Volatility

April 4, 2013

Money, Reprise

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One of the basic lies is that there’s only a “fixed” amount of money available at any given time, and that the measure of this amount is based on how much of a particular metal you have. This metal has usually been gold. According to system lies, if more paper money is issued than is justified by the amount of gold the system holds, the result is inevitably destructive inflation.
 
The lies here are that money is a real thing in itself, that this real thing is naturally based on gold, and that inflation as such is a bad thing. The goldbuggers often add an element of moralizing, that money not based on gold would be immoral and reckless, and that inflation is the consequence of a moral failure.
 
(I’ll add that the banks always overstate the amount of gold which is actually available. If at any time, including today, everyone who has invested in gold were to demand physical redemption, they’d immediately discover that they’d been sold fraudulent paper backed by nothing. So even given the framework of the gold standard, the banksters were precisely the immoral inflationists they accused others of being, along with committing flat out fraud.)
 
The truth is that money is nothing in itself, but in a normal economy would merely reflect the real production of that economy. As one Populist put it, money is just the yardstick measuring the yarn. But the goldbug ideology claims that the yardstick itself is worth as much as the yarn it measures.
 
Money’s only constructive role would be to exist in sufficient form to represent the real economy’s production, and to represent its productive capacity. This latter means that there should always be somewhat more money in circulation than the value of what the real economy is producing at the moment, since this extra money is what greases the skids of new productive investment and innovation. (I’ll add that it also means that to have legitimacy, money must always be circulating. The “velocity of money”, in the jargon, must be high. Money’s legitimate functions are as a medium of exchange and, as Graeber emphasizes, a unit of account. But to hoard money, to use it as a “store of value”, is always illegitimate. Taking money out of active circulation renders it pointless and therefore malevolent, since it’s no longer reflecting real productivity.)
 
It follows from this that if you’re going to have a central government and centralized money, the government should directly issue money in a sufficient amount to lubricate the entire productive capacity of the economy. This is called greenbackerism, named after the “greenbacks” the Lincoln administration issued to finance the Civil War (which of course couldn’t be financed with the existing gold-constrained system). This would bring only mild, constructive inflation. This mild inflation is economically healthy and good for borrowers. Real production, wages, and quality of life would increase in tandem. In fact, it’s increasing productivity which ought to dictate the pace and amount of money issuance. But the goldbug straitjacket, dedicated as it is to the artificial scarcity of money and to a generally deflationary pressure (which favors creditors over debtors), constantly puts an artificial ceiling on productivity, resulting in frequent economic crises and depressions.
 
Goldbuggery is utterly incapable of dealing with the complexities and productive surge of a modern fossil fuel economy. To maintain bankster control of the money but render this control more flexible, the banks dictated the establishment of the Fed in 1913. The Fed is nominally a hybrid government-bank institution, but is 100% under the control of Wall Street. In this way Wall Street continues to issue the money, which the government borrows.
 
(Meanwhile the silver scam has twice been the system’s response, under duress, to an uncomfortable debate and confrontation between gold and greenbacks. Most famously, in 1896 the People’s Party, having heroically forced the greenbacker idea into the public discussion, committed ignoble suicide by selling out to silver and embracing the Democratic Party instead of fighting for itself and the Populist movement which extruded it in the first place. Sound familiar? In 1896, at the LATEST, history proved that the Democratic Party was a tar pit for all human aspiration. Yet to this day people rush in droves to entomb themselves in this pit.)
 
I can’t stress enough that the money belongs to the people. We create 100% of the real productivity and wealth, of which money is a reflection. It’s OUR MONEY. If there’s to be a central government at all, then directly issuing the money is indisputably one of the core functions of this government. The Constitution itself mandates this.
 
But under all systems of bank money, including the system centered on the Fed, the government abdicates this core role, the banks illicitly usurp it, and we the people now have to pay extortion rates to rent OUR MONEY back from the banks who stole it.
 
One of the infinite vilenesses of the liberals is how we the people had a golden opportunity (pardon the pun, and note the profound corruption of the vernacular itself) in 2009 to smash this system once and for all and take back our money. But instead the liberals presided over the aggressive bailout of Wall Street, using trillions in taxpayer money to bail out the robbers who intentionally crashed the economy. This example was at least as awesomely self-destructive as 1896, and far more malevolent. Will America learn a lesson this time?

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December 6, 2012

The Temporary Resumption of Petty Middle Class Faith

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1. Despite a brief surge of proto-revolutionary feeling in 2009-10, the “early adopters” have gone back to their idiocy. In spite of all they saw and all they supposedly learned, in the end they followed Bernanke, Geithner, and Obomney and learned to love and believe in the Bailout.
 
2. Meanwhile, in a spectacular example of cognitive dissonance and pseudo-religious fundamentalism, liberals have responded to the overwhelming evidence record by doubling down on their faith in the Obama cult. “I believe because it’s absurd.” They’ve also had second thoughts about their own dependency on organized crime. They still have their crumb for the moment. They have a cowardly, cringing mindset. Do they really want to gamble that crumb right now?
 
3. After a brief period of progress, truth-tellers like me are back in the position Hoffer described – “they won’t listen to him”.
 
4. Instead, as we see all over the blogosphere, presented with a clear structural critic and a troll, your aspiring do-gooder ignores the critic and tries to reason with the troll. Of course, this is ingrained in the do-gooder’s temperament. But for a little while there the do-gooders were starting to overcome that temperament. Now they’ve gratefully gone back to it. This is reinforced by how they’ve reaffirmed their psychological comfort in living off the fruits of crime.
 
5. This is part of why there’s no good Food Freedom discussions online. (Besides, the food movement never reached the consciousness of the anti-bank movement. Just like political blogs almost all suck, so food blogs almost all suck, while the only real action was at the econoblogs.)
 
6. For now it seems to me it’ll have more inflammatory than probative value to participate on sites like that. I’ll try to just read the posts but ignore the “discussions”. If I find this impossible, then I’ll drop those sites completely. I’ll continue looking for discussions, but be ready to abandon them as soon as I see how lame they are. For the time being a critic can’t, with any good return on investment, guide a basically conformist conversation onto a critical path.
 
7. So we have to head back to Geneva for now. The 1905 blossom has withered. It’s time to start over from the beginning and build, first a nucleus and then a movement, from scratch. My own blog is senescent. A blog’s not a great forum anyway. Just use the blog to advertise the forum. Start a real discussion, and moderate it just as relentlessly as these liberal petty bourgeois idiots do. (They’re especially idiots because, on account of their own SQ brainwashing, they don’t even realize their own aggressive ideology, nor how their selection of discussion emphasis comprises a vicious pro-system bias.)
 
8. It seems that philosophically it’s time for slow fermentation. We need to build the full basis for somnambulistic counterattack. We can start in the sweet spot, the good wedges of Community Food, anti-GMO and anti-corporatism, without primarily insisting on Food Sovereignty. (It’ll be better to do this where we can choose our own battlefield. It’s harder to stick with it at places where the liberal and petty bourgeois idiocy is jabbering right there in front of us.)
 
9. Part of this sweet spot is relentless counterattack on the government food police and how they’re preventing America’s economic resurgence. (But this too is for a core audience? In the period of system retrenchment, won’t most people including system NGO types disregard the real need for Food Relocalization? Their actions show that they do.) But every attack on the government has to include at least some anti-corporate element, and some teaching that government and corporation are the same thing, the same enemy.

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June 27, 2012

GMOs Can’t Feed the World and Don’t Intend To

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As the GMO rackets and the corporate media collaborate in pushing a GMO domination strategy for Britain, we’re again hearing the “Feed the World” Big Lie, and arguments about GM yields. But anyone who starts with the question “which yields more?” is already surrendering vast ground to corporate agriculture. He’s probably running a scam. The real first question is:
 
Does corporate agriculture have any intention of feeding the world? Even better – Could it feed the world even if it wanted to?
 
We already know, from fifty years of experience, that the answer is No. That food corporatism can feed the world has been empirically proven to be false.
 
(And why would the answer be yes? Corporatism’s goal is artificial scarcity, since only this makes profit possible. Anyone who actually wanted to feed people wouldn’t put the food system in the hands of profiteers. It takes a very strange kind of mind to say, “we need to make food more universally available, so let’s organize it according to a system which needs to make it more scarce!”)
 
Therefore, questions of yield are moot compared to questions of systemic ability and intent. Organic agriculture can feed the world and wants to. Corporate ag doesn’t want to and therefore, if only for that reason, cannot.
 
The terms “intrinsic yield” and “operational yield” are often used to denote, respectively, how much of a crop can be grown in theory, under optimal conditions, as opposed to how much is actually grown in the real world.
 
Here too, the concepts are hermetic and therefore meaningless until we include the limitations of politico-economic systems. Today’s operational yield really means, intrinsic yield under corporatism, or corporatism’s political intrinsic yield. This is far more than enough to feed the world, but since corporatism artificially restricts access to food, the political operational yield, i.e. the amount which actually gets to the people as a whole, is much less. (Meanwhile the physical intrinsic yield is a meaningless abstraction and distraction.)
 
Meanwhile, with a system based on Food Sovereignty, the physical and political operational yields would be identical, while the physical intrinsic yield would stand as the aspiration for a much higher actual distribution of food to the people.
 
Even if it were true that industrial ag technically outproduces organic, its actual, i.e. politically distributed, yield is vastly lower than what organic ag would produce under Food Sovereignty.
 
So the supporters of industrial and corporate agriculture systematically suppress the fact that the question of food is first of all a question of political/economic systems. They try all they can to frame the questions in order to rig the answers for corporatism and against the truly organic.
 
That makes it all the more impressive that organic production, even in spite of all the real-world political and economic barriers to it and assaults upon it, and in spite of the conceptual elisions and suppressions and riggings in the data, has been proven to be at least as productive as industrial, and often more so, even under adverse status quo conditions.
 
 

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March 26, 2012

Genocide By GMO Famine?

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I’ve seen more mentions lately of the possibility of new genocides perpetrated upon the billions being rendered economically superfluous. The idea’s in the air. 
 
Economic superfluity, permanent unemployment, are of course nothing natural and could never occur under natural conditions, including conditions of social organization which are adapted to the ways of the earth. On the contrary, these are the artificial productions of economic hierarchy in general, and capitalism in particular. The basic goal of capitalism is to impose artificial scarcity upon natural abundance. This is applied to the land, to natural resources, and to the products of human labor.
 
It’s also applied to access to work itself, which like everything else is enclosed, parceled out as “property”, and then rented to us, the true owners. In this case the scarce parcels, carefully rationed, are called “jobs”. The ability to function in society, and the very measure of being human, are to be tied to this piece of property, and whether one is allowed to rent it from “the employer”.
 
On the other hand, the number of jobs is being further constricted all the time. Billions are being rendered permanently non-functional from the point of view of the system. They’ve been dispossessed, and dehumanized. They are, in fact, not human.
 
Nor does the system intend to use them all as slaves. The 1% don’t need so many slaves. So what could possibly be the intended fate of these billions of unpersons?
 
I’ve been tossing around an idea regarding the system’s attempt to impose GMO monoculture by force. This monoculture is guaranteed to frequently collapse, triggering catastrophic famines. This is by its own inertia and inherent vulnerabilties.
 
But I think it may be true that even beyond the corporatist motives for this policy, the 1% also intend to be able to trigger these collapses and famines at will. After all, no accumulation of artificial collapses, famines, and disease outbreaks causes them to admit the bankruptcy of the policy, any more than Wall Street’s intentional destruction of the global economy in 2007-08 caused them to dismantle the finance sector.
 
We know for a fact that Wall Street is, by system intention, to be allowed to destroy and plunder economies at will. We know for a fact that the system cares nothing about food safety, but that on the contrary the lethal pandemics which will arise (and may already have arisen) from CAFOs are considered acceptable. This is at best collateral damage, at worst something desired. Similarly, we know that the system considers the hyper-vulnerability of monoculture in general and GMO monoculture in particular to be desirable. It’s a feature, not a bug. (This is part of why the system is so unconcerned with the predicted and now documented rise of bt- and herbicide-resistant superbugs and superweeds. This was always a desired outcome, since it now escalates biological warfare, requiring the purchase of ever greater amounts of herbicide and ever more expensive proprietary seeds. Each new GMO generation is more expensive than the failed one it, by intention, must replace. GMOs were the epitome of disaster capitalism from their inception. We already knew that corporate agriculture, contrary to its propaganda, seeks disaster and scarcity, not plenty.)
 
When we consider all this, we must also take seriously the possibility that artificially-engineered mass famine, like those engineered by the British in India, the Nazis, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and many times before by Western capitalism, is on the drawing board here.
 
At the very least, no one can deny that with our total dependence on corporate agriculture, this is a practical possibility. Nor can anyone deny the malevolence of the 1%. Put the two together, and we have more than enough to know that the current situation is untenable and intolerable. We must, with all organized speed, decentralize, relocalize, and democratize food production and distribution, on a beyond-organic basis. 
 
 

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 7, 2011

One Simple Demand: Abolish Debt. Abolish Wall Street.

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In the comment thread for my last post we discussed the possibility of some educational pamphleteering at the occupations. One idea was a few bullet points summing up the facts about debt, along with a recommendation to read David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years
 
So what might those points be? Here’s a few thoughts:
 
*Are you in debt?
 
*Are you forced into debt in order to live like a human being? It hasn’t always been this way.
 
*Humanity has flourished without formalized debt for most of its history.
 
*Formalized debt has always gone hand in hand with scarcity, tyranny, slavery, and war.
 
*Formalized debt is the mode of control of despotic structures like big government and big corporations.
 
*These structures, too, have only recently come into existence, and only along with tyranny, slavery, and war. Humanity has always done better without them. [Maybe those latter two are better to leave implicit for now? Maybe it's better to isolate the formal debt issue, leading up to saying Wall Street and financialization shouldn't exist.]
 
*Cash money is the vehicle of formalized debt.
 
*Wall Street exists only to preside over this unnecessary and destructive debt machine. It serves no legitimate or constructive purpose.
 
*History proves that we can undertake all human endeavors more fairly and efficiently without Wall Street and its debt burdens. Humanity is cooperation.
 
*We must redeem our human economy by building alternatives to cash and debt.
 
*We shall flourish again only with the abolition of Wall Street, the domination of finance, and the tyranny of money debt.
 
So there’s One Simple Demand right there. Abolish the debt system, abolish the finance sector, abolish Wall Street.
 

March 14, 2011

Corporatism is Legalized Crime

 

As Ted Nace points out early in his survey of corporatism, Gangs of America, the worst crimes of corporations seldom involve technical breaking of the law or the personal evil of corporate executives, but the pattern of destructive anti-social activity which corporatism (and its corrupted system of “law”) enshrines in principle as normal and normative. Corporatism is in fact the ideology and practice of formally enshrined organized crime.
 
The banks recently crashed the real economy, and permanent joblessness (including the waste of life termed “underemployment”) creeps toward and over 20% according to the measure. This destruction of the basis of our lives is a calculated, intentional corporate-dictated policy. Today we see quarter after quarter of corporations reporting record levels of “profit”, building up record cash hoards, and their executives personally looting these corporate hoards in the form of “bonuses”. All this even though the original stated purpose of the Bailout was to get liquidity circulating again. Today, not only does the government tolerate what’s obviously fraudulent accounting, disaster profiteering, and the obstinate refusal of corporate elites to live up to the terms of the Bailout. (I include all corporate sectors among the bailed out, since the bankster and government allegation was that all sectors would perish unless the TBTF banks were bailed out, and no other sector dissented from this, because they all expected the Bailout to trickle down to at least their own stock prices and exec comp.)
 
Not only does it do this, but it proclaims that this “jobless recovery” is in fact the real recovery they intended all along. Thus we have the same history as in Iraq: The initial rationale is proven to have been a Big Lie. The government then starts inventing new rationales ad hoc, temporarily proclaiming victory according to each, until forced by reality to move on to the next, further attenuated rationale and metric.
 
So we have Sodom-like corporate profiteering as the real economy continues to deteriorate, indeed in inverse proportion to the rising calls for “austerity”, that public amenities and civil society need to be gutted because there’s not enough existing wealth to support them.
 
Corporate profiteering and personal looting by executives, vs. austerity. This ratio is a direct metric of organized crime. It’s nothing but monumental, capital crime. Corporatism is the system of command economy, and trickle-down is ideology meant to justify it. But corporatism is nothing but robbery, and trickle-down nothing but the verbal part of fraud. Advocacy of it abets capital robbery. This incriminates both Washington gangs, the entire MSM, most of academia, and conservatism and liberalism as a whole.
 
In a formula:
 
Capitalism = corporatism and trickle-down = organized crime.
 
This is not a new kind of corporate behavior. Privateering, the formal charter to commit crimes, goes back to the 16th century, the dawn of the corporate form. Corporations were envisioned in the first place to help enable “violent crime grafted onto trade”, as Nace put it. The very term “free trade” originally referred directly to freedom from the law. Or as Hannah Arendt wrote in Origins of Totalitarianism, legalized gangsters sought to use politics to regulate their bloodshed. The British East India Company’s violent lawlessness is exactly mirrored today in the form every sort of corporate thuggery and the way corporate crimes are generally considered above and outside the law. Blackwater, explicitly declared above the law and granted a charter to literally perpetrate massacres, is merely the distillation of the way every large corporation is empowered to act, and the way they usually do act. Indeed, in principle this is the way they are required to act according to the core principle that profit-seeking is the only acceptable value. (The question of what kind of sick society would ever have enshrined such a sociopathic form in the first place I’ll leave for another time. But I’ll say here that the very existence of profit-seeking corporations reflects a self-loathing and self-destructiveness on the part of civilization itself.)
 
Today’s “free trade” has exactly the same criminal nature, but the term has been sanitized to refer to an economic theory rather than a legal concept of chartered outlawry.
 
Today it’s true in a precise sense that corporations are formally legalized criminal organizations. Take for example the repeal of the bucket laws, which used to recognize gambling as gambling whether done over dice in a back alley or stocks on an exchange. A bank couldn’t ask the state to enforce a wager any more than a two-bit hood. But these sane laws started being repealed in the 1980s. The process culminated in the CFMA in 2000. Now what was naturally unproductive antisocial gambling was legalized as a “contract”. The result was massively bloated bank profits and hideous distortions of the economy, climaxing in the crash of the real economy. (This is the intended culmination of financialization itself.) The crash was then used as the pretext for the Bailout and austerity. This entire process was premeditated and had its origin in the legalization of what are naturally outlawed acts. The massive conspiracy, dating back to the 90s, to fraudulently induce mortgages was enabled by this original legalization. And the rest of the crimes were piggybacked on these.
 
This is both the most extremely destructive and the most typical of the formal legalizations of organized crime which are bound up in the corporate form. While many of the subsequent crimes may still technically be illegal, they were enabled by the underlying legalization of gambling. (And once the government has been corrupted enough, even existing laws are no longer enforced, as we see every day. This is simply the de facto legalization of corporate crime.)
 
Yet today most people fail to see this. The magnitude of the crime, and the government imprimatur accorded it, is such that it becomes hard to register. Pro-corporate propaganda and indoctrination reinforce this self-obfuscation. This is what Hitler intended with his doctrine of the Big Lie. (This same magnitude of crime enabled by the hijacked law and corrupted polity also renders it impossible for the existing system of law to rein such crimes back in and impose any deserved justice. When the day comes that the people finally take back their country from such criminals, nothing short of a Nuremburg-level proceeding is sufficient to the task of justice.)
 
So we have a regime where responsibility for every crime, the robbery of trillions, international murder, slavery, the ravaging of the environment, conspiracies against plant genomes, and anything else profitable, are either directly legalized at the corporate behest or else laundered through the corporate form and dissolved.
 
All this is within the prescribed use of corporations. These are not “abuses”.
 
Here’s another example. Corporations serve as the underlying for the stock market. The stock market has a fraudulent basis in the first place, since only the first offering actually raises capital. The rest is just the same legalized gambling. It has never been anything but socially and economically destructive. And by what reality-based measure does stock price reflect value at all? Yet once you enshrine it as the most important measure of value, control fraud becomes ideologically justified. From there the next step is to change the law and/or regulation itself. Again, organized crime becomes legalized.
 
One of the ways the law gets changed is through pro-corporate SCOTUS decisions, like the recent one striking down most of the enforcement potential* of the “honest services” law, which was a modest attempt to retain some criminal liability for the most egregious executive fraud. This is just one example of how corporate power has corrupted our institutions, that even in the rare cases where the legislative branch tries to do part of its job, the judiciary blocks it.
 
[*In my previous corporatism post I referred to the double standard of law and jurisprudence enshrined by the SCOTUS where it comes to corporate speech. Corporate speech "rights" are interpreted extremely loosely, while at the same moment, in the same cases, corruption is interpreted with extreme pedantry. If there's not a physical sack with a dollar sign drawn on it, it's not corruption.
 
The SCOTUS just applied this same strict standard of "corruption" in the honest services case, declaring that the law is constitutional only where applied to explicit kickbacks and such. Obviously, this is meant to gut the law in practice, since today's corruption is generally more sophisticated than that. But SCOTUS jurisprudence is designed to let all implicit corruption elude accountability.]
 
We’ll soon find out what’s the latest from the SCOTUS on unconscionable contracts of adhesion, extortionate “contracts” forced upon us through the coercion of monopoly and artificially created economic hardship. These strong-arm contracts are increasingly popular, and are imposed anywhere the corporations attain the position of dominance which enables them. In theory such contracts, just like gambling, are supposed to be unenforceable, uncontracts. But here too the SCOTUS has usually served as the corporate goon. The Lochner era was based upon the legalization of “contract” extortion, and although the court nominally abandoned this doctrine in 1937, in practice courts almost always still find such contracts valid. In the case of AT&T vs. Concepcion, AT&T’s thefts were so outrageous that the lower courts found the contracts it imposed, forestalling its victims to combine to sue as a class, to be unconscionable. But this will be the SCOTUS’ big chance to restore Lochner as official court doctrine. 
 
Meanwhile government contractors, starting with the weapons rackets, are implicitly encouraged to bilk the taxpayer out of billions. By now it’s not conventional corruption but systematic corporatist robbery, with the DoD and other agencies as bagmen. Robert Gates once explicitly told an audience of weapons racketeers that where it comes to the military Obama’s top priority is an ever-escalating Pentagon budget as such, as a value in its own right.
 
Those are just a few examples of systematic corruption, i.e. organized crime. The term kleptocracy should be understood in a profound way. Corporatism comprises a new paradigm of criminal practices, and the pro-corporate mindset is a characteristic, immutable criminal mindset. It’s not just a set of criminal actions, but an indelible criminal essence. It’s the mindset that we can no longer exist at all without being totally controlled by corporations, having all we produce monopolized and stolen by corporations, and submitting at every moment to corporate imperatives even in our very thoughts. The elites, for obvious reasons, believe this themselves. The system they’ve set up is dedicated to enforcing this corporate totalitarianism from the top down. The corporations themselves have no purpose at all except to preserve and intensify this kleptocracy, and to keep stealing.
 
But we know that we don’t need corporations to have a vibrant, productive economy. We know we’d be far more productive without them. Without them we would restore our prosperity, our communities, our social morality, and our democracy. The only thing in the way of our redeeming our humanity and saving our lives and freedom are a few gangsters, organized as big corporations. The corporate form is what enables this in the first place. Let’s abolish it. 

November 23, 2010

Guns, Butter, and Bonuses (MMT, Money, and Deficits) Part 2

 

In part 1 I discussed some of the core lies of neoliberalism: That money creation is based on deposits; that we need the banks in order to create money; that money creation without risking runaway inflation is constrained by anything other than the capacity utilization of the economy; that under today’s Depression circumstances America faces any “deficit problem” at all other than the political one created by the criminals who are looking for a pretext to steal yet more trillions under the rubric of “austerity”.
 
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), the latest incarnation of a much older idea once called producerism, greenbackerism, chartalism, and other names, teaches these truths. So in these senses MMT is objectively subversive of the particular status quo which afflicts us today. It means the banks have no legitimacy and shouldn’t exist at all.
 
Money creation is a sovereign power of the people, and a core responsibility of government if we’re to have a government at all. Whether done directly by the government or through the middleman of the banks, money creation is done out of thin air, simply by crediting the account of a loan or payment recipient. The right way to create money is to gauge the money supply to the productive capacity of the real economy. If there’s capacity underutilization, the government should engage in deficit spending to fill the gap, until it has done enough to stimulate the full productive capacity and full employment. This is MMT’s prescription, according to many of the MMTers I’ve read.
 
The most direct, efficient, rational, and productive way to do this is for government to directly issue money, directly credit accounts.
 
Contrary to popular propaganda, the banks don’t create money as a multiple of deposits, but simply create it out of thin air. They do this not for the sake of economic health, but for their privatized rent-seeking. They want nothing but control of money in order to steal as much of every transaction as possible. The banks tax economic activity at least as much as the government does, but bank taxation is far more destructive in principle. Government taxation, although usually excessive and tyrannical in practice*, can in principle be measured and used for the sake of rearranging wealth so that economic well-being and productivity is maximized. But bank taxation is never anything other than purely greedy, purely destructive, and never has any measure other than how much they can get away with stealing. That’s what the financialization of the economy is, the attachment of a permanent financial parasite to the real productive activity of a people. This parasite does nothing but suck ever larger amounts of our life blood, steadily weakening us and even achieving motor control over our actions.
 
[*Today we have terminal kleptocracy, and this government, itself a creature of the banks, will never tax for any purpose other than to help the banks and corporations steal. So I'm certainly not calling for this particular government to tax more. On the contrary I say we must reject and resist all new or extended taxes on the non-rich.
 
In this discussion I only want to establish the principle that, as a matter of reformist philosophy, for the government to resume the full money creation and taxation power from the banks would be a progressive step.
 
But in the end we must get rid of centralized government as well.] 
 
Once the banks have financialized the economy, they believe in and demand rampant deficit spending, but they want it detached from all real production. Under financialization, the currency becomes mere funny money for bankster gambling and speculation, while all losses and destructive effects are socialized on the productive people.
 
Toward this end, the bankster-bought government has alienated its sovereign currency and its sovereign power. Thanks to the government’s corruption and abdication, the banks create money, not for socially and economically productive ends, but for destructive profiteering.
 
But the government could just as easily reclaim its money sovereignty and directly issue the money, and do so toward the goal of a healthy, productive real economy. We wouldn’t need the big banks to exist at all, and could be rid of them. There would be no threat of destructive inflation from this money issuance so long as there’s major capacity overhang and unemployment in the economy, as there is today.
 
Meanwhile the banks encourage unhealthy corporatist deficit spending (A2 = C, in my terminology from part 1, instead of the healthy A1 = B), and neo-austerity-mongers like Krugman embark upon their own bait and switch, wanting to surreptitiously switch in A2 for the A1 they previously advocated, and the C for the B. But they face two prospects of change: The possibility of having to capitulate to deflation at some point; and the possibility that the old greenbacker idea, in today’s MMT form, will get more and more traction.
 
As a contingency plan, they’ve started floating trial balloons for a restored gold standard. This is an old bankster trick. In the short run, it’s standard political misdirection. In the 19th century they used to call it “sound money” and “honest money”, and this does have a surface plausibility.
 
In the long run, any metal standard is always used to artificially constrict the money supply among participants in the real economy, in order to force them into debt. Whether it’s a time of real inflation or real deflation, the gold standard is used the same way, as a depressant and control over the non-finance sectors, and especially the non-rich. In our circumstance, as deflation definitively sets in, a gold standard would be used by the banksters to accelerate it beyond its natural pace, in order to more effectively impose debt indenture and strangulation. A gold standard would simply be austerity by other means.
 
So there’s more evidence that the true reform solution, if we’re to continue with a centralized economy at all, is that:
 
1. The government should directly issue greenbacks;
 
2. toward economically productive goals.
 
No “finance sector” necessary.
 
So the reformist MMT idea is an attempted end run around the criminal hoarding of social wealth on the part of the banks and corporations. The call for direct government issuance, including deficit spending when the economy is depressed, would be an attempt to bring the circulating supply of money in line with the economy’s productive capacity and counteract the intentional withholding of money from the economy by rent-seeking criminals who hoard that money (all stolen), and who do so in order to prop up those same rents.
 
There are various proposals which mean in effect crediting the accounts of the unemployed. Right there we can already see a structural weakness in the concept, since it seems to assume the continuance of bank accounts. Well, maybe it could refer only to local banks, credit unions, state banks. (I’m going to expand on a few of these ideas in an upcoming post on state banking.) The proposals could be called partial refunds of our money the banks stole through the Bailout.
 
While I’m not calling for such a program myself, let me stress that Washington already does “credit the bank accounts” of the unemployed. It’s just that these particular unemployed are the parasites of the FIRE sector, Pentagon sector, Big Ag, and all the rest of the corporate welfare recipients who do no work at all, who only destroy. Meanwhile to give money directly to the nominal unemployed would in fact be giving the money to productive workers who are unemployed only because those same banks intentionally destroyed their jobs.
 
This is in fact what MMTers advocate. Here’s a typical proposal from Marshall Auerback:
 

What we desperately need to do is to increase our deficit by several percentage points of GDP and offer public sector jobs to all those who want one. Government as Employer of Last Resort is one idea I have been pushing (along with Randy Wray, Bill Mitchell and a host of other people). As I said in an earlier post,

The U.S. Government can proceed directly to zero unemployment by hiring all of the labor that cannot find private sector employment. Furthermore, by fixing the wage paid under this ELR program at a level that does not disrupt existing labor markets, i.e., a wage level close to the existing minimum wage, substantive price stability can be expected. Other benefits could be provided, including vacation and sick leave, and contributions to Social Security and, most importantly, health care benefits, providing scope for a bottom up reform of the current patchwork health care system……

At any rate, what we desperately need to do is to increase our deficit by several percentage points of GDP and offer public sector jobs to all those who want one. We thus have to aim to ensure public spending fills the gap left by non-government saving (a consolidated position combining the private domestic and foreign sectors) and keeps aggregate demand growing at such a rate that it provides scope for the private savings desires to be realised without compromising our public purpose goal to ensure there is sustained full employment and inclusive income distribution outcomes.

But by far the majority of the unemployed workers could be offered a minimum wage job to work on community and environmental care projects for as long as they desired. I would suggest we also raise the minimum wage so that everyone has access to decent housing and health care etc. But the ELR scheme would only be offering a wage to workers who have no market bid for their services by definition. It will give them a job, some income security, will add to aggregate demand and help stimulate a broader recovery and, in itself, will not be inflationary.

 
As Auerback says, many of his colleagues support similar ideas. While I reject the specifics*, it’s good that the basic idea is spreading. It’s a cognitive rebellion against the structural bank paradigm itself, and against the deficit terrorist “austerity” propaganda and policy demands.
 
[*What's wrong with specific MMT-related job creation programs:
 
1. They still want this job creation within the capitalist framework, and explicitly don't want to create living wage jobs. (Edit: Cf. comments below for more on this. My critique here may not apply to every proposal.)
 
2. Nor are the jobs supposed to compete with the inefficient, uncompetitive private sector. So these proposals want the worst of capitalism in every aspect, the structural inefficiency and incompetence as well as the exploitation of the worker.
 
3. No doubt in practice the disbursement and administration would be corporatized. We saw how Obama's idea of "job creation" is employer tax credits, i.e. another useless, expensive corporate toll booth. No other job creation program under corporate circumstances is likely to be executed any differently.
 
4. What these proposals really want to do is deliver a modest direct payment, but because they think it would be more politically palatable, they want to launder it through degrading makework. But I don't think even the politics would work out that way. Nobody seems willing to learn, you can't appease neoliberalism. Anything you try to do, good or meager, will be equally demonized. So why not demand the good, instead of a program which looks like real-life version of a caricature from a conservative polemic?
 
If you want a job creation program, go for the jugular, and do it with pride. Let it be real work at a real wage. Compete directly with the inefficient private sector, and proclaim that competition as a selling point, not a matter for fear and shame the way these guys seem to think it is. One can never win politically through timidity and appeasement. The best chance is always to seek to compel respect through an honest, frontal assault.]
 
In the end this is will all still be academic if it takes the current political parameters as given. For there to be effective fiscal policy change presupposes a general, radical political transformation. I think MMT can be part of the mix of transformative ideas, but is doomed to be relegated to arcana if its advocates see themselves as mere “reformers within the system”, and maybe not even that.
 
Here’s how I see things. My moral derivation from MMT (which I’m not claiming is part of MMT, but which I do claim morally and rationally follows from it) is that since money in itself has value only on account of government fiat (because government will accept it for tax purposes), therefore it follows that money can never legitimately serve as a “store of value”.
 
It can count as “property” only where it’s actually circulating or fermenting as a truly productive investment. Only then is it participating in the public life of the society which gives it life in the first place.
 
Money being hoarded, antisocial money, money as a store of value, in effect has no right to exist at all, and should be restituted to its proper owner to be put to its proper use. “Store of value” represents unproductive, parasitic hoarding of the public resource. Resources must be used productively in order to confer legitimacy of possession upon the possessor. One is a participant in the economy to the extent he is an agent of the velocity of useful, constructive activity (not mere “velocity of money”). One who’s not such a participant has no valid claim on society’s resources. That includes all rentier parasites. Hoarded “property” is nothing but stagnation, rot.
 
Hoarded wealth is both useless and pathological. Since all wealth is produced by people working together, even if we agreed to channel more of it through some hands than others, this could be fair and efficient only if the intent were to give them greater opportunity to enjoy the wealth only through the act of recirculating it, spending it in the real economy.
 
But for someone so blessed to instead hoard and financialize is a double-cross. It’s breaking the deal which distributed that wealth in the first place. (As for the “investment” justification, history has empirically proven that beyond a modicum, concentrated wealth is not productively invested but is used for unproductive, destructive speculation and gambling. In the same vein, corporations which aren’t producing but merely hoarding, as so many are today, have no right to be “taking profits” at all. By definition any such extractions are just looting. Under today’s post-capitalist conditions, the forms of capitalism are no longer valid. They’re worthless and worse than worthless. Pernicious.)
 
This is the basic critique of idle, useless “property”: Since all value is a cooperative endeavor, and the only rationale for allowing property rights would be to increase the cooperative value and happiness, therefore as individuals and groups we have a legitimate right to useful possession, but none to stagnant hoarded “property”. We should apply this to money, purging the “store of value” concept.
 
So that’s why I say sitting on wealth, relegating it to unproductivity, is useless in any practical sense, and has no moral validity because it abrogates the social contract under which it was unequally distributed in the first place. Only constructive velocity can justify inequality of distribution. (Again, wealth is cooperatively generated in the first place. Even the greatest thinker still stands on the shoulders of his predecessors, and on the education society provided him. And he then depends upon the resources of nature and the work of many others to bring his ideas to fruition.)
 
In all this I’m referring to large wealth concentrations. I’m not referring to attempts at saving on the part of the non-rich under this system, where people are forced by circumstances to try to save for the hardships of the future, since we have no adequate social support system or safety net. The neoliberal barbarians of today want to do away with civilization itself.
 
But in a human community there would never be any need or justification for unproductive hoarding. Useful possession is the measure of legitimate possession. MMT supports this with its proposition that since money is created only by the government, and only as an economic lubricant of the productivity of the people, money as a “store of value”, that is the hoarding of it, has no rational or moral legitimacy.
 
So getting back to MMT’s accounting identity, here’s the course of action to render things morally and rationally valid: The government can run a deficit in order to stimulate the depressed real economy (this depression being accounted for by the “surplus” hoarded by the banks and corporations), so its production recovers from the vandalism inflicted upon it by the banks, and counteracts their depressive criminal assaults which destroy jobs and relegate resources to uselessness. The government could even redeem its sovereignty and smash the criminals, restituting this stolen “private surplus” and restoring it to the productive people who are its true owners. In all this, there would be no practical reason nor moral right for the big banks to exist.
 
In the course of this restitution the economy’s productive potential could be focused on the transformation from the fossil fuel based “growth” economy to the post-oil steady-state economy.
 
Once this was done, there would no longer be a need for a government deficit, or for a centralized government at all. This could be retired as the now fully employed, fully productive steady state economy rationally and prosperously proceeds.
 
These ideas will become more and more apparent as the criminal disease metastasizes. For now the point here is to be aware of these facts:
 
1. Government will spend on anything it wants. (And so long as the economy is depressed, it can spend as much as it wants without fear of triggering inflation.) The elites, whether aware of the real nature of money or not, all implicitly agree that deficits don’t matter. Their actions prove this.
 
2. But the elites tell the lie that spending is constrained in order to justify cutting public interest spending and raising taxes on the non-rich.
 
This conjunction of 1. and 2.  explains the obvious, grotesque contradiction of a government hemorrhaging borrowed money and deficit spending on bailouts, wars, and corporate welfare at the same time it calls for “austerity”. (This juxtaposition is so patently idiotic and obscene that I don’t understand why just by itself it doesn’t trigger a revolution. Is it really possible to be so dense and/or compliant that one can’t see the manifest bad faith, indeed total criminality, of such a government?)
 
3. For now we can’t do much about 1., but we can expose the lie upon which 2. is based. That’s the mission of MMT.

November 9, 2010

The Corporatism of Food and the Sustainable Solution

 

The so-called Green Revolution was one of the great myths of our time. The Big Lie is that there was great famine around the world, caused, as Malthus would say, by the depraved profligacy of the poor. According to this lie the Green Revolution, i.e. monocropping with massive fossil fuel and chemical poison inputs, all of it under the auspices of multinational corporations, brought food to these benighted, helpless masses.
 
The truth is that for thousands of years the growers of the world always produced enough food for themselves and their communities. This has remained true in modern times. Natural famines are practically unrecorded in history. On the contrary, almost all mass famines have occurred in modern times, and they have all been the purely artificial result of food being stolen by non-productive classes from the productive class, under those same corporate and globalized-government distribution structures which the GR now claimed would save its own victims. But the GR was really intended to further impress this corporate global control upon them. It was really a vast example of disaster capitalism.
 
Much like with “consumerism” in general, the GR was never deployed the way it could have been, to provide enough goods in an equitably distributed way, so that all of us could have reduced our chore time (labor we would not choose to perform) and increased our time for truly chosen productive labor and creative leisure. Instead it produced a huge glut of mostly inferior and even destructive luxury items, to be rationed by wealth, while an ever-growing mass struggles to maintain even its original, pre-”consumer” level of consumption. The result of the GR, and probably its intent, has been to string along ever greater numbers, by now the larger part of 7 billion people, at close to a subsistence level, with billions knowing chronic food insecurity, and millions at any time experiencing acute hunger. These chronic shortages and acute famines occur amid the tremendous fossil-fueled plenty of industrial food production. This is sort of a second kind of reserve army of capitalism, but its a surplus of starvers. They first started appearing in great numbers in the 1970s. That right there proves the Green Revolution was never intended to feed the world but only the corporate profit maw. The hunger and starvation is therefore always artificially and intentionally produced by the corporate agriculture system. The most recent manifestations of this were the 2008-10 famines produced by commodity speculation and the diversion of production from food to agrofuels for Western personal cars. These examples were typical of the historical practice going back to 19th century colonialism. Elite-dominated global “trade”, really a command economy of plunder, was simply set up to replicate on a global basis the oldest systematic theft know to history, that of non-producing elites stealing food from those who produce it. This is a permanent, indelible feature of it.
 
I’ll add that this is a quality universal to elitist ideology, whether it’s the kind called “right” or “left” (or “center”): The farmer is a born slave whose only purpose on Earth is to be subjugated and exploited toward some better goal of the better class of people.
 
This all complemented the general neoliberal onslaught. The basic ideology: Food is not food, but a “commodity”. This commodity fundamentalism was forced upon the world’s people at every level possible, from globalization “development” programs to Earl Butz with his “fencerow to fencerow”, “Get Big or Get Out”, and regime of direct payments to commodity crop producers. Corporatism is the only right, while all that’s human is disenfranchised.
 
The full development of this logic is the financialization of food. Food is now a bankster shooting gallery, the playpen of speculators, and world food production and distribution is a casino for the bailed-out insolvent banks. Picture a hungry child neglected and kicked around on the casino floor while his drunken father, who has completely forgotten about him, gambles around the clock with the family’s life savings. (Except that this child really shouldn’t be a child at all, but a fully capable productive adult. It’s only his having been dragged into the casino in the first place which infantilized him and rendered him helpless. The gambler isn’t really his father, but an abusive stranger who kidnapped him. Neither the gambler nor the casino should exist at all, and the child’s liberation and feast shall come on the day he burns them down.)
 
That’s why there’s still such widespread hunger. It’s all artificial, just another manifestation of the profitable scarcity amid plenty hardwired into “capitalism”. And today the Fed’s QE2 is set to drive another round.  
 
This sure puts in perspective the accusations of corporate hacks and system conformists, that sustainable food advocates wouldn’t be able to feed the world if our ideas were put into practice. To begin with, unlike the corporations and their flunkey governments, we sure would try to feed everyone. Our way wouldn’t doom vast numbers to insufficient food by design.
 
Let’s look at the record of corporate oil-driven agriculture and its “green revolution”.
 
First, the Green Revolution was always based on ecological and resource deficit spending. Allegedly higher yields were the result of oil and natural gas inputs, and based on the complete depletion all the soil’s natural nutrients. The zombie soil was then to be jolted along with gas-based synthetic fertilizer and oil-based pesticides and herbicides. So the short-term production surge was at the expense of dismantling all resilient production and distribution structures, dooming all pre-oil practices to neglect and oblivion, and the soil itself to increasing sterility and erosion (since monocropped zombie soil has no resistance at all to water and wind). Once the cheap oil stops flowing, the whole thing is doomed to catastrophically collapse.
 
Second, has this alleged higher production actually benefited the people the way the propaganda says? Not according to this excerpt from Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton’s A Nation of Farmers.
 

To discover whether we can feed the world, first we need to ask whether increased yields have actually meant more available food and nutrition. In fact, this question has been answered—even the World Bank admitted in 1986 that more food does not mean less hunger. Access to food is the primary issue—if it were not, the US would have no hungry people instead of 35 million food-insecure people. Food access is the most important issue in feeding the world, as economist Amartya Sen, among other people, has discussed at length. In Donald Freebairn’s analysis of more than 300 research reports on Green Revolution results, he found that 80 percent of them showed that inequity increased with the adoption of Green Revolution techniques.3

 
Or I should say, authorities starting with the corporatists’ own World Bank admit it’s a lie.
 
The system of destroying indigenous farming cultures based mostly on diverse crops, subsistence farming, and regional trade, and replacing it with commodity crop monoculture for globalized export, and all of it under the thumb of a bankster-dominated “market”, is clearly a campaign of class war plunder. It’s hard to imagine how anyone was ever daft enough to actually believe that the world’s non-rich would be better off this way. But then, ideology often plays the same role as religion in psychologically lubricating criminality.
 
Third, did the GR actually increase yields the way it claimed? This may be the result of a statistical manipulation:
 

Dissecting figures about hunger in World Hunger: 12 Myths, Lappé, Collins, et al. note that though figures at first seem to suggest that the Green Revolution made real gains in hunger reduction because total food available between 1970 and 1990 rose by 11 percent and the estimated number of hungry people fell from 942 million to 786 million, this is not really true. If you take China out of this discussion, the figures look very different. Removing China from the equation, the number of hungry people in the developing world rose from 536 to 597 million. And,

In South America, while food supplies rose almost 8 percent, the number of hungry people also went up, by 19 percent.… In South Asia there was 9 percent more food per person by 1990, but there were also 9 percent more hungry people. The remarkable difference in China, where the number of hungry dropped from 406 million to 189 million almost begs the question: which has been more effective at reducing hunger, the Green Revolution or the Chinese Revolution?4

This suggests that first of all, though absolute food availability is relevant, it is not as relevant as distribution and economic justice. And because China was a comparatively late adopter of Green Revolution seeds and techniques, it also suggests that the Green Revolution itself may be less important than improved agricultural techniques that apply just as much to organic agriculture as to chemical agriculture.

 
So perhaps the booster figures are primarily the result of gains in China. China was not improving from a normal baseline, but was recovering from the self-imposed disaster of the Great Leap Forward (another ideological campaign, much like neoliberalism, but the communist variety).
 
So if we remove the low-hanging fruit of rapidly recovering Chinese production in the 70s, which may have had little to do with GR methods anyway, we see that even in its heyday the Green Revolution was quickly running up against diminishing returns, which were meager and even negative.
 
Finally, the basic scam of industrial agriculture’s propaganda is that it outproduces traditional agriculture at all. This is based on the simple lie of measuring production according to some industrial metric which elides total productivity and debases human labor to the level of a pestiferous “input”.
 

It is commonplace to assume that organic agriculture yields less than conventional agriculture and that we would have to endure enormous losses in yield were we to give up chemical inputs. The yield increases of the Green Revolution are commonly articulated in isolation, without discussion of comparisons with organic yields. To determine how important the Green Revolution was, then, we need to go through the outputs of the Green Revolution and ask whether increased agricultural yields depend upon Green Revolution techniques. If, for example, agricultural yields depended on mechanization, we would expect mechanized agriculture to consistently out-yield hand labor. If they depend upon chemical inputs, we would expect organic agriculture to be heavily out-yielded by conventional industrial agriculture. And if they depend on plant breeding, we would expect older varieties to be out-yielded by newer ones.

Are these things true? Well, not in absolute terms. That is, small farms, which generally speaking use much less mechanization, fewer inputs and are more likely to use older plant varieties and save seed than large ones, actually are more productive per acre in total output than large farms. At the extreme ends of this, we can see this disparity in Ecology Action’s biointensive gardening methods, which offer yields per acre much, much higher than industrial agriculture can achieve—without fossil fuel inputs, using open-pollinated seeds.

But on a larger scale this is true as well. In Deep Economy, Bill McKibben argues that the 2002 Agricultural Census confirms this greater productivity of small farms using more hand labor—small farms produce more food per acre by every measure, whether calories, tons or dollars.5 What mechanization does do is reduce the amount of human labor required. However, in a world with 6.6 billion humans and growing, human labor is a widely available resource.

 
So corporate agriculture is more productive only from the point of view of maximizing corporate profit. Kind of a self-serving, circular reasoning, isn’t it?
 
The fact is that when we look at total yield, small, less fossil fuel-intensive, less mechanized farms outyield big industrial farms.
 

It is also true that organic agriculture as a whole can consistently match yields with conventional agriculture, suggesting that we do not depend on artificial fertilizers or pesticides. In a 2007 paper, “Organic Agriculture and the Global Food Supply,” the authors demonstrated that organic methods would offer a substantial net increase in yields in the Global South, while continuing comparable yields in the Global North. In a world-wide organic only policy “farms could produce between 2,641 and 4,381 calories per person per day compared to the current world equivalent of 2,786 calories per person per day.”

In other studies, agronomist Jules Pretty studied 200 sustainable agricultural projects in 52 countries and observed that, per hectare, sustainable practices led to a 93 percent average increase in food production. Grain yields, as discussed in his volume Agri-Culture, had average yield increase of 73 percent over studies including 4.5 million farmers.6

The Rodale Institute has been running test plots of conventionally farmed corn and soybean rotations (the practice of most Midwestern farms) against organically grown plots, where soil is maintained wholly by cover crops, and another where a fodder crop is grown and fed to cows whose manures are returned to the soil. The difference in total yields between the three plots is less than 1 percent. And during drought years, the organic plots dramatically out-yielded conventional ones because of higher organic matter in the soil. The cover-crop-fed plots produced twice as many soybeans as the conventionally farmed ones.7

 
As for small farms being more labor-intensive, we should see this as a feature. Once farm work is actually paid its proper living wage, and from there becomes the autonomous, self-sustaining way of life it must eventually become if we’re to overcome the challenge of the end of cheap oil and oil-fueled agriculture, it shall be the foundation of the truly democratic and broadly prosperous economies and polities humanity must finally attain.
 
But industrial ag’s proclaimed mission to feed the world has never been anything more than corporate propaganda. Most countries can not only feed themselves but double their production, using organic practices. But they can’t do it under bankster and corporate domination.
 
With Land Reform and a democratic food producer Renaissance, we can finally produce and distribute enough food for all. We the people shall grow it ourselves, manage it ourselves, and keep it all for ourselves.

November 8, 2010

The Banksters Literally Steal Our Food

 

At least since Malthus the flunkeys of the rich have blamed hunger under capitalism on the profligacy of the producers themselves, rather than the systematic theft of the food itself by parasites who play no role in producing it or anything else. The claim always boils down to there being “not enough food”. But the fact is that there’s always been enough food, and scarcity and hunger have always been artificially produced. This is intentionally endemic to “markets”, and is also the knock-on effect of speculative finance.
 
There is enough food, and it all belongs to the producers. This includes the markets for it, which should of course be as local as possible. No one who actually works advocates globalization.
 
We can see the truth of this wherever we look at how financialization has hijacked food markets. Starting with the 19th century crop lien system the bankster “markets” have always manipulated first the money supply and then the cycles of market pricing. The intended result was always that the farmer would have to go deeply into debt at the highest interest rate to commence the season’s planting, but could only sell at the lowest price at harvest time. Consolidation at all processing and distribution points has only increased since then.
 
The monetary manipulation continues to this day. Today the main vehicle is commodity speculation. Prior to 2000 commodity speculators couldn’t easily manipulate the price of food and fuel because pension funds were legally forestalled from such purely speculative bets. Goldman Sachs even used to advise buying commodities as a hedge precisely because their prices were uncorrelated with stock prices. They weren’t an “asset” targeted for manipulation in periods of a weak dollar.
 
That changed with the CFMA. Just as it legalized so many other forms of finance crime, the CFMA opened the floodgates to institutional “investment” in gambling on commodities. Now speculators had a potentially vast amount of capital they could induce into their attempts at manipulation of markets for food and fuel. We who actually use food and fuel became the hostages of this manipulation, the victims of these newly legalized crimes.  
 
Since the rates cuts which started in 2007, that is since the inception of the bank bailouts, the bankster money has flowed into the smaller oil energy and food markets. Under the Bailout, “quantitative easing” (QE) fuels this speculation. The taxpayer, including the farmer, provides the money for it. Or I should say the government steals our money and hands it over to finance gangsters and other corporate welfare patients who use it as a weapon against us.
 
After a brief collapse of the markets following he crash and subsequent phony stock rally, in 2010 the banksters have returned to wheat and corn in force, steadily driving up the prices since July 1st. Corn and soy are now at two-year highs, and short only of the last big speculation-driven spike in 2008.
 
With QE2 the Fed now wants to goose this process. By lowering mid-term rates, and thus lessening the spread between short and middle by which the banksters have been stealing free money from the people and then lending it back to us at a much higher rate, this will likely drive them out of Treasuries and further into commodities. The Fed apparently wants to further foster this speculation. It wants to drive up food and fuel prices for end users, thereby contradicting both its anti-inflation and pro-employment mandates. (It’ll probably also backstop the bets with default insurance and other less remarked upon features of the Bailout.)
 
(This is a metric for how overheated the stock market has become during its phony Bailout-financed rally. That the banksters ranged beyond stocks and again into commodities indicates that they believe stocks have been pumped as high as they can “reasonably”, i.e. under Bailout conditions, go. Wall Street expects that bubble can burst at any time. So they went off to inflate a new one elsewhere.) 
 
Meanwhile speculation-driven food crisis has been used as another opportunity for disaster capitalism. It’s the classic dynamic: The corporate predators create the problem, which forces a confused and often enraged reaction. The same criminals take advantage of the confusion and anger to push through policy change which benefits them and disadvantages the victims further. In this case the plan is to use the crisis, which is caused by the erosion of food sovereignty, to further destroy food sovereignty. Just as in the US corporate-caused food outbreaks are being used as the pretext for pro-corporate policy aggression under the guise of “food safety”, so the globalizers and many NGOs are demanding further globalization as the answer to globalization-driven food crisis. Thus the UN FAO has called for more regulation, and a better “global governance system”. We can probably expect more of the long-discredited calls for “freer” trade and greater industrial yield, although like every other feature of neoliberalism these are already proven failures at feeding the world’s people.
 
What’s really happening here? The real goal of all finance speculation is to use this funny money to buy up and dominate all the globe’s real assets. With direct commodity speculation, the parasites used hoarded wealth (stolen from the people via the Bailout) to drive up commodity prices, playing these markets like the stock market. This forces higher prices on the end consumers. But the farmer doesn’t get the benefit of these higher prices. Prior to the CFMA and the speculation explosion, the farmer was already mostly liquidated by corporate consolidation. Just like in every other sector, the autonomous producer has been driven out, reduced to a hired hand. Financialization softened the blow while it was taking place, through the mechanisms of cheap consumer debt and cheap consumer goods.
 
But now that the liquidation is largely complete, the freebie time is over. We’re hooked, and now it’s time to jack up the price. The global economy will continue its deflation while food and fuel prices will surge. We’ll now undergo full stagflation (“screwflation”, as the banksters themselves call it) even as the price of debt keeps rising. That’s how our indenture will proceed.
 
How are we going to fight back against this? First we need to propagate the basic ideas:
 
1. They are criminals.
 
Any animal with the power to resist understands its interest enough to respond with ferocity when another animal tries to steal its food.
 
So are we too stupid to understand what to do when the scavenger-predator speculator comes along? (The movie has Patton saying, “When you reach into a pile of goo that a minute ago was your best friend’s face, you’ll know what to do.” Do we?)
 
It’s weird how in any other context everyone knows how to identify a terrorist or a Mafia gangster, but I can read endless bland accounts of currencies “coming under attack”, and no one ever draws the obvious conclusion. It’s an inverse miracle of brainwashing Goebbels would envy.
 
2. What should be done? The first, reformist, goal would be to ban all speculation.
 
My earlier reference to the Fed’s dereliction regarding its “mandates” highlights how there’s no such thing as “the US economy”.
 
There’s the phony finance “economy” of Bernanke and his bankster masters, for whom this financialized pseudo-economy is the only meaningful economy, for whom asset inflation is the goal and rationale of all policy, and commodity inflation a nice side dish.
 
Then there’s the real economy of the real American people, and the real people of the world, who are purely the subjects and victims of these crimes and these criminals.
 
It’s obvious that the real economy doesn’t need the financial parasite appendage at all, and that we’d do much, much better if the finance sector ceased to exist.
 
So that’s what should be done on the reform level. Outlaw all speculation. We just need one big bucket law. That’s the one and only true derivatives regulation. (A public-interest government, if we could gain that, could administer legitimate hedging on the part of actual producers.)
 
Beyond that, we need land reform. Since the end of the fossil fuel age means we’ll need millions more small farmers, and we also need these as a social and spiritual imperative, it follows that we need sufficient land for them. Land being criminally hoarded and taken out of production will have to be redeemed.
 
Finally, we need fully relocalized economies of free, autonomous producers. These economies will trade on the basis of real demand, not of top-down globalist command economy fiat.
 
So the two tasks are:
 
1. How to educate for these?
 
2. How to organize and take action to achieve these goals?
 
Why seek such ends? So that the productive people, who do all the work and create all the wealth, can feed their children and heat their homes in peace, unassaulted by the verminous criminals who want these children to go hungry in the cold.
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