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The Life of the Corporation Means the Death of the Workers

Posted on April 13, 2006
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Editor’s Note: Below are Dave Stratman’s prepared remarks for the Solidarity Now national meeting in Kokomo, IN from April 7-9, 2006. Due to a flight cancellation, Dave was unfortunately unable to attend the meeting. But because words are very powerful and thought provoking, I have chosen to reproduce them below for further thought and discussion.

Dave is the author of the book We Can Change the World , one of the Top 5 recommended books in the bibliography of this site, and he is one of the founding members of New Democracy World .

The Role of Solidarity Now in the Working Class Movement
By Dave Stratman
Kokomo, IN 4/8/06

To figure out what our role should be, we have to look at the situation of workers in the US.

What is that situation?

• Working people are under the sharpest, most coordinated attacks by corporate America in history. In every area of life–wages, pensions, health care, the pace of work, the hours of work needed to support a family, the dehumanized sexuality, competitiveness, and commercialism of popular culture, the permanent war-making of the government, the slashing of government programs and support for people, the levels of taxation, the costs and dehumanized nature of education, the levels of personal, psychological, and economic insecurity–in virtually every way you can imagine, the ruling capitalist class is making life worse for us.

• The institutions that working people have traditionally depended on–the unions and the Democratic Party–have been full partners in these attacks. The attacks on workers have succeeded not because of the great power of the corporations but because the unions have cooperated in the attacks, from PATCO to Hormel to Staley and Caterpillar, from Detroit News to Accuride and now to Delphi, the unions have been full partners with the companies, delivering their members into the hands of the class enemy. The problem with the unions is not that they have been weak but that they are on the wrong side.

• The Democratic Party has played an insidious role in this history, backing every war, every tax break for the rich, every measure to out-source jobs overseas, every attempt to cut government support of working people. The true role of Democrat politicians has been to demobilize workers. They say, “Don’t take action in your own hands. Depend on me! I’ll take care of you! Trust me!”

• There is one other element of the situation that is very important for us, and that is that the logic of capitalism is playing itself out and is being exposed for all to see. American workers are being told that, to keep their jobs, they have to compete with Chinese workers making a dollar a day. This is the logic of capitalism! This is the inevitable nature of a society and an economy based on competition. You can’t have your pension because Delphi needs it to compete. You have to end your days in poverty and insecurity, otherwise GM shareholders won’t be able to grow rich off your labor. The life of the corporation means the death of the workers.

What does this situation call for? What is the role of Solidarity Now in this situation? There are four key things that seem called for.

1. We need to learn and spread the lessons of our history–the history of the last thirty years and back further, to the founding of the union movements and beyond. Every union struggle of the past thirty years has repeated essentially the same mistakes: reliance on the Internationals, begging the leaders to lead, confining their struggle and the ideas they address to their contract rather than addressing the larger context in which their struggle is taking place. Not one of these struggles, from PATCO to Delphi, no matter how valiant and committed the participants, has made the obvious and necessary point, that the attack their members are under is a function of the capitalist system and that it will take the overthrow of capitalism to end the attacks. Not one of them, including the struggle at Delphi, has consciously sought to build a movement of all working people against the capitalist system. We mustn’t keep repeating the same mistakes and pushing the same illusions.

2. We need to think beyond the unions and unionism. Unions have demobilized large sectors of the working class with contractual arrangements. They have attacked solidarity relationships among workers within union locals, isolated local from local and trade from trade, and isolated union workers from non-union and from the unemployed. They have systematically trained their members in class-collaboration, joining the Company Team, competitiveness, etc. They have steered their members into the arms of the capitalist parties, and encouraged workers to abandon self-activity and direct action to rely instead on politicians and courts. They have acted as agents of capitalism abroad (AIFLD) and at home. They have colluded with capital in some of the most ferocious assaults on the working class: UAW/Delphi, wage-tiers, NCLB, etc.

The biggest sin of the unions is that they have tricked the working class into believing that their power comes from the union, when in fact it comes form each other–from their solidarity. The net effect of the unions has been to undermine the collective power of workers. We need to create a new kind of movement, not focused on the contract or on representation by union officials or on benefits for a comparative few who happen to be members of a local but on a movement of the whole working class.

3. We need to think beyond capitalism. Capitalism has a particular logic to it. That logic is based on competition: pitting people against each other. Its logic is riches for the few and poverty for the many. It puts wealth and power in the hands of the few. It sends young men and women out to kill for the Empire. It turns democracy into an empty show. The demands of Delphi and GM and other companies for pay cuts and “legacy relief” are not merely the fault of an evil Steve Miller or an incompetent Board of Directors. They are part of the logic of capitalism. Attacks like this on workers will not be stopped until we get rid of capitalism. Any movement that does not make these points is short-sighted and misleading.

Global capitalism not only means our-sourcing millions of jobs overseas and eliminating millions of others through automation. It also means that the expectations and self-confidence and beautiful minds of our children and grandchildren must be lowered and distorted and crushed so that they will never question their place in a society that is growing more and more unequal and undemocratic, so that if they end up with boring or low-paying jobs or no jobs at all, they will blame themselves instead of the economic system. The long and short of it is that there is no viable future for working people in this system.

4. Solidarity Now must put revolution at the center of its focus. We agreed on Five Principles for Solidarity Now. I agree with all these principles, but it’s important that we not think of number five, that we “fight to revolutionize society and create a true democracy based on equality and solidarity,” as just a kind of add-on in a laundry-list of demands. In fact this commitment to revolution is the principle on which all the other principles are based. No organization is going to be truly controlled by its members unless it is revolutionary. No organization is going to “build solidarity in the workplace, across industries, across races and genders, across employed and unemployed, across generations, across borders” unless it is revolutionary. No organization is going to “be independent of union officialdom” unless it is revolutionary. No organization is going to “take action to support the values and struggles of working people” unless it is revolutionary.

Spreading an idea of democratic revolution based on equality and solidarity is the most important thing we can do, without which nothing else that we do will matter much.

We are trying to start an organization of a new type. We have had a very rough time of it so far, and it isn’t clear whether we are going to survive beyond this weekend. Can we build an organization that reflects our declared ideals? Do we really believe in solidarity with one another? Do we truly believe in friendship?

If we can build an organization that reflects our declared ideals, one based on solidarity and equality and democracy, then I know we can succeed. There is a whole world of people out there who know that the society is headed in a desperate direction and are searching for an organization and a movement to be part of.

“Build it and they will come.”

* * *
Comments welcome below. For more information, see New Democracy World. and Solidarity Now.

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Comments

55 Comments so far
  1. sam jordan April 13, 2006 7:55 am

    sounds like socialism that has not worked in the history of the world.

  2. Brian Farmer April 13, 2006 7:56 am

    It appears that Mr. Stratman has borrowed heavily from Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto.” Labor unions are the enemy of freedom, self reliance, and personal responsibility. They coerce businesses, through the threat of strikes, and even violence, to provide more money and benefits to workers than a free market would otherwise support. If cars can be built cheaper in China than in the U.S., then why build them in the U.S.? Do American workers think that they have some kind of divine right to a job over workers in other countries? As the saying goes, “Under capitalism, wealth is unevenly distributed; under socialism, poverty is evenly distributed.” I’ll take capitalism any day, because it’s the system best designed to ensure economic freedom and individual liberty. If you are not happy with the present political situation, then vote third party. As a certain southern politician once put it, “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.” Voting for the lesser of two evils still leaves you with something undesirable. If you don’t vote for what you believe, you will never get what you want.

  3. Steve April 13, 2006 8:01 am

    He’s right, however, what is the solution? I do not see any candidates that are any good on either side. Third party will NOT win, not now anyway. Cows are out of the barn, can they be brought back in? How? ….I do not know and do not know anyone that does.

  4. bert badanai April 13, 2006 8:08 am

    The SHAREHOLDERS you so roundly chastise for their insidious greed are infact the very pension funds, the savings of Americans looking ahead to retirement,the funds that back the scholarships of needy students,the source of many technical and advanced grants for worthy innovations and invention,to name but a few of what made this country what it is.You are in denial of globalization and the opportunity given to the world,s needy and underdeveloped economies.What you are missing is the aggregate demand for depleting resources that are now impacting the structures of advanced economies and the adaption that has to unfold.

  5. Rich April 13, 2006 8:25 am

    Hey Michael.

    How about a new poll on the home page on this issue?

    As for the existing one, the US is a Republic (a kind of Democratic Republic - but we know it is the people that count the votes that really control a democracy).

    Cheers Rich

  6. Dirk J. van Dyl April 13, 2006 8:32 am

    Dave, you ought to read “Human Action” by Ludwig von Mises, or “Economy in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt. That would make you understand capitalism a little bit better…

  7. Glenn April 13, 2006 8:47 am

    This guy Stratman is way out there in la-la land. A suedo-solcialist he is. Making any sense he is not.

    The capitalistic type of society has survived for 10,000 years. I would rather be in one than the socialist/communist end of things (including Canada), having been in both worlds. Since this country is a Democratic REPUBLIC, the contry’s founders has the wisdom to rein in the “Democracy” that had ruined several empires before us. Our politicians have ruined this republic now, due mostly to an uninformed and complacent populace. Who was it that said ” …a little revolution now and then is a good thing…” or words to that effect.

  8. Mason M April 13, 2006 8:55 am

    You left out another assault on Americans…..the

    Invasion of illegal aliens encouraged by Bush & Co.

    Blacks are slowly waking up to this threat, but only
    after many of their jobs have been stolen.

    Other Americans are still in denial.

    Will Americans demand that their laws be enforced ?
    Not if Bush can help it.

  9. Karl M. April 13, 2006 8:58 am

    I encourage everyone to look into “Clean Elections” campaigns.

    Here is a good place to start:
    http://www.publiccampaign.org/
    Several states have clean elections and many more are working on it.

    There is way too much power from lobbying, which is the mechanism that corporate America uses to control Congress. We need to take that power away.

  10. ron April 13, 2006 9:29 am

    Glenn,
    You might find it interesting that for Europeans (white people) capitalism is really not very old. Feudalism didn’t resemble our current system in the least. Many aspects of stratman’s remarks would be more natural to our heritage.
    Why should individuals confront corporations alone? We have freedom of association in our bill of rights for a reason. Unfortunately this was one of the first rights wev’e lost in this post Reagan era.

  11. henry dribble April 13, 2006 10:08 am

    Regardless of what the five principles are, building a society based on principles is a quantuum leap forward in social organization from what we have now. A society as we now have which is based on competition can have no principles. It will not tolerate them, because they get in the way of winning. In a competitive society, and ours is totally competitve in every possible aspect, the strongest will win. It was inevitable that the corporations, super citizens, would win. And they have. As long as our society is based solely on competition (legal system, economic system, governmental system, etc.) the citizens cannot achieve substantial progress working within it. The system is broken, we need a new one. Imagine a society with no competition, one based on harmony and co-operation? This is what any organism is, the organs do not compete, muscles oppose but do not fight. Society must be a super organism. If we do not man will perish.

  12. Administrator April 13, 2006 10:21 am

    Dave has analyzed the situation quite succinctly. It is more and more difficult to have and keep a decent job in this country any longer. Americans are among the hardest working people in the world, but receive very little of the traditional rewards that once accrued from hard work. When most people think of America’s “glory”, they are looking backwards, not forward.

    It is true that the US is a republic, not a democracy. As such, we have willingly handed over our governing and decision-making responsibilities to politicians who are supposed to act in our best interests. The reason they have failed miserably and squandered America’s wealth is because they are working for their own interests, not the interests of the working Americans that make up the backbone of this country. I believe a big reason for this came when Congress delegated the power to print money to a private corporation – the Federal Reserve. This single act put capital firmly in control, and has contributed to many of the problems that Dave has correctly identified.

    When it comes down to a choice between money (capital) and people in our society today – capital always wins. Is this a just and fair way to live? Apparently many people think so, judging from the responses so far.

    But I suspect that is not true. I suspect that people have such difficulty imagining anything different from what they have seen that they are willing to stick with what they know, not knowing how miserable they truly are. No one, including Dave, wants to live under communism as practiced in the former USSR. It was a clear failure. The idea that these are our only choices is as false as the idea that we are limited to the choice between Coke and Pepsi or Big Mac and Whopper when we want something to drink or eat. In truth, the possibilities are endless, and are limited only by our imagination and our willingness to work for a just world. Most of us simply buy into the status quo because we have been conditioned to believe it, have been taught such things from a very early age. After having been ground down by the system, told that we are less valuable than capital, we are no longer empowered to believe in ourselves.

    America is under attack – not only from without, but from within. Bill Gates has sounded the alarm on the American education system in which 30-50% of students do not graduate from high school! He is rightly terrified for the future of the country, because the children are the future. Schools are not funded properly, and do not have the necessary resources to teach. Severe overcrowding means that schools would not be able to handle it if everyone wanted to graduate. They rely on the high drop out rate so that they don’t have to build new schools or improve infrastructure.

    Why is this so? Because schools are not profit centers. They cost money; they don’t make money. Capitalism as we know it cannot understand such an illogical concept – the concept of a proper investment. One poster above has noted that corporate “shareholders” are actually pensions funds and scholarships, etc. and working people saving for the future. But these are not proper investments – they are simply wealth transfer schemes – squeezing the mass of workers to the bone – cutting wages, benefits, respect — for the benefit of a minority of shareholders, which management skims and exorbitant amount off the top. In the long run this system is terrible for the infrastructure of the country, and this mindset is what is producing our failing schools, as well as a number of other problems for the country.

    What Dave points out is quite simple – American workers have abdicated responsibility for their lives to politicians, corporations, and unions in the belief that these entities would work on their behalf, in their best interests. Many people still believe that politicians, corporations and unions are working for our best interests. Dave is simply pointing out that they are not, and if we want to do something about it, then we – not they – have to do it.

    Many have also mistakenly interpreted the fact that Dave is a “socialist” in the traditional sense of the word, which is not the case. As he has pointed out elsewhere, socialism failed for precisely the same reasons that capitalism is failing:

    “Capitalism, communism, and socialism have all led to societies in which the elite hold the money and the cards. None of these systems is democratic. None of them reflects the aspirations and goals of most people. Communism and socialism failed as alternatives to capitalism because they accepted capitalism’s view of people: that economic development is the basis of human development, that self-interest is the primary human motivation, and that ordinary people are a passive mass or a dangerous problem. The basis of a new and democratic society is a new view of ordinary people…”

    – Michael

  13. ron April 13, 2006 11:22 am

    You hit it right on Michael, we live under a managers economy in which the interests of capital are subordinate to the interests of an elite group of well connected insiders.This same elite are able to redirect investment capital belonging to many others, thus multiplying thier power. At this point little remains to check thier abuse of the system.
    A Peruvian official once stated,”capitalism and communism share the same flaw, the belief that the conversion of commodities to consumer goods brings happiness”.

  14. KirkH April 13, 2006 11:53 am

    A few comments.

    1> If your job sucks, take your talent somewhere else where it it more appreciated or, better yet, start your own corporation (it’s really easy) and stop working for “the man”.

    2> From the WSJ “poor people’s physical and material well-being is considerably better now than in the late ’60s. How else to explain why so many poor now have color TV (93%) … Millions of low-income Americans are living better lives than they did before. Period.”

    3> I’ve learned that Socialists (be proud of your identity) aren’t worried about the poor at all, you’re worried about the middle class.

    4> I agree, the Federal Reserve is a banking cartel, but unions are labor cartels.

    5> Higher wages mean higher prices for consumers, including the poor who are worse off than the middle class. I’m solidly middle class by the way, I just would hate to see America end up like the union-riot stricken France.

    6> Why is the option of adult education never emphasized in unions? It’s too bad Unions don’t organize adult education classes so we can compete with the brainiacs in Japan instead of complaining about how evil robots and foreigners are taking our jobs. We either try to compete or our economy goes in the crapper.

  15. qrswave April 13, 2006 11:59 am

    The post is great - very well reasoned and articulated. But, I am more surprised at the remarks, which are short-sighted and lack susbtance.

    There is more than one way to apply capitalism, as William Pfaff outlines in his piece Capitalism under fire.

    Those who think we live in a ‘free market’ capitalist economy are deluding themselves. Ours is very much controlled and cannibalistic. Government granted monopolies (especially of the money supply) have created imbalances in asset allocation that would otherwise have never been possible in a TRULY free market capitalist system.

  16. Ben April 13, 2006 12:16 pm

    qrswave, I agree with you. Great post, but people don’t seem to get it. For example, the one just above yours - Kirk H:

    1) That’s a great idea. Couldn’t agree more.

    2) What do you expect the WSJ to say? They’re PRO- business. You think color TV is a meausure of weath? It is a hypnosis box - it is what keeps so many trapped in poverty! And if we assume that people are living better than they did before (which is debatable), isn’t there still room for improvement? A lot of room.

    3) I don’t think an old label like “Socialism” accurately captures what the author is trying to say. I wonder if your really read the post?

    4) The author is not arguing that labor unions are part of the solution. Again, I wonder if you read the piece? He states clearly that the Unions, like the Corps and the Pols are all part of the same problem.

    5) America is already ending up like riot-striken France. It is not about the unions - go back and read the piece. Higher wages means more spending power and a higher quality of life for everyone. Henry Ford raised his workers salaries to $5 a day so they could afford his cars. You’re beloved WSJ hated that idea - go back and read about it. But in the end, it created more prosperity. Poverty arises when there is a massive disparity of income, as we have now, not when income is equally distributed.

    6)The reason is because unions want to keep people subservient to the unions. The best way to do that is to keep them dumb. Dumb people are easier to control. I think this goes back to 93% of people having color tvs at home - it rots their brains.

    BTW, here is that Pfaff article that qsrwave recommended:
    Capitalism Under Fire, by William Pfaff

    It is well worth the read: “The crowds in the street contest a certain form of capitalist economy that a large part, if not the majority, of French society regards as a danger to national standards of justice and, above all, to “equality” - that radical notion of which France is nearly alone in proclaiming as a national cause, the central value in its republican motto of “liberty, equality, fraternity.”

    - Ben

  17. KirkH April 13, 2006 12:18 pm

    “In a competitive society, and ours is totally competitve in every possible aspect, the strongest will win.”

    Yes, and in America the rich are taxed at a much higher rate than the rest of us. So when the rich “win” we all win. The rich paid for most of my college and for that I say “Thank you rich people, whoever you are.”

    “Imagine a society with no competition, one based on harmony and co-operation? This is what any organism is, the organs do not compete, muscles oppose but do not fight.”

    This has been tried, bureaucrats spent a lot of tax dollars trying to decide the right price for haircuts because the free market pricing system was deemed “too competitive”.

  18. KirkH April 13, 2006 12:29 pm

    Ben, good points, I’ll read the linked and re-read the above, and do some harder thinking before posting again but there is a good rebuttal about short term shareholder think, reverse IPOs and competition brewing in my head.

  19. cornhusker April 13, 2006 12:29 pm

    “Imagine a society with no competition, one based on harmony and co-operation? This is what any organism is, the organs do not compete, muscles oppose but do not fight.”

    I’ve seen that movie before…”Star Trek.” No money, no competiton, everyone existed for the betterment of mankind. Don’t laugh, it’s true. “Beam me up, Scotty!”

  20. cornhusker April 13, 2006 12:31 pm

    On a more serious note…Michael, I’ve disagreed with you at times, but man…I love this friggin’ website. I’m addicted. Everytime you release a new essay (like today) I stop working and read it like a kid getting a new comic book (do they still read these?)

    Keep up the exceptional work.

  21. Administrator April 13, 2006 12:55 pm

    I think what it is important to remember that we do not live in a world that is purely competitive, not purely cooperative. There is a mix of the two, and finding that balance is the key.

    Even though we compete, we cooperate at the very least by agreeing what rules to follow. We generally recognize that running red lights, and shooting people goes “against the rules,” even in a competitive society like ours. People do it and we get mad. But to me, it seems that the majority of rules have swung too far in favor of Capital. Capital has the power to make the rules as they see fit, and which are to their advantage. See The Year of the Slave for more of what I mean. Regular working people no longer have much of a say over their lives. The uber-capitalists out there will say - so, don’t be a regular worker, be an exceptional capitalist.

    Fine - but that misses the point entirely that the SYSTEM of capitalism itself relies on exploitation. If you bootstrap your way out of poverty, you rise only high enough that you are in a position to exploit others - to skim money off the labor of others. As long as we operate under such a system, we will forever be stuck with the same problems.

    Michael

  22. Doug April 13, 2006 1:08 pm

    The real catch in labor competition worldwide is the rigging of currencies.If we had parity between currencies , corporations wouldn’t see any advantage in imports and outsourcing.You can’t blame businesses for doing what comes naturally which is to create profits.You can’t blame labor for trying to get as much in wages as possible. Government is the problem via currency manipulation.

  23. ron April 13, 2006 2:29 pm

    Imagine how low the dollar would have to go for us to compete with China on labor.
    The link above is excellent,how can our labor market be free if we compete with people who aren’t or if we compete in a world with excess labor supply?

  24. Mike April 13, 2006 5:35 pm

    Public education, mentioned above, is but another failed government program. Government education will always be a failure, just like all other government programs. Hell, they can’t even kill innocent people efficiently, try as they might. i.e. Ruby Ridge, Waco at home and too many to mention abroad.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  25. donny April 13, 2006 6:19 pm

    “Americans are among the hardest working people in the world, but receive very little of the traditional rewards that once accrued from hard work”

    I suspect that “the traditional rewards that once accrued from hard work” would feel an awful lot like poverty to most readers of this forum. The Chinese worker has a lot more to gain than we have to lose.
    Chinese labour isn’t cheap by nature: it’s been devalued by years of Marxism. If we descend into our own brand of Marxism, there may come a day when we can’t afford Chinese goods.
    Without competition, would Americans remain “among the hardest working people in the world”? And isn’t “among the hardest working people in the world” a competitive statement in and of itself?

  26. Rich April 13, 2006 8:18 pm

    During the cold war I think it was the band The Hooters that said. “I don’t believe there are any Russians and there ain’t no Yanks, just corporate criminals playing with tanks.”

    The people of the planet are divided by the very definitions of politics, left vs right, communist vs capitalist, etc.

    Divide and conquer is the first order of rule. You divide and conquer those you intend to rule, its the golden rule of leadership in the Machiavelian world our current leadership are raised in (the elite schools of the western world).

    For those people who through acts of bravery or ruthlessnes become leaders, and have not been through elite western schools, there is always a place at the elite dinner table if you are prepared to bend to the prevailing rules.

    It doesn’t matter if you are communist, socialist, unionist or fascist, all of these types sit around the tables of the elite when it comes time to divide the spoils. Because at the end of the day what all these people have in common is the desire to control and manipulate the human race.

    The Founding Fathers of the Great US of A tried very hard to ensure, through various means, that such an elite could not come to control America.

    In the end they have failed, much to our loss.

    Rich

  27. qrswave April 13, 2006 8:36 pm

    Donny and others who are fixated on competition: There is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of competition, emphasis on “healthy.” But, competition is merely a means to a DESIRABLE end and not an end in and of itself.

    HEALTHY competition is good because it allows the market to reach equilibrium, or the highest possible efficiency. But, in order for competition to be healthy it must be FAIR. In other words, no one should have an unfair advantage over the next person, because once they do the outcome is no longer efficient - it’s inefficient and distorted. This is why we have RULES as Michael so lucidly pointed out.

    When the rules favor one set of people over another, the engine of competition will always lead to EXPLOITATION of the latter by those with the advantage. In our case, the disadvantages created by corrupt rules are manifold. This is why ‘bubbles’ Greenspan stressed recently that:

    “[A] special protection of property rights is a necessary condition for financial centers.”

    The law is ESSENTIAL to create a basis upon which all the injustice is built. It begins with control of the money supply and the creation of legal instruments by which a few men increase their fortunes off the fruits of others’ labor, i.e., bonds, interest, derivatives, puts, calls, etc.

    Once the money supply is secured, it becomes profoundly easier to influence ALL other laws in respect to property rights, trusts and estates, taxation, etc. - most importantly INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY rights.

    The rubber REALLY hits the road where the monopoly of capital combines with the monopoly of patents and copyrights. The machine becomes unstoppable.

    There is NO way that raw LABOR, already ravaged and emaciated by interest, can “compete” with hundreds of years of human progress (technology) harnessed and controlled by monopolized capital. There is no competition. Labor doesn’t have a chance. And the result is cannabilism, NOT capitalism.

    Henry Dribble makes an outstanding analogy when he compares our economy to the human body. Our monetary system is like the body’s circulatory system - money being the life blood.

    Imagine if the mechanisms that control the volume and quality of blood in your body were allowed to direct it to the organs it favored and withhold it from those it disfavored, or increase and decrease its volume at will, or allow it to carry only a fraction of the oxygen your cells needed to survive. I can guarantee that it wouldn’t be long before your body became plagued with disease and dysfunction.

    We either change the rules of this nation, or prepare to be consumed by the cancerous sectors that have hijacked the economy.

  28. Greg April 13, 2006 8:51 pm

    I see a lot of truth in all of the above responses and in Dave’s statement.

    Having been thoroughly disgusted with politics over the years, I have come to several conclusions. It seems that someone is always to blame. Sometimes it’s corporations, or democrats, republicans, marxists, socialists, the militia, politicians, terrorists, unions, etc., etc. These institutions or forces are blamed largely for society’s ills. The founding fathers, having fought the most powerful empire on earth at the time, and studying the lessons of history and using their combined experience and wisdom, forged the basis for our modern world: the concept of a Constitutional Republic that stands as an icon to the entire world. In their infinite wisdom they considered many of the social problems we experience today, and formulated a plan to control these problems. When the people become too ignorant and distant from the government, that is when the government obtains limitless power.

    That is why Thomas Jefferson stated that the United States should have a revolution every 20 years. Since the U.S. Constitution has been usurped gradually over the past two centuries, the International Bankers have control of the world’s political, economic and social spheres. Consequently, with the founding of the Federal Reserve nearly a century ago, currency inflation and virtual monetary counterfeiting have caused rampant poverty, underemployment, excessive debt levels and a socialist/marxist welfare state. The consequences of this is a democratic society that exploits the rights of the individual and virtually confiscates an individuals property. What do you really own? The state or the banks can take it away in the blink of an eye, or decide if you can own it in the first place. Thomas Jefferson warned about democracy, which is really “mob rule”. The individual is sacrificed for the majority. The Greeks experimented with it and found it to be a failure. At the end of the day, the only thing that will turn things around is the common man.

    The one thing that the founding fathers gave us that has not been taken away is the power of the vote. Unfortunately, society does not vote its conscience. Perhaps out of fear, ignorance, selfishness, or dependence, the average voter votes for what is good for himself, rather than for his country. Most people are afraid of independent candidates, because these candidates don’t make promises to promote socialistic policies. In my humble opinion, the worst independent would be better than the best demopublican. Until the mass electorate realizes that the U.S. Constitution is a great thing, and that implementing it’s laws will cause them little or no harm, the status quo will remain. Until then, reforming the gun laws, reducing the legal system’s powers, raising taxes, voting for major two party candidates, building bigger government, passing more laws, warring with terrorist nations will not make the average person “see the light”.

    Instead, continuing to blame established institutions and forces will blind them to the truth. Know the truth, and it will set you free.

  29. Jack April 13, 2006 9:20 pm

    1. Lest you dismiss me as an unrealistic kook I will start by saying I have served this government. I served 23 years in US Navy in every Enlisted paygrade and the first four Officer grades. I served and believed in this government, I have simply acquired a little wisdom since then.

    Yes, this government is corrupt. Every government that is run by man is corrupt. Ours is better than most.

    Everything degrades over time, our system is not immune. It will get much worse!! As much as most readers seek to deny it only the return of Yahshua Messiah will place a just government in power on this earth. No socialist, or communist, or dictator, or democratic or even Republic form of government will do this. Only Yahweh’s will.

    So what do we do to survive until this happens? Learn to live on one income, Fathers support and guide the family, Mothers stay home and run the household. Home school your children. Move to the country, plant a garden, learn to shop Goodwill. Turn off or greatly restrict/supervise TV. Use the Library. Register to vote and vote for anyy conservative third party candidate. Write your elected officials telling them what you expect and you will vote for any opponent until they change. Join a Home Church, read and believe the Scriptures. Obey the Scriptures. Do not allow your children to register for the draft and do not allow them to volunteer to serve the military until we cease being an Empire using our military for aggression instead of defense. Structure your life so you require none of the social programs and do not owe any Federal taxes. STARVE THE ANIMAL AND DENY IT CONTROL OVER YOU THROUGH IT’S PROGRAMS.

    You don’t have to do all these things (would be better if you did). Everyone of you will agree with some of the listed things. The more you do the better off you are. Implement some and study the rest. Lets take back our families, our independence and our country.

    2. One prior comment said ” Americians are the hardest working people……” Sorry, that used to be true but not now. Look around you, a huge part of this country is fat and lazy. In no hard working society are the working and middle classes fat, they are skinny. Only in underworked classes do you see fat people (25% of Americans are obese)

  30. KTM April 13, 2006 10:06 pm

    All forms of political and economic organization are about control over other people. To claim one approach is inherently superior to the others is foolish. The Founders of America understood this and devised a constitution where competition between centers of power prevented any one from dominating others in the long run. They understood the corrosive effects of broad democracy and attempted to limit its use.

    In a period of two centuries we have allowed creeping democracy to gradually poison our government and economics. Groups (gays, illegal immigrants, atheists, elders, etc.) now expect the courts to allow them similar standing once granted only to individuals. IMO the next step will be a constitutional amendment to eliminate the electoral college in favor of a popular vote for President. It will probably be one of the last amendments before the fall of this republic and the rise of an imperium.

  31. Dave Downunder April 14, 2006 3:08 am

    Did you know that the capitalist systen is biblically based and that you will be rewarded accordingly? Some 50 fold Some 100 fold etc it’s up to you. But YOU have to put the effort out and then you can reap the rewards, but if you let others, especially the politicians or unions, etc look after your well being then you are going to get shafted big time.

    You know the biggest leson in history is that people don’t learn from history as this quote says:

    “If the American people ever allow the banks to control issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers occupied.”

    - Thomas Jefferson, former President of the United States of America

    - - -

    “The few who can understand the system (Federal Reserve) will either be so interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favors, that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of the people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantages that capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens without complaint and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.”

    - John Sherman, protégé of the Rothschild banking family, in a letter sent in 1863 to New York Bankers, Morton, and Gould, in support of the then proposed National Banking Act.

    - - -

    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching. It unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.”

    - Abraham Lincoln, from a letter written to William Elkin just after the passage of the National Banking Act of 1863 and less than five months before he was assassinated.

    - - -

    “Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are US government institutions. They are not… they are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the U.S. for the benefit of themselves and their foreign and domestic swindlers, and rich and predatory money lenders. The sack of the United States by the Fed is the greatest crime in history. Every effort has been made by the Fed to conceal its powers, but the truth is the Fed has usurped the government. It controls everything here and it controls all our foreign relations. It makes and breaks governments at will.”

    - Congressman Charles McFadden, Chairman, House Banking and Currency Committee, June 10, 1932

    - - -

    But today we have not learnt any lessons and continued the problems and it’s called complacency:

    “Complacency is based on a SELF ENFORCED ignorance - not a genuine lack of knowledge but a REFUSAL TO KNOW. As such it is a brittle state of mind, and in 2005, it has been steadily splintering. That process is now speeding up, fast.”

    “THE LAST REFUGE OF COMPLACENCY WAS THE HOUSING BUBBLE. It has now been firmly burst in Australia. In the UK, the most certain indicator that it is about to burst was the decision by the Bank of England to lower official rates last week. AND IN THE US, IT IS CLEARLY ON ITS LAST LEGS AS THE NUMBER OF HOUSES FOR SALE (BUT NOT SELLING) IS GROWING FAST. On top of that, there has been a sudden and steep dive in US consumer confidence.”

    “Complacency is hard to maintain when one winces every time one pulls into a gas station. It is even harder to maintain when one contemplates a situation where the amount owed on a house is now more than the house is “worth.”

    – Bill Buckler, Privateer, 8-12-2005

    - - -
    “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

    - Thomas Jefferson

    Suggested reading to help you be informed to what lies ahead is: “The Fourth Turning” by Willian Strauss and Neil Howe.

  32. ron April 14, 2006 5:29 am

    God will reward us for accepting capitalism? Creeping democracy? Is this America or Iran?

  33. Doug April 14, 2006 8:10 am

    Don’t I remember something about God and mammon?And Render unto Caesar….

  34. barter this April 14, 2006 11:46 am

    “When a population undergoing drastic change is without abundant opportunities for individual action and self-advancement, it develops a hunger for faith, pride, and unity. It becomes receptive to all manner of proselytizing, and is eager to throw itself into collective undertakings which aim at “Showing The World.”

    “In other words, drastic change, under certain conditions, create a proclivity for FANATICAL attitudes, united action, and SPECTACULAR MANIFESTATIONS of flouting and defiance: it creates an atmosphere of REVOLUTION. We are usually told that revolutions are set in motion to realize radical changes. Actually, it is drastic change which sets the stage for revolution. The revolutionary mood and temper are generated by the IRRITATIONS, DIFFICULTIES, HUNGERS, AND FRUSTRATIONS inherent in the realization of drastic change.

    Where things have not changed at all, there is the least likelihood of revolution.”

    -ERIC HOFFER, ‘The Ordeal of Change’ 1952

    I have just starting to read this little book that is set just after WWII and cold war talks. It is strange that 50 years later and we are talking the same way, reacting the same to the same problems.

    A society MUST be strong enough to support, and affluent enough to afford, individual FREEDOM. It would be very unreasonable to expect a backward country (IRAQ) to modernize itself, even with OUR help, in a hurry in an atmosphere of freedom, when for generations there has been none. Its poverty, its lack of skill, and lack of unity goes against this.

    Our government should have known this long before it was decided that we would enter Iraq. So what was the real reason we entered Iraq?

    When the one in power to create change for the larger good is corrupt, the corruption in absolute power comes from the fact that such power is never free from wanting to turn the people into a THING, not seen as a people, individual. The impulse to turn people into PREDICTABLE THINGS that can be controlled, as both absolute government and nominal government are JUST ways of avoiding the necessity of having to deal with human nature. The main purpose is the elimination of the individual- the independent voter, comsumer, worker, owner, thinker-and that every device they employ aims at turning man into a manipulatable” animated instrument,” which is Aristotle’s definiation of A SLAVE.

    On the other hand, the spreading of individual freedoms must have as its main purpose the impairment of absoluteness of power. This impairment is brought about not by strenghening the individual and pitting him against the possessors of power, but by distrubuting and diversifiying power and pitting one category of power against the other.

    How do we do this? Self-respect,”the unbought grace of life.”

    1.Promoting solidarity among the people… It is not a sin to NOT report the misdeeds of friends, relatives, loved ones, neighbors, associates,etc…

    2.Individual self-respect cannot thrive in an atmosphere charged with racial or religious discrimination.

    3.Struggle to survive-The ability to grow as an individual, without this basic idea, man is robbed of his sel-respect.

    4.Lack of Pride-No other attitude has distroyed the oness of man and contributed so much to the SAVAGE strife of our time as that of PRIDE.

    5. Failure-Socity must be able to afford the waste inherent on trial and error. There can be no freedom without the freedom to fail.

    As I see it, we are going to have to reinstill an idealogy of right and wrong…into society.

    When the leaders believe that they have the right and power to do as they please no matter what the people want, then eventually all of socity will begin to see all the grays between black and white, which slowly degrades the lives of the people down to no self-respect and the powers that be have all the power to bring the sheeple back in line.

  35. Jason M April 14, 2006 12:04 pm

    I’m no fan of welfare and handouts for Corporations. And I agree that outsourcing and globalization will gut the American workforce. But I’d like to put these facts into a larger context.

    As much as some of us would like to think that Corporations are evil and that they bear all of the blame, their actions of the last 5-10 years have been a response to a far larger phenomenon, namely, the internet.

    The internet, to state the obvious, is the single most important innovation of this century, and it is the motor of the Information Age. The internet has created what I like to call The Ruthless Consumer.

    Consumers have more information, and more points of purchase at their fingertips than they ever have had before, probably by a factor of a hundred. If you want to buy a book, you can go to Amazon.com or a dozen other websites and find it. “Retail price” on thousands of items has been slashed, and margins for U.S. companies are now razor thin.

    Look at the U.S. auto industry. Without the internet, is there any doubt that an entry level sedan in the United States would cost $35,000? But with the amount of comparison shopping and information you can get online, (and the ability to buy exactly the car you want in a private party transaction) the car companies and auto dealers simply can’t raise prices.

    U.S. consumers are just as cut-throat as the corporations. Any advantage we can get for getting a cheaper price, we will take. No one thinks, “Oh, I’m going to go pay $2000 more for a car at a dealership because I want to create more jobs at the car dealership in my hometown.” I’m sorry, that just doesn’t happen.

    I bought a four bedroom house two years ago. I needed a lot of furniture. In the past, I might have spent a fortune, well over $10,000, to buy all the new furniture I needed. I spent less than $5,000 by finding high quality used furniture online at places like Craigslist and overstock.com.

    These savings are as good as earnings — in fact, better, because they are non taxable!

    At the same time, you have a corporate culture obsessed with stock prices, and stock prices based on earnings. So corporations HAVE to increase their earnings somehow. How do they do that? They are powerless to raise prices, so they have become ruthless about costs.

    Life has never been better for a United States consumer. We have more choices for more products and a better price than anyone’s ever had in the history of civilization. And because of this, the United States has become, first and foremost, a CONSUMER culture.

    Changing U.S. Corporations will entail changing the culture. And that is a very, very tough thing to do — arguably, it only happens when something massive happens, like a depression. After 9/11, George Bush had the opportunity to change our culture. He could have asked the American people to stop consuming foreign oil and make sacrifices to put our energy destiny back in our own hands.

    What did he do? He told the American Public to go shopping.

  36. Reinhold April 14, 2006 5:30 pm

    The one that said “all we like sheep have gone astray” is right. Any premise that assumes that man is basically good, is a false premise. Any confidence that poor men are better than rich men, is misplaced confidence.
    Heaven help the elite if power is invested in the class of envy.

  37. the stranger April 14, 2006 6:51 pm

    Oh boy. I read this through once and thought, “just pass;” because this corporation vs. labor mess is just a detail within the massive changes that lie ahead. But I came back and read through it again. I hate to judge a book harshly before I read it, but I don’t even like the title. It seems comparable to God Bless America, when God Blessed America would be more appropriate. We already Changed the World, and now we got to deal with it.

    Note: I just looked at the book list on this website and saw some of my favorites plus others I want.
    As I read through Stratman’s bullet points I find myself agreeing with his observations and complaints. As I move down the list it feels like socialism. And since I do judge books before I read them (whether to buy and reading order) perhaps Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East is an alternate pick - to understanding the fundamentals of this serious problem. I haven’t read it, but Rogue Nation by Clyde Prestowitz was illuminating.

    I don’t hate unions. They seem like miniature democratic-republics to me. Just little governments that enhance or degrade the systems they serve or bleed. I point this out because I don’t think Unions are destroying our Airlines, GM, Ford, etc. But I don’t think they can solve anything either. They can’t stop what is taking place.

    What I think I hear a lot lately is this; The world is falling apart, capitalism caused it, revolution must follow. True enough perhaps, except for the capitalism part. …another analogy, using “inflation.” Inflation means rising prices to most people. Language evolves and so this definition becomes valid, so to speak, through attrition. But it’s not legitimate. It replaces and confuses the real definition; the actual concept. It subverts the concept of inflation, so in really it’s classic Orwellian newspeak.

    So it is, I think, with capitalism. The definition, or more importantly the concept has been subverted. This isn’t a real capitalist system. The fed/gov association is more like communism. The corp/gov connection has signs of fascism. The people/gov bond is more democracy and socialism than a republic. All this on a decaying capitalist framework and brought to the world by the destruction of money. Hell, I don’t even know what this is - but it’s about to stand up and walk on its own. How about this; The world is falling apart, the Beast caused it, revolution may follow. I do not know how to fix this (or even how to run from it) but more socialism doesn’t come to mind.

    I sense some sharp individuals wrestling with these words, like a miniature Tower of Babylon. Capitalism is greed, competition - let’s fix it; seems too simplistic. But lassie-fair capitalism as rule-of-law, Austrian economics, free trade, and the gold standard don’t even exist. It’s like we’re trying to fix corporation vs. labor when Adam Smith’s invisible foot is about to kick our collective ass.

  38. Rich April 14, 2006 8:25 pm

    Too funny Stranger, I like your perspective a lot.

    As Chen said on a prior blog, you basically have to ride this wave out. We ain’t going to be able to do much about this beast, as you so correctly stated, no one can even identify the danged thing anymore because it changed the definitions in an attempt to hide itself!

    Short of rounding up all the bankers, politicians, rogue generals and bureaucrats and giving them to Wackenhut, I guess we just have to sit it out.

    Cheers Rich

  39. Arial April 15, 2006 3:42 am

    I was raised the granddaughter of a coal miner, daughter of a union member, not allowed to shop in Sears as a child because it was “scab” and so I grew up pro-union. I think that in the early coal-mining days when the workers truly did owe their souls to the company store, the union did some good!

    Married a union electrician and over the years both of us saw through the union. My husband was reprimanded, literally, for working, even admonished to walk slowly across the yard to get materials. If the job was drawing to an end, they were told to slow down to make the job last longer. Clearly dishonest!

    Unfortunately for him, he was honest and believed in giving a day’s work for a day’s pay and he just didn’t fit in to the union philosophy. Advanced to job foreman, he finally terminated two subordinates who would not work after they sat on the sidewalk for a solid hour–smoking.

    As a result, union goons were waiting for him outside the job site and motorcycles circled our home at night and the police would not intervene because the union had control of the city at that time. My husband stayed on the job in defiance, but under threat of his life.

    My son worked for eight years for a cruise line company where the Longshoremen openly stole sacks of shrimp and broke watermelons open on the deck to eat and nothing could be done about it. The cruise company tried getting another (non-union) company and their forklifts were destroyed in the dark of night. The union fully supported their actions, would not curb these people.

    The union has brought on itself its own demise by its dishonesty. When they got powerful enough to rip off employers they showed their true metal. Arial

  40. Robert April 15, 2006 1:13 pm

    Arial’s post shows that the problem is not capitalism or the institution of unions. Crooks exist at the top of the system as well as at the bottom of the economic system. In my private opinion, we are not facing a crisis of institutions as much as a crisis of ethical standards.

    Ethics was invented by the Greeks more than 2000 years ago not as a theoretical subject, but as a rational approach to deal with questions of long term survival of civilization.

    We have not made much progress in ethical standards for a long period of time.

  41. ron April 15, 2006 5:07 pm

    People have always had ethical lapses under all economic systems. I’m sure that a few watermelons don’t figure into any union busting motivation. Yes there are problems with our present unions. How could there not be? A century ago unions built the first hospitals to serve miners. Eventually the employers took over the provision of health care. I wonder if our current health care delivery is more efficient than what the unions provided. How can we get back to the solidarity of the 30’s? Too many unionists have accepted the defeatist notion that globalisation is unstoppable. In actual fact our(America’s) economic crisis may be entirely caused by globalisation. Consumer spending accounts for 2/3 of gdp. The wealthy will never spend enough of what they take. They invest. Mostly overseas right now. After the housing atm closes we will enter a recession. We may see even Republicans promoting protectionism. The problem is thier idea of competing is to bring in enough immigrants to undermine even our low wages.

  42. mohan April 16, 2006 1:35 am

    When Mahatma Gandhi was asked by a western reporter as to what he thought of the western civilization and capitalism, to this he replied in a single sentence… “its a nice idea”.

    It looks like this will remain an idea that that didn’t work. Capitalism or for that matter any other “ism” was always based on exploitation of resources, be it slaves in the 18th and 19th century or fossil fuels and other resources during the current period followed once again by cheap labor in the third world at the expense of local jobs in advanced economies.

    One might argue that competetion and free capital flows have made things cheaper and raised the standards of living around the world. Well, did it really ? One has to simply travel to some of the major cities in the so called third world countries and live there a few weeks to find out the enormous burden globalized consumer culture is placing on people’s environments and their quality of life. If you have a good life then consider yourself lucky, unfortunately the global majority is not so fortunate.

    Very soon this greed for more will affect each one of us on this planet as there is not enough to go around with the present state of affairs accelerating down hill.

    Humanity may have mastered advanced technology and has made great discoveries in space and medicine but the basic nature of ours is just a cut above our primitive beginnings. So long as we humans don’t collectively and individually, scientifically investigate our inner space and lack understanding of our true nature, our intrinsic connection to nature, animals and fellow humans, we’ll all be just clever tool makers or consumers in the throes of greed and fear. But like it or not each one of us has limited time on this planet to effect any changes. But one has begin with oneself.

  43. Robert Sczech April 16, 2006 5:20 am

    The US consumes way beyond its means. We burn more oil than our oil wells can produce, we spend more money than we earn, we burn more oxygen than our plants and forrests can reproduce, we even consume more water than rain is delivering via our lakes and rivers. In a society which is so much out of balance, it does not matter what economic system we employ in order to organize our lifes. Whether capitalism or socialism, unions or non-unions, democracy or fashism, these institutions can not change much if our aim is not to live sustainably within our means (as defined by our natural resources and reserves).

    Economic problems and tensions are not always the result of misguided policies. Very often they are the reflection of disappearing natural wealth. To discuss tensions between owners of capital and unions means to deflect attention from our main problem: the coming collapse of western civilizations (as a result of unsustainable consumption of natural resources).

  44. bp April 16, 2006 7:02 am

    I would have to agree that the problem we are facing is not the insttutions in our society - the rot I see in them is just a symptom - what I see is a fundamental change in the way people are preceiving “reality” - we are moving from a cartesian/newton view of a mechanical world that functions according to aristotle’s rules of logic (either-or) and good old Ayn Rand’s objective positivism toward a world seen through quantum physics and biology - see Alfred North Whitehead’s “Process and Reality”.

    The old power holders are sensing the land moving under their feet and are tightening their grip on control within the various institutions - no one wants to let go of the past and its known patterns - I can well attest to the within myself.

    So I figure what needs to be done is to reintrepert all of our societal obligations and rules in the light of this new understanding (after the fall which seems inevitable as the powerful will not let go willingly).

  45. groucho April 16, 2006 7:43 am

    Michael, Great site; keep up the good work!

    The good thing about the coming economic collapse(that US govt & FED will try to “put off till tomorrow”), is that it will give us an excellent opportunity to re-invent our civilization in a kinder, gentler, planet friendly way.

    At the national and supra-national level, we are really just continuing the games that we learned as children. Two games come to mind…..Monopoly and Risk…. Monopoly is about economic domination and Risk is about military domination.

    What would happen in a generation (or two) if parents were
    to impress upon their kids, games of co-operation and acts of kindness? Do you think “adult games” might turn out a little different?

    As a middle age adult, I’ve just recently come to realize the significance of religon, throughout the ages.

    What religions (at least the “nicer” ones) have tried to do is put checks and balances on human nature.(of course many religions have acted to inflame human nature, eye for an eye, fatwas, etc…)

    In a SECULAR world, we need to FULLY understand human nature and it’s darwinistic competitive genetic evolution. Without this understanding we will be unable to put in place decent checks and balances to improve the QUALITY OF LIFE for inhabitants on this wonderful planet.(human & all others)

    Man left to his own devices(singular or group) will always “play for the win”. It’s the nature of the beast(mankind).

    Luckily, we can re-write the rules of the game to produce far more equitable outcomes for all.

    I do not believe that it will be too difficult to accomplish these objectives. In the future we will probably
    laugh at how stupid we were to not realize that we could have anything in life we want as long as we help others get everything they want.(instead of trying to win/dominate)

    HONESTY CONUNDRUM

    One area where we need to make a major change is the “honesty arena”. Primates are a very cunning and deceptive group. Whether we study chimp or human social interaction, one area that stands out is how programmed we/they are for dishonest/deceptive practices. Again, this is the nature of the beast.

    When we see Clinton wag his finger and deny sex or Bush and Cheney lie about WMD, we should not be surprised. Under our current darwinistic “win” environment those with outstanding deceptive skills will naturally rise to the top. In other words, honesty will get you NO-WHERE. Dishonesty will get you to the “TOP”.

    Understanding human nature, allows us to realize this. We can now put checks in place to guard against this development.

    Lie Detector Proposal

    With current technology, we are very capable of statistically distinguishing between what people say and what they truly believe. We need to devote resources to bringing about more truth telling. Also, improving lie detection technology will be very fruitful for improving management of all social endeavors.

    A “60 minutes” like show where high profile people(in particular politicians) are challenged to tell the truth. If the voters(shareholders, etc..) see that they won’t take the challenge than the citizen can be assured that those persons(turning down the challenge) are blowing smoke up you know where……………..
    Many other “truth finding” ideas can be developed.

    Democratic Monetary System

    This is an idea, whose time has come. The present monetary system is a match made in heaven for communist countries, but a nightmare for democratic countries. The reasons should be obvious to all. Present Central Bank based system is command and control; basically, same system used by so called “communist” countries for the last century. Currently, China, while not giving up their communist political system is adopting the west’s “communist” monetary system……….a match made in heaven if I ever saw one………………………

    The FIX?…….Democratic Monetary System. How will it work? Since economic activity starts at the individual level that is where the “feedstock of money” will be born.

    Current monetary creation system is Top/Down. We need to reverse it to Bottom/UP. Current system is set up for national/supra-national govt control/use. In a democracy ,that is crazy. Why should a govt, elected by the people, for the people get their dirty hands on money before the citizens? It makes sense in a communist system; ie..govt controls all. In a democracy it’s pure lunacy, plain and simple.

    In theory, a democratic monetary system can be put in place fairly easily. The big problem will be “outfoxing” govt & current power broker manipulation of the system.(they won’t give up their power easily)
    A good lie detection system should prove extremely valuable in setting the record straight.

    Our current economic system is basically a pyramid system based on expanding populations and expanding energy supplies. Those at the top of the pyramids(govts, MNC’s, money center banks)reap the “profit of the system”.
    Those at the bottom get you know what…….

    A Democratic Monetary System will “invert the pyramid”. Workers/producers of value will actually rise to the top.
    Consumers of value(mainly govt and current money creation “nonsense creators”) will sink like the Titanic. Bon Voyage!!!

  46. cowboy April 16, 2006 3:53 pm

    Well i agree that unions are bad — they get people alot of benfits that i do not have as a rancher for myself. People tend to bitch about things when they want somebody to do it for them. I wish everbody could run there own bussness for a while to see just how tough it is. I also wish the goverment would get the hell out of farming. All they have done with the farm preograms is keep some people in bussness that should not be in it. It should be like the law of the jungle if you can’t compete you get ate. Why should i buy a car from somebody that has as many weeks off as the french and i heard that their benifits add $1500 to every car and truck coming out of detroit.

    I do kinda like this site and glad with what i think is comming to be located in the middle of nowhere.

  47. donny April 16, 2006 4:37 pm

    Benefits at big car companies don’t add to the price, they add to the debt, because consumers aren’t willing to pay that extra 1500.

  48. the stranger April 16, 2006 5:09 pm

    Yeah? …and I wish the government would get out of farming. But don’t worry about those benefits too much, they won’t be getting them. No retirement for you pal, even if that was the deal. In the Netherlands they average about five weeks vacation; nice place. I don’t even know how much vacation French people get. French people… let’s call em’ Freedom people.

  49. the stranger April 16, 2006 5:31 pm

    Rich, I’m not even sure what my perspective is. I thought it was time to figure it out; so here I am, at bullnotbull. Shape shifting beast, changing to hide itself - I like that.

    I think Roberts comment, “To discuss tensions between owners of capital and unions means to deflect attention from our main problem: the coming collapse of western civilizations” does a better job summing up my hesitation than my earlier post. It almost felt like a cop-out, side-stepping the subject. The corp vs. labor issue is important; and this string has some great comments regarding the subject. I’ve been so preoccupied with total collapse that I have trouble focusing on anything else. I see less challenges and opportunities than I do a relentless stream of problems.

    But considering “The Life of the Corporation Means the Death of the Workers;” I agree with the statement. And what if, rather than having the opportunity to improve corp vs. labor, we actually continue this downward spiral. And after a collapse, it gains even greater momentum. Remember the movie Robocop? (yeah I know, testosterone action flick - I still like those) The premise of a privatized police force keeps playing in my head, even after all these years.

    Fast forward to now - corporate run health care, corporate run prisons, and corporate run military. Plus the ever expanding technology to track and control employees, man… Just consider current drug testing; it doesn’t only control the work place - it controls the work force, because you can’t even burn-one on you own time. You want to work? Sign these papers! Yeah, in corp-world the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away…

  50. wilky April 16, 2006 5:48 pm

    I work for a union and the name of the game once you step on property is “the least amount of work in the most amount of time”. Try working side by side with that.

    I work at UPS and my union brothers, being good Dems, most certianly do believe that the rich should pay a far higher percentage of their income in taxes. Do you remember the UPS strike in the mid 90’s? About jobs, right? No it wasn’t, it was about who was going to control the pensions, the company or the teamsters. Well of course we all know that the teamsters won. A couple of years later, my union brothers figured out that on an individual basis we pay in the most, being the highest wage earners in the union, then all the other teamsters only to recieve the same as everyone else. When I pointed out that this is no different then believeing that the rich should pay more percentage wise, the best they can come up with is “f*ck you”. Gotta love it what someone is willing do to others but is unwilling to do it themselves. Is this the fairness that some of you were talking about?

    Most if the companies are set up for a win/win situation. Those that don’t usually don’t last that long. My girl friends company is an ESOP and serves everyone equally well. Wish more companies were set up that way.

  51. mohan April 16, 2006 8:26 pm

    Here is one corporation that has been a prime focus of major business schools such as Harvard for many years and many volumes have been written on the success of its business models and business ethics:

    http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:-Fjc7G7SXLEJ:www.altfeldinc.com/pdfs/Maverick.pdf+ricardo+semler+corp&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8

    Similar concepts can be extended to government. But clearly this takes a paradigm shift in thinking.

    SEMCO Corporation: A Circle of Equals
    Ricardo Semler is one of the world’s most respected leaders of organizational change. In the early 1980s, he inherited his father’s industrial equipment business, Semco. When he took over, the company’s business cycle was in a decline. In his book, Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace (Warner Books 1993), Semler describes how he removed all bureaucracy and red tape and flattened the hierarchy. He transformed Semco from a culture based on paternalism and command-oriented management into a circular structure of democracy and shared leadership. All “dead-end” positions such as receptionists, secretaries, and personal assistants were eliminated, as well as most middle managerial positions. These were restructured into work teams.

    Semler has transformed Semco into a company that embraces Circle principles where workers are listened to and not “talked-to” where they are respected and treated as adults. There are no set times to start work, no dress codes, and the employees make their own decisions about their salaries. Workers have access to the company books. Certain major decisions are often subject to employee vote, such as the purchasing of another company or relocation. Each business unit has a committee that is comprised of non-management members: shop operatives, technicians, and management. They hold decision-making power that does not require approval farther “up the line.” They produce the complete product, and most workers master several jobs.

    Ricardo Semler’s rules for full productivity are:

    Employees act as partners and associates, making all their own decisions.
    Employees evaluate their managers every six months.
    Employees are encouraged to start their own companies.
    New manager candidates are interviewed by the staff they would supervise.
    No first-class or second-class citizens.
    Managers set their own salaries and bonuses.
    No formality—a minimum of meetings, approvals, and memos.
    Shop floor workers set their own productivity targets and schedules.
    Managers take turns operating as chief executive.
    The truly modern company avoids an obsession with technology and puts quality of life first..

  52. bp April 17, 2006 7:09 am

    mohan, that was an interesting link - thanks. I wish the transition to a new way of accomplishing “work” would be rational like this, but it seems too many people have vested interests in the “old school” ways - still, seeds are being planted.

  53. Marc Authier April 18, 2006 7:33 pm

    Fundementally here what the pseudo capitalist, the big corporations but in particular, banks do in the USA but also in the rest of the world do? They socialize the risk taking, but they keep the profits to themselves. Want an example. FANNIE MAE. Profit of Fannie Mae goes to the private sector and the shareholders. But what happens if let’s say Fannie Mae declares bankruptcy and loose it all? Answer: You the sucker, the citizen pay the bill! 100% insured by you. Socialize the loss 100% and privatize the profits 100%. US capitalism in 2006 is a stinking piece of sh*t. It’s socialism for the fat cats.

  54. Loren April 19, 2006 3:20 pm

    It’s all about balance. Unions with too much power are a potential problem,just like coroporations with too much power are a threat. Policicians are only a threat when they have too much power. People are a threat when they have too much power (like lynch mobs).

    The problem with most plans is that they try to take power from the most recent bad guy and give it to yesterday’s victim who becomes the new bully.

    The USA worked well at first when almost no one had any power. As groups began to consolidate they began to do battle, but over time they are just getting bigger and more powerful. Eventually the balance will be broken and someone will take over. Then we’ll have to start all over again.

  55. Ted April 22, 2006 7:28 pm

    Oy… are all wingnut arguments the same?

    Just as no spy movie is complete without a car chase, no wingnut litany is complete without the “socialism has failed everywhere it’s been tried” plug.

    I have a question for you. Is the welfare state socialism, or isn’t it? Because if it is, by definition every developed nation in the world is a socialism, and virtually every undeveloped nation in the world is not. Yes, this includes ostensibly “libertarian” nations like Hong Kong and Singapore, where not only generous entitlements like universal health care exist, but the government picks and chooses winners if not outright run the large industries. Of course, Hong Kong and Singapore aren’t libertarian nations, which only proves that the CATO Institute and similar whackjobs don’t know what they’re talking about, which we all knew anyway. Of course all developed nations aren’t socialisms, and anyone who equates a welfare state with a socialism just ends up sounding like a royal idiot.

    In the twisted world of the wingnut, threatening businesses with strikes is coercion, but threatening workers with starvation is not. How nice it must be for them to be able to define away opposition to pet prejudices. Their own wafer-thin idea of capitalism, not to be confused with capitalism proper, combines personal freedom with “economic freedom”, even though, my gosh, they never seem to actually demonstrate their dedication to personal freedom. See, because if freedom is defined as low taxes, small public sector, no unions, and a lack of check on corporate power, third world dictatorships are among the freest societies in the world. It’s like St. Anselm was reborn, got a suit and tie, and became editor of the WSJ.

    To most people, freedom is the positive control one has over one’s own life, and this includes a degree of economic autonomy. What’s that you say? No one has a “right to” economic autonomy? Well, who has a “right to” anything? Surely you don’t mean natural law, that dubious and nebulous concept whose only subscribers seem to be libertarians and theocrats. Go figure. Surely you don’t mean negative rights, which can’t even deal with the rights of the accused, children, the disabled, and the elderly without resorting to sheepshanks of logical sophistry. (Right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers can be described as a “negative” right. Uh-huh.)

    Oh, and saying that unions are an “unnatural” interference in the free market system naturally entails that the free market system - you know, the one perfectly combines economic and political freedom the way the black and white cookie from Seinfeld perfectly combines chocolate and vanilla - lacks a concept of freedom of association and assembly. But being a wingnut means never concerning oneself over the details.

    If trying to secure economic well-being collectively is not being “personally responsible”, say the gated suburbanites, then how about trying to secure political well-being collectively? Social well-being? Spiritual well-being? Surely, wingnuts are jokers.

    Capitalism has existed for 10,000 years? People who make such claims seem to think that any non-barter economy is a capitalism by definition. How does one go from that to the unaccountable plutocracy that they clamour for? It’s not through any semblance of logic, I can tell you that.

    And here’s another wingnut favourite: if you don’t like Big Corporations, don’t work for one and buy stuff from one. How about, if you don’t like the Big Democratic Government you live under, don’t live in one and don’t cooperate with one? Both arguments have the same merit, if you include zero merit as part of the grading scale.

    Here’s another one. Poor people today in America are better off than poor people a few decades ago. Hey, as long as absolute (and not relative) progress for the poor is the yardstick, every economic system in the history of the world is vindicated, because no matter the extent of the flaws in the structural macroeconomy, technological innovation (which would include colour TV’s) would improve the quality of life. The same technological innovation that would be impossible without publicly funded research in publicly funded institutions.

    “I agree, the Federal Reserve is a banking cartel, but unions are labor cartels.”

    And corporations are capital cartels.

    And finally, to round it all off nicely, there’s the obligatory “consumers are just as ruthless as corporations, given the chance, so corporate power is perfectly okay as is”. While we’re at it, private citizens are just as domineering as governments are, given the chance, so government power is perfectly okay as is. Tool.

    “Henry Ford raised his workers salaries to $5 a day so they could afford his cars.”

    Yes, that’s true Ben, but don’t be surprised how many wingnuts get their innards all buggered to a tight ball over the suggestion that high wages underpin economic prosperity. To them, high wages bring about higher prices to match. This in actual fact would only apply to command economies, and only then in labour-intensive industries, when in reality inflation on the macro level is affected more by supply shocks in capital-intensive industries (you know, since they tend to larger and exert more control over branched levels of economic activity) and currency exchange rates. Structural inflation of the “vicious circle” sort can easily be corrected by induced recessions, that is if wingnuts believed in that sort of stuff.

    But high wages lead to unemployment, don’t they? That’s right, they don’t. Wages and employment move together during the business cycle, which really strains the claim that one adversely affects the other. Really, this is so obvious that nothing but a religious observance of the idea that anything that screws workers is preternaturally good could blind one to it. But history teaches us that willful blindness of one sort or another is the norm, not the exception. Remember the Massachusetts Miracle, when Mickey D’s was offering twice the minimum wage? What was the unemployment rate then? That’s right, wingnuts.

    I’m sorry I couldn’t contribute anything more productive. I’m really interested in the topics under discussion and will be back to say more, but whenever I see the same Randist/Rothbardian crap from the dutiful hordes of the Cheap Labour Brigade, my response is reflexive. I don’t want to give the impression that I venerate big government, as I’m an anarchist at heart and states on the scale of the US Federal Government frankly scare the wits out of me. But more reprehensible still are large, state-sized corporations that are essentially private totalitarianisms. So long as totalitarianism of that scale exists in any sector, in any facet of human life, be it government, business, culture, religion, or family, no one will ever be truly free.

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