no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

The 1% on the Defensive

December 20th, 2011

I read an article at Bloomberg today which at first I mistook for some satire piece from The Onion. But then I realized that it wasn’t funny. It seems the nation’s billionaires are joining forces to gripe about their perceived persecution by the “imbecilic” Occupy movement. I’ve responded to some choice quotes below the fold.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The 1% Create Jobs

The official unemployment rate is still hovering around 9% which is double what is ordinarily considered healthy, and I’m pretty sure the actual unemployment rate is more like 15% or higher.  Even with these facts in the headlines every day, some of the 1% have the audacity to play the “job creation” card.

“It’s simply a fact that pretty much all the private- sector jobs in America are created by the decisions of ‘the 1 percent’ to hire and invest.” — Robert Rosenkranz, CEO of Wilmington, Delaware-based Delphi Financial Group Inc.

In other words, “We are responsible for the fate of the economy. Don’t villainize us for the economy’s fate. We are responsible for the fate of the economy!” And thus the ridiculosity of Orwellian newspeak reaches a new zenith.  If the 1% create jobs, and as we all know they are making something like 6 to 6,000 times the national median income, then there really is no excuse for a 15% unemployment rate? Why aren’t they creating more jobs?

Blame the Rich!

Wealth doesn’t make you a bad person. I’m not going to object to that. But still, it is virtually impossible for a good person to make 1% fuck-you-money on merit alone. You’ve got to be willing to lie, cheat and steal to “succeed” in this game because those are the rules.

“Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it.” — Jamie Dimon (the highest-paid chief executive officer among the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks)

“Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive.” —John A. Allison IV, a director of BB&T Corp

As members of the most politically privilged oligopoly in the history of mankind, a private banking cartel which creates nothing but debt, and which profits from indenture, inflation, and seignorage, you are not rich you’re filthy rich from stolen money. It is quite likely that you have never “created” anything in your adult life, and even those products of others’ labor for which you may claim responsibility (as a financier), for each of those ventures you “enabled” or made possible with Monopoly Money, there were dozens more which were excluded from the system of privilege.

Tax the Rich!

But it seems there is some infighting going on, though, as others like that hypocrite Warren Buffet, or Nick Hanauer who’s $6B nest egg was enabled by Microsoft’s patent and intellectual property trolls, argue that,

“Rich businesspeople … don’t create jobs.” Instead, Hanaur says, “Let’s tax the rich like we once did and use that money to spur growth.”

Except that there is not one shred of evidence that backs up this ludicrous claim. The baby-boom era’s “productivity”, about which many wax nostalgic, was made possible only by exploiting the third world in order to make up for 50 years of total warfare that ravaged most of the world. This is the Broken Window Fallacy (link to a summary, but I do encourage you to read the full text) on an existential scale, but the lesson is the same: You know what would be better than re-building a bridge? NOT BLOWING IT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.

And this does not even attempt to account for the value of the ~200 million (or more) human lives expended during last century’s conflicts which can never be replaced.

Skin in the Game

The idea that lower-income households, who pay no Federal income tax, have no “skin in the game” is absurd. The only reason I mention it is because it is so wrong that I can’t ignore it.

“You have to have skin in the game, I’m not saying how much people should [pay in federal income taxes]. But we should all be part of the system.” — Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group LP , when asked about lower-income U.S. households who pay no income taxes.

This is simply blaming the victim for his plight, like the argument that the poor are lazy and un-industrious, not motivated, dumb, or incompetent. In other words, it is not bad enough that the system has utterly failed these people, no, they should have to contribute their “fair share” as well.

There is an entire movement of people who hate you.  Wake the fuck up.

Occupy Protests: Responding to Tea Party Smear Campaign

November 20th, 2011

Responding to some of the attempts to smear the Occupy movement by making ridiculous comparisons to the Tea Party…

It is unfair and intellectually lazy post hoc ergo propter hoc to conclude that all crimes occurring in the vicinity of a protest are inextricably linked to the protest, or ideologically the protesters do not oppose these crimes, or all protesters are criminals like this, etc. Some are crimes of opportunity. I’m not trying to suggest they are excusable, but whenever you have large numbers of people congregating, it presents an opportunity that miscreants may take advantage of (e.g., indecent exposure, theft, etc.).

As for the more serious claims like the 4,000 arrests, the “white house shooter”, $10M worth of damage, and murder, need a little more information. You will have to go through the trouble of manually typing the URLs because the source does not embed them.

  1. Reports on the shooting death of Berkely student say “University police said there is no indication that the incident was related to a day of rallies at Berkeley linked to anti-Wall Street protests.”
  2. The white house shooting article cited in this source indicates that “Police believe Ortega-Hernandez is mentally ill. ” and only that he “may have spent time with” the protesters.
  3. The cited story for the claimed “10 million dollars” damage due to arson says this: Arrest papers available to the public do not connect Occupy Fort Collins to the arson fires, and police made no connection between the group’s protest and Gilmore’s arrest. Organizers could not immediately be reached for comment on Gilmore.
  4. And as for the 4,000 arrests… as I’ve noted before it is not uncommon where large groups congregate in protest for people to be arrested en masse. I theorized why the Tea Party has not been subject to the same sort of scrutiny, but in any event it should be noted that “arrests” are a fake statistic. Pay attention over the weeks and months to come, how many of these 4,000 are actually going to be prosecuted? How many of them will actually be found guilty? The number will be considerably smaller than 4,000.

Further, even if some of these incidents can be pinned on an individual who is supportive of OWS, it is neither fair or accurate to suggest or imply that these outliers are representative of the total OWS population.

The link also suggests that exactly zero tea partiers have committed such crimes. Although it may be verifiable that no protesters (in the act of protest) have committed any such crimes, it is statistically improbably to suggest that no tea partiers, anywhere, ever, have been involved in any criminal act up to and including murder, rape, arson, theft, etc.

And for some additional context, the Tea Party is essentially for preserving existing property relations up to and including gross inequality under (what I believe to be ) a mistaken or incomplete understanding of free market fundamentals. The Tea Party idea that “We just want to keep what we have earned whereas the Occupy protesters want government handouts” is a made-for-TV-pundits talking point, in other words, it is a false dichotomy and demonstrably untrue for many of the people involved in the OWS protests.

And their form of political protest is different – if you can even call it protest. They are not a threat, so the media and the establishment has no need to vilify them by propaganda or provoke them in to making tactical mistakes.

 

Why Are So Many Occupy Protesters Being Arrested?

November 7th, 2011

Several times in the last week I have seen people compare the OWS protesters (unfavorably) to the Tea Party.  The argument is something like, “How come none of the Tea Partiers ever get arrested even when a guy shows up with a rifle on the Capitol steps? Compare this to OWS where the protesters are being arrested everywhere and in large numbers!”

I don’t know how many Tea Partiers have been arrested. Maybe it is zero. So what?

Protesters being arrested in Atlanta

Protesters being arrested in Atlanta

It is an unsubstantiated question-begging attempt to vilify OWS:  they are criminals because they have been arrested, therefore, disassociate. Notice the blind deference to prevailing ruling class attitudes, questioning neither the legitimacy of the arrests, nor the merits of the protests (I would expect any group seeking real change to consider these factors).

I’ll leave the merits of the protests, these have been covered amply by others. As for the arrests, there are two main reasons why the State arrests people.

  • They are a threat to others (rapists, murderers, robbers, and a great deal of victimless crimes which the state lumps in this category)
  • They are a threat to the State’s existing power relations

First and foremost, as long as OWS remains a dynamic grass-roots movement, and as long as they challenge the very legitimacy of the status quo, they remain a political threat, and so they will continue to be persecuted for trying to bring their dissenting opinions to fruition.

Additionally, OWS’s siege-like tactics present the ruling class with a more sustained problem than other political activists like the Tea Party, who’s strategy thus far has been simply to show up, complain for a few hours, and then go back home to the suburbs. The authorities can’t just wait for the protesters to go home at the end of the day because at the end of the day the protesters are not going home! Because the Tea Party is not waging a sustained protest, they don’t require the attention or scrutiny reserved for larger demonstrations like Occupy; as a result there are far fewer opportunities for the police to intervene.

Aside from the question of strategy, at the end of the day most of the Tea Partiers are still essentially pro-establishment and so they are not being arrested because they don’t matter and they don’t matter because the ruling class knows how to exploit and appease an organized political front.

On the other hand, the ruling class does not know how to handle a Hydra like the Occupy movement. If you want things to change, you’d better pray it remains that way.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics