Class Warfare Blog

May 29, 2020

The Values of the Western Cultural Tradition . . . Biblically Inspired?

I was reading a book last night and read this: “The implication is that this crisis should be of concern not only to theologians and clerics, but also to intelligent lay folk, and indeed to all who cherish the Western cultural tradition, which in large part derives from values enshrined in the Bible (emphasis mine).”

So, the nature of the crisis aside, have you read something like the italicizes part before? I have many, many times. But right now it seems a sop thrown to the Christians who often form the majority of citizens in Western countries.

So, our cherished “Western cultural tradition” is. . . ? We favor democracies as our governing models. Would a democracy be supported by anything in the Bible? Not at all. In the Bible it is Yahweh or the highway. The only allowed form of government supported by the Bible is a theocracy and a Christian (or Jewish) theocracy at that.

How about . . .
The separation of church and state in the U.S. and elsewhere? Nope.
No religion tests allowed in elections? Nope.
The elimination of blasphemy laws? Nope.
The elimination of anti-abortion laws (on going)? Nope.
The government refusing to support Christian schools? Nope.
Allowing people to get a divorce on their own recognizance? Nope.
Legal same sex marriage? Nope.
Anti-discrimination laws base upon gender? Nope.
Allowing people of different faiths to marry? Nope.
Anti-discrimination laws base upon race? Nope.
Trial by a jury of one’s peers? Nope
Local control of various government functions? Nope
Anti-slavery laws? Nope.

So, what are these “cherished” values “enshrined” in the Bible that are still part of our Western traditions? It seems that we have, step-by-step, weeded out all of those influences as being unenlightened. (Pun intended.)

 

You Might Want to Wear Asbestos Gloves While Holding This Article

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:24 am
Tags: , , , ,

Regardless, the author is spot on about the “New GOP” having almost nothing to do with the “Old GOP” and now merely a subsidiary political arm of the filthy rich.

‘Here’s a bedsheet, make a parachute!’ Republicans say, pushing us out of a plane by Hamilton Nolan

May 28, 2020

Climate Change . . . Have We Been Too Optimistic or Too Pessimistic?

Some enterprising climate scientist went back to the early days of climate modeling and put the actual data involved into the models instead of the hypothesized data we used back then (we didn’t have all the data needed so we made up “reasonable” estimates). What they found was that those models were very close to being spot on. Their deviation from actual values of climate change parameters was mostly due to the faulty inputs, not the models themselves. Climate change opponents at the time were scathing in their “reviews” of the climate change model predictions as being premature, not capable of being done, being pie in the sky wishful thinking on the part of the scientists. Of course, the critics that were most prominent could barely spell climate change, let alone had mastered any of the intricacies.

As time went on the models were revised and we found a data consensus (based upon data from different sources indicating the same things). But for the critics, the predictions were “overblown,” “too pessimistic,” and neglected advances in technology that would mitigate much of the changes. Again, most of these objections were not science-backed, just economics-backed, aka they said “we are making too much money to change for you airy-fairy science types.”

Now we are finding out that the dire predictions we have been hearing for the past couple of decades have been far too optimistic, that is not pessimistic enough. More than a few effects of climate change that were predicted for years or decades in the future are happening now.

In short order, I expect the climate change deniers to start saying “How could we have known?” and “Who would have predicted this?” Assholes . . . greedy assholes.

May 26, 2020

Who Suffers?

We all tend to think of what is normal for us economically is the way it has always been, but today the economic deck is stacked, possibly more so than in any previous time. And it is not stacked in your favor. It is stacked in favor of those who lend capital.

For someone to lend you money, there has to be an almost iron clad guarantee that the lender will be paid back. You almost always have to put up collateral for your loan. Fail to pay the loan back and the lender takes the collateral. So, if you buy a house, the house becomes the collateral. If you fail to pay the mortgage payment for a few months and Wham! The lender forecloses on the loan and repossesses the collateral, aka your house. All of the payments you made now count as nothing. It does not have to be this way. The “collateral” could be held by a court and put up for sale and the proceeds of the sale be split  between the two actors: the lender and buyer with the split determined by how much money had been put up so far.

But that is not the way it is. In our culture, the lender has all of the cards with almost no risk.

Consider the “Great Recession” ca. 2008. The housing market collapsed due to bad behavior on the part of realtors and lenders and suddenly mortgages that could not be paid resulted in repossessions of collateral worth far, far less that the amounts owed. So lenders bore some risk, then . . . except they used a powerful Washington, D.C. lobby to get bailed out so that they did not lose any money (or at least not so much). Were the people buying the homes also bailed out? Silly person, of course, they were not.

Lenders are so used to not having any risk associated with lending that corporations are currently awash in bad debt. They know they are okay because if anything goes wrong their “friends” in Congress and the White House, Democrat or Republican, will bail them out again. This is why economists invented the term “moral hazard,” but they do not apply it to those who line their pockets.

I have been slowly working my way through Michael Hudson’s book on how debt was handled in days long gone. I will give a larger book review (I have offered tidbits before) when I finish it.

To hold you over, here are some tidbits of Michael Hudson’s research and thinking:

“The pedigree for “act-of-God” rules specifying what obligations need not be paid when serious disruptions occur goes back to the laws of Hammurabi c. 1750 BC. Their aim was to restore economic normalcy after major disruptions. §48 of Hammurabi’s laws proclaim a debt and tax amnesty for cultivators if Adad the Storm God has flooded their fields, or if their crops fail as a result of pests or drought. Crops owed as rent or fiscal payments were freed from having to be paid. So were consumer debts run up during the crop year, including tabs at the local ale house and advances or loans from individual creditors. The ale woman likewise was freed from having to pay for the ale she had received from palace or temples for sale during the crop year.

“Whoever leased an animal that died by an act of God was freed from liability to its owner (§266). A typical such amnesty occurred if the lamb, ox or ass was eaten by a lion, or if an epidemic broke out. Likewise, traveling merchants who were robbed while on commercial business were cleared of liability if they swore an oath that they were not responsible for the loss (§103).

“It was realized that hardship was so inevitable that debts tended to accrue even under normal conditions. Every ruler of Hammurabi’s dynasty proclaimed a Clean Slate cancelling personal agrarian debts (but not normal commercial business loans) upon taking the throne, and when military or other disruptions occurred during their reign. Hammurabi did this on four occasions.

“In an epoch when labor was the scarcest resource, a precondition for survival was to prevent rising indebtedness from enabling creditors to use debt leverage to obtain the labor of debtors and appropriate their land. Early communities could not afford to let bondage become chronic, or creditors to become a wealthy class rivaling the power of palace rulers and seeking gains by impoverishing their debtors.

“Yet that is precisely what is occurring as today’s economy polarizes between creditors and debtors.”

I think you will find that some of this applies to our current situation, no?

May 25, 2020

I’d “Like” to Hear from the Nazi Flag Wavers

Filed under: Culture,History,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 9:47 am

I put “like” in the title in quotes because if I actually did hear from Nazi flag wavers, I suspect that I wouldn’t like what I heard.

What I would “like to know” is what part of Nazism do they like and espouse.

Do they like and espouse, for example, making war on one’s neighbors to make space for more Germans (or Americans) to live and if a few million of the neighbors die in that process, well that makes even more room for us?

Do they like and espouse, for example, letting a small cadre of politicians redefine the country any way they deem fit, even if it contradicts all previous version of the country?

Do they like and espouse, for example, identifying cadres or “races” of people to blame for the current ills of the country (well, and past ones, too)?

Do they like and espouse, for example, crafting and executing plans to exterminate the cadres/races of people identified as “enemies of the state?”

Do they like and espouse, for example, indoctrination of the entire populace, but especially young people, to respect, adore, love the Leader of the small cadre of politicians through propaganda based upon nothing real?

Do they like and espouse, for example, controlling all of the news media so that they only report what the ruling regime wants reported?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the efficiency of the Nazi’s secret police, that was able to kill or disappear any persons who were the slightest bit inconvenient to the plans of the small group of ruling politicians?

Do they like and espouse, for example, rigged elections that when they produce the desired effect then result in elections being suspended as being counterproductive to the plans of the ruling elites?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the pushing of religious leaders into the background where their influence becomes nil?

Do they like and espouse, for example, the Nazi’s promotion of white supremacy/racial superiority?

What is it about Nazism that they love so much that they promote it by waving a Nazi flag?

Or are they just childishly seeking attention that their rather meager skills otherwise do not merit?

Enquiring minds want to know. . . .

May 23, 2020

GOP Thinking—Fast and Slow

Maybe it is a fluke, but I think not, that some part-time workers who are now able to apply for unemployment insurance whereas before they were not and so are making more on unemployment than they were working.

Republicans are worried, deathly worried, that we are encouraging sloth. They are worried that people will not want to go back to work. Such are the moral hazards in the Republiverse.

These same people don’t seem to worry about the moral hazards when we bail out banks or shaky corporations, like Boeing. They don’t seem to worry that those companies would rather suck off the government teat than make good products. They also love to bail out stockholders who are elevating rent extraction above honest work as a profession.

Okay, I can solve this problem for my Republifriends. I start with a fable, maybe even a parable . . .

Let’s say that a friend, a good friend, of yours tells you about a job offer. “Dude, there is this job I think you ought to apply for. It is right up your alley . . . except, well, you will be working harder and get paid less than you are now. What do you think?” I know what you would think: “Are you effing crazy?”

If the GOP is worried that people are making more money off of unemployment insurance than working, the solution is obvious—pay better wages! Pay workers more than they can make off of unemployment payments (which are effing temporary in any case!).

If people were losing significant money while on unemployment, they would be dying to get back to their regular job. In fact, many, many problems would be solved if wages were to go up substantially. There would be less need of food stamps, other forms of welfare, charity, food banks, etc. People would pay more in taxes, lowering the annual budget deficit we always seem to run.

See, it is simple. Except there is this teeny-tiny bias the GOP has. It worries about moral hazards only when they involve the poor or middle class. That the billionaire class and corporations are raking in huge windfall profits from the government’s efforts to ameliorate the pandemic are just something that does not interest them, at least not after the scheme to funnel all of that wealth toward the billionaire class has been accomplished.

Mission accomplished! GOP!

May 19, 2020

Mr. Trump’s Administration (sic)

I have said quite a few times that President Trump is neither smart enough nor aware enough to receive credit or blame for many of the actions taken by “his administration.” He is responsible for his own actions and his own appointments, however, which are highlighted in these excerpts from Watchdog Was Investigating Pompeo for Arms Deal and Staff Misuse Before Firing  by Julian Borger in The Guardian (U.K.) today.

“The government watchdog who was fired last week had been investigating the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for sidestepping Congress to approve arms sales to the Gulf and using staffers for personal errands, according to congressional sources.

“Donald Trump declared his intention to fire the state department inspector general, Steve Linick, in a letter sent to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, late on Friday night. The White House said the decision was taken at Pompeo’s advice.”

“In his letter on Friday, announcing Linick’s dismissal, Trump said he no longer had full confidence in him. On Monday, he said he had never heard of Linick before being asked to fire him.

“’I don’t know him. Never heard of him,’ Trump said. ‘But they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I said who appointed him, and they say: President Obama. I said: look I’ll terminate him.’”

Mr. Trump has the ultimate defense against impeachment . . . “too stupid to know what he was doing.”

May 17, 2020

Is President Trump a Racist?

Filed under: Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 9:17 am
Tags: ,

In a comment to another of my posts, Gus the Realist said “Because in his simple, distorted and illogical mind, black men do not have the same rights as white men.” He was referring to Donald Trump, of course. I responded “That is absolutely clear.” But . . . is it?

Consider the following two photographs and focus in on Mr. Trump’s body language.

Is it clear now?

May 16, 2020

Logic Is Not His Strong Suit

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:14 pm
Tags: , ,

Mr. Trump is fishing for the memes his campaign will revolve around, currently he has something called Obamagate that no one, ever His Nibs, understands. And there is one tiny problem with his logic.

May 15, 2020

The Downside of Being “Distractor In Chief”

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:55 am
Tags:

Mr. Trump’s political style of creating distractions right and left and hoping people do not notice what is really going on has its downsides. By blaming everyone under the sun for his problems, his own appointees, even Jow Biden and Barack Obama, organizations like WHO and the CDC, and even whole countries such as China, Mr. Trump has created exactly the opposite what he seems to desire, namely universal praise and recognition of his “greatness.”

Below you will find evidence for this in the form of excerpts from just one article in The Guardian (U.K.) that ran today.

“Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger,” the columnist Fintan O’Toole wrote in the Irish Times. “But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.”

A poll in France last week found Merkel to be far and away the most trusted world leader. Just 2% had confidence Trump was leading the world in the right direction. Only Boris Johnson and Xi Jinping inspired less faith.

Around the globe, the “America first” response pursued by the Trump administration has alienated close allies. In Canada, it was the White House order in April to halt shipments of critical N95 protective masks to Canadian hospitals that was the breaking point. The Ontario premier, Doug Ford, who had previously spoken out in support of Trump on several occasions, said the decision was like letting a family member “starve” during a crisis. “When the cards are down, you see who your friends are,” said Ford. “And I think it’s been very clear over the last couple of days who our friends are.”

Esmir Milavić, an editor at Bosnia’s N1 TV channel, told viewers this week: “The White House is in utter dysfunction and doesn’t speak with one voice.” Milavić said: “The vice-president is wearing a mask, while the president doesn’t; some staffers wear them, some don’t. Everybody acts as they please. As time passes, White House begins to look more and more like the Balkans.”

“If there is any world leader who can be accused of handling the current crisis badly, it is Donald Trump, whose initial disdain for COVID-19 may have cost thousands of Americans their lives,” an editorial in the conservative Estado de São Paulo newspaper said last month.

Trump’s decision not to take part in a global effort to find a vaccine, and his abrupt severance of financial support to the WHO at the height of the pandemic, added outrage and prompted complaints that the US was surrendering its role of global leadership.

There is a palpable sense of relief among Chinese state commentators that Trump’s antics have diverted some of the anger that could have been aimed at Beijing. “Only by making Americans hate China can they make sure that the public might overlook the fact that Trump’s team is stained with the blood of Americans,” said an English-language Global Times editorial late last month.

China’s failure to cooperate fully with the WHO and its heavy-handed diplomacy has won Beijing few friends, despite its dispatch of medical assistance around the world. But the German news weekly Der Spiegel argued that Trump had single-handedly managed to spare Beijing the worst of the global consequences for its failings.

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