Missing the Point in Minneapolis

Samuelson Econ.jpg

I was away in Menorca, incomunicado, the last few days and hadn’t heard anything about the bridge collapse in Minneapolis until I opened my email this morning and found this letter that my friend, Fadi, sent to CBS regarding its coverage of the tragedy. As is always the case, Fadi has a great way of putting things into perspective. Check it out:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I don’t usually listen to the corporate media news but today I’ve heard Mrs. Couric deliver on the CBS evening news her final thoughts on the tragic accident in Minneapolis that was isolated from the “geopolitical” context!

I am living in a geometric desert where I still dream of a news Editor that will have an awakening by looking at a Samuelson economic 201 textbook –the one I’ve used at the American University of Beirut and which helped me notably get a consulting job at the World Bank– where the first graph was about a society choice to produce guns or butter… Back in the cold war, this graph was made to naively illustrate the difference between the “fattening” USA and “explosive” USSR …

Today, this naiveté was unfortunately turned into a bridge tragicomedy… Back to the Roman Empire, the Emperor was a Pontificus (pont ificus and title inherited by the Pope) – a bridge builder to: (i) reach out metaphorically to the other peoples the Roman Empire was “Romanizing” to develop the economic trade routes and secure the flow of strategic resources (minerals, wheat, etc.); and (ii) build “physical” bridges in Rome to improve the mobility and freedom of Romans…

Isn’t it surprising that the policies of Mr. George W. Bush are destroying both metaphoric and physical bridges… with Iraqis being butchered day in day out without being even mentioned on the news and USers being killed because bridges are ill-maintained here at home.

New Orleans was under water because dikes were never reinforced; cracks in dams are being reported all over the country; and the Minneapolis bridge is just one of thousand bridges that need attention. Please, have the guts to mention these simple choices between butter and guns… between the choice of maintaining an infrastructure that is crumbling at home or perpetuating overseas the bloody and militaristic destabilization of the Middle East , whose aim is to control oil resources.

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35 Comments

Filed under Essays, Friends / Family

35 responses to “Missing the Point in Minneapolis

  1. TheCommentKiller

    great letter.

  2. Interesting, but deluded.

    The same Romans, under Pontifex Maximus, also let their Empire crumble. For the very same reasons as we experience today.

    Wars are ultimately about nothing more than the imperialism of resource superiority.

    Whining to the media will avail nothing, and it would seem that it isn’t just Americans who don’t get it about the failures of America.

    How about some more lessons, ignored, from the past, shall we?

    Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
    Thomas Jefferson

    Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.
    Thomas Jefferson

    Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
    Benjamin Franklin

    If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
    Benjamin Franklin

    Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.
    James Madison

    Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
    James Madison

    But, it is far better to be enamored of prattling moralities, than rationality and logic.

    I don’t needs no stinking history!!!

  3. TheCommentKiller

    These quotes only give further support to Fadi’s point.

  4. No, quit the opposite, they are a detraction.

    The problem is people like Fadi. Whining to the media avails nothing. Spit. Zilch. It is an exercise in moralistic arrogance and self-approbation.

    Change is not effected through words. Change is effected through the power of the people, through active citizenship.

    Which means, taking the instance in Minneapolis, that no one even lends credence to what is said in the media concerning this situation. What is done, if one were to actually realise what is held in those quotes outside their need for validating victimisation is, is that citizens organise, in private, consolidate their knowledge, and aggressively direct their logical ire directly to those responsible, in person.

    It means, getting off your fat, useless, self-absorbed American ass, getting off the internet, getting your head out of the medias ass ~ and making a statement: Under Constitutional Law, citizenry, from whom taxes have been coercively and forcibly levied, have the unalienable rights of removing politicians from office, especially where gross negligence and malfeasance are plainly held to be true by objective observation, and the expectation that their tax monies are handled with the greatest level of efficacy possible, towards the ends that we “allow” the government to use “our” money.

    Jefferson knew this, Franklin knew this, Madison knew this …

    If anyone in this country actually was composed of the knowledge, held by all three of the aforementioned as inescapable personal responsibility, then those quotes would be commonly held ideas …

    That you don’t understand that …. yeah, welcome to America.

  5. eric

    James,

    What is the difference between complaining to the media and writing comments in a blog? Isn’t this all whining?

    Isn’t your counter argument just as much a sign of moralistic arrogance and self-approbation?

    In terms of the argument of active citizenship, actively denouncing the press for its lack of seriousness is a form of citizen participation. The argument he makes isn’t about the state of the bridges, but about the laziness of the press. Of course, this is obvious. But, if as you say, one should not criticize it because it is obvious, then there is no active citizen participation but stagnant and tacit acceptance.

    Yes, I do agree that citizens must vote and remove their politicians when they aren’t doing their jobs. But more than vote, they should participate in many more aspects of political life that are made available to them, as in commenting on proposed regulations (as in the notice and comment rule making procedures under administrative law), and forcing the government to execute the law under citizen suits provisions.

    By the way, I am much more of a Hamiltonian. Madison was a sell-out, and Jefferson was a myopic, agrarian, hypocritical slave-owning anti-abolitionist and French apologist. But he was a pretty good writer.

  6. What is the difference between complaining to the media and writing comments in a blog? Isn’t this all whining?
    Absolutely, that’s all there is, isn’t there?

    Isn’t your counter argument just as much a sign of moralistic arrogance and self-approbation?

    No, because pragmatics and morality have nothing to do with one another. Pragmatics elevate and edify a Republic, morality, as history has shown, ad nauseum, ad infinitum, is the prime culprit of ruin.

    I’m pragmatic, and lmfao at all the hominids and their moralistic arguments … watching monkeys hump a greased football.

    In terms of the argument of active citizenship, actively denouncing the press for its lack of seriousness is a form of citizen participation. The argument he makes isn’t about the state of the bridges, but about the laziness of the press. Of course, this is obvious. But, if as you say, one should not criticize it because it is obvious, then there is no active citizen participation but stagnant and tacit acceptance.

    I didn’t say one coudln’t criticise, we all make time for that action. But, if one is so deluded as to believe that “criticising” a corrupted institution is going to create some manner of positive change within that institution … LMAO … have at it, I’ll be roasting dogs over here, and watching the status quo maintain itself.

    Yes, I do agree that citizens must vote and remove their politicians when they aren’t doing their jobs. But more than vote, they should participate in many more aspects of political life that are made available to them, as in commenting on proposed regulations (as in the notice and comment rule making procedures under administrative law), and forcing the government to execute the law under citizen suits provisions.

    Not good enough, and both Jefferson and Madison spoke out about how the veracity of laws diminishes as the verbosity exponentiates. The law is another corrupted institution, and will not be changed by criticism.

    There was an oversight by the founding fathers, in that they didn’t look far enough ahead, but then, I have the advantage of hindsight.

    What is required is much more lengthy in detail, but essentially, we are at a divide that cannot be crossed by normal means; ergo, we unfortunately require extraordinary means: citizen tribunates, censors, at the state and federal levels, to give the people the power of referendum. What you mention, is so easily and ordinarily side-stepped, not even worth discussing.

    By the way, I am much more of a Hamiltonian. Madison was a sell-out, and Jefferson was a myopic, agrarian, hypocritical slave-owning anti-abolitionist and French apologist. But he was a pretty good writer.

    Further moralisms. It’s obvious you won’t understand this, but what we say of him “morally” in our day, is unequivocally worthless. Not to mention, as an Epicurean, he wouldn’t have cared about your moral judgments of him in his day, or today.

    He was still brilliant, as was Madison, Hamilton and Franklin were both the weaker, but their utility is noted.

  7. eric

    Jefferson and Madison were desperately afraid of Hamilton. He scared the shit out of them. Hamilton was a risk to their little Virginia fiefdom. The US was built and survived because of Hamilton and despite Jefferson who really imagined a solely agrarian future for the nation and hated the industry and the north. In that sense he was myopic. This isn’t a moral argument.

    In terms of slavery, he consistently blocked all efforts of abolition because it wasn’t good for him economically. He was an entitled rich kid who never did any real work in his life, but constantly trashed Hamilton for being foreign born.

    At the end of the day, Madison and Jefferson were so paranoid and distraught about Hamilton’s superior intellectual capacity that it drove them senseless and practically tore about the union. Frankly, as a Machiavellian, I can’t see how you are not appalled by Jefferson and enamored by Hamilton.

    Like I said, Jefferson was a great advocate of himself and a pretty good writer. Nothing more. The history books just liked him better.

  8. Then you don’t really understand the Machiavellian mindset.

    Slavery is an economic condition, and at the time, it was more useful. Empires have always used slavery, the victor makes use of every resource of conquered territory, and humans are just that ~ another resource.

    As far as Hamilton, are we even talking about the same person? Alexander Hamilton?
    I’m not sure what leftist/Marxist book you read on American history but no Machiavellian would find Hamilton a friend of the Republic ~ him and his elastic Constitution trampling; funding national debt through his own self-created “national bank”, or more properly, socialist bank, unlawful creation of a standing army and navy, from forcible taxation. Also a notorious British sympathiser, not a friend of the Constitution, in any manner.

    Hamilton was the classic aristocrat of British styling, and considered dangerous to the Republic, even by John Adams, as well as by Jefferson.

    If I have a choice between an Epicurean and an aristocrat … the pragmatic choice is obvious.

  9. eric

    Ha ha. As opposed to the agrarian commie, Jefferson. Jefferson was the aristocrat landowner who added nothing to society and hated the English so much that he gave the French his full support in their bloodbath after of the revolution. Like I said, the history books have simply been anti-Hamilton and pro Jefferson. It’s the easy sound bite that American media loves to push on the herd.

    Ronald Chernow has a great biography on Hamilton that I definitely recommend. Of course, it did prejudice me much in favor of Hamilton, who although the most brilliant and steadfast of the founders also had his share of character flaws.

    Jefferson just seems like such dead weight, aristocratic fluff for me to take too seriously.

  10. No thanks, Chernow’s leanings are apparent in the determination of his writing being that of sympathiser to Hamilton ~ lacking objectivity.

    In contrast, historian Robert Rutland concluded, “Madison was the great intellectual … Jefferson the … unquenchable idealist, and Franklin the most charming and versatile genius… but Adams is the most captivating founding father on most counts.”

    Hamilton was not the intellectual you purport, rather he was a self-absorbed aristocrat, who intensely favored dissolution of states rights in favor of a larger, more imposing federacy. In short, he was the typical aristocrat/oligarch … and the Constitution and country are indebted to Aaron Burr for rectifying the error of his presence.

    Again, when one doesn’t understand the Machiavellian mindset, they err on the side of moralisms and suppositions. Hamilton was a destabiliser and anti-Constitutionalist. Both of which are bad for a Republic. He was to his day, as Bush is to ours ~ but I’ll let Hamilton have the favor on intellect and let history tell the rest.

  11. eric

    Sound bytes, couz. It’s ironic that popular history has accused Hamilton of being an aristocrat when he was the poorest of the lot, a bastard child born into poverty in the West Indies who never made a fortune. He was also part of the biggest smear campaign of the time propagated by Jefferson and later even by Madison (with whom he wrote the Federalist papers).

    The in fighting amongst them all almost caused the fall of the nation, which after his death, the policies and ambitions of Jefferson (who also conspired against Adams) and the rest eventually led to the Civil War.

    But who knows. I wasn’t there.

  12. TheCommentKiller

    I wrote a longer post last night, but i guess it didn’t catch. Anyway, I have never heard anyone compare someone to both Bush and Marx… that is awesome. Anyway, i am going to steer clear of the super pragmatic debate you guys are having about the founding fathers.

    But I did want to say that i agree w/ James that people need to get off of their “asses” and do something. That being said, I think what Fadi might have been saying (and my understanding is that Fadi is not sitting on his hands, but is actually quite on the frontlines) is that if the media doesn’t get the info to the people then they cannot act.

    I think this is quite true. In 2007 (at the mezzo and macro levels) if a tree falls in the forest it goes unnoticed unless it is covered by the media. And that is why since, at least Vietnam, much of the social change that has occurred in West has come from, or at least publishized, by journalists. Journalists, such as our Uncle Randy, have been some of the main catalysts for social change… even at the micro level.

    Anyway… i’ll let you guys get back to your super practical discussion of which old white guy was better b/c i am sure that will get us all off the couch.

  13. Not everything ends in a mission CK, sometimes, intellects are adversarial, as an exercise, and it is quite healthy, for all involved.

    Cugino,

    Again, your account of Hamilton almost leads me to believe we are speaking of different individuals …

    Alexander’s paternal forebears could be considered a classic aristocracy. The Hamilton’s were landowners and lived on the same land for centuries. The family lineage is strewn with various Royal titles including Viscounts, Barons, Dukes, and other extinct peerages (Hamilton I 6). Alexander’s paternal grandfather, his namesake Alexander Hamilton, was the scion of this wealthy, land owning family with aristocratic roots and titles of nobility that can be traced back several centuries. His grandfather rented out this land in the county of Ayreshire, in Scotland, to shepherds.

    As a way of comparing the relative wealth of the two sides of Alexander’s family, the annual rents that Alexander Hamilton Sr. collected from his shepherd tenants amounted to more than a hundred times the annual amount that Mary Faucett had been awarded in her separation from her husband (Flexner, 16).

    In 1711, Alexander’s grandfather married Elizabeth Pollock, Alexander’s paternal grandmother. On the Pollock side, titles and Royal citations were present as well, and could be traced back six hundred years. The Pollock family standing is indicated in a 1702 proclamation by Queen Anne, in which she declared Alexander’s paternal great grandfather, Sir Robert Pollock as Baronet of Nova Scotia.

    The marriage of Alexander’s paternal grandparents initiated the kind of financial merger that would make proud the most aristocratic Old World European family. Elizabeth’s father, Sir Robert, provided Elizabeth a sizable dowry to bring to the marriage. As an indication of the dowry’s size, it was said to be seven times as large as the annual amount collected in rent by Alexander Hamilton Sr. (Flexner 17), which as we remember, was itself more than a hundred times larger than Mary Faucett’s annual alimony.

    His grandparent’s marriage thus established even further the financial strength of Alexander’s lineage. But Alexander’s father, as we will see, did not let the family’s financial strength, Royal titles, land holdings, or aristocratic status stand in the way of his relentless slide down the economic ladder.

  14. Oops.

    P.S. CK, apparently you missed my statement from earlier regarding the social institution of journalism: it’s corrupt.

    Information is anything you don’t know, which means pragmatically, although you were not previously aware of such, having been informed does not as a default premise, entail utility from that information.

    Knowledge is that which cannot be dispensed with, nor can it be not known, as it is required for daily utility.

    Journalism is information. Journalism is concerned with “telling people” what they feel they need to be informed about. Journalism has no exigencies of fact, reference, validity, or objective truth upon it, as it once did.

    That our Uncle, is made of different material, personally and professionally, is of no doubt. I stand by and behind his genetic lineage. Also, that he swims, professionally, with the licentious, ignominious, deluded and self-serving is of no contention, from a pragmatic viewpoint.

    Corrupted institutions only serve those within, who have want of power and personal gain. Those without, are consistently done disservice by its fallible presence.

  15. TheCommentKiller

    Again we basically don’t disagree. And you only give further support to Fadi’s article. We need more Randy’s (non-corrupt journalists) and less Billy O’Reily’s (corrupt sudo-journalists).

    As far as Hamilton v. Jefferson debate, it is not that i mind the banter, that is what blogs are for, it is just funny that you get all hot and bothered about a letter to the editor that you call “non-pragmatic,” yet you and Eric spend 15 posts on which of the founding fathers was a better person. Seems like a slight double standard to me. Anyway, i’ll let you guys get back to talking the great peckerwoods of American history.

  16. You’ll rarely hear me banter about the “better person” … value judgments are equivocal, and a certain waste of time.

    Hot and bothered? Interesting straw man, but that is rather typical and uninterestingly predictable. Tell me, exactly how did you arrive at that fallacious assumption, considering the absence of both vocal inflection and/or facial expression???

    Pragmatically speaking, you should try reading the posts more thoroughly. This disagreement between Eric and I, is intellectually stimulating, and with neither of us at a loss, the exercise is useful.

    It’s one of those funny knowledge thingys CK, being able to take knowledge and formulate argumentative propositions/counter propositions ~ most often referred to as logic and reasoning.

  17. TheCommentKiller

    i am not saying that your debate isn’t worthwhile, i just don’t see how your debate is somehow more pragmatic than fadi’s letter to the editor.

    ‘hot and bothered’ (which i was using to mean impassioned)… reread your first two posts.

    Anyway.

  18. Utility.

    Fadi’s letter was simply voicing an opinion that if even read, would avail nothing other than appeasing his desire to be heard. Unless the gentleman in question has a position as a power broker or other form of authoritarian leverage over those he rails against … ???

    Practice of logic and reasoning, improves the mental faculties, (executive function, memory persistence, memory recall, hierarchical ordering), something demonstrably useful to both Eric and myself.

    Pragmatics are most concerned with utility.

    What’s to be impassioned about? LOL. Those who read history often disagree about the nature of/agendas of the individuals involved. I was merely stating my position, he doing likewise. We’re antithetical mindsets, agreement is highly improbable. If I was actually given to be impassioned in being proven correct, I would have relied on an authority other than my own. I’m just another non-descript, unseen American peckerwood with a few meaningless words to spew.

  19. eric

    Couz,

    Ha ha ha!!! A total misrepresentation of Hamilton’s family history. Hamilton was the illegitimate son of a Scot in the West Indies from an aristocratic family in Scotland (I believe), but his father was estranged from his family, and Hamilton had not seen his father since his teens. He had absolutely no relation with his father’s family whatsoever. He grew up poor and moved from island to island in the West Indies. His father only contacted Hamilton throughout his life to beg for money. You’re falling into the trap of the anti-Hamiltonian machine.

    Hamilton received nothing ever from any distant family members abroad. If anything he was utterly alone in the world. What could be argued is that he married the daughter of an upstate NY land owner. Was again, though, Hamilton was never heir to any fortune and ended his life with no fortune to pass on.

    What is fun about Hamilton is that he was so incredibly hated by Jefferson and was fully trusted by Washington. After Hamilton’s death, Jefferson and Madison eventually realized that they had to adopt many of Hamilton’s policies.

  20. TheCommentKiller

    Hamilton is the only non-dead prez in US currency.

  21. Eric,

    That is Chernow’s contention, but it is not widely held by other historians. There are questions as to his sponsorship, and who the actor was for that activity.

    Adopting Hamilton’s policies were some of the first steps to downfall. Although you seem to imply a cabal, that is doubtful, there were many power brokers involved in the formation of the Constitution, and until the time of and after the ratification, Hamilton was barely worth mention.

    I’m not serving up that Hamilton was elite by economics, but rather by want of power, (and as with most hominids, knowing his aristocratic lineage, he would have likely built himself to be entitled to such), from his disturbed youth. Which eventually played into his anti-Constitutionalist power games while he was in government. Stating that he was alone, is a misrepresentation, he had made a number of friends in New York, all influential patriots, ergo power brokers.

    By all accounts, and what is known of the heavy social stigmas of that era of history, that he was even involved would lead one to believe there is more to the situation than what we can ever know.

    CK,

    I have no idea what you are on about, but your comment doesn’t carry any meaning for me. Care to elaborate?

  22. eric

    Couz, you gotta love someone so hated by the status quo politicos of the day!

  23. TheCommentKiller

    I was just saying that Hamilton (and Franklyn) are the only non-presidents to ever get their face on a US monetary unit.

  24. Perhaps we should work on that then cugino. After all, as CK pointed out, he’s on money, and it would appear that none of us are …

    Perhaps infamy is a better end?

  25. TheCommentKiller

    No that would be too pragmatic, i mean not pragmatic enough.

  26. Randy

    I’ve been away from this site for some time and am just catching up. Since my name, and my profession, were invoked in this discussion, I thought I would weigh in.
    First, thank you, Ryan, for coming to my defense and the defense of journalism and at least some journalists. I agree that journalism at its best has been a force for good. Without strong newspapers, public interest groups and citizen activists, this country would really be on a downward spiral.

    While I cringe at the thought of democracy without a healthy, diverse media – something that is far from theoretical these days – I have been a harsh critic of mainstream journalism myself. The corruption of the media James refers to is systemic. The media in all societies tend to reinforce power; they are corrupted institutionally. Its more blatant in some societies than others. By most measures, the media in the U.S. is freer than in most nations. But it is neutered by its dependence on advertising and the limitations that imposes, and by its ethnocentrism – the pervasive conceit that we are better in virtually every way than other countries. Ethnocentrism afflicts all societies, but the U.S. has a particularly nasty case of it. That drastically limits the agenda, both in news and opinion.
    At my paper, our chief mission is addressing abuse of power – mostly political power. We do that well. But we, and most other papers, will not go to the root of the problem – our economic system. At some papers, it is a sacred cow. At most others, thanks to ethnocentrism, it simply isn’t given much thought. We are blinded to the possibilities; we lack the context needed to challenge the system.

    Nephew James: In response to question from Eric, “What is the difference between complaining to the media and writing comments in a blog? Isn’t this all whining?” you replied, “Absolutely, that’s all there is, isn’t there?” Could you elaborate? Is this a statement of abject resignation? Is social change possible in your view? In one of your responses, you implied that the power of referendum was the answer.
    Are you doing anything, in your own way, to make the unjust/absurd hominid world a better place?

  27. eric

    Randy,

    I spend much of this weekend getting up-to-date with what’s going on in the US, especially with the Democratic and Republican candidates. I did this through the wonderful world of podcasts — mainly PBS and NPR, but also with ABC and NBC (This Week and Meet the Press).

    My first impression was how much I loved the US media. The analysis and debates were so much better and more in depth than what you have in Europe when it’s election time. This is due to a bunch of different factors, the foremost with the fact that our elections are much less party-centric and are more focused on the individual candidate, but also with the way that we debate.

    But, I also noticed a bunch of other shortcomings, ones that I suppose you would call America’s ethnocentricism. People debated democracy in the Middle East and talked a lot about Obama’s remarks regarding Pakistan and how Pakistan was actually our friend, etc. This is kind of funny because Musharaf and Sadam are perfectly analogous, but no one mentioned this. The were both dictators and undemocratic but who we supported to maintain stability and avoid fundamentalism in the region.

    Yes, everyone wants out of Iraq. But, what no one mentions is that we invaded a country, so it is obvious that there are insurgents. No one sees us as saviours. No one believes us.

    The other that I have noticed, which the press is slowly picking up on, is that the US is really beginning its decline and starting to fall behind. We are something like number 42 in the world in terms of life expectancy, we are no longer the tallest in the world, we are less innovative in terms of the environment, we are behind in education, our infrastructure is aged, even things like mobile phones are more advanced in Europe. We are finally so isolated from the rest of the world, that we risk becoming total has-beens.

    A great example is the debate on health care. I thought it was so telling how the Republican candidates cautioned about the dangers of “socialized” medicine. That’s right, “socialized” is one long four letter word to Americans. But, we are also the only developed nation in the world without universal health care. I am not crazy about the European syle health care in its entirety, but why we ar so stubborn I will never understand.

    By the way, I have free health care in Spain by the government. I also choose to buy an all inclusive private plan (includes basic dental and even psychiatry) — totally cost €35 a month, roughly 50 bucks.

  28. Fadi

    To James

    Bridging the Gap

    I’ve just noticed the exchanges that ensued following the posting of the CBS letter.

    Just to let you know that I went through a 15-year civil war in my country with decisions on bloody civil war and cold civil war being taken from the US to the USSR to Israel, to Syria, etc. without any local say.

    During this time, I’ve been kidnapped, wounded, beaten several times including once almost to death by the thugs that were the marionettes to all these international and regional players…

    Incidently, I don’t have the power to change the decision to go to war by the US because I am not a US citizen but I am distressed by the fact that +-40 million people –that are almost split equally between a party that tastes like CBS-Pepsi-Exxon/Mobil-Monsanto-Northrop Grumman…cocktail and another party that tastes like Fox-Coca Cola-Chevron-DOW-Boeing…long drink– will ultimately vote for a corporate-led Administration that will have the “divine” uncontested right to alter the lives of 6 billion+ people, e.g., destabilize a whole region for “strategic considerations” without internalizing any of the uncalculated effects in terms of death, injury, displacement, lost opportunities, pain and suffering… Ralph Nader is the master of deconstructing these powerful “complexes” and presenting an alternative to this dichotomous nightmare by helping US citizens regaining control of the democratic system/process.

    I feel nauseous every morning just listening to the number of people in the ME and other regions that are going through what I went through in my life… but imported and imposed policies need to be defeated by a rightful willed arm struggle… and unfortunately the poor “Pentajunta” young recruits are the guinea-pigs of these distorted policies.

    Finally, and just to set the record straight, I unfortunately work from time to time for the World Bank (an instrument of the Western World) but I try my best to empower the poor of Djibouti, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen and other countries… the wretched of the earth, who, if they were not earmarked by a global or national strategy for slaughter, have to make tough choices thanks to the generosity of aid agencies between clean water, latrines, domestic energy, condoms, bednets, schools, health centers, forests, … or roads not to mention bridges…

  29. TheCommentKiller

    Fadi, I enjoy your perspective, i hope you continue to write on Eric’s blog.

  30. Nephew James: In response to question from Eric, “What is the difference between complaining to the media and writing comments in a blog? Isn’t this all whining?” you replied, “Absolutely, that’s all there is, isn’t there?” Could you elaborate? Is this a statement of abject resignation? Is social change possible in your view? In one of your responses, you implied that the power of referendum was the answer.
    Are you doing anything, in your own way, to make the unjust/absurd hominid world a better place?

    “Nephew James” … LOL, classic professional, salut’!!!

    I won’t elaborate, my Pops has told me “I tend to wear people out”, betwixt unending verbosity and a “less than even temperament”.

    Abject resignation? No sir. Pragmatics. The lessons of history go unheeded. You may trash me all you like, I neither made nor wrote the histories, but contained within is all the evidential support necessary:
    Humanity, does not ever change its inhumane nature.

    On the matter of social change, one has to know the social contract theory, then understand the fallacies created by Locke, Hobbes, Paine, Rawls, Rousseau in the creation of such.

    That we are unwillingly subject to causal necessity of social contract, is of no contention. In a personal perspective, that it is the prime mover of the abject and divisive that so many bemoan, is not in contention either.

    Under the current parameters of the theory, the fallacy exists that the prime mover of the agent of transaction is “benevolence”, described thusly: social individual enters into contracts of, (agent of transaction), reciprocity with another social individual under the premise of, (prime mover), mutual benefaction.

    In counter to the “grand philosophical minds” that elucidated this theory, one must stake their claim in the realm of objective observation: Is this what is observable, from the numerically significant trend of the data collected towards the conclusion?

    There direct answer is “no, this does not hold numerically true.” Under observation, what will be noticed is that there is an overwhelming tendency in these transactions of one individual to seek to deprive the other individual, not in a manner of being remiss, rather with intent. “Keeping up with the Jones'” “one upmanship” “I gotsta gets mine” “get bent” … interesting colloquialisms that point directly at effect.

    So it comes down: is there a definable starting point, (epoch, millennium, century, decade), where a change occurred, (socially/economically/ideologically), that this can be traced to with specificity?

    Conclusive answer: in all of recorded history, there has never been shown a time when this did not exist.

    Deprivation, (perceived or actual), breeds contempt, contempt breeds injury, (perceived or actual), injury breeds retributive desire, and eventually retributive action. Therein lies the persistence of the meretricious state that prevents any effective social change.

    Not my world, I just have to live in it.

    Are you doing anything, in your own way, to make the unjust/absurd hominid world a better place?

    The cog does not tell the wheel which direction is best. There is an old Daoist saying that fits in here nicely:

    All that you require for change, is that the weighted mass of the world pull itself up by its own bootstraps.

    On absurdity, I suggest Albert Camus, one of the greatest, and most underrated minds of all time. He is far more thorough and precise in his dissensions against railing about the “unjust and absurd world of man”.

  31. Fadi, amico nel momento del bisogno,

    That my words appear harsh and lacking in the emotive “rounding” of some others who frequent here, will not be a point of contention.

    Neither will the observable, all too often, fact that the licentious, ignominious and insidious derive ecstasy from encouraging the suffering of others.

    Life is not “fair” “equal” “just” or “kind”. Again, history tells what was, and again will be, without refutation. This is because humanity derives no pleasure from wisdom or knowledge. The cycle will not end, to wit:

    The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

    from bondage to spiritual faith;

    from spiritual faith to great courage;

    from courage to liberty

    from liberty to abundance;

    from abundance to selfishness and greed;

    from selfishness to complacency;

    from complacency to apathy;

    from apathy to dependency;

    from dependency back again to bondage.”

    PtahHotep stated, (paraphrased), approximately 3400 years ago:

    “I have no originality in my words or ideas, I borrow from the Great Fathers, and accustom them to my time, in my way.”

    Babylonians
    Assyrians
    Persians
    Ottomans
    Greeks
    Samnites
    Athenians
    Egyptians
    Carthaginians
    Gauls
    Britons
    Prussians
    Vikings
    Romans

    ….
    ….
    ….

    How many times will I say the same thing, as said before me, in unending redundancy … history is today, because history forever repeats.

    You rail against my words from antiquity, but I am not the enemy of you, you are, just as I am the enemy on my own border.

    You seek redress of grievances from me, but you are your own magistrate, as I am my own judge.

    You seek abatement from suffering that I cannot give, you are your only chance at peace, as only I can save myself from this war.

    You seek the rectifications of humanities ills in my eyes, but in your blindness, you don’t see that only you hold your one chance at a cure, as I am the only one who can administer the medications to my mind, in utter darkness.

    You wait for me, and all of humanity, to call forth the Messiah of God, to lift away the wrongs of eternity, yet you have read so many words of so many great minds that you have forgotten the only “God”, is the one you make of yourself, as I have certainly forgotten that I was greater in “not being” than I will ever be “in being”.

    But sadly, in all that mindless poetic fucking bullshit, there is one objective truth: humanity will never learn to use the wisdom given it from the epochs, by age after age of repetitive error, to make poetry, reality.

    Let absurdity reign.

  32. Fadi

    GAO Wake Up Call in the Financial Times

    Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned

    By Jeremy Grant in Washington

    08/14/07 The US government is on a ‘burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned.

    David Walker, comptroller general of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future in a report that lays out what he called “chilling long-term simulations”.

    These include “dramatic” tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt.

    Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”.

    “Sound familiar?” Mr Walker said. “In my view, it’s time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time.”

    Mr Walker’s views carry weight because he is a non-partisan figure in charge of the Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of the US Congress.
    While most of its studies are commissioned by legislators, about 10 per cent – such as the one containing his latest warnings – are initiated by the comptroller general himself.

    In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Walker said he had mentioned some of the issues before but now wanted to “turn up the volume”. Some of them were too sensitive for others in government to “have their name associated with”.

    “I’m trying to sound an alarm and issue a wake-up call,” he said. “As comptroller general I’ve got an ability to look longer-range and take on issues that others may be hesitant, and in many cases may not be in a position, to take on.

    “One of the concerns is obviously we are a great country but we face major sustainability challenges that we are not taking seriously enough,” said Mr Walker, who was appointed during the Clinton administration to the post, which carries a 15-year term.

    The fiscal imbalance meant the US was “on a path toward an explosion of debt”.

    “With the looming retirement of baby boomers, spiralling healthcare costs, plummeting savings rates and increasing reliance on foreign lenders, we face unprecedented fiscal risks,” said Mr Walker, a former senior executive at PwC auditing firm.

    Current US policy on education, energy, the environment, immigration and Iraq also was on an “unsustainable path”.

    “Our very prosperity is placing greater demands on our physical infrastructure. Billions of dollars will be needed to modernise everything from highways and airports to water and sewage systems. The recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis was a sobering wake-up call.”

    Mr Walker said he would offer to brief the would-be presidential candidates next spring.

    “They need to make fiscal responsibility and inter-generational equity one of their top priorities. If they do, I think we have a chance to turn this around but if they don’t, I think the risk of a serious crisis rises considerably”.

  33. As if any lucid and objective mind would argue those facts.

    Who wants to take bets that nothing changes?

    I’ve got a twenty on the status quo.

  34. A great example is the debate on health care. I thought it was so telling how the Republican candidates cautioned about the dangers of “socialized” medicine. That’s right, “socialized” is one long four letter word to Americans. But, we are also the only developed nation in the world without universal health care. I am not crazy about the European syle health care in its entirety, but why we ar so stubborn I will never understand.

    By the way, I have free health care in Spain by the government. I also choose to buy an all inclusive private plan (includes basic dental and even psychiatry) — totally cost €35 a month, roughly 50 bucks.

    These types of commentaries never fail to amuse me, the lack of objectivity most prevalent.

    Comparatively, the area occupied by Spain is slightly more than twice the size of the state of Oregon, an area of 504,782 sq km (194,897 sq mi)

    Total inhabitants from 2005 census: 43.6 million

    At 3.7 million square miles (9.6 million km²) and with 310 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and third largest by land area and population.

    Legislating two states with 43 million people is far easier than doing so equally to the third largest country in the world.

    The cost differential, especially when one is objective enough to include all the corruption that will rot out a large percentage of the monies of a socialised system, is catastrophically enormous.

    Far be it from me to dissuade one from nonobjective conjecture. We already are approaching a smoldering funeral pyre of an economy … sure, let’s dump some jet fuel on it …

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