Understanding history | Tom Dispatch | Lewis Lapham “The Rule of Money”

I sense that this is one of the most important sources of information I have come upon. Therefore, I’m putting it out there, a reprint of a reprint. Realizing that there is much to learn and re member from history, and my previous blog mentioning Franklin D. Roosevelt as an example of an American leader when those with honesty and integrity still existed. This reading should be mandatory!

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175595/95/

“Good intentions, like mother’s milk, are a perishable commodity. As wealth accumulates, men decay, and sooner or later an aristocracy that once might have aspired to an ideal of wisdom and virtue goes rancid in the sun, becomes an oligarchy distinguished by a character that Aristotle likened to that of “the prosperous fool” — its members so besotted by their faith in money that “they therefore imagine there is nothing that it cannot buy.
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What Paine had meant by the community of common interest found voice and form in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, in the fighting of World War II by a citizen army willing and able to perform what Machiavelli would have recognized as acts of public conscience.
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During the middle years of the twentieth century, America at times showed itself deserving of what Albert Camus named as a place “where the single word liberty makes hearts beat faster,” the emotion present and accounted for in the passage of the Social Security Act, in the mounting of the anti-Vietnam War and civil rights movements, in the promise of LBJ’s Great Society. But that was long ago and in another country, and instead of making hearts beat faster, the word liberty in America’s currently reactionary scheme of things slows the pulse and chills the blood.

Ronald Reagan’s new Morning in America brought with it in the early 1980s the second coming of a gilded age more swinish than the first, and as the country continues to divide ever more obviously into a nation of the rich and a nation of the poor, the fictions of unity and democratic intent lose their capacity to command belief. If by the time Bill Clinton had settled comfortably into the White House it was no longer possible to pretend that everybody was as equal as everybody else, it was clear that all things bright and beautiful were to be associated with the word private, terminal squalor and toxic waste with the word public.

The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas. Their anxious and spendthrift company bears the mark of oligarchy ridden with the disease diagnosed by the ancient Greeks as pleonexia, the appetite for more of everything — more McMansions, more defense contracts, more beachfront, more tax subsidy, more prosperous fools.
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A Government That Sets Itself Above the Law

The hostile intent has been conscientiously sustained over the last 30 years, no matter which party is in control of Congress or the White House, and no matter what the issue immediately at hand — the environment or the debt, defense spending or campaign-finance reform. The concentrations of wealth and power express their fear and suspicion of the American people with a concerted effort to restrict their liberties, letting fall into disrepair nearly all of the infrastructure — roads, water systems, schools, power plants, bridges, hospitals — that provides the country with the foundation of its common enterprise.”

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Paul Heise Professor Economics | A Happy New Year is your proactive responsibility |

Having not lived in the United States for a while, I’m not familiar with this writer nor his column, yet the contents of his words reverberated. Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College. This was published in the Opinion section of the Lebanon Daily News, January 5th, 2012. He suggests that Americans let go of their fears and apprehension, and open their minds to seizing new opportunities; through actively taking proactive steps and taking responsibility for creating the life that we want, to once again set examples for the world to follow!

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A happy new year, if we will work at it

By PAUL HEISE

The new year is a good time to seek out and celebrate the opportunities that life presents us.

The actual happiness of this new year will depend not on fate or accident but on how we respond to the opportunities we face. The opportunities are there, and we face a bright future so long as we do not panic and retreat into fear.

Certainly, our highest hopes flow from the physical sciences because they are the base of the technology that sustains us. The theoretical scientists, working in real time, promise new worlds as yet undreamed of.

For example, in biology, DNA research offers the opportunity to change the very nature of humanity. In physics, the search for the boson particle offers us the excitement of a possible fifth dimension. These opportunities are so stunning that they are and should be frightening.

America as a nation spends huge sums on scientific research. While too much of that is military, a lot does spill over to the private sector. Advances in robotics in regard to artificial limbs have been applied to the general population. GPS technology is good for more than just smart bombs targeting terrorists. Similarly, drone technology has been applied to rescue people as well as to slaughter them.

Managing these technologies promises a future of both jobs and wealth, if we are willing to spend the research money directly on domestic needs.

Technically and economically, the world can produce enough to feed, clothe, house, medicate and educate to a reasonable middle-class standard. The only problems in the way of that are political. The 30-year stagnation of the wages of the middle-class and therefore much of our poverty are not accidental. They are the result of class warfare.

We now live in a plutocracy, government by the wealthy, with extremes of inequality in wealth and income not seen for more than 80 years. These inequalities are also the underlying cause of our current depression.

America will get a growing, prosperous economy in 2012 only if we give the middle-class a wage increase commensurate with their increased productivity.

If we want to have a prosperous new year, we must put our political house in order. The financial sector does not have a right to the money it stole or the political power it purchased with that money. We need to demand accountability for the criminal behavior of bank presidents and not just crack addicts.
Our Constitution and all of our universal and unalienable rights, especially freedom from warrantless search and seizure, must be defended and not given up because we are afraid. Corporations have limited liability, uncontrolled size and immortality; no person I know has any of those attributes.
The tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement agree on at least this much, so the country is surely ready to fight those battles. Coordinated SWAT team action and pepper spray should not deter us.

America is still the most powerful cultural force for good in the world, and politically the world is going our way despite what you hear.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, with its attack on income inequality, was quickly copied across the developed world. Divergent forms of democratic capitalism are emerging and being welcomed. The repressive aspects of Chinese state capitalism are being challenged by the Chinese people themselves. India’s combination of socialism and capitalism is still emerging. Latin America is quietly slipping free of the IMF and North American corporate control. A democratic Arab Spring is outperforming militant Islamism. Across the world, the creation and spreading of wealth is becoming more important than political ideology.

If we revive the middle class here at home and reach out to others, we will have a great year, and the world will go along. Instead of projecting power in the Far East with aircraft carriers, we will share with China the development of an emerging Southeast Asia. Instead of threatening Iran, we will recognize its natural position as a leader in the Middle East. Instead of fighting the world consensus on global climate change, we will be leading the repair of the planet. Instead of fearing science, we will complete that stalled particle accelerator down in Texas. Instead of closing our borders and our hearts, we will open them so we are still the land of the free.

List your own favorite tasks, and we will all have a daunting but exciting agenda.

America and the world face the prospect of a prosperous and peaceful world. But America is still the only country that can lead us all forward. If we succumb to a bickering fear – of technology, of dark-skinned people, of ourselves – we will not lead.

Let’s look at the new year not just as a gift of opportunity but as a task to be accomplished. Then it will be a really happy new year!
A resident of Mt. Gretna, Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College. His column appears every other Thursday. He maintains past columns and can be reached through his blog, paulheise.blogspot.com.