Tag Archives: politics

US Constitution, Article 2, Section 1

capitol

The capitol city had not been built when the US Constitution was signed in Philadelphia September 17, 1787, but this is the most relevant photo I have.

For those who have not read the US Constitution recently, I’d like to quote the 5th paragraph of Article 2, Section 1, which delineates the necessary qualifications for the President of the United States.

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

I interpret this to mean that the “natural born citizen” qualification was specifically intended to keep Alexander Hamilton out (as the writerswithoutmoney bloggers have noted), but after that, it was an open field for those 35 or older, who had lived here at least 14 years.  But I’m not a lawyer.

Article 3, Section 1, defining the Supreme Court, is even more vague:  “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.  The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”

In other words, there are absolutely no Constitutional requirements for Supreme Court justices, no specified number, and the appointment for life is not written in the Constitution.  This means that the last word on every law in the United States rests on the power of nine unelected but appointed individuals who are notorious for 5-4 splits.

This is not a “democracy.”  It is not a “republic.”  It is an economic engine driven by the “Framers”  and funded by a continent of previously untapped natural resources that they needed taxpayers to exploit.

While ObamaCare is blamed on or credited to Democrats, let’s not forget that the Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote.  He weaseled around to the personal insurance mandate by calling it a “tax,” thereby effectively passing the world’s first tax on breathing.

Citizens who are willing to put up with this deserve to be slaves.

 

Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism

 

bksreichsupcap2007

Supercapitalism:  The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life, Robert Reich, 2007

December, 2015–I read Robert Reich’s Supercapitalism:  The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life, just after it was published in 2007, and posted the following commentary on my now defunct website in October of that year.  That was the month the “Great Recession” began, so the review, from a 2015 perspective, seems prophetic, given subsequent events.

I followed my own advice to abandon Wall Street for Main Street in January, 2008, after the value of my stock portfolio plunged below mortgage debt.  I used the money to pay down that debt and then devoted every available penny to become completely debt-free.

The following commentary links freedom, democracy, and capitalism by seeking to re-define “capitalism” as we know it.  Milton Friedman, in Capitalism and Freedom (1962) and Ayn Rand in Capitalism:  The Unknown Ideal (1967) both referred to “human capital,” but neither seemed to give “human capital” sufficient status.  I’m presenting my commentary here in its original form, posted when George Bush was still president, to remind readers of where we stood then and how events have grown from seeds sowed long ago.

Supercapitalism’s Crystal Ball Shatters:  The Future Has Arrived
October, 2007

Supercapitalism, by Robert Reich, shows the landscape of the enemy’s mind, and it is lifeless monotony.  Former President Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor trounces capitalism without bothering to define it, yet it’s clear he doesn’t understand the term.  This fatal omission turns the book’s intent upside down to make it a strong example in favor of the “democratic capitalism” he claims is dead.

Freedom, democracy, and capitalism are interrelated qualities only individuals can own or control.  The term “capitalism” has been assigned to those who would harness and control human capital, imperialists who know human capital is the only viable capital.  All other capital is derived from human effort or desire.

I make a career of using the wealth between my ears, my caput – the Latin word for “head” – to work for me.  Supercapitalism shows how amalgamated heads under corporate or government superstructures reduce thinking to the lowest common denominator.  No individual is responsible for the outcome.  That’s supercapitalism.

The word “capitalism” means using your head to generate income, to “capitalize” on available resources. In a truly capitalistic society, tax law would favor individual entrepreneurs and those who can be self-sufficient and perhaps hire and train others.

Human capital respects human dignity and works to create an expanding network of like-minded individuals.  Life is free.  You own your body and your mind. They are your most valuable assets.  No one can live your life but you, and you don’t have to sleep with anyone but yourself.  If you strive to make your life a work of art, and can earn a living doing it, you’ll have only yourself to thank.

In a genuine democracy—which has never really existed–the individual has all the rights, and the corporate structure has none.  Human capital, the only viable capital, assumes priority status, and gives credit where credit is due.  Capitalism within a democracy perpetually renews the individual’s vital self-directed role as a functioning member of a larger culture.

But if you are Mr. Reich, “democratic capitalism” has given way to the “supercapitalism” of “global supply chains.”  Get over it, he tells American customer-voter-citizen-taxpayers.  The supercapitalists are corporations, profit-making contractual arrangements, which have no obligation or responsibility to anyone except their shareholders.  Corporations are inhuman, and they have triumphed over you. They will not be curbed without more government, but politicians are crooked, too.  Nor can you trust the do-gooders, who also benefit from supercapitalism.  That’s progress.

Admittedly, we have social problems, Reich says.  We’re poisoning ourselves out of existence.  Natural resources, manufacturing, and jobs are leaving the country as fast as the supercapitalists can sell us out, but that’s not supercapitalism’s fault.  Supercapitalists are only responsible to the bottom line, and shame on you if you expect otherwise.

Reich doesn’t trace the source of “supercapitalism,” but consider these historical facts:  In 1910 an elite group of bankers, industrialists, and politicians, including investment banker J. Pierpont Morgan and Rhode Island Senator Nelson Aldrich, met secretly on Jekyll Island, Georgia, to engineer the creation of a central bank.  There they crafted the initial version of the Federal Reserve Act, which became law in 1913, and created a debt-backed currency, controlled by private bankers.

According to None Dare Call it Conspiracy, by Gary Allen (1971), “German born international financier Paul Warburg masterminded establishment of the Federal Reserve to put control of the international economy in hands of international bankers.  The Federal Reserve controls the money supply, which allows manipulators to create alternate cycles of boom and bust, i.e., a roller coaster economy.  This allows those in the know to make fabulous amounts of money, but even more important allows the Insiders to control the economy and further centralize the federal government.” p 65.

The income tax, also passed in 1913, guaranteed that American taxpayer income would pay perpetual interest on government borrowing. These two actions created the monster we now see as “supercapitalism,” economic slavery of debt-ridden America to the banks, industrialists, politicians, and their designated favorites.

This system requires ever-increasing debt to prop up the money’s presumed value, but Americans are maxed out on credit.  The banks have stretched the rules to make borrowing easier.  The Fed is fiddling with interest rates to insure its economic health, but the loans are backfiring, and the banks are stuck with tangible, costly assets that they can’t easily unload.   Even the “global supply chain” can’t make it cost-effective to export a piece of real estate to Japan, but electronic money is easily disbursed around the world at the flick of a keystroke.  If money is the bank’s only product, that money better be backed by something of real value, or the bank loses its relevance, and the global supply chain crumbles into a pile of broken links. This is the supercapitalist dilemma.

If Americans aren’t working, spending, and paying taxes, government income can’t keep up with obligations. It can’t repay the loans, or even interest on the loans.  The “consumers” aren’t consuming enough.  Bottom lines have suffered.

Former President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of  Labor touts Clinton solutions.  Under his scenario, government has the answer to everything.  More laws, more regulation, more oversight, more paperwork, more money. . . this is the Clinton team answer, but it does nothing to repair the sidewalks in Savannah.

But of course Clinton is no longer the worst president in American history.  Bush is the next logical progression in the supercapitalists’ slave trader tradition.  Unfortunately, “consumers” are overstuffed and have lost their appetites.  They are fed up.  The supercapitalists might have to start earning their income.  Their seemingly unlimited stable of revenue-producing taxpayers isn’t performing up to economists’ predictions. The money churners on Wall Street and the asset plunderers in Washington are lost in the never-never-land of money backed only by money, and nobody knows where the value went.

Reich talks about “consumer buying power.”  What you have, Joe and Josie Taxpayer, is “withholding power.”  Note the crammed retail shelves and store aisles.  Bad choices abound, as the products worth buying slyly disappear, only to re-appear later with new price and packaging. Hardly worth the walk from the parking lot, or the time spent in the check-out line. Bottom line is they can’t move all that cheap plastic junk made by slave labor in China, and overhead is tightening the designer nooses around their supercapitalist necks.

The term “consumer” insults “customers” and reveals the anachronistic, aristocratic mentality at the core of supercapitalist thinking. This seduces the individual customer-voter-citizen-taxpayer into believing she is receiver rather than giver of charity to government and industry, yet both depend on “customer” income for survival.

But, all taxes fall disproportionately on those who can least afford them.  These individuals—who pay the largest share of disposable income in taxes–suffer first and most severely if the delegated power is abused.

That’s why we should abolish corporate income taxes, Reich says on page 216 of his 225 page book.  Let those profits flow through to shareholders, who are individuals. He claims the corporate income tax rate is higher than what low-income shareholders would pay if it were reported as personal income instead.  He claims lower income shareholders and company employees are unfairly taxed by the current arrangement.

Reich neglects to mention that the megacorporate supercapitalists, inhuman as they are, leave giant footprints on the communities they trample.  The corporate income tax is a token acknowledgment of their superhuman presence within the environment and on the local infrastructure.  The bipartisan, concerted move to abolish corporate income taxes reveals the supercapitalists’ latest ploy to shift costs to neighbor-customer-citizen-voter-taxpayers, better to pad bottom lines and pretend they deliver more than they cost.

Large corporations thus export money and resources out of town while local communities bear the costs.  The small business person, the entrepreneur, is the capitalist who does not depend on government help, yet suffers more than anyone from the political favoritism granted through corporate contractual agreements.  The supercapitalist’s greatest competitor is the genuine capitalist, the individual, who is free to use her head to negotiate her way through local markets, the stock market, and life, whether as seller or buyer, giver or receiver.

In supercapitalist jargon, customer-voter-citizen-taxpayers are not free thinking individuals.  We are “consumers,” “covered lives,” “special-interest groups,” “minorities,” “the elderly,” “the poor,” identities encoded in numbers that can be stolen without a gun, and, by the way, the source of all the supercapitalists’ revenue, whether through product purchases or taxes.  Shareholders are also customer-voter-citizen-taxpayers, and as individuals and capitalists, they are free to buy or sell their stock at any time.

Our society exploits human capital and degrades itself by not appreciating the rich variety of its human talent.  Human capital can’t be owned, but it can be manipulated and controlled through force and deceit.  These tactics eventually fail, because they engender passive aggression and passive resistance that ultimately undermine the predator, to no one’s benefit.  This sadomasochistic dance is the enemy of capitalism, because no one profits in a power struggle.

“Consumer spending” accounts for two thirds of US revenues, and as “consumer spending” decreases, so do tax revenues, an unfortunate, unintended consequence of putting everybody out of work or on the public dole.

My take-home message from Supercapitalism, the bottom line, is this:  The so-called supercapitalists have painted themselves into a corner, and they are desperate. They couldn’t have grown to their current size without significant government help, at the expense of the customer-taxpayers who finance both sides.  But legislation and tax law favor large over small, and the group over the individual. This heavily weighted advantage is the opposite of capitalism, freedom, fair trade, and democracy.

The easiest way to shrink the supercapitalists’ overinflated self worth is to work less, earn less, consume less, spend less, drive less, waste less, want less, and pay less in taxes.  I could repair the sidewalks myself for what I pay in taxes, and if I quit working, I might have the time.

The “customer” is always right. Joe and Josie Taxpayer have the right not to spend, the right not to pay for products shoved down their throats.  Get out of debt.  Interest payments do not give value for money.  Do you think the international investment bankers—the most superior of supercapitalists—want you discovering you have better uses for your money than debt-plus-interest payments?  You think the government wants you to shrink it to a manageable level?  You, Joe and Josie Taxpayer, are the genuine capitalists in America. Your minds are more vital than any supercapitalist contractual agreement. Life is free.  It’s your choice how you spend it.

 

Book Commentary: End the Fed

bkspaulfed2009by katharineotto.wordpress.com:  At the national Libertarian convention in 2004, I blocked the exit and forced then US Congressman Ron Paul to meet me and shake my hand.

In 2008, when he was again campaigning for president, I wrote him and Ralph Nader, and asked them to run together for president and vice-president respectively.  Each has a history of breaking precedent, so I figured they could pull it off.

In 2009, I read End the Fed, and wrote the following book commentary and review.  Yesterday, I caught part of a live interview with Dr. Paul, in which he warned of a coming financial crisis.  While I agree with his assessment about the present situation, I believe the future needn’t be as dark as he fears.

The nation’s debt is unsustainable, and those dependent on the government stand to lose the most if the US declares bankruptcy.  That includes the elderly and the indigent, but it also includes all government employees, retirees, elected and appointed government officials, all the federal bureaucracies, the military, and government contractors.  That’s why Congress is so heavily invested in raising the “debt ceiling” until after the 2016 presidential elections.

We must remember that all of these people have generous benefits and retirement plans invested on Wall Street, in Treasuries, and in other places “too big to fail.”  Unfortunately for Wall Street and the federal government, the Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, withdrawing money from Wall Street as well as beginning Social Security, two huge money drains on the federal coffers.

Step number one to protecting yourself against loss is to get out of debt.  There is a move to abandon Wall Street for Main Street, where you have more control.  Dr. Paul’s concept of free coinage is good, as is the notion of returning to the stable gold standard.

And with that, I offer the 2009 review of a book that remains current.

End the Fed

by Ron Paul, 2009
Book Commentary by Katharine C. Otto
Written November, 2009

US Congressman Ron Paul’s latest book, End the Fed, raises more questions than it answers, but they are questions every taxpayer needs to ask. The representative from Texas’ 14th district, Dr. Paul, an obstetrician and gynecologist, has long advocated sound money and the gold standard.  This year, he has spearheaded a move in Congress  to audit the Federal Reserve (Federal ReserveTransparency Act, HR 1207).  The bill is now co-sponsored by over 300 members of the House of Representatives.

End the Fed is a personal account of Representative Paul’s interest and track record in economics and monetary policy.  He tells us his decision to enter politics was inspired on August 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon defaulted on the US pledge to exchange gold for $35 per ounce from foreign governments.  “This was the third broken promise by our government regarding gold backing to our dollar.  Lincoln did it in the Civil War, and FDR did it in 1933 when he confiscated gold from the American people and made it illegal for American citizens to own gold.  Roosevelt took the gold at $20 an ounce and promptly revalued it at $35.  The citizens lost, the government profited.” (p. 45).

Dr. Paul hoped a seat in Congress would provide a forum for examining and helping to restructure the United States’ economic policies.

Simply and concisely written, End the Fed starts with a brief overview of the Fed’s creation, ostensibly to provide for “elastic” money through “fractional-reserve banking, the notion that depositors’ money currently in use as cash may also be loaned out for speculative projects and then redeposited.  The system works so long as people do not attempt to withdraw all their money at once.” (p 15)

He claims the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 is unconstitutional and immoral. It shifts wealth from the poor and middle-class to the privileged and favored few.  It debases the currency by allowing the Fed to expand the money supply without limit.  This has led to relentless inflation, boom-and-bust business cycles, vast expansion of the federal government, and perpetual war, all at the expense of taxpayers whose buying power is reduced while their taxes go up.

End the Fed gives a short history of banking in the US, the role of central banks, and the rationale behind Paul’s call for a return to the gold standard.  He says the Fed creates money out of thin air, but he doesn’t go into the method of doing this.  In this sense, the book oversimplifies in favor of readability.  (A more thorough explanation of the Fed’s creation and methods, as well as banking in general, is contained in The Creature from Jekyll Island:  A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, by G. Edward Griffin, 1994, realityzone.com.)

Born in 1935, Congressman Paul says he started working in his family dairy business at the age of five, checking milk bottles for cleanliness.  He remembers the tail end of the Depression and World War II rationing.  He developed an early interest in coin collecting that evolved into a fascination with economics.  He tells us he was heavily influenced by the Austrian school of economics, primarily Ludwig von Mises.  He also cites F. A. Hayek of The Road to Serfdom fame, and several other Libertarian-minded thinkers. He gives an account of his experience in Congress, pertinent committees and legislation, and conversations with current and former Fed chairmen Ben Bernanke and Allan Greenspan.

Although the book makes no attempt to delve into the intricacies of economics, or the methods by which the Fed has been able to create our current Ponzi dollar—he calls it a Ponzi scheme—Ron Paul has provided a highly readable insider’s view of the devastation wrought by the Federal Reserve Act and the departure from the gold standard.  He ends the book by suggesting several possible and relatively painless ways to restore integrity to our monetary system.

The book’s title came from a University of Michigan student-initiated chant, “End the Fed!” during a presidential campaign tour in October, 2007. The author ends by saying, “Freedom and central banking are incompatible.  It is freedom we seek, and when that precious goal is achieved, the chant ‘End the Fed!’ will become a reality.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sell the TV and Read

If I am opinionated, these are my teachers.

If I am opinionated, these are my teachers.

katharineotto’s recommended reading so far

October 10, 2015–CURRENT READFDR, Jean Edward Smith, 2007

Independent Study of Literature, History, Culture, Medicine, Economics, Politics, and Philosophy
As of October, 2015

History, Economics, and Politics

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson and committee

United States Constitution, ratified in 1788-1790 by 13 states. Many authors.

The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, 1776

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, 1771-1790

The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson, 1821

Washington: The Indispensible Man, James Thomas Flexner, 1969, 1973, 1974

Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow, 2004

Thomas Jefferson: A Life, William Sterne Randall, 1993

The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an

Unnecessary War, by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, 2002, 2003

A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, Howard Zinn, 1980-2003

The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve,

G. Edward Griffin, 1994-2007 (realityzone.com)

The Robber Barons, Matthew Josephson, 1934, 1962

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, 2004

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, A collection of essays by Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan,

Nathaniel Branden, and Robert Hessen, 1946-1967

Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman, 1962, 1982, and 2002

Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis,

William Bonner and Addison Wiggin, 2006

None Dare Call It Conspiracy, Gary Allen, with Larry Abraham, 1971

A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America’s Destiny, Patrick J. Buchanan, 1999

Why Government Doesn’t Work, Harry Browne, 1995

The Fair Tax Book, Neal Boortz and US Rep John Linder (R-GA) (Not.)

Supercapitalism, Robert B. Reich, 2007

The Waste Makers, Vance Packard, 1960

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Jimmy Carter, 2006

Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas, Ken Foskett, 2004

The Water Lords: Ralph Nader’s Study Group Report on Industry and

Environmental Crisis in Savannah, Georgia, James M. Fallows, 1971

Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, Susan Freinkel, 2011

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent,

Eduardo Galeano, 1973, 1997

Cuba: A New History, Richard Gott, 2004

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, Jung Chang, 1991

The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli, written 1513, published 1532

Medicine

Overdo$ed America, John Abramson, MD, 2004

The Truth About the Drug Companies: How they Deceive Us and What to Do About It,

Marcia Angell, MD, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of

Medicine, 2004, 2005

Philosophy and Memoirs

My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell, 1956

Cheaper by the Dozen, Frank. B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, 1948, 2002

Tales From the Time Loop, David Icke, 2003

Rats, Lice and History: The Biography of a Bacillus, A Bacteriologist’s Classic Study of    a World Scourge, Hans Zinsser, 1934

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond, 2005

A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut, 2005

Walden, Henry David Thoreau, 1854

Fiction 

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

The Lost World, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1912

Life of Pi, Yann Martel, 2002

The Kitchen God’s Wife, Amy Tan, 1991

Empire Falls, Richard Russo, 2001

Moby Dick, Herman Melville, 1851

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1947

Uhuru, A Novel of Africa Today, Robert Ruark, 1962

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith, 1943

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, 1906

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, 1937

The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1868-1869

1984, George Orwell, 1949

Animal Farm, George Orwell, 1946

Oil!, Upton Sinclair, 1926

All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren, 1946

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

The Octopus, Frank Norris, 1901

The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck, 1931

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, 1952

Remembrance Rock, Carl Sandburg, 1948

The Island of Dr. Moreau, HG Wells, 1896

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953

Paradigms

Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions, Edwin A. Abbott, 1884

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl, 1959

The Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra, 1975

The “Unknown” Reality, Jane Roberts (A Seth Book), 1979

Put your taxes to work. Use your public library.

Begging Me to Run for President

Introduction by Kaka Big Chicken:  The media is crowing over the upcoming presidential elections, over a year in advance of The Event.  My perennial choice, “None of the Above,” is never on the ballot.  However, the federal government seems to be imploding, with no help from me, having borrowed against the future until beyond the time the sun burns out.

Speckles crowing

Speckles crowing

BEGGING ME TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT
by Katharine C. Otto
March, 2010

I was fantasizing about being begged to run for president.

“No way would I take a government job,” I would say.

“That’s why we want you,” people would respond. “You would downsize government.”

“Eliminate the presidency, then. That would downsize it in a hurry.”

“We need you to do that.”

“OK. I tell you what. No government benefits. I’ll work as an independent contractor. I’ll need about $25,000/year for my use and double that for the vampire that bleeds me in taxes. So, I’ll need about $50,000 the first year, until I abolish the Fed. That should cancel out the national debt, so we won’t need income taxes anymore. The second year, I’ll only need about $25,000 for personal use, so we’ll save money there.

“My second year, I’ll abolish all drug and alcohol laws, so we’ll no longer need the CIA, ATF, FBI, DEA, FDA, CMS, CDC, USDA, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, or the TSA. Then I’ll wait for the private sector to absorb the former government employees.

“My third year, I’ll abolish Congress, the rest of the federal agencies, all government employee and pension programs, and Wall Street.

“My fourth year, I’ll abolish the Supreme Court and cancel all government contracts. Then I’ll resign, because I can’t run the country by myself.

“Either side can terminate with 30 days’ notice, for any reason. The 30 days would give me time to move my stuff out of the White House, so I would not be expected to work as President during that time.

”So these are my terms,” I would say, “and if there’s anything illegal about that, have the US Supreme Court and Congress and whoever is president now change the law so I can run on my own terms.”

“Would you do that for us?” they might ask.

“No way,” I would reply. “Frankly, I think it’s a waste of time, because those dorks can’t agree on anything. Why should I do their job if I’m not getting paid for it? I don’t want this job, remember? You want me to downsize government, so we need to find these clowns work in the private sector so they won’t continue to tax taxpayers.

“Nothing against them, you understand, but I don’t believe paying people to boss me around, or in having more stuff than I need. I have all the assets I can handle, and I just want to coast awhile.”

My Opinion on Guns

Introduction:

Guns and gun laws are hot topics these days, especially among the seniors citizens at the political discussion group I attend.  We have the gun advocates and the gun law advocates.  Nobody there wants to hear My Opinion, so I’m posting it here.  I’ve found My Opinion is more popular among the half-our-age generation than in My Cohort, which is living on Social Security and stock/bond investments, thus heavily invested in keeping the federal government and Wall Street afloat.  At the moment, I’m one of the younger members of the group, but listening to the squabbles is aging me quickly.

I wrote the following piece in 2008, but My Opinion has changed little since then.  Please note that it is political satire.  I do not really believe in castration for gun-toting criminals.

ON GUNS

A group of retired combat vets stood around the flea market awhile back, bragging about their guns. They turned to the Constitution’s second amendment, gun control laws, licensing, and the use of guns for self-defense.

I say I’m more afraid of gun laws than guns. Laws put all the legal weapons in the hands of the military and police. The laws create outlaws, raise the black market price for munitions manufacturers, burglars, and anyone who feels the need. So gun laws multiply chances that a bullet will fly my way.

Later, I recalled the two cases in my life when someone assaulted me. Both times, a gun would have been more dangerous for me than them. Without firearms, I used my big mouth to talk my way out of the scrape or scream bloody murder. So, for practical rather than moral reasons, I don’t believe in guns for self-defense. I believe in common sense for self-defense.

I imagine having a gun. If an assailant bursts into my house, I will not have the gun handy, because I frequently can’t even find my glasses, and I use them every day.

“Wait a minute,” I would have to say. “I need to find my gun, load it, and make sure it works. I’ll be right back.

“Better make sure my license is current, too, because I can’t remember when I last renewed it. I’ll bet it has expired. It’s too much trouble to go downtown – or wherever you get licenses these days – deal with traffic congestion, parking, standing in line, government drones, and getting all that nasty fingerprint ink on my hands, plus paying the parking and license fees.

“I may not be able to shoot you, after all, because if my license has expired, the police will ignore you, book and fine me, take my gun and license, and charge me with felony. Then I won’t ever be able to vote again, not that voting makes a difference in today’s market.”

By then I would have bored that robber enough to make him leave. He may even offer me his gun. “It’s not doing me any good, either,” he might say. “You can have it.”

“No way, Jose,” I would respond. “Pack out your own trash. I have enough of it. As long as you came to rob me, what do you want? How about these Wall Street Journals? They can teach you how to make crime pay.”

I figure my best weapon in an emergency is my brain. I’m likely to have a cup of coffee by my side, a book or knitting needles in hand, or if I’m in the kitchen, a kitchen knife. I could throw the coffee mug or book at his face, stab him with knitting needle or knife, and distract him enough to make him drop his gun, so I can borrow it and hold him at bay. Then I could call the police to rescue him from me.

I don’t know statistics on how many armed assailants are male. In my case, it was 50/50 with two women together in one assault. I theorize they are victims of testosterone poisoning, either directly or by proxy, curable by castration, better insurance than gun control laws and more cost-effective for taxpayers.

Demand Side Economics

If you have something I want, I’m happy to pay for it.  This is called “Demand Side Economics,” a new concept, in which the customer is right.

If Supply Side Economics could supply Demand Side Economics with what it demands, all our problems would vanish.

Unfortunately, Supply Side’s shareholders, shipping contracts, plastics and packaging contracts, and of course government contracts, prefer supplying cheap plastic junk made by slave labor in China to US markets that are glutted with poorly designed, overbuilt, patented gadgets that don’t work right.  Americans are increasingly homeless, obese, stuffed to overflowing, and looking for places to dump, but the landfills are full.

Enter Demand Side Economics.  Save coins and grow food.  Economics is economy, or thrift, a word that has fallen into disrepute among the Supply Siders who don’t care what people want or need, only what they have machines and contracts to manufacture, package, advertise, ship, and distribute.  But for one thing.  All the investment goes up in overhead, and product quality plummets while costs rise.

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Jimmy Carter, 2006

JOURNEYS THROUGH TIME BOOK MEMOIR SERIES
by Katharine C. Otto, MD
March, 2015

The following extracts from my January, 2007 personal journal seem particularly relevant today. President Carter’s 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, deserves a second look.

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PALESTINE: PEACE NOT APARTHEID, JIMMY CARTER, 2006

Friday, January 26, 2007 – I went to Barnes & Noble late yesterday afternoon to buy Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. I hadn’t intended to read it, but when the Jews stalked off his advisory panel, I wanted to find out for myself what offended them.

Well, it was no longer on the shelves. I had to ask, and the sales girl couldn’t find it either. She promised to keep looking, and finally brought it as I drank coffee. She said the books were behind the counter, a whole slew of them. She left to replace the empty space (where there had been two the day before) with more.

Now, I had predicted this, because I’ve been tracking President Carter’s books at B&N since the Jews walked off his advisory committee. At first there was a whole table of them. The day before yesterday, I had to look for one and found two under “Current Affairs.” I put off buying it, and yesterday, the space was empty. I surmised they were quietly disappearing the books so no one would read them, to let them die a quiet death, as the mind polluters like to do.

Sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed. The Omniscient Eyes now require you to solicit their help if you want Jimmy Carter’s testimony. Politically correct freedom of speech drowns out the voices that speak different languages, in thought or behavior.

The book is wonderful. From the heart, and oh so considerate as to provide a time line and good maps. I couldn’t find the Straits of Tiran on the map, but I guess it’s at the mouth of the Jordan River. Anyway, the 1967 war – the six days in which the Jews captured the bloody territory that the entire world can’t seem to win back – supposedly grew out of Egypt’s blocking the Straits of Tiran.

Why did Egypt feel this need? Carter doesn’t go into that, but the overall picture becomes clearer the more I read. I was up until one AM reading to page 78 – scribbling on every page, seeing over and over why the Jews don’t like it, because it goes to the heart of the matter without even saying it. It is beautifully subtle in how it exposes the way the Jews have desecrated the Holy Land and ruined the Garden of Eden, by trying to sequester it unto themselves and deny it to others.

Jimmy Carter is, after all, a highly religious Baptist, and it’s obvious this land means a lot to him. Even if he is a rich peanut farmer, he is a peanut farmer still, appreciative of the earth’s bounty in simple food products.

The Jews have historically played both ends against the middle, then scream bloody murder when they get squeezed. However, this Israel scam is showing them up for the control freaks they are, and rather than gain world dominance, they are rendering themselves absurd.

More amusing is that they are becoming less relevant. This is a bigger blow to their hubris. Ha ha. Empty money backed by empty promises – all under the pretense that you are helpless victims in a cold, cruel world.

Oh? Have you ever wondered why you receive such harsh treatment?

“Let’s you and him fight. We’ll bankroll both sides with other people’s money, buy the media, and run the cameras.” That’s Israel’s attitude, and the US is wrong to suppress the right to disagree in our own country. We believe in freedom of religion, don’t we? Why are we supporting legalized, codified religious intolerance in an area that has historically belonged to all three monotheistic religions?

It’s only their god that gave them exclusive property rights in Israel, and Americans who don’t believe in their god, like me, feel no obligation to subsidize their claim on it – especially when they are so intolerant of others’ beliefs.

Of course they are still looking for a Messiah, but they are so competitive among themselves, no Jewish mother is going to acknowledge another woman’s son as Messiah. So the Jews will probably be a long time getting the Messiah they can accept, because they didn’t back the one they could have claimed when they had the chance.

Tough shit, folks. You lost your chance to claim a Messiah, and the way things are going, you are committing slow suicide with your rigid, self-important superiority. The mind pollution you generate – in haughty contempt for common sense – shows how clueless you are regarding compassion and human nature. By believing yourselves above it, you become its victims, yet the martyrdom is self-inflicted, because those who claim to be so intelligent should have a better understanding of justice and fair play.

Monday, January 29, 2007 – Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, made a profound impression. I keep thinking how much I admire him for saying in the most gentle way that Israel as a political entity was a mistake. He shows no bitterness, only sadness that so much cherished history is being desecrated and lost in the real estate wars.

Books: Cuba–A New History

bksgottcuba2004

Cuba: A New History
Richard Gott, 2004

A Personal Response
by Katharine C. Otto

After reading Cuba:  A New History, I believe Fidel Castro may personify the best example we have of capitalism at its finest. He invested in human capital, and it has paid off. The book’s author, Richard Gott (2004), is a British journalist and historian who has visited Cuba several times and writes fluently about its history and culture.

Gott describes an island that was peaceful, until the Europeans discovered it. They brought the slave trade in the early 1500s, along with its accompanying violence and bloodshed. The book goes into the history of the Spanish-American war (1898), that first American attempt to expand its empire beyond North American soil. The United States won Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam.

I was sad for Cuba’s revolutionaries, when the US stepped in to “help” and ended up taking over in the post-war paperwork, through the Platt Amendment in March, 1901. Thus we have the Guantanamo Bay legacy, where the US takes prisoners in order to isolate, torture, and kill them in secret. The book says the Platt Amendment was repealed in 1934. It also says Randolph Hearst in the New York Journal, and other US press, originally inflamed America into war with Spain by blaming a Spanish mine for the US Maine’s sinking. An accidental coal-fired explosion in the Maine’s bunker was subsequently found causative, but by then it was too late.

That Castro has achieved success in the face of all that bloody history, in spite of the United States’ intolerant and divisive attitude, makes him the greatest capitalist of time so far. Why? Because he invested in human capital, proving that money without human effort has limited value.

When the USSR collapsed in 1991, and Cuba lost its primary trading partner, Fidel turned the tables on the money exporters by keeping local talent local and building from within. Castro bought bicycles for transportation, gave land to anyone who would produce a quota of food, and invested in health care and agriculture education. Students have no debt when they get out of school.*

Castro never tried to expand beyond Cuba’s boundaries, to build empires. He remained home with the people to whom he made promises, and he stayed with them through thick and thin.  Except to send ambassadors of health care around the world, Castro stood by and supported Cubans, imbuing them with survival skills technology in a world otherwise zombied out on TV hallucinosis. Isolated from Madison Avenue advertising and Wall Street profiteering, Cuba has triumphed over the economic war on the Cuban revolution.

Cuba’s author, Richard Gott, who met Che Guevara, gives a subtly unflattering but honest view of US policy, and its disastrous consequences over time. Gott goes into exhaustive factual detail about why the whole world hates us, and why we don’t like ourselves.

Castro understood that violence only destroys people and resources. He took a cooperative and communal (communistic?) approach that recognizes the land owns the people, and not the other way around.  Through gentle guidance, he promoted a “communistic capitalism,” that recognizes the value of shared overhead. Those willing to work the land get squatter’s rights, in Castro’s communistic capitalist society, concepts Thomas Jefferson and Plymouth Rock both supported.

My hat’s off to him, for what he accomplished. I hope the asset plunderers won’t descend on Cuba and destroy what he has brought about. I hope they can appreciate the abiding value of the culture they have scorned, rejected, and actively sought to destroy for so long.

The US could learn a lot from Cuba’s example, should we choose to see. It offers much of what we claim to want but don’t have the courage to try.

*See also   *the ecologist, “Cuba: Health Without Wealth,” by Brendon Sainsbury, June, 2005; and Harper’s, “The Cuba Diet: What will you be eating when the revolution comes?” by Bill McKibben, April, 2005.

Cosmic Damage Control

What can you expect from men who think nooses around their necks are fashionable?  All I need do is yank their neckties to cut off their air supply, and poof!  There go the hot air, empty promises, and electronic money.

Well, ya gotta love em.  They’re too goofy to be taken seriously.  I figure I’m here for Cosmic Damage Control, the Homeland Security Department of the Universe.

“Yes, they’re still fighting over whose god is the real one, but they are removing the most violent ones from the gene pool, and they haven’t killed the rest of us, yet.

“Yes, they’re still trampling the planet with giant machines, bombs, and infrastructure, but their foundations are crumbling.  We hope to get everyone outdoors before the structures collapse.

“If we can get them to quit poisoning the outside, too, we may stand a chance.  However, this is becoming increasingly difficult, as they also want to sterilize the food supply, so the Apocalypse will be total.”