The Way to Authoritarianism is Paved with Lies

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2019/09/437804.shtml

by Jurg Muller-Muralt

Lying is part of the human condition. But democracy is in peril when politicians make lying into a “business principle.” Lying is a second nature for Trump. Trump lies strategically and doesn’t have a bad conscience. For Trump, the borders between true and false have largely disappeared. Liars and bullshitters undermine trust in language and calculable communication.

Posted in 2011 | 2 Comments

The C.E.O. – A Fun Poem

The C.E.O. – A Fun Poem

https://www.democraticunderground.com/1018791724

Fun poem by Rene Sonsmann from the Smirking Chimp.
I love poetry. Always have. So here goes.

THE C.E.O.

The company’s share price had failed to perform
And anxious fund managers demanded reform.
The Board decided the M.D. should be the fall guy
So he left with an eight figure ‘golden goodbye’.
They then set about finding, amongst corporate aces,
The man to put smiles back on shareholders’ faces.

The new Chief Executive drove into town,
The black-tinted windows of his limo wound down,
He toured all the factories and the high office tower,
Before taking control at his new seat of power.
He was a Captain Of Industry, Lord Of All He Surveyed,
Worth every mill of the king’s ransom they paid.

Now, it’s interesting that employers expect me and you,
In return for our wage, to do the best we can do.
But for Senior Executives such rules don’t apply,
And for ten mill a year you can’t expect them to try.
So the Board, as an incentive, agreed to offer the man
A staggeringly generous stock option plan.

Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the guy,
For securing an income so obscenely high.
But as this story unfolds, I hope that you’ll see,
How that stock option plan does affect you and me,
And why the way that executives get their remuneration,
Should be a cause of extreme consternation.

His brief from the Board was to stop the decline
In the share price, which had gone only south for some time.
His first act was, of course, ‘A wide ranging review
Of all operations’, so he’d know what to do.
And with the eyes of the market upon the new man,
A month or so later he announced his ‘Grand Plan’.

While the company’s business, he said, was basically sound,
There were problems but nothing he could not turn around.
There’d be pain, there’d be cutbacks and, it grieved him to say,
There’d be substantial job losses – starting today!
His ‘Vision for the Future’, his ‘Strategy for Success’,
Were wildly acclaimed by the Financial Press.

Now a company’s share price, in case it’s not clear,
Depends, largely, on the profit it makes year to year.
And profit, for those not in commerce instructed,
Is the sum left from sales once costs are deducted.
And from this, you can see, that lifting profit entails
One of two choices – cut costs or raise sales.

To raise sales isn’t easy, certain or quick,
So which, do you think, did our C.E.O. pick?
Yes! He cut thousands of jobs and threatened that more,
Without much lower wages, would be transferred offshore.
The market approved, the share pundits said “Buy”,
This man clearly meant business, he was their kind of guy.

He cut back on maintenance, the preventative sort,
He cut capital spending, no new machines would be bought,
He cut Research & Development, existing products would do,
He cut advertising, admin and sales support too.
He cut workers’ pensions (though not the management team’s)
And all but abandoned the Employees’ Health Scheme.

Well, after all this cost-cutting, profitability soared
The Press lionized him, he was adored by the Board.
Investors were convinced and shares started to buy,
And when, two years later, they hit a new high,
He was on the cover of ‘Newsweek’, Time’s ‘Man of the Year’,
He rang the stock exchange bell, got a back-slapping cheer.

But those cuts, which gave profits a temporary boost,
Gave rise also to chickens that must come home to roost.
Machines broke down more often and caused production delays,
Annoying loyal customers, who had heard anyways,
That competitors’ products were now better and cheaper,
Sales fell, slowly at first, but then progressively steeper.

‘Creative Accounting’ now came to the fore
As honest-to-god profits weren’t made any more.
There were dubious transactions, asset revaluations,
Sale and lease-back arrangements, financial manipulations.
For a couple more years he maintained the façade,
But concealing the truth became increasingly hard.

So the executive decided he’d not stick around
The company he’d managed right into the ground
From here on, he knew, things would only get worse,
So he sold the stock mentioned in an earlier verse,
And left with a profit of over one hundred mill,
Now, who do you think will get stuck with the bill?

It was a year or so later that the shit hit the fan,
So a new C.E.O. had to carry the can
For the worst corporate crash of the past two decades,
While the former chief executive escaped largely unscathed,
The media being loathe to condemn or accuse,
Lest their own blind support become front page news.

The factories are silent now, the jobs gone offshore,
The city’s a ‘ghost town’, where few work anymore.
The company collapsed, though their brand name’s still known
But, though they don’t advertise it, it’s now foreign-owned.
The small investors and workers, for whom life was once good,
Paid the price with their pensions and lost livelihoods.

And the former C.E.O., what of him, you might wonder?
How fares the main culprit of this corporate blunder?
Well, he winters in Aspen and summers in Maine,
He bought a place in The Hamptons, flies his own Lear jet plane.
He’s much in demand and firms pay richly to hear,
Words of wisdom from the former ‘Time’s Man-of-the-Year”

Posted in 2011 | 1 Comment

Beyond NAFTA 2.0

BEYOND NAFTA 2.0Toward a Progressive Trade Agenda for People and Planet

Ethan Earle, Manuel Pérez-Rocha, and Scott Sinclair, eds. – July 2019
DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT (English), 84 pp


http://www.rosalux-nyc.org/wp-content/files_mf/beyondnaftaenglishfinaljuly17.pdf

Posted in 2011 | 1 Comment

The Great Ecumene of the Churches against Capitalism

by Franz Segbers, academia.edu

https://www.academia.edu/s/d9d676c359/greatecumene

“This economy kills!” The pope and the ecumene of 350 churches decry the neoliberal economy of exclusion. The economy serving life could supersede the idolatry of money-multiplication and plutocracy.

The poor and marginalized are subjects in the process of their liberation, not objects of state care. Persons at the margins know their survival is in question and that abundant life for all requires different values and priorities. The pope and the great ecumene of 350 churches refuse to reduce the person to a cnsumer. “A globalization of indifference has developed to defend a lifestyle that excludes others and enthuses people for this egoistic ideal.” (Evangelii Gaudium 2013).

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

From Punitive Tariffs and Trade Conflicts to Economic War by Joachim Bischoff and Erhard Crome

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/09/09/18826110.php

Trump’s punitive attacks on several trading partners, above all China, are changing suddenly into a destruction of the multilateral structures of the world market. With the policy of “America first,” the president wants to restore or develop the past hegemony in science, technology and the military. The wrecking ball is not the only model. Compromise, concessions, and countermeasures are necessities, not weaknesses.

Posted in 2011 | 2 Comments

Sanctions and Double Standards

Sanctions and Double Standards by Fabian Goldman, Florian Zollmann and Hans Blix, August 2019 https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/09/03/18825920.php

Sanctions are war with other means-and not an alternative to war. The civilian population pays the price with their bodies and their lives. Export prohibitions on the most important revenues of a country cause immense suffering. That Iran has not attacked any coluntry militarily in the last 100 years is mostly unmentioned in the media

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

How Dangerous is Donald Trump? by Jeffrey Sachs and others, August 15, 2019

08/15/2019 https://gegenblende.dgb.de/artikel/++co++8e31f44a-be89-11e9-ac40-52540088cada

HOW DANGEROUS IS DONALD TRUMP?

Von Jeffrey D. Sachs, Bandy X. Lee und Ruth Ben-Ghiat
New York University and expert on authoritarian regimes and their rulers.
Bandy X. Lee
is a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, an expert on violence and is chair of the World Mental Health Coalition.

Jeffrey D. Sachs
is an economist and since 2002 special advisor to the Millennium Development Goals. He is director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

[This article published on the German union website gegenblende in August 2019 is translated from the German on the Internet.]

In his campaign for reelection, Donald Trump resorts to his election campaign of 2016: He stirs up racism and fear of conspiracies. He seems more and more angry and confused, which suggests a further decline of his mental abilities. But even without these signs of dementia, Trump is a threat to his country and the world. There are enough reasons for impeachment.

Since Donald Trump was elected US President, psychotherapists have warned of the dangers emanating from him. Trump’s extreme narcissism, his sadism, his lack of empathy and his admiration for despots are everyday. Some would like to see a selfish clown in him, but he is obviously an ubiquitous danger to the world. Therefore, he must be prevented from leading them into disaster.

Trump’s vengeance and megalomania are on the increase

With the report of special investigator Robert Mueller, the dangers have increased many times over. We did not get to see the whole text – just a version with blackening and a dry statement by the Special Investigator, which did not go much further. But Mueller’s conclusion that Trump had not made any collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin has encouraged Trump to return to attack. What makes the assessment of the Mueller report particularly catastrophic is the fact that it considered the detectable contacts as non-punishable. The public was told lies about this during Trump’s election in 2016, when Trump quietly tried to complete a massive real estate deal in Moscow…

Trump will feel reassured in his vengeance and megalomania. For the last few weeks and months, Trump has repeatedly mocked the late US Senator John McCain and did not say a word of regret over the fifty Muslim deaths slaughtered in New Zealand by a white nationalist. To justify the massacre, the shooter as well as the killer of El Paso expressly referred to Trump. But when criticized, Trump spends days on Twitter maligning his enemies. He uses rallies and other public occasions to formulate a policy that sees humanism and compassion as weaknesses rather than basic human values.

Trump’s increasing tantrums may be partly due to a cognitive decline. For example, his ability to form complete sentences, use complex words, and maintain a coherent train of thought seems to have diminished over time. Immediately one thinks of his father, who was ill with Alzheimer’s in old age.

It is already certain that Trump endangers world peace. He has since revoked two nuclear contracts, one with Iran, agreed upon by the entire UN Security Council, and the 1988 INF Treaty on Nuclear Medium-Range Systems with Russia. His absurdly incompetent diplomacy with North Korea is a shambles, and Kim Jong-un threatens a new round of nuclear testing.

Under Trump, the US, the only one of the United Nations’ 193 member states, is opposed to global efforts to combat climate change. The Americans have no rational leadership, while the climate crises increase in intensity. Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria, which claimed more than 3,000 lives in Puerto Rico, was a contempt and neglect of the victims. He also trivialized the huge fires that hit California last year, which claimed dozens of lives, and the floods of historic proportions that have caused catastrophic losses throughout the Midwestern United States.

Extremists around the world are shaped by Trump’s worldview

Trump’s worldview is picked up by white extremists around the world. Data show an increase in hate crimes in the US since the day of his election, including doubling the number of murders by white racists. In addition, bullying spread to schoolyards abruptly, and the number of massacres and murders of firearms increased significantly. The killer of El Paso and the one in the synagogue of Pittsburgh, the “Pipe Bomber” who wanted to assassinate a prominent Democrat, and the shooter in the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand – all of them are examples of the influence of Trump’s echo chamber of violence. During his election campaign, he boasted that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose voters.” Since then, he has repeatedly endorsed violent behavior by mockery, sedition and, lately, a warning that his armed followers could act at his command.

This type of sadistic leader-follower relationship has cost millions of lives in the past and plunged countries into war and ruin. But this has never before happened in a country with thousands of nuclear weapons. Even now, many hold the appeal of violence on Trump, mistakenly for political tactics and not for the product of a disturbed psyche.

Donald Trump was not welcome in either Dayton or here in El Paso after over 30 were shot dead in both cities. He came anyway and again revealed his utter inability to show compassion.

Since the inauguration of his government, Trump has pursued an authoritarian style of leadership and tries to rule by decree. So he frivolously declared a National Emergency to divert funds from other budgets for building the wall on the border with Mexico. He must be stopped before he starts a war, perhaps with Venezuela or Iran, or before his armed supporters resort to violence against his political opponents. The 2020 election could easily turn into street violence at the behest of Trump. This assessment – and Trump’s own behavior – implies five actions that should be taken immediately:

First, the House of Representatives should initiate an impeachment trial and begin appropriate hearings. Trump is responsible for the same electoral campaign illegality that is sending his former lawyer Michael Cohen to jail. He has repeatedly and carelessly broken financial and tax laws by money laundering, wrong valuation of fixed assets and tax evasion.

Congress must protect the country from dangers – and therefore from Trump

Second, Congress should urgently reclaim the clear and unequivocal constitutional right to declare war. Unfortunately, Congress has long since ceded this power to the executive. But the power to declare war, especially in the case of a nuclear-armed force, can never be delegated to one person. That should also apply if the US had a mentally sound president.

Third, mental health professionals must live up to their responsibility to protect the health and safety of society by publicly declaring, if appropriate, that Trump is not just a malicious politician, but a mentally unstable person capable of causing great damage. It is both their right and their professional duty to provide crucial information that enables legislators to protect the country.

Fourth, the media must report on his mental instability beyond Trump’s daytime mood. The real story is that Trump represents a danger to others and not only that he is incessantly lying or cruel and bigoted.

Fifth, Americans must organize themselves politically to prevent another debacle in the 2020 elections. Perhaps Trump will try to whip up the mood by accusing his opponent of electoral fraud and urge his followers to violate the rules of democracy. If Trump is not charged with offenses, everything must be done to preserve democracy and protect society from his destructive rage.

Posted in 2011 | 2 Comments

The Gigantic Chasm Between Democratic Rhetoric and Capitalist Reality

Interview with Rainer Mausfeld, July 2019

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/08/18/18825545.php

Democracy promises the greatest possible freedom from social fear and social determination. Democracy means renouncing on one of the most effective rule techniques: the systematic production of social fear. When those exercising power systematically generate fears, they block social judgment and paralyze readiness for decisions and actions.

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/08/18/18825545.php

Posted in 2011 | 4 Comments

From Ayn Rand to Paul Ryan: Capitalism as Morality

by Stefan Wallaschek, University of Bremen, Blaetter 10/2012


https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/08/12/18825415.php


Society doesn’t play any role in Ayn Rand’s perspective. Rand reduced persons to the bourgeois who only thinks in economic categories and only needs to respect himself – and no one else – unlike the citizen engaged in society and actively championing a de4mocratic process of enlightenment. Rand defended the minimal state against the totalitarian and welfare state.

Posted in 2011 | 3 Comments

House Resolution Condemning President Trump’s racist comments

House Resolution Condemning President Trump’s racist comments, July 15, 2019, 4 pp
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6200155/House-Resolution-Condemning-Trump-Comments.pdf

Posted in 2011 | 1 Comment