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April 5, 2012

What Is the Government?

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Don’t fall for any kind of “public vs. private” scam. These are infinitely mutable terms with no objective content, but which are used only for the purposes of power.*
 
For example, conservatives claim to want small government, but they really want ever bigger, ever more aggressive government. They claim to want less taxation and regulation, but they really want ever more crushing taxation and regulation. It’s just that they want government to function only as bagman and goon for the 1%, and want all taxation and regulation to be of, by, and for the 1%. Their favorite mechanism is to shift power from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations.
 
But corporations are nothing but artificial extensions of the government. Government artificially creates them in order to shift government power to them. The nominally public entity then serves as bagman and goon for its private extension. But everything remains one holism of power and aggression. Taxation is taxation, whether imposed by the nominal public entity or the nominal private one (for example, banks charging us for access to what should be our sovereign money; similarly, there’s no difference between a public park or private club charging admission fees – both are charging we the people for access to our land and recreation). In the same way, regulation is regulation. For Monsanto to force farmers to buy stacked genes they don’t want in order to get the one they do, or for banks or telecoms to force one to accept all sorts of pricey ornaments and gotcha fees in order to gain basic service, is the same as the government forcing us to jump through every kind of hoop in order to also gain its allegedly necessary services.
 
The best way to cut through all the lies is to ignore the words “public” and “private” and instead simply see where power is concentrated. There, by definition, is the government. Anyone who wants power to concentrate anywhere wants big aggressive government. Anyone who wants any kind of centralized, top-heavy hierarchy wants big aggressive government.
 
*Other examples of these might-makes-right mutabilities: Capitalism, property, constitution, jurisprudence, law, contracts, rights, free trade/protectionism, competition, journalism. This list is not exhaustive.

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March 5, 2012

The Struggle of Vernon Hershberger and Food Sovereignty

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The “Food Safety” regime is a gaggle of perps who fit the description of cowardly bullies in every way.
 
For example, their goal is to enforce the total criminalization of milk, legalizing only pasteurized corporate milk product. They proclaimed in principle their prerogative to arrest and prosecute people for possessing and consuming real milk.
 

In its March 16 response to the judge’s questions, FDA took the position that “a person who purchases unpasteurized milk in one state with the intent to take it to another state (either for personal use or to distribute to others) is engaging in interstate commerce.” As for consumers who cross state lines intending to take raw milk back home for personal use, FDA stated that it “has never sought to bring an enforcement action against a person because he or she crossed a state boundary to purchase and return with raw milk solely for his or her own use, and FDA has no present intent to bring an action against such a person in the future. Nevertheless…the hypothetical interstate traveler in this example would have ‘caused’ raw milk ‘to be delivered into interstate commerce’ in violation of 21 C.F.R. §1240.61.

 
But in practice they’ve steered clear of such inflammatory action. And when directly defied by the Raw Milk Freedom Riders, the thugs backed down and publicly declared they had no intention of persecuting individual milk drinkers. (This was a fine example of direct action accomplishing what “channels” had failed to accomplish and could never accomplish.)
 
Instead, the battle plan is to attack the dairy farmers. The strategy is to target them and shut them down one at a time, in the process generating enough of an atmosphere of intimidation and fear that the rest will give up. Targeted persecution has already claimed at least one scalp, that of Pennsylvania Amish dairyman Dan Allgyer. So far I haven’t heard of any farmers shutting down on their own, though.
 
While we can’t criticize individual farmers for doing what they feel they need to do, we do know that we need as many farmers and milk drinkers as possible to defy this assault and refuse to knuckle under.
 
That’s why the struggle of Vernon Hershberger is so important and deserving of support. Here’s one of the targeted farmers refusing to comply, directly defiant, refusing to give up. Although under indictment for selling milk in defiance of Wisconsin bureaucratic fiat and free on bail under conditions forbidding him to continue producing milk, he has continued to supply his customers.*
 
[*If you go to milk blogs like David Gumpert's The Complete Patient, you'll find lots of discussion of the technical contractual nature of the operations of Hershberger and others, how these are purely private contracts beyond state purview, etc. While this sometimes may be important in the courtroom (in practice it seldom seems to be; judges decide according to their pro-corporate prejudices, or, rarely, their lack of such prejudice), it's a technical detail from the point of view of Food Sovereignty principle. Our principle is our right to produce and eat the foods of our choice. The corporate/government system has no right to interfere, period. To get mired in technicalities, as a matter of principle, is at least implicitly to concede that in some contexts the system has any authority or legitimacy whatsoever, as long as they're punctilious about the right procedure.]
 
Hershberger, now slated to go on trial September 25th, just won a round in court. The judge, with some asperity, refused the prosecution’s demand that Hershberger’s bail be revoked on account of his continuing to supply his customers with milk. This does indeed flout the conditions of his bail, and Hershberger openly declares that he revokes his previous agreement and will continue his civil disobedience.
 

If our farm stopped feeding its owners’ families, there will be literally hundreds of children who will suffer malnutrition and even starvation. Your honor, I would much rather spend the rest of my life behind bars or even die than to be found guilty of such a gross sin before the Almighty God.

I am proud of what I am doing. There is nothing wrong with peacefully providing food to members of my community who want it. The state might put me in jail, but they cannot stop people from feeding their neighbors.

 
Nevertheless the judge let him go, albeit with new warnings. Hershberger says he’ll continue on his course of action. Hundreds in Wisconsin are rallying to his cause, assembling at the courthouse and heading over to the farm to help out and to bear witness.
 
Upon leaving the courthouse, Hershberger was the first to sign a new document, the Declaration of Food Independence.
 
Unfortunately, this document is wrongly conceived. We see the problem in the first clause.
 

In a spirit of humility and with respect for both the just law of the land and Natural Law, we declare that, inherent in every individual is the God-given right to procure the food of one’s choice from consenting farmers and producers.

 
The first principle of Food Sovereignty is that we the people have the right to grow and produce our own food. Only second to that, where we choose not to or cannot produce for ourselves, do we come to the right to procure food from the farmer of our choice.
 
This distinction is critical for economic and political democracy, since democracy requires that we abolish and transcend the artificial dichotomy of producer vs. consumer. This dichotomy is the basis of every kind of economic tyranny. The Declaration clause as written remains mired in this false dichotomy, and therefore leaves the door open for all sorts of “co-existence” with corporate and government concepts, structures, and thug mechanisms. (It’s also incoherent to say we have a “god-given right” to buy food wherever we want, but not to grow it ourselves. That would be one strange god.)
 
The problem for many of these people is that real food rights like that to grow our own food imply the right of access to the land to grow food. In its strong form, Food Sovereignty means only those who grow food or are otherwise productive have any right to be on the land at all. In other words, it would overthrow the existing regime of property in land. (Which would be in accord with John Locke’s original labor theory of property. But the whole practice of Western practical system ideology, starting with the later, well-invested Locke himself, has been to flout the productive principle in favor of parasites. Food Sovereignty, and economic democracy in broad form, would purge all parasites from the earth.)
 
 

January 10, 2012

Raw Milk, Decriminalization/Legalization, Public/Private, Property

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After a year’s journey through the New Jersey legislative process including a 71 to 6 passage in the Assembly last spring, the raw milk partial decriminalization bill was allowed to die on the vine at the end of the Senate’s session this week. Big Dairy was putting pressure on key senators throughout the process. It looks like their failsafe all along was to prevent a Senate vote, and that they succeeded in this. Now the process needs to start all over again.
 
I doubt I need to tell the readers of this blog how this is a perfect example of the futility of “working within the system” and expecting “reform”. If I were still inclined to let myself get angry about stuff like this, I’d want to use a copy of the senate register to crack the skull of the next person I see lecturing us about “voting” and “getting the law changed”. It’s long been impossible to be aware of current events and not see how this is a kleptocracy where the only system action will be to further gut what’s left of society and further entrench organized crime. Just look at the work of the NJ senate here as a typical example, and you’ll see how there were plenty of bills passed, all of them worthless, most of them destructive.
 
Sure enough, there was plenty of time for votes on gutting water protections, urban school privatization, and extending legalized gambling. With “privatization” and “legalization” we see two typical elements of corporatism.
 
I wouldn’t mind seeing gambling decriminalized, but I don’t want it legalized as a state-sanctioned numbers racket or betting parlor. In this form gambling is a far worse scourge on the community than if it were merely neutral from the point of view of the law. Worst is how the ubiquity of gambling propaganda helps entrench the something-for-nothing desperation of the culture. Legalized gambling is the biggest part of what the finance sector does. Derivatives, securitization, credit default swaps, currency and commodity speculation are all such back-alley bets enshrined as state-enforced and media-exalted “contracts”. A sincere and non-cowardly reformist would demand nothing less than one big bucket law to de-legalize these, outlaw them in the technical sense of placing them outside the law. Without government thug backing for these phony contracts, the finance tyranny would collapse immediately. That’s just one way in which the banksters would cease to exist without massive government interference in the market.
 
The fact is that you can’t legalize unnatural things according to some ivory tower ideal and then expect their artificial reality to conform to the fictive notion. I’ve written before about how property is a good example of this legalization scam. True believers in property rights like Hernando de Soto expect the state to enshrine and enforce this fiction, and are then dismayed to see the concept and practice deployed in typical Might Makes Right fashion. But it should be obvious that property, just like representation, law, and rights themselves where these are developed, elaborated, administered, and enforced by a centralized system dominated by obscenely concentrated wealth, will exist in all these ways only as a weapon on behalf of the 1%. It cannot exist otherwise. If something doesn’t exist in nature, and is fabricated by an aggressive interest system, then it will never exist other than as the weapon of that interest. Nothing outside nature “is”. Everything is always on a vector. To expect these fictive legalizations to exist on anything but a class war vector is delusional.
 
Meanwhile, if the 99% abolishes the system as such, all these vectors disappear, as well as the fraudulent rationales for the fictions.
 
That’s a good example of how the decriminalization vs. legalization distinction is usually intertwined with the scam distinction of “public vs. private”. In a corporatist system (and all large structures inherently tend toward corporatism), there is no such distinction in substance. Government and private rackets comprise one whole, with the former serving as thug and bagman to the latter. The ornamental fictions “public” and “private” are merely a typical pretext for empty divisive propaganda, to artificially divide people into corporate tribes and set them against one another.
 
Meanwhile “privatize” doesn’t mean what the English language might cause you to think. It doesn’t mean the private sector takes on the costs, risks, responsibilities, and rewards. No, the risks and responsibilities remain with the taxpayer. The costs are covered by corporate welfare. The only thing that changes is that a private corporation now gets to steal directly from the government system, while this incorrigibly criminal system becomes even more corrupt.
 
To take the example of the schools, you either maintain the system schools or you don’t, but the alleged public-private distinction is a scam. I want community schooling and support home schooling. I’d like to see the abolition of the system schools. But the worst of all worlds is to maintain the system schools but “privatize” them. This maintains and aggravates everything that’s bad about them, while adding new racketeering pathologies and cons. (I saw that the Republican thug Santorum was involved in a typically sordid “charter school” rip-off. As usual, none of these thieves is going to prison, because such crimes are the proper use of privatization, not at all an “abuse” the way liberals would claim.)
 
 

October 4, 2011

Colorado, Cantaloupes, CAFOs, and Property

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A few days ago I described how “property” is a creation of the government and therefore always will be viewed by the government in an instrumental, i.e. pro-corporate, way. Your rights here like everywhere else will extend only as far as is convenient for the big corporate prerogative. This fact of corporatism has been on public display in the government’s war on raw milk, which is the template for a broader war on food freedom in general.
 
I mentioned how this Humpty Dumpty interpretation of property operates in tandem with the complete Orwellian inversion of the Constitution itself.
 

But for the time being we can formulate a transitional doctrine to accompany our constitutionalism. The right view is that the Constitution must be interpreted strictly where it comes to government/corporate power, loosely where it comes to the power and liberty of the people. This is truly its Original Intent, as is made clear by the original philosophy of the American Revolution.

Similarly, since “property” could only ever be valid if it referred to the rights of real people living and working within a community, so it follows that if we’re to recognize property rights at all our priority must be rights that involve constitutional liberties, rights that involve local/regional business and residence, rights that involve actual work and eating. Meanwhile the concentrated “property” of the alien rich shouldn’t be respected at all. Corporations, not being persons, can’t own property in the first place.

 
I quoted from the FDA’s brief in one of the raw milk freedom lawsuits pending against it. But I didn’t give the quote which most clearly crystallizes this inversion:
 

5. FDA’s Regulations Rationally Advance the Agency’s Public Health
Mission.

Because the interests asserted by plaintiffs are not fundamental rights, FDA’s
regulations are not subject to strict scrutiny. Instead, plaintiffs have the burden of
showing that the regulations do not bear a rational relationship to legitimate
governmental interests.

 
As I remarked in one of my food tyranny posts discussing this brief:
 

It’s not we the people who have to prove the government is wrong, but the government, in theory our “public servant”, which has to prove it is correct in any given case. But that inversion of truth and lie, morality and immorality, is all too typical of today’s kleptocratic government.

 
In this Wisconsin case it’s the state thuglets walking point for the feds. This is a common pattern. I previously mentioned a Colorado assault whose constitutional logic seems to have been received from the top down.
 

Patti Klocker, assistant director for the Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability for the Colorado DPHE, told me, “A number of things were going wrong here (at Haynes’ stores), so we did collaborate on this” with county public health authorities in going after Haynes.
As for Erickson’s raw dairy, she said Colorado’s law allowing cow share operations only sanctions fluid milk. “It does not allow access to raw milk products.” She said three dairies have been asked to “please discontinue this practice” of making other raw dairy products available to their shareholders.

 
Hmm, Colorado, Colorado, that rings a bell. Oh yes, Colorado was the geographical origin of a recent deadly outbreak of food contamination. The vector was cantaloupes. But what was the source? Everyone’s playing dumb so far, but our attention is immediately drawn to the fact that Prowers County, the location of Jensen Farms to which the outbreak has been traced so far, has an “extreme” concentration of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
 

“Filthy runoff from confinement operations can contaminate water used in irrigating crops,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “We hope that public health officials will include irrigation water and waste water lagoons in their investigations of this tragic outbreak.”

 
This is the most likely source of the pathogen, just as CAFOs have been the source for innumerable previous outbreaks. (We’ll see how interested the food police are in tracing the source prior to Jensen.) If so, as I’ve said many times, the executives, major shareholders, government flunkeys and media and academic flacks are all guilty of murder. And I remind again that it’s not a question of “if” but of when a CAFO shall be the source of a lethal pandemic.
 
So does that mean the license (AKA “freedom”) and “property rights” of these operations will immediately be revoked by a sane society acting in clear self-defense? Don’t answer that.
 
Meanwhile, will those who refuse to take action here at least have enough shame to leave off their assaults on the freedom and rights of innocent and benevolent raw milk producers and drinkers? We can guess the answer to that one too.
 
I hope this example makes clear what I mean when I say that “rights” including property rights, and “freedom” in general, are just infinitely malleable empty words in the hands of a government which is run completely by a small extension of itself, corporations. I hope this makes clear that no freedom and no rights can have any real existence at all for as long as corporatism exists. It’s a zero-sum war between them.
 
(BTW, Colorado was also an original proving ground for fracking, another ongoing lesson in corporate power and what “rights” truly mean in the face of power.)
 

October 1, 2011

Property and Raw Milk

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Although the US system keeps claiming that a “right to property” is one of its fundamental values, in practice this is another class-based scam, just like every other “value”. Just like with everything else, an alleged right to property refers only to the property and prerogatives of the rich and big corporations. The property rights of the non-rich are cited only for propaganda purposes, but these are assaulted by Big Property on a daily basis.
 
This class war property doctrine was formally enshrined in the SCOTUS’ Kelo decision, and it’s been enhanced since then.
 
One battlefront most relevant for the food movement is the government’s War on Raw Milk on behalf of Big Dairy. (But see also the commerce clause issue, with Obama’s Stamp Mandate seeking to break new “constitutional” ground. This too is highly relevant for food, as I explain in those posts.)
 
A lawsuit by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) has already goaded the FDA into the following declaration of intent:
 

a. There is No Right to Consume or Feed Children Any Particular Food
b. There is No Generalized Right to Bodily and Physical Health
c. There is No Fundamental Right to Freedom of Contract

 
Now an FTCLDF-assisted suit in Wisconsin has caused a judge to issue a ruling expressing the official elite view of property rights:
 

(1) Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;

(2) Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;

(3) Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer;

(4) The Zinniker Plaintiffs’ private contract does not fall outside the scope of the States’ police power;

(5) Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice;

(6) DATCP [Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection] . . . had jurisdiction to regulate the Zinniker Plaintiffs’ conduct.

 
The judge was guided by the FDA’s declaration.
 
What this and the FDA’s brief (and I’m sure the examples could be multiplied) really mean is an admission that “property” is nothing but what the government says it is, that it’s an artificial creation of government, and that in practice government will always make property right enforcement a priority only where it comes to the property of big corporations and the rich. (Could you imagine any government bureaucracy or judge stating in principle that the rich don’t have absolute property rights? Even if by some aberration they were going to rule against the bigger interest, they’d do so on some far more narrow ground.)
 
Most of all, wherever there’s a clash of property rights the bigger dog will always win. That’s what Kelo was all about. It’s straight Might Makes Right.
 
We see how the very existence of property concentrations causes government to act ever more tyrannically, which is no surprise since the core function of government is to create and enforce propertarianism. Without government there would be no such thing as property, and without property we wouldn’t need government. (Once again we see the basic incoherence of the “small government” ideologues. “I want small government except for all the other things I want which have to mean big, aggressive government. So I really want big, aggressive government!”)
 
(But for the time being we can formulate a transitional doctrine to accompany our constitutionalism. The right view is that the Constitution must be interpreted strictly where it comes to government/corporate power, loosely where it comes to the power and liberty of the people. This is truly its Original Intent, as is made clear by the original philosophy of the American Revolution.
 
Similarly, since “property” could only ever be valid if it referred to the rights of real people living and working within a community, so it follows that if we’re to recognize property rights at all our priority must be rights that involve constitutional liberties, rights that involve local/regional business and residence, rights that involve actual work and eating. Meanwhile the concentrated “property” of the alien rich shouldn’t be respected at all. Corporations, not being persons, can’t own property in the first place.)
 
The fact is that, just as smaller organizations and businesses would be better off if the corporate form didn’t exist at all, so we the non-rich people would be better off if propertarianism ceased to exist, and was instead replaced by useful possession rights on an autonomous and cooperative basis. As things are, small corporations will always exist only at the whim of big ones, and small property will exist only at the whim of big property. But if corporations and property ceased to exist, then big structures of every sort would cease to exist, while naturally-sized structures would prosper and flourish in freedom.
 
If someone’s coming at you with an automatic rifle and all you have is a Derringer, I suppose you’re “better off” than if you had nothing. But you’d be much better off if neither of you had any firearm.

August 17, 2011

MMT Housekeeping (The Lost NC Comments)

Filed under: Reformism Can't Work, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , , — Russ @ 1:49 am

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Sorry to indulge myself, but blogger’s prerogative, reasons of state, force majeure and all:
 
It’s insufferable when NC goes haywire and absolutely refuses to post a comment (and no one ever plucks it out of moderation limbo, where I know this one was). And it’s never what I consider a throwaway comment, but one I consider worthwhile, in this case about the proper use of MMT.
 
Replying to this comment (my other comments are there in the thread) :
 
 

addictedsays:

Except NYT commenters (and readers) DONT know the basics of MMT (and if they did, then this blog post wouldn’t even be necessary). Again, there are a set of regular commenters, who would essentially post the same comment on every blog post of his, nearly every time, claiming, as Krugman states, that deficits don’t matter, without the inflationary qualifier.

But either way, your comment “No matter how much everyone involved knows the basics of a point, unless its advocate explicates each and every one of those basics in each and every comment, its detractor is justified in claiming he doesn’t imply the omitted basics” applies to Yves’ blog post equally.

Bottom line is that Krugman, in this instance (he may have on other instances), wasn’t mischaracterizing MMT. He was correctly characterizing the position explicated multiple times, by “MMT types” in his comments.***

My reply:

Maybe we’re talking about a different line of argument. The fact is, deficits don’t matter, period. And everyone knows it.
 
Can you name anyone whose actions indicate he believes deficits matter? Certainly no one in government or the political class, who all advocate ever-bigger government and ever-bigger deficits, but only for corporate welfare.
 
The “deficits matter” Big Lie is only trotted out to give a pretext for gutting public interest spending. So “deficits matter” is only asserted by deficit terrorists who don’t actually believe it, but are merely lying as part of a political attack.
 
So perhaps these commenters you refer to are merely using MMT to bolster a broader argument. (And why not? Shouldn’t MMT serve some constructive purpose instead of just fueling the fantasies of unreconstructed statists?)
 
Or perhaps, on the contrary, they’re pro-banksters who are merely slandering the MMT idea by intentionally misrepresenting it. (In which case, why would Krugman go along with this sham rather than counterattack it? Unless he actually agreed with it.)
 
Either way, I stand by my initial assessment that the commenters know the basics, and Krugman knows they know.
 
***
 
Same thing next day, this thread.
 
 
My comment quoted part of someone else’s comment to which I was replying:
 
“in MMT we behold yet another ideological motif in the political tendency known as bourgeois reformism, which claims that the evils of capitalism can be mitigated or done away with altogether while keeping intact the rule of capitalism as a system.”
 
Yes, that’s evidently the MMTer psychology. The “theory” is really just a vehicle of unreconstructed statist fantasies. Fantasies of “good government” and so on. It’s another way of zombifying faith in “better elites”. It’s another Special Case economics.
 
But in practice, what they really picture happening or actually propose always falls far, far short of the soaring theoretical potentialities (for example, taken to its logical consummation, MMT is inherently anti-propertarian). Their indelible reformist meagerness comes through in things like proposed “Jobs Guarantees” which would guarantee only minimum wage makework which scrupulously avoids competing with the private sector.
 
Such picayune proposals demonstrate how MMTers are really the same old craven reformists in practice, who merely want to dress up their paucity with a highfalutin “theory”. Show me an MMTer who openly says that MMT means the store of value function is illegitimate, from which it follows that all hoarded property is illegitimate, and that policy should follow from that truth, and I’d say now we’re cooking. But I won’t hold my breath.
 
Any constructive use of the MMT idea will come independently of, and probably counter to, the intentions of the establishment MMTers themselves. But “MMT” as a pseudo-radicalism which will always be used to herd people back toward paltry reformism is a pernicious thing.

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