President Hugo Chavez Dead

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez succumbed to cancer today at age 58.  The socialist transformed a nation paralyzed by inequality of wealth, the corrupting power of corporatism and extreme poverty into one where income began being equalized providing greater wealth for the people, greatly diminished influence by corporations, agrarian reform providing property to all and an huge expansion of literacy as educational opportunity was provided for all.  He even provided home heating oil to thousands of needy Americans.

Chavez was vilified by corporate American supported by the past two Presidential administrations terrified of his populism and its meaning if it caught on in America.  The right wing made him into a Communist though he was never such a thing.  Hugo Chavez was so popular in his country he was elected President by huge margins even when terminally ill.

He directed vast sums from Venezuela’s oil industry to the people instead of to the wealthy and American corporations.  The country is vastly different today from 1999 when he rose to power.  The Venezuela of then is similar to the United States of today in that the rich held a vast amount of power and wealth, millions of citizens lived in poverty and corporatism ruled.

There is a huge difference between capitalism and corporatism.  America today is really a corporatist state wherein no legislation gets passed on a state or federal level without approval of the Chamber of Commerce.  The Supreme Court has sided with the Chamber 100% of the time, in every case brought before it.  Corporations completely control the U.S. and income inequality has risen to its highest level since the 1920’s.  The top 1% now own 40% of America’s wealth and every dollar of income increase in recent years went to their full bank accounts.

This is why Washington was so scared of Hugo Chavez:  his reforms worked.  His taxation of the rich and corporations funded desperately needed programs for the poor and lofted them out of poverty.  For this the media had to totally demonize the man and they did this very successfully.  Venezuela is a vastly improved nation because of Hugo Chavez and the U.S. desperately needs a leader like him.  The result of our income inequality threatens the stability of our society.  No democratic country has escaped revolution with such a wide gap of inequality.

The Collapse of Capitalism

Capitalism is dying.  Greedy bankers, crooked businessmen and their enablers in Washington have killed free markets.  The conservative dogma espoused by radicals such as Ayn Rand, Grover Norquist, Ron Paul, Phil Gramm and others systematically destroyed the goose which laid their golden eggs…er parachutes.  A succession of extremist economic leaders conspired to deregulate markets resulting in a global financial catastrophe.

Ronald Reagan bought the gun which capitalists used to commit suicide.  George H.W. Bush held it while Sen. Phil Gramm aimed it and George W. Bush pulled the trigger.  

The collapse of Wall Street titans Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns and hundreds of other banks since September 2008 signaled the failure of the concept that greed is good.  That markets can self regulate and that checks and balances will accomplish what strong government oversight once did.  It all failed and American taxpayers were left holding the losses.  To date the Federal Reserve continues printing trillions of dollars in a vain attempt to prop up a collapsing economy.

Too big to fail banks concentrated all of the financial power in seven huge institutions insured by AIG and “vetted” by Moody’s and Standard and Poors.  The new standard is that all are poor except the top 1% who profited mightily from the boom and bust.

Capitalism has always been its own worst enemy with cycles of boom and bust.  Gradually antitrust laws broke up the companies of the Robber Barons, unions sprung up to protect workers, governments began regulating markets to control the severity of the inevitable busts and, economically, things operated smoothly.

Then in 1981 a new president launched the Reagan Revolution.  Drastic and severe deregulation of markets were passed by a Congress pushed along by free market zealot Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas.  Banks were again allowed to consolidate into insurance and brokerage businesses and giant banks began buying each other and forming trusts once again.  A new class of Robber Barons began a strategy to strangle the middle class and seize the vast supply of wealth for itself.  Unfortunately that supply of wealth vanished overnight for all but the top tenth of one percent of the population.

Massive federal budget deficits loomed as tax revenues collapsed, unpaid for wars raged on and additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans were pushed through by the Bush clan.  Inheritance taxes, capital gains, taxes on stock dividends were all either cut or eliminated.  Middle class people were losing their retirement accounts, their jobs and then their homes.  Trillions of dollars of wealth disappeared and no one in Washington cared.  The rich kept getting what they wanted, the failing institutions on Wall Street received trillions in taxpayer subsidies and the Robber Barons learned there was no risk to their riskiest behaviors.  

Capitalism began imploding while the rich began financing a “grass roots” movement to protect their excesses from the evils of socialism.  When a system like capitalism is dying there must be some new one existing to eliminate the vacuum and save the economy.  The capitalists, terrified of the masses revolting, began a concentrated campaign to fear monger socialism.  They told us we were broke and severe austerity measures must be taken.  This was all to save what was left of capitalism and their vast wealth.  America isn’t broke the wealth is simply concentrated at the top:


An evil plot was then hatched to eviscerate the social safety net.  Programs such as Social Security began to be condemned as costing too much.  Conservatives first created a plan under which the benefits would be privatized and individuals could “invest” in the markets.  This, of course, would be a windfall for Wall Street bankers while impoverishing seniors and it died a quick death.  Now the argument is simply that the country is broke and we cannot afford to take care of one another.  Of course that’s wrong because Social Security doesn’t add a dime to the deficit.

What does is medical programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.  Our broken health care system with its spiraling, out of control costs are bankrupting us because of the ever increasing number of uninsured.  As that figure keeps escalating those remaining insureds are shouldering more and more of the cost.  Private insurers meanwhile have transferred more and more of the risk to these same payees.  The increasing financial costs result in more and more people dropping out of the insured pool into the caste of uninsured.  Medical bankruptcies began destroying the middle class then the collapse of capitalism finished them off.

Instead of replacing this irretrievably broken system conservatives began arguing that Medicare is unsustainable.  It isn’t the federal health program for seniors which is unsustainable it is our entire health care system.  Of course the best cure is a socialistic one:  universal, single payer.  Keeping the current private providers this would simply collect premiums from individuals and businesses and pay each private health care provider (so it it’s actually a hybrid capitalistic/socialistic concept) on an outcome based schedule.   This would cut our costs in half, save the national economy, improve medical outcomes, provide access to quality health care to everyone and extend life expectancies.

Medicare doesn’t need to be trashed it needs to be expanded and provided to all.

That, of course, goes against all capitalistic instincts however and is being fear mongered by the richest 1% who now control the media, the government, the employers and the banks.  While their share of the national wealth is unsustainable barring a popular revolution they are desperate to save a collapsing capitalistic system broken beyond repair.  Unfortunately they killed their golden goose and now they are turning to us as a replacement.

Greed knows no bounds in capitalists and their total grip on the strings of power is incessant.  The corporate controlled media constantly brainwashes us with phony facts and messages and we sit quietly in our living rooms compliantly nodding our heads as our fortunes, our assets and our lives are torn asunder by those very same people.  Meanwhile corporate taxes kept getting cut:

Marching like lambs to the slaughter we refuse to challenge this crooked status quo and agree that our retirement safety net must go, our senior citizen health care must go, our homes are long gone and all of the family sustaining middle class jobs are gone.  They tell us those jobs can never come back both ignore the fact Germany never lost lost theirs.  They tell us we must knuckle under and obey, that we must not question why we continually vote against our own financial interests.

To do this they march a parade of hypothetical evils who are conspiring to destroy us:  Communists, Hispanics, gays, immigrants and terrorists.  They blast us with constant messages on the news, talk shows, entertainment shows (“24” anyone?) and print media.  There is no counter message as corporate control of the major media was consolidated during the purge.

Incomes for the wealthiest Americans surged and they now control 40% of our total wealth.  Incomes for the remainder continue falling and the trillions being printed by the Fed will eventually cause rapid, uncontrolled inflation.  This will erode what retirement savings remain for the rest of the 99.9%.  A gradual slide into a feudal society is the result of unbridled, unregulated capitalism and will be the death of it.  Capitalism will die of its own excesses or the people will simply rise up in revolt.  Which will it be and what will be its replacement?  Or will Americans simply slide into the deep slumber of death, another great empire imploding due to its own excesses.

Black Friday

Today is Black Friday so how many of you got up before dawn to find bargains?  Not me, I was warm in bed.  I had one black week with one of my horrendous cluster headaches.  Others also had black weeks.  State Senator Raphael Musto was indicted by the feds for corruption.  He is alleged to have sold his office for personal profit then failing to disclose the money on his financial disclaimer forms.  Then he is accused of lying about it all to the FBI.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was hammered by a jury for money laundering after claiming his innocence for years.  The exterminator was accused of laundering illegal corporate funds to Republican candidates in Texas.  He faces a possible life term.

Thanksgiving was a nice low key day for us.  We dined on turkey, ham, scalloped potatoes and the obligatory green bean casserole.  A bit of football and some watching of old Modern Family episodes finished the day.  I’d never seen the series and was shocked at all the gay stereotypes packed into each episode.  It was a funny show in spite of that though.

Fox News began a war on Thanksgiving this holiday season claiming falsely that Pilgrims almost starved because they were socialists.  As usual Fox has its facts backwards.  In historical reality the Mayflower Compact was a corporation and the Plymouth Colony a business enterprise.  There was nothing socialistic about the way Pilgrims came to America or set up their operations.  In fact the American colonies were financed and exploited by British corporations.  You might recall one East India Company.

There was established socialism in America at the time however.  The Native American tribes all practiced a sophisticated form of socialism.  There existed no concept of “private property.”  No one owned anything, everything was shared for the good of all.  Indians lived this way for hundreds of years and thrived until Europeans arrived and almost starved because of their capitalism.

Many native tribes were maternal in that their leaders were the women.  These maternalistic nations were very peaceful and thrived even in the harsh environments of the southwest desert.  White people starved for glory, power and wealth destroyed them in a campaign of genocide in the name of their gods.  Greed destroyed a lush, vibrant and peaceful continent.  Tell that story Fox.