Volatility

December 30, 2010

The Stamp Racket Mandate (part 3)

 

In part 2 of these posts I described how the Stamp mandate is unconstitutional and an affront to the rule of law. My argument assumes belief in democracy and federalism, so that we act as citizens to embody and interpret our own Constitution in its essence and its obvious intent. It’s empirically proven that all elitists are criminals. It’s empirically proven that representative trickle-down pseudo-democracy doesn’t work, and is by now a scam. By definition the Constitution seeks the broadest freedom and welfare of the people. By definition it can’t legitimately be subverted to corporatist ends. That’s why the SCOTUS is illegitimate: because it’s corrupt.
 
The liberal process mentality will never understand, therefore, why the Stamp mandate violates the commerce clause, the necessary and proper clause, the 5th amendment, and most of all the 9th and 10th amendments. (Conservatives also reject the Constitution in all those ways, but I think they’re more likely to be conscious criminals rather than feckless ideologues.)
 
It’s also a poll tax, which the Constitution has already explicitly outlawed. (This had to be done because the liberals’ and conservatives’ own beloved SCOTUS was willing to illegitimately call poll taxes “constitutional”, most recently in 1937.) Anyone who doubts Obama’s bad policy faith and guilty conscience over the constitutionality of this mandate need only look at how during the legislative process he claimed it wasn’t a poll tax, while now in court he claims it is.
 
No one who truly believes in his cause and has great power to achieve it ever obfuscates and lies about its essence this way. Obama’s flip-flop here is smoking gun proof that he consciously regards the mandate as unconstitutional as well as bad from a policy point of view. Otherwise, as leader of the Party with total control over both houses of Congress, he’d proudly affirm his “accomplishment”.
 
Nevertheless, Obama is finally telling the truth for once. This is a poll tax. It’s a radically regressive tax. By now, all taxes on the non-rich are by definition regressive, since all such extractions are conveyed to corporate interests. We know that government does not need taxes for revenue. We know that taxes are only political and redistributive. And we know that under kleptocracy, the redistributive purpose of taxation, every sort, is from the productive people to the parasitic rich.
 
That’s why one of our basic principles and slogans must be: No Taxes on the Non-Rich.
 
So this poll tax is a nasty assault on our already parlous economic position. Consider this anecdote:
 

William Mann of Pittsburgh earns just enough to get by. He is 46, doesn’t own a car, hasn’t taken a vacation in three years and hasn’t had health insurance for most of his adult life.

He is just the kind of person who should benefit from the health care overhaul, and he is, in fact, eligible for heavily subsidized insurance that will cost him an estimated $1,845 a year, while the government contributes about $2,756.
But Mr. Mann says he still can’t afford it. He lives too close to the edge, and won’t be buying insurance, even though he will face a fine under a provision called the individual mandate, which penalizes most Americans who don’t buy coverage starting in 2014. The requirement is one of the most controversial aspects of the overhaul.

 
Subsidies, even if they really did materialize, will not cover the cost of the Stamp. It’ll still be unaffordable for millions who will then be fined for being unable to pay this poll tax.
 
That NYT piece refers to “the choices made by people like Mr. Mann”. I guess according to the NYT if he was denied food he’d “choose” to starve to death as well. It also quotes a Kaiser cadre saying that in Massachusetts people feel bullied into buying what they can’t afford, thinking that if they’re going to be mugged anyway, they might as well buy the Stamp. But these coerced policies don’t provide affordable care. They only extract payments.
 
If the process functions exactly the way astroturfers like Krugman claim, then the mandate will make no difference at all:
 

If you are an individual without employer-provided health insurance that plans to get insurance on the exchange, the existence of the individual mandate (or lack there of) will likely have little or no impact on what you will pay in premiums.

The way the new exchange is designed is as follows:

If you are an individual making less that 400 percent of the federal poverty level, you will qualify for subsidies to help you afford insurance.
The size of your subsidy is based on individual income and the cost of the reference plan, which is the second cheapest, “silver” level plan.
The subsidy is set so that after you pay a certain percentage of your income, the government will pick up all the cost over that.
For example, if you make $26,500 a year, the amount you are required to pay to get the second cheapest silver plan is capped at roughly 7 percent of your income, roughly $2,000. If that reference plan cost $4,000, your subsidy would be $2,000. If that reference plan cost $8,000 your subsidy would be $6,000 and you will still only pay $2,000. To you, the actual cost of premiums for this plan doesn’t matter…..

Rising premiums are government’s budget concern, not that of individuals on the exchange.

What this means is that, for most people on the individual exchanges, how much they pay has very little to do with the actual cost of the premiums. When the White House says removing the individual mandate would increase premiums by 20 percent they are talking about total cost, but that increase would barely affect how much people using the individual exchanges are paying.

 
So mandate or no mandate, the incentive is for the rackets to jack up the price as much as possible since government will allegedly cover the extra cost. Mandate or no mandate, the cost to the low-income Stamp purchaser will be the same, and the total social cost will be the same. So why, if the Democrats were honest about these subsidies, did they add the mandate at all? If they’re honest, then there’s no need for the mandate. They can correct their political mistake and get rid of it.
 
Unless, of course, the real goal of this poll tax, like all other poll taxes, is social control, forced conformity to a centralized monetary system. And the subsidies are never meant to materialize.
 

From a pure dollars-and-cents point of view, it is cheaper for people just to pay the penalty. Even when fully implemented in 2016, the penalty is limited to no more than 2.5 percent of taxable income, and it starts out even lower, with a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of income in 2014.

 
The NYT itself admits that it’s economically rational to refuse to buy the Stamp, even if one had to pay the extortion penalty. (So the NYT implicitly admits that the health insurance rackets shouldn’t exist at all, since even paying a penalty for nothing is still more rational than buying this worthless “policy”.)
 
(Is there any reason to think the subsidies actually will render care affordable? Not according to the affordability of existing COBRA subsidies. No matter where you look, the existence of the insurance rackets is a pure evil and a traitor to civilization, if the concept of civilization includes decent medical care for the people who make up a society. Support for this bill, or even arguing about it, is evil.)
 
So we see how the Stamp mandate is a poll tax and, to use a redundant term, a regressive tax (since all taxes on the non-rich are regressive and only meant for social control and upward redistribution). We add that to its unconstitutionality, the fact that health insurance doesn’t work, and the fact that the bill further entrenches corporate tyranny. Putting these together, we see how this poll tax is an odious tax and an odious extension of corporatist government power which must be resisted. In my conclusion, which I’ll post sometime next week, I’ll cite examples of where an enacted poll tax was successfully fought and destroyed.
Advertisements

December 29, 2010

The Stamp Racket Mandate (Part 2)

 

In part 1 of this post I offered two reasons why we should resist the Stamp racket mandate: That the whole policy further entrenches corporate tyranny, and that profiteering health insurance is a proven failure in ways this policy doesn’t even try to rectify. Nor could it even if it did try, because health insurance is incoherent in principle. It makes sense only if society’s goal for its health care system is not to provide good care for as many people as possible, but to provide the occasion for racketeers to extract a parasitic rent. Only in that way does it make sense, and this is in fact the intention of Obamacare, to preserve and intensify this rent.
 
Today I move on to the third reason, in case anyone needed another: The mandate is unconstitutional. So if one doesn’t care about tyranny as such, nor about an irremediably broken system, but still does care about constitutionality and the rule of law, here’s your reason to reject and resist. Then in part 3 I’ll carry over the constitutional discussion to the fact that even Obama is now calling this a poll tax, something which has already been found unconstitutional. From that introduction of the tax concept I’ll move on to reason four to reject and resist – the mandate is an unconscionably regressive tax and policy in general. Economically, it’s a reactionary assault on the people on behalf of yet another racket just at the time we’re already reeling from the devastation wrought by the banks. I’ll conclude with a discussion of prior successful fights against poll taxes.
 
If this Stamp mandate stands, if it’s illegitimately ruled “constitutional” (as two corrupt judges already have, while one has ruled the opposite), there will be literally no limit on the government’s being able to arbitrarily define the legitimate limits of a market and then require the purchase of a private product.
 
What we see in the two pro-mandate rulings is the doctrine of a pre-constitutional market. Congress has arbitrarily set up this pseudo-market based on private health insurance. It first gave the insurance rackets an antitrust exemption and rigged the market in other ways. Then, when this “market” failed badly enough that a critical mass of people were rationally (and with full moral justification) choosing not to participate in this corrupt market, Obama and the Democrats passed this Republican-designed bailout bill in order to force participation. (Starting in January, the Reps will become full partners and co-owners when they refuse to repeal it. I look forward to seeing how rebellious against the Reps these tea partiers become at that point.) In effect, this bill was designed to extend the antitrust exemption against non-participation as well.
 
I earlier wrote an extended analysis of the first ruling, describing in detail all its fallacies and policy malevolence.
 
It could be argued that a health care market does have to exist, and we are all necessarily participants in it. But the health insurance “market” doesn’t have to exist at all. It’s a completely gratuitous creation of the government, and in this case, contrary to the judge’s explicit lie, it is specifically a “market created by Congress”.
 
That’s a bizarre jurisprudence: The government can arbitrarily create an irrational, inequitable market and declare by fiat that everyone has to participate, and all of that is beyond the Constitution’s purview.
 
Instead, the Constitution is simply instrumental toward enforcing the arbitrary markets created by government, and from that perspective a mandate to participate is valid. This is the doctrine which will be enshrined if the mandate stands: The pre-constitutional command economy fiat power of the legislative, and perhaps executive, branch. Looking at the judges’ lies which depict this artificial command market as a law of nature, we see how the real goal is enshrinement of rule by corporate protection rackets. This is another big step in the de facto privatization of the IRS, its transformation into corporate thug and bagman. The FDA is preparing the same mandates for food.
 
(This is also redolent of the unconstitutionality of Kelo. Eminent domain can be legitimate where the government takes property for a legitimate public purpose. But where the government is nothing but the hired thug of a private interest and seizes property only to hand it over to that interest (who didn’t want to have to buy on the “free” market), that’s clearly illegitimate. But as we saw in that case, the corporatist courts are happy to violate and defile the Constitution on behalf of rich racketeering interests, so it’ll be no surprise if they come up with justifications for a reactionary insurance mandate.)
 
If this mandate is allowed, the Constitution simply becomes nothing but the flunkey of legislative and executive fiat with regard to any command economy measure. They’ll be able to mandate that all purchases have to be done with a bank-issued credit card, for example. Detractors have offered many other examples. According to the logic, the arbitrary fiat is beyond constitutional purview and is automatically, autocratically postulated as legitimate, while the tyrannical application would then follow as legit according to the commerce clause.
 
The anti-constitutional corporatists tip their hand with their constant citation of the rogue case Wickard v. Filburn:
 

But Congress has successfully regulated inactivity, said Professor Tushnet of Harvard. In a famous 1942 case, Wickard v. Filburn, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of federal quotas, meant to support wheat prices, that restricted how much farmers could grow. In the case, Roscoe Filburn grew more wheat than permitted; he argued that the wheat was for his own use.

Professor Tushnet noted that Mr. Filburn’s actions could be described as a failure to purchase wheat in the general market — a situation similar to that of people who do not buy health insurance.

“If the constitutional challenge has any legs, it is on the ground that it is unprecedented — Congress has never done it before,” he said. “Well, it turns out that Congress has done it before.”

 
In citing this vile decision, they inadvertently broadcast their tyrannical intent, since Wickard involved the government’s determination to impose total control on the economy in a time of total war. The only way Wickard could be relevant to today’s situation would be if the real goal is indeed to impose economic tyranny as such, beyond even the profiteering incentives of any particular corporatist policy.
 
Since Wickard itself involved food grown for personal use, the new vogue of this case puts the real intentions of the Food Tyranny bill in a new light.
 
(Is that Harvard scribbler joking when he says that about the “failure to purchase”? Is that a parody of the totalitarian logic, or the real thing? The logic parodies itself by now. If we do something for ourselves, the essence of economic self-determination and the very basis of the movement we must build, we’re actually harming the corporations we should’ve paid to do it for us. We’re guilty of an economic tort and must be held accountable. The government can legitimately restrain us and/or impose upon us.
 
We see the infinite vileness of these traitor swine.)
 
This fight is the latest and most pivotal federalism vs. anti-federalism battleground. The doctrine has actually swung back and forth, with the Rehnquist court even imposing some worthwhile federalist limits.
 

For the last century the Supreme Court has struggled to define the limits of Congress’s interstate-commerce power. In the early decades of the 20th century, the court experimented with a variety of distinctions: Congress could regulate trade but not the manufacturing process (in a child-labor case); Congress could regulate anything that directly affected interstate commerce but not where the effect was indirect (in a labor dispute involving coal miners); Congress could regulate goods in the stream of commerce but not before they entered or after they left that stream (in a ruling on chicken farming).

These distinctions, however, proved unworkable in a time of industrial growth and expanding national markets. And in the 1930s, confronted with the surge of governmental power during the New Deal, the court abandoned them all.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, however, the court took up the project anew. In invalidating a federal gun possession law and the provision of the Violence Against Women Act that allowed victims to sue their attackers, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and his colleagues held that while Congress could regulate local economic behavior because of its national economic effects, Congress could not on the same theory regulate non-economic behavior like possessing a gun or committing an act of violence.

 
So the situation is that we’ve had some tenuous refederalization. (Legitimate federalism means power resides as close to its sovereign basis in the people as possible. Since representative trickle-down pseudo-democracy has been definitively proven a failure, there’s no longer any argument left against direct economic and political democracy. So our path is clear: We must restore true federalism, and we have to do it through our own efforts, from below.) But this partial federalism still exists within the malign framework of Wickard. While in theory this case could lead to the complete overthrow of Wickard, we have to assume this corporatist court will do the opposite – radically extend the already radical doctrine. Perhaps roll back everything the Rehnquist court did.
 
Perhaps the most Kafkaesque part is that even as these judges and the Stamp Act supporters say this mandate falls under the Congress’s “interstate commerce” power, the market is artificially restricted to intrastate buying. If I live in NJ, I can’t legally buy the cheaper policies available in NY.
 

“I actually wish the purchase of health insurance was interstate commerce,” adds New Jersey blogger Chris Wysocki. “True interstate commerce, as in I can buy health insurance from a company that is in another state. Like New York, where the RPI alumni association offers a Blue Cross plan which is 35% cheaper than the … Aetna plan I’m forced to buy here in New Jersey. Oh sure, Blue Cross has a ‘New Jersey’ plan, it’s even more expensive than Aetna. But right over the border there’s that tantalizing ‘New York’ plan, taunting me with its lower premiums and better benefits. True ‘interstate commerce”‘ would mean that I could buy it.”

 
Here we have a complete inversion of reality. What’s explicitly an artificially designed and restricted commerce in reality becomes “interstate commerce” in corporatist jurisprudence.
 
To recap, the government aggressively rigged a command economy pseudo-market in health insurance, an inherently flawed product. This in itself is of questionable constitutionality. It now seeks to mandate participation in this artificial market. This is definitely unconstitutional. The procedure of corrupt jurisprudence here is to implicitly declare the artificial Congressional program a natural fact (although the first decision went further and explicitly lied, proclaiming that “Congress didn’t create this market”). This, along with the depraved and immoral policy argument about “free riders” we already skewered in part one, is meant to toss the mandate issue into the long-raging fray over commerce clause powers, where any bench ideologue can cobble together the rationale for whatever he already was inclined to decide.
 
Meanwhile the anti-mandate decision has a different character.
 

Judge Hudson has presented a way for the court to finally answer this question. His opinion is the first prominent judgment to say that Congress can use its power over interstate commerce only to regulate “activity,” as opposed to a lack of action. This strikes many as a bold assertion, but it has a lot going for it. All of the Supreme Court cases upholding Congress’s power under the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause have involved Congress regulating some kind of activity that is already occurring.

 
This alleged innovation is really common sense, the normal vector of the law, the normal way we live our lives, indeed of the basis laws of the universe – inertia.
 
Since the criminals are so ardent to find a pseudo-constitutional rationale for this obscenity, here’s a suggestion. Why not call the mandate a Letter of Marque, a constitutionally legitimate privateer’s commission issued by Congress? True, in this case it’s been awarded to wage war on the American people themselves. But think of the possibilities! As I said, there’s no limit on the possible mandates. Obamacare is not just the extreme example, but the prototype.

December 27, 2010

The Stamp Racket Mandate (Part 1)

 

The health racket Stamp mandate was crafted by the Republicans (the Heritage Foundation via Romneycare; Obama bragged about this) and enacted by the Democrats. It will never increase actual coverage nor control costs, and was never intended to.
 
“Health insurance” doesn’t even make sense as a concept. The goal of any insurance is to maximize premium extractions and minimize payouts. That can’t possibly work in the case of health care. There’s no possible way you can have a pool based on profiteering which isn’t automatically a conflict of interest between the racket and its customers, between the racket and the public interest.
 
To recap, the bill is:
 
1. A bailout for the insurance rackets. In spite of the antitrust exemption which protects them from market competition (and which explicitly forbids the “interstate commerce” which racket supporters fraudulently claim characterizes this Congressionally commanded “market”), these parasites are increasingly unable to compete with rational and morally justified non-participation.
 
So the bill is a command economy measure which creates a forced market with only one willing participant.
 
It contains no credible restraint on Stamp rates, and isn’t meant to impose any such restraint. On the contrary, it’s meant to use the government power to extort these costs from the people so the insurance rents can continue to exist at all. It’s just like the Bank Bailout, only it’s a direct robbery instead of an indirect one.
 
2. It’s an austerity bill whose goal is to absolve private employers of responsibility for health “insurance” and drive people as atomized individuals into the individual “market”. At the same time government gets to continue to abdicate on its core function responsibility to provide Single Payer.
 
As even the NYT has been steadily documenting (e.g. here and here), this process of corporate exemptions, insurer concession takebacks, and setting up individuals to be driven into the individual market, has been gathering momentum all year. These broken promises constitute the metric of Stamp austerity.
 
So here again, the bill will not control costs and was not intended to. Like ever austerity bill, it’s meant to increase costs while shifting all costs from corporations to the individual.
 
(To the extent any promised benefits of this bill materialize at all, they’ll simply be paid for by jacked-up Stamp premiums across the board. None of this will be cost-free to the people. Nowhere will the rackets have to relinquish one cent of extractions; at worst they’ll shift some of them from the poorest to the somewhat less poor. By design the bill doesn’t require one cent’s worth of contribution from the rackets. On the contrary, it promises to increase their extractions.)
 
This is exactly the outcome Obama wanted, as all the evidence of his state legislative career (where he was already a lackey of the Stamp rackets) to the present day proves.
 
3. The bill is a Poll Tax. Like all poll taxes, its goal is social and economic control. I’ll say more about this in a subsequent post.
 
So we have clarity on how irrational, impractical, and immoral this bill is. It illegitimate props up an irrational, impractical, and immoral system. When we consider the full extent of the policy’s corruption, and the systemic corruption of the entire fraudulent market, we also achieve full moral clarity on the issue.
 
Any individual has the right to refuse to pay this corporate extortion yet still demand necessary health care. If the government has failed to provide Single Payer, that’s its own abdication. Since a profiteering health care market is an automatic market failure, provision of Single Payer is a core government function. That this government refuses to recognize its responsibility is proof of its own illegitimacy. None of this reflects poorly in any way on the individual who has been abandoned and then victimized by a criminal system. On the contrary, anyone who would cast such aspersions is simply a pro-racket criminal himself.
 
Therefore, no one who supports this corporatist bailout bill, or who supports the very existence of the purely parasitic, purely destructive insurance companies, has standing to utter a word about individuals who allegedly free ride or shift costs. The insurance rackets are free riders infinitely worse than all uninsured individuals put together could ever be, while corporate employers and derelict government are the ultimate cost-shifters. Given these facts, to say a word about individuals is automatically to demonstrate one’s bad faith and complete lack of integrity.
 
By definition, anyone who cares about free riding and cost shifting, and reform itself, demands the complete eradication of the Stamp rackets and the institution of Single Payer. Everyone who’s even modestly informed about the issue knows this is the only moral, rational, and practical solution.
 
So the second any hack starts in with any anti-citizen argument (here’s several such swine at the NYT), we should reject him automatically and immediately. His position is a fraud on its face, and he’s clearly nothing but a criminal. That “opinion” has no right to exist.
 
So to recap: The Obama/Republican (Heritage Foundation) bill never intended anything but to:
 
1. Maintain and enhance insurance rent extractions;
 
2. Enable employers to shift their costs onto individuals;
 
3. Enable government to continue to abdicate its core responsibility;
 
4. Force atomized individuals into the individual market, which Obama’s own CBO says will become more expensive;
 
5. Where the government goon will force them to buy worthless “policies”, Stamps.
 
The bill is not designed to control costs and will not do so. It was designed to increase costs, but shift them all onto the individual.
 
Meanwhile the quality of care delivered will continue to deteriorate, since the bill is also not intended to force insurance to provide affordable care. The Massachusetts experience has already proven that.
 
What should we say is the ideological nature of this bill? It’s not classically “liberal”, since it enshrines the abdication of a core government function. But it’s not classically “conservative”, since it does enshrine a massive extension of aggressive government goon power. It’s strangely redolent of economic “libertarianism”, which wants to gut government in all the things a government is supposed to do, while aggressively expanding all its goon and thug dysfunctions. It’s really a radical enshrinement of neoliberal corporatism (which is the same thing as conservatism in practice): Government should be big and aggressive, but only as a corporate deputy. All its actual public functions should cease to exist. It’s classical tyranny, a usurpation. Such a government is clearly nothing but a parasite and a predator, exactly like its corporate masters.
 
So there’s the first reason to reject this bill and refuse to purchase this Stamp: It’s the enshrinement of corporate tyranny.
 
And even if one is a slave by nature who accepts neoliberal ideology and corporate tyranny, health insurance still makes zero sense as a concept. It doesn’t work. (Most people who go bankrupt for medical reasons have insurance.) So there’s the second reason.
 
In part 2 I’ll discuss the third reason, the fact that the Stamp mandate is unconstitutional.

December 24, 2010

What Does the Class War Mean for Research and Development?

 

We have a permanent Depression setting in, the normalization of 20%+ unemployment, and it’s clear that the kleptocracy views the health care system as nothing but a rent extraction machine. The legislated policy is to use the IRS as a strong-arm goon to extort protection money in exchange for a worthless Stamp, while there will be no credible cost controls or realistic regulatory restraints on the health insurance rackets.
 
Under those circumstances, it’s hard to imagine how, for as long as this system endures, the actual care available to the non-rich won’t continue to rapidly deteriorate.
 
So we must ask about something like medically necessary research (publicly subsidized, of course): What difference does any medical advance make if it will increasingly be the monopoly of the predatory rich? In that case, don’t even medical advances become weapons against us? Weapons we pay for, to add insult to injury. Gibbon depicts the plight of conquered people doing forced labor in metal shops, “forced to forge the implements of their own destruction”. Is this the case with all technological R&D by now?
 
Do alleged advances really still advance us? Does the African farmer benefit by being driven off his ancestral land, which is then converted to corporate biofuel production to feed Western cars? No honest person would try to argue that. Yet isn’t that the core logic of neoliberalism, which is increasingly coming home to the West itself? Those same biofuels have been driving up the price of our food for three years now, even as our jobs vanish and the cost of living soars in every other way. Is the ethanol mandate, and the cost it imposes on us, different in kind from the looming health racket mandate? Aren’t all these mandates really the same thing?
 
African agro-imperialism is only a seemingly extreme, but really typical example of how this system allocates its research and the output of this research. None of it is intended to benefit the people. The people are only there to be mined and exploited, or just driven out to die. The only intent, anywhere, is corporate rent extraction. “Profit”. We are those dispossessed tribal farmers. We can see it everywhere already. Their enemies are our enemies. We’ll end up exactly as they are.
 
In the end, all the mid-century liberal advances were fruit of the cheap oil surplus. With Peak Oil, that period has come to an end. That’s part of why in the 1970s the power structure switched over from normal exploitation, which could include the concessions* that enabled the rise of a mass middle class, to neoliberal kleptocracy, through which those concessions have been rolled back and that middle class is being liquidated.
 
So everything has changed politically. The kleptocratic process is intended to be terminal toward the the restoration of feudalism. 
 
[*I use the word concession with deliberation. Liberalism, as an elitist trickle-down ideology, never contested the right of predatory elites to steal the labor and produce of the productive people. At its best, what liberalism did was beg for some concessions to be trickled back down. Today it no longer even does that.]
 
At the same time, physical resource limits are imposing a great change, the end of “growth”. A different way of putting what I said above is that it was easier for the corporatists to concede more wealth equality when the pie was growing thanks to cheap, plentiful oil. But now that the pie must contract, and the oil surplus recede, we’re headed back to history’s normal economic course, the course prior to the drawdown of the fossil fuel principal.
 
It’s up to us whether we let ourselves be driven back into serfdom, or whether we take all we’ve learned from the Oil Age, politically and economically, and use it to build a wiser, more prosperous world.
 
That requires the relentless fight against corporatism on every possible front. This fight must supersede all other concerns, since the progress of the fight dictates the status of those concerns. Even issues which are ambiguous in themselves will often become clear once placed in the corporate war context. We have to oppose the redistribution of wealth upward in all its forms, including the use of public money for alleged social goods which will really be rationed by ability to pay in an extremely wealth-concentrated environment.
 
When I say “fight” I’m thinking of the likelihood that it’s far more possible to block bad government actions than to induce it to perform good ones. I’ve long considered the latter impossible, and that it’s a waste of effort to beg the system for the good. But maybe it’s still possible for citizen pressure and resistance to block some of the bad. On that front, we have to be obstructionists wherever possible.
 
We can no longer afford to contemplate the intrinsic ambivalence of things. The struggle against corporatism and for direct democracy dictates most positions out of its own imperatives. Few things now are significant in themselves.
 
So that’s what I meant when I started out expressing skepticism about system research, and obviously all proprietary research. Like so many things which look intrinsically benevolent from the ivory tower, removed from the real world context (cap and trade? electric cars? a VAT?), it becomes far less so in practice if undertaken under kleptocratic auspices.
 
So that’s why by now my default position is: Political transformation first, even at the temporary expense of things which may be theoretically beneficial but are not so under this dispensation. 

December 23, 2010

The Limits to Racketeering

 

According to Joseph Tainter’s theory of imperial collapse, as societies become more complex, they must expend an ever greater portion of the energy they have available simply on maintaining their complexity. Although social and technological advances may achieve profitable returns for awhile, once a certain level of complexity is reached, diminishing returns set in. Eventually, at the late imperial stage, the complexity of the power structure, the military infrastructure, the bureaucracies, all the rents involved in maintaining an ever more bloated parasite class, their luxuries, the police state required to extract these rents and keep the productive people down, and the growing losses due to the response of the oppressed producers, everything from poor quality work to strikes to emigration or secession to rebellion, reaches a point where the system can only cannibalize itself and eventually collapse.
 
Julian Assange’s theory of the secrecy tax he’s trying to impose through Wikileaks is one example of these diminishing returns on imperial complexity. All the indications are that Wikileaks has been successful in this.
 
One dynamic of the system which makes citizen action so difficult is its distributed responsibility for repressing the people. But perhaps the same dynamic also generates an inner weakness.
 
The way things are today, anyone who wants to reform anything, anywhere (or in the case of politicians, pretend to try to reform) finds himself blocked by some vested interest which pops up to resist. There’s always a particular criminal who, in defending his own piece of the action, also takes the lead in defending the corporatist system as a whole, in that particular fight. The resources of change are always more thinly and broadly distributed than the force of the status quo, which concentrates immediately in the form of that special interest. That’s the way kleptocracy works. That’s also part of the reason regulation of rackets can never work.
 
However, there’s also a reverse vector here. The system is dedicated to the growth of every wealth and power cell. So the federal government never has any intention of rigorously regulating anybody. If it ever tried, it would face the same concentration of resistance. But it’s also constantly importuned by the aggression of those same concentrations, usually many or all of them at once. Each interest is not only a conservative defender of the status quo, but a reactionary aggressor.
 
So we have the vector of reform blocked and shattering itself on the immovable object of the entrenched racket. And in the same way we have the vector of that same racket’s insatiable greed and aggression as an irresistible force pushing the inertial government and power structure as a whole. As physics equations, these are identical effects, although in one case the racket is stationary, in the other it is in motion. In both cases its inertia is immutable.
 
The vector of racket greed, what Marx called the siren song luring the racketeer, cooing “Go on!…Go on!”, is always in the direction of greater expansion, greater complexity, monopolizing more of the finite system resources for itself. The system as a whole cannot achieve sufficient concentration at any point to resist this aggressive concentration.
 
It follows from this that there’s no way the system can rationalize itself or retrench in its own self-interest. Trying to do this, it would run into the same special interest resistance at each point. It too would find itself more dispersed than the concentration which resists. Nor can it even keep up its sham pretenses to democracy, two conflicting parties, the rule of law, since there’s no way for it to distribute responsibility for anyone in particular sustaining a loss. Nor is there anyone who would be rewarded for imposing this loss on anyone within the fraternity. Each racket or individual racketeer says, “Why should I take the hit for the common (elite) good? Let someone else take it.”
 
The recent doubling down on the ethanol mandates is a good example. The ethanol racket is absurd even by this kleptocracy’s standards. Many other rackets opposed this blend wall extension. All rational observers think the mandate should be repealed completely. It will only exhaust the people even further (exhaust their economic capacity and perhaps their political patience; everything runs that risk) and render the infrastructure even more prone to breakdown. But the system is helpless. At each point, like this one, there’s one aggressor against a dissipated front. It’s the same as when the people try to fight them.
 
This is a welter of parasites battening on the same host. They’re in a zero sum game, not only against the people, but among themselves. Each has an interest in just exploiting the host, not killing it. But together they are killing it and therefore themselves. It’s clear none is capable of organizing or regulating the others. The federal government isn’t capable of doing it. If one big bank tried to do it, it would be subverted by the others. Each racket, from highest to lowest, is going to maximize its bloodsucking until there’s no blood left.
 
It’s the truest and most extreme example of the tragedy of the commons. (The “tragedy of the commons” is a Big Lie in general, but in cases like this one it’s true.) Biologically, it can’t stay this way. It’s impossible to exploit any resource this way forever or to maintain such cannibalistic complexity. Such a bottleneck cannot endure. That’s why no such tyranny has lasted long, and in the acceleration of modern times, where tyrannies take only years to go through the same life cycle which once took centuries, we can reasonably aspire to soon see the collapse of this one.
 
The Tower of Babel grows ever higher, ever more top-heavy, ever more unstable, ever more tottering.

December 21, 2010

No Taxes On the Non-Rich

Filed under: Reformism Can't Work — Tags: , — Russ @ 2:26 am

 

We must get over any and all fixations on “good government”. We face a terminal kleptocracy. That means lots of things, including the fact that all the nice-sounding things in the civics textbooks and progressive training primers are no longer valid. They’ve been hijacked.
 
It’ll never happen again that this government will extract taxes and then trickle the money back down in a fair, constructive way. From here on, any taxation will only go down the corporate rathole. Every cent taken from the productive people is stolen. So a basic slogan and absolute demand must be:
 
No Taxes On the Non-Rich.
 
That means no new taxes (e.g. a VAT), no expansion of existing taxes. It means we should seize anything like a payroll tax holiday as a good thing (though of course we shouldn’t be grateful to the criminals who “let us keep” a little extra of the wealth we and only we produced, and did so only under extreme political duress).
 
That doesn’t mean we have to accept social spending cuts. As MMT has demonstrated, the government has no constraints on spending under these economic conditions. As their corporate welfare-laden budgets have proven all along, the elites themselves recognize no such constraints and feel total freedom to print and spend.
 
So when we combine the tax imperative with the austerity imperative:
 
Total Austerity for the Criminals [banks, corporations, the rich], Not One Cent More From the People.
 
No Taxes On the Non-Rich.
 
We see the clear policy platform. We demand full payouts along with no taxes. It turns out the much-maligned tax protestor types were right about that all along. (They were always wrong in their sycophancy and bootlicking for the corporate elites, and they remain wrong. They only have half the picture, No Taxes. They must learn: Total Austerity for the Criminals.)
 
Here’s the facts:
1. There will never again be progressive taxation under this system.
 
2. Even if there were a relatively progressive new tax increment, the revenue extracted will never go to the constructive good of the people. It will go down the corporate rathole, and to build up the police state.
 
3. If the government ever chose to engage in constructive social spending, it can do so at will simply by crediting accounts. It never has to tax to do that.
 
4. So taxation really serves no purpose but to keep us shackled to the dollar economy.
 
For these reasons its a tactical error to be dragged into the argument about progressive vs. regressive taxation. Such distractions exist only in the wonk textbooks. In reality all income and payroll taxes are objectively regressive by now, no matter what their nominal form.
 
There is one constructive way to argue and advocate taxation: We can classify all taxes as being on productive work or on rents. We must demand as close to 100% taxation as possible on all land and interest rents, all large-estate inheritance, and all finance sector transactions. We must demand and support this vector of lessening taxation on productivity, increasing it on parasites. We should represent this as an excise tax, meant to punish parasitism and encourage productivity.
 
In practice this system will almost certainly never shift taxes that way. So, that exception aside, let’s reject all taxes. All new taxes, all tax increases, all taxes. In an earlier post I said “let’s be neo-Norquists.” But unlike those liars, who claim to want small government but really want an extremely big, aggressive government to serve as corporate thug and bagman, we really do want to get rid of corporatism completely. We want the complete end of big corporations and big government.
 
That means, not “we want to drown government in a bathtub”, but we want a tsunami to wash away the whole rotten structure.

December 20, 2010

The Supremely Corrupt Court

 

The NYT had a piece by Adam Liptak detailing how the Roberts court takes more business cases than previous courts, and issues pro-business decisions a greater portion of the time. These trends already existed with the Rehnquist court, but the vector is accelerating.
 

The chamber’s success rate is but one indication of the Roberts court’s leanings on business issues. A new study, prepared for The New York Times by scholars at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, analyzed some 1,450 decisions since 1953. It showed that the percentage of business cases on the Supreme Court docket has grown in the Roberts years, as has the percentage of cases won by business interests.

The Roberts court, which has completed five terms, ruled for business interests 61 percent of the time, compared with 46 percent in the last five years of the court led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died in 2005, and 42 percent by all courts since 1953. Those differences are statistically significant, the study found…..

A study prepared by the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal group, examined the center’s success rate in the Supreme Court. It found that the positions supported by the chamber prevailed 68 percent of the time in the Roberts court, compared with 56 percent in the last 11 years of the Rehnquist court, a period without changes in the court’s membership….

Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, [said] the numbers proved that the Roberts court increasingly sided with corporate interests. He also said the study documented “a sharp ideological divide that did not exist before 2005.” In the last 11 terms of the Rehnquist court, the five more conservative justices voted for the chamber’s position 61 percent of the time, while the four more liberal justices voted for it 48 percent of the time.

In the first five terms of the Roberts court, the corresponding bloc of five more conservative justices voted for the chamber’s position 74 percent of the time, and the four more liberal justices 43 percent of the time.

 
This demonstrates the increasing corruption of the courts, their subversion from democracy and the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. I’ll detail each of these.
 
Three points stood out for me.
 
1. The piece places the corruption process in the context of the history of neoliberal corporatism over the last 40 years. Specifically, it cites the 1971 Lewis Powell corporatist strategy memo. As I said about this memo in a previous piece on systematic court corruption,
 

Lewis Powell, generally considered a “moderate” on the court, but at the time a corporate cadre, wrote a strategy memo encouraging corporations to argue systematically in the courts for free speech and other rights like any other “persons” (as part of the vast corporate assault on democracy he recommended). We see how this systematic perversion of the Bill of Rights was a strategy prescribed by the supreme court itself, as it were . The Citizens United case is just the latest and most visibly egregious of its toxic fruits.

 
Powell advised the corporate cabal to organize and fund a cell dedicated to pushing pro-corporate, anti-democratic ideology and arguments in the courts, and to recruit government personnel and judges to staff this cell. The corporations heeded the call, and the result was the Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Litigation Center.
 

The chamber now files briefs in most major business cases. The side it supported in the last term won 13 of 16 cases. Six of those were decided with a majority vote of five justices, and five of those decisions favored the chamber’s side. One of the them was Citizens United, in which the chamber successfully urged the court to guarantee what it called “free corporate speech” by lifting restrictions on campaign spending….

The Chamber of Commerce spent tens of millions of dollars in the recent midterm elections, mostly to help Republican candidates. It says that it has 300,000 members, businesses and organizations “of every size, sector and region,” and that its spending furthered the interests of some three million businesses, most of them small ones.

But the chamber’s mission is by no means limited to the elected branches of government. “A central function of the chamber,” it told the Supreme Court in a recent brief, “is to represent the interests of its members in important matters before the courts.”

The vehicle for that is the litigation unit that was envisioned by Mr. Powell, the National Chamber Litigation Center, which says it is “the voice of business in the courts on issues of national concern to the business community.

 
As the studies cited above show, this strategy is paying off. The numbers may differ, but all agree on the trend. This litigation center is a war room dedicated to corrupting the judicial branch and subverting it from a constitutional, democratic role, to an anti-constitutional, anti-democratic one.
 
We should be clear on the difference between this kind of NGO and any other. Public interest NGOs in principle seek the public good. That remains true even if, rarely, any of them betrays that trust. Such an example would in fact be a bad apple, an abuse.
 
But pro-corporate groups are in principle conspiracies against the public interest, the citizenry, democracy, and sovereignty. They are by definition anti-social in the same way a corporation is a clinical sociopath, by legal definition and circumscription of its “responsibilities”. By now we have sufficient empirical evidence that large corporations only harm society and the economy. They produce nothing which wouldn’t be produced far more effectively without them. And meanwhile the destruction they cause is incalculable. The balance is clear. They are purely destructive, enemies of America. So it follows that the Chamber of Commerce and any group like it is by definition anti-American.
 
2. Liptak cites the obscene revolving door of solicitors general in modern times.
 

From 1952 to 1981….former solicitors general usually became judges, joined law schools or worked as public servants. In the next 15 years, they split their time between academic and legal work, often consulting with law firms with specialized Supreme Court practices.

Starting in 1996, every former solicitor general, with one exception, has gone on to supervise a Supreme Court practice at a major law firm, earning as much as $5 million a year. The exception is Justice Elena Kagan, who joined the court in August.

These specialists make their livings representing business interests, and they have used the skills they honed in government service to achieve notable successes in the Supreme Court.

 
Yeah, “skills”. That’s what they also call “talent”. (Kagan may be an exception that proves the rule, if she turns out to be the corporate lackey we fear. From the point of view of the corporate cabal, it’s better if someone goes right onto the court than if she goes to work arguing before it on their behalf. Especially since she was incompetent as a litigator; her elevation to the court is a classic case of wingnut welfare.)
 
By now the solicitor general position is institutionalized corruption. It seems to be a given that as a government cadre before the SCOTUS one is auditioning for a subsequent corporate role before one’s friends and colleagues on the court. The court knows this from the outset and tacitly approves it. The incest must be suffocating at times, if anyone involved has even a shred of conscience left. But I doubt that’s often a problem. By now the institutionalized sociopathy of the system selects for such traits in the first place in its staffers, and systematically inculcates and reinforces them over decades of training and acculturation.
 
This runs directly counter to the assumptions and prescriptions of even Alexander Hamilton, the most pro-business of the Founders. Hamilton took it for granted that a revolving door between the courts and powerful private interests would, on its face, render the judiciary illegitimate.
 
As he wrote in Federalist #78:
 

Hence it is, that there can be but few men in the society who will have sufficient skill in the laws to qualify them for the stations of judges. And making the proper deductions for the ordinary depravity of human nature, the number must be still smaller of those who unite the requisite integrity with the requisite knowledge. These considerations apprise us, that the government can have no great option between fit character; and that a temporary duration in office, which would naturally discourage such characters from quitting a lucrative line of practice to accept a seat on the bench, would have a tendency to throw the administration of justice into hands less able, and less well qualified, to conduct it with utility and dignity.

 
This was his core argument for giving judges tenure for life with guaranteed salaries, that it would greatly lessen the chance of the hated revolving door starting to spin. So by the pro-business Hamilton’s own contention, today’s revolving door is corruption on its face. (I don’t agree with his elitism, of course. Any intelligent person of integrity is far more qualified to be a judge than a corrupt savant.) Strict corruption, we can call it. No civilized society would allow it.
 
This part of Liptak’s discussion also touches on the Robert’s court’s increasing judicial activist corporatism.
 
3. Here’s a metric of the intensifying corruption:
 

David L. Franklin, a law professor at DePaul University, wrote in another article in The Santa Clara Law Review last year that the chamber had been quite successful in the Roberts court in four of what he considered five main categories of cases — punitive damages, arbitration of consumer and other disputes, the standards for early dismissal of lawsuits, and federal pre-emption of state laws governing injury and other suits. The “conspicuous exception,” he said, was employment discrimination…….

Even in employment discrimination cases, however, the available numbers are subject to two interpretations. True, the Roberts court’s 16 decisions have been evenly divided, according to an analysis by Professor Epstein at Northwestern. But the Rehnquist court ruled in favor of people claiming discrimination more often — 64 percent of the time.

 
Three of the five are structural. Two of those involve setting up barriers between the citizen and access to the law, the other is anti-federalist. The other two are more political. It’s interesting that the one which seems to have been relatively neglected, employment discrimination, is a typical corporate liberal issue, and therefore pretending to be anti-discrimination is part of neoliberal tactics.
 
So perhaps that caveat about how even the court’s commitment to anti-discrimination is eroding is a metric of the eroding position of corporate liberals themselves. The more the SCOTUS openly says it no longer cares about discrimination (the Walmart case is the most important pending example, although it also involves citizen access), the more we can take it that corporatism is abandoning the liberal scam and moving toward fascism.
 
So in conclusion, this Liptak piece, though containing some typical NYT bias, gives a good rundown. It demonstrates how, in the words of a typical criminal:
 

A prominent Supreme Court advocate who often represents businesses, Maureen E. Mahoney, chose her words carefully when asked at a chamber news briefing in September whether the Roberts court was especially receptive to the kinds of arguments pressed by corporations.

“The best court for getting a fair hearing on those issues,” she said, “is the Supreme Court.”

 
And that in turn is an inverse metric of the court’s legitimacy.

December 19, 2010

Samuel

Filed under: Freedom — Russ @ 2:06 am

 

(So the people had found a great Leader, Samuel, and had conquered and prospered under
his wise, benevolent judgement.) And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made
his sons judges over Israel.
3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and
perverted judgement.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5 And said unto him, Behold, you are old, and your sons walk not in your ways: since we
refuse to rule ourselves, now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel
prayed unto the Lord.
7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say to
you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not serve them as
the idea of the Lord, but reign over them as Landlord.
8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out
of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do
they also unto you.
9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show
them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
10 And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.
11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your
sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall
run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands; and will set them to ear his ground, and
to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them,
and give them to his servants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and
to his servants.
16 And he will take your goodliest young men and women, and your animals, and put them to
his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep, and you shall be his servants.
18 And you shall cry out in that day because of your king which you shall have chosen for
yourself; and the Lord will not hear you in that day, because the Landlord has heard you today.
19 Nevertheless the people refused to hear the voice of Samuel; and they said, No; but we will
have a king over us;
20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us (for we’re afraid to
judge ourselves), and go out before us, and fight our battles.
21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.
22 And the Landlord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.

December 17, 2010

Today’s Austerity and Tomorrow’s Jubilation

 

Neither the banks nor the government have any legitimacy. Austerity is a Tax imposed without representation or even the barest sovereignty. The minimal criterion for one to even debate the legitimacy of these neoliberal governments would be that they honor their existing legal and political commitments. But as we see in the US and every European country, these are only illegitimate kleptocracies whose robbery has become overt and brazen.
 
So we see the “austerity” agenda moving forward, as Obama and the Republicans collaborate on extending tax cuts for the rich while conspiring to gut Social Security. (I no longer care about the tax cuts in themselves, but I juxtapose them with the call for further gutting of social spending and privatization as smoking gun evidence of government criminality, class war robbery.) Obama is a hard core Reaganite whose cherished policy goal, what he believes will be his righteous legacy to the elites (who he sees as his constituency) for the rest of history, is to gut the entire New deal state including SS and Medicare. The “deal” he made here, extracting a few slight concessions from himself, was done only under extreme political duress. For the first time he now fears for his re-election. (Though as the “sanctimonious purist” quote demonstrates, his heart isn’t in giving even a few crumbs to the poor. He truly despises the progressives, and even political expediency can’t overcome his public expression of that loathing.)
 
But on the policy agenda he and the Republicans are 100% simpatico. He is a Republican.
 
Many wanted to argue about the politics of the payroll tax holiday. Unfortunately, many more believe the lies about its being fiscally imperiled, or even that these governmental elites care about that. But the assault on SS has nothing whatsoever to do with rational concerns about its funding. Nor does the attempt to vilify it as “welfare” rather than an entitlement have any effect. Those who argue are mired in the appeasement mentality. They think you can “persuade” incorrigible criminals not to steal whatever they feel able to steal. It’s like believing you can appease the bank by begging for a mortgage modification and continuing to pay on a delinquent mortgage, because in theory they might decide you rationally merit a mod. Um, no.
 
The people overwhelmingly support SS and want to see it strengthened.
 
The elites universally want to destroy it, because they want to steal the money for themselves, because destroying it would further weaken the people, and because they simply hate the idea of having to trickle back down any of what they’ve stolen.
 
The fact that SS is perfectly solvent and has no inherent funding problems whatsoever is meaningless in a system run by criminals, where their lies prevail. The fact is that Social Security is an account payable by the US government. The only way it can be insolvent is if the government is insolvent. That’s impossible for a government sovereign in its own currency.
 
So whenever anyone in the government claims SS is in trouble, he’s simply threatening a voluntary default on the part of the government. And whenever anyone outside the government makes a similar claim, he’s simply predicting such a sovereign default.
 
So the fact that Obama and the DC gangs are making these threats does prove the nonexistence of this government’s sovereignty. Not because that’s fiscally “true”, but because they chose to make it true. They voluntarily abdicated.
 
The facts are clear:
 
1. No one among the elites cares about the deficit or the debt. The Bailout, the wars, Pentagon budgets, Big Ag subsidies, and all other corporate welfare, prove this.
 
2. “Austerity” is not, and is not intended to be, any kind of “fiscally conservative” or “fiscally responsible” measure. By definition any such conservative, if he existed, would focus 100% on the corporate welfare listed in (1).
 
3. To give a specific example, health care costs are out of control. We all know Single Payer is the only policy which would save a huge amount instead of increasing these costs. The Obama-Republican racket bailout will only increase them; their own CBO says so. No one who supported Obamacare (like all Democrats) or will support it going forward (like Republicans who refuse to repeal it) has any right to any opinion at all on the cost of anything, or to claim any concern for “responsibility”.
 
4. Deficit terrorism like that propagated by the NYT (which is a rabid supporter or the wars and also supports the Bailout, the health racket bailout, and massive corporate welfare in general) is therefore nothing but a criminal propaganda campaign on behalf of the austerity crime agenda. It’s qualitatively similar to telling people being herded onto trains that they’re being sent to a place with better conditions. Some Nazi propagandists (“journalists”) were later tried for that.
 
5. So the people’s agenda here is clear:
 
We have to absolutely reject deficit terrorism. It’s already proven to be a false idea, and not one single person who argues in favor of it has any standing whatsoever do so, since the only true fiscally responsible position would be: Let’s end all corporate welfare, including the wars and the Bailout, and restitute everything the banks stole. Let’s institute Single Payer, which will save trillions. Then we’ll see whether or not we need to cut any social programs.
 
Since there is no such advocate, we can regard the subject as closed, and stick to a few simple demands:
 
Total Austerity for the Criminals, Not One Cent More From the People.
 
Total Austerity for Corporate Welfare.
 
No Taxes on the Non-Rich. (Meaning we must reject any new tax or tax increase which isn’t 100% upon corporations and the rich. That means rejecting everything.)
 
And refuse to even discuss deficits or the debt except in terms like the ones outlined here. Refuse to even discuss beyond: “Deficits? OK, then let’s end all corporate welfare.”
 
There’s one piece of the proposed deal which is of real interest, the allegation that it will clobber already-reeling state budgets by ending the Build America Bonds (BAB) program.
 
Even before this the moderate Chris Whalen has been saying he thought it won’t be long into 2011 before state governments will start telling mortgage debtors to stop paying mortgages but continue paying property taxes. The idea is that the states are increasingly being abandoned by the banks and the federal government. This abdication of legitimacy is becoming clear at the same time the states and localities are facing true fiscal crisis. So under those circumstances, rational state and local governments would want the people to keep the money local as much as possible. Paying the property tax before the mortgage, and if necessary only the property tax, while keeping up the property (which the banks themselves are prone to leave derelict after a foreclosure), is a way to accomplish that. Why should a state feel any call to enforce any “right” of Wall Street? On the contrary, they should declare such abdicated rights null and void.
 
If the alert about how this DC deal will further hit the states is true, that may accelerate the coming of the day Whalen was talking about.  
 
Yet another critical piece of evidence for the already massive pile: There is absolutely no legality or legitimacy whatsoever in this bank mortgage-based land dispensation.
 
It is manifest nonsense to even try to claim the homeowner has any moral or legal relationship with anyone but the local government, to whom he owes property taxes, and the community, to whom he owes his good stewardship of the property.
 
Beyond that, to pay a cent to the banks, e.g. to keep paying on an invalid mortgage, is simply to throw money into a meaningless void.
 
So just a quick recap:
 
1. The Bailout itself strips the banks of any and all valid right to exist, period. They’re history’s worst robbers, nothing more and nothing less. No citizen could possibly owe them anything.
 
2. The failure to convey the title legally converts the mortgage to an unsecured loan in 45 states, and renders the MBS, which we already knew were worth pennies on the dollar at best, literally worthless, since the trusts were never anything but pure fraud. So the former proves the invalidity of the mortgage for the legalistically minded, while the latter is further proof that the banks are all insolvent, and the bailout was nothing but a monumental robbery committed by the government itself.
 
3. Even if one wanted to legally and/or morally argue that “the homeowner still owes somebody” on the mortgage, there’s no way to legally establish who that “somebody” might be. So I insist again that under such extreme circumstances (circumstances of course imposed unilaterally by the banks themselves), we should consider our legal obligation to be only to the local government and our moral obligation to be only to the community.
 
And again, even if in a particular case we could establish which bankster technically has a “right”, it would be irrelevant since through the immensity of their crimes all banksters have forfeit all rights to anything from us.
 
4. And now, after MERS, after robo-signing, after forged notes and allonges, we learn that the foreclosures have also been directly criminally processed in this new way. And God knows how many other ways that we don’t yet know about.
 
How could anyone coherently argue that there’s any constructive way to deal with such absolutely incorrigible criminals? Or to coexist with them at all?
 
There’s really no alternative. Jubilate In Place, or else cave in and submit once and for all to history’s most larcenous tyranny and chaotic banana republic.
 
I think by now the call for debt jubilee and smashing the banks is the truly moderate, rational, conservative, law-seeking position, while any call to still temporize with the banks at all is the real call to riot.

December 15, 2010

What Do Wikileaks and Foreclosuregate Have In Common?

 

Much has been written about Julian Assange’s theory of how aggressive forced transparency can impose a “secrecy tax” on authoritarian conspiracies like the secrecy regime of the US kleptocracy. The ability of a system like this to smoothly function is predicated on its ability to easily disseminate information among the insiders while keeping it secret from outsiders. So the more paranoid the system becomes about its ability to maintain this monopoly, the more it must restrict information flows, police its own members, and devote resources to this maintenance. Like any other illegitimate, parasitic structure, it becomes less and less efficient and resilient as the self-generated resistance to it grows. According to Assange, Wikileaks is dedicated to imposing this secrecy tax upon these criminal organizations. If the tax becomes onerous enough, it can even render the system unable to function.
 
When I thought about this, it struck me how similar it is to other ramifications of the system crime. Everywhere there are signs of the self-imposed crime tax hindering smooth system function. Probably the best example is Foreclosuregate, where the banks’ systematic refusal to comply with the most basic, stone-carved legal procedures for conveying title and constituting MBS trusts has rendered all “ownership” questionable, and has perhaps in fact rendered most mortgages and most or all MBS trusts unsecured loans. In non-recourse states, the mortgagee may in fact not be able to have recourse even to the house itself. Meanwhile if the scofflaw servicer tried to belatedly (and illicitly) convey the note to the trust, the trust would be revealed as having been fraudulent in the first place, the trustees would incur a severe tax liability, and they’d be exposed to lawsuits from the defrauded investors.
 
The same would be true if the originator simply foreclosed on his own:
 

On one hand, the problem is easily cured – the party who is the documented owner of the loan could foreclose (the original lender). The problem with this is that the proceeds of the foreclosed property, including the recoveries intended to reimburse the servicer for advances, would have no mechanism for getting back into the trust.

If the original lender foreclosed, took title and liquidated the loan, accountants would have an issue with how the proceeds could possibly end up back with the trust. The result would be a total loss for the trust for that loan.

The servicer’s attorneys have no desire to go this route – it terrifies them.

 
Every time I read something like this my first gut thought is to doubt there’s anyone in the system who isn’t willing to break any and every rule and law.
 
But then I figure that a massive criminal conspiracy within the system must run up against the same inertial obstacles revolutionaries have often complained about – that existing professional cadres, no matter what the professional intent of their members, are still as a group committed to certain ways of doing things. It’s their professional culture, and even as intentional criminals they must still often feel the need to dot the i and cross the t.
 
And then the system is supposed to be set up to maximize the flow of loot upward and minimize leakage at the lower levels. Having a perverted but still mechanically functional rule of law and process of bureaucracy is supposed to help effect this. This is why the Nazis were always as punctilious as possible about “legality” for their crimes.
 
So perhaps the half-baked kleptocracy, having run its crimes so far out ahead of its “laws”, will be unable to fix this mess even with its own pseudo-legal contraptions, and will sustain a major blow here.
 
Just like its hysterical attempts to put out the Wikileaks fire are already demonstrating the validity of Assange’s ideas. Although I’m not a tech expert, from what I gather it would be impossible to shut down Wikileaks short of “shutting down the Internet itself”, which I take to mean rendering it far more slow and inefficient. We can imagine what that would do for the system’s economic “recovery”. That fits into their intensifying “cyber war” rhetoric. Joe Lieberman and others have also been threatening even their own friends in the MSM like the NYT. Government agencies and contractors are imposing all sorts of restrictions on what computers within their purview can be used for. I had one commenter tell me his company is even trying to restrict what employees can do on their own personal computers at home. And funniest of all was the spectacle of universities warning prospective government employees among their students about how intensely all their prior online activity is likely to be scrutinized by this prospective employer. The vision of these Ivy League Hitler Youth scrambling to try to sanitize their past online lives and even more vigilantly self-police their words and actions going forward gives us a prime piece of Schadenfreude.
 
So it looks like we already are imposing this secrecy tax.
 
[We can see from all this why we don’t want any sort of “modernized” mortgage registry, which would simply be easier to “legally” game. It would put up less resistance to organized crime. Its very pseudo-efficiency would offer fewer handholds for citizen action.
 
We’re learning everywhere that so-called inefficiency and redundancy really mean resiliency and at least the potential for accountability.
 
In this case, there’s nothing wrong with the existing legal procedure. (Not the scofflaw mortgage mill and securitization procedure.) Is this slow when you’re trying to convey and securitize millions of loans? Yes – which is a good thing. Slow is Good. And as we should have learned by now, we never needed or wanted such financialization of mortgages in the first place. They should have stayed with the originator, with what worked perfectly well before these crimes were invented.
 
There’s no need for shock-doctrine speed and false efficiency, which as we’ve learned to our sorrow is a false economy.]
Older Posts »