Tag Archives: Donald Trump

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?

 

To Fight or to Win?

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Squire (left) and Speckles sparring through the gate, 2015

I wonder if some people just like to fight.  I don’t like it but grew up thinking it was necessary.  I don’t like competition of any kind, including competitive sports or games, but I live in a country where it’s anathema to admit it.

I’m an avoider who is more inclined to get caught up in other people’s battles.  Like the Greek god Chiron, the wounded healer, I’m the innocent bystander who gets injured by a mis-aimed arrow.  I don’t understand the purpose of martyrdom.  Did Jesus help anyone by dying on the cross?

My roosters like to fight, so I have to keep them apart.  They spar through the gate and attack the hardware cloth that keeps them from doing real damage to each other.  But I’m the one who suffers most if either of them gets hurt.  Son Speckles blinded father Squire in one eye before he knocked off his own spurs several years ago.  Now Squire has torn off his own back toenail and his toe may be broken.

Over the years, both have mellowed, and I wonder if either of them really wants to win.  If something happened to either of them, I believe the other would sorely miss the adrenalin rush they generate in each other.

I’ve worked with Vietnam veterans who complained of flashbacks and nightmares from combat duty.  After Vietnam, life in the United States seemed bland in comparison.  Some admitted to being “adrenalin junkies.”  Another man claimed to like being angry.  Is this the attraction of contact sports like football, or the intensity of war?  The emotional intensity of presumably “masculine” activities?

Our current US culture seems bent on fighting, arguing, opposing and otherwise disagreeing about everything from the climate to sexuality, but I wonder if there’s any purpose to it, except to fight.  Does anyone really expect to win, and if so, what would be resolved?

I recently read the book Fear:  Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, about the Trump campaign and presidency so far.  The book’s title is based on a Trump quote, “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear,” from an interview with the author.  Essentially, the book says nothing new but it helps straighten out all the names and roles played by those close to the current administration.

The other night I finished reading a biography of Andrew Carnegie, an 800-page tome by David Nasaw, published in 2006.  Carnegie, who lived from 1835 to 1919, was a self-made multi-millionaire who was brutally competitive in his businesses but vowed to dispose of all his money to worthy causes before he died.  In his later years he became almost obsessed with the idea of world peace though arbitration.  However, a sizable portion of his wealth had been derived from government contracts to manufacture steel plates for battleships.  Later, his idea for a League of Peace may have inspired the League of Nations and later the United Nations.  He thought war barbaric, was outspoken in his views and used his wealth and fame to give unsolicited advice to presidents Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson, as well as German Kaiser Wilhelm II, and notables in the British government.  He feared the arms race between the UK and Germany as early as 1905, beginning with the British Dreadnaught and other monster battleships, but could not establish traction for his ideas regarding universal disarmament or arbitration.  It appears the outbreak of World War I broke him, and he—a vociferous showman—went silent for almost four years.

Nasaw says that Carnegie was given to hero worship, and Theodore Roosevelt was his assigned disciple of peace, despite evidence.  History shows that Roosevelt was an imperialist and war hawk, who rode to glory in the Spanish-American War; as president he seized the land that became Panama through instigating insurgents against Columbia; and he volunteered for World War I when the US entered, although he was deemed too old at the time.  Roosevelt referred to “righteous wars,” and Carnegie replied that all warring individuals and nations believe their particular cause is “righteous.”

The current US President, Donald Trump, campaigned on the several issues regarding war, suggesting the US withdraw from Afghanistan, among other things, according to the book Fear.  However, he is surrounded by hawkish military advisers who apparently have convinced him to stay the course, at least for now.  He has received praise and criticism for his contentious approach to friends and foes alike.  His provocative demeanor invites retaliation from all those “righteous” warriors throughout the world.

There are those who believe refusing to fight indicates weakness or cowardliness, but history shows that fighting fire with fire only makes bigger fires.  Does anyone win in a war?  In Lincoln’s war, Carnegie was among those, like JP Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, who hired substitutes to fight for them, and they got rich off the war.  Who else benefited?  The slaves were freed, but slavery was already dying out, if Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln is to be believed.  DiLorenzo claims Lincoln wanted a war. Lincoln may have won the war, but he lost his life.  Some people would rather fight than win.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The View from Below

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I shoveled the dock steps the other day.  This was part of my latest health initiative, with the purpose of swimming in the river.

Now, most people don’t have a dock or concrete steps to a polluted river where they can swim.  Most people haven’t grown up on said river and watched it change gradually over the past 60 or so years.  It is a blessing and a curse.

While doing this mundane labor, which with clean-up took about two hours, I had time to ponder many worldwide concerns.  First, I listened to the constant buzz of helicopters at Hunter Army Airfield, only a couple of miles–as the helicopter flies–from my house.  There were also military aircraft flying overhead, as I live only 28 degrees off Hunter’s flight paths, and those planes fly low, low, low over my head. This reminded me that the US is engaged in perpetual wars, and I live in a war zone, what with the strong military presence loud, clear, and constant.

Next, I thought about the Clean Water Act of 1972, when the Army Corps of Engineers got jurisdiction over all “wetlands” including the “hydrophytic” marsh that surrounds my small spit of land.  I wondered if the AC of E would fine me for taking mud off the steps and depositing it in the center of my land, which is mine but not mine in that I pay property taxes but can’t modify it.  This spit of land has been sliding into the river for years and now becomes flooded in spring and fall tides.  The channels in the area are also filling in, because no one dredges them anymore, even though the drainage ditches are perpetually clogged and contribute to frequent, severe flooding in Savannah.

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The local movers and shakers would prefer to dump poisonous malathion by helicopter on the entire ecosystem than drain the bogs where mosquitoes breed. That the Army Corps of Engineers pays Chatham County to control mosquitoes, yet operates the largest mosquito habitat in two states does not seem important to anyone but me.  That the dredge material from current harbor deepening project will increase the mosquito habitat at this international port presents no red flags to those who are developing vaccines for mosquito-borne disease but are blithely nonchalant about the cushy habitat they are creating.

This brings me home to the polluted river, which still has fish and shrimp, but not as many as in my childhood.  I figure if fish can swim in it, so can I.  I’ve been stomping around, crabbing, shrimping, boating, water skiing, and swimming in that water since I can remember, so know it well.  While shoveling, I thought about “climate change,” and the claim that the oceans are rising.  I also remembered reading about how land is washing into the oceans and wondered if the oceanic rise is relative to the land’s sinking, in a leveling out that would lead to the oceans’ getting shallower. Shallow water heats more quickly than deep water, as any swimmer knows, and holds more heat, so this could explain some of the climatic changes.

So then I thought about President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord and wondered whether it makes any difference in the long run.  I’ve never been a fan of government solutions to government-supported problems, like the fact that deforestation is a major contributor to climate change.  I don’t believe in paying corporations not to cut trees (as in “carbon credits”) and would prefer instead to reduce demand for paper, like junk mail and single-use packaging.  International Paper, the owner of primo rain forest in South America, and a huge polluter of the Savannah River and air, does not recycle paper.

That got me to thinking about the enormous amount of methane produced by the marsh, the fact that methane and natural gas are the same thing, and that Germany is the world’s leader in recycling (70%).  In addition, Germany has to import garbage to fuel its waste-to-energy plants that provide so much of its heat and electricity. There is also new technology to capture methane produced by landfill, but the US lags behind places like China in its adoption of these promising technologies.  No wonder Angela Merkel was frustrated by Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Germany is the world leader in sustainability, and should be so acknowledged.

So, Donald Trump may believe coal gives the US a financial advantage, but this is short-sighted.  Apparently China is the largest purchaser of US coal exports, but China built 431 waste-to-energy plants in 2016, so it may not need our coal much longer.  With the reduced cost of solar, India is also going greener.  China is the biggest carbon-emission nation in the world, and the US is second.  Russia is third, and India fourth, according to Google 2011 data.  Americans probably generate the most waste, though, 4.5 pounds of garbage per person per day, and recycling has decreased, now down to about 30 percent.

So, while I solved my personal problem of how to swim without getting mud between my toes and oyster shell cuts on my feet, I also solved a lot of world problems, and I never had to leave home.