Tree-Hugging Dirt Worship

November 24, 2012

“Happy Birthday” Copyright Protects Legacy of Plagiarism

I’ve been investigating some old folk tunes to see which ones are in the public domain. “Goodnight Irene” and “The Pines” still sound good after all these years, but is it lawful for me to self-publish my own covers of these tunes, or is a recording house going to sue me into a lifetime of poverty for such bold theft?

The Public Domain Information Project publishes a little list of public domain songs, which could helpfully confirm that a work is out of copyright. “Goodnight Irene,” unfortunately, is not on there. I was intrigued to discover “Good Morning Children,” a song that goes:

Good morning to you,
good morning to you,
good morning dear children,
good morning to all.

Well, I can only imagine that being sung to one particular tune. Wikipedia and Google were able to flesh out the picture for me, no problem.

The origins of “Happy Birthday” can be traced back all the way to 1859. Horace Waters, remembered mainly as a piano maker, published a little tune called “Happy Greeting to All.” Follow the link and press the “play” button to hear the tune.

Happy Greeting To You sheet music

The chorus is recognizable as being much like “Happy Birthday,” and its lyrics follow the same repeating, repetitious, redundant pattern. Waters went on to publish “Goodnight to You All,” and, in 1875, “Happy New Year to All.” What a creative dynamo!

An aside:

Waters ripping off himself probably didn’t look too odd at the time, when lots of music was written through the folk process. To write a song, you “stole” someone else’s song (or your own!), rewrote the lyrics, and adjusted the music to suit your own playing style and band setup. As copyright enforcement became stricter and the public domain receded into the past, folk songwriting has been effectively outlawed. Our moral sense of a song being “ripped off” has even adjusted to harmonize with the law.

Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on my Trail” and “Travellin’ Riverside Blues” strike me as a couple of folk process tunes that no one would dare to call unoriginal, although “Hellhound” resembles Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman” and “Riverside” is a version of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” a song that “came out of the cotton fields.” You can easily find all of these songs on Youtube, if you’re inclined.

The modern songwriting process must treat each piece as original and unrelated to any other song, forged from the collision of beats, chords and melodic riffs in massive high-energy studio cyclotrons, and yet the result is only about as good as Britney Spears.

“Happy Greeting to All”or a variant was picked up by sisters Patty and Mildred Hill, who rewrote it as “Good Morning to All” for Mildred’s kindergarten class. The sisters published their song without the birthday lyrics in 1893. According to legend, the kids at school were so enthralled by the song that they in turn reworked it into “Happy Birthday” for singing at parties.  It saw print numerous times, and by 1924 the birthday lyrics were printed with it as an alternate verse. However, no one can name the person who wrote the birthday lyrics any more than we can know which cowboy first sang “Bury Me not on the Lone Prairie.”

In the early 1930’s, “Happy Birthday” was everywhere, being delivered by singing telegram and even sung on the Broadway stage. A third Hill sister, Jessica, decided that she’d had enough of people using her sisters’ song, and she was going to act to protect it. In 1935, the publisher of “Good Morning to All” copyrighted “Happy Birthday to You,” and even formed a new company specifically to enforce that copyright. The supposed composer of “Happy Birthday to You” was Preston Ware Orem, a piano-playing songwriter best known for weaving American Indian themes into orchestral music. Somehow the deal to protect the Hill sisters’ work included giving up their claim on authorship. Although everybody was stealing “Happy Birthday,” Orem looks to have crossed a line into plagiarism by actually taking credit for someone else’s song.

When a work is published, it is automatically copyrighted unless the author specifies a different license (such as the Creative Commons license, or simply releasing the work into the public domain.) Thus, the lyrics of “Happy Birthday” were copyrighted in 1924, not 1935, and the melody copyrighted 1893 at the latest. The publisher’s copyright and its extensions were not valid… not only because the company tried to copyright a song already copyrighted with a different composer’s name attached, but also because authorship of the lyrics is just plain unclear (neither of the songwriting Hills ever specifically claimed to have written the birthday verse.)

The phony 1935 copyright is now held by Warner Music Group, which collects about $2 million per year taxing the most-recognized song in the English language. Legal scholars view the copyright as invalid, yet artists are not exactly encouraged to challenge the music group and its Goliath parent.

And so “Happy Birthday to You” becomes a glaring example of how intellectual property law can be twisted to work against the interests of artists and instead promote the interests of those who already have some money. Copyright laws have also limited the techniques available to artists, from the folk writing process to sampling, and in their current form they constitute a real cultural attack. Joe Hill wouldn’t be framed for murder and executed today, they’d lock him up forever for copyright infringement. Eyes on the Prize, a documentary about the Civil Rights movement, was actually held back from going to video for several years, partly because of a scene which featured Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a birthday cake.

“Happy Birthday to You” is not under any legitimate copyright. It is rightfully part of the common heritage of all people.

August 18, 2012

Is My Anti-Concentration Camp Stance Unreasonably Radical?

It takes a lot of bravery to stand up and tell the world this, but I am opposed to rounding people up because of their politics or ethnicity, and sticking them in concentration camps. I know that this may place me outside of the political mainstream, into the “extremes” populated by terrorists and morons.

Asked my Facebook crowd:

“Any limit to what kind of tyranny a politician can support, and you will not vote for them? Would you boycott politicians who supported the Patriot Act? Indefinite military detention? Concentration camps for dissidents? Please tell me where you draw the line.”

Received an answer with four “likes”:

“The whole thing is rigged! I don’t want to vote for anyone because they all seem to suck!! I however feel compelled to vote Democrat, to keep the Republicans out of office, but damn, its like you are sitting on Death Row, and they’re asking you,…. how do you want to die? Lethal Injection or the Gas Chamber….”

Really? I know some smart and tough-minded people. Can’t we draw a line at concentration camps? Instead, we’d split a hair as to which way we’d rather die: “I support Mitt Romney for Zyklon-B! Oppose Obama and his one-step incineration plan, it will kill jobs!”

We need to be able to coordinate, draw a line, and not allow our government to cross it. In this world, governments turn against their people all the time. “Democide,” murder by one’s own government, is a leading cause of death in the world. In the twentieth century, you were more likely to be murdered by your government than to die in a car crash OR battle OR be murdered by a fellow OR drink yourself to death. Democide is a bigger killer than tobacco or diabetes. Alert the public health department at your local university.

My source on democide claims that only about 2,000 Americans were killed by the American government during the 20th century, in lynchings, attacks on striking workers and so on. It’s more of an export than a locally-enjoyed product. America, however, we’re exceptional in our own special way.

The police state in America is on par with the Soviets’ at their peak of repression

If, like me, you grew up in the 1980’s, you remember that the Soviet Union was known as the Evil Empire, and we and they kept enough nuclear weapons pointed at each other to obliterate all of our cities and irradiate the countryside for decades. The Soviet Union was Evil because it granted its people no freedom of speech, no meaningful vote, and it sent ridiculous numbers of its people to inhumane prisons known as “the gulag.”

The United States imprisons a greater proportion of its people than any other nation in the world (760 / 100,000). That proportion blows away the EU’s rate of 135  or the world average of 166. It’s similar to the rate of imprisonment at the Soviet Union’s repressive peak (823 / 100,000, or, to be honest, it depends on what estimate you accept, as apparently the gulag did not have its paperwork together).

“Sure, there are that many Americans in jail,” you say. “That’s because Americans are drug-addled, church-shirking moral midgets. We still have more rights than people in those other countries! We still have the freedom to tape patriotic slogans on the bumpers of our cars, and they don’t have that!”

Meanwhile, the FBI is posting flyers in the back rooms of coffee shops, encouraging baristas to narc on anyone who views content of “an extreme/radical nature with violent themes,” such as my blog entry today (tip your barista well). A diet blogger was charged, earlier this year, for “practicing nutrition without a license” for discussing the diet that cured his diabetes. So freedom of speech doesn’t extend to health or politics: however, thanks to the cussing canoeist and his lawyer, it is lawful in Michigan for me to swear in front of women and children. Well, to quote Detroit’s homeboy Eminem, “fuck, shit, cunt, ass, shoobadee-doowhop.” Any freedoms we have, we have because some brave soul was willing to risk prosecution testing the laws out in a courtroom. You can’t just count on your rights being there for you tomorrow, as some prosecutor is always out there, also testing your rights while not personally risking jail time.

As for due process, a major obstacle to rounding people up into camps, government lawyers are arguing in court for the right to kidnap Americans in the name of national security, and stick them in military custody. Tangerine Bolen, a plaintiff in the case against NDAA’s due-process ending provisions, wrote in the UK Guardian:

In a May hearing, Judge Katherine Forrest issued an injunction against it [the bad NDAA provision]; this week, in a final hearing in New York City, US government lawyers asserted even more extreme powers – the right to disregard entirely the judge and the law. On Monday 6 August, Obama’s lawyers filed an appeal to the injunction – a profoundly important development that, as of this writing, has been scarcely reported.

In the earlier March hearing, US government lawyers had confirmed that, yes, the NDAA does give the president the power to lock up people like journalist Chris Hedges and peaceful activists like myself and other plaintiffs. Government attorneys stated on record that even war correspondents could be locked up indefinitely under the NDAA.

Judge Forrest had ruled for a temporary injunction against an unconstitutional provision in this law, after government attorneys refused to provide assurances to the court that plaintiffs and others would not be indefinitely detained for engaging in first amendment activities. At that time, twice the government has refused to define what it means to be an “associated force”, and it claimed the right to refrain from offering any clear definition of this term, or clear boundaries of power under this law.

This past week’s hearing was even more terrifying. Government attorneys again, in this hearing, presented no evidence to support their position and brought forth no witnesses. Most incredibly, Obama’s attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA’s section 1021 – the provision that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial – has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world after Judge Forrest’s injunction. In other words, they were telling a US federal judge that they could not, or would not, state whether Obama’s government had complied with the legal injunction that she had laid down before them.

So what exactly is supposed to make me feel safe from the US government, and its ever-growing system of prisons and surveillance? In what way are we the land of the free?

Gone Campin’

States have actually been shrinking the proportion of people they imprison due to a lack of cash, however, Federal prisons continue expanding.

If there is a huge increase in incarceration despite a lack of funds for such, this will lead to the housing of people in camps. They will not be called “concentration” camps, but “internment,” or “reeducation,” or “safety and relocation” or such. Imperial powers have been rounding people up into camps since 1896, when the Spanish locked up masses of Cubans to cut guerrilla fighters off from the population. Defining characteristics of concentration camps are preemptively targeting people who might  be a problem (as we do in this country by defining broad swaths of terrorism suspects, and even classifying Insane Clown Posse fans as a criminal gang), and administrative detention, aka being held with no trial (which the Obama administration is claiming it can do even against  the courts and the rule of law).

In 2009, Congress considered creating camps out of closed-down military bases, for housing people displaced by natural disasters. That sounds like a good plan, but the bill authorized using the camps up for any purpose chosen by Homeland Security!

Our military is trained in containment and resettlement operations. Consider the problem of resettling Cuban refugees…

In less than a month, federal officials announced as many as 15,000 Cuban refugees would come to the 60,000-acre Fort McCoy military base between Sparta and Tomah.

Officials at Fort McCoy had only a few days to prepare 121 barracks, 40 mess halls, 15 administrative buildings and other facilities for the Cubans. Seven miles of 6-foot-tall, chain-link fence soon lined the perimeter of the refugee center.

About 1,000 military, federal government and support personnel arrived, and 850 civilians were hired to prepare and run the Fort McCoy refugee center, the fourth designated as a U.S. refugee resettlement center. (source)

By the way, the Cubans were not allowed to walk in and out of the “resettlement center.” It only takes days to put such an operation into effect. And, it can be done on a larger scale, as was done to Japanese ethnics on the West Coast during World War II.

I’m not saying that nefarious government agents are conspiring to lock us up in camps as we speak. I’m just saying that the conditions are developing. We’re losing our rights, building more police state apparatus, pushing the economic limits of our ability to lock people up by conventional means,  and on top of that we’re living in a population prepared to accept concentration camps as long as they retain their ability to vote against the party they fear more.

I’m thinking to incorporate an advocacy not-for-profit organization here in Michigan to oppose rounding people up into concentration camps. Clearly we are fuzzy as a culture on the concept that “concentration camps are bad.” The group will be organized, incorporated and ready to roll in advance of actually having an issue to assert. Actually, I suppose that racial profiling, an anti-medical marijuana pogrom, targeting raw milk providers as terrorists, authorizing the disappearance of people to torture chambers… all of these government actions should be monitored to track our progress towards a more brutal totalitarianism, such as would feature purges or concentration camps.

On the other hand, maybe a campaign narrowly opposing only the construction of bona fide concentration camps is still too radical. I don’t want to stir up trouble, alienate my friends, or ruin the Democrats’ plans for new and improved social programs. Maybe I should narrow my mission statement to opposing only death camps.

Jesus F. Christ, I’m going to post about pickles or beer next week.

July 30, 2012

Counterfeit Reality

No one has a perfectly clear, objective view of the world. People believe goofy things because their leaders tell them to, because their language has its limitations, or because the best explanation they can come up with is still kind of goofy and wrong. Our very senses are kind of dim, compared to the full range of possible colors and sounds and smells in the universe (ultraviolet, subsonics, smelling the oxygen. There are shrimp that can see more colors than us). Yet, as a whole, most societies keep their sense of reality in tune to such a degree that life can go on, people can plant and harvest, be born, make love and be buried.

Lately I feel like we are off the rails, like a sit-com in its sixth season. The world as presented on the news, or as many of my dear friends understand it, looks like a sham, a bunch of props. People aren’t just buying into false myths here; they’re buying into a whole worldview built of deception. The world they think they live in is a counterfeit, an intentionally-built virtual reality. <sigh> Yes, it’s like the Matrix or Plato’s Cave.

Or maybe I’m psychotic. The little fake me inside me lives in this fake world, which is firmly centered on the United States of America. This guy believes in some impossible things, because he watches the television, goes to classes, reads media published by the six big companies, and is otherwise exposed to more information about the fake world than he absorbs from his own experience. He thinks that:

The Earth will never run out of resources. (Economies can grow without limit.)
Civilizations don’t decline or collapse anymore.
The serious threats to America are China and Islam. Or liberals, or conservatives, or atheists, or religious people.
There is a political spectrum from left to right, which encompasses all significant political thought.
Science is on the verge of finding keys to all the locks.
Democracy is working. The financial and political elites are working for us.

The Earth will never run out of resources.

Of course, people hem and haw about oil running out, or the rainforest being leveled. Yet, they behave as if these things are trivial concerns, as they keep on driving cars and buying tropical fruit from ex-rainforest plantations. (Well, me too. This is an area where my habits haven’t caught up with my thinking mind.) Most everyone still wishes for the economy to grow, fantasizing that it will someday run on sunlight harvested from deep space, simply free energy which exerts no effect on Earth’s systems. In the meantime, it’s mainly all about burning fossil fuels.

“We have to stop cutting down each others’ trees or no one will be able to build a canoe ever again,” said the least popular man on Easter Island.

Civilizations don’t decline or collapse anymore. The USSR was the last one to fall and now history is over.

Um, we don’t seem to respond to crisis any better than any of the fine examples of past collapse (Mayans, Greenland Vikings, British Empire, Rome…). Obama responded to a partial economic collapse with a stimulus package that his own advisors said was too small to work, which Congress then proceeded to whittle down. Republicans only continued to insist that the government should stand out of the way of corporations and super-rich people. Also, we have no response to Colony Collapse Disorder, the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, oceanic garbage patches, rising asthma and allergies, or climate change.

We’re like that teenager, the target of public service announcements, who thinks that “HIV can’t happen to me.” We think that plague and famine are things of the past, and that war will never, ever touch our American borders again. It’s pretty overconfident, given that our history doesn’t go back so very far.

The serious threats to America are China and Islam. Or liberals, or conservatives, or atheists, or religious people.

So you must fight that enemy like you’re Captain America.

Please do not notice the financial rip-off artists and multinational corporations who drive the race to suck Earth dry. Are Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert the only people alive who realize that the rules of the global economy are slanted to channel money, control and physical wealth to a tiny elite, fucking over all the nations, recklessly endangering our common resources?

People understand that money rules politics, but they see it as “the other party is controlling things through money!” No, the people with money are controlling things through the two parties. If someone is a threat to us, it’s not this side or that side, but it could possibly be the people at the center who wield indirect yet inviolable control over all the rest of us (rigging LIBOR, high frequency or algorithmic trading, lobbying Congress and officials with retirement packages).

An expert panel on CNBC recently admitted that “we all work for the bankers now,” although the clip is unavailable on copyright pretext.

I don’t want to bash a banker. I just want them to stop strangling the world with debt. Maybe I’m wrong, and the center of power which projects the fake world onto our eyes is the miltary-industrial complex or something. I know it’s not Black people, or Republicans, or anyone who would live next door to little old me. This thing comes “from on high.”

There is a political spectrum from left to right, which encompasses all significant political thought.

Well, I identify as an anti-statist, someone who is against rulers, domination and exploitation. I can’t even exist according to the rules of counterfeit reality. Anarchists are neutralized in the newspaper with the label “self-proclaimed,” as if to be an anarchist is philosophically impossible. Anarchists are a notoriously unreliable voting bloc, too.

Both political parties mainly support pot prohibition, blowing off the Constitution, bailing out Wall Street, ignoring Wall Street’s crimes, growing the economy of global suicide, smashing alternative food and medicine, and engaging in endless war. Does that sound anything like your agenda?

Many people don’t line up behind the Democrats or Republicans, exactly. Some people, like Joe Lieberman, are are torn between towing the two party lines. Others support candidates from outside the two parties, such as Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Roseanne Barr or Vermin Supreme. Unfortunately, many who support third-party positions feel bullied into voting for Teams Red or Blue come election day. Most of those who see through the two parties would rather not engage with sham democracy, and do not exercise their power to vote.

The big story, for half of the years, is Democrat vs. Republican for President. As if the President is a Biblical patriarch who will lead us all to glory (or ruin,) depending on who wins the selection.

Science is on the verge of solving our problems.

We’ll use hemp and solar power. We’ll engineer an economy that can’t fail, and tweak the prison and education systems until they’re optimal. An NSA database will locate all the terrorists. Pheremone perfume will help me get laid.

Unfortunately, science is largely controlled by the monied powers that control other human institutions at this time. Establishment science gave us the Green Revolution, based on petrochemicals; a pack of Canadian Amish demonstrated that organic methods are superior over the decades (citation somewhere within Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver). A bunch of hippies contributed to the methods of urban homesteading and learned to apply permaculture principles in different climates; DDT and Agent Orange were products of well-funded corporate science. Science does not hands-down show us the right way to go about living.

My Dad used science to protect GM workers from chemical and biological hazards in the factory, so I have respect for the field. But how many false hopes do we put in to it, and how much has money twisted it up? Science can be used for progress, or its opposite. Science can hold up Mordor or build the Death Star, or help us get along and recycle more efficiently. It’s up to scientists and their patrons, including the public.

I suspect that Internet Q & A and DIY forums will eclipse science as a source of significant information about getting along in the world. I suspect that direct action will supplant representative democracy. But I may be a psychotic.

The financial and governmental elites are basically honest and concerned about us.

In Yemen, my eerily-similar Arab equivalent was recently blown away by a Hellfire missile. He had received no trial. He was visiting some new friends at a cottage when President Obama ordered a strike on the place, obliterating Yemeni Ethan in the blink of an eye. He was engulfed in flames before he knew what was coming.

The Obama Administration reports Yemeni Ethan as a combatant, based on the facts that 1) he is between the ages of 15 and 35, and 2) he was in an area targeted by a Hellfire missile. Score one for the team.

Yemeni Ethan debated the meaning of charity and Islam, whilst American Ethan debates the meaning of welfare and government. Yemeni Ethan chewed khat, American Ethan smokes pot. Am I supposed to believe that my government is going to treat me  with any more humanity than the guy in Yemen?

To speak to the financial side… corporations operating in America are basically sworn to serve their shareholders and only their shareholders, and they serve to limit liabilities and push costs on to others: their customers, workers and neighbors. They view killing me as a possible liability, if their team of lawyers should suck in court.

Screw the elite. Rant against them! If they can’t see reason, fuck ’em over! Don’t live a spectator to the news, but see: They don’t give a fuck about us!

//

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

//

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

//

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

//

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

//

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

//

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

//

//

July 27, 2012

Vigilante thugs keep beating crap out of raw milk provider

Filed under: food, Soapbox — Tags: , , , , , , — paragardener @ 4:22 pm

Last year, Rawesome Foods was raided by LAPD and associated forces. Illegal unpasteurized milk was dumped, records were seized, people were seized.

James Stewart, the retirement-aged kingpin milkman, was taken to the LA County Jail and tortured for eight days for his terrible crime of providing raw goat milk to people who wanted it. As is usual, he wasn’t told what charges he was being held on, wasn’t fed for a day, and generally was bullied into extreme compliance as he was processed into jail.

Then, an Officer Sexton interrogated him, asking him over and over, “are you a sovereign?” Stewart replied “what are you talking about?”, yet he was still given a red armband to indicate that he was a terrorist and a danger to the general population. He was then shackled with his hands cuffed to chains around his waist and to a bench for two or three hours while waiting for medical tests, which he was put through while still handcuffed. After hours of medical testing, he was held in a cell in an empty area of the jail with a temperature around 55 degrees F, with only basic pants and a T-shirt to wear (hypothermia as torture was pioneered by the British Army for use against the IRA, and has recently been used by US intelligence against terror suspects). He was finally sent to his own cell and fed a few cookies. Raw sewage flooded the cell, and several hours passed until trusties came by offering squeegees. After a day and a half in the filthy cell, he was woken up in the middle of the night and sent back to the cold cell for six hours, from where he was finally shipped to Ventura County Jail and treated as well as a common criminal.

Incidentally, Stewart’s family and attorney were trying to find him, but he wasn’t allowed a phone call and officials were claiming that he was “lost in the system.” Anyone who thinks you can’t be disappeared in Obama’s America had better pay attention to that point. Once the local enforcement machine admitted to having Stewart, his bail was set at $1,000,000.

On July 19 of this year, Natural News broke a story revealing that “cops” who participated in the raid had never signed Oaths of Office, and therefor have no immunity from charges of assault, theft, malicious destruction of property, or kidnapping. The perpetrators were nothing but vigilantes impersonating cops! Even the Health Department official who signed the search warrant had not signed an Oath of Office, making the entire sordid affair extralegal. Amazingly, the DA attempted to fend off these charges by releasing Oaths of Office with signatures redacted for privacy! Um, so it looks as if the Brownshirts are exercising free reign over there in LA and Ventura Counties.

On July 27, James Stewart was assaulted, pepper sprayed and taken by bounty hunters. Inexplicably, these angry dudes were driving brand-new luxury cars with no license plates. They refused to produce their legally-required certificates of training and proved what kind of people they are by calling a filming eyewitness a “retard.” Way to take down an old milkman! Was anything about this legal, or was it (another) kidnapping?

You can annoy the Ventura County DA’s office by following the contact information here. Ask them to end their insane crusade.

Thanks to Mike Adams “The Health Ranger” for doing basically all the original reporting on this story.

June 17, 2012

Alternatives to Crumb-Sharing

Filed under: Soapbox — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — paragardener @ 11:27 pm

There is a horrifying wealth disparity in America, where a few hundred families dominate all of politics, business, and even “charitable” foundations. Meanwhile, other folks can’t find any way to make money, and they’re losing homes left and right. The basic, default left/Socialist solution to wealth disparity is to tax the rich more heavily and disperse their money with entitlement programs, or perhaps job-creating enterprises (how about a bullet train?).

That’s not a horrible solution. It’s not always politically feasible, Goddess knows, and there are a few problems it creates, such as resentment from those who don’t quite qualify for the program that would help them, or are too proud to take a “hand-out.”

I believe that much of our wealth disparity problem stems from operating our markets under the wrong rules, and not from some inherent tendency of markets to concentrate wealth. I want to suggest alternatives to sharing tax-crumbs around, just to stimulate some thought. Perhaps we could stop thinking of “redistributing the wealth” (which is fine) and start thinking of “economic justice” (which is better.)

* More forgiving bankruptcy laws. Bankruptcy is available as an escape from total debt entrapment. In 2005, Congress imposed a means test (that is to say, a poverty test) on Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Why? So that those who fail the means test can become resentful of those who are even worse off? At the same time, it required credit counseling before filing for bankruptcy. Hopefully, all of the credit counselors approved by the government are honest dealers. They also complicated the matter to the point where bankruptcy lawyers have to bill you more hours to get through the process.

Congress should have moved in the opposite direction — how about forgiving student loans through bankruptcy, instead of keeping people in debt chains for their entire lifetimes?

* Usury is a crime. Civilizations that have developed banking generally limit interest rates — indeed, neither Christians nor Muslims could loan at interest, period, for over a thousand years. Having no laws against usury is akin to legalizing theft or rape. Credit cards at 20% interest and payday loans at 200% interest are crimes that suck the middle and working classes.

* End debt-based money. A bank makes a loan, and creates the money for that loan out of thin air… however, they don’t create the money to repay interest on the loan at the same moment. The borrower must scramble to get that money from somewhere, which, as in a Ponzi scheme, works just fine as long as more suckers are buying into the system.

Did you know that the Earth is not an infinite space, but rather like a marble in space? All Ponzi schemes end, and debt-based money leads to times of repo activity, such as the Great Depression.

Money should be issued directly by way of the government printing the money it spends, or we could use silver, gold, or kilowatt-hours as money.

* Jubilee. The Old Testament describes the Israelites returning all land to its previous owners and freeing all indentured servants every 49 or 50 years. Lately, a world-wide forgiving of debts seems necessary if we aren’t all to become indentured to the banks, both individuals and nations. Current bank-oriented monetary policies put debt into the world faster than they put money into it. Clearly we need to wipe that debt, much of which is unpayable anyways. Some of this debt even comes tied to austerity measures (rolling back crumb-sharing programs), a strategy proven to make it harder  to pay back debt (because the economy doesn’t grow as well under austerity.)

* Prosecute fraud. Fraud is still a crime. Bankers who commit fraud shouldn’t get a fine for breaking a regulation, or be allowed to sign a “no wrongdoing” settlement. They should be prosecuted as fraudsters, and far fewer municipalities and pension funds would be going broke. Instead, our current government believes in bailing fraudsters out when their schemes go belly-up!

* Unionization. It allows people to effectively negotiate the terms of their employment — working as a unit, like the corporations we all have to deal with. ‘Nuff said.

 

Well, there are six ideas there for making “the free market” a fair market. They would hardly remove the need to sometimes give somebody a helping hand, but I believe that these kind of reforms would make the economy a lot more friendly to the 99%, and lessen poverty and the need for giant entitlement programs. These are just skeletons of ideas that demand a lot of development — of course, they’re not original and plenty of people are working on them.

Sharing crumbs around is not enough — demand JUSTICE!

November 30, 2011

Cornel West on the Blues Sensibility

Filed under: music, Soapbox — Tags: , , , , — paragardener @ 4:35 pm

Right on, brother West! Even the bits that were over my head.

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