system is well documented in The Creature from Jekyll Island:  A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, by G. Edward Griffin.

Aldrich, who apparently had a habit of publicly opposing things he wanted, then voted in Congress for the corporate income tax in 1909, claiming this was to insure the personal income tax would not be passed.  Ten years before, he had called the income tax “communistic.”  However, later he and President William J. Taft then agreed that a constitutional amendment would be more effective in overriding the Supreme Court’s objections the 1894 law.  Aldrich claimed he believed the 16th amendment would never be approved.

The relationship between the Federal Reserve System and the new income stream generated by the income tax is not well documented, but it resembles that of the Whiskey Tax and the nation’s first central bank in 1791.  At that time, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton introduced legislation for the whiskey tax on December 13, 1790 and for the central bank the next day, on December 14, 1790.

A common thread in the two bank/taxing schemes was that they gave the federal government the authority, if not the right, to investigate every taxpayer’s personal property and bank accounts searching for infractions, and to seize property it decides has been obtained illegally.  This has set the precedent for the federal invasion into private lives that has become so prevalent today.

In the “Gilded Age,” Nelson Aldrich was well known for his close and unsavory ties to business, by which he had become personally wealthy.  He believed his power base would successfully defeat the income tax amendment.  Indeed, while they were opposed, their solidarity had broken down, so individuals like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller (whose son John Jr., married Aldrich’s daughter Abby) formed tax-exempt foundations to shelter their wealth before the tax went into effect.

At that time the income tax was promoted as a “class tax,” with only the upper income earners affected, so the idea of wealth re-distribution appealed to lower income earners.  Only later did President Franklin D. Roosevelt expand the “class tax” to a “mass tax,” according to former IRS historian Shelley L. Davis in her book, Unbridled Power: Inside the Secret Culture of the IRS.

Proponents of the income tax used other arguments, too.  It was proposed as a more reliable method than tariffs for raising federal revenues, and gave President Woodrow Wilson justification for reducing tariffs.  Also at that time the idea of Prohibition was in the air, and advocates of Prohibition recognized the government would lose income from excise taxes on alcohol.

The 16th Amendment reads, “The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”  It was passed by Congress on July 2, 1909 and sent to the states for ratification.

It was supposedly ratified by the requisite number of states by February 13, 1913.  However, there is some question about whether it was ever properly ratified.  In 1985, William J. Benson published The Law that Never Was about the income tax.  Here, Benson claimed that in 1984 he had visited national archives and all 48 state capitals looking for records of ratification.  Not only had he found variations in wording and punctuation from the congressionally approved amendment, but he claimed some states which were certified as ratifying never did or voted against the amendment.  He said only two to four states had ratified as written.

Constitutional amendments require ratification by three-fourths of states.  In 1913, there were 48 states, so 36 would have had to ratify.  Benson found that seven states had not ratified at all.  1913 Secretary of State Philander Knox had claimed Kentucky and Tennessee ratified, but Benson said they did not.  Eight states were reported as having ratified, but Benson found no evidence of it.  Six more states did approve, but the governors or other officials required to sign did not sign.  Twenty-five states violated provisions of their own constitutions in ratification, and 29 violated state procedures.  Twenty-two states changed the wording to ratify, one state changed spelling, and 26 states changed punctuation.   Oklahoma changed the wording to say the opposite of what the amendment said.  Tennessee law required a delay until the next session but ignored it.

The American Law Division of Congress’ Congressional Research Service responded in May, 1985 to Benson’s claims.  “While it didn’t rebut Benson’s factual claims,” it said the amendment had been ratified “because Knox said it had been ratified,” says one internet source.

In 1990 Benson went to prison for tax evasion.  He served 15 months before a federal appeals panel overturned the conviction, saying a government witness had given improper testimony in the 1987 trial.  This occurred less than one month before Benson was scheduled for parole.

Benson’s book caused quite a stir, and he was selling packages based on his book to help individuals fight the Internal Revenue Service.  However, those who have used his arguments have not fared well in court.  Also, Benson himself was the loser in court rulings in 2007 and 2009 that determined his “Reliance Defense Package,” which he sold for $3500 to tax protesters, was fraudulent.

Courts have denied requests for evidentiary hearings and have refused to hear the arguments against the 16th amendment itself, claiming “Secretary Knox’ decision is now beyond review.”

In an interview in 2013, Benson remained an income-tax evader and bragged he has never gone back to prison, despite his continued outspoken crusade against the 16th amendment.

 

 

 

Hamilton’s Legacy

As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, pundits and philosophers theorize about the problems of income inequality, social stratification, and legal injustice.  Proposed solutions flow thick and fast, most advocating government intervention or denouncing government de-regulation since the Great Depression.

The American myth of freedom, democracy, and capitalism dies hard, but the United States has never been free, democratic, or even capitalistic, unless it was before the Europeans arrived.  Stratification of society was built into the system with the arrival of the English and their traditions of monarchs and minions, the French and Spanish, and their long histories of battle and inbreeding among themselves on the European continent.

The American experiment may have represented a break from the past, but it carried with it the same patriarchal patterns of its forebears.  The “Founding Fathers” ultimately adopted a government structure that varied only slightly from that of its British progenitors.

Many US citizens don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate on July 4 every year, and the Constitution, which was drafted in secrecy and signed on September 17, 1787, over eleven years after the Declaration announced the United States’ independence from Britain.

In that eleven year gap, the Revolutionary War had been fought and won.  The now free colonies were struggling with debts to soldiers, domestic, and foreign investors.  The individual states had taxing power, but the loosely formed union did not.  Some states were paying off their debts, but others were lagging.  John Adams had been sent to London to negotiate credit for the fledgling country, and Thomas Jefferson had been sent to France for the same purpose, to replace Benjamin Franklin, who was aging and ill.

James Madison of Virginia and Alexander Hamilton of New York led the effort to revise the Articles of Confederation with a new Constitution that would create a strong central government, supersede state governments, and have the taxing power to pay war debts.  Once gathered at what became the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, though, each delegate learned the intent was to completely re-write the Articles and was sworn to strict secrecy. George Washington was unanimously elected president.  Madison sat by his side taking notes and was later acknowledged as having written the Constitution.  Alexander Hamilton was a strong advocate for a centralized government, brilliant and opinionated, an open admirer of the British model, including the monarchy, and wanted to reproduce the British system in the states.  He also extolled wealth and privilege, claiming the masses could not be trusted to manage their own affairs.  Madison was of the same general opinion.

While he initially opposed the Constitution, Hamilton later became its strongest advocate and promoter.  He induced Madison and John Jay to write with him what became the Federalist Papers, a series of anonymous essays distributed to newspapers to promote ratification by the states.  For ratification, the Philadelphia conventioneers chose to bypass state legislatures and rely on specifically convened  ratification conventions.

Hamilton played an early and profound role in shaping the early American government.  According to his biographer, Ron Chernow*, he was an illegitimate child of a dissolute couple, born in 1755 or 1757 on the British island of Nevis in the West Indies.  After his father abandoned the family and his mother died, he was employed at age 13 as a clerk and bookkeeper for wealthy British traders on St. Croix, also in the West Indies.  His employers traded in a variety of goods, but at least one shipment a year was of African slaves.  Those employers eventually financed Hamilton’s migration to the New York colony in 1773, where periodic shipments of slave-produced sugar covered his expenses.

Hamilton, who was dashing and gifted, quickly made his way into New York society, courting and marrying a daughter, Elizabeth, of the prominent Philip Schuyler.  He enlisted in George Washington’s Continental Army, gained Washington’s confidence and became his personal secretary during the Revolutionary War years.  Later, Washington granted him his one and only command, at the battle of Yorktown, where Continental and French forces defeated British General Cornwallis to win the Revolutionary War.

After the war ended, Hamilton practiced law in New York City and involved himself in politics.    He also involved himself in banking, writing the constitution for the Bank of New York in 1784, as agent for his brother-in-law, John B. Church, who was in Britain acting as a member of Parliament.  It was New York’s first bank and exists today as BNY-Mellon, billed as having the longest continually traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

After the Constitution was ratified, George Washington became the first US president, elected in 1788.  John Adams was elected vice president, and Hamilton became Washington’s first Treasury Secretary.  Thomas Jefferson, who was still in France, was appointed Secretary of State and confirmed by the Senate before he knew of his appointment.

Hamilton went to work immediately to take control of the nation’s finances.  The day after his confirmation as Secretary of the Treasury, he arranged for a $50,000 loan from the Bank of New York—of which he was a director–to pay salaries of Washington and Congress.  He then arranged for another $50,000 loan from the Bank of North America.  The Hamilton Tariff Act of 1789 was Congress’ second official move, after establishing rules for taking oaths of office.

By 1790, Hamilton was busy working on a plan for the federal government to assume state debts from the Revolutionary War.  In the Constitutional Convention the question of assumption had split—like the slavery issue—essentially along North-South lines, because Southern states had paid off much of their debt, while northern states, like New York, had not.  The issue dovetailed with questions about the ultimate location of the nation’s capital.  Madison, silently backed by George Washington, negotiated for a Potomac River location near Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation in exchange for agreeing that the federal government would assume the states’ debt.

Meanwhile, Hamilton was busy creating the First Bank of the United States, a central bank that could issue credit, capitalized at $10 million, 20% owned by the government and 80% owned by shareholders.  He was also looking for other sources of income and convinced Washington and Congress to support an excise tax on whiskey.  He introduced legislation for the whiskey tax on December 13, 1790 and for the central bank December 14, 1790.  At that point, Washington’s main source of income came from whiskey distillation.

Both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson vigorously opposed the central bank, calling it unconstitutional.  Madison and Hamilton had been allies before, but this difference in interpretation of the Constitution caused a rift that never healed.  Jefferson and Madison wrote letters back and forth condemning the mad stock speculation that greeted the public offering of central bank stock, and the fact that people in the Northeast could talk of nothing else.  Once again, critics claimed Hamilton demonstrated a preference for rich Northerners, as he only offered the stock through three banks, in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.  Also, opponents pointed to the fact that three-fourths of investors were foreign.  Thirty of the approximately 85 Congressmen bought shares.

Hamilton’s assistant Treasury Secretary, William Duer, could be called one of the nation’s first inside traders.  Philip Schuyler, who would become Hamilton’s father-in-law, had previously done business with Duer and had encouraged him to move from Antigua to New York.  Duer became an early friend when Hamilton immigrated to the continent.  But Duer turned out to be an inveterate gambler and stock speculator who was blamed for causing the Panic of 1892 through debt-backed stock speculation in First Bank of the United States stock. His method was to borrow heavily to make trades, hoping to sell at peak prices, but he ran out of cash and couldn’t make payments on his debts.  People panicked and started selling stock.  Hamilton then used the Treasury’s sinking fund to buy government securities anonymously, to stem the panic.

As a result of the crisis, to restore confidence, and to encourage people to start investing again, 24 stock brokers and merchants formed the New York Stock Exchange in May, 1792, by signing the so-called “Buttonwood Agreement,” under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street.  The signers agreed to trade only with each other, and to charge one-quarter percent commission on trades.  Available stock was limited to insurance companies, the Bank of New York, the First Bank of the United States, and Hamilton Bonds that Hamilton had decided to issue to pay Revolutionary War debt.

The United States has operated as a triumvirate of government, banking, and the stock market ever since.  The “Framers” of the Constitution were wealthy businessmen, planters, bankers, lawyers, and merchants, who designed a structure for exerting control over the population through laws and taxation.  While the Declaration of Independence set the states free, the Constitution bound them in economic slavery to a new taxing authority.  The links to the banking system and the New York Stock Exchange initiated the “public-private partnerships” that define the United States today.

If, in the 21st century the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer, it’s probably fair to say it was designed that way.  The Framers knew what they were doing.

 

*  The recent Broadway hit Hamilton is based on Chernow’s book, Alexander Hamilton, 2004.

Who are the Savages?

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This isn’t a book review about Savages, by Joe Kane, published in 1995.  This is an attempt at a synopsis, although such a meaty and universally relevant book is hard to encapsulate.

On the surface, it is a travelogue, depicting the author’s extended visit to the Amazon rain forest, where ancient meets modern in dramatic but understated violence.  In 1991, Kane, a journalist originally working for an environmental group in San Francisco, came across a plea for help from members of the “savage” Huaorani, indigenous clans of Ecuador, primitive jungle dwellers who live off the land and are known as fierce warriors who have never been conquered.

The mysterious letter claimed DuPont-owned Conoco was trying to destroy their land and way of life.  At issue was the massive development of oil fields in the Amazonian jungles by many oil companies, but especially by Conoco.  Maxus Energy Corporation, which was slated to develop “Maxus Block 16” on traditional Huaorani land, also becomes a major player in this book’s drama.

Author Kane wanted to discover for himself what the Huaorani were like and how they lived.  He writes about befriending tribal leaders/members, and hiring one of them, Enqueri, as a guide to Maxus Block 16, deep in tribal lands but slated for oil drilling and exploration, if the Huarani could be appeased. The story delves into the author’s encounters with other locals, the military, the oil company representatives, government officials, missionaries, environmentalists, and the land itself.

Savages becomes a personal story about the Huaorani, especially members Moi, Enqueri, Nanto, and others who are fighting for their land and traditional ways, but they are forced by inevitable change to adapt, each in his own way. Kane describes his first, danger-fraught trip by truck, canoe, and foot through the jungle, with nothing but a machete for defense, and virtually no clothes.

He provides entertaining but respectful cameos of the individuals and Huaorani settlements.  He emphasizes Huaoranis’ resourcefulness, their ability to go without food for days, to build leak-free shelters out of palms within minutes, and their bountiful good humor in the face of adversity.  Deemed savages by some, because of their reputation of vengeful killings of invaders, the Huaorani that Kane depict come across as lovable and kind, well adapted to the jungle but sadly naïve about the world beyond their territory.

Kane describes multiple instances in which his jungle-bred friends collapse in laughter.  They spend afternoons in communal bathing, playing and flirting.  Sharing food is a sublime act of generosity, because for them, it is feast or famine.  They adore their children.  The Huaorani can also stand motionless, without expression, for hours, observing everything.

The story offers adventure deep into the Amazon rain forest and shows its contrast with the new age of oil exploration and development by the generic “Company,” which includes Shell, Texaco, Conoco, and most egregious, Maxus Energy Corporation. The author reveals the horrific degradation of the land caused by the “Company.”  The Huaorani refer to all non-clan members as “cowode” or “cannibals” who have brought roads, pipelines, colonists, oil spills, overflowing toxic waste pits, oil in the streets, towering flames of natural gas, and the pervasive smells of petroleum.  The Company has clear-cut vast acreages of jungle.

The Company has led to poverty and disease like never before, but it has also brought gifts, jobs, and schools.  The missionaries have in some ways run interference between the Company and the local populations, but they have imposed their own agendas, and have convinced younger generations that tribal ways are evil.

Since 1970, the national debt of Ecuador has gone from $300 million to $35 billion, the opposite of what the oil extractors promised, yet the Ecuadorean government—like so many other governments—has played along and accepted enormous debt in the peoples’ name.  They have looked the other way as filth replaced natural wonders and pristine natural habitat.  As Ecuador sank ever deeper into debt, oil prices declined, and oil companies claimed costs were higher than expected. They assured the government that clean-ups were being handled and going well.

The trajectory of the book shows how the natives are killed or absorbed, killed by disease from infection, toxic waste, contaminated drinking water, malnutrition, and all manner of accidents.  The author specifically mentions malaria, polio, and tuberculosis, as well as fungal infections.  He also describes the toxic effects of crude oil and cleaning up oil spills for slave wages by hand.

But the gifts were seductive, and the jobs attracted those who wanted a more modern life.  Food like rice, salt, a kind of Kool-Aid, and lollipops, as well as tools, outboard motors and gas, began to creep into the jungle to take their places alongside the traditional manioc and monkey meat.  The Huaorani wanted schools and health care, which the missionaries and oil companies promised to provide.  Kane mentions the double-edged sword of literacy.  Children were taught by missionaries to read (the Bible), but not to write.

The story hasn’t ended, but the fate of this hitherto isolated culture seems destined to change, and to change dramatically.  At this point it doesn’t matter whether it’s right or wrong, because it’s too late.  Huaorani children are already forgetting the history of their clans, or they are being taught it was a “savage” one well left behind.

But, still, the book raises the disturbing question: “Who, after all, are the real savages?”

 

 

 

 

 

Taxing the Sun

The new 30% tariff on imported solar panels looks like a direct economic hit on the alternative energy industry, imposed by the dinosaur in the White House.  That the man is owned by the oil industry is becoming increasingly obvious.  First there was the okay to the final segments of the Keystone XL pipeline.  More recently, just about the entire coastline of the US has been offered for off-shore oil and gas drilling.  Our Secretary of State is former CEO of Exxon, and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency has spent much of his career fighting the EPA.

Now we have a 30% tariff on solar panels?  According to an Associated Press report, the tariff was sought by Suniva, Inc., which sought bankruptcy protection in April, and by the American subsidiary of Germany’s SolarWorld.  They claimed the 500 percent increase in imported solar panels over the past five years has led to a ruinous price collapse.  Nearly 30 American solar-manufacturing companies closed in that time.  They claimed big, bad China plotted to flood the global market with cheap products to weaken US manufacturing.  Apparently foreign companies manufacturing in the US are exempt from the tariff, but they now have more wiggle room to raise prices.

So the US President jumps in to stop China in its tracks, apparently, and to raise the price of solar panels for everyone.  But, as Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb, claimed, tariffs are a tax on consumers.  Moreover, a tax on imported solar panels will reduce choice and supply for everyone, forestall or delay installation, and constrict employment in the alternative energy field.

A tariff is defined as a tax or duty on a particular class of imports or exports.  It is claimed “protective tariffs” are intended to make domestic products more competitive.  Tariffs are not new in the US, with the first imposed in 1789. Since then, well over thirty acts affecting tariffs have been implemented.

The 1789 tariff, also called the Hamilton Tariff Act, was the second piece of legislation passed by the fledgling US Congress.  Two years later, excise taxes on whiskey, run, snuff, and refined sugar were initiated.  The purpose of both types of taxes, according to the first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, was to pay Revolutionary war debt, allow the government to function, redeem at full value federal debts, and pay the debts of states.

President George Washington made protective tariffs a national security issue.  In his 1790 State of the Union address, he claimed protective tariffs, especially for military supplies, was crucial for US independence.

Between that time and 1860, tariffs and excise taxes comprised 80-95%. of federal income.  The amounts of each varied.  Thomas Jefferson abolished the whiskey tax, but it was re-instituted in 1812.  When national debt was paid off in 1834, Andrew Jackson abolished most excise taxes and halved tariffs.  By this time tariffs had become a major political issue, especially following the tariff of 1828, the so called “Tariff of Abominations,” which imposed a 38% tax on 92% of imported goods.  Most tariffs were instituted to protect domestic industry, favored by Whigs (which later became Republicans), who were mostly Northeastern industrialists and industrial wage earners.  Southern Democrats strongly opposed tariffs.  In the South, tariffs raised prices for every household and also made it harder for the British textile manufacturers to buy their cotton. Some historians believe the cause of secession was not slavery but tariffs.

The Republican platform of 1860 favored higher tariffs. Abraham Lincoln made tariff increases one of his priorities. The Morrill Tariff passed in 1861, after seven Southern states had seceded and their Congressmen had resigned.  The Morrill Act raised tariffs from 17% overall and 28% on dutiable items to 26% overall and 36% on dutiable items, but it wasn’t enough to feed the government and the approaching war, so a second tariff bill later that summer raised tariffs another 10%.  Lincoln also instituted the first income tax in the US, under the “Revenue Act of 1861,” but it was repealed ten years later.

After the Civil War, tariffs fluctuated mildly but remained, with excise taxes, the main source of federal funding until 1913.  This was the year the income tax went into effect.

Since 1913, most of federal income comes from individual income taxes, payroll taxes (later), and corporate income taxes, with 41% coming from individual income taxes.  Excise taxes apply to “luxury” items, like tobacco, alcohol, and gambling, but also to telephone and utilities, among other things.  Excise taxes comprise about 3.8 percent of federal income.  Tariffs now constitute only about 1.7% of government revenues, $30 billion in 2012.

Far from being a supporter of free trade, the US has 12,000 specific tariffs on imports.  Tariffs on imported tobacco products are the highest and can run up to 350%.  Peanut tariffs that date back to 1933 run from 131.8% for shelled peanuts to 163.8% for unshelled peanuts.  New Balance shoes enjoys a 48% tariff on foreign sneakers like Nike and Adidas.  There’s a 40% tariff on Japanese leather.  We pay a 100% tariff on European meats, truffles, and Roquefort cheese, just to name a few.

It is arguable whether tariffs protect domestic industry, or benefit a country’s economy, especially if they start trade wars with other governments.  In the case of the solar industry, the added cost to imported solar panels may be prohibitive for large-scale projects that could employ large numbers of people.  It looks like a protective tariff, not for domestic solar panel manufacturers, but for the oil industry.  But the good news is that the solar industry is thriving, considering the 500 percent increase in imports over the past five years.  No wonder the oil companies are threatened.

Skull & Bones

August 19, 2017
I love my journal.  It’s the best therapist imaginable, free, doesn’t interrupt, argue, talk back, gossip, nag, or second-guess.  If more people kept journals, the world would be a saner place.

Ten years ago this month, when George W. Bush was still president, I purchased a “Collectors’ Edition” of the US News and World Report on “Secret Societies.”  The following journal entry was my take on “Skull & Bones,” the Yale club that claims the Georges Bush as members, among other famous power-brokers

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Sunday, August 26, 2007
katharineotto.wordpress.com
writerbeat.com

I bought a “Collector’s Edition” of the US News and World Report.  “Mysteries of History–Secret Societies.”  It has articles on the Masons, Rosicrucians, Skull & Bones, and numerous others.

Skull & Bones, the secret society at Yale that boasts multiple notable members– including George W. Bush and his father, George H. W. Bush–interests me only because it is an excellent example of a Good Ole Boy clique.  The article gives fuzzy details but for this:  Skull & Bones “puts its members through some strange activities and centers its program around ideas of death, power, and devotion to a goddess.  The influence of Skull & Bones is particularly noticeable in the area of public service, although it does no community service.”

I figure the public service is all done with other people’s money.  This is the plutocracy.  I wonder which goddess, or did they invent their own?  Is this some kind of Satanic cult American taxpayers have elected?  Is this the anti-Christ we’ve been waiting for?  Bush does walk around with a dazed look, as if he is figuring out he’s being perceived as the anti-Christ and doesn’t quite know how to play the role.

A skull and bones is the symbol for poison, so why would anyone choose to associate with a group that brags about being poisonous?  The flag that pirates carried?  I embrace life, not death.

Also, “Bones has each candidate recite his or her [?] sexual history right off the bat (September of his senior year).  By forcing them to share their most intimate confidences with each other, Skull & Bones binds its members together.”  Sounds like a cult of perverts, as well.  How does anyone know if they’re telling the truth?  Anybody ever refuse to join?

But America elected Bush, as well as others of this cult’s members.

What amazes me most is that anyone takes them seriously.  If this is what they’re learning at Yale, I withdraw my taxpayer contribution to education.

Secrecy is shame and shame secrecy.

The concept of Skull & Bones representing poison bears closer scrutiny.  My issues with public policy are strongly domestic:  The mis-management on the home turf, with poisons being pushed on people’s bodies and into the planetary ecosystem in massive quantities . . .

A more interesting article was about the Illuminati, an organization that may or may not exist, kept alive by belief that it does and that Jews are behind it.  Whether it exists is irrelevant to me.  The world is dominated by people who think they are smarter than everyone else, including each other, as current events show.  If they want to reassure each other that they are illuminated, just because they want it to be true, fine with me.  Just don’t expect me to pay for it.

Now Skull & Bones makes a big deal of public service with other people’s money, in true Plutonian style.

I would really like to know which goddess they pray to.  No wonder public policy feels like a gangbang.  Not enough women to go around.

I suspect they are all homosexuals and pedophiles, anyway.  Maybe the goddess they pray to is the one who can give them erections.  Someone more exciting than little boys.

skullbonesshield0807

Their symbolism is interesting.  They adapt several masonic symbols having to do with building.   There are three “5”s in a triangle on their shield, which is a coffin.

They have west facing up – sunset – a 90-degree counter-clockwise shift of the south pole in a horoscope.

So that’s what we’re seeing on the world stage:  a group of self-proclaimed world leaders intentionally leading the world into self-destruction.  It makes no sense to me.

These people think they are smart?