Monday, October 24, 2005

Two of America's Biggest Problems...

1) Hubris

Case in point: The Donald

2) Stupidity

DuOh! Why sell all those Treasury bonds that we can later default on, when we could just sell America outright to China?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The 100% Solution

Environmentalism.  Seems well intentioned.  Only I don't see the environment getting any better.

The New Deal and Social Welfare?  Don't blink, or you might miss its final dismantling.

Communism.  Let's face it: top heavy and uncompetetive.  Property may very well be theft, but without at least some form of materialism, there seems little capacity in human behavior for innovation.  Granted, this is truly sad!  But until humankind overcomes the basic limits of biology, it is all too real.  And without continuing innovation, there is no hope for a growing human population on a planet with diminishing natural resources.

So, until biology is surmounted, when ideas and hopefully ideals rule, here is my proposal to, at least, prevent less capable, less intelligent, less optimistic, and (discounting inheritance) less successful people like George W. Bush from controlling governments, and to a lesser extent corporations (e.g. Johnson and Johnson isn't run by Johnson descendents anymore).

A 100% Inheritance Tax

After all, isn't it about time for human society to abandon self-diminishing, self-limiting concepts rooted in Euro-feudalistic and Anglo-American legal traditions.

Simply stated, my proposal is that: upon death, ownership of all capital and material assets controlled by the deceased individual personally or in trust, shall immediately revert to the United States Department of the Treasury.  Collection will be under the auspice of the Internal Revenue Service.  The Federal Reserve will then decide upon the following course with regard to each asset:

1. Sell the asset at market value.  Then use or destroy (see below) the resulting capital.  Granted, all this selling will undoubtedly produce price deflation.  And in case you don't realize it, U.S. deflation is good and long overdue, unless of course you're a serious debtor, like the U.S. government or most U.S. families.  But, in case you missed it, I just solved the U.S. government's deficit.  So the Treasury can stop printing most of its bonds for increasingly risky sale to our global economic competitors: China and Japan.  Furthermore you will not much longer have a median home price of $568,890 in the State of California under my proposal.  Individuals, of course, will have to dig themselves out of debt.  Perhaps the government or charitable organizations can help in the interim, but living beyond one's means is simply immoral and selling yourself and your family's future to financial institutions must be discouraged.

2. Destroy the asset.  In the case of capital, this is also deflationary.  Deflation allows for lower wages (remember, U.S. currency becomes more valuable – i.e. your dollar buys more tomorrow not less).  Lower wages allow America, with its generally higher productivity, to once again compete industrially with "infinite human capital" nations like China and India. (Nations that U.S. entrepenuers granted admittance to the global marketplace by developing the Internet.)  But did you know that U.S. corporation Walmart sells DVDs in China for $2?  The same DVDs it sells for $20 in its stores in the U.S.?  Is this fair to the United Auto Workers' employees and retirees that General Motors has forced to accept benefit cuts, even as their health care and living expenses continually increase under the present U.S. inflationary spiral that presupposes 2-5% (at best; ? at worst) annual price inflation, then turns around the next year and essentially reclassifies this inflation as growth in the Gross Domestic Product, because the numbers got bigger?  No!  U.S. deflation, coupled with Chinese and Indian inflation is desperately needed for this country to remain economically viable for the vast majority of its citizens -- AKA the workers.  And my 100% solution guarantees it, without reducing essential, sustainable production.

3. Designate the asset for use toward the greater human good: museums (mansions are excellent choices in this regard), land/wilderness preservation, etc.

So go ahead, have your capitalism.  Buy as much as you can afford.  Sell anything people will buy.  Build a better mousetrap.  Raise the technological bar for humankind.  Build a personal empire.  Acquire wealth beyond human comprehension.  Honestly, I have nothing fundamentally against capitalism.  Just don't expect to pass the fruits of your labor to your undeserving offspring! Unlike you, they didn't make it the old fashioned way.  They didn't earn it!

Because as George W. Bush clearly illustrates, inheritance, aristocracy if you will, is the last and greatest inequity facing humankind.  How can we humans evolve (oops), or rather advance, when we automatically endow social and economic opportunity to the undeserving -- to the un-earning.  This is a phenomena best described as the Born on Third Base syndrome. Success in capitalism is not an inherited trait.  It's a lottery.  So why are the rewards of that success inherited?  Loving, providing for, and protecting your children is one thing.  Insuring them an unfair advantage in life is quite another indeed.  And there are more of us than there are of you.  It’s time to play fair, at least after you die.

Personally, I wish to be led by philosophers like Plato.  But I would settle for intellectuals like Karl Marx, maybe even capitalists like Bill Gates.  But George W. Bush has proven that the U.S. is overdue some method to prevent unfairly endowed leaders, devoid the essential moral and intellectual capital to lead, from leading.  

And just where are these people without their aristocracy?  It seems to me that answering this question can only improve the general quality of life on this planet.

Monday, October 03, 2005

America despairs of its shitty way of life...

I'm seeing it everywhere these days.

Yes, mostly since Katrina, but not just since Katrina.

For example, I was reading one of those "New West" (that's not the correct title, but you get the idea) magazines in a local opthamologist's office here in Helena this morning, waiting for the prognosis on my wife's recent eye surgery. And there was this curious article about Ross Macdonald, author of the "Drowning Pool" and, generally, a long series of crime/detective fiction novels depicting the career of a private detective named "Archer," that was also popularized in several films of Macdonald's novels starring Paul Newman.

Well, Macdonald's "Archer" was something of a philosopher king and Macdonald was one hell of a poetic writer. But the point I really want to make is that his writing could be dark, almost despairing, full of faded dreams and broken dreamers, of which Archer was not the least. So here, right in the middle of my wife's Dr. visit, I am reading this recent periodical, but not recent enough to be Katrina-aware. Seemingly not current enough to be so damn despairing to make such an effort to demonstrate Macdonald's dark California mythology, so fed up with an American dream that just couldn't get the job done quite right, of an America not having, or having sold, its soul.

And then it hit me. This feeling, which I am, myself, all too familiar with these days, has been building for almost a year now. And I wondered if perhaps, like me, nearly every thoughtful, well meaning person, and by this I mean every person with a even a glint of human idealism left, didn't really "take stock" after Bush's reelection; hasn't really, truly despaired for the human race since then. And now it seems I see it everywhere. Despair! In pre-Katrina magazine articles, like the one that inspired these words, ending abruptly and surprisingly as it did with a quote from Macdonald's "Drowning Pool", about swimming in the Pacific ocean; about how it's the only time that Archer, Macdonald's hard-boiled protaganist, ever felt really "clean" in his life; about how all California really needed was a proper "rise in sea level."

In "crime fiction" such emotions are often misread as mere ennui. But their juxtaposition in this article, coupled with its "cut to black" ending... No. This was sadness, real, despairing sadness on the part of the author and perhaps the editor of this article. Sadness without redemption. I say without redemption because, believe me, I looked. When the article just ended so darkly and abruptly, I went searching... for the next page, for a redemptive prolog, for some mitigating conclusion. But there was none. The piece just ended there. QED.

And such, in my opinion, is a current manifestation of intellectual and emotional life in America today. In an America where George W. Bush is not just elected, but reelected, what emotion is left, really, for any thoughtful person, save despair? Where do we go from here? What event can resurrect human hope? What deed can overcome such pure and unknowing corruption? What prayer redeems, or even exorcises, black water and broken faces from America's soul?

No. George W. Bush is not the devil. I am not saying that. But he is the most visible symbol I know for that which is terribly, terribly wrong with this country, and this world. And much as I try, much as I would like, I cannot see past his sneering, cynical, contemptous hatred for the human race, from which his blinding, impossible to conceal, elitism cannot possibly lift him.

God help me, but I still cannot understand how the United States of America reelected George W. Bush!