Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Parade

 Walking the walk
And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Luke 18-25
The Walton family with a cumulative wealth in excess of $90bn equals that of the poorest 40% of America's people (some 120 million). Richard De Zoysa - "American declinism and the impact of petro-socialism"

We’re still borrowing two to three billion dollars a day, principally from China, to maintain the world’s highest standard of living based on conspicuous consumption, at a time of growing world shortages. It doesn’t compute. But so far no one’s found an alternative.” Arnaud de Borchgrave

Why is it that here in the United States we have such difficulty even imagining a different sort of society from the one whose dysfunctions and inequalities trouble us so? We appear to have lost the capacity to question the present, much less offer alternatives to it. Why is it so beyond us to conceive of a different set of arrangements to our common advantage? Tony Judt
David Seaton's News Links
In his famous lecture at New York University, which I quote from The New York Review of Books transcript, Professor Judt asks the $64 question, "Why is it that here in the United States we have such difficulty even imagining a different sort of society?" Judt answers his own question in brilliant fashion. It is a long, exquisitely argued and essential read, one which I much recommend.

My answer to the same question in no way contradicts Tony Judt's, it is simply shorter, more blunt and more brutal. Why can't Americans imagine a different sort of society? Because keeping Americans from thinking straight is the major task of America's communications industry.

Let's take Richard De Zoysa's example: "The Walton family with a cumulative wealth in excess of $90bn equals that of the poorest 40% of America's people (some 120 million)."

OK: What would happen if 120,000,000 Americans, as one man, got it into their head to vote for the IRS to confiscate 80 billion dollars of the Walton family's money, leaving the Waltons to scrape by on just ten billion bucks?

You can buy a lot of health care, a lot of education and a lot of pensions for that kind of money, but we are being told endlessly that America's none too generous system of entitlements must be "revised", because soon there will be no money left to pay for them.

The idea of taxing the super-rich to pay for public health, education and infrastructure is so simple and so powerful that the effort to make it taboo to even think about it could only be brought off by a public relations effort similar to the traditional warnings that certain recreational practices could make you go blind or cause hair to grow on the palms of your hands... but evidently with much more success.

How is this possible?

Very simple: the people who own all the think tanks, the mainstream media, radio, television networks and the like are also super-rich and would naturally like to avoid paying any taxes at all if they could help it.

If this eventually leads to 40% of the poorest Americans living in a state of squalor rivaling the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or the slums of Calcutta, well, as Jim Bunning, the Republican senator from Kentucky, said about the people whose unemployment insurance had run out: "tough shit".

While millions of American children live in poverty, getting a substandard education, billionaires can live in gated communities and find solace rereading the works of Ayn Rand. Neat, huh?

Happy Easter to all my readers, or as the old American saying has it, "Christ has risen, but our prices remain the same". DS

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