Class Warfare Blog

March 20, 2021

The Massage Parlor Shootings

Filed under: Culture,History,Morality,Race,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 8:16 am
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It seems that everyone has some kind of opinion about why these killings were made. Waiting for the shooter to be interviewed and the investigation to be complete is apparently too much to ask. By the time we find out what his motivations were, we will have moved on to some new atrocity or other.

I am placing my bet right now, however. I am betting that that young man’s training occurred at the toxic intersection of white privilege and evangelical Christianity. Both “communities” prey on young men, distorting whatever values that might have had. One pushes hard on white supremacy, the other on male supremacy. Both blame others for any problems they experience. Both demonize “others” matter-of-factly.

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves and then protect the right to do so as something near sacred?

March 15, 2021

The Anti-American Big Corporations

When it became clear to corporate leaders that the rest of the manufacturing world was catching up, what was their response? If you believed their rhetoric, it would have been to double down on American workers. These leaders would have reached out to labor unions and partnered with them to devise ways to shove American productivity, then the highest in the world, even higher. This was necessary, it is said, because while other workforces were nowhere near as productive as ours (most were not even close), the low cost of the labor in many of those countries allowed for that lack of productivity and still allowed for very healthy profit margins.

So, the segment of our society we call “corporate leaders” saw the writing on the wall and did . . . what? They lifted up themselves on their own ideology (“My Country Right or Wrong” “This is the greatest country in the world!” “American exceptionalism is what guides commerce.” etc.), rolled up their sleeves . . . and moved their factories to countries with cheaper labor.

Not long after this “movement” swept the bulk of American manufacturing jobs overseas, it was shown that the lower productivities, the difficulty of managing factories from far away, and the increased transportation costs (for both raw materials and finished goods) ate up all or most of the so-called savings harvested by moving production facilities overseas.

So, why did they do it? Mostly, it was for purposes of tax avoidance. Tariffs were low, so not much had to be paid to import those “American Made” goods (yes, they still claimed they were American made because they were made in American owned factories). But by running their “earnings” through shell corporations in low tax countries they could reduce the taxes they paid substantially.

So, this country was still their country, right or wrong, but they didn’t want to pay for any of it in either case.

We tend to exalt these corporate tycoons, but based upon their behaviors, they should be seen as pariahs instead. The taxes they avoided have been picked up by others (the rest of us and in the form of national debt). They have used political power, through bribes, er campaign donations, to gut American labor laws even after hiring new labor forces in other countries. They hate unions, just hate them. It used to be that corporate power was opposed only by labor unions and the government (remember anti-trust actions?). They eliminated the labor unions by changing the laws protecting them and protecting workers. They eliminated the government opposition by bribery, er campaign donations, and co-opting regulators (who often go to nice jobs in the industries they regulated after they leave government).

We could eliminate tax havens with a stroke of a pen, by changing the tax laws that allow for them. That does not happen because the legislators have been bought off. We could disadvantage companies who move overseas, but we don’t (guess why).

All we have the power to actually do is to change their social standing. Instead of idolizing the Jeff Bezoses and Elon Musks of this country, we should call them out on their abuses of their workers and our tax laws. These are far from nice people, we shouldn’t give them elevated social status to further inflate their already inflated egos. We should, instead, elevate what they owe to the culture and country that made what they have done possible. We should demand a higher level of civil virtue the bigger they get (. . . from those according to their ability . . . , btw this is not just to be found in Marx, but also Christian scripture). Instead we expect them to only manifest the worst of us . . . greed. Corporations have been sold the bogus idea that they should direct their efforts only to maximizing shareholder value. (Gee, I wonder who promoted that bogus idea? Step One: Find an economist needing a bit of money. Step Two: have them promote your bogus idea. Step Three: Spread a bit more cash around in economic circles to get the idea discussed. Done.)

These are the same corporations that have been making money hand over fist during the pandemic and who supported a government approach to the problem that guaranteed that the pandemic would last longer than anyone thought. Never let a good catastrophe, er opportunity, go to waste.

We are reaping what we have allowed to be sown.

February 12, 2021

It is Time to Do Away with the Stock Markets

A couple of recent stories surrounding the stock market are indicative of why we need to do away with it.

#1 “Collapsed revenues, astronomical losses, red-hot cash-burn, hellish new debt. Meanwhile, amid craziest markets ever, airline shares soared.”

#2 A stock buyback – a company purchasing its own shares to reduce the number openly available and so push the price up – is a form of market manipulation that was illegal in the US until Ronald Reagan decided that to ban it was to restrict market freedom. As a result, many corporations, instead of building factories, now plough money into their own shares.

It has helped raise the stock market to record levels and provided shareholders with a huge bonus. But few others have benefited. The pharmaceutical company Merck insists that it must charge exorbitant amounts for its medicines to help fund new research. In 2018, the company spent $10 billion on research and development – and $14 billion on share repurchases and dividends. One report suggests that had Wal-Mart diverted half the money it has spent on stock buybacks into wages, one million of its lowest-paid employees, many of whom live below the poverty line, could have had a 50% pay increase.

#3 A bunch of Reddit geeks on the online forum r/wallstreetbets, an investment discussion group that boasts more than 6 million users, decided to buy GameStop shares en masse. Perhaps they saw it as an investment, perhaps they were bored, perhaps they wanted to inflict pain on Wall Street. Whatever the reason, the consequence was to push GameStop’s share price up. And up. Once it became a global story, others piled in too, boosting the share price from about $40 to almost $400 in a matter of days. As a result, big investors lost big (billions of dollars reportedly), one hedge fund, Melvin Capital Management, even being forced to seek a rescue package. (They, of course, were “shorting” that stock looking to make money by providing, well, nothing to earn it. So sad.)

The “stock market” as you were taught about in school barely exists. Some companies do “go public,” selling pieces of their company to raise the money to expand, modernize, whatever. But this activity constitutes less than 10% of the activity of the American stock markets. Most of the “market activity” is what are called the “secondary market” in which people buy and sell stocks already existing. This benefits the companies not at all and, as you can see from point #2 above, it is not unusual for a company to buy and sell its own stock to manipulate their stock’s price (which is what stock brokers are complaining about in point #3, that manipulation not being done by the right kind of people, don’t you know).

The entirety of the stock market has been studied and shown to be a drain on the economy, so why do we allow this abomination to exist? Basically wealthy people are siphoning off money from the economy by pushing paper in the stock markets, contributing nothing in return. But because they are wealthy, and contribute much money to the campaign coffers of politicians, there is no serious movement to “defund the stock markets” as it were.

The time has come: either get rid of it or place a transaction tax upon the traders. That would at least discourage rampant secondary market stock trading which has no value for the American people (actually it has negative value).

February 10, 2021

Religious Privilege and What It Buys Us

The wages of sin religious privilege are death.

This is quite worth reading, regarding recent Supreme Court rulings on religion.

No Place for Science in the Supreme Court’s Christian America

February 5, 2021

Anti-Mask Protests

Filed under: Culture,Medicine,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 12:05 pm
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There continues to be anti-mask wearing protest rallies occurring fairly frequently (Only slaves wear masks . . . only slaves wear masks! Yeah!). The question is: what to do about those protesting by not wearing masks?

These are our fellow citizens so I think we should treat them with respect. I also expect them to treat the rest of us also with respect. So, they are free to make their own life choices. They are also free to suffer their own life choice consequences. This is a problem that solves itself, we just don’t want them to take us down with them.

So, we will respect their desire to not wear a mask, but this means that they cannot attend an event that requires masks. If a store/restaurant/whatever requires people to be masked, they may not enter. If the city or state they are in requires masks be worn out in public spaces, they must stay home. If their children’s schools reopen, but require the kids to wear masks, they will have to home school their kids.

I would also suggest that since they are engaging in reckless behavior that they should be last in line for respirators and oxygen in hospitals and last in line for vaccinations. Oh, and should they get the ghastly disease, their health insurance should not have to pay for their treatment because they were undertaking reckless behavior that they were warned against, but continued doing.

Oh, about the Anti-Vax Rallies . . . <ditto>.

Do realize I am being consistent. In my home state, California, a law was passed that motorcycle and scooter riders had to wear helmets when operating their rides on public roadways. Ah, the anguish expressed! “They are taking away our freedom!” riders complained. Not being someone to take away someone’s freedom, I also think that actions have consequences. So, if a motorcyclist gets into an accident when helmetless, then their insurance company should not need to pay out anything as reckless behavior was involved in the accident. (Yes, they still need to have insurance, silly!) Also, their health insurers shouldn’t be liable for paying to have them patched up, either. So, emergency healthcare professionals can, if they choose, patch them up a little, but only after their ability to pay has been established.

The cost of liberty/freedom certainly isn’t cheap. Sometimes it involves more than eternal vigilance, sometimes it involves hard cash. Maybe we should have the helmetless/maskless/vaccineless post a bond . . . hmm, still thinking about this one.

January 8, 2021

If You See Something . . .

Filed under: Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 12:50 pm
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Remember after 9-11, the patriotic thing to say was . . . no, not Freedom Fries, but “If you see something, say something.”

I suspect that those troglodytes who invaded the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday won’t be able to contain themselves and will be posting “selfies” on Instagram and Facebook. If you see such pictures, forward them to the FBI if you would. Every single one of those assholes needs to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Let’s see … I recognize that guy … and that guy … oh, look a videographer, I wonder if he will post his videos?

I can hardly wait to hear them plead that they didn’t know that what they were doing was wrong, or that they were just following orders, or that if the president recommends it, it is legal. Can’t wait.

I also can’t see Republicans objecting to us wanting those involved to take individual responsibility for their actions. This used to be a pillar of Republican ideology and I suspect they will want to be recapturing some of that from now on.

Lock them up! Lock them up! Lock then up!

January 7, 2021

Worth a Thousand Words

Filed under: Race,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 12:45 pm
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A picture is …

September 23, 2020

Will Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee Be Another Catholic?

Filed under: Politics,Religion,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 11:14 am
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Before Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, the current SCOTUS contained five Catholic justices, three Jewish justices, and Brett Cavanaugh who was raised Catholic but claims to be Episcopalian now (Episcopalians have been described as wannabe Catholics, so we will count him as half of a Catholic).

In the history of the Supreme Court there have been 114 Justices, only 13 of which have been Catholic, about 11 per cent. Catholics currently make up 22% of Americans but that is counting newborn babies, children, etc. An estimate of the percentage of adults is “about one fifth.” This seems an over estimate as currently 78% of Americans are adults and any large sub group would probably have this same proportion of adults. So, a 22% total count translates into a 17% adult count, so “about a fifth” is an exaggeration.

So, a proportional number of Supreme Court Justices would be about 1.5, so 1-2, but we currently have five (and a half) and are considering six (and a half) if Mr. Trump’s favorite is nominated.

The religions supporting Mr. Trump bigly are the Evangelical Protestants. Many of these people do not believe that Catholics are even Christians, let alone correct believing Christians.

So, why wouldn’t his base howl if he didn’t nominate an Evangelical Christian?

Currently there are no Protestants on the court, certainly no Evangelicals. Historically 80% of Justices have been Protestant of some stripe. Currently there are none.

Pass the word, our evangelical brothers and sisters need to know that Mr. Trump is selling us all to the Papist Cult!

September 3, 2020

See the Pattern?

Filed under: Culture,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 1:13 pm
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Here are two accounts from recent news stories:

Tahir Ahmad Naseem – who his daughter remembers as the kindest and most gentle of parents – was on trial in Pakistan for blasphemy when he was shot dead last month in a high-security courtroom. The teenager who pulled the trigger, Faisal Khan, was arrested after the shooting and charged with murder. But he was also feted as a “holy warrior”.

Meanwhile in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US of A . . .

But a white teenager, Kyle Rittenhouse, could walk down a public street in that same city during a chaotic protest — in violation of a curfew — with a military style semi-automatic long gun strapped over his shoulder, and police officers didn’t stop him. Instead, they tossed him a bottle of water and thanked him for his help. According to news reports, protesters actually shouted to police officers riding in armored trucks that the 17-year-old Rittenhouse had shot someone. Yet not one officer grabbed hold of him. Not one officer used a Taser. Not one officer drew a weapon.

On Friday, Daniel Miskinis, Kenosha’s police chief, told reporters, “There was nothing to suggest [Rittenhouse] was involved in any criminal behavior.”

See the pattern?

How does a man toting a gun walk into a “high security courtroom” . . . with a gun. Gosh do you think that man represented the dominant culture and that was one of his privileges?

How could a young man walk down a public street during a raucous protest, with a rifle looped around his neck, with people shouting at the police that the kid had just killed two protesters, and the police did nothing? Could it be that young man represented the dominant culture and that was one of his privileges?

Do you see the pattern?

June 19, 2020

Once Again The Brilliant Yves Smith . . . This Time on the Police

Over at the Naked Capitalism website, the wonderful Yves Smith unpacks the propaganda “To Protect and Serve.” The Police Weren’t Created to ‘Protect and Serve.’ They Were Created to ‘Maintain Order.’ A Brief Look at the History of Police in America

Here’s a taste:

To understand the true purpose of police, we have to ask, “What’s being protected?” and “Who’s being served?”

Urban police forces in America were created for one purpose — to “maintain order” after a waves of immigrants swept into northern U.S. cities, both from abroad and later from the South, immigrants who threatened to disturb that “order.” The threat wasn’t primarily from crime as we understand it, from violence inflicted by the working poor on the poor or middle class. The threat came from unions, from strikes, and from the suffering, the misery and the anger caused by the rise of rapacious capitalism.

What’s being protected? The social order that feeds the wealthy at the expense of the working poor. Who’s being served? Owners, their property, and the sources of their wealth, the orderly and uninterrupted running of their factories. The goal of police departments, as originally constituted, was to keep the workers in line, in their jobs, and off the streets.

 

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