by Robert Anton Wilson
from The Illuminati Papers
Robert Anton Wilson was an American author, polymath and self-described agnostic mystic. Wilson described his work as an "attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth". He described his goal as being "to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything".
Below is a piece he wrote titled "The Rich Economy" which presents alternative approaches to economic policy. It is presented here to hopefully serve as a vehicle to help our readers be open to, and even create their own ideas about, new and different approaches to solving our economic issues. Enjoy!
If there is one proposition which currently wins the assent of nearly everybody, it is that we need more jobs. "A cure for unemployment" is promised, or earnestly sought, by every Heavy Thinker from Jimmy Carter to the Communist Party USA, from Ronald Reagan to the head of the economics department at the local university, from the Birchers to the New Left.
I would like to challenge that idea. I don't think there is, or ever again can be, a cure for unemployment. I propose that unemployment is not a disease, but the natural, healthy functioning of an advanced technological society.
The inevitable direction of any technology, and of any rational species such as Homo sap., is toward what Buckminster Fuller calls ephemeralization, or doing-more-with-less. For instance, a modern computer does more (handles more bits of information) with less hardware than the proto-computers of the late '40's and '50's. One worker with a modern teletype machine does more in an hour than a thousand medieval monks painstakingly copying scrolls for a century. Atomic fission does more with a cubic centimeter of matter than all the engineers of the 19th Century could do with a million tons, and fusion does even more.
Unemployment is not a disease; so it has no "cure." Read more »
President Obama is hobbling into the final stretch of his re-election run. He has lost credibility with his public base because they feel he did not do what he promised he would. He has lost support elite fiscal base (the wealthy, business owners, and c-suite managers) because he cannot continue to follow their prescriptions which have proven only to exacerbate the gap between them and the poor and working class.
It is important to see clearly what President Obama has done, and done really well. He has made a concerted and highly focused effort to bridge the big divides. He has reached out and tried to work with those across the aisle on a range of issues seeking to achieve compromise focused on common aims. Read more »
Could the Pentagon Be Responsible for Your Death?
The Military’s Marching Orders to the Jihadist World
By Tom Engelhardt
Put what follows in the category of paragraphs no one noticed that should have made the nation’s hair stand on end. This particular paragraph should also have sent chills through the body politic, launched warning flares, and left the people’s representatives in Congress shouting about something other than the debt crisis.
Last weekend, two reliable New York Times reporters, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, had a piece in that paper’s Sunday Review entitled “After 9/11, an Era of Tinker, Tailor, Jihadist, Spy.” Its focus was the latest counterterrorism thinking at the Pentagon: deterrence theory. (Evidently an amalgam of the old Cold War ideas of “containment” and nuclear deterrence wackily reimagined by the boys in the five-sided building for the age of the jihadi.) Schmitt and Shanker’s article was, a note informed the reader, based on research for their forthcoming book, Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda.
And here’s the paragraph, buried in the middle of their piece, that should have stopped readers in their tracks:
“Or consider what American computer specialists are doing on the Internet, perhaps terrorist leaders’ greatest safe haven, where they recruit, raise money, and plot future attacks on a global scale. American specialists have become especially proficient at forging the onscreen cyber-trademarks used by Al Qaeda to certify its Web statements, and are posting confusing and contradictory orders, some so virulent that young Muslims dabbling in jihadist philosophy, but on the fence about it, might be driven away.”
How the National Security Complex Grows on Terrorism Fears
By Tom Engelhardt
Here’s a scenario to chill you to the bone:
Without warning, the network -- a set of terrorist super cells -- struck in northern Germany and Germans began to fall by the hundreds, then thousands. As panic spread, hospitals were overwhelmed with the severely wounded. More than 20 of the victims died.
No one doubted that it was al-Qaeda, but where the terrorists had come from was unknown. Initially, German officials accused Spain of harboring them (and the Spanish economy promptly took a hit); then, confusingly, they retracted the charge. Alerts went off across Europe as fears spread. Russia closed its borders to the European Union, which its outraged leaders denounced as a “disproportionate” response. Even a small number of Americans visiting Germany ended up hospitalized.
In Washington, there was panic, though no evidence existed that the terrorists were specifically targeting Americans or that any of them had slipped into this country. Still, at a hastily called news conference, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano raised the new terror alert system for the first time from its always “elevated“ status to “imminent” (that is, “ a credible, specific, and impending threat”). Soon after, a Pentagon spokesman announced that the U.S. military had been placed on high alert across Europe. Read more »
Dumb Question of the Twenty-first Century: Is It Legal?
Post-Legal America and the National Security Complex
By Tom Engelhardt
Is the Libyan war legal? Was Bin Laden’s killing legal? Is it legal for the president of the United States to target an American citizen for assassination? Were those “enhanced interrogation techniques” legal? These are all questions raised in recent weeks. Each seems to call out for debate, for answers. Or does it?
Now, you couldn’t call me a legal scholar. I’ve never set foot inside a law school, and in 66 years only made it onto a single jury (dismissed before trial when the civil suit was settled out of court). Still, I feel at least as capable as any constitutional law professor of answering such questions.
My answer is this: they are irrelevant. Think of them as twentieth-century questions that don't begin to come to grips with twenty-first century American realities. In fact, think of them, and the very idea of a nation based on the rule of law, as a reflection of nostalgia for, or sentimentality about, a long-lost republic. At least in terms of what used to be called “foreign policy,” and more recently “national security,” the United States is now a post-legal society. (And you could certainly include in this mix the too-big-to-jail financial and corporate elite.) Read more »
Crisis of Confidence
How Washington Lost Faith in America’s Courts
By Karen J. Greenberg
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the unexpected extent of the damage Americans have done to themselves and their institutions is coming into better focus. The event that “changed everything” did turn out to change Washington in ways more startling than most people realize. On terrorism and national security, to take an obvious (if seldom commented upon) example, the confidence of the U.S. government seems to have been severely, perhaps irreparably, shaken when it comes to that basic and essential American institution: the courts.
If, in fact, we are a “nation of laws,” you wouldn’t know it from Washington’s actions over the past few years. Nothing spoke more strikingly to that loss of faith, to our country’s increasing incapacity for meeting violence with the law, than the widely hailed decision to kill rather than capture Osama bin Laden.
Clearly, a key factor in that decision was a growing belief, widely shared within the national-security establishment, that none of our traditional or even newly created tribunals, civilian or military, could have handled a bin Laden trial. Washington’s faith went solely to Navy SEALs zooming into another country’s sovereign airspace on a moonless night on a mission to assassinate bin Laden, whether he offered the slightest resistance or not. It evidently seemed so much easier to the top officials overseeing the operation -- and so much less messy -- than bringing a confessed mass murderer into a courtroom in, or even anywhere near, the United States. Read more »
The mission of BlackPolitics.com is to provide alternative perspective and information on politics and public policy that people can use to make informed decisions. To that end, below is a list of sources for news and information which we present to streamline the process of finding new information that better informs, and hopefully provokes, inquiry while inspiring considerate, compassionate, and responsive action designed to further our nations highest qualities. Read more »
Taking an approach that focused on the broad needs of our society to maintain a strong working class, The Congressional Progressive Caucus drafted a comprehensive "Peoples Budget" that has been widely ignored by corporate media, President Obama, and both Republican and Democratic representatives in the House and Senate. This budget warrants massive public support and serves as the best presently available vetted solution to our nations fiscal woes. It maintains strong healthcare and social security positions, while balancing the tax burden of working class Americans by requiring the wealthy and corporations to pay a more equitable share. With the Peoples Budget, Americans have a clearly defined alternative proposal they can support that promises a balanced budget within a decade and a stronger America for all Americans. Download the budget. Download the budget analysis.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has drafted a progressive budget, titled the People’s Budget, as an alternative to the House Republican 2012 budget and President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget request. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has analyzed and scored the specific policy proposals in the People’s Budget and modeled their cumulative impact on the federal budget over the next decade. The policies in the People’s Budget reflect the decisions of the Congressional Progressive Caucus leadership and staff, not that of the Economic Policy Institute.1 The People’s Budget Department of Defense proposals were crafted by Congressional Progressive Caucus staff in conjunction with Congressional Research Service staff; budgetary scores were provided to the Economic Policy Institute but independent verification is beyond our area of expertise. All other policy proposals have been independently analyzed and scored by EPI based on a variety of other sources, notably data from the Congressional Budget Office, Joint Committee on Taxation, Office of Management and Budget, Tax Policy Center, and Citizens for Tax Justice.
Composition of the People’s Budget
The policy options that make up the People’s Budget fall into five broad categories: public investment, Social Security, health care reform, Department of Defense spending, and tax reform. Read more »
Crossposted by ReaderSupportedNews.org and TomDispatch.com. This piece is adapted from a talk given in Amsterdam in March. The video is posted here.
The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces - coinciding, fortuitously, with a remarkable uprising of tens of thousands in support of working people and democracy in Madison, Wisconsin, and other US cities. If the trajectories of revolt in Cairo and Madison intersected, however, they were headed in opposite directions: in Cairo toward gaining elementary rights denied by the dictatorship, in Madison towards defending rights that had been won in long and hard struggles and are now under severe attack.
Each is a microcosm of tendencies in global society, following varied courses. There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most powerful country in human history, and in what President Dwight Eisenhower called "the most strategically important area in the world" - "a stupendous source of strategic power" and "probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment," in the words of the State Department in the 1940s, a prize that the US intended to keep for itself and its allies in the unfolding New World Order of that day.
Despite all the changes since, there is every reason to suppose that today's policy-makers basically adhere to the judgment of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's influential advisor A.A. Berle that control of the incomparable energy reserves of the Middle East would yield "substantial control of the world." And correspondingly, that loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World War II, and that has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order since that day.
American public support for the free market economy collapsed sharply in the past year, and is now lower than in China, according to a GlobeScan poll.
The findings, taken from 12,884 interviews across 25 countries, show there has been a dramatic drop in the number of Americans who think the free market economy is the best economic system for the future. In 2002, four in five Americans (80%) saw the free market as the best economic system for the future—the highest level of support among tracking countries. Support has plummeted since 2009, falling 15 points in a single year so that fewer than three in five (59%) now view free market capitalism as the best system for the future.
GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: “America is the last place we would have expected to see such a sharp drop in trust in the free enterprise system. This is not good news for business.” He also said "The poll suggest that American business is close to losing its social contract with average American families that has enabled it to prosper in the world. Inspired leadership will be needed to reverse this trend."
It will be up to Americans to decide if in fact this is a "trend," and if it can be easily reversed. Read more »