Class Warfare Blog

November 9, 2017

We Are Waking …

Check this out “Why have we built a paradise for offshore billionaires?” by Thomas Frank of The Guardian. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Mr. Frank says, for example, “In reality, though, it was never about us and our economy at all. Today it is obvious that all of this had only one rationale: to raise up a class of supermen above us. It had nothing to do with jobs or growth. Or freedom either. The only person’s freedom to be enhanced by these tax havens was the billionaire’s freedom. It was all to make his life even better, not ours.

He is not quite there, though, as you can see from this “I don’t want to go too far here. I know that what the billionaires and the celebrities have done is perfectly legal. They merely took advantage of the system. It’s the system itself, and the way it was deliberately constructed to achieve these awful ends, that should be the target of our fury.

Mr. Frank, with all respect, it is not some disembodied “system” we need to contend with. You must realize that the elites created the system. We do not need to take the system down. we need to take the elites down.

At least the mainstream media are starting to see reality.

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November 7, 2017

Shocking News! White House NRA Spokesman Lies

White House NRA spokesman Donald J. Trump added that if “Good Samaritan” Stephen Willeford had not had a gun, “instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead” in reference to the latest mass shooting in Texas.

Uh, this doesn’t quite add up. At the scene and in the perpetrator’s vehicle, authorities found at least 15 empty 30-round ammunition magazines along with two handguns, a Glock 9mm and a Ruger 22, found in his car.

I do not want to diminish the bravery of the two gentlemen who distracted the shooter, but if he still had enough ammo to shoot “hundreds more” why did he run from two guys, one of whom was unarmed? No mention has been made of any full ammo clips fitting into his AR-15 clone being found, so was he going to shoot down “hundreds” with the Glock and Ruger .22?

As usual the NRA spokesman told these lies in a easy, comforting, reassuring manner, as all NRA spokesmen do. Later he added, “There’s nothing to see here. Move along” and “In lieu of actual legislation, people are urged to send hopes and prayers that this won’t happen to them. In God we trust! he can protects us! Except, well, in schools, and churches, and music concerns, and movie theaters, and … well, you know.”

November 3, 2017

Conservative A-hole Tanks Own Company Because Union

According to the California Today column in today’s NY Times:

“… popular news sites went dark on Thursday after its parent company DNAinfo shut down the entire Gothamist network of city-centric websites.
“The move came a week after reporters and editors at the New York newsrooms of Gothamist and DNAinfo voted to join a union.
“On Thursday, visitors to the websites were greeted by a post from Joe Ricketts, the company’s billionaire owner and founder of TD Ameritrade. He praised journalists who ‘reported tens of thousands of stories that have informed, impacted, and inspired millions of people.’
“But he added, ‘DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure.’“Mr. Ricketts, who started DNAinfo in 2009 and bought Gothamist last spring, had been outspoken in his dislike of unions.“As the company’s New York employees moved to unionize last spring, management warned that DNAinfo had been losing money for years. Mr. Ricketts later wrote, ‘I believe unions promote a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed.’”

Conservatives have poisoned their own minds about unions so much that this, er, gentlemen, couldn’t see a major opportunity right in front of himself.

If it were true that the company had been losing money for years (one has to ask why one expands a company by buying another one when one is losing money, but we understand one has to spend money to make money), but I digress, if the company has been losing money for years, open the books to your new union and ask them to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Closing the company is still an option, in fact it is a big hammer to use if conventional negotiations were to occur. (I’d rather avoid conventional negotiations and instead prefer interest-based negotiations, but one doesn’t always control how things will go.)

Possibly, if the company were losing money, the union could be a source of ideas as to how to reverse that trend. Certainly it would damper a unions lust after better wages and working conditions for its members.

Companies of European origin who set up shop in the U.S. actively encourage the formation of unions as being effective partners in the running of a profitable company. European countries include union officers on their boards of governors, often by law as well as custom. Of course, in the U.S. they run into conservative state and federal government representatives who put the kibosh on such efforts when they occur. We can’t have examples of working, cooperative unions to be able to point to now, can we?

We would like to know whether Mr. Ricketts has ever been a member of a union, or worked in a union environment, or managed a union-based company. I suspect not. I assume he got his information from other rich assholes like himself, who have no idea what they are talking about and would rather put out their eyes than see what is right in front of them.

In this case the creator of the “corrosive us-against-them dynamic” is certainly not the newly created labor union, it never had a chance to act one way or the other. Gosh, I wonder then, what the source of that “corrosive dynamic” was? Hmm.

October 30, 2017

A Viable Way Out of this Mess

I have been reading and hearing a lot of wishful thinking surrounding Mr. Trump of late. Most of the thinking focuses on removing the president through impeachment and trial or via the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

President Midas … er, Trump

Neither of these paths are at all attractive to my mind.

Consider the 25th Amendment route to removal of the President. In order for the scheme to work, a two-thirds majority in Congress of both houses, have to assent and that is after the Vice President and “a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments” have attested to the president’s unfitness for office as I am fairly certain Mr. Trump won’t off himself. Lots of luck with that as the Republicans hold solid majorities in both houses of Congress and most of the members have enough intellectual energy to light a match, so will probably shy away from voting on anything controversial that doesn’t involve a tax cut for the rich or the striking of Mr. Obama’s name from a post office or other edifice.

The impeachment path is even scarier. Gee, make Mr. Trump the center of attention … for months. Oh, he will hate that … not. And who is to say he won’t win? And nothing, absolutely nothing will get done for months.

The only viable path I can see out of this mess is to make Mr. Trump irrelevant. He continues to be President, head of state, head tweeter, etc. He gets to pardon the turkey, light the Christmas tree, etc. But otherwise, Congress ignores him and the military ignores him.

You see, if Mr. Trump is overtly removed from office, his supporters will be permanently opposed to anything we wish to do for the foreseeable future. They will rightly see this action as “not giving him a chance” and a “witch hunt,” etc. Mr. Trump is an outsider to Washington politics (all politics for that matter). He was elected because of that. If he is politically lynched it will appear to be a classic “the Empire strikes back” move of the “insiders” and Mr. Trump’s supporters will feel thoroughly dissed (correctly so).

This is not something that “we the people” will get over easily. I have argued that not only should Mr. Trump’s votes be counted as a vote against the status quo but also all of Mr. Obama’s. Think about it. This deeply racist country elects a Black president? Is there any greater statement of displeasure with the status quo.

The status quo involves the rich getting richer at an alarming rate at the expense of the rest of us. This has been going on for the better part of 40 years and people are really, really (really!) feeling it and they want it to stop. Even if you think that Mr. Trump’s selection had a snowball’s chance in hell of actually reversing the disparity of wealth in this country, that was basically what was fueling his election.

Removing him directly would therefore be a big, big mistake.

The few sane Democrats and Republicans have to get together behind the scenes and get a few things done but mostly they need to sit on their hands with regard to major agenda items as little good will come from their pursuit. Allow Mr. Trump his platform and move beyond him in the next election.

The Republicans will have little problem putting up some other candidate for president in 2020. The accomplishments of Mr. Trump will be mostly destructive (people can’t sue their banks, businesses are free to pollute, etc.) and the claim can be made that Mr. Trump wasn’t a real Republican (by the other candidates, not the party). It is curious that Bernie Sanders got hit repeatedly for not being a real Democrat when Mr. Trump was less involved with Republican politics than Sen. Sanders was with the Dems (who caucused with the Dems), yet Mr. Trump was never attacked as not a true Repub.

Possibly when Mr. Trump’s tax plan goes down in flames, or worse actually gets passed (What will the Repubs say when people’s taxes go up?), the Repubs will be motivated to sideline Mr. Trump.

October 26, 2017

Capitalism—Good, Socialism—Bad … But Why?

In this country capitalism is the best economic system of them all! Capitalism and Free markets, rule, baby! Capitalism is No. 1. It is an essential element of democracy. Socialism (Boo, hiss.) is evil, the spawn of Satan and is a threat to democracy and all it stands for. (Q: “What do you think Mr. Spock?” A: Fascinating. “Yeah, me too.”)

I ask you to read the following before continuing:

The Mathematics of Inequality

“Seven years ago, the combined wealth of 388 billionaires equaled that of the poorest half of humanity, according to Oxfam International. This past January the equation was even more unbalanced: it took only eight billionaires, marking an unmistakable march toward increased concentration of wealth. Today that number has been reduced to five billionaires.

“Trying to understand such growing inequality is usually the purview of economists, but Bruce Boghosian, a professor of mathematics, thinks he has found another explanation—and a warning. Using a mathematical model devised to mimic a simplified version of the free market, he and colleagues are finding that, without redistribution, wealth becomes increasingly more concentrated, and inequality grows until almost all assets are held by an extremely small number of people.

“’Our work refutes the idea that free markets, by virtually leaving people up to their own devices, will be fair,’ he said. ‘Our model, which is able to explain the form of the actual wealth distribution with remarkable accuracy, also shows that free markets cannot be stable without redistribution mechanisms. The reality is precisely the opposite of what so-called “market fundamentalists” would have us believe.’

“While economists use math for their models, they seek to show that an economy governed by supply and demand will result in a steady state or equilibrium, while Boghosian’s efforts ‘don’t try to engineer a supply-demand equilibrium, and we don’t find one,’ he said. […] ‘The model tracks the data with remarkable accuracy,’ he said. He and his team will soon publish a paper on how it relates to U.S. wealth data from 1989 to 2013.

“‘We have also begun to apply it to wealth data from the ECB, and so far it seems to work very well for certain European countries as well,’ he said [..] It turns out that when agents do well in early transactions, the odds are so increasingly stacked in their favor that—without redistribution from taxes or other wealth-transfer mechanisms—they will get more money, and keep accruing wealth inevitably.

“’Without redistribution of wealth, our market economy would not be stable,’ said Boghosian. ‘One person would run away with all the wealth, and it would keep going until it came to complete oligarchy.’ And even if a society does redistribute wealth, if it’s too small an amount, ‘a partial oligarchy will result,’ Boghosian said.”

Now, of course, that is just the opinion of a few, but does that mesh with your current view of the world?

If so, I ask that you entertain a rephrasing of the title of this post into “Capitalism Good for the Elites, Socialism Bad for the Elites” and that is the truth behind our false beliefs.

So, why would we buy into propaganda fomented by the wealthy so that we believed the exact opposite? Maybe for the same reason we bought into propaganda fomented by rapacious corporations against labor unions, which we created to protect us from rapacious corporations? Maybe for the same reason we believe that people who are anti-abortion and pro-death penalty are pro life? Maybe for the reason we believe it is a good idea to deport parents of children born here because we are “pro family.” Maybe for the reason we still believe that if we give the wealthy even more money, it will trickle down” to us, some how, some way, maybe. (Who knew it could be so complicated?)

October 24, 2017

The GOP Tax “Reform” Hallucination

One has to ask the question as to why the GOP thinks that rewriting the federal tax code should have a high priority. The reason I ask is that they have about as sweet a deal for the 0.1% as has ever been, well, since the invention of the progressive income tax.

Gone are the 91% and 70% marginal income tax rates on individuals (the tax rate only on very high incomes). The nominal business marginal tax rate is 35% but the average business tax bill turns out to be only 13-14%. (We have one of the lower actual business tax rates among advanced economies.) The Estate Tax, the tax designed to avoid multi-generation fortune building (money = power, not free speech) is so small as to be invisible (it doesn’t even kick in until you leave an estate worth over $5.45 million).

So, why the intense desire to rewrite the tax codes?

It isn’t the bloated tax codes, the elites wrote those codes. (The majority of the federal tax code is made up of tax perks designed to benefit businesses, often just one business.) It isn’t because they feel you and I are paying too much in taxes. Basically they don’t care what you pay, except as it fuels your resentment over the confiscatory powers of government (those they want reduced, for themselves). They aren’t trying to reduce the power of the federal government, that has expanded under all of the GOP presidents during my lifetime. And if they did want to reduce the government’s power they would do it by cutting spending, a principle they have subscribed to for generations.

So, why the urgency in the GOP for a tax code rewrite for their elite masters?

Oh … greed.

The first words out of Mr. Trump’s mouth on this topic was that neither he nor any of his rich friends would benefit from this “reform.” He then proceed to list tax cuts that would benefit only the wealthy. When this was pointed out, various dissemblings occurred, all of which were incoherent, but a promise was made that while taxes on the rich would be cut, tax deductions would also be cut to make the plan “revenue neutral.” Imagine if that were to be pulled off! Actually you should wonder why that is worth doing.

“So, why the urgency in the GOP for a tax code rewrite for their elite masters? Oh … greed.”

A revenue neutral tax rewrite would result in lower taxes on more income (due to fewer deductions being allowed to taxable income) producing the same amount of revenue to the feds. Big whoopdedoo.

Oh.

All of the so-called “tax loopholes” (there really is no such thing) in the current code were written by lobbyists paid for by the elites to give them, and only them, relief from paying taxes. If they get lower tax rates in such a re-write, at the cost of lost loopholes, it will be easy enough to get their bought-and-paid-for Congressional representatives to enact new loopholes, just for them and voila!

This is a brilliant plan, which is why I can’t imagine the GOP pulling it off. It requires thought, subtlety, planning, and hard work … all of which are qualities selected out in the GOP election processes. (They and their evangelical supporters can’t seem to escape the Theory of Evolution.) They got nobody capable of doing the work involved.

So, I suppose they will try to shove through a “tax reform” plan that blatantly and primarily lowers taxes on the rich and they are likely to fail at that as they have failed at almost everything else.

I find myself cheering for incompetence.

October 20, 2017

The Brilliant Ian Welsh

I have recommended Ian Welsh’s work to you before. This follows on the topic of my post “Everything is Coming Together, and It Does Not Look Good” but was originally written four years ago.

How Our Everyday Life Creates Our Character and Our Destiny

October 17, 2017

The MOTB, Another Billionaire Sponsored Culture Abuse

In a review of the soon-to-open Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. a reviewer in The Guardian said “More unexpectedly, a display on the Bible’s influence around the world makes claims for links between science and the Bible and contains statues of Galileo Galilei, whose claim that the earth revolved around the sun was challenged by the church, Isaac Newton, a devoted student of the Bible, and George Washington Carver, who rose from slavery to become a scientist, botanist and inventor and regarded the Bible as a guide to the natural world. Likely to raise eyebrows, an information panel states: ‘Are the Bible and science mutually exclusive? There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview. The idea that the natural world is orderly springs from the Bible. As the biochemist and Nobel laureate Melvin Calvin said, the conviction that “the universe is governed by a single God … seems to be the historical foundation for modern science”.’”

Many modern Christian spin doctors also claim the Bible as the source of inspiration and knowledge for all of science … but (you were waiting for that but, weren’t you) … you won’t find mention of it in history of science classes. Once again, we must look into Christian history to find why this impression exists at all. There were two famous Christian spin doctors, possibly the most famous of all (although there were others), so famous they are referred to as Doctors of the Church (Spin Doctors of the Church?), Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. The Church “fathers,” meaning the prominent politicians of the early church, knew that they had a handle on the theological end of the faith (although they fought wars over it for about 1500 years—yes, actual wars with millions being killed and dying from associated causes) but they didn’t have levers to control all of society. So, Augustine folded a great deal of Greek philosophy into Christianity for them, as one would fold whipped egg whites into a soufflé. Greek ideas of politics and economics and whatnot became Christian doctrine, if not supported even vaguely by scripture, then by “tradition.” (The Catholic Church is very big on “tradition” as it allows them to invent their own history and then claim it has always been done that way or it was passed down to them from disciples of Jesus, even though there is no independent corroboration such people even existed.) So, now Christians had support for their efforts to control politics and economics, etc. (Remember it is all about control fueled by greed for wealth and power.)

Thomas Aquinas became a Church Doctor predominantly by folding in science, mostly the science of Aristotle, which is why most of the science in the Bible is wrong. The influence of Aquinas on science was so strong that people who subscribed to his ideas were referred to as Thomists.

According to the Christian spin doctor Aquinas, while you live on this earth, you belong to a single natural order, and you must conduct yourself in accordance with its laws. The presence of the natural law in all men also meant that there must exist a community of all men. Aquinas should have patented Natural Law or trademarked it; we still have Supreme Court justices referring to “natural law” for Pete’s sake. Will someone please tell those people that the idea of natural law is spin, sheesh!)

The Thomists then developed a very complex set of explanations that underpinned what had by then become the orthodox definition of humanity. But their basic claim was that natural law was made accessible to all humans, no matter what their origins, by means of what they called “first precepts” that had been inscribed in the minds of all human beings—hard-wired, so to speak—by God at the creation.

These “first precepts” were not simple instincts, such as animals (and humans) possessed. They constituted what were called “innate ideas” or “innate senses.” They allowed humans to see the world God had created as it really was, which meant that they allowed the rational human animal to recognize God’s existence and then to distinguish between good and evil and to act accordingly.

Brilliantly, they went on to describe moral instincts the same way: the first precepts of the natural law, they thought, allowed you to know that killing, theft, rape, incest, the eating of human flesh, and so on were all unnatural. They could be summed up in the commandment “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” These same people, though, could not offer much guidance about all the myriad codes of conduct, the habits and customs of which all societies are composed. They did not tell you that modesty and the wearing of clothes was natural, as was offering hospitality to strangers. This was where reason came in. The rational mind, acting on the innate first precepts, could deduce what codes were natural and what were contrary to nature. The problem was that the further you traveled from the initial “innate” idea, the more specious the idea became. You could, therefore, only be certain that your particular deductions were correct if they coincided with those of your fellows. This “common persuasion,” as it was called, was your sole guarantee, not because the community must always be right, but because God had created all men’s minds alike. Ta da! As we now know, morals are human constructs created to mutual advantage through human interaction. Aquinas highjacks this real source of morals and co-opts it into his faith so that people who know the truth cannot wedge it between the faithful and their faith because they already have a built-in source for where morals come from. (These Christian spin doctors (at least of old, the moderns are lame in comparison), were very clever in making up stuff to please their sponsors and help them control us “farmer-types” for century after century.)

The same happened with the science of Aquinas; it was highjacked for Jesus. Unfortunately Aquinas didn’t have high quality science to highjack, but he did have a complaint culture, one in which “universities” were for example run by clerics, selling the company line every day of every academic term. (Ordinary people didn’t concern themselves with such weighty matters, they were too concerned where their next meal might come from.) It became a matter of common knowledge that all of nature was created by the Christian god and all physical laws were manifestations of the same god. So, it is no surprise that scientists like Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, George Washington Carver, and Melvin Calvin assumed that their god was behind it all, as that’s what the propaganda had been for hundreds of years prior. They have also since been proven wrong in that assumption, but that is okay, being wrong is part of science, we just make corrections and move on. It is a shame the same is not true of religion as this museum is telling the same lies that have been told for thousands of years now.

The statement on their placard “There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview” is a lie. There is no such broad agreement. In fact, if you laid out all of the science in the Bible, you couldn’t read as much as part of a page without bursting out laughing. The Earth is flat, supported on pillars, the stars are on the firmament (a dome over the flat Earth). The earth is the center of the universe and the Sun and other planets and all of the stars rotate around it. Rabbits chew their cud, like cows do. Serpents talk. Disease is caused by demons possessing the afflicted. Pigs can be stampeded by demons. Fig trees will die if cursed. People are resurrected from the dead. There is so much nonsense one is really hard pressed to find any scientific sense at all. The billionaire-funded Bible museum may know their “broad agreement” claim is a lie or is suffering from confirmation bias and is repeating someone else’s lie, but it is a lie.

At one point in time, the church was the fount of all true knowledge because they incorporated all they could find into their dogma. But when real science, begun about 400 years ago, started contradicting everything the Bible claims as a scientific truth, the church has excommunicated, imprisoned, or executed scientists for their contradictions, finally succumbing to the truth, leaving only a few pathetic fundamentalist Protestant sects fighting the Evolution War and Islam, being Islam, yearning for the seventh century. (Note: Excommunication in the mind of the church is a sentence to the Lake of Fire for ever and ever, amen. Its use was coercive, designed to get the miscreant back into the fold but if not, meh.)

And if you aren’t convinced, consider that during Gallileo’s heresy trial, the Vatican’s own astronomer had confirmed Galileo’s findings as being true, but as Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino stated in private: although he agreed with Galileo, if the rulings of the Church were to be refuted by direct observation on this issue—even if it was not, as he recognized, a matter of faith—they might be refuted on others, which were. (Gallileo, then, was just collateral damage, I guess.)

Note: Many of these insights on Gallileo, Augustine, and Aquinas came from Anthony Pagden’s The Enlightenment: and Why It Still Matters (Random House Publishing Group—Kindle Edition).

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Together, Coming Together, Things are Coming Together

My recent posts on greedy elites and education “reform,” led me to Bertrand Russell. (Don’t ask how. I read too much, understand too little, and make connections endlessly.) A book of Russell’s still worth reading is Free Thought and Official Propaganda, written I believe in 1922. Propaganda, the term, had just been invented and modern propaganda, to which Russell refers, was also recently born. Here are a few juicy tidbits:

“It must not be supposed that the officials in charge of education desire the young to become educated. On the contrary, their problem is to impart information without imparting intelligence. Education should have two objects: first, to give definite knowledge—reading and writing, languages and mathematics, and so on; secondly, to create those mental habits which will enable people to acquire knowledge and form sound judgments for themselves. The first of these we may call information, the second intelligence. The utility of information is admitted practically as well as theoretically; without a literate population a modern State is impossible. But the utility of intelligence is admitted only theoretically, not practically; it is not desired that ordinary people should think for themselves, because it is felt that people who think for themselves are awkward to manage and cause administrative difficulties. Only the guardians, in Plato’s language, are to think; the rest are to obey, or to follow leaders like a herd of sheep. This doctrine, often unconsciously, has survived the introduction of political democracy, and has radically vitiated all national systems of education.

Ah, Russell points out the current effort in education reform is to confine public education to depart only information, for the sole purpose of getting a job, but not to get citizens who think for themselves, because that undermines the urge to obey the elites and we just cannot have that. (Remember this is 1922.) He also says:

We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought. This is due primarily to the fact that the State claims a monopoly; but that is by no means the sole cause.”

Russell was concerned that the state, the “government,” as an instrument of the elite rather than the people, might follow totalitarian aims and reduce education to the “acquiring of job skills” or as Russell states, mere information. (The Republicans then current were not like the Republicans now or he would have been running around with his hair on fire.)

Bertrand Russell is also concerned about government by the big lie, fueled by big money.

“The art of propaganda, as practised by modern politicians and governments, is derived from the art of advertisement. The science of psychology owes a great deal to advertisers. In former days most psychologists would probably have thought that a man could not convince many people of the excellence of his own wares by merely stating emphatically that they were excellent. Experience shows, however, that they were mistaken in this. If I were to stand up once in a public place and state that I am the most modest man alive, I should be laughed at; but if I could raise enough money to make the same statement on all the busses and on hoardings along all the principal railway lines, people would presently become convinced that I had an abnormal shrinking from publicity.”

He “caps” these comments with “Propaganda, conducted by the means which advertisers have found successful, is now one of the recognized methods of government in all advanced countries, and is especially the method by which democratic opinion is created.” and “There are two quite different evils about propaganda as now practised. On the one hand, its appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument; on the other hand, it gives an unfair advantage to those who can obtain most publicity, whether through wealth or through power.

You can see that religion does not get off of Russell’s hook (its (propaganda’s) appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument). If these statements don’t describe the situation we are in currently, I don’t know what would. And, remember, he said these things almost 100 years ago.

The public school propaganda campaign has led people to believe the schools are failing (they aren’t. That teachers are failing to serve their students well (they aren’t). That poverty is not a barrier to accomplishment in school (it is). All of these lies were generated by propaganda machines with programs to sell.

Wake up people, before it is too late. The clarion call was sounded long ago. Awake! Awake!

October 16, 2017

The Political-Economic Elites

I made the point in a recent post (It All Is Starting to Come Together … and It Does Not Look Good, October 15, 2017) that civilization was created by elites coercing “citizens” into doing work that then supplied the elites with enough food and more. The methods of coercion were by means of physical force and through religious threats and promises. In our current world, the physical threats are less often delivered by thugs/warriors and more often delivered through politics, that is through rules, laws, and the threats of legal and police actions. For example, the rich think nothing of lowering their own tax burdens and shifting that burden onto the farmer class. What are we for, otherwise?

All of this comes from greed on the part of the elites. Greed causes the amassing of great wealth and then the wealth is used as a status symbol, even a symbol of cultural superiority. The old saw was that the rich were born on third base, thinking they hit a triple.

A classic example is available to us now in the form of our current federal Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Like all such secretaries, she was appointed by a rich and powerful person, and then confirmed by another set of rich and powerful persons (just barely, being confirmed in a “tie-breaker”).

You can find much of what you need to know from Mrs. DeVos’s Wikipedia page:

Elisabeth Dee DeVos (/dəˈvɒs/; née Prince; born January 8, 1958) is an American businesswoman, politician, and the 11th and current United States Secretary of Education.

Her credentials as a rich person are also evident:

DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of the multi-level marketing company Amway, and is the daughter-in-law of Amway’s billionaire co-founder, Richard DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA. Their father is Edgar Prince, founder of the Prince Corporation. In 2016, the DeVos family was listed by Forbes as the 88th richest family in America, with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion.

Since, when describing her wealth they refer to her relatives, we suspect that it was acquired through inheritance and/or marriage, but there is a reference to her being a “businesswoman,” so maybe she has acquired some of her wealth through skill, so back to Wikipedia:

DeVos is chairwoman of the Windquest Group, a privately held operating group that invests in technology, manufacturing, and clean energy. DeVos and her husband founded it in 1989.

An investment group, not a real business, and with her rich husband … so, her wealth was not acquired through her own skill, but like all rich people of this ilk “her” wealth translates into an attitude of wanting to reshape the world to their liking, in this particular case, through education.

So, politics provides the physical force to coerce the “farmer” class into doing what the elites wish … still. I wonder about whether the religion coercion will be there, too. Ah … again according to Wikipedia:

DeVos in 2001 listed education activism and reform efforts as a means to “advance God’s Kingdom.” In an interview that year, she also said that “changing the way we approach … the system of education in the country … really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run.”

Apparently God’s Kingdom on Earth involves many, many serfs working frantically to make wealth for the already wealthy.

And the agenda being promoted by Secretary DeVos? It seems to be the defunding and/or destruction of our current public schools system, which despite the current massive negative propaganda campaign, is working better than ever (the corporate media won’t run a story counter to the narrative that the schools are failing) and replacing those schools with charter schools and educational vouchers. The public schools are being run by the, well, public, so are not really under the control of the elites, so, reform is necessary (Sarcasm alert!). The charter schools can be large profit-extraction businesses, even when run as a non-profit (by paying large management fees to corporations owned by the charter operators to supply “management” and through real estate scams, amongst others) and the vouchers can be used to funnel public funds to religious schools.

There seems to be this hesitance in this country to provide tax revenues to support religious schools. Apparently it has to do with some vague church-state separation principle. So, if the outright support of religious schools (to, you know, “advance God’s Kingdom”—I wonder if she has a particular god in mind, hmmm …) through the front door won’t fly now, then maybe funding them through the back door will work (it is not public money, it is just a voucher).

Also, it has been a stick in the craws of the rich for a long time that they send their children to private schools but still have to pay taxes to send the unwashed children to public schools. The fact that they can afford this without stint is irrelevant; it is the principle of the thing. School vouchers is a way to get the public to pay for their children’s private educations.

And, as good Christians, there is no limit to the lies they are willing to tell, as long as it advances their religious jihad. At least the Muslims had the decency to put this rule in writing for their adherents. Yes, it is allowed to lie to infidels in Islam (taqiyya) and “allowed” in religions is a euphemism for “recommended.”

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