July 2, 2012

Tax Farming – Mandates and Monsanto


The US continues its descent into neo-feudal barbarism, now resuscitating old-style tax farming with the open “constitutional” imprimatur of the SCOTUS. We see yet another parallel between today’s regime and the decrepit Ancien Regimes. The government can now, as a pseudo-constitutional matter, enforce any corporate mandate with its own thug “taxation” backup. Needless to say, this merely reveals the mandate itself as a tax which has been farmed out to corporations, and provides further evidence for the fact that corporations are extensions of government. It also provides a stark example of how taxation is not really a fiscal policy, but a policy of social and economic control and domination.
Meanwhile the courts of Brazil are trying to turn the corner, ruling that Monsanto’s extortion of a 2% tax on soy production (through its coerced GM soy contracts) is illegal. A provincial court has already ruled against Monsanto. While this ruling is on appeal to the highest provincial court, the supreme court has ruled (in rejecting a Monsanto petition) that any provincial ruling will apply to the entire country.
If the current ruling – that this is an illegal tax, that any seed patent is valid only for the first sale, and that the patent on Roundup Ready soy already expired in 2004 anyway – stands, Monsanto will have to pay at least $2 billion and possibly as much as $7.5 billion in restitution to Brazilian farmers, and its whole feudal/gangster regime in that country will lie in ruins.
This, coupled with the SCOTUS ruling here, highlights what I’ve warned many times – if the Obama Stamp tax/poll tax can be enforced, then there’s no theoretical limit to the corporate mandates/taxes which can be imposed. Monsanto will certainly start directly extorting taxes, and the US government will mandate GMOs, as soon as these seem politically doable. (I.e., as soon as the return-on-investment of such an assault looks good.)
While we can’t look to courts anywhere for our salvation, it’s nice to see a rare example of courts actually applying the legendary “rule of law” and trying to act in the public interest and against criminals. In the US, meanwhile, it’s clear that the courts, starting with the supremely corrupt corporate court, are nothing but flunkeys of corporate power, and have no legitimacy whatsoever.


June 29, 2012

The Obama Poll Tax (Part 2)


Margaret Thatcher, like her counterpart in the US, spent the 80s enshrining the neoliberal assault as the new standard for all political and economic policy. It has dominated all government policy since.
But toward the end of her reign Thatcher overreached, and this overreach helped bring on her downfall. This was her attempt to impose a Thatcher poll tax, what their euphemism called a “Community Charge”*, on the people of the UK. Since both Reagan and Thatcher agreed that government could borrow all the money it desires, and since they experienced few barriers to cutting taxes on the rich, this poll tax can be explained only as an assault on the non-rich. Like all taxes by now, its purpose is control, not revenue.
In one of the few bright episodes of recent decades, Thatcher’s poll tax was defeated by a campaign of mass civil disobedience, and the result was her ouster by her own party. So there we have the precedent which gives modern proof of concept: Refusal to pay an odious tax can achieve the same effect it did in 1765.
Today we confront the same thing. Americans remember the “poll tax” mostly as a device to enforce Jim Crow, a nasty disenfranchisement mechanism buried once and for all by the 24th Amendment (and a subsequent SCOTUS decision). But it has a much older, more comprehensive history, as a primary weapon of economic and from there political control.
One example is the French taille. Tocqueville describes in his Ancien Regime and the French Revolution (in Book 2, Chapter 12 and elsewhere) how the French nobility steadily shook off or evaded most of the taxes to which they were theoretically subject, while in direct proportion the monarchy came to rely more and more on this head tax, which fell overwhelmingly on the bourgeoisie and peasantry. By the 18th century it and some new variations were the primary tax. This was one of the grievances which exploded into Revolution.
That example at least did have an actual revenue motive, though we can say its real purpose was to absolve the rich from having to contribute to that revenue. (It also provides another revolutionary precendent.) But in the case of colonial poll taxes, often called “hut taxes”, there’s no doubt about the primary intent being to force an economic transformation for the imperial benefit.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, European colonial annexation in the late nineteenth century molded the multitude of different agrarian, pastoralist, and occasionally even hunter-gatherer groups into peasant producers largely through the imposition of residential hut and poll taxes. This forced rural producers to earn cash for tax payment, generating the foundations for the continent’s agricultural export economy based on the beverage crops of coffee, cocoa, and tea and several food and fiber crops including peanuts, cashew nuts, tobacco, sugar, and cotton……….

The historical motive of acquiring control over tropical biodiversity was a major driver of colonial subjugation of other nations by the Western Europeans. By setting up slavery — and later indentured labor-based plantation systems — a steady stream of tropical goods and raw materials was obtained, both to diversify European diets and clothing, and provide the raw material for new industries.

Moreover most of this swelling flow of valuable goods was not actually paid for since the very same taxes extracted by colonial rulers from local peasants and artisans were used to buy these export goods from them, thus converting a cash tax into a goods tax, while the foreign exchange earnings from selling these export goods to the world were not permitted to flow back to the colony.

Here we’re coming closer to the economic control aspect of the health racket mandate. As the corporatist system continues its attempted feudal conversion, economic relocalization is the only alternative we have to total impoverishment and debt enslavement. Post-Peak Oil, there are two possibilities: The full restoration of feudalism under far worse than medieval conditions, in which case the whole democratic movement will be proven to have been a mere accessory of cheap oil. Or, we can choose to take the final step in democracy’s logic and cast off the last authoritarian superstition, “representative” pseudo-democracy. We can relocalize on the basis of sustainable, cooperative and usufruct agriculture. This would be the culmination of human wisdom, all we’ve fought and bled so hard to learn and win. It would render the travails of the Oil Age birth pangs, and render history logical. But neoliberalism intends to confirm the opposite – that the age of cheap oil and cheaper democracy was an ahistorical blip, and all the manic-depressive ups and downs of the Oil Age were meant to simultaneously soften us and soften us up, for the final triumph of the ancient slave system, which will then be proven correct in the end, after all.
Taking our destiny in our hands will require a broad disengagement from the corporate economy. All the economic trend lines for the non-rich already point toward greater reliance on the informal economy. Relocalized production, growing our own food, barter – these are all things the Depression will be forcing us to do anyway. Whether we turn them into an affirmative way of life and the basis of a healthy, vigorous, joyful democratic renewal is our choice.
Today, as the criminals systematically seek to string barbed wire around us, we need to fear this older, broader use of a poll tax. Just as foreign imperialism used it for economic Gleichschaltung of farmers who were outside the imperial commodity crop system, so today’s domestic imperialism will try to use mechanisms like forced purchase of the health insurance Stamp to keep us confined in the dollar-based cash economy. This is likely to be the case with the expensive and odious registration requirements of the Food Tyranny bill and any mandates the goon FDA chooses to inflict. That’s a critical battlefront, but we can look around for examples and see them everywhere. For example, the very provision of finance “reform” which allegedly sought to rein in predatory credit practices threatens also to deny credit to workers in the informal economy even where married to cash earners. It seems someone up there wants to quash familial attempts to transition from cash/debt slavery to self-reliance.
Looked at in this perspective, we can see how the health racket bailout is also imposing a kind of head tax. How would someone immersed in a cooperative economy pay for it? (I leave aside for the moment the related question of how the government might seek to legally assault coop arrangements by calling them taxable barter. But that’ll be a subject for future posts. For now I’ll point out the common system goal – everyone must earn cash. Everyone must participate in the corporatized economy.)
I wrote earlier about how the Stamp mandate entrenches corporate tyranny, how health insurance can never work in practice and makes no sense even as a concept, how it’s unconstitutional, and how it’s a regressive tax and a reactionary policy. Now I conclude by arguing that it’s also a poll tax. As such it’s an intended weapon of socioeconomic control. This also brings us back full circle to how it’s an entrenchment of tyranny.
I don’t agree with economic “libertarian”, i.e. tyrannical propertarian, Murray Rothbard on much**. But his commentary here, directed specifically at Thatcher’s poll tax, is right on:

Not only that: but a poll tax is a charge levied on a person’s very existence, and the person must often be hunted down at great expense to be forced to pay the tax. Charging a man for his very existence seems to imply that the government owns all of its subjects, body and soul.

And how was Thatcher’s poll tax defeated? Through a grassroots campaign of civil disobedience:

The Anti-Poll Tax Unions, as mentioned earlier, called for mass non-payment of the tax. As the amount of the poll tax began to rise and the inefficiency of local councils in collection of the tax became apparent, large numbers of people refused to pay the tax. Local councils tried to respond with enforcement measures, but these were largely ineffective against such huge numbers of non-payers – up to 30% of former ratepayers in some areas refused to pay, according to the BBC.

A Labour MP, and Militant Tendency supporter, Terry Fields, was jailed for 60 days for refusing to pay his poll tax. For this he was expelled from the Labour Party in December 1991. The Labour party refused to support the non-payment campaign, especially amongst MPs – “Law makers must not be law breakers” was Neil Kinnock’s response.

The strategy was threefold. Firstly, non-payers were encouraged not to register. Secondly, they were encouraged to go to court and contest the Local Council’s attempt to gain liability orders and, by doing so, clog up the courts. After a liability order was granted, non-compliance was the next step, refusal of admission to bailiffs, etc. If this led to another court hearing – the first one at which the non-payer could be jailed – the non-payer usually did not turn up. Because of the huge number of non-payers, usual enforcement measures like liability order, bailiffs and even arrest warrants and committal hearings proved useless – there were not enough bailiffs, courts or prison cells to implement any of the orders granted. For example, in November 1990 South Yorkshire police said they were planning to refuse to arrest poll tax defaulters even when instructed to by the courts because it would be “physically impossible for the police because of the large number of defaulters.” The second year of the poll tax saw an increase in non-payment as people who had been wavering decided to join the non-payment campaign.

So Thatcher can be our model here. Where it comes to the Stamp mandate, the basic action is clear. If you can’t afford a “good” policy, then refuse to buy the worthless Stamp. I’ll grant that one significant difference is that whereas the Thatcher Stamp was to be collected by local “councils”, Obama and his insurance racketeer masters have deputized the more dangerous IRS as their goon. But the principle is the same. (Note also how the “opposition” Labor Party was a willing and eager Thatcher thug where it came to trying to extort the tax. Labor angrily opposed the grassroots campaign, which succeeded only in spite of it. So there’s another parallel for today. Anyone who hasn’t absolutely renounced the Democratic Party is still unfit for the struggle. Such people still understand nothing about our circumstance.)
The goal of the Stamp mandate is flatly to steal as much as possible, and also to try to forestall the very recourse to the informal economy which is also the solution to our predicament, the only alternative to mass resistance. If they really try to use the IRS as this medieval-style goon, then mass resistance may be the only way to accomplish this recourse at all.
People talk more and more about revolutionary situations. One ingredient which is usually part of the mix is that the system tries to collect a new tax the targets find odious. I mentioned above the Ancien Regime’s increasingly onerous imposition of the taille. We’re all familiar with the Stamp Act. Today, the American people should view this looming gangster mandate as something odious far beyond the Stamp Act. It’ll be far more onerous and have absolutely zero justification (even the Stamp Act did have a “pro” argument, albeit a weak one). Since Obama has chosen to overtly politicize this even in the courts, calling his own mandate a “tax” (after he angrily denied it was a tax, during the political fight), and since this is clearly a political scam anyway, let’s meet that challenge. This is a political fight. Call it the Stamp Tax, the Obama Tax, or whatever’s most powerful.
Thoreau went to jail rather than pay an odious poll tax. This was the wellspring for his great essay, Civil Disobedience, a subsequent inspiration to Gandhi, King, and so many others. This is part of the lineage of today’s struggle. Direct resistance to kleptocracy coincides so well with the broader relocalization imperative. This broader imperative is both indirect resistance and the transformation toward the post-debt, post-fossil fuel economy we must reach in the end anyway. In both cases we must rely far more on the informal economy. So for example: Growing our own food is affirmative and creative in itself, and in itself is also an indirect struggle against corporatism. But we must also be prepared to directly struggle against government thuggery on behalf of Big Ag. The same elements are present in every sector.
When we look at Stamp resistance in that epochal context, how it would harmonize, how it would take support from existing trends and in turn reinforce them, the case doesn’t look so hopeless.
On the other hand, there’s the dismal fact that we’ll increasingly lack access to system health care. But that’s the process they’re already imposing. The whole debacle of this bill proves it. The system, the rackets, both kleptocratic parties, intend to enclose health care so that only the rich have access to it, while the rest of us only pay and pay and pay. That state of affairs won’t change so long as this system exists.
So burning our ships at the shoreline of the informal economy would really be only a symbolic act, since the criminals already stole the sails.
Health care itself will have to be relocalized for the post-oil age. But our one chance of regaining control over any aspect of the health care system as we’ve known it is successful struggle against kleptocracy.
So however one looks at it, we have to resist and reject the Stamp.
*I’m all for communities supporting themselves. Which is precisely why we want parasitic central governments, big corporations, and their taxation out of our lives. How exactly was Thatcher’s centralized poll tax a relocalization measure? Of course, it was no such thing. As always, the central government does nothing but steal, at best then trickling some of the loot back down to privileged recipients only. If the community from whom the tax was extracted ever sees anything but detriment from the transaction, that’s a rare accident.
**I’m ready to agree with some of these people on another point. Not long ago I wrote, No Taxes on the Non-Rich. Reading the Rothbard passage linked above helped convince me once and for all of the conclusion I’ve been heading toward: No Tax, period. Let’s demand zero taxation. Not necessarily in principle, but let’s either oppose or remain silent on all taxes. I say we should happily accept a flat rate as long as the rate is ZERO. Let the central government borrow every cent for its malevolent spending. As Bernanke himself admits, they just print however much they want anyway. They’re all closet MMTers.


The Obama Poll Tax


I’ve said my piece about the health racket bailout and Stamp mandate. I don’t have anything to add, except that I’m pleased to see how the SCOTUS punted on the most totalitarian interpretation of the commerce clause, instead choosing to validate the mandate as a constitutionally allowed poll tax.
(This was a slightly less bad de jure corporatist enshrinement, since politicians have a harder time defending corporatism via a tax than they do where they can use subterfuges like “the commerce power”. Not that it makes a big difference as far as what’s actually done, but it does provide more opportunities for political wedges. Plus, the joke’s on the liberals as they have to keep flip-flopping to follow their Fuehrer’s party line on this – It’s not a tax! (Political/legislative stage); Yes it is a tax! (Judicial stage.) It’s always amusing to see liberals having to defend increasingly regressive taxation while out of the other side of their mouths they beg for more progressive taxes. It’s also good to get lessons in how, for the 99%, all taxation is regressive and will remain so, until we abolish it completely.)
For the occasion, I’ll repost my essay on the Stamp mandate as a poll tax, and how in the past mass civil disobedience has defeated similar assaults. One thing which is beyond any doubt is that this mandate is not only a mechanism for propping up the health insurance rackets, but to force people trying to withdraw from the cash economy back into it. That’s always the purpose of any poll tax, the most radically regressive tax of all.
Some basic talking points. I elaborate on these in the posts linked above.
1. The Obama Tax is a bailout for the health insurance rackets, which are purely parasitic and could not continue to function without a government mandate for their “services”.
2. “Private health insurance” makes no sense even in principle. Normal health care isn’t about catastrophic accidents, but about regular maintenance. Does auto insurance cover oil changes and tuneups? Imagine how much those would cost if that were the model. But that’s the model government has imposed upon us with health care. That’s why it’s so insanely expensive. Obamacare is intended to further entrench and intensify this insanity.
3. The Obama Tax is an austerity program designed to help employers liquidate employer-provided health plans and drive us as atomized individuals into the individual market. This individual market (where groups can’t negotiate better deals for themselves) is far more expensive and provides far worse services. Compare this to the ongoing liquidation of union pensions (even as Social Security and Medicare are slated to be gutted) and their replacement by individual responsibility for “retirement”. (AKA, if you’re not rich, then freeze and starve.)
4. As part of Obama Austerity, Obamacare is also a union-busting measure. Obama gleefully demonized the relatively good health plans negotiated by some unions as “Cadillac Plans”, and Obamacare has special provisions to penalize workers who benefit from such plans. He took this term directly from his proclaimed hero Reagan, with his “Cadillac (welfare) Queens”. This affinity has also been rampant in the implicitly racist propaganda about “free riders” in the emergency rooms, which white liberals have repeated with gusto. We know what race those free riders are.
5. Obamacare, by Obama’s own proud admission, is a Republican plan. The basic idea goes back to Republican think tanks in the 70s, it was fully formulated by the Heritage Foundation in 1994 as a corporatist plan to compete with Hillarycare corporatism. A modified version was enacted in Massachusetts as Romneycare, and Obamacare is in turn a modification of Romneycare.
6. In Massachusetts, medical-related bankruptcies have continued to increase since Romneycare was imposed, and in general people are paying more for worse “policies”. In 2010 non-binding ballot measures directing state legislators to fight for single payer in Massachusetts won by large margins in every district where they were on the ballot. The people of Massachusetts hate Romneycare.
(This will be some election – you can vote for either Obamaromneycare or for Obamaromneycare.) 
7. Single Payer would provide vastly better care at vastly lower cost. Everyone in America would greatly benefit, except for the insurance and drug rackets and their political flunkeys.
8. The health insurance model is not intended to provide health care. It’s intended to maximize profits. Any insurance CEO who actually wanted to provide good insurance would be fired and sued by the shareholders, and rightly so. That’s what corporatism is in principle. It’s a fundamental contradiction to want health care, but want corporations to be involved in its provision. This kind of policy is a form of insanity.
It all boils down to: If you’re not rich, don’t get sick. If you get sick, then die.
History will spit on Obama, the Democratic Party, liberal NGOs, and “progressives” in general, for this infinitely vile reactionary sellout. 


April 16, 2012

GMO Labeling


The GMO labeling initiatives and legislation being pushed in California and elsewhere will attempt to use the weapon of consumer choice, normally such a bedrock principle of the system, against the system itself.
Everywhere on Earth the people have rejected GMOs. No vote has ever affirmed them. Everywhere the people have, by overwhelming majorities, demanded labeling of GMO “foods”, foods with GMO ingredients, foods derived from GMOs (for example meat or dairy from animals who were given GMO feed; that’s almost all animals whose products aren’t certified organic). If there was a wider understanding of the “natural food” scam (that term has no meaning, and in practice usually means it’s GM and has lots of other nasty features), eaters would reject it as well. The labeling initiatives seek to purge this bogus term.
GMO processed “foods” are scarce in Europe because the EU requires such labeling, and with the labeling, buyers reject them. (This policy is not in place because EU technocrats support labeling – quite the contrary – but because bottom-up pressure forced them.)
As a Monsanto scumbag put it:

“If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” — Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994

The goal of the labeling campaign in America is to use the same principle to drive GMOs out of our stores. If California requires labeling, processors and retailers will drop GMOs from their roster in that state. Since California’s economy is so massive, it won’t be cost-effective for them to have one policy for that state and another for elsewhere where labeling isn’t required. That would also look bad politically. Instead, they’ll just drop GMOs completely. It would be a devastating blow, using the system’s own consumerism ideology and practice against it.
That’s the ambitious goal of this reform campaign.
I support it but have three questions about it:
1. If enacted as intended, will it really accomplish what we hope for it? The best answer I can come up with so far is “Maybe.” We won’t know until it’s tried.
2. If passed, will it be enacted as intended. In practice there’s lots of ways it can be hijacked or subverted. The wording might be distorted, or the government might interfere to obscure or obfuscate the label, or force its own counter-labels (in violation of the 1st Amendment, by the way). Then there will be the inevitable litigation which is likely to tie up enactment indefinitely. One of the intended functions of the courts is to put pro-democracy policy on ice.
Or it’ll be thrown out in federal court as unconstitutional. I wonder how many “progressives” are hoping this labeling initiative will be a stake in the heart of Monsanto, but are at the same time insisting that Obama’s Stamp mandate is constitutional? But the exact same totalitarian commerce clause logic which would find Obama’s poll tax “constitutional” could also find that a state-level labeling requirement is “unconstitutional” if it harms the general commerce in GMOs. This harm is a stated goal of labeling supporters.
3. If the initiatives and proposed legislation are defeated by a combination of threats, fraud, and weaponized money; or if the California initiative is voted up but thrown out, or smothered in the courts or by subverted enforcement; if these happen, will labeling supporters then say, “We tried the reform route, we tried to work within the system, we tried to play by the rules, and we see how none of that works. Now we know that nothing short of a full-scale democracy and direct action movement will suffice.” ?
Or will they say, “we have to keep trying what’s already been proven not to work”?
The measure of a sincere democracy activist vs. a con artist and astroturfer is the answer to this question.
I do think that this, like some other attempts at throughgoing reform, will have to be tried before a significant number of people will realize that reformism does not and cannot work. (And who knows, maybe this thing will surprise those of us already convinced against reformism.) For that and other reasons the democracy movement will have to support and engage in some kinds of reform activism.
But our goal at all times, in addition to doing our best to see if the reform can accomplish anything, is to consistently argue that “if this doesn’t work, it proves that the whole reformist project can’t work”, and teach about why and how this is.
This is true in general of initiatives, lawsuits, constitutional amendment movements, and anything which attempts significant reform from the bottom up, but playing by the system rules. Probing the limits of what’s possible within those rules, we’ll see if anything’s possible, or if on the contrary nothing is possible. In the latter case, reformism will be a proven failure, once and for all, and no one will still be able to argue for it with any integrity or credibility.


April 14, 2012

American Medical Association As Typical Corporate Cadre


According to a piece on “ethics” recently published by the American Medical Association, the way the medical research system is set up, only the poor, convicts, etc. “volunteer” for the good of all. This state of affairs, our medical philosophers tearfully implore us, is “not fair or ethical”.

As a result, the risks of developing a health intervention that would benefit the whole population are carried disproportionately by some of society’s most poor and vulnerable. This is a situation few would judge to be fair or ethical. However it is hard to increase volunteer payment without creating financial incentives. “Danger money” is frowned upon as an inducement that inevitably clouds an individual’s appreciation of risk, limiting the likelihood that consent is informed.

For some reason this doesn’t seem to be applied by our esteemed ethicists to dangerous and disgusting “jobs” in general. The same philosopher who wrings her hands over payments for vaccine trial participation or organ donation pretends not to recognize the economic coercion which drives people to become migrant farm workers, coal miners, or Apple factory workers (they need safety nets in the factories for the number of workers driven to attempt suicide by jumping). For some reason (straight out of Law-and-Economics, no doubt) the whole nexus of economic coercion, economic and physical threats, and forced “contracts” which prevails everywhere with corporatism is normative, but only in the relation of the profiteering medical system and the research subjects it needs is there supposed to be an ethical component. Of course this ethic must act as a damper on any monetary payments. It’s funny how things always work out that way. Why aren’t “financial incentives” bad for doctors, hospitals, insurance corporations, Big Drug with its patents, but only for individual 99%ers? We see again the basic fraudulence of all pro-corporate thought.
It’s hard to imagine how one can honestly embark upon the train of thought expressed above at all, and not quickly be forced to condemn corporate capitalism completely.
For example, I agree, the system of medical profiteering and proprietary drugs is not fair or ethical. So the AMA must want to abolish that, no?
Nope – participation in their for-profit research trials should be mandatory, according to the AMA’s Virtual Mentor. The piece has the appropriate tone from the outset, its first sentence quoting rentier extraordinaire and current GMO flack #1 Bill Gates*. That indicates the mindset and priorities of the authors.
Here we see a characteristic gambit of corporate propaganda. The individual from the 99% has some kind of citizen obligation to volunteer for the alleged common good. If he doesn’t meet this alleged civic obligation, the government should force him. But strangely, there’s no corresponding top-down citizenship obligation on the part of the 1%.
No one has ever explained why profiteering should be allowed to exist in the health care system at all. The authors of this AMA piece certainly don’t explain why it should continue to exist amid such an outbreak of civic concern. Surely if we’re at the point where the individual must be compelled to submit his body, we’re far past the point where the corporatist must surrender his profits?
But no, as always, such a “social contract” point of view is a wild goose chase. As always, it’s a scam. As always it’s one standard for the 99%, and a completely different one for the 1%. Just as “violence” always occurs only from the bottom up, never from the top down, so obligations toward “the greater good of society” exist only from the bottom up (but perhaps to be coerced by top-down force), never from the top down. Profit For Me, Self-Sacrifice For You. Egoism For Me, Altruism For You. Capitalism For Me, Anarchism For You.
Just like with the Wall Street bailout, Obama’s health racket mandate, the Permanent War, the Pentagon’s weapons racket welfare program, the police state, just like with massive corporate welfare in every sector, pandemic privatization, the austerity onslaught, terrorism and war, just like everywhere else, so here too the working citizen must sacrifice, not for the common good, but for the good of a handful of gangsters. Indeed, this sacrifice is a slow suicide, as these gangsters do nothing but prey upon us.
The fact is that the 99% is in a zero-sum death struggle with the 1%. To call for any policy whatsoever which involves the continued prerogatives of the 1%, its continued existence, and any further sacrifice from the 99 on behalf of anything but fighting the system and rebuilding our own communities, is to be an enemy of humanity.
In this case, we know that the system’s “health care” is being intentionally priced beyond our reach. It’s to benefit only our oppressors. Obama’s poll tax, and Mengele-style coerced experimentation like that advocated here, are typical forms of how the people are to serve as a resource mine for something which will never benefit anyone but our enemies. We should contribute nothing further to this predatory system. If we can’t afford the “health insurance” this system forces us to get, then let’s reject the system completely. If we have no choice but to look to ourselves for our medicine, let’s start doing so according to our own plan.
Or, if that’s still too extreme a thought, then how about these kinds of reforms? Let’s institute Single Payer. Let’s abolish Big Drug and its IP regime. Let’s purge rent-seeking from our corrupted universities and educational finance, so that becoming a doctor isn’t tantamount to debt indenture. As things are, vaccines are often peddled and even mandated for non-medical, pro-profit reasons. Remove such crime from the system, and we’ll see where we are. Let’s have a real government jobs program, union-friendly legislation, a much higher minimum wage. Then we’ll see if we still have a research volunteer problem.
I don’t actually call for us to fight for such reforms, because I know reforming kleptocracy is impossible. But I wanted to give some examples of how modest, rational structural reforms could achieve the beneficial goal this piece claims to want to achieve, and far more than that, instead of going in for further coercion within the system of organized crime. But the AMA, like all advocates of organized crime, tends only its own garden, considers corporate crime to be natural and normative, and merely wants its own little share of the loot and taste of the domination prerogative. That’s what this proposal is all about. 
As I’ve said before, this should be one of our core slogans and demands upon ourselves and our future:
Total Austerity for the Criminals, Not One Cent More From the People.
This will always put us at the opposite extreme from all system cadres.
*The piece makes much of “informed consent”. So the authors must call for a total moratorium on GMOs, since there was never sufficient safety testing done on any GE product. On the contrary, the unregulated commercialization of GMOs is the human feeding experiment, a massive one, with zero in the way of informed consent protocols. Humanity as a whole comprises the uninformed, uncompensated guinea pigs. Indeed, the US government opposes even GM labeling. So the AMA must be anti-GMO, at least as currently commercialized, no? No.

Genetically Modified Crops and Foods
Retain by modification of (3) to read as follows:
(3) Our AMA believes that as of December 2009, there is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education.

(I do agree with the part about focused education, which may be an issue with some labeling initiatives. But I mean it in the opposite of the direction meant by these FDA lackeys. They mean that labeled food should have to carry the FDA’s ideological lies about the “safety” of GMOs. I mean that labeling, the initiatives and any labeling that’s actually done, needs to take place within the context of a criticism of industrial and corporate agriculture as such, including the fact that agroecology is superior in every way, now and even more in the post-fossil fuel future.)
We see the basic fraud of this corporate cadre, all its pretensions to caring about the public health, social justice, and basic human decency. I wrote this post to highlight how all professional cadres are completely merged with the basic corporate assault on humanity. Even “doctors” with their vaunted Hippocratic Oath spew the same hypocritical double-standard lies about the economy (the kind of lie that assumes corporate profits, property, and sociopathic seeking of these, as normative, but which considers giving non-rich individuals “financial incentives” is ethically problematic) and about human health itself. Thus, in direct and criminal contravention of their oath, they take up the government’s ideological declaration, not based on any clinical evidence whatsoever, and in defiance of all the evidence that exists, that GMOs are “safe”. They even overthrow their own alleged principle of “informed consent” in order to justify this massive human feeding experiment, and indeed to deny it’s taking place at all. We see what fundamental frauds they are.


April 8, 2012

Kangaroo Courts and the Health Racket Mandate (Reprise)

(This is an edited re-post of an earlier piece. I thought that in light of the looming “decision” on the health racket mandate by the supremely corporatist court, it might be useful to revisit the nature of this corporatist jurisprudence.)
A federal judge has given the first adverse ruling against one of the many lawsuits declaring Obama’s health racket Mandate unconstitutional. The ruling demonstrates the “logic” of a corporatist ideologue and how he views the Constitution. A corporatist assumes as the god-given order of things that the purpose of America is to be mined by powerful corporate interests. He then views the Constitution as purely instrumental toward this goal. As we’ll see, this judge views the artificial, ideologically fabricated and imposed “market” as sacrosanct and beyond the Constitution’s purview. He views the written Constitution, and by extension the sovereign people’s inherent constitution, as subordinate to the corporate imperative. This is the essence of corporatist ideology. It views sovereignty itself as reposing in corporations, not the people. The constitution is only the corporate constitution. The written Constitution is therefore the servant of corporations.
A judge like this might even try to argue that the fact that the Constitution never once mentions the word “corporation” is proof of his thesis that corporations are not below the Constitution, but above it. At any rate he’d argue that the absence of such specification gives him license to interpret things that way.
The human truth is the exact opposite. Society exists in the first place only of, by, and for human beings. Sovereignty reposes only in the people. The constitution can never be anything but of and for the political health of the people. The written Constitution can be legitimately interpreted only toward this human imperative. Corporations have no right to exist at all, and certainly have no right to act against the people. Wherever they do, any government has an affirmative obligation to smash them. Where it fails to do so, let alone where it actively supports corporate organized crime, it abandons all sovereignty, legitimacy, and authority. The people then have the right and obligation to repudiate the system, smash the criminals themselves, and redeem society on a human basis.
Let’s go to the case. The suit claims the health racket bailout in general, and in particular the racket Mandate, violates the Commerce Clause, the 5th and 10th amendments, the Free Exercise of religion*, and that it’s an unconstitutional tax. The decision rejects the demand for a preliminary injunction and throws the case out completely. The decision focuses on rejecting the Commerce claim, also rejects part of the tax claim, and declares it doesn’t need to reach another part.
In the so-called “factual background” the judge launches right into the propaganda. He intones:

The Health Care Reform Act seeks to reduce the number of uninsured Americans
and the escalating costs they impose on the health care system.
(p. 2)

and follows with a series of details. This is standard political fraud from the bench. As a matter of dogma, the judge is supposed to assume the legislature is a public servant and not a criminal cabal. So the court’s default is to aid and abet organized crime in the legislature. At the very least, even if the court is going to strike down an act (because of some ideological squabble among elites, not because the act is against the people), it still engages in this pretense of legislative good faith. That’s SCOTUS dogma going back a long way. (Anyone who follows the corporate media is familiar with the how it’s their established practice to report as fact the self-proclaimed intentions and mindset of elites, especially political elites. The courts have the same practice.)
Everywhere else judges are supposed to infer motives from actions. Why is that reversed here, and the dogmatically assumed motive is used tendentiously to interpret the action? It’s because here the system is functioning as an integrated machine. Elsewhere it’s the system against the people or individuals, so there the interpretive dynamic is reversed.
So here this judge proclaims that the Mandate is “integral to the legislative effort”, but everything he claims about what that effort is, and the constitutionality of the effort itself, is a lie. The Mandate is indeed integral to the effort, but the effort’s intention and goal is the opposite of Congressional and judicial lies. The effort isn’t to ensure better health care for more people at lower cost. A Congress which wanted to do that would’ve instituted Single Payer. Period.
The effort is to bail out the parasitic insurance rackets, who already have an institutionalized anti-competitive monopoly, by absolving them of having to compete with non-participation as well. That’s the one and only objective of Obamacare.
The decision moves quickly (p. 3) to bashing alleged deadbeats, the mythical free riders at the ER. But the entire premise of “the legislative effort” is to bail out a tremendous but politically powerful deadbeat and parasite, the insurance racket. So right at the outset we can see the judge’s bad faith. It’s not possible to be concerned about free riders but still support this deadbeat bailout bill. So on its face anyone who supports the bill (or finds it constitutional) but claims to be concerned about free riders is lying. Again, if Congress had been concerned about free riders, it would have enacted Single Payer instead of bailing out the insurance parasite. So on its face the judge’s entire rationale regarding the legislative intent is invalid.
We also have the moral fact that anyone amid a system based on organized corruption, legalized fraud, and massive robbery in the form of corporate welfare who would ever make a top-down anti-deadbeat argument must be a vile immoral criminal himself. It’s not possible to face such monumental system crime and still say the individual deadbeat is just as bad, or to bother with him at all. And then there’s the fact that the vast majority of individuals in that position are not deadbeats at all, but the victims of an aggressive kleptocracy which has mugged them into poverty.
As I said, this proves the judge is corrupt and acts in moral bad faith, so his “legal” reasoning must be judged from that point of view.
He has the haughty nerve to claim that it’s individuals, mugging victims who show up at the ER, who are “shifting costs onto third parties”. But the fact is that we the people ARE the victimized “third party” here, while the rackets and their bought politicians and judges are the only market “participants”, the only “stakeholders”, as their own flunkies would concede.
In a gesture of noblesse oblige the judge grants that the plaintiffs had standing to sue (p. 4). (But not before a lecture on the monetization of standing, how as far as the courts are concerned the only measure of citizenship is property, and the only measure of values or injury to those values is a monetary injury. This filthy doctrine must always be enforced. As usual, the first priority is to deny true citizen access to the law.)
The judge, as a petty crook aping a benevolent despot, magnanimously grants that a person without much money may already be feeling trepidation over the Mandate and acting accordingly, so standing is granted. The whole passage is sickening. The judge’s hypocritical, bloodless, wonkish, trickle-down “generosity” is even more repulsive than open, naked greed. How could any decent person even discuss this without outrage over the fact that those already suffering from the depredations of finance and insurance sector gangsters are, by the judge’s own admission*, to be made to suffer even more in order to pay yet further extortion to the most worthless and repellant criminals afflicting us today?
[*P. 8: “..the injury-in-fact in this case is the present financial pressure experienced by plaintiffs due to the requirements of the Individual Mandate.”
This pressure is being put on by already-rich robbers who want to steal even more, and helping them commit this further robbery is the one and only intent and goal of this bill. That’s the vision of “civilization” and “law” this judge seeks to uphold.]
We get to the Commerce Clause. Here’s the first time I’ve come across the Orwellian name for the Mandate: the “Shared Responsibility Payment” (p.11). Deciphering the totalitarian code: It’s the Full Responsibility of those who do all the work to hand over almost all they produce as extortion Payment to wealthy parasites who have and assume Zero Responsibility.
The judge is honest about this much: The Mandate is regulation of “inactivity, or a person’s mere existence within our Nation’s boundaries.” He admits it’s a poll tax.

The crux of plaintiffs’ argument is that the federal government has never attempted
to regulate inactivity, or a person’s mere existence within our Nation’s boundaries, under
the auspices of the Commerce Clause. It is plaintiffs’ position that if the Act is found
constitutional, the Commerce Clause would provide Congress with the authority to regulate
every aspect of our lives, including our choice to refrain from acting.

The decision says this case involves the third aspect of Interstate Commerce – “those activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.” Since that’s as vague as can be, and since by the reasoning here it can apply to literally anything the system wants it to, the judge confirms what we who oppose the Mandate always said. This Mandate is not only a crime in itself but a totalitarian precedent. If it goes through it can serve as the template for mandates to buy literally anything the system wants to force upon us.

The Supreme Court has expanded the reach of the Commerce Clause to reach
purely local, non-commercial activity, simply because it is an integral part of a broader
statutory scheme that permissibly regulates interstate commerce. Two cases, decided
sixty years apart, demonstrate the breadth of the Commerce power and the deference
accorded Congress’s judgments. (p. 12)

The decision discusses two highly disputed cases, Wickard v. Filburn and Gonzales v. Reich, as alleged precedents. With seeming lack of awareness of the ideological biases involved, in his own case and that of SCOTUS judges, he trumpets the striking down of anti-gun and anti-domestic violence laws as the SCOTUS philosophically “placing limits” on Congress.
Um, no. The judges on the court majorities simply support gun rights but don’t support marijuana rights, and don’t care about domestic violence. That’s the one and only difference which went into these decisions – how the subject of each case squared with their non-judicial ideology. The judicial ideology almost without exception is servant to the political ideology. Scalia’s anti-federalist vote in Gonzales was a spotlight example of how fraudulent his ideological pretensions are. He simply doesn’t like marijuana, period.
The decision admits the novelty of the case.

Plaintiffs in the present case focus on the common fact that each
of the regulations that survived Supreme Court scrutiny under the Commerce Clause
regulated an economic “activity,” as opposed to the “inactivity” they have demonstrated by
merely existing and not purchasing health care insurance. The Supreme Court has always
required an economic or commercial component in order to uphold an act under the
Commerce Clause. The Court has never needed to address the activity/inactivity
distinction advanced by plaintiffs because in every Commerce Clause case presented thus
far, there has been some sort of activity. (p.15)

To get around this the judge engages in what he himself calls “mental gymnastics”, and more fraudulent divination of Congressional intent.
Now we get to the core of obscenity:

The health care market is unlike other markets. No one can guarantee his or her
health, or ensure that he or she will never participate in the health care market. Indeed, the
opposite is nearly always true. The question is how participants in the health care market
pay for medical expenses – through insurance, or through an attempt to pay out of pocket
with a backstop of uncompensated care funded by third parties. This phenomenon of costshifting
is what makes the health care market unique.
(p. 16)

Think about that sentence, the two allegedly equivalent and interlinked propositions:
“No one can guarantee health..” That’s self-evident.
“…or ensure that he or she will never participate in the health care market.”
What? We could ensure we don’t have to participate in a criminal market by getting rid of it. We could, for example, institute Single Payer, which would cost far less, provide far more care far more efficiently, and would even solve that alleged individual free rider issue the likes of the judge claim to have such a fetish about. It would not be a moral affront to the people, as it would eradicate the free riding parasite rackets. We’d be free of their depredations and extortions.
But the decision depicts this “market” as a law of the universe. It would be hard to imagine a more grotesque example of begging the question. I don’t know if the conservative plaintiffs themselves care, but in the case of we who reject the Mandate on citizenship grounds, we reject any constitutional basis for the entire system based on private health “insurance”. We didn’t try to sue over it before (and of course we would have lacked “standing”), so long as we had the option of non-participation.
But now we’re going to have to sue against this Mandate. But when we declare* the Mandate unconstitutional, we’re saying that’s the most aggressive unconstitutional manifestation of an extra-constitutional, outlaw system.
[* And we as citizens do declare it so. We do not beg a court to do so for us. We demand that if the courts really do serve the people, they’ll ratify what we the people already know and declare.
Since the prospect that these suits will do the trick is dubious, we need to start preparing for citizen disobedience and resistance.]
So the judge’s rationale is non-responsive. (The fact that “the health care market is unlike other markets” is also proof that private health insurance itself is a conceptual and moral absurdity.) Especially as he moves on to a series of flippant absurdities.

As inseparable and integral members of the health care services market, plaintiffs have made a choice regarding the method of payment for the services they expect to receive. The government makes the apropos analogy of paying by credit card rather than by check.
(p. 17)

We are NOT “members of this market”. This market is an alien assault being artificially inflicted upon us. The “market” has absolutely nothing to do with health care. The two are completely separable and separated. Paying by “..credit card or check…” – when of course the real issue centers on the fact that it’s a mugger demanding this payment in the first place.

Similarly, plaintiffs in this case are participants in the
health care services market. They are not outside the market. While plaintiffs describe the
Commerce Clause power as reaching economic activity, the government’s characterization
of the Commerce Clause reaching economic decisions is more accurate.

We are NOT “participants”. We ARE “outside the market”. We are disenfranchised, coercively indentured subjects of this “market”. Victims.
What level of depravity does it take for someone to not only ignore the one fact of the case, but to turn around and accuse the victim of that very crime? What can decent people do with a criminal like that?
Now he comes to his decision, and his ultimate lie:

The Act regulates a broader interstate market in health care services. This is not
a market created by Congress, it is one created by the fundamental need for health care
and the necessity of paying for such services received. The provision at issue addresses
cost-shifting in those markets and operates as an essential part of a comprehensive
regulatory scheme. The uninsured, like plaintiffs, benefit from the “guaranteed issue”
provision in the Act, which enables them to become insured even when they are already
sick. This benefit makes imposing the minimum coverage provision appropriate. (p. 18)

This is incontrovertibly a market created by Congress. On its face that’s a clear fact. The bill’s very purpose is to bail out the rackets who, even though they have an anti-trust exemption (another creation of Congress), and can therefore quash innovation and competition, are increasingly unable to compete with non-participation, which more and more Americans are rationally choosing, as is their constitutional right as citizens. The purpose of this bill is to eliminate this competition as well. The purpose of this decision is to eliminate our constitutional rights.
And once again, what we must always remember immediately, every time we hear anyone like this judge say a word about “shifting costs”, “third parties”, free riding, or any other “deadbeat” language, is the obscene fact that this “market” exists at all for one reason only. It’s to enable the parasitic extortions and extractions of this insurance racket which is indeed a third party to us all, which does nothing but shift costs to us all, free ride upon us all. That’s the one and only reason the bill exists at all. That’s the one and only reason this decision was made the way it was.
Every word of it is a crime against the Constitution, just like the bill itself. We are under the thumb of stateless, lawless, anti-sovereign predators. This Mandate is a major step forward for their criminal regime. As this incident makes clear, we cannot rely on the courts to help us uphold our constitution. We must do that ourselves.

March 30, 2012

What Is Organic? (2 of 2)


Earlier I wrote about how the term and concept organic applies to a network of relations and vectors, a holism, rather than to a discrete, stagnant item which can be removed from or plugged into any context at will.
In part 1 I focused on the use of the concept to describe food production and distribution. I emphasized that organic has to mean maximizing sustainability, resiliency, interdependency rather than dependency. This implies, even if it doesn’t directly demand, social and economic justice, since any extractive hierarchy reduces our sustainability. By definition any parasite reduces this. It definitely means minimizing dependency on fossil fuels as such (and not just fossil fuels in the direct farming inputs), which means that globalization and the organic are mutually exclusive. It excludes any significant environmental destructiveness (this too means it must minimize fossil fuels in general). 
I’ll add here that organic has to mean the abolition and transcendence of the artificial producer/consumer dichotomy. Even within the food sovereignty movement this dichotomy is often insensibly taken for granted. But in truth these concepts can never be separated. One way or another they meld and define one another. Any producer also consumes, and if she’s induced or forced to separate her production from her consumption, that actually removes her producer quality and renders her a system cog, a passive and dependent consumer only. Passive consumption in general is meant to render us stagnant, and this in turn makes possible the calcification of the entire economy and polity, under corporate control. The goal of all consumerism is to eradicate all that’s organic and human and replace it with sterile conformity to tyranny.
By contrast, where we stop being passive consumers and become full economic citizens, as much as possible democratically producing our own food, and at least being fully active in knowing our food and those who produce it, we regain control over our lives and render ourselves far more resilient and sustainable, and far less vulnerable to any threat. (I’ll add that this can help reclaim our political democracy.) The producer who is organically enmeshed in such a sovereign food network is himself more resilient and less vulnerable, since he’s now part of a natural network rather than being a fungible, replaceable, expendable cog. (I’ll add in passing for now that this applies to dependency on all system concepts – the corporate form, property, legality, contracts, anything which is fraudulently purported to be part of nature but is actually a tool and weapon of an artificial, hierarchical system based on Might Makes Right.) 
This leads to another general point, that the organic is mutually exclusive with corporatism. Corporatism, even leaving aside the subjective greed and malevolence of its cadres (although this too is dire), necessarily means the maintenance of large parasitic hierarchies (the corporations themselves, the corporations as extensions of government, the government as bagman and thug for these corporations). It also necessarily means globalization, since profit extraction (the absolute imperative for any corporation) cannot function other than within an infinitely expanding growth economy. The only limit* to this is the limits of the globe itself, so corporatism must if possible expand to completely fill out this limit.
[*Soon I’ll be writing about how GMOs, as an imperialist phenomenon, are intended to as it were generate a second globe for the corporate rampage.]
This leads us to a broader vision of the organic. I’ll just mention a few examples.
1. Time banking has to be seeking the holism of a system free of money. Time banks must be envisioned as seeds of a thriving forest, not as potted flowers to be put out in the harsh cold of the command money economy.
So organic time banking and organic co-production, since it can’t sit still amid this harsh environment, must be on a vector away from and against it. For example, anywhere there’s a time bank and an Occupy action, these must seek to complement one another. If there’s no local/regional Occupy, the time bank should try to help get one going.
2. I’ve written before about how the commons is an organic thing which depends upon its environment, and the basic intellectual fraud of plunking the concept in the midst of a predatory, mercenary world, as in the Big Lie of the “tragedy of the commons”.
Just as it proves nothing about the inherent sustainability of a commons where an artificially dominant corporatism assaults and destroys it, so anyone who wants to uphold and reclaim the commons must necessarily fight to eradicate corporatism, as the two are mutually exclusive. One or the other must perish completely.
3. In the modern world, the individual is ripped out of all context, atomized, dissolved within a mass, but is still called a “citizen”. He’s even lectured by the system about his “free will” and moral agency. But in truth an organic citizen must be a full political and economic participant, fully active and self-directing within the network of community relations and vectors, enjoying the full benefit of her labor and her political sovereignty. 
David Graeber wrote extensively about this in his book Debt. This is part of how money systems were first imposed on what were previously organic economies. As I wrote here:

First, and for the vast majority of humanity’s natural history, organic communities based themselves upon close social networks, moral relations, and the sense of community obligation, including in transactions among individual community members.

Then, nascent elites, previously basing their power on direct violence and plunder, saw how they could accelerate class stratification and magnify their power by sublimating this violence by formalizing exchange and debt. To do this, they came up with money, and began measuring transactions and recording debts based upon it.

Similarly, Hobbes took the modern “civilized” individual, i.e. one domesticated into fear and mercenary greed, pictured this monster in the absence of the overawing state power, how “nasty and brutish” such persons would be under those circumstances, and then fraudulently called this the state of nature, when in fact such an atomized, distorted hominid has nothing whatsoever in common with an organic human being living within a natural economy. This fraud is at the core of the bogus “competition” ideology, which is in fact 100% artificial, and indeed requires massive propaganda, bribery, threats, fear, and violence, in order for it to make any headway against our natural humanity at all. In nature, organic human beings are cooperative.
(This is another reason the organic is mutually exclusive with corporatism, capitalism, all fetishes of competition.) 
4. Voting within electoralism, even if you admire it, could make sense only within the holism of an active, self-educating, fully informed, participatory, vigilant citizenry. This was a core principle of the first stage of the American Revolution.
But to render the individual passive, ignorant, benighted (including by systematic top-down secrecy on the part of government and corporations), “participating” only on election day, and otherwise conformist and asleep, is to render him the political equivalent of a passive consumer. The voting ideology and consumerism go hand in hand. They are identical in concept, intention, and effect.
This lays bare the fraud of calling the members of neoliberal systems “citizens”. The term organic citizen would be redundant, while to call the atomized, passive individual a “citizen” because he technically has and sometimes exercises the franchise, is a typical lie of liberals and conservatives. This is one of the many ways they join to conspire against democracy and humanity, and on behalf of corporatism.
5. There’s lots of policy ideas like MMT, the VAT, renewable energy subsidies, cap and trade, which could in theory be constructive within a holistic reform environment, if such a thing were still possible. As parts of a vast and vigorous reform front these could be good ideas.
But for any of these, you can’t wrench it out of all context, synthesize a version to be enacted within a corporatized environment, and expect it to be anything but another extractive scam in practice. (During the “debate” over the health racket bailout, professional liars like Krugman liked to compare Obamacare to structures in Switzerland and the Netherlands. As if there can be any comparison between structures which gradually developed in welfare state environments, and tossing the same thing into a gangland shooting gallery, which is what Obama has done.)
This is true of most aspects of “progressive” prescriptions. They’re non-holistic, and therefore fruitless at best, more often fraudulent and collaborationist.
6. In the end, every kind of reformism is a version of the same mentality which would take apart a natural whole food, dismantle it into a few of its identifiable discrete nutrients, declare it to be the sum of these, and proceed to synthesize each, toward a regime of processed, enriched, fortified, synthetic “food”.
The result is corporate enclosure, malnutrition, obesity, toxification, disease, impoverishment, starvation, and death.
The same is true of the entire economic and political realm. It’s true of society itself. We need a truly organic polity, an organic economy, an organic society.

March 28, 2012

The Health Racket Mandate, Toward Other Corporate Mandates


A few thoughts on the health racket mandate, for anyone who supports or knows someone who supports it, constitutionally and/or on policy grounds.
(This is also for anyone who’s wondering about my rage vs. liberals, as I expressed in this post earlier today, for example. Look at this mandate as a prime example of the incoherency and malevolence I describe.)
Let’s recap the history.
1. In the mid-20th century Congress granted antitrust exemptions to the health insurance racketeers, giving them monopolies or oligopolies in every state. This is a command economy, a forced market. The only alternative for most people is non-participation.
2. On account of this growing non-participation, as well as the desperate financial straits of many insurance rackets, especially post-2008, the government instituted a bailout of the sector, in the form of Obamacare. (It’s also an austerity policy and a union-busting measure.) This is Obama’s core policy. The funds for this bailout are to be extorted in the form of a poll tax imposed on human beings, as the price of their physical existence. (The mandated “policies” themselves will be worthless, and subsidies to purchase them will never materialize.)
3. Supporters of this policy now argue that it’s constitutional, thanks to totalitarian commerce clause jurisprudence. I’ve extensively covered this here, here, and here. (For the health racket bailout and Stamp mandate in general, see my posts catalogued here.)
For anyone who supports this, please explain:
1. Does this mean that if Congress decides that proprietary GMOs are to be normative in the same way it has dictated for private health insurance, it can mandate purchase of these seeds by all growers? Impose penalties on heirloom seeds, or ban them? What about other agricultural inputs?
(See here for the shaky financial position of Monsanto. Pro-GMO Obama policy, tangibly accelerated right around the time Monsanto’s travails hit the papers, can already be seen as a Monsanto bailout. I’ll write more on this soon.)
2. Does this mean that if Congress decides that big box retailing is to be normative in the same way it has dictated for private health insurance, it can mandate shopping at Walmart and similar boxes (say, by having the IRS require receipts)? Can it penalize or ban independent retailers?
(See here for Walmart’s increasing market difficulties.)
Not for a moment do I mean for either of these examples to be taken as hyperbole or in any Swiftian sense. If the health racket mandate can be enacted, then both of these, and any number of comparable policies, would be enactable by the same logic. I have no doubt about the system’s will to enact any such policy, limited only by whatever political fears it may have.

March 22, 2012

Our Real Job


Where it comes to fossil fuel use, it’s superfluous to “advocate” this or that; the end of cheap oil is a fact. Most of the population of future societies will be agricultural workers, as is the historical norm. The legacy of the modern age is our newfound democratic consciousness and a large accumulation of agronomic knowledge. We can choose to use these to establish agroecology as the basis of truly democratic economies and communities. That’s the real goal of the food sovereignty movement, to establish itself as the basis of post-fossil fuel societies.
It’s not an argument against any of this to say that non-mechanized farming is physically more laborious than industrial agriculture. That’s never been true for farm laborers under capitalism. Nor, on the other hand, was it necessarily true from the other point of view. Medieval peasants worked less than modern industrial workers, for example. Even non-industrial agriculture, if democratically organized and purged of all parasites, can produce more than enough and still leave far more leisure time than we have today with the “job” model. Meanwhile life expectancy is now headed back down in the West. Under capitalism, the mass availability of modern medicine was a temporary feature of the Oil Age. Society is certainly supposed to continue spending ever more obscene amounts on the “health care” system. But more and more this will simply go down corporate ratholes, and to prop up luxury care for the 1%. In the hands of the 1% even seemingly good things like modern medicines become fraudulent and weapons against us.
The fact is that where it comes to medicine or something like renewable energy, even if their promises were physically possible post-oil (but they’re not), these promises are actually lies, as these sectors, like all others, are to be completely enclosed for the benefit of the 1%. To believe in a renewable energy utopia is just like continuing to believe in the liberal welfare state. This welfare state was a feature of the Oil Age, a temporary concession on the part of the 1%. It’s now being rolled back across the board, and as we see everywhere, any attempt to hold a “reformist” line somewhere is immediately obliterated. Reformism is simply a misdirectional ploy. We can have freedom and prosperity, but only by eradicating the 1% and its hierarchies completely. We can’t have the rancid liberal utopia of reformed capitalism and state.
As for the actual nature of the work, physical labor is not “bad” and a chore to be avoided. On the contrary, all able-bodied citizens must do their fair share of the physical work. He who does not work shall not eat. Work is something we’ve only been indoctrinated into thinking is an undesirable chore. It certainly is that under any hierarchy, and anyone who willingly works for a boss and considers that desirable is a scab. Historically people have always sought to avoid that, and the modern mass willingness to do so is yet another bizarre, ahistorical trait of industrialization and capitalism. As Marx analyzed, modern “workers” with “jobs” are systematically alienated from their work, robbed of both the physical produce and the spiritual satisfaction. By design, people are driven to hate work and seek ways, as individuals, to shirk it. They’re supposed to want to individually rise to petty bourgeois status and then fight furiously against anything which might level them with those who still do the hated physical work. Thus they’re acculturated to support the hierarchy which oppresses them all, for the sake of its false promise that their slightly higher position will be maintained. As we’re seeing today, this was always a lie. The mass middle class was a temporary concession on the part of the 1%, affordable on account of the oil surplus. This middle class is now being liquidated.
But it remains humanly true as ever that work undertaken on one’s own and for one’s family, friends, community, however physically hard, is fulfilling and even enjoyable. I usually enjoy the physical work I do in my garden and for our various relocalization projects. And even where the work is unpleasant in itself, it’s still ultimately satisfying, as it’s toward a cooperative democratic goal. That could be the nature of all work, where it’s finally liberated from the control of criminal elites.
We stand here, ready and able to work. Our work is there before us. The only thing in our way is a barbed wire fence which a few gangsters have strung between us and our work. They now force us to pass through checkpoints in the fence to get to our work. We need passes, in the form of “jobs”, to be let through. Almost all that we produce we must leave on the criminals’ side of the barbed wire, taking home only a meager portion in the form of “wages”.
There’s a similar fence between us as political animals, and our political sovereignty. There we may pass through the checkpoints only as “voters”.
No amount of dreaming about better checkpoint procedures will avail. We’re dispossessed, disenfranchised, alienated, enslaved. It’s this barbed wire enclosure which does it all. And in turn, all we need to do, and all we can do, is to tear down this fence between us and our human birthright. Our entire birthright.
It’s the only thing that’s necessary, and the only thing that’s sufficient. Tear down all system fences. Tear down all enclosures.


March 1, 2012

Notes on Strategy and Tactics (1 of 2)


We’ve long agonized over the right mix of loyalty to principle and what works in practice. Let me stress that in revolutionary times, which these are, as a rule the right practice is the right (radical) principle.
(When we say radical, we must always keep in mind that we mean radical only from the point of view of the status quo. Objectively, it’s today’s status quo which is radical, extreme, unnatural, inefficient and impractical from the point of view of helping people live more happily, anti-human. Positive democracy, rebuilding community, anti-corporatism and anti-statism, as radical as these are from the system point of view, in fact comprise a far more moderate, common sense, rational, practical way of life. This is “radical” only from the perspective of the Status Quo Lie, which seeks to turn reality upside down.)
Under today’s extreme conditions, where the criminals are becoming more and more aggressive, while their techniques of corruption and co-optation become more and more refined, the issue of principle and tactics becomes ever more fraught. It’s a difficult tightrope.
The Occupy movement has starkly presented the dilemma.. This is especially difficult because what it really means – shall it ultimately be transformational or merely reformist – is still up for grabs. It’s within this environment that we confront easy questions like supporting the Democratic Party (No), and relatively easy ones like alliances with unions and liberal NGOs (perhaps, but never surrender physical power or dictation of the agenda, always have a Plan B ready to go in the event of an attempted hijacking, and always make a truly democratic appeal to their rank and file), as well as difficult ones like how to maximize democracy within a functioning executive structure. (How democratic the OWS structure really is has been contested.)
Meanwhile we have the mournful spectacle of movement activists temporizing with the corporate system and even selling out completely. This example may be a good opportunity for me to suggest a basic ethical rule. While this system forces us into innumerable distasteful “compromises” (since we’re forced they’re not really compromises, but coerced actions), no one’s ever entitled to become an active criminal. We may be forced to shop at Walmart, we may even have to take a normal “job” working for it, but no one’s entitled to take the job of aggressively propagating its lies, as Allen has voluntarily done here. That’s the same thing as becoming a riot cop or private thug.
(This issue will come up for me personally if, as expected, we move our farmers’ market to the parking lot of a TBTF Wall Street bank. We believe this move to a much more centrally located, more highly visible location is necessary if the market is to survive at all. As I see my position so far, I’ll work there, within reason bite my lip, but under no circumstances will I participate in any active pro-bank PR. I don’t regard that as a good position by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it’s the best I can do under the circumstances. If the move required active propaganda collaboration, I’d prefer to take our chances at the old site. In their essence Wall Street and farmers’ markets are fundamental enemies. In the end one or the other must perish completely.)
With that introduction, I’ll offer a few more suggestions, ways to look at ethical dilemmas.
One criterion I’ve often written about is the question of whether or not a proposed reform action is on a vector toward real democracy, or whether it would keep us mired in the criminal system. Obvious examples of the latter are calls to “reform” Wall Street, Big Ag, private health insurance, or to “reform” the Democratic Party by electing “better Democrats”. Since these are fundamentally criminal structures, they can’t be reformed any more than an incorrigible individual psychopath can be. They have to be abolished completely.
I’ll add that this kind of system reformism is empirically proven to fail. Just to give the most glaring example, history will never again offer such a favorable environment for “progressive” politics, a “better” Democratic party, and system-reformist policy like reforming Wall Street, than 2009 presented. The Dems had a de facto one-party dictatorship, Wall Street and corporatism itself were on the ropes structurally and politically, Obama was elected with a vast, open-ended mandate for “change”, and the people were ardent for radical reform. They thirsted for it. Reformists will never see a moment like that again for the rest of history.
So what happened? The “reform” Leaders committed treason across the board. Led by Obama, they aggressively propped up Wall Street and the rest of the system while repressing all bottom-up energy for change. In the most symbolically rich example, within days of the election Obama moved to destroy his grassroots organization by assimilating it to the Democratic Party hierarchy. This was as clear-cut as it gets, to anyone who was paying attention. That set the pace for Obama’s anti-democratic and anti-human agenda to this day. Everything has followed the same pattern.
The centerpiece of the Obama agenda was “health care reform”. In practice this was a bailout of the health insurance rackets, which were on the verge of collapse. Obama presided over a joint Democratic Party/ liberal NGO front to suppress single-payer (which the people favor), propagate the “public option” bait-and-switch, and force the beleaguered people to pay protection money, a government-thug-enforced poll tax, to buy worthless “insurance” policies. So there’s just a few examples of worthless and malignant system reformism.
By contrast, I’ve argued that time banking, while technically reformist, is on a vector toward full economic democracy. That’s because it’s explicitly subversive of “the market” and the money economy, it explicitly repudiates the privileging of capital over labor, it explicitly rejects capitalist measures of the value of various kinds of work and alleged work, and it implicitly rejects all capitalist measures of value. While most of its current practitioners consciously see it as a supplement to capitalism (and thus a “reform” measure), this is just a subjective feature. We’re only a change of consciousness away from using time banking as a potent vector away from capitalism completely.
So to sum up, where one’s in doubt a question to ask is, would a proposal, if achieved, mean real progress along a vector toward true democracy, or would it leave us more mired in corporatism and statism than ever?
In part 2 I’ll suggest several more such criteria for strategic and tactical choices.
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