Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wealth, Women and War: The God Card (from 2007)

In the beginning of this report we discussed utilizing the writings of antiquity as the basis for the social contract. We examined this in some depth in the last chapter concerning institutional religion in the United States.

In the first century Rome, at the height of the Roman Empire, we know that the production of products ensured a good economy for skilled workmen. We are told by the economist, that production and not jobs is the key to economic strength today. Some like, Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter, point out that most people in the United States today do not understand the difference between jobs and production. This was pointed out in the June 14, 2007 edition of The Economist. This conceptually diminishes the argument for the need of economic opportunity. It may be just another corporate smoke screen.

The United States, due to the decisions made in the 1970s to kill stagflation (the conjunction of a stagnant economy and a post-war inflationary spike), shifted away from production, and the by-product of employment. How one can build a productive economy with less than a fully utilized working population seems unanswered. There seems to be an outlook which emphasizes that less employment opportunity is somehow healthy for the economy. While fewer employees do reduce cost for the corporations, the whole argument seems a little shortsighted. Where it seems to fail is in the arena of human dynamic and the individual and group response to diminished economic rewards.

Within the framework of the hard line response to the inevitable spike in crime as a result to the lack of opportunity there is a “crime control” mentality. That fails society on a number of levels. One, it increases the need for a wide range of law enforcement personnel; that is a cost without adding to production of goods and services. Two, such jobs are low paying with little to no benefits resulting in the same economic conditions for the watchers as the watched. The resulting effect is collusion between the watched and the watchers for economic gain. We use to call this “corruption;” if we keep it up we will be calling it “standard operating procedure.” This will also push the population further and further away from any additional support of the operative status quo. Those who do not end up incarcerated will be hard pressed to continue to support those who are. However, through taxation, they will be forced to take on the burden of increasing the support of the increased prison population.

The “get tough” advocates are working on the assumption that only a small portion of the population will engage in criminal activity. That is a bad assumption. We are already seeing an increase in the prison population which is disproportionate to the demographic which commits crimes. There are fewer people in the United States population in the ages of fifteen to thirty, yet more people in prison. That shows that the assumption is a fallacy, and reinforces the connection between crime and economic opportunity without the expert arguments of the economist. It never ceases to be amazing just how well we can rationalize the base motives of humanity; in this case being corporate egoism or debauchery.

In the 1980s, the shift away from the economics of production through opportunity was pushed even further in the application of “supply side economics.” In the span of six years the U.S. abandoned two thousand years of economic practices which built the economy from Imperial Rome to the U.S. Superpower. Within an evolutionary framework it makes a certain amount of sense. The collectiveness of the functional social order has been abandoned in favor of a Darwinist approach to economics. We have come to the conclusion that somehow we do not need each other. This shift in philosophy is how we have come to the present situation: wealth is controlled by a few talented and gifted business savvy individuals and the skilled craftsman is left to fend for himself against the corporate behemoth.

The craftsman is not competing against equally skilled craftsmen from around the globe. He is competing against the goods sold locally which are produced in far flung locations in underdeveloped economies. The local craftsman’s CODB (Cost of Doing Business) is fixed, based on the pricing of the local economy. The craftsman from an underdeveloped country, often subsidized by their local government – as seen in Japan, sells his product for less because his CODB is less and the additional collective resources are provided by his government. This subsidization is also the case in China and India. It is worth noting that our three competitors have cohesive societies, and have criticized the United States as being a mongrel nation, then turned around and chided the U.S. for being racist. These countries are not stupid; they are playing on our worse social fears. What is worse, is that our corporations sell us out to them. During a time of war, presuming that we are really at war, would such actions not be considered treasonous?

This brings up another point of contention between the corporation and the individual. No matter how strong, or how wealthy, the corporation cannot continue to function in a way which is considered disloyal to the local geographical social order. Politics will find a way. History shows that the corporation’s will shall be pushed aside for the sake of the combined individual will within the politics of a given region. It may take a generation of living under the yoke of deprivation, but it does occur. Moreover it occurs quite often.

Maybe the concept of the nation state is dead. Maybe, due to technology, we are truly a global community. However, ponder this: did the telegraph, linking far flung communities prevent the Civil War, or did it exacerbate it? Rather than use the communication tool to alleviate problems, the wires sung with stories of challenges and abuse until the nation broke down in utter chaos. The south seceded from the Union out of fear of what the Union would do once Abraham Lincoln took office, not because of anything that was done by James Buchanan prior to the inauguration of Lincoln. The only thing which was aided by the communication technology was the heightening of the fear and misgiving of what would happen. Bring this forward. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. It did not prevent World War One. Nor, for that matter, did the wireless radio. Transatlantic cables, radio, and the airplane did not prevent World War Two. Television did not prevent the Cold War, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and the wide assortment of bush wars around the world. These technologies did make the world a much smaller place.

In today’s global economy we are dependant upon the interconnectivity of people on the individual level via the internet to facilitate the globalization process. Yet, the same technology which has made the world smaller may have sped up the friction between cultural differences. The technology made the world a smaller place, facilitated global trade, but the cultural differences still do exist.

Philosophical differences still exist. Generational differences still exist. Demographic differences still exist. All of these prejudicial differences come into play in the world around us. Our ability to communicate globally does not negate those differences. Just because these differences are taboo discussion points in polite society, does not mean they do not exist; it simply means that that we have decided to ignore the rabid red dragon in the living room.

Many old philosophies dictate specific tribal and/or racial superiority. These philosophies are often couched in proverbs which include the phrases “God’s will,” “God’s law,” “Natural Law,” etc. etc. When there is plenty to go around and there is relative prosperity for all, such prejudices are academic and irrelevant. It is during these times that society is motivated to do away with as many forms of prejudice as it deems detrimental to society as a whole. However, when resources are lean, primal tribal identity becomes a primary factor within a geographically specific location. From this tribal identification is derived the self-assured justification necessary for one group to have, or acquire, the resources of another group, or individual.

The arguments concerning the existence of Israel are good examples. According to popular Western religious tradition, Israel exists because “God” ordained that portion of the land to the Jews. Based on the standard Jewish text, the land deeded to the Jews by God extends from the Mediterranean to Iraq and consumes much of the Arab land today. This would consume Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. This is far more than the beachfront and scrubland which Israel occupies today.

In spite of Arab assertions, Syria was created by the League of Nations as a colony of France in 1922, and Palestine (including at the time Jordan) was ceded to Great Britain in 1916. Saudi Arabia’s existence dates back to 1744; which makes it only slightly older than the United States itself. The argument against Israel is somewhat self-serving. The Balfour Declaration establishing, at least conceptually, a Jewish homeland was made in 1917. The whole region fell into the hands of the Western powers because the Ottoman Empire sided with the Austrians and Germans and lost World War One. The Arabs have no more legal right to control the land or its destiny than the Jews do.

Criminal activity in opposition to a legal mandate is only as good as the ability to gain control and hold it in a negotiated peace. This is something which the Arabs have not been able to do since 1948 when the Balfour Declaration was finally implemented. The deeper discussion concerning what the Arabs did when to whom, and what Israel did to whom when, is beyond the scope of this report. For a detailed discussion on the situation see A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time by Howard M. Sachar.

When political arguments fail, and survival hangs in the balance it is from the writings or antiquity that the God of the Jews and the Christians arises and final authorization and ultimate justification. The Jews, however, never did occupy the amount of territory ceded to them in their scriptures. The current location of Israel is roughly the size of Chicago, Illinois and occupies the same track of land which they held tribally in the days of the Greek and Roman Empires following the last Babylonian captivity period. In spite of the overwhelming disinformation concerning Israel, the current conflict does not date back millennium; it is relatively new on the geopolitical landscape.

According to Western historic record, Israel ceased to exist in 73 A.D. Rome, growing tired of the chronic Jewish uprisings, murdered, enslaved, and scattered the Jewish people. This account is in dispute by the Arabs who held that stretch of real estate from the fall of Rome (Constantinople) in 1453 to 1919. In 1948 the Jews were finally granted the sovereign state of Israel as reparation for the allowed Nazi genocide during World War Two. This secured a westward leaning political state in the Soviet sphere of influence. The Soviet Union, needing friendly neighbors as a buffer against Western Europe and the United States gave Islamic nations favorable status until 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The preferential treatment to Islam remains an oddity in Soviet History. In Richard Pipes’ A Concise History of the Russian Revolution the blatant discrimination against the Jews and Christians is documented; the preference towards Islam is also documented. Islam was given preference for totally pragmatic reasons. The religions of antiquity had nothing to do with the decision. The U.S decision to support Israel equally had little to do with religion. Religion is simply a safe all-encompassing label to differentiate complex political states of affairs.

These facts are, as stated, opposed by the Arabs who controlled the land from mid 1400s, under the Ottoman Empire, to the late 1940s under the French and British empires. The Arabs rebuff that there never was a Jewish State in the region around Jerusalem. Their view, sees the power shift from the Greeks, to the Romans, to Mohammad, and through Mohammad’s obedience to God, the establishment of God’s true kingdom (and one true religion) through the Ottoman Empire. It was an Empire which stretched from the Middle East across North Africa, north to Spain and the Basque region. The core of the Empire lasted from the fall of Constantinople until the end of World War One with the capitulation to Great Britain and France by Germany and her allies.

The occupation of the Ottoman-Turkish Empire by France and Great Britain (and subsequent U.S. influence) is seen by the Arabs as a continuation of the struggle which began with the Crusades. Those crusades, popularized in the peasant class nobles as the righteous against Islam, were triggered by the Arab’s excessive tolls penalizing the Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem and more importantly, interference with the all important spice trade along the silk road from India. Spices played a major part in the preservation of meat in Medieval Europe. As Christendom rallied around the Cross of Christ, Arabs rallied around Muhammad. The economics of the situation were pushed aside, and the series of wars, at least in popular mythology became a struggle of religions.

Once again, the ultimate authority and justification to continue the struggle is God. However, God, and the specifics surrounding God, are used only as a tribal identifier, and it has very little to do with the nature of the conflict. The conflict remains socioeconomic and political. God, or religion, has nothing to do with it. Today it is about the control of the oil resources in the region.
One can leave the existence of the monotheistic God of the Near East and Middle East to the philosophers, theologians and the preachers. The events in the world today have very little to do with “the true living God.” Current events come about due to market manipulations, technological factors, human inventiveness, and the lack thereof.

The reason for the Jewish/Arab conflict is resource scarcity. The first resource is the land itself. The second resource which brings the west into the conflict is oil. The God card is played only to bring in the sympathies of the mass supporters on each side of the conflict.
Admittedly this is a lightly glossed over view of the complexity of the Arab/Jewish conflict, but it is sufficient for the purposes of this report. It illustrates how the God card is played to justify a conflict which is due primarily to resource scarcity.

The Jews traveled from relative deprivation in post World War Two Europe and the Soviet Union, to a location where they would not be prosecuted because of their view of God. The Jews, due to the litigious nature of their own religious tradition, have a propensity to be articulate, independent, free-thinking, and quite adapted to the capitalistic system. It is not their system, but one inherited by the Jews over eons of wanderings around the old.

Money lending in antiquity was considered a dirty business, as such it was one of the business in which the Jews were allowed to excel by European and Russian Royalty. They became good at the business and were persecuted for excelling at the very business to which they had adapted out of necessity.

Hitler’s destruction of the Jews was due to the amount of wealth perceived via propaganda to be held by the Jews. The Holocaust had little to do with religion. It was mass murder to secure the wealth held by a minority in Europe; a case of competition gone out of control in the capitalist system due to the deprivation imposed upon Germany after World War One.

A huge debt was imposed on the Germans, and they were given little economic ability to repay that debt. This economic deprivation created a criminal nation state. In the aftermath of this massive genocide, the Jews pressed Great Britain to live up to the agreement under the Balfour Declaration, and the exodus to the Promised Land began again.

The Jews chose that stretch of beachfront and scrub land because their writings of antiquity deeded that stretch of land to them in the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs. The original occupation took place around 1290 B.C.E. (approximately 3297 years ago). Even that exodus has its roots in the proscription of a minority by a majority due in no small part to politics, and socioeconomic status of the Jews within Egypt.

Israel did offer to live at peace with the Arab majority in the newly formed nation in 1948. The offer was rejected. Where Jordan exists today was, under the Balfour Declaration, where the Palestine State was to exist. While today’s news feeds are filled with the horrible Jews backed by the horrible United States oppressing the honorable Arabs, this is not quite the facts. The Arabs are quite capable of sophisticated propaganda in their own right. The Arabs backed Germany and lost. The Arabs backed the Soviet Union and lost. Now they perpetuate that story that the United States was founded by Satanists, exiled from Egypt, who infiltrated the Masonic Lodge in England in the 1600s.

At some point in the near future, it is doubtful that the United States will be so sympathetic toward the rights of the Arab peoples who live in the United States. Another terrorist strike during another economic slump may be all it takes to completely strip any sympathy toward the Arab population.

In an unfortunate twist of events, the West subsequently became dependent upon the oil resources under Arab lands. Had our technology not become so dependent upon oil the Near East would have become more of a back water on the world stage.

Ford’s automobile was originally designed to be fueled by ethanol or gasoline. The first production engine was a hybrid. Gasoline derived from oil proved to be more effective at a lower energy cost. The same holds true for diesel fuel. The original diesel engine was designed to run off peanut oil. What was a bright technology improvement in the early 1900s has become a source of intrigue and global conflict in the early 2000s.

Ethanol is still a poor tradeoff for gasoline as the off-spec grains used to produce Ethanol are usually reserved for feed-lots. Bio-diesel derived from recycling cooking oil is proving to be a useful alternative.

Due to the amount of income which could be generated in the oil business, the corporations, using their influence, maneuvered the Eisenhower administration into utilizing a resource which was limited and non-renewable. This in turn trapped the United States into the middle of the Arab/Israeli conflict beyond the political games of the Cold War.

The ultimate authority to justify the conflict is God. However, God, if the monotheistic God of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims does exist, seems to have little to nothing to do with the conflict; except as an endless source of disagreement to add fuel to the fire. All the real issues surrounding the decisions concerning the development of the region’s resources are made by men within the corporations based on the capitalist world view on both sides of the globe.

Having attacked soft targets in Africa, and military sites around the Saudi peninsula, the Islamic fundamentalists whose culture is in direct conflict with the Western free market values traveled to the United States to strike at the heart of their economic enemy. They organized their cells. They executed their crimes. They did not hit various religious institutions within the United States. While we have been given religious objections as their rational for their actions, none of the targets were Jewish or Christian institutions. Had the attacks been based on religious bigotry, one would expect the targets to be religious in nature. They struck at the transportation system (the airlines themselves were part of the targeting) and the economic and military power hubs of the United States.

The rhetoric following the events on 9/11 does pose some questions which remain unanswered in the political debate of the early 21st Century.

Who, in the United States, knew there attacks were going to occur? Rumor has it that the Saudi royal family in the U.S. fled the nation days before the attack.
  • Who supported the Islamic Judaists who perpetuated the attacks?
  • Where did the support funding come from?
  • How involved were the local communities (Islamic or otherwise) who might have economic reasons to benefit from the attacks?
  • Since 16 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, what gains have the Saudis made since 2001?
  • Did the Saudis benefit from the fall of Afghanistan’s Taliban or the fall of Saddam?
  • Why was no one in the United States held accountable for the events of September 11, 2001? No one in the CIA, NSA, or FBI even resigned for the biggest Foreign Intelligence blunders since Japan attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Unfortunately these answers are hard to pinpoint. Internal factors have been fogged up because the attacks have been used to engage in global political adventurism. This adventurism is based on cultural, or tribal, motivations of the current administration. It is no exaggeration to say that the power structure has had a quasi-secular, religious view that the United States under the neo-conservatives has the right to rule the world.

Whatever can be said about the current administration, it has to be said that the last four administrations have done a poor job in protecting the interests and safety of the population of the United States. When Reagan faced the terrorists in Lebanon, he pulled out. He further supported Saddam with arms during the Iran/Iraq war. George H.W. Bush escalated the cultural class by placing foreign troops into Saudi Arabia under the guise of opposing Saddam’s aggression. Clinton blatantly ignored the threat and sought to appease the Islamic Fundamentalists by intervening in the Balkans, and doing little to aggressively investigate the rise the Al-Qaeda. George W. Bush used the events of September 2001 to launch a war into Iraq which has no connection whatsoever to the events of September 11, 2001. Furthermore, in the current scheme of things, what rational government cuts taxes as it goes to war? What rational government supports crippling the national economy during a time of war? What rational government supports shifting economic growth to a foreign power during a time of war? What rational government supports building the economy of a possibly aggressive enemy during a time of war?

One of the common jabs of the current conservative commentators is that the opposition doesn’t “get it.” They are right! Many of the current administration’s detractors “don’t get it.” The actions of the Bush administration are utterly irrational, and blatantly criminal. Could it be that the administration and its supporters have been operating at level two of Maslow’s pyramid and are failing to find the needed safety at that level?

Much of the world today views the United States as a greater threat to the world than the Islamic terrorists. While the terrorists are well armed, trained, motivated street gangs they are running out of funding. The use of gasoline, and propane tanks indicate that conventional munitions are becoming scarce for them. This would seem to indicate that they no longer have the support of a nation state even at a clandestine level. This could indicate that the Saudi and the Iranian government support, long implied and never proved, are drying up.

Lacking military munitions, one can conclude some of the actions taken by the United States during this administration are paying off. Al-Qaeda may be hanging out on its own.

Whether one agrees that there is a threat posed by the Bush administration’s actions or not, the perception following the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq can only mean that the United States and the corporations are viewed as a negative liability in the general population.

Case in point: Halliburton is moving its world headquarters to the Middle East. While they are touting that this is a move to better serve their customers, even conservatives are viewing the move as a mean of escaping prosecution in light of the alleged fraud committed during the current operations in Iraq.

Dubai does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. and the current administration is in short time mode as seen with the “Scooter” Libby presidential intervention. Mr. Bush and his neo-conservative cronies will be out of office in January of 2009. Barring some kind of catastrophic attack against the United States it is doubtful that the GOP will retain the presidency in the November 2008 elections. Once again in this political climate a major corporate citizen and a primary government contractor are engaged in activities which are not good for its primary customer, the United States of America, its owners, or its employees.
One has to question if such a move is in anyone’s best interest, or if it is only further proof that the corporations are flawed by their make-up and corrupt in their activities. Moreover, will it create a view in the current political and socioeconomic environment that the corporations are a pariah on the social landscape?

Errors in judgment by one corporation can have ripple effects which will paint all corporations in a dim light. That much, if nothing else, is proved in the discussion on Critical Criminology.
Enron, an energy company out of Texas, has already created certain skepticism about the ethics within the energy industry. Will the actions of Halliburton further diminish the trust and good will towards the remaining Texas corporate community and the energy industry? Will it force the rest of the nation to review their affiliations as well? Remember Andersen Consulting was virtually destroyed when Enron’s house of paper collapsed. They were acquitted later of any wrong doing, but the damage was already done. Corporations do not trust each other to do what is right, but they demand that the people put their trust in the corporations.

Whatever the answer is, one thing is for certain, God has little or nothing to do with the activities of the corporations. God created people. People created corporations. We created them. They are our responsibility.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Mosque Grows in Manhattan

I did some digging on this one. As it turns out the proposed site is three blocks (better part of a mile) away from the WTC pad. In a city like New York, Chicago, L.A. that might as well be in the next state ... or the other side of the world. As best as I can tell it is private land.

The way the GOP is carping about this proposed site, you'd think the proposed Mosque was on the WTC pad (Ground Zero) and sanctioned by the local city, and state authorities. The way the Republicans are chatting this up, it is as if the Port Authority is inviting the Islamic community to build a Mosque in the alcove of the new structure planed for the site. That is not the case.

Since it is on private land, the and we do still have the First Amendment in tact then the Islamic Muslims (read their history, please) can do what they please.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As we know from the 14th Amendment, which has also come under attack by the Republicans of late, applies herein that the state of New York cannot and should not be involved in the erection of any religious institutional establish that is on private land ... unless, of course, the state is sanctioning the established site by using public money, or public land for the building.

On a personal level, as you know, I have little use for any of the recognized institutional religions.